Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Kentucky Highlights

Rolling hills welcoming us into Kentucky.

Endless miles of neat black plank fencing.

Feeding Sky Classic a peppermint.

Touching the noses of babies out of Storm Cat mares.

Smarty Jones strolling across his pasture.

Dynaformer--standoffish and impressive.

Getting lost on the way to Seattle Slew's grave...leading to that priceless A.P. Indy - Azeri colt.

Seattle Slew's grave.

The Kentucky Horse Park in the morning.

Awad, Popcorn Deelites, Bull in the Heather, Danthebluegrassman, Creator, Sunshine Forever, Williamstown, and more, at Old Friends...

...and my favorite, feeding the lovely son of Damascus, Ogygian, carrots.

The new statue of Secretariat at the Horse Park.


John Henry's grave....washed in sadness as we walked towards it, losing my composure as I looked at it, so big and bare and dedicated, flowers and memorials. Run free, old friend!

The trail ride, atop an insecure bay quarter horse named Alcatraz. Don't be so afraid of everyone, Alcatraz! Stand up for yourself. Lowered his head every time I scratched him on the withers.

The Man o' War Memorial--as majestic and breathtaking as ever, even after nearly a dozen visits.

Dinner at Malone's.

Walking through Thoroughbred Park at night. Reading the nameplates on the halters of the life-size bronze mares--Terlingua and Anne Campbell. Standing before the bronze racehorses, imagining they are bearing down upon me.

Photos with Pulpit, Seeking the Gold, and Eddington.

The cemetery--all those great names!--Secretariat, Swale, Mr. Prospector, Sir Gallahad III, Blenheim II, Gallant Fox, Reviewer, Riva Ridge, and more. Two of Limerick's ancestors lay here.

Touching Giacomo on the shoulder--he is gorgeous. The equally beautiful Ghostzapper, and Congaree.

Churchill Downs OTB. Watching a son of Pulpit narrowly miss.

Churchill Downs Twin Spires. Stepping back into history with the races. We watched Iron Leige, Smarty Jones, Barbaro, Secretariat, Winning Colors.

Photos coming soon!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


What does one do if they are stuck riding their Thoroughbred at a walk, and all poles have been gone over, and all cones have been weaved through?

One teaches their Thoroughbred Western cues!

Not that I am a master of Western riding, but the cues are basically the same. The only difference is the Western folks usually empathize a loose rein. I've been teaching Lim to neck rein and stop and back up simply by using my seat. After two sessions, she has caught on pretty quick (no surprise there--she's a brainy little horse). She can also pivot on her forelegs through neck reining.

I've been doing this using my bareback pad and dressage bridle (go ahead and laugh now!)

I am still dying to get on the trails. I'm still anxious to collect Lim, to dance with her. I eyed my dressage saddle, snug and tight beneath it's fleece cover, on Monday but decided against using it. For a 10-minute walk, it's a bit of a pain to lug that saddle onto Lim's back. Besides, I have found that using the bareback pad so much has given me a straighter, more secure seat on Lim. You really can't let your guard down, seat-wise, if you're using a bareback pad to ride a Thoroughbred that is feeling better every day and hasn't been ridden or lunged properly in almost two months!

And yes, she's feeling good. She doesn't doze off at the crossties so much anymore. She is gaining weight steadily; even my husband noticed it yesterday. I'm very pleased with her appearance. She was on the last of the psyllium last night. I think I will repeat the psyllium in a month or so then leave it at that--I still believe she picked up that sand at her old barn. There is really no way she could have gotten it at the current place.

Yesterday I noticed a couple new, enormous cobwebs along the back of Lim's stall. With gritted teeth, I batted them down with a broom. I thought about an enormous spider running down the handle of the broom and the heebie-jeebies prickled my scalp.

But I just had to--I paused, broom in air, and looked back at Lim, who was on the crossties next to the stall. She was looking at me with that white-ringed right eye of hers, black forelock and lashes framing the eye, ears pricked forward. I forgot about the spiders and smiled.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Happy Monday!

Just a few more days until we leave for Kentucky! Every year, my husband and I go on a trip for our anniversary. We met on July 25th and, three years later, got married on July 26th. We met while on a trip so it's only fitting!

This year we are driving to Lexington and Louisville. We're leaving bright and early Friday morning. Later that afternoon, we'll have a private tour at Three Chimneys Farm, where Smarty Jones stands. I'm very excited about this! We're also going to Pin Oak Stud that afternoon.

