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Preview: Sinwaan


Journal of my quest to be an endurance rider

Updated: 2014-10-06T21:21:11.129-07:00


Patient History Report: Sinwaan - 10/24/13


For those of you who are interested and have been following Sinwaan's story lately, he went back in to see the specialist Dr Dora Ferris on 10/24. Here is her write up of that visit;Misc Medical Procedures - Ultrasound - hind suspensory ligamentsSinwaan presented today for re-examination and ultrasound of his hind limb proximal suspensory ligaments.Examination: He does not have significant back pain today and there is no withdrawal response when the tuber sacrale are compressed. At the walk both hind fetlocks drop/hyperextend when in the weight bearing phase of stride. At the trot, his lameness has not improved despite the 3 months of rest. The left hind foot continues to have a club footed appearance due to the short worn toe.Sinwaan's heart was ascultated and was within normal limits. He was sedated with 4mg of detomidine and 60mg of xylazine IV. Both metatarsal regions were clipped and prepped for ultrasound examination. The left hind suspensory ligament was ultrasounded and compared to the right hind suspensory ligament. There was mild thickening of the plantar fascia of the left hind limb compared to the right. The suspensory ligament of the left hind was mildly enlarged, especially laterally compared to  the right hind evidenced by a reduction in the space between the suspensory and the metatarsus. Hypoechoic areas consistent with muscle and fat within the ligament were symmetrical from right to left. There was a mild  bone irregularity at the distal portion of the attachment of the suspensory ligament on the left hind. A brief  non-weight bearing exam was performed as well which did not show additional lesions.Assessment:The ultrasound did not reveal significant disruption or damage to the suspensory ligament at this time. My biggest concern is that there could be a slow, chronic degenerative process in play, causing mild breakdown of the suspensory ligament. Some have suggested this can be linked to metabolic syndrome in some horses. Sinwaan is slightly overweight, and resting will only make this more difficult to manage. This could be linked to a metabolic syndrome.It is also thought, that in horses with a similar presentation there is nerve impingement of the deep  branch of the lateral plantar nerve beneath the plantar fascia due to the swollen suspensory ligament.Plan:We can discuss further treatments, and I am  happy to talk about these at any time. Treatments I would recommend pursuing:Testing for equine metabolic syndrome, including insulin and cortisol (ACTH, Dex suppression testing). These cost around $100. Unfortunately in the fall and winter horses can come back falsely negative, so it is best to wait for this testing until spring. Some management changes could be undertaken prior to testing in an effort to minimize his weight changes. Changes include grass only hay, minimal concentrates or grains, or substituting with a low starch grain, minimizing or eliminating grass pasture turnout, etc.Platelet rich plasma - While there is not visible disruption of the ligament, these horses often have a degenerative process occurring and PRP could potentially provide growth factors that can slow or decrease this process.Radiograph - Radiographs of the hock/proximal suspensory region of the left hind limb could be helpful for two reasons, they could show if there is sclerosis (increased bone density at the proximal suspensory region) and could outline any hock changes as well. He may still have a portion of hock pain that is contributing to his lameness. If there is sclerosis at the origin of the suspensory ligament origin (consistent with the bone change seen on ultrasound) it would be consistent with a chronic issue.In the interum time, I would like to start the following therapy for Sinwaan.Lateral weight shifting - Stand to the side of his hip, facing him. Grasp his tail up as high as you can on the tail bone, then gently lean back, pulling him towards you. Watch for the  contraction of the quadriceps muscles on the side you are facing and slight dropping of the fetlock. You want [...]

Patient History Report


Today in the mail I received the patient history report on Sinwaan's visit from 9/17/13. I really love my vet clinic and working with both Dr Pritchett and Dr Ferris so far. I think mailing me the report goes above and beyond anyone I have worked with in the past, and it is really nice to have it all in writing since it is so hard for me to digest and remember everything as it is happening.Sinwaan is an Arabian gelding who is 16 yr & 6 mo, DOB 3/10/1997. Weight listed as 1,050.Lameness ExamHistory: Previously seen for a left hind limb lameness due to wearing off the toe. He has been on a bute trial since the last visit on 9/6 and has been resting in his paddock. No other treatments have been performed. The original goal was to ride in a 50 mile endurance ride in October. He has been unshod since the last exam because he pulled the left hind shoe.S: Today Sinwaan is still BCS approximately 6-7/9. He has mild withdrawal response to palpation of his right and left thoracic and lumbar longissimus muscles bilaterally, but is not positive to compression of his tuber sacrale. There is mild thickening of the joint capsule of the femoropatellar joints and mild effusion of the same bilaterally. He has very straight conformation in his hind limbs through the stifle and hock, with an extended fetlock. His hocks palpate slightly abnormal on the medial aspect of both, with potential mild remodeling over the distal intertarsal and tasometatarsal joints. Hoof tester exam of all four feet was unremarkable except for bridging the medial frog the lateral heel bulb of the left front foot which was mildly positive. On lameness examination, he slightly circumducts the left hind limb when walking, and tracks with the right hind limb more to midline. At the trot he was 3+/5 lame on the left hind at the trot and the lameness is referring to left front. Occasionally he takes a step that appears to be sensitive to the rocks due to being barefoot. The left hind limb lameness is worse when the limb is on the inside of the circle, vs. outside.Flexions:Distal LH - mild positiveStifle LH - moderate positiveFull LH - moderate positive (slightly worse than stifle)Distal RH - mild positiveStifle RH - mild positive - appeared symmetrically lame on both limbsFull RH - moderate positive - switched to primary RH limb lameness for several strides, then returned to the baseline LH limb lameness.Diagnostic blocks, radiographs and ultrasound were discussed. Due to Sinwaan's straight hind limb conformation, there is some concern that there could be suspensory pain present. The decision was made to persue diagnostic blocking of the LH limb to rule out suspensory injury. Based on palpation of the hocks and the presentation of his lameness (worse on the inside of the circle, worse to full limb flexion, and moderately sensitive to back palpation, the next most likely cause of his lameness is pain in the DIT and TMT joints.Low 4-point nerve block LH - no significant improvement.Deep branch of hte lateral plantar nerve (proximal suspensory) LH - 70% improvement overall, improved when on the inside of the circle, left forelimb lameness improved as well (decreased referring lameness)A light bandage with nitrofurazone was applied to the left hind limb.Plan: Based on the improvement to blocking today, it is most likely that he has a suspensory injury. To assess the extent of this injury, an ultrasound of the metatarsus is recommended at a later time. Because of the blocking today there will be fluid and gas artifact in the tissues, which could confound visualizing a lesion. We will pursue ultrasounding him next month.The bandage on the left hind limb can be removed tomorrow (Wednesday) and his leg rinsed in the hose to remove the nitrofurazone. Ideally, you should wear gloves or use a plastic bag to protect your skin from the nitrofurazone when removing the bandage.Sinwaan should be rested in a small paddock for the next month until he can have the ultrasound performed. Ideally this should be no larger than approximately 14' x 24-36' so he ca[...]

