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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Few Days of Hell

Well, I can very hesitantly and tentatively tell you that I think Gogo's vaccine reaction/colic/whatever is finally under control. I've had a very horrible past two days, and I am utterly mentally and physically spent. But she's okay, and that's all that matters.

Sunday afternoon, I stuck Gogo with her 5-in-1, a vaccine that I've given often Gogo with no additional NSAIDs needed. She's never had a problem before, never even gotten so much as a sore neck, so I gave it without thinking about it and went on my merry way. However, at night check, Shannon went out and came back in after a few minutes time, saying that Gogo was down and flat out on her side, and was very slow to get up. By the time I got out there to investigate, however, she was up, bright-eyed, and nickering for food, so I gave her a flake of hay and she set herself to munching. She seemed fine, so I figured she had been sleeping and was caught off-guard, which is why it took her a minute to get up. (Not exactly prey behavior, but it's Gogo, so there you are.) I checked on her several more times that night, the last time being at 11:30pm, and she was still placidly munching on her hay. Feeling satisfied, I went to bed.

However, that next morning, I went to check on her before I started feeding everyone (she is the last stall in the aisle), and she was down and flat out again, her stall a total mess. Hmmmm, I thought. That's not so good. I got her up, pulled her out of her stall, and took her TPR. Everything was totally normal: heart rate was 30bpm, respiratory rate 13bpm, temp 99.0F. I gave her 5cc banamine IV, walked her for a few minutes, cleaned her stall, and put her back. She seemed interested in food, so I offered her a handful of hay to see what she would do, and she gobbled it down. Within 15 minutes, however, she was back down, flat out, and she got up and laid back down on the other side flat out again within a few minutes. She wasn't rolling or thrashing or otherwise trying to damage herself, so I monitored her until she got up and started looking around for hay again. I let her have a few nibbles of hay here and there, and she went down again at around 11:30 or so, but was munching hay while she was down. She got up again, seemed bright-eyed and bushy tailed, and she stayed that way for the rest of the day. At 4:30pm, AKA dinnertime, I let her have a little bit of grain with everyone else, seeing as she seemed completely fine and her TPR was still normal. I thought maybe she was just worn out from the vaccine and just felt crappy. However, at around 5, she was down again, moaning and looking miserable. Fantastic. 5cc of banamine again, a walk, and a recheck of her TPR (noting that her HR was now 20.... which I thought was a fluke), and she went back into her stall acting totally fine. So I got a book, blankets, some food, and a lounger from the porch, and set up an all-night vigil outside her stall. I dozed a little, read a lot, and kept an eye on her all night long. She was great and munching some hay for awhile, her gut sounds gurgling happily away (I should also mention that she was pooping tons and drinking heartily as well the entire day), and at 1am I went back in the house to my bed to get 2 hours of sleep. At 3, of course, when I went to check on her again, she was down flat out and moaning. This time, I broke out the big guns and gave her 10cc banamine, and monitored her until 4:30am, then retired again until 6am when we started work. Of course, at 6am she was down again.

Now, I was getting really concerned. This had been going on for long enough to warrant real worry, and the fact that 10cc of banamine should be making her feel pretty awesome if this was in fact a mild colic. I took her out of her stall, and her TPR was again totally normal (HR was now up to 33.... which is totally normal, but apparently elevated for Freak Heart here). When I went to walk her in the indoor, the first thing she did was pitch herself on the ground and start rolling. With some goading, I got her up and we kept walking, after which she perked up and started asking for food. Shortly thereafter, I called Salmon Brook to have them send someone out, but of course it was someone I was unfamiliar with and hadn't heard that many great things about. When he showed up at 9, right off the bat I just didn't like him. He was plenty nice, to be sure, but he wasn't thorough and he gave me zero answers. He did a rectal and found nothing, and tubed her and also found nothing except for totally normal amounts of gas, but he did nothing else except take her TPR (HR back down to 20... ridiculous!!). As she was still bright eyed and acting totally fine at that point, all he could tell me is that she was fine and there was nothing wrong with her. Thanks vet, that's a bunch of emergency call money I really needed for other things! And of course, at 11:30 again, guess what happened? Yep, down and flat out again, moaning and groaning like the world was ending. I took her outside to wander for a few, and she went down again, half on the grass and half on the pavement. WEIRD. She was trying to roll a bit at this point, but I kept her still and she laid there pathetically, looking up at me like, "yeah I really just don't feel so good right now." But her TPR was still NORMAL! You'd think if she was hurting at least her HR would go up... nope. Still normal, still pooping/eating/drinking, still had her guts gurgling away normally. WTF? Back in her stall and she was just fine again for the next several hours. Shannon and I decided at dinner that we were going to mash up some plain ol' timothey/alfalfa haycubes for her, thinking maybe some alfalfa would help that belly (but I dunno, does calcium get destroyed in the, uh, cubing process?), and that it would be a nice mild way to get more water into her. Nope, 5pm rolled around again and bam, back on the ground and rolling, groaning again like she was dying. Mostly, she laid flat out and still, but was down for about a half-hour total (got up once and laid back down again). I had already called Dr. W again to tell him, but he had no answers, so I called Dr. C and bugged her for awhile about it. We racked out brains for awhile while she laid there quietly, and could come up with no real answers. She even went so far as to have me thoroughly check and see if she was foundering from the vaccine, but we abandoned that idea after doing some testing to see if she was footsore (nope, per usual she still has the iron feet). I went out and bought bags of ice just in case, but thankfully didn't need them. She thought maybe she was ulcery, but it corresponded too oddly to the vaccine, and was too violent of a reaction to me to seem like sudden ulcers that came out of nowhere. At this point, I was considering taking her in to Tufts for the night, but Dr. C and I decided upon 10cc of banamine and 3cc of Ace to keep her quiet, and to continue to monitor her while her vitals were still all normal. If one thing changed, she was going in to the hospital.

