Monday, November 29, 2010

Welcome Winter...

We are finally seeing some light at the end of the snow and cold tunnel here. We went from this....To this (okay, this is in the mountains, but you get the picture) in a matter of days.
The days leading up to Thanksgiving, we were busy surviving almost record setting frigid temperatures, not to mention the wind chill factor. An arctic cold front from Canada came whipping down on us. . The day time highs were zero if we were lucky, the night dipping down to minus 20 with wind chills somewhere around 35- 40 below during the worst of it. It was a full time job keeping plenty of feed in front of the horses, making sure they were warm enough and keeping an eye on the water heaters, keeping the wood stove going and not to mention making sure our own vehicles kept running. If something is going to break, it usually going to be in the bitter cold. As it turns out, our Dodge diesel pick-up went on the fritz (while we were taking JB to the vet for his xrays a week ago no less.) and is in the shop for repairs. Like I said, if something is going to break…..Welcome winter...

While winter can come as early as October here, we don't typically see temperatures this low this early in the year. Fortunately, we were as prepared as we possibly could have been. The horses managed just fine and I didn’t even have to blanket anyone. The Morgans were clearly made for weather like this and it didn't seem to phase them. All the horses just hunkered down in their barns with hay piled up to munch on. Luckily after 4 days, the arctic blast lifted and the temperatures soared to 15 above. Balmy…atleast it felt like it after the 35 below…The horses thought so too as they ventured back out to the pastures and played in the fresh new snow. Once the cold moved out, we were then greeted by more snow. With the arctic cold and wind, most of the snow blew away but this next front was here to cover the landscape with lots of white stuff. Its been snowing for 5 days, each day adding just a few more inches. We have about 8 inches on the level I would guess. The horses have been froliking while I have been shoveling and shoveling and shoveling. I guess it’s a good addition to my workout routine..(silver lining??) I am hoping the sun will come out soon and I can get some photos. It makes for such a pretty setting. It makes me wish for a horse drawn sleigh!!

So, winter has arrived with a vengeance.I didn’t want to believe it , but maybe La Nina really has decided to come for a visit. If that’s true, I guess the best thing to do is embrace it because we have a long one ahead.

So , if you would excuse me. I’m off to bust out my snowshoes, my skiis and ofcourse, my shovel….

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Post Pastern Arthrodesis - Final Phase

April 28, 2010 is etched in my memory as one of the scariest days I have ever had to experience with one of my horses. This was the day JB found himself hung up in a gate, hanging upside down from his front right pastern.

May 21st, 2010- JB went under the knife to have Pastern Arthrodesis surgery to repair his damaged leg, facing a 70-80% chance of returning to a usable horse, and I , staring down the barrel of many months of doctoring him through his recovery.

November 20, 2010- is etched in my memory as one of the happiest days I have ever had to experience with one of my horses. 1 day shy of JB's 6 month post surgery and an appointment at the vet for his 6 month radiograph; the moment of truth; to see if the fusion was successful, if the joint had knitted together correctly without the body adding too much extra bone or calcification.

The result?

6 months of worry and work, fussing and fretting, lost hours of sleep, schedule changes....

The fusion was a success. JB has healed exeptionally well. In Pastern Arthrodesis, one of the main concerns is that the body will develop a large amount of additional bone or calcification at the site of the metal plate that held the joint in place (along with 5 screws) Often times, in response to the inflammation at the site of the plate, too much calcification can occur, and this makes it more unlikey that the horse will return to soundness. In JB's case, he developed only a small amount of calcification which should not hinder him. The vet was very pleased with how everything looked and the joint is solidly fused.

JB still short strides on the front right and this should lessen over time as the suspensory ligament and other supporting tendons adjust to the change in mechanics of the leg. The joint that is now fused will no longer serve to absorb shock like it once did. The other structures above and below the joint will have to take on the additional burden.
It's something I am going to have to keep an eye on over the course of time and possibly support with sports medicine boots.

So what happens now?

JB gets to go back out to a pasture for the winter. He gets to be back with other horses and during that time, he continues to heal and get stronger. Ofcourse, I worry about the footing. It's winter and it can get icey, but I am going to have to trust that JB will continue to take care of himself as well as he has through this entire process. He deeserves his freedom, afterall, he's earned it. It's been a long arduous process.

In the spring, JB will go back to work under saddle. The vet doesn't believe there is any inidication that he won't be able to tolerate limited distance in the future, noting that it may take 2 full years before that can happen but not to give up hope.

