Friday, November 30, 2012

Tricky Puzzle

In my last post I mentioned having a very enlightening experience during a judging clinic thingy.  I was going to post about it when I got some photos from the event, but photos or not, it's time to tell you what's been goin' on.

My barn hosted a multi-state 4-H judges "test" where folks hoping to be granted their judges cards would be scored on how closely their placings came to those of the advisors, or at least that's what I gathered.  I'm sure there's more to it than that.  But anyway; boarders and students rode in 6 basic classes you'd expect at a 4-H show.  There were 4 riders/handlers in each class. Junior and I did the Showmanship, Western Pleasure, Horsemanship, Hunter Under Saddle and Equitation classes.  For those keeping track, that's FIVE out of the six classes.  I knew this would be a lot of riding for both of us so I wasn't expecting stellar performance from him, especially in the western since we've not been using that tack much aside from the trail ride a few weeks ago.  Even with what I was prepared for, I was surprised by what happened.  Maybe, "enlightened" is the right word.

So here's what we discovered that day:
1. The button for bending to the right must be broken.
2. The button for walking a straight line is also broken.
3. The button for trotting a straight line is sticky.
4. My equitation is abominable.  I was schooled by girls who haven't even been alive for as many years as I've been riding.
5. He was better in the western (earlier in the morning) than the english (later in the morning) so the tack wasn't as important as our lack of stamina.

Number 4 was kind of a blow, but I think it blew me in a positive direction.  I haven't been in regular lessons (and The Bug hasn't been in regular training) in over two years.  We've had maybe three lessons in the last two years.  The show last May had me feeling like we were maintaining well without them.... but maybe not so much.  The Advisors gave oral reasons and they highly praised the equitation of the BO's students.... and not so much mine.  So the BO must be teaching effectively...

Solution?  Lessons!  We'll start doing weekly private lessons with the BO in January with goals of improved Equitation and eventually low jumps. Eeeek!

Numbers 1-3 put all sorts of things into my brain, especially with that left stifle thingy I keep feeling, even though I expected him to have worked out of that by now.  I started thinking that at 12 years young my pony might need a little joint support and maybe it's time to call the chiropractor. PLUS, this last week he was suddenly girthy.  Like dragon face and tail wringing kind of girthy, not just his occasional cranky attitude.

I did some research on supplements and then asked the BO and the BM their opinions on Thursday.  While chatting with the BM I mentioned trying to schedule the chiro we both use, and she mentioned B was having one out that very night.  So after a few text messages, we were to see the chiro that night.

I LOVE our new chiropractor!!!!  He was extremely professional and down to earth, fascinating to watch, and he explained EVERYTHING he was doing in both proper terminology and in layman's English. I watched him work on 6 horses and each one was different, though there were some common issues shared by a few.

The diagnosis?  In addition to the sacral issues, shoulder issues, neck issues, and poll issues,  we have our first sign of arthritis in his right knee, which is not surprising on a 12 year old.  He also palpated positive for ulcers.  Hey remember way back in the before time in the long long ago when I talked about his grooming/girthing issues and you all suggested ulcers and I didn't believe you because that was the only thing on the list of symptoms he had?  Well, ooops.  And now I'm a terrible horse-mom. :(  Aside from the girthiness this week I didn't suspect ulcers, but I saw the reaction he had to the palpation and the chiro has nothing to gain by having me treat ulcers that don't exist.

The plan?  We ordered the recommended ulcer treatment and the recommended liquid joint supplement.  Hopefully it works and he's willing to eat it because I ordered a gallon and a quart.... it was a combo deal.  The doc also taught us how to stretch the knees to keep the fluid moving and a new carrot stretch to help with his tight poll and TMJ.  We might start slow-feed bagging his hay to keep him busy longer and I'm going to put his hanging treat toy back in his stall when I can find some lumber.  The problem with this horse and bagged hay is that he is not shy about trying his hardest to rip the bag open that I question the longevity. While most horses are content to pull the hay out, he just grabs the bag and pulls until it rips, then eats out of the larger hole he created. He's a smart one.

