Monday, November 22, 2010


 The barn manager at my new barn had a great idea to take pics of December every couple of days so I can document her progress.  It helps me because I don't trust my own eyes when I see her every day.  Also, if anyone were to call Animal Control on me I've got pretty good information to show that I'm taking care of the situation.  I apologize for the quality, but hey, I'm using a camera phone in the dark.

This pic was taken the weekend I picked her up.  At this point I was conviced she was sick and dying on me.  The vet convinced me to observe her for a few days since she wasn't in obvious distress and start weighing her feed.

This pic was taken after one week.  Some improvements but not as much as I would like.  At this point since illness wasn't as big of a concern I used a power pack wormer, and a round of Sand Clear.  Also switched from hay to a complete senior pellet feed, and the beet pulp supplement I mentioned before.

This was taken this Friday.  She's still very thin but so much better than before.  I'll get some better ones this week. This is about what she looked like when I first got her back in 2008.  I'm excited that hopefully we can rule out any serious illness.  It looks like a case of poor management.

Of course now I'm beating myself up for letting this happen to her.  I just fail to understand what happened.  Her feet are excellent, her vaccinations up to date, every time I stopped by she had good quality hay in her stall, and the other horses at this barn are all well cared for and they have a good reputation.  They are really involved with Pony Club which I've always heard good things about too.  They paid a small fortune on the vet when they thought she was collicking.  Why would you do all of that for a horse and then just not make sure it had enough food for the work it was doing?  Or contine to work it when it was obviously too thin and the saddle didn't fit?  Was it ignorance or did they just not care as long as they were able to make money off giving lessons on her?  Is it possible that the work load was just too stressful for her?  These are questions I will probably never know the answer to. 

The good thing is that she's back in my care, she's happy and getting healthy.  I shared her progress with my co-worker and she asked me what I was going to do with her.  The truth is that I don't know.  I've been thinking about that dream I had.  I was so determined to get her well and get rid of her two weeks ago.  Now...I'm just not sure.  With the bigger property we have plenty of room in the pasture and she seems to really love it out there.  My sister isn't sure it's the best idea.  Her point was I might find someone else who actually enjoys riding her who would take even better care of her than me.  I'm just worried and feel responsible for her....she's had a hard enough life and I don't want her to end up in poor circumstances again.  It does feel good though to know she's going to be okay and that there are lots of options.  The future doesn't seem so bleak as it did just two weeks ago. 

Yesterday I hand walked her to the other barn and groomed her.  Tax was so excited to see his old girlfriend!  She got her mane trimmed and her face clipped.  I brushed her out and put some Cowboy Magic in her little stubby tail (It got chewed off bad last spring) which is actually growing back super thick.  I lunged her for just a minute to see how she's moving and she looks great.  Then I walked her home again.  She rolled in front of me for the first time since she got here.  I think she feels better too!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Show Pics

 I like this pic of us.  I think I look...not as fat.  LOL  Tax of course looks perfect.

 This is typical.  Tax looks asleep and I have my hands in my lap. 
 Warm up jumps with my trainer, Tina.  I like that my rein is a little loose and I'm not ripping off his face.  Also, I'm looking up. Yay, me.
 Not bad although my leg still slips back a little more than I'd like.
Not sure about this one.  Why are my hands in my lap again?  Why aren't my heels down?  But I love the big pony's face and crazy winter mane.  So cute.
Most of the pics in my crossrails class were too far away to see much.  This was coming down the last line.  Nice and straight.  We may not have gotten a ribbon in this class but you have to add up all the little things that went well.  Tax is right where I want him to be right now. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This is December in early 2009 after I'd gotten her back up to a good weight.  I got her in Sept of 2008 and she was very thin and out of shape.

This is December on Sunday, November 14th.  It makes me want to cry.  I think she looks a little better already then when she first got here.

