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Have to admit that this year I am just not into the holidays. Not sure why either.
Maybe its the fact while it has been cold in GA, it has also been 70 this week as well. That is not very Christmasy weather for sure.
Plus I have been super busy with work and traveling. I want to just stay home and veg...not drive up to TN again to visit with family.

Had a good time at the barn party over the weekend. We all just meet at a mexican restaurant and had some drinks together. It was a lot of fun and I do have to say I love my barn. There may only be about 10 of us out there but it is a good group of people. And NO drama.

Gracie is getting most of this month off sadly. Just with work, weather, and the holidays I have probably been on her all of three times this month. Back to real work in January hopefully. If it will ever stop raining. At this rate I am going to need to find an indoor to trailer too a few times a week...and get a friend at the barn to let me borrow her trailer.

Off to TN in the morning and will be there through Saturday. And on the trip back we will be bringing my parrot from my mom's house down here to GA to live with us. Joanie, a Meyer's parrot, has been at her house since I was up in NYC...so kinda forever. And a long list of things has brought me to wanting to finally bring him back under my care. Mainly that he is approaching birdy middle age, and I want to make sure everything is done right to ensure he lives to 'old' age....from what I have read for his type of parrot can be between 20-50 years. Yeah that is kinda a big discrepancy in what is considered old age for him, but I couldn't get a more set answer. Each source seemed to have a different answer. He is 15 right now so need to get some blood work ran, and crack down on his diet....no more 101 almonds a week for him. It will be neat having him around again.
I am interested to see what all six of the mobile cats think of him...one cat lives in a room by himself so he won't meet the bird.
Joanie has held his own in the past with cats so I don't think it will be an issue. He is actually kinda evil.....

Need to finish packing and wrapping presents, and think about dinner. All that fun stuff I need to do before leaving town for days on end. If I don't get back on here Happy Holidays to everyone! Or Merry Christmas! Or Happy Festivus! Whatever you like!

Sep. 26th, 2013

I am happy to have some new friends on here. It always feels like I am going on about how I am going to write more on this site and how much I miss it. Which I do, but I have yet to find the energy to start writing again. Really it was hard to find the energy to do alot!
Life has been a bit turned upside down in the last year or two, but I think it is starting to turn right side up.
That or I have just adapted to it being a bit wonky.

So where to begin???
Maybe start here....Collapse )

Gracie is Lame??

So Gracie became a fire breathing dragon under saddle about two weeks or so ago. Looking back it has kinda been growing over the last month. Her normal sucking back and refusing to move forward. When asked she hops around in place, crow hops, kicks at your leg, and pretends to want to rear. If she is just being lazy she will do it once and then go into work. When she is in pain she does it repeat times and is very resistant to let it go and go to work.
Last Wednesday I had a terrible ride. I never really got her moving, but I felt it wasn't worth it to fight her since I know it is a pain thing. Rode again that following Saturday and while still crabby worked out of it eventually. This Wednesday not much better.
So Thursday night I lunged her and took some video...she had felt a tad different to me the night before.
Then I rode her walk mostly and a bit of trot. Walked fine, but very sucked back when asked to trot.

To me this is not the EPM. This is something new. I massaged her before the ride yesterday and she a mess in her right hind leg. Up high in her glut muscles was a mass of knots that had her bucking in the cross ties. Needless to say I had worked on her about two weeks ago and those were NOT there then. I found some other things but that was the most striking find that was out of the ordinary for her.

Anyways I talked to a friend at length and I think I am going to give her a week or so off. I am out of town most of next week so I wouldn't be riding anyways...so I will just not ride from now till I leave too. Before I get back I will get the barn to do a three day course of bute and then one day of none before I ride her again. If she is better I will do more bodywork and continue time off. If she is the same or worse I will call the vet. UNLESS one of you sees something in the videos that I am not seeing. Quite possible....with your own horse all one's vet tech/massage knowledge goes out the window I swear.

Here are the videos I got. I know they make you a bit dizzy but I did what I could! They are under the cut.
Read more...Collapse )

Gracie Update

So lots have been going on with the Gracie mare...and thankfully most of it is good!

Vet came out a few months ago and rechecked her for the EPM. Symptom wise she looks better. And we reran one of the blood tests and her numbers went way down..not further treatment needed. Dr. N looked at her eye and it looks physically normal. But he said it would not surprise him if she didn't have some damage to the optic nerve that we wouldn't see. Not much we can do for it even if we could prove her sight was limited in the left eye. So I decided at that time to ignore it and just get her moved and settled. See kinda how things played out after that.

