Sunday, January 29, 2012

What Do Winter Working Students Wear?

Getting past my fear of faltering physically (I know expectations will be reasonable, but this will be quite an activity increase) my biggest fear is cold feet. I hate cold feet and I always seem to have them. Uggs were great when I discovered them, but they won't do for cleaning stalls and temperatures that go up and down as they have been this winter (cold AND wet). I'm thinking Bogs. Everyone here is wearing them. Are they popular in your areas too? Are they as warm as people say? They are supposed to be rated to -40 and waterproof as well. Any other suggestions?
Now, moving on up. What do you wear to work, and then ride? Do you start with long johns, then breeches, with insulated over-alls if it's really cold? Maybe the insulated riding pants with side zippers to slip in and out of easily (I have a similar pair with matching jacket but only ride in them if I'm outside and it's really cold)? Overkill?
Jackets I think I have covered - every length and fit, down filled, vests,... and lots of long sleeve T's and turtle necks.
Gloves? I have insulated deer hide that I'll probably wear, but maybe I need something warmer. And I must remember hats and scarves.

So those are my questions and I'm dead serious. I know how to dress for winter riding, and how to dress to look after our two or three horses, but hours in the barn will be different. If you have suggestions please pass them along. This is my first lesson for my own place! Hey, I can probably claim new purchases as a work expense!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Guess What I'm Becoming For February?

The world's oldest working student! I haven't written about our horse facility plans for awhile, but things are progressing. To help prepare me for running our facility I'm going to work for Sue Fraser, the woman Rogo and I are taking lessons from this winter. She is very well educated and experienced and this is a great opportunity to work with someone respected around the Province (and well beyond) for her horsemanship. I'll learn first hand how a busy barn operates for a full month's cycle. I'll also have lessons most week days if I can physically last through work and riding.
This is the part that scares me. After one lesson with Sue I'm ready to sleep by the time I get home. I think the first week at least will almost kill me be tough, but Sue knows I'm not twenty :) 
I'll live there through the week and possibly some weekends for the month of February (I have a pretty bedroom looking out at the barn) and immerse myself in this. It should make for some interesting posts if I'm not too tired to type.
Doug's been clearing land and the winter has been so open he has the site for the arena almost cleared and levelled. Here he is in his Christmas Carharts beside a big pine he recently cut up:

On a completely different topic, I went to the barn today to visit Rogo, and..... he was shockingly well. I forgot to take my phone into the stable and it was so icy I didn't go back for it, but I sure wish I had a picture to show you. The incision site looked so good it was almost miraculous compared to how it looked last week. It is completely healed, for the first time since the first surgery was done back in Oct. - no scabs, no weeping blood, no puss. It sort of healed after the first surgery but always looked kind of red and scabby and then another sarcoid grew out of it. Today it was nice pink flesh - one of the best sights I've ever seen in my life. I spontaneously started yelling YEAH! when I saw it and ran into the riding ring to tell everyone who was there, whether they wanted to know or not :) 
My final note is about Spirit, the school horse I've been riding while Rogo's been off. He is a five year old Hanoverian Quarter Horse cross (I think) and he is sweet and very fun to ride. He's better trained than Rogo although a year younger and I can focus more on my equitation when I'm riding him. I'm very remiss in not having a picture of him, but he's chestnut, cute as a button, 16+ hands and I'll post a picture soon. 
We work on trot serpentines, leg yield, 10 M circles, shoulder in and more basics. I'm learning to keep my knees off, but that is putting weight into the ball of my foot and I can't take that with my right foot. I see a trip to the chiropractor in my near future.
I hope to have more news on our horse facility soon. Things are starting to happen on that front.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Quick Rogo Update

First, I want to thank everyone for the comforting comments on my last post. They really make a difference and I think all of the positive thoughts and prayers are working. The incision area is looking quite a bit better. Here is a picture I took today:

January 22
Compared to:
January 17

You can see there's quite an improvement. Even though the Jan. 17th picture is more of a close up (it's hard to get a good shot between his front legs with a phone) it's obviously closing and not growing. Yeah!
The vet saw him on Thur., took a sample to biopsy again and left me with cleansing solution and an antibiotic cortisone cream to apply twice daily. The wonderful young women working in the barn at Fraser Equestrian Center are playing a big part in his healing too. Rogo's stall has a thick bed of peat, then amazingly thick bed of straw, and they clean the wound and apply the ointment twice a day. Jessica even lent me her 'donut' (?) to put around his left hoof to keep it away from the wound. We aren't out of the woods, but the trees are thinning.
This week I'll have lessons on a school horse and if things continue to improve with Rogo I'll be back on him in a week or two.  A few days ago I wondered if I'd ever ride him again (the growth touches the girth area). Thanks for reading. More interesting posts to come soon I hope!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Well This Sucks