Last night I dreamed about taking December to one of the shows I've been taking Tax to.  In my dream we completed the most beautiful hunter round in front of the trainer I got her from.  He was actually our judge at the last show.  Everyone congratulated us...everyone wanted her.

But maybe I was wrong about her getting better?  Last night December only ate about 4 quarts of pellets.  She ate her beet pulp and rice bran but I'm worried that's not enough.  She also didn't drink much water.  Hmmm...

I honestly can't figure out if something is going on with this horse or if she just needs food.  I had thought her weight looked a little better but then this morning her ribs felt so prominent.  Sigh and more sigh...

I figure its because I spoke with someone yesterday who is really interested in her.  I figure she just wants to stay in my pasture forever and get fat and happy and not work.

In the cold fog that settled over the pasture this morning she followed me down from the barn to the gate.  Her thin frame was illuminated in the high beams of my SUV which I had parked there to light up the early morning darkness.  As I climbed in the car to head to work she watched me, saying goodbye with her eyes before heading off to graze.

My mom says I always learn things the hard way because I never listen.  I'm sure there is a lesson here.  I know there is a moral to this story.  I'm listening now, and waiting.  I'm just trying to learn one day at a time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

In the Dark

I'm not a big fan of the dark.  I mean, really, not a fan.  If you'd asked me a week ago the only thing I can imagine worse than the dark house is going out into the dark pasture.  There are animals out there and even though my rational brain tells me that they are more afraid of me then I am of them it doesn't always help.  I've read far too much horror fiction.  Coyotes infested with evil indian gods are not afraid of people (thank you S. King), and I'm pretty sure a zombie deer would come after you too (thanks Walking Dead).  Now, I know there aren't really evil indian gods or zombies lurking in the pasture but there's some primal part of my brain that just isn't buying it.  I like to think I have a strongly developed flight or fight instinct.

This last week and a half I've been faithfully out to check on December at 5 AM and between 5-6 PM.  Given everything above I never would have imagined I could make it out to the barn in the dark.  There are no lights out there at all.  I have to take a flashlight which barely illuminates the path.  In the beginning I took the dogs everytime and sometimes the kids too but now I don't always even though they do make me feel better when the come.  Regardless of how I feel about the dark, or the large animal I heard take off through the field this morning but didn't see, it's all been worth it.  I think that mare is actually getting better and I'm thrilled.

Last night she ate about 10 quarts of pellets, I'll need to weigh them but I'm thinking its close to 15 lbs.  Plus she ate all of her beet pulp and rice bran mix.  That's the most feed she's eaten so far.

And I had a really nice ride on Tax.  I love it when things finally click and all of a sudden something you struggled so hard with seems so easy you can't figure out why it was so hard before.  I used to think his canter was awful and that I'd never learn to sit down and move with him.  Know what did it?  I just needed to roll my legs out a little and keep his inside shoulder up with my calf at the girth.  Now I like cantering him even though it's still more work then on most horses.

Tonight hopefully I will be riding Charlie.  Our first ride didn't go so well and ended with him falling on me...well not ended, I did get back on for a minute just to prove to both of us I would.  Since then I went back to the beginning and I've been working hard on ground work and making sure he respects me and the fact that I tell him where to go before I get back on him.  I think he was still just adjusting to a new place and person.  At least that's what I hope.  I've never seen him act like that before so it caught me off guard.  Why do I always have to learn things the hard way?

Monday, November 15, 2010

December update and our last show of 2010

An amazing thing happens sometimes if you force yourself to take care of another living creature.  It becomes very difficult for most normal, caring people not to get attached.  You become invested in the outcome of that creature.  So it has been with December.  My last week has been a blur of taking care of her while simulanteously preparing for our last show of the season with Tax.

