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

Sunday, September 24, 2017

One good week

Feeling fine on Friday

Yesterday afternoon we turned the horses out, bringing them in after dark when we got home from a dinner date (the teenager was gone for the weekend).

Lance has been breathing worse again ever since. I saddled up for a ride today, but all we did was a little work at the walk when it was clear he didn't feel good. Now I don't feel very good, either. Amazing how much the health of my horse affects my state of mind. :-/

Friday, September 22, 2017

Almost a new horse

Last night I saddled up at sundown, and was treated to the above views from our arena. It felt like the universe was celebrating the changing weather and Lance's improvement! After our warm-up walk we headed down the road; I relished the quiet, the coolness, the "give" in the gravel lane, and most of all, the fact that Lance was breathing easy and feeling better.

Rick tells me not to be in a hurry to cut back on either of Lance's meds; I will heed that because I don't want to set him back. I washed Lance's turnout sheet to remove all the old dust and potential allergens; wearing it will protect him some from mosquitoes and keep him cleaner so we can maximize our time together. I've confirmed that one of the two brands of bedding pellets we have on hand is 100% fir (I'm still waiting to hear from the other company). I catch myself looking to the future, thinking of taking occasional lessons and even entering a schooling show, but then remind myself to just enjoy the present. Amen.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hope peeks its head out

Sorry for breaking down; it's been an emotional year watching my horse struggle to move air and realizing he's probably had this issue to some extent for years. (The photo on my phone cover was taken in February 2016 at the last show we competed at; he had NO energy at that event – and that was more common that not.) Thanks to Kris and Terry for reaching out and offering suggestions that may help my mustang man; I've already taken actions to implement some of them, in addition to what I am already doing (spirulina pellets and freshly ground flaxmeal daily, along with the twice-daily oral prednisolone and antihistamine). The good news is that Lance is breathing much easier this week!

Last Sunday my local chapter of our state dressage organization held their annual picnic at Willamette Mission State Park. Some camped there; my friend Kate and her husband hauled in for a day ride, as did I (we ended up on the ferry at the same time with our rigs; I wish I'd gotten a photo of that!). It was chilly and drizzly so our group of seven faded to just the three of us. We had a lovely, long walk through the level park, and Lance did just fine.

Sunday evening Rick acted on a conversation we'd had last week. It occurred to me that our bedding pellets might be made of alder, one of Lance's "hot triggers." Rick checked both brands we have on hand, and neither state the content, but alder is a commonly milled softwood around here so it's definitely possible. I had picked up a couple bags of pine pellets to try, but hadn't stripped Lance's stall yet. Bless his heart, my husband cleaned out both stalls, pressure-washed stalls, walls, and ceiling to knock down all the dust, then put the pine pellets in Ollie's stall and used some fir micro-shavings he had purchased for the blueberries in Lance's stall. It hasn't been this clean since we built the paddocks and extended the roof!

I didn't take note of Lance's breathing until yesterday when I went down to ride, after publishing my post. It was calm! We schooled in our sand arena (nicely watered by a couple days of wonderful rain) and although we didn't work long or hard and took lots of walking breaks on a long rein, his breathing remained slow and easy. This morning it was the same, even though his breathing has been at its worst in the mornings before this.

Could it be the flaxmeal and spirulina? Possibly. Is it the change of weather and cleaner air? I doubt it; we realized he was heaving badly last January, in the middle of our rainy season. I'm ready to bet the farm that we've been aggravating his IAD with alder bedding and want sell all that we have on hand to buy pine pellets, but Rick is more cautious. So we'll probably test my theory when Lance's stall needs to be stripped again, using what we have on hand and watching carefully for a reaction. If Lance's breathing deteriorates, hallelujah; we will have identified an easily remedied environmental issue and can maybe ease him off the steroid and antihistamine for much of the year. Stayed tuned!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Pardon my absence!

Sunday I came face-to-face with a friend who follows my blog. She said, "I've been checking every day for 17 days now to read the results of Lance's allergy testing that you promised back on August 31!" I know, I know; I've been a ba-a-a-a-ad blogger. If you follow my other blog, you know that time and energy have been in short supply; in the case of this blog, I've lacked motivation, too. Oh, there is much to report on, but when you are dealing with a chronic condition like Lance's you never get to announce a recovery or cure.  :-/

About the allergy testing. On the last Friday of August the dermatologist and his resident came out to do a skin test on Lance. Rick was running late so they weren't sure how to proceed, since they often tranquilize their patients and Rick was going to do that. But I told them I thought the test would be a non-issue; Lance has always been a great patient and needles aren't a problem. Sure enough, he stood like a rock for getting shaved, marked, and finally, "pin-pricked" (Rick showed up once the test was underway).

The results were pretty clear – and heartbreaking. Out of 61 sampled allergens, Lance has several "hot triggers": nettle, mosquitoes, household dust (not to be confused with "dirt dust," they said), alder, maple, walnut, and black ants. Only one of ten different mold spores got a reaction, which was a pleasant surprise since molds are a common trigger and they run rampant here three seasons out of four. But nettles, alder, maple, and walnut grow all around us, and their pollens aren't just around when they bloom because those pollens become part of the dust/dirt. I don't see black ants around here, but we do have some mosquitoes.

What to do? Allergy shots for that many triggers would be prohibitively expensive and would have to be redone at regular intervals. Moving him to an environment devoid of most if not all his triggers would be ideal, but where would that be and who could I trust with my big red goober? One name came to mind: Anna Blake. The photos on her blog don't show our lush green growth, and from blog posts, emails, and meeting in person, I knew I could trust her with Lance . . . if my heart could let go of him. Shipping Lance to eastern Colorado – and shipping him back to OR if CO didn't help him – would be expensive. But it might give him the opportunity to live a long, loved, useful life without daily drugs. Anna and I have exchanged emails, and for now have left it hanging because I'm not really sure my heart would go on....

Sorry; I was going to update you to the present day, but am having trouble seeing my computer screen at the moment. More later.