Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rites of Spring: Day Two

Okay, so I didn't get to the blankets yesterday. I didn't even take a swipe at them with the brush. My excuse is Spring Fever, Classic Mode. If that doesn't do for you, you need to get out more.

As the winter was pretty much an icy wash, I've been focused on getting the horses back into shape. I didn't bother posting about Leo's newly-diagnosed arthritis with its side-effect of extraordinary online shopping excursions for newer and better supplements at higher and higher prices. I should have. This stuff is a testament to horse owner idiocy in its finest hour.
I had Leo vetted out for the first time in eight years because he was having trouble putting his hind feet down. Disengaging his hocks had become a process, and I thought it was something that needed to be looked into.

Leo is 22. The vet dutifully poked and prodded, did the mandatory flexion tests, watched Leo move, and declared him arthritic. Not a new situation, he said. The damage, though massive, was old. Very old. Probably dating back a decade or more before I owned him.

So why am I bringing this up? Because I've just spent three weeks gradually working the old guy back into shape. Starting with 10 minutes of walking, moving gingerly to 20 minutes of walk/trot, finally achieving a full 40 minutes of walk/trot/canter. I was so pleased with myself for my diligence and caring attitude. Leo was so thoroughly peeved.

With one quick turn on the haunches around a barrel in the ring and a drop-dead gallop that probably shaved full seconds off my best run back in the day, Leo pointed out that the arthritis that had been there for 10 years or more had been there for 10 years or more. It was there when we were running barrels. It was there when we got very nice 50's scores in our dressage tests. It was there when he was giving lessons to beginners. So why did it suddenly become such a Major Deal? Because I'm an idiot. Leo told me so, and I believe him.

Moving on to the topic of the day. . .

Spring Cleaning continues!

6. Brushes! Geez! What is that scum that accumulates at the base of the bristles? Last fall I ditched all of my vintage brushes and bought a whole set of new ones. Two, in fact, since my serious case of chemo-brain caused me to forget I'd already bought the first one. A bucket of water with lots of bleach took care of all of it, so I now have shiny-clean brushes in my brand-new Lowe's see-through dishpan. Yee-HAH!

7. While addressing the tack thing I noted that there were saddle pads of an indescribable color which, scraped with a gloved finger, showed pink and green underneath. There's a load of horse wash now in my laundry room waiting for the moment when I get irritated enough to put hairy horse stuff in with my SO's underwear.

8. I was totally proud that I scrubbed the water troughs and refilled them with lovely, clear water. I was totally peeved when not ten minutes later, Pokey soaked her feet in them. Both feet. Both troughs. These are 100-gallon troughs, so this was no small feat (no pun intended). Reminder: Clean up the muck in the pasture and move the hay bale feeder to dry ground to avoid further offending the picky mare.

9. On the subject of water, all the buckets in the barn were slimy. The first hint of warmth brings on the slime mold like a chorus line waiting in the wings for their big number. This morning I killed it all with bleach and put the freshly-scrubbed buckets back. I even threw away the disgusting pink one that my daughter bought 20 years ago for her gelding (yeah, he had some gender issues thanks to being the cathected object of a 10-year-old girl). I've never quite accomplished matching buckets (or anything else) in my barn, but at least they're not waving at me as I walk by.

10. Speaking of cleaning up muck (#8), for some reason the two horses turned out in the barnyard spent all winter pulling all of the hay out of their rack and piling it on the ground. They don't eat it, just roll in it. Time to come up with a new plan for next winter. Maybe I'll make them work off the cost of the wasted hay. That would show them!

Enough work for today. Time to let another horse prove me an idiot.

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