The New Face of Dressage…

Posted in Uncategorized on August 25, 2012 by princesswitchface

…in the alternate dimension where I’ve been elected Queen of the Universe!

Button braids are replaced w/ the much more fun and low-maintenance “gear cut” funky mohawk.  Shaved/plucked sides of the “dressage tail” replaced with the stylish (and less likely to incite constant tail rubbing when it grows out) belled tail.

Top hat replaced with ASTM-certified riding helmet (added benefit for me is that the chin strap helps visually delineate my barely-existant jawline).  Tall boots replaced with paddocks & vintage Ariat Terrains (new Ariat Volant XT is acceptable… taking your sweet time in accepting the Terrain’s obvious superiority means that you must now pay nearly $100 more for the same chap… oh, & also a Spanish top).  Coats & shadbellies replaced with the much-more-practical-in-Florida t-shirt (it’s got rhinestones on it, so it’s fancy).  Note the addition of the mini-skirt: so much more flattering than just breeches on so many body types!

Butterfly driving bits shall henceforth be recognized as dressage legal, so long as no curb chain is used & the reins are fastened on the snaffle ring… because doing so makes it functionally identical to a baucher.  And I can’t find a baucher with a solid mouthpiece, dammit!  Please ignore the fact there is a curb chain in this pic, & the fact that the reins are actually fastened to the top curb ring.  That’s how we ride on the trail (I don’t generally ride w/ contact when we’re hacking, & I very much like to have reliable brakes), & although I changed the bit from our grubby old hacking bridle to our doesn’t-quite-fit-but-looks-swanky leather bridle, I neglected to re-set the reins/curb chain to our usual schooling configuration.

Note, however, that even with my flaily hands wielding a curb bit, no noseband was necessary to crank her mouth shut.  Things that make you go “hmmmm”…

In all seriousness, I just wanted to share my excitement at having a photoshoot with my fantabulous horse!  So far, I’ve only seen a fraction of the final product, & I couldn’t be happier.  GAWD, I love my horse!

Also, look!  Proof that I actually DO ride her, sometimes!  Granted, this was one of two rides we got in between her coming back from the gate incident, & then having to remove a sarcoid-esque tumor that finally started bothering her… but that’s a story for another post.  Which I’ll hopefully make before another month passes…


I think my horse might be trying to tell me something…

Posted in Uncategorized on July 21, 2012 by princesswitchface

Might be “it’s time for you to give up & officially retire me so I don’t have to invent new & exciting ways to render myself unridable”.  Or maybe it’s “I really like the taste of Bute & will do anything to make you cram it down my throat”.

She loves her boots & her feet are getting better, & life was good.  Went out to ride her last night, & wondered what the hell happened to the gate between her paddock & the one belonging to her neighbors:

Then I brought her into the light where I could see her legs, & got a pretty good idea what happened to the gate:

She doesn’t seem to have done any serious damage, but she sure is scraped up, swollen, & sore.  Poor kid.

These pix are from this morning, BTW.  And the neighbors she was fighting with have been swapped w/ the gelding she loves.  Come to think of it, that might be what she was trying to say: “If you don’t bring my boyfriend back, I’m going to have to take drastic measures!”

New Shoes!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 11, 2012 by princesswitchface

The best part about Moon’s lameness issues is that it gave me the perfect excuse to buy her some really sweet new shoes.  I’ve been eyeing Renegade Hoof Boots for awhile, now, but just never seemed to be able to work them into the budget.  Once they were vet-prescribed, however, we were good to go (my husband can’t say “no” to a critter in need).  Unfortunately, they don’t offer them in purple, so the choice was black (would look slightly less offensive at an SCA event) or neon orange (easier to spot if we lose one, & generally more fun).

You can probably guess which ones I settled on.

They don’t fit her the way they’re supposed to, thanks to her underrun heels.  They’re also a little too big (I figure she’ll probably grow into them now that her walls aren’t being rasped away to nothing every four weeks, & in the meantime I’m cramming big squishy pads in them).  I absolutely love them!  They’re super easy to get on & off, & look a lot cooler than any other brand of hoof boots I’ve seen (my horse is now one step closer to being a full-fledged cybergoth).

The most important thing?  Moon loves them, too!  The first time I lunged her in them, I was amazed at the difference in her movement.  Her short-strided “pony trot” was gone.  My Warmblood was moving like a Warmblood!  Pretty sure I’ve finally seen that “heel-first landing” that I keep hearing about.  I have seriously never seen this horse move like that in the four years that I’ve known her.

So, on one hand I’m beyond excited to have figured out what at least part of Moon’s problem is, and how to fix it.  On the other hand, I feel like a complete failure as a horse person now that I know that I’ve been riding a lame horse for years.  Why did nobody tell me how fucked up my horse’s feet were?  It’s not like this is a horse who’s gone without regular farrier or vet attention.  Ah, well.  Better late than never, right?

