Eye treatments and Bravado’s first hunt

The story with Howdy is all about eye treatments.  Four times a day to be exact, so we are seeing a lot of each other.  This is pretty ok.  Oddly, I’m learning that he really doesn’t like to be handled from the right side.  I mean really objects to it, so you know what I am doing – handling him from the right side as much as possible.  I lead him from his paddock on the right side, I fuss over him on the right side and on an on.  Despite the daily treatments, the eye has not changed much and I admit I am getting a little frantic about wanting to see a positive change.  The steroids should help and it has only been 3 days.  I have faith, but I could use a little show for encouragement.  Here’s your daily eye picture:

Howdy eye day 13

I’ve been continuing to work Howdy in-hand and on the lunge.  Much work to the right.  It is coming along.

Meanwhile, Bravado, the other 5 year old OTTB went on his first hunt on Saturday.  (Technically hunt number 1.5 because he did one a few weeks ago but it was cut short due to baby horsie Bravado becoming a bit overstimulated.) Here is a picture of his ears on the hunt. Jay is the guy in red on the bay horse – and the bay horse is the magnificent Eddie:


The fact that I was comfortable enough to be riding one-handed snapping a picture is an indication that things went pretty well.  That is not to say that there were not some exciting moments.  For instance, at the first real check, he was behaving beautifully, just standing and being relaxed – enough that I decided to have a beer from the whoopi wagon.  Apparently, I have never opened any sort of beverage while near him as he found the sound of the popping top quite alarming and sort of ballooned from a relaxed halt to a moderate canter in about 5 strides.  I had taken a glove off to pop the top, and now I had a loose glove, an open beer and the buckle end of the reins in my hands and the 17-hand OTTB was ramping to something close to a gallop, and the conditions on the wet gravel road were most decidedly fast.  So I ended up unceremoniously jettisoning the glove and the can in order to get my reins in order, and hopefully get him back.  This took a little while, so Bravado covered a good bit of ground on the gravel road before I had much influence.  He was pretty relaxed, he just happened to be cantering, of his own volition.  My friends were car following, parked at the check, and saw the whole thing and mused that it brought to mind the OJ Simplson car chase, “I think she is getting run away with.  Or is she?”  “I can’t tell, he’s sort of just cantering along…”


Thanks First Whip Bre Orsborn for the photo!

If you look closely at the picture, you can see the awesome sticky velcro strip on the top of my helmet.  I meant to wear the helmet cam, but the chance of rain argued victoriously against it.  The OJ Simpson Mini-bolt would have been great video.

On Sunday after I worked with Howdy, in-hand, I introduced Howdy and Bravado to each other, and the budding bromance came into bloom.  Not one squeal, and two minutes after I set them loose together they were mutually grooming each other’s withers.  It was darling.  You may want to light some candles and play some Barry White while you view the following pictures:

img_8952Howdy and Bravado

And then an afternoon of hay munching and sharing the run in.  Awwwww…

Howdy and Bravado

Coincidences, disappointment and friends

img_8872 The other 5 year old off track tb, Bravado, (who is not Thoroughbred Makeover eligible because he hasn’t raced since 2014, when he was three) was having drilltec put on his front shoes this morning in anticipation of going on his second hunt, this weekend.  The first hunt, a few weeks ago, was at times very good and at other times very tense. I’ve done some more work at home so I’m hopeful that the next hunts this weekend will be better.  He was getting drilltec (aka borium) put on his shoes for traction in case frozen conditions develop within the next shoeing cycle.  This weekend’s footing will mostly be mud, and drilltec is helpful for that too, so all good.

img_8915As I was walking back out to the barn with a cup of coffee for the farrier who had just arrived, I noticed that he was mentoring a young man.  Turns out that the young man is Angel, who worked for Bravado’s previous owners.  Angel put the first few months of riding training on Bravado.  Nice guy who was glad to see Bravado doing well.  Small world.

Then it was off to Howdy’s eye appointment with the ophthalmologist at Iowa State.  I am so grateful to be near the U’ with so many specialists.  Huge veterinary brain trust, and affordable to boot.

