Friday, May 30, 2008

Trail Training #89 - part 1

Trail Training Newsletter – Volume 89
June 2008

Dear Readers,

Between the long holiday weekend and a long weekend of our own making, we have been getting a lot of trail riding in. It’s been chilly most of the month, so there hasn’t even been much in the way of mosquitoes. It has been wonderful for riding this month.

Keep my books in mind if you are looking for some good summer reading. “Trail Training for the Horse and Rider” is filled with great how-to advice to help you with your summer riding. “Trail Horse Adventures and Advice” is the best of the first 3 year so my newsletter.

Here is a link to an article that I wrote about some Morgan Horses that the Chinese government bought right after WWII to improve their native breeds. Shortly after, the Chinese Revolution erupted and all trace of the Morgans were lost to the western world. (That is until I got involved.)

It took several months of research and writing to do this article, and I’m very proud of it. Here is a link to it.


An Ill-Fated Ride

As most of you should know by now, my horse, Cruiser has been dealing with a bowed tendon for a year and a half. Last October, a year after it happened, the vet said it looked good, and I could ride as much as I pleased. Early in December, he came up lame on that leg, I called the vet out, and we ended up with a month of stall rest and three more months of controlled riding. He also tested Cruiser for Insulin Resistance—he thought that it was causing our problems. Sure enough, he had it. Cruiser is now on a low-carb diet, and he healed up fast. In April, we were turned loose by the vet, again.

My sister, Ellen, and I decided to take off a 4-day weekend to ride. Thursday and Friday were everything we expected. We had a terrific time. Saturday, we headed out for a long ride with Cruiser and Ranger. About a half hour into the ride, Cruiser had a big spook. It was one of the “spin and run” spooks that he used to do all the time when he was young. Our fear was that he hurt his tendon in the sudden move. He seemed fine at a walk. I tried him at a trot—no limp. We both breathed a sigh of relief.

We rode on another 15 minutes—talking about tendons the whole time. Each time I would trot him, I would sit the first three beats to make sure there was no limp, and he seemed fine. We got to the best part of the trail where it gets really good for trotting and cantering and started to trot with Ranger in the lead. Cruiser had a different idea—he surged past Range. As soon as he got into the lead, he started to limp—really bad.

The groan coming out of my mouth was the saddest noise I have ever made in my life. Tears started to well up. I hopped off and said, “Please let it be a stone. Please let it be a stone.” Cruiser stood quietly as I checked each hoof—no stones.

We had to walk home. I led him the whole way except when I had to cross the river—Cruiser carried me across the water. He walked fast, didn’t limp a single step and the tendon looked and felt fine. Still, there was a pit in my stomach.

Once we got home, I unsaddled him and Ellen led him outside to trot him in hand on the driveway for me to watch. She trotted him back and forth three times—no sign of any limp. I breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe he just hit a stone that didn’t stick into his hoof. Our trails have faced an incredible amount of erosion over the last couple of years that has exposed a tremendous amount of gravel. There are plenty of places that we used to trot and canter, but now we have to walk. It seems I find a stone at least one hoof a week when I get back to the barn. Still, that part of the trail is one of the few places left that wasn’t very stony. Maybe he found a random one we didn’t see.

I went out for a ride on Mingo. Ellen hiked along with us until we started trotting. I met her on the way back home. Of course, all that was on our minds was what happened to make Cruiser limp.

When we got back to the barn, I wanted to check him, again. Ellen led him out to the driveway and started trotting him. He started out fine, but then he suddenly started limping just as severely as he did in the park. My heart sank. He was in so much pain, that we didn’t want him to do anymore.

I checked his legs and hooves. The tendon felt just fine, but maybe it was going to take a while for the heat to build up. Maybe it got stiff from standing while I was out riding Mingo. He seemed comfortable, so I knew it wasn’t an emergency. I decided to wait and see what the next day held. Ellen was in the neighborhood later in the afternoon, so she stopped to check on him. All seemed well, and there still was no heat in his leg.

Sunday morning, I rushed out to the barn. First thing I did was check his tendon. Since it was chilly night, the tendon was cold to the touch. So was his hoof. The previous times that he had hurt his tendon, his hoof got hot. We took him into the indoor arena, walked him around and then Ellen trotted him. Inexplicably, he was fine. I figured we would try the driveway. Once again, no limp.

My father has antique cars. Every now and then, one will die on him, he will get it home, (usually with me towing it with my Camaro!) and then the next day, it will start right up. This seems like a good thing when it happens, but it really isn’t because there is no way to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again. This is where I was.

I went over Cruiser’s legs and hooves. There seemed to be nothing wrong with him. I didn’t know what to do. It must be the tendon, but there was no heat, swelling or tenderness. Whatever it was, I knew he needed a rest—maybe a long one if it was his tendon. I figured I’d be able to trot him again in mid July at the earliest, and cantering by September.

The disappointment I felt was immense. You see, I was having the time of my life riding Cruiser on the trail. With his diet change, he was like a colt, again. He was just so much fun. I had planned to have a fantastic summer. Mingo is a fine horse, and I love riding him, but once the weather gets warm, he is far from exciting. Well, whatever happens, happens. I was resigned.

The next day, Monday, I came out after work. First thing I did was check Cruiser’s tendon. It seemed fine. Kevin and I took Mingo and Starry on a great ride, but still, my heart wasn’t in it. Upon returning to the barn, I led Cruiser out to the indoor arena and led him about. All seemed fine. After a bit, I trotted him—nothing wrong. I decided I would call the vet the next day. I needed to know if the tendon was the problem.

Kevin was watering the horses. (I feed them on Mondays.) I took Cruiser back to his stall and figured I’d clean his feet before I got the hay out. As I was cleaning his hoof, I though I heard a noise by his heel. The vet wants Cruiser to where eggbar shoes for extra support for his tendon. Instead of being “U” shaped like a regular shoe, they are oval shaped. They cover up the back of the hoof by the heel. When I heard the noise, I dug way back and pulled out a stone the size of a boulder! It was so far back that it couldn’t be seen. It was wet and smelly—like it had been there for a while. I was sure he didn’t just pick it up that evening.

I was astonished, relieved and embarrassed all at the same time. How could I have missed this stone! I ran into the other barn to show Kevin. He couldn’t figure out how I could have missed it, either. I had to show him the shoes and how much of the hoof they covered, and then he understood. We were both thrilled.

Cruiser was a little sensitive in the area, so I gave him some time off to heal, but I started riding him the following weekend. He hasn’t taken a single misstep. The relief and happiness I feel is immense.

I’m so glad the vet didn’t discover the stone—then I would have really been embarrassed!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sorry it's been so long...

It’s been a while since I posted, but I’ve been pretty busy. It usually slows down at work this time of year, but so far, it has only gotten busier. That’s a good thing, of course.

I’ve had 2 long weekends in a row, and we have had some wonderful rides. I think I need to take more time off, soon. It’s just too much fun. Of course, I do ride on weekdays, but my time is limited in the evenings.

My garden is about half planted. It has been so chilly for the last few weeks that I’m reluctant to plant the cukes, zukes and lima too soon. I’ve go loads of peppers and tomatoes planted. I also planted beets, turnips, lettuce, radishes and green beans. I still have more space that I’m not sure what I will do with. Maybe more green beans. I like to freeze them.

I’m riding with my boyfriend, tonight. He’s been regularly riding with me in the evenings, and we have been having a good time. Starry and Cruiser get along terrifically. Mingo doesn’t really like Starry, but we still have fun.