Friday, 6 April 2012

Lola begins to grow up....

Wow! How much has happened since i last posted of Lola's progress! When we last left off she's just been brought back into work after her leg injury. She was back in work for around a month before we had other issues arise- this time with her saddle. Being a sensitive kind of mare she reacts quickly to anything which is uncomfortable and this time it was her saddle. After two different saddlers came to check her, one of which said saddle was fine and 'the mare' was over-reacting(!) and the other who adjusted the flocking and said all would be fine she still wasn't right so a friend recommended the wonderful Jane Saunders of Equimix Saddlery, who i now cannot recommend highly enough. Unfortunately our old saddle REALLY didnt fit and was completely the wrong shape for Lola's ever developing physique so i brought a lovely new saddle for her from Jane, who spend what must have been a few hours trying all makes of saddle on her, seeing me ride in them, changing things around and generally being incredibly helpful. We settled on an Albion K2, it wasn't brand new but was in immaculate condition and i picked it up for a very good price- happy days! Jane is now on the list of one of my new favourite people :-)

Anyway, by the time saddle issues were resolved it was almost the end of eventing season so no outings last year but we did manage a trip to Kingswood Equestrian Centre at the end of September. My friends were competing so i hitched a lift on the lorry and took Lola to her first party!! I didnt enter her in any classes as i completely expected her to explode at the first time working away from home with lots of other horses around her but now i wished i had. She was so well behaved i wondered if someone stole my horse of the lorry and replaced her with a look alike. Thankfully my friends test was first thing so the warm up area was fairly quiet so we had a ride around in there, did a bit of schooling then wondered back to the lorry to go home. She got a little bit stressy when her friends left her to go and do their tests but nothing like i'd expected. Lola was in the good books for several days to come and we left looking forward to our next trip out....

(No ridden photos i'm afraid- friends all pre-occupied with their own tests, but we do have this cute photo of Lola & QB sharing their hay in the lorry park)

Sadly, this 'next trip out' still hasn't occured!! :-( Finances were very tight with Christmas rapidly approaching and Gem's weekly, then forghtnightly acupuncture sessions and then Lola comes down with the dreaded strangles :-( during mid- November. Just as everything was going the right way, we has started jumping and her schooling was going well she was out of action for another 11 weeks. Thankfully it seemed to be a mild case and no-one else on the yard came down with it. The odd thing was she never leaves the yard- not even to hack out. We went to Kingswood in September, so weeks before, and no-one else who came had it, we had no new horses on the yard she could have been in contact with so no one really knows where it came from. As i said, it was a mild case and she was fine in herself throughout. There was no temperature, she was eating, drinking and was quite bright but the swabs we sent from the 2 abscesses definitley came back positive for strangles. As she is awful with vets we decided not to go down the usual route of 3 clear nasal swabs before being announced clear and waited a few weeks longer and went for the guttural pouch wash, meaning only one sedation was necessary. Luckily the first one we did came back clear so after 10 weeks of box rest poor Lola was finally allowed back out into the field.

and finally, we're almost up to date! After coming back into work (again!) at the very end of january i booked a lesson with a new instructor so get us going along the right lines again, with the serious intention of actually getting some competitions in this year, I think eventing has been put on a back burner for at least the first half of the season as Lola is nowhere near fit or strong enough again at the moment so we will be concentrating on dressage and getting going again with jumping for now.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Oh my life! I've been meaning to update this for ages now but never did i realise it was May that i last posted! Where does time go? There have been big developments with both girls so i shall attempt to go through these individually.


We have seem some massive improvements in Gem in the last few months. She was shipped off doen to Three Counties Equine Vets in teweksbury in August to be scoped for gastric ulcers and to have her spine x-rayed. On her first visit she was found to have grade 2 ulcers so not too horrendous but the vet thought it may have been enough to have been causeing the girthiness and cold backed behaviour. She was sent home on a course of gastroguard with the instruction to return in 3 weeks to see how the ulcers were doing and whether the saddling issues had resolved...

