I have to say I am excited about the possibilities of Arrow’s future!!! It really does bother me that my boy is only 11 years old and has Kissing Spine which seemed to be something that could be managed but not without pain at various points of his life. That is not a life for him. I started thinking about not riding him at all and just let him live the pasture life. I don’t think that is exactly what he would want but we would deal with it. Lots of hand walks and snuggle time but horses are like humans in that they too get bored. Horses want a job. He seems to relax most when going on nice quiet trail rides. That was what I wanted for him but last time we just walked around a few weeks ago he was definitely back sore. I don’t want that for him. I don’t want anyone thinking this is leading to me putting him down, I just don’t want to continue putting him in pain for several days so I can have my horse ride fix with him. I decided to start doing my own research on it and came across an article that may have sent us in a new direction and it’s a positive direction. It is called “How to help your horse kiss ‘Kissing Spine’ goodbye. It was written by Visconte (yes he is ) Simon Cocozza who is from Italy but currently resides in France. He successfully brought a horse to Grand Prix level in Dressage with Kissing Spine! He works with top international riders to keep their horses in top condition. His resume is extensive and he has spent much time studying KS. He reversed the KS. I have been told by several people that KS could not be reversed so I accepted that for a short time but after reading his article and researching his achievements I believe it can and I believe Arrow deserves the chance for me to try to do this for him. It takes a long time, patience and skill at doing Dressage moves accurately to give the most benefit. It’s a scary task. He said 10 minutes of a bad sitting trot can ruin 3 months of progress. If you are interested to learn more I highly recommend the article! It pops right up when you google! After reading it, I decided to email him Arrow’s story not really expecting a reply or at least NOT the reply I got. He responded within 8 hours and requested his Bone Scan, X-Rays, Vet report and videos of him trotting on a longe line. I have everything to him except the videos and Chloe will be getting him that. Once he has everything together he said we will go from there. I was overwhelmed with JOY!! Here is the challenge and maybe this was why I had started to want to focus on Dressage before I even knew why. His method includes stretches done from the back of the horse that mimic Yoga/Pilates moves. The idea is to build up the back and shoulder muscles to be able to pull the spine up. Of course, I am writing this from layman’s point of view so it would probably be best to read the article to get the full benefit of what I am trying to say. His rehab is based on four elements that are all needed to be successful. Stretch, Trust, Strength and Education. In order to do this, your riding skills become a huge factor. He told me that right now, it will be a challenge for me at my level but with the help of Chloe (she is such a beautiful rider) he is confident we can do this. She would need to be the rider on him for some time while working on my skills to get me to the level to be able to do the exercises without causing more damage. YIKES!! Dressage training will be necessary for me. I have already started focusing my lessons on that. I’m even challenging myself and competing at a higher level for my next show at the beginning of June. I’m committed to his recovery and will do what it takes. I will definitely keep my blog updated starting with the plan he puts together for us when he has all of the info he needs to assess his situation. Even if it turns out that his condition is further advanced so that it cannot be completely reversed any change would be positive and beneficial to his quality of life. Makes me one happy Mama!!
Now to the not so happy side of Arrow’s past. I can only do a short overview of what is going on. Due to circumstances not related to him, I cannot disclose the whole story for awhile but will eventually. The rescue Arrow came from has been under investigation and what I have been finding out from those involved or know about the rescue has been very disturbing. I have read news articles that indicate it is in the processing of closing. We will see where that goes. I’ve heard from several different people that not all horses that are rescued end up on the ‘freedom walk’. Some have been euthanized even after the Vet cleared them to be perfectly fine pasture pets. The vet did not euthanize them. Their lives were ended with a bullet in the head because the expense to keep a horse that had a very small chance of being adopted was too expensive. Arrow’s days were numbered. While KS had not been diagnosed, he was definitely lame and was not cleared as a horse that could be ridden. None of this was disclosed to me. It is in my contract that Arrow must be returned to the rescue should I not be able to keep him. After what I learned, there is no way in hell he would go back. I love him so much!! I have made arrangements for him should something happen to me. I know Joe loves him tons and tons but he is not a 'horse' person and I don’t expect him to take on the huge responsibility of his care. Especially with his condition. It wouldn’t be fair to him or Joe. He is set to go to a very loving home and Chloe is aware of this and I’m sure will facilitate his move. Of course, I hope this never happens but it gives me peace of mind knowing my boy will be well taken care of!! It takes a special person to take on a horse with his challenges so I am lucky to know this person! I Can’t disclose more than that at this moment.
