Thursday, May 27, 2010


I had to post this correction, just in case some of the readers don't read comments! It was not Ritalin that JB is on . It is Resperine, which certainly has it's side effects but quite a bit better than Ritalin!!!

Sorry for the misinformation.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ritalin Use in Equines

We are all familiar with this "wonder" drug for the apparent ADHD issue that everyone claims to have kids diagnosed with these days. I worked in MH and I know the bad of Ritalin, atleast in kids, such as changing the chemistry of the brain , permanently. But horses????

You can imagine my surprise when my vet suggested Ritalin to help keep JB as calm and relaxed as possible for his recovery. I had never heard of it's use with horses. Apparently, it's widely used in the show world and the racing industry. My vet assured me that is was safe for short term use and since I know how JB can get a bit nervous and worked up , I agreed; atleast for the first couple of weeks, but I have some trepidation about it.

I tried to see what I could find out about it on line , but there really isn't much.
My eventual plan is to switch to something like the SmartPak product Smart Calm Ultra .

In the meantime, does anyone have any experience using Ritalin in horses? Side effects? Things to be careful of?

Looking forward to hear any info anyone might have on this subject.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Moving Ahead with other Plans

I was going to wait to write this, but I was itching to post about something a little on the lighter side, some good news. Afterall ; it's been like living on pins and needles here these days....

While JB recovers, there is another little horse that needs my time and even through all of this over the last several weeks, I have managed to continue to ride Maggie. Every Saturday and Sunday, I have been taking her on 2-3 hour rides. We have managed to make some great strides in the last few weeks together.

We have passed through knee deep snow, waded in deep water, chased mountain bikers (only the rude ones!) and even crossed paths with a black bear. We have passed hikers, marked trail for a poker ride and even managed to keep our wits about us when another horse blew up in front of us.

Yesterday, we rode up into new country. A trail called Wild Bill trail ( how appropriate..)was the intended location. We climbed to about 5000 feet in elevation, taking various trails only to find outselves hitting dead ends. For the first hour and a half, we were lost for 80% of the time but having fun nonetheless. Pretty soon, the snow starting to come down which then turned to hail, which proceeded to come down very hard and fast. The visability was horrible and I could barely make out Maggie's ear's. I wasn't too concerned as I knew it was a passing squall but it was certainly taking it's time to pass. We rode along, (still happy since we were riding !) wet and covered in ice pellets , several of which had made their way down my back by now when finally, we discovered the trail we had just spent the last 2 hours looking for. YIPPEE!! In the midst of all this excitement, we turned a corner, only to find a large bull moose standing right in front of us. RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME SINCE I WAS IN THE LEAD! (thus the reason for being lost most likely) He couldn't have been more than 20 yards away. With the snow and wind, he must not have heard us (my friend and I weren't exactly being quiet either complaining about the snow storm we were in) but there he was, in all his glory,standing taller than what a 16.2 hand horse would be. Maggie, as surprised as I was, just stood and stared. There wasn't an ounce of fear in her. Luckily, the moose decided two of us was more than he really wanted to deal with and dashed off through the woods. Phew......We turned back and headed the way we came , partly because he headed in the direction we needed to go and partly because in order to continue down our newly discovered trail , we were going to have to cross chest high water. We decided to loop back (we were scouting new trails and doing alot of back tracking) and found another trail , only to find ourselves back in the same place we had just left... and wouldn't you know it, there was Mr Moose again !! This time he was a bit futher off thankfully. Maggie seemed fascinated by him. I was just counting my blessings that it was a bull and not a protective a cow with her new calf. We would have been in more trouble if it were. We turned back around for the last time of the day and headed back to the trailer, about 4 miles down a forest service road.

So, Maggie has picked up where JB left off and we are logging a few LSD miles with good success. She has even taken to drinking out of puddles along the way as she sees fit. She takes good care of herself. I really like that about her. She's unsure about alot of things at this point, but for less than a year's worth of riding, I think she is doing quite well. Confidence will come in time.

More wet saddle blankets... please.

Time to Heal

It's not fair when your goals are suddenly scattered like spring time dandelion seeds in a gust of wind.

