Friday, March 29, 2013

Happy Birthday Kwik!

Today is the big guy's birthday! Happy 10th birthday Kwik! Unfortunately I'm hitting the road early today so I can get to Nashville at a decent hour for Easter weekend festivities and won't make it out to the barn. That's okay, we'll celebrate big time when I get home on Monday ;-)

Kwik certainly seems glad to be back to work, and he's definitely feeling his oats. Our ride on Wednesday started off fine- we walked and walked- circles, serpentines, leg yields. He felt good and was starting to really move out. I asked for a little trot, and he started up with his porpoise rodeo bucking routine. Unfortunately I couldn't stick out this one either, and I'm still q-tipping sand out of my ears. Other than some mean looking bruises, I'm a-OK, but I really wish I knew what the %$%& these little outbursts are all about. Is he just super fresh? Ill-fitting tack? Just being a jerk? Something I'm doing? I really don't think it's a tack thing since he carries on in the round pen sometimes like this sans tack. I don't really think he's trying to be a jerk either, but who knows. Either way, we're going to take a slight detour on our recovery plan and focus on ground work until I can hook up with Ann for a lesson or training ride. I didn't want to do a whole lot of lunging/round pen work until he was comfortably working under saddle again, but I'm starting to become a little wary, and the ground work will only benefit us when we are back under saddle. He's been on SmartCalm for a month and a half, but I bumped him up to SmartCalm Ultra for his April shipment, so hopefully that will help take the edge off until we can get back to where we were riding-wise. He rarely does this when he's in consistent work, so if we can get there, I'll bet we won't have this problem.

I'm trying to think rationally about this instead of, "OMG, I've got this horse that I can't handle, and I should just sell him and get a schoolmaster since I'm a terrible rider and have no business with this horse!" No. No. No. We're going to focus on ground work, schedule some lessons and training rides, and see where that gets us. No freaking out. Not yet, anyway.

On a more exciting note, this weekend is the inaugural SEC Equestrian Championship! Ann went down to Auburn to head up ground control for the event, so it should run like clockwork. I would have loved to go cheer on UGA, but alas, I will be out of town. Hopefully the championship will be held in Athens sometime soon. Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lovin All These Contests

I'm sure ya'll have seen SprinklerBandits' new contest. Who doesn't love Riding Ninjas?!? It's hard to pick a favorite, but I'm really loving the half-zip hooded pullover. I love anything baby blue and pink, and it would be perfect for chilly early spring trail rides!

EventingNation is also hosting a new monthly contest that sends you on a scavenger hunt through SmartPak's website to identify a mystery product. EN gives a new clue each week, and the first reader to ID the mystery product wins that product! March's Mystery Product was the Sunshield Long Sleeve Shirt by SmartPak. Who knows what April's will be, but I'm going to be all over that like a Riding Ninja! Happy Contesting!

Monday, March 25, 2013

We Ride!

Kwik got the remainder of Monday and all of Tuesday off to get used to life without staples, and we went back to work on Wednesday. I don't really want to do a lot of lunge work in the next couple of weeks- no sense in putting added stress on his already stiff joints, but I figured it would be in my best interest to do a little round pen work before getting on a horse that hasn't been worked in three weeks. We did a little walk/trot free lunging, and he looked good for the most part. Its not like he had developed a ton of muscle before his accident, but he has definitely lost whatever he did have. He did, however, look very happy to be back to work. I got on for some stretchy walk work, and he definitely felt stiff. We did serpentines, changes across the diagonal, and some leg yields to try and loosen everything up, and he may have felt a little better towards the end.

We got a ton of rain the remainder of the week, and the ground was really sloppy this weekend. I was hoping it would be dry enough to do a little bit of lunging, but the footing was way too deep to ride, let alone lunge. P was teaching a lesson in the little grass dressage arena and offered to share with us. Kwik was nowhere near as stiff as he was on Wednesday, and he felt great after about ten minutes of walking. I did a tiny bit of trot work as well, and he felt good!

My plan for the week is as follows:

Tuesday: Continue stretchy walk work in the arena, ~20 minutes. 5 minutes of trot work. End with short paddock loop trail.

Wednesday: Arena warm-up: walking, 6 minutes trot work. End with 10 minutes walking hills outside of the arena.

Thursday: Arena warm-up: walking, 7 minutes trot work. Walking hills 10 minutes. End with short trail.

Saturday/Sunday: Off! Happy Easter!

I'll increase the trot work little by little over this week and next until we are back to our regularly scheduled program. Hopefully the hill walking will help build back the muscle that was lost and increase his fitness at the same time. I'll start bringing back our lunging with side reins in the third week. I'm hoping to schedule a trail riding session with Ann for sometime during the first week of April. If all goes well, maybe we can incorporate some more trail riding in our routine as well.

