Thursday 9 March 2023

The Pinch Hitter

Since Cisco was off for a bit with his probable abscess in his hoof, Phantom was going to have to step up to the plate as my #1. She had only been ridden once so far this year, so she is pretty convinced that being tacked up is something that she no longer must endure on a regular basis.

Except that I had the weekend off. So she got ridden three days in a row. 

Oh! The horror!

She had a chance to burn off some sillies on Wednesday night - which she was quite happy to do. I pretty well just stood in the middle, picking the rocks out of the footing that still pop up every time the arena is harrowed and trying not to notice how stiff Phantom looked behind. 

Thursday was the first ride. We did 30 minutes - 27 of which were at a walk on a long rein, and a total of 3 minutes, done in short bursts, at a slow trot. The old mare (who turns 20 in a couple of months) was feeling her age and was stiff behind. 

Phantom thought she had died. Dead.

No desire to move.

While I undressed her after the ride, she squeezed her eyes shut expressing her complete exhaustion. I didn't clip her back up to the tie, and when brushing her face took her halter off and left it off. For 15 minutes, she stood completely still in the middle of the barn aisle, reflecting on what had gone wrong in her life that resulted in this indignity.

Day two brought out a completely different Phantom. This one was chatty the whole time I was tacking up - she kept nickering to me when I left to get something out of my tack box. I have no idea what she was trying to tell me, but I find it hard to believe that she was expressing her joy in being tacked up yet again. And it wasn't for cookies - she spit them out when I tried to give her some. Wierd mare. 

The ride was much the same as the previous one - lots of walking, short trots. She felt better right off the bat at the walk, walking much more forward and loose. The trot also felt better - at least when tracking left. When tracking right, she's not feeling quite as solid as I would like - she's feeling like an old horse. She kept threatening to bolt out of the bolty corner though!

Ride three was on Saturday. I used the nebulizer on her before the ride with some Dex to see if that would help her breathing, as she was rather puffy after the short trots on the previous rides, although she recovered well which has been a problem in the past. It seemed to help, so I will keep doing that before riding.

Phantom's so cool, she's gotta wear shades. Not for flies, but to give her eyes a break from the very bright sun.

This time, we did over 4 minutes of trot, and a wee bit of canter. Very wee. 

Again, she was feeling better than the ride before, but not as good tracking right as left. She happily picked up the canter without drama. We did the right lead first, which is typically her better rein, and oh, was it jarring! Especially the downward transition! The left felt pretty good though.

A girl's gotta nap after a whole 30 steps of canter. 

Things are still pretty cold here at the moment, so Phantom had two days reprieve before I hopped on for a fourth time in a week. It turns out that things were still pretty cold that night, and I don't even think I made it a half hour before I said fuck it and hopped off, landing on my frozen toes. We managed to do almost 5 minutes of trot this time though, and she had quite a sassy walk after a few easy trot leg yields.

I'm hoping to hop on Cisco this weekend, so Phantom will be relieved to go back to her mostly retired life. It's much easier to ride her in the warmer months when there is still light in the sky and I'm not chilled through after riding Cisco, so I'm going to aim for April to get her going a few days a week. I'll get her back on Previcox when we see the vet for vaccinations and see if that helps her arthritic hocks feel a bit less stiff.

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