A tale of two weekends

Last weekend we went to the Maffitt Lake Equestrian center show and did a combined test.  Dressage was hilarious because he almost jumped out of the ring at C because the ring fence was about as high as the jumps we had been schooling earlier that morning.  There is no video of the test, which is probably a blessing to us all because there was a lot of tension, and some struggle for right lead, but we managed to get it done and it really wasn’t that bad.  So yay.

Here was my jumping warm up, in which Howdy was apparently quite impressed with the colors of the jumps because he had been jumping a bit bigger at home.

By the end of the day he had jumped four cross rail courses with only one rail.  Doesn’t sound like much, I know, but if we get him believing he is the king of jumping and that he can jump whatever is in his sights, then then there are good things ahead.

Today’s adventure was the ranch horse show in Afton, IA.  The whole point of the day was to see if Howdy would play with cows.  We spent the morning standing in the ring watching other people do cutting, which was great for him.  He stood with all the other horses and learned from them that cows are nothing to be afraid of.


This is my new friend Megan Pigott.  She’s really good at this ranch horse stuff and was really helpful and funny.  He pattern was stellar.  We thought our horses were mutt and Jeff, but I loved her horse too!  That spaceship-looking thing in the background is the Afton water tower.

Then it was our time to play!  Our pattern was a little tense, but we got it done.  Then the Universe blessed us with about the most cooperative steer of the day!

That was a pretty exciting start for us!  The people at the Ranch Horse show were super nice and they clearly all loved their horses.  Not one person scoffed at me wearing a helmet and everybody was very kind.  It was a long day, though, and Jay was a saint and I am grateful to him for his friendship and help.

Next  up is XC schooling at Catalpa Corner on this Monday, then a ranch show on June 10th.

The Way Forward


Howdy getting his check up, sans sedation.  He was such a good man it was not necessary.  Side note, do not take a picture with your camera accidently in auto flash mode in a room darkened for ophthalmic exam.  You will instantly become “that owner.”  When it was firing up to flash I was like, “Noooooooo!’  An immediate mea culpa and a promise not to do it again and I was forgiven.  Thank you good people.

Howdy’s ophthalmic exam yesterday, a follow up to his ERU diagnosis, yielded excellent results.  Everything is stable and there is no inflammation in either eye.  This is really, really good.  However, it could just be the time between bouts of uveitis.  It is too early since diagnosis to say.  But there may be some reason to believe that the gentamicin and the enrofloxacin are doing their work.

There is much to consider.
Yes, I do think about doing the cyclosporin implants, but when I first read about them, they seemed to me to not be addressing the problem, but rather the symptoms.  I thought this because the research I had read indicated that ERU is an autoimmune(AI) disease which stems from the gut.  With that in mind, the cyclosporin implants seemed to be stopping the intruders at the bedroom door rather than meeting them at the end of the driveway.  In the case of it being a systemic AI response, getting the gut stabilized would be meeting trouble at the end of the driveway.
Through further learning, it is clear to me that researchers are not in agreement regarding whether the AI response is systemic (the gut) and travels to the eye or has its genesis in the eye.  There is good research on both sides of the theory, and it may be that there are several kinds of ERU (or maybe even separate diseases that present like ERU, but that we haven’t discerned as separate yet) that have different disease courses.  If in the eye, then the cyclosporin implants would be the way to go.  If in the gut, then pre- and probiotics would seem to be indicated, as a change in the gut flora has shown to be palliative or curative in some human AI diseases.  And the problem could be in both places, of course.
I learned yesterday that Howdy’s lepto titer in his eye fluid was still discernible at a dilution of 1:1600, which implies a very high titer indeed.  He had no lepto titer in his blood serum.  This was interpreted as good news by optho vet yesterday.  I need to talk to her to find out if they are testing for the presence of the organism or the response to the organism.  My nightmare scenario would be that treating with the antibiotics does not stop the disease process because the disease is an AI over-reaction to an organism that no longer exists in the eye.  BUT, Howdy’s eyes were much improved at his exam yesterday, which may be a result of the gentamicin eye injection or, when I consider it brutally honestly, could just be a space between uveitis attacks.  This is a realistic thought, but not one that I allow to set up camp and invite its friends over to party in the center of my thought process.  “Yes, I heard you, now run along.”  There is no need to baste myself in fear.
I do not always know which way to go, but I am going forward in confidence that if I keep moving, a way will be shown to me through both science and the prayers I send up in faith and joy.
For the moment, we are going to proceed with the enrofloxacin protocol which takes a month.  During that time, I will be giving him periodic pre- and pro- biotics to support his immune system and to replace any beneficial microbial populations that may be experiencing collateral damage from the systemic antibiotic enrofloxacin (and also continue riding him and showing him cows, LOL).
It is a little unusual, but I would like to have another intra-vitreal fluid draw when he goes in for a check up in a month to see what his eye titer is at that time.  That procedure carries some risk and most people don’t do it, but I think the risk is worth the value in knowing what is going on.  We shall see what the ophthalmologists think of that plan.  Then, the best decision in how to proceed can be made at that time.
Meanwhile, his eye looks great this morning and he is out eating grass like a boss.

