Friday, July 29, 2016

The Blue Chicken

Years ago, we used to board at a place that had a variety of critters running around. One day, a boarder's three year old daughter came running up to her father, yelling "DADDY, DADDY, I SAW A BLUE CHICKEN!!!" Her father said something to her like, "A blue chicken? Now honey, we talked about this..." at which point she grabbed his hand, dragged him around the barn, and started pointing. "See Daddy, there's a WHITE chicken (pointed to a white chicken), a BROWN chicken (pointed to a brown chicken), and a BLUE chicken!" She was pointing at the resident peacock. 

Saturday evening, I went out to feed the horses and found this guy perusing the chicken coop:

Yes, that's exactly what you think it is.

We've had some other weird things show up at our house, including a bull, the neighbor's horse, and countless snakes, but I never thought we'd have a resident peacock. He spent the night in our oak tree, but was hanging out in our neighbor's garage by Sunday morning (I know this because they called me to ask if we'd lost a peacock.)

He dropped back by Sunday afternoon and hung out for a while, and this morning I heard him in the greenbelt. Apparently he doesn't have anyone he "belongs" to, but given he can fly over our neighbor's 8 foot fence, I don't think anyone will be able to "keep" him.

Anybody got a good recipe for blue chickens?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Brego's hoof wall resection

WARNING: Graphic pictures. Do not continue if you don't want to see.

Brego had his hoof wall resection yesterday. According to my vet, it was NBD for Brego (of course, he had good drugs on board and lots of people taking care of him). For me, it was super nerve-wracking - I was so worried they would get in there and find something really bad. Plus, I wasn't there for it, so I had to wait for updates as my vet could send them.

The procedure went off with no problem. He got a special set of custom shoes for support, and then they started removing the hoof wall. As they started digging, they discovered that the entire hoof wall, all the way down, was dead - there was no connection to the laminae underneath. When they got to the top of the hoof, they didn't find a keratoma, but instead a pocket of damaged and infected cells. That area got cleaned and debrided until nothing but healthy cells were left.

The theory that the vets (there were four in attendance) and the farrier have is that years ago, Brego either had some tiny bit of infection or foreign body travel up from the toe all the way to the coronary band, or he had some slight damage to the coronary band. He blew out an abscess in exactly the same spot almost two years before we got him, so this whole thing probably started back then. He then went two years with no abscess, blew one out last spring, then went ANOTHER year with no abscess, then six months, and then it really became a problem this year. But, guy has been walking around with a compromised hoof for quite some time, and he's so stoic that nobody even suspected.

As for recovery, the plan is a little up in the air. He's staying at the hospital for the next week, and right now his hoof is just wrapped with daily bandage changes. We may continue with daily changes once he comes home, or we may put a hoof cast on him. He'll definitely be on stall rest or in a very small paddock for a while, but whether that is weeks or months we won't know until we see how he progresses. Once we are sure the hoof is growing back in normally, the vet wants him to get as much (careful) movement as possible since movement helps the hoof grow. Total time to grow an entirely new hoof is 9-12 months, but he should be able to return to at least light work long before that.

So, please keep your fingers crossed for an uncomplicated recovery and a beautiful, perfect new hoof!

And now the moment you've all been waiting for... the gory pics. Seriously, if you don't do blood, please don't look.

Cutting guides for the resection. You can see just how many abscesses he's blown out in the last few months.

Starting to nip out chunks.

So much hoof to get through!

Here's what it looked like after they nipped out some of it. That black section in the middle is dead hoof that doesn't connect to the laminae underneath. 

After using the nippers, they got to work with the dremel (I would have had to leave for this, gah). You can see how many holes there are down the hoof wall, and how much dead area there is under it all. Poor guy.

Did I mention there was an audience?

Hoof wall resection complete. The white part is laminae.  Note how his coronary band is pushed up and bulging? That's where the root of the problem was.

Post-debridement under the coronary band. You can see that it's no longer bulging and the coronary band looks more even all the way around.

