Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Light Lunging"

 (Angry mare says , get her out of stall now)

Yesterday I had to jet-set east of the mountains for a meeting, but managed to head straight to the barn after the plane put its wheels back down on the Seattle side of the state.  A day of travel and down time to think about our next steps for treatment, had me excited to get Princess P all ready for her really exciting boring repetitive vet visit.  By the time I made it out there, the barn was totally abandoned, so I figured that I would give her a nice, slow (calm) lunge and then hose her down and make her nice and shiny for her big field trip.

She seemed a little agitated while I groomed her, but I figured that was just because no one else was walking around the barn, so whenever I disappeared to collect something (bridle, boots, my gloves.. why can't I ever grab everything I need in one trip to the tack room??) she got all annoyed and pawed and snorted and danced around. 

I hummed along merrily, totally thrilled to have quiet barn time when the sun was actually out and booted the beast up. 

P was READY.  we got to the ring, and she immediately took the liberty of beginning her own lunge circle when really we were supposed to be calmly walking to the other end of the ring so that I could stand in the sunlight.  (red flag).

Then when I clucked lightly for her to walk on, we had a LOVELY halt-canter depart which caught me slightly off guard and result in a nice lunge line burn on my left hand (through my gloves).

hoo boy, what a start.

She was a bitch.  a raging, full heat, hyper, psycho bitch.  A leaping, jumping, galloping, obstinate, stubborn, crazy, eyeballs bugging out of her head bitch.  I was cringing - alternating between pulling her in and trying to get her attention (make the crazy mare slow down) and trying to keep her on as large a circle as possible so as to reduce the insane strain on her joints, the chance of her falling on herself, oh and to maintain some semblance of groundwork manners.  It took about 15 minutes before I could get her to trot nicely on a consistently large circle and stretch her face down, but we got there.  It certainly wasn't the calm, light trot work I was hoping for, and she also managed to get some really nice little flakes of hoof to come loose (idiot). But I was happy to get the beast out of her stall. she needed it.

When I finally took her back up to the barn for her bath, one of the grooms popped her head in and said "oh, hey just so you know she didn't get turned out today" 

Gee, really?? I couldn't tell. (have you seen my mare, her veins are literally popping out of her skin..)

then she added, "well, she pulled the fence down yesterday, so we didn't want to put her back in the small paddocks till we fixed it, and a pony camp was occupying everything else."


Mare, really.. let's have a chat.  This is unacceptable behavior, especially given that you are on enough tryptophan to dull an angry rhino.  Oh, and remember your compressed spinal cord?? the thing that's supposed to make you have bad balance and fall over easy?  Oh right, that. Stop acting like an idiot until its fixed!  thx.

Our bath was uneventful.  She seemed to know she was in trouble, so she tolerated everything, including a blast of water to the face.  At least I had that to be thankful for. 

So my plan today is to head out of work a little bit early, bubble wrap the mare, navigate through the pony camp and shove her back in the trailer.  I mentioned that we are videotaping a full neuro exam to supplement her x-rays for the specialist... I'm crossing my fingers that we get to do that when she's dropped off so that a) I can watch and b) I can use my camera and ensure that I get a copy. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Countdown is on...

So, T-2 days until P returns for her second Myelogram.. (Insert angry sigh here..).  She's doing great, which makes me all the more annoyed we're repeating this process. 

Small successes in the last week include:
  • Improved attitude - I think she's responding REALLY nicely to the "tranquility" supplement I threw her on.. ( 
  • We look pretty. (very clean)
  • We haven't demolished our new stall (finally moved out of the crater, so as to prevent additional destruction).  So far Miss P hasn't annihilated her new surroundings.  plus the one stall move has improved her view slightly and has more light.
  • Ground Manners - we've been doing lots of groundwork (fun!), in an attempt to be perfectly behaved for our videotaped nero exam.  Trotting has improved... we can now trot for 2 minutes at a time without getting all excitable. 
  • Hooves still look good! we need a trim (I'm investigating barefoot farriers who specialize in this..) but I'm really pleases that they haven't been splitting.  Plus, her sole looks GREAT and our front frogs are big and wide and lovely. 
 Small "Setbacks" include:
  • Inability to focus on ANYTHING aside from the new rescue gelding next door.  This includes a constant nose over the wall, attempting to climb the wall, and constant nickering.
  • in SERIOUS heat. this might be contributing to the gelding obsessions, but its definitely contributing to our squealing.
  • Total groundwork fail.  Yesterday while working on our calm jogging, P did some lovely aires above ground, which nearly decapitated a trainer and manged to totally terrify a few parents.  She is really good at keeping her head by me and the lead loose, so that's nice.  But I do wish she'd keep her toes on the ground.
All in all, we're doing well.  I just heard that the second procedure should only run about 40% of the first round, so that's helpful and not too terrible.

