Friday, October 6, 2017

One last celebration

Riding Bestie wrote this poem for me the other night:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I fucking hate horses
I wish you drank vodka, too

sarah is #judgingyou for your treat whoreness, bobby.

Riding Bestie came up to say goodbye to Bobby and help me torture him with one last photo shoot. It only involved one ugly crying moment for which I am very proud of us.

bobby says, "torture? i got to hang out and have fun while we tortured these puppers!"

I want to thank everyone who contributed to the care package for Bobby and I, as Bobby ate the entire bag of German Horse Cookies in the space of about fifteen minutes and was very upset when they were gone.

"but i don't want those stupid apple nuggets, i want the fancy cookies!"

And, of course, just a giant thank you to everyone who has commented or simply read along over the past several years. Most of you guys never got to know my original heart horse, Red. Bobby has been the star of the blog for so long and has expanded my horse community horizons so much that it feels like I'm losing part of my identity.

so many memories, and probably just as many shows where we fucked things
up and didn't come home with anything. 

Despite Bobby's unwavering joie de vivre, there's no doubt in my mind it's his time no matter how unfair it is. His coronary band is getting worse by the day--it's practically crumbling apart at this point--and I can tell he's starting to get bored living in his stall even with the never-ending treat supply. He's going to go out while he's happy, and his pain is being managed, and never knowing how truly awful his situation is.

who knew barking dogs locked in cars were the key to his posing all along?

There will be another horse, and the blog will continue. However, I don't want to make the same mistake and rush into another horse and end up resenting them for the first year like I did with Bobby when Red died. Horses actually cost real money, a concept I am most unfamiliar with having gotten all of my horses over the years with a combined purchase price of less than $1,500. Once these final two vet bills are paid off I'll start saving and see what shows up on my know, for around $0.

the only bad part about all these ribbons is having to hang them back up in chronological
order because that's how i roll. 

In the meantime, Bobby will be spending his weekend getting every single food item he can possibly want stuffed down his throat, and on Sunday I'll turn him out in the indoor over night with his bestie so he can have one last rumpus epic rollies fest. He's given me the gift of being the kindest, most patient horse throughout this whole process. I want to repay him by letting him do whatever the fuck he wants with a side order of ten thousand pounds of carrots.

and check with the local tack store to see if they carry fancy cookies

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

And that was that

As scheduled, the vet was out yesterday afternoon to get another set of eyes on Bobby and take some new images of the cursed RF.

if you just, you know, removed the upper half
it looks pretty okay on the outside.

Bobby seemed to be holding up well with his new diet and restricted turnout to the indoor. Everyone kept telling me how he was prancing around the ring looking happy and cheerful. In his stall his attitude has been bright and perky, and he hasn't made any fuss about his new schedule.


Bobby's usual vet is out of town all week, but I liked our substitute vet a lot. She was perfunctory and didn't get caught up oohing and ahhing over his leg when clearly his foot was the disaster area. She got the facts, gave me the facts, and that was that. She had me take him to the indoor to walk him out and trot him back, both of which he did with zero hesitation despite being severely crippled.

I told her he'd never had to be tranqed to get rads before and she put the syringe away without argument. He was a little difficult to get pictures of because he was so uncomfortable standing on the blocks, but we made it work and got what we needed. Really, after the first shot, there wasn't much of a need to take anything else.

I know absolutely nothing about reading x-rays or what the inside of a horse is supposed to look like, but even I could see as soon as the image popped up we were fucked. Positively, no returns fucked. Where we were hoping for maybe an abscess track or mild rotation, instead his coffin bone had dropped and was about 2mm from blowing through the bottom of his sole.

You can't un-drop a coffin bone. Best case scenario was he grew a massive amount of sole in a short amount of time and we could figure out shoeing to keep him pasture sound. But realistically Bobby has always had bad feet, and he obviously wasn't about to grow a new one out of thin air.

The vet's best guess was that it wasn't diet related at all, but that it all came back full circle to the fucking sarcoidosis. She felt that whatever hot mess mystery was going on in the coronary band had damaged the connective tissue to the coffin bone causing the rapid sinking.

