You know, when I found myself facing a long stretch of boring rehab to blog about after chronicling all our epic summer season adventures, I thought wow, my readers are going to be put to sleep since I won't have any great stories to write about anymore. But time and time again, I am finding that my stories about dealing with my kooky mare in rehab might be even MORE interesting than showing and training her! The mare's quirky bipolarity is legendary and preceeds her pretty much wherever she goes. 90% of the time, she is SO quiet, so calm, so brave, so smart, and so easy. And the other 10% of the time? She's ridiculous.
Now add in the rehab factor. That changes the ratio to about 50% sane, 50% cracked in the head.
Remember that phrase, "cracked in the head." It will come into play later.
This morning, I was completely delighted to find that my choice to leave the wraps off last night had paid off - both legs were icy cold and tight even with the wraps off for over 24 hours, no icing or anti-inflammatories involved. Which, unfortunately, makes it look more like the swelling and heat were from breaking adhesions versus anything else. She treadmilled on the lowest setting today, and the legs stayed cool and quiet. All four legs were cool - I've actually been underblanketing her on purpose, seeing as when she's really warm, the legs fill. As she lives in a heated barn and runs on the hot side anyway, a simple cotton sheet is doing the job of keeping her body warm and extremities a little cooler. It's been approaching 40-45 degrees here during the day, much to my delight, and were she not clipped I'd be tempted to just leave her naked. Today, I was talking to a boarder in the washstall, toying with the idea of getting on her and just taking her for a walk just because I think at this point I am doing her no favors by having her stand around, when I heard a commotion coming from the two stalls next to the washstall. Gogo has a new neighbor, a skittery little OTTB that was a free giveaway - one of those 'take her or else she's going in a hole in the ground' situations - and she is here for a month or so just to give the new owners a better idea of what she's going to end up like. They were in the stall trying to body clip the mare, who was not having any part of that game, and I heard scuffling and went to make sure nobody was getting trampled into the ground. What did I find? The mare had scooted towards Gogo's side of the stall, and apparently Gogo found this horribly offensive. I rounded the corner just in time to see her rearing in her stall, ears flat on her head, literally walking towards the mare on her back legs and getting higher with each step. She got so high that she ended up cracking her head HARD on the ceiling, which thankfully knocked some sense into her brain and brought her down on all fours again. Thankfully, she didn't slice her head open, but I'm sure her ears were ringing for a good long while after that.
Hence the, ahh, "cracked in the head" part. I meant it literally.
So I figured that today was probably not a good day to get on and go for a relaxing walk.
After an exceptionally thorough and awesome grooming, another boarder and her daughter decided that they were going to take their horse for a nice handwalk outside, and I agreed to come along with them - after all, a walk outside couldn't hurt and would probably do good things for her brain, right? WRONG! We had gotten about halfway down the driveway when two of the horses in a passing paddock started running around. The other horse I was walking with handled it pretty well, but Gogo's eyes immediately bugged out of her head in that special way that they do, and I knew there was going to be trouble. She actually flipped her tail up over her back, which I have NEVER seen her do, and started practicing her passage, snorting loudly and skittering next to me like there was nothing more she wanted to do in the world than take off at a dead gallop into the next county. I stopped her a couple times, then stopped her and backed her. She wasn't responding well, and when a car started to come down the driveway, she completely wigged out and started leaping around next to me like a complete maniac. I managed to get her off the driveway onto the grass, where she proceeded to attempt to run circles around me and rear. A lot. I managed to get her to hold still long enough for the car to pass, then attempted to make my way back to the driveway. She scooted forward, spun towards me, reared hugely, and then it happened. She struck at me.
Now, there was nothing malicious about it. Remember that I have never in my life seen her even so much as think about making a nasty face at a human... she loves her people. I don't think this was intended as an actual strike, it just ended up being in my direction. She actually had a look of terror in her eyes like, "oh god what have I done!" I moved to aggressively back her up, and she just about sat down, so strong was her desire to NOT go backwards. And then, she made like she was going to strike again, this time lifting her knee as though she wanted to punch me in the gut with it. I nailed her across the neck with my looped over lead, backed her up hard, and started through my standard back up, turn around, head down, back up, turn around, head down, rinse lather repeat that I do whenever she gets her panties in a twist. The point of it is that you do EXACTLY what I say, when I say, NO questions asked, no matter what is going on around you, and you don't move so much as an inch without me telling you to - you don't take your attention off me for a second, you don't move your feet or your body a centimeter until I say. She is far too much of a complete Alpha for our relationship to be any other way.
She, of course, pitched a wicked fit for a minute or two in the preliminary stages of this, rearing and leaping and shooting away from me in all directions. She finally gave up the act, put her eyes back in her head, and stood there looking somewhat humbled, going "well... that didn't work." The running horses in the field no longer interested her, and she was back to her well-behaved self, stopped and waiting for me, backing quietly on command, and putting her head down at the lightest touch. Back in the barn, she was back to being sweet and loving, as if none of it ever happened. She gave me her best bright eyes cookie face, cheerful as ever.
Her legs did nothing alarming following the, um, Gogo fit, but I took evasive maneuvers anyhow seeing as she spent quite a long time on her hind legs. Tomorrow will tell if she stressed anything out in there. As for me, in the melee I managed to strain something in my back, and remember when she broke my middle finger this summer? Yep, pretty sure I just refractured it!
Oh, Gogo. Never a dull moment with you.
Here's my little secret though. She is totally amazing in every way, even the ridiculous parts, and I take her random quirks as they are. All this crap she dishes out? I LOVE it. I don't think I'd be happy with a more meek, gentle critter. I like a little sass in my life. And I am damn proud of all she and I have accomplished, and how far she's come. She is too strong-willed to possibly ever fully submit to anyone, even me, and that why our relationship is so special. She lets me be the leader on the ground, but as you can see from today, sometimes it's not without objection. Under saddle, there's a lot of the times when I let her lead - she knows her feet best and where to put them, and if I give her a speed and a direction, I trust her to do the rest. I'm pretty sure that with another owner, she would have been dogfood a long time ago given how difficult she can be. I'm by no means a great rider or horseperson, but she's just like my twin sister. We might squabble and disagree sometimes, but at the end of the day we're completely inseperable and we understand each other. And we love each other, through and through.
In the way she'll come over and stand by me in the paddock instead of eating hay on the other side of the pen, in the way she grooms me when I scratch her withers, in the way she nickers to me every morning and watches me working in the barn all day, I can tell. I'm good enough to be in her herd, and nobody else is. At the end of the day, that drives me to do the best I can by her, no matter what.
Never a dull moment with her, that's for sure.
Zac's 3 week update
18 hours ago