Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Mare!!

The deed is done.  Papers are signed and money has been sent (cringe).  But the really exciting result is that this year The Boy and I get to shout "HAPPY NEW MARE!!!!!" at each other and then kiss.  (aw).

I'm so glad that he's as excited about this as I am.  Although he did point out that it's very likely that it will be impossible to fit our two (two!!) mares in one (uno) three-horse trailer.  I'm not sure where the fail is, but that's some messed up math.  (god bless him for enjoying us, (ahem) athletically built  ladies)

So there you have it.  I'm very much looking forward to what 2012 has to offer.  P is growing and tackling new challenges, and Prairie will have her own goals to be set.  The thought of having them both under the same roof eventually is thrilling and hopefully one thing we get to see in the coming year.

The Boy and I are off for the holiday weekend to visit some friends and spend NYE at a bull riding event (YAHOO).  I can guarantee that our drive home on Monday will be by way of Prairie's barn for a nose pat and hopefully a ride.  Then, Wednesday is a trip to see Queen P! 

Now to try and work for the next few hours and not spend hours amassing new toys and treats and boots and bits for the mare....

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Things are zooming right along.  I'm thankful that I seem to have made good long lists early, because at this point the purchase process is picking up speed and feels a bit like a whirlwind.

Yesterday I got a call that a vet I trust (and is a rock star at PPE's) was down near BBM's barn and could squeeze in an exam for me.  I intended to hold the pre-purchase off for a few days, as I wanted to be there - but I'd rather have a vet I trust to be thorough, than have me there with someone I don't know.

We did pretty extensive PPE (complete with extended neuro exam).  I'm thrilled to say that BBM passed her physical with flying colors, no soreness anywhere, no restrictions on her range of motion, nothing unusual anywhere.  Her teeth are good (but need a float in 6 months), eyes are great, skin good, feet fabulous, muscle tone, etc. etc....

But more than being in good general health, BBM deserves a god damn crown for passing her flexions with flying colors:

LF: 0
RF: 0
LH: 0
RH: 0

Love zeros on a flexion.  LOVE THEM.
Then we went to imaging -  x-rays of both hocks to compare with older films and also to have as a baseline going forward.  We also got a snapshot of her LF, where she had the infected splinter thing.  Everything looks clean as a whistle, but I am having them reviewed by my vet as a double check.
Just to be over the top conservative, I opted to do an ultrasound on the LF to make super sure that there was no indication of any weird suspensory issues from the splinter that were somehow not apparent in the x-rays.  Ultrasound also looked clear, so I'm feeling pretty comfortable about that.

As scary as it is to say it type it "out loud,"  it looks like we might actually get this horse. Also scary? the seller "really wants" to wrap this up by year end.. which is... uh 72 hours away.  It's totally doable and not that far off what I was initially thinking, but it does accelerate the "holy crap what size of EVERYTHING does this beast wear" conversation.

I'm just guessing, but I'd wager a pretty good dollar that there's no way in hell BBM's giant head will fit any of my P sized bridles.  I'd also wager that BBM's big German back would make P's wardrobe look like doll clothes.

The tack-whore in me is literally quivering with the thought of a "justified" shopping spree...

Other thoughts that are worth thinking about include "where does BBM go?" and "have you even found a new place to bring P home to yet?"

Fortunately I have GREAT answers for both questions.

First - BBM stays where she is for the next two months.  I really like the trainer she is with (aside from ANOTHER 3 hour drive which isn't in the same direction as P...).  The real kicker though, is that full board and full training is $850 a month.  That's nothing to sneeze at, but it's cheaper than P's summer camp, and it's only about $100 more than I was paying for board only before..  That, my friends, is what I can consider a good deal.

As for when we are back from Africa? Well, I finally found a barn that I'm excited about.  It's close (20 min), it's got great turnout (20 acres of large pastures + dry paddocks) and it's cheap (relatively), at only $450 a month for full care.  There is one teeeny catch, which is that the farm lacks an indoor (a veritable requirement for wet northwest weather), but there are big lovely indoors just 2 properties down that charge a modest ring fee for usage.

