So my vet got back to me shortly after my last post. She was very pleased with the video and said she never thought we’d get to this point. I have the okay to give him a bit of lunging now.
The Wednesday after I decided to try a little bit. I’m only doing about 30 seconds 2x per week right now. Yes that is probably overly cautious but I have zero goals other than getting him stronger and moving more. So we will be cautious. Plus on the day after we first trotted, he was stiff for the first part of the walk. He warmed up out of it but that was unusual for him. Therefore, I will be super freaking cautious with all of this.
We’ve done three total small trot sessions. Sun-wed-sun. He’s moving okay. His right hock travels oddly. He hitches it up and definitely limps a bit overall on that leg. But he isn’t interfering and he isn’t tripping. That’s a huge improvement and I will take it.
Saturday I go ride Uno at his new barn. This Saturday was fine. He wanted to look at all the people walking back and forth from the soccer fields near the barn. I did not want him to do that. I have a difficult time getting him in the bridle at all and every time he looked, he popped right out. So we did a lot of circles until he would at least slightly touch the bridle again and then continue on.
Since that’s what the environment had me focused on, that’s pretty much all I focused on this ride. I only ride him once a week and I have discovered that Holly and I have very different riding styles. So there’s only so much I can do with one day a week. Mostly the riding is for me to at least get some saddle time. I do like to have something to focus on so I try to choose one thing to get Uno to do.
I am very appreciative of the riding time. Uno isn’t my type of ride but we’ve figured it out together over the last year. But I will be very glad when the opportunity to have my own horse to ride again. Hopefully it won’t be long.
I’m back! It’s been a bit, I know. It’s just hard to keep updating when everything is relatively routine and the same. But I don’t want to completely drop this blog as I love writing it and the people I’ve met because of it.
While Uno is now at a different barn than me, I’m still riding him once a week. Holly is an awesome friend for letting me do that. He’s been fine at the other barn. Less resistant to moving forward in fact. That might have something to do with Holly’s request that I lunge him before riding. Either way, its been nice.
What I focused on this last time was trying to get straight lines. He’s got a huge left lean and just doesn’t like to stay straight. Its funny because he doesn’t flex well and he doesn’t go straight well. We also were riding in the rain which made things a bit harder. Nothing makes me consider contacts/lasik more than riding in the rain with my glasses. It’s not just the water. Its the fogging up of the lenses. Its weird to ride in a fogged up world. Luckily, no speedy maneuvering was required so my glasses fogging wasn’t that big of a deal.
Scarlet is still doing good. I try to get a 20 minute walk in 6 days a week. There are some days where 20 minutes just isn’t working and we have to do 10 instead but I try to make sure those are as few as possible. He does get one day off a week. I need it more than he does.
Yesterday when we were walking, I took him down the little trail near the barn. He’s always been spooky on trails so hand walking him is an experience. He did not want to walk no matter what I did to convince him. So he jigged. And on the way back to the barn, that jig turned into more of a trot. He didn’t trip over his legs and it looked fairly regular in rhythm. So I decided to stick him out in the turnout when we got back to the barn so I could video and see it better myself.
And look at that! Look how awesome he’s moving. For him obviously, this is great. For another horse? We’d all be asking what is wrong. But he didn’t trip himself and the trot isn’t terrible. I sent this same video to my vet because I would like her opinion on how safe it would be to slowly (very slowly) add in a bit of free lunging at the trot. I want him to be healthy and have lots of muscle to support his lack of feeling. Plus free lunging would be a bit more interesting than just hand walking him everywhere.
When I showed this to some friends, they asked ‘Do you think he’s getting better?’. And the short answer is no, I don’t. There’s not really a chance of him get better the way they mean. He’s never going to get back to riding soundness. He can’t feel his back right very well. I have to really work to get him to lift his hind when cleaning it. He can’t feel me asking him to lift it up. His right fore has issues too. He can feel it better than the hind, but I think he gets odd nerve signals happening. He isn’t a horse that pulls his feet out of my hands but he jerks his right fore around sometimes. I’m pretty sure that isn’t intentional.
