Thursday, January 5, 2012

Making time for horses

My life has been a little nuts lately.  On New Year's Eve Day, our dog Emma, who has been sick with pneumonia, had to go to the doggy ER.  Although she'd been doing seemingly better on Friday (which was why we didn't take her back in to see the vet), on Saturday she stopped eating and drinking entirely.  What else can you do with a dog who won't drink?  Not a lot of options there, so into the ER we went.

As you can imagine, with a dog in the hospital, New Year's Eve was pretty low-key.  I'm almost ashamed to say that both hubby and I were in bed by about 11:30.  He fell asleep shortly thereafter, and I stayed awake reading a biography of Lincoln until about 12:30.  We are such geeks.  (The biography was really good, though.  It was the photobiography by Russell Freedman, and I highly recommend it for any history buffs out there.)

After two nights in the hospital, Emma was released with two prescriptions for antibiotics (one of which cost almost $10 a pill!) — different ones than the kind that was making her stop eating — an anti-nausea medication, and a prescription for an appetite stimulant.  So many pills, but they seem to be doing the trick — she's eating, not quite so much as before she got sick, but a health amount, and she's drinking, too.  Her energy levels are up, her cough is sounding more productive (and less frequent), and she's feeling good enough to beg for treats and to go outside.

With Emma on the mend (though it'll be a long path — pneumonia takes some time to fully go away, from what I've been told), I finally got some horsey time in.  To make up for my missed lesson last week, I had two lessons this week, Tuesday and today.  On Tuesday I rode Panama, and he was surprisingly good for being largely ignored for the past two weeks.  (I'm sure it helped that he had a playdate with Spaghetti on Sunday.)  This morning I was quite sore, though, and I was feeling bad for having neglected Rondo so much lately — pretty much any time I was able to set aside some horsey time, Panama got the lion's share of my attention, being the rideable one.  So today we lunged Rondo.

Unfortunately, Rondo was feeling the effects of having been ignored (except for basic grooming and blanketing) for the past month, and was a bit of a pill.  He was more reactive and defensive than his usual, and seemed to have forgotten basic rules like "Don't step on humans."  My trainer lunged him, and he immediately showed a marked preference for moving clockwise (counter-clockwise is Panama's better direction, so it seems like in this, too, they are polar opposites).  He tried running away from my trainer several times while going to the left, and at one point virtually dragged her all the way across to the other side of the arena before giving up.

My trainer pointed out that, especially while moving to the left, Rondo was very stiff and kept his hip cocked in a little bit, in case he felt he needed to kick out and protect himself.  (And he did try a few times.)  As a result, she ended up working with him for a long time on bending and learning to disengage his butt and step away with his hind end.

My trainer working with my really big baby horse

I feel bad, because much of this behavior is resurfacing from over the summer.  It had more or less gone away as I'd spent more time with him, but obviously his "vacation" in December had him convinced his working days were over.  I have faith that we'll get back on track quickly, but I need to make a more concerted effort in January to get out there at least three or four times a week!

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