Zin v. Farrier

I had a nightmare last night about Zin being naughty for her farrier appointment this morning. I’m not even kidding – I dreamed the farrier took all of her shoes off, and she turned into such a horrid fire breathing dragon that he refused to put them back on. Since we switched barns, I tried out a new farrier just to make it easier scheduling wise and today was our first appointment.

I guess if you don’t know Zin’s background, you might think I’m a nut job (you might think that regardless anyway and you are probably right!), but I have not had the best experiences with her and getting her shoes done. When I first got her off the track, she still had her racing plates on and I scheduled the farrier to come out about 2 weeks later. I’ve used this farrier before and the person I grew up riding with has used him for over 10 years and have never had an issue. I do not place any blame on him for what happened next, it was just something that happened because, well…..horses.

So out comes the poor farrier and Zin was not on her best behavior. She was refusing to stand still at all, she kept threatening to kick and refused to stand on 3 legs for more than 15 seconds. Somehow, the farrier was able to get 3/4 shoes on, but when he went to do the last one she had had enough. She freaked out, reared up (almost flipped herself over!), and hit his box of tools – nails went flying everywhere. After that she had just LOST it,

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There’s not supposed to be a nail there!

and the farrier told me he would need to come back. Fast forward to the next day and Zin is 3 legged lame and putting ZERO weight down on that right hind. I was convinced she broke her leg. Turns out she didn’t break her leg, but she did manage to step on a nail. Natrually I found this out at around 430 PM, which resulted in an emergency vet fee + x-rays. Oh, but the fun doesn’t stop there! Turns out the nail nicked her tendon sheath, so she had to spend 2 weeks in the hospital getting a “distal limb perfusion” 2X a day. Basically the vet injected an antibiotic solution into her tendon sheath to clear out and prevent any further infection. Let’s just say she tripled her purchase price real fast.

 

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Not a fun x-ray to see!

Anyway, maybe you can understand a bit more now why I had a nightmare about a new farrier last night. Since that initial issue (and a few more hiccups along the way), we did finally find a farrier who Zin tolerated. He was patient, methodical, and most importantly gentle. He was unable to shoe her hot, but we were hoping she might have a change of heart in the near future. Unfortunately between switching barns our schedules didn’t align up just right yet so I put myself on the list for the guy I met with today.

Needless to say, I was more than a bit concerned this morning – I was also trying to figure out a way to disclose all this previous information about Zin without COMPLETELY scaring the farrier away. Luckily for me, he was very sympathetic and understanding. Zin had a couple of “moments” where it could have escalated, but because he was patient she was able to maintain some level of sanity. AND he was even able to shoe her hot – without her having a melt down! Overall I’m really pleased with how the whole thing turned out. I hope I won’t have another farrier related nightmare in another 6 weeks!

On another note, Zin is going back to work TOMORROW! I am having my trainer ride the first week so he can work out any shenanigans and then I will be switching over to taking lessons. I hope now I’ll be able to blog more regularly and have more posts about our training progress. Initially that’s why I started this blog, but apparently Zin had other ideas. I think she went and injured herself about 5 minutes after my first blog post was up. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, because, well…….horses.

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Zinfandel & Dynamite

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to ride a stick of dynamite? Well, if you have, you’ve come to the right place! I have spent the last several weeks rehabbing Zin (also why there has been almost zero blog posts, rehab life isn’t too exciting!), and for the most

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Look at all this lovely bedding!

part she has been a model citizen. However, as she is feeling better and gaining her fitness back ….. let’s just say Ace has been our friend. But before I jump into

our ride, I just want to point out how AMAZINGLY AWESOMELY (those are words, right? hah) Zin’s stall was bedded today. I know, I know – I’ve heard before I need to relax when it comes to bedding ….. I’ve even been called a bedding snob before, but come on. It’s where my horse lays down and sleeps and I want her to be comfortable. That being said …. when I walked into Zins stall today it was just overflowing with bedding. I almost cried tears of happiness. She also had, get this……left over HAY from breakfast! Zin is normally a total pig and inhales her hay, but at our new facility they feed SO MUCH that I guess Zinnie finally feels satisfied.

Anyway, back to the original point …… riding as tick of T N T! So Zin has been on a rehab plan, slowly introducing trotting work so that way she regains her fitness. Our vet has prescribed us acepromazine (AKA Ace) so that I don’t die during this period (thanks, vet!). I like to think of it as valium or Xanax for horses, basically a “chill pill”. She had been getting 100mg of ace twice a day and has been behaving great. She missed her dose last night and this morning and also had the day off yesterday (sorry Zin, I sometimes I have a life outside of horses). As I write this I’m like hmm…..maybe I should have re-evaluated my ride today.

