Monday, August 15, 2022

Healing Progress

I am very happy to say Cupid's healing has been progressing smoothly, without any setbacks!  He has been a model patient, staning loose in his paddock while I wrap his legs and hasn't removed a single bandage. 

We've had lots of quality time the last few weeks
 About a week ago I could tell his patience was starting to wear thin - nothing bad but every day both the blankets in front of his stall were on the ground, he was a bit more peppy on walks, just a few small signs.  Luckily, his wound was healed over well enough that the risk of it reopening is minimal so starting last week he got to go back out to group turn-out, and I've even gotten on his back for a few 20 minute walks!

First ride in about a month!!

I think the wound is healed enough that it won't scare anyone - for the full graphic progression see the pictures on Instagram.

23 days post surgery

Cupid has also resumed his teaching duties.  My son loves to trot, and is very eager to start jumping 😆

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

A Day at the Vet Clinic

First rest assured that my long, unexplained absence from blogging has nothing to do with either Cupid's or my health.  Just busy, with not a lot of actual developments and feeling a bit burnt out.  But I did want to write about my experience taking Cupid to the vet clinic.  

We are fortunate to have a top-notch clinic with a full surgical suite locally available.  Over 20 years ago I got to tour this clinic with my pony club, and very thankfully I have not had to go back since.  I have been very lucky that in my 30 years of horse ownership with multiple horses, I've never had anything really serious happen to either my horses or myself.  (Knock on wood!!!!)

Cupid was scheduled for an outpatient procedure to get that mass on his leg removed.  Unfortunately he had knocked it again, so I decided it was probably past time to get it taken care of.  Cupid was able to have a light breakfast at home, and we got to the clinic a little before 9am where he had a stall ready.  He had an initial examination and xrays, and bloodwork done, and was cleared for surgery and less than an hour later he was getting a catheter placed. 

Getting the catheter placed
By 10:30 he was getting led into the surgery suite.  Unfortunately I could not watch (or maybe that's a good thing!), but my regular vet did come by and took a look and gave me an update!  I made myself comfortable on the patio and did some work.  They also had a conference room, and coffee and water available and wifi, so aside from worrying a bit about your horse it's not a bad place at all to work remote!
Surgical suite

Heading in for surgery
The head surgeon came out just after noon, and told me everything had gone well.  Initially they were not sure if they would be able to close the incision fully, and even mentioned possibly doing a skin graft.  But luckily they were able to close it up, even though I was told the stitches may not hold.  Cupid got a few hours in the stall to recover from the anesthesia, then he was sent home with bute and antibiotics.  He will be in his stall the next 2 weeks until the stitches come out, with a few hours turnout in a small paddock allowed as long as he behaves.  

Cupid's leg was already wrapped when I saw him post-op, and that bandage will stay on for about 72 hours and then my regular vet took a look and changed it.

Back home

So far Cupid has been handling stall rest a lot better then he ever has in the past - I'm not sure if he's just in pain or more settled now.  He's also been a model patient in general - even his post-op report mentioned how good he was!  He's been very well behaved during his bandage changes.  He doesn't love the medication, I alternate between mixing it in his feed with molasses and squirting it directly in his mouth.  If I put it in his feed he kind of picks at it, but will eventually finish it all.  

Luckily the injury/surgical site is not near any joints or tendons/ligaments, and Cupid should make a full recovery relatively quickly.  Fingers crossed for no surprises!

Friday, February 18, 2022

A Hunt for new Field Boots: Ariat vs. Dover Riding Sport

I have had my Ariat Heritage field boots for about 5 years.  I ride my one horse about 5 days a week.  I would say I'm somewhere in the middle as far as taking care of them: I always keep them in a boot bag with trees, and usually only have them on while I'm riding not just wearing around the barn (though of course I occasionally do).  However I'm not very consistent about wiping them down or conditioning them, I just knock the dirt off with a brush before putting them back in the bag.  I have dress boots for showing (which I wear on occasion in between just so they don't shrink and so I'm used to them).  