Visit to the specialist


This week Dr. Dora Jean Ferris is in town so I took the opportunity and scheduled an appointment time with her for Sinwaan.We did more lameness evaluations with flexion testing and it was more obvious today that he was "off." Dr Ferris pointed out to me that he is dropping his right hind lower to compensate for the pain on his left side.  Today he was even doing a little toe dragging without me riding him. (Obvious in the photo above). Another thing she pointed out to me was his muscles quivering in a specific spot, when flexing him, more so on the left than on the right. Video #1 - left flexion testVideo #2 - as a comparison, right flexion testAfter these she did some more flexion tests, focusing more on the stifle area but my video camera was not recording when I thought it was. Oops.Video #3 - starts at 10 sec. right flexion test on rightVideo #4 - starts at about 18 sec. flexion test on leftVideo #5 - flexion on rightThen she used a hoof tester and checked all his feet for any soreness issues. Other than some mild tenderness on the inside frog of the left fore, there were no issues.Then we talked, or I should say, she talked to me about what she was seeing.  I will include the report in the next post because it covers the whole visit.Thickening areaWe had the options of blocking, radiographs and ultrasound. I asked her what option she would choose, if she could only do one (due to my financial limitations), and she said the blocking should give her the most answers today. The price quote for that was cheaper than the radiographs so I said let's go ahead. Well, they had another appointment due to come in within 30 minutes, and not wanting to get started only to be interrupted, they asked if I could leave him with them for a couple of  hours. I said that was no problem.As we walked him back to his pen, we passed the cattle in the stocks. It was castration day for them, and there was quite a bit of blood, which they had warned us about before walking over there. Ellie was with me, carrying a armload of hay for Sinwaan, and I told her to watch Sinwaan, which she did. She told me later she did not see any blood,  but she wanted to know all about castration!  Sinwaan was settled into his stall next to a horse who was all bandaged up from injuries resulting from the storm we just had. Bandages all the way up two of his legs, stitches in his neck, but he was upright and looked like he was going to make it.Exciting day at the vet clinic to be sure. I'll report more later after I pick him up.[...]

Here we are again


Sinwaan watching neighboring cows. When his mane is at this angle he always reminds me of the Breyer Indian PonyMonday Chad was able to come out and pull Sinwaan's shoes and give him a trim. I had leveled out an area by his water tank the day before and flooded it so his hooves would not be so hard. Chad said it worked perfectly, and I was glad when the improvement also meant he could remove that last nail still in the hoof without a shoe.I figured this past week would drag by, but with school starting up again and all the other things that happen in our daily lives, it actually wasn't too bad. Before I knew it Friday rolled around and it was time to take Sinwaan back in for some more evaluations, and hopefully answers. The night before we had a wicked storm pass through, leaving many without power. Sinwaan's barn was one of the unlucky ones, so we hauled some water out to them on our way to pick him up.Dr Pritchett and her tech, I believe Linda was her name, started out with a lameness exam in-hand. Using some of the same tests as last time, but taking it a step farther. I am not a Hollywood pro focus-puller so apparently it is impossible for me to get clear in-focus videos from this fancy camera, therefore I am only posting one from that session.Video #1 - Flexion test. This one I could see he looked a little off.Guess who took their saddle pad home to wash it, and forgot to bring it today? Thankfully Matt was able to deliver in record time.After those tests it was time to saddle up so she could observe him under a load. At the walk there was no sign of toe drag, but at the trot it became obvious. I didn't get to do much riding, as it didn't take long to see the issue. Video #2 - Riding, about 3 minutes long. It was a little stressful riding him there after not having ridden for 2 weeks, with the highway next-door, but he was quite good. I felt like a dummy when I un-tacked and noticed I had never clipped the top portion of his breastcollar. Oh well!After  un-tacking they did more evaluations. Video #3 - Trotting, circles. More focus issues, sorry!Video #4 - Flexion test, trying to aim higher up in the leg/hip area I believe (and a video capture below to show what he thinks of this)Then another flexion test aiming lower in the leg, but that video is not worthy of posting as the trotting away portion is nowhere near being in focus.After that she performed the same tests on the opposite side.There was mention of sedating him, not for x-rays this time, but for palpating his hip from the inside (lucky for all involved that was never needed). First, however, she wanted to do some more research. So after a quick trip inside the building she came out with a couple more ideas. More palpating, flexing, extending his hind leg...trying to locate the issue.Video #5 - Palpations and a reaction on the leftIn the midst of this Ellie told me she had to use the restroom, so I took her in. I came out to find Dr. Pritchett with a look of triumph on her face. "I found it." Confused, I asked her what she found. She showed me that when she palpated his stifle, right over the peroneal nerve, he would move away, lift his leg, and just generally looked uncomfortable. She did the same thing on the opposite side with no response. Palpating other neighboring areas on either leg, also no response. Definitely an issue in that one spot.Later, when we were inside the building, Dr Pritchett brought out her anatomy book to show me what everything looked like in his leg where he is having that issue. Quite kind of her, and fascinating!Palpation of the right stifle joint over the peroneal nerve caused no reaction, compared to the left side. Dr Pritchett has an equine sports medicine specialist colleague (Dora Ferris DVM) whom their clinic plans to work with, who just so happens will be in town next week with her own ultrasound equipment. Dr Pritchett said she would like to talk with Dr Ferris more about this case and perhaps[...]

Unscheduled Stop!


