Sunday, June 4, 2017

My name is Murphy, and I practice Law!

I have officially fallen back into the 'horrible blogger' category again but hey, my life is currently filled with disappointment and frustration in all fronts it seems, so my lack of interest in publicly posting about it seems excusable at this point.  Regardless, i'm choo-choo'in away on the woe-is-me train and finally taking some time to post about the utter shenanigans that I call 'my life'.

Nikki is still down south at the Stallion Owners farm.  She hasn't cycled yet, despite being there over a month now.  Upon succumbing to the stress and frustration of this 'breeding' game, I opted to take them up on their offer to take her to the Vet last Monday.  While there, they arranged a secondary appointment for today (Friday) in the event that she didn't cycle prior.  At the appointment, everything looked great and she had a roughly 20mm follicle developing.  They administered a shot of Lutalyse to help her along 'just in case', and alas - still no results.  They brought her back on Friday, and her follicle had regressed, but she showed other signs that both indicated a heat cycle and being anestrus so needless to say the Vet is even scratching her head....  At this point, her oven is still very much empty, and she has officially surpassed my 'planned' budget and ASSUMING she comes in, is bred, and catches first try, she will be dipping into my 'emergency breeding fund'....  Though, that's what it is there for i guess. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for my next fiasco....


On Sunday evening after I wrapped up the Spring Horse Show that I run, I spent a few minutes brushing Kidd. I noted the spot on his forearm that he injured 2 years ago and snapped a photo for the sake of keeping it on hand.  I decided to fire it off via text to my friend, who is the Manager of our local Vet Clinic.  The spot seemed larger than last fall, but it didn't bother him at all.  My friend and I agreed to set up an appointment for July to investigate the area, but felt as though it wasn't pressing because it didn't bother him in the least.  

Sunday (Left), Thursday (Right)

On Tuesday I rode him for the first time in 8 months, and it was absolutely fabulous.  No prep work, just tacked up and hopped on.  We unintentionally half-ass passaged for half of the first lap around the arena as he was excited, but he quickly settled down and was just lovely. I was on cloud nine and was, quite frankly, sad I couldn't ride on Wednesday due to other engagements.  By the time Thursday rolled around I was watching the minutes tick by at work; anxious to get home and go for another ride.  I immediately caught Kidd and noticed that he was walking slower than usual but it was hot and I didn't think anything of it.  We got to my arena and I got to work brushing him down.  I reached the other side of his body and stopped dead in my tracks as I noticed that spot on his forearm was now the size of a tennis ball.  As I began to inspect it I noted how sore he was.  I called my friend who manages the Vet Clinic and we agreed to bring him in the next morning for further inspection.

Friday morning Hubby hauled Kidd into the Vet for me and I met him there from work.  I noticed that the area seemed less swollen than the day before, but I figured at that point I had spent $60 just to walk through the door basically, so I had might as well proceed.  As the Vet clipped the hair away, the first thing we noticed was some discolouration of the skin, but given his Appaloosa breeding we thought we should continue to be certain.  

3 Day difference - shown "dirty" in each photo
The Vet inserted a needle and attempted to draw out fluid, assuming there was an abscess festering.  To our surprise, there was nothing.  Still with concern of a hardened ball of puss, she said we could send him home and monitor or we can lance it and investigate further.  Given that I was going to do just that in July and I am going out of town later this week I decided to proceed. $300, Kidd presumably got kicked. Just my luck, right? Luckily he's still in good spirits and he's healing well... But...

If that's not enough, he's also on the mend from kicking through a barbed wire fence then developing scratches to boot... This guy, I swear... Luckily at this point the wound shown below courtesy of a bad life decision and a barbed wire fence, is pretty much completely healed.


Crazy Post-Horse Show Hair, Don't Care!
Just when I think "jeez, what next?!" I have been fighting with sore feet on Kai since being trimmed on May 25th.  It's been 2.5 weeks and she's still incredibly sore; so much so that 5 minutes of walking for her first ride since March and first bareback ride ever has caused her to become slightly lame.  I have been applying hoof hardener to her soles and hoping to see progress.  Her feet are so incredibly thin and brittle but have made vast improvements since she arrived here last November.  We have surpassed the brittle stage, but they're still quite thin - so much so that I can push on her sole and actually see it flex under the pressure.

