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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

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

Saturday, February 27, 2010


There is no possible way to properly describe the nasty weather we've had these past few days beyond a few choice words like "UGH" "CACA" and "DEATH". The horses have been stuck inside for days, and thankfully are all outside now getting their bucks out so they can stop attempting to sling all of us into walls. Tuesday, the first round of turnouts got out, but then it started to sleet in a sideways fashion, so everyone else got stuck inside. Wednesday, it continued to sleet/mist/snow/rain all day, so everyone stayed in again. Thursday, it freaking POURED all day long, torrentially so, and so once again, they were all stuck inside and doing all sorts of unpleasant things like colicing and getting cast, I'm fairly convinced, on purpose in order to spite Mother Nature. Unfortunately their colic/cast/rearing/bucking/bolting dances were not enough to appease her, and yesterday the snow came in sideways at 50mph for a large part of the day. We don't have TOO much new accumulation - maybe 10 inches? - but enough to send cars shooting off the road and panicked CT residents to the store to horde food and gas. I was with a few friends of mine last night at someone's house, and on her way home one of the girls flipped her car upside down off the road. O.O That marks the point of the season where I think I am DONE with winter and am quite ready for spring now, thanks!

Despite the snow, the horses really were climbing the walls yesterday, and so I kicked a choice few out into the weather, one of which was Gogo. I'm not doing her any favors by keeping her inside at this point (or myself, because with her high-as-a-kite attitude I might get killed if I don't find an outlet for it), so out she went. The medical turnout is small enough to keep her from doing anything ridiculous, but big enough to let her walk around a little and just be OUT in the fresh air. She definitely appreciated it but came to the gate in two hours and was like, all right bring me in now!

Horses did go on the treadmill as usual....

Here, Rahlo and Gogo demonstrate how even though your treadmill is covered, sideways snow can in fact interrupt your nice stroll.

Under saddle, Gogo has been hit and miss a little, given how hot she's been. Thursday, she was really quite excellent, starting out spooky but really settling in to some decent work at the end. She did about half an hour of walk, and 15 or so minutes of trot before I called it a day. It wasn't without a few reining spins away from the A end of the arena where the Door Monster lives, and a few ridiculous leaps when the other rehab horse in the arena squealed and went leaping around, but once she settled in I was very happy. The interesting thing is that I tried the cyprium eggbutt again, not willing to give up on it, and lo and behold she was fantastic in it! So what changed? Only one thing: I lowered the bit in her mouth. Historically, for whatever reason, when you put any bit Gogo wears at the regular bit-wearing height that you'd expect her to be comfortable in, she fusses. Not really sure why, and we've not found any dental or vet reason for it - she just does. I blogged about it once, talking about how my last boss always wanted to adjust the bit in her mouth and raise it to where it belonged, and we finally tried it one lesson. She held all her tension in her mouth, gnashing away at the bit and being completely resistant... until we lowered it again. Then, she was perfect, as if she was saying "UGH! THANK you, now I can really go on and do real work!" So, thinking back to that, I dropped the bit so it was hanging in her mouth, way lower than I'd ever really expect it to be but keeping in mind the fact that this is Gogo we're talking about here. And tada! No more fussing, no more fighting the bit. She reached for it and was light and responsive, much more so than in the mullen mouth. Hooray!
Yesterday, she was not as good. She fussed a little, threw her head around some, made like she wanted to body slam into something, then settled in to some mediocre work. I wasn't unhappy with it per se, it just wasn't as nice as the day before. Perhaps this was her way of telling me that she was NOT happy to find that she is now required to go down to the Door Monster end of the arena whether or not there is a Door Monster waiting for her down there. Gogo... you are a special girl.

Today I think we will be hacking. All this new snow is so beautiful, and I think it will be good to go along with the way we do things in the summer: two days of dressage, one day of something else, two days of dressage, one day of something else. It's much easier on her brain that way, and quite frankly, mine too.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

International Woman of Mystery

I am happy to report that, once again, Gogo's mystery lameness has completely resolved without a hint of remaining swelling, heat, lameness or anything else. The vet and I both feel that given the nature of these weird mysteries, there are adhesions in the tendon sheath that are still breaking up, and there may be more left. I have taken a new approach to this bit of misfortune (though, in the grand scheme of things, it's really NOT that unfortunate). Instead of panicking about every tiny misstep she takes, I am tackling this thing head on. If there are adhesions left, they have to break up in order to restore full mobility to the tendon within the sheath. They just do. Instead of strictly resting her, I am keeping her out and moving. Per vet recommendation, she is back under saddle and doing her best and biggest trot - if there are adhesions left, this might cause them to break up in a less abrupt manner. They can't stay.... they have to go. If there aren't adhesions left, well then hallelujah! Onward and upward. Only time and a lot of movement will tell. In two weeks, if we haven't experienced any more setbacks, then we will hopefully try some canter again. If we have had more setbacks, well, then I dunno.