I am thrilled about the turnout and the idea of having both mares at the same facility for less than P's summer camp tuition. Also, there are tons of trails and it's cheap enough that I won't feel guilty if one of the girls gets a month off from working here or there. 

So, that's my Wednesday Short-Term-Plan.  Aside from making my visa card nervous I feel pretty good about it and fairly organized.  Or, as organized as I can feel with a pending pony purchase and a wedding in 17 days.

Ok fine. I feel crazy, but it's a good crazy derived from wonderful, exciting things.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Making My List.... and Checking It Twice(ish)

Thank you for all of your comments, everyone's points are exceptionally valid ones (specifically with regard to having enough time and avoiding another bout of Wobbler's....)

As you can imagine, the last couple of days have been filled with last some minute holiday shopping, as well as endless conversations with The Boy about the Big Black Mare as well as repeated views of all our videos of her.

Currently, we are still moving forward.  hoping to schedule a pre-purchase exam in the coming week, or immediately after the new year.

Here's why:


Definitely one of the biggest concerns, I'm feeling pretty good about this one.  Aside from the obvious lack of time between now and the wedding (20 days!!!), and then the extended absence for the Africa trip, my life is pretty flexible.  I've stepped back from some main responsibilities with our company, and have been able to work a little less (and from home!).  That let's me get up, work out, clean the house, then head to the office in the late am and ditch out in time to watch the tail end of Ellen while I start dinner.  It's the sort of schedule that makes me crave having a full barn to eat up some of those evening hours (as opposed to mediocre talk shows and consuming baked goods).

Even when P comes back, I think I'll be in a good spot with time.  I don't have illusions of campaigning both of them heavily, but I do think I'll have enough time to love, hack and play with both of them adequately.  Frankly I'm more concerned about finding a facility that has the acres and acres of turnout that I've been dreaming of.


SprinklerBandit makes a very fair point in citing the fact that I'm not exactly on a roll with animal health right now... ALTHOUGH, I continue to wonder whether P even has neurological issues.  She's improving so much that I wonder if she was just locked up from trying to correct herself...
As for Maisy?  Well... Maisy definitely has something going on.  She's always dragged her hind end around like a walrus, but its not like her sole purpose in life is excelling athletically, so it's never been an issue before.. Current theory on the dog is that her spinal cord is severely bruised as the result of falling/tripping/running into something? Current plan is lots of rest and lots of treats (tough Rx to follow..)

As for a new horse? regardless of the horse, you can bet your last dollar that  a field test for propoceptic deficiencies will be part of that vet check.


We seem to be good.  I don't want to dip into the savings for anything that costs more than Big Black Mare, but in terms of monthly upkeep, I'm comfortable with putting another beast on the bankroll.  We'd still have a good vet-bill cushion and wouldn't be beyond our means with monthly bills... I wouldn't even consider another animal (regardless of size) if I didn't think I could afford the "worst case" potential bills, - though, in related news, if we end up with Big Black Mare, she will be insured.

Initial X-Rays...

BBM has a big library of films to her name.  She had extensive films taken in Germany prior to her inspection since she was gunning for her Elite status.  I had them sent to my vet, who commented that she hadn't seen films that clear and sharp in a long time.  Apparently German x-ray machines are.. intense.
Mare has beautiful films of all her joints and (yahoo) even a full set of her spine.  Not that it *totally* would allow us to rule out Wobblers... but it's nice to see well spaced vertebrae and clean shoulders.  The only blip on the radar screen was a small bone chip in one of her hocks.  Usually that would be cause for alarm, but it was actually taken out when BBM had a deep splinter removed from her front leg and she was going to need some stall rest anyway.

Also nice to have? follow-up x-rays showing a healed, healthy front limb after that splinter came out...

All in all really nice, complete health records with nothing too scary on them.

So where's that bring us to?

