Tuesday, August 9, 2022

F*** around and find out!

JT had a new course set for this Monday's lesson. As I was hacking Ben around the field while Ms. GY finished up her lesson I was eyeing the line of one strides thinking that they looked suspiciously not in a straight line. Sure enough, the 4 cross rail 1 strides were on a gentle curve that could be ridden in either direction! Spoiler alert, we didn't die in them and it was actually super fun! JT had named the new course "F*** around and find out!", set intentionally to get us all thinking more quickly. 

Ben warmed up feeling GREAT! He felt supple and responsive and I think is SO happy that I am (mostly) not pulling on the right rein. He's finally starting to trust that and supple from my leg rather than stiffening to brace. Probably his chiro and acupuncture last week aren't hurting that either... 

We played with forward and back at the canter. JT was emphasizing keeping my back moving even when trying to collect the canter. I asked how to half halt with my abs while doing that and she said "bear with me, we're going to go a little woo-woo but it will all make sense." She explained that basically she half-halts with her abs in the trot, but in the canter it is a ball of energy in the hips. When you extend the canter, that ball of energy moves bigger and hips move bigger. When you collect that ball moves in a smaller area, much more subtle, but still moving. We tried the canter one more time to put it into practice and the first time I asked him to collect he immediately lifted up and collected. I actually shouted out "THAT is so COOL!" It's our homework to keep playing with that feeling - the foundation for canter-walks later. The half-halt from the abs will be the downward transition itself, but the canter in place feeling with the hips holding that bouncy ball of energy in a smaller area is how you get the canter to make that transition from. 

After our warm up cross rail, we got sent through 3 tiny cross rail bounces. He sucked back a bit at the first, but figured his feet out. Then we came the other way over them to a 4 stride oxer. We then turned right to come into the left curve of four one-stride cross rails (side note, I always struggle with how I'm going to write the number of jumps then the striding of the jump... is there a better system?). It went super smoothly, makes sense, he wants to drift left anyways. We came back through the one strides with the right bend and still managed to make it flow pretty well. It was just plain FUN to ride. 

Then we repeated the bounces to oxer to one strides and added a left turn to another oxer, bending line left six strides to another fence, bending line right five strides to the oxer that had come after the bounces. Holy cow! The whole thing just flowed so nicely. JT's one correction was to get my work done in the six stride bending line earlier. I had kinda f'ed around for the first two strides then remembered to sit up and ride. 

We then started with the one stride line, the left bending line, then right bending line, then added on a two stride to a four stride slightly angled line. He just powered right through the two stride and felt great. I sat up and lifted him up and the four stride flowed really well too. 

She asked if I felt like we needed to do the two stride line because there would probably be one at the show this weekend (decided to do the Novice CT on Saturday at Majestic). Since we have epically flailed and failed in those before I said I wanted to. He was sticky and tight on the in and so we had to launch and scramble for the out. She had set them at training height though, which I think threw my eye off a bit. We still sat up and did the five strides to the next jump though. She had us come back through and we got the same tight spot in. He was much more willing to go forward that time though. We took a break and then did it a third time. I got the exact same freaking short spot, but that time without my having to push for it, he stepped up and lengthened his stride so the out felt better. Good boy Ben!!! 

Tight in

Powering out - picture admittedly looks better than this felt

It is crazy to think 3 weeks ago we were flailing around and I felt like it was going to be months before we put ourselves back together. 

Friday, August 5, 2022

Needle Adventures

I volunteered Ben to be a demo horse for the acupuncture course running right now at the Chi institute. It's only about 30 minutes away from us, so that is what we spent this morning doing. He loaded easily and travelled okay. He still does much more shifting around when he's stuck in the straight load position than when he had the box stall. He looked around a bit when we arrived, but settled right down as soon as he had a cluster of adoring fans. It was a mixed animal group, so some of the students did not have much horse handling experience. There was one instructor and five students working on him. 

