Playing With Venice

Played with Venice for quite a while today. Mostly using a mild roundpenning technique. I walked around after her and whenever she stopped and turned towards me I stopped and knelt on one knee. She let me get very close by the end of the session.

What are you? And what do you want from me?
No. Definitely cannot commit to a relationship yet!

Then it was dinner time. So I tried something new…

MMMM.. dinner!
Really… who cares where dinner is served?

She ate her entire dinner from the bucket on my knee!

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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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 🙂

New Vet

I had a new vet in today to look at King. Doc Watt was going to come this week to test his selenium levels, but of course, that wasn’t possible. I called in a vet that I’ve used in the past, Dr. Potter. He’s very calm and takes his time, which is nice. He had a really good look at King. Checked him over, watched him trot, listened to our tale of woe, etc. King has actually seemed a bit worse over the last couple of weeks, not better. So I’ve been worried. Dr. Potter is going to run a full blood panel, check the selenium, and also do a thyroid test. He has some other ideas for things to check out if the blood work doesn’t show anything. So at least I feel like we are doing something anyway.

I’ve started riding Dressy. I’ll take her to the training ride next week and do the 15 mile set speed ride. Then to Seoul’s Corners and we can do the 25 miles there. I guess I’m going to have to sort out booting issues for her too.

Ares had another session of lunging today. This time with the saddle on. He was very good, but I could see that he was a little weirded out by the feel of the saddle. He was a bit more inverted, and his gait got a little choppy as a result. But after a few minutes he gradually relaxed and dropped his head some. As soon as that head comes down, he smooths right out.

After we were done, I brought him back in the barn and got up on a stool beside him. Flapped around the saddle, rested my arm across him, flopped the stirrups around, pushed and pulled sideways, etc. He was watching me pretty carefully, but he stood like a rock. He really is a nice little soul once he gets over thinking that I’m prepping him for my next meal.

 

Twister and the Kids

Twister is a black 3/4 Arab gelding who has been a boarder here for around 10 years (since he was a baby), and although broke to ride, he doesn’t do very much other than charm his owner (which he IS very good at). This year though, he’s actually got a job. I ponied him (rode King and led Twister) down to the Thoroughbred farm where I work, and he’s been babysitting Reno, the orphan foal for the last couple of months.

He’s got some quirks, Twister has. He’s easily the spookiest horse on an entire farm of racehorses. Reno is far braver than Twister, and has to lead the way every morning. Reno and I march along, with Reno happily surveying the world and looking forward to his day, while Twister snorts, bugs his eyes out at shadows, and generally makes Linda crazy as she tries to drag him along after Reno. He has to wear a grazing muzzle since he’s prone to grass founder, so he sounds like Darth Vader breathing through his mask… and looks a bit like him too.

I used to think of Twister as an easy keeper. And I guess that’s kind of true. But really, he’s just a pig. He eats twice as much hay as the nursing mares overnight. And if turned out on grass, he eats so fast that you’d swear he was about to start cramming more in with one hoof. The grass goes in faster than he can swallow and it starts falling out the sides. The boss calls him “that gluttonous little bastard”.

Twister looks like he ought to be sensitive, especially when you see the spookiness. But he is sort of thick actually. He hasn’t the slightest respect for anyone’s space. He’ll step on your feet, clock you with his head, ram you with his shoulder, and just generally behave like a big stupid oaf, despite being 14.3hh and rather dainty. Not to mention being smart as a whip, despite the stupid “huh? I’m standing on whose foot?” expression. Even if you give him a good thump (while he’s standing on said foot), he just looks back at you blandly as if to say “is that all you’ve got?”

Twister and Reno are turned out in the field with Bernice and her colt Al, and Exclusive and her filly Esmerelda (all three foals born the same day). Linda was a bit worried about Twister initially, especially since he doesn’t belong to the farm. She thought that Bernice would be very protective of Al, and maybe hurt Twister. But no. Twister just ignored Bernice. Even when Bernice spun around him, threatening to kill. He just kept eating. And once when he was trying to get a drink of water, and Al came to investigate, Bernice saw that, panicked and charged to get between Twister and Al. Twister, feeling that his space was being invaded, screamed and double barrelled her in the rib cage. Twice. Right. That was the end of any concern we had for Twister’s welfare.

But of course we still had some concerns about how he’d manage with Exclusive in the mix. She’s the boss mare and no one argues with her. But she’s home now, and Twister is just as bold and fearless with her as he was with Bernice. He drove her crazy the first day, marching up and staring her in the eye. I can’t say he intimidated her, since nothing intimidates Exclusive. But I suspect she sort of gave up chasing him away eventually. It’s just too much work. Turned out with the two broodmares, and with a field of younger mares in the next paddock, he looks rather smug…. if a bit comical being so small and with that big black muzzle on his face.

