Thursday, February 25, 2016

Stress Level Britney

This has been a rough couple of days, but Yankee is steadily improving! I think I am losing my damn mind when it comes to coordinating his care in MO before he is strong enough to travel home to Ohio. So again, this will be disjointed at best.

I have LOVED seeing the outpouring of support, and again I am sorry I haven't been individually able to respond. 

He is now eating hay freely, still on antibiotics and IV though, and we have yet to know what caused the infection in his bowels. However, he can be released to the rehab farm this week! A whole week early- go Yankee!

Not only did I have to solidify boarding plans, but also transportation, care, grain, hay AND a farrier appt, since he is now almost overdue. I have been in constant contact with over 10 people regarding this mess and I might actually rip my hair out. In addition to MO plans, there's also the preplanning required for his arrival in OH. He will need limited access to pasture for 60 days, so I have to rebuild our paddock fencing (we tore it all down when I moved B and sold Lilly), locate a hay supplier, reorganize my barn/clean it out (it is now full of tractors, lawnmowers and my dad's shit) and get bedding and buckets. Not to mention, carving out time with work to go and get him when he can come home ...

Oh my god. I'm going insane. Please, don't let me shave my hair...

flashback to 2007
Anyways, with all of this going on, I am happy it for a good reason. Yankee is doing well and CAN go home. I always need to take a step back and remember how lucky I am to have him still in my life.

Also, luckily, thanks to an old friend, she saw my last post and gave me the contact information of a person with an OTTB who is unsound to ride, but still young in years and in need of a temporary home. 

How. Freaking. Perfect.

So as of now, Yankee even has a buddy lined up! I really hope everything transitions smoothly, but as we all know, with horses, that may not happen.

Introducing, Yankee's possible buddy and Bacardi's twin, Braggles!

Doesn't he look EXACTLY like B??
I think I have everything in order, but I also think the stress has caused me to fall ill...I have some insane upper respiratory thing going on and I might actually drown in my own mucus.

Bacardi is doing well too, and we've actually been riding. More on that later, but here's a pic of him doing what he does best, looking like a giraffe.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Colic Surgery Rundown

If you're not all caught up, The OG had colic surgery late Friday night and is now slowly recovering. Quite possibly the worst 24 hours of my life, and nothing I want to repeat ever again. The second Yankee went into surgery, I went on Smartpak and played with Bacardi's supps and applied for ColiCare. He was approved and coverage starts next month, and I feel a little relieved with that. We had actually just cancelled Yankee's insurance, so that was a major learning lesson. Unfortunately, he is never eligible again for colic insurance, since he had surgery and now is considered high risk, which is frustrating.

Again, thank you all for the well-wishes! I haven't been able to respond to everyone, but I have read them. Thank you!

So for those of you who've never been in this situation (praying that remains) I'll give a brief rundown of how it unfolded. The worst part was that I am 4 states away from The Precious, and Jackie was calling/texting, the vet was calling me and my mom and we were all trying to stay in the loop and make decisions. That was the worst. Jackie might be the real hero here, since she made the wise decision to take him to the hospital, kept her cool, and essentially stayed awake for 48 hours straight. SAINT.

It all started about 9 AM on Friday when Jackie texted me after receiving a call from her barn that Yankee was down in the field, colicking and she was leaving work to go be by his side. The vet was called and it looked grim. In all my previous bouts of colic (7 with my own horses unfortunately, 4 with Yankee) it was mild and generally cleared up in a a few hours. Its always scary, but this was horrifying. 

I cant even explain the jolting terror coursing through my body when she said that the vet felt torsion of his gut and a displaced spleen. They weren't sure about impaction either, so the vet oiled him, and tried to manually rotate his organs back in place through a rectal exam, and the plan was to wait a few hours and see if he improved. 

My guess is the wild temperature change caused him to begin to colic and then being out all night, he just rolled his insides out of place. Horses, y u so sensitive??

He was worsening by the hour, and Jackie made the snap decision to take him to the hospital. Its about a 3 hour drive, so the sooner the better. I believe it this time it was about 3PM. I was quite literally, panicking. 

