Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hooves: Since Ya'll Care

Guinness is still off in his fetlocks, with heat in the front left and all four horribly puffy.I'm wondering if the stress of walking through mud for the last few weeks is taking it's toll on him. He isn't a terribly active horse in mud, especially since he's sort of a prim horse. He kinda hates being dirty, and walks through mud about how I do: carefully, while muttering "ew, gross" under his breath.

So, while we "Bute-Up!" (I like to say it like Barney in How I Met Your Mother says "Suit-Up!"), I'll update you on the progress of our oh-so-bare thoroughbred feet. It's actually kind of exciting, especially now that the wintertime death-thrush is nearly eliminated.

As of last night, these are the comparison photos:
Side View. Awfully sorry about the lack of continuity. Obviously I would make a terrible film editor ;) 

From the bottom. Note how far we still have to come with those heels, but the foot is spreading out much more in the middle than it was before! In fact, the shape has changed quite a bit, and is now more circular than oblong.
So, what do you guys think? Sole hardness is something that is hard to see in photos, but it has improved drastically. In March the sole would flex under pressure from my thumbs. Now, I can't get it to move at all. Guinness still watches where he is going on rocks, but is able to walk on them without flinching or limping. This has made the walk back to his pasture much faster and easier. I think the turnout has made a world of difference in his feet.

Now, since we're doing comparison photos. Here's our conformation/condition shot for December. Note the weight gain (and not just in mud!) since then. Hooray!

GP's just resting a back leg in this photo. Oddly, that leg is the only one without swelling in the fetlock area!
Lesson learned? It's hard to take decent photos in the dark of mudtastic, rain-filled December. I got mud on my camera. Ew.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I'm sure you've noticed that I've been struggling with a bit of lameness with Guinness over the last year. The severity of his fetlock arthritis has come and gone several times, but with the settling in of cold weather has become very noticeable.

Over the last week I've ridden GP for 3 days straight. Each day he was full of energy and lots of go, but the trot has felt "funky". To the point that I asked a friend riding with me if it looked like we were pacing, like a Standardbred.
(What GP's trot feels like)
I think this gait change is due to pain. My friend said that he looked less like a pacer, and more like he was three legged lame. Great. I can tell that whatever the cause of the issue, it is located on his right side. And last night, after an EXTREMELY energetic ride, his right front ankle had some heat in it. So, I gave him some bute and sent him back outside.

At this point, I'm really getting worried about what the progression of his fetlock arthritis will be. I know that the joint fusing is a possibility, but not always a good one. While it would stop his pain, the joint's loss of mobility can cause problems in the knee and the shoulder and cause problems with the deep digital flexor tendon (something I have been worried about due to his horrible crushed heels and inability to put weight on his heels). 

The arthritis is a scary, scary thing. I guess it's time to start saving up for another set of front radiographs.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wintertime Routines

Living in the midwest, I've been struggling with the problems of wintertime horse ownership for years. Every time I visit the Chronicle of the Horse forums I see a post complaining about how hard it is to find time to ride, especially in the winter. I always refrain from commenting on these posts because that situation is all to real for me, and I try not to complain about it too much. But, right now I'm feeling the stresses of winter, so you all get to hear about it.

To fill you in, I work a full time job, my husband is in medical school and we own two dogs. It's not unusual for me to get up at around 5:30 a.m. just to be able to get a run in before heading to work. My husband and I ride to work/school together (I work at the same University he attends), and that morning car ride is the last time I will see him until 8 p.m.

Sometimes I'll skip lunch to try to leave early. Unfortunately, when I skip lunch it usually just means I have worked an extra hour that day and didn't get to leave early. After work, I dart home to try to get changed/check the mail/make sure the house isn't burning/pack up my dogs. Then, I can head to the barn. Sometimes during this time, I commit a cardinal sin and sit down. Never do this. You WILL NOT get back up. Bad plan.

Once on the road to the barn, things usually go just fine. I try to fill the 30 minute ride with things that get me excited/thinking, like Horse Radio Network or Stuff You Missed In History Class (yes, I'm a history nerd) podcasts. If these can't keep me awake, then I use the time to catch up on phone calls (hi, Mom!). By the time I get to the barn, the sun has set.

At the barn, I am all business. I don't have a ton of time on weeknights, so I catch my feral creature (Guinness lives outside 24/7 and currently resembles a yak) and brush off enough mud/water/hay to comfortably put on the saddle and bridle. During this time, GP gets to eat his dinner grain ration and my dogs get to run around and play in the indoor arena. I check his legs for obvious swelling/missing pieces/heat and pick out his feet, then we ride.

