Sterling’s legs have gotten a LOT of attention over the past week! As I posted previously he was crazy lame last Tuesday evening with what we suspected to be cellulitis. The vet came to see him on Wednesday afternoon and confirmed the cellulitis AND that it was caused by a 3″ deep puncture wound. So that “scrape” was actually 3″ deep and had hit the bone. The vet was concerned that there was damage to the bone, but wanted to wait a few days to see if there were symptoms to indicate bone damage. Sterling got put on a regimen of antibiotics twice a day, steroids with a pain killer for four days, then every other day for eight days, cold hosing twice daily, a furazone/DMSO sweat application and leg wrapping if/when the swelling moved from his forearm down to the cannon bone and finally medication IN the puncture wound.
Sterling’s much improved leg.
His lameness improved within 24 hours of treatment and by Sunday evening the swelling was nearly entirely gone. Hallelujah! He HATES the oral antibiotic, but isn’t a complete jerk about letting me give it to him. He also really hates the powder medication on his feed, but after pawing at it, flipping his feed pan over and pouting in the corner for about an hour, he usually finishes it, too. I combine applesauce with his feed when he gets to powder and, in my head, it helps the meds taste better. By Day 4 he wasn’t going to let me stick anything else in the puncture wound, which was fine because the wound scabbed over entirely by Day 5.
My regular vet had been out of town for the cellulitis/puncture fiasco, but had been scheduled to come over this week to look at some soreness Sterling had in his back at the last horse show. After a full lameness evaluation my vet concluded that Sterling has soreness in his hocks that he is compensating for and is causing the back pain. This isn’t terribly uncommon for a horse of Sterling’s age (11) so I wasn’t surprised that we will now be doing hock injections a couple times a year.
Hock injection number 1.
For these injections the horse is sedated to prevent any unnecessary wiggling while being stabbed in the hock. Each hock gets two injections, one on the inside and one on the outside. It is an intra-articular injection which means it goes directly into the joint to reduce inflammation and pain. Most likely the injections will need to continue for the rest of his life at an interval of about every 6 months, but that may depend on his work load. Most people in the sport horse world will tell you that joint injections are a matter of “when” not “if” they need to happen.
You can see here where the injection was done. The hair is wet and there is some blood.
After the injections my vet recommended that Sterling stay in his stall for the day and he can resume work again after about three days. Considering the puncture wound/cellulitis issue combined with the hock injections I’m probably going to wait to ride him until next week.
The aftermath of injections.
Another one of the joys of having a grey/white horse is that after something like injections you can see the blood, even though there was hardly any. His poor hind legs look like he participated in some weird ritual leaving him with four small blood spots on the same part of each hind leg. He’s so done with me fussing with his legs that I didn’t want to fight with him to wash them off.
Now that his cellulitis swelling is completely gone and he’s one dose away from finishing his oral antibiotics I’ll get him cleaned up soon. He’s not the best horse patient (that would be Coco), but he isn’t horrible (Jaguar is HORRIBLE to do his teeth. HORRIBLE). I’m looking forward to riding him next week. Daylight Savings PLUS a sound horse make me happy. 🙂
I’ll have an update on Coco’s vet visit later, too. She didn’t want to be left out of all the fun.
Last Thursday Sterling came in from turnout with a pretty good gash on his left front forearm. It was a couple inches wide and deeper than a scrape. I cold hosed it for a few minutes. Scrubbed the crud off and lathered it with Corona cream. The next morning I did basically the same thing, but instead of Corona cream I put Furazone on it in favor of something with more antibacterial properties. I didn’t really wash it again, but kept it gooped with Furazone and checked it at feeding time. All seemed well. It had a good scab on it and looked to be healing well.
Until yesterday. Boot City had put the horses up from turnout and fed them and hadn’t noticed anything terribly awry. I went out after dinner to put blankets (or coats, as Boot City likes to call them) on the horses because it was going to get down to the 30’s overnight. When I went to put Sterling’s blanket on he very awkwardly and slowly evaded me and went into his stall run. I just stood there staring at him, terrified that it was something neurologically wrong. He pooped in his run (horse people are ALWAYS happy to see horses poop, no matter the situation) and slowly limped back into his stall. I looked more closely at his cut and sure enough his entire forearm down to his knee was swollen.