This entire time, I was at work, pretending I was't dying of anxiety. I ended up charging my phone 4 times that day, I was on it so much texting back and forth with Jackie and my mother. Also, my heart was racing all day with worry. I have a FitBit and it captured all the drama with my HR monitor; the spikes in HR prove a pretty accurate timeline of all the news I received throughout the day.

Kind of cool? Stress is tracked hahaha
Then, of course, a tire on the trailer blew on the way to the hospital. Fantastic. She told me this and I literally wanted to die. Like, what else? I felt terrible she was having to deal with this and I was completely useless all the way in Ohio. They had to unload him in order to change the tire, and he was a true champion and didn't bat an eyeball. I seriously love that horse. I don't think Bacardi would cooperate like this.

By 6:30 PM my time, they finally arrived at the hospital. Jackie said the vets swarmed immediately, and he just stood there, being poked and prodded all over. She said at one point he had a tube down his nose, his belly was tapped, they were giving a rectal exam and getting an IV on him and he just stood there, lifeless. 

Around 7:15 PM my time, they had him stabilized and called us with updates. Mom and I were at dinner with some people, trying to seem normal, but we got the call and rushed to the bathroom. They were explaining what they found with radiographs, X-rays and other preliminary tests. The belly tap showed elevated levels of white blood cells and fluid in the abdomen. With the X-ray/radiographs, they confirmed his organs were out of place. Usually, the trailer rides jolts the spleen back in place, but it did not. They also explained they were giving him a drug to raise his blood pressure and hopefully get the spleen to fall back into place. I was holding back tears as they ere explaining that in 10% of "older" horses, it causes them to bleed out. She then asked what our monetary cap on euthanization was. At this point, I literally blacked out. I don't remember what was said, or done, I just remember later my mom hugging me and telling me it was going to be okay and she wouldn't let Yankee die. They then said they were going to observe him overnight and call in the AM regarding possibly going in for surgery. It seemed all was settling down. I tried to calm down.

The kicker was the money. I obviously could not afford a $7000-9000 surgery and they wanted the money up front before surgery was even started. My parents stepped up without me even asking,  taking in the burden and footed the bill, for which I am eternally grateful. There are no words to explain, I think everyone knows how harrowing of a decision that could be. My mother especially loves Yankee, and he's been with us for so long. On my own, he most likely would have been put down, which I can't even begin to think about. Sure, he's "just a horse" to outsiders, but Yankee has been my everything for 11 years. Sure, he was 4 states away, but he will always be my heart horse. What kind of person is able to make that decision under such pressure? I sure wasn't.

Anyways, 30 minutes later they call us stating he was down and they wanted to operate. His blood cell count had dropped too low and he was showing even more signs of distress. They needed to operate immediately.

Again, I blacked out. I was oddly calm. Like it wasn't real. I set my fork down and said "I need to go home now", and drove home. I pretty much sat on the couch, paralyzed with fear I didn't feel until I slipped into sleep around 1AM. Mom shook me awake at 2AM letting me know Yankee made it off the table and I finally felt OK to go to bed.

Belly banded

The next morning, we got another call, Jackie sent pictures and we learned a lot of things. Not only did he colic, but he had some sort of bacterial infection, horrendous scarring in his bowels and stomach ulcers. The scarring we were told could have been from anything. Ulcers from the track, previous colic, even parasites. I was dying inside, thinking what a terrible owner I was for letting this happen. How dare I send him away from me. I was the worst. 

I had been sure to always worm him and rotate medications. He has been treated yearly for ulcers, since we know he's susceptible to them after we scoped him as a 5 year old. I was at a loss, I thought I had done everything.

As if reading my mind, the vet said there was no real cause to this episode, this was just side issues they discovered in surgery, which was extensive. He would pull through, just need more maintenance later on.

As for how he was doing, he was weak, hot and tired. It was still 75* there, and he had a full winter coat. Recovery was slow ad he did not want to eat. The entire weekend I spent trying not to wallow in despair. We also didn't know what was going to happen from here.

