Fergus got looked at by Tom Mayes on Friday and it was a good session and explained a lot of what was going on. His right shoulder was all bunged up. It looks like at some point in his life he ran into a tree/gate post/similar - jamming his shoulder (he does have a divot in that shoulder - perhaps the point of impact?), smooshing his diaphragm forwards, and causing all the force to rise up into his right wither/shoulder area.
Tom spent quite a bit of time releasing that whole mess from sternum to withers. Interestingly, he's always had a "wry" foot on the right front - loading it oddly and causing it to grow crooked. And he also moves strangely on the corresponding left rear (you don't feel or see it much watching him move, but you can see it in his footprints in soft footing, not to mention if he twists off a boot - the left rear will be the one). Which begs the question, how long has he been dealing with this? Well, his right front foot has been like that since he was five, and he's 13 now, so...
|Tom in the process of realigning Fergus' sternum and shoulder|
Another problem was in his loin area. Admittedly, this is where I'm a little hazy about the specifics, and where the non-conventional medicine part comes in. He was apparently having intestinal problems, which manifested itself in the loin area, meaning he couldn't engage his rear end properly - or make proper use of any nutrition I put into him (which is certainly true - I've been feeding the heck out of him and yet he still isn't getting fat). And because the "point" that deals with that area of his insides manifests itself as soreness in the loin area, in turn this meant that he was having some muscle atrophy in his glutes (hence the weird hunters bump that I started noticing the second half of this year - that was mostly from the muscle dropping away either side, not the bump itself rising up), and also losing muscle along his topline - making saddle fit difficult since I was chasing a moving target.
|If you saw the before and after flinch and non-flinch, you'd get Tom in to do your horses too.|
The really fun part was watching Fergus' reaction before treatment (poke a finger in the offending area, watch Fergus flinch) and after (poke a finger in, watch Fergus not react at all). I don't understand it, but if it means he's more comfortable, I'll go with it.
At the end of the session, Tom suggested that I took him on a short ride to "jump start" the area again - and show Fergus that all his parts were now working again. I planned to ride at Cronin on Saturday, but woke up to smoke from the Butte Fire, 20 miles to the south. Figured it was a bad time to exercise his lungs and I'd wait until tomorrow. Sunday it was worse, and by Monday it was really bad. Tuesday dawned foggy.... foggy? After a week of 100° temperatures, foggy and wet was too strange.
|Sunday morning smoke|
Finally this morning I got up early and took Fergus and the dogs up to the Power Lines and back before work - not the work-out I was looking for, but at least got us out to try my latest idea in shimming.
|Racing Spike home again - yup, that little dog can sustain about 15 mph|
It goes like this. If Skito foam was originally invented to even-out pressure points (and—as people complain—the foam smooshes down to nothing when warm), and I need to shim the dips in his back, if I put a Skito foam in the pad under his Jen-X insert, will it just smoosh away in the ridge area, and shim out the dipped area?
So effectively, my pad currently looks like this:
Certainly not ideal, but might do the trick.
This morning we did a quick 3 miles up and back to see what it felt/looked like. I can't say for sure that it'll work, but do like the way this idea is headed. Admittedly, the pad is now SUPER-PADDED, which is maybe too much padding (have done that before), but it doesn't seem to be doing any harm. Thankfully, the treeless saddle works in my favour here - with no solid tree to deal with, it can't pinch him, since it just spreads wider to suit the shape it's sitting on - and hopefully is now better supported further away from his spine.
I have one last option to try - two sets of Skito foam shoulder shims that I found in the back of the trailer. Initially, I only found one set - and they were only 1/2" thick, so not enough in terms of padding. But doing ride-chores last night, I found a second set down the back of something, so possibly doubled up they will be enough. That would effectively look something like this:
And might work. Something to take with us and use if he looks like he's getting uncomfortable.
So saddle fit, not really solved. And we've run out of time. :(
Fergus has greatly been enjoying this item on the list. He's now getting his ration of LMF-Gold, Cool Calories, Beet Pulp and Vit E-Mag Supplement. As well as a quarter/half flake of alfafa on top of unlimited meadow grass hay. He's getting to the picky, I-can't-possibly-eat-this-hay-and-need-a-bucket-of-goodies-instead stage. So far, he's still not fat, but showing slight signs of improvement.
Enduramax and ProCMC purchased and I mixed up his elytes last night, now safely stored in the fridge - after glopping it all over the counter trying to pour it into the bottle. That was messy but at least I didn't squirt any on the ceiling.
My Fuel Intake
Well, I never got to try Tailwind on a ride, but sat and drank a glass of the lemon-flavoured one while flopping about indoors in the heat on Saturday. The verdict was it tastes like alka-selzer cold medicine and isn't something I'd drink unless pft was standing over me, ordering me to drink it (as he has to with the cold medicine).
So that's a "no".
Yesterday, while having a bleah-moment at work in the afternoon, I tried the raspberry one - which has caffeine in it. The raspberry flavour isn't bad, but the nasty aftertaste (presumably caused by the dextrose, sucrose, citric acid, sodium citrate, sea salt, potassium chloride, magnesium citrate, and calcium carbonate) was... well, nasty. And I made it a lot less concentrated than the lemony one. In theory I could make it even weaker, but at that point I'd need to drink about six bottles of water an hour to gain the required effect of not needing any other food source - and the temperatures are only supposed to be in the high 60s/low 70s on Saturday.
Not going to happen.
(I still have the unflavoured option to try out, but can't see how that will work at all, with nothing to mask the nasty aftertaste).
So as an option, pft dropped by REI this morning and got me three packets of Clif's Organic Energy Food - pizza margherita. (review here: http://www.bikerumor.com/2015/01/30/clif-introduces-new-organic-energy-food-including-squeezable-pizza/)
Ash bought me one of these to try when crewing at Tevis and I really liked it (consumed at 3 a.m. when I was having a lull), so hopefully it'll still seem tempting on the day.
I also grabbed a "Chia Squeeze" in strawberry and banana flavour (who knew you could get these at the supermarket?). I have no idea what it tastes like but "Each Squeeze contains 1200 milligram of Omega-3s, protein, antioxidants and more" - that has to be good, right?
The half-chaps were liberally sprayed with "suede cleaner and revitalizer" (or something), which didn't do an awful lot to soften them up, but I wore them around the barn in shorts for a while and they seemed OK, so I'm going to assume they'll be fine.
A new Tipperary helmet showed up in the mail Monday and I spent a happy hour wearing it in bed while reading (didn't get home any earlier than that). It feels snug, but not too snug. And I wore it this morning riding for 45 minutes and my head didn't start throbbing, so I'm going to assume that'll be OK also. Added sticky-backed velcro to the brim area to attach my salamander beak-brim (a super long brim to shade me from the sun so I don't have to wear sunglasses), so the helmet mine now whether I like it or not.
* * *
My list of things to do is mostly done, with the exception of "find GPS" - no clue where I put it, which is a bit disconcerting.
My duck list currently looks like this: