No side effects so far

19 03 2010

Picasso did well last night. The owner of Circle Oak Ranch, Ron, went out and checked on Picasso around 8:30. Said he was quiet and had good gut sound! I went out to see Pica this morning for a shortened hyrdohorse session (did 7 minutes, taking it easy for a few days), and he seemed great! Now when we first started the hydrohorse, I was told that eventually horses get to the point where upon coming out of the hydrohorse they are all jazzed and excited. We have reached that point. Picasso comes out charging and usually has to be restrained. Then once he is hosed off he is usually led to go graze. On the way over, he gets quite acrobatic… Today, he had to go back to his stall while they mowed the paddocks (why the are mowing when they have free grazers was puzzling lol). So he was mighty miffed and not going out IMMEDIATELY. He was striking and trying to push me in the direction of the grass. I told him to knock it off and it out right defiance and angst, he pulled quite an impressive rear! Cheeky….. Sorry no pictures of it. 😉

Here are a couple of pictures of Picasso being “cheeky” before we went to Circle Oak. I love this first one because he and I are in sync with our steps.

This is quite an impressive shot. Not sure how he managed to bend that way, but he did…..





Adding more rehab work

23 02 2010

At Circle Oak, Picasso has been getting progressively more “stuff” added to his rehab schedule. He is up to 45 minutes of hand walking and that means he can get 5 minutes of trotting!!!! Monday-Wednesday-Friday he goes into the hydrohorse for more time. He gets an extra 30 seconds tacked on to each session. Tomorrow he will be doing 9 minutes! We are working up to 15 minutes per session. We also have been experimenting with how to get Picasso to stretch his neck out in the hydrohorse….. I’ve been taking his Jolly Ball and dangling it in front of him and asking him to touch it. This usually results in him stretching out his neck to touch the ball. Mission accomplished! If only he would hold his head there…..

Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday, he gets to go on the Eurocizer for a few minutes. Today we tried to see if he could trot in the eurocizer, with mixed success….

He already finds it annoying to have to have his speed policed by a big metal gate… so to add to that, he now can have some energy and trot..but still be policed by the big bad gate. We pumped the eurocizer speed up to trot speed cause he was so excited he was trotting a the walk speed. (eyeroll) So after increasing the speed, nothing really got better. He still crammed himself up again the lead gate, head straight in the air. Lovely….. Megan is going to experiment with when to trot him in there, i.e. after 15 minutes of hand walk, in the afternoon, after he gets his calm and cool. He seems to be quieter in the afternoons anyway, so maybe all of that will help is calming him down. After he stopped trotting, we let him walk for a few minutes, and he FINALLY did a nice long and low walk. I think he was tired.

Picasso is also getting as much turn out as weather and his boredom will allow. So far he has been averaging 1 hour per turn out. After about an hour, he gets bored of grass and starts to play. But yesterday he did a whopping 2 hours!!!! It was sunny and warm, and he was in heaven. Then the horse in the neighboring paddock began to run and he joined in. Party time…. over…..

He is starting to get some more muscle across his back and hind end! Yeah!!





Pick It Up

17 01 2010

So Picasso is now 3 weeks into his rehab with the hydrohorse treadmill. We have so far only been doing 5 minutes. He has some inflammation in the right stifle, so we are staying with 5 minutes until that goes down. He is up to 20 minute hand walks. A couple weeks ago I started to experiment with what I call “sleepy powder” or “nap nap powder,” a feed through calming supplement. I am using a brand that contains tryptophan, the chemical in turkey that makes you sleepy. I have had varied success. The powder takes about an hour to take effect and only seems to last for 4-5 hours. So I have been giving him two doses a day. But I have to give it an hour before I want to do anything with him. Not the most efficient method. Picasso is also getting about 30 minutes of turn out on grass. As long as he isn’t running around being a lunatic, he is allowed to have his turn out.

Now, when given an hour to take effect, the tryptophan powder DOES calm him down. It doesn’t make him any less alert, but when I give him the full hour to be fully effected by the tryptophan, he walks quietly and without a single capriole!

