Wednesday 28 June 2023

On Being a Bad Pony Caretaker

As a quick recap, this seems to be the spring and summer of sorting out everyone's health issues.

Sophie's included. I'm pretty sure I mentioned we've been treating her for ulcers (under vet guidance), on the assumption she had them.

You get a bunch of June 2023 Sophie pictures with no particular relevance to the topic

Her weight and coat looked great this past winter and spring, but she's always been a lot tougher to keep weight on than you'd think a pony has any right to be. We discussed the possibility of ulcers Feb 2022, I think, but she tested low in Vitamin E, and when we upped that there was enough improvement I didn't follow through with anything further. Vet was comfortable with that choice as well, since S always has either grazing or free choice hay and generally lives a pretty low-risk-for-ulcers style life.


I still kept wondering off and on, though, so recently when she started getting downright nasty about blankets and tack I thought it might be time to investigate. My feeling was good enough for the vet, so we started treating her.

Yesterday marked four weeks, so we scoped her. I was feeling somewhat positive because she's been way better and less stressy about life in general and she looks dapply-y and fantastic. But also it's summertime out there and maybe she's just warm and sleepy and happy out grazing growing grass? :)

Because yeah, there were/are ulcers. Most are nearly healed, but there are a couple of awful looking ones still there that make me feel like the worst person ever. 

I've for sure got impatient and quite strict with her over all the ear pinning and bite-y faces and leg waving when she absolutely had every right to tell me to f off with my saddle and riding schedule. It doesn't look comfortable now, so I can't imagine what it looked (or felt) like before treatment.

The part I really beat myself up over was that after confirming her feeding and lifestyle and history, the vet's opinion was that there's a good chance she has always had them/came to me with them. 

So, lesson learned.  A lot of the 'mare' and anxious behavior and things I just thought were part of who she is, have likely been pain related all this time. 

Also, ponies. Dappled and round and sassy, the generally accepted sassy part of the pony stereotype might be the only hint you get that they're actually not feeling so great.

So, we move on to 4 more weeks of gastroguard and sucralfate, but the vet seems optimistic we'll be OK after that.


Wednesday 21 June 2023

Real Expectations

 Another week of ponies just ticking over, property improvements taking place and house renos slowly occurring. 

I have a ton of fun getaways and adventures penciled in the calendar this summer, but despite all my talk of salvaging a show season, at this point none of them involve actually riding horses.

Went for a hike and saw some very big trees. I'll never capture the scale with a phone camera. Riding the trail is a bucket list thing for me's a bit of a grind in and out up a steep rocky trail, but the route once you're up there looks very horse friendly.

I've got zero complaints because every week I feel just a little bit better, and I do hop on for at least a short ride most days. However I'm also not at a point where I can realistically book all the shows, spend all the (non-refundable) entry and travel money and know that my body is going to cooperate enough to 'officially' do the thing (and more importantly, have fun) on the day. 

Summer coats shedding so winter coats can come in, time is flying by

 The temptation to up the ante is there. A lot of my friends are going full speed ahead right now with summer showing and have continuous meet ups and training sessions planned. I feel left out. I want to go do all the fun things too. But also, most days I'm genuinely happy in my own space, taking things as they come without having any looming deadlines hanging over me. It's a funny contrast for sure, because instead of the goals and schedules and self criticism I normally rule my life with, I've had no choice but to embrace living day to day and accepting and making the best of what I'm given.

Speaking of accepting what you're given, B currently has a tent in an electric fence paddock. A new shelter and post and rail fencing there will be complete for baby Trademark's arrival. B loves her tent and time outs from Sophie so it's turned into a thing this summer where she's camping at night while Sophie gets the barn to herself  :)

 I think as riders the culture is so much about being tough and sucking it up and getting the job done that's it's hard to not feel like a bit of a failure when I'm sitting on the sidelines many days, partly by circumstance, and partly by choice and an attempt at risk mitigation.  Choosing when and where I ride or work the horses is such a logical thing to do while I am a bit broken and waiting for further medical input, but I still struggle with it. There are a lot of days I end up getting totally in my head about it, like am I just making excuses? Could I be working harder? Taking bigger chances?

Sophie's been super this week. We're definitely still going through a phase where she's feeling very good and thinks she knows it all and should dictate the rules, so a pre ride longe is back on the schedule. Fingers crossed we're trending positive again, though.

But mostly, the answer is that I need to let all that noise go. The horses don't care what we do on any given day, and I am not on any elite athlete path where my future success or income depends on how I ride. I've been slowly crossing shows and clinics off the calendar and replacing those days with other fun adventures. Many of those fun adventures might not involve me riding but they're exciting and something to look forward to nonetheless. More on that next time....I think I have a fun getaway planned each month between now and October, and July's is epic (and horsey related).

I still have a barn kitty! She's pretty friendly now and runs to meet me at the barn. We've totally bought in and are already contemplating what we can set up at the barn so she can stay warm and safe this winter.