You can't cure sarcoidosis. You can't regrow the inside of a broken foot. As vet handed over a bottle of Bute and gave Bobby's giant lug head a hug, she told me I had maybe two weeks before the coffin bone was probably going to come through. "I've never had a horse where I wanted to do a leg transplant so badly."

"does leg transplant mean moar cookies?"

The RF was burning up this morning and we're on high alert for signs the LF wants to go, too. After a sleepless night, the appointment is set for late Monday morning. I hope that's not pushing it too far out, but so far the Bute, ice, and his pad have kept him pretty stable.

Bobby outwardly seems no worse for wear. He's so happy and in your face that it's made this decision hard, but at the same time I'm glad I get to let him go while he still thinks life is great and nothing matters more than where his next snuggle and snack comes from.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

New Vocabulary

Usually when people see Bobby's leg and foot we get "weird" as the response. The farrier Farrier brought in, Other Farrier (OF), coined it "remarkable".

Which, like, I could do without, but it did make me laugh.

I wanted to give a quick update on how Bobby is doing and how the consult with OF went mostly so I have everything in one place to go back to.

team farrier trying to make some magic happen

Bobby was doing worse this morning. Without even seeing him go I could tell he was not feeling okay. He's the perkiest creature on the planet, and this morning he just looked flat out despondent. I turned him out in the indoor to see if he wanted to walk around a bit, but he just rolled and stood there staring at me until I put him back in his stall while we waited for Farrier to arrive.

OF poked and prodded first thing then took a look through all the rads we did last month while Farrier and I filled him in on all the details of the last six months.

"What did Vet say about it?"
"She told me to send him to Cornell because she was out of ideas."
"And what did Cornell say?"
"They gave me a bunch of steroids because they didn't know what to do with it."
"Have you tried--"

favorite activity: stalking kitties

Basically what everything came down to is that OF felt strongly that Bobby is pre-laminitic in both front feet. Probably the acute lameness in the RF in that area I was suspicious of is an abscess resultant of the oncoming founder as Farrier suspected.

He thought of the bulging coronary band as an event line, saying that it's resultant of trauma and if it was viable tissue still it would be weeping blood and/or pus, but since it's not it's unlikely any vascular activity is getting to it. Likely the swelling was from a gas pocket and he could still try to brew up an abscess in it. He thought that underneath it Bobby could be growing a new coronary band, and once the bulging mess on top gets ahold of itself better, Farrier could start rasping it off and we'd see something significantly healthier underneath. Farrier seemed dubious about this theory, but I thought it was pretty interesting. Not sure I believe it, but interesting nonetheless.

He wanted Bobby to trim down significantly as he felt he was carrying way too much weight and not enough muscle. I was slightly perplexed by this as no one has ever accused Bobby of being fat--in fact they're usually asking what I feed him to imply it's not enough. And, you know, he's a pretty solid as shit Second level horse. He hasn't been worked like a beast lately, but he's not some flabby, floppy retiree.

The idea was basically that less weight on his feet is better, and obviously no sugar so we cut his grain completely.

And no snacks. Because this farrier is a SAVAGE. #wouldratherhavecancerthannosnacks

Multiple attempts of setting Bobby up with various pads and glue-ons were highly unsuccessful as he couldn't get comfortable with anything. He needs sole support for the founder, but he doesn't like any sole pressure because of the navicular. They finally just taped his giant pad back on and set the ground rules:

  • No more grain.
  • No more alfalfa.
  • No more snacks.
  • No more grass.
  • No more turnout unless it's in the sand indoor, and only if he wants to leave his stall. No forcing him into turnout. 
  • Check pulses and temperature daily. Full blown founder is the biggest threat right now, but there's still the threat of detachment. 
Overall he thought that the internal structures of his foot looked good. In fact, everything below the coronary band looked pretty okay. He thought Farrier was doing a good job working with what we have. Hopefully the diet change halts laminitis at X and they'll be able to reassess to see what type of shoeing and padding he needs. He felt confident there was more to be done to get him back to work for awhile longer yet. 

I don't know if I feel any better because I still feel very doubtful this is something we can fix without dragging my horse through months of pain which I absolutely won't do, but I do like having a solid plan of attack. Regular Vet is on vacation all next week, but the vet office assured me she'd kept everyone up to date on Bobby's medical marvels so I'm going to have a different vet out on Monday so that they have a baseline in case things go south in a hurry. 

