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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Monday, March 22, 2010

When there's nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.

Or so it feels like.

There's not too much I've had to say lately. What was a snowballingly good week ended with a crash a few days ago, as you know, and everything has been pretty crappy since then. Even the weather has tanked, and our beautiful sunny 70-degree weather has turned to a chilly, misty rain. My clients are all increasingly moody with the foul weather, the horses all seem to be popping up with huge and mysterious lamenesses/illnesses, and a dear friend of mine who is part of my little extended family at my old job is in the hospital and not doing well at all. I can't seem to get my head on straight this week either. I've been having a lot of fun with my new honey, that's for sure, but when she's not around there's not too much to be smiling about. Part of the reason I'm good at my job is that I have absolutely no ability to deal with unhappy clients, so I break my back every day to make sure every last need of theirs is met and then some. For the most part, I have exceptionally happy and complimentary clients, but I'm not Superwoman and I can't make everyone happy, and miscommunications do happen sometimes. Mentally I'm not good with dealing with that kind of stuff. I have a bunch of mystery lamenesses in the barn right now, none of which make sense or have an explanation, which is the main reason for everyone being so funked out and moody, myself included. I'm not a hero and I can't fix everything, and that kills me.

And Gogo. Honestly, at this point all I can do is fall back into a chair and stare at the situation blankly. It makes absolutely no sense at all and I don't know what it is. Last week, she was being exceptional. It really felt like we were getting somewhere. I was pushing her just a little bit harder, very midly increasing what I was asking of her, and on Sunday and Monday of last week had two of the best dressage rides I've ever had with her. Honestly, on Tuesday I felt mere movements away from Second Level. Quite clearly we couldn't do too much, and I know I sure as hell felt my abs the next day so I'm sure she did too, but she honestly offered up all on her own a new level of collection which she's never given me before, all on her own. She was light, responsive, and electric in a way I've never felt before. I felt like I could have asked anything of her and she would have done it, no matter what it was. It really did feel like Second Level was right there in our grasp, just a matter of strength and some more time before we really could do it. I got off feeling like I was on top of the world, ready to take on anything. It was amazing.

Tuesday, I hacked her up the road, up to 45 minutes of walking with a few minutes of trot on the flat parts. She, however, did not feel quite as even or good as she had been, so I ceased trotting and thought about it for a minute. I trotted again. There, just a little. Was I imagining it? I wasn't sure. Which leg? Couldn't tell. Was she tired from the day before, was it me? I sure as hell was achey. I stopped again, walked back to the barn, stripped her tack and had someone jog her for me. Nope, she looked just fine, beautifully sound, better than she's ever looked. I felt a little funny about it, but turned her out and let her do her thing. The legs were quiet and cool all day, and I wrapped them that evening, just in case.

Wednesday was my day off, but I just so happened to be at the barn anyway because as a barn manager, I never actually ever seem to have a day without calls, texts, e-mails and the like. We had another broken horse, so I was tending to him when the farrier showed up. I just so happened to ask him to help me work on Gogo's feet when I was done with the big red horse, so we pulled her out and started in. Every since the stifle injection, Gogo has been standing with her RH turned out just a hair when she's on crossties. I've not mentioned that before on the blog because honestly I didn't know what to think about it, and none of the vets seemed that concerned. I've not been convinced and have kept a wary eye on it, but so far it has been nothing. What the vets thought was that it was likely a strength issue that would correct itself with time and conditioning. I mentioned this to the farrier and we scoured her over, discussing what it might be, if anything. When we worked on her LH, she hopped around a little, as if she wasn't quite comfortable on her RH. That did not make me happy. I chose not to ride her that day, and instead turned her out and watched her cruise around the little paddock with a very attractive, albeit shortlived, sound-looking trot.