I immediately called my vet (yay, at 9p, the cheapest time to call the vet) and thankfully we determined that it was probably cellulitis and didn’t absolutely require that he see the vet RIGHT NOW. I had medicines on hand that we could start dosing him with and could cold hose and put topical meds on his leg.
Mind you, my plan for this particular evening had been to talk to Boot City about showing at Pin Oak for the first time. Well, Sterling nipped that right in the bud. Now I just hope he’s sound and can go to the Southwest Classic show in Fort Worth at the end of May. My regular vet is out of town, but a different vet from the same clinic is going to look at him this afternoon. Sterling and I would both appreciate positive thoughts, prayers, good mojo, whatever you want to send our way that might encourage healing and future soundness!
Dang horses sure do keep us humble! And I welcome any advice on treating cellulitis, however I DO NOT want to hear any of your horror stories. Thank you in advance. 😉
This week FLEW by! Boot City and my 13th Anniversary was on Monday. We celebrated with an AMAZING dinner at B&B Butchers. I cannot recommend this restaurant enough! I was initially skeptical of yet another steak place in Fort Worth, but this one is it’s very own. The food and the service were second-to-none! As per usual we didn’t take any pics, but it was lovely.
We also got some more rain.
Muddy horse exhibit #1: Coco Chanel
Muddy horse exhibit #2: Simon
Muddy horse exhibit #3: Sterling
Clearly the horses are enjoying the mud. Good grief.
Patches got spayed on Monday. She was a great patient and enjoyed her trip home, basking in the sunlight.
Because you can never have too many pony pics.
Jaguar’s hay gets soaked for multiple reasons and Murtagh LOVES to sit on the hay as the tank fills with water and drink it when it gets high enough in the tank. He is so weird.
Lily has a meet and greet and will potentially be adopted this weekend. She has been a joy to have, but I’m very excited for her potential new family!
The upcoming weekend is the annual Hunt Ball! Boot City and I get to get all dressed up with our horsey friends and have a nice dinner with our favorite people. I also have a super fun delivery this afternoon that I am excited to share next week!
February in Texas means time for the Winter Series horse shows in Katy at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center. It is a series of four weeks in a row of hunter/jumper horse shows and for some reason is one of my favorite shows of the year. Possibly because it reminds me of showing at the NILE when I was a kid and probably because I tend to enjoy the precarious weather that February brings to Texas.
The series started the first week of February and had four separate shows going until the last weekend of February. In the interest of not abandoning Boot City for multiple weekends in a row we opted to go to the first and last weekends. I drove down and hauled horses with my horsey bestie the first weekend and she picked us up to go down the last weekend. It is way funner to get to go with your best friend on a four hour drive through a really boring part of Texas.
My name is Sterling and I hate baths. Why a horse who was born to turn white has to dislike baths so much is beyond me. He’s gotten better, but he still thinks you are torturing him.
I have been taking lessons at a local jumper barn and was REALLY feeling READY for this horse show. I’ve gotten much better at seeing distances to the jumps and feeling like I’m actually riding rather than passengering. Well, the first weekend of showing didn’t really prove to be my best riding. We are still showing over 2’6″ fences so my mistakes aren’t hugely cumbersome to Sterling, but man they are frustrating for me. The first weekend of the show was smaller so there were only 10-12 in my division and we placed in all our classes so I’m happy about that aspect of the first weekend of showing. I am still not doing a very good job of controlling the consistency of Sterling’s canter around the course which caused a few chips (getting really close to the jump which is then HARD for the horse to get over safely) and a couple of very L O N G spots.
