Monday, September 18, 2017

Skinny Problems

Let's clarify right of the bat that being skinny is not a problem Bobby and I are currently having. #ifonly

Our skinny troubles are more along the lines of this:

you fucker.

Bobby is not a stopper, he's more of a run out-er, only his run outs are more along the lines of, "I'm jumping the thing! The thing just might actually be air instead of the actual thing I should be going over."

Overall he's a pretty honest dude when it comes to jumping though, and we haven't had much practice with skinnies so I put Hubby to work this weekend building me one to practice over. Not that we really event anymore because I hate all things eventing up here, but what's more fun than having real cross country jumps in your horse's back yard?

clearly he was as excited as i was

We ended up making it only 2'7" tall since its 4'3" width and 4'6" length gave it plenty of technicality while still being jumpable for other people in the barn. A couple pieces of conduit pipe gave us our "flags" to help channel one Bobby Magee through, and off it went to the barn. I ended up putting it in one of the back fields off a nice curve from another jump since BM is making a couple other legit jumps and I didn't want everything fun stuck in the front field.

After a brief shower to cool Bobby down this morning as the humidity is atrocious today, we started in the indoor with a single on the diagonal and a skinny bending line. We haven't jumped in a few weeks, but Bobby was on his game while still being completely reasonable. It's amazing what all that dressage work does. He picks up the most perfect canter....and then just holds it. Magic!

We had zero issues with any of the jumps so after fifteen minutes we struck out for the back field.

He wanted to blast over the logs, but listened to me and kept his shit together. As soon as we made the turn, he locked right on to the skinny and never gave me a second's hesitation. I popped him on the shoulder anyway because it made me feel better so he jumped it like it was 4' high, but perfect canter, perfect distance, easy peasy.

Hopefully our days of falling over because he tries to sneak out at the last second are over.

unnecessary, sir. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Book Review: Training Strategies for Dressage Riders

Where to buy: Amazon, or there are a couple used copies on eBay

When we were in Maine this summer, we spent one rainy morning driving out to Bangor to try to find a battery charger for my camera. That was a complete fail by the way, but we passed a tack store in our journeys and obviously swung in so it wasn't a complete loss of a trip. Along with my sparkly spur straps, I also perused the consignment section and grabbed a couple of older books for $8 a piece.

One of them was Training Strategies for Dressage Riders by Charles de Kunffy, and I'm so glad I snagged this. It's one of the few training types books I sat down and read from cover to cover instead of flipping through and only reading the sections I thought were relevant to me.

As an aside, I've been living a lie my whole life and totally thought his last name was de Knuffy. Surely I can't be the only one who thought this? Or are my reading comprehension skills really just that poor? Probably the latter.

First of all, the most important takeaway I got from this book is this:

everyone should wear gloves, you savages. 

This book moves along in a fairly chronological order, from an overview on the goals of classical equitation and how to emulate the best riders and their positions to exercises on bending, flexion, and gymnastics for your horse. It wraps up with a look on judging, competition (and how to throw down a proper salute), and the best tack for dressage.

This book was originally published in 1984, and the one I linked to on Amazon is from 2003. I wonder if any of the pictures got updated because one of my favorite parts of this book is seeing young Arthur Kottas and Steffen Peters in pictures.

A few other takeaways I found interesting:

  • The walk. He says many riders neglect the walk for various reasons. Some find it boring, while others feel it's too basic of a gait and is reserved for beginner riders. "Most of us do not 'fall in love' with the art of riding by being attracted to it by the walk. ... Had we desired to creep along at a slow pace, we could have saddled an ox." He also says that insufficient movement during a young horse's growing stages (not enough turnout) can lead to a poor walk. 
  • Changes. "The horse is ready for the flying change if he can maintain elasticity in performing the extended trot, half-passes with cadence at the trot, and collected canter." (Or if you're a racehorse and changes come easier than walking in a straight line, Bobby.) Elasticity is the key, these are just the movements that best show off if your horse has it. 
  • "The Thoroughbred is an excellent horse." Promising, right? Only it's the first sentence for the chapter titled Insubordination of Horse to Rider. That made me LOL. He goes on to say that while Thoroughbreds are the embodiment of athleticism, it's that very thing that makes them more difficult as a dressage prospect. They're so sensitive and can carry a past with a lot of baggage which makes the relaxation part of dressage not come easily to them. 
  • Bits. "The most gentle and therefore the most appropriate bit is a simple jointed snaffle. ... A bit with only one joint in the center is recommended." SUCK. IT. I can't stand reading people harp about how a single jointed snaffle is abuse and so harsh and yada yada. French links aren't for everyone. Bobby hates having any sort of middle piece to his bits and has always gone best in a simple single joint. 
I've also gone back and re-read his section on the double now that we're starting to play with one a little bit. "The use of the full bridle must be earned by the horse and deserved by his rider." I've been reading everything I can find about the double lately because I'm kind of afraid of it still, but I thought it was funny that in this older book he preaches the use of 3-1 reins which is now considered completely out-dated.

