Monday, June 30, 2008

A job!

I know I haven't been updating on Limerick over the past couple days. I have been writing and re-writing her health issues to others in an attempt to seek answers. Understandably, when it comes to this blog, I am worn out.

Long story short, the vet saw Lim again on the 27th. More radiographs were taken. She definitely has laminitis, although it is still mild. Rads show a black line of laminar separation along her hoof wall; we are monitoring this closely. Resectioning will be done if necessary but let's pray it doesn't come to that.

For the non-horsey folks, a resectioning is when the vet removes a portion of the hoof wall, and the dead laminae beneath it, to reveal healthy laminae. The horse's foot is then bandaged and wrapped, often with a sort of cushion beneath the hoof for support. When Limerick foundered in 2002, around 75% of her hoof wall was resectioned and quite frankly, it was traumatizing for me to see her foot like that.

The vet also did a bladder ultrasound and checked Lim's teeth. Crystals were found in her bladder--not necessarily a bad thing but I need to try to get an urine sample from Lim tomorrow morning before we haul her to Morrie Waud Equine Center. Her teeth are not horrible but could use a floating.

I have been extremely anxious about the trip tomorrow. I have been unable to eat properly for days, and today is the worst. I ate a banana earlier and felt like I was going to throw up. Fortunately, I had the right mind to buy liquid-based foods yesterday at Jewel and have been drinking these. They help some.

As my aunt told me, it is the "unknown" that is agitating me so.

On a much happier note, do you remember the job I had to go interview for before the vet was done with Limerick on the 25th? They offered me the position! The salary is $1k/year higher than my previous salary, so that combined with the lower rent and utility bills of my new apartment is very nice! I need it, badly, with all these vet bills coming up.

The position is as a Report Coordinator with a company that tests particles. I will be compiling reports of the results of these tests, and I will also be doing some marketing-related writing for the company in the future. It's such a good feeling to be putting my writing degree to work! The company is very small--17 people--with a lot of growth headed their way. Everyone there is very nice and the office atmosphere was friendly, supportive, and laid-back. After the harsh working environment of my old employer, which actually made me physically ill, it is a sweet change.

I have a third interview with another company on Monday. I will go but I think my heart is set on the first job.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

A better day

I'm feeling a bit better today. I'm not so freaked out and worrying I will lose Limerck.

One day at a time. The visit to Morrie Waud may not even reveal anything, or it may be something super-simple and easy to mend. It will be a hard day for both Limerick and I, but it is necessary.

Colic, thinness, and Limerick's age--17--are all prompting me to make sure she is okay. I realize this trip will not be cheap, but it's worth it for my peace of mind.

I know that if I decide to skip to this trip, I will always be wondering if there is something going on in Lim, something that could have been detected and treated before it got worse (and much more expensive!). The guilt and worry would consume me. You can't put a price tag on knowledge.

The other night, I was trying to explain my bond with Limerick to my mom. I stated that she was a partner. My mom suggested that she was a companion. But neither word was what I was looking for so I left it at that.

Yesterday, propelled by my passion for Limerick, I told a friend what she meant to me. I said that she was my equine sister--we are so similar, and so close, and share a strong bond and mutual understanding of each other. There are times when we will bicker like sisters, too! The day I broke my toe because I was insisting she walk while she was insisting that she graze comes to mind. But days like that are few and far in between.

Last night I was reading Tao of Equus. In an early section of the book, the author states that a trainer once said that her relationship with her mare was unusual, and that they were like sisters. The words struck me hard and I re-read them over and over.

I had said the same thing earlier that day. Never before have I heard the phrase be used, and now it was coming to me twice in a day.

Today, we waited for the tractor to move so Limerick could go back into her stall. We stood in the upper barn. I held her head and breathed in the sweet scent of her forelock and ears. I miss riding her, but the best bonding happens on the ground.

The vet will be out soon to re-evaluate Lim.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"A horse is worth more than riches."

A horse is worth more than riches.

--Spanish proverb

I awoke with another headache this morning. Third day in a row. Another night full of uneasy dreams.

The vet saw Limerick yesterday morning; the appointment was at 7:30am but she arrived at 7:50. By then, I was tense with anxiety; I had to go home at 9 to prepare for a second job interview at 9:30. Yes, another one--this one holds the most promise. (after note: It went well!)

It was raining hard; I sat at the end of the upper barn, facing the driveway, and waited for her headlights.

When she arrived, I knew what I wanted to say. We stood in the doorway of the middle barn, where Limerick is, just barely out of the rain. A black barn cat walked around us, looking up, waiting to be pet.

"I want to talk about Limerick colicking first," I said. "I think that this, and the fact that she is thin and won't gain weight past a certain point, is cause for concern."

The vet nodded her agreement. I went over the details of the colic episode on Monday, being sure to state key details such as the relative quietness of her right dorsal quadrant, the heightened breathing and flared nostrils, and her disinterest in food. I also noted that all other vital signs were normal.

"It really scares me that she's colicking, and I want to find out what's going on," I said. The vet nodded.

"I know it's scary, and I agree with you," she said.

"Do you think it's possible she has an enterolith?" I asked.

I have been researching enteroliths over the past couple days. Enteroliths are stones composed of minerals in the horse's abdomen. They form around inorganic material, or material that will not dissolve within the acid of the gut. Examples include sand, a pebble and a piece of nylon baling twine. Enteroliths can be small and easily passed by the horse, or they can be as big as grapefruit. They are much more common in the western United States but they are not unheard of here; I recall a school horse named Bentley that had a large enterolith, and a friend believes one of her horses may have passed due to complications from enteroliths. Enteroliths can shift around and cause partial blockages, and therefore colic, then shift back into place and the horse is better.

Symptoms of enteroliths include mild recurring colic, weight loss/thinness, lethargy, and crankiness or reluctance to work. Symptoms of enteroliths may become worse if the horse is not exercised.

The idea came into my head when I texted my friend that Limerick was colicking on Monday.

"You may want to have a trailer ready for her, in case it is a stone," she said. A stone? As soon as I got home that night, I Googled "stone in horse gut".

The symptoms "recurring colic" and "thinness" jumped out at me. For months, I have been struggling to put weight on Limerick. But no matter how much she consumes, at her plumpest her ribs still show, and any slight deviation from her normal routine and well-being means a dramatic weight loss.