I went home and watched a bunch of videos from trainers teaching how to practice to find distances and set up some small cross rail and cavalletti jumps to practice. The weather wasn’t very cooperative towards the end of the month so we didn’t get as much practice as I would have liked, but thankfully I have two other horses I can ride to do the exercises multiple times in one day. Plus Simon and Coco benefit a lot from going over cavalletti. I went into Week IV feeling a bit better about my skillz. Now if I could just keep my brain tuned to the right channel while showing I would be in good shape!
We got to the show a day earlier for Week IV than we had for Week I because horsey bestie was showing on Friday. It was nice to be there and get to settle in before showing. Sterling gets a bit nervous so I felt like the extra day allowed him to settle in more. Plus it was WAY warmer in Katy than in Azle during the two day iceapolooza storm we had. Sorry Boot City for leaving you to blanket-unblanket-blanket-repeat three horses while I basked in the 75 degree temps with my one horse.
Our first schooling ride over fences was fabulous. He was relaxed. I (mostly) made good decisions. We got to school in our show ring without a ton of other horses to distract us. I finally felt good about showing. Hopefully I could keep it together for another 48’ish hours.
Nap time for the Unicorn. He doesn’t lay down often, but I think it is so cute when he does. I imagine this is how parents of real children must feel times 100.
The second weekend of showing definitely went better than the first weekend. It wasn’t perfect, but it was much better. Not once did we come out of the ring and trainer ask if I was trying to kill my horse! We had one bad chip the whole weekend. A few close spots and a couple long spots and for some reason I still let him zoom around the ends of the ring. There were nearly 20 in our division and we placed in 3 of 4 trips over fences so I was very happy with those results! We were in very good company (read, competing against horses WAY fancier) and didn’t make fools of ourselves. Plus I had SO much fun. Like SSSOOOO much fun! I love my barn family, my horsey bestie and pretty much everyone I get to hang out with at horse shows. And, of course, I adore my horse. Never would anyone have thought that the ugly steel grey yearling would turn into such a wonderful show pony!
Maybe one of my most favorite horse show pics to date. He just looks SO cute!
Welcome to the very last Farm Friday for 2017! I’m going to leave off the year with a bunch of photos of animals being tortured by being forced to don holiday attire. Enjoy!
Annie the reindog
Lily the reluctant Chihuahua Christmas jester (she was trying to chew on the bells)
Sterling looking stoic as usual in his Christmas jingle collar
Quila looking longingly out the window. Wondering why her parents make her wear humiliating holiday jingle collars.
Sterling actually not looking pissed that he’s wearing a Santa hat!
And one final, random cake picture. This is a Grapefruit Cake made famous by the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant. Read the story in the link, it’s great. I got the recipe from American Cake. My horsey bestie made it for a foxhunt brunch last year and I was extremely skeptical of a grapefruit cake. I mean, I love grapefruit, but in a cake? People. It is TO. DIE. FOR. It is SO good. I made one on Christmas and it is as heavenly as I remember. So go get you that cook book, because it is super fun to read and cook from, and make this cake. Right now.
The forecast in the next week or so in north Texas is COLD! Highs will be in the 40s and lows in the 20s, plus it feels colder because the air is humid. Mind you the temps in my hometown in Montana are MUCH colder with highs in the single digits and lows well below zero, but consistently freezing weather in north Texas is pretty cold. At times like this I try to remind myself how miserable it is to ride when it is in the 90s and humid in the summer so I can motivate myself to take advantage of not roasting. It can be difficult.
I wish I had photos from winter rides during my childhood. I can remember helping friends move cattle and 20 minutes into the ride I couldn’t feel my feet. By the time we were done moving the cattle or whatever task we were seeking to accomplish I likely couldn’t feel most of my face, my hands and below my knees! I didn’t ride regularly in the winter as a kid. Usually the winter was when I participated in some school sport like basketball or volleyball. My horses always got the winters off to get fat and hairy and have some down time.
We never had a horse colic in the wintertime, either. My parents had a very successful program for winter horse management. The horses had plenty of shelter and hay to keep warm and dry plus our stall runs and pastures had access to Ritchie horse waterers which NEVER froze. Horses don’t like to drink freezing cold water and if they don’t drink enough water they can get impactions in their gut which cause colic. It is vital that they have access to clean, not-freezing drinking water at all times.
