Friday, 31 August 2012

Rest in Peace, sweet gentle Molly

My beautiful Molly was PTS this afternoon.  It was as peaceful as could be, she slipped away in her bed with her head resting on my lap.

Thanks to our lovely Vet, Dave Canty, for helping us give her such a gentle end.

Stolen From the LSH

I love my LSH, but it's so irritating when he (a non-blogger) writes better than me.  One of the best posts on The Wanderly Wagons was co-written by him - it made me laugh!  

This was his response to an email which innocently asked how "How are your plans for a Year in Provence coming along ?" 

Imagine if you will Usain Bolt crossed with a blue bottle, and it will give you some idea of the manic, rapid but quasi random activity over the last month or so.  Work is very busy at the moment, exacerbated by the fact that we are down a couple of staff for the next couple of months. So long hours are the order of the day. Fortunately I have been able to defer almost all travel. On top of this renting the house out not only implies cleaning out nigh on 20 years of accumulated living, but redecorating and reflooring some of the rooms. Needless to say that most unwanted of Irishmen, Murphy, raised his ugly head and things started to go wrong with significant water leaks etc etc. They are all fixed now and we are on the home stretch to finishing up that project.

Meanwhile... Martine has been trying to re-home various animals, with great success I might add. Murphy then decides its time to send us another stray dog. He is a gorgeous G. Shepard/Doberman cross puppy of about 6 months or so. The dog decided he was not leaving and became Martine's stalker. So we have fostered him until we can find a home, as he is definitely not coming to France. Not content with that Murphy then sent us another stray. I have to say I just chased that one out of the yard and didn't mention it to Herself.

Meanwhile... various family members needed medical attention. My poor mom had a small growth on her temple, by the time all the medical examinations and preparations were done it became a large growth and despite her 89 years it had to be removed. She has made a stunning recovery, didn't as much as loose a stride. ED then coughed her way into hospital, that is to say she coughed so hard she fractured a rib. Thankfully those two are now alright. Unfortunately things have not worked out so well for my Brother in Law, who has been diagnosed with Cancer and at this point there is no viable medical course of action. My sister is normally Mom's primary care giver, while Mom is in a home, so my brother and I have had to take up the baton there, leading to three-hour round-trips a couple of days a week. 

Meanwhile... ED has moved to London. Emigrated is the right word I suppose, but it does not seem far or different enough to call it that. I am delighted for her and she is having fun with it at the moment. She has a job so there are no real worries.

Meanwhile... Martine ran a very successful national dressage youth talent finder competition. The finalists from four regional qualifiers met in Wicklow this month. Martine works closely with a buddy Naomi. Together they have revitalised Dressage in the area.

Meanwhile... Martine took part in the regional dressage finals and qualified for the National finals. Due to our trip to France she will not be able to participate in the finals however.

Meanwhile... well it has been very hectic but we have nothing to complain about really, we are in good health and good form and  all is full steam ahead for France. don't fancy a puppy do you ? :-)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

From the Cradle to Ann Summers and everything in between

Wind Chimes and Fairies
The ED left for London while I was at the Dublin Horse Show.  She's done a great job clearing out her bedroom, and I'd seen it in a fairly empty state before I went away, so I was not at all prepared for the lump that rose in my throat when I went in to clear it out for painting.

There are still a few bits of her left - wind chimes, a fairy mobile, her name painted in an Oriental style - enough to tug at the heart strings, but I pushed those feelings down deep and soon forgot about them while we painted.

The YD works and lives in town now, but she has been home as often as she can, chipping away at clearing her room.  Progress has been slow and the deadline is looming, so today I went in, prepared to blitz the final bits and pieces.

It was much, much harder than I expected.  So many memories, so much stuff charting her progress from two to twenty two.

The tasseled blanket, that used to be in the cot, now draped over the cushions in her little sitting area.

Dr George Clooney Bear, who arrived on the scene complete with surgical mask and stethoscope when she was fighting a horrible flu.
Dr George Clooney Bear and the tasseled blanket

A sticker proudly proclaiming "I got my ears pierced at Claire's Accessories."

A Hello Kitty tag.

Her wall of photos, full of reminders of great days out, Pony Club, show-jumping, dressage and more.
Good King Rollo, Pepper, Copper, Diego, Tula, Ballyclough Lady and Aero, Aero, Aero
Rosettes and more rosettes - these are just a few of the special ones!

A "Science is Fun" name tag from the Young Scientist fair she attended aged sixteen.

A Boots Advantage card.

An empty Ann Summers box.

An empty Ann Summers box?

No, scratch that, I don't want to know!

Job done, room sorted and ready for inspection.  Eyes dried now.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Are we Winning?

In five weeks time, we'll be on the ferry as it sails out of Cork Harbour.  It's a race against time to get the house sorted out and presentable for rental before we leave.  Our plan is to have it ready for Estate Agent photos at the end of this week, and ready for viewings the week after.