At this point, honestly, I have nothing to lose. I have about a 50-50% shot at a real show season this year, so I'm not about to get my hopes up and stress about a set timeframe that I will need to have certain goals accomplished by. Certainly as time wears on, I will be able to better see where we stand and what we might be able to do, but I do enough worrying about her already. I might as well just step back and take it day by day, and celebrate the small victories instead of worry about the big things that may or may not come to pass.

I have to say, it's completely odd to not have a daily training schedule, monthly goals, and a set-in-stone season already planned and laid out before me (even though, secretly, I DO have my hypothetical show season already planned... don't tell!). You all know how obsessive I am with my goals and how hard I try to achieve them. Not having them is leaving me with a giant void, and in all honesty making me a little bit lazy. I'm not really sure what to do with this extra time. Since the weather is disgusting and I have zero interest in being out in a cold February rain, I've been spending a lot of time indoors, getting bored but not having a lot of things to really keep me occupied. Not having serious horsey goals I am striving with all my heart to reach has done a few good things for me - seriously opened up my social schedule for one, which is nice - but I don't really know that it's a worthy exchange. I feel a bit lost, not being certain of my upcoming season. It's not like me to not know what I'm doing with my horse every day, and what I'm trying to accomplish day in and day out. Every day is different this month... one day she's fine, the next she's not. Whether or not I actually DO accomplish all those daily goals is beside the point - I have something I'm working hard for, every single day. When these goals center around my horse's healing abilities, well.. all I can do is put her in the best and most healing environment that I can, and then it's out of my hands.

It's good for me to take the pressure off and relax just a little. But I'd rather be doing it under different circumstances, ones that I decide for myself.

Just feeling a little bit of the Februarys, I suppose.

But. Despite all that, I haven't give up hope. Despite all that, I still have my show schedule laid out perfectly before me, and am dreaming of the 'what-ifs'. What if she continues to improve and never looks back from here on out? What if we both defy the odds and make a great comeback despite all the obstacles ahead of us? What if all the stars align and this is our year, REALLY our year?

I keep hoping. You never know. Sometimes things just work out. Sometimes they don't. Taking things one day at a time is hard for me, but I'm learning to just go with the flow a little more. I still have the best happy and healthy mare on the planet when it all comes down to it, and really, can I actually ask for more beyond that?

Gogo says, woman get on me and let's go ride already!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Never a dull moment!

You know, when I found myself facing a long stretch of boring rehab to blog about after chronicling all our epic summer season adventures, I thought wow, my readers are going to be put to sleep since I won't have any great stories to write about anymore. But time and time again, I am finding that my stories about dealing with my kooky mare in rehab might be even MORE interesting than showing and training her! The mare's quirky bipolarity is legendary and preceeds her pretty much wherever she goes. 90% of the time, she is SO quiet, so calm, so brave, so smart, and so easy. And the other 10% of the time? She's ridiculous.

Now add in the rehab factor. That changes the ratio to about 50% sane, 50% cracked in the head.

Remember that phrase, "cracked in the head." It will come into play later.

This morning, I was completely delighted to find that my choice to leave the wraps off last night had paid off - both legs were icy cold and tight even with the wraps off for over 24 hours, no icing or anti-inflammatories involved. Which, unfortunately, makes it look more like the swelling and heat were from breaking adhesions versus anything else. She treadmilled on the lowest setting today, and the legs stayed cool and quiet. All four legs were cool - I've actually been underblanketing her on purpose, seeing as when she's really warm, the legs fill. As she lives in a heated barn and runs on the hot side anyway, a simple cotton sheet is doing the job of keeping her body warm and extremities a little cooler. It's been approaching 40-45 degrees here during the day, much to my delight, and were she not clipped I'd be tempted to just leave her naked. Today, I was talking to a boarder in the washstall, toying with the idea of getting on her and just taking her for a walk just because I think at this point I am doing her no favors by having her stand around, when I heard a commotion coming from the two stalls next to the washstall. Gogo has a new neighbor, a skittery little OTTB that was a free giveaway - one of those 'take her or else she's going in a hole in the ground' situations - and she is here for a month or so just to give the new owners a better idea of what she's going to end up like. They were in the stall trying to body clip the mare, who was not having any part of that game, and I heard scuffling and went to make sure nobody was getting trampled into the ground. What did I find? The mare had scooted towards Gogo's side of the stall, and apparently Gogo found this horribly offensive. I rounded the corner just in time to see her rearing in her stall, ears flat on her head, literally walking towards the mare on her back legs and getting higher with each step. She got so high that she ended up cracking her head HARD on the ceiling, which thankfully knocked some sense into her brain and brought her down on all fours again. Thankfully, she didn't slice her head open, but I'm sure her ears were ringing for a good long while after that.

Hence the, ahh, "cracked in the head" part. I meant it literally.

So I figured that today was probably not a good day to get on and go for a relaxing walk.

