Tuesday, April 30, 2013

8 Weeks!

Yesterday morning was Tristan's 8 week check, and it went spectacularly all around. Vet was thrilled with his foot, with the care, and really with everything. She was not terribly worried about the crack in his foot.

The farrier is on his way back from Florida right now, and as soon as he arrives back in Vermont he will trim down Tristan's front feet, put his shoes back on, and then Tris is cleared to go back under saddle!

Possibly just as exciting, no more wrapping! I will spray some AluShield on the hole to form a barrier, and flush it regularly to clean it out and keep it pretty good, but at this point it can grow down and heal on its own.

I'm excited to ride again, and I'm excited to start getting the sole of that foot in better shape. It's really bad right now - crumbly and soft and just gross. I've ordered some Durasole to use on it to start toughening it up, and I'll probably also do some thrush treatment on it. The LF foot responded quickly once I started treatment; I expect the RF will as well.

Here's a comparison shot to show how far the original abscess hole has grown down, and to show the nasty crack:

And here's the bottom of his foot. You can see some of what I'm talking about with the sole!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Volunteering at a Competitive Trail Ride

On Sunday, I spent the day volunteering to take pulse and respiration at their spring 15 mile mud ride. I'm always up for learning new things and volunteering at horse events, and Hannah had come up from Massachusetts to volunteer at the ride to learn more about the sport, so I went along with!

We arrived a few minutes before the riders left, and were taught how to take pulse using a stethoscope and to count respiration by watching the horse's flank. I picked up the knack of listening for a pulse pretty quickly, though the heartbeats were both quieter and slower than I had expected. Respiration was much harder! It took an immense amount of concentration and focus to watch a horse's flank and discern an actual breath as opposed to huffing, or quivering, or just shifting weight. I was not expecting that to be the trickiest part.

Riders set off not long after we arrived, at about 9:45, the four drivers first and then riders in 2-3 minute intervals.
Rider staging area looking down toward the barns.
Riders setting off.
After they set off we were briefed a little more fully on the mechanics of doing p&r and met our fellow volunteers - in yet another indication of just how small the Vermont horse world is, one of our fellow volunteers worked at my college (in another part of the state) and knew many of the same people I did.

The hold was all ready with buckets of water for cooling out, larger tubs for drinking, and some people had come ahead and left hay for their horses. Everyone at the hold had brought their dog, it seemed, and the pack played around for a while until the first horses arrived and then we got down to business.
Drivers watering their horses soon after arriving.
I got to do the p&r on the first riding horse that came in, a very professional little chestnut Arab who was hardly winded and way at the front of the ridden pack. Horses came in a few at a time, and then there was a great rush as many came in at the same time. I didn't quite have the knack of approaching riders and talking to them - I kept feeling like I was interfering, though that was clearly the way to do things! I tended to haunt the edges and wait until a horse and rider pair looked like they were ready, then volunteer myself.
Hold area getting busier!
At one point while we were waiting, one rider who had pulled her horse up due to a sudden onset lameness invited me to p&r her horse, who was out of the competition but was a tricky horse to get a heartbeat on because he had an atrioventricular block - a heart murmur, basically. A normal heartbeat has two parts, lub-dub; this horse would have 4-5 regular heartbeats and then a lub with no second half, followed by a long pause, and then lub-dub normally again. It was disconcerting to listen to, and I'm sure the rider was very used to explaining it to people, as if I hadn't known what I was about to hear I would have been seriously confused.
Riders jogging their horses out for the vet check at the hold.
Once the trickle of riders slowed down, we were among the first to hop in the car and get back to the starting area, where riders had 20 minutes to get their horses's p&r back to acceptable levels. There was no disqualifying pulse, but anything over 42 beats per minute meant they lost points, and any "inverted" respiration (ie anything more than once a second) meant we had to call the vet.

Again, I was not great at seeking people out, but I did enjoy the horses I worked on. One man who was clearly very serious about his final check out asked me to come into the stall with the horse several minutes before he was due, and he stood with the horse's head in the back corner, talking to it and stroking it, while I talked to him as well to get the horse used to me. He was also apparently a bit picky about who did the check; I'm not sure what qualified me, but I liked talking to him and his horse was lovely and exceptionally well-behaved, so I was fine with it.