Regardless, she's really shaping up.  She has seen the chiropractor twice, and even been to a horse show (I know, what?! Seriously Alaina, blog more!).  We have discovered that her 'misaligned SI' is actually not that, and instead is what appears to be previous trauma and there is some damaged fascia over the bone.. We are working on breaking up the tissue but it will take time and hopefully as she gains muscle and weight it will be less obvious.

The final weekend in May I put on our first Horse Show of the season, and this year we offered Dressage In Hand.  I decided to take Kai without the intention of winning ribbons but rather, just see how she behaved in that situation.

Due to my life being crazy lately, I handled Kai twice in 3 weeks prior to the show, and I knew it was a bad idea. Hubby hauled her to the show grounds for me as I was busy running the show, and as he pulled him I saw my trailer rocking and instantly thought oh god.... here we go... I walked into the trailer to unload her and noticed she was dripping in sweat and shaking from head to toe.  I unloaded her and she was wild. I gave her a small dosage of natural calming aid to take the edge off, and it had very little affect... but luckily by the time the class rolled around she was fantastic.  She was a little nervous of the walking along side the cattle chute, but upon inspecting it she carried on and was wonderfully behaved for the remainder of the class. We even came out of it with a 4th place ribbon!

Slowly gaining weight. It's an uphill battle but we're making progress!
Once we get through the sore feet and so on, I dont' know how much I will be posting about her because I have offered her to my husband for the summer as his older horse is now officially retired and his younger horse is taking his place which means he will be spending the summer at the race track ponying horses, leaving hubby horse-less.  It works fantastic because Raym *loves* the 'mindless miles' that young horses need, while I prefer to advance their training and this is something she isn't quite ready for yet anyway.. other than Ray making my 16HH TB look like a miniature pony, they get along really well.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What I Know About Kai - Update

Months ago I did a post or two regarding "Things I Have Learned About Kai", and as we reach our 6 Month Anniversary (seriously, wtf?!) I thought we were due for an updated version.

  • She doesn't enjoy things being sprayed on her, but has improved immensely in just 3 - 4 days of requiring bug spray
  • She hadn't ever pulled back until two days ago where she decided to do it twice. I think it's safe to say she taught herself a lesson!
  • We're struggling with SI Alignment issues and are seeing a new Chiro this Friday and hopefully find more success
  • She's not that easy of a keeper, but I think we're on a feed plan that is really helping
  • She seems to stay quite dark, even in her summer coat (yay!)
  • She really struggles to the right, but has developed balance incredibly fast in the past week of going into 'full work'
  • She lacks stamina and natural drive; once she decides shes tired - often before even breaking much of a sweat - she takes every excuse to stop or slow down
  • She loves her BFF Bell and is a little sad that there is now a fence between them but has re-gained her confidence when being taken away from Bell... the first time being taken into my arena and away from Bell is the reason she pulled back twice, for the record.. Maybe that was enough to snap her back to reality? Lol
  • The Neck Strecher is really softening her mouth and teaching her the theory of give and take, rather than sucking behind the vertical or resisting contact
  • She enjoys plodding around like a Peanut Roller on Speed, but is slowly taking more weight behind
  • Her lunging has improved immensely; for the most part we can actually do consistent circles now!
  • She's slowly learning that there are various rhythms to the 3 gaits; believe it or not, it isn't just full speed ahead or fully stopped.. and actually, things are much easier when you rock back onto your hind end and move at a reasonable pace as opposed to scrambling like a 16 year old boy hitting second pace for the first time - who knew?!

I have never had a horse that develops and advances as well and as fast as Kai has this past week on the lunge line.  She's worked lightly 5 of the last 7 days, and will have tomorrow off due to my Golf League (I know, when did I become an old lady?!) starting and taking place on Wednesday nights, and light work on the line on Thursday then likely Friday off as well due to the Chiropractor appointment.  Once we make it through that, I hope to continue the lunge line work and incorporate some poles, and add in some riding as well.

