Easy Patient

I never thought I would see the day that Eli would actually perk up his ears at his vet, but yesterday was that day! Initially, I had made the appointment simply as a recheck of the RH suspensory branch. Fast forward to Eli’s next set of shoes, and suddenly I had a few other things I needed the vet to examine. Throw in some tenderness on the inside of the left hind fetlock, as well as long-overdue stifle injections, and you get an appointment with lots of poking, prodding, hoof testing, and imaging. Through all of it, Eli was a model patient, standing quietly for x-rays, being polite about flexion tests and hoof testers, and tolerating the ultrasound without so much as a twitch. Just as I was thinking, “oh wow, do I finally have a normal horse?” my trainer said out loud with surprise, “he’s being really good.” Not normal for Eli, but perhaps a new normal for him? Maybe he finally understands all this vet stuff is for his benefit? However, both the vet and I spoke up just as a tech was about to start scrubbing his stifles for his injections — wait, wait, wait, we need to sedate him first. Trust.

sleeeeeeeeepy and also kind of dirty, with bitey-face battle wounds

Once he was hilariously sleepy, the scrubbing commenced, and the only protest Eli could manage was twitching his lips in consternation that he couldn’t act out a little more irritably. I don’t think he could even manage grinding his teeth at that point.

Attitude may or may not be influenced by number of German horse muffins consumed.

So getting on with the results … First, how about some more good news? Eli flexed sound on his RH. The still-healing area of the suspensory in question “looks awesome,” in quotes, because that is exactly what the vet said. Like it’s pretty well healed. As far as that goes, Eli is cleared for regular reconditioning work. The PRP and shockwave seem to have been well worth it.

Now for the trickier stuff. After some jogging and hoof testing and blocking, Eli has some heel soreness in both front feet, the right being worse (which is always the case with this horse!). He seemed very foot sore after this last set of shoes, but after packing his feet a few days, he got over it. He still takes a wonky step on the RF every so often, usually on hard ground (and we have some super hard, may-as-well-be-cement ground around here right now and could really use a little more rain). He is sound in the arena footing. If he continues to improve, he can work, although no jumping until his next set of shoes, which will include pads. Not sure we would have got back to jumping before then anyway, in consideration of the RH. The vet and farrier conferred, and the farrier now has x-rays to work from, too. Although this farrier is still pretty new to Eli, he and Eli’s vet have worked together for years on horses, so I feel like I know what to expect. If shoeing alone doesn’t suffice, there are other treatment options, too. Thoroughbred feet, man. Ugh.

Stands weird at all times but somehow it’s super cute when he’s trying to wake up

And last, the localized, LH tenderness disappeared after a day so by the time of Eli’s appointment, it wasn’t even necessary to address. The stifle injections should take care of any other weakness I may have felt in his hind end — since we were only trotting I couldn’t even be too sure of that. He can go back to work on Sunday, so I guess I’ll find out then! Maybe he’ll feel a little too good and offer some expressiveness upon finally cantering under saddle after more than five months of not cantering under saddle. Eli is still good to go for regular turnout, so hopefully the bottled-up energy won’t be too bad.

Recheck Eve

True to his indomitable form, Eli has prepared for his impending suspensory recheck by adding a few other mysteries for his vet to investigate.

He had been feeling quite good under saddle. His trotting was coming along (from strung out to half way acceptable) and I even took the executive step of adding in some shallow turns to our straight lines of trotting just last week.

 

Still, we do walk a lot. Eli has of course enjoyed his turnout time. Perhaps he enjoyed it a little too much on Sunday? On Monday, he seemed tender at his left hind fetlock and foot sore in front, especially on the right. He also pretty much needs some of his maintenance, like, yesterday.

