Update on King

A couple of days ago, after feeling kind of sorry for myself, I decided to take King out for a little ride. He always makes me smile. He was thrilled to have the halter on and very happy to finally get some attention. I brushed him, and he preened as usual. Wiggled his lips at me while I brushed him, and fluttered his eyelashes when I told him that he was still the handsomest refrigerator of a horse in the world.

I had to take the girth down… er… three holes from where it sits on Dressy. He was not in the least concerned about his portliness though. Stood like a rock while I tacked him up, watching with his ears perked and a very cheerful expression. He parked nicely for me while I got on, and turned around to request his mounting block cookie.

We ambled around the fields, which are quite deep in grass (up to my shoulders in a couple of spots… while I was mounted!). King adored that, and ate the grass tops as we walked. He didn’t even have to put his head down and still managed to have huge wads hanging out of either side of his mouth.

At one point, we startled a coyote in the tall grass. I don’t know if it was napping or just not paying attention. But it leapt up unexpectedly about 20 feet away. King was a bit startled, and didn’t know what to do, so I turned him towards it and said “Let’s GET IT!!” King took one step towards it and the coyote jumped backwards. “Hmmm” said King, and took another step. The coyote turned and trotted a few steps. King took a couple of trotting steps and the coyote bolted out of sight. King was amazed and delighted at that outcome. He puffed himself up and marched back the way we’d come. “We showed him!!”

King loves to explore, and we checked out his favorite spots. He much prefers narrow little single track trails to open spaces. So we had to look in each little opening in the trees. Inspect my uncle’s woodworking project. Taste some tree leaves. Survey the golf course next door, and generally examine the universe.

He did trot a few short stretches, but always pulled himself up sort of oddly. He tends to park out as if he has to pee, and sometimes actually does pee (twice in half an hour). He’s been doing this with increasing frequency during rides for the last few years. Four different vets have looked at him, with no luck. His blood work is always normal. And he’s not lame. But if I ride him often, or far, he ends up with muscle cramps. He’s also developed a problem with tripping behind.

The one thing the vets always look at is the tumours growing around his throat (saliva glands), and the sprinkling of others over his body (one under the tail, one on his hip, one beside his tail, etc). The tumour on the right side of his throatlatch is now quite large (like half an orange). The vets always look at it all silently. Then look at me sort of sideways. Yep. I know he has melanomas. And yes, I also know there could be tumours growing in places we can’t see. Most grey horses with melanomas die of old age before they can die of the cancer, because it’s so slow growing in horses. But I tend to think that’s not going to be the case with King.

However, since there’s not much I can do about it, I just try to enjoy him while he’s here. He’s very happy, and a very entertaining horse to live with. Highly vocal, very people-oriented, and smart (usually in a bad way!). He’s only 12, and I hope I get a good few more years with him yet. Even if I can’t ride him much, he still gives me joy.

Looking for an Arab

So, to my surprise, I’ve already had a couple of people email me with suggestions for horses or even offering horses. It didn’t even occur to me when I posted yesterday that I was shopping that this could happen. But now that it has… I thought perhaps I’d go into some detail about what sort of horse I’m actually looking for in case there’s one standing around in someone’s pasture looking forlorn 🙂

If you look at pictures of Dressy and of King, it will probably be apparent rather quickly that I like bigger horses with good solid bone, correct legs, big feet, a nice shoulder, strong back/loin and some natural roundness. If I could critique anything about King’s conformation, it would be his hind end, which has rather straight angles, and since his issues have ended up being in his hind end… I’d like to avoid that issue this time.

King is 15.2hh, Dressy is 16hh. While I am perfectly aware that a 14.1hh Arab is a very capable weight carrier, I’m just not comfortable going long distances on a horse that small. I’m a middleweight rider, and on the upper end of that range to boot. Even on Dressy (who is not overly deep through the girth) I find my lower leg is hanging down a bit lower than I like and have to shorten my stirrups an inch or two shorter than I do with King. So I think my cutoff is about 14.3hh and up, and solidly built.