She moved to her new home first of March, and instantly seemed to feel at ease there. She loves her new pasture mates Regini and Patrick. Regini is a big Hanoverian mare who is besties with Gracie now. Patrick is a cute little paint Arab that wishes he was Gracie's bestie.
I will say that with only 9 horses on the barn there are LOTS of mares....only two geldings. So the estrogen in that barn is crazy! Even with Gracie being spayed she is acting in heat when the others cycle in. Thankfully though it is NOT carrying over into riding.
She is out all day long and comes in at night. Four days a week she goes to the neighbors property and grazes on their 10 acre lot. She loves that...they all stuff themselves on grass in that field and never finish their hay at night the BO says. LOL.

I started riding her again after she had a few days to settle in. There is a small dressage court with mirrors right next to the barn. Completely open on all sides so that took some getting used to. (Was used to fences or at least a wall on one side) But Gracie does not seem at all bothered by anything there and has yet to spook at all since moving there. THANK GOD!!! I really feel that the last two barns just had a vibe about them that unnerved her for some reason. I laugh cause the barn I was at for all of two months was referred to by the locals as the "graveyard barn"...since there was a cemetery next door. Gracie must have been seeing ghosts. ;p

The footing is a bit deeper in the ring so she is having to adjust to that. That along with the EPM leaves her getting that right hind "stuck" at times and you feel it wobble a bit. But with each ride it happens less and less. Talked to the vet and he just feels it is due to muscle strength loss and will improve with work. I started off light after moving her, and have slowly moved up the intensity of each ride according to what she is willing to do. So far I have not pushed her past what she can handle. She is even gaining weight back (lost a bit with the EPM flare), and gaining muscle/topline back too.

The biggest step for us for adding the canter back under saddle. I did lots of it on the lunge line so she could find her balance and just get some strength back. Once that looked really nice I decided it was time to take the plunge and try under saddle. I had the BO help me with a lunge whip just to get the transitions up. To the right it has been where it was before consistently...so yeah! To the left though she is a bit wonky to be honest...very four beated, crooked, and doesn't want to hold it for long. I figure it is me adding into the equation cause on the lunge that lead looks fine. But each day it did start improving and after a few rides we could hold it for the whole entire ring.

Today the dressage trainer I sponsor came over to give me a lesson. I picked his for the sponsorship because I liked his teaching style and his horses always feel very even in their bodies, and are muscled correctly. He watched me ride for a minute and Gracie started to pull her balking routine. After not getting anywhere with trying to stay out of her face and kicking her on, he stepped in and wanted to get on saying he thought he saw the issue. So he got on and worked with her for a good twenty minutes and at the end she was going very nicely at the walk/trot. Everyone I have ever worked with for the most part has always said to throw the reins away, ignore her head, and kick her forward so she was in front of my leg. That once I got her forward to worry about the connection. Today he wanted me to forget that and focus on where her neck (not head) is. He noticed she had her head up and was bracing all the muscles on the underside of her neck. By doing this she was disengaging the rest of her body and making it hard to balance herself. Being the kind of horse she is that upset her and made her feel like she couldn't go forward. Once he made her reach down with her neck and engage the top muscles and her bring her back up, she would move forward and stop balking. If her head/neck went up, she sucked back, and thought about balking.
His thought was that a normal horse is affected less by this disconnect in the body and connection, but given the EPM she is more sensitive to it.
So he had me get back on and try it myself. It was SO hard not to kick her on when she thought about balking. But if I could get her on a long connection with her back up she was willing to work. And so we took that approach into the canter work and the left lead was way better than it has been! The last two canters I had in that direction were just as good as the right lead.

I have to say I am SO happy to have this trainer in our lives right now. NO ONE has ever really looked at the situation that way before and agreed it was a mental/physical issue which I have felt it always was. He is such an advocate for the horses. He also really liked Gracie and that she had three really good gaits with nice movement. Not bad for a TB/STB nursemare foal!

My hope is to ride with him when I can, and continue to work on getting stronger (both of us!) over the next month or two. I may try to take her to a schooling show or two during the summer once the canter is a bit better to go out at training level.
And just enjoy the nice weather, and maybe hack some in the big fields, and just have fun.

What to do with Gracie...

