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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Thick and thin

Lance and I had a date with friends at Perrydale Trails yesterday morning! It was cool and cloudy – perfect for riding, especially on a compromised mount. Not that anyone could tell Lance was compromised, because he got all amped up over a horse being free-lunged in the round pen at the beginning of our ride, and moved out nicely the rest of the time. Well, they could tell if they looked and listened; more on that at the end. But first, the FUN!
Fun new trails have been added through the Christmas trees

There were five in our group: Kathy (her daughter Ashleigh took dressage lessons from me last winter; too busy studying to come) in Western tack on retired roping quarter horse Safari; red-headed Kate on her Welsh Cob/Trakehner mare Dinah; Kate's blond daughter on her blond quarter horse mare Amber; blogpal Alanna on her wonderkid Welsh Cob filly Emi, and me in a red coat on my big orange goober. ;-) Perrydale Trails owner Rebecca also popped up occasionally on her Paint; she takes photos of every visitor to email to them. The last time Kate and I were at Perrydale Trails with Alanna, Emi wasn't under saddle yet so they did the whole thing in-hand. Now look at her!

Kate and Keauri didn't do as many obstacles so I am short on photos of them (we did eat lunch together afterwards, though). Alanna, Kathy and I played more. ;-)

Kathy with a rose backdrop

A side note: The wild roses are amazing this year! I've never seen them so big, intense or numerous!
Rebecca getting a photo of Emi's amazing tail; it truly is an entity of its own. ;-)
We now go from Emi's impossibly lush tail to Lance's startlingly thin coat. I knew he was losing hair, but since I groom and tack up in the stall at home where aging eyes don't see as well, I didn't realize how much. Yesterday it was clear where he is shedding out his winter coat first (head, throat, neck, shoulders) that his summer coat is practically nonexistent. And he's still not growing any hair to speak of where Rick shaved his sides to ultrasound his lungs.

Zoom in and you can see how patchy his head looks
He also coughed sporadically from the git-go, even though I gave him albuterol before mounting up. And by the end of our ride, when the albuterol had well and truly worn off, he was coughing and coughing and coughing, poor guy. As soon as we got back to the trailer, I gave him some more albuterol and housed off his sweaty hide, which seemed to help him feel better.

But we had a GREAT time in spite of that. He was such a good boy on all the trails and obstacles and I enjoyed my time with him and friends immensely. When I get the photos Rebecca took, I'll share those as well. If you're within hauling distance, I highly recommend Perrydale Trails!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Another update

Lance's weight is holding now with the addition of oil and fresh pasture to his diet, but his allergies and their effects on his breathing and attitude seem worse if anything.

On Sunday we took a saunter through the woods while it is still passable. (Some areas are crowding in on both sides with an unsavory mix of poison oak, stinging nettles, burdock, thistles, tansy ragwort, Himalayan blackberry, and horsetail.) The last stretch when homeward bound is all uphill; Lance stopped five times to huff and puff even though we didn't ride long, far, or fast. As far as I'm concerned, that means trail rides in the mountains during horse-camping trips is out of the question.

I have also noticed a strange phenomenon in recent weeks. Lance has always been a "stingy sweater;" I used to think he had anhidrosis or hypohidrosis. Now I often find him sweating just standing in his stall or out grazing when it is warm (even though Oliver isn't) – and there is always more sweat on his left side. I took some photos one day to show Rick; you might have to click to biggify the full body shots to see the difference.

When we come back from a ride, the sweat seems bilateral; it's only the "resting sweat" that's uneven.

He is itchy and rubbing out his mane which is usual for this time of year. Yesterday morning with puffy bags under listless eyes, he looked a picture of hay fever misery, poor guy. Then last night when I went down to do chores, I was startled by puffy bulges where divots above the eye sockets usually are. Again I snapped photos to show Rick, with a shot of Oliver's face shown first for comparison:

Rick thinks it is probably inflammation due to allergies, but could be a side effect of the steroids or a symptom of Cushings disease. (Interestingly, Cushings was one of Rick's suspicions when we noticed in January how much weight Lance had lost, but the specialist thought heaves was much more likely so we never tested him.)

Beating heart? Check.
Today Rick took time to do some follow-up. After checking Lance's heart, he listened to Lance's lungs and airways at rest and stressed. Then he scoped the back of Lance's throat to see if any structural or neurologic problems were evident. Next came an external neurologic exam, followed by a blood draw. His conclusion is that Lance appears pretty normal clinically. There's the uneven sweating and swelling above the eyes, but no sign of neurologic problems and fairly minor lung issues. He's going to send the blood in to test for Cushings, and is cutting the amount of prednisone I'm administering each day. Now we wait on test results.

I really appreciate my DH's time and expertise; I feel much better now about continuing the bit of work we do in the arena as well as short trail rides. I will continue to give him inhaled albuterol before each ride, as it seems to open up his airways and reduce coughing for awhile.
He is mastering the straddled-pole walk!

Monday, May 8, 2017

My pokey little pony

Right after my last post (you know; when it wasn't raining yet?), I did indeed go down to ride Lance. We got wet. :-/

Lance and I keep putting one foot in front of the other. Nothing we've done has made a noticeable difference in his breathing or energy level (not even fresh green grass!),

so I still feel like I'm taxing my mount with any amount of movement I ask for. The only reason I keep asking is the belief that no exercise is worse for him than some exercise.

Today we went for a trail ride. The weather was perfect, the woods were peaceful, the wildflowers were beautiful – and I even captured a barred owl being harrassed by songbirds!