Monday, November 5, 2012

The Nothing Song

Since our last outing as newly minted foxhunters, Pangea and I have been doing a whole lot of nothing. Well, that's not completely true.... *I* have been riding a million horses and working my butt off, but she has been hanging around stuffing her face and doing nothing at all. And depending on what I end up deciding, this might be all she's going to do for a while.

 Following her stifle injections, P has been feeling worse than usual. Some days she feels fine, and some she feels terrible. A little bute makes her feel better on days when she's not doing all that well. Following the hunt, she was just plain lame for a few days. She has had two weeks off, and I haven't watched her trot since. This week I'll reevaluate, but honestly, it is to the point where I'm not sure that I want to continue with trying to keep her sound enough to ride.

Let's face it - she's approaching 17 with an old injury that is 7 years old. Has her soundness improved since I got her? Absolutely, there is no question that she is a million times better now than she was. Is she really long-term riding sound? No. The goal in the first place was to a) give her a good home for the rest of her life and b) get a baby or two out of her. Any sort of riding I was able to get out of her was some nice collateral, but not exactly a requirement. Nevertheless, I was encouraged by her progress, and kept trying to get her sounder and sounder, despite the fact that she still had bad days, and I knew she wasn't ever going to heal in the sense that this would go away permanently. I threw all sorts of things at her - herbs, injectables, oral supplements, homeopathic remedies, you name it. Some things helped, some things didn't. Some days, she looked and felt great! Some days, she felt like terrible crap. Still, I kept trying.

We got through our hunt just fine, and without issue, but she was pretty off for a few days following. I had lots of fun on the hunt, don't get me wrong, but I'm not sure it is worth it to try and keep her going for it all season long, even though I want to. What am I really trying to prove here? The plan is to breed her regardless in the spring, which is now right around the corner. Is it time to call it quits and let her relax into retirement? Should I keep her going? And to what end? WHY keep her going?

I don't know. Lots to think about. In the meantime, it has since warmed up but we have had a few mornings when temps dropped into the 30's, and Her Majesty needed her medium-heavy to keep warm for the night:

She did not approve of this. She HATES wearing clothes!

I am also considering moving facilities. The place where she is right now is ok, but I just went to see a private place last night that has 15 acres of costal with three other horses as buddies, a lighted outdoor, a covered roundpen, a gorgeous barn and indoor stalls with runs as well as outdoor stalls with runs. If I feed myself, it is only $100 a month - and having her out on pasture will seriously cut down on my hay usage. I am not sure that having her out on grass 24/7 is ideal, but with other horses out there, I can't expect the grass will really be plush and nice all year round, and I always have the option of muzzling or pulling her from the grass should there be a concern. The owner says that roundbales will be put out when the grass dies, and of course in this area the hay is all costal. P isn't on costal right now, but if she transitions to a costal pasture then a switch to costal hay won't be such a big deal. I used to hate the stuff but I have gotten used to the idea now that I am down here, so I guess I will live!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Metro Halloween!

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I dressed Pangea's father Metro up as a giant purple dinosaur for Halloween. He was known by everybody as the Big Purple Dinosaur from then on. Pangea's name partially came from his prehistoric-style nickname... also, her head is the size of a supercontinent.

 We went on parade in a fun show as Dino and Pebbles from the Flintstones in 2005... I had a bone in my hair and everything. He had been on stall rest for 6 months prior to this, and yet he still lead me around by a belt around his neck like a dog collar with no muss or fuss.

Only the coolest horse that ever lived, that one. 

Happy Halloween!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012


When I brought Pangea into my life, I didn't have a lot of expectations for her, given her shaky state of soundness at the time. I was hoping to do trail riding, breed her at some point, and hopefully do a little bit of light dressage work and possibly some foxhunting as well - but that was almost a pipe dream at the time. With a lot of hard work (along with lots and lots of supplements and joint therapy), she has come an eternally long way from where she once was soundness wise. She still sometimes has her on and off days, but her arthritis is well under control. She has done so well that last Saturday, one of my few goals for her became a reality - she is now an official newly minted hunt horse!

 In terms of foxhunting in our area, there isn't an awful lot here. Foxes aren't exactly plentiful in this area, so instead we hunt coyote. We are lucky to have a fair amount of private land here to hunt on, which is great for the game we hunt - foxes tend to run in lots of little circles, and coyotes run in straight lines for very long distances. The hunt I went out with doesn't lay a drag, but follows preexisting scent trails (of which there are many!). As with nearly all modern hunts, they hunt only for sport and not for the kill, but I don't know of many other hunts that don't lay a drag. Cubbing has just begun in this area, which is also unusual to me, seeing as I am used to New England hunts that are already winding down for the season! This hunt is also extremely small - we only had 9 hounds and a handful of members out - so they do things a little differently, quite unlike anything I've ever seen. They operate in sort of a wheel formation, with the huntsman and hounds in the middle (along with a few staff members), and the rest of the members and staff out at great distance in a revolving circle around hounds. They often end up in completely different fields or on different paths, but their main job is to direct the errant hound back to the huntsman, and swing back and forth around if need be. It is quite unlike any other operation I have ever seen, but works for them. They are so small that all members take up an unofficial staff roll in most cases, and can speak to and direct the hounds if need be.