As instructed, he got a light workout today of long & low trotting.  He felt straighter than he has in a while and we trotted around on the buckle really easily.  He had two decent sized trips in the first lap (the kind like when you catch your toe on a crack in the sidewalk) but aside from that he felt good.  At the end I let him walk around whatever direction he chose and he chose to walk over a bunch of the very low crossrails that were set up.  I didn't think slow, careful steps would be harmful and he went to them on his own so I let him.  I noticed his right shoulder raises more than his left and now that makes sense that he can't bent his right knee as much so he has to lift that shoulder more.  Hopefully the supplement, the stretches, and our upcoming January get-back-to-training time will fix it all.

The late November grass tastes better in the sunshine.  Ahhhhhhhhh.

Also, check out the For Sale page! New stuff!


  1. Oh, horse judging: that brings to mind a lot of cold FFA days! Good for you for being a willing participant & helping them out.

    Glad you found out about the ulcers. Don't feel bad; I think I'm always the last person to catch onto those "signs" my horse is screaming at me! :-/

    I literally laughed out loud at your explanation of Junior's hay bag habits! Too smart for his own good? :-)

  2. I wish my barn did cool stuff like yours! It's great that you have a BO who also teaches lessons. Again, I wish my barn had that...

    Don't feel bad about the ulcers. Lilly is so jacked up these days that I just do the best I can with what I have to work with. Our kids are getting older and this stuff is bound to start showing up. Don't they say like a million percent of horses have ulcers..?

    Glad to hear you have a game plan to get him feeling better and I'll be anxious to hear how the new supplements work.

  3. Thanks, friends! The chiro said about 90% of riding horses have them and I think he said only 10% show obvious signs. The research I did said about the same.

    And Laura, I've learned to say he's "too smart for MY own good!"

  4. well, good news that you can turn that feedback into positives for you and Junior. Hopefully the chiro and stretching and supplements help him feel better!

    Interesting about the ulcers - I think my horse may suffer from them too, with few outward signs (cranky about grooming, a little cinchy, cowkicks at his stomach sometimes...). What are you treating him with, if you don't mind me asking? I've heard that you need to do 21 days with some sort of omeprazole product to heal the stomach then you can switch to a preventative supplement...

    1. I dismissed the thought of ulcers before becuase the ONLY sign he had was the grooming/tacking attitude. No weight loss (that couldn't be explained by the low-cal feed I was giving), no dull coat, no picky eating, no colic signs. And come one, 1-3 shows/year less than a 30 minute trailer drive away shouldn't be that much stress. But I guess it's more about the acid production and the unnatural way we feed them. I've seen estimates as high as 90% of kept horses have ulcers.

      I am hesitant to give the treatment details in case it's inviting a sh*t-storm of negative comments.... you just never know... so let me put on my full-body armor... here goes

      I was instructed to give an entire tube of Gastroade XTRA. It was explained that the whole tube is what a vet would give, but in order to sell the tube "over-the-counter" the manufacturer suggests it be given in four separate doses. Not sure how far apart, I assume the tube will tell me when it arrives. None of the educated people at my barn balked at the instructions, but I haven't contacted my vet yet... seems unnecessary to pay for scoping, etc.

    2. Thanks for sharing that...hopefully no one gives you a hard time. We all have to try what we think will work best for us and our horses.

      I think based on your story I might have the vet out to check my horse. (We can't get any ulcer products here in Canada without a vet...) I hear you on not wanting to pay for scoping - why not try the treatment and see if that works first? Keep us posted on how he is feeling after the treatment... :-)

  5. I'm glad Laura asked about ulcer treatment because it's one of those things that comes up on the COTH bulletin boards, and everybody starts talking about it and throwing around mysterious terms and I mostly have no idea what they're discussing and am WAY to embarrassed to ask. (Why do I care, since I don't own a horse? Something to have in my arsenal of knowledge for Some Day.)

    I know there's some terrifically expensive stuff, there's some cheaper stuff, there's some stuff the COTHers call "cookies" or "marbles" or something like that, and that's about it. So anything you want to share about how you're treating Junior is bound to be interesting! Hope it helps with the "dragon face" act - that cracked me up. :-)

    I have a doggie chiro who I know also works on horses and I would call him in an instant. It's really important to get someone you trust, so glad you have. Hope Junior feels better soon with all this great stuff!