So when you have horses this is the dreaded "C" word, right?
I've been passionate about avoiding this situation since I was in high school and aside from a few small Banamine fixed bouts, I haven't had to deal with straight up, go to the clinic colic ever before so this was a new one for me.
Australian Shepherd Nationals were being held in Bryan this year so I naturally was attending and my friend from AZ was coming in for a week of fun (and loads of dog related work!). That morning I'd taken Katy for a lesson with Sarah and as I was parking the trailer I noticed that Mango was laying down mid day. Nothing dramatic, but she was down and sleeping. I've learned that on weekdays during the day my pasture mares love to sunbathe so I just wrote it off.
Trailer unloaded and horses done, I set about packing and changing things up for the dog shows we had. I kept looking out at Mango and she would get up, get water, graze, walk around and then end up laying down at some point. No rolling, nothing uncomfortable looking, just chill. I tend to be overly paranoid (see above paragraph about colic avoidance), so naturally I was a bit obsessive as I washed dogs and get things ready.
My friend rolls into town and I go to check on Mango one last time and I KNOW she's more rotund than normal and I don't want to deal with this this weekend so I load her up and we head to the clinic for some Bute and Banamine. Upon arrival we unload and she calmly goes into the stocks. At this point she's looking more like a balloon and I'm getting more worried.
I have a strict "no surgery" opinion about colic to this point as I've seen very few horses have long term success after having it so I'm eyeing up Mango as they pull an obscene amount of fluid from her stomach. After the 4th 3 gallon bucket I'm all making my peace. They aren't too happy about anything they're finding and now I'm sure we're heading towards euthanizing her.
The final test they do is to check the fluid past the obstruction and... its totally fine. Fluid before it is fine too. They go for another ultrasound and due to her thick conformation can't see anything. Rectally they find out her colon is over her spleen. What? So yeah...
We run her in the round pen after giving her some meds to shrink her spleen and I leave her to marinade at the clinic overnight. Next day, no dice. We opt to just roll her and she comes through that just fine. Colon is righted and everything gets back to normal. Three days at the clinic and she comes home, happy as ever and we move on.
Horses. And Dog Shows :)
So after the rousing success that was the other day at Sarah's, I decided to try to ride Arthur at the house but outside the round pen. He's been worked 53422353453 times out there and since he was doing well IN the round pen and basically doing everything but being ridden extensively OUTSIDE it, there should be minor issues with riding him outside, right?
Well... not so much.
It wasn't a complete failure and there wasn't (really) any bucking so I guess that's a success. Technically. From the start, Arthur was a little tense but nothing bad. I got on and it was uneventful. My goal was really to duplicate what we'd done at Sarah's and if that wasn't happening, then I wanted to work him through a few of his fits so he learned he had to keep working after. His fits at this point are basically he starts to "act up" and then pauses (which is AWESOME!) and then we basically have to start over. Like.. ALLLL over. Normally one rein stops where he circles for like 5 minutes before finally stopping.
So I had some poles on the ground as well to keep his mind busy just in case that helped. Poles were great but general walking around... eh. Not bad but not great. We did some flexing and he came back to me. Finally he gets back to rockin' awesome and I'm all FINALLY! So I go for a trot circle to end and... he humps up BUT STOPS. No idea why but whatever. I start the flexing process to a stop again and he FINALLY stops once I'm thoroughly dizzy.
While circling 24354645 times, I realized that he wasn't EVER moving his inside foreleg. Prefect pivots on the thing and while he was doing his one rein stops, he was totally chill. The ONLY time he wasn't was when he was like OMG... yes? and then I'd ask him to one rein stop and he'd just circle calmly until he finally stopped.
What was going on?
It was like he was trained to do this weird pivot on the fore thing. Ugh, maybe that's a HUS thing? So we end the ride fine and I get to researching. Come to find out, it IS a breed show exercise in one of the EQ and possibly trail classes? So at least I know what that was all about but now I've got the NEW issue that Arthur is grabbing onto old training that I might not know about. Time to learn even more about breed shows.
Remember how Katy is really supposed to be the treadmill pasture pet? Well, she's my most advanced and overall easy to ride horse at this time. She has a show behind her and most always I can count on her to put up with my crap. Therefore, she is getting "advanced" trained probably more than I like for my sake though, not hers necessarily.
We've hit this wall with her cantering and I know its tied to her general iffy relaxation. For the most part, Katy is chill - until she's not. When she's not she's high headed, belligerent and just in general fearful. You can't do anything with her except diffuse the bomb and things will go back to normal. Luckily she's pretty self preserving so that helps but ugh... when something is bothering her, there's no uhh help? It's a full on OMG I'M DYING GERROFF GERROFF thing until she can be convinced she's not dying.
