Before I rode Dawn today, I took some photos of the crew. Red and Pie were close together (Red in front, Pie behind) as always - this is about the farthest Red is ever away from Pie:
Red keep grazing while giving me the eye:
Pie took a big bite:
It always surprises me how far from side to side horses' jaw move while they're chewing:
Dawn was busy grazing too:
And putting some effort into it:
An an obligatory "beautiful butt" picture:
Dawn has been complaining at saddling time - pinned ears when I start the saddling process and even more protests when girthing up - for a while now. I'm slow on the uptake, apparently - it's clear the first thing to look at is saddle fit. I've had to shim Dawn's saddle all along, but recently she's been gaining some weight and we've dropped some holes on the billets. But today I thought about the shims - perhaps she needed fewer shims. I reduced the shims (which are pretty thin) from four to two on each side, and was interested to see that the saddle was sitting level - and she didn't mind saddling or girthing at all. Bingo! As she'd gained weight, of course she's also gained some in the withers and shoulders, so fewer shims were needed. Dawn, bless her heart, just kept asking for what she needed until I finally paid attention.
At least one horse at our barn has tested positive for Lyme - there's a new, much more accurate test now available from Cornell which also pinpoints where in the stages of infection a horse may be. Here's the CDC map for the highest risk areas for infection with Lyme disease. They test for three different antigens, one that's present only at the very beginning of infection, one that peaks early and then declines to zero at around five months, and one that starts slowly and then increases to a stable level and persists. The horse that tested positive for Lyme had a couple of symptoms that occur in equine Lyme infection - stiffness and unusual reactivity/spookiness. Other symptoms that can occur in horses include muscle soreness, grumpiness, and dislike of touch. Pie remains reactive and spooky, despite his otherwise calm disposition, and has always been somewhat tight in his muscles, and is often quite grumpy. In the summer and fall of 2011, Pie had several episodes of severe muscle soreness, extreme grumpiness - the the point that he actually bit another boarder, which is completely atypical of him - and extreme aversion to being touched or groomed, as well as one odd episode of laminitis. While we were doing our final EPM blood tests for Pie and Dawn, I had blood drawn for a Lyme test. Pie tested negative for the first two antigens and positive for the third - which means he has chronic Lyme and has been infected for at least 5 months. The treatment which is now recommended is fairly low-risk and easy to do - doxycycline pills. Co-infection with EPM is possible, and it may be that when we detected and treated Pie's first case of EPM last year, we failed to pick up that he also had Lyme. (Red tested negative to all three Lyme antigens, and Dawn has not been tested.) My vet/chiro is consulting with Cornell about what treatment options we could/should pursue with Pie at his antibody level - I don't have a good grasp of what the titer level means.
Red has completed 8 days of his paste Oroquin-10 treatment for possible EPM, or inflammation subsequent to EPM. I tested him on day 6 on the lunge, and was disappointed to find that his lameness in the left hind was essentially unchanged, although his neurological symptoms have pretty much gone away. It may well be that we have multiple things going on, so I'll retest him on the lunge on day 11 or so - after he's done with the paste treatment - and see what we've got. He'll also have a retest for EPM at about day 14 to see if his titer levels have changed, and my vet/chiro may try evaluating him for soundness before and after doing some muscle stretching and therapeutic ultrasound of the Achilles tendon area to see if that helps him.
I had a molar pulled this afternoon - the cumulative effect of Dawn kicking me in the jaw in 2009 and my falling off Pie on my head and face in 2011 did it in. So only Dawn got ridden today - I hope to be back in action very soon.
So a couple of mysteries clarified and one still remains . . .