Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Day 98 and 99: Broken Bit & Runaway Horses

You could say I got to my 100 days with a bang because 98 and 99 were rather exciting & strange.

I'll start with 98.

(Here we are before the ride.  Oh, what adventures awaited!)

This was a ride with my 87 year old friend--a retired family practice doc & lifelong equestrian who hails from the great state of Texas.  He can barely walk, but he can still ride!  And he likes the challenging stuff.

He'd stop us for a "meeting" at each juncture and say, Okay, we can go this way--the easy way--or this other way--through a walking tunnel, over the railroad tracks, along the railroad tracks, up some private property...etc."  He'd let us choose.  I usually opted for a smorgasbord of his ideas & nixed some of his others.

At one point in our adventure, my brave, seasoned gentleman rider almost got bucked off, and I have to admit his life did flash before my eyes--but it didn't seem to phase him. Not one bit.

(Along the route we stopped at a friend's ranch. Things were still going well.)

The picture above is the last one I took--happier times--because when we left there-half way through our journey--things deteriorated for me.  And, they deteriorated for my bit.  Because, you see, my bit broke in half along a steep cliff trail.  

Cowboy didn't act like anything had happened, but when I pulled up to slow him down, there was nothing there.  Nothing.  Just two  hanging pieces of broken bit and the bridle held on by a chin strap.

At that point, I dismounted, but the trail was too thin for rider and walker, so I was sandwiched behind one horse and Cowboy.  Cowboy was sandwiched behind another horse and me.  It was a bit crowded, so everyone spread out and gave us some room. 

And, that's about when we got to the down tree.  A large down tree.  

I got over the tree with no problem, and then I asked Cowboy to come over.  But Cowboy had other plans.  He wanted to go around the tree.  He was even willing to go over the cliff to get around the tree.  Although, in his defense, it was so overgrown with brush and shrubs, he probably didn't know it was a drop off.  As you can imagine, he figured it out quick when he started slipping and getting tangled up--and he jumped back on the trail to save his life--barely missing me.  I shouted a few not-so-savory-words during that little fiasco.  Not that it helped.

Off we went again, and I walked a good ways until we finally got off that Hell Trail and onto a wider one.  As you see, I'm writing this, so I made it back safely.  So did Cowboy.

In retrospect, I wonder what would have happened if the bit hadn't broken.  Would Cowboy still have avoided that tree and opted for the cliff?  Would my weight have got him off balance when he tried to correct?  It's a scary thought.

Day 99

Day 99 was a Back Country Horseman Scavenger Hunt at Riverside State Park.  The BCH is one of the most quality equestrian groups out there.  They donate time and resources to preserving and maintaining our trails.  Their events are of the highest quality....but there's always someone who comes along to ruin it.

We were all given rules for the hunt--and, as you can imagine, NO RUNNING was printed loud and clear for all to see.  With 75 riders--if you have some running, it sets off the others. But run they did--splitting up and scouring the trails for their items as if their lives depended on it. 

On that particular day, there was also a running marathon going through the park.  So, picture this, humans running by the hundreds--horses running---and add to that something extra special....

Two riderless runaway horses galloping by us.

Yes, riderless.  They had bucked off their people and headed for the high hills--which eventually led them straight back home.  

But, in the meantime, we were in the eye of the storm--me, my friend and trainer, Rebecca, who went after the runaways, and my 12 year old granddaughter.  

Cowboy was a hot mess.  He wanted to run--or trot--or something that got us out of there.  So, I dismounted and had my granddaughter dismount--not knowing if the runaways would circle back to us.  Better to be safe than sorry--especially when you have your granddaughter with you.

We walked them back to the arena and waited for our friend to get back and join us again and for the horses to settle.  Then, we went back out and finished up with no more incidents.  

We ended up having a wonderful time and my granddaughter won two tickets to the Spokane Symphony and a $50 gift certificate to a restaurant.  She's going to take her parents out on a date!

On day 100, I took Cowboy back to the park where the Scavenger Hunt was held, to prove to him, there wasn't anything to fear.  (I think he had a little horsey PTSD.  As an Omega, he has always been nervous in horse crowds!)

Day 100 was just a lovely, uneventful day with friends, like most of my rides in the 100 Day Challenge.  

And more good news, my farrier tested Leah's hooves today and she didn't react at all.  A good sign that things are going back to normal.  

What's next after my 100 days?  What adventures lie ahead in 2016-2017?  

I can't wait to find out.

Monday, September 26, 2016

100 Days With Horses 2016

Thank you, God, for the gift of my 100 days, in the year 2016, with horses.  One hundred days of seeing the world through the ears and eyes of the most sentient, sensitive beings you created.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Horse Husbands

(Sunday Ride--70 degrees and sunny)

I have to give a shout-out to horse husbands.  If you have one, be thankful, not everyone does.  They are built-in riding partners and a big help at the barn.

I had to laugh about this though!    

(Saturday Ride: 55 degrees and raining hard)

I asked my horse hubby to saddle up 3 times this weekend.  THREE times!  And, he did so happily.  One of the rides was a fund-raiser for Free Rein Therapeutic.  It's our local charity that helps kids, and veterans with PTSD, through working with and riding horses.

