Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Another Round of Applause for Smartpak

You've heard me sing their praises before (see my totally Type-A spreadsheet, Savings with Smartpak), but I have to tell you that this company has done it again.  A while back, I switched Tucker off of his SmartGut (which had been keeping him symptom-free of ulcers) because it contains licorice.  I wasn't aware that licorice could be a problem, but one day while browsing the COTH forums, I came across a post stating that horses can't do USEF shows while on Smartgut.  Puzzled, since I couldn't find any of the ingredients on the USEF's forbidden substances list, I emailed USEF and received an email back confirming that licorice, though not specifically included on the forbidden substances list, is prohibited and cannot be fed 7 days prior to competing. 

So, I did some very in-depth analysis of various options using Smartpak's comparison charts (which are super helpful and completely designed with crazies like me in mind), and found out that if I put Tucker on SmartCombo (which I had wanted to do anyway, because I was looking to add a joint and hoof supplement), and added something with an antacid, like U-Gard, I could come up with a reasonable approximation of the same ingredients as Smartgut, minus the offending licorice.

Then, the other day, I saw something on my facebook wall about Smartgut paste.  This would be a perfect solution for Tucker on show days, since he gets a little tummy trouble when he travels.  (I've tried probios and ProCMC, and even human grade pepto, which are all okay, but not ideal).  Unfortunately, I was afraid I'd run into the same problem with the licorice.  The following dialogue ensued on Smartpak's facebook page (I've taken out the names of other facebook users, just in case they wouldn't want the free publicity here on the blog):

Smartpak  Announcing NEW SmartGut Paste! Now you can provide your horse comprehensive gastric support with the convenience of a paste. This formula will help keep your horse’s stomach tissues healthy during times of added stress, such as travel. SmartGut Paste is also the ideal complement to your horse’s daily gastric health supplement.

SmartGut® Paste

Comprehensive gastric support is now available in a paste! Research shows that nearly 60% of performance horses have gastric ulcers. SmartGut Paste provides a targeted selection of ingredients that allow natural healing mechanisms in the stomach to take effect.
[Another facebook user]  Would this be good for a horse with ulcers?
SmartPak Hi [facebook user], thanks for your question. Yes, since SmartGut Paste was specifically designed to support healthy stomach tissues, it is an excellent choice for horses prone to gastric ulcers. It is ideal to administer in addition to a daily gastric health supplement, such as SmartGut Powder/Pellets, U-Gard or U-7 Gastric Aid, during times of added stress (trailering, clinic, etc.), when your horse needs a bit of extra support.

Marissa Any chance Smartpak will make a version of this that comports with the USEF rules?

SmartPak Hi Marissa, thanks for your question! We are happy to clarify that none of our SmartGut formulas (powder, pellets and paste) contain any ingredients specifically listed as Forbidden Substances in the USEF Drugs & Medications Guidelines.

To learn more about these USEF rules, please visit this link: http://www.smartpakequine.com/health_and_nutrition/infoforcompetitors.aspx

For a complete list of the ingredients in SmartGut Paste, please visit this link: http://www.smartpakequine.com/ProductClass.aspx?productclassid=8685#fulldetail

Please let us know if you have any additional questions!
[Another facebook user]:  Even the regular SmartGut not the SmartGut ultra? Many forums have made it pretty well known that the SmartGut tests (due to licorice?).
SmartPak Hi [facebook user], thanks for your questions. SmartGut only comes in one daily formula (available in both powder and pellets). We do have another formula called SmartDigest Ultra, which is probably what you’re referring to. Both SmartGut and SmartDigest Ultra contain licorice. We are aware that there is some confusion out there about licorice, but we can confirm that this ingredient is not specifically listed as a Forbidden Substance with USEF. We hope this helps clear things up!

Marissa Hi there, thanks so much for clarifying. Just figured I would pass along the information I have, in case it is useful to someone. Unfortunately, although the USEF list doesn't specifically list licorice, I emailed them and asked about it ...and they confirmed that it is in fact a "forbidden" substance. For some reason, the list that the USEF publishes is not inclusive of every forbidden substance. It's unfortunate, because I had great results using SmartGut, and had to switch to another supplement for competition season.