After an exceptionally thorough and awesome grooming, another boarder and her daughter decided that they were going to take their horse for a nice handwalk outside, and I agreed to come along with them - after all, a walk outside couldn't hurt and would probably do good things for her brain, right? WRONG! We had gotten about halfway down the driveway when two of the horses in a passing paddock started running around. The other horse I was walking with handled it pretty well, but Gogo's eyes immediately bugged out of her head in that special way that they do, and I knew there was going to be trouble. She actually flipped her tail up over her back, which I have NEVER seen her do, and started practicing her passage, snorting loudly and skittering next to me like there was nothing more she wanted to do in the world than take off at a dead gallop into the next county. I stopped her a couple times, then stopped her and backed her. She wasn't responding well, and when a car started to come down the driveway, she completely wigged out and started leaping around next to me like a complete maniac. I managed to get her off the driveway onto the grass, where she proceeded to attempt to run circles around me and rear. A lot. I managed to get her to hold still long enough for the car to pass, then attempted to make my way back to the driveway. She scooted forward, spun towards me, reared hugely, and then it happened. She struck at me.
Now, there was nothing malicious about it. Remember that I have never in my life seen her even so much as think about making a nasty face at a human... she loves her people. I don't think this was intended as an actual strike, it just ended up being in my direction. She actually had a look of terror in her eyes like, "oh god what have I done!" I moved to aggressively back her up, and she just about sat down, so strong was her desire to NOT go backwards. And then, she made like she was going to strike again, this time lifting her knee as though she wanted to punch me in the gut with it. I nailed her across the neck with my looped over lead, backed her up hard, and started through my standard back up, turn around, head down, back up, turn around, head down, rinse lather repeat that I do whenever she gets her panties in a twist. The point of it is that you do EXACTLY what I say, when I say, NO questions asked, no matter what is going on around you, and you don't move so much as an inch without me telling you to - you don't take your attention off me for a second, you don't move your feet or your body a centimeter until I say. She is far too much of a complete Alpha for our relationship to be any other way.

She, of course, pitched a wicked fit for a minute or two in the preliminary stages of this, rearing and leaping and shooting away from me in all directions. She finally gave up the act, put her eyes back in her head, and stood there looking somewhat humbled, going "well... that didn't work." The running horses in the field no longer interested her, and she was back to her well-behaved self, stopped and waiting for me, backing quietly on command, and putting her head down at the lightest touch. Back in the barn, she was back to being sweet and loving, as if none of it ever happened. She gave me her best bright eyes cookie face, cheerful as ever.

Her legs did nothing alarming following the, um, Gogo fit, but I took evasive maneuvers anyhow seeing as she spent quite a long time on her hind legs. Tomorrow will tell if she stressed anything out in there. As for me, in the melee I managed to strain something in my back, and remember when she broke my middle finger this summer? Yep, pretty sure I just refractured it!

Oh, Gogo. Never a dull moment with you.

Here's my little secret though. She is totally amazing in every way, even the ridiculous parts, and I take her random quirks as they are. All this crap she dishes out? I LOVE it. I don't think I'd be happy with a more meek, gentle critter. I like a little sass in my life. And I am damn proud of all she and I have accomplished, and how far she's come. She is too strong-willed to possibly ever fully submit to anyone, even me, and that why our relationship is so special. She lets me be the leader on the ground, but as you can see from today, sometimes it's not without objection. Under saddle, there's a lot of the times when I let her lead - she knows her feet best and where to put them, and if I give her a speed and a direction, I trust her to do the rest. I'm pretty sure that with another owner, she would have been dogfood a long time ago given how difficult she can be. I'm by no means a great rider or horseperson, but she's just like my twin sister. We might squabble and disagree sometimes, but at the end of the day we're completely inseperable and we understand each other. And we love each other, through and through.

In the way she'll come over and stand by me in the paddock instead of eating hay on the other side of the pen, in the way she grooms me when I scratch her withers, in the way she nickers to me every morning and watches me working in the barn all day, I can tell. I'm good enough to be in her herd, and nobody else is. At the end of the day, that drives me to do the best I can by her, no matter what.

Never a dull moment with her, that's for sure.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I plan on eating a tube of Ulcergard for breakfast tomorrow.

"Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard
Oh, take me back to the start"

~ Coldplay

The steady progress Gogo and I had been making up until around mid-January has obviously slowed considerably in the past month, pockmarked by various hiccups for one reason or another. Since January 24th, I've only been on her 8 times. While she had had the totally horrible and mystery blip a week and a half ago, it had resolved itself in three days, and she was looking and feeling outstanding. I followed my vet's instructions, started her back up last Saturday after jogging sound for the latter part of the week, and she's been doing fantastically ever since. She worked well on Tuesday, and had Wednesday off, seeing as it was also my day off and I had no plans to go to the barn. The staff had instructions to leave her overnight wraps off and they did.

