Today’s Rides

I brought King in and checked him over. It was pretty obvious that it was going to be one of his bad days. His hind end was quite tight all over. Both sides. No actual cramping that I could see, but just generally hard muscles.

Tacked him up and went for a short ride. He needs to go out for a bit of exercise every day. But I’m letting him dictate the pace. Today was walking only, he told me. A couple of times I asked him to trot and he stopped dead when I suggested it. So okay. He walked. We did a very slow and boring one mile loop around the back field. But towards the end he agreed to trot for a short stretch. It was on the way home of course. But even then he had no energy. Just a little western pleasure jog.

After finishing up with King, I brought Dressy in and tacked her up. Whole different story there. Dressy is cheerful and glowing with good health. She seemed happy to go out, though a bit speedy. I managed to get her settled into a steady, relatively slow trot (slow for a Standardbred anyway!) after a few zigzaggy moments. She had good heart rates, and felt strong and forward but not crazy. That ride on Sunday seems to have sharpened her up quite well. All those years of racing really pay off, even now, in how fast she fits up.

I didn’t have a lot of time, since I had to get back to work to feed this evening. So I only rode her for 45 minutes. But we managed to do five and half miles.

I am praying for cool weather on Sunday. We are going to try to do the 25 at Seoul’s Corners this weekend. I’m also praying for no rain until Sunday. Dressy would be better off if it rained during the ride itself. But for once, I’m not going to wish for that. The fates seem to be against that ride. It always seems to rain either before or during weekend, which can make for boggy trails. It’s too bad, because the trails are quite beautiful around Sharbot Lake. It’s up in the Canadian Shield, and there is lots of rock and lakes everywhere.


Working With King

Brought King in this afternoon and spent quite a bit of time with him. First cleaned his sheath. Gross job. King thinks it’s gross too. He turns around and looks at me with horrified disgust when I start. “Are you kidding?” He makes a face at me. Then he catches a whiff of the smell… “EEWWWWWW!” He blinks a couple of times and sniffs delicately, looking pained. I think maybe he’s embarrassed. He squirms a bit, but he’s really very good about the whole procedure. And he wasn’t too dirty actually. No bean, just a bit of crud at the edge of the sheath.

Then I worked on his hind feet. I’m trying to keep the toes nice and short with a good roll on them. He’s been very trippy behind with all these muscle issues. He is growing out what was probably an abcess up at the coronet band on his right hind. It never bothered him at the time. But there’s definitely some damage there. It’s down to about an inch above the toe now. Looks ugly but it’s not sensitive. I think it’s going to crumble a bit once it comes down a little more though. I could see some separation just starting in the wall when I rasped it today.

After all that, I took him out to the round pen and free lunged him for a while. He was very bouncy. Doing a big trot with lots of Arab head flinging. Then a few wild gallops for fun and some cowhorse spins. So he was feeling pretty good. After he settled a bit, I put a couple of trotting poles out for him and had him trot over them for cookies. It was a good game and he was pleased with it. Tried to cheat a few times. “How about if I just trot over ONE pole? Do I get paid for that? Why NOT???”

He felt pretty good last night when I rode him too. Not normal. But marginally better than he’s been lately anyway. We managed 40 minutes. Mostly walking but with a few minutes of volunteer trot and canter here and there too. So his energy levels are up slightly. He does fluctuate up and down though. So I’m not getting my hopes up yet.

I’ve put him back on the Magnesium Oxide as well as the oil. He was on it before and it seemed to help his spookiness/rudeness issues somewhat. The stuff I was using before was a fairly expensive Magnesium/Vit B supplement. This time I had the feed mill get me a bag of straight magnesium oxide. Much cheaper. And I’ll have enough magnesium to last for the next couple of years I think.



Riding Dressy in the Ganaraska Forest

Put Diego and Dressy on the trailer yesterday and hauled them over to the Ganaraska Forest to ride with Chrystal and her little whizbang Arab mare, Gracie.

We parked at the end of Porter road in the small parking lot and met Chrystal there. Dressy came off the trailer looking very flat and hadn’t eaten much hay. After last week’s overheating incident at the training ride I was a bit concerned. I pulled out my stethoscope and checked her heart rate… 28. I think maybe she’d been napping on the trailer.

The weather was cool and overcast with a fairly strong wind. Perfect weather for Dressy. She cruised along easily after the galloping Arabs. Grace led most of the day, which is generally best. Gracie is highly competitive. She’s an ex-racehorse off the Arab track in Michigan. When she retired, she held a track record. It’s probably been broken now, but she is very very fast. Small but mighty, that’s Grace.