I dropped Howdy off and went to work at my job in the Office of Biotech on the other side of campus. I could not be there for the exam, but the vet school vets always write a report and Dr. Wehrman was kind enough to call me afterward with a synopsis.  Long story short, Howdy’s eye has improved, but there is more work to do. The ulcer has healed (yay!) which means that we can use steroids to help with the uveitis, which we need to get a handle on.  The downside is that I now get to do eye ointment four times a day and keep track of giving banamine and atropine as well for the next two weeks.  I had been directed to give treatments twice a day prior to this. I am grateful that we are on the right track, and for the medicine that is available, but I have to admit, I’d hoped the next part would be easier.  I gave myself a little time for an internal whine about Howdy’s having to go through this and about me having to treat him so often. I had some moments of real malaise while I hung out waiting for Howdy’s meds to arrive from the pharmacy.  The vet students put a serious damper on my whiny mood by showing up with a bag decorated like this:


Gotta love vet students.  That’s good stuff there.

Your daily Howdy eye picture.  Not much change to report.  Hopefully, with the new meds, things will pick up soon.Howdy eye day 10

In the evening I taught a dressage lesson at Hickory Grove in Madrid, and both of my students and both of their sweet horses did excellently.  Then I rode an old friend of a horse who is with a new owner. Then the new owner got in the tack and I had the pleasure of explaining to him where the buttons were.  Pretty fun. To top off the night, my friend gave me a belated Christmas present, and the sentiment could not have been better-timed.

Thank you Megan camie

New toys!

I’ve been waiting.  And watching.  And it finally happened.

_57Helmet cams got small and cheap!  This is a Mobius Action Cam and it measures something like 1.5″ x 2.5″ and sells for less than $100.  I bought one knowing that:

  • It may or may not work well because nobody I know has one, so I have no real-life recommendation.  It got decent reviews on the site I bought it from, though, so it wasn’t a complete shot in the dark.
  • Attaching it to a helmet is done with sticky-backed velcro – which sounds like a dubious plan to anyone but Red Green.
  • Downloading or editing the video is unknown territory.  No fancy software package comes with the camera. This actually may be what attracted me to it – the thrill of unknown tech challenges.  I’d like to say that I am not being serious here, but um well, I’m being serious here.

So, tra la la, I went ahead and bought it.  After the initial trial when I stuck it on the side of my helmet and recorded sideways video of me ponying Elliot from Sammy in their tendon rehab walk workout this afternoon (you’re welcome for sparing you having to see that.  It is stomach churning), I subsequently dropped my new camera on our grill (which was closed and off, thank you Universe) but the impact still managed to ruin the plastic thingy it is supposed to rest in if you want to attach it to a tripod (as if – this 2″ thing on a 4′ tripod would be such an embarrassment that it begs a Donald Trump small hands joke, but I digress.)  So, instead of attaching the sticky velcro to the tripod holder, I white-trashed it and slapped that sticky velcro right on both the camera and the helmet, joined them up and voi la!  helmet cam.  You will see the downside of this plan momentarily.  

Experimentally, I took the dogs for a walk at dusk with my helmet cam, which, yes, means that I, like a huge dweeb, walked the dogs wearing a riding helmet.  Rockin’ it loud and proud, I was.  But the brilliance of living in central Iowa is that the likelihood of seeing another person when you don’t want to see another person actually approaches zero.  Cheers to living in a state with a declining population.  At any rate, during the dog walk, I learned that the camera doesn’t work that well when I am scanning forward into the sunset at the young dogs tearing off, and then looking back, away from the sunset to keep an eye on the one-speed newf bringing up the back of the pack.  Maybe that test would be a little hard for any camera. So I threw the data from that failed experiment out.

I got back home and settled the tired dogs (“A tired dog is a good dog” ~ Kate Hladky) in the yard and set about working with Howdy.  First I let him prance about the arena a bit.  Now, before you look at the following clips, note that I didn’t see any of them until I saw all  of them.  I didn’t know that:

  • The music sounds egregiously loud.  It really wasn’t that loud, this camera just picks up everything.  (That’s my story anyway.)
  • The camera is aimed too high.  You will get to see a lot of horse body and very little of horse legs.  Sort of like watching a duck on a lake.  This is the downside of the white trash-esque attachment of the camera to the helmet – you have to do some experimentation to get it right and how I am going to reproduce it when I do get it right remains mysterious to me.  So I have that to look forward to.
  • I cluck and kiss at horses a lot and I have no idea why I apparently have begun to think that the word “trot” has two syllables.  Oy vey.

