Sunday, December 29, 2013

A tough three weeks for Lim and I

I can say that without a doubt, 2013 has been one of the most difficult years Lim has had. It seems as if she was only 100% sound and healthy for two or three months this year. There were problems large and small in each of the remaining months.

The past month has been particularly rough.

On Friday November 22, shortly before I left work, I received a text from a fellow boarder--we'll call her Boarder A--informing me that Limerick was coughing, had a lot of white/clear stuff coming out of her nostrils, and was not eating. I immediately knew it had to be choke so I asked Boarder A to call the vet. "Call Dr. C or Fox Valley," I said. Then I added, "Actually, just call Fox Valley. I will be on my way soon."

I was out the door within minutes and received a text response as I walked to the car: "Boarder B (another boarder, a vet tech) is on her way." I responded, "Did you call the vet? I am leaving work now." A few minutes into my drive to the barn, I received another response: "No, Boarder B will help you."

I'm not one to text and drive so arguing with Boarder A while on the road was out of the question. Lim was at the forefront of my mind, anyway. Although choke doesn't grip me within the same stomach-churning terror as colic, it's still an emergency and must be taken seriously.

Long story short, Boarder B gave Lim a Banamine injection in her neck and--you guessed it--an abscess formed. If you are not familiar with how serious an abscess caused by a Banamine IM injection is, then read this link

The abscess in Lim's neck did not form quickly. I first noticed it on the following Monday evening. It manifested as a small warm lump and although Lim seemed okay, alarm bells immediately began going off in my head. I decided to return the follow morning and check her neck again. The lump was slightly larger so I immediately asked my husband to call the vet for me.

The vet found three small pockets of gas/fluid so she made an incision in the outer two pockets then another incision through the center pocket. She placed a drain through all three pockets. She instructed me to give Lim 15 tablets of SMZs twice daily, metronidazole twice daily and bute once daily. The above photo was taken shortly after the drain was placed into the neck.

The above two photos were taken two days later. I had the vet come out again because I felt another lump on the other side of her neck and, being extremely paranoid (and cautious), I wanted to be sure it wasn't another abscess. To my great relief, it was just a nasty muscle knot (likely from holding her sore neck stiffly).

The relief I felt when the vet told me the other lump was nothing to worry about? Words cannot describe it. I was a shaking, crying mess that morning before the vet appointment. I do not pray but I was that morning, hoping and asking and begging that Lim would be okay. Needless to say, when the vet left I was exhausted. Luckily I didn't need to go back to work so I spent a few hours in the cold with Lim, braiding her mane and cleaning her incision/drain and massaging the awful muscle knot in her neck.

This photo was taken a couple days later. At this point, the metronidazole was suppressing Lim's appetite so I had begun giving it rectally, upon the vet's advice. It helped, as did taking her out daily for short hand-grazing sessions.

The above photo was taken after Lim's first-ever Reiki session. I wasn't sure what to expect of it but Miss Lim was very relaxed throughout the session and appeared to enjoy it.

At this point in time, she's a little more perky and although her appetite isn't 100% yet, it's much better than before. I had been taking her temperature twice daily, too. Sometimes in the evening her temperature would spike a little--to 101, which isn't too high for a horse, but higher than her more normal 99. Keeping her happy was stressful but I would have moved mountains for her if that's what it took.

In the above photos she's off the antibiotics now--finally!--but her digestive system was taking its time returning to normal. Gas and bloat were a serious concern so I decided to try using her cribbing collar again. To my surprise, she didn't become aggressive or crabby with it on like she did a little over a decade ago. I am very happy with this and have begun leaving it on her when she's in her stall (it's removed for turnout). I also had her on 5 tablets of Gas-X twice daily as well as ProBios paste (along with her normal daily probiotic supplement). She wasn't yet going out with the herd but I turned her out in one of the arenas or round pen every day for some stimulation and exercise.

The above photo is of my husband scratching Lim's withers (which she loves!) This was her first day back with the herd so we went out to the barn in the morning to watch her for a while. After three weeks away from the herd, there was a chance that she would have a difficult time. But to my relief, she eventually found her boyfriend and they were reunited again, at last.

I learned a very hard--and frustrating--lesson from all this. Even though I twice requested that my vet be called for the choke, my request was not honored and instead, alternate plans were made for me. In the future, I will be very firm about what I want for Limerick, particularly when it comes to veterinary care. I am very grateful and relieved that she came through this potentially disastrous illness with nothing more than two small scars on her neck.

Horse Racing Nation: My Favorite Photographs of 2013

I chose 24 of my favorite photographs of 2013 and shared them here. I hope you enjoy them!