My ride+cool out time takes about 40 minutes, and the whole time I think about how awesome it is to have an indoor to ride in. After this, I untack quickly, love on my horse, and put him back out in the field. It is now around 7pm, time to close up the barn (I'm usually the last person out there) and drive the 30 minutes back home, picking up my husband on the way to the house.

Once home, I make dinner and clean house while my husband studies. We eat around 9 p.m. Afterwards, I fall asleep on the couch with the dogs, dreaming of doing it all again.


How do you manage to find time to ride?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Post Wedding and IHSA Showing

Yup, you heard that correctly. I'm a married woman now, as of November 5th. My family told me they fully expect me to act just as respectable and married as them. I assume that means carry on as I have been!

Now that the wedding is behind me, I hope to have more time to focus on ponies. I have picked up a training ride at my barn (a black, young, TB mare with balance issues, breaking issues and focus issues), have started GP back into conditioning work, and picked up showing for IHSA again.

Wait, IHSA? Again? What?!

Let me explain. In college, I showed on the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association team at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. I showed both Hunt Seat Equitation Flat and Hunter Equitation Over Fences, and it was pretty fun. Nearly every weekend I was off at the horse show. How many college kids can say the same?

Flash forward to Friday of last week when I received a frantic text message asking if I would mind showing in the Alumni class for SMWC's show that weekend. Um? There weren't enough alumni to make a complete class, so they needed one more. I agreed, with the stipulation that they not expect much. A quick lesson was arranged for me, so I could school over a few of the horses and get in a quick practice in a hunter frame (ew).

Friday I rode 4 horses, and jumped all of them (yeah, GP jumped ... more on that later). My lesson was pretty okay, and I remembered how to sit up after a fence, and slow down. On my way out of the barn I realized I was locked in my car and had to wait 2 hours in the cold for Christian to come pick me up (marital duties suck). Early Saturday morning I located all my old show clothes, ironed them and put them on (Hurray, everything still mostly fits! Turns out my shoulders have gotten wider, that's it ... ) When I went to put my helmet on at the show, I discovered, to my horror, that it had molded around the crown. Oops. Obviously, it's been awhile ...

Needless to say, I was in this for fun, not expecting to win (spoiler: I totally didn't). Let me add, I haven't ridden hunter for YEARS. I graduated (and thus showed my last IHSA show) in 2008, and haven't looked back. I haven't even JUMPED in over a year and half. My riding has been severely limited due to the wedding and the move and the lame horse.

I wanted to go out there and not embarrass myself completely. I think I managed that. Here's your video recap, jumping rides only:

Saturday's Jump Ride:

• I initially pulled Joy, a privately owned mare who was SUPER unhappy about the whole idea of showing IHSA. She had been refusing all afternoon, and with the rider just before me, she had refused almost every single jump. Fun.
• Once we got over the first fence, we were golden. I managed to settle into a rhythm (sorta). Looking at the video, it's obvious I haven't been riding for awhile. I'm unable to keep my hip angle closed enough.

Saturday's Re-Ride:

• Due to Joy's dirty, dirty stop on the first fence, I was awarded a re-ride on Bella, a small white pony mare who is ALL head. She needs a super supportive ride, basically requiring me to cue her when to jump. I buried her at the curved diagonal line, and she let me know it. I believe I muttered "omph!" upon landing that fence. It was ... UGLY.

Sunday's Jump Ride:
• Sunday I arrived to the show 30 min before my class, and drew Remy to ride. With less time to worry or think, I just focused on riding "in the moment" instead of floating around with my eyes unfocused (which is how I felt on Saturday). I think I was rewarded with a much better ride.
• You'll notice I need a bit more speed in the first half of the ride. We rode it balanced, and I don't feel too bad about it. We still should have have 4 strides in the first outside line. Oops.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Promised Photos!

Work has been nuts, what with the rather popular country singer's concert tonight. So ... here's your photos, and not much else!

Consider yourself updated :)

Regal Red Horse stares into the wind.

Not the best conformation shot ever taken, but he kept trying to trot off!

Heeeeey Mom!

Nothing quite like a sleepy holiday weekend.

With the colder weather comes: Indoor Arena Husky Wrestling! Here, Lyra attempts to catch Sonka-Dog. Please note the taunting expression on Sonka's face. I've never seen a faster dog yet. He's just toying with Little Girl!

Monday, September 5, 2011

New Starts

Sorry for the long radio silence everyone. We're still alive, just incredibly busy. Between moving a horse, 2 dogs, and 2 people from Southwestern Ohio to Western Indiana, me starting a new job and Christian starting medical school, things have been a touch stressful. Add to that the week I was down and out with possible West Nile and the fact that I'm trying to plan our wedding, you end up with, well, radio silence. This long holiday weekend, however, has been a great let-down from the go-go of our lives these days. I've been out to see Guinness every day this weekend, and we've been riding hard.

