Good news! Red’s lameness issues has been narrowed down to the return of deep sulcus thrush, because apparently, farriers hate me and never tell me “Hey, there’s thrush about a million inches down here btw.” Long story short, he developed a heel crack which is a sure sign of thrush in the deep sulcus. Bad news, that means it was very deep. Good news, the crack gave me clarity on what was happening with my horse and also gave me an opening to shoot Tomorrow in to kill the thrush.
He was sound a day after, back to galloping around and being a total weirdo in the pasture. Also cleared for riding, which is great because I’m convinced that if I had to wait another day, his brain would be completely gone as opposed to only 97% gone like yesterday.
I’ve been having a bad case of “I don’t want to ride or mess with horses because they keep going lame and I’m going to sell them all and be a crazy cat lady instead” aka I had gotten very burned out on horses. I ended up watching a few things, talking with some people, then buying a Buck Brannaman book and I was reminded of why I love horses to begin with, and I dedicated myself to getting back to where I used to be, both passion wise and confidence wise. I gave myself two extra days off, then I rode my horse for the first time in weeks yesterday. I forced myself to be brave and took him to the field and trails instead of the arena, and instead of using my safety blanket-aka mechanical hack with shanks-I used the bosal. Less breaks, but he’s solid enough to ride out in it as long as I stay brave and try to be a good rider. Instead of slamming on breaks, I have to resolve to do something to fix the problem instead of stop and dismount or stop and go straight to the arena,my other safety blanket.
He bolted me up the hill for the first time and was basically completely blowing me off until we made it to the top and I twisted him into a circle and halted, let him get his brain back, and we did some circles at the top of the hill. Brightside-we did our first canter in awhile without him bucking, bad side, I didn’t want to canter, and it was completely fast and out of control. My mother, riding behind on Gracie, asked if I wanted to switch horses and let her work out Red’s kinks.Mom language for, “I know you’re probably freaking out and I’ll ride him for you so you don’t freak out even more.” I refused, and made him do another lap around the field without any bolting. Got bolted two more times, this time just a very fast and sloppy trot, and we made another lap without bolting, then I took him to the arena to try to find his brain. Maybe we left it in the barn. 😉
Getting into the arena without dismounting was fun. Red bolted me around the arena a few times, now devoted to getting back into the pasture with Stormie the mare instead of going to work more. Stormie wasn’t making matters any easier considering she was galloping around everywhere. Eventually, although he bolted me past the gate a couple of times, we got in the arena and I let him run off some energy. AKA, he was stupid and crazy for 5 more minutes and then I made him actually do stuff. Took a few circles and a lot of halting and “hey dude YOU ARE ACTUALLY A BROKE HORSE” and then he trotted pretty and started behaving.
Some good notes that I made sure to notice during my ride so I didn’t get overwhelmed with the negative and the fact that my broke horse forgot how to be a broke horse for a little bit.
- I didn’t die, even though my mind has tried telling me that dying is the only option while riding a hard to handle horse.
- Red feels fine. Yay? Totally recovered from our months of problems!
- Despite being stupid, his ride has changed dramatically in the last few rides, even as sparse as they’ve been. He’s really learning how to use himself now.
Took us awhile to be able to walk around calmly, but eventually, he started chilling out and I felt good enough to go ahead and ask for some trot again, this time no bolting was involved.
Then I asked for him to stretch himself out and relax, something that we’ve just started working on. I’ve been really inspired by some dressage work, which is where the stretchy trot kind of came from, to promote more self carriage and to get him to learn how to use his body in different ways. It’s been a hot mess, until yesterday. I accidentally kept my lead from the bosal tied, which resulted in it being a bit too tight (Bad horse mom, such horrible horsemanship) and I had to stop him in the middle of it to untie it so he had less pressure, but he picked it right back up and I was really impressed.
It’s really nice to see that he is capable of doing this type of work now. He’s starting to grasp things constantly now, like his mind is always churning and he’s actively trying to figure out what I want. My cues are clearer, and he is so responsive in the bosal when he has been allowed to burn out energy. Looking back, I should have lunged him first. He always acts up more in colder weather, and he hasn’t been worked much at all, so I should’ve expected attitude and lots of energy. Can’t be mad though, because after he was calmed down, he really did perform well.
He’s slowly becoming the type of horse that I love to ride-low headsets, nice stretchy and relaxed trot. I think with a lot more time and training he’d make a wonderful ranch pleasure type of prospect. We’ll see. I have a lesson planned with a great trainer for whenever weather clears up, and we’ll be working on the canter. I want to get a few more good rides in to get him back into normal work and a good schedule before though.
I’m proud. We’ve had two lessons together in 4 years, and he is 99% made by me. He was trained before, but I’ve retrained him completely, and almost completely by myself. I’m getting proud of the work that I’ve done here. He’s turning into a solid horse, despite the shenanigans, but I doubt that any horse with the tendency of getting hot behaves well after being off of work basically since June, save for 4-5 rides inbetween.