A thank you

Gathering thoughts is something that I am normally not very good at. As usual, my thoughts and feelings are chaotic on the loose inside my brain, and getting a hold of them is almost impossible. 

Being thankful isn’t even a fraction of how I feel. I feel so loved, supported, encouraged, comforted, grateful. I mean, the list goes on. I don’t think any word in the dictionary can be enough to describe the feelings I have had the last couple of days. From being devastated about the insurance company not covering the fees, being shocked by the bill from the veterinary(so far over 8.000 NOK, $1000 USD) and then the amazing, indescribable feeling when some of my friends made a surprise fund page for us.

I have cried my eyes out too many times over a short period of times. After we were worried about cancer, after getting the diagnosis, after the first treatment and when receiving tons of support from around the world.

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The response has been mind-blowing. Absolutely so incredible. I could never in my wildest imagination know that the response would be this huge. Its literally insane how many people who are and have supported me and Baldur through this process. I am lost for words.

It’s incredible how well over 400 people have contributed already, and it’s barely been 48 hours since it was published. The page has incredibly reached over 19.000 NOK($2.400 US!)! And this fund page is only available for Norwegians, and still there are so many. It’s almost overwhelming. The feeling of having so many people supporting Baldur’s battle with cancer is amazing.

I don’t really know where I am going with this blog post, but I just want to let everyone know that I am so incredibly thankful for every single one supporting us though this battle. It gives me so much hope and perseverance. We will get through this, I am sure of it. Baldur is such a strong-willed horse, and just the fact that he is the one comforting me says a lot.

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Baldur’s next round of chemo treatments will be in one week, on November 1st. Then we will also find out if the treatment is working as good as we are hoping. If it doesn’t work, we have to try something else, and the last option is to amputate. It may sound terrible, but it isn’t as bad as it may sound. Veterinaries and general science is on our side, and I am determined to beat the crap out of this cancer.

Again, I want to give huge thanks to everyone who is supporting us. From sending me messages, giving me hugs and just showing that you are here for me when I need it the most. I am forever grateful to have such an amazing community of people around me. 

 

Challenging my fate

Another Norwegian term I like to use when I am doing something reckless! Okay, it may not seem like an incredible stunt or something dangerous at all, but keep in mind that my little painted goof-ball has had some issues with holding his energy at bay. So I do feel pretty bad ass for letting go of the reins – bareback, in canter, on the fields.

But here we are! I have to admit that Baldur has become much calmer and relaxed over the years, much thanks to Witanor Horse(feed supplement) for helping on that department. But he has also come to a point in his age where he starts to grow up. At least I hope this is it. I mean, he is 12 years old. How much longer is he going to act like a baby?

Back to riding bareback with no reins – this isn’t new to us at all, but everything becomes riskier once you leave the gate and go out in the open. I’m not going to lie, I have been on plenty of hacks bareback in just a neck rope, but it has been a while since that time. But as it looks now, we might be heading back to that. At least I might try to ride him on the fields with a neck rope and the bridle as an emergency brake. You can never be too safe, right?

Now back to these photos, this was actually the day after I received the call from the veterinarian confirming Baldur has a benign cancer. So having a photo shoot to get my mind elsewhere was much needed! We had a lot of fun, and it was so freeing to ride across the fields like this.

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Photo above: I absolutely love the colors in this! I am not really a fan of orange, but the colors of autumn never let me down!

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Photo above: I gave him loose reins in the canter to see where is mindset was at. He was relaxed and available. I always test my limits before I cross them!

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Photo above: Slowly letting go of the reins, one hand at a time. Still testing our limits here!

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Photo above: Finally letting go and getting the extra feeling of freedom.

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Photo above: And of course, a photo shoot is never complete without some action shots(we don’t really rear often, it is mostly for play or photos).

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Photo above: Did you know I taught Baldur to rear on voice command? This way he knows the rear both riding and on ground, by simply having the same noise cue. He is very clever! And it also releases me from having to put contact on the bit.

