June 28, 2015

Positive Thoughts Needed for Gem

WARNING: Graphic pictures in this post

Saturday started like so many others before and ended in a way I have both never experienced and hope to not repeat.

Around 2:30 pm we took both the truck and van to the barn. The plan was to trim Pete, say a quick hello to Gem and attach the new tie rings to the trailer. I wanted to hook the truck up Saturday and take the van home with my boys to add any minute of sleep I could to Sunday morning. I was going to be up at 4:30 am to get 20 miles in before the heat showed up.

It all fell apart pretty quickly.

Dusty pulled Pete from his pasture and he was 3 legged lame on the left front. Pete has never been lame and is not in any work right now. We probed and picked and poked, but didn't find any abscess, heat, or areas that would shed light on the issue. We put him back out to check on him Sunday and hoped that it either went away or declared itself.

Wyatt and I picked blackberries along the mare fence line while Dusty attended to Pete. Gem was watching me from the far side of her pasture and I yelled out a hello, but didn't go in to see her.

Next we went to the trailer and we were both kinda sour by now with worry over Pete. Dusty quickly realized that he didn't have the correct drill bit and his mood went even farther down the drain. It was getting late and Wyatt was tired, hot and hungry. We all needed a break so we left to head to Lowes and get the correct drill bit. I figured I would see Gem in the morning, so no big deal.

Well, it was a big deal.

We went to Lowes and got the stuff and when we got back to the van I had a missed call from the BO. I went to check my voicemail figuring it had something to do with Pete and then he called Dusty. All he said was that Gem was cut, bleeding and needed stitches.

We went back to the barn.

Fortunately for Gem's sake, another boarder had gone out to get her mare and noticed Gem was bleeding. She did the right thing and caught her to bring her in to the barn. It was bad. The BO put her in a stall and wrapped it as tight as he could then called us.

This is all we saw when we got back to the barn and pulled her out of the stall and into the cross ties. Lots of blood. At this point we figured it was bad.

We added more wrap to her hoof and called the vet. She used the hoof just fine and was acting normal other than the blood squirting out of her leg every time she moved. Our regular vet was 1 hour out at best, so we called the vet the barn uses. We don't use them for two reasons - 1) they charge double what everyone else does in town and 2) they aren't friendly. They were 40 minutes out, so we said to come out and we waited.  The on call vet told Dusty that no horse has ever bled to death from a hoof laceration. I want to call him back and tell him a thing or two.

We settled in and waited. My parents showed up to help with Wyatt and kept him busy so Dusty and I could both attend to Gem. I also texted my friend Sheree in a panic and she did her best to calm me down.

The blood just came squirting out with her every move and it was bright red - not venus blood. We knew she cut an artery of some sort. We kept adding gauze and more layers of wrap and just felt helpless while we waited. 
The vet showed up and had an attitude a mile wide. He came to the wash stall and said to walk her out of the barn and all the way up front to his truck so he wouldn't have to carry his stuff over. The walk left bloody footprints the entire way.

Once out front, he gave her a sedative and took the wrap off. It wasn't good.

At the barn in the driveway. We saw lots of blood and exposed bone. 

She had cut through the medial heel bulb, but he couldn't see if the flexor tendon was cut or if she got into the coffin bone. 

We talked options. He recommended we go to Tryon Equestrian Hospital where they have board certified equine surgeons and even a vascular surgeon on staff. He said that he couldn't suture it himself with any confidence that it wouldn't get infected or die off. I looked over at Dusty and with tears streaming down my face, I said ok. Make the call and refer us.

He did tell us that we did a great job wrapping her which saved her losing even more blood. I was actually beginning to like him a bit at that point with his direct, but kind way of letting me know what was going on and what the best choice was. Until he confirmed the referral and then just started admonishing us for not using them for our regular vet. Seriously, as he re wrapped her up and then got the paperwork sorted all he did was grill us on why we don't use them and then go off on how it would be better if we did and all the benefits of using them. Yeah, this is why we don't. If I had any inclination to switch vets, he had killed it off right there.

I called my brother to see if he could take Wyatt for the night knowing it was going to be a long night. He had spent the morning moving into his first self owned house and I felt bad having to ask, but my parents had said they couldn't watch him. My brother agreed, but after the vet left I told Dusty to take Wyatt home and I would go alone. We didn't need to drop off a tired, hungry and cranky Wyatt.

I asked the vet to reverse the sedative and he said he has seen horses hauled sedated all the time. I was annoyed that he wouldn't reverse her or give her anything for the pain. Have you ever tried loading a drugged up horse with massive wrapping on a cut and bleeding hoof while you are crying your eyes out? It isn't easy and it took a long time.

Eventually I was on the road. The hospital was only 45 minutes north in NC and the route was pretty much all highway. It was nearly 7:00pm by this time.

