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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Kelly put Goal Sheets in all the trunks over Holiday and I have a meeting with her on Friday to discuss my 2014 goals.
We did a very similar exercise at our Sales Meeting a few weeks ago- writing down goals. Apparently those who write them down are substantially more likely to complete them.
I don't know.... I write down my New Years resolutions every year and never actually execute on them. Whoops- I just went through my archives on Em is a Gem and didn't actually have a resolution post for 2013. No wonder I felt so lazy this year!

So a few (but big) goals for 2014 (in no particular order):
- Buy a house.
- Rehome Wilbur.
- Lose weight (gaahhh- the never ending goal)- faithfully log my WW points and lose 15lb by 3.30.
- Work really really hard. Seriously. Worker bee status.
- Buy a new horse.
- Create a monthly budget- be super duper fiscally responsible.
- Compliment Paul every day and do one extraordinarily nice thing for him each week.

But as always- be the best I can be, live in the present, and be happy with all that I have.

Have a Happy and Healthy New Year! Cheers to 2014!
Polly has a resolution. Get more treats.

Monday, December 30, 2013

This Really Happened!

I rode a Norwegian Fjord! My Mom's Book Club friend just happens to own one and I had the opportunity for an impromptu Dressage lesson on the fabulous Davin when I was back in Cleveland for Holiday!
I am, of course, terrible at dressage but the little guy was kind enough to truck me around for a hot minute. He has a super smooth trot and canter which made both gaits very comfortable to sit to. I secretly (or not so) wanted to shove him in my duffle and bring him home with me.






Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Christmas Miracle

Geez this blog has been doom and gloom lately!
What do you spot in the left hand corner of my trunk?
Yes! It's the missing Horseman's One Step that fell prey to the Barn Vortex nestled snug in my trunk! Whoever borrowed it left it out and the saintly assistant trainer returned it. Perhaps I went too far with "miracle" but hey- it's the little things!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange!

My husband texted me a photo of my Gift Exchange present while I was in Vegas and I could not wait to get home to open it! The Blogger Gift Exchange, hosted by the wonderful Tracy at Fly On Over, has been one of the highlights of the month!
I was so excited to find out that my Blog Gifter was none other than Karley of All In! I love reading about her horsey life between Henry and the new Grayson. Since she's local I'm going to need to plan a visit to thank her in person!
In my package I got a beautiful equestrian photo frame- just right for my desk at work. Now I  need to pick a favorite photo of Wilbur! A package of Cantering Chef horse cookies were included as well which is perfect- I'm always looking for new treats to add to the mix and they looked good enough to eat!
Karley- THANK YOU so much for your thoughtfulness!












Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy Holidays

Around this time of year I always have the best of intentions but inevitably I end up taking an unplanned (although often needed) blogging break due to our Sales Meeting and Holiday travels. So just in case....
Happy Holidays from the horses (and Emily, Paul, and Linus)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Giant Steps Therapeutic Riding

It's timely that a few blogger friends recommended rehoming Wilbur to a Therapeutic Riding Center because my coworkers and I spend the day last Friday volunteering at Giant Steps up at Sonoma Horse Park. It was the perfect day to spend time rebuilding the "sensory trail" and even having the opportunity to act as side walkers for a session.
Wilbur may be a little too young and spooky for that kind of work. As I threw my first shovelful of gravel I immediately looked up, concerned that I had spooked horses in the lesson. Those guys are stoic and didn't bat an eye.
I ran over to KMC before we left to say a quick "hello" to my favorite Ben!



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Little Buck & A Little Rear- The Injections Took!

Wilburman was discharged today and I just got a text from Marlene that they made it home safely. He and Lulu were swooning together but poor Marlene thinks she has food poisoning- she said the drive home was torture. Ummm a three hour drive pulling a horse with food poisoning sounds beyond horrific.

I felt a bit like a loon but drove up anyway this morning to arrive when Pioneer opened to give Wilbur some cuddling, leave his treats, and review the invoice and discharge papers. Despite the long drive and quick turnaround I was happy I stopped out. Natasha and I had the chance to jog him and behold- the higher dose freaking injections worked! Mostly. He looks to be serviceably sound with slight limp on the right fore. Let's not freak out- no false hopes. We don't have a hunter on our hands here.
But it's good to know that with the right maintenance that he could be a trail horse.

Now we wait. And visit once a month, throw him on a longe line, and see how long the injections hold for. Paul and I are going to make a little trip out of it- I'll need him to help video the progress. Crossing our fingers for six months!

Either way- he threw a few bucks and a tiny rear into his jog so I know he's feeling better now! And that's awesome!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Au Revoir Horseman's One Step

Things go missing at barns. Gear literally sprouts legs and wanders off never to be seen again. I was so excited to get my order from Smartpak- down to the last dregs of my Horseman's One Step. Best tack cleaner EVER! I used it once on Sunday then accidentally left it out.
No sign of it today- I checked by the barn saddle soap, in the lost & found, in the office. Poof!
I guess I've been lucky because I chronically forget to away all my things and up until now I've been able to track down the errant whip.
Smartpak labels all their individual items in shipments with the receivers name so I'm going to be giving the stink eye to anyone I see using One Step.
But in true barn fashion it likely just vanished. I know everyone has lost a thing or two at the barn- any good stories?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ho Ho Ho: My Blogger Gift is Ready to Go!

Tracy over at Fly on Over is basically a genius and set up a Blogger Gift Exchange. What better way to take one's mind off of Wilbur? Shopping horse goodies for a new blogger friend!
I may look like an overachiever here because my gift is ready to go in the mail- but I'm actually leaving for three weeks on Saturday on work/ holiday trips. If it doesn't go out now, it's not going to.

As a disclaimer for whoever happened to get me.....I majorly misread Tracy's directions and included gift ideas I was going to get for my chosen blogger. I thought she was vetting us or something to make sure we really could come up with ideas for $20 bucks.
Do not get me that Ariat polo- I do not need more polos. Repeat, I do not need more polos!

I'll just add- staying within that price limit is tough apples. If it has a horse decal on it the price goes up exponentially. Personally, I had such a fun time being creative and gifting something that had a little story behind it.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

MRI Results

Quite a few issues showed up on the MRI- some more concerning that others. And we did come to a decision on care. For journal purposes (clearly no expert here- info taken directly from my notes):

Right Front

  • Articular Cartilage Defects in the Coffin Joint. Treatment: Surgery or Stem Cell. Result: Potentially rideable (i.e. not for sport). Bottom Line: Neither of these treatments are going to entirely reverse the cartilage damage. Because of his age and current ability we are not going to pursue treatment for the existing defects.  
  • Synovitis- a thinning of the joint fluid which causes inflammation and continued degradation of the cartilage damage (the painful aspect). Treatment: Injections in the coffin joint every 3-6 months or IRAP (spinning his blood down to just the anti inflammatory proteins and re injecting into joint)  monthly for a period of time then moving into 3-6 month periods. Result: prevention of continued cartilage damage caused by inflammation in joint fluids. Bottom Line: unless we attempt to reverse the existing damage there is no reason to begin injections until he becomes uncomfortable. 
  • Flattening of the Contylar Metacarpal fetlock bone. I have no real concept of what this means however it is not seen as significant. Treatment: injections once a year. Bottom Line: we're not moving forward with treatment.
Left Front

  • Medial Collateral Ligament Injury (soft tissue) and Cystic Lesion on Coffin Joint. Treatment: Shock Wave therapy (3 sessions 2 weeks apart). Result: likely the same level of healing as if he was just given time off. Bottom Line: While he is lame in the left front he may heal from time off- we are not going to persue treatment. 
  • Soft tissue thickening in the abaxial ligaments. I don't even know. Not significant. 
Yikes right? Luckily I had the opportunity to sit down with my vet and review all of findings, all of the treatment options, and all of the potential recovery scenarios. At the end of the day we have a very young, green horse with a chronic condition. He will not be fit for use as a sport horse and is best suited as a pasture pet with the occasional trail ride. 
Perhaps the situation would be different if he was a seasoned jumping veteran that we were trying to keep going. I don't think it's fair to Wilbur to put him through the ordeal of treating this to do a job that all indications show he may not be best suited for. And although it's selfish, it's not fair for me to go through the stress and expense involved in maintaining a horse that will only be able to go out on a quiet hack once in awhile. 

That being said- he is currently comfortable to stand out in pasture and my financials are such that I can continue to support his current arrangement at Marlene's farm (she is such a saint). We've decided to give him a year in pasture- a fair shake to heal up. We'll bring him back to Pioneer in a year to reevaluate- hopefully he is sound enough to be rehomed as a pastured buddy and/ or a light trail horse. If not we'll have to look at some decisions about quality of life in near and long term scenarios. Kelly has some feelers out so we may rehome him sooner than later. It's a hard decision to make knowing that when he leaves my care he's at the mercy of someone else but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. 

I'm sad for him and disappointed for us but at the same time, life isn't always roses. Tough choices were tossed around and I'm just glad he gets to go home to his favorite pasture mate, Lulu.  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wilbur Pre MRI

There's some news and it's not good news but I'm going to wait to hear back from the MRI specialist on treatment options and continue to think happy thoughts. Articular cartilage damage which is chronic and degenerative but can be managed if treated aggressively. Plus a couple of other issues thrown in for good measure. It certainly validates the decision to bring him in and put him through the diagnostic wringer and I'm glad that it's no longer a "mystery" lameness.
A silly video before his MRI yesterday....





Wednesday, December 4, 2013

MRI

After today I can understand why the vets don't encourage the owners to stay for surgery or MRIs. 

I arrived at Pioneer around 11am in time to visit with Wilbur a bit before the ordeal got started at noon.
What a handsome fellow still sporting his matching blue bandage from the night before.


Wilbur headed into the clinic to start blood work at around 11:45 and I settled in to wait.
My office for the day in the Pioneer lounge.
One thing I really appreciated about the staff at Pioneer were the frequent updates. I learned that they thought Wilbs had a nail in his hoof which delayed the procedure for a bit (it was just a stone), that several hours in they were using what little bit of time was left to look at the pastern, that he was out of the MRI but still asleep, and that he had finally woken up but was still a bit groggy.

I was concerned about the waking up process. When my cat, Linus, was put under general anesthesia for dental work (never again) he woke up and kept falling over. A horse is quite a bit bigger than a cat.
The MRI tech stayed with Wilbur throughout his recovery. When he started to wake up the respiratory tubing was removed and it was Kendra's job to hold him down for as long as possible. But I guess once they're up and standing they're pretty steady. Kendra said he got up in a "smart way"- which made me oddly proud.

Wilbur was back in his stall by 5:15 and I had worn a hole in the floor waiting to say "hi." As a horse Mom, my mind naturally had resolved itself for the worst possible outcome and I was happy that I had made the decision to wait it out in person rather than wait for a phone call. I wanted him to know his person was there.
That being said- when I got to visit-  I wanted to both stay with him all night and run away quickly. Wilbur was still in recovery mode when I saw him- covered in sweat, shaking, and disoriented. I stayed for a while but it became obvious it was best to let him be.

The MRI results are sent to Florida to be reviewed and we should have back tomorrow or Friday. For now Wilbur has an indefinite stay at Pioneer until we know what's going on and have an action plan in place for treatment.

