Do you remember the six-word memoir meme? SMITH Magazine asked people to submit their life stories in six words, no more, no less, and the idea spread like melted butter on cinnamon toast. I wrote mine years ago and it still applies: No time to write it shorter.
That’s pretty much the summary of this blog, too. I have no time to craft concise, evocative prose. Lately I haven’t even had time to blabble on and on and on and on and on, which I regret, as I want to remember everything I am experiencing with Rock and with Salsa, and I know I won’t, because my brain is stuffed too full of song lyrics to allow any further storage.
Rocky has had some soreness with his physical rehabilitation, aching in this or that as he regains his body’s fitness, but he has still improved so much. I’m no longer responding with stall rest; the confinement obviously doesn’t produce longer term soundness, so what about trying more movement instead of less? He certainly wants to move. He’s in a large pen now and paces and walks and tosses his mane around and looks like he’s having a great time.
And I’ve been riding him. Bareback in a halter a few times, but now I’ve rediscovered the security and comfort of a bareback pad on top of a gel saddle blanket, so I’m sticking with that (no pun intended). He is walking out nicely and ears forward and striding along for all the world like he wants to go somewhere, even if it’s “just” following the rail in the arena. The difference between tonight (just as a f’r’instance) and pre-surgery is so monumental, I almost wish I’d gone for the surgery sooner. Although not really, because I wouldn’t have had the savvy to handle the unexpectedly adverse reaction to the anesthesia, and of course I had to try all other options first.
I have more leadership and fluidity when I ride now, and will continue to practice with bareback pad and gel blanket, in pursuit of harmony. My focus has improved too. Rocky’s own confidence has soared with all the months of walking around the ranch for physical therapy, and then eventually being allowed loose on the ranch for emotional fitness. I can let him out several times a week now and he has poked his nose (and sometimes the rest of him) into all kinds of tight spaces and onto formerly scary objects.
Our bond has grown so strong that he not only makes camel faces when I scratch him, he shows me exactly where he itches, and will even moan and grunt when I dig in deep! I’ve started reserving most scratching for when I’m on his back — how’s that for incentive to stand still for mounting and be calm no matter how I contort my body up there? And for me, trusting him enough and relaxing my own body so that I can lean back and scratch the dock of his tail, that’s been good too.
I know he is enjoying the riding, because he swings his haunches toward the fence (or truck tailgate, or tree trunk, etc.) when I climb up to get on him. He has not resisted being led to any sort of mounting assistance device or to having his rider get a leg up from someone else. He has given Jan and Yoli several rides as well, and I can even see him taking care of Yoli who has only had four horseback rides in her life, all of them on Rocky.
He also now leaves his food or horse buddies and trots to the gate to meet me, often nickering or whinnying, and strains his nose out to touch me as soon as I get within reach. He sticks to me at liberty, sometimes even when he’s out free on the ranch, and he looks to me now when he gets nervous about something. Recently I have had to lead him around the ranch in the dark. He is blind at night and yet he has trusted me, putting his nose on my hand if the (very light) pressure I keep on the halter to “hold his hand” isn’t enough.
These are wondrous moments.
Tonight he went through the car wash — a shower curtain sliced into six panels, hanging from a PVC frame — in a completely nonchalant manner while playing on-line. So later, freestyle, I rode him through it, in both directions. No problem, not even when we misjudged our sideways clearance and almost knocked it over.
Salsa is progressing too. He watches intently to see what he is supposed to do, and if he gets confused, he runs over and gets up on the pedestal with all four feet and gives the cutest look, like, “see, is this it?” He is so ready and willing to learn, and now that Jan is on summer break, they are going to go through the new Level 1 pack and also take some lessons with Erin.
We are all enjoying the spring weather. We had a Sunday afternoon Scrabble picnic and let Rocky and Salsa out, only to find that Janet was on the ranch working in the garden and had let her two, Paco and Parker, free as well. Erin had let Easy out, and of course both donkeys — Whiskey and Bodey — patrol the ranch during the day, only returning to their pen at bedtime.
I dreamed this, as a child. I’m not sure that I’m not still dreaming it now.
You two look great! I love the photos (especially the ladder…LOL). -M
Great pictures, sounds like your giving Rocky just what he needs. Keep it up.
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Thanks! It’s been so much fun, and seeing how he is now that he’s not in physical pain has been a real learning experience in reading horses, too. My Horsenality report says that Rocky doesn’t stop from disobedience, he stops from unconfidence; and of course when it hurts to be ridden or to walk down hills, that would make one unconfident. I knew this was true but of course there’s knowing and there’s feeling.
I’ve seen now that when he fidgeted or even swung his butt away from the fence, it wasn’t that he doesn’t like being ridden , it’s that it hurt him. Now he’s practically running into the fence, he moves his hindquarters toward it so fast. (I guess it would be savvy of me to use that momentum to teach sideways toward!)
As for the stepladder, it’s not the world’s safest mounting block, but we had brought it out so Jan could stand up higher to take pictures and thus we could try to avoid the “pinhead with huge jowls/boobs/shoulders” optical illusion that results when the camera is below the rider and pointing up at their face. (Yes, I’m that vain. LOL)
I’m so happy to read your update. Your bond with Rocky has improved SO much! I’m going to implement your tip of reserving the best scratches for when I’m mounted. 🙂 Please keep posting when you get the chance!