But nothing changed. She went back in her stall after we walked her out on pavement to see how comfortable her feet were (they were fine), and I loaded her up with said drugs and put her back. She was lurpy but still comfortable and able to nibble hay, so I set up shop again outside her stall, this time staying the entire night instead of making a sad attempt at sleep. After that incident at 5, she was fine. She napped lightly at 1:30, and then again at 3, but it was a normal, sternal sort of nap with no distress about it. She pooped ever half hour on the half hour (how's that for timing), drank plenty, peed, played with her Pony Pop, ate more hay, and hung out comfortably. She was still up and hungry at 6am, the first time in two days that she's been up and comfortable at that time.

And she's been great ever since. She looked plenty tired to me - and I was too, so I can't blame her - but she's been fine. No food other than hay for the moment, and for the next couple of days I expect, but when I checked her at 9 she was up and dozing lightly. Shannon is gonna check her at midnight, and I will look again at 3am, but I think she may be out of the woods for the time being. You never know, but she's been comfortable now for 30 hours, so hopefully her night checks tonight will be routine and fine.

Phew. Keep your fingers crossed though. Since we had no idea what it was exactly and there were no changes in ANYTHING except her behavior, it could pop up again at any time. I can only conclude she just felt like crap from her vaccine on Sunday. I'll tell you what, that's the last time I give a combo vaccine like that.

Boy we just can't catch a break can we?

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Neverending Hard-Knock

It just gets more and more out of control doesn't it? When it rains it pours!

Gogo got her Fluvac Innovator 5 yesterday, a combo of vaccines made up of flu/rhino/eee/wee/tetanus, which is definitely a huge cocktail, but one that I've given her several times before with absolutely no problem. However, this time, there WAS a problem, and I am NOT giving this combo ever again. She keeps lying down, flat out, immobile as if too miserable to even stand or lie sternal. All her vital signs are normal, and have been all day. She's eating fine, drinking fine, pooping fine, gut sounds are great too, so if this is a colic it's NOT presenting like one. I don't know exactly what's going on, but with banamine we have it temporarily curbed. She's all right at the moment, comfortable with 5ccs of banamine on board, and munching some hay, but I'm camped out outside her stall and will probably remain there for most of the night. She was weird last night, but seemed fine after we got her up and gave her some hay (thought maybe she was just sleeping and it took a second to wake up?), and at the last check I did at 11:30pm she was fine still, but I found her down flat out again at 6am, and she's been alternating between hungry and totally bright eyed to totally flat-out and immobile all day long. She was also lying down eating at 11am. Weird.

Dunno what's going on. Everything seems normal otherwise, so it's possible the vaccine just made her feel like CRAP. Back out to the barn now, just wanted to give you guys a heads up and to ask the gods of horse health to just PLEASE CUT US A BREAK ALREADY!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Vet Update: Some good news, some bad.

Early this morning, I shuttled Gogo up to Salmon Brook Veterinary for her two-week recheck. She got a bath yesterday in preparation - can't go to the vet looking all shifty - but I must say I think it was in vain because the other horse up at the hospital was the oldest, hairiest, muddiest thing ever so I could have brought Gogo with her poopstained butt and all and it wouldn't have mattered. But I felt better knowing she was clean. As always, she was a perfect lady about everything, walking through the people door into the little one-stall clinic that smelled all scary and vet-y like she had been there all her life. She is, however, in flaming heat once again, so she bellowed like a bull at the horse statue outside the hospital. She definitely has one of the deepest whinnies I've ever heard. It's not a gross man-whinny like Ashley's though, it's a nice respectable man-whinny that proclaims, 'I am not afraid to balance my femininity with a touch of masculinity.' Sort of.

Anyway, I digress. Dr. Creden the ultrasound whiz clipped her up and took a look at both legs after reviewing the two week old ultrasounds and the paperwork I received at Lamplight, and found some very, very interesting things. First off, there is nothing in the right hind. You heard me, nothing. Nada, zip, zilch. The deep looks great and so does the check. The old windpuff on that leg, however, has reached epic proportions. It's huge. I mean HUGE. I need to get pictures of this thing because you are not going to believe it! (Windpuffs are, by the way, harmless blemishes. They're just fluid-filled distensions of the tendon sheath in this case, or joint capsules in other cases, and she's had this once since she was 5, her very first blemish.) Essentially, by presenting itself as this monster thing, it indicates that the area has in fact been stressed recently, which is why there is so much edema there. But there's a difference between an area being stressed and actual tendon damage. Dr. Creden couldn't find a thing to fault. What she DID find, however, was the area that we think the original vet found and marked as damage. She so happens to have a perfectly matching mark on the DDFT in her left hind as well, the exact same size, fiber pattern, and location as the one on the right. As perfectly matching lesions on both legs are pretty much unheard of, we epect that this isn't an actual problem, but it's just her. Every horse is different. It's not normal, per se, but it's not problematic. I bet you'd be hard pressed to run an ultrasound machine down any horse in work and find a completely clean limb. That is the body's process. Other than that, which she deemed to be nothing of concern, there was nothing there. Just... nothing! So that's great news.

However, with the good comes the bad. The left hind, which we originally thought was just a strain, turns out to have much more going on than we had originally thought. She ran the ultrasound machine down her leg and found a couple of spots of small fiber disrutpion, which we wasn't worried about and expected that with rest, they'd resolve. But, when she neared the distal part of the limb, she started going, "Oh I don't like that. Oh I really don't like that." Which is exactly what I didn't want to hear. The proximal section of the limb has decreased in size dramatically since the original injury, meaning a ton of the inflammation and excess fluid is gone, so we were doing the right thing. But, now that the excess edema is gone, we got a clearer picture, and found a definite area of distension in the distal area of the tendon, and a little lower, an actual lesion. It's not huge and glaring by any means, but it is very obviously there. Which sucks! We had a chance to jog her out as well, and she was still very definitely lame on that LH. Sigh!