SmartPak Hi Marissa, we can explain the confusion. USEF’s published list of examples of Forbidden Substances includes a substance called eugenol, which can occur naturally in some plants like clove. Although eugenol does not occur naturally in the licorice plant the way it does with clove, USEF has some concern about licorice being “mixed” with clove (which sometimes happens for flavoring), or the licorice plant having been grown in the same field as clove, and therefore having some cross contamination between the two plants. However, we recently sent SmartGut out for independent laboratory testing, and those test results showed that it is eugenol-free. In addition, the company that supplies the licorice for our SmartSupplement formulas now certifies that the licorice we’re using is eugenol-free. So, since licorice itself is not specifically listed as a Forbidden Substance, and the licorice used in our SmartSupplement formulas like SmartGut is eugenol-free, there should be no problem with feeding them during rated competition.
Marissa Excellent, thank you so much for that explanation. I have a feeling I will be making some adjustments to my horse's Smartpak soon!  
SmartPak  You're very welcome Marissa!
Marissa Do you mind if I re-post this explanation on my blog? I'd like to clear up a previous discussion about the licorice crisis :)
SmartPak Marissa, please feel free to copy and paste our explanations onto your blog, as we would love to clear up the confusion as well. We’d also love to check out your blog, if you feel like sharing the link! And thanks for being a great customer!

Are these guys great or what?  No question, Smartpak is hands down the official supplier for Tucker the Wunderkind.  The quality of their products are great, from what I've sampled, and less expensive than other brands, and their customer service is absolutely unparalleled. 

Given the above, I've made some changes to Tucker's smartpak, so he'll now be getting SmartGut, SmartHoof, Smart Flex Support II, and Cool Calories.  (Instead of his usual SmartCombo, U-Gard, and Cool Calories).  Smartpak, of course, is sending me a sample, just so I can be sure that he'll eat all his new stuff before I order a whole month's worth.  Assuming he finds the mixture palatable, I'm going to feel much better about him going back on the SmartGut, since that seemed to be the best help for making sure that he was eating well, keeping weight on, and staying comfortable. 

Next on my list... I have been eyeing the Smartpak blankets... Tucker's blankets are about 4-5 years old now, and starting to show their wear.  As you know, he is rather tough on his clothing.  For the first time this year, his Weatherbeetas have started rubbing his shoulders, which either means that they've lost their shape, or he's changed (possibly a combination).  I do like the placement of the shoulder gusset on those Smartpak blankets... and we know how good he looks in navy... hmmmm.  You guys may be getting another product review sometime soon!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Another Lovely Ride, and Big News for You Julie Fans

First things first, let's talk about Tucker (it's his blog, after all).  We had a lovely, fabulous, beautiful ride yesterday.  There were moments where I was overwhelmed by how special and awesome he is, like when he stayed round through his back and stepped lightly up into his right lead canter, or during the five minutes of actual working trot we did, when he got lighter, and more engaged, and stayed soft in my hand.  I love those moments.  Even though I can tell that he's out of shape and we are taking breaks a lot more frequently, physically Tucker feels fabulous.  His canter feels better than ever, for some reason.  I'm not questioning, just enjoying.  I've never felt a horse so happy to be back to work.  I guess there's no question that he loves his job.

And now, onto the big news.  I've been struggling recently with what the next step for Julie should be.  She is still in training down at Stones Throw and doing well, but I do want to sell her and it's been difficult coordinating those efforts with a horse that's 1,000 miles away.  Boarding is expensive in New Jersey though, and I can't afford to put her into full training with Alicia, and don't have time to keep a second horse working myself.  So I've been, understandably, at a total loss for what to do. 

As luck would have it, Allison, the assitant manager where I'm boarding Tucker, is retiring her mare and in need of a project horse. She and I had discussed this fact before, but we hadn't really gotten into the details.  So, yesterday I approached her about the possibility of taking Julie on as her project for the year, or until she sells, and happily, she agreed!  I won't bore you with all the little details of this arrangement, but suffice it to say that it looks like it will be mutually beneficial and financially very doable, for both of us. And of course, the most important part:  we are on the same page as far as Julie's training, what she should be doing, what the expectations are, etc.  We both agree that, since she's only just turning three this summer, the goal should be to work on her brain, keep the little lessons short and sweet, lots of ground work, trail rides, tagging along at horse shows to hang out and take in the sights, etc.  If she can hack around quietly at home, go for a walk in the woods, and generally behave herself away from home, sounds like a perfectly well-rounded three year old to me.