Yesterday, however, I arrived at the barn after she had already been turned out. Normally, I like to be there when she goes out so I can be the one to do it (and I can inspect her legs), but I had put her on the Wenesday turnout list for the first shift of turnouts, and since I wasn't there to change it for the next day, she was already outside. When I went to go bring her in, I could see all the way from the barn that both hinds were big. Very, very big. Whether or not they had been big in the morning (or the day before), I don't know. I was rather alarmed at their size but thought that perhaps the fact that she hadn't had wraps on for two days had caught up to her, and she was just filled like crazy. (Which, of course, you'd think would go down in turnout.) On closer inspection, however, I was not happy to find that there was no uniformity to the swelling - it was located entirely in the area of her SDFT. Nothing higher up or further forward was involved. I put her on the treadmill, thinking that perhaps she just didn't move around enough in turnout to make them go down, and was unnerved to see that movement did NOT make them come down. That was my first clue at the AECs that something was wrong - movement did not make the swelling go down. I had one of my staff jog her for me and yep, sure enough, she was quite lame RH. What was even more alarming was that the leg immediately after got even bigger and HOT. Blisteringly hot. Back into the tub she went, and I was most unhappy to find that even after a half hour of standing in freezing water, the leg was still warm directly out of the bucket, and immeditely burned up again. The swelling did come down, but I tried to put her ice boots on while she was back in the stall - she was so uncomfortable in them she couldn't even hold still. She shifted around, lifted her legs, kicked at the wraps, and shuffled around and around her stall miserably, refusing to even stand still for a fresh flake of hay. The RH swelling was very, very painful to touch. Exactly like how it was the day she originally injured herself.

I obviously went home feeling pretty crappy yesterday.

I did not expect improvement today. I had a call in to the vet, and quite honestly thought she had reinjured herself - I felt pretty certain that I would be making another trip back to the vet in the near future. Today's protocol included intensive cold-tubbing, icing, anti-inflammatories, wrapping, minimal handwalking, and strict rest, and after I went through the barn to do my morning check on all the other horses, I pulled her out of her stall and into the washrack. I hadn't done more than just dry wrap her the night before, just to see what the legs would be like the next morning. I cringed as I started to pull her wraps off, unsure of what to expect.

And.... they were cool. And tight.


I continued on with the aggressive cold-tubbing and anti-inflammatories anyway, and when I pulled her legs out of the tubs, they were icy cold and had zero fill in them. Nothing like yesterday at all.


She went back in her stall until around 2pm, when my constant eyes-on-the-ground boarder arrived. We pulled her out of her stall and took her over to the arena for a jog. She'd had 500lbs of Banammine at 8am, enough to take the inflammation down but probably not enough to make her feel 100%. I expected her to be pretty lame still.

And... she was not. She was about 98% sound. She didn't look very strong, to be sure, but quite frankly she looked far better than she had two days out from the last freak mystery lameness two weeks ago. And this was about 15 hours out this time, with a far more alarming presentation of the lameness. And unlike yesterday, after she jogged out today the legs stayed totally tight and cool.


I kinda... have no idea what to think, really. I don't think she's reinjured herself severely, because she'd still be lame and the leg would still have SOME heat and swelling in it. It seems like more adhesions breaking up or perhaps a continuation of the other possible adhesion breaking up, but seriously... it's WEIRD. Really, really weird. We're going to be super conservative over these next few days and reevaluate at the end of the weekend to see what we have, but it's pretty obvious that despite the fact that she was cleared to canter, she is not ready for it yet.

Unfortunately for me, the fact that we're approaching an entire month lost to more time off than saddle time is posing a serious risk to the upcoming season. Even though our first scheduled event wasn't going to be until the end of June, if we really want to be competitive and ready to roll this year we are going to need more time than we have. She's going to need six to eight weeks of really being legged up and actively galloping, jumping full courses, doing LSD work and legitimate dressage as well before I even think about turning down the centerline at an event at Training level, but is she going to be ready for that? Whether or not she would be ready fitness-wise, would those legs be up to it after such a short comeback period? I see no need to cut corners here. There is no need to push it if there is any question about her strength at all. Unless she is ready in the beginning of May to start really serious training and fitness work, then our season is over before it even begins. Unless she is ridiculously sound and ready to roll, I see no reason in pushing her hard. I see no reason to spend a ton of money on shows if she's not going to be competitive or it's going to compromise her soundness. I see no reason to risk anything at this point. This mare is too special to push anything unless and until she's 110%. It's not worth it. She has so many competitive years left ahead of her IF I give her every chance possible now.

So at this point, I'm not sure what to do or what to think. I'm going to see how she does over the next few days, and then perhaps I will have a clearer picture. I think it's safe to say at this point that our upcoming eventing season is suspended at this point until further notice. You never know, everything might work out, but... what's the hurry?

As today's Men's Super-G gold-medal winner Aksel Lund Svindal said after making a miraculous rebound from his horrible crash while training at Beaver Creek in 2007, "it doesn't matter if it takes you two months or ten, so long as you come back 110% percent." (Obviously in my case we're talking about a much larger timeframe..!) I'll do what it takes to get this mare back. If it takes us a year of doing nothing but trail riding and chilling out, I'll do it. Whatever I have to do to secure a sound future for her, I'll do it.