Just when things seem to be going along as planned, something comes along to detour you, or completely rock the boat. That is how I am feeling this week. Quite discouraged.On August 15 my farrier came out to put new shoes on Sinwaan. His feet were incredibly dry and some of the hoof wall chipped off as he was trimming the new growth. We noticed he looked like he was dragging his left rear toe a bit as there was a flat spot on the front-outside of that hoof. So he set the shoe a little forward on that foot to try and allow for the hoof to grow back out while we continued our training regimen. I would like to mention that I have been using this farrier since at least 2007, and when I switched over to him Sinwaan had a real issue with interference in his hind end, after changing to my current farrier after the first trim he no longer had that issue. So I feel he is and has been a good farrier for us. He did lecture me on needing to get his feet on some moisture once in a while, not only for hoof health but also because trimming him was like trying to cut through a rock!Fast forward four weeks later. Sinwaan has worn down his shoe, and worn down his hoof drastically now. It is to the point I am asking around for advice. Have you seen this before? What could it be? The first thing Heather noticed was his pastern angle, different in the two hinds. After our lovely 8 mile ride at the lake on Saturday, Heather and Laurie looked him over, felt him, discussed it, thought about it, and mentioned that they both had ridden behind me for an extended period, focusing on his movement, and other than him over-reaching (hearing the shoes click click click, rear to front) did not notice any form of lameness issues. What was going on? He did seem tender and slightly swollen in his loin/hip area at the time, but no back tenderness.So I messaged Cassandra. She was willing to come out and have a look at him Tuesday evening. (By now I had already made an appointment with my vet for Wednesday). When I got there, the first thing I noticed was that hind shoe. It was looking pretty weird! So upon farther inspection I noticed it was coming off, only held on by a single nail now. Doug got out his tools and we both worked to get that shoe off. Man it is tough without the right equipment! Sinwaan was a champ, standing very still for us as Doug finally used a hacksaw to get through the nail in order to remove the shoe, and then pliers to pull the nails out.Once that was done it was time for some evaluations. Cassandra had me trot him all around. Unfortunately for all of us, I am not very good at this. It is hard for me to lead in a straight line, he tends to crowd a little and then I get paranoid about falling down and getting my leg broken again. Despite all that, and him moving out without a shoe on the gravel, eventually after a lot of trotting here and there and everywhere, and some walking, and a flexion test, we determined he was not showing any lameness. He might have short-strided twice in all that time. Cassandra pointed out a number of things to me and it was a very educational visit.The lines on the outside of his hoof follow the coronet angle but then curve and drop down within the last six months.There is some space between his hoof wall and the white line on that hoof that is obvious. She also pointed out hoof angles and how opposite feet rear-to-front will match. He had some filling in his legs so I need to learn how to either poultice his legs or use pressure wraps after the longer rides.So what could it be? Tendon/ligament issues, coffin bone rotation, arthritis, injury, etc. So many options. Cassandra suggested that I keep my vet appointment and insist on x-rays to rule out what we could. I appreciated her time and insight, although I have to admit, I did go home and cry. Then the next morning Heather called me for an update and I got emotional again. It has been a sad couple of days for me, thinking we could be headed dow[...]

Headed for the mountains!


Heather has been itching to head for the hills. Real hills, not the little ones we usually ride on the roads. She thought that with all the miles I have put on Sinwaan, and with how far his fitness level has come the past couple of months, we were ready to tackle Cache Hollow with her.When I first got Sinwaan he lived on the farm at the foot of Lincton Mountain. Cache Hollow road is a seasonal road with allowed use from April - November. Typically used by farmers, there is not much traffic. Most of it is rock or gravel and it is very primitive for cars, with little to no signage. This makes it great for riding on horseback. I remember starting his conditioning by riding 2 miles up and 2 miles back down that road every week. I thought we were really doing something. Even though 4 miles a week is really not much, the fact that we were going up and down a mountainside put a decent base on him and allowed us to place mid-pack that year in limited distance rides. This year I am more serious, more driven, and know a little more about what I need to do. Heather and I planned out a ride that would take us up THE HILL on Cache Hollow, around on Kinnear and back down Lincton Mtn road, for a total of an 11 mile loop.We started out at about 1300' and climbed up to 2200' at the top of THE HILL.  This shot proves only that I shouldn't try to take photos while we're trotting. Sinwaan thought I must be kidding to not only expect him to carry me up THE HILL, but also to do most of it at a TROT. WHAT?! Ok, so he got a break half way, and did walk about half of the really steep section. Bunny went happily trotting all the way up to the top, took a short break, and then came back down to meet us and went trotting back up again! She is an animal!Once at the top of this monster hill, there is a beautiful view of the city in the valley. I am not entirely sure how much of it is Milton-Freewater and how much of it is Walla Walla, but it is a nice reward for all that hard work.  This photo is looking back in the direction that we climbed up.Sinwaan was pretty bushed after that climb and cocked his hind leg as soon as the opportunity presented itself.Frequently there are people shooting targets up there. Today was no exception. The lady was nice and asked if she was bothering the horses. I think due to the wind her gun didn't seem too loud. We didn't hang around there long anyway. We took a couple photos and moved on.A short distance and the road splits. Head to the right and you will meet up with Coe Rd (Co 609) and if you stay on Kinnear it would end into Couse Creek Rd. I have not ever gone that direction but perhaps will be able to later in the season. We went left on Kinnear and this lovely third of the loop has exceptional views and decent footing. Bunny is a machine and she got a bit ahead of us there for a little bit. Heather and I had talked about it earlier and I did not discourage her from getting in all the work she could while we were up there. So she would fade into the distance, and then come back to us, a couple of times. Bunny IS a 50-mile horse. Sinwaan is in training.Sinwaan kept trying to pull over onto the grass. At first I thought he just wanted to eat. Then I thought maybe he was just tired. Then I thought maybe he needed to pee. FINALLY he did relieve himself and after that he was able to keep up his steady pace a lot better. In the above photo I had looked over and saw something move. At first I thought perhaps it was a fox but after watching it for a bit it seemed more like a coyote (dead center in the photo). It didn't see us for awhile but then once it did, it ran off down the hillside. Looking back behind us on this same hillside was a small herd of cattle.Trot, trot, trot, and enjoy the view!The weather was in the 80s and we had a strong breeze, it was a lovely day to be riding. At the highest point in our ride, we were at approx. 2900'. That is 1600' of climbing [...]