I was up very bright and early last Saturday morning in order to get ready. The pool has been down at work due to a hose rupture, so P did not get her customary Friday swim, and instead I spent the evening tidying up all her wild hair (she was starting to resemble the Bearded Lady), cleaning tack, and organizing all my clothes. It was a bit sad going through all of my old show stuff, seeing as the last time any of it was worn was during the 2009 AECs when Gogo blew her legs out... I still had my Gold Medal pin on my jacket and everything. That picture was used for a LONG time on the USEA's website for the Medal program! As always, Gogo was the quintessential poster child for all things awesome.) I scraped together an acceptable outfit (note to self: need new britches desperately), and polished my boots. Come 5am, we were up and ready to roll! She was not amused with her early morning bath, but she certainly makes plaid look good!:

The Renegades failed me horribly in the week preceding the hunt - we were doing some conditioning work, and I took her through some water at a walk before continuing on. The boots, which had been staying so perfectly through some tough workouts, suddenly were turning every which way over and over again once we picked up the pace following the water. I could NOT get them to stay on straight when they were wet! Unfortunately for me, the Renegades are better suited for horses with already decent feet, and P's warped tootsies are not optimally shaped for proper fitting. With that in mind, I went ahead and casted her:

You can see in that picture how thin her soles are at the toe, and how her lateral heel bulb is larger and corresponds to the asymmetry showing up as right flare. All four of her feet have some sort of rightwards facing flare and asymmetry to them, as does her entire body. Everything about her sways in a right hand curve. Try as I might, I don't know how to counter a horse that stands camped under all the time - her sole at the toe will not grow thicker than this given the fact that her corium is constantly being crushed from the way she stands. I've discussed this before, and given the fact that I have pictures of her taken nearly a decade ago that show her standing camped under, I think she is unfortunately built that way (or possibly permanently molded that way) for life. Her hinds have perfectly acceptable thickness and shape (via radiographs)... but not her fronts. It is very hard to change a being that has been crooked and warped for probably the better part of her entire life. I have some more ideas in store for her that I think will help, but we're not quite there yet.

The hunt itself was fantastic. Everyone was super friendly and helpful, and I tagged along with the master and another longtime member who showed me the ropes. P was almost on her best behavior, save for a few minor issues where she was impatient to follow the other horses the moment they moved off. She also had one huge issue when the hounds picked up a trail in a big open field and we all moved off after them - she thought this would be an opportune time to turn into a freight train, gape her mouth, and totally ignore me. When I gave her a stern half halt, she did her most calculate buck-move, perfectly designed to pitch riders over her right shoulder (and I'm sure was her old owner's downfall!). At speed, she suddenly roots downwards on the bit, pulling the rider forward out of the tack, and simultaneously hits the brakes and props on her front end as hard as she can. She also turns sharply to the left when doing this. She does it exactly the same way every time she gets cranky about being told off for being too fresh, and I'm sure it was well-rehearsed long before I ever came upon the scene. It has never gotten me off, but it almost has a few times... it's a very good rider-slinger! (In her sale contract, there is even a clause about her being a "known bucker"... yep, I have that horse.) A quick boot in the ribs and she was off again, the moment forgotten in a cloud of dust. Thankfully, nobody else saw it... how embarrassing!

The weather was hot and beautiful, the sun was shining, the hounds were tired and hot but totally game, and the company was very enjoyable. We didn't do anything too outrageous for an old mare, and I think that it is perfectly reasonable to think that she'll be capable of this throughout the season.

And I only managed to get one picture during the entire ride... oh well!:

She has had most of this week off, but will get back to it tomorrow. Onward and upward!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stay tuned: foxhunting!

Just a quick preview into last weekend, mostly because I've been too busy and/or tired to post: Pangea is a newly minted foxhunter!! I rode for a solid 6 hours today, and have lots of client records and homework to do, so I am still feeling way too worn out to write about it, but I will leave you with a picture and a promise to write more, hopefully tomorrow if I have some time:
It was a most excellent and unusual hunt. More later!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

One Year.

((Crossposted to Project Runaway and Eventing-A-Gogo))

I am struggling to find the words to begin this post. I've been sitting in front of the computer for a listless hour, unable to find a good place to start, so I suppose I'll just launch into it bluntly: today is the one year anniversary of Gogo's death. There, I have a start... perhaps now the words will come more freely. I feel very much like I've been stoppered up for the past year. When she died, the poetry just went clean out of me. 

I'm not entirely sure of where the past year has gone. It seems like October 11th of last year was such a long time ago, but I can't hardly remember what has happened in the past year to make it so distant. Twelve months into this grieving process, I don't feel better and I don't feel like myself still, but it has taken this long for me to realize that I am not the same without her, and life is not, and will never be, the same either. It isn't that life is now somehow less or is badly off, because it isn't. It's just completely different, without anything else actually having changed. I am still with Future Hubs, I still have all the same critters, still have the same job, still living here in Texas. Those things are all as wonderful as they have been. It is just me that is different... I am not the same as I was. Losing Gogo was a bit like someone forcefully cutting me in half and tossing one half of me back out into the world to keep going. It is very confusing trying to relearn how to live your life when half of everything you value and love is suddenly gone one day. You can prepare for it, if you know it is coming. You can ready yourself, steel yourself, prepare to lose it, surround yourself with loved ones, or push them all away just the same. It doesn't matter what you do, because you won't know how it really feels until it happens. Then, and only then, will you realize just how thoroughly unprepared you were to live on through unthinkable tragedy.

I know it sounds extreme. Honestly, just putting it out in writing sounds like I survived a war instead of just lost a horse. But those of you with horses in your life - probably most or all of you, I am assuming - know how much they affect you, and those of you who have lost them will understand. To those who haven't yet, I don't wish it upon you, but that day will come. On that day, you too will stand with me and feel that horror and pain and sorrow, and will still know in your heart that life is better having had and lost them rather than never having known them at all. But you'll never be the same again.

Not a day goes by when I don't think of her. Hardly a week passes when some memory, picture, or video doesn't make me sob like a baby or ache with sorrow. How could they not, when so much of my life revolved around her? She defined me as a young adult, molded and changed and shaped me into the person I am today, and her loss affected me just as hard as her life did. I am different now, and I will never be the same.

Having Pangea and Imogen in my post-Gogo life has been a very strange, exciting, sad, and wonderful journey. It has really only been in the past month that I have actually started to feel better and more at peace with Gogo's loss, and that is all thanks to working with Imogen. I love and cherish P, and am so glad to have her in my life, but she is happiest when left to her own devices. She likes me well enough, I am sure, but she'd rather be left alone, and we haven't bonded in the strong and inseparable way that Gogo and I had. Imogen and I, on the other hand, bonded immediately and very hard, and we have our own dynamic that is very different from the one she shares with every other horse and human in her life. Something about working with her and the promise of giving her a brand new life is incredibly healing to the heart. Pangea has never known anything except for a life of cookies and love at best, and a big field with giant mounds of hay and no humans to bother her except for regular maintenance at worst. Imogen has known cruelty and pain, and to see her look at me with trust and love, and choose to seek me out over spending time at her haypile with her friends, is truly rewarding. This, more than anything, has kick started me onto the healing track. Life truly works in strange ways, and I'm not sure I'll ever be old or wise enough to understand them.

