Friday, December 21, 2012

Perpetual newbie, with an added dose of guilt

Crap.  I feel like the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dam--I plug one leak, and another pops (if not three more). It is so exasperating to try and do right by my horse, only to find my "do right" ends up being "do way worse."  Crappity crap.  "Pfft, you think you finally have some sort of grasp and know what you're doing?  HA HA HA HA HA..." -etc.

Tril had his second chiro appointment yesterday.  Chiropractically, he's much improved--his hips are much less pronounced, I'm not noticing cross-firing or stumbling behind as much, and he's not dragging that left hind nearly as much.


Tril has lost weight or muscle tone or both in his hindquarters, and I don't get it.  I've noticed it in the last few weeks, and thought maybe he was "drawn" as I heard someone call it once on their horse--dehydrated.  Pinching his skin showed me it wasn't the case, so I shrugged it off (with reservation) that maybe it's just how he's built and I haven't noticed it.  Yeah, suurre.  I know I know better, but the state of denial is lovely this time of year.

WTF?  Someone deflated the flanks on my horse.  I should really patch that leak.
The chiro hypothesized it could be a few things: loss of muscle tone relating to whatever is going on with his back end chiropractically, ulcers, weight loss, lack of work.  Crap.  Annnnnnd cue guilt.

I've not been able to ride Tril much lately--seriously, once a week if it's a good week--because of three factors:
  1. Schedules became insane as two teachers wound up their semesters (and music teacher hubby had his two school concerts).
  2. Daylight Savings, MY ASS.  I see no daylight being saved when I rush to get to the barn by 4pm, lunge/turn out my horse, tack him up, get on him at 4:30pm, and it's dark by 5pm.  
  3. The weather has been comPLETEly uncooperative.  It rains, the arenas are closed and sealed, they reopen for ONE DAY, annnnnnd hey look, more rain.  I rode him the one day I could (literally) last week, and it rained again the next two days, ruining the rings until today (when I was under post-chiro orders to hand walk only).
#3 is giving me no mercy.  Tomorrow it will be dry enough to ride--and I will--but then the forecast for the rest of the week which I have off and thus have tons of time to ride looks like this:

Apparently, the tectonic plates shifted much faster than predicted and we are now parallel to Seattle.
I'm so torn because in truth, I love the rain.  I grew up in Indiana, with actual seasons and actual weather.  I loooove thunderstorms and miss them terribly.  So part of me is very much, "Yay! Rain!" while part of me is "Aw crap!  Rain!"  And of course, living in the semi-desert that is SoCal chaparral--we need the rain. My whining over riding my horse is myopic and selfish.  But!  WAH!

It's not even that much rain, but it's enough to wreck the rings and make the property perpetually slick.  Since Tril is still learning what trail riding is about, there's not a whole lot we can do on the non-rain days, except maybe handwalk, or maybe (if he's not being Mr. Snorty it's-cold-and-wet-and-I've-been-couped-up-and-I'm-10-and-a-hot-breed idiot) walking around the property.  The chiro, who had nixed lunging at the last appointment, recommended I reintroduce it to get those muscles more in use.  But uh...outside of tomorrow and maybe Tuesday (if it's not too wet in general from the three days of rain before), I'm not sure when that can happen.

One thing I am very grateful for is the delivery of DG last weekend that WonderHubby installed (pun not...okay, maybe kinda sorted intended).  It turned the cesspool Tril's stall had been into this:
Happy horse, clean stall, DRY stall...happy me!
Bonus of the DG was the dump truck and giant piles of DG we started with.  My two sons were thrilled out of their mind.  Giant dump truck?  With a trailer?  Two piles of dirt?  Bliss.  
"See yah Daddy, I'm off for a joy ride."

I was amused how dense DG is.  These two were jumping on it and did not sink. Impressive stuff.
So, he has a blankie and a DG-ed stall and tarps up shielding him from wet winds, so at least in that respect I feel like I'm doing right by him and thus can feel sufficiently good.  (Fly doesn't need a blanket--look at her!  Buffalo would envy that coat.  Since she's so much smaller, she doesn't chew up her stall the way her 4x-larger neighbors do, so she only needed one wheelbarrow of DG in the front of her stall.  She does have a tarp as well, by Tril's side, so they can hang together like herdmates do.)

But now, back to the WTF that is this:
Dammit!  I just plugged one hole in the dam.  Now THIS hole appears.  Fuck me.
The chiro and I ran through possibilities.  Since I had stopped lunging him, perhaps those muscles atrophied? His muscle tone on the top of his butt and on his front end is good--but this is just hollow and weird. we add the lunging back in, in a surcingle so he's properly framed and using his back end, but still limiting the canter work and keeping him on as large as circle as possible.