When I pulled into the drive they met me outside the hospital. They asked how lame she was and I told them she wasn't at all, so we unloaded her outside. I went in the trailer to clip her lead rope on her and they undid the back doors. When I came around back to unload her I saw their expressions at the pool of blood on the trailer floor. Even with he vet's wrapping, she continued to bleed everywhere.

We got her inside the beautiful facility quickly. The head surgeon was there as well as an intern and a skilled tech. We led her into the x ray room to take a closer look and she unwrapped her hoof. Blood squirted across the room. The vessel was shooting blood everywhere. She had cut a pretty big artery to the hoof.

She quickly accessed the situation and asked for a hemostat to clamp off the artery only she couldn't get it so Gem went into yet another wrap. I loved this vet from the get go. Tears would intermittently stream down my face, but I kept it together enough to listen to what she was saying.

Gem needed full out surgery ASAP. Yes, she could bleed to death from this. No, they didn't have a donor horse on property, but they did have plasma. She took blood work and she saw signs of acute blood loss, but not enough to be scary. The brief run down was this:

Surgery to stop the bleeding, rinse out the tissue and inspect the flexor tendon and the coffin bone. She suspected both were involved but didn't know for sure. Either way she would need to stay in the hospital for 2 weeks in a cast to prevent motion of the heel bulbs and give her the best shot at healing.  Was I game?

I was tired, stressed and my heart was full blown breaking at this point. I was also very much alone. I couldn't think straight. She asked if she was insured. I said no. I had a question that I needed to have answered, but I couldn't articulate it right and just kept watching Gem bleed through the dressing. I know the vet was annoyed, but I needed to ask it and needed to ask it correctly.

I didn't care about her endurance future. I didn't care about if she could ever be ridden again. I needed to know prognosis for a pasture sound horse. She is only 16. I don't mind a pasture pet for the next 10+ years, but I do mind a painful barely able to move pasture pet. I needed to know her prognosis as a pasture sound horse. I did manage to get it out in a somewhat clear manner and the vet finally understood my question.

Good prognosis for pasture sound
Guarded for riding
Probably not for endurance.

Ok. Take her away.

We moved her to a nice stall to get her ready. I can't recall the last selfie I took. I don't have any on this phone which is now 2 years old. I took a very bad one with Gem in fear I wouldn't get another chance at pictures with her.

Blurry, crappy selfie

The intern was extremely nice and friendly. She placed the catheter in her neck and gave her both Gentamycin and Maxcell (a 3rd generation Cephalosporin). She then rinsed her mouth out to prepare for intubation. Gem bled through the wrap while she was being prepped. The head vet then came to take her off to the operating room.

I signed my life away and they showed me to the waiting area. I told them I would stay through recovery and might be pacing outside.

I headed outside and saw a beautiful sunset as I broke into sobs.

Then I waited. I paced, I talked to Dusty, I texted with Sheree. I paced some more. Eventually I became too tired to pace or cry and headed inside.

Another local friend, Theresa, texted to say that they were at a horse show 10 minutes away and would be over as soon as they could. I thanked her profusely.

The time slowly dragged on.

About an hour later the intern came out to tell me the good news:

Her flexor tendon and coffin bone were fine. They saw no foreign material outside of normal debris. She was stable. They were going to start closing her up and would be out when they finished and she was awake.

I sighed in relief of that. I knew a cut tendon would be very bad. At least this was in our favor.

Theresa, her husband and sister all showed up around this time. It was 11:00pm. She brought my favorite snacks, something to drink and the best thing in the world right then: a huge hug. I needed it.

We sat around and talked about Gem, her horses, the horse show. Anything to pass the time. It was a great distraction.

The head vet came out around 11:30 or 11:45pm. It had been a long surgery.

- The coffin bone and flexor tendon were fine

- The entire medial heel bulb was almost sliced off, but was healthy and had good blood supply

- She was able to tie off the artery and her hoof would do fine without it

- The exposed bone was an ossified side bone - I had to look that up. The collateral cartilages that run in the heel bulbs can calcify/ossify in some horses for numerous reasons. It is usually an incidental finding and causes no issues - This one was now fractured so she removed the fragment and rasped the remainder smooth

- She was able to suture it all together again, but there was a bit of tension. She used wire through the hoof wall itself and placed stents which she wasn't happy to do under a cast, but better than having loads of tension on the wound

I think that was everything from surgery. Next we discussed her recovery.

- 2 weeks in the hospital in a weight bearing cast. This is vital. That soft tissue has to heal and it has to heal without it opening back up, becoming infected or becoming dead. The cast will keep all the tissues immobile to give it the best shot. She does not want to have to take it off before 2 weeks.