The Kentucky Horse Park and Old Friends Equine retirement center are planned for Saturday. Ogygian, the last great son of Damascus, lives at Old Friends. He's pretty much Limerick's uncle! I've heard he's a sweet old boy that you can feed mints and carrots to.

That night, we'll have our anniversary dinner in downtown Lexington.

Claiborne Farm and Adena Springs Farm are next on Sunday, then we will drive to Louisville and visit Churchill Downs on Monday morning before heading back home.

When I cleaned Limerick's stall yesterday, I put her in the outdoor arena so I could keep an eye on her. I caught her galloping about a couple times; I was very pleased to see this. She is slowly but surely gaining weight and is now at the "plumpest" she's been in almost a year. The psyllium, extra hay and grain, wearing her cribbing collar every night, and teeth floating seem to be doing the trick.

She looks lovely and is full of life, it truly makes me so happy to see this.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ah, the weekends!

I almost forgot how gratifying weekends are. During my months of job-searching, I would spend hours a day searching for and applying to jobs from, craigslist, Careerbuilder, etc etc and etc. That was my "job".

But still, I was on my own schedule, at home, and could take a break and go to the barn whenever I wanted. I rarely did much job searching on weekends because I wanted to spend more time with my husband then. But other than my husband being home, weekends were really no different for me.

Now, after my return to full-time work, I'm relishing the weekends again!

My first full week at work went by amazingly quick; I take that to be a good sign. Days at my old job would often stretch on f-o-o-o-o-rever. I felt like a lab rat on an eternally-moving wheel, always afraid to stop. I even felt guilty taking restroom breaks! They expected you to work, work, work your butt off, even when there was no work to be done. On such rare days, I would have a momentary sense of panic. And throughout it all, I would keep an eye on my computer clock, watching the seconds tick by towards the end of the day.

I was with that company for three years.

And now, my new boss is telling me to slow down and pace myself. What! Slow down?! Whenever I get some new files in my inbox, I speed through everything as fast as I can without making errors before hurrying the files back over to the lab. Several times this week I found myself without any work to do because I had done it all so quickly. I had to restrain myself from asking my boss for the zillionth time, "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"You're done already?" she would say.

At the end of the day yesterday, I got some new files about an hour before closing time. I dove right in, fully intending to finish everything before the end of the day. But before long, the administrative department had to clear out all the chairs, trashcans, and other floor-bound items for the carpet cleaning guys that are supposed to arrive today. While I can work without a desk chair, it would be a little awkward.

"What do I do with the work?" I asked my boss, worried.

She just laughed. "Hey, at least you'll have something to do on Monday morning!" she said. "Don't worry about it. You need to pace yourself; you don't need to rush through everything."

I don't?

The stress of my former job is trying to make a comeback but the laid-back, happy atmosphere of my new job is not allowing it. It's going to take some time to get used to...but it's a good thing to have to get used to!

Limerick is doing okay. My vet visited on Thursday morning (another nice thing about the new job--they allowed me to come in later that morning to accomodate the vet. "No problem!" they said...and they even asked me, with geunine care, how Lim was doing when I arrived to work! supervisors would have cared at the old place!) to float Lim's teeth and do another lameness exam.

My vet now believes Lim just has pedal osteitis, or inflammation of the coffin bone. While not pleasant, I would definitely take it over laminitis. My vet concurs that Lim's hind end looks better, almost normal, and her front end, while still sore, is also better. She is coming back on the morning of the 31st to further evaluate Lim's feet. She wants to give those Sole Guard pads that my farrier put on another couple weeks to work, and from there we will either inject her coffin bones (although how exactly that would work, I'm not sure!) or work with my farrier to put specialized pads on Lim's feet--or both.

Lim had some major hooks on her teeth, including a huge one on the back of her upper molars that is not visible, just felt. My vet believes that when Lim had her teeth power floated in October, the old vet completely missed these hooks because she was not feeling for them.

My vet spent some time with her arm in Lim's mouth, palpating all her teeth. Then she hand-floated Lim's teeth. She got all of the hooks except the large one in the back--she said that one is so big that she could only file off half of it at one time; taking off the whole thing at once may make Lim's jaw sore. She will come back in about 3-4 months to remove the rest of it. She also said that now that Lim is 17-years-old and her teeth are no longer growing, I should only have her teeth hand-floated. She believes power floating takes too much unneccessary tooth off and prefers the finesse that a hand-floating provides.

