Last weekend I took Friday off from work to go out and enjoy a perfectly beautiful day at the farm! We have had some rainy weather lately so we deserve a few days of picture-perfect weather and they showed up over the weekend. Sunny, warm but not humid temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s- wonderful!
On Friday I groomed Buckshot in the main barn. When I got to cleaning his hooves, he wouldn’t pick up his front left hoof, something he has had a problem with recently. The BO was in the barn at the time, so I asked her to try and get his hoof cleaned. She got the leg lifted, then she worked with the hoof pick and said, he has a very deep cleft here, and it’s a little smelly, looks like the beginnings of thrush. She asked if I had any thrush medication. I did – I had bought a bottle of aerosol thrush medicine a long time ago and so we used it- as an aerosol, you just spray it onto the hoof and it is easier than the other brush-type applicator. She noted, expertly, that it may not be that he doesn’t want to pick up the left hoof; it may be that he doesn’t want to stand on his right front hoof – an explanation that was brilliant and that I hadn’t thought of at all. Sometimes with horses, think about the “other” side – if one side is having a problem, it may actually be caused by the “other” side. So she checked the left front hoof and found that cleft was also very deep. We applied the thrush medicine on that side. I felt bad that I hadn’t noticed the deep cleft, nor had I thought to actually smell his hooves, and keep an eye, or a nose, out for the thrush odor. I was glad that I had gone ahead and swallowed my pride – what horse owner can’t get her horse’s hooves cleaned? That’s pretty basic – and asked the BO for help. Otherwise I wouldn’t have realized or discovered that he had the beginnings of thrush in those deep clefts. So swallowing my pride turned out to be a very good idea.
We went out to the arena and did our warm up and by then, the BO was riding her horse. We went out to the reining arena and practiced reining patterns. Buckshot did great! For the fast spins, I circle him just once in each direction. For the small circles, we trotted, and for the big circles, we did as much cantering as possible. We did the run downs at a canter or trot, and we don’t do any sliding stops. But it was great fun and hard work! Each of us did three complete reining patterns and we were tired. It takes a lot of stamina and focus to do the entire pattern without stopping, but it is so good for me. And it helps Buckshot develop more stamina and finesse as well. The weather was wonderful and the riding was wonderful also.
On Saturday, I checked Buckshot’s hooves again, and reapplied the thrush medicine. The BO said that just a few applications would probably be all that would be needed; that Buckshot’s hooves were only a very mild case of thrush and that we had caught it early. That’s good. I’m so glad I had already bought the thrush liquid and had it on hand. With some things, you just never know when you will need them!
I took Buckshot into the arena and after our warm up, we worked a little on the sidepass. Then I thought we would walk into the trail. Buckshot didn’t think so. He walked with the tiniest steps possible for a horse! And stopped every three steps! I calmly said, walk on. And he walked three more, tiny, tiny steps. I wondered if his feet were hurting him – maybe the thrush, however slight, was painful to him. I felt a little guilty making him continue on walking. But we kept going, ever so slowly, with tiny steps. At the end of the first leg of the trail, I stopped us, and turned us around. And magically! His hooves were healed – he walked great! And fast! LOL! So I guess it wasn’t thrush-caused pain after all. It was horse-reluctance, and horse-arena-love! LOL! Well, I’m glad it wasn’t his feet, and we got out of the woods and back into the arena to do more warm up. He had great energy (once in the arena) for trotting and nice cantering. We waited for the riding class to start and then walked around the rail while the three other horses and riders warmed up.
Then we played games! The BO had two fun games for us to do- one involved shoes set on top of barrels at one end of the arena and a big empty bucket at the other end. We had to pluck a matched pair of shoes off of the barrels, and trot down to the other end and throw them in the big bucket. If you drop a shoe, the rider has to get off, pick up the shoe, remount and continue. Holding two shoes in your hands, with reins, is hard to do! So I dropped one the first time, hopped down and picked it up, and then ran, with Buckshot behind me, over to the mounting block (because I can’t mount without something to step on). It was fun but I didn’t win. The second time, I got shoes that were easier to hold but because some of the horses were spooky about getting close to the barrels, I couldn’t grab the shoes fast enough to win. Oh well.