I'm still hurting. I'm still sad. I'm still not sure that I'll ever really be at peace with what happened. But I am grateful for every moment of the five years I had with her, and she will always be in my heart. 

A moment of silence now for Gogo, who took her last breath at 4:15pm last year.

There simply are not words for how badly she is missed. I love you, Gogomare.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Here is proof that Pangea's beautiful shiny coat is returning now that she has shedded out her miserable sunbleached summer coat and is growing in a new winter one!

She still has more coat to grow, but you can see some of the shine returning. YAY!

Friday, October 5, 2012


Wednesday was P's vet appointment to see if she might possibly be developing shivers or not. I hadn't seen Dr. H in almost a year, and he couldn't believe it when I told him that the anniversary of Gogo's death is exactly one week away from today. (Can you believe it either? I can't. I don't even know what to think, really. Mostly I think that I am going to be a complete mess next week.) I introduced him to P, since they hadn't met before, and started discussing her many, many problems.

 "Let's see," I started. "Trashed front feet, nasty hock arthritis, old left stifle trauma, horrible skin issues... where do we begin?" We did a basic lameness, and her usual of starting out slow on the left hind was there, like it always is. It did what it always does, and resolved within a short amount of time. We did some passes at the walk and trot, some tight circles, and some backing. She did show a fair amount of symptoms, which we discussed. We decided in the end that shivers is a diagnosis you back into by process of elimination, and that we ought to see via radiographs what exactly what was going on in her feet, hocks, and stifles, and that we'd go from there. P was a superstar for the entire process, even standing like a rock for the rads despite the fact that she remained quite awake through her (heavy) sedation. Seriously, I don't even think the drugs ever hit her.

 I was somewhat pleasantly surprised to see the rads of her hind feet. We've obviously come a very long way from the total mess we had when I first got her - her angles were perfect, the joints were sparkling, and amazingly she had a solid 1cm of sole uniformly all the way around. (Acceptable sole depth is between 1cm and 3cms, so it's on the thin end of acceptable limits, but it is technically now out of the pathologically thin range... yay!) Her sole perfectly matched the arch of P3. Even the resident journeyman farrier came by to look at her feet to see whether or not he thought shoeing would help her (like I was considering that anyway!), and he agreed that there was nothing more to be done there to help her. Sweet.

 As for her hocks and stifles, she amazingly has quite a lot of joint space there despite the degenerative changes present. The changes aren't bad, honestly... in fact, I thought they'd be a lot worse. Despite that, she still was showing issues with her stifles, so we decided to be proactive and go ahead and inject them to give her some relief. It was something I figured that we needed to either way, so we cleaned up her legs and got ready to poke her. And she FREAKED. Literally lost it trying to kick the needle out (which she succeeded in, numerous times). Even through a second HEAVY dose of Dorm and Torb, a twitch, a helper holding a leg, and squashed up against the wall, she STILL kicked violently through the entire thing. Dr. H is THE go-to guy for these kinds of things though, and he got it done somehow. I apologized profusedly... I had no idea she'd be so bad! They almost had to lay her butt down out on the grass to get it done! It obviously was very painful though... horses don't usually react like that to stifle injections. Poor girl...

 She is doing quite well two days out from the injections, and is cruising around her field comfortable in all aspects. Every vet's protocol is different for post-injection therapy, but we decided to leave her in her paddock to move around and just cold hose. (Some say turn them out, some leave them in on stall rest, some do cold therapy, some do Banamine... so long as their temps are normal I say kick 'em out and let them walk around! No frantic running, of course, and no work, but it is good to let them move.) We'll see how she feels in a few days!

Oh, and she also had her tear ducts flushed by a client (who was a vet tech) since being in dusty, dry Texas has clogged them all up... she was NOT amused:

Poor kid!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Neverending Problems

In addition to Pangea's neverending hoof issues, hock arthritis, old stifle trauma, probable sidebone and ringbone, and skin issues, we can now add one more problem to the list: the possible onset of shivers.

 If you are unfamiliar with shivers, there is a good writeup here on what it is exactly, but in short shivers is basically a neuromuscular condition that is characterized by trembling of the tail while held erect, trembling of the thigh muscles and a flexed and trembling hind limb. It can happen to one or both legs (usually both), and the degree to which the tail is involved (and legs, actually) varies from horse to horse, and from day to day. It shows up most often when picking up the hind legs, turning in tight circles, or backing - the horse may appear to get "stuck" with one hind leg jerked very high and trembling. The onset is usually gradual, and most often is progressive. The cause of the disease is unknown, and there is no treatment. Some horses get along with it just fine for years and years, some deteriorate to the point of euthanasia rapidly. Nobody can predict what is going to happen in the individual.

 In P's case, as in many early-onset cases, she has been gradually having a harder and harder time picking up her hind legs for me. Trimming her hind feet used to be easy - she was dramatic at first about picking them up, but would relax into it quickly and I could trim away. I thought that was just her particular flair. Now, she is finding it increasingly difficult to pick her hind legs up, equally on both sides, and jerks them as high as she can into the air whenever I touch them to pick them up - if she can pick them up at all. Sometimes, she'll completely lose her balance and have to snatch the foot back to keep from falling. She also has started to have an increasingly hard time backing up. Somedays, she can't do it at all. Other days, like today, she showed no symptoms or problems when in reverse. She also occasionally lifts a hind leg high into the air and holds it there... I had thought it was a sign of discomfort in her hind end from being creaky and stiff. Now, I'm pretty sure she really is showing the early signs for shivers.

