Sunday, February 25, 2018

Return of the Sea Pony

It's been a couple years since Mochs has went to the beach.  The last time she was at the beach is before we got on the Navicular roller coaster.  The last time I took her was to Fernandina Beach in Florida.  In other words, she has been overdue for a while now on a beach trip.

I fixed that this past week.  Mochs and I went to the beach with a friend.  The weather was perfect for a beach ride, and after keeping a close eye on the waves for a bit, Mochs then started to follow the water back out when the waves would recede.  It was pretty adorable.

Mochs and Indian.

I honestly questioned if I would ever see this day again with her before we had our recent soundness break through.  Beach riding is always a good time, but having Mochs out there again made it even better.

A Trillion Pieces

A trillion pieces is what my heart was shattered into last Tuesday. 

About two months ago our beloved Manny Lion was diagnosed with Small Cell Lymphoma, which is typically very treatable and manageable in cats.  I couldn't believe it from the first time the word Lymphoma was mentioned at the vet.  His appetite had been on the decline and he just wasn't himself, so we took him to the vet where it was initially thought maybe he had a food allergy.  He got better with some medication but over the following two weeks we went back to where we began so we took him back in. 

They did blood work and while there was nothing crazy, there was an elevated white blood cell count so the sample was sent off to a pathologist for further examination.  The pathologist said it looked like an inflammatory response, and while there was a slight chance it was the start of Lymphoma, he suspected that was not it.

Next step was an ultrasound to see if anything abnormalities were present, and, there were.  There were a few spots of thickened intestine which could be Lymphoma or Irritable Bowel Disease.  The only way to find out was surgical biopsy.  The vet said he was a good candidate for the biopsy surgery and so we did it to find the answers we needed in order to get him on the correct treatment for whatever it was.

The biopsy surgery was successful, but it was horrible when we picked him up afterward.  He was still so out of it from the anathesia wearing off that his eyes were glassed over and he could barely sit up.  By morning he was back to normal, so that was a huge relief.  We spent the next two weeks taking turns sleeping in the spare bedroom with him, on the floor because anything he could jump on had to be out of the room.  He wasn't allowed to jump on anything for two weeks.  We made it through that uneventfully and solved the problem during the day by getting him a big dog crate so he could go into that in the living room in his favorite spot.  That way he didn't have to stay in a spare bedroom the whole two weeks.

Our biopsy results came back and confirmed we were dealing with Lymphoma and we were referred to an oncologist.  I called immediately and got the first available appointment three days later.  When we went to that appointment we found out it was Small Cell Lymphoma, and not Large Cell which requires a much more aggressive treatment.  The treatment was pretty easy, daily prednisone and a chemo pill every other day.  I was worried about chemo until I learned it is much, much different for animals than people.  Animals don't go through the same hell that people do.  The only side effect was really that is appetite came back in full force, which was great.

The treatment we were doing can put cats into remission for years.  There were no side effects except his return/increase in appetite.  Three weeks went by and we were so happy and relieved because he did a complete 180 in a matter of three days after starting treatment.  For three weeks he was feeling great and back to normal, until last Monday.

Last Monday he was withdrawn, which is not normal for him.  I thought maybe his medications made him feel a little crappy and he was having a bad day.  He had some withdrawn days prior to treatment  but within a day he'd bounce back to normal.  The next day he still seemed out of it but he did eat some treats and was upstairs with me and jumped up on the couch in his normal spot to nap.  I thought he was starting to feel better. 

I was gone all day and when I came home, his food was still untouched. He was in the same spot, which was odd because normally he meets us at the door when he hears the garage door.  I started to pet him and he felt HOT.  I decided it was time to go to the ER and off we went.

