Sunday, December 4, 2011

More Down Time...

Time for another update, most likely the last one for the year.
Mercy is back in paddock/stall rest with regular hand walking when I'm able to. Again. I took her out to ride the day after my last blog post and found her seriously lame on her left front leg after I tacked her up. No heat, no swelling, no hoof tester sensitivity. I gave her 2 weeks off just in case there was an abscess brewing, but nothing changed. So, I had Dr. Bob out to do a full lameness work up. After blocking her leg, starting with her sole, then her whole foot, then her fetlock, and finally blocking her up to the knee, she was still lame when making tight circles. There was no lameness detected on the straight aways unless her joint was flexed (stressed).
Since the symptoms of this lameness were very similar to her previous right front leg lameness, we decided to shave the leg down any way and check her tendons and ligaments via ultrasound.
And we found nothing. Well, we saw the previous injury in her RF that has healed nicely! But nothing more...
Since we were no closer to a diagnosis after the very thorough exam, I decided to take Mercy back to the track to see Dr. Schneider. Once at the track, it became very clear that the lameness I was seeing and the lameness Dr. Schneider was finding could be two different ailments. This is because after only one low hoof block, he declared Mercy sound, which means the pain was in the hoof.
We took a few radiographs to check her lower leg and Dr. Schneider found some bony changes on the front of her short pastern bone at the coffin joint. He also found a small bone spur at the pastern joint. Although these are unlikely to cause her pain, that was the best he could find that day without doing an MRI. So- back to stall and paddock rest for 60 days (til early January) and recheck with Dr.Bob.
I'm personally not convinced that the bony changes and spur are the issues here, but I don't have anything else to go on. When I compare the new images to the old images (Aug 2010), there really isn't that much change. I guess time will tell... again...
Until then, Mercy certainly keeps herself busy by destroying my lovely Christmas decorations... lol! ;)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Long Awaited Update

*sigh* So, since my last post in April I have taken Mercy to 2 Ricky Quinn clinics, the one in April and another one in August. I will admit, I got a lot out of them but I also fell more and more discouraged about my relationship with Mercy. She *technically* does everything I ask of her, but with a nasty expression on her face and there is absolutely no 'try' anymore.
And I know it's me who made her change. I have been really frustrate with how things have gone since I started riding her again (after a 6 months lay-off period for a significant leg injury). She is naughty on the trails, still bucks almost every time I ask her to lope, and is generally uncooperative under saddle. I tried bringing her back slowly, literally starting at the basics again, but something had changed in her. So I tried challenging her by expecting her to at least know where we were before this accident happened. That's where I think I went wrong.
She isn't the same horse. Mentally or physically.
I pushed her too hard, too fast. Even though that is what I thought she needed. Now, even when I am being as light as I possibly can be with her, things quickly escalate out of hand. She tries bolting, bucking, taking the bit away, and generally tries to out think me, even when doing simple stuff like move the hindquarters.
And now winter is here. I can't get home before dark and the trails are soon going to be too slick to do anything more than a walk.
I don't really know what the next step is. I would love to talk lessons from a local trainer, but he is not very willing to do haul-in lessons. And I cannot afford full time board and training.
My plan for now is to try and haul out once or twice a week to a local indoor arena. Because if I don't keep trying nothing will get better. Ever.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hitting The Trails Once Again, With a Twist!

We rode bareback!!! LOL! Boy, do I like challenges! ;P

Mercy was still dealing with that weird armpit issue and I decided not to let that set us back completely. Riding bareback in the front pasture if fun, and 'getting something done,' but I wanted to trail ride! So, I grabbed the barrel racing bridle and jumped on for a short ride to the creek. Unfortunately for me, I had forgotten how short the reins are when I ride Mercy. Her neck is so long! Plus she holds her head down and poked out, naturally.... I really had to lean forward and still only use a few fingers to hang on! T'was fun!

We wandered slowly along the creeks bank and finally stopped for a few pictures. Mercy swore she could see some thing that she insisted on inspecting on the other side, but we stayed the course instead...

...Which really out someone into an argumentative mood! LOL!

We started home and all was going well until we got to the part of the trail that I am positive a herd of elk bed in. Both Starlett and Mercy always get really uneasy going through there and walk as fast as the can to get out. And of course me being bareback seemed to really set Mercy off. She just wanted to barge through the bit and trot through the area. Uh, no. That's obviously not ok.... so I guided Mercy back to a walk and we walked through the area a few times, back and forth, back and forth, until Mercy began to let up her guard.

