Thursday, June 27, 2013

Instincts - I have 'em.....

In my last few posts I have stated that I wanted my old farrier to come out and take a look at Pippi. She tossed me off last week, after fighting me on her right lead, and for the last few weeks has been standing with her right hind under her body with her toe pointed out. Some of her attitude is undoubtedly from "summer time Pip," but some of it is her being uncomfortable. I saw a hitch in her right hind, the hock and stifle seemed stiff to me. No one else saw it. My Trainer really looked, and Miranda looked and she was certainly not off or lame. But.............. I saw something. She was just not the flowy Pippi that I am used to. And her mood was just in the toilet.

So today, my old farrier came out. She had grown out enough for him to have something to work with, and his busy schedule had some room. I was careful not to tell him what I saw, I just said I would like for him to take a look at her. ( I did say that she was acting stiff and sore). When he arrived he took a quick look, stated he liked the look of her fronts, and asked me to show him how she moved. In the indoor he had me trot up, and he immediately said her right hind was dragging and she seemed stiff on that side. YESSSSSS!!! He lifted her right hind and tucked it up tight, held it for a few minutes and asked me to trot off the moment he dropped it. Pippi had no negative reaction when he did, and she actually seemed smoother and softer. He stated that if she was in any major pain, that would have shown with that stretch. I have been doing that stretch and a forward stretch, and it had helped, but the hitch always returned.
He had assumed when I called that the new farrier had not trimmed her fronts to help her dropped shoulder. He thought that this might have hurt her whole carriage, but that was not the case. He was very happy with the trim on her fronts, and was pleased with the work. The right hind was too long in the toe, and too short on the inside, and too long on the outside. To be fair to the new farrier he thought it may have worn that way, he is a really nice guy, but I know it was like that right after her last trim. When he lifted it, and took a closer look there was also a small split in the hoof. Nothing major, and when re-aligned and balanced, it should not grow or become an issue. After he finished up, Pippi was a different horse. She stood square, and had both hinds side by side. I asked him to pick up her left hind, to see how she balanced herself. In the last few weeks she has not liked to stand on her right hind, and has cocked her hips funny when I did. She now stood totally balanced, and no longer sticks that foot under herself. And she was just chill. Looking at me with an expression of "aaahhhh, finally....."

So, I realized that I do have one good eye. I can tell when a horse is in pain and where the hitch is. And I will  trust my gut from now on. As far as the attitude, well let;s just see. One thing is for sure, Pippi has no other good excuses. :)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The ups and downs of riding ( I ate dirt!)

And by that I mean, Pippi went up and down, and then I really went down. No harm done, so no reason to worry. Here is what happened:

I arrived to ride last night after work, and Pippi seemed fine. The farrier that comes to where I board, does a decent job, but I was not happy with the way he trimmed her hind legs the last time. Pippi has been sticking her right hind under her body, and turning it out at the toe. The heel seems really low, to me. I noticed it before the clinic, and placed a call to my previous farrier who was out of town. I had wanted her looked at before the clinic, but as she was not lame, off, or seemingly in pain, we went on with the plan that he would come out when it was time for the next trim so he would actually have something to work with. So we moved on.....

Here is the deal, I am writing this with the benefit if hindsight, and so it all seems too obvious now, Pippi has been uncomfortable. In my defense, Pippi has a Mt.Everest high pain tolerance, which we know since her tendon injury where she never even favored the leg with a giant hole in the tendon. But there have been signs, that I overlooked. And I pride myself on always giving her the once over before I ride. I was stoopid!!

I longed her on the line first with the right lead. She was not wanting to move out, but it was hot, so I "encouraged" quite a bit. Her walk was fine, her trot was fine, but her canter was unenthusiastic to say the least. She would toss her head, and quit repeatedly. She finally gave me a full circle, and we switched directions. With the left lead, she was better at all three gaits. Cantered like a champ. So I mounted up.

The plan was to work on bend, transitions and circles. Started out on the left lead, and did awesome. Best 20m canter we have ever had. I then switched direction, and Pippi immediately fought me. Did not want to stay on the rail, tossing her head, and being obstinate. And that was just at the Trot!! I pushed her and she gave in, and when we had a great trot I asked for the canter. And that is when Pippi lost her mind. She hopped and popped across the arena, tossing me up on her neck. I was shocked, and just holding on. (The plans we have on how to handle this kind of thing totally out the window) I looked up while riding her neck and saw the wall coming at me, which, I must say, was rather sobering. At about a foot away Pippi also saw it and popped back, backing at 100mph and that is when I fell/dropped to the ground somewhere in the middle of the arena. I can't tell which as I sort of allowed myself to fall. Landed on my left hip, smart enough not to try to catch myself with my hands, and rolled sideways away from Pippi. She stood still, panting, near (over) me, as I got up quickly. I knew right away that I was not hurt, and reached for the reins. She never shied off, and looked rather sheepishly at me. Looked her over, and we walked around for a while until our hearts slowed and the panic subsided.
I then mounted her again. This time going left lead. Walk, trot and canter (must show horse we will work, plus remind myself that canter is not deadly) went perfect. Turned to right lead, and she was testy. So I hopped off, and we were done. When untacked I checked her all over (she never once seemed concerned with me), and cold hosed her tendon just in case. It did not seem swollen. Her right hind was now even more under her, and more turned outward at the toe.

The lesson here is. PAY ATTENTION!!!! Pippi was only fighting me in the right lead, so she was not being difficult, she was in pain. And when her subtle hints were ignored, she was pushed to the breaking point. And she broke. I am just a bit sore today, kind of like after a hard work out. I walked over 3 miles last night to work out the kinks, and I think it may have helped. I am waiting to hear from Farrier, and then we will see......

