Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Holidays!!

Bags are packed, horse is taken care of, and pet sitter will be here soon.  We are about to head to the airport (please shine on us travel gods) for two weeks in New Zealand.

Happy Holidays to blogland and all of its critters!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

3 years ago today

After a long trailer ride, an orange horse got off the truck and probably wondered why someone pulled him from a Maryland that was having a mild winter and delivered him to frigid Colorado

First view of CO

Checking things out
Who are you lady?
Less than a week later, so unimpressed
Happy anniversary, Fawkes!

Friday, December 12, 2014

This horse can stay

It has been another crazy week with my riding time being nonexistent.  We leave for New Zealand in exactly one week which has us running around trying to get organized and then, scarily, Aragorn got sick.

Sleepy sick kitty post subcutaneous fluids and a day trip to the vet

He was diagnosed a few years ago as likely having IBD but most seemed healthy if I watched his diet.  However, I noticed he was still having stomach issues on his Rx food a few weeks ago and decided to try a new limited ingredient diet with a novel protein (duck).  Yeah, this is the reason I am not a professional animal nutritionist or apparently smart person.  His stomach health has tanked this past week.  We are still waiting for bloodwork to make sure it isn't something else, but after he spent all day at the vet today getting rehydrated they think it is just an IBD flareup.

Poor guy does not feel good and J and I are tired of inhaling carpet cleaner too.  Anyways, long story still kind of long, I didn't get out to see Fawkes until this evening.  But it was so worth the wait.  I actually think that minimizing my rides has multiple benefits in that Fawkes and I were kind of on each other's nerves and the break has made us much happier when we get together.  Most importantly, all these uninterrupted training rides are giving me a new horse to ride.  And I like this critter!
Weird things happen in my house.  Like dog stacking

We took a lesson and his walk and trot have officially become like new gaits.  He is learning to default to dropping his head instead of doing a giraffe imitation, use his hind legs and back, and hold steadier in the contact.  He still sometimes gets cranky about the right leg, but there is an actual response there now.  I need to get J out for some pictures because I am pretty sure he looks hooottt.  I know he feels it.  He was also responsive and light in the bridle.

We trotted and cantered poles and straightness is getting much better.  I am really trying to use my outside aids correctly.  And because Fawkes has discipline now, if he ignores my right leg I get to kick him instead of trying to will him to listen.

To wrap up, we trotted a cross rail a few times.  Fawkes was brave, forward, and straight - admittedly a tiny x - but what was craziest was that he actually tried to rush the thing.  Twice!!  Fawkes has never been confident enough to rush at a jump.  I steadied him and didn't let him, but what horse is this and can I keep it??

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Busy week

I am surprised I managed to ride Fawkes twice (Monday and Friday) this week given how crazy it has been.  Work getting ready for the holidays, us meeting adopters for the foster dog, the insanity of 6 animals in general, etc.  Oh, and J left town to go visit his family so I am single pet mom for the time being.

Gizmo went to his new home this morning, yay!!!

However, I did get to the barn yesterday.  Which brings up the topic of Keratex.  I have been using it as instructed since literally the day his hind shoes came off.  So two whole weeks now.  The first week was daily and now it is twice a week.  To try and maximize the process, I am being super anal.
1. Pick out horse feet, scrape walls
2. Hose horse feet to remove mud and dirt. Listen to horse sigh about the torture.  Get soaked by rebounding water.
3.  Walk horse up and down aisle to squeeze out excess water.
4. Wipe hooves (including sole) dry with a towel and make sure to remove any remaining dirt.  Get hit in the face by tail of horse who is tired of picking up his feet already.
5.  Groom, pet, ignore, or feed treats to horse to let 5ish minutes go by to allow the insane dryness of CO in winter to remove residual moisture. Watch horse complain about not getting enough cookies.
6. Apply Keratex to hoof wall and sole.
7.  Tack up horse and ride.

I am middling impressed.  The Keratex doesn't seem to have done anything about the chipping/flaking below the nail holes on his hinds but on the other hand he hasn't been sore in back so maybe it is working?

Ride was ok, he wasn't spooky at all but he was a bit cranky.  Trainer R said Fawkes had a kind of rough week in terms of attitude.  She has started to be more insistent with him and that leads to temper tantrums and then when she disciplines him in any way, he freaks.  This has been the fine line problem we have had for almost 3 years now.  He is kind of a jerk and then flips his shit when you ask/insist he stop being a jerk.  So we will see if she can push him past that because I am definitely over it!  I feel bad saying he is on some kind of clock but we are really close to our 3 year anniversary (next week) and you can only hit the reset button so many times before calling it.  Anyways, besides getting stuck in canter transitions, it was pretty good ride.  His flat work is improving by leaps and bounds.  Tack got cleaned and conditioned before I left, which is also amazing.

Today Fawkes was getting a massage - more proof that he lives a better life than I do - while I took the dogs on a hike.  In preparation for the backpacking we are planning to do in New Zealand, I decided to do a reasonably hard hike (close to 8 miles, about 3k feet of elevation gain).  And to up the game, I carried 6 liters of water and some other junk to get the pack closeish to 20 pounds.

The hike is up a mountain called South Boulder peak, which had a fire two summers ago.  There is a section called Shadow Canyon which is something like 1800 feet of vertical in a little over a mile.  AKA a giant stone staircase of pain.  At the saddle before the summit, I turned to look back in the direction of the car and randomly caught this shot.
It was a rare overcast day in CO and the burned trees seem to make a cool effect with the low lying clouds.  And then, oddly, you can still see Pike's Peak in the far distance - probably 75 miles away.

Maya on the summit with the Indian Peaks in the background.
The dogs had a blast and are both currently passed out.  Not unusual for Jasper but I somehow tired out Maya!  The perpetual motion machine!  Very exciting.  On the descent my knees were very grateful for my hiking poles.  People make fun of hiking poles but I don't think you can hike as much as J and I do over such terrain (and ski and snow shoe and bike and ride horses and sometimes run) and still have functioning joints without help.  At least I couldn't.

Lesson tomorrow morning although I am already kind of sore so let's hope I can get some leg cooperation.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Riding catch up

We had a riding lesson on Friday morning.  It was a beautiful, perfect day and it really is quite nice to see your horse in daylight for once.  There was a lot of activity in the indoor which in a strange way seems to make Fawkes more comfortable.  I suppose he feels he is less likely to be eaten in the herd.

I wish there were more exciting things to report from the lesson but it was really just more of the same.   If I feel like a broken record, just imagine how my poor trainer feels.  Right shoulder back, keep a feel but not too much, don't let your foot slip forward too much.  Fawkes feels absolutely amazing to the left, with this big trot and soft.  The right takes a lot more work on my part, but the trot quality is much improved, and we are starting to get a little straighter and more responsive.

Crappy pic, but at least it shows his clip job

We worked on lines of poles up the center - which is very hard for us because it is a tight turn with minimal time to get straight - and poles/cross rails just off the rail. Coming off the rail and controlling his outside shoulder is still very difficult.  Apparently I was using too much outside leg, or more accurately Fawkes wasn't responding well to my outside leg so I was compensating by kicking him.  My trainer told me to just use outside rein to straighten and the inevitable happened, Fawkes just drifted back to the rail.  So then we worked on maintaining light inside rein contact while straightening outside aids.  Again, my horse has a very narrow threshold.

However!  There is a big positive.  There have been great strides in the ability to straighten while going through the poles or between jumps.  So much so I over straightened him and made him crooked in the other direction.  I am counting that as a win.  And he continued his happy, bold, relaxed jumping.  Consistency and calm is a wonderful thing.

Foster Gizmo got groomed!!  So flipping cute and starts interviewing prospective
families this week.

Sunday I watched R2 ride Fawkes which was good but kind of a bummer because the temperature was plummeting.  It was 49 when I got the barn and 22 when I left 2.5 hours later.  Fawkes was very stuck for her, presumably because he was cold and slow to warm up.  So in a reversal of what I usually get, he was not great on the flat but was excellent over fences for her.  I am glad I was able to watch because it is nice to see that it isn't just me (he can be difficult for even a pro) and also how he is coming along.

Last night was intended to be a quiet hack for us, unfortunately we had an exceptionally spooky ride.  It started poorly when I was leading him inside and somewhere nearby a puppy was squeaking a ball.  The horror.  Then, when we were trotting around, someone walked past the indoor entrance to dump a pitchfork of manure.  Medium level spook ensued.  As we were recovering from that, a cat jumped up onto the wall.  Another medium spook then just tense critter being tense.  The rest of the ride became a game of  "Find Fawkes' Brain."  Transitions, circles, bending, not letting him look around for things to react to. Once he eventually settled back to a nice relaxed trot I let him be done.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cheap Date and Less Furs

So I am way behind on what is going on with Fawkes, although nothing too unexpected has happened so that is good!