Once we were back on our way home, Mercy once again picked up a trot, which was easy to correct, but it still irritates me. So guess what!? Mercy got to work her butt off doing rollbacks, serpentines, leg yields, haunches in, shoulders in, and sidepasses, all while going up and down the same track of trail, until she calmed down and walked out content.

I swear, once I get the saddle back on her, we are going to have one very long trail ride until she figures out we are NOT going back to the barn until she is smooth and responsive. I need to pick a nice day to do that. I need it to be a good experience!

Then, just the other day, we let the girls out into the big pasture for their first big romp in months. And guess what? nothing happened! I thought Mercy would have exploded with the freedom, but nope!

Oh well! LOL! This weekend is the Ricky Quinn Jr. Clinic in Buckley, WA. We are going to be busy for sure!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

More *Slight* Set Backs

Figures. I get the all clear to start riding again and something else comes up to slow us down. Mercy's allergies have come on fast and furious (and really early) this year. She is itching all over and basically mutilating herself. About two weeks ago she was chewing herself so bad that she literally skinned herself. I came out to feed dinner and found her left armpit swollen, painful, and gooey.

I haltered her up and washed the area well with Betadine. She was ouchy, so I took my time and really got into the folds of swollen skin to make sure everything was clean and dry. When I checked her the next morning her armpit was still swollen and sensitive, but not as gooey or raw looking.


She slowly started improving over the next few days and now the area is just flaky from where the scabs had fallen off. Weird. Needless to say, I couldn't saddle her up with that injury so close to the where the girth would go, so I have ridden her almost daily bareback! I cannot believe how much I miss riding bareback! I have really enjoyed refining my balance and being more connected with Mercy. She can easily feel my shifts in weight and readily backs circles now. All of that leather is apparently getting in the way! LOL! We are getting more done now in our short 30 minute rides than when I saddle up and work for an hour.


Last night I was trying to re-learn how to feel when Mercy's feet leave the ground. Being able to call out when each individual foot leaves the ground is quite a skill, and since we will be heading out next Friday for another fun weekend with Ricky Quinn Jr., we need to refine our skills and re-establish those that have been lost due to injuries and time off. Mercy's injury really threw us off on our 'goal's list,' but that's the way it goes. Time to play catch up! ;P

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Believe It or not, but Spring is HERE!!!

The Hellebore I bought last year is in full bloom right now and might I say, what a beauty!!! I love it! Every flower is a slightly different shade of pinky-purple with random hints of lime green. The cats are doing good too! Chai has momentarily (voluntarily) taken up residence in Cuda's crate...
...and Tiki is posing for all to see!... No, really she is just getting positioned to watch the swallows better. They're back! ;D

Mercy got to ride in style to her recheck ultrasound with Dr. Schneider on Thursday. This is "Meaty," my new 2005 Ford F250! I purchased this beauty a little over a month ago, but needed to have some work done on it first before it assumed the position of "Official Hauling Vehicle." It hauls like a dream and all of the special features inside doesn't hurt either!
Mercy got a clean bill of health at our visit and Dr. Schneider said saddle up and ride! Her tendon is healed as good as it will ever get, so he said to start more trot work and add in some loping too! Well, we didn't waste time doing just that:

Someone is tired of waiting

The trails haven't changed much

It's really hard not loping up hills like we use to...
Yup, the grass tastes the same! Om Nom Nom!
The Lake is really high! The 'shoreline' is completely submerged
The creek is showing off it's white water and strong current

The ride went well considering there are a lot of new trees down. Luckily they are low enough that I can ask her to simply step over them instead of launching over them (like we usually do, heehee!). She did get a little squirrely at one spot near the lake where we usually blast up a rocky hill to the top. She was getting jiggy and kept pulling on the bit, so to work we went. Circles, serpentines, backing circles, and spins quickly knocked the jig right out of her, and once we could easily stand still on a loose rein, we headed back home the way we came.

Here is a clip from the lake. Mercy never ceases to amaze me with her pawing power! I never make it home with dry legs or boots! Even Star gets into the act! Enjoy!

Oh, by the way, the Ricky Quinn Clinic is ON for us! We will be there and hopefully we will be in the bosal! ;P

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mercy, Cuda, Chai, and Starlett Update!

