Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tuckers Allergy Updates and A Miracle Solution!

My war on Tucker's allergies, has been relentless over the years, as I seek ways to relieve his misery. This has meant allergy testing, trying different products and supplements and even moving him from boarding barns where his allergies were worsened due to the location (which has opened my eyes and educated me in my quest for a farm of our own: I know which areas to avoid considering, due to heavy insect populations, either from heavily wooded areas or low lying areas which, when flooded, will lead to an increase in mosquitoes and noseeums).
My initial blog about Tuckers allergies can be accessed here:
All the gory details of his habronema from hell, his wounds that wouldn't heal and the loss of hair are detailed in this account.
It has been 2 years since I wrote that blog, and much has changed, including where Tucker lives and new products that have come into our lives. Time for an update and to tell you about a new product that may be the answer for your itchy horse!
In the 2 years since, Tucker has had 4 different homes. I left the barn I leased in Chuluota, in my attempt to get my horse life under control...driving 30 minutes each way, 2 times a day, 7 days a week for 6 years, not to mention all the money I was sinking into someone elses property, was taking its toll. I downsized, closed my horse rescue (mainly due to lack of money and other resources) and found a barn that, while it was just as far a drive, it required me going only once a day. It worked for a while. We had no major issues with Tucker's skin at that barn and things were going well until I moved to another barn which unbeknownst to me, was a hotbed for noseeums....lesson learned, always check out a potential barn on more than one occassion, and at different times of the day. The bugs were not bad at 9:00 in the morning when I first looked at the barn. However, when we moved the horses a few weeks later, in the afternoon, we were attacked almost immediately. The owner claimed they had never been so bad, but I am sure she was just saying that. We moved a month later.
We left another barn because of the noseeums and mosquitoes. He was being tortured, refusing to leave the confines of the overhang of the barn to go join his pasture mates in the field. He prefered the annoyance of the stable flies to the noseeums and mosquitoes that appeared after a rare deluge of 10 inches in the fall, which awakened a neverending blood seeking supply of the nasty creatures. I had to move Tucker.
We are now back where I was for 5 months last year, in an area that is mostly suburbia with a few farms left over from another era. One side of the pasture is boardered by residential homes and there is a middle school at the end of the lane. Lawns are manicured and treated for pests. It has made a pretty big change in Tucker's skin, though not a 100% improvement. He is still itchy, particularly his mane and tail, and he has devolped hive like bumps along his shoulders. Also, he reopened the spot on his nose...out of the blue, I came out one day to discover a bloody spot, covered by what seemed to be every fly on the property. I have been keeping the spot covered in the Equiderma/diaper rash ointment, and I learned that if I put TWO fly masks on him, I have a 50/50 chance of returning in the evening to find that he is wearing at least one of them! This week I noticed open sores along his mid-line. I already started him on Smart Pak's Bug Off at the beginning of April, and now he wears his fly sheet at night.
Last week, I ordered a new product from Hilton Herbs, called Bye Bye Itch. I had tried Wendalls Herbs Stop Itch years ago, but stopped after I realized that not only was it not working, but Tucker's allergy test revealed that he was allergic to dandylions, which was an wonder it wasn't working! Just by chance, I saw an ad for the Bye Bye Itch and so I looked it up on their website.
I was impressed that they had included a trial video and the trial data. The results looked promising. I was worried that it contained flax, which was also on Tucker's list of allergens, but their flaxseed is cooked, something we have never tried. It also contains brewers yeast, vegetable charcoal, buckwheat, nettle,  and diatomaceous earth. I decided to give it a try, as well as ordering the recommended Bye Bye Itch lotion, which contains coconut oil, aloe oil, msm and other essential oils.
It arrived 5 days ago. The supplement is a white gritty powder mixed with herbs. The smell is somewhat pleasant...moreso than the Bug Off. At Tucker's size, it is recommended he get 6 scoops a day, which I have broken into 2 feedings. As with most new products, he was a bit skeptical and didn't exactly lick the bucket clean, but he did polish it all eventually.
Tuckers tail today
I applied the lotion to his tail, which has been rubbed raw at the base. DAMN! I wish I had taken a before picture. With just TWO applications, I realized this morning...HOLY CRAP...his tail has regrown in by more than 50%...after just 2 applications over 4 days. Then, I started going over his body. The welts on his shoulders? Gone by about 90%. There are just a few bumps and they are barely visible. Last night, I was a bit rushed, as I raced to get stalls done before an approaching storm....did I see him itching his mane? Defintely not as much, I realized, and the scabs at the base of his mane are gone. And his nose? Definitely looking better. The sores under his belly? Usually they volley back and forth between scabs and oozing sores. Today? They are dry, no scabs and on their way to healing!
Have I stumbled upon the miracle solution to Tucker's allergies? Well, let me just say, that after less than a week, the results are pretty staggering, and definitely impressive. I am, for the first time, excited that I have found product that will give him relief.