Overall she is doing quite well after her EPM treatment. The ataxia in the right hind is gone, and she is starting to get strength back to do work. She is moving to her new home one week from today and I think she will like it a lot.


The spooking and erratic behavior is not getting any better. I am really starting to think that it all links back to the EPM.
She was not spooky when I got her...nor was she after her first round with EPM.
It has only been in the last 6-8 months that she got spooky and stupid when riding. Probably around the time the EPM started to come back but it was too subtle to tell.
Yet all the other signs are gone and the spookiness remains.

She is jumpy in the cross ties, jumpy when you lead her around, jumpy on the lunge, jumpy when your mounting, and jumpy when you are riding. It never stops. And if you try to correct her or even try to stop her from looking at the "scary things" she gets even worse.
This goes WAY beyond a horse that is trying to get out of work.
She seems completely scared and afraid of whatever she has seen. Ride past a scary thing, she bolts, get her back, circle to go past it again with her head turned to the inside so she cant see...total panic attack.
On the ground she will freak and spin around you. Try doing ground work to get her to listen to you and she freaks. She has even started to rear on the ground cause she is so upset.
Her eyes don't show a pissy, annoyed horse, they show a scared horse.

Knowing what I know as a LVT, and from research I have been doing EPM horses have been found on necropsy to have brain lesions. They suspect that this could cause not only physical symptoms seen in horses but also mental/behavioral ones too.
My concern is that she has had brain lesions from the EPM and it is affecting whatever center of the brain that spookiness comes from.
If she is totally better in every other way except this does this mean she won't improve?? I am stuck with a horse that is irrational about spooking?
Someone else also mentioned that EPM can affect the optic nerve. So I wonder if her sight isn't restricted and she is being spooky due to not being able to see well!

I am to the point I am almost afraid to ride her. Just cause she is not herself and unpredictable. And when she spooks she either leaps sideways or bolts forward...both usually result in her throwing in a buck if she can. I am just lucky she has yet to get me off. Thing is I am okay with coming off, but she literally starts shaking at times if you push her and try to ride her through it. She feels like a ticking time bomb of fear.

I have a trainer coming out to work with her on Wednesday. She is a friend and a client of mine so I know she is a quiet and fair rider. If anyone can help she can. I have told her what is going on and she is fine with seeing how things go.
The vet is also coming out Monday for her coggins and teeth float. I am going to ask him what he thinks since he has been the one treating Gracie this time around.

But really I am wondering if this is not a sign that the EPM has left its marks on Gracie and it is not fair for her to keep her as a riding horse. It is frustrating that it might be a mental problem and not a physical one that takes her out to pasture for retirement. But I want to be fair to her and me both. I have put my riding on the back burner for years now because of her and the EPM.
I mean I can easily ride 1st/2nd level dressage, but I have been stuck at Intro level cause of her. I don't mind if it means one day I can get her to where I can do higher levels. But I don't want to beat my head into the wall anymore if it means in a year I decide to retire her anyways. And risk getting hurt in that time from this behavior.

Any thoughts or suggestions??? I am at a loss and too emotional about it to even think straight.
Well this week has been an odd one. I had two days off...like didn't do any work related things. Today I didn't see clients but I spend the day at the office folding laundry, balancing my books, and meeting some of the pilates client's at the studio. Borrowed a massage chair and when I am in the office will offer yoga and pilates peeps a free chair massage. Figured it is a good way to meet people and maybe get some new clients.

Overall the business is going well. I wish I was more busy, but these things take time. I have only been "open" for about a month and a half. So far I have seen a fair number of clients and everyone goes on about how they loved their sessions. Hoping for some word of mouth referrals. The horse work is steady and is somewhat growing even. My trips to TN keep me super busy for the days I am there...both in Knoxville and now Nashville.
And locally here in Atlanta I am steady. Getting a few of the bigger barns now and do a whole day at them seeing horses. Would like to find a few more like that to work out of.
In the next few weeks I am going to start working out of a physical therapy office about one day a week. I know I will learn TONS at this place seeing so many different cases and problems. Plus another opportunity to grow my practice!!

