Effing horses.

Those of you following social media have probably noticed a rather whiny tinge to my latest content. That’s because the Golden Boy has decided that he wasn’t quite ready to get back to work. Here’s the timeline of recent events.

Tuesday 8/14
Get out to the barn, ready to finally attack that full 35 minutes of walking (woohoo!). Pony has a fat leg with some heat (womp womp). Much pouring over said leg discovers this particular large nasty (below) attached to his fetlock, and obvious aggravation to the area it was latched. Some bute and icing and the creature was turned out again.

Wednesday 8/15
I get a text saying his leg is looking somewhat improved, and that evening discover that the swelling is only 20% of what it was Tuesday. There’s no warmth, and he’s fine with be handling it, so I wrap him up in polos and get on for a walkabout. Post ride the leg looks almost normal again, so he gets chucked outside without much thought.

Wednesday morning

Thursday 8/16
Thursday morning, the leg is looking pretty A-OK. Thursday afternoon when I arrive, I find my friend holding him and explaining that she had hoped she could get him walking before I got there. Er, what? Turns out his leg looked more like a pool noodle than a leg. And now he was sporting a graze behind that left fore knee. Since he somehow did this while he was in his stall, I can only imagine that perhaps he was trying to scratch his itchy tick spot with his hind leg and ended up hurting his knee.

Thursday PM

Since Thursday
Since then, I’ve been attempting to get that leg down. He’s been started on antibiotics in case it’s cellulitis at this point, and I’ve been wrapping/poulticing/icing like a madwoman. It’s come down quite a bit, and Saturday almost looked totally normal after spending a whole day in a standing wrap with poultice.

Saturday evening – post wrapping, poulticing, cold hosing

And then yesterday after a day standing in a stall sans wrap, it was up again. So I don’t bloody know, but I’m going to keep fighting the good fight. I slathered poultice on him again yesterday before turnout, and I’m hoping this evening that he will look a lot better, or at least good enough to walk around in tack.

Confound these horses.

Does anyone else have experience with such a thin skinned creature? How do you deal with bumps and grazes creating utter physical chaos?! Halp!

 

The Journey out of Rehab

I’m breaking my radio silence today with another update on the Golden boy’s progress.

We completed all 3 IRAP injections with only one hiccup (that being he got turned out in a 5 acre field with other horses right after an injection, instead of the rehab paddock he was meant to go in- cue inner hysteria on my part). But all seemed to check out fine, and we were approved for tack walking last week.

The goal was to start at 20 minutes, and progress to 35 minutes over the next two weeks. Right now we’re right around the 27 minute mark, and I hope to be at 35 minutes this Thursday. Then we get to add in short bursts of trot, for about 15 seconds to start and building up to 2 minutes over another 2 weeks.

It’s hard to make almost half an hour of walk work interesting, but I’ve been doing my best. I found that despite only walking, homeboy still needs his inhaler before riding, and the super sticky hot weather probably isn’t helping a certain large creature get back into shape.

Then 30 minutes later, I hop on and ask him to walk forward and stretch some. It takes him about 10 minutes to really start rolling, and I try to keep up the pace as much as possible, which actually takes a lot of work at the moment. At the end of our ride though, he’s got a real tempo built, his back is swinging, and he is definitely getting a workout.

Boy you better hustle

In the last couple rides I’ve started including some slow leg yields, working on asking him to take wide sideways steps to get those hammys stretched, and introducing some lateral work to help him get straight. The vet also advised that I start to introduce some collected walk into our routine, putting him on his hind end in short bursts before going back to a stretchy walk. Which is great- because even though it’s definitely work, 35 min of just stretchy walk sounds fairly awful.

I also hope to start doing some cavaletti for the same reason- to start strengthening his hind end and get some engagement there that way. It’s walk boot camp for another couple weeks, for sure!

I can’t wait to start trotting and build up that cardio fitness. But we’re back on the right path, which is feeling great! You really don’t appreciate how nice it is to have your own horse until you’ve gone without for a couple months!

A Blog in Decline?

It’s been obviously quiet around here recently, and for good reason.

My days for the last month have been overwhelmed with work- and while that in and of itself is not newsworthy, it’s recently reached a fervor that keeps any little blog ideas from spawning in my mind. I honestly didn’t realize how much my subconscious focused on the blog throughout the day until even the remote recesses of my brain got geared towards the day to day responsibilities of running a creative team.

This is your brain on stress and horses.

Secondly, there’s just not so much going on in the world of Jack. He’s bored, I’m bored, we’re bored. His second injection is today, but we’re basically operating on a no-news-is-good-news sort of mentality. It doesn’t make for the most riveting blog content.

