Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Reader Beware...

Just a small disclaimer... this isn't a very "clean" post, so if you have a weak stomach, it's best you move on.

There. Now you can't say I didn't warn you.

Lilly gets diarrhea ALL the time. (Like how I dove right in?) I've tried to tie it to something, but have failed miserably. I think it is related to her heat cycle, but I'm the jury is still out on that one. Last year, she had diarrhea pretty much all summer long. I had the vet out a couple of times and we found nothing. No worms, no abnormal blood work, nothing. We tried a power pack worming deal, gave her antibiotics, SMZs, probiotics, and I even put her on daily dewormer hoping it would help. Because she had it continuously, we decided it wasn't related to her heat cycle either. We tried moving her to a new pasture thinking maybe there was something out there she was eating that was disagreeing with her. Nothing helped. I ended up 'giving up' because she seemed fine other than the diarrhea. She was well hydrated and eating fine, so we took a wait and see approach. There were many days where I couldn't ride because her poor little butt cheeks were so red and tender from having manure sitting on it all day. I had to wash her entire back end, along with her tail, every single day. Then I coated it with Desitin to give her some relief. It was awful.

It was a really hot summer here last year. I was starting to think that maybe her body couldn't handle the heat, so I toyed with different sheets and creative ways to keep her cool. Where I board, there aren't any stalls. It's all pasture board, or I would have tried putting her in a stall with a fan. I was starting to think I was going to have to move her to a different barn and try the stall idea. But by that time, fall had arrived and one day the diarrhea was gone. It just disappeared... poof. Gone. So I never really found out what it was. Was she in heat the entire summer? Was it too hot for her? Or was it something else? The world may never know.

So fast forward to this year... She was a little runny earlier this year. It wasn't bad enough that it coated her entire hind end and legs, though and it wasn't every day. Every now and then, though, it would be pretty bad and I'd have to wash her off. It seemed to be the worst when we had hot spells. It also seemed to be around the time I thought she was in heat.

On a side note, Lilly has never been one to show heat. I might see her out in the pasture 'winking' at Ricochet sometimes, but she's not crabby or anything. Once she's out of the pasture, you'd never know she was in heat. She's always a good girl.

I should have been taking notes on when she had diarrhea, but I was gone so much this year that keeping track would have been tough. Perhaps next year I'll be prepared and I can keep track to see if it's related to her heat cycle.

So my point here is, she's been having bad diarrhea again the past couple weeks. I was gone this weekend but when I went to ride yesterday, she was coated in manure and I had to bathe her hind end and wash her tail. It looked like it had been sitting on her skin for a couple of days because even her legs in spots were pink and tender. I never ride her when she's like that because I imagine the friction from being forced to trot/canter around the ring would be very uncomfortable for her. So she gets washed up and Desitin-ized and that's it.

I feel so bad for her!! If it is heat cycle related, is there anything I can do? If it something else is there a way I can prevent it? If she can't handle the heat, what do I do? It just seems impossible to fix because I don't really know why it is happening, and even with all of the scenarios, I can't think of anything to try that my vet and I haven't tried already.

Forget doing a google search, too, because if you type in 'mare' and 'diarrhea' you'll get a thousand hits on foal heat diarrhea. She doesn't have a foal!

So I'm really just venting, unless anyone has any ideas. I'm hoping once fall gets here and she perhaps stops cycling or the weather cools off, the diarrhea will go away. I'm sure I have next year to look forward to, though...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Still Pondering...

I've been through every possible scenario in my head about how to make spending $350 at this show sound like a good idea. I really have... Even my boyfriend has decided to chip in $100 just to help me out and enable me to go to this show with a clear conscience. He's such wonderful boyfriend... so understanding and easy going.

Then, this morning it hit me! My horses are getting fall shots and coggins on Friday. Lilly's coggins was only good until this past Sunday, so if I don't get the results by next Friday, I can't go. And really, I'll need to have them by Thursday because the plan would have been to go right from work on Friday to the barn to get Lilly. That means it's really out of my hands.