After the horses got their p&r checked at 20 minutes, they had to report in to a vet check, where they jogged out in a line and in a circle, had their backs palpated, and the vet did a general check-over that included listening to gut sounds. I've seen less involved annual physicals - it was really impressive!
Final vet check,; the chestnut is having its back palpated.
When we'd done all the p&rs we could find, we turned in our supplies and sat down for the competitor lunch, which was fantastic. I'd let myself get hungrier than I thought and absolutely demolished a huge plate of food - I nearly fell asleep on the drive home as all the adrenaline crashed at the same time all the food started  digesting!

Overall, it was a great learning experience and a really terrific community of riders to work with. I'd do it again in a hearbeat!

Friday, April 26, 2013


We interrupt regularly-scheduled Rolex geekery to say ARE YOU #$@$@$#@ING KIDDING ME WITH THIS.

The ground jury for the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final Grand Prix has denied the protest filed April 25 by Swedish rider Patrik Kittel about flowers around the dressage arena. Some of the flowers were not around the ring for the arena familiarization period. Kittel's horse, Watermill Scandic HBC, spooked in the first extended trot movement in the Grand Prix test, and Kittel filed an official protest with the Gothenburg show office. Kittel finished 10th in the class.
Ground Jury Denies World Cup Dressage Protest 

Seriously. SERIOUSLY?!? He filed a protest because there were some additional flowers around the ring and he can't keep his horse focused? GROW UP ALREADY.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


It took a little while for it to kick in, but Rolex fever is HERE!

I'll be traveling on Friday, traveling on Saturday, and volunteering at a competitive trail ride on Sunday, which makes Thursday the only day I'll be at a computer to follow updates...and I'll be at work. So I can't watch ANY of the streaming, which was exceptionally poor planning on my part.

In lieu of that, I've tried to put together a way to follow Rolex digitally that I just posted on COTH, and I'll cross post it here, too, and update as I have more information.






Rolex - @RolexKentucky
Eventing Nation - @eventingnation
USEA - @USEventing
USEFNetwork - @usefnetwork
FEI - @myfei_home
British Eventing - @BEventing
PRO - @PROEventRiders
Practical Horseman - @prachorseman
Bit of Britain - @BitofBritain
Smartpak - @Smartpak

Samantha Clark - @samanthaclark
Joanie Morris - @Joanie_Morris
Jenni Autry - @jenniautry

William Fox-Pitt - @foxpitteventing
James Alliston - @JamesAlliston
Buck Davidson - @@BDJEventing
Jan Byyny - @janbyyny
Andrew Nicholson - ?
Phillip Dutton - @DuttonEventing
Madeline Blackman - ?
Caitlin Silliman - ? (@WindurraUSA)
Beth Perkins - ?
Will Faudree - ?
Jennie Brannigan - ?
Becky Holder - ?
Peter Atkins - @RunHennyRun
Kristin Schmolze - @kseventing
Katie Ruppel - ?
Hawley Bennet-Awad - @HBEventing
Kristi Nunnink - ?
Sarah Cousins - ?
Shandiss McDonald -
Lynn Symansky - @LynnSymanskyEq
Alexandra Knowles - ?
Austin O’Connor – @attington
Meghan O’Donoghue - @MM_ODonoghue
Mary King - ?
Micheline Jordan - ?
Ronald Zabala-Goeteshel - ?
Erin Marie Sylvester - ?
Jonelle Richards - ?
Emily Renfroe - @Emily_Renfroe
Boyd Martin - @WindurraUSA
Lindsey Oaks –
Rachel Jurgens - ?
Emily Beshear - @EmilyBeshear
Kendal Lehari - @LehariEventing
Heather Gillette - ?
Marilyn Little - ?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Another Day, Another Setback

I can't exactly claim to be surprised. This is exactly what the farrier predicted would happen.

Sometime in the last two days, the small crack leading from Tristan's surgery hole to the abscess hole has become a large crack. As in, I can now see daylight through it and with pressure move the two parts separately. The toe has grown out enough that walking on it has pulled the crack wider. Ugh.