He had a high fever but the vet wasn't sure what was causing it.  Blood work was pulled and nothing crazy was showing up. They decided to admit him and get him on some fluids and antibiotics.  I said good night and went home to get a phone call at 4am from the vet.  In his diagnostics he took a chest x-ray and caught part of his stomach where he noticed what looked like fluid.  He took an x-ray of the area and it showed his abdominal cavity had a lot of fluid.  He pulled sample and put it under the microscope only to find it flooded with bacteria.  Something ruptured and he was septic.

This was the first big financial committment point where the vet tries to phrase "how much are you willing to spend?" as nicely as they can.  Doesn't matter to us, we needed our boy to get better and I said we don't care what the cost it, unless it means horrible suffering.  That meant emergency surgery to find out what had ruptured and repair it.

The surgeon was called in early and everything was prepped at the main office and I took him straight there where they were waiting for him.  As we were waiting in the lobby I was petting his head and he was still purring.  They took him back and started the surgery.

About an hour and a half later we (and we being myself and an amazing, selfless friend that was there through the entire nightmare, because The Other Half is out of the country right now) were called back for an update.  They put us in one of those nice rooms and I knew what that meant.

The surgeon came in and explained that a tumor had ruptured and that was the cause of the fluid.  Then she said the worst thing possible.  The tumor was in the worst place possible and to remove the damaged intestine would mean rerouting a lot of things.  The tissue was also so damaged from the cancer it was "crumbly" and wouldn't hold sutures well.  She said that if we wanted to go ahead she would complete the surgery but the issue was recovery would be extremely painful and she said every patient they have completed the surgery on never made it out of recovery, never made it home.

And there it went, my heart shattering into a trillion pieces.  I really don't want to go into the rest of the details, but the summary is that I let him go on the operating table with my cheek pressed to his head while I was petting his side.  This is the part where you have to not be selfish despite it being the hardest decision in the world.  I signed the papers to pay the $6,000 for the surgery/recovery but we draw the line at his quality of life including suffering and extreme pain with no chance of ever leaving the hospital by making it out of recovery.  That is where it crosses the line of doing it for yourself and not for them.

He was the best cat we have ever had, with a huge personality, and his own Instagram (the_manny_lion).  This wasn't supposed to happen.  This came out of nowhere.  He was supposed to have years left with a tried and true treatment.  A part of my heart left with him and it will never come back.  The surgeon said that this is something that was only a matter of time before it happened and that nothing would have stopped this.

I really don't know what else to say except that we lost our son this week and it will hurt forever.  The only thing that will help the pain is time.  I have daily sobbing fits, a couple days were crying for hours and if I don't make a conscious effort to control my mind from wandering back to the hospital that morning I will break down no matter where I am. 

I always try to find the good in every situation, or learn something so I can do better next time.  The only good I can find in this is the chance to spring a kitty or two from a shelter so they can know what it is like to have a forever family.

Manny will be home early this week.  Please don't ask me any other details about this, I won't answer, that was easily one of the worst days of my entire life.  I'd like to post a bunch of pictures showing what an amazing Cat Child he was but going through pictures is too painful right now.  The shock is started to wear off and reality is starting to hit me like a ton of bricks.

To my amazing friend, I know you don't want to hear any more thank yous because that is what friends do, but I am so thankful for you.  Cue more sobbing, I'm done with this post.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

PSA: The Training Wheels Have to Come Off at Some Point

I've noticed that there is somewhat of an epidemic going on with lack of confidence both within my own friends, and at shows.  Now with show season approaching, I'm sure I will continue to see it, and I don't understand it.  I think I know why I don't understand it, but I still can't comprehend it.

People are deathly afraid to ride their own horses without their trainer.  Key word THEIR OWN HORSES.  Not a lease horse, not a lesson horse, or any other form of riding a horse that you do not personally own.  THEIR OWN HORSE.  They act like their own horse, which they paid for, pay all the maintenance on, and even insure, in some cases, has been syndicated.  So, who is the mystery owner that limits them from doing whatever they want with their own horse?  Their trainer.

