Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Steepleview Schooling Day

Minnesota and Royal always keep life interesting.

When Royal stayed sound with his boot off, you'd think I'd be able to quickly get back into riding and doing other fun things, right? Wrong. The weather took a turn for the insane, with temperatures in the high 90s and ridiculously high humidity. So, any sort of barely strenuous activity was completely out of the question. It would be mid-to-high 80s and humid at 7:00am, and I would feel completely crummy going out. I got some new fans for the barn, which the boys enjoyed immensely. My cat, on the other hand, enjoyed the weather and spent a lot of time lounging on the porch.

The heat wave broke on Thursday and I did some riding/jumping on Friday. It was still quite warm and humid, so I decided to take it easy. Royal was a bundle of excitement, and even tried to take off with me after a jump. A one-rein stop put an end to that nonsense rather quickly and we jumped some more before ending on a nice fluid jump over the purple vertical.

Saturday say thunderstorms for most of the morning, so I mainly focused on cleaning up Royal's mane and ears. He was okay with the mane, but not so crazy about the ears. Which I understood and let him have all the time he needed to get used to it. I didn't clip the whole inside of his ears, just the tufts sticking out, and was able to do it at liberty. I also packed my trailer with most of the stuff I needed, as it started to look full.

My lesson started at 1:00pm on Sunday, so I was able to kind of sleep in and leisurely get out to the farm. I hooked up the truck and trailer on the first try (go me!) and was able to get Royal brushed off before loading him and heading to Steepleview. Royal loaded and traveled well, taking in his surroundings easily.

Royal says "Are we there yet?"

We got there in plenty of time and mostly hung around until we had to meet in the warm-up area, where I made a bunch of big mistakes.

Mistake #1: Not getting to the warm-up area early enough to let Royal get used to the surroundings. There were horses everywhere on the various parts of the cross-country course around the arena, and Royal being who he is, wanted to keep track of them all. Which was impossible and he started to freak out.

Mistake #2: Doing big circles and "going places" before Royal was ready. I had been assigned to be in a group of three other horses and riders at the same level (green bean) and an instructor. The instructor asked us to move our horses out so he could see how the horses were. Which meant big circles around the big warm-up area at a solid trot and canter, which got Royal REALLY revved up. To the point where he could. not. stand. still. And was sweating all over, including around his eyes.

Had I been thinking, I would have explained to the instructor that warming up with frequent transitions and small circles/figure-8s has worked the best for us, and I could do that and stay out the other riders' way. Again, stupid mistake and I had to live with the consequences. Warming up over fences went okay, as the instructor realized asking me to get Royal to boogie might be a bad idea. A single cross-rail, a cross-rail to a vertical, and then a pile of logs all went fairly well. Then we headed to a different part of the course, all of which was beautiful.

The next exercise was a downhill roll-top, which then morphed into the roll-top to a right-hand turn over a bridge, and then into the roll-top to another roll-top a ways away. Royal drifted left to run-out at the second jump, which was my fault. There was another jump there, and I didn't focus enough on the jump I wanted. He got confused and split the difference by going between the jumps. I tried again, focusing hard on the jump I wanted, and he popped over it no problem.

Next was the ditch, which became Royal's nemesis. We've had our conversations about ditches before, and he did okay over the ditch at the Derby Day, but this was a different story. Two of the other horses went before him and they both had cows. Like, prize-winning-bull-at-the-Iowa-State-Fair cows. So when it was our turn, Royal was convinced that there had to be demons in the ditch, and being invisible made them worse. He LAUNCHED over the ditch and I nearly fell off when he bolted and nearly wiped out an innocent bystander. The second attempt had a lot more dithering in front of the ditch, and another gargantuan leap. But this time I was ready for it and threw in another one-rein stop before he got out of hand. The third time was a lot better, although he still over-jumped it.

Then it was on to the banks, which Royal tackled like he's done them all his life. We started with the little 6" bank, then went on the the bigger ones. By now, Royal was starting to settle in and be calmer. After that, we tackled a mini-course of a small log to the bank to a curvy ramp. Royal cantered around that like nothing, soaring over the ramp like he had wings. Then another mini-course of the ramp to a small tiger trap and up the bank. We stuttered up the bank, but escaped unscathed.