- She would continue to get IM Ceph and Gentamycin for 3-4 days then switch to oral Ceph and Amikaycin (Spelling?) ( a less toxic aminoglycoside)

- She also will be doing something I find very interesting called local perfusion. She will place a tourniquet on the leg daily then infuse both lidocaine to help with the tourniquet pain and additional antibiotics to the small vessels that feed the injured tissues. This will force the antibiotic to leak into the tissues. This will be done as long as the vessels remain open which is typically 3-4 days. Infection is a very real and dangerous risk.

- Bute for at least a week

- Gastroguard daily

- 4-6 more weeks of stall rest at home to follow

- Once out of the cast she will need bar shoes to prevent any motion of the heel bulbs while it continues to heal. Probably 6-8 weeks in front bar shoes.

I thanked her profusely, asked if I could see her and then she took me to the ICU to say hello. Theresa came with me and we were both surprised at how good Gem looked. She was using the hoof with full weight and looked bright eyed. I gave her a kiss and said goodnight.

I went home with an empty trailer around midnight.


Visiting hours are only 9-10 am and 4-5 pm every day. Which sucks because I work those hours, so visiting is going to be difficult.

Dusty, Wyatt and I went up Sunday morning to see her.

She was still in ICU mainly because they wanted to limit her motion and wanted to avoid the walk to the other stall area if possible.

Gem is not an affectionate or vocal horse. She may nicker quietly if I have food that I am withholding, but that is all I ever get. When she saw me down the hallway she let out the loudest, happiest whinny I have every heard from her. It put an instant smile on my face and I ran over to her. The staff, including the head vet from the night before, all looked around at her and broke into big smiles.

Gem did well overnight, but was pacing way too much. She had a window outside in her ICU stall, but the neighbor's sheep had wandered up in sight and it was making her very nervous. Plus, she has never liked being in a stall if she can't see another horse. ICU was completely walled off from stall to stall. Head vet was worried she would blow through her cast, so she was going to move her after her local perfusion that morning. She already had ACE on board, but would be getting a higher dose.

Gem has to stay calm.

Other than that there wasn't much to report beyond what I knew from the previous night. Hurry up and wait. AND PLEASE GEM STAY CALM.

Once the cast is removed in 2 weeks we will know more. The hope is that the soft tissues have healed. If there is infection, dehiscence or dead tissue the game will change. We are playing it day by day.

I took some pics of the facility to share.

The front

Gem's ICU stall. She is looking outside at the sheep. Doesn't she look so pretty and super fit??

Pacing. Pacing way too much

Her casted right hoof. 

Her new stall. She will have neighbors on both sides she can see through the slats plus some across the aisle. The sheep won't be visible out her new window

I thanked everyone again and we left. I won't be able to visit until Wednesday morning due to their crappy hours and my work schedule. I really need her to be good.

After we left I needed a mental break from it all. There is a supposedly gorgeous new show facility about 10 minutes away where Theresa had been the night before. Tryon International Equestrian Center. You can google it if you wish. We decided to take Wyatt over and see it.

It didn't disappoint. The place is massive and not even completed yet. Tons of rings all holding hunter or jumper classes. The Grand Prix the previous night had a prize of $120,000.

We walked around the facility for a while (did I mention that it was free to get in?) and then headed home. I was exhausted, but we still needed to check on Pete and walk the pasture plus talk to the BO.

When we got home, Dusty went to the barn and I stayed home with Wyatt to give him a break from all the running around. Dusty said he found a massive chunk of hoof wall shoved under Pete's frog which we hadn't seen the previous day. He removed it and Pete walked off much happier although still a little off on hard ground. We will watch him closely.

Dusty also walked every inch of Gem's 35 acre pasture looking for anything that could have caused this. The only thing he saw was that the far upper left corner of the fence (which is my least favorite fence of all time: hot wire that isn't turned on) had the bottom strand all deformed and loose.

The BO had taken in 3 almost starved horses a week prior just to get them out of their situation. He planned on caring for them until he could find a suitable home for each. This corner of Gem's pasture is the only area where she could have seen the new horses and they are separated by a 12 foot wide lane. My guess is she was curious and stuck her foot through, got caught, and pulled it out causing this.

Ok..well...that is plenty long. I will keep you all updated as I can. Please pray for my Gemmie. I just want to bring her home.

A huge thank you to everyone who commented on the posts on FB. Also to Liz who has become an amazingly warm and friendly person in my life through this blog. She messaged with me Sunday morning about everything and helped calm my fears. Saiph (another fellow blogger) also helped with some questions I had regarding wraps for when Gem comes home to me. I can't thank everyone enough of rat kind words and thoughts. Gem and I have a long road ahead.

June 27, 2015

Hot Yoga

So this is a story I was going to write up a week ago, but then all the boots happened and I got side tracked.

