When I was in my formative years, I was always injuring myself. There was rarely a question about how I did it – I fell in the gravel driveway and tore up my knees, I jumped off the handlebars of my friend’s bike and scraped my hands, elbows and knees, I was walking and simply tripped and twisted my ankle. Poetry in motion. And if there was a parental question about how I obtained my injury, I would always tell the truth no matter how embarrassing it might be…My brother on the other hand, he was notorious for his bold-faced lies. How did you slice open your hand? “The T V did it.” (My father did not have to investigate long before he found the pocketknife and bloody Lincoln Log.) How did you tear your brand new sneaker? “The sweatpants did it.” (He is taking the truth about that one to his grave.)
Ike falls somewhere in the middle. Sadly, the big fellow can also be a bit of a klutz. (Ssshhh, I can hear some of you noting that he is just like his mother.) And while he may not exactly lie about how he injured himself, he is also not always forthcoming with how the injury occurred. I swear that he shrugs his shoulders when asked what happened to cause the loss of hair/blood/lameness/odd lump. Sometimes I can tell that the injury was inflicted by his brother. Other times I can locate the offending bug bite that started the itching and severe loss of mane. Last weekend I watched him misjudge how far away from the fence he was and bang his head on the fence post. I feared he’d hit his eye, but thankfully upon removal of the fly mask, he’d only scraped some hide off his face right above his eye. Most times though, I have no idea what caused the injury and all I can do is triage the damage and pray that we have some hair growth before the next dressage show.
And the cause Ike’s lameness a few weeks ago will forever remain a mystery. We had a stellar lesson one day, a solid training ride the next, and emerged the next morning clearly limping. What the?! We had been working hard to strengthen our countercanter and develop a more powerful collected trot. I had been doing my best to teach him to reach more in his medium trot while trying to maintain my position in the saddle. He went from 100% sound to the walking wounded overnight. You could see him limping even at the walk and the problem was definitely the left front. No obvious signs of a problem; he only flinched when you touched the bulb of the hoof. My best guess is that he laid down to sleep and then whacked himself with one of the hinds as he flailed about to get up. There were no televisions nor any sweatpants to take the blame.
We were lucky and after a week off from work, Ike came back completely sound. Amazingly he did not seem to lose any of his fitness or stamina from the down time. Wish I could say the same for me – a week out of the saddle always leaves me a bit rusty and slow to react with the necessary aids. We now work with polo wraps, pastern wraps, and bell boots to protect his legs and hooves. I’m still debating the merits of bubble wrap for turnout. Keep your fingers crossed that we make it through the second half of our show season!