Dolla Dolla (Vet) Billz Yo

So last week we had the vet out to give Frankie his full head-to-toe eval! Here’s what we found:

  • Fixing the saddle fit gets a thumbs up. The spots in his back that were sore before are much improved. I think it’s also likely that the chiro helped.
  • Keep up the carrot stretches. He’s a tall guy, but more importantly he is a LONG guy. Total long brontosaurus neck. He’s not naturally flexible, so we need to help him by encouraging him to stretch. As a side note- Frankie seems to really love his stretches! I don’t even have to use a cookie or anything, I just snap a little where I want his nose, and he comes sniffing around. He gets lots of face scratches as a reward. I thought he would lose interest once I stopped using cookies to bribe him, but he’ll ignore all distractions and even his hay to do his stretches with me. Sweet boy.
  • His SI joint needed some happy juice…like, yesterday. This was a big big ouchie point for him. I’m not super surprised since he got it done last May, so we’re coming up on a year. I think we may switch to a 9mo schedule instead of the full year though, so we don’t get to the point where he’s this sore. Poor guy.
  • The lameness locator picked up just a hint of something in his right hind when he’s traveling to the left (I’m going to ask for more detailed results of this so I can share with you, I think it’s such interesting technology!). This is the same leg that has mild arthritis in his hock- we found that in his pre-purchase exam. While we knew this was likely to just be a progression of that arthritis due to work and age, we decided to go ahead and do an ultrasound to completely rule out any sort of soft tissue injury on that leg. The vet said that his suspensory looked totally fine, so we decided to inject his hocks to keep him more comfortable there. We have a few other ideas just in case this doesn’t get him feeling 100%, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it- the vet is pretty confident that this will do the trick.
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Handsome boy bein’ sweet

I have a lot of feelings about all of this. On the one hand, I’m so so so glad we’re doing all of this BEFORE Frankie takes a bad step. He has been cheerfully coming out of his stall and doing his job without protest, so we didn’t wait until he was demonstratively off. He’s had a quiet schedule since Ohio, so he hasn’t had to work too hard in a while. I’m also INCREDIBLY relieved that we were able to rule out soft tissue injury, and that all he needed was some more aggressive maintenance.

On the other hand, my poor boy has been sore in a couple areas- his back from my saddle not fitting properly anymore, his SI from needing support, and his hocks from the arthritis. The few stops we got in Ohio make more sense now- they were not unreasonable stops and not dirty at all, but you all know it’s very unlike Francis to stop EVER. Between the SI and the hocks, it was probably just too uncomfortable for him to really rock his weight back when I got him to a tough spot.

So there’s definitely a mixture of relief at finding this early while it’s all still very manageable and treatable, guilt at not figuring it out earlier, and more guilt at letting this happen at all. I don’t know how I expected to halt the progress of arthritis, but we’re not always logical when it comes to our horses, right?! This was definitely a useful learning experience on what he needs from me and how often he needs it.

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His face hole is also healing well, so we’ll put his noseband back on shortly. Could he have a sweeter expression??

He’s been on a long-low-stretchy routine lately while we’ve been scanning him, and will be on light work a little while longer as we do this series of injections, but luckily after that we should be cleared for full work! It looks like I’ll need to take a show off the calendar to pay for all this, but that means I’ll have a happy, healthy horse. And with all that bouncy juice running through his veins, I’m guessing I’ll have a happy healthy horse with MAD ups. #blessed

Yet again, I am so so so grateful for my trainers. Assistant Trainer was the one who thought it would be a good idea to get him scanned, she arranged the vet visits and coordinated the whole thing, and kept me in the loop throughout the whole process. Her standards of horsemanship and care are second to none, and Frankie and I are so lucky to work with such a great role model!

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Thoroughbred Francis

What do you get when you have the chiropractor out to make your horse feel good, but then they get stuck in their stall for two days because of the snow?

You get a Francis who is acting like a bona fide TB. No more WB. Just TB.

Now, I don’t mean OMG HE WAS CRAZY AND FAST. Because our barn is full to the gills of TBs and OTTBs, and exactly zero of them are crazy or fast. Including the babies right off the track. Also can you imagine Francis being crazy? Because I can’t (even his foolishness is not crazy).

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Nooo, I is never naughty

But he was very much in the mentality of YOU WANNA PULL I WILL PULL RIGHT BACK LADY. And it wasn’t malicious or cranky, he was just feeling really good and wanted to go do his thang.

He was a very good boy warming up, pushing from behind and quite responsive. A titch fast at the canter- our lengthenings felt a little more lengthy than usual, and our collections felt a little more bouncy than usual too- but he felt nice and bendy and bouncy. All good things.

He bounded over a crossrail a few times to warm up, then we switched directions, and he did his fun root-n-play move around our next course. Meaning I just kinda slipped my reins, kept my leg on, and gave extra big releases over the fences to reward his big effort. Useful to work through together? Yes. AIN’T NO FUN THO.

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“You’re not exactly a barrel of laughs all the time either, lady”

So the next course, I was determined to not pick a fight. I was not going to engage. I was going to stay super duper soft through my hands, keep a steady leg, and a light seat.

And all of a sudden, happy Francis was right there with me, cantering around so softly and turning left like a dang professional.

I got a head toss in the next course when I used too much hand.

And then as soon as I softened at him, he softened right back. Lovely little stride, stepping under, straight through his body. Absolutely delightful.

I think absolutely none of this is groundbreaking stuff for anyone, but it was certainly an adjustment in how I usually have to ride my horse. He’s always been a “more” type of horse- add more leg, take more feel, get in the driving seat. He’s such a chill dude that any urgency has to come from me. So getting to practice that softness without sacrificing the strength was a majorly useful exercise for both of us.

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THROW AWAY THE REINS. BUT NOT LIKE, ALL THE WAY. BUT A LOT OF THE WAY. NOT THAT MUCH. MAYBE MORE THO. IDK.

I’m really happy with how he feels after getting adjusted- the chiro mentioned that he noticed some tightness in his back and pelvis, and he feels noticeably looser and more flexible under saddle now. We’re also working with our saddle fitter to get things 100% perfect on that front (we’re getting closer!), he’ll continue to get chiro semi-regularly, I may look into massage, and our vet is coming out in April to do a full exam and a lameness locator baseline evaluation. He’s going to compare these to his notes from Frankie’s pre-purchase to see what/if any changes have taken place, and we’ll decide from there what strategy we’ll pursue moving forward.

So we’re coming at this wellness thing from several angles, and I’m really excited about it. I want to make sure he’s feeling 100% in every way before asking him to jump into a busy show season, and my trainers are completely on board with that. They’ve agreed that the outcomes of all these measures will determine what our show season looks like- Frankie will tell us what kind of workload he can comfortably support.

On that note, I am incredibly grateful for the team of people that works to keep Frankie feeling his best. My trainers could be making more money off of me by pushing me to compete, but they always put Frankie’s health and happiness above everything else. They’re not just fantastic coaches and trainers, but excellent role models for good horsemanship. Our vet cares so deeply about the horses, and has never tried to throw unnecessary treatments at us. Our farrier is just straight up ridiculously competent. There’s this whole crew of amazingly knowledgeable people working in concert to make sure the horses aren’t just sound, but happy and healthy and enjoying their work.

It looks like our next show is penciled in for the end of May, so I’m excited to spend the next couple months honing in hard on Frankie’s well-being. Add in some hacks around the neighborhood once it warms up, and I think we will have a majorly strong, flexible, happy, goofy, fancy show horse on our hands.

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And the cutest show horse. Always the cutest.

My Fancy Horse

Someone told Francis that he was fancy, and he decided that fancy horses are supposed to be expensive. I was really aiming for that Cinderella-story-we’re-doing-Grand-Prix-on-a-$10-per-month-budget, but alas. It is not meant to be.

First of all, despite going almost 2 years with perfect saddle fit and getting a thumbs up on fit just a few months ago, we have abruptly reached the point of not fitting properly anymore (on the one hand I’m glad he’s so muscle-y, but on the other hand COME ON). Our saddle fitter came out to discuss options and none of them are free. So that’s cool.

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HOW MANY TIMES MUST I GET THIS CUSTOM FITTED TO YOU

Then, homeboy is getting heightened vet care. As mentioned, he’ll be getting a full workup soon to figure out what he needs to be comfortable performing at the higher levels. My guess is going to be at the very least another SI injection, with potentially some other injections as well. Farewell money.

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“FEED ME MORE JOINT JUICE PLS”

I’ve also mentioned massage/chiro. I’ve told Trainer to stick Francis on the list for the next time our person comes out. Fiance gleefully refers to the prospect of massage, chiro, and acupuncture as “Rubs, Cracks, and Pokes.” Plenty of rubs, cracks, and pokes are in Frankie’s future. He thinks I’m going to be the most ridiculous panhandler on the side of the road, with my sign saying, “My horse needs a massage, anything helps, God bless.” I mean, I’m considering it.

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“LADY I’VE EARNED THAT MASSAGE CARTING YOUR BUTT AROUND” PC- A. Frye

CONTINUING ON THE SPEND TRAIN, I switched back into the snaffle when we got back from WEC and oh dear Lord do I hate it. Absolutely loathe. Grabbing a bit identical to AT’s is high on the priority list, he went in that so beautifully.

Along those lines, a figure-8 bridle. That’s what he went in all WEC and I loved it. Hoping I can just get the noseband and not need a whole new bridle? Though at this point it’s kinda like WHATEVER I’LL JUST KEEP THROWING MONEY AT MY TACK.

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Really loved the bit/bridle combo here.

If you need me, I’ll just be frantically rearranging my budget spreadsheet to accommodate my Very Fancy Horse.

Help! Hooves Have Holes

Today I’d like to talk to you all about hooves.

Or more accurately, today I’d like you all to talk to me about hooves.

Addy has pulled enough shoes lately that the bottoms of her hooves are starting to get a little weak and crumbly, and we’re starting to get a few cracks. She is not tender, sore, ouchie, sensitive, or otherwise in any sort of pain that I can determine- and I’ve poked, prodded, scraped, massaged, and gotten all up in her business. She’s super chill, but I’m pretty sure she would’ve given at least a little reaction if something fishy was going on. I’m glad she’s not hurting, but it means that I’d really like to take care of her feet before they reach that point.

I’ve talked to Owner Lady and right now our course of action is to use the super-duper herbal hoof ointment that she has to lock in moisture and keep it from getting any worse (it’s homemade and seriously better than any of the chemical-y stuffs. I’ll see if I can grab the recipe to share with y’all.) until we can get the farrier out to take a closer look later this week. We’re waiting for his professional opinion, but one of the options might be to take off her shoes and let her feet grow back without any nail holes for a couple months. That would be a bit of a bummer since we would have to keep the jumps lower and probably slow or stop showing for a while, but I’d much rather her have healthy strong feet. Shows are just a fun perk.

Healthy strong feet = healthy strong horse = happy horse = happy me. It’s simple math.

So today my question is for you: what have you done when your pony’s feet have started showing signs of weakness? Any home remedies that have worked wonders? Anything diet related?

Seriously, any hoof-related knowledge you may have, please share!

And in case you missed our mugs over the weekend, here is one of the 17,478 selfies I took with my girl yesterday because she was being such a snuggly little cuddlebear.

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It’s not a true horse selfie unless you have glorious pit-stains.