More info later!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Round Two... FIGHT

Wow, sorry for the radio silence.  Work has been crazy/I've been traveling which means I can't procrastinate at my desk by writing blog posts.  I can't believe there are people who actually blog "on their own time."  I swear, if I didn't pay my bills, do my shopping and write my blog at work... none of those things would ever get done!

But I digress...

Myelogram round 2 is scheduled.  July 1st.  P gets to go a night early again on the 30th, then hopefully it'll go smoothly again and she'll come home on the 2nd just in time for the holiday weekend.   Oh horse.  I'm sorry.

We have to give it at least 2 weeks so that a) Pias needle wounds heal, b) she recovers completely from the anesthesia and c) her spinal fluid is normal before we freak it out again.

I'm taking comfort in the fact that things went so smoothly the first time, and I'm hoping its indicative of her general response to the dye and anesthesia.  Thank god she didn't have any questionable allergic reactions that we would have to anticipate...

They've assured me that the cost will be "less" than before, but I still don't really know if that's $10 less, or $1000 less.  Who knows. I'm so frustrated and annoyed at the fact they didn't get this right the first time that it doesn't even matter..  All i know is that I keep sticking my grubby little hands in the "new saddle" jar to steal funds for fun things like extra myelograms instead. What fun!

Even lamer is the fact that the "imaging" software reader for P's xrays and first myelogram won't flipping work on any single computer owned by me, my techy brother or my company.  So as far as I can tell, none of these images actually exist. 

This week sucks in terms of quality time with the mare.  I'm traveling and stuck in meetings and whatnot most nights, which means that P's nose is going to be COVERED in sticky-ball-treat goo, and her stall isn't going to get its extra cleanings that I like to provide.

Oh, we did get cleared for "light lunging." which was supposed to mean walk trot, but ended up meaning gallop/buck/snort/turn/run/idiot dance for like 20 minutes.  Poor thing, she just wants to work and run. :(

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Good News/Bad News"

This morning after I poured myself some coffee, but before I actually had a chance to drink any of it, I got the follow-up call from my vet regarding the myelogram images.  My first thought was "wow, it's only tuesday - I'm impressed he's had time to talk to Dr. Grant about the images already." My second thought was "wait, why did he just say that he has 'good news/bad news'..."

As far as I can tell there wasn't a lot of opportunity for "good news" per se, maybe some "predictable" news, or possibly some "intriguing" news.. but instead I got what I would consider "interesting" news.

1) the myelogram confirmed a compression on the spinal cord between her C3 and C4 vertebrae.  The x-rays indicated that there was some kyphosis at that joint - and indeed, when Pia's neck is flexed, it is compressing her cord about 30%.
What does this mean? well... a 50% compression requires surgery for sure.  in fact, a 50% compression requires surgery FAST because at 50%, the longer it goes untreated, the more permanent damage is done and even surgery won't restore full function.  At 30%, less catastrophic damage is being done, so timeliness is less imperative.  Surgery can still help, but some people opt not to have it at 30%.  If we do operate and it's successful, it's likely that P would recover much of the damage caused by the compression.
2) The myelogram was "inconclusive" beyond her 5th vertebrae.  I asked what "inconclusive" meant, and was told "not enough information to diagnose."  What "inconclusive" really means, is that not enough isotope dye dribbled down to her lower neck in order to get a clear picture of what's going on through all of her massive muscles.
What does this mean?  well... basically it means that even though we don't think there are any other compression sites in her lower neck, we don't KNOW that there aren't any other compression sites in her lower neck.  And before we surgerize her and stuff her full of metal to hold her neck together, it's good to know that you're working with the lights on.  Basically we have to wait two weeks for Pia's raging isotope-dye-hangover to subside, then we get the pleasure of repeating this entire experience.  Because we have to.
So... basically, my takeaway is - WTF, are you serious.

I get that these things happen, and of course I want to do whatever needs to be done in order to ensure that we've got as much information as possible, but still.  Hard not to feel dejected.  Oh, did I mention that the office manager emailed me the invoice approximately 5 minutes after I hung up the phone? not the best timing as I'm literally looking at doubling a $1500 field trip before we have the info we need. LAME.

