"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Gracie's Ears

On Saturday I rode Lily first, but this time I gave her a small dose of oral acepromazine paste as a sedative. I really had no interest in repeating the previous day's bucking episodes. I also gave her her beet pulp dinner prior to riding to make sure she'd have something in her stomach.

Her back and flanks fine on palpation prior to tacking up and she was absolutely perfect under saddle. The ace paste has a milder effect than the injectable version: enough to take the edge off, but not so much to make her sluggish, which the injectable form can do. If Lily really is sore, she will still buck while sedated, but will be more inclined to give me a warning first. We worked for 25 minutes: 5 min walk, 5 min trot, 5 min walk, 5 min trot, 5 min walk. Right from the get-go, she wanted to walk with her nose to the ground, stretching. I let her. Stretch all you want, Lily. She wanted to do her hunter-frame trot: body long and flat, head and neck extended. Very relaxed. She was happy to stay at a nice medium trot. We worked mostly on a 20 m circle with lots of changes of direction and did serpentines at the walk to get her bending and stretching laterally as well as through her topline. She felt loose, almost slinky-like. It was a very nice ride!

Afterwards, I washed and iced Gracie's leg, then tacked her up. Her hock was puffy again but the swelling over her cannon bone and fetlock had gone down. She was walking 100% sound on it, not sore at all. Kathy tacked up Queenie. Initially we were going to only do the back loop, but when we rode all the way out to the street that you need to cross to reach the soybean farm, the Percheron stallion was at the bottom of his field, far from the main dirt road we had to ride on to get past the farm buildings. We decided to continue and see if we could get past without him charging the fence.

The stallion never even realized we were riding by. He was too focused on the lush spring grass in his pasture! We let Gracie and Queenie gait past the horse fields, then continued at a forward walk.

We rode past a huge rig that was either fumigating or watering the field right by the main road. I had Gracie stand and look at it. She watched it alertly but remained parked in place. Good girl! We continued on our way. We went past a large truck and flatbed trailer with a cistern. Gracie side passed past it as she observed it, but didn't try to spin or turn around. Good girl!

We walked onto the gravelly road and started to gait, but Gracie spooked at...I'm not sure what. She took off laterally backwards, away from whatever it was that she was seeing or hearing ahead. I asked her to circle and move forwards. She did the same thing again. Asked her to circle and moved forward. This time, she complied, continuing at a rack. Kathy and Queenie picked up a pace and followed us.

We rode past more farm machinery and Gracie didn't even bat an eye. We made it to Four Corners and turned right, following the dirt road down to the fields that are now planted with baby corn. At the end of the corn field, we turned left, following the perimeter of the field, and into the Rabbit Hole.

Gracie was SO. HAPPY. She had never been out this way before and she was as confident as if she'd ridden through here a 100 times.

Ears pricked and forward, alternately racking, doing her running walk and flat walking with her huge swinging strides. This mare just loves the trails!

There is one water crossing that is pretty steep both going into the creek and coming back out of it. Gracie wasn't too sure about this crossing and tried to turn around once. I had her stop by the side of the trail and Queenie took the lead. Gracie was happy to follow immediately behind her, then asked to take the lead again!

We followed the entire Rabbit Hole trail to where it joins the Grand Canyon trail:

The Patuxent River. It's because of this view that this section is called the Grand Canyon Trail.

The trail leads up a ditch, going uphill for a ways. The ditch had a small creek flowing through it this time, a remainder of the heavy rains we'd had earlier this past week. We basically rode in the creek all the way up the hill to where it took us back onto the trail. Gracie wasn't too happy about walking in the creek, but followed willingly once Queenie took the lead through this portion. Gracie even managed to gait up this gnarly section of trail, not because of any request of mine: she just wanted to get out of there in a hurry!

We made it back onto the road that would return us to Four Corners uneventfully.

Gracie walked/gaited on the way home at the same speed she had left the barn, even when Queenie took the lead at a faster gait. We had one small meltdown as we were riding past some more heavy farm machinery. I'm not sure what this vehicle was, but it was huge and moving, right by the side of the gravelly road. Gracie actually skittered sideways towards it, then jigged towards some rocks and a creek by the side of the road: she wasn't looking where she was going. I managed to turn her before we reached the creek, then swung her around to face the vehicle. I asked her to "Whoa" and she stopped, parking herself. She has the BEST whoa button! She watched the vehicle attentively as it did its thing about 30 meters from us. After a couple of seconds, she turned her head and looked at me. "Ok, I'm done. We can continue now." I love her. She is SO much like Lucero was. I feel completely safe and at home on her back: the way her brain works is just so familiar to me.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. I was SO proud of her! So far over the past few weeks our trail rides had been ranging from 3 to 6 miles, up to 1.5 hours in duration. On this day we did 8.5 miles in 2.5 hours. Gracie wasn't tired at all: she still had pep in her step as we rode home and was still pushing evenly with both hind legs. Kathy said the swinging of her left hind was markedly improved too!

Gracie is literally an opposite ride from Lily: Lily can be slow leaving the barn (especially by herself) and quicker on the way home (especially with company), whereas Gracie is happy whether leaving or returning and would gait the entire way if you let her. When faced with things that intimidate Lily, you have to ignore them and ask Lily to trot on past them. Otherwise she will stop, stare, bottle up her energy and explode. It's as if by acknowledging the thing that frightens her, you're also acknowledging that she should be frightened. Lily has gotten much better about this, but she used to be the kind of horse that once upset would stay upset. Gracie is better if you let her stop, look, and assess. She might get nervous about the thing that is frightening her, but if she can stop, look at it and realize it's not going to eat her, she's fine continuing on her way without a second look at the object. Lily can go past something that spooks her a million times and spook at it every. single. time. (TB brain!) Gracie spooks at something only once: next time around she will remember it doesn't eat horses.

Gracie's leg looked fantastic after the long ride:

The definition had returned to her hock.
Only some localized swelling around the cut itself.
As long as the horse is not lame, movement is the best thing you can do for cuts and scrapes on legs that are prone to swelling .

I iced the leg for 30 minutes again and Gracie went back out in her field. I took Lily out of the dry lot for her 15 minutes of hand grazing as the sun was setting.

It was a very good day!


  1. I think a piece of Lucero landed in this little mare. Sent just for you.

  2. Sounds like a fantastic day!

  3. Nice mare and what a great ride. I think you are happier when you are riding a gaited horse. And maybe Lucero brought her to you.

    Sounds like you had a great weekend.

  4. Aww, Gracie seems like a great mare. I'm so glad you guys had a good ride :)