I started out blogging about only my horses…. But I have morphed into blogging about “all the vet’s pets”. It has been quite the week. Poor Kadeen seems to be reacting to something at a local park where we have had our last 3 trail rides. He had a brief bout of conjunctivitis about 10 days ago which seemed to clear up. We went back to the same park last Friday and by Friday night his eyes were a mess. So in addition to being terribly worried about Reilly, I had horse eyes to medicate again. After aggressive therapy, he’s better.
The latest on Reilly is that I must rule out Degenerative Myelopathy. This is Lou Gehrig’s disease in dogs. It is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder that usually shows up around 7-9 years of age but can be anywhere from 7-14. She’s 14. In retrospect, I realize that the peculiar gait abnormalities and occasional unsteadiness that I had attributed to arthritis were harbingers of much worse things to come.
She has had both shoulders injected for severe arthritis and her left rear leg still sports metal plates holding her toes together after she broke all four toes 7 years ago. She has a heart murmur. She’s 14 years old. I just kept thinking she was an old dog so not terribly surprising that she was acting like an old dog. But I had noticed her loss of muscle mass in her back end.
I will be sending off a test to see if she is autosomal recessive for the offending gene. She will see the veterinary neurologist this week, and the physical therapist after July 4th, to develop a plan to keep her as active as possible. It is absolutely horrid to see her fall and pitch and faceplant at every turn. I have four other very active dogs, and just keeping Reilly safe from the herd of wild elephants is a challenge.
Finn has had quite an education in the last few weeks. Part of the reason I have been to the park that is irritating Kadeen’s eyes is that it is one of the few places around here in this drought that I can find water for Finn to cross. I have successfully gotten him into a creek that was too wide to jump, but not without quite the fuss.
The first time I had to ride Kadeen and pony Finn, using the saddle horn to (SAFELY) take the brunt of Finn’s resistance. Finally, he plunged in. That day he wouldn’t do it with just me riding him, but he did do it with my boyfriend ponying him while I rode.
The next time he totally surprised me by just following Kadeen into the water! He makes an attempt to “jump” knowing it is futile and he essentially just jumps 3 feet into the creek. And then he’s fine! The day he entered the water without fuss I actually thought we’d have a “no contest” ride. Sadly, it was not to be. For a brief period intermittently on the trail that day, I made him lead, and he is NOT a confident leader. As we approached one part of the trail where it dropped over an eensie weensie tiny little hill, obscuring the trail below, he pitched a royal fit! I am certain he thought I was going to ride him over a cliff. He did follow Kadeen though…
The third time we rode there he entered the water without too much fuss, but once again pitched a fit at the hill/drop off. This time we went up and down the hill several times, and finally, he would do it himself without needing to tailgate Kadeen.
Hi Ho Silver!
I was going to take him on the trail again on Saturday, hoping for two trail days in a row, but Kadeen’s irritated eyes preempted my plans. So I chose to ride him around home. I was wondering what kinds of things I could challenge him with so we could continue to work on his nasty habit of getting light in the front when he’s tantruming. It really freaks me out when he does that, but it has become a part of his default response and I am growing quite weary of it.
I have gotten to the point where I am ready to ride it out and if he truly does go up high enough to go over. My hope is that I will be prepared to dismount and pull him around and put him on the ground. I essentially did that (somewhat by accident) when he was resisting trailer loading one day. I was backing him up, he went up, and I pulled his head around. The next thing we both knew, he was picking himself up off the ground. It did give him pause and he seems to think a little harder about doing that now, but still does.
Well, I needn’t have worried about finding something to “challenge” him with. He had his own ideas. I always mount from a mounting block. He would not stand still, and threw an immediate tantrum when asked to sidepass to the block and chill out. So off we went to the roundpen where we cantered for at least ten minutes in nice tight circles. And then he remembered how to stand still.
Eventually, we rode out to the pasture. Kadeen was stalled and yelling; Finn was not happy he was working. We had a few fights in the pasture about where to go and how fast to get there. Next, we headed down the driveway. Not doin’ it! So back into the pasture to canter in circles. Okay, maybe I WILL go down the driveway. Lastly, we headed back to the barn.
And the struggle continues…
On the way, we encountered my recently completed gravel oval with the two septic lids exposed and the black rubber edging holding in the gravel. Pretty non-threatening if you ask me… Once again, absolute refusal. How nice that the area around the gravel oval is my nice wide rear circle turnaround, constructed of lime shavings and some gravel. It makes great horse footing! So we cantered around and around the oval, with me periodically offering Finn another chance to end his workout.
It took another 10-15 minutes, but eventually, he decided the gravel was the lesser of two evils. So he crossed it, but you would have thought he was crossing a bed of hot coals!
For our ride the next day, he was great! A couple of minor fights but clearly he was tired and his heart wasn’t in the fight. I hope to ride a couple of times this week, but then I am getting an epidural steroid injection for my unhappy lower back and going off to the lake for a week, so he’ll sit (and get worse again…)
Some days I think I am way too old for this monkey business, but there isn’t another way and I just do my best to BE CAREFUL. How are YOU doing on your journey?