We decided that since she is insured, we are going to go the most aggressive route we can in treating this, and take her up to Tufts ASAP to do PRP on her. PRP, or platelet-rich plasma, is essentially this: the vet collects a sample of her own blood, spins it down to harvest the platelet-rich portion, then injects the lesion with it, guided by ultrasound. Platelets release growth factors that stimulate rapid healing in the area, and considering it is made exclusively from her own tissue, there isn't risk of rejection or others adverse reactions. From some of the research, injuries that normally would take six months to heal can resolve in as little time as a month. We're not really sure how quickly full strength is restored to the tendon, but the architectural structure it needs for that strength regenerates that rapidly, and scarring in the tendon is minimal. (Scar tissue is less elastic and less strong than original tendon tissue, which leaves the area weak and prone to reinjury). It's like stem cell, but it's not. PRP stimulates collagen growth, rallies stem cells to the area, and releases other growth factors into the region. So essentially, it's like healing tendon on speed, but in a good way. We'll secure the appointment on Monday, as Tufts isn't open for regular business on weekends.

I am a tired child, so I am off to bed shortly. I'm sweating the RH tonight to see if I can get any more fluid out of that area, and the remaining part of this week before we do the PRP, I am handwalking for 10-15 minutes 2x daily and wrapping, so the tubbing is all done. I am sure Gogo is thanking me for this; every time I pulled out that big muck tub, she gave me a look like, are we REALLY doing this AGAIN?

Good news and bad news. We shall see.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It Sucks to be Me! - A Message from Gogo

Hi all, this is Gogo. I thought I would hijack my mother's computer to tell you all that I lead THE Most Boring Life Ever. I USED to get to run fast and jump over things, but then my legs got hurt when I was running fast and jumping over things at a Really Big Show. I knew it had to be Really Big because we never go that far normally. Mom says now I can't go outside for a long time except for some grasses and some walking. This is Very Boring. Let me tell you all about how Very Boring my day is.

First off, I wake up when my mom and my Auntie Shan turn the lights on in the barn. Food time is the best time of the day, and I am ALWAYS ready for it. Sometimes I make mom mad by banging at my metal gate with my foot, but I don't do this so much anymore because then mom won't feed me. And that's not fun either.

Of course, after breakfast I make time to harass Teg when my mom puts him in front of my stall while she cleans his stall. He's blocking my VIEW, people. Is my life really so Very Boring that I have nothing better to look at than Teggie's Fat Butt? Offensive.

I then, obviously, have to make my mother feel guilty for locking me in this smelly old stall for so long. Two whole WEEKS, people. That's two weeks too long you know. If I look pathetically out the door, maybe she will get the hint.

After I eat more hay, which is Not Boring but still less fun than running fast and jumping over things, my mom takes me out of my stall and walks me around on the pavement for awhile. Then she lets me eat grass - I like grass, but this is still Very Boring compared to running fast and jumping over things. And then she makes me do something completely annoying after that. She actually sticks both my back legs into a big tub of water and makes me stand there! For TWENTY WHOLE MINUTES! What could POSSIBLY be more BORING than that!

I go back in my stall and eat more hay, which is Still Boring. My mom comes over and gives me lots of treats cause I look out the door and make her feel bad, but I am always polite about taking the treats because she says she will not give me any more if I am bad. Then she puts on my ice boots - for THIRTY WHOLE MINUTES - but I can still eat my hay when I wear them. She grooms me too. I like that part. And I get more cookies.

Later on, I get more hay, and MORE hay, and even MORE hay. Then I get more hay AND more grain! I like this a lot.

My mom also takes me for another walk, and I get to eat more grasses. I think the Big Snow is going to come not too far off from now, so I try to shovel as much grass as I can into my mouth without looking like a fat pig.

And I always gotta wear these stupid things on my legs too. Every time she takes my legs out of the tub of water, she rubs stuff into them and put these things back on. Very, Very, Very Boring.

Although sometimes my mom goes a little crazy and gets creative with them. And she and Auntie Shan also put annoying things on my head. Like this light-up Halloween bat headband, for example. But they also made the dog wear it, and the cat too, so I don't feel so bad. I think my mom is trying to make life interesting, but it's still Very, Very Boring.

So I make sure that I get them back for it.

But they still put me back in the tub anyway.

Then I get to go back in my Very Boring stall and eat even more hay and grain. By this time, it's dark out, and time to go back to sleep. I spend the whole day eating hay, walking a little, and standing in a tub a LOT. Very, Very, VERY Boring.

Mom says I get to see the vet this Saturday, and then we'll know a little more about my legs and if they are getting better at all. She says I am supposed to get to run fast and jump over things again next year like I did this year, only maybe bigger, which I am very happy about. But that's so far AWAY.

What did I tell you? The Most Boring Life Ever. I hope I get to go run fast and jump over things sooner rather than later. This walking stuff is just too Boring for me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

American Eventing Championships 9/13/09: Day 3.... the Injuries

I am sorry for my complete and total silence for most of the past week. I've been insanely busy (we hosted a schooling show last weekend for CDA so we had to scour the facility and it was exhausting), completely exhausted (keep crashing at 8pm on accident only to wake up at 1am mad as a hornet), and really, in all honesty, just sad. Really sad. I haven't felt much like writing. I've spent the better part of the week trying to compose myself and nursing Gogo nonstop 24/7, and I'm feeling a little bit better, but it's not easy. I've not yet hit rock bottom - that would be a permanently crippled horse - but I can see it from here!

