Monday, November 28, 2011

Muddy Dawn, Sleepy Pie and Drifter Rears

I managed to ride all three horses - the wind chill didn't get much above 30F but the weather's going to be worse for the next few days.  Dawn and I had a nice ride, but first I had to deal with this:



Pie was having a nice nap in his gravel bed - I rode him later, a bit on the trail and a bit in the arena.  In the first picture, he's pretty soundly asleep; in the second, he's noticing I'm there, but still very sleepy:



Drifter's session started out pretty well - nice work at the walk.  Interesting things happened, though, when I asked for trot.  Two days ago when I rode, I had gotten some brief balking but he trotted pretty willingly. Today, first I got some balking.  I asked again and tapped him with the crop on the shoulder when he didn't immediately respond (secondary cue).  (Two days ago, when I rode him, last, this was sufficient to get us into trot.  I speculated at the time that he might be a little sore, as his trot was a bit stiff.) Then I asked again and tapped again - this time he popped up slightly in front.  I immediately asked again and more firmly tapped - this time I got a full-fledged rear, about a 45-degree angle.  I pretty well knew that something was wrong - he's never reared with me in the 6 months I've had him so I doubt it's really a training matter - but had to get him moving forward regardless at that point since rearing is never acceptable.  We trotted, but only a bit, doing a few transitions from walk to a few steps of trot, and repeating this several times.  He didn't give me any more trouble, so I was able to walk from there on out.  I apologized to him for making him move forward into trot, but felt that it was necessary and unlikely to do him any serious harm.  At the end of our ride, since he seemed uninterested in moving at any gait than walk, I decided it might be a good day to try a small excursion outside the arena - our first.  I rode him up to the gate, we pushed it open and then we rode around in the area of the barn a bit, including on the grassy field behind the barn.  He was very well behaved and seemed interested to be out there.  I also figured that let us end on a good note.

He's perfectly sound at the walk - his walk looks and feels great.  After our ride, I went over him very carefully, paying attention to his reactions to my rubbing and massaging and feeling joints.  His original problem when he was showing symptoms of EPM had been the left hind, so I paid particular attention to that and his back and stifle - nothing.  Since it was that diagonal - left hind/right front - that had been the original problem, I carefully checked out the right front - bingo!  He was ouchy in the forearm below the shoulder, and also a bit around the knee and in the sternal area between his front legs.  There's no swelling or heat, so I don't think it's too serious.  I suspect that he may have somehow tweaked something running around once he felt better, or that our work getting back into shape has gone a little too quickly.  The good news is that our vet/chiropractor is coming on Wednesday, so she can check him out.  I gave him a 500-lb. dose of Banamine to help him out - it'll have worn off before mid-day Wednesday so our vet/chiro can look at him unmedicated.  I certainly hope she can help him out - rearing isn't an equine behavior that's on my fun things to do together list.

16 comments:

  1. Not on my list either!

    How did you determine that he was sore in the forearm? Just palpitation?

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  2. Val - I just ran my hands over various areas and massaged - when he tried to bite me when I was handling his right front forearm and knee, I knew I had it.

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  3. That epm is a very troublesome condition Kate... so sorry you all are having to deal with it.

    Hope that Drifter gets some relief from the chiro :)

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  4. Glad you got your ride in!
    Dawn is very muddy indeed! And I love the pictures of sleepy Pie. I hope your vet/chiro figures out the problem with Drifter, rearing is definitely not acceptable!

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  5. Dawn is a muddy mess. Looks like my whole herd at the moment. Pie looks so comfortable on his gravel.

    I'm glad there was a reason that Drifter reared now you know it wasn't a training issue. Hope the chiro can help him out on Wednesday. Poor guy.

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  6. Kate, So interesting about Drifter's reaction, but glad you were able to identify where it is coming from. You are getting good riding sessions in, balanced with what the horses are able to do, given their EPM treatments. I hope his leg feels better soon.

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  7. Glad it seems to be a minor issue, and good on you for working past the rear anyhow!

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  8. My little herd matches, mudwise. It was over 72 degrees today, so even I can't blame them for wanting to roll in the cool mud.

    I am always pleased to read of a rider/trainer who suspects a physical problem first as a cause of misbehavior. So many less sensitive riders would have forced Drifter to work.

    Your approach--just insisting on the trot depart after a very bad reaction--rearing is my #1 worst evasion--was good training, followed quickly by giving him the benefit of the doubt. You didn't push him beyond his comfort level and even apologized. He is a lucky boy to have you as his "mom."

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  9. I gotta disagree with GHM - Dawn looks like a horse that's meticulously groomed every day who got ONE good roll in the mud in. ;)

    Good detective work with Drifter's bad behavior. I agree that you did the right thing letting him know that rearing is never a valid method of communication! He'll forgive you for a moment of discomfort.

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  10. Poor horse. I see from the post title below that the EPM nightmare isn't over! Sorry for Drifter and hope it is not a big deal. Poor guy.

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  11. Drifter has a gift for the dramatic. Glad you are no worse for rear (sorry, I'm on pun overdrive).

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  12. Sounds like an eventful ride with Drifter. Good thing you were able to stay on and he didn't fall over backwards, too. Sure hope he never does that again and that whatever is hurting him feels better soon.
    Cute photos of Pie in his gravel bed, though :)

    ~Lisa

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  13. I was thinking what Breathe said- Drifter certainly lets his opinions be known about everything.
    Good job on working through it.

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  14. Sounds like a productive day.

    Dawn and Ozzy seem to have a lot in common. Haha.

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  15. Dawn did a fine job!
    I hope your vet/chiropractor can straighten Drifter out.

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  16. So great that you listened to what your horse was telling you! And what a relief (in a way) he had a real reason for the rear. Rears are so scary. I was just at the Equine Affaire and during a Q&A with Sylvia Zerbini, someone stood up and said she had trained her horse to rear. Whaaat? I cannot imagine wanting a horse to know that it is OK to do such a thing. It's bad enough when it happens on its own. Good thing Drift has such a caring and insightful owner.

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