HRN: My Favorite Photographs of 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Limerick's new boyfriend is a gentleman

Lim has yet another new boyfriend: McMurphy. McMurphy is a 25-year-old Quarter Horse gelding that has been trying to woo Miss Lim for quite a while. He's delighted that she has finally given into his gentlemanly charms.

Horse Racing Nation: A Farewell to Royal Delta

Two-time Eclipse Award and Breeder's Cup Distaff winner Royal Delta has been retired from racing as of today, per her connections. Aside from a double in the Breeders' Cup, the Grade I victories of the 5-year-old dark bay daughter of Empire Maker – Delta Princess (by A.P. Indy) include the Alabama Stakes, Beldame Invitational Stakes, Personal Ensign Handicap, and Delaware Handicap. Bred and raced by Palides Investments until 2011, Royal Delta sold for $8.5 million to Besilu Stables at the 2011 Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale shortly after winning her first Distaff.

Among the wealth of good fillies and mares to grace the racetrack in recent years, Royal Delta’s star shone as bright as any other. Her bare stats—22 starts, 12 wins, 5 seconds and 1 third, with over $4.8 million in earnings—hardly touch the depth of the essence she brought to the track. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The leg is improving!

(Above and below) My husband took these pictures of me hosing Lim's leg.

Looking good!

This is a quick update to the wound Limerick suffered on her right fore cannon last week. The wound is healing nicely and I am hopeful that I will be able to ride her next week. The inflammation and swelling are gone; all that remains is for the body to re-knit the missing skin and hair.

I will keep the wound covered with Neosporin and bandages until I am satisfied with how it looks.

Monday, October 28, 2013

I am now a correspondent for Horse Racing Nation!

It's always been one of my dreams to write for horse racing, and thanks to the fact I'm a new correspondent for Horse Racing Nation, the door to that dream has opened. My blog on HRN is called "Portrait of the Thoroughbred" and I will use it as a canvas for words and photographs of the sport of Thoroughbred racing, as well as Thoroughbreds in general. 

I will post a link each time I update my HRN blog. Since the Breeder's Cup hoopla is in full swing until late next week, I plan to wait until it has died down before posting for the first time. In the meantime, you can see the last blog I posted as a guest on HRN here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

As horse owners, we can morph into horse nurses with little notice.

After application of my equine nursing skills. The before photos are below (and somewhat gory).

And I had to do just that yesterday evening. My barn owner let me know via text that the guy working at the barn said Limerick had a "bad cut" on one leg and it's not an "emergency" but definitely needs attention. He also said she wasn't lame and was eating her hay like normal. Nonetheless, I had so many scenarios running through my head.

When I arrived at the barn 1.5 hours later, Limerick was bright and alert. The damage to her leg was immediately obvious, but I was relieved to find that it was a case of "looks worse than it really is". After a few moments of cold-hosing, the wound's true form emerged as nothing more than a brutal scrape.

Endless globs of Neosporin, a large wound pad, VetRap and masking tape later, Lim's leg was nicely bandaged. As she had no heat, swelling, or lameness and the wound was not near a joint, I am optimistic about a quick recovery. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A great step forward into Limerick's heritage

Limerick, a.k.a. Amanda Bry, in May 2013 (age 22)

I do not post much about it, but I have a very deep interest in Limerick's heritage. It's not just her pedigree that fascinates me, but also the people and places in her life before she came into mine. Her owners, her trainer, her breeder, the farm she was foaled on, the very earth of Golconda, Illinois, upon which she took her first wobbling steps, the great Ohio River just over the horizon. Did her young nose catch hints of the river water on the breeze?

Like a river, searching for information about your off-track Thoroughbred's past can lead you to many tributaries. Sometimes the waters of these tributaries are clear and calm, and passage up them yields rewarding information about your horse. Other times the tributaries are muddy with a current that makes passage difficult. Sometimes these tributaries go on and on with promise, and other times your journey is brief and fruitless, and you must turn around. The older your horse is, the longer your quest up the river will be, and there will be many tributaries to explore, some of which may be dried up.

Seeking information about Limerick's heritage has been a long journey. One major tributary that I had sought was the one leading to contact with Lim's owners from her racing days. Unfortunately, I had found that tributary to be dry.

Then one day, a month ago, I received a very special email. That tributary hadn't been dry after all.

Amanda Bry in 1993 (age 2). Photos courtesy C. Kurth

It turns out she had been searching for me, too. She she did not specify which article, but she--Carol, Limerick's owner from her racing days--said she had found me through the article about "Mandy", by which I presume she means the Paulick Report OTTB Showcase article about Limerick from a year ago. A quick Google search of "Amanda Bry thoroughbred" leads to this article.

