Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Healing and Riding Serts

Tanna is doing better. His heel bulb wounds are healing and he is full of energy. I plan to take him with us to the Yellowhammer endurance ride, but I haven't fully decided if we'll compete yet.

Sept 24 - After Cleaning (Outside bulb)

In the meantime, I took Serts out for a ride on Monday afternoon. I asked him to keep a good pace for 7 miles. He did great, but was tired at the end. We did take a couple of walking breaks, but 7 miles is a good long ride for a pasture potato. And to top it off, I asked him to trot up the last half mile of the hill. He did well and his heart rate stayed around 160, but it sure took it out of him.

For that ride, I used a Cashel bareback "saddle" instead of going bareback. I prefer bareback, but I have some health issues that prevent me riding bareback for training rides. I removed the stirrups from the Cashel pad because I don't believe they are safe.


I also decided that I didn't like Serts' nylon bridle. The headstall cames way too close to his eye for my taste. I rarely use my halter/bridle combination on Tanna, so I decided that could be Serts' for awhile. Serts is sporting a French Link snaffle bit.

I also employ a crop to keep Serts motivated. I used it all of twice in the 7 miles we were out. It really saves my legs. When I noticed I had to keep using my legs a lot, a quick rap to Serts' shoulder with the crop brought his attention back and he responded to my legs again.

I enjoyed my ride on Serts, but I did not enjoy the Cashel pad. It is a nice pad for putzing around in to keep one's jeans clean, but I was not comfortable above a slow trot. When Serts did a very nice 8 mph, I was unbalanced and had a hard time staying on due to nothing to grip. The pad also slipped significantly to the left when cantering. This probably means I'm way unbalanced, but I didn't really like it at all.

So our next outing will be to try out Tanna's Abetta saddle on Serts. I will designate a saddle pad as Serts' and will likely purchase Serts his own breast collar as well.

Serts sometimes has issues with rain rot that Tanna does not have, so I make sure and keep their tack separate.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Abscess Update

Tanna is finally sound and running around the pasture like a little maniac. He is a very personable horse.

His heel bulbs are having trouble heeling. I have been putting Trail Rite ointment on them, but they seem to look just as bad today as several days ago. When applying the ointment to the heel bulbs, I had been wiping off the excess on a small cut on his hock. I noticed this morning that that small cut hasn't healed and it should have. In fact, that cut is rawer and larger than it was. I immediately washed off the pink stuff I had just applied and squirted the bulbs with betadine.

Perhaps I was putting the pink stuff on too often? I have had other success with the pink stuff, but for some reason, not this time. At any rate, I am not planning to use the Trail Rite ointment on his heel bulbs any more.

Pictures of his heel bulbs can be seen at my Flickr account.

Serts Gets to Ride

With Tanna out from an abscess, I took the opportunity to take Serts out for a ride.

Angie invited me to ride with her and a new-to-Tennessee endurance rider, Jean, at the Natchez Trace parkway trail system. Since I figured Tanna should be left at home, I decided to take 18-year-old Serts with me.

I loaded him up in surprising little time. Serts rarely gets trailered, but he's a good boy with a good memory. After a couple of false starts, he was in the trailer with his head sticking out. I hung a hay bag in his reach and let him hang out in the trailer for a few minutes before removing the hay, closing the trailer head door and leaving for the trailhead.

At the trailhead, I found Angie and Jean already arrived and grooming their horses. I unloaded Serts and proceeded to clean out his hoofs, wrap the fronts in vet wrap, and put Old Mac boots on his front hoofs. Since I don't ride Serts much, he's not shod on a regular basis.

I altered Tanna's Little S hack bridle for Serts, grabbed my helmet, ran a brush over Serts and hopped on bareback. Ready for a saunter with my friends.

We had a leisurely 12 mile ride. It was perfect weather. 70s, some clouds, just perfect. We saw lots of riders on trail. I enjoyed getting to know Jean and sounding her out on several endurance-related topics. Serts did wonderfully. He tripped a couple times over the clunky boots, but did alright. He was happy and alert and thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with Angie's gelding and Jean's mare.

After the ride, I sponged Serts some to get dirt off him and trotted him out. After getting the boots off, Serts trotted nicely and willingly. He looked very good for an out-of-shape pasture ornament. Of course, our average speed was just over 4 mph, so not too taxing, but I was happy he wasn't exhausted.

I'm toying with the idea of shoeing him next time Tony comes out. If we can have some nice rides together, Serts would be happier and in a lot better shape.

I did ride with a crop, but only needed it a few times. Once was to get him out of a bucking spell. A smart rap to his shoulder brought him out of that. This was about 9 miles into the ride. I was thinking what a poor old man he was and how tired he must be getting when he goes into bucking. Silly boy. I really enjoyed riding him and think I shall try that again soon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ongoing Lameness

Last night, when I went to change Tanna's bandage/poultice, I decided to use some pliers to test his hoof for reaction. He did not react to pain. So I decided to leave the poultice off. The hoof had been bandaged (changed every evening) for 6 full days.

