Saturday, January 16, 2016


When I renamed this blog, I should gone with 'A Series of Unfortunate Events.'

Ruby is healthy, at least, but not sound.  Here is a message I sent a Masterson Method practitioner through FB this morning:

'Ok, here goes the novel.

First, her feet.  She has good hoof walls, big frogs, but she's slightly pigeon-toed in front and has low-slung heels.  Right now, because of the weather we've had, she has a case of seedy-toe that I'm trying to wipe out.  I chose my original farrier based on the other horses' feet at my barn but it didn't sit right with me that I had to request he not carve into her sole.  I've studied hoof trimming and started doing them myself.  I have occasionally had other farriers, including the only certified farrier that I know of in the area, look at her feet and they claim that I'm doing a good job.  Unfortunately, I'm slow at trimming, and she's so uncomfortable, that I'm going to have to get someone else to do them again.  I'm hoping the certified farrier will have an opening for me.  If not, I'll have to go back to the first guy.  At least I know that he won't carve into the sole if I ask him not to.  It also never sit right with me that most of the farriers around here are okay with hoof cracks.

Ok, her previous injuries.  Ruby came to me covered in (healed) wire cuts and a hard knot on her right hind fetlock.  But she moved beautifully and I enjoyed her no-nonsense, all-business personality so I ended up adopting her.  I had two vets look at the knot and they both said 'if it doesn't bother her, don't worry about it.'  I re-started her and she was amazing.  Then she feel in the trailer.  We were taking a left in an intersection and the road was graded to the point that the trailer moved a lot.  We felt a thump.  The driver pulled over immediately and I ran back to check the horses.  Both were up so we continued on our way.  When we got to our destination, it was obviously that Ruby had fallen.  She had manure on her left knee and her right hip, so she twisted when she fell...I trotted her out with the friend watching and she was sound so we rode a few miles. She was LAME the next day and I felt so guilty.  I was never able to pinpoint exactly where she was lame, no heat or swelling, no limping specific to a certain hoof/leg.  She seemed sound a few weeks later but I gave her another month and a half off, to be safe.  When we started riding again, she seemed fine for several months.

Suspensory ligament: that day we were riding with a gaited mare.  We trotted a few times and both mares were being very competitive with each other (they'd never ridden together).  Eventually we just gave up on moving out and walked.  We did six miles, gave them a break at the trailer, then went back out for a 3-mile loop.  Ruby was being pretty pokey, especially for her.  I figured she was tired.  About 3/4 of a mile in, I heard a pop when she stepped.  It was loud enough that the other rider heard it too.  I got down, checked her feet and legs, led her for a while, and she seemed fine.  A quarter of a mile or so later, I remounted.  She was very slow.  I asked for a short trot and she was head-bobbing lame.  I got back down and led her back to the trailer.  My riding buddy kept claiming that she wasn't limping and was striding out, but something was obviously very wrong.  When we got back to the road, I watched her closely for any lameness but she was happy and forward.  When I tied her to the trailer, and re-checked her feet and legs, I noticed that the knot on her fetlock had swollen.  It was always hard before, now it was bigger and squishy.  The vet diagnosed her with a suspensory ligament injury, possibly a re-injury.  I decided to play it safe and, basically, gave her a year off.  That was November 2014.

In early May, I had a good chiropractor come out.  Ruby was very reactive in her hips, somewhat reactive in her neck and shoulders.  He did some laser/light therapy on her.  He really took his time.  The next day I realized that the little knots of swelling she had on the lower part of the ligament that runs down the back of their hind legs (don't remember the name right now) was completely gone. I planned to have her adjusted at least every other month.

At the end of May, she had her chest injury.  It was very deep, and she developed a raging infection.  I was wrestling with the decision to take her to UF or put her down when she suddenly turned around.  What a relief that was.  The summer was really hot and oppressive, and all of those vet bills were so expensive (vet was having to come out every other day or so for about two weeks), that the chiro fell off the radar for a while.