Tucker's nose today
In other skin updates, the habronema is still holding the same as it has for the past 2 years. It has been ages since we have seen the open, granulated, bloody mess that we dealt with for so many years. As soon as the season becomes warm, Tucker wears a fly boot on the leg to cover it. It is interesting that while I can put fly boots on all four legs, he will remove all boots except the one on his left front which covers the habronema scar! He apparently understands the importance of keeping it covered. It may never regress, but that is a chance I am not willing to take.
Tucker's habronema at its worst (above) and today (right)

I realize I can never let my guard down when it comes to Tuckers allergies. He still gets his allergy vaccine every month and in the summer, he wears his fly sheet. He is bathed weekly with Eqyss Medicated shampoo. At the first sign of any hair loss or open sore, it is treated aggressively. Through micromanaging, I have reduced his allergy season from 6-9 months of sheer hell, to about 2 months. It has been 2 years since I have had to lather him from head to toe and from chest to sheath, with ointment every day and night. Overall, this has made for not only a happier horse, but a happier horse mom!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

American Invitational

With friends Stephanie Yee and Terri Koubek
Trophy table
Bike jump

The press conference

The first Saturday of April has always meant one thing for
me: the American Invitational, held in the Raymond James stadium in Tampa.
Celebrating its 40th year, the Invitational is open to only the best show jumpers in the world. One must be invited to attend, based upon set criteria. I have attended roughly 2 dozen of these events, including the inaugural event, held in the old Tampa stadium, in 1973. Back then, every
seat in the house was filled, and the horses were stabled under the stands in makeshift stalls.
I watched legendary rider Rodney Jenkens and Idle Dice win that year. You should have heard the stadium erupt in cheers! That year, it was called the $15,000 American Invitational. Over the years, the name changed from the Anheauser-Busch AI to the Michelob American Invitational, then the Budweiser American Invitational and finally, in 2010, it became known as the
Gene Mische American Inivitational. Mishe passed away later that year, but was proud of his contributions to the sport and industry, with the American Invitational as his proudest accomplishment.
I will always remember that first trip…we had just moved to Florida and my mother had sold our sporty Baracuda for a red AMC Matador station wagon, which caused great embarrassment to my brother and I. It had been in an accident (oh, darn!), so it was in the shop (where it would be stolen by joyriders, only to be found, unfortunately, safe and sound, the next day…even punks had better taste!), so we traveled to the Invitational in style…a rental Monte Carlo! Compared to the station wagon, it was so luxurious: what a way for a 10 year old to travel to the “big city” to see my first “fancy” horseshow! Back then, the seats were filled to capacity, and it saddens me today that the attendance numbers top out at less than 10,000.
Over the years, I saw memorable performances by Melanie Smith and Calypso, Lisa Jaquin and For the Moment, Greg Best and Gem Twist and Ian Miller and Big Ben, to name just a few. From the course walk and standing next to the Shamu standards, to the South Creek Fox Hounds putting on an exhibition, the Parade of Breeds and finally, the actual competition itself, it
has always been exciting, a day to mark on the calendar, with edge of the seat excitement, as it comes down to just a few tenths of a second to determine who will ride off with the big payout!
This year was no different. Thirty two horses and riders contested for the $200,000 in prize money. I don’t recall so many countries being represented: USA, Canada, Venezuela, Brazil, Ireland, England, Germany, Australia and France. There were crowd favorites, such as Michelle Michaels Beerbaum (Ger), and Katie Prudent, Margie Engle, and Beezie Madden and several
up and coming riders too, including 17 year old Reed Kessler, who is at the head of the long list of riders for the Olympics.