Wednesday I got out of work early and went to the barn to visit with Fawkes and do his Keratex treatment.  I was greeted with a drugged out pony just finishing up his clip job.  The vet said she gave him a normal horse dose of tranquilizer and then instantly regretted it since he nearly fell over 3(!!) times before steadying.  They apparently had several people balancing him and holding his head while R2 quickly shaved him.  He is definitely a cheap date with the drugs.  And he is also flipping cute when tranqed - snuggly and sweet and all sorts of nice that he doesn't have time for under normal circumstances.
Busy tasting the rainbow or whatever it is drugged horses do

Since he was already under he also got his teeth floated, hopefully preventing another episode of mouth abscessing.  I think he looks pretty good properly clipped instead of the embarrassment of last summer, but I just noticed I don't have any full body photos.  Will work on getting those.

I still sigh at this

One intriguing note, when he was getting clipped by his ears, we uncovered some white scarring.  It doesn't show when his fur is grown out.  My guess was the scarring is from the cribbing strap, but the vet said she didn't think so.  Her guess is that he had some sort of traumatic injury - like flipping over while being worked in a chambon.  I don't even know what a chambon is and as far I know, he hasn't been worked in one since I got him, but a) I guess it could have happened when he was a racer and b) it is possible something happened during a training session when I wasn't around with one of his previous trainers?  A moot point now, I guess.

Left side

Right side
The temperature was dropping so we gave him an extra blanket and put him away.  Thursday I was able to squeeze in a quick ride before Thanksgiving with friends.  It wasn't a very noteworthy ride except for to say that he was really good, responsive to the leg, softening, not being spooky or overly resistant.  Right leg response continues to be a work in progress.  We just did basic W-T-C, small leg yields, turn on the forehand, and many transitions.  I put him out in a different turn out to let him play and he had kind of a meltdown.  Orange horses really don't like when things change.  I have a mental note to try and put him there more often to expand his universe.

Fawkes got Thanksgiving carrots and promised to think of all the things he was grateful for :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

In which Fawkes makes an appearance

Although there are no under saddle pictures because I haven't been able to get anyone out to take new photos (ahem husband who sometimes reads this).

I have been trying to batch updates because there is just not that much to go on about.  Fawkes gets plenty of trainer rides and gets glowing reports from teacher.  She reiterates that he is not going to start respecting my right leg over night with no relapses so we need to take the small victories.  Interestingly, she is also getting a bit tough love with him and commented that it is time he learns to accept correction and discipline without over reacting. That was one of our main goals - basically to desensitize him - so I am glad she is already able to start incorporating that.

On Thursday, it was new shoes day.
Can you feel the excitement?

I wanted to pull his hind shoes for winter and get rid of the pads but we decided to go conservatively and leave the pads on for one more cycle since he was so flinchy at the hoof tester.  And I don't want to risk him being sore when I go out of the country for two weeks over Christmas.  In January, I am more willing to lose a week to footsoreness.

His feet have taken a bit of a beating lately including the still freaking growing out crack from stepping on himself 6 months ago and from pulling a shoe on the other front last cycle.  However, while they look a little bit rat-chewed, on the whole they are doing ok.  I took pictures before the new shoes went on:
Left Front

Right Front
His hinds are now barefoot and I am doing a round of Keratex to try and keep them from cracking too much.  Within a day they started flaking below the nail holes but hopefully the Keratex prevents too much damage.

This morning we actually had a riding lesson!  Amazing this riding your horse thing.  It was a really good ride.  I apparently have developed a lovely new habit of shoving my foot forward (noooo) so we got to work on that.  And with Fawkes it was more of the same old: marching walk, not meandering, outside rein, moving off whichever leg, and transitions within the trot.  He is spectacular off the left leg and there are some improvements off the right.  I know he used to be able to do this which makes me speculate how much he was compensating for his hurt back and for how long.  Anyways, sticking with the here and now, we also re-introduced canter transitions and going forward immediately after the transition.

I can't really think of much he did wrong during the flat work.  A couple times he inverted but was correct much more often than not.  Most of the attention was on me and my equitation flaws (post softer, tuck your butt, elbows do the transitions).  Then we moved onto poles and even some cross rails.  Getting him straight with my right aids (tracking left) to the poles/jump is still insanely challenging but going the other way was easy peasy.  And I noticed one small change that may or may not be significant.  Because he is Fawkes, he always jumps even little cross rails.  Usually he gets really close and takes a sort of trot chip step.  Today, he left that chippy step out and confidently jumped from farther away.  I got left behind over the smallest jump imaginable the first time because he has never done that before.  Something to keep an eye out for.