I prefer mares, but like geldings too, so a nice enough gelding would tempt me. Age needs to be somewhere between 4 and 11. If I could pick a pedigree… King’s got exactly what I like (really King would be perfect. Sigh.). He’s Polish and Crabbet (by a son of Azraff out of a Polish/Crabbet mare). I like Polish, Crabbet, and Russian bloodlines. I do not like Egyptians (sorry, I’m sure I’m offending someone with that!) unless they are also Crabbet or CMK. And I don’t want to look at halter bloodlines.

Broke to ride is pretty important. But I’m okay with green broke as long as they are sensible. I could do without serious spookiness. But I don’t mind forward. And I like very smart horses with lots of personality. Which is why I like Arabs of course 🙂

Latest Dressy Update

Dressy is feeling very fine. Jen mowed the upper paddock today, and Dressy, King, and Twister were galloping gleefully around it. Dressy apparently doing spectacular mountain goat leaps in the air just for the sheer joy of it. Being fit but not working agrees with her world view completely.

She looks great, and thinks highly of herself right now. Her heart has stayed in normal rhythm. But the anhidrosis problem is not fully resolved. She is able to sweat some. But it is still not normal. The Guinness has definitely helped, but hasn’t cured her totally. I’ve increased her to two a day on my vet’s recommendation. He came on Friday and took blood for thyroid tests. That’s a longshot, but needs to be eliminated as a possibility.

I also called a company in the States that manufactures a supplement that has been tested at the University of Florida on anhidrotic horses with some success. They mailed a one month supply of it (it’s called ‘One AC’ and is available from http://www.nonsweater.com ). One AC contains L-Tyrosine (an amino acid), B vitamins, choline, and a few other things, all of which are supposed to encourage extra dopamine production in the brain. Dopamine triggers sweating in some way. If the One AC works, it should take effect within two weeks. Up to about 60% of anhidrotic horses respond to the supplement according to the study. So there’s a chance it will help.

At this point though… I’m horse shopping. Dressy may very well respond well to the supplement. But I think I have to seriously consider whether I want to compete her during the hottest part of the summer in future. She’s likely to have a tendency towards this for the rest of her life. And it’s triggered by exercise in very hot humid weather. She can certainly continue to do Ride n Tie, and shorter rides in summer. But I will have to save longer rides for cold and/or rainy weather with her.

In hindsight, I think this may have been coming on for some time. Possibly years. She’s always had a lot of trouble in the heat, and that has, if anything, gotten worse over the last couple of years, not better. And I think it’s probably what triggered the atrial fibrillation. It was the first thing I noticed that day in early May that she went into A-fib. She was not sweating. She got very overheated and appeared to be developing thumps. Once I discovered the A-fib, I didn’t think about the lack of sweating much, since her heart problem seemed like the major issue.

So I’m going to save up some money and start looking for another Arab. And towards that end, Today I took Nikita up to a friend who buys and sells a lot of horses. With luck, she can get her sold to a nice home. Possibly as a driving pony (she rides and drives). Nik is a black QH/Welsh cross mare. 14hh. And just as cute as can be. She’s been standing around here doing nothing but eat and be Twister’s best friend for a couple of years, and she needs a life. I really like Nikita, so I’ve been putting off selling her. But I cannot justify feeding a sound, healthy 10 year old pony who has no job whatsoever. A pony who would undoubtedly be much appreciated elsewhere. Dressy and King will always stay with me of course. But I can’t afford to keep collecting horses indiscriminately (though I really WISH I could!).

Really, I’m trying to sound (and be!) practical. But I’m sure going to miss that darling pony 🙁

Jasper Did Not Win, But He Was a Good Boy

Jasper (With Any Luck) raced yesterday in the 7th race at Woodbine. He did not win, but no one really expected him to. It was too short a race for him, and his first race of the season. So this was just to get him sharpened up. Word is that he was very well-behaved and raced like a pro. It was only his second start. He raced once last year at the end of the season.