Enter her canter lately.
We're working on it being more balanced, responsive, rhythmical - SOMETHING. This requires me to sit down to varying degrees which she loathes. Especially to the left. I can't find any saddle pain and so I'm left thinking its just overall fitness weakness at this time.
Which means we have to work it.
Sarah recommends us just lunging and using side reins and I'm skeptical, but after seeing Katy through THE BIGGEST fit over the side reins, I think we're on to something. So this starts Katy really accepting the bit (to SOME degree) and the fact that she's going to be "trapped" while doing dressage and that's not a big deal. If I did hunters, Katy would probably love life but alas, I don't and she needs to chill the crap out and relax. Hopefully we can unlock her jaws of life.
Side rein sessions totally seemed to rock her world in a good way though and I see it carrying over to our half seat canters. Someday we'll get things together. And a dressage saddle might make my life easier.
I need another horse like I need a hole in the head.
Sadly, its becoming apparent that unless I want to swap to APHA breed shows (watched one and nope) or H/J shows (QQ), Arthur will not be the awesome event horse I'd like him to be. Also, from a business standpoint, he's not an event horse and his value will be better recognized in the other rings. Also, if I sell him, I can better finance things around here for my pleasure and so yeah. I need to be realistic.
Piper is in the same boat, once she makes me a baby horse of awesome, I'm probably going to train her, show her, and sell her to some lucky Pony Club kid to go rule the world with. While my baby horse grows, that leaves me with an elderly QH type mare (Katy) and a chunky white pony (Mango). Also, I'm tallerish and my trainer seems to think that riding a larger horse with my crazy long legs will help me progress faster.
I've been watching CANTER when I can for upcoming TB projects to replace Arthur with over the horizon and I found a cute local guy but if they're not free, then I'm not buying. Husband would kill me if I PAID for another horse right now. Said cute horse was available in August and then I heard nothing about him until.. now. He was a "war horse" having won almost $100K and was a nice red gelding - exactly what I was hoping for. A nice kind look in his eye and I was vaguely interested.
I heard nothing again (which was fine) until one Friday at about 4:30pm I see a red horse come up on the CANTER Facebook page needing help TODAY or.. else? Being local I was like omg, lemme go help out. I'll get him home and evaluate him. It ended up being the red horse from August so I was doing a little, fate? thinking but we had little time so I headed home and grabbed my trailer quickly while shoving my son at my husband and mentioning a free horse before bolting out the door on him.
Again, poor husband.
I get to the barn and find a skinny, pissy, tall guy that didn't want to load in the trailer. Lucky for him, trailer loading is my thing apparently and in less than 20 minutes he loaded himself. The boarding barn crew didn't seem too happy that I succeeded and I waved cheerfully as I loaded up my truck to head home.
So here we go, again Project Horse 3436456 "I'll Make It Up" aka Nigel
Pictures BEFORE I got him:
Picture from Day One with me *sigh:
Aside from that one boring bucking thing, Arthur hasn't been any trouble to ride at all. My anxiety is a bit of a different story, but its getting better.
I had a riding lesson at Sarah's today with Katy and decided I'd bring Arthur to try him "outside" the round pen for the first time. Normally I wouldn't pick a new location but he normally does better in new places plus I knew Sarah would actually STAY outside in case 911 needed to be called unlike my husband.
So I lunge him and he's boringly easy, I tighten his girth and again, boring. I get on him and he's.. yup boring. We end up doing walk, trot, half halt and some other small things before calling it quits. Total ride time had to be less than 20 minutes but he totally rocked it, so why not?
Keep on keeping on project horse!
So now Mr Arthur is working in the round pen. I'm not sweating to death over getting my foot just in the stirrup and we're basically working on walking and trotting with some turns here and there to install some better steering.
Its not terribly exciting (thankfully) but I suspect Arthur is getting bored too. Whatever, suck it up bucking pony.
So we've been aiming to ride about 3-4 times a week and its been going decent. Today was a little different and naturally I'm always waiting for when he finally freaks out. Can I handle it? How bad will he be? What will trigger it now? Its got to be in him still, right? I'm not really the horse whisperer (how much easier would life be then?!)
Today we were just trotting, trotting, trotting and suddenly Arthur's head goes a little further down and he's... off. But not off. But now his back feels weird. OMG HE'S TRYING TO BUCK!!! But it was totally in slow motion and I easil ybent him to a stop. I think he was more confused that the bucking even started... maybe he fell asleep into it? No idea but it wasn't that bad, I didn't die, and I guess I could do it again if I had to.
But I'd rather not kthnx.