Thursday 8 June 2023

Another week in photos

 Same old, same old. But in the best possible way. I've been super busy. 

I needed a picture of a busy bee but here's a butterfly I saw instead

This past week, we trailered to the club grounds once, but otherwise we stuck close to home and  enjoyed the outdoors and the long daylight hours to their fullest.

Our yard and gardens are in full bloom

As is my allergy nemesis, broom. I backtracked on this trail because it narrows further and basically you need to be prepared to be covered in flowers and pollen. Also, there are bears in here. So many bears and they love creeping around in the shrubs right next to the trails (or maybe they love creeping me, I don't know, but I'm getting a little tired of us all being mutually surprised to see each other...we all just need to hang out where there are sight lines ok?)

I turned the sprinkler on in our little veggie garden, thinking that and the electric wire around 3 sides of it would be enough to keep B out while still letting her have a treat and mow around the edges. Nope, that was a fail. Although her regrets every time the sprinkler come around and hit her bum did make me laugh. Poor B.

This was my best landscaping purchase last summer. A sad little rose bush from Wal-Mart for $7 and it's thriving and already growing over the barn roof! Pro gardener here (kidding) staking it with baling twine and caring for it by throwing Bridget poo in it's general direction once in a while.

I installed a shelf and hooks on the other side of the barn. Husband G is much happier now. He's  challenged as to how to put a halter on if it's just left randomly left in a pile. I should have done this forever ago anyways, tossing them in a nearby bucket that also held hose attachments and sprinklers was never a great idea.

I found this chair abandoned in an overgrown part of the yard last fall. It's actually the first thing I ever used tools and built and designed myself. The wood is pretty scratched and beat up. It's had a hard life, living in the wild for who knows how long.  So it got a clean and a fun coat of paint last weekend. Maybe it will live another 20 years, who knows...I'm not overly sentimental but I thought it deserved a rescue. House painting is also still coming along, the side behind the chair is finished at last.

Lots of riding happening. I have a clinic and a show in the calendar next month. Eek!

Sometimes with extra company

This is the barn kitty of mysterious origins. He or she is lovely and I want to keep them, but first we're asking neighbours and will get scanned for microchip if no owner found nearby. It's so friendly I feel like someone must care for it, but also it's thin under all that fur and very hungry. I'm a terrible person and crossing fingers for a legit stray so I can keep and get a vet check up.

Only problem is that S is quite tuned into small animals and will chase. Here she's spotted Kitty on the fence line.  I don't know if her motives are playful or other, but so far kitty seems aware and very cautious of her.

A major feed room overhaul took place, there were a ton of yard tools and leftover construction stuff stashed in there. So, out with that and in with loads of hay. The barn is nearly full.

S looking golden for a golden hour ride. I've been riding as late as 9:30 at night. It feels like such a luxury to be able to ride whenever I want, especially after a hot day.

A pic of B that didn't quite turn out, but I still like it. A different time of day and better framing and I think I'd have my black and white arty pic I want to edit for my new office wall.

Hope everyone is enjoying the start of summer. My thoughts are with everyone affected by wildfires and am crossing fingers for rain for everyone.


Thursday 1 June 2023

Progress Is Progress

 No matter how slow.

The past week hasn't been the friendliest of weeks. A few days ago I wrote out an update that sounded more like an airing of grievances than anything coherent, but as so often happens, a few more days passed that brought lots of positive things and life is feeling a bit more balanced again.

 Lest we forget, here are the (condensed) lowlights:

- Ponies both had their annual teeth and vaccines. Sophie had a nasty reaction to either the sedation or the vaccines and was worryingly unwell for a few days. We're also going to treat her for ulcers. The herd bound thing got worse before it got better and I wonder if the stress of me separating them the week before partly led to Sophie having such a bad reaction and this possible ulcer flare up.

- After waiting 4 months, I finally had my MRI appointment to help determine next steps. Or I mean I should have had my appointment. The ferry was cancelled the morning of and I missed my appointment. It doesn't matter what the reason, if you miss an appointment you are put back at the bottom of the waitlist and wait for another letter via snail mail giving you an appointment time and a hopefully not too far away location. On the day, I'm not sure there were enough words for my feelings on our highways, ferries, and healthcare systems. Another 4 months of waiting feels insurmountable, but it is what it is and we'll explore alternate options if need be. 

The highlights:

Sophie has started to come back to her normal self. The sun's been shining. I've been doing a lot of hiking and finally hit that 100km/month goal I had. Bridget's been feeling good. I've been riding (poorly, but with a smile on my face).  Baby pony is looking fancy and adorable and I can't wait to meet him. I've been adopted by a barn cat and I hope she sticks around. House painting is over halfway complete, move in day gets closer all the time.  I have a tentative plan that means a small show season could be in the works. 

All very good things, both in the now, and to look forward to :)