In other animal news, we took on a foster dog for a local border collie rescue.  This is Gizmo:
He showed up on Wednesday with a collar, some vaccine records, and nothing else.  Not even a name.  He is an intact-for-not-much-longer male border collie mix, maybe 18 months to 2 years old.  Sweet and easy, I don't expect it to take long for him to get a home.  He might have to get shaved down to deal with numerous mats and he is pretty shy, but he has already come out of his shell some.  It makes me happy to be able to help a dog find his way to a new and better life.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Leg Stretch

Between the continuing miserable weather and the evil cold virus I am fighting, it was a really quiet weekend around here.  I read two books (Life After Life and King's Dragon), spent an inordinate amount of time drinking tea and snuggling various animals, watched bad tv, and played old school Nintendo emulators.  Do we know how to party or what??

Oh yes we do
My awesome husband visited Fawkes to continue removing ice from his water trough, but that was the extent of horsey activities.  Also, Maya is about to die from sheer boredom. Border collies don't care if you are sick and it is frigid.

I went to the barn tonight to at least get on Fawkes and move him around, keep the old digestive system working.  It was not a pleasant start, everything is icy and there was a cutting wind.  BRRR.  But once we got to the indoor and moving it was good.  Fawkes wanted to spook and run but we weren't there for shenanigans or getting all hot and sweaty and he held it together.  We did some trots sets but mostly just walked.

I was proud of him for being obedient when he so clearly needs a run. Sorry kiddo, you are way too fuzzy to run around the indoor for 20 minutes.  Soon.

In an attempt to get more flexible and stronger in my core, I have found time to implement some yoga/pilates type activities into my evening.  While this eats into my doing nothing time and I greatly resent it, I have already felt a difference.  Not a huge one yet, but I can plank for longer and I can get into a real warrior pose.  So hopefully that helps the riding.

I basically look exactly like this.  HAHA, does that person have bones?
Oh look, my tea is empty, time to refill!

Thursday, November 13, 2014


It has been so damn cold here that I can barely bring myself to leave my layers of blankets, dogs, and cats.  It dropped 35 degrees in an hour on Monday and went downhill from there.
Jasper says, "wake me when it is spring."
This morning when I woke up, it was -3F.  Yesterday topped out at 7 and today might have made it to 15.  Screw that.  I have turned into some sort of crazy bag lady, wandering around the house wrapped in a blanket.  Jasper and Aragorn snuggle up with me and the husband while Maya runs around like a nut job, bored.  Griffin just watches the whole thing, wondering what odd place he has landed at.

Maya says, "this weather is awesome!"
All horse activity has come to a screeching halt.  Fawkes was supposed to get clipped yesterday but that would have been cruel.  He has spent the last few days wrapped up in blankets of his own, eating.  I didn't even want to turn him out in the indoor, get all hot, and then have to blowdry him before putting him back out.  It was too dark to get pictures when I saw him tonight, but he seems quite content. 

I, on the other hand, flirted with hypothermia breaking ice up in his water trough and fishing out the chunks.  It is a special kind of pain.

Jasper a few weeks ago, just because he is adorable.

Maybe, just maybe, it will get warm enough tomorrow that I can ride my horse.  That will be an adventure for sure.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Baby steps

After our train wreck ride, Fawkes has been excellent and we have been getting some really good work.  Good thing too because the weather forecast for the week is awful.  Cold front swings in tomorrow and then it doesn't look like it will get above freezing all week.  Fawkes will therefore not get clipped this week and will also likely not work because, eff that.

Cannot complain though, the last few rides have been great.  We clearly have a long way to go in relationship repair and de-confusing the horse, but things are starting to work some.  For example, when I ask him to move off my right leg and he gives me the middle finger, my trainer has me halt and do a turn on the forehand off the right leg.  The idea being he is going to respond to that leg or work harder, plus the turns on the forehand are just good for him.  It will take awhile to break established habits but I can already feel some difference.

Such hard work
Today we had a lesson and it was pretty basic, moving off the legs, getting straight, listening to cues.  Lots of transitions within the trot gait.  It is engaging his little orange brain, at one point he offered me a walk/canter transition which is not something he generally enjoys.  It is like he got so into listening to what I was asking for and trying to give the correct response...and willingly.  This is kind of new for the horse who generally does things somewhat begrudgingly.  He still is leaning on my right leg and R told me to just be patient about that, it won't go away over night.  We did trot poles and a cross rail.  Literally all we are working on is being straight and me riding well. I cannot get away with anything sloppy on Fawkes right now (maybe ever) so I need to up my game.   Time for all those lessons and hours to pay off.

I don't think we will have much exciting to discuss for some time but I am hopeful for the future.  His trot today was booming!  Hopefully I can get video soon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Rode Fawkes last night.  It was probably inevitable that it was going to be flat atrocious.  I haven't ridden in a week and my trainer called Monday to tell me just how amazingly awesome Fawkes had been for her while I was out of town.