Right now, until I have Simon’s input I am holding off on even the Pessoa work with Arrow. He gets PEMF sessions, chiropractic and long hand walks. He has had another shockwave treatment and Osphos which is new and like ANY drug we take or our equine babies take it comes with its opponents but I trust my Vet who works on this part of his vet needs to do what she thinks is best and we did it for him. It’s to help with issues in his front limbs. He had no adverse reaction to it and is fine so even if it didn’t have a huge effect which isn’t known yet, he didn’t have a bad reaction. I have found that everyone has an opinion on Arrow’s treatment but I am comfortable enough with what I know about him to now be a key person in the final decisions. Anything I question, I go to Chloe with and have complete confidence in her. She knows her Shit!! She also cares about Arrow’s future and would never put him at risk for future detrimental damage. I’m over the moon to know that there is a possibility my Arrow could be a light trail horse with no pain. Again, it is not a definite AND we have a lot of work ahead of us. He is worth it!! To me, he is a priceless horse! The pic is a fun one of Arrow portraying Hannibal Lecter. He is actually making everyone aware of the fact that his bucket needs some grain!
It’s Arrow’s Birthday!! Having him in my life makes me feel like it is my Birthday everyday. I so love this boy! Today will be a day of treats and a nice relaxing walk around Kingsway. It will be a hand walk while listening to Barry Manilow, The Eagles or The Capenters. I’ll let him decide.
Normally we would go for a ride on his birthday but unfortunately he has had a set back. Last week I worked him in the Pessoa and then the next day rode him for almost 2 hours. We trotted a few steps to catch up to Kristen and Annie and the rest was walking. I just realized I have not talked about them. At the end of my last post I mentioned the Hunter Derby. It was sooooo much fun! I did 2 different classes. I rode in the Hill Toppers which simulates riding through a Hunting field. I am probably not wording it right. It is timed. Usually it is teams of 2 or 3 but I was allowed to ride with Kristen and her horse Annie and her friend Brianne and Kristen’s other horse Nike, and another student of Chloe’s, Rachael, and her brand new horse C.J. I rode Gwendolyn. We got 5th place! Then I did the X Rails with Kristen and we got 3rd! That is where you jump a series of 10 X Rails as a pair in an arena setting trying to reach optimum time. Kristen came to Kingsway after her horses were evacuated during the San Luis Rey fires. She liked Kingsway so much she stayed. Good thing! I’ve really met the most fascinating people since I became a horse owner at Kingsway. As I am meeting more and more people I am really learning how unique Kingsway is today. Not many barns left like it in Southern California. Side bar finished. The 2 hour ride was too much for Arrow. He was very saddle sore afterwards and I did not have any pain killers for him. He is actually still a little sore so I am going back to just Pessoa work and hand walks for at least 2 weeks. Debra did his PEMF therapy a little early to help ease his pain. It’s like trying to find out the right combination or dosage of drugs for people. I have to figure out what his threshold is. What amount of rehab and riding is too much and what is too little. We will figure it out. I’m sure it will change over time as he ages. All I know is he was not a very happy horse that day of our long walk. Ugh! He has been resting ever since. Today we did the Pessoa for about 15 minutes and he responded very well so I want to keep this positivity going and not get him worked up again. I’m working with the Vet and my insurance company to see how many additional shockwave therapy treatments I can do. I should be able to do 2 as each treatment is $400 and I have $800 left to spend for insurance. As of now, Shockwave therapy is the ONLY treatment covered.
Arrow was really cute the other day. It was very quiet as far as people at Kingsway but there was the normal constant bird chirping going on. It’s like one of those relaxation apps. I brought Arrow up to groom him. There is a tree next to where I tie him up. I don’t know what kind of bird it was but it had a distinctive sound from the other’s and would only chirp for about 30 seconds every 5 minutes or so. Arrow kept his head down and eyes almost closed most of the time I groomed him but every time the bird would start chirping his head would shoot up, his ears went forward and he would stare at the tree. As soon as the bird stopped he put his head down. I have no idea what attracted him to that particular bird since you always hear birds. Wish he could tell me.
The other day I was walking around with Arrow and someone told me he had beautiful Dapples! What??? In my head I knew dapples to be on Gray horses and I thought that was just part of their markings. I took a step back and looked at him in the sunlight and sure enough found he was covered in them. He has never had dapples since I got him. So of course I went to my ever so knowledgeable trainer Chloe and said I was going to ask a dumb question. Can a horse sometimes have dapples and then not have dapples? She told me this was an indication that I was taking good care of him and he is in good health. An article I read said that some horses do not have the genes to produce them so some of the healthiest horses will never have dapples. My dapple lesson was very exciting for me as a newer horse owner. Sometimes I question whether I am really doing the best I can for him and while there is definitely lots of room for improvement and learning it just confirms that I am on the right track!
