Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Personality Transplant

Before we get to the subject referenced in the title, a brief update on Dawn and Red.

I've had a number of nice rides on Dawn this week, but today's ride was the best.  It was very cold and windy - the wind chills were in the mid-30sF and the arena doors were wide open.  There was a lot of work going on outside the barn involving equipment and noises - the paddocks that adjoin the barn were being cleaned.  And there were two other horses in the ring, one being hand-walked and the other ridden - Dawn hates having other horses near her when being ridden and will gladly kick any horse that  comes near, and will make threatening faces to ensure they keep their distance.  I usually ride her early in the morning precisely to avoid crowded times in the arena. I'd had bad luck with the other rider the last time we shared the arena - her horse got loose once and she almost walked into Dawn and me twice while leading her horse and not paying attention to where she was going.

So I was very proactive - I warned the other rider (for the umpteenth time) that Dawn would kick her and her horse's lights out, given the opportunity - she said "OK", and I also made sure to move around the ring in a way that kept the other horse ahead of Dawn as much as possible.  We ended up having a very good ride - lots of very forward trotting with good relaxation and stretching down to my soft contact.  Dawn's concentration and behavior were great - she ignored all the distractions and noises and just worked right along.  I was delighted with her and told her so.

Red's rehab is progressing.  Yesterday, after a good walk warm up of about 10 minutes, he trotted 15 lengths of the arena in 3 sets of 5, with 5-minute walk breaks between.  He's willing, very forward and soft and seems happy to be back in some sort of work - it's a good thing as he's turning into a bit of a tub.  Today was a walk day, and despite the cold in the arena, he was relaxed and lovely to ride - we did lots of figures using cones and lots of energetic walking from behind, and some stepping the hind legs over on turns and also down the straights.

Here's where the blog title comes in.  Pie had his seventh dose of doxycycline today, and ate all his pills, grain (only a cup and a half) and cocosoya with his usual relish - he's up to 70 pills now.  Every day we're adding 10 pills, hoping to get to at least 110 or 120 per day without causing him to have diarrhea.  His manure is definitely a lot softer and bulkier than it was, but not liquid.  Once we're at the maximum dose he can tolerate, his treatment will continue for 30 days to kill as many of the Lyme organisms as possible.

And here's the remarkable thing - I'd heard that many Lyme horses improve dramatically even at the beginning of treatment, but since Pie's symptoms weren't that severe, I wasn't sure what if any improvement we'd see in the early days of treatment.  He had no lameness, which many horses with Lyme do have, and his primary symptoms were that he was very crabby, seemed muscle sore a lot of the time, was very stiff in his movement and we thought his odd, sudden spooks seemed out of character, indicating that he might be having some difficulty processing visual information.

I'd say we have Mr. Personality Transplant.  Gone is the sour, grumpy, depressed, muscle sore horse, who would stand on the crossties with his eyes half closed and ears back.  I now have an alert, interactive, interested horse who also moves much more freely and happily under saddle - he's no longer short-strided or stiff.  Here's a big tell - he used to be reluctant to approach the mounting block and now walks right up to it happily.  His alertness is almost as if he were awake - he's taking everything in and looking at things but not as reactive.  Before it was if he was asleep and then was jolted into action by odd visual spooks.  It's quite the transformation - one nice part of it is that he's interacting with me a lot more and now really looks at me, which he wasn't doing before. I feel like I'm riding a normal young horse - there may be spooking but I don't think it'll be the same as it was.  For example, yesterday he was looking down one of the barn aisles and saw a balloon waving in the wind - it was a trainer's birthday.  He spooked, but it was a normal, momentary, straddle-footed spook in place.  I can deal with that.  We'll see how he does with his treatment, but I'm hopeful.

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