Thursday, April 9, 2015

Disappointing First Ride

So I got to ride Mikey yesterday, for the first time since 1/25? I think that was the last time I got to sit on him. I was all excited to have him back, do some long and low in walk and trot for 20 minutes, and give him a hug.

He got his hug, because none of what went wrong was his fault. He did everything I asked, quietly and with a lot of try. But his hind end doesn't feel right. I'm hoping it's just a strength issue and a stiffness issue from being in a stall for the last two days after a good romp on Monday, and the 60+ days before that.

I started by walking him for almost 10 minutes. I wanted to get used to sitting on him again (holy cow, he's wider than I remember! Shea is a skinny narrow thing, I'm used to her!), and him get used to me being up there and getting himself balanced. He felt really good, no hitches, and he was willing to walk long and low and through. He was heavy and clunky feeling, but he's still tired after his day outside on Monday and out of shape, so he gets a free pass.

I asked him to trot, and that's when he started feeling like crap. I knew from watching him long line that he starts out stiff and works out of it, and that's what he did to the left. He had a hitch to his right hind, but within a lap he was feeling normal. The short sides weren't easy for him, which is completely understandable that he can't hold the throughness and support both of us on the short side.

I took him right, walked a few laps, and then trotted. It was awful. Not as bad as when he first got the injury, but not good. And he didn't work out of it. He got fairly close, like the lesson horse that totes little kids around but isn't really quite sound, who gets his bute every day and trucks along. I ended up posting on the wrong diagonal to make his job a bit easier, so he didn't have to load the right hind with my weight in addition to the supporting weight.

I took him for about 3 or 4 laps of the arena, just trying for long and low, and he really struggled. The short sides were the worst, he laid on my hand and hitched behind. If I posted on the wrong diagonal, that seemed to make the short side more bearable.

I stopped him and asked for a canter to the left, mostly for my own benefit because I'd watched him be a crazy boy for how many weeks now and I needed to canter him to prove to myself he's still my good boy. His left lead canter was a disaster because it was on the forehand and clunky, but otherwise felt fine.

I quit and did our icy hot routine: ice on the hock for 20 min, back on track hock boot for 20 min (they create warm), and ice again for 20 min.

Uninterested in our icy hot routine. He was very bored.
This pic does highlight the scaring on his white foot. He had the scar when I bought him.
The white marks above it are a couple years old.
I don't know what I was expecting. I expected a rough start, but not for it to linger. He's been on 2-3 month stall rest before with his old bowed tendon and came back from that feeling pretty much normal.

I was so upset, I didn't even get an ears picture while I was sitting on him to commemorate that fact that I CAN sit on him again. So here he is, all dressed, in a new saddle pad I got from the new Dover store, a clean saddle and bridle, and basically decked out in fantastic black and white clothes. He wasn't cooperating.

"No, I don't want to look at you, I want to mess up Lucy's blankets."
I hope it's stiffness from lack of movement and strength problems, not that he's going to be permanently lame behind. Maybe it's all that combined with the fact he is tired- he worked Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday in preparation for being turned out all day Monday (trying to curb the jumping around). Then he worked Tuesday because they were in and I didn't want him going out Wednesday with 24 hours energy from being locked in his stall. He worked yesterday because they were in again. Only 15-20 minutes works each day on easy tasks. I'd rather he be tired because then when he's free to do as he pleases, he'll graze instead of jumping around. I'm going out again tonight to ride him so my trainer can watch him and maybe sit on him and feel what he's like. I know I'm being overly paranoid, but I really want someone with a better eye and feel to watch him work.

I'm sure his future contains trail riding and hacking around the farm, so still rideable. Crossing my fingers for more though.

On another note, on the back of the tendon above his right hock, he lost all his hair from the wraps he had on for a month and a half. While we wrapped it loosely and used Elasticon to hold the wrap up, it still rubbed him through all the padding we had on his leg. I don't think anyone did anything wrong to make it rub, but it's just one of those spots that extended wrapping will make the hair rub off (it has been rubbing since day 1). I had asked the vets at OSU if they thought the skin would scar (on the rub, incisions, etc), and they said no. Everything should heal over just fine, and the hair should grow back normally.

I'm excited to say that the patch of hair that rubbed off is growing in white! It's still more skin than hair right now, but the hair that is there is white! Is it sad I wanted some of the hair on his hock to grow in white? I really wanted the big incision to grow in white so he'd have a stripe down the outside of his hock. As he's gotten older, anything nick or scrape that ends up under a wrap has grown in white. He's got a couple white lines on the front of his front left cannon bone (visible in the icing picture above).

It's no fun unless you get a scar, right?
I couldn't get my phone to focus properly, sorry!
I'll see my trainer tonight, and get her feeling on him, and we'll take it from there. He'll have Friday off (I need a day off from driving the 35 miles to the barn), and he'll see the AccuPatch lady on Friday. She found a couple spots on his front end, but more on his hind end when she looked him over a couple weeks ago. I'm going to ask her to focus on patching his hind end, and if there's patches leftover to do the front (you can only put 6 pairs on at a time). If she can patch 6 pairs on the body and still put a pair on the hock, I'll have her do that.


  1. Don't get too down! It's your first ride back. You're right that he's probably stiff and sore some from the work and the turnout. He's probably also remembering the pain of that back end, and may not be confident using it again. Plus, it's probably still doing some healing really deep and might feel funny. Keep doing what you're doing. Don't push, and let time pass before you evaluate what you have. It's also possible that feeling is his new normal, but that it's workable. A permanent funky movement doesn't necessarily mean the end of a career, but it takes time to get used to.

    It's so funny to me that you're excited about a scar. If Pig had a scar for every cut/scrape/bite/kick/random injury, he'd look like an appaloosa!

    1. I'm pretty sure I'm going to get the same speech you just gave me from my trainer tonight! I'm still in the 'don't get your hopes up' zone. It's harder too because I found Mikey's replacement at New Vocations Lexington, KY a week or so ago- Tapaway. If I had the money to keep two, I would have picked him up in a heartbeat, not stress about Mikey healing and eventually lease him out to a young rider that wanted a safe and sane show horse for training/first level. But, I'd never sell Mikey, so he remains my one and only! I could get used to a funky movement I'm sure. It'll probably go away even more as he loads his hind legs evenly instead of kicking them out behind him. If anything, I wouldn't have an excuse for not being able to time a cue properly. Not when one leg absolutely feels different from the other!

      I don't normally like marks on him, and when he does get marks, I really do want them to heal normally! He has a couple lingering scars here and there, a big one on his flank from an incident 10+ years ago that is just black skin (each winter it covers over a little bit more!) and a huge one across the front of his fetlock joint (I really want to contact his racing owner/breeder and ask what happened but I don't want to pester them). His mane has a white section, and he's got white hair flecked through his coat (not enough to be a roan!), and his sock. This particular scar has cost me quite a bit of money, so I'm strangely excited about it. I should register him in the APHA with that funny white patch he's going to have!