Thursday, September 24, 2009

Skunk does not equal cat

As you may recall, Armani had a little trouble distinguishing a frog from a carrot the other day. But that isn't the end to his wildlife safari.

Armani loves cats; big ones, little ones, kittens. He hasn't met a cat he can resist yet. They are all cute and demand snuggling and licking. I love cats too and can relate; except to the licking part.

This spring Armani found a fluffy black and white "cat" in his pasture. He gave it a good snuzzle. OOPS - it turned out to be a very smelly cat.

After 5 baths with vinegar, baking soda, tomato juice I figured he'd learned his lesson. Until the other day when the barn owner called. Apparently Armani had found the same "cat".

I've heard of horses getting skunked once, but twice?!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Be the Advocate for Your Horse

I remember reading this a while ago. I haven't studied Jane's work. But this is a good anecdote on why you need to know your own horse and speak up for him.

Nobody knows your horse better than you do, and nobody cares more about your horse than you do. You can’t expect a clinician, trainer or teacher to know your horse as intimately as you know him. That’s why it’s your job to look after your horse and be his advocate. It’s a lesson I have learned the hard way. the rest of the story

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Things that are stressing me out." Part 1: Armani is lame

So I'm a big believer that when something is bothering me, taking action is the only way to make it better. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to make something better by taking action. Sometimes all you can do is wait, or let other more knowledgeable people help you.

I'm really bad at handling those situations. So I have to satisfy myself by misdirecting my "do something!" initiative. So in other news, my yard is looking really nice this fall.

So here is part 1

As you may have read, Armani and Huey got a new farrier. They were both overdue. The farrier had to remove a good amount of hoof from Armani. The next day I rode him down the road and back. Everything seemed fine.

We got back to the driveway. Suddenly, I felt him slide his left front and then trip over what must have been a rock. (I couldn't see it. Maybe he hit that frog with his frog. Har har.) It felt like he stubbed his toe and then his shoulder dropped. It wasn't really dramatic.

But he continued to stumble. I rode him into the soft arena. He continued to take short strides on the left front.

This can't really be happening. I thought. I ride him on rocky trails, over fallen trees, through underbrush, slide down rock slides and for many miles on paved roads. We jump, we actively show. All of it barefoot. He'd never taken a bad step once. Now he gets hurt in his own driveway? I got off. He gave me a sad look.

A week later, he is still off...
It isn't much. But I can feel something isn't right. I dropped our showing plans for the immediate future.

I let other people's opinions upset me.
Some suggested my horse was "just lazy" or perhaps trying to avoid work. And I suspected they suspected I was imagining things.
I felt like avoiding the barn. But then I feel guilty. This is when Armani needs me the most.

Armani is far from the most compliant horse. But I knew he wasn't "faking it". I could feel that something was wrong. He was willingly going through the motions. But he lacked spring and energy. He didn't respond as quickly to my aids. Every few strides, I could feel a "funny" step.

My instructor got on Armani and showed him to another top rider, while I wasn't there. So no one can argue they weren't objective. They did both agree he looked off. But his pulse was normal in all 4 feet. There was no heat or swelling. In their opinions, it is a mild stone-bruise. If it were an abscess it should have popped already, they said. Ride him at a walk in soft footing for a few weeks and see if time fixes it. She also asked the vet to stop by soon.

But why?
Was it the new farrier? Did he take too much off? Huey seems fine with his work. Was Armani just too overdue? Did Armani stumble because he wasn't used to his new trim?

What now?
I already scratched from a two-phase schooling show. In a week we have a hunter/jumper show. Then after two more shows, our planned season would end. But are we out already? After it finally felt like we were improving?

Will it get better? Happen again?
Many horses I know seem to have frequent, reoccurring bouts of lameness over their lives. For some it effectively ended or limited their career. Others I know never had a single issue. I thought Armani was the latter type. He was always sound, never sick.

But what if he is the former? What if this happens again? What's your opinion based on my story? What is your experience in these matters?

I better get back to the yard work...

Frog does not equal carrot

Last night, Armani did something pretty interesting.

I turned him out in his pasture. He's living in the "pond field" currently. After I latched the gate, I nearly stepped on a large, green frog.

"Oops, I'm sorry frog. I'll put you back." I set him over the fence. "There you are."

Armani is used to me putting his supper in that way. He lowered his head and touched the frog with his nose. It hopped toward the pond. Armani kept his nose to the ground and sniffed after it. He tapped it again. Hop...

He continued to pursue the frog. It started to look like a game. Armani's ears perked up. Touch... Hop... Touch... Hop...

The frog was nearly to the pond. Touch... Hop... Touch... Hop...


The frog jumped into the pond. Armani arched his neck over backwards. He wagged his tongue in the air and curled up his lips. He ran back to me.

"Well what did you expect it'd taste like?" I asked. I handed him a piece of carrot.