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How I feel knowing I rode my rehabbing horse after getting a day off with no “chill pill”.

But, I climbed up on her back anyway and I can only describe the ride as riding a stick of dynamite. From the moment I got on, she was just radiating energy…..I felt like I could feel her vibrating! “Oh, this is going to be a fun ride”, I thought. I typically hack around the property for about 15 minutes to “warm up” for our ride…..normally I can walk on the buckle …. yeah, not happening today. Zin thought it would be great fun to jig and dart side to side and spook at her own breathing, so there was no loose rein walking today! When we finally got into the arena (which was no easy task), she was SO tight in her back, squealing, threatening to buck, darting to and fro. Well, at least I know now the ace had been working in the past LOL…..lets just say she definitely got a tablet today.

Despite her feeling incredibly explosive, we did happen to have some decent moemnts during our ride. Since she is just rehabbing, I’m not really asking her to do very much …. just some consistent bending, stretching and relaxation (hahaha….haha….ha…ha.ha). We are up to three 4 minute trot sets, with a 2 minute break in-between each trot set. We also get to canter for 2 minutes, with 2 minutes of trot after the canter. Oh! And tomorrow we get to add another 2 minutes of canter! All things considered, Zin has been doing great during this rehab time and I can’t wait to get back to full work.

So, moving forward we have a lot to look forward to! Zin has gotten the OK to go back to full work as of February 20th (literally next week, yay!) and I couldn’t be more excited. I am going to have my trainer exclusively ride her the first week, because quite frankly I don’t want to deal with any of her $h!t. We are planning to school cross country at Fresno in a couple weeks …… probably will do nothing much, but it will be nice to get her to an outing and at the very least canter through the water! We also have an XC school planned for the end of March, and our sites set on an April Twin Rivers event AND an April Fresno event…..so many exciting things to look forward to! I’m sure Zin is just dying to jump and can’t wait to get back at it too :).

 

 

Shockwave, Splints & Show Season

Things haven’t been too exciting the past two weeks for Zin. Between a mini vacation for me (yay!) and getting sick (boo!), I hadn’t been out for nearly a whole week.  Zin has been mostly on stall rest with limited turn out and she is B O R E D. Like spook at her own shadow type bored. I can tell she is just dying to get back to work, and I am dying for her to get back to work!

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What do you mean the vet is coming out AGAIN?!

Two weeks after her first shockwave treatment, the vet came out to re-evaluate Zin as well as do her second treatment. Prior to the treatment, he watched her walk and trot and said she looked GREAT. She was super fluid in her movement and pushing off evenly from both hind legs (she’s currently being treated for a splint on her left hind).

I really like how my vet sits there and explains what the treatment is and how it works while he is doing it. Basically it’s an approximately 15 minute treatment that sends shockwaves through to the bone to promote healing. During the treatment, it sounds like a “tick – tick – tick – tick” over and over again; the vet sets the duration and frequency at the beginning of the treatment. It seems counter intuitive – stimulating an injured area – but it really does work. Zin has a hard lump on the outside of her left hind (see photos below), which is basically just a bony growth that formed when her splint partially healed. After analyzing the initial x-ray, the vet could see changes in the bone behind that bony growth. So he has been trying to place the head of the probe of the shockwave instrument so that the “waves” get behind that bony growth. Coming from a strong science background (I have a degree in chemistry), it’s a fascinating process and I love learning about it! Zin was pretty dead lame the day after Christmas (Merry Christmas to me from Zinnie, right?!), but with the stall rest and shockwave she’s definitely made a 180 turn for the better.


Prior to Zinnie injuring herself, I had originally had my hopes set on doing our first show of the season at March Twin Rivers. I’ve never been to Twin and have heard great things about it, so I was super excited! When Zin first came up DFL (dead $%&*ing lame), my first thought was the first half of our show season was going completely down the drain. But with how well she has been doing with treatment, the plan is to start tack walking her and gradually introduce some trotting over the next two weeks. Re-evaluate at the two week mark and if she is still looking good, then start her back into full work. Wish me luck not getting bucked off in the process …… she is feeling REALLY feisty and good! If all things go well, the “new” plan is to start our season at the April Twin Rivers event – all things considered, having a one month delay to our show season is really NOT the worst thing in the world.