Today I get to FaceTime with my vet during the bandage change so I can see everything up close and personal. Ah, the magic of technology!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Taran confo shots: BEEFCAKE

It's been a while since I've posted any confo shots of Taran, which is kind of a bummer because DAMN he looks amazing. I know, I say that every time... I keep thinking that he's done changing but apparently not!

Here's the last pic I posted, in April:

April 10, 2016

He looked pretty good in April, but the angle and the fact that he had his neck so arched helped hide a few flaws.

His May pic isn't as nice - he's standing with his head cocked toward the camera so his neck looks a little weird, but you can still see how his topline is getting stronger (especially right behind the saddle) and his butt is continuing to round out:

May 22, 2016

 Unfortunately I missed out on a confo shot from June, but here's the July shot:

July 19, 2016

I swear, he looks like he's gained 50 pounds of muscle! His topline is really starting to get stronger - that divot under his withers is filling in and so is the area right behind the saddle - and he just overall looks much bulkier. His neck is a little hard to see because of his mane, but that big under-neck muscle seems to have all but disappeared.

For comparison, here's what he looked like back in December. 

I did end up changing his feed about a month ago. I'd switched him from TC Lite to TC Senior in May, but for whatever reason he didn't really seem to like the TC Senior (weirdo). So I switched him back to the Lite in mid-June, added a flake of alfalfa AM and PM, and started him on Platinum Performance. He's also been getting a lot of trainer rides in July, so that's helping him build strength and muscle too. Whatever's doing it, his body is still changing SO rapidly!

Anybody else got confo shots over time to share? If so, do a blog post! I love these progressions!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Champion Jousting Haffie (and his handsome sidekick Taran)

With Brego on vacation due to his foot, Paddy has once again stepped up to take on the role of Jousting Haffie - this time for the SCA's (a medieval reenactment group) 50th year celebration, held in Dansville, Indiana.

Fortunately, our road trip was uneventful if long. Both Paddy and Taran are great haulers, and drank and ate plenty during the 18 hour haul.

Crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois at dawn.

Stopping somewhere along the way.

The fairgrounds at Danville have excellent facilities - we'd managed to snag two double stalls for the boys (with stall mats!) so they had plenty of room to move around, which was good because turnout was limited to about 30 minutes per day.

What I thought would be a relaxing week turned out to be super hectic, but SO MUCH FUN. 

I taught a class on dressage in the 16th century. I know that sounds weird so let me explain. In the early 1500s in Italy, riding began to evolve from being solely a method of transportation or for warfare to being an art form. Noblemen began to show off their riding skills in elaborate performances. There are even chapters in riding manuals from that time entitled "How to Ride Before a Prince" which lays out exactly what you are supposed to show off your horse to a prince or other noble person...
"... you shall put your Horse gently forth into a comely trot. Being come against the Person of state, bow your body down to the crest of your Horse, then raising your self again, pass half a score yards beyond him..." (Markham, 1593)
In modern terms: A enter working trot, X halt, salute. Proceed working trot...

There are tons of woodcuts from 16th century riding manuals too, which show exercises that are suspiciously similar to a lot of the things many of us use in everyday riding:

Spiral in, spiral out. (Corte, 1573)

Turn on the forehand. (Fiaschi, 1556)

I could go on and on about this because I think it's super cool, but the upshot was that a bunch of people put together performances "for a Prince," using exercises and patterns shown in 16th century riding manuals. Basically they got to create a DIY 16th century dressage test and perform it. People got SUPER into it - here's a pic of everyone standing around the table with all the copies of 16th century riding manuals I'd brought, picking out the patterns they were going to ride:

I had so many people - most of who were not dressage riders and were in fact intimidated by "Dressage" - tell me how much fun they had, and how they wanted to go home and do more research and put together more performances and ride them. So I'm super stoked that folks will pick this up and run with it, and I can't wait to see other people's performances!

Here's me and Taran in our 16th century Ride Before a Prince outfit. Taran was a superstar and made me look like I knew what I was doing.

It's hard to see in this pic, but this was one of the highlights of the week. I'm cantering a circle around a guy playing bagpipes... in perfect tempo with our canter. It was like riding a freestyle with your very own band that mimics every movement with the music. SO EPIC, I wanted to keep riding forever.