Mercy is doing good. The mysterious swelling in her right hind pastern is now gone. She just finished another loading series of Adequan and got all of her vaccines updated! All I am waiting for now is the all clear to start riding from Dr. Schneider, but until I can get an appointment with him I wait and continue to hand walk Mercy when I can...
Cuda is now spayed, microchipped, and vaccinated! We are still going through some interesting and difficult issue with housebreaking, but it is certainly better than the first week she was home. She goes to work with me Monday through Wednesday and gets lots of walks! Tough life for a little poo dog!

Chai, my Norwegian Forest cat did something to her right front leg when she was outside last Tuesday. She came into the house right after I got home from work and she was non-weight bearing on that leg and literally ROLLING in pain. We rushed her up to her regular vet and they ended up putting her on some antibiotics and steroids. We are also giving her a half a baby aspirin every 3 days, just in case this is a heart related condition, as the vet expects. She is responding well, but we still would like to to a cardiac work up on her, just so we know if something more serious is going on.

Starlett not only got her teeth done, she also had her stomach scoped for ulcers! She is has always been a classic cranky mare, but more recently cinching her up has become a more painful ordeal for her. Luckily for her and us, she is clean! No ulcers! She also had her vaccines updated and is good to go until fall!

BTW, the swallows have returned! Spring really is on the way! ;)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Quick Update

The last month has been crazy here! I started a new part-time job with crazy hours, I got a new dog, and Mercy has a new, slightly mysterious injury.
First off, meet Cuda! She is a 10 month old Shiba Inu cross.
She has really kept us on our toes! Cuda is a very busy, high energy dog. On one of our recent hikes out on the trails we stopped by the mountain bikers obstacle we so proudly named 'Shark.' She really like it!
And then of course she had to meet the horses. Star could really care less about her, but Mercy really wanted to see her!

Both were very friendly and respectful to each other. Cuda and the cats, however, did not get along at all at first. Cuda has now learned how to 'leave it' and pretty much ignores them now. The cats still don't really like her, but they will touch noses briefly before taking their leave. *sigh* It is just going to take some time.
And Mercy. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. Her left hind pastern has been swollen for a little over a week now. I waited 5 days before having the vet out to take a look, hoping it was just an abscess and it would work it's way out. Unfortunately, the swelling never really went away and an abscess never blew. She was not limping, wasn't painful to palpate, and had no noticeable digital pulse or heat. When the vet stopped by to check her out, she was acting very bad. She was trying to kick her hoof away from him and was generally unruly for us. We ended up getting the hoof testers out and putting her in a stall to confine her. She reacted once to one particular spot, but then we couldn't get her to react again, no matter how much we poked and prodded.
We untimely decided she must have kicked a stall wall or something hard and bruised her heel bulb. Her tendons and tendon sheaths palpated normal and we couldn't figure out where an abscess would be brewing, if there was one. Instead of hot soaking her hoof, as you would do for a hoof abscess, we decided to cold hose her fetlock and pastern. We'll see if we are right soon. I hope. Until then, no riding. *sigh*

Sunday, January 23, 2011

As Time Advances

I have ridden Mercy four times now since the last time I blogged! We are really moving now that Mercy has shoes on! I rode last Saturday for approximately 8 minutes. It was an easy up and down the road once or twice at a walk and then jump off and we're done.
I got home early from work on Tuesday and once again we just walked up and down the road first, sprinkled in a few trot sessions before saddling up. Mercy was feeling a little more 'up' today and kept trying to break into a trot once I was settled and going down the road. Star was not being cooperative in staying out of my way as I was ponying her, so I ended up only riding for maybe 5 minutes and then headed back to the house. There, Mercy and I had the time to work on bending and flexing, and to reconnect my leg to her hind and front quarters. Then, we were done for the day.
After that last ride, which wasn't horrible by any means, but just not what I wanted to build on, I decided to take a step back and work on complete basics at the house in the front pasture. I had planned on riding for 10 minutes, but it ended up being more like 6. And that's because she was doing so well that I decided to end our 'lessons' then and there! When i asked for the hind, she gave me the hind. When I asked for the front, she gave me the front. When I asked her to back, she backed like a pro. And when I asked her to sidepass, she flawlessly maneuvered to the left and right! I was so happy and proud of her effort, I tore the saddle off right there in the middle of the pasture. I hope we can grow on that!
And then yesterday, my mom and I went for a short ride on the flat, easy trails out back. After grooming the girls up, we took them for their walks up and down the road first to make sure everyone was loosened up and ready to ride out! We quickly saddled up and then walked the horses out to the back gate.
My mom jumped up on Star, but I decided to stay on the ground with Mercy because to get to these trails we have to go up and then down a slightly rocky hill. I can't afford to let Mercy get hurt again, not now that we are almost back to full-on riding again! So, I walked her, slowly, through that part of the trail and then jumped up. She didn't take any time in noticing what had changed on the trails since the last time we were out there... 3 months ago! First of all, she noticed that our 'No Trespassing' sign had fallen down and was now leaning against the truck of the tree from which it had fallen. Then she noticed the trash just a little ways up. When she saw the tree that was leaning over the trail precariously, she slowed her walk for a minute to look at it, but then continued on.
She did stride out rather slow, until we turned around a few minutes later... Once she figured out we were heading home, she was doing her typical appy blast-off! She was walking so fast! I had to take hold of her and slow her down, but I couldn't release that pressure, for if I did she was off again. She was walking, not trotting, so that was great, but it was too fast and she wasn't watching where she was putting her feet anymore.
I know this isn't ideal but I ended up getting off and walking her home. I just can't take that risk. But that will be the first thing I work on when I get the all clear to ride her hard again. Barn sourness.... I won't allow it to get worse! ;)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Riding Into The... Rain?

