These Times Make You Wonder…

Reason has been foot sore for a week and one day now.  I feel helpless and it’s been hard not to mope around while my horse sits in discomfort.  The good thing is, that Reason is steadily getting better.  The first couple of days he stayed in his paddock, 24/7.  I could tell he wanted to come out but would rather not..  He became a little stocked up behind because he wasn’t moving.  After the first critical days, I began to take him on the short walk to his stall at night.  It makes sense that the hooves need circulation (movement) to help the hoof adjust and grow, but at the same time I didn’t want to hurt him.

Now I’m taking Reason into the round-pen and where he is asked to free walk, slowly more and more each time.  He seems to like this and finds comfort in the idea of being in there and “playing.”  His expression is becoming happier and less depressed.  Poor Reasy :(.

So this of course means that little walks and hoof rehab are our life right now.  I think he’ll be fine within a couple more weeks, but I hope there is now long-term hoof (and therefore other) issues related to the trim that caused him this discomfort..  My farrier (barefoot trimmer resource), who I’ve had a relationship with for over 5 years, has never caused my horses to be uncomfortable before.  He worked on Ink and worked on Errika for quite some time.  TB feet are known for their lack of strength and stability.  Having had two OTTB’s now that went barefoot post track, the transition is slow and not always easy.  Their feet have been  under pretty big demands at a young age, along with being shod the entire time they were on the track, that to me it sounds normal for a horse in a transition stage to be “sensitive” during the process and after a fresh trim as well in the transition stage.  But sore like this, is not normal.  Ah, sigh :/.

I can’t wait to get back to riding and working with him….but  I have to say these times when things are temporarily going in a different direction, make you appreciate the little things.  If anything, just hanging out with the pretty dark horse, makes me learn more things about him and love him and feel even more confident about the way things are going and will be going when we do get back to work.  


Ride #6 – Its A Good Place To Be

On Friday was the sixth ride.  It was good from start to finish. 

Thursday, however, Reason was acting a little weird.  He was being kind of a brat, to put it simply.  I was doing some ground stuff before I was going to get on and to my disappointment, but understanding, Reason was just not into it.  I kind of felt discouraged.  It was just one of those days.  Instead of pressing the issue, and this had nothing to do with any insecurities about riding him, I thought it was good to stop and call it a night.  No mind, no ride. 

Friday though, Reason was being really good.  In all honesty I was almost concerned about how quiet he was being.  Nothing else gave me any indication that things weren’t right.  Matt chalked it up as Reason being “sorry” for yesterday, hehe.  It was just nice to me that we came out from a less than good day, the day before, to Friday being a nice clean slate.

Reason has this thing about the cross-ties.  No, I don’t think cross-ties are a safe place to put a horse in general.  They can be dangerous.  Of course almost everything can be dangerous if you think about it…  But, Reason is smart in the cross-ties.  He knows to move into pressure.  Nothing I honestly taught him, just proof he has a good head.  So I don’t worry about him getting himself into trouble in them.  But what Reason does is walk backwards while I try to get to his sides to brush or put the saddle on.  He’s not being evasive.  He seems to want to follow me.  He backs up and gets to the end of the cross-ties (cringe) and then stops and I ask him to move forward.  So finally, on Friday I figured out how to fix the issue.  I think about him standing still and walk to his side, if he moves I apply pressure behind and the minute he either steps forward I stop.  It worked well and I was able to go about grooming and tacking with a very quiet horse :). 

The ride was good.  I mounted on my nice horse and we walked around.  It was dark outside but Reason was being very good. 

Before and after a ride I have to ice his leg and I took up the opportunity on Friday to just hang with him which was nice.  No purpose, just hangin’! 

I’m instructed to ride him 3-5 times a week, doing a forward walk for 10 minutes, the first week. 

I planned on riding today to officially begin our first week of structured rehab work, but unfortunately it didn’t work out….

Reason had his feet trimmed today (they look great) but he’s pretty ouchy behind.  So I guess we’ll have to wait it out and see what happens.  A couple days off and he’ll have to stay in his paddock so not to hurt the feet by walking out on the hard ground and rocks :(.     

The Results Are In : The Bowed Tendon Status!

