Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Magic moments

Glass half full or half empty? Grace has got a bit too enthusiastic with her work and pulled something. Fairly sure it's related to the inelasticity of her pecs - although the strain is somewhere along the lower edge and rear half of her trapezius.

Her backside is incredibly powerful - a full on dressage horse is in there somewhere, but her front end is too weak (from injury not conformation) to sop up all the energy created despite her obvious desire to really perform.

Grace has developed a way of very clearly telling her idiot human that all is not well. I hold up her head collar and she curls round like a roll mop herring on legs; holding her head away from me and tucked into her body. I got this writ large this morning and again at lunchtime. Having realised that even the most innocuous school work is putting too much strain on the whole front end we agreed that for the morning and lunch exercise we could walk around the yard and car park. By this evening Grace had figured that I had learnt my lesson and wasn't going to take her to the school, so she happily offered her head.

We spent a very damp and cold fifteen minutes quietly walking around. Even with enormous hailstones hammering our heads she radiated a calm contentment that reminded me so much of my old grey mare. It was blissful. And what was especially nice is that as her feet improve she is getting the hang of walking quietly walking by my side rather than her old habit of darting round like a rabbit on a chemical high. And she can still do puddles! Even without ducks.

Despite us both being rather wet I brushed her off as best I could. The quick groom confirmed that she is very sore. I can brush everywhere, even the tickly bits, but got a strong negative reaction from the site of injury. Again, I am impressed - Grace has gone from a horse that was pretty tight lipped to one that will communicate loudly and clearly and not hold a grudge. So having 'told me off' for touching the sore spot she instantly relaxed and forgave me when I moved to a bit that didn't hurt.

I am truly blessed. Grace may not be winning any olympic medals any time soon or ever, but that doesn't detract from the fact that she is pretty special. And she has hooves of granite as my wrecked tools will testify. Am I the only person in the UK with a very tiny part of me wishing that their horse's hooves were a bit softer..........

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Here's licking at you

Definitely need a pair of tame ducks. Since receiving an escort through a puddle last week Grace hasn't worried about a puddle since. I'm not saying she chooses to walk through one if there is an easy option to keep her feet dry. Just that she no longer goes to great lengths to avoid walking through one. This picture shows Grace happily wading through the flooded end of the big outdoor arena.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Pectoralis Descendens or Swiss Cheese?

I have been having a discussion about the injuries to Grace's pecs over the last few days with a few people. Largely because I needed to think very carefully about the impact the damage might have on her ability to perform properly; any pain or distress it might cause her and how/if I can do anything to help fix it.
When Grace arrived her pecs were largely mushy/liquid. I knew they were injured but not how. As the area has healed a large hole became evident and I was thinking some sort of head on collision with a pole maybe. So to answer a query I took a photo. Oh the joy of technology - with the photo as my guide I 'hands on' counted five/six holes, some bigger than others. Can you spot them on the picture?
Anyway Grace is having some difficulty with the whole front end stability, stretching and suspension 'thing'. Unfortunately I am being pretty P. poor at managing it very well and she has strained herself to the extent that she now finds it hard to hold her feet up for more than a few seconds - and they desperately need trimming. And I have to keep exercising her daily to keep the EPSM under control. So although I want to do various stretching/suppling exercises for the front end I am going to have to keep to straight lines for a while until Grace is more comfortable. I am very wary of feeding bute, but I will give her some if it means I can get her feet done.
I think some finger crossing and positive vibes are in order if you have any to spare please.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Puddles - have we got them quacked?

Grace doesn't 'do' puddles. No way no how, bribes, leads from other horses - nope she would rather perch on a really dodgy, narrow bank than get her feet wet. There is a puddle we have to cross several times a week. It is never more than four inches deep and usually under two, but Grace takes H&S very seriously and is aware that it is possible to drown in less. :-) And of course water has monsters in it that bite your feet off.

Today I led Grace and friend to the field as usual. Only to find Mr and Mrs Duck investigating the contents of the puddle. 'B****r!' thought I. If they take off suddenly Grace will spook and I could be in real trouble. But I decide to advance anyway. (No fool like an old fool!)

Closer and closer we march up to the deadly puddle and its ducky occupants. I'm convinced they will take off soon. 20ft, 15ft, 10 ft, nada, the ducks are still there. 'In for a penny.' and I put on my best brave face.

The ducks at 6ft decide not to fly, but to waddle off. And Grace follows them - through the deadly puddle as though nothing was there. Naturally she stops and plants afterwards, but still I am gobsmacked.

So a further thought - if we ever get to hack out or compete am I going to have to carry a couple of ducks in my pocket to whip out at opportune moments whenever Grace needs a lead?

So now thinking about a suitable saddle bag for the pair of ducks I will obviously need to carry if I ever get to hack Grace out. :-) And will I get eliminated from competition if I get the ducks to swim the water hazard ahead of us? And what about 'Ducks in Dressage?' - could this be a new sport? Instead of a Pas de deux we can have a Pas de ducks? :-)

PS On the return trip Grace was brave enough to walk through the water on her own! :-)

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Keep your fingers crossed

After yesterday's hefty work out I fully expected Grace to be stiff this morning but she was fine - positively keen.

I lunged her again this evening - without the drama this time. A bit of bounce but she soon settled to her work. I am really pleased - let's hope this upturn continues.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Spring loaded

The modified EPSM diet seems to be working. If you measure recovery by how many caprioles your horse can pull off consecutively then Grace is somewhere in the region of 10. Yes TEN, and that doesn't include all the other 'airs above ground' performed tonight.

Fortunately it was all about showing off and not at all scarey. Although I must admit the other horse quietly left the school which was a tad embarrassing.

Her feet are so good she can stomp around on tricky ground with all four - or tonight just the hinds........... the fronts were too busy frisking the night air. So I am figuring she is feeling pretty good.

I did think with all this high energy activity that she would tie up, but there were no signs when I put her to bed. Somewhat tired, but not locked up. I fully expect her to be very stiff tomorrow.

I have to leave her for a week in April, after which, so long as she remains in good health, the backing activities will start in earnest.

Oh and her feet are now so hard that she killed off my new mini rasp with just one foot.........

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Here's looking at you kid

Well in truth in the first photo Grace (03 July 09 - the day she arrived) is transfixed by geese, and in the second (13 Feb 10) sheep, no lambs or baby goats.
Pretty sure she has EPSM, am going the diet testing route. Not going to ruin our developing relationship by pulling out 20 plus hairs with roots for DNA testing.
We've had quite a few minor tying up episodes now. All preceded by proximity to a farrier, which generates much anxiety, squitting and rushing about. At first I thought the main problem was the squits which would drain her of electrolytes (and this may still be part of the problem). But now I think the main issue is her muscles run out of energy so she comes to a shuddering halt, just like a car running out of gas.
So, the strategy is to soak the guts (sugar/starch) out of her hay (which I have to do anyway because of the laminitis) and replace any calorie requirements with protein or fat. I am also giving her breakfast to help her maintain her energy levels and to ensure that when she turns out she is not hungry.
So far so good, but with Grace I have learnt to take every day as it comes and just be grateful that we get through the day without drama. We celebrate our successes no matter how small and we try not to fret too much about things that don't go so well.
I hope you like the pictures - how many changes can you see (not including absence of hunky man in second photo).