Today, thankfully, he felt much better. My trainer said she could get the farrier to take a look at his right front today and I’ll also have the vet examine it tomorrow. As for everything else … honestly I think the RH we are rechecking is okay. The left hind did not seem to bother him today. He is, still, staying affectionate without the reserpine, which is blowing my mind but I’ll take it. I see no reason to restrict his turnout yet, either. Yesterday my mind was racing, but today I am a little calmer about the whole thing. Because oh yeah, Eli is a 16yo ottb. He is not ding-free. If he needs help to stay in work, he gets it. If it gets to where any help can’t help enough, he gets to retire comfortably. He is clearly happy right now, so I can’t justify fretting over things I don’t know yet. He also does stuff like this basically every month, so I should be used to it by now!

In more enjoyable news, Conrad had a photoshoot over the weekend and the photographer posted a sneak peek! I get to see a lot more in a few weeks so hopefully I will will have more to post about the experience then, too. Short version: I highly recommend Green Paws Photography!

One Less Medication

Now that Eli gets to play outside regularly and is trotting many, many straight lines, he is off the reserpine. So far, so good. He does have a little more energy under saddle, which is fine with me. He also seems to be staying cuddlier than usual, although who knows how long that will last. At the very least, the reserpine is one less expense on the vet bills.

sees German muffins and doesn’t understand why they are not in his mouth

I am giving him a break from working under saddle for today and tomorrow, mainly due to the extreme heat. Also partly due to the fact that Tuesday and Wednesday are pretty busy lesson nights and trotting straight lines through lesson traffic is actually pretty effing difficult. I wouldn’t mind doing them in the fields, but the ground is basically cement right now so that’s out as an option. I don’t even like walking out in the fields right now because of the ground.

don’t worry, he still dings himself on a daily basis as evidenced by Corona slathered on a minor heel/coronet band grab
I don’t even know how he did this

But Eli’s not totally off the hook — his mane is a mess so I’ll be cleaning that up and taking off some of the length. I might work with him on the clippers-by-the-ears stuff a little bit, too. He’s not afraid of the clippers at all, he just doesn’t like the sensation of his ears getting trimmed. I should probably work with him on it more often but it’s not something that’s any kind of priority.

pretty day but hot AF

I mostly stayed away from all the Labor Day sales (because, again, vet bills) but I did need some more hoof packing. Riding Warehouse had the best price on a 4lb tub of Magic Cushion and the 15% off of stuff already on sale means I have another Asmar logo tee headed my way, too.

Eli’s next vet appointment is on next Tuesday … I have managed to line up three 4-day weeks in a row. Why is this not like every work week?

Visual Aid

Eli is up to 10-15 minutes of riding straight lines at the trot. The bulk of that time is actually walking. Next week we’ll shoot for 20-25 minutes of this kind of exercise.

And right around now, I realized I did not have recent film of Eli’s trot under saddle and I thought that might be a helpful thing to have.

I am pleased with his progress. What else can I say?

I think Eli misses the work and starts to get frustrated that we keep walking after only a few steps of trot. So our downward transitions are messy, while our upward transitions are exuberant.

He’s also super sweet right now. I wonder if this will last?

 

And a little side note: I don’t watch that much TV. Except recently. The Dark Crystal prequel drops on 8/30 and I know I’m going to binge that. Only because I have read the book, I’ve managed to fit in a few episodes of Good Omens. Carnival Row’s aesthetic looks like I’d love it although it may be a little too blatantly allegorical for me to enjoy. I’ll probably watch it anyway. I also finally watched the first season of Dark and will start the second soon. If you are into German existential doom, you will love Dark. It is so, so good and I wish I had started it sooner. German existential doom is the very best kind of doom. The English overdubs are awful, though, so I recommend watching it in German with English subtitles.

12 Tough Questions Hop

Blog hop? Yes. Taken from Olivia, who took it from Amanda, who took it from Alaina.

Q1: What hobbies do you have outside of riding?
I like reading late-18th and 19th century British and European literature, especially the Gothic stuff. Pass all of the “horrid” novels this way. Trivia, which has always been enjoyable but I finally have an outlet for all my useless random knowledge about stuff: an online league. It’s improved my quality of life greatly. And … would Epicureanism count as a hobby? Can I live on aged cheese, stuffed olives, and wine?