After the ride, we were serenaded with some live country music.  They also provided a yummy BBQ! The comfort food was so darn comforting because we were drenched and cold when we got back.

Some of the volunteers.

The upside to riding in the rain was the smell of wet pine and the increased activity of the birds.  We saw a bald eagle soar down the middle of the Spokane River for quite a ways.  It was stunning with the rain hitting the water, the dark backdrop of a gray sky and mist--stunning.  Of course, where's your camera at a moment like that?

 (Up on the bluff)

We saw a bunch of activity on the other side of the river, and it turned out to be a WEDDING!  What a beautiful spot to get married--even in the rain and cold.

We even got a free t-shirt for riding!

You may notice, I'm riding Cowboy and not Leah.  I had my farrier put shoes on Cowboy when he was out since Cowboy has been called back to full-time service. My farrier has been handling Leah's lameness issue for me. (He's coming out weekly or as needed.)  Because of my history with veterinarian mis-diagnosis, I tend to trust my farrier more than anyone else.  He is the reason Cowboy is sound 10 years post-P3 fracture. If I had continued to rely on my vets, Cowboy would be dead these last ten years.  (And that is NOT an exaggeration--he was scheduled to be put down.)  So, if there is an issue with one of my horse's feet--my farrier is the one I go to.  You may call this minimalist, but since I started down the minimalist road, I've had FAR less problems with my horses. If it progresses, though, my farrier will tell me when it's time to get x-rays and proceed to the next step.

From his tests, it appears she's slightly laminitic.  Not enough to limp or shift weight, but enough to test for some pain in the toe area of all four feet.  We think it was caused by her obesity, so our plan is to use an anti-inflammatory and take the weight off of her.  She loves to eat, so she's not happy with the calorie restriction, but it's for her own good.  In truth, she's getting a normal amount of food--like most horses get.  I was killing her with kindness before.

Interestingly, she was most sensitive in her left foot, but it is her RIGHT that she fights going to.  I think there are multiple issues we're dealing with--not just the feet, but the feet have to get well before we can proceed to the rest.  I'm quite hopeful that she will be sound--in the feet--very soon.

(Thursday's Ride: 80 degrees, hot & sunny. My TWO favorite COWBOYS!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Leah Mystery Lameness Videos

Here are some examples of Leah going to the right and left. (When her head bobs goes down, she is looking at green "food".)


Did I ever mention that I'm a minimalist?

After talking with Rebecca & watching Leah with her, I decided to start with some basics before proceeding. I called my farrier and he came out this weekend and did a hoof test. There was some pain in her backs--but it wasn't much. There was maybe a little in her front right, but again, it would be very little. He wants to put a good trim on her and shoes all around, so he asked me to soak her feet and soften them up for a few days. When he comes back, he wants to test again and see if he can detect anymore pain or possible bruising.

He watched her move out and he brought up all four legs and didn't detect any pain or resistance in the hip or shoulders. By watching her, he couldn't see a specific area of pain--it seemed more all around discomfort--but not super perceptible.

For now, he wants her to lose about 100 more pounds, continue to stretch and move in ways that are comfortable for her, and get some new shoes on all four feet, and then we'll reassess and decide if we need to go a step further.

I have her separated from the rest of the herd so that I can control her diet.  She's on strictly grass--30 minute feedings.  I pull her out for massage and light exercise.  My farrier joked, even if she had a broken leg, she'd still benefit from stretching, bending and massage!

This whole thing is baffling because she does not have any obvious signs of lameness.  In the pasture, at liberty, she runs, trots, and bucks around like she feels just fine.

I'll post another video after we get her reshod.

In the meantime, Cowboy has been pulled out of retirement, and he's in soft shape.  I'm doing massage and TTouch with him and trying to get him reconditioned.  Used to be, I'd pull him out of the pasture anytime and he'd be in pretty good shape, but old age has definitely changed his body--as it has mine.  Still, he is so fun to work with and ride!!  I wish I had another exactly like him at age 8--or just turn back the clock and have him as an 8 year old again.

The shadow of Cowboy and me on our morning ride.  We warmed up in the arena and went for a little trail ride around the house.

My favorite view.

Rebecca and I have also been working with Cowgirl (lots of horses needing time around here). Leah was watching us from the trailer.  (She can also benefit from standing tied!  In fact, she has been standing tied in a flooded stall for 2-3 hours per day.  EXCELLENT training.  She does some of her trailer antics, but settles and calms herself nicely.  Again, another thing she can do despite any "lameness.")

Leah is standing more solid on her fronts than she was a couple weeks ago. I'm really starting to think whatever happened is resolving itself.  Remembering back, it all began on those first trail rides before I had her fronts shod.  She was also extremely overweight at that time.  Time will tell. 

And, by the way, I'm 8 days away from my 100 Day Challenge!!  Woot! Woot!  There have been lots of fun times, confusing times, scary times, and sad times, but mostly there has been lots of HORSE time.