Struggle bus.

We WERE making progress, but now? Not so much.


A lot of this is still happening…

It seems Subi is back on a backwards slide and has regressed since Friday. Since Sunday a week ago? I finally felt like he was moving forward with his grief and we might get through this. He was eating in his stall at night, laying down, and while not necessarily happy, generally content.

Since Saturday, not so much. He’s more or less back to where he was before. Stall walking, desperate to be out in the morning, and being a jerk (trying to run me over and/or bucking and rearing like this morning). Each day seems to get worse. He’s not trying to be bad, but he’s just… miserable. And it’s heartbreaking to see.


Miss him being happy

I’ve put some feelers out for a new horse, but emotionally, I’m not ready yet. I want to take my time and find the right horse and I think waiting a few months would be better for everyone. Especially when the first horse that came along was a coming 5 year old TB cross with a good brain, started over fences. He was free lease that probably would end up given to me and I just…couldn’t. For so many reason. I didn’t even want to look. I mean, yes, it was greener than I need/want, but, I’m NOT READY. So… yeah.


Miss him so much

So, right now I’m looking to borrow something for a few months. A trainer friend has a horse I might be able to borrow, but she has to work out a few details (make sure her clients are OK for one). It would open up a spot for a border for the winter for her. Crossing my fingers this one works out. He’s a nice horse, but if it doesn’t, she’ll help me find something to borrow.

My goal here? Change the herd dynamics and give Subi something else to focus on. He needs a new friend and a change of scenery.



flashback to happier times. 

Blogging Bob: “except he’s such a jerk.”

Ah Blob. It’s about time I catch up on some lesson recaps. Or, more accurately, start recapping lessons again. I mean, I’m not going to even try to recap all my missed lessons. But, some lessons did happen.


Last night (and the last couple lessons), the focus was on maintaining a consistent forward pace. The week before, I ran into the issue of running out of gas leaving the in gate for my inside line and it sucked. Basically, I got over the in, landed, did NOT move away from the fence, then Blob decided it was time for a lead change and I decided we most certainly were NOT attempting the out.

So, goal? Not to do that again.

Unfortunately, I struggled a bit cantering on the flat and was doing a weird twisty thing with my body. Up the quarter line on the left lead, Blob will throw in all the changes in the world if you’re not careful, so, in an attempt not to do that, I was a little too active. I was also recovering from the pneumonia shot in my right arm (and flu in my left) and right arm weakness was playing a role… Lol. Still, our left to right change was spot on and we continued around, past the in gate (aided my some crop because, er, leg was not enough), and the right lead canter was a touch better, less the weird twisty stuff I was doing. We finished with another acceptable change (right to left) and celebrated with a nice walk (er, stand) break and Blobber fell asleep.


“Are you talking about ME?” 

We warmed up with the tiniest of fences, the outside single, which was basically just the flower boxes and a pile of poles left over from tiny pony kids earlier. Left lead, once we figured out balance through a circle for a nice canter, was lovely, and right lead, we got over it, but continued back around for a much nicer second attempt. I did have to re-remember a little “tug, tug” from Ranger days because, while less extreme, a bit of head dragging was occurring. One thing I did realize is I like horses with higher head carriages while jumping. Subi, Bob, etc.

Next, we attempted the inside straw bales around to the inside line. I HATE THE INSIDE LINE. I have this issue of turning too late and losing gas (see above). The first time, I think the single just sucked so much that we started completely over just to get a nice canter. OK, what really happened is that I forgot the squeezing 3 strides out and just stayed back with my body so, because I did that, Blob jumped and I got left behind and it was super ugly. Take 2? I rode, added leg and it was better and then, again, the inside line?  I turned late, but got off the ground, and was forced to ride every single step to the out. It was fine, but I felt like I had to work too hard.

So the thing about the line was that turning late is USUALLY better than turning too early. Except, it my case, I get sucked into the in gate because I actually use my rail, and I don’t seem to have a strong enough right leg (I need to ride more). But, if you turn too early, based on ring setup, horses typically assume that they’re heading down the quarter line…


Not to be left out, Miss Marble!