This is a picture of the bottom of his hoof just after removing the poultice. I was just about to remove the gauze from the heel bulbs. The red circle indicates the hole my vet made to allow the abscess to drain. Along the edge of the shoe, you can also see the black of the pad my farrier put on. When Tanna turned up lame on Wednesday, September 7, Daniel cut out the pad and the equi-thane that my farrier had applied on Tuesday morning.

However, because of putting the pad and equi-thane on the hoof, we closed up the abscess hole. This was not a good thing because the abscess apparently wasn't done draining. Sometime Wednesday night, the abscess blew out through the heel bulb. The following is a picture taken last night after removing the bandages.

After removing the poultice, I cleaned the hoof and took some ichthammol and stuffed it and a bit of a cotton ball into the hole on the sole in an effort to keep the hole clean and protected. Then I turned Tanna out.

This morning when I went to feed, I found Tanna was a bit off again on the left hind. The heel bulb seemed tender. I will be able to test the sole this afternoon after proper hoof testers arrive from UPS.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Big South Fork Endurance Ride

The Big South Fork ride in east TN in early September is a favorite ride and well-attended. This year boasted 3 days of riding. I seem to have problems getting to this ride, though. The last two years injuries (mine) have prevented us from getting to BSF. I thought all was well this year. But then my horse came up dead lame a week before the ride due to an abscess. He seemed better on Sunday, though, and we continued to make preparations to leave.

To make a long story short, we took Tanna to BSF on Tuesday, but I was unable to start him. He was quite lame again on Wednesday. Dr. Otis, Dr. Ken, and the Schoechs were very helpful in getting Tanna comfortable again, but he was in no way going to do an endurance ride.

I was bummed and wanted nothing more than to pack up and head home. I'd been looking forward to riding at BSF again and again it wasn't going to happen. However, Daniel said we're here, let's stay for a day and hang out. Well, I'm not good at just hanging around. I need something to do! So I decided to volunteer.

I was up early Thursday morning, but not as early as if I was riding. I ate some breakfast, checked on Tanna, and headed for the start line not far from our trailer. I greeted the riders, still bummed that I wasn't one of them, but happy to see my friends in the pre-dawn. The 50 milers took off at 6:30 and the 30 milers quickly followed at 7 AM.

I then presented myself to Susan Kasemeyer and Nancy Gooch and asked what to do. I enjoy being a vet scribe, so was assigned to help the vets during the day. I caught a ride with Nancy and Susan to the away check and made myself useful where I could. Then we sat and waited for the first riders.

The first riders started coming in around 8:40 AM. The 50 milers were coming in from a 20+ mile loop and the 30 milers had a somewhat shorter loop. I positioned myself with Dr. Ken (who was suffering from a lost voice) and scribbled down grades and notes about the horses as Dr. Ken dictated. I trotted some horses out, listened to riders discourse about their loop and directed riders through the vet check process to keep the lanes flowing as freely as possible. We had a couple of short breaks, but we were busy for about an hour and a half.

Then it was time for some of the volunteers to head back to camp for the next vet check. I hopped into Dr. Otis' truck for the ride back. At least one vet was left to take care of the remaining riders that had yet to appear and some pulse people and a timer remained behind.

Lunch was set out for the volunteers, but just as we started to partake, the first riders began coming in. Ooops! I grabbed a half-sandwich and my clipboard and ducked back into the vet area.

The rest of the afternoon flew by as I continued to help Dr. Ken and other vets as I was needed. It was interesting to see the horses coming in for their finish exams. Some were obviously tired, but others were perky as if they'd done nothing all day. I took mental notes as Dr. Ken gave riders advice on trotting out, hydration, and shoeing. I realize I need to work with my horse on trot-outs.

I was tired by the time I made my way back to my trailer after the awards and ride meeting, but I'd had so much fun helping out and seeing all the people and the horses. I thought I'd want to go home after helping one day, but I knew after a good night's sleep, I wanted to help out again.

Friday morning, I got up, ate, checked on my horse and headed out to the start. After the 50 milers got on down the trail, I hopped a ride with Dr. Lisa Garren and Dr. Bucky to the vet check. This was a different out check than the Thursday check, since Nelia and Eric make sure to have different trails for Thursday and Friday.

On Thursday, the volunteer staff was short vet scribes and pulse takers. We seemed to have that covered on Friday. Nancy was still at camp for the LD start, so I ended up with a timing clipboard in hand and posted to be the in-timer as the riders came in off the trail. I had never done any timing duties before. Susan K pointed at the trail and said, don't forget to write their time on their cards. :-) The first couple of riders heard Susan yelling at me, "Take their cards!" Hehe. Duane Barnett was kind enough to help me get into rhythm for the first several riders.

Nancy showed up and let me continue to do in-timing. We teamed up. She did the out-timing and helped me with in-timing when several riders came in at once. Duane showed up from time to time helping distribute rider cards. I tried to notice the riders, but mostly I was calling out "what's your number", muttering numbers and times aloud while I wrote on cards and my sheet, and counting the riders in over and over trying to figure out how many we were waiting on. I'm sure everybody thought I was addled.