He sounds like a prince doesn’t he? Well… he is actually. Because he’s absolutely been a superstar with Reno. He’s never hurt Reno, even when the little devil jumps on him, pulls his tail, or bites his butt. Twister will occasionally hunch his rear a little as if he could kick or makes a bit of a face (when Reno is being truly horrid), but that’s it. Reno adores Twister. He seems just as attached to him as any foal would be to his mother. He grazes near him, sleeps near him. And runs back to him when anything worries him.

When Linda goes out with milk replacer for Reno, he comes running to the gate, whinnying (it’s extremely cute!). Unfortunately sometimes other horses come too. Which can be a bit chaotic and makes it difficult for Reno to eat. But Twister, bless his little soul, sighs and marches over, “Here now! Move along. The kid needs to eat.” Even with Al, who wants to play with Reno, Twister just gently suggests that he go see his mom. And Al goes. Then Twister goes back to eating grass… “Right, my work here is done”.

King. Again.

The chiropractor looked at King on Friday. He said his SI joint was out a bit on both sides, and all four ankles. But nothing radical. Just the same as it always is. He adjusted him. He figured that King could do the 30 CTR.

I went ahead, figuring that if we got pulled, at least Kathy would be there to take blood samples. I had a look and saw that there was an open time slot with Denise and her pretty little grey mare, Mecca. King loves mares, so I thought that might work out okay. And sure enough, King and Mecca fell in love. Denise was very happy with how her mare went along with King, she was happy to go behind at the start and very relaxed (for her). They paced nicely together. Though of course King wanted to canter a bit more than we should have for a CTR, which makes for a bit of unevenness in the speed. But still, he went beautifully.

It was 34 miles. Two times around the blue 17 mile loop. On that first loop, the two front running 75 milers passed us. Valerie Kanavy (I think on Spectacular Gold?), and John Crandell on Heraldic. Denise and I were joking about it. Now we can say that we’ve had the honour of being passed by Heraldic. Denise tried to explain to Mecca that she was in exalted company. But Mecca just wanted to chase them down (so did King actually).

Coming in on our half mile trot in at the mid check, I felt a tiny bobble from King when we went through a bit of softer footing. I asked Denise if she could see anything but she said he looked fine behind. And he felt fine for the rest of the trot. We got in, and he looked okay at first. We walked over to the vets, keeping the two horses together. I waited while Mecca was vetted, then took King in. I had Brooke trot him while I watched. I could see a faint bobble every couple of strides or so. Looked over at Sue (our judge) and sighed. She asked if I’d seen it. Oh yeah. I said a bad word. We called Kathy over and had her watch. This time, King was easily grade III lame. Obvious and fairly extreme. When Kathy palpated, she found tenderness in the right hind hamstring muscles. But then it shifted to the left side. And after a few minutes he had that leg waving in the air. After an hour or so he stopped favouring it. And in another two hours or so he was basically sound again. Not perfectly, but probably back to grade I.

Kathy took a blood sample within five minutes of being pulled. And then another one about four hours later. She does not believe he has an injury. Says it’s definitely muscle. So it really does look like a metabolic issue of some sort. Not tying up. But some sort of electrolyte or mineral imbalance. We are looking hard at selenium at this point.

I was supposed to stay to sponsor the girls in the ride n tie today, but elected to bring King home instead. I didn’t want him standing around in a pen all day stiffening up. So we got home last night at around 10:30. He looked good coming off the trailer, and is a cheerful mood galloping around the pasture this morning.

Just to top off my day though, it looks like my truck dumped some fluid in the driveway after we pulled in. Not sure if it’s power steering fluid or transmission fluid… or I guess brake fluid is possible too. It starts, and runs, and drives (though I only moved it far enough to get it unhooked from the trailer so it wasn’t much of a test). I will have to check all the levels and see if I can figure it out.

Today’s Ride

Sunday today, so Brooke was here to ride Dressy. Misha came, crippled up from a fall in her driveway, but rode with us anyway. It was a pretty good ride. Six miles in around two hours. I used the GPS, but neglected to turn it on until we’d been out for about 20 minutes. The snow was not too deep, but was very wet and heavy. So it was hard slogging. We walked almost all of it. King has been doing this all winter and he’s showing obvious improvement in his strength. He really plows through even big drifts without much effort.

Dressy had the heart rate monitor on, and she’s actually running a bit lower than I expected. Though she definitely started running a bit higher towards the end of the ride. And Diego is looking very good. He’s put on weight through this past winter and is looking much rounder and not so weedy as he did originally. He doesn’t like the heavy snow, but he is still pretty fit considering how little he did through the fall and winter.

GPS Track