Monday, April 28, 2014

Chance Report

Hock is Better!

My vet, Dr. Klayman, was here today to look at Chance.

Apparently, the hind end lameness was that bit of bony change in his hock. The steroid injection seems to have done the trick.


Chance was slightly lame in the left front when he was lunged. (Dr. Klayman was by himself and lunged Chance himself for the exam. I am proud to say my boy was perfectly behaved on the lunge line for the doctor. He was super obedient and lunged perfectly in both directions. What a good boy! Proves once again how lots of ground training can pay off.)

Anyhow, the left front lameness seemed to be in his heel.  Now, there is more to the story. My shoer, Scott, was here on Friday and when his assistant trimmed Chance they found evidence of sole bruises, most likely from the winter. As you may know, with the recurrent Polar Vortex here we had weeks and weeks of hard, solid, frozen ground. Because the horses had been walking out in the paddocks, the ground froze into lumpy, bumpy stuff. I was impossible to tell if a horse was sound out there and most of the time all three just kind of tiptoed around. The arena sand was the most level place for them and the pasture was not too bad, so they did have places to get out of the lumpy bumps, but aside from the snow cover, there wasn't any good footing for the bulk of the winter. Apparently, it took its toll on poor Chance. He was super wonderful feet, so this was a bit of a surprise to all of us.

He got a good trim and that might have made him a little sensitive on that left front. Or it could be related to a small cut he has a little higher up. Either way, he's a bit off. Dr. Klayman and I opted for the most conservative route. We'll be painting his sole/heel/frog with Venice turpentine for the next few weeks and the doc will come back towards the end of May. I can't ride until then anyhow--might not even be ready by then, but we'll see. Hopefully Chance will be sound by then. If not, we'll have to do some more tests.

Actually, looking back over the months of Chance's lameness, all of this kind of makes sense. On the few time the ground thawed and I tried to ride him, I wasn't at all sure which leg was lame. As a matter of fact, at one point, I had Scott come out to check his front feet because I was sure he was lame in front. When Scott and I watched him that day, it was very obviously that right hind leg where we finally found the hock issue.

All the puzzle pieces seem to be falling in place for me now. The hock injection will hold for quite a while and if the theory is right, the turpentine will help the sore front. By the time I am sound enough to ride, I am ever hopeful I will have a sound Chance to ride.

I do have to say, seeing him on the lunge line and then just standing there as Dr. Klayman pondered the lameness, I had to say, "He is one good looking horse."

And good looks go with a good attitude, a good mind, and a good ride.

I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Birthday Post

Happy Birthday, To Me!!

I'll admit it, I've hit 65. That means Medicare. I was already collecting Social Security, so no biggie there.

Medicare, though. I am supremely lucky to still have my Blue Cross/Horizon as secondary insurance to pick up any expenses Medicare will not pay.

But already the Medicare stuff is strange. I had to fill out some forms at the chiropractor. They were pain assessment things and they made no sense whatsoever. I am an English teacher and, frankly, I read the language very well. I could not make heads or tails of what they wanted on these forms. Vague directions, irrelevant examples, and no explanations.

Times like this, I think I could make a fortune hiring myself out to simply write directions for people to follow.  If I was vague or too indirect with my students when I gave assignments, I could get all kinds of strange work from them. Writing clear, concise and good directions is an important teaching skill.

Think of riding instructors you have had in the past--or even now. Their ability to communicate complex concepts makes all the difference in the world to you as a student. What do you do with your body, your weight, your hands, your eyes, your legs, your seat, and every nuance of how to ride even a simple exercise somehow must come across by words alone. Sure, they can demonstrate, they can hold you by the hand or physically correct your seat, but in the end, you and your horse will have to do it on your own.

I always remember Lockie Richards explaining something and always adding, "Feel it? Feel it? Do you feel it?"  He knew it wasn't just a matter of mechanics, but a matter of feeling the results of the mechanics so you could recreate the results on your own. By expecting that, I might often discover an alternate way of getting the horse to respond, since my goal was not a method, but a consequence.

