To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Views and viewpoint

Sunset from the back of my horse – priceless!



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dr. Mellow and Mr. Hyper

We've been enjoying much better weather since the weekend. I rode in our arena Sunday since we got a little rain, then last night I headed out for a walk around a nearby field and down the gravel lane. Lance was moving v-e-r-y slowly; I was thinking that moving around in the sand of the arena took more out of him than expected.

As we approached the paved crossroad, we spotted two horses being ridden double. Lance could hardly believe his eyes, as we have never encountered other riders on our hill. It was the other family on our road with horses, out riding for the first time since moving in. We greeted one another and passed, moving in opposite directions, but Lance stopped on the other side of the pavement when he spotted dead ground squirrels (thanks to a neighbor who has been shooting them and the vultures who have dragged them around) crawling with yellow jackets lying in the gravel. I definitely didn't want to provoke the nasty insects, so I turned Lance around to follow the other riders towards our house. Already amped, he went into hyper mode, acting like he was getting left behind and preparing to join them posthaste at all costs. Uh; nope. I jumped off and headed in the opposite direction, Lance bouncing around on the end of the reins like a large, unwieldy box kite.  :-/
We eventually went home on MY terms, me leading him all the way. We both got some exercise, but Lance ended up sweatier than I did. Sure wish I could access that energy at will!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Moving forward, slowly

Our air quality has been abysmal, with frequent warnings for the young, old, and those with lung issues to stay inside. I'm certain Lance would come in the house if I asked him to, but I'm also certain that our hardwood floor would suffer for it!

Still, his breathing hasn't gotten worse; there's just been some occasional coughing from the dusty conditions. Last week, when our air quality was at its visibly worst, we kept the horses in their stalls/paddocks a couple days so they weren't snuffling in the dust on TOP of the particulates in the air.

Friday evening a most refreshing coast breeze came up, and I just had to go for a ride. Lance had to stop and catch his breath often when faced with any incline, but it felt wonderful to be astride and I think he enjoyed it, too. Then over the week-end, Rick commented that Lance is FAT; I guess my preemptive efforts to keep his weight up have worked a little too well! So I eliminated the olive oil from his daily rations and determined that no matter how slow or short our rides must be, we would both benefit from getting back to routine exercise, and rode again Sunday evening. We were blessed with a beautiful sunset:


The specialist I consulted last week gave me the name and number of a veterinary dermotologist to contact. Fortunately, he has worked on horses and is willing to come out and do a skin test on Lance August 25. I am excited, and nervous; excited to see if testing gives us information to better help Lance, and nervous that the result may tell us that living in a different area would be the best option for him. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Holding pattern

Well, it's been a week of trying different things. After Lance's breathing got so much worse weekend before last, I sent the internal medicine vet the following video and asked for ideas.

Kim called this a "pretty profound obstructive breathing pattern." She figuratively held my hand for the next several days while suggesting treatment and management changes. First, she encouraged the use of a hay steamer; which got Rick to finish it in short order so we could press it into service.



We tried albuterol inhaler treatments every six hours. After the first 24 hours, she directed me to increase the dose. I kept a record of his respirations just before and then 5/10/15 minutes after each treatment. There was a little improvement in respiration rate but not intensity, so we tried two nebulized dexamethasone treatments 12 hours apart. After those, Lance's respirations were maybe a little slower, but with a secondary push that he hasn't had for a number of weeks.

At that point, Kim approved going back to "just" prednisolone and Zyrtec twice daily, and encouraged me to put the horses out 24/7. I had kept them in their stalls/covered paddocks because the "pasture" is so dry and dusty, but Kim said mold is usually the culprit, not dust.

So our new daily routine includes administering meds, putting fly masks on/off, applying insect repellant in the ears, putting horses in/out for evening grain/supplements, steaming hay and transporting to the pasture. I haven't ridden, because Lance's lungs are working so hard just to get air for standing around – and now we're bracing for a record-setting wave.

I am longing for fall, hoping that a change of seasons might reduce Lance's triggers.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Worry? Helplessness? Desperation?

I am struggling to name the feelings constricting my heart this morning. Lance has been breathing faster/harder for at least the last 36 hours. Friday evening while he got his nebulized fluticasone, I decided we should walk down the lane to get our mail. We have to climb a short hill right after leaving our driveway and it was more than Lance could manage; he had to stop every few steps. Once the grade leveled out he didn't ask to stop, but his respirations were still hard – 47/minute. Granted, he was wearing a mask, but it was still alarming. He didn't breathe as hard last night, but when I did chores at 6:30 this morning, at the coolest time of the day, I noticed his nostrils were flaring. I timed his respirations – 36/minute.

I keep telling Rick that Lance's exercise tolerance has diminished since Cowboy Campmeeting, after we started using the nebulizer. He says the fluticasone wouldn't cause this, but I'm on the verge of mutiny because nothing else has changed in Lance's daily regimen. Obviously even the shortest of easy trail rides is out when he is breathing so hard just standing in his stall when it's cool.

Rick is doing what he can; I know he is at a loss about what more we can do as well. And he will have NO bandwidth to deal with this today; he was called to the coast on an emergency last night and didn't get home until 4:15 a.m. – and had to leave again at 7:15 because the horse was getting worse. (He hasn't been very busy during the week and his emergency load is usually very light; this is unusual.)

I know we can't safely drop the prednisolone cold turkey, but I'm tempted to pull Lance off all the meds and see what his baseline is. If he gets far worse, then at least I'll know that all these chemicals we're pouring into him each day are doing some good. If they are, at what cost to his overall health? (I know the cost in term of dollars, and it's more than nominal.) Still, Lance is my big, beautiful goober who nickers at me and is engaged with the world. I can't see putting him down because his breathing problems aren't responding well to treatment. Like some other areas in my life, this seems to be an unsolvable conundrum. The emotional burden is great.