False Start

I chose the first Saturday of the year as the day I would formally bring Florence and Breeze back into work after their extended winter lay off. In prepraation for this I had arranged for Amy to come and clip Florence on the 3rd. Only Florence, as I’m still not sure how much work Breeze is going to be doing, and this is where we hit our first snag. Poor Amy was mortified, but her clippers jus wouldn’t go anywhere near Florences thick, yak like shaggy coat!She did get one shoulder and half her chest off, then the clippers threw up their hands in defete! Florence is now rocking that ‘Game of Thrones’ look, you know, the one where the women walk around with one boob hanging out! These things can’t be helped, and it’s was definately not the end of the world, so we agreed to try again when the clipper blades had been off for sharpening. After all, Flo was only going to be doing some in hand work for the next couple of weeks, so she shouldn’t get too hot and swety, should she?

Saturday dawned full of promise, and with a plan in my head for both horses, Hal and I set off to enjoy a bit of long overdue horsey fun.

Oh dear!

The best laid plans of mice, men, and short , fat, blind, horse owners…

Florence has always, as long as I’ve had her, had issues with her wind. She coughs and wheezes at the slightest provocation, and really seems to be allergic to everything. I had hoped we had a handle on most of her triggers now though. I’ve never seen anything quite as bad as ‘florences heaving laboured breath on Saturday morning though! As I waited for the vet to arrive, am not ashamed to admit that the thought crossed my mind that Florence might actually be dying! David, the vet, got to me really quickly, and I think even he was a bit taken aback by how much Flo was struggling to breathe. Honestly, I’ve never seen a heave like it. Itmust have been very painful too, because, when I gently laid my hand on her side, she went to kick me. However, Flo wasn’t running a temperature, so David was reasonably confident this was not anything infecteous. Well thank goodness for that, afteral, both Tony, the farrier, and Amy and her dodgey clippers, had been all over Florence only a few days earlier, so if it was catching, they could have been spreading it like the plague.Not only that but, Breeze would have got it too.

David took bloods, and administered a plethora of drugs, including, horror of horrors, steroids. He also left me with 4 different meds to give her, comprising of antibiotics, bronchodilators, expectorants, and, yes your’ve guessed it, more steriods. So why am I so fixated on the steroids? Well, as regular readers will know, Florence is and elderly lady now, is already over weight and an extremely good doer, and has PPID, all things which predispose her to getting lminitis. Unfortunately, one of the known potential side effects of steroids is a higher risk of contracting laminitis! She’s doomed! Luckily I have an excellent relationship with my vets, and feel very comfortable when it comes to voicing my concerns, so I was able to have an honest chat with David about the risks and advantages of giving Flo steroids. His opinion was that it was a Catch 22 situation, yes, there was a real risk of Flo getting Laminitis, but if we didn’t give her the steroids she may not fully recover, or at least take longer . He assured me that he had rarely had a patient that did get Laminitis while taking the specific drug he was prescribing, and that he was giving her the very lowest dose possible for a horse of her weight, but that if I thought she was even thinking of getting it, I should immediately stop them. Thankfully, by the time Daivid left, Florene was already responding to the injections he’d given her, and was already breahing more easily. I was really impressed when he phoned me that evening, remember this was a Saturday, with her blood test results! Everything looked perfectly normal. This must have been a massive allergic reaction to something.

I had the girls both booked in to have a dental 2 Wednesdays after this, so it was agreed that Florence would be reassessed then, unless of course I had called them back beforehand, and of course, Flo was on R&R for the time being. Thankfully Florence is your typical greedy cob when it comes to food, and has no concept of turning her nose up at anything, so getting 4 different meds down her was no problem. However, the antibiotics were really difficult to handle. They came in the form of a mousse type solution which had to be accurately measured out with a syrringe. Well, thre was no way I could do that myself, as I couldn’t see the markings on the syrringe. Mind you, Hal found it hard enough, the stuff was really thick and gloopy and got everywhere, except inside the syrringe of course. It smelt delicious though, a bit like Butterscotch Angel Delight.