I doubt they'll be here on Thursday...

Now maybe I can get some sleep...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I Love This Blog

Whenever I'm pondering ideas, frustrated about something, or happy about something else, I can come here and type away. I can post pictures, I can paste links, and I can read about this year so far with Lilly. And aside from me, there are like 2 of you that read along with me! What more can a person ask for?

So here's my dilemma... There's a show next weekend, October 4th and 5th, in Williamston, North Carolina. The facility is gorgeous and it is usually very expensive to show there. It is also about 2 hours from where I live, which makes getting there by 8am Saturday a bit of a challenge. I've never been, but heard it is an awesome place to show your horse. The show is sponsored by TWHA and the show bill can be found here. The classes are all over the place, with no rhyme or reason as to how they're arranged. Most shows I've been to have english type classes first, then western last. This show has an english class, then a western class, then a hunt seat class, then a western class, and it's just crazy. I always ride hunt seat and western because I enjoy them both, but wouldn't be able to do tack changes that quickly out there. So would have to pick one seat or the other.

Since the show starts at 8am, I'd have to leave my house at 4am to go get Lilly and get there by 7am. Holy crap... They have camper hookups, so I could haul in on Friday night, wash her up Friday, stall her, and be ready to go Saturday morning. Camping, though, is $50 for the weekend and stalls are $50 for the weekend. So that's $100 right off the bat, and if I did that, I might as well stay for Saturday and Sunday. I could do hunt seat one day and western the next if I stayed for both days. Classes are $7 each, there's a grounds fee of $10 per day, plus the gas to get there and back. I'd be looking at about $300 for the weekend.

The cost isn't a huge deal, but $300 is quite a bit of money. In contrast, I usually spend about $100 plus gas at the JCHSS shows, but I also enter a lot of classes, and it's only an hour away. At the TWHA show, I'd have to limit myself to a smaller number of classes or I could easily spend $350. Aside from the cost, if I got there and spent all that money only to have Lilly walk around the place shaking her head and swishing her tail because her saddle and pad didn't fit, I'd be a bit upset (I bought a new pad and will try it out when it gets here, but since it's hit or miss, who knows!). So that makes me really nervous. Granted, I could just show western if I ran into tack troubles, but hunt seat is where we have the greatest chance of placing right now because she's still too fast for the western classes. And I don't want to spend $300 just for the hell of it. I'd like to do well and maybe get another PAC point in something.

So you may be asking yourself why I'm even considering going? Well, it would be FUN! Of course, I probably won't know a single person there and I'll be lonely as usual, but Lilly and I have fun together. Plus, they have novice horse classes. What better way to try her at a canter at one of the shows? I have no idea what kind of "novice" horses will be in the class, but I think I might have a chance of placing in one of them, or at least getting some experience and seeing how she might do in an arena full of cantering horses. I don't know if she's going to buck, rear, kick out, fly around, or freak out. I just don't know... so this would be a good place to try it out.

  • It's really just the money... and the 2 hour one way drive there.
  • Because of the distance, camping and stalling would be necessary. $100
  • If I'm stalling and camping, I might as well stay both days because it's going to be $100 whether I stay for one night or two. That means double entry fees. Minimum of 4 classes a day (I'd want to do more) for a minimum of $56. But is it worth all the trouble for only 4 classes per day?
  • Grounds fee of $10 per day. I'm not sure if Friday counts, so potentially $30
  • I'd need to buy shavings for her stall. $15
  • I'd need about a tank of gas (maybe more). $90
  • Grand Total: $291 - Ouch...
  • ------------------------------------------
  • Technically, I could just show one day and get up at 4am. I'd cut my costs to $90 for gas, $10 for grounds fee, and I could probably swing 12 classes (with lots of rushing to change outfits and tack) for $84. Grand total there: $184 That would be a hell of a day.
  • Fun! YAY!
  • A chance to see how Lilly is going to do in canter classes.
  • Hmmm... not many pros here.