However we did talk about what else could be helpful and decided that we'll videotape a full neurological exam before the next myelogram and send that clip to Dr. Grant for consult along with the second set of films. 

 Pia says, please stop stabbing needles in the top of my head now, k thx.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Well apparently Pia pulled out of the anesthesia and everything just dandily and my Doc said that there was no reason for her to stay the weekend.  I felt a smidge of guilt about dumping her back at home (since I had just spent several days convincing myself it would be better for her to be at the clinic), but ulitamtely I was glad to hear that there were no reservations whatsoever about letting miss mare check out.

It's a good thing we decided to get her, since when we pulled in to pick her up at 4:30pm on a Friday, she was the only one left in the hospital barn.  I'm not saying that P is codependent, but she was all sorts of riled up about being alone and had done quite the number on her lovely (large) box stall in an attempt to dig/climb/chew her way out to get closer to her friends. Apparently the codependent princess had only been alone about an hour, but she was raging hot, soaked in sweat and popping veins out everywhere.  I'm glad she wasn't pacing like that all weekend. I mean, it's a great regime for weight loss, which isn't a tragic thing for Pia at the moment, but not necessary, and probably not super comfortable for her after the whole spinal tapping process.

Once we were outside walking around, P calmed right down, which made me feel better about her anxiety stemming from her social issues and not from the pain/aftermath of her brain being shot full with radioactive dye.  :)

(P's four star accommodations... If I were her I might have faked a seizure in order to stay longer, though I'm sure she didn't appreciate the padded surgical suite as much I did....)

Anyway, I conned the office manager into giving me another CD of Pia's x-rays, and while I watched her load the images on her computer, my machine still refuses to show me the pics under any circumstances.  So that fight continues, but presumably we'll be able to see those someday.  Also, hopefully the myelogram images.  But those apparently were too much to ask for.

Once P cooled off I wrapped her up and got her ready for the ride home.  Aside from her sweat, she looked pretty good.  Just a neck puncture for her IV site, and a very close shave on her bridle path/crest to accommodate the spinal tap.  Cried a mmall tear for the fact that they removed some of her (already) meager forelock, but other than some dried blood and bruising, her head looked great.  Our only complication came from the fact that Pia instantly wanted to scratch her head/tap site on EVERYTHING.  Me, the trailer, her hay net, her divider, the drop down window, me, the trailer, me.... you know.

The enthusiastic itching made it slightly challenging to get her situated in the trailer, but the Boy helped and we got her locked and loaded.  Smooth easy ride, and a quick unload at home to a clean stall and comfortable surroundings. 

I did feel a little bad about going out of town for saturdya and sunday, but P looked fine and I left my number should anything seem funky. Fortunately there was no change in her "perfect" state, and today I go back out to pat her on the face and give her some time to run the ring.  Her poll area is supposed to be tender for the next week or so, but I"m crossing my fingers that we'll get cleared for light hacking and trail riding.  I'm feeling rested and relaxed after a weekend at my cabin, and hopefully P is feeling the same. 

xrays, check.
myelogram, check....

Now onwards with a firm diagnosis and committing to whether or not surgery is our final decision....

ps- I'm sure if P saw the sunshine and water up at the cabin this weekend.. she would have understood if I forgot to come home.. sigh. maybe someday she'll go for a visit and a swim up there with me. :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Myelogram Success...

Yesterday I grabbed P, shoved her in the trailer (literally shoved, that mare is thick). and took her to the clinic for her myelogram (er, spaaah) treatment.  She objected to her leg wraps, but loaded like a dream and hauled just dandy.  Once we got there, she walked around like she owned the place and settled nicely into a hospital stall.  I like the fact that she's an easy traveler.  She peed, pooped, ate and drank within about ohhhh two minutes of being in her stall.  Good indications for any possible shows or clinics or whatever in the future.  I literally caught myself thinking "dang, if we were hauling in for an event right now, I would be feeling really good about leaving her to go get dinner and think about our dressage ride.."

There was a brief moment of disappointment when my "reality brain" clicked back on and told me to shut up and just hope for a good, easy spinal tap and myelogram...  Not nearly as fun or exciting as thinking about future plans, but definitely more pragmatic and necessary given the current schedule of events.

P made friends with her neighbor (a large sedated gelding in for some hoof surgery) and immediately set about pinning her ears at the Jack Russel puppies that were scampering around in front of her stall.