We have also started trick training to fight the boredom! I have been following Allen Pogue of Imagine a Horse for years, but just haven’t done any trick lately. But now I have PLENTY of time to work on them. On inspiration from a fellow boarder, Francis, I taught Picasso to “touch.” He got that pretty quickly. Shortly after he learned that, I watched a recent Allen Pogue trick training video about using treats to teach tricks. I also contacted Allen asking him what tricks we could do without involving a round pen and circles. He suggested that rather than touching, I should teach Picasso to “pick up” objects. I am starting with a ball cap. The idea was he would chew or bite the cap, and he would get a treat. I offered it to Picasso, and he had no interest in putting the cap in his mouth. In fact, I think he clamped his teeth shut….

Hmmm……. So I tried one of Allen’s suggestions which was to put the cap in the mouth and then scratch the horse’s withers to induce not only pleasure but they also usually clamp down their teeth. If they drop the cap, the scratching stops. Picasso did not find this to be a worthwhile reward for putting anything in his mouth. I finally resorted to pushing the cap’s brim between his teeth, immediately saying “GOOD” and then giving him a cookie. It took 2 days with 5 short sessions, but late last night while ranch sitting at the ranch, he got it! I present the cap brim, he grabs it and he gets a cookie! Once he learns to hold it, I will get a picture…

In February, Picasso will be moved to Circle Oak to continue his hydrohorse treadmill rehab. The challenge will be his housing. Circle Oak is set up on some nice rolling hills. Sadly, Picasso is not cleared for hills yet….. So he will need to be in a stall. The stalls are very nice, but do not have attached paddocks. He will go coo coo if he doesn’t have considerable time outside. So we will need to create some sort of turn out for him that is both small enough that he doesn’t get up a good run as well as be flat. The challenge……





Picasso becomes a seahorse!

5 01 2010

So today Picasso started the hydrohorse treadmill portion of his rehab. We were graciously ferried over to Circle Oak by Leslie Walker. Thank you Leslie! We got there, and Picasso was prepped for the treadmill with a warm bath. He went right in without hesitation. Once he got to the bottom and over the treadmill, it was turned on, and he got started! Pica’s back was nice and round, and he was moving! He is starting out with 5 minutes on the treadmill. I was again very proud of Picasso for being such a pleasant citizen!

After another hose down, I put a warm cooler on him and back in the trailer he went! We go back again on Thursday.

In preparation for starting the hydrohorse treadmill therapy, I contacted the makers of the treadmill for information on what schedule would be best for Picasso’s condition. They referred me to a couple of vets who have long term experience with using the hydrohorse for rehabilitation cases. One of these vets was Dr Van Snow. I spoke with Dr Snow over the holidays. He said he primarily uses stem cells on tendon and ligament damage. He then uses the treadmill with those cases. Dr Snow said he rarely works with bone cyst cases because they tend not to come back. We discussed how he uses the treadmill and a good schedule for Picasso to follow.

After talking with Dr Snow, I met with my own vet, Tere. She and I discussed Dr Snow’s recommendations, and she said they sounded reasonable. I was frustrated with the fact that no one seemed to know what to do in this case! After some discussion, I started to understand that what we are doing really hasn’t been done much before. Tere told me bone cyst cases are mostly considered “dead end” cases. Rarely do horses with bone cysts get “experimented” with, so no one really used stem cells to repair the cysts. I mean, there are people who have used stem cells in bone cysts. But few have been successful, and I have yet to speak to any vet that has repeatedly used stem cells in combination with the hydrohorse treadmill as a rehab program for a horse with bone cysts. It may have occured occasionally, but not enough to be able to detect best practices. So basically, we’re contributing to a bit of history here. If Picasso is able to make major repairs to his cysts, we might be one of the very few successes! Fingers crossed!

I knew the odds going in. Bone cysts are really complex. Basically, the bone structure is degraded in and around the area of the cyst. And Picasso has them in a very sensitive place, right at the ends of his femoral condyles. right smack dab in the middle of the weight bearing portion of the joint.

Picasso is an incredibly special horse. He will be 7 yrs old at the end of January. That means I will have had him for 6 years! He is one of the most intelligent horses I have had the privilege of knowing. He also is a pretty talented guy, very aware of his body and loves to use it! Recently, he went for a world record of the number of caprioles he could fit into 30 seconds. I’m sure he beat the previous record holder…… Picasso also has pizzazz! He thinks he is one hot biscuit. A horse like that deserves all the chances I can give him.