So, it shouldn't be surprising that he spent the whole ride spooking and being an ass and I rode like crap, right?

Fat pony is fat! Not looking so bad here
On the plus side, as can be seen in the photo above and below, we are making some real progress getting him to step under himself with his right hind leg.

And then the resistance shows up.
I am trying to stay out of his face since we are all about self carriage and relaxation.  However, when we come off the rail to circle (someone was lunging at the other end of the ring) he immediately gets all stiff and resistant.  And strangely, while he is stepping under himself he is still trying to bulge against my right leg with his body.  However, all that is just stuff to work on.  It got really frustrating when the lunging horse had a wild moment and Fawkes just melted down.  Spooked halfway across the ring and then stood there staring

Scaredy cat
He never really came back to me.  Once lunging horse left and we tried to use the entire ring, and he just spooked and spooked at that end.  He never once ducked his shoulder and spun out so there is some improvement but he would come out of the safe corner onto the long side and immediately tense looking at the spooky corner.

There was a lot of this.  Tension much?
It sucks because I am supposed to stay out of his face but if I don't maintain a pretty good contact, he uses that opportunity to spin.  But if it the contact is too strong, it just adds to his tension.  I haven't figured out how to toe his very thin line so I default to the defensive ride and it annoys him.  We got a little bit of decent work to the left and then I got off.  I stripped his tack and he took off running and bucking like a crazy horse.  He has been in routine work so I imagine that was just him shaking off our crappy ride more than an actual need to run.

Happy to see him open up a little.  I think he looks positively fabulous here, we need more of these moments!
Anyways, this is why he is in training now so hopefully these kind of rides happen less frequently soon.  Trying hard to just focus on the positive for now.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!!

I am on the east coast dealing with cleaning out my father's house - he sadly had to move into a nursing home - so Fawkes is in the much more capable than mine hands of my trainer all week.  I haven't called for an update yet, but I am sure he is doing very well.  Next week should get us back into some sort of schedule with hopefully no further travel plans until Christmas.

Sadly, I have no horse in costume pictures available, so please enjoy this picture of Aragorn dressed up as a reindeer.

Oh yeah, he LOVED that!  Hope everyone has a great Halloween!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Couples Counseling

I am calling my lesson with Fawkes' couples counseling for the forseeable future.  Which makes me laugh and is also really true because we need to work on our relationship.  I have been blog silent because this week Fawkes has been having daily trainer rides and I didn't want to get in the middle of it, so I just stopped by for grooming and bonding.

Thursday night I went to the Broncos game and got this awesome sunset shot.
Of course we had to win when the sky was Broncos' colors.

It has been interesting as trainer R has been finding some basic holes in his training.  For example, she doesn't think he knows how to appropriately soften in the bridle or understand that outside rein controls his shoulder.  Maybe one day I will blog in detail some of the trials and tribulations of our early training days but in short, I had Fawkes in training with someone who was very sick but I didn't know that and I am not sure what she was able to do.  So it is possible that trainer wasn't actually even riding him or wasn't physically able to develop his training adequately.  The next trainer I rode with didn't even want to do training rides on him and I have never claimed to be a horse trainer, so blah blah blah: it isn't exactly surprising that he might have some gaps to close.

Also got some solar eclipse viewing in.  I am a very happy dork and love this kind of stuff

I got on him this morning for the first time since Monday and took a lesson in the basics of relationship building.  The idea is everything is correctly asked for and we only accept the right response.  This will solidify in his brain what he has to do and build our trust in each other.  Probably won't make for exciting times and it involves a lot of transitions and circles and trotting poles but I am confident it will pay off as his trot already feels bigger and more relaxed and he is getting more comfortable stretching down into the trot.

Trainer R gave me a nice riding compliment too, that I have been covering the gaps in his education well.  I guess that is a mixed compliment since I probably should have identified the issues, but let's not quibble.
Aragorn is a football fan too, he sleeps on the Broncos blanket often. I wish I could relax like a cat.

The best of all was after our lesson we went out on a trail ride with another OTTB. Fawkes was excellent in every way.  The first part of our trail goes through a neighborhood complete with barking dogs, and people working in their driveways, and election signs, etc.  He was interested and looky, but didn't do anything.  Then we got to the open space and he was perfect.  When we turned back towards home my friend's horse melted down and spent the next 15 minutes or so spooking and dancing and trying to bolt.  My friend handled it VERY well and Fawkes was absolutely amazing.  He used to be pretty reactive to what other horse's did around him but this time he took in stride and kept walking nicely.  I could feel some tension, but he didn't give in.  So proud of this.