The first half of the morning was identifying the points on the list for the students to learn today. He was a very good sport as long as someone was paying attention to him. 

He LOOOOOOVED the attention

And was very relaxed

In spite of FL being awful hot right now, it was pretty pleasant under the covered arena with some of those "big ass fans" running

He actually did a lot of yawning and licking and chewing along with a couple big stretches, hind leg out behind, hind leg up under, and whole body cat stretch. It seemed like the pressure from the students' fingers on the points was doing him some good. Or he just was enjoying hanging out in the cool with his person. I didn't realized how much he has identified me as his person until I handed him off to run and use the bathroom. As I left he tried to follow and when I came back, he put his eyes on me as soon as I came out of the bathroom door. So adorable. 

He was an incredibly good sport for the whole thing. He was pleasantly patient for the people trying to pick up his feet by randomly pushing on his knee and then dropping the whole foot. He let them palpate points on the medial stifles and on the ventral abdomen cranial to the sheath. He did not love when they counted ribs to find certain points, but he expressed that by moving away from their poking, not too dramatic at at all. All around very good boy. 

We took a 20 minute break after point ID time and then started on an accupuncture session when we got back. First they asked some questions like:
"does he like other horses?" yes
"does he prefer the sun or shade" shade, but honestly what horse doesn't right now...?
"has he ever been aggressive towards humans or other animals?" nope, he is the very nicest person
"what are his faults?" spookiness! 

Those answers combined with the fact that he came back from the break bright eyed and bushy tailed and perturbed that he was not the center of attention at that moment, got him identified as a fire type. The instructor said before the break she would have called him an earth, but after he was a bit... brighter. He wasn't being bad at all, but he was trying to stuff his whole face into each students space, one by one, and get them to give him scratches or let him obsessively lick their hands. 

They also looked at his tongue and mouth. His mouth was deemed a bit dry - no surprise there and probably explained by the fact that he apparently sucks at drinking while travelling. I need to start bringing gatorade or something because even water from home didn't coax him into drinking during the break. His tongue was called pale with a bit of purple. 

Then the instructor scanned him using the round end of a pen to run over specific points. It was pretty cool to watch and hear the descriptions. She was careful to specify that points can be local soreness or can indicate problems in distant places. She also showed scanning an area that didn't contain any points so that could be used as a negative control. He was pretty relaxed with the control area, she said not a typical TB. He was positive to a number of his bladder points over his lumbar area. She said it was pretty highly unlikely he had problems with all those corresponding organs, so it was more likely local soreness. He was positive to his right front foot points, makes sense given the TWO MONTH abscess saga. He was also sore all down his back on his left as opposed to just the lumbar area on the right. He was negative to both hocks and stifles which was nice to see. 

Then they came up with a plan and started taking turns putting in needles. He was SUPER for it. 

He was so good he even got hooked up to the electroacupuncture, which the instructor said she normally did not do the first time. 

Hooked up the electroacupuncture to cross the sore area of his back on this side (aka the whole thing) 

After he was unhooked, she scanned him again and he was much less reactive. I'd seen this with Zinger back in the day, but it was really cool to see Ben enjoying it and benefiting as well! Overall a fun, if a bit long, morning. 

If you are local to the area, these labs are open on a first respond to email basis for horses that are well behaved. You also get a free herbal supplement (Ben's instructor selected Qi Performance for him - I need to pick it up the next time I work in Ocala). They're pretty flexible about it, a few of the horses this morning were not loving the needles themselves, but as long as they are well behaved for the touching part of things, it doesn't seem like the coordinators minded too much (with the exception of the horses they recruit for the exam portion). 

