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

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A strange aphrodisiac

Last week was a busy week for Breezy. She got all that attention from Oliver, then she made a little girl very happy, then Rick finally took the time to fully investigate a little personal problem she's been having. For some time Breezy has been very itchy, rubbing her backside against posts and panels in her stall and paddock. Eventually, she developed a smelly discharge (we wondered if this was the cause of Oliver's powerful attraction). Rick determined that she had abraded her vulva, but looked normal and healthy inside. Assuming an infection, he started her on antibiotics, but also did a biopsy just to cover the bases.

The biopsy results came back today; Breezy has squamous cell carcinoma. We will be starting her on horsey chemotherapy and hope that clears it up. Brian doesn't know yet; he returns tonight after a week-long trip with his grandma.


It continues to be a very boring time for Lance. He's still on stall/paddock rest; Rick didn't even want me to use him for the little girl's pony ride. All I can do with him – besides keeping him fed, cleaned, and groomed – is nuzzle his muzzle and tell him I wish we do more together, too.


All this makes bringing in the pinto mare for training very appealing. Not only would I have something to ride while Lance is laid up, Brian would have something to take on trail rides/horse-camping trips after Lance has recovered if Breezy succumbs to cancer/if the mare is still here. (Yeah; my mind goes over all the contingencies like that.) The big drawbacks are 1) shoehorning in a fourth horse; 2) using up part of our year's hay supply on a horse I have to train, show and sell before I get any return on investment; 3) getting attached to a horse I can't afford. I see #3 as potentially huge if Lance doesn't heal up to be working sound and/or Breezy has to be put down. I guess one way to handle it is to drag my feet on taking the pinto mare until I know more about how Lance is healing and see how Breezy responds to chemo. If the pinto mare is still available when I know more, I could take that as a sign that she's meant to come.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Don't look, Ethyl!"

How to Shock the Neighbors

Lance's peep show
Just because Lance is on stall rest doesn't mean all is quiet on the Western front. Oh my, no.

Breezy is in heat. She's a mare; it happens. But for some reason, for the first time in their several years as herd mates, Rick's middle-aged gelding Oliver has decided he is capable of doing something about that. Cue the squealing . . . every so often . . . all day long. Are they just trying to provide perverse entertainment for poor, locked-up Lance? He's certainly getting an eyeful! And I'm getting an earful through the open windows. Ugh.
Too x-rated for Lance; as you can see, he's disappeared!

I just came back in from putting Breezy back in her stall. I was worried that the constant mounting – from all directions – could be hard on the old girl. Ah, quietude!

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Lance looking on – just before he unlatched his door, walked past the ultrasound machine, and started eating hay from the stack! He hadn't been served breakfast this morning like the others since he needed to be tranquilized for treatment, so he took matters into his own mouth. ;-)

Rick decided to treat Lance with PRP (platelet-rich plasma) as well as extracorporeal shockwave this time, since Lance had quite of bit of damage on the bone where the ligaments pulled loose. He drew blood from Lance, spun it down, buffered it, then used ultrasound to guide the needle into the injured area.

Preparing the PRP
Doing the shockwave treatment
Finding just the right spot to...
...put in the PRP

I spotted this across the stall while holding Lance

Lance sleeping it off
So now we wait. In two and four weeks he'll get shockwave treatments again; in six weeks we should have a pretty good idea on how the injury is healing. No further discussions yet on the pinto mare; I'm waiting to hear more from her breeder.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


"Are you going to find out why my leg hurts?"
"Can you interpret that for me?"
"I'm afraid you're not going to like what it says, Lance. You're going to be stuck in your stall for awhile; you've torn your high suspensory AND inferior check ligaments – and in an odd location, too. Rick says it looks acute rather than chronic and thinks we caught it early, so hopefully it will respond well to treatment. But dude, how DO you keep hurting your ligaments? This is the third injury in two years! Rick says we need to take a look at your neck and back to see if you've got something going on there that's setting you up for these injuries."

I'm rather numb. This latest set-back raises big questions about Lance's long-term soundness prospects, at least as a dressage horse. But I like the big red goober so much. Keeping him as a trail horse is fine with me, but what do I ride while I wait? At my age, it is not good to take much time off from any active pursuit; the road back is harder and more risky.

In a very interesting twist of timing, on Sunday I got an email out of the blue. It was Larry's breeder (if you don't know who Larry is, you can click on the label at right), wondering if I'd be interested in another training prospect to show and sell for her. This one is a green three-year-old half-Holsteiner mare.
Yes, I'm intrigued. No, we really don't have room. Stay tuned.

Friday, July 11, 2014


(Bows head.) Yes, Lord.

I'm scratching Dressage at DevonWood. I'm not going to enter any more shows this year. It remains to be seen if I ever enter a show again. I may not be able to take a hint, but I can recognize a 2x4 when it hits me – or rather, my horse.

First of all, we had a good time at Cowboy Campmeeting. We competed in a trail challenge competition there, and I was so proud of my boy. We had the second fastest time (no one could go faster than a trot or running walk; Lance beat several Tennessee Walking Horses) and finished tied for second place in total points! I was hoping to get some photos of that to share with you, but haven't seen anything yet.

We got home last Sunday evening, and I schooled Lance in the arena on Monday and Tuesday, followed by Wednesday and Thursday off.

So . . . this morning I headed down to ride Lance before the day heated up. I walked him through First Level Test 2 while warming up, noting that he tripped twice with a back foot. Hmm; he hasn't done that since Dr. Steward adjusted him. We started some 20m circles at the trot. Lance felt funny, so I sat the trot a few strides to better ascertain what I was feeling. Nothing was obvious, so I started posting again and continued.

When I asked for a tighter turn to the left, Lance took a couple of obviously gimpy steps. I stopped him, got off, and called my husband. Rick came home for lunch and checked Lance on the lunge line, but didn't think he was lame, just a little "hitchy" in the back end when transitioning into the trot from canter or (less so) the walk. I saw the "hitch" but also saw a few subtle head-bobbing steps here and there, and wasn't completely comfortable with Rick's recommendation to go ahead and ride. But by the end of the day, I had convinced myself that a nice, long walk about the hill might be just the thing for Lance. I saddled him up, put on his front boots, and headed down our lane. Walking along my neighbor's property bordering our road, Lance acted gimpy again. I thought maybe it was the hard, uneven ground. I rode him into another neighbor's level, shallowly tilled field and asked him for a trot on the left rein – and got obvious, head-bobbing lameness.

As we turned for home, I concentrated on what I was feeling and seeing. The pain was definitely in Lance's left front. Interestingly, he has long been much more reluctant to pick up his right front than any of the other feet, and sometimes tries to go down on his knee once I do pick it up. He did that this evening while I was getting ready for our walkabout. So even though this is the first time he's obviously favored it, I am suspicious that whatever hurts has been brewing for awhile.

When we got home I informed Rick that Lance was definitely lame now. He had me stay on and trot Lance up the driveway, then down the driveway. There was clear head-bobbing when traveling downhill. Next, Rick did a flexion test on the left front. When he told me to have Lance trot off, I got no response at first – then my horse managed to hobble two strides before he quit. I felt like a horrible "horse mom."  :-(

Rick recently sold his old ultrasound machine along with his "leg" probe and ordered a new and better probe. It is supposed to get here on Monday; once he has it, Rick will do a thorough lameness work-up on Lance. Until then, I'll keep the horses in so Lance doesn't run around the pasture and do more damage to whatever is hurting him so.