My mom and I go to a local Jazzercise place every Thursday evening. I enjoy it, get a decent work out in and feel better when I leave.

Two weeks ago we showed up to find a dark building. A storm was rolling in, but seriously it is indoors and it wasn't like a tornado warning had been issued. I quickly checked online and yep - it was cancelled due to the weather. Now, to be clear, my mom and I are the only two people who show up for the 6:45pm class for the last 3 or 4 months. She has our numbers. She knows we are related. It would have taken her 3 minutes to call one of us to inform us of her decision to cancel class and avoid us showing up in the rain. We were annoyed.

Since we were there and dressed in workout attire, we decided to stop two doors down at the yoga place.  I have been wanting to try yoga anyway, so why not?

HA! I doubt we could have been more out of place if we tried.

It all began at the beginning.

The door clearly said OPEN and the lights were on. We tried the door, but it was locked. My mom knocked. Loudly. A very annoyed, pencil thin, middle aged woman came to the door expressing her displeasure of these two drowned rats banging down her door. The previous class was just finishing up and it was quiet meditation time. Sorry, lady. Change the sign to CLOSED next time. Or keep it unlocked. Either way.

We walked to the office to discuss things and figure out pricing, class times etc. Luckily, there was a 6:45pm class up next that we were welcome to join. She asked where our mats were. We explained that we didn't have any. We hadn't planned on yoga and have never participated before. Could we borrow some? With a look of utter disgust, she agreed.

I had to run out to my car to grab the $20 to pay for us both. I have no clue what transpired in my absence. When I got back I heard the lady say "104".

I looked at her aghast and exclaimed "$104?! I thought you said it was $10 a person?"

No, you moron, it is HOT yoga. It will be 104F in the room.

Oh...that is much worse. Could I just pay $104 instead?

Meanwhile the teacher showed up. A late teens/early twenties perfectly tanned super skinny girl with indian tattoos. Want to feel like a fat bowl of porridge? Attend hot yoga. My mom and I looked at each other and gulped.

It got even better.

The class was 26 poses over the course of 1 hour 15 minutes at 104F. To expel toxins and warm up appropriately we were not permitted to towel off or drink for the first 4 poses. Ok...how long could 4 poses take? We were game.

And then we entered Hell the room. It was hot. It was still. It was suffocating.

We spread out our mats and took our shirts off to keep semi cool. Thank god for sports bras. My mom whispered her first of dozens of "I'm going to KILL you".

Then the instructor walked in and laughed.

Ooops...we forgot to turn up the thermostat from the last class. It is only 95 in here. It will be up in no time.


We got started making a mental note that nobody else had decided to join in. Go figure.

The first pose was a breathing exercise to open the lungs and expand the chest. We did it about 20 times. Then we repeated it again.

I was hot. I had a river of sweat running down every inch of my body. I wanted a drink. These four poses better hurry up.

The first 4 ended up taking about a half an hour. I think my mom told me she was going to kill me about 6 times at that point. Then we drank and used our shirts to towel off, not having brought a real towel. We looked real classy.

Time to get into the real poses. We did our best which means to say that we failed miserably and I got dirty looks for laughing and making faces at my mom. We were the only two there, so I didn't see what the big deal was. I wasn't making fun of yoga or the instructor who bent in ways I didn't know were possible. I was laughing at our incompetence and the fact that even when I tried to do a pose, my skin was so slippery from the river of sweat that I just slipped right off. It was funny.

Here is an example:

We did one pose to work on balance. Since we were new and alone she showed us the different levels of technicality for the pose.

Easiest: stand on left leg and rise up on just the ball of the foot. Hold hands palms together, fingers straight up (like praying) with elbows out to the sides and hands at your sternum. Breath deeply. Right leg used as a kickstand with toes on floor and heel against the left inner ankle. Basically just stand there and pretend you are doing any sort of yoga at all. (excuse the horrid paint skills I am showing off here)

Intermediate: Right leg up so the inside of foot is resting against the inner left thigh knee pointing outward. I tried this and after figuring out how to not have my right foot slip and hit the floor hard, it was actually a fun little exercise to work on balance and breathing.

Hard: Right leg up to left hip crossing over front of body. Nope. My foot came nowhere near my hip.

Insane, are you even human: Right leg up on left hip. Bend over. Squat down so that your butt is just off the ground and all your body weight is concentrated on the ball of your left foot. Yeah - never going to happen. (sideways view below)

Or another:

Easiest: Stand on left leg. Bring right leg up with knee bent so that thigh is parallel with the ground. Hands as above. Breath deep the inferno.

Intermediate: Straighten right leg out in front of you and grab right thigh

Hard: Bend forward and grab your calf

Insane, are you even human: Bend all the way flat grabbing your right ankle then go up on the left toes.