Hope that makes some kind of sense.

But too many people are not teachers, yet they think they can give directions. I have been looking at some of the Common Core educational materials over the last few months, and I see the problem cropping up there. Common Core is proven a money maker for many for profit corporations. They create all kinds of educational materials they claim teach the Common Core skills to students in all kinds of fancy commercial packages. They sell these to schools who are desperate to try to keep up with government requirements for educational standards.

The result? Poorly conceived assignments and badly written instructions. I've seen them.

Most teachers I have known in my own educational career are more than capable of teaching students what they need to know and leading them along the path of good learning. What they need is the freedom and support to teach, not someone looking over their shoulders all the time with a checklist.

Picture your riding teacher again. Your horse misbehaves or misinterprets the cues you give him. Teacher has a set of rulebooks to follow...a preset curriculum that must be mastered in order, in a certain way with no creative methods.  Will it work? Maybe, maybe not. But in the meantime wouldn't you rather have a teacher who could come up with a good solution on the spot before you're bucked off, run away with, or simply frustrated to tears?

Thanks for indulging me. After all, it is my birthday!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Vet Visit

No News? Good news?

My vet was here all morning doing tests on Chance. He did another nerve block to see if the issue was in the pastern. That was inconclusive so he went to Xrays. Nothing out of the ordinary showed up except perhaps a bit of roughening/arthritis in Chance's middle hock joint.

Then he ultrasounded both hind legs. That way if he saw anything unusual in the right hind, he could compare the left hind to see if whatever it was was normal for Chance. I am a bit relieved to say he found nothing.

That's a good news/bad news result. Good news in that it eliminates suspensory and ligament injury, but bad news in that it does not really provide any answer as to why Chance is lame.

His final decision was to give Chance a steroid injection in the suspicious hock. Chance will stay in today, and then have turnout in his little run in shed for tomorrow and the next day. My vet will be back in 9-10 days to do another exam to see if the injection made any difference.

So, while we have eliminated most of the more serious lower limb concerns, we still do not have any definitive answers. I am hopeful the hock injection will make a difference.

Debbie, my horsesitter took the role of assistant for me. She brought her two sons with her who were an amazing help in setting up the run in shed as a pen for Chance.

My friend Chris was going to be here, but last night her mother was rushed to the hospital and I am terribly sad to say, she passed away this morning. I can only send my prayers and love to Chris at this time. A loss like this is never easy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Amazing People

I already told you about the massive housecleaning project undertaken by a group of my friends while I was in the hospital.  The time and effort they put in was amazing and quite humbling to me.

Friends like that are a true treasure.

And I have more. My friend Chris of the Arabians will be coming over tomorrow to help out with the vetting for the Boys. That will include Chance's ultrasound. Since I can't quite yet handle the horses myself, her help in getting them in the barn for the vet and maybe some extra holding hands for the ultrasound will be invaluable.  The last time the vet was here Lanny lent a hand as well.

My horsesitter, Debbie, goes well beyond the call of duty to do little extra things too. She picked up grain at the feed store for me and has cleaned out the rat attacked feed bin I was planning on handling once Spring hit.  (Speaking of---Spring hit with a vengeance with temperatures up in the upper 70's last week and last night, we had.......snow......)

Had to giggle a bit because I asked Debbie to put the sheets on the Boys last night before the temperatures plummeted. After she had left, I saw that Tucker was still naked. I went out to find his Rambo sheet in a rather tattered state, completely unusable.  Not sure when that had happened, but I guess Debbie had no idea what else he could wear. Fortunately, I did. I pulled one of the orange sheets out of the pile and decided to try to put it on Tucker myself.