It came to a head yesterday when I went to medicate the scratches on one of her hind legs. I had thought at first that she was being dramatic about her treatment - always jerking her legs up high whenever I'd clean them and apply ointment - but now that they are almost gone, I would expect her reaction to be far less. Yesterday, she caught me completely by surprise with how fast and how high she jerked her leg upwards and outward, and I just didn't get out of her way fast enough. She caught me directly in the cheekbone and eye with her hoof, and HARD. If you'd never been struck directly in the face with a hoof, there is no possible way to describe that sort of pain... and I didn't even get seriously hurt!

 Once the room stopped spinning and I could open my eye again, the gears in my head started spinning. She didn't kick me in the face on purpose.... so what the heck happened? I started thinking back to all the times she has been dramatic recently with her hind end, and at some point it hit me that she is showing all the classic early signs for shivers. Great... add that to her laundry list of problems!

 I am pretty sick today, due to the fact that I've been doing an awful lot of standing around in the cold rain, but I managed to get a very poor-quality video of some of her symptoms today. She wasn't showing much at all today - I think that she is much more relaxed in her body the day after she goes to the AquaTread, so it makes sense that she would be loser in her hind end today. Most of what you can see is on her right hind, where you'll notice her lose her balance and have to grab the leg back from me to keep from falling. Note that I am NOT holding that leg up there - I am merely asking for the hind leg and touching it while she holds it up that high herself. She didn't show many symptoms on the left hind, but she usually shows them equally. She backed with no issues today - backing often causes her to get stuck and frustrated - but you can see some dramatic steps when she turns in tight circles. She is crossing over properly for the most part on the tight circles (inability to cross hind legs while turning tightly can be indicative of other neuro problems, so thankfully she passes that test with no issues!). Her symptoms were very, very mild today, but you can get a vague idea of what is going on.


I'm going to schedule a vet appointment for next week to see if I can get a better idea of what is going on. She is already on a very low-carb low-sugar diet with lots of added fat, which can be helpful for these kinds of cases, but I am also looking in to adding Vitamin E to her diet, something which anecdotally is said to usually help shivers horses. It's just one thing after another, isn't it?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Real World, and RENEGADES!

Is YOUR horse this awesome when the farrier comes around? Mine stands immobile without so much as a halter on, and will pose for pictures on the stand like some sort of extremely tall Misty of Chincoteague. She'll stay that way for an entire trim, fronts and hinds.

Mom. Why you do this.
Now, onto something completely different. When I first started writing the Eventing-A-Gogo blog almost four years ago, I had just moved to a magical situation which revolved around Gogo 24 hours a day. I breathed, ate, slept, worked, and functioned solely for Gogo and what we were working for, and had nothing to distract me from my drive. We even lived together, only a doorway and a short walk down an aisle apart. I woke up every day with a center to spin around: her, and her only. Part of my compensatory package included lessons, so I usually rode her during the day, and even on the days that I didn't have lessons, I was allowed to ride at some point during the day most of the time. The entire barn rooted for us at shows, and were all collectively involved in the process, even chipping in for clinics and travel money. Gogo was my primary focus, and everything revolved around her. With Pangea, things are different. I am in a completely different situation now, and it isn't easy. Working two jobs, going to school full time, having a Future Hubs who I only get to see for a few hours after work every day (we don't share a day off, so any time we have together is small and precious), and boarding her at a small facility without a lighted arena makes it very hard to ride on the days when I leave my house before the sun comes up and come home long after the sun has gone down. It isn't exactly possible to ride in complete darkness... even our barn doesn't have lights! This is how I made grains last night:


Patron saves the day, as usual. I HAVE considered turning my headlights on the arena and riding in their light.... but somehow it doesn't seem like that would end well. What I am really waiting for is a spot to open up at WD, a nearby private eventing facility with an enormous full XC course, several arenas (including two properly sized dressage arena, one standard and one short court, a stadium arena with a full set of jumps, and a 300'x150' covered arena with lights and synthetic footing), and a galloping lane with mile markers. It is only two miles away from where P lives now, and I am next on the waiting list for monthly access. All I have to do when my spot opens up is pay a monthly fee, and then I have access to the gated facility whenever I want, as many times a week as I want. The lighted arena will DEFINITELY come in handy as winter closes in on us. I LOVE the barn I am at now, by the way. It is tiny - just the owner's horses and my horse - but it is peaceful, out of the way, and drama-free. Oh, and cheap. Did I mention cheap? Did I mention I can do whatever, whenever I want? Feed whatever I want, however I want? Love it. AND it is only two miles from WD. AND only three miles from my house.
 Along with the vanishing daylight hours, north Texas seems to be finally cooling down a bit. The horses are all starting to grow their winter coats already (!!!), but temps are still in the 80's and 90's.... which makes for some toasty ponies. P's horrible bleached coat is finally shedding out, but she is still sweating every day, leaving me to find this on her pretty much every single afternoon:


Well, we can't have that if we want to ever grow in a decent coat... she'll bleach her winter coat out too! I figured out that a large part of the problem revolves around the bugs - she spends so much of her day stomping, swishing, and walking around in order to try and shake them off of her that she lathers up first thing in the morning and stays sweaty all day. The weather has cooled down enough that I felt it was time to try and break this magical thing out again:


Obviously, from the look on her face, she was not amused. She hates clothes... HATES them! However, she seems to hate the bugs an awful lot more than the clothes, so we seem to have reached an agreement to wear them without completely shredding them. Nothing I've put on her has lasted more than a week, so the fact that this actually has lasted almost TWO now with only a few tears is nothing short of magical. The flymask is also still half-alive:


But I did have to cut the ears off of it, seeing as they were completely in tatters. The rest of the mask is starting to look pretty poor now, but it is still hanging on for the most part. I quite imagine it won't be long before it receives a ceremonial burial in the garbage bin though... no mask can stand up to her wrath for long.  
In terms of her soundness, her hind end looks amazing as of late - I've never seen or felt her move so freely behind right from the get-go of every ride and workout. It is now her front end that we have to worry about, and with all the wet-dry cycles we've had as of late, her front feet are suffering. She was casted for a little while, but the material was a different brand from my usual preferred and it didn't take long for them to fail. When the casts came off, she was still very footsore. It has taken me a very, very long time to figure out WHY exactly she cannot seem to grow any sort of solar depth at the toe, but it finally dawned on me a few weeks ago, and I've been stumped as to trying to figure out an answer to it. Have you ever noticed the way she always stands? I'll give you a montage and see if you can pick it up before I give it away:


Despite tons of bodywork, chiro adjustments, aqua therapy, a well-balanced and low NSC diet, and good trims... she is just plain camped under in the front. It's not uncommon in horses with short, upright pasterns like she has... but I was kind of hoping that it would go away with regular workups. It appears that isn't going to be the case, and if you look at the collage you will spot a picture with a date on it from an old sale ad of hers from 2005. Yep, I guess she's just camped under and always has been... and there you are. The problem with this? A horse constantly standing with her weight distributed unevenly over the front of her foot will be constantly applying unnatural pressures to that area. It is hard to grow a nice, thick sole underneath an area that is constantly being crushed. I don't have any recent radiographs of her front feet, but given the state of things visually I would expect to see quite a lot of bony changes going on here - ringbone, sidebone, and possible remodeling of the coffin bone (but let's hope not). Radiographs would also, obviously, show extremely thin sole at the toe, and more than adequate sole at the heel. Just like with Gogo's club foot, if you put weight on your toe and unweight your heel... your heel is going to grow like crazy! Her feet have come SO far in the seven months that I have had her, and the new hoof hasn't yet hit the ground, so there is still some hope left that she might grow a thicker sole once we reach that point. I'm not holding out for any miracles at this point though... standing like this for 16 years will do plenty of damage. It explains why she is so willing to land heel-first for the most part, and can still be so ouchy on hard ground at the toe but doesn't take that typical ouchy-toe stance like you would see in a founder case. You would expect that a horse that is sore at the toe would not want to stand on her toes ALL the time, but she does. She's just built that way, unfortunately, and it creates a perpetual cycle of soreness every time the ground softens up and hardens quickly again after a good rain. Postural issues have a disturbing effect on the body's wellness and soundness, and as much as I'd like to think that so many of these things can be resolved through bodywork, some of them just can't, especially not after 16 years and body remodeling because of it. This rehab is obviously going to continue to be exceedingly tricky. Casting has worked exceptionally well in the past for her during these times of wet-try, but it has come to the point where I decided to just bite the bullet and get some boots for her. Despite my obvious barefoot loyalties, I really just don't like boots very much. They are bulky, they change breakover, they add weight to the foot and change the horse's stride length, they twist, they fall off, they break, they rotate. They are a right pain in the fanny. Despite all of that, I still want something that doesn't have to be worn 24/7, something that can be modified and changed should I want to alter something. Thus, enter the Renegades:


I took a chance with these seeing as P doesn't *quite* have the perfect hoof shape for them. They favor a completely picture-perfect hoof, and she obviously doesn't have that yet. I sized up a bit in order to accommodate for a pad, and made some modifications:


And here's the semi-finished product - it needed some more fine-tuning at this point, but you get the general idea:


After that, it was time for a test-drive! First clip is of her mincing over our somewhat hard and crunchy arena (it gets that way after the wet-dry cycle runs through), second clip is of the Renegades. Night and day.


They need more fine-tuning - the first test-drive was yesterday during a dressage school, and they both spun.  Today I got some thinner pads - perhaps the Comfort Pads were too thick - and will try that tomorrow. I might also use a little Vetwrap ingenuity to see if I can create a better bond... we'll see.

On an unrelated note, I had the amazing experience of being able to see my favorite band live in concert last week, and it was heaven and a half. If you ever get to go see these guys, do it. You won't regret it. Most amazing show of my life. 

Tomorrow, P swims and goes out on a small conditioning ride with the Renegades (to see how they'll stay with the new modifications), and then we road with the hounds on Saturday. We just found out that the opening meet is on Thanksgiving weekend, which isn't all that far away... time to get down to business!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Reposted from the Eventing-A-Gogo blog from last year: 9/11, a Tribute

Never forget.

In exactly one month, Gogo will have been gone for an entire year.

Monday, September 3, 2012


I think I have truly been underestimating my horse.

When I got Pangea, I assumed she'd be up to some light work, some easy trails and low-level dressage, and maybe hunting if she could stay sound enough for it. She's had it very easy all summer thanks to her difficulty acclimating to our extreme heat (and I can't blame her there!), and I haven't really felt as though I've been able to put a real base of fitness on her. She has literally just not worked enough. Now that September is here, praise mighty Mother Nature and her changing ways, we are experiencing a bit of a break from the heat. Or well, we WERE... it is supposed to be 102 today. Barf!

Anyway, now that the weather is hopefully not going to be murderously hot anymore, I've been starting to put a light leg back up on Pangea. I wasn't holding out for much, to be honest - a bit of hunting was all I was really hoping for - but whatever hoodoo magic I've been trying to do for her comfort level seems to really have helped. She is currently casted with packing (which has done wonders for her through this latest wet-dry cycle), is partway through a course of Acetyl D, has had a few massages, and is getting Traumeel tabs daily, just to see what would happen. Something about this seems to be working - she is going into our rides completely sans slow-hitchy warmup, and has energy and power to spare. She usually starts out feeling a bit like a tin soldier, but not anymore. Something is working, and working well. With that big question mark squared away for now, I can start really focusing on fitness and training, and figure out exactly what my plans are with her.

On Saturday, I finally had the chance to go roading with the local hunt. In this part of the (extremely hot) country, we road in the summertime at the kennels, cub in the late fall, and hunt from November to April. It has been too hot thus far in the summer to take her out with them, so I waited until now to do it. Of course, it ended up being another 100 degree day... blarf. Will summer ever end?? Not to be daunted, I swam her on Friday, bathed her all up.... and then watched her melt into a giant, rolling, filthy sweatball as the heat of the day caught up to her. So much for that. I had to get up early early on Saturday to give her a second bathe because it was entierly pointless to try and keep her clean. She lives to be disgusting... it is her sole mission in life to get as sweaty, bleachy, and filthy as possible, every single day. Why I even bother to clean her at all is beyond me, it is pointless!