Fast forward to November.  I lunged her a few times and she was moving okay but not quite herself.  I hoped that the change was just due to all the time off, so I started her back in work slowly.  The day she fell, I lunged her a little first to get a friend's opinion on her movement.  I felt like I could see something but my friend said she looked fine.  I saddled up and we started riding in the arena.  We walked for 10-15 minutes when I asked for a trot.  She picked it up immediately - she always does.  She felt really good.  Not heavy on the forehand - it was a great feeling, so balanced.  We straightened out of an easy curve, went another stride to two, and bam, she went down.  I thought that she'd gone all the way to her knees, but my friend said she didn't think so.  Ruby got back up quickly.  I got down to check her over.  She didn't have marks on her knees, so didn't go all the way down, and hadn't caught either of her front feet with her hinds.  She looked fine but I called it a day.

A week later, I had another friend watch us ride at a walk.  Ruby felt weird.  Stiff in the hips, weak in the front.  The friend was of the opinion that there was definitely something not right, and it seemed to be all over - no definite point of lameness.

Since then, I have seen Ruby trip several times when moving loose.  Coming into her stall, etc. She seems to be having multiple issues.  The local vets seem reluctant (or stumped).  I've considered taking her to B. Equine, but if I'm going to spend that kind of cash, I'd rather take her all the way to UF.  And yet, I'm worried about how she'll do on the trailer ride...or even getting onto the trailer.  Something is obviously going on and I'm almost afraid to find out what it is.  I know that sounds ridiculous but I really love her and am scared of the diagnosis.'

There was some more rambling by me and we eventually set a date for her to come out and perform some body work on Ruby on the 27th of this month.  I'm not hopeful.  Ruby has something going on with her right front - she is evading me when I go to pick it up, and starts shaking when I do get it up. She has almost gone down on me a few times, if I hold it for too long.  Also, she's no longer just tripping...she's actively limping.   For now, dreams of doing endurance with Ruby are dead and buried.  I'm hopeful that I'll be able to make her comfortable and maybe ride her occasionally.  I'm also hopeful that I'll be in a position to add another horse in a year or two.  Time will tell.  Don't be surprised if the blog is abandoned for an indefinite period of time.  I will probably update if the body-work session goes well, but I don't expect a substantial change in her soundness. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rash of horse thefts

These are frightening times for Florida horse owners.  I see several new stolen/missing horse posts come across my FB feed every week.  And some of them are ending like this:

Three-year-old QH removed from stall, slaughtered nearby

Show horse slaughtered

This is the latest one that I've seen.  Thunder has been missing for a few days and was recently discovered slaughtered: 23-year old STB, Thunder

Horse theft is nothing new, but for Florida horse owners it now means wondering if your friend was incapacitated and butchered while he/she was still alive.  Keep us in your thoughts.  These people are very bold, and I don't believe they will stop until they're in custody.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sometimes it's the small things

She looks so good with her mane roached.  P.S. The spot in her right ear has been checked by the vet - it's a wart.  I was having heart palpitations for a while thinking it might be melanoma. 
Ruby has been ever so slightly cranky regarding her role change from pasture ornament back into riding horse.  It is to be expected, I suppose, considering her general hate for all things arena.  Still, other than the 'walk of sulk' when we are heading to the arena and an occasional lean towards the gate afterwards, she's been doing well.  Her trot has undergone a transformation for the better - it's rhythmic, much more rateable, and (omg) really balanced.  In the past, her trot (much of the time) has been extremely fast, unbalanced, and on the forehand. Not scary, but definitely not fun.  I thought what she needed was to figure out how to carry us both around but now I'm thinking maybe it had something to do with some of our tack.

Saddle pad: change to Skito with shoulder shims and laminated inserts.  The Skito inserts do not compress nearly as much as the Equipedic inserts do.  And the shoulder shims, though thin and nearly unnoticeable to me, seem to be helping me to keep my balance back a bit more - I have a tendency to lean too far forward, no matter the horse.  Last year, having my stirrups short enough to post properly also meant that at the end of a ride, my knees would be screaming.  Having them one hole longer, and no knee pain, meant that posting was really more like 'bouncing with rhythm'.  I did a lot of two-point last year.

I also recently changed her girth to a new Montana Cincha.  I mention 'new' because the design of the buckle guards is slightly different than the old one I have.  First, the buckle guard material is much thicker - on the old one, you can easily feel the buckles through the neoprene.  Second, the girth has velcro over the buckles; fastening the velcro pulls the neoprene around the buckles so that the neoprene edges aren't in contact with the wrinkles behind her front legs.  Warning: grainier-than-normal iPhone pics ahead.

