Friday 31 March 2023

The Reason I Am Currently Exhausted

When last we left off, Cisco had a maybe hoof abscess so Phantom was being forced to come out of retirement and put up with me on her back a few days a week.

The only thing that has changed is that the maybe abscess turned into a definite abscess. Phantom, much to her dismay, is still getting ridden three days a week.

I actually got a couple of rides on Cisco between the abscess being a maybe and a definite. He was surprisingly relaxed after a couple of weeks off (probably because there were other horses in the arena) and on the second ride he ended the ride stretching his neck nicely forward and down.

So of course he was hopping lame the next night.

We did the whole usual abscess protocol. At this point, he's sound and there's been no goop coming out of his foot for a few days, but he's still sporting the Vetrap/duct tape/ disposable diaper boot. He sees the farrier at the end of next week and I want confirmation that it has keratinized enough that we won't risk starting all over again before he gets to go out barefoot - I'm exhausted from having to go out every night to rewrap his foot and would really like to be able to  take a couple of days off.

I actually hopped on him today for a 20 minute walk ride while sporting the boot. He was surprisingly relaxed again, even though he was by himself this time, and confidently marched into every corner of the arena, where he got either a cookie or a wither scritch as a reward. Despite his bravery under saddle, as soon as I hopped off he immediately did the "I see dead people" stare into the far end of the arena.

Phantom has been hanging isnthere.  I'm still nebulizing her with dex before our ride, which seems to work better on some days than others. Our rides are about 30 minutes with about 5 minutes total of trot. She's sassy and ready to go while I'm on her, but as soon as I'm off she just wants to nap.

Too tired to move - at least untiI I wander out of site.

I foresee that things will go much the same way for the next week until farrier day, and then hopefully I can get a couple of days away from the barn before the horses get their vaccinations and required days off right after Easter.

Thursday 9 March 2023

The Pinch Hitter

Since Cisco was off for a bit with his probable abscess in his hoof, Phantom was going to have to step up to the plate as my #1. She had only been ridden once so far this year, so she is pretty convinced that being tacked up is something that she no longer must endure on a regular basis.

Except that I had the weekend off. So she got ridden three days in a row. 

Oh! The horror!

She had a chance to burn off some sillies on Wednesday night - which she was quite happy to do. I pretty well just stood in the middle, picking the rocks out of the footing that still pop up every time the arena is harrowed and trying not to notice how stiff Phantom looked behind. 

Thursday was the first ride. We did 30 minutes - 27 of which were at a walk on a long rein, and a total of 3 minutes, done in short bursts, at a slow trot. The old mare (who turns 20 in a couple of months) was feeling her age and was stiff behind. 

Phantom thought she had died. Dead.

No desire to move.

While I undressed her after the ride, she squeezed her eyes shut expressing her complete exhaustion. I didn't clip her back up to the tie, and when brushing her face took her halter off and left it off. For 15 minutes, she stood completely still in the middle of the barn aisle, reflecting on what had gone wrong in her life that resulted in this indignity.

Day two brought out a completely different Phantom. This one was chatty the whole time I was tacking up - she kept nickering to me when I left to get something out of my tack box. I have no idea what she was trying to tell me, but I find it hard to believe that she was expressing her joy in being tacked up yet again. And it wasn't for cookies - she spit them out when I tried to give her some. Wierd mare. 

The ride was much the same as the previous one - lots of walking, short trots. She felt better right off the bat at the walk, walking much more forward and loose. The trot also felt better - at least when tracking left. When tracking right, she's not feeling quite as solid as I would like - she's feeling like an old horse. She kept threatening to bolt out of the bolty corner though!

Ride three was on Saturday. I used the nebulizer on her before the ride with some Dex to see if that would help her breathing, as she was rather puffy after the short trots on the previous rides, although she recovered well which has been a problem in the past. It seemed to help, so I will keep doing that before riding.

Phantom's so cool, she's gotta wear shades. Not for flies, but to give her eyes a break from the very bright sun.

This time, we did over 4 minutes of trot, and a wee bit of canter. Very wee. 

Again, she was feeling better than the ride before, but not as good tracking right as left. She happily picked up the canter without drama. We did the right lead first, which is typically her better rein, and oh, was it jarring! Especially the downward transition! The left felt pretty good though.

A girl's gotta nap after a whole 30 steps of canter. 

Things are still pretty cold here at the moment, so Phantom had two days reprieve before I hopped on for a fourth time in a week. It turns out that things were still pretty cold that night, and I don't even think I made it a half hour before I said fuck it and hopped off, landing on my frozen toes. We managed to do almost 5 minutes of trot this time though, and she had quite a sassy walk after a few easy trot leg yields.

I'm hoping to hop on Cisco this weekend, so Phantom will be relieved to go back to her mostly retired life. It's much easier to ride her in the warmer months when there is still light in the sky and I'm not chilled through after riding Cisco, so I'm going to aim for April to get her going a few days a week. I'll get her back on Previcox when we see the vet for vaccinations and see if that helps her arthritic hocks feel a bit less stiff.

Wednesday 8 March 2023

Hurtin' Soles

The ponies recently had their pedicure in the midst of another cold spell. We were spoiled for a few weeks at the end of January and beginning of February with unseasonally warm weather (no where near bikini weather, but warm for Canadian prairies in the winter weather), which means that everything on the ground is icy and hard and there has been little snow covering it up and making it feel softer.

I was out fixing holes in their haynet (again) and Cisco was being all cute watching me while resting his chin on Phantom's withers.

The perfect recipe for hoof abscesses!