Yesterday, a page was turned and a new has been revealed.  The bowed tendon is healed!  Simply put, Reason’s vet could not find the exact place of injury through ultra sound because of how it’s healed.  Which is obviously good but also gives us only an idea of location and no concrete answers.  But, that aside, we now have our rehab program to bring him back into work or into his new career!

I was so relieved.  I am so relieved.  I’m very happy and excited!  I didn’t doubt the outcome of the overall picture regarding the tendon, but it’s nice to know speculation and feeling is reality!

Reason also got his sheath cleaned and teeth done.  He had a little baby tooth that was extracted.  It was waiting for me :).  Now I have Reason’s last baby tooth…lol.  The teeth need a little work to get them back on track (no pun intended).  Reason was good the whole time and I was so proud of him.  I just love him to bits and am so excited.  I thank Ink and my lucky stars and Felicia for sending me this horse.

Let the games begin!  More later :).

Ride #4 & #5 – Reason is it Getting Together..

I forgot to write about Reason’s fourth and fifth ride.  Both of which were successes! 

Ride 4, was to be deemed the first time he was to wear the Dressage saddle.  An official tack up and ride out.  It just so happened that the conditions to take another, small but good step, in the right direction, was not ideal.  It was a cold and dreary day.  It had rained the day before and I believe earlier.  I arrived late and was tacking up while the sun went down.

In my previous observations, the night is not the best time to ride.  Sure, the arena is scary for some horses when it’s night.  There are shadows and riders are usually more uneasy due to the noises in the distance, sometimes the horses in the fields below that suddenly (to the eye that can’t see them in the darkness) break into mad gallops across the field.  It’s not the most ideal time to ride if you or your horse are not used to it.  Reason is less concerned about the obvious, even the horses when they gallop in the distance, but he expresses his opinion that the food waiting in the barn or in his paddock, is way more appealing.  This makes me want to work him at night, so we can establish that riding at night is good and food can actually wait.  Once I can jump-start his work ethic with things that are actually fun and challenging, I think we can achieve that.  But for now, riding at night isn’t the best thing.

I tested the buttons before mounting, along with Reason’s new learning’s of the very beginnings of the Spanish walk.  (He’s very smart and sensitive and this is coming fast.  Passage is in his very near future hehe…).  All was good and I thought that it was time to mount.  Mounting didn’t come easy, unfortunately.  The work with the mounting block needs to be finished with more solo work.  He stands quiet and willing now but only if I have a handler.  I thought for a second about why he didn’t want to stand still.  Maybe he’s trying to tell me something?  Yes, he was.  It was him saying, “food isn’t here, lets leave, no riding.”  I repeatedly told him “No,” and the only way I knew how to do this was treat him when he stood at the mounting block and move his feet any which way when he didn’t want to be there.  It worked, because in some 5 minutes, I was able to mount up on my still and willing horse. 

Reason still protested here and there about wanting to go back to the barn.  He was willing to walk us both back up there.  But I made him keep moving along, practicing halting and leg cues as usual.  Once as we were heading away from the arena exit, he so wanted to use, he hopped up and tossed his head in opposition.  Although I had no clear indication, besides his obvious but kind way of telling me he wanted to go eat, I didn’t feel unsafe or worried.  I’m not listening to his ideas and in a last ditch effort, he tried to explain that he wanted to leave.  That was the only time he offered that reaction.  But the whole ride, I felt like he was in and out.  I took it for what it was, a ride with repetition of the things learned the last ride, but no real discussion or real communication going on.  It was good for what it was and that’s good to me!

Ride #5 was better and another breakthrough was made. 

I tacked up again, this time during the later afternoon.  Everything was good.  It was a little crisp outside and Reason appeared a little fresh-y, not bad, but enough so that I wondered slightly what kind of horse I would encounter.  He saw the cows again in the pasture that can be seen from the arena and looked on with his head high in the sky.  But, and this is what was good, much quicker than last time, Reason was OK with it and observed without appearing worried, more intrigued than anything.  I don’t think he’s going to be the kind of horse that will be the type that spooks at the same boulder on the trail every time, despite going past it a million times.