And finally, the WATER! Royal hesitated a bit at the entry, but splashed straight through, having a great time. Then we cantered through, splashing everywhere. Next it was time to try banks into water. He was a little suspicious, but dived in. The lesson ended with us jumping off the bank to the water, canter through and out, and over a coop. Fluidly and harmoniously.

We walked back to the trailer, I unsaddled Royal, loaded him up, and we went home. Tired and happy.

It was a good day.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Boot Is Off

On Wednesday, seeing as Royal was sound and healthy, I took his boot off. I'd been able to keep the hoof covered for two weeks, and it showed. The sole was somewhat squishy and the heels were not looking good. The ground was firm, but not hard and I figured it would be perfect for letting his hoof get back into shape.

And so far it's been good. The sole was hardened right up and the heels look fantastic. And now I have to figure out how to get the rest of him in shape. Three and a half weeks of light work have helped his topline disappear and he's lost some stamina. But now it's supposed to be in the high 90s the rest of the week so I don't know how I'm going to accomplish that before the cross-country clinic on Sunday.

In the meantime, I got a set of shipping boots for Royal and while they look nice, he's not so sure what to think about them.

I let him get used to them in the round pen, and he eventually adjusted to them. No clue how he'll travel with them yet. We'll see next week.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dr. Silverhoof Goes Bye-Bye

It's the 100th post! And it's mostly good news.

On Sunday, my mother came up to the farm with me to see Royal and what this soaking and wrapping business was all about. I decided to go for a nice short bareback ride in the arena to see how Royal was doing. It turned out that he was doing quite well.

Being followed by my nearly 16-year-old Beagle who has an obsession with following me on horseback. No one understands it and Royal doesn't seem to care.

Royal last got bute on Sunday morning and got his last soak on Monday. By then he was becoming very impatient with the whole thing and I figured he'd been soaked enough. We did another purple wrap that day.

On Tuesday, I had to figure out how I was going to keep a wrap on his hoof without him shredding it. He has the ability to shred through 1/2" of duct tape and imitation Vetrap, although he never got any dirt in the hole. So my barn owner lent me an old soaking boot. We couldn't get it closed enough on top, so we used duct tape. It was ugly, but it kept dirt out, even though he still kept shredding the Vetrap inside it.

I had to wrap above his fetlock in the hopes it would prevent rubs, but the wrap kept falling down. Sigh. But he still doesn't have any rubs and I ordered an Easyboot Rx that I hoped would fit him better. It's made for protecting hooves in turnout and seemed tough enough to withstand Royal. But I had to wait for it to be shipped here, so I kept using wrapping and using the soaking boot. I did some riding with an actual saddle and various gaits on Wednesday and Royal was a dream. Totally sound with no hint of a lameness.

The Rx boot arrived last night, and I had to be at the clinic this morning. I took the boot with me and it got thumbs up from the vet. So I went to the farm afterwards and with the help of the barn owner, got the Rx on Royal's hoof and it fits! It also looks much nicer and more comfortable.

It's just wide enough, so I can't put any Vetrap underneath it. It's got plenty of length so I can hear it moving a bit when Royal moves. Still, it seems like will stay and the top part is soft enough not to rub. I am cautiously optimistic that this will work and we'll have this nonsense behind us after this week. Hopefully, we'll be able to do some jumping and have some fun again!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dr. Silverhoof's Schedule

It's day five of our soaking/wrapping adventure, and I am ready to tear my hair out. I officially hate hoof abscesses with a passion and wish that they would go the way of the dodo.

But, in the meantime, I've been doing my best to help Royal heal and ensure this crap doesn't happen again. Since I've given up on soaking him in the arena, he's been mostly good. It probably helped that I filled a big drink thermos with warm water from home (the barn doesn't have warm water) and used that for soaking. Royal still isn't too keen on the idea, but he's a lot more willing to tolerate it.

Of course, standing there for 20 minutes is Very Very Boring. I tried getting some hay and feeding it to him during the soaks, but he didn't want to eat it. Probably because there is grass all around us and he would much rather eat that. I don't want to let him do that since he would move his hoof and defeat the purpose of soaking. So, my solution is to feed him mints and/or carrots periodically to keep him happy. I also indulge his licking habit. Royal likes to lick stuff. I don't know why, and he licks everything (me, gloves, coats, gates, fence posts, fans). He gets free access to mineral blocks and a full serving of balanced grain every day, so he probably doesn't have any deficiencies. It's just a "Royal thing".

