January 31, 2015


On Wednesday afternoon I took Gentry out for a little stroll around the paddock. He slipped in the mud a little and "caught his toe" on the injured leg. This could mean he just slipped, or the tendon is not healing as well as we all thought. Regardless...it's kind of unrelated to the matter at hand, but it does mean no hand walking for now period. And potentially even more stall rest. Time will only tell on that.

Thursday morning I went to feed the horses I asked Gentry to step aside in the stall while I mucked. I  noticed that he was a bit reluctant to move his injured leg when I asked, but thought perhaps it was just related to tripping in the mud the afternoon before. Things drastically changed however by lunchtime.

I put Junior down for his crib confined non-sleeping singing and talking to himself time nap and went to feed the horses lunch a per usual. I instantly noticed Gentry's hock was swollen and that he was not baring weight on the injured leg. Quickly I removed the bandage to see what was amiss. It was rather difficult to do this because he was extremely sensitive to his leg being touched. It was hot and swollen. When I removed the Telfa pad, opaque yellow fluid immediately spilled out of the wound, followed by blood. The entire leg was swollen with pitting edema.

Cannon Bone Wound and Cellulitis - Day 24

My assumption was that he had cellulitis, and a possibly infected wound. Damn.

I called the vet and they managed to get out to the farm a couple hours later. My evaluation was correct, and he also had a slightly raised temp but not technically a fever. It is assumed that the cellulitis was caused by bacteria in the wound, although it actually doesn't seem infected according to the vet. So, it could be cause by a freak accident, like him getting cast in his stall. Most likely though it is related to the wound.

The prescription is continued stall rest, daily bandage changes with ointment (why did we stop this, now I'm confused?), 17 SMZ's 2x a day, and 2gm Bute 1x a day through Monday. We will re-evaluate then where he is at, unless of course things go massively downhill before then. However, Friday morning when I changed Gentry's bandage, he was barring weight on his leg again, let me touch it and dress the wound like usual, and it seemed that some of the swelling in his hock had gone down. Hopefully this will be the worst of it and the cellulitis will go away quickly and we will be back onto a positive healing path.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 30, 2015

Cannon Bone Injury Update - Week 3

Wednesday was supposed to be Operation Freedom. However, Gentry's wound is taking its sweet time to heal up at the top of the flap (the upside down U shape). The stitches just didn't seem to do much up there, although the rest healed up great. This means he is still in a bandage, which means slower healing, but healing none-the-less. It also means one more week of stall rest. At this point, I am told that the stall rest doesn't really have much to do with with the tendon anymore, and is really all about the cut healing. That kinda blows my mind. That means, on good days, I can start hand walking him, 5 minutes at a time, working up to 15/20 minutes.

For now Operation Freedom will be delayed until next week.

Photo Timeline Update

Cannon Bone Injury Wound - Week 3

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 23, 2015

Glorious Weather...but I'm Not Riding

I am so excited for EB this weekend. The weather is glorious. Sunshine and blue skies and the temps were unseasonably above 45ºF today! It should be a nice weekend for riding. So nice in fact, that I even forgot briefly that I don't have a horse to ride. Not even at the walk, not yet. Oh well.

Gentry is doing good. A lot of the ice has melted rendering the footing stable, so yesterday I let him out of his stall for five minutes. All he wanted to do was sniff noses with Hugo and eat hay with him. It was so sweet that it nearly broke my heart. I cannot wait to see him free and out of his prison stall.

Both happy to get to eat hay together

Tomorrow I will finally remove his bandage and start using standing wraps to transition his leg out of the bandage habit. The cut is looking really good and I don't think there will be much scaring, just a bit at the top. Fingers crossed! Have a great weekend everyone.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 21, 2015

Cannon Bone Injury Update - Week 2

As of today it has been two weeks that Gentry has been healing and tolerating his stall rest due to his canon bone injury. The wound did the majority of the visible healing this week. Every time I changed the bandage I was happy to see scabbing and very obvious healing going on. This past Friday was the first time that I noticed scabbing. I was very happy to see that development. I was so excited about how well it was healing up that on Monday I completely forgot to take a photo when I was changing his bandage. By the time I remembered he was already wrapped up and I was not going to do that all over again for the sake of a photo.

Since it has been two weeks, and everything seems to have grown back together, it was time to take the stitches out. I had noticed on Monday that they were starting to pull at the skin, doing more harm than good at that point, so I twiddled my thumbs the past two days just waiting to be able to take out the stitches.

