Friday the 13th. What month is this again? February I suppose.
My days run together. So much so that I generally yell at my daughter Friday nights to get her butt in bed because she better not be tardy to school in the morning. She steadfastly ignores me, which gets my goat, of course. By the time I stalk into her room to really yell at her, she simply turns to me and states: Mom! It's frickin Friday!
This day I will never forget.
While Cindirelli was coming along nicely as far as weight gain, we had some rather bizarre soundness issues to deal with. Soundness in the sense that they were gait related, but not actual lameness issues.
It all started with taking the girl to the track back when, in order to jog. She lost her mind completely. She got so worked up with excitement, it took three people to give a leg up to the rider, a lip chain, another shank and an average of 20 minutes to get her legged up, out to the track and then off the shank.
Then, we would all line up along the rail to watch the circus performance. Cindirelli could do everything from bucking, to trying to run off, getting rid off the rider, side passing at ALL gaits, and believe it or not, galloping backwards. Yup, you read that right.
She had never been trained on the track. She only ever saw the track when it was either time for an official work, or a race. To her, going up to the track meant excitement! Racing! Running as fast as you can!
Now imagine getting that out of her.
To begin with, she was major ouchy on her LF hoof. Her ankle on the RF is fused and set. This means it is less flexible in how the fetlock can move below when weight is put on that leg.
Now, couple these two things and what you are looking at is a horse who, while jogging, looks like a pacer.
In harness racing, when horses are pacing to warm up, they sort of tilt side to side.
Well, that's what Cindirelli would do.
She never had any swelling or heat in any of her joints or tendons, so she isn't straining to do the work or in pain.
Another problem she has had that's just been such a major mystery is the fact that when you are watching her out there, you could literally draw a line through her middle, cutting her in half, separating the two parts and realize that the front of this horse does not move the same way the back end does. She was like two separate entities put together, both doing their own thing.
While it felt like she was perhaps cross-firing, in reality she wasn't. She just wasn't moving in tandem.
99% of the time, she was holding her head way up there, sometimes cocked sideways, most times fighting the bit to the point that you'd wonder if she knew there was anything else going on around her AT ALL.
There were so many separate weird things going on with her that couldn't be explained by previous injuries (apart from the fused ankle and the broken down LF hoof). Some days, Cowboy would come back and tell me:
"She's a cripple! She can't move right! I can't put my finger on it exactly but it's got to be that [rf] leg."
I was convinced that wasn't the case. All I ever saw with that front end issue was the hoof. We argued countless times. We had screaming matches about this.
"It's her friggin broken knee and ankle, it's gotta be!"
"No, I am telling you, it's her opposite hoof!"
"Bullshit, you can't tell me that hoof is causing all that, she's a cripple!"
"Don't you dare ever say that in front of her again where she can hear you! And it's not her knee or her ankle, it's her hoof!"
He's threatened to not take her to the track. I've threatened to fire him and put someone else on my horses.
When Stephanie made some rather radical changes to Cindirelli's LF hoof, I was really looking forward to seeing the results the next day at the track.
Cowboy almost had an aneurysm when I told him she is going to the track on that particularly nasty day- sloppy surface and uneven.
"You don't want to take HER out there today."
"Oh, yes I do, I REALLY want to take her out there today. I REALLY REALLY want to take her out there today. And if you don't want to, I'll find someone else who will."
So off to the track she went.
Amazingly enough, all Cowboy could say when he came back with her was:
"I'll be damned. Guess you were right. Musta been the hoof."
I'm always right about the hooves. Period. I don't know why people don't realize that. Tsk.
So we progressed into regular training. Although the hoof issues had improved, a problem now was that she was extremely uneven in the front. Her RF hoof is upright and clubby. Her LF hoof was underslung, long in the toe and pretty much broken down to the point that it was a good half inch shorter in height than the RF. Uneven.
The only way to fix that without waiting another 6 months to a year to restore that hoof, was to put shoes on her.
Now I have a blacksmith who comes out to the training center, who is very good at what he does. I have never seen him cause a problem on a horse by doing a bad shoeing job.
I called him up and explained what I thought she needed- padding or an elevated wedge shoe on the LF, a regular one of the RF.
