Monday, December 27, 2010

Failure to ride

Well, the rain finally stopped a couple of days ago and our arena was half-way dry.  After feeding in the morning, (Christmas day), and opening gifts, I decided to ride Flash.  Also, half of my Christmas gifts from my wife were for my horse, (treats, new face brush, leg wraps, a pumice brush, and a new dressage whip), all of which I wanted to try out on Flash.  Hopefully the tissue damage on his jaw would be better and I could get a bridle on him.

I walked down to the barn and when I got Flash's halter and lead rope off the wall he practically jumped into it.  He had been confined to his stall for 6 days, and he is one that likes to get out and move around.  I kept him in his stall so he wouldn't be inclined to play "head snake games" with his buddies and re-injure his jaw on some pipe corral panels.  Well, I walked him to his tie rail and got him tacked up in his western saddle and I could tell he wanted to go.  Flash knows what type of work he will be doing by the saddle I put on him.  Western saddle means trail riding or posse work; english saddle means dressage work in the arena.  That day he didn't care, he just wanted to be ridden.  My plan was to do light work, mostly walk and some light trot work so he could heal faster.  All was good until I went to put his western bridle on.  The throat latch came real close to his abcess, and I was afraid any movement would just irritate the wound worse.  I then tried his dressage bridle with the same result.  When I removed the bridle, I could see the disappointment in Flash's eyes.

His halter didn't impact the wound so I decided to longe Flash in the arena, something I havn't done for about 6 years.  When he was younger, (I got him when he was six), I had never really ridden before and he was a handfull.  Not mean, just full of energy, and I had to longe him before I got on him.  When I put him in the arena this day with the longe line he was a perfect angel, contrary to his registered name, (Jody's Lucky Devil).  With just voice commands he trotted and cantered 5 minutes in each direction, not pulling on the line and very controlled.  He was being so good I took the halter and longe line off, and began chasing him around the arena, playing "I'm going to get you".  I lost, but we had fun chasing each other for about 15 minutes until Dad got tired.  I stood in the middle of the arena, bent over gasping for air.  Flash stood in the corner for a few seconds, then came over to see if I was ok.

Flash does worry about me if I get hurt.  I had only had him for a few days when Annette and I decided to ride in the arena where Flash and her horse were boarded at the time.  It was a Sunday morning and nobody was at the boarding facility.  Annette was on her horse at the time and I went to get on Flash.  When I swung my leg over his back, I tore the miniscus in my right knee.  I was almost paralyzed and couldn't move.  Annette left to put her horse away.  After 5 minutes I slowly dragged my leg across Flash's butt, hung onto his mane and neck and dropped to the ground on one leg.  I stood there for another 10 minutes holding onto Flash's neck until Annette returned.  During that time Flash did not move one inch.  Though I didn't know anything about horses at that time, I knew that Flash was special for me.  He's taken care of me time and time again.

December has been a bad month for riding for Flash and me.  Last year I had a full knee replacement just before Christmas, and couldn't ride for at least three weeks.  I sat on a bench on the front porch with a walker in front of me a few days after my surgery.  Annette was kind enough to bring Flash up to the house so I could see him, (she was afraid I would try and walk down to the barn).  Flash walked up to me, sniffed the walker, looked at me, then picked the walker up in his mouth and tossed it aside.  I think it was his subtle way of telling me to get off my butt.  I guess we know each other.  Maybe next December will be better for both of us.

Well, Flash's jaw is getting better each day and if the weather stays dry this weekend, Annette and I may try to do a trail ride on Friday.  Wishing all of you Happy Horse Holidays and good mucking.  Back to my compost pile.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Too much rain, too much boredom

My first ever blog.  The reason I'm starting now is out of boredom.  We have had  5 days of heavy rain and other than feeding the horses 3 times a day, I've been confined to the house.  That is both good and bad.  Good, because my wife Annette has been cooking non-stop for 5 days, and she is a fantastic cook.  Bad because I've been eating cookies and candy, duck and pork loin, and drinking more than my share of wine.  The result is I know I've gained at least 10 pounds.  I love being outdoors and working on our small ranch, either building something new or just cleaning up the place with my tractor, but with this rain, it's been 5 days of weight gain.

I have been busy with Flash though.  He sustained soft tissue damage on his lower jaw from either hitting his head on something or being kicked.  I ruled out being kicked because he is the herd boss and the other horses and the miniature donkeys stay out of his way.  Bottom line is that it started oozing like an abscess.  Went to the vet, had it opened up and drained, cleaned, and came back home.   It looks better now and hopefully in two weeks it should be all healed.  The 100 mile round trip to the vet in the pouring rain and 60 mph winds, with mud slides and rocks, made for a long day pulling a 30' trailer.  Flash was good though.  He viewed it as an adventure.  He was excited to come out of his stall and wanted to know where we were going.  I told him, "the vet's to get you cleaned up and your jaw fixed".  Yes, I do talk to my horse and I swear he understands me.  He walked out into the rain happily, saw the trailer, and couldn't wait to get in.  I closed the door and he nickered, "Dad, let's go".  I know he thought he was going to do some kind of mounted deployment in the rain, crowd control or sensory games.  He was a little disappointed when we got to the hospital and saw and smelled sick horses.  Three hours later we were out of there and on our way back home.  When we pulled into the property, his buddies all started to ask him, "boss, where did you go?"  Flash being Flash just looked at them and said, "for a ride with Dad".

Anyway, the real boss, (Annette), says it's time to feed and that I have written enough compost for the day.  Time to muck in the rain, then eat another fattening dinner.  Oh lordy.