Found Gracie a new home, and she moves there March 2nd. I think overall she will be happier there than the barn she is currently at...even though I LOVE the current barn. The new barn will have a lot of pasture for her to be out on, and she will be turned out longer. Right now she is only going out for about five hours a day...I think it is driving her a bit batty. So will be interesting to see if she chills out some after being out more.
The new barn only has about 8 stalls but has a wash rack and tack lockers. There is a small dressage ring with mirrors, and you can also ride in the pastures. A lunge pen is there too, but I was told in the winter it is hard to use cause it likes to retain water.
Very quiet peaceful place...I think it will be good for us. And I can bring in my own trainers.

She has been kinda wild when I have ridden her or even lunged her. Granted it has been sporadic thanks to my schedule, but still no excuse to be a bitch. I am hoping to get a trainer friend over next week and have her help me with her. I want to make sure I am bringing her back from the EPM correctly. Actually the EPM seems totally gone, and she is a lot stronger on that right hind. She has NO problem galloping on the lunge line and bucking like a fiend. And when she settles she actually will stretch down into the side reins at the canter and looks mostly balanced. A huge step.

Long weekend coming up with clients at the office tomorrow and then a horse clinic I am a vendor at over the weekend. Fun times...

Feb. 9th, 2013

If money had a face I would punch it.

Geez. I don't complain much about lack of money. But right now it is just ridiculous.
Never had a lot of money to begin with but I always have been good at budgeting and making it work.
Right now?
I have a bleeding tumor of a house in TN that is sucking away a good chunk of money a month now that the renters are gone.
And I have to get it sold and can't rent it out again cause it is in the ex-husband's name and I am sure he would like to move on with his life and buy another house.
Right now I am having a mini meltdown cause I don't know what we are going to do!!!!

The problem comes from the fact that I just graduated from massage school and am starting up my practice. So my income is not that much. And what I do make a good part needs to go back into the business to get it going and/or buy things I need for it.
At the same time I have this house fall back into my responsibility (not that my renters were good and paid the rent on time ever or even all of the monthly rent either). I wish the two didn't happen at the same time. BAD TIMING.

But with our normal life bills, Gracie's care, the two house payments, and business expenses we are in the negatives.

And not for a lack of trying on my part. I haven't had a real day off since the holidays. I am either at the office working, doing paperwork/networking, off seeing horses, at school student teaching, or at the barn helping work off board. So there are NO days off in my schedule. It is sucking the life out of me...my fibromyalgia hates me.
But I have to do it right now. No other way.

I just don't know what to do to make this work. Sure eventually I will get more clients and make a profit at my job. But when?
And there is SO much to do to the house before it can go on the market. I am at the mercy of my dad as to when the major things happen...and he is taking his time on it. The rest..painting and such...is left to us. I am hoping to recruit friends to help with that.

Any thoughts out there??? I am so over my head right now with this I can't see the forest for the trees. I need some sage advice. Or a valium. I am not picky at this point. LOL

Barn Woes

Well today I got a bomdshell dropped on from the barn I keep Gracie at.
They are closing....
The plan was always to sell it but they were not going to till the trainer left to go elsewhere.
She decided that having no covered/indoor wasn't acceptable for her business (which I can see) so she is moving her
training horses to another barn.
So the owner's are taking this time to decide to put it on the market.

Thing that sucks is I JUST moved Gracie there in December and REALLY love the place.

I totally get where everyone involved is coming from. But it was such a nice place and the people were great. I thought
I had found the nice little dressage barn I had always wanted to be at long term.
Hopefully I can stay in touch with everyone I have met.

So now I need to go and find a new barn. The area my massage office is in is a pricey one so I am limited as to what I can
afford for Gracie. This place was great because they let me work on Sundays to lower the board. It was not something I wanted
to do long term but just till I could get my business going and sell that damn house in TN.

I have a few leads but the idea of looking just exhausts me. It isn't fun at all even though you would think it would be.
The place I talked to today was great...except you have to use their trainers and can't bring yours in. I have my two sponsors
who I want to work with especially as I rehab Gracie back from the EPM.
So that one is out.

Have a few others to call and hopefully go see next week after I am back from my TN trip. I leave tomorrow so no chance to go
this week or weekend.

Overall I am just frustrated. This is NOT what I wanted to do and I hate to stress Gracie more after just treating her for the EPM. This better now set her back any.

Really I hope I can find a low key place. I would actually like a dressage/eventing barn just so I can expose her to more than just dressage. If it had a covered I would be so excited but not necessary. Good pastures and lots of turnout. Trails to ride on would also be nice. And the ability to use whatever vet/farrier/trainer I wanted.
Not too much to ask for right???