The pre-purchase.

I'd like to get films of that splinter leg up front (and make sure nothing has gotten weird) as well as shots of both hocks to make sure nothing has changed significantly from her Elite-worthy films.  Also, assuming they are clean, it's always nice to have a flip book of clean, clean, clean films in case we end up selling her down the road.

I'm still not trying to think too far down the road, but if we seal the deal, I'd likely leave BBM where she is for January and Feb in full training, then look to bring her closer to home when we get back from Africa... seems like the responsible thing to do...

Still planning to head up north to see those Geldings on the 30th.  For one thing, something might come crashing down at the vet check, and for another - they are both interesting prospects, although very, very different from BBM.  Never hurts to comparison shop a bit...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Shopping (the kind I like)

I know I"m terribly behind on recent horsey events, but I'm trying to catch up!!!

The most important, nay - most entertaining is definitely the recap of our trip down to see the Big Black Mare last weekend.  I'm so very thankful that The Boy seems to enjoy these horsey escapades.  God bless him for thinking that a 3 hour drive in the rain, punctuated by a pit stop for bad Subway Sandwiches and an hour + standing in a freezing barn sounds like a "fun Sunday."

When we finally pulled in (after a few attempts to find the right driveway, part of me was hoping that there would be some fatal flaw (terrible feet, crooked gaits or something as tragic as a puny forelock or tail...) that would allow my terrified checkbook to breathe a sigh of relief, much as I always hope I will somehow magically prefer the cheaper boots, or knock-off sweater... But, true to my unfortunate nature - once again, I seemed to really enjoy the object of obvious quality. (dammit).

Aside from still being pretty out of shape (and having a bit of her baby belly left), Big Black Mare was adorable.  Great legs, great feet (did I mention she is and always has been barefoot?), and a great disposition.  I pinched and poked and prodded her, with nothing more than a quizzical look from her Giant Eyeballs.  Her Trainer had just gotten back form a weekend away with a few of the hunters in the barn, so Big Black Mare hadn't been ridden in 3 days, which (honestly) is how I prefer to see a horse for the first time.

There was no lunging, just a few laps leading her around the ring at the walk before Trainer got on.  Mare was quiet, but forward.  Striding out and tracking up immediately.  No squeals, no hippity-hopping, no naughtiness at all.  We watched her go for about 15 minutes and aside from looking like a LOT of horse to put together (she is not a tiny mare), she looked great.  Very soft in her working and medium gaits, supple both directions, willing with her leg yields, half passes, shoulder and haunches in..

Then I got on.

She is a BIG lady.  I haven't been on something with that much movement in a long time - and I think it showed.  It took me a bit to get situated and feel like I had actual control of my body, but once I got myself pulled together (mostly), things started falling into place.  Or at least, I stopped inhibiting her trying to be a good girl.

My initial instinct was to clamp down and get her trot to something that felt "manageable" but then I figured out that her "huge, rushing stride" wasn't actually rushing at all... she was just covering some GROUND, and it would be polite of me to stop choking her in the process....

less choking, but still not helping her much...
After about 10 minutes, we were clicking a bit better.  I found some of her buttons and started to get her to swing through her back more (yeah.. more) and she felt pretty awesome. She started tuning into me and we were able to open up and collect as I wished.  She's definitely not in great shape, but then again, neither am I so frequent walk breaks were our friend.
firing on almost all cylinders...(I might be grinning)
By the end, we had run through her paces, obliterated my core muscles - and I had fallen a bit in love (watch out checkbook!!!)
Aside from her lovely gaits, I really enjoyed her temperament.  The entire ride was done without spurs or whip as reinforcement and she goes in a lovely chubby double jointed D ring snaffle...  She likes to put her giant muzzle on you, but she's not mouthy.. no nibbling or hoovering of treats.  (I enjoy that).  She canters on a loose rein, stretches easily, pushes like a locomotive and all in all.. just seems like a sweet mare.

Can you tell I like her?

