Thursday, March 26, 2015

Otto Post Surgery Update and other stuff

Sometimes, life  hands you lemons and it's just that. No lemonade to be made . You just deal with it the best you can and keep going because what else can you do?

Last week a family member had a medical emergency following a surgery that required transport to Seattle and another surgery. That makes 4 surgeries all total to fix what should have been one surgery. It scared the holy shit out of all us. Its been difficult. We have all been on pins and needles but hopefully we are past the worst of it now.  Having worked in the healthcare industry for 20 years  I know some of the nightmare stories out there , but what happened to my family member is just beyond acceptable. I really think that it will have to be life threatening before I opt for any kind of surgery to repair crucial body parts.. and even then I might hesitate after seeing what has happened, the mistakes made, the complications due to miscommunications, etc. Ok, enuf about that.

The weather turned back to a wintery mix of cold rain in the valley and snow in the mountains this past week,  which is probably just as well because I ended up flat on my back with the flu. I was never so thankful for a job where I don't have to leave the house because I literally couldn't leave the couch for three days. I was able to atleast work a few hours a day and not eat into my sick bank too badly. It was almost as bad as the H flu experience I had last June, but not quite. Today is the first day I feel like I can be in an upright position for more than just a few minutes. It 's amazing how walking to the laundry room to throw a load of laundry in was enough to completely wipe me out for the next hour.

Ok, so to get to the main reason I was posting. I didn't really anticipate writing this post because Otto has done very well, no issues since his castration in spite of his complication. Then yesterday I noticed , in my feverish haze, that he looked a bit more swollen than I had seen him look at all throughout this entire healing process. I lunged him and it seemed to be better later in the day. This morning, his sheath was twice it's normal size and he didn't want me putting my hands any where near him. My vet was nice enough to swing by on his way through to another appointment.

We thought we were out of the woods but more than likely because of the additional digging around and the area where the vein was stitched, he's  got an infection brewing up in there.. so he is back on another round of antibiotics. If that doesn't work, the vet will have to go in and remove the knot.

I really hope it doesn't come down to that.. but I guess I will just prepare for the worst.
Next week I am on vacation and will hopefully be feeling well enough to get some riding time in, get my jumps set up in the outdoor arena, and start repainting my rails. I also ended up getting a great deal on some additional rails so I will have another 20 rails  to paint. That should be enough to set up a pretty nice gymnastic jump sequence that I can start working on.

That is ofcourse, if I can ride in my saddle. For whatever reason, the jump saddle that I bought last year and thoouugghht fit me and Brego is suddenly driving me crazy. It's putting me too far in the back seat. It's like I posting up out of a hole. I guess when I think back, I was kind of having that trouble last year but I thought it was just me, like a weakness in my position . But,  then I saw a couple of pictures taken at the recent jump clinic.  My leg really is too far out in front of me and the maddening thing is that no matter how hard I try, I can't get my leg under me.  No pad is going to fix that. The problem , I think, is that my thigh length is too long for the saddle, (not that I have long legs) which means I need a bigger seat size. I  can't even begin to think about this right now because the thought of saddle shopping again makes me want to turn green.
I really, really really loved my little Collegiate Apprentice (designed and stamped by Tad Coffin even!) I found because it was almost the same saddle I grew up riding in, plus I got a really good buy on it. Guess I am going to have to figure out what is going to fit me right and try to eventually sell this one.  Ofcourse my ideal saddle is either a Tad Coffin or a Antares.. neither of which I have the budget for!

So all in all, it seems Life is complicated, busy, and unpredictable these days for us.  We have other potential hurdles we are going to be facing in the next couple of months that could really complicate things for us. It's too soon to know anything yet but I can say that it's a hurdle I will welcome in spite of the difficulties it might create.

We had initially planned to take a road trip south for next week (spring break for us) but it isn't going to happen. We just couldn't quite make it all come together with everything going on so , sadly the trip is cancelled. That is twice we have planned that trip and twice we have had to cancel. Spring break will instead be busy with lots of farm cleanup, house painting projects and maybe some fun with friends and family too.

As usual, we will just make things work the way the cards are dealt to us.. one way or the other.