I still feel as though there is SO much work we can do that doesn't necessarily require her burning a ton of calories, so i'm not in a huge rush to 'ride' her necessarily.  While it is an  aspect important to keep her happy and sane, I am truly enjoying the ground work and lunging we have been doing and feel as though it is a great system to continue with until she has gained some weight.  Once her back has muscled up a little more, I will likely do some light riding but mostly just during the cool-out stage of our sessions.  She is learning so much on the lunge line and her balance has really developed quite nicely.  It seems insane to think that a week ago she couldn't even stay on the same lead for more than half a circle... truly amazing little mare!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Sweet As Sugar

Despite my life feeling entirely upside down, I have actually been back to working regularly with Queen Kai.  I was having some doubts and wondered if she and I were meshing, as her attitude was growing yet again, and she seemed to become overly sensitive in the process, which had me scratching my head....

As well, I have been dealing with trying to put weight on her, and I'm trying to find that happy balance of adding more calories without necessarily adding more energy..  For the time being, I simply upped her pelleted feed from half a scoop of Masterfeeds Podium, to a full scoop.  I also decided to try adding Aloe Vera to her ration after hearing from a lot of  people, especially OTTB owners, how they had such fantastic success for sensitive tummies!  I was in the city for work earlier this week, so I decided to stop at Wal Mart and pick some up as I had heard it was the cheapest place to get it. So I bought 2 large jugs and I was on my way. Ironically, that night I saw a fresh thread on Horse Grooming Supplies regarding Aloe Vera Juice, and many presented facts that were contradictory to everything I had heard previously.  I made the decision to give it a try regardless, because i'm frugal AF and didn't want to pour it down the drain without giving it a shot.... much to my surprise, I really feel as though it's making a difference.  She's far less sensitive to the touch in her stomach/flank area, and has been sweet as sugar to work with this past week!

Earlier this week I did some brief lunge sessions, but due to her lack of weight and muscle,  I chose to back off for a few days, and do some fun ground work instead.  Much to my surprise, she was fantastic on Tarp work, despite never having introduced it to her before.  She took one sniff, and happily plodded over on the end of the Lead Rope from both directions at a walk.  I wrapped up the session on a fantastic note, and turned her and her paddock-friend loose before picking up the tarp.  Her friend was absolutely terrified of this blue, eerily still horse-eating object, and Kai was quick to show her it was ok by stepping on it.  Eventually, the two lost interest and as such, I pulled the tarp out.  If there is anything I've learned with horses - Thoroughbreds especially - they will find something to hurt themselves on, and I had visions of one of them getting tangled in it, or worse...

Just the cutest.... 
I had a chiropractor out back in January as her SI Joint was clearly out of alignment.  The Chiropractor said she would come back in about a week to check all her adjustments stayed put - which I found a little surprising considering her SI was clearly still out of balance - and naturally, she never came back or made any effort to check her at any point afterward.. I was going to reach out to her recently, but she's incredibly busy and has some unfortunate things on her plate, and as a result I decided to contact another Chiropractor I have used in the past and hope that I have more success.  She's coming on Friday, so as a result I will continue to just lunge Kai in a Surcingle and work on her acceptance of the bit from the ground.  I feel as though she needs to build her topline and soften her back some, and her SI isn't helping... So until the next Chiropractic appointment, I will be just sticking to ground work and lunging for now.

Kai and I are entered into a show at the end of the month for Dressage In Hand, so I am really trying to build some muscle and add some weight to her before then. Truthfully, because I run the show and my VP will be soaking up the sun in Cuba, and I may end up scratching at the last minute.  That being said, even though I'm an incredibly competitive person, if Kai and I do walk through those gates into the arena, I will walk through with zero expectation.... at least, i'll try to!

I'm borrowing my friends Surcingle, which she sent along with side reins. I have used them the last 2 days, but tomorrow I am going to switch back to my Neck Stretcher/Bungee as I prefer it's action and I think Kai will as well.  I try to be relatively positive, and as I annoyingly watched my side reins bounce about as Kai trotted around the circle, I thought to myself 'well at least she should be tolerable of my sh!tty hands while I get my sea-legs back after not riding since October' haha.

Her Canter is slowly improving

In other news, last weekend Hubby and I took Nikki down south and dropped her off at the breeders - she should be being covered by Cherokee Country in the coming days!

Anyway, this post feels lame and poorly written, but that's all for now!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Barn Enhancements - What Would You Do?