I'm thrilled.  I've gone from having no clue what to do with this little girl to being very excited about the next phase for her.  Of course, things could go wrong... Allison and Julie might not get along, it might take longer than a year to sell her, situations could change, so we are still working on some contingency plans, but overall, I think this is going to work out well.  So, for the moment I am staying positive and hoping that this will help me find the best possible home for Jules.  I'll keep you all posted once she has a move-in date!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Back to Work

"You're going to ride it right?  Please tell me you're going to ride it?" 

Uh oh.  This was the question that met me when I walked into the barn. 

I wandered down the aisle and found Tucker, who just came in from turnout, covered in mud and walking in circles around his stall.  He paused for a nanosecond to sniff me:  "Hi mom!  Sorry!  Can't stop!  Busy busy busy!"  He was like a kid on too much sugar (or, more accurately, me on too much sugar).  Apparently the spring grass has gone to his head? 

Tucker is clearly feeling all better and has been finding all kinds of ways to amuse himself (and drive the barn managers nuts) this week. Unfortunately, as you could probably tell from the lack of posts, I had a really busy week at work and didn't get to ride him at all this week.... Something tells me I better remedy that for the coming week, or Tucker may find himself equus non grata.

My endlessly patient and mildly exasperated barn manager proceeded to tell me that Tucker has torn the mats up in his stall every night, pulled all the blankets off his blanket rack every day, and has been generally disruptive, noisy, and annoying all week.  Lovely, buddy, just lovely. 
Her best story?  When she came back from teaching a lesson to find him wrestling with his blanket in turnout.  He had managed to yank it half way up his neck and his face was completely hidden from view inside the neck hole (are you picturing this?).  He was leaping through the air and striking out at it.  Fearing the worst, she ran out to the field, convinced he was stuck and panicking.  But no, oh no, he pulled his head out and looked at her, totally amused, and then went back to his game, grabbing the chest buckles in his teeth, then burying his face up to his eyeballs and boucing around the field like a wild 1200-pound puppy with a new toy. 

Only my horse.  Only. My. Horse.
Given his current state, I quickly booted him up and led him down to the indoor to run around while the ring was empty.  The second I unclipped the leadrope, he squealed and spun and took off at a full gallop, gobbling up the length of the arena in about ten strides.  He lept, he spun, he bronced, he bucked, he tossed his head, he struck out with his front feet, he kicked out behind, he squealed, he grunted, he whinnied.  I just stood at the gate and watched.  Uh... at least he's sound?  Even if... slightly deranged?  Then he trotted for a bit, and walked around snorting at things, and then went back to galloping a few more laps, and then when he was done, just turned and walked toward me, calm as could be.  "Ok mom, all better.  Man I needed thatPhew!"  I handwalked him for a minute or two and then got tacked up.
Despite the theatrics, I'm happy to say he was a dream to ride.  He was soft, and relaxed, and listening, albeit completely unfit and out of shape, so we took a lot of walk breaks.  He got some nice foam on both sides of his mouth, did everything I asked, and seemed to enjoy the work, which made me very happy.  When we were done, he stood on the cross ties with his ears up and his eyes half shut, licking his lips.  Much nicer horse than when I arrived.  That's more like it.  At least I know he misses me when I'm not around, right?
I actually forgot how lovely he is to ride.  Well, maybe I didn't forget, but I did get a new appreciation for what a fabulous horse he is, after not working him for so long.  So nice to have my boy back.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Still (horse) Crazy after all These Years?

I commented a couple of posts back about what a horse-crazy little girl I used to be.  Upon a little further reflection, not much has changed.  When people come into my office and see the (multiple) pictures of Tucker, they inevitably say "is that your horse?" followed by "is that you?"  (I have the photo at the top of the side bar in a frame on my desk.)  At this point, my lawyerly demeanor completely changes and I coo something along the lines of, "Yes... that's my baby...." 

