Tuesday, August 11, 2015

That Dang Horse

It's been about two years and some since Lord Duquesne (AKA "Dink") fell ill and lost weight and I thought I was never going to get our feisty Appaloosa back to health. Thought he was going to die, in fact. He was 23 years old, after all -- that's pretty old for a horse.

I stopped taking him out on long trail rides; not only was he looking poorly, but I also found myself short on time and couldn't spare the nine hours or more spent on getting to a remote location, a long ride, and more hours to get home.

At the advice of our shoer, I began feeding Dink Purina Senior Horse Feed, five pounds of it a day. Amazingly, his gaunt frame started to fill out again, and by this past spring, I had to cut him back to four pounds. He was actually getting tubby!

I like him rotund. But the other thing that the Senior Feed seems to be doing is giving him lots of energy. By that I mean, TOO MUCH ENERGY.  He's always been a bit of a bastard, but lately he's been threatening to buck if I don't do what he wants to do; and while he hasn't bucked, I'm not thrilled with his head tossing and body-bunching and tail-switching just because I don't want to turn to the left or let him run up a bank.

Today I began my morning by stacking wood. (We got two cords of wood last Friday.) Then I had breakfast and went out to ride with a couple friends. We had to change our usual route because a farmer was burning piles of almond tree trimmings on either road we take out from the ranch, and found ourselves on orchard roads we'd never taken before.

Dink was plainly stimulated by the new trail. New barking dogs, new places with almond harvesting equipment being noisy, people on quads working under the trees. It wasn't much of a problem though, until one of the riders let her horse move on into the lead.

"Stimulated" became "freakin' obnoxious" in no time flat. He began to bunch up, toss his head, and prance. When I wouldn't let him charge ahead of the other horse, he got madder and madder. Higher prancing. Shifting his hindquarters back and forth. Tossing his head trying to break my grip on the reins.

The other horses, by the time we got back to the ranch, were calm and dry. Dink was wet with sweat from his ears to his tail. I was also pretty well soaked with sweat from the effort of keeping him under control.

I know I'm going to be sore from this ride. I also know I'm going to start cutting that Senior Feed with a supplemental hay pellet that doesn't have so much jazz in it.

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