While I SO enjoy writing about important causes for the rescue, sharing my favorite equine products, and blogging about exciting adventures with Cash, I’ve decided to start a “dear blog” series as well. These will be short, everyday life updates on Cash.
Today is Thursday, May 7th and I’ve been reflecting on a couple Cash related things. Since moving, Cash has slowly started becoming himself again. There are a few new behaviors that I’m not sure are temporary, or if they’re here to stay. When I bought Cash in August, I never suspected that he had EPM…I didn’t even know what that was at the time! I find myself getting frustrated lately with some of his new behaviors. I’m so ready to get back to our routine. But, then I remember, this could very well be a part of our new normal.
Cash has struggled to feel comfortable riding outside of an arena…probably because that’s where most of our ride time was spent at the boarding facilities. There are days that I find myself making excuses to not ride because I don’t want to deal with his attitude. Riding hasn’t been relaxing like it used to be. Cash throws childish fits when I ask him to continue away from the barn. He is overly alert, as if he’s looking for an excuse to spook. He’s fussy in the cross ties when I’m attempting to tack up. I know I’ve only had him since August, but the regression has been getting to me more and more lately.
Yesterday, while tacking up Cash was especially fussy. I was a little torn between whether it was just a bad attitude, or from his back being a little sore. I assessed him over and over, applying liniment and rechecking my saddle fit. I always advocate for listening to what your horse is trying to tell you, so I opted not to ride in case his back was indeed sore. Instead, he spent some time learning patience in the cross ties while I groomed him.
His weight is another thing we’ve struggled with. When I first bought Cash, he was underweight and malnourished. It didn’t take long for him to gain both weight and muscle. Over the winter, I had switched him to a balancer. His EPM became evident shortly after adjusting his feed amount. Between the two, he again dropped weight, his topline suffering the most. Sometimes I feel like it’s my fault for not noticing the symptoms sooner, for not making more drastic feed changes sooner. I often have to remind myself that I’m not an equine expert, and that I did the best I could with the knowledge I had at the time.
Although I grew up with horses, I’m continually learning along the way. Cash is a much different senior horse than Murphy had been. Cash is requiring a lot more maintenance to keep him feeling his best. Some people use this maintenance as a reason to avoid purchasing older horses. I truly believe a good horse with a little maintenance is much better than a headache of a horse that requires nothing extra.
On these frustrating days, I often remind myself to think of the recent successful moments we’ve had. On our last ride, Cash crossed the creek going away from the barn with less attitude and refusals. Rather than backing up excessively, he’s learning that that isn’t acceptable. Instead, I tell him to stop and think about what I’m asking. I believe Cash needs a way to respond when he isn’t sure what I want from him. I don’t want him to react in frustration, I want him to pause and think. Slowly, like at a turtle’s pace, our rides are starting to be more relaxing and “normal”.
“And miles and miles of John Deere green, freedom far as I can see…”Rodney Atkins
Tonight we had our best ride yet! I decided to stick with my plan of acting like “it’s not a thing”. Usually, I strategize the best way to get Cash to go where I want while anticipating every possible thing that could go wrong. I tend to be more alert myself to anticipate what might spook Cash. Tonight I just relaxed and imagined a beautiful ride…and it was! We explored some new areas without any fits! When Cash was unsure of an area, he simply stopped and waited for instruction, rather than backing up in a panic. It’s as if someone flipped the switch and suddenly the Cash I know has returned. Now I can’t wait for our next ride together!
Until next time,
“Somewhere where the road ends, out there where the creek bends that’s where you can find me…”Rodney Atkins