In addition, I have a decidedly horsey brain.  Much the way someone who is bilingual might think in their first language, I think in "horse."  The following are examples of things that I have actually thought to myself or said out loud to others, in very recent memory.  They have all caused me to stop and blink for a few minutes in disbelief... over how my brain seems to... translate... certain things.
  1. "It should only take me 5 minutes to get tacked up," while deciding how long I can hit the snooze button while still leaving time to get dressed for work.
  2. "I need to wash these turnouts," referring to my own barn jackets.
  3. "My stifle is killing me," while walking to the train and realizing that the muscles in front of my right hip were sore (most likely from attempting to sit straight on my horse, for once).
  4. "I can't wait to get home and loosen my girth," after a particularly long day in a suit.  [When I had this thought, I actually rolled my eyes at myself so hard that I got a funny look from the person next to me.]
  5. "I'm short-coupled," explaining why I prefer jackets and tops that end at the waist, rather than the hip.
I also count strides as I walk, sometimes in a 1-2-3-4 rhythm (to establish my pace, of course), and sometimes to help me "ride a line," say, down the stairs, or between a set of double doors.  For example, the striding on the stairs from the train platform to the station goes as follows:  a steady four (from the door to the top of the stairs), a nice eleven (the first flight, where foot traffic flows well), and then either a direct two or a bending five (on the landing, depending on if I am on the right or left side of the stairs), to a quiet fourteen (the second flight, where traffic backs up).  How much do you want to bet that none of the other commuters know how many "strides" they need to fit in on the landing, and what pace they need?

I can't be alone in this.  Please tell me that some of you do this too?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stitches are out, and so is Tucker!

So, I took the stitches out on Friday night.  The wound did not heal as nicely as the wounds on his face did (though my vet warned me that would be the case).  There is still a bit of a ridge where the laceration was, which may go down in time.  I'm still keeping a very close eye on it and keeping it as clean as possible, but so far there are no signs of infection or complications.  Happily, he is quite sound on it, and it does not appear to bother him at all at the trot (haven't cantered yet, but I'm sure that will be fine too).  He has been sound at the walk but I was still sort of holding my breath until he took the first few trot steps and I felt his normal metronome-like rhythm.  So nice to feel that lovely trot again.

Not surprisingly, Tucker is FRESH.  The poor guy has done nothing but handwalk and bareback rides at the walk for the past two weeks, so it's completely understandable.  He is still perfectly relaxed and quiet at the walk.  As for the trot...  we can trot for about 2-3 circles before there is head-shaking and foot-stomping and mini-broncing, and general frolicking and carrying on.  He is mostly trying very hard to keep himself under control though, which I appreciate.  There was one rearing-pirouette move which I could do without ever seeing again... but the other horse in the ring with us left (before I realized she was leaving), which was understandably very upsetting.  Separation anxiety and all.  You know how it is.

The best news of all is that he is getting turned out again!  Thank goodness -- hopefully this will have him returning to normal horse mode soon.  I just hate the thought of a horse stuck in a stall, even when it is necessary, as was the case here.  Both days this weekend I worked him first before turning him out, and I think that was a good idea.  I also hung out with him in the field for a while, which helped keep him under control.  It seems that I make a decent turnout buddy, even though I don't roll and I don't graze.  I'm still pretty good company though, and there are usually treats in my pockets.  So, I'll do.

On Saturday when I turned him out, he rolled immediately, and I still had the lead rope in my hand as he did this so that I could prevent the taking off upon standing routine, which turned out to be a good idea.  I handwalked him around the paddock for a while since he clearly was wild-eyed with excitement.  Eventually I undid the lead rope but stayed close by, and he started off just wandering around with me.  Then there was some really impressive roaring and striking with the gelding across the fence, at which point he of course managed to get his foot semi-stuck on the bottom rail, and helplessly turned to me.  ("Hi.  I'm stuck.  Can you fix it?"  I just shook my head.  What does he do when I am not around?)  Once he was un-stuck, he commenced trotting the fence line, did some additional pawing, and let out some frustrated whinnies when he realized that the gelding across the fence could touch his girlfriend, while he was separated by double-fencing.  Totally cruel and unfair fencing arrangement, if you ask him. 

Then there was a brief minute or two where he displayed some wicked bucks, followed by a moment of total insecurity when he heard sirens on the highway and trotted straight to me, put his head down under my arm and refused to leave my side.  "Mommy!  Scary noise.  Hide me."  Silly horse.  I waited for him to settle down to grazing, and then slowly made my way out of the field.  He did some more calling to me when he noticed I was leaving (even though I'm not the greatest turnout buddy, I am still better than nothing) but eventually, he decided he'd just hang out and graze, and then spent a very quiet hour out there.