In the meantime, I'm to stick to the bareback walks I've been doing. I am just dying to get back on the trails again but I know that my patience will pay off.

I'm thinking of getting a McClellan saddle sometime this fall specifically for trail rides. They are open along the spine of the horse's back, lightweight and comfortable for the horse, and pretty cool looking to boot! They were used as war saddles in the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. I have found a few complete ones in decent shape on eBay for about $200-300 so they are affordable.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The routine of work

Work is going well but I'm finding it hard to make time for writing! I need to try to fit it into my schedule somehow.

Right now, I'm on my last pet sitting job. Due to this, Monday through Thursday is quite a long week for me. After work, I stop at home to change then head to the barn. After a precious hour or so with Limerick, I need to drive 20 minutes to the pet sitting job. There, I need to stay for an hour before driving another 20 minutes back home.

By the time I get home, it is nine o' clock and I'm hungry and exhausted and a little cranky. We go to bed at ten so I hardly have time to make my lunch for work the next day, make some dinner, and spend a little time with my husband.

I accepted the pet sitting job before I was hired so I did not want to back out of it; I am generally one to keep my word. But no is easy when you're not working full-time but otherwise, yeow!

Oh and yes, the pet sitting job means I can't go for a run after the barn, which I enjoy doing.

Anyway, enough griping.

On Thursday morning, the vet is coming out to float Limerick's teeth and do another lameness exam. Lim is better but still not 100% regarding the lameness so we'll see what's going on. Initially the appointment was for 7am but it was bumped up to 7:30. I really hope she arrives on time so we can get everything done before I have to leave for work!

Yes, yes, Thursday will be an extremely long day for me.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Does she know?

I wonder if Limerick knows I can't hear well.

Yesterday, I rode her using the bareback pad. We were in the outdoor arena, all alone. It was 8:30pm and the sun was a great red ball dipping into the horizon.

At one point, Limerick stopped and stared at one of the houses along the east end of the property. I looked and looked but I had no idea what had caught her attention. Her head was high, her ears pricked, and her eyes pinpointed on...something.

When she was young and full of run, that pose was never a sign of pleasant things to come. But she has not spooked beneath me, other than on one, excused, occasion (see Happy Birthday Limerick! in the May archives) for quite a while.

"Please don't spook now, not when I'm riding you bareback and my wrists are aching. Oh, if I fall, my wrists will just collapse beneath me!" I thought out loud to Limerick. My wrists and right hand have been aching for the past few weeks; if it's possible to have arthritis at this age, well, I think I'm getting it.

Lim lowered her head and walked on. I let out a deep breath and settled into the bareback pad. We wandered around the arena for a while. Lim would glance at the house when we were on the east side of the arena but nothing more.

A woman walked out of the barn and to the rail of the arena. I waved at her. She waved me over. Surprised, I steered Limerick towards her.

"I wanted to let you know that they're setting off bottle rockets over there," she said, pointing at the house that Limerick had been looking at.


"Oh thanks, I didn't know that. I can't hear them. Limerick was looking over that way for a while but then she seemed fine," I said.

Bottle rockets?! I was floored that Lim hadn't done more than look in the direction of the rockets.

For some time now, I have been wondering if she knows I can't hear normally. I know us humans already have weak hearing compared to horses, but I wonder if she knew I was not like other people when it came to my sense of hearing.

The bottle rocket thing is making me lean more towards "yes, she knows!"

When Lim was four to five years old, she would spook at sounds, at things I had no awareness of. These spooks took me by complete surprise and were very unnerving, even scary. Nothing is more rattling than having your supposedly calm and controlled Thoroughbred suddenly, with no warning, lift herself into the air and shoot forward at a zillion billion miles per hour, your life flashing before your eyes, the blurry faces of people and other horses zipping by, your hands frantically trying to gather the reins into position for an emergency one-rein stop.

But you know what?

After that age, the sound-related spooks slowed to a crawl, then a halt. Sure, Lim was more than happy to take off at a dead run if she saw something scary, but otherwise I could count on her to not run away with me at every funny sound that filtered through her sensitive ears.

I have seen her spook at sounds, or things I could only imagine were sounds (for nothing was to be seen) while I have been lunging her, or watching her playing in the arena.

So who knows?