Same, Blue, same.

And last but not least is that one awful truth for every animal owner- vet bills are expensive, yo. So I’m using every little bit of downtime I have after work to hustle. I’m doing some continuing education for my photography, have completed 2(3) model calls, and am trying to work the grind as much as possible to claw myself out from underneath those ever increasing credit card bills.

This is definitely not all to say that I’m taking a hiatus, or stopping the blog by any means. Simply put, I think I’ve got to trickle back the blog expectations over the next month to once a week. I’m bummed to say that, since the blog really is a source of joy for me, in my conversations with readers. But I’ll be back after I get back in the saddle and hope you all will be around when that happens.

THE PLAN

Hallelujah hallelujah, we have a plan!

Backtracking a little though- we did our joint-specific nerve blocks on Thursday, and they revealed that our issues are primarily in the coffin joint area. This is apparently better than having issues in the fetlock, since the fetlock can be a bit of a complicated joint to rehab. Though a little troublesome to get to, the coffin is slightly more straightforward.

Jack also got his pour-in pads, and based on lunging he already looked better before and after his new kicks.

So, the golden boy’s immediate future looks like:

Next 3-4 Weeks
We will be injecting IRAP into both coffins (the other for good measure) every 5-7 days. The first injection is today, and there will be at least 2 more injections. Jack will stay in his small rehab paddock during turnout to minimize concussion on his feet and allow the bone bruising to heal.

Month 2
We start tack walking! And then building up to W/T/C on very soft footing to limit concussion still. Jack will graduate to a larger paddock if all goes well. For his next shoeing, Jack will move into aluminum shoes, which being lighter should make any fetlock joint nonsense a bit happier. Since these shoes are also deeper he will get even thicker pour-in pads, which is very helpful as his feet are so flat/not concave.

After that
From there, we will see what happens. At this point I’m loathe to really truly make plans. But I’m hopeful.

 

A little more good news

This week’s MRI was a wealth of information and, albeit rather expensively obtained, it was well worth the 4-hour-each-way trek to learn more about what’s going on in that left fore.

It turns out that the collateral ligament isn’t actually of prime focus. The main observations, as described to me in laymen’s terms, are this:

  • Significant bone bruising on the medial side (which explains him being worse going right)
  • Arthritic changes in both coffin and fetlock joint

So, really, we are not looking at soft tissue as the primary cause of Jack’s lameness. There was some discussion around mild aggravation to the DDFT, but not enough to think that it was related to the overall lameness we are seeing. Which is good!

Tryon Equine Hospital (And standing MRI)

Our next steps are thus:

  • Do balance x-rays and pour-in pads for shoes (today)
  • Make plan for IRAP injections (blood draw today)
  • Do joint-specific blocks to determine how much coffin vs fetlock joint are causing lameness (today)
  • Keep Jack on stall/rehab-paddock rest to limit concussion on feet (in progress)
  • Take baseline x-rays of coffin/fetlock for future reference

Once we determine which joint is more at play in his lameness (or both, who knows), we can make a more exacting plan in regards to time off, and/or when to work our way back into work. Hopefully more on this tomorrow, if all goes well!

MRI update and a semblance of a plan

At the time of writing this, I only have limited details on Jack. Having received the findings report just minutes ago, I am still waiting to discuss with a human that can translate the “vet speak” into something a laymen like myself can understand.

A little bit of good news, though:

Jack did not have to get an additional MRI this morning. This is good- that means the original images taken were clear and he doesn’t get the stress of being re-sedated and entering the MRI box.

I have a horse to ride, this summer at least. A sweet (and flashy) draft cross that I can hopefully bring along and have fun with, and stay in the saddle for a few more months.

A plan to find Jack a more appropriate facility for rehabbing him has been discussed and approved with the barn manager.

I hope to have more news tomorrow as I translate the findings. Tomorrow or Thursday- stay tuned!

Jack’s Bowen Therapy Experience

The other night, I sought out a Bowen practitioner who was in the area to work on Jack. I had seen how it made visible changes in a friend’s horse (even during the session), and was advised that in his pre-MRI state that it was a good time to have Jack checked out.

For those unfamiliar with Bowen (as I was myself), here’s how Horse & Hound describes it:

Equine Bowen Therapy (EBT), a less well-known alternative therapy, is a light, soft tissue manipulative technique. Practitioners say it promotes healing and pain relief by:

  • addressing the whole nervous system
  • releasing muscle spasm
  • relieving congested kidneys
  • stimulating the lymphatic system.