We threw ourselves at it with gusto this weekend - on Saturday, the YD came home and removed a few more bags of "stuff", and we painted the ED's bedroom.  We've now completely painted five rooms, with three left - two large, one small - but we're facing the possibility that we may have to hire someone to finish it off.

Sunday's project was Reclaim the Lounge, which has been crammed full with the ED's possessions since she moved home.
There's a three piece suite in there somewhere
Before we could start on that, though, we had to make space available in the office, which is intended to be our storeroom while we're away.

Once I finished doing the horses, dogs and chickens, I joined the LSH in filling Jeepy up with junk from the office to transport to the skip.  Being the mature fifty-somethings that we are, when we came across the whirly chair on wheels whose seat had worn thin, we just threw it straight in the skip.  Of course.  Haha.

After that little diversion, we got back to work.  The Office was de-cluttered.  Jeepy was emptied into the skip.  Jeepy was filled up again.  Galway Bear and Foxy looked on.
Dylan took advantage of the open door and settled himself in front of the hearth.
I want to be an indoor dog!
Coats were hung in the newly painted back kitchen, boxes were filled, Christmas decorations were finally taken down!!!
And eventually, the three piece suite emerged and the floor was visible.
To end the weekend, I itemised all of the horse gear I want to sell and posted it on DoneDeal.  I also shared the link on my Facebook page, and five hours later, I've sold loads of stuff!

Yes, we're winning!
Dylan made me do it, Mum!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Butter Wouldn't Melt

Anyone who has followed me from the Wanderly Wagons blog will know that my dog Cookie is somewhat special.  Hyperactive, fixated on cats, a thief and a rogue, with no undestanding of "recall" whatsoever, so that on the occasions when she escapes, we have to resort to all sorts of measures to catch her again.

The LSH was telling a dog-breeding work colleague some of her escapades recently, and he asked what her breeding was.  On hearing that we think she's a Jack Russell/Whippet cross, he laughed until he almost cried.... "Why would anyone cross the most tenacious breed with the most hyperactive breed?" he asked.  "That would be just like having a Jack Russell on speed!" and in fact, that's exactly how I described Cookie nearly a year ago in this post.

Still, we love her, she's ours for the long haul.  We think her life will be brief but intense, and will probably end as the result of a successful escape attempt or from eating something she shouldn't.

Like butter, for instance.

When we first took her in, we had no idea just how naughty she could be, until I came into the kitchen one day and found her standing on the table helping herself to breakfast leftovers.  We agreed that she could not be trusted, so we should always make sure not to leave food out where she could reach it.  Unfortunately, we're not the world's tidiest people, so the inevitable happened - we both left the room "just for a moment" one evening and came back to find Cookie licking the last traces off a wrapper which only moments before had been enfolding an almost untouched pound of butter.

Oh dear, we said.  She burped gently while we stood looking at her.

This won't be pretty, we agreed.

How long will it take to work its way through, we wondered.  Half an hour? An hour?  We compromised on forty minutes, the LSH set the timer on his phone, and we sat down to watch something on TV, Cookie and Cinnamon curled up in their beds nearby.

At thirty-eight minutes, Cookie sat up, licking her lips and looking anxious.  We leapt to our feet, but too late - with a yawn and a cough, a large quantity of melted butter appeared in her bed.  By the time the leash was clipped to her collar and she had reached the patio door, ten feet away, the floor (tiled, thankfully) was decorated with pools of melted butter.

The LSH walked her around the garden for ten minutes, but it was too late, the full pound of butter had already been distributed between her bed and the patio door.

So next time, we'll set the timer for thirty-five minutes, we agreed ruefully as we washed the floor.  Haha, of course there won't be a next time...

A couple of months later, I was home alone.  I'd had my breakfast, but hadn't cleared off the table yet, when the postman knocked at the back door.  I went out, signed for a package and came back, just as Cookie finished licking out the butter dish, which only moments before had held about three quarters of a pound of butter.  At least she knew she'd been naughty this time, she leaped from the table, looking guilty, and scuttled furtively back to her bed.

Ok, I thought, I'll give it half an hour and take her out then.

Thirty minutes later, I clipped her leash on and off we went.  I'll just keep walking 'til she throws up, I thought.  Shouldn't be long, ten minutes at most.

Two miles later, I stopped and looked down at her.  Ears pricked, tail wagging, tongue hanging out, she looked back at me.  You're not going to puke, are you, I said.

We turned around and headed homewards.  As we turned left to rejoin the road which leads to our house, I glanced to the right and saw a stranger walking towards us, about 30 yards away.  We would both be heading in the same direction.  Just as I thought "Well I hope she doesn't puke in front of this guy" there was a cough and a choking noise from beside my feet, and Cookie spat out a large quantity of melted butter and Royal Canin Mini Mature kibble.


Well, maybe that's all she'll do, I thought.

Nope.  For the next ten minutes, we'd walk a bit, stop, Cookie would spray the road and we'd continue.

The stranger got closer and closer, but didn't actually catch up with us.  What was he thinking of us, as we walked along, mere yards in front of him, decorating the country road with partially digested kibble floating in pools of greasy, yellow bile.

Finally, as Cookie barfed yet again, this time in front of our neighbours' house, he caught up with us.

Hello, I said, fixing a pleasant smile on my face and trying to act as if there was nothing unusual about strolling along with a dog which was shooting melted butter out the front end.

He smiled grimly and headed for my neighbours' gate.  Hell!!! This was my neighbours' son, visiting from the US!

"Oh, you must be P!" I exclaimed "I'm really sorry about the dog, she's just eaten a full pound of butter!"

In fairness to him, he laughed then.  It was only much later, when I was speaking to his mother, that I learned he's one of those people who can't bear the sight or smell of vomit, and had been thoroughly sickened by the trail of puke he'd had to follow home.

Sorry, P!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Diary of a Chronic Abscess

is this finally The End?

While I was in Dublin, the LSH kept going with hot-tubbing and poulticing Aero's foot (he's a saint, really, it's not like he's not busy with work).

There was plenty of gunk coming from the spot at the back of the heel initially, but then it slowed down.  He wasn't very happy with it, and described it to me over the phone.  There was a swollen area at the back of the pastern, just above the spot, and the spot itself had glossed over and was looking red and shiny, like (sorry for grossness) a big spot, ready to burst.

I rang Dave-the-Vet and filled him in on the story so far.  He was reluctant to diagnose over the phone, of course, but he was concerned that having gone on so long, there could be some infection in the bone, or at the very least, the infection could have underrun the sole.  He offered to call up, but I knew the LSH was crazy busy with work, so I said we'd wait until Monday.  This abscess has gone on so long, another couple of days wasn't going to make a difference.  We decided to cut the PHW wraps off, though, and focus our poulticing on the place where the chunk of hoof wall had broken off as well as the spot on the heel.

When I got back from Dublin, I was keen to see how it all looked.  Much the same, is all I can say, although there was indeed a soft swelling just above the heel.  There wasn't anything being drawn out on the poultice through the broken hoof wall, and there was a small amount of mostly serous goop coming out at the back of the heel.  On Monday morning, I took the poultice off and trotted Aero up.  Still lame, but not hopping lame.  I left his hoof uncovered and waited for Dave to arrive.

He watched Aero trot up a couple of times, confirmed the lameness and then set to work with hoof testers.  After some squeezing, he eventually pinpointed a small area of response, on the sole just inside where the hoof wall was broken off.  He started excavating, very conservatively, I have to say, but after trying two different approaches - first through the sole and then through the side where the chunk is missing - he still hadn't "struck oil."

His feeling was that we were probably at the end of it, and our poulticing efforts had been successful.  However, when I pointed out that we were leaving for France in less than six weeks, he suggested that I take Aero over to the clinic for Xrays, which would show if there was a generalised area of infection in the foot, and more importantly, if the pedal bone was infected.

I'd either end up with peace of mind, or we'd have six weeks to start a treatment and see it through - surgery and curetting of the bone being the worst possibility, in my mind anyway, until I made the stupid mistake of asking is the bone infection ever so bad that they have to euthanase the patient.  Crap.  What a stupid thing to ask.

So next morning, I boxed Aero over to the clinic.  I confess that the thought crossed my mind that if things were really bad, this might be the last time I took him anywhere, but I quickly dismissed it and tried to stay positive.

The two other vets, John Jr and John Sr, the founder of the practice, were there to meet me.  I trotted Aero up - he was quite excited being in a new place and he trotted smartly beside me.  Sound.  His blood is up, he's excited, so he's not feeling anything through the adrenalin, we said.

I trotted him up.
I trotted him down.
I turned him in a tight circle.
I trotted him one last time - barefoot, downhill, on concrete - 100% sound.

Well!  Bloody horses!  Half an hour earlier, I'd brushed away a tear, thinking I might be leaving him there!

Myself and the vets had a chat.  Initially, they spoke in terms of putting a shoe back on, but when they heard I was trying to go barefoot, they were very supportive, and talked in terms of hoof boots instead of metal shoes.

John Sr suspected there was a layer of false sole, caused by the infection, so he told John Jr to trim away a good deal of sole and to tidy up around the hole where the hoof wall had broken off.  Given Aero's history (they all remember him, he was quite the conundrum for the summer of 2007) and the looming deadline (5.5 weeks!) they agreed that Xrays would be a good idea, just so we'd know for sure that things were going in the right direction.

The hoof was trimmed and we trooped into the treatment room for Xrays.  John Jr knows Aero very well - six years ago, he lay on the ground behind him for half an hour, stitching both of his back heels after a hunting injury, with no sedation, just a shot of local - and I felt a glow of pride in my little horse's temperament when he said to the attendant vet student "There's no need for sedation, this guy is very quiet."

Aero posed beautifully for his shots, but, best of all, there was almost nothing to be seen - just a teeny fuzzy area, at the side where the infection had eventually broken out.  John Sr peered at it for a while, and finally pronounced it acceptable - in his opinion, it was where the infection had formerly spread inwards, but was now cleared up.