Griffin got a bath and was adorable.  He is the perfect cat.  So glad we found him
Maybe this week I will get some actual horse photos before I travel again.  I have to go back east to deal with some family things next Wed through the weekend so I want to get some more Fawkes practice in before I go.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

It was about time for some good news!

Fawkes is under saddle again.  He has not a) thrown a shoe b) hurt himself or c) had a new allergic reaction to anything in like 72 hours.  It is amazing.  He still has edema on the right side of his neck but it isn't painful anymore.  So this weekend we gradually reintroduced him into the working world.  Friday night was just walking and a little trotting.  Saturday was more trotting.  And today we tried a little canter.

We have no new pictures so enjoy us sucking at dressage from May 2013.
The canter wasn't so great, at least the transitions were awful and there were several mini explosions.  I assume this comes from weeks of down time and am not sweating it.  We need work on our long and low.  I can get him to carry himself relatively relaxed but we haven't worked out really stretching down and out.

Canter work was like this
At the trot he feels pretty excellent.  Even the canter felt good for the half time around the ring between the 3-legged-camel transition and the I-want-to-run meltdown. My trainer and I will work out a plan for him going forward sometime this week and I will keep just working on relaxed, back stretchy trot in the meantime.

In more fun news, one of the other boarders was out of town and I was allowed to jump her most excellent horse this weekend.  He is a big Trakehner and a dead honest jumper.  He doesn't look at anything and is just what I need to get my own jumping mojo back.  It was a lot of fun to play around on him and remember that I really do know how to ride.  We were doing 2'6" oxers with lots of fill right off the bat and did courses and it was great.  We figured each other out quickly, which is not always the case for me, especially being so institutionalized to Fawkes and then getting on this big, floaty, warmblood.  But it was just lovely - he is easy to rate, easy to move up, and always hunting out the next fence.  Hope I can get some more rides on him while Fawkes goes to trainer school.

And then we can do this again soon
Fingers crossed for continued pony health!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fawkes' Weekly Health Update

Since we don't ride at the moment and I have been working 14 hour days in Texas, this is all I've got.

The chiro vet came and saw Fawkes on Tuesday and gave him a back adjustment and some acupuncture.  I don't even know what that cost yet, I shudder to think about it.  The good news is that the vet is confident that his back pain is a muscle issue and we don't need to do anymore meds.  He is also cleared to start riding.  Starting with long and low and using his comfort level to move him back up to normal work.  We will probably also throw some jumping in with the long and low work because it is good for his brain.

So that is excellent news, right?

Fawkes was longed on Wednesday by trainer R and was scheduled for a ride Thursday morning.  So of course he determined it was time to have an adverse reaction to his second antibiotic shot (given Monday by another one of his vets.  Yeah, my horse has a team of vets.  Be jealous) and his neck swelled up like crazy.

Sigh x 1 million.

Luckily, he was ok besides the swelling and trainer just gave him some banamine and longed him again.  Well played, horse.  The swelling is supposedly still there but not actively bothering him.

Oh, he is also back on solid foods like a big boy and happy to have hay again.

Maybe we shouldn't tell him, but I might actually get to ride my horse this weekend!!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Cannot catch a break

So it appears that Fawkes' attitude on Tuesday was not just his normal post-vaccination lethargy.  By Thursday he couldn't chew anything.  When I got to his pen, he turned his head away from me which is not normal.  Then, when I offered him a carrot, he took it in his mouth, threw his head around violently and spit it out.  I took him inside to take a closer look but he was not letting me near his face.

It was literally a dark and stormy night and I had had a crap day at work.  I was not in a great place to handle more drama so I called my trainer and asked if I should call out the vet or if I was overreacting.  She voted vet, so emergency vet call it was. PS I love trainers who answer their phone at night and offer to drive down to be with you and the vet.  I declined, but was very appreciative.

Friday afternoon swelling

I threw him in a stall while waiting for my equally awesome vet.  The vet did a quick exam and said the swelling around his left jaw was very concerning.  Based on Fawkes' sensitivity there and a slight fever, it was likely an abscess of some sort but he wanted to rule out a jaw fracture first.  So it was banamine and a shot of antibiotics overnight.  We also did soaked alfalfa pellets because the poor horse was super hungry.  He would try and pick up a mouthful of hay and then drop it over and over.  The soaked pellets at least helped some.