He does not seem sore, but obviously his hoof should not move like that. I would guess that increased movement would put him at risk of an even bigger crack. So he's back on complete stall rest, poor lad.

I will check in with the vet and the clinic in the morning, but I suspect our way forward is to keep him quiet and get his foot trimmed and a shoe put on as soon as possible - which could prove problematic, as the farrier may not be back from Florida for another few weeks...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Movie Review: The Long Shot

The Long Shot (2004)

Okay. All right. Let's talk about this. Let's start with the poster: Arab-y looking thing in a poorly fitting halter, running freeeeee in the background behind a woman with her child in Western tack wandering along a ridgeline. Think about for a moment what kind of movie you would expect this to be, based on that poster. Imagine some plot and character details, setting, etc.

So now let me tell you that this movie is about a woman who rides dressage. She moves to California with her loser husband and her diamond in the rough Grand Prix horse, who promptly abandons her and her daughter to live in a motel. She gets a job working for a legendary trainer, mucking stalls, teaching lessons, etc., and overcomes a series of setbacks on her way to being the feistest, cleverest, horse whispering-est horse expert ever.

It's available on Netflix streaming, and while it is one of the most ridiculous movies I have ever seen (see below for a handful of non-spoilery things that actually happen) it is weirdly watchable. I rarely sit through full movies these days and I watched the whole thing. With lots of chocolate. And lots of incredulous texting to Hannah.

So let's go over just a very small, not even all that dramatic things that happen in this movie. Multiply all of these together by 10 and you will have the equivalent one of at least three major totally loony plot twists.

- They drive cross-country from Colorado to California with a horse in a trailer, and when they pull up to the motel she decides she'll take her horse for a ride, so she does. For, like, HOURS, judging by the movie's internal chronology.
- At one point, she starts riding the trainer's difficult horses in the middle of the night and then gets all huffy when the trainer is pissed off that she has done so, because clearly she's fixing everything, stop being mean!
- She and the loser husband use her (never shown, as far as I can tell) horse as collateral for the loan they have to take out to move across the country. She is surprised and deeply offended when the loan comes due, and writes a nice letter to the bank manager that will clearly solve everything. (Spoiler alert: it doesn't.)

It is amazing that this movie was written, filmed, edited, and then actually released. It is the very cheesiest kind of cheese, riddled with ridiculous horsemanship that has the veneer like they actually researched some of it - maybe they read a few articles on dressage at least halfway through, anyway.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Good Reads

Two things I've read today that I've liked quite a bit.

First, an excellent post from Mustang Adventures about a defensive trail riding clinic.

Jerry walked around the arena, but with big, menacing, scary, purposeful energy. He didn't even have to wave his arms or shout or "do anything" that looked scary, but the horses definitely got the vibe and all shied away from him, so we had to practice control in trying to walk over/through someone.
Excellent read, highly recommended: full post here.

The second is a well-written but sad article about the Grand National, and the fate of English steeplechasing in the 21st century. I love horse racing, but each year it seems to get more deadly (or maybe I'm more aware of its danger) and I take a small step back.

A giant's claw came through the spruce. The air smelled suddenly of Christmas and a great black horse was falling. It was Paddy Mourne, an Irish outsider, and one of the things that TV doesn't tell you is how far and how massively and how intricately these animals slide. I saw the short hairs of his belly, his hooves, and his head rising while his knees sought purchase. Everything was in motion, 20 feet from the jump that had tripped him. The rest of the field poured around him like water and then he was up and running with the herd. The jockey limped off, cradling his arm.
Death and Tradition at the UK Grand National

Monday, April 15, 2013

Six Weeks

Tristan's surgery was six weeks ago today, making this the low end of his recovery period estimate.

He is for all intents and purposes sound, and has been out of his boots for a week now. I am still flushing and wrapping his right front every two days, but finishing off the wrap with duct tape instead of his boot. He gets turned out in the indoor for as long as he behaves, which is longer some days than others. On days when he's not turned out we handwalk for 20 minutes.

He is still growing tissue in the hole, and it's tough to say how long that will continue. There is definitely some hoof growing back as well. The quality of his soles is not good from being in the boots, and his right front heel has rubs.

Mentally, he would like to be off stall rest, and he could be if it weren't mud season. His foot is still not quite healed enough to disregard the muck and standing puddles.