3 weeks later we set off again, sadly with no improvement on the back issues. Thankfully upon re-scoping the ulcers had cleared up wonderfully so it was worth it if only for that. Gem was then taken into x-ray to see what was going on. A nervous wait in the waiting room ensued and then the vet called us to view the x-rays. I was fully expecting a kissing spine diagnosis so when he said there was no sign of impinging dorsal spinous processes i'm not sure whether i was relieved or not. I had prepared for that diagnosis and already thought through options so it was a bit of a shock to hear there was nothing going on in that way. Unfortunatley what she was diagnosed with was worse in a way- osteoarthritic changes to several facet joints- facet joint arthtitis basically- in T16-17, T17-18 and L2-3. Theres nothing that can be done to reverse these changes, only to help slow down the process and help the surrounding muscles. She had steroid injections on both sides into these joints and then mesotherapy to assist the relaxation of the muscles in the whole of her back. Again, we went home with an exercise program to help strengthen the topline and hopefully help her to start using her back correctly with the hope that if the muscles were stronger then she would be more able to support the weight of something on her back. Three months down the line it was obvious this was not to be as she still couldnt even cope with a roller on and girthed up. I was warned the steriod injection would either work and work well, or not at all. At this stage it looks like not at all.

More out of desperation and, at this stage, the willingness to give ANYTHING a go i contacted a local vet who does acupuncture. With the agreement of my regular vet we decided to give this a go with the thought that if after three sessions there was no improvement then we had at least tried. By the second session it was obvious something was working! Gems strides were becoming more even and free again, and she was less reactive to being prodded around the withers. We persevered with this for a few more sessions until eventually we thought the time was right to try the dreaded roller again... Under the watchful eye of both vets i hesitantly placed the roller on her back... no reaction... then slowly girthed it up one hole at a time... again not a flinch... on this first occasion i actually managed to girth it up fully and lead her around the school without her batting an eyelid. Needless to say happy wasnt the word!! She had it on for an entire 15 minutes in the school until we thought it was enough so took it off. This was about 5 weeks ago now and she wasnt even flinched at the roller since.

We have now managed to progress to having a saddlecloth under the roller and long reining up hill and down dale and Gem seems to really be enjoying being out and about again. Its so lovely to see her with a spark in her eye now :-)

This last week i've even managed to gently place a proper saddle on her back. She was wary so i'm not pushing this issue at the moment. Instead we are loaning a bareback pad that i can attach a girth and stirrups to so we can keep making progress. We have also been practicing jumping up & down by her side, imitating leg-ups and leaning across her with the aid of a very kind friend which she is also taking in her stride. So, after months of various veterinary treatments it was a desperate try of acupuncture that has finally broken down the barrier and allowed us to begin working with Gem. I am so hopeful for the next 12 months. With her current progress there is a very real change we may actually be able to get her back into ridden work, and even if she doesn't we have more importantly made her comfortable enough to continue her retirement for a good few years. All of this has made the bond between Gem and myself even stronger. I really do love this horse dearly and will continue doing all i can to help her go from strength to strength. After everything she's been through it's the least this darling little mare deserves.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Good news at last!!!

A very brief post just to say the vet has given Lola the all clear to come back into 'proper' work!! :-D Woohooooo!! She shouldn't need the operation on her leg now as he said he's quite happy with the way it's healing and just to keep an eye on it. He's also said that work shouldn't affect it at all so we can start working properly rather than sticking to walk & trot on a surface. What looked like a real wash out of a year is now beginning to look promising again. So hopefully we can squeeze in a few ODE's before the end of the season and then really crack on with dressage over the winter. Happy days!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Was my last post really on March 16th?!! Where does the time go!

On a very big plus note Lola is back in work (for now at least...) :-D She never did go in for the op as my vets were struggling to source some of the anaesthetic needed. When it finally arrived, 3 weeks later, it couldn't be done as Lola had to be on box rest for 3 weeks following the op and i was due to go on holiday 3 weeks to the day, leaving no-one able to look after her. Even if someone could have done her, i wouldn't want to leave knowing things could still go wrong. Vet agreed that another few weeks wouldn't hurt as she's not lame and it's not sore at all (following much poking and prodding to which the pony usually explodes if it hurts!) Gave me the go ahead to ride her lightly in walk & trot on a surface, so i did. managed to ride a few times before hols and she was fantastic. Took her in the new 60x40 outdoor school for the first time and she wasn't bothered at all. Had a bit if a look around and a prance but no dramas, much to my approval as i didn't really fancy broken bones to take on hol with me!

(Please excuse the horrible position- i partly blame new- very stiff! boots and guarding a very sore back from previous accident a few weeks before- details to follow...)