The Invitational started as it always does, with the Parade of Tampa Equestrian Series Champions. The riders were introduced, followed by a Parade of Breeds exhibit. I have to sidetrack here. There was an Appaloosa, which I am sure probably shows as a Quarter Horse as well. He certainly carries himself like the Quarter Horse people seem to like, which means that his head is below the withers and his hind quarters appear to be doing a slow trot while the front end attempts to canter. The horse looked absolutely miserable, the ride looked uncomfortable and it looked downright abusive. I hear that the Quarter Horse industry is trying to change this, yet this "look" still is getting rewarded in the showring. How do you even train a horse to move this way, short of making them outright crippled on purpose? And do they move like this when they are racing across a field, or are they forbidden to be turned out..or too crippled to move naturally? I don't see any difference between this and the folks in the Tennessee Walker industry who feel they must sore their horses legs. It is appalling.
Also, I must mention the Morgan and the Saddlebred horses. We thought the Saddlebred was the Morgan and vice versa until we read otherwise in the program. Really? If you want to breed a horse that looks like a Saddlebred, then why not just breed Saddlebreds? The show type Morgans look nothing like their predecessor, the Lippit line of Justin Morgan fame.
Other than that, the breeds being represented were gorgeous and obviously fine examples of their breeds. The Warmblood did lovely tempi changes across the diagonal and the Akhel-Teke was stunning with his golden coat.
Next to perform was Tommie Turvey performed his daredevil tandem riding, and the Show Jumping Hall of Fame inducted its newest members: President and CEO of the USET Foundation and former AHSA President Jane Forbes Clark, grand prix rider Hap Hansen and President and CEO of Langer Equestrian Group, Larry Langer.
Finally, it was time to get down to business. We didn’t have to wait long for the night’s first clean ride. Charlie Jayne, on Athena, were the 3rd pair to start the course, and left all rails up for the evenings first clear round. After that, it would be 11 more rides before we saw last
years winning team Kent Farrington and Uceko put in the next clear round. Kessler, riding Mika, had a disappointing 4 faults. Always a favorite, Margie Engle had a difficult ride on the stallion Royce and retired him on course, demonstrating the horsewoman that she is. The bicycle jump would prove to be the undoing of 13 teams over the course of the evening. The top rail sat shallow in the cups and horses that were rushed through it were guaranteed to knock it down. The
big oxer combination that followed on the outside line would also claim a few more victims. Steve Stephen’s demanding course also included a skinny horseshoe vertical, which caused a few problems, a colanade wall, and a vertical-oxer-vertical combination, which proved to be an issue with a few. Notably absent was the famous Shamu jump and a liverpool! Ten more rides would go by before Beezie Madden proved that she was a contender. Riding Simon, she made it look effortless. The stands went wild, as we realized we were in for an exciting jumpoff. Molly Ashe-Crawley immediately followed, and with Carissmo, she sent the crowd into another frenzie with a clear round. With just 6 riders left, one more went clean. Mario Deslauriers, formerly of Canada and now riding for the U.S., galloped Cella to the 5th clear round.
While the course was changed for the jump off, we were treated to an exhibition by world class dressage rider……huh? Tommie Turvey? While trying to figure out who they had managed to snag for this demonstration, I was completely caught off guard when Tommie came in riding his paint Poker Joe. As they halted to demonstrate the salute, the saddle slid under Poker Joe and Tommie found himself starring up at Poker Joe’s belly. Silliness ensued, with Poker Joe lying on his back, all four feet straight up in the air and Tommie sitting on his belly. The slap stick routine elicited loud applause from the audience, as many I am sure, myself included, were enormously impressed at this horse’s training. It culminated with Poker Joe chasing Tommie across the course, all in good fun. I have been to Arabian Nights and Equitana’s Mane Event. This is by