First long ride - 15.3 mi


Today Heather and I decided to ride together on a longer venture than usual, building up the miles and distance as well as adding in some hill work. We started out by meeting at the intersection of Stovall (where Sinwaan lives) and Last Chance. It is 2 miles for me to get there and about 2.3 miles for her to reach this point. Sinwaan had taken a short break at the alfalfa field half a mile earlier and still had some plant on his face.Bunny heading towards us over the bridge. From there we continued down Last Chance and made a right onto Frog Hollow. Frog Hollow has a fair amount of hills and I was thinking it would be good to do that portion first, before Sinwaan started getting tired later on in the ride. Well, I didn't realize there was also a lot of climbing later on since we rode a portion I had never been on before.As we were trotting along, there was some traffic so we had slowed to a walk through the small bits of shade and I looked back to see a truck coming towards us. It was not a normal kind of truck. It was a towering, shifty, hay truck of some kind. I googled later to try and find a similar example but all I could come up with was this video capture, and while the back half of the machinery is similar, the front was nothing like this one. The one that passed us had a small cab very close to the bed of the truck, and it looked ancient. I guess if I see it again I'll have to take a photo. At any rate, the driver was very courteous, he went past us very slowly. I had stopped Sinwaan and turned him around so it would not surprise him, and he handled it like he saw them every day.When we turned left onto Rainville (one of my favorite roads) we heard a high pitched whinny and a little horse came trotting over to us. Bunny was not really sure about that and she startled a little but Heather soon had her moving on again.Sinwaan lives with (next to) little horses so he wasn't bothered by them at all, just a little curious to know what they had to say.This little horse had a pasture-mate who was just as friendly (and fat) as he was. Shortly after this property we had a great blue heron take off in flight right next to us and that spooked the horses a little, but they had a quick recovery and we were able to look over and enjoy the sight of such a large bird so close to our heads.Headed downhill at a trot at one point on Rainville, Sinwaan moved a little funny, like he was crossing legs or getting tied up a little bit, kind of off,  but he would recover and then do it again, recover, etc. Wasn't sure what that was about but within a quarter mile he was back to normal. I only mention it because after our ride I noticed he was missing a shoe, and was thinking maybe that is when it happened.We had been going along really well and stopped here on Stateline to give the horses a short break and a chance to eat some fresh alfalfa. I found it amusing that there was a portable toilet there out in the middle of nowhere. This was a nice section of road and had very little traffic, although the strange hay truck did come upon us again and passed us. It was also on this road that we went past a big water sprinkler gun at roadside and with Heather in the lead, just as Sinwaan and I passed it, I heard the sound of water chasing up the pipe and sure enough KKKKKSSSSPPPPPHHHHHHH it started spraying the crop. Wowie-wow that gave Sinwaan a fright and he leapt forward a couple of bounds.Half-way down Stateline on our route it started getting busy with traffic, and we had a motorcycle come up behind us. Sinwaan was trotting along and then dodged to the right, towards the motorcycle. Dumb horse. I got him back over to the shoulder quickly but it probably gave the rider a dose of sense about what a horse could do to his future as he slowed down quite a bit when he passed by Heather. I don't like Stateline for that reason, from Locher road on there is always a lot of[...]

Short ride


Got in a short 6 mile ride with hills this morning, time 55 min. Had a bunny cross our path, and later on, a deer. That was neat to see. Was thinking I would work harder at making our time shorter, but riding the beast before breakfast is hard - when he sees food I think "ok, one bite, make it quick" and it turns into about five. So maybe our riding time is faster because he is spending more time eating? At any rate, it seems like every time we do 6 miles it takes us 50-55 minutes. Which is ok. Good but not great.  It reminds me of riding with Ernie Schrader one time, his horse could trot and grab food off the side of the trail without slowing down. I wonder how to teach him that?

Ride - 12.5 miles


This week I had to ride on Saturday, which meant I was riding alone. Usually it only works out for me to ride with Heather on Sundays. I miss the company, but decided to plan out a ride that went the opposite direction in order to see some new roads that I might not otherwise see.So, I headed west on Stovall, instead of the usual eastern route, going up Forest and then turning right onto Frog  Hollow to see what we could find. It was a lovely evening to be riding. I then turned onto Rainville and found it to be a most delightful short road, with many horses on either side, a great blue heron and small hills.From there we ventured west onto Stateline and enjoyed the sights. Sinwaan decided he was feeling good and we had a nice gallop along the roadside for a bit. When we pulled over to grab a bite of alfalfa I turned back and saw a large semi-truck, loaded to the hilt with hay on both trailers, turning onto Rainville. Talk about good timing. There was a Jeep bouncing across the fields, going to meet up with some farm equipment in the distance.Sinwaan seemed happy to turn off of Stateline because this felt like the direction towards home, heading north again towards Frog Hollow, up Fredrickson Rd. This was a nice curvey road with crops on either side and the occasional horse pasture. There is a rickety wooden bridge over an irrigation canal at the crest that Sinwaan was not too sure about. It took about three tries and then he finally went over it.  At the T in the road, he thought we should go right back home, but I had other ideas. Wanting to put in more miles today than usual, I turned him left, having mapped out the route ahead of time, and we had a little disagreement about it but soon he was back into his trot, heading west on Frog Hollow.McDonald Rd was a welcome site, finally we both agreed on the direction we were headed. More hills than I remembered. Some cattle on either side, lots of things for Sinwaan to look at, and we did some walking down the hill. Turning onto Detour road we were finally headed home. Sinwaan got to do some walking as I got a phone call and had trouble steering him and talking at the same time. He is not neck reined! We stopped for a couple of minutes at a new development, there were some boulders and I put the camera up on one with a timer set for 10 seconds, but just could not get a decent photo, so I gave up, hopped back on board and we set off for home.Once back home, I used a fence post to get this nice shot of us all decked out for the ride. The ankle cuffs are highly reflective and a safety precaution I got for my early morning and late evening rides on the roadside. I was disappointed that the "breathable"  material seemed to catch all the small gravel pieces and it took a little time to clean them out when I removed them. So the next ride I put them higher on his legs - the front ones are long enough to go above the knee, and had better results.12.5 miles ridden today in two hours, five minutes, and he had "gas left in the tank" when we got home. I was tempted to ride him up to my friend's house and back for another two miles but it was getting late in the day and he had given me a good ride, so instead I hosed him down and cleaned my tack and called it a night.[...]

Trot, trot, trot


It had been a crazy week - working full time and then adding a trip afterwards to VBS for the kids for the next two hours before bed. Matt agreed to take the kids Thursday so I could ride.

Thankfully the heat wasn't so terrible, or I might not have been able to meet my goal of setting a pace and keeping to it. We had a goal going into it of averaging 6 mph, because Sinwaan needs to be able to keep moving, and learn to recover at a slow trot, so that is what we did. Walking to warm up, cool down, and briefly when the road conditions called for it, but otherwise a trot. I think three times I let him stop for a bite of alfalfa since he was doing so well for me. A steady 8 miles and we pulled into home 80 minutes after we left. That is a 10-minute mile, which the math for me is incredibly harder than it should be, but I believe that works out to 6 mph. Someone please correct me if I am wrong!

Progress, which is good to see. He may get a week off now due to both the heat (100 temps) and me caring for a couple of additional critters for the next week.

I'll update again when there is something to report.

Another 8 miles


Well this evening I was able to go out and put another 8 miles on Sinwaan. It started out horribly muggy - we usually don't have humidity in this area but tonight was an exception. I was having to push quite a bit to get Sinwaan to keep a steady trot, and even then my arms felt like they were oozing sweat.

Then a storm moved in and cooled things down significantly, it was wonderful. I saw it moving in overhead and was not sure if we would get dumped on, but decided that if we did, I certainly wouldn't mind. It ended up moving south and only gave us a nice wind to ride home in, we did a little cantering and felt like we were all alone in the wild with his mane whipping about.

We rode past a little skunk this evening, it was just a juvenile, must have been about 10-12 weeks old and having never seen a baby skunk, it was a real treat. Even better that it didn't spray us!

As I was un-tacking the rain drops started pelting down. What timing!

* * *

Heather and I met and talked strategy on Monday evening, and the next plan of action is for me to really work hard at keeping Sinwaan trotting. We do a lot of walking and he needs to start being able to recover at a slow trot. After we can get that down then we start interval training and then adding more miles. So we have a lot of things to work on, and I am anxious to get going.

We have had a lot of rain which has prevented me from riding, mostly because I am not real excited about tacking up a wet horse. The rain itself isn't so much of a problem, but the footing could be and I want to avoid injury as well.

Next ride is planned for Thursday. Likely another 8 miles, but this time with more rating his speed and keeping it steady. Tough for us!

Training for Jubliee


Recently a new ride (Jubilee Ranch) was announced which thrilled me to no end. It is within an hour of my house, thereby affordable to get to. I started talking with my friend Heather and got more and more excited about getting Sinwaan back in shape and ready for the ride, which is in October. Plenty of time to train and for both of us to loose some weight and gain some fitness!

Heather is convinced (after reading Dennis Summer's e-book 4th Gear - Power Up Your Endurance Horse) that I can be ready for my first 50 mile ride if I train properly. We are going to meet up soon to discuss it in more detail.

For now, here are the rides we have currently logged.

June 9 - 6 miles, mostly roadside, a little hill work
June 12 - 8 miles, roadside, flat, fast
June 16 - 6.1 miles, roadside, some hills
June 20 - unknown mileage, Bennington Lake ride for an hour, many hills and soft dirt footing.

I am doing my best to put two rides on him a week, no matter the distance or speed, to work at getting some weight off of him. So far he has been very forward and eager to go, and I think he is enjoying being in use on a regular basis again.

Wish us luck :)

The Old Trailer


 This is my horse trailer. It was purchased from it's original owner in 2010. It had everything I was looking for at the time: escape doors on both sides, tack area, bumper pull, 7' ceiling. I didn't mind that it had a ramp, and I like that the upper back doors are removable for those hotter summer months to allow for more air flow. It also didn't bother me that it looked like an Appaloosa with it's wild spotted paint job. A solid little trailer for the price, and I even got "the PNER discount" since I bought it from a fellow member. It has served me well these past couple of years.The first thing we did when we bought it was to replace the floorboards, which came with it's own set of challenges (thank you to Matt, Gary, & Eric). Through the years it has started to wear out in places, namely the ramp and the driver's side manger/door is showing serious rust.  There is other surface rust all over it but that is not really a major concern. A little sandblasting could take care of a lot of it.Right now we are trying to figure out how best to replace the ramp wood, as it has taken a beating and is deteriorating. This is a photo of the wood, once the rubber mat (which is usually over it) was removed.The tricky part is that the wood is completely surrounded by metal, which is welded in over the wood. It would be impossible to take out this wood and put a new piece in without cutting the metal on one side, sliding out the wood, sliding in a new piece and re-welding that side. That may be our only option, but we're going to talk to some other people about it first. You can really see the rust we are dealing with along the top of the above photo. Every time I use the trailer more little pieces of metal and wood come loose and fall out.I was tempted to try and cut out just the top section that is deteriorating, but there is another section in the opposite corner falling apart so might as well just replace the whole thing, if we can figure out how!Any advice?[...]

Birthday ride


Typically for my birthday there is one thing I always have on my to-do list, and that is riding. Today was no exception.I was a bit worried last night, when what appeared to be a monsoon threatened with wind gusts and rain all night long. It was scary out there, and I was in town where there is some shelter offered from neighboring houses. I couldn't imagine how bad the winds might be out on the farm.At 7 am when I took the dogs out it still looked wet, dark and windy. I went back to bed. My darling husband made us a fine breakfast, during which the sun came out and shone brightly through the front window, tempting me to chance it.  The weather report on the computer said 60% humidity/rain and high winds, but looking to the west it was clear blue skies so that decided it.Ellie had picked out a pink hair bow for my birthday gift. One for me and one for herself, so I wore mine to the barn and we took some photos.It was windy, and bright at the barn. Sinwaan was fairly calm, considering the elements.We loaded up for the Lake. I thought because of the sun and the time (10 am) surely there would be a number of horse trailers at the lake. There was only one. Two gaited horses heading out as I was grooming. Sinwaan was a little edgy. He wanted to go with the other horses.Ellie has found that this is the perfect spot for her. She can grab Sinwaan's lead rope and pull his head over to give him attention and she is up off the ground, giving her a little more height than usual.There is a wooden rail along the perimeter of the parking lot that works great as a mounting block. The grass growing alongside it is an added bonus for Sinwaan. Usually he will grab a bite but today he was too interested in where those gaited horses went!As you can see we had beautiful weather complimented by the fall leaves.Sinwaan thinks posing is silly. He would rather be moving!He stood nicely for a couple of photos before we set out on the trails. We walked a bit but he was really eager (combination of the lack of other equines + the wind I am sure) and a working mind and body always helps both of us. So off we went in a trot, leaving the family on foot to hike the trails.We rode around the outer loop and then back on the inner loop. I thought perhaps we would meet up with either the gaited horses, or Laurie, but never saw any of them. Sinwaan had a couple of good spooks but this saddle is great at keeping me secure in my seat. Sometimes I think he jumps just to make sure I am paying attention.  We were a bit short on time (birthday lunch with family) so I trotted when it was safe to do so. We had to walk in a couple of muddy sections but overall I was impressed with the trails considering all the rain just hours prior.As we were heading along the canal I looked across and saw Matt. I yelled and he heard me. He picked up Ellie so she could see me and wave, then Levi had a turn. Matt hollered "We'll race you back!" I said "ok!" They had the advantage of being on the right side of the canal, I had a little ways to go yet to the crossing point. Sinwaan was happy to trot along and it was only a couple of minutes before I had them in my sights. At that time I saw a deer jump across the trail behind them. Levi was focused on beating me and he was jogging pretty fast. I cantered to catch up to them. Ellie was up on Matt's shoulders and turned around to see us running up to her and she was delighted. Once we caught up we just walked but it was faster then Matt was going so we passed him and Ellie and followed Levi. He stayed ahead of us and beat us to the trailer.When I ride on my birthday I can't help but think back to my first horse Dee. My last ride on her was on my birthday, four days before sh[...]

Mounted Orienteering


Mounted Orienteering is something that I have been wanting to do for awhile now. It hasn't worked out  mostly due to time and distance limitations. There seem to be a fair number of them up at Tollgate, which is over an hours drive with a trailer.The last ride of the year (Blue Mountain Mounted Orienteering) was held at Bennington Lake, on my own conditioning trails, so I knew I wanted to be sure to attend.  I tried to rally some of my friends to go with me but they already had other obligations for the day.Other then the ride managers, Shannon Perkins and Karen Wilcox, I did not recognize a soul. I did not understand how that was possible since I have been a member of the local ladies riding club for a number of years and thought for sure I would see someone I knew to pair up with.  As it turns out, a lot of the entrants traveled over from other towns.I thought my trailer stuck out but now seeing this photo I realize it was just camouflaged!The nice thing about trying a ride like this for the first time is the discount. Only $5 to participate!Karen had brought a compass for me to borrow and I was glad for that. There was a short orientation meeting and I thought I had everything figured out.  As I looked around I felt kind of out of place. Everyone else was riding Western, dressed in multiple layers, and it wasn't until I met my teammates that I even saw another grey horse! I was also one of the few with a helmet.After the mandatory safety meeting they asked everyone to split up into groups so they could see what they had. They decided to put me on one team, then I got bumped over to another team. I was trying to learn names and keep things straight but it was tough! The team I settled into was a group of beginners, everyone new to the event except for one woman named Michelle.There were a couple of newbies in our group that seemed to know each other. Tracy was a nice woman on the black and white paint mare. After talking throughout the day it seemed like she would enjoy endurance riding. We had some nice chats and I enjoyed her company.A small older woman on a big white horse (on the right in above photo) they called "Mom." I will be glad to see the results so I can try and put some names with the faces.It's a shame I didn't take a camera because it would have been fun to have shots of the ladies working the stations, looking for clues and plates.As we talked strategy in our group Michelle asked who could read a map. I told her I had limited experience with maps since I do endurance riding, and mostly I follow ribbons. She told me that was good enough and I would be the map reader.  One of the riders, I think it was Tracy, asked me about my saddle. It started one of my nicknames for the day "dressage saddle person." I was also "map-reader" and "endurance gal." It seemed that most of the ladies were having trouble remembering names.When we were given our maps and clues at the start it took me a little bit to get my bearings. I ride these trails all the time but putting our location together with the map was a bit challenging! They thought we were starting with #8 and no matter how many times I told them that #8 was behind us on the other side of the parking lot they would disagree with me and make me really question myself. Michelle took her job as our leader a little too seriously and I found her to be a bit harsh at times.While we did find the clues and plate for #3, we were really stumped on #2 and they were close together on the map. Part of the problem may have been that at the time I was not using my compass right. It wasn't until I asked for verification at our third station that I realized that and boy was I emb[...]

Saddle shopping


Through the past couple of months I have, through trial and error, learned more about saddles. How they fit the horse and how I feel in them. All good things to learn and it surprises me I never encountered all this trouble sooner in my horse-back riding travels. I have come to the conclusion that I really dislike saddle shopping. Part of it is my meager budget and part of it is just all the time it takes to track down something that "might" work and then ride a trial and realize that no, no it won't. I am a bit envious of the people who know what exactly they want/need and can just go and purchase it and have it work for both them and their horse.With the help of some riding friends who know significantly more about this then I do, we have looked, and put numerous saddles on Sinwaan to see how they fit him.The first one I really liked the look of, a leather english saddle that had both black and reddish tones. It was a medium tree and what I thought I needed at the time based on the measurement of the pommel gap for the withers. Mine measured 5" and so did this new saddle. However, after just looking at it, Cassandra put her fist in the pommel and quickly showed me that although they appeared to measure the same, mine actually was wider by about 1/3 a fist. That was amazing to me. So no need to trial that saddle. Cassandra also pointed out to me that placing the saddle up on Sinwaan, it wanted to slide down farther onto his back then was correct, and also did not sit level. The cantle sat much lower then the pommel and it just wasn't right.  Another thing she pointed out to me at the time was that Sinwaan's sheath appeared swollen, but that is a topic for another blog post!At this point I had a list of about 10 local saddles available in a medium tree and my hopes diminished when I realized none of them would work and I would have to start over in my search.I am thankful to have the resources locally of a ladies' riding club and a dressage club with which to inquire. Word gets passed around and soon various people I would encounter would ask me if I had found a saddle yet :)Looking for a wide tree resulted in a much smaller selection. There was one about an hour's drive from me, and while it sounded great I hesitated due to the distance. I wanted to be able to put significant time in the saddle before purchasing it. The local tack shop would have let me try anything but they did not have what I was after.Finally, during a lucky conversation with Annie I discovered that someone that I see every week (Bethany) had exactly what I was looking for. Annie had been planning to buy the saddle from Bethany but was changing her mind about it because she wasn't sure she would be doing much dressage with her current horses. It was a Wintec Isabella dressage saddle, very similar to what I have, but better because of an interchangeable gullet system and knee rolls that were also adjustable. Annie delivered the saddle to me and the next day I was able to go out for a very long ride to try it. I love that it has the same suede ("sticky") seat that I am used to, and I feel very secure in the deeper seat.I trailered out to the Lake and did the short loop alone, then met up with Laurie and some other riders, one of whom I ended up doing the rest of the ride with, a lady named Stefani. All told I was in the saddle for about 3 1/2 hours doing all gaits, hills and flats. Sinwaan got sweaty but it was really hard for me to tell what was going on with his sweat pattern, other than there was a good air strip down his spine. When I dismounted the outside of my knees hurt. I wasn't sure what to blame it on,  but in talking with Heathe[...]

Camas Creek Canter, Saturday


(Singsong beeping) Alarm went off as scheduled at 5:30 mountain time. Laurie got up. I think I stayed in bed for a bit. I was so doggone tired. I had not been getting much sleep up to this point and I really could have used a good nights sleep before the marathon that would be today. Oh well, I have never slept well before a ride, and I reckon I never will. Heather was up and about, making hot water for coffee and oatmeal.After a little while I decided to get up and take some photos of Laurie heading out on her 50 mile ride. She wears a yellow life vest to counteract Otto's, shall we say, adventurous nature? This makes her easy to spot! I hiked out a ways to get a decent photo with nature in the background instead of the ride camp. We all love ride camp, but let's face it, it can be a little distracting when what you want is a rider photo.She waved as they went by and asked me if I had captured Otto's shenanigans at the start. I was sorry to have missed that. I guess he gave her a little trouble but they looked great as they went past me.It was a beautiful morning indeed. I headed back to camp. It was still too early to tack up. I pondered going back to bed, but our start time was 7 AM and I knew I would need a substantial amount of time to get ready. I ate my dried fruit and tried to fight the butterflies.Thankfully it was a very easy-going morning. There was plenty of time to get it all done. We even had help! Laurie had brought along two of her riding students, Marci and Eliana, and they were crew-in-training.  While tacking up I went ahead and put on my HR monitor. I haven't used it since Bare Bones, last October, and shouldn't have been surprised that it didn't even turn on. Dead batteries. I removed it. I didn't want the extra equipment on if I wasn't using it. Everything else looked fine, except my right stirrup was looking like it wanted to slide off the end. I have quick release hangers, only this safety feature was looking less safe all the time.Before mounting up, I had forgotten something in the tent, so I asked Eliana to hold Sinwaan for me. Marci must have taken this photo at that time. It is nice to have a photo of my helper for the day. I would let her crew for me any time!Heather and I headed out at 6:45 to warm up the horses before the start time. We meandered all around the alfalfa fields and the horses were well behaved. It was a nice way to start the day. (Marci or Eliana took the above photo)We got to the start a couple minutes early and I think the circling started to make Sinwaan a little crazy. When they said "The trail is open," Heather and I were right there and put the horses into a trot to start our journey. A couple strides into it and Sinwaan started bucking a little. I am sure the excitement had gotten to him. A couple of strong growls from me straightened him out. He was just feeling good. We set a fast pace in the lead and it was fun. I like to be out front when possible. There was a third rider who stayed with us and leapfrogged us quite a bit. She had a very fit looking horse and when Heather started talking with her, discovered he is slated to go to Tevis in two weeks. This was just another training ride for him. They ended up winning the 25 mile distance, and taking BC. It was well deserved.There were a couple of times that some of us would miss trail markers, and the others behind would call out to let the others know to turn around. The first time Heather and I missed the turn, 2 or 3 people got ahead of us while we turned around to go back for it. Then those people missed a turn and we called them back. It was leapfrogging like this for a while. E[...]

Camas Creek Canter, Friday


Everything had been leading up to this. Every training ride, every decision I made this year was based on the ONE ride that I had budgeted for. In the week leading up to it Sinwaan went in for his coggins and health certificate for crossing into Montana. I hear they are picky there about paperwork and I wanted it to all be in order.  Well, even though they squeezed me in for an appointment on Friday morning, I didn't get the papers until the following Wednesday just before closing. Close call, since that is the night Laurie came to get the horses. It all worked out, though, and it was a big relief to have him loaded in the trailer all bubble-wrapped with his red shipping boots.Laurie was awesome and offered to let him ride in the front stall since there was a full-length partition for that one, no chance of him scrambling and getting banged up by (or hurting) another horse.The Camas Creek Canter was a long 378 miles from Walla Walla. Laurie had her saddle in the shop for repair and it wasn't due to be done until 9 am on Thursday morning. I don't know what time she left town but they made it to camp by midnight.I had left town Thursday morning with my mom and kids on our way to Ronan to visit my maternal grandma Joyce Baer. We made good time and enjoyed a fantastic and healthy meal for dinner on our arrival.Friday morning was spent with the family and I headed out after "lunch" around 3 pm to ride camp.  I teared up as I pulled away on my adventure, alone. This is the first time I have ventured out without my family. My grandparents had loaned me their little car, tent, and self-inflating air mattress so I was all set for a night away in comfort. I was a little worried when I noticed the car had 214,999 miles on it,  but it was fuel efficient and only cost me about $15 in gas for the 3-hr round trip. I had been checking the weather report off and on in the weeks leading up to the ride and every time it had said 0% chance of rain. I was not so sure that would be true when on the drive over I went through a pretty strong rain storm. After the ride I did last year in the rain, I didn't want a repeat and was a little worried.Is there a happier sight to an endurance rider then ride camp? And nestled at the base of such a beautiful mountain range! Ahh, this is my paradise. This lovely ride camp was in an alfalfa meadow on a private ranch in the Blackfoot Valley.Sinwaan was all settled in next to Bunny tied to the trailer. He looked great. Laurie had pulled out my stakes for his electric corral but had not set them up. When I tried to put my stakes in the ground I found it was near impossible, the ground was so hard. He looked content on his long line so I decided to leave well enough alone and let him stay where he was, I put my poles away.I don't recall the exact order of things but it involved getting checked in, and the horses vetted through (Sinwaan was looking great), setting up my tent (car and tent on far right in above photo) and once that was all taken care of, we tacked up for a pre-ride. I was slightly disappointed that my number was 8. I had put a note on the entry form asking for my lucky 21 if it was available. I decided not to ask (whine) about it. Jennifer (RM) was walking around with a grease stick and tagged Sinwaan for me, the interesting thing was at this ride they only marked one side of the horse. No red, unfortunately.Photo by Eliana KearnsAs you can tell in the photo above, I was ecstatic to be in camp, and astride my horse for a pre-ride. I don't usually get to camp early enough to do that. With this ride being so far away, we [...]

