Saturday, 29 October 2011

Gracie's Sarcoid Treatment - Day One

So as Nat mentioned in the last post, Gracie has had some lumps diagnosed as sarcoids.

Here is an awesome link on sarcoids.

As they are on her nose surgery is not an option (and from what I have read, sarcoids don't respond well to surgery anyway) so the vet prescribed a cream. We are to treat it once a day for 5-7 days and then stop treatment and leave it alone. If this doesn't work, then we need to have the vet re-think treatment.

The normal side (for comparison)

The sarcoids aren't that bad compared to some of the photos I have seen online.
The cream is already applied and has soaked in for 20 minutes in these photos.

Grumpy Gracie

These are crappy pics, sorry.

I took a little video too - it shows the sarcoids better;

The cream

Wish us luck - we really don't want the sarcoids to get any worse.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

This grey mare I tell you!

So it seems my horse is causing me issues.

Since Gracie related stories are in less detail on this blog, let me break it down for you.

When we broke Gracie in, she wasn’t much of a challenge at all. She had Lisa off twice, me never (but mostly because I was the one who valued my life more). The first time was because Lisa tried to tighten the girth while she was ON Gracie's back, and the second time was her first attempt at a trot. I think that given the nature of what caused her to buck Lese off in those instances was pretty understandable, and her reaction was quite mild compared to what some unbroken horses can do on their first few rides.

After about a year of Grace being broken in was when we started to get some solid stuff from her. Safe (but a little jumpy) on trail rides, mini road rides and mild schooling (mostly just teaching forwards backwards, walk trot and canter).

So I was thinking to myself "Sweet I've got myself a safe, trustworthy little horse here!"... Well I guess I shouldn’t have been so sure.

When we moved them to Lisa's new property was when she had to start using her brain for everything. She went from a really quiet 5 acre paddock to a 2.5 acre property next to a main road with neighbours that ride their bikes, motorbikes (and I’m talking the whole street pretty much gets their motorbikes out and goes crazy for like 6 hours strait racing up and down the street), kids jumping on trampolines, we even schooled the other day while a neighbour levelled out the gravel on his drive-way with a massive back-ho! For Gracie's brain this is a good thing. She used to be a little spooky and all this stuff that goes on in the street and the main road is great for her bomb proofing. However, she’s a smart horse, and she tries every trick in the book to STILL use these distractions in the street as an excuse for her to go apeshit crazy.

I have had 3 falls off Gracie in the past 4 months. The first was my fault, I was riding bareback and decided to go for a canter, I lost my balance, she lost her balance and lowered her head and I fell off the side. However the other two falls WERE NOT MY FAULT!

The second time, I literally got on, had her take a few step forwards then BOOM, a firecracker went off somewhere in her head and she started bucking like a rodeo horse! I tried to stay on and I managed for about 4 seconds before I half bailed half fell off, after which she had an intense lunging session and Lisa got on and gave her an even more intense schooling session. After this fall Lese and I brainstormed as to what could have set her off. We realised she had been a rotten mole even just to handle the few weeks leading up to the fall (she even bit me so hard I had a bruise for 2 weeks on my back!). I had myself worried that she had some sort of hormonal imbalance that was sending her nutso, so I had the vet out about a week later.

After a $500 vet bill and various tests, it all came down to a behavoiral issue. Let me tell you, its pretty embaressing when the vet calls you and says "so, I have tested for everything and they all came back normal. Im thinking this is probably just a behavoiral problem and I can give you the number of someone who is really good at handling and training problem horses"...Oh he also informed me that she may have had me off because of the saddle and/or girth.

Ok, so I buy a sheepskin girth cover (which I described to the the horse as "like a soft bunny rabbit is cuddling you from underneath") which she seemed to love and went better in it, I nip EVERY behavoiral problem in the bud before it explodes into an episode and I also adjust my own attitude when I'm handling/riding her. And I notice now how in tune this horse is to my emotions and reactions. If I am in a shitty mood, she will be too, If I worry about a loud truck that is about to drive past while Im riding, she will also freak out about it. Basically I now have to ignore most of my survival instincts when riding this horse, or she will simply crumble. She NEEDS me to be the brave one, she looks to me and trusts that I wont put her in a bad situation BUT I need to make her feel like it is HER that is the brave one, like I trust her to look after me too. So I ride on a long rein and I ignore anything that would usually make me worry JUST so she does not worry also. I kind of really like that she is that sensitive to me and my emotions. It makes our bond that much more special. And we were making progress! I am enjoying my rides on her and she is not exploding and being a drama queen. Five steps forward.

