A Change in Perspective

This was the least negative title I could figure out how to come up with. All of the other ones were very final and probably would have given anyone reading this the wrong impression.

Monday the vet was out to give Scarlet a treatment after he had his farrier visit. She was very happy to hear about his progress. And she saw how he was able to stand more square and shifting his weight well. I showed her the video I posted on Monday of Scarlet wandering around in the arena looking for a place to lay down.

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After seeing that and talking more about how he’s moving, she said that she believes that his nerve issues are coming from a narrowing of his spinal column. She referenced how his balance and coordination got worse when his head was lowered and then he’d recover when lifting it up.

We talked about the fact that that is difficult to even see on an xray. They’d likely need to put dye in in order to see correctly. And that has a fairly high rate of infection and might lead to needing euthanasia.

I asked what she though he could do in the future. She said she wouldn’t want to see him even canter on his own in turnout. If he can get back to going over poles while on the ground and trotting, that would be really good progress. I mentioned that a saddle would pinch the neck area as well and she agreed with me.

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Scarlet is happy and healthy enough like this. I wouldn’t want to pay for an xray when at best it would confirm what we already think. Or it could give me nothing or make him worse.

I’d mostly came to that conclusion on my own given how its taken so long to get to this point. But I’d held out hope. I’d hoped that we’d get back to riding. I’d hoped to do things with my boy again. I’d hoped I’d hoped I’d hoped. But that’s not something that is in our future.

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This hurts so much. This wasn’t how I wanted to retire him. This wasn’t how I wanted these years to go. I lost him for 6 years and I only got 4 of those back before he got hurt. Its not fair. I had so many things planned. I’d just moved three minutes away from the barn.

I’ve been depressed all week. I’m mourning those hopes and Scarlet’s early retirement. I’d love to get a second horse but I have a mortgage payment and other expenses. One horse is all that fits in our budget. I wont even consider putting Scarlet down. He’s healthy other than this.

I’d love to figure out how to fit a second horse in my budget. Its not going to happen with our current income. Its not fair of me to funnel more money into my hobby. We need to have savings for emergencies and our future. So I need to figure out how to get a second income stream coming in. Its not an easy thing with everyone being stuck at home to do. I’m looking into freelance online options. But if anyone knows how to get rich quick, let me know. For now, Scarlet and I rehab and I work on the future.

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Arena Walking and A Date with the Farrier

Tuesday I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get into the back arena for Scarlet to roll. They were grooming the arenas and I wasn’t sure if they were going to be finished by the time we reached there. So I figured it was a good day to attempt to walk in the arena. We did a big circle near the beginning of our walk. It took about 45 seconds. Scarlet didn’t do too bad. No real losses of hind end.

My plan is for us to continue walking a little bit in the arena and for our increases to just be more arena walking. He needs to have something more difficult to walk in so that we can improve. The sand is harder on him since it shifts. But he’s able to recover when he stumbles better than before.

I need to figure out a way to convince my husband to come out with me one morning to video us walking. I can only video when Scarlet is walking on his own. He’s generally meandering or has his head down preparing to roll and it doesn’t show how good he can move at this moment.

It hurts to watch him stumble like this but I have to give myself a kick. He’s walking so much better than he did a few months ago. Yes he stumbles but look he’s recovering well enough. He can still get up and get down. It takes time to recover. We don’t even know if he will recover. I need to make sure to look at this in the most positive light possible.

The farrier visits are nice. My farrier sees him every two months so he can really see changes that are a bit harder to quantify for me. He mentioned that he was concerned about his left hind flaring last time but it didn’t do that this time. That would be a result of walking more balanced. He also commented on how much easier Scarlet has been balancing for the visits. It was definitely hard on him the first couple of visits but this one and the last one have been great.

I’ve got the vet coming out on Monday to give him another treatment so I’m hoping that after that we can see even more improvement. I also have a bunch of thoughts I want to discuss with her about what more can be done for Scarlet and what type of rehab we should be focusing on now that walking is easier. Feeling fairly positive about the future.

Rolling

We have officially reached a goal post! We have gone to the back arena and rolled!

(Please ignore the weird sighs of relief and comments in the video spam coming up. My heart is in my throat still every time he rolls)

So we’ve been able to walk to the back arena and go roll three times this week. A few times the arena was being worked on or occupied and we just did our normal walk.

I’ve  been cautious with our walks when we go roll. The arena sand is much harder for Scarlet to balance on compared to the hard packed ground we’ve been walking on. I wish I had videos of us walking our normal stretch for comparison because these ones look horrible as far as the wobble in his hind. He’s walking almost normal on hard ground.

But not all ground is going to be hard. And if the ultimate goal ends up being getting back to riding (if possible) he will need to be able to walk on sand. Even for the next goals of walking over poles and maybe doing some lunging, he needs to walk on sand. So we have to carefully work our way up in time on sand. So I cut the walk a few minutes short after a roll. We head back the fast way to our stall.