He doesn’t have bad movement for a horse with a slight club foot, an osteochondroma and stifle effusion.  No horse is perfect and if you look hard enough with enough technology and quality vets, you can scare yourself silly.

Then I put him on the lunge line and went to the left.  During the first minute of the video there are a couple of somewhat exciting horse antics.  Wheeee!  5 year old thoroughbreds.

Now if you are looking for some fun, compare going left to going right.  Also, side note, the dogs are apparently not that tired, since halfway through this video they start barking/howling with the local coyotes. Pfffft.  Not a-one of them would survive two days in the wild, but, like a 40 year old man who stumbles upon a high school basketball open gym, they’re gonna put it on and throw down what they got.

And then there is your daily eye picture.  Recall how it started out and you’ll see that it is improved today.  And thanks to the miracle that is Mac Photos and the included extension Markup (did I mention I’m a techie girl?), I present this: Howdy eye day 9

And tomorrow we’re off to ISU ophthalmology for a check up.  Wish us luck, please.

Moving in the right direction

We only made it to around 19 degrees today, and with relatively high humidity for winter, it was a day for doing indoor tasks.  That’s ok, because Howdy has some healing to do with his eye yet and I want to give him time to work into his new hoof angle on the right front, and maybe get over some of the RF heel soreness we found on Monday in his PPE.  I got out a winter blanket for him, as this was the first day that he mentioned he might need one.


With his super mask and blanket, striking a pose in the run in.

The eye treatment continues and he is being good for it, but he also mentions that it kind of is not fun.  But the results are encouraging:

Howdy eye day 4

ISU Opthalmologist Dr. Rita Wehrman was happy to see this picture.  Yay!  Good to get confirmation.

Meanwhile, the other resident 5 year old bay off track thoroughbred gelding has developed a bromance with Howdy. They have adjacent stalls on nights that they stay in due to weather and apparently Bravado has recognized a kindred spirit.


This is Bravado’s expression when he looks at Howdy.  He’s like Joe Biden looking at President Obama.


And the way my day ended: an evening dressage lesson at beautiful Irish Run with Maddie Woodham and her wonder horse Kidron.  Mom Leah Woodham and sis are there to support despite the cold weather.  These people are proof that there is authentic  good in the world.  They make me smile just thinking of them.

Before and Afters

Above is Howdy’s eye on day 0, this Sunday, the day I brought him home. His pupil displays miosis – constriction. I learned this week that horse pupils are rectangular or a bit oblong oval unlike human eyes and I’m slapping my forehead that I never gave that much thought. At any rate, here we can see that his pupil, the sort of yellow area, is nearly constricted to a single line.

Then, of course, on Monday we went to ISU and, among other things, saw the opthalmologist who prescribed atropine, topical antibiotics and banamine.  The concern was that if the pupil didn’t move soon, the lens would stick to it, and then the horse loses some of his sight.  Whatever could be done to get that pupil dilated, I was in.  I was on the mission with twice a day treatments and asking the Universe to bring goodness.  The progression went like this:

A little opening on day one, 24 hours after treatment started

Day 2: Not much change, but not going backwards either

A very hopeful breakthrough on day 3. Not entirely open, but much better!

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading a lot about club foot, hereherehere and here; as Howdy is slightly clubby on his right front. Today my farrier came out and had a look at him.  This, after I had emailed him and asked him for his opinion on the wisdom of buying a horse with a club foot.  He said, “I do a fair number of them.  They’re not my favorite, but they do pretty well.”  So, my farrier arrived and looked at Howdy and shared that he was not very concerned about his hooves.  (This is a good thing indeed!) He said he thought we could work with them without much trouble and he had a lot of horses in work with worse clubs than Howdy’s.  Glorious joy to hear!Howdy had a trim.  Here are before and after photos.