Bottom line... it could be a really fun weekend for about $350. Do I pony up the cash and go for it, or wait until next year when Lilly has more miles under her belt and we have the potential to be more competitive?



Friday, September 19, 2008

It's a Shadow... Really!

Lilly's cuts looked really good last night. The boot had moved around a bit and was barely covering them, but they were clean and fly free, and that was the goal.

Lilly is so funny... I think she could be a search and rescue horse. Not to be ridden by rescuers, but rather to join the scent dogs as they sniff out the missing humans. That girl has a sniffer on her, let me tell you! When I took her boot off, she wanted to sniff it (she loves to sniff...). So I showed it to her and she sniffed and sniffed and sniffed. I don't know if it smelled good, bad, or what, but she was very interested in the smell. It's so funny to watch her because she takes really big breaths and does it very rapidly. Just like a dog. She does that a lot at the shows too as people or horses walk by... sniff, sniff, sniff... She just loves to smell everything. I finally had to take the boot away from her so I could continue on with my evening. Goofy horse...

She was a bit spooky last night. She kept startling her self with her shadow. The days are getting shorter and the shadows are getting bigger. SCARY! She was also a lot more forward than she has been the past couple days, but I've been trying to ride her with more leg now that she knows "tap, tap" means trot and moving my leg back and squeezing means canter. No excuse for her to think contact means go faster!

She's still making progress at the canter. She's so good with leg yields, though, that often we just end up going sideways. It's going to take a lot of work to teach her to canter off the rail. Just the fact that she's doing it so well on the rail is great, though. She also picked up the wrong lead last night once and cross-cantered once as well. I was trying to get her to canter in the middle of the arena and she was all sorts of confused. Poor girl. I always make sure to praise her like crazy when she does it right and not make a big deal of it when she does it wrong. Confidence is a big thing with her. She lacks it, and I'm trying to build it up.

I have big hopes for October and even next year!

We also moved her from the big pasture with the mares to a smaller pasture behind the tack room. She'll be much closer for me now when I get there. Woohoo! She's also out there with Ricochet. He's healed enough now that the BO decided to turn him back out. Hopefully he and Lilly can bond like they did before Summerberry came along. It would be nice to see her with a friend again.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Here We Go Again

I was just thinking the other day that I haven't posted any pictures here in a while. Granted, not much has been going on as far as shows and riding goes, but still... I like to have lots of pictures to look back on.

So my wish was granted last night when I got to the barn to ride... There it was! Something to take a picture of! I found these lovely gashes on Lilly's left hind leg. After the initial annoyance and shock was over, I decided I had better scrub her leg up and see exactly what I was looking at under all that dried up blood. The good news was that they didn't seem to bother her at all and there wasn't any swelling. She also didn't seem lame, which was a huge plus.

So here's her leg after I scrubbed it. The mark on the left is just a surface scrape, and although it looks pretty yucky, it mostly just took the hair off. The one on the right, however, is pretty deep. It isn't deep enough to need stitches, but it's deeper than I feel comfortable with. With what happened to Ricochet with his infected cut, I was wondering what I should do with hers to keep the dirt and flies out of it.

After I got her leg all cleaned up, I decided to go ahead and ride. She seemed fine and the cuts weren't that bad. She was really, really good and I only had trouble with her once and that was because I noticed the bit was too loose. I had cleaned the bridle and obviously didn't put it back together correctly. So after adjusting things, we went back to it and she was SO good. She's really getting the hang of cantering, so I decided to work on some canter transitions from the walk rather than the trot. She was confused at first and just tracked to the inside, but went right back to the rail when I put my inside leg on her. So inside leg on, outside leg back, and off we went. She was still bent all over the place and pinned her ears, but she made the transition. I praised her like crazy and by the end of the ride she was doing really well. I even tried doing some figure 8s with simple changes in the middle. She was such a good girl.