So while he isn’t ever going to be sound again, what I do think is happening is that he is adjusting to the amount of feeling he has. If half your right foot went numb permanently, you’d feel off walking around for a while. And after a while, you’d adjust. Your balance would change to match what you’ve got the ability for now. That’s what I think is happening. Is it exactly what I’d like? No, I want my partner back. But that’s not happening and while this isn’t the best case scenario, its pretty damn good.
Not been a great week for writing. I only wrote about two days. Not much motivation.
I have been reading a fair amount. I downloaded the Hugo packet this last weekend. If you don’t know, the Hugos are awards that are given out for the best speculative fiction (primarily sci-fi and fantasy) at WorldCon each year. They are a big deal award. And if you have a supporting membership for WorldCon, you can vote. The supporting membership is something like 50-60$. You generally get all the short fiction (short story, novellete, novella) and a fair amount of the novel categories (best novel, best YA novel, best new writer, best series). It benefits the publisher to provide the books because being a Hugo award winning novelist means they are likely to sell a lot more books the next time something comes out.
I love it because I get to read a whole bunch of stuff I might not have picked up on my own. Though I was pretty proud that I already owned 3 out of the 6 nominated for best novel. Makes me feel like I’m keeping up with what the community is reading.
Mentally I designated Sunday as my day to post about horses stuff. I get to ride Uno on Saturdays and it seemed like a good day to both talk about that ride and how Scarlet did that week.
All best laid plans etc.
This week I skipped riding Uno because we planned to have our first post vax get together BBQ at our house with friends. I was ready to ride and make the time work for getting ready for the party in time but then started to stress. So I decided it was best to not and take some of the stress away. It was the better decision.
Scarlet’s been fine this week. Thursday he was a screaming asshole the entire walk. One of the codependent horses left their stall and their equally codependent neighbors lost it. All of them were screaming and so Scarlet said omg I need to panic too. I can’t exactly do anything to get him to stop that the way I used to. When he used to scream, I worked him hard enough that he couldn’t think about screaming. Can’t do that now. I tried backing him each time he screamed but that didn’t deter him. So we just walked with me pissy and my ears aching from his screams. I hate being that person with the screaming toddler in public.
Otherwise he’s doing fine. He’s walking better. Haven’t heard back from the vet though so I need to bug them as to why I’m not on the schedule yet. I’d still like to see what acupuncture and pemf will do right now. Other than that, its business as usual.
Been a while since I’ve done one of these but they seemed like a good post to do to get back into the swing of blogging.
Writing has been pretty hard while dealing with the depressive waves. I’ve been on a good track for a while now though and writing had still been pretty hard. I have been able to do it but I’ve had to kinda of trick my brain into it in some ways.
One way was in a discord group for writers, I found an accountability buddy. We decided to report to each other in a public channel each night what our progress for the day was. It could be words written, pages edited, outline done. Anything that was an actual forward movement. And that’s helped a lot. Its funny how “outside responsibility” can make you do stuff that you wouldn’t have done if the only person to be disappointed/care is yourself.
Another thing I did was I finally sat down and used an outline method to outline my current work in progress. I was getting stuck and started to hate my work. It’s a rewrite from something I did in 2018. The initial draft had characters who’s only purpose was to support the main character, plot holes and obscure motivations. In other words, it had problems. But I liked the characters, the magic and what I had originally wanted the plot to be. So I decided to rewrite it since I had a better understanding of the characters now. Surely everything would go better.
It did not.
I don’t know why I thought it would. Things never work out like you think. But when I got stuck this time, I used an outline method that I’d been introduced to that actually made a bit more sense for my brain than others had. Its Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody, if anyone is interested. Using that, a completely cleared off dining table and a ton of notecards, I managed to get a workable outline that seemed to have a plot and character arcs plus a good antagonist. So I’ve been able to progress.
My progress is mostly in little chunks but I’ve been writing about every other day, which is more than I have been doing for a long time. And I’m pleased with that.
