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

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Just a little gas; it'll pass (hopefully!)

Last weekend we endured a heat wave, and this week we've been getting ready to go to Cowboy Campmeeting at the base of Mt. Adams, so I haven't been riding as much. I'm looking forward to enjoying the beautiful setting with my mental health mustang, family and friends; I know Lance won't be up to long or challenging rides, but there are easy trails, too. When we get back, his new inhaler mask and nebulizer should be waiting so we can start him on fluticasone to see if that improves his exercise intolerance. Thank goodness for Costco!
Rick had to get some additional parts to construct the hay steamer, so hopefully we can get that done when we get back, too.

When I went down to do morning chores today, Lance was lying down, not up and waiting for his "treat" (rice bran pellets make the medicine – Aller-Tec – go down quickly). I went into his stall and pet him; he still didn't get up. I decided to finish chores and keep an eye on him; when I left his stall he groaned and laid flat out in his stall. That sent me running flat out back to the house to get Rick; I've never seen Lance lay down like that, much less when he's usually up and nickering at me! Of course by the time we got back to the barn, Lance was up and eating breakfast. Rick said he had some gas; let's hope that's all it is (as we head into the wilderness for several days). =:-O

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

All kinds of progress

The other day I turned the horses out, then had to pause and admire my horse. He has put on weight and is actually looking hunky again!   ;-)
He looks a bit musty/dusty here, and downright moth-eaten in the right light. He has grown enough new hair that you can't really see where his sides were shaved, but he still has some old winter hair plus "dandruff." To be fair, he looks better after grooming, but Oliver is summer-sleek even without the application of a brush.
 It would help if Lance didn't do this:
Scratch, scratch; rub, rub.
See the hair piling up on the ground below him?
Look at it ON him!

That evening I groomed him thoroughly and we went for my favorite ride through the woods. The last time we rode this I told myself would BE the last; the weeds have been growing so fast and thick. This time truly WAS the last of the season, though.

Not only did the weeds almost make the "path" impassable, the bugs were ferocious – and they preferred horseflesh. :-/
The track comes out of the woods at the edge of this beautiful, secluded field. I would love to ride the whole perimeter, but I don't know who owns this land and don't want to trespass. Someday I'll find out and ask permission . . . if the track is ever cleared.

We are also taking steps to ameliorate the allergens to which the horses are exposed. I shopped online for hay steamers, and came across this website. Inspired, I gave Rick a materials list when he went to Lowe's Sunday to fix our pressure tank. He grumbled about it, but brought home everything but the wallpaper steamer, which wasn't available.
Today he took that tub back and came back with one that seals better and has wheels and a handle. It's also deeper; cool beans!
He and Brian also worked on fixing the leaks in the barn roof.

This evening when I headed out for a ride, Brian asked if he could go, too. Really?!? Usually it's me doing the asking, to no avail. It's been a long time since my boy and I have ridden together – probably a year ago at Cowboy Campmeeting! We didn't ride long; but the quality more than made up for quantity.

What a way to end the day!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A differential diagnosis

The test for the virus linked to Equine Multinodular Pulmonary Fibrosis came back negative (hurray!), so Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD) it is. Rick is studying up on it, since the differentiation between it and heaves is new to him. He's talking about emptying the barn and pressure-washing it and fixing the leaks in the roof in order to reduce the dust and mold spores that could be aggravating the condition (another hurray if he DOES it!). I am going to look into a hay steamer, although that's probably beyond our budget. Lance is still perky; hope is still perching.

Monday, June 12, 2017

That thing with feathers flutters in my soul

Oh, how GOOD hope feels! And when it comes to Lance's physical condition, I think I am hearing a faint, sweet tune.

It started Friday, when I noticed while grooming that there IS some new hair coming in, albeit short and sparse. It grew a little Saturday evening, when we went for a road ride and I sensed more perkiness in him than I've felt for awhile (bonus: sky show!).
It got louder on Sunday evening when he and Oliver were turned out, and he actually ran and bucked and PLAYED. (Then he slipped and crashed to his side; ouch.) He's also had a slightly swollen right hind fetlock/pastern; that went down completely for the first time during Sunday's turn-out.