Until last Monday, which was my third fall off this horse and probably the most emotional. I was schooling, doing something a little different, being a bit more pushy and she was a little agitated but nothing too bad, just being fussy with her head. Lisa was schooling also and she went for a walk to the back of the paddock as I came around the left corner of our (really shitty) DIY arena. Gracie had a little stare off into the distance at Lisa and Allie and I kicked her on and tried to continue our session. I come to that same corner again and she stops, swings her hind end around, puts in this HUGE rear (I bail/fall at this point) and runs off bucking and being a moron. I completly lost my shit at her so Lisa hopped on and sorted her out. She tried to throw every excuse at Lisa to get out of the job at hand... it didnt work. So this is where we have taken ten steps backwards.

This is Gracie in a nutshell...literallly. And I am boggled as to what the hell her problem is. I think this horse is going to be a constant challenge. I think she will always test me and shes smart enough to think of new tricks to add to her collection of ways to turn into an absolute bi-polar mole of a horse.

Oh, to top off these AWESOME problems. I had the vet out the other day to check out some old warts on Gracie's face and have found out that they are in fact Sarcoids and are VERY difficult to treat... SIGH

Saturday, 22 October 2011


So I have been feeling a bit flat about Chakra (more on that later, this is a happy post!) and I woke up this morning to my very first ever blog award!!

I'm so excited about this, it is totally silly of me but I have been kinda a little bummed that my blog hadn't been mentioned yet and I try so hard to read and keep up with a bunch of blogs and I try to comment on them all and and and I'm happy now. :p

So now I have to pick 15 blogs that I think deserve the award and then tell you 7 things about myself that you might not be aware of.

1. It's a Good Thing You're Cute
2. From Racehorse to Showhorse
3. The Process of Learning
4. 8 Days a Week
5. Nina's Story
6. Pony Express
7. Buckskin and Bay
9. G is for Greta
10. Green n' Green = Black n' Blue
11. I Will Jump Sweet Jumps
12. It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
13. Letters to Hennessy
14. Princess Diva Diaries
15. Tekes Tally-Ho!

That was hard! I follow that many blogs, it is hard to narrow it down!

Ok, getting to know me....

1. My middle name is Narvelle, after my mother's aunt Narvelle Joyce. I absolutely love it and I am really interested to know everyone's middle name because I have such a cool one. I think it is French and I am yet to be able to find a name meaning on Google, but my mother told me it means beautiful.

2. As you can probably probably tell, I have very sound self esteem, almost to the point of being egotistical. It gives the people I hang out with a lot the shits, but I own it! I know I'm a pretty cool person and worth a lot! All through school, I was severely bullied - spat on, beat up by both girls and boys, paper thrown at me, I have scars on my legs from where I used to have chunks of concrete thrown at me during lunch, the list goes on. I was treated by most of the other kids like I was a piece of scum and they even said my name like "eeew, Lisa Castle" as if I was totally disgusting. DESPITE all this I knew there was nothing wrong with me and it was THEIR problem they didn't like me and it was their loss. I had my few close friends and they were (and still are) beautiful people and I wouldn't have wasted my time on anyone else in school. If it weren't for my healthy self esteem (and my best friends and my first pony) I might not have survived that hell hole.

3. This one is a cheat because you probably already know this, but I would normally want to pick up a horse's foot and trim it then hop on and ride. I am obsessed! I have another blog, The Glorious Hoof, where I write about feet.

4. When I am stressed, I bite the skin around my fingernails, especially in my sleep. I have woken up in the past with a mouthful of blood and when I start picking I know that there is something wrong that I am stressing about.

5. I use an absolute motza of hand cream. I can't stand when my hands feel a little dry and I use easily a bottle a week. I apply it about 50 times a day and I am not even exaggerating.

6. I go to church every Sunday, which is unusual for my demographic.

7. I LOVE to sing. At the top of my lungs, big loud long notes until I am out of breath. And I totally suck at it. I knew Andrew was the husband for me because he doesn't mind. :)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


So Chakra is still here. She is acting normal and is happy. Eating, playing and rolling around on her back giving herself scratchies.

We found a really big lump on her belly today. I don't know how quickly it grew. I think it is the cancer. :(

My poor puppy girl. I can still see the clipper lines from her ultrasound. It has been around 2 months, the life expectancy for this type of cancer. I just need some support right now, I need to know that I am strong enough to face our goodbye very soon.

Chakra right now, putting on her sad, abused dog face she likes to pull on my heart- strings with.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Saturday Ride

Today is quite warm, 25 deg c (77f) with 52% humidity. We just got back from a really nice ride out. Both the girls were quiet, except Allie kept shying at random things with totally delayed reactions.

"oh, a blue truck".

Step, step.....



Gracie drunk out of my water bottle too! It was like she knew exactly what was in there!

Anyway, it was a beautiful day, and an awesome ride.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


I fed up about an hour ago and I remembered that I wanted to write something in particular about my weird girls.

Gracie always pees before dinner and sometimes before morning hay too. I don't know when she started but I noticed a little while after I brought her home off agistment. She never stands at the gate whinnying & demanding dinner until after she has wandered off to pee (very lady like mind you, squatting on pointed toes!).

Allie on the other hand will yawn multiple times before she gets her dinner. Shows how bored she is about food!! She started doing it about 3 months ago, and I catch her yawning nearly everyday, even if she hasn't been worked and just sat around in the paddock all day long. Big, long, jaw-breaking, eye-popping, tounge-twirling yawns. It's cute and pretty goofy.

I love these little funny quirks about our ponies. All put together, it makes them who they are, makes their personalities.

What strange things do your horses get up to?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Oh Daylight Savings, NEVER LEAVE ME

I LOVE LOVE LOVE daylight savings. Ah sunlight, it has been such a long time!

We have done some time in the saddle this past week! Saturday we had an awesome schooling session, and then Monday my friend Casey came and took Allie and I up to Sun Valley reserve in Springwood for a ride.

Allie was a mole to get on the float. Honestly, she has been pretty good about floating but she had been in a mare mood the previous few days (just squirting urine while tied up and being a bit grumpy) but it took us an hour and a half to get her loaded up. She either would rush straight back out after walking in or she refused to walk in at all. She is so tall that she even started putting her head on the roof of the float instead of walking in!! She did end up hitting her head a few times but she didn't seem to care! I was so unimpressed with her. She did end up putting a small split in her poll but it's nothing to worry about. The poor delicate flower has been picky with her feed and not finishing it again since the whole float debacle. She even put up a fight going home, and took about 25 minutes to load. Casey said she was being a bit of a warmblood - not getting into a tizzy about the situation, but just being stubborn. >:(

The actual ride itself was awesome. It is mostly sandy or slightly rocky trail that winds through lovely bush with an awesome hill at the end that we had a big canter up! Allie did very well, was a little nappy but not too bad and she got along really well with Casey's horse Harry (a fit endurance arab who was very patient to be honest about babysitting Allie!). I did get off her to walk back down the hill after the big canter as it was pretty steep and she kept stopping because she was a bit worried about her balance. She was a little looky, mainly at holes or drops (I think she believes that I am going to bury her in any big hole in the ground we go near, she must have fallen in one as a foal!) but overall was very good under saddle. We were out for about 2 hours on the ride I think? She seemed a little pooped but as soon as she got her wind back she was happy to trot on again.

Then another schooling session on Tuesday where I mainly rode Gracie and Nat rode Allie because Gracie was in a mood. I was actually thinking twice about getting on her, she was so agitated from god-knows what, with a swishy tail, pawing the ground, snorting and twitching. She can be a bit of a little dragon to be honest, but once I was on she was happy to settle into the job. So I got to see Allie go over the trot poles and she looks so nice. She pauses almost like she is doing passage, most noticeably in her hocks. I must say, she is one nice horse to look at. Sorry to gush! Gracie did really well over the poles and is really starting to get it, she tries really hard and I love that about her. I'll have to move them soon to another spot, they will get bored with them there soon!