Western saddle, English saddle, Baytril

howdy western

So this happened.  If Howdy looks confused, he is not the only one.  Yes, we are preparing for the RRP and we intend to do eventing as our main competition, but, looking for a little experiment in the unknown, we are also entered to do Working Ranch.  Yes, with the cows and the simple reining pattern (small slow circle, big fast circle, halt from canter, back up 10 steps, rollback, yeehaw!).  And we get to “box” a cow, which means basically that you keep them on this side or that side of the arena and then move them where you want.  All of this is assuming Howdy is “cowy” which we will find out when we see some cows at the Iowa Ranch Horse Show in Afton on Saturday May 13.  We’ve already got a small group committed to go, including three with horses, and if you are in for a little adventure, join us!  Show bill:

2017_May_Afton_showbill-1.64160753Nope, I have no clue what a lot of these classes are either.  Ha!  I’m hoping they will let me be an amateur or ride HC, because I sure as heck do not want to ride with the Open riders and really draw attention to the greenster I am!

Thanks to my friend Wayne for the saddle loan.  She’s a beaut, too.  He’s a died-in-the-wool rodeo guy and asked me twice if I was sure Howdy was a TB.  He shook his head and said, “He stands awful good.”  Ha!  That’s my friend Kristen looking with a mystified expression at the breast collar.  I did the same thing.  LOL

howdy wayne kristen

Meanwhile there was this proud moment when I spotted him dozing in the barnyard doing this with his lower lip.  If he started reciting shrimp recipes, I was going to be outta there.

But when he’s not zoned out in a spring grass stupor (see expanse of green behind him that he had been munching on for hours), he looks fairly normal:


Meanwhile, the ERU saga continues.  His eye looked improved after the gentamicin eye injection (I’m still all yikes about the idea of that, but whatever, I guess that’s why I am not a vet.).  We got the results back from the eye fluid sample taken at the same time and he does indeed have leptospirosis in that eye, and maybe the other one too.  That’s bad news, but also sort of good news.  Bad news: it is there, and probably the cause of the inflammation.  Good news: It can be treated and the treatment should really help.  They warned me that the antibiotic was going to be expensive and I was thinking in the thousands of dollars for some exotic thing from Berlin or something, but it turned out to be $74 with apple flavoring and shipping, delivered to my door.  Ok, $74 is $74, but if it does what it is supposed to do, it is the best $74 I’ve spent in a long time.  Better than that, he is eating it top dressed on his feed!  I am so grateful and I intend for him to continue to eat it and for it to do its job.  He is being treated with enrofloxacin (Baytril) and it should be reaching levels in his eye today (the third day of treatment) that will kill the leptospirosis.  Send good energy for it to be so, if you would.

Other item of interest is that on Saturday we took a lesson with Vera Barisone who is a Grand Prix dressage instructor who is muy bueno at teaching riders at all levels.  She teaches at the level the rider is at in their riding in an encouraging and inspiring manner.  And she’s pretty funny with her Dutch/New Jersey accent.  (I kid you not.)  Absolutely inimitable.  In our lesson we did a lot of trot work with some good success, but it took a lot of work to get me to ride right and for Howdy to let go of some tension.  We had decent work finally in trot, and then moved on to canter.  When he cantered she was surprised at how well it went and how the connection is so easy for him and what a nice canter he has.  How lovely to hear!  And then she said, “And your homework is spelled T-R-O-T.”  Ha!

Next on the Howdy agenda is this Sunday’s MLEC schooling show which has a combined test.  We are doing BN.  Both Howdy and Bravado.  Um, hopefully.


Me, in my dreams

And I may have bought a cheap, fun hat for the Derby party at a friend’s house on Saturday afternoon.  Wheee!  Loves me some Kentucky in  spring.  And speaking of that, even though I love watching Michael Jung ride so dang beautifully, I could not be prouder and more happy for Phillip Dutton’s finish at Rolex this weekend.  You go Phil!