It's not fair when the road that was paved with promise suddenly turns into heart break.

It's not fair when your best friend for the last 8 years can no longer go with you to chase down a few miles on a sunny afternoon.

It's not fair when that friend who you have carefully raised and taken every precaution to keep safe and healthy suddenly becomes incapacitated.

It's just not fair...

and yet... Life carries on.

There are other horses , other work that must be done. You deal with the challenge and you get on with it. You change your course of direction, you adjust your focus, you do what must be done. You push through , you endure. And isn't that what Endurance is all about anyways? Endurance to keep going, regardless of the demons you face along the way. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and make the best decisions you possibly can. Sometimes, not because you want to , but because if you don't, you will crumble.

JB had surgery on Friday, May 21st. The surgery went well and he is now home recovering. He is on medication to remain as quiet as possible. He is going to be laid up for a long time, 2 months of stall rest , in addition to the 3 weeks he has already endured. It's alot to ask of from a horse like him and yet he has surprised me at how well he has adapted.

He requires much more of my time these days, but for different reasons. Our relationship has developed a new layer. These days, our time together is about healing, time to comfort and care for him , and time for patience, with each other. There will be time spent giving him long grooming sessions, massage and body work sessions and then just time to be quiet together. He's adjusting as well as can be expected. We have a long journey to endure together.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Update on JB

A horse can lend it's rider the speed and strength he or she lacks- but the rider who is wise remembers it is no more than a loan.
(Pam Brown, b. 1928)
The photo above was taken 3 days before his accident. He was having an absolute blast tearing around the arena.
Quick update on JB; He has been back at home for almost a week and doing reasonably well with his stall confinement. I will be taking his cast off tomorrow to see how the crush injury is healing. The vet took it off last Wednesday and all looked well then. If everything still looks good with no sign of infection, then he gets the clearance for surgery from the vet.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Terrible Accident

The above picture is of JB's leg in a cast. Sorry for the quality of the photo but I took it with my phobe. I can barely bring myself to write this post, but sometimes writing can also be healing for me. I am still in a bit of shock and just trying to deal with all the complications of what has happened.

Last Thursday , April 29th something happened to JB. He was in a terrible accident. I was just leaving from work, when I received a call from my husband to get home quickly. The neighbor had just called him and said that JB was caught in a gate and was hanging upside down from his leg and was in big trouble. “ Get home now..” was Tom’s last words before he hung up the phone. Tom was only a mile from home at that point. I was still 12 miles from home, stuck in 5:00 traffic.

As terror ripped through every cell in my being, I managed to think clearly enough to call my vet. Even if I couldn’t get there quickly, atleast the vet could and meet Tom at the house. I knew for sure that whatever condition JB was going to be found in, he would need a vet.

I made it home in record speed. The vet was already there. I ran around the barn to find JB standing at the horse trailer, soaking wet, full of mud and trembling uncontrolably. His front right leg was bleeding and he was not bearing weight. He nickered when he saw me. The vet had already given him bantamine and a sedative and was waiting for it to kick in so he could be examined. I threw a second blanket over JB to help keep him warm and hopefully stave off any further affects of what was clearly shock setting in.

Tom filled me in on the details. Somehow JB managed to catch his front right leg in between the top part of the gate where it is attached to the barn. The problem is that how he did it is still a mystery. There was absolutely no gap between the barn and the gate. We build all of our gates this way to prevent this exact nightmare. And here we were. Needless to say, JB managed to get hung up. His front right foot was up in the air and JB was on his back underneath the gate. It’s hard to imagine, even now. I have probably gone to look at that gate 100 times in the last 72 hours trying to figure it out. My best guess is that he reared up, came down with his front feet on top of the gate, which is 6 and half feet high, and as he tried to get his feet down, his feet must have slid to the left and his right foot got caught in the process... somehow… The weight or angle or both must have been enough to force his foot down between the exterior wall of the barn and the gate. We have no idea how long he was in this position. The UPS driver was who noticed JB in his predicament and alerted the neighbor, who then called Tom.

Tom was able to unbolt the gate and get JB free. He said JB jumped right up as soon as he was free but it was obvious his front right leg was not in good shape. It was bleeding and he was not putting weight on it. The vet got there shortly thereafter.