"You see the world in black and white
No colour or light
You think you'll never get it right
But you're wrong. You might."

Obviously, it seems like I'm handling this really quite well at this point. I can assure you... I'm not. All I can think about was how my first horse died abruptly after three years with me, and my second horse who had a major injury started to backslide after 8 months of stall rest and progress and died after not quite two years with me. I've had Gogo for three and a half and she's starting to backslide now too. I'm not sure what I've done to make the gods of horse ownership so angry. I try and I try and I do everything I can for these animals, they're my entire life. So why do things just fall apart despite all my best efforts? What am I doing wrong?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Crab Cakes

It's been onward and upward for Gogo and I this week. After Friday's fantastic jog-out, I got back on her on Saturday, a little nervous but hopeful that all would go well. It was, after all, the true test of how she was actually doing - whether or not she looked good on the ground was going to all be for naught if she felt off at all under saddle. I walked for about half an hour, doing simple work at one end of the arena, then went, okay... here goes.

And we trotted.

And...... she felt great!

My set of eyes on the ground, the same boarder who has been there to watch her all week, told me she looked fantastic. I kept the trotting to a minimum, going somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes, a little both ways. She was still pretty fussy with the contact, which I chalked up to being fresh at the time, but it was interesting - I've been trying a new bit these past several rides, and while I attributed the ridiculous antics she was doing immediately before coming up dead lame to pain in the RH, it was odd that she was still doing them but without any hint of ouchiness. It seems like there had to be a different cause, and the only thing that had changed was the bit. With it, she'd just been a total CRAB.

The new bit:

While we all love the famous blue bit (the mullen mouth Happy Mouth that happens to match everything else we own), she really tends to get quite heavy in it, and it's difficult to isolate the different sides of her body with such a cumbersome mouthpiece. I wanted to use something that still had the eggbutt rings, but had a more versatile double-jointed mouthpiece. This was my try, with an addition on top: a new metal that I haven't used before with her, a copper alloy called Cyprium. She was going so well in the KK Ultra Aurigan eggbutt snaffle that I thought I would try the knock-off version of it (because I really can't justify spending $200 on a bit!!). It DID make her salivate quite a lot, I am happy to report, but... in all honesty, I think that irritated her, as odd as it sounds. She went in it just fine, fine, fine, and then... BRAIN FART! Head tossing, sideways leaping... not ok. It just seemed so excessive. I took Gogo for a 20-minute outdoor hack on Sunday, and was surprised to find that when faced with something scary (the hay truck), she spooked, hit the bit, and about launched into outerspace with her head in my lap. Just a little bit, well... excessive! We all know she's fussy, but this was a little bit much.

So, I went back to the other bit, thinking that if the new bit was what was actually causing the issue, it would be resolved by going back to the one she already likes, and if not, then there was still an underlying pain issue we needed to address. Back in the blue bit yesterday, Gogo was super. Just SUPER! All the fussiness was gone. She was salivating plenty, and was predictably a little heavy in the contact like she normally is in that bit, but I think she really just likes the steadiness of it - it gives her something really solid to take and doesn't have all those annoying movable parts to it. Or well, if I was an obnoxiously fussy mare that's what I would think.
The weather yesterday was ridiculous - a mini Snowmageddon - but somehow I managed to shlep through all 8" new inches to get to the barn safely, even while the snow was still piling up. (For those of you that just got 3' of snow, I know 8" doesn't sound like a lot, and it isn't compared to what we get at home, but people in Connecticut just can't deal with this kind of weather and everybody freaks out and drives like grannies or crashes into stuff!) We stayed at one end of the arena and didn't do too much in the way of complicated things, mainly because every time we'd go down to the scary end of the arena she'd start leaping around, but for what we had to work with, she was excellent. And the best part was that she felt so good that we tried a little bit of canter - she was amazing! Going left she felt fantastic, but going right she was still pretty crooked, albeit much better than before. Oh well, we'll get there. We've got time.

So back to the blue bit for now, I suppose. We shall see if I can find anything more suitable that she likes. Probably not, but you never know!

Don't worry, I wasn't moving when I took that picture - everybody was piled up all trying to get down a hill safely. Like I said, Connecticut people can't drive in the snow!

Tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday, we dressage. Sunday, we hack. Monday and Tuesday, we go back to dressage, and if that all goes according to plan, it will be our first 6-day workweek in 5 months. I think she's looking forward to it, don't you?:

(PS: Make sure to go peek in at the blog's new chatbox on the sidebar. Leave Gogo a message, and she'll leave one back!)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Poster Child A Go-Go

I was contacted a short while ago by Emily Daily from the USEA reguarding one of the awesome pictures my mother took of Gogo and I at the AECs and whether or not they could use it for the Awards section of the USEA website. I said yes - who wouldn't! - and lo and behold look! There's my mare looking gorgeous, as always! A big THANK YOU to Emily and to the USEA for honoring us on their website, and another huge THANK YOU to Daun, the one who originally prompted me to send in my qualifications. How awesome is that!

