Monday, June 9, 2014

Rule #2 of Horse Ownership: Never Plan too Far in Advance

Rule #1 being that it will always cost more than you think!

As the first few warm days of spring arrived, I started my Excel spreadsheet entitled “Rides I Want to Go on This Year.”  The list was lengthy, encompassing my research on State and county parks and horse trails, as well as rides planned by the TROT group.  

We started off so well.  There was our amazing ride at Wye Island.  We went to Little Bennett Park three times.  We enjoyed  rides at Schooley Mill, the Agricultural History Park and North Tract, as well as countless rides at Rachel Carson (RC) Park.  RC is across the road from the farm so it’s an easy ride (except for getting across the two roads between speeding cars).  

Enjoying the wide, flat trails of North Tract

The beautiful meadows at Little Bennett Park
Queenie's least favorite ride--in the water at Wye Island

Today, I saw my plans come to a (thankfully, temporary) screeching halt.  

I knew that Queenie had some arthritis when I adopted her.  I was fine with that because it was love at first sight and because I was quite certain all I wanted to do was enjoy slow, quiet trail rides.  As I gained confidence in my riding and learned about all of the other possible horseback riding adventures, my goals for Queenie and I expanded.   

With the vet's okay, we've been doing 10-12 mile trail rides, mostly at a walk but with some gaiting and cantering (and the very occasional "galleaping").

Lately, Queenie has been tripping more on the trail, particularly when the terrain changes or she is tired. She has also become increasingly reluctant to pick up her left front and rear legs so I can pick her hooves.  I had noticed the same thing during farrier visits.  My normally placid girl would put up some resistance to extending those legs for a trim.  

Everything came to head last week when Queenie kicked out and nailed the farrier when he tried to pick up her left hind leg.  I called the vet and she came out to do x-rays and found that the arthritis was about the same.  In fact, the vet referred to the arthritis as “moderate” for a horse Queenie’s age (almost 20).  

Because Queenie looked slightly lame on the left rear, the vet decided to x-ray the hock as well.  And there she discovered the bigger problem. In addition to arthritis, Queenie has a bone spur in the upper hock.

The bottom line was that daily Previcox was not providing sufficient pain relief.  It was time for injections in both legs. 

As a frequent recipient of spinal injections to relieve back pain, I was reluctant to start down that road with Queenie.  My back injections go something like, “You’ll just feel a little pinch as I put in the numbing medication.”  And my response is always, “Are you f---ing kidding me?  That is no ‘pinch’.”   Okay, I don’t really say the f---ing part to the doctor but I would like to.  The “numbing medicine” is followed by an even more painful steroid shot.  But the results are worth it so I keep 
going back for more.
Source: Washington Post, June 8, 2014

Luckily for Queenie, the vet heavily sedated her for the shots.  (I was jealous!).  The vet had to administer the sedation before she could even shave the injection sites because Queenie is terrified of the clippers.

So Queenie will have a two-week vacation from trail rides to give the injections time to relieve some of her pain.  In the meantime, fellow boarder Deeanne graciously allowed me to ride her Quarter horse, Adobe.  This sweet 14-year spent much of his early years as a rodeo turn back horse.  These horses are used to hold cattle from running to the opposite end of the arena.  Two riders stay between the cow that is being worked and the judges' stands. These are the turnback riders; they turn the cow back to the contestant, if it tries to escape to the far end of the working area.
Cutting horse in action, balanced entirely on hind legs during a very quick shift and turn.
The fast turns and quick stops are hard on the horse's legs
staring down the cow.

Adobe is incredibly well-trained and was such a joy to ride.  Like Queenie, Adobe's early career left him with bone spurs so we enjoyed a slow, leisurely Sunday morning ride through the park near the farm.  As wonderful as Adobe is, however, I miss my girl and I can’t wait until we are back on the trail together.