Monday, September 30, 2013

On The Mend? Maybe?

Went back out to the barn today. Loki was looking better. The best news is the swelling in his left front knee is totally gone. He was still a little stocked up in his hind legs, especially the hind left and the hives were still very much present. But, he was walking and moving way better. So overall I think we are heading towards healing. The swelling in his left hind is making me nervous. It's just weird that it is more prominent there. It makes you wonder if there is more than one thing going on here or if it really is all related. But, he isn't lame on it so for now it is just a wait and see. I have to make some appointments for the FFI horses this week so I will probably have the vet look him over real quick, too.

Some pics:
The culprit. With the swelling gone the cut that we believe is the culprit to all this mess is much easier to see.
The hives. This is the worst spot on his right shoulder. He has them scattered over his entire body but they are concentrated the most right here.
The left hind leg. Believe it or not the swelling actually looked better today but it still has me a little concerned.
The boy still looking as sweet and handsome as ever despite his many boo boos. :)
I will say that as a result of all this mess Loki has become quite a bit more affectionate. I think that mostly has to do with the fact that his EPM meds are an alfalfa based pellet and he thinks they are candy. So basically I'm the treat dispenser but either way I'm enjoying hanging out with him even when we aren't really doing much.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

My [poor] Little Pony

 I went back to the barn today only to find Loki stocked up on all four legs. Ahhhh! On closer inspection I discovered he was also covered in hives. Great. I went ahead and called the vet and explained the sequence of events. Which are as follows:

  • #1 Started Loki on his EPM meds last Monday
  • #2 Had Loki's shoes put back on Wednesday and noticed swelling in his knee with a small cut, no heat.
  • #3 Still swollen on Thursday and a little swollen in his other front.
  • #4 Stocked up on all four legs and covered in hives. 

Obviously Loki is having an allergic reaction to something. The question is is it the medicine, is it from this cut on his knee or did he get bit/stung by something? Not really easy to tell for sure. The vet doesn't think it is from his meds because the reaction came on five days after he started which is a pretty long time for him to react but it isn't impossible.

I'm hoping that it is just from this cut on his knee and sometime soon *crossing fingers, praying, etc* he will get past this reaction and feel better.

The vet told me to just keep an eye on him. He said that it isn't abnormal for a horse to stock up like this when they get hives. Loki is still acting fine, eating well, bright eyed, etc. I walked him out for quite a while to get the swelling down in his legs which did help but he is still lame on that left front knee so I didn't want to do too much.

I hate that he is hurting!!!

On the bright side check out these pictures of Loki in the indoor. He was so very fascinated by that other horse we kept passing. ;)
Who is that guy?

Why can't I smell him?


Nope, still can't smell him

He sure is handsome, though!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Raining to Pouring

I'm not sure where to start with this post. So many little things keep happening but for several different reasons I just haven't had a chance to post anything lately.

I suppose first I will "come clean" and make a confession about my new job. I am actually working for Friends of Ferdinand. This is the OTTB after care group that keeps several of their horses at my barn. I haven't felt comfortable mentioning it yet because to be quite honest I didn't feel super qualified. Officially I am the new Executive Director which I have come to realize simply means I do whatever needs to be done. Mostly I've been organizing paperwork. We want to apply for accreditation from TAA (Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance) soon and that is taking a lot of preparation.

So anyways, that is one of the main reasons I've been so busy lately. Even though it is only part-time I work from home and I find myself spending many more hours at it than I would for a "normal" part-time job. And don't be surprised if you start hearing more about our program. :) Oh and if you are on facebook please give us a like here.

As far as Loki goes we are now on day 5 of a 28 day treatment. Loki loves his medicine which is awesome since it is a feed through. He eats it up like it is candy. I haven't noticed anything unusual since he's started the meds but I figure it is way too early to tell much of anything.

Last Wednesday I made a HUGE mistake and decided to pull Loki's shoes off. It had rained a bit and I thought "oh the ground is softening up we are slowing down why not." When I came back out that Friday my horse was so foot sore he could barely walk. I packed his hooves with Magic Cushion and then called the farrier. The farrier was coming back out on the following Wednesday (yesterday) anyways so he kindly agreed to put Loki's shoes back on.