The first round of chemo treatments

Starting off with a warning that the photos in this blog may come as a little graphic and nasty. On Monday, we finally had our first session with the chemo treatments to try and take out the cancer. 

The veterinarian showed up at about 1 pm, and we were ready to roll. She started off cleaning him again. There was a lot of dirt and still some infected areas, but it’s looking much better than before already. The whole day was a bit of a process, so let me take this step by step.

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Photo taking while doing the wash and cleanup. The photo above shows the discoloration that we were troubled with. It’s starting to dry out and flake off, so it’s a good sign already. But there is still a long way to go.

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Still not done with the washing, but here you can see some of the residue.

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In the photo above, you can see our main problem, the benine cancerous papillomas. The occur as white spots, almost looking like blemishes, all over his penis. They have yet again grown in size and number, so it’s good we are able to start the treatment so soon.

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There is also being formed some kind of tallow around his urethra.

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The Efudix is being applied. This is the cream that acts like chemo. It will slowly burn away the skin and the papillomas. A painful process, but hopefully they will be gone in three treatments!

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Finally, Baldur getting a good dose of pain killers. I also received some pain killers to give him the two following days through a tube in the mouth.

 

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Above and under are the two new additions to my health supply. The Efudix cream and Metacam(pain killers).

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Ending this little blog post with a picture of the patient recovering from the drugs. He doesn’t look very pleased, does he?

Snuggling up with Aztec Diamond Equestrian

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As an update for you all, I talked with the vet again on Monday. She had talked with a specialist in equine reproductive organs, and they decided the best way to go was with chemo therapy. We will hopefully start the treatments this upcoming Monday, that is if they can get a hold of the drugs. The drugs have to be accepted in to Norway(some strong stuff), and we hope to have it in by tomorrow. Baldur will have treatments every two weeks until the papillomas are gone, and no one knows how many treatments it will take. But I am starting to feel optimistic.

However, Aztec Diamond Equestrian doesn’t stop to impress me with their base layers. I am wearing the white base layer in these photos. I also had this one under my show jacket when we competed in gaited!

And of course, I can’t have a post where I don’t show a tad of motherly love towards Baldur. These photos are from a few days ago, when we decided to take a little photo shoot up in the fields. As you can see in some of these photos, you get a taste of Baldur’s personality. He is curious and goofy, but he is still so gentle and warm. These are some of my favorite traits about Baldur.

I’d also like to point out that when I first got to know Baldur, he was extremely head shy and was not interested in being “friendly” with people. If I tried to pet him on the face, he would turn away in a blink, and if you wanted to brush his face, you’d have to hold him by the halter. Right now, we are at a point where he seeks the contact, and doesn’t say no to being massaged in the face with his favorite brush.

It took us a lot of time, and a lot of building trust, but we are finally getting somewhere! It’s kind of weird to look back at how he used to be when we first met versus how lively he has become. He has come a long way, and I can’t wait to see what else will change!

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Photo above: After getting a good taste of my face, Baldur was interested in getting to know what my riding helmet tasted like as well! This is one of my favorite photos. It shows Baldur’s curious personality and me just having to cope with it(I was having a blast)!

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Autumn vibes

So, a few days before we got the dreaded diagnosis, me and Maja took advantage of the autumn colors that have appeared in Norway recently. It had been a while since we teamed up to photograph the boys, and the weather was too perfect for photographing to turn down this opportunity!

The autumn view in Hamar is just so beautiful right now. Almost all the trees have turned bright red, orange and yellow. Very soothing for a tiny-bit stressed soul. Of course, the horses are enjoying the dry, colder weather! I am looking forward to snow, but at the same time, I am not! I am not very excited about walking to the stables when it’s icy and cold outside. But nothing beats a nice canter in half a metre of snow!

The snow has already come to several parts of Norway already, so I am at high alert and I won’t be surprised if I wake up one day and notice that the autumn colors are gone and all I can see is white. But we will take it as it comes! Looking forward to getting winter pitcures again!