Q2: What is your boarding situation? Are you happy with it?
I keep Eli at a full care hunter/jumper & dressage facility. I love it.

Q3: What’s on your horsey-related wish list?
I would like another set of my Professional’s Choice ice boots so I can ice all four of Eli’s legs at once.

Although I can just borrow extra, I guess …

Q4: What is your most expensive horsey-related item?
Probably the horse. The saddle is second, and well below Eli’s purchase price.

It does add up

Q5: What was the hardest horsey-related decision you’ve had to make lately?
I feel as though I have been making tiny but difficult decisions daily with Eli, as we are in the middle of rehabbing an injury. These have been decisions related to the amount of turnout, amount of exercise, treatment decisions, dietary decisions … and then I check my brain, follow the vet’s advice, and focus on the bigger picture.

Q6: What’s something you feel you can’t live without in your routine?
Coffee.

Q7: What’s on your horsey-related calendar for the rest of the summer?
More trotting in straight lines.

Q8: What is one thing you would willingly change about your horse?
The answer to this is either “nothing” or “I wish I got my hands on him when he was young to see what he’d be like without having raced, what he’d be like if I pulled that tooth early in his life to have prevented that god-awful sinus situation, what he’d be like if I got to ride him as a 3-year-old and introduced lead changes without the track training and overuse of a crop.” (There is video evidence of Eli experiencing overuse of a crop in a race; I am not just assuming it blindly.)

what would life without a face dent be like?

Q9: What is something you most want to improve on with you and your horse?
LEAD CHANGES. Jeez.

Q10: What has been your [current] horse’s most severe injury?
Answering this feels like asking for bad luck and bad vibes. He is healing from an injury right now.

Q11: What do you feel your biggest downfall is as a rider?
Lately, my mental discipline is non-existent. This hasn’t always been the case, so perhaps I can foster some as Eli’s workload increases. Or not. Do I need mental discipline? I enjoy just hacking my horse for fun and fun alone. So maybe my downfall is that I am not at all competitive even though I once was and probably could be again. Is it selfish of me not to try harder? Am I wasting opportunities if I don’t have goals? I do not know the answer to these questions.

okay, cute show pictures do motivate me to a certain degree …

Q12: What feeds your motivation?
First: a desire to overcome an anxiety disorder one day at a time. Luckily, I have very little anxiety about riding itself. I feel healthiest when I am on a horse. Tied for first: enjoying time with my animals as much as possible and developing strong, positive, harmonious relationships with them.

Think Cold Thoughts

I would just like to point out that we have nothing to actually graze on here in Texas right now …

everything is burnt

The heat has done me the favor of making Eli fairly easy to ride, at least. No real work since April? No problem. It’s too hot for shenanigans. Hopefully we will be allowed to canter before it gets very cold. But for now, we are trotting in straight lines. Miraculously, Eli is just as easy to ride as where we left off. I can’t ask him for anything yet, but he just kind of shows up with a trot that is very easy to balance and work with. I don’t think he gets the whole straight-lines-only thing, but he doesn’t seem to mind it much. He gets to go outside with his friends now, so he is generally very pleasant to be around.

another perspective of burnt ground

Maybe in a few weeks, there will be grass again? The sun won’t be so oppressive? I do like to let Eli graze after we work, but right now that’s a bad idea. So we stay in the barn, in front of fans, with ice boots on his hind legs.

Cleared for …

Eli’s vet visited on Tuesday to recheck Eli’s suspensory ligament. After Eli’s little round pen half-wipeout on Saturday, I also figured the vet could check Eli’s right front, left hind, and suspicious swelling on the right hind that was higher up than the suspensory branch.

extra surprises for the vet

The right front and left hind really posed no concerns, and Eli jogged sound. The right hind swelling that was higher up — I pointed it out to the vet and said this looks like a bandage bow (which it would not be because I have not been wrapping him) and he said he saw what I meant. Luckily, it felt normal. Even better, Eli was sound upon flexion of the right hind! The ultrasound also looked good. The vet said the tissue needed some more organizing, and an increase in exercise would be a good idea.