I don't know what to make of her pinned ears during the upward transitions, though. She does it into the trot and the canter. I'm always careful not to pull on her when I ask... she just seems pissed about doing it, but as soon as she's in the gait, she's fine and her ears go back forward.

After the ride I cleaned her cuts up again and decided to put an ankle boot on her. The barn owner and I were trying to decide the best course of action to keep it clean and covered. That's what we can up with and I hope it's still on when I go out there this afternoon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Progress is Here!

I rode Lilly on Sunday and Monday and she was wonderful. She was especially good considering the amount of work she's had in the past two months. I really wish I could have ridden her at the show on Saturday...

I think we're starting to understand each other. I've noticed a lot of progress with her speed and her ability to travel sanely around the ring on a loose rein. Both days she did that very well. She's learned that if she stays calm and maintains a manageable pace, she gets to have her head. I've learned that she CAN jog around the ring on a loose rein and behave herself. So I give, and as long as she doesn't take advantage of it, we jog happily around the ring on a loose rein. I'll ask her to level out her head, and when she does without speeding up, we look darn good!

She has also made huge progress with transitions. She's learned that "tap, tap" with my outside leg means trot. She's learned not to leap forward and go as fast as she can. She still puts her head up and often pins her ears a bit during the transition (not sure what that's about either) but then within two strides or so, so jogs off at a reasonable pace.

Her canter departures are what surprised me the most, though. I'm still working the transition from a jog, so I do a sitting trot when I want to canter, make sure I stay sitting up, move my outside leg back, and squeeze. Within about two strides she's cantering. She has picked up the correct lead every time as well, so hopefully all that chiropractic work has helped. I'm still cantering her in two-point, though, to stay up off her back. I think it is really helping her learn to balance and she's able to slow down a bit. We did many passes around the ring on a loose rein cantering!

I'm so proud of her! She's the type of horse that tries really hard. She's very smart and really wants to please. The challenge has been getting her to understand what I want, and I think now that she realizes I want her to slow down, her progress will just continue to improve over the next couple of weeks. She's pretty out of shape right now, so I can't canter a lot (about 3 times around the ring and she's done) but as she gets back into shape, I'll be able to work her for longer periods of time and see how she does.

I'm thinking that at the JCHSS show in October we might be able to enter a canter class or two. Last time I said that my plans were derailed, so I hope I didn't just jinx myself.

Monday, September 15, 2008

CMESC Show #2

Lilly and I made the short drive to the NC State Fairgrounds on Saturday to show in our first show since June! I was a little rushed when I got there thanks to Google maps disagreeing with my GPS, so I didn't get the prep time I was hoping for, but Lilly and I were ready to go when our halter class went in.

I couldn't get her to square her feet up (if only I had time to practice before we went in) so she was judged looking all crazy like and we got 4th out of 5.

The next class was showmanship and the pattern was very similar to the one as we had last time. Start at cone a, trot around cone b to cone c, do a 560 degree turn, walk to the judge, set up for inspection, back one horse length, do a 90 degree turn, and head to line. Lilly nailed it and the judge was pleased to see "horse number 2 that knows how to turn". Only one other horse besides Lilly did the pivot out of all the classes that morning. We got 2nd out of 4, and I'm not sure why the other girl placed over us, but she did, so no PAC point for us.

After showmanship, there was a 30 minute break until the english classes started, so again I had to hurry. There weren't any entries in the first 3 classes and the rest of them were about half the size they were last time, so I didn't get much time to warm up. Once Lilly was all saddled, I hopped on and started walking towards the indoor arena to do some practice. She started shaking her head, swishing her tail, stomping her feet, and twitching the skin on her withers. She did that at one of the JCHSS shows too, but I had my other saddle then. I thought the new saddle might not fit her, so I sold the saddle and got this new one. I've ridden her in this new one at two different shows and had no problem. So I got off like 10 times trying to adjust everything to make her comfortable, but I just couldn't get things to work, so I ended scratching my classes and going home early.