We squeaked through the class staring down the clock and sweating more profusely than I have ever before in my entire life.

Eventually it ended and we snuck away.

I don't think they were sad that we didn't become members that night.

June 26, 2015

Renegade Fitting Take 2

Are you all bored with her boot fitting posts yet? Sorry. Probably one more after this one. Since it continues to be insanely hot and not safe to ride, this is about all I have to write about anyway. Plus I want to keep all these thoughts written down in case I need to get new boots or for the inevitable day when Gem gets retired and I have to fit a new one. Lets just hope that is 10+ years away, shall we?

Due to my own procrastination, needing to gather funds, and attempts at other boots first I am running short on time to make exchanges and still feel confident going into WV. The original thought was to try the fronts on her for our long ride this Sunday. If they didn't work, though, I would then have to wait for Monday to roll around to get in touch with Renegade, mail them out Tuesday and probably not get the next pair until the following Monday. That would mean that my last long ride weekend would be bootless by default of not having them.

Instead, I ditched Jazzercize on Thursday night and went to swelter at the barn. It is a good thing I am my own boss because I doubt anyone would have tolerated me watching the Viper video and lengthening the cables in the middle of a work day. Gem was happy to come inside with me and stood politely for the boot placement. She is becoming a pro at patiently allowing me to mess with her while she dozes.

I decided to take her for a run around the mare pasture this time for two reasons a) it actually has a hill that is fairly steep although short and b) it has a lot more bare hard packed clay versus grass to see how she moves out on that. I was a sweaty pig with a big headache after only a mile and was thankful to get back to the barn. These triple digits need to go away!

She moved the same as before: heel first landing, happy to trot or canter.

Here is the deal:

The left front is both a smidge too short and too narrow. Enough that they agreed it should go up a size. Keep same small original captivators. Now that I know how to adjust the cables and why I can mess with lengthening or shortening them as needed to get things situated right. Size 135 x 125. Those are getting to be big feet!!

The right front fit perfectly. The captivator sat just right, no scuff mark, no flipping. With a perfect fit I have two options: keep them and hope her feet don't get even a single mm larger in any direction or also go up a size. I hemmed and hawed, asked Renegade who wasn't very passionate either wa, and then annoyed Liz about it as well. Consensus: go up a size. 135 X 125 original small captivator for this hoof too.

The hinds are going back for next size up shell and viper captivators size D.

These will all go out to them today to hopefully arrive by Tues so I can get my new set in by next weekend for our last long ride weekend.

June 25, 2015

Renegade Fitting

Tuesday night is my night at the barn. I bailed on work an hour early to run to Tractor Supply and get a new hoof pick, gloves for Dusty and some Showsheen Mist for Gem's tangled mane. At the register the lady carded me for the Showsheen.

Ok...I get told I look young all the time (thanks for the good genetics, Mom!), but I am 33 and seriously I don't look under 18 or whatever age you can legally buy mane detangler in this state. Seriously, what do people use it for that you need to be an adult to buy it?  I think I might be in the wrong field. Maybe I should stockpile it for the black market.

I ended up getting to the barn and all set up around 5 just as the dark clouds also arrived. I ignored them since that seems to help a lot in these circumstances.

Gem was due for a trim anyway and I thought it would be best to try the boots on after a trim, so I tackled her four feet. The hinds are staying really nice and I was able to lower the front heels even more. Plus the BO is an ex-farrier and lent me his apron and hoof stand. I think he got tired of watching me perform his trade in the worst manner possible.

Her right after I finished with it. I haven't touched the left yet. It is seriously looking more and more normal every trim. I am so glad Liz convinced me to do this myself. 
When the thunder hit and the rain started pouring against the tin roof, I was worried that my plans were ruined. Except when I gave Gem back her foot I saw this:

Completely unfazed mare 

Rain, thunder, lighting...who cares! As a side note - look how sweaty she is just standing in the barn . I felt a little bad depriving her of the nice cool shower, but figured she would survive. 

I continued on my way and sometime later I finally finished. Luckily, the rain had too and so after I quenched my thirst with lead  hose water I decided to move forward with trying on her boots.

I tried the fronts first.

The boots fit just like I read they should: slide on and require a small tap from the palm to seat the toe. The captivators slid up on her heels and settled fine at first.  I tried to tighten the pastern strap leaving two fingers looseness, but the strap then didn't reach the rubber stops on the far side. I could make it if I pulled super tight, but that goes against the function of the boot. I left it as loose as I dared and made a note to ask. The toe strap is a little confusing as far as how tight to go with it. The directions are extremely vague stating to tighten just as much as you need, more if  harder terrain, less for easy terrain, think of your own shoes. I made it snug and hoped it was correct.

