Monday, May 9, 2011
Lily Goes to TR Camp
Over the last year, Lily has been ridden less and less. Initially it was soundness issues. Then it was her mouth. Then it was soundness issues. Then she became less predictable. Jumpy. Insecure.
Our steady eddie horse has become a mess.
Another factor is her paddock. She's a leader over Smokey and Pepe the donkey. Thing is that Lily is never the leader. She's low man in every herd she's been in since I've known her. I don't think there's anything that will make you more nervous than to be thrust into a position of authority when you don't really have it in you.
This post by Mugwump sums up the issue with Lily completely (it's a terrific post - get over there and read it!). I stopped expecting anything from her, basically abandoned her as I focused on Smokey.
It was reasonable in some ways. She wasn't sound. I wanted her in a safe herd. She needed to recover. I should have spent more time with her doing other things, but she was pretty grouchy and not so thrilled to be messed with.
Pain does that.
But now she's better. The MSM is working, the Adequan is working. No more lameness. Her coat is shiny again, a sign of better health. Unfortunately time off and MSM did nothing for her sense of security. At first it was just jumpiness. Then it was the unwillingness to take the bit, gritting her teeth.
Frankly she's around a corner and it feels like very, very far away from who I know she is.
On Saturday I rode her out, determined to start her back to work. To get her back on the right road. She was jumpy as a kitten. Her eyes were wide. She looked green.
We are going to take it slow, mare. It'll be fine.
She would have scoffed if she could have inhaled.
I thought of her like a person who has been out of work for a long period of time who comes in to do a relatively simple job. They are nervous - they need this job, but at the same time they are so worried about making a mistake.
"Is that the copier? I've never seen one like that. Do they use a code? I can't remember. Who is that in that room and what's with the stink eye? This is my desk? Should I ask where the supplies are? What does this acronym mean? How can I spell check if I don't even know what they're talking about?"
They wander around in a dazed state, looking for familiar things, hoping someone, anyone, will help.
So I kept it simple. A simple circle from the barn and back. Maybe 20 yards. I felt like she was literally trembling underneath me. I oozed calm. I wanted to be a salve on her nerves. At ten feet she tried to turn. I turned her back. She stopped. I ever so gently urged her forward. She was reacting to everything in a huge way. I focused on being still. Firm. Confident.
We made our first circle.
We duplicated it exactly. After the third time we went an extra 5 yards, slowly spiraling out. I expected her to hold her head in the right place and to go where I directed at a walk. At the end of each circle she calmed down. Her breathing slowed. Her eyes softened.
We came back to the barn when she was in as quiet a space as I'd seen her in a long time. When we tied up in the barn aisle she was different and I saw a glimpse of the old Lily.
Unfortunately I don't have the time it takes to bring her back all the way. Full time job with significant amounts of drama going on these days plus kids, plus hubby, plus, plus, plus. Smokey takes up all of the little time I do have.
Fortunately I have a good friend. Lily's off to camp with TR who is looking for a new training challenge. He's always liked Lily's speed and ultra smooth trot. I hope he can restore her to her former confidence.
After that, I don't know. Lily has intimidated Sierra with her speed. Sierra has latched onto Cody instead and rides so little it's hardly worth having another horse. Maybe I need to consider finding her a home with a western pleasure/ gymkana rider. Maybe I have to keep her ridden so I have a horse for friends when they want to ride. Maybe I can realize other dreams in time and Lily can work into those...
Right now I'm just grateful TR will be helping her come back around. The right situation will present itself, and I'll know better what the right thing to do is.
The right thing for Lily.