Take 2 (er, 3? if you include the first failure?) again I was fine for the single, and turned earlier for the inside line which allowed me to keep the forward momentum from the single which carried me across the fence and the line rode well! Woohoo! So, trick here? Turn a touch earlier than I normally would or I get sucked into the gate and it becomes a little be too hard. I guess early for me isn’t exactly early, but straight? Who knows…

After a break where we talked about horses and Bob (see the end of this post), we finished up with a course that included way too many lead changes during the “wake up you idiot phase” because Bob, being Blob, was convinced he was finished and I couldn’t be serious with my canter… Oh Blob…

Our course? Inside pink single, around to outside single, inside line, straw bales. Honestly? It went REALLY REALLY WELL. Nailed every. single. distance. And every lead change we needed. And it was fun. I really like this horse you guys. He makes me work, ride, and be assertive. But, if I ride, he rewards me and does everything.

So, my trainer is pretty sure his owner might give him to me, except, the problem is, he’s a jerk. Bob, who is perfect to ride, goes on trail rides, is dead quiet. Is a complete, utter, jerk. To the point that he can be dangerous. And, that is probably a no go. Trainer thinks it is. There is no way my husband could handle him. He bites. He can be downright mean. And I don’t know that I want something like that at home.


Really Blob, why are you how you are? 

So, the horse that could probably teach me everything I ever need and want to know, is a complete ass.

Nice, right?

I haven’t had to deal with too much of his jerk behavior. Though I did the one day I came out to ride right after I lost Batt. He was napping in his stall and didn’t want to be disturbed. Ears pinning. Snapping. Threatening. His threats are a warning of what could come. I wasn’t in the head space to deal with it, but I know how to now. Trainer got him out with a combo of halter tossing and kind words whenever he backed down. On the crossties? He was an angel.

The worst part? We get along really well and I think he actually likes me. But for now, this is a no go.

Thanks Blob for being a jerk.


When in doubt, bribery?

Feeling a little extra sad today so I’m going to focus on some positives rather than my empty stall and broken heart.

The vet told me, if necessary, I could up Subi’s reserpine. I don’t feel it was necessary, but it did provide me the opportunity to give him an extra dose so that he’s getting it at night vs morning. He’s most stressed in his stall vs in the field, especially first thing in the morning so, even though it’s long lasting, I felt giving it to him so that he was getting the max benefit while in his stall seemed like a good idea. Bonus? Because he’s not stressing to go out, he’s SO MUCH EASIER to dose. I started Saturday night and he’s been calmer each morning. This morning (Monday), he even had shavings in his tail.


This is not extreme, is it?

Subi’s love affair with alfalfa continues. I bought a couple 120+lbs bales of western alfalfa and even if he won’t eat anything else, he’ll pick at that. I broke down and fed him some outside on his really bad days (Jiminy loves it too. Of course he does), but now, stall only. He’s shunning other hay. He’s picking at other hay outside now that alfalfa has dried up.

He does eat grain outside. Some days more than other (he now gets 3 meals to see how much he eats–it’s a full time job feeding this horse).


Best little sidekick. 

Subi has eaten AND cleaned his bucket 2 nights in a row in his stall. I admit it. I bribed him. First night? 3 quarts of senior mixed with… shredded carrots and crushed peppermints topped with carrot butts and peppermints. Last night? 4.5 quarts of senior, purina outlast mixed with… yep, shredded carrots and crushed peppermints topped with, carrots and peppermints. He appreciates that we HURRY UP with the medication so he can go eat his candy. I am not ashamed that I’m bribing my horse to eat.

Yes, he’s lost SO MUCH WEIGHT due to not eating for a week… But, it could be worse. I’ll be adding in fat once he’s more consistent…

And finally, we worked with weekend. Time on the lunge line (he was lame on Friday at the walk… we only walked and Saturday he decided he wanted to trot and was sounder at the trot though still lame at the walk). And then I was suicidal… sat on his back, bareback, with a halter, for the first time in 3-4 years. It was 30 seconds, I had no steering or brakes, but whatever. Next up… clicker training.