Photo Timeline To-date

Canon Bone Injury - Day 1

Canon Bone Injury - Week 1

Canon Bone Injury - Week 2

Canon Bone Injury, stitches removed - Week 2

Now that the stitches are out, I no longer have to apply ointment to the wound, as according to my vet, it is better for it to heal dry under the bandage now. Otherwise the bandage is the same. Telfa pad (non-stick pad), cotton sheet, vet wrap, and then secure top and bottom of vet wrap with elastic adhesive tape. I am a pro at this now! So he gets his bandage for another few days, then I will begin to transition his body to no bandage with the use of standing wraps.

The Bandage

Although the stitches are out and the cut on his canon bone is mostly healed, Gentry still has one more week of stall rest to let that tendon finish healing up.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 19, 2015

Christmas Loot

*This was a previously scheduled post, that didn't happen when planned due to Gentry's cannon bone injury. I am still not riding though, because Gentry is on stall rest...still. Enjoy.


Since the weather has sufficiently determined that I would not get to ride this week, I thought I would share this year's horse related Christmas gifts. It took me years, but it seems that I have managed to train my family that if they are going to give me a gift to purchase me horse related items. I'd be perfectly happy with just their company for the holidays and no gifts, but I seem to have had a harder time training people to do that than to hit up a tack store. So, without further adieu...

The Loot

Breeches: Hub's got me a pair of fleece lined winter riding breeches from Tuffrider. He had gotten my the same pair in beige a couple years ago, right after I had Junior. However, I have since then lost my baby weight, so I needed a pair in a smaller size. These fit perfect, are perfectly warm riding in temps down to 15ºF (I haven't ridden in colder temps) and I love the grey color. It is nice to no longer have to wear long johns underneath my breeches!

Tuffrider Winter Breeches

Gloves: My folks got me some SSG winter riding gloves. I love the tan color and the leather is buttery soft and they are so nice and warm without being bulky. I am in love with these gloves. They also splurged and got me a pair of the SSG Rancher gloves, which I have yet to use, but seem equally buttery soft.
SSG Winter Riding Gloves

Blanket Bar: My Mom got me a Tough-1 Blanket/Tack Rack bar for the tack room. This will be nice for saddle pads to dry on once I get it up. I plan on buying a few more as well and stacking them on the wall space between the saddle racks.

Tack Room Saddle Pad Bar

Barn Lights: Hubs got me the new overhead light fixtures for the barn. They look fabulous sitting in the box and I cannot wait for us to get them up and get them put to work! They are Hampton Bay Warehouse Pendant lights in a Brushed Nickel Finish.

New Barn Lights
That is about it. A pretty good group of Christmas gifts. Thank you to my family for your generosity once again!

Happy trails and swooshing tails! 

January 16, 2015

A Christmas Tree Treat?

*This was a previously scheduled post, that didn't happen when planned due to Gentry's cannon bone injury. He is still locked in a stall, not romping about enjoying the pasture. Not so much fun.


On New Years Day, Hubs and I were discussing whether to take our christmas tree to the regional tree drop location or just let it sit around until spring and burn it. Then I got an idea. I know that horses like to eat pine branches...but I wasn't sure if they would like subalpine fir. I figured if they didn't like it then they wouldn't eat it. Bonus...this would mean that I could plant firs in the pasture! If they liked it, then yummy special New Years Day snack for them.

This is how it went.
Initial Curiosity

Taste Test

Hugo Was Unimpressed

Gentry gave it another try...because, well, food is his thing

The Result? The tree has remained untouched since. Off to the regional drop pile it goes!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 14, 2015

Cannon Bone Injury Update - Week 1

Gentry remains a model patient. Honestly, I couldn't deal with being stuck in a 10' x 10' stall for a week and I am 1/10th his size. I give him huge, HUGE, H-U-G-E props for being such a sport! It does break my heart when he looks at me with those sweet lovey dovey eyes that are clearly communicating "but why?". Seriously, I feel like such a villain. It is for the best though, and that is what I tell him every single time that I stuff his face with cookies.

On Sunday we finally got a few inches of good snow. A little bit more fell on Monday as well. This is a good thing because the snow, for whatever magical scientific reason, actually breaks up the ice. Perhaps one of my readers is educated on this subject and can fill me in. Regardless, more cold frozen water fell from the heavens and for some reason that caused the ice underneath to break up and stop being so slick.

