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

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A hard and happy day

I spent 9 1/2 hours at our chapter's League show today, and I'm beat! It was cold and damp, and I spent most of the time on my feet and freezing. It was tinged with sadness, too; our oldest member had recently suffered a fall and brain bleed (or brain bleed and fall), and I learned she passed away yesterday. Here is JoAnn just a year and a half ago, on her partner Tong. She will be missed very much.
But my student and her Paint mare did great at their very first dressage show (and the mare's first outing anywhere besides coming to my place for just four lessons!). They successfully completed Intro Tests A and C and Training Level Test 1, and the judge's comments confirmed what we have been working on. So we'll keep working and she wants to keep showing; next time maybe we will both enter.

It was SO tempting to go get my boy and show TODAY. There was just one rider doing Second Level tests and I think Lance and I could have delivered comparable if not superior performances. But there were no available ride times, so I just stayed the rest of the day to volunteer where needed and catch up with chapter member-friends that I have had little time to socialize with in the last few years. So besides being cold, it really was a good day.

Oh, and I got more information about an upcoming event. Just before the deadline I sent in an application to be a demo rider at the NW Horse Fair & Expo, and found out last week that it was accepted. Lance and I will be there on Friday, March 24, for Jec Ballou's "Cross-Training Exercises for the Dressage Horse." I learned today (our show's videographer is the demo rider coordinator) that we have to be there all day, and perhaps board Thursday night as well. Oh well, a friend is planning to come so we'll have fun hanging out and window-shopping when I'm not riding. I'm looking forward to the opportunity, and am hoping to take a lesson with Julie this week, too. Onward and forward with my handsome Lance!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Around the arena and down the lane

Sorry to leave you post-less for so long! I'm still horsing around, I just haven't had any extra time or mental energy to post about it.

I haven't been over to ride Larry at his fine facility again (see second sentence above). He gets excellent care and regular exercise, so I'm not worried about him.

Like I said on my Boulderneigh blog, Lance is feeling much better, which makes my heart sing. After getting his immune system calmed down with dexamethasone injections, we're maintaining him with twice-a-day oral prednisolone. Being able to breathe makes him much more biddable; imagine that!

We were enjoying some ballroom dancing in the arena last Thursday afternoon when the sky starting changing colors. We left the arena at a trot and headed up our lane to catch an unobstructed view of a glorious sunset.

Yesterday afternoon we caught a break in the rain again and ventured through the woods. We had gone out once before at dusk and ran into unusually wet conditions; I wanted to see what was going on with better light.

The woods are in sad shape. Besides much of the track turning into a shallow stream (it has been a very wet month), a lot of mature trees have fallen over. Ivy is overtaking many other trees, which will weaken and eventually topple as well.

Anyway and however.... When I tried to ride late this afternoon, Lance was incredibly sluggish, coughed quite a bit, and was breathing different than his back-to-normal respirations. Needless to say, I didn't torture him very long. I forgot to give him his meds last night; I suppose his heaves could be that barely controlled. :-/

Taken last week; today we got rained on.

Wait – who? Ha! This nice little Paint mare belongs to my new student. Today was the fourth Sunday in a row that her mom has hauled her in from their home an hour away for a lesson. She's entered in our ODS chapter's league show next Sunday; it will be both the student's and the horse's first dressage show. So I will be going to Bears Above the Ground – to coach and volunteer, just not to compete.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Because, horses

If you have horses long enough, you get plenty of experience in various ailments, injuries, and freak accidents. Because, horses. For all their beauty, athleticism, and power, they can be rather fragile beasts.

So, Lance's diagnosis is COPD, a new experience to add to my file. Soaking hay and steroid injections have been added to our daily regimen. Long-term, we will be looking at the best drug and delivery options to maintain his health. We have a horse-sized inhaler mask, courtesy of a client who finally put his horse down after at least 20 years of managing his heaves. I am so thankful to have an equine veterinarian as a husband! It will be interesting to see how treatment and improved air movement change my horse's attitude and work ethic....

Too cute! Note short door and platform (with ramp) to look out his window!

What a contrast to today's weather!
Yesterday I went over to ride Larry again. He's at a beautiful facility where he is loved, cared for, and lightly ridden by one of the owners, so even if I had unlimited time, he doesn't have unlimited availability. That's okay; I don't have unlimited time. Riding Larry once a week, twice at most, will probably fit into all schedules involved. It still gives me a very different dancing partner to adapt to and learn from, one bred for the dressage ballroom – with a much bigger trot!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Puzzle pieces

For a week I've waited impatiently for each new bit of diagnostic information, hoping to get some concrete explanation for Lance's muscle loss and hopefully his lack of energy. His fecal was clean; his large animal profile came back with every value smack dab in the middle of normal. Today the results of his blood test for Cushings disease came in; his ACTH level was borderline low/normal. Rick brought home Pergolide in treat form just in case that's Lance's problem, but before that....

I was anxious to ride after work today since I haven't had any saddle time yet this week. As always, we started out walking on a loose rein to warm up. After a few minutes I stopped Lance to take a photo, and realized his sides were heaving and his nostrils were flaring. I immediately called Rick to report the incident. He had me time Lance's respirations (20.5/minute – too fast); I also shot this video so Rick could see just how Lance was breathing.

This, my friends, is what "heaves" looks like.  :-(

When Rick got home two and a half hours later, Lance was still heaving, albeit less dramatically. A shot of atropine seemed to help, but he was back to heaving when we checked him a couple hours later so he's definitely experiencing bronchial spasms. So now the questions are: What is inducing his asthma? Is this the cause of or related to his muscle loss? Is this the cause of or related to his low ACTH level (due to increased cortisol levels)? Of course, I also wonder how long Lance has had this problem. I can remember a few obvious breathing incidents like today's, but didn't notice the milder manifestations. His lack of stamina has long given me pause, though . . . why is hindsight so much clearer?

Competing Lance at the end of this month looks like a no-go for sure now, even as I (IMPATIENTLY) wait for my vet to do and tell me more. Next up is probably a bronchial wash, and perhaps trying clenbuterol. I've always said my horse (whichever one I have at the time) gives my husband plenty of diagnostic and treatment challenges; sigh.

On a slightly brighter note, I'm going to ride Larry tomorrow. I'll try to remember to take some photos of him to show you. Sayonara.