About this Blog

Meet my very 1st horse, Lazarus.
I couldn't wait for Santa anymore or ask one more time for a pony for my bday (after age 30 it got embarrassing). I took matters in my own hands and I finally decided to pick a pony that needed a new home. Laz found me as I contemplated with this idea. He was sweet yet very sassy, fresh off the track, Thoroughbred (OTTB).
Join us for our re-training, rehabbing from laminitis and testing all parts of mixed up horsemanship and partnership, and luck...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Hugging barefoot man

So today I had my 10 o'clock appointment with barefoot specialist, Cliff, who was as kind in person as he was on the phone. We met at my Vet's along with my uber supportive BO's to all hear methods, thoughts, etc.
Cliff has the sweetest personality and calmness to him. That being said, I'm always on defense when it comes to my brown baby, so it's sometimes difficult totally embracing a stranger that is coming to work on my horse. BUT...Cliff quickly won me over. After our meeting at the vet, we went over to have him see Lazarus in person (in horse?). Cliff talks to the horse, introducing him by touch and smell which was sweet. He was unconventional and crawled around on the ground along Laz's legs and hooves. Yikes, I thought, but Laz was fine. Cliff hugged Laz. Ask Laz to lift his feet, didn't tell. Cliff even hugged all of us when he was finished looking and talking and making me feel comfortable. AND..he didn't charge a thing to come today. Totally cool in my book. Cliff really seems to love what he does, as he informed us he is battling his own health problems but still somehow finds the strength to want to help hurting horses.

Crazy...this whole thing is crazy and I hope it's crazy enough to work. Or is it crazy? Maybe my old methods were crazy? My farrier was amazing though, I do want to say, he never yelled or mistreated the horses ever...and I'm hoping he wants to learn from Cliff for the future possibly.

As of now, with Laz's Megashoes still on, we are going with barefoot Cliff (he wears shoes, his horses don't, lol) and have our appointment set for March 19th in the late afternoon.
He felt Laz will be fine until then and being he has heartbar shoes on, for just a little over a week, I'm assuming, he may want to wait for a bit more hoof growth.
Cliff's intentions are to keep Laz on a bland diet; 1st and 2nd cutting grass hay switch his senior feed to Triple Crown L/S (low starch), no supplements until he is stable. We are aiding Laz with a 1/3 of tube of Equioxx (anti-inflammatory) but the goal is to wean him off of that, if Laz can' tolerate. Also, Cliff wants to open his 16' x 16' walkout and create a larger paddock to encourage movement to help with blood flow, etc for hoof as I'm sure it's only helpful for the horse's delicate GI system.
Cliff will fit Laz to the Easy Boots as well, on March 19th and wants me to continue with wrapping his legs for support but may look into using Pegasus leg boots during day/turnout and then removing them at night to allow to breathe.
Lazarus's mental attitude remains to be of a Champion (puppy) and I hope it remains.
I have to say, this is difficult and I'm SO NOT used to this method of thinking, but am really VERY excited.
Lot's of learning to come.
I hope, hope, hope this works....and have to say, I'm nervous Laz won't be OK to wait until March 19th but Cliff assured me, he will. We are putting our trust into Cliff's experienced hands for now.

Sorry for the sideways video, it's from my crackberry and I don't know how to flip it. My purpose was so you could see how well Laz is still moving.

So, off to do more homework given by Barefoot Cliff

a book called "Founder" that he mentioned was a bit outdated but still had good info on understanding methods, etc

Friday, February 26, 2010

Leap of Faith

So, here is where I've been for the last week.
Accepting the news that Lazarus's life was going to be cut shorter....accepting? No...I was angry, hurt, cheated and defeated. My family, husband and friends here helped me steady myself.

But...then an email came through from a blogging friend of support, (two actually in particular that kept gently nudging and urging me- Denali and Frizzle- thank you) and a tiny flicker of "maybe" hope? An idea. A thought. A method.