Sunday I lunged him before riding, because I wanted to give him a chance to get some of those monster bucks out before he was turned out loose and while I could control him a little.  Very, very impressive acrobatic displays.  I have never seen him buck so high and so hard.  After the huge bucks though, he was willing to start listening to me again, and trotted around very quietly and did some good stretching.  I got on and rode briefly afterward, mostly at the walk, and other than the rearing-pirouette moment, he was actually pretty good.  Sunday's turnout was totally uneventful.  Same routine, I walked him around a bit before letting him go, and then he just rolled and went straight to grazing and walking calmly around.  I left him out for two hours while I did some organizing and tack cleaning, checking on him every so often.  All I could see was the outline of his back, head down, occasionally shifting grazing spots.  What a sane, sensible horse I have.

So anyway, while I think it will take me about another week to get him to the point where he's sane, and then we'll have to work on our fitness level, we do seem to be well down the road to recovery.  So, the start of our show season is pushed back about a month I'd say, but in the grand scheme of things, I can't complain.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How Did You Get Your First Horse?

This post is in response to today's questionnaire at TLH:
  • How Did You Get Your First Horse? (This can also be "How did you get your first steady ride?")
  • Was it easy or hard?
  • What did getting your first horse involve?
  • Did you already know something about horses?
  • How old were you?
The story of how I bought my first horse is well documented on the blog (see, e.g., "Do you remember the moment") ... but my first steady ride was a fabulous little pinto pony who my mother somehow managed to half-lease for me. I still remember what she wrote on my 10th birthday card: "I wanted to make one wish come true, so your love Puzzle is leased for you." Money was tight, so this was a really, really big deal, and I knew it. I remember crying big huge tears of joy and my family being totally shocked at the reaction.

I loved Puzzle more than life itself, the way that only a horse-crazy little girl can love a naughty little pony. I thought about him constantly. I dreamt about him. Told complete strangers about him. When I wasn't riding him, grooming him, hanging out in his stall, or playing in his field, I was drawing pictures of him and writing stories about him. I pretended my "Misty of Chincoteague" Breyer was him. I cantered around the dining room jumping imaginary jumps, pretending I was riding him in a Grand Prix.

In truth, he wasn't all that fancy but he was a good jumper, and when he didn't buck me off or run away with me (which was a pretty common occurrence -- apparently he found me kind of annoying when I wasn't feeding him treats), we managed to get some good ribbons at some pretty big shows. It was a lot of hard work to help pay for it, but that pony was hands-down the absolute best part of my childhood.

It's true what they say, you never forget your first love.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

The Literary Horse is doing something fun this week... Reader questionnaires. Go check it out, today's question is "What is your first memory of a horse?"  I posted mine in the comments, a very special memory of a big anonymous horse that I met at a park.  I was probably around 4 years old, but I remember that moment clear as a bell.  Talk about a life-changing experience!  Can you imagine?  If I hadn't approached that horse, who knows if I'd even be telling you all these stories about the Wunderkind?  Maybe I would have developed an affection for bunnies, or hampsters, or iguanas? 

Haha, doubtful.  I think there is some kind of recessive horse gene that I'm carrying.  None of my family members have any particular interest in equines, though they do politely inquire about "Taylor?  Tyler?  That's right, Tucker," as he is affectionately called by most of them.  I did apparently have a grandfather on the Irish side of my lineage who rode horses, though I never met him.  Perhaps that's where all this came from.

So, in honor of my half-Irish heritage, I'm sharing my favorite Irish blessing.  I've always thought this was particularly fitting for horse people, and often imagined that someday when I have a beautiful barn to call my own, I will have this inscribed somewhere.

“May the road rise up to meet you,

May the wind be ever at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

And the rain fall softly on your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.”

Hope you all have a happy and safe St. Patrick's day.  Don't overdo it with the green beer now!  It's a school night, after all....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Meet Cocoa!

For this (almost) wordless Wednesday post, please feel free to oooh and aaah over Alicia's new puppy.  You'll note that Bean isn't sure if he likes her yet.  But I love her!

Don't you just love puppies?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tucker's Strenuous Weekend Activity

Tell me something.  Is there anything more relaxing in the world than sitting bareback on your horse while he happily grazes away at fresh spring grass?  I certainly can't think of any.  Aren't these pictures adorable?