Speaking of Guinness, I'll fill you in on where we've ended up. The big red horse is being boarded at a facility 30 minutes North of my house in the town of Clinton. He's turned out 100% of the time, with full access to round bales and pasture. His feed is mixture of oats and 14% pellets, and he's put on a ton of weight (just on the hay/grass alone!). His feet have good days and bad, but the majority have been good. The turnout has done amazing things for his sole depth and strength. Rocks are still tough, but he's arena sound. More on that in a bit.

To start from where we left off: At the end of May, I had x-rays taken of GP's front feet. I wanted to put to rest the niggling feeling that there was something mechanical causing his increasing lameness. Good news? His feet looked great. No rotation, navicular bone in good positioning, and everything hunky dory. The vet agreed that his soles are thin, but encouraged me to leave his shoes off. His professional opinion? Shorten those toes and get that heel underneath the foot, and I'll have a happier horse.

Well, yes.

Of course, there was bad news. X-rays always bring that, don't they? The vet took one look at Guinness and expressed an immediate concern about his ankles. They were very large and puffy, but not warm. He asked about injury, and I told him about GP's racing past and his arthritic changes. Vet said he wanted to x-ray the ankles to see what we are really looking at. Take a look below ...

GPSlides0007 by Rialin

Right front fetlock and hoof view.

Right front fetlock and hoof view.

If you look at the fetlock joint (especially the right one - top photo), you can see the degeneration of the fetlock joint. It's pretty severe, turns out. This explains the huge ankles. Vet said that he thinks half of the lameness I've been seeing is from these joints. We sat around these x-rays and discussed our options. Injections was the main suggestion for management. There's no "fixing" this sort of injury, and it is only going to get worse with time. Eventually, both will completely fuse. This isn't a huge deal. It will cut down on GP's flexibility through his ankles, and his usability as a dressage horse in upper levels. I'm not terribly concerned about that. He will probably never jump again. That saddens me, he loves it so much. Once his ankles have fused (which can take years), he won't have pain any longer. I'm looking forward to that day.

A week after these were taken, we had both ankles injected with a combo of H/A and Depo. I know a lot of people have strong feelings about this injection, but I really think it's the right way to go. The Depo takes the immediate inflamation out of the joint, and the H/A works on a longer term to allow the join to work normally. Unlike the first time we had injections done, the large puffs on the ankles didn't go down immediately. Instead, after a week of turnout, the inflammation slowly went down. Soundness did improve.

During the month of June, I was busy trying to find a new job where Christian was going to be going to medical school. Guinness was my stress reliever, and I would hop on him bareback (it only took me 20 years to figure out how to leap on a full grown horse from the ground!) and round up the other horses to bring them in out of the field. We went for long walks, but nothing strenuous. GP started losing weight pretty drastically here, and I was starting to worry about him. The grass in his turnout was rapidly disappearing, and I started him on ground flax to add calories.

On July 4th, Guinness moved to Indiana. He's a happy camper being outside all the time (except for getting a little beat up by his new herd). He has a shelter, and food. His first trim lamed him pretty substantially, and I felt awful about that. My new job doesn't allow me to supervise his farrier work, and that is hard for me. His second trim didn't lame him so much. His feet have since come back stronger than they were, and his heels are starting to come underneath him. He's a sore foot on gravel roads, but sound as can be in grass. In the arena, he seems to short stride at the walk but be perfectly content to swing along at the trot and really step up under himself. That has been a beautiful thing to feel.

This weekend, we've been working on conditioning. Lots and lots of walking. We've been on the bit, we've been on a loose rein. We've explored hills and fields and woods. We've trotted a distance and cantered some. We've crossed puddles (oh my!) and met cowboy horses (they're so short!). We've been having a blast, and not taken a sore step yet.

Life's been looking up for this big red horse.

After Christian heads to school this afternoon, I'm headed out to enjoy a holiday on horseback. I'll try to take some photos and video while I'm out there. I need to get some conformational shots and video of movement for my records anyway! After all, I don't have any photos of Guinness in his hairless summer coat yet!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Long time, some improvement.

I haven't ridden my horse since January.

Well, not really anyway. Sure, on his good days I'll hop on him bareback. But, that's really it. No actual riding. No working in a frame. No plans or schedules or goals. It's rough. It's depressing. But, it's good for him, right?

I dunno.

But! Here's what I do know:
A) My horse is no longer as "girthy" after switching his feed. He's much calmer and less touchy. Also, his back pain is starting to go away. He no longer flinches hard while currying his back.

