Saturday, September 04, 2004

Old News

Really, really old news.

Friday, September 3rd:

So. It seems I left out a few important items. So I'll try to catch y'all up. And by golly, the text better look the way I want it to!

March 09, 2004
I went out to the barn last Saturday to visit my long-lost horses and had a blast playing with Wildflower in the round pen like I was another horse. At feeding time, everyone came in, and I went to see Cheerios in his stall. I went to scratch under his chin and he pulled away. I found out why. I felt bare skin and a bump. The bump was bloody and gross. I thought maybe it was a bite from another horse, he is second in command and they battle all the time out in the pasture. Erin and Kathleen (barn managers) got a spotlight so we could look... he has something growing there and it must itch cuz all the fur's rubbed off. It's a little smaller than a grape. They weren't sure what it was. With that lump on his shoulder that he's had since I bought him, I got worried and figured it's vital that he be checked out. I hope it's nothing, but I had the vet look at it. She was coming out Tuesday anyway for another horse, so I split the farm call (yay).

Well, Dr. Laura Schmidt looked him over. She wasn't sure what the thing under his chin is either. Might be something got up in there and it got infected; might be a benign sarcoid tumor. She said to use hot packs once a day for 10-15 minutes for 10 days and see how it looks at vaccine time (the 20th). So I have that lovely duty every day, drive 20 minutes out, 20 back, 20 to get the hot water and the Epsom salts and sit there holding the sponge on his boo-boo. (Cheerios is not the type to stand still patiently.)

She looked at the lump on his shoulder. It's been worrying me since I got him but O'Desky, Speiss AND the vet I used for the pre-purchase exam whose name I have long-since forgotten have looked at it and blew it off as an old scar or nothing to worry about unless it grew. I've always had my doubts. Schmidt opted to aspirate it to see if she could obtain any cells to send to pathology to test and rule out things. She wasn't expecting anything, wasn't even sure she'd be able to get any cells at all.

Surprise, surprise. She shaved a patch, sterilized it, and stuck the needle in and all our eyes grew wide when this stream of thick yellow goop came pouring out. She got the syringe on it and filled up the whole thing with yellow cloudy fluid. She handed that off to her assistant and squeezed the lump for a good few minutes as the stuff just poured out of him and slid down his side. I almost lost my lunch and I have a pretty adaptable stomach. Blech. Has it been this way for three years?!? I should have followed my first instinct and had it biopsied right away, I think.

Cheerios handled it all pretty well, though, but he got a little antsy as she squeezed. The lump is still there, draining it hasn't diminished it much. The vet thinks it's probably somewhat painful and may have contributed to his tendency to buck halfway into trail rides because the saddle rubs up against it and doesn't let the saddle sit completely square, which would put pressure points on his back; or it might be painful in his shoulder when he moves. She reassured me that it could be something we just need to lance and drain and he'll be fine after that, or it could be something more, like a sarcoid tumor as mentioned previously, which is kind of like a cyst (not cancerous) but would require dragging him up to Michigan or something to have it removed because that would be more involved than what can be done in the field. Non-committal on a diagnosis until the bloodwork came back.

Schmidt got the bloodwork back today and it's inconclusive. Because no bacteria was present in the fluid, it's not an infection response. The cells in the fluid also do not conform to the typical cyst. So she is still not committing to a diagnosis, but it's looking like a tumor of some type. She will be out next Friday to do another biopsy around the outer edge this time rather than in the middle. He might need to have a little bit of tissue removed.

Since I began daily Florence Nightengale rounds, the thing under his chin is looking better each day, that's a plus. He's eating and otherwise seems fine; I think he just wants attention! LOL! You know horses. "I'm feeling lonely... I think I'll come up lame today with no diagnosable explanation... until turn out, of course, then I'll kick, buck, and run without limping." Or, "Nobody's feeding me cookies... I think I'll scratch my chin, get a splinter, and grow something on me to worry my owner."

Wouldn't put it past 'em! ;-D

I guess it's just my turn to worry, fret, and play nurse. Having escaped the first three years without doing so, I guess I've been pretty lucky. It's probably nothing (on both accounts) but I'll feel better knowing officially.

March 31, 2004
Update on Cheerios' condition—based on an inconclusive needle biopsy (no bacteria present, not consistent with typical cystotic fluid), and a subsequent tissue biopsy on him. More gross gunk, a few "particles" that were added to the sample, three stitches and three staples later, and the results were:

"connective tissue, some fat, and mild lymphocytic steatitis"

Which all adds up to nothing. No cancer, thank god. Final diagnosis: he suffered an injury to the shoulder at some point (yeah, before I bought him) and when it healed, for some unknown reason the fluid had nowhere to go so it just collected. Most of it drained out from the biopsies so he's looking better. The good news is, he has a clean bill of health. The chin thing cleared up on its own.

Not much news to tell! The second biopsy produced "connective tissue, some fat, and mild lymphocytic steatitis" (lymphocytic = white blood cells, steatitis = inflammation). This was late on a Friday. The vet said the good news is it doesn't appear to be anything cancerous or fatal; however, she still isn't sure what to do about it and has to talk to the pathologist further about the results. The next day, they got their shots and he got his staples removed and is healing fine and the lump is smaller (well duh, half of it drained down his side). That was March 20th. I called last Friday to see what she'd found and she's still waiting for the pathologist.

