To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Misadventures in horse-keeping

A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to turn-out last week. I had opened Stella's paddock to the lower pasture and haltered Lance to lead him out to the middle pasture, but decided to give him some fly relief first. I sprayed repellent on a tissue in the tackroom, then started wiping his face where he stood in the aisleway. He lifted his head a bit – and then went into what I can only describe as a seizure. He kind of sat backwards and crashed to the floor, lurched up and forward onto his knees, tried to get up and crashed on his side, thrashed a bit, lurched up and forward again . . . and then stood there. I was terrified, both for him and for me, thinking he was going to die right there in front of me and also fully aware that getting pinned against the concrete floor or a wall by my 1200 lb. horse would be a Very. Bad. Thing. I carefully guided him outside, watching him like a hawk. He tried to snatch a bite of weeds like normal, so I turned him loose in the pasture. I kept an eye on him throughout the afternoon and never saw anything amiss; other than some scrapes on all four fetlocks and over one eye plus a bloody nose he seemed fine (and has been ever since). Of course I told Rick about it when he got home. He said he's seen one other metabolic horse do that, did some testing, and found out the horse had developed Cushings on top of metabolic syndrome. So he drew blood on Lance and has sent it in; we're waiting on results and I'm not riding him at all in the meantime.

They were turned out in their respective pastures again Friday afternoon when I happened to see an unusual amount of activity (I was still keeping a closer-than-usual eye on Lance). I stepped out on the deck to see what they were reacting to, and saw this:
"Is that a pterodactyl? I think it's a pterodactyl!"

On Sunday evening, we decided it was time to try turning Lance and Stella out together. We led them to the upper pasture, and after a momentary "yahoo," they settled down to eat. Lance showed no animosity towards Stella like he has in the arena; it seemed that without Oliver in the mix, everything was fine.

After an hour or so, I decided I'd better check on them. When I stepped outside, I could hear hooves on gravel. I hollered at Rick and ran down the driveway, grabbing the halters on my way. I could see that the horses weren't in the pasture but could no longer hear them on the gravel, so I headed SW, calling both their names, and Rick headed NW. As I neared a neighbor's, they confirmed they'd seen the horses, and directed me to the field next to them. After a short game of "catch me if you can," good boy Lance came to me, and we led him home with Stella following. Neither of them had a scratch and the fence is intact, so apparently they both jumped it! That's very uncharacteristic of Lance if not Stella, and a shame since that's the one pasture that still has some decent forage. Sigh; it's always something when you own horses!