Now that I live in Texas, winter is my favorite time to ride. It generally doesn’t get much below 40 for most of the season, so with enough clothing it is comfortable to be outside.
Sterling decked out in his winter riding attire.
When it really is “cold” I use some extra horse clothing to keep them warm while I ride. The quarter sheet covers their hind end, which is where some of their largest muscles are located. Quarter sheets are usually made from some type of fleece or wool fabric so when they do get hot it wicks away the moisture. I keep my horses under lights all year (this tricks their body into not knowing when the seasons change so they don’t grow thick winter coats) so they don’t get super woolly. Because of their lack of winter coat they need blankets when many fuzzy horses don’t. It seems cruel to take off their warm blanket to go ride and not cover them up at all, so I use a quarter sheet.
Bundled up rider, but less bundled up horse.
When we really get to working I will remove the quarter sheet so as to not overheat the horse, which can be worse than getting cold. It is much easier to get a horse warm than it is to cool them out in the winter time. At the horse show we went to a couple weeks ago many riders used a quarter sheet right up until they went into the show ring and put it on as soon as they came out. The older the horse is and the harder it is working, the more important it is to keep those muscles warm and prevent cramping and discomfort.
My tack room is heated so my horses also don’t have to deal with freezing cold bits in their mouths. When I go to fox hunts I often put my bridle in the floor board of the pickup under the heater so when we get to the hunt they get a nice warm bit in their mouth.
As far as keeping myself warm, I’m a big fan of layers. Especially in Texas where it often feels really cold when I first go outside, but as I start moving around I get warmer and warmer. Layers allow the removal of extra clothing so I don’t get too hot. And my favorite way to keep my ears warm under my helmet is with “hunter hair”. Hunter hair is accomplished by putting your (long) hair in a ponytail with hair covering your ears and a hairnet over your whole head to keep your hair in place. You flip the ponytail up and put the helmet over your hair. This makes your hair an ear warmer! Brilliant!
You can kind of see my hunter hair covering my ears. It works much better and is far less bulky than any type of headband to cover your ears under a helmet.winter r
If I still lived in Montana I’m pretty sure my horses would still get winters off and I would spend the season gaining the festive fifteen from eating too much and not getting enough exercise. I’m looking forward to lots more winter and spring rides before hot Texas summer returns.
Y’all. I have purchased about 4 Christmas gifts and didn’t do cards yet. #christmas2017fail Oh well. I still love you all and wish you a VERY Merry Christmas!
It rained a couple inches this week so I kept the horses up for a few days to allow the pasture to recover a bit. Simon took full advantage of the mud to pursue a new hair color. Or to become a mud monster.
Jaguar came out of his stall quite lame yesterday and scared me half to death that he was foundering. My kind neighbor gave him some bute while I was at work and I packed his feet last night. It seems to be more of a sore feet from the rain issue than founder. This is Jaguar with his hoof pack booties on in festive green. He seemed much better this morning and it’s raining again so all horses are in the barn for a couple more days.
This past weekend my grey unicorn and I were back in the show ring and it was a GOOD weekend! The Winter Frost Fire show was held at The Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas. This was the first year to hold a show at this venue on this particular weekend. I loved that it was so close to Christmas, but since it was the first year for the show and amidst the holidays it was not a huge show. I don’t love crowds and have yet to attend one of the really big Texas shows so this suited me just fine.
Sterling is still dutifully toting me around as I try to figure out how to properly ride him around a course of 2’6″ jumps and by golly this weekend I made it happen more often than not for the first time ever! I intend for this blog to be interesting to read for my friends and family who don’t ride so I’m not going to go into great detail, but rather give a fun overview of the weekend.
Sterling in his festive braids waiting for his turn in the ring.
