Second Treatment

I’m very grateful that I have a husband who understand animals and is supportive of my horse hobby. He was on board with me getting a follow up treatment for Scarlet 2 weeks after the first one, even though its an extra expense for us. It worked out great as Scarlet had a farrier visit on Thursday. It was just as bad, if not worse than the last one.

My farrier does a good job and he listened to me saying Scarlet needed a break. It is just very hard on him. I don’t think it helps that he has little muscling at this point. But we got it done over the course of an hour. I was very nervous about what he would look like the next day balance wise.

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Miffed that I pulled out my phone and not another cookie for him.

Friday he seemed pretty good. It had poured overnight and the ground was super super slippery. I’d been planning on giving him a day off after the shoeing so it worked out well. I could still get to all his feet and do his exercises with him so he seemed to be okay. Less sore than I had expected.

The soreness just came later. Saturday Scarlet was definitely having issues. He was leaning to the side a lot and had difficulties letting me pick his hooves. Sunday was even worse. I couldn’t pick up the left hind, the one he supports himself with, to clean it. We truncated his stretches since he was having issues balancing. It was painful to watch him hobble around his stall. I was very, very worried. I’d talked to the vet on Friday and had an appointment scheduled for Monday morning though. Pretty much as soon as I could manage it after the farrier visit.

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Monday morning lean, which is better than the previous day.

The vet came and did her thing this morning. He actually looked better when I was out there before she came. A bit less unbalanced and I could pick up all his hooves and do his stretches, though it was difficult. He relaxed into his acupuncture and PEMF and was moving better by the time we were done. I’m looking forward to tomorrow to see how he does walking around a bit.

I’d asked last time about balance boards and she did a bit of research into it. She thinks it will be okay if we do the firmest boards and start small and carefully. So I’m going to look into that to see what the cost of the boards would be.

I’m so glad I could get a treatment into him asap after the farrier visit. I just hope that we can slowly work our way back up with walking again. Regaining some muscle would greatly help with these types of problems. But trying to regain the muscle causes soreness problems. Its a delicate balance I’m working with. Luckily, it will be dry for a while so we can go for walks and work our way up from there.

Rain, Rain Go Away

It’s been raining a lot this last week. Its quite frustrating. I can’t get Scarlet out to walk when it’s raining because its too slippery outside his stall. I don’t think the exercise is worth potentially causing him to get injured more by slipping.

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What it looks like when it gets really raining. 

I did manage to get him out for a short walk on Monday. The rain had dried up a bit then and I was able to get him out and walk back and forth on a short dry patch near his stall. He seemed to be enjoying it. It was nice and sunny so I think he was happy with it.

I was able to schedule a vet visit on Thursday. It was pouring intermittently that day so I was concerned about doing anything outside of his stall. The river in front of his stall was there and it was slippery enough that I was slipping. It had been raining all week so I’d warned the vet that we might not be able to do anything more than the acupuncture.

She surprised me by having a long extension cord. So we were able to plug that in to the aisle of Scarlet’s mare motel and do both the acupuncture and PEMF. I was really pleased with that. She told me that his asymmetrical nerve regrowth is normal and that I should expect it. I told her about a recommendation I’d received regarding balance pads and wanted to know what she thought. She hadn’t done much research on them so she noted that and said she’d get back to me.

The day after, it was still too wet to get Scarlet out, though the rain had stopped. He seemed to be a bit more evenly balanced. Still more on the left leg than the right but less so. On Saturday, we got out for a short little walk. He did okay considering there were a lot of tight turns due to our small area to walk. Those load up his legs more and make it difficult for him.

Sunday, it was fairly dry so we got about a 4 minute walk along our normal route. We probably could have gone further as the ground was good but I learned my lesson about pushing past what we should be doing. I got the distance right I think. Scarlet never struggled on our walk. He had a few bobbles on the way back to his stall but he was able to do every part of the walk easier than before. I think he was more balanced overall.

I have another appointment in 2 weeks as it’s easier to cancel than it is to get on the schedule. I do want to keep it and then see if he can go for a while after that. I just need to figure out how that fits into the budget.