Having a trainer is not bad thing, at all.  This post is not to discredit trainers in any way shape or form.  But, is not a little ridiculous when people pass up shows or schooling because their trainer can't go on that day.  Do you really lack that much confidence in your own abilities that you can't even go to a damn schooling show without your trainer?  Think about ride your horse with them all the time, is the training they are giving you not sinking in, no making sense to you?  Because if that is the case, you better speak up and fix that.  At a show, you can either ride your horse or you can't.  There is no big, magical fix that is going to happen in the short time span that is a horse show.

Last year I was at a show where the girl ahead of me was called in for her stadium round and she started freaking out "I...I can't go yet, my trainer isn't over here yet.  I can't go in."  This was a schooling show, so it is a learning opportunity and I can appreciate that, but...either you can ride your horse, or you can't.  If you can't go in the ring and ride your horse without your security blanket, is that not dangerous?  The people running the ring at that show weren't having it, because there was a nasty storm on its way in, and said get in there and go, NOW.

Think about all the great schooling opportunities you miss out on when you won't go because your trainer's schedule doesn't match up.  I understand if you are in a spot where you are trying to move up a level and feel you need some coaching to school it, but I would say 99% of the situations I have witnessed, that is not the case or anywhere close to it.  Do you realize just how much you are limiting yourself? Also, do you realize how much self confidence and partnership building you are missing out on by refusing to take the training wheels off and going out without your security blanket?

What if your trainer gets hurt and is out of the barn for a few weeks?  Then what do you do?  Nothing?  Your progress stops?

I've known people that want to jump but won't because their trainer isn't there that day.  I suggested just putting up a course of cross rails and they still were like "oh no, I can't."  You can't jump cross rails by yourself?  Say what?  You do realize your horse could STEP over a cross rail at the walk, right?

I've even known some people that won't make a minor change like try a different bit on their horse because "my trainer would be upset with me."  Why?  For doing something with your own horse?  How will you ever know if that different bit makes your horse more comfortable if you won't even try it because someone else, who doesn't own YOUR horse told you not to do it?  Have some self confidence people.  YOU know your horse.  Stop letting someone else dictate your every move.  These people act like they're going to commit a criminal act if they deviate from any tiny little thing their trainer has suggested.

Some of the examples above are why I understand why this happens sometimes.  I can't comprehend it because I don't have a frame of reference for it.  I learned to ride with no trainer at all, ever.  My mom bought me my first horse and told me I had to learn to ride bareback first before she'd get me tack.  She didn't have money to put me in lessons, so I never had any.  Now as an adult I have taken lessons here and there but have never had a regular trainer, and have never had any of my horses in training with any trainer.  A trainer is an absolute luxury to me, not a necessity.  But I do understand some people had the good fortune of growing up in a regular lesson program and from there they have developed this need for their security blanket.  However, I don't think that changes the fact that you limit yourself in a big way when you rely on someone else so much.

We have all heard that nothing grows in a comfort zone, practice what is difficult or what you are not good at, etc...  That doesn't mean you have to do something dangerous that is so above your skill level you run the risk of hurting yourself or your horse, it can start with simple things like jumping a small course by yourself at home, or going along with a friend for some xc schooling at a level you are already competent at.  If you can't do these things, maybe you have the wrong horse?  Maybe you have the wrong trainer?  All I'm saying is do yourselves a favor and work on your self confidence both within your own abilities and the trust you have with your horse.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Arranging 2018 Training Priorities

Now that Mochi is back in work, and feeling great, I've had to stop and think about my plans for this year.  My plan was to compete Klein at second level in some dressage shows with an event here or there, or a jumper show.  Klein is an easy tune up.  In a couple weeks it will be time to start putting some wind in her again.

