Home Safe

The past 4 days have been trying. To say it has been an emotional rollercoaster might be an understatement. I cried at the clinic on Monday. From there I was in a bit of a numb haze waiting on further testing. By the time I went to get Annie from the clinic I was just happy she was coming home.

For those of you wondering how Annie is seriously already facing injections etc… Don’t think I haven’t blamed myself. What if I pushed her too hard too fast? Could this have been prevented? Is it my fault? But the thing is that ever since I tried to introduce the concept of not going around like a giraffe this has been a problem. It isn’t a problem that just developed now after a little over a year of being in more consistent work. Before we ruled out kissing spine surgery with the scintigraphy my vet lamented that he sees issues in the back and neck in OTTB’s frequently given when they are started.

There is no way to know if this was something she was born with that would have been an issue regardless but it is likely something that was agitated by having a rider on her back at a young age before I got her like most horses off the track. Anything you might be thinking – I am already beating myself up for so go ahead.

I know that there are probably a lot of people that don’t understand my obsession with this horse. She was $1,200… Surely it would be easier to “cut my loses” and start over. For me that isn’t an option. She is a really special horse. Sometimes I want to strangle her or myself but I seriously have never had more fun on a horse. She is usually game for any of my crazy requests. She is one of the sweetest creatures I have ever handled on the ground (even after getting oral Banamine for a week – sry Nanners!). I may end up seriously beside myself with frustration at times but only because I know what she could be capable of and I wish I could be a better rider for her.img_0017

On paper people see a dragon mare that is an aggressive cribber, has questionable feet, and can be a sass master under saddle… If I did that same analysis of myself I am not sure anyone would fight for me either. Annie and I are more similar than I realize. We both get incredibly frustrated when things don’t go as we anticipate. We can both have short fuses. She is admittedly the talented athlete of the two of us though. I have spent the better part of this past week trying to come up with a plan for her should this course of treatment not work. I didn’t relish the idea of having to retire a 5 year old for various reasons…

Then on our way home from the clinic last night Annie started acting colicky. At first I thought she was just agitated about the trailer ride in the heat… But then she started violently throwing herself against the butt/breast bars and divider. From there she started kicking at her belly and pawing.  She acted multiple times like she was going to go down in the trailer.

To say that I panicked is an understatement.  I called the vet who said to continue to the farm as that was closer and another hour in the trailer wasn’t going to improve the situation. I practically held my breath the rest of the way home. When I got to the farm and took her off the trailer she was breathing heavily and drenched in sweat. I gave her an injection of banamine – spent the next 5 minutes praying there wasn’t air in the syringe (that I checked about 5 times), hosed her off to help her cool down, and then we hand walked. Within 20 minutes she was looking much better and I could finally breathe. I ended up staying at the farm for a couple of hours to make sure she was alright and then my awesome BO’s checked her in the middle of the night.

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love this mare with all I’ve got

 

We got lucky. It was all rather dramatic but ended up totally fine. That isn’t always the case though. As horse owners we have to be prepared to make those hard decisions quickly. I am grateful that I didn’t have to. There isn’t a lot of rhyme or reason to this post except to say hug your horses. There have been all sorts of sadness in blog land lately with our equine friends. Hug them while you can. Hopefully I can remember how devastated I felt thinking about a life without Annie the next time we are struggling with a concept or I am upset by a vet bill.

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Bone Scan

First off – thank you to all of you that commented or messaged me yesterday. I really really appreciated it.

Late yesterday afternoon my vet gave me a call to discuss the findings of Annie’s bone scan. On the bright side it doesn’t look like we will be scheduling surgery. In fact the bone scan didn’t even highlight the areas that showed kissing spine. There were some other areas of concern though.

Annie tested positive (or lit up during the scan) in 3 areas. The two areas of primary concern were her neck (C5-7) and then her left hock – probably an associated reaction. Her left front also lit up a bit but the vet was not especially concerned by that. Armed with this knowledge we discussed a game plan for the red dragon.

Given that Annie’s back did not light up during the scan my vet wants to focus first on her neck and hocks. We will be injecting her both sides of her neck and her hocks (Steroid & HA). In addition she will be given a dose of Osphos. I am a little be hesitant about the Osphos injection but I trust my vet and want to give Annie the best chance at being comfortable. On top of all of that we will further set my wallet on fire with a loading dose and maintenance support with Adequan.  

The spending of literally all of my money should be complete by the afternoon at which time I can pick up my trailer and drive the dragon home. She will be on stall rest for 3 days and not back under saddle for 10 days. At that point it will be only light work to keep her sane and to slowly get her back into the swing of things for about a month. Hopefully as we bring her back into work she will be comfortable and sound. If she isn’t it is back to the drawing board.

At this point I am still going to be doing research on kissing spine and will probably consult a few different DVM’s that have treated kissing spines extensively to get their read on her scans/rads. I want to be prepared if we have to go forward with other treatments if we have to. Arming myself with all of the information I can find seems like a good place to start!

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Diagnosis: Kissing Spine

I am not really sure where to start with this post. It isn’t a secret that recently I have been having issues with Annie undersaddle. I have ridden with various trainers and I have consulted with multiple vets… We decided to move forward with thinking that it was a training and strength issue. I am not writing that off as at least a part of the issue but I couldn’t dismiss the nagging feeling that that wasn’t exclusively the problem. I kept it in the back of my head that maybe something was bothering her physically.

Watching her go though she really looked sound. She never showed any local signs of lasting back soreness. I had chiropractic work done on her – at the clinic with a lameness eval. We had her teeth checked. She has gotten regular massages. All of these things seemed to keep her happy as long as I never broached even the idea of collection. When she started getting a bit sour over fences though I got more concerned. If this horse truly loves anything it is jumping.

I reached my breaking point this past week. A horse that is as sweet as Annie can be just doesn’t keep waffling between great and horrible. Or that is what I kept internally debating. Last week when the vet was out to check Annie’s cough I mentioned my lingering concerns. We agreed that it would be good to do a full eval at the clinic and so yesterday I brought her in for back x-rays.

We started with watching her go on the lunge line, then did flexions/ palpations. Naturally you bring a horse in for one thing and they will now all the sudden look off from something else. A couple testers and needle pricks later and we determined that she needs some changes in her shoeing and moved on to x-rays of her feet, back, and neck. Literally x-raying alllll of the things.

Most of us aren’t a stranger to the phrase “kissing spine”. I think that even if you haven’t been personally affected we all might know someone that has had a horse with it – plenty of bloggers even. As we worked our way down Annie’s back through the images there were two specific spots of concern. You can see the reduced space between the vertebrae below where circled. The question is where do we go from here. The first step is a bone scan. I actually ended up leaving Annie at the clinic yesterday. Hopefully the scan will be performed today or tomorrow. From there we will have a better idea of if she is a candidate for surgery or what other treatments we can look into. First and foremost I want to make sure that Annie is not in pain anymore. We want to treat the cause of her pain not just the pain itself.I cried yesterday. Today I am determined to find out everything I can about kissing spine and the various surgical and medical options. I feel really horrible that we didn’t discover this sooner and I am determined to find a solution. How many of you have personal experience with kissing spine? Has anyone recently had surgery done with success? Apparently there is a new procedure that is minimally invasive that has a lot of success…

 

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Thoughts On The Words Of Katie Prudent

If you have been on the internet the past couple days you probably heard or read a recent interview with Katie Prudent. People got their panties in a BIG wad about the things that were discussed. I am not saying that I disagree with the way she said things but she makes some good points. I think this is a conversation that needs to be had or at least considered.

Amateurs Like Us…

It seems like the only sentence that people read of this whole article is where Prudent said “The sport has become for the fearful, talentless amateur. That’s what the sport has been dummied down to.”

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Here’s the thing people – she isn’t lying! The culture just isn’t the same. More so in certain disciplines in others maybe but young riders simply aren’t being developed into great horsemen/women. Talent isn’t being cultivated the way it used to be. Heck pretty much every other day you see someone post about the fact that kids just don’t want to do the work that barn rats used to. They don’t want to put in the time or effort to learn all the things.

As an adult amateur I am fearful and I definitely don’t have the talent for the upper levels of really any discipline…maybe ever? I am not entirely talentless or totally consumed by fear but most of us are not the population that she was referring to. The majority of us have a full time job that we have to go to to pay the bills. Sometimes life gets in the way of the things that we would like to do. We don’t have a string of horses that (help)pack us around at upper levels.

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Please note that I am not saying that that is what happens for all that ride at top levels. It seems like the point she was trying to make is that a lot of people riding in the upper levels might not have ever had to ride an unmade horse. Have they really struggled or worked as hard as you used to have to get where they are?

Trainers These Days…

I think that there could have been a little more response in regards to what she said about the current day professionals of this industry. Everyone wants to talk about how the barn rats don’t exist or how amateurs just want to waltz into a barn with a tacked horse waiting for them. Well, for those people the trainers are facilitating that behavior in some ways. Thankfully this isn’t a very prevalent attitude in eventer land… But I won’t even try to name all of the HJ trainers that I know of or have personally worked with that won’t even let you do self care. It is super laughable to actually be charged for doing self care but thats for another day.

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Those trainers are the ones that are helping to cement this new culture. Can you blame them? They follow the money… I am by no means shaming the professionals – where would all of us be without them? They too have to make a living… That said, I respect a trainer that pushes me and expects more from me under saddle and in the barn most. Much more, in fact, than the pro that sees us (amateurs) as a meal ticket and is just looking for different ways to leach more money from the general amateur population. Unfortunately it can be hard to find those truly good trainers.

Like others have said we, the amateurs, are the foundation of the sport in so many ways. It is fine if some people want that luxury barn experience. However, I don’t think that that should be the assumed way to operate business. I guess at the end of the day I don’t fully understand why people are so vehemently offended by Katie Prudents words. The truth sometimes hurts but these difficult conversations need to be had.

 

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Wolf Teeth And Bronchodilators

For a couple weeks Annie has let out a few coughs at the beginning of our rides. Nothing terrible but enough that I made a mental note to keep track. Naturally my last ride she didn’t cough at all. Since the vet was going to be out anyways we discussed and decided he would take a look at her.

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First though, he was out at the mare pasture and I went ahead and asked when one should get their baby horses teeth looked at. DR. M suggested that you would obviously want to do it before they start working with a bit in their mouth and that he usually likes to pull any wolf teeth around 1.5-2yrs old. It was Luna’s lucky day as she is just about 1.5yrs old. After a special cocktail she got her first introduction to dental work.

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She didn’t love it. I am not convinced that she won’t remember it (despite her drunkness) and will be watching my back. Hopefully this doesn’t impact her recent found sweetness. #bewarethemare

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For Annie we initially assumed the cough was weather/ allergy related. Some nose pinching and stethoscope using later we determined that she probably has a slight infection. Sadly this means she will need a week off with 6 days of treatment. I am grateful that the coughing doesn’t appear to be anything too serious.

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At this point I figured I would ask the vet once more if there was anything else more exst(p)ensive we should do to rule out pain as a cause for her behavior under saddle. My wallet was already on fire right? We have talked until we are both blue in the face re the issues I have experienced and both feel like at this point its time to go to the clinic and throw the book at her one last time before pushing through. Part of me hopes we find something (that we can fix) so that there is some rhyme or reason to her behavior. I will have an update Monday afternoon.

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Until then I will be giving her all of the meds and clutching my wallet nice and tight… Or doing retail therapy. Can’t decide!

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Genetic/Genomic Testing and OCD

KWPN-NAAs I have gotten more interested in sport horse breeding I have started to read up on all sorts of related topics from learning about different registries to spiraling into a black hole tracking a horses bloodlines. Luna is registered KWPN/ Dutch WB. As such I have started trying to understand the different predicates available to KWPN mares.

It is different for all of the studbooks but for KWPN there are different predicates/status for mares. The predicates that a mare is eligible for are outlined on the registry’s website but for a quick rundown:

  • Ster – A horse with above average conformation/movement/ jumping
  • Keur – A mare that is above Ster with quality and has completed an IBOP performance test or sport requirements
  • PROK and/or D-OC – A horse that has passed extensive radiographs or DNA testing
  • IBOP/ Sport – A horse that has passed a riding test or sport performance
  • Elite – A Keur mare that has also passed PROK or D-OC requirments

Generally a horse would be inspected as a 3yo to go from the foalbook (vb) to the studbook (stb). At this time they would also be inspected for Ster or Keur eligibility. At the end of the day whether Luna does well or not or is even presented at keurings does not mean she is or isn’t a quality horse. Primarily I am just excited for our future together in the Jumpers.

dsc_0186-edit.jpgYesterday I found out that Luna passed the D-OC DNA test from KWPN and now has the D-OC predicate. This is essentially a test to determine the heritability or likely hood of a horse to pass OC to its offspring. Here is an excerpt from the KWPN website regarding the D-OC testing.

What is the outcome of the DNA-test?
The outcome of the test DNA will be a genomic breeding value for OC (GFW OC). This value indicates the position of the horse relative to the current KWPN population. On average, 70% of the population of breeding values comes between 96 and 104. Scores a horse more than 104 then it may be expected that the horse inherits less OC to its offspring. Horses scoring 95 or below are expected to contribute negative for OC inheritance.

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PC: ACVS
I personally remain a bit skeptical of the test due to personal experience though I do know that there are external factors impacting a horse developing OCD. That said I figured that as Luna will not be 2yo by the time that the PROK examination is discontinued as a step towards Elite I might as well go for it and see what happened. Who knows if she will even achieve the other requirements anyways.

Is there anyone else that’s involved or interested in breeding that knows of other registries with similar developing DNA testing protocols? I find it all very interesting but at the end of the day I don’t think that there will be a total eradication of the presence of OCDs and will wait to see how accurate this genetic/genomic testing ends up being. I guess if you don’t make steps in the right direction with research to understand the cause/problem there will never be progress though. Thoughts?

 

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Cut The Bull

Like most adult ammies I go to a day job to support the cushy lifestyles of my horses. When work and life get crazy that can sometimes carry over to my barn life. Recently this has led to some pretty meh rides and me lacking some confidence in the saddle. As much as I would like to I can’t just play with ponies all day so it is time to get my butt back in gear.jobthing

Yesterday I finally got to haul over to my local trainers. I was originally supposed to have a lesson. However, after a less than awesome ride on Saturday I asked if he would mind putting a ride on the ginger dragon. As I eluded to earlier Annie and I have been a bit at odds lately. I was hoping that a training ride might help me get a better feel for what I need to be doing to accomplish more with our rides and I was not disappointed.LaineyClinic4.1.17-68

Having a ridiculously athletic and smart mare is a blessing and a curse. She can legitimately jump the moon and actually moves pretty well when she wants to. Key words being when she wants to. The minute that she decides something is tough she looks for a way out. She has in effect trained me to back down when she has a tantrum and thus I am most of the problem. No surprise there since its usually problem humans not horses.

I have let myself get talked out of pushing her towards correct work. I will ask for something and she will giraffe and throw herself around in a way to avoid it and then I will get nervous and back off. This used to be limited to the sandbox but lately when she doesn’t get what she wants over fences she has started flailing around as well. I don’t really blame her. I set the bar low and let her totally trample my expectations by constantly backing down.

beepbeepThankfully my trainer is a no nonsense kind of guy. He got on Annie and while there was some conversation (read: theatrics from Annie) he finally got the point across to her that no matter what she needed to participate. It didn’t need to be perfect and it didn’t have to be constant but she had to try. He reiterated that I need to stop making excuses for her. No more letting her get her way. I definitely need to figure this out with Annie because I am relatively certain that Luna is going to be a whole different kind of difficult under saddle.

Annie doesn’t like a noseband? Too bad – just put a normal bridle on and let her figure it out.

Annie doesn’t like a bit? Well – I have done everything in my power to try to find one she deems acceptable. It is clear it is not a bit problem but rather an attitude.

Before you all ask – yes she has seen the vet, chiropractor, and massage therapist etc etc. Bottom line is that I need to set boundaries and stick to them. There is nothing cruel or harsh about it. Just saying nope this is where you need to be. Try again if she doesn’t get it, reward if she does. Such is life with green horses. Just when you think you have something figured out they are like nope. Not today! When I am at my best I can ride her through most of this stuff. Six + months without regular lessons and bad habits were bound to form.nottoday

Lastly do not sit in trainers saddle because it will probably make you wish you had one. Which is literally the last thing you need right now! Thanks Amanda

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Moving Whirlwind

This past week was a whirlwind. No other way to put it but we are officially home owners again. We actually didn’t know if we would be able to close on Friday until Thursday afternoon (I have a lot of negative feelings towards the selling agent of our house…). Thankfully it all worked out and Kyle and I (mostly Kyle) actually moved our bed over ourselves Friday night because we were so excited to get into the house.

Little did we know that our water heater would be a dud and we were doomed to take cold showers for an undetermined amount of time. We figured it would just be Friday night but 4 days later we finally got hot water yesterday morning. Could have been worse though and I considered it conditioning for my cold hose showers at events!

We are now mostly moved into our new house. It feels more like home every day. The dogs especially are loving their new kingdom and Stella has secured her place on the throne as top dog. Our yard is a bit sad right now as the grass seed is still growing but it is fun to see it now and know that soon we will have an awesome backyard. Most importantly is that my new barn commute is less than 10 minutes!!! The only thing that would be better is living there so I am pretty happy. Huelet also made a move this weekend back into the main barn. He is even getting turned out with Nanners for the foreseeable future – or until McLovin is weaned and Annie gets her bestie back. Hopefully now that things have settled down a bit regularly scheduled programming will resume. I need to get my butt in gear!

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Pressure Off

Sometimes I need the barn to just be the barn. No expectations. Nothing to work on. No pressure. The past 2 or so weeks that is what I have needed the barn to be. I am not thinking about shows, stressing about our progress, or even committing to riding regularly. The barn is my happy place and with house stress and our pending move I opted to keep my trips to the farm low key. Sometimes the super special girls in my life have different ideas (Annie I’m looking at you Miss TriesToWalkOutOfHerShoes and DevelopsMysteriousFacialAbscess). Aside from some small bumps it has been working very well. I stayed out of the saddle when I knew that I couldn’t deal and instead groomed my horses, stuffed them with treats, and enjoyed some wine. It has been just what I needed but I am ready to get back into the swing of things once we move.

Fingers crossed we will be moving into the lovely below this weekend and all of the house buying drama and road blocks are past us. I hope to get back to regular programming next week! What do you all have going on? Anyone else been bogged down recently?

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Big Star Offspring @ Bolesworth

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If you are a fellow breeding nerd you might have seen that a Big Star colt sold for £92,000 at the Bolesworth Elite Auction – holy moley! The colt in question is out of a mare named Tinka’s Serenade (Tinka’s Boy x African Drum) who competed under Billy Twomey at the ’12 Olympics in London as well as ’10 WEG Kentucky.

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Of course I felt it necessary to point this out to Kyle… His first question was do you think you would sell Luna for that much? (Disregard that Luna is not worth that much and not out of a mare that had a successful top sport career). I am not totally insane so my first response was an enthusiastic yes… Then I made my contemplative face with some sighs and Kyle said you know what nevermind… Lets not go down that path. HA! He is a keeper.

After a few seconds Kyle then pointed out that this is how I broached the initial purchase… Oh look what a great investment this is… So and so “could” be worth this much one day… This list goes on. Maybe I do this because it makes me feel better? Now naturally I know that horses are literally the fastest way to a small fortune — if you start with a large one! It is fun to think about my horses potential value even though history proves that I am not very good at selling them!

Any fun comparisons that you guys make?

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