Never thought I’d do this again…

Yesterday and today? Sofa time with the hallmark channel and puppies and kitties because that was just about all I could manage (well, then I dragged myself to work today for a late shift).

Animals and Grief: A journal club discussion

In an attempt to keep up regular content… Apologies in advance for the depressing nature. To balance the depression, this post may also get a little nerdy.

Subi isn’t handling the loss of his best friend well at all so, me, being a librarian, turned to journal literature for answers. I should clarify that. Me, being a medical librarian, turned to journal literature for answers.


Shock of all shocks, Subi ate something. 

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of scientific research on the subject of horses and grief. PubMed, you let me down. Fine, PubMed hasn’t let me down (well, yes it has, but those issues run deeper). Anyway, turning to Agricola and a search that shames my research librarian’s heart, I discovered the follow article:

Dickinson GE, Hoffmann HC. The difference between dead and away: An exploratory study of behavior change during companion animal euthanasia. J Vet Behav. 2016;15:61-65. doi:10.1016/J.JVEB.2016.08.073

It’s somewhat canine focused, but does address horses. It confirms much of the research is anecdotal. And this was solely survey based instrument, but it’s something. I’ve pulled out some parts of the article (citation above from Journal of Veterinary Behavior — it’s an Elsevier article and likely isn’t available open access… if you’re having difficulty located a copy or accessing it through your library, email me)

Regarding horses’ reactions to euthanasia and death, a 58-year-old male veterinarian said that “I have noticed on many occasions that while leading an infirmed horse to a specific area in the pasture to be euthanized, other horses initially want to follow but are suddenly turned away when the horse to be put down ‘whinnies’ to them.” In the same way, a 54-year-old female veterinarian reported that on 2 occasions when horses were stable mates and very close, following euthanasia of one of the horses, the other horse walked within 12 or so feet of the body and started grazing. This veterinarian believes that “they understand being away and being dead the presence of the body allowed some level of acceptance” (63).

So much truth here. With Hayley, I never walked the boys up to her, but Subi knew. He possibly could see her body from the field. I’m sure he understood (Batt screamed for her, but wasn’t frantic). With Batt, I think he’s missing the closure which is why it’s so much harder. If we lost him at home, I’d have walked him over. If I had more time before the clinic, I’d have brought him over too, but I ran out of time. The acceptance phase helps so much.

Opinion on why animals exhibit behavior changes: “…the most frequent explanation was animal grief and empathy (i.e., veterinarians suggested that animals grieve loss similar to humans and are aware that an animal is ill and/or deceased, and they might even see the illness before humans do), followed by responding to the cues of anxiety, emotionality, and/or grief of the humans in the room…”(63).


Chewy sent me flowers

This is also true. Long term illnesses I think are easier to accept. Hayley vs Batt. The horses knew Hayley was sick. But Batt? Not so much. I’m not convinced he didn’t have gut issues (tumors) which could explain the chronic impactions, but that’s just me guessing here and I don’t think Subi would know THAT. I kick myself for not getting Subi over during the day to see him, but he wasn’t bad yet… And then it spiraled so fast.

Re: human emotions. I’m working so hard on this one to stay neutral and not let my emotions play out around him. It’s hard, but I’m trying. Especially because he is so sensitive. I carry treats instead and teach bad manners but it changes the focus and forces me to focus on something else instead. When leading to field, we’re back to our walk/halt/back/halts again to get brain engagement. Positive note? He’s starting to come to me in the field again when I call his name.

“With 29 years of practicing under my belt, I can sincerely state that I believe a bond exists between animals (both inner-species and cross-species), call me crazy, but I [have] seen genuine empathy in the animal world at times” (63).

1000% true. Not crazy at all.