Dressy is starting to gallop a bit more easily. She still will trot very fast of course. She is a Standardbred after all. But more and more, when the Arabs start to gallop, Dressy breaks into a slightly ungainly looking, but easy to ride gallop. It’s very flat and comfortable once you stop expecting the rocking horse thing. Like riding a gaited horse. Well okay, she IS a gaited horse but it’s like her gallop is one of those special saddle gaits (rack, slow gait, fox trot, etc). Lots of sound and fury (okay… hoofbeats) under you, but no movement up on top. You just sit there easily.

We did around 14 1/2 miles and then went to Chrystal’s for dinner. Diego did more like 17-18 miles since Misha rode back with Chrystal. And Gracie did around 20 or so. I put Dressy on the trailer and drove the rig back. We passed the two horses on the way, and Diego perked up as we passed. “Hey! That’s my trailer!”

Interestingly, he was more willing to load up than usual when we got back to the farm. I don’t think he liked having his boss mare leave him in a strange place like that. He was very happy to see her and stood quietly on the trailer while we ate dinner. It was a very good trailering day all-around for Diego.

Didn’t get home until around 9pm. So after working in the morning, and riding all afternoon, not to mention all the driving… I was done. Passed out as soon as I fed the starving ponies.


Vegas Ran Yesterday

Vegas had a good race yesterday in the first at Woodbine. A mile and a sixteenth Maiden Allowance. He led all the way, looking really strong but faded a bit at the end and was caught.  Vegas was Freckles’ colt by Pleasant Tap. A year younger than Parker. So another of Reno’s (the orphan) older brothers.

He’s got a totally different personality from Parker. Vegas saunters into the paddock at Woodbine and ambles around looking at the people. Wondering if any of them have snacks. He’s big and kind of lazy. Looks like a big old police horse, not a racehorse. But he’s powerful and very hard to hold once he’s on the track.


Small Emergency, Big Head

I was mowing the lawn this afternoon on the big riding mower. Cruising around in the sun. Looked over at the horses and thought “Gee, Ares is acting a bit strangely”. Then thought “Gee, why does Ares head look so odd?”. Ares was looking quite distressed actually. So I jumped off the mower and went over to investigate. His head was looking a bit swollen. And as I watched, it seemed to be getting way more swollen. And bumps were coming up all over his body. I suddenly realized he was having quite a severe allergic reaction to something. He was very glad to see me (well… when he turned so he left eye was looking at me anyway… not sure he could see out of his right eye by then), and was extremely happy to be led into the barn and into a nice safe box stall. It appears that he probably ran into a nest of yellowjackets out in the pasture somewhere and got multiple stings. I put Zamaluck in beside him, and then called the vet.

I could see the swelling increasing as I watched, and at one point felt a bit alarmed that possibly his nostrils would swell shut. His muzzle got really enormous and he did start to whistle a bit as he breathed. I had to loosen his halter, as it started looking like it would get too tight with all the swelling. The photo at left was taken after the swelling had come down very considerably.

I tried cold hosing him. But I had forgotten that his previous owner had warned me of his fear of hoses. That was definitely NOT happening. So I got a bucket instead and sponged him with cold water while I waited. I don’t know if it really helped, but it seemed like a safe treatment anyway. And I could tell that he liked it. He’s really a sweetheart. He wanted me to help him, and was actively asking for comfort. Resting his forehead against me and following me around the stall.

The vet called back and had me give banamine (a painkiller), dexamethasone (a steroid), and an antihistamine. I had to run down to the farm where I work to steal the dex and the antihistamine. But gave him banamine before I left. He looked quite a bit more comfortable already by the time I got back. And once I got the dex and the antihistamine into him, it was amazing how quickly the swelling started coming down. He seems to be much more comfortable and looks a good deal more like a horse and less like something out of the black lagoon now.

He’s out with Zamaluck in the round pen for a couple of days so I can keep an eye on him and continue giving him antihistamines. Zam seems quite concerned about his beloved friend’s health and well being.

Zamaluck is 11 years old and has never had a friend before. In his entire life. Ares likes him, and Zamaluck is totally besotted. They go everywhere together. Quite literally. Check out the photos of them grazing together a couple of days ago (before the swollen head).

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Parker Raced Well Last Night

Parker raced last night at Woodbine. He had a very good race and finished third. There was a massive thunderstorm while he was in the paddock and he ended up walking for a very long time before they finally went to the post. Since he is not the most patient of horses, he did amazingly well. Though he did leap around a bit when some of the worst booms went off. Here’s his race (his name is Danish Spirit).


Dressy At Summer’s End

Yesterday I took Dressy (and Diego as well) to Summer’s End Training Ride over in Bailieboro, Ontario, which is just on the edge of the Ganaraska Forest. It’s a very pretty area, with lots of hills.