Now you know what the view is like from up there.  Also, I've managed to find yet another reason to wear a belt while riding.  Serves double-duty as a rein extension to facilitate grazing:

Remember the last time my belt came in handy?

In other news, since Tucker isn't exactly giving me a workout these days, I ventured over to Whitmere and had some lovely rides this weekend on Reggie, Joe, and Tuck.  (If you can believe it, we now have another big plain bay to add to the herd, and his name is Tuck. Not only that, but Tuck and Tucker could be clones. More on that later this week....)  These boys were all just lovely to ride, each in their own special way.  All bay geldings... my favorite kind of horse! 

Catch riding is so good for me, it really makes me aware of my bad habits (you know, the ones that Tucker very kindly ignores) and reminds me to use my aids properly, plus it makes me put my thinking cap on and figure the horse out, like sitting down to a new crossworld puzzle, or opening up a new mystery novel.  How often do you all ride horses other than your own, or do you have several of your own that you ride?  Do you find it as helpful as I do?

Friday, March 11, 2011

VDL Auction, HITS Ocala

Happy Friday everyone! 

I still have nothing to report on the Tucker front, all is well so far -- no fever, no signs of infection, and the patient is managing to stay relatively upbeat despite his lock-down.  His turnout buddy is actually in for a couple of days due to an abscess (thanks for the solidarity buddy!), so I'm sure Tucker is comforted that he's not missing out on anything in the field.  It's been pouring rain here too, so at least yesterday he had a barn full of friends to keep him company. 

The point of this post, however, is to alert you to the VDL Auction, going on at HITS Ocala this Sunday.  Some of the horses that are being showcased are cousins of the one and only Wunderkind, so I for one will definitely check it out. 

I have already picked my favorite, and if I win the Powerball this week, he is going to be mine.  He is Tucker's cousin -- they share Nimmerdor as their grandsire.  He and Tucker would make a lovely matched set, don't you think?

To check out the rest of the horses, you can browse vdlauction.com or check out VDL's YouTube Channel.

Register here to watch the live event on Sunday.  (You can also register to bid for the horses online, should you have the means, or just feeling whimsical with your money.)  I will be tuned in!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nothing Exciting to Report...

... but that's a good thing! 

Tucker and I went for a very uneventful bareback ride this evening, which was delightful.  I decided that there was really no need for a saddle and I really do prefer the option of having heated seats... so, I kept his wool cooler on, tossed a quarter sheet over my legs, and we wandered around the arena for about half an hour all bundled up.  I tried to keep him going in a somewhat working walk as much as possible, but he has a pretty short attention span when it comes to the "working walk" so I alternated between letting him wander on a loose rein and asking him to actually go in a bit of a frame and track up a little.  Not exactly strenuous exercise, but it's better than nothing.

I got this lovely picture of him today from the barn manager, who took him out for some hand grazing.  The caption was "Shoveling in the grass!"  Made me so happy to see him out in the sunshine and munching away in the middle of my work day.  This does not appear to be a horse that is particularly stressed about anything....

And here is the hock as of tonight, post-cleansing.  Other than a little pink coloration in the flap of skin that was stitched back on, it hasn't changed.  Anyone have any thoughts on why it would be pinkish? It may be slightly less swollen in general than it was.  There is no tenderness or soreness around the stitches, no oozing, and his temp is normal, so at this point I'm not too worried about infection but obviously I'm keeping a close eye on it. 

Funny tidbit for you... I have a separate folder under "My Pictures" labeled "Injuries," mostly so that when I go into my "Tucker" folder to show people pictures of my horse, I'm not scrolling through what appears to be a series of pictures of a horse who has seen live combat.  (Of course, I still have to explain why there's a picture of a baby giraffe in the Tucker folder.)  It's kind of funny to browse it though, and see all the various and sundry ways my horse has tried to destroy himself, all gathered together in one gruesome collection.

Sigh.  There is a reason that I call him boo-boo.