Does this belt make me look fat?

How it works

 

  • Practitioners use fingers and thumbs on precise points on the body.
  • They apply a rolling action which affects the muscles, ligaments and tendons.
  • During the treatment there are two-minute intervals when the horse is left to rest.
  • There is no manipulation or adjustment of hard tissue.
  • A treatment will take approximately 45 minutes.
  • Two or three treatments, usually at weekly intervals, may be required to achieve lasting relief.

 

 

Jack’s session, which albeit also was a little interrupted by working in feedback on the other client there at the barn, lasted almost 4 hours. But we had a lot of findings as a result of this head-to-toe treatment, including:

  • Not using adductor muscles near stifle on inside right hind, which may be related to a strain up the leg near the groin
  • An old injury to the sternum which has some scar tissue around it
  • Fluid and angriness on ribs 14/15
  • Knots in Longissimus Dorsi in base of neck and on lower back
    • making him very guarded/blocked over his trapezius muscles

The hope is that correcting many of these things, we can create a horse who is less likely to compensate for his current injury (LF) by abusing the rest of his body. A hopefully more comfortable horse, with a looser body, will heal faster. And I’m all for that.

 

Collateral damage

I have some answers, but not all. But what I do know right now is that our season is a total washout.

After using what many say is the best radiologist on the east coast to ultrasound Jack’s pastern, my vet called me with the opinion. The main abnormality that could be found had to do with the collateral ligament near the coffin joint. It appears that the inside of that ligament is enlarged, but unfortunately because of its location (partially in the foot) it is a difficult place to ultrasound.

So, our next step is to go to Tryon Equine Hospital, which is the closest facility to have a standing equine MRI. The MRI will give us so much more information around what is going on in Jack’s left fore, and allow us to come up with a more specific rehab plan based on the images.

Some of you may recall that Tryon is where Foster had his surgery, and I admit there is a strong sense of deja vu that I hope is mere coincidence for Jack. For now, I’ve been told to expect 10-12 months of rehabbing Jack but with the expectation to return to his job as an eventer and sporthorse.

Our MRI is July 2nd and 3rd (for follow-up images) and I will certainly keep everyone in the loop as we go on this unexpected journey. Stay tuned.

In Limbo

If you follow my BGD page on facebook, you may have seen a rather vague but slightly depressing post this week. And this would be the follow up explanation as far as I know for the moment.

Jack has been NQR for a couple weeks, but nothing so alarming that we should call the vet. Until it got alarming enough to call the vet. And the vet confirmed that I’d likely be drowning my sorrows in the barn’s boxed wine that afternoon. Which I may or may not have done. (I did.)

And then the next day I got him all dressed up to take photos

As soon as the foot block proved negative I knew we were in trouble. We were able to improve his gait about 70% with the pastern block, and so that is where we will be doing exploratory ultrasound on Thursday to look for what is likely a soft tissue injury.

Until then, Jack has been resting, and we created a small rehab paddock that he could enjoy with as minimal risks to himself as possible. I was told to hope for a period of about 2-4 months out of work, but much of that will be confirmed Friday after my vet(s) assess the ultrasound images.

Unfortunately that’s all I have to go on right now. I’m also trying to devise ways of staying in the saddle while Jack is in rehab, but that is a similar work in progress.

Stay tuned and please think of my golden boy as we wait for results.

 

Photography Friday: White Background Portraits

There’s a bit of a new craze in the Equine photography world- and that’s a twist on the ‘traditional’ black background portraits-ย white backgrounds. Now these are nothing new in terms of portraiture, in fact I’ve been a long time fan of Sharon Montrose‘s studio portraits of wildlife and baby animals (seriously-ย soย cute!). But your average equine photographer doesn’t have a studio backdrop large enough to support a subject as large as a horse. And a lot of us, like myself, use only natural light. So while the concept of the white background is similar, a much different technical approach is used.

In some ways, shooting white background images allows for a lot more flexibility than black background. Whereas in a typical shoot I am constantly searching for soft/diffused light or shade, for these images wide open light is best. I allow myself to slightly overexpose the image, and try and fill the frame with sky behind my subject. This generally makes for a very bright, if not white, background, and then edits in post-processing ‘clip the whites’ in the rest of the background- and voila! White background.
I’m still experimenting with poses (I really love the above one, creating depth within the subject sitting on a completely flat background) and how to look at different colors of horses against the white background.

What do you guys think? Are you into this new trend? Prefer black background? Or not a fan of white/black background at all, and prefer natural-environment/outdoor portraits?