I thought I would use the random format to give snapshots of each of the horses. We brought them into the barn last night, ahead of the drenching rain that is soaking and blowing today. It went like this:
1. Jackson was standing stock still when I went into his pasture/arena to clean. When he stands statue still and stares at me, I know he has an abscess. He was standing by the fence and twisted his head towards me so I could slip on the halter. This is, oh I don't know, abscess number five or six for this spring since I took off his hoof boots. He hates them, lifting his leg and vigorously shaking it in an effort to remove the offending boot. They also make his feet stink in a very unhealthy way. It took 40 minutes to navigate the short distance from the arena to the covered round pen. Jackson was very unsteady, and almost fell a couple of times. For each three-legged hop forward, I rewarded him with bites of grass. Once in the round-pen, I mixed up some bute (for pain) with a big serving of sweet feed and molasses. He ate 2/3 of it, complaining the whole time, eating it just to make me happy; rolling his eyes, shaking his lips and shooting me unhappy looks. Jackson hates bute. He is picky picky picky -- no peppermints, no sugar cubes; he only eats one brand of horse cookie, and carrots or apples. He prefers hay to his bucket of vitamins. Jackson is 13 years old and has been retired since he was eight. I have tried every shoe, hoof boot, and medication known to man; he's been worked up six-ways-to-Sunday. Our farrier in Southern California didn't think he'd still be alive; that he would progress to the point where he couldn't be managed. But here he is. Sweet Jackson; loved by all.
2. Flash was next. Brett has started him on stronger arthritis medication because his over-the-counter supplement was no longer working. The pills are the size of my pinkie finger nail; Flash gets 1/4 pill daily. Brett bought a box of Fig Newtons and slips the pill fragment inside. Flash is responding well to the Previcox and loving his daily cookie. He has gone from moving verrrrrry slowly and painfully to a normal gait. Flash will be 20 years old next month.
3. Tex came up to me in the pasture while Brett was putting a halter on Flash. He's still wary at first, so I stand next to him talking about how beautiful his is, before offering the halter. Yesterday, I stood for longer than usual with my arm around his neck, holding the halter in front of his nose. Eventually, he dropped his nose and I slipped it on. As we walked out of the pasture gate, I dropped the end of the rope as I reached to push the gate. Tex jumped backwards, "Don't beat me, don't beat me, PLEASE don't beat me!" Then he looked at me, dropped his head and walked calmly through the gate. He bumped my hand a few times as we walked to the barn. "Um, sorry about that. I forgot where I was for a minute." Tex is 12 years old.
4. Pistol crowded in front of Lucy when Brett and I walked up to the gate to the girl's pasture. Brett had to shoo her back to get inside, which caused her to toss her head in annoyance. Then she stood still for her halter and quietly followed Brett to the barn. Like Flash, Pistol is also 20 years old but, unlike Flash, she is perfectly sound.
5. Lucy dove her head into her halter and we went out of the gate before Pistol and Brett. Half-way out, she decided to spin and snort. My sciatic has settled down and the last thing I wanted was for her to pull on me and cause it to flare again. So, I got angry. Normally, I'm firm but quiet. Yesterday evening, I was firm and forceful. "Knock it off Lucy. Quit being a prima dona and walk like a lady." Everytime I felt her energy rise, I gave the lead rope a sharp tug and used my voice to reprimand her. "Don't shake your head at me." "Would you just chill." "You are not Queen Lucy; you are just Lucy. Got it?" She did knock it off and walked quietly beside me; a few head shakes and tail swishes but no spinning, rearing or snorting. Lucy is 14.
(I used Buffy's portraits of the horses for the post. Thanks again for the awesome photos.)