After her bath and cleaning early in the morning, we rolled out at around 8pm, arriving right at 8:30 at the kennel property. She unloaded fine, ate some hay, hung around, was completely unfazed by the hounds... but LOST IT when a second trailer pulled in to unload their horses. You'd think she had never seen horses before in her whole life, ever. She completely insane! (Turns out she's in heat.... so there you are!) Thankfully, the pawing and screaming fits quickly passed, and she settled back in to munching her hay. Once mounted, I hung around with the other riders in the shade until the first pack of hounds was brought out, then waited anxiously to see what her reaction to a group of running, bouncing, baying hounds would be.

And... it was nothing. She didn't care. At all.

The hounds know not to come up and stiff the horses, but the presence of a new horse was a bit much for some of them, and they had to check her out. She didn't care, and didn't so much as even swish her tail as they sniffed all around her heels. (They were of course given a quick reprimand and backed off, but it was good to see that things like that don't bother her one bit.) They popped out from the brush, they crashed around making noise, they cam running past several times, and still she didn't care. What a good girl!

The best part of the whole ride started between pack walks. While the group of girls was being put up and the group of boys was being rounded up, the riders all went up to the jump field and popped over a few fences. I hadn't jumped Pangea once in the seven months that I've owned her - not ONCE - so I hesitated a bit, not sure if I really wanted to join in. What if jumping made her sore, or what if she was completely nuts? I had no idea what she would do, or if she'd even be able to hold up to jumping at all. But she's been doing so well and feeling so good, and there was a crossrail right in the middle of the field calling my name, so I figured what the heck, let's give it a try.

First attempt, at the trot? Deer jumping bounceflail with me bouncing out of my irons in awkward confusion. Okay... let's try that again. Take two, at the canter... a beautiful, quiet, rhythmic jump. Sweet! A few more times produced the same. Double sweet! Back out in the woods, where there were a series of small, scary stone walls and other assorted jumps? Jumped them all, no hesitations. She did everything with enthusiasm and energy to spare. She was a MACHINE.

I've been missing out. And I've been underestimating her abilities. AND I've underestimated her soundness as well - on Sunday morning, we had a pretty hard dressage school, and she felt absolutely wonderful. She has no stiffness, soreness, or anything to note. If anything, she felt better than ever.

Holy moley. Do I possibly have a candidate for an event horse after all?

I think I haven't given this mare a chance to prove herself, simply because the memory of Gogo has been blocking any sort of forward progress towards showing again. What I want and crave in a show horse is Gogo, period. She was my perfect eventing counterpart... she had it all. She was flashy, stunning in the dressage, effortless in stadium, bold and catty on XC. She was quick and smart and surefooted, and despite her opinionated ways, when we were on fire we ALWAYS won. I loved that partnership, loved the connection we had. I was so proud of her, and I loved to show her off. She was - and still is - my perfect match, despite being gone. Her memory is still vibrant and alive and painful, and I can't take down the bar that I have set for myself and my standards. It has been impossible to consider anything other than her as the ultimate partner, and I have avoided anything that might challenge that idea.

I think this all boils down to the fact that no one will ever be Gogo, and that is hard to disassociate from, simply because I have put her on a perfect pedestal and unfairly compare everything to her. I've not even considered showing Pangea at all simply because I didn't think she was fancy or catty enough to win on a national level, like Gogo did. If I want to be honest with myself, if I am going to show at recognized shows, I want to win them. They are expensive and time consuming, and I don't want to do it unless I stand a good chance at winning. It makes me sound like a horrible snob, and maybe I am. But I'm not the kind of person who wants to buy a fancy made horse just to win ribbons, and I'm not the kind of person who is power hungry enough to do anything just to win. (Clearly I would have bought another fancy pants horse had I really wanted one!) I want a talented animal that I bring along myself from a humble beginning that becomes the perfect partner over time, one that I can mold and create and build up a relationship with as the years and levels go by. I guess it still basically boils down to the fact that I want Gogo. I want Gogo and nothing will ever compare to her perfection in my mind. I can't let it go.

But that doesn't mean I should automatically write Pangea off as a potential show horse. Sure, she's not flashy, but she is consistent in everything that she does - something that Gogo NEVER was. Why couldn't Pangea show locally? Why couldn't we give it a try? If she keeps surprising me like she has been, who knows? Maybe there is more to her abilities than I ever imagined, and I just have to take the time to really believe in her and cultivate that to its true potential. And I haven't. I have loved this mare and not really believed in her at the same time. Her only real flaw, when I peel away the layers, is that she is not Gogo. And what kind of a flaw is that? I could, by extension, say that Gogo's only flaw was that she was not Pangea. It is nonsensical, and I am ready to throw that logic in the trash.

It has felt very good to really sit down and think about all of this. Building a relationship with a new horse is a journey, especially when one has exceedingly painful equine baggage from the past. I'm still not right, even though it has been nearly a year since I lost Gogo. I don't ever think I will be right. But that doesn't mean I should let other opportunities pass me by, simply because they are not Gogo. And from this point on, I intend not to.

By the way, I had the cut the tattered ears from the new (meaning 2 week old) flymask, but it is still alive...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Not much to report!

I haven't blogged about Pangea in nearly a month. A MONTH! Mostly I've had little to write about, honestly - I've been working insanely long hours at my two full time jobs as well as trying desperately to keep up with full time school (yes, three full time things plus riding doesn't work out very well) - and I haven't been riding very much due to the heat and Pangea's inability to cope with it. She's been doing a lot better, thankfully, but she has struggled over the past few months to keep herself cool. Lots and lots of sweat and one sunbleached coat later, and we seem to be reaching the end of summer, sort of. As I write, it is currently overcast and 68 degrees. I know it will warm into the low 90's later today, but I'll take that as "cooling off." We're not supposed to reach into the 100's again in the foreseeable future, so I am hoping it won't happen again until next summer!

Most of what Pangea has done over the past month is nothing at all, save for going in the AquaTread once a week, a few dressage rides, and a few trail rides as well. She is still teetering on the edge of comfortable enough to be strongly rideable, and I have been debating whether or not to really pursue a foxhunting career with her. Is she going to stay comfortably sound enough to do it, or not? I figure I will keep trying to find her magic combination for the rest of the year, and then reevaluate. To be honest, if she isn't going to make a foxhunter, then she'll be semi-retired and become a happy trail pony and momma. I don't want to hear ONE NEGATIVE WORD from people about her being a momma. I've made the mistake of talking about breeding in the past, and I am not keen to get the same negative response. My horse, my money, my decision, end of story! ;)

Anyway, back to Pangea's comfort. As her issues have unfolded, I have realized they are far more complicated than I ever imagined. It isn't just that she had an old stifle injury that was unattended to, it was that her entire body has been compensating for years due to that and her feet. The soreness in her body made her stand in odd positions - camped under a lot in front, for instance - which in turn made her wear her sole thin at the toe and grow a long heel... which made her body sore. Her entire body developed a sway to the right, feet included. We have come a VERY long way in helping to improve her posture, but she is still very body sore and restricted. Two chiropractic adjustments have failed to help her, and dental work didn't improve anything either. (I thought the dentist was great but the chiro was not great... we'll be looking for a new one.) Regular trims and a balanced diet have done an awful lot of good for her feet, but she is going to need boots if we want to get any further on tougher terrain. Devil's Claw Plus and Cosequin ASU were very helpful, but not quite enough. She is currently going through a course of Acetyl-D, and if that isn't helpful enough, will do a course of Adequan as well. She had a massage yesterday for the first time, as I suspected it would do her a whole lot of good, and holy lord did she ever need it! She spent the entire time trying to bite me and kicking out violently at all the knots the massage therapist uncovered. As she's not a biter or a kicker, it speaks an awful lot about the level of pain she was feeling. (At least she wasn't trying to kick the massage therapist... she was just kicking out backwards to show how she really felt about the whole thing, instead of aiming for her!) She was stuck basically from head to tail, poor thing. It's all compensatory soreness... it's all just a big mess. She'll get another one next week, and we'll see how she feels then.

The saddest part about this whole ordeal is that had somebody bothered to properly treat her injury when it first happened, none of this would be happening now. Now, it is up to me to play clean-up crew, and it isn't pretty. Truthfully, she doesn't owe me anything, and if I can't get her to where she needs to be to be a consistent riding horse, then she'll be retired to broodie and trail duty. There isn't anything that she has to do for me in order to earn her keep. Just being who she is is enough for me.

A few of the things we've been up to this past month:

Also, systematically destroying flymasks. She is very good at that.

A few shreds at first...

... to the full Phantom of the Opera.

No more nice Cashel masks for you mare... this is the fourth one you have destroyed this summer!! She wore the one Gogo had for FIVE YEARS for three days and completely ruined it. She also blew through a Quiet Ride mask and now TWO more regular Cashel masks, one with ears and one without... fail! I hear Horseman's has super cheap masks with durable mesh... gonna have to check them out for sure.

We'll see how the massage worked!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Trailventure Time!

Last Saturday, Pangea and I were set to go on our first ever roading adventure with the local hunt. She swam on Friday, and I spent some time that afternoon trying to organize and clean my stuff - after all, this was going to be our first time out in public doing something where we needed to look respectable! Unfortunately for us, the weather did not cooperate, and the hunt called off the Saturday road in anticipation of high temperatures (110-115F). I didn't complain, seeing as I had to cut my Friday prep time very short due to being followed home by this!!

I swear we got chased home by a tornado. Swear it.

On Saturday, with no obvious place that I had to be anymore, I decided that I was going to make good use of the cool early morning weather (and by cool, I mean it was still in the mid 80's at 7am) and trailered Pangea out to Benbrook Lake for some early morning conditioning. Thank you to all my cats and dogs who made this possible... my furry little alarm clocks became very alarmed when I wasn't up by 6:45am, and all started jumping on me and/or crying hysterically in an effort to make sure I wasn't dead and/or going to forget about their breakfast. Every time I rolled over and groaned, any inch of me that wasn't covered by blankets was either licked maniacally or pounced on by ferocious kitten claws. I think this is a good sign that you have had too few days off lately.

At the head of the trail, we crossed paths with a total stranger, a 70 year-old man named John on a Missouri Foxtrotter. We both happened to be heading the same way with the same idea in mind - ride before the death heat sets in - so we marched off together. John complained repeatedly about never having anyone to ride with because all of his friends at the boarding stable take too long to get their horses ready, so I think he was happy to have a friend!

John's boarding stable is right down the road from the state park where we were riding, so he knew all the ins and outs of the trails in the area. We even took a few little sidepaths that led us off into lands unknown, making weird little discoveries like this dead cur dog behind someone's house:

I thought it was a coyote at first, but closer inspection of the skull says no. It was literally right on the other side of someone's tightly fenced property and huge manicured lawn - an intruder who was shot perhaps? No idea, but it seems a very unusual place to just drop dead of your own accord. My guess is that it died elsewhere and was dragged here, for one reason or another.

We also, erm... snuck down to the water's edge. Pretty sure we were not supposed to be there, but we did it anyway!

My intrepid guide dismounted first and gingerly checked the beach footing before we proceeded out there. Apparently he's had some quicksand issues before... or something.

We spent some time relaxing in the shade afterwards before we parted ways and I headed back to the trailer. I tested out the gears before we were through - w/t/c all felt great - and then called it a day. It was a balmy 100 degrees by 10:30am.

The longer I have this mare, the more of her father I see in her. I had a request awhile back to do a comparison between the two of them, and I will definitely have to make good on that soon!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Butt dapples, ho!

And by that I mean, "butt dapples off the starboard bow!" And not, "your butt dapples make you look like a tramp!"