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

News Round Up!

So, after the successful stop at the Vets office on Friday, we loaded up a sleepy Pip and headed to a local facility for a weekend clinic.
The clinic was held by Amanda Wilson, a great Eventer, and I was to have a Dressage lesson with her on Saturday. Pippi was amazed to be back at this facility, I think, as we boarded there quite a while back. It is a beautiful place, with all the amenities, but our experience there was dreadful. They have changed management several times since, oh I know, turn over at a boarding facility? What? Drama? What?

I digress. After Pippi was able to relax for a few hours, four actually, I tacked her up and longed her in the indoor arena. No sign of her being wobbly after drugs, so I decided to ride her. First we took a walk around the arena to look for horse eating monsters, that as you know come in any color and size imaginable. We found one in the far corner. It was the tall , grey version, with three spindly long legs, that sometimes stands in the arenas spitting liquid and turning its tiny little head around and around. Oh man, we thought it had us, but I felt brave and approached slowly snorting and bobbing my head. Pippi could not believe how brave I was, and not being one to be shown up followed behind snorting and sneaking up with me. The monster was clearly dead, or asleep (or actually a water sprinkler) so we moved on after we both gave it a good ones over with our muzzles. (I have found that with Pippi it is much quicker for me to play scared horse and for us to investigate together, than to "encourage" her to go forth with a "its nothing, see?" approach/retreat plan. When we used to do that it could take a while, and Pippi would start fighting me and just get more upset. I would handle the object and she would get pissed off. Then it occurred to me that she does not have hands, and I swear it ticked her off that I would disregard her feelings. Now that I mirror them, we can get over it as a team.) Our ride was uneventful, although she was a bit "looky." I do have to mention that Donna was amazed when I cantered and stated "Look at you, I can't believe you are just Canter like that."

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, with a nice little breeze. I watched the only other Dressage clinic of the day, the others chose to jump, and felt better about how mine would go. Seems Pippi and I have some skills after all. I longed a VERY "looky" Pippi in the indoor, and decided to do the same outside. I walked up and down the arena (it was lunch time) so Pippi would be working, but had a chance to see her surroundings. She was definetly on alert, and when I mounted up she high trotted me across the arena. I pulled back, but having the simple snaffle she disregarded easily. So I yanked! She stopped, and I whispered to her that she needed to follow through on her end of the deal. (I take care of her and she takes care of me.) And she did. Our lessons started and she was AWESOME!!!
Lots of 20m circles, and W/T changes, working on bend and staying off the forehand. When she carried herself, I asked her to slow as a reward, when she leaned I sped up. After just a few circles I had longer and longer times with little/no weight in the reins. Yippee!! I was reminded to get the gait, and then in the next stride get the bend. Then we cantered and did the same thing. The hour flew by, and I loved every minute!! Figure 8's with 20m circles, and bend changes. Pippi had what Amanda Wilson called some "snarky" moments, but nothing to worry about. She just tends to take over when I falter. Somebody has to drive the train, and she thinks it might as well be her since I clearly quit.

Amanda asked if I had any questions about half way through, and I asked what I knew Donna was thinking "how long until you say Pippi is too small for me?" She said instead that my leg is a little too long for Pippi, but that Pippi was clearly the right horse for me. "She puts up with your new rider faults, and takes care of her rider. She is a been there/done that horse, who is very honest and a great teacher. Worth her weight in gold."

Miranda chuckled when Amanda said "takes care of her rider." And stated "she only takes care of Mom." And I have to agree. Pippi is not half as patient with Miranda as she is with me, and has not hesitated to show Miranda her displeasure at times. But to her credit, Pippi is following through on her end of the deal, with slight reminders, and I sure take care of her.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pippi - High as a Kite!!

Please to enjoy:

Pippi was given a sedative for the Ultrasound we had done last Friday. Her leg had to be clipped and she had to stand still so the Vet could get a good read. She was so confused.
The first thing she did after she received the shot, was take a step forward and put her face into the crook of my arm. She leaned more and more as the sedative took hold, and drooled into my hip. I could feel her teeth on my hip bone, slobber soaking my shirt. The video above is from right after the ultra sound was completed.

I had read countless articles, watched videos, checked out images and was well armed with information as to what a healed Tendon should look like in an ultra sound image. As I was watching the screen from behind and over, I did not have a clear view. When I first saw a giant round black spot, I panicked. Sheer sweat panic!. I was convinced that she was not healed at all, and that all our work had been too soon and way too much. Had to concentrate and not hyperventilate.

After the Vet was done, he showed me the images, and (cue the angel horns) all was well. I was able to see the fibers in the black hole, and saw that they were attached all around and evenly spaced. YIPPEEE!!

Pippi is doing great. She could still improve a bit more, but the Vet stated that she is at the end stage of healing. At the one year anniversary (Labor day) it will be as good as its gonna get. Doc did not give us any restrictions, but the chance for re-injury is greater with jumping. He recommended strongly that we limit our jumping, to cross rails and 18" fences, as the impact from that height is about the same as a canter. Anything higher would "torque" the tendon, and a cause injury. He did warn me that tendons are weaker after injury, and that with the size of her "hole"....... well, he was impressed with my slow and steady rehab. Seems lots of riders rush that, and the horse pays the price.

So, we are back baby!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Kindness wins again.....

So, I am going to the clinic, and I am even stopping at the Vets office. Yep - that's right. Two different people, and old friend and a new friend, both offered to haul Pippi there. One insisted that we still stop at the vets appointment to get Pippi's leg Ultra sounded. She says she know how it feels to wonder if all is well, and wants me to have the peace of mind of knowing for sure.

Sometimes things work out after all...... Thanks to awesome people.