Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What Was I Thinking?!

This has been a bit of a rough year for me. I've been sick quite a bit, plus I've had to deal with the loss of two of my horses. I'll be the first to admit that I've been using all those things as an excuse to take it easy and slack off a bit.

All that is behind me now. It's June, I'm feeling good and I've got three great horses to ride. 

And then the realization hits me..... "Oh, crap! My flabby rump needs to ride and train three horses!"

So, I made myself a schedule. It was an excellent schedule, in which Spider was ridden 5 days a week, Jack was ridden 4 days a week (because he's only 4), and Spots was ridden 3 days a week by me and gave my kids a lesson 2 days a week. I only had to ride two horses a day for 6 days a week, and none on Sunday. It was perfect.

It was perfect, until I realized that Spots needs a little more training than what I can give him in 3 days a week, and if there's bad weather I ain't riding anybody, so then I end up playing catch up the next day. So, my schedule is now "Ride as many horses as you can in between all your other chores and crap you have to do and hope they all get ridden". 

When I was younger, I used to shake my head in wonder at the women who would pay me to ride their nice horses. I just couldn't figure out why on earth they wouldn't want to ride their horses themselves.

I totally get it now, and I will never disparage the middle aged lady who wants someone else to ride her horse a few days a week again.   I can't wait for my kids to get old enough to train some of these horses all by themselves!

Ears. All I see is ears.

All day.
All night.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Old Horses

Most of us will outlive our horses. A horse's lifespan is only 1/4 of a human's, so we will inevitably have to make the hard decisions about how and when to end their lives. 

Last winter, Vinny had a bout of choke. Choke, in horses, is when something (usually food) obstructs the horse's esophagus and prevents them from swallowing. It's not a life threatening condition by itself, but if it doesn't clear on its own the horse can quickly become dehydrated and/or colic. It can be treated either by taking the horse to a veterinary hospital and administering IV fluids and banamine until the blockage clears on its own, or by running a tube down the horse's throat to manually clear the blockage. 

When Vinny choked last winter, I chose to have the vet come out and tube him. Vinny was not on board with this idea. It took 3 people and 1.5 ml of dormosedan to get him tubed, and then over an hour to clear the blockage because he was still fighting. 

After the choke, I changed his diet completely. No more beet pulp, no more alfalfa, he got softened senior pellets broken up into four feedings a day so the portions would be small. He also saw the dentist, who confirmed that his teeth were fine. 

Last week he choked again. He choked on two cups of soaked senior pellets. It was obvious that something wasn't right. 

Vinny was a grey, and he had a lot of tumors. The largest one was on his chest. I had it biopsied when it first appeared, and it came back benign at that time, but it had begun growing and changing in the last few months. 

So, I had a 28 year old horse with a huge tumor on his chest who was choking on seemingly nothing and was going to violently fight being tubed. There was no way I was going to have him tubed again, and it wouldn't really be fair to haul him two hours to the nearest vet hospital, either. I called the vet, and explained what was going on. We decided to give him banamine and a bolus of fluids, then wait to see if it cleared on its own. 

The choke did clear on its own after only a few hours, but he still wasn't quite right. He was lethargic and there was a necrotic smell to his breath. The vet came out the next morning to perform a full physical exam and confirm what I already knew.  

We probably could have pulled him through this time, but for what? The choke was likely being caused by a tumor somewhere in his chest. The vet confirmed that the necrotic smell was a sign of cancer and she also said his lungs sounded occluded, possibly from more tumors. The choke just would have happened again and again, and the tumors would have eaten him up until his body finally gave out. That's not humane. 

I made the decision to euthanize him now, rather than put him through any more tests, procedures and chokes. He was always a dignified old bastard, even when he was being a complete asshole, and he deserved to die with his dignity intact. 

I lead him into the dressage arena for the last time, and he halted himself right at G for his final salute. He went quietly, just laid down like he was taking a nap. 

It was a rough decision for me, but Vinny handled it with grace and aplomb. He and I both knew it was time. I'm glad he went without any pain or suffering.  I'm glad I was able to give him the ending he deserved. 

The last picture of the Old Man.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

R.I.P. Vinny, 1986-2014

You were always a rank-ass bastard, and I didn't learn any dressage from you, but you taught me how strong I could be, and you showed me how to be the rider, trainer and person I wanted to be. For that, you will always be my Schoolmaster. 


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