When I got home, I took her out to the arena and saddled her up but used a different pad under my show saddle. It's a really thin quilted one I use for everyday riding and she was perfectly fine. As soon as I put the other pad back on her, she started acting uncomfortable again. So I guess it's the pad. I'm not sure why it pinches her on some days and on other days it fits her fine.

So I'm trying to decide if there is any way I can pad her so I can use that pad, or if I should resign to the fact that I'm going to have to come up with something else. I've looked for thin, quilted pads with the number pockets on them, but I haven't seen any. They'd be ideal, but all the pads with numbers are fleece... All the contoured show pads are fleec too and I bet they'd be just as uncomfortable for her. I was thinking maybe I could buy a quilted square one and just pin the numbers to it with safety pins, but I haven't seen anyone else with a setup like that.


I just wanted to have fun and show...

So I have until October 25th to get my pad situation figured out.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Out of the Funk!

For the past two weeks, poor Lilly has been in some kind of funk. She has seemed very blah since I found the two horseshoe shaped marks on her left hip a couple of weeks ago. I didn't think much of it at the time because I figured if she did get kicked, she was probably sore. I haven't ridden her since that day because of my vacation to Florida, finals for school, and everything else that seems to keep me from riding, but I was out there on Tuesday of this week hoping to ride (until it started pouring rain). I got her out of the pasture and she still seemed very blah. When I went to the pasture to get her she was in the lean-to by herself. She walked very slowly, seemed disinterested in life, and just didn't have that sparkle she usually has. She ate the cookies I brought her, but she didn't sniff around in my pockets for more like she usually does. She definitely was not herself. There is a show tomorrow I want to go to and I like to clip her a couple days ahead of time so my screw ups aren't so noticeable. :) So I took her over to the golf cart to clip her and she usually tries to eat grass or steal hay from the cart while I'm trying to clip her. She did none of that this time and just stood there with her head down. Her ears just kind of hung off to the side and she barely even stomped at the flies. I clipped her head, her ears, and all four legs and she never moved an inch. She just was not perky and seemed blah... it was really making me sad and I was starting to wonder if she was depressed about something. I was thinking that maybe she was depressed because of all her injuries and I hadn't been able to ride her? Or maybe because she doesn't really have any friends in the pasture because everyone picks on her? I even started to wonder if she was sick. She was eating fine, looked ok, didn't have a fever... everything looked ok on the outside, but was it ok on the inside?

So yesterday I spoke to the barn owner who said she was having the vet come out to look at Ricochet (he got cut really badly between the bulbs of his hoof... probably running from AJ) and she thought he might have time to take a look at Lilly. Of course when I went to get her last night she seemed to be back to her normal self. She was greedy about her cookies, tried to eat grass the whole time and was perky and alert. I was thrilled to see her back to normal, but also knew I'd have to tell the vet she was fine today. You know how you take your car to the mechanic and then it won't make the noise you hear 7 times a day? That was me...

So after the vet was done doctoring Ricochet (who is REALLY hurt right now... he had an infection and is so lame he refuses to put any weight on that leg) he looked at me and said, "so, you told my office your horse is depressed?" It sounded crazy but it was true! So I explained everything to him and then told him she seemed fine today. We talked about all the factors it could have been and he said I could just let him know if she goes downhill again (since he'll be back a couple times for Ricochet). Then we can draw some blood and see if everything looks ok on the tests.

I think we're going to move her out of her current pasture because now that there are only 3 horses in there, Summerberry and Marva are buddies and Lilly is all alone. We're going to pair her with a cute little gray pony and hope they get along. I think we might end up putting Lilly and Ricochet back together again (when they're together without any other horses they get along really well) depending on how things go. There is another mare coming soon and then one leaving, so who knows how things will end up. I just want her to have a buddy.