He’s very recognizable in this video as the big (17hh!) steel grey with the half-white tail. He’s turned into quite a strikingly handsome horse. He’s a four year old by Monarchos and out of the lovely and much mourned Freckles (mama to Parker, Vegas, Monster, and Reno as well). Like most of her kids, he looks like his sire but bigger… MUCH bigger!

Back At the Farm

Over the last few months, I’ve had a co-op student helping out at work. Today was her last official day. She’s been working with William and Monster, longeing them every day to get them ready to go down to the track. They are both three year olds. She’s done a very good job with them, and has been a lot of help to have around. I will miss having all the help, that’s for sure!

Anastasia and William

She’s come a long way in her handling skills, and loves the horses. So I’ve asked her to come and help get Ares going. She can’t afford her own horse, but this should give her a chance to work with one horse and really learn about ground training, and some riding basics too.

The children are home again!

The mares and foals arrived home this week. Diva is, as ever, the most perfect foal ever born. Friendly, serene, and in total command of herself and the affections of everyone around her. Max, Loula’s foal, is much more confident and friendly now. He was a little bit shy as a newborn. Max is too short a name, and the boss knew perfectly well that I was going to have to amplify it somehow (as Al became Albert). He gave me strict instructions that Max could be Maximillion, not Maxwell. The reasons for that should be obvious, given that is destined to be a racehorse. But you know… he really IS a Maxwell. So tough luck for the boss 🙂

There was a welcome home party
Dora was very pleased to be back on home turf. And mud…

I always seem to have lots of photos of Reno and Albert (last year’s foals), but hardly ever of Esmerelda. It’s not because I don’t like her. It’s just that she’s turned out in the back, and I don’t usually have a camera handy when I’m back there. She’s looking really good. A nice big, smooth-bodied, classy looking filly. And VERY smart. Much smarter than those goofy boys.

Esmerelda, trying to get a closer look at that clicky thing… while I back away madly trying to keep her from filling the viewscreen completely.
Like this…

Hot Weather

It’s been very hot and humid over the last few days. I took Dressy over to the Vivian Forest last night for a slow evening ride. I was pretty cautious about it, since I was not sure if she was going to be able to sweat enough to cool herself. I gave her a couple of shots of electrolytes beforehand. Met up with Emily and her little QH Duke, so Dressy would have company and be a bit more settled.

She did sweat some, but not as much as I’d like to see. She was quite wet under her saddle and girth. But none on her neck or chest. So she’s not back to normal yet. She’s still getting Guinness every day, and I think I will order a supplement called One AC, which sometimes helps with cases like this.

I did have the heart rate monitor on her, and she was running quite low (mostly under 70 at a walk, and under 120 at a trot) so I was not concerned. But she’s not ready to work hard in the heat yet. I was going to take her to the Summer Solstice ride this weekend, but it’s supposed to be hot again on Sunday. So I’ve shelved that idea. Better to be safe and give her a bit more time.

I’m going to go anyway and volunteer. Not like I have any choice anyway, since I’ve been elected to do the CTR scoring. Which I’m not overly experienced at… yikes.

Harold

Well. Bad news from the track. Handy Harold was claimed today. The entire crew is distraught. He is a big crazy lunatic, but much loved despite his antics. No one expected him to be claimed. He’s 7 years old and a homebred. He wasn’t even close to being the favorite in this race. The boss always races his own horses, and never claims any. So other trainers almost never claim any of his either. When I talked to Harri (the groom, not the horse) afterwards, he was mad. And had many bad things to say about the trainer who took him.

The horse ran a good race. Ended up fifth, but was right in there battling to the end, as he always does. I don’t even feel like posting the video though.

Harold is going to lose his mind tonight. He has never been an easy horse, and he gets worked up about stuff. To go back to a different barn with the wrong people is going to mess with his head. It would be very interesting to see how he behaves the first time they try to tack him up too. He’s going to spend a lot of time airborne with both hind feet flying. I hope he doesn’t actually hurt anyone. Kind of.

