Month: June 2015
We’re going on 2 full weeks of making strides towards recovery, without any major set-backs! He is continuing to be turned out every day for a couple of hours a day. I really attribute this factor to all the progress we’ve been making recently. Although he comes out of the stall, very sore and stiff on most days, he typically works out of it as he walks up to the turnout ring. His stride opens up quite a bit on the sand, and the rubber mats, but the gravel definitely hurts, despite his fancy shoes. He’s made it abundantly clear that he will walk only in the direction he wants to go, otherwise he will plant his feet. I now carry a crop when I walk him in order to “encourage” him to keep walking. His attitude and opinion on where he’d like to go is hysterical. He really is becoming a spoiled yellow horse.
We are still battling bedsores. Both of his hind legs are practically bald, and have some gnarly sores on them. Although they seem to be slowly healing, and sometimes don’t look as angry as they have, I always worry about subsequent infections, proud flesh, or subsequent scar tissue arising from them. I did some research, and learned that putting gauze and duct tape over the sore, will give it time to heal without the continuous rubbing from laying down. The duct tape should be allowed to fall out on it’s own in order to spare him the rest of his hair. So, Tazzy will soon be covered in duct tape, for the sake of experimentation and our feeble attempt at fixing his sores.
On a more positive note: WE HAVE HOOF GROWTH! There is a distinct indentation/line about 1 inch below his coronary band that differentiates the old hoof from the new growth. I’ve never been so happy to see fast growing hooves! Although, he’s still a cripple, I know the first step towards soundness and health is growing new feet. Both his hind feet (unshod) and his front feet (super shod!) are showing signs of new healthy growth. I am hoping that this new growth will help stabilize his bone and make him more comfortable.
Being the “Positive Polly’s” that we are, the yellow horse also proved to me how amazing he really is. Although he appreciates all of the people who stop by to visit and care for him, there is a certain population that he is particularly proud of. He has had many “little” visitors in and out of his stall since he fell ill. The patience and affection that he shows to these little people is heartwarming. He carefully. and respectfully will take treats from their tiny fingers, he’ll allow his head to be hugged, and doesn’t bat an eyelash at flailing arms and legs. My 2 year old niece squealed and attached herself to his leg, and he stood stock still, without a hit of annoyance at the tiny human. He normally does not like to be kissed or fussed over, but with her, he showed affection and allowed her all of the kisses and hugs that he wanted. He made her day when he gently nuzzled her ear – I haven’t stopped hearing about how “Tah-zy” is the best horse in the whole wide world. (If she’s looking for an argument, she won’t be getting one. I wholeheartedly agree!) I am so lucky to love and be able to share such a wonderfully kind being. Despite the pain he may be in, or how annoyed he may be, he always tries to put on a good face. Although I take pride in knowing that I have exposed him to as much of the world as possible – it really is just his personality. He has always taken things in stride. He has always been a laidback, “chill” kind of dude. And he has always loved children. Although his body is starting to age, (he’s 18!) he’s always been an old soul. I hope that he can one day teach my niece, and maybe my own future children to ride.
….I’m planning for the future?!?! Day by day, week by week, he continues to defy the odds. #teamyellow
I’m writing this blog post as I sit on a grassy patch enjoying the sunshine. I currently have the best view in the entire world. Here, let me show you:
We have been turning him out for an hour or two every day since Sunday. He is really enjoying the mental and physical break from the stall. The turn out forces him to move around a bit, which eases the stiffness and improves the circulation of blood to his feet. It also makes him happy. So happy that he spends a few minutes each day calling out to all of the other horses; you know, just in case they didn’t know he was still alive and kicking.
We’ve also been attempting to cut down on the pain medication he receives. We only give him banamine when we feel he needs it, as opposed to twice a day everyday. I’d like him to still have a digestive tract when this nightmare is all said and done with.
Another problem has surfaced since this debacle began. Yellow. Horse. Attitude. He’s becoming quite comfortable with being treated like a king. He has a slew of people in and out of his stall all day, fluffing his bedding, tending to his bedsores, fly spraying him, and giving him love and treats. In Tazzy’s world, he now calls the shots. He’s now taken to playing a game of, “let’s plant my feet and pull people in the direction I would like to go” when being walked outside. It’s hilarious. Wonderful, really. Except when you’re not expecting your crippled horse to yank you in the direction of the barn, thus slamming you into the corner of the building and causing a mild concussion. (The concussion was just added for the woe-is-me factor. Otherwise, you’ll all remain firmly planted on the “Taz does no wrong” side of the fence.)
So this is a celebratory blog post. No teary eyes. Just a bruised elbow from my collision with the barn. A three day celebration of sunny days, both literally and figuratively. A positive outlook on how far we’ve come, makes for an optimistic view of the long road still ahead of us. He may no longer bring home blue ribbons, but he still has the heart (and attitude) of a champion.
On Saturday, Tazzy had a wonderful day. He was up, alert, and enjoyed his little nibbles on grass. The breeze was a wonderful aid in keeping cool, and crossing the parking lot of his own accord was an easily accomplished feat. As they say, all good things must come to an end. So on Sunday, it all came crashing down.
