Yeah. That’s kind of how I’m feeling right now. Just…”oof”. Lots of things going on, lots of things to think about!
So, with the lameness workup looming in our immediate future, I’ve decided to work Image as if he was not lame in any way, shape or form. I’ve taken him off the CortaFlx for now so when Dr. McGee comes on Monday, we’ve got the full effect of whatever the hell is going on back there.
So, with my plan firmly in place, I was all set and ready to go to the barn and ground drive him on Monday afternoon. I left work and it was sprinkling a little. Oh well, no big deal. It’s warm enough out where it wasn’t going to bother me.
…except, when I got to the barn, we were in the throes of a full fledged thunder storm.
I darted into the barn, drenched from the 30 second sprint across the grounds. Image was smart and was stashed away in one of the sheds, and all I could see was his tail. I took a minute to chat with L, before booking it out to the paddock. With all the rain we’ve gotten, the middle paddock was mud soup. I sunk nearly to the top of my muck boots. Squishing and sloshing across the mud was super fun. Image peered at me skeptically from underneath the shed: “You’re sadly mistaken if you think I’m coming out of here.”
Well, cookies and snuggles overrode his desire to be dry. We jogged back into the barn, where I stared forlornly at the ring. No ground driving for us, I guess.
Instead, I threw his bridle on with the Herm Sprenger d ring, which he seems to prefer over the thinner Myler d ring. I really wanted to work on his reaction to the bit — he really, really is not thrilled with anyone being “in” his mouth, so to speak. So, I spent about thirty minutes flexing him back and forth in the bridle. He learned VERY quickly that if I pick up a rein and he softens his face, there’s no more pressure! Ta-da! Now, I’ve been flexing him side to side in the halter and bridle for quite some time, but now it was working on finessing the response.
From there, I started asking, from the ground, for him to drop his nose when he has equal pressure on both reins. This was a little tougher for him. His immediately response when there’s any sort of pressure on his mouth, is to throw his head up. If throwing his head up doesn’t immediately resolve this issue, he will sometimes pop up in front. Yeah, that ain’t gonna fly. So, I figured fixing this response on the ground first was the way to go.
It didn’t take him long to figure it out. With gentle pressure on both reins, he was beginning to soften his jaw, drop his nose, and flex at the poll. Good, good critter! I ended it on a good note and shared half a bag of baby carrots with him. He loves his horse cookies, but he begs so hard for the baby carrots that he practically turns himself inside out. The only other thing he begs that hard for is my Nature’s Valley crunchy granola bars! Mooch!!
Yesterday I made a last minute decision to hike down to the river with him. L and fellow boarder R made the last minute decision to come with. We were a very interesting group…R on her quarter horse, Foxy, me walking Image, and Lwith her pointer/cattle dog cross running about between all of us…and Annie the goat. Yup, Annie the goat came with us! It was a good half hour hike down to the river, and it was mostly uneventful. L and R went off up ahead…L likes to jog and R and Foxy were toodling along at a nice trot. Image and I were a bit behind…sorry, buddy, but your mother is a liiiittttllee out of shape!
|R and Foxy, L and Annie, and Angel in front of L!|
When we got to the river, he didn’t hesitate to plunge into the water. The river had a slightly stronger current than the last time I was there, but nothing that was unsafe. Image playfully splashed in the water, blowing bubbles and pawing hard enough to send cascades of water over my head. L and Annie the goat splashed around on the bank, and R and Foxy went to the deep end to play.
It was shortly after this that the combined commotion from the various parties got the little black horse a little more revved up than I’ve seen him on the ground. He stood at attention and danced excitedly in the water. When we went to shuffle out of the water, he tried to barrel past me. I moved to get out of his way (and preparing to reprimand the crap out of him for even THINKING that this sort of thing was okay), and, ungracefully, slid in the mud. Shit.
I went down practically underneath him, and my honest but goofy critter threw his legs in odd directions to avoid stepping on me as he bounced up the bank. I sat on the ground and he stood, legs splayed and not moving a muscle. I carefully handed L the lead line before struggling upright.
Needless to say, we had words. He was high as a kite and spent a few minutes doing very impressive flying pace circles around me. Once he asked to stop, I pushed him forward a little more, and then allowed him to stop. This continued for about five minutes. L and R were getting eaten alive, so I waved them off while I dealt with my overexcited, thousand pound critter.
Oddly enough, the second the rest of the crew was out of eyesight…he snorted a blustery sigh, dropped his head into my chest for a moment, and then began searching the ground for tasty things to eat. The crazy look in his eye disappeared and he was back to his usual, level headed self. Goofball. I usually do these treks alone, so in hindsight, it doesn’t really shock me that he was practically levitating, with the added noise and commotion. Just add that to the list of things to work on, because group trail riding is hopefully in our future!
We waded back into the water so I could try and get the rest of the mud off of me. He was a perfect gentleman, including standing stock still when I told him to “whoa” so I could get out of the water first.
Our walk back was entirely uneventful, with him walking energetically by my side. The mosquitos were vicious, and I’m sporting the proof of that today. Must. Not. Itch!!
Today was a break for all parties (I am so happy to be sitting on the couch at 8 PM and not driving home from the other side of the state!). Tomorrow I will be headed back to NH to house sit, and only mere minutes from the critter. Hopefully, I will be able to trailer Image off site and work with him in a real round pen…and stuff him in my friend’s front paddock in the late afternoon so I can get some fabulous, end of the day light pictures in a very pretty, grass filled front pasture.
Then, Monday is our lameness workup. I am scared and excited, all at the same time. I am hoping, praying, and begging for the best outcome possible…hell, I even made a leap of faith and purchase as lower end but function Australian saddle for the two of us to try out with the idea that we will be working on his under saddle issues in the next month. I’m hoping optimism works in my favor.
We shall see!