What do you think?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Inspiration on a balmy evening

Black forelock over
Blinking lashes
Dark eye with brilliant
Crescent moon
Your face
Your gaze
Takes me over the sun
Through night skies where
Pegasus flew
And into the stars
That shine
within you.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


My first day yesterday went great! I filled out paperwork, had a more thorough tour of the facility, met the rest of the employees, and sat down with my supervisor to go over sample reports. Then she turned me loose with a few of my own.

Many of the reports are already in some sort of format on the hard drive but a few of them are complicated and require re-wording to coordinate with the lab results in my hands.

The day went by fairly quick which is good since my head felt like it was going to explode at the end of the day with the influx of information!

And I was just working on the easy reports yesterday.

After work, all I could think of was seeing Limerick. As soon as I walked into the barn and breathed that sweet horse scent in, I had completely forgotten about my day.

I groomed Limerick well as always. I notice she has gained a little weight; looks like all the hay I'm giving her at the end of the day is helping. She gets around nine flakes of hay a day, which is almost a whole bale! Three flakes in the morning and six in the evening to last her throughout the night.

I've also started adding a handful of grain to her beet pulp to slowly prepare her gut for the third meal in the evening.

I decided to lunge her to monitor her progress with the lameness. She started out a little stiff but within a few seconds she spooked at something just outside the arena door. She flung her head into the air, dug into the arena and cantered around, her forelock flying over her ears, until I told her to stop.

I had to tell her to stop! Normally it is impossible to get her to canter these days, much less have to tell her to stop! After her canter, she trotted around quite loose and limber, legs moving forward well.

I think a detected a little stiffness but it's so hard for me to tell these days; my eyes are so accustomed to seeing lameness that I'm not sure what is normal anymore!

When we were done, I gave Lim a big hug and kissed the side of her neck. Needless to say, I was all smiles when we left the arena.

I'm going to try riding her bareback today!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Day One & Choke

I start my new job today. I'm excited but a little nervous! I'm not sure what to expect for the day. We'll find out soon, though.

Limerick is still keeping me on my toes. I was meeting with a client for a pet-sitting job on Monday night. During the meet, my Blackberry kept vibrating in my purse but I didn't want to be rude and check it. The meet lasted almost an hour and a half.

As we were leaving, I checked my Blackberry and saw a long list of unopened texts from my husband. I caught the beginnings of them--"Barn called..." "Dr. Camden said..." "She's ok now...". Anyone watching me at that moment would have seen the blood disappearing from my face. I felt dizzy. What could it be now? Colic again?

The last text came in. "Don't drive too fast and get in an accident!"

I only drove 15mph over the speed limit. The barn was an agonizing 20-minute drive away. I read the texts at the red lights, my fingers drumming on the steering wheel in anxiety.

My husband was at the barn with Limerick; another boarder had called him to say she was thrashing around in her stall with green gunk coming out of her nose. Naturally, with the recent colic episodes behind us, I assumed the worst--horrible colic with the stomach contents refluxing out her nose.

As I read through the texts, I got more of the story.

A boarder started walking Limerick and Lim began coughing up the green gunk, spraying it out through her nose. They called Dr. Camden, the emergency vet, and he said it sounded like choke and to give her Banamine.

Choke?! I found it hard to believe at first. Lim has never choked before, at least not that I know about.

For the non-horsey folks: choke is rarely life-threatening in horses; the food does not block their airway like it does with people. However, a horse with severe choke may thrash around and be very uncomfortable, as Limerick was. The choke can be so bad that the contents of the stomach come up through the nostrils, which was what the green gunk coming out of Limerick's nose was. On some occasions, the horse cannot dislodge the food themselves and a vet will need to tube water down their esophagus to dislodge the material.

Once I was sure she was okay, my husband and I went home and he called my regular vet to get her opinion. She agreed that it was choke and said I should strap Lim's cribbing collar on and remove all the hay from her stall for the night. I was already planning to head back to the barn and watch Lim for a while so it was no problem.

I stayed until midnight and watched her nod off in the corner, cribbing collar strapped on tight. When I patted her neck to say goodbye, she pinned her ears at me. I know she hates that collar and that it makes her miserable, but what can I do?

It's funny, before I left for the client meet that night, I had a really bad feeling. I didn't know why but I was dreading leaving the apartment. I wondered if it was because of the client but she turned out to be a very nice woman. Well, now I know why.

