This New Direction..

I watched Reason go around and around, in the roundpen and I suddenly felt the unsure, insecure me looking directly into it’s mirror image.  I saw myself, standing there watching my horse go around in an almost frantic manner and felt exactly what he was doing.  I almost felt lost standing there, in the middle of the big round pen.  Helpless and as if we weren’t there but out someone else facing up to our inner demons, or something like that.  It was weird, so weird.  I have never felt like that before.  My heart began beating and my mind began racing as I watched Reason go around and could not have recognized more.

Yes, Reason got to go into the big round pen for the first time, ever, 2 weeks ago when the vet came out.

Lets start from the somewhat beginning.  Four weeks ago (maybe a bit more) I began taking Reason into the indoor roundpen to have him walk out so I could see how he was moving, after the trim that made him foot sore.  Three weeks ago, I took him into the roundpen and began asking for a little more of him in terms of walking and trotting if he wanted as he was feeling better.  Then, I decide he’s ready to go back into under saddle work again and he’s good but tries to get me off once each day of the two days I ride him.  At first, you might recall my post about this, I thought Reason was just being a rehabbing, young ottb and testing me.  But the following day when I go to first move him in hand before mounting, he’s clearly distressed.  He nips at me for the first time ever.  He’s going a bit bonkers about something.  I take him into the roundpen so he can move at liberty and I can get a better idea of what might be going on.  He starts pawing frantically, then rolling frantically, then constantly shaking his head, throwing his front legs up and acting like something is clearly bothering him.  I’ve had this horse since May and this was the first time I’ve ever seen him like this.  Some chalk it up to him rehabbing and probably having pent up energy or that he’s going back into work.  But that’s not completely true, he’s been saddled, bridled, ridden bareback and ridden tacked many times and worked with on the ground, even around other horses, including a galloping horse and horses bucking on the lunge line etc.  He’s never acted like this before, ever.

At first I was wondering what in the world was going on.  The following day I took him out again and he did the same thing.  He even shied away from being haltered when I went to fetch him from his paddock and made some funny noises when I tried to get the halter on.  I had Matt with me that time and asked him to watch Reason to see if he saw anything or what his opinion was.  Matt has a pretty black and white approach and even though he’s not the most knowledgeable in horses, he is pretty good at helping me and he is the next best person when it comes to knowing my horse.  It was pretty clear to Matt too that there was something weird going on.  When we both tried to approach Reason and touch his head for further examination, he shied away as if something was bugging him.  This made us wonder if what was going on was related to his head.  We began feeling around and Matt came across swelling behind Reason’s left ear.  It clear this was either the source or at least A source.  He did not wanting us touching it, but Matt began massaging the area which Reason seemed to like.  But each time we would try to approach him he would shy.  He would even try to nip.  Yes, clearly this was a behavior as a result of pain.  This was his way of saying, “no, it hurts, don’t touch.”

When we turned Reason out in the roundpen, he would do the same thing; frantically roll, paw, paw, toss his head, shake his head and throw his front legs about and duck his hind end under himself like something was going after him.  When we would leave his halter on it seemed to make whatever was bugging him, worse.  So we thought that the crow of the halter was exacerbating the swelling on his head.

The vet came out just over a week later and noted there was still swelling but also noted some other things which could have caused or a result of whatever happened to his head.  I thought he hit his head on something and it was only worsened by the bridle and he was getting migraines, which the vet also speculated in regards to the odd behavior.  It was progressively getting better, the pain/behavior, in conjunction with the swelling, although reason why I believed all this was related to the cause of and the swelling. 

The vet found a knot (muscle) in Reasons left cheek and pain through his neck into his back.  Could it all be related to whatever happened to his head?  Very possible, probably more than likely and even more so, made whatever else was going on his body to do compensation from the bowed tendon, demands on the body of a young horse etc, worse.  To make matters worse, Reason wasn’t moving.  His paddock got pretty mucky after the constant rain and he refused to move (which is both a good and bad thing) and also refused to roll in there.   

Now, I am moving Reason to a stall with an attached paddock for the winter, which has good footing and very good drainage, in hopes he’ll move.  It’s small enough he can’t get too silly, but enough room he can move.  He’ll also be next to other horses and be able to socialize and be almost like a real horse ;).

Things are getting better.  No more weird behavior, although Reason is still reactive to his kind of stiff body, tight muscles etc. 

So you might be wondering why I’m round-penning him?  Cardinal sin?  Well, the bowed tendon is the least of our worries now and the vet explained that it was ok.  At this point I really have no choice.  I can’t turn him out, that could be way worse, I can’t ride him until his body makes some progress and until I know he’s OK obviously.  The only way I can move him right now is at liberty and I can do that in a pretty controlled manner via the indoor roundpen.  It’s our only place of use right now.  I’ve been working on asking Reason to walk out, some trotting and even small bits of canter if he feels like it, these last two weeks.  He’s getting better and moving more freely and relaxed. So I’m going to be continuing this until he’s ready for the next step, which would be incorporating riding into the program and then hopefully wean him off the roundpenning as the core source of exercise and work.

Here is his most recent video from the roundpen..

http://www.facebook.com/v/479844991838

I have more, but I’ll save that for tomorrow!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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More than a Mirror.