Notice the front edge of the buckle guard.
And now, with the velcro fastened, the neoprene wraps around the buckles a bit.
Her trot is still fast, but just so much better. It may have nothing to do with our recent tack changes, but I'm thinking this is all a little too coincidental to just write off.  It's amazing how seemingly small these changes were to me, but may be having a big effect on Ruby.  Duly noted, Ruby. 

We're moving slowly and I'm realizing that I really don't mind.  We are mostly walking and installing/refining certain buttons.  No trail rides on the horizon for now but I'm crossing fingers that the hubby will able to work on the truck over the coming holiday weekend.

Slightly stretched out because of the water hose.  Notice the belly shrinkage!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Barn Drama

But first, a pic of The Mare, approaching me in the pasture Saturday morning <3

The worst part about boarding, besides the expense and the drive, is barn drama.  I have been lucky at this barn - there is very little drama, and what there has been in the past has been extinguished quickly.  *Warning: rant post ahead*

Last night, I went out to the barn to clean Ruby's stall, reset her feed, and just in general hang out with my horse for a while.  I wasn't the only one there, and could hear laughter on the other side of the barn so I went to see who was there.

As I walked around the corner of the barn, I saw three ladies sitting at the picnic table and two dogs running towards me.  A lot of people bring their dogs out, and there is always a sprint to see who the new person is and get some pets, so I didn't do more than glance at them.

Mistake.  Both dogs ran at me as the folks at the table yelled greetings to me, one on my left, one on the right.  The one on my right kept running full speed and bit me on the leg HARD.  It didn't feel like a bite so much as like I'd been kicked by a horse or hit by something equally solid.  I stood there, shocked for a second, then told them the dog bit me as he ran off.

I tried not to make a big deal about it for several reasons.  First, I was still a little bewildered that it even happened: I wasn't being aggressive with my body language, I didn't yell a greeting at them, etc.  Second, I was wearing jeans and the dog was fairly small (40 pounds or so?).  The owner told me that he didn't have many teeth and I checked my leg, which wasn't bleeding.  And, in general, I don't try to instigate drama.  The dogs came over to smell me while I helped these ladies pack up their stuff, and it was no big deal.  I wasn't worried about these dogs because due to their size and my background, I could have handled it if they decided to be aggressive again.  I could have handled it if I'd recognized the situation for what it was before I was bitten, but I digress.  It happened fast and I wasn't prepared.

Heather (barn owner and a very good friend of mine), pulled in as they were leaving.  I went into the tack room to check my leg in the light, and told her what happened.  I had two almost puncture wounds and big welt forming near my shin.  Heather was pissed and switched to barn owner mode.  I realized my mistake as this was happening.  But, as she was telling me that she'd let the owner know the dog wasn't allowed on the property anymore, I realized that was probably best.  People bring kids out there, and a child would have been hurt much more seriously. 

Fast forward to this morning, I get a message from Heather stating that the dog belongs to a breed rescue and is going to be put down.  I felt horrible.  Yes, the owner needs to learn about dog training and behavior (and horse training and behavior, for that matter!), but the situation could have been completely avoided if the owner had kept the dog on a leash.  I messaged the owner to express my condolences for everything and received a nasty text in return.  She called me a liar and accused me of 'running to Heather.'  HA!  OMG...I'm honestly still pissed about this (obviously, or I wouldn't be ranting on the internet!).  I think I handled the situation with as much class as I was able to muster, while still telling her not to call me a liar and informing her that I don't need anyone to fight my battles.  If I had been pissed last night, she would have known it.

Anyways, fast forward a bit.  I called the rescue that was supposedly going to put the dog down to plead his case a bit...and they didn't know what I was talking about.  Nice.  It was obvious that the lady I talked to was trying not to say that I'd been the one lied to, while still saying that they have no record of the phone call that the owner made - and she is the coordinator for this county.  She said she would call the owner and they would work closely with a dog behaviorist to see if the dog was, essentially, savable.  The rescue coordinator thanked me several times for calling them and promised to keep me informed on the dog's situation.

