Saturday, April 27, 2013

Changes for Spring 2013

It's that time again! Time for me to get back to endurance. Time for me to share my thoughts with those that care to listen.

There have a been a few changes around our place and I'll catch you up on them right quick.


So let's get the saddest news out of the way first. Sib is no longer with us.

Sib was our Siamese cat that came with us on every ride and went on every overnight trip. When she was a year old, she suffered massive seizures for several days and only by God's grace was she able to pull through that episode. After nursing her through that, she was put on anti-seizure medications which she took twice a day until the day she died.

This spring, Sib became more and more unsteady on her feet and began to lose weight. We took her to the vet, but beyond supportive care which included some pretty strong antibiotics, Sib did not rebound.  She got worse and worse to the point where she would stop breathing sometimes while she slept. She had a lot of other systems shutting down, so we made the tough choice to let her go in peace.

We will miss her sweet face and her gentle ways. Our lives are less full now, but we were blessed with her presence for 10 years longer than we otherwise might have been.


The next bit of not-so-good news regards Serts.

Rinnah really wanted to compete in the 2013 Chicken Chase ride. So I had agreed to sponsor her on the LD ride on Sunday at Chicken Chase.

Serts turned 24 years old in March of this year. I began conditioning him for the spring season in February.  I started him slowly as usual, but when I tried to move up in mileage, he was not handling it well. He was pokier than normal and a bit more sour than normal. You have to realize, he's a lazy horse to begin with and thinks anything more than walking to the next grass clump is too much effort. But this spring, I noticed more hesitation. I also noticed more swelling in his rear legs after a ride; even the short, easy rides I was asking of him. Serts was also dragging his rear toes very badly. He wore through the toe of a brand new Renegade boot in less than 40 miles of training (not all at once, of course!).

When Daniel and I took the horses to Tennessee Equine Hospital for their yearly appointments, I asked Dr. Matt to do a lameness evaluation on Serts to try to determine why he was having more trouble in his hind end.

Dr. Matt hooked Serts up to a fancy machine with accelerometers and wireless transmitters and watched Serts put through his paces. The result was some hind end lameness in both hind legs. Most likely due to arthritis.

Serts is now on an intramuscular joint medicine injection every 2 weeks. I have semi-officially retired him. IF he gets better to the point of being able to condition again, we might enter him in an LD in the future, but at this point, Serts has been retired from LD competition and is on a walk-only regime.

While Serts is still happy and healthy, he is my only JR horse and Rinnah and Lillie are disappointed that their plans for the year have been thwarted.


On to happier news!

Snap turned 5 years old on April 15!

2 days later, I saddled up Tanna for a training ride. I decided to take Snap along on a lead rope and pony him. Snap is a very mouthy horse and likes to mouth Tanna or me when he's being ponied. So this time, I put his bridle on so he could play with his bit instead of us!

Then I put his reins on. And then, I decided to try to hop on him bareback.

I led Snap over to a clear area, put a 12" step next to him. I used the step and popped up on Snap on my belly. I balanced myself and gauged Snap's reaction. Idle curiosity. So I smoothly sat up (thanks to years of riding bareback when I was a teen). Snap turned to nose my foot, but didn't seem upset in the least.

This first ride was about just letting him get used to me. I spent an hour on his back. I let him graze for the first 10 minutes and then asked him not to eat. So he just stood there with me and then backed up several steps. I turned him around and he stood still again. I did not ask him to move forward. I simply let him decide when he wanted to do that. I let him graze some, then asked him not to eat. He would back up. I would turn him around. We repeated this for a long time until he finally took a few steps forward to a better patch of grass. I let him eat, then asked him to not eat. He walked forward again. Yay! We did this for about 20 minutes, wandering around the front pasture for a bit. Finally, I steered him back to the house and hopped off. A successful ride!


The last major change around our place is a 2006 Chevy 3500 dually flatbed 4x4 truck. Daniel's boss upgraded his work truck so we bought the old one. The truck has another very nice feature for a farm truck. The flatbed is also a dump bed! Hello, gravel! We need lots of gravel at our place and a dump bed is just the thing.


Tanna isn't a change, except as the years go by. He is now 19 and is conditioning well this spring. He looks incredible. As a precaution, I have started him on the same intramuscular joint med injection that Serts is now receiving. One never knows, but I wonder if Serts would be better today if I'd had him on the joint med back when he was 19.