So the seemingly endless rounds of poulticing and hot-tubbing are over.  The advice is to keep it dry, so no paddock turnout for the foreseeable future (the weather forecast is as bad as ever).  I'm to scrub out the hole in the hoof wall two-three times a day and put iodine into it and I have to put his boots on, to protect the foot when he's turned out in the arena or when he's being worked.

Work?  He's back in work?  Yippee!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Dublin Horse Show

I've been to the Dublin Horse Show loads of times, always without a horse, apart from one year when the YD and Aero were asked to take part in a Dressage demo.  The longest I've stayed there is two days - it's difficult to get away when you have a busy household of humans and animals to look after.

I wasn't going to go this year - too much to do, what with the preparations for the move to Provence, but when my daughters gave me a ticket for the whole week, for that Big Birthday I had a while back, of course I was going to go!  At the time, there was talk of one or the other of them going to Dublin as well, for a day or two of horsiness, but that didn't happen.  Nor did the LSH get the opportunity to join me - he was too busy looking after everything at home as well as trying to earn a living.   I was happy to go off on my own, though, confident that I'd meet plenty of people I knew. I wasn't able to go for the full five days, unfortunately, but I had a great three days there.

Dublin is the highlight of the Irish Equestrian calendar.  People have been frantically scrambling to qualify horses and ponies for the showing and show-jumping classes since May.  It's an achievement to qualify - the YD tried hard to qualify for the showjumping, first of all with her 128cm pony Lady Ivy and then with her 138cm pony Ballyclough Lady, but it was not to be, she never rode there as a competitor.

When you walk in, first of all you have to pass the indoor trade stands.  Hundreds and hundreds of them, many of them completely non-horsey, catering for the Dublin socialites who MUST be seen at The Horse Show.  This year was the first year that I really, really "did" the trade stands, but I didn't buy much - I kept thinking in terms of "will it be easy to pack" and "will I use it" and "do I really need it."  I'm not a great shopper at the best of times.  I'm a big disappointment to our failing economy at the moment.

After the tradestands, you walk through a doorway, and suddenly the city around you fades away and you're in Horse Land.  The two showing rings occupy a large space in between the Main Hall and one of the grandstands which overlooks the Main Showjumping arena, and they're busy all day long with ridden and led showing classes.
The first day, I arrived in time to see this slightly chunky judge riding the equally chunky Performance Irish Draughts.  This is a recent innovation, traditionally, Irish Draught horses were just shown in hand.  Now they want to show what good riding horses they make. I really liked this dark grey :
and in fact he went on to win the class.

I watched and played with my camera for a while, trying to capture the moment when the judge asked the horse to gallop from the corner.  I was happy with my timing most of the time :
but the photos are not as sharp as I'd like.  Later on, I played around with the settings and things improved.  I think it was just a little dark for the P300 to work well with a fast shutter speed.

Jean François Pignon and his troop of Camargue mares were one of the entertainments for the duration of the show.  They appeared twice a day, sometimes in the main arena and sometimes in Simmonscourt, which is an adjoining section of the showgrounds - it's across a busy street, which is completely closed off to traffic during Horse Show Week.

Yum! Grass!
These horses had arrived the previous day, after travelling from the South of France by truck.  They clearly hadn't seen grass for a while and all they wanted to do was graze.  Each one dutifully left the herd when requested, did whatever was asked of her, and put her head straight back down just as fast as she could.

They do some fairly circus-y stuff, to be honest; running along behind their trainer, rearing on command, kicking out on command, lying down on command...

This bit, pictured left, is quite exciting, when he stands on two of them and the herd moves around under him.  The mares were still quite distracted by the lush green grass underfoot - the one who is tossing her head in the photo didn't really want to work, and got a couple of sharp taps with the long whip to remind her what her job was!

As soon as they stopped, so that Jean François could take his bow, all five heads went straight down to the grass again! Yum! Irish grass!
That's grand, you stand there, we'll just eat
I wasn't super-impressed by the display up to this point, to be honest.  A small grey pony also came running in and joined the show, he was cute but it was still quite circus-y.
Ok, we'll lie down, so long as we can keep eating!
What did impress me was when four foals came running out to join their mamas.  To be so focussed on their trainer and so relaxed in a strange environment while separated from their young foals - all less than four months old - shows supreme trust.  To further demonstrate this trust, after the mares and foals were reunited, he split them again, and asked the foals to remain a short distance away from the mums :
I think the grass started to help at this point!

The main focus of the Dublin Horse Show is undeniably showjumping, and the highlight of the week is the Nations Cup Class, when teams from different countries compete for the prestigious Agha Khan Trophy.  This year, Dublin hosted the final leg of the FEI Nations Cup Super League - eights countries qualify for the Super League every year and compete at eight major international shows.  The bottom two teams get relegated to the Promotional League the following year, so they all fight tooth and nail to retain a good position on the league table.

Proceedings start in the International Arena at 2pm, with a grand parade.  There's marching bands, flags, top hats and tails, national anthems, excited horses, loads of dignitaries and cheering crowds.  I've never sat through it before - I've always been on a tight schedule and considered it a total waste of time.

