When To Cry, “Uncle!”

cigar-and-me

While most of my latest riding and horse adventures are with Ike, his older brother Cigar still likes to keep me on my toes. Ike is sugar and spice and everything nice.  Cigar is piss and vinegar and, even at the age of 20, has enough chutzpah to give the most hardened New Yorker a run for their money.  But it is some yet-to-be-identified microorganisms that are currently challenging his hardy constitution.

It all started last Thursday with an early morning call about Cigar’s leg looking like an overstuffed leg of lamb with a fever of 103 degrees.  Cigar Day One  Our vet is out on medical leave,  so we called Ms. C’s vet who kindly agreed to take on the case.  She arrived at the farm before I did and had already administered some banamine to give Cigar some relief from the pain.  Unfortunately the diagnosis was lymphangitis.  From what I have been able to tell, it is a difficult condition to treat, it can take weeks to resolve, and the prognosis in many cases is guarded.

The past week has been a blur of twice daily trips to the barn, cold hosing, sore cleaning, pill grinding, syringes and needles, and praying.  I have had to face my fear of needles and put on my ass-kicking boots to give daily shots of antibiotics  (33 mLs of liquid split into 3 doses in 3 spots).  I had to remove sutures and a catheter that Cigar objected to having in his neck.  I have had to control my gag reflex as I cleaned the nasty looking sores on his leg.  Worst of all, I have had to face my worst fear of saying the final goodbye.

It is anguishing to have to look down that rabbit hole.  You worry that you are too hasty.  You worry that you will wait too long and your friend will suffer. You wonder what last ditch drug or procedure can save your horse.  Your eyes leak until there are no more tears to fall.  Where will be his final resting place?

On Wednesday, we were worried about Cigar’s leg and hoof.  The entire coronet band was engaged in an epic battle with the microbes.

Cigar hoof.jpg

Not for the faint at heart…

 

There were real concerns that the hoof was separating from the leg.  Dr. E consulted with Dr. C and they recommended x-rays for the hoof and leg.  I agreed since it would confirm or assuage our fears.  While Dr. E went to retrieve the x-ray equipment, Cigar peacefully grazed.  It was gut wrenching to realize that these could be his last hours. At least he would never know the anguishing pain.

Cigar grazing.jpg

Dr. E returned with the equipment with Dr. C right behind her to help and give a second opinion.  Cigar tried his best to be cooperative for most of the images, but he did drag me out of the barn at one point, and I like to think that it was his way of telling me that he was not yet ready to cry, “Uncle!”  Thankfully the x-rays confirmed no separation or other mitigating issues.

Yesterday, Cigar tried to kick Ms. C with the infected leg and then gave a valiant attempt to trot away from us to avoid the bute paste in his mouth.  He then wouldn’t keep his head and neck still for his antibiotic injections.  (Can’t say that I blame him since his neck has been a pin cushion for 8 straight days…)  For those who don’t know Cigar that well, all of these are very normal behaviors for him.  Cooperation is not his strong suit.  “No” is his go to position.

The return of his headstrong personality gives me hope.  This is the time of year to give thanks and feel blessed for the people and animals in our life.  I am eternally grateful that my old man will be with us for the foreseeable future.

alison

 

 

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

So show season is over.  We have submitted our year end award packets.  The trailer has been cleaned.  My show coat has been mended.  Memberships for next year have been renewed.  Fall shots have been administered.  The saddle fitter will be stopping by soon for a saddle checkup.  So what does that leave us to do with our time?  Plenty.

 Next year we (okay, okay, mostly me – Ike doesn’t much care what we do) want to make the leap to Third Level.  That means there are some mad skills that we need to acquire over these winter months to be ready for the challenges presented at this next level of dressage.  We wasted little time after the championship show to get back to work since a quick read of the Third Level tests shows that there is some work to be done.

 Having just spent the past year working on and improving our Second Level work, I have a higher degree of confidence in our collection skills, but Third Level means no more half-assed collection.  Do or die, there is no try.  Fortunately Ike is working well in the snaffle, so we can save the double bridle for another day.

 Medium gaits…coming.  Extended gaits…umm, what are those??  As long as Ike doesn’t decide that a potty break is necessary during the test, we can approximate an extended walk.  An extended trot?  We will take our 5 and hope that Ike continues to develop his pushing power.

 Half pass.  Well, I have more to learn about riding a correct half pass than Ike does.  One must move the shoulders first, the shoulders.  And much like shoulder in, the rider needs to keep their weight in the correct place despite where my horse tries to put me.

 Turn on the haunches?  Sigh, I was saddened to see that they follow us to Third Level.  We will continue our efforts on this as well.

 And then there are the flying changes. Left to right is usually easier since Ike wants to shift his weight to the right hind.  Right to left needs to be ridden a bit straighter or we only change in the front.  Thankfully we have not lost any shoes during this scrambling moments.  The downfall to teaching the changes?  Someone starts to anticipate them and gets a bit strong in the hand.  The solution?  Canter-halt transitions, canter-walk transitions, or staying in countercanter.  All of these require that I use every skill I have in my arsenal to make Ike listen.  I can thank Cigar for my ability to stay astride during Ike’s panicked moments…and I still have the double bridle available if necessary. 

Stay tuned. We will let you know how how are winter homework is progressing.

alison