Really for almost all of 2016 and 2017, Simon was the most reliable creature on the planet.
I showed up to the barn. He whinnied at me. His legs were cold and tight. For our ride, he’d be fussy in downward transitions but otherwise pretty good. I’d put him back up. The end. The most exciting he’d get was an occasional bit of gas, where he’d look sad but immediately perk up after a dose of banamine. That happened maybe once a year, but this year the creature has been keeping me on my toes.
While I was gone for Christmas, I put Simon in full training since his behavior under saddle had gotten past what I could cope with. That was, in fact, the best decision ever because I came back to a horse who has been lovely to ride. I mean, absolutely lovely. I will share more on this later, because the loveliness deserves its own post but in the meantime I’d rather tell you about all the things that have disrupted us from enjoying the lovely.
2018 has introduced a new game to my barn routine. It’s called, “Will I Lesson?”
Will I lesson? No, my horse is walking heel to toe. I came out one day to find Simon walking, but not wanting to put weight on his heel. No heat on that leg. The next day, he was three legged lame… which was actually comforting, because it almost verifiably meant he had an abscess. So I wrapped it, the farrier dug the it out and after about four days he was as sound and happy as he could be.
Will I lesson? Yes, but it will be walk/trot only. After he recovered from his abscess, Simon saw the chiropractor. His right shoulder was super out, and his back needed adjusting. Nothing to worry about, but the chiro wanted him hand walked and given a light hack for a few days before returning to full work. The good news is, he feels great and her follow up visits are 50% off for returning clients (thank god, because starving writer is a real thing… especially when you’re a starving equestrian writer).
Will I lesson? Yes, well… One afternoon that I hacked Simon, I noticed he was acting strange after. Not expressive. Acted like he was aggravated by bugs, but there were no bugs around. I took his vitals, and quickly realized he was doing his yearly “I don’t feel well and I need banamine” routine. Trainer gave him banamine, and he perked up immediately. We all watched him for a few days, but he looked good. However, while trainer was checking him out during this episode, she told me that she was pretty sure he had a lot of sand in him. Had I ever treated him for sand?
Uh, no. I probably should have, but in my head sand colic has only been something for people in the desert to worry about. This might still be true, but now my horse and I happen to live in the desert. So we treated him with psyllium for a week, and I figured all would be well.
Except all wasn’t well. When I came out to play “Will I lesson?” I noticed that Simon didn’t look 100%. He wasn’t colicing. His vitals were fine. He wasn’t sick, he just wasn’t… thrilled. My trainer called him “puny”, and we decided to do a super light walk/trot lesson to see how he responded. During my ride, he felt 100% normal and after I got off the puniness went away. Normal, happy Simon. I thought it was a fluke.
Except the next day that L. Williams and I went out to ride, he was puny again. Vitals fine. Just not feeling 100%. Again, we did a light walk/trot hack (this is why there were no amazing jumping pictures, because I wasn’t going to push my horse when he wasn’t feeling great), and again he recovered to his normal self after.
Trainer and I were a little stumped. We decided to do some experimenting, and switched his feed from alfalfa hay/orchard hay to alfalfa cubes. Additionally, we started treating him for ulcers. The idea was maybe treating him with the psyllium pushed the sand through in a way that aggravated ulcers and made him extra gassy?
Since he’s been on the new feed and ulcer meds, he’s had no puny issues. Bright expression, super alert and happy. Not gassy. Even during the psyllium treatment week (we do this treatment once a month at my barn), he has stayed on track (har har har digestive pun). He’s also putting on weight again, which is good because he was looking far too ribby during the week of feeling puny. It’s probably the ulcer treatment that did the trick, but my other guess is that now that he’s fully insured for mortality and major medical for the first time in his life after his mom got scared he might have a stone, he’s going to exhibit no problems for the next 365 days.
After all that, I went out last Friday to play another round… Will I lesson? No, my horse had a lump on the back of his left front canon bone. And yes, of course it was a weird lump. Hard, cold and he did not react to palpating it in any way. I cold hosed, did a mud poultice and wrapped.
The next day the lump was dramatically smaller, so I did a mostly walk with a little trot ride, and repeated the treatment. Two days later, it’s still present but smaller and cold. Today I did a w/t/c hack, and trainer will see what it looks like tomorrow. I suspect he whacked it playing with his neighbor through the fence, because he has a matching cut on his face that showed up the same day.
This brings you up to speed on the nerd horse. If you’ve been on the edge of your seat, that gives you a little bit of an idea of how I’ve felt for the past two months. When I get to ride though, I really enjoy the lovely. Maybe I’ll even get to be a winner this week when I play, “Will I Lesson?”