Since it was a small show I also took this weekend as an opportunity to practice my mane braiding skills. Most ‘A’ show riders hire professional braiders to braid their horse’s mane so that it looks perfect. When I showed Quarter Horses as a kid this wasn’t an option so I always banded my own horse’s mane (this is done for western stock horse events) and when I got the chance I would braid my English horses. I am a self taught braider so my technique was rather rough and inconsistent. My horsey bestie is a fabulous braider and we have practiced together a few times and she gave me pointers so I was able to braid Sterling myself for this show and it wasn’t embarrassing! She put the pom pom in his forelock and a snowflake charm on one of his mane braids, but I did the rest.
My perfect unicorn!
I showed in the Modified Adult Division at this show over fences that are 2’6″. My goal going into the weekend was to keep a consistent canter around the entire course and NOT try to find any distances myself, just leave it to Sterling. I’m so proud to say that I stuck to it about 90% of the time around all 6 jumping courses. There were a few times when I had a brain freeze and threw him away right at an oxer or thought I saw a distance and made him get close to a fence, but they were few and far between. We came home with TWO blue ribbons over fences! I’m riding much more consistently and I think I’m starting to actually be able to feel the proper ride. This has been the hardest part of learning to jump for me is learning the feel. Everything else has come to me so naturally when I ride, it can be maddening that I think I’m doing something right when in reality I’m doing something very wrong.
Sterling has been a saint through my learning process. Not many green horses would put up with the mistakes that I have made over the years as Sterling and I have learned this whole jumping gig together. Thankfully he LOVES his job and while he can be a goofball on the ground, he is nearly always the same horse under saddle. He LOVES to jump and he LOVES to horse show. I am by no means a proficient rider over fences, but I do think I’ve reached a turning point and can finally start working on more of the polished nuances of riding a course rather than just trying to get around without embarrassing myself, my horse and my trainer.
Posing in front of the award winning Christmas stall decorations of JNL Stables.
I even kept it together and had as good of a second day showing as I did first day. I made a mistake in the walk to canter transition in the flat class that probably cost us the blue ribbon, but even that was better than the last show. All in all we won two blue ribbons over fences, three second place ribbons and one third place ribbon in addition to our second place in the flat class. I’m SO happy with this show being our conclusion to the 2017 show year! Hopefully we will be able to move up to the Adult Amateur division in 2018.
The final night of the horse show was a $10,000 1.35 jumper class with a leadline division between the first jumper round and the jump-off. What in the world could be cuter than a little girl on her gray pony with all kinds of Christmas bling AND Santa?
A few weeks ago we were gifted the world’s cutest pony. He has been all over social media in the ensuing days.
Samson. The world’s cutest paint bay pony.
We housed Samson with the goats when he arrived. This would allow us to get to know him in smaller quarters, prevent him from having to be turned out with the big horses until we are able to supervise them together and see how he did with the goats. We don’t know much about Samson prior to when he was purchased from the kill pen about a year ago, but based on his behavior after arriving at our house I would venture to guess he was either mistreated or neglected in his past life. Try as I might I could NOT catch him! He would eat treats out of my hand over the fence, but if I went in the pen with him he would just run away from me. It drove me CRAZY because his little legs were covered with botfly eggs and I NEEDED to scrape them off. His eyes were a bit runny and NEEDED to be cleaned. He just needed some TLC!
I posted in a horsey Facebook group for advice and the in-a-nutshell advice was to have patience. Spend as much time as possible in his pen with him, but not forcing him to interact. I continued to give him treats over the fence anytime I had something in my pockets so he started coming to the fence pretty much anytime he saw me. Progress. A friend came over to ride with me the week of Thanksgiving and he ate cookies out of her hand when she was in his pen!
If I made any hand movement towards his face or his halter he would get away from me as fast as he could. I started giving him treats with one hand and petting his forehead with the other hand when I could. Sometimes he was OK with it, and sometimes he would back away. His reactions were getting less and less dramatic, but he still looked pretty darn skeptical of me.
Last week one of the goats had a kid. I always try to touch and handle the kids as much as possible when they are tiny so they are easier to work with when they get big and have horns. This was a surprise kid and I don’t think Samson knew she existed until I “showed” her to him and then he was FASCINATED.