Like clockwork, for every two weeks in the past month, Lim has caused me to panic, stress, and worry about her. Limerick, I love you, but please stop scaring me!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The dream

I neglected to mention something interesting.

A few nights before the Morrie Waud appointment, before falling asleep, I asked for a sign--from both Limerick and my own subconscious--of what will happen at Morrie Waud.

I had a dream that my husband and I were alerted to an enormous tornado approaching from the south. I ran outside and saw the angry black clouds of the tornadoes (and yes, there were two of them side-by-side) to the far west and moving away.

I was relieved.

Then I looked to my left and saw another tornado--this one not as large, but still menacing--bearing down on me fast! I ran out of the way. I felt the howling winds dig into my skin and kept my head low to avoid flying objects. But I emerged alive and unharmed.

The dream told me that something I did not expect would be diagnosed on Tuesday; something potentially harmful yet something we could fix before it hurt Lim badly.

I told a handful of people about the dream. I asked what they thought it meant, even though I already knew.

Well, it came true.

On another note, my farrier saw Limerick yesterday. He genuinely believes Limerick does not have laminitis. He does agree that Limerick has pedal osteitis (inflammation of the coffin bone, as shown on her radiographs), however, and it is possible she may have white line disease.

My farrier's wife, who is also a friend, had me lunge Limerick for her. Lim looked fantastic, she moved out well and we managed to get her to trot quickly--something I haven't seen in almost two months! I was very surprised.

We then did a flexion test on Lim and trotted her over asphalt. Once again, she looked much better. When it was my turn to watch Lim trotting, I could barely see anything that was wrong. She was favoring her left fore a little but not much. She used her hind legs well.

I was so surprised but so relieved. More and more, I'm leaning towards what my farrier says. He is a great farrier and I trust his opinions. My vet is also great but I know she tends to be on the cautious side.

My farrier put Sole Guard, which is a black tar-like substance that dries to a shock-absorbing gel, much like a sneaker, on Lim's front soles.

When I asked why she wasn't sore in the back anymore, my farrier and his wife said that Lim's front feet had been ouchy so she was compensating by putting more weight onto her hind legs. Over time, this made her sore in the back. Being off hard ground and on stall rest helped her put her weight back onto her front feet and relieve the strain on her arthritic hocks and stifle.

What good news! We decided it would be good for Lim to be turned out again so today she is out with the others for the first time in a couple weeks.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Morrie Waud & Happy 4th!

Happy 4th! I admit it's just another day for me, though. We were debating seeing the fireworks in Lisle but a) you need to pay (pay?!) and b) the idea of being sandwiched among hordes of suburbanites doesn't quite appeal to me.

Limerick's visit to Morrie Waud was on Tuesday. The stress and tension of the past couple weeks have come crashing down. It is hard to update the blog when I'm mentally drained, so yes I know it's a bit of a delay.

First though, Limerick's diagnosis isn't great. It's not horrible, but does make a lot of sense. Abdominal radiographs revealed sand in her gut. Sand! If we were located in Nevada or Colorado, the diagnosis would make sense. But here? How and where she got it, I'm not 100% sure about but I have a couple different theories.

At her old barn she was in a sand pen for turnout, on and off for various reasons. She ate hay off the ground in that pen so it's possible she first started to ingest the sand there.

The second theory is a bit of a stretch but it's all I can think of. I have read rumors about bags of Midwest Agri shredded beet pulp containing sand as fillers. Not all bags, mind you, but some. My last bag of beet pulp was quite dusty; much more so than usual. I didn't think much of it at the time but now I wonder.

I opened a new bag on Wednesday and it hardly had any dust. Just in case, I checked it for sand and did not find any. The old bag is gone and I cannot check to see if my theory is correct.

It is very possible that Limerick first picked up the sand at our old barn. Signs of sand include weight loss, lethargy, depression, poor hoof quality, poor hair coat, and fungus infections and wounds that are slow to heal, or won't heal.

I have been wondering if Limerick's spring and fall laminitis relapses are due to the sand. Perhaps it's not the rich grass in itself causing problems, but the grass plus the sand and the havoc it wreaks. It is natural to think that the presence of sand would highly disturb the delicate balance of bacteria within the equine gut, predisposing a horse with past mechanical laminitis issues to have relapses.

I'm hoping to find scientific proof or conclusions on this theory. In the meantime, I need to do what I can to get that sand out. From there, we can work on Limerick's weight and well-being as a whole.