Monday, November 30, 2009

Moving Again!

Back to the old place.

I was pretty nervous about the move or more particularly, getting Fox into the float. My wonderful boyfriend once again gave me a hand. Well he didn’t do a huge amount, he helped me hook up the float to the ute and then mostly just sat in the ute. He did come out on the odd occasion to give me a hand though. He’s also my driver as I’m still learning how to tow.

Two and a half hours later after trying every method I had found in my trawling through the internet, we had gotten Fox mostly in a couple of times. We decided to call it a day. Despite not having an ‘outcome’ as it were, we had actually made a huge amount of progress. I had discovered what doesn’t work. Anything that involves ropes, whips (including the Andrew McClean tap tap method) and pressure of any form. Pressure on his head causes head throwing up, fast reversing and half rears. Pressure from behind causes panic, so too does anything to do with a whip.

What does work is the in out method encouraged by carrot treats. Fox stays relaxed and calm (so do I for that matter). He isn’t frightened because I’m not trying to force him in, I’m asking him to come in. I know some people disagree with the use of treats but I’m of the mind that whatever works – use it. I also discovered a kind of pressure that Fox is ok with. It’s a very light tug tug tug on the leadrope. As soon as the pressure becomes constant, his eyes start to roll and his head goes up. But the tug tug tug works. So in light of this new found knowledge we decided to try again the next day.

The next morning we decided to work with Fox for half an hour then put him away and try again in the afternoon due to the All Blacks vs France game that started at 8.30 my boyfriend wanted to watch. At 8.15 after 15-20 minutes of work, Fox walked calmly onto the float all in one go. I looked at my bf, he looked back at me. I said, ‘sorry but we have to go. I can’t guarantee he’ll go on again.’ He sighed, did up the bum bar and the back and off we went. Fox travelled really well but at the other end a bit keen to get off the float. He waited until I had given him a back signal and then charged off. So obviously lots of work still needed but I felt really proud of what we had accomplished.

And did I mention how great my bf is? He missed half of his rugby to help me xxx.

Friday, November 27, 2009

First Ride Whoot!

On a whim, I decided to have my first ride on Fox last night. I got out my long unused helmet, bitless bridle and boots. Fox was a bit fussy with the bridle, tossing his head around. I led him into the arena and over to the mounting block. I slid my leg over his back expecting at least a sidle but he stood still as a rock until I asked him to move off. I don't know what I was expecting but definitely something more dramatic than what actually happened. Fox was totally relaxed, his eyes were soft and he strode out with no encouragement. We tootled around on the buckle a couple of times on both reins then over some poles set up along the centre line. Nothing much, took about 5 minutes but it was such an amazing feeling. Feeling the warmth and the movement. The power underneath me. Wow I've missed riding!

But I am not in any kind of riding shape. My back feels tight, my hips feel closed and my legs high. It's going to take quite a bit of work for me to come right again I think. I will start adding some hip opening yoga poses to my workouts which should hopefully help and really focus on relaxation when I'm riding.

On another note, a friend of mine that I used to think knew everything about horses is having problems with her horse. We have had a serious parting of ways in terms of horses once I started getting my shit together. The first thing is her horse is stumbling a lot. The first thing I notice when I look at him is how long his toes are. Try to mention this to her and she doesn't listen at all just starts on about how good her farrier is. Um, well he isn't. Shortening those toes will do a whole lot to help. Second thing is he moves really strangely. Like his back end isn't working quite right. He isn't lame or sore but his movement is definitely odd. Try and tell her and she doesn't listen, she used to work at a top level dressage barn in the UK, she has ridden more horses than me, she knows more than me, he is fine blah, blah blah. Someone else said the same thing and was shut down as well. Whatever. Now her horse has started chasing her. She thinks he is being playful. Right. Should I tell her what I would do? It involves a big stick and giving him a good whack and chasing him instead. Maybe I should let horsie have a bit more fun first LOL.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Horse

Well not really. But Fox has finally started to cheer up. His coat has got a bit of its shine back and his movement is fantastic! He is still off his feed so I'm going to try and get some funugreek which apparently helps. It is such a huge change from Saturday when he looked old and tired and sad. It was really worrying.

Good news, farrier agreed that barefoot is the best thing for him at the moment. If he does get worse there are some fancy schmancy pad things that work with the digital cushion to improve circulation but they are quite expensive.

And even better news, Fox has been cleared for light work! Yay! The filling in all four legs has really gone down in the last couple of days. Not sure what it is, the increased movement, the homeopathics, the equissage machine or a combination but whatever it is it's working.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Feet Quandry

The physio came out today again. She is starting to lean towards the notion that a lot of the swelling especially in three of the legs is lymphatic congestion and maybe some of the swelling in the injured leg is the same.

