Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Think I'm Going to Cry

Lilly's almost shed out finally! A few LONG hairs here and there, but the short winter fuzz is gone. She is so dark! I LOVE IT! Dang shadows kept me from getting the great picture I wanted, but you can see the super dark hairs in her forearm where the sun is shining a spotlight. :) (Click on it to get the bigger size and it shows up even better... but maybe I'm the only one who cares? LOL)

My little chocolate palomino. I wish she was this color all summer long. :)

Her new saddle pad and bit came yesterday so I took those out to the barn today. The bit is essentially a dogbone with shanks. I wanted to get something that works as well for her as the english one I ride in. I was afraid the 5" would be too small, but as it turns out, it fit her perfectly. She seemed very comfortable with it and wasn't chomping like she was with the other bit (which was also dogbone but an O-ring and a little too small for her mouth, I think). I'll be able to show her western in this one.

Here's her new pad. It's a 3/4" close contact felt pad. It has a cutout over the withers that I thought might be helpful for fit. How does it look?

Which brings me to the title of my post.

Lilly was stopping, shaking her head, twitching, and walking around like a drunk. That's what she does when she's uncomfortable. I got off to re-adjust everything and hopped back on. It made no difference.

I AM BEYOND FRUSTRATED. I've tried 4 different saddles on her and have had issues with all of them. One was a brand new hunt seat saddle that I ended up trading to get an older saddle like the one I had to retire. I just wanted her to be comfortable and pretty much threw my money away. I have since had problems with the saddle I traded for... On top of that, I've had problems with my western show saddle, and now I'm having trouble with my western work saddle. What gives?

The bizarre thing is, some days she's fine, some days she's miserable. So I don't understand... If the saddle pinches, the saddle pinches, right? It doesn't seem like it would pinch on Tuesdays and not on Fridays. I've had people check my saddles, I've used different pads, and as mentioned even got new saddles. I've read every saddle fitting guide I can find, and everything is correct.

Is the gullet entirely off of the horses spine as it should be? Yes
Is the center of the seat, where the rider sits, parallel with the ground as it should be? Yes
Is the saddle tipping back - cantle low, or is it tilting forward - pommel low? No
Press the cantle and pommel alternately. Does the saddle rock back and forth? No
Run your hand under the panel - under the seat and in the front of the saddle. Is contact even or are there gaps in contact between the horse's back and the panel? Even contact
Now girth up the saddle. Make sure that you can comfortably fit a hand on the barrel between the horse's elbow and the front of the girth. Does this change the way the saddle lies on the horse's back? Does it get pulled out of balance? No
The rider should now mount. Can you fit three stacked upright fingers between the pommel and the horse's withers? Yes
If you can fit more, the tree is too narrow. If you can't fit two to three fingers, the saddle may be too wide.

Granted that is for an english saddle, but the fitting of a saddle is the fitting of a saddle, and I have problems with both. I've checked the fit. They all seem to fit, and fit according to all the fitting guides. They obviously make her uncomfortable because she communicates that to me quite well and she seems to be saying something is wrong in the shoulder area. That's just my guess.

I've had problems when she was toned and in shape. I've had to scratch classes and go home early at shows because of it. If this latest issue with this particular saddle is because she's lost muscle tone from being stalled, how does one account for the different phases of building a horse back up? Buy 6 different saddles for all phases of her recovery?

She's been ok in the english saddle so far, but I want to be able to ride western and english, and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the english one starts causing her issues again. And since I've had issues with all saddles, I really would like to have something that fits her ALL THE TIME. I hate having to worry about whether I'll be able to ride or not.

I've had her adjusted twice just to make sure nothing was out of whack. I've thought about taking her to a saddle fitter and paying the $75, but what if they say it fits? I've been told that already.

I'm finally able to get back on my horse and ride... only I really can't ride and it sucks.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bits and Saddle Pads

I've been riding, although there isn't much exciting about walking around for 30 minutes. Well there is for ME because I'm finally riding, but for you I think it would be quite boring.