Everything looked fine in regards to length and width. The captivator liked to fall down on her heels instead of staying where I put it. I tried to lift it back up, but it wouldn't stay. I don't know if it was just settling to where it should be or if this was a function of the cables, too tight toe, too tight pastern or something I didn't even think of. Another mental note to ask.

Front right in the Viper shell with original Renegade captivator. I like how her hair line is much more parallel to the boot angle now. You can see the gap to the pastern strap.

Right front still. I'm not sure if the captivator fits her well or not. The padding comes down lower and nearly touches the shell, but the actual plastic part is a good fingers width above it. 

The toe strap was made snug and it fit into the rubber loops with a 1/4 inch left over. The pastern strap was just at 2 fingers loose and the tip very barely reached the rubber stoppers. 

Left front fit the same basically. The pastern strap had a little more give to it than to the right, but still not reaching the rubber stoppers all that well. I think the captivator should come up a hair, but it kept settling down like this. I'm thinking maybe the cables need lengthened. Just a guess though. 

See how the pastern strap doesn't reach the rubber stopper? That can't be right, but I have no clue what the fix is.

Again, the padding on the captivator was just barely not touching the shell, but the plastic was a finger width above it. I wanted it higher, but couldn't get it to stay

With both fronts on in the matter of minutes and without any cursing at all, I moved to the hinds. It was immediately evident they were too small. They were much harder to get on and the shell didn't cover the hoof as well. I tried to pull the much smaller and more streamlined Viper captivator over her heel bulbs, but it wouldn't go without forcing it. I gave up and put them back in the box to be exchanged.

The shell was harder to get on and was a much tighter fit in general. The shell did not cover the heels as well either

You can see the freshly rasped heels outside of the shell. Too short

Her tail got in the way, but I barely got the captivator up and over the heels although that is probably due to the short length of the shell itself. I like how streamlined the Vipers are and hope a size larger would work to keep these captivators. 
Since the rain had stopped I could now venture outside. I decided to run with her along the 1 mile gelding track. This way I could watch how she moved, how the boots functioned and be safely out of the way if she decided to freak out. We headed down the hill at a jog and she was honestly hesitant at first. Once we made it down the hill, she decided she could move just fine and really reached out. I mean like full heel first landing and fully extending. Like running past me. Like breaking into a canter for the first time on the lead line during a run with me. She LOVED her new foot wear.

They made a flip floppy sound. I have read FB comments about this and didn't stress over it. I made another mental note. Man, these questions were starting to add up.

We made it the mile without me fainting and Gem was drenched even with so little exertion. Jogging in this weather is serious hard work. Somewhere along the way I had the brilliant idea to try the fronts on her hinds since they are just one size up. They have the other captivator as well. Once back at the barn I took them off and tried them on her hinds. They fit very well.

Much better coverage of the heels with this size. Please ignore the dirt in the tread.  This is the room available with the captivators in place. 

Another view of the space between captivator and shell

See how the pad touched the shell once the foot is down? I couldn't keep the captivators up where I wanted them.

The pastern strap and toe strap fit much better on the hinds. 

We didn't go hard, fast or long enough to really get an idea of how they would rub her if at all in the heel bulbs. I was surprised to see a nice well defined linear scuff mark along the entire top edge of the boot on her hoof wall. Not deep, but I do wonder what it would be like 50 miles later. I made note to ask if this was due to a too tight toe strap, too loose or what.

I didn't have it in me to run her around with just hinds on. For some reason I didn't mind just fronts but found the idea of just hinds to be odd. Maybe I should have.

Anyway...it was clear Gem loved the boots on her fronts. I am going to do all I can to make these work out for her. Their service is stellar, so hopefully all my millions of questions and pictures get to them in the morning and they have some simple solutions. I will have to mail the backs back and will see if they also need the fronts to make changes or if everything I was worried about can be adjusted on these shells. Hopefully I can tweak these and keep them for a longer trail ride on the weekend when the temps are dropping into the mid 80s and I can get a good work out in early Sunday morning.

Cross your fingers for us!!

** Edited on Thursday. Ashley got in touch with me very quickly with responses to my questions. Everything is either due to a) the cables being too tight or b) the boot being too narrow. Or I guess c) both. I lengthened the cables and will try them out on her again tonight at the barn. She also agreed that the hinds were too short and to go with the front size on her hinds, but with the next size up Viper captivator on it.

If the fronts work with just lengthening, I will return the hinds for large size shell and caps. If the fronts end up being too narrow, I need to see if I should just keep the shells for the hinds and order new caps and how hard those are to replace versus just sending all 4 back and getting different everything.

