Lucky 2, Me 3

I’ll try to be slightly less verbose than yesterday. 😉 Today was good, in different ways. There was no right-lead canter (score: Lucky 1, me nil) but when the evil scary golf cart came out of the scary woods of scary, rather than getting off or retreating immediately, I let him look for a minute and then got the bit back and had him walk on, and keep walking. (Score: One-all. I’m not counting failure to spook at J. driving the tractor with the rake around the hay field at the center of the track as a point for me because Lucky is largely indifferent to tractors. He doesn’t care about golf carts close up, either, but golf carts emerging from the woods so far away it took me a minute to figure out what on earth he’d decided to tap-dance about apparently are another story.)

Because J was out in the field, the gate at the end of the lane was open. I thought we might at least go down and take a look at an area without fences. Lucky decided he would rather turn in circles than walk down the lane towards the open gate. I lost that argument (Lucky 2, Me 1). It was a Pyrrhic victory for him, though, because I picked up the mounting steps and said “Okay, wise guy, we’ll go work in the round pen.” There was still no right lead canter, though we got around a couple times on the left. Then I decided if we were going to loaf, we’d play cowpony. I wasn’t really neck reining so much as driving with my seat and laying the rein on his neck when I did. He seemed to have the general idea, though turning right required some additional persuading.

I opened the gate and we rode over to the big ring. At this point I was figuring I would cool him out by walking him around the ring a few times. I managed to open the round pen gate from his back, and tried for a repeat performance closing the big ring gate. Today he decided that he really didn’t want to walk to the gate. Really, not, no thank you, not going up to the fence. That’s strange. He even stretched his nose back to my boot, like “See? I bend. I can do that.” Leg leg leg and a pop with the bat changed his mind. If anything, he backed better with the gate this time. (Score: 2 all.)

He probably was screaming horsey expletives at me in his head when after some lazing around, I saw the B.O. and Lucky’s Masseuse (Laura of Touch of Soule Massage Therapy–she does horses and small animals, and I’ll happily e-mail her contact info to anyone in the area who’s interested) walking behind the barn. So I opened the gate and we rode over. The B.O. suggested they walk out to the track with me, probably suspecting (rightly) I was as uneasy about the whole prospect as he was. I don’t actually think Lucky is spooky. It’s just highly disconcerting when he checks out by checking out what’s going on miles away. It’s unnerving to be on a horse who’s not listening. I also wasn’t sure how he would think of walking onto a track with a person on either side. His masseuse offered to show how she jogs him after his therapy, but my butt, to be frank, had had enough trotting for the moment. (That saddle may be comfortable for Lucky, but Prix des Nations are like sitting on boards.)

Going out on the track was definitely anticlimactic. Lucky’s big issue is staring at cars on the road. The tractor, as usual, is not a problem. The new hay, on the other hand, is both very interesting, and scooped up by the BO makes an excellent motivator for keeping his attention on the close in, rather than what’s going on half a mile away. Once we walked back to the barn, I tried the pasture again, and on our way out, despite a repeat attempt at avoidance, I figured since the gate was still open, we could go out by ourselves. (Lucky 2, Me 3. Go me!) This time, I walked him up the track, and then turned him into the big hayfield (the part that’s been cut and baled already.) I stuck to a walk in the field, since I don’t know where the holes and other booby traps are, but he turned both directions and looped back and forth with a minimal amount of looky-louing. Back on the track, I walked him up on the left around the curve past the scary woods of doom (my one concern, sudden deer appearances, seemed unlikely with the tractor and rake running) and turned and jogged him back in a two-point. I don’t know if he really gets this is a track (going out with another horse could be an interesting experiment) but he definitely had a bigger, springier trot.

Figuring this was probably enough for one day (Lucky felt that probably about a half-hour or more back) I walked him back to his pasture and made another few loops to cool down, and continued to mess with his head by dismounting out there (I spotted an ancient rusting horse shoe on the ground and wanted to pick it up.) Back in the barn, he made it plain that whatever else I wanted to do, it had better involve him just standing there. Considering he was at most mildly damp under the saddle pad, I think he was playing up the drama just a little bit, especially shoving his face into the running hose and letting his head hang for me to squeeze a sponge between his ears and rub his face with a towel. He got ridden for a little over an hour, he did not work two miles and finish with a fast eighth. I hosed down his legs and gave him liniment anyway, and a few extra peppermints. I won, but I think he earned it.

