You have no idea! I was so scared. I didn't even sleep last night. I didn't know what I would do if something serious was wrong with BG. I was prepared for tragedy. When the vet told me everything was going to be okay in a week, I was all,
Poor BG is still lame as a one legged duck. I changed her hoof banaging. Soaked for 20 minutes in betadine/epsom salt. Packed with betadine soaked cotton and rewrapped. It took me forver! Luckly, BG is a very good patient and get me play with her foot until I got it right.
"Get this bag off my foot. Pleaseeeee."
I've started working with Cat. She's a smart girl. I'm just fixing things as I find them. She's hard to catch, for one thing. I closed off two gates to the larger pastures and walked her down in the smaller pasture behind the barn. The first time I did it, it took 15 minutes. Second time, 5 times. Third time, barely two minutes.
It's easier to catch horses when they're been taught to be caught. I put her in the round pen and free lunged her until she started asking to slow down. A little longer and I called her to the center. She trotted up and stopped around 20 feet from me. I walked up to her. She walked away, so I sent her out again at a trot. Repeat several times until I could send her out and go up to her without fail.
Bridling and haltering needed fixing. She's been allowed to raise and throw her head. That's not going to fly for me. I'm a short little person, and she has a very long neck. She has to bend down and flex around. She's learning this very quickly! Tons easier to handle already.
She's nervous around my stick and string. Worked on desensitizing. She trotted and snorted for several minutes while I quietly slapped the whip against the ground. But after she got it, she got it.
BG is getting less lame. She's been promoted from her stall to a small pen near the foundered ponies. Mostly because the stall is making her crazy.
I had my first ride on Cat! Yesterday, we did ground work. We worked on sidepassing, free lunging at a walk, and trying to get her feet into that effing tire. For all her intelligence, she could not/would not (I suspect would not) put her feet into the tire without my actually picking them up and placing them inside.
Today we rode. I put her in a full cheek french link. Her owner rode her in a wonder bit, but I didn't have one and like snaffles better anyway. The bit was a little thick for her (she has a shallow mouth), so I may try to find something thinner when I can.
We worked on one rein stops, flexing laterally and at the pole, quiet trot/walk transitions, and backing. She could be lighter in the mouth (especially backing and transitions), so we're working on that. We just started sidepassing on the ground yesterday, and she's already sidepassing a few steps undersaddle. So smart.
She does have problems standing still. Not like BG's standing still problems; BG's just nervous. Cat is all, "I've always been allowed to walk off when I want and I do what I want."
Cat bucked a little when first asked her to trot, and bucked harder the first time we cantered. When she realized I wasn't scared of her, she gave up. No fight in this horse.
She's a little spooky, but I'm game for it.
Overall, she's a really nice horse. A couple things going to give, but she's got a lot going for her.
But let's back up a couple days. Tuesday of last week, precisely. Tuesday, and I was dispirited. Baby Girl was questionably sound at a trot in a straight line, and inconsistently lame in circles. I had was soaking her foot twice a day and keeping it clean. She was making progress towards soundness, but it was very questionable -- preposterous, even -- that she would be ready for the 50 mile Spring in Dixie CTR. Even if she did become sound, there was a hole in her foot. NATRC drug rules forbid medications that would keep that hole clean.
I had given up. No national championship. I failed.
Then Paula called.
"I heard you wanted to win a national this year," she said.
"You could still win it on your Arab. You just need 10 rides."
I'd been hearing this for days. Everyone told me to campaign Cat and give BG the year off. BG's chronic. Always sick or hurt. Plus, it's good to ride other horses, they said. BG won't mind, they said. (I'd mind, I said.) You'd have a real chance with Cat, they said. (There's always always a chance.)
"... But you could try Baby Girl. There are ways to manage. If she's lame Wednesday, but it's only a grade one, you have a chance. It might disappear by Saturday -- when it counts. But if it doesn't, you just went a long way with a lame horse and lost a national. The Arab would be a safer bet. But if you want to bring Baby Girl, there are ways."
