Yes it was certainly not my intention to get a mare! I always say Scarlett chose me, but we are good partners and I don't want to give up on her, not as long as she seems to enjoy what we're doing. But I also want to do what's best for her performance-wise. Here is what I know of her background:
Scarlett is a Thoroughbred, bred to be a racehorse. She was trained at the track but never had the speed for racing. I know the breeder; he has a reputation for quality bloodlines and having trainers who train the horse to be ridden, not just raced. When he has horses that don't work out at the track, his daughter (my riding instructor) evaluates them and retrains the promising ones for hunter/jumper, which she then shows or sells. That is where Scarlett ended up. I recall seeing her when she was first 4, in 2005. She always seemed athletic and pleasant. Very tall and elegant (in fact, her registered name is Regal Ruler). She was a favorite of my instructor's daughter because of her willingness to please and jump anything -- the kids used to jump picnic tables with her! So that would have taken place when she was only 3 or 4, because I bought her months before her 5th birthday.
No known injuries except November 2005 she got out of her paddock and found the alfalfa barn. When she was discovered, she was standing with her legs back but never colicked or showed any colicky or laminitic symptoms. (She will still occassionally stretch out like that, with her hindlegs out, but it just looks like she's stretching). She also cut her nose and required stitches, but it seemed to heal nicely and there is barely a scar.
A few months prior to this she contracted strangles during a barn outbreak. She was one of the first to get it, but got over it very quickly and never got really sick. She may have been vaccinated for strangles as a baby but not since then.
We participated in our first show in May 2006. She did very well, got all of her leads without being asked. About a week later during a practice is when she started balking at moving to the right and "cantering in place." It started mid-lesson, she had been doing fine until I tried making a sharp right turn to a jump. When riding her a few days later, she started crow-hopping after a jump when landing on the right lead. She had not exhibited these behaviors before.
First week of June was when she had the colicky behavior over a 2-3 day period, seemed to come and go, she wouldn't want to eat, would lie down, but was always calm. She has not since had an episode like that until about 2 weeks ago, which lasted very briefly.
End of June my vet did lameness tests and she was fine, except she would not want to pick up her hind legs and have them held. I should also insert here that she was always nasty about picking up her feet; at first her hind legs were easier than her front. Then during this time period of difficulty, she was very reluctant to pick up her hind legs and would actually kick out. They seemed very tight. (She is much, much better now, freely picks up fronts and backs, although still does not like her backs held up very long. But does not seem to be tight as they were previously, this might be behavioral).
By end of June she was not moving forward at all, either direction. When longeing she would either twist her neck, or drop her nose to the ground. Again, almost exclusively to the right. We rode her in different saddles, bits, halter and lead rope, different riders, to rule out behavior, fit, etc.. No difference. We then gave her Banamine and rode her, and she was much better.
End of June we put her on Tucoprim to rule out kidney infection. No difference. We palpated her and discovered the large right ovary. She was put on the Regumate and tried riding again. No difference.
End of July (july 25) I took her to an osteopath. I will try to recreate findings and prescriptions:
-stands with elbows abducted away from chest, worse on left side
-right ovary larger than orange. Pulling on her, causing muscle spasms on right side of body.
-left ovary normal sized, seems to move.
-saddle fit is good
-TMJs are okay, recommend getting teeth table surfaces balanced.
-rectum tipped forward
-right uterine horn big and mushy
-cervix closed, even though had big 48mm newly ovulated follicle on right
-would quiver over flank when right ovary was handled
-has area of inflammation that bulges down into her pelvic cavity to the left of her left tuber sacrale. Not painful, no ultrasonographic evidence of past injury or fracture.
-painful if pull tail on left side
-acupuncture done on pelvis and sacrum, dry needles on neck
-adjusted left scapula
-given panacur power pak with 2 quests
-released right ovary
-right ligament to bladder tight and released
I had her teeth power floated during this time (she had previously only had floats with hand tools). There were some issues that could affect the bit set but my vet felt that basically that wouldn't be the sole cause of her problems.
One month later:
-parasite count was 3 PHPF (prior to panacur PPk and Quest)
-showed signs of heat on August 20/21
-bladder moving better
-less inflammation in uterus/bladder/tubes
-some inflammation on left underneath her vulva
-released a little on bladder, right ovary still big but mostly free
-cranial sacral therapy/lymph gland drainage - findings: Not enough movement in lungs, perhaps some scarring?; thoracocervical junction compression, needs to be decompressed; lumbarsacral junction: trauma? there is compression and edema and some residual tissue damage from ?; performed thoracic diaphragm release; neck not flowing, left corner high.