The second game involved cups of water! They were placed on a barrel at one end of the arena. At the other end of the arena, two barrels were sitting. You had to go to the barrel and get a cup of water, ride down and go around either of the other barrels, and ride back, spilling as little water as possible. I thought this sounded like great fun! We grabbed a cup of water and I got Buckshot trotting and we went around the barrel, and heading back, he started cantering, and we made it to the end, with the reins in one hand and the cup in the other, and we spilled very little water! I was thrilled! (We didn’t win because one student walked the whole game, and didn’t spill any water, so technically she won. Oh well.)
But here’s why I was thrilled with Buckshot and I: many months ago, the reining trainer we go to for clinics said- I’d like to see everyone develop the lope (canter) enough that you can canter and hold a glass of water in one hand and not spill it! That image has stuck in my mind for a long time, as a marker of having achieved something in cantering. And I did not think I was anywhere near achieving it. But, when playing a game (and not thinking about it too carefully), Buckshot and I were able to do it! Hooray for us! I want to practice with the water cup more, and get better at it. It sort of seems like a hidden achievement – something I didn’t know I could do, until I stopped thinking about it and, in a game, just did it. Hmm, food for thought, possibly….
And Sunday was so funny, and unusual. I got Buckshot from his pasture and he seemed a little bit mellow as we walked to the main barn. I let him graze in various spots during our walk, and sometimes I have to encourage him to keep walking. But not Sunday, he would graze happily, and then happily walk on. Mellow. Then I groomed him while he ate hay in the stall. All calm. I put his saddle pad and saddle on him, and stepped out to put my helmet on and get my sunglasses ready.
I looked at Buckshot- his head was over the stall door, and his eyes were half closed. No they were three quarters closed! He was practically asleep! I stroked his face, and said, oh Buckshot, you’re so sleepy. And then I remembered what the BO had told me earlier – that the night before, a critter was in the farm garden and the farm dogs were excited and outside three times in the dead of night barking and running off the critter. The farm garden is right next to Buckshot and Lucky’s pasture, so I’m sure they were awakened by all the commotion. So Buckshot probably hadn’t had a normal night of sleep. And he was sleepy, and I had just groomed him, making him even more relaxed! Poor guy! He just wanted a long nap! I told him we’d just have a light ride, and we did. Mostly walking. When I asked for a trot, he gave me a nice extended walk! Well, he did actually trot a little. I didn’t even ask him to canter. After a bit, he walked to the center of the arena and stopped at our usual dismounting spot. As if to say, clearly, I think it’s time to dismount! And he had been so good, trying as hard as his sleepy-self could, so I dismounted. What a sweet horse! I got him untacked, gave him his treats, showered him and got him back to his pasture so he could take a nap!
So I had a wonderful long weekend with Buckshot. And I tried out some new clothes I had recently bought at REI. The summers here in Virginia are so hot and humid that I thought I’d replace some of my tee shirts and polo shirts with short sleeved blouses. I discovered there is something called safari blouses, and I thought, great! If they are perfect for sweating in on a safari, they should be great for riding! So I bought several- two are REI brand short sleeved blouses, and one is a Columbia brand short sleeved blouse. They have zippered pockets tucked away, and mesh on the inside, and the REI shirts even have mesh inserts down both sides of the blouse that you open up (but can't see through)by unzippering. My conclusion is that they are great for riding. Even though I got sweaty, they feel cooler because they don’t cling to me. And they dry off much more quickly than the tee shirts do. I love them! And they come in very pretty colors as well. I highly recommend them.
On a final note, going back to the thrush medicine, do you have things in your equine box that are must-have’s, and that you always keep on hand? For me, I always have TriCare cream, Swat, Vetrolin spray (for tail and mane, and also I use it as a sunscreen for Buckshot’s large white blanket part of his coat – it’s one of the few sprays that has a sunscreen), Equispot fly serum, a liquid fly spray, and Eqyss medicated spray and shampoo. Also some liquid Dial soap to clean fly masks and dirty tails. What do you always keep on hand?