He was down for approximately nine hours, and needed some convincing to get up. My wonderful barn family walked him around and even gave him a quick bath to help refresh him. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite bounce back as quickly as we had hoped. The stiffness was not the only problem. He was really starting to favor one leg over the other, and became pretty lame on his front left. I was hoping it was an abscess, and not a continuation of the damn sinking.
It was a sad sight to see. Tazzy would lay in his stall and bite at his hoof, clearing showing that it pained him. My wonderful farrier came back out as soon as he could on Wednesday, and pulled his shoes off. Not an abscess in sight. He rolled the toe back, and dropped his heel a little more. The Yellow’s broken feet were growing and he needed his shoes to be reset! The video that was text messaged to me, was a bit of a relief. He was walking out stiffly, but without any noticeable favoring of one leg over the other! His hooves are still broken, but he is no longer 3-legged lame. (All four feet are super sore, but “whatevs”. At least he is no longer acting like it’s broken!)
The bedsores are getting pretty bad. Since he’s been spending the last few days laying down, he’s losing all of the hair above his left hock, and his right side isn’t far behind. I worry about whether they are painful, and of course, at the risk of sounding vain, if they are going to heal normally with minimal scar tissue. It’s an ongoing battle, as long as he is spending a significant amount of time laying down, he will continue to have sores. Despite how ugly they are, they are actually pretty insignificant compared to the warzone that is his hooves.
The truth is, I’m growing tired of being optimistic. It’s been 5 weeks, and every time I feel like we’re “up” and making progress, it all comes crashing back down. I struggle everyday with knowing if I’m doing this for the right reasons. Am I putting my best friend through all of this pain and discomfort, only to have to end his life down the road? The idea that, “a day too soon, is better than a minute too late,” has been weighing heavily on me. I will never forgive myself for letting him suffer without just cause.
I watched him hobble around the farm today. I forced him to walk on, despite his painful feet, because I don’t want arthritis to get the best of him. I kissed his velvet muzzle, and frustratingly begged him to eat his medications. I told him we’d beat this.
Then I got in my car. And cried the whole way home. I know there are people fighting harder battles. But this is the hardest battle I’ve had to fight. This is not like my dog, who was too tired to fight, who was suffering with no end in sight. That decision was easy. I was not going to let my companion suffer. This is different. Taz isn’t ready for death. He will never be. The fire in his eye will always be there. He’s a natural born fighter. He’s knocked on death’s door before, and defeated the odds. Waiting for him to tell me when, is futile. Tazzy is the little league team, with false ambition. He knows no limits, there is no clock. I’m the referee. When do I call the Mercy Rule?
Stiffness. Super-de-dooper stiffness. Stall rest is doing exactly what it is supposed to – giving his feet time to heal with minimal concussion from moving on hard ground. Unfortunately, it’s causing him to struggle with being stiff. Although he gets time to graze and go for a short walk every day, the 23.5 hours a day that he spends in his stall is helping his hooves, but destroying his joints. He has spent his 18 years of life with ample turnout and kept in performance shape. For the last thirty-five days, he has not been able to ride, move, or graze. On cool, breezy days – he spends most of his time standing. Once the heat and humidity turns up, he spends an awful amount of time laying down. While this provides relief for his aching hooves, it decreases circulation and causes him to be very stiff. For the first time in two weeks, he needed help getting up and some convincing to get moving.
This. Kills. Me.
I know that this is going to be a long road. And I know that we will have set backs. But I’ve always prided myself in knowing that I’ve taken great care in keeping arthritis at bay. At 18 years old, he was riding the best he ever had, without needing any supplements or joint maintenance. For the first time ever, I’m afraid he will begin to know his own age. He doesn’t know he’s “older.” As far as he’s concerned, he can keep up with the youngest of them. And maybe this love of life, his inability to make anything easy, has been what has kept him afloat through this ordeal. I worry that he’s going to take notice; that he’s going to grow tired, and that he’ll want to quit. I’m not ready for that. I’ll never be ready for that.
So I did what I always do: consulted the experts in loving a yellow horse. Although stall rest is the typical “protocol,” it’s as damaging to his joints as it is beneficial to his hooves. I discussed with my trainer, the owner of the barn, and our vet, and we all agreed that restricted turnout in a small sand paddock, for just an hour or two a day, will not be harmful to his healing hooves, and will certainly ease the stiffness. The mental reprieve of getting out of his stall will be a welcomed distraction.
To end this on a positive note, he has been a very patient patient (See what i did there?) He’s always disappointed to end his walk, but keeps his protest to a simple longing look at the grass. He welcomes everyone into his stall for treats and cuddles, and even eats all of his medications. He’s a spoiled yellow horse who has enjoyed visits from his now grown-up little girls, an unwavering supply of treats, and a fancy turbo stall fan for his cooling pleasure. In short, he is being the wonderful soul he’s always been.