Proud of Wilbur for being so brave today!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Mystery Lameness

Where to start? I arrived at Pioneer Equine Hospital at 10 even though the appointment wasn't until 11. I wanted to make sure I got there on time and before Wilbur arrived. I stopped at Wendy's to use the bathroom and it was one of those odd situations where I was the only person there an the gal behind the counter greeted me when I came in. So I decided to get breakfast until I found out that they don't actually serve breakfast so I got a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger. At 9:30 in the morning.

To kill time in the Pioneer lounge I watched a surgery.










Marlene, the saint that she is, drove three hours this morning to deliver Wilbur promptly for his appointment and then waited until it looked like he was going to have to stay for a few days.
I guess I had hoped that he would hop out of the trailer and march around with no sign of any lameness. Instead the limp had gotten markedly worse on the front right.

So we started blocking- which is like injecting Novocaine into various parts of the hoof and leg to identify where the pain is occurring. In the video below we had blocked up to his pastern on the right and lower on the left. He needed to be injected again above the pastern to present without lameness.


Just taking his mind of the shots!

I'm not going to look cute for this!
Then we moved onto radiographs. Dr. Natasha grabbed me to review the X-rays, and while there was a slight degeneration of the navicular bone she didn't feel that it was enough to warrant his lameness. Everything else in his hoof and leg looked completely normal.
Moving on to the final trouble shooting phase, we found Wilbur in the Ultrasound room (which was dark so I don't have any pics). He had been such a brave boy all day but being in a stock with all the noise had worried him so when I found him he was drugged with his little head resting on a chair.
Dr. Suze was working on his suspensory (as the block could have traveled upwards and numbed pain in that area). He wanted to be such a good guy and stand still for us but there was quite a bit of shifting him to and fro to get the images needed.
It ended up being a great time to chat with Dr. Natasha and I found out that she rides with a coworker of mine. Claire is going to be tickled!

I had the chance to spend a while with Wilbur at the end of the day giving him a nice grooming and a few slices of Honey Crisp.

And that was it. We tried everything to identify the problem without having to do an MRI. It's scheduled for noon tomorrow so please keep my sweet boy in your thoughts.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Horse = Porsche

Paul and I took a cruise in my brother-in-law's Porsche while we were visiting for Thanksgiving.
The highlight of Paul's life
When we got home I lamented to Paul that suddenly my Honda Civic didn't seem quite so glamourous. With a deep sigh (and slight roll of his eyes) he dutifully reminded me that I actually drive two sports cars. And they both poop. 
Polly can be the Porsche and Wilbur can be the Mercedes

Although neither of them are actually very fast and have poor pickup

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Black Friday Mayhem

I thought I was being an incredibly responsible horse Holiday shopper this year. I had created my Smartpak shopping cart and was waiting for their Holiday promotion to place my order.
It was full of things I ACTUALLY needed for once including:

Turns out that in order to receive the 10% discount promo code I needed to spend $150+. I was a little bit annoyed because I find most solid brands are excluded from sales but ended up being pleasantly surprised that the Back on Track Quick Wraps that I had been coveting were included in the discount. 
They've gotten great reviews on Smartpak (a slave to the reviews) and since we already know that I am a total failure at wrapping anything.....
I got them! And feeling totally un-guilty since I would have ordered them anyway when Wilbur came home- this is just an advanced purchase at a discount! So ha! 

Clearly slightly guilty. Don't worry- it gets worse. 

I am a fan of the Back on Track product line for no other reason that the concept makes sense to me. Employing thermal therapy (using the subject as a heat source) as a way to bring down inflammation and loosen muscles seems like an added bonus to the average standing wraps. 


Imagine my excitement on Black Friday when I saw what was on Tack of the Day (a daily discount site for horse lovers)! While my sister-in-law shopped for deals on Express.com- I happily added to my BOT collection- purchasing the polo wraps, no bow wraps, and saddle pad.
WTF. How did a totally frugal Black Friday turn into a massive shopping spree? And what is going to happen tomorrow? I also love that I no longer even scan my JCrew or Madewell emails- it's all about Dover, Smartpak, Farmhouse (15% off all breeches)!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving: Thankful Edition

What a ride! This time last year I was just a few months into my new job, was a few days away from owning Wilbs, and was getting ready to spend another chilly winter in the cottage!