Throwback Thursday – A Walk Down Memory Lane (+Zinnie Update)

I have always been obsessed with horses. People say there’s always that one girl in your class who is obsessed with horses – I was definitely that kid. Growing up in an industrial part of California, I didn’t really have regular access to a barn. But what I did have was a place called Mar Vista Stables – a dude ranch type facility that was (is? I think it’s still open!) located in Daly City.

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Heels and hands up, right??

My mom used to allow me one to two weeks each summer to attend their horse camp. It was seriously THE best time. I got to ride horses all day – we would play games on horseback, ride on the beach and learn about horse anatomy and tack. One of my last summers there, I got to ride an “advanced” pony named Midget. Fortunately my position has improved ever so slightly since then, HA!
In 2001, my mom and I packed up our stuff and moved to Sonoma County. My 11 year old self had  one life long dream fulfilled when my mom agreed to let us adopt a dog from the pound. About a year or so later, we adopted “Rusty”, a 1 year old INSANE golden retriever (who lived to be almost 15! RIP Rustoid).  As fate would have it, I walked Rusty up to the end of a rural street near our neighborhood and found Wine Country Riding Academy. This was small, private barn owned and operated by the woman who lived there, let’s call her “K”. Long story short, I knocked on the door and asked if there was any work available to potentially work off riding lessons. “K” agreed to let me muck paddocks and feed her horses in exchange for riding lessons – I had never had formal riding lessons, so it was quite a different experience than yahooing around during my time at Mar Vista!

I worked for “K” every week for nearly TEN YEARS! Our agreement was two days of mucking/feeding in exchange for one lesson and any extra days mucking would count towards a “free” ride I could have one of her horses. After working closely with K for several years, our agreement eventually transpired into letting me ride whenever I was able. Wow! Now that I have experienced horse ownership, I have such a new found appreciation for what K was able to offer me. Horses are, spoiler alert!, very expensive to own – and having an owner allow you to ride her horses for free is quite a special treat. The ability to ride 4 or 5 different horses basically whenever I wanted was such an incredible experience and really helped me develop as a rider. While I do love riding “my” horse now, there are times I miss being able to sit and learn from a wide variety of horses.

“K” gave me my first horse – a 2001 Thoroughbred gelding named Blazer. I had ridden Blazer on and off my whole time working for K and we had established quite a good bond. He was safe and, once you got him going forward, was a blast to jump. Originally the plan was for me to take him down to school with me and bring him back when I was done. I had ALWAYS wanted to event, and with the gift of Blazer, I was finally able to start. I had him down there for about 6 months before K sent me probably the best e-mail I’ve ever received: she told me Blazer was mine to keep. I owned Blazer for about 2 years before selling him to his half-leaser. I was ready to move on and start eventing more and Blazer was ready to wind down for his second career. He is currently living the life of luxury – living in a giant irrigated field with lots of grass and trail riding with his new mom!

Fast forward to today (2018 already! Time flies) and I, once again, live down

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Madison “helping” me feed the horses up at “K”‘s house.

the street from “K”! I take my one year old daughter up to her house every Saturday morning to help her feed the horses and muck paddocks again. I hope when my daughter is old enough she will also be able to take her first riding lessons from K!

Additionally, “K” is really just the gift that keeps on giving. While Zin is off for her little bone splint stint, “K” is letting me ride her super cute QH/Welsh Pony cross named Jelly Bean! JellyBean is a 15 year old chestnut mare with chrome who may eventually come up for sale soon. While she is on the greener side, she is sure footed and safe on the trail, and a little powerhouse jumper. It’s been fun to sit on something different, I sure do miss riding Zin!


And speaking of Zin, we had the vet out this morning to do her first shockwave treatment. The vet was pleasantly surprised with how sound she looked, but we both agreed to go through with the shockwave treatment considering this was a chronic injury we were now dealing with. The plan is to do another shockwave treatment in 2 weeks, and then potentially start putting her back to work, so, fingers crossed! Zin, in typical OTTB fashion, loves to work so I’m sure she is very much looking forward to being fully healed again!

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Zin enjoying her hand walk/grazing time while she is rehabbing.

This “Throwback Thursday” post ended up being way longer than intended! But, as always, if you’ve made it this far thank you for reading!  Feel free to leave a comment with any suggestions or feedback 😊

New Year New….Barn? (+ things to do on stall rest)

Zin and I kicked off the new year by moving into a new boarding facility! While our last facility was quite nice, we are super excited to be part of a new team. Zin has a new spacious stall with literally overflowing bedding and a great view. She has settled in nicely and I think is enjoying her new room. Now, if Zin can get the memo to hurry up and have her splint bone heal…..that would be great….