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Jump and turn

Ben and I had another jump lesson on Monday. We started by walking over the liver pool on a loose rein, the same approach JT uses for ditches. When he hesitated and I urged him forward, she told me he was allowed to hesitate. He was not allowed to turn away or back up, but he could pause and think about it. After he was actually stepping in the liver pool she added a rail and we trotted back and forth on a loose rein until it was NBD. We've jumped the liver pool before, but he has certainly spent a lot of time spooking at it while not jumping it, so I think breaking it down like this for him probably gave him more confidence than just flying over it because that's what he is supposed to do.

Then we moved on to a slightly wider version of the right "S" turn from last week. Which actually went better this time around, I was focused on pushing him through the turn not pulling. From there we moved to a left hand roll back then right bending line to a two stride. We landed on the right lead after the first jump and took WAY too long to trot to swap leads. He does flying changes, but about half the time they are not clean, so we're trying to only do simple changes. This theme of taking WAY too long to trot continued throughout the lesson. I am the problem here, I still am struggling to SIT the F down after the jump and ride. I was much better about adding leg than last week, but butt in the saddle and shoulders back is still totally a work in progress. The second go of the wonder bit (turns out that's not what it is called, see the end of this post) and figure 8 felt great still, so I'm currently shopping. Just enough lift to help me get him back much easier, although clearly I still have to ride so that we can do a trot transition... 

After the two stride line, both of us were kind of off in la-la land, him shooting forward a bit and me not asking him to do any differently until, oh, I don't know, 10 strides later. So after going through the first short course a couple of times, JT added a 90 degree left turn after the two stride line to her unicorn jump. I gave her quite a look and she said she was sure we could do it. What do ya know, actually having to do something rather than yahoo around, I sat down after the two stride and turned and he responded and we did it! He loooooves to spook at the unicorn jump and she added a left hand rail to prevent the left drift, so he sucked back a few strides out, but leg went on and he powered forward. We did it again to smooth it out some and it went really well. So then she added a right hand turn to a one stride line. The first time through I choked a bit, but again he went forward and took care of it. So the second time I helped him out more and actually sat up in between the fences and supported. 

We had repeatedly gotten funky distances to the two stride though, I didn't quite trust he was going to go from the long spot, so I was holding to the chip. JT paused for a minute to describe seeing distances. You spend the first part of a turn building the canter you want to jump out of, but by the time you are finishing the turn, your eyes are glued on the top rail of the first fence and you are finding the distance and then riding to it. That riding to it may mean adding a bit of power to move up to the longer spot, or sitting up and compressing a bit (still with power) to the tighter spot so that neither spot is that much of an adjustment the last two strides. Before she told me this, I would have sworn to you that I was staring at the top rail of the in jump the WHOLE time. But... yeah... totally was not. When I did do that, it was SUCH A DIFFERENCE. Like, I saw my spot and I rode him confidently forward to it. WOAH! I guess I'd been flipping back and forth between the in and out jump and also not just using "soft eyes" and peripheral vision to see around the turn, but flicking back and forth to ride the turn. 

I think in a horse like him that needs confidence from his rider, feeling that difference in me made a huge difference in him. I can also only assume that it builds confidence to get it right rather than be kicked forward into the wrong spot. 

Overall, it was an awesome, confidence building lesson. He felt great and I made some major improvements from last week. He was doing so much less of the left drift as well, it was reassuring. JT had mentioned last week she didn't know if it was weakness, habit, or.. and kinda trailed off... yeah, I don't want to consider if it is a soundness thing either, thank you! So it was great to feel that as he is getting stronger, we are able to correct it, meaning it is most likely strength, habit, and bad riding. 

There is ZERO media though, boo, I still need to start getting Ms. GY to whip out the camera to record some. JT is pretty good about getting some when she can and is remarkably talented at filming and coaching (and driving a golf cart), but obviously usually focuses most on coaching rather than filming! 

I'm going to try to make it down to JT again on Friday after Ben is a demo horse for an acupuncture lab. And then Ms. GY and I are planning on going again next Monday. After that we'll try to get out to Majestic (still unsure if this will be the CT or just schooling their stadium ring) and then do the Sweet Dixie schooling days at the end of the month. 