I have noticed some slightly visible ribs, so he's dropped weight though not much.  This is likely because I had the brilliant idea of weaning him off alfalfa and switching him to a straight orchard hay diet with 5lbs of low starch Integrity feed supplemented in.  Even though I'm not sure the short time period (just about a week off the alfalfa) would do it, but, well, maybe it could.  I've noticed he's turned up his nose in a "fuck this grass shit" way at his orchard lately.  He'll have half his breakfast left when I feed him his dinner.  So, today I bought 150lbs of alfalfa pellets and am reintroducing those to his diet, with the eventual goal of switching him from 1 flake orchard and 1/2 flake alfalfa twice a day to 1 flake alfalfa and 1/2 flake orchard twice a day (I want him to have the grass hay to keep him busy, and really prefer not to have him on straight alfalfa) and then, once the Integrity is gone, putting him back on the Triple Crown stuff they had him on on CPP.

Still gorgeous, but definitely dropped a few pounds and getting a "wasp waist" as my friend called it.
Maybe he's wormy?  No, I checked the calendar on my phone--he was wormed at the beginning of September.  He's due now, but that's it.  

Having owned an older horse before, my mind meanwhile went to two things--teeth and the cold.  How are his teeth?  (I don't have records telling me when they were last done.)  The chiro checked, and yes, he's due.  Not bad, just due.  I'll add that to his visit with the vet next month--he'll get his shots, teeth, and sheath cleaning done.  

Okay.  And, well, it's winter, and while SoCal isn't Indiana, it does get chilly at night so horses burn off some of their food energy just keeping warm.   Another reason to increase groceries and keep the blanket on.  Done.

The chiro was also wondering about ulcers, but I know crap about those, and he didn't want to diagnose.  He seemed to simply say it was a possibility, not a probability, but it's something else to mention to my vet next month.

Maddening.  I do so much to try and do right by my animals, but horses especially are exasperatingly enigmatic.  Here I feel I'm giving him a good life, a better-for-him life than what was, and I "broke" him.  Okay, no, I didn't break him, but body-condition-wise he's definitely not doing as well.  Boo me.  The food will be easy to fix, as is his teeth and the vet visit.  But the work?  <guiltguiltguilt>  

Then I remind myself of this moment yesterday morning.  This was the only ring dry enough to turn out in, and he hadn't been turned out in about 4-5 days because of the wet.  He ran, he rolled, he showed off (see pic above), then he just...stopped.  He stopped, looked at me, and licked his lips in submission.
Dun dun.
Then, he carefully took a few steps toward me, pausing as if to ask permission before taking a few more.
Dun dun dun dun.
When I welcomed him into my personal space, he approached me with respect and curiosity, still pausing to make sure he was not offending.
Dun dun, dun dun, dun dun, dun dun, dun dun, dun dun...
Until finally he was with me, beside me, partnered with me, happy to be petted, scratched, cuddled, rubbed.
He walked alongside me (note the entire time Firefly so very typically not giving a crap). and in moments like these, has made it known I am his people, and he is my partner.  I will find and fix this enigma, and we will move on until the next leak springs--and then we'll fix that one, too.


  1. Hasn't the weather been just awwwwwful? I'm a few hours north and it's been rain and mud and glug and ugh the whole time. Would like it dry plz.

    And I never managed to get DG into my paddocks before the rain so it's been sloop glooop schlurp burp. The mare's side can catch afternoon sun and dry a little, but the Haflinger's is all ucky. Perpetually muddy hooves (thank goodness for plastic bags that can serve as a hoof holder while picking them out)

    And blanketed ponies fo' sure. With extra hay on the cold nights, but I wouldn't feel too guilty if I were you. They'll live, they really will. Aint killed my two yet (*knock wood*), it hasn't, I'm sure Tril will be fine. If he's sunken a bit because of the lack of work, he's not far off from either one of mine (although with this driving thing, at least the golden pony has been getting the exercises) In terms of possible ulcers, my cribber mare gets ACV and Aloe Vera juice with her supps. She was never scoped, but that stuff helps a lot.

    Just remember to breathe. How's the potential driving for the mini coming along?

  2. Gloop, shloop, burp...that's a pretty accurate description of what Tril's stall was like pre-DG. Ick. We wound up putting the DG on overtop the mud, which is not ideal, but whatever.

    As for the driving, I tried a surcingle on Firefly and walked her around, and she just did not care. I was expecting fussing and maybe worrying, but instead she just "Meh"-ed so I decided that (with the helo of two driving buddies) to try some basic, basic long-lining to see what she was like. Of course, I took blog forthcoming, heh.

  3. Back when I was on the full care part of the ranch I board at, I always had sand and DG brought in. Now that I'm down at self care with more room, I'd probably go broke putting stuff in. I think next year before it rains, I want to have gravel put down, put those mats with the holes in them over that, get DG on top. I couldn't do it for the whole paddock x2 because that would really bankrupt me, but making an area by the gate, and then maybe a few paths up to their raised shelters would be really nice. The rest of it can be all gloop schloop schlurp burp, but there'll at least by somewhat dry spots.

    Oh nice! I saw the post on CotH about it, I'll go look at the blog post. :D I'm totally eying that Meadowbrook cart I mentioned to you, still. I just wish it were bigger or that I had a small enough pony to pull it. Oh well.