Unfortunately Zin is still lame on her left hind leg from her injured splint bone, but on zinlegbump (2)the bright side it has significantly improved. Our vet has suggested stall rest and anti-inflammatories. Bute was prescribed for 5 days with the addition of Surpass (a topical anti-inflamatory). Wish I had known the price difference between DMSO and Surpass to begin with ….. let me just say, if you are ever given the option, pick DMSO. It was about $40 cheaper than the Surpass and you can buy it in a feed store. Live and learn, I guess!

I am happy to report that Zin still seems about the same, if not slightly better (wishful thinking? Perhaps!) despite not being on bute for the past 5 days. We have a meeting with the vet next Thursday and will start her shockwave therapy. Two weeks later the vet will be back for more shockwave and then we will re-evaluate after that. The vet is optimistic that we will be able to start to go back to work after the second shockwave, which was very exciting news! I mean, if there’s a “good” time to have an injured horse, I suppose it’s during the winter when work is light anyways and there are no shows or cross country schools to miss out on. If the vets optimism pans out to be correct, it looks like our competition season won’t be pushed back too much. I had wanted to kick off the season at March Twin (I’ve never been to Twin, isn’t that crazy?!), but now it’s looking more like April Fresno. Which is definitely NOT the end of the world. We had such a blast at Fresno in November, I’d love to back to that facility ASAP. I haven’t always had the best luck at Fresno, but I can save that for another blog post …. ;).

So while Zin has been on stall rest, I’ve been thinking of ways to keep her entertained. I feel so bad she went from getting ridden 5-6 days a week to no riding, no turn out in the blink of an eye.  I’ve been trying to come up with some ideas to keep her entertained, if anyone else has other ideas I’d love to hear about them! Feel free to leave a comment 🙂

Stall Rest Activities
1) Go see them. Every, single, day. I try to see Zin every day anyway, but since she’s been injured I’ve really been making an effort to go out and see her. She was especially affectionate today, and I think she really appreciates the visits.
2) Get some toys to keep them entertained. I bought Zin a salt lick that you can hang from the wall, and nearly every night I go out she’s ripped it from the wall. At least I know she plays with it, right? I also got her a jolly ball (does she play with it? Who knows) and have a “treat” toy ordered and on it’s way.
3) I also still try to keep up my grooming routine. I go out and groom her and pick her feet every time I see her. She is really weird about her hooves being handled, and it is important for her to have to do it every day. I was even able to her mane this evening …. I was pleasantly surprised she stood still and let me do it! I really do think she enjoys the company.
4) You can also teach them “tricks” like “smiling” or bowing. I’ve been working on smiling with Zin ….. she definitely doesn’t have it down yet, but I hope to report back positive progress soon! We’ve also been doing carrot stretches in hopes it may potentially keep her somewhat supple….maybe. Can’t hurt though, right? 🙂
5) Even though we really aren’t supposed to go for hand walks, I figured taking her out and letting her stretch her legs just a LITTLE BIT and get some fresh air wouldn’t be too harmful. As long as they walk quietly and don’t see how it’s any different from moving in the stall a bit. I took Zin to meet her new friends this evening, I think she enjoyed it 🙂

I’m not really sure if I have any people reading our blog, but if you have been keeping up this far …. Zin & I both appreciate it!

Revenge of The Splint

They say horses are always trying to kill themselves. This is true, specifically when it comes to baby Thoroughbred horses. Like this lovely mare….she is wondering if I can just feed her carrots and let her cuddle? Maybe if I randomly come up lame you’ll invite me into your house with an endless supply of carrots? Maybe?? zincarrot

As a bit of a backstory, on December 7th, 2016, Zinfandel thought it would be a fun idea to get into a fight with another mare in her pasture. In hind sight, I kick myself (haha, I’m so funny!), for letting Zin into a pasture with other horses that had hind shoes. Oh well…..20/20 hind sight, right? Anyway this date was 2 days before my due date and as a result, it sticks out in my memory. Getting a call from the barn owner that I need the vet out because my horse as been injured. Great. Long story short (yeah right, like I can every have a short story), she got 4 weeks off while I gave birth and recovered from a C-section. She had a splint, presumably from the pasture incident, but it looked cold, hard and set so we went on our merry way.

