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Corona’s springtime tune-up

3 May

So yesterday I decided to take the day off work to get in some much-needed spring cleaning and tune-up work at the barn.

The vet was coming out to do vaccinations, Coggins, and float teeth so I thought I’d take advantage of the sedation and do Corona’s sheath at the same time.

I’ve never actually witnessed Corona with the vet because I have a 9-5 job during the week. I do, however, always hear the, “that Corona is such an @ss!” stories of how he won’t stand still and how he lunges away from needles. I was interested to see this for myself, because I find that there is a bit of a bias towards my Corona in general at the barn, in the sense that if he’s naughty once, then people tend to generalize the he’s ALWAYS naughty. I was actually having a conversation with CG on the weekend that somewhat related to this– I was telling her that I’ve found that since Corona had his aggression issues, the degree of negative comments about him has really increased, despite those issues being resolved (knock on wood). Normally I just let them go and don’t think anything of them, but when you hear negative things all the time, I think it’s human nature to start to listen to them, even if it’s just a little bit. On several occasions I found myself questioning whether Corona and I were a good fit together and whether he really is the @sshole horse that others tell me he is. I’m not going to say he is the most perfectly behaved horse out there, but he is not a mean horse whatsoever. He’s just what I’d call a “high maintenance” horse in the sense that he’s not for beginner, and you need to have his attention on you when you’re working around him, otherwise he’ll do what he likes.

Anyways, back to the vet – I was the assistant yesterday, holding the horses for the vet as the Boss isn’t strong enough if any of them act up. I brought Corona out, the vet took a vial of blood from his neck for his Coggins test, gave him his vaccine in the bum and that was that! Corona stood like a gentleman without any issue! This also included standing still while we chatted to the vet about his leg and while the vet took down his markings for the Coggins. I was so proud of him and so proud that the Boss was standing right there and saw the whole thing. At one point I turned to the Boss and said, “that was really good, you had me a bit worried that he was going to misbehave, he was perfect!”

We finished up the vaccines on the rest of the horses and then moved onto teeth. We saved Corona for last so that I could do his sheath while he was still a bit dopey. I knew his teeth needed done as he’s been leaning on the bit lately, especially on the right rein, he’s also been grinding his jaw a little bit too. The vet found quite a few sharp edges and we discussed doing his teeth every 9 months instead of 12, which is a-ok with me.

That was the end of the vet work and so I started on the lovely job of sheath cleaning. I’d say it was about 95% successful, but was a tad difficult because even with the sedation, Corona didn’t ahem, “drop”. This is likely TMI – but I was quite surprised at how strong those muscles are as I tried to hold it a couple of times when it did make an appearance, but only for about 10 seconds at a time before he pulled it up again…I tried holding on, but it escaped every time. I still got a lot of gunk out of there and heard an interesting tip from the vet – he said to put some KY jelly up there once/week to keep it clean…never would have thought of that. I may or may not do it, as I don’t imagine that it would be terribly comfortable to always have it up there.

I took a couple of photos of Corona while he was under the influence…these are towards the end so he’s not as dopey looking as he was, but I still find them pretty funny. Never mind the wonky halter/x-tie job…the vet did him up on one side, and I clipped him on the other and we used different rings…and the chin strap on his halter was still undone and clipped on the other side from his teeth floating.

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The dreaded c-word

25 Feb

I heard the dreaded c-word when I went to the barn yesterday…colic.

Apparently on Friday when the horses were being brought in for the night, Corona was lying flat out “like a flat tire” in the field. A lead-rope was clipped on him and he got up and came into the barn, where he flopped down in his stall right away. They took his temperature and it was really low, so he’d been lying out there for a while, thank goodness it wasn’t very cold out that day and he was wearing his heavy blanket. The Boss called the vet and in the meantime gave him an injection of dipyrone to help in the relaxation of his gut. The Boss and the Trainer then started to walk him around. After a few laps, it was decided he was looking a bit better so they put him back in his stall to monitor. Apparently with dipyrone, since it’s a relaxant, you try to just leave the horse alone and let the injection do its job (provided the horse isn’t thrashing around in the stall doing more damage). After a short period of time, he pooped! The vet called and I guess at this point they figured the best thing to do was to monitor, so that’s what the Boss did. No further ill effects and after a few hours, Corona was back to chomping on some hay and back to his normal poop-filled self. Thank goodness.