That meant that on Monday I finally got Gentry out of his stall for 10 minutes of hand walking. G-Love was so happy. He took some big deep sighs. So big that I swear his tail even sighed. He had some nice relaxing body shakes and greedily drank out of the automatic waterer. He is tolerating the new heated water bucket in his stall, but clearly prefers the paddock auto waterer. However, I was shocked that he willingly, seemingly without thought, walked straight back into his stall. If I were him I cannot promise that I would have gone so willingly.

This horse is seriously the best thing since sliced bread. Perhaps I should of had his registered name be Gold Mine. It would have suited him perfectly.

We did another 10 minutes of hand walking Tuesday. By hand walking what I mean is we did a lot of walk, stop, sigh, sniff poop, drink water, walk, sniff poop, etc. At the super slow pace we were going, there was no notable lameness, so that was good at least. He is still snail walk pasture sound.

I also changed his bandage again on Tuesday. I changed it the first day, and then two days after that, and then again Tuesday. So that was my third bandage change and it is looking quite good. The skin has remained nice and tight with no inflammation. There was a tiny bit of swelling toward the bottom on tuesday, which I haven't noticed before, but it was also the first day that he hadn't had bute or antibiotics and that may have made a difference.

Here is a photo timeline:

Day 1 - Freshly Stitched Up

Day 2- First Bandage Change

Day 4 - Second Bandage Change

Day 7 - Third Bandage Change

More or less, I don't see any big changes from the first time I changed his bandage, and I am taking that as a good thing. He has been a really good boy about leaving his bandage alone, so I am hopeful that at this point I will only have to replace it every three days instead or two (or daily). Healing takes a while, and although the stall rest is certainly for the stitches to do their job, it is also for the tendoned he nicked to get a chance to heal up as well. So there is a lot more healing going on that we can't see. FIngers crossed that things continue to go as well as they are.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 10, 2015

Two's Company

Gentry has been an amazingly good sport about his stall rest and a model patient. I would love to get him out for some hand walking breaks, but the footing around the barn remains an ice skating rink. I am worried that we could end up doing more harm than good if he were to slip.

For example, on Friday I finished mucking his stall and was carefully teetering around the barn with a wheelbarrow very full of manure. Despite my efforts to remain surefooted, I stepped on a particularly icy patch and my feet flew right out from under me. I landed squarely on my sacrum and the wheelbarrow slid away and tipped over. As I lay on my side in agony on a fine dusting of fresh snow that covered the slick ice, I realized that this could be a really bad injury. Then I realize I had to get up before the snow melted and I got all wet and cold. At that point I further realized that I couldn't leave the wheelbarrow and pitchfork in the paddock with Hugo, and no one else was home to help me. I would have to get up.

I managed to do just that. Quickly, I assessed that I could indeed stand and walk, and although I was in pain it was not excruciating. Hope washed over me that this meant I didn't break my sacrum. Carefully I righted the wheelbarrow and proceeded to re-fill it with all the spilled manure. Bending over seemed to be the action that caused the most pain, so I finished my task as quickly as I could. Then very tentatively I continued on my original route with the wheelbarrow to the manure pile.

Luckily, thanks to a few Moscow Mules and Advil, I was able to sleep last night and woke up in slightly less pain this morning. Advil continues to be my friend, but given that the pain has subsided, I am fairly certain I have only bruised my sacrum and I can avoid a trip to the doctor.

Well, now at least Gentry is in good company. When it comes time to muck his stall this afternoon though, I may just ask Hubs if he can dump the wheelbarrow for me. I am thinking that it might just be time to dump a very large quantity of sand on the super icy patch or to purchase some crampons!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 8, 2015

Frig, Frig, Friggity-Frig-Frig!

I really wanted to type a different F-word in the title. Really. BADLY.

When I started blogging I only talked about the good stuff. Mostly because as I felt insecure about mentioning the bad stuff, in case anyone would judge me. Then, I don't know, something changed over the years. You guys became a wonderful community of support. So I got real about it, and started posting about the good and the bad.

This is the bad, sucky side of horse ownership.

Last night I went out to feed the boys, I saw Hugo by the barn and I heard Gentry call to me from around the back side of the barn. That was weird. I walked around to investigate and found him up on a retaining wall next to the metal drop roof of the barn which is only a few feet off the ground. The drop roof (I have no idea if this is what it is called) keeps the snow from piling up against the barn wall after it slides off the main roof. He got in there by climbing over a shrub we think...based on the blood trail.

Gentry was standing there with a hunk of flesh hanging off of his cannon bone. My heart sank. I didn't need a flashlight to know it was bad. I immediately started thinking that he would be lame for the rest of his life now. All my hopes and plans for him ruined. He would be at best a trail horse and possibly just a pasture puff. I stopped my mental downward spiral and shoved all the worst case scenario thoughts to the back burner. I had to get him off that wall first.