Fast forward, LITERALLY OVER A YEAR, and I go to take Zinnie out the day after Christmas. I had a friend ride her Christmas day and she gave a phenomenal ride. We were supposed to have a beach ride in two days, so I thought I’d pull Zin out and give her a little side rein work in the round pen. I pull Zin out of her pasture the day after Christmas (and they day before her beach debut!) and she is dead lame, like almost 3 legged lame. Well, me being my typically anxious self I automatically assumed she broke her leg – I mean, what else could it be, right?! So I called the vet out and sat and waited while Zin ate carrots.

20171227_090647Naturally it was after 5 so we “had” to have an emergency call fee. Great. He examined Zin and, while I was CONVINCED the lameness was in her stifle, he said everything felt great ….. except for the “cold” “hard” splint that had been “set” for over a year. Oh, fun. Like I said ……revenge of the splint (sith? hehehe).

 

Of course x-rays were the next step….. and we got bad news. He said there were “active” changes in the bone and that it didn’t heal correctly. The new bony growth was rough, rather than smooth like it was supposed to be. Oh, just GREAT. So she is on stall rest and anti-inflammatory for a few days to see where to go next. Maybe she will be fine, maybe she needs shockwave treatment…..who knows! That’s horses for you though, always keeping it interesting.

On the bright side (ifjelly there can be a bright side to your horse being lame….), I still got to get my beach ride in! I rode a feisty little Welsh X Quarter Horse cross named JellyBean, who also happens to be a chestnut mare! She is full of spunk and my kind of ride. It was her first time at the beach, and all things considered, she was really pretty good. The owner (and neighbor and old trainer and good friend of mine) of the pony offered me to ride her while Zin is recovering, so at least I have something to look forward to sitting on!


I hope to have more positive updates with Zin in the future, and we have some big changes coming up ahead…!

Patience is Passion Tamed

Patience is not my strong suit. Like most people in my generation, I want results and I wanted them yesterday. We live in a society full of instant gratification, where we literally have the world at our fingertips and can have anything delivered with the click of a button or tap of a finger. While patience doesn’t come naturally to me, horses and children will definitely give you lessons in patience – ask me how I know ;).

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These two are a lot of work! But so worth it!

I was fortunate enough to take Zin to THREE events this season. At our first event, our trainer informed me we would be entered at the Introductory level. And now cue the eye-rolling. Intro?! There were other 5 year old baby horses running around Training level and here I was having to enter Intro. Did I mention I had no patience? 🙂

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Zinnie cruising around stadium at Woodland Stallion Station

Well, luckily for me my trainer knows best and afterwards I was SO glad we entered Intro. The event was held all in one day, and it was scheduled to be 112 degrees that day. I was exhausted and grateful for having jump courses that felt incredibly doable, instead of being over faced at Beginner Novice (or as I refer to it, Beginner Nervous). Our next two events we got to play around at Beginner Novice and had a blast. I could feel Zins confidence grow with each outing. Ohh, so THIS is why they say the slowest road is the fastest!

Fast forward to the end of the season, and my trainer now informed me it was time to work on the dressage, as our scores were …. well, atrocious. Cue mfunnymemeore eye rolling and whining – but WHY? Why can’t she just put her head down and trot around in a frame? What do you mean I have to make her sit down on her butt, engage her hind end and lift with her back? I guess in addition to having no patience, I tend to whine a lot. My poor trainer. This is definitely something I will have to work on!

Dressage takes a LOT of patience. Like a lot a lot. Quite frankly, I’m not sure how people only do dressage, I really cannot comprehend it. However, all that patience required for dressage does pay off. Zin has become so much stronger in her topline and hind end. And the most important part? The dressage has helped her jumping SO much. We had a BLAST of a jump lesson yesterday. Zin got to jump a chevron, skinny fences and wider oxers. And since she is so much stronger, she’s much braver and bolder – and as a result I didn’t feel scared approaching the fences anymore (since having a baby, my bravery took a big hit, but that will be a story for another day).

And this is why dressage is important. And more importantly, why patience is important when it comes to horses. And in all aspects of life, really. It doesn’t matter who is doing what with their horse, or that another 5 year old is about to move up to Prelim. For adult amateurs, this sport is supposed to be fun. It is too expensive and too time consuming to not be fun, both for you and your horse. I’ve learned (or am learning?) not to worry about or focus on what others are doing. If you are patient with yourself and your horse, you will move along at the exact pace that is right for the two of you.