My barn hosted a multi-state 4-H judges "test" where folks hoping to be granted their judges cards would be scored on how closely their placings came to those of the advisors, or at least that's what I gathered. I'm sure there's more to it than that. But anyway; boarders and students rode in 6 basic classes you'd expect at a 4-H show. There were 4 riders/handlers in each class. Junior and I did the Showmanship, Western Pleasure, Horsemanship, Hunter Under Saddle and Equitation classes. For those keeping track, that's FIVE out of the six classes. I knew this would be a lot of riding for both of us so I wasn't expecting stellar performance from him, especially in the western since we've not been using that tack much aside from the trail ride a few weeks ago. Even with what I was prepared for, I was surprised by what happened. Maybe, "enlightened" is the right word.
So here's what we discovered that day:
1. The button for bending to the right must be broken.
2. The button for walking a straight line is also broken.
3. The button for trotting a straight line is sticky.
4. My equitation is abominable. I was schooled by girls who haven't even been alive for as many years as I've been riding.
5. He was better in the western (earlier in the morning) than the english (later in the morning) so the tack wasn't as important as our lack of stamina.
Number 4 was kind of a blow, but I think it blew me in a positive direction. I haven't been in regular lessons (and The Bug hasn't been in regular training) in over two years. We've had maybe three lessons in the last two years. The show last May had me feeling like we were maintaining well without them.... but maybe not so much. The Advisors gave oral reasons and they highly praised the equitation of the BO's students.... and not so much mine. So the BO must be teaching effectively...
Solution? Lessons! We'll start doing weekly private lessons with the BO in January with goals of improved Equitation and eventually low jumps. Eeeek!
Numbers 1-3 put all sorts of things into my brain, especially with that left stifle thingy I keep feeling, even though I expected him to have worked out of that by now. I started thinking that at 12 years young my pony might need a little joint support and maybe it's time to call the chiropractor. PLUS, this last week he was suddenly girthy. Like dragon face and tail wringing kind of girthy, not just his occasional cranky attitude.
I did some research on supplements and then asked the BO and the BM their opinions on Thursday. While chatting with the BM I mentioned trying to schedule the chiro we both use, and she mentioned B was having one out that very night. So after a few text messages, we were to see the chiro that night.
I LOVE our new chiropractor!!!! He was extremely professional and down to earth, fascinating to watch, and he explained EVERYTHING he was doing in both proper terminology and in layman's English. I watched him work on 6 horses and each one was different, though there were some common issues shared by a few.
The diagnosis? In addition to the sacral issues, shoulder issues, neck issues, and poll issues, we have our first sign of arthritis in his right knee, which is not surprising on a 12 year old. He also palpated positive for ulcers. Hey remember way back in the before time in the long long ago when I talked about his grooming/girthing issues and you all suggested ulcers and I didn't believe you because that was the only thing on the list of symptoms he had? Well, ooops. And now I'm a terrible horse-mom. :( Aside from the girthiness this week I didn't suspect ulcers, but I saw the reaction he had to the palpation and the chiro has nothing to gain by having me treat ulcers that don't exist.
The plan? We ordered the recommended ulcer treatment and the recommended liquid joint supplement. Hopefully it works and he's willing to eat it because I ordered a gallon and a quart.... it was a combo deal. The doc also taught us how to stretch the knees to keep the fluid moving and a new carrot stretch to help with his tight poll and TMJ. We might start slow-feed bagging his hay to keep him busy longer and I'm going to put his hanging treat toy back in his stall when I can find some lumber. The problem with this horse and bagged hay is that he is not shy about trying his hardest to rip the bag open that I question the longevity. While most horses are content to pull the hay out, he just grabs the bag and pulls until it rips, then eats out of the larger hole he created. He's a smart one.
As instructed, he got a light workout today of long & low trotting. He felt straighter than he has in a while and we trotted around on the buckle really easily. He had two decent sized trips in the first lap (the kind like when you catch your toe on a crack in the sidewalk) but aside from that he felt good. At the end I let him walk around whatever direction he chose and he chose to walk over a bunch of the very low crossrails that were set up. I didn't think slow, careful steps would be harmful and he went to them on his own so I let him. I noticed his right shoulder raises more than his left and now that makes sense that he can't bent his right knee as much so he has to lift that shoulder more. Hopefully the supplement, the stretches, and our upcoming January get-back-to-training time will fix it all.
|The late November grass tastes better in the sunshine. Ahhhhhhhhh.|