The good news is that she's still hanging in there.  She still seems to be in good spirits and while there seemed to be a small set back when I first got her home where she seemed worse now I think I'm seeing some positive changes.  She's out in our large pasture grazing usually from 5 AM until about 5PM.  I bring her in at night and she's getting about 15 lbs of senior pellets and I'm working toward 20lbs to see if she'll eat all of them.  I've slowly phased out hay completely.  I'm also mixing about 2 quarts of dry beet pulp, 2 cups of rice bran, a handful of flax seeds, a handful of salt, and a handful of sugar and soaking it all in water for about 30 minutes.  She gets that at night with her pellets.  I've started her on a round of sand clear, and wormed her with Panacur.  We'll do ivermectin too in a week.  I'm also keeping a blanket on her to help with the cold.  She's drinking most of a 70 quart bucket of water per day.  At least 3/4 most days.  I'm going to have her teeth checked again to see if she needs a float.  Maybe that's why she wasn't doing good with the hay. 

Yesterday I noticed a couple of things that make me happy.  She grazed further from the barn then I've ever seen her.  As I was bringing out her beet pulp she started heading for the barn as she does every evening when she sees me.  This time because she was further away I beat her there and she came trotting in the last few hundred feet.  This is the first time I've seen her trot in a week.  I sat outside her stall as the light slowly lowered and watched her eat.  She raised her head, alert every time she heard the kids playing up by the house and I giggled as the wet rice bran slid off her chin.

She really is a good horse in many ways.  When I gave her the wormer she just dropped her head and let me squirt it in her mouth.  She's not any kind of drama about it.  She always seems happy to see me and comes running up.  She was like that even before I leased her out and she was in a pasture with two other horses.  I'm sure it's just because I usually have something good to eat but I appreciate not having to chase her down in my 8 acre field.  She's very tolerant of the kids and dogs (unless she's eating, she's been weird about food) and my dumb dogs crawl all around her legs when I'm working in the barn.  She was very good with the lesson kids at the place that was leasing her. 

I hate to say it but hopefully this was just a feed management issue.  I'm taking pics and hopefully soon I'll have before and after shots to post.  She looks pretty bad still so I want to wait until there's some noticeable improvement.  I'm hoping I can get her fixed all up and find a good home that will appreciate and take care of her. 

The horse show went really well.  Tax was an awesome boy all day even though we got some high winds.  Ponies were dumping kids left and right and we had more than a usual number of falls.  My friend, Alyson, who manages the barn at my neighbor's house has never shown before.  I like how she rides Tax and offered to let her take him in some of the walk/trot classes if she wanted to.  By the time we got there and got ready she only got to do a quick warm up and then it was into the arena for her class.  In her very first class she got a 3rd in walk/tot Equitation out of about 15 riders!  As the places were being annouced a pony started bucking, threw her kid and crashed into Tax.  He never even batted an eyelash. 

I got a 5th in my walk/trot Under Saddle class and I showed in my first canter class.  We've been working so hard on it.  We broke to a trot once and I think the judge saw it so we got a third out of three but my trainer said it was the best she's ever seen me ride so I was perfectly happy with that.  We also did the trotting allowed crossbars with the goal of just trotting at a consistent pace for the whole course.  Tax was so good and didn't try to rush any of the fences.  I felt so much more relaxed than last time.  We didn't place but we're slowly but surely creating the type of horse I wanted to own.  He was so mellow the whole day that I even let my 15 year old niece walk him back to the trailer to untack him on her own while I went to close out my paperwork and get my ribbons. 

We're going to start working at cantering over fences now that I feel strong enough to keep him from rushing or pulling on me.  I can't wait for next year!

Oh and I almost forgot...  My mom came this time so I actually have pics of me showing my horse.  I'll get some up soon.  My mom is the cutest thing ever.  On Sunday she came by to give me some magazines she bought because they had articles on exercises for teaching green H/J to jump and on weight management for winter.  She does pay attention when I'm venting even if she's not a horse person!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bad news and tough decisions

I haven’t been blogging much lately and primarily because I’ve been busy. You may have noticed you haven’t heard anything about December since we had her teeth pulled. I wish I could say no news is good news but that’s not the case. I’ve had such a hard time dealing with this situation so I’ve been reluctant to post. I’m kind of at my wit’s end about how to help her and just need to vent right now.