So, I've done my good deed but I'm not looking forward to the escalating drama.  I have a hellacious temper that I've had to work hard to control, but a person can only take so much.  That being said, this person is considering selling her horse, whom she also cannot control, so maybe the drama will be short-lived.

Yes, yes, I do need a tan.
UGH, I'm still so pissed about her nasty texts.  I would not have handled this situation by blaming the person who was bitten by my dog.  I understand, kind of, that she's probably just lashing out because she's upset about the dog but GROW UP ALREADY.  We'll see what happens. I'm not one of those sue-happy people and it shouldn't get infected since the skin isn't really broken and I was wearing jeans - those two spots are almost like blood blisters.  Hopefully by the time it heals the drama will be over.   

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New 'dos

One for Ruby.  I finally bit the bullet and roached her mane.  She grows a rather scraggly mane anyway, and she HATES when I have to brush through tangles.  Tail tangles are no big deal, but working through mane tangles, even very carefully, aggravates this redheaded mare. 

I'm a bad blogger - this is the best pic I have of Ruby's roached mane. 
And one for me.

I think I'll let it get a little longer, then maintain.  Long enough to cover the ears maybe?
My hair has never been this short...ever. 

Last Saturday.  Notice the lather - it was HOT!
In other news, the picture above shows mine and Ruby's first time back on the trails.  My hubby arranged to take me horse camping for my birthday, Candy as his steed, but truck problems caused a change of plans.  Instead we went to Tenoroc, and rode the short 3.5 mile loop.  It worked out for the best though, because neither Candy nor Ruby have been off-property in months and both were in raging heat and my hubby is an inexperienced rider - riding them on trails both they and I knew made me feel better about the situation.  After an exciting first half-mile, the girls found their stride.  Ruby was much slower than she used to be - could be because she's out of shape, she was walking slower for Candy, or she just wasn't feeling it?  On this loop there are a few small hills - to me, these hills were a test, of sorts.  When Ruby got hurt last year, on this same loop, she had a very hard time walking up the hills.  Down was fine, while going up was obviously painful.  On Saturday she powered right up the hills, which was a huge relief. 

Unfortunately, getting back on the trails regularly will have to wait until we get the truck fixed.  I hope to have more trail stories soon. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Two Rides

Yesterday afternoon
Two short rides this week, one on Sunday afternoon, one yesterday afternoon.  Ruby seems happy to be 'working' again - she has been amazing. We have trotted a few times for 2-3 minutes each time.  She must be feeling good, because she has been rather competitive with the other horses during these short trot stretches.  These rides have been very short: 2-3 laps around the pasture, maybe 30 minutes each.  I am watching her fetlock/lower leg closely and linimenting it after rides.  As we increase time in the saddle, she will start wearing her Equisleeves overnight.  I have her on MSM to help with inflammation; nothing stronger because I want her to feel it (and tell me) if we start doing too much.  I'm feeling hopeful, terrified,...and slightly obsessed. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

New Skito

After incessantly checking my email for the last week and a half, I got a shipping notification from Skito on Thursday.  The pad wasn't supposed to arrive until Tuesday, so I put it out of my head.  However, it was waiting for me this afternoon when I returned home from a quick errand - woohoo!

I headed out to the barn as soon as I was finished with some things around the house.  Within 15 minutes of my arrival, when I was still cleaning Ruby's stall, this happened.

Total downpour
One good thing about Florida weather is that it can go from downpour to sunny in just a few minutes.

By the time I was done with Ruby's stall, it had stopped raining.  However, now that the grass was soaked (and slick), no trotting for us.  That's okay, there will be other rides.

I was a terrible blogger and didn't get pics of Ruby all tacked up in her new pad.  Suffice to say that I really like how much more wither clearance this pad has compared to the Equipedic.  I also like that the inserts are beveled, are thinner than the Equipedic's, and are firmer.  The workmanship on it is beautiful, and the color really pops.  I used a longer girth and really slathered on the Chamois Butt'r in her 'armpits', then mounted up.  Ruby seemed to be very comfortable during our 15 minute ride around the barnyard.  In fact, and I feel horrible about this, a few times it seemed she was expecting something (a pinch from the girth?) but when it didn't happen, she hesitated for a fraction of a second, then lengthened her stride.  A few weeks of building her up in the pasture and arena with some road riding, then I hope we'll be able to hit the trails again.