At some point in the process, Nancy announced that I was doing great and handed me the out-timing clipboard, too. Off she went to take care of something else. I looked wildly around for a minute and then settled down to business. I kept looking for Nancy to return and rescue me (and the riders) from my timing skills. She did return for a couple minutes, took the out-time sheet from her clipboard, handed it to me and said she and Susan were going back to camp for the front runners. I was doing great and she'd see me back at camp. Yeah, if the riders didn't pommel me first! Ok, deep breath, get organized. There comes another rider!

When I looked up again, Nina Barnett was hobbling toward me with more out-times. (Nina had a run-in with a horse a few days before and had a very pretty bruised up foot.) I resolved to go to her to get the out-times so she wouldn't have to do that again. Nina took care of the pulse timing and I did the in/out timing. It was fun!

Time flew by until we were down to waiting on our last rider. In she came. I took her in-time and Nina and I were convinced we were almost done. Until the crew guy for the last rider came up and said "that's not her!" Oops. The rider that had just come in had started late and I didn't have her on my list to look for. We waited longer for the last rider, who finally come in. We sat around and chatted until the last horse's hold time was complete and she was on the trail headed the right direction.

Then Nina and Duane gave me a lift back to camp. I had a bit of a break at this point. Nancy and Susan had the timing duties taken care of, there were plenty of pulse takers (thank goodness; I'm no good at pulse taking), and the vets seemed to have plenty of eager scribes. I wandered over to check on my horse, chat with Daniel, and then got a bite to eat.

Around 1:30, Nancy radioed to Susan that she was ready to head to the finish line, would I go relieve her at the in/out time station? So off I went for more fun. All the LD riders were back in camp. There were around 25 50 miler riders still on their 3rd loop and 5 front runners had gone out on their 4th (and last) loop. A few more were in camp, pulsed in, and waiting out their hold. It was a perfect time to switch timers. Nancy called out numbers and times as I wrote them down on my own clipboard.

With only 50 miler riders on trail and pretty spread out, it was a much less hectic time. I was sitting right by the road in the shade between the two main camps. I watched the camp activity and chatted with campers, riders, and crews that came to hang out with me while waiting for their rider. Susan, Nina, or Neila would periodically radio more riders and out times to me, as well as the occasional pull.

A couple times, I wrote numbers of pulled riders on a scrap of paper and sent them to Nancy at the finish line via a rider going out on their final loop. One rider informed me it'd be a long time before Nancy got the note as she was going slowly. I assured her that was ok. Nancy was waiting on the finishers, but didn't want her looking for pulled riders!

Around 4 PM, the next to last rider came in off her 3rd loop. Susan radioed me and said she thought that was all. I still had one more rider number on my list that hadn't come in yet. I radioed back and asked for information on the rider. Sometimes pulls occurred that I didn't find out about until later. To make a long story short, we discovered the rider, Alice Goff, was missing and had been on the 15 mile 3rd loop too long. No other riders remembered passing her on trail. The rider was found and delivered back to camp later that evening during the award/ride meeting.

I had a great time at BSF. Even not riding. :) I have helped at other rides before. Usually I'll help out during vet in. I've done minor crewing duties, I've marked trail, helped plan a ride, pulled ribbons, but I've never just out and out worked a ride because my horse wasn't up to par. It was a blast. I really hope Tanna is better for Cave Country Canter and Yellowhammer, but if not, I'll be helping out and having a great time.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Tanna is still doing quite well. This morning, I redid the poultice and bandage. The foot looks good except for the hole dug out to allow the abscess to drain. Looks like we'll be on track to go to BSF, depending on what my farrier says when he comes Tuesday morning.

Tanna got a flake of alfalfa hay for his trouble. He is still confined to the paddock. I will take him for a walk later today, but he does move around in the paddock as well.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Friday morning, I went out to feed Tanna and Serts as normal. Tanna did not move toward me as he usually does and when he came to his feed dish, he was really hobbling. I'm not good at spotting lameness, but this was unmistakable; left hind, definitely.

After a trip to Dr. Monty at Tennessee Equine Hospital, I found out that Tanna had an abscess. Dr. Monty cut down as much as he could and then opened it up more with a nail until blood came out. This gives the abscess a place to drain from. Dr. Monty wrapped the hoof in a poultice and sent us home.

Orders: 2 grams of bute on Friday only. No more. Redo the poultice on Sunday and shoe with pads on Tuesday. He said Tanna should be sound at the walk by Sunday and good to go with pads on. The pads are to protect the cut away from dirt and debris.

When I got home, I put a size 6 Old Mac boot on Tanna. His easy boots wouldn't fit over the poultice. I have a pair of Old Mac boots for Serts when he needs them. One of them fit the bill nicely. Tanna is penned in a 50' x 75' paddock which allows him to move around freely, but keeps him close to the house, water and shelter.

Today, Tanna is sound at the walk and trots and canters on his own in his paddock. He moves a little off still at the trot and the canter, but it's entirely possible it's because of the too-big Old Mac boot. Either way, we're going to follow orders to the letter and I'll replace the poultice tomorrow.

As long as his recovery continues at this rate, we'll still head to Big South Fork for an endurance ride next weekend.