I loved it!  Especially watching all the horses freaking out when they were expected to walk quietly behind one of these :
Most riders don't take their competition horse into the parade - it's just too mind-blowing!  Each team lined up in front of the Presidential Box while their anthem was played, here's the Irish team of Clem McMahon, Richie Moloney, Cian O'Connor and Darragh Kerins :
There was some great jumping, this is Ireland's Darragh Kerins and Lisona clearing the bogey fence - loads of riders had this one down :
I had fun playing with my camera, I think this is Belgium's Olivier Philippaerts with Cabrio ven de Heffinck :
Great Britain's John Whitaker and Argento :
Ireland's Richie Moloney with Ahorn van de Zuuthoeve :
It was a very exciting contest.  I didn't think Ireland would win, in fact I would have put my money on GB if I was going to place a bet, but after the first round, Ireland were in the lead with one time fault.  France and Sweden were right behind on four faults and Great Britain was next with five faults.

In the second round, Sweden faded away, leaving France, Ireland and Great Britian to slug it out.  France's first rider, Penelope Leprevost, was eliminated.  If the rest of the team went clear, they could discard her score, and they would still be on four faults.  Robert Smith, second to go for GB, had a fence down for four faults.  Again, if the rest of the team went clear, they could discard his score, but GB would still carry their five faults from the first round.  Ireland's first two riders went clear, but third to go, Darragh Kerins, had one down for four faults.

It all came down to the last round.
If the French went clear, they would finish on a total of four, but if their rider incurred any faults they would all have to be counted, because of Penelope's elimination.
If the British went clear, they would finish on a total of five.
If the Irish went clear, they would win, but one fence down would leave us on a total of five, possibly in joint second place.

John Whitaker went first with Argento - he had two fences down and retired, knowing that his score would now be discarded, leaving the team score at nine.  Next was France's Kevin Staut - he had a fence down early on, and the crowd gasped... did this mean Ireland had won?  Yes it did!  Our last rider, Cian O' Connor didn't have to jump, our final score was five faults, France were second on eight faults and Britain were third on nine.

Then we had all the pomp and circumstance of the prize-giving.  As it happened, I was sitting just in front of the dignitaries box.  The little leprechaun in the centre is Michael D. Higgins, who hails from my former home town, and happens to be President of Ireland!  To the left of him is Fonsie Mealy, president of the Royal Dublin Society, which hosts the Horse Show, and to the left of him is the gleaming gold Agha Khan trophy - donated by the Agha Khan for this event.  It's about the same size as the Irish president, so I was hoping he wouldn't have to lift it!
Fortunately, he didn't, it was officiously carried down the steps by an army guy, who also helped him hand it over.
After the presentation, the President was full of cheery waves for the crowd.
The team faced a barrage of Press photographers
and then had their victory lap.  In white baseball caps.  I'm not impressed.
The baseball caps were part of the FEI's sponsorship stuff, like the rugs and sashes.  What kind of message are they putting across, that you must wear your helmet while jumping, but not while your horses are galloping around in a victory lap?  Grrr!

I made sure I got a photo of Olympic Gold Medallist, Steve Guerdat :
and, of course, Olympic Bronze Medallist, Ireland's Cian O'Connor :
but the photos I was happiest to get were these :

This little roan pony is the first pony I ever bred, Toffee.  I didn't expect to see her at Dublin, but there she was, nineteen years old, and still going strong, competing in the Pony Club Games at the show.  She's a games expert - we tried to make her into a jumping pony, but she wasn't interested and ended up going to a friend for Pony Club.  She's won loads of games championships and has even represented Ireland abroad.

I left early on the last day and returned to my cousin's house, to join in the celebrations after her grandson's christening.  She lives in the coolest house in Dublin.  Yes, this really is her house - complete with clock tower and gargoyles!

Back to normailty now, treating Aero's foot, attempting to tidy the house, sizing up how much more painting has to be done.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

How's that ToDo List Coming Along?

I dropped in to Allison's blog before I started this post (procrastinating? Surely not!) and was amused to see that she was also writing about a ToDo List.  Sometimes it seems like we just make these lists to make ourselves feel guilty, but then on the other hand when you have so many things to accomplish in a short space of time, the ToDo List is essential for making sure you don't forget things.

I'm going to share some of mine, and comment on progress.

Items 1, 2 and 3 have a similar theme.
  • Rehome Lilly.                   Tick. Lilly went to her new home two weeks ago.
  • Rehome Dylan.                 No Tick. The handsome Dylan is still with us.  The rescue charity will start "pushing" him now and I'm going to "share" him on Facebook again.  He's going to be neutered on Monday (he has no idea, poor boy) and I'm very happy to care for him afterwards.  I dread the thought of him going into kennels, he is so loving and so loyal, I can just imagine his big goofy face staring sadly out of a pen and wondering where we've all gone.
  • Define Pepper's future.      Tick. I really thought I was ready to have Pepper euthanased if I couldn't find a home for him.  The more likely it seemed, the more I realised that I wasn't ready at all, and neither was he - he's in great form.  Yes, he's slow, yes, he's struggling to keep weight on, yes, he's showing signs of Cushings Disease, but he's perky and happy, comes over for a little chat in the paddock, whinnies gently every time I walk into the yard and is definitely still enjoying life.  So I've come to an arrangement with a friend.  I'll pay a reduced "livery" for him to live out with her kids' ponies.  We're hoping her very nervous son will ride him from time to time - both of them would be content just to walk around the arena.  Phew.  I'm glad I don't have to face that one just yet.
Two out three aint bad.