B) There is some sole growth. Not much, and his soles still flex under pressure from my hands. But, there is some growth, and nearly no exfoliation.

C) GP is very lame after being trimmed by my farrier, and not after being touched up by me. Lame as in "cannot walk on level pavement". It's sad to see.

D) The feed change has brought about a much skinnier horse, perhaps too skinny.

Basically, I feel like we are stuck where we are. I started a new job, so walking my horse daily suffered. I always made sure he had turnout, but it has rarely been on hard ground. We've had so much rain recently, everything here is a mud pit. I've made a bigger effort to get out and walk on hard surfaces, and have seen a much happier striding horse.

Guinness is still hitting the ground toe first for the most part. Here you can see some footage of him walking in early April:

As you can see, he is walking much more confidently, but is still "stabby" with his front legs. For the most part, this is where we were for a month.

Then Guinness had trim by the farrier, and he went lame. Very lame. Super lame ... and it sucked.

My farrier didn't touch the frog (but to trim off some flaps on the side), didn't touch the sole and just rasped back his walls to a big higher of an angle than I had been. He did rasp the walls down a bit more, and they are level more with GP's sole. He did try to shape up GP's clubby foot more. Unfortunately that foot is usually sounder. Weird, but true. Also weird but true is the near disappearance of GP's windpuff on his left front ankle. Meanwhile, the right front has been getting worse. More proof of the lameness being focused ... ugh.

Basically, I'm feeling helpless, but still willing to keep trying. The small improvements I've been seeing are helping me to keep on.

In other news, the feed change did cause GP to lose what I felt was a lot of weight quickly. I know have him on a ground flax supplement to increase the caloric load of his feed. He's stopped losing, and has started to fill out. That has been since the following photos were taken, so he is still slightly ribby here.

Below are some new conformation shots and foot shots from a week ago. Let me know what you think. The trim was very recent, and the one that lamed him. From now on, I guess I'll do all his trims. The work on pavement is really keeping his wall length very reasonable, and I keep it low by working on it every week or two.
Front Right, the foot with the large ankle windpuffs.

Right Front from the bottom. Note the back of the frog looks more pinched. Are my heels too high?

Front Left. Weirdly shaped, but less ankle swellings. Sorry for the poor angle of photography ;)
Front Left from below. Note wider spread on frog. Am I seeing things here?
Note skinnier pony! No more fat deposits on shoulder, bottom of neck or face. Hurrah! Now, to keep some weight on him ...

Another note: Guinness seems to stand square up front most of the time. But behind, he always stands askew. Maybe I need to pay closer attention back there!

As always, I appreciate any input!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Stumbly Rehabilitation

To solve the mystery (sort of?) of my last post, I have changed Guinness' feed to help with his foot rehabilitation.

After a lot of thought, I decided to go with Buckeye's Grow n' Win. I have upped hay consumption, and started double bagging the hay to slow down GP's consumption. So far, I'm incredibly happy. My horse is much less stumbling, and more confident in his feet.

Every day I see him walk out sounder and sounder, and my heart beats happier. It's a good feeling to help your animal.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Difficult Day at the Office

Okay, I'm going to be honest. Today was actually pretty good. I had a good first day at my new part-time job, it's utterly gorgeous outside, and I'm pleasantly sore from my runs this week. Things are going my way, right? Right.

Well that is until I showed up at the barn this afternoon, and my barn owner decided it was time to tell me I am a cruel horse owner, and abusing my horse. This is the person who has horses in his barn with thrush so bad you can smell it in the aisle way. The person who uses a vet owning a horse that has to bend it's front legs at the knee to avoid putting weight on it's heels. These horses are okay though. Totally not being abused. Nope.

My horse, meanwhile, is sore on rocks. ROCKS. Yes, we have a rocky place. We have a barn surrounded by a gravel drive. We have huge rocks and portions of gravel in our turnout. Yep. Do I force my horse to walk across these rocks? Sometimes, because we have to cross them. But, he gets full choice to pick his way across. He stumbles sometimes, but mostly just goes slow and picks his way across. He's fine. He doesn't have any bruises or abscesses. The farrier was here today and confirmed that he has grown some sole. It's still very thin, but it IS growing. I think that's a marked improvement, and something that wasn't happening while we were in shoes. And, he's sound and running around like a fool on grass/soft ground. This validates the difficult journey we've been on.

In case it's not obvious, I'm very offended that someone would tell me that I am abusing my horse by trying to heal him. I'm offended that someone would think that it doesn't hurt me to watch my horse be sore crossing stones. Would I like to just slap some pads on and have a miracle cure? Of course. Do I feel that is counter-productive to healing? Yes.