With Thanksgiving upon us I thought this might be a good time to share a few things that I'm thankful for this year......

I'm thankful........

To have a job that I enjoy going to every day. That is deeply involved in the equestrian lifestyle. And that allows me to have an entrepreneurial spirit and affect change. My team is fantastic- there is not a harder working bunch in the industry.

That we have a comfortable home even if it is a bit cramped. Despite losing out on the past 5 (yes 5) offers we have a lovely spot that allows us to take our time and find a home that's right for us. Frankly, the longer it takes the more we can save. I'm slightly glad that we didn't get the house yesterday- that's a lot of cold, hard cash heading out the door.

I'm thankful for my cat, Linus. He's the ever faithful sounding board and always agrees with me. Also always up for a good cuddle until he decides he's not and bites me.

My horses of course. Even though Wilbur is on vacation I'm glad he is enjoying himself and can look forward to having him home. Polly is such a sweet girl and a most pleasant diversion. And the barn where I've met such a wonderful group of people- truly a barn family.

My very own family- obviously. I was so happy to be able to visit my parents this past October and spend some time with just the two of them. Of course my sisters- who I must make an effort to keep in better contact with next year (hello- do I hear a New Years resolution post in the works?).

Speaking of families- I'm so lucky and thankful to have such a great group of in-laws! I love the random newspaper clippings and emails that arrive to break up the day!

Last but certainly not least- my husband Paul. Firstly, he's super handsome. But beyond looks....he's so supportive in all of my endeavors. Always gently reminding me of "work/ life" balance. So thoughtful, helpful, and kind. I am a lucky, lucky girl.

I was saying to my Mom a month or two ago that things just didn't feel quite right in the world. Despite being a little off-kilter this year I am reminded by this list and so many other things not mentioned here and that I live a wonderful life.
I'm thankful for that.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tack Trunks: How Many is Too Many?

Tack. Trunk. Obsession. I don't know what to say. Three tack trunks is a little excessive. 

I'll attribute this neurosis entirely to my big blue tupperware. I toted that Tupperware to not one, not two, but three different barns- and across the country from Indiana to California to boot. Bless my trainers hearts, they always found a spot for it. Albeit in the far back corner under a pile of blankets. 

While there is nothing wrong at all with storing riding gear in a giant tupperware, I had always admired the shiny barn trunks lined up in a row. 

When I bought Wilbur I also bought a "large" trunk from an online retailer and waiting eagerly for the arrival. It was small. Small enough to be called cute. Call out here for failure to measure.  

And naturally I had done a pretty substantial amount of shopping to supply Wilbs in the funnest of outfits. So I lived a bit like a nomad- with the essentials in the cute trunk and the rest overflowing my other trunk- the trunk of my car. 

Then the Smartpak trunk arrived. I freaking love everything about it. It's huge, fits most of my stuff (cue cute trunk), has a bandage lid top. Perfection personified in a wooden box. 

Fast forward to May when I joined the KMT team. My dream of having a barn branded trunk was about to be realized and in a fit of excitement I ordered one. It was supposed to take 6-8 weeks the arrive but we never got a call and I milked that extra time for as long as it was worth. But I knew that it had to be waiting for pickup at Western Saddlery so I mustered up my bank account along with the 6 $20 gift cards we had won showing this year and picked it up on Saturday. 

It's beautiful. It has my name on it. The KMT trunk is now storing the blankets, show gear, and Wilbur's tack while he's gone. 
And the cute trunk is sitting in my backseat (yes- it fits in the backseat of my Honda Civic) waiting to go to a new home. I'm hoping it goes to some horse crazy girl who has a very large tupperware of her own.