Spring is finally here! I probably do not get as excited as those in areas that actually have seasons. To me it seems like it has been Spring since the Fall. I’m thrilled to say that my little Money Pit (Arrow of course! ) has had great improvement since therapy started after his diagnosis. Chloe rode him for the 1st time since October a few weeks ago. She said he did better than she expected. She gave me the ok to ride him lightly. I rode him twice with her before I attempted to trail ride him on my own. So far we have gone on 3 rides, 1 with Dutchess, and they made my heart happy! Arrow was such a good boy! Very relaxed and easy going. He didn’t spook at all! He really is becoming a different horse. My farrier said he is different when getting shod. His anxiety has gone away. Debra said she just had the best session with him yet, my Vet that does his chiropractic and his general Vet said his top line is filling out nicely so Yayyyyyyy for Arrow!!! I’m so happy for him and it makes the expense so far a little less painful. I’m reaching $7000 and only $2500 has been covered. I just submitted my last receipt for $1400 for the Shockwave Therapy. Fingers crossed on this. I have a high school reunion in Minnesota at the end of the summer so I need my plane ticket $$ back! I also do not see him not needing his chiropractic or PEMF sessions anytime in the near future and that is not covered. Ugh. I never once have questioned whether it’s worth it. I just need to see him grazing in the pasture as I enter through the gate to Kingsway to know he is worth every penny.
Arrow’s new pasture mate ‘Darwin’ has moved in and so far so good! He is a cutie pie and very friendly! They have a little herd. Arrow is doing better at not biting Perazzi’s blankets but the problem is not completely gone. Still hoping!
He has had an amazing amount of visitors too! I think he really enjoys the attention. My friend Bobi brought her son Nick and daughter Kenzi and Kenzi’s friend Jocelyn. He met 2 super sweet Japanese exchange students we had for a weekend, Ryusei and Tsubasu. Joe brought our family friend Keith out when Keith was on a ride along with Joe, to meet Arrow and then Keith’s wife Chris brought her son Shane (pictured, other pics of visitors will be added to the photo section) to meet him and take a Kingsway tour. This also meant more Arrow time for me!
Arrow will continue to do the Pessoa 2 times a week, chiropractic every 4-6 weeks and PEMF therapy every few weeks. I don’t think I’ll ride him more than once or twice a week mostly at the walk. Especially now when I still want Chloe to ride him so she can monitor his progress.
This weekend I am participating in the Hunter Pace which is where teams of 2 or 3 ride a cross country course and jump obstacles. This is something new for me so not exactly sure what to expect. I have a jump lesson tomorrow to “tune up”. Unfortunately part of the course goes through Arrow’s pasture so he will be moved for 3 days and I am not sure where to. Hopefully he will not have to go in a stall. He is not a ‘stall’ horse and not really a ‘pen’ horse either. Thank God it’s only for a few days or I might be a little stressed for him! I would like to do the course with no jumping on Arrow next year. We have a goal!!
It’s been a little bit since I last wrote. The month of February was pretty routine for Arrow. I’ve been trying to do his rehab with the Pessoa at least 4 times a week. Weather sometimes made it only possible to do two or three. I also take him for 25-30 minute walks around the perimeter of Kingsway. I found I benefitted from this as well and have lost a few pounds so far. On the weeks we couldn’t do as much Pessoa training (round pen too wet) I would back him up hills. This is another exercise to help develop his back. All of this ground work has actually translated into him using his big boy listening ears better! He still has not been ridden since his diagnosis. I’m not in a rush to rehab him and ride as I don’t want to do something too soon that would set him back or cause a really bad experience for him. Arrow just finished his 3rd round of shock wave therapy and 2nd PEMF session. Debra set him up on an injury package. I just submitted my receipts for this so I’m hoping it is covered. Each session is $85. I do not know how much each shockwave treatment is because the Vet sends her invoice directly to the insurance company.
Arrow strongly feels his pasture mate Perazzi does not need to wear any blankets or fly masks and continues to try to remove them. This causes a lot of problems because it results in tears in the blankets and destruction of the masks. Frustraing for Debra. When Arrow was neighbors with Dylan he would get his masks removed so maybe he thinks this is something horses do for each other. I got a can of Chew Stop for Debra to spray on the blankets and masks and so far things have been ok. It is really nasty to taste.
