Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Im back!

So i'm the worst blogger ever.

No, seriously though, I get it, because its pretty much true.

Its been literally almost a year since I logged on.

Why you ask?

Laziness.  Pure and simple.  I got busy blah blah blah.

Obviiiiiously being busy affected how much I was riding and life got in the way (pesky life!) But I am back and I would really like to keep track of my rides and how we progress and I figured there was no better way than finally logging onto my blog again!

That is if all my blog friends don't disown me!

How about a recap of the last year in a nutshell:

- Pony is awesome.  She is bombproof and amazing and I love her with all my heart.

- Her 'injury' doesn't slow her down a bit - but i'll do a whole other blog post for that!

- She has been ridden a lot and then not so much on and off for the past year, so right now she had a small winters hibernation with the craziness of the holiday season, but now she's gonna be back to work!

Wow, I guess not much happened in my past year now did it?

Sunday : 

I got home from a christmas vacation to see my family and immediately rushed to the barn to find what looked like a swamp monster.  Look at that tail! Have you ever seen such a mud creature? The rest of her body was just as bad!

So, since I had just gotten home and by the time I got to the barn I only had about an hour of sun left, I dunked her tail in hot soapy water and soaked off the mud clods and left the legs for another day. I grained her and put her in the arena to let her roll, its sooooo muddy that none of the horses have been rolling.  Pony's in pasture now, I've mentioned that right? She has 10 acres with a bunch of men and loves it to pieces.

She rolled once and then just kept coming over to me, so obviously she's not too roll-deprived.

Monday : 

I got to the barn in the afternoon and literally spent like 5 hours grooming her. Seriously.  She was muddy EVERYWHERE.  First i got a hot soapy bucket and stuck each foot in.  That took like two hours to finally remove all the mud from her legs.  Finally, however her legs were clean, but then it still took hours more to remove the mud from her belly and undo her mane braids and make her look like a real horse again.  Finally after all of that I jumped on her bareback for like 15 minutes (pathetically short ride) but keep in mind she hasn't been ridden in probably 2 months or so and she was quiet and calm as could be. Such a good pony! I just wanted to see how responsive she would be etc, and thank you very much, she was WONDERFUL.  So I took that as a win and went home.

This was after I spent all afternoon grooming her.  She has white legs?! Who would have guessed! This was also after I finished spraying her down with tick spray, did I mention not only was she covered in mud but ticks? Poor thing!

Tuesday : 

Today I came out to the barn to find her feet muddy again.  When will it dry out?! The mud is getting better, before christmas I sank up to my mid calves in mud when I stepped into her pasture....now its much more manageable!

I can't make this turn, but you get the just

It was freezing cold and windy today (keep in mind, my california version of freezing cold is probably pathetic to all you hard core people) but it was seriously windy.....like we're having power outages and toppled trees and such.

So after making her as pretty as I could, I threw a saddle on and took her to the round pen (Did i ever do a post about my new saddle? I bought a super expensive one and its amazing and fits her perfectly)

On the way to the round pen we did a few circles and changes of direction and opened all the gates. woohoo for a superstar pony!

Once in the round pen I dropped the reins and got a nice trot, and I just worked on my seat for quite some time.  Even with the wind howling through the valley and the fact that I haven't ridden in two months, she was slow and calm responsive and wonderful.  I love my horse, seriously.  So I worked in the round pen for about half an hour, mostly focusing on how soft and centered I could make my body, trying to really engage my core and moving as little as possible on top of her.  She gave me the cutest and slowest little jog that made it super easy.  I asked for a few laps of lope (to the right, her easier side given the muscle problem) and after that she was fairly more woken up, so it took more work to get her to quiet down in the trot but overall considering how she used to be, she was sooo bombproof! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Where do you even start?!

So you find out your horse has a muscle problem.  The vet tells you it won't heal without a surgery.  Your horse will definitely not be able to lope on the left lead, no small circles, and no hard hind end work.

Where do you go from here?

My vet is a very kinda, sweet, wonderful and knowledgable older man.  I definitely trust him and his opinion, but most of us know that vets usually aren't clued in or won't go out of their way to advocate 'western' medicine.

However, when I heard that it won't heal,  I simply refused to believe that.  So I got to doing my research.

First is diet.  There are anti inflammatory properties that come in omega 3's and 6's.  I chose to get a 50 pound bag ($35) of flax seed since that tends to have a bit of omegas in it.  Beware though, you must give horses ground flax seed, whole flax seed will simply go straight thru their body.  But, when grinding you can only grind a small amount at a time (like a week) otherwise the oils in the seed will go rancid.  However, when doing my research I found out that the whole seed can sometimes aid in colic since it becomes very slippery when wet and will kind of glide right through their intestinal tract. If I had a horse that was prone to colicking I might give them some ground and some whole seeds in their grain, but definitely do your research first, I only saw a mention of this, and it could not be accurate at all. I am also putting apple cider vinegar into her feed, she honestly LOVES it and gobbles it up.  Its a natural anti inflammatory.

I also currently have her on MSM, but I am going to keep her on a joint supplement simply because she is 15 and why not help her joints out? Also, since she has a mechanical problem, this can often cause horses to compensate with other muscles/parts of their body.  If she is going to be using other parts of her body I want to help support them as well.  What joint supplement I want to use or keep her on I am not sure yet.

There are a lot of joint supplements, immune supplements, feet supplements, intestine supplements.  But what are there none of? Muscle supplements! This is ridiculous.  Muscle health comes from all around health and minerals, so I would like to get a blood panel done on her, but first I want to make sure she is on a stable diet so I know what to change.  There have been too many varying factors right now so I don't want to get one done and realize thats not exactly what she is getting.  Regardless, there should seriously be a muscle supplement on the market!

