Newness

My barn has decided to put in a full sized dressage arena. On one hand, cool because its always great to have a dressage arena to practice proper circles in. On the other, because it’s full sized, its taking away half of the back parking lot. I’m hoping something is done about that to expand the parking options there as it can get very crowded on the weekend already.

During the construction process, they dug out a lot of the ground where the old arena was. I was really concerned because it looks like a freaking swimming pool. What about water runoff? And I was concerned about how deep the footing was going to need to be to get everything level.

Turns out that’s just a crazy optical illusion from the land around the arena. I spoke with one of the barn ladies who rides dressage. She got the construction workers to show her with their laser level to prove how level it was. Its actually slopped slightly toward where the picture is being taken from. But it looks like that end is so much higher. Crazy!

Too Much Excitement

I was walking Scarlet in the arena on Friday and he tried to sniff the ground like he was looking for a place to roll. I was 100% not going to allow him to do that while I was walking him. So I decided to take him to the back arena for a roll.

I wasn’t able to pull my phone out fast enough to get the whole thing on picture.

He definitely wanted to roll. I wish I’d been able to get the beginning of it in the video. He’s definitely having a bit more trouble bending his hocks to get down. He bent a bit and then just kinda flopped down. He scraped up the point of his hock on his left side. I’ve been noticing that he seemed to be doing that recently but I thought it was due to the bedding getting a bit low. I’d added stuff recently so I was waiting to see how it looked after that.

He’s still able to get up and get down though. I hope that pole work will help him with bending his hocks a bit more but as long as he can get down and get up without seriously injuring himself it should be okay.

I did consider the hock shields but Scarlet really dislikes things on his hind legs. I’d like to see if I can manage them without it. He will pretty much stop moving for a while if fly boots are on his hinds so I imagine he wont like the hock shields much either.

He gave me a heart attack with his romping though. He doesn’t have the balance to be doing that so I was definitely like oh hell no. I do feel bad though. He was so excited to roll. I haven’t taken him to roll in a while. I’ve been afraid to do it. Its not right though. I (literally) apologized to him and said I’ll remember that its not living if you aren’t actually having fun. So I’ll take him to roll more often. I’ll just have to bite my tongue and hope that my heart survives.

Stagnant

Losing the last bit of hope I’d held onto affected me. A lot. I wouldn’t say it would be a clinical diagnosis, but I’ve been depressed. I’ve been going through the motions for a lot of stuff. I was fully present when working with Scarlet though. But things like other hobbies and work were difficult for me. I did take a couple of days off work because I’ve got the PTO and it did help.

Even with the change to my future plans for Scarlet, I still want him to get as much functionality back as possible. So we went ahead with our plans of walking over poles. Its a bit difficult to do on every day as I am at the barn when they are grooming the arenas. Every other day was manageable. Scarlet was a little perturbed the first time we walked over the pole but he never showed any soreness or increased difficulty managing his hind end after we did it.

We had been up to about 12-13 minutes of walking and over a pole once during that walk. Last Monday I’d just about decided that we should try going over a pole twice during a walk. We were heading back to his stall and Scarlet tripped in front (at least, that’s what it looked like. I happened fast so I couldn’t really tell you the moment by moment play here) and went down to his knees. Then he fell further. He rolled and ended up on his back for a second or two. I was trying to keep the lead rope out of his feet and say out of his way. He was able to roll over to his side. He took a moment to figure out where his hind legs were but got back to his feet without too much more trouble that he normally does when rolling.

I was freaking shaking when this was over. He seemed more or less fine. I ran my hands over him. He didn’t have anything more than some hair loss on his knees. He walked fine back to his stall. What I think happened is he was hurrying to get back to his stall and over walked what his feet could keep up with. He tripped and there was a incline on his right hand side. We were close enough to it that when his neck went down and he lost control of his hind legs, he fell with the angle of the ground.

I called my vet afterward to let her know. She said that he will probably be fine if he is able to move without issue. I had bute on hand so she said to give that for a couple of days. If he had any sensitive areas or showed a reluctance to walk, then I’d need to give her a call back.

Scarlet was displeased with the bute paste (he hates the taste) but he never showed any issues. I’m the only one affected. Completely traumatized. it made the depression worse for sure as I had to start thinking about how this would change my decision on when I’d have to say goodbye. If he falls frequently, that would be a reason to say he doesn’t have a good quality of life anymore. L also suggested that I begin thinking about ways to save memories; picture session, keepsakes, special things to do with him while I can. All of it was hard but necessary to think about.

However, between this and the rest of the fed up world, my mental state isn’t what I’d like it to be. I’m trying to claw my way back to relative normalcy but its a process. There are plenty of good things that I’m trying to throw myself into (other hobbies, household projects, getting to ride a friend’s horse several times) but I haven’t managed to shake the shadow yet. Its less opaque but its there.

I’m not even sure what the point of this post is. To purge? To update? A bit of everything likely. So I’ve purged, I’ve updated and now I’m going to go do something fun. Mental health is important y’all. I hope you are doing well or have way to help yourself/get help if you aren’t.

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’veĀ  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