Last Sunday Mercy and I went for our first real ride in over 2 months! First, we stretched and loosened up our muscles by doing our normal walk and trot routine up and down the road. This time, however, we didn't do that for a half hour like normal. We just did about 15 minutes. On our last pass by the house we spotted three deer in the front yard ruminating! They were curiously watching as we walked up and down the street and eventually made our way back to the house to saddle up! I took my time saddling Mercy up. I knew she wouldn't forget what it was all about, but I also wanted to make sure she hadn't developed any new "sensitive" spots. I slowly cinched her up and walked her around. She could have cared less. She knew what we were up to and she was excited! In fact, she was trying to walk into the house in order to grab the bit out of my hands! LOL! She had her mouth as far open as it could go to grab the bit!

I finished tightening her cinch, walked her around one last time, and then asked her to side up to the wall of our driveway so i could get on easier. Once again, I didn't even have to ask, really! She just moved her hindquarters towards me so I could just throw a leg over!

Our ride up and down the flat, even road was short, but sweet. Mercy rode like we had not missed a day of riding ever! When I asked her to stop, she planted her butt into the ground. When I asked her to move out, she lengthened her stride. When I used my seat and legs to change direction or speed, she responded without me having to pick up the reins. When I did pick up my reins, she guided easily.
Those 5 minutes were the shortest 5 minutes of my life. We made one pass down the road and the ride was over. :'(
Our rides will progressively get longer from this point on. Right now i am to ride only 5 minutes a day for a week, and then slowly increase the time. And this is at a walk only. After a month or so, I can slowly add in some trot work. At that point I will get her re-evaluated by Dr. Schneider and hopefully return to trail riding and reining! *sigh* ;)
(Excuse us! We would like our granola bars now!!!)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Up Above The Ground Once More!

The New Year started out cold and bright at our place. The ground was super frozen and we had a decent dusting of snow that seemed to have no problem sticking around for a while.

Mercy was doing a good job handling the frozen ground with her barefeet for a while, but after a day or two I could tell she was really hurting. She wouldn't leave her stall or the covered, matted aisle way if she could help it. And if she did venture out, it was super slow and she gimped around the whole way to and from where ever it was that she was going. So she got to try on Starlett's old Easyboot Epics:

They fit quite nicely actually! It took a while for her to get use to the gaitors holding onto her pasterns, but it made getting around much easier for her once she figured it out! They were working so well for her, in fact, that we used them for our daily hand walks. She was striding out like I haven't seen her do in such a long time.

Yup, it's time to put her shoes back on. The farrier is coming out on Tuesday, so she will have front shoes back on in no time. That will make riding much easier now that I have the all clear to start riding her again! I can start at 5 minutes a day, just walking, and gradually increase to 30 minutes a day. At that point I can start to add a little jogging, but that is still a ways off.
Before I got this good news from the vet, my mom and I snuck in a quick bareback ride New Year's Day. It was a super short ride and the horses really enjoyed the freedom to move out faster than we wanted to walk when we had them in-hand.

Star took the lead for a while, at least until Mercy was done gawking...

Once Mercy had the horizon in sight, she tried multiple times to break into a jog. It was so hard not to let her go, but she needs to stay slow for now.

It was so much fun for everyone to get out and move out. I missed the view from above! Luckily, I don't have to stay down much longer.
If the rain and snow can hold off today, we have a real saddled-up ride planned. 20 minutes hand walking and 5 minutes in the saddle. Should be fun!