Barefoot, natural hoof care.
At first, I didn't know much (or anything) about it. That evening after exchanging emails back and forth with my fellow OTTB owner friend, emailing her connections/contacts, emailing and researching local specialists in my area..I began to read, and read, and read and learn and got very, very, very awake. I felt a tiny lift from the dark cloud, of "what if?" My family and I were all in the living room together, watching the Olympics and I spun my laptop around for my Mom to read what I was finding. Her eyes lit up and she whispered, "why not?"

So, I happened to contact a well respected barefoot specialist by the name of Cliff, who happens to be the past president of the American Hoof Association (what those credentials mean to me?..not sure yet) BUT also happens to live 30 minutes from where I keep Lazarus AND is willing and happy to help us out. Oh, and did I mention, the cost is way more affordable than what I've been doing?! As I'm a newbie in this avenue, click here for more information of a guy who he's trained alongside with. What I can tell you is, that this gentleman Cliff seems kind, hopeful and has saved many horses with similar laminitis as my boy. He is meeting me tomorrow, along with my vet, to view xrays and see what we can do.

I know this is a gamble...but literally, what do I have to lose? Lazarus had a scheduled euthanizing date...it's now postponed!!! I hope to cancel it all together. If we think we can move forward to start this barefoot rehabbing, we start by removing his heart bar shoes (actually all four shoes off) along with the use of Easy Boots to transition Laz into comfort until he can go totally barefoot. We could see results soon, or in months but Cliff's goal is always to get the horse healthy, comfortable and ride-able.
The ride-able part would be a huge win.
To save my boy, is the priority right now.
I want to share with you some of the testimonials that came from Cliff's past clients:

Hi Kristen,
I have included a little video of my mare that Cliff brought back from the dark side of founder. I was grasping for straws when he showed up. She was down, and the vet was waiting with the fatal needle. Along with the homeopathic Vet Sue Thompson. They both worked hard to get her back to frolicking and we are riding her again so yes I suggest you give him a try.
Hello, Prior to reading your blog, I can without hesitation say the Cliff is your answer. I struggled with our Arabian who my teenage daughter showed and loved with all her life. Suddenly, he foundered. For over a year, we worked with vets, Styrofoam and duct tape hooves, sedatives as he was on complete stall rest. He was taken off grass completely. Still, he would get a little better and she would start riding and boom...back again. It was the most stressful thing in the world to see him suffer and not know what was causing it and how to get him over it.
Cliff came into the picture as I worked in a middle school and was talking to another mom about her horses. She told me about Cliff. I called him and he offered his help. I was meet with so much negativity at the barn I was boarding at. They were 100% convinced this horse was done. I basically felt like what Cliff said made sense and that all the medical things we had tried was possible aggravating the problem. To let my horse go without shoes was scary as I had been convinced taking off his shoes would ruin his feet. So, I trusted Cliff. He is so informed on this issue and has a passion for helping horses.
He saved our horse...period. My daughter was able to take her horse back into the show ring several months later and the horse performed the best he has ever...barefoot. Western Pleasure Champion, Class A Arab Circuit.
There were times when I would be worried about any little thing and Cliff would come right out. You have to know that once we started working with Cliff, my former boarding caretakers were watching for this to fail. Many times Cliff showed up along with the vet (I had called) and eventually, the vet became his fan.
So, I can say with a resounding yes... give him a try. For the sake of your horse. Cliff understand horses and he attempts to give them back their life as it was meant to be. He is honest, reliable and genuine.

Dear Kristen: I cannot say enough good things about this man. He has saved my horses life more than once or twice, he is very knowledgeable in going barefoot, founder, and the horses diet for founder. My horse has foundered 4x now all due to what I would call barn errors at boarding facilities. Luckily I met Cliff after the 2nd one he has been detrimental in the care of my horse since. It does take some getting used to, seeing your horse without shoes. I do ride with Easy Boots when I am on the road or rough trail. Good luck to you I hope this helps, feel free to contact me if you have more concerns.
I know how you feel, and believe me it was difficult for me to make the plunge to barefoot, natural hoof care, however I truly feel that this procedure has saved my horse. Cammie has actually been trotting around and kicking up her heels in the snow this winter. I saw improvement immediately and Cammie is just getting better and better. I can't say enough good things about Cliff. He is professional, prompt, knowledgeable, and kind. He will inform you every step of the way. Good Luck and let me know how it goes. I am sorry I waited as long as I did to go this route.

