Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Million Miles Away

Shorty and I have been taking it easy these days. Most of this is due to the fact that I am getting married on Sunday, so I've been busy running errands to prepare for the big day.

Shorty got a massage last week. It didn't really create any miracle transitions, but I think he felt a little better. Shorty and I went out for a ride a few days ago in the field after a day or two off. Normally, Shorty would be all over the place. Fortunately, he was tired from running around in the field while on turnout. Instead of taking off at the gallop, he took a lovely extended trot. I didn't ask for it, but heck, I'll take it! At the canter, his strides didn't increase in tempo, but he did increase stride length and elasticity (which felt lovely).

As for next week, I will be in St. Thomas, lying on a beach. I have a fellow instructor taking care of Shorty, but I will miss him terribly while I am away. I'm awfully attached to that horse, and I think he's attached to me a bit, too. At least, he nickers for me and sticks his nose out the window of his stall when I drive up the driveway. He knows the sound of my car. Today, as I hand walked him around, he put his head down and I stood there, gently rubbing and scratching his neck, forehead, poll, and ears to the point where he was leaning his head on my shoulder and drooling in delight. I even pushed on his poll, and he did not react at all, just looked at me as if to ask, "Why did you stop rubbing my itchy forehead?" I seriously stopped for all of ten seconds, causing him to stomp and fidget before I resumed rubbing behind his ears.

Shorty does not allow many people into his life. He decides within a few seconds if he likes you or not. He pins his ears and bites at the bars of his stall when certain people walk by. He likes my business partner, Judy, and my farrier, Holly. He hates Dr. Wade, my vet. He hates my boss, most of the boarders, and all of the tackers (even though these people feed him on a regular basis and are nothing but nice to him... ingrate!). He does not like the girl that is taking care of him for the week, but she's the only one I felt comfortable with in terms of quality care. I just hope Shorty doesn't outright hurt her; he's gotten MUCH better about that, but let's be honest- Shorty is a 1,200 pound horse in great shape with aggressive tendencies and trust issues.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Equine Chiropractors

I was able to get in contact with a riding instructor with several years of experience working with OTTBs. I hoped she would have answers, and she did. She told me that many ex-racehorses have spine alignment issues, causing them significant amounts of pain and stiffness. To prove her point, she put her hand behind Shorty's ears and pressed firmly on his poll. He softened for a moment until she touched the pressure point; he tried to take off her head at that point. I felt his whole back tense up on the right side as soon as she touched it.

We did not do very much in the lesson because of Shorty's alignment issue. She recommended taking it easy until he sees a chiropractor. Shorty's vet is coming tomorrow to do spring vaccinations, so I will ask the vet to recommend someone good if she can. I'm also looking into equine massage to prevent the muscles from pulling his spine back out of alignment again.

We went on a trail ride yesterday. We mostly walked and trotted, rode in a western saddle, and stayed on a loose rein the whole time. I do trail ride in a tom thumb bit these days because my horse can be very strong and very, very fast. The leverage bit allows me to give a little correction with a small half halt without making a big deal out of it. I love my D ring snaffle and use it for anything that requires Shorty to be on the bit, but on trail rides I let him stretch to a long rein, stay out of his face, and use a little leverage to keep my energetic horse from bolting.

Today, Shorty seemed very backsore, most likely because he was racing up hills for the first time this season. He was cranky in general. Opting to keep tack off his back for the day, I let him free lounge with a nice, loose trot for a few minutes each way to loosen up, and we spent thirty minutes doing stretching exercises on the ground. He was a good boy. I hope he feels better tomorrow.

In other news, I am now officially certified with the American Riding Instructor's Associaiton (ARIA) in dressage. Hooray and such.