What You’ve Missed (Part IV)

Posted in Horse Health & Medicine on July 9, 2012 by princesswitchface

So, I’ve got my trusted vet on one side, & my trusted chiro/farrier (who, BTW, claims to be neither) on the other, & a very sad horse in the middle.  What’s a girl to do?

Why, consult the wisdom of the Intarwebs, of course!

I posted pix of Moon’s hooves to a web forum frequented by people who I trust to be knowledgeable about hoof care.

Last December, about 6 weeks after trim by old farrier.

April, freshly trimmed by her new trimmer (let’s call her “CJ”).

Opinions ranged along the lines from “broken angles, underrun heels, yuck!” to “there’s a definite improvement from Dec to April”.

Then I got current pictures.

I think my favourite response is (and I quote,) “Wowzer! She can’t handle that.”

Incidentally, I’m noticing that all of the pictures I take of Moon when she’s wet look like she’s covered in purple glitter.  I think this is pretty awesome, but I’m curious to know what causes it (you know… beyond our collective purple glittery awesomeness infecting all digital media).

I had an epiphany while reading the responses to the current pix of Moon’s hooves.  When Moon was mostly sound, two things happened right before she became lame again: she grazed for a couple of hours, and her feet got trimmed.

Leave it to me to fabricate the most complicated explanation possible (IR & laminitis) rather than admit to myself that CJ wasn’t doing as good of a job trimming Moon’s feet as I thought she was.

What You’ve Missed (Part III)

Posted in Horse Health & Medicine on July 8, 2012 by princesswitchface

Okay, so Moon’s hooves were sore.  Why?  Thinking back over the length of her current bout of lameness, there was one point where she was just about sound.  It came at the end of a week where I was out of town, then sick enough to not want to do anything but lay on the couch.

Moon lives in a sand paddock with a round-bale of coastal hay.  There’s a grassy barnyard area where she gets to graze, but she’s only turned out there when I’m around to supervise.  For a week I wasn’t at the barn longer than was necessary to mix up Moon’s feed.  For a week, Moon didn’t get any grass turnout time.  At the end of that week, she was walking without obvious pain for the first time in going on two months.  Then I let her graze again, & BAM!  The very next day she was lamer than ever!

Holy crap!  Does my horse have laminitis?

I’d thought that laminitis was always an acute emergency situation.  It never occurred to me that it was possible for a horse to be mildly laminitic.  Googling led me to Katy Watts’ website, which was incredibly informative but increasingly alarming.  Of particular interest were the signs of laminitis.  Almost everything under the heading of “very mild laminitis” has applied to Moon for the entire time that I’ve known her.  “Mild laminitis may be mistaken for arthritis”.  Seriously?  Why did I not know that this was a possibility?  Also, according to, the time of day that grass is highest in sugars/starch (ie, the worst possible time for a horse who’s sensitive to such things to graze) are very late afternoon to a couple of hours after sunset.  I am not a morning person.  When do you think Moon usually gets to graze?  Usually somewhere between “very late afternoon” & “a couple of hours after sunset”.

But wait… why would grazing be causing Moon to be laminitic?  I mean, she can’t be Insulin Resistant, right?  She’s not really even overweight, anymore!  Well, according to Dr. Kellon’s website, a horse doesn’t necessarily have to be a giant fatass to be IR.  And even though Moon’s lost weight, she still has fat pads behind her shoulders & at the dock of her tail.  And the more I looked at her, the more I started seeing the suggestion of a crest to her neck.

“I swear to god,” I swore to god, “I am going to kick the universe square in the ‘nads if my horse is IR!”  She’s one of the least obese horses on the property, & the only one who doesn’t eat super-glycemic carby sweet feed!  At least I wouldn’t have to change her diet, much… just find some beet pulp without molasses & stop feeding her junkfood horse cookies (and candy canes, and cupcakes, and Twizzlers).  And hope that her coastal hay wasn’t too awfully sugary, since testing hay I have no control over buying (it’s part of our boarding arrangement) would be pretty pointless.

Vet said she thought laminitis was terribly unlikely, but to go ahead & keep Moon off grass for awhile and see if it helped.

At this point, I pretty much lost it.  I wasn’t sleeping well, & most of my waking hours were spent either doctoring Moon, or researching possible causes/treatments for her pain.  I was so preoccupied with my horse that I was constantly making stupid mistakes (which was a particularly bad thing at work… I spend a lot of time operating a deli slicer).  One afternoon, I left my house to go to work, & got about a mile down the road before I snapped out of it & realized that I was driving toward the barn… the opposite direction from my job.  I was eagerly awaiting about $200 worth of boots and pads to come in the mail, and trying to figure out how to convince my long-suffering husband to let me spend another few hundred dollars on hoof radiographs & blood tests.  And I was starting to believe that I probably wouldn’t be able to ride my horse ever again.

I was a complete basket-case mental patient.  And Moon was still in pain.

