Friday, January 27, 2023

Mud vs Me

Charlie has endeavored to instruct me on many aspects of horse care. Sadly... despite, uh, extensive repetition, I'm still somewhat hilariously shitty at wrapping hooves. 

spare shoe for maximum precision in duct tape reinforcement
But ya know. I'm a gambling woman, so let's review my latest effort and take bets on whether or not it'll survive the big test: Charlie is returning to turn out today (yay!), but will have to cross significant mud to get to his lovely grassy pasture. 

betadine + animalintex worm shoved in there with a hoof pick 
And ya know. There's still a friggin hole in the bottom of his foot. The options, as I understood them, were to either.... 
- Keep him in
- Let him out, and not even bother wrapping
- Or make an attempt at a boot that's at least slightly mud-impervious 

relatively loosely wrapped gauze to hopefully protect heel bulbs
The trickiest thing is that the mud is wet (duh) and deep. And it's literally the first obstacle in Charlie's path. Which means that if he fills his boot up with mud within the first few steps out, he'll be standing in a mud-filled boot all day long... A distinct, but not ideal, possibility.

lol... feedbag layer for actual shits 'n giggles
I added a layer of cotton gauze hoping it'll be loose enough padding as a base layer that I'd reduce any risk of making the wrap too tight or having any pressure points on the heel bulbs or coronet band. Tho... if mud DOES get into the wrap, this layer will likely hold a lot of moisture. 

vet wrap... again, relatively loosely
I also added a cut out piece of feedbag to reinforce the weight-bearing surface. Someone told me about this hack years ago, but it's never really worked for me before. In the past, I used it under the duct tape layer. Hopefully slipping it under the vet wrap will work better? I dunno!

Anyway. Last step was the duct tape. And yea, I know, someone always tells me "GoRiLlA tApE iS bEtTeR" and... sure sure, agreed, it is. Tho ya know what's good enough? What I have on hand, haha. Sometimes the best tool is what you already have. So. Duct Tape is good 'nuff. 

duct tape bottom patch applied and taped on
As you saw earlier, I like to make a reinforced lattice patch, with lots of extra tape layers where the shoe sits, and a couple lengthier overhangs to fold up over the walls of the hoof. Plop that on the sole, then do a couple loops around the edge to solidly secure. 

pressure-relief snip, more duct tape.... and (lol...) some elastikon as a last ditch effort to keep the mud out.....
From there, I just build the duct tape up the wall and over the heel bulb, attempting to make a shape that can't easily be ripped off, while also not being too tight. My plan was to make an extra sort of "collar" out of elastikon as a final resistance against mud filling up the wrap... but naturally only had a literal scrap of the stuff left. So I sealed up the space behind Charlie's pastern...

place your bet, ladies and gentlemen!
And I guess we will hope for the best lol. There are a couple possible outcomes as far as I can tell.... The wrap could fill with mud, or rub Charlie raw, or blow out on the bottom, or fall off entirely... Or maybe it'll still be there doing its job when I get there tonight? 

What do you think? Do you do it differently? See any critical weaknesses in this wrap? (And please don't say "Gorilla Tape" lol...). Is it worth the bother? Overkill? Or do you figure, eh, that hole will probably seal up and what's a little mud anyway? 

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

King of the Dings: Bone Bruise Edition

Ugh, guys. Everyone is out here making goals and plans for the new year, legging back up and all the things. Meanwhile... We're just.... ya know... still doing what we were doing when I last posted.

pop quiz: who's really in charge here? 
hint: probably not me LOL
Generally speaking, Charlie's honestly had pretty good feet. Sure, they're a little small, a little shelly... Soles are a little thin. But by and large, they've been fine with thoughtful management.**

(**Not withstanding a few very important lessons I had to learn the hard way, mostly relating to working him on hard ground....) 

dramatic reenactment of the offending gravel 
(also the diagram i made for a friend who checked on chuck while i was out of town)
Except... Somehow we've managed to accumulate a history of fairly acute hoof trauma

flashback cafe to Episode #1: Roofing Nail Edition
As if anybody could forget, there was that time Charlie stepped on a god damn roofing nail right in the middle of a jumping lesson. Literally mid canter stride. 