Friday, March 20, 2015

I kissed him

I came running in the house the other night happy.. no.... overjoyed. 

First, early in the day, my new Field boots arrived from UPS and as I opened the box, I dreaded what awaited. 20 minutes of struggling to get them on. However, I was proved wrong.  They were a  PERFECT fit. No struggling, grunting, sweating or cursing trying to get them over my weird shaped guppy calves. They will need some break in but my legs won't go numb atelast. 

Later in the day, it was time to catch up Otto, and lunge him a bit. 
The mud is back in full force around here but the ice is gone so I slogged out to go get him . 
Haltering the monster has required a skill of precision and speed to avoid him grabbing it in his little lips. He is pretty fast. Well, on this day, he just let me halter him, like a normal horse. He DIDN'T TRY TO BITE AT IT , ME OR ANYTHING ELSE! Not once.

I rubbed on his face and just enjoyed the moment. He seemed so relaxed and appreciating the attention as opposed to his usual gaminess. I would even go as far as to say he was sweet. 

I was happy, I just kissed him right on the nose.. 
Yep, planted a big one on him and he didn't even mind.. 

Lovee my new improved baby horse...

Monday, March 16, 2015

Jumping Clinic Weekend

Sketch of us
On Sunday  I attended the first of a series of jumping clinics at a nearby facility that I signed up for. The clinic focus was working on  ground poles and cross rails. The series of clinics are scheduled once a month and then meet each month to build on your jumping skills.  I was fairly positive we could handle ground rails and cross-rails since that is where we left off last fall. We have also done a few ground rail sessions this winter so it wasn't totally new. I wasn't totally confident we would manage ok,  but you have to start somewhere  , right?  Brego struggles in new environments with new things to see, but there is only way to work a horse through that..and that is just to do more of it. Last summer he was a road warrior with T, going to all the clinics T was teaching at. Apparently it paid off because he did really really well.

 It was pouring down rain and wind and we all know how that sounds in an indoor arena. There was also alot of activity with other clinic participants and boarders getting their horses ready. Several young girls board here and it was a caucauphony of giggles and talking.   Brego snorted once or twice and then settled right in. Pretty soon he was walking around the arena on the buckle.

The only mostly non blurry picture T managed to get..

In the group I rode in, it turned out he was much less green than the other horse/rider combo's we were joined with. However, we were also the only horse in the group with a  motor. The rest all required alot of "encouragement" to move forward, so the clinician had me set the pace for the trot work. When it came to canter however, we struggled. Brego likes to pull and has a handy trick for getting behind the bit, which makes pulling on my part to slow him down completely useless. We worked on pulling against each other less and just using a softer half halt to slow him up. It was a bit frustrating because it didn't really feel like I was getting any change , but neither was pulling on him with herculean force either. Its going to take time. There seems to be a fine line between getting him to slow and keeping him from breaking into a trot.  When it came time to do actually trot rails and cross rails, he was a rockstar. I was quite happy with him.  Brego trotted through all the poles and cross rail combinations without much effort. We had hoped that he would actually jump the cross rail , land in a canter and then keep going but he didn't. He just trotted happily through and I was good with that. He stayed calm, straight and forward through it. He even kept a steady rhythm so I was overjoyed with that. We can build from that!.

 I am seeing a a big improvement from where he was at last year.. (a last minute brake at the base of the cross rail, then gingerly step over it like it was a log on the trail)  I think he is going to be a horse that requires it to be an actual jump , like a vertical , before he actually sees the value in jumping it.

We will get there .. but no sense rushing a good thing. I really like where his mind is so far this spring.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


Otto 's aftercare from his castration has been going marvelously. Much to my surprise, he has not had much swelling at all. My vet recommended 3 days of bute. I only gave him a dose yesterday  but I have discontinued because he is doing so well. He has been moving around fine and doesn't seem to be in much discomfort .  I noticed he was doing some trotting and cantering around all on his own.