I know this barefoot method could not work, but at least I'll know I've done all I could for Lazarus.
I am going by the brightness of his eye and his mental encouragement. I know many of you may not agree with this, but for us, if it can happen, it feels like the right choice.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Finding normalcy

It's been a few days since Hell.
It is not easy, but I feel I have found some footing.
It's a pain in my heart, that I feel in my throat, in my stomach, my mind. I try to leave it in my car when I pull up to the barn. Sometimes, I'm able to....mostly, I am not. I don't want to cry or feel sad but how can I not? I'm losing my beloved first horse. I am trying to be thankful that I have a couple of weeks with him, that in the face of this most unfair choice by nature, that at least I have him to say goodbye for a little while. I have time. That is something so many of other great horse owners, have not had.

I'm taking that opportunity with both hands and gripping it.

Right now, I am able to still smell, touch, feel, see Lazarus.

I have my good friend, an insanely talented photographer coming out this Saturday for a photo shoot. I can not wait to see those images, to have those images forever. To show my future (hopefully) horse loving children the photos of Lazarus.

I have been with Lazarus everyday since Thursday except for today. It's a freaking snow blizzard, I have to work and as life happens, we lost my Husband's Stepfather over the weekend, in his long battle against lung cancer. I will be gone Wed-Friday to be with our family for that loss. I am finding that the numbness helps and I think I am stronger than I originally thought. I am surrounded by an amazing group; family, friends, blogger friends who lend support in forms of understanding, compassion and even humor. We must laugh in the darkest hours to prevent totally loosing it. I am thankful to be married to a sweet, funny and unbelievably supportive husband who holds me and makes me laugh when I need it most.

So, in finding some normalcy, my Mom and I have spent the last four days with Lazarus. Lazarus is doing quite well (aside from his nerve damage and dying hoof and dying coffin bone-that is there and not changing) but he is eating/drinking, rubbing his giant, beautiful head all over us, enjoying his grooming, laying down, rolling, moving and in fact, in talking to the BO, enjoying this snow storm. He has the choice to be out in his personal paddock or inside in well bedded stall, and the 3" snow layer on his coat proves he has had enough of the stall life from his past, and prefers to be an outdoor gentleman. Whatever he wants. That is my 'm.o' for Laz now.
Whatever he wants, he will get. I will make damn sure of that.

Starting with treats...

Standing brave and tall getting his last shoes.
I don't know if it's that I'm seeing things differently, or just more clearly now but I swear...I'm seeing the signs. His eyes are a bit different and his body seems a bit different.
Weaker. Tired.
His Spirit is still strong, but now I know, it just won't be for long.

Just enjoying the lovely details of Lazarus
The back of his hind leg above his knee

His closed eye, soft and calm
My boy loves to eat, and I find his wet mouth so calming and kissable
Diving in for the soft bottom goodies
Ellie, who will be two this spring, watches over Laz often

Part of our everyday 4 month routine

Mason and the BO's two dogs, help keep things light and fun during harder moments

Today, Mason at home with me, patiently waiting for tomorrow to play

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Learning to say goodbye

I'm so sorry to say, that Thursday evening was my own personal Hell....and I'm still here but with the support of so many all around me. Wading through the sick darkness of new knowledge and how to get through it.

The vet appointment to review the xrays were literally black and white; bad news...No, the worst news. Lazarus's coffin bone in his bad leg, his rear right, has gone from shifting bi-laterally which we were stabilizing- to now dropped in a forward severe rotation. There is nerve damage, which has created dead cells...a dying hoof and possible dying bone in his leg. This new rotation is the most severe since the beginning. I couldn't believe it. Could not. I couldn't hear, swallow, or see for a moment.

I literally couldn't breathe.

I felt my whole body drop when I heard the vet say the word "Bad." I didn't think I would lose this battle. I thought I could throw my scraped money and all my love into Lazarus and hopefully have better results, slowly, but positive.

Nature has a different plan.