It looks like Cisco's big flat feet have fallen victim to the hard surface. When riding him last Monday, he was not quite right. To me he felt a bit foot sore in front, which I attributed to maybe a bit of bruising from the hard ground he lives on. 

I trotted him up the barn aisle on Wednesday, he still seemed NQR. On Thursday, I checked his digital pulses to make sure it wasn't laminitis, and found a strongish pulse on his right foot. Maybe an abscess was brewing?

Friday - picked up his foot and immediately saw an opening towards his toe that very much looked like an abscess had burst through. There was also some funky flaky stuff happening to his sole next to the hole. That had me more concerned than the hole. Is his sole shedding? Or should I expect a big chunk of the sole to come off related to the abscess? Is it an old abscess that he didn't tell me about? Cisco hadn't been lame other than the NQR under saddle earlier in the week, which I likely never would have picked up on if I wasn't on him.

I wrapped his foot on Friday with some Animalintex to see if any goop was draining - the padding was all goop free the next day. I opted to leave it unwrapped after that because a duct tape boot is about as slippery to walk on as a Krazy Karpet on ice. Since everything out here is frozen, I'm not as concerned about keeping it clean as I would be in the spring with mud.

My first time wrapping Cisco's big foot - not my best work. I could use some practice, but I hope I never need to!

My farrier agreed with my assessment and plan after I shot her a picture asking if I should expect his sole to fall off. She said soles have been taking a shit kicking in our weather as of late.

I'm going to keep Cisco out of the arena for the next week at least to reduce the risk of sand getting in the hole. The digital pulse has gone down and he is much more forward trotting down the barn aisle, so I will use those to monitor how he is feeling. In the meantime, we'll stay on the frozen ground and go for hand walks. It's cold enough that I little incentive to ride for the next few days anyways!

There were beautiful blue skies to walk under this weekend. It was still cold though!

Monday 6 March 2023

Riding Inside

(This was written almost three weeks ago, but wasn't published because I wanted to add pictures to it. That hasn't happened, so I'm just going to publish it super late so I can get caught up.)

I rode four days this week - in the new indoor arena!!

It opened on Tuesday (Feb 7) for us to ride in - we got the message as I was driving out to the barn after work. The whole thing isn't fully finished - there are still some things that will be completed through the spring, but the riding area was ready to go! 

There weren't too many of us that rode on the first day, and all the others that did finished before I went in, so Cisco had to put his big boy pants on and do it alone. We did some groundwork before using the fence rail to get on (very awkwardly) and pretty well just walked. 

It went much better than I expected. Although Cisco was very concerned, he kept his brain in his head and for the most part walked like a regular horse. Well, unless we turned from any direction toward the gate/entrance area - then he tried to break into a trot and throw his shoulders at the exit. His lack of confidence comes out as being gate-bound, which really isn't super fun but is super annoying. I can measure his nervousness by the number of poops he does, and for the fairly short period we were in there, he had four poops, so he was pretty worried. But overall, I was happy with his first ride in the arena.

We also ended up by ourselves in the ring the next night. We did a bit more trot, which tired him out a little bit (he is so not fit) and that negated some of the desire to want to leave. The trot started in full drama llama mode, but by just concentrating on the rhythm he started to relax and lengthened his neck. He gave one big spook though - not at the door with the creaky hinge that was opened and kept creeping me out, nor at the people that went up the stairs and were happily greeted by their dog as evidenced by the sound of happy dog feet in the apartment at one end of the arena. No, it was as we were trotting across the diagonal, and I think that he saw his reflection in the window next to the door in the middle of the long side. He teleported about six feet to the right, I lost a stirrup and was sitting way off to the left, but thankfully he always stops and lets me get back in the middle of the saddle again. This was a three poop ride. 

My Thursday ride was timed so that I could ride with others, and give Cisco a chance to relax in the arena with the company of other horses. It worked. He walked in, looked around all bug-eyed, realized he wasn't alone, and immediately chilled. We were able to walk on a loose rein right away, and there was very little gtfo towards the gate. He felt a bit stiff at the beginning of the ride, but got better and better as the ride went on. Only two poops this time. 

Our next ride was on Sunday, again with some other horses in the arena, so Cisco was nice and relaxed again. Part way through the ride he really relaxed, and the last part of our ride he was soft, bendy, responsive, and trying really hard to stretch his neck forward and down. I was really happy with his try. It was also the seldom seen one poop ride. We don't have these very often. I got lucky and one of the other riders picked my poop up before I got off, so I didn't have any poop to clean up!

Phantom also discovered that she was expected to come out of full retirement on Sunday. She hasn't been ridden since October as I wanted good footing to let her loose in before I hopped on. She had a bit of a play earlier in the week, but was huffing and puffing after a short run so I ended it before she was really ready to be done. 

The plan was to mostly walk, maybe throw some trots down the long sides if all was going well. Of my two horses, the one who is going to be 20 this year is the one that I don't trust at all. She'll bolt with no warning, and once she's started she gets a bit ridiculous.

After 15 minutes of a very quiet walk, we shuffle jogged down a long side, walking through the short end. As we turned the corner I shortened my reins, Phantom trotted three strides, then tried to dive into the middle of the arena. It took me a couple of minutes to shut her down, with lots of surging into the trot, before she could walk like a normal horse again. 

After a few more minutes of very quiet walking, I thought I would try one more time. Slow trot down the long side, walk, and another couple minutes of surging into the trot before we could walk quietly again. It went pretty well just how I thought it would. 

So, it was a good start in the new arena!