Scarlet seems to be happy to get to roll. He’s pretty okay with our walks overall. He’s stopped being as reluctant to leave the stall. He walks out with only a light tug on the lead. He’s never an ‘enthusiastic’ horse about work unless its the few things he likes doing. Going fast or jumping. He’s enthusiastic there but he just goes with the flow for everything else.

I was hoping to be ready to move on to the next step of a bit of purposeful arena walking now but I ended up hurting my foot by kicking a wall. 0/10 do not recommend. My foot got all swollen and is still a little swollen. Scarlet ended up getting a day off and then two days of shorter walks with roll time. I want to have the full walk and rolling/walking in the arena loose before I move forward and I haven’t gotten to that yet.

My foot is healing and Scarlet seems to be doing quite well with what we are doing now. He has a farrier appointment at the end of next week and hopefully a vet visit the beginning of the week after. Maybe we will get some arena walking in before the farrier. Maybe not. I’m trying not to plan so that I do not rush. I have a vague roadmap but no times attached. We will get there when we get there.

Steady

Not much to report here. Scarlet has been steadily improving. We are walking about 9 minutes now. The whip works. That or it was just time to push him more. Either way, we are able to walk pretty well. He still has issues if I decide to sleep in on the weekend and walk him later in the day. Nothing terrible but he’s much less adept at balancing when its warmer. Why? No clue. But evidence shows he is so I work around that for the most part.

He has been able to increase about every 4 days for something like 3 weeks. We aren’t increasing a ton. Somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute. Its still good progress. He also doesn’t have any visible soreness issues after increasing.

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Monday I’m planning on letting him roll in the back arena. We’ve been walking past it for the last 4 days. I wanted to make sure we could do several days of walking past it before rolling as the sand is definitely going to be harder for him to move in. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed for that.

Once we hit that milestone and can walk fine the next day, I plan on starting to add some sand walking to our schedule. That will be harder on him so we are going to take it a tiny bit at a time. The next milestone after that will either be stepping over a pole or using the balance pad one of the people at the barn loaned me. I haven’t figured out which yet. It will take a while to get there so I’m not too concerned yet.

Rhythms

Not a ton to talk about this week. We’ve fallen into a rhythm. A good one with forward progress. Scarlet’s up to about 8 minutes of walking. I’m continuing to go slow on our increases as I’m terrified that I will push too hard and we will slide backward. The whip is really working though. We have only a few stumbles along our walks. He hardly has any issue with our increases even directly after an increase.

It is nice to feel positive about our situation for a nice chunk of time. I can see improvement. The improvement is at such a rate that I can even see a vague timeline for doing more stuff in the future. Not quite to the level of riding again, but hand walking around the property, trotting on his own, etc. Its much easier to have a better day when I start it off not feeling absolutely depressed about my horse.

The only negative right now is his front right leg and his need to self mutilate if flies even look at a wound. He had a few cuts and then gained a rub and then made everything worse by chewing himself up. I’ve been wrapping it for what feels like weeks at this point. Probably not that long but I didn’t feel like scrolling through texts to friends to see when the first time I complained about it was.

I’ve had to purchase a bunch of gauze and elastikon. I tried a sock but it wasn’t staying in place. He itched through it anyway and still did damage. He itches through his fly boot and then move around enough that he can get right at the skin. So wrapping is the only solution.

I’ve dealt with this during the past summers here in San Diego but never on his pastern. Its a lot harder to wrap a pastern properly and keep it in place than it is to wrap the cannon. I’ve had to rewrap about every two days due to the bandage moving and bunching up. I suspect Scarlet is also not helping by still trying to itch. It is healing though while I’m doing this. So I just have to keep doing it until it is fully healed and he doesn’t try to itch. I’m getting so much practice with bandaging.

Innovation

So on Tuesday, we had a really interesting situation happen. While I was grooming Scarlet, one of the other boarders pulled up their trailer to the tack sheds. We walk past the tack sheds while on our walk. Scarlet locked on to the trailer.

He puffed up and showed off the fact that he is an arab. Snorting, arched neck. The whole shebang. He gets a bit anxious when trailers are out as he thinks we might be getting on one. He doesn’t believe me when I say we aren’t.

What really shocked me was how well he was moving while he was snorting at the trailer. The boarder even commented on it. He JIGGED for about a minute on the way back. I was so shocked. We’ve been struggling with the increases. There was no world in which I imagined that Scarlet would be able to jog.

The fact that he could move so much better when being uber focused on something like a trailer got me to thinking. Why were we having issues with increases? He obviously said he could do more on his own. What could be the cause?

What I came up with was: He’s not moving his body correctly. When doing physical therapy, you have to move correctly in order to regain proper usage of your body. I can’t tell him in words why he needs to use his body as properly as he can. So, I came up with a substitute. I decided to bring my dressage whip on our walks.

Thursday was the first day I tried this theory. My idea was that if I had the whip, I could give him a little tap on his left hip to remind him to shift his weight onto his right hind more. I didn’t necessarily get that shift but he did march forward. While marching, he definitely moved better so if we have to march to get better movement, we march.

Scarlet still has a moment or two of losing his hind end but some of them are starting to look like its because he’s spooking rather than actually loosing balance. But we’re seeing some good progress. Friday we increased again and he seems to be doing well. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can continue to have this sort of improvement for the next few weeks.