I'm out of town this weekend, which means if Pia isn't ready to come home on Friday, she'll have to stay until Monday. Consequently I had to pack for a possible five night stay and brought a few more "supplies" than they were expecting for a two, maybe three night visit - Sheet, Blanket, Treats, Grain Bins (a whole TOWER of meals..), Beet Pulp and Lotion for her lucky-knees just in case the skin gets dry... 

Over-protective much???     Maybe.  But the poor thing is getting her spinal fluid drained and the least I could do was make sure she doesn't get itchy dry skin... right??

Anyway, once everyone seemed annoyed that I was still lurking around and I had clearly run out of questions I kissed the mare and headed home. 

I didn't hear anything from the Vet until today about 1pm, when he called to say that the princess was all done, and awake and eating and drinking again (surprise, surprise..).  Apparently it all went really well- he got some great images and already sent them to the surgeon for consult.  I asked what he thought about her recovery and he seemed fairly confident that Pia should be ready to come home tomorrow, which made me relax a little.

Then he mentioned that he just likes to keep them because "sometimes they have massive seizures" as a reaction to the whole spinal tap process. 

Seizures. Neat.  Hmm.

Something tells me that I would rather pay for three extra days at the fancy vet clinic this weekend while I'm gone, than pick her up and take her home where she could seize for hours before anyone noticed... Not that I have any issues with the care she gets at home, but still.  I mean, if complications or issues are at all still a reasonable possibility, that mare is extending her vacation and staying for the weekend, no buts about it.

For the moment, I'm trying to enjoy the fact that she is upright and breathing after full anesthesia.  That seems like something to celebrate.


At long last! pictures! It's been so hard to remember to document Miss P without being under saddle that it literally took Danielle driving through a rainstorm to bring her camera and snap some pics... Here's a couple highlights from P's photo shoot the other night...

First we got a bath.  And we were really well behaved until we had to clean our sticky-ball-beet-pulp-crusted face.

Better....for the moment at least.

Then we got to dry while playing with a new delicious sticky treat... (thanks Super-Mom)

Our nose looks MASSIVE.  I'm sure the camera is adding about 8-12" of extra face in this one...

Also, if we take pictures like this, our butt looks almost as muscley as our neck.  Neat Trick.  And, I might be mistaken, but if you zoom in you can see some hints of DAPPLES! Cuter, I hope those pop out this summer..

After a lovely dinner of fajitas and other unhealthy items, we returned to the mare to tuck her in for the night.  I thought she was being just lovey-dovey

But I think she was really just trying to get in on the fajita action... (ps- not sure I realized exactly how bright this sweater is... wow).

Finally P decided that her new toy was way more entertaining delicious than any of us standing around in her stall.. 

All tucked in, clean, soft, barefooted and ready for her trip to the vet. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Last night P and I had the pleasure of her Super-Mom (/Danielle) coming up with her cute fiance for a visit.  Pia was also lucky enough to get not one, but two new treat-ball-things and that bath that she narrowly escaped on Sunday.

Sudsy, soapy, significantly cleaner mare is looking hot to trot for her vet (err I mean spaaaaaah) visit this afternoon.  The farrier finally came and pulled her shoes and trimmed her toes.  they were SO LONG that she's trimmed down to the nail holes which looks like it's offering plenty of opportunity for chips and cracks as they flake a little. Not ideal, but if we have to re-shoe after the vet, no biggie. 

Mostly I was entertained when the groom on duty asked politely for someone else to feed Pia since she's been a scary-mean-nasty-stall-dragon and (apparently) causing problems at feeding time.  Now, I know she's been grumpier than usual, but I haven't seen anything that warrants sliding her feed into like a prison inmate, so I cheerfully grabbed her bucket of mush and went to feed.

If there's one thing I can say, its that this mare has BALLS.  I opened her door to immediately pinned ears, bared teeth and some totally inappropriate half rear bouncy crap.  Oh, mare, wrong move.  Unfortunately for you, your super-mom was watching and immediately horrified with your crappy, bitchy behavior.  It took Danielle approximately 10 seconds to grab a whip swish it at her twice and put P in her place (which happens to be the back corner of her stall, standing quietly, with ears pricked.

Holy hell.  Nice move.  also... extremely good to know.  needless to say, she didn't pull any crap or pin her ears after that.  Alpha mare nothing... she respects that whip (and obviously, Danielle).

