A surprising comeback

I am back from this years first competition, and I can say with no doubt in my heart that my horse is my life force. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and he makes my world a much brighter place.

Ever since Baldur got the cancer diagnosis, I was sure that this was it for us. No more hard work, no more long hacks, and definitely no more competitions. Baldur has been a literal hero(definition: someone who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities). I have so much gratitude towards this horse, and I will never be able to give back what he has given to me through these years.

Today was supposed to be a competition we entered just to get back into showing, to get pinpoints on how to get better, and to see where we stand. I was of course hoping to get a placement, but it was definitely nothing in my expectations. We actually managed to get over 5 in score at the tölt program(T3 senior)! 5,10 to be exact. We won a green ribbon for 5th place! Last competition, where I thought we did amazing, we got 4,83 in tölt, but Baldur has really showed improvement even though we have been struggling these past months with the whole cancer deal.

When I was warming up for the second class, one of the competition staff came over to tell me that one of the judges really liked the way I rode Baldur. They thought the way I rode Baldur was nice. That was such a nice thing to hear, that they appreciated the way I ride him. It really gave me a confidence boost!

In the four gaits(V2 senior) Baldur also did great! We actually managed to get the trot right as well as he did not bolt in the canter. We got a score of 5,37 and were placed in seventh place. I was so happy when we were done that I couldn’t stop smiling and gaping like a fool. I felt like the happiest person on earth, and I think Baldur understood it, because he was also so pleased and happy! Today has been a milestone, and I hope this is one in many that we get to experience together!

We got some great scores in V2! 6 for fast tölt and 6,5 for trot! I also have to add that is was extremely cold today. It was thankfully sunny most of the day, and that helped a lot for riding in between -10 and -20 celsius!

Maja come with me to the competition and took some amazing photos of us. Camilla also helped with some filming, and the video will be posted in a couple of days when I get time to sit down and edit it.

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Doing treatments alone

It’s been a while since I last talked about cancer, and the reason for that is that there has been a couple complications. First related to Baldur not willing to drop while using Domosedan gel(oral sedative), and secondly when I did not get the right sedatives intravenously from a veterinarian.

After taking Baldur to Oslo for the specialist to look at him, we were put on a plan to wash Baldur every week, twice a month with sedatives so that I could give him a thorough wash. To cut it short, the oral sedatives did not do the job. I tried two times, once before AEG and one right after. It did not do the work. My regular veterinarian just had her baby, so I had a new vet come in. I instructed that I needed the one type of sedative(Plegicil, it makes them drop easier), and that I would be able to handle it by myself.

That did not go to plan as the veterinarian did not bring the sedatives I specified, drugged him with another sedative, and Baldur did not drop. It was a bit chaotic after that and I panicked hard, as this is a very touchy subject. I talked with my regular veterinarian, and she could recommend me another one to come and sedate Baldur. Thankfully she came and brought the right sedatives, so I could wash him properly and inspect him!

There were sadly three new papillomas, but I was able to put on some of the chemo treatment, and I am hoping they are gone till next time I get him sedated. It was such a relief that it wasn’t any worse, since it had after all gone over a month since we were in Oslo. We were two weeks over due, so you can probably understand my panic.

Other than that, I “look forward” to washing him every week, that a great way to bond. Haha. In two weeks we will hopefully be entering the Mjøscup 1, one of two competitions in the cup at Biri Travbane. I am really excited to see how it goes, and of course to see how we are doing so far, judging and all.

I forgot to bring my fancy camera, so I only got phone photos for you this time!

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Photo above: Having had vets in and out for the last half year, I have built up quite a nice box of medical supplies.

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Photo above: Baldur drugged and ready to go!

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Photo above: Two of the new papillomas I discovered.

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Photo above: Finished with applying the chemo treatment by myself, am I a veterinarian soon or what?