In the morning we had the clinic portion. First Marg Murray and Marion Shearer gave an overview presentation of the different disciplines that OCTRA offers… Endurance, Competitive Trail, Ride n Tie, Set Speed, and Mileage rides. Each has slightly different rules, but the training is essentially the same for the horses. It’s the equivalent of human marathon training.  After Marg and Marion were finished, Dr Kathy Kivi talked about electrolytes and horse health.

Rose Danko gave an explanation of Set Speed rules. It’s a new discipline in OCTRA, and not well understood by most members. But basically it’s between 10 and 50 miles. A speed range is set, depending on competition level. Yesterday’s ride was between 4 and 7 mph. In a graded ride, the competitors are awarded grades depending on the combined score of pulse and speed. A low pulse and a high speed will give you the best grade. Grades are, from highest to lowest, 1, 2, 3, 4, or completion.

After Rose was done, I gave a quick demonstration of how to present your horse to the judges and what the horse health check is all about. I’m a lay judge when I’m not competing myself. Which means that I perform vet checks at competitions (under the supervision of the head veterinarian).

Finally, Julie Green gave a presentation on hoof care and booting. She’s an EasyCare distributor and her husband is a barefoot trimmer. There seemed to be lots of interest in the topic.

The weather was horribly hot. The temperature was 27 C, but humidity was 95%. It was just awful. Heat has always been a problem for Dressy, so that was not a good sign.

Dressy and I sponsored Solstice in the Ride n Tie. Her little mare was quite excited, so I ponied them out the first little bit of the loop until we got into the forest and she could tuck her in behind Dressy to keep her slowed down. She’s a cute little horse, but was a little bit boggled by all the excitement.

The little mare was not the only horse boggled… Diego threw a hissy fit when his boss mare left. I could hear Misha yelling at him as we disappeared into the trees. I heard later that his initial vet check was very out of control. Though I think he improved through the day.

Solstice and her dad won the ride n tie. The other team, Michelle and her daughter Cassandra, were right behind us. Dressy and I won a $10 Tim Horton’s gift certificate for sponsoring the winners, which was nice.

Dressy’s vet checks in the ride n tie were good. No problems. We went back out to do the 15 mile Set Speed ride shortly afterwards. We sponsored Laura, who was riding Sue Downing’s 19 year old Arab mare, Holly. (I just looked it up, and I think that Holly just got her 1000 miles yesterday!)

There were three 5 mile loops, with the option (since it was a training ride) to stop after any loop and take that mileage. Dressy did well on the first loop. Good heart rates. At the first check, she drank well and was absolutely starving. She vetted through fine. I tacked her back up (with some help from Julie – who was a big help to everyone at the checks) and led her over to let her drink and suddenly she started acting like she wanted to drop and roll. Immediately I had a total panic attack, thinking she must be colicky. Ripped the tack back off her and took her back over to the vet (jumping the line in the process). The vet checked her over, but couldn’t find anything wrong. She wasn’t trying to roll, and had gut sounds all around. The vet thought that maybe she’d had a bit of a gas bubble or something. So we tacked back up and went out again for our second 5 mile loop.

For the first couple of miles she seemed fine. Then I thought she seemed a little less forward. I checked her heart rate and found that it wasn’t registering on the watch. The monitor had shifted a bit under the girth and wasn’t reading. I reached down and tinkered with it and started getting some intermittent readings. None of them very good. Mostly up in the 140 to 160 range. They may or may not have been valid readings, but I was a bit worried. So I told Laura we needed to walk for a while. Eventually I got more reliable readings and she seemed to have dropped down to a more reasonable level. By the time we hit the end of that five miles, I thought that she might have stopped sweating, which really worried me. She felt extremely hot to the touch. So I figured we were probably done for the day.

At the check, she had a nice low pulse… 36. The judge noted that she was skipping heart beats, which is something she normally does, so of no concern. But she skipped for a bit longer than usual and several times during the 15 second count (she was trying to nap at the time). And when she trotted out for her CRI (cardiac recovery index), she woke up again. Second count was 14. Which is very very bad. The judge pointed out that it was just because she did not skip any beats on the second count, but Dressy has had enough 9/9 CRIs that I know there is no excuse for a 9/14. Her trot out was a bit wonky for a couple of steps, but the vet watched it on a second trot and decided that it was just a bit of toe-dragging and not a lameness. She got a completion. But probably only because I was not going on for another loop.  She was very hungry at that check too, and gobbled up every bit of food she could find. Drank well all day. Had lots of electrolytes.

I really think she was suffering from heat exhaustion. She has never done well when it was hot. And I think that the heat and humidity wiped her out. She was completely herself again within about half an hour. The vet checked her over once more and found nothing wrong. She had gut sounds all the way around all day. Came off the trailer at home looking good. Looks good today.

