Saturday, September 11, 2010

You Horse People

“You horse people,” my lab coated doctor smirked after he had give me orders for rest for the next 3 weeks, and knowingly admonished me ahead of time for my probable noncompliance to his advice. “You are a hard headed group, who will not rest and follow doctors’ orders. If you want to heal fast… then let it rest.” With that, he took his chart and left the room. He had obviously had previous experience with people, like myself, who dabble with horses and have need of orthopedic services from time to time, as the job requires.

 As a younger person, the time off recommended by the dude in the white coat was scoffed at and as soon as I could muster the will, I was back on the horse, proverbial and literally. Today I have been off the horse for two weeks now, nearly unprecedented. This has been a time of my being  totally at the mercy of advil, and I hate being “stoved up” and sidelined.

I had gone to see the orthopod just to make sure, that my knee having gotten whacked by my personal bulldozer of a horse, hadn’t had ligament or tendon damage. Xrays were clean and stay mechanics were good, just major bruising and a bit of hip joint misalignment, which my chiropractor will hopefully address when I can get her. With age, I am finding, comes slower healing time and more of an appreciation of not being hurt to begin with.

Life just does not stop on a horse farm, though, simply because of an injury, or rain, or inconveniences. Horses like to be fed at reasonable  and regular times. Hay has got to be moved from one place to another, fences mended, and the list of stuff that simply must be done to keep the plates spinning and not crash to the floor is endless. So onward I have limped,  and just did it. We all do, we horse people, hard headed and persistent... and downright responsible for our herd.

Anyway, for me, time off a horse and not riding is time spent dealing with another horse, from the ground. This week is about the preparation for taking Fandango (Frank) and Joline to the Keuring, or the Dutch breed evaluation and inspection, in Georgia on Monday.  For the colt, this means learning to load into the trailer, learning to stand still to be washed and braided, getting the finals on being halter broke,  getting final inoculations to keep him safe from new germs, all of which has been compressed into a week's time. Sort of a crash course in growing up fast for him. He is doing super with all of this new treatment and his mother looks pretty fabulous despite her 20 years age. Fingers are crossed for a safe trip and a nice orange ribbon, a first premium, for it all. It will be interesting to see what others think of him. I know I am partial, but I think he is nearly perfect.
Frank has changed so much since that first couple of hours of shaky legs and finding mom's milk, now almost 4 months ago. Once mistaken for a blithe filly, he is now unmistakeably all and totally, male. His muscles have more than amply filled his frame and he is solid, round, and pumped. Frank is a tank. His lovely face is marked with a wide white stripe and is framed by his large dark eyes. His color is a rich dark golden carmel with some darker,almost black, color to the parts of his legs that are not white socks, and to his mane and tail have these darker areas too . His registration papers say he is a bay but the jury is still out on that to me. I have no clue.

Frank is beautiful non the less, and is such a treat to watch playing in the pasture. His favorite toys are plastic bottles, that formerly supplied my basic for martinis, empty now of their goods with a few pebbles thrown in to make noise, they are hung with hay rope to let him bite and kill that offending blue things. There is also a long black rope tied to a post and this poor victim spends many hours getting stomped, reared up and pounded upon, and of course, bitten and shaken til dead. Once these diversions have satisfied the boy, he snoozes in the hot sand of the riding arena, and waits until the next feeding time.

At feeding time the frenzy begins with Marley, the mighty tiny terrier, running to the fence to get a rise out of any of the horses. Frank obliges by lifting his neck into a tightly bowed arch, and picks his feet up and down in a staccato beat, feigning a kick at the noisy nuisance, and then takes off at fastest speed to the barn. Mom keeps a steady walk behind him, chilled, and content to let him think he is cool too.

My finger nails have never been the model of sophistication but with him around it is impossible to stay civilized. Nay, there are not even remotely clean, ever, if I have been to the barn. He is absolutely hysterical in his enjoyment of my scratching his belly. The neck area is fine, he leans into that pretty hard. When I lean on his back and give a good scratch tho on his belly, his face goes into a zone, eyes closed, upper lip curled, and then he takes his front legs and tries to get lower and lower, until his chest is near the ground... He crosses his legs and leaves the world. If I stop, he stands back up and casts his eye and ear back at me to say..."uh, come on, keep going". I usually do.

Once the Keuring is over I will be getting ready for hosting a dressage clinic here starting next Monday with my long time, teacher, coach, and friend, Jeff Moore. I have compartmentalized my to do list down to the things that must be done and those that can wait with no big deal. The weather tho is my issue right now. This is the first time we have ever done the biyearly clinic in September, as opposed to the regular October time, and it is still extremely hot and humid here, dangerous conditions to be working a horse. I am pissed off about this climate issue. I want cool. NOW. (was that really me whining about the cold back in January?)

The lump on my knee is down to the size of a small egg now and its surrounding bruising that migrated from the knee cap, down the leg to my ankle, has turned from the lovely shades of violet and bright magenta, to an even lovelier shade of deep purple surrounded by a post mortem green. But, I can get my riding boots on now, and I can walk with out a hitch in my get along. Good things.

So things continue on their uneven and uncharted course here on the farm, always moving with an endless flow from a force unseen. I go with it where it takes me. I am just a horse person.   

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