Life after the surgery is starting to seem real. I brought my bridles home to clean and I am starting to think and talk about riding again. It's possible that we will start short rides soon, just keeping his foot wrapped and staying at the walk.

Here's what his foot looked like after flushing this morning.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Happy Birthday, Tristan!

Today is the day I have picked as Tristan's birthday. According to his freeze brand, he was born in 1995. That represents the Bureau of Land Management's best estimate of his age in 1999, when he was rounded up. It would make him 18 this year.

It's impossible to know when he was born, exactly, but there's a decent chance it was spring. My grandmother's birthday was April 11, and she died just a few months before I met Tristan for the first time, so I celebrate it as his birthday.

Some years I have made cake, but not this year. We had a quiet walk around the indoor, and I groomed him thoroughly and hung an Uncle Jimmy's Hanging Balls toy in his stall for him. He didn't seem interested yet but he had hay left, so he was pursuing that.

Here's the birthday boy while handwalking.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hooooooly crap


Totally not fooling me

This is just to say that my horse? is hilarious.

Last night, we handwalked for 20 minutes outside, up and down the pasture hills, and he thought it was great fun. So we would walk for a bit, and then he would start jigging, and I would ask him to waaaaaaalk again, and he would heave a put-upon sigh, and walk.

Then he would jig v-e-r-y slowly. And I would say waaaaaaaalk, and he would give me the side-eye, and then jig even more sloooooooooooooowly. See, mom, I'm totally walking, I am, you don't even have to speed up. And then when I asked him to walk, he would huff loudly, and walk for another few strides before starting up the jigging again.

I don't know if I would have minded the jigging so much except he's not used to moving in the boots - he's spent most of his time standing around in the stall in them - and he kept tripping and nearly falling on his face after a few strides. Idiot boy.

After handwalking I pulled his boots, triple-checked the wrap on his RF, and doused the LF in thrush stuff. Fingers crossed he keeps everything on and his feet start to dry out and toughen up quickly.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Tristan's 18th birthday is this Thursday; my 30th birthday is coming up on May 12.

Just in case you were wondering what to get for us, here's an idea.
Nested just 10 minutes to downtown Middleburg and 1 hour to Washington, DC, Horsefields Farm is a fully-restored Hunt Country masterpiece offering beauty, privacy and refinement within its treed borders. Spread over 140 acres, this one-of-a-kind property redefines the equestrian lifestyle, with graceful rolling hills and a collection of three homes — including an elegant stone manor main house and two guest houses that have been thoughtfully restored — seven manicured ponds, seven paddocks, three barns with 24 stalls for horses, six garage bays and state-of-the-art facilities for staff and equipment. Originally $14.9M. Selling Without Reserve, to the highest bidder.
Watch the video. Droooooooool.

Do the dapper looking stable boys come with the farm, do you think?

Monday, April 8, 2013

5 Weeks!

Yesterday, Sunday, Tris got a massage. He was tight in some of the expected places: in a muscle that runs from his poll down to his right front, in his back from his colicky episode, and in his hind end from the funny movement in his boots and the hill work. All surface tightness - no adhesions or strains.

Then this morning the vet did a 5 week check on his foot. She was THRILLED with the way it has responded to the metronidazole, said it looked (and smelled!) terrific. We jogged him out on the hard dirt road and he has a teeeeensy bit of residual tenderness in the RF when turned on a hard circle, but totally understandable given that he still has exposed tissue there.

She was concerned about the deterioration of his soles, however, an in consult with the surgeon decided to leave the boots off when he is in his stall, put them on for turnout and handwalking only, which should start to dry them out and toughen him up. Surgeon also recommended treating with Wonderdust occasionally 1-2x a week to start toughening up the tissue.

Finally, he got two more vaccines - West Nile and Potomac Horse Fever - and then had his teeth floated. He did really well for that and the vet let me feel around in his mouth to feel the sharp edges and what they felt like once he had them floated down. It was really, really neat!

