Since Dulce came to Reenchanted Horse Ranchita, he has gained 50 pounds. He is still 20 pounds shy of 900, and we have 120 to 130 more pounds to go to get to our goal. He eats constantly, and he cleans his bucket quickly each day four times a day.
I do think he is going to level out here this week and start gaining weight more slowly mainly because he is more active now. I’ve started turning him out in the dirt paddock to let him run and move around more, which will help his hooves heal faster. It also is good to get those muscles to move and release any tension in his body.
I may not be able to do regular groundwork with Dulce yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work together. We’ve started basic calisthenics using poles, because I want to bring his muscles along with his weight gain. This way when we get to a better weight, his muscles will be ready for more strenuous work.
We’ve also started doing some basic suppling and desensitizing work. Racehorses are notorious for having locked polls. If you watch a horse going through a turn from above during a race, you’ll see how a racehorse’s body is basically straight. The turns are so wide that their bodies don’t need to bend. Most, during training, are never introduced to suppling exercises. Chaco was as stiff as could be, and Dulce isn’t any different. I started doing gentle work on his poll, and he loved it relaxing deeply and releasing a couple of times. When you unlock the poll, you unlock the entire body.
He was funny the first time I asked him to yield his hindquarters for me. What you do is look at the hindquarters with the intention that the horse will move those hindquarters away from you. If you have a stick, you lightly tap on the side of the hindquarter increasing in strength until they move away from the pressure crossing their hindleg over their other hindleg. As soon as they move away, you stop the pressure and reward them. I didn’t have a stick, so I used the end of the lead rope. He moved off the pressure immediately from the lightest of tapping while looking at me as if saying, “Why the heck are you doing that?” I immediately loved on him to answer him, and after that he loved yielding those hindquarters for me.
Love is the answer for him. Whoever his groom was, he did an amazing job with him. It is obvious to me every day that his groom really loved and respected him. I think this is why Dulce is so trusting of me. I feel like we’re weaving a beautiful piece of art with beautiful yarns and threads.
What I’ve found out from Dulce so far is this: He is ridiculously smart. When I introduce him to new things, he thinks it through and gives it his all. He leads really well never trying to get in front of me. He has two gears: walking and running. So far not much in between, and before he takes off at a run, he makes a sound that goes, “Weeeeeeee!” If I hear him make that sound in the saddle, I will be grabbing onto some mane, because it will be rodeo time. He loves to be loved on, and he is patient with me as I doctor his hooves. Even though I wish we could do more, I’m relishing this right now. We are building a strong foundation slowly.
There are times I wonder if I’m in over my head with Dulce and Chaco. I worry about Chaco’s leg all the time, and everyone seems to doubt that I will get weight on Dulce. For some reason I never worried about putting weight on him until I heard everyone’s doubts. I’m worried about his hooves; especially his right hoof because the hoof wall is so disconnected from the laminae behind it. If I whispered into the area between the two, I know I’d hear an echo. Right now a huge bulge is dropping down from his coronet that reminds me of a beer belly hanging over way too tight jeans. It will grow out I keep reminding myself, Heather keeps reminding me, but the challenge is keeping everything together until it does.
Then I go outside, and Chaco walks up to me giving me his kisses and rubbing his neck on my hip for a hug. I go over to see Dulce, and he lets me hold his head in my arms, and I find my strength again. That’s about when Harley comes up for me to scratch his butt once again. I wouldn’t have any of this any other way. I love them so much, and I will do whatever I can to keep them healthy and happy.