Before my heart runs away with my money... it's time for a pro/con list:

  • Seems sane.  
  • Moves like a cloud
  • She's on "sale"
  • Sensitive
  • Great Feet
  • Has her Elite status (other people like her x-rays)
  • Proven Broodmare (with pretty babies)
  • Been to a few big shows no problem
  • Never lame, never sick
  • my saddle fits!
  • She's CUTE

  • She's coming 7, with not a lot of training on her
  • Feels a bit like driving a limo
  • Even on sale, she's spendy
  • There's no way she'll fit in my trailer
  • She's out of shape... have to guess what happens when she's in shape..
  • I already have a horse. and P will be PISSED
So, what's happening? I had her old x-rays sent to my vet for review, along with pictures and videos.  So far she's getting passed with flying colors for her movement and soundness, but we'll see what shows up in the films.  Assuming everything looks good, I'll schedule a full pre-purchase (eeeeek) and take some new films so we can compare and see if there are any significant changes.

Then... If that's a flying pass? I think I'll have a hard time walking away.  She's pretty adorable.

I am still trying to get up to Canada next week to see those Geldings... I'd like to see them as a comparison (if nothing else). But The Boy seems pretty stuck on this Big Black Mare too... Thoughts? am I insane???

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

P goes to the Beach

A slightly elaborated version of my day with P last week:

When I pulled into the Farm, P was munching her way through some hay with the rest of the herd.  She seemed comfortable surrounded by everyone, and I was proud to see that she was capable of not being run off her food in the group.

It was also apparent that she has become somewhat of a YAK.  The mare who didn't even justify a body clip last year has grown a veritable yak-coat.  Which, I suppose means that her body is happy, healthy and mostly normal.  However, her ears look ridiculous (although warm) with 3" of pouf coming out of them... lol

Anyway, I made myself some tea and chatted with the farm hand before heading out to the field to find Miss Mare.  I was disappointed to see that instead of munching with the rest of the group, she had moved herself aaaaallll the way to the back of the field where she was gazing longingly at a gray arab gelding across the street.

It appears that this has become part of P's normal routine.  Eat.  Pine.  Eat.  Nap. Pine some more.  Sleep.

She is utterly convinced  that this gray gelding is her soul mate.  (what??).
Anyway, after tromping out to get the beast, confirming that she is not a total Yak, I brought her in, chipped off some of her mud layer and got ready for our beach ride.
Although P has been to the beach a few times now, she still isn't totally certain about it, and her face in the trailer as we got there was priceless
"this place smells like salty dead things"
 I couldn't really blame her.  We specifically waited for low tide in order to have a bit more room on the beach, but that luxury comes with a rather aromatic trade off...
I think she was looking for whales...
 P was alert, but calm while we tacked up. She seems rather reliant on her buddies still, but as long as they are close, she allows herself to really relax and drink in her surroundings.  Herd-bound? yes.  But right now the theory is that she has to really learn to be in the herd (and not pine after the street-gelding) in order to get the sort of relationship skills that will help her trust me in the future...

Of all the things that were surprising to me during our ride, legging up (sans air-vest) from the ground, without help on pavement was one thing I never really expected to do on her.  Not that anything in that sentence is remarkable on its own, but they are all indicative to how much more relaxed and stable the mare is, along with how much my own nerves have quieted about her....

The ride was uneventful.  P took it like a champ.  Smelling scary piles of wood and seaweed, bravely putting her nose on anything that was questionable, and most importantly - Continuing to stride out and stay forward for the whole time.
Once again, chilly temps and gloves had a negative impact on my iphone photog skills...
 I chose not to pick a fight about getting in the water, although I think I would next time.  I still wasn't totally comfortable in gauging how long P's current "fuse" is, but it felt like she was handling herself so well, I'd rather log a happy, productive ride, then worry about accomplishing too much.

All in all, I was thrilled.  Thrilled that the beast is happily progressing, thrilled to be on a beach with my mare, and thrilled to be able to spend a day doing nothing but patting my furry, mud covered beast.  It reinforced my current thought that even if P stays a "trail horse" (though I doubt she will forever), I definitely still want her to be my trail horse.  She's so cool :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Beach Ride!

Those are my horses ears with the Pacific Ocean just beyond them.

Not a bad view for a Wednesday afternoon...

I'll get a full update here later, but P and I had a super fantastic time together yesterday, which was punctuated by a nonchalant ride down the beach complete with boats and ducks and dogs.
Also, I learned she likes seaweed.  lots, and lots of seaweed.

Happy Weekends and a full report on Monday!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On Our Feet

Well, after a long day, and some semi-panicked phone calls in the evening to the vet in order to find out if my dog "was even still living,"  Miss Maisy is up and in as fine form as ever (minus a patch of hair above her tail, she's so embarrassed..)


The neurologist was super friendly, informative and very straight forward.  Maisy apparently has a HUGE amount of fluid around a couple vertebrae that is causing more of a compression on her spine than Miss P has.
(dog - internal view).
No wonder she walks like a walrus!!!

The good news is that apparently  Maisy doesn't display the typical conformation deficiencies that most frenchies do, so that's nice to know.

What we leaned is that the ataxia is being caused by the fluid, but we haven't determined is what exactly is causing the fluid to gather...  Our options are basically one of the following:
1) Trauma (a thwack, smack, or severe twisting of the spine)
2) Infection (meningitis or something similar)
3) Cancer (wah).

In order to rule out #2, I authorized a spinal tap to analyze the fluid, which we should hear back on today or tomorrow.

#3 is unlikely, (and expesive to diagnose) so we're moving forward with treatment for #1 and will circle back to #3 if we don't see any improvement in the rather near term.

So Miss Maisy is on some low dose steroids and seriously restricted movement. No playing, no running, no stairs, no jumping onto the couch, NOTHING. She's to be carried to her lawn, peed, and returned to her bed for the next two weeks.
Enjoying a brief moment of freedom for breakfast, and a chilly back.
 She's going to be so disappointed, especially because frolicking in Christmas wrapping is among her favorite annual joys...

The one thing that I still don't have a lot of clarity on is how this explains both the long-term proprioceptic deficiencies (toe pointing, leg dragging) and the more recent hind end lameness.  The fact that she's always pointed her toes and dragged herself around like a walrus would indicate to me that this fluid has nearly always been there.. but it doesn't indicate why it would now show itself with the progressive lameness in her left hind.

Dr. Neurologist didn't really have an answer for that, though I refer back to P's initial vet who said, "well, if you couldn't tell where your legs were, you'd probably twist your ankle or tweak your back eventually too."

So, until I get more info, I'm not going to worry about it too much.  The one possibility that Dr. Neuro suggested was that the lameness was being caused by increased pressure on the cord (from an increase in the fluid) which is something we would like to be able to eventually explain.

But for now, one step at a time as we isolate the variables and a big sigh of relief for an easy round of anesthesia.

On the Horizon? a few horsey packed days:
Tomorrow is a much needed visit to P
Friday is my first (gasp) Dressage lesson in what feels like forever.
And Sunday is a trip to see that big black mare!  
All very fun and exciting things...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Waiting on the MRI, and more shopping...

Dropped the pup off nice and early this morning for her MRI.   She's so darn cute.  And for the record, this vet facility is TOP NOTCH.  Some small animal vet clinics just give me the heebie-jeebies, but this place is clean, doesn't smell like terrified animal (read: Spit and cat piss) and the whole experience is pro from start to finish... So I'm feeling about as I can when there's a snub nosed doggy under anesthesia....

Clearly needing a distraction, my shopping perusal continues.  Here's another guy I'm liking and might go see in the next few weeks  He's just over the boarder in Canada.. He seems to be a little more over his back than the mare I like - plus he's only 4.  (also he seems to like jumping... always a bonus)

Monday, December 12, 2011

This has to be a joke.

