I've been home less than five days, but I've got so much to write about.
We were met with a lovely surprise party, arranged by our daughters. My two then excused themselves halfway through the evening (gigs on in town that they just couldn't miss). The downside of this was that the following morning, I had to do all of the post-partying clean-up, in addition to getting stuck into the mountain of washing I had brought home. Granny helped, of course, but she was up a good deal later than me, so I had a lot of it done by then!
A day and a half later, the washing mountain was under control. The tumble dryer was whining ominously and the washing machine was full of horse and dog hair, but at least I had clean clothes again. I had even managed to get a small bit of weeding done in the garden, so I was well pleased!
Molly, my sweet old Bearded Collie, then got a dose of the runs. I settled into a routine of wash the floor... take the dogs out...oh crap she's had another accident...(repeat). Poor Molly has been unwell on and off for the last few weeks, but Granny had just about got her stabilised with a combination of 24 hours fasting, followed by feeding rice and chicken little and often, and then gradually re-introducing her normal food.
So we fasted her for 24 hours and fed her rice after that, a small feed in the morning, (no adverse effects) followed by a slightly larger amount later in the day (major explosion).
I knew a vet visit was necessary, so first thing on Monday morning I rang my vet's locum - my vet got married last weekend, so I figured he's probably busy!
An appointment was arranged for later that day, and I moved on to the next job, moving Flurry and Gigi, our Fab trekking horses, out of my place and down to Anne's where they'll have a few weeks well-deserved holiday. They loaded like Pros, and we rattled our way along the 12 miles to Anne's house, where we turned them out. The grass is a bit longer than is ideal, but hopefully it's not too full of sugars - the weather has been so cold here that even though the grass is long, it shouldn't be too lush.
Next job, take Molly to the vet. Cinnamon came along too, her rabies booster was due, and we did her first, all very straightforward, and she only cried a little!
It looks like Molly has pancreatitis as well as liver issues. She's staying in for a couple of days while they run more blood tests and see how she responds to different feeds and medication. Deirdre, the vet, is very positive about getting to the bottom of it and is confident that she'll be able to treat it. She's also hoping that the tests results will show that the liver function is not too badly impaired, which would mean that Molly can take NSAIDS for her wobbly hind legs.
I'm under no illusions here, I know Molly will not be with us for long, but we're hoping that we'll be able to keep her more comfortable for the time she has left.
Weeded some more, washed some more clothes, skipped out the paddock a bit. My wrist is a bit achey with these new tasks it's being asked to perform. Not too happy about that! It had better strengthen up if it know what's good for it!
Yesterday evening, it was time to bring the three other horses home. We brought Pepper and Lilly up first. Pepper was excited, but behaving himself like the elderly gentleman he is, and Lilly - well she was excited, and she's just a baby, really, so the LSH was having fun hanging onto her. With perfect bad timing, one of the neighbours was having oil delivered, so the driveway was partially blocked with a humming, grumbling monster - I mean oil tanker. Pepper did his elderly-pony-spook-thing, peering at it anxiously as we passed and swinging his butt away from it, but poor Lilly nearly had a complete meltdown - she's had a very sheltered upbringing!
Next we brought Aero up. He's looking super - a bit fat, but he's lost the anxious look in his eye, and he strolled confidently past the oil tanker, even when the driver popped out from behind it. We turned him out with the other two, and watched as he gave a very impressive demonstration of JoinUp. Lilly had the cheek to approach him confidently, so he "sent her away" for about five minutes, running her all over the paddock. She was giving major submissive signals in the end, head down, ears dropped, licking and chewing. Aero stopped chasing her, and stood, also with his head down, sniffing grass and droppings. Eventually, he moved off, away from the others, who followed submissively at a distance.
This morning, when I went out, all three of them were snoozing contentedly together. I guess peace will reign once there is no doubt who the King is!
It was great to see Aero behaving like this again. When he came back from his loan home last year, he was so depressed that he didn't integrate with the herd at all - he stayed away from them, in a corner by himself the whole time. Now he has his cheeky look back again and hopefully is ready to get back to work - I guess he really needed the break.
Today was the start of his working life with me! I brought him in with no agenda whatsoever, other than a good brushing and a little free work in the arena. I was appalled with the state of his hooves - he has miniscule frogs, and none of them are making contact with the ground. Compared with Flurry's big frogs and wide heels, they look absolutely dreadful. I guess that's the difference between being kept on soft ground or on hard ground - Aero's been in a soft, muddy field all the time, so of course in that sort of ground his frogs don't need to develop - they'll be getting some sort of pressure all the time from the soft going. It's probably also due to lack of exercise - I'm sure he spent most of the winter just standing in a corner, munching hay.
He's been wearing a heavy rug up to now, which unfortunately has rubbed his withers raw, and he seemed to have cracked heels, so I gave withers and heels a wash with good old Betadine scrub. Turned out his heels were fine, it was little bits of mud, not scabs that I had seen, so that was good news. His withers is pretty sore, though, and he let me know. I ended up slathering it with Green Gunk, hoping it'll soften it up a bit more and help it heal.
I took him into the arena and watched him walk and trot a little. He's looking good, there's a nice bounce in his trot (that'll be fun NOT!) and he was very obedient, as always. After that I decided to mess about and try Renegade boots on him.... he seems to be a size 2 all round. Then I played about with tack - he's so fat that I reckoned Flurry's saddle would fit him at the moment, which indeed it does. I went to put his bridle on, he put his head down and opened his mouth for the bit - this was a far cry from the You're-Going-to-have-to-Prise-my-Mouth-Open-if-you-want-to-get-that-Bit-in-it Horse we left behind in December!
So I thought, what the heck, he's happy to be ridden, got my helmet and climbed aboard! We walked a short distance down the road - he was tense but perfectly behaved. My neighbour/friend Sharon spotted us passing by and came out for a chat, which was the best thing that could have happened. We nattered away for about ten minutes, Aero got to relax completely and was happy to stroll back home at the buckle end of the reins. We finished up with five minutes in the arena and I was absolutely delighted to find that he's once again seeking the contact and actually chewing the bit - last time I rode him, he was ducking behind the contact and holding the bit rigid the whole time, with his mouth slightly open.
I just hope I can help him stay like this. I'm convinced his issues come from his back - he is a very odd shape, with a high, but not narrow, withers, so that every saddle tilts slightly to the back on him. It's also really hard to find rugs that fit him, too, he has huge shoulders which get rubbed in a rug that fits right everywhere else, and if you go a size up to accommodate the shoulders, you end up with a rug that slips and rubs his withers.
My plan is to keep working with no agenda for a while, hack as much as we can and try to keep all arena work enjoyable and low-pressure. Maybe I'll manage to do a dressage competition with him before we leave in October and maybe I won't - time will tell.