It’s not. I swear.
Just give me a (shiny, new, going to take forever to pay back but that’s okay) camera to take pictures with,
|Image’s perfectly kissable nose.|
It’s not. I swear.
Just give me a (shiny, new, going to take forever to pay back but that’s okay) camera to take pictures with,
|Image’s perfectly kissable nose.|
Sunday was a relatively low-key day for Image — I rode with friends in the morning on a fabulous little Walker mare. Rose was sweet and easy to pilot, even when things like gates and scary rocks made her vibrate (seriously, that’s what her spooks felt like!). After I was done galavanting around the state forests, I headed to the barn to see my little black horse. I ground drove him just a bit to get him moving, and he actually moved marginally better (at least, it seemed so from behind!). I got a good couple of quiet, relaxed laps at the walk around the ring at the end of the little ground driving session, so I called it quits there.
Monday dawned muggy and bright, which, of course, means I wore jeans instead of breeches and roasted while I was at the barn. It was a little chaotic with 10 horses that all needed shots, coggins, and their teeth done! Luckily, Image only needed his teeth done and his tear ducts flushed, thanks to B — she had Image’s spring shots done for me, which was fabulous of her. Dr. Lennon took a look at Image’s runny eyes and agreed that flushing his ducts before doing anything else was the best idea. So, my little black horse got some happy juice. Within a minute or two, I had this standing next to me:
Poor guy was easy to tranq — he’d be one hell of a cheap date, that’s for sure! Dr. Lennon flushed both tear ducts. The right one was definitely blocked, but the left one flushed easily. Hopefully that helps/clears up his runny eye issue. If not, I’m to touch base with Dr. Lennon and go from there.
|Dentist work gives me the heebie jeebies…on horses or humans!|
|Image and Annie the goat, captured by Sarah!|
|Squeee adorable pony!|
|This is from last month…I was sitting on the ground and he came to investigate.|
Do you hear that?
The chiropractor visit on Saturday was…well, it was interesting, to say the least.
Basically, his withers and shoulder area are so out of whack that he should be trying to kill someone for touching him there. Her theory is that he’s become so accustomed to the pain that it’s just same shit, different day for him to be sore there. She still looked a bit perplexed and said that it’s possible that it’s just not as bad as she’s feeling it to be, but her gut said otherwise.
She moved down his back and found some other “off” areas. As she was poking down his bum, she said that he was missing a piece of a bone on his left buttcheek (very technical term, buttcheek…snork!). It’s likely it was broken off during some sort of accident — if he reared and fell backwards, busted through the back of a trailer that had a butt bar up, or even if someone smacked him hard enough with a solid object back there. She had me feel it — his left buttcheek was squishy in that area and there was a slight dent, while his right buttcheek obviously had something of substance underneath the skin and muscle.
That could very well be contributing to the hitch he has on his left hind. He showed no reaction to us poking and prodding at his bum, so it’s honestly a bit hard to tell. Sigh.
Dr. Crane and I scheduled another appointment for the 3rd. She left saying that she would be thinking about Image for quite some time, as there wasn’t 100% a clear answer as to what was causing his hind end stiffness. She also said that usually, her kinda-sorta-maybe cases tend to be the ones that “clear up” the fastest…so, we’ll see!
After she left, I walked him out to a nearby clearing, sat in the grass, and let him munch while I read a book. After about twenty minutes, he moseyed over to where I was and stood next to me. I looked up at him., and he lowered his head to mine, resting his head in my lap. I about exploded from the cute factor and gave him lots of ear scratchies for his troubles. I adore this little black horse from the tips of his ears to the very last strand of hair on his tail.
Okay, long post is long so I must get to bed. Details on the vet and dentist tomorrow, plus Sunday’s escapades.
Which is not today. Today is Friday, which means it’s almost Saturday. I suck at blogging sometimes.
I, last minute, decided to make the trek to the barn last Sunday afternoon. I wasn’t really planning on going, because having a day to just hang out, catch up on TV, and do some chores was on my agenda. Then I realized it was Mother’s Day, and decided I needed to be with my horse instead of inside my own head.
So, up to the barn I went. I had no real plans as to what I was going to do, outside of groom him (again. HOW he still has winter fur left, I honestly don’t know…). I just wanted to be with him.
I got more happy pony faces as I curried him yesterday. He especially loves his chest, withers, and butt (sigh) scratched as hard as possible. He tends to be on the more reserved side when he’s not actively reacting to something scary, so seeing him respond to something pleasurable like grooming does my heart good. He’s always loved his forehead rubbed, though, so I always make sure to curry there for an extra long time.
I had brought a bag of baby carrots with me to munch on and share with the herd. Image, probably because he was a show horse at one point or another, has always turned his nose up at fruits and veggies. I hadn’t even really bothered with him after B told me that he’d had no interest in apples or carrots since she had them. He hadn’t ever shown interest in any apple I was eating at the barn, either, so I figured it’d just be more annoying to him than anything else to be offered a snack and have to spit it out!
Well, as I was crunching carrots and chattering at him, he kept looking at me like I had something tasty. Out of curiosity, I offered him one.
I don’t think he even chewed the damn thing before begging for another one.
Well, all righty then.
I gave him another and put the bag down. He persistently (but politely) asked for more for a solid minute, tilting his head and reaching towards me in that adorable way of his. I may or may not have caved. Ahem.
|“MORE PLZ KTHX”|
I decided that instead of hand walking him like I planned, it would be good to mix it up with a bit of ground driving. I tacked him up and off he went. I’m very happy to report that he was a calm, steady gentleman as we headed down to the trails. He navigated the terrain like a pro and calmly stopped and backed when I asked. The only (kind of funny, to be honest) issue he had was mostly my fault, but something we worked on: I had to stop over a log on the ground and being…well, me, I kind of tripped. He did NOT like the sudden movement behind him and scooted forward. Luckily, I got my feet back underneath myself and a solid “whoa” stopped him dead in his tracks. I experimented later by purposely jumping up and down behind him a bit and he was NOT pleased with this. Thankfully, he is extremely respectful of the very mild bit in his mouth and mostly danced in place. It took just a few repetitions before he was standing, albeit tensely, and not trying to skitter away from the crazy person doing jumping jacks behind him. Good pony 🙂
I called it a day there and let him graze. I always work with him with a halter underneath his bridle, so I unbridled him and he munched happily on the grass. We were there for about five minutes when I got a call from my sister, who asked if she could bring my one year old nephew by to meet his first horse.
Needless to say, we hustled home and made sure Image was soft and shiny for little N’s first experience with horses. My little nephew is a hurricane of a kid, even at a year old, and he had no fear of Image reaching his nose out to beg him for treats (mooch!). He bounced happily on my sister’s hip and patted Image’s shoulder with little prompting. It was painfully adorable!
Tomorrow brings another massage session and our first meeting with Dr. Anna Crane, a local equine chiropractor. Monday, Dr. Lennon and Dr. Barton are out for vet work and dentist work for the entire barn…so, basically, if I don’t have his hind end issues at least kind of figured out by the end of next week, I’m probably not going to get them figured out!
So, I’ve been trying really, really hard not to let the worst case scenario take over my brain. Some days it works. Other days, not so much.
I’ve begun trying to get to the bottom of his hind end ouchy issues, starting today with the massage therapist. This lovely lady is a friend of a friend’s, and thankfully, she is doing this in exchange for some pictures of her cute little Appaloosa gelding. I had to restrain myself from giving her a full body tackle hug in thanks…I figured injuring the poor woman before she even got a chance to take a good look at Image was a bad move.
I got to the barn and groomed Image within an inch of his life. He is finally showing signs of truly relaxing — he gave me all kinds of happy pony faces when I hit itchy spots, which he hadn’t truly done before. He especially likes having his belly rubbed, which was adorable and a little weird, all at the same time. Then again, he is my horse, so it’s not a surprise that he’s a little, uh, quirky.
He’s mostly shed out now, except for that last stubborn area over his barrel. He is such a shiny black color when he isn’t bleached. The vain part of me wants to scramble for a fly sheet to keep him from bleaching out this summer. The logical part of me knows how ridiculous that is and is forcing the vain part of me to deal with the fact that my little black horse will be a little kinda-sorta-maybe black horse come September.
I finished grooming just as R, with my coworker L in tow, arrived at the barn. They were promptly greeted by the Welcome Wagon — Bruin the little brown mutt, Angel the black and white Pointer/Heeler cross, and Annie the goat. Yes, Annie the goat. She and Bruin are best buddies and they run around the farm all day. It makes for good entertainment, that’s for sure. Annie promptly put herself in the middle of R, L and I, and started inspecting everything she could get herself into:
|Helper Goat is helping. Sort of.|
After letting Annie inspect her work, R had me walk Image for her. She quickly discerned that his movement was definitely off by watching his hips — his right hip dropped quite a bit lower than his left and his stride was short behind. So, she got to work, starting at his neck and working her way down his body, one side at a time. Image thoroughly enjoyed it, leaning into R’s hands and relaxing to the point that he was nearly asleep. She did find three “troublesome” spots — both sides of his wither were VERY tight, and will take a lot of work to loosen up (bells went off — wither ouchies + saddle = kaboom? Maybe…). He also had multiple tight spots on his rump area that will take a few sessions to get out, especially on his right side (compensating for his left? Not sure). Other than that, there wasn’t anything that set off warning bells for R. Image was a perfect gentleman for all of it, including the spots that were ouchy. The most he did was step away from her pressure if it was too much for him. He really is a good, kind little black horse.
After she was done, I walked him out and he was definitely freer in the hind end. Woo! I did a mental happy dance. R wrote me up a quick outline of everything we did, and scheduled another appointment for the 18th, before the chiropractor comes out.
I did ask her advice on what sort of work, if any, I should be doing at this point. She confirmed that the in hand walks were a great idea, especially because it’ll keep him from stiffening up again. She showed me some tricks to help keep his problem areas a little looser, including how to curry those areas to get the blood flowing during grooming.
It was an extremely informative session and I am left feeling much less in the dark (even though nothing was really figured out) about what is going on with this goofy little horse. He looked so relaxed after the session that I was seriously contemplating looking for a place to get a massage, myself! Then I realized: my horse has had more massages than I ever have…and he’s only had one!
We took a walk down the trails after R left, and he happily walked beside me, his eyes bright with curiosity. We even saw a deer, and he didn’t bat an eye. I, on the other hand, spooked about ten feet sideways. We must have startled it out of hiding at just the right time…I was turned towards Image, taking a picture, when he suddenly picked up his head and stared to the side. The deer ran behind me and scared the bejeebus out of me. Image looked at me like I was nuts.
Which ain’t too far off the mark. Hah!
|Just as the words “what are you looking at?” left my mouth, the deer ran behind me. Aiieeee!|
We turned around and moseyed back home shortly after that. One heart attack a day is enough for me, thanks. I gave him some cookies and turned him back out, where, for the first time, he chose to stay with me in the paddock instead of immediately walking off to go harass/play with/bully Gus or Rodger. It wasn’t for very long…but just long enough for him to press nose into my cheek before wandering away. Damn horse made me tear up. Bah!
My allergy meds are kicking in, so I’m going to drag myself upstairs. I’ll relay today’s escapades, tomorrow!
My barn owner, who is fabulous and was a vet tech for quite some time, helped me out today and did some flex tests on my silly little black horse.
Front left – 2
Front right – 1
Hind left – 3
Hind right – 2
That’s on a scale of 1-5, 1 being 100% sound and 5 being dead lame.
I feel better having some sort of confirmation that I’m not totally nuts. I feel worse knowing that I was right.
So, instead of rambling on about just how worried I am at this point (which is probably an overreaction, but that’s what I’m good at), here’s a picture of my horse trying to mooch another handful of grass out of me.
Critter is negative for Lyme.
Critter is still very stiff and ouchy behind, especially in his left hind.
Chiropractor is out the 18th, masseuse either the 11th or 12th. If there’s no improvement with the addition of CortaFlex and these med appointments, it’ll be a lameness workup.
More when I get home and have some time to reorient my brain and stop it from jumping to the worst case scenario. Hah!
You know, if you had told me last May that I’d be a horse owner in a year’s time, I would have laughed my ass off at you. I would have given you ten thousand reasons as to why that was not going to happen, and about ten thousand more as to why I wasn’t going to let it happen.
Today, I am still blown away by the fact that I own a horse (and that I’ve ALLOWED myself to own a horse!). MY horse buried his head in my chest and sighed happily as I scratched his ears. I rested my cheek on the top of his head and we stood like that for quite some time. I felt calm and centered for the first time all day. It was a soothing moment, and I plan to hold that in my heart for as long as I can.
It’s not always so tranquil in my ineffectual little brain. There are days where I wonder if I’ve made a mistake, because I fear that I’m not good enough for him. There are days where I wonder if we’ll ever be able to work through his issues. I worry that I’m going to cause more problems, instead of fixing the ones he’s already got. I get nervous that I made the wrong decision in bringing him home…and by wrong decision, I don’t mean for me, but for him, because I convince myself that he could do so much better than having me as his person.
Then, he walks around the round pen with a saddle full of toys and tarps and other things and doesn’t bat an eye, or he trots a set of poles like he’s done it a hundred times, or still tries to do what I ask even when he’s obviously uncomfortable in the hind end (I moved him around me a little today to see how he was doing — the answer was blatantly obvious by his short, choppy, stiff steps behind 😦 ). He sets himself up on the cross ties and doesn’t move a muscle when he gets there, all with a point of a finger. He marches along next to me when we walk up the street, ignoring loud cars and other scary things on the road because I asked him to. He tries to do everything I ask him, even if he’s unsure or confused. It sometimes takes me a bit, but even though we’ve still got a long way to go, he’s already come so far. I’ve taught him things, and he’s learned them. That is a huge step in the right direction.
I don’t know if horses have feelings. I don’t think we can tag them with human emotions, anyway. I do think they can show affection. When he comes up to me, of his own accord, and wants to be in my presence, I take that as a good sign…and I take comfort in it. He respects me without fearing me on the ground and seeks out contact. That has to mean something, right?
He’s not perfect, and that’s okay. He’s not supposed to be perfect and I don’t want him to be perfect. I have a beautiful, well mannered little horse who’s had a hard time of it and needs help getting around it. His issues ARE fixable, it’s just a matter of getting creative and not allowing said past to be an excuse for his behaviors. That is more than I could have ever hoped for.
Now, I just need to learn to accept the fact that I don’t have to be perfect, either. For some reason, that’s proving to be a much harder task ;).
Still waiting on the vet to call me back. Hopefully I will hear from them by the end of the day tomorrow. Otherwise, I will be sitting on heads on Friday morning. I, unfortunately, had to reschedule the chiropractor that I had coming out tomorrow…which actually turns out okay, because Friend L will be giving me a lesson on her little chestnut Arab that I rode last week. Lessons are good. I need as many lessons as I can get right now!