Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What NOT to do When a Big Red Advanced Horse is on Stall Rest.... A Guide for Controlling the Uncontrollable

So I hadn't really discussed it yet as public knowledge, but it's not too difficult to guess that Zara was scratched from Fairhill in October for an injury. She has a minor tendon injury that we are doing everything and anything to heal fully and get her back in action for next year. A vital step to this healing process is...... DUN Dun dun... Stall Rest and Hand Walks. Dreaded punishment to a horse that thrives on galloping and jumping out in the open. Throughout the past few months, I have gained a wealth of knowledge about the care and control of a wild trapped beast. Just in case anyone else needs to go through this, I thought I would share what I've learned so that if you must contain your wild beast, you can eliminate these mistakes from your experience.....
This list will grow as I learn more.

1. Do not walk without the chain.

 This is a fatal mistake for the wily contained beast. Even if your horse is an angel to lead most of the time, and they've never needed a chain in their life.... They do now! Fear the unchained monster, when you least expect it they will unleash their fury, and escape.

2. Master the Nose Chain, Lip Chain, and Various Wrap-Around Tactics.

Once you have made the mistake of trying to walk without the chain, you must learn which version of the chain works for well behaved horse, slightly excited horse, and wild beast. For Zara, as well behaved horse, she wears the nose chain wrapped under her chin, connected around to the same cheek as the lead is on. For excitable mare, the chain is lower on her nose. For beast of fury, lip chain with wrap under chin to opposite cheek.
          As a side note: Beware of the rage factor when you can finally control the beast - possible striking, biting and rearing.

3. Do not walk in the wind.

This mistake is especially applicable if you happen to have a barn/indoor that creaks, groans, blows, etc. Your formerly fearless cross country machine will think a small thump of something on the building is a dragon coming to take her away..... Or maybe as an excuse to fly away from your grip - either way, beware the wind!

4. In fact, do not walk in the rain... Or snow.. Or a storm of any sort.

Similar reasoning to above. The slightest noise, and the rearing, striking and bolting may commence.

5. Do not allow wind/rain/snow/storms to make noise in the barn.

If you thought your athlete was super impressive galloping out in the open, picture a similar level of impulsion and explosiveness, but in a 15 by 15 foot box. Duck and cover, preferably under the feed bucket or hay rack, if inside the stall. 

6. If you DARE tack walk, use drugs.

Or you will die.

7. Do not take your eyes off the stall door when inside.

Because super athletes are also successful Houdinis'. Apparently. You're probably better off latching the door while inside. (Beware of flying limbs at her distaste for the lack of escape opportunity.)

8. Do not take your eyes off of horse while she is on cross ties.

 Again, Houdini skills are honed with stall rest. Little-known side effect of confinement. If she doesn't know how to back out of ties, break ties, break halters, or other tactics of this nature, she probably does know how to chew through the tie. And escape.
          Side Note: Also, if you look away, she will paw, kick, spin, look behind her, and other erratic behaviors to make sure that either A, you will pay attention to her and only her, or B, she will escape.

9. Do not get distracted while wrapping legs.

They may start flying in every direction, one of which is towards your face. Surprisingly quietly.

10. Offer many rub downs, curries, brushings and head and neck scratches.

Or she will take any opportunity she finds to scratch, rub and lick you until you give in and appease her desire. Occasionally knocking you to the ground and practically rolling on you to scratch herself.

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