I also noted lethargy and reluctance to work. Even after her arthritis was treated and she was sound, Limerick would have many days where she did not want to work under saddle. On those days, I would have easy rides, or simply get off. Granted, she also had many days where she was full of energy and ready to go; she would trot around the arena like a Standardbred once she had warmed up.

She can also be quiet to the point of dozing off on the cross ties. I attribute this in part to her mental happiness at the new barn; she loves the environment and for the first time in her horsey life, she has plenty of equine friends. I have also developed a strong bond with her, and every touch I make is gentle and sensitive to her feminine self. As a result, I can make her fall asleep with a hand on her neck, and if she is agitated or worried, I can quiet her by holding her head and sending calm vibes to her.

But still, it's something to consider.

Alfalfa hay can cause enteroliths to form and grow. At our previous barn, Limerick only consumed grass hay. I have yet to see hay composed only of grass at the new barn; in fact, the current hay is a 50/50 mix of alfalfa and grass.

And last but not least, I abruptly stop riding her a little over a month ago because she goes lame, and she colics twice?

"Yes, that is a possibility," the vet said. "There are a number of things that could be going on here. An enterolith, as you said, or perhaps an intestinal tear or loop, or even something pressing against her digestive system from within. It could be gas but that won't necessarily cause weight loss."

She paused.

"Hmm, it could be a bladder stone, as well, sometimes they cause colic-like symptoms, or a cyst on her ovary."

I noted how I had seen Limerick squat to pee, then remain in the squat long after she was done urinating, then promptly laying down on Monday. I thought at the time that it was unusual, but since I have seen her urinate a few hundred times and she had never done that before, I didn't put too much thought into it.

"Well, it wouldn't hurt to get her bladder checked, then," my vet said. "How are her heat cycles?"

"She goes into heat but she is not cranky or aggressive. When she was young, she was miserable to be around when she was in heat but that is no longer the case. These days, she will flirt with the geldings and be a little distracted while riding but nothing more," I said.

The vet said that ovarian cysts can cause dramatic personality changes in mares, which I already knew. But just the same, it wouldn't hurt to check.

In short, we decided that Limerick should be taken to Morrie Waud Equine Center for a thorough checkup. I went to Morrie Waud in February for Limerick's endoscopy. Three different vets took a look at her, and all were extremely nice and helpful. I know she will be in good hands there. Limerick will have the following done: abdominal radiograph, abdominal ultrasound, bladder ultrasound, rectal exam for enteroliths, ovarian cysts, and other foreign masses, a belly tap, another endoscopy, a complete CBC/chem panel on her blood, and all of her teeth thoroughly inspected.

Our attention was then turned to her lameness.

The vet applied the hoof tester to all four feet; she was sore in the toe on all four. I lunged Limerick for the vet and she watched carefully as Lim trotted in slow circles, reluctant to move. The vet then did a variety of flexion tests. Limerick was lame on her lower fronts, along the pastern, and her hocks and left stifle (I had the latter three injected for arthritis in February).

The vet then wanted to radiograph all four of Limerick's feet.

Unfortunately, by then I had to leave to get ready for my job interview. I hated leaving Limerick like that but the realization that I had several large vet bills coming my way prompted me to get going.

I found out later that Limerick has slight further rotation in her left fore. The vet thinks she has mild laminitis, and pedal osteitis (inflammation of the coffin/pedal bone, or distal phalanx) on the other feet. Why? From what the vet told me, and my own guess, a) her previous shoes were putting too much pressure on the toes of her front feet; b) constantly stomping her legs for flies, and c) the laminitis may have been brought on, in part or fully, by the colic episodes. Colic causes bacterial die-off in the gut, which in turn sends toxins to the feet. Remember my grass biology lesson of several posts ago? Like that, but take away the grass completely.

Laminitis, inflammation, and something going on within her abdomen--it was too much for me to take. During the vet's visit, I had to try hard to keep my composure. I felt the urge to break into tears with every word she or I said, every lame step Limerick took, every look into Limerick's soft brown eyes. I have never before felt this way during an entire vet visit.

I managed to compose myself throughout the interview, but later when my husband told me the vet suspected laminitis due to further rotation as shown on the radiographs, I could do nothing but cry. Was this the beginning of the end? When told Limerick had to be on stall rest, I cried some more. Stall rest is bad news for colicky horses.

And last, but not least, Limerick was confirmed for Morrie Waud on Tuesday.

I went back to the barn to bring Limerick inside. She was outside in the pasture with her boyfriend and buddies, grazing muzzle in place, nose buried into the grass without a care in the world, just another flicking tail among many.

With heavy heart, I grabbed her lead shank and walked onto the pasture. It was to be her last day outside for a while, and a grim part of me wondered if it was her last day outside...ever.

I think, no, I know, she sensed this. Limerick and Nick would not let me near them; each time I got close, they would fling their bay heads into the air and gallop away, the wind from their flying tails swirling the entire herd. I would wait for everyone to settle down then try again. Same result each time. Finally, I decided that all the running was doing her more harm than another three hours of laid-back turnout and left.

Let her enjoy her freedom, let her be a horse, I thought.

I found the barn guy and explained to him that Limerick needed isoxusprine, and told him how many tablets and when. I told him she couldn't be turned out and why. Then I burst into tears. Feeling embarrassed by my sudden display of raw emotion, I apologized and left.

Peaceful voice when he neighs.
I am Everlasting and Peaceful.
I stand for my horse.

Monday, June 23, 2008

More colic?

I had a whole other plan for my newest blog entry but instead, I need to write this.

When I arrived at the barn at around 4pm today, Limerick was laying down in her stall, head up. The big red bell in my head began ringing.

The number of times I've seen Limerick laying down during my twelve years with her can probably be counted on one hand, and never has she laid down at this time of the day, so soon after the afternoon feeding.

I whispered to her through the stall door, lest she was truly (but unusually) sleeping and I startled her.

"Hey baby, are you okay?"

In the shadows, her head lifted and her right eye rolled towards me.

I opened the stall door. She looked at me, ears pricked. Her boyfriend, Nick, stood on the other side of the stall wall, watching us through the bars.

"Come on Limerick, let's get up. Come on," I said. She looked at me.

"Limerick, let's get up."

Finally, she sighed and shifted her forelegs to her front and rocked herself up. She stood facing the corner of the stall away from me.

Nick whinnied at me.

She isn't right!

"Come here, Lim," I said. No response.

I walked over to to her and put a hand on her silky neck. Shavings and bits of hay were tangled in her mane. The soft fuzzy hairs of her left ear were coated with dust. She had been laying flat on her side for some time before I saw her.

