Friday, May 26, 2017

Another Jackson Update

Jackson's lab results came back and they weren't good.

He has Cushings, although it must be in the early stages because he shed out his winter coat well.  It did seem extra thick to me this year, but I figured that was just him adjusting to our Sierra climate (which is significantly colder than where we came from in Southern California).  Other symptoms of Cushings include frequent abscesses, drinking copious amounts of water and laminitis.  Although he isn't currently laminitic, he has a history of that in the past.  And he has more pee piles in his round pen than are normal so he is drinking a lot.

He also has abnormal thyroid levels.

His insulin levels are normal, though.

So, Jackson is now a highly managed horse.

He's on multiple medications; five in  total:  thyroid (2 meds), Cushings (1 - pergolide), and circulatory for his feet/navicular (2 meds).
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He is wearing special boots at night to increase circulation in his feet for the navicular.

He will be wearing special shoes and hard pads to protect his thin soles.  My fingers are crossed that the shoes stay on.  His hoof walls are thin and weak.  Maybe our farrier can use glue on shoes, if traditional ones don't work.  I'm still hopeful we can get him comfortable, but it may be more challenging than I anticipated.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Walking at Liberty: Last Clinic Post

The very cool thing about being at Robin's ranch was that I got to work with her horses.  We worked with Tex throughout the day, in short sessions (sometimes very short if he didn't want to come over to me).  In between, Robin demonstrated more advanced liberty work and gave me the opportunity to play as well.

Of course, the thing I most wanted to do was to walk with a horse.  But I had to learn a few skills first.

How do you keep a horse from wandering away while you are walking?  How do you create the desire in them to stay with you?  You use draw.  Its an energy pull, coming from your core.

There are three energies that are used in liberty work: Push, pause and draw.

Think about push like this.  Have you ever been in a group of people, large or small, and there was someone that never said anything to you but you knew that they didn't like you.  Maybe they resented you, maybe they were jealous, maybe they thought your taste in clothes was appalling.  You didn't know why, but you could feel them pushing you away.  Maybe when you left, you turned to a friend and said "what's up with her/him?"

Contrast that with: If you catch a close friend's eye across a crowded room and they light up; you can see that they are excited to see you, that they want you to cross that room and join them -- you would go, right?  That's draw.
Working on draw with Red
 In liberty work, I learned to go to the still quiet place at my core and, from that place, use energy to pull the horse closer to me.

After learning some of the building block skills, Robin asked me to practice walking with Red in the arena.

The next day, we practiced in the large pasture.  The pasture is vast, covering the top of the hill and sliding down to vineyards.  There were other horses in the pasture and they were all standing with us.
I called Red to my side and off we went.  It was beyond amazing.  Red stuck with me.  A few times, he started to drift off and I used draw to bring him back, close to me.  If my energy level dropped, he lost interest so I had to stay engaged, confident and positive.

Later, we did it again in a different pasture, a distance from the barn.
 We would walk a bit and then I would invite him to graze.  Then we walked some more.  I made a point of walking to places where the grass looked especially tasty.  He stayed with me and I found him good things.

After walking around for awhile, Robin opened the gate and said, "walk with him back to the barn."  We went out the gate.  I turned left for the barn, and Red turned right for more grass.  In fact, he took off trotting for another pasture.  Robin walked after him and he came to her, then they walked together, at liberty, to the barn.  So, it takes practice and they don't always say yes -- but what a cool experience it is to connect in that way.