I still opted to lunge him last night and wasn't really sure how it would go. But he really surprised me again.  He was so willing to listen and didn't give me any attitude. He even seemed to start to understand voice cues of walk and trot. He was very good and while I realize part of that is that he isn't feeling 100%, I am hopeful the other part is maybe what "geldinghood" will look like for Otto from here on out. I kept thinking...Did they install a brain when they removed the testicles??? Who was this horse I now had the pleasure of owning???
I kept the lungeing session short, not wanting to get greedy and  turn  what appeared to be a major success,  into a mishap. The session was probably 10 minutes and not all of it trotting.  Ideally he should be trotted 10-15 minutes twice a day but as much as he is moving around on his own, I figured it was probably ok.  I was so elated that he was so willing to listen,  that I was willing to come back later and do another short session if need be but I didn't have to.

His legs did have a alot of drainage and old blood dried to them,  so I knew I needed to get him cleaned up last night. I had to wait until T came home so someone could hold him while I did the clean up work.   I have to tell you, I was really dreading this. He had been hosed at the clinic and I am sure they were more about "getting the job done" than worrying about how accepting he was to the hose and water. His first experience with the hose wasn't exactly how I had envisioned it but that couldn't be helped.

We started out with a bucket of warm water and a rag. I just slowly hosed his shoulder and front leg so he got used the sensation. He really didn't seem to mind at all so I moved to the back legs. He just stood there, even with a fair amount of scrubbing on my part to get the cakes stuff off . Once most of that was done I wanted to hose the surgical site as well with the cold water. I turned the hose on low and I just let him look at for a while. Then we led him up to it, Pretty soon I was able to let it run on his front hoof a bit. It was a process of let the hose run on him for a few seconds, then take it away, then repeat. I would only let it run on his for as long as he could stand there. He could only handle  a second at first , then 3 seconds  and so on.  We built from there and worked my way to his back legs. Pretty soon, he was letting me hose up between his legs and just standing there. It must have felt good. Lots of licking, chewing and he had one foot cocked. Once again, I was surprised. I don't think JB is that good about a hose even to this day!

Hope is renewed that I don't have a monster on my hands! So far, "Geldinghood" is looking good on Otto!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Something that should be simple

When I think of horses, it elicits thoughts of power, grace,  and strength. They  are big strong creatures, capable of doing so many amazing things.  Capable of tolerating injury and pain rather stoically. At the same time they can be very fragile and delicate. One bad fall in the pasture or one flake of slightly moldy hay can create fatal situations. 

Today Otto went in for a pretty routine procedure  for his castration. Before it was all said and done, we found ourselves holding our breath, possibly risking having to sedate him again, and go back in  It was all going as planned but then a vein that typically isn't that low or even in that general area got nicked in the process. 
We had a bleeder on our hands. 
Excuse the heiny shot.. 

The scary part was that at first , we couldn't figure out where it was coming from and in moments like that , minutes feel like hours.  I will hand it to my vet, he remained so calm as blood was quickly pooling. I walked out of the room at that point, feeling a little queasy. My vet did find the vein and had to so some quick stitching because Otto was beginning to wake.  With the sedation, they only had about 20 minutes of time to work and they were getting to the end of that. Every time the vet reclamped, Otto reacted. 

Once it was all done, we left Otto alone in the surgical room so he could stand up. It didn't take long. Typically this is the part where you give your horse enough time to get their balance enough to get back in the trailer, pay your bill and go on your merry way. But in this case,  Otto was still bleeding a more than he should have been.  It was possible there was another area of the vein that was nicked but we didn't know for sure.  The vet decided to give it a half hour to see if it would begin to let up . If not, Otto would have to be sedated again and then figure out where the additional bleeding was coming from. 
We decided to leave and waited for the call. It was less than an hour. The vet called with positive news that it had stopped and he was only now having the occasional drip of blood, which is MUCH more normal. They had hosed him off and he was ready to go home, along with a heavy dose of a 5 day antibiotic on board and then 5 more days of an oral antibiotic.  With all the extra digging around that had to be done, he was definitely now at more risk for infection, probably more swelling and likely more discomfort. Poor Guy.

We got him home and when I opened the trailer door to unload him,  the bleeding had started up again. A steady stream again. SHIT. Of course, I was alarmed so I called the vet back to see if I needed to turn around and take him back or what. I was to wait a half hour again to see if it let up. If not, we were going to have to go back. Luckily,  within 20 minutes the bleeding had returned to a more normal amount,   a drip every so many seconds. 