I asked her the ways. Paula told me to keep BG's boots on all weekend, even in the stall. Every time I pass that horse's stall, take off the boot and sanitize it with a 30% bleach/water solution. Spray BG's foot with hydrogen peroxide and Vetericyn. All these treatments are legal. The key is to keep the hole as clean and free of debris as possible.
Wednesday, and BG was still lame in circles.
Thursday morning, Baby Girl was questionably sound. I had Cat's hot pink halter over my shoulder. The Arab was coming to Dixie, I had decided. It was logical and safe. The best decision.
One of the hardest decisions you'll face is choosing whether to walk away from a crazy dream or to try harder.
I decided to try harder. I threw Cat's lead rope over BG's neck and loaded my little mare into the trailer.
My friends said I was insane. Was I really betting on a lame horse to become sound over night? And was I going to ride that horse 50 miles and hope for the best?
Vet-in Friday morning. Baby Girl was sound.
We rode out Saturday at first light. I rode with Sarah and her insane horse Motion. I just tried my best stay as far back was possible.
It was rainy, muddy, cold, and miserable. BG fell into a mud hole that went up to her belly and lost one of her boots. The boot on the abscessed foot. At the P&R five minutes later, I noticed. Panicked, I cleaned the foot and transferred my one remaining renegade to the bad foot. I rode for 25 more miles that day with only one boot.
Saturday afternoon. Still sound.
Sunday morning. Still sound. Rode 25 more miles with one boot and covered in mud. Many trails were impassable due to flooding. It was tough.
Sunday afternoon. Did our circles at vet-out. 100% sound.
One ride down. Nine to go. The national lives. BG was an angel the whole ride. I have a ton of praises to sing to that little horse, but maybe in the next post. I just wanted to go ahead and say:
We made it. We couldn't do it, but we did it anyway.
Congratulations! That's amazing! You have a wonder horse there! Its like she somehow knew the ride was this weekend and wanted to go and do well as much as you did, so she did that for you and her, amazing.
Yesterday was Baby Girl's seventh birthday. Oh, how they grow up. I gave her a few apples, but otherwise let her relax in the pasture. It's good to have time off between rides. She's conditioned, and I think she's well prepared for almost any obstacle they can throw our way. She was so wonderful at Dixie that she deserves her two weeks. The Benefit is weekend after next. Another day, another 50 miles! Living the dream!
I've decided to dedicate some time to continuing to get to know Cat. I've only ridden her a handful of times -- once a week at most --, but spring break is starting tomorrow.
We did a short trail today.
She's calmed down. Last week it was a struggle to get her into the wash rack for a bath, she ran away when I went out to catch her, and she spooked at every squirrel on the trail. No more of that!
I sent in a huge Distance Depot order yesterday. I bought BG a little S hackamore (so I can stop competing in my ghetto rope halter), a new renegade, and got Cat her own bridle. BG's bridle is a little big.
Also, Cat is shedding like CRAZY.
BG doesn't grow a coat, so I absolutely love taking a shedding blade to Miss Kitty.
This lovely creature is enjoying the first warm, sunny day in several weeks.
And THIS lovely creature had a rough day at work!
All I wanted to do was take her for a walk in the woods. I've never before ridden her alone on the trails. She is content to walk when ridden with another horse. Today, all she wanted to do was TROT.
We spent an hour on the trails, working on walking quietly on a loose rein. I'm seeing aspects to her personality that are different than BG's. When BG jigs on the trails, adding energy in the form of tight circles and one rein stops only intensifies the problem.
BG is best slowed with gentle half halts. The half halt method had no effect on Cat. "Quiet" one rein stops followed by several seconds of standing were also ineffective. I figured out that Cat is best slowed to a walk by pulling her around in several tight, energetic circles before giving her another chance to walk on a loose rein.
Fascinating. I love new horses.
I did force her to stop and stand several times, however. She kept rushing in and out of the creek. I made her stand in the water for a few minutes.
And stand under a Bartlett pear tree. Because those trees have wonderful white flowers in the spring. And if I'm going to teach a horse to stand, we're going to stand in pretty places.
We did eventually walk home, though it was very much under protest. I'm taking her to Mingo tomorrow to mark trails. That'll teach her to stop and stand.