Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation, Inc. ----Discussion Forum

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10/10/2019: Onyx has gotten so good at our routine that I can administer the antibiotic treatment without anyone holding onto him. He especially likes the after-treatment treats of diced apples. Only 7 more doses to go.
Well what you described is a potentially dangerous for any rider. I think dismounting and ground work was the right thing to do. Once you start really riding you may have to work on fixing things in the saddle too.
Sorry to head about Lymes. Such a bad disease. If all goes well there still may be time for you to hit the trails. Good luck.

10/14/2019: Onyx was a trooper throughout the IV antibiotic treatments. I couldn't have asked for a better partner when trying to administer his medicine.

Dr. Holly came out and I discussed his vet phobia issues with her. I asked her if she would be willing to play the "Friendly Game" with him to put him at ease with her. She agreed. She started by giving him a treat and then just rubbing him all over his body. After a few minutes, he relaxed and she was able to remove the catheter with no fuss.

Dr. Holly discussed the next phase of treatment, which is 30 days of oral antibiotic. She left me with a mega size bottle of pills and is working on getting a serum made for Onyx.

I gave Onyx his first dose at supper time. Although he took the oral syringe well, he had the "this tastes yucky" look on his face. I mixed it with applesauce but the pills must have a strong taste. Mental note: increase the amount of applesauce per dose.

10/16/2019: My friend Shannon read my last update re: applesauce mixture and she suggested my trying peppermint flavoring. So I went to the grocery store and bought a bottle to mix with his medicine. It only needed a few drops and I loaded the syringe with the mixture. Onyx saw me coming with the syringe and started looking for the nearest exit. I squirted a small amount on his tongue and he became very interested in the syringe. He slurped that stuff down like candy.
Same thing again at his supper time dosing. He was very willing to accept the syringe and I was done administering his medicine in less than a minute. Also makes his breath smell minty. The applesauce doesn't have a strong enough flavor to mask the medicine and makes a mess with trying to load the syringe. I had applesauce running down my arm, on my clothes, and messing up Onyx's muzzle.
If you know of anyone struggling with the applesauce method, please share this tip. It makes a world of difference for the horse and its owner. Be sure that the peppermint flavoring is from the grocery store's baking aisle, not the liquor store or essential oils.
Thank you for the detailed updates, we appreciate it!  

Keep in mind that a lot of horses do not like the taste of peppermint, so just a word of caution to anyone reading - before squirting something flavored with peppermint into their mouth, do a test to see if that is a smell and flavor that they don't mind or they like.  😉  
10/17/2019: Onyx is having respiratory distress from the peppermint. We are going back to applesauce.
How about molasses?
10/26/2019: Onyx is doing very well now. Dr. Holly changed out his tablets for an apple-flavored pellet, which dissolves quite easily. Mixed with applesauce, Onyx scarfs that right down. He is now running, playing, and doing a little bucking when out on pasture, so he feels good again. I love to see him in action.

My friend saw him doing the bucking part and asked if I really intend to ride "that." He may act up in the pasture, but when I bring him in to work, Onyx gets down to business and leaves the nonsense at the door.
12/3/2019: I just got the results from Onyx's recent blood test for Lyme's Disease.
"Onyx was negative in every category described on the Cornell University site. These test results are odd in that while Onyx was expected to have a low titer, he should still remain within the infected intervals since Lyme disease should affect him for life. Turns out that he has a very low titer within the 'chronic infection' category. This could mean that we caught the Lyme disease early and treated aggressively enough to nearly reverse the disease course within Onyx."
Dr. Holly recommended testing Onyx again in a year and a half just to stay on top of this. And I will be diligent in watching for any signs of the disease flaring up.
God has answered my prayers and has given Onyx and me the chance to keep progressing together.
Congratulations on those test results. Hopefully you will not have any issues in the future!
1/4/2020: Got out to the barn today to play with Onyx. He had a lot of fire in his britches from a lack of exercise, so I spent some time developing his brain and putting his excess energy to good use. I started out by standing with my back to a wall and asking him to move at the trot from one side of the wall to the other. His tasks: maintain the trot and keep a steady pace, when he got to the wall he needed to stand perpendicular to me, and then to stand quietly until I asked him to move again. After a few laps and his gaining an understanding of his job, I moved four paces from the wall. Onyx now needed to focus as I asked him for all of the above and now added that he could not go past where I was standing. He had to start zoning in on me. I kept up this pattern until we reached the other side of the arena. Onyx did a lot of licking and chewing to show that he was thinking about the tasks and then learning to control his energy for doing those tasks correctly. He is a smart horse and learns quickly.