Friday afternoon we doped him up and took the x-rays.  Luckily, no fracture or obvious tooth issues.  The vet then tried to get back in his mouth but the swelling was so bad Fawkes couldn't open very far.  Vet was able to get in there enough to determine there was no broken tooth and there was definitely an abscess with some drainage.  Could have been he bit his cheek and it got infected or a foreign body.  Don't know yet, might not ever know.  Prescription is lots of soupy roughage for a few days and recheck on Monday.

Fawkes was clearly feeling much better by today and even let me touch that side of his face.  So maybe we can get an uncomplicated recovery because the last few weeks of have been a real bitch.

And of course, I am flying to Texas for work - leave tomorrow and don't get back until Friday.  Fawkes will have excellent care but I don't like being gone at this time.  With some luck, I will come back to a horse with 4 shoes, a pain free back, and a non-broken face.  OK, world? Can we make that happen?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Poor little red horse

Fawkes had his fall shots yesterday.  He had two whole injections and got wormed.  I went to see him last night and the conversation went something like this:

Fawkes: Sigh.  I am dying.

Me: Hi buddy, do you want an apple?

One of Fawkes' life skills includes perfect apple eating.  He takes nice bites, great size, never greedy or trying to swallow it whole.

Fawkes: Well.  I don't know.  But then again, I am dying, so I guess one last apple makes sense.

Commence a sad few minutes of Fawkes wrapping his lips around the apple, sighing, starting to sink his teeth in, pausing, and sighing again.

Me: Do you need some help?  Here, I will bite a piece off and give it to you.

Fawkes: Thanks, that looks delicious.  Let me take it, then hold it in my mouth for 30 seconds, and then sadly spit it on the ground.  Because, dying.

Me: Hmmm, that isn't normal.  Let's try some nice fresh grass instead.

Fawkes: OK, I like grass.  Let me take it, then hold it in my mouth for 30 seconds, and then sadly spit *that* on the ground.  Why bother when you aren't going to see tomorrow?

Me: OK, Eeyore, clearly you aren't feeling well from your shots.  Interestingly, you demolished your grain and most of your evening hay is already gone, but I am sure you will never be able to eat again.

Fawkes: So true, pity me?

Me: Night kiddo, feel better.

Every fall and every spring, it is the same story.  Poor little red horse doesn't feel well for several days after his shots.   I really need to ask the vet if a banamine experiment would be worthwhile.  I feel bad that there isn't anything I can do except scritch his withers.  On the plus side, he should be feeling better again by tomorrow.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Exciting Times

At the advice of the vet, Fawkes was scheduled for another test ride on Sunday.  Operation Horse Yoga (Long and Low) was set to begin.  So should I have been surprised when this happened on Saturday?

I turned him out for a bit and he ran and bucked and played and had a ball.  Then came happily trotting back up to me sans a shoe.  I never saw anything special happen, but got to spend a really fun 20 minutes finding the lost soul (sole! Ha, punny).  He looked very unbalanced down a shoe and pad, but unhurt otherwise.  Yay for small miracles.

So he earned a few more days off, not that it will hurt him in the long run.  The hoof held up pretty well, although the outer wall definitely suffered some damage.  

 The farrier came tonight and reshaped and attached the front shoe AND had to reset the right hind which he had also pulled loose.  He doesn't have enough front foot left to do this again, so we will avoid muddy turn outs and I guess invest in some bell boots?  This is first lost shoe in the near 3 years I have had him so I have to reach back into the memory banks to try and remember the shoe retention voodoo.

So, what does a girl do when her magnificent steed is down for the count?   Apparently the answer is drink with friends.

Beer pairing dinner with Stone Brewing

My new favorite beer
Great American Beer Festival, where I tasted every sour beer I could get my hands on

And, Cavalia Odysseo which I don't have any pictures of because they don't allow photography.  But it was pretty fun and it makes me want to run away with the horsey circus.  They need grooms, right?
Now that I am all caught up with friends and beer, I am hoping I can actually sit on my horse tomorrow.  He may not be cleared for real work, but it will be nice just to get up there again!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Boring update, but happy horse

Well the Previcox seems to be making Fawkes a very happy boy.  He had a test trainer ride over the weekend and word is that he felt great.

He was also rock star for the farrier yesterday.  I had told the farrier to not even bother to do hinds if he was awful because I didn't want a repeat of last time.  However, he just stood there and dozed the entire time.  Farrier was able to do a full set and front pads in record time.  Phew, I won't get fired as a client this month at least.

The radical behavior shift really makes it blindingly obvious we are dealing with some sort of pain issue.  Off drugs he couldn't hold his hind leg up long enough to get a shoe on; on pain medicine he basically sleeps through it.  Not that I doubted he was hurting, but that drives it home more.  Oh, and still no return of any stifle issue.