The main thing she had to say today was that she would like me to put shoes on Fox. He's been barefoot for the last year and a half with no problems. Her horses are shod so I'm thinking that she is a firm believer in 'Conventional Wisdom'. The reasons she gave me for putting shoes on is to give support to the leg with the injured tendon, improve his circulation and to help with the slight footsoreness Fox has developed. I have been feeding Fox molasses to get him to eat his hard feed and I think it has caused his soles to drop. From a week ago when his soles were nice, hard, clean and concave to dry, crumbly, flat, horrible looking things which is causing him to be sore.

I have the farrier coming on Monday and I will discuss it with him. My instinct is to keep him barefoot but obviously the physio is a lot more educated than I am despite perhaps being a believer of CW. I'm very confused. I really hoped to avoid putting shoes on Fox but the physio is really pushing it and I want to do what is best for Fox.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Injury Updates

Fox’s chest is healing well. He has had a mild infection but all under control with antibiotics. Only problem is he is still off his food so I have to make it into a paste and drench him which he hates! I get to take his stitches out tomorrow which should be interesting!

His leg on the other hand isn’t getting better. All the running around he has done with the week and a half of fireworks has really put our progress back and to make it worse, there is now quite a bit of filling in the other hind leg. Before the chest injury, things were progressing along so well so I’m super frustrated. It’s been about a month since he did the initial injury and he’s still confined to a smallish area and still no handwalking. I get to start Fox back on the homeopathic remedies that I had to stop while giving him others for his wound on Sunday. I’m hoping that will help things get back on track.

Fox has been ever so patient, he has started going to sleep when I hose him, it’s very cute. He has started enjoying my massages too. It took a while but now he relaxes and we get lots of nice yawns/releases.

I have been given the go ahead to move back to where I was before. There is plenty of grass now so management issues should be down to a minimum. I just have to get Fox on a float!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Guy Fawkes Rounds 2 and 3

After the drama of Thursday night I decided that it would be best to stay with the horses to make sure everything went ok. I even managed to persuade my partner to come and keep me company.

Everything was quiet, we had just finished eating tea, it was getting late. Surely by 9.30 people would have started letting off fireworks if they were going too. We were contemplating calling it a night. Then all hell broke loose. We had fireworks coming from several directions. One place was only about 50 metres away from Fox’s paddock. In the flashes, I saw his head come up and he started to run. I ran over to try and calm him. It must have been awful for him as he was confined in a small area for his leg. He was trapped, nowhere to go. So he started charging the fence.

When he had crashed into it a few times, I panicked. I was on the wrong side of the fence trying to keep him away from it. Stupid I know, but I wasn’t about to stand by and watch my horse go through a fence. He managed to get through the tape that kept him enclosed. He was running around in the dark. I couldn’t see him. Then he started coming at the fence again. By this time I was crying, and so, so afraid. It’s hard to describe the terror I was feeling. I was still trying to get in his way, to keep him away from the fence. My partner was trying to undo the fence so Fox could get into the relative safety of the post and rail arena.

He charged again and knocked me down. I saw stars and felt bits of tooth in my mouth. Apparently I said ‘Shit, shit, my tooth’s gone, I’m all fucked up.’ Stupid, stupid me. The knock and my partner sorted me out and I grabbed a standard and jumped to the other side of the fence. I ran up and down waving my arms and the standard shouting back, back, back whenever he came close. My partner managed to get the fence undone and opened the gate of the arena.
Now Fox wouldn’t come through. I herded him through the gap and into the arena. His little pony friend ducked under his tape and went through with him. Fireworks kept coming and they kept running. They did stay away from the fence though so I figured they would be safe. Then the car lights started to die. My partner ran to try and turn the car on before it went flat but too late. I tried to check the horses but couldn’t see anything except for moving shapes. I completely broke down and sobbed and sobbed.

We had to try and push start the car. After a couple of failed efforts we got it going. The horses had settled a bit and there were no more fireworks. I was exhausted and my partner wanted to get me home.

At home in the light I saw my tooth wasn’t too bad, about a third of the bottom was gone and it wasn’t one of the front ones so I was very relieved. I collapsed into a chair. Then I saw my hand. It was covered in blood. I looked at my partner and said ‘that’s not my blood.’