I mounted on a horse that was happy to be there.  My dad and his friend, who likes horses, were there as I just had gotten up.  I walked Reason around, practicing the brakes, steering and even some lateral flexion.  Then we stopped at the rail so Reason, who was so into socializing with the human spectators and desperately wanted to go see them, eagerly smelled and visited with his new found friend.

We got walking again, but Reason kept wanting to go back to my Dad’s friend. 

I was so proud…  I’ve been toying with asking Reason to back up under saddle, which he knows well on the ground and is quickly understanding the verbal cue “back,” and he did it!!  Without hesitation and as if he’d done it a million times before, he stood staring and wanted to visit and graciously backed up for me!  Ok, that was a successful ride for me!

As my dad and his friend left, about 5-10 minutes later, Reason looked on like a sad little kid watching his friend from the back seat of his parents car, heading into the distance, another play-date comes to an end.  It was the cutest thing!  Even as they were up above the arena, walking back to the truck, Reason kept looking on. 

We walked a little more, Reason followed my mom on foot.  And then, for the first real time, I asked for a very baby, very simple, leg yield.  I got it!  It wasn’t much, but the right reaction was there.  That was the end of the ride.  I couldn’t be more happier.’

Here’s to #6!

The OTTB – The Horse I See, The Horse Some Don’t – Part TWO & A HALF…

I began writing this to a play list I created, a compiled of songs that reminded me of Ink.  The horse that started it all.  I type in rythm to songs such as, “Fields of Gold,” by Eva Cassidy, “Stairway To Heaven,” and “No Regrets,” by Gary Allan.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t truly feel blessed for knowing Ink.  There was nothing like sharing my life with him.  There was and never will be nothing like him.  It’s because of Ink, that I have nothing but countless amounts of energy towards trying to give people a glimpse into something and a special horse, once revered for it’s heart and courage in the world of international sport, that has sadly been forgotten…  The mis-informed, of the greatness which is the Thoroughbred.  The uniqueness which is owning and retraining an Off Track Thoroughbred.

I went back and fourth, looked up and down, to make sense of the feeling I had.  How could I write it all down, in a way that expressed, how much sense the opposite of what people saw, really made? 

Lets go back to that clinic.  If you haven’t, read Part ONE to this story before you continue reading this.

I kept looking at the horse’s eyes.  The bay OTTB who was 2 months off the track.  Everyone always says that a horses eyes at the window into the soul.  I believe it.  It was almost mesmerizing to a degree, there was nothing more important than watching him through his eyes..  I watched the horse countless times, travel by me, as I sat observing.  I was less concerned about the rider or clinician, as I was with the horse.  The horse would answer the questions I wanted to know.  I was completely reminded of why Thoroughbreds are so special, of why OTTB’s are so neat.  As the bay horse passed by me, time after time, his eyes almost spilled out.. the heart, the mind, the depth to his intense desire to please his rider, all these things are so amazing to have together in a horse.  Who cares about anything else?  There is so much you can do with all of that.  The horse could have done anything and it wouldn’t had mattered anymore.  The answer to most peoples questions, was answered.  You can trust this horse.  He’s willing to give you his all.  Wow.

So imagine as I sat there and suddenly the words, “ruined” were threw out.  In the moment, I was a little offended.  I worked so hard, put my all into Ink.  The tough, OTTB that many people didn’t believe in.  But I did.  He never was “ruined” to me, no matter what he seemed to anyone else.  What is “ruined” anyway?  Is a horse really ruined?  If so, it must be from human influence.  How could a “horse lover” so quickly write off a horse as “ruined?”  Why are people so gosh darn quick to write off OTTB’s in general as some “crazy” horses?  I want to scream..

Sure, I was thinking this all in my head.  I quickly had lots of questions.  I asked myself what about this horse we were watching, the bay OTTB, would come across as “ruined?”  People sometimes say that horses off the track are ruined, possibly because of the strenuous demands their bodies are put under during an early age or the mental stresses that accompany the track life for some horses.  Some can handle it, others not so much.  Some are destined to a life of aches and pains because of their career on the racetrack.  But does that dictate them as ruined? 

Given the situation, the horse and what was going on, I knew that the assessment given by fellow auditor, was simply because the horse exhibited things, some horse people don’t understand.  No fault of their own.  But,  you know how they say to never judge a book by it’s cover….