The other thing my barn owner and I were arguing about was feeding and insulin resistance. Guinness' constant soreness (despite his feet getting much better, thicker, and harder), is leading me to confirm suspicions of insulin resistance. Not to mention his hefty appearance. I've been soaking his morning hay since January, and have slowly been cutting down his grain. It's an experiment, really, to see what helps. What I can say is the last couple of weeks, as his grain has been cut drastically (from 3 full 3quart scoops of "low carb" pellets a day to 1 1/4 3quart scoop of the same.), his feet have been less painful. He's been moving more confidently over the gravel driveway. There has been significantly less picking a place, and more speed.

This has made me examine his feed in even greater detail. He's currently on Rowe Secure Option Omega 14%. It's a local feed provider, and I figured it would be low starch. Especially since that is what it is marketed as. Well, the fifth ingredient is (of course) cane molasses. Well no kidding my horse is having an issue with this feed.

My barn owner thinks this idea of changing feed is crazy. He can't see why that little bit of molasses would be a problem. He thinks it's all breeding. It's interactions like these that make me want to eat lots of good Italian food and drink from an econo-sized bottle of wine. I myself have blood sugar issues (but am not diabetic), and I remember how when my horse was being starved, his feet were better. I don't want to starve him (ever!) but I can see the connection. So, I've been researching feeds.

That brings me to part 2 of this post. FRUSTRATION.

Seriously, why is it so hard to find a good feed for an insulin resistant horse? The Pig can be a bit difficult to keep weight on without grain. So I am not sure a simple ration balancer would be a good way to go. It might, but it could also be an expensive experiment. I like the idea of feeding a rice bran / low starch mix. But, I'm just not sure that's possible or economic. Right now, the plan is to switch to Triple Crown Low Starch and buy a small hole hay net to keep constant forage in front of the monster while stalled. This should help with the hay soaking (that isn't happening when I'm not there). I can always add a fat supplement like Ultimate Finish or Max-E-Glo if needed later for weight gain. For now, The Pig is fat and I need to go feed shopping.

What do you guys think?

P.S. Does anyone else think Ultimate Finish smells like chocolate chips?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Bling Bling

Guinness and I are now 4 weeks into our 2nd barefoot attempt. So far, we are holding everything together- and I am seeing improvement. First of all, my horse is not lame. Unlike the first time I had his shoes pulled, he is walking alright (though carefully) and able to trot soundly on pavement or mud. He is developing a very smooth and calloused sole, and it is no longer flaking off every time I clean his feet. This is a definite improvement over shoes!

Now my focus has become addressing his various foot problems to continue improving his feet, movement and overall enjoyment of life. A difficulty has been the environment in which we live, which is incredibly rocky. If you look at photos of our boarding facility, you can see that even the arenas are filled with rocks. These aren't nice smooth rocks either. Guinness would tell you that these are evil, sharp, deadly rocks. Oh well.

Taking these rocks into consideration our first few weeks were spent either barefoot working on the pavement, or booted and turned out in the soft arena. Finally, I took the boots off (after they got pulled off, that is) and turned him out in a big muddy turn out. There were lots of rocks, but the deep mud helped him to avoid any bruising. He was fine, and felt much better about being able to move around sans boots. The boots we have been using are a horridly destroyed pair of Old Macs Originals. I have to vet wrap AND duct tape these suckers on, and they still fall off! Ugh! I am waiting on our new pair of Cavallo Simples to come in. Hopefully soon!

Guinness's feet have been churning out lots of new growth, and I ended up doing a self-trim on him yesterday. I wanted to do a bit more roll on his wall to try to tighten up the flare he has, especially on the quarters of his foot. In addition, his walls were getting a bit longer than his sole. Despite being woefully out of shape for the trim (seriously, ow soreness today!), it only took about an hour. I feel pretty good about my work. The roll is pretty apparent, and even. Guinness was a little sore, I think due to the extra pressure on his sole. Today he started off very carefully on our road walk, but about halfway in he cheered up and started stepping out. I think he just needed to get used to the new feeling. I'm going to try to keep him booted in turn out again, just until he gets more concavity to his hoof.

The photos below come from last week, before I trimmed his feet. You can see how long and deformed his heel is, and how bowed the front of his hoof is ...

In the next photo, you can see how his sole is starting to take on that hard, shiny (almost waxy!) look of a good callus. As we work more, I hope that this keeps forming. His constant loss of sole is what I was really concerned about while he was in shoes, and I feel that issue is being resolved 100%. In this photo you can also see the hugely stretched white line. I'm hoping that by keeping his feet rolled at the wall, this will eventually go away as his foot grows down.