After our amazing XC run, I was feeling on top of the world. Sure, she didn't seem to negotiate the footing all that well - which was odd to me, but stranger things had happened - but I jogged her on the way back to the barn to make sure, and she was sound. All systems go, I thought. Alex and I bathed her, and I took her out for a nice long, well-deserved graze while Alex did her stall. She seemed very pleased, and I was delighted to find that I had moved up into 6th (our leader after dressage with a 25 accumulated 60 penalties XC, at the dreaded fish of course - oh noes!). Because of the nasty, nasty scurf she accumulated on her front legs under her wraps from two weeks before that we hadn't quite been able to get rid of yet, I made the decision to liniment her but keep her open for the time being, and to come back later and wrap her when we took her back out for a walk. I am VERY glad now that I did this, as the visual of big legs was what alerted me in the first place to the problem. Had I wrapped her right away, I would have not known until the next morning that there was a problem. Alex and I wandered off, me still on cloud nine after the run, and we checked scores, looked at XC pictures, went shopping, watched some more stadium, and then headed back after awhile to wrap her and take her for a walk. We were thoroughly enjoying ourselves, and I started setting up plans for things that needed to be done for stadium the next day - I planned to braid that night, I needed to polish my boots, I needed to clean tack, unload more stuff from the trailer, get my other showclothes, etc. And then I walked into her stall and stopped. "Wow, she is really stocked up," I said. That didn't seem right.

So we took her out, and handwalked her for half an hour. She was dragging a bit, and I thought maybe she just had a hard time compensating for the footing, but that didn't make sense because the footing really was quite good. So why had she struggled with it? The little bit of fill in her front legs, which is normal for her, disappeared within a few minutes of walking, but her hind legs didn't go down. In fact, they seemed if anything bigger after half an hour. They weren't particularly hot to the touch - they were of a normal warmth at the time - but I still felt weird about it. "Maybe we should put her on the lunge and see if she just needs some more movement to get them to come down," I suggested. We grabbed my lunge line and whip, and went to the warmup behind the front stabling. She was slow to walk off, and not seriously abnormal at the trot, but then I asked her to canter. We were going left first, and she pinned her ears and reluctantly cantered off, which is totally not like her. She dragged off into canter, and wouldn't push underneath herself at all. When I brought her back down to trot, she wasn't right, especially on that right hind, but the left didn't look too good either. I gave Alex, who was standing at the rail, a rather pained please-tell-me-I'm-imagining-this look, and she joined me on the inside of the circle. We switched directions, and when I asked her to canter again, same thing - made a nasty face and reluctantly dragged off, only this time, she hopped painfully around in the canter, doing half-tempis with her back end (and spending a good part of it just cross-cantering) and propping pretty hard off the right hind. Back at the trot, she just wasn't right. Tell me this isn't happening, I thought. She's never been lame before.

"Well... let's coldhose," I suggested. Nope, that didn't help. Now, after lunging, the legs were both hot and bigger than ever. "Well... let's put her under plain wraps for an hour or two to see if that helps," although I knew it wouldn't at this point. We left her for awhile to go seek out some food for ourselves, and watched all the laughing competitors headed up to the start of the Competitor's Party and the dog show. One look at all of them, and I shook my head. I didn't want to be around anyone at the moment except for Alex. I didn't want people coming up to me and asking how my XC went. I could see myself saying, "Awesome! But I broke my horse!" We went for Thai instead, which was delicious, but I spent most of my time trying to compose myself - I cried the whole way there and back, and I never cry. Just the thought that I had broken my horse having a blast out on XC was enough to break my heart. I'm bummed that I missed such a great party, but there was no way I could have kept my composure. At 8pm when we came back after dinner for nightcheck, sure enough, the legs were still hot and even bigger than ever when we took the wraps off. Lowelle (our friend who I used to show against last year in Area 8, and who I stabled with) showed up, and she and her husband were amazing. The girl across from us had a horse going Training, and she let us borrow her enormous ice boots, the kind you dump as much ice as you possibly can into. This is why I love eventers - she and her father were leaving for the night, and they were just like yeah sure, use them, that ice is melting and won't be there tomorrow so use it up! Hang them up when you're done, see you in the morning! It was a struggle to get the boots on and filled with Gogo so uncomfortable, and it took all four of us to do it. She was a perfect angel once they were on, standing completely still for 45 minutes just munching hay while Alex and I sat outside her stall listening to the live band play. When we finally took off the boots, no change in the legs. They were still hot and now painful to the touch. Feeling horrible, I decided at this point that the only thing left to try was an overnight poultice, so we did her up with some A&Js and some paper carry-out bags we had taken from the Thai restaurant (of course I had to forget SOMETHING), and left. It was 10pm by this time. She was munching hay and looking mostly unconcerned, but she flinched and pulled her legs away when I wrapped them. I didn't sleep well.

