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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

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

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Moving Right Along

Daily life goes on with my temporarily retired horse. Much like I expected, it's not particularly interesting or exciting, and we don't do much of anything really. Every morning Gogo eats, goes out, grazes all day, and comes back in to her stall at 4pm. She eats hay at 8, 12, 2, 4, and 8pm. She looks a bit rounder than she did before she got here. She likes to be dusty but I tackle the red dirt every other day or so, despite the fact that it's a bit futile. I still enjoy it quite a lot.
This all being said, I don't honestly consider my horse to be retired and totally finished. Truth me told, I feel like a year in a field will do her wonders, and am considering this a year of rehab instead of just a total giving up on her and tossing her out to be a horse for the rest of forever. I really do think she'll come back and do something special and worthwhile. Really and truly, I do.
This opinion is shared by my boss and by her trainer. The trainer, M, is very well-respected around here and has coached Olympic riders year after year. She's seen about every injury you could possibly see. We pulled Gogo out the other day when she came to teach and ride at the barn, and jogged her out. I was doing the running, so I couldn't see really, but she said that she trotted off a bit lame but trotted back really quite well. At two months out from the reinjury, that sounds about right on, exactly the way it was the time before. This is encouraging though, because it means on turnout that she appears to be getting better instead of worse! M's take on this is that despite following the vet's advice to a T before, we did not give her enough time, which at this point I agree with. Her very Irish opinion of this is that for an injury like Gogo's, in order for there to be any chance at all you have to turn them out for a year and THEN start to get back on and tackwalk until you want to kill yourself, then trot until you want to kill yourself, and then canter until you want to kill yourself, and THEN you are good to go. This means not starting official rehab under saddle until the injury is officially 'healed'. This does make sense, certainly, but it's pretty opposite of the rehab we were doing before. In order to create proper healing, we used the under saddle controlled exercise to align the tendon fibers the right way and stimulate proper healing. Two different schools of thought, two different mindsets. I agree with M at this point because clearly, whatever we did before didn't work for some reason. Not giving her enough time before is now the painfully clear answer as to why this really didn't work the way it should have. At least, it's what I am willing to cling to as a potential answer at this point. I have hope that if I just give her time, time and more time.... that maybe she really will totally heal.
To give myself a severe timeframe that I will absolutely not budge from - one year off in turnout before I even THINK about reevaluating for a riding career - makes me honestly feel pretty good. There is no more uncertainty and brooding about what may or may not be best in terms of rehab. There is only one answer: DON'T change my plan and DO stick to my guns. One year off, and then we will reevaluate. That is that. And somehow, this feels like it is the right thing to do. It will be her best shot. And I really feel good about it.

I also know I said that I'm not going to do any goals, but honestly.... I kind of want to do some! Just some stupid ones like play all the Parelli games without majikal sticks and $150 rope halters, and whatever else I feel like doing. That will for sure keep the best of us pretty entertained for about 2 days! I also might have a horse to ride... yay! It's not Trout, who is apparently very unsound, but it's another very nice gelding (so I hear). His name is Murphy, and he's a black Morgan/TB/Irish cross. (Which may mean he's bats but... there you are!) I know Kippen and I have a half-serious bet going for getting new horses but honestly, the only horse I want to own right now is either Gogo, Gogo's baby, or Gogo's total twin clone. I don't want another horse if it's not one of those three options. Having something to ride will satisfy me quite enough for the time being, especially since I am just not ready to totally write Gogo off at this point. She really is my total dreamhorse, flaws and all. I wish I could just do a leg transplant on her. Wouldn't that be nice?

My landlord and I chatted briefly on the phone today about solidifying plans for bringing Gogo over to the 15 acre field sometime soon - as soon as he moves the roundbales out and fixes the small bit of fence that needs some work. Hopefully we'll be good to go on that pretty soon, maybe even within the week!

I might also have a new man in my life.... a training project of a different sort ;) More details soon!


Alighieri said...

Good call on the time! I think I know who the trainer is, and she's got some very nice riders in the area. I think she's totally right, and I know that I wouldn't give up either. A year of turnout would definitely be my last resort too.

Cute puppy!

Funder said...

If Parelli doesn't turn out to float your boat, try clicker training! It's definitely something fun to do without riding.

Denali's Mom said...

I'm not thinking of doing anything exciting with Denali until next January.

The Giant Warmblood Barn I work at has sent 2 horses who were deemed, "broken" to pasture for a year, and one of them (one I use to work with) is already sound after 5 months.

It's amazing what being a horse does for the horse!

Remind Gogo that 2011 is the year of the sound horse!!

Deered said...

The work them to get teh fibres right" is taken from Human treatment - the problem is that humans understand that they can only do so much, that they can't overdo things and that leaping around because you're bored just screws everything up. TBH, I've not heard of any horses that have come back quickly, without re injury on the "human" approach. They may get a bit of scar tissue, it may take longer, but I've seen a good few sound horses after turnout treatment.

Anonymous said...

Take M's advice! Really in turn out she will be aligning the fibers as well. The regenerate more in the direction they are bing strained so wandering around in the feild would be enough. It's standing in a stall/small space too long that is truely detrimental. Even then there will be scar tissue. No tendon injury heals without it. Slow and steady always wins the race. Joker Poker is headed towards retirement with his hocks. In the future we should find them next door paddocks at the same retirement farm.