To carry on with my previous post, I wanted to update y'all on our housing situation!  If you aren't familiar, buying a house is long, drawn out, stressful and nerve wracking.  We're further along than my last post, but there are still a few things that can go 'wrong' and affect the sale.  That being said, we have signed the Sale Agreement which the lawyer drew up, paid the deposit and everything is in the Bank's hands now.  Currently, we are waiting for the Bank to arrange the Appraisal. Upon that, we will have the Insurance Company out to do their thang and we're off to the races.  Our Possession Date is June 5 assuming all our conditions, which were previously mentioned, are met by May 4th.

In closing my last post, I mentioned that I will be looking for suggestions if the sale goes through. Perhaps this is premature, but I am starting to allow myself to get a little excited so I thought, what the hell!
I Hate the Silver Tin, but it will be staying, because the only thing I hate more is the fact that if I changed it, it would no longer match the Shop which is also Silver.

The original barn was built in 1989, and is roughly 24 x 32.  Currently, it has a vacant area with old cattle feeders, and a standing stall for milking cows, as well as a small tack room.  In the mid 2000's, he expanded to build an additional 32 x 32 pole barn.  There is a random chicken coop thing hanging from the roof by the door which will most certainly be getting knocked down!  The floor is dirt, and partially rail road ties packed with sand.  There are 4 sliding doors in a "T" Shape to accommodate driving a quad/small tractor through in a straight line for cleaning and 2 standing/tie stalls.  In the past, he just used portable panels as needed for stalls.

View from one of the side entrances. Directly behind me is the tack room; hanging in the Left by the door is the weird Chicken Coop thing lol.  Directly in front is one of the Tie Stalls.  There is another directly across from it

Basically, my intent is as follows:
  • Insulate the walls and enclose them fully, keeping in mind a future heat source
  • Replace any ratty looking Plywood/etc with .... something nicer?
  • Knock out basically everything inside other than the support beams/posts necessary
  • Develop the vacant & milking area in the original area to be suited to storage/tack and groom bay area
  • Construct 4 Box Stalls in the 'new' area of the barn
  • Landscape and install better drainage around the barn, especially the front door
  • Finish the rain gutters and fix any flaws in the siding/roof caps/etc
This shows the partition between the Original Barn (right) and the New Addition (Left), and one of the sliding doors.  Directly behind me is another sliding Door..

Now here is where you come in....

What would you guys do for flooring in both the Isle and/or Stalls?   At first thought, concrete may seem ideal, but I personally don't want it in the barn for sake of it being kind of inconvenient to install in an existing building, the cracking over time, etc.

I would really like to use the rubberized bricks for the Alleyway but i'm not sure how it would work on a dirt/sand base (pre-leveled of course) - do any of my wonderful blog followers have experience with them?

Additionally, the ground slopes away from the barn and as such, the front door is about at 'ground level', while the back door steps down about a foot.  For a variety of obvious reasons, I would love to eliminate that drop in/out of the back door.  Does anyone have experience with building a gravel ramp of sorts? Did you find the gravel stayed 'in place'? I intend to kind of frame in the sides to keep it from just spreading wider over time, but what does the maintenance look like in terms of tracking gravel elsewhere, etc?  Keep in mind it will likely have quite a lot of foot and ATV traffic.

I have pretty limited Photos for the time being, but these give you an idea of the current layout.

If you were in my shoes, anything else you'd do? If you've had experience with these types of Barn Reno's, please feel free to provide any input and considerations!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sometimes Good Things Come In 3's?

Why hello, Blogosphere! It's been a while, and I feel like the past few posts have always started with some sort of 'i have nothing to post about so..', but on the contrary I think my life has had some pretty giant advances since my last post... Perhaps it's too premature to refer to these changes as 'advances', but time will tell.. 

When you feel like your horse has lost some weight...

 So anyway, 2 major, but non-exciting things have happened in my life since my last post on March 9, and one is currently in the works.

#1 Non-Exciting Update,

My "alberta bestie' is trying her hand at training horses, and wanted to get her butt on more horses.  She finds Kidd very informative to ride, and never passes up an opportunity to ride him and about a month ago she took him to her place to leg up for me in exchange for weekly lessons.  This came about for 2 reasons; 1 I already mentioned, and 2 because of my 2nd Non-Exciting Update.