Holiday time approached so the pony (i really need to stop calling her that! Force of habit i'm afraid) had another week off . Holiday was spent camping (not so good part) , however as we were camping at Badminton that more than made up for it! :-D The weather was wonderful, i actually managed to get a tan (well, my arms and face did) and it was lovely to see Mark Todd win for the 4th time. Now, i'm not going in to the in's and out's of the competition as i'm sure you all saw or read about it for yourselves but lets just say after actually seeing a certain 2 riders ride up close, one particularly for her dressage test, i am now completely and utterly awe-inspired. Not naming names but lets say both are female, one's not a million miles from me (based in leicestershire i believe) and the other is a tiny bit further (almost in Scotland- further!)I'm now desperately searching for any clinics either of the above riders may be holding this year!!

Since arriving back from Badminton i have so far managed to ride Lola 3 times, hopefully 4 if tomorrow goes to plan. Vet is coming back out to look at the leg on weds so i'm trying not to do much and get my hopes up in case she still needs the op. Call me optimistic, but the original hard lump is now considerably smaller and softer, and the scab which was refusing to heal is closing up more and more. I've got just about everything it's possible to cross tightly crosses that it may be re-absorbing by itself. Vet wasn't sure in the end whether anything was actually chipped or if there was just slight damage to the bone, so i'm now praying for the latter. She's been a bit of a brat on the ground recently, seeing how far she can push the bonudaries but has been a sweetheart to ride. She was also 5 on April 27th and for a brief moment i thought she was turning into a real 'Kevin the teenager' but she seems to be out the other side again now so i'm putting it down to spring grass.

Gem is just beign Gem. Still out of work, have back lady lined up for this month and is being scoped for ulcers after she's been out. If that is clear then we're going to x-ray her spine i think, and possibly send her off for scans to see if there's any trouble spots anywhere else. If all comes back clear i can bring her back into work guilt free and just put her cold backed-ness (is that even a word? It is now) down to memory of badly fitting tack and work through it. Hopefully.

A photo of Gem as we don't see her often :-)

As for the other pony i was riding, Max, i am riding no longer. Got on him in the school about 6 weeks ago and for no apparent reason he just took off. Bucked all the way across the diagonal and managed to deposit me in the top corner of the school. My friend runs over looking concerned and i get up to take my bow, laughing. Nothing hurt so grab the mounting block and prepare to get back on to see if it was a one off spook at something he saw in the distance. I did remember just before i got back on that i'd changed his bit that morning so change it back to his old one to see of that may have prompted the behaviour. Jumped back on, got friend to lead him for a minute or two, then he took off again. Off gallops max again, along the diagonal, bucking all the way. I expected it a little more this time so managed to ride through them, turned the bottom corner and finally felt him slowing up. Woohoo thinks me, he's stopping :-) and stop he did- only we went from almost gallop to halt in a stride whish sent me flying forward. Then the little sod reared and kind of lept into the air and on landing put in one almighty buck sending me flying into orbit once again. Grrrrrr! Did attempt to get right up but that led to me falling back on the floor unable to breath. Luckily i was only winded (which i knew- i know that feeling well now) as i landed flat out on my back for the second time that day. I must have held on to the reins or something on the way down though as i've managed to really strain something in my little finger. It still hurts now. My shiny new body protector arrived the day before too and typically i wasn't wearing it. There is a possibility i'll never wear it though, brought an Exo-Cage whilst we can still get our hands on them but it's so bloody restrictive and bulky i doubt i'll wear it. Maybe for XC one day but i can see me ending up with another. I'm quite liking the Airowear Outlyne's after trying one the other week :-) Limped away with a dead leg feeling battered and bruised and returned max to his field. The bruising on the bottom of by back has only just gone down- it ran from hip to hip across the bottom of my back and was several interesting colours before it finally went- hence the dodgy photos of me riding lola above. It was about 2 weeks on in those photos and it still bloody hurt. Max has been ridden twice since- once my his instructor who said he was tense but didnt buck and once by his owners daughter who got as far as her foot in the stirrup before he bucked once and took off. Luckily she wasn't sat up top yet and managed to slide to the ground. Now i'm not scared of riding bucking horses, but when i don't know the reason they've started bucking i don't like it. I've told the owner i dont want to ride him now, partly as i don't know why he's suddenly started doing it and partly because Lola is back in work and i wont have time. It's a shame as he is a lovely lad but i really dont want to fall off someone else's horse, get injured and not be able to work as then i won't be able to afford my own. Shame really :-(

Anyway, thats quite enought for now! Shall update you after the vet has been on wednesday. Keep things crossed for us please :-D xx

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Ben goes home :-( and Max appears! (Oh, and Lola's STILL off work...)