As Tom caught me up on the details, I stood there trying to offer whatever comfort I could to JB, the freezing rain pouring down on us while the vet examined him. His foot and pastern was “sloppy” (sloppy meaning there was too much lateral movement. We needed to get xrays to see what was going on, possibly something broken. We put a temporary cast on him and got him loaded in the trailer.

The xrays revealed , to my surprise, no broken bones. But, nearly as bad, maybe worse. It appeared he had torn his medial collateral ligament (MCL) of the short and long pastern bone, or the proximal interphalangeal joint. This was the reason for the “sloppiness “ of the joint from side to side when the vet first examined the foot. Normally, xrays are not the best diagnostic tools for tendons and ligaments. Ultrasound is the more traditional method but the vet was able to maneuver the joint in such a way that allowed a clear image, showing the displacement of the joint, indicating clearly that the ligament tear.

The treatment:

My vet encouraged me to have the radiographs reviewed by an advisory board at Pullman. He felt that they would be able to give me a more accurate prognosis , because they would obviously see more of these types of injuries than he would . He would be able to email the radiographs over night and have an answer the next day.In the meantime, the vet put a cast on and JB stayed the night at the clinic.

I went ahead and had my vet send off the radiographs and Friday I spent the day waiting to hear back .

The options are complicated. For right now, JB has to be in his cast for about 10 days until the swelling has come and gone. JB also sustained a crush injury to the tissues just above his coronet band. That has to heal. For right now, JB is on stall rest and he has to be on even ground. Since I don’t have a stall, I have him at a boarding facility about 3 miles away. Atleast for now. The plan is to get him home and we started making that happen this weekend (more on that later).

In 10 days, he will be ultrasounded, and recast again. This cast will be more permanent, for 6-8 weeks. JB would remain on stall rest for 3-4 months. Assuming he is healing well at that point, the cast can come off and then he can be moved out to a small paddock. That’s assuming everything is healing as it should and other complications don’t arise along the way. The final outcome of this method,which I'll refer to as the conservative method for now, is that JB would be a horse that might be sound enough for a pleasure but would have arthritis complications for the rest of his life…most likely.Ofcourse, every horse is different so my vet was not able to be more specific than that.

The other option is to put JB through surgery and fuse the two joints. The vets at Pullman that reviewed his radiographs thought this would be best option if JB is to stand any chance of recovering to full use, but as with any surgery, there are no guarantees. They felt that he would most likely be able to go back to work as an endurance horse if the joint was but there is always a risk. Ofcourse, the other down side is that the surgery is very expensive. On a good note, if I do opt to do the surgery, there is a surgeon that can come here from Great Falls, and perform the procedure. The recovery and rehab period would be a total of 6-7 weeks. With a fusion, there would also be no risk of arthritis since the joint is one unit, so to speak.

At this point, I haven’t made a decision yet. I have to consult with my vet further, I have lots of additional questions. Since JB has to get through these first 10 days,I do have a little bit of time to make a decision.

Right now, JB is at a barn about 3 miles from home. I'll try not to over exaggerate but it's a dreadful place. It's noisy and stressful there for him and he hates it. It's dark in the barn and there is an arabian stallion across from JB's stall that is completely out of control. Keeping JB quiet and as stress free is going to crucial to his recovery. That's why I am getting him out of there by Tuesday. It’s killing me to have him away. For the last two days, I have restacked 6 ton of hay to one side of the hay barn so that we can get a section set up for a stall for him. That involved getting my brother to come up with his skid steer to scrape down the dirt floor of the hay barn for an even base for gravel. A truckload of gravel is coming tomorrow. I will then place rubber mats down, section off a 12x12 stall using panels, which will then have plywood attached to the inside of those panels to make them completely risk free.

Right now, I can’t think about 3 months down the road, I am only taking it moment by moment. Getting JB home will help my emotional state, as well as his. I am hoping I can then think a little more clearly. His body is hurting, his nerves are tattered. All I can do is everything for that horse right now.

To all my blog readers, I hope you keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We need all the help we can get right now.