Monday, December 11, 2017

No Good, Very Bad Friday

I don't typically come on here just to complain about my bad days. However, the events of last Friday are the kind I think many of you will find relatable, hopefully they don't stress you out as much as they did me!

My very bad Friday actually started on back on Thanksgiving Day, when I noticed that Lyra had broken her left top canine. She'd been acting subdued for the whole week, but I couldn't figure out why. Seeing her tooth broken off, her strange behavior became very clear.
A vet visit the next week confirmed my suspicions, the tooth was broken in such a way that it would need to come out. Tooth infections (especially in canine teeth where the root is extremely deep) are nothing to joke around with. The blood barrier is very easy to breech there, and infections can quickly turn septic or get to the brain. (Consider this a PSA to make sure you and your animals go to the dentist regularly.)

So, Friday morning found me dropping Lyra off at the vet for what should be a fairly minor surgery. The vet tech dragged her off (she hates the vet), leaving me standing in the lobby with her leash and collar in my hand. Is there a more heartbreaking way to start your day?
Seriously. A collar without a dog just makes me really sad. Especially this year.
From the vet I went back to the office. I was told Lyra would be ready for pick up sometime after 3:30 pm. While I was concerned because of the generic risks of anesthesia, I figured she'd be okay. However, I was waiting on a call from the barn manager at Pig's barn.
Oh. Hai. I don't feel well either.
See, Pig had not been feeling well on Thursday night. He presented with a slew of strange symptoms (acting depressed, standing alone, moving slowly, breathing hard over minimal movement, lack of confidence or interest). When I grabbed him out of the field to give him his grain, he wasn't interested in the food. Instead he picked at the grass nearby and tried to just slowly meander back to his pasture.

I checked him for colic signs, but the horse hasn't really colicked while I have owned him. I don't really know what he would do in case of a colic. His heart rate was normal, however. So I didn't think he was really in pain. He drank a ton of water and passed some manure, so I figured he just had a bit of an upset stomach from gorging himself on the new hay bales. I asked the barn to give me an update, left him to see if he'd recover his spirits.
No food, lady. Don't feel good.
Friday afternoon, as I was expecting Lyra's vet to call and tell me she was done, I instead got a call from Pig's barn. He was hot when they went to blanket him, and seemed to be running a fever of 104! They called my vet, who suggested they give banamine ASAP to bring that fever down while they rushed out to see him.

Now I had a dilemma. The vet is 20 minutes from Pig's barn. They're both 35 minutes from work. I was at work. I would need to be in both places. Add to that getting to both was decidedly NOT reverse commuting in DC traffic on a Friday night when snow could fall at literally any moment. Stress levels multiplied.
Here's a cute photo of Lyra pre-surgery to help us all bring down our blood pressures.
I called Lyra's vet, concerned they hadn't alerted me to her being done yet. The receptionist told me she wouldn't be ready for pick up until 6. That bit of news allowed me to head straight to Pig's barn to meet the vet.

When I arrived, Pig had just broken his fever. He was covered in dried sweat, but seemed much more comfortable than the night before.
Very interested in grazing and seeming quite comfortable, even with his chest covered in dried sweat.
When the vet arrived, he went over him carefully and pulled blood to run tests. However, we quickly ruled most things out. The diagnosis of anaplasmosis was handed down, and we began IV antibiotics immediately. Banamine and more antibiotics were prescribed to follow up over the course of the week to keep the fever from returning and ensure a quick recovery.
I feel much better now, kthnx. Go away now.
With drugs on board, Pig scarfed up his grain (even with 22 antibiotic capsules in it) and regained cheerfulness and his typical incorrigible behavior with every minute. I tossed a sheet on him to protect him from the overnight wind, falling temps, and possible snow. Then dumped him back outside, with my vet's blessing.