looks way too confusing to me

Overall this is one of those books that sits on my side table instead of in my bookcase. Its extensive list of exercises and problem solving is something I keep coming back to, and his chapters on equitation always give me a kick in the ass to sit the fuck up and sit the fuck down. (Then I get sloppy and have to go back and read them yet again because dressage is hard.)

I wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone interested in dressage from a basic level to those who have a real interest and passion in it. There's something for everyone, and it's an easy, engrossing read.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Thanks and Thanks

The other week I received a giveaway from Amanda's product testing mailing list. First of all, having bloggers give feedback on horse stuff via email giveaways: totally brill. Secondly, actually making cute, usable stuff that horse people will use: more brill.

purple of course.

I originally took this fun little bag to the barn with me figuring I could find something in my trunk to put into it (my trunk is a maze of boxes and tupperware and organization that still somehow is one step away from black hole status). Once I got there though, nothing jumped out at me, and the more I looked at it the more it seemed too cute to be kept at the barn. Instead I brought it back home, and that weekend it ferried my wallet and keys around the state fair.

It's well made and a perfect versatile size. Thanks, Amanda!

I also want to thank everyone who commented on my last post.

It's a sucky situation because there's not really an easy way out of it. I can't exactly block this person from my life, so I'm going to try to do my best and squirrel my personal victories away while telling myself that the little backhanded jibes that get thrown out can't diminish them.

I actually dealt with this when I first moved into my barn in PA with the BO who employed the same tactic. I didn't need her telling me how to do every last thing with my horse unlike a lot of the people in the barn, and it felt like she saw that as a threat to her superiority.

I'm not here to show other people up. I'm not here to be better than anyone else. I want to better myself and do whatever the fuck I think is fun. That's my one goal with my horse. I learned to grow a thicker skin and block it out before. I'll learn to do it again.

In the meantime?

kendrick lamar knows.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


Sometimes the blogosphere gets me down. Horse people, I feel, are naturally pretty fucking neurotic, crazy, and judgmental, and that can spill into blogs when people go on a tear of, "Let's fight, online style!"

I don't know what that style is or what anyone feels like they're accomplishing, but on the flip side the blogosphere can also be a really positive place. We're all crazy so let's all be crazy together!

Dudes, I need some blogosphere positivism. I vacillate between, "YAY, THIS IS THE MOST FUN!" to "Why even bother. Boo hoo, woe is me, where is the chocolate?" on the daily.

bobby, on the other hand, seems to be in the best of moods lately. he's handling
the pressure of learning all the things like he might actually be enjoying himself. 

Bobby has been stepping up to the plate like a mother fucking boss lately. For so many years this horse would be presented with a hard problem and he'd respond by flying backwards or sideways--or both--and that would be that. He wouldn't come back from it, and we'd never get anywhere. I'd get mad, he'd get mad, tantrums ensued, and we trained each other to do just enough.

But this year our relationship has finally settled. Getting knocked out of the show season with his freaky leg took all the pressure off. The goal went from DO ALL THE SHOWS to KEEP THE HORSE ALIVE. That kind of brings things in perspective, you know?

We've had a whole lot of bonding time and significantly less riding time, and I think that plays a lot into how we're both gelling so much more lately. After ten trillion years of riding this horse (close approximation), I feel like we have a stronger partnership than ever before.

All that is to say that I am SO EXCITED about how well we're doing right now. We're making tangible progress, Bobby can get pushed about hard things and he just buckles down and tries, and we're learning SO MANY THINGS.

i mean, i still can't post without looking like a fool, but lookit bobby reaching
with those legs!

So why the sad face?

I feel like there's a hand on top of my head holding me down while I'm trying to do a victory dance because we had our first real ride in the double and it went awesome (after trotting aimlessly for twenty minutes while Bobby worked out what all the metal in his mouth was about), or because I finally cued with the quietest aids and got the biggest canter, or because I have my own warm up plan and when it's done my horse comes out looking like a beast.

You're doing great? SIT DOWN.

It's like this person doesn't want me to actually get better. Bobby is only allowed to be fancy to a point, and I'm only allowed to learn new things to a point. Basically, don't get ahead of yourself, I am the top of the top here. Which, whatever, I'm not here to compete against anyone but myself. Calm the fuck down. But don't make me feel like shit because we're finally making progress. It's like it's a crime for me to actually be learning things and moving forward.

i can't believe i'm saying this, but i think i'm going saddle shopping again in the near
future. noooooo.

I have a hard time standing up for myself or owning it when I'm doing something right. My go-to is to turn any compliment right around and poke fun at myself. But that doesn't mean I'm not proud of what I can do right, or that I'm not excited about how well my horse is going. I'm not delusional. I know we're not some high sixties scoring pair. But I don't think we're a disgrace to dressage and riding in general.

Bobby and I are both completely new to this level. I feel like we could bluff our way through Second well enough, but as we start sticking our noses into Third more and more, spots I've missed in his training are going to show up more. Plus I just don't know how to train the "tricks". No idea.

I really, really want to learn though. I want to learn more, I want to learn everything. Don't #learningshame me, yo.

coming out of warm up stretchies read to #werk

Has anyone else ever run into something like this? Be it in lessons or barn drama or just a "friend" trying to one-up you all the time? It really bums me out.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Pony Rider

It's not often (or, you know, ever) bloggers make their way out to the booming metropolis of Rochester, so when Katlyn messaged me awhile back to ask if we could arrange a meet up, I was like, "Okay, yes, of course, but what the fuck are you doing out here?" I guess visiting family was a good reason (and the only reason Tracy made it out here, so thanks blogger families) and we got together last Friday.

I have yet to meet a blogger in person that I haven't instantly clicked with and Katlyn was just the same. She walked into the barn right as I was stuffing my face with a donut in between hacking my lungs out from allergies which pretty much sums me up in a nutshell. Bobby had been covered in his own pee that morning--not a rare occurrence--and he was hanging out in his stall in his ten sizes too small Irish knit after a quick bath, but he screamed a greeting to her too.

I love food, Bobby loves demanding attention, neither one of us is dressed well: welcome to the nut house!

we try to make it fun at least!

Bobby was in a good mood that morning and got right to work loose and relaxed. He was lovely when Tracy was out as well which means I should probably start paying bloggers to come out to shows so he's pleasant to ride. Two for two, it must be a sure thing.

After a quick w/t/c on a loose rein, I forced Katlyn into the purple spurs despite her protests that she'd never ridden in them before and sent her on her way while I popped out to my car to grab my camera. I came back in and they were trotting around like total pros with zero input.

Since Bobby's been trained almost solely by me his whole life, he goes off a lot of made up cues, but Katlyn did a fucking awesome job with him and I barely had to give her any input. I can't imagine going from a tiny pony to a giant moose, but she looked totally at home up there.

We played in the double for a few brief moments which I also forced her to participate in, and Bobby showed off his easy peasy changes which is about the only surefire fun thing I can guarantee anyone can get on and do with him.

Afterwards we ran over to Panera and talked ponies, bloggers, and how Katlyn has the worst job ever (possibly just my interpretation) before coming back to get some actual pony snuggles in. 10/10 recommend a meet up with this lady, I can verify she can go in the blogger rolodex of not being a secret online creeper.

even though she did make fun of bobby's mustache forelock. 

Anyone else have a reason to visit WNY?


Monday, August 28, 2017

Be Totilas

My Thursday lesson got moved up to this morning as BM has a conflict on our usual day. Bobby got Friday off so I could play with Riding Bestie's puppy, and also I could play with my puppies.

I just really love puppies.

mags was the only one being good which apparently makes her very sad.

Anyway, I figured I probably ought to give the old stallion a spin before our lesson so as not to completely embarrass ourselves. We had trouble in our last lesson with not putting in enough warm up to get the best work, but I had plenty of time to let Bobby have a long walk and then stretch at the trot for a million laps on Sunday. Some days you can jump right on him and put him to work, but I think in either case he enjoys the slow mental warm up.

He was much better for Sunday's ride, and I got on half an hour before today's lesson to repeat our long warm up so we'd actually get some productive work during billing hours. That strategy was definitely the ticket and we were ready to be tortured by BM from the get-go.

We were on a circle for pretty much the entire lesson which is some people's idea of torture, but it's my idea of perfection. For one I can't hear for shit. Also though I feel like giving me free rein of the arena just gives me more space to fuck things up. My crazy is easier contained to half the arena.

BM started us right off in the canter since we were already warmed up. We'd worked a little on trying to get some collected canter last week, but Bobby wasn't quite up to the challenge in the amount of time we had. Today he was in it to win it.

BM has to break things down into kindergartner terms for me because while I know what she's talking about, and afterwards I'm able to get it sorted in my head, I have a hard time processing what she's asking me to do while I'm trying to do it unless it's spelled out into the absolute simplest words.

So my collected canter "aids" were: forward, catch, release.

Basically send him forward, catch the forward so it doesn't become an extension (a medium), and then release with my fingers so I'm not restricting. Channel him forward and upwards into the collection. Bobby caught on pretty quickly and soon he was so in tune to the game that if I gave him too strong of a half halt off my seat or didn't release it quickly enough he sat down and offered up a really lovely collected trot instead. Not what we were going for, but the responsiveness to every twitch of my body was fun.

not featured in today's ride, but still exciting!

To the right he was surprisingly just as strong and light so we ended with that pretty quickly as a reward. She told me to ride Bobby like he was Totilas--if I believed he was that fancy, Bobby would believe it, too. Whatever you say, BM. I'm just happy when we can make right turns without falling over.

We moved on to the collected walk after a nose-dragging stretchy trot break. We'd done a few turns on the haunches right at the beginning of the ride, so BM was using the collected walk to segway into a walk pirouette. Holy fuck, this was way harder than the canter work. Bobby doesn't have a great walk to start with. He was light in the bridle which is always nice, and he was bending around my leg really well and actually doing a good haunches in when we asked for it, but BM wanted his hind end more active.

She picked up a dressage whip and tapped him a couple times on the back legs on our circle. That got his attention and bro was like, "My butt doesn't come any further underneath me, I'm marching, bitches!" Once we got that, BM had me bring the haunches in on the circle and then boom, move the shoulders around her into the pirouette. We never really nailed it, but for the first time working on it he was pretty stellar.

bobby says his butt is tired and he would like to
go outside instead of participate in these shenanigans.

Back to the canter to work on moving between collection and extension. BM had us collect the canter on the circle and then go across the diagonal with a few strides of opening up into however big of a stride Bobby offered up before collecting again at the rail and either doing a simple or flying change. Bobby was on his shit. We've always sucked at opening up the canter, but he flowed right into it before coming back and popping a clean change both ways.

We finally finished with a little collected trot. Bobby actually finds this relatively easy (for where we are at our level of collected work) despite the fact that he's built like a fucking malformed moose, so BM challenged us to make the steps even smaller and more active. He was getting tired so we didn't have great success there, but I can try the exercise again another day.

Overall though? Dude is getting some legit buttons and some legit butt muscles. Taking the time to go back and let him do long and low for a few weeks did him a world of good. He feels like an educated horse. He's got a lot of learning left to do, but it was a really encouraging peek into what we need to work on for Third.

look, i was just really excited about his first time
in a double, okay? don't judge me.

Afterwards BM pulled out the double to let him get a feel for it. He needs a slightly smaller bridoon and possibly a new bit set up altogether, but since we were just letting him stand there and eat a million cookies, it worked fine. He'll get to wear it on the ground a couple more times before we take it to the ring for some walks. I've never ridden with a double before so I'm in no hurry to try it without serious adult supervision.

I hope I get to take him out next year to show, but in the more immediate future I hope he's tuned up enough to be a fun ride for Katlyn this Friday!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

WWYD: Telling the vet no

As you guys know, the only tangible results of my Cornell visit were two giant bottles of prednisone to experimentally treat the sarcoidosis.


listen, tim gunn knows. 

Let's do a quick recap of our timeline:

  • Dr Derm looks at Bobby's leg. Dr Derm has been on Bobby's case from initial diagnosis. He does not think anything with the hoof is related to the sarcoidosis. He also says anything going on in the leg is too deep for our current medication--pentoxyfilline--to be making any difference and there's no reason I should continue it.  
  • Cornell Farrier is in and out all day. He sees the rads. He sees the ultrasound. I know he's spoken to Dr Derm and Dr Ortho. He says that Bobby's coffin bone has had rotation as seen in a laminitic episode, albeit a very bizarre presentation. He recommends glue on shoes and a frog support pad.
  • Dr Internal Medicine comes in without me knowing and goes gaga over the sarcoidosis. I do not know if she's had any consult with the farrier or Dr Derm or anyone else for that matter. We've been at Cornell for seven hours at that point and Bobby is trying to eat vet students. Dr IM recommends the prednisone--the one drug that has shown to sometimes prolong generalized sarcoidosis. Bobby does not have generalized sarcoidosis, his is localized. My local vet had mentioned wanting to try steroids previously so I agree and clean out their supply of prednisone without thinking about anything besides getting the fuck out of there. 
  • I call Farrier and tell her Cornell Farrier's findings and that I was given steroids. Farrier says, hold the phone, bad idea
  • I call Vet and tell her Farrier said she didn't think treating a laminitic horse with steroids was a good idea. Vet says she'll call Cornell and Farrier and chat. 
I think that's where I last left you guys.

trying to do right by the moose, even if all that means is taking him on adventures
before i accidentally founder him. #letsnot

Enter a weekend of ranting and raging to poor Hubby and working myself up to not even wanting to talk a vet again. Ever. Any vet. Really anyone in any medical profession. Farrier arrives bright and early Monday morning to put new shoes on Bobby. I ask her how her chat with Vet went, and Farrier shoots me the look of death that says she's been having the same thoughts.

Vet told her the laminitis episode was a "misunderstanding" to which Farrier wanted to know why she was then having Bobby shod like a laminitic horse, and I wanted to know why my fucking discharge papers said "evidence of laminitic episode". Vet was also concerned that a frog support pad would put too much pressure on the navicular bone which to her credit we all kind of forgot about BECAUSE BOBBY HAS TOO MANY FUCKING ISSUES TO KEEP TRACK OF.

bobby's all, tell me about it.

In the end we changed the whole shebang. He still has his standby aluminium wedge on the left foot because it hasn't seemed to have caused any adverse affects, and it helps his worse navicular foot stay sound. On the right she did aluminum and a leather pad with his little froggy cut out so there was no pressure there. She dug out and patched the giant crack at the top of his foot and stuck a felt wick in there so I could feed it white lightning to prevent infection. She reiterated that she didn't think steroids were the right choice in this scenario.

they shaved his leg for the ultrasound and made
his skin angry again. fortunately liberal krudzapper
has calmed it down.

So here's where I stand:

Sarcoidosis is really, really, really rare and the biggest study on it came out of the Netherlands. All of those horses had generalized sarcoidosis. Prednisone was given to some of them. It prolonged the disease in some cases, in some it didn't. In the end they all had to be euthanized anyway. Sarcoidosis is not curable. Any treatment plan at this point to address the sarcoidosis specifically is going to be experimental. I understand that the vets don't have anything to go on and are having to make this up as they go. That's frustrating for them and it's frustrating for me.


Right now Bobby is sound and happy. We have visual evidence of a problem in his foot, and a solid plan to address that problem. There's no guessing going on in that department. We're not in a lot of danger of making him worse by attacking that problem head on.

I kind of feel like the vets are so excited to get their hands on a case of sarcoidosis that they're not looking at the bigger picture. To me, the bigger picture is having that sound and happy horse first and foremost. I don't want to mess with that by trying something that might seriously fuck his body up. Laminitis isn't the only potential side effect of steroids, you know?

could we play in water all the time if he had bleeding ulcers and foundering feet?
PROBABLY NOT. #unacceptable

Have you guys ever had to say no to your vet or farrier before? Is there are point where the line has to be drawn and you put your foot down? Or am I being completely absurd here and subjecting my horse to a slow death instead of a fast one? OR AM I DENYING HIM LIFE SAVING TREATMENT I DON'T KNOW.

As an aside, Dr IM also said I should also do at least another month to six weeks of pentoxyfilline. I told her Dr Derm said he didn't think it was effective, and she agreed it's probably not, but it's a pretty benign drug so might as well. Or....might as well not? I'm using up the four bottles I already had, but I'm not buying more "just because". That I'm not budging on. I didn't think it did anything after the first couple of weeks we first started it (he was on it for six weeks), and I didn't think it was going to do anything this time. It doesn't seem as if it has.

I can't even with vets anymore.

also again. can we remember that this is what ONE
dose of SMZs did to his leg? everything makes poor
cancer leg incredibly angry all the time

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

WW: XC Schooling at Morgan Equine

we did two stadium jumps with my other two barn mates before ditching them
and starting on xc on our own

bobby thought this was an excellent plan. he was so happy to be out doing the jumpies

this "venue" hosts one jumper derby type event a year. i don't think most of these
jumps were flagged for what they actually were--they were there more for keeping
it between the flags. 

some of these funky in quality as i tried to manipulate them past some of the blurriness
hubby occasionally got.

my leg is just doing its own thing here, nbd. 

bobby loves up banks

not so much down banks. i don't know if his feeties hurt from jumping down, or
he just didn't remember how to do them. once i got off and worked him for the ground
for a minute or two he was confidently stepping off again. we didn't mess with these
for long though. 

is there a way not to have a double chin jumping down banks? not if you're me!
i also like how bobby is calmly popping down and i'm like, DEATH IS NEAR. 

totally biffed the distance the first time to this as seen by my face

interpretive jump form, it's how we roll. 

he jumped this with his front end then tried to twist and run out with his hind end
and slid in the grass. two seconds later he'd finished falling onto his side and i was standing
over him like, "really, bro?" he was completely fine and was up immediately no worse for wear.

right after the above fall. clearly nobody was fazed by it. 

dude does love his water

ditches are boring

proof we can jump out of the water normally

bobby was done with our shenanigans. also it was hot and blowing in actual tornadoes. 

Bobby got new feet Monday which I'll write about later. I still haven't started him on the prednisone as I'm just not comfortable with the idea of it. Yet. I might change my mind, I don't know. But that's also a post for another day. For now I'm just glad I got to have some fun with my moose, and I'm super thankful for my BM who trucked us for free so that I could go!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cornell Visit: Only one like him. Literally.

Remember how I was all, "Cornell is an easy two hour drive" yada yada so easy?


We almost died.

It was a really easy drive...for an hour and fifty minutes. Once we hit downtown and my directions failed me, we almost died. I somehow zigged left instead of right--I think--so I quickly turned on my phone's GPS and told it to get me to the vet hospital.

It took me to a dorm. On a mountain.

I drive a Dodge Ram 1500 with the biggest engine that model offers, and I have never once had a problem with it hauling. My trailer is pretty light, and there was only one horse on board. Dudes, every time I so much as paused I started rolling backwards. And almost shit myself, I think it goes without saying. Thank god for tight trailer brakes. I finally found a levelish alley type thing to pull into and park (e-brake engaged) while I called the office.

The wonderful front desk woman put on her headset and stayed on the line with me while my truck put its head down and somehow hauled us the rest of the way up the hill, moaning and groaning and warning me not to take my foot of the gas pedal for so much as a second until we reached our destination.

"this does not look like a horse show to me."

I nearly kissed the ground when I finally pulled into the parking lot. I was able to follow my directions on the way home, but still had to creep down a mile long 10% grade hill that was fortunately under construction so I was able to inch down it without any trouble. Holy fuck, I just really, really hate hills under all circumstances.

I got us checked in and then headed back out to the trailer to console Bobby who was in a bit of a rage about his circumstances while we waited for a student to come collect us.

ANGRY eating his hay. SO ANGRY. 

My student keeper for the day was great, and she had us settled into a stall with medical information written down in no time. My appointment was with the derm and ortho departments, but ortho was in the middle of looking at another case when we got there so derm got to work first.

Team Dermatology

Dr Derm has been working with us since the original diagnosis of sarcoidosis. He's one of the few in the country that has any first hand knowledge of the disease so I was looking forward to finally meeting him in person. He let his students and the other lead vet do most of the poking and prodding before ducking into the stall with a giant camera to get pictures. If Bobby appears in one of his books, do I get royalties?

Once he came back out, he asked me what I knew about sarcoidosis. I was like, "I know as much as you actually. I even read your one paragraph you published on it." The biggest problem with this fucking disease is that there is nothing known about it. If it's generalized, you euthanize. That's what we know. The end.

If it's localized? Dr Derm said, "I didn't actually believe there was such a thing as localized sarcoidosis. This is the only case in this country. Ever." Bobby. You do not need to work so hard to be a celebrity, bro. I can't afford it.

team derm and my student get to work

After everyone got their chance to poke him, Dr Derm pronounced he didn't think we were actually dealing with anything skin related from the sarcoidosis. He hypothesized that because the disease is basically the body trying to eat itself maybe there was some internal scarring that had blocked a vein and was causing the disruption of circulation and all the swelling. That didn't seem like a bad guess, and he went to go print the rads we took last Monday to look at and show the farrier and ortho who were finally ready for us.

Team Orthology

Since derm didn't think they had much to do with us, aside from wanting to play with the sarcoidosis, ortho became my lead doctor. Right off the bat they had Bobby hoof tested and jogged (and more pictures taken since the shape of his foot is almost as exciting as his sarcoidosis) as everyone unsurprisingly seemed blown out of the water that he was sound as a dime. Dr Ortho watched him go multiple times before shrugging. "Well, yes, he's very sound. Hmm."

He asked if I'd tried sweating it. I said I had once, but his leg couldn't handle it.

Dr Ortho: "What did the leg do?"
Me: "Um...well, the skin kind of fell off. He's very sensitive to topicals now."
Dr Derm: "LOL, no but really it did."

I was glad Dr Derm had stuck around because he's seen the entire progression from slime and pus and chunks of hair falling off and burnt skin to the relatively normal looking leg Bobby has now.

Dr Derm relayed his theory about the possibility of blocked circulation and Dr Ortho agreed that was a good guess so we'd roll with it. They scheduled an ultrasound and stuck Bobby back in his stall to wait.

he really wanted to eat his shavings even though
he had hay.

Team Imaging

Bobby was already in the stocks and "sedated" when my student came to get me for the ultrasound. She said they'd given him xylazine which I was kind of annoyed that they'd done without asking me. Bobby doesn't react to xylazine--I mean, he sweats a lot and it makes him pee, but it doesn't sedate him. That was a charge on my bill I didn't need as Bobby hung out being annoyed about the sweat dripping down his butt and gnawing on his lead rope, but otherwise quiet and not sedated in the slightest. If sedation is a mandatory procedure, they could have given him dorm and actually knocked him out.

The ultrasound doctor admitted right off the bat she didn't usually work on the coronary band area, but she spent a good half an hour trying her best to get some good imaging. Dr Ortho joined us towards the end to discuss findings.

Veins and blood vessels looked great, no problem there. She did the suspensory and DDFT as well and said those also looked great. She found a small pocket of fluid on the outside side of the heel bulb, but she didn't think it was anything of concern. His lymphatics were slightly swollen which was what they were expecting with the leg being swollen.

Overall though, we didn't get much. Dr Ortho wanted to focus on the foot itself and asked to do a venogram--where the veins in the foot are highlighted and viewed via xray. Yeah, sure, whatever, Dr Ortho. Just give me an answer.

I haven't heard yet what they found on the venogram as I wasn't called back for it. They're supposed to email me the report at some point today. I can probably give you a summation though: nothing.

parked next to me with the most gorgeous dapplely warmblood gelding. later to be
stalled next to us was a giant equally gorgeous warmblood owned by the maddens.
bobby was the celebrity for the day, but he did not look the part in comparison. 

Team Farrier

Throughout the day the farrier popped in and out. I liked him because he was alone so he talked directly to me instead of to a team of students trailing around him. He'd looked at the rads and had watched the ultrasound. I don't know if he was there for the venogram, but I'm sure they passed that along to him as well. He was very interested in Bobby's case because Bobby. Everyone was very interested in Bobby's case.