I have a real blog post coming soon.  There is just so much, that as usual, I need to sit down and actually make sense of all the stuff in my head that has been building up.  🙂  It makes sense to me, but I presume that if I just blabbed it all down, it would appear as a confusing mess to you readers.

Things are well but going in a different direction.  More soon :).

The Downside of an Upside Process.

My 22nd Birthday is tomorrow.  Despite it being my birthday, I only wish my poor horse was in a better, happier position.  There is nothing as depressing and frustrating than seeing your horse in an unhappy place.  It’s all in the territory.  As a friend said to me, “two steps forward, two steps back.” 

Last week, I rode Reason twice, once Wednesday and once Thursday.  He tried to get me off once during each ride, in a kind, yet direct manner.  Looking back, it seemed not like he was trying to let out some steam and want to play and toss his rider around, but instead it seemed that he was trying to let me know he’d like me off because something wasn’t right.  Friday, Reason was pretty distraught.  He was doing pretty unusual behavior when I took him into the indoor round pen to access him.  Shaking his head constantly, pawing, striking out and then rolling.  When he’s handled on the ground, for grooming and walking, he’s fine.  Although he has been nippy when you try to get near his face.  Not in an aggressive manner, but in a, “hey don’t touch this area please.”  I’m as a loss.  It has been suggested this behavior is him just trying to find a way to release his energy.  But from the beginning, I’ve suspected pain.  Obviously I stopped all “work” with him and have been trying to explore the source of this behavior.  The rides last week was not the start to this behavior, but rather the peak.

A new problem arose as of Wednesday.  Reason was stocked up on a ll four legs.  The bowed leg was inconsistent with the other legs; the fetlock joint and pastern to coronet band was filled.  No heat, not lame.  Cold hosing and walking helped diminish the fill.

Right now things are kind of messed up.  I’m trying to re-work his living arrangements to see if he might be happier in a different area such as a stall with attached paddock so he can visit closely with other horses and still have some room to move.  The only thing is I do like the fact that he has room to play in his turnout, but not too much where I worry about him hurting himself.  Hmm..

Also contemplating some other things as well.  But for now it’s all in limbo.     

The vet will be out early next week to help me figure this out.     

Move His Feet, Move His Mind.

Errika and I last Friday on a trail ride.

Within a matter of days the hooves beneath Reason were feeling better and better.  So much so that he began bouncing around with that spark in his eye again..  Little things would make him excited or frisky – I knew he was feeling better.  I knew my horse was back.

But as it happens, there was a learning curve just ahead.  Because of the recent holiday, Thanksgiving and the events surrounding it; dinner with familie(s), work right after and just the overall busyness that surrounds such times, I was unable to really hang with Reason or do much of anything with him.  I could tell he was getting a little ‘hot’ for his own good. The day after Thanksgiving, I finished working the evening shift at the barn, went and fetched Reason, to do something with him, finally.  He was good, a little hot, but good.  Each day there-after, got worse and worse, in regards to the hotness.  I can appreciate a hot horse, but there can’t be much good that comes from a hot AND rehabbing horse.

Each night I took him out... There is where I went wrong.  Nights are bad right now.  Nights are time for warm stalls and yummy grain.  NOT for working.  This is what Reason seems to think.  In his never to be humble opinion, he lets me know just that.

Each night his attitude grows, little by little.  He’s throwing baby horse tantrums.  I know that a good go in the round pen would help us come to a good meeting ground.  But he’s rehabbing.  Round-pens and lunging are places we should not be exploring.  (Although I am, just not in the typical sense.)  So, I just do in-hand work, within the indoor round pen.  I remember someone saying that a horse doesn’t care if you can move its head, but if you can move its body and feet, that’s where truth lies.  Something like that.  I figured since round-penning (at more than just a walk) was and will be out of the question for some time, if not almost ever, I have to be creative.  I decided in-hand work, moving his feet, experimenting with lighter and softer amounts of pressure, would be a good option.  Move his feet, move his mind.

That seemed to work, pretty well.  I mean I was not completely satisfied, like if I could have actually round-penned him.  But it did enough and I know it will get better.

The simple culprit to this new found; naughty, no-not-listening, I-don’t-wanna, horse?  Grain.  Oh so simple, but oh so trouble-some..  Reason gets rice bran at night.  I usually like to wait to bring him in until I bring all the other horses in at night.  He knows what awaits him once I do finally get him.  But when I crash the dark horses parade and want to work him instead, well that just doesn’t agree with him.  I need to work Reason mostly during the day and if I do work him at night I should probably let him eat first..

Despite being, not the easiest to be around these nights, Reason is doing really well.  I’m very pleased that he’s feeling better and in turn that makes me feel better.  I love seeing him everyday and wake-up to the excitement of the future ahead.  Even if it’s something small, like going on a walk around the property or the idea of where we’re going to be a year from now.  Whatever it is, I’m excited.  I love learning and have learned so much thanks to my four-hooved animals.

Before I end this post, I would like to give some updates on Errika.  She is doing really well, to put it simply!  She’s looking better all the time and is developing muscle again thanks to our weekly trail riding!  Yes, my horse trailer was finally finished and now Errika and I do what we love to do together and that’s hit the trails.  Shes such a good horse.  I can just sit up there and she’ll safely take us up and over rocks, hills and across creeks.  I love her.