Monday, July 15, 2013


What I like about summer is the warmth and light of the sun.  I have much more energy in the summer.  My creakiness doesn't seem as noticeable during the summer months.  I have no problem awaking at 6:30 a.m. and ease into my work day by having my morning coffee as I water my little garden and hanging pots.  After that is done, I have my second cup reading the paper and chatting about world events with My Husband, before I go upstairs to get ready for work. Summer replenishes me.

Summer + riding doesn't work for me, however.  The first summer I had Gem, the temperatures were normal and I was injury free; I was able to ride regularly but in the arena or paddock only, because of my lack of experience.  The next summer, I was still recovering from surgery, so my riding was limited.  The summer of 2011 was tolerable hot although I remember the flies being horrific; they made horse and rider miserable.  I actually had flies hit me in the eyeball a couple of times.  Gross.  The summer of 2012 was awful.  The high temperatures hit us in May, starting our drought, and it was so uncomfortable that I stopped lessons.  Trail rides were far and few between.  In July, I fell and decided that recovering from a pulled groin was the right time to put Gem into 30-day boot camp.  This summer we have been hit once again with high temperatures (32-35C/+90F).  This year, however, it's wet.  The humidity makes it feel like +40C/+100F and the only relief we get from "big hair" days is when we experience torrential rain storms coupled with thunder.  There doesn't seem to be any relief in the near future; these conditions will continue to linger for the next while. Tragically, a lady that I know lost her older horse to a heart attack attributed to the sweltering conditions.  Just when my confidence has improved enough to accommodate the sweltering heat and hit the trails, our time together was sabotaged by Gem's abscess.  It appears that I am not meant to be a summer rider.

We thought we had the abscess licked a couple of weeks ago.  In fact, after the vet checked him the first time and my farrier put a little hole in his hoof where some pus escaped, he was sound enough at a walk for me to saddle him up a few days later and get on him for 10 minutes; I did try him at a jog so that LA could assess him and he was still off.  The next time I took him out of his stall, he was lame at a walk.  The heat was back in his hoof.  I freaked out.  LA happened to have a QH trainer friend visiting; Larry is also a farrier, so he re-opened the hole that my farrier had done and sure enough a very small amount of pus came out.  Was this abscess ever going to go away????  Or was it just going to linger on forever???!!!

Abscess at coronet band.
We continued to soak and poultice daily. The vet was out to float some teeth, so I asked that he take a look at Gem.  As he felt around the coronet band, Gem pulled his hoof away when he applied pressure to the front of the band, straight up from where the hole in his hoof was.  The vet believes that the original hole closed up, even with us soaking and applying poultices daily.  When Larry re-opened the hole, residue pus escaped, but the rest of the infection was already traveling upwards toward the coronet band. When I rode him, even though it was at a walk, it aggravated the infection.  Now it was a waiting game.  He recommended that I take Gem for short walks or light free lunge to stimulate the blood flow to the hoof and encourage the abscess to blow.

I have been continuing to soak his foot, just to keep the original hole clean, and have been hand walking him or allowing him to run around the paddock.  He is sound at a walk, but still off at a jog.  When he lopes/canters (at his instigation, not mine) around the paddock, he seems sound but I suspect that it's an illusion because of the gait.  Standing in direct sun, in hot sand, is not my idea of fun.  The sweat drips down my face, even into my eyes.  Thank goodness for waterproof mascara!!  :-)  But watching Gem look somewhat normal as he moves around the paddock is a big relief.

Something that I have observed since his abscess is that some of his manners have gone by the wayside.  He sometimes revert back to being pushy.  Could be the heat, could be his discomfort.  But, it's something that we will be working on over the next couple of weeks while we are spending time on the ground.   Yesterday, I let him loose in the paddock.  He wouldn't move away unless I did, so I started walking around the paddock with him following me like a dog.  We worked on whoa (pretty good), stand (pretty good) and come (not so good).  He crowded me a couple of times and I had to correct.  There is an exercise ball in the paddock and I kicked it to him and he "threw" it back to me a number of times before he lost interest.  It was just too friggin hot!!

Gem appreciates the 15 minutes out of his stall when I walk him or let him run around the paddock and he especially enjoys the grass treat afterwards.  I have to say that I am so pleased that he's not out during the day in these temperatures.  He gets to nap is the coolness of the barn and then appreciate more acceptable temperatures at night when he's turned out.  I know, I know....he's a horse and they can easily accommodate the weather, but it makes ME feel better to know that he's as comfortable as he can be.  :-) 

As of yesterday, there is no indication that the abscess has blown and there wasn't any heat around the coronet band.  Perhaps the abscess has been reabsorbed??  Keep your fingers crossed that Gem as at the end of this incident.  Hope everyone is staying cool!!!  I find Mojitos help.  :-)