It took us almost 2 hours to get that shoeing job right on her but he did it. I have to say I was very impressed with the fact that he actually made a point of trimming and measuring both feet before he ever attempted to put anything on her shoe-wise.
So Cindirelli now has brand-new shoes and it has made another big difference in her movement.
But that rear end still had a mind of its own. Her head was still up on the 14th floor, cocking sideways, jerking at the bit, mouth wide open, teeth bared.
I was talking to a friend of mine a few weeks ago who is a trainer down in the southwest and who gets nothing but EPM horses, treats them, restores them back to health and wins races with them. According to Lynn, EPM is not just the regular weird stuff. She is convinced, and has evidence in her own barn, of horses that have bizarre things wrong with them, that nothing else seems to explain just all by itself. Separately, those symptoms could be explained away by different ailments. Not altogether.
Seeing how I was not convinced that EPM was actually a factor and I certainly was not going to talk dear owner into spending upwards of $800 on a drug like Marquis, that may or may not show us results, I went on the internet and starting looking for alternative treatments for EPM.
I ran across a post a woman had put up on a message board where she, through her own research, had come up with a mixture of herbs that seemed to have worked absolute wonders on her gelding who had been diagnosed with EPM and who now was completely recovered.
I went to the website of the company who sells the herbs. Prices weren't outrageous but I was operating within a budget- my own: The deal I made with her owner was that I would like to try some herbs. If they do not work, I will not bill her for them.
If they do work, I'll add them on a later bill.
To begin with, the list of herbs this woman had made her concoction out of was lengthy. The price would have been around $200. Not happening.
Since this wonderful website had all the herbs listed with their own data sheets - pretty impressively put together, along with research citations- I went on a quest to find the one herb on that list that I thought would give me the fastest and surest results, if in fact, Cindirelli had EPM.
Right before the bad temperature drop and snow hit us, I put her on a wean-on dose of the herb, in her nightly feed. After investigating the fragrant new aroma, she went right to work and ate it all up.
When the weather hit us, I had Cindi up to a regular dose of the herb nightly. We were stuck without any kind of training for 3 days. On the 4th day, I was able to shedrow the horses (ride them at a jog in the shedrow).
It was immediately apparent that there was a change in Cindirelli's jog. It had improved.
Not only that, but she was calmer. She wouldn't just try to run out of her stall like it was a starting gate when you went to take her out. She wouldn't just go completely kooky in the shedrow at a hand walk where not even a lip chain made it possible to hold her.
She jogged like.... a normal horse. She was happy, alert, in a good mood but not nutty. Her brain seemed to be functioning in a more focused, intended kind of manner.
After 2 days of this, she popped up with that huge haematoma. In order to be on ANY other drugs and for those drugs to be able to metabolize in the liver and then go to work, she had to be off the herb. This particular herb (by the name of Fedegoso) is also a potent detox agent.
Off the herb, on the antibiotic.
A week passed. She deteriorated. Her behavior declined a bit but not completely back to the fruitcake she so regularly was before. Her jog declined, not by very much but more importantly, her rear end was still doing it's weird cross-firing but not cross-firing.
At this point, having seen that there was an obvious effect from the herb, I reported back to Lynn my findings and the quick timeframe in which they showed up.
That night, I went online and ordered another 2 herbs, one a very potent anti-protozoal, anti-parasitic, anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-microbial.
The haematoma was still there but I felt given time it would absorb anyhow, whether she was on antiobiotics or not. I took her off the antibiotics and put her on all three herbs.
This was 2 days ago.
Two days ago, the horse I sent to the track still had two separate parts to it- two distinct entities front and rear. Her head, even with an elevator bit was up in the sky, her neck wasn't cocked funny any longer but she was fighting the bit every step of the way, trying to still run off, doing her version of cross-firing.
Yesterday, my friend Gilberto got on her because Cowboy had to pick up his daughter.
I gave Gilberto a brief recap of her history as it pertained to her training. Told him that I also thought that she may dislike certain things the way Cowboy does them. I told him how Cowboy told me just a few weeks ago that if I entered her for a race, the way she was going, her rider would scratch her from the gates or the post parade.