His coat looks a little scruffy this winter due to the antibiotics affecting his hair growth. He has a thick coat with a quilt pattern, which looks like squares all over his body.

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2/4/2020: Happy anniversary, Lori and Onyx. Today marks the 3rd anniversary of our journey together. We have had our share of hills and valleys over the last three years, and I wouldn't have missed it for anything. Onyx has come a long way from the abused rescue horse and has learned to trust me, respect me, and enjoy our time together. He has learned to help me with my handicaps and challenged me to become a better horse person for his handicap.

This year marks another beginning of more riding together, so I hired a project specialist (fancy name for a handyman) to build us a safe mounting platform. The baling twine and bungee strap systems with the two benches was an accident waiting to happen, and we certainly didn't need that. The challenge was to build a unit that was safe, functional, and portable. Steve and I met several times and he also came out to the barn to get more measurements and ideas. Steve came to the barn with the mounting unit and Onyx and I got to test it.

The unit rests on the bench and is secured with ratchet straps for stability. The mounting platform is wider and longer to accommodate my imbalance and hip restrictions. The front has a hand rail to aid in mounting and dismounting. Steve also incorporated a side guard rail for when I won't have a fence to hang onto for balance. The unit is the perfect width to slide into my horse trailer so we can go trail riding.

Onyx stood off to the side and watched, but wasn't all that impressed. Only until I invited him to come to it did he advance and then very slowly. Once he understood what this contraption was and his part in it, he became very cooperative. He knows that it is his responsibility to help me get up and down, to stand parallel with the bench, and to stand quietly while I mount and dismount. That is our partnership in action.

Below is a photo of the bench that Steve built.

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Wow...that is very impressive.  Some good thinking went into it for sure!
2/6/2020: Spent more time today getting Onyx acquainted with his bench. From the first time I met Onyx in August 2017, I saw his brilliant philosophy in dealing with stressful situations. The first time I brought the saddle into the round pen, he immediately went into what I call his "denial stage." He turned his head in any other direction that kept him from directly looking at the saddle. If he doesn't look at it, it doesn't exist. Denial!

From that experience and learning Onyx's little quirks, I could easily assess when he would go into denial of whatever I was asking him to do. Once again, the bench became a source of stress, so I asked him to move on a circle and each lap get a little closer to the bench. When I asked him to stop and rest, it was next to the bench. At the end of the session, the bench was his place of comfort.

Below are the photos representing the start and finish of his training for today.

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Well done, Onyx!
3/28/2020: Finally got to have a play date with Onyx today. The last several weeks have been very difficult because I was suffering from kidney stones again. Had the surgery on 3/20 and then complications set in that I was finally hospitalized on 3/22 for a few days.

Onyx was very happy to see me. We played some half circle games to start stretching his muscles and his mind. Then went on to the sideways game over a pole to build his coordination and yields. Was fun to see his expression change as he used his energy to do tasks rather than look around for the pack of wolves that might come through the door. Although Onyx is typically a left brain introvert, he does have a tendency toward right brain if he doesn't get consistent work. He loves to have a job and he gets down to business very quickly.

We finished with a well-needed grooming session. Wish I would have taken before and after photos. He turned out to be a quite handsome fellow when I got the mud off of him.

Did I say finished? I went to the tack room to put away my grooming tote and came back to the arena to find Onyx standing next to the mounting bench. That wasn't on my agenda because I don't like to bore him with repetitive tasks. So I asked Onyx to help me get up on the bench and rubbed him all over his body. He was quite content to just stand quietly while I took my time with him. Then he helped me get down from the bench.