At 4am, I left Alex still in bed, and went back to check on Gogo. This was the final moment of truth concerning whether to pull from the competition, although I already knew what the answer was going to be. There was no way she'd be okay, as I suspected bilateral bows on both hinds. Unless she had made some sort of miracle recovery in the night - highly unlikely - she was done for a good long time. I didn't even have to unwrap her. I touched her legs through the bandage, and she pulled sharply away. That was it, we were done. I gave her a 500lb dose of banamine - all I had on me at that moment - and slunk back to the hotel feeling utterly miserable. When we got up shortly thereafter, we headed back to the showgrounds and went directly to the show office, where I told them two things: "One, I need to withdraw. Two, I need a vet." A vet from Wisconsin Equine was right there, so we only had to wait a few minutes for her to get down to the barn while we washed the poultice off and coldhosed for a few minutes. She watched her jog, but hardly needed to even see it. She was so uncomfortable at that point that she was lame at the walk in both hinds, even with the banamine/poultice/coldhosing. The legs were a little bit less swollen than they had been the night before, probably thanks to the banamine, but they were still bad. She jogged out horribly, and was rated with a lameness of 3/5 in her right hind, and 2/5 in her left. Ultrasound on both legs confirmed the suspected tendon damage that I had figured it was, given the location of the swelling. (Oddly enough, the swelling in both hinds was localized to the tendons only, so as least I knew her suspensory wasn't involved... I would have killed myself if it was! If you are not completely familiar with all the major structures in the lower limb, I suggest you dissect some legs. You won't forget where ANYTHING is in the leg EVER again, and it will REALLY be helpful in determining injury location! Not for the squeamish though... as you can see by the photo though, I was having a GREAT time with my Crocodile Dundee knife! I even still have a navicular bone from that dissection that I carry around as a talisman.) Anyway, yes, ultrasound showed some damage but it wasn't anything like I expected, given her level of discomfort. Her LH, the one she was less lame on, had an enlarged SDFT (or superficial digital flexor tendon), which was indicative of a minor strain but nothing more. There was no real fiber disruption anywhere, which was great. Her RH, on the other hand, did have some minor disruption of the fibers in the DDFT (deep digital flexor tendon, which runs behind the SFDT) and some distention of the check ligament as well, which articulates with the DDFT. The good news was that most of the swelling was just superficial edema, which is pretty painful but not damaging unless you don't do anything about it.

Maybe that can give you a better picture! Here is the ultrasound, although don't expect me to be able to tell you too much about it. I'm balls at being able to tell anything about ultrasound pictures, although the one thing that is obvious to me here is that the SSDF is indeed larger on the left than on the right.

The one picture is just of her RH; the smaller circle shows where the damages are. The other picture is a comparison of the two. The vet said don't mind the crazy squiggles in the smaller circle for the damages on the RH... apparently her machine was being sticky!

The preliminary prognosis for these injuries? Good. The vet said at this point there is no reason to think she shouldn't make a full recovery, and go on to compete at whatever level she is destined to reach. We caught it pretty immediately, and were very aggressive with cold therapy and anti-inflammatories immediately after the diagnosis was made (and everything I did the day before helped a bit too, I hope). The problem at this point? How I was going to get her safely home. The last thing I wanted to do with fresh tendon injuries was to bounce my horse around on a trailer for two days. But we had to do what we had to do, so once we were packed, we coldhosed her again, wrapped her hinds and put shipping boots over them (she pulls down plain wraps in the trailer, and we didn't want that either!!), gave her 2 grams of bute, and loaded up, making our very, very, very slow and careful way home. I stopped to check on her several times, unloading just once to walk her for 5 minutes and offer her a drink (which she refused). I unwrapped her to look at the legs, and while they looked better, they were still very, very ugly. I snapped a few pictures at that time, and will show you them as soon as I upload everything alongside pictures I took two days ago, to show the difference already. It was a miserable, long day of driving - every little bump or curve and I cringed. At some point during the day, I got a text from a reader who is my friend on Facebook, who has a place north of Chicago, offering me somewhere to keep Gogo for a little bit if the drive back wasn't an option. I love my readers. Really.

We finally pulled in to Alex's house at around 11:30pm, and we promptly coldhosed again, rewrapped her, gave her more bute, and tucked her in tight with Polly's blankie on:

I managed to secure one extra day off from work to give her a day to stabilize, and Alex and I enjoyed one last day together, although most of it was spent cleaning stalls, caring for Gogo, and worrying about her. Then at 8am on Tuesday, we loaded back up after more coldhosing and with more bute on board, and headed out for the long, miserable drive back to CT. It wouldn't have been miserable except for the fact that a) my horse was broken, b) I had no more company in the car, and c) I was leaving Alex behind. We finally pulled in at around 8pm, promptly coldhosed some more, loaded up with even more bute, rewrapped, and crashed, both of us. I had to be up working the very next morning, which is why I've been struggling all week. I've been utterly exhausted. I just never caught up with my sleep after that first 4am morning on Sunday.

The program for the past week has been this:

Sunday 9/13-Tuesday 9/15: 2grams bute 2x daily, 5 minutes of handwalking daily (split into two handwalks of 2.5 minutes each + 10 minutes handgrazing each), coldhosing 3x daily for 20 minutes each, ice boots 1-2x daily for 30 minutes each, Surpass rubbed into each leg 2x daily, keeping legs wrapped whenever they aren't being coldhosed or iced.

Wednesday 9/16-Sunday 9/20: 1gram bute 2x daily, 5 minutes of handwalking daily (split into two handwalks of 2.5 minutes each + 10 minutes handgrazing each), coldhosing 3x daily for 20 minutes each, ice boots 1-2x daily for 30 minutes each, Surpass rubbed into each leg 2x daily, keeping legs wrapped whenever they aren't being coldhosed or iced.

And then a new schedule for this week:

Monday 9/21-Sunday 9/27: 10 minutes of handwalking daily (split into two handwalks of 5 minutes each + 10 minutes handgrazing each), coldhosing 2x daily for 20 minutes each, ice boots 1x daily for 30 minutes, Surpass rubbed into each leg 2x daily, keeping legs wrapped whenever they aren't being coldhosed or iced.

So far, she's being a very good patient, except for when she's not. I put a chain on her to handwalk, just because she's very fit and very put out by the fact that she's not going outside, and she didn't like that AT ALL. I never use a chain on her because I don't need it, but I figured I better to be safe. She showed her immediate displeasure by refusing to graze unless I took it off. She also, when I led her back to her stall the second night back after coldhosing, tried to rip her head out of her halter, which she knows not to do. She got a pop from the chain for it, and she shook her head, sat back hard on those tender tendons, and LAUNCHED into a capriole, landing IN her water buckets with both front legs. We both got completely soaked, she bend a bucket all out of place, and I freaked about her legs. Thankfully, she seemed no worse for the wear afterwards. Mares.

