Monday, April 3, 2017

And Now For Something Completely Different

I attempted to go for a trail ride this afternoon, but Rock just wasn't himself.

He took me all the way up to the end of the driveway and then stopped at the street.  I looked both ways, but really couldn't see if any traffic was coming, because of the blind hill to my right and the overgrown tree to my left.  I didn't hear anything, so I asked Rock to cross.

Uh uh.  Not crossing.  He just stood there.

I put a little more pressure on, and he took a step back.  Huh?  He never backs up.  I have to wrestle him to get him to back up.  I put more of my pelvis into it and kicked him forward, and he took several steps back away from the street.

Hmmm.  Maybe he knew a vehicle was coming.

I waited, but none came.  Was he stopping because the last time I rode him, I stopped him in that spot to talk to the other horseback riders?  And was he backing because I asked him to back up when he was trying to bite the other horse's butt?

That didn't quite make sense.  There were no horseback riders there now.  I scanned the horizon for something that might worry him, but didn't see anything.  It was a windy day and the trees and bushes were waving back and forth, but that's usually not an issue for Rock.  That would definitely send Bombay or Gabbrielle flying for home, but Rock is a rock.

I had seen a baby bunny, the size you can hold in the palm of your hand, by the hay barn, and I had tossed a few pellets to it.  Rock got excited and wanted me to give him some, but I said no.  He'd been trying to snack on grass and weeds all the way up the driveway.  Maybe he was refusing to leave home until he got a snack?

That didn't quite make sense, because he knew there was plenty to snack on out in the desert.

I urged him forward again, and he continued going backward and had his ears back.  It's rare for Rock to put his ears back.  He was adamant about not wanting to go for this trail ride.  I'm sure I could have gotten him across the street if I dismounted and led him, but at this point I suspected that he was communicating with me that he didn't feel well.

I rode him around the back yard a little bit just to see if he had an issue with leaving the barn, but he was still communicating that he wanted me to get off.

This was very odd behavior for him.  He usually loves going on trail rides.  Since he has never refused to go on one before, I decided to respect his request to not go, and I dismounted.  I led him to the round pen so that I could lunge him a little bit and observe him for clues on what was wrong with him.

You can see in this next picture that he has a pained expression on his face...

When I left him in the round pen to go get the lunge whip, he was eating grass and weeds.

When I lunged him, he did the bare minimum, moving somewhere between a fast walk and a slow trot, snatching at grass and weeds as he went.  He kind of reminded me of my dogs when they get upset stomachs.  They frantically eat grass to try to ease the pain.  I stayed on him and wouldn't let him eat for a while, and he did seem out of sorts.  After he cooled down, I let him graze just a tiny bit because he seemed so desperate to get something into his tummy, but if he had an upset stomach, I didn't want whatever was growing in there to make him sicker.  He shouldn't have been hungry, because he's well fed and had just finished a meal a couple of hours before.

If he refuses to go out the next time I ride him, then I'll know it was behavioral, and I'll fix it.  The thing is that with a horse like him, I don't want to destroy his trust in me by ignoring him when he was clearly telling me no, and when he has never told me no to a trail ride in the past.  He has balked at things along the trail, but he always keeps going once I put the pressure on.  To flat out refuse to go on a trail ride at all is highly unusual for him, so I wanted to respect that he had his reasons.

I'm taking both Midge and Scrappy in to see the vet because they both have complicated tumors.  Midge's tumor is always open and bleeding, and Scrappy's tumor is deforming one of his toes.  They are also due for vaccinations.  The vet's office set me up with the first available appointment they had, which was a week in the future.  A short time after that, I received a text message confirming my appointment on that day at that time.  Then I did a double-take at the message.  It wasn't from my vet's office.  It was from my dentist's office.  What are the chances that the only two appointments I have within the next month landed on the same day at the exact same time?

That always happens to me.  It's so weird.  So, I called the dentist's office to reschedule, and instead of moving me back a few weeks, they moved me up just a few hours, so I've got two appointments in one day.  I normally refuse to do that, because appointments in the same day almost always collide with one another, but I decided to have faith.  Everything happens for a reason.

My arthritis pain has been really bad lately, and I suspect the same is true for Midge and Scrappy, because I've been having to drag them out from underneath tables and carry them outside to go to wee.  It's hard on me to do that when I have no cushioning left in my knees.  I have to bend over and crouch and lift.  I'm having a hard time keeping up with washing Scrappy's diapers, and the older Midge gets, the less stable her diabetes gets, so I've been having to bend over and get down on my hands and knees to scrub the carpet more than usual.  Just after that short ride around the property on Rock, I was dragging my leg behind me.

Yesterday evening after cleaning up manure, feeding the horses, feeding the dogs, feeding the people, and taking the dogs out half a dozen times, I was wishing I had a wheelchair.  After a while, I just laid on the couch.  Simply re-positioning my legs was so painful that I stopped taking the dogs out all together and either let my husband deal with it or let them go in the house.  Since I've been having bad days, it's easy for me to understand when a horse is having a bad day too.


Camryn said...

I'd have done the same with Rock myself. Hopefully if he was feeling unwell, it will pass soon.

Linda said...

That was very wise of you, and I'm truly impressed. It doesn't hurt to wait and see if it was behavioral. As you said, time will tell, but it's better to listen to your horse. He may have a bad nighy, too, and just been stressed. Our bodies and minds are always in Flux.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I was right. He had an upset stomach. I found a pile of his manure with horse hair embedded in it. I had groomed all the horses to get them to shed out and left the hair in the stalls. The wind must have blown it into some hay that fell on the ground, and Rock ingested it.

Linda said...

Ah, that's great confirmation of your instincts. Good job!