After her tooth was pulled she healed fine and seemed to be gaining some weight. I didn’t talk to the lady leasing her for a while and assumed all was fine. She called me at the end of September to tell me she was afraid she was colicking. She’d stopped eating and seemed uncomfortable. She took her to the vet and had her tubed. They gave her meds, oil and water. They ran a full blood panel and nothing seemed abnormal. No infection and that was a relief. They did note that they thought they heard a cardiac arrhythmia. It sounded like atrial fibrillation but when the did the ECG it didn’t register. Since she was sedated the test may not have been completely accurate, but many horses live with the condition and it could have been brought on by the colic so we decide not to investigate further at that time. Since the episode was minor and the lady leasing her took her in to my vet I didn’t go out to check on her. I talked to the vet and we decided to wait on any more testing.

Then I got a call at the end of October. They thought she was collicking again. This time I went out to meet the vet (not my usual one but the on-call vet from the same clinic) at the barn. I was pretty horrified at how thin she was but figured if she has a chronic condition that they just might not be able to keep weight on her. December didn’t look like a regular colic but she was obviously uncomfortable about her belly and bared her teeth at me when I tried to listen for gut sounds. She was still passing manure and had a rumbly tummy but she was refusing to eat. The lessee shared that they had just ridden her in a barn pagent the day before which concerned me a bit because I wouldn’t be riding a horse in her condition just based on her weight alone. Again the vet tubed her and gave her meds and recommended a million tests if she didn’t start feeling better quickly. She checked again for the cardiac arrhythmia and didn’t hear anything usual.

I did some research and there were a lot of things that to me pointed toward a possible ulcer. The on-call vet didn’t necessarily agree but didn’t think the meds would hurt her any just to try to diagnose by seeing if they made her feel better. She’s always been a horse that seems very anxious and can be girthy and grumpy about her belly from time to time. I bought the meds and asked the lessee to start her on 2250 mg of ranitidine twice a day to see if it changed her behavior. They told me she seemed better after just a day. Then Friday I got a call. They had the vet out Thursday for vaccinations and decided not to give them to December because of her condition. The lessee told me she seemed to be going down hill quickly and needed more than she could provide her. She was depressed and no longer eating again. I made arrangements to pick her up immediately after work to take her to the vet. I cried most of the day through work wondering if I was going to have to make the decision to put her down.

When I got there she actually seemed to be in pretty good spirits. She looked dehydrated and sucked up, but not like she was in any pain. I called the vet and talked to her. We decided that it wasn’t worth the emergency call unless something changed and she was obviously distressed. I rescheduled my appointment for this coming Thursday because I’ve got the day off work. I took her home where my amazing sister met us and we quickly cleaned out the hay barn and spent some time checking her over. There are a few things I found concerning. Her muscle tone tells me she’s been working a lot. She has a rub mark on her withers because the saddle didn’t fit because she’s so thin but she was still obviously working. We checked to see if the blanket was rubbing her but it doesn’t hit her in that spot. The amount of medication for the ulcer treatment that they gave me back indicates they weren’t giving them to her on the schedule we agree to. Also, she was very hungry and thirsty. She proceed to eat everything she could get her lips on and grazed the whole time we were cleaning the barn. She never even lifted her head to see where she was or check out the pasture or neighbor’s horses. I don’t know what to think since this was very different behavior then what I was expecting. She spent the weekend eating pretty well. She grazed in our pasture, ate all of the rice bran pellets I was mixing her meds in with. I also gave her some stable mix pellets mixed with a little salt and sugar (for electrolytes) since the vet was worried maybe her teeth were bugging her since the extraction making it harder to eat hay. She is eating less hay then normal but I’m hoping only because she’s getting so much other food. She has gone through at least half of her 70 quart bucket of water per day and her sides filled in a bit. I was starting to wonder if she just wasn’t getting enough food to meet her needs based on her workload.