Except for one morning when I thought Florence might be on the verge of colicking, until she had the biggest, stinkingest poo I’ve ever witnessed, there were no nasty side effects from the medication. In fact, some behaviours, which I thought were just Flo quirks , even went away, and she appeared to be brething perfectly normally within a few hours of starting the regime.

On Wednesday last, Justine came out to do the dentals and assess Florence. She was very pleased with Flo, although she could hear what she called a slight Plural Rasping, so she said there may still be some inflammation. At this point, we hadn’t quite finished the course of steroids, although everything else had gone. Justine suggested that I finish the steroids, give Florence a 24 hour break, and then put her on a short course of Bute to try to resolve any residual inflammation. Apparently you need to leave a gap because you can’t give steroids and non-steroidals at the same time. It’s a bit like mixing matter and antimatter I think. Justine also said I could start very gently bringing Flo back into work.

While Justine was doing Breezes teeth I asked her to give her a quick check over. Breeze is very stiff, especially through her off side hock, and although supposedly the same age as Florence, does come over as being a lot older. Funnily enough, Justine herself asked how old we thought Breeze was because her teeth appear to have stopped errupting, and are actually quite worn. She also pronounced Breeze as lame, rather than just stiff. We discussed varous options, and so Breeze is now on perminant Bute. Or at least that’s the idea, Breeze, unlike her bigger friend, is a little more discerning where dining is concerned, we are now going through a period of her behaving like we are trying to poison her!

I have given them both a few extra days off, just to let the new medication regimes set in, but they have both done one short session of in hand work in the school now. Florence was an angel, and apart from trying to scoff the grass that is growing aroung the edge of the school, you wouldn’t know it’s been so long since she did anything. Breeze on the other hand was on extremely high alert. She spooked violent and tried to tank off when a pony, which was on the lane on the other side of the valley, and so a long way away spooked and tanked off itself. Poor Hal tried to hold onto her, and ended up with a massive rope burn. She also lay down in the school to scrath her legs! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry sometimes.

All of this has given me pause. I adore Florence, and Breeze, for all her foibles is a sweetheart, but they are neither of them getting any younger. Is Flo really going to be up to doing all the things I hope to do over the next few years? For now we are enjoying having 2 lovely horses who are a delight to handle and look after, and who we both trust completely. Should I start formulating a long term plan though? For now I am hoping it doesn’t snow so I can get on with the fitness plan I have for them both.

Seasons Greetings

Regular readers will know that for Hal and I 2018 has been a truly horrible year. I had so many hopes and plans as we waved a fond farewell to 2017, but right from the get go it became clear that things weren’t going to go our way.

Viruses, coughing horses, lameness. Extreme wet weather, storm force wind, snow! losing Leonie, Stella, Hal’s Dad, my Mum. Nearly losing Ripley. Having a very sick Tabitha. Falling off the tandem and damaging the ligaments in my knee. Having to replace a leaking oil tank, defunct fridge, broken dishwasher. Finding out Breeze is going blind.Yes, it does seem to have been a year of lurching chaotically from one crisis to another. No wonder we both feel so wiped out!

To be fair there have been some good bits along the way. Our Niece Sarah’s wedding, veing given an award by the Riding Club. Increasing support for this Blog, support for Blind Riders UK, my business getting stronger. Having lessons on Florence. Doing more talks for Guide Dogs. Doing some PR for Retina Implant.

Personally though, New Year’s Day cannot come quick enough for me. New beginnings, A fresh start, A blank sheet. I have of course got lots of hopes and aspirations for 2019. Poor Florence isn’t going to know what hit her! Neither is Hal for that matter. In the meantime though thank you very much for supporting this blog. I hope you have an absolutely marvellous Christmas and a happy horsey New Year

Tummy Ache

You know that feeling? The one when you have been out for the most amazing meal, eaten far too much, had a couple glasses of wine. You feel fat, full and contents, and go to bed feeling good about the world. Then, about an hour after you’ve gone to bed, your digestive system catches up on the evenings events, and you spend the next 30 minutes locked in the bathroom while your body goes through a fully automated emmergency evacuation procedure. Well, that was me on Wednesday night. So, when my alarm went off on Thorsday morning, I resolved to have half an hours lie I n. Ripley had other ideas though. He must have been listening for the alarm, because, no sooner had I turned it off and snuggled down, , than he started a song and dance act, whining and marching about on the laminate, right outside the bedroom door. I’m so glad he did!

So, having been forced from my slumbers by an elderly Labrador, I set about my usual routine, feed cats, spend and feed dogs, check and feed horses, tea and wake Hal. Usually when I arrive on the yard there are 4 hungry heads hanging over doors, Leonie is kicking the door, and Florence is wickering and snickering away, telling me all about it. On Thursday though something was a miss. It was a bit too quiet. Leo was certainly giving her door the usual abuse, but there was no commentary coming from the end stable. Asleep perhaps? Walking up the yard, saying good morning, and gibing everyone a rub in that special place on the forehead, , I was disturbed when Florence was still lingering at the back of her box when I got to her door. Had Sapphire kicked the partition down in the night, trapping Flo at the back? Cautiously I stepped into the stable to check. No, the partition was fine. Which wasn’t the case for Floremce. Stood stock still, sweating heavily, and panting. Please don’t let this be what I think it is! Giving everyone their breakfast haynet , my fears were confirmed when Florence’s only reaction was to let out a quiet groan.


Head collar on, walking a remarkably compliant Flo up and the yard. Phone emmergency vet. Phone, and wake, Hal. Get called by vet. Keep walking. Please don’t try to roll. Hal comes out, opens gate for vet, and takes over walking. Vet arrives a remarkable 30 minutes after my first phone call.

Temperature fine. Heart and respiratory rate elevated. Gut silent. Rectal examination normal.

There’s nothing for it, she has to be flushed!

The problem was that Flo had to be sedated, but the vet couldn’t find a vein. However, once this was sorted, and a sedative and anti spasmodic administered, the procedure could commence. A tube was passed up Florence’s nose and down into her stomach. The vet having to be very careful to time this with swallowing so as not to pass the tube into her lungs! Then, some plain warm water was gradually poured I’m. After a while some electrolyte was added to the water, and the procedure repeated. The tube having been removed, , we were told to keep Flo in, with no hay, until she did a poo. Then she could have a small hay net. We arranged to check in with the vet again at about 3.30, it still wasn’t 9.00 when the vet left us.

We turned Leomie and Breeze out, but left Nurse Sapphire in to keep Florence company., and retired to the house for breakfast.
Florence was very obviously feeling better, and wasn’t vest pleased about being confined to barracks with no food. Unfortunately, she appeared to have no intention of having a poo! By 3.30 Flo was getting increasingly cross, but still hadn’t delivered the goods. The vet suggested letting her graze for an hour to hopefully stimulate the gut. So Flo and Sapphire spent a happy hour on the lawn. Worryingly though, still no poo by 4.30. So the vet came back and flushed her again!!

This time, as the tube was removed Floremce sneezed and farted violently 3 times. That had to be a good sign didn’t it?! The vet suggested a small haynet might stimulate the gut. However, if nothing had happened by 8.00 to let her know. She also left me with a tub of probiotic which I was to start feeding Flo immediately.

Thankfully, when I went to check Flo just before 8 I found her standing over a fresh pile as if it were a new born foal! What a relief! A quick text exchange with the vet, and I was able to leave Florence tucking into a small feed.

I can’t tell you how glad I am that Ripley wouldn’t let me go back to sleep. I dread to think what might have happened if I hadn’t gone down to the yard when I did. I’m delighted to say that Florence is as right as rain again now.

That was really scarey. I don’t want to go through that again please.