So we went back. Using a torch we had collected on the way I could see Fox’s white sock was red. I tried not to have another meltdown. He wouldn’t let anyone close but I got close enough to see a huge at least handsized wound on his chest/shoulder. It was mostly superficial with a big flap of skin hanging down. There were however, a couple of deep bits. I held it together and tried to ascertain the seriousness of it. It wasn’t bleeding anymore, looked pretty clean and the deep bits weren’t too deep. He also wasn’t going to let me or anyone anywhere near him. There was nothing I could do to help him. It was the most awful feeling leaving him there like that.

It was after midnight when we got home. I spent a sleepless night tossing and turning. I went out first thing in the morning and called the vet. She couldn’t make it till 9.30 so I waited and waited and made Fox as comfortable as I could. We had his pony friend in the next pen to keep him company but he was still very nervous and jumping at everything.

The vet finally arrived. We had a bit of an audience by this time, all the other people who have horses there had turned up. If you didn’t already know, Fox hates vets. With a passion. Poor lady couldn’t get anywhere near him with a needle. She gave me an oral sedative to give him. It took forty very long minutes to work. Vet tried again to get near him. Nope, he wasn’t having a bar of it. Out came the deer stick. An intramuscular injection isn’t as effective as a IV injection but it was all that could be done. He got a quick jab in the neck. When he was nice and sleepy she tried to inject the area with a local. But no, Fox wasn’t having any of that. So another intramuscular injection with the deer stick. He still wouldn’t let her inject any local into the area. We managed to tie him tight and get a dose in IV. He was so, so sleepy. The vet said that this should make him go down. But no, I, apparently, have a super horse. He swayed a bit but mostly just ate. We waited some more and nothing. We gave him another IV stick. ‘This should definitely bring him down,’ the vet said. No it didn’t. He swayed a bit and looked sleepy but carried on eating. Fox had now had a large dose of oral sedative and four times the normal dose of the other sedative and nothing. The vet decided to bring out the big guns. Diazapam and Ketamine. That dropped him. Rather hard too. He rolled around and his eyes were filled with panic. It was horrible.

We had to prop him up as he had landed on the wrong side. The vet got down to business, cleaned everything up and started stitching. He needed internal stitches as well as stitches for the big flap. She was just on her last stitch when Fox tried to get up. We managed to keep him still enough for her to finish. In half the normal time, Fox was trying to stand. There was nothing we could do to keep him down an longer. But he hadn’t got full control over his muscles yet and fell and flailed and twisted himself into hideous positions. It was so bad I could hardly watch. It took a long, long time for him to gain enough control to stand.

Once he had control over himself, everyone left. It was just me and my poor horsie. I felt very alone and very frightened. I didn’t know how to keep him safe. We had at least another night of fireworks.

Late in the afternoon I finally felt safe enough to leave him for an hour. I tried to rest but I was so anxious. I couldn’t decide where he would be safer. The round pen, which is small and enclosed which may freak him out but safe with nice high walls, or the arena where he could run all he wanted and be with his pony friend but low walls. I finally decided on the arena. It was his anxiety at being away from other horses that did it for me. So I went back and moved him into the arena, gave him water and hay and moved his friend in with him. I left again to try and have some food.

After not being able to eat anything, we went back at 8.30. I had planned on giving him another dose of oral sedative but fireworks started just as I was about to get out of the car. It wasn’t even dark yet. They ran a bit, then it slowed down to a trot and finally a huddle in the corner of the arena with some other horses from across the fence. We waited until the fireworks had pretty much finished before we left with the horses all safe and sound.

It’s now Thursday and we have had fireworks every single night. I put them back in the arena on Sunday night just in case. They will go back in there this weekend as well. We are expecting more.

Fox won’t go back into the paddock he was injured in. He is now living behind his pony friend which is a pain getting in and out of but he feels safe there. I’m looking for new grazing. My partner who has only been there once before and didn’t get out of the car, started pointing out how badly made this place is. What Fox hurt himself on, a bolt that was used to make the arena and left sticking out, was an accident waiting to happen. I can’t believe I didn’t see it. All the bolts are cut off now but there are so many more hazards. Some of them aren’t that noticeable, but I am on high alert and don’t feel safe there. I am even considering going back to where I was before I’m that desperate to get out!

Fox is healing well. His wound is getting cold hosed three times a day and he is finally eating his antibiotics after they are mixed with apples and carrots and lots of molasses. Very bad for him but better than him getting an infection.

I do have photos but I haven’t even looked at them. I don’t know that anyone else would want to see them either but I’ll post them if anyone requests.

My tooth is all fixed too. Thanks ACC.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Guy Fawkes

I forgot all about Guy Fawkes last night till I heard the first fireworks go off. I hope everyone’s horsies got through it all ok!