As I led her out the stall, another boarder was walking by.

"Hi! How's Limerick?" she said.

"I don't think she feels well, she was laying down when I arrived," I said. I could hear the worry in my words.

"Ohhh, awww," she said. She came over and put a hand on Limerick's forehead. "Poor baby!"

I took Lim's temperature and the other boarder and I both checked her vital signs. Other than a slightly elevated respiratory rate, all was normal. Just in case, I checked her front feet--no heat, no digital pulse. I didn't think it was laminitis, anyway; she was not walking in the stiff, jerky way that laminitic horses do.

The other boarder borrowed a stethoscope and smiled as she put it in her ears.

"I've never done this before!" she said. I smiled in return. But we both knew that gut sounds were vital and that anyone with functioning ears could hear them.

The woman reported that gut sounds on Limerick's left side were good, and present on the right side but a little weaker.

Another boarder at the barn is an assistant for my vet so I decided to take Lim down to the grassy strip by the paddocks to graze while we waited for her to arrive.

Lim ate half-heartedly. She took a couple bites here and there, looked up, then another couple bites. She wasn't the equine lawnmower that she normally is. When I saw the assistant's car pulling up the long asphalt driveway to the barn, I began walking back to the barn. Limerick did not protest in the least, a far cry from her usual hurried Just a few more! bites.

The assistant could not think of anything new. Limerick looked around as we stood by. She seemed a little more interested in her surroundings.

"Maybe she feels better," I thought. "Maybe the grass did her good."

I put her back in her stall and watched. She squatted to urinate, and stayed in the squat for a good while after she was done peeing. Then she promptly laid down again. I told the assistant and we stood by the stall door, watching Lim. She closed her eyes and dozed, her ears flicking back. After a few moments, her chin dropped into the shavings and her head drooped to the left.

I waited for her to lay flat on her side. After another ten moments, her eyes went wide and she lay flat, her lips peeled up enough to expose her gums.

"I would get her up," the assistant said.

We opened the stall door.

"Come on, Limerick," we said. She ignored us. I walked into the stall and stood by her. She lifted her head up and looked at me, ears pricked, fresh shavings in her forelock. I stroked her forehead.

"Come on, baby, let's get up."

It didn't seem like she was going to get up on her own so I grabbed her halter and raised her head just a bit. She unfolded her forelegs and lifted herself up. I clipped the lead shank to her halter and led her out the stall.

We walked around the indoor arena for a while. She was quiet but would prick her ears at things I couldn't hear. I turned her loose to see what she would do and she went over to the edge of the arena and began cribbing on the railing there. I decided to put her back in her stall.

Back in the stall, she drank some water and nosed around at her hay. I had made a beet pulp/mineral oil mash ahead of time and gave her this. When I left, she was still eating it.

The assistant called the vet a while ago but we got the after-hours answering service; I'm waiting to hear back to see what the vet thinks. I'm at home to eat some dinner but I'll be going back to check on Limerick a few times tonight.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

At the barn this morning

At the barn this morning, I saw a fellow boarder with a new horse. We stood in the tack room--me in jeans and sneakers, her in sleek black riding boots, breeches, and helmet.

"How's your new horse?" I asked.

She grinned.

"Oh he's just great! I've been sick so I haven't been able to ride in a few days, but I bet the time off did him good."

I smiled.

"How's Limerick?" she asked.

"Eh, she's okay, she's still lame," I said. I explained about the bruise, and how she is now lame on her right foreleg, how it may be from compromising for the bruise on her left fore hoof.

"I haven't been able to ride her for a month, I really miss it," I said softly. My voice broke just a little and I looked away, swallowing back the lump in my throat. I paused. "She's getting older, it's taking her longer to recover from things. When she was young, she could bounce back from anything in a week."

The woman's eyes softened.

"How old is Limerick?"

"She's seventeen. I was going to show her in August but I don't think I can now. It will take a long time to bring her back into shape."

As I walked away from the tack room, my throat tightened and I suddenly saw the asphalt, the morning sun on the barn, the pigeons pecking at stray grain, through a haze of tears.

If your horse is young, never take his youth for granted. With each ride, build pleasant memories for the future.

If your horse is aging, never let a day go by without telling him you love him. Hug him, love him, and take the time to look back on your life with him, and when you do ride, cherish every single moment in the saddle as if it was your last.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I have been told many times throughout my life that I lip read so well. I say thank you, but inside I am thinking, "If you were me, you would too!"

Shortly after I lost my hearing, I began taking speech therapy sessions. Despite attending hundreds of these things, the sessions were so mundane that I have very little memory of them.

I took them until I was nineteen years old. The vast majority were at school. At some point--I think in 1993?--a speech therapist began visiting my home. I remember her well; even her name. Donna. She was young and fun, a nice change from the speech therapists of past, with their coiled hair and tight, patient smiles. After Donna, there was a hiatus until the next speech therapist, who I began seeing at eighteen. Finally, at nineteen, I had enough. College was looming. I was more than ready to stretch my wings and shake off these things that had bound me to earth, speech therapy included.

Speech therapy was not directed at learning how to read lips; however, it helped.

Lip reading is a learned skill, completely left brain. There isn't an iota of creativity involved.

When I read lips, I do not just take in the lips--I take in the entire face; no, the entire body. I don't just read lips--I read body language. Human beings dislike being categorized as animals but, frankly, that's what you are. You're a mammal, and like every other mammal, you use body language to communicate, whether you are aware of it or not.

It can be as subtle as having one foot forward, one wrinkle in the brow, one flick of the eyes. Body language tells me your mood, your thoughts, before you even speak.

Everyone speaks differently. Therefore, each time I meet someone new, my brain needs to run the program all over again. Every person has different facial features. Moles, wrinkles, mustaches, big noses, furrowed brows, large eyes, thin lips, huge chins. As this new person speaks, my brain maps these items, particularly the lips. My brain pieces everything together into patterns and stores the information for future use.

Once I've met you, I will always have a file on you in my head. It may be stored away for years; it may become dusty and outdated. But when I meet you again, no matter how long it's been--two hours, two decades--the file will update itself.

Every time I speak to someone, it becomes easier and easier to lip read this person.

I find men harder to lip read than women. Women are expressive, open. Women are much more sensual by nature and feel comfortable expressing open facial and physical language. I've met men who barely moved their lips when they spoke; they were simply impossible to communicate with.