and again, to Episode Oh My Fucking God Why Is This Happening Again: This Time with Mulch
And that other time when he somehow Punctured His Hoof Capsule on a Piece of Mulch WTF. Or... uh, that other time when he picked up a shoe nail while out in turnout, and carved a big ol' hole in his foot by carrying it around for a while. 

turns out when you compensate for one leg long enough, others start to get sore too.... chuck gave us a scare by standing on two legs for like... three days in a row. Sir! Stop!!
In each of those past cases, while Charlie escaped serious injury from the acute trauma itself -- no joint involvement from the punctures, no serious infections.... He ended up abscessing within ~2wks, and in some cases became sore or bruised on his other compensating limbs too. 

"haha just kidding i'm fine!" -- charlie, released for a brief wallow + wiggle
So recovery has always been a long and drawn out affair. And y'all don't need me to tell you: Charlie will milk any little ding for all it's worth. He feels everything at an 11, know what I mean?

wild animal lol, that stink eye <3
This most recent encounter involved a spiky bit of gravel wedged tightly between his frog and shoe, in what were already soft muddy conditions. It was there for an indeterminate amount of time, and the horse was significantly lame even after I got it unstuck.

actually well enough for some proper freedom too!
january 13
I should say, tho --- I am immensely grateful for this detail. I saw the rock, I pried it out myself. Saw the immediate effect. There was no guess work about WHY my horse was so critically lame in that moment. 

but, eh, not for long. peaks and valleys, y'all. thank god for Mikey lending us a hand!
for anybody interested: i opted to Ice-Vibe the support limbs vs the lame legs, figuring it's probably the weakest of my medicine, so i'd use it on the least affected limbs. all 3 non-abscessing feet also got magic cushion, while LF got wrapped in ichthammol 
Bc guys.... Acute hoof pain can make a horse look like it broke a friggin leg. It can be scary. A LOT of people have spent A LOT of money in the history of horses just to diagnose and learn -- ooch, ok, just a hoof bruise or abscess... 

"it burnssss :( "
We are also lucky in this case with Charlie that.... After the initial bruise calmed a bit, but *before* the abscess set in, the horse recovered enough to go out with his friends for a few days. During which time he did in fact trot and canter around like a sore, but basically ok horse. 

same characters, same place, different day...
So when he became significantly lame again, we didn't have to play the game of "Did we miss something? Could he have chipped or cracked off a piece of his coffin bone? Or somehow injured something in his soft tissue?"

mikey <3
Which... Again, if you've had to play that guessing game.... It's awful nice to just have answers. We know it was a rock, wedged deeply into his foot. We know he got better before getting worse again. Classic abscess yo-yo-ing symptoms. 

so helpful
Naturally I made a vet appt anyway bc.... Eh, my vet is immensely practical, but we both kinda have a shelf life for how long we'll let a horse be very lame without taking a closer looksie. For this case, that shelf life was about 3wks -- following multiple (3) targeted PEMF treatments and two separate multi-day courses of bute (while discontinuing the Equioxx). 

srsly tho, i've been told mikey is more popular than me, so here's your fill! 
So I made an appt, with the agreement that I would cancel if the horse was better. The horse *did* get better too, actually, plus a drainage hole appeared!! Yay!! 

I kept the appt anyway tho bc eh, the vet was already gonna be at our farm so... Why not. And -- in the interest of full disclosure:: it was basically $100 for an in-person consult. #CoolWithIt

houston, we have a hole! yay drainage! 
It was helpful too. Obviously -- yes, we already knew it was an abscess and the horse is improving... But he's still not better better. In fact, my vet suspects he has a deep contusion or bone bruise, and that it'll continue to be a slow recovery. 