Recovery time is about 90 days. 30 of that he MUST spend in MO, since he is not fit for travel. They wanted to keep him at the hospital another 2 weeks as well. Obviously, he won't compete this year, at least at Training level, so we needed to think about what was best for Yankee. I advised Jackie he most likely would be coming back to OH and that competing was out of the question. Luckily, she understood, I just felt terrible. She just got him and was so looking forward to the season with him...which is shitty and I feel guilty about.

So for now, he is tentatively coming home in 4 weeks. Thats an 8 hour trailer ride, and it has to be approved by the vet. Until then, on he is cleared to leave the hospital, he will stay at my old barn that I boarded at in college. Everyone there has stepped up and offered to care for him until he is ready to make the trip home, and I am again, so grateful. I've been researching the fuck out of "post-op colic surgery" and most horses recovery fully and to their previous fitness level just fine within 6 months or less. Even at 14, his prognoses is good. The downside, is he will now be even more susceptible to colic, which makes me NEVER want him to leave my sight again. Ever. 

The real truth though is that I cannot afford to show two horses, let alone one now, or even board two. For now, he will be okay at our home when he returns. Actually, it is the perfect place for him. He's familiar with it, I will have eyeballs on him daily and we have small turnout pens in addition to large pasture, which are required for rehab. Finding him a buddy will be tough, but we have 4 weeks.

Eventually, I would like to get him in my trainers lesson program, or lease him to a Young Rider and have him stabled at EME so both my boys are together, but again we will cross that bridge soon enough. 

For now, I need to focus on making our property as horse friendly again as possible (we kind of tore down everything) and finding a hay supplier. 

I am actually kind of excited, despite the financial burden (aka, may not get to show Bacardi this year now), to have my boy back and take him for his rehab rides out back in our fields. Just relieved he is still with us and looking much better today...

This morning, looking perky

I was alarmed at the amount of weight he's lost and how terrible his coat looks, but again, just happy he's here! By the looks of it, he's able to get had walked as well and nibble on some winter grass.

Positive thoughts for a swift recovery my man!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Positive Notes

So in efforts to keep some sort of normality (is that a word?) in my life while all of this with Yankee is going on, I still went to the barn both days this weekend to ride my other majestic beast. Sunday was a fun trip, because I had scheduled earlier in the week to try a new saddle. Amidst the Yankee drama, I felt guilty trying new fun things, while he was barely hanging in there Saturday night and Sunday AM, but I tried to push those feelings aside and be happy I might have found a saddle.

Sidenote, I so appreciate the outpouring of love I have received from Facebook, Instagram and Blogger friends. It means the world to me. Yankee is doing much better today, eating a little and looking perkier. I am waiting for the test results before I give a more derailed rundown of what happened and what is to come...but just know he is slowly on the mend. Thank you all!

OK, so saddle.

As many of you may know, ETT is life and I am obsessed. I just so happened to find THE perfect saddle on there, on a whim, as I wasn't *really* looking. However, a chestnut, 18 inch, Marcel Toulouse popped up on my feed for $600 and I was like, hello gorgeous.

Through contact with the owner, I discovered not only was she less than an hour from me physically but she was ALSO my blogger secret santa. How freaking perfect is that. It was fate.

She had agreed to come down and allow me to test ride it and it was pretty much sealed.

After trying it on, discovering its almost flawless fit to Bacardi, without a half pad, I was so hopeful.

sexual, even with my shitty stirrup leathers and muddy tack

Then I sat in it. OH GOD, it was perfect. I had read reviews online that this saddle could be uncomfortable, but I was not feeling that anywhere in my asshcheeks. My booty loved it. My legs loved it. I loved it.

The real test was how it felt to jump in. It was so weird having my leg in the right place, and actually not being thrown into a terrible position. Bacardi too, felt amazing, like his shoulder could actually move and he was really strutting his stuff. He was feeling' himself so much, he was a little difficult to half halt at times, haha.

Along spot much?

hi perfect leg position
Over fences the feeling was amazing (could I say amazing any more in this post?), and I was pretty much sold within 15 minutes. We kept the fences low, since we haven't had the best of jump rides lately, but it felt amazing.

Heres a link to a short vid of our experimentation.

So now its mine and I currently own four saddles, 3 jump, one proving impossible to sell. Anyone need a 16 inch jump saddle?