Monday, May 11, 2015

A Little Rough Around the Edges

After sitting at my sentry post most of the morning and not seeing a single car cruise past the place, I decided to go for a trail ride.  Amazingly, there were no power company trucks on the trails and no gardeners next door.  I was floating down toward the barn believing that I was finally getting the break I needed to ride a horse.  It feels like forever since I've had the freedom to just ride out without drama or interference.  I looked over to see Rock standing with his two front feet in a water trough.  He splashed around in it like a kiddie pool.

I put some things away in the horse trailer, dumped some manure, and when I got into the barn I found Rock all stretched out like he was suffering from colic.  He hadn't eaten all of his breakfast, and he's usually the first to finish eating.  I thought maybe he was just stretching out to pee, so I waited, but he never peed.  He just stood in that belly stretch posture, legs way out in front of him and way out behind him.  (Insert expletive here.)

I had told my husband that I was going to "try" to ride a horse today, "try" being the operative word, but I had very low expectations after the number of times I've been let down this past month.  So, was I surprised to find the horse that I was going to ride was sick?  No.  It's always got to be something.

But I should be grooming and walking a horse with colic anyway, so I haltered him and led him to the trailer to be groomed.  He stood normal and didn't paw the ground, so that was a good sign.  After grooming him, I led him around and he acted like his hooves were hurting him.  I wondered if he had climbed into that water trough to cool off his feet rather than just to play.  I picked up each hoof to feel for heat, but they felt normal.  No heat in the legs either.  I picked out his hooves and didn't see anything that should be bothering him.

While all this was going on, our street suddenly turned into Grand Central Station with cars racing back and forth.  I tried keeping an eye on the road to see if there were strangers.  One truck turned out to belong to the paper delivery service.  A person threw the paper out the window toward my driveway, but missed.  The paper landed in a cactus.  I thought, "Thank God I wasn't riding up the driveway when they showed up.  I'm sure Rock would have been startled to have this truck race past at 45 mph and see something come flying out the window toward him."

Either that or he would have thought it was a new toy and caught the newspaper in his mouth so that he could shred it.

Then I heard a couple of really big trucks start to come up the street and then stop.  The neighbors who normally had dump trucks visit their place have gone back to New Mexico, so it couldn't have been for their construction project.  I thought I'd better lead Rock out onto the bridle trails to see if the Power Company was back.  I didn't see any of their trucks, but Rock kept alerting to our south.  I suspect they were there, but far enough away that I didn't have to worry about them.

By the time we got back to the barn one foot was killing me.  My right foot is bending inward, so my spurs dig into the inside of my heel like a knife.  I got those spurs last year and they fit fine back then.  My feet are just getting deformed in a hurry.  I finally got my blood work done that my doctor ordered last fall, and I noticed that one of the tests she put on my form was to determine my level of Vitamin D.  So, I researched Vitamin D deficiency, and sure enough, most of the symptoms I've had in the past year can be caused by that.

I knew my only choices were to put Rock away and limp back to the house for a different pair of boots and no spurs, or just get on and ride.  Keep my feet off the ground no matter what.  If we ran into trouble, I was just going to have to stay in the saddle.  If I got dumped out of the saddle, I'd be walking home in bare feet because I couldn't take one more minute of that rubbing and stabbing pain.  Rock was not showing any further signs of colic, so I got on and rode.

It was obvious that Rock hadn't been ridden in a while.  He walked off during the mount, so I circled him repeatedly until he made the choice to stop.  I had to dismount because the cinch wasn't tight enough.  The second time I mounted, he held perfectly still and refused to take one step until I said so.  Good boy!

We rode out in an orderly fashion and I prepared to practice Carson James' technique to help Rock focus.  I spread the reins wide to tell him that I want his head and neck to stay between my hands, and then when he'd turn his head to gawk at something,  I'd pull on the opposite rein to straighten his head out.  The technique essentially involves micro-managing where your horse points its head.  The only problem was that Rock kept stopping when I did that, because I taught him to slow down when I pull one rein and tip his nose to the inside without any leg pressure.  So, I had to add leg pressure to keep him going.  I also decided it was better to pull the rein in short jerks or shake the rein when I want his attention since pulling in one motion is used to steer.  Then I remembered that Carson James also would shake his foot on the side of the body where he was shaking or jerking the rein to get the horse's attention back on him and to straighten its head out, so I started doing that as well.

My efforts were pretty sloppy, but Rock had no problem focusing on the trail on the way home, so I ran out of opportunities to practice.  I'll try to get my act together better next time and have a system worked out that can't be confused with other cues.

I've decided that I don't like his Tex Tan saddle.  A 17" seat is too big for me, and the seat is rather hard.  I feel like I'm perched on a wooden sawhorse.  Rock is kind of like a drunken sailor when he walks, so it's important to have a saddle I feel secure in like my Circle Y and Tucker saddles, but neither of those fit him.  I may keep my eye out for something that will work for both of us.  The saddle he has now just works for Rock and my husband.  I also don't like that it's so heavy.  I'm usually exhausted and my arm muscles are shaking by the time I get this saddle on his back.  But first we have the big expense of vaccinations and dental work for all four horses.  Yay.

Oh yeah, I wanted to give Rock something to focus on, and there was the dove walking around on the ground, so I turned Rock toward it and said, "Get it!  Get the birdie."

He followed the dove and I was expecting it to fly away at some point, but it just kept running from us.  Rock had his nose to the ground and was very focused on following it.  Then I realized that the poor thing had a broken wing.  That's why it wasn't flying away.  Oh well.  Hopefully, we didn't terrorize it too much.  Maybe I should get him to focus on cutting cows instead of birds.


Once Upon an Equine said...

Nice that you got our for a trail ride with Rock, and that he wasn't colicking. It is a noisy world we live in. My local trail has become incredibly noisy with heavy truck traffic and speedy cars. Getting harder and harder to find peaceful trails.

Mrs Shoes said...

I hear you about saddle woes Nuz...

You have inspired me to do a product review of the BAREFOOT saddle soon, but here's the gist -- I highly recommend the saddle & the maker!!
Lightweight, interchangeable gullet, a variety of styles, & prices ranging from affordable to money-to-burn models with lots of awesome accessories.

I won't get anything for writing a product review on the Barefoot, but I love mine & hope you & others might try one based on my enthusiastic recommendation. ;-)

achieve1dream said...

I hear you on those heavy saddles!! That's why we got a synthetic one for hubby. With his bad back he doesn't need to be lifting a heavy saddle. I hope you can find something that is comfortable and fits Rock too.

I'm glad Rock is okay! When I read about him having his feet in the water and then standing stretched out I was terrified he had founder so I'm glad there was no heat in his feet. Maybe it was just mild gas colic that went away with some walking?