Nothing has changed recently except reducing his daily predinisolone dose by half. If the improvements are the result of that, I'd love to wean him off completely. It might be that the antihistamine (he's getting 20 cetirizine – think Zyrtec – tablets twice a day) is taking care of his allergy symptoms and the steroid is no longer necessary; it's certainly not benign.

We did get some test results back; Lance does not have Cushings. His insulin level is a bit high, but that could be a result of the steroid. We're still waiting to hear from UC/Davis, but Rick got results back from the local lab on the cells from the lung wash. Lance's lung cells are 30% neutrophils, which points towards Equine Inflammatory Airway Disease. (Differentiation of heaves and IAD involves the types and numbers of white blood cells observed.) There can be a genetic component, which fits because Lance's dam has seasonal heaves/IAD.

All the play photos turned out blurry – and not ALL the grass is this tall!
In other news, I learned last Thursday evening that Julie is moving to South Carolina next fall. This makes me sad, as she is the only trainer I've taken lessons with for years now, and I've really appreciated her perspective and help. And in spite of Lance's current troubles, that thing with feathers perched in my soul looked forward to more lessons with her in the future. If Lance continues to improve, maybe we can squeeze some in later this summer before she leaves.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Sorry if this is getting old...

...but blogging about Lance's medical drama helps me keep track of what is happening when. It also gives me something to "do," when there's nothing I can really do....

Rick came home over the noon hour to do the lung wash so he could overnight all the samples (nasal swab and blood as well as fluid from the lung lavage) today. This time he used some lidocaine in the tube so Lance would be more comfortable and not cough so violently, and it worked.

While we waited for Rick to get everything ready, I gave Lance a good grooming. More hair came off my poor, balding horse....

I was hoping to ride today, but when I finished up some necessary chores it started raining, then Rick came home. After the procedure Rick thought it best to give Lance the day off, so we'll shoot for tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Serendipitous stylin'

The saga continues. Rick talked to the specialist at UC/Davis in charge of a clinical study on EMPF. Diagnosing the disease via lung biopsy isn't clearcut; if you happen to sample a healthy spot, the virus* won't show up. He told Rick to do another lung lavage using a LOT of fluid to get to the bottom of the lungs (where ultrasound showed the most compromise) and send the sample to him; he'll read it for us. If Lance does have EMPF, the drug in the clinical trial isn't necessarily the best option; steroids seem to work the best, which we're already administering (Really disappointing. Was hoping for a cure, not maintenance with potentially damaging drugs.) If Lance doesn't test positive for EMPF, there are other things that can cause his issues. The most likely is non-responsive COPD/heaves. Ruling out Cushings is important; we might know that by the end of this week. The lavage is supposed to happen later this evening.

*The researchers aren't sure if the fibrosis and the virus are the same thing, or if one causes the other, so even the disease process isn't well understood.
Evening sky shots at the turn-around spot of my favorite from-home ride
A deceptively peaceful scene.
In the meantime, Lance and I go on easy trail rides, I keep pouring the feed to him (that's working, at least), and he keeps losing hair. The other evening I was shopping online for a durable fly sheet to give him some protection; all I need is for him to get skin cancer on top of everything else. =:-O  I wasn't sure what size to order, so I held off until I could check the sizes of his other clothing the next morning. While digging around in the tack room, I found a new-in-package polypropylene fly sheep that I had apparently picked up on clearance sometime. Woot! It's a tad large, but it works and doesn't make him hot like his turnout sheet.

Incredibly, Oliver has also been having trouble. I've noticed occasional coughing; it sounded like he had something caught in his throat. Well, when Rick and Brian went to the barn Monday evening he was in obvious distress and breathing hard. Turned out to be broncho-spasms, as IV steroid didn't do much but a broncho-dilator did. The pollen count is high this year and Rick has a number of patients (and a wife) suffering from seasonal allergies; we'll keep an eye on Oliver, too.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hair loss is the least of my worries

Lance lost more hair today. Rick has been talking about ultrasounding Lance's lungs again, and this evening he did it, shaving more hair off to get a more extensive look. What he saw was markedly worse than six weeks ago. :-(
Darker skin is the original shaved area; suntanned?
Rick has exchanged texts with the veterinary internist, and will be talking to her tomorrow afternoon. Sounds like the next step is a lung biopsy. Praying we get to the bottom of whatever it is this time.