Monday, March 18, 2013

No More Staples!

Kwik got his staples out this morning! Dr. P decided to sedate him since he had so many (12), and everything went really well. The best part: I can start riding him! Dr. P says he can immediately get started back into work. We'll take things slowly with some light work in the roundpen, walking under saddle, and maybe a little trot for the first couple of days to see how he feels, and then we'll gradually work back to our program. After the sedative wore off, I turned him out with his good buddy Skye, and Kwik rejoiced in his new found freedom. I got some video:

By the looks of things, I don't think it will be long at all until we're back in business!

Love that pony face!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Recovery Part 2

Ceftiofur. Hello again O-chem.
 Thank goodness, Kwik is back to his normal self again! I called to him Wednesday as I walked into the barn like I normally do, and when he looked up from his hay, I could tell immediately that he felt 1,000,000 times better. We went for a hand graze in the remaining sunlight, and he was sound again, the swelling at the injection site had gone down drastically, and he was back to taking his grazing very seriously. I gave him a good grooming, and then I went home and had my first worry-free sleep in almost a week. Kaptain Kwik gets his staples
out on Monday, and I can start bringing him slowly back to work afterwards. Bliss!

On a side note, I did some research on Excede. Excede is a sterile suspension formulation of ceftiofur, an antibiotic that is effective against both gram positive and gram negative bacteria. It is a sustained-release antiobiotic acting over 5 days given IM four days apart in 2 doses (as opposed to 10 daily doses of a comparative antibiotic). Exede is FDA approved, and adverse side effects include swelling at the injection site and diarrhea or loose stool. I also did some forum hunting, and there were some pretty scary accounts of more serious side effects, including laminitis, antibiotic-induced colitis, and death. As a microbiologist who deals with highly drug resistant bugs and "big gun" antibiotics, I'm aware that adverse reactions are a possibility when using any drug, albeit rare. I'm not about to swear off using Excede forever, but I do think its a great opportunity to have a conversation with my vet to better understand the array of antiobiotic options available for treating horses. What are your experiences with equine antibiotics?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Recovery Part. 1

 It was so wonderful to see Kwik bright-eyed and perky when I went out to the barn Saturday afternoon. I checked his bandages, added a little more Elasticon wrap to his hoof bandage, and then we went for a little hand graze. He was definitely happy to be out of his stall! Adam came out with me on Sunday, and he stuffed Kwik full of carrots and even helped out with the hand grazing!

Dr. P came out on Monday to change his bandage and said the laceration looks really great and is healing nicely. The plan was to put his shoe back on towards the end of the week, allow him to go out for a little while in a small medical paddock on Wednesday, remove the bandage when he comes in on Wednesday evening, and remove the staples on Monday.

My farrier was in the area last night (Tuesday), and Dr. P ok'd putting the shoe back on. When I got out to the barn last night, Kwik looked like he was in a daze. I pulled him out of his stall for a hand graze, and he was definitely off, wasn't interested in eating grass, and just looked like he wasn't all there. Something wasn't quite right, so I texted L, and she came right out. She agreed that he looked lethargic, and we took his temperature. He was on the borderline of running a low temperature, so we called Dr. P for her opinion. He ate all of his dinner, ate some hay, pooped, and drank water while we waited for the call-back, so I wasn't terribly worried. My first thought was that he was having a reaction to the second dose of antibiotics he received on Monday or he picked up a cold at the hospital. Dr. P called back, and she seemed to think it was an adverse reaction to the second dose of Excede as well.

L says he is walking better and is a little perkier this morning. He's outside in the mini paddock enjoying the sunshine, and his bandage comes off this evening. I really hope I'm greeted by my bright-eyed, happy go lucky Kwik this evening- we're so close to reaching the end of this whole ordeal (knock on wood!).

Saturday, March 9, 2013

In Which Kwik Dodges a Bullet

This Wednesday night found me heading up to Athens, not for a football game or a visit with friends, but for emergency care at the UGA Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

I was heading home from work on Wednesday afternoon when L called to let me know that Kwik had cut himself in the fetlock area, and she suggested having Dr. P come out and take a look. I immediately drove out to the barn, and when I arrived, Dr. P and her assistant were cleaning up a wound that didn't really look all that bad. After she got a good look at everything, Dr. P explained that because of the location of the puncture, the tendon sheath may potentially be damaged. She used a probe to determine the length and width of the puncture and then distended the joint with sterile saline and inspected the wound for fluid leakage. Thankfully we didn't see any leakage, but Dr. P explained that a damaged tendon sheath is a life threatening condition, and she recommended transferring him to UGA to be certain.