Now, on his best of days, Tucker tends to be a moving target for getting dressed. Even when he does stand in one place, he bops his head up and down threatening to bite while I try to fasten the buckles. Last night, there I stood in his stall, on one crutch, hefting the sheet up onto his 17 h back with my free left hand. I managed to get it up there and then moved around to the front of him to buckle the straps.  "Bop, bop" head started. At that I said, "Knock it off. I'm having enough trouble just standing up. If you  knock me down we are going to be in big trouble here!"   To my utter surprise he froze and stood stock still like a perfect gentleman while I adjusted the buckles, surcingles, and leg straps so the sheet fit properly. (I think it was actually Toby's sheet.)  I gave him high praise and thanks for being a really good boy!!  Amazing.

Anyhow, back to friends. My friend LeighAnn called me when she found out I was hurt and insisted if I needed hay or grain that I call her. So I did.  Sure enough, she hitched up her trailer today. picked up 25 bales of hay from our supplier and unloaded it in my shed.

Another friend, Richard, picked me up from the hospital, took me shopping for groceries on the way home, and waited with me at the pharmacy for my prescriptions. He offered to take me to physical therapy as well, but since I can drive, I didn't need his help there. But again, how nice for him to offer. And I know he'd do it because he did when I was recovering from the knee replacements.

These are not people who speak empty words when they say, "If there's anything I can do, please let me know."  They mean it.

I hope I am the same kind of friend to them and any of my other friends if the time should come.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I Will Not Be a Statistic

Hip Stories

I never should have done a Google search on broken hips. Apparently it is one of the more difficult injuries to recover totally from.

Actually, I can understand why. Aside from the fact that the broken bone is huge, the hip itself is an important weight bearing joint. My hip joint is not damaged, just the bone going into the socket, so that's a big plus. But still there are lots of muscles and ligaments all involved in the recovery.

As well, most broken hips are in elderly people who tend to be less active. While I am just crossing to the side of "elderly" (65) I have been very active all my life and intend to stay so. It would be easy to just sit around now and rest my leg, avoiding the pain of moving around. And sometimes, I do just that. The injury and surgery took a lot out of me and I am still more tired than I would normally be.

But, I will not sit around without exercising my leg. I have physical therapy three times a week and in between I do most of the exercises at home. I also walk quite a bit--around here now using only one crutch--and I do some of the chores that don't require heavy lifting. I am doing the late night feed for the Boys every night. I put out the peanuts and bird seed for the wild critters. And I am also feeding the two stray kitties who have shown up. (More on them later--one a gray adult and the other a kitten)

I have a walk down the driveway every day to get my mail. I have gone to church for choir practice and the Sunday service. I have been grocery shopping several times, although I have ridden around the store in one of those electric carts for long shopping missions. But, I can push a regular shopping cart to the car afterwards to unload my purchases. Then, I unload the car at home and carry the groceries in.

From what I have read, swimming, or at least water exercises will be great for my recovery. I do want a clearance from my surgeon first to be sure I can immerse my leg in water--assurance that the incisions are healed enough.

I think one little problem I have at the moment is that my muscles, tendons and ligaments were so compromised before my hipbone collapses that they were all strained before the repair surgery. They do need a little extra time to heal from that trauma.

But recover they will, and recover I will.

Hopefully, I will be able to ride Chance again. The vet is coming on Thursday, as you know, to do an ultrasound to find out what is wrong with him. I am hoping both he and I will be on a matching recovery trajectory.

Tucker stands in the wings, a project for another day. And, of course, there is Toby.

I have a lot to look forward to and I think I'll just skip the Google searches for now.

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Goodness!!

Getting Around

I am getting around better and better and sometimes can even use just one crutch instead of two.

I am extra glad to be out of the hospital. This morning on the news reports were coming in of an explosion in one of the rooms there. Details are vague but apparently there was a fire of some sort and an oxygen tank in one of the rooms exploded. There were some serious injuries, but as I said, all the information is not quite clear yet.

