Yesterday brought the first snow storm of the season and we got about 6″, which was perfect for some fun with the horses. This morning while working on chores, Vicki and Alexis disappeared. We discovered them riding bareback on their ponies in the front pasture.
Alex and Amanda finished their chores and spent some time trying to build a snow fort. Mack was helping.
After lunch, we saddled up all 7 horses for a short 4 mile trail ride.
We had a nice relaxing day on the farm with just the right amount of snow! The day ended with a pretty sunset as we did the evening chores.
Our blog has been rather quiet lately because I have been trying to figure out what, it anything, to write about things that have been going on. I finally think I know how I want to say, what I want to say.
We generally try to keep our blog posts focused on the positive things in life, but that leaves out a lot of other things. On Nov 1, we rode in the Ayer Mt Hunter Pace and that was our last post. The aspect of that story that was understated was how bad the ride really was for Misti and I. While not every ride on a horse is the always rewarding, there are only a few that stand out as truly horrible. Ayer Mt was horrible on top of Misti (the rest of the family had a great time). In fact, it was so bad, we were ready to just get rid of Misti and give up on her. We even started down the path of finding her a new home.
However, by Wednesday of that week, we had calmed down and decided to try and figure out some possible medical causes of the situation. Since we already had the vet coming that week, we added Misti to the list of patients to be seen.
In June 2012, Devil had surgery to remove some cancer. Dr. Anne Schwartz of Tri State Equine Surgical Specialists performed the surgery with Dr. Cara Knesser doing to the anesthesia. It had been about 2.5 years since Dr. Schwartz had seen Devil, so we had her out for a follow up. The very good news is Devil is doing great and there are no additional treatments planned for him.
King has been with us for 13 years. At 21 years old, he was starting to show some weakness in his hind end, so we wanted to investigate if joint injections might hell him out. Dr. Schwartz did an exam and concluded, yes, he would probably benefit from hock injections. However, during the exam, she honed in on a number of neurological symptoms that we hadn’t picked up on. After some blood work to confirm her suspicions, it was determined King has both Lyme and EPM. Here is a good reference for any of our friends who want to know more about EPM. King has been started on Marquis to treat the EPM and we are hopeful that he will have a full reversal of all symptoms, as is common in 60-70% of horses. After the EPM is treated (which will likely take 2 months), we will deal with the Lyme treatments. Then the hock injections. King also had an episode of choke recently which got him an after hours visit from Dr. Ennis for a tube down his throat.
And that brings us back to Misti. Anna and I suspected Lyme and ulcers both as possible causes of her behavior. It turns out, we were right. She has both. She is almost done with her 2 weeks of IV oxytetracycline for the Lyme treatment and she was just started on her Gastrogard for the ulcers. Dr. Schwartz used a scope to confirm the ulcers. Dr. Knesser was also present to participate in the procedure (and she just loves to come to our farm).
Since we are already dealing with treating Misti for ulcers, we decided to go ahead and treat Huey too, but went with symptom diagnosis instead of a full scoping. We are going to get past all the treatments for Misti, and then see where we are with behavior issues and figure out the way forward.
As anyone with animals knows, vet bills are not cheap. In fact, we have almost spent more on horse vets this month than the combined purchase price of all our horses. This is why I cringe when people want to own a horse, but can’t afford to purchase one. The purchase price isn’t what you should be worried about.
So all of that information simply brings me to the point on this Thanksgiving Day. I’m not thankful for the vet bills. But I am thankful for a family where everyone agrees, we will treat the horses. There haven’t been any arguments about wasting money or “your hobby” like I know many owners deal with. Horses are a family affair for us. I’m thankful to have the horses at home which greatly simplifies all the treatments. But most of all, I’m thankful for both my Navy job and my hoof care business that allow us to be able to buy the medicine our horses need and pay the vets to treat them.
Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and family. Love what you have.
Our first endurance ride is in 2 weeks. Tomorrow was planned for a good 15ish miles as our last prep ride. Was. This evening when the horses came in, it was discovered that Misti had a little cut on her shoulder. 6 staples and $260 later, I now have a horse that needs 10 days off. Luckily, we don’t leave for the ride until 13 days from now. So, I guess I’ll have A LOT of horse at the ride since she will be in a limited turnout and not riding for the next 10 days.
It looks like I’ll be riding King for a family trail ride tomorrow. While we don’t think this will cause Misti to withdraw from our first ride, I hope Mr. Murphy doesn’t take that as a challenge to cause something worse!
As the endurance training continues, the rides get longer. Today, Anna (on Dakota) and I (on Mistique) knocked out 20 miles in Pachaug. There were no amazing discoveries or insights. No real challenges (other than a couple of new trails we tried that went to nowhere). Because it was the longest ride any of us had ever done, we didn’t push the pace. We planned our route ahead of time and made sure the horses had chances to stop and drink. It was about 56F when we got up this morning, but warmed up to low 80s by the time we finished. We stopped to let the horses drink and munch some grass at 5, 10, and 15 miles.
Our total mileage was 20.75 miles and it took 4:10 for an average speed of 5.0 mph. Once the rests breaks are removed, our average moving speed was 5.3 mph. Anna and I each probably burned about 1400 calories, so overall, a good training day.
As some of you may have seen Anna’s Facebook post on Friday, we celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. We didn’t go out to dinner or do anything special. We are saving our celebration for later this year. Anna and I have decided to ride in a Limited Distance (LD) Endurance race in October. The one we have chosen is in Vermont and is only 30 miles long. Others will be doing 50 miles that day, but we want to start out smaller and try it out. Right now, the plan is Anna will ride Dakota and I will ride Mistique. I’m pretty sure Dakota is already in good enough condition to handle the distance.
To support our plan, we are working to have at least 1 longer ride each week (typically on Sundays since that is the only day Anna and I are both available). Since we will be logging a lot more time in the saddle this year, we decided to try out some different trails in Pachaug today. Anna on Dakota, Alex on Nike, Alexis on Ace, and me on Misti. We were planning for about 10 miles, but we took a few new trails. One of the problems is the trails in Pachaug are not really maintained, so we end up riding the gravel road a lot. That’s rough on the horses and not as much fun. Unfortunately, the trails we tried out today are not the ones we will be using for regular training. We hit some trails that were wicked rocky and there was no going faster than a walk. We also went through a lot of areas where we were hugging the necks of our mounts to avoid having our eyes poked out by the pines branches. I actually had to get off and walk with Misti for a while it was so bad.
In the end, we covered 11.8 miles and it took 2:53! It was a significantly slower pace than our hunter pace speed last weekend, but the trail was much more technical.
What we have learned so far in our endurance training:
1. Dakota can destroy some boots! We ride all the horses with Easy Care Gloves on their front hooves. Dakota tends to over-reach with his hind left, step on the neoprene gaiter, and inflict a mortal wound on the boot. So far, he has proven this ability 3 times this season. All 3 times occurred on the same hill as his speed exceeded 15 mph. Something about his canter and over-reaching. We are going to try him in bell boots to see if that fixes the problem.
2. It’s time for some endurance style stirrups. Both Anna and I will be upgrading to wider, padded stirrups to ease the strain on our knees.
3. Triathlon shorts under riding breeches are much more comfortable than cotton underwear during a 3 hour ride.
4. We need to do a shorter loop of 5-6 miles and then drop the kids at the house with the sitter keeping Amanda before going back out. Alex and Alexis did great today, but they were pretty tired by the end. After Alexis got off, I asked how she felt and she said “My legs are shaking.”
5. There are no shortcuts in Pachaug.
6. Both Anna and I need to drop a few pounds and spend some time running/jogging to be in condition to handle the mileage. Anna is headed off to ice her knees as we type. I’m just going to bed.
Here are a few pictures. Amanda was waiting for us when we got back and insisted on helping me wash Mistique.