far, the best horse act I have seen, and I look forward to seeing them again!
Finally, it was time for the jump off. The course was shortened and began with an oxer, followed by a left turn to the colonnade wall. The vertical-oxer combination, which had claimed its fair share of riders in the first round, was up next, followed by a right turn to the horseshoe vertical. A turn to the right, over the American Invitational jump, which was reversed from the first round, and the horses then beared left, around several jumps to jump another vertical. Then a sharp rollback, which proved to establish the winners, to an oxer with a right turn over the final oxer.
Jacobs was first to enter, but with 17 faults, he would have to settle for 5th and a check for $12,000.
Farrington entered next, hoping to become the 3rd rider to ever win back to back Invitationals. The lovely gray Uceko (2001 KWPN g., Celano x Koriander) set a blistering speed, but a rail down at the final fence put him in first place only temporarily, but that would not last. He would have to settle for 4th place, a check for $20,000 and the award for Style Rider award, which he also won last year.
Madden was next to gallop across the start line, and set the bar with 0 faults and a time of
46.31. Simon’s (1999 KWPN g., Mr Blue x Poludox) pace was conservative. After the round, she commented that she “would have been more aggressive had there been fast trips already. I think I was pretty good until the black and white double. He jumped a little high, got a little zig-zaggy and he was a little wide to the last line, so I did one more stride.”
The pressure was on Ashe-Cawley, who proved that she was up to the challenge. Carissimo (1999 Hol. g., Calando I x Silvester) set a good pace, and shaved time off at the rollback, and a clear round put her in the lead with a time of 45.81.
Would that be good enough for Ashe-Cawley to win her 3rd Invitational?
The big gray Cella (2002 BWP mare, Cento x Chin Chin) entered the stadium and Deslauriers set the speed from the first jump. They had a sharp roll back and left a stride out on the approach to the last fence, shaving 1.31 seconds off of Ashe-Cawley’s time, for a win with 44.5 seconds!
The award ceremony was held immediately after, with presentation of the top 12 finishers and a victory gallop circle.
Deslauriers credited his tight turn after fence 6 and a good track, as well as “everything went right” to his win. He was full of praise of the Steve Stephens course, citing the bicycle jump and the 3rd element of the triple as causing the most problems. He felt the footing was super, and the atmosphere was encouraging the horses to jump up. This was the first major class for Cella in 3 weeks, who had been suffering from a tooth issue. “She’s incredible! To walk in here and do this like this, it’s such a great horse. I actually met the first fence on a good lick and the jump-off
kind of fell into place. I was turning the corners and the distance was showing up. I know she’s fast, she’s a very big horse, but she’s quick enough and leaving the stride out to the last fence was actually just nice to her, so I thought she jumped fantastic.” He credited a great indoor season, including Paris, Harrisburg and Geneva. Cella is owned by Clark-Forbes, and this gives her her first Invitational win.
Ashe-Cawley, who took time off for the birth of her daughter, said it felt good to be back, after her absence. She said it was good to know “it’s still there” and that the ride “felt good.” Asked what her next step was, she laughed as she said it would be to “try and find a way to keep him.”
With the Invitational now in the past, riders, owners and trainers will now be focusing even more for London. Who will be representing the United States? Team USA will be defending their 8 year title, having won gold in Athens in 2004 and Hong Kong in 2008. Will there be a third team win?
Equestrian eyes will be focused on London, rooting for our Olympians, whomever they will be!