Second Winter has arrived.... but is quickly melting

So while Kidd is only getting ridden about once a week, he's really showing me how much he needed those 6 months off. He has come back in a totally different mindset. He's truly happy to go to work, and he has been a total rock star.  His second ride he got thrown into an obstacle clinic unintentionally, and he did everything bareback in a halter without even batting an eye.  He's also been used as a lesson horse for one of my clients, and he's done all this in less than 10 rides after 6 months off and best of all - he has been trustworthy and reliable thorough it all!

Jumping Barrels in a Halter in the Obstacle Clinic

#2 Non-Exciting Update,

I got a new job.  This is a large part of why Kidd went to his aunties for a while, at least until my arena at home is dry enough to ride in.  On March 13 I started at the local college in a new, full time but temporary position.  It's been keeping me incredibly busy and i'm continually being reassured that it will become permanent, but time will tell.  My contract runs until June 30, and i'm really enjoying it so I hope it becomes permanent!  Once my arena is dry and ridable, Kidd will come home and I will be riding more accurately.  

One of the muckier areas of Kai's paddock that was nearly rideable less than a week ago..
Ironically, about 3/4 of my riding surface was dry and safe until Thursday morning when we had a massive storm roll in which left us with about 6" of soaking wet and heavy snow.. That being said, I can't complain too badly as some of my friends within a 45 minute drive of me have over 2 feet!

#3 Exciting, but not 100% Confirmed Update,

We have an offer in on a farm.  We should know in the next day or two if it's been accepted, but it's been quite a process.  We've done 2 walk-thrus and then sat down with the owner yesterday regarding his timeline, expectations, and a few items he had for sale that interested us if he was interested in including them.  We're currently hung up on a few things, as the few items that interest us we want included in the mortgage and he would prefer to sell them separate so he has the cash in his pocket right away.  This doesn't work for us financially, so either we include it on the mortgage or lower our offer $5,000 and not have it included. While the specific items would be nice, it's not a huge deal if they aren't. For the most part, it's a done deal regardless but i'm trying not to get too excited about it until the first box is getting unpacked.

Now for the exciting stuff - the details!

It's situated on 160 acres which is roughly 80 Acres open in Pasture/Hay, and the remainder in bush that has trails all throughout.  There is a fairly large yard site with a big double-entrance (shallow u-shape) drive way that curves around a 100 x 200 ft sand outdoor riding arena, and a 50ft sand round pen.  It also has a large shop with lean-to's off 2 sides, and a barn large enough to accommodate 4-5 stalls and a tack room.  There's also a large garden area, fire pit area and play ground area that has become dilapidated and overgrown.  The land itself is fully fenced, and cross fenced multiple times.  There are 2 main pasture areas, one which is seeded in Timothy, Brome and Alfalfa.  The other was previously used for cattle and as such as lot of random (but kind of cool) things planted in it like Timothy, Brome, Alfalfa, Oats, Turnips and Radishes.  There's also an automatic waterer, and it has crown land on one side, a gravel road that hooks up to the highway on the opposite side, and my hubby's families pasture land on the other 2 sides.  It's on a private road about 1.5 miles off the highway.  You may notice I haven't said much about the house itself, and that's for a variety of reasons - 1 being that i'm happy with a roof, a fridge, power and a heat source and 2 - There's not much to report... it's tiny, literally. 1 (large bedroom), 1 lovely little bathroom, a half wrap-around deck, tin roof, wood stove, small kitchen and even smaller living room.  While it's not ideal, truth be told we had always planned to build our own home and this is a great opportunity to do so.  So again, it's not set in stone yet but my fingers and toes are crossed!  If it all goes through, there will most certainly be a post about it, because there is going to be *a lot* of landscaping required and the barn is getting totally gutted inside and I'll be needing your guys' help and expertise with that!

Lesson Pony Extraordinaire!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

VC Blog Hop: Naivete

Coffee is life
Some how I missed L's original Blog Hop on this (link) but I caught it when M posted her version, and I totally love the idea of this.  L's question is essentially, "What Horse Related Thing did you once believe, and later find out it's incorrect?"