Things have stopped and shifted. We are no longer able to treat him or put him through anymore. The once hopes of me treating him so he could be rideable once again, quickly shifted to 'can he live a quality life?' and that answer is a devastating 'No.'
I have had since Thursday to attempt to wrap my head around this.
It's my brain versus my heart and as you all know, it's impossible to separate.

Where we are at now, after many discussions with vet/farrier/family is I went ahead and put new heart bar shoes on his feet, and we have Lazarus comfortable on pain meds. His mind, heart, lungs, gut is healthy...but sweet Lazarus has a dying foot/leg and it's catching up to him. It's destroying my boy and destroying my heart. I can't say that this isn't changing me. It's killing me, but I have chosen to take the couple weeks that I have with him, while he is pain free, and enjoy it as much as we can together.

I am so thankful that I still have my sweet Laz and will enjoy our last moments together. I am lucky to have my family in town ironically, and my unbelievably supportive husband and friends, and the amazing BO's too. I am lucky above all, to have had a horse like Lazarus in my life that has forever taught me that the love of a horse is simply amazing.

As for the next couple of weeks, it will be insanely unfair and difficult, but we will get through and we will be with him until his last day, and until that day, he will be so loved.

Lazarus is adjusting to his new shoes and still eating/drinking/rolling and being a loved horse. He will live the remaining days unbelievably spoiled and loved, and the day we have to put him down will be impossible but it will be for his comfort and for the intent of not having him deteriorate anymore, which is coming. I don't want my strong boy to live his life failing and feeling trapped by his dying leg. I want him to enjoy these last couple of weeks healthy (as healthy as he is now) before the worst starts showing and coming and hurting him.

I'm so sorry to report with such awful news as I know so many that have known Lazarus in life, or in this blog, were touched by him. I feel better knowing that his little Bay OTTB has experienced what love and care from an owner, can feel like. He is amazing to me.
Courageous and brave and I need to be the same for him.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Just breathe...

Have you guessed that I'm a bit of a worry wart?
Probably, if you read this blog. Tomorrow is Laz's 3rd round (unless I've lost count) of vet xrays in morning before and after shoes are removed, and then we meet in the evening to review xrays and meet farrier to put on new Mega shoes. I feel like throwing up when the 6 weeks approach. I am nervous always for bad news. I am nervous to be sobbing again. I am nervous to lose my boy.
I tell myself to live in the moment, push the nerves to the side and breathe and enjoy him now, in the moment. Sooooo...yesterday was a great, fun, calm, day. Sometimes I think I have the sweetest TB ever, of course I am biased.
Shouldn't I be, he is my baby.
My first horse.

I took a quick body shot of him above, after yanking off blanket. I think he's gained a bit of weight, not much but he doesn't look as ribby......maybe

So, as if Laz knew I needed some smiling, he started doing this. I've literally only seen him do this once before and can't believe I got lucky enough to grab it on film!
Are those kissable lips or what?!
Donkey for sale!

Laz sometimes does not enjoy grooming...however, lately, he REALLY does. Yesterday he was so into it, he stopped eating and just stood for about 35 minutes and leaned into it. He was mouthy and playful. He picked up the muck bucket and tipped over my grooming bucket ten times (funny the first 5 times) and then took each brush out one by one. Whatever, it made me laugh and it's so NICE to have him just act like a horse and not a patient.

I think (and hope) that he is bonding to me. He kept watching me/following me, as I came in and out of stall. I mean, I wanted to put him in the back of my car and take him home! Now I know for many of you, your horses do that, but it's taken us a long time to get here; 16 months to be exact.
As I was prepping to leave, it started snowing. Look at this perfect tiny star like flake that landed on his back! It was actually beautiful weather yesterday

Mason decided that I was paying too much attention to Laz and stole one of his dirty quilts and started running and shaking his head as if to kill it!