I worried that Arrow living in the cross country field would be an issue for anyone trying to jump their horse in it. For the most part he has been a good boy except, of course, when I was in there practicing on Gwendolyn for a horse show last weekend at Galway Downs which is across the street from Kingsway. I know he didn’t mean to do anything that might put me in danger on purpose but he is a silly gelding and likes to stir the pots! I was having a great lesson and felt I was able to control Gwen’s speed at the canter the best I ever had. We even successfully jumped over a larger jump then we ever had! The picture is of us going over that jump. I’m a little high on her neck but prior to this particular jump you see here, things had gone well. After my 3rd jump we decided to do 1 more for good measure and I talked to Chloe about what I needed to do to improve before attempting it. Gwen’s owner, Mary, was also present at this lesson. This whole time Arrow and Perazzi were quietly standing under a tree wayyyyyyy on the other side of the field. Remember, I said I felt like I had control of her speed. While talking to Chloe my lovely Arrow had made his way over to Chloe and Mary looking for treats and attention. I could feel Gwen getting a little excited while looking at him but didn’t think much of it. My mistake. A few minutes later Perazzi came over to see what was going on. Arrow looked at him, both spun around, took off running, bucking, jumping and ran off to the gate on the other side of the field. Great! I can now complete my final jump. What I didn’t know was that Gwendolyn seemed to have the opinion that these geldings could learn a thing or two and needed to see what a retired champion Eventing horse could do! I wanted to trot the last jump. She now wanted to canter. She also wanted to show the boys how high she could jump. I was not prepared for the height of that final jump but we did mange it. I was off balance and after about 3 strides at the canter I fell off to the left side and she galloped off to the right and headed straight for the boys. The result? A cut on my nose from my glasses getting hit by my helmet and a swollen bruised leg. It’s still swollen as I write but we were able to compete in the Show and I was very pleased with our performance. I did have X-Rays because the Urgent Care doctor thought I might have had a fracture. I did not but have to go back for an ultra sound if the swelling doesn’t go down by next week. I have to down play the injury so Joe doesn’t worry too much! He says my leg looks like I was in a terrible car crash. It was just a horse crash. Lesson learned? Arrow needs to be removed before I train in the XC field.
I’m happy with the results of Arrow’s treatment so far. I realized yesterday I have not seen him do his quirky head toss in a few weeks. The Vet had suggested this was him trying to find comfort from pain when I brought it up at the beginning of all of this. He had done this since I brought him home. This may be a positive sign. I do plan on attempting my 1st ride on him this month. Definitely not until Chloe has ridden him and gives me the ok. In the meantime I continue to ride horses like Gwendolyn, Dutchess and Jones. This is so beneficial to me as each horse is very different to ride.
I don’t like ending on a ‘debby downer’ note but unfortunately we lost a horse at Kingsway the other day to Colic. It affects everyone. My heart goes out to his owner who is so dedicated to her horses. She is out there everyday caring for them. Rest in Peace Reed and know your Mama Loved Loved Loved You!!
My Dear Beautiful Lake,
You would have been 14 today. There is hardly a day that goes by I don’t think of you. Your winner’s circle portrait is one of the 1st things I see when I come out of my room in the morning. You proved to me that dreams can come true! I still have to pinch myself to remember that I owned such a magnificent horse as you!
My birth mother told me “some people just have to get born!” I took that to heart and extended that to animals. Many believe there are people and animals that sometimes come into our lives for a short time but have a significant impact. You had a significant impact in my life. I learned so much from you in the short 9 months we were together. You made me even more horse crazy!! Can you believe I actually did an Eventing show? We could have done that! Did you know one of your 1st jockeys, Victor Espinoza, won the Triple Crown on a horse named American Pharaoh? You were probably one of his favorites.
You were gracious, kind, forgiving and patient. You needed to be patient. You knew you were dealing with a newbie when we met. Your eyes said so much. Joe said the day we lost you was one of the worst days of life. He said he will never get my scream out of his head when I found out you were gone. It was one of the worst days of my life too. I learned that dreams can be shattered as quickly as they come true. I don’t tell you this to make you sad. I would never trade those 9 months with you just to avoid my heartache. I think happy thoughts when I think of you. I use what you taught me to help me with your brother Arrow. Thank You for being such a great teacher! We will see each other again someday. In the mean time, I hope you are grazing on endless fields of your favorite hay and grass, getting endless amounts of carrots and enjoying long peaceful naps in the sun. Your best girlfriend Flirti says ‘Hi!’ I told her I was going to be writing you a letter. Enjoy your Birthday! I love you to the end of the universe and beyond! The picture of you is one of my most favorites. The artist painted it using different photos I had of you and Arrow. It is how I imagined you would have watched over him.