Mochs, well, she is going to take longer to get fit due to being out of consistent work for two years.  So, it's pretty obvious where the priority is right now.  Mochi needs to get back in shape and gain some strength so that we can do some work this year.  While I have a really hard time pulling myself away from Klein to any degree, I realized that I'm really not doing that just by making Mochs a little higher on the priority list due to what I already mentioned, Klein being an easy tune up.  She requires some basics and conditioning regularly when the weather gets a bit nicer, but she is easy to maintain once I get her there.  She remembers everything I have ever taught her and her love of working makes her happy to do these things any day of the year.

I also have recently gotten an awesome opportunity to ride some horses for a local barn (post coming soon).  This is a great learning opportunity above all.  Sure I will be training them, but I feel like I still learn something from every single one of them and those experiences help me to continue to improve my own riding.  I love riding a variety of horses because you can learn so much no matter what level of training they are at.

Mochs deserves to have her time to shine, and now that it is here, she also deserves my very best effort so we can be the best team we can be.  So, when you guys don't see Klein out at shows as much as she usually is, just know there is nothing wrong with her, she's not done, she's not on a complete break, she's not benched, she's just fine!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Waving Good-Bye to my Dreams of a Klein Baby

For years now I've had this dream of a Klein baby.  I even have a name picked out (which I will save for a special filly later on).  Klein is my Horse of a Lifetime, my Heart Horse, and there will never be another like her, ever.  In addition, she physically, and mentally, is great breeding material.  She's built exceedingly well, she has good feet, she's amazingly athletic, she's sane yet has an insanely strong work ethic.  Anything she could produce would be amazing, or would it? 

I have been drooling over Million Dollar BWP for a couple years now too.  I WANT A FOAL FROM HIM.  He's such a freak that people thought some of his jumping pictures from inspections were photoshopped, they're not.

Images courtesy of

Unbelieveable, right?  You can read a little about him here:  Million Dollar BWP

And, of course you need to watch this video:

I've been watching his foals too.  He has some in the U.S. that are looking pretty promising.  However, while I would have loved for this guy to make a Klein baby, there's nothing stopping me from getting one of his foals from another mare.

We all know you roll the dice with breeding.  You could have two horses that you would think would be fail proof to produce something stellar, but there's always the chance that you'll get something you don't want.  By don't want, for me, that would be something that would have some kind of physical issue that would not allow for many years of riding.  What if it comes out with legs so crooked it would never hold up for any kind of riding?  By default I'd have to keep it anyway because I couldn't get rid of a Klein baby no matter what.

The biggest thing that has always been in the back of my mind with breeding her is what if something goes wrong and something happens to her?  I would NEVER forgive myself.  Breeding is an elective procedure.  She doesn't have to be bred, so if something happened, especially with a procedure that wasn't even necessary, devastated doesn't begin to describe the level of destruction it would do to me.

What if something happens to the baby?  What if it gets deathly ill shortly after birth?  What if it's a stillborn?  What if it's a Cyclops Foal (YouTube that if you haven't seen one, it's real)?  Recently I've read about Torsion Colic and Pregnancy Seizures (and saw a heartbreaking video of a mare having one of those seizures).  What if those things happened?  I know, the what ifs can go on forever, there are hundreds if not thousands of what ifs.  I also know the risk of those things happening is very low.  However, even with the low risk, I have decided it's just not worth it to me.  I also know that something could happen in the pasture tomorrow, but again, breeding is elective.

Some more pros to not breeding her are that the next mare (that's one right there, that it WILL be a filly) I buy will guaranteed be healthy, with good confirmation.  I will know exactly what I am getting and get to physically see it before deciding.

If I win the PowerBall at some point, a Klein clone isn't out of the question, but breeding is just not going to happen.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Happy 27th Birthday-4th Retirement-Homecoming Anniversary Wesson!

One of my favorite pictures with him, taken by my dear friend that so generously "ponysat" him for two weeks during our move up to NJ.

