I think I am finally free of the nebulous virus that’s been sapping my strength. Mr Sparrowgrass and most of my office have also experienced it and it’s manifested in such various ways* that it’s taken us all by surprise and it’s hard to be sure if it’s really gone, but I am feeling better and that can’t be bad!
Oh sorry, you wanted to hear how D is? Well thanks to all of you who kept your fingers crossed for us, we saw the physio this afternoon. Hurray! Even better, she was running late and I got out of work early so I was able to be there during his appointment, which I though might not be possible. (It also saved me £5 because staff didn’t have to trot him up or hold his lead rope while he was treated.)
I even had time for a quick groom before she got there. I didn’t expect to have to do too much as I had bathed him the previous day. However, his back legs were gunky on the inside again. His “gentlemen’s area” seems to be slightly swollen which I think is a mixture of fly bites and the heat, and I think as a result we have an increased gunk production compared to normal. I will keep an eye on it and give it a rinse regularly but I’d be interested to hear from anyone experienced in the ways of geldings as to whether this is usual in periods of extended hot weather or not. It doesn’t make me think “infection” as it is normal gunk, just more of it. Maybe if there is irritation it might make sense for the body to produce more natural lubrication?
So I quickly scrubbed off what I could and apologised to the physio for that which remained on his legs!
We began by walking and trotting up. D is not a fan of trotting in-hand, but as he’s not been ridden he was full of energy and quite cooperative. The physio did not comment on his movement, which I imagine meant she agreed with staff that there was nothing you could spot. We headed in for the massage. Here his energy was less useful, but he is not a troublesome horse, so while he needed reminding to stand nicely, reminders were all that was needed. He did flinch from her attentions more than in previous visits, but we knew he was sore and she was unlocking the muscles. I think that horse and human alike we flinch from the soreness of muscle work while at the same time feeling that it’s a positive pain working for good in that spot that’s been nagging at us.
Originally I thought his issues were in a front leg; later my opinion shifted to it being back legs. Verdict from the physio: two sore withers and one sore hamstring. So that would be 3 out of 4 corners of my horse that were sore. I told you we had a problem! There was also tightness through his chest and neck as a result of the other issues. She said that in addition to the fall the pattern of soreness was exacerbated by the hardness of the ground – she is seeing a great deal of soreness in similar patterns in many horses at the moment. While I don’t ride on hard surfaces the turnout is rock hard at the moment, and as we know, he did go crazy in the field when the mares wound everyone up.
So what should I do with him, after the session?
Rest day tomorrow, to recover from treatment. Then 10 min very light ridden work followed by 10 min of in-hand work over raised trotting poles. Gradually, day by day, increase the ridden work and as that takes over cut down the pole work until it’s only once a week. He’s to see the physio again in a fortnight and we’ll review his progress then. The point of the pole work is to keep him free through all four corners of his body.
I was really pleased that a) I was right – he was sore and needed help b) he got help and c) we had a “back to work” plan. Not so pleased I’ll have to lug poles around in this heat, but if that’s what it takes then that’s what I’ll do!
So she left, and once I’d faffed around with the anti-fly-malarky I turned him out. Usually he is very calm to turn out, but sometimes if he’s very keen to get to the grass, he will turn around straight away and trot purposefully to a preferred grazing area. Today was a purposeful trot day. Very purposeful. In fact, as soon as he was a polite distance away from me, he channelled his inner bronