Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stocking Up

It seems that I have plagued with vet issues lately.  It all started with Semper last fall, then Lily, and now Bob has a little issue going on.   His hind legs started to get "stocked up" in the stall.  At first it was just one and pretty minor. Then it got worse. Then the other hind leg started swelling. With exercise they would go down, not completely but some. A week ago last Monday I had just had enough... and called the vet.  Decided to take Lily and have her rescanned to see how her healing was coming along.  I am all about the "two birds with one stone" thing.

The vet scanned Lily first and she is doing marvelously.  Visually they look much better to the Vet.  I see them everyday so it is hard for me to see a difference.  It made me feel better to have her comment on how good they look.  When she did the scan we couldn't see any open spaces, the tissue is looking very good and got the o.k. to increase her paddock size. The vet even said maybe some light riding in 6-8 weeks. Since Lily doesn't understand the concept of light riding, I think we will just wait it out till the healing is just a little further along.

Then Bob.  He was pretty swollen in both hind legs. No visually apparent reason. No cuts, scraps, etc. The vet presses her thumb into the inside of his leg right about his fetlock joint and holds it for a about 30 seconds. When she moves her thumb out, there is a depression that stays for minutes - this is called pitting edema.  She explains that this means that each individual cell is retaining fluid. Not that the leg has fluid building under the skin.The body is not being efficient enough to get all the lymph moved out of his limbs. It can be caused by over work or lack of movement and excessive heat exacerbates the problem.  She watched him move and he isn't lame, but he isn't comfortable either.  She flexes him and when I trot him off, he is lame for the first few steps. She decides that we should bute him and turn him out for 7 days to see if we can get it to go down all together. I take him home for turn out and give him a loading dose of 2 grams of bute.  The next morning -  no swelling. Both hind legs are back to normal. I give him another gram of bute and go off to work.  When I get home - his legs look perfect -  but I followed Drs. order and give him another gram of bute with is dinner. The next morning when his legs still look great I decide to see what happens if I take him off the bute.  And guess what? Nothing, nada, none, zip, zero, no swelling.  He looked fine with just the turn out.

Bob was rechecked last night and the vet gave him a clean bill of health. We talked about what causes the "stocking up",  how to avoid it and what to do when I happens.

Solutions that we talked about are: cold hosing his legs after he is worked and turn out.  Pretty simple. 

I haven't ever had a horse that did this so any insight from those of you that have been there would be more than welcome.

Another feather in Bob's cap... he has never been a horse that likes having his hind legs messed with, but he has been a perfect gentleman during all this. Absolutely perfect. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bob Upate #2 - general observations

So things are chugging right along with Mr. Bob.  I have taken him out on the trails twice since our Memorial Day ride and he hasn't spooked or got the least bit silly.  He sure walks out nicely.  The only thing he does that I find odd is that he has to smell EVERYTHING. I mean everything. At first I thought he was trying to take a bite of the vegetation along the trail because he kept swinging his nose over to every tree, shrub and rock, etc.  He never slows down and he never opens his mouth to take a bite so I started watching him and he is smelling it.  Weird. 

In the arena he is getting better and better.  As long as you keep it quiet and have a spot to bring him back to when he gets a little anxious he can learn by leaps and bounds.  I have found that my trot circle is where we can go to give him that mental break when he needs it. Yesterday we were working on him staying in frame and transitioning from a walk to a trot to a lope. He does the walk to trot well. The trot to the lope he wants to give me attitude.  I put him in his circle, pushed him into the bridle and asked him to trot in frame, then ask him to lope, letting him have his face if he stayed on his arc and quiet. He would do it, but he would shake his head and get all wiggly. So back to the trot and pushed up and into frame he would go.  It didn't take long for him to figure out that loping off quietly and not giving attitude would give him some "relief" from the working trot. And... he is much better if I pay less attention to his head and more attention to where I want to go.  Big lesson right there!  He is going to train me to look where I want to go.

Funny thing about Bob... We also worked roll backs on the fence. With Semper, Scooter and Lily, if you were to work a roll back on the fence and you did the same thing 3 or 4 times, they would begin to anticipate it. They would all start to slow at the fence and be thinking "turn now".  Not Bob. I must have done the same thing at least a dozen times each direction yesterday and he never once anticipated the turn. He never even gave it a thought. 

It was kind of nice that he wasn't thinking as much about what we were going to do next and more about what we were doing right then.  It can get a little tough when you are riding those big thinkers.  They are pleasers and get so tuned into what you are GOING to do next that they don't pay attention what you are actually trying to get done.  Bob stayed with me and went when he was asked instead of constantly saying "want me to do it now" & "how about NOW". 

I keep thinking I should have one of those OSHA signs posted in the barn that counts the number of days accident free.  It would say... "60 + days and counting since Bob had a meltdown". He has been with me at the barn for 8 weeks and he is still not exhibiting any bad behaviors. In fact, he is turning into a rather solid citizen.


At the ranch versatility show I said that I sucked out loud at the herdwork and I did.  But I did learn something. 

First let me say that the herdwork at a NVRHA versatility show is a little different that herdwork at a NRCHA show.  At a NVRHA you are given a specifically numbered cow to work out of the herd. When you are done working it in front of the herd you must drive it between a cone and the fence and pen it.

Things learned:
It is important to watch the riders before you to see how the cattle are working.
Don't focus on your numbered cow to early.
Make a deep cut and drive the herd out into a good working position.
Use and communicate with your herd help.

I went into the herd quietly, maybe to quietly. The cows weren't moving out of my way. Semper was wanting to take a bite out of them to get them to move. I was having to remind him that wasn't acceptable but he was still showing his teeth and penning his ears.  Not a pretty site.  I found my cow  and I tried to drive her out. But she wasn't having it. She would stop and turn into Semper. I got behind her and tried to drive her out but she didn't want to go away from her buddies (they are herd animals duh!)  I would get her to move out a little but I couldn't get HER out far enough to work out of the herd.  I unsettled the herd made a mess and used all my time just trying to get her unstuck from her buddies. 

After it was over I spoke with the judge and he gave me some pointers and told me where he felt that I went wrong.  It was like the light went on and I thought... how come I didn't think about that? 

First off let me tell you a little story... My daughter was the a pig princess... she was a superb hog showman. Ridiculously good. When she would get to the show ring and her pig would take off running...she would just show someone elses pig till she found hers then switch. She never lost her cool just moved through the "herd" showing whatever came in front of her till she got to her animal and continued on. She never lost focus and keep her eyes on the judge continually. You may not understand any of this unless you have actually watched 30 white pigs with 30 kids dressed in white carrying sticks or canes in a small show pen. Showing hogs is an art. Trust me.

That is what I should have done. I should have driven the entire herd out or at least a good part of it, with my cow in the mix and then let the others filter off when I had them out far enough that I could actually work a cow. I might not have ever been able to work my cow but I would have gotten points for driving the herd out and making a deep cut etc.  I focused on my cow and tried to no avail to get HER out. She would have gone out if her buddies were out there with her. Duh - herd animals remember. 

Because of the way things were scheduled at this show I wasn't able to watch the previous rider work the cattle. If I had been able to watch the riders go before me I would have known that the cows were sticky and pretty much done with being worked.  Not that my brain would have engaged but it might have. 

Friday, June 15, 2012


I finished up the reining series at Saddle Creek and won the Non-Pro Limited and the Prime Time (for those of us over 50) Non Pro.  Even though it wasn't a super competitive field, I feel like we got something done.  For our efforts we won these beautiful buckles. 

I like prizes but I have to say that winning two buckles on the same day was a little odd.  I mean you can only wear one, right?  I tried to give Mr. Wonderful the one that I won for the old folks class but he wasn't having it.  He says they are too big and gaudy.  Can award buckles be to big and gaudy?  I think not.  This year I also got back about half of my entry fees in winnings.
That is just icing on the cake. 

Last weekend I went to my first Ranch Versatility Show of the season.  I have five planned for this year.  It was in a small town about 3 hours from home.  Mr. Wonderful and I went down for the clinic and then showed the next day.  I was kind of having fits about going because it is expensive to go.  The clinic and entry fees are not cheap. The cost of diesel isn't cheap. A hotel isn't cheap. Meals aren't cheap. And what for? Another buckle? Not to sound like a whiner, because you know that is like counting your chickens before they hatch. It is only "another buckle" if you win. If you don't win it is just money spent on a fun weekend. And there is nothing wrong with that as long as Mr. Wonderful is enjoying himself too. He at least pretends to be having a good time. He is a much better sport than I am. Much. Much. Better.  He didn't whine at all.  Not even when they asked him to stand in the sun and wind for four hours to reset a log in the trail course. Mr. Wonderful is a trooper.

Semper and I won the Ranch Riding and the Working Cowhorse. We did mediocre in the trail and conformation. And sucked out loud in the herd work.  In my defense... the cattle had been worked by the open riders prior to the limited and novice riders working them. It was hot. They were roping steers.  Talk about the deck stacked against you. The little suckers wouldn't move. Semper gets really annoyed when they don't move. He doesn't want them in HIS bubble.

We came in Reserve Champion for the Novice Division.  I might be jaded but I am pretty sure that the toughest competition is in the novice division.  I mean really. 
These ladies are I N C R E D I B L E! 
What an amazing group of riders. They are so nice. We all rooted for one another and were excited for each other when we did well.  They make you feel like part of the group.  Really nice. 

For our efforts we won this beautiful breast collar.  Can you say AWESOME PRIZE? 

I love useful prizes. Love them. And this is a custom made, very high quality piece of tack. That makes it doubly wonderful.  The gentleman that made is a skilled craftsman.  The silver was done by a local silversmith and is stunning.
I generally don't use a breast collar.  I put this on the big white horse and he does look smashing, dashing, sexier than a bag of Doritos in it.
But he does look that way without it. Just saying. Not that I am biased or anything.

Last year I won a halter with the NVRHA logo and Reserve Champion it. I haven't used it yet.  I only wear the buckles when I am showing. I don't know how I feel about using "trophy tack".  I have never been one to draw attention to myself. I would never sit in the front row, raise my hand, dye my hair pink, get a honking tattoo or be the first one on the dance floor cutting a rug.  Unless I have had WAY to much to drink. And I mean WAY - like to infinity and back - to much.
(I know... I know... All this coming from a woman who rides a ginormous white horse.)

What do you do with trophy tack?  Leave it at home and admire it or use the living heck out of it?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The old girl and greener pastures....

This is the pasture where the twisted sisters live. Pretty much, year around, it looks just like this.  It isn't quite 5 acres and they share it with one resident goat.   I am pretty sure the goat thinks he is a horse.   Tough life huh? 

We had a tragedy last week.  It was bad, bad, bad.  The gate from the pasture to the yard at the ranch was accidentally left unhooked.  It has a chain that wraps around and hooks with a large snap and I think someone just didn't get it clipped right.  The horses and the goat left the green pastures and went for a little run down the drive way.  The drive way is probably 1/8 of a mile and comes out on a two lane road. You all see where this is going.  Old girl ran out in front of a car and was hit.  This is the first time that Mr. Wonderful can remember that they have lost an animal on the road. Not bad considering the family has owned that property since the late 1800's.  Not that he can remember back to the late 1800's - he is old, but not THAT old. She was killed instantly and no one in the car was hurt.  Since our family has always had livestock of some sort we are insured for accidents like this.  It is still tragic for everyone. The horse, the family in the car, for my mother-in-law (bless her 82 year old heart, she was so upset), my daughter who had to go down and see the Old Girl laying along the side of the road. 

What I'm having trouble wrapping my head what would possess the horses and goat to leave the green pastures they have for a romp down the gravel driveway towards an asphalt road, surrounded by flooded rice checks. They have never set foot in a rice check, won't go near them. As green and lush as they look, horses won't have anything to do with them. So why leave? And the 3 in the above pictures - were back standing in the yard before anyone was even aware they had gotten out. As far as we can tell they were only out for about 15-20 minutes. I know this isn't something to joke about but I swear I can here Mystic and Rosie - the original "twisted sisters" cheering on the Old Girl... "Run, run for it Old Girl, the pastures are even GREENER over there" as they stand by the side of the road with that darn goat - snickering.  Then they beat it back to the pasture like nothing happened.  Bitches.

I rescued Old Girl several years ago. She was 25 or 26 this year.  You can read about her here.  We think that she had a slight stroke about 18 months ago and she hadn't been quite right since but her weight was holding and she seemed to be getting around o.k.  She didn't appear to be in pain or anything like that, just not quite as bright eyed and aware. I feel horrible about her passing the way she did. You always want it to be a natural, painless, fearless ending.   I hope that the years she had with me were good. 

RIP Old Girl.