First off, let me say that I am terrible at consistently updating this blog. It can be hard to find time to write between my insanely busy job and actually riding and taking care of my horses. All you other adult ammys out there know what I mean!
So…I’ve had Chief for almost six months. Crazy!! He’s improved so much that I am honestly stunned. Especially considering how many injuries he’s had during that time. To be blunt, he is accident-prone—unlucky in the extreme. But the craziest thing about these injuries is that they were all freak things, all totally terrifying, and in the end, all totally fine. Lucky even. Here’s a list (because I like lists):
- Laceration to his left hind. He did this 5 days after he arrived. It swelled up pretty fierce, but he was never lame, and it resolved quickly.
- Laceration to his right front, just above the heel. I saw him do this one. We had tried (and failed) to introduce him into one pasture. The second pasture (with the two year-olds) was going great. Until Chief had a playful fight with a gelding on the other side of the fence. He reared up and got his foot hooked on the wire running along the top of the fence! I thought I was going to watch my beautiful horse break his leg. But he pulled free, fell down, stood up, and…was fine. I had the vet out, but probably needlessly. He never took a lame step and I was riding him again within the week.
[photo: ouch, but miraculously superficial]
- Chief had some small hives when he got off the trailer in June. Thinking they were from stress, I left them alone. MISTAKE. By the time I had the vet check him out they had become calcified granulomas. They are purely cosmetic. I told myself that looks aren’t everything and he’s still a great horse. But still, I was sad. Thankfully they responded well to direct injection of steroids. So it looks like we might eventually get rid of them after all.
[photo: granulomas all over his right side]
- Puncture wound to the right stifle. My trainer and I decided to take Chief to a schooling show in September just to hang out. I went to get him out of the pasture at 5 AM and he could barely walk. I got him up to the cross ties in the light and found the puncture. It was tense until the vet arrived, took some x-rays, and determined that the joint was not penetrated. He was sound again within the week.
- Potential neck abscess scare. Chief was on IM injections of antibiotics for two weeks after the puncture wound. One day, his neck swelled up at the injection site. I immediately feared an abscess from the caustic gentamycin we had been injecting. I spent a few days waiting and dreading for his skin to peel away. But NOPE. Turns out another horse had bit him on the neck. No abscess. We put him right back to work.
[photo: the “not-an-abscess”]
Chief has been quite rough on my bank account and quite good for my fabulous vet’s retirement! After the stifle wound, his pasture living rights were revoked. He’s doing great in his double-sized stall with daily turnouts (alone!). When I got him at the beginning of June, he had NO training away from the racetrack. He could barely steer, couldn’t pick up the right lead canter, wouldn’t accept my weight in the saddle, and had no idea how to jump or even go over a pole.
[photo: all by himself…he’s gotta be…all by himseeeelllfff]
He has come so unbelievably far since that day. Here’s another list:
- Chief consistently picks up both canter leads now with no fuss, and even does it from the walk.
- He jumps 2’-2’3” courses of jumps, including straight and bending lines, scary boxes, and oxers.
- He jumps grids!! Seriously. Full grids.
- He does beautiful simple changes on figure eights and is learning flying changes over poles.
- We almost never lunge him, even after he has had a few days off.
- He lets me pull the blanket on and off over his head, stands quietly in the cross ties, does neck stretches for cookies, and can very nearly perform a circus bow.
- He can do leg yields at the walk and trot and is learning collection.
- I can trail ride him all over the property, even out in the back field, without a buddy.
WE ARE GOING TO OUR FIRST HORSE SHOW IN TWO WEEKS!!
Yep, that’s right. Six weeks almost to the day of him stepping off the trailer from Kentucky, Chief will make his hunter debut.
He might be the luckiest of unlucky, accident-prone horses, but he’s worth it.
[photo: the cutest of faces]