July 8


Did another early morning 8 mile ride today, and met up with Heather. We passed a wood-chipper that was running but had no one operating it. Sinwaan moved out well and led part of the time. Heather thought she heard a loose shoe towards the end of the ride. I checked them when I got to the barn and maybe a hind is a little loose but not by much. Still, time to call the farrier and hold off riding until I can get them reset. He is overdue on the fronts anyway.

4th of July


Planned out a long ride with Heather for this morning, it looked to be about 10 miles. We were doing decently on time so we added a bit to our ride. Turns out we did close to 14 miles (13.9), and Sinwaan had no trouble with it. I am glad to see his fitness to this level just in time for the endurance ride. We trotted long stretches at a time. We had some hills in our ride today and he powered up them. Heather showed me some new roads that were quite enjoyable - nice scenery and very little traffic.

July 1


Put in our usual 8 mi ride today and the weather was 85 degrees. I didn't blog about this at the time, so now I can't remember anything interesting that may have happened.

June 24


5 mile ride this morning, just wasn't feeling up to the usual 8.

June 20


8 mile ride in early morning temps of 56°F! 



This morning I did not want to get out of bed, what else is new? 5 am is tough to take when you don't get to bed before midnight. I had checked the weather forecast and it looked like lovely weather for a ride this morning, followed by thunderstorms all afternoon. Levi heard the alarm and sprang out of bed, feet pattering to our room. I told him it was too early, he should go back to bed. He said "But I really want to play with Legos." So I said okay, as long as you are quiet. 

Driving out to the barn the temperature was a perfect 60° and I was even a bit chilly. Sinwaan saw me coming and walked a couple steps the opposite direction. He was not in the mood to work today!  I really don't like taking him out before he's had any breakfast, but I do let him munch along the way to make up for it. We pass a couple of alfalfa fields that have some overgrowth at the roadside where it isn't mown.

The conditions were perfect this morning and I was so happy I had decided to put in a ride. Along the way we saw two bunnies hopping across our path, and even a little family of killdeer - three chicks and a protective mother, whom they didn't pay much attention to. Sinwaan was a bit slow heading out but once we turned onto Last Chance (2 mi in) he took more initiative at setting a faster pace. We did a lot of nice trotting and just enjoyed the lovely (calm!) weather and sunrise. I was pleased that we were able to maintain more of a steady pace today, even heading back towards home he was steady. We had a brief canter towards the end, and then a walk to cool out the last 1/4 mi. He still seemed willing to move out and not as tired has he has been at the end of our rides. Fitness is building!

The heat crept up on us during those 8 miles and by the time we got back to the barn it was already in the mid-70s. Sinwaan had started to sweat today, which was expected, but hasn't been usual for him lately with the cooler temperatures - and wind. He was glad to rub his big itchy head all over me once I took off his bridle. And then it was straight to his breakfast. 


Shot, check. Ride, check.


Friday I trailered Sinwaan in to the vet to have his WNV vaccine. If you recall, we did not give it to him when he got his 5-way because last year he had a bad reaction and we were not sure what from. So this year he got them separately and my vet kindly only had me pay the exam fee once even though she saw us twice.I checked in at the office and went back out, unloaded and started grooming Sinwaan. I felt a couple raindrops and there was a breeze but I wasn't too worried about it. I was just about done when a vet tech came out and asked me if I would like to take Sinwaan back into the sheltered area to wait to get out of the rain. I agreed and not two minutes after she left us the wind really picked up and the rain started hammering down. Talk about great timing! Sinwaan was quite uneasy in the covered area. Partly because it is full of scary things like stocks (for horses and cattle) and has a concrete floor that he slips around on with his shoes. He would much rather be out in a storm then in a shelter. We had some reminders about personal space and manners when standing around, he kept testing me and yanking his head out towards the dirt and rain.We were early to our appointment so the wait didn't surprise me. Finally the tech came back out and we put Sinwaan in the stocks. After a slight initial hesitation he walked right in and gave us no trouble. When the vet came out I told her since I saw her last I had been riding him 16 miles a week. She said that is great and commented that he was looking better. I said "well he still has a dimple in his butt and looks fat" she said she could tell that he had lost some weight. (My girth says otherwise, but he is much fitter now) She got out the weight tape and measured him. She said he had dropped 100 lbs. I couldn't believe it! That is great news. It is motivational in helping me to continue with our new program.Sinwaan also has two new lumps that I have just recently noticed. One is near the base of his left ear, and the other is on his right side, just behind where his girth goes. She looked at them and said she could biopsy them, but without doing that she couldn't tell me what they were. They could be cysts, or they could be melanomas. I decided to forego the biopsy today. I will keep a close eye on them and see if they get bigger, or if more appear. I know melanomas can be common on older grey horses. She said often they turn out to be benign and they just remove them.He got his vaccine and we loaded up and left. As we were leaving the sun started shining and the rain let up. That was nice because I was hoping to work him a bit before leaving him at the barn. Thanks to the grass and weeds that have been growing in the round pen, it wasn't too slick to work him even with all the rain. I had him trot both directions 10 times each and then put him back out to pasture.Cindy called to report that he wasn't interested in his 5 pm dinner feeding, but before bed she was able to coax him over to eat a handful of alfalfa and from that point he ate his hay.* * *Sunday, I woke up at 6 am (horrors) and headed out to the barn. The sun was shining (a rarity this week!) and it looked to be a perfect day. Of course when I got to the barn the wind picked up and I was questioning how wonderful this ride would be. I needn't have worried. Sinwaan was really mellow and perhaps a little stiff still from his shot, although I was happy to see no swell[...]