As I started shopping for the bit right after posting this, the term "wonder bit" was not giving me at all what I wanted. A thorough browse through Dover and harassing of JT tells me that it is actually a Nunn Finer Oval Link Shaped Mouthpiece Cartwheel bit (dunno why I didn't come up with that on my own). I'm not sure why/when I decided it was called a wonder bit, but the beauty below with the mouth full of a name is now on its way to me.  

Monday, August 1, 2022

July Wrap Up... Ben'Jammin Style

July struggles...
  • Where oh where has our horsey brain gone, oh where oh where could it be?? But we came up with a plan to get him back to his prior self that includes returning to full night turnout and then full turnout at the GY's, chiro, training rides, and gastrogard.
  • Very sore back at our chiro appointment on the 8th... possibly related to saddle fit? In true horse style, the saddle that looks like it fits better (dressage saddle) is the one that made him sore. 
  • Thrush in right front and right hind foot. Cleared up with "today" mastitis treatment.
July successes... 
  • Being back under saddle AT ALL! 
  • On the 9th we had a FANTASTIC ride. Probably a combination of being back in my jump saddle, acquiescing and letting him be in the ring not the field, and starting Gastrogard.
  • Front shoes back on! He was also negative to hoof testers all around on both front feet before getting the shoes back on. Thank you keratex and easy boots! 
  • Both saddles adjusted - channel made more narrow. But the dressage saddle still doesn't make him happy, sadly. 
  • Training rides with JT. In which she discovers he needs grids like woah. And likes to hold his breath and spook when leg is put on. But also says he is a NICE and scopey horse. And that training and even prelim shouldn't be a problem for him... 
  • Moving back to the GY's. I love JT and love her barn. So does Ben. But a 5 minute drive is... 9x better than a 45 minute drive. Especially in the summer. Especially when her barn is on the way to work so for miles driven it makes sense to go straight to work from JT's. My coworkers are probably grateful too. 
15 rides, the majority of them being walk/trot hacks. 2 lessons, one of which was a train wreck, welcome back to jumping. The other, the very next day, went much more smoothly. 

JT had a number of training rides while she had him for 9 days while I was out of town. 

A name change... just made it official with USEA this morning, I'm going to compete him under his JC name of "This Way To Heaven". Ben'Jammin is a fantastic name, and he'll always be Ben. But I LOVE that he is a super fancy TB and would like him to be more easily recognized as a TB at shows. And that's a pretty excellent JC name.

Looking forward to August... 
  • Possibly a CT on 8/13, but more likely nothing show wise until 8/26 when we plan on going to a jumper schooling show 
  • Cross country schooling for the first time back since April! 
  • Decisions about where Ben will be living
  • Hopefully continued forward progress as a big, brave trail pony! 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Turning into a trail pony?

Ben was the BEST horse yesterday for a walk around the neighborhood. He walked ON THE BUCKLE for most of the ride. He only spooked once at a squirrel and quickly regained his composure. 

I'm not sure what happened, it was about 93 degrees, hence the walk only ride, and also day 6/6 for rides. And he's going out with the whole 5 horse herd at this point so maybe he's worn out from new social interactions. But in any event, I have never been able to just hold the buckle and have him walk with a loose, swinging back out on trails. 

Tacked up, about to head out, his mane looking much more civilized than it actually is right now

At least we were mostly in the shade while we rode

Walking past a house with geese and goats without batting an eye

He gave the cows a long hard look, but kept his feet moving forward. The look didn't escalate into a spook in place like he has sometimes done. 

I am so so happy with this, I've been trying to turn him into a solid trail pony since I got him (because what else do you do with your fancy new event horse). 