Very importantly in the meantime, what's everyone's favorite sugar-free snacks? Bobby cannot go without snacks, dudes. Unacceptable.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Fucking Fuckity Fuck Fuck

Alternate Title: Not sure if I'm going to lose weight because I'm so tightly wound I feel like puking all the time, or if I'm going to gain ten thousands pounds from stress eating candy nonstop.

But clearly too long for a title, so there you are.

"hai, i love cookies and making everyone
SUPER CONFUSED about how i'm still alive!"

Saturday morning I was out and about at the barn helping set up for the next day's hunter pace when the barn worker texted me that Bobby looked more lame than usual and did I want him to go outside. I scurried back inside to take a look for myself. Everyone at the barn is pretty familiar with Bobby's various stages of "What in the actual fuck is going on with your leg/foot? Oh well, just look the other way!" so I knew he actually had to be lame lame for her to ask. Sure enough he was gimpy as fuck on the RF, but looked perky otherwise so I tossed him out.

On Sunday he looked about the same, but I gave him some bute after body clipping him anyway. Then I drove home and had a crying panic attack that I was going to come out Monday to see my horse covered in weeping sores from generalized sarcoidosis because when Cornell shaved his leg to ultrasound it, it set it off again.

Spoiler Alert: Didn't happen. His coat looks just as lovely as before, it's just not causing him heat stroke any longer.

except when we do intense rollies and get it filthy

He looked a little ouchy still on Monday, but nothing to be concerned about as Farrier was coming out today to do him anyway.

When I went to feed him breakfast Tuesday, he stood still in the middle of his stall on an island of shavings he'd pushed together before slowly shuffling over to his bucket to eat. I gave him the hairy eye and quickly finished up graining everyone else before investigating further.

I keep my emotions pretty in check when it comes to Bobby's various lameness cycles--at least while I'm at the barn. (I do a lot of crying in my car.) I'm more the type of person to dive in and tackle an emergency calmly head on and then freak the fuck out about it later. On Tuesday I pulled the Back on Track wrap off (Generously donated by Archie!), didn't see anything out of the ordinary on Bobby's ever swollen-ish leg, and moved on to his foot.

I check his feet every day for signs of heat from laminitis or cold from detachment--both things we're constantly concerned about. Nothing felt out of the ordinary, so I picked it up and dug around. Once his foot was clean, I looked at it from one direction. Then another. Then from over there, and over here. I tried to get some pictures of what I thought I might be seeing and sent them to Farrier--at seven in the morning because I'm that client.

"Not to be an alarmist, but I think I'm seeing some sinking of the sole on the right side of Bobby's foot. Should I be being an alarmist about this?"

And then I went into full alarmist mode anyway because what the fuck do I know about how to treat a horse that might be foundering? NOTHING. I KNOW NOTHING.

fucking coronary band getting worse by the day and no one knows whyyyy

Farrier texted me back right away because that's the type of farrier she is and told me to slow down the alarmist bells. Was his foot hot? No. Was he standing tucked under himself? No, but he doesn't want to move in his stall and is awfully fucking shifty. Was the sole actually soft and sinking or was I just imagining things? ...I don't know, I could just be imagining things.

She suggested it could just be an abscess, but since she was going to be out first thing the next day she thought he'd be okay to wait. I went full on founder protocol anyway. I iced, I packed his foot, MOAR ICE, MOAR PACKING, BM bedded his stall to his eye balls, I gave him bute, and we cancelled his grain dinner.

By late afternoon he was still lame, but he was able to walk down the aisle to the wash stall without any resistance or trouble. With that much improvement, I didn't call the vet and updated Farrier that he was looking better.

barn cat here for your moral support needs. snuggles R free.

This morning he didn't look great in his stall again, but he was more mobile than the morning before. Farrier arrived bright and early and went right in his stall to begin poking around herself. She didn't feel any heat either and wasn't too concerned with the sole. She didn't think we were dealing with a laminitic episode quite yet and still thought abscess was the best bet....but the abscess was likely an off shoot of something going very wrong inside the foot and not just some foreign object causing discomfort.