…it is conceivable that changes in companion animal behavior witnessed by the veterinarians in our sample reflect expressions of grief. However, is an expression of grief appropriate to explain an animal’s change in behavior at the time another animal is being euthanized, or does grief result after death is realized and the playmate or pack member is no longer present? This question betrays a shortcoming in our research results in that it appears some veterinarians conflated explanations for behavior changes at the time of death with behavioral changes that occur after death (64).

In Subi’s case, it’s the loss/lack of his friend’s presence as he wasn’t there, but it’s definitely an interesting question and WHY more tracking should be done.

In humans, fMRI studies have successfully located grief within specific regions of the brain, with different brain regions associated with grief that is evoked by word sversus images (Gündel et al., 2003). If nonhuman animals are reacting to the chemical breakdown of the body or the release of pheromones associated with death, an fMRI study might be able to ascertain the neurobiologic pathway responsible for nonhuman animals’ death awareness (64).

Mostly including this because it would be nice to have SCIENCE to go along with the anecdotal stuff. I work with some faculty who do a lot with fMRI (humans) but it would be interesting on the animal side.

Connecting this all back to Subi. He struggling but after a long (well, 15 minutes which is a long time to talk on the phone with your vet when no one is bleeding) phone call with the vet yesterday, she’s convinced he’s grieving and just needs time. He’s smart enough not to starve himself even if he’ll only eat the bare minimum. We’re going to continue with the reserpine but can at some point switch to an anti anxiety if necessary. Add in ulcergard –1/4 tube (he’s on nexium so likely same difference). And stick to a routine. Possibly offer him Batty’s stall.


No one is interested in the picture me and Jimmy… lol

But, what she also mentioned that I never thought about before, is he doesn’t have the strongest personality. He’s always been the herd leader, but had always had a side kick. At his first boarding barn (even before me), it was the Subi and Ashby show. Then it was Subi supported by Josie. Then Subi and Hayley. Then Subi and Batt. So, he’s always had someone right by his side that he could push around (or push him around) or that worshiped him. Now he’s just him. Jiminy is just…Jimmy. As independent as they come. He doesn’t NEED Subi like everyone else did. Subi was codependent. But, it’s interesting to think about it that way.

So, in the stall each night even though he’d rather stay out, because that’s the routine. Hopefully eventually we’ll get there.

I did compromise and agree that dinner could be fed outside at 6pm. Subi likes that. And breakfast outside too. He likes that as well (though doesn’t eat as well for that meal).

**I have found several more interesting articles through the references but this post is really long… We’ll see if the journal club has a second meeting…**

Another day.

Continuing to post just to stay in the routine.

Sunday I forced myself to head out and ride and Blob was a good boy (though he wasn’t into the idea of working and I needed my trainer to get him out of his stall — better head space and I could have, but not that day). Not in the mood to do a real entry on my lesson, but I do have media of our final course. Video suggestion courtesy of my trainer. It was good because I hadn’t been willing to use my camera since Wednesday and the last photo was…not a good one (can’t delete it though). Having someone else use it? Much better.

Anyway, good boy Blob. We’re getting more consistent and I’m getting better with the darn changes.

Meanwhile, while uploading that, I found this video of Batty from Wednesday while we were waiting for the vet.

Wasn’t feeling good, but was happy enough to follow my husband around the round pen. The walked for who knows how long, just like this.

Subi is still…struggling. I’d feel so much better if he’d relax a bit. I left him this morning eating fancy hay under a tree in the pouring rain. No grain/pulp overnight or this morning (again) but he ate his breakfast at 6pm last night. Again. That seems to be when I can get him to eat breakfast. Outside. Under a tree.

Jiminy helps eat. Because he’s a turd. And is going to be 1000lbs after all this.


At least Jiminy WAS at a good weight? Subi bit him 4-5 times. Didn’t deter the little bugger. 


Thank you all for the kind comments. I’ll try and respond at some point, I’m just not ready yet.

I’m missing Batty so freaking much. Him and his big nose. The best selfie horse ever. I haven’t brought myself to go into his stall. Erik picked it Wednesday, but his buckets are still full of water (unless he emptied them today). We’ll eventually move Jiminy before winter, but not yet. I’m not ready and I need to scrub the walls.

