09.08.29: Just Play

Truth be told, I haven't done a lot with Storm lately. The last several rides have left me feeling like we've been going backwards. Last weekend I did have a lesson with Kirsten, however due to rain I didn't get to ride. So instead we discussed how things had been going, and got to talk over several things, which was quite helpful. We pulled out the pads that I use under my saddle, and discussed the various combination of padding that I should use in response to the different sweat patterns and dry spots. It was good to go over the combination and where each of the pads should go in response to the various sweat patterns and dry spots that can appear.
When we finished that I happened to see the leg wraps that she gave me at the last lesson and realized that we had never fully gone over how to use them and if I should be using them. Since Storm was wet and out in the run in shed hiding from the rain, we borrowed Julius as the model to go over wrapping legs. Kirsten had Nancy lead Julius down the barn aisle so that we could watch his hind legs and the movement when they impacted the ground. I noticed that he had a tendency to drag his left toe, which was the leg that he had surgery on a few years ago. The instability in his hind legs was also visible, with motion coming down his leg and showing visibly in his fetlocks. Because the suspensory ligament runs from the stifle, down to the hock, and behind the fetlock and connects to the hoof, it handles the major amount of force in the leg. There was more wiggling in his left leg in addition to the toe dragging. Kirsten tied up his tail in a knot to get it out of the way, and began wrapping his leg. He wasn't too pleased about that, and it took a bit of convincing to get him to stand on it properly so that the wrap would go on tight. Kirsten thoroughly explained how and why she wraps the way that she does, starting just below the hock joint, and wrapping the first layer so that it is tucked under the wrap and then wrapping evenly downward, pulling only from the front so that the ligaments down the back of the leg are not wrapped too tightly. When she gets to the fetlock joint, she goes under the joint, creating a bit of a sling, and pulling it tightly around the joint itself. The next layer wraps just above the joint to smooth over the gap in the wrap, and then another wrap goes in between the two covering half the joint and then the wrap goes up again. Kirsten wrapped Julius up so that we could see how it was done, and then Nancy led him down the barn aisle again so that we could see the change. The first few steps he took were like a cat with tape on its paws, huge steps with his back legs until he finally settled in and began walking normally. There was a distinct improvement in the amount of extraneous movement in his legs. He was stepping more solidly, and his footfalls were softer and more even sounding. After watching him walk a few times, Kirsten removed the leg wraps and then went over the process of wrapping again more slowly, and then let me wrap the other leg.
We pretty much wrapped it up after that, and headed into the house for dinner and sangria.
The week following the lesson didn't give me the right combination of time and weather to really get a whole lot done. We did managed to spend a bit of time grooming Storm, and finally got to wrap his legs one evening. He did the same cat with tape on the paws thing, but settled into walking normally after a few steps. It didn't seem like there had been a huge improvement in his steps, but I am also not certain that I put them on quite tight enough. It will take some experiementation to figure out the right combination of wraps and tension to create the best leg wrap. Nancy also let me know that using the polo wraps traps a lot more heat in their leg from the layers of fleece. She showed me how to use the lineament to help cool their legs down.
Today was the play day for the boarders and friends of GEC. We had a great time playing with the horses and all the toys in the arena. We had a decent turnout of about 8 horses for the play day portion, with a few more people wandering in later. Storm and I explored the mattress, and finally I managed to get all four of his feet onto it. That's not small challenge for a king sized horse standing on a tiny mattress. We'll have to experiment more with working through those challenges to try to get him to learn to put all of his feet up onto something. We played with the noodle curtain, and on the actual pedestal, which he puts his front feet up on easily now. I gave him some good scratches while his belly was more easily reachable.
Wynn came down and we chatted for a bit, and I jokingly said that I was going to learn to vault onto him, and she asked if she could try. She actually made it all the way up onto his back in the first try. It wasn't pretty, but she made it. I made several attempts, but wasn't quite able to get up high enough to get over his ribs. Maybe eventually...
It was good to wrap up the evening with a cookout, by then I was quite ready to eat! Several more people showed up so we had quite a crowd, and more food than we knew what to do with!
Clean up took no time with the whole group lending a hand, and were lucky as more rain has come in again. I am just hoping that the weather holds so that its not so sloppy in the morning that maybe I can get a ride in while its still (hopefully) cool. We shall see...

Next Page: 09.08.30: Ride OUT
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