I've been riding her english but decided today I would try western again and see if she got uncomfortable. I used a different bit because I hate the western one I have for her. I used the one I bought to ride Beau with and it appears to be too small for her mouth. It's a 5" and her english bit is a 5 1/2". Her english one is just a tad too big, but I guess the 5" ones are too small. Guess what I just ordered for her last night? A new wetern bit that's 5". :( *sigh

She did a lot better today in regards to the saddle. She shook her head a few times but it never progressed any farther than that. In addition to the bit, I ordered her a new felt saddle pad. The one I have is a PC Air Ride pad, but it's really old and I think it just needs to be replaced. I wanted to get felt because they're so much easier to clean than that darn fleece bottom one I have now.

So a new bit and a new pad are on their way. I hope they both work out.

After trying to think of productive things to do while we walk, I started working on 'whoa' today. She doesn't have a very good whoa. She stops... eventually. Then takes about 3 more steps before she finally stops again. It isn't pretty when we're trying to do equitation patterns... She wasn't digging that bit, though, so I think it was a big waste of time. She wasn't getting the hang of it and I finally gave up.

30 minutes goes by quick!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Shed Faster!

It rained all day yesterday so I didn't get to ride. I did get to ride today, though!

I sure wish Lilly would hurry up and shed her winter coat! (Can you tell I'm obsessed?) She only keeps that dark spring color of hers for a short time, so I'm anxious for it to be visible. She has really dark chocolaty spots on her flanks and chest, and also on her legs where there is color. It's just so pretty!

So curry, curry, curry... here she is before:

And here she is after. I can see a little bit more color!!

I wish that scrape on her hip would go away... I'm guessing she scraped it going into her stall while simultaneously acting like a goober.

Because of the saddle issues I had the other day, I decided to ride her hunt seat. She did great. No tack issues, thank goodness. I worked on a few things while we walked around to try and make things more productive. I'm glad she remembers everything I taught her before November... even how to steer off leg pressure! It's like we didn't take a 6 month break! Well, at least it's that way at the walk. We'll have to wait and see when we start trotting and cantering. :)

Here she is just before our ride. Again, the enthusiasm on her face is priceless.

I decided while I was riding today that I want to switch back over to western for a while. I did hunt seat all last year and I want to do western next year when we get back out in the show ring. It'll be a lot more challenging than hunt seat, but I would love to teach her to jog nice and slow. I just need to figure out how... and I need to get a new bit because I hate hers. Oh, and I need to get that new saddle pad I mentioned before.

So much to do. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Our First Ride!

In preparation for our first ride in 6 months, I decided Lilly needed to be cleaned up a bit. So I got the clippers out and started clipping. I did her bridle path, her face, and all four of her legs up to about her ankles. She was way too hairy for my liking. Now that she's officially a riding pony again, she needs to look like one! No more convalescing! :)

Here she is after I was all done clipping.

Next up was a good grooming and a mane trimming. It was getting a little scraggly. She's finally starting to shed that icky winter coat revealing her lovely, dark, spring coat. I just love her color when she first sheds out. Here is her glorious true color peaking out from under that winter hair.

She actually looks really scruffy this time of year. There is such a sharp contrast between the two coat colors that she looks a bit raggedy. It is especially evident on her face and around her ears. Poor scruffy pony!

Since I thought there was a chance that things might get "western" today out in the arena, I decided to ride in my western saddle. You know, just in case. I was 99.9% sure that she would be wonderful, but I didn't feel like trying to ride a buck in my english saddle. She was anything but excited when I brought the saddle out. She was sniffing and sniffing, and her face said, "I thought I was done with this riding stuff..." She was a good girl, though, and took the bit without issue. So off to the arena we went.