I went to check on the horses at about 10.30. Fox and his pony friend were fine, though in the morning I saw Fox had a hole in his boot. I’m very glad he had them on otherwise it would have been a hole in his leg I think. I’ve had to fix it with good old duct tape for now.

I had to rescue one of the other horses who’s cover had got all tangled. She was running back and forth with the cover only around her neck and dragging underneath her. She was a very good girl though and stood pretty still for me to get it off. I checked her over as best I could but couldn’t see anything. She was also quite distressed as she was a ways from the other horses and I was a bit worried that another fright would send her into the fence. I called the owner of the facility as I didn’t have a number for the girl who owns her. He didn’t really seem that interested. A bit peeved that I had interrupted his sleep in fact. It was quite late when I called but that’s what you get when you own a boarding facility. I mean she was ok but I would have thought he would have called her owner to let her know. Initially I felt a bit bad and then I thought no, I did the right thing. It’s what I would have wanted someone to do for me if that was my horse. The owner thanked me in the morning.

One of the other horses had also done a bit of damage to a healing wound on her leg. Looks like the scab has come off so there was a bit of blood but nothing major. I didn’t see that till the morning.

Grrrrrr fireworks. I can’t wait till they’re banned!

Back to Fox. The swelling was up again in the afternoon but not nearly as much as it had been previously. The physio said it was looking really good and if the swelling is still down on Saturday I can give Fox some more room. She also said we should be able to start doing stuff soon. Yay!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm Back!!

Sorry for the really long delay in posting. I have been so busy with exams and Fox that I have just had no time. But exams are all done now (phew) so I had better give you guys an update.

Fox has been just so patient. I am super impressed. He does have the odd moment when he stamps and tosses his head with impatience. He’s right, it does get bloody boring. We are still not handwalking so the only exercise he gets is his walk from the paddock to the hose. No fun for a big active horse like Fox.

Our current routine goes like this.

Mornings: Cold hosing 20 minutes
Homeopathic remedies: Ruta, Rustox which we are stopping tomorrow and Argmet
Handgrazing if I’ve got time

Evenings: Tennis ball work, massage and stretches. We do front leg stretches, lateral neck stretches and belly lifts.
Homeopathic remedies: Arnica, Calciflox and Symph

He wears his Back on Track boots all the time now. They get swapped to his front legs during the time I’m there and then back on the hind legs.

The farrier came on Monday. He is an amazing guy. Talks and talks and talks in really technical terms so I struggle to keep up. He also is Scottish so that doesn’t help with the understanding. He diagnosed the damage as being to the cruciate ligament which is part of the stay mechanism in the fetlock joint. I’ve tried to do a search for a pic on the net but can’t find anything. (Before you ask why I trust this guys diagnosis, he’s a highly qualified farrier from the UK who specialises in remedial work. He trained with some of the top farriers there who write books on anatomy. He also went to vet school.)

Fox’s feet were a mix of good and bad. The old farrier had given them an ok shape but messed up the balance. Especially in that left hind. New farrier said we could try and keep him barefoot for now which I was really pleased with. Though if things don’t progress like they should, we may have to resort to shoes. New farrier rolled the toes more and really worked on that left hind to bring it level. The front hooves look completely different and the left hind looks so much better. I will try and post the pics in the next few days.

We also had our second appointment with the physio on Tuesday. The first thing she said was ,wow, he’s looking much better. His muscles weren’t so tight he wasn’t nearly as lame and his bum had levelled out a bit too. It was so good to hear feedback that what I was doing was making a difference cause sometimes it really doesn’t feel like it does. She worked Fox all over and boy did he enjoy it! She found a spot of tightness along his back on each side, Fox would stamp his foot and turn round as if to point to where it was he wanted her to rub when she wasn’t going hard enough. We both had a good laugh he was so cute. He tried to give me a groom too when she was massaging him. She then got out a vibrating machine thing and worked on the fill in his legs. It helps to release the lymph fluid and increase circulation. We have another session of that tonight.

This morning Fox was feeling GOOD! He did some airs at the end of the lead, freaked the dogs out. I swapped his boots to the front legs and went to hose the injured leg. Normally the swelling is so obvious I don’t have to think about which leg it is. This time I couldn’t tell. There was absolutely no sign of any swelling at all. Nothing. His legs felt tighter that they EVER have. I cold hosed anyway. The swelling has been up and down (not this much down before) so I’m trying really hard not to get my hopes up. But it means we are on the right track. We’re doing the right things and that is so good to know. I’m hoping that the swelling will still be down when the physio comes tonight cause I would really like to get her expert opinion on what’s going on.

So I’m feeling excited but trying very hard not to!