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Part 3 - The road before us, as I see it now.
Craig has talked to me before about my horse, obviously. But last time I had a big ol' crisis he gave it a lot of thought and has this epiphany. This time, be must have known my breakdown was coming, because he approached it not with anger or frustration, but with compassion and understanding.
He sat down with me on the couch where I was moping and weeping and said "I know you're hurting, and I'm really sorry that Kaswyn isn't back where you want him to be. But try and think of it this way. I'm 42, and most days something on me hurts. You're 42 and I know you hurt every day. Kaswyn is middle aged, just like we are. I'll bet he hurts every day too, but you don't know that it's from his leg or his injury or whatever. He might just hurt from being old, like we are.
"Our aches and pains don't keep us from doing the things we want to do. You hurt, and you ride. He wants to be ridden, so on the days you think he hurts, just walk him around and put him away. On his good days, do whatever you want. Hurting doesn't mean it's over."
Of course, I cried some more, but less from thinking about my horse but more from the warm fuzzies I got from Craig. I composed myself, went out to the barn, and made sure I paid attention to Kaswyn's non-verbal signals.
He whinnied to me three times as I was getting his halter, and played the "I'm going to grab the halter in my mouth so you can't get it on!" game. Took me three tries to get it on his face. That's always a good sign. When he hurts he just stands there like a statue when I halter him. I'm the only one he plays that halter game with, by the way. Stinker.
When I groomed him he was trying to bite the crossties, grabbing my shirt, whacking me with his tail. Again, all good signs. When he hurts he's really rather stoic and quiet. So I tacked him up and rode him. I did about ten minutes of the biomechanical workout stuff, but then since he was feeling good I did some easy upper level stuff that he likes. One line of leg yield at the trot, each way. One line each direction of trot and canter half passes. And one line of flying changes, every third stride (every one was prompt, clean, and through).
Then we took a walk around the property outside. I untacked him, did his stretching exercises, and gave him one gram of bute (plus a few pony cookies). Then he had the next day off. The day after that I went to ride him he was also feeling good so we repeated the whole thing.
Last night I had another session with the biomechanical lady. She said that he's the most sound that she's ever seen him, and that his back is really starting to muscle up and he's getting his topline back. This is all good news to me. I'm not going to ride him in a training ride today, but I want to take him on another walk around the property and give him an easy day. We'll go bareback in a halter and just enjoy each other.
So the plan is this. Observe his mood, and ride accordingly. If he gives me the green light, ride him, do some training, have a little fun at the end (without overly taxing him), stretch him, love him, give him one gram of bute, and put him away. Then give him the next day off, no bute, but turnout time with his buddy. This plan might eventually get us back into real training, but if not I think I might be okay with that. If he feels bad, walk him, groom him, stretch him, love him, and put him away. Tomorrow might be a better day.