After he's taken his hoof out at least twice, it's been around 15 minutes. I then put some sugerdine on his hoof, put a diaper or poultice pad on the hoof, wrap it in imitation Vetrap, then duct tape. And Dr. Silverhoof comes back.

On Saturday, it was creme.

There is a glimmer of hope. Yesterday, I took off the wrap to find it all gooey and smelly. There was also a hole in the coronet band, pretty much directly above where we found the original abscess. The edges of the hole were soft, but he didn't seem bothered by me pushing on them or putting sugerdine on the hole. Today, the wrap was mostly dry with a little wet spot at the hole. And the imitation Vetrap was purple. Since tomorrow is July 4, I wanted to do a sort of patriotic theme, but couldn't find any Vetrap like that. So I decided to go with light purple, since that is red, white, and blue all mixed together.

Hoping we're on the road to recovery.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dr. Sliverhoof

After Royal got better on Sunday, he was lame again on Monday. I called the vet on Tuesday and set up and appointment for the next day, since I really didn't know what was going on. Dr. E came out Wednesday evening, performed a lameness exam and found an abscess on the lateral bar of Royal left front hoof. I had considered an abscess as the cause of the lameness, but didn't think that was the reason. I had always thought of abscesses as making sound horse three-legged lame overnight. But this seems like a small one and Royal is pretty stoic. Dr. E thinks it was caused by Royal stepping on a rock last week in the pasture. He got some "toothpaste-like" pus out of the hoof and told me to soak it in Epsom salts and warm water for 5-7 days, keep it wrapped for 2 weeks, keep Royal turned out and hope the abscess blows out the hoof sometime soon. Hopefully it will resolve quickly.

Unfortunately, the soaking is turning out to be an issue. The vet told me to soak his hoot on the rubber mat in the arena. Royal is most opposed to this idea, to the point where asking him to stand on the mat reduces him to a shaking and sweaty mess. And, when he rockets backwards, he gets dirt all over his hooves, defeating the purpose of soaking it. So, I've decided to soak him outside on the grass. That way, if he steps out of the water pan, he just gets a bit of grass on it. No dirt, no mud, and I can just brush the grass off and put the hoof back in the water. Plus he's more relaxed when he sees other horses and I can give him hay and mints.

After soaking, I have to put a iodine/sugar solution on the sole of the hoof to disinfect it. I then wrap the hoof to protect it. This requires three layers: an absorbent layer (I'm using diapers now, but will use a Animalintex hoof pad tomorrow), a layer of Vetrap, and a final coating of duct tape. That's where the "Dr. Silverhoof" comes in. It turns the hoof silver, which looks kind weird/cool. One horse that used to be at the farm had a tendency to abscess in the summer, so it seemed like he always had duct tape around one of his hooves. I would jokingly call him Mr. Silverhoof, but then switched to Dr. Silverhoof. It sounds more like a James Bond villan, and therefore cooler. So, now, Royal has become Dr. Silverhoof. Dr. E told me to wrap the Vetrap higher than the duct tape, so I always leave a bit poking out. I bought a dozen rolls, all in different colors. Wednesday was red.

Yesterday, I went out after working at the clinic. I was tired, sore, and overheated. The temperature was in the high 90s and very humid, so both Royal and I were cranky. I tried to get him to stand on the mat, but he was vehemently opposed to this idea. At one point, he shot backwards so fast I got a mild rope burn and at another he went sideways and accidentally struck me above my knee, which hurt. He was starting to sweat around his eyes (a MAJOR stress signal) and I figured it was better to soak him outside instead of fighting with him. He was much happier and willing to stand in the pan. The imitation Vetrap that night was navy blue.

Today it was hot (over 100) and humid again, and I just set up the soaking/wrapping outside the barn. Royal stood very well for a long time, but did start to lose patience. The mints helped with that, and we got 15 minutes total of soaking. The wrap was orange, but I couldn't get a good picture of it with my cell phone. It kept showing up white.

At this point, I just have to wait. Hopefully I'll be able to get some pus coming out the hole soon and Royal will be all sound. Right now, he's sound on 2g of bute a day, and I'll try to wean him off it over the next few days. Until then, it's just going to be lots of soaking and wrapping.