As the afternoon went on, we watched him carefully. For a while, we weren't sure if he was showing symptoms of colic or if it was just that he was uncomfortable. He was slowly picking at his hay, drank a little water but he kept picking up his hinds legs, then he would stretch out and paw. Just like some horses do with Colic. I went out and hand walked him, concerned that because of the sedation, the peristalsis of the bowel would cause colic . I didn't need that on top of everything else. I checked his heart rate, (shock) and that seemed normal. 

His symptoms seem to come and go so I have just continued to watch him.  He has passed manure , urinated and he eagerly ate his beet pulp mash .  At this point, I am assuming he is just painful. He has been standing quietly in his barn , soaking up the last sunshine rays of the day , trying to figure out what in the world happened to him today. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Wild Pony Classes begin

This past weekend I think we got an official start on  ground work training sessions with Otto. T's schedule has been crazy lately with teaching and coaching but this weekend, he had time to help me. And I really need help with Otto and his ground work right now.

The goal:  Leading and begining to learn the concept of a Lunge line

Our pasture is still icey in spots , but the 50 degree weather is quickly resolving that for us, now creating sloppy standing water in some spots where the ground is still frozen underneath so not exactly great for working a horse on. Fortunately, we live on a dead end road where there is a grave cul-de-sac with almost perfect footing.  I did not want to take this training task on by myself because Otto is quite full of himself. I was concerned that he might jerk away from me and if he did, we could have a very scary situation.  He could run a long ways , in multiple directions and no matter which way he went, he would ultimately end up on a road. Otto is pretty wild right now between spring, the hormones and just being a young healthy colt.

So how did it go?

Leading correctly:
(this means next to the person, not behind them or in front of them or trying to pull away in the opposite direction)

T lead him over , through , and around various obstacles at hand, like the roadway ditch, a 2 foot pile of snow from plowing ( yes, we still have areas with that much snow) and various puddles . Otto had to pay attention to his feet and what T was asking or risk stumbling.  Otto tends to either either surge ahead of the person or drags behind. The method of having Otto go through various types of footing or obstacles kept Otto better engage mentally than just  walking along. Otto isn't good at keeping track of too many things at this point so if he has to focus on where he is putting his feet, he is less likely to be trying to do something naughty. It worked and within a few minutes Otto was was stopping when T stopped and walking ahead when T walked on.. and staying at T's side most of the time.  Otto's attention span is much like a knat right now so keeping him focused for any length of time is alot to ask. We define success in small windows right now!

Lungeing.. I will just say this. It started out really ugly. T only asked for Otto to walk on the end of a longer than normal lead line.. about 14 feet. It seems that Otto knows about lungeing. If I had to guess, I would say he has probably been lunged in the past , but incorrectly. He is pretty sure that  he is supposed to run around at the end of the line at Mach Chicken speed. There was a bit of leaping into the air, flinging his Araby head , rearing, and whole lot of other junvenile moments as T persistently and carefully requested Otto to seek another answer. I feared more than once he was going to jerk away from T's grasp. When he couldn't  get his way, he would start trying to bite at the the lead rope under his chin. Biting = Frustration.  It took some crafty timing on T's part with the flag, working between sending him forward (flag placed behind him or at the hocks, about where a lunge whip would eventually be)   and slowing him down (flag coming forward in front of him). Eventually he was able to make one or two trips at the end of the lead rope , head down , in a walk. And I could stop holding my breath. I was probably turning blue and about to tip over.

When we finished all that, we went back to the barn and I groomed on him while T held him since he doesn't stand tied yet. I worked on picking up his feet. This is coming along really well because we have done alot of it. I groomed his belly, which he hates , but is learning to tolerate a little better each time.