 Being a petite 5'2", "regular" height tall boots off the rack won't really fit me and at the time I got these boots there weren't many options for shorter heights.  They are a 7.5 short height, regular calf.  The calf has always been a touch big, but for schooling I'm not that partial.  They were quick to break in and comfortable from the start, I think I may have used heel lifts the first few rides but don't recall them being painful.  They've held up very well the first 4 years, I never had to replace the zipper or had any noticeable issues.  However over the past few months they've really started showing their age, first with some separation on the top of the boot between the outer leather and inner layer.  And then a wear mark appeared on the inner calf where the bottom edge of my saddle flap is, eventually rubbing all the way through the outer layer!  I'm actually overall quite happy with how these boots worked out, and thought 5 years was a reasonable lifespan for <$300 boots.  However most of what I've read on the internet indicated that the quality of Ariat boots has gone down quite a bit the last few years, so I'm a bit hesitant about getting the same ones.
So sad!

Dover had a recent sale on their Riding Sport brand boots, so I figured why not give it a shot.  At just over $100 I wasn't expecting them to last forever, but hoped that I might get a good year out of them - and a good opportunity to try some brown ones!  

Pretty brown
 Unfortunately did not meet even my low expectations.  From the size chart I thought they might be a bit big, but I didn't expect to easily fit my whole hand inside the top of the boots.  The leather is low grade as expected, but what really turned me off was the almost foam-like inner lining, which I imagine would be pretty sweltering on hot days.  

Weird foam-like inner lining

Regular width calf runs large
So these boots are going back - I have a different, new-to-me brand on order but if those don't work out either I'll probably just go back to Ariat!

Friday, January 14, 2022

A Weight Lifted

This has been a great week.  First, Cupid's biopsy came back clean.  Though we don't know the exact cause why that lump grew, at least it's not a tumor.  For now I will just keep an eye on it for further changes.  Removing it is a fairly minor procedure, but would primarily just be for cosmetic reasons (with a small benefit of avoiding him knocking it again.)  If we have a bad fire season again and I'm not going to be riding or something like that, we may just get it done but it's not urgent.

But possibly even better news it for the last several rides Cupid's finally felt like his old self, no crankiness much happier to go forward.  Whatever was bothering him seems to have resolved.  He's been on GutX for over a month so maybe it was that.  Or just kind of resetting our relationship with contact (taking it away completely for a while then slowly building back).  Or just some other body soreness.  

He feels active and engaged, I don't have to chase him into a canter, and can actually shorten and lengthen his trot a bit.  I'm feeling pretty happy and optimistic for the first time in months!

Saturday, January 8, 2022

A Medical Mystery

Cupid injured his leg in a pasture accident many years ago.  After that accident he formed a slight lump on his leg which I attributed to a popped splint.  It was high enough and forward enough to not interfere with any tendons or ligaments, and never seemed to both him.  But over the past year, that protrusion has been slowly growing bigger and softer, though never with any heat, lameness, or sensitivity.  (And we're talking about a horse who's legs swell up after the most minor scrapes.)  But eventually they got to about ping pong ball size, and though it doesn't seem to bother Cupid I thought we should take a look at what's going on.  I thought it was likely that something chipped off and he was building fluid around the chip.  My biggest fear was bone sequestrum.

To my surprise, the x-ray revealed that the splint bone had never fractured, and his bones actually look great!  Rather the lump is some sort of fluid or soft tissue mass under the skin.

So the next step was ultrasound, which revealed two separate encapsulations, fairly similar in size and consistency though one perhaps a bit more dense. No sort of fluid core or giveaway that it would be an abscess. Possible origin cyst or hematoma.

The vet said if I want to continue, that next step would be biopsy. He cautioned me that it could well be inconclusive, but relatively low cost and not terribly painful to Cupid. I thought it over briefly but I’m curious enough to try it.

So he stuck the biopsy needle into the less dense sac, and we see nothing. After a few moments of suction he gets a small amount of clear fluid (not sure at this point if we got inside the sac or just the surrounding fluid.)  There was some external bleeding as he pulls the needle out. Then he hit the more dense looking one, and again nothing at first then he gets a bit of blood. The two samples are going off to the lab, and we should hear back in about a week but again it may or may not reveal anything. Vet still thinks either hematoma or some sort of cyst possible.  Tumor unlikely, fingers crossed!

It is a bit inconclusive at this time whether the lump could be drained in the field, or need to be fully opened up in a clinical setting.  Right now the lump is more unsightly then problematic, so if the lab results are inconclusive then I’ll have to decide how much to pursue this or just observe for further changes.  In any event the vet said if we are to plan a removal he recommends waiting until dry weather, so we can do some turnout while he heals.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021


The first rains have come, and with it Cupid's first pulled shoe!  It was right at the end of his trimming cycle, hopefully just a single fluke occurrence.  