She seems to have resigned herself to this boring new routine though. She doesn't wear the chain anymore, and isn't walking around in her stall in an annoyed way anymore. I think she knows she's hurt, as she's being very careful with herself. She was very unhappy about not going outside at first, but she seems okay after she realized she really just isn't going to get to go outside when everybody else does. We also moved her from her regular stall (inside with no windows) to the empty stall on the end (with TWO windows!), and she is much happier there. She had her feed reduced to 1.5lbs Gro N' Win split into 3 feedings, with one handful of barley at each feeding still. She gets about as much mediocre hay as she can eat, as it has hardly any nutritional value in it (what IS it with our crappy hay this year?) and it keeps her busy and not fat. We removed the DMG, and once her electrolytes are gone she'll be done with those too for now. I also added Smartflex Repair to her PM grain, in pelleted form. I have a feeling it's probably not going to do anything - tendons are very avascular structures, how on earth is that stuff going to get there? - but at this point, it can't hurt. After a week of meticulous care, her legs look a lot better already. I will put up some pictures as soon as I upload.

I feel horrible. HORRIBLE. If only I had known on XC. If only I could have pulled up. If only, if only, if only. It's all what if's and why's at this point though. Why did this happen to her? You guys all know how much I do slow conditioning work on pavement. Her tendons should be made of iron at this point. I do all that specifically to prevent problems like this. And you guys all know how incredibly fit she was. Tendons fail when muscles are too fatigued to take the brunt of the work, but this wasn't a care of that either, because of the slide. But how did a little slide create such damage? Was she fatigued from the long journey? Maybe. Maybe something was already wrong and she wasn't lame and therefore didn't clue me in until it was too late? I doubt it, but you never know. She slipped at Huntington too, why? It was a different slip, but was it a similar thing? Did she do something then? Is that indicative of a bigger problem?

And the big one: would shoes have stopped this slide? In a word, no. Has this been a slip backwards when she pushed off for a jump, I'd say maybe she could have benefitted from additional traction of some sort. But what happened is that when I gave a half-halt on the wet grass with the concrete dirt underneath it, she had no purchase when she brought her hind end underneath her, and slid with both legs underneath herself. She caught herself quickly and went on just fine, but a plain shoe would have been just as slippery, if not more so. 1100lbs of sliding horseflesh is not going to stop for a piece of metal, just considering the sheer biomechanics of it. And as for studs, they would have either stopped the slide or they would have severely exacerbated the injury. She would have either come out of it fine or with serious damage to perhaps not just her hinds but to all four legs, or to her hocks, back, or worse damage to her tendons from the sheer torque of her feet snagging in the ground while her momentum carried her body onwards.... or she would have fallen. A studded horse went down on Prelim just the day before. A studded horse went down at Old Chatham too in my division. A shod Metro went down with me while schooling XC once, just a freak thing, and no sooner had I gotten back up than another shod horse in our schooling group went down too. They are big animals... who are we to think that we can do it better than nature? That is how horses and riders get killed. Studs are good for providing a little extra grip when a horse is pushing forward. Studs are VERY, VERY dangerous for anything other than that. To me, their negatives far, far, far outweigh their positives. I am not, nor will I ever, consider nailing metal to my horse's feet. They are far too beautiful to ruin. I WILL, however, be looking into possiblities for alternative footwear. The problem is, what IS out there? Boots fall off, don't fit well, rub, aren't designed for jumping, and are bulky. Glue-on boots are a PITA and aren't dressage legal anyway (WHY you would need boots in dressage though is beyond me). Glue-on shoes are a possibility, as they are removeable and reuseable. They are still a PITA to apply though, and aren't failproof. And would they REALLY change anything in the event of a slide like this unless I added studs? I can't imagine running a full XC course with studs. I think I'd give myself an ulcer freaking out about them the entire run. I feel much, much, MUCH safer with a barefoot horse.

The problem with the equine limb is that it is designed for a certain amount of slip to prevent damage (hence the dangers of studs). So a little slippage is actually desired, versus a limb that just glues to the ground when it touches down. It's just when the slip goes too far, or a rider is involved, one who is idiot enough to not know there is a problem and to keep pounding on their poor, poor mare over the rest of a grueling XC course. I really feel horrible. I don't think I'll ever not feel horrible for it. The best I can do at this point is do everything in my power to help her recover from this as best I can. If I am lucky and diligent, someday she will forgive me for my trespasses on her life and safety and comfort.

Poor, poor Gogomare.

Friday, September 18, 2009

American Eventing Championships 9/12/09: Day 2, Cross-Country

XC day dawned bright and early for all of us. I was wicked excited about the course (it was SICK!) and made Alex get up early so I could walk it one last time. It was foggy and WET out there, but I didn't think much of it, as I expected a lot of it to burn off by the time I rode at 9:55am. We headed back to the barn, took off Gogo's Sleaziest, and cleaned her all up so she was sparkling and gorgeous again.

Yep, Mom got the BAMF picture of my arm. We suited up, mounted up and were ready to ROCK THAT COURSE!

Okay so how awesome is that picture. That is me walking to XC, and Jennie Brannigan and Phillip Dutton walking next to me!!
She warmed up great, and I was very happy to see that there was an XC jump in our warmup line of fences. That is SO HELPFUL, because I think it really gets her brain thinking about forward and solid obstacles. Sometimes when we warm up over little dinky looking white poles and then have a massive flower-covered coop as our first fence, she gets a little backed off at first. We set off on the XC right at our alotted time, and she was in instant cruise mode.