Before I got on, I set my camera on the fence to record the first few minutes of our ride in case something happened. I thought it would be fun to have it on video if she bucked me off. It isn't very exciting, though. I got on, she put her head down, I checked the time, and away we went. She did absolutely perfect. :)

About half way into our ride, she started stopping and shaking her head. If you've been reading for a while, you know I've struggled with tack quite a bit here lately, although usually only when I'm at a show. It seems to be a saddle pad issue, unless all 4 of my saddles pinch her withers... but it really does depend on what pad I use. I've never had an issue with this saddle or this saddle pad, though, so that's new. It was quite obvious that she was uncomfortable and I walked her on the ground for the last 10 minutes of our time out. I have a new saddle pad on my list of things to buy, but it was just because I wanted one that isn't fleece, not because she was having saddle issues. Guess I need to go ahead and order it.

So here's a picture of her I took after our ride. You can see the excitement on her face. She's so happy to be back under saddle! :)

AJ is wearing his fly mask now, so hopefully it helps him with his vision issues.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I Own A Riding Pony Again!

That's right!! :) Tomorrow I get to ride my horse!!

Lilly was completely sound on the longe line and her ultrasound looked really good. She has tendon fibers throughout the entire lesion, although they are still hypoechoic, or scrambled. She said the tendon was at about 90%, but is healed enough that she would call her "healed" and "sound". We don't need any further ultrasounds either (my wallet cheers with glee!). So just about 6 months of rehab(would have been 6 months on May 3rd), as was predicted when she was first injured.

So the plan is this: she'll stay on paddock rest for 60 more days just to make sure she stays fairly quiet. I'll start riding her tomorrow for 30 minutes at the walk for the first 2 weeks, and then add one 5 minute trot session each week until we're up to three 5 minute trot sessions per week. At that point, I can introduce the canter very slowly. She also said after the first 2 weeks of walking only, I can increase the amount of time we're walking. If I want to walk her for an hour I can.

I AM SO EXCITED!! I would have ridden her today before I left the barn, but I didn't have my camera. There is no way I'm not going to take pictures on the first day we're back to riding. So tomorrow it begins!

My vet said, "good luck and I hope she doesn't go crazy and buck you off." Gee, thanks! LOL

I asked about boots and whether I should ride her in something to support her tendon. She suggested SMB boots, which I have, but I've read they can trap heat and the tendon can get warm. I'll just have to check after I get done riding and cold hose her legs if necessary.

I also had her check AJ's eyes. I mentioned in a couple other posts that I thought he might be having some trouble seeing. She said vision is very difficult to diagnose in horses, but I told her I just wanted a more comprehensive eye exam than we get from a regular vaccination exam and explained all the symptoms I've been seeing. I retrieved him from the pasture and we took him into one of the sheds because it was the darkest place we could find.

She looked in both of his eyes and everything looked normal except for one thing... He has a cataract in his left eye. It is in the very center of his lens, is a perfect circle, and is about 3mm in size. So that's probably the cause of the symptoms I've been seeing. She said his vision issues would be at their worst in bright daylight because that's when his pupil would be the smallest and he'd be looking through that cataract. That explains a few of the episodes, like the wash rack issue because it was bright in there and light would have been reflecting off the wet mats. Also the issue in the arena because of the bright sun and the sand in the arena. Most of his issues have been in bright daylight.

While we were talking, he started eating grass. He picked his head up to look over at the dogs and then when he put his head back down for more grass, he bumped his nose fairly hard on the ground. I said, "Like that! Things like that." It was like he couldn't tell how far down the grass was. So she also wanted to do a quick neurological exam, which ended up being normal. We also covered his right eye with a shirt and I led him around for a while and around a few obstacles. He seemed to have some vision loss with his right eye covered compared to when we covered his left eye.

