Chaco and Harley are improving each day, and we’ve done a couple of things that I thought needed some shouting from a rooftop. Recently, we went to the indoor arena, and we followed the rules for twenty minutes by walking only. We walked in every possible way a horse can walk. The last five minutes we strayed from the plan. Chaco wanted to open up. I could feel this ball of energy underneath me waiting for a cue. His ears turned towards me waiting for a cluck. I got tired of saying no to him, so five days ahead of schedule I gave in. We trotted, and it was pure heaven. How much I’ve missed this! Chaco has such a beautiful gait, and I wanted to see if it changed with the surgery. It did. It’s better. He covers ground so smoothly, and now it feels as if he is barely touching it; as if he skims the ground.
He then broke gait and began to canter. Normally, I’d shut that down if I didn’t ask for it, but I think he read my mind. I was thinking at the moment he broke out into the canter how much I missed that. He read my mind, so how can I correct that? I let him canter four times only going straight, and he picked up both leads flawlessly. Before he came up lame, he was reluctant to pick up the right lead, and his left lead was choppy. They both are impeccable now so much so that I can barely tell them apart. When our five minutes was up, we stopped reluctantly. We both wanted to keep going.
A couple of mornings ago Chaco was grumpier than grumpy. He is sick to death of this whole rehab program mainly because we do most of it here. The Montrose indoor arena is closed AGAIN for three weeks, so I planned on taking Harley and Chaco on a short trail ride before the storms hit. I thought I set it all up to leave easily, but I was wrong. I left the ramp down, so frost took a thick nap on it. I couldn’t stand on it without sliding backwards. I had a slide instead of a ramp. I got the ice scraper out, and I scraped off all the ice.
Putting brand new hoof boots on in 14 degree weather is not easy to say the least; there is no give. After struggling for what seemed an eternity, I got them on. I somehow hurt my shoulder a week and a half ago, and it was beyond throbbing at this point. When I put Chaco’s saddle onto his 17 hand frame, I was in tears.
I wanted to quit the pain was so bad. Who would know? I didn’t tell anyone that I was planning this, so the only person that would know would be me.
Yeah, I would know.
They needed to get out, they needed to clear their mind, and we needed a victory. I wiped my tears away, sucked up the pain, and went back to it.
I loaded Chaco and Harley into the trailer when I realized I needed to lift the ramp up. My shoulder screamed at me, “Are you freaking kidding me?” I looked at that ramp, and somehow I lifted it one handed and closed it with my right shoulder. I climbed into the truck collapsing on my steering wheel breathing slowly as the sharp pain subsided.
When we got to our destination, both of them were hotter than hot snorting away and dancing in excitement at the change in our routine. Chaco loves to trail ride, and I thought he would burst with joy. Harley mellowed quickly knowing that there was work to be done before we launched down the trail. Chaco caught on, and his head for me as I put on his headstall and adjusted his cinch.
However, when it was time to get on Chaco, he went into racehorse mode not wanting to stand still for me to climb into the saddle. He normally is so good, but his excitement overcame all of his ground manners. I can’t get on him from the ground, because he is so tall. Our normal routine is me climbing onto my trailer fender and then I hop on him. Usually, this goes smoothly. Not today. My shoulder wasn’t helping me either. I needed it to help me climb up high enough to get on him. Eight times I tried to get on with Chaco taking off right before I put my foot into the stirrup leaving me to jump down to the hard, frozen ground. After a long talk with me threatening to load them up and go home, I finally on the 9th attempt, I got on, and we were off.
Chaco was so happy he kept lifting his rear end up in the air in glee. Harley was not amused moving as far away from him as he could sure that Chaco was going to kick out. I drove Chaco forward, and he moved out nicely and at a quick pace without any spooks or any issues. When I first took Chaco out on trail rides he tripped a lot, because racehorses never have to avoid rocks or walk on an uneven surface; they live and work on perfectly groomed ground. He didn’t trip once, and Harley enjoyed looking around even though I think he wanted a more mellow pace. We walked for 45 minutes doing 2.15 miles. It was our longest walk since the surgery, and he came out of it well as did Harley. No heat and no fill. When we got back to the trailer, Harley had some sweat going on, but Chaco was as dry as could be.
The picture below shows me how the ride didn’t affect Chaco. For twelve beautiful minutes he stood with full weight on his operated leg while resting his left hind. Yes, I timed it. It’s the little things that bring tears of relief.