THEN today we did the Chain-o-Ponds loop around the block, walk trot and canter in about 50 minutes. Allie seemed to have gotten bit by the speedy-bug (probably caught from Harry!) and realised that cantering up hills is fun after all! She really enjoyed herself. Gracie was an absolute angel, was the absolute opposite of the mini-dragon that she had been the day before. Sweet, relaxed, happy to be tacked up. Stood still at the tie up, not once pawing the ground. I can't keep up with that horse's moods! I think she might be in season right now, we have noticed that she gets all sweet and easy when she is in season. Go figure.

Sorry, no pictures. My phone was too full and wouldn't let me take any but I promise now that I have deleted a bunch of songs I didn't want and have made room, I will take pictures next time.

That is us all up to date now I think.

*edited to add: Nat wanted me to add the below photo of Gracie after our ride. She was a bit pooped, she kept yawning. Cutie.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Schooling Tales

After all the bitching I did about not having an arena in my last post, Nat and I had an awesome schooling session in our bottom paddock yesterday. Typical! :p

We tried Sprinklerbandit's warm up (or rather a modified non-arena based version with less leg yielding) and I was pretty proud of both girls as it was sprinkling with rain AND the guy across the road had his giant backhoe out and seemed to be trying to level out the gravel on the mouth of his driveway just as Nat was mounting up. BUT we just gave the girls a chance to prove that they could deal with it and they totally did. Barely noticed the stupid backhoe.

We set up some trot poles and a mini cross rail with our newly acquired jump set we bought from my friend (THANKS CASEY!) and they really enjoyed it! We put the trot poles just before the corner closest to the gate where both girls normally loose concentration and try to bend out towards the gate to go home to give them something else to concentrate on in the corner, and they both tried very hard with the poles. It was hard to decide the distance for the poles because Allie has such a big stride compared to Gracie so we made it on the smaller side for Al which made it on the bigger side for Gracie. They were both champs.

About 5 minutes into the warmup it started raining quite heavily and we could see the clouds moving quickly so we knew it would pass over soon so we took them back up the top and just sat on them under cover, which was a good thing for Gracie because she hates standing still and needs some practice.

After that, we went back and finished the warm up. I got some nice canter from Allie, and some lovely work over the poles and a few cute jumps but she quickly decided that the jump was too small to make the effort a ended up just trotting over it lol. AND she (accidentally) threw in a flying change!! We struck off on the left lead but going right, and I fully expected her to fall back to trot (which would have been fine) but before I could cue anything she just went HOP! and viola! We were on the right lead!! I was so shocked that I stopped riding so she stopped all together but I made a big fuss of her so hopefully she connected the dots. It felt amazing though and I was so proud of her. It felt totally different to the flying changes I used to ride on Beckham, the strung-out TB. I'm a bit proud, can you tell?

Nat has been having trouble schooling Gracie lately. She gets grumpy and pissy and Nat has had a couple of falls in the recent months from miss mare being a mole. She just seems to hate being ridden, and handled in general, which is sad. Nat got the vet out to do an exam and take bloods looking for hormonal stuff and anything else that could be medically wrong, and she came back clear ($400 later mind you). She hates being girthed up and we know 100% that she has NEVER had the girth done up too quickly because she has only ever been tacked up by us two, so that couldn't be why she kicks and carries on when the girth is done up. But she has a small wither and a broad back and can be quite rolly-poley so we are now mindful not to over tighten the girth and that seems to be helping. Nat also rode her in a new sheepskin girth cover (which she described to Gracie as "it's like having a fluffy bunny rabbit give you a cuddle!") as combined with the new warmup routine she went really sweetly and they didn't argue, Gracie didn't swish her tail nearly as much, wasn't so jacked up in front as she normally is and just looked like she was having a pleasant ride. :)

We had been to the saddlery just before we rode and I bought Allie a blue bonnet which we tried out during out schooling session. She looks super cute in it, this photo does not do it justice at all.