So it is difficult to say if this cataract is new, or if it has been around a while considering the amount of time I've been noticing things. She said he should adjust to seeing with it there, but if it has been around a while he isn't adjusting. So we'll check it again in the fall to see if it is larger in size. If I think his vision starts getting worse, I'll call her back out and we'll talk about taking him to the ophthalmologist at the vet school.

There really isn't anything we can do for him, though. Surgery is the only option, and we're talking about $8,000-ish. There are a lot of risks associated with the surgery and there's a chance he'll still have vision problems. So hopefully things won't get to that level!

I'll get his fly mask cleaned up and make sure he wears it throughout the summer to help block the sunlight.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

More Donkeys

Usually the two momma donkeys are in with another donkey, a gelding. He's actually a baby of one of them, although I can't remember which one. Once they had their babies, though, he had no one to hang out with. When they were still in the stalls with their babies, he would just hang out in the pasture, but now the momma donkeys are turned out with their babies. So this is what I found today when I went to the barn:

Lilly didn't seem too excited about her new friend, and she seemed less excited to share her hay with him, but they were getting along ok. I'm not sure how long he'll be in there with her.

Here are a couple pictures of the new little boy! His momma still stayed between me and her baby, but I managed to get a couple pictures anyway.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Baby donkey number two was born yesterday! He is SO cute, and I think his markings are neater than his older brother's. His momma isn't quite ready to share her baby yet, so even though I took my camera I didn't get any pictures. I even tried to bribe her with cookies, but it didn't work. Once he's turned out and not so new, I'll get some pictures and post them.

Lilly and AJ got their hooves trimmed today. We put Lilly's leather pad back on so everything is the same for Monday when the vet comes out. She was a bit of a brat today... I'm not sure what her deal was, but we struggled through the shoeing process. That's just not like her. It was suggested maybe she's in heat. There is a new man across the fence and he is HANDSOME. I think he's been whispering sweet nothings in her ear while also hanging out with the mare in his pasture. He's a two-timer. AJ was a good boy for his hooves. That horse will do anything for cookies!

Regardless of what a brat Lilly was, I brushed her and let her eat some clover. She still isn't shedding very much. Just her chest really. AJ on the other hand is losing hair like crazy. He's got a bit of a baboon butt... lol It's too funny! He got to eat some clover as well, and Lilly was NOT happy about it.

Monday is the ultrasound! Everyone keeps asking when I can start riding her again. She's been lame for so long it seems like everyone thinks I should be able to start riding her now that she's sound. I would prefer to not work her at all until the ultrasound shows no black spots on her tendon. We'll see if the vet agrees.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Horse and Wildlife Gifts - We're Featured!

Lilly and I have been featured!

The kind folks over at Horse and Wildlife Gifts did a post about my blog and how Lilly and I are working to get back into the show ring. It is a great pick-me-up and I appreciate the vote of confidence!

They have some great items in their store, too! Everything you could want from wall art, to book ends, to jewelry, to those really cool Painted Pony figurines! It isn't just horse items either. Personally I'm drooling over the assortment of wine glasses that can be etched with a variety of horsey designs. (hint hint, for those of you looking to buy me presents!)

Head on over and check them out! :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Baby Donkey Pics!

This little kid is ALL BOY! He constantly ran at me with his giant ears pinned and tried to bite both me and his mom. He's quite feisty, but also adorable. He needs his aunt to have her baby so he has someone his size to play with.

Here's a quick little video I took while I was there.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Supplement Woes...

Not too long ago I cut both of my horses back to 1 supplement each.

Lilly used to be on a hoof supplement and her current digestive supplement. When she tore her tendon, I took her off the hoof supplement because I figured it was a good time to test whether or not it was actually working. Being on stall rest, I knew her feet wouldn't be cracking and I'd have time to put her back on it if I needed to. At our last appointment, though, my farrier said her hooves look better than they ever have... so I guess it wasn't working.