YAY WE CAN TROT!

we still have to walk a lot, though

But not a lot, not right away. It’s hot AF and my horse and I are both out of shape, so I assured the vet we wouldn’t be doing too much anyway. Straight lines only for now — so we did a whopping four straight lines at the trot yesterday. I tried to walk about 10 minutes before picking up the trot, with lots of walking in between trotting and a little more walking at the end of the ride. Eli threw in a little celebratory hop at the end of our first straight line at the trot, which was completely adorable. The energy drained pretty quickly, as it was around noon and already in the high 90s. Not the most ideal time to ride, but that was when I could ride yesterday.

I guess the water is weird? Same water as inside the barn, bro.

Eli is also allowed back into regular turnout, which made him noticeably happier pretty much immediately. The turnouts now have shelter and water, so horses are staying out longer. I am sure Eli has dreamt of this day, as he longingly stared down the barn aisle, watching almost every other horse walk by him to the turnouts. I felt phenomenally bad for him while he couldn’t be outside as much as he would like to. I was to the point that, even if it meant extending the length of time before Eli could return to full work, I wanted him in regular turnout again.

water tastes better with a friend?

Eli’s next recheck will be in September. Maybe we’ll get to add more exercise, maybe not. But some trotting is better than no trotting!

Balancing Soundness and Turnout

In a perfect world, a sound horse is outside in a paddock or pasture for hours at a stretch; 24/7, even, for some horses.

Eli, however, definitely likes the luxury of a stall with a fan, where he can eat without competition and nap undisturbed in between lunch and dinner. And not be “outside” in the dark.

But Eli also likes turnout. On a regular turnout schedule, it’s super obvious when he’s ready to come in: he doesn’t walk away from you as you approach with halter in hand.

But he is on a modified schedule, mostly stall rest, with hand walking, walking under saddle, and some turn out if he stays quiet.

IF he stays quiet. That’s a big “if”. Even when he stands “quietly” in the round pen after a good roll, he goes from idle to bronc in .02 seconds.

On Saturday, he did this … from a standstill, he suddenly tried to buck and spin at the same time. Which he is not very good at. Which resulted in him halfway wiping out upon landing, and scrambling to stay on all four feet. I was torn between face-palming and eye-rolling. Eli quietly enjoyed the rest of his outside time. We went for a 30 minute walk under saddle after that, as the only visible damage he did was a small scrape on the front of his right hind fetlock.

I cleaned him up and slathered Corona on his scrape, and rubbed some liniment on his front legs just in case. When I pulled him out of his stall the next evening, he had some localized swelling around the scrape, which I expected. He also had some localized swelling at the back of the fetlock on his right front. Good times. I decided a leisurely graze was the way to go.

Poofy fetlock

After icing 3 of his 4 legs, I put some poultice on the swollen areas.

he plays with his tongue a lot after he gets cookies and he gets a lot of cookies

Maybe there will be less swelling this evening? His vet will be out on Tuesday to recheck his suspensory so if the swelling is still hanging on I guess we can just flex and maybe ultrasound those legs, too.

Trying Not to Melt

By late last week, I had given up on riding after work, considering how hot it stayed into the evening and beyond sunset. Eli got to graze a lot and spent time in the round pen, which catches some shade in the late afternoons. I may not be riding much, but I am still spending about the same amount of time at the barn, getting Eli out of his stall for a couple hours. Except on Friday — I went and did a little shopping and a lot of eating.

it might have *said* cinnamon sugar dipped marshmallow cream around the rim but it could have also been Crisco, not entirely sure

As good as truffle garlic bread with ricotta is, a criminally large milkshake did not sit well on top of it at 11pm while I was trying to fall asleep.