I’ve never experienced colic before but have always dreaded it and the fact that this happened has shaken me up a bit. It’s hard too because I don’t own the horse so wasn’t called – not that it would have helped matters but I would have been out there quick as a whip to do anything and everything I could to help. In speaking with the Boss yesterday I told her flat out that she should call me next time and I’d do the walking/ monitoring etc. so she didn’t have to.

I have no idea whether it’s related or not, but last week when I was brushing him, he was very sensitive on his left side, from about half way down his neck, to his hip. At the time, I noticed a small bite wound on his neck from one of his buddies, so I figured he had perhaps just been kicked as well. When the Boss told me about the colic episode, I told her about this coincidence and she didn’t really think it was related but you never know with horses.

I watched him like a hawk yesterday for any additional signs that it might happen again. Like last week, he was still really sensitive on this left side. Anytime I’d touch him with the brush he’d pin his ears and give me stink-eye. I felt around and couldn’t find any lumps and bumps but it is definitely out of character for him to be like this. I wondered if I’d even get a saddle on him so I took it slowly. If he was sore I wasn’t going to ride him, but surprisingly, he didn’t seem to care about the saddle at all.

I was pretty excited as this was pretty much the first time I’ve been able to ride him since Christmas! The recent nice weather we’ve had has melted the ice that has prevented us from riding for so long. Like had happened a few weeks ago when I THOUGHT we were going to get a ride in, Corona was SO excited to get out there, especially because CG and SM were there with their horses too. Off we went and it was heavenly! Since it was our first ride in a while, and we are still recovering from the knee wound, we just walked but it was a brilliant walk. Corona was off to the races, huge strides and ears forward just ready to take on the world. I made a great effort to stay relaxed in the saddle and Corona obliged, even when we walked by a spooky half-buried bag in the snow bank.

We were out for about an hour and I was eager to see how the exercise affected Corona’s leg. His knee is still swollen, but the swelling in his tendon was virtually non-existent after the ride! He was completely sound at the walk, in fact, I had seen his trotting and cantering earlier in the field too and he looked sound. The vet is hopefully going to see him on Tuesday as they’re coming out to see the racehorses. Apparently there’s a new vet with the practice and if she comes, the Boss won’t have her look at Corona because she doesn’t trust her, so I’m praying that it’s one of the other two vets as I’d really like their opinion on things – after all, this has been going on since mid-December. I keep meaning to take some photos of his knee to post on here, will do that next time I’m out. I don’t mind if it’s just an aesthetic issue, as long as he’s sound on it and we’re not missing something bigger!

Dressage dreams and an update

24 Jan

I’ve been a dressage-a-holic as of late, I just can’t seem to get enough of it. I received a Chapters/Indigo gift card for Christmas and after meticulously scouring store shelves, I opted to purchase two books online (better prices, free delivery for orders over $25, and more selection!). After tracking their delivery status for over a week, they finally arrived yesterday!

I chose, “101 Dressage Exercises for Horse and Rider” by Jec Aristotle Ballou, and “Dressage 101” by Jane Savoie. I started reading through both of them last night (how could I choose just one?) and subsequently had dreams about dressage exercises last night.

My excitement for dressage has further been re-invigorated because the 2013 draft show calendar has been released. There are a tonne of schooling shows this year, pretty much one every other week, if not every week to choose from. New locations too, including the barn where Corona was born! This has me wondering whether or not he’ll remember it there and whether this could result in a calm attitude on show day(s). I’m not going to be doing every single show, unfortunately the bank account and the fact that I need to work for a living prohibit that, but I’m hoping to get to at least 5 shows, plus two hunter paces over the season.

All I need now is for Corona to get better, and for the icy riding conditions to subside – how on earth can I practice all of these new found exercises and theories on a fractured/swollen horse on the ice rink that is the barn, not to mention the -36 degree Celsius weather that we’ve been having all week. Oh summer, how I miss you.

As for a Corona update – he is improving. The vet (the boss vet) was out last week and took an interest in Corona while the other vet (who he saw a few weeks ago) worked on the racehorses. Apparently there is no more infection, but he has developed a passive edema which is what is making his leg swollen. He recommended that we put ichtamol around the wound for 3 days, then leave it for 3 days, and repeat this pattern until the swelling subsides. He mentioned that we shouldn’t be alarmed because the ichtamol will make the leg swell, but eventually it will get less and less each time we apply, until it returns to normal again. He said that there’s a chance that the affected knee may always be a bit bigger than the other, but that it’s nothing to be worried about. Also, he said that I can begin to hand walk or ride (walk only) Corona around the track to assist with the swelling.