I managed to get him down, by having him jump down the retaining wall like a bank jump where one fence rail had broken and was missing. He might have gotten up there that way and then just cut his leg messing about too. We are not entirely sure. He effortlessly jumped down it, onto ice, amazingly sure footed on three legs. I had a brief sad thought that it might be the last bank jump he would ever jump.

Once I got him off the wall I threw Gentry and Hugo their hay in one pile so that Gentry could stand still in one spot, and I went to get my flashlight so that I could thoroughly assess the damage. While obtaining my flashlight, I informed Hubs, who was playing with Junior after having just returned from a four day cross country ski trip in Yellowstone, of what was going on. Also, that we would likely need to jimmy rig a stall that night. Sure enough it looked bad. I thought it was cut to the bone. Regardless though, I knew it meant a lot of stitches and likely stall rest. Then I called my vet.

Cut on the front of his cannon bone.

About 15-20 minutes later my vet and a visiting vet surgeon (they were just about to go to dinner when I called) arrived at the farm. My vet informed me that yes it needed stitches and stall rest, but actually the prognosis is good. Aside from some exterior scarring and scar tissue on one of the tendons, he should be just fine. It did seem like had just cut himself up, so the tip of flesh that usually dies in these types of injuries, might actually live. I won't get my hopes up too much about that though. Usually the tip dies due to lack of circulation.

Cannon bone cut all stitched up. 10 Stitches and 2 drain holes.

Cannon bone bandage.

Honestly, I am amazed by the prognosis. This is by far the worst injury a horse of mine has ever had. In the long run though, three weeks of stall rest isn't bad, and so far Gentry put up with one night like a trooper. He has Hugo in the paddock for company, although he seems understandably confused as to why he is trapped in the stall. Luckily I still have all of Rose's stall toys in storage, so I plan on breaking those out today and giving him something to play with.

The next morning, a very tolerant Gentry in his makeshift run-in shed stall.

I am still really upset about the fact that this injury happened, especially because it was preventable. I had thought this could happen but let it go because everyone is always telling me I am overly concerned and worry too much about these things. As a result, because of winter arriving the opening to the retaining wall, where the shrub is, just never got fenced off. So, I am upset with myself. No one else. I should have listened to my gut, and insisted that it get fenced off, regardless of what others thought about it or my neurosis. Point being, I would rather people think I'm a neurotic safety nut than have my horse's leg slashed open ever again.

I cannot tell you how fast that retaining wall got fenced off last night...with a lot of cooperation...from everyone.
Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 7, 2015

Wednesday Whining: Melting

Audios to the wonderfully fluffy 24" of snow that I have been enjoying and hello just above freezing temps. I know, everyone that lives in warmer places probably think's that I am a tad coo-coo for bemoaning temperatures soaring above 32ºF.

Here is the deal.

Fluffy snow makes for decently safe footing to at least do walk/trot work in, assuming temps are above 10ºF. It is also fun to ride in. Any colder and I do not ride. Below 10ºF it is not good for the horses, not good for my hay supply, and mostly...I don't like being outside when it is that cold. I am a softy...clearly. However, when temps top 32ºF things melt. Melting things on top of frozen ground results slush and ice (it takes weeks for the snow and ice to melt and the ground to sufficiently dry out enough to safely ride). Then of course temps dip below freezing at night which means everything turns into rock hard ice. Slippery hard knee bruising ice.* That equates to no riding at all.

G-Love even makes poopy mud look cute.

Since I know that I won't see DRY ground until around May, these warmer temps aren't a blessing around here. I prefer things to stay frozen if it is going to be cold out. I want my nice fluffy snow back!

*I am thinking I should have asked for some crampons for Christmas...just for walking to the barn at feed time. Furthermore, I don't expect Wednesday Whining to be a regular weekly thing...it just seemed appropriate for this post. Really, I hope that I don't have enough to whine about on a regular basis.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 5, 2015

Working on Halting

Gentry's halt needs work. His current understanding of the halt cue is the rider pulling his face off until he stops. Although this seems to be a commonly seen style of halting among certain circles, it is not the technique in which I choose to employ. I prefer my horse to halt more or less the moment when I think "halt", with no arm lifting, hand moving, or other loud and obnoxious face ripping off movements.