“What is this tiny creature?! I must touch it with my nose!”
I think it helped for Samson to see me handling the baby goat. He was very curious about it the first couple days it was in the goat pen and would come as close as he felt safe and stare at it when I pet and held it.
Our big turning point happened on Sunday this past weekend. I kept the horses in their pens all day and we let Samson out into the big pasture with the goats for the first time ever. I was a bit worried I would never catch him again since he was now out in about 6 acres. He toodled around and grazed and followed the big horses around some while I rode, but he generally kept his distance. He did seem fascinated by the barn, the runs and the big horses in general. I was cleaning tack in my tack room with the big barn doors open when I saw something in the corner of my eye that was small and brown sneak down the barn aisle behind me. I walked slowly and quietly out of the tack room to find Samson happily munching hay from the wheelbarrow in the barn aisle. I hurried over and closed the big barn doors so he was confined to the barn. I didn’t want to fight with him, but oftentimes if a horse has been caught before they know when they are completely confined and can’t get away. Well, it worked. I was able to walk up and give him some carrots and snap the halter rope onto his halter.
AT LAST! I caught my little buddy!
He was extremely tense at first, but I gave him a few more carrot pieces and let him continue to munch hay and he slowly relaxed. I got to work with my bot knife on his legs, then combed his mane, cleaned his eyes, picked up his feet and scratched him all over. He was apprehensive, but not scared. I was SO excited to finally get my hands on the little guy! He was pretty much nonreactive and let me do all the grooming I wanted.
We even went outside and did some selfies. He was way into the phone/camera.
I didn’t keep him contained for very long and after I removed his halter he got a final cookie. He came in the barn again later in the afternoon to steal more hay and he pretty easily let me catch him again. The more times I can catch him and provide a good experience, then hopefully he will become easy to catch even in the largest pasture! Hard-to-catch horses are one of my pet peeves and can be dangerous so I’m happy this is progressing so quickly.
Sterling and I have been showing at regional and rated shows for about 3 1/2 years now. Pretty much all three years we have been showing over 2’6″ fences because I was basically starting at zero. I REALLY want to move up to bigger fences, but the only way to to do that is to ride better and to ride better I need to jump more. The primary barrier to that has been that the trainer I ride with at horse shows is located about four hours away from me and I really only see her at horse shows. To remedy that I started taking more lessons with a couple of trainers close to me who have similar approaches to riding and jumping to my horse show trainer. I still don’t get lessons as often as I should and now that fox hunting will be starting it will be even harder, but I’m committed to doing it both for me and for my horses. I want to bring Coco along correctly and not put her through the misery of my beginner mistakes that Sterling was such a saint about dealing with.
In that vein I had a lesson on Sterling last Saturday and it was SO FUN! The barn is a primarily jumper barn so the jumps are much wilder looking than hunter fences. Sterling has always been a brave jumper (he isn’t brave in any other aspect of his life, though. Remember trail rides?) so wasn’t phased by the crazy striped poles. He even jumped a liverpool with no hesitation! Most horses freak out the first time they jump a liverpool because they are moats of horse-eating scariness. Not Sterling. Other than me riding like a dufus he was perfect.
This is a liverpool jump. I don’t think we were jumping anywhere near this height, but you get an idea of what it looks like.
I made a ton of mistakes throughout the lesson, but he marched right along and WE JUMPED AROUND OUR FIRST EVER 3′ COURSE! This trainer had given us some lessons when I was first starting to jump Sterling and she commented about how much more forward he is now, so at least I’ve done something right along the way. We got our strides down every line and didn’t have any hard chips. A few close spots and a couple Tara-why-are-you-looking-down-and-not-forward moments, but I did better at keeping him forward and even used too much leg a couple times.
This isn’t from our lesson, but it is a pretty pic of Sterling at the horse show in Katy last weekend. Hopefully we can continue to get more lessons in and move up to bigger fences at the shows sooner rather than later. He’s such a good boy!
Photo by Jerry Mohme. It looks like we are in a forest, but we aren’t.