AJ was on MSM and a coat enhancer. I took AJ off his coat enhancer last fall because I knew his winter coat wasn't far off. I didn't think it made a lick of difference in his coat last summer anyway. And now that he's shedding, his coat is more soft and pretty, even with winter hair, than it was all last summer. What gives?

This has made me rethink the other supplements they're on. I think AJ needs the MSM and I hope it is actually helping him feel young. He runs around in the pasture and kicks up, so I hope it helps him a little. Lilly's digestive supplement on the other hand, doesn't seem to be doing its job. Many, many times over the course of the past year she's had bouts of diarrhea. Most days when I go out to see her the supplement is still in the feed dish... so that could have something to do with it. There's nothing quite like spending over a dollar a day on a supplement your horse won't eat.

So I started searching for something that is pelleted instead of powdered. Aside from ulcer treatments, or extremely expensive supplements, there aren't any digestive aids that come in pellets. I did, however, find these:

Smartpak will actually send these in Smartpaks, where each well has 3 cookies. So instead of powder she won't eat, she can have cookies with breakfast instead, and they're cheaper than the SmartDigest Ultra she was on. I don't mind the cost as long as it works and as long as she eats it, neither of which was happening with the SmartDigest... I know she won't leave cookies behind in her feed dish. So she has over a month left of SmartDigest, but the next order ships with cookies instead.

Sometimes I think we give supplements just to make ourselves feel better.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Lilly!

My sweet Lilly turns 10 years old today. I can't believe she and I have already been together for a decade! Time sure does fly.

I dug up a couple baby pictures I have of her. Most of them are paper photos rather than digital photos, so I only found a few I have scanned to the computer. These were taken shortly after her check ligament surgery, so she would have been about 6 months old. You can see the casts on her legs in the first picture and her fake hooves in the second picture. We had to construct new hooves for her out of PVC pipes. What an adventure that was.

So you see, she's been a struggle and money pit since day one! But she's worth it without a doubt.

Look at that sweet face!

I can't believe how cute she was! Is it any wonder I fell in love the first time I saw her? :)

Happy Birthday, Sweet Pea!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Appointment Made

I spoke with Lilly's vet today and scheduled her next ultrasound appointment. April 19th at 9:30...

I also spoke with her about AJ's vision, so she's going to look at that while she's out too. It's funny, they call Lilly by her name, and poor AJ is "your other horse". With any luck, they won't know AJ as well as they know Lilly because that would mean there's something actually wrong with him.

My farrier comes out on the 15th, so I asked my vet if we should take the leather pad off or leave it on. At first she wanted it off if Lilly didn't seem sore at all, but then we decided to leave everything like it is so we can see how she is on the longe line without having a big change in place.

Hopefully Lilly is sound on the longe line, the hole in her tendon has filled in, and AJ's eyes are a-ok. Is that too much to hope for?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy Faces!

Introducing... the new little donkey with no name! :) Isn't he the cutest thing you've ever seen?

Look at that face! It isn't easy getting pictures of this little guy... he wasn't cooperative and I never did get a picture of his other side. LOL

Here are a couple pictures I took of my own horses today. I love the first one of AJ. :)

Can you see the pollen all over his face? It's awful here! We need rain!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Bath and A Baby

Today was an interesting day. After spending many of the past few days concentrating on Lilly, I decided today would be AJ's day. I have been brushing him, but I just walk into the pasture and give him a quick once over. I decided to give him a bath today because he needed it.

Lilly wasn't happy AT ALL. Spoiled brat that she is... lol She saw me pull up to the barn and started to whinny and nicker. I grabbed a flake of hay and took it down to her paddock and she was quite happy to get it. Once she saw me bring AJ up to the barn, though, she stood at the fence and stared at me until I took AJ to the wash rack where she couldn't see us. When I peeked over at her later she was back to eating her hay.