The Healing Process Begins

So the past couple of days have been a crazy mix of emotions for me every time I think about my horse... fear, love, regret, relief, worry, comfort, concern, joy.  On the one hand, I am so thankful that he is okay and that it was nothing serious.  On the other hand, I stress every time he hurts himself, partly because there could always be complications, and partly because it reminds me how very fragile he is, outward appearances to the contrary.  And then there's the accompanying guilt, and knowledge that I probably wasn't using best practices and could have picked a safer spot to park my trailer... which prompted a grocery bag full of "mommy feels guilty" treats to arrive outside Tucker's stall on Sunday.  He's not complaining.

My vet came out and looked at him yesterday and she thought he looked good, though she did prescribe SMZs.  She has also nixed turnout until the stitches are out, which I understand -- we don't want him running and tearing them out, and it's so muddy out there lately that there's a high risk that the wound would get dirty and possibly infected.  The staff at the barn where I'm boarding are absolutely wonderful, and taking great care of him... handwalking during the day, giving him SMZs, making sure he has hay in front of him, making sure his selection of treats is properly administered.... 

I went out to walk him under tack last night, and he was very good, let's hope the good behavior lasts.  He seemed rather confused though.  First he took me over to the spot where I hang up my cooler after five minutes of walking.  "Time to work now right?  Let's get going, come on, take the cooler off, you know the drill."  Um, no, Tucker, just keep walking.  Then I got off after our 20 minute walk and he turned around and blinked at me in disbelief.  "You forgetting something?  Like WORK?  Please tell me that's not it.  Wait, I know, you're probably getting down to set up some jumps.  Good idea.  We haven't jumped since last weekend."  Nope, sorry buddy, that's it for tonight.  "What's wrong?  You not feeling good or something?"  No, Tucker, remember?  You're not feeling well?  Hurt your leg?  Emergency trip to the vet clinic?  "Nope.  I feel fine.  Can you get back on?"

And now, some pictures.  Telling his girlfriend about his ordeal:

"And there was this huge truck right?  And it was going to kill my mom...."

"Wow!  You fought a water truck?!  You're SO BRAVE."
"Yeah, I'm like, kind of a hero.  No big deal."

Our handwalk on Sunday:

Nom nom nom nom.  Spring is on its way!

The Drama Llama sees something in the distance. 
How does he get his neck to do that?

Then it started to rain, so we had to head inside to finish our walk:

How much longer do we have to do this?  I'm kinda bored.

What's in the bag?  Is it for me?  Huh?  Huh?  Is it?


And, of course, the carnage.  Looks pretty good right?  This is from last night.  Minimal swelling, staying clean, skin laying flat so far.  I know it's only been 2 days, but I'm pleased with how it looks right now.

Much less funny than the last time he had stitches though.  Can't really come up with any clever nicknames for this one. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

"How Lucky You Are"

"Do you have any idea how lucky you are?"  Dr. D said to me as she was bent over Tucker's right hock. 

"I'm hoping that means there's no tendon damage?" I said, as her attendant took the lead rope from me, making my way around to Dr. D's side, my heart pounding.  She then proceeded to explain to me that, had the laceration been a few milimeters deeper, Tucker could have sliced or severed his superficial digital flexor tendon, the large tendon you can see along the back of the horse's leg, above his hock.  This, Dr. D explained, would have been a career-ending, if not life-ending injury.  When she said this, I covered my mouth and turned away from my horse, literally sick and light-headed by the thought.  But, the good news is that Tucker didn't even go through the subcutaneous level, and as long as the stitches heal well, without infection, he should be just fine in about 2 weeks.

In my long absence from the blog, I've been very busy with my new job (which I love, by the way), and fitting in rides on Tucker whenever I can.  He's been working about 2-3 days a week (I usually aim for 4-5) for the past three weeks, but the rides I've had have all been good.  So we decided to take Tucker to a schooling show yesterday at Black River, about 5 minutes from the farm where I'm boarding, for Alicia to do a couple of low level jumper classes.  Tucker hasn't shown since November, so we wanted to ease him back into the process.  Should have been a very light day for him, no pressure, low stress.

I was expecting freshness, and he was certainly more fresh than normal.  (There was also a schooling show going on at our barn yesterday, with all kinds of ponies Tucker didn't know wandering around, so he was already in drama llama mode before I took him out of his stall).  So Alicia and I carefully unloaded a shaky, nervous, pawing Tucker from my trailer and I took him out for a lunge.  After running around for a solid 20 minutes or so (as opposed to his usual 5 minute spin), he finally seemed to calm down, and was trotting around with his head level and his tail relaxed, no big white circles around his eyes.  So I walked him around for a bit and then took him back to the trailer to get cleaned up and ready to show. 