Today we went for a long walk on the roads, and as I said he was much more comfortable after and during this. Just to fight any soreness that might be accumulating, I decided to treat him to a night of Magic Cushion.
Application of this sticky, red, smelly substance is always tricky. Of course today it was more so. Guinness decided to put his foot down before I was ready. He slammed it down on the plastic before I could catch him. Of course, the Magic Cushion made his foot slip, which freaked him out, and he proceeded to leap backwards in the cross ties.
Oh Guinness...
Luckily all was not for naught, and I was able to patch up the packing on the bottom of his foot, wrap it in the sticky plastic and start duct taping. The whole time he was convinced his feet were going to slide out from under him, of course. And, we did leave a few nasty sticky footprints down the aisle way. Oops!

The best thing about having Guinness in Magic Cushion over night isn't the anti-inflammatory benefits, though those are nice. No, the best thing about Magic Cushion is the fact that my horse has BLING! Seriously. I used enough duct tape to circle a small nation to attach everything to his feet. Light catches his feet and you can see them from about 8 miles away. It's hilarious!

I know I talk about my GP's hilarious personality, so I had to share this photo from this morning's turnout time. When I came out to catch the horses and put them away, I found this in the middle of the ring. Yeah, that's my horse. Yeah, he's holding his own halter. When I opened the door he was playing tug-o-war with Raven using his halter. As I walked in, he pulled it away from Raven, and waited till I walked up to him. He then dropped his slobbery halter into my hand ...
Oh Guinness!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Breed to Beautiful!

Meet Salute the Truth!

This stallion has some serious cred, even running at the most advanced levels of eventing! But, what his most qualifying trait is how much he looks like Guinness. Seriously, check this out!

I mean? Seriously? I would DIE to own this stallion ... or an up and comer by him. His foals are fabulous and he certainly is everything I would look for in a thoroughbred.

So, looking to breed to a TB? Try Salute the Truth.

- all photos from Dodon Farm's website.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Hey guys! It's starting to be a big thing in blogs for people to give away items to readers for answering a few questions. Now, I know my following isn't big, but I like to make sure I'm not out of the loop. So .... without further ado I am pleased to announce:

The first Guinness on Tap Giveaway!

On the line: A grab-bag type piece of mysterious horse-related tack or supplies. (Basically, I haven't figured out what you get yet, but it's probably worth about $10-$30).

To win: Simply respond to this post or my personal Facebook page and identify as many pieces of tack and equipment adorning my lovely TB model. The first person with the most complete and detailed response gets the prize. Yes, you can win by saying the brand as well as the type of tack - if you know it!

Rules: Play fair. No calling me with questions. No breaking into my barn to see logos (Cause seriously ... how freaking creepy is that?!). All the info you need to win is in the photo below. No purchase necessary.

Make sure you include your name and a way to contact you with your entry. You wouldn't want your random piece of horse stuff lost in the mail!

Enjoy and best of luck!

P.S. Yes. This is the best I can come up with while doing road hacks. Deal.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Beautiful Day!

The sun is out, the wind is tamed, and the temperature is utterly perfect for equine activity. Who can resist spending the morning at the barn, throwing all the doors open, currying out some loose winter fur, and cleaning stalls? Yes, even cleaning stalls.

Yesterday, while much windier and cooler than today, Guinness got himself a bath. To put it mildly, he was not pleased. In fact, his face looked very little like this:

Instead he looked quite a bit more evil, and snake-like. Imagine pinned back ears, wrinkled nostrils, bared teeth, and a certain "crazed" look in the eye and you'll have a smidge of an idea of what I had to deal with. Once properly clean, we headed out to dry in the sun and epic winds. Unfortunately, these scared the crap out of my GP, and he spent most of the time quivering at the end of the leadrope and scanning the horizon for wind-demons.

Finally, our road hacking has been going fabulously - if you don't count the trash-truck, the wind-powered trash can, the ominous whistling pine trees and the mailman of doom. BUT! Below find evidence of the motor-foot himself working hard on the streets!

And video of the champ!!
YouTube Video
Seriously, we were totally following the speed limit!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Pig Has No Shoes ... Again

Monday was a big day for us. Guinness had his shoes pulled, and my farrier didn't make me feel guilty. Wahoo!

Look at those beautiful toes!

After telling my farrier that I didn't feel that shoes and pads were doing anything but bandaiding my problem, he agreed. He told me that if I could keep Guinness comfortable and avoid bruising, we would have just as much luck barefoot as in shoes - then, he pulled them, did a little evening up and we called it a day.
Luckily, my farrier will be at the farm for the next 2 weeks. That way, if I have any problems he is on hand to help me out. I can't get better than that, plus the soft ground is helping too!