You would think that would be the end of the story but no. As I was waiting for the farrier yesterday I noticed that Loki's knee had some swelling in it. It wasn't a lot and there was no heat so I thought maybe it was just from the way he was gimping around on his sore feet. I decided to keep an eye on it but that was it.

Blown up knee :(
I came back to the barn this morning and the knee had BLOWN UP! Crud! I gave him some bute and called my trainer. My trainer is pretty positive the swelling is from a cut from a Black Locust tree. Apparently they are poisonous and can cause some pretty intense swelling. My trainer had me get some Children's Benadryl and I put some in Loki's grain. He mostly ate it up so we'll see how his knee is later today.

Our move to my sister's has been postponed indefinitely. Some thing have come up on both ends. He may move the first of November or he may just stay where he is. This has been a rough year for our family as a whole. To me it all started with Sassy dying right before New Years and while there have been many positive things that have happened, such as moving home! there has been a lot of distressing things as well. So thoughts, prayers, etc would sure be appreciated right now. Thanks!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

What is 2+2

Apparently the answer is MORE LEG! :D

If you are on facebook I'm sure you have most likely seen this. I love it because #1 it is so true and #2 if I had a dollar for every time my trainer tells me to use more leg I could buy a few more lessons! I think it is finally starting to sink in, though. My last couple of rides have been so chill and I've just been working on using more leg in relation to less hand. What a difference! Now I just need to work on slowing that rhythm down with my seat. We get it sometimes but still a work in progress.

Loki & Pearl chilling after the ride
Today was one of the most beautiful days EVER! Around 73 degrees, sunny, blue skies, no humidity. And to celebrate we went on a trail ride. B and her horse Pearl, M and her horse Dubya and M's boyfriend N on Orio all went with me or I went with them, whatever. We had so much fun and I have to say Loki most certainly doesn't act like he is feeling bad. He was mostly marching for the entire ride, although I will say his march was a lot more pronounced as we turned around to head home but that just tells me he is starting to figure this trail riding business out. It was such a nice day. I'm so sad I will be leaving my barn next month but B and I are going to try and keep meeting up to trail ride together and once Loki's treatment is finished I'm hoping I can trailer over regularly for lessons. So all is not lost.

Treatment did not start this weekend. I'm having a hard time getting coordinated with my vet but for sure early next week.

Loki with Dubya in the background

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Plan Of Attack

I think one of the worst things is simply not knowing. I've been experiencing this whole "not knowing" thing for a few days now. I've actually talked to a total of three different vets as well as done a ton of research on my own about EPM and for quite a while it has all left me feeling... unsure. Seriously, if you do any kind of in-depth research on EPM the one thing you will learn the most is we still don't know a whole heck of a lot about this disease. It is one of those things that is not cut & dry. You can hear three different opinions about EPM if you talk to three different vets.

But, I have finally decided on a plan of attack. The two other vets I spoke to (who did not actually look at my horse but just talked on the basis of the information I gave them) both highly recommended a drug called Protazil. One vet heard what Loki's blood test results were and said, "yeah, maybe, possibly, it could be..." the other vet said, "oh yeah he's positive treat him yesterday." But they both agreed on how they would treat. I'm still waiting to hear back from my actual vet but assuming she agrees on the treatment this is the way we will go for now and treatment should start hopefully this weekend if not then Monday.

It's a 28 day treatment and I will be moving Loki to my sister's at the end of the month anyways. After the treatment I will have my other vet, the one who looked at Ghazal, (we'll call him Dr. J) evaluate Loki and see what he thinks. If he thinks he still needs to be treated we will go from there.

There is another treatment that is new and not yet FDA approved called Oroquin 10. If you follow Alchemy Eventing you have probably heard about it. The vet who is treating Loki now is not comfortable using it b/c of the lack of FDA approval. However, if after 28 days we feel like the EPM is still an issue I will ask Dr. J to look into this treatment.

So there you go. We have a plan. I even have a plan for paying which is a good thing to have. I'm feeling much better to be doing something. In the meantime we will just keep riding and training as always minus much jumping for now.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Best Laid Plans

I feel like this is the story of my entire summer. 