Friday, July 29, 2022

In which Ben is surprisingly adaptable

Ben moved to the GY's on Tuesday after our jump lesson. It had been in the works since I purchased him, but his ::ahem:: lengthy abscess saga had delayed it. I LOVE JT and Ben LOVED being there. But it is 45 minutes from my house. We may yet spend some of the fall or winter with JT so that we can be in twice weekly lessons or training rides, but for the heat of the summer, we're settled back in at the GY's. With my late night work schedule, being able to get up at 9 or 10 and be at the barn 5 minutes later is awesome. 

Ben loaded right up into his fancy box stall trailer. He came to me really good about loading then went through a short phase of needing a tap with a dressage whip, but now that I have made the trailer suit him, he is back to walking right on. He eats hay when we're stationary, but I'm pretty sure he travels slanted backwards, like the general internet says horses prefer to ride. 

When he arrived, he didn't even have his back feet off the ramp before he was head down in the grass. NOMS. We put him out in the 8 acre field and left everyone else in the barn yard. He was remarkably sane. Everyone in the barn galloped around like loons, but he did some trotting, a brief canter, and then mostly ate grass. 

Introductions to others + to electric fence 

My friend said he looked blue roan in this picture... You too can have a blue roan if you mix sweaty bay with sugar sand! 

Grazing after our ride yesterday

He went out by himself Tuesday and then got introduced to Mr. GY's horses on Wednesday. They made an adorable little herd of bay TB geldings. He had been by himself in the small pasture overnight, but last night apparently decided he was part of the herd and started pitching a fit when the others went out front. Ms. GY put her gelding in the barn yard to keep him company. Initially her gelding was charging at Ben over the fence, as he does with new horses, but Ben was not impressed especially on the other side of the fence. By the morning, they were scratching withers over the fence. 

This morning they went out together and there was ZERO drama

We added Ms. GY's other horse to the mix this morning and again there was very little drama. Her horse mostly just wanted to sniff Ben's butt. Mr. GY's older gelding was pushing Ben around a bit, but he doesn't do anything more than pin his ears. 

We're going to put Mr. GY's younger TB back into the herd tomorrow, then they will be one happy herd all together. We took him out for the intros this morning because if anyone is going to start running, it will probably be him. 

Overall Ben has been SUPER good here. There's a lot to look at and neighbors through trees doing things, so I was expecting him to be a bit up, but he has been really very focused. We took a short trail ride today to the hay field to do a trot set. He was PERFECT for that. It did take us... 3 times as long as it should to walk back up the 8 acre field to the barn. We had started out tacking up with Ms. GY and I think he was looking for her horse the second we got back in the field. We just did a lot of turning around when he started to prance down the field and then a few halts until he could actually sigh and relax. 

In annoying news, my dressage saddle STILL makes his back sore even after several adjustments. Everyone agrees it looks great on him, but his back disagrees. So just working in the jump saddle for the time being. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Something worth writing

My content on here has most definitely been lacking lately, especially in comparison to last year. The whole of 2022 has actually felt a bit that way. A lease horse that was going to be up for sale then as soon as he became my horse, an abscess that sidelined him for two months and made me contemplate quitting horses altogether. And then figuring out the emotional side of the horse who was on stall rest for 2 weeks and is more emotional than any other horse I've had. Not that the emotional side of things is not worth writing about. To the contrary. But I am completely muddling my way through it, trying different tactics, and not really feeling like I have anything useful to add to a dialogue about spooking and overflowing emotions. 

To summarize that muddling for posterity, Gastrogard was the most useful part of the whole thing. It enabled Ben to actually come back to earth between spooking at things. It did not stop spooking, but he could definitely check back in wayyyyy better rather than just escalating. 