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Photo above: Starting off with a little squaring to be able to look back at how well his body looks at the moment! He is fit and has a fair amount of muscles!

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Photo above: Of course, no photoshoot is complete without a smile!

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Photo above: This one can never turn down a treat, so he gladly performs to be rewarded afterwards!

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Photo above: And here, ladies and gentlemen, a typical Baldur. Calm and zen in one minute, and in another, something is dangerous! I think it was a cow that spooked him this time, as they have a large pen behind the stables. Baldur never really appreciates his family.

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Photo above: And of course I wanted to get a semi-closeup of his new show halter. I even got him a nameplate!

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Photo above: Another typical Baldur moment. Having only three legs must take a toll.

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Photo above: Baldur sure knows how to act like a model!

Cancer; the reality

I am not going to lie and say that I am fine. I am not going to say that not crying while I am writing this either. Today has been a literal roller coaster. I woke up before my alarm due to stress. I knew today was the day I might get the results back from the biopsy. I couldn’t sleep, so I woke up early and got ready for school.

The only thing I could do at school was to keep looking at my phone and when the screen lighted up, my hear would skip a beat. I was finished at school at around 1-2 pm, went home and made something to eat. No call yet, and at 3, I went to the stables. Baldur greeted me as he always does. Stalked me around in the paddock while I was mucking. At times he would bump into my back with his muzzle for attention. I cuddled him, stroked him and I was just so happy in that moment.

After the stable chores, I took Baldur out for a bareback ride in the huge fields, and it was such a relief. To be able to breathe normally and enjoy the moment without worrying that I would get a call. Baldur was a total sweetheart. We cantered some, walked some, and stopped to enjoy the view. Baldur got some treats as well, he was such a good boy.

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Skipping to about an hour ago, I was sitting in bed watching a TV show. The clock was at 5:30 pm and I was at ease because I thought I would have to wait till Monday for the call. Out of the blue, my phone rang and it was the veterinarian. My heart stopped and I almost couldn’t bring myself to pick up.

The veterinarian could unfortunately confirm that Baldur has cancer. As it looks now, it is thankfully a benign cancer(papilloma). Of course, there is a risk that it can develop into a malignant cancer. On Monday, our veterinarian will talk to a specialist in equine reproductive organs and come to a conclusion on what treatments to go for. I will make sure that Baldur gets the best treatment possible, even if that means I have to live on the streets for the rest of my life. I can’t express enough how much this horse means to me.

I know this is a good case scenario for having cancer, but in my mind, cancer is cancer. And I am scared to death. I am so worried I am about to explode and I have no idea how to act and what to do. But I know one thing, at that is that I am going to do anything in my power to beat this cancer and get Baldur back in 100% health.

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*TRIGGER WARNING* Symptoms and biopsies

I have to start off by yet again warning for triggering photos. I decided to share the whole experience from the veterinary visit yesterday. I will say straight out that the symptoms have gotten worse, and it’s not looking good. His swelling is almost gone and there wasn’t as much infection, but the white spots have grown larger, and the discoloration has gotten worse.  

The first thing that happened yesterday what that Baldur got his shoes trimmed. And to prepare for winter, he got studded shoes! His toe has come a little too far forward for my liking, so I asked the farrier to work on shortening his toe to give him more balance in the hoof. So it’s a process!

Instead of writing a long post and showing the pictures later, I thought I’d show pictures and then write the story behind the photos. Here we go.

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New shoes are on, and his hooves are looking pretty okay.

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The veterinary giving him a dose to relax and let him drop his manhood. I am so glad our vet is female! Baldur doesn’t easily trust men, so it’s good to have Hege(the veterinary).

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Wrapping his tail to keep it out of the way for Hege and when taking the biopsies.

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Baldur getting sleepier and sleepier by the minute!

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She starts off by doing a thorough clean. He wasn’t as dirty and infected as last time, but sadly, the symptoms are worsening.

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Going over with alcohol to clean up as much as possible for the biopsies.

