Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Paranoia of Love

It’s been so rainy, drizzly and cloudy here lately that going to the barn to see Buckshot has been a challenge. The clouds have been thick and overcast, and downright gloomy, or else, gathered up into storm-at-any-minute grey cloud piles, also very gloomy. And mixed with very high humidity – oh my goodness- yuck. Even though we need the rain.

On Friday, I took the day off and went out to see Buckshot, hoping the weatherman’s unfriendly prediction of rain and storms would hold off long enough for me to spend some dry time with my favorite horse. It was 95 degrees, humid and cloudy. I found him in a stall, munching on hay, a little wet, so I brushed him with a curry comb and scratched places that might be itchy. Then I took him out of his pasture to eat grass for a while. The humidity was bad, but still, it hadn’t actually rained while I was with him, and I had a good time with Buckshot. Later I helped feed the farm’s horses before I left.

Saturday was more of the same weather. A neighbor who lives near Buckshot’s pasture was out doing shooting practice, and as I approached the pasture, poor Buckshot was pacing and looking in the direction of the shots. Okay, he’s nervous, I thought, and quickly got his halter on, and got him out of the pasture, heading over to the main barn. I had to set up a different stall than normal because the BOH was fixing something in the barn we usually groom in. So I took Buckshot into a new stall, equipped with his normal perks- hay, water and a handful of sweet feed in the feeding manger. We started to groom after he walked around the stall a couple of times. Then the BOH moved the tractor just outside the barn door, still running. This made Buckshot very nervous. He paced, and pooped, and kept walking around. Okay, still nervous, I thought, and decided that the abbreviated grooming I had done, was enough, and time to get him outside to help his anxiety decline. I tacked him up quickly and we headed out to the arena.

The arena was very wet, but if we stayed mostly in the middle, the footing was okay. Good for walking, okay for trotting, and forget the canter. We began our twenty-minute walking warm up and Buckshot did great. After a few minutes, he put his head down and gave one of those wonderful, long horse sighs, and I thought, good, he’s relaxed, and listening to me, and his nervousness is mostly gone. We did several improvised patterns using the center line. On one version, we did three strides of walk, three strides of trot, etc. At the end of the arena, we turned right and headed back and he offered the canter! So we did about six strides of canter – beautiful canter- before coming down to the trot, and trotting out of the gate to the grass. Good boy! He must have felt quite good about the ride and the footing, to go into the canter.

We were joined by two other riders and horses in the arena, and after a warmup for them, the BO had us play a game. A short pole, with a net attached to the top end, is stuck in the ground, and we throw small Frisbees into the net as we walk or trot or gallop by. No, no galloping! It was fun. First, we had to walk our horses to the pole and let them get familiar with it, then take the Frisbee and swing our arms with it, to get them used to us having it in our hands. Then we took turns walking or trotting by the pole and throwing the Frisbee in. We missed as many times as we made it into the net. So we had to lean over and get them out of the net, or dismount and collect them and remount. It sounds easy, and not very interesting, but actually, it was challenging, and it kept my mind off of the very hot, very humid weather, and before I knew it, I looked at my watch and I had been riding Buckshot for two hours! I took him for a rinse and walked him back to his pasture, telling him what a good horse he was. And hoping the shooters were done – I guess they were; I didn’t hear any more shots in the pasture.

On Sunday, three of us took our horses and went to the reining clinic. The trainer decided the day would be for individual instruction, so we could do what we wanted. As he worked with other riders on the finer points of reining and showing, Buckshot and I used the nice big arena to practice some of our trotting and cantering. Buckshot did very well, considering it was a very hot day. He had good energy, but I couldn’t get him to keep cantering beyond about eight strides. I checked his haunches for exertion frequently, but he wasn’t getting overexerted. I guess he was just having an eight-stride-day.

After about an hour, I dismounted and got him untacked and then got into a long line waiting to rinse off our horses. I have a pet peeve about this. Whenever a barn has a line of people waiting to rinse horses, I think it is rude for someone to dawdle with their horse, shampoo them, and then after rinsing, to stay at the water stall to squeegee their horse. If there are horses waiting, I think it is polite to rinse quickly, and move my horse out of the wash stall to do the squeegee part. But of course, as the line gathered, one person dawdled at the wash stall with her horse, shampooing him, rinsing him slowly and then squeegee-ing him. The trainer finally noticed the long line and offered a second water hose for us to use. I took Buckshot over to the other water hose and got him rinsed. Then, while he ate the wonderful grass that seems to grow exclusively at this trainer’s farm, I squeegeed him.

We loaded up the horses soon after that, drove back to the farm, and got them off the trailer. Buckshot loves coming home and we walked back to his pasture. What a good horse.

I can’t wait for cooler weather!! I am finally somewhat used to the heat and humidity and have my coping aids, but still, I have to stay aware of Buckshot’s age and not overwork him in the heat. And sometimes we have to ride around raindrops or in muddy arenas, so those factors also limit what we can work on right now. I have to keep my expectations low and reasonable for all of these constraints. But it is frustrating at times!!

Things are going well with the new probiotic I have Buckshot on. And his front hooves, with the clefts between his bulbs, are, ever so slowly, getting better. I asked the BO to check his hooves during the week, so that makes me feel much better. If they need some thrush medication, she will apply it. And, knock on wood, we haven’t had any rain rot this summer to contend with. I frequently inspect him for any bumps that may be a precursor of rain rot, and if I feel any, I spray them right away with Eqyss spray, and they have gone away within a day or two. So, fingers crossed, no big problems to contend with thus far this summer. I know you understand.

We have to watch out for so many different things, or conditions, that our horses can get. It’s a tiny bit of understandable paranoia. When you’ve had to deal with some condition in its full blown version, watching out for it, at its beginnings, seems a wise thing to do. Sometimes I feel like a horse inspector when I’m around Buckshot. What’s that bump, I think, as I stroke him. Hmmm, what’s this? Does it come off? Is everything okay here? Keep my eye on that thing, hopefully it will go away. And the big one – when did THAT happen? That wasn’t here last week, was it? Why don’t I know that? What a terrible owner, that I didn’t check this area last week, just in case this thing appeared now! You get the picture!! But we love them so- checking on their boo-boos and problems is a paranoia of love, isn’t it? LOL!

Hope you had a great weekend and nothing new and bad happened to your precious horses!

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