So we made a plan for abscess treatment while still being realistic about accommodating the bone bruise, especially as it relates to a return to turn out and, eventually, ridden work.

just a little animalintex patch to keep it clean waiting for the vet. it'll be fully wrapped for a few more days with epsom salts + some variation of a strong iodine to keep clean. then it'll get wrapped with a hardener like, again, a strong iodine or keratex, to prepare for return to turnout. 
also--- you can literally see the indentation in the frog where the gravel was
Any of you who've had significant bruises knows what that's like. It'll just take the time it takes. But, as is often the case with my beloved King of the Dings, who loves to veer oh-so-close to the edge of catastrophe and calamity: full recovery is expected. 

I'll just have to be patient haha. Or go way off the deep end and buy a second horse.** Not very likely, mind you, but a bored girl can dream ;) 

**PS: Please don't tempt me with links to incredible unicorn sale ads ;P

Thursday, January 5, 2023

new year, new toys

So.... There are some things I really really don't like to change in my horse's life. #1 on that list is my horse's farrier. Charlie has been fortunate to have a number of farriers who have done very good work for him... And each time one of those relationships ended was a moment of serious anxiety for me. 

nobody does "Sad Face" like charlie lol
We moved on from Charlie's first farrier because... Well. We moved. Sadly... to a farm outside that farrier's area (tho you better believe I begged him a little anyway LOL). After a little trial and error, we settled in with Charlie's most recent farrier -- with whom we stuck from 2017 thru 2022, to excellent effect. But.... He has a life of his own too and actually bought a new business with his wife, retiring from shoeing horses. Womp.

We've been with the new farrier for a few cycles now, tho, and honestly I feel pretty good about things. And actually -- new farrier doesn't mind doing rim pads, something first farrier did, but second farrier preferred not to. Second farrier said they squeezed out* too easily but new farrier cuts them wide so there's more coverage of the sole and therefore less movement. I like it! 

(*Of note, he would indulge me and give Charlie a transition cycle with rim pads before going fully unpadded for wet winters, and his rim pads were always absolutely perfect and never budged.)
this pic is hilarious to me --- i look like a crazy person bc what you don't see is charlie comin in hot, and manager michael about to explain the concept of personal space to him lol
Charlie wears full leather pads from basically March to December... but I like to leave his sole and frog more exposed during our very wet winters. Since the new farrier is cool with rim pads, we can still give Charlie that little bit of extra clearance for his thin soles, and also the slightly softer edge so his walls crack less. 

Tho. Uh. Charlie got a pebble wedged between the edge of the rim pad and his frog. Like.... really stuck. Probably bc the field is so wet and waterlogged right now, conditions were just right for this little speck of gravel to cram itself into the softest bits of Chuck's poor hoof. 

apparently i put the muck tub in charlie's nap spot, but.... uh... he just stepped in and got comfortable to catch some Zzz's  LOL
He followed me allllllll the way out the long trek down out of his field.... but as soon as we got out the gate and onto the main path, he basically refused to move forward while shaking his hoof in my face until I inspected and removed said speck. And then he died was basically crippled ugh. 

new toys! courtesy of Eventing Nation's 12 Days of Christmas giveaways 
I'm pretty sure he's going to survive this latest ding, but did give him about 24hrs in his stall with bute and Magic Cushion to let his feet dry and the bruise calm down. 

these little chargeable inserts produce vibrations 
AND. I figured it was a good enough reason to test out my latest new toy --- Horseware Ice Vibe boots that I won via Eventing Nation's 12 Days of Christmas giveaway!!

the gel packs are better fitted than most, but seem to be basically the same material
As far as I can tell, these boots are basically your standard fare ice boots very similar in style and function to the Arma Ice Boots I already have. Just, ya know, 4x as expensive LOL. 

the outer boot is very nicely designed -- these aren't slipping anywhere
There's an inner gel pack liner that needs to sit in the freezer for 2hrs+, and a fitted neoprene outer boot. Notably, both these pieces are very well designed and fit the horse's leg quite nicely. The gel packs have their own velcro too so they can sit on the leg even without the outer boot, unlike the Arma gel packs that attach to the outer boot. With that said, tho.... I'm pretty sure you could swap out whatever gel packs you wanted and the boot would still work. 