The next few items on the list are administrative type things to do with letting the house.   I've completely dropped the ball there.  Oops.  Writing this has reminded me that I need to do them.  (Add Item #39 to List : Pin ToDo List up)

Then there's the painting list.
  • Bathrooms.                90% Complete, skirting boards
  • Back kitchen.             80% Complete, skirting boards & second coat on doors
  • Kitchen                       No Tick
  • ED's Room                 No Tick, can't do it until she moves out
  • Windowsills               40% complete, first coat on some of them
  • Hallway                     No Tick.  And worse still, looking at what's required for the hallway led me to spot damp creeping up the wall - there's a leaking pipe somewhere which is going to have to be dug up and repaired.  Argh.  This leads to Item #40 on the list, Call Plumber.  Tick.
So the painting is not going too well, although seems likely I'll get a bit more done today.  The rain is blatting steadily against my window while I write this and there's 70mph winds expected later, so it looks like a good day to get indoor stuff done.

The "sorting out our stuff" work has gone really well, though.
  • Go through wardrobes.                Tick.  Done & sold loads at the car boot sale
  • Go through airing cupboard.        Tick.  Done & sold loads at the car boot sale
  • Go through kitchen cupboards.     Tick.  Done & sold loads at the car boot sale
  • Go through all my horse gear.      Tick.  My tack room is now arranged as a showroom, with all the gear I'm selling lined up on the right hand side.
  • Sell show jumps.                         Tick.  Let's face it, I'm not going to use them.  A friend offered to buy them last week, so I didn't even have to advertise them.  Whoop!
  • Get rid of old trailer.                    Tick.  I've done a barter deal where I'll get a couple of new stables doors in exchange for my old Ifor Williams 505.  It needs a bit of work, so I think it's a fair deal.
  • Find a gardening service.              Tick.  The garden is tidy.  Not beautiful, but tidy.
  • Sort out horse gear for ISPCA.      Tick.  I just need to drop the rugs and headcollars to their equine rescue centre.
This section of the list makes me happy!  It's just as well, because other than "Health Checks." the remaining ten items on the list are unTicked.  Book the ferry, pack boxes, replace floor coverings in couple of rooms - that sort of thing.

Oh well, we've got another two weeks before the house needs to be ready for viewing.  Plenty of time.  

I'm off to the Dublin Horse Show for a few days.  Of course I can spare the time!

Monday, 13 August 2012

A Crazy Week - Silver Spurs, the Chronic Abscess and a Broken Rib

My plan for last week was straightforward.

Sunday : sell stuff at a "bar boot" sale - tick.

Monday (a public holiday) : attend car boot sale and sell off more of our "stuff" - tick.  We made €170 selling old clothes, cds and bric-a-brac which would otherwise have been thrown into the skip which is currently sitting beside the house.

Tuesday : Watch as much of the Olympic Dressage Grand Prix Special as possible while at the same time continue going through household "stuff," packing boxes and preparing for Silver Spurs. I'll give Tuesday half a tick.  The entire Grand Prix Special got watched.  Boxes remained unpacked.  Some of the old Silver Spurs rosettes (which we are recycling this year) got ironed, just because that was a job I could do while watching dressage.

Wednesday : this was the day I was going to catch up on everything I should have done on Tuesday, so that I would be able to watch the Kur on Thursday, PLUS I had to collect the Silver Spurs rosettes from the manufacturer in West Cork, an hours drive away. No tick.  I got absolutely nothing done.
I had just finished poulticing and hot-tubbing Aero's foot (yes, that was being fitted in twice daily as well) when the ED came out of the office clutching her side.  "Mum, I think I need to go to hospital."  Man, she was pale.  She's had a cough going on for just about as long as Aero has had his hoof abscess going on, has been back and forth to her doctor and spent a day in the Emergency Room while we were on holiday in July, but the cough has refused to clear up and the pain in her chest has been explained as "you probably pulled something coughing."  She went and lay down for a while, hoping it would ease the pain, while I finished the rest of the horsey jobs.  An hour later, she was still in pain, so off we went to the hospital, and that's where I spent the rest of the day.  The LSH relieved me at about 6.30pm and I went home to treat Aero and look after the rest of the animals, but about an hour later he called to say they were going to keep the ED in overnight so she could have a CT scan the next day.
The YD had a gig at 10pm which I really wanted to go to, so when the LSH got home, we had a late dinner and spent the rest of the night in a bar listening to her performing with her new band.  They were excellent, especially considering that they'd only practiced together for a couple of hours!