First fence rode well, as did the second, which was around a tight corner but framed in on both sides by trees, so it gave us a nice channel and was confidence-building. (You know, they look tiny on the coursemap but I am pretty sure they were all close to maxed out). Third fence was the Seat of Power, which was a big rampy thing that I had had a lot of fun with the previous day:

The Seat of Power curved around to the far edge of the field where the Lamb's Creep was, which was short but very wide, and right before this fence, she slipped. Not dramatically, not violently, but when I asked her to come back before it, she came very up in front like she does, and went to slow herself with her hind end.... and whoop! Both hind legs lost their purchase for a second, and she slid with both of them underneath herself. It was a split second thing, and she regained her footing and jumped the Creep fine, and then made the tight turn to THE FISH! This was the first real test of the course. We had four fences to really get ourselves rolling, and then we had this freaky looking fish right before the water, and had a step out of the water, which she has not schooled in over a year. That coursewalk picture did not have water in it; here are some more accurate pictures of the fish and the water:

Pretty sure Brant Gamma got an awesome picture of us jumping the fish. She bopped over it, splashed through the water (wait til you see how those HOCKS were going!), and slightly awkwardly hopped up the bank, but nothing too dramatic. And I patted her and told her what a good girl she was, and she pricked her ears and galloped on. Only, we started down a little tiny hill just then, and she felt like she was totally unsure of the ground beneath her. You know how when you walk on really slippery ice you take little mincing steps to keep your balance? It felt a little like that. But we got to the bottom of the hill, curved around to the Sawtable, and took it totally awkardly. No matter, on we go to 8A and 8B, the offset two-stride. Which looked a lot like this:

Slice that baby! We came at it at an angle and it rode beautifully. She skipped over it like it was nothing. Novice height is really just not even a challenge to her. She hardly even had to pick up her legs, she can practically canter over most things. We headed through a path in the woods to fence 9, and then had a long gallop through another path in the woods. Here, another interesting thing happened - I asked Gogo to gallop on in this section of the woods, and she just... didn't respond when I asked her. She cruied on at her same speed. Unsusual, I thought. Maybe she just really doesn't want to move out because of the slipping and sliding. I let her take her own speed, which was agonizingly slow, but I felt it better to keep her confident. We finally came out of the woods to reach the Corner, which was HUGE and rode just like any average vertical would. But technically, it WAS a corner!:

And then came THE COFFIN COMPLEX! I don't care what they tell you, it was flagged seperately but it was SO a full coffin. Here is the actual flagged half-coffin part. And wow, she just cruised through it like she was sleeping. I was grinning ear to ear after she loped over the ditch (my previously ditchy, ditchy horse, LOPING over a ditch!) and got three perfect strides to the last element. From there it was onto the Gnome Cabin, but what you can't see about that fence in that picture is this:

The big f-ing TREE right in front of it! I took the left approach to it, as I imagine many other did, as it didn't add sigificant time to take this slightly longer way. Once again, she questioned absolutely nothing. I hardly had to do anything but sit up there and smile. From there, it was the second water complex! The first element was a roll top right before the water, and then you had to splash your way through on a broken line to the roll out, which from the pictures it looked like she half though was another step out! She was a little bit awkward, but nothing too outrageous, and we landed further out than I expected. We lost a little time there as I had to awkwardly navigate back to the 15th fence, all decked out in Buckeye feed bags, our favorite! At this time, I felt like we were really, really going slow, and she did a few more too-careful-with-my-feet movements. But nothing else felt WRONG about it, is what kills me. It felt like she was being overly careful. Aah, had I only known! We were in the homestretch at that point in time, and bopped down the drop easily to make the hard right turn to the skinny log, our final fence. It looked a bit like this from the top of the drop:

It rode beautifully and I meant to trot it, but she cantered right off it easily (no launching yay!!) and we hopped over the log for the sweeping turn left to the finish flags. At this point I looked at my watch and went "oh crap!!!!" and cranked around and came flying pell-mell around the corner at top speed. She did have that one last burst to give me, and we flew across the finish line at the time of 4:53. The optimum time? 4:53! THAT'S CRAZY! She was crawling along as slow as could be, and she still was going the perfect 400mpm speed. Needless to say, we had one of not too many completely double clear round, and I was so excited I jumped off my horse when she was still walking, and had jelly legs and fell flat on my face. People around me were like oh my god are you okay!? And I stood up and was like yeah, yeah, I meant to do that. I checked all her feet in case she had a rock and that was causing the hesitation, but they were all clean, so off we went to celebrate.

Yay mare!!!!!!! Now I know these are not the most flattering pictures of me ever (my mom seems to get a lot of me sitting in the saddle and unnecessarily driving to fences), but I like them anyway.

I took her back with Alex, and we bathed her, grazed her for a good long while, walked her, and put her back in her box to rest before we wrapped her up for the night. She's been getting nasty scurf on her front legs from all the liniment wrapping I was doing the week before, so I wanted to let them breathe and rest before I put more wraps over them. And I am glad I did, because I wouldn't have noticed anything was wrong until the next morning.

To be continued. As for now, I need some bed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The 200th Post.

I realized as I was about to blog about this past weekend that this is my 200th post, so I thought I'd mark it with a mention. This one is not going to be nearly as exciting as the 100th post though. Instead of writing a ton, I just want to say one thing:

I have the best mare in the whole wide world, and I love her very much.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We're back in CT and okay.

