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!