Tonight will be telling. If I can get them sent back tomorrow I can then get new ones back in my grubby little hands before the Holiday weekend so I can still test them out over longer rides. After next weekend Gem starts her taper for WV.**

June 24, 2015

How Not To Trim Your Mare

1.) Decide to do it at 5 pm when it is 100F (literally) with high humidity

2.) Leave barn clothes in your car all day in the sun

3.) Pull on hot breeches and scald your legs in the process. Curse yourself for being too lazy to bring them inside the air conditioned building

4.) Realize you forgot water

5.) Grab horse and put in crossties and get to work. Become a sweaty mess within minutes and no longer be able to see due to all the sweat running into your eyes.

6.) Hear distant thunder

7.) Continue trimming as a thunder storm rolls over head and rain starts to pound the metal roof

8.) Praise Gem for being the wonderful mare that she is and not being fazed by it all

9.) Drink copious amounts of water from the barn hose then have the BO tell you the pipe is lead lined and to drink from the other spigot

10) Notice that the rain dropped the temperature about 10-15 degrees and smile

11) 10 minutes later realize that the humidity has just sky rocketed and it is hotter than ever

12) Finish up some amazingly long time later, completely soaked through with sweat with a drenched mare and still have boot fitting to get done

13) Hug your horse a million times

June 23, 2015

Bragging Rights

I don't say this very often because I find blog posts that are written just to say "I LOVE MY PONY" can be a bit hard to read if done too often.

But guys...I LOVE MY HORSE.

When Gem and I came together 5.5 years ago she was a nightmare. I was more of a passenger than a real rider and we just clashed. A lot. I've mentioned some of her bad behaviors in the past and the beginning posts on the blog are a recap of what we went through if anyone cares to read back through. We have both grown a ton in the time we have spent together and while there are always things for both of us to work on, she really has become the most amazing mare.

If anyone would have told me that I would be hooking up the trailer, loading her up, driving an hour away to a brand new to us trail system and riding her solo I would have laughed in their face. Heck, I couldn't even make it a single lap around the arena without a major melt down, hissy fit, nearly being thrown episode. And many times it did end up with me being thrown.

I debated selling her numerous times, but something made me stick with her and man am I glad I did. The reason I did was because I never dreaded riding her. I never felt terrified or like I was going to get extremely hurt and while she has dumped me on purpose just because she could, she was never malicious.

I will write up what happened Tuesday night separately which will explain this post even more, but for now I just want to put it in writing that Gem is an amazing mare, falls and all, and anyone who knew us at the start wouldn't even be able to recognize us now.

It is an amazing feeling.

Windridge Hunter Pace

Another raging hot day. I am up at 5 am and out of the barn drive by 645 to beat some of the heat. It is an hour north to the ride site and promises to be a fun day.

The drive is uneventful and I am the first one to arrive. As I register for the Hunter Division, Dusty and Wyatt arrive as well. Depending on how the trail rides and the weather, I plan to go out for the first loop then eat lunch and potentially head back out a second time.

I get my number and tack up noticing that the entire lot is a big open field in the sun. I head off to start as the trail opens and for the first time ever we are first out on trail.

The trail starts up a steep incline in the woods. We are in the shade of some old forest growth and the morning is perfect. It is already 80 degrees out, but the sun is hidden and there is a slight breeze. I push Gem to make good time while we can and we head off up the hill and deeper in the woods.

The trail zig zags through the trees and we are both on our toes looking for the pink ribbons on the right that marks the way. This is all on a privately owned 200 acre farm, so the offshoot trails have been cut off with tape. While it would be hard to get lost, it would be easy to miss a turn and end up in the middle of the trees.

Sorry for the blurry picture. The trail heading away from camp.

Lots of climbs which was great and made the mare work for it
Gem is being pretty good. When she starts to ping pong down the trail I urge her forward. If she has enough energy/time to be an idiot, then her feet aren't moving fast enough. She responds well and settles in.

Less than a mile later we come across her worst nightmare. Gem hates all things bare wood: a stick, a stump, a log, bare jump standards. If it isn't a standing tree or bush, she hates it. At least it is predictable although annoying. We pop out of the woods and run behind the equipment shed for the farm. We enter her tunnel of doom:

Made extra large so you can experience it. The trail was surrounded by piles of dead sticks and logs that went above my head. They must have done a lot of clearing work on the farm. I did my best to remain relaxed and keep my leg on her. She was apprehensive, but walked on with only a few snorts of disgust and quickly picked a trot back up when we exited.
The trail then pops us out along the cross country course. It is beautiful. We follow the mowed path in the long grass and Gem locks onto a jump. I inform her that I have no intentions of jumping it and we skirt on by.

Gem looks at the jumps making sure I haven't lost my mind

A ditch to a cross rail.

A cute little house

We make our way around and between the jumps and the shade is still overhead. The morning is warming up, but as long as we stay in the shade it isn't bad at all.