Subi. Subi is struggling as much, if not more, than I am. He’s not eating and is anxious and stressed. This morning, he barreled past Erik out of his stall and galloped loose around the neighborhood for forever. Fine, 10-15 minutes. I’m sure my neighbors’ yards are torn up. He noticed horses across the creek and tried to find out how to get to them (they were screaming back). There is no easy way as they all involve steep hills and jumping creeks. He almost ran me down and crashed into trees. We’re talking blind panic. Finally he ran into his turn out. And continues screaming but stopped running as fast (exhaustion) and eventually stopped. We got Jiminy in.

I ended up calling the emergency vet number and talked to the on-call vet who happened to be an intern who was there with Batty and was prepared that Subi might not deal (I’m guessing they pushed this case off to an intern as it wasn’t critical). She came out, brought drugs, and even though he was calm, got him calmer. Then we started reserpine because, at this point, we both need help. He ate 3/4 of his breakfast at 4:45 outside which is something. I’m going to leave him out a little later tonight because he seems happier outside before bringing him in. I’d leave him outside completely, but he won’t eat hay outside and he’s grazing some but there really isn’t that much grass.

So ER vet call 3 this week.

Needless to say, I’m not coping to well and am considering giving up horses and taking up pottery. I can be the angry potter or something. But, part of me wishes I could react to all of this like Subi and just run around, out of control screaming or throwing things…

I just miss him so much. My heart is so broken. I still have to cancel the rest of his supplements, but I can’t yet because I need to give a reason why and it’s hard.

I hate this!!!!

Goodbye Batthorse

I wasn’t planning on posting yet, but it’s 3 am and I find I’m suddenly awake, traumatized, and crying my eyes out.

The last 36 (well, let’s include now and make it 48) hours have been a nightmare.

Batts came in colicky Tuesday night. Eating but not. I took vitals, gave banamine, tossed him out in the round pen for grass and ultimately watched him for hours, eventually changing to hourly checks. He ate soup overnight but 4am led to a vet call, more banamine, and an agreed 8am visit.

We tubed him and by 12:30 he needed more and vet was back out. More fluids and impaction was now described as major. Tube was left in for Erik and I to give fluids in 2 hours. We did, it was fine. 2 hours later, it wasn’t. We got him to clinic at 6:15 they tried more fluids but lots of reflux so they basically pumped his stomach. He blew through 2 sedatives while we were there. He was on IV and they hoped that would help. We left and he was down in the most gut wrenching position. My last photo of him. I won’t share.

Call came at 8:20. A 2 ring hang up. I wouldn’t let him suffered. His heart rate was sky rocketing. He was miserable. They kept him comfortable enough for us to drive over (15 min) to save goodbye. When we got there the vet said she suspected he might have ruptured.

He was a shell of himself. He was barely standing, legs shaking. He hung on for hugs, ear rubs, and kisses. I said enough. He wasn’t even him. We left the stall and he went down. Still, the rest was hard to see. I tried to just focus on his hooves until it was over. So much pain even though I tried not to let him suffer.

The interns brushed out his tail and braided it after it was all over and I’ve had Subi sniff it. He’d been screaming for his best friend.

My heart is shattered into 10 million pieces. I never wanted him to go like this. He was the best, goofy, treat loving horse ever. Always ready to explore, always ready to eat, always up for a hug or an adventure.

I just want to run away.

Blogging Bob: I jumped the barrels…

And I didn’t die.

Rode on Friday this week due to Halloween. It was cold and windy and all that. So we rode inside. The problem with riding inside was that there are these stupid evil barrels. And I didn’t want to jump them.


Bob didn’t see the point either

Supposedly no horse has had issues with them.

That wasn’t the point

I WAS having issues with them.

I went into a long discussion about rotational falls and dying.

I negotiated an extra ground pole.  Kids, always negotiate with your trainers.

I got over them. No one died.

I didn’t have to jump them again.

The end.