Freezing cold at full speed

It’s been a while since we have let the boys run outside, so it was about time to let them loose! Baldur has been tricky to bring inside lately, hence the reason for his halter being on. Just so that I could catch him again after they were done running. Wouldn’t risk him not willing to come back inside and freezing to death!

It was a lot of fun and the horses kept running and running. They were really pleased with the situation, and happy to go on and play! They actually came back to us when they were “done” and we gave them lots of love and treats.

I am actually very impressed with how short Baldur’s coat still is. It’s almost three months since he was clipped, and I think it’s going to hold until spring when the summer coat comes creeping in! I think the new stable is hotter at night, so they are not at cold as they used to, very nice!

Back to the release of the Iceys, they had a blast, and the sun was shining in a nice way making it perfect photo conditions. I just had to capture the moments, and I believe the photos turned out good!

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Moving forward and working out

I can easily say that I am glad we are having a “break” with all the cancer drama. It’s not gone, but it’s not now, do you feel me? The specialist is not worried, which makes it a heck of a lot easier on my behalf. I am finally starting to stress a little less and I can focus on the good stuff.

So today(this was a few days ago, but I wrote it at the same time day I posted this blog post) we got to try the new bit I bought! I was looking at a specific bit from Skoies that has an anatomic double jointed mouth piece. I was literally drooling just looking at it, but it is on the expensive side. So it was pure luck that I saw an ad that was just posted by a woman who was selling hers in the size I was looking for! It was never used and she sold it for half the price – a steal! I had no doubt when I told her I’d take it. A couple days later, it came in the mail!

Moving on to today, we finally got to try it out! It has a little bit longer shanks than the one we tried, but it fits him perfectly! It couldn’t have fit him better, as quoted by Madeleine who helped me fit it! Baldur was literally a dream to ride today. We have only been hacking for over a week, and he was fit for fight! He had so much willpower and energy, he was fantastic!

We will be riding for an instructor hopefully next week and then keeping it at a regular basis. We haven’t ridden for an instructor in half a year, so I think it’s about time!

I am looking forward to developing myself and Baldur even further this year, who knows how far we can reach? I am not going to stop trying, my motivation is back!

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Photo above: There is definitely no lack in hind end action!

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Photo above: Something that we have to work on is the slow tölt. I need to get him to sit more on his hind end and really work!

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Photo above: Tölting on loose reins – no problems! Maybe we will enter T2 one day? T2 is a  tölt class where the focus is on riding without contact on the reins!

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Photo above: One of my favorites! Fabulous hair and fabulous form!

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Arctic Gaits at AEG

I’ve been working at Arctic Equestrian Games since friday now, so I am on my 6th day of working for the press! So far it has been a lot of fun. It’s very tiring, but it’s definitely worth it!

On saturday and sunday, the Icelandic Horses entered the arena. I was of course in my right element. I had asked prior to the event that I could cover everything connected to the fluffy ponies, and I got my wish granted. I covered the four gaits and five gaits qualifications and the clinic with Stian Pedersen on saturday, as well as the finals in four gaits and five gaits on sunday.

I wanted to share some goodies with you from the four gaits and five gaits, both the qualification classes and the finals from sunday! The horses and riders performed like champions, and I love how they so elegantly represented the gaited breeds.

I will be staying one more day at AEG, and hopefully I will be back to my own gaited horse by friday. I have done a little bit of shopping as well, with the money I have earned so far and I am looking forward to share it with you!

As for now I hope you will enjoy the photos I got under the gaited shows. Have you been at a gaited show before?

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Photo above: Mona Tysland Lillehagen on her horse Hlekkur fra Løvik. They won the finals of five gaits.

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Photo above: I don’t think it’s possible to get a serious photo of Stian, he happily poses for the camera!

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Photo above: Mane and forelock on point! There is no lack of hair flying in the win in these classes!

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Photo above: Stian Pedersen(who gave me a lesson here) on his horse Bylur fra Breidholti.