No Sweat, Have a Guinness

I’ve been riding Dressy for for maybe the last ten days off an on. Because I’m feeling very paranoid, we’ve been taking it easy and doing a lot of slow rambles with frequent grazing breaks. And she’s been feeling wonderful. She’s perky and cheerful, and her heart rates have been quite low. So I was getting pretty confident about her return to good health. However, I hadn’t actually worked her hard enough to break a sweat, and hadn’t ridden her in the heat.

Yesterday we went out and I had Dressy trot some hills. Nothing crazy. Just a bit of harder work here and there. She was quite well behaved, despite an inept golfer from next door who shot his ball into the tree above our heads as we passed by, resulting in a supersonic right turn and bolt. Can’t say I blamed the mare, since I almost spooked myself off her when that ball cracked into the tree.

But after a while, Dressy really lost steam and I suddenly realized with some horror that, again (or maybe “still”) Dressy was not sweating. Argh. Anhidrosis. It was quite hot out, and she was panting and hot. But not a drop of sweat. I walked her back to the barn and pulled her tack. Sure enough, she was dry even under the saddle. This is exactly what happened the day her heart went into atrial fibrillation. Though I was obviously a lot more vigilant and caught it sooner this time. I checked her heart, but it was fine. She was just really hot and panting like a dog.

There are a whole lot of things that people have tried for anhidrosis in horses. ‘One AC’ is a supplement that works for some horses. Extra electrolytes works for some (Dressy already gets those). Acupuncture. Equiwinner patches. Moving the horse to a colder climate. Misting fans. Air conditioning. And Guinness… the beer from Ireland.

Since it’s the weekend, and I already have a huge pile of vet bills from last month. I really did not want to call my vet. I just got her cooled down and turned her back out to hang around in the run in shelter. This morning, when I got home from work I checked up on her. It is HOT out today and very humid. She was standing in the shelter, completely dry. But panting and hot to the touch. Her heart still sounded normal thank goodness. So at least she hasn’t reverted to A-Fib.

The only immediate treatment I could figure out was the Guinness… I went directly to the beer store and bought a case for her. She thought it smelled odd, but after I poured it over her TriMax and roughage chunks, she nibbled it a bit and considered. Then gobbled it all up. Apparently Dressy likes Guinness.

I went in and had some lunch and a cup of tea. Then went back out to the barn and put her on the cross ties to sponge her off. And had a look at her. Holy cow! She was popping patches of sweat behind her elbows, on her chest, and on her neck. Hallelujah! That’s actually the first sweat I’ve seen on her since the end of April.

I really was not expecting the Guinness to work. I just did it because I needed to feel like I was doing SOMETHING. And I sure did not expect it to work in an hour. I was really thinking that slight improvement over a few days was the best I could expect.

We will have to see how she does in the next little while. I have no idea if people keep horses on the Guinness or if you just use it to get the sweating started again. Hopefully I won’t have to give it to her all the time, because Guinness is not cheap. She has expensive tastes, that mare.

She probably ought to belong to Chrystal. The two of them could hang out after rides sharing a beer…

Vegas Won!

Finally. FINALLY! Vegas won today at Woodbine. He’s always had lots of talent. But way too much bad luck, and just a little too much goofiness has hindered him. He is an enormously strong horse who looks rather more like a cart horse than a racehorse. Known affectionately as the “police horse”… or sometimes “big donkey”. He’s so strong that often riders have been unable to rate him. But he was pretty good this time and waited until he was supposed to run instead of burning himself out in the first quarter mile.

Rough Trip for Parker

Parker had a very rough start in his race today at Woodbine. He came out of the gate and the horses on either side of him both angled in and hit him hard… first one, then the other. You can’t see it too well in this video since there is no head on view of the start. But he’s probably going to be a little bruised and sore tomorrow. Poor guy. Parker is one of my favorites… he’s the kindest of all of our racehorses. So I especially don’t like to see him hurt.