We're finally back on track for something more akin to last year's excited lesson updates. Ben spent last week in JT's hands while I was in New York with family. I got some interesting updates

"Couple things- I’ve been working on getting him moving off the leg better. Some of the spookiness comes from how much he holds his breath and clutches when leg goes on, we are sorting that out. The other thing is he’s too down into the bridle coming to the jumps and then gets onto his left shoulder. If we can fix the self carriage and straightness this is a hell of a horse"

1. Always nice to have your trainer say the horse is a hell of a nice horse. 
2. I'd felt that with the leg on, but couldn't verbalize it or fix it. The spurs improved the response, but also felt a bit like I was just managing to be stronger than his breath holding and push him forward in spite of it. Not that he had actually let go and moved freely forward. 
3. Getting onto his left shoulder. You'll recall I love to pull with my right hand. I'm sure that's really helping him :: sarcasm:: Or I could have actually created that problem. 

Chicken or egg with that right hand and his left shoulder. I've tried telling myself you can't pull a horse straight and was working on that coming to jumps prior to our extended break. Also sorry for the repeat pictures. We may get to another show at some point, and I'll get some fresh material.

JT continued on and said she popped him over a few jumps with just a couple jumps that were over 3' and even with the strength he is lacking it was dead easy for him. Except for the spooking and chipping to the base that made holding his shape to the base a little hard for him. She said she wanted to get him through some grids soon. I totally agree and am excited to do grids again. 

Bounce x 4 to a 1 stride with Yoshi last fall

So with these things in mind, I had two lessons back to back on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Monday was... a hot mess. I haven't jumped since the end of April. We started out well enough, but fell apart when we had to do an S turn of jumps. The left turn we managed, but it wasn't pretty. The right turn (shocking) fell completely apart and we stuttered to a stop in front of the fence. 

The general problems broke down as follows: 
  1. He is BIG and appropriately forward feels, well, horrifyingly fast right now. If you'll recall back when I started jumping him, we crashed/launched/I almost fell off through a two stride that we tried to fit... more than two strides into. Because his 12 foot stride feels HUGE compared to Yoshi's. Because properly forward felt SO fast, I was not adding leg. Basically we would stutter over one jump, land and he'd launch forward and down as compensation for the lack of forward over the jump. I'd pull to try to restore an UP balance and then we'd lose our impulsion of any kind and we'd slog our way down to the next fence. 
  2. That pesky left drift. I think it is mostly a strength/habit thing, he feels wonderfully sound right now. But without any leg, that left drift is fairly significant the last two strides. 
  3. I struggled to sit my butt down and was just pulling BACK while leaning forward at him through the turns. Ineffective way to half halt. 
Uhm. Once I typed those, there are fewer than I thought and all go back to really one problem - lack of leg! I spent my drive to work that day and my drive to the barn the next morning trying to put a default of "add leg" into my subconscious. 

Tuesday was MUCH better. Monday felt like a serious LESSON in that there were so many things that we worked on improving. Tuesday felt like a lesson, with more bite sized pieces vs. unhinge your jaw and swallow the whole damn lesson in one bite. We switched Ben to a wonder bit with a figure eight bridle. After warmup we started on the same S turn of three fences. The second and third he drifted left HARD and JT asked to get on him. She got on and kept him straight. WOWWWWW he can seriously jump when he is held accountable for being straight and lined up. It massively helped my feel of pace watching her on him. 

After she got off, she put an angled rail on the left side of every fence we jumped. About 5 strides out from the first one he eyed it pretty hard, but still went forward, good boy. I had a much easier time sitting down and half-halting up. The deal with trying the wonder bit was that it would give him more lift up, but I COULD NOT pull back on his face in it. I thought the "hands to the jump" every single jump and the whole thing went a million times better. We even did a two stride line fairly well. The first time through he got long to the first and I got left, but thanks to his rides with JT, he powered forwards and put two in and jumped out nicely. The second time through, in spite of making a different turn, I got the same slightly long spot. It's funny, Yoshi LOVED the slightly gappy spot, I think his secret inner dream was to be a hunter. Ben on the other hand has been a firm believer in fitting in an extra half stride there. But now he will take the longer spot and do it pretty athletically too. I was more prepared the second time through and just sat up and rode in between and he jumped out beautifully. Good boy. 