He thought my farrier was doing a good job with the shoeing, but agreed it was time for the wedges to go. I told him Farrier wanted to do glue ons with a rocker toe and he said he'd do that as well, but he need a pour-in pad or a frog support pad. Anyone ever dealt with laminits? That's a classic laminitis shoeing package.

Why? Because the farrier thought that Bobby had had a laminitic episode. He was practically giddy over the rads. In most laminitic cases, the coffin bone falls forward, right? Bobby's was pointed upwards, pushing through the back of the foot instead of the front. Not unheard of, but very rare.

My farrier has frog support pads on-hand so we'll be doing that set up on Monday. She's been sent the rads as well and promised to get in touch with Cornell farrier to discuss.

back at home and gorging himself, unconcerned
about the state of his falling apart body.

Team Internal Medicine

Almost done!

Do you feel like we've cycled through the entire vet school yet? Because I did. It was 4:00 by this point and Bobby and I were both done with the whole thing. While at the beginning of the day Bobby was mugging everyone for snuggles, when my student took me to the back to talk to IM, his ears were pinned and he was trying to bite them. Having teams of five to seven students poking and groping him all day had lost its appeal, and he was pissed. It didn't wear off when we got home either. He unloaded with his ears back and wanted nothing to do with talking to anyone. He seems to have forgiven me this morning, but I gave him extra cookies and the day off anyway.

I didn't know IM had been called in to consult, and was kind of annoyed to find that charge on my bill. If you want to take a look at his leg because sarcoidosis is rare and Bobby's is even rarer, fine. But don't charge me for it.

They asked all the standard sarcoidosis questions: How's his weight? Is he eating normally? Breathing normally? Have you had his lungs checked? Temperature stays normal? Yes, yes, yes, all things my vet and I discuss on an almost weekly basis. We're old pros at this by now.

Finally Dr IM came out of the stall and gravely told me, "Sarcoidosis isn't cured. We can manage it, maybe, but once it spreads..."

I was like, "Uh, yeah. I know. I KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT SARCOIDOSIS ON THE PLANET." We've had the euthanasia talk. A couple times, actually! At the first sign it has spread to his organs, I will put him down. I'm not going to rush him back to Cornell and hope they can stop his lungs from eating themselves while his fucking flesh falls off.

Her recommendation was that we try a steroid--what my vet had wanted to do if I didn't take him to Cornell. In generalized sarcoidosis, that's the one and only treatment option. Like Dr IM said, it won't cure it, but it might prolong the inevitable. Not a single horse treated has ever not been euathanized though. Not. One.

no organ eating going on here for the moment.
just cookies and grass.

All of Bobby's emergency vet savings completely emptied, we headed home with a thousand prednisone tabs and no more answers than what we'd arrived with.

I called my farrier and relayed all the information. About an hour later she called me back again. "I'm not going to tell you how to medicate your horse, and I haven't seen the rads yet, but with the state of his foot and Cornell Farrier thinking he's had a laminitic episode, I don't think you should give him the steroids. At all."


Steroids, of course, run the chance of foundering a horse. If Bobby's already vulnerable, he runs an even higher chance. Right now this horse is sound as shit. If you didn't look at his foot, you would never know there was a thing wrong with him. If we chance the steroids on the chance it does something to the sarcoidosis, we could very well bring on full blown laminitis, and then he's definitely going to be lame and now we have EVEN MOAR problems.

So I put in a call to my vet (and am waiting to hear back from her) to get her opinion. I don't know what IM was doing there, so I don't know if they knew anything about what was going on with the foot, or if they were focused entirely on the sarcoidosis. It certainly seems like the latter. If that's the case, then I'm assuming they didn't realize his foot is not up to steroids.

I should have known that, and I should have said something, but at that point I was so done with the day and ready to grasp on to any type of answer or solution that I was just like, whatever. Give me the meds. Now I have two giant bottles of prednisone sitting in my kitchen that I don't know what I'm supposed to do with. Is there a black market for 'roids? Someone get in touch with me.

So there you go. My takeaway? I'm going to keep doing whatever the fuck I want with him so long as he stays sound. I'll let Farrier do whatever she thinks needs to be done with the shoeing as we go along. If he comes up lame, we'll take it from there.

Thanks, Cornell. For nuthin.