I am thinking that Onyx is ready to start riding again, so today I will be taking my saddle to the barn to start introducing it again. I won't start riding until he gets his chiropractic adjustment on April 6th. I heard some popping in his neck while doing his stretches so I  won't compromise his structure with my added weight. Sure will be great to be topside again.

Love your updates and the obvious love and care you have for Onyx
5/2/2020: "A" major breakthroughs! It took 3 years and just under 3 months for Onyx to make the change. Abused horses, I have found from my previous abused horse Finale, take a long time to trust and make the transition from Abused to Acceptance. Onyx has finally made that transition. This week I have had 3 play dates with him and I saw the change on the first day. He has become more Accepting of me and what I Ask of him and also extremely Affectionate.

The 2nd play date showed me that this wasn't a fluke. Onyx came to me and wanted to be loved on, which I will not reject at any time. For about 10 minutes he stood quietly while I petted his head. Even in our training, he stops to Ask me questions to see if he did it right. I invite him to come to me and we got back to petting mode. Then it's back on the circle and he is more animated than before.

Day 3 was even more interesting. Building on Day 2's training Onyx became even more animated and more confident. He is giving me beautiful transitions from walk, trot, and canter. Another aspect is that he comes running when I call him. Example: Onyx was grazing at a fence line when Julie was bringing her horse back into the area. I called Onyx so I could put on his halter and lead rope; he came immediately and very quickly. Amazing!
5/6/2020: I had Emily Kemp Kraemer come out to the barn for Onyx's and my first ride of the season. Onyx was amazing and Emily was very impressed with what he has learned in regard to my needs as a handicapped equestrian.

5/12/2020: I had Steve come out to the barn to talk about making adaptations to the mounting bench to make it easier for me to dismount. He took the bench home to work on the changes.

5/16/2020: I was at the barn playing with Onyx when Steve surprised me with the bench. He wanted to see if the changes would work for me. It was wonderful. I could easily dismount without putting a lot of stress on my left side and minimal pain in the process. Wish I could upload the video for you to see, but the file format is not acceptable. I do have it posted on my Facebook page.

Onyx and I had a great time riding that day too. He is so wonderful for me as my riding partner. God has blessed us with a great relationship.

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Jan N
Tears of happiness for your and Onyx's accomplishments, Lori! You GO, girl!!
Lisa B.
So glad to hear of the progress you and Onyx have made recently.  It's been quite a journey for both of you and it is heartwarming to hear how you have come to trust each other.  Best wishes!

6/30/2020: Another breakthrough for Onyx. He has started vocalizing his welcomes to me in  rather loud nickers. Totally warms my heart to know that we are connected. God has truly blessed me with the wonderful horse.
8/13/2020: Between the heat and humidity and my right hip acting up, Onyx and I haven't been riding very much this summer. My goal by August was to be riding outside again as we did last fall.

My orthopedic surgeon decided that my right hip isn't bad enough to warrant replacement, so he ordered for me a hip injection to help alleviate the pain. I am not good with needles, but I went in for the procedure on August 7th. To my amazement and delight, the pain is gone for the most part and I am able to move more freely.

So of course, I wanted to see how this relates to my being able to ride. I finally got the chance today. With a little refresher session for Onyx to review his responsibilities, I was able to ride for 35 minutes (our longest ride yet) and we only quit because the heat index rose rapidly. Even Onyx was ready to quit as he took me back to the bench and put his nose on it to indicate that I should get off.

During our ride, I was able to actually move my hips more freely and was able to start moving my legs for cues. I felt so confident on Onyx that I even ventured to ask for the trot. He seemed confused because up until now, we would only walk. So after some encouragement, he popped into the trot and seemed to enjoy it. I was able to mirror his movements and stay in balance with him. He is such a smooth mover that I realized I wasn't bouncing to his trot, but rather seemed to be floating along with him. The next ride will be out in his paddock and then onward to the larger pastures. Would be great to be trail riding by September.

God has really blessed me with Onyx as my partner. He is so willing to be with me, even after the saddle comes off. We end our rides now with my sitting in a chair and his standing beside me. He has the freedom to leave but chooses to stay.
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