Monday, May 9, 2011

Lily Goes to TR Camp

Lily, sweet mare.

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.

Early riding days. Love her socks. Knee highs. :)

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.

Lily - previously spookfree

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.

Steady.

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.

11 comments:

Leah Fry said...

Hate to see a good horse go bad, bout I bet she comes back from camp looking more like her old self.

Kate said...

Good plan! It does take time and progress comes slowly, but it will come.

Shirley said...

sounds like a good solution for Lily's immediate needs, and perhaps the situation will solve itself, time will tell.

Wolfie said...

I think this is a great idea. She can only benefit from this experience.

Dan and Betty Cooksey said...

I took a look at TR's blog and he looks like a good choice. The challenge will be to keep her going after she comes back.

Dan

John and Regina Zdravich said...

I would bet that she will get back to herself pretty quickly -- she just needs her memorhy refreshed...

Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm sure with some consistent work Lily will be her old self. She sounds like she just needs some self confidence. What a pretty girl she is.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

That's too bad. I hope all goes well with Lily. It's so hard when the kids lose interest. Hopefully, when Lily comes back she'll get encouraged again.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wonder what happened to change Lily so drastically. Apache did something similar right after her injury last year and then had that bout with sage toxicity. She seems much better now, but sometimes, usually when she's in season, she gets that grouchiness and impatience again.

Seems like horses can act quite a lot like humans, especially when it comes to changes in lifestyle, metabolism, diet, and hormones.

Best of luck with whatever you decide.

~Lisa

Maery Rose said...

I read Mugwumps blog. Thanks for the link. She had some good advice about only doing the training you have time to follow through on.

I hope things work out for Lily. I've been in the position of having two horses to work on and now know I can't do it. I can barely keep up with one and it has to be a well-behaved one. It's hard sometimes to admit to limitations, but it's been a smart thing for me and for the horse in my life.

Fragrant Liar said...

Incredible that she's made such a good recovery, and the reasons for her pain! So glad she's on the mend.

I am, however, wondering about how that boat behind Adam got swamped.