Me aside: Someone kindly explain how I walked the dogs two miles, had a dance lesson, lunch out, spent all afternoon at the barn, cleaned all my tack, fertilized the plants, and I STILL feel like I didn’t get anything done today? Also, I will be on vacation next week, and part of that is hopefully high-speed wireless at the hotel. There will hopefully be photos, including kitten photos.

Okay, I think I did accomplish sunburn on my arms. I need to get new sunscreen–the spray I got made my arms break out in a major rash.

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I need a right-hand man.

Well, actually, a left-hand man. Any man. (But that’s another blog.) It isn’t even so much I’m worried about hurting my hand when I ride as there are times when it would be really, really helpful to be able to close my left hand completely. Such as today. Since for once it was sunny (hot, even) and I had time, and had walked the dogs, and had nowhere I needed to be I figured that it was a good day for a ride. Lucky was less positive, but he was good as usual for grooming and saddling. We had one unexpected bounce when some sort of doggy disaster broke out across the road, involving screaming and running. Otherwise, Lucky was he normal phlegmatic self, ignoring the tractor mowing the pastures.

Before I bought Lucky I had said that if I bought a horse again I wanted a packer. And as I’m riding around the round pen practically on the buckle I realized that in certain respects I absolutely have. Lucky is happiest at a stop, but will cooperate with a walk without too much urging. Trotting actually went reasonably well. In lieu of working on the canter (as I really do need both hands for that) I’ve started on stretching and turns on the forehand. Lucky is tolerant of this. He also was quite tolerant of my opening the gate off his back again. This required my leaning WAY over on the post and reaching across his neck with my right hand to lift the gate up. He also seemed generally more accepting of the Kimberwicke, which is good, because I am not in a position to adjust a lot of tiny little stubborn buckles to swap bits again.

Unfortunately we got out of the round pen and his response to walking to the big ring was “Aw, hell, no!” With a side order of “I don’t wanna and you can’t make me.” Quite literally–this was not a major explosion in horse terms, but he made it explicitly clear that he was not turning right when ‘right’ meant going to the ring, not going forward when pointed in that direction, and would in fact go backwards rapidly if necessary to avoid either of the former. Given I have no effective way of using both reins to correct him, this is not helpful. So I got off and we had a walk. I’m sure he feels that was some sort of win, and it’s insanely frustrating that I can’t really do anything about it, but I cannot think of what I’d do with one rein.

Too bad for Lucky my brother is coming to visit next week. The one who’s been riding a jumper of unknown origins (he was apparently a rescue, possibly some sort of QH cross, who LOVES to go fast) that takes a lot more whoa than go, and a Percheron/TB cross who, much like Lucky, needs more go than whoa. And he has two functioning hands and lots of prior experience riding an OTTB. So even if I can’t steer very well, someone’s coming to visit who can.

No, I didn’t see the Preakness…

We were stuck in Three Rivers with a flat tire. My doctor would be so proud–I did NOT ride, just went out with my parents to groom and handwalk a bit. Lucky is almost, ALMOST shed out. I found a very bumpy, scaly patch under his mane that was apparently the best itchy spot to curry ever. Not just leaning into it, full-on head-up teeth-clacking itchy spot. So he also got a spongedown with an iodine wash again when I was done. After some walking and grazing (because grass tastes better on the outside of the pasture fence) I put him back out. My finger was absolutely fine, of course. Then I dropped a can of dog food on it at Tractor Supply. Of course, the dogs are trying to take me out. (But it was 3/$1!) Even long-distance. When we came OUT of TSC, we discovered that the van had picked up a nail or pin of some sort, probably at Home Depot (yes, it was a ‘toy store’ stop! I’m fantasizing about new floors, and tomorrow we garden. And grill. I will probably do more grilling than digging, as I don’t need two hands for that.) So instead of getting home in time to see the race, we had to wait for AAA to come and patch it, then find a gas station with an air pump. Not that I feel especially gypped–I was not expecting great things from Super Saver, though I am sorry to not have seen Lookin at Lucky win. He was my Derby pick.