I started this regime on Saturday. We did some groundwork in the coverall and I was super impressed at how good Corona was despite us not having done this in probably 2 months. He remembered what I’d taught him and was very well behaved. I decided to try to hand walk him around the track but unfortunately it was pretty icy with a layer of light snow over it. Corona was pretty good about it, he has a very forward walk which is good, however it’s not so good when you have a silly human at the other end of the rope trying to stay on her feet over the ice. He was getting a bit full of himself going around and being held back by me so I started asking for some halts and backups in an attempt to prevent any sort of taking off. It worked but I could tell he was getting rather annoyed. We lasted one full lap of the track and then I decided that before things turned sour, I’d take him back into the coverall to do more groundwork and then call it a day.

Again, he was great, and then he found a place where the dirt wasn’t covered in snow…he began to paw…I realized he was going to roll…He was still on the lead line at this point and I didn’t want him to roll while I was attached to him, and also because it meant he wasn’t paying attention to me. At that moment he started going down onto his knees and to my surprise, when I said, “no Corona” he popped back up and looked at me! I was pretty impressed at this and decided it would be a good place to give him a reward and end our session. I walked him back over to the gate where I took off his rope halter and let him loose to go roll. Of course when I did this, he decided to just stand there with me for a minute, then he decided to go sniff around the other piles of manure that were on the ground, then he went over to his spot and had a good roll. Then up, other side! He was covered in the dirt and looked pretty pleased with himself. At one point he squealed (it appeared like a squeal of joy to me), did a little jump to complement this, and then looked around to see what to do next. I walked back over to the gate, picked up his halter and rope and approached him to put it on thinking he may have decided he liked the idea of being free, but nope, he stood quietly as I put it on him, gave him a good pat and laughed at his filthy face, and off we went back to the barn for a good brush and some treats.

Hopefully the footing will be better this weekend and I can take him for a walk while sitting on him….the forecast is calling for -21 degree temperatures and a northwest wind, so it may not be pretty…but I gotta get this horse healed!

I love good news

9 Jan

The good news – prognosis is 100% recovery! I’m so relieved at this.

The not-bad-but-not-super-news: as with any injury, we have to wait and see how long it will take to heal.

I’m so relieved. I knew I was worried, but it wasn’t until I heard the good news that I really recognized how stressed I was about this situation. I’m really looking forward to many more days, weeks, months, and years with my horse. I just love him, plain and simple.

Oh – and on another positive note, CG had a conversation with the Boss the other day about future plans. Seems as though everyone is on the same general page with respect to the future…including that we will have the option of taking our horses to the new barn!

Fractured

5 Jan

The vet came out to see what’s going on with Corona’s leg on Wednesday. After much inspection, they did x-rays and discovered a very tiny hairline fracture by the wound! I wasn’t there at the time so didn’t hear what was said, but according to the Boss it is of “little consequence and will heal very soon.” While this does sound somewhat comforting, I can’t help but think perhaps it’s not as straight forward as it sounds. I’ve been googling it and, like anything you google, find 100’s of different prognosis and treatments. The vet said that Corona could continue to be turned out provided he stays quiet. I’m quite happy about this but wonder whether he really is capable of remaining quiet 100% of the time. He doesn’t rage around like a maniac in the field with the boys, but there are definitely squabbles and the odd chase of dominance. I guess on a positive note it’s usually Corona who pins his ears, bares his teeth and chases off the others, not vice versa. The vet also has put him on tetracyclin for the infection since the penicillin wasn’t working. I really hope this works and the infection is stopped. The tetracyclin can be given in his feed, which I appreciate because I know that he’ll receive it. The penicillin was given as injections and the Boss isn’t capable of doing it, so I was having to rely on the Trainer to do it.

I’m quite worried about all of this. It doesn’t help that I’ve got a crazy cold/flu and haven’t been able to get out to the barn to ask all of my questions. I emailed the Boss to ask about long-term consequences of this injury – is it going to result in permanent lameness?

I love this horse, I really see us having a long relationship together. It sounds terrible, but now I have to think about what I’d do if this injury wasn’t going to heal? Would I still take him on as my own to CG’s barn as planned? Would I be happy if my one horse couldn’t be used as more than a companion? At the same token who am I to give up on him? It’s not as if he wouldn’t have a good quality of life, even if he couldn’t be ridden, it would be my own selfishness that would be preventing him from having that if I decided not to take him when the time comes. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, maybe everything will be fine and I’m worrying for nothing. I’m not opposed to having a companion horse, but in the grand scheme of things, I was envisioning him being a companion horse 15 yrs from now…not from the moment I take him on.

 

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