And don't get me started on facial hair!

Another program my brain uses when I'm lip reading is what I like to think of as the train of thought program.

When I haven't spent very many hours with you, and am still busily updating the file on you within my head, it is easiest to follow along with what you are saying if you follow one train of thought.

For example, if I am at a job interview, I will expect the person interviewing me to ask me the usual questions--tell me about yourself, what have you done for past employers, so on and so forth.

If this person suddenly, randomly, begins talking about baseball stats, the train in my head will violently derail. As soon as that happens, I will completely stop understanding what this person is saying to me. I will see their lips moving but I will have no idea what is coming out of their mouth because the train within my head is frantically trying to upright itself.

After a couple moments, I will be able to follow along once again.

You see, the train of thought program has a few different tracks laid out for each person I speak to. Each one is a possible branch the person may go down. If at an interview, I will have a track for each possible interview question.

If I'm with my vet, I will have tracks for equine health issues.

If I'm at the post office, I will have tracks for "Would you like delivery confirmation with that?" and "Would you like to buy stamps?"

And etc, etc, etc, you get the idea.

The more I know you, the more tracks there will be for you. My husband has a trillion tracks. My immediate family has a zillion.

There are, however, two things that I am always, always horribly bad at lip reading, no matter who you are.

1) Joke punch lines

Jokes themselves are fine. The punch lines, however, are so unpredictable that, unless I've heard the joke before, I will have no clue whatsoever what you are saying when you give me the joke's punch line.

2) Names

Oh names, names, names, how I hate thee...I am horrid, horrible, awful, at remembering names. Why? Partly because I have no idea what people are saying when they give me names!

When someone gives me a name, I brace myself. It can go in any direction! Bob! Ausheneyah! Sally! Trevathian! My head reels before the name is ever uttered.

Human or animal, I am horrid with names. Sometimes when a name is given to me, I seize at the first guess of what I think it is and--surprise!--I'm correct. But that is a rarity.

In summary, three things allow me to understand you.
  • Your body language.
  • The map and patterns of your speech, AKA "The file"
  • Anticipating what will be said, AKA "The train of thought"

Despite all this, meeting someone new is always a tense affair for me. There is that slight chance that I will simply not be able to understand you, no matter what. It's very rare but it can happen. Meeting a group of new people can be downright panic. For this reason, I tend to stay away from large social gatherings unless I already know several of those attending very, very well.

So remember, when you first meet me, please be patient. I may say "Excuse me?" a few times, but that's only because I'm still updating my mental lip-reading file on you. It can only get better from there.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

"Laminitis" mystery solved?

You know I've been dealing with a mysterious lameness on Limerick's left fore for the past three weeks. Initially, due to the location of the lameness and the symptoms, I thought she was having another bout of laminitis, which just crushed me.

After a vet visit, watching and waiting for the symptoms to manifest more strongly (which they never did), negative blood test results for conditions that include laminitis as a syndrome, and more watching and waiting, my farrier may have finally given me the answer.

While waiting for my farrier--whom has become quite popular at my barn!--I asked a vet to do a quick flexion test on Limerick. He is not my vet, but he's the guy that vaccinates and deworms all the horses in the stable, and is also the vet that we made the emergency call to on Sunday night. He was just finishing up with another horse.

Sure, no problem, he said.

First, he flexed both of Limerick's front legs quickly to see if she would react in pain. She tried to jerk her left leg out of the vet's hands but stood still when he flexed her right leg.

Then came the hoof tester. No response on the right hoof, perhaps a teeny tiny response on the left hoof.

He had me trot Limerick in a straight line over the asphalt outside the barns.

Yup, she's definitely off on that left fore, he said.

I explained that I wasn't sure if the lameness was a leg or hoof issue. A flexion test would help determine which.

He held Limerick's left foreleg in a tight flex, knee and fetlock at hard angles, for a full moment. As soon as he let go, I pulled Limerick into a trot straight down the asphalt. She was horribly lame. Her left leg was stiff and completely unresponsive and her head bobbed up and down like a buoy on stormy seas. Poor baby!

I explained to the vet what was going on, recapping the history of her lameness, then said that I just wanted to see for sure if it was her left foreleg that was bothering her. When I lunge her, she is stiff and lethargic, reluctant to move into a trot without a lot of demanding and hollering on my part. Once she finally sighs, gives in, and breaks into a slow trot, it can be hard to determine exactly what is bothering her. On one hand, the source of the pain seems to be obvious--her left fore. Yet on the other hand, every muscle, every tendon of her being seems unwilling to move.

And to compound things further, there's the Whee-I'm-free-in-the-pasture! gallop I busted her doing a couple weeks ago. A truly laminitic horse would not be galloping about in such a careless, joyful way.

The vet smiled. "Let your farrier take a look at her," he said, the lines on his face twinkling.

I thanked him for his time.

A few moments later, my farrier watched me walk Limerick in a straight line. Then he had me lunge her in the indoor arena. True to form, she moved off at a decent walk but was reluctant to trot. My farrier crouched down close (alarmingly close!) to the outside of the lunge circle and watched Lim carefully.

Back at the barn, he began to pull the shoe off Limerick's left fore. Her eyes went wide and, settling back onto her hindquarters, she tried to lift her hoof out of his grasp. It reminded me of the semi-rears she would do when she had laminitis and it was oh so painful for her when we had to clean her right fore hoof, leaving her inflamed left fore hoof to temporarily support 65% of her body weight.

"It's okay, baby," I said to her. I drew her head close to my chest and stroked her cheek. I whispered gentle nothings into the fuzziness of her right ear. She stayed still for me but I could see her right eye against my stomach, whites flashing, soft brown pool darting around, thick lashes curled upwards.

That hurts! No more, please!

Realizing he had hit a sensitive spot, my farrier worked gently, carefully pulling the shoe away little by little. Finally, it was off.

On her sole, where the toe of the shoe had been, was a discolored spot.

"Is that an abscess?" I asked.

"Possibly, but I don't think so," he said.

"More like a bruise, then?"


He pulled the shoe off her right fore. This time, Lim was quiet.

She had been wearing natural balance-type shoes, with an extended toe area. My farrier showed me the shoe that had been on her left fore hoof. There was crud and dirt packed beneath the toe. The location lined up with the spot of discoloration on her sole.

Apparently the mud and crud of the pasture had seeped beneath the toe, forming a spot of hard pressure. Over time, this caused the sole to become sore and bruised.

