One year ago I essentially retired Irish. (http://journeywithadancinghorse.blogspot.ca/2012/11/there-is-peace-in-answers.html). What I didn't share was how awful the winter was. He was frequently sore, often unsound. Often he wouldn't eat and appeared mildly colicky/ulcerish. His weight dropped. There were signs of struggles in his stall- he ripped his feed bin off the wall 3 times before I gave up and switched to an over the door feeder. I was frequently treating dings and cuts- again signs that he was falling over and/or struggling to get up and hurting himself in the process. Irish became withdrawn and irritable.
Come spring I had virtually decided that I could not put him through another winter like that. So I decided that I would give him a good spring and summer and decide what to do in the fall. As you may recall in that time I began to play with his feeding program (again!). http://journeywithadancinghorse.blogspot.ca/2013/09/lets-talk-about-diets.html. Since that time Irish has appeared to thrive. He's back to being his lovable, sociable self. His weight is holding steady at 1149. He also began to show signs of being sound. That went up and down over the summer and I was very careful with how I used him.
Come fall I had a horse that was round(er), shiny, interested in life and cavorting in his field. So how could I put him down? It wasn't going to happen. I made a few decisions. One was that I was keeping him on his current diet. However, now that there's no pasture I give him a feeding of soaked alfalfa and beetpulp at night (the alfalfa is good for weight and disguises the beetpulp which he's not crazy about). He's come to love his night feeding. Steele gets a handful at night too. He wears bell boots all the time so he can stop pulling off his front shoes (which lead to abscesses). I've weaned him off the previcox and he seems to be holding his own. I am prepared to put him back on if necessary. I also decided to not blanket him either. I worried that the blanket was also causing him difficulty to get up. I did cave and put one on when the temperature plummeted to -25. However, he's maintaining his weight and had developed a nice thick coat so I'm not worried.
Normally I love to ride on Christmas day but for a variety of reasons this did not happen. Today however was mild, there was no ice and a nice fluffy amount of snow. I saddled Irish up and we headed to the ring. He was quite excited at first but the beauty of being 13 is that he's not overly foolish and it wears off quickly. He was forward and bouncy in all 3 gaits, although out of shape. There's nothing like a canter in snow. I'm glad my neighbours are far away otherwise they would have heard me exclaiming 'yes, yes, yes' when he did a lovely uphill trot-canter transition. Who knows what they would have thought. It occurred to me that I had my horse back. But not at the level we were working at pre-diagnosis. I've decided to start all over with him at training level. I have no idea how he'll do and I doubt that he'll be able to handle the higher level work on his hind but I don't really care. I'm going to work him like a green horse and we'll progress as we progress. There's no pressure to succeed at anything. It was great to ride and just work out what the puzzle was today. What's interesting though is that I'm not encountering that resistance I've had since, like forever. Make no mistake- he's still Irish- which means that he's easily distracted (oh look a squirrel!) but he was not frustrated and neither was I.
So there you have it. I have two green horses that I'll be working with. Who knew? Irish may not make a ripe old age, but he'll make 14. And I'll take that. It's more than I thought I'd have 6 months ago.
|'oh oh, she looks like she's making plans again'|