On Saturday, Eli and I did go for a walk regardless of the heat and humidity. We were very, very slow. Getting a marching walk out of Eli is usually easy, but not so this August, I guess. Perhaps he thinks he is permanently retired?

On Sunday, we actually caught a break in the weather here, and it even rained a little bit. Although by the time I was able to go ride Eli, that break was over and the ride soon turned into just grazing and rinsing him off.

2 fans are better than one

I have also continued with the physical therapy, and my back is muuuuuuuch better. My hope is that my last appointment will be this week.

I cleaned out my closet and drawers over the weekend, too. Not that it looks like it. But there is definitely less of everything. I *do* have to keep stuff that does *not* bring me joy because if I wore what brings me joy to the desk job I would be violating the dress code. Hanging on to so many sweaters always feels weird in August, until I get to work and start freezing at my desk, which feels about like a meat locker.

we do this a lot

And then I get off work, walk outside, and it’s too hot to breathe.

on high alert at sunset

At least by the time I get to the barn, the sun is lower in the sky. I don’t really want to wait until 9 o’clock at night to ride, but that is not off the table right now!

Casual Friday Ramble

Walking with purpose is actually a pretty good workout. That’s not what Eli & I did yesterday, and probably won’t be today, either.

 

It’s more like we wandered aimlessly, but in an arena. I had been hand walking him the last few days, waiting for him to get a new set of shoes. The shoes weren’t sprung, but they were a bit loose and his toes were ridiculously long, so riding didn’t seem appropriate considering we are in recovery mode.

I do use boots on Eli, even though we are only walking. They are basically extra insurance in case anything dramatic happens and I fall off and he takes off. Not that they would help much, but he likes to bang his legs up so a little extra protection makes me feel better. And of course he wears boots or wraps in regular work because he is crooked and interferes. And he lives in his bell boots.

I have a few new shirts, and one I wore last night. It is an It’s a Haggerty’s, a brand I had not yet tried. Based on other reviews, I sized up, and I love it. The material is very comfortable. The sleeves are long enough. The shirt is long enough. And It’s a Haggerty’s sun shirts don’t just stop at solids and color blocking. The sleeves of this shirt are like a blue rose & leopard/cheetah print. I am kind of obsessed. Even better, the shirt pairs amazingly well with the Kate Botoris. I could sleep in this outfit, it’s so comfortable!

Eli also has a “new” bit, and I can’t remember if I mentioned it before? I got it shortly before he got injured, so it has mostly seen a lot of walking. But Eli does seem very, very comfortable in it. It’s a custom Myler that I picked up used. If I were to order him a new custom Myler, it would basically be this one. Except way more expensive. Yay for the resale market!

 

It’s a 5″ dee, double-jointed with a copper roller and a contoured sweet iron mouthpiece with copper inlays. It may be a tad on the thin side, but I am a firm believer in fitting a horse’s mouth based on the horse’s actual mouth. It means the finer-boned, smaller-mouthed TBs with narrow palettes might find fat bits – that people think of as soft – as totally annoying and uncomfortable. So don’t let preconceived notions about bitting fool you into thinking certain bits are “soft” while others are “harsh.” Try different bits, and whichever one your horse takes up well and doesn’t fuss in, is the right bit. I had a fat KK Ultra loose ring that Eli HATED. You’d of thought it was bike chain for how he acted. A thinner mouthpiece made all the difference. The double-jointed bits seem to work well for sensitive horses that have narrow palettes or might be offended by the nutcracker action of a single-jointed bit. Add in a contoured mouthpiece that rests in a neutral position on the horse’s mouth bars and you’re set. Bitting is easy!! Haha just kidding. I spend a ton of brain power just thinking about bits and how they might or might not work on a particular horse. It’s one of my favorite training topics.

I am so glad it’s Friday! Work has not slowed down AT ALL and I am hanging on by a thread here. I can’t wait to get out to the barn tonight and play with Eli and then enjoy a glass of champagne while sitting with Conrad in a comfortable chair.