Monday, May 14, 2012

living with seniors: tight hips and ticks (and today a great ride)

Keil Bay and I got back into a morning ride routine last week and on Friday I was dealing with a tight left hip that he helped me straighten out by the end of our ride. It was enlightening to feel how his walk opened up and extended as my hip muscles began to release.

The start of the ride though was not a pretty sight - I had put my old stirrup leathers on thinking (correctly) that the length of the new ones would be too long for my tight hips. Turned out even the old ones needed shortening and my left hip was so tight I was nervous about adjusting from the saddle. Nor did I want to dismount so I begged dear daughter to get off Cody and come to my rescue. She did, and as the ride proceeded with shorter stirrups, the motion in the walk slowly worked the tension out of my lower body.

Thank you, Keil Bay!  (and dear daughter!)

On Saturday as I went into Keil's stall to get him out for grooming, he turned his rear to me. I don't remember him ever doing that, and although it was not a mean-spirited turning away, it did seem to say very clearly "no."

I walked to the door of his stall and waited to see if he would come join me. He didn't, but when I turned to look at him again, he had turned his head and neck to me and I went to meet him. He put his head in the halter, and we went into the barn aisle where he immediately seemed to stretch his hind legs out as though he needed to go to the bathroom. I groomed for a few minutes and watched him and he seemed a little antsy - so I put him back in the stall to see if he needed to go. He'd eaten half his breakfast - I'd reserved the other half for after our ride - and often he does go either right before or right after - but this time he didn't. I waited and did a few tack room chores and when he didn't use the bathroom I brought him back out again.

He stood more normally but there still seemed to be something wrong. I continued grooming and then found the culprit - a tick dug in deep way up in his groin. He stretched his legs out so I could remove the tick. Aha - that's what that was about!

I decided though that there was still something not quite right and I wanted to let him know that I was not only noticing but listening to what he was saying to me. After a thorough grooming and a very complete tick check, we went in the arena on halter and lead line and just walked together.

I expected sluggishness but Keil Bay was alert and attuned to my movement. We walked and walked and turned and walked some more. He was overtracking immediately, which was good. At one point I walked with very big steps and he offered a nice collected trot, so we alternated some walking and big trotting and he was great. No head bobbing, and a nice even stride.

We backed, we did turns on the forehand and haunches, and we did some poll flexions and neck stretches. All looked good.

I spent a lot of time just listening to his footfalls beside me. The rhythm was good, everything sounded balanced and rhythmic.

I'm not sure what the message in the stall was about - except that it was later in the morning than I had meant to ride, and the sun was fully in the arena, and I do know that Keil prefers a much earlier ride time - so perhaps he was stating his displeasure in my taking too long to get to the barn.

However - my body got a work-out as we walked and trotted, I was able to ensure that he was moving normally, and to be honest, it was nice to be "with" him with his eye just beside mine, and his head at my shoulder. Our connection was strong and maybe that's exactly what we needed.

This morning, the sun is out and it's raining at the same time. My grandma used to say that meant the devil was having a fight with his wife. I'm taking it to mean the weather is trying to appease me - we had a big rain last night and I really want things to dry out a bit before we get more!

PM addendum: I went out to get Keil Bay today for a ride and was very curious as to what he might say to me. He turned his head, then literally backed himself across the barnyard to put his head in the halter.

I put my stirrups up one notch and our ride went very well. He was alert and moving in big beautiful strides right from the start. We had some torquing at one specific corner that I figured out was me doing a funky thing with my shoulder. Later today at the chiropractor I discovered my sacrum was rotated, which I suspected. No wonder Keil Bay has not wanted to carry me around. Talk about crooked!

Anyway, this morning we did get some very nice trot work in and rode on through some rainfall. The trotting felt great to my back and my hips, and by the end of the ride my legs had stretched out nicely.
Keil Bay was happy as could be and so proud and nonchalant about his work. Love this horse, as if anyone doesn't know that by now!


Greta said...

I'm going to start writing now. Reading about Kiel Bay and you was warm and relaxing.

billie said...

So glad, Greta! Hope you had a good writing day!!

Grey Horse Matters said...

I love how you read your horses and they give you feedback. Who would have thought a tick would put him off his game, but he let you know something was bothering him.

Good to hear you got your crookedness taken care of and had a nice ride on the big bay. This really shows how you and he work together to fix each other.

billie said...

I had a tick in a similar spot recently and I think I'm sympathetic right now to how irritating they are, even after you remove them. Yuck!!

As usual the message from these horses and donkeys here are always clear and pretty direct, but it often takes me a few tries to get their messages.

Since this is the second tick in the same delicate spot on Keil Bay, I'm incorporating a check in that area into my daily routine for him. We haven't actually had a terrible tick season thus far, but the ones we HAVE had seem determined to dig into delicate places.

Someone told me recently that the tea tree based sheath cleaner, ExCalibur, also works really well to repel and to kill attached ticks. I don't bathe these guys and girl that often, but the couple of times I tried this with Keil and Cody it did seem to help.

A, enjoy your time off from blogging. I can certainly relate to the horde of chores and also fun things there are to do in this spring season!

Matthew said...

He had one on his forehead the other day too.

Fortunately it had just barely attached.


billie said...

Glad you found it and got it off for him!