And then came Thursday. Wanting to see if I could replicate a little bit of the brilliance I had on Tuesday, I went out to ride with a purpose. She felt fabulous so I figured that on Tuesday she must have been just a little bit muscle tired, which was understandable. She moved off into her work well, with a little bit of fuss but not much, and gave me some fantastic work. And then I asked her to canter, going right. She immediately flung her head into the air, legs in all directions on all different leads, bolting off on the circle around the short end of the ring. I managed to bring her back to a walk, wondering what the heck that was all about, and asked her to trot. BAM! Three-legged, toe-dragging lame. Exactly the same as last time. And similar to the second incident as well. To have her do it a third time, in the same situation as always? There has to be more going on. This isn't right. The lameness has resolved itself again, and the legs have stayed cool and quiet. Which is leading me back up higher... way higher. That's right, that stupid stifle. We may have found inflammation via the bone scan and we may have injected the joint, but that does not seem to have done anything for her. If this were a ligament injury, I would have expected improvement with the rest. I would have expected improvement with the increase in hillwork and strength work we've done. I would not expect a grand crashing down of all our hard work every time we try to start cantering again.

I did have a reader mention locking stifles to me once, which is a possibility. I find it odd that it would only occur on one side? Honestly though, I'm out of ideas otherwise. She's going back up to Tufts as soon as I can get her there. I don't know when that is going to be. For now, she's just getting muddy and delightfully disgusting in our smallest turnout. I would love her to go in the bigger ones, but I can't chance it until I know what is going on. She is still treadmilling too on the lowest setting, since she is sound at the walk. I've also just been hopping on her bareback and walking around a little, just for fun. I'm trying to stay positive about all this.

Which is not easy.

But I am trying. That is for sure.

I've gotten a bunch of e-mails from you guys, I'm sorry I haven't written back yet. I will, I promise. Just give it a little more time.


Albigears said...

Well, hell.

The ocean pic is super cute though.

Austen said...

Oh Andrea! That is so hard, and I hope you are okay. Hopefully Tufts will be able to diagnose an answer and all the worry and questioning can have a focus for you!

At least Gogo is still enjoying herself. I always thought my horses were always happy proportionate to the amount of mud on them :)

Golden the Pony Girl said...

Still hard luck for you guys. Could she need another hock injection? I know one of the jumpers at our barn needed two rounds of injections before he was going 100% again. I hope you find answers and soon.

On a happier note I like your photo. You guys look really cute together and it is good you can still have happy care free moments together.

Kate said...

I have a mare who has occasional locking stifles - they're painful when it happens, and then her stifle is sore afterwards. In her case, it's partly conformational - her stifles turn out a bit, as do her hind toes - and partly a muscular support issue. In her case, it's remedied by lots of slow building up work. That said, I no longer ask her to jump as it's clear that that degree of engagement behind can cause her pain. The sudden lameness you describe could definitely be stifle - although yours sounds like it could be cartilage or arthritic. Good luck in figuring it out.

Amy B said...

There used to be a mare where I worked that would lock up from time to time, always in the LH, never the right. She would always be sore after it happened (understandably). It stopped happening after we got her really fit. She's now at the barn I ride at, and after having some time off after summer, she started locking up again. Back in work and fit, the problem is gone. Not sure if that could be Gogo's problem... this mare never had it happen under saddle, only after being in her stall.
Good luck to you and Gogo! I'm sure things will sort themselves out and you two will be back to having marvelous adventures in no time!

Funder said...


LiveToFly said...

My gelding has an occasional locking stifle. It's not at all uncommon for it to happen only on one side. My gelding only ever locks on the left. Once the ligament locks once and is stretched, it's very common for it to lock again until it can be strengthened again.

Hopefully you an get a better diagnosis at Tufts. Good luck!

smazourek said...

Stars! That sucks. Hopefully you'll find an answer at Tufts.

thenamesmarry said...

I agree, it could be a locking stifle issue. When I first got my gelding, he was pretty out of shape. After a month or more of light work, I was warming him up for a lesson. 10 minutes into the warmup, he was all of the sudden dead lame on one hind leg. Shortly after, we started work on strengthening and it never happened again, but I know that locking stifles just need the exercise and strength to fix themselves. Backing up, hill work, and making them pick up their feet (trot poles) are all exercises that help to eliminate the issue. I hope it's as simple as that, for both yours and Gogo's sake. Keep on with the positive attitude :)

Katherine Erickson said...

First off, I love that song, and have been humming it to myself a lot lately given how my spring has been going. More importantly, though, good luck on Gogo's upcoming Tufts visit. It's so hard when it seems like all you're doing is trying to do right by the horse, and things keep going wrong anyway, but you are doing everything you can and should be proud of that. You two will get through this.