Rodney’s Recap, Heat, Liberty, and Hay, March 2020


Lucky enough to have a horse.


[Old Arena]
Heating Up
A while back, Rodney reverted. He’d been trotted well. Suddenly, I had Mr. Hyde again [Rodney’s Evil Twin]. I asked for a simple, quiet trot; he threatened a hissy fit. I thought we had fixed this.

Turns out his back had gradually restiffened with work and/or from balancing on the trailer. We had fixed it. Temporarily. It’s an old injury [Daddy Dearest]. It will never be permanently fixed. Fortunately he responds quickly to improvement measures. Provided I stay on top of them.

Right now, I am baking him like a potato. Sessions with wool blankets and microwave pads at home [Piling on the Therapy plus another heating pad and full wool blanket on the top of the pile]. For travel, we have a heating pad that uses a USB port to plug into a cellphone battery. Pretty cool.

At Liberty
Rodney is LOVING liberty work. It seems to be doing good things for his brain. He has worked up to walk, trot, canter in both directions and small single jumps [Rollerskates].

You have to be careful. Proper liberty work is not standing in the middle of the circle, waving a stick, while the horse gallops around in a panic. The goal is to give the Rodney time and space to make his own choices.

My groom is brilliant at this. Rodney will often change direction spontaneously. My groundperson employs a nice balance of ‘No, go back the way we were going’ and ‘Okay, let’s go the other way for a while.’ At the canter, he (groom/groundperson) is able to encourage Rodney sufficiently to keep him (Rodney) cantering without chasing him off his feet. It’s a fine line. I would be both too militant and too impatient.

Of course, the horse doesn’t really have an ultimate say in what is happening. He remains under human direction. Fortunately, Rodney is not a deep thinker. He enjoys the illusion of control, the lack of constraint, and the ability to make decisions about how to use his body.

Hay Snacks
Let me tell you a story. Years ago, we took Previous Horse up to a show in Tennessee. Mathilda came along for the ride. Since we had two, we rented a local pasture instead of staying in stalls at the show. The person who owned the farm fed alfalfa hay. Mind you, there was no hay in the pasture. There may have been a few leftover stalks. Shared between two horses. PH was nuts the next day. Jumped great but was impossible to handle. Groom took the bridle off between classes to give horse a break. Took him 10 minutes to get bridle back on. This was from alfalfa fumes. Ever since then, I have been jittery about feeding alfalfa hay.

We decided to try Rodney on it. Mostly for the calories. There is some thought that alfalfa is good for sensitive stomachs. Rodney’s stomach is okay at the moment, but more maintenance never hurt. They get regular grass hay at mealtimes. The alf is fed as a supplemental meal at teatime. Rodney gets a hefty dose. Milton gets a thin flake to keep him company.

So far, not nuts. We started the week before the barrel race. You better believe that Tennessee show was on my mind as we pulled up. Went okay [Not From Around These Parts]. Today, it’s been 3 1/2 weeks. Almost four bales of 80/20. Last trip to the feed store resulted in straight alfala by mistake. Since Rodney has been eating the 80 and leaving the 20, I’ve gonna see how he does on uncut high-test.

Crosses fingers.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

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