I can't remember if I've blogged about this or not, so in my wedding addled brain, I'll just run the risk of repeating myself..
 About two months ago I noticed that Maisy (the beloved frenchie) was favoring her left hind and really protecting it when jumping up and down from her couch.  No issues chasing her Frisbee, but when asked to do something she didn't want to (get in car, go out in rain, etc) the limp became rather pronounced.  It also increased with lengthy walks or extensive playing (not good).

Additionally, I finally picked up on the fact that M-dog was refusing to "trot" choosing instead to perfect her walk/canter transitions (at least one of my animals has??).  I became worried when Maisy flat out REFUSED to trot, regardless of our pace or her energy level.  That's when she hitched a ride to Sequim and talked to our vet about her little ham hock leg.  Vet gave us a referral to her favorite orthopedic vet over here and off we went.

I was lazy, so it took me a few weeks to book the appointment, but we had it today and I am currently still baffled at the current diagnosis.

Anyone want to guess? Bueller??

One word:



Of course at this point I'm a total skeptic, so I was peppering the orthopedic (and then the Neuro specialist they brought in) with about a ga-zillion questions, but it all came back to neuro.  As it turns out, Maisy's adorable "pointed toes" on her hind legs (she always points them when she sits, or stands.. it's cute) is actually a perfect example of disconnect in her hind end and a comprimised spinal cord.  Since, as we learned in our earlier adventures with Miss P, the bundling of the spinal cord has all the hind end stuff on the outside.  Ergo, it shows symptoms of damage before anything else does.  (ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh).

Apparently however, this is common in Frenchies, and (unlike most equine cases) is often the result of something that is degenerative.  Most commonly, cysts in the spinal canal or malformed vertebrae that fall out of alignment are to blame.... WAH.

Either way, Miss Maisy goes in for an MRI tomorrow to see where exactly the spinal cord is damaged and what's causing the symptoms.

Since Maisy has pointed her toes like this since she was a puppy, I'm hoping that the stenosis is just the result of a crumpled bulldog spine and that the increased lameness in her left hind is a simple strain, sprain or slipped disc that can easily be managed.

Things we aren't interested in seeing include: cysts, tumors or turbo-bad arthritis.

You should have seen the look on my face when the neurologist tried to give me the "Wobblers 101" speech.   Thank god I was holding the pup, or I might have involuntarily punched him.

More tomorrow.  Fingers crossed for the puppy please....

Friday, December 9, 2011


Forgive me readers for I have sinned, it has been... uhhhhhh.... a really long time since my last confession.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been allowing myself to casual peruse Dreamhorse, just for fun, just to see what's out there.

Casual perusal slowly became religious checking and updating, which has quickly led to a more in depth search that involves me checking out favorite breeders and trainers both locally and smeared across the nation.  Which has in turn led to numerous conversations with self, always along these lines:
"but don't you have a Pia?"

Yes... Yes I do.

"and don't you have a wedding coming up that you should be focusing on (/ allowing to suck up all your extra $$$)???"

Why yes... yes I do.

"and haven't you thoroughly discussed how much money a second horse will cost, especially while paying for P's summer camp?"

Yes, yes I have.

"and yet, you still allow yourself to semi-seriously search for another horsey to have and to hold"

Apparently, yes... yes I am.
Apparently I have ALSO decided that I have won the lottery, as the price tags seem to be skyrocketing - even though I keep assuring myself that this is a "buyers market" and I should be able to find a steal of a deal...

Anyway.  Part of me is hoping that I come to my senses and stop this train before it gets to far along... buuuuuut part of me hopes I act like an idiot and add to the collection.

I mean WHY NOT.

I still have a few months before P comes home (I think) and even though I can't fathom where the time would come from... I'm sure I could manage two beasts... right?

So this is the girl I'm currently on the top of my list.. She's a little tight in her back (I think), but she recently had babies and so this is still "getting back into shape" footage... hard to tell, but I really enjoy her lines.

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