Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Koolaid's "attack-of-the-vet"...and on balancing respect and trust

March 10

Not too much exciting today, except that I spent a nice while following Chicka around in -24 weather, freezing my *** off trying to catch her! Definitely an LBI and as an LBI we are lazy. No, we do not appreciate work in any way, shape or form, and we especially do not appreciate having to leave our buddies for said work! LBI's, or any LB so far actually, I find take longer to get to the point in a partnership with them where they want to hang out with you... though Chicka does have a fairly healthy level of "draw" overall. At first playing with you is a bit of a novelty, so they don't mind being caught, but as the novelty wears off (and since a firm solid partnership is not yet fully established, it's still in the works) they become harder and harder to catch, especially if you are playing a lot of "drive" exercises (such as where you drive the horse out and away from you, establishing respect, such as the switchbacks, driving game, circling game, etc)...until you firmly establish that partnership to the point where they want to work with you. So, we're in the mid-phase, haha.

I started off with the switchback game I've been using and also some driving game, as I really wanted to focus on earning her respect. She did well at all 7 games though and remained pretty focused, particularly since we started out with a bit of a bang with the respect games. Our patterns on the ground also went well; we worked on the 22' today with the circling game as well as the patterns and she did well at both. She actually ended up trotting the figure-8! She was a little leery about me being so assertive however she seemed to settle down in the end. Saddling and mounting she was great, and her 3-part maneuver was better than yesterday. We did several laps either direction at both the walk and the trot (still learning to stick to the rail and to move out responsibly, to stay at the pace I ask her to be at) as well as some small circles on the rail, some changes in direction, back-up, transitions, and figure-8's that encompassed most of the arena. Great progress so far; tomorrow I'd like to work even more on her impulsion and responsibility (ie. remaining at a particular pace) as well as clean up some of what we did today (ie. sticking to the rail, small circles, transitions, etc)...I'll also introduce her tomorrow to the cloverleaf pattern. Today we were a little short on time though, but tomorrow we should be all set! We ended on a good note with a calm and attentive partner (following me throughout the arena afterwards lol) so hopefully tomorrow we can start on a better note :)

Wasn't such a sweetheart while Chickadee and I were out playing tag (or so I hear), but he was pretty calm and LB for the session when Chicka and I were there! He ended up even playing the figure-8 and weave and also remained calm for the circling game. Great job buddy :)

We finally took the little squirt in to the vet Monday. After 3 weeks of his leg wound not healing to my satisfaction, I figured it was time to take him in, hopefully just for some antibiotics. When we got there though the vet actually recommended a set of x-rays and an ultrasound, since the wound was so close to a joint (above the right knee), there was so much swelling, and also since his mobility was affected (on a lameness scale he only scored 2, but his flexibility in that limb was definitely compromised). We wanted to see what we were dealing with once and for all. Turns out the x-rays showed a bit of bone calcification in that area and also some arthritis, likely caused by the injury - so he obviously banged himself up pretty bad at the time of injury! Doc says worst case scenario we have to do surgery and clean everything out, including the infected bone calcification, but best case scenario the bone calcification is not infected (which is most likely) and the arthritis goes away as the injury heals. The ultrasound showed us a very thick-walled joint capsule (it holds synovial fluid) - abnormally so, but that the tendon was not inflamed. There was a lot of scar tissue to be seen and it looks like the outside of the tendon (from my understanding) has been scarred a bit however the interior is still healthy. The vet who looked at him thinks that he will always have some visible permanent scarring, but that, with regular physio, Koolaid should have full mobility with no recurring lameness, given time. At the clinic, Koolaid was unable to touch his toe to his elbow, which he should be able to, which greatly concerned the doc. They wrapped his leg, mostly to provide pressure to the wound, and instructed me to give him a daily dose of Excenel (antibiotic) and Bute (anti-inflammatory), as well as to do phsyio exercises with him. Today when I did the physio exercise with him, already he loosened up enough so that the toe would touch his elbow! So far so good then, we'll just have to keep it all up for now (bandaging for a week, antibiotics and bute for another 2 days, physio daily) and see how it goes.

Edited to add: Koolaid healed up just fine and was soon back to 100 percent!

On the subject of vets...I left to go check out the x-ray images with the vet and returned to find my horse had been doped up and a technician twisting his ear...I didn't say anything and instead just took the technician's place, but needless to say I wasn't all that pleased...Koolaid is naturally wary of strangers, but for good reason (obviously!). Whenever a vet or farrier comes around they first off never introduce themselves to him, instead just walking up to him to do what they need to - classic predator-style direct-line thinking. Meanwhile the horse is still trying to figure out who they are and if they should even be allowing this predator into their space in the first place! Koolaid certainly respects me and although he does give me (minor) trouble the odd time, ultimately I can always do what I need to or want to with him (without a fuss). Since I was not there this time, they tried to force him into doing what they wanted (which is only making their job tougher next time 'round) and ended up tranquing him a ton just to shave his leg over the wound! No wonder he doesn't trust strangers when they never take the time it takes (which really is only a minute or two and probably saves you time in the long run anyways!) to earn his trust and every time one touches him it's never for something nice, like a treat or a rub - rather it seems to result in twisted ears, rasps against his belly.....aaah. Ah well, I need to learn to speak up and also to find a clinic (and a farrier!) that practises natural horsemanship (or along that ideology)...which is very rare. For now I just have to settle for knowledgeable and good people skills.

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