So I guess he's not in any danger of dying from it!

The weather here is grey and rainy all week. I'm dying for a nice sunny warm day so I can go play with horses. Jonesing now.

April 16, 2004

Well, I had a great day with Wildflower yesterday, even got to ride a little (in the round pen, not the arena or woods). The surprise of the day was when I tried doing mounted liberty work (that means I am riding her but I'm not using the reins to guide her, just my body language) and got her to easily sidepass, turn, and change gaits WITHOUT EVEN TOUCHING the reins (they were looped around the horn), it was like Dances with Horses or something!

May 1, 2004
OK, is it just me, or does the idea that someone is SELLING their L1 submission video strike anyone else as wrong?

There was a link at the top of my blog in the ad banner advertising "Parelli level 1 'pass': You can see a successful level one submission. Now available on video."

Of course, curiosity got the better of me and I visited. It just seems... WRONG.

But she's in Australia, so apparently the American copyright laws specifically prohibiting (under penalty of prosecution) the teaching of PNH material (is this video considered "teaching"?) by anyone who is not an official PNH Endorsed Instructor doesn't apply to this Wrangler Jayne person. I'm confused; what is this person's affiliation with Parelli? I don't see anything on either the Parelli site or her own listing her as an Endorsed Instructor, yet her program seems frighteningly similar to PNH and she mentions Parelli in the blurb. Is this really OK or is it not? Is it just a fine line between legitimate and not? Is on the up-and-up?

May 27, 2004

Had a wonderful day with Wildflower yesterday—after the last session, I was doubtful bc she was distracted the entire time I was there and it was awful! Whinny city. I gave up thinking I had any savvy and figured all my Level One training was bs. But yesterday was different, better, and we went on a short trail ride. Fun. Felt good. VERY very sore all over today.

June 3, 2004
I think I need a clinic. Wildflower is getting bored (and so am I) and she's starting to rewrite the games lately. Eeesh. I hate that. Plateaus. You get everything going well, then it falls apart again because you think, oh, now that she does that so nicely, I can back off and I don't have to Phase 4 her anymore. So she "plays you for a sucker" ;-) and forces you to and you feel bad about it. At least, I do. :-(

A friend of mine attended a Level 2/3 Camp across the woods from me. It would have been perfect for me, because I wouldn't need to trailer. There was just one thing stopping me from going. The FF. Because it was HER clinic, at HER barn, meaning she'd be in charge of making everyone's lives miserable (if she hates you or has no use for you). I wouldn't dare even audit. In fact I was really honestly out of town that weekend. My friend had a pretty good time regardless, except she found a couple of things seemed unsafe. Rather, there was some animosity growing due to a conflict of opinions. Apparently, my friend's saddle was a tad loose, so she bent over while mounted to tighten the girth and got called on it as being unsafe, must dismount first. The fact that my friend got called on it in front of the entire class and auditor group was mortifying to her. I know part of that was amplified because of the smug disgusted looks that were likely emanating toward her from the FF.

At the end of the clinic, they all posed for a group photo, and half the class plus the instructor stood on their saddles. My friend did not. The fact that they did that unsettled her, and she questioned the safety of that maneuver (privately). My response was:

Well, as you can see from your "unsafe" thing vs. the Instructor's "unsafe" thing, nobody's perfect, and everyone seems to do whatever is within their comfort zone, occasionally forgetting to think first. True, there are risk factors involved in staying mounted while tightening your girth, but we've all done it. Me included. Even after passing L1. But we also know, it depends on the horse. You just gotta know what's under you. I can get away with that on Wildflower because I know her temperament. I know she's very UNlikely to react badly. Most often, I dismount first but I've done it before. I certainly wouldn't assume the same on someone else's horse, even if they said it'd be ok they do it all the time. Yeah, maybe it was best to just nod and say to the Instructor "You're right, thank you" or apologize or something and keep your feelings about it to yourself. ;-) But I hardly doubt that the Instructor holds a grudge. Who all stood on their saddles? I know we're supposed to be able to stand on our horses by L3, right? OK, so maybe that was ok, if the ones doing that were all in L3... not L2... but I'm betting some of them aren't in L3 yet, am I right? (—FF being one of them)

But it's the same thing—it's as safe as you think your horse is. I personally wouldn't have done that. Even if I could have, out of respect for the other people around me. Some of those horses might have freaked. Think about it. Predator alert! One time when I was brushing Wildflower in the barn, we were right below the hay loft by the ladder. Erin had just gone UP the ladder to the loft. Wildflower didn't even pay attention. But when Erin started coming DOWN the ladder, Wildflower freaked badly (mountain lion! mountain lion! mountain lion!). I learned something that day. Probably no L2/L3 horse would think much of that, but there may have been that ONE horse who would have freaked seeing a human standing up on a horse next to them.

I think that's enough for the moment.

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