Hopefully Lilly is permanently out of the funk and we can have fun at our show tomorrow. She's fat, out of shape, and probably doesn't remember any of what I taught her before her 8 weeks of rest, but we're going to go and we're going to have fun, darn it!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Is It Wrong of Me?

Yesterday I went to visit Lilly and AJ and stopped off to see AJ first. On my way in I noticed that only the girls were in the pasture and that Ricochet was missing. I wondered if he was now with AJ or if someone was riding him. I didn't see any cars at the barn, but I also didn't see him in AJ's pasture. I thought it was strange but went on about my business. I got the bucket of cookies (AJ isn't spoiled... nope) and headed out to give AJ and Mason some goodies and make sure AJ doesn't have any marks or cuts on him. I usually just feed the cookies over the fence, but AJ had one of those HUGE flies on the top of his rump and was begging me to get it for him. So I ran over to the gate and went in to save AJ. He swung his butt over my way and stomped his hind leg as if to encourage me to HURRY UP, so I swatted, knocking the bug to the ground, where I proceeded to stomp the life out of it.

Then it was back to business... the cookies! I opened the lid and started handing them out. After AJ and Mason had a nice mouthful, I noticed Ricochet was running over from out of nowhere. He must have been in the lean-to! Well, he got about 10 feet from AJ and had to put on the breaks because AJ pinned his ears, whipped his head around with teeth showing, and stomped his front legs. Poor Ricochet did a roll back and hauled ass back to the lean-to. He ventured out a few other times and AJ made sure he wasn't able to get any cookies. 10 feet was about AJ's limit. If Ricochet came closer than that, AJ made his mean face and chased him off. Is it wrong that AJ's aggression warmed my heart? Was it wrong of me to shout, "How do you like it, jerk??" I noticed that he had some pretty good scratches on his hind end, and I started to feel bad for him. I don't want him beat up like Lilly, but I am glad that AJ put him in his place. Hopefully they'll be able to become friends soon, though. It just felt good that Lilly got some justice from her big brother! Do unto others, Ricochet...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

No Showing and Not Much Riding

I opted not to take Lilly to the show on Saturday. I decided it just wasn't worth it. She seemed to be better, but I didn't want to push her. She's pretty out of shape too for an all day show like that. I'm bummed, but hopefully we'll make the next one a week from this Saturday.

I did ride AJ yesterday. I had fun cleaning him up and spending some quality time with him. He was a bit of a brat when I rode him, though, and acted like his typical AJ self. He has always been a bit of a dufus, but yesterday was just too much. After I fitted Lilly's bridle to his head, I turned him toward me to walk him off the grooming mats to the grass to mount up and he freaked out at the water bucket that had been sitting next to him the entire time. This is the same bucket I had washed his face with and cleaned his legs with. He gave it the evil eye with his left eye, so he ended up running me over with his shoulder. We had to get quite far away from it before he quite acting like a turd. When we set out down the road, he was freaking out at the sun reflecting off the puddles and jumped out of his skin more than once. And he walks so slow so he can look at everything it feels like you're riding a drunken horse! He turns his head this way and drifts over... then he turns his head that way and drifts over the other way. It is impossible to get him to walk a straight line, and you can forget him relaxing enough to lower his head even a little. I swear he's part Saddlebred!

I literally thought he was going to have a heart attack, so after about 15 minutes I took him back to the hitching post. Of course when we got there, he refused to walk on the mats he had been standing on the whole time he was being groomed. "Nope! Not gonna do it! Snort, snort.." So I had to get off and walk him back to the posts to cross tie him.

I'm going to have the vet check AJ's eyesight when he comes out for fall shots. I wonder if something is going on in there. The freaking at the water bucket has got me wondering...