Among the many things she said, one jumped out furthest: "If you are interested, I'm sure that I could find some [photos] of [Limerick] when she was in training. Please let me know if you would like any pictures." Would I? I definitely would!

A few days ago, she sent me the above photos of a very young Limerick, taken in 1993. Words cannot describe how very happy I was to see these.

I still have many questions and about Limerick's past, but thanks to an owner that cares, I have taken a great step forward into her heritage.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Wise Dan, Groupie Doll and Heavy Rains: Photos from Shadwell "Turf Mile" Day at Keeneland

On Saturday, heavy rains moved into Keeneland as lady luck left and two of the heavy favorites of the day fell. But despite the rain and losses, I had a wonderful time; if anything, the rains allowed me to take some interesting photos.

Above and below: the first heavy rainfall of the day approaches under the guise of fog.

Woodford Presented by Keeneland Select (Gr. III) - This beautiful War Front colt ran 7th

Woodford Presented by Keeneland Select (Gr. III) - Havelock wins.

Thoroughbred Club of America (Gr. II) - Champion sprinter Groupie Doll touches her nose to her handler.

(Above and below four) Thoroughbred Club of America (Gr. II) - Groupie Doll clearly knew what cameras meant; she kept pausing to pose, as some of the good ones are wont to do.

(Above and below) Thoroughbred Club of America (Gr. II) - Gypsy Robin

Thoroughbred Club of America (Gr. II) -Tanglewood Tale and her handler...with their tongues out!

(Above and below) Thoroughbred Club of America (Gr. II) - Judy the Beauty is a favorite of my husband's.

Thoroughbred Club of America (Gr. II) - Groupie Doll, Rajiv Maragh up

Dark skies threatened as the Thoroughbred Club of America field headed to the post. Judy the Beauty was the winner, with Gypsy Robin 2nd and Groupie Doll a rare 3rd. The first favorite of the day had fallen.

First Lady Stakes (Gr. I) - Hungry Island

First Lady Stakes (Gr. I) -Winding Way, a full sister to Kauai Katie

First Lady Stakes (Gr. I) - A personal favorite, Daisy Devine

First Lady Stakes (Gr. I) - Say (IRE), a daughter of super-sire Galileo,  poses regally while being saddled

First Lady Stakes (Gr. I) - The dark skies finally opened up and the second heavy rain of the day fell. Better Lucky and her handler hurry for cover.

First Lady Stakes (Gr. I) - The field leaves the paddock for the post

(Above and below two) First Lady Stakes (Gr. I) - Despite her name, Dayatthespa was reluctant to leave the shelter of the saddling stall to join the field.

First Lady Stakes (Gr. I) - The rain was so heavy that I could barely see the start of the race.

First Lady Stakes (Gr. I) - Better Lucky wins, with Dayatthespa a close 2nd and Daisy Devine 3rd

Dixiana Breeder's Futurity (Gr. II) - We Miss Artie splashes home in front over the supposedly weather-proof polytrack. It had been announced that the Shadwell Turf Mile was off the turf and would instead be run over the polytrack.

Shadwell (Gr. I) - Local (Illinois) favorite, Hogy

Shadwell (Gr. I) - Handsome Mike

Shadwell (Gr. I) - Silver Max

Shadwell (Gr. I) - Wise Dan's jockey, John Valezquez, approaches

Shadwell (Gr. I) - Turallure is as handsome as ever in the rain.

(Above and below) Shadwell (Gr. I) - The eyes of Wise Dan's trainer rarely left his champion horse.

Shadwell (Gr. I) - Silver Max, Robby Albarado up

Shadwell (Gr. I) - Wise Dan, John Valezquez up

Shadwell (Gr. I) - Start
Shadwell (Gr. I) -Wise Dan attempts to claim a good position in the race. He ended up being bumped and going wide around both turns.

Shadwell (Gr. I) - Wise Dan dug in deep with a powerful stretch drive but was unable to catch the front-running Silver Max

Shadwell (Gr. I) - The horses return

Shadwell (Gr. I) - Wise Dan is walked back to his barn, disappointment evident on the faces of his handlers.

(Above and below) I'm Already Sexy, winner of the Pucker Up Stakes (Gr. III) at Arlington Park. She is entered in the upcoming Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (Gr. I) at Keeneland

Arlington Park favorite, Hogy

Gulch at Old Friends

Ogygian approaches at Old Friends. The 30-year-old stallion (and my personal favorite at OF) enjoyed a neck scratch before it began to pour buckets--again.

The still-spry old stallion whirled like a cutting horse and ran for the cover of a nearby tree.

India, a tail female descendant of Golden Trail.

(Above and below three) Princess Arabella politely enjoys a carrot