Thanks to everyone who has been checking up on us. As some of you know, and as some of you don't know, Gogo went through XC feeling mentally awesome but a little unsure of her footing. As it turns out, what felt like footing uncertainty to me ended up in reality being big time tendon damage to both hind legs - we think she did it somewhere between fences four and six. But bless her little mare heart, she never said no and never gave me any indication that she was hurting in any way, even though it must have been excruciating. She just steamed right on, came in under the time and everything. It wasn't until later when both hind legs blew up that we figured out something was wrong. It just kills me to think that I had no idea on course. Had I know, I could have pulled up. But she just kept on going and I didn't know. When the legs started to swell shortly thereafter, we handwalked (didn't help), coldhosed (didn't help), iced (didn't help), and put her on the lunge, where she was very lame on both hinds. We subsequently withdrew and had the vet out the next morning to look her over and ultrasound both hinds. She strained her left hind superficial digital flexor tendon, and has minor tearing on her right hind deep digital flexor tendon and check ligament. But, the good news is that most the swelling was superficial edema, and with the fact that we caught it right after it happened and were very aggressive with drugs and cold therapy, she is expected to make a full recovery. Lots of stall rest, coldhosing, icing, drugs, and handwalking are in order for the next month (we have a very strict schedule), and we're going to reevaluate in two weeks to see where we stand. I've spent the last few days very slowly getting her back to Connecticut, and we are finally here and safe. Her swelling had gone down dramatically, and her comfort level has doubled. She was very, very sore that first day, but seems to already be feeling a ton better. We've got a long road ahead of us to recovery, but it should be all right in the end.

It realllllllllllllllllllly sucks. I don't really even care about the outcome of the show, I just care about the fact that she's hurting. I haven't even looked at results yet even. We were in 6th after XC out of 40 people, still with a 30.5, and I was the top adult ammy in my division - the rest of the people above me were pros, save for one very talented junior on a very talented horse. I was also the top Area I Adult Rider out of the whole show at that point. That course was grueling, harder than anything she's had to tackle before in her life, and she didn't look at ANYTHING at all, didn't question ANYTHING. She must have been in excruciating pain, and she kept going for me. It kills me that I didn't know. At the same time, I've never been prouder of her. That takes an outstanding horse with an outstanding heart to do that.

I'll have more about XC and the injuries tomorrow. Right now, I just want to sleep.

PS: I just looked at the results and we would have finished 4th. Out of 40. Behind 3 big-name pros. That's amazing. I'll tell you what though, I don't need big ribbons and prizes to know what an amazing horse I have. Seriously.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

American Eventing Championships 9/11/09: Day 1, Dressage

An astonishing thing has happened here at the AECs. Out of 40 of the best Novice competitors in the nation, Gogo and I are sitting in 7th after dressage with a 30.5, even with mistakes in our test. Our score without the obnoxiousness would have been somewhere between 26 and 28. Which would have meant we almost were kicking Philip Dutton's but!! Oh well, Gogo had to show her snarky side, as usual :)

She and I were dressed to the nines and ready to rock and roll by 9am yesterday morning, and were on by 9:10am for our 10:12am ride. And I have to say, she warmed up faster and better than she EVER has. She was just right there for me. Well, minus the lap around the warmup where she screamed like a maniac for her neighbor, lol. Cracker. Anyway, they had us warmup in the lower ring, then go up and warmup in the upper ring, and THEN go into our test. Last year I think that would have probably melted her down. This year, she was a little looky when I took her up there but behaved perfectly well otherwise, because she was feeling so good after our warmup. She was ready and raring to go, still hot to trot after a solid hour of warmup, and I was ready too even though I had another wicked calf cramp (which was eased by an overdose of calcium chews. Nice...). We were in Ring 1, and she trotted in like a champ, looked around, and went hmmmm now this is the time to really behave! I think I shall NOT! But only a little ;)

The whistle blew, and down the centerline we went. I felt a little all over the place, and realized as I went to make the first turn to our first trot movement that I didn't have a half-halt. At all. There was nothing I could do at that point because giving her a stronger one would have made her fling her head all over th place, in perfect Gogo fashion, so I just put on my game face and fudged it a little bit. The first part of the test was great other than that, although it felt a little stilted, and she made a very nice transition to walk, and even had a pretty nice freewalk for her, all of which scored exclusively 7's and mostly 8's. And then I had to pick her back up from the freewalk, right in front of the judge, and it got ugly for a second. I apparently offended her for whatever reason, and she grabbed the bit, gaped her mouth, and rooted outward as hard as she could, swinging her head around like a madwoman. RIGHT in front of the judge. Nice. Somehow I managed to get it back together enough to pick back up the trot, and then immediately the canter, without any major further incident, but that walk movement scored a 4, and the following trot transition a 5 because of the fact that her head was still in the clouds. Oops. However, our canter DID get an 8, so there you go! I felt like we were sort of losing it at the end, and our right canter got a 6 to show for it because I was sort of hanging on for dear life ("losing energy" was the comment I think), and we came down the centerline and ground to a half. Awww maaaaan, I though. That test was horrible! Won't be competitive, it'll score mid 30's, it was easily the worst test of the entire year.

Scores weren't posted for 3 hours. But when we finally got back to see, Alex shrieked, "You're in 7th!!" Yes ma'am, despite getting a 4, 5, and 6, AND a 6 for submission, we countered those with enough 7's and 8's (including 8 for rider, I think because I was as tactful as I could be given the circumstance!). Our final grind-to-a-stop halt even scored an 8. It obviously didn't look as wild as it felt!! We scored a 30.5; the top score was a 25.

I have more pictures, and I'll post them when I get them all sorted :)

As for right now, it's on to XC. You can follow the live feed on the USEA website, check out the blog, and see full coursemaps with pictures too. What you CAN'T see in the coursewalks is the approach to some of the complicated questions we have. There are jumps leading to both waters, a step out of the water, a downbank to an offset skinny, a corner, an offset two stride, and a FULL coffin complex (not numbered as such but rides as such). I will have a full coursewalk for you as soon as I can :) The course is challenging, long and FAST, and I am REALLY excited. Wish us luck!!!