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Photo above: I have till now witnessed a ton of awards ceremonies though out my stay at the Arctic Equestrian Games, and I have not yet to see anything more calm than the Icelandic horses. These ponies are definitely a solid kind.

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Photo above: Agnes Helga Helgadóttir on Sigur fra Jakobsgården who took the first place in four gaits. 

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Photo above: Yet another prideful pony! This is Christina Lund riding Salmur fra Ytra-Skördugili. Did you know he is Baldur’s cousin?

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Photo above and under: Christina Lund got the same score as Agnes, but the judges had to make a second evaliation, placing Christina Lund and Salmur fra  Ytra-Skördugili in second.

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Photo above: Another great equipage, Gabrielle Severinsen on Tigull fra Kleiva.

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Photo above: Hallvard Kjøllmoen Steien on Sökkul fra Dalbæ.

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Photo above: And of course we cannot forget Caroline Gleditsch Holstad riding Jökull fra Svalbarðseyri. Caroline has also given me a few lessons, and she will be helping me more in the future!

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Portraits in the snow

It’s finally starting to get warmer here in Norway, which makes it so much easier to get out and have photoshoots. Both for horse, rider and photographer(hands get cold so fast)! So today we grabbed the opportunity and got some nice photos in the snow!

I have been wanting to get photos like this for a while, but I was quite unsure on where to actually take them. As the background and light is a huge factor in getting decent photos. But I decided to try out the trail leading from the stable to the other, long trails, and it turned out to be perfect for photography!

I am so sad that I didn’t put any makeup on, so I have to excuse myself for looking like a potato. But can we please just take a moment and look at my gorgeous horse?! How lucky am I to have this wonderful creature with me? Ah, I love him.

As a little side note, I will be leaving for Arctic Equestrian Games friday morning to work as a press photographer! I have had many people order photos of their classes, so I hope it goes well and that I can do both the classes for the press and the classes for the entrants. We will see! Should I post some of the photos that I will be taking? There will be dressage, show jumping, puissance and not least gaited!

I hope you enjoy the photos from today as much as I did!

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A promising call

This blog post will be short, but very pleasing. I received a call from the specialist today, and it couldn’t have gone any better.

As it turns out, they found no cancer in the biopsies! The skin is still very abnormal, so it has to be carefully watched for any progression or development. As for the urethral opening, there is a lot more cytoplasm than there should be. The cells are larger than usual, something that indicates that they can split up and make new cells(this is not very good, but it’s still no red alarm yet).

This means that the only cancer he has is in the papillomas, which are still in the benign stage. All I have to do is to have a regular washing routine for Baldur. He needs to be washed every week, where every other week is with a sedative. This way he can drop and I can get a good clean every other week as well as the regular weekly washing without sedatives. I will have to keep smear thin layers of zinc ointment on the elephant skin and the irritated parts, just to help him heal.

IMG_0243Other than that, we are going to let “nature do it’s work”, as there is no reason to give him any big treatments or surgeries just yet. I was also told that there is indeed a small chance that it can resolve on it’s own and go away. The chance is slim, but it’s there!

I didn’t get a “this is not cancer and everything is going to be okay”-call, but it’s pretty damn close if you ask me! He is not in immediate danger, and it gives me such a relief! Now I can finally get my focus back on the good stuff. Doing trails, working towards competitions, and not least just loving my horse without having to worry about losing him.

As a little side note, I got a job working as a press photographer at the Arctic Equestrian Games in Oslofjorden next week! I will be photographing the different competitions, from gaited to show jumping! And I will of course be doing some shopping with the money I earn from selling photos. So I am hoping to get my hands on some new breeches at least! I am very much looking forward to it, and of course meeting with some distant friends!

It’s finally time to look ahead and keep track of all the plans I had before we were sent to Oslo for the examination! I am starting to really look forward to this year, and I hope we do end up starting our first Norwegian Championship together!

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A visit to the clinic

Today was the day I had been dreading once again. It was time to take Baldur to the Veterinary University in Oslo. I woke up at 6:30 AM fit for fight(well, almost). The appointment in Oslo was at 10 AM, but the ride there took about 2 hours.