On a typical show day, I come back to the trailer after our lunge and I can get our tack ready and get Tucker cleaned up and dressed without assistance, while Tucker happily grazes or munches on his haynet by the side of the trailer.  I was halfway through this process when the accident happened.  Tucker was cleaning up the hay that had fallen on the trailer floor, at the side door of my trailer, and I was getting his boots out of my tack trunk, with the lead rope in one hand.  Tucker heard a noise and stepped back from the door of the trailer, so I turned around and stepped out of the trailer, and was in the middle of telling him he was okay when he decided he needed to see what that noise was.  In the split-second it took him to spin around, I realized he was not going to fit in front of the water truck that was parked near us, but there was nothing I could do. 

His back legs hit the front of the truck as he spun, and I immediately saw drops of blood on his hoof.  "Oh no," I thought.  I couldn't get behind him to see, but I ran a hand down his hock and when I pulled it back, my palm was covered in blood.  Oh boy, we need a vet.  So I took Tucker over to Alicia and told her we were hurt and probably needed to see a vet.  She took a look and agreed that we should call someone.  My first thought was all the tendons in that spot, and I wondered if it was possible that he had done some real damage.  Stitches and cuts I can handle (I am used to that by now), but what if this was more?  He was walking sound though, and seemed completely unconcerned, and given how wimpy he is, that was a good sign. 

The staff at Black River were wonderful.  We talked to the owner who started calling vets for us, and told us to head into the barn to get him cleaned up.  The staff in the barn immediately helped us and carefully cleaned his legs with betadine scrub and water.  Their help made me feel a lot better already.  Tucker was a stellar patient, though he kept turning around to look at the leg, just in case we hadn't yet noticed that's where the injury was.

After a few calls to the vets in the area, we concluded that the quickest way to have him seen was for me to take him to the clinic that is right down the road, since the doctors were already there dealing with another emergency.  So I loaded Tucker back onto the trailer and we headed down the road. 

Once at the clinic, we took Tucker into the sterile examination room and got him sedated and ready for stitching.  It took two doses to get the big man sleepy, but finally he gave in and took a nap so that the doctors could do their jobs.  As they stitched, I stood at his head and couldn't stop kissing and petting him, just happy to hear that the injury was minor and he was going to be relatively fine.  Dr. D apologized for going a little overboard, but I explained that his horse is one-in-a-million, and she's welcome to go as overboard as she wants. 

They did a wonderful job of cleaning and stitching the wound, with lots of tiny little stitches close together.  I feel confident that it is going to heal well.  My instructions are that Tucker can get turned out as long as he's not going to run (or if turnout is not an option he can hand walk/graze), and I can walk him under tack for the next two weeks.  Walking will help keep the swelling down, but he shouldn't do any running so that the laceration has time to heal.  The wound is not bandaged because of its location, since a bandage would rub and irritate the area when he walks.  I'm just supposed to clean the wound out gently with betadine and water, and then rub with alcohol and spray with allu-spray.

My regular vet is coming out on Monday to do spring shots, so I'm going to have her take a look at him, just for safe measure.  The clinic did not prescribe SMZs, reasoning that it could unnecessarily cause stomach problems and increase chances of colic, which was probably a safety precaution because the don't know the horse.  Since our regular vet knows Tucker and knows that he's always responded well to SMZs, I want to get her opinion as well. 

So, sorry it took me so long to post, and sorry that this update brings bad news, but I figured that Tucker's fans needed to know about his little trauma yesterday. Plus, we need all those helpful, healing, loving thoughts that you bloggers and readers are always so kind to give.  I'll be sure to update more regularly and keep you all in the loop on the healing process.  Now that the first few weeks of the new job are over and I'm a little more settled into my routine, I should be able to find some time for the blog again.  I must confess that I haven't been keeping up with anyone's blogs... but I will do my best to catch up!  I hope you and all your horses have been well the past few weeks.

I'm headed out to visit the patient and give him lots of love.  I think I should stop and pick up some apples and carrots to help the healing process.  Maybe one of those hanging treats to help with the boredom for the days it's too wet and mucky for turnout?  Poor guy definitely needs to be doted on, hand and hoof.