A month ago the vet declared Ezhno 80% sound and left me with strict instructions to keep up the handwalking-only routine. We spent all of March walking in repetitive circles around the barn for ~20 minutes every couple of days…
Ezhno liked walking around the aisles. Something about being able to see all of the horses and not having enough space to really move away from me cut down on his naughtiness so that he behaved like a proper (if a bit pushy) gentleman—unlike in the arena where he had a habit of pulling a nasty rear-leap-kick-at-his-handler move.
On top of the handwalking, Ezhno’s also been getting an almost literal boatload of food. We’re talking two flakes for breakfast, three flakes for lunch (in a hay net), and another three flakes for dinner. With ~16 flakes a bale, that’s half a bale a day. Ezhno’s on a serious bulk (gimme them calories), which is good because he was looking a bit ribby before he injured himself.
Now I’m determined to make my horse a b e e f c a k e.
ANYWAYS. As the weeks wore on it became pretty clear that Ezhno’s poor arena behavior was in need of a reckoning, since the vet had already given me the clear to use corporal punishment on my brutish beast of a horse. So, with an end to the stall rest in sight, Tuesday I geared up with my helmet, a dressage whip, and a showmanship chain, and headed into the arena with a surly Ezhno in tow.
Ezhno was, as always, a little rude on the ground—he’s always been a pushy horse that likes to test his boundaries by walking ahead of you or trying to bowl you over when you stop—but the moment I asked him to trot in hand he flipped. He didn’t get all the way through his usual fit, though…
I shanked the hell out of him with the showmanship chain until he was backing politely away from me. Then he tried it again and the dressage whip came into play… then he trotted correctly but still tried to push me around so I flicked him on the chest while he was trotting… then he struck out at me with his front legs and I laid into him with the dressage whip again…
At some point he smashed into my helmet hard enough that I felt the foam at the very front part of my brim squish.
It was a serious battle, but in the end he trotted nicely (albeit with an extremely pissed off look on his face, LOL) and so I gave him lots of praise and let him go back to his stall to munch on his hay and sulk. I’m happy to say that when I took him out again later in the week he trotted perfectly the first time—problem solved! 🙂
So, after three months of stall rest and one major attitude adjustment, when lunch time rolled around on Monday I stepped away from Spring Horse Camp and finally had my first ride back on my handsome monster.
It was absolutely fantastic.
Unsurprisingly Ezhno was a spazz tacking up and walking (read leaping) into the arena. I hand walked him a lap before I got on (and backed him up a few times when he tried to charge past me), but despite having the chance to check things out beforehand he still stuck his head straight into the air when I mounted. His eyes were completely bugged out, like he couldn’t believe we were finally going for a ride, and he more wiggled than walked away from the mounting block.
In true Ezhno form he was excited for the first five minutes and then the novelty wore off and he was back to his lazy/balky ways. He threw a bit of a hissy fit when I made him go forward anyways, which is standard fare for him (yay, I missed mad swishy tail horse!). He’s exactly the same horse I bought back in September, which is a huge relief.
Next time I think I’ll go in armed with a pair of spurs. 🙂
We’ve been cleared to walk for fifteen minutes at a time for the rest of the week, then I’ll need to check in with the vet from there to see what the next step is. My guess is that we’ll be walk only for a good month or so, then walk/trot only for a few months after that (just to be on the safe side).