So, we're back to the drawing board again. I called a different vet and was able to talk to him for a while, get his opinion, etc. I am planning on having him come do another physical exam of Loki and then we'll go from there. Unfortunately right now things are all on hold. Money is tight, tight, tight. Things will get much better once I get Loki moved to my sister's and we'll begin treatment then but it isn't going to be as quick as I'd like. I'll be keeping a good eye on Loki's condition in case things look or feel like they are getting worse but for now he seems really good. We've actually had some really good rides as of late and isn't that the way of things?

I think in some ways the possibility of him having EPM has really changed my approach and thoughts while riding. Now I find myself thinking maybe he is being resistant because he really can't do whatever it is I'm asking. I find myself being ten times more patient than I ever have before and it is amazing what kind of results patience is giving me. We've just done some work on the flat, nothing super exciting but I've just been approaching things differently. For instance we'll spend a much longer time at the walk than we ever have before. I'll just ask him to walk forward and into my hand and then maybe ask for a little shoulder-in or out and we'll just walk and walk until he relaxes and then all the sudden I've got a much more responsive and fluid horse on my hands. Same thing with the trot. I'm continuing to work on NOT using my hands as much as possible and it is really making a difference. But what I'm realizing is it really does take some time for him to warm-up and move forward into my hands. Having patience is making me realize how little patience I had before, if that even makes sense.

Things might not be going according to what I had in mind for this summer but I'm going to continue working on the things we can. I will continue to ride as long as it remains safe and comfortable to do so. The way he feels right now I don't imagine we'll have to stop but if it comes to that then we'll find something else to do. And we'll just adjust the plan. I won't be able to do much jumping when I move him so my new plan is to get our flatwork really, really sorted out. The next time we go to a show, even if it isn't until next spring/summer I don't want to just make it through dressage I want to win the dressage. We'll see how that goes. :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Positive Is Sometimes A Negative

This post was going to be something like what I posted on facebook earlier today. Something like this:

Nothing like forking over a wad of cash to the vet and moving a butt load of hay to remind you just how much you wub your pohney.

He may be 24 but he still acts like a 2 year old sometimes!
I had to have the vet out for Ghazal yesterday. He was three leg lame and even though I was fairly certain it was an abscess it had been bothering him long enough that I decided a veterinarian intervention was needed. Of course the abscess popped just while the vet was using the hoof testers which tells you how close it was to popping on it's own anyways. But, Ghazal is already feeling tons better and he got some bute to help as well.

While the vet was there I decided to get some real help dealing with his sweet itch. Poor boy has hardly no mane left at all and about half of his tail. He just goes out to the nearest tree and scratches and scratches. So we have some new meds to try and see if they help. The meds pretty much doubled the vet bill, though, but the old guy is worth it. I know I don't talk about him much on here as he predates online blogs but believe me had I started writing this blog 20 years ago there would be all kinds of sappy, silly stories about the guy. I don't get to mess with Zel a lot these days but I still love him with all my heart and I owe it to him to make sure he has the best retirement possible.

So my post would have ended there if it weren't for the call from the vet I got earlier this evening, right after we finished moving hay. Loki tested "highly positive" (The vet's words.) for EPM. She gave me a couple of options for treatment to think about and I am supposed to let her know what I want to do tomorrow.

Get better soon buddy.
I guess I'm not surprised. I could tell there was just something not quite right going on. He's not lame but just not quite right either. The good news is we've caught it very early and there doesn't seem to be any significant neurological damage at this point. The bad news is the treatments are expensive. One is really, really expensive and one isn't too bad but it will still put me over the top, financially. So the plan is probably going to be to move Loki to my sister's at least until the spring. I will pay significantly less in board and will thus be able to afford treatments much easier.

I'm not 100% sure about this vet. This is a different vet than from the one who treated Ghazal. I think I am going to call the vet who saw Ghazal tomorrow and ask for a second opinion on treatments. I wish my old vet were here. It really sucks going from a vet with whom you've had a good relationship and whom you trust to having to find somebody new.

I have to admit I've shed a few tears. I know this isn't the "end of the world" or anything but I'm still feeling very weepy about it. For now, though, I'm going to try my hardest to focus on the positives. We caught it early, Loki will most likely be just fine and with moving him to my sister's I'll get to see Ghazal a lot more, not to mention my sister who has always had a shoulder to lean on when I've needed it.