My massage therapist mentioned the supplement transfer factor to me, but I am still doing research about what I want to put her on.

Second is fitness. Pony is seriously fat right now.  When you gain ten pounds, do you feel better or worse? Immma guess you feel like crap and don't wanna move.  The extra weight on her is going to make her joints/muscles/everything hurt.  So she definitely still needs exercise.  Lunging her is out of the question, turns make it difficult for her.  and at this point I don't want to stress the muscle.  I want to engage and use the muscle without making it hurt.  If you pull a muscle in your leg, getting the muscle warmed up will make it hurt less, but if you run a marathon its gonna damage the muscle further.  Such a fine line to walk.

So I can't lunge her, I don't want her to go balls out in the arena when I turn her out, since accelerating, bucking, galloping is all intensive on her hind end.  So, I ride her.  However, I'm doing lots of walk trot in straight lines.  Which pretty much means around the ranch, since who wants to walk trot around the rail forever.  Plus, this has been going on for so long she is very nervous while being ridden.  She is apprehensive about having to lope, knowing it is difficult for her.  She gets super nervous and overall its not a fun time in the arena.  So i've been doing just a little each day, walk trot, around the ranch in long straight lines.  She's such a sensitive little thing I am working on trying to build up her confidence and show her she doesn't have to be a spaz.  I am going to start adding some lope in before too long, but there again, right lead lope in a straight line.  I am going to stay away from her left lead for a while, she has so much anxiety over it, I want to ignore that specific problem until it isn't such a big deal anymore.

Third is Physical Therapy.  We all know what scar tissue is.  It's hard, calcified, and not elastic any longer.  My goal is to break up this scar tissue.  Is that possible? I don't know.  But I am going to try.
How do you break up scar tissue? Well, first, I am heating up a rice bag and holding it on her leg (warm compress) and then stretching the leg.  I'm trying to do this multiple times.  I am being very gentle with the stretches, she needs to give into it and not pull against it.  Therefor, do not force their leg!!! I hold her leg around her fetlock and stand by her front foot and pull it towards me.  When she gives, I am gentle to her, and she will eventually tell me when she is done.  I stretch it forward and up, and also forward and down...anything to get that muscle stretching out.  Try to keep it held for a little while (30-60 seconds) at a time, and then do it again.  I do it a few different times while doing other things in between.

What else I am doing is massaging her leg with DMSO.  Ever heard of it? I hadn't either.  I did some research and understood it totally less after reading about it than I did before I read about it.  Regardless, I'm using it.  It was recommended by my massage therapist.  Caution, USE GLOVES! It burns.  But I am massaging it into her leg and her hock, my massage therapist mentioned her hock could get stressed from the muscle being so tense.  I try to make sure it is all massaged and loose, and then I do the stretches again.  The solution gets weirdly hot when you begin to rub it on, and also it crystalizes in anything under 70 degrees.  I got it out and went to pour it and realized it was totally crystalized.  It quickly liquified again just by me holding it enough to pour what I needed out.  Its kind of messy, be warned.

My farrier was out today and mentioned that from a shoers perspective that it would make sense to put bar shoes on her hind.  Bar shoes support the heel and therefor support the hock, stifle, and hip.  My shoer simply said that anything that is supporting her hind end could help her to maneuver.  He wanted to make sure I had my vets blessing before he did it though, since he doesn't know the precise condition the way a vet would.  I heard back from my vet, and while he said he didn't know if it would help, that it definitely wouldn't hurt.  So I am going to do that so that we can help her out as much as possible!

Basically, this is the immediate plan in the works. Its all about trying to help that hind end out and break down the scar tissue.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Finally, I have returned

I promise to stop being such a terrible blogger.

Basically, Pony was up and down and up and down and I got tired of writing about it.

However, seventh months later, I have a solid diagnosis.

Pony has ossifying myositis in her left hind leg.

Never heard of it? I didn't think so.  Its not a very common thing to happen.  Which seriously sucks.

Basically, one of the muscles (either the semimembranosus or the semitendanosus) has turned into hard scar tissue.  When this muscle turned into hard scar tissue, the muscle lost its elasticity.... therefor she has a difficult time bringing her left hind underneath herself, and if she overexerts herself it will then cause her to short step because that muscle tightens up even more.

This problem causes a mechanical lameness.  There are a lot of horses that get it, and simply deal with it.  However, because I have the most special pony in the entire world, it freaks her out and she can't handle herself.

And this brings you all up to date with where I am today.  I only found on a firm diagnosis on friday.  I am trying to come to terms with what this means for us and our future together.

I bet you are all asking 'So how do you fix it?'  Long story short, there is a surgery but that is only for much more extreme cases and it doesn't have a super high success rate.

This is a relatively uncommon occurrence that happens as the result of a few things.  Sometimes, it can be a calcium deficiency.  Sometimes, it can be the result of trauma, and sometimes it can be hereditary.  Apparently, something as little as being in a trailer with a butt bar and having the brakes slammed on can do it.  Or a kick from another horse they live with, and since the trauma is usually invisible to the outside, how can I ever know what could have caused it?

So, this should be a strictly mechanical problem, but clearly my Pony doesn't think so.  So we are starting the long road to hopefully a recovery.

Unfortunately since this is a relatively uncommon problem, and most horses deal with it, there isn't a lot of information about options I have to help her overcome it.  It is definitely possible for it to heal, but it is not guaranteed whatsoever.

So now this blog will become a documentation about me and pony trying to rehab out of this so that hopefully we can help someone else who has this problem with their beloved Pony.