Anyone who knows AJ, knows what it means to "be AJ". He is one of a kind and has a personality all his own. It isn't always a personality that is enjoyable either. He's about 16 hands and is THE biggest wimp you will ever meet. He has always been a very spooky horse and he hasn't calmed much in his old age. He spooks at everything and gets himself quite worked up. Trail rides are sometimes quite a chore with him. He'll be the one spooking at the white lines on the side of the road. Even the other day when I took him to the arena he was a pill. He wouldn't settle and instead jogged around sideways. He's "just AJ".

That being said, today I wanted to give him a bath. He's always a brat in the wash rack because it is covered with mats and he freaks out when the water splashes on the mats. Don't ask me why... he's much better outside on the concrete, but it isn't as convenient there and darn it, get over it! So I start running the hose on his legs and he freaks out more than usual... which as you can imagine is quite a lot. He pulled back on the cross ties (which I must use or he is impossible to bathe) and jumped forward. He hasn't ever done that before. He pulled back so hard his halter rubbed a good bit of hair off his face. After trying to calm him down he did it again... thank goodness he didn't break the cross ties. He kept going back and forth, side to side, and makes me appreciate how well behaved Lilly is. He was driving me crazy! After he was washed and rinsed, I washed his face, which he was surprisingly good about. Then I took him outside to the hitching posts and cross tied him there so I could clean up the wash rack.

When I looked back over at him, he had nearly pulled one of the posts over and was weaving and snorting just like he was in the wash rack. He's usually very well behaved outside when cross tied to those posts. So I moved him to another post and tied him with just his lead rope and fixed the bent over post. I was trying to calm him down so I grabbed my brush and started brushing him with my curry to smooth out his hair. I was brushing his belly and turned away for a second to shoo a fly and turned back to him placing my brush back on his belly and he did a flying leap sideways like he had no idea I was even there. So I went to his head to calm and soothe him... by this point I'm starting to get scared. Why is he acting like this? He's usually spooky, but it's sunny and 91 degrees outside. He's on the grass and out of the wash rack, so why is he still pacing and snorting?

So I finished up in the wash rack quickly and untied him to take him over to the clover to munch on that. I figured if anything would calm him down, clover would do the trick. He didn't want to walk straight and kept drifting to the left like he was eyeballing something, but there wasn't anything there for him to spook at. In the process of eating grass and spooking, he also stepped on my foot and it took forever to get him off! I think it's ok... it's a bit red and hurts like crazy, though.

I wonder if he's losing his vision, or having trouble seeing? He is going to be 24 this year. I just can't imagine why he was acting the way he was, unless something was really wrong. There have been a few other times where I thought he might be having trouble seeing but I had my vet check his eyes twice now and she said everything was fine. Aside from his vision, though, I don't know what else it could be. The jumping sideways thing is what really got me. But watching him snort at nothing with is neck stretched out also has me wondering. I think I'm going to ask my vet to check his eyes again when she comes out for Lilly's ultrasound. I'm quite worried about him.

While AJ was eating clover, though, miss Lilly was standing back at the fence watching us. She put on her cutest face to try and convince me to come see her. Of course it worked! Once AJ was dry I turned him back out in the pasture and picked Lilly a bunch of clover and took it down to her.

Also, at some point during the day, one of the mini donkeys had her baby! She must have had it while I was messing with AJ because I would have seen him if he had been born already when I got there. He is SO cute! :) So I had to play with him for a while...

After playing with the new donkey, Lilly let me know she was done with her clover (by nickering), so I went into her paddock to give her hugs and kisses. The afternoon feed guy was there and he was picking out her paddock so I went over to chat with him. Lilly decided she wasn't getting enough attention and walked behind me, very close, and bumped me with her belly. It's her way of saying, "while you're just standing there, could you scratch my belly please?" So I scratched her for a while before leaving to come home.

As far as her tendon goes, she seems completely sound right now. The ultrasound will be in a couple weeks so we'll see if that hole is closing up at all. If I wasn't worried about AJ now, life would be swell.