What You’ve Missed (Part II)

Posted in Horse Health & Medicine on July 7, 2012 by princesswitchface

This is not the first time that Moon has been lame since I’ve known her.  She was often slightly gimpy behind way back in the day before she became “my horse” & I started her on joint supplements, & Old Vet gave her hock injections this past February.   And in the last year she’s occasionally been a wee bit bobbly in front.  Every time that happens, I give her about a week off, & she’s fine.  I’ve always chalked this up to her being a twenty-something ex(ish)-dressage horse, who probably has quite a respectable amount of joint deterioration.  Since we’re not competing at anything & I can’t really afford extensive diagnostics & treatments (beyond her $60/month joint supplement & various liniments & poultices), & a little bit of time off has always fixed Moon up in the past, I wasn’t terribly worried this time.

So I gave her some time off.  And she got better.  And then she got worse.  And then she got much worse.  She went from being comfortable as long as she wasn’t ridden, to being reluctant to walk or stand on concrete.  She refused to step up the few inches from the sand of the barnyard to the concrete of the cross-tie area: I had to walk her to the end of the washrack where the grass had grown up even with the concrete.   When she was on hard ground, she always stood “pointing” her right foot.  Which made me think… hasn’t she been standing like that with increasing frequency for months, now?

Her hoof trimmer (who has also done chiropractic work on her) thought the problem was her knees, primarily the right knee.  See, if a horse doesn’t want to put weight on a limb, then the pain is probably in the ankle or lower.  If they don’t want to put it down or pick it up (which is how Moon was acting), then the pain is probably in a higher-motion joint, like the knee, elbow, or shoulder.  See, there’s some inflammation in the right knee.   The left knee was probably more painful than I realized when she injured it back in April, so she’s been over-compensating & now her right knee is jacked up.

Made sense to me.  And since giving her time off obviously wasn’t helping, I called the vet to discuss our next step in arthritis management.  Adequan, perhaps?  Vet had me describe her symptoms, exactly.

“That sounds more like her feet to me.”

“Well, I guess you’d better come take a look at her, then, because all I know is that she’s hurting somewhere.”

Vet came out, poked at Moon’s knees a bit, then whipped out the hoof testers.

“Ow,” Moon said.  “Ouch!  Holy crap, stop pinching my feet, you horrible woman!”

“Her knees are fine.  Here, stand her up on this concrete.”

“Ow!  OwowowOW!”

“That’s far enough.  Look at her legs & hooves.  See how they make a ‘J’?  Those angles aren’t supposed to curve like that.  She’s got no heel, & is putting too much pressure on her toes, which is making them sore.  You could get shoes & pads put on, but you’d be better off getting boots… one round of shoeing is almost as much as the cost of the boots, & the boots will last longer.”

Okay, thank you.  Here’s your check.  Did I just pay you $60 so that you could tell me that my horse has sore feet… right after she had her feet trimmed & her trimmer told me that her knees were the problem?  o_O

What You’ve Missed (Part I)

Posted in Horse Health & Medicine on July 6, 2012 by princesswitchface

Moon’s been lame for awhile.  Like, since April.  At first I was so overwhelmed & depressed, I couldn’t face blogging about it.  And then so much time had passed & so much had happened that I couldn’t figure out where to even begin blogging about it.  Which is a shame, because this probably would have been really interesting to read about in real time.

So, here we are… trying to fill in the gaps.

Way back in the beginning of April, Moon turned up with a very swollen, very hot left knee, with a small scrape in the middle of it.  She wasn’t lame, though she wasn’t terribly thrilled about anyone mashing on it.  From my initial description over the phone, Vet thought it was cellulitis, but amended her diagnosis to “looks like she got it caught in something” once she actually saw her.

After a few days of twice daily SMZ’s (just in case there was some cellulitis going on), cold hosing, & epsom salts poultices, the heat was gone, swelling was much reduced, & she no longer seemed to care if you mashed on it.  Have you ever used epsom salts poultice?  I hadn’t, but Vet suggested it.  It’s like a neon green, wintergreen-scented rubber cement/Floam hybrid.  Utterly bizarre to work with.  I’m still not certain if I was applying too little or too much.

Vet said that since Moon wasn’t lame, I should go ahead & ride her.  Circulation is good for swelling, don’tcha know!

Did about half an hour of walk/trot in the arena & she seemed fine.  So a couple of days later (still with daily cold hosing & poulticing), we tried hitting the trail.  Got a little over a mile away from the barn & I thought Moon felt a little bit funny, but I couldn’t tell if she really was off, or if I was just being paranoid.  Friend who was riding with us didn’t see anything amiss. We kept going, and around mile two it became obvious that Moon was not a happy camper.

Fantastic.  What’s worse than having to hike two miles back to the barn because your horse has pulled up lame?  Doing that Walk of Shame through a semi-ritzy equestrian community.  I’m sure nobody was actually pointing & whispering behind their victorian hand fans at the asshole leading her lame horse through the neighborhood, but that’s what I was imagining during the long trudge home.  Another friend of mine put a nice spin on it: “could be worse.  You could be the asshole riding your lame horse through the neighborhood!”