But, on to jousting. Reader's digest version: Paddy and hubby were ON FIRE and won.

Hubby gets help with his armor.

Hubby and I (photo by Tannis Baldwin)

Paddy in Hover Haffie mode (photo by Tannis Baldwin)

Paddy also rocked the mounted combat, and they ended up second.

We managed to get a little trail riding in too, although every time we went out, Paddy would be mobbed by adoring fans.
 Because let's face it, everyone in the entire world is part of Paddy's adoring fan club.

CobJockey also happened to make it out for the event, not once but twice. I'm afraid we may have gone a little overboard (I mean, how often do you put a taxidermy bison head in someone's bed?) introducing her to the crazy, but the steak and scotch probably made things a little better.

Alas, this is the only picture that exists to prove she was there dressed in weird medieval clothes. 

Oh, and I managed to cross another item off my horsey bucket list: one of the ladies at the event offered to let me try riding in her side saddle. Taran was definitely not certain about this prospect, pointing out to me that we've been working for MONTHS on him moving away from one leg or the other, and that if I was only going to cue with my left leg, he would happily leg yield right all day long. I did eventually get him to trot using voice commands, although he stuck to a small jog because his rider had clearly lost her marbles.

Side saddle is rather less fun than I thought it would be, although I now have even more respect for people who can actually do this well. 

Someone even managed to take a decent "family" picture of us:

Well, decent except for the part where Taran forgot to say "cheese." I swear.

And of course, the ONE TIME I ride without a helmet for FIVE minutes, someone took a picture of that too:
He did get the posing down in this one though!

We had a great time hanging out with old friends and meeting new, and the whole thing rekindled my interest in research on 16th century dressage. So you might be seeing some posts about that from time to time... along with more stories of The Jousting Haffieeeee!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Brego hoof update

When last we left our overlarge hero, he'd had both my vet and the hospital farrier out to try to tackle a recurring abscess in his coronet band. We took some rads that showed two pockets of infection, and then the farrier dug some giant holes in Brego's foot to let things drain.

This still squicks me out

Brego seemed to be doing well, galloping around like an eediot, showing no signs that his Holey Hoof was bothering him at all.

And then he went lame again, and another abscess blew. In the same spot. 


I had the vet and farrier out AGAIN. They discussed options, took more rads, and called some of their peers to consult. The consensus is that there must be *something* causing these abscesses, and it's most likely that Brego has a keratoma. Keratomas are benign tumors that form under the hoof wall, for reasons yet unknown. The only way to address the issue (repeat abscessing) is to remove the tumor... which, given its probable location (up near the coronet band), means a hoof wall resection.

You can see the new hoof is coming in completely mangled.

Since there's nothing's showing up on radiographs, my vet wanted to have an MRI done so they could see the extent of the issue before they started surgery. After calls to several clinics with standing MRIs (Brego almost died on the table during flap surgery before we got him, so he is not a candidate for full anesthesia, ever again), we discovered that standing MRIs can only handle hoofs up to 7 inches in diameter - and M'sieur Brego is 8.5 inches in diameter right after a trim. And apparently all standing MRIs are made by the same company, in one size... so an MRI is out.

Sooo... the plan is that Brego will have a standing hoof wall resection done as soon in a week or two, when my farrier and vet can get their schedules to align. They will do an ultrasound and some sort of vein trace just before, so they can attempt to pinpoint the keratoma's exact location so they know how far to go. The good news is that it hasn't affected any bones, so the prognosis is excellent if they can get it all.

Brego will be in a hoof cast for about a month, so the new hoof can start to regrow. He's already on massive doses of hoof supplement to help with hoof growth.  Once the cast can come off, he'll be in a special shoe, probably with metal bands epoxied across the surgery site for additional support. Horses seem to handle hoof wall resections surprisingly well, despite some of us humans (namely me) being completely grossed out just looking at pictures of other resections. I don't know what it is about blood and horse feets, but it's just SO WRONG. But I'm sure I'll have plenty of gross pictures to share, because there's nothing more fun, right?

And don't worry... Brego is milking this for ALL he is worth. Which is currently several carrots per day while he gets his foot cleaned and treated!