Yesterday Reason and Errika had their stint in the dentists chair. Reason loaded up in the trailer only with minor coaxing this time. But then again it was the trailer that he likes and has always willingly loaded up into. Without having my own trailer to practice loading, I’m thankful I do have access to the trailer that all my horses have prefered to ride in. When we left the clinic, Reason loaded up without a second thought. If I could buy this trailer or one just like it, I would. I love it.
When we arrived at the clinic, Reason hopped off the trailer sweaty. He is not the happiest hauler. He stands quietly, but he gets nervous. When I got him I was told he likes to ride loose. Although he doesn’t ride loose in the trailer now, I do give him the whole back slots of the trailer to himself. He always backs up the the rear corner against the door and the right-side window and stays quiet. When it’s time to unload, he usually walks forward and waits patiently for me to get him out and he proceeds ever so cautiously to step off the trailer. Thankfully our trip was short. I’m guessing that Reason will be a happier hauler once he goes in and out like it’s just another day at the office. A routine of regular trail rides and things of that nature. He has only been hauled by myself twice, since I’ve had him, both for different purposes.
Once at the clinic both the horses were good and relatively quiet. Errika hauls well, but isn’t one to take easily to new places. Unless of course she has a buddy with her. In this case the two horses kept each other grounded and comfortable. It was peaceful and quiet at the facility, which only aided in their ability to stay relaxed.
Reason went first and Errika kept him company tied on the opposite side of the large stall. (I’d like to mention here I do not like to enable a situation where horses are reliant on each other, “herd-bound.” However I do feel like horses should have the chance to be horses, especially horses like Errika who are in their retirement and should enjoy the company they love and are happiest with. There is nothing I like to see more than my old girl grazing in the pasture accompanied by her “man.” Like-wise Errika has been great company to keep for Reason. Errika has helped Reason in many ways and he is a happier horse because of this. When Reason goes back into real work, they may be separated and Errika may have a new friend in the place of Reason, but it will be for the benefit of Reason’s growth. I want a well-rounded horse who can travel with and without company etc. Everything is done with a balance in mind and the horses comfort in mind and body, so it will be a well thought out flow of adjustment when the time comes for Reason to possibly move on to a new living situation.)
Reason has a “typical 6 y/o mouth,” the vet said. With the exception of some good sized hooks at the very back of the mouth which required the use of hand-tools to really get to. The vet drugged Reason carefully and conservatively making sure to build upon the sedation as necessary. It seemed as though Reason needed a bit more sedation than initially thought. Even when the vet began the venture into the mouth, it was discovered that Reason was almost over-riding the drugs as he displayed overly sensitive reactions to the work being done. The said work being done was gentle, careful and conservative and I felt at ease with the whole procedure. Besides Reason’s hooks and the tiny over-bite, he has a normal mouth and the vet discovered nothing directly that would be causing the swelling I described. As the vet worked on Reason it was noted that the big horse is pretty sensitive all-together and that there was certainly a possibility that Reason was/is sensitive to the bit.
I’ve thought about what I witnessed and what I’ve noticed yesterday during the appointment and also over the course of time I’ve been trying to figure everything out. To me it appears Reason IS in fact sensitive in the mouth (as with almost every other part of him) and that could have contributed to the pain I’ve been sensing with him. The vet also put in “bit seats” which makes me wonder if this could have been where most of the problem lied. Cheek flesh, sensitive soft tissue, can get pulled back when pressure is applied to the bit and can be inflicted by the fore cheek teeth (in addition to pressure on the tounge). Knowing how sensitive Reason was during his dentistry and under sedation, makes me believe that when the bit was even sitting in the mouth it could have been causing discomfort. The vet recommended a rubber bit to try as well.
Trying to put together the puzzle to get Reason through this and pin down the source of pain, has not been easy. Horses can’t talk and we must rely on our senses, in addition to a more in-depth sixth sense as it seems, to communicate and hear what they are trying to tell us. All along I’ve known something was wrong in my gut but had to take my time and be patient and listen closely. In the beginning I didn’t listen to my horse like I should have and only listened to one aspect of the whole big picture. In fact I do believe that Reason’s reactions (rearing, bucking) were to pain and discomfort and really are not related to training. I truly believe he is a wonderful, great horse with a good head on his shoulders. But as sensitive as he is, I think that is why he had the reactions he did, where maybe another horse may have only exhibited head tossing or gaping of the mouth. In addition to the discomfort, I became hesitant of doing much with Reason as I was unsure if it would cause him pain. He sensed this in me and knew he could all avoid the pain itself and the pain causer (me) with dominance. Well, now that I’ve had two professionals in different fields address him from different perspectives, I do have a clearer, better understanding of what is going on and how to change the outcome.
I have taken away a lot through this whole ordeal and have learned a lot as well. That’s what it’s all about, right? Lots of learning.
Today visiting Reason, he seemed happier, quieter and wasn’t trying to ‘tell me something.’
I think it’s safe to say that chapter has ended and a new one is beginning. Such a relief.