Yesterday was another milestone for Wes.  It was the 4th anniversary of him being home.  I still look out the window every day and can't believe he's home with me.  If you haven't seen the post about the day he got home, here it is:

We also call his Retirement/Homecoming Anniversary his birthday since we don't know his exact birthday.  He turns 27 this year and is still going strong.  He is getting ornery in his old age.  It's not uncommon for me to hear the door to the feed stall be thrown open while I'm getting their dinner ready and turn around to see him in the door.  I still have to keep the stalls latched open because if they're not, he loves to trap Mochi in a stall.  She thinks she's actually trapped when he closes the door on her.  He has done it to Klein too, but Klein just slides the door open again and lets herself out.

This video is in the linked post, but in case you have already read it I have to put this video on this post.  This was the first day of the rest of his life, and also part of the reason we call his anniversary his birthday.  Again, he was very well taken care of at the carriage company, but he did live in a down town area with no turn out, just a small paddock.  Keep in mind he did walk miles through down town Salt Lake City 4-5 days a week. 

 Wes at work in downtown Salt Lake City.

When I drove him prior to my Air Force career, he was always one of the most enthusiastic workers.  He truly did love his job, but it was evident that his just being a horse side had faded when he arrived home and I realized he forgot how to graze.  It took him almost a month to figure it out.

 I will never forget the minute I took this picture.  This was the first bite of grass he took after just staring at the grass for the first month he was home.  He knew he was supposed to do something with it but he couldn't remember what, so he would just put his head down and stare at it, until this day.
He's just a content old guy that's happy to see the sun come up every morning and have his daily roll.  The only thing that seems to change is the grey around his eyes.  It gets a little more grey each year but nothing else about him seems to change. 

I put some pictures from the past year in this post since right now he is full on yak status.  I fully expect him to shed out to shiny dapples again this spring.

I still can't thank those of you who helped Bring Wes Home enough.  I only hope that these posts and updates about him are a small token of our appreciation, so that you can see he is living it up in retirement.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Mochi Update: Now You Can Call it a Come Back

I feel like it's gradually becoming more and more ok for me to let my excitement with Mochs progress this year be believable.  She feels...AMAZING.  She looks AMAZING.  I really think this is going to be the year where I can compete her regularly again.  She is looking and feeling the best she ever has.  I *THINK* we may have just gotten off the roller coaster ride that has been the past two years.  The most recent ups and downs of the roller coaster being this past summer:

She has went out again with friends.  These types of outings are perfect for her.  Now that she is back to work, she has been going all over the place with me.  That second time we went for a hack with friends her anxiety surfaced for no particular reason.  Her hindquarters started to quiver before I even loaded her that morning.  Normally it starts once she's loaded.  Even when she does this, I still have her loose in a box stall on the trailer.  She gets wound up but she doesn't act stupid in the trailer, so I continue to allow her to have her freedom back there to do what makes her comfortable, i.e. look out whatever window she wants, turn around and ride backward, or just ride facing forward, eating her hay.

She was also wound up for our ride.  The week before she was pretty mellow, but that time she insisted on being out in front and how she out walked two big horses with her pony power walk, I don't know.  She settled half way through the ride though and that right there is why we do those things.  That's the only thing that will help, just go out and do stuff.

You may recognize that tall, dark, and handsome fellow, Scout, from 

So much fun!  Not often I have the smallest horse!

In addition to hacks she's on the lunge line once or twice a week, sans any type of tack.  We'll throw side reins in the mix here shortly.  I have been riding her in the ring once or twice a week right now as well, and that will pick up as she gets more in shape.

Feeling good and making it known, yet still adorable while doing it.

Today, she was nothing short of amazing for her flat work.  She could not have been any better.  She without a doubt feels the best she's ever felt.  Even her canter is somewhat together right now.  She's lacking in the strength department, but with increased work that will return and her balance at the canter will improve.  Here is some video at the trot today:

A post shared by Stacey C (@jumpingpercheron) on

I am determined to make this her year.