In conclusion: drunk dentist pony.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Decorating the future tack room

Someday, someday I will have my own farm. 20-25 acres, 4 stall barn, enough space for Tristan to retire, a horse for me to ride, and maybe a stall to keep a foster horse. I have many thoughts about the layout of this barn, but one thing I hadn't considered until recently was tack room decoration. I was looking at WWI / WWII propaganda posters for work the other day, and came across one from WWI that I absolutely loved.

Courtesy of the Boston Public Library's terrific propaganda poster Flickr set.

Isn't that fabulous? I love it. That got me started, so I looked for a few more.

From zazzle.com.
Again, zazzle.com.
From Flickr.
Last, but not least, I LOVE this one, as it ties together my undergraduate work on medieval military history and my graduate work on American cavalry history. It also has the benefit of being ironically anvilicious given the way the First World War remodeled much of the Middle East.

From zazzle again.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Thanks, Smartpak

I hedged my bets a little too close and forgot to order more Elastikon to keep wrapping Tristan's foot. So I went to Smartpak tonight to order a case. I keep it in my Wishlist for easy ordering, and before I signed in, here's what greeted me on my Wishlist page:

Your Wishlist is empty, so we wrote a haiku to cheer it up!

Oh, empty Wishlist
We hope that someone fills you
With wonderful things

Well done, Smartpak.

Oh, pony.

So apparently after his turnout yesterday, Tris came in and laid down. And stood up. And laid down. And stood up. A few times. And then wasn't terribly interested in his hay.


Barn manager stayed a bit later to keep an eye on him, temped him (normal), left a note for the night check person to keep an eye, and by graining time (2-3 hours later) he was back to himself, then fine for night check. I went out around 11pm and he had pooped, peed, was acting normal, and passed gas when I walked him up and down the aisle to check. I fed him 12 Gas-X tablets, which he ate like candy. He had gut sounds that were a little more than I wanted to hear but was not sensitive to pressure anywhere around his belly. He did not seem obviously bloated - he's been a bit on the chubby side with his stall rest, so I didn't see a clear line between fat horse and bloated horse.

Of course I kept waking up all night and looking at the clock and worrying and wondering, in the small hours of the morning, if there was someone doing morning feed yet? and would they call me immediately?

I did check in around 9am and talked to the worker who had noticed he was up and down yesterday, and she said he was 100% back to normal today.

Ohhhhhh pony. I do have a new line item for the vet appointment on Monday: what does she think of my Gas-X protocol (which works out to a 300mg dose of simethicone)? and could he be a little bit ulcery? He was on antibiotics for 30 days total, and while he had no obvious outward signs of discomfort it may make sense to do a week or two of omeprazole paste.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Happy pony

Tristan's wound is definitely starting to turn into hoof material - it's hardening and the edges are crowding in. He continues to be sound and last night and today we hand walked outside. It was even dry enough outside today that I put him in a small paddock with a pile of hay before I left, and the barn staff kept an eye on him for an hour or two of turnout.

Massage on Sunday, 5 week checkup on Monday, and then another few weeks of being careful and maybe I get to start riding!

Here he is as I left him this morning.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Equine Color

Tristan is an unusual color. I've always labeled him as "bay roan" for the purposes of Coggins tests, stall cards, and shorthand discussions but the truth is that there's probably something else going on, genetically. He has a few quirks that don't fit the typical mold for a roan horse.

Sometime soon I'll do a whole post about his colors and his interesting points - yes, I promise, this blog will be about something other than endless rehab updates! - but in the meantime, I've been sucked into this blog recently, both for the gorgeous pictures and for the really intelligent discussion of color genetics.

The Equine Tapestry

Maybe when I put my picture collection together, I'll email them to her and see what she thinks.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Farrier checkup

All's well! Tris was stoned out of his mind from the dermosedan gel, and did great for his farrier appointment.

Hole continues to look good, 4 weeks out today, and the bottom holes are allllmost gone. They'll go at the next appointment. Once the foot grows that far, we'll start to worry about the next hole, the big one. It's got a crack leading up from the smaller one and a bit of hoof wall that may well separate and be wide open. We'll address that when we come to it. The mushy bit was just dead sole, not an abscess. His sole is in tough shape with the constant moisture of the boot.

In the meantime, keep on keeping on. Up to 15 minutes handwalking each day now, and incorporating poles to work his back a bit.

Scroll down for the updated foot pic.