Today was the big day to go back to riding - I religiously followed the vets instructions not to ride for two weeks. 
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Late last Thursday I got the biopsy results - the most recent growth wasn't proud flesh it was the return, very quickly, of the sarcoid. That left me reeling to be honest, even though I knew it was a likely result. I was hopeful too though. The surgery site was looking really good all along, better than the first time. It was clean and dry, just a little seam in his skin. I continued waiting patiently for the appointed day, then went to the barn today to resume our lessons and training. (As an aside, I had expected because of lack of room at the barn to have to take Rogo home the end of Dec., but an opening came up so we were able to stay and continue out three times a week lessons - huge for us.)
I got my tack and grooming tools from the tack room, got my riding boots on, put Rogo in the cross ties, took off his blanket, looked at the surgery site - and my heart dropped. A large piece of skin, about 1.5 in. in diameter, had broken away from covering the surgery site and under it was angry, bubbled, bleeding flesh. This looks much, much worse and much, much bigger than before the surgery two weeks ago. This is what it looks like:

Rogo had antibiotics for five days after surgery and in addition to really deeply bedded straw the barn owner had her working students add a layer of peat under the straw, to keep pressure off of the wound. They watched it when I wasn't there and I'm told it continued to look good.
The vet is coming Thur. morning. The dry, fairly quiet kind of sarcoid Rogo had can sometimes turn into the angry, aggressive kind if they are disturbed. The vet tells me this may be what happened, or it may be that the skin broke down.
I can't really think right now. I'm blind sided. I had no idea this could even happen so fast. When the surgery was done I thought two weeks off was being generous for a small incision. Now I don't see riding in the near future. The last lesson we had, a couple of hours before the surgery, was our best ever. It didn't cross my mind that it was our last for awhile...
Readers have been very kind and helpful. More on that later.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Damn, Damn, Damn

I don't know where to start, so I'll just plunge in. Rogo's sarcoid didn't really heal completely after the surgery. One little spot stayed kind of scabby, and then started growing, fast. I called the vet who said it would be very unusual for it to come back that fast, but I had him come and look at it. He immediately did surgery again (this past Tues.), removing the growth, and Rogo's off work for a couple of weeks again. The growth he removed is being biopsied. The vet said it may be proud flesh, so my fingers are crossed. A knowledgeable person at the barn told me it looked and acted like a sarcoid, not proud flesh (it was 'pebbly', had sensation in it and couldn't be easily detached from him), but both she and the vet told me it's hard to tell. It all happened so fast that I didn't have time to talk to the vet about options if it isn't proud flesh and the sarcoid has returned. Guess I'll cross that bridge if I come to it...
I think I did a really good job (for me) of thinking positive and not obsessing about it up until this happened, but this sucks. It's giving me night mares. It keeps me from sleeping. Oddly, I found myself really angry the night after the surgery. I didn't even know where it came from. I was cleaning stalls for the horses at home and felt myself getting angrier and angrier and wondering what I was angry about. Then I realized I was angry about the sarcoid. But with who? Rogo? Me? The vet? God? Didn't make sense. Doesn't have to. No one likes to see their sweet horse cut up and bleeding. Okay, that's my venting. There's good stuff too.
The vet was in the afternoon. In the morning on Tues. I had my best lesson since getting to Sue's. Rogo was forward but calmer. All traces of the 'canter rebellion' were gone as quickly as they had come. We did lots of 10 M trot circles, transitioning to walk on the circles and back to trot, circling three times on each long side. We're getting better at it and it's excellent for the horse and rider to develop feel for balanced gaits and aids. When I asked for canter, instead of the semi-gallop, semi out of control gait I'd been getting for a month and a half I got a calm, focused, steerable and lovely canter. Yeah!
The time before that when I rode he had the first bucking fit he's ever had in his life with a rider aboard. As soon as my feet were in the stirrups he started bucking and crow hopping all over the top end of the arena. I'm amazed I stayed on. Everyone including me thought something was wrong, i.e. a twisted girth or a strap tickling some where. People were yelling "get off him, get off him". Well, if I could stop and get off I wouldn't have a problem would I? :) I eventually got him to a stand still and my friend Alison who was standing there courageously held him while I got off to see what was wrong. I couldn't see anything so I lunged him. There was nothing wrong. Sue showed up just then and confirmed he was fine, just feeling 'high as a kite' from being inside for a day (weather had kept them in). He's been locked in due to weather lots of times, but he's never done more than a half hearted little buck on a rare occasion to object to something new or tell me he was loosing his balance. Bucking wasn't in his vocabulary. They decided to cut his feed and my ride the next day, the one I describe above, was fabulous. I don't think cutting his feed would make a difference that fast. I think it was just that he's feeling much more muscled up now and needs to get out or have exercise. I'll have to remember to lunge if he's been inside due to weather. Does anyone know if cutting the feed could affect him that quickly?
Speaking of feed and energy levels, I've discussed Rogo's nutrition and energy level with the vet on numerous occasions and even had him on a supplement the vet brought in to try to increase his energy. Nothing helped. I think it's just a case of him developing more muscle and energy. I should say though that I've suspected in the past that alfalfa gave him a bit of an energy boost, and Sue mentioned that alfalfa, combined with his new fitness, can give him more energy.
Anyway, I LOVE his new forwardness, so I'll just have to monitor the feed and also lunge as needed.
Yesterday I had my lesson on a lesson horse, Spirit. It's good to ride different horses and Spirit is a nice horse to ride. Forward and responsive. I can do sitting trot better with Spirit than Rogo, so it was good to get the feel for that, and also we did shoulder in, so I was able to get a good feel for that too. Rogo is just starting a bit of shoulder in so maybe we'll work at it at the walk a little when he starts back to work.