Scheduling

Work: PM heat therapy.
Report & Ramblings: Our second session in which we did groundwork has already slid off the agenda due to short days & my inability to get my act together in the morning. Now it looks as if the walks are disappearing as well.

I originally started walking him after his therapy figuring that he would be at his most amenable. Now I’m thinking that the converse may have been operating. Working immediately after was not letting him get the maximum benefit from being heated & rubbed down. I know after bodywork I certainly don’t want to go anywhere, do anything, talk to anyone.

Greg has not completely bought into my horse attitude/cold weather inverse relationship. I think it has enough merit that I am willing to let things slide for a few weeks see to if warmer weather works in my favor.

Or perhaps I’m just lazy.

Daddy Dearest

Work: PM heat therapy/EVE groom.
Report: walked mare immediately after heat session. Rodney went into the barn for 1/2 a lap, came out, ate hay, went back in, & when we were done went back out to graze with her. I have no idea what, if anything, all of this means.

Ramblings: Yesterday, Sara Light-Waller of Sacred Touch Healing, suggested that emotional issues might be a contributing cause to Rodney’s biological gas attacks. Plus, “holding of some memory trauma in his intestinal pathway” would explain why he reacts to gastric medicine as if he has ulcers but does not display the standard ulcer symptoms of colic (thankfully) or weight loss (no way!). I had not thought about an emotional component. Not surprising, as I mostly try to reason my way through life.

If you want trauma, I can’t think of much worse than being attacked by one’s father. I don’t mean in a cutesy, anthropomorphic, I-am-Rodney’s-mommy fashion (which, BTW, I reject utterly). I mean literally. Rodney’s breeders ran the horses in a herd. When Rodney and his half-brother were about a year old, the stallion decided they were excess to requirements. He savaged both of them along their backs and withers. As I understand the timeline, the two yearlings were swept up by the folks from whom I bought Rodney 10 years later. They developed raging infections to the point of almost losing one or both of them. Imagine going all at once from contented, rambunctious foal at momma’s side to searing pain, separation, weaning, and a new barn.

Time will tell if releasing the scars has any effect on Rodney’s way of going or on his attitude. I am too hyper-rational to believe any of this emotional trauma, energy pathway nonsense. However, I have seen it work. Do as you will with that contradiction.

New Age horse techniques, yeah or nay?

What A Stinker

Work: day off.

Over the last many months, I have been working to loosen an old scar on Rodney’s back. Forty-five minutes of heat results in less than a millimeter of progress. As I work on his back, he gives the usual happy horse signs of yawning and farting. On days when I have made more progress than usual, his waste products – both gaseous and solid – are absolutely vile, almost sulfuric. This can continue for several days. I like to think of this as a sign that I have opened up important energy pathways and that his body is getting rid of toxins. Or, it could be complete coincidence with a particularly smelly patch of grass.

Any massage therapists care to weigh in?

Hay Is For Horses. But Why?

Work: as yesterday, with 30-minute lunch break between Rodney’s heating session and Mathilda’s walk.
Report: Caught mare. Rodney eating hay. Rodney comes over to survey the carrot situation. As we pass the barn, he saunters in. After our first lap, he emerges, gives an abandoned foal scream, and goes back to the hay. Will continue to experiment with the parameters.

Ramblings: Would you be ecstatic over a steady diet of granola, beef jerky, & water? Horses are. We bring them the same thing day in, day out. They go nuts, day in, day out. I don’t care if dinner was Waygu beef hamburgers served by Chippendale waiters, after a while, I’d want a change.

Our horses not only want their hay, but when we bring in a new load, they insist on sampling it to test for quality. Then, once served, not all hay is the same, even within a bale. Hay gets pawed thru and spread around. It’s dried grass, I have to wonder what are they looking for. With one load, Mathilda would root through each flake, eating what she considered to be the good bits and leaving the rest. The difference was invisible to us.

Then there is the hay versus grass decision. Since our horses are fed in their pasture, they can chose to eat their hay or wander off and graze. Clearly, fresh Kentucky bluegrass would beat any hay. But our land is not KY limestone and the grass is of commensurate quality. As spring comes, we can see them weigh hay versus grass. Part of the equation is convenience. Hay requires no activity other than jaw motion. Grass must be hunted.

Last year Rodney appeared to prefer hay over grass, partly because he did not like leaving the barn area. Already this year he is grazing farther and farther away. Could it be that it is just taken him this long to settle in?

Any hay antics to report?

Order, Order

Work: PM1 heat/PM2 groom.
Report: Need to complete experiment before evaluating hypothesis.

Ramblings: Tried a new plan. Usually, Rodney gets his heat therapy and walk and then Mathilda and I go for our pasture perambulation. Today, I wanted to try walking Mathilda in between. Rodney could relax over the break and I could prepare with whatever peace or exhaustion I could find from circling the field several times. Previous Horse was rigid about his universe, for example, he HAD to be worked first. Woe be unto you if you contravened any of his rules. I have not yet discovered how flexible Rodney is. Or, if he’s inflexible, what order he likes events to occur.

Results? Rodney walked off immediately after his back rub, which he always does, yawned quite a bit & started grazing. As I walked off with the mare, he continued to graze. No sign of darting back to the barn. He did eventually stroll into the run-in shed to relieve himself [thanks ever so much] and strolled right back out to snack on leftover breakfast hay. In fact, he looked so content, I gave up the idea of going back for his walk and moved on to the rest of my day. We are far from achieving happy kid but at least we can have happy pony.

Does your horse care what order you do things in?

Hair Today, Not Gone Tomorrow

Work: EVE heat therapy & partial grooming.
Report: weather, cold & overcast. Horse, ditto.

Ramblings: Where does it all come from? Previous Horse, Mathilda, & Rodney all start(ed) shedding long before the formal start of shedding season. Earlier horses were not kept at home, so I may not have been as attentive to the calendar, or not out and brushing as often during the gloom of winter. Right now, Rodney has a sleek, shiny Thoroughbred coat that you wouldn’t think could generate any excess hair. You would be wrong. Mathilda has always been a fuzzy bear in winter. Even her star generates a snowstorm of white hairs for weeks. Already this year, there have been days when I have had to reach for a towel to breathe through while currying.

This does not preclude multiple hairstorms come true shedding season.

When do your horses start changing coats?

To Every Thing There Is A Season

(Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV)

Work: rain.

Ramblings: Fallow is fine if one’s harvest season has been busy. When I was in college, I loved to visit my grandmother. I’d lounge about. I’d read books. We’d play cards. I’d forget about papers, finals, the fact that I didn’t have a boyfriend, or whatever was troubling my sophomoric self. When my life got quieter, the same visits and the same activities drove me insane with boredom. When life is restful, my ideal vacation is to be dropped in the heart of a major city and not sleep for three days. Therefore, spending the winter letting a horse be a horse, catching up on riding books, and working out at the gym is wonderful. Unless that’s what you did all summer.

Of course when I say I want to be busy, I mean the happy, challenging busy of driving home tiredly peering through the fistful of blue ribbons fluttering from the truck’s sun visor, or catching a red eye flight to interview the returning Olympic team, or blearily trying to remember all the marvelous answers to the problems of the universe you and your friends came up with at 3 am last night. Joyful, satisfying, with just enough physical discomfort to make you appreciate a hot shower and a good dinner at the end of the day.

Not the bad busy that means an impromptu visit to the boss’s office, random grazing in a hospital cafeteria, or rising flood waters. No one wants those.

What is your ideal vacation, with or without horses?