My heart fell out of my chest as I looked at Kwik's semi drunk face still begging for cookies. I knew I'd never forgive myself if I didn't do all I could for him. I don't own a truck or trailer so I spent the next ten minutes calling everyone I knew that owned a rig and lived relatively close. I don't know how I'll ever repay them, but the JKs came to the rescue as soon as I called. They pulled up about thirty minutes later, Kwik hopped right onto their massive, fancy rig, and we were on our way to Athens. The trip only took about 40 minutes, but it felt like eternity. I just couldn't wrap my head around the fact that Kwik might not make it through this, and to be honest, my brain was racing trying to figure out how I was going to pay for all of this if he ended up needing surgery. I had already decided to use a portion of my tax return to purchase insurance, but I was waiting for the return to come to make the purchase. I'm sure I'll see the direct deposit in my account in the next few days. Go figure. 

Once we arrived, Kwik politely walked off the trailer and into the hospital. He walked over the scale and stood for blood draws like a perfect gentleman. After the initial evaluation, the lead emergency veterinarian talked me through each tier of diagnostics that may be necessary and what each tier would cost and explained that they would work within my budget. Then they began the process of probing the laceration and distending the joint, and I watched that wound like a hawk for fluid leakage. Nothing! The crippling panic began to subside as they pumped him full of antibiotics, stapled him up, and bandaged his leg. Kwik also managed to pull his left front shoe during his pasture shenanigans, and the clip punctured the white line. His hoof got bandaged as well, and the team lead explained that they would probably keep him in the hospital for a few days to monitor the laceration. She didn't see any reason why he wouldn't make a full recovery!

I helped tuck him into a stall in the hospital for the night and drove to a friend's house to spend the night. The hospital called in the morning to give me an update (everything looked good!), and I went to visit Kwik. He was happily munching his hay when I arrived and definitely had a fan club- all of the students taking care of him were excited to meet "Kwik's mom!" Dr. Shearer came out to talk with me, and I was on cloud 9 on my way back to Atlanta. Kwik could come home the next day!

I took a half day from work on Friday afternoon, and one of the boarder's, LV, graciously offered to haul Kwik home. The trip home to Ashland was uneventful, and Kwik immediately rolled in his stall when he got home. It was such a wonderful feeling to have him safe and sound at home! He gets 1 bute tab today  and tomorrow, his bandage and hoof padding will get changed by Dr. P on Monday, he will need to be on stall rest for two weeks until his staples can be removed, but Dr. Shearer cleared him to return to regular work if all looks good after that!!!! Big smile!

I'm so grateful to so many people for their support during this whole ordeal: L for recognizing the laceration warranted an after-hours visit, Dr. P for making all of the right calls, the JKs for dropping everything at 8 o'clock at night to haul Kwik 40 minutes to Athens, Jen for packing Kwik's feed and supplements, the UGA emergency team for their great work and upfrontness (not sure if that's a word) about procedures and cost, Kwik's team of vets and students (he got so much attention- he probably didn't want to leave!), Mrs. Great Indoors for letting me crash at her house, LV for giving us a ride home, and all of my friends and family for their concern and well wishes. I'm so glad this turned out the way it did- it could have been much MUCH worse. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery!

Sleepy boy ready to go to UGA 

All bandaged up

Happy to be home!

Monday, March 4, 2013

March Goals

Yay! March is here, and hopefully that means Spring is on its way to Georgia! This weekend was full of non-horsey obligations so I didn't get to ride. I did think a lot about what I want to work on this month, and here's what I've decided:

Work on encouraging Kwik to seek contact with the bridle. This is the foundation for asking him to lift his back and connect the front and back ends. Obviously this is a concept that takes years to fully develop, but he's starting to understand the idea and I want to keep the ball rolling. I love this video ( from Will Faerber's Art2Ride blog- such a great explanation of concept and why we want to acheive it in the first place. My plan is to free lunge him in the round pen on Tuesdays and Thursdays w/t/c for warm-up, and then do some w/t work with side reins to reinforce the idea of seeking contact before we begin our work under saddle. If I feel like he's balanced enough and ready, we may do some canter work as well. I'd also like to start incorporating ground pole/cavaletti work.

My second "action item" for the month is trail riding. After each flatwork school in the arena, I've been taking Kwik on a hack on a very short trail that loops around the paddocks and ends up back at the barn. The barn stays in sight the entire time, and all of our trips so far have been relaxed and incident-free. My plan is to start on the short trail and instead of taking the loop around the paddocks, we'll take the longer trail away from the barn and add a little bit more each time before turning around and heading home. I also want to schedule Saturday trailventures (walk only) with a good, steady buddy. I'm hoping we'll be able to take the trail to the schooling show arenas and xc course solo by the end of the month.

What are your March goals?