Then, I jumped in the car to rush to pick up Lyra... which started a whole 'nother saga.
The most pathetic tooth extraction patient.
I expected Lyra to be a mess after surgery. It's been my experience with huskies that they tend to... talk after sedation. Imagine your dog telling you a long incoherent story where they keep getting lost and starting over, which makes them frustrated. Imagine this constantly for around 12 hours... starting with the 45 minute car ride home.
The squeaking actually doesn't bother me at all, and it usually subsides if you can keep in contact with the dog. Still, we had some hilarious moments on Friday night as Lyra tried hard to tell me about all the horrible things she'd been through that day...
The poor little dog and I cuddled together on the couch, where we both promptly fell asleep. Apparently it had been a long day.
By Saturday morning, Lyra's face had swelled up massively. I was beginning to worry about the amount of swelling, and the fact that I couldn't get it to go down. She seemed to be in pain some, but otherwise not too bothered.
Look at that snout!!
I called the vet and made arrangements to bring her in, braving DC drivers in the falling snow to get her there. The vet wasn't worried, but did tell me to watch for signs of a sinus fistula. Whatever those are? We headed off to check on Pig and ride Bast, while the snow continued to fall.
Someone is feeling much better!
Pig seemed much improved! In fact, he seemed a bit cold. I tossed his medium on him, and put together a big meal of ration balancer mixed with alfalfa pellets. I'm worried he'll start to lose weight with the the cold, stress, and sickness. I ended up picking up some cocosoya oil for his feed, too. Hopefully with just a little more attention to his diet, I can keep him looking plump through this rough patch.
Lyra looks out over the front part of Pig's snowy pasture.
Lyra seemed perkier in the snow, where she was paying less attention to her mouth pain. We ended up wrapping up the night and heading home late, giving the roads time to clear. We fell into bed exhausted, but that unfortunately didn't last.
"I can't help my issues. At least I'm cute?"
Around 3am, Lyra woke me up with licking. She was licking anything, and everything. The air, her paws, the shaved bit on her front leg, the bed. It didn't matter. She was licking it.

Her swelling was down, but she seemed much more uncomfortable. She didn't want to lay down, and she groaned when she had to rest her head. The licking seemed to be an attempt to rid herself of a bad taste in her mouth. I started to worry about sinus drainage or an infection, so back to the vet we went again.
Here we go again...
This time the vet was more concerned. Apparently the incision site was much more inflamed looking than it should be. I was sent home with antibiotics and stronger pain meds for the little dear.

Lyra and I split a bowl of soup at Panera so she could get her antibiotics right away, and not throw them back up. They actually seemed to be working by the end of the day, as her swelling kept going down and down. Plus, her comfort seemed improved and she wasn't licking quite as much... until we got home.
Yeah, it's cone-time guys.
I ended up having to put her cone on when I wasn't able to get after her about licking her legs. I loaded her up with her meds, too. They seemed to knock her back a bit. She's definitely pathetic, but I think the antibiotics will keep everything clearing up quickly.

Fingers crossed both my sick animals keep improving. This is a crazy busy week at work that I'm already starting behind, and I can't keep running out of the office to emergency calls and vet visits. Turns out life is really hard when you're the only one who can be out there, and you need to be in two places at once. I'm hoping I can keep my focus at work when I need it, not on my pathetic creatures at home!

Here's to improved health across the board!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

On Settling In and Happiness: A Pig Update Continues

His Royal Majesty surveying the new digs.
Pig's moving day dawned bright and warm. I was thankful, as no one likes doing new herd introductions in the cold and wet. Plus, juggling blanketing on top of transitioning back to full field board is no ones idea of simple.