Everything seemed to be going pretty well until last night. She was in a lot of the day because it rained pretty hard and was cribbing because of it even though she had a big pile of hay. When I went to check her before bed she pinned her ears when I undid the blanket to check her belly. I was worried but checked her several times in the night and she seemed to be doing okay.

This morning she had eaten most of her hay and was really happy to be let out to graze. She didn’t seem to have an upset tummy anymore. My mom checked on her a couple hours later and she was still doing okay, just grazing.

I would do a lot for my animals but there has to be some kind of a limit and I don’t know where to make that distinction. She’s only 14 and not old enough for me to make the decision of what to do with her lightly. I’m not a rich person but I want her to be comfortable and happy. I’ve already done a lot for her when I didn’t even want to keep her. The lessor was supposed to buy her but then she kept getting sick. She said she wanted her back if we can get her well but I can’t in good conscience send her back there. I also know I don’t want to keep her but I can’t dump all these problems on someone else without knowing what’s going on and fixing it. I need to know she will go to someone who would take care of her if she needs ulcer meds daily. I wish I was okay with keeping her and retiring her but I’m not sure if we have the money to have three horses. I realize a good person would sell one of the healthy horses to have the money to take care of her but I don’t want to and I hope it won’t come to that.

So yeah, I don’t really know what to do except keep an eye on her and see how it goes…

Pictures of Charlie

Not, the best pics ever because I took them with my phone but here's Charlie getting settled into his new home.  This is him in our turn out when I got him back to my barn on Saturday.

I have to admit there are moments I've wondered if I did the right thing.  Grace is such a pretty girl and I'm going to miss her cute face and darling personality.  Then I turned Sir Charles out and let him run.  I'd forgotten how beautiful he is when he's moving.  Moves like Majick is a very appropriate name!

The perspective in this one is a little weird and he looks thin but he's not.  I just wanted to post because look at that handsome face!

 I love that bright chestnut color that shines like new pennies.  Always been one of my favorites.

Three dark spots right down his nose.  I'd recognize this face anywhere.

His high whites in the back.  I didn't get his cool stripe in the front but I'll have to post it sometime.  Its pretty neat.  He also has one belly spot I'll have to post sometime.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Becky - I think I was wrong on his age in my last post or it was a different horse you read about.  Rhonda has had quiet a few of his half-brothers and sisters for sale too and I've loved them all for their temperment, big build and pretty movement.  Charlie is 6 and over 17 hands.  He's bigger than Tax!  He a minimal sorrel overo with a belly spot and two white hinds.  He also has a cool Harry Potterish thunder bolt of white around one front cannon bone.  He has a big blaze with a couple of dark spots in it around his eyes.  He's also got the cutest tight little jog and a slow lovely lope.  He's awesome in the Western Pleasure but can also scoot around a trail course and turns out nicely for the HUS.  A true all-around ammy horse. 

I talked to my trainer last night.  She has a contract waiting.  She has a down payment and she has Charlie's papers signed off by his last owners.  She's also very excited that he's going to me where she knows she'll get to see him again and that he'll be well cared for and shown.  I get to pick him up this weekend!

I'm going to spend the winter just getting to know him and I'll be taking him out on the trails for the first time probably ever.  In the spring I'll take him in to the trainer for a little tune up if needed and then we'll start another show season.  I guess that means I need to call a guy about some chaps.  I never did have them finished and I already paid for the materials.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Its official

Grace went to her new home and I now own APHA Moves Like Majick, aka Charlie.  This is the horse I was talking about leasing way back at the beginning of the year.  He's seriously amazing and now he's mine.  I pick him up Saturday and I will try to get new pics up soon.