The title definitely illustrates how I feel most of my life is going right now. This post even sat in my drafts folder for a couple of weeks with just the title.
Scarlet is doing fine. He’s doing great actually. It just doesn’t feel great because while he’s more or less healthy, I miss riding him. I miss doing more than walking him around the barn. I don’t think he minds. He walks around, gets to roll in the arena and then goes back to eating. I think the only more perfect retirement for him would be eating himself stupid on grass. But that would probably be bad for him cause he’d get fat and founder.
Scarlet’s been doing well. We’ve been walking around the barn somewhere between 10-20 minutes, depending on the amount of time I have that morning. I had been slacking on walking him for the longer time for a while and I noticed that he started stumbling a bit more often. I definitely felt guilty and have made the effort to increase the time. He’s still interfering a bit more than I’d like with his hind so I called the vet to get on her schedule to give him another acupuncture and PEMF treatment. It’s been close to a year at this point I believe. I don’t know if its going to give him a boost with the interfering but he’s always felt pretty good after the treatments so I figured it was worth a shot. If it does, I’ll just have to keep in mind that he needs a tune up every half year or so.
One interesting thing that I’ve noticed while spending more time just grooming and walking Scarlet is that he’s starting to lean into scratches more. He’s never been a super expressive horse. The only place I ever knew that he loved getting scratched was his face. But now he’s started to ask for scratches in specific places.
I will be currying his neck and he’ll rock back or forward until I get to the one place that he wants scratched. That’s usually somewhere about 1/3 up his mane from his withers right in the middle of the mane. He started just trying to keep me scratching there but now he reaches his neck out and twists into the scratches. Which is adorable but my arms cannot actually hold up to scratching him for as long as he wants. I’ve got noodle arms. Need to work on that.
Another place where he’s been super loving the scratches is his groin. I put him back one day after a walk and he tried to reach around to scratch it himself. Unfortunately, he had to lift one leg to reach it and kept half falling. I pushed him away and was like fine I’ll do it. And he was so into it. When I start to scratch him he will spread his legs and lift his hips to give me the most access possible, as illustrated in the below photo. Its quite hilarious. I am loving that grooming is becoming more something he likes rather than something he just does.
But that’s pretty much my days. 5-6 days a week, never giving him 2 days in a row off. He does fine with one day off but a successive day makes him come out a lot more stiff and less coordinated. I’m still riding Uno one day a week. I’ve got the budget for a weekly lesson as well, I just need to figure out where to go and when to do it. A second horse, lease or own, is a difficult thing to fit into the budget so it doesn’t look like an immediate thing. And that’s frustrating. Like I said, stasis.
I do so good for a bit with writing on here and then I fall off that wagon so hard. Oh well. I’ll figure it out at some point.
I’ve had at least two rides on Uno since that last time I wrote here. Maybe more. But since I remember these two, I’ll write about them.
Uno is very into jumping. I’d hopped him over a jump a time or two when Holly and I were riding together before but not recently. I was hesitant to do it for multiple reasons. First, I was really out of shape. The last time I jumped him was when I was using Holly’s saddle and I almost got jumped out of the tack. The only reason I stayed in was her oh-shit strap. So I needed to buy my own. I have one now. I’m still out of shape but there is some extra support if my own muscles can’t hold out.
Two, Uno and I were having some serious communication issues. He’s not an easy horse to ride. He doesn’t enjoy most parts of working and I’d been spending these many months with him just on working on forward and basics like that. I now feel like we’ve got the forward a lot more consistently now. There’s always issues with that first trot transition but I feel like we’ve gotten past the other bs after that.
Third… well he’s not Scarlet. Jumping Scarlet was 100% effortless to me because unless I fucked up badly, Scarlet got us to the other side. He had only ever refused to jump less than a handful of times. I trusted him implicitly. And any other horse I’d jumped with any consistency was a lesson horse. I trusted my trainers to put me on a horse that wasn’t an ass. And Uno had already shown he could be an ass. So I was scared.