Thursday : was originally going to be a nice relaxed day.  I would have prepared everything for Silver Spurs on Wednesday, so all I would have to do was the usual household and animal care stuff, pick up the Silver Spurs trophies, watch the Kur, head off to meet my Silver Spurs co-organiser Naomi at about 5.30pm and carry on to Wicklow, about four hours away.
It was manic.  Phone the ED.  Treat Aero's foot.  Feed cats, dogs and chickens.  Turn horses out.  Skip out stables.  Whizz off to West Cork to collect rosettes, it's just after 10am as I leave and I'm doing ok.  Continue to Ballincollig to collect trophies, stopping to buy shavings on the way.  It's already 1pm by the time I get there, where did those three hours go?  Carry on home.  All I have to do now is eat, print off everything we need for Silver Spurs, finish ironing the rosettes, pack my bag and go. I arrived home just in time to see Fuego and Juan Manuel Munoz start their Freestyle, and I sat and watched dressage for about twenty minutes while I ate.
The TV stayed on for the afternoon while I got through my jobs.  Scoresheets, judges sheets and start lists were printed and collated.  Prize-winners' letters and claim forms were printed, envelopes were stuffed.  Recycled rosettes were ironed.  My overnight bag was packed.  Dressage was watched.  Tears were shed, not quite as many as Charlotte Dujardin, perhaps, but a significant amount nonetheless.  I was ready to leave at 5pm, and made the final decision as to whether I would go with Naomi or stay with the ED, who was being kept in hospital until they had some sort of diagnosis.  The decision was "Go" - I couldn't let Naomi down, and if the ED got a nasty diagnosis I could be home in a couple of hours.  I paid a flying visit to the hospital en route, the ED was in less pain and a couple of her friends were visiting, so I felt a little happier leaving her.

Friday : Silver Spurs day at Marlton Stud.  Tick!
The sun beamed down on us all day.  The kids were great.  The horses and ponies were great.  The parents were great.  Best of all, I got a phone call from the ED saying she was being discharged.  The diagnosis?  A broken rib caused by coughing, the coughing was caused by a chest infection which had cleared up but her airways were so irritated that the cough was still present.  I didn't know any of that was possible!  She had been put on Ventolin and painkillers, but was already feeling much better.
Later in the day, the LSH sent me a photo of a pus covered poultice.  That was the icing on the cake - Aero's abscess had finally burst.

Saturday : Silver Spurs Ride Off day.  Another Tick!
This is the most exciting part of the competition, and is fitted into the middle of a busy show day at Marlton Stud.  The top three riders from both our Pony and Junior sections have a World Championship style Ride Off.  They each perform a test on their own mount - ponies do a Preliminary level test and Juniors do a Novice level test.  Then they swap onto the other riders' ponies/horses and do the test again, doing the test three times in total.  They have approximately seven minutes (the length of a dressage test) to get to know each strange horse before they have to ride the test on it, and the most adaptable rider will invariably come out on top.
It's always exciting, and this year was no different - there was just 1% between 1st and 2nd in the Pony section.  The Junior section had a clear winner, but there was less than .01% between 2nd and 3rd - it can't get closer than that!

The top three riders in each section get the same prize, a €500 bursary, thereby reducing pressure and negative competitiveness (we hope).  Our sponsor is the governing body of equestrian sports in Ireland, Horse Sport Ireland, who have been very generous to continue sponsoring Silver Spurs, considering all the cutbacks which state run bodies are enduring at the moment.

Naomi and I have been running Silver Spurs for four years now.  Unless things go very pear-shaped in France, this was the last time I'll be so closely involved.  It's a lot of work, but it has been a huge privilege to be involved with these youngsters.  Many of the riders come back year after year and it's been a pleasure to watch them develop as riders and as adults.  Some of our riders have gone on to represent Ireland internationally, but we're proud of them all!

I got a couple of hugs from some of our regulars.  I didn't cry, but there was a strange prickling sensation behind my eyes as I said goodbye.  I can't imagine what that was!

Best of luck to Liz, who is stepping in to fill my shoes!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Diary of a Chronic Abscess

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what's a video worth?
This is Aero, turned out in the arena on Aug 8th, wearing a plastic bag over his hoof, protected by a Cavallo Sportboot.  Later that day, all four feet were the same temperature (warm) and the digital pulse in both forefeet felt the same.

Two days before, there was this on the poultice :
Not much, but it was something and my fingers are crossed once again that this might be the end of it.

I'm off for two days to run the Silver Spurs finals.  Hope our youngsters are inspired by the Olympic glory achieved by our nearest neighbours!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

DIary of a Chronic Abscess

This started off as a reply to all the comments on the last post, then I came to the conclusion it would merit a post in its own right.

First of all, thanks for all the comments and good wishes, everyone.

I've no happy "poultice full of snot" story to share yet.  The pink spot on the back of his heel is still there but seems less soft.  There is a small amount of black stuff coming out where the poultice meets the top of the PHW wrap - I'm not sure if this is a little bit of thrushy goop coming from his frog or if it's old black pus working its way out from the bottom.