Shoes off, there was no sign of separation, and he was willing to put full weight on it. Farrier looked at it some more before asking if I would be okay if she brought someone else in to take a look because she was out of ideas. Um, yes, duh. Someone please just make my horse sound. She cut him a pad from 4" thick foam and taped it on until Other Farrier could come out in the next day or two. His LF heels were starting to contract a bit from the wedge on that foot (Oh yeah, remember how he has navicular too?) so she tacked a flat aluminum shoe on and moved on to trim his hinds.

duct tape and foam. hmm, i could be a farrier if
it were this easy!

When she was out last week working on other horses, she asked how Bobby was doing and I was like, "LOLZ, I think he's starting to go neurological actually." And there was much LOLing because why not just add something else catastrophic to Bobby's list of medical marvels?

But I was only kind of kidding.

While warming up, whenever he'd circle his hind end would disappear for a step before he caught himself. Once he was warmed up and collected it wasn't an issue. He could circle and do all the lateral work without any problems, so I didn't give it much credence. Maybe he was just stiff, or sore, or needed another chiro visit. Bobby's stifles have always been a big weakness on him, although this felt more overall hind end than his usual stifle problems.

Turning in the aisle has never been something he does gracefully--something Vet knows to ignore because it's just him--so I didn't see anything there to raise alarm bells. Only now in his stall I was starting to see him pull his leg across to itch his face on it and leave it crossed.

When Farrier went to ask him to step aside to center back in the aisle, he didn't budge at first so she gave him a push on his haunches. His hind leg crossed over and he nearly fell down before managing to get his legs sorted out and catch himself. Farrier froze and stared at me.

I must have looked as awesome as I felt because she quickly joked, "No, he's fine, Carly! He's not neuro! He's not going to founder! That right foot is just fine! Everything is fine with him!"

is his leg eating his foot or his foot eating his leg?

Since the initial diagnosis in May, it's always been a matter of when and not if we were going to have to put him down. Bobby has been doing his best to turn back every new malady that his freaky body can come up with, but it was clear pretty early on that eventually that foot was not going to hold out.

Farrier said she'd try to get him through laminitis when it comes--and it will come--if that's what I wanted, but pointed out that there wasn't going to be any hope on the other side if he made it through. He'd still have sarcoidosis. He'd still have navicular. He'd still have this crazy coronary band set to detach at any time. He could be neurological. He could founder again.

It doesn't matter. I won't let him go through that. If we can't get him sound in short order, Bobby's time has come. I'm not ready. I'm never going to be ready. That won't stop me from making the right choice for my horse to repay him for everything he's given me.

forever the nosiest, most personable and obnoxious horse

Monday, September 25, 2017

Double Time

When BM first told me she wanted to start introducing Bobby to the double, we were able to implement that plan into action almost right away thanks to a barn mate already having one on hand. Of course nothing about it was fit to Bobby, but it was enough to put on his face and let him get the feel of having a lot of metal in his mouth.

I started casually, very casually, looking for a double of my own, but since all new bits, reins, and a bridle cost money I wasn't too serious. Plus, you know, do we actually need a double of our own? There's no guarantee this horse is going to make it through the winter, let alone be sound or even alive for a show season next year. So no, the double was by no means a necessity.


so hot the only thing to do is try on tack anyway!

We had some "extra" money, and fuck it. The horse is capable-ish of doing fun things right now so why not take advantage of that while we can? (He is, in fact, currently lame, but the farrier is coming out Wednesday and it's balls hot out for the foreseeable future so we'll just pretend like he's still capable-ish of doing said fun things.)

So off I went bridle shopping!

And by "I", I mean I immediately contacted my personal shopper and told her to find me a double for under $100, I'll stay on the line. Being a profesh tack ho, she had me several to choose from in no time at all, and I called dibs on a used Otto Schumacher with silver piping for $80 shipped.

Thus began the saga of getting the fucker to me.

same, bobby. SAME.

I had to go into crazy harassing online psycho mode to get the seller to respond to my initial message to make sure it was still available. Then I made the mistake of asking if she had any reins available for sale as well.