We had a fun dinner and there are pictures to post, but for the moment I'm off to the barn to bubble wrap Pia and ship her off to the vet, I mean spaaaah, for the rest of the week.  Her myelogram is scheduled for tomorrow.  I think I'm mentally prepared :)

more later!

Monday, June 7, 2010


It has come to my attention that all of my animals are fairly badly behaved.  Adorable, yes. But spoiled and bratty.

Yesterday I went to go see the mare with the intent of scrubbing her clean for her trip to the spa (/vet), but it was so gross and rainy, I spared her the soak and instead just groomed her up and pinched her face (lovingly).

I took the dog with me, and even though she doesn't really look like a "barn dog," Maisy is usually content just sitting in the tack room or on a bale of hay or in a stall.  And she does a damn good job of not getting stepped on/covered in mud/or hunting for poop.

Yesterday, apparently was a total exception.  A nice new boarder was chatting with me about vets and farriers and the general "how did you grow up horsey" getting to know you schpeal... apparently I was totally immersed in conversation when I looked up and realized that my dog was circling around like she was about to poop in the hay.  I yelled and chased her out of the hay - and into the mud. 

Great. mud up to her little blond armpits. perfect.

Just as I was moving to pick her up and remove her from the tiger mountain tar pits, Pia decided it was time to untie herself and start wandering toward the hayloft, but don't worry, she kept her lead rope in her mouth.  Like a little walk she was taking herself on.  REALLY MARE.

So I dropped the dog, grabbed the horse, reattached her to the wall and returned to my conversation. Until the dog darted INTO the arena (not really bad except she has no concept that legs and hooves are attached to the giant head and nose) and she starts scampering around like an idiot and refusing to be caught.  spectacular. 

Just about the time I retrieve the dog and LEASH her to a post, Pia decides that she is entirely over standing in the aisle and begins pawing/snorting/hiccuping/biting at anything within pawing/snorting/hiccuping/biting distance. 

Bad children. bad, dirty, sticky, muddy children.

I think P is starting to get fed up at the no riding and restricted turnout game.  I don't blame her but it isn't exactly making me look forward to the recovery process...

Maisy has no excuses, aside from her total lack of survival skills and brain.

Good thing they are both cute as hell.

Friday, June 4, 2010


I was so excited to get out to the barn to love on P and check our her new barefoot toes and take photographic evidence of their shape/condition/etc. 

But, of course, I whipped my camera out of my bag, only to realize that its completely dead from the east coast swing, and I'm sick of taking crappy pictures of the mare with my iPhone.

THEN, I went to grab Pia out of her stall and examine the new feet thinking "oh well, I'll just clean her up and take pictures on Friday" when I realized that she still had shoes on.  I thought it was possible my email/texts  got to S after farrier was out there, but then I looked at her hind feet, which are ALL TOE. ALL TOE. no trimming has been done.

My heart sank a little since the P is now 3 weeks overdue (don't get me started), and we're trying to shorten her hind toes anyway (remember the "flipper" diagnosis??).  Plus, between the Wobblers and her not getting ridden her back is all sorts of tight and locked up and I'm sure that poking around and extra long feet is NOT helping our situation. 

So now I'm all atwitter.  Current farrier (who is GREAT if he ever shows up) is totally MIA again, the other farrier at the barn trims everyone really tight and they look like crippled little quarter horses from the 80's, and my farrier from back in the day when I had other horses is out of the area. ARGH. 

So, now the hunt is on for a) someone I trust. b) someone who is good and c) someone willing to come all the way out just for one horse.  I've left messages this morning but I'm starting to feel like I'm neglecting my horse and its making me nauseous.  Plus I'm anxious.  Those shoes need to be gone by Wednesday when the mare will be hooves up on a table getting her pictures taken of her spinal cord. 
Because the thought of that isn't scary enough for next week... I'm sure I'm overreacting, and just feeling anxious and the need to get everything as ready as possible, but still, THREE WEEKS.  Poor mare face.  She needs her toes done. now.

Back out tonight. Pia needs more food (as always), and I just want to love on her.  Also, just a heads up - If I am able to watch the myelogram at all, I might actually throw up at the sight of my horse going down under anesthesia.  I've only seen it once, and I'm pretty sure I didn't handle it well then either...

If nothing else, this weekend will bring some serious grooming time, a nice walk on the trails and (hopefully) new toes.

Happy Weekend!
Related Posts with Thumbnails