So before I jump into this, I feel the need to say WHY I love this question.  In the equestrian industry, we are so stuck on defending ourselves, and many of us often feel the need to be 'right'.  Besides, if someone else said it it must be true, right?  Wrong. On the contrary, I love this question because it allows us to identify with our stupidity naivete, and own our mistakes.  Just think, in another 10 years we could come back to this and probably find even more things that we once believed in, to be incorrect!


I once believed
That anyone who competed a higher level than me, or showed some sort of 'status' in ways of a nice trailer, expensive horse, etc, was immediately 'better' than me

I have since learned
No matter how much money is invested, you've still got to be able to ride that expensive horse, or keep your butt in that fancy saddle. On the flip side, jealousy is cruel and detrimental, and quite frankly, a total waste of time.

I once believed
That breeding was a fun and exciting venture

I have since learned
While I think it will be worth it in the long run, but as of right now it's nothing but stressful and expensive lol!

I once believed
If my horse's nose was ATV, I needed a stronger bit, or to see-saw harder, or both

I have since learned
The beauty and power felt when a horse engages itself correctly, lifts its back and reaches for the contact.
I once believed
That I knew what a successful half-halt was

I have since learned
I had no fcking idea up until the past few years what a truly successful half-halt felt like.  Ever since, it has been the forefront of my Coaching Program for my students who are capable of this.

I once believed
I was useless to the Equine Community; just another hum-drum rider following the masses, offering nothing of value to improving the community or my own self

I have since learned
I was so wrong to think so poorly of myself.  In recent years I feel as though I have really flourished as a Coach, Rider, Leader, Wife and Friend.


I'm sure I could go on forever with this, because lets face it, who can't? But I decided to cap it at 5 important learning curves I have come to realize over the years, and i'm sure there will be many more in the future!
This needs no explanation. My Dog is adorable.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Judgement Day

Well the day has finally come - Vet day for Miss Nik!

I had a feeling she was going to be a total snot based on how she behaved on Farrier Day (Sunday), so I decided to go out an hour before I planned to load her to give her 30CC of Omega Alpha Chill.  I decided to give her another mouth full as we put her on the trailer for good measure. Much to my surprise she was lovely to catch, and walked right onto the trailer.  We headed into town and had a few stops to make before our appointment. I repeatedly told my Hubby how much I hated this because last time she basically trashed my trailer..... Ok i'm being dramatic, she just frayed by trailer tie, but I didn't want her in there any longer than she had to be.  To my surprise, she stood great and was quiet through both stops.

We made it to the Vet Clinic and Hubby offered to unload Nikki while I ran inside to meet the new vet and 'check in' so to speak.  One of my really close friends works there, so we chit chatted back and forth while the Vet got ready.  We were quickly faced with a major problem; earlier in the day someone backed into their overhead door, which is the only safe way to get a horse inside, and it would only raise about a foot off the ground and there was no way to manually lift it.  Seems ridiculous for a mixed practice clinic, right? Worry not, since being bought out by a new Partnership, they are already drawing up plans for renovations and additions.. I'm hopeful that this includes an alternate route inside for horses.  I headed outside and found Hubby walking Nik around. I was sad to see she was pretty sweated up and shaking a little, but she was doing her best to be a good girl.  I filled Hubby in on the situation with the door.  At this point, the Clinic's game plan was to wheel the ultrasound machine to the nearest door and they would just do her outside.  This made me nervous, because i'm sure the new vet values her Knee Caps, plus it's about -10 which doesn't go well with wet things, and if you think the Duck Bill at your doctors is bad, I got WEAK in the KNEES when I saw the horse version.. but more to the point, imagine that in -10 weather... No thanks.

At this point, I was thanking the Gods above that Nikki was a race horse, because I offered to take her through the Cattle Chute (what? lol).  Luckily, she walked quietly through the filthy cattle chute which is intended for calves, might I add, and is quite dark and narrow, with rickity old poop covered boards for footing.  Ray lead her through as I brought up the rear, because if she panicked half way through our only hope in hell was sending her forward.  As I watched the boards bend and shift under her weight, the once white sides grazed her belly. She got to the end of the dingy tunnel and was forced to make a hard left and shimmy her body around a square corner (this makes sense in my head).  YES, she was inside, now to make our way past a labyrinth of cattle chutes and squeezes and into the horse section of the clinic... Thank God for Race Horses.