The distinguishing factor for these boots is the little motorized vibration insert. And this is honestly what I'm most interested in anyway. Any ice gel packs on the market only really stay cold for 15-20min max, so if you're in a situation where you need real therapy -- you'll need continuous cold hosing or buckets of actual ice water anyway. 

But the vibrations... It's supposedly a bit like a massage effect -- and can be done in conjunction with cold or heat therapy, or... ya know... just by itself. The outer boots have built in pockets for the vibration insert so you can localize where it sits if you wanted, or could theoretically put multiple inserts into one boot. 

looks like he's gonna live. this time. 
I think Charlie liked it! It took me a little while to figure out how to turn the darn things on once they were charged (pro tip: read the user's manual to learn that you must press the button for 3 full seconds), but once the pulsing vibration setting was active, Charlie just kinda stood there, zoned out, and licked chewed and yawned for a while lol.

ooooh meet Icee -- he manages the rough board barn haha
(each barn building at charlie's farm -- there are a few -- has its own cat boss)
Reviews I read said that people liked to use these boots while they were grooming and tacking up for a ride --- kinda getting a head start on boosting circulation through the legs. So that's kinda my plan for now too. The idea is that the vibrations increase circulation and help resolve any persistent fill. 

Tho, some other reviews indicated that the little motor on the vibration inserts doesn't last super long. So we shall see. I'll keep you posted. 

nobody bosses better than mikey tho <3
Overall, my impression is pretty positive just in terms of construction and effect. I used the boots on Charlie's front legs for this test, since his LF is bruised. Generally, tho, his hind legs are often the most susceptible to low grade fill, so I'll experiment with them too. 

We will see, I guess haha. Have any of you used these boots before? Did you like them? What was the use case where they worked best? Or are there other therapy tools you've used that you thought were really worth it? Or, uh.... NOT worth it? (Or are you just here for the cats??)

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

finishing the year with arena xc

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! I'm feeling good about buttoning things up with 2022 and am looking forward to the new year, how about you?? 

Anyway. Things have been pleasantly peaceful and quiet around here for the holidays. Charlie is good, I got some (desperately needed) time off work, and the weather produced an absolutely delightful little window last week after that epic deep freeze most of the country experienced.

trucky truck 2.0 finally got a maiden voyage!! 
Obviously we would take advantage!! In the middle of a wine-induced text gossip session with a good barn mate, we realized --- omg the weather would be so good! We must go! To Loch Moy!!! With FRIENDS!! 

And a plan was born to fill all the spots in both our respective trailers! Charlie would invite his BFF Punky, who has had a hell of an 18 month roller coaster, but is ready to go do things again. And fancy pants young mare Rosette would invite Spirit, who you all may recognize from past adventures --- and who officially became an owned pony (vs leased) this past Christmas. Much excitement all around! 

lol for some reason, despite having a gigantic pasture of open grass, charlie was chillin (puns lol) on the one sheet of ice??? 
We definitely weren't the only ones with this idea, either haha... Loch Moy was bumpin when we pulled in around noon. Trailers errywhere. Lesson groups and local pros and familiar faces were crawling around the sprawling facility, with everybody in undeniably buoyant moods given the great weather.

It really is basically an eventing playground, too. Loch Moy has 8 acres of all weather footing divided into 3 interconnected (gigantic) arenas, one of which has built in features like ditches, banks and a water complex. The rings are packed with beautifully built portable xc fences ranging from 12" to 3'5. Plus the courses were set for an upcoming derby, complete with flags and numbers so it was easy to determine each jump's level just by the number color.

brosef lol.... it doesn't have to be like this! 
My plan with Charlie was pretty simple, too. I just wanted to have fun. Run around. Jump some things. Enjoy it. And I'm happy to report that we absolutely accomplished that mission LOL. 