Despite a little bit of friskiness in the pasture, Cupid's generally the same to ride.  In fact we're still working hard on getting him to move more promptly off the leg, and on me not nagging him all the time!  I'll have to write an actual post at some point but just wanted to at least come on and say all's well.

He's currently in half round shoes


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Barrel Racing with Tracy Maurer

You run at a barrel and whip around it, point to the next one and circle the other direction, whip around the third barrel, and hand on for dear life as you fly back where you started - how hard can it be, right?  Turns out there is a lot more to barrel racing, and clinician Tracy Maurer did an excellent job laying that foundation!  Step 1, tie the horse at the trailer for a quick overview of the sport and running through the pattern on foot!  

Apparently there are a whole lot of different organizations/associations that run barrel races and their rules vary slightly.  For example, under some rules knocking down a barrel is a time penalty but in others it means you get no time.  But there aren't too many ways to get disqualified - going off course; falling; missing your order of go.  Some orgs will disqualify you for any backwards motion, like the horse spooking.  But for this intro-level clinic we were just focusing on the basics, with a primary focus on good horsemanship.  

Tracy explained that usually there isn't much space behind the start timer.  Some of the associations allow you to circle behind the timer (though the highest levels don't); we practiced with the circle to help set us up for our first barrel.  Especially if you're cantering, to make sure you have the correct lead and to establish your bend.  For our practice we started with the barrel on the right side (right lead / circle to right), but the rider can choose either direction.  Tracy placed a cone several feet from the barrel, and she said to start we would think about leg yielding just before the cone (to help establish the bend we want to go around the barrel) and halt with the horse's nose on that cone.  This is so your horse learns to not rush or get too excited.  Then we covered 3 circles, from biggest to smallest the large fast (just to the outside of the cone); half round (mid-way between the cone and barrel); and regular turn (tight around the barrel).  Tracy impressed upon us that if we lose the horse's shoulder through any of these turns then we need to either go the next size up, or drop to a slower gait.  Even just walking it she reminded us to keep our shoulders even; she said if we walk with a dropped or raised shoulder we will probably ride it that way too!  We practiced the entire course around all three barrels and back through the timer line. 

Then we got on our horses and started with the circle behind the start line - I tried to do mine in the middle but Tracy corrected me to do it on the right side so I have a short path to the first barrel.  Then approaching the cone think a slight leg yield and halt at the cone.  Not surprisingly Cupid was good at that part. =)  Then we started on our large fast circle, and when Tracy was satisfied our circle was even, with the correct bend and not falling through the shoulders we went to the half round circle, then the regular turn.  The regular turn started out really good but got egg-shaped on the other side, I think maybe a bit of a magnetic pull towards the gait!  So we worked on fixing that.  And then Tracy said as soon as I got a good circle move on, don't keep drilling it because then it will quickly not be fun for the horse.

Some of the technique is a bit different then I'm used to - a slight raise of the inside hand, and moving both hands towards the barrel.  But there was also a lot that was familiar, such as using the inside leg effectively - timing the cue before the horse picks up that foot, with enough intensity to get a response then leave the horse alone.  

After completing the pattern at a walk, we trotted in, stopped at the cone, trotted the large fast (if you could do it correctly), and walked the half round and regular turn, then trotted off.  Tracy said our halts were quite good, of course we've had plenty of practice halting at X in the dressage court!  Eventually instead of halting at the cone it was more just a half halt.  We didn't get past cantering a large fast, then trotting a half round and walking the regular turn. 

Then we did a little work away from the barrels, practicing spiraling in and out at the trot and canter, then at the walk we spiraled in eventually to a turn on haunches - which Cupid and I struggled with a bit as he moves his haunches a bit too much.  I told Tracy I will try to work on it in hand and she agreed that is a good approach.

We ended with a few last runs around the course.  Cupid was getting a bit tired at this point so we only cantered up to the first barrel and transitioned to the trot at the cone, did the regular turn at the walk, and trotted to the next cone.

At no point during the clinic did Cupid get lit up, which I was super relieved about!  The slow and methodical approach really just allowed us to have fun practicing the same things we usually practice (smooth transitions, responsiveness to rein and legs, proper bend without losing the shoulder, balance, etc) just in a different way.  I don't aspire to actually barrel race because speed isn't really my thing, but it was super fun learning more about it!