I am kind of perplexed on next best steps.  My trainer has mostly been dealing with the vet to date since it is not my normal vet and they go way back, but I think it might be time to insert myself in the process.  I am adamantly opposed (and so is my trainer) to keeping him on meds and riding him if it is just masking a bigger issue.  I want him to feel as good off the Previcox as he does on it, if that is possible.  Or if we need long term meds and a different work strategy, I would like to know what is causing that.  So I think it might be time to amp up the diagnostic efforts.  Good thing those are so cheap!

Mostly I am a little frustrated at the moment because I am in back to back work meetings all day and then have social obligations in the evenings this whole week so I probably won't get to move on anything or spend much time with Fawkes until the weekend. But my horse is currently happy and comfortable so I am trying to be patient.  A few more days won't change anything.  And maybe I can get the chiro visit in this week so we will have that evaluation complete.

Just keep plowing ahead, right?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Off Topic - Crested Butte, CO

Well, since Fawkes is relaxing with his Previcox right now, J and I loaded the dogs in the car and took a road trip to Crested Butte for the weekend. This was the sunset as we were going to our hotel for the night.

Mt Crested Butte 
It is about a 4 hour drive from our house with no traffic.  However, the words "no traffic" don't really apply to metro Denver and we stop to let the dogs out, eat, etc, so it took us about 5 hours to get there. Jasper is awesome to ride with, he picks a cozy spot in the car, nests the everloving hell out of it, and lays down.  He is all "wake me when we get there."  Maya, special little snowflake, is a bit more of a challenge.  She spent most of the drive as she does all car rides.  That is, bashing her head against the window as she tries to attack/herd cars going in the opposite direction.  Or even stopped cars that we pass because even genius border collie mutts don't understand relative motion.

They are good at balance beam tricks though
There is nothing quite like hearing your dog's face THUNK against the window over and over for hours.  If you put said window down, even a little, she runs to the other side of the car and curls in a protective ball for about 5 minutes before resuming her game. Or herding cars on that side.

But in spite of that, we had a relatively easy drive.  Crested Butte is like many other CO mountain towns - beautiful and outrageously expensive to live in.  For example, just for fun we looked up the price of an 1800 sq ft log cabin (adorable, btw) on 0.1 acres in the town.  Asking price?  1.1 million.  Yowza.  And the only jobs are industry - hotel, skiing, restaurants so I guess only fabulously wealthy people can really afford to buy houses here.  For tourists though, it isn't terrible.  And fall is considered the off season even though this is prime leaf viewing season.  This is my first time here and after 5 years of living in CO and quite a bit of world travel, this place is still pretty spectacularly impressive.

These aspen aren't even close to peaking yet.
Today we took the dogs out and ended up doing about 9 miles total.  First, a quick 1.5 mile jaunt to a lake that I promptly fell in because I am an idiot and do stupid things like trying to balance beam on a slippery, unstable log.  There are no photos of that - J believes that photographing my failures is not in the best interest of our marriage (he is wrong about that, I adore mocking myself) - but I was wet up to mid thigh.  Yay for low humidity and quick drying gear.

Then we went over to a place called Horse Park Ranch and hiked amongst the changing aspen.  Lord of the Rings geek that I am, I kept imaging I was wandering the woods of Lothlorien.
Maya and I climb a fallen tree for no other reason that because it is there

Maya likes to help plan hikes.  Probably why we get lost.

Jasper has other priorities

I even have an elven name chosen, Nimloth.  Which way to Middle Earth?

So bright
We had planned to do a 6 mile loop but got pretty lost at the inadequately labeled trail junctions.  When in doubt, wander until you get tired and then head back the other direction.  Especially when the last trail junction has nothing but a shattered wooden sign on the ground.  We think we ended up doing 7-8 miles on this portion, took about 4 hours.  And just beautiful scenery.  The dogs had a blast running around.  Jasper is "fully" recovered from his TPLO surgery in April but when he runs and runs and runs for hours he pays the price later so we try to keep him on leash for part of the hike.  He doesn't appreciate that and screams bloody murder.  Passing hikers said they thought they were hearing some Amazonian monkey being eaten by a jaguar.  Accurate description of the sound he makes.  Fine dog, run your damn leg off.

This place will be even more beautiful in another week, but we can't really complain.  Dogs are tired: Jasper is upside down and unconscious and Maya is looking at me with the sad face that says "what is this "tired" sensation and why am I feeling it"?  Hopefully can get another short hike in tomorrow before heading back to reality and a horse that (pleasepleaseplease) is on the mend.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!!