Friday, April 22, 2016

where do I go from here?

I get this question asked of me daily, and ask it of myself too...What am I going to do next?

Answer: I have no flipping idea.

What happened to Traveler broke my heart, a freak accident, but I knew I needed to find another partner to continue on with.  Now losing Tesla in a matter of 12 hours to colic gone bad has my heart reeling again, not able to look at pictures of either without crying.  I was already watching every damn branch on the trail and having my heart skip a beat, now how could I deal with not having eyes on a horse 24/7 to know they are OK?

Those damn "what if?" questions running through my mind...Researching and talking with the vets who treated Tesla has reassured me there is nothing I could have done to prevent this, but it doesn't stop you from beating yourself up for having shit luck.  Or for the loss of a young horse who had already been through so much, that you were developing a partnership with, that you had dreams and goals to achieve together...

My life is out of balance... I eat because I have to, and a only at a minimum. I haven't made popcorn all week (and that was my go to evening snack). I love my family, but I am missing that "something" I look forward to doing all week long...I am moving through minutes/hours/days sometimes on autopilot, doing what I know I have to/need to.   I realized I don't give a damn about the weather anymore...I stay up to watch it out of habit, then realize it doesn't matter, I'm not trying to plan barn days anymore.  I have a trailer to bring home and continue to work on making my LQ, but why bother? I don't have anywhere to take it, and don't know when/if I will.

Having only one horse at a time is blessing and a curse... A blessing as I don't have to be faced with the creature I so long to be with right now, but a curse as I don't have another to pour my tears into and give me something to move forward with.

I'm grateful for the support of my family and friends, many who have been through this themselves and know the unfairness of what I am dealing with right now.

I'm ecstatic my daughter's surgery went well, that she is already hearing things either for the first time, or differently than before and asking us about them. It is a whole new world for her and it amazes me how well she compensated on her own without us knowing there was an issue.

But I'm mad.  Mad about where I am supposed to be today/this weekend. We are supposed to be at No Frills, getting our first ride of the 2016 season under out belts, preparing for our first 50 in a few weeks.  Getting miles on the books for my Green bean team.  Enjoying the stress and fun of ride-camp.  Being one with my horse, riding my own ride...

I have to believe that G*d has a greater plan in mind for us...but it is hard as hell to come to terms to with that.

Ride Camp, No Frills 2015

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

dazed and confused

What do I do now?  How do I move on from this?
Why did this happen to me? Why to him?

His goofy self one day, gone the next... AA Knight Moves, Tesla, has crossed over the rainbow bridge to join Traveler.

The weekend started out like planned, Saturday morning karate graduation, Sunday volunteering in the kids area and then heading over to the barn to take Tesla for a last long leg stretch before No Frills. As we were finishing up the kids stuff, I notice a text from the barn owner - Tesla has a low grade fever and won't eat.  My plans change, I stop back at the house first for a few supplies and head to the barn.
Not feeling so hot when I first arrived
My endurance training and "knowing my horse" served me well...we knew what his normal temp should be, HR and gut to check on hydration.  I grabbed my handheld HRM, listened to his gut, checked tenting and gums and called the vet, who would then be out within the hour.  While we waited I just groomed, braided his mane (since now it is getting hot), and loved on him.  Occasionally he would lay down, but not roll.  He passed a small amount of manure and then became a little more "standard" symptomatic, looking at his side, kicking up at stomach, continuing to stretch his head down and out. Still no rolling...

The vet arrives as promised, we discuss as he checks vitals. Fever had increased over the last hour, but still not exceptionally high.  We offer him some grass, which he has no interest, then move to tubing him.  No impaction noted, he was given banamine and bute, and perked up within a few minutes. The vet left with orders to monitor the fever, let him hand graze as long as he wants in the shade, and if he looked ok keep him in a small paddock overnight, no grain. Grass and hay only.  We grazed for a bit, he was noticeably happier and more alert, after about 15 or 20 min he wanted back to the stall for water, a welcome sign.  I left there with his fever continuing to diminish, and him lightly munching hay. The barn owner to follow up on the temp monitoring and keep me in the loop... The vet did not feel he was a critical case and we both thought this would resolve quickly. Blood was drawn to be run in the morning looking for signs of infection, and if none seen moving on to a Lyme test.

Grazing and drinking after treatment

I get home, relieved, have dinner with the family get kids to bed and come out to another text - Tesla is not acting right again. His fever is almost gone, but acting much more colicky; laying down, distressed, head/neck stretching in discomfort when standing.

I called the vet, who happens to live close to our house and we both head out to the barn again.  I arrive to a much different scene than I left.  They took him to the round pen to see if wanted to roll but all he wanted to do was lay down. He is sweating, but no fever.  Minimal gut sounds and has had diarrhea. He got up when coaxed to walk back to the stall for the vet examination; new assessment says we need to move him to the Equine Emergency clinic.  He needs fluids and constant monitoring because he stopped drinking again and his elytes are likely out of whack.  Vet feels he is dealing with some type of intestinal infection, unlikely for a twist, but his best chance is at Blue Ridge.  For some unknown reason when I headed out that night I grabbed the car, not the truck, so the barn owner helped transport Tesla in their stock trailer while I followed along behind.  We left him a box stall to lay down if needed, but I just watched him paw and spin the long drive out.

We arrive at the clinic and he is taken to an isolation stall. That alone is heart wrenching to me. I can't be in there to comfort him - all I can do is watch through the metal grates from outside as he struggles.  His fever is now gone, blood drawn and run, IV in place.  Results: He is leaking protein, WBC is considered "OK", elytes out of wack.  Needs fluids, but he has become painful enough that it would be dangerous to do so.  And then begins the fight to get that pain under control.  I can't describe the helplessness I felt watching him. His eyes meeting mine as he would lay on the bedding trying to get comfortable. I prayed for him to hang on, keep fighting.  Finally we have some relief, but the e-vet warns me that we can't continue down that path too many times.  The more it is used, the more it would adversely effect his recovery.  If his level of pain rises, the best idea would be surgery - and that is something I can't afford, nor holds guarantee that would work if we did.
I left him around 1230am, finally resting and about to be getting fluids.  Asked for many prayers for him to make it through. I couldn't stay with him or I would have not have left his side...My daughter had a surgery scheduled for Monday which needed us there at 630 am.  "Minor" thing for ear tube insertion, but she is my baby and needs me.

I got home ~1am, figuring if I didn't get a call on the drive we'd be OK.

The phone rang at 1:15 and my heart sunk. I went into the hall by the front door and just slid down the wall, listening to her to tell me that his pain is not able to be managed.  What should work for an hour is lasting 15minutes...they had reached the max of the narcotics/opiates that should be used... I gave the go ahead thru tears to euthanize him and end the suffering.  I'm torn apart inside...

So many questions...He was UTD on all his vax, regular worming as vet directed, picking up weight nicely, working well under saddle, healthy by all accounts from baseline blood work run this spring. Enjoying his Chiro and massage treatments to help out his SI and lower back... I checked in with the vet with his 'funny week'  in March, which he seemed to bounce back from quickly, so we just assumed stress of changes put him in a funk.  No warning... What happened?  How could this happen?

I spoke with Blue Ridge today, looking for answers... based on his pain levels they feel he had a twist somewhere.  While we couldn't see it on the ultrasound, it is limited in depth of usage, and there is no other thing that would cause him to be in that much pain.  He assured me there is nothing I could have done to prevent this, I didn't miss something... Still don't know what caused the original colic, could have been spring grass or some other random thing, but I did everything I could for him and gave him relief when options were exhausted. Closure, but doesn't help the pain.

I'm just at a loss...I knew when I lost Traveler that I would find a partner again soon, I had to.  Now, I'm reeling from losing another I'd bonded to, been developing a partnership with, in such short time after. We were just getting started...everything I was working on towards getting him home, dreaming of the day Tesla would be in my front yard... I don't know what to do with myself.  I want to crawl into a hole and retreat...I have nothing to retreat to. I'm lost, my heart broken again.

No Frills, April 2015 (Becky Pearman Photography)

Old Dominion, June 2015 (Becky Pearman Photography)

Gobble till you Wobble, Nov 2015 
Run free my black stallion, forever in my dreams.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

wild weather riding

Last Monday began a cold snap with wind again, but we got out with another gal from the new barn to learn some of the trails.  There are lots to train on :) A lot of powerline and old logging roads, nice wide paths....good to move out on and able to slow down for the mud.
We did 6.5 miles following her big warmblood with little incident. The only issue was coming back around the back of his pasture and buddies.  A little jiggy then, but made it through.

Saturday we got out for another good ride.  Well, started out a little rough...while I 'budgeted' for 30min to load, we ended up taking 45 and getting there a few min late. Fortunately my friends were nice enough to wait and let me throw tack on real quick to head out upon our arrival.  We all wondered if we were a bit nuts with how much the wind was starting to blow.  Got to ride again with an old boarding buddy that we had plans to go to IMJ together with our boys. She suffered a back injury and couldn't ride for a while, and now has a gaited horse that Tesla seemed to enjoy hanging with.  We got in 11.5miles, with no bucks or 'tantrums'.  He was surprisingly calm back at the trailer even when we'd get nailed with 40mph+ gusts as I was pulling tack and brushing him quickly. He just happily munched his hay...  Loading up to go home was very 'easy' in comparison (usually it is the worst of them!).
 I got very lucky actually. I had my door open using the stopper but kept watching as I had an inkling it wouldn't hold in the winds.  Tesla was 1/2 up, and I felt a large gust...I rushed him back off in time to have the door come loose and my arm out in time to stop it from slamming into him.  I can only imagine if it had hit he would have never walked on again.  I then enlisted some help holding the door and a few tries and we were up ready to go.  I did notice that he seemed to be worried about my spot and not stepping on me like he did last weekend.  I've still got a sore spot on my Achilles from that one!

No pictures until we got back to the barn...all hands on deck for this ride in the wind!

Tesla hanging with George upon his return - all buts to the wind!

I rode Tesla Saturday morning on the heels of finding out a friend lost her super-pony, Shiloh.  They were not endurance folks, but lovers of the trail and absolute fun to be around at the other local camping rides we attended.  Kim is a wonderful person and Shiloh was her superman. She is heart broken and I totally understand why - I still miss Traveler and not day goes by I don't think of him.  The bond between human & horse is hard to explain, but the best I could say in short is: Regardless of their size, they leave huge hoofprints on our hearts and become part of our soul.

Friends have put together this page to help with Shiloh's hospital bills - if anyone feels moved to donate, please do so here.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

back at it!

Today was a good day. Tesla was back to his old self, with just a few antics thrown in!

 About ready to head out...

Our ride was postponed a little bit due to rain, but it turned out to be a wonderful day to ride.  We got in a nice 10miles with friends.  He was happy to follow along and also to take the lead.  The one actual buck came when we were trotting along and Red (horse in front him) hit the canter and Tesla did a yeehaw thing.  Next time I caught him with the head toss and stopped the thought from following through.  But given our last long ride, I'll take it!  No fighting, really no need for the martingale today! No soreness for either of us that I can tell, other than my ankle in my beginning as it didn't want to stretch!

Loading went well leaving the barn, a little sternness and he loaded up within 5 minutes.  We arrived at the trail head with no one around.   He was cool a cucumber!

waiting for our friends
We had a nice small group since the rain seemed to scare a few away! It didn't rain long, and it turned out to be a really pretty day.  Kind of warm in some spots!

Lead the way!

And the rest behind us
He barely broke a sweat and was just happy to be out enjoying the trails :)
This guy did his EDPP just fine, taking advantage of a stop for one other horses to pee to do so himself...grabbing grass every chance he could - stopping dead from a trot to grab water from a puddle when he was thirsty (sent me towards his neck too lol).

Post ride, feed me!
Loading up to go home, well that took a little longer.  When I gave him the "what for" for not coming on when I asked, it worked...but all too well!  He was too eagerly behind me and ended up stepping on my heel...which as I yelped he ran backwards. He knew he shouldn't have... 2more attempts and he was loaded.  A bit freaked out by the wind gust that came in as I was getting him settled but then he stopped dancing once I closed his window and the wind wasn't as bad.

a little cut and bruised...

Hoping this attitude sticks around as we get ready for No Frills LD!