Spring Sillies

An e-mail update from the BO this morning. Yesterday, we had pretty constant cold rain, so everyone stayed inside. When she went out this morning apparently Lucky was a little pushy about going out, though he waited when asked. When she turned him out in his pasture, he decided to have a gallop around, complete with bucks, and he finished by rearing up at Dino. (Dino, apparently, gave him a look like “You crazy, man.”)

I have seen the specialist about my finger. Besides a bone fragment in the joint, I have what is called an enchondroma in the fingertip. It’s a bony tumor that makes the bone brittle. It’s in the distal phalanx, the tiniest bone, so if they operate they can’t put a plate on, just clean it out and pack it. Apparently these are little tumors that usually don’t get found unless you break another bone and they notice it on x-ray. He put a new, more comfortable splint on my hand, which is nice. What isn’t nice is he really does not want me riding or dancing or doing anything where I might “fall.” I really don’t think he’s being realistic here. So far I’ve banged it around mostly at home. I’m not kidding myself that I COULD fall riding (dance not so much–I’m not doing anything like lifts likely to cause a fall, and if I trip I have someone to catch me!) But I think he is drastically misreading where I’m likely to hurt myself. So we’ll see how well I listen.

Bit of Bother

The weather is indeed very much improved. It’s colder than I think it ought to be in May, but it was sunny and clear, which was an improvement. (And of course cold means fewer bugs, so even that has its good points.)

I think that Lucky is not feeling the love for the jointed Uxeter Kimberwicke. First, he continued to be a butt about bridling, though part of that might be I can’t use my left hand as effectively with the splint on. Once I’m up, the curb action seems to prevent the giraffe imitations he was doing with the D ring snaffle, but he chews constantly and turns his head side to side, as with the Dee. I was trying the Kimberwicke as I think the rubber pelham I have is a little too large (not width of his mouth, thickness of the bit), but the only one I have on hand is jointed. In fact besides the pelham everything I have is a single-joint: the kimberwicke, the copper dee, a jointed eggbutt that is 5 1/4″ and would therefor be too big for him, and a full cheek that came with the used bridle that’s 4 3/4″ and would be too small. I think I need to find a thinner mullen mouth pelham, rubber if possible.

Or maybe I should borrow one of the BO’s Tom Thumbs. I have never encountered a horse less interested in bit contact. I almost wonder if he’s afraid that if he leans on the bit I’ll ask him to run! In the bits with a curb, he limits his head-lifting, but I’m starting to think I could ride him without the snaffle rein. Even at the trot (and the canter, when we get it) he’s going off my leg, but largely ignoring the bit. He’ll turn from the rein if I ask, he lowers his head if I tap the curb, but in general he goes forward from the leg, slows from the seat, and he’s grasping when to move laterally away from the leg as well. He even managed a very slow, very hesitant, lots of encouragement turn on the forehand today. (All right, moving away from the right leg required a bop from the bat behind my leg, and both directions took a VERRRRY long time, but it’s not a timed event, and he didn’t back or try to walk forward more than a step.) He also stretched at a stand-still til his nose touched my boot.

Yes, I did all this with the splint. We stuck to the round pen, as I didn’t want to chance anything where I might need to really have use of my left hand. We even got something of a canter, and it only took two tries for it to be the left lead. I’ll see the bone and joint specialist tomorrow, and hopefully get some idea about when I can start getting some use back.

OW.

So, this post may contain typos. And will likely be short.

First, the horse is fine. I may, in fact, try swapping bits again. Possibly the kimberwicke (jointed), and see if a jointed bit is a little kinder now his own teeth aren’t gouging him. Lucky got an iodine bath, and at the vet’s suggestion he’s getting an extra dose of ivermectin. I knew that the hair loss and dandruff wasn’t sarcoids. I’m not 100% that it’s parasites and not fungus, but that’s what the vet suggests. So I picked up an extra dose at TSC after the barn. The BO, by the way, said that he did seem to be eating a little funny Friday night, but is fine now. His mouth looks good, and he seemed less reluctant about the bit (but still vague on steering.)