Gave him a leg up. No elevator bit, just a regular snaffle, which I had used on her in the past, along with a million other bits I've tried.
Cindirelli went out to the track calmly. She jogged in a relaxed manner, with just the right amount of "go".
Gilberto has very quiet hands. He's a very quiet rider. He can just sit up there on a horse and make what he does look so unbelievably effortless.
He went to gallop her and although there was just a tiny bit of complaining, she went rather well. Better than before.
When he came back with her, he told me that he didn't think she was all that bad and that whatever it was that was going on "back there"- she seems to sort of work out of.
Don, who maintains our track and has his horses next to mine, came back over to the shedrow and said he saw her out there and she looked better than she had ever looked out there.
I agreed but thought, well, am I firing Cowboy off this horse?
Some riders get along with certain horses, others don't. Cowboy is tall and long-legged. While he is an excellent exercise rider with a ton of experience, he sits very far back in the saddle and some horses have problems with this.
When I left the barn last night, I wasn't sure what I was going to do about the rider situation today.
Turns out, nothing was the best decision I could have made.
Cindirelli was in a super mood today. For the first time, she ate every little bit of hay I gave her last night and this morning. There was no feed left in her tub (some mornings, she would leave a handful, others a little more).
I tossed her a jolly ball when she was in the swing stall while I cleaned hers. She went to town with it. The ball came flying out of the stall on several occasions. She had a soccer match in there.
Got her ready for the track and while tied to the wall, she kicked the stall door repeatedly, HARD, trying to make a point that she had no patience for this and wanted to go to the track.
Legged Cowboy up on her, with just the same snaffle.
She jigged on her way up out of the barn to the track. She calmly walked onto the track. She started jogging so nicely, my jaw dropped and hit the grass I was standing on.
I had told Cowboy to sort of let her do her thing. If she wanted her head more, give it to her. If she wanted to gallop faster, let her. Just don't two minute lick her or get her to a work speed.
What happened out there next hit me with such force, right in the gut, I had tears in my eyes.
This girl galloped with her head and neck collected. She never once fought the bit. She went for a mile and a half and never once tried to run away. She went out there and the horse I sent out of the barn was exchanged for an entirely different horse.
My mouth was literally open from the time she started until she came back.
When Cowboy rode her back into the barn and saw me, he turned very serious.
"Come on, it's not that bad, is it?"
I was crying. I couldn't help it. I was so touched by what I had just witnessed out there.
This wonderful, wonderful filly was back to being herself.
"She damned sure would not have gotten scratched today", was all he said as he took her tack away.
Before he left, while I was walking Ms. Calmness herself around the shedrow, he stuck his head around the corner:
"She's not even doing that funny cross-firing but not cross-firing thing.
Whatever you are giving her, it's working miracles."
And gone he was.
Cindirelli and I had a good talk about how proud I was of her and what an amazing girl she is. Each time I looked over at her and she would rub against me, or take a tiny corner of my shirt in her mouth to tug on, or put her head on my shoulder, bump me here or there, I just wanted to cry.
Someone asked me a week or so ago in one of those 30-questions-about-you emails when the last time was I cried.
Hell, I couldn't honestly remember. A few months ago watching a movie, probably. Honestly, not sure. I just don't generally cry. Period.
I'm much too busy working, enjoying my life, having good days than to get myself worked up in anything to such an extent that I will cry about it.
Apparently, there are still things that can make me cry at the drop of a hat.
Like this filly and the road she took coming here, her journey to recovery and the difference in the horse she was even just a few weeks ago, with the complete..... I don't know what to call it!.... change she has gone through just in the last few days and is going to continue going through.
Her real name is Runnin Dirty.
Her daddy is Capote.
Her dam is Fundraising by Black Tie Affair (IRE).
She stands right at 17 hands.
She weighs around 1100 lbs.
She has no patience.
She has rotten habits.
She misbehaves more often than she behaves.
She'll walk right over you to get to where she wants to go.
And she brought me to my knees today just by showing me the trust she placed in me, the faith I had in her in return, my misgivings of listening to conventional vets (save one) and the road we took together so far- all those things, they were meant, and somehow, she knew it.
Enough to make a grown (wo)man cry.