12.07.22: A Hair Cut and a Dumb Bell

As I suspected, Kirsten has a lot of experience dealing with Anhidrosis. I had a long conversation with her about the options that we have, and how they manage it in Florida. She said for starters to give him a full body clip. That will help his body be able to maintain a better temperature. It also gets the hair away from the skin so that the skin can breathe better. When a horse stops sweating they are unable to flush things away from their skin and clear their pores, which only serves to compound the issue. She also mentioned that the one horse that she has in training gets a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer every night, and for whatever reason it helps him. She was also encouraging of him continuing to work, but while managing his temperature very carefully, and even giving him short breaks to graze if need be to help him rebalance. She also recommended that he be kept in the stall for most of the day for the next week or so to try to help keep him as cool as possible so his body can reset if possible. Once full blown Anhidrosis has set in, they never recover. So the question is whether or not he has gone that far yet.
We stayed up talking into the night on Friday, and had a really awesome conversation about how profound the bubble concept is, and how applicable it is to everything. I told her about my experience shooting and how effective it is to be in that frame of mind while working. She recounted a recent lesson that she was working with a woman that was only 7 weeks recovering from hip replacement surgery. She was having a bad day when her lesson arrived, and so Kirsten set to work to find something gentle that she could do to benefit her and the horse. She was moving very stiffly, stepping forward from her pelvis rather than using the hip joint, and was in a great deal of pain. Kristen began the conversation working with the bubble concept again, and talked about the bubble being a full 360 degrees in all directions, including above and below. The woman replied that she didn't have space below her feet because her feet were on the ground. Kristen replied that atomic particles are mostly air, and just proposed to her, what if there was space below your feet... The woman hobbled off the thought, and amazingly within three or four steps she began to use her joints again, flexing and bending. She looked up at Kirsten and said "The ground feels fluffy!" Kirsten was amazed at the change, and the woman continued through the lesson with much less pain and a much greater range of motion from nothing more than the thought of space below her feet. I am continually amazed at how profound the thought of space is. The impact continues to ripple outward through everything. Call it energy, The Force, the Kinestetic Sphere, woo-woo or whatever, it is a huge part of our existence that somehow gets shut off as we grow older. Opening that door to finding our space again has a HUGE effect on everything that we do, and each person that we interact with.
I was very concerned about what I was going to be able to do with Storm for our lesson. We ended up switching time due to the rain on Saturday (yay!) so our lesson was in the afternoon instead of the morning. I wasn't thrilled about it, but it did give us more time to be able to get him clipped up before we had to get started. Nancy helped I curried him good and then brushed him off while Nancy trimmed away all his feathers (his legs look so naked in the back now!), and then we sprayed him down good with Show Sheen to help keep the clippers running smoothly. Once that was dry we set to getting him clipped. He was pretty skeptical at first, but finally settled down and just let us work. We clipped down his throat, across his chest, and down to his knees in the front, then clipped a big patch around his flank and down to his hocks in the back. Since he's gray, you can't see it much from a distance, but he does look rather funny up close. His fleabitten coat turns into freckles on his skin. Nancy and I were laughing about the fact that it is a really good thing that it is a good thing this wasn't for show because we were doing a terrible job! There were streaks and stripes everywhere from the clippers.
We got all tacked up and headed down the hill to get started as Holly and Beth were just finishing up. Beth commented on the Anhidrosis, and so we all chatted about it for a few minutes. Kirsten noted that he was breathing a little heavier than he should have been, and so she sent me back up the hill to hose down his legs and belly and neck before we got started to make sure he was as comfortable as possible from the beginning. She came up to help me and give me a few pointers, and his breathing slowed very quickly when we go the water on him, and so we returned down the hill again and he stayed cool. Kirsten recommended that we got a little ground work and then try to ride as much as possible. She said the riding will be what most helps him stay balanced and use his body as efficiently as possible, which is exactly what he needs to do because sweating is efficient. So we worked a little while in hand to remind him of his hind legs and make sure he was really shifting his weight before I climbed aboard. I checked in with Kirsten before we started and she commented that she felt that he was probably ready to be ridden without ground work right now. She said he looked so much happier with me on board than he did working on the ground. She said that he had learned to use his back end, but was struggling to keep his weight back and off the forehand. She explained that the rider acts like resistance training and gives the horse something to push back against to stay balanced, like working with dumb bells. So I get to be the Dumb Bell to help him stay balanced. We set off on the circle and then decided it was going to be better to work down in the other end where there was at least a smidge of shade so we wouldn't be in the sun the entire time. The clouds hung around a bit, which helped quite a bit, and we set to work on our circle. I concentrated on making sure that I was aware of all of my space, and thought about shifting back and drawing the front end up and back towards me. Storm was heavy, but was working very very hard trying to make changes. I was able to ask him to step up in his hind end and push when he was getting heavy, and help him make the change and find better lightness. We rode for a while and Kirsten recommended that we take a bit of a break and let him graze on the nice green grass around that end of the arena. The humidity was so high that the grass hadn't dried from all the rain the night before, so it would be helping him to stay hydrated as well. 
I was pleased to take a break because Nancy was actually working on canter transitions, and I was excited to watch. She was working so hard, and between her struggling to get the cues just right and Julius not really knowing what she wanted it was a big challenge. She finally managed a couple transitions, and while it was messy, it was a huge step forward for the two of them. Storm and I headed back into the arena, and so we all changed directions and headed off to the left. Storm really found his balance quickly, and I was very pleased with his progress. When I asked him to step up he would sometimes quicken his steps to the point that I could feel the trot coming right through the walk. I would have to ask him to slow down and not trot, but maintain the feeling and energy. It felt good and light as we were working. Nancy continued to work on her canter transitions, and was amazed at how much it improved the trot after she did so. Kirsten threw us another monkey wrench and asked us to begin changing the pattern. Both horses were very well balanced on the circle we were working on, so Kirsten suggested that Storm and I work on a figure 8 through the half the arena we were in, and Nancy worked on weaving around obstacles and tighter turns. It was a really big challenge to keep Storm balanced at first, to the point where a few times I even had to pull him to a complete stop to reset him. I was able to stop him, ask for the weight shift, and then step forward from his hind end which felt really good. Eventually he was better able to balance and maintain it on the tighter turns and shift of direction. We took several laps that felt really really good, and so when I came back around we stopped for a moment in the shade. Kirsten said she was pleased that he wasn't huffing and puffing, and I thought I could feel sweat under the edge of his saddle pad. Nancy rode over and stopped and we talked about giving the horses a break for a little while, and Kirsten asked if we had any questions or if we wanted to shift on to something else. Nancy and I were really quiet, and finally Kirsten said "I'll take that as a no..." We sort of laughed and I told her that when she asked that I was trying to figure out how it had not been 2 hours yet! 
We took the horses back up the hill and untacked and I was THRILLED to find that he was pretty solidly wet under the saddle pad and girth. It wasn't as wet as I would have liked it, but he was sweating, which is a huge positive sign. It means that his body hasn't completely shut down, and we may be able to get him through this before he gets to the point of completely not sweating ever again.
So the plan is for him to be in pretty much every day with at least one hose off per day, and I'll keep working on the clipping a little bit at a time through the week. And I'll have to keep trying to get time to ride him when it is as cool as possible and be sure to take care of him before and after so that he doesn't overheat.
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12.07.28: Horse Power