What Otto doesn't seem to mind at all, and somewhat surprising, is the bow and arrow.  Otto just stands there right next to T while he shoots his bow.  In fact, T often has to chase Otto away so  he can actually shoot without Otto becoming a target.  At one point, T was shooting over Otto's back, from behind Otto.  (yes, I do trust T's accuracy) Otto just stood there watching the arrows fly, seemingly facinated with the whole thing. T is now trying to covet Otto for his next archery horse given his acceptance of the whole thing.  Meanwhile,  Brego , who was supposed to be T's next archery horse,  stands as far away as possible from the dreaded Bow. After 4 years, Brego still doesn't think too much of the Bow. Good thing I am cross training him for jumping. It appears we will be sharing horses for years to come.
Now that spring is here  and the days are longer, ( DST, I love you!) I have decided to enroll Otto in my hubby's groundwork program for the season. He's giving me a discounted price that I couldn't refuse.

Actually, I really, really,  really wanted to be able to do all this ground work , colt starting  on my own but  I realize Otto needs to have some issues addressed first before I can feel comfortable being the one handling him for certain things at this point.  Age has a funny way of humbling a person and making us realize we all have our strengths.

>>>>>Jonna swallows her pride>>>>>

Otto's rearing and airs above ground to avoid doing what is asked is not safe for me. T is much better at keeping calm and working a horse through issues like this. I will continue to work Otto on other things like getting used to spray bottles, clippers, walking over rails, through water, over tarps,  etc. but T will work out the other kinks. As hard as it is to accept that, I think it's best for everyone.

By season end, I want to have a different colt than I do now. One that I can easily lunge, lead, tie and pony without risk of him running away, rearing, or biting. It's not asking too much , is it??

Thursday is the first step to getting there.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Otto has been in a new phase lately.

Last weekend, I had haltered him up and groomed on him a bit. He seems to really enjoy this time and is mostly well behaved and happy to stand there  with no nonsense mouthiness. Apparently his Pituitary gland is functioning as it should because he has begun the shedding process in earnest. Longer days generally trigger that response and we are slowing gaining daylight hours. Evening chores are no longer requiring lights and a a head lamp.  By the time I finished grooming on him ,  I was well  covered in a nice coat of horse hair. I do love that his hair is so fine and soft. I just love his silky mane hair.  So different than the coarse Morgan and Barb hair!  While grooming, I also noticed that his hooves had REALLY grown since he was trimmed up last .When I checked my calendar, it had only been a little over 3 weeks since T had last rasped on him. I was surprise at just how long his feet were. So long in fact , that he had started to break out on that damn right hind, on the inside. That right hind is going to be a thorn in my side ! That hoof is improving , but the shape of it still drives me batty. He is still turned out and so he wears it more on the inside. He gets alot of toe and it gets very pointy shaped as he gets longer. On the upside, his hooves are pretty concave .  T went ahead and trimmed him up , fixed the broken out quarter and made things a bit more balanced. The icing on the cake was that Otto was really really good.  He had one “colt” moment where he just couldn’t seem to get his legs sorted out to where he felt balanced and put up a bit of a stink. Eventually  we got it sorted out.  For the VERY first time, T was able to hold his Ottos feet between his knees so he could actually nip. Another first!  There was enough growth that he could nip without risking any soreness.  

By god, we might finally be making progress on those hooves, which reminds me that  I need to do a bunch of photos of his hooves. (put it on the weekend chore list, because it's going to hit 50 degrees..woo hoo!) I would like to track the changes over the next several months. I wish I had taken some already!! Keep meaning to.. but never quite get there.

Anyways, we are pretty sure that with all the hoof growth he has definitely hit another growth phase. T noticed he was able to be a lot more upright when trimming his feet as well. And…..
 Otto, maybe even more indicative of growth is that he has been doing an awful lot of this these days:

Can you see him??
Best napping spot,, under the old Larch tree.. 

I am not talking typical horse naps.. I am talking hour or more long flat out  deep sleeping.. The most  I have seen him stay down like this is for about 3 hours. I went out to check him a couple of times to make sure he was still breathing! Poor Kid is exhausted these days!

Often times, Otto and Cassidy will lay down together. Cassidy will only stay laying down for maybe 45 minutes to an hour at most, then gets up and leaves Otto on his own. Otto eventually wakes up , looks around to find himself all alone, and eventually gets up to go find his buddy and resume munching away at hay. Good thing we don’t have a predator problem. Otto would be in trouble. His buddy isn’t too good with the lookout duties. 

So, the weather is going to be improving over the next several days and the melting should resume around here. It won't be long and he will be rip roaring around the place once again.