Sunday, June 06, 2010

Too nice a day to stay completely on the ground

By the time surgery happens next Friday, we will be pushing 9 weeks in a cast. The rain has finally let up and it's beautiful, warm, and dry here in Northern California. As we headed to the barn this morning, we passed no less than six (6!) horse trailers headed places.

Yes, I was counting as a matter of fact. Yes I know I need to be patient just a little longer and that I was very lucky, and that in the larger scheme of things this is just a minor set-back. And, of course, I'm not physically ready for a trail ride, Bar is still borderline with his knee, and on top of all that, Steve's vertigo came back for a visit this week.

So, no, we did not throw caution to the wind and go out on the trail. Bar and I played in the indoor arena while Steve attempted to get Lena saddled up for a ride in the outdoor arena.

The big brown horse tolerated goofiness from me, this time in the form of my western-style shirt being tossed at him, over his eyes, etc., all with a calm look on his face and never once grabbing said shirt and running off with it--which might have been deserved. Nope, he just nuzzled closer.

I've gone back to just hand-walking him for now because his knee had gotten more puffy, rather than less. The walking and some Arnica gel seem to be working at bringing the swelling down slowly but surely, and my friend Karen is coming out to evaluate his movement next week just to see where he's at and what we could be doing to help him along. Possibly to tell me he can indeed do a little more work and I'm being too easy on him, too.

So we did some walking and wandering over obstacles in the indoor arena, then he walked over to one of the mounting blocks and nosed it. I figured it was a hint so looped the lead rope through his halter and climbed up on him bareback. It wasn't graceful, no, but he waited for me to signal him and walked forward calmly and carefully. We did some more wandering, some nice halts, and then I slid off and told him he was a good boy. So nice to be back up there again, and he really seemed to be taking care of me in a way he hasn't always.

When I got off, he reached over and grabbed my cast in his teeth, as if to say, "Can we get rid of this and go for a ride, please?" Having his own life-experiences with wrapped limbs, he may understand more than most. As tempting as it was to let him bite through it, I corrected the behavior instead. For an interesting contrast, he then licked the non-casted arm.

Meanwhile, Lena was in that mare-mood. She definitely wanted out, but was hoping a stallion might be lurking so was a bit distracted and unruly. Steve couldn't get her bridled, and wasn't feeling good enough to argue with her, so put her back in her paddock. Remember, she wanted out--even if it was to goof around and eat grass--so while not necessarily the harshest punishment, it actually turned out to be rather effective.

Leaving Steve holding Bar, who was munching on some alfalfa, I went up to Lena's paddock, finding a much-subdued spotty mare. Had I not been broken, I'd have gotten on her and done a nice easy, fun ride. What I did instead was bridle her--same bridle to rule out tack objections--and lead her down to the big arena to walk and trot over obstacles. I stayed on the ground the whole time and actually got to work her through something that freaked her out. There were three pole-bending poles standing up in a tight little triangle in the arena. I walked through them, leading her. She came around the side of me and knocked one over, startling herself. So, we went back to the other side and I let her figure out how to come through that narrow opening without knocking anything over. She did, so I called it good for the day.

As we walked up the back hill--the hill she and Bar both like to trot up--she nosed me as if to ask "Can we trot, please," so we did. And she stopped when I did, so she got to graze a little, too.

I don't know if it was the right way to handle her today, but it was what worked within both Steve's and my current limitations and still allowed us to spend time with our horses. Lena certainly seemed cooperative and glad to get out of her paddock (again), even if it wasn't the romp she needed.

Tomorrow is another day, and will surely bring more training adventures. Not to mention bringing me one day closer to whole-armed-ness.


terrie said...

Your love for your horses shows through so clearly in these posts. Thanks for sharing them! I love that Bar is trying to nibble your cast off!

Dave (aka Buckskins Rule) said...

I never thought I'd hear tell of horse getting tired of his owner being lame!

Has it been 9 weeks? I'd being going stir crazy by now.

Jessica Boyd said...

Argh, I know!!

And, yes, my surgery is Friday--which is the day before the 9-week marker.

I am so done with this!