Gogo continues to look better and better. I would say she's even sounder today than she was on Thursday, which is marvelous. Today she got turnout for the first time since Sunday, so I gave her a cc of Ace just in case she did something stupid. She was in happy la-la land, and was more than delighted to go outside and munch hay for an hour and a half with her buddies around her. Tomorrow I plan on getting on her again to see how she feels - the true test of how she's actually doing - and hopefully will be able to outline a better plan from there. Talking to Dr. C today, it sounds as though she likely just stretched out a very small adhesion to the point of rupture, and since there was nothing out of the ordinary in terms of heat or swelling in the leg, that it was probably pretty insignificant (I hope). A few fibers break up and get reabsorbed, and then off you go on your merry way, if all goes according to plan. If everything checks out OK, we might be able to try cantering again in about a week or so, just a little bit. We shall see how it goes tomorrow.

It's getting lighter out earlier, staying lighter out layer, and not dipping into the teens at night anymore - could it be that spring might be on the horizon? Let's hope so, I am itching to get out and try my barefoot shoes more! I am sick of the indoors!

(Gogo looking lovely at the 2008 Prix de Villes... I think all shows should have such fabulous ribbons!)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quick Update

Quick update about Gogo:

Happy to report that today Gogo is 99.9% sound!! Totally amazed and delighted to see it, way better than she was even on Tuesday. We've been aggressively icing and keeping her indoors (just treadmilling) in case there was some acute inflammation going on anywhere, but that leg is nice and cool today, I am happy to say. Maybe she did just sting herself, hard to say. No sign of anything higher up (thank god!!) and no sign of anything else out of the ordinary. I was starting to feel like all was lost but maybe not! Maybe, just maybe, everything will work out for the season. You never know! Chin up and keep going!

Send your super-ultra mega healing thoughts out way!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I can NOT has mystery death lameness!?

I've been silent for a few days for good reason. I have NO idea what is going on with my horse. It seemed like something horrible, and now it seems like nothing at all. Let me explain...

Thursday we cantered a tiny bit for the first time, right? We did much of the same on Friday, just a little bit of canter left and right (on an unfortunate yet large circle.... I felt as though on a straight line there would be much gallopy bucky death). On Saturday, I took her for a little mini-hack around the property - my plan was to start elaborating on the little hacks we've already done, adding five or ten minutes on every week, gradually starting to increase the level of hillwork we're doing. She was very, very well-behaved, albeit a bit tall when we walked around the far edge of the property and she spotted the neighbor's mini donkey. With Dr. C's blessing, I also left her wraps off that night, the first night she's gone without them in five months. The legs were way less filled than I expected them to be the next morning, and I was very, very excited.

Sunday, however, was a different story. There were two other horses in the arena with me, and the scary doors were rattling in the wind, so I spent a very long time doing simple walk work, mostly stretching and coming back up again. I trotted for a little while one way, trotted again the other way, then tried a little bit of canter going to the left. Much to my happiness, she maintained it on her own, managing to go an entire circle and a half! We walked for a little bit, then went the other way to try some other trotwork. She was being fussy and resistant, like she does sometimes, and at one point tossed her head around enough to draw the attention of my favorite boarder who was also in the ring. (I love all my boarders, but this one in particular manages to crack me up every day without fail. And she knows what she's talking about too.) "How's she doing?" she asked. "She looks great!" "She's being fussy," I said. She then threw her head around again, this time throwing in a couple of completely sideways leaps. "See, she did it again!" I said. "That looked to me like an I-don't-wanna-you-can't-make-me," she replied. I had brought her back to a walk for a moment, listening, then moved back up into the trot. And she was DEAD LAME. Dead hobbling, completely crippled lame on her right hind. I, of course, had a total heartattack and called the attention of the boarder back, hopping off in a total panic. I jogged her both ways for her, she jogged her both ways for me, and yep.... DEAD lame at the trot. Interestingly enough, she was totally sound at the walk. She literally was toe-dragging lame at the trot, although she seemed to very mildly improve the second time I saw her trot. Odd.

Back in the barn, feeling utterly miserable, I called Dr. C right away. We both thought it was odd that she would turn up completely hobbling mid-ride when she had been doing so fantastically, and Dr. C suggested that perhaps she had either stung herself, or that she had a small adhesion that ruptured. I was not sure, but we decided that rest was not going to hurt regardless, so we opted to stop her turnout for a few days, continue to treadmill her, bute her, and monitor her for any signs of heat, swelling, increasing or decreasing lameness, or anything else odd. We would reevaluate on Tuesday - if she was better, then it was likely that she stung herself or perhaps had an adhesion that had broken up. If she was worse or the same, then she'd need to be seen again by the vet. I buted and wrapped her, feeling horrible. If something else was wrong, and we had more months of stall rest, then that was it... our show season was already over before it began. She spent Monday doing little more than getting lots of love from me and walking on the treadmill once. There still was no odd swelling or heat anywhere, and she was walking sound. I still felt pretty sure that something was horribly wrong.