And, despite all the worry… she ended up taking a grade 1 in the 10 mile set speed ride. Her final pulse was 36 and average speed was 6mph. So by the numbers, she did really well.

I sent Laura back out for the third loop with Marg, and they did finish the 15 miles. Which gave Holly her long-awaited 1000 miles. Holly has been out of competition for a few years due to a very bad injury that Sue suffered. It was bad enough that she was told never to ride again, and so gave up riding Holly, who can be a bit of a handful (especially if there are cows in the vicinity!). Sue now rides the lovely and very quiet Foxy, who is one of my rehomed Standardbreds. This year, Holly has been ridden by a junior rider and has been creeping up on the 1000 mile mark. She sure was cheerful out on trail. You can tell that Holly just loves going down the trail. She looked like a five year old bouncing along out there.

Diego had an excellent day. He has no problems with heat. In fact he’s one of those crazy Arabs who gets cold if you put too much water on him. He did the 15 miles fast enough that he had to wait a while before the finish line so he didn’t get disqualified for finishing too fast. His final pulse was 40 and average speed was just under 7mph. So he got a grade 1 as well (in the 15 mile Set Speed).

Chrystal’s horse Grace finished her first ride too. She also got a grade 1 (Chrystal and Misha rode together… galloping like a pair of hooligans). Grace came off the Arab racetrack and her brain has been a bit of a problem. But Chrystal said she did well. No meltdowns. Of course that could be just because they went fast enough that brakes weren’t all that necessary 🙂

Reno and Twister Update

We’ve been soaking Twister’s foot to try to finish draining the hoof abcess. So in the morning, we leave him in the arena until that’s done. Reno stays with Twister of course, since Twister is his surrogate parent. So this morning when they were both hanging out at the arena door, I took a picture of them in the same spot as a photo I took of them when Reno was about two weeks old. He is now almost five months old. And look how much he’s grown!  Twister is 14.3hh. Reno will be dwarfing him in no time. The first picture was taken in the first week of April. Second photo was today (Aug 18).

Lots of Gory Stuff Today

Fair warning… there’s kind of a big ick factor in today’s post 🙂

Long day at work. Twister (Reno, the orphan foal’s foster parent) has been sort of lame off and on for the last few days. We figured it was probably an abcess. But it was getting better, then worse, then better… Today it got really bad. He was three-legged lame by late morning. Poor guy. We brought him and Reno in and soaked the foot in hot water and epsom salts for a while. Then I started poking around the sole with a hoof pick. Found a couple of soft spots and got the hoof rasp. A couple of swipes and oops! there went the abcess. A whole lot of pus and fluid oozed out. Pulsed out, actually. Very yucky. But I bet Twister felt a lot better afterwards. He started walking a little easier right away. I’ve never actually seen a hoof abcess burst in front of me like that before. Gross, but sort of interesting too.

This afternoon, the vet came to geld the two little boys, Freeman and Winchester. Winchester has fairly severe separation anxiety when he’s put in a stall away from Freeman. So we did him first. He careened wildly around the stall, smashing me into the wall a couple of times while the vet, amazingly, managed to get the needle into his jugular. Luckily the stuff works fast, and he subsided into a drugged haze. He stood very well, and didn’t seem alarmed at the procedure at all.

Freeman stood quite well for the needle. But even in a drugged haze, he managed to kick hard and fast at each incision. He’s an unpredictably reactive horse, so we are extremely cautious about everything with him. We told the vet what to expect, and so he was well clear of the kicks. It took quite a while to get the second testicle. Apparently it was small and quite twisted. But eventually the vet managed to get it as well.

So both little boys have now had their brain surgery. Which means that once they’ve had some time for the hormones to subside, they can be turned out with the 2-year olds in the big pasture next to the mares. Should make things a bit easier… at least until this year’s bunch are weaned anyway.

Garmin Heart Rate Monitor

After replacing my Garmin Forerunner 205, with a 305 (due to Swamp Dog snacking on the 205), I now have a heart rate monitor along with the watch. It’s for humans, not horses. But I have figured out a way to use it without modification on the horse. Today I tried it out on Dressy and it worked just fine.

Here’s a link to the GPS and HR data that I’ve uploaded to the Garmin Connect website. Heart rate data is at the lower right corner.

All I did was cut a little slice in my sheepskin girth cover. Slid the monitor inside the cover (on the inside against the horse), pulled one end through at the bottom, and the other end out the top edge. Leaving the transmitter portion inside the sheepskin cover and the electrodes against Dressy’s skin. Then I tied the top end of the monitor to the girth.

I rode her six miles this evening with it on. It didn’t shift, and other than one momentary lapse, it seemed to read steadily through the entire ride. No sign of any rubbing or irritation from it, but of course six miles isn’t very far. I will have to see how it works for longer distances.