-right side of lungs slight congestion, no other abnormalities.
-Ulstrasound of LG-S1 joint
-Inflammation and kissing spines L5-L6
-Thickened dorsal-spinous ligament at lumbo-sacral area
-flushed uterus with Ticarcillin (3 flushings)
-put on marshallow root for lungs, 1 tbsp 2x/day (still on this)
-administered 3 bottles traumeel, 3 bottles zeel (injection at L5-L6)
-Released diaphragm, adjusted CO and neck; adjusted sacrum; bilaterial anterior twisted facting right
-Stands with elbows turned away from her side
-Given green clay 2x/day for 2 weeks
-Detox (I think it was MOP)
She was ridden after this and was much freer, seemed to find contact with mouth or bending at poll painful. When I took her home and rode her, though, I did not find this to be true at all -- it seemed to be about 85% training (figuring out that she didn't have to work if she wasn't moving forward well) and 50% pain. I could still tell there was some discomfort. When I longed her in the round pen she still twisted her neck. But for instance she was more willing when I rode her down the driveway, then when I was in the arena. She was twisting her neck at the trot.
She had more cranial sacral treatments in mid-September, and work on the right ovary.
-released right ovary, 3x the size of the left with 25 and 20mm follicles
-adjusted C0, C1, did radiographs and showed changes between C1 and C2, and C4-C5
-put on HCG to shed follicles
She saw Janek the end of September. He found her right ovary to be normal, but said her left ovary, while not enlarged, was very tight. Felt it had been neglected with focus on right ovary. He loosened and while Scarlett was very well behaved you could tell she was in a great deal of pain from this. However, she got a stone bruise a few days after this (which I didn't know until I got on her) and was extremely eager to be ridden, I could hardly keep her from moving! It seemed to do her a world of good.
Personality: Scarlett is a dominant mare but not mean. She is pastured with a 13-year old pregnant mare, a yearling and a 3-year old filly. She gets possessive of me when I walk in the pasture and will pin her ears back to the other horses and chase them away from me.
Scarlett started "taking care of me" almost from the beginning, even though she was only 4. One of the things when I noticed when I first rode Scarlett was her sensitivity to my leg. I had ridden bareback all of my life but since I had lazy horses it was not an issue when I started taking English lessons -- until her. I liked the sensitivity, but on our 3rd lesson we had a "runaway" incident. I lost my stirrups and while she got faster because I was squeezing tighter, she wasn't really uncontrollable -- just confused. I got her stopped and the next day when I rode her and asked for an upward transition, she refused! It was though she was asking, "Are you sure? Remember what happened the last time you asked me to go faster ....!" We have since had to find the medium between her reluctance to respond to my leg, and responding when she should, and have done very well with this.
Scarlett does not seem to twist her neck so much when we jump a course with direction changes, as she does when she is just going consistently to the right. She also does it only at the canter. If I ride her with a crop and she sees it, she is visibly irritated that I have it -- shakes her head, speeds up, tries to crow hop a bit -- I don't even have to use it. But she tries to straighten her neck out. So I think she is trying to avoid working on that side, but she is trying to because it's not comfortable. I'm trying to eliminate that discomfort. It is also harder for her to quickly pick up that right lead, whereas the left is no problem (and this was not an issue before). Also, she will approach a jump with her shoulders bowed, but will straighten out and pay attention in time to jump, so she can do it if it's necessary. And she doesn't refuse a jump, ever. When we try a higher jump, she twitches her ears at me as though asking if I'm sure I want to do it -- and then she does it. Like I said, when I lose my balance, she shifts underneath me and slows down until I right myself, then keeps going. Because she still does all of these things, I can't attribute it all to behavior, yet when I have a more aggressive person ride her, she DOES do better -- but even they note the obvious tightness when going to the right.
My husband took some video yesterday at a show, I'll try to get it posted and send a link to see if you notice anything in her movement. I wanted to insert a photo so you could see her coloring and also her expression when jumping, but I haven't figured out how to do that yet! If I do, I will.
I would really appreciate any insights or thoughts anyone might have. Thank you!