But a week ago Friday, I decided I wanted to try. I did give myself the caveat of if Uno was horrible, we’d skip the jumping and be safe. I thought we might have to go with that when he gave a huge spook at one corner when we started cantering. But he recovered well and was good otherwise. So I shoved aside my fear and, making sure we had a good forward canter, pointed him at a small X. He was great. Went over it fine. We went for the larger X, him keeping his canter forward on his own now that we were doing something fun. My steering was… off and we went over the side of the X making for a much larger jump that I’d anticipated. He was great though. No playing or being stupid. Just hunting for those jumps.
I did the small and larger X a few more times on each lead and went over an X shaped oxer twice and then called it a day. Probably only 10 jumps but I was getting tired, even if Uno was NOT ready to finish. I definitely realized that I needed to get over my fear. I was relatively stable in my jumps, Uno behaved very well and we did just fine. I need to trust him more. He likes jumping too much to mess around.
This last Friday I just did a flat ride. I have alternating Fridays where my day is basically my own to do whatever future development I want on my skills. So my start times on those Fridays are completely in my control. So I’ll save jumping for those days.
Now that Uno and I are more in sync, I want to start pushing for more flatwork things. I didn’t have a concrete goal for this ride except to try some lateral work with him. I’ve been having issues getting the feeling of him actually connecting to either of my reins unless I’m yanking him along. I thought lateral work would help with that.
Guys, we struggled. We only ended up doing a bit of lateral work because everything was freaking broken. We had forward but omg could I not feel a single flipping part of his body doing what a horse’s body should do. I tried riding off the rail to get him listening to my aids. Didn’t really work. I tried the lateral work, had to basically kick a hole in his side to get him to move. Tried some counter cantering. He decided that on the left lead, he was going to begin a pirouette. I’ve never cantered in place quite like that.
I tried to end off with some serpentines and he felt like a handful of stiff pieces of wood connected with limp noodles. How on earth can a horse be so stiff and yet absolutely unconnected at the same time?! It was an extremely frustrating ride though we did accomplish small steps of what I wanted each time. It just… I’ve never had to really deal with anything like that when riding previous horses. Or if I did, I wasn’t experienced enough to know the difference. I don’t feel like I have the tools to deal with it other than just plugging away.
When I was bitching about it to L she said that Uno is a low tone horse and actively tries to suck the rider into being lone tone with him. She said that because of that, I’d have to ride with a lot more effort to get him to do things. He takes so much effort already that the task is a daunting idea. I’m not going to give up on working on harder things with him but its not appealing if I’m being honest. But I don’t want to just get on and ride in circles. I could totally do that and not change my amount of effort at this point. But I don’t want to do that. I want to ride and improve as a rider. So effort it is. I really need to get working out if I’m going to have to carry both my tone and Uno’s.
Scarlet got his toes done on Monday. I happened to have the day off work so it was easy to get over to the barn in mid afternoon with the farrier. He’s a bit difficult to get pinned down for an appointment. It him 3 days to get back to me after I first texted him about needing a trim. And then another 3 days or so to pin down a day. I feel like since we are just doing a barefoot trim I can’t really throw a fuss about it. He’s not exactly making a ton of money off of me. So I just will have to keep in mind for the future that I need to contact him about 1.5 weeks ahead of schedule in order to have Scarlet done about every 8 weeks.
I was a little concerned because his fronts had chipped along his quarters both sides of both feet. He hadn’t been showing any tenderness or any issue with walking. And I recalled that the quarters weren’t the weight bearing sections but I was still concerned. The farrier reassured me that that’s normal and find with the wet to dry and back again weather we’ve been having lately. His hooves got a clean bill of health so I’ve been avoiding thrush pretty well. Always a relief to here.
For how spooky Scarlet can be, he is certainly blasé about things that would set off most other horses. I definitely am grateful for how chill he can be for shoeing. Especially this last time. A house has recently been built to butt up against the barn. Their backyard lines up with the wash stalls, which is where Scarlet gets his feet done. They have two dogs. I know this because the dogs decided they wanted to run down to the fence and bark at us for about five minutes. To be fair, one of the dogs barked a time or two and then decided we were boring and left. The other just sat there barking. Scarlet didn’t care. Bothered me more than him. He barely flicked his ears back to list. And the dog was behind him barking its stupid head off. So its super lucky that Scarlet couldn’t give a flying fuck about dogs.