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Baldur got some local anesthesia so that the whole experience would be as pain free as possible. I can’t imagine how much it would hurt without it! And of course, I got the pleasure of holding his manhood down to make the job easier for Hege.

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She used pointed tweezers to grab one of the white spots and clipped it off using scissors, delicate!

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The hole that remained after she removed one of the white spots. It wasn’t necessary to get stitches as the whole wasn’t too big.

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More local anesthesia! This time on the discolored and almost elephant-skin-like part of his foreskin. Also one of the concerns. You can’t see it so good in the photo, but the color was very yellow and his skin was very rough!

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In comes the tweezers and scissors again! And yes, I am sitting on the other side holding him again!

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The whole that was left after taking another biopsy. This one had to get stitches as it was bigger and further up inside.

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Baldur got two stitches to keep it in place!

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And here is a lovely photo of where the first biopsy was taken. If you look closely underneath the folded pink skin, you can see two white spots. These were smaller before, and have grown since last time. And these spots are all over his penis.

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Baldur became soooo sleepy! He even started snoring. I released him from the ties when he became this droopy, so that he could relax his neck.

So I am feeling okay, but I am not very optimistic at this point. I am however getting more and more used to the fact that it may be cancer. I have talked to a couple of people now who know or have gone through the same, and they have ensured me that the horses are fine with treatments. Only time will show what the results are, and we are hoping to have the results by friday. Until then, I will not take the sorrows in advance, but I feel it in my gut that the answer is cancer.

However, Baldur is feeling great, and is acting like his loving self. He is so strong and even though it must be painful, he still pricks his ears at me and begs for treats like he always does. I am giving him pain killers in his feed, and tomorrow is the last day of the pain killers. But this one is a fighter, and so am I.

Above all expectations at Biri

I have to start off this post by admitting that I am quite speechless. Baldur really had me shook today, he kept surprising me over and over again! He was an absolute gentleman, and he performed like never before!

In the light of today’s competition at Biri Travbane, I also have to mention that today, October 1st, marks our second year anniversary. Exactly two years ago, I signed the contract for my amazing horse. Days like today make med look back at that moment and I know I did the right thing.

I was honestly expecting the worst today, as we have literally not been in the sand arena more than once in three months. The only training and working out we have done, has been on trails and hacks. This also proves that there can never be too many hacks! Baldur has been in great shape for a long time now, but since I never had access to ride in the sand arena, I have been anxious about how he would perform. But man did he surprise me today!

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My alarm was set to 6AM and at 6:30AM, me and Maja were picked up to head to the stables. I got all the tack and equipment ready, and then I groomed Baldur and put on his transport protection. At about 9AM, we arrived at the showgrounds. I was first in class, and the class was set to start at 10AM. I was really nervous, but the workout we had for Caroline Gleditsch Holstad a couple days before helped me keep calm.

Baldur felt really good at warm-up, and he was great in the arena! He was a little strong in T3(tölt class), but he had just the right amount of energy to handle. He collected nicely and had probably the best slow tölt he has ever had(with me at least). And he did great at the fast tölt as well, so he gave me a really good feeling. We ended up with a total grade of 4,83 which placed us at 2nd in the first class!

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In the second class, which was V2(four gaits), he also did great! We had a very slow trot(I tried to push him forward, but he was happily ignoring me at trotting on like I didn’t exist), but he still delivered! The tölt again was fabulous, so nothing more to say about that! His canter was a little so-and-so. He was a little feisty, so I had to hold him back quite a bit, and at one point he tried to bolt. I managed to get contact with him again just in time for the fast tölt!

Despite the two mishaps, we ended up breaking our old record! So our total grade in four gaits was 5,43, and I couldn’t be more satisfied! And guess what? This meant another 2nd place ribbon for us! I am extremely excited, as we have never come so far to actually get 2nd place ribbons, so getting two at one competition really exceeded my expectations!

Of course, Maja came with me as mental and physical support, as well as being the photographer! I am forever grateful to her for always being there for me. So I have to say that today was a perfect day. I am more than happy and it brought me so much joy to see and feel that Baldur was happy too.

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