Gentry displaying and obvious lack of understanding how to halt properly

So, how do you get a horse to go from only halting whilst having his face ripped off to reading your mind? Well, first of all, in my opinion the horse doesn't really know how to halt if you have to rip his face off. First and foremost accept that fact. You horse does not know how to halt. He's only begrudgingly stopping because you've bent him backward like a pretzel.

Now that you realize your horse doesn't know how to halt...just like Gentry...you can start to teach him. That is the big thing we are working on at the moment.

The key to quietly halting from your seat are your hamstrings and gluts. At first this won't look pretty, because you have to make your horse pay attention to what your weight is doing in the saddle. That is something, which at this point, he probably doesn't pay too much attention to. Eventually you will work on subtlety, but first you have to get the point across.

Here is what I do:

  1. At the walk, prepare yourself to halt, by thinking through all these steps before you start. Once you are an old hand at this it will be second nature to you.
  2. Quickly, in one smooth motion do the following:
    1. Sit deeply in the saddle.
    2. Tighten your gluts and upper hamstrings.
    3. Then, keeping your hands low, pull back on the rein until the horse stops.
    4. IMPORTANT! The moment the horse stops, relax your seat and your hands. Give the horse a scratch, “good boy”, while remaining at the halt for a few seconds.Then walk on and repeat several times. I will usually only practice the halt a few times in a row and then break it up with serpentine or circle work and then come back to it. This keeps the horse from getting too frazzled about it. If you get a particularly great halt dismount and make a big praising deal about it. There is no greater reward to a young horse than the rider dismounting and calling and end to the session.

Keep practicing these steps until the horse quietly halts from what has become subtle cues. Once your horse starts halting well from the walk, move onto halting from other gates. Then start working on developing a square halt.

I like to think of training as baby steps. If you break it all down you get to the desired end result faster. Unless of course you like the face ripping off halt…then you are already there. Lucky you!

Want more halt work fun? The next step is to get that halt nice and square. Here is a previous post about working on the square halt specifically.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

January 2, 2015

Training the Young Horse in Winter

Now that my horse lives at home and I do not have an indoor arena, winter riding has taken on a new meaning and a new feeling.

Our first real ride in the deep snow. We didn't do it much, but trotting was FUN!

At first I was initially glum thinking to myself that I wouldn't get to ride again until March. Having never been without an indoor arena in the winter, this was a fair novice assumption. However, as winter arrived, I found that I could still ride once or twice a week given the right weather conditions. What the term "ride" meant to me has morphed though. Instead of working on specific contact or rhythm issues in an arena, we are going on walking trail rides down the gravel road to pick up the morning newspaper. That may not sound like much, but when you stop and think about it, a young horse gains a lot of training from these simple rides.

You are probably thinking, "yeah right". Let me break it down for you.

Tacking Up

Horse learns that it is okay to be out of sight of pasture buddy (and vice versa).
Learning to stand quietly in cross-ties (or tied) for grooming and saddling. 
If horse starts pawing, do not allow it. Horse learns not to paw.
If horse shows signs of tension/anxiety by impersonating a giraffe, work on lowering head from pole pressure.

The Ride

Horse learns to stand quietly at mounting block, despite neurotic pasture mate displaying attachment disorder drama.
Work on walk cues, moving off leg.
Work on steering cues, moving away from leg pressure.
Work on stretching "long and low".
Work on halting from the seat aid.
Work on turn on forehand/hind when ponying up to the mailbox.
Horse learns that standing still at the mailbox is no biggy.
Horse learns that mailboxes and my weight shifting off the side of the saddle to get mail and newspaper is no biggy.
Horse learns that other horses, dogs, snowmobiles, and four wheelers are no biggy on a trail ride.

Post Ride

This is mostly the same items as tacking up. 
Additional post-ride cross-tie items include, tack-cleaning, main pulling, and trimming.
Soon I plan to add horse vacuum cleaner to the list.

In Conclusion

When you break down a simple ride into these things, you see that there is actually a lot of training going on and they are all individually things to be worked on. Most of these items tend to get put on the back burner during the "regular riding season". Each and everything on this list can and should be worked on with a young horse. As such there is SO much training that can go on during the winter. Even if the weather is not great for riding, all of the tacking up and post ride items can still be worked on in as little 15 minutes a day and in the long run will provide you with a better trained horse come spring.

The riding item that is in the forefront of the list is Gentry's halt. It is just about as bad as Rose's used to be before I spent the winter I was pregnant working on it. This is because, halting is not something that most baby/green horses instinctively know/care to do (with the exception of when you quickly  throw your weight off balance over the shoulder). After that winter, Rose was a halting rock star and soon Gentry will be too!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!


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