The trail then dives back into the woods and begins a long descent. We cross the first of 6 creeks and Gem balks. I know she is just being a brat, so I urge her forward and over we go. The bug down by the creek are horrendous. I want to move along faster to avoid them, but the footing isn't so good down here. I now know where all those sticks came from up behind the equipment shed. It looks like they recently bush hogged this for the ride. Thankfully they spray painted all the left over stumps bright white so it is easy to avoid them. The trail is rutted and full of left over sticks and logs that we pick our way around.

Spray painted stumps
We cross the creek a few more times and Gem ignores my offer to drink. She typically will not drink until 10 or so miles, but it is nice to offer it when possible. She is drenched in sweat but moving fine and we continue to be in the shade and moving out.
Lots of hills to climb

I can't hear anyone else behind me and there isn't a road in sight. I feel like we are in the middle of nowhere. As we continue along the woods by the creek I see a strange sight between the trees.

Random outdoor arena. We were 2 or 2.5 miles into the ride at this point without any roads to be seen. I'm not sure how they typically get to the arena.

We meander around the outer edge of the arena and then head back to cross the creek two more times. After that we get to a large hill that looks recently logged. It is a steep ascent in the sunshine, but we make it up without an issue. At the top I am rewarded with a gorgeous view. Two Broad Wing hawks are soaring up above and it is just breathless.

Climbing up

Looking around as we make our way up the hill

More up in the sunshine

By the time we get to the top Gem is pretty wet and hot. I let her walk down the other side since it is still in the full sun and then we dive back into the woods for the last time.

About 3 miles in. This is the last of the shade for the day
Most of the trails are absolutely gorgeous with perfect areas for cantering. Given the heat, which has continued to climb, I keep her to a more steady trotting pace with some walk breaks here and there.

From here we get back to the cross country course and I begin to worry about the heat and sun. In fact, I wish they would have ran the course backwards with the sunny part earlier and giving shade towards the end. I'm sure they had their reasons though.

The trail weaves along the cross country course up and down the hills to add miles. At mile 4 I receive the text from Dusty and at this point I have no idea where on the trail or what caused it. We are in the full blown sun with no breeze. I decide to only get Gem moving when it is either down hill, shady or there is a breeze. If none of those things, we walk.

I know there are different opinions about how to handle sun versus shade. Some like to push hard through the sun and dawdle in the shade to recover. I prefer the opposite. Knowing how I react, it is much harder on my body to go fast in the sun and I would rather ease up and push hard through the shade. That's how I chose to ride Gem and it worked out fine for us.

Beginning the cross country section

You can just make out the white poles marking the trail through here. As we went along one stretch you could see the next section running almost parallel as we switch backed through the course.

In cooler weather this would have been a blast to canter or gallop through

We are on one section and that is the next one we would get to eventually. it was a little torturous to weave along like this
I'll admit my enthusiasm for this ride has now dwindled. We are 5 miles in with 2.5 more to go in this sunshine. I am worried about Gem, not because she isn't moving well but because I know a horse went down and not the reason for it. Gem moves out perkily when I ask, but I am limiting it now that we are both frying in the sun. Looking  at the never ending long switch backs I debate just cutting trail and getting back. I don't know who has Wyatt or how they are fairing. I don't know how Dusty is doing or what happened to the horse. I'm a anxious.

I decide to just keep going and then my phone dies so no more pictures. Eventually we skirt the woods along the start and I spy Dusty holding up an IV bag of fluids next to a chestnut horse who is flat on her side and not moving. I hurry along to the finish.

We finish in decent time: somewhere around 1 1/2 hours or so. The first 4 miles flew by at a great clip, but we lost a lot of time in the second half. Gem is dripping, but breathing fine. I hurry past the in timers and they say Wyatt is doing just fine.

I untack and sponge Gem to death, make up the second half of her soupy mash (I gave her the first half for breakfast) and then go find Wyatt. He was having a blast playing in the hose, mud and some legos he commandeered. Everyone loves him.

I'm now slightly paranoid about leaving Gem ties and out of sight since she got loose at Clemson, so I drag Wyatt back to the trailer to play with the water buckets and we await Dusty. Not long after he comes and tells me the story of the horse. 

We walk back up for lunch and I drag Gem along with me. She is cooled out and happy, but I worry. Too much probably. They let me put her in a stall next to registration and we eat lunch talking with everyone and then head on home not waiting for the year end awards. I felt bad, but Dusty had already had a crappy morning and we were all a little heat fatigued. I wanted to get Gem back to her pasture.

I think in the future I need to dig my heart rate monitor out for these hot rides. I'm sure I am being overly conservative, but man it gets hot out and I just don't want to kill my horse. Having the monitor would at least let me see her recovery times. I need to figure out where I put it.