Sunday, December 16, 2007

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Argus' familiar turnout was extended yesterday. It seemed like it was time to do it. He was comfortable and lazy in the smaller one.

The first time I put him out, last weekend, 16x45 seemed a vast prairie of room to run. I was nervous that he'd go nuts. Argus handled it well, continued to handle it well throughout the week. By Friday, it was starting to feel small.

My son and I move the pipe panels chopping down our alleyway turnout. We enlarge Argus' run to 16x90 ---- the length of our arena. Argus goes out thoughtfully, careful, sniffing and shaking and never eating grass (he seems very hesitant to graze, even to the point where he seems totally disinterested in grass; in light of the discovery about his incisors being so rotten, I am now wondering if grazing is painful for him).

He does not go nuts, but he is very anxious about the bigger area, and anxiety plus a winter coat = bone-chilling sweat. And bone-chilling sweat on a horse you cannot blanket (and who will not stand inside during a rain storm) could be the kiss of death. I am nervous, again. Argus sensibly tries his legs, producing some beautiful strides of trot and 8 or 9 tentative canter strides, despite the sad arthritis in his knees. He is balanced and athletic. What an incredible sporthorse he might have been --- uphill build, long legs, and floating gaits.

It goes reasonably well, but the size of the paddock made Argus nervous. He just could not handle all the freedom. So today we will move panels and shrink it back down to 16x45, something he is very comfortable with.

There is no roadmap for this process. Argus is almost phobic, which presents challenges. For example, turnout in the arena will be challenging since Argus will spook at the sound of his feet on the crunchy footing. He has never felt that before. But with a huge rain storm coming, and Argus beloved tiny turnout soon to be off limits, the all-weather arena will soon be our only option. THAT should be an adventure!

Both Argus and I wish he could go out in the pasture, with all the other geldings. But I'm afraid he might run and pace incessantly, and I could not catch him. That will come with time.

Baby steps.....Argus led very nicely for 30 feet!! He has learned "whoa" and is respecting my space better. He is VERY intelligent and sensitive.

He had a good 2 hours in turnout, all in all. He got sweaty and rolled, and now he looks dirty again. But a different kind of dirty, good dirty!! Sheesh!! All my hard work...but so satisfying to see him having these experiences. At 10pm, when I groomed him (again) to try to loosen up all the sweaty hair, I thought that despite my worries about the sweat making him cold and clammy, that it was good for him to actually sweat, cleansing him, in a way, from the inside out. Like taking off his mane, it was another cathartic experience.

One more thing: a tiny victory, but significant.

Last night, when I fed the horses, I was standing in the tack/grain room, making the various dinners. I felt a pair of eyes on me.

Argus, who can see the "kitchen" from his stall, was standing, alert, looking at me with merry bright eyes and an air of expectation. This is the same horse who, a week ago, turned down grain or any sort of processed horse food as if it were rocks. He was excited! I gave him his tub, in the stall. With great gusto, he dug in to eat it, just like any other horse.

1 comment:

Bridget Pilloud said...

What a brave boy that Argus is! You've made progress in such a short time.