Other than that she is actually doing really well after finishing her treatment. I am actually having to keep her from doing too much while on the lunge....she wants to buck, leap, and gallop. And undersaddle she feels more stable. Even have been doing some light trot work and she is much more balanced than she was before. Started hand walking her up/down hills this week. So crossing fingers we are on the path to recovery!

My business is going well. I wish one opened their doors and clients flooded in but it doesn't work that way. But talking to veteran's of the field they said the number of clients I am seeing a week is actually good for someone in their first month. At least I am breaking even money wise!
Heading to TN for four days to see horse clients. Got a full book so that makes me happy...even though I will be exhausted. Human massage is way less taxing than working on horses, but I do enjoy both.

Anyways...off to get things packed up. Leave after school and seeing clients tomorrow.

Gracie and EPM

Well I talked to the vet on Monday about Gracie's test results. We ran two different EPM panels to test her for all the six different variants out there. One test came back she had been exposed, but hard to say if she was actively infected or not. The second one came back with all three numbers way high....normal for all was 0-4...hers were anywhere from 16 to 64. Ouch.

Which means that I was sadly right and we are dealing with a relapse of her previous EPM (though there is a chance this is a whole new infection...but treatment is the same either way). So I am very glad I started her on the medication for it.
Also got her on a high dose of Vitamin E, and some other immune boosters.

If you look at her in the field one would have NO idea this is going on. But put her under saddle, ask for collection, and it becomes apparent. She is stiff, painful looking, and unbalanced. Her right hind falls out from under her at times at the walk and trot. The canter is a mess....unbalanced to both sides, but the left lead is four beated and horrible looking. She can barely even pick it up having to strike off with that right hind.
On the ground she has a tendency to prop her right hind under her, and has been a butt about picking up her left hind to pick her feet.
And if you take her right hind and cross it over the left she just leaves it there for a good minute or more...not normal.

I haven't looked at any of those things in about a week an a half to be honest. I am letting the treatment do its thing. She is finishing up her treatment today, and I think tomorrow I will do some ground work with her and start the rehab. Key is to keep her moving and help her strengthen that hindleg, and also promote nerve repair.

My plan is for her to let me know when she is ready for more work. I did this with her last time and it worked well. I walked until she said she wanted to trot, and then also waited for the canter. She knows how she feels and if she is uncomfortable she doesn't want to go forward. So I take her offerings of the gaits as a sign she is feeling good. I won't be surprised if I don't walk for a good month or more, and then walk/trot for a another month or two before we canter again. And I am in no rush. I just want her to be secure in what we are doing.

I also plan on doing bodywork on her. Fascial work is so important with EPM horses as I found out last time. After my first session before she felt SO much more comfortable and happy. My plan is to start that tomorrow and hope to do one session a week for the first month or so. Then slowly start to move it to every two weeks until we are at the once a month point again.

If I can be back to full w/t/c by the summer time I will be thrilled. If I don't make it till mid summer, or even fall I won't be surprised. If i show at all this year I will be thrilled, but my plans right now don't include that.

My only hope is that this is the last time we have to go down this road. I want her to stop having to deal with so much, and let her enjoy working again. Cause she really does like it most days. Sometimes a bit too much, but that is another discussion entirely.
I want us to be able to enjoy ourselves and do fun things like trail riding, hunter paces, and all that stuff we haven't really been able to do.
Taking it one day at a time now, but crossing my fingers for good things.

What to do?

So I took this plunge into massage therapy and just recently graduated, got my license, and opened up my own practice. And I can tell once it is in full swing my business will do great. But right now it is not at that point, and I need money to pay the bills.
So I keep thinking about going and finding a massage job working at most two days a week...just to have a steady income.
I swore I wouldn't work in a spa as that is not the type of work I like and/or plan to build my practice with.
It would be money coming in that I could count on. It would still leave me 3-4 days a week to see my own clients at my own location.
And once I grew my practice enough I could step away from the second job.

Right now I am doing assistant teaching at my school, but that ends in about a month. I probably would wait till that was over to do this, but I like to have a plan. Kinda OCD that way really.

With the way our finances our now I think it is needed. We have our normal bills, the GA house, my TN house, repairs to my TN house, and of course Gracie's care to pay each month. Vern has been carrying us while I was in school with his income but I think it is wearing on us both.

I just hate to get stuck in something, or not like it, or have it interfere with my own practice.
Why is money stuff never easy????