I am happy to report that with multiple bathings, UV spray, and some serious elbow grease, Pangea's butt dapples still do exist underneath it all:

It will take a little while (and some new hair growth) to see whether the UV spray is actually helping or not, but here's hoping!

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Having Pangea is a very interesting lesson in how to just relax and enjoy going for a ride. I get into a mindset where I feel like I should do dressage or should do conditioning because she needs this muscle here or that stamina there, when in reality there is nothing I need to actually be doing at all that I don't want to. If I feel like going on a walk trail ride, then hell, I'm going on a walk trail ride. I do miss the rigorous schedule that comes with conditioning and training a show horse, but admittedly it is nice to just get on and do whatever I want to do.

Donkey girl... look at those EARS!

Also, my boots.

Broken zipper yet again... someday I'll have nice things. I can't really justify going out and spending a zillion dollars on a new pair of nice tall boots when I'm not showing right now, so I make do for now with vetwrap and eternal trips to the cobbler.

The weather has been beautiful - sunny and in the mid-90's, which is downright chilly here for this time of year. Perfect for hackventures! So long as we can avoid the storms, of course:

They were east of us so we were safe.

Random beautiful back road I discovered... there was a Paso breeding farm across the street from where I was riding, and they all came gaiting up to the fenceline when we went by. Bless her heart, her eyes got a little round but she didn't do anything else except continue to just stroll along.

Look at the SUNFLOWERS! Boy they are getting tall.

Oh and PS, remember the horrible tail that has been half ripped out and matted with dreadlocks every day despite my meticulous care? After many, many washings I seem to have revived it a bit:

Nothing short of a miracle, I can tell you that!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012


When we last left off from the sunbleaching story, I had put Gogo's old Saratoga flysheet on Pangea as an experiment in the war against the bleach. It has been a *tiny* bit cooler here, and I figured it was worth a shot - maybe it would keep the worst of the UV rays away. Pangea had other ideas about this, and it didn't take very long for her to decide that enough was enough.

Gogo wore this sheet for YEARS without issue. Pangea wore it for two days.

Yep... pretty much destroyed! Shredded all down the back in multiple places. Check out the half-ruined flymask as well. I'm going to have to break out my needle and thread for that one... I'm not particularly handy, so maybe I'll just do it with baling twine. She's going to destroy it either way!

Oh mares....

PS Mimi is back home and doing very well! We never did find out what was wrong with her, but a heavy dose of antibiotics seems to have knocked the worst of it out and she is steadily improving every day. I thought for sure we were going to lose her... what a relief to have her home!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Golden Girl

Pangea says, welcome to Hell Texas summer!

Having always had stalled-with-turnout horses up until I turned Gogo out last year, I think I somewhat underestimated how much work it is to try and keep a pastured horse clean. Basically, it is a completely impossible and totally futile task that causes me daily agony and misery. Gogo was always so clean, so sparkly, so brilliantly shiny and colorful, and with SUCH A BEAUTIFUL THICK GLOSSY TAIL ZOMG MY EYES I'M BLIND. This was largely due to the fact that she lived inside in the shade with a fan, and wore a flysheet in the summer whenever she was out.

As for Pangea, with that beautiful, rich, dappled coat? It has vanished with the temperature spike, replaced by a horribly dull, pale, burnt-looking sunbleached mess of washed-out color, crispy and dry as can be. Why? Because when the temperature spiked, she spent every day of her life soaked in sweat, standing out in the blazing sunlight (she chooses not to stand in the shade of her shed or her shady trees), letting the salty grime give her streaky blonde highlights in the areas that she sweats the most. The result? Patches of gold on her neck and back, along with a nice golden stripe down each front leg where the path of sweat runs. And it isn't a nice gold either... it is faded and crispy. No amount of rinsing her sweaty self managed to help prevent the issue. As for her poor tail, she spends so much of her time swatting at flies that it gets coated in sweat as well, and of course snags on everything that it comes in contact with. As a result, it is grimy, tangled, and half torn out. She is also very itchy due to all the sweat, so she grinds dirt into her coat every time she gets too hot - which also tears out more of her tail. Also ALSO, she pees in her tail. I CAN'T WIN.

Basically, my beautifully dappled bay has turned into some sort of weird dun/buckskin hybrid with a rump still full of butt dapples and a front end that doesn't match the rear. She looks horrible... I am truly embarrassed. There's not much that I can do until her coat sheds out and she grows a new one... arghhh!

I have a fly sheet on her for the moment, but it is just as an experiment - I am pretty sure that even the lightest one that I have will be too hot for her. It's a bit too late anyway.... sigh!

Yeesh, how embarrassing. If anyone has tips on keeping a sweaty horse who lives outside from sunbleaching, PLEASE do share! Same goes for keeping a decent tail on a pastured horse as well! Gogo had the same issue last year with her tail and the sunbleaching.... it was awful!

Check it out, I caught her doing a naughty when she was at the pool barn yesterday - I never net hay and elevate it as a rule (not good for TMJs to eat anywhere but off the ground) but when she is there for the day, I net it to keep it from blowing away in the nonstop gale force winds we have going. She, as you can see, was NOT amused by the slow feeder and made several attempts to tear it down (only succeeded once).

Naughty girl.

Sigh... but really, this horrible bleaching-in-sweaty-areas-only issue. Tips?? I'm not suspecting a nutritional issue at this point since it seems so perfectly connected with the sweat and heat and blazing sun, and she was so gleaming and dapply up until two weeks ago, but I'll keep it in mind as a possibility.

The health benefits of 24/7 turnout are obviously massively greater than keeping her stalled and inside, but it is a truthful PITA, and I never realized just how messy it could be - or remembered, I guess... Quincy used to live outside, after all!

EDITED TO ADD: Please, please keep my sweet Mimi in your thoughts... she is in kitty ICU right now with a blazing fever of unknown origin, no appetite for food or water, and strange jerky eye movements. It might be a simple infection that will clear with antibiotics, or it might be something so sinister that we could lose her. Please send good positive vibes our way... I'll just die if something happens to my precious Mimer.