She finally got back a day later and said she was at a show that day, but would get back to me on Sunday if she did. If not, she'd invoice me for just the bridle. Okay, great! Sunday: Silence. Monday: MOAR SILENCE.

On Monday afternoon she finally got back to me with rein options. I opted for the curb rein but not the webbed snaffle as I hate web reins, and I was finally sent an invoice. And then....yep, you guessed it--silence.

In the meantime, I went on a bit hunt. I actually knew exactly what I wanted:

even what i ended up with in a round about way

Bobby has a little bitty mouth with a big, fat tongue. The bits on the double we were borrowing were too thick and too long for him in all aspects. The bradoon was also a chunky three piece which Bobby has almost no tolerance for. So my goal was first and foremost thin metal and a single jointed bradoon. I wasn't too picky about loose ring or eggbutt though I like the look of the loose ring better.

The catch was I wanted to spend as little money on these as possible as I had no idea if either of them were going to fit. There were tons of options out there, but I wasn't paying $50 per bit. I finally scoured eBay long enough to come up with a 5" curb with a low port and short shanks (The long shanks on the borrowed bridle kind of ate his face.), a 5 1/4" loose ring bradoon, and a rubber curb guard (Bobby is not a fan of curb chains, and actually uses a leather strap instead of a chain on his hackamore) all for $45.

I added everything to my cart before doing one last read-through of the descriptions where I noticed 11mm as part of the bradoon where I immediately spiraled into, "BUT IS ANY OF THIS EVEN LEGAL?!"

Assuming Bobby ever gets to show in a double, I sure as fuck didn't want to have to buy all new bits. Off I went to the rule book to make sure 1) the thickness of the bit was okay (it was) 2) the length of the shanks were okay (they are) and 3) the swivel shanks were legal (they are).

too lazy and hot to take off fly boots for pictures

Bits ordered, I debated how long I had before I could start bothering bridle seller about shipping me silver Otto. She finally got me a tracking number on Thursday at which point I had received the curb and curb guard, had ordered and received a pair of reins that I hated, and ordered a different pair of reins that were on their way. The bradoon took a week to get shipped, so this morning ALL THE THINGS came ALL AT ONCE!

As soon as I got the bridle scrubbed cleaned, conditioned, and assembled, I went right to the barn. Obviously.  And the result?


I'm not sure if it's the design of the bridle, the bits themselves, or Bobby's pony sized maw, but I'm not loving the way everything sits. Some tweaking got the bits to fit pretty damn well inside his mouth, but they kind of look a hot mess on the outside. Of course only riding in it will tell me how they feel to Bobby, but he was quiet as a clam once I was done adjusting everything, and with the other bridle he was constantly fussy having them on and would fling his head up when I would take them out. He simply opened his mouth and let these slide out.

So we shall see. He needs new feet to hopefully get him sound, and it needs to not be five thousand degrees outside before any real testing can go on.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Skinny Problems

Let's clarify right of the bat that being skinny is not a problem Bobby and I are currently having. #ifonly

Our skinny troubles are more along the lines of this:

you fucker.

Bobby is not a stopper, he's more of a run out-er, only his run outs are more along the lines of, "I'm jumping the thing! The thing just might actually be air instead of the actual thing I should be going over."

Overall he's a pretty honest dude when it comes to jumping though, and we haven't had much practice with skinnies so I put Hubby to work this weekend building me one to practice over. Not that we really event anymore because I hate all things eventing up here, but what's more fun than having real cross country jumps in your horse's back yard?

clearly he was as excited as i was

We ended up making it only 2'7" tall since its 4'3" width and 4'6" length gave it plenty of technicality while still being jumpable for other people in the barn. A couple pieces of conduit pipe gave us our "flags" to help channel one Bobby Magee through, and off it went to the barn. I ended up putting it in one of the back fields off a nice curve from another jump since BM is making a couple other legit jumps and I didn't want everything fun stuck in the front field.

After a brief shower to cool Bobby down this morning as the humidity is atrocious today, we started in the indoor with a single on the diagonal and a skinny bending line. We haven't jumped in a few weeks, but Bobby was on his game while still being completely reasonable. It's amazing what all that dressage work does. He picks up the most perfect canter....and then just holds it. Magic!