I was so anxious and nervous about what was going to happen and what they were going to find out. Baldur was of course like his usual self. Big eyes and a goofy personality. He was no problem loading on or off. We were assigned a box for him to stay at while we were waiting for the specialist.

When the specialist arrived, we got him drugged down so that he would drop. She washed him very thorough, and she was not delighted about all the buildup that had came in just one and a half week. Not a good sign in other words. The papillomas we treated last time were gone, but they are the least of our concerns.

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The real problem is the new papilloma-like spots all around his urethral opening. They are big, white and many. Also the elephant skin is a problem. Not only are there more papillomas, but the skin is very strange.

The specialist decided to take two biopsies. One of the skin around the urethral opening, and one of the elephant skin. The skin on his penis has become very delicate and fragile from all the washing and treatments, so it has started to crack a bit. She put on some zinc ointment and let me know that I could do the same whenever I see him drop his penis(he usually doesn’t do it much).

The specialist discussed a little bit with another veterinarian about treatments. He suggested freezing it. And the specialist gave me a few option suggestions to think about. I can keep doing the chemo treatments, I can go over to another chemo treatment(intravenously), freezing, amputating half or the whole penis. These are all treatments that I have to consider, but we are still waiting for the results of the biopsies before we move forward with really discussing the treatment options.

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I’m not going to lie, this is so damn scary. I feel like I am again constantly on the verge of crying and I am being such a child about this. But it is my best friend at stake, and I want him the best that the world can give him.

When everything was done, he got a good dose of pain relief for the biopsies. The specialist was very happy with how well he behaved. He was tied very loosely(sometimes just the rope around his shoulders) and he took it all like a champ. I am so proud to own this horse and have him in my life. I just hope I can have him until he dies of old age. It’s not too much to ask, is it?

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Photo above: Giving a thorough rinse!

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Photo above: The main concern is this. The papilloma-like spots all around his urethral opening.

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Photo above: The second concern – the elephant skin. I don’t like this at all. 

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Photo above: I had to help hold the glasses and his penis while the specialist was taking the biopsies, so I couldn’t get any photos of it. But this is after taking the biopsies.

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Photo above: He was incredibly calm through the whole procedure.

 

Project Baldur complete

I can finally say that I completed my first 3D horse model. And no way to do it than making my very own horse! I also have unlimited references photos, of course, so I never had a problem with making the details. 

It’s safe to say that I am relieved I actually finished it, I was starting to doubt myself. It did after all take nearly a month, but hey, it’s something! I ran into a couple of problems that set me on a long break because I was simply lazy and didn’t do much to figure it out.

If I can say so myself, I am pretty happy with the outcome! The model does have some Baldur look-alike features. I will definitely keep practicing on making horses in 3D.

Anyhow, enjoy these photos I rendered of the model. And in the bottom is a “live” turntable if your computer can handle it!

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Keeping it going

I am currently still waiting on the phone from the Veterinary University in Oslo. I really want to get our appointment sooner rather than later. I have to admit that I am getting a bit tense, but at the same time it’s okay, because I know it’s just to get an appointment and nothing else. 

Anyhow, the day after Baldur got yet another round of chemo treatment, we went back to training! The good thing about his treatments is that I can ride him like normal. And this time I am making myself be more active in riding. So far it’s going great! My motivation is still up for competitions(even though I have no idea if we can enter or not, I have hope).

I tried Baldur on a new bit, mostly used for competition and training for competitions. An Icelandic shanked bit. This one is the EE bit, with shorter shanks making it milder. This was my first time riding Baldur on a shanked bit, and I get the feeling that he has been ridden in one before by the previous owners. He took it really good and the ride was incredible! He really worked hard for me!

I will be testing this bit a little more, but I think I will be buying one for myself in the future! Maja filmed the last 20 minutes of our session, and here is the result!