If there was one big win from the past year, it's been getting my nerves and anxiety and expectations etc under control and in alignment by focusing on just doing the things that I WANT to do. Which, go figure, are not always the things I think I *should* be doing... nor the things that are necessarily going to be the most impressive or whatever.... But, turns out. Nobody cares as much as I do about how I feel doing the things I do -- crazy, I know. It's been a process, tho, to hammer this mentality into my head. 

oooooh open schooling on 8 acres of all weather arena footing in Loch Moy's derby courses!
We had a good time, tho. Well. Actually, Charlie was a bit shockingly spooky all day haha. One of the horses in our group spooked hard at some plastic wrapped landscape material near the mounting blocks when we first got on... Charlie didn't care about the plastic, but DID care that his friend was so scared. And since he didn't really understand WHY the horse was scared, maybe he just assumed he hadn't seen the monster yet, but it might be right over there omg

So that was kinda fun dealing with his random spooks and jolts lol... But honestly, aside from him looking for monsters whenever we were just wandering around, he was a total pro for the jumps. As always. 

d'aww charles <3 <3 still occasionally popping over T things! 
We jumped one or two Intro things, then another one or two BN things to warm up. Incidentally, including one surprisingly impressive looking BN brush fence going straight toward the parking lot that Charlie thought was reeeeeally kinda sketchy lol so he basically flung himself across it from quite a long distance away LOL. Nbd tho... 

Then moved quickly on to just jumping around the various N things. We stuck mostly to the jumps with a rolltop type profile --- wide and impressive enough to just let me push Charlie up to them and let him take care of the rest (vs more delicate or vertical type stuff that he often treats less carefully...). 

he's my favorite 
And he was basically perfect. Totally rideable, totally easy. After our first jump school since going on Equioxx, I worried that maybe he was going to get too strong again and start running away with me... So I put a hybrid leather/chain curb strap back on the hackamore instead of just a straight leather curb. 

Honestly don't know if I noticed a difference during this ride, tho. Except to say the hackamore continues to feel like the most natural, best bridle I've ever ridden this horse in. We are both so used to it, and we've definitely found our sweet spot for "contact" to the jumps. 

To every single jump, it felt like I could take that contact and close the leg, and he was just bang on the aids. He could wait for a distance, or move up to it -- either way without much effort or fanfare, and with nice even strides to every jump. 

Honestly I really just live for these rides. We rode for about an hour, but didn't jump a zillion things. Just focused on jumping the jumps that looked good -- and putting in good efforts. We didn't do any banks or ditches or water on this day either, mostly bc... Eh, the water was choked with ice chunks, and all the other stuff was kinda crowded by lesson groups. 

Tho we DID finish with one good Training level jump. Just a basic roll top that we've probably jumped before -- but a good effort. Charlie, bless his soul, was perhaps a little tired and not totally expecting the height increase haha -- so he had to put in a bit more effort. He nailed it, tho, and we finished on that. 

oooh he got a new bridle for christmas too!
I'm pretty excited about how good he feels, too. Like, sure, it's winter, the ground is trash, and our general condition is at the mercy of the weather lol.... But all the pieces are there, ya know? Gives me a really good feeling that we're on the right path --- doing the things that we enjoy, that feel easy and fun. 

Everyone else in our group had really really solid rides too -- it was just a good juju sort of day. Each horse had slightly different goals. Rosette only just started really jumping a couple months ago, but really really impressed on this day -- totally nonchalant about the jumps and finished with a great effort over a beefy BN roll top. Punky worked through some of the excitement of being out again after prolonged down time, and finished with some nice N efforts. Spirit was also basically the most perfect pony ever for his teen owner (eeeeee!), and also finished with some N stuff. 

Go team! 

hangin out at the rig with his buddy Spirit while we waited for the rest of our gang to finish up
Plus it was a good first outing with the new truck, which needed its own preparation to be trailer worthy --- including a new tonneau cover, and obvi electric brake controllers. The truck drives quite a bit differently from its 23yo predecessor LOL, the suspension is significantly stiffer and obvi the absurd mudder tires feel quite different on the road (and are probably getting replaced sooner rather than later). But it pulls and -- more importantly -- stops the trailer just fine. Yesss!