Sometimes Plan Don’t Work

Sometimes plans just don’t actually work out. I’d scheduled a vet visit for Thursday and our first BEMER treatment on Friday. But neither of those happened.

The vet had to cancel due to having a lot of emergencies. It happens so I can’t be upset but I definitely was disappointed. I wanted Scarlet to get some treatment from her and I wanted to talk to her about other things that I could do to help with the asymmetrical nerve healing.

I wasn’t sure how that appointment would have gone. Its so soupy that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try taking him out. I was thinking we could at least do the acupuncture in his stall but we wouldn’t be able to get to the outlets for the PEMF. We are supposed to reschedule for next week. I hope that the rain slows down at bit so that the ground solidifies a bit.

The BEMER lad also had to cancel day of. She has a cracked rib and it got strained so she wouldn’t be able to do her treatments. I didn’t find that out until I was already at the barn at our appointment time waiting. It isn’t such an inconvenience for me as it would be for other people but it still was frustrating.

So, two treatment options and none of them worked out. I will be trying to reschedule both of them but I really wanted it to work out sooner so that he could get some assistance asap.

Future Hopes

Scarlet is still doing meh. Its been useful to actually have written records of what I’m actually doing each day. He does okay some days and then bad some other days. We haven’t gotten consistently past 6 minutes. I’ve been able to pinpoint what it looks like is the problem to me.

I believe his nerves are returning asymmetrically in his hind. He can definitely feel his left leg. He rests almost all of his weight on that leg when he is just standing. He can shift his weight onto the right leg for picking his feet. But not for long. And it takes some maneuvering sometimes. When walking, he generally is able to walk using his right hind. He searches for the ground a bit with it but walks out of it.

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The issues happen when he is having a bad day of feeling on his right hind. He overbalances on the left and then tries to catch himself. Which ends up being an awkward scramble sideways where his hind falls out from under him. Its pretty scary to watch and concerning because he sometimes doesn’t have the ability to stop himself.

I have contacted the vet but I’m still waiting to be on the schedule. L gave me the info for a BEMER practitioner. Its similar to PEMF but is much cheaper per session. I don’t know for sure if PEMF is what helps Scarlet or if it is the acupuncture. At $30 bucks, its worth a few tries to see if he reacts well to BEMER. Our first session is on Friday. I plan to be there for it.

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Lina is being a puppy. She’s sleeping a bit better. I think she wakes me up once a night on average. That’s not to terrible in my book. And it is only going to get better from here. She and my husband still aren’t clicking. I think she will be more my dog than his in the long run. She seems to see him more as a toy and a playmate rather than someone who she will obey.

Given their issues, we decided to try a puppy training class for them. We got a recommendation from Carey. There are classes for not fully vaccinated puppies where they take extra care to make sure they are safe. We tried one on Saturday and it… didn’t go so well. Lina is really really shy. And she freaked out and fear peed when she got cornered to be sniffed by a few puppies. The trainer suggested we try the petite and shy class next Saturday. We are definitely doing that. Lina needs a lot of socialization to get over the being super scared. She may never be super outgoing, but I do not want her to stay fearful of other dogs. She is young though, just under 3 months old so she has plenty of time to learn.

Sleep Deprivation

I’m so flipping tired.

I haven’t had a puppy in over 15 years. I’ve also never crate trained. All my previous dogs lived outside with access to my parents’ five acres. So this is an entirely new experience for me.

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She’s stupidly cute though, which makes it easier for me to forgive the sleepless nights.

And it sucks. Lina has yet to consistently sleep for longer than 1.5 hours at a time before needing to go to the bathroom. She came half potty trained by nature. She likes to go outside. She’s only had a couple of accidents in the house and those were mostly our fault. Which is lovely. But she won’t use the puppy pads and this makes nights hard.

It likely wouldn’t be so bad except I’m still training for my half marathon. It is in just under three weeks. I’m running 10+ miles on Sunday and over 25 miles each week. I NEED rest to recover. And I am not getting rest. I’d be tired with either the puppy wakeup calls or the running alone. Combined? I’m dying.

We have turf in our backyard so out of desperation we have bought a small square and put it in the bathroom Lina can access from her sleeping area. We hope that she might decide she can use that during the night. It isn’t ideal but it is temporary until she reaches an age where she can reasonably be expected to hold her bladder. I’ll settle for her only using it occasionally if it means I can get several hour chunks instead of only single hour ones.