Val said...

Definitely do not give up on Gogo!

I agree with Darcy's comment about stall time. After initial rest, the tendon must heal while in motion, in a way, in order to come back strong and flexible.

Barbara said...

I am a firm believer that turnout is the very best medicine for a horse.
My jumper came off the track with a bowed tendon, spend a year on pasture in the mountains and never had a problem with that tendon. When he damaged a different tendon years later, after 4 frustrating months of stall rest I turned him out for a full year on pasture, for 6 months I thought I had a permanent pasture pet, after a year he went back to work and had no problems ever with that injury either.

Abby said...

Wait, which horse was Trout?

Gina said...

I am very excited for all the positive things you haver said in this post. I will be having the vet out to ultrasound my boy on Thurs to see if in addition to the flair up on his old hock injury, he has also managed to tear some tendon or ligament in the right front. He is beautifully tight and cold in that leg right now (this was not the case 3 days ago). I completely understand your feelings about Go Go. When asked by my BF if I was going to start riding for my trainer again I honestly had to answer, prob. not. I want to ride MY horse.

I wish Go Go all the best and have absolute confidence that a year in turn out will be the best thing you have ever done for her.

Alanna said...

I agree that this turnout may be your ticket. I wouldn't give up yet either!

manymisadventures said...

I'm really glad to hear you sounding so happy and confident about your plan! I know you spent a LOT of emotional energy dealing with her treatment before, so it sounds like it'll be really nice to just know what you are going to do and not question it.

PS, that is one HANDSOME dog. Can't wait to hear about him.

Anonymous said...

Lurker chiming in here...

I agree with the turnout. We have an OTTB mare, "Toast" who was kicked really badly in the pasture. She was kicked in the hock, probably directly on the point of it. It was split open and hugely swollen. She could not bear much weight and didn't want to move.

After evaluating her condition, discussing it with a vet (our vets are 3 hours away, we are THAT remote) and thinking about our goals for her, we decided to give her antibiotics for the cut, medication for the pain. She was standing next to the round bale and eating so I carried water to her several times a day and made sure she was doing OK.

Stall rest wasn't really an option for her at that time. After a few days/week she'd start ambling about but was VERY lame. Eventually her hind end muscles on that side atrophied from lack of use but she was happy, eating, and able to move around.

A year later, we had the vet look at her when she was up on one of her visits. The horse was actually sound at this point but was really weak behind. The vet suggested DMSO and lunging to just see if we could get her sounder. Pretty rudimentary but I tried it. Twice.

Several months later the mare is now sound and w/t/c and jumps little jumps. She gets sounder the more she's worked. We don't do much with her (she's my husband's horse) but she's definitely sound, muscled and happy. You can hardly tell which hock it was by looking at her any more, and sh'es not weak behind in the slightest, even after a long trail ride after a few months off.

Tincture of time can really work wonders for injuries that actually will heal. I'll never again hesitiate to just pull shoes, pet them on the head and give them 24 hour turnout with a run in shed to get out of elements and bugs.

So I think that turnout for GoGo is exactly the right track. Exactly.

I've even see horses with nearly CATSTROPHIC injuries recover to be pasture sound and live to ripe old ages by turnout. One of my best horses' mother's was one. She was pretty darn crippled in 2/4 legs but she is old, happy and able to get around "soundly" (haha) in the pasture.

Good luck with your lovely mare!!!

heater a. said...

What a great plan! Hopefully everything will work out this time around. Of course you couldn't give up on Gogo, even if she was retired!

It would be totally awesome if you would share the dog training adventures too (he is gorgeous!). I know it's not in the spirit of the blog, but hey, it's training! I have always wondered how you got Ty to behave off leash. Does she go to work with you? Most people say greys can never, ever go off leash because you know... they're hounds and they'll chase something and run away forever. Obviously that is not always the case. :)

I just adopted a 3rd dog, and I have high hopes that I will finally have a dog that can come to the barn with me. My two older dogs didn't cut it. One is mortified of horses, and the other wants to chase them. The new puppy, however, has promise. I think she's a jack russell or feist mix or something, so I have my work cut out for me. I've never dabbled in off leash work, so any advice you have would be awesome!

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Turnout does WONDERS! We are proof of that. The first month of Laz going from stall bound to 24/7 turnout was so so so scary for me but for him-heaven and we haven't looked back since.
Too bad on that name but looking forward to Murphy and what law he comes with ;)
Also..if there are leg transplants, we are going to have to fight for it. :)

Kerrin Koetsier said...

Sounds as if things are falling into place :)

I was going to suggest you try the Parelli Games with Gogo... the excellent thing about Parelli is that the exercises are also mind-games, which can keep a horse that's physically limited still interested! One of our ponies pulled a check ligament, and in the year that he's been off he's learnt all sorts of tricks! His favourite is carrying things around with his mouth!

Let me know how it goes!

Kerrin Koetsier
Parelli Central

Kerrin Koetsier said...

We'd like to send you some Parelli DVD material. Email me at to sort mailing details.

Kerrin Koetsier

Parelli Central