Then I loaded him up and moved him up to the GY's. But that's a post for another day. 

Headless horse, but a look at how he gets to travel now... made my two horse into a single box stall which he greatly appreciates

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

WW: Shoe Day!

Brand new shoes today, hooray!

Both of us making good life choices yesterday. He actually handled this just fine, thankfully.

A more relaxing photo

Sunday, July 10, 2022

The good and bad in a different species...

Neither part A or B of this post are horse related. BUT... the first part felt too important not to share and the second is important to my personal animal life, so it's going on here. 

The good first... 

I attended a conference on Friday and Saturday that focused on feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) in cats. FIP is an "uncommon presentation of a common disease". FIP is a disease caused by mutation of the feline enteric corona virus within an individual cat. The seroprevalence of feline enteric corona virus is between 26-78% of cats. Typically when cats are infected, they may have no signs or may develop a fever, diarrhea, or lymphadenopathy. Regardless, most recover and never look back. However, in some cats the immune system does not respond properly, and they develop FIP. FIP comes in a "wet" form or a "dry" form. The wet form is characterized by development of abdominal effusion or pleural effusion with a thick, sticky yellow fluid. The dry form is trickier to diagnose and is characterized by granulomas forming on various organs, even sometimes within the central nervous system and eyes. FIP is the number one cause of neurologic signs in young cats.  

Prior to 2016, FIP was uniformly fatal. Yep, 100% fatality rate, most within days to weeks of diagnosis. To make that even worse, it is a disease that tends to affect younger cats, most under the age of 5, some as young as a few months. 

Then in 2016, UC Davis published a study with an anti-viral drug GC376 showing a 30% survival rate. This drug was less effective against the neurologic and ophthalmic forms. But still, going from 0%, this was huge. Even better though, clinical trials of GC376 were followed by clinical trials of GS-441524 that showed a survival rate of 96% if those who died or were euthanized within the first two weeks were excluded. Even with including those cats, the survival rate was 81%. 

Feline enteric corona virus has been around forever (discovered in 1963, but who knows how long it has existed), but in 2019... yeah... so there was all of a sudden a huge interest in things that might treat corona viruses. GS-441524 is the pro-drug of remdesivir, one of the anti-virals used in treatment of Covid-19. The patent-holder of GS-441524, Gilead Sciences, has withheld animal rights to GS-441524. And remdesivir has a limited distribution according to the US government. So veterinarians cannot write prescriptions for remdesivir. 

But trials have proceeded in Australia and the UK showing similar stunning success rates for a disease that was once considered a death sentence. And... people are resourceful everywhere, and here in the US, so there are facebook groups such as FIP Warriors 5.0 that will help people with cats diagnosed with FIP find treatment. Veterinarians CANNOT purchase or touch these "black-market" drugs. But they can direct people where to connect with other people whose cats have been diagnosed with FIP. And they can help monitor treatment and monitor the resolution of bloodwork abnormalities. They can also share tidbits like make sure the cat is weighed frequently so that ANY medications can be dosed appropriately. 

And the patent for GC376 was acquired by Anivive, they have been developing the medication and should be bringing it to market within the next few years! Then there will be a totally above-board treatment for FIP in the US. 

Anyways, this is just super, super exciting, and I know a few people who read have feline friends as well, so I thought it might be potentially useful to share this. 

The bad... 

Pico has stage 2 chronic kidney disease. She's only 6.5 years old, so she's young for that diagnosis. And far too young for a diagnosis that has a median survival time of 1156 days. I'm coming to terms with it; it is a very treatable disease. But not a curable one. For whatever reason she's had multiple renal infarcts and even a central nervous system infarct once (weird, rapidly resolving neuro signs), but alllllll of her coagulation testing comes back normal. All I can do is treat the kidney disease and hope that she stops infarcting her kidneys. We may end up putting her on plavix, but we're waiting until we recheck her abdominal ultrasound in 6 months. Because there's not great evidence it would help, and true to cat form, medicating her is just a joy for everyone involved.