So. Last ride of 2022 is in the books. And now here we are in 2023. I'm excited. Charlie feels good, I feel good, and the rig is operational. Bring it on! 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

silly season schooling

We're getting to the time of year in Maryland where the ground is basically constantly wet. After enough dry days in a row tho..... Ooooh the footing is just *mu-ah!* perfection! 

lately the herd has been hangin out in literally the farthest corner of their {giant} pasture
Especially since rain was on the forecast again, I decided to take advantage of current favorable conditions to do some jompies with Charles and his newly discovered zest. 

it's a full quarter mile round trip just to get the horse in lol 
This past year I've tried to get a lot more intentional about my jump schools at home. There are basically always jumps set up, and usually interesting lines and exercises, which helps a lot. Except.... The jumps are generally always set to crossrail or 2' heights. 

god it's worth it tho <3 <3
Sure, it's fun to occasionally bomb around some tinies.... But... turns out, I take the schooling session a lot more seriously (as in, I don't fuck up as much) when I actually take time to set heights and walk distances. What can I say -- I just ride better when I have a plan, ya know?

lol, behold the Dad Bod in a slightly different environment.... considering his options while i set fences
For this ride, I didn't really go crazy --- but wanted to play with the gymnastic-y type exercises set up: a creatively visually interesting (but ultimately easy) 1-stride; a compressed 2-to-2 treble... Plus I set up a line of trot poles spaced at a bit of a longer distance than I normally do.

fairly open set of trot poles!
I really liked these trot poles, too. We played with them throughout basically every phase of the ride. Obvi first to just get a feel for them while trotting around. 

But then we also played with doing transitions up into trot immediately before the poles; and transitions down from canter to trot right before the poles. This slightly more generous distance worked well for both scenarios, actually, and Charlie nailed the exercise every time, good boy!

oooooooh it's an angular in-and-out!! boxes set into a ">   >" type configuration, 18' distance
Charlie actually, uh, nailed pretty much everything. Well. Almost, haha. Homeboy felt good. He's so bold and brave, too, didn't even blink at this unusual box configuration at the one stride. 

bi-directional 2-to-2 line, set on Trainer P's distances of 30' to 30'. turns out i was WILDLY OPTIMISTIC when i built this line up, haha. hahahahahaha
The treble tho.... Ooh. Hmm. Well. This, uh, did not go quite as well for us, LOL. As in, Charlie was not at all on board with the 30' distances, and it's a friggin miracle we never ended up with a 2-to-1 by accident... 

Idk. Charlie knows how to do this exercise. He's done it at bigger heights too***.... But idk. Our last big jump school was the birthday cross country spin, plus he's feeling all Hulk Murray-ish with the new NSAIDs on board.... And maybe I'm having just a little too much fun getting run the fuck away with by my favorite pony.... So.... Eh, maybe not the right day for this. 

(**Seriously tho..... Who remembers the Chuck from this lesson?? Somebody pinch me, bc I'm getting serious flashbacks with how freakin good he feels right now. Could it be? Does he wanna go bigger and faster again????)

unrelated -- new pair of Tuffrider schooling boots. i like them! not real leather, and the brogueing on the toe cap should be farther away from the toe on the outside boot edge (imho), but they're comfortable and will serve as perfect beaters so i can stop wrecking the zippers on my nice boots
To be clear --- I didn't mess with the distances for any of the jumps on this particular day. They're generally always set on lesson pony strides, which, again, Charlie knows how to do too. But... I *am* allowed to change distances. If this particular line stays set up for a while, maybe next time I'll just stretch it out a scootch haha.

when your filthy horse serves as his own grooming tote
It was fun, tho. In an ideal world, Charlie would do a little bit of jumping about twice a week -- whether that's one day of gymnastic type Grid Pro Quo exercises, and another day of more traditional course work. But with all the inconsistencies of late, we obviously got pulled off any normal sort of schedule. Hopefully we're past that, tho! 

december decorations!
Conditions in Maryland generally stay mild through early winter (knocking on wood), so I'm also hopeful we've got a fair amount of outdoor riding still ahead of us. Maybe even a few more adventures? We shall see, I suppose!