|Carlos rocking it out on both girls|
Towards fall of last year, I had noticed Lily was starting to get the slightest bit of effusion in her hocks. It didn't bother her nor affect her performance, but I made a mental note to keep an eye on her hocks and her movement because with her Thoroughbred post-legged hind limb conformation, hock injections have always been something I've foreseen in her future.
One rainy, wet afternoon in the late fall, I went out to the barn to check on them and discovered that the tiny bit of effusion in the hock her left hind (ALWAYS THE LEFT HIND) had ballooned to orange size. Cue freakout. Both her and Gracie had been going through a phase of merciless bullying by the alpha mare. Lily had no other marks on her but Gracie's lumbar back and rump were covered in bite marks from where the alpha mare had ripped off her skin. I suspected Lily had been chased away from the hay feeder and in trying to get away with one of normally nimble moves, had torqued the leg in the mud. She was never lame, never painful, and there was never any heat. It's been 6 months and there has been no change in the swelling: it is soft and squishy, like hock effusion usually is. I have a photo somewhere but I don't feel like looking for it so here is a picture from the internet so you guys can have an idea of what it looks like.
|Same size and location.|
|See? No problems engaging and pushing off of that left hind at liberty.|
Also Lily, can you save some of that awesome little canter for when I hop on in a minute? :) Kthx
Anyway. Lily had a nice 5-month break with a splattering of non-strenuous work throughout, so if this had indeed been something that needed resting, she definitely got the rest. Now I'm slowly bringing her back into work with light trail rides (45% walk, 45% trot and 10% canter). She has been offering up lovely work in the arena so I finally decided to take advantage of it.
And then I was on call again. And then it rained. And then we had family in town. And then we went to the cherry blossoms because those only happen for 5-7 days out of the year. And then it rained again. And then and then and then. Whatever.
Three weeks after that, I've been able to get a few consistent rides on Lilybird. And I've been very happy with her. Rides have been mostly limited to the arena at the moment, and I'm okay with that too.
|The only foot that is actually solidly on the ground is her left hind: this is what she looks like when working correctly. Please ignore my equitation...|
|I really need to stop dropping my inside shoulder...|
But look at my horse! :)
(All trotting photos by Shanna!)
|Worst conformation shot EVER. But you can appreciate both the lack of sheen and the excellent body condition on my hard keeper! No ribs = success!|
G-Mare has been a whole other issue. She has been very stiff coming out of the time off, and I will be having her right front pastern injected again (this is the one with ringbone) once I have a more normal schedule that allows me to use my regular veterinarian again. I've been interacting with her consistently but after my first real official ride on her, I realized some of her ground manners had temporarily gone to pot: she tried to barge into me while I was hosing her off post-ride and to get ahead of me while hand-walking back to the barn. This got rapidly corrected right then and there, and a brief round pen groundwork session helped remind her that Gracie mares still are expected to behave like model citizens even when they think they are wild ponies.
She did gain some weight during her time off and has a slight crest going on, but after a few rides it is already melting off. G-Mare was on TC Lite as a ration balancer over the winter with her oral joint supplement, but I've switched her to Legends CarbCare Show & Pleasure for now. She is also getting 1 cup of flax/day. No rocket fuel for her, though! And I need to restart her IM joint supplement. Last winter she did fabulously on zero maintenance, coming out of the winter moving fluidly, but this has not been the case this year.
|Sass monster. Also: somewhat awkward canter.|
|First decent ride on her since the nieces came to visit.|
Photo by Shanna.
|Same ride. Photo also by Shanna.|
|Nice swinging gait once she was warmed up though.|
|Shanna on Gracie.|
|Gaiting easily. Shanna did a great job keeping G-Mare moving at a controlled speed.|
She was in her first heat of spring and being a monumental fussbucket. She was literally arguing with herself...I was simply asking her to walk on a reasonably loose rein and she would fling her head around and even threatened to rear a couple of times, which is just her way of trying to intimidate her rider to get out of work, a card that she used to try to play all the time when I first got her. I could understand her being cranky because she was in heat: mares get crampy and sore and irritable too just like we do. This is also normal for her: the first heat of spring and the last one of late fall are always rougher on her. By the time I realize this is happening though, it is too late to start supplementing and I'm not keeping her on a mare herbal supplement like raspberry leaf year-round only for two moments throughout the year. (I am a firm believer in raspberry leaf though: Lily lives on it year-round because unlike Gracie, all of her heat cycles are upsetting. She gets nervous, anxious and buddy sour. SmartMare Harmony has done wonders for her; she has been on it for the last 3 years.)
With Gracie acting up, I just kept my cool and continued gently requesting what I wanted: a sedate walk with no head-tossing, which she was perfectly capable of doing. She had done it en route to the arena while walking next to Carlos. I was not asking for anything even the slightest bit difficult. I gently requested until I got what I wanted. I would get it for a few steps...and then another flailing moment. She had three opportunities, but at the third head-flinging episode I spun her around in a tight circle and pony-kicked her forward. She walked on calmly and gave me no more trouble whatsoever. Good girl, Gracie. She was heavily praised.
I was expecting to have to do a long warm-up and not really get to the point of collection that I wanted to work on with her on this day, but she surprised me by offering it up with minimal request from the get-go. I was positively thrilled: she felt sound, smooth and even. She received tons of praise.
|Her more collected gait.|
I engage my abs, Gracie lifts her withers.