"So it's like having a rock in your shoe!" I said.

"Exactly, a rock and a shoe that you cannot remove."

It would explain the on-and-off digital pulse, the on-and-off heat, and it would also explain why she was generally negative on the hoof tester--the hoof tester is not applied to the shoe itself, and the bruising was right beneath the toe of the shoe.

But that left me with one more question.

"Why is she positive on the flexion test?"

He responded that she had been compromising for the pain in her toe by standing and moving unnaturally. The unnatural biomechanics were not visible to me unless she was trotting, but it made sense. As my farrier has taught me over the past few months, even the slightest forced deviation from the natural, normal biomechanics in the equine foot will create soreness that will radiate throughout the horse's entire leg, and eventually the body.

That explained Lim's overall stiffness on the lunge line, and the horrible lameness she experienced in the flexion test.

Let's go back to that rock in your shoe, the shoe you cannot remove. Imagine the rock stays in the toe of your shoe. What will you do? You will start walking more on your heel, or on the side of your foot. Over time, your leg, then eventually your back, will become very sore from this altered state of travel.

Limerick was fitted with a shiny new set of aluminums, this time with a regular toe.

Today I'm going to lunge her and see if she's better. If she is, I'll probably cancel the vet visit for Tuesday.

All sorts of horrible scenarios were going through my head--low-grade laminitis, a stubborn, deep abscess, is a huge relief that it is most likely something so simple.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Limerick for Limerick

There was once a bay mare named Limerick
With big blaze and glossy coat so slick
Who with wide eyes
And a face she'd hide
Would state, don't give me that Succeed, it makes me sick!

Peruvian Power!

First, an update on Limerick. She seems to be recovering from the colic well; she is pooping normally and staying hydrated. My vet suggested I buy Succeed Digestive Paste so I ordered that on Monday night. It arrived yesterday in a box of thirty tubes. Two tubes a day for a week to start, then one tube a day thereafter.

According to the box insert, one can top-dress the horse's grain with the paste. However, I suspect Limerick will eat around the paste if I have the barn guys do this so I'm going to administer the tube myself every day.

I gave her the first tube this morning shortly after her breakfast. I put her halter over her head and led her out to the cross ties. When she saw the tube in my hand, her eyes went wide and she clamped her lips shut.

"Hey, this stuff is supposed to taste good," I said.

Uh huh, nope. Nothing that comes in a tube tastes good!

"No, really." I let her sniff it. Her nostrils flared but her eyes remained wide. "Okay, then."

You're supposed to squirt a little at a time onto the tongue to allow the horse to taste the stuff. I tried this and she promptly tried to spit it out. So much for that. I squirted the rest onto the back of her tongue and made sure she swallowed it all.

Poor thing is sick of the tubes! First the bute, then the electrolytes, and now this.

When I put her back in her stall and said goodbye, she didn't acknowledge me.

You came out here just to stick another tube in my mouth--hmmph!

Oh well, she'll have to get used to it--she has another three weeks of this.

Some good news--the blood the vet drew last week to test for Cushing's, insulin resistance, and thyroid issues came back clean! Lim is still lame though, so tomorrow my farrier is taking a look at her and the vet will be back next Tuesday to further evaluate her lameness. My vet is becoming my best friend these days.

On Wednesday, I visited a friend--the same one that rode Limerick three weeks ago (yup, the day I broke my toe). I've ridden her little gray Arab gelding a couple times but that day, I rode one of her Peruvian Pasos, and in an authentic Peruvian saddle, no less!

I have never been on a gaited horse before so I wasn't sure what to expect. I have read the breed profiles of various gaited horses in Horse Illustrated magazine and time and time again, the profiles will state how smooth and comfortable they are. But there's nothing like a firsthand experience!

The horse was a bay with a long black mane, a narrow blaze, and kind brown eyes. Halfway through grooming him, I went to his head and put a hand alongside his soft muzzle. With my other hand, I rubbed his forehead beneath the long forelock and whispered, "Take care of me out there, hmm?" He closed his eyes and licked his lips.

My friend got on him first to check the saddle and rode him at a gait on the lawn of her backyard. His knees kicked up high and out, and the legs on each side moved forward and back at the same time. Last time we rode together, she had ridden him and I tried hard to watch him as I rode alongside on the little Arab. But that was nothing like seeing the horse move from the ground!

Then it was my turn. Feeling funny about riding on a nicely manicured lawn, I walked a circle, then, remembering what my friend had said about the horse's ability to gait at the speed of a quick canter, I tried to be gentle when I asked for a gait. With head held high and ears pricked, he moved forward. It was sudden, yet so smooth, that it took me a second to realize he was gaiting. My hips moved side to side with the saddle. I marveled at his gentle power as I steered him around the shrubbery on the lawn.

When our trail ride was over, I was amazed at how much time had passed. What a fun horse he was to ride! I'm already itching for another chance!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A long few days...

Sunday night, around 9:30. I was eating a late dinner with my husband. We were watching an old season finale of the Sopranos. The hot topic was the death of Pie-O-My, Tony's racehorse, and his inability to come to terms with his grief.

My husband got a call. Since it was an unusual time to get a call, I watched him carefully as he spoke, trying to read his lips. One of my worst fears is that someday, sometime, one of these late-night calls will be about Limerick.

I caught pieces of his side of the conversation.

"Hello...she is?...Really...? Uh huh...hang on," he said. His face was pale.

"Someone from the barn says Limerick is laying down in her stall, she's all stretched out, the woman tried to get her up but she laid right back down again."

He said something else but I didn't catch it. My heart was plummeting through my stomach, through my abdomen, and to the floor.

"I'll be there immediately!" I said. I jumped up and raced into the bedroom to put jeans and sneakers on.

Panic and adrenaline had me by the throat. My husband followed me into the bedroom.

"The horses had no water," I thought I heard him say. What? The words flitted through my head and were gone. I only had one purpose, one thought, one feeling within me--to be by Limerick's side.

"Can you come with?" I suddenly said. I realized I would need someone to call the vet for me. The fact that people were already at the barn did not register. I was panicked and trying to be prepared as quickly as possible.

My husband began to put on shorts and sneakers. Seconds ticked by. It was much, much too slow for me.

"Just meet me there, I'm going now," I said. And with that, I was out.