I was the designated tail holder and ooh - ahh'er at the ultrasound
Finally, we make it inside and I got to meet the new Vet.  She's not permanently here, but the Partnership that bought out our local clinic sent her up to fill in for another Vet who is away on Holidays.  Luckily for me (and everyone else in this area), she is an Equine Specialist and just finished her Internship in Equine Surgery.  She was young, confident, and welcoming.  She's only been here a few days, so together we fumbled our way through using the Ultrasound Machine, which she called 'ancient' to give you an idea, and got down to business.  Not that I am surprised, albeit a little teensy bit sad, Nikki is not pregnant.  Nevertheless, we continued onward with the appointment and switched our focus to her 'date' later this spring with Cherokee Country.

I brought up the findings at our appointment last year, which to summarize, basically state that Nikki is 'overactive' on her left side, and 'under-active' on the right in terms of her Reproductive tract.  I'm told this isn't unusual, as long as that 'under-active' side is at least slightly active.  Some mares only ovulate on one side. Who knew?  Anyway, the over all health of Nikki's reproductive system looks and feels great.  She said conformationally, she isn't great.  At first I was a little taken aback because I thought she had pretty darn good conformation, especially for a Thoroughbred...  She must have seen the look on my face, because she quickly caught herself and told me she was referring to the angle of which her reproductive system sits.  It's a little more angled or 'tipped' than she would like to see, and this can often lead to pooling, which can cause infection.  That being said, she found no signs of this throughout the hour-long appointment, and as such is confident that it wont give her any grief given her age.

Upon checking her Ovaries, we found they showed no change in terms of their activeness, or lack there of, from last summer.  She had a large (40MM) Follicle on the left side, which posed some concern for the Vet because we had discussed that last year when scanned she had a 38MM Follicle, but I teased her for 11 days straight and she showed no signs of heat.  So we were left with the question, is this a Follicle, or does she have a Cyst that has grown 2MM since last summer?  Oy Vey..

We carried on with the exam and found there was some healthy fluid in the Uterus - Ok, got it.  Then, the Vet pulled out these HIDEOUS, CRINGE-WORTHY AND DISGUSTING LOOKING things that are basically a supersized, stainless steel version of a Gyno's 'Duck Bill', AKA a Vaginal Spectrum, and took a look at her Cervix (which was super cool BTW), and as the Vet said "For lack of a better term, it's floppy and soft". Ok, got that too. But seriously... this thing.. was like the size of my arm.. I will never complain about a Pap again...

Just in case you don't get the picture - it was literally the size of half my arm

Carrying on, in conclusion, based on the 'floppy cervix', the 40MM Follicle and the fluid in the uterus, all signs point to her nearing the end of a heat cycle.  With the thought of a cyst rolling around in the back of the Vet's mind, she again came back to another concern - how early it is for a mare to be cycling in our area.  While I don't disagree, many of our mares have shown heat symptoms for the past month, so while I realize light is a massive factor, the Vet and a Reproduction Specialist who I am friends with think the unseasonably warm weather and the fact that we have a stallion on site and she's turned out with a gelding could in fact have the mares cycling sooner than usual.  As a result, as an example if we were AI'ing, she wouldn't recommend breeding her on this cycle.

Don't believe the ridiculous look on his face, my hubby is very supportive lol

Regardless, she gave her 2 Thumbs Up and said she's in fantastic health and condition - she couldn't believe her age by just looking at her.  She really liked her (except for when she had to draw her markings on the Coggins paper - c'mon, do you blame her?) and said because it's a young stallion with good semen and it's a LFG, to take her down and breed her.  She said Cysts in the ovaries are very, very rare and there is essentially nothing to be done besides full retirement if that's the case.  Subsequently, I could take her back to the vet for a re-scan as if it is a follicle, it should be released in a few days, but the simplest way would be to tease her with our Stallion - however he's currently still in his 'winter pen' which isn't set up for teasing mares... so we will just wait.  Regardless, she seemed very comfortable with just breeding her in May, because there isn't much to lose otherwise.  As well, if it is a cyst, it won't affect her ability to carry a foal, it just makes it harder for mares with them to get in foal.

So for now we wait, track her cycles, and she will head down south at the end of April or early May, depending on how her cycles fall.

^ Cherokee Country v