Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Baby Boomer Dreams - Dandy's Story - After Canada

Part 1

Finding that lump on the back of the Arabian horse's front leg there was nothing I could do but get the vet. There was heat in the lump and obvious swelling to the leg. The horse seemed to be walking on the leg ok but that lump was huge (or at least is looked huge to me) and right over the tendon on the back of the horse's leg.

The Canadian veterinarian palpated the leg and the lump and then off we went to the warm-up arena to see what we had. Trotting away from the vet, the horse looked sound. The vet's advice was to apply standing wraps and take it easy for a few days. That would get us home to a vet I knew and maybe some idea of what was going on with my horse.

By this time I had discovered that my trainer had decided to use hock hobbles on my horse. Despite the fact that she knew I didn't approve of their use, she had chosen to use them anyway. Because she had not respected my wishes I was taking the horse out of training. I didn't want him with a trainer I couldn't trust and I sure didn't want him worked in hock hobbles again.

I asked her why she'd even used hock hobbles on my horse when she and I had had conversations about them in which she said there was no good reason to use them on any horse. From everything she had said, I thought she felt the same way about them that I did. Obviously it was ok for her to run down trainers who used them, but it was ok for her to utilize them because my horse was different. He was just not getting under himself like he should and she had run into a brick wall so hock hobbles were her answer. So Dandy was going home with me.

Once again I was hearing that my horse was being a jerk. There was no good reason for him to be resisting except that I had spoiled him and he didn't have a good work ethic. Even typing these words makes me angry because that is just NOT my horse.

Again I found myself looking for answers about the training issues involved. While I was willing to admit I didn't know everything, I was pretty darn sure I knew enough about my horse that this just didn't make sense. But for the time being, this problem would have to be on hold until we figured out what was going on with the horse's leg.

Once at home, I treated the horse like he was lame until my vet could get out to see him. I left him up in a stall and hand walked him twice a day. After being cooped up with no turnout at the trainer's and the long trip to Canada and back Dandy was not happy about these plans. Hand walking was difficult at best and didn't get much better. The horse wanted to frolic and play not walk politely beside me. I couldn't wait for the vet to arrive.

When the vet did finally get out to my farm, I didn't really get a definitive diagnosis, well not one that worked for me anyway. An ultra sound revealed the sheath to the tendon was damaged but not the actual tendon itself. The odds were the horse would be fine but there were no guarantees that the sheath would not rupture if the horse was put to use. The vet thought things would be just fine with work but to be on the safe side, I laid Dandy off for six weeks. I was taking no chances my horse might end up with a bowed tendon. The vet agreed it was the best plan for the horse.

Also I talked to my vet yet again about the training issues I was having, the occasional rub marks and falling in the horse trailer and, of course, the sometimes crooked tail. Again he checked the horse over and told me everything was just fine. There was no physical reason for the horse behaving this way.

I remember clearly my frustration at this time. The clock was ticking away on the time for the US National Championships. I had my horse locked up in a stall with hand walking he hated twice a day. More often than not, the horse stripped off his standing wraps, clearly voicing his displeasure at his predicament. And then there was the mysterious problem with my horse that no one believed in but me. I just couldn't believe this was happening but I hung fast with my decision to let the horse heal before riding him and keep searching for a solution for the other problem.

Over time the swelling on Dandy's leg went down leaving him a lump like you'd expect to see from a bowed tendon. Other than that the horse looked fine. Over that entire six weeks the horse never did take a lame step. Once the time was up I was back to riding again, trying to figure out if it was worth a trip to nationals with a horse that had been laid off for weeks. It would only be two weeks before it was time to leave for the show.

As much as I my heart set on showing in Bonanza at Nationals, I was beginning to worry about some of the obstacles. Because my entries had me sent in when I was part of Kelly Alcorn's barn, that meant I would be stabled with them. How comfortable would that be after I had fired her as my trainer? I decided to call Kelly and see.

Kelly said there was no reason the plans needed to change. They would be happy to have me travel with them again and to stable with them. Also, they were counting on me to share a room with their groom. I talked to Dave about it. Had a couple more rides on Dandy and decided that we would make the trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

It wasn't really until we were actually on the rode that I discovered how angry Larry Alcorn was at me for taking my horse out of the barn. Even though I was supposed to be following them, he would take off into the horizon and I wouldn't see them forever. I had no clue if I was on the right track or if he's just gone off and left me. It wasn't much fun.

About the time I would think I better stop somewhere and get myself a map and a route, I would regain sight of the rig. They'd decided to stop to eat or something like that and just gone in and ordered while they waited for me to catch up. For someone who's afraid of getting lost and sticks close to home, it was really an awful trip. I was glad when we finally got into the mountains and Larry could no longer leave me in the dust.

For some reason, Larry took the long way to Albuquerque. I'm not sure if it was to torture me or because he didn't know any better. But we went off some where through Idaho, across Montana and down through Colorado. Seems like we went through some really desolate land before we finally got to Denver where it was snowing.

Just like the trip to Red Deer had a memorable picturesque moment, so did the trip to Albuquerque. Vesicular stomatitis was also a factor in this trip as well. We couldn't enter the fairgrounds until a vet had inspected our horses. When we pulled into Albuquerque, we ended up parking on a shoulder of an on ramp in the middle of the night, snoozing until morning waiting for the vet's arrival time at 7:00 am. It's a good thing my horse travels well and thinks that horse trailer is a second home.

As I awoke to the sun streaming in through my truck windows, I saw the most amazing assortment of colors. At first I had to shake off the sleep to even figure out what was in front of me. Just off to my right (where that herd of Belgians had been in Alberta) hundreds of hot air balloons were just beginning to lift off. It was the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival That was my welcome to my first trip to the US Arabian National Championships and what a sight it was.

To be continued................


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  1. My goodness this sounds like a turbulent and testing time for you!

    Vesicular stomatitis? That's one I've not heard of before.. shall have to look it up.

    I'll bet the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival would have made for an amazing sight... all the best with your gorgeous horse.

  2. I think I remember something about this.... I'll have to wait and see if I'm right. Anxiously waiting for the next installment. :)

  3. AACCKK... what a lousy thing for a person to do!

  4. After some of those traveling experiences, it must be hard to trust people. I always hated it when a group of people would jump in their cars and say we were all going somewhere. I'd ask for directions, and they'd tell me to follow them. Driving is stressful enough without having to keep up with someone else.

  5. Thanks for stopping by my blog, MiKael!! I love reading about your Arabians. I am always on the edge of my chair! The trainer I got my gelding from is working for an Arabian stable and went to Nationals, too. My sister has a half- Arab and is very loyal to the breed.
    P.S. I think we are Northwest neighbors, as well! ;)

  6. I didn't even know what hock hobbles were until this week when I saw a pair in a catalog. My first thought was "what kind of torture device is that?"

    This is why I won't send any of my horses anywhere for training. I would be a nervous wreck. Fortunately even the younger two are solid under saddle but we'd like to train the pony to drive and the QH to jump.

    I'm glad the end of your stressful drive was a gorgeous "flock" of hot air balloons soaring into the sky.

  7. That hobbles thing makes me so angry.

  8. Geeze, Another horendous ride, but obviously a bright morning!

  9. Hmmm...a mix of good omens and not so great people. I know exactly what you mean about the following people. I just can't do it when I have a horse trailer. People go too fast and switch lanes every 5 min. I hope you never have to have such a bad rode trip again!

  10. It's amazing to me that someone would just disregard your wishes for YOUR horse. I would've been so angry. Firing her as your trainer shouldn't have been a big shock.

  11. chris, I learned a lot this year, that's for sure.

    I think of those hot air ballons now most times I think about the National show. They are forever linked in my brain. lol

    lady of chaos, maybe, maybe not. lol........but plz don't tell.

    beth, it was quite a trip, that's for sure.

    nuzzling muzzles, I'm not crazy about following anyone, that's for sure. But with all those open roads, it just seems safer to travel in a group in case something happens. Finding the right group is a challenge.

    pony girl, I had no idea you are in the NW. It is such a small world. lol

    billie, hock hobbles cause horses to move very mechanically. It's easy for me to identify a horse that's trained with them.

    I have trouble sending my horses out for training as well. This incident has only made things worse. I thought we were totally on the same page and this happened.

    The balloons were an unexpected treat. They were absolutely amazing. For someone who doesn't notice much if it isn't equine, those balloons were very hard to miss and a wonderous sight to behold. My husband (who would love to ride in one some day) is totally jealous. lol

    flying lily, it actually still makes me angry too. I'm really glad my horse didn't get hurt in those things.

    callie, it was a "bright" morning. I doubt I'll ever see anything like it again. The few ballons I see rising out of the Kent Valley sometimes on summer morning pales in comparison. Not to mention there were some of the most unique balloon I've ever seen.

    onthebit, of geez, I forgot about the lane switching in Denver in the snow. It was an ugly sight. I'm glad I don't have to go through that again.

    arthist99, it's not uncommon for trainers to think they know everything and the clients know nothing. I made the mistake of believing her stated convictions about the device. But in her defense, she didn't lie to me when I asked her what she had been up to with my horse. She spit it out knowiwng that I would be mad. That is more than lots of other trainers would do.

  12. I don't even know what hock hobbles are for as far as riding goes. I know what breeding hobbles are, but that's just about it. Sounds like a dangerous and terrible thing to do to a horse!

  13. dressagemom, hock hobbles are used with a surcingle. They are strapped around both hocks and there is a line that runs from the front of the hock hobble through the ring on the belly band of the surcingle and back to the other hock. When the horse lopes or canters that line pulls the horse underneath itself by the leverage put on the hock.
    Obviously, horses trained with hock hobbles may have (usually in my experience) problems with their hocks as they age.

  14. I might add, the only good use of hock hobbles I can think of, is when I used them to stop a maiden mare from kicking at her foal. They worked great in that situation but the horse wasn't being asked to canter or even jog, just not kick. It took a couple of twenty minute sessions for me to feel safe that the mare would no longer harm her foal AND it helped her to bond with him. Just goes to show that sometimes things that look totally bad might have a useful element to them.

  15. I agree with you and see no reason to ever use hock hobbles as a training device. I can see where it might help with the kicking mare though. Seems like some people are really low-down and petty, even if they say they are fine with you not training with them. This drive sounds like another trip from h*ll. I'm glad you made it in one piece and got to see the balloons.

  16. What is more expensive...Canadian vet bills or American? Glad you fired that trainer.

  17. doing some catching up today.

    I'm always confused by what "work ethic" looks like. I'm a trainer who .looks. at behavior and mechanics to see what I want a horse (or dog for that matter) to do, and I've never seen what "work ethic" looks like. It's like seeeing emotion......not that it doesn't exist, but since you can't see it, it becomes open for interpretation and THAT can lead to all sorts of trouble.