Saturday, May 3, 2008

Happy Derby Day!

It is chilly and rainy here in northeastern Illinois but from the Kentucky Derby Special on ESPN, I see it is sunny and comfortable in Louisville. Lucky them!

Reason number 7,598 to move to Kentucky--the weather isn't so unpredictable down there.

I was just at the barn. Limerick was a sweetheart the entire time. I had a hard time getting the halter over her head for a couple seconds there because her ears were pricked forward so hard. It was a sweet change. For the past few months, I have been having a problem with her giving me attitude while haltering or bridling.

Due to becoming laminitic on pasture grass, she had to start wearing a grazing muzzle last June. She absolutely hated the thing (not that I blamed her--it looked awkard and I was almost embarrassed for her when she had it on) and before long, would start pinning her ears when it was placed over her head. She stopped wearing the muzzle in November. Apparently, the barn guys that turned her out every morning decided she didn't need to wear it anymore.

We'll interrupt for a short biology lesson here. When grass is stressed, it preserves fragile cells by overproducing sugar. Growth (particularly early to late spring, or after heavy rain following droughts), summer droughts, and the onset of colder temperatures in the fall are all periods of high stress for grass.

So when Limerick was turned out on pasture without her grazing muzzle last November, she was consuming large amounts of sugary, stressed grass. Two days later she had laminitis, and after two weeks of stall rest, we were at a new barn that turns the horses out on a dry (grass-free) pasture so the muzzle was not needed.

But the bad attitude continued. It went from pinned ears and nasty faces to gnashing teeth to turning to me, teeth bared, hell in her eyes. I had let it go on for months. Long story short, Lim has been overcoming some lameness issues for the past several months but is slowly but surely improving. She is almost back to her old self now. Due to the health issues, I was hestitant to lash out at her for being wicked.

Finally, I decided it was time to consider this a behavioral issue and consulted with Illinois Horse, an equine message board I'm a member of.

They told me to raise hell on Limerick whenever she even started to let an evil thought run through her little horse brain. No hitting, just lots of goofy arm motions and noises, kind of like a silverback gorilla going off on a subordinate member of the gorilla tribe. I tried it for the first time on Thursday.

It worked like a charm. I prayed no one would walk by as I was waving the lead line around in the air like a maniac, half-hissing, half-growling like a rabid raccoon. No one did, and instead there was just Lim, backed into a corner of her stall, eyes wide. Poor little Limerick, she had no idea what had just happened there, all she knew was that I had come out on top. She was more or less well-behaved the rest of the day.

I saw Limerick yesterday but just stopped in to say hello to her and make sure she wasn't three-legged lame or off her feed. So today was another potential opportunity to make a fool out of myself in her stall.

Much to my surprise, it was completely unnecessary.

Anyway, maybe due to the miserable weather, I've been dragging myself around all day like a slug on acepromazine. The barn's siren song still called to my heart but I felt my arms didn't have the strength to lift my dressage saddle onto Lim's back. Instead, I groomed her then turned her loose in the indoor arena.

She has nicely developed her spring dapples and looks gorgeous. She walked over to the open door at the back of the arena and sniffed the cold spring rain, her bay coat gleaming with dapples and Omega Horseshine.

As always, I carefully watched her legs as she moved, looking for signs of the arthritis I (and my wallet) have fought so hard to overcome. Her legs moved fluidly, her hind feet overstepping her forefeet. Her hips and shoulders opened wide with each stride. Her butt looks nice and round now. For a few months, the muscles back there had been wasted away, giving her butt a strained, tight look. Her back looks nice and flat, with a deep slope leading from the top of her croup to the base of her huge withers.

She's still a bit ribby but with all the muscles filling in nicely on her body, and her coat gleaming with health, I'll take it. I hope she gains just enough weight to cover those ribs completely soon though, I'm getting tired of worrying about what my fellow boarders think of the ribs.

Hubby and I are going to turn Limerick out in the outdoor arena tomorrow and get some good pictures of her while she still has her dapples. I'll try to post some of those pics.

And yes, in case you're wondering, I will get to my beginnings with Limerick soon! If there is anything you would like to know about, then feel free to comment. I've changed the comment options so anyone can post.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

Interesting, laminitis. Arthritis would be our equivalent. Yup, eating 'stressed' and sugary foods leads to arthritis (and other medical issues) for humans. I didn't see the connection till you explained what grass does when stressed. Makes perfect sense. Especially knowing how stressed our earth is, nutrient levels being low due to overfarming, chemical pesticides, pollution etc. It's a shame she can't enjoy being outside though. I bet it really frustrates her! But you sound like you're handling it well. You're nuts, you know? She's finally realized it. Man I wish I'd been there. Reminds me of having to punch a nasty POA in the nose. Luckily the older girls on the equestrian team warned me before I even approached (probably thought I'd be scared since my pony had bitten my breast when I was 12). He never so much as laid his ears back after that. He didn't dare.