Monday in the stocks at ISU.  The right hoof (on the left side of the picture) is the one with the slight club stance. The blue line highlights the broken line between the leg and the hoof wall. The left leg has a more correct line.

Today after the trim. The leg/hoof line on the right leg is much better! I like it a lot, and I hope he does too. Care must be taken not to produce too much change in the hoof angles because of course that affects the bone column of the leg. We’ll watch and see how he does!

The Ophthalmologist

The start of the PPE had been in the morning, when the vet also looked at my other two horses, who are recovering from tendon injuries.

Sammy got the green light to go slowly back to trot and canter work (File picture with Megan Clements)

Elliot (above) is at least off stall rest now, but it will be at least 6 months until he gets the green light for anything other than walk under saddle.  His injury was both more recent and more serious than Sammy’s. Things don’t look rosy, but we are an optimistic and determined tribe.  🙂

Back to Howdy: My vet reviewed the ra

Back to Howdy: My vet reviewed the radiographs we took of knees, hooves and hocks and there was quite a lot to talk about it.  Some of it was very good news: clean hock and knee joints, no sign of navicular – a good start. The new words I learned were crena and osteochondroma.  The first one is just kinda cool and the second one could matter.

This is a shot of looking straight down on a hoof.  Howdy has a large crena, the notch in the bone in his hoof.  Not indicative of anything, just kinda cool.

Above is where things get a little dicey. That very tiny shadow is a cartilage covered bony protrusion. It could interfere with the deep digital flexor tendon of the distal radius. The little circle thingy that is labeled is literally a remnant of a digit. Horses are really walking on their middle “fingers”. The other digits are fading away, but Howdy is apparently getting in touch with his eohippus side. Taking “old school” to the next level.

After seeing the rads, there was a long wait for the ophthalmologists to see Howdy about his eye.  They told me in the morning it would be around 5 p.m. by the time they could see me, so I left the horses at the vet school, went out to lunch, took my dog for a short, cold walk, did my year end books on my computer and bought me some new barn boots on sale at a store nearby.  Woot.

Duggy got cold in the truck, so she rocked the babushka!

And then she got to come in to the waiting room and hang out with me and pilfer cookies from Becky the ISU Vet School receptionist/scheduler/miracle worker.

End of day finally came and so did the ophthalmologists.  They dilated both eyes and peered in, and bottom line is, yup, horse has an eye infection, a good deal of pain and a miotic (constricted) pupil.  Started topical antibiotic and atropine and banamine.  Even if I don’t buy the horse, I’m not letting an eye infection get out of control on my watch if I can help it.

Howdy behaved well all day, and it was a long one.  Jay helped me settle the horses into the barn and we had a little supper and went to bed.  I sent up a prayer that Howdy’s eye would heal and went to sleep.

On-going Pre-purchase Exam

Waiting for the ophthalmologist

We radiographed everything except possibly his ears.  I did this partially for myself and partially for a baseline in case I decide to market him.  Hooves looked good other than that I was right about a slight club foot on the right front.  Dang, hate being correct that way.  But she said it was mild and probably could be managed with shoeing.   Hocks looked clean – yay.  Stifles looked clean – yay.  Left knee looks good – yay!

But there are three ‘howevers’.

  • However, he has an osteochondroma (little bony protrusion) above his knee that may or may not have caused his left front knee to be positive to flexion.  If it proves to be the problem, it can be removed for about $1,000 and a week or two recovery time.
  • However, we don’t know what caused the slight effusion on the right stifle (though sound as he is behind, and as many bite marks as he has from pasture life, I’m guessing it is a pasture bonk)
  • However we don’t know what is going on with his eye, though it appears to be an infection.  Ophthalmology is coming to look at it this afternoon.

Any of these things separately are probably not a problem.  All taken together, they might not be a problem.  Or any of them singly could be a deal breaker.  This is where a bit of faith and luck, tolerance and being real come in. Horses have a lot of moving parts, both literally and figuratively.  The question becomes, “How tolerant are you to risk?”

For me, I don’t have to answer that question right now.  I’m still waiting on the ophthalmologist.  They’ll call me when they get to him.  I think I’ll go barn boot shopping here in Ames.  Weeeee!