Today was the sad day that Ben had to return home :-( All is sorted for his owners now so they came to collect him today. He will be missed-he's such a character and i've really enjoyed having him back, albeit briefly but i knew he wasn't here to stay so never mind. As per usual he was a beggar to load (i think it was his way of saying he wanted to stay! :-D ) but he went in the end.

On a more positive note, i've been asked by one of the other horse owners at the yard if i'll ride her youngster for her. He goes by the name of Max and is a 14.3hh, rising 5 year old tri-coloured cob. He did a bit of everything last year after he was backed but has had the winter off so needs bringing back into work and schooling. His owner only brought him a couple of months ago and he's her first horse in many years so she's asked me if i'll ride/school him a bit for her. He's a little bit shy and gets bullied by everyone in the field but he's such a poppet. He's a big, unbalanced lad so finds it hard to work in our indoor at the moment, but the huuuuge outdoor is very nearly finished so can't wait to ride him in there! He hacks out nicely though so we've been exploring the roads for the last week or so, and he loves to jump so we've done a bit of that too. Given some time to get fitter and to lay some scholing foundations down and i think he'll be lovely. I'm desperately hoping his owner will let me do a few little jumping classes or ODE's with him but shhhhhh because i haven't asked her yet! Hehehe
And now for photos....

Lola Update-
Well, she's been back out in the field almost 2 weeks now. Vet came out to re-check last wednesday and thought it needed re-scanning, so came back on thursday. Sadly, these scans show that there has been damage to the bone, and she's developed a sequestrum. Basically, there are little pieces of dead bone that have become infected. These need to be removed or are likely to cause some problem at some time during the future. She's still perfectly sound on it now but it's best they are removed and all the infected rubbish thats left in there is removed too. She's booked in for the op next wednesday and will be back on box rest for another 3 weeks following that. Fingers crossed all goes to plan (we know what Lola's like by now!!)

Friday, 25 February 2011

Lola comes back into work (for a WHOLE 2 days!)

Do you ever feel like your horse is trying to tell you something? Well, i'm convinced mine is trying to tell me she's quite happy living the life of riley out in her field with her friends and in no way, shape or form does she want to do any actual work! The first time i attempted to bring her into work she got kicked and colicked (see earlier posts...) leading to box rest & weeks off. This time, after a break of just over 3 months, i manage to ride her a grand total of twice before we find an unexplained puncture would on the near forearm, resulting in almost 2 weeks box rest so far and i don't know how many weeks off work by the time it's healed. Grrrrrr

However, on the bright side, the little madame hasn;t been lame on it at all, and *touches wood* can hopefully be turned out again on monday after the vet takes the dressing off (This is the plan anyway, with Lola most things tend not to go to plan!) So far we've had 5 dressing changes and have been a whole rainbow of colours (photos to follow) We've also had her leg scanned to make sure there was no damaged bone, which thankfully there isn't, so it's just a case of waiting for it to heal now. Hopefully, as she's not been lame, when the vet gives the go-ahead to turn out i can start riding again not long after. It has also been decided that she's being wrapped from head to toe in cotton wool and bubble wrap from now on!

We've also had purple & red, green & blue and today's blue & purple, but i havent managed to upload those photos yet :-)

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

A New Horse Joins the Ranks!

Soooo, last weekend saw the arrival of a (not so new) boy in the field. Ben, my old boy, is back with us on holiday for a few weeks. I sold him November 2009 to a lovely family in Oxford but they've had to move yards and struggled finding somewhere for Ben to go short term so he's back with us for now :-D

Ben is a 17hh, 11 year old chestnut IDxTB, sold as unfortunately he was just too big for me to do him justice at the time. Of all the horses i've been involved with he was certainly the hardest to let go so i'm very glad to have him home again for a few weeks. Anyone that's ever met Ben will know what i mean. He's such a sweet lad, huge but sweet!

He is currently living out with the other geldings and has settled right in. Being the biggest in the field by about 3 hands i think the others were slightly intimidated to begin with but they get along like they've known each other forever now. I arrived at his field this morning to find Ben and 2 of his friends lined up at the gate, in size order. As all 3 of them were chestnut it was quite comical looking at them. Ginger's about 13.2hh, Jake (in the middle) is about 14.2hh then Ben, the huge 17hh beast on the other end. Sadly i didnt have my camera with me as that would have been an excellent photo!

I did, however, have my camera with me yesterday. And so i give you Ben...