On the horse front, Scarlet is okay. After struggling with the setbacks I was talking to a lot of friends to try to figure out what to do. L suggested being very precise in our exercises and documenting them in a notebook. Which is a really smart idea and I’m annoyed it didn’t occur to me earlier. It’s not like I have 30+ blank notebooks sitting around my house. (I totally do.)

So I’ve been keeping track. I can’t say if I’ve really seen any benefit yet except that I know for sure how he did the day before. It has been less than a week so I do not have much data to go off of. But I do feel better about our walks. We are at between 6-7 minutes depending on how speedy Scarlet is walking.

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He is moving fairly well at that distance. Im thinking about adding 30 more seconds to our walk. That is only 1/12 of the shortest time we’ve done our current distance in. I’m hoping that will be a sufficiently small enough increase where it doesn’t cause Scarlet any issue.

Its a lengthy process and I’m running out of ability to actually handle everything. I only have a few more weeks of running so that will be up then. I can’t wait until then. And hopefully I’m put on the schedule for my vet asap. I really hope that will help the issues Scarlet is having. 

Forward and Back, Rinse and Repeat

Rehab is so incredibly frustrating. I hate trying to figure out how to write these posts now that we are pretty exclusively just walking. Especially hate writing them when we take another step backward.

Scarlet had been doing really well most of this week. We had gotten up to about 7-9 minutes of walking. He had nice distinct hoof beats. Not much interfering. He would even march us back to his stall. I was really pleased.

Friday I added about three minutes onto our loop. Saturday we walked a short bit and grazed a lot. Saturday we also were struggling to get back to our stall. We had lots of loss of his hind end. People kept asking if he was alright and if I needed help. I get that it comes from a good place but jesus people. You see me clearly walking a lame horse carefully. Of course he isn’t okay and no I don’t need help. F off. (mostly me being pissy that my horse isn’t fully healthy. I didn’t actually tell them to f off.)

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Emotionally Saturday was ridiculously hard for me to deal with. I should be able to walk Scarlet a few minutes more without this huge setback each time. Sunday could have been worse. He was fine walking for a short walk with only a couple of issues. Its difficult for me to deal with such huge downswings like this.

I got on the schedule for an acupuncture treatment. Unfortunately, the vet doesn’t have any openings until the beginning of March. So we are going to have to continue as we are until then. Unless someone drops an appointment. Always possible. But not something I will bet on.

Reading back, this post looks like I’m looking for sympathy. Really, its not. I don’t have it all that bad. But my problems are still problems for me, so I can’t discount that. This is more a rant to expunge the doubt, fear and frustration. If I keep them in, I will explode. It’s not so bad that I’m going to have a breakdown. But on a bad day, it might be the straw to break my camel’s back. Hopefully not. Hopefully we recover and the treatment helps a lot. I just really want to continue forward.

Exciting News! (Plus Regular Scarlet Update)

Please welcome Lina to the family!

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We got a puppy! Its kinda the whole reason I got a house. I was very insistent that we have a decent yard for puppies and possible future kids. I’d planned on trying to make the puppy happen sooner, but then Scarlet’s neuro issues happened and I couldn’t justify the cost. So I put my puppy wishes on hold.

But about two weeks ago, a friend texted me asking if I needed a free golden/husky mix puppy. Need? No. Want? Hell yeah! Her coworker’s neighbor breeds goldens. She’d gotten a golden from him and its a good dog. He rescued a husky and day one she got loose and happened to be in heat. So he ended up with a litter he wasn’t expecting. So I managed to talk my husband into it, contacted the breeder and set up a date to pick up the puppy.

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We brought her home on Saturday. It was a fair drive from the breeder to our house. She didn’t like the car very much. She rode on our laps the whole drive but was concerned about the noise and corners. Luckily, she fell asleep for a good chunk of it.

Bringing a freshly weaned puppy home is hard. She had a bunch of siblings and half siblings to play with, not to mention a bunch of farm animals as well. So she’s feeling very lonely. Shes pretty cuddlesome so we are keeping her occupied as well as well as we can.

