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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Birthdays, Bumps and Bruises

Forrest and playing with
his new boredum beater..
The ice tub!
Well--as the saying goes--when it rains, it pours. And if lameness was precipitation, then River Bend Farm would be under a flash flood warning.

A few weeks ago, my lovely mare "Edna" (I know, I know... Edna wouldn't have been my first pick of names either, but I believe its bad luck to change a horse's name so it's Edna now and will forever be Edna--tangent over) who has never taken a lame step in her life walked out of her stall with a swollen ankle. After a trip to see Dr. Ken at Farmstead, it was determined that she had a sprained splint. Tendons and ligaments were fine, bones unbroken. While this was not the end of the world, it was still a pain to have to deal with and I had a week of stall rest, icing, cold hosing, sweating, wrapping and hand grazing to look forward to. Luckily, Edna is a super star--by far the best horse to work with in the barn--and she stands perfectly still in a muck tub of ice and doesn't get stir crazy when she's on stall rest. Still, between Edna and my Irish horse, "Stormy" sidelined while recovering from a hoof abscess, both of my most experienced horses were out for the time being.

But everything was okay, because I had two beautiful geldings and a lovely little mare to ride! Until Wednesday, when Hercules came up lame with a hoof problem.

So it was down to Forrest and a Morgan mare named "Halo," another green horse in my string owned by a family friend who sent her to me to ride. And, despite Edna, Stormy and Hercules all being sidelined temporarily, my spirits were high because Wednesday (June 22nd) I had a dressage lesson with the redheaded step child (ie, Forrest) at Half-Halt Farm with my dressage coach, Linda Heiny.

Let me just take a moment to say that if you ever in your life have the opportunity to ride with Linda, DO IT. I do not believe in "miracle workers" per se, but having said that Linda is by far one of the most brilliant instructors I have ever had the pleasure to work with. She's right on par with the likes of Leslie Law and Dorothy Crowell (my other two coaches) in my book, and she never ceases to amaze, inspire and educate me with her knowledge and coaching methods. She understands event horses better than any dressage rider I've ever taken lessons from and reads each horse as an individual. Her creativity, perseverance and belief in me and my horses (especially Forrest, who is not the easiest of horses to have faith in) has helped me numerous times and I cannot praise her highly enough.

So my weekly Wednesday lesson with Linda was fantastic, as usual. Forrest progressed in leaps and bounds--literally, at some moments--and he gave Linda and I both glimpses of what he could potentially be one day. It was like Forrest's early birthday present to me, giving me such a wonderful ride and reminding me why I love this sport so much.

Then Thursday, since it was my birthday (I turned the big 21+1) all of the horses got a day off and I got Mexican food and domestic beer. Then, on Friday morning, Forrest came in from the paddock with a fat ankle... I'm assuming this was the second part of my birthday present from Forrest, and one that I did not appreciate nearly as much as a fabulous dressage lesson.

Halo, the Mighty Morgan
However, the injury did not appear to be anything more than a scratch that had blown up, so it was back to sweating, icing, cold hosing, wrapping, etc. and Forrest is getting a mini-vacay. He was a very grumpy version of himself (it's part of his whole split personality disorder, I think... when he's in work, he's Happy-Go-Lucky Forrest, but when he's on stall rest, he's Grumpy Forrest) the first day of stall rest, and has since become very needy. Since he's in the barn by himself most of the time, I've been spoiling him with extra cookies and daily bran mash lunches. His stall is also starting to resemble the Land of Misfit Toys in an attempt to keep him (already an unreformed cribber) from getting too bored and self-destructing. So far, he's got a Jolly Ball, a Likit and a Himalayan salt lick to keep him company. He has also become fascinated with the muck tub that I use to ice their legs with. I have a video of him playing with it (we're going to sign him up for an apple bobbing contest this fall if he keeps it up!).

Still, the fact is that I'm down to one horse.

This upcoming week will be full of hacking, mini trot sets and dressage lessons with Halo, the Mighty Morgan (and, apparently, the soundest horse in the world). Fingers crossed, we'll avoid any future tragedies and by my next post things will be back to their relative normality. Until then, I'll be stallside, watching Forrest in Toy Land and playing doctor--or vet, rather.


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