No one likes to look like they don't have a clue. But when you don't have a clue, you just have to own up and learn somethin'.
Thanks to EVERYONE who gave me so much to chew on. You are amazing and I so appreciate the dialog.
First given that Smokester has bolted on me with a simple snaffle and that I didn't really slow him down with it, I'm not sure I have any better brakes with a bit. I think I just have to keep working to find the right touch with him to bring him down more readily rather than rely on a bit. He has stopped relatively quickly - when I was better at seeing it coming. I get the feeling me sawing on his mouth is not particularly effective and may exacerbate the situation, actually. Maybe its about his teeth right now, but as one person said when she saw pictures of him before I bought him, it seems like he's trying to evade the bit. Maybe he's just a bit hater.
I get that I may not be ready or skilled enough, so I need to address that. As for not knowing about shoulder control, to be clear, I don't know what the phrase means. I can (and have trained him on) how to move his front end, disengage his hindquarters and get him to float over to open a gate. He backs softly, and is getting better with his side pass. So I may be no trainer, and the more I learn the less I know, but I think I might manage to learn how to do this right.
I've decided to take a few lessons in correct use of a bosal and to size the one I have to fit Smokey since this does seem to be his preference at this stage, based on how readily he's responding. I am keeping in mind the concerns on bolting and bucking. If the person I'm asking to help tells me I suck (trust me, this person will if I do), then I'll try a different bitless option. If I've learned anything from everyone it's LISTEN TO THE HORSE.
Thank you for guiding me on my journey. I'm sure both Smokey and Lily are even more grateful. :)
Now for Miss Lily.
On Sunday Lily I took Lily out for a ride in the arena. Mireya had decided she was up for a ride and the day before I'd taken Smokey out to be my ride. Although Lily is not fond of Cody, I decided to ride her anyway.
When saddling she gave me an uncharacteristic (or rather, a used-to-be-characteristic-but-we're-past-that-now) evil look when cinching. I checked her over, but everything looked fine. In the arena, though, she acted up when we cantered, almost bucking. I worked through it with her, but was perplexed. She was warmed up. She had no issue at the trot. We didn't work much, maybe two circles in each direction and called it a day. When I took her to the wash rack I saw the absolute weirdest thing EVER.
(See above: LISTEN TO THE HORSE)
On her belly it looked like she had two swollen water hoses along each line of her midline. It looked like this horse:
only the swelling was not nearly as dramatic. It was slightly warm, but not bad. I asked the barn owner and she theorized she'd just gotten some edema from scratching her belly on something. I cold hosed it and Lily seemed relieved. She was eating and otherwise normal so I figured I'd give it a day.
The barn owner reported on Monday it was oozing something, so she cleaned it with some benandine.
I got back out on Tuesday night and it looked like this.
And she had one matching on the other side. Not good.
This is edema of the midline, in case you ever need to consult Dr. Google. I was flipping out. It was bigger. It was oozing something awful. Since Lily didn't seem to be in serious pain and was still eating, I figured it could wait until the morning.
I called in and told work I'd be taking a day off, called the vet and searched the internet all night. The only thing I could find that seemed to fit was the photo you saw above and a reference to Pigeon Fever, Dryland Distemper or Colorado Strangles (all the same disease).
You may know that Val at Fantastyk Voyage is going through this right now with her herd. I poured over her photos. Usually pigeon fever creates an edema on the chest, hence the name. Makes a horse look like it's got a pigeon breast. That's how Val's horses are presenting.
Maybe it was just a scratch. When I went by in the morning this is how it looked:
This one is badly lit, but do you see that little circle in the middle? That's where the ooze was, remarkably similar to the ooze on Val's photos.
Gooey bloody icky. Pick your word, they all work.
The vet saw us at 10 am and to make a long story slightly longer, thought it was a bite of something. Until he shaved it and found an abscess. And an infection. And an elevated white count. The aforementioned icky gooey bloody with the addition of pus like stuff is off for culturing.
According to the vet, there's been an outbreak of pigeon fever in Texas (he's never seen a case with a belly edema before, but after I mentioned Dr. Google he looked it up and found that photo). Apparently the bacteria that causes it tends to show up in drought conditions. Maybe Dryland Distemper is the better name.
Which I don't get because it's been raining a little and surely that counts for something.
The good news is my horse doesn't have some huge hernia exploding under her belly which was the nightmare that circled my brain for an hours, looking for a nice landing spot. This is treatable and chances are she will likely be immune in the future.
The bad news is its very contagious. I'm going to buy a nice big bottle of bleach and rinse out all my grooming tools, set aside a set for her during this time, then replace them. Hopefully if it is pigeon fever she'll be the one and only case of it.
On a side note: I learned Lily does not like to load as the only horse in a trailer on a windy day. We'll be working on that during her recovery time since that was a WHOLE bunch of fun today.