I’d love for her to spend more time out in our backyard. She seems to prefer it, likely because she was raised outside. But it just so happens to be raining. So we go out for pee breaks and spend some time running around out there to exhaust her. But I don’t want to have to dry off a puppy every time she wants to come inside. And she wont spend time out there without me or my husband sitting with her for now. Its only supposed to rain until Monday so she might get more time out there soon.

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Scarlet is doing okay. I’d like to get him another acupuncture visit. Trying to figure out where to get the extra money from. Its been about a month since his last one. He isn’t struggling at the moment, not exactly. He’s definitely lopsided in what he can use of his body though. I’m okay with that to an extent. It’s going to happen due to his nerves just regrowing as they like. But I’d like to get the vet out since we had such a tough time with the farrier.

While I figure out where to come up with the money for that, we are just doing our stretches and walks as normal. We aren’t back up to the full walking distance that we had been. I’ve been busy with my half marathon training which means I have less time in the morning. And I want to make sure that he is fully okay before we take another step up in distance. He’s pretty content though. He gets treats, gets grain, gets groomed and has to do a small bit of exercise. I think he’s pretty comfortable as he is. It’s just a long road ahead.

Forward and Back

Rehab is a frustrating cycle. For the most part, its pretty boring. You just do the same thing you did the day before for a while and then add a tiny bit more of whatever when your horse can handle it. But sometimes, those tiny steps forward don’t work out.

I initially had Scarlet walk over a pole twice. But then he was very sore and having issues with his hind end getting disconnected more often while walking. It went away with a few days of non pole walking. I decided to try just once over the pole. Similar, less extreme result. I probably could have pushed and have him continue to do that. But the losing his hind end is… mildly scary. He pivots around uncontrolled for a bit until he gets his legs back under him. Its not very safe for him and its not super safe for me.

So I decided to step it back with maybe more arena walking as that is slightly harder for him than just walking on the hard ground. He did well with that. I think it was harder for him but an acceptable level. I’m not sure if it is something that is going to prep him for eventually stepping over a pole. I was contemplating whether we should try something else when the latest setback happened.

He got his shoes done last Friday. It was difficult for him. He was having a bad balance day and it was really hard to get his hinds done. The farrier did his best, braced him and sped through it. But it was still really hard.

So Saturday Scarlet was really sore. So sore that he’d swing his hind around because he couldn’t catch himself and he wouldn’t seem to be able to stop. I ended up doing something mildly stupid and helped brace his hind so that he could get it under him. It worked. We had the hardest time walking back to the stall. It was very scary.

I’m positive that it is just soreness making it hard for him to compensate muscle wise for what nerves he is lacking. Its the same reaction that the pole caused, just more extreme. I don’t really have the extra funds to have the vet out for another treatment yet. It hasn’t been more than a couple of weeks since our last one. And he was great on Thursday so I decided we are going to take a step back.

Sunday I went out and groomed him. Then did his stretches inside his stall. Then we exited the stall carefully and did a very slow, gentle three-ish minute walk. Just enough to get him stretching. He loosened up a bit by the end of the walk so I think that was the right choice. He wasn’t really struggling and he was walking a bit better at the end than the beginning.

So we’ve had some more setbacks. And I’m unhappy with it. My horse is struggling and there isn’t any way for me to magically make him better. Sometimes that weighs on me a lot. I’m pretty sure we have a really good chance for getting back to a lot more work, maybe even 100%. But it is long. And it is hard when we go backward.

My plan is to continue with the gentle walks and take the distance based on how Scarlet feels each day. I think he will probably recover by the end of the week. And then I need to be very careful about any increases. Lots of thinking will go into them and I will not hesitate to give Scarlet a gentle walk day if he seems to need it. It’s a process. A long one but we will make it work.

Pole Time!

Scarlet has been doing really well recently. We’ve been able to consistently do our walks with minimal hind end disconnect. He seems to have more of his autonomous nervous system back. He is also depending on it more. Which works until it doesn’t. But mostly it is working.

I decided to time our walk this week. I hadn’t ever been timing them. I’d been gauging them on distance walked so we didn’t just arbitrarily walk around until I felt like he was done. But timing showed me that we’ve been walking more than I thought for a while.