Pig was loaded into the trailer and on his way quickly.
Pig sitting on the butt bar with his tail hanging out of the trailer, as per usual.
He arrived at the new place completely soaked through with sweat (I'm so glad I spent all that time carefully bathing him the day before). However, he looked right to me to tell him where to go and what to do, as if we were at a show. That gave me some heart. My beloved gentleman was still in there, ready to come back out and blossom again.
Totally drenched and on high alert. I'm so glad I never expected this horse to ever travel well on a trailer in his entire life. That would have been a disappointment.
We spent some time familiarizing Pig with the property and the edges of his new turnout field. I didn't expect any bad behavior out of him in this new place, and he lived up to my expectations.
"So this is the arena. Nice." -- Pig
Gradually we began to introduce him to his pasture mates over the fence. There was the expected squealing from Pig, but overall things seemed quite civilized.
"Who. Are. Youuu?"
Finally, I convinced the barn manager that Pig would be just fine if we tossed him out in the field. He's been introduced to so many field board situations since I've owned him. I know him to be very smart about introductions and highly concerned with his own self preservation. Plus, he's large and quite fast. I have very few actual concerns about him.
As it happens, I know my horse. Pig calmly and meekly met every horse who presented itself to him, but refused to give ground to any bullies trying to run him off or to allow himself to be goaded into a fight. The others quickly lost interest in him, and he stuck to the outskirts of the herd, as he normally does when new.
Pig, chilling out all by himself in the front 3rd of his enormous new home. (Also pictured: An enormous people home. DC suburbs are ridiculous.)
As the day went on, he gradually met more of the herd. Like this ancient arab/welsh pony...
Mutual old man respect.
And this gelding who wanted very much to be his friend...
This incredibly poofy and tiny halflinger...
"I am unsure of this extremely small chestnut ball of puff." -- Pig
And this fairly new to the pasture Arabian, who was desperate for a play mate...
"Hey! Play with me!!"
Eventually Pig was surrounded by a group of horses who found him non-threatening enough to be included in their grazing posse.
"These are my new friends, yes?"
I think herd dynamics are incredibly interesting to watch, so I stayed glued to the field most of the day. Eventually I did pry myself away, content that Pig was settled enough to be okay overnight. The next day, I pulled in excited to see how he was liking the place. I needn't have worried.
Matching game still on point. ❤
Pig greeted me with cheerful ears and thrust his head into my hands immediately. It was almost as if the anguish of the last few months was being erased minute by minute. Immediately I knew this was turning out to be a good fit.
The barn is old and small, but functional and safe.
I groomed, fed, and cuddled him. Letting him explore his new barn area in the growing dark. Then I tossed him back out, vowing to make time to ride him on my next visit.
Apples always appreciated.
The next night he was more integrated with the herd, no longer standing completely alone. He was still off mostly by himself, but had a grazing companion standing fairly near. I pulled him out and gave him a quick groom while he ate his small bit of grain. Then I tossed a bridle on him and we headed off to explore the lighted outdoor ring.
God I miss these chestnut ears.
While slightly spooky and incredibly stiff, Pig was a good boy for his first ride at the new place. I pushed him a bit to see how out of shape he really is, and where he needs extra work to stay strong and limber. However, he handled everything with grace.
That face!
By Friday he was more settled than I'd ever seen him in a new place. I caught him lying down napping, something it will often take him weeks to do in a new field. He continues to be happy and his more snuggly and curious nature seem to be coming back quickly.
"Hey lady! What did you bring me today?"
Part of my Black Friday shopping included a bareback pad for Pig. I don't have the funds to buy a new saddle just for my retired old man, but I figured a pad would give me a little extra security on rides. The old man can still have moments of sass, after all.
Uh. Can anyone say "needs a girth extender"?
However, I seem to have underestimated the growing girth size of my old man. The pad barely fits around him, and is on the last hole on both sides. I think it will work, but I'm considering finding a different option for him. In a few test runs, it does provide me with extra stability. So at least it's working there.
Regal AF
We've been getting some looks with him all decked out in a double bridle and a bareback pad, but at this point I'm pretty used to those. I'm working on reassembling his old frankensnaffle to use with his bradoon, but don't feel rushed to pull that together yet.
Another view of the picturesque barn.
We did manage to get a bit more exploring done this weekend, heading out on one of the nearby trails with Lyra. Once I get more comfortable with the pad (And Pig puts on some more fitness as he is woefully out of shape), we'll start going on the longer jaunts available to us. I'm excited to check out one trail in particular. It's rumored to lead to a very lovely overlook of the nearby Potomac River. I'm hoping to get some good photos out there!
So far, Pig and I both couldn't be happier with the place. Cheers to a long and happy time here!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