Yesterday I ordered a new set of Cavallo Sport Boots to replace the worn out pair of original Old Macs of the barn's that I have been using. I'd stick with free, but GP thinks that they are a little too clunky to walk or canter normally in (though trotting appears to be fine?), plus one is completely busted at the buckle. In addition, the Cavallo boots are awesome, in that they are all velcro and super fast to put on. How much better can you get for something I'd be putting on and taking off about 3 times a day. Jeesh! I can't wait the 2-5 days for delivery!

Since Tuesday, Guinness and I have been following advice from internet friends and my farrier and going for long walks on the asphalt of the surrounding neighborhoods. I think being barefoot is making GP more comfortable out there, as there has been much less bit chomping and nervousness. Instead I have a horse who has been all business. He pretty much just marches onward, ears pricked and looking all directions. He's relaxed and happy, and that's awesome!

Now for some gratuitous hoof photos. Sorry about the photo qualities, balancing an iphone in the rain is difficult, okay!

On a lighter note, my horse is a trouble maker in turnout. He's a mouthy little thoroughbred if I've ever met one. Two weeks ago he ripped apart a cone and ate a book of dressage tests left in the ring. This week, he's setting up trot poles. Raven and Joe are helping ...

I actually got worried that GP had this pole stuck in his mouth. He held it for over 5 minutes without shifting. Meanwhile, Raven licked his neck and made faces. When I walked out there, I found that silly pony was just playing ...
I think my favorite part is how they scare themselves! Anyone else have a horse who is a riot in turnout?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Oops Moment!

Found: Abandoned in indoor arena. Appears to have been well cared for and trained. I'm sure owner will be looking for it.

Damn. There goes our hope of showing at the Majestic Farms schooling show. This sucks because Guinness and I had really worked out quite a but during our conditioning ride, and I think he was completely ready for Training tests 2&3.

Now, here I am waiting for the farrier. I'm torn between having the other shoe just pulled off and going 100% to bare with boots, or keeping on pads for another cycle. Ugh! Horse! Why you so difficult?!

I have been taking steps to change diet. Starting with soaking hay. GP likes more that way anyway. Especially when I soak it in hot water, cause baby it's been cold outside.

For now, I'm sitting here bracing for a fight with my farrier and dreaming of tonight's delicious valentine's day meal. I hope it's as wonderful as I have planned, especially since the man in question certainly deserves it!

Hope you all are having a good valentine's day and eating lots of good chocolate! Try this cake on for size, you won't be disappointed! Chocolate cake!!
Location:The barn

Friday, January 14, 2011

Walking on Sunshine

Well, we're back in pads - fronts only.

My farrier came out yesterday afternoon, took off Guinness' front shoes and gasped in horror. Basically, his sole is gone. His feet have wall, a little sole that was under the shoe and then are scooped out completely. It looked like his cannon bone could come plunging through his sole at any point. Terrifying. Farrier looked at me and said "Pads?". For once, I completely agreed.

So, full padding was applied, including some cushioning material to help absorb all the shock and keep anything from applying constant pressure to the inside of the hoof. We discussed reasons for the total wearing away of the sole on GP's front feet for a long time. Obviously "being chestnut" or "having white feet" has nothing to do with these issues. Farrier also doesn't believe that simply being front feet is the issue either. Instead, he wondered if maybe a buildup of materials - like the balling up the indoor sand in his feet - could be causing the sole to be worn away and the constant pressure to bruise the sole and prevent growth.

This sort of makes sense to me. But for the amount that I picked out that horse's feet (2 to 3 times a day! Almost every time he was in turnout and when leaving his stall!), it just doesn't make sense. Sure, he might have a ball of indoor dirt left in there after a round of turnout while I was at work - but that was what? for a couple of hours? I don't know.

My concern is the possibility of slight amount of previous founder. With some forms of founder, especially a more minor type, the coffin bone can rotate some, allowing it to put pressure on the corium, cutting off blood supply to the sole, and inhibiting growth (source: here).
If this is happening, it's ultra scary due to the possibility of the sharp coffin bone possibly puncturing through the now softened sole. This is all hypothetical, but with the sluggish growth rate and constant foot pain, I can't help but wonder.

For now, the pads seem to be helping. During turn out time, Guinness is MUCH more active than usual, running around like a total fool. This might be due to his cabin fever and lack of riding, but I think it's also partially related to being pain free. The limping is GONE, though last night I did notice some soreness on him after some arena dirt packed in his hooves a little. Apparently that might be a problem even with the pads. Just something to keep my eyes on.