Supervising bathroom door replacement

She is clinically felling much better though. And after a short hunger strike, she has accepted her new kidney diet. My husband promises to be the voice of reason when it comes to making the hard end of life decision. But she's a pretty vocal and active cat, so I don't think I'll have too hard of a time deciding that one either; it is what I owe her for being such a wonderful companion. 

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Sound of body and...

Ben has a box of gastrogard sitting in my living room right now... we've gone back to "work" which for right now means 30-40 minutes walking with 5-10 minutes trotting. Poor kid is very spooky right now though. He doesn't DO anything, he just tosses his head, prances a bit, tries to escape forward, etc etc. Certainly not dangerous, but not really conducive to walking with relaxation and swing through his back either. And not pleasant for either one of us. 

After all he has been through the past few months, I would not be surprised if he had ulcers, so we're giving gastrogard a go to see if that helps. In a week he'll get shoes back on the fronts and can go back to full time night turnout. I'm hoping that will help as well because he does play a good bit in the pastures. 

For now we just try to keep our shit together, and I try to lower my expectations. He is not Yoshi, Leila, or Zing. He has genuine fears that rattle his cage and he struggles to put himself back together after that happens. Whether or not I find it rational that a small bird flitting in the bushes near us spooks him, it does. I would do better to accept him for who he is as a person in all facets of life. (While still trying to rule out medical issues that could contribute to this right now)

I've stumbled across "rabbit practice" on the chronicle forums over the years and always kinda blown past it because I had horses who were naturally very brave and steady. But it seems like it might be productive for Ben. 

I am also incredibly glad we went through this in the summer. I can't imagine adding winter friskies to the mix. 

He did get the privilege of grazing off lead in the barnyard. I was hiding from the sun in the shade right by him, the lead just wasn't long enough to let him get the good stuff without me roasting. He handled the privilege well. 

It's hard to be motivated to really delve into blogging about our should-be-boring rides right now. But I think his mental state does deserve more attention because my "pretend it isn't happening" isn't particularly working. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The most exciting caseous material ever

Last Saturday Ben and I went for a really very pleasant tack walk. We meandered down the road from the farm and then got a bit swarmed by yellow flies. This led to a bit of trotting down the road to lose the 10+ flies we had acquired. He was FANTASTIC and trotted politely and then walked politely.

Later that day, JT's working student texted me: 

She'd cleaned some of that white goo away before photographing, but said that when she took off his Easyboot there was a disgusting smell

Yay!!! Weird that it ruptured out of the frog, but maybe it was centrally located and so putting pressure both medial and lateral?? No clue. 

BUT! He feels sound and great! We've been adding in a bit of intentional trotting to our tack walking now. He's progressively getting his mind back in the groove too, yesterday our ride only had a middle section of flailing as opposed to Monday where it was mostly flailing. Yesterday he really seemed to respond to reassurance as well; Monday he was a tightly wound spring that couldn't relax. I'm doing 30-40 minutes of walk with 5-10 minutes of trot right now. I was trying to just do 5 yesterday, but once he spooks at something one of the best ways to get him to settle again is to put him to work for a few minutes, so we had a few extra trot circles. We're going to stick to just 30-60 minutes of walk and 5-10 minutes of trot until he gets front shoes with pads. Slow and steady to build him back up again, mentally and physically. 

Until he gets shoes back on he is also restricted to his 5-6 hours of turnout in hoof boots in the morning. It's just too hot to leave him out longer and it is just too wet to go out overnight with boots that trap ALL the moisture on his feet. But the second week of July we'll have shoes back on and can go back to full time regular turnout. A few weeks after that, I'll move him to the GY's. 

I was using the super long line/lunge line so I could stand in the shade while he grazed. He's just the most handsome <3