Wednesday Writing Wrap-Up

I definitely didn’t manage to keep my goal of writing every day this last week. However, I did double my output. I wrote for TWO days. Baby steps right?

Its a bit difficult to write as I’m worried about my inability to edit the previous stories I’ve written into something that feels like a whole cohesive story to me. I’ve written three novels where I’ve said ‘the end’ but when revising they are… well a hot mess is too kind.

And it could very well be that I’m a bit to harsh on myself. Some of that is likely. But I also cannot see clear motivations, character growth, non-cardboard supporting characters, plot arcs etc. And those things are just as important as a cool super power or fantasy element.

I’ve been trying to figure out a better way to edit as a lot of my editing is just taking the chunks I don’t like and rewriting it. Which works but isn’t the best for productivity. I’m trying to figure out if that’s a problem in my editing process or a problem in my writing. Currently leaning toward the latter as my rewriting is coming mostly from plot problems.

I’m not an outliner. I’ve got a vague path and a few vivid scenes along the way but I don’t outline. I’ve looked at a few methods but they feel off to me. I am thinking I may have to figure out how to plan a better plot arc near the beginning of the process. It’s all a learning game at this point.

Word Count: 691

Two Weeks Out

It’s been two weeks since the vet came out to give Scarlet his acupuncture and equipulse treatment. I’d love to say its been transformative and we’re ready to start doing more things. But that’s unrealistic. However, it has been really good for him. And I’d like to do it again. If not monthly, at least after his next farrier visit.

The good things that have come

  • After farrier visit, he wasn’t nearly as sore as he normally is. That generally sets us back in walking. This time, there were no setbacks.
  • We’ve increased by 2 full minutes since the appointment. That’s basically the whole month previous’ increases. Even if I cannot continue for the rest of the month at this pace, I’m already at 100% of the previous increase
  • Scarlet can balance while his hooves are being picked out without being 100% focused on what I’m doing. I’ve been picking while he has been eating his breakfast and other than a momentary wobble when a hind foot is picked up, its been great.

So as far as walking, things are going great. Its been nice to feel positive about things. But its still hard to not worry myself over how far will we actually get in healing. Will it be just hand walking for forever? Will Scarlet be able to be lunged and that’s it? Will riding in any capacity be something that can happen? I don’t have answers. I try not to even think of the questions but that’s like asking myself to not breathe.

Other than walking, I’ve been trying to deal with a rub/cut on Scarlet’s leg. The back part of his pastern decided to get rubbed pretty badly. Not 100% sure what caused it. I switched his flyboot on that leg to a new one in case the fact that it is misshapen from being pulled on caused it. It doesn’t seem to be getting worse so I’m just monitoring it to see how its going.

So positive but small issues to still be dealt with. We’re going along as we can. I just need to hold onto hope that everything continues positively. 🙂

Wednesday Writing Wrap-up

Its been hard writing for a long time. Part of it was a loss of motivation and part of it was my routine being thrown off. Working from home means that I don’t have to be limited to just writing during lunch. So I haven’t been.

But I’ve been feeling horrible about that lately. I’ve been beating myself up over this. I want to publish. I can’t do that if I don’t write.

So I forced myself to write yesterday. Not much, just going for 250 words. But its something. Its more than what I’ve been doing. I’m going to try to force myself to get the minimum 250 each day. That adds up quickly. I will get there.

Word Count: 266

Feelings

Look at me, trying to get a twice weekly update in.

I’ll admit that I’ve been slacking on the blogging because I just feel blah about the horse stuff lately. Rehab is pretty boring. I go out, feed Scarlet, groom him, walk however many pathetically short minutes we are currently capable of and fin. It’s difficult to come up with something that doesn’t look I’m just rearranging the same words.

But that’s really not an excuse. Blogging is for share, both of events and feelings. And let me tell you, I’ve got a lot of feelings about this situation.

Current feeling is cautiously optimistic. We increased on Tuesday. It ended up being a minute instead of 30 seconds. I wanted to get him a nice turn around spot vs the small pivot points we’ve had previously. It added an extra 30 seconds onto the walk but I think he really appreciates being able to turn smoothly.

I was a bit concerned about it but he seemed to walk just fine that first day. I figured I hadn’t pushed it so far given how good he’d been doing that we’d have to do more than drop back to the previous distance. And it turned out I was right. He did fine. We had a few more stumbles than I normally like to see for after an increase on Wednesday but I think its still within ‘safe’ ranges. He isn’t struggling a lot while walking, only a bit near the end. He has minor losses of hind end control. Overall it went well.

I held my breath on Thursday as sometimes the second day is worse than the day after. But he seemed to be even better than Wednesday. I was really pleased. I don’t know how long he is going to need at this distance before I feel like he can increase again. But if it is less than 14 days, he will have effectively doubled the increases he can actually do. I’m hoping he is good in about a week as that will definitely help my case of the acupuncture and equipulse improving his recovery.

So, feeling cautiously optimistic. I really hope that I can stay that way for a while.