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So yeah, we’ve been doing this particular walk for somewhere on two week. True, he’s gotten better at moving and it has become easier for him as we go along. But we’ve been doing it without issue. I guess he is better than I had thought!

After walking through the arena each day, on Friday I felt like he would be able to do the poles. If he had been super bad on the first walk over, I wouldn’t have asked him to do more. And it was difficult for him to lift his hind for sure. But he did well.

One of the major things I notice with his hind end is that he is short strided and stabby. I’d like to encourage him to lift his legs in a more normal manner. Given how difficult this was, I imagine we are going to plateau at this exercise level for a while. That is okay. He can take whatever time he needs to recover. It’s much easier to say that when I feel like we are on an improving track. I miss riding him like I miss breathing. It’s hard to not do that. But I feel hopeful that we will be able to ride together again. So I will let the rehab go at the pace that is needed. We will get there.

Better And Weirder

I managed to squeeze in a brisk walk Wednesday morning before I had to leave town for a work trip so I only spent the time fretting about Scarlet getting two days off from his exercises rather than three. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he was stiff but not bad when I came back. In fact, he wasn’t even as bad as he was on New Years day. This was very cheering and I was happy that we were able to stay mostly on track with my hoped for gradual level up for him.

I’d also been able to talk with my vet about how to treat him going forward. She suggested one final weekly treatment and then I can go out to anywhere from one to three months based on how he is doing. She suggested keeping this going for a whole year.

Once every three months is really doable. I talked with my husband and he is conditionally on board. He wants to revisit every time scheduling comes up. Which is totally reasonable. We don’t know where Scarlet will be physically in three months and we don’t know where we will be financially in three months. So he is getting one more asap and then the tentative plan is to go to three months-ish and reconsider then.

As for walking, Scarlet has been doing pretty well. The rain is staying away so we’ve been able to walk for weeks consistently. It’s been really great. I can tell that his autonomous nervous system is coming back more and more. It’s hard to see day by day but I can see it from the way he walks. We’ve got some great moments when he is focused on me and walking. And then he gets distracted and tries to depend solely upon his autonomous nerves. And that doesn’t go well. His hind end gets very disconnected and swings around wildly. I really do need his attention when we are walking but I can’t always get it. But he can recover fairly well so I mostly ask him to halt and then he figures it out.

He also has a bit of interference happening in his hind end with his pasterns rubbing against each other. L. offered to let me see if a pair of hind boots she has fit him so I’m going to try those soon.

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Sunday I had hoped to try walking him a bit in the arena. I wanted to increase his walks by distance but I’ve been thinking that the pole work should be starting soon as his hind end is still really stabby. I want to encourage him to lift his hind. So I planned to have him to a large circle in the arena and we will continue until we can do a full lap.

Soft footing is harder on him while walking. He seems to lose control of his hind end quicker. He is pretty weak in his hocks and twists while walking. He was having a bit of those issues early 2019 and I’d been backing him to help improve his hind strength but he lost all of it due to the time off and the neurological issues. Its just something that will have to improve with time. But stepping over poles is a more intense exercise than just shuffling along while walking. I didn’t want to have poles plus soft footing at the same time.

He felt like he was having a few more off moments on Sunday than I’d like for changing the exercise. I decided to play it safe and give him another day before walking him in the arena. We did head to an arena with a gate so I could let him roll. The last couple of times he’s rolled, he hasn’t bothered to walk much more than the necessary feet to get away from the fence before rolling. Sunday, he decided that he needed to circle the entire arena to find the perfect place. It gives me a heart attack to see his hind wiggle like it does when he tries to lay down right now but he is fully loose so I have to let him figure out his balance on his own. He really did enjoy the roll. He feels so good when he gets up that hes tried to run off from standing up several times. Its very awkward looking as he doesn’t move well enough for that yet.

He’s doing well now and I’m super happy with that. I have plans going forward. I have a treatment plan with my vet. It even looks like we are going to have a decent amount of dry still in the future. We are going to be able to build up more muscle. My hope is to get some pole walking by the end of the week but we will see how that goes. No pushing him if he isn’t ready.