Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Just a little bite of grass...

By Sunday, I knew Argus needed some token bit of turnout. We chopped down an alleyway turnout using pipe panels, leaving a 16 x 45 paddock with firm footing and a bit of grass. It was twice the length of his current paddock, both enclosures seeming almost palatial compared to how Argus has spent the last decade.

New buddies Half Pint and Ridge stood ready in adjoining paddocks, primed with armloads of hay along the fence line. Their job, as I explained it to them, was to eat quietly and encourage Argus to keep his head on during his maiden turnout session.

I led Argus in, and casually unclipped his lead rope. He shook nervously and walked around, brown eyes wide and concerned. He eyes his friends all around him, and decided to explore.

The whole thing lasted about 45 minutes, me tearing up intermittently. Argus walked, mostly, and trotted here and there. He took a few steps of canter, but his body just could not cooperate. His whole hind end slid out from under him, and he ended up sitting, momentarily, like a dog.

Freedom!! You could almost hear him thinking this. He is a sensible horse, and did not tear around. He knew he could not handle much.

A hearty roll, in which he flipped from one side to the other (a horse chiropractor once told me this was a good thing), then a few bites of grass. Then back to his stall & paddock, where he was tired and relaxed.

MONDAY I realize for sure that this does not come without a price. I knew Argus would be sore, but he walked post-legged and stiff. Whole Body Sore kind of sore. Monday morning, I presented Argus with his hay and tub of feed (he looks at me with amazement when I feed him, as if he just cannot believe I have come again). He actually dove right in! Then Argus let me curry his entire body with a soft rubber curry. I curried nearly every square inch of him. He closed his eyes and licked his lips and took huge, deep sighs. I didn't even have the lead rope on him. I hugged him while he slept.

We took a walk later that day. Argus' leading skills leave much to be desired, but he is learning quickly. Mostly I am teaching him that ON TOP of me is not the place to go when you are scared!! Argus hurts all over from that little bit of play on Sunday.

TODAY we repeated the turnout. Argus is sensible, and walks around his turnout paddock calmly. Half Pint stands watch next door. They share breakfast along the fence. At some point, I get the feeling that Argus would like for me to find the rubber curry, so I do. Once again, he stands for a long time while I curry his whole body. After a few hours and a bit of trot and canter, I return Argus to the barn, where he can rest up for his next adventure ---- hand walking this afternoon.

Argus has gained weight. He eats well, but is not a hearty eater yet. He is making great progress!! Tomorrow he gets a visit from his friend, Dr. Miller.

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