Right now, I'm still tempted to rip off the hoof wrap, unplug the hole and really go after it for a couple of days.  I'm reluctant to head down the antibiotic route for two reasons, the first being that I've never found them to help with hoof abscesses before.  Years ago, we had a similar protracted abscess story with our little pony Rosie which the Vet initially treated with penicillin, after opening the abscess.  Ten days later, he was back and ended up removing literally half her sole to try to get it to drain again.  Apparently antibiotics kill the infection, but the pus and dead bacterial matter is still in the foot, only now it's no longer liquid so it's ten times harder to get it to drain.

The other thing which is making me think twice about antibiotics is Aero's history.  We spent the entire summer of his seventh year treating an infection in his right foreleg - we think he picked up a thorn during his first ever event.  He won the event, but lost the rest of the season while we went through a seemingly endless cycle of poulticing, medicating, resting, bringing slowly back into work, leg swelling up again.  He had three courses of different antibiotics and in the end the Vets and I all agreed they weren't helping and the thorn was going to have to come out by itself.  What eventually got it out was a garlic poultice, but that was very severe and actually burned him like a blistering agent (some of you might also be old enough to remember blistering!) and I'm really reluctant to do that again.

I'm going to keep up the soaking and poulticing for the next day or two, but on Thursday I will assess where we are and I may revisit the antibiotics idea.  I'm hoping to turn him out in the arena for a while each day (movement would help), but we've just had yet another night of torrential rain and unless it clears up really well this afternoon so that the arena dries out, he's going to have to stay in all day.

The other thing I'm trying to do is to get my hands on a bottle of a homeopathic treatment "Hydropathics Chronic Abscess."  It's worth a try, especially since he has a history of his own immune system not working too well.

I'm off to boil the kettle and soak the Animalintex now...

Monday, 6 August 2012

Diary of a Chronic Abscess

(Also know as Aero's Diary)

I diligently soaked Aero's foot in a Cider Vinegar solution for two days, then the Clean Trax solution arrived in the post and I settled down to treat Aero with it on Thursday morning.  I decided to soak his foot for an hour this time, so we settled down for the long haul, Aero munching on his hay net, Dylan waiting patiently outside the stable door and me playing Sudoku on my phone, while making sure Aero didn't move around and risk pulling the soaking boot off.

After the hour was up, I carefully followed the Clean Trax instructions and bandaged a plastic bag onto his foot, leaving it there for a further 45 minutes "to allow the vapours to permeate the hoof."  Ok, so, job done.

I kept him in overnight and checked him the following morning.  It looked good - the abscessed foot (left front) was no longer noticeably hotter than the others, the glands in his throat seemed to have reduced and most importantly, I asked him to trot for a few strides up the drive towards the yard and he seemed ok.

Cue Saturday morning.  This was the day I was going to check him out fully - I actually felt I would jinx his recovery if I trotted him up properly on Friday, so I decided to give him an extra day to improve once I thought I'd seen some improvement.

I touched the heel of the left front.  Hot.  I touched the heel of the right front.  Much, much cooler.  I held the palm of my hand over the front of the left hoof.  Definitely warm.  I held the palm of my hand over the front of the right hoof.  Definitely cool.  Once again, the glands in his throat were up.  Once again, he was lame at walk.  Once again, back to the drawing board.

It was time for some reflection.  I came to the conclusion that I screwed up big time the day the chunk broke off his hoof.  At that stage, I should have poulticed the hole left by the break for a couple of days and I should then have kept his foot as clean as possible, ie bandaged and protected from dirt and re-infection for as long as it took - probably weeks.  Instead, I took the "Ah, sure it'll drain away by itself in the field" approach, and turned him out into my paddock.  This might have worked if we were having anything approximating a normal summer here, but with the huge quantities of rain we've been having, large tracts of my paddock are under water.  Because of this, Aero has had no choice but to slosh around in mucky water, and instead of the infection in his foot draining out, more dirt and infection worked their way in.  When I thought about it, if the Hoof Stuff packing material and PHW resin wrap allow moisture to flow out, then it follows that bacteria and infection can flow in too.

My initial reaction was to cut off the PHW wraps, clean out the hole where the break occurred and start poulticing and bandaging from scratch.  I even went out and bought a sheet metal snips just to cut off the wraps!  Then when I brought Aero in from the paddock and scrubbed his foot, I noticed a soft pink spot at the back of his heel.  Could I focus on this point and get the abscess to break through?

I shelved the Snipping plan for the moment, pulled out the Davis boot and started hot-tubbing with salt water.  Then I applied an Animalintex poultice, bandaging it onto his hoof and protecting it with one of Flurry's Cavallo Sport Boots.  I was hoping to find the poultice full of pus that evening, but no such luck.

Hot-tubbed again with the Davis boot, applied the poultice again.  Same story on Sunday morning, a disappointingly clean poultice.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Please let it end soon.