On Rejection and Moving: A Pig Update

At the end of October, the therapy barn let me know Pig wasn't going to work out in the program. Over the month, our worst fears about his suitability had come to pass. His spookiness was only getting worse, not better. Worse still, the staff didn't think he was enjoying the work or the people. The decision was made to remove him from the program and relocate him to a full retirement home.
"Get me outta his place!"
A large part of me expected this outcome. Since I've owned him, Pig has always proved himself to be a one person horse with a... quirky personality. It took months after I brought him home before he trusted me enough to go on hacks or exploratory hand walks. The number of times he spooked at something and almost knocked my teeth out in those early days cannot be counted. Eventually, he opened up and really bonded with me, but that relationship had limits.
It took so much time, effort, and tears to forge his bond.
Others were still viewed with suspicion by Pig. While he maintained his manners when being handled by them, he was coldly indifferent. Never cuddly to anyone, it took me years before I appreciated the small gestures of affection he allowed me alone. I have always described him as the consummate professional. He embodies the Victorian ideal of relationships, making sure to always keep PDA to a minimum. That said, over our time together he had become very warm and loving, at least with me. Gradually, he had begun expanding that warmth to others he met.
"God, human, why are you so weird?"
I have always trusted other's safety with him implicitly, but have been very protective of his emotional safety with others. Knowing his distrustful nature, it's only been in the last two years that he has been able to be ridden by others without taking it out on me when I hop back on him. (Seriously. This horse can hold a grudge. I once popped him in the mouth in response to him biting me, and he greeted me at the stall door by turning his butt to me for a week.) He's been so confident with others, I've even been letting others ride him when I have been out of town, something I'd never done in all the years I owned him.
He apparently immediately bonded with this construction cone, though. They were insta-besties, and the barn manager reported he often tried to carry it with him into his stall.
I had hoped this and the easy work at the therapy place would allow him to mentally deal with multiple handlers, but it seems that was not the case. On top of being upset with too many people handling him, Pig also seemed very depressed by the lack of 24/7 turnout and busy barn aisle. He's a very serious professional horse who requires just the right atmosphere to do his job and quiet time to recuperate. Apparently without this everything is terrifying.
Because we all love it when our 16h horse grows another 9ft and spooks violently... sigh. At least he's pretty? (Also, yes. I swear to god he's only 16h.)
During the few weeks it took me to find him a new home, Pig became very depressed. It was so hard to see him moping in his stall. Every day his behavior was regressing, and he seemed to be losing his trust in me. Grooming him was impossible, as he would pace and fret. Taking him out of the stall for walks was to take your life in your hands, as he was completely feral and terrified of everything. The biggest stab in the heart for me was his complete refusal to let me touch his face, nose or ears.
"This is not okay, Lady"
Again, when I bought Pig, he was very much like this, and I wasn't allowed to come anywhere near his ears. Over the years, ear kisses and face hugs have become one of the ways he and I have shown each other affection. To once again be unable to touch his ears without a complete meltdown felt like losing the connection we had built. It hurt.
Me trying to re-familiarize him with ear caresses while still at the therapy barn. The results were... mixed.
Finally I found the perfect barn for Pig. It was nearby (actually closer to the city than where Bast is) and surprisingly affordable. The whole place is basically set up as a retirement facility, and Pig would get to be out all the time with almost no one handling him but me. I made arrangements, and let the therapy place know when he would be leaving.
Freshly bathed to take advantage of our last access to a wash stall.
Realizing I didn't have much in the way of multiple grooming or first aid kits, I worked on assembling those things. Thankfully moving your horse over Thanksgiving weekend means you can take advantage of Black Friday deals to stock your second barn trunk. I also bought a store of grain, as the new place does not provide and I would have to take care of all feeding myself.
One last stroll on the trails we've called home these last few years.
When the day came, I was looking very forward to giving Pig a new lease on life. I hoped he could find some peace and happiness, and begin to learn to enjoy his retirement.
Being happy is literally his only job now, and I want to help him get there any way I can.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Eponia Bridle For Sale!

I've hinted at this several times, but it's finally time to publicly admit and let go. That's right, Pig's beautiful basically new Eponia Gatsby bridle does not fit Bast. And so, I am offering it up for sale. (NOTE: BRIDLE IS NOW SOLD. Thanks to everyone for your interest!)
Fit this old man like a dream, though.
As you remember, I reviewed this bridle favorably over the summer. I loved it, and found it very flattering on Pig. It ended up breaking in really well, and I was heartbroken when it didn't appear to fit Bast.
Seriously not a great look.
While the bridle itself looked good on him, the fit of the full size was atrocious on Bast's wee little head. Just like the rest of him, his head is pretty much large pony sized. The caveson that fit Pig so beautifully was comically huge on poor Bast.

So obviously I did the only thing I could do... I bought Bast his very own Gatsby bridle in cob size. And? It's perfect.
Seriously, a brilliant fit right out of the bag. He gets so many compliments.
In fact, I can't get enough of his face in this pretty thing... Plus, the flash attachment has been oh-so-useful for Sir Learning About Contact.
So, are you sold on this bridle? Want one of your own? Now is your chance, and I'm offering Pig's barely used full size for sale at a blogger special price (in other words, cheaper than I have it listed on Facebook).


This beauty here could be yours.
Eponia Gatsby Bridle in black with black padding and silver buckles
Size: Full (fits most thoroughbred - warmblood types, is very adjustable)
Included: Flash attachment, rubber/web reins, champagne crystal browband, and original bag
Price: $165 + shipping SOLD
Bridle features well padded anatomical monocrown, as is all the rage these days.
Flash can be completely removed, or attached inside or outside of the caveson, giving you complete customization.
Interested? Comment or email me at [cheerful chestnut at gmail dot com]