Our trims only take about twenty minutes now. Scarlet is mostly good at holding his own balance. There’s some moments where we have to reposition him so that his weight is better distributed before picking up a hoof but if he’s relatively square, picking up his feet is no longer a huge issue. I’m really glad they are short and really glad to have gotten this last trim done. We walked Tuesday morning and I felt like he was moving better. I think he’d been stumbling a bit more often since his toes were a bit long. Just another reason to keep in mind that I’ll need to be more proactive with this farrier to schedule earlier. I miss my old farrier and his schedule of remembering Scarlet’s shoeing dates without my input. 😦
Uno was great this Friday. Holly’s project horse was sold recently so she has had more time to ride Uno than she had before. I’m not sure if that really contributed to his behavior but it definitely didn’t hurt.
I had a limited time to ride as I needed to be off and ready to work by 10am since I had a meeting. Normally on Friday’s I have a little bit more flexible schedule but I made it work. Uno was shedding a lot so I took the time to actually go over him everywhere with the metal curry. He hates being groomed so I normally try to do only what is necessary to clean him up and get the tack on. But I wanted to help him get rid of his mammoth coat. I cannot wait until he is fully shed out. It will make grooming him so much easier.
There were two poles about four canter strides apart down the middle of the arena so I incorporated those into our warmup. Other than the first trot transitions, he was pretty responsive. The poles made him more forward as well. Much easier than fighting him. We had just started cantering when it started to rain. Uno kicked his heels up a bit but it wasn’t too hard and we were already out there. I just mentally shrugged and continued riding.
We did a lot of cantering through the poles. It went fantastic. He got super forward and felt connected to the bridle. I even felt comfortable enough with his responses that I did some two point work. I didn’t feel like I needed to have my whole body focused on booting him forward. It was great. I considered trying to jump with him but I hadn’t put my new oh-shit strap on my saddle yet. I want to have something to hold onto since I’m not as strong now.
I really hope that this week’s ride was an indication of us improving for the future. Whether it was him being ridden more, him being more responsive to me or him just having a good day, it was amazing. He felt strong and connected all over. He normally feels like a fucking splintering two by four. Just stiff and prickly and impossible to deal with. But he felt great. I need to figure out how to get that feeling with him all the time.
Stop getting hurt! Stop having blood dripped down your leg when I arrive at the barn with no source. Stop playing too hard with your neighbors. Stop having an actual bite on your ass. Also, stop shedding. It’s not warm enough to shed yet.
Seriously. I’m not sure what Scarlet is doing but I have come out to the above within 3 days. (well the shedding has been happening for a month but still). Saturday I went out and he greeted me as normal. I fed him and started picking out his feet. I go around to his right side to pick up his right fore and see this.
I took a quick picture and then got some towels and a bucket of water to start cleaning it. Scrubbed away and could not find a single point anywhere on his leg that could have been the source. I peeled back all his hair and looked super carefully even for a small puncture. Honestly if I had cordless clippers, I probably would have just shaved his leg to try to see. But there was nothing there.
I also checked over the rest of his body to see if the source could be elsewhere. I didn’t think so given how the blood clearly ran down his leg but I figured I had to check. Nothing. I checked his leg for any heat or swelling and there was nothing. He walked fine on it so I gave up trying to figure it out at that point.
Sunday he was fine. Maybe the tiniest bit of heat in his ankle on that leg but it was so minor that I couldn’t tell if that was me making a mistake, from the sun or actual heat. No swelling so I left it to be. Monday there was a bit of heat but nothing major. He walked fine and it went away after walking. But I found this while currying him on Monday.
I assume someone literally bit his ass. It looks like the right shape. Very shallow, just the first layer of skin off. But seriously horse? Just stop it. Getting hurt is so not cool.