Riding is finally is on the horizon. Right now it's lots of walking, and walking, and walking. We are going to take things slow and condition up to optimum fitness. For now, 45 minutes of walking with 5 minutes of trotting at 30 minutes. We'll do this for a week (as boring as it is!) and revaluate. Then increase the trotting bit by bit till that's boring, then canter work! The hope is to be able to show at Majestic Farms at their February show.

Today is my last day at work. Until I find something new, I'll be volunteering at the art museum and pestering my horse. Hopefully that means you'll hear more from me!

I'll keep you posted!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Poor Little Sore Foot

Our lameness issues aren't getting better. In fact, they are getting worse. Way worse. The "worsest" if you will ...

Everything started the beginning of the winter season with a little extra stiffness in the early parts of our ride. I expect this every winter. My giant red teddy bear isn't young anymore, and his joints pop more than Orville Redenbacher. We modify our rides to include at least 20 minutes of walking, both on a long rein and with contact. Then a little slow trotting, before I ask for a really engaged trot and start asking for bend, contact and figures. This has actually been working out very well for us, and I have felt pretty okay with debuting at Training Level later this month (but those concerns are another post!).

Recently, the lamness has been getting worse. Instead of working out of his stiffness and soreness, his gaits develop into a three legged hop around corners and a regular limp. While very worrying, the symptoms aren't there all the time. We might have 3 or 4 great days where his joints just crack and then 1 or 2 horrifying days. On the bad days I think about applying for a horsy leg transplant. I've been begging my vet to come out and look at him, but with the holidays and the racetracks (my vet is the main vet for Ohio racetracks) closing it's been impossible to get him out there.

Monday, after a really bumpy 15 min ride, in which Guinness seriously HOPPED around a corner on THREE LEGS. I called my vet from the saddle, nearly sobbing. We were able to schedule a visit, and talked about some of the possibilties including debilitating arthritis, injections or some sort of soft tissue/tendon injury. Really everything was looking pretty down right then. After I left the barn that night, all I could do was mope around.

All day Tuesday I kept trying to stay positive. I kept hoping for a simple arthritis diagnosis. Something an injection and careful warm-ups, wrapping, poltice and rest could help. Anything but a tendon injury, really.

Tuesday night I rode Guinness around for the vet. He watched us trot and walk both directions, as the big red horse hopped around below me - clearly in pain. An extensive poking and proding session resulted in my vet reaching for the hoof testers - and coming up with a positive test on the front right toe. My vet then proceeded to tell me that it looks like my horse has soft soles, and that I should slap some pads on him or pack him with Magic Cushion for the next two weeks to see how that helps. Venice turpentine is another option, to help toughen the soles. Oookay...

I have a couple of issues with this. First of all, why are my horse's delicate soles suddenly destroyed by the same footing he's been on since mid November? I know that we've always had to be extra careful with Guinness' feet, but why, despite the softness, is he only tender in one spot? What other options are there besides full "tennis shoe" type pads? What about an abscess? Doesn't that seem a little more like the obvioius option?

I feel like this is going to be an ongoing issue, but I'm just not sure how to continue from here. For now, the plan is to soak and poultice Guinness's right front hoof to see if I can coax out what may be an abscess. I agree that there is definite heat where the hoof testers pointed out a problem spot, and from the outside of the hoof I can feel a bit of isolated flare. I am wondering if this was caused by a quicked nail, a possible infection hurting as it grows out and/or he tripped hard and bruised his toe.

What really bothers me is the constant problem of soft or tender soles, and the complete write off I am getting from those around me. My vet told me that this problem would never resolve because "red-heads" (read: chestnut horses) always have softer feet. And that "white feet are always weaker."

... okay. Seriously? No.

First of all, the foot in question isn't even GP's white hoof. His white hoof is his back left, and I've NEVER had a problem with it.
Secondly, I never HEARD the thing about chestnuts, it's the biggest load of hooey ever. I mean, what if I told you that the reason my neighbor can grow a beard is because he has brown hair. Or, the reason his wife's fingernails break all the time is because she is fat.
Mythology, it's an amazing thing. Studies have disproved the white feet thing several times, yet my VET is spouting it. I'm disgusted..

Needless to say, I'm pretty frustrated right now. I've been trolling all horse outlets I know of to try to find more information to try to help my horse. I feel pretty abandoned by the professionals around me, and that's rather disheartening.

I did call my farrier, and that man has been a godsend. He wants to come out to look at Guinness and re-evaluate his feet. He doesn't think this has to be something we have to "just live with", and thinks the mythology is pretty bunk. Thank god, finally. We're going to have a look on Monday. Here's to hoping ...