I wanted to say Thank You to all of my readers for all the support , prayers and encouraging words many of you sent our way during JB's surgery. Words can't express how much it helped me keep going, even during some of the more difficult days of his recovery.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's all about me.

"I should do it"... "I should just sit down and do a post.." This is what I have been saying to myself for over a week now. But... the truth is.. I really don't have much to post about these days. Nothing horse related anyways.....Sad.. really. So instead, you'll have to live through a post about me...

A couple weeks ago, I went to Scottsdale Arizona for a quick getaway to ring in my 35th birthday in style.

Okay, so last minute, my sis, mom and I decided to gallavant off Scottsdale, stay at a ritzy hotel, get served like we were royalty while we bathed in the sun, took walks around the desert golfcourse, swam in the pools, went to the spa for a massage, sat in the lavish steam room and just relaxed for a while. I gotta tell ya.. people that treat themselves to spas and fancy spa vacations on a regular basis have it all figured out. Normally, a vacation like this isn't my gig, but I figured since I had to turn 35, I may as well do something nice for myself and that was this little spa getaway. So, for 4 days, I enjoyed life without the daily grind of having to feed someone or something, no alarm to go off, no place I had to be.. just worry about myself.. I even , for the first time in my life, got myself a pedicure.. Aha! Now I understand why women go for these... Previously I usually scoffed at this idea . My toes sure look prettier than I have ever seen them before..I came home feeling totally rejuvenated and honestly, at 35, I feel better than I think I ever have.

Since I have been back, I have had to hit the ground running. Work is crazy. I leave in the dark and come home in the dark. It can be a brutal schedule. There are chores to do, mouths to feed, and my workout routine has gone back into full swing. With riding time being on the back burner for the dark days of winter ahead, I get to change gears and focus on my own conditioning. As an endurance rider, I have pretty strong opinions about the fitness level riders should be in. I think that if your going to ask your horse to carry your ass over varied terrain at speed, you had better be in good enough shape to hold your own and carry your own weight if needed. I have always been an active person, regularly went to the gym since my days in High School but two years ago, I hit a wall, gained more weight than I ever had and felt miserable. During this same time, sustained an injury to my left foot while out jogging and that set me back even further. I kept doing the same stuff over and over and going backwards. I looked bad and felt bad. I started researching a bit. I started slowly cutting certain foods out. I felt better so I cut out a few more foods and felt even better. This process went on for months. The last major jump I made was discontinuing my gym membership and getting in the best shape of my life.

Wait.... what???

Last December, I was disgusted with the gym scene. There had to be a better way. Right after that, A friend gave me a dvd excercise program to check out. I said I would, but only because I was trying to be polite. I wasn't the work out at home kinda girl. No way was I going to pop in a dvd and workout in my living room. I'd never do it.

That DVD set sat on my desk for two weeks before I finally decided taking a look wouldn't hurt anything. Well, here I am a year later. I went from not being able to do more than a couple push ups to being able to do over 20 pushups. That 90 day workout program turned into a 180 day workout program for me. It was the hardest thing I have ever pushed myself through, physically. I have never felt stronger or more durable in my 35 years. Thank you P90X.

I entered the summer months feeling great. My first few conditioning rides on Maggie didn't leave me tired and sore like they would have in the past. In many cases, I was able to get off and run for a few miles without a second thought. In June, I had a minor set back when Maggie spooked and bucked me off. It was actually a bad fall because she ran into another horse while bucking and when I came out of the stirrup, I twisted my ankle, landed on my left shoulder and bounced my head a bit. It was bad timing too. 3 weeks before my scheduled Limited distance on Maggie. I gimped around with it taped for a couple days and did the ice and anti-inflammatories for a few days but in less than a week, I was mostly fine. It hurt if I lifted my toe or squatted down but otherwise, I bounced right back. I credit those intense workouts that I had been doing all winter and spring for my fast recovery. I have sprained that same ankle 3 times now and it has never healed that quickly.

A week ago, I got back into my winter workout routine. I am starting something new for a few weeks. It's another at home DVD program. It's high intensity interval training. Having not done a regimented workout through most of the summer, I am using this new workout to limber up again. Once I complete that, I will go back to a combination of interval training and P90X.

Remember what I said up above about feeling better than I ever have at 35? Well, it has a lot to do with these workouts and my eating habits. As far as endurance, I am setting the stage so that not only will my horse go the distance, but so will I and isn't that the best feeling?