Adventures in Hand Walking

Adventures in Hand Walking

Yesterday was not a super day for me, so I was really looking forward to driving to the barn to walk Simon and hack Winston, a school horse my trainer wants me to work with some.  Instead of relaxation, I got the continuing of the bad day.

As soon as I had changed from my work clothes to my riding clothes, a lesson student pulled the horse I was supposed to ride into the cross ties for her lesson.  I was peeved.  I really shouldn’t have been peeved because the trainer/owner asked me to ride the horse, but I know good and well there’s no formal schedule.  It’s not the lesson kid’s fault, because another trainer told her to go get him.  But after driving 45 minutes in traffic after a bad day at work and then not getting to have a relaxing ride, I was peeved.

Then I went to go get Simon to hand walk him, and he was as ornery and anxious as ever.  Even before I started walking him, I became filled with a huge sense of dread.  The farrier came that day, and the farm hand (who I have a stressed relationship with at the best of times) started laying into me about how awful Simon was for the farrier.  Ok great, but what can I do about it?  Not a damn thing.

Then I went to walk him, and while I was hoping for this…

leadhrsI got some of this…

SuperStock_4070-7971A tiny one of these…

horse-training-rear-782237And lots and lots of this…


Conclusion?  I walked him the required 5 minutes and then left the barn as quickly as possible fighting back tears.

I know I’m too emotional about this, and I know he’s not turning into a bad horse and this is normal behavior but I can’t shake all this worry and emotion that my horse is miserable and getting more miserable as time goes on. We have a great barn with great people, but it’s not an ideal situation for stall rest.

Before my meltdown, I spoke with my friend and dressage trainer who comes to our barn to teach dressage lessons, and she gave me some good advice. We’re going to cut back his grain, and she said just to Ace him before I walk him every day. So I called the vet this morning and ordered a bottle of Ace, as well as talked to her about ulcer treatment options. Also going to try and get him fed more hay throughout the day, because right now I’m pretty sure he’s only thrown 2-3 flakes morning and evening… and that’s not enough.

I know he will be ok, and I know turning him out right now is not the right answer but I am sure feeling really, really down about all this.


8 thoughts on “Adventures in Hand Walking

  1. Your Bay OTTB sounds like my Bay OTTB when it comes to handwalking. You might try a longer slow release sedative like Resperine at the advice of your vet. Especially if its a lot of handwalking ahead for you.

  2. I’m sorry you’re having that experience!! It’s really hard because with horses you can’t explain to them why they have to be locked up and only get out 5 minutes a day like you could to a human…

    Cutting back his grain is probably a good start- Ace seems a little strong though? I know there’s a calmer you can use that goes under their lip- I use to have to use it for certain horses that hated the farrier at my old job, but for the life of me can’t remember the name of it. It might be less expensive/easier to use- you could put just a small amount under their lip and instead of knocking them out it’ll just take off the edge.

    One of the horses at that farm also broke his leg- yes, broke- and has recovered- yes, recovered- completely sound. But this meant months and months of stall rest. One of the things they did was put him on a long-term calmer. I’m not sure what they were using or if this would be an option with your boy at all, but I just thought I’d mention it. (And I don’t mean calmer like the supplements you use, it was something the vet was giving him I just can’t remember the name of it either…sigh!)

    If you can afford it, its probably best to cut back on grain and up the hay- so he has something to munch on all day if you’re not already doing it. (Both to help prevent colic and also to keep him busy). Also, toys in his stall if they aren’t already there.

    I know you probably don’t want a bunch of advice and I’m not trying to talk like I know anything!! But I did work for two years for a farm that had a ton of high-strung thoroughbreds that were constantly hurting themselves and were constantly on stall rest, so this is just some of the things that worked for them to keep them happy/sane while they recovered!! Just as some ideas for things you might want to consider- but I hope you find something that works for you two! I know its really rough, hang in there!

    1. Oh no, I appreciate any and all advice!

      I talked to the vet on the phone, and she suggested Ace so we could time it. I think like you mentioned, a big key is to get him more hay throughout the day which I’ve started having the conversation with my barn owner about. I’ve never heard of a under the lip calmer… I’ll have to look that up.

      He has a likit but I may get him another stall toy. It’s nice to hear you have experience both with dealing with stall rest horses AND having them come back 100%. Keeps me hopeful!

      1. I remembered the name! It’s dormosedan gel.

        If you use it as prescribed (the whole tube) it’ll knock the horse out for two hours… but we would just use 1/4-1/2 of a tube to sedate a horse who wouldn’t let us shoe him at first (he eventually got over it and we just tapered off the sedation every time). I feel like you could do the same thing for walking him; just a 1/4 or a 1/2 to knock off the edge.

        And yes, thankfully Wiz isn’t very high strung and hasn’t hurt himself yet… but his siblings aren’t so great! (Even though if I ever have to keep him in a stall he’s going to have to have 5000 toys because he’s A.D.D.) Many of them injured themselves (that farm had bad ju ju lol, they got the strangest injuries) and had long-term stall rest and most of them came back 100% sound. So there’s hope! I’m glad you’re not rushing it and I know he’ll be back to great when you’re done with this. Hang in there!

  3. So I had a horse that I had to hand walk after an injury and I highly recommend a slow release sedative… it makes them more manageable and you don’t have to wait for it to wear off like Ace… I feel your pain 🙂 I would still use a stud chain so that said horse wouldn’t get the better of me but the sedative worked wonders!

    But totally do what you are comfortable with and what you vet suggests… that is just what worked for me/us.

    Also as far as toys- does he have a water bucket? I like to put a frozen gallon of water in Henry’s water to keep him entertained. I use an old milk carton 🙂

    Keep your head up! You are doing whats best for him even if he doesn’t like you a lot right now- ha it’s kinda like being a parents 🙂

    Before you know it you will be able to ride him again 🙂

  4. I know it doesn’t feel very funny, but those pictures were exactly dead on which made it very funny indeed. I know for myself that a little bit of laughter can go a long way toward righting my attitude ship. There are many days that I leave the barn feeling like a complete failure. My step wasn’t so light yesterday, in fact.

    I have a show on Sunday. I kind of rode with that in mind which meant I used a lot more of the arena than I usually do. Disaster. Showing dressage is completely different from schooling dressage. I tried to beat myself up about it, but then I shook it off and told myself that we’ll be fine. So maybe we won’t be as competitive for our first show of the season like was hoping, but eh, big deal.

    As always … and this too, shall pass. :0)

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