However, yesterday I pulled her out of her box when my favorite boarder came so that we could both get a good look at her, and took her to the arena to replicate the previous jogging situation. She hadn't had bute in her since the morning before, so I wasn't expecting any miracles. But... she was 90% better! Maybe even 95%! I about had a heartattack when I saw it, because I thought for sure that she would still be
dead hobbling lame. Nope, she was not! One thing I DID notice that day in particular was that there seemed to be a small increase in heat at the back of her fetlock, and that the blood vessels on either side of her fetlock (see a visual here) looked large and active, like they were actively pumping blood around that area. Since there was no damage the actual tendon itself, but there WAS inflammation in the actual tendon sheath, I have a theory. I don't think she stung herself because of how she was fussing beforehand - something was bothering her ahead of time. Between the tendon sheath and the actual tendon itself, sometimes bundles of scar tissue, called adhesions, can form. It's important to start low-grade exercise early on in a tendon injury case in order to attempt to keep these from forming, because these bits of tissue can cause the tendon to "stick" to other surrounding tissues, reducing their ability to glide within the tendon sheath. When these stretch and break up, they are extremely painful, but the pain, swelling and heat are short-lived (if addressed promptly) and off the horse goes to continue its career. My thought is that since her trot isn't huge, the motion of it didn't cause any stress to a possible adhesion in the RH, but that bit of canter was just enough for it to become stressed and stretch. (Why that didn't happen when she went leaping around like an idiot all those times, I don't know.) It might have been bothering her on Sunday, which is why she would have been so fussy, and when she went to leap around in protest, it broke up, resulting in that extreme and sudden lameness, and that bit of heat and mild swelling around the fetlock... and why she was SO much better yesterday. Going to the right, oddly enough, I'd call her sound. Going to the left, she's still short on that right hind.

But that's just a guess. Whether or not that's true... I don't know.

My hope is that this continues to improve, and we move on and put it behind us. I wouldn't say we're out of the woods yet, but if it were a more serious acute injury, she would still be hobbling lame. I'll keep you posted.... there's always the option of breeding this year instead of next.

Thursday, February 4, 2010



My original plan was to give it one more week of trotting for 20 minutes before starting our 5 minutes of canterwork next Thursday, but realistically I realized that there was no way we were going to be able to maintain a full five minutes of canter at this point. Just like when we started our trotwork, I began a few days early just to test out how she felt, just a time or two around the ring. So today, when everything felt right under saddle, I gave it a try. She had spent the morning doing little mini-aerials in her paddock (much to my dismay), so I expected her to be hot and spooky under saddle. She must have gotten her little itch out though in turnout, because she was quite quiet under saddle.

She felt weak. Like she wanted to buck and play and throw her head around and be silly but she didn't have the strength to. She was bopping up and down on both ends so it was a little bit of an ugly ride on my part, but Rome was not built in a day... everybody's gotta start somewhere!

And of course, when I say quiet under saddle, I mean not completely. There was a ray of sunlight that came in the door at the scary end of the arena that was VERY scary, so she of course had to terrify one of our other boarders by trotting past her, seeing the ray of light in front of her that then fell ON her while she was passing it, assuming that the ray of light was EVIL and made of poison, and doing an amazingly athletic courbette that looked exactly like this but even bigger. Well, god forbid the killer ray of sunlight get us, right..?

It's a loooooooooooooooong road ahead until we're back to this again....

................. but we're on our way. And no more incidents like the one in the video on course. Ever. Again.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

End of January Analysis, Ultrasound Updates, and Awards

It's February! I am happy that January is over, but I have to say, I am NOT a February kind of kid. January isn't so bad because I usually am still riding out the excitement of a new year and all the new hopes that come with it, but February is just bleak and cold and dark with nothing interesting to break up the wintery crappiness. (Don't even say Valentine's Day cause that doesn't count.) I am quite convinced that this February won't be the same though. I am in a much better place now than I've been compared to the last couple of years career-wise, future-wise, and money-wise, so I have plenty to buffer me against the crappiness of the month. Hey, it's already the 3rd, we've already got a good start!

Onto our January goals...

January Goals:

1) Continue sound trotwork and build to 20 minutes of trotwork - 50 minutes of riding total a day (we are at 40 now with 10 minutes of trot a day)
Success! Except for the fact that she had a voluntary week off this past week, due mostly to the fact that my boss was coming back for a few days and I get paranoid before ultrasounds, we did in fact build all the way up to a 50 minute ride with 20 minutes of trot, and she feels fantastic.

2) Talk to the vets about when to schedule her next ultrasound (I'm thinking instead of mid-January, we want to shoot for mid-February before we start to canter)
Success! I actually just went to the vet yesterday for another ultrasound but that will be for later in the post ;)

3) Take our first little hack outside (flat ground, around the barn)
Success! This one was my favorite! She's taking tiny little hacks around the property on flat ground and she LOVES it. I went on four - count them, FOUR! - little hacks, two of which were with company, which was very nice. I like having boarders to ride around with.

4) Set up show budget and breeding budget - how much do I need to save, how much each month, etc?
Success! I tend to do this on a lot of these cold wintery nights when it's far too miserable to actually go out and do anything interesting, or I'm too tired to bother doing anything interesting beyond hanging around under blankets on the couch with a cup of our apartment-famous spiked cocoa ;). It's good for me though because instead of sitting around unhappy because it's too cold and dark to be outside, I get to dream about the coming warmer months when it's awesome and warm outside and I don't have to be stuck indoors! My budget this year is quite larger than it was last year because I can actually afford it this year, hooray! It's all down on paper - how much I need for each show, how much I have already saved, how much I need to actually put away a month to meet my end financial goal - so now it's just a matter of execution. I have a baseline total budget for breeding too, based on the information everyone has given me concerning how much money they ended up plunking into baby from pre-conception to year two, but I will still need to do local research for how much individual procedures cost here in CT. Because you know, EVERYTHING costs more in CT.
But it's quite helpful to know things like that the breeder already told me she'd knock $1000 off the stud fee for my chosen baby daddy because of the special consideration that they give to performance mares. That $1000 will definitely be helpful going towards all those OTHER things you need to pay for in breeding.

5) Add incline work on the treadmill
I actually opted not to do this one just yet. I was cleared by Dr. Chope over the phone to do it but I ended up wanting another ultrasound before we put this one into the mix. But I am happy to report.... well wait, I can't tell you just yet, I have to finish the goals first!

February Goals:
1) Start canterwork, building from 5 minutes for the first two weeks to 10 for an additional two weeks, then resume regular flatwork sessions in the beginning of March
2) Map out a hacking plan - where to start with little hills, how to gradually increase... building over the course of a couple months to our regular 2-hour hacks
3) Add incline work on the treadmill
4) Wean gradually off the nighttime wraps to just every other night
5) MAYBE if everything goes according to plan and we are back to regular work at the end of the month, a trip to the beach!? (Just to walk around in the water and smell the salty air!)

So this all leads me now into our vet visit yesterday. I trailed Gogo in the morning up to see Dr. C instead of going alllllllllllllllllllllllllll the way to Tufts, which is much farther and literally about 10x more expensive (seriously, my ultrasound yesterday was only $85 and my last only ultrasound without anything added on trip to Tufts was $800!). Dr. C was the one who referred me to Tufts in the first place so she knows the case and knows the mare.

We jogged her out first and I got a terrible video of it. From this angle, you can't tell a thing, but she jogged out really well, whether or not you can actually tell in the video ;)

Back inside the clinic, we got down to ultrasounding, and one again found the RH to be totally clean. We obviously didn't expect to find anything, but we wanted to check the margins of the tendons from the residual tenosynovitis and found them to be all normal and looking great. Sweet! We also looked at the left and found the leftovers of the lesion, now completely filled in. I got to look at the ultrasound from yesterday and the ultrasound from the first time Dr. C looked at her, and WOW what a difference. And the original lesion wasn't anything shocking in the first place! The biggest difference was the size of the tendon from then til now. Back in October, the tendon at that area was quite enlarged. Now, it's back to normal size and I am happy to see that!! The area on ultrasound may never look perfect again. In fact, it probably won't. What is important at this point is her soundness. If she is sound on that leg and improving, that is what matters. We'll look at it again in two months on ultrasound and see what we have but all in all we're all thrilled with this progress. We're not quite 5 months out from the original injury and she's expected to make a full recovery and continue on as a competitive event horse. Not many tendon injuries have an outcome like this, especially in this amount of time. (Knocking on wood right now as I type.)

I am seriously overjoyed at the news. This is fantastic! Clearly there is still a ways to go but there is light now at the end of the tunnel. The tendon is strong enough now that I have been cleared to begin canter work and small hills, and can start incline work on the treadmill. I'm going to take the days that I "hack" her and start building them into real hacks, gradually increasing over the next couple of months to our full two-hour conditioning hacks with included trotwork. Excited! I outlined my season and what I'd like to be doing month by month, and Dr. C agreed that it sounds spot on. Yay!

Not only did I get that good news, but I stopped by my old barn yesterday on way home to say hi, and they gave me all the mail that had been accumulating there. Included in the pile was a Year-End award and yet another USEA award, this time an extension of the Rider Achievement award I'd already received. It appears they'd changed the Rider Achievement awards at some point last year to the Blue Ribbon Award program, so I'd actually earned BOTH without knowing it! AND I got my 4th place Year-End award

Although when I hang it up next to all the Year-End awards I won last year.... it looks a bit silly. What is it with Area I ribbons being so tiny compared to Area 8's? I love it just the same, of course, but I adore looking at my ribbons I won in 2008 every night before bed because they're just so big and fancy!

Shine on, my mare, shine on!