We had zero issues with any of the jumps so after fifteen minutes we struck out for the back field.

He wanted to blast over the logs, but listened to me and kept his shit together. As soon as we made the turn, he locked right on to the skinny and never gave me a second's hesitation. I popped him on the shoulder anyway because it made me feel better so he jumped it like it was 4' high, but perfect canter, perfect distance, easy peasy.

Hopefully our days of falling over because he tries to sneak out at the last second are over.

unnecessary, sir. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Book Review: Training Strategies for Dressage Riders

Where to buy: Amazon, or there are a couple used copies on eBay

When we were in Maine this summer, we spent one rainy morning driving out to Bangor to try to find a battery charger for my camera. That was a complete fail by the way, but we passed a tack store in our journeys and obviously swung in so it wasn't a complete loss of a trip. Along with my sparkly spur straps, I also perused the consignment section and grabbed a couple of older books for $8 a piece.

One of them was Training Strategies for Dressage Riders by Charles de Kunffy, and I'm so glad I snagged this. It's one of the few training types books I sat down and read from cover to cover instead of flipping through and only reading the sections I thought were relevant to me.

As an aside, I've been living a lie my whole life and totally thought his last name was de Knuffy. Surely I can't be the only one who thought this? Or are my reading comprehension skills really just that poor? Probably the latter.

First of all, the most important takeaway I got from this book is this:

everyone should wear gloves, you savages. 

This book moves along in a fairly chronological order, from an overview on the goals of classical equitation and how to emulate the best riders and their positions to exercises on bending, flexion, and gymnastics for your horse. It wraps up with a look on judging, competition (and how to throw down a proper salute), and the best tack for dressage.

This book was originally published in 1984, and the one I linked to on Amazon is from 2003. I wonder if any of the pictures got updated because one of my favorite parts of this book is seeing young Arthur Kottas and Steffen Peters in pictures.

A few other takeaways I found interesting:

  • The walk. He says many riders neglect the walk for various reasons. Some find it boring, while others feel it's too basic of a gait and is reserved for beginner riders. "Most of us do not 'fall in love' with the art of riding by being attracted to it by the walk. ... Had we desired to creep along at a slow pace, we could have saddled an ox." He also says that insufficient movement during a young horse's growing stages (not enough turnout) can lead to a poor walk. 
  • Changes. "The horse is ready for the flying change if he can maintain elasticity in performing the extended trot, half-passes with cadence at the trot, and collected canter." (Or if you're a racehorse and changes come easier than walking in a straight line, Bobby.) Elasticity is the key, these are just the movements that best show off if your horse has it. 
  • "The Thoroughbred is an excellent horse." Promising, right? Only it's the first sentence for the chapter titled Insubordination of Horse to Rider. That made me LOL. He goes on to say that while Thoroughbreds are the embodiment of athleticism, it's that very thing that makes them more difficult as a dressage prospect. They're so sensitive and can carry a past with a lot of baggage which makes the relaxation part of dressage not come easily to them. 
  • Bits. "The most gentle and therefore the most appropriate bit is a simple jointed snaffle. ... A bit with only one joint in the center is recommended." SUCK. IT. I can't stand reading people harp about how a single jointed snaffle is abuse and so harsh and yada yada. French links aren't for everyone. Bobby hates having any sort of middle piece to his bits and has always gone best in a simple single joint. 
I've also gone back and re-read his section on the double now that we're starting to play with one a little bit. "The use of the full bridle must be earned by the horse and deserved by his rider." I've been reading everything I can find about the double lately because I'm kind of afraid of it still, but I thought it was funny that in this older book he preaches the use of 3-1 reins which is now considered completely out-dated.

looks way too confusing to me

Overall this is one of those books that sits on my side table instead of in my bookcase. Its extensive list of exercises and problem solving is something I keep coming back to, and his chapters on equitation always give me a kick in the ass to sit the fuck up and sit the fuck down. (Then I get sloppy and have to go back and read them yet again because dressage is hard.)

I wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone interested in dressage from a basic level to those who have a real interest and passion in it. There's something for everyone, and it's an easy, engrossing read.