unexpected experiences

Our Fall trail riding trip up north came & went. It is one we will not soon forget, for different reasons...

We headed out with Cierra & Koda in tow, leaving Nemo behind for the first time. Brad's trusty trail horse. Our rock. It just wasn't going to be the same with out the big guy. Here is an update on Nemo, incase you missed it. However, life is meant to be lived and we looked forward to making new trail memories. We saw multiple rainbows on the drive up. I didn't catch it while doubled up, but here is the tail end of the wonder...

What lies at the end of our rainbow?
We arrived at the cabin later then usual, too late to get much of a ride in. We prefer letting the horses settle in anyways. Got them fed & watered and then it was our turn. We headed out to one our favorite local restaurants. We pulled into the parking lot, and it was closed? Weird. It's a popular bar eatery. A car had followed us into the lot. As I was calling to see what was going on, the owner greeted us at our window. Yes, they were closed but told us to come inside. He needed to talk to us and I didn't need to be crying in the parking lot. My heart sunk to the ground. This couldn't be good news. With suspense, we walked through the backdoor, through the kitchen, into the bar area. It really was terrible news, but at least there was still hope. You see, his wife is a Type 1 diabetic. We knew that, and of her struggles. We listened to the heart wrenching emergency story, and learned she was in the ICU fighting for her life. It is nothing short of a miracle she is still with us. 

We aren't particularly close friends, in fact we are regular seasonal customers, but there has always been a connection between us. Over the years we've gotten to know each other through our shared stories. When we walk in we are greeted by name, and frequently leave with a hug. 

He was hungry, we were hungry, and he needed someone beside doctors and hospital employees to talk to. We walked across the road, ordered some food & beverages, and simply listened. Poor guy had a couple tough weeks. First burying one of his best friends and now almost losing his wife. This man is not a touchy-feely kinda guy, and is always joking. There wasn't much to laugh about that night, but he still managed some. Between the tears. Have you ever seen a grown man unexpectedly cry? Broke my heart. His wife is one year younger then I. At that moment he needed a friend, and we are so thankful we could be there for him. We've since been in contact. She pulled through, is progressing and doing as well as can be expected. Our first night of this trip will forever leave a lasting impression on how delicate life is.

We woke up to a new day, and headed out on the trail. It's been years since Cierra has been trail ridden, but she took it all in stride. We started north, and ended north. It was a nice looong uneventful ride... 

Cierra is trained to move out. We had to catch up, a lot.

Puddles, puddles, everywhere. 
Everything looks better together
Cierra (L) Koda (R)
We weren't always behind

It's been an odd year for color, you'll notice a lot of green trees and yet many had already fallen. I hate pictures of me, always look terrible. But whatever, I need to get over it. Not sure what's worse the helmet or my rolls. Since Koda acted up on these trails last time, I decided to wear a helmet for the first ride & see what horse I had. The rolls, well unfortunately I wear those all the time these days. Note to self: suck your gut in - good grief!!!

Hmmmm, which trail is the right one?
Koda "chomp, chomp, chomp" just pick one!
Taking my picture?
Here's a picture for you, said with tongue sticking out
That night a brisk cold rainy front moved in. We waited for it to pass before heading out the next day. The rain did, but our horses were feeling the weather. Koda in particular. He was spun up, in a way I've never seen him. We decided not to head out on the trail, and instead worked with our horses at the ranch. Sure we could have cowboy'ed up, they eventually would have calmed down. Maybe. 

We enjoyed an early evening meal, and a warming campfire afterwards. We couldn't see either of our dark horses. It made us miss Nemo all over again, we can actually see him. He does the most soft campfire knickers!

When the weekend arrives, we are usually ready to head home. Sometimes we get one more ride in, and sometimes we don't. The flood gates open up and people arrive by the trailer full. This year every cabin, paddock, arena and area capable of holding horses was taken at the ranch, most doubled or tripled up. The four wheeler traffic rolling down the multi use trail quadruples. It gets really busy and noisy up north, it's a great time to leave!! 

Surprised looks arise from many when we talk about our one really nice long ride, but we don't trail ride to reach benchmarks. Honestly we don't care how far, how often, or how many hours we ride. If that's why you trail ride, in my opinion you are completely missing the beauty of it all.

When we head north, it's for an experience that encompasses everything the area has to offer. The beautiful woods, tranquil trail rides, cozy cabins, quiet campfires, relaxing, eating great food at family run restaurants, visiting with the locals etc. We had a wonderful trip! Full of colorful memories, some unexpected experiences, but all of them treasured.


subcutaneous immunotherapy

If that isn't a mouthful I don't know what is. Try saying Subcutaneous Immunotherapy five times really fast! You know you want to ;) SO what is it anyways? It's Nemo's new complicated allergy treatment. 