Now, the reason for typos/brevity: while walking the dogs after I got home from the barn I stumbled, and when I put down my hand to break the fall and broke my finger. A man stopped driving by, and the lady who lives in the house nearest was out with her dog saw and came over after he drove off. Her name is Kathy, and she’s seen us walking by before. She drove me and the dogs back to my house (a little over a mile–without the dogs I could probably have walked, but my hand was very sore) and I decided to drive myself in to the ER. (If I had a manual, that probably would have been a lot harder.) Our local ER has a thirty-minute guarantee to be seen by a doctor, and I’ll give them that, it only took a little over two hours total. Upshot is, I have an intracapsular break on the middle finger of my right hand-basically, I broke the middle joint. I heard something crack as it hit the pavement and it was pretty swollen and I couldn’t move it, so I was pretty sure it was a break. I have a splint, and a scrip for the 600mg ibuprofen they gave me to bring down the swelling.

So, we’ll see how the barn goes. Lucky may have to learn how to neck-rein fast.

Gone Walkabout

Between cramps, fatigue, and just a general desire not to deal with anything up to and including getting out of bed (fortunately for the dogs’ bladders I managed that part) I decided not to ride today. Instead, I figured if I did a lot of grooming, I might not get all the winter fuzz off, but there’d be less of it next time. In an interesting inverse of my old horse, Lucky appears to be shedding out to a darker summer coat than his red-brown winter coat. Benny would turn black in the winter, and shed out to seal brown. Today he got the curry, the stiff brush, the soft brush, and the rub rag, and he was more than happy to stand there all day if I wanted. I’m starting to see the light at the end of the winter-coat tunnel.

And it’s not that I doubt the vet. But I still very strongly question her calling the bare patches and dandruff sarcoids. For one thing, I wouldn’t expect those to respond to iodine and bag balm. I am tempted to treat one of the spots with a topical fungicide and see if that speeds any healing. I had thought about giving him a full iodine bath today, but the high today was maybe the low fifties.

So instead we took a walk. The farm has a training track–nothing too impressive, just a half-mile sand oval that’s pretty narrow. I haven’t had Lucky out there before, and I’m honestly not entirely sure he recognizes it as a track, or at least I wasn’t three-quarters of the way around. Even though we did spend the last furlong with him jogging and crab-stepping, I don’t know for certain that he decided this was a track and that was appropriate, or if he was simply anxious to get back to the pasture area and closer to the other horses. We also hit the scary, scary woods and the trails there, and in that case I’m pretty sure it’s simply that he can smell and hear the others, but can’t see them. Especially when Dom and Peanut (next door horse) started calling. As long as he had the chain on, my arm got tired, but he kept it to prancing. We also had a lesson while walking on the track in “Crowd my space, get poked with my elbow.” Lucky does at times have issues when walking with “my space” versus “his space.” He’s not being aggressive, just I think genuinely clueless.

After our walk, he got another rubdown and his iodine and liniment, followed by cookies and a peppermint (his favorite part of the day.) When I put him back in his pasture, he had a gallop in a circle before settling down to graze. No bucks, and it wasn’t exactly a flat run, but it’s good to see him being a horse.

I brought home his extra halter (the track halter) to clean so I can swap them out and clean the one he’s wearing, which has sand ground into it. I cannot be the only person out there who gets fed up with the fuzzies and sponge bits from trying to use a rag or sponge and just puts the mink oil on with their hands, right? Right?

Also: In the time it took to write this, I normally would have scanned most of my favorite forums on COTH. Instead, I barely finished reading the one thread about McLain Ward and Sapphire at the World Cup. I don’t know what’s a bigger train wreck, the FEI ruling or this thread. I can’t believe it took until page 17 or 18 to get Godwined, but it’s still going on. Godwin means thread’s over, guys!