The explosion was on the 3rd floor and I spent my stay on the 4th floor. I don't know if any of the nurses or aides I met go from floor to floor in their work assignments. It seems one employee and one visitor were hurt. It's not clear whether it was a patient's room or some other room. The explosion was confined and there was not much, if any fire.

Scary, when you think of it. When I was in the hospital in Philadelphia with my knee replacements, there was a fire alarm and from what I could tell, it was not a drill. I put on my shoes and coat, just in case. A bit later one of the aides came into my room and was a bit taken aback that I was all ready to evacuate if there was any need. I guess being a school teacher for so long made me a bit more safety aware during an emergency alarm than most people. We had a number of significant "events" when I was teaching that taught me to get my coat and possessions whenever the alarm bells rang.

My prayers go out to those injured at the hospital. I hope they are going to be OK and have a speedy recovery. I can say they are in one of the best places to receive excellent treatment and care.

The Boys are doing fine under Debbie's care. I am doing the late night feeding again due to unforeseen circumstances, but it's not too difficult. With just one crutch, I can carry the flakes of hay without too much trouble and the grain is easy too.

I am a bit worried about Chance. As you may recall, he's been off and on lame all winter. Dr. Klayman did a good, thorough lameness exam this week and ended up blocking his right hind leg between the pastern and hock after eliminating a higher leg issue. He's pinpointed the area where Chance is sore and will be back to do an ultrasound next week. Various possibilities include suspensory damage which would have no treatment. It could mean an end to my riding him.

Chance will always have a home with me as long as he is comfortable enough to be a pasture ornament. It would be a shame because he really is a delight to ride and is a great trail horse--just what I need considering a certain large TB's unpredictable attitude.  I can, of course, still ride Toby and there is an open option to ride Chris's Arabian, but that's just not the same as taking a nice leisurely hack out on my Chanceypants.

For now, it's just wait and see.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedty Jig

Tired Out

I am home at last. I guess they got tired of me in the hospital.

I am on my crutches, which is a good thing as I am able to get around really well on them. My leg is still sore, but things take time to heal after a surgery. I can put all my weight on it when I stand still but trying to push off with it to take a step is a bit "ouchy."

While I was in the hospital, a cadre of my friends decided to take it upon themselves to clean my house. It was rather a mess, to say the least and when I came home they were in the final stages of a thorough cleansing. Not sure what's missing at the moment, but most likely, I won't notice what's been thrown out for a while.

The trouble for the moment is trying to find out where things have been put. There was enough reorganization that I don't know where to look for things.

I was taken aback by the work everyone did for me and am grateful. To say I have mixed feelings is an understatement. It was unsettling to find out how many people had been here to pitch in. There was even a bunch of work done in the yard. I had a lot of tree branches down from the winter and some other yard tidying issues at play there.

So for now, all I will say is, "Thank you, all."  I will do my best to keep the house in better shape from now on in.

But, for now, my body needs to heal. Surprisingly, I did not sleep well last night. My bed does not have all the nice adjustments the hospital bed had and since I am still stuck sleeping on my back--can't roll over on the surgery leg side and when I try the other side, the surgery leg protests--I need to get "just right" to be comfortable.

I finally had the brilliant idea of taking my pain meds in the wee hours of the morning. That helped a lot. Apparently what I thought was a minor nagging pain in the hip was actually worse and once I calmed that down I did manage a few winks. Tonight, I'll try the meds before I go to bed the first time and see if that makes a difference.

I have to keep reminding myself a broken hip is not a minor injury and since I am not as young as I once was, it's going to take longer to fully recover than I'd like. Frustrating indeed, but I will just have to learn to be patient.

I didn't actually visit the horses yet, sad to say. It rained quite a bit and everything is soggy out there. I'm not sure how the crutches would work in the mud, so I have to wait until someone comes to visit to spot me.  My vet is coming this morning and some horse friends are supposed to show up to help out. He'd be fine without the extra hands as he will bring his own assistant, but having the help would be really good.

Hope everyone shows up as promised.