As you may recall, we unsuccessfully tried thisthat and the other, and nothing helped Nemo much. The next step was no turnout for a whole week, and a blood draw to see exactly what Nemo is allergic to. I learned they can also do allergy patch testing on horses, similar to humans, but the blood test was recommended to us as less problematic. You know what? The boy who prefers to live outside was perfectly content to stay inside 24/7. He was that miserable. Staying inside allowed the inflammation to calm down. Nemo progressed to daily 2 hour morning turnout that went on for weeks. With the cooler weather we finally increased his turnout to half days. He had his first full day turnout last weekend. So far his allergy symptoms have not resurfaced!!!!

ACTT Allergy Program from ALK tested two sets:

Set 1: trees, grasses, weeds, epithelia & fibers
Set 2: molds, mites & insects 

Nemo's results revealed he is allergic to four things. From Set 1: Box Elder/Maple Mix, Crowngrass, Timothy Grass and from Set 2: Candida (a yeastlike, parasitic fungus that can sometimes cause thrush).

Apparently this was good news as some test results come back with lengthy lists, some with 30 things on them. Of course the more allergens the harder it is to treat.

Nemo's immunotherapy treatment arrived on Thursday, and holy moly it is detailed and goes on for months!! Different doses, different intervals, different colored vials x2 sets. It will all be worth it in the end, if it works. Assuming it does, Nemo will need an allergy shot once a month forever. We haven't seen the bill yet, no doubt it will continue proving Nemo is Brad's million dollar horse. In more then one way.


damn ticks

It was hot & humid when we rode outside last Monday night. Yes, in October. I saddled Koda up, annnnd - I could barely get him to go forward. Great. Everything felt off, and no doubt looked that way too.

I mentioned Koda's odd sluggish behavior to Brad, he attributed it to me. I've been reminded lately that my riding has been let's just say less "polished", and it has. I thought perhaps Koda was feeding off my low energy. After all, I spent the three days prior at home nursing a bad cold. But something was really off. Koda was not very willing, to a different extent. It was uncharacteristic of him. We managed to fumble through a short ride, it wasn't pretty. 

I asked our wonderful barn help if she had noticed anything off with Koda. Nope. But come to think of it, he didn't run off to eat his hay after getting turned out. Hmmm, that got her started thinking. I also asked our trainer if she noticed anything off with Koda, she attributed his sluggish behavior to the humidity. Okay then, if everyone else who knows him thinks he's okay then it must just be me. I tucked my boy into his stall and headed home.

The next morning I got an urgent message from Brad, that our trainer was trying to reach me. The barn help noticed Koda wasn't behaving normal, thank goodness. Koda had a high fever of 105F and the vet was on his way...I was angry! At first because nobody ever listens to me, but mostly at myself. When am I ever going to trust my instincts?? I may not know how to train horses, or ride them perfectly, or know the best way to patch them up, but I DO know how my horse normally feels & acts!! I rely on others help for the rest. I felt terrible about riding Koda, when the poor baby wasn't feeling well. Lesson learned, take temp ask questions later. 

I have very good instincts and am an observant person to a fault. I honestly wish I didn't notice half the things I did. It's a blessing, and a curse. Feeling something is wrong, not acting (enough) upon it, resulting into something being really wrong - keeps happening over & over where horses are concerned - and it makes me mad! At me!! Poor Brad got an earful. Good thing I had a 40 minute drive up to the barn to cool off. Breathe in, brrrreathe out. The barn knew I was on my way. I received a phone call just 10 minutes away that the vet had left...say what?? I checked on my lethargic boy, hand grazed him and gathered the second hand story, and then promptly called the vet on my way home to get the information first hand. That crap doesn't fly with me. It was a new vet who apparently had no idea I was on my way, he did a nice job answering all my questions.

The vet observed none of the usual Ehrlichia symptoms, but said Koda was breathing & sweating heavy. They got his temperature lowered, and Koda continued eating & drinking. Not the norm with such a high temp (the indicator). He never did stock up, some horses do. Everyone seems to have an Ehrlichia story, but this was our first experience with it.

Apparently Ehrlichia is common in this area, so they treat it right away with an antibiotic while waiting for the blood test results. We should have results early this week. We just finished day five of consecutive vet visits & antibiotics, and yes I made damn sure I was at the remaining four visits. It took a couple days for Koda to snap out of it and act more like himself. He is feeling much better and that's all that really matters. The rest, is living and learning.

Snapshot yesterday, happy to be together again.


photos tell the story

Enjoy some long overdue photos from Brad's last show of his first season. Just for the record, there are no show ring photos. Before anyone get's their undies in a bundle (again) know that I had written permission to take photos of this duo, out of the show ring. Ridiculous. I know. But those are the rules. My purpose at horse shows isn't to take photos anyways, it is to support my husband while living his dream. Since I wasn't working, my camera intentionally stayed in it's bag during key moments. I believe in living them. Not watching them removed, through a lens. With that said, I'll let the photos tell a little about the rest of the story...

Hope you enjoyed this sample of practice rides, the tack-ful in-between preparation, and the meaningful show number Brad chose. Let's just say, he's wearing my number.