Thanks for the continual good wishes for us!
I hope to report back with GREAT news soon.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Vet/Farrier Round #3 coming up

So, this Thursday is our round #3 of Vet/Mega-Shoes (every six weeks YES another $600+ bill!- insert sarcasm) BUT, I am so thankful to still have my boy. Scary that I'm in the poor house now due to that, though. ;)

I'm always anxious when it comes time for the xrays because I just don't know if we are officially out of the woods yet. I can't get the vet to give me a firm "Yes" or "No" about that, or even if Lazarus will ever be able to be ridden again either. Very discomforting, and unfair. I sometimes can't stomach barns full of horses that owners don't ride when I would give anything to ride my boy. I know that sounds bratty, but it's how I feel. I want to ride my horse. Plain and simple, so I'm doing what I can to get him back into comfort and healing.

What concerns me (well that's a lot actually) are these crevices appearing at the top of his hind hoof growth. I am dying to hear what the vet says. Maybe it's normal and to be expected? Maybe it's not! They are scary to me and I'm having a hard time understanding how that can't affect him? How can he put his weight on this 5" diameter foot when the two back hooves are seeming to divot inwards?

Left rear hoof, taken from inside

Ok, so here is his right rear hoof, taken from the inside, where I think an abscess is due to come/blow. I drew on it, so you can see where it's bubbled over. Funny thing is before, Laz was really tender when I touched it and now, he's not showing any signs of discomfort there at all. I am guessing the xrays may show a gas bubble there to confirm or deny this.

Love this photo of sweet Lazarus. It's SO hard to photograph this boy, he moves his head/body so much! I got a great (I thought) shot of him with his ears actually perked up!! AND bonus is Mason is sweetly peeking thru his stall door in the dark background if you can see! Love my brown boys!
Hooves crossed for good results on Thursday evening!

My Mom's visit

As I mentioned before, my Parents are in town! They live in Evanston (just outside of Chicago) and have been little world travelers since this past July (Greece, London, Cape Town, Durban, etc) and it's so nice to have them staying with my Husband and I for a couple of weeks. They were gone during the whole starting colic/laminitis but we talked on phone, skype or email so they knew everything going on with Lazarus. While they are not sick with the horse obsession, they do know and support my sickness. ;)

Here is my sweet little Mom loving up on Lazarus, hiding her fear of her initial statement "Jesus..did he get taller?!"

Within moments, he was soft and kind to her, so she felt very safe around Laz and really enjoyed her time with him.
He groomed her a little even and stole a button which we retrieved.
Little family photo of the brunettes!
Then it was puppy time. Mason's new playmate, Carley is literally growing by the day! Here is she on top of the shavings pile, looking out all around her. So funny that she waddled up there on her own.
She's got a natural watchful eye

Up close and personal with Carley

She has totally fallen in love with Mason and licks him whenever she can
Mason diving in the 10" or so of snow that is out there. Fluffy and clean

The restful horses looking back thinking we are crazy.
Laz's back posture has gotten really wierd due to his laminitis, he is standing like a cow in this picture! Thankfully, he doesn't do that all the time, but I don't care how he looks as long as he's comfortable and happy.

The Michigan sunshine, lol!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Stuck at home

Well, I do try my best to get to Laz every other day.
Why not every day?
I wish...because as I've mentioned before, I board him an hour away, ONE way. That is two hours of JUST driving..it kills me but I love where he is and right now, that is most important.
Even though I can't ride him now, I go to see him because I love the bonding, putting my eyes and hands on him. But some days work gets in the way (fancy that?!) and today, it was work combined with bad weather. Not horrible East Coast style but here, in Michigan, we got about 5-7 inches of snow that is still falling down.

This morning outside my home office
Now, I wonder if 800+/- sq feet of backyard is enough to call the City and ask if I can sometimes keep my horse there? ;)
I wish. I wish I could move his whole barn closer to me.

Oh, and above Laz's nose was smelling something good! My Parents are back in the USA, and here visiting us for a couple of weeks after being gone in Greece, London and South Africa since July! It's sooo nice having a Mom's homemade cooked meal sizzling away, and she cooks Vegan for me! Mmmm!
**ignore the world's ugliest kitchen, I am saving pennies to redo as I please, but hello...I have a sick horse who gobbles all my money up! ;)
Smells GOOOOD!
My next day to be with Laz is Thursday morning and I may bring the Parents if they want to play in the cold!