I ran to my car as fast as I could, ignoring the whine of my broken toe. I jumped into my car and peeled out of the parking lot. It was dark and besides me, there were maybe two other cars on the road. Sunday night. Work tomorrow for most. Lightning lit up angry clouds to the east in brilliant bursts of white and purple. There was a tornado watch until 1am.

I raced down the hilly, narrow, curvy road to the barn at almost sixty-five. Speed limit: 30. The lightning rolled nonstop across the great face of the storm clouds in front of me. I prayed no small animals would dart into the path of my car.

As I drove up the driveway to the barn, I could see Limerick's white face in the upper barn, her head drooping. Another boarder was holding her, and a second woman stood nearby. I parked my car by the upper barn and jogged into the barn. Limerick didn't even flick her ears forward.

Her face was pinched in pain and her eyes had a lifeless glaze to them. She was focused within herself. My throat tightened and I struggled to not cry. It hurt me to see her like this.

I cupped a hand beneath her soft muzzle and looked into her eyes as I kissed her nose. "What's the matter, baby?"

But of course, I knew what was wrong. Her tummy was hurting. She had colic.

The other woman led me to Limerick's stall. She told me how she had been watering the horses because there was no water in their buckets. When she got to Limerick's stall, she saw Limerick laying flat on her side beneath her water buckets. Very odd place for a horse to lay down. She began to hose water into Limerick's buckets and a little of it splashed onto Lim's flank. But she didn't move.

The woman realized something was very wrong and tried to get Limerick to stand up. But immediately, she laid back down again.

That's when they called my husband.

The lightning continued on. The wind blew hard, sending leaves and bits of hay and stall bedding flying through the air. If you didn't keep your eyes averted, the wind would blow something into them. As we walked outside to the indoor arena, Limerick ignored the brewing storm.

My husband arrived.

"Should I call the vet?" he said.

"Yes!" I fumbled for the vet's name. My own vet or the other vet? My own vet probably wasn't on call. Or was she? I felt safe with her, but I didn't know if she could come. The women helped me out. They told my husband who to call and gave him the vet's numbers. The other vet.

I walked Limerick. I massaged her mane with my right hand and held the lead shank with my left hand. She walked on my right side, her nose floating less than an inch above the arena dirt. Her ears drooped and her eyes remained glazed over. She wanted to lay down. I kept her moving.

If a horse with colic lays down, there's always that chance they will roll and thrash about, trying to shake the pain. This leads to twisted intestines, ruptures...death.

Suddenly, a baby bird lay in our path. I think it was a pigeon. It had no feathers, closed eyes, big yellow beak. One arm (for it couldn't be considered a wing yet) twitched. It had fallen from one of the many nests in the rafters. Before I could move Limerick out of the way, she stepped on the bird. I watched it as we walked away. It didn't move.

Was it an omen? I worried and worried.

The vet arrived and after an examination, noted abnormal gut sounds. He suspected she had a blockage somewhere. After injecting her with Banamine and a sedative, he performed a rectal exam and did not find anything, even manure. Not a great sign. He tubed one gallon of mineral oil and one and a half gallons of laxative into her stomach.

I sat on a lawn chair in Limerick's stall to watch her, waiting to see if she would lay down, poop, do anything. The Banamine was working. She remained standing, nibbling at stray pieces of hay here and there. Now and then she would doze off, her eyes opening and closing, ears flicking back and forth. Sleepy myself, I turned my hearing aid's volume on high in case I dozed off and Limerick made a funny noise. The sound of driving rain and the creaking of the door to the hay loft above me was suddenly overwhelming.

After a couple hours, I fell asleep. When I awoke, it was 1am. The barn was dark and still. Limerick was no different so reluctantly, I put the lawn chair away and went home.

At 7:30am, I was back with her and stayed with her, on and off, until 6pm. My parents joined me. Limerick seemed to be doing well at points, then she would stop passing manure. She did not drink and was slowly becoming dehydrated. Her attitude was just okay--not the agony of the night before, but not normal Limerick either.

My regular vet arrived at almost 3pm. Gut sounds, normal. Temperature, gums, heart, all normal. Lim was indeed dehydrated; not horribly so, but enough to be of concern for a horse that had colicked the night before.

The vet tranquilized Limerick and performed a rectal exam. This time, there was manure close by and she was able to pull chunks of it out. Then she pushed a tube up one of Limerick's nostrils and pumped a gallon or so of water into her stomach.

The vet and I both think that Limerick colicked because she consumed those dry, hard hay cubes then had no water to soften them up and wash them down with. Food passes fairly quickly through equine stomachs; the majority of digestion is done in the intestines. So if a hard, dry, chunk of food passes through a dehydrated horse with no access to water, you're asking for an intestinal blockage right there. The vet also said that some horses are more sensitive to this type of thing than others, and unfortunately, my poor mare is one of them.

Why did those horses not have water? During the weekdays, and Saturday mornings, the "barn guys" feed and water the horses. They are good, reliable people. On the weekends, a woman does it. Now, this woman already has multiple complaints against her by several different boarders.

How can you forget to water a barn full of horses?

I emailed the barn owner to complain. She responded by saying that the woman insisted she watered the horses (of course!). The barn owner capped off the email by saying that the woman was a responsible person...!

What if those boarders had not been there on Sunday night, watering the horses? What if Limerick hadn't been found? What if she had lay there all night, the pain growing like a beast, until she was sweating as much as her dehydrated body would allow, rolling and thrashing to free the pain from her belly? A thrashing, colicky horse on his or her own is never, ever a good thing.

Limerick is fairly okay now. She is passing manure normally but she is not drinking enough water. Horses can drink from eight to twenty gallons of water a day and I suspect she's probably drank about three or four gallons today, even less. I've been giving her electrolytes and monitoring her water intake closely. I hope she starts drinking soon.

Today, I wanted to weight her with the weight tape I have. But I put it off. I took my time grooming her coat to a sheen. I kissed her nose and brushed her face with that soft goat hair brush she loves, smiling as she closed her eyes in pleasure. I cleaned her feet and brushed her mane. Finally, I weighted her. She is forty pounds less than she was on Sunday. Her hip bones are prominent and a bed sore sits on the tip of her right hip bone. Another tiny bed sore is behind her right eye. Marks from Sunday night.

I love this girl so much, it just kills me inside to see her this way. The sorrow of the situation had been dammed. But seeing that number on the weight tape and that tiny bedsore on her hip broke the dam.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Anything that can happen in racing, will happen.

It makes you appreciate the great horses of yesteryear even more, doesn't it?

Happy Belmont Day!

Not much to report on Limerick; yesterday she had a digital pulse in the upper reaches of her pastern and the same goes for today. Not very much heat in her foot, though.

I soaked her foot in an epsom salt soak in case she has an abscess. The soak is supposed to be for ten minutes and yesterday, right at the mark, she knocked the tub over. Today, once again right at the mark, she stepped out the tub.

I bought the biggest digital thermometer I could find at Walgreens yesterday and checked her temperature yesterday and today. Yesterday it was 99.1, today it was 98.9. So her normal temperature is on the low side of normal (which is, in horses, 99-101 degrees).

I'm not doing much with her otherwise, except grooming or bathing/hosing her and showering her pretty head with kisses. Yesterday I gave her a massage along her spine (she took a powerful stretch after I was done with that!), and on her shoulder, neck, chest, and elbow. She sure loves that; she gets all sleepy and leans into me.

Today, leading her out the pasture, she suddenly and wildly scampered on the asphalt, eyes huge, spooking at something...but what? I glanced around quickly but couldn't spot what was scaring her so badly. It was so unusual for her to spook like that on the ground that I had a momentary sense of panic. She wheeled around and spooked again. I tried to walk her straight but she would try to ram into me with her shoulder as she spooked yet again, so I had to lead her to her stall in circles.

Finally, I figured out what it was. Someone had installed box fans in the windows of the arena barn directly across from the pasture entrance. The bright white fan blades spun lazily in the wind. Ohhhh, that's what it was.

Limerick has had box fans attached to former stalls with a bungee cord before so I'm not sure what was so surprising about them now. But I bet you that if she got close enough to figure out what those spinning wheels of death in the arena barn windows were, she would be mighty embarrassed.

She's a smart horse, and prides herself on it, after all.

Soooo today is the Belmont Stakes. Big Brown won the Derby and Preakness in easy fashion. Can he win the Belmont--and capture the Triple Crown? We have not had a Triple Crown winner since 1978, and thirty years is a very, very long dry spell.

Starting in 1997, there have been six bids--and misses--for the Triple Crown. Each one was more painful than the last. Smarty Jones' failure to get the glorious Crown in 2004 was particularly heartbreaking for me. I saw the horse win the Rebel and Arkansas, live, at an off-track betting location.

"That's my Derby horse!" I told my husband, who was then my boyfriend, at the time. Sure enough, he won the Derby and swept away the Preakness by eleven or so lengths. Then the heartbreak....ohhh...I watched his Belmont on YouTube a few days ago and the pain was still there, the rise and fall of emotions from sky-high to deep within the ground.

So, frankly, the idea of watching the Belmont today makes me want to vomit. Big Brown certainly has the talent, which makes it that much harder. If he was simply a lucky horse, my foolish expectations wouldn't be so high.

Good luck, Big Brown, don't let all those long shots get in the way today.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Vet results

I know this is late, but the vet visit on June 4th was pretty uneventful.

The vet started out by checking Limerick's feet, legs, and digital pulse. Lim still had heat and a digital pulse (although not a bounding, powerful pulse). Before she could apply the hoof testers to check for toe pain, a couple guys at the end of the barn began using a rotary saw on a piece of plywood.

These guys are friends/family of the family that owns the stable, and they live in apartments above the front end of the barn. Why they couldn't have done this outside the barn, I don't know.

The vet and I rolled our eyes and she shouted over the saw, "Let's lunge her first."

Despite not being turned out all day, Limerick did not trot when I asked her to. No change when I went from asking to demanding. Finally, I flicked the lunge whip close to her hind end and she jumped forward into a lethargic, stiff trot.

Once again, it was obvious she was more ouchy on her left side, but where? I couldn't quite pinpoint it. First it seemed like it was her left fore, the foundered foot. Then it seemed to be coming from her left stifle. The vet was almost as puzzled as me. She quizzed me on my current care of Limerick's arthritis--Cosequin ASU as a daily supplement and Adequan i.m. injections every four weeks.

"Your current maintenance combined with the joint injections from February should be working to keep her arthritis under control," she said.

Back at the barn--which was now quiet--the vet applied the hoof tester to both fore feet, paying closer attention to the left fore. Limerick didn't bat an eye.

The vet then took radiographs of Limerick's fore feet to check for a change in rotation.

For the non-horsey people, rotation is when the distal phalanx, aka P3, aka coffin bone (the last, or hoof bone, on the horse's leg) is rotated downwards, away from the hoof wall. This is also called founder. P3 should be parallel to the hoof wall. For a pictorial reference, here are Limerick's digital radiographs from February:

Right fore--notice P3 is parallel to hoof wall (barely visible).

Left fore--notice P3 is not parallel to hoof wall. Instead, it is rotated downwards about 10-11 degrees.

I had to wear one of those heavy lead aprons, which I thought was pretty nifty. But I'm a dork like that. I love watching, and being involved with, veterinary procures. I think I missed my calling there!

The vet has one of those newfangled digital radiograph machines so we could see Limerick's bones in perfect clarity almost immediately. Her right fore looked as normal as ever but I was shocked when I saw her left fore. The founder was not worse; it was better. After five and a half years of 10-11 degree rotation, it was down to around 4-5 degrees of rotation. The rotation had been halved since February! I credit this change to my new farrier. Hooray!

The vet also noted that Limerick had thin soles but frankly, they are thicker now than they used to be.

As she talked, my vet made sure to look at me so I could read her lips. She even did this while applying the hoof tester to Limerick's feet, which was a bit of an awkward position. You have to love that kind of accomodation!

The vet then drew blood to test for insulin resistance, Cushing's, and thyroid issues. If the bloodwork comes back abnormal, we will go from there. If it comes back normal, she is going to work with me to tweak Limerick's diet since I am not happy with Limerick's weight. I know that it is better for a horse prone to laminitis to be slightly underweight, rather than overweight, but I am bothered by the fact that Limerick gets so much food yet rarely gains more than a pound or two. And if anything disrupts her routine or health, she drops weight alarmingly fast.

The thinness in itself can be a symptom of insulin resistance, as well.

In the meantime, I am to give Limerick one gram of phenylbutazone per day until Sunday. All other aspects of her routine can stay the same, with the exception of riding...kind of!

"Can I ride?" I asked.

"No...well, since you are so small, you can ride her at a walk," my vet replied, with a smile.

I asked a few other questions here and there. I asked if Limerick could have an abscess and the vet noted that the symptoms did not quite point that way. She said it wouldn't hurt to soak Lim's left fore in an epsom salt soak if there was no change.


When I got to the barn, the horses were outside. Despite the field full of bays and chestnuts, it wasn't hard to spot Limerick with her blaze and grazing muzzle. As I walked out into the pasture to get her, a couple horses near the entrance to the grassy section (the pasture is divided into two sections--a dry lot and a grassy area. The sections are separated by a fence with a gate. The gate to the grassy section is currently open in the afternoon, around two hours before the horses are brought in) of the pasture saw me coming and thought I was one of the barn guys bringing the horses in for feeding.

With sudden joy, they flicked their tails up and galloped at full speed into the dry lot and around the corner of the barn to the pasture entrance. I stood back and watched helplessly as the rest of the horses, around twenty in all, followed suit. And then there was my poor lame Limerick, ears pricked and tail up, galloping out with the rest of them, her legs and feet not showing a sliver of pain.

I could only shake my head and follow the horses.

After I brought Limerick in, I checked her foot. I did not detect any heat, nor a pulse. Hmmm. I gave her a bath with a combination of Vetrolin Bath and a brace in case she had sore muscles--and boy, it was a hot day, anyway!

Back at her stall, I gave her the daily dose of bute. She is so funny with that stuff, as soon as she spots the tube, her eyes will go wide and she'll clamp her lips shut. Sometimes she will turn her head away from you. Despite this show, though, it is easy to administer oral medications to her.

Then I tried to take her temperature but I think the old mercury thermometer is broken. I plan on stopping at a pharmacy to find a digital one today; hopefully I can find one that will allow me to tie a piece of string around the end in case the thermometer gets "lost" in Limerick. That will not be the highlight of my day if it ever happens.

So who knows what's going on?

Maybe she exerted herself too hard in the pasture and was sore and gave me a scare.

Maybe she hurt her feet while madly stomping away those spring flies.

Maybe she had a mild virus and fought it off on her own.

Maybe she really was laminitic and we caught it so quickly that going off rice bran oil and the one gram of bute a day was enough to drive it away.

It's not impossible--check this excerpt from a site about laminitis:

This is a partial list of stages a Laminitic horse might experience.

  1. The Horse is just not right. He seems vaguely sore or stiff and is not quite himself. There may or may not be heat in the hoof and a digital pulse.

  2. The horse seems stiff in the shoulder and a little short strided. He might seem preoccupied or worried and isn't moving around as much as normal. There is most likely heat in the hoof and a digital pulse.
Limerick was experiencing both of these "stages", whether they were due to laminitis or not.

Today I'll ride her bareback at a walk and we'll see how she is. If she seems well tomorrow, I'll trot her on the lunge line to see if there's any change.

In the meantime, we'll wait for those blood test results to come back.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Limerick may have a mild case of laminitis. I am hoping it's an abscess but my gut knows better. The vet is coming out at around 5pm today.

On Monday, when I rode, Limerick took longer to warm up than usual but once she did, she seemed fine.

Yesterday, she wouldn't warm up at all. She felt great at the walk but she was very slow and a little off at the trot. I got off her and lunged her to see if I could find the problem. She was off on her left side somewhere, that much was obvious, but I couldn't pinpoint where.

I kept going back and forth between her foundered foot (the left fore) and her left stifle. However, the stifle joint was injected in March, along with her hocks, and the injection is supposed to be good for a year.

Back at her stall, I felt her legs and feet all over. I tried to take her digital pulse but my own pulse was so strong that I couldn't tell the difference between the two. I had a fellow boarder, who also happens to be an assistant for my vet, look for a digital pulse and she verified that Limerick had one. She had a laser thermometer and checked Lim's foot temperature--the left fore was four degrees warmer. With a hoof tester, we checked Limerick's hoof but she did not react.

So if she has laminitis, we caught it early.

I'm so disappointed and frustrated. I've been doing all I can to ensure that this doesn't happen again but somehow, somewhere, I failed.

I've been racking my brain, trying to determine what went wrong. It's very possible that Limerick is indeed insulin resistant (for the non-horsey folks, think of it as pre-diabetes) despite her clear blood tests last fall. However, some say that insulin resistance may be seasonal. I was already planning to get Limerick's blood tested sometime this week or next, but now it'll be done today.

She can't have any grain or treats today, just grass hay. The other stuff may give a false reading on the blood work. That's okay though, I still have a whole bale of grass hay in my car.

(No, the barn did not get hay delivered yesterday, as promised. Unless they delivered at 7pm or later!)

The only things "off" that I can think of are:

The barn running out of hay. Perhaps the abrupt change in forage threw off her metabolism, which in turn affected (possible?) insulin resistance?

The rice bran oil I started her on last week. I have been starting her on it gradually, but you never know.

Being turned out on pasture. Sure, she's only out on the grass for 1.5-1 hour a day, and with a grazing muzzle, but it's possible she is that sensitive to it (which, again, will point to insulin resistance).

Or a combination of all three.

When the woman that helped with me Limerick yesterday verified that Lim had a digital pulse, I wanted to burst into tears. Laminitis is a nightmare that I never wish to repeat, and as I said, I feel like I have failed Limerick. I could have started her on hay cubes instead of letting her eat regular hay. I should have researched the rice bran oil a lot more. I should have never let her go on the pasture, at all. I should have paid more attention to the fact she had not licked her feed tub clean yesterday, even though I had no idea at the time why she didn't.

We have come so long since November, since moving to a new barn, since 30-minute hand-walks a day, since endless worrying that her arthritis will end her career as a riding horse, since vet bills totaling almost $2,500 a few short months.

I was looking to the future, to riding in a schooling dressage show, to taking more lessons, and now we have another setback.

The gray Arabian mare in the stall across the aisle from Limerick is foundering badly. She has been laying down more and more. She is losing weight at an alarming rate. Her owner was there yesterday, kneeling in her stall, trying to get her to consume her Cushing's medications. The Arabian mare wouldn't get up, wouldn't eat. The pain was clear in the mare's big dark eyes.

As I fussed over Limerick, I watched the Arabian mare and her owner out of the side of my eye. The pain of realizing Limerick may be laminitic, combined with the sorrow of the sight before me, was almost too much to bear. My heart was so heavy, I felt closer to the ground.

I really hope this is an abscess. We'll find out this evening. In the meantime, I'll visit Limerick periodically and make sure she is happy. I am so glad she is a mile away from me.