Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Post for Terri

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Son of a Fish (11/14/09): Educating a late bloomer

This week, Jazz showed some maturity in being able to handle indoor-arena traffic, especially when we were cut off by a young rider on a pony. Even a few weeks ago, that sort of pressure would have triggered a buck so fast that he would leave his shoes behind.

Sometimes I wonder, if Jazz is a little immature on the account that he had EPM during the years when he should have been mentally maturing. I'll never really know for sure. [I used to call him my "five-year-old nine-year-old."] One thing is for certain, he has a lot of catching up to do.

I do massage work on another horse that had a difficult upbringing, with some gnarly scars to prove it. Though he's middle-aged, he exhibits some young horse behavior, mostly silly mouthiness, and has a slight, immature-looking build for a registered quarter horse, enough so that I thought of Jazz and made a mental note to find out if others have come across this phenomenon.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Son of a Fish, 11/06/09

Here's some video from our lesson last Friday, 11/06/09.

Stanhope Stables
Trainer, Terri Stryker

Friday, November 6, 2009

Things I Learned from an EPM'er

Here's a list of things I've learned from putting up with a horse that likely had EPM for years before I owned him and suffered another year under my care, before my vet showed up on the right day and came up with the right diagnosis.

There's a profound reason that a Thoroughbred with an "intelligent eye" and a lovely uphill conformation is seeking its third owner off the track, figure out why BEFORE you buy him.

Ok, so you're his third owner off the track and he's totally coming apart, dismount and figure out why.

Do not ride your tense, hot-off-the-leg Thoroughbred in the ring at the same time your friend is riding his Friesian, who would rather get his picture taken than work, in a lesson with an old-school dressage trainer. Your horse will either buck, bolt, or buck, then bolt with his eyes hanging from the sockets; and the Friesian will still refuse to pick up the right lead.

When your horse spooks at grey horses in the ring, it's likely "photophobia" and not his sensitive soul expressing an aesthetic preference.

When your horse runs himself into a lather for 10 mins because it is snowing, it has nothing to do with being born in Florida, that's probably photophobia too.

Horses are generally not sociopaths. If you horse tries to stomp barn swallows under saddle AND on the longe it's... um, lemme guess, photophobia?

It is not normal for a horse to take every other horse's correction personally by performing airs above the ground — this is his cry for help.

"Free Horse" is not an appropriate nickname — that's obviously YOUR cry for help.

When your horse rears and strikes out at you, this is another cry for help, as in, "Get my owner some professional help in handling problem horses!"

When your trainer says, "He has difficulty with proprioception," call a vet.

When your horse bucks a lot, check the saddle; if the saddle is fine, call a vet.

Horses that are tense or weak behind should be able to go over at least one ground pole. If your horse scatters an entire line of ground poles like buckshot, call a vet.

When your horse stands on crossties, reflexively kicking out at nothing, call a vet.

When your horse is short on the right hind one day, the left front on another day and this keeps up, disappearing and reappearing before you can even call the vet, call the vet.

When your horse's other nickname is "Spaz," call the freakin' vet already, you dumbass!

When a vet has you walk your horse up and down the barn aisle twice, palpates him and determines that it's "80% in his head," call a different vet.

I know that posting this list betrays my ignorance about most-things horsey, but being around horses for five years before becoming Jazz's owner definitely did not qualify me for what came next. Many thanks to those who have been there for me through the ups and downs and for "Spaz" for hanging in there.

If you have any "lessons" to add, please feel free to comment.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Blue Tongue Video

The Internet equestrian forums and media are abuzz with outrage over this video of Swedish Olympic dressage rider Patrik Kittel riding KWPN Stallion Watermill Scandic in extreme hyperflexion (aka "rollkur"). According to reporters for Epona.tv, this went on for "at least two hours."

At one point the stallion's tongue was hanging out and had turned blue, presumably due to lack of circulation because the tongue was caught between the bits. Kittel's solution was to halt, reach down, reposition the tongue so that it was no longer being pinched and then return to schooling in hyperflexion.

Epona.tv also reports:

During the training session, EPONA.tv spoke to a spectator who claimed to have notified one of the show's officials of the prolonged hyperflexion. Odense's Chief Steward confirms to EPONA.tv that a complaint was lodged against Patrik Kittel's riding, but it was not deemed necessary to comment or take action, because Kittel was no worse than other riders using the same method.

Kittel, who trains with Dutch chef d'equipe (and Anky van Grunsven husband) Sjef Janssen, went on to place third with a score of 76.250 in Sunday's Freestyle.

So the moral of the story is that the FEI doesn't consider it abuse if everyone else does it and you can put up a high score.

For those readers who haven't had an opportunity to watch the DVD, "If Horses Could Speak," or haven't followed this debate, you can observe in the Blue-Tongue video that the stallion is unable to drop his hind quarters and step underneath his back because the top line (nuchal) legament is streched to the maximum. Also, the extreme head/neck position shortens the reach of the shoulder. The lack of hindquarter engagement and shoulder reach is used to develop the more brilliant, upward leg movement that is currnetly being rewarded by FEI judges in international competition.

The irony is that "soring" to create the high-stepping action in gaited show horses is now commonly considered abusive, but use of "rollkur" towards a similar goal isn't.

Hat tip to Fran Jurga for not only posting this video on her blog, but for being one of the few equine journalists who have the courage to talk about the practice of rollkur.

There's also a heated thread in the Chronicle of the Horse Forums ("Blue Tongue World Cup - No Words Can Express Just How WRONG This Is") where the general opinions range from horror to outrage. [Maybe the I-heart-Rollkur advocates are just sitting this one out.]

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

GREENIE: "Extensive professional training"

Being someone who bought a horse whose baggage contained some mysterious (and profound) incongruities, this is kind of ad that makes me cringe:

HAMLET is a 7y/o quarter horse, 15.3H gelding. Although he has had extensive professional training, he is still green. He is an adorable mover, currently over fences 2'6" and extremely honest! Well mannered & is always eager to please. Looking for advanced/confident rider only. This sweetie loves to cuddle!

He's for lease and based on the photos, he's nice. But I would really want to know why a 7y/o is "still green" after "extensive professional training." Not ideal for a 15.3-hander.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ranitidine for horses

In order to avoid the "acid rebound" effect that occurred when I first took Jazz off of GastroGard, I decided to try the human protocol, by alternating the omeprazole (GastroGard/UlcerGard) with one of the popular over-the-counter H2 blockers: cimetidine, famotidine, ranitidine.

I couldn't find an online resource for the equine dosage for ranitidine (Zantac), so I turned to a barnmate that has some experience with the drug.

The dosage is 3 mg/lb or 6.6 mg/kilo.

So far, it seems to have worked.

Since then, Jazz is now on a daily dose of bentonite clay for maintenance. I've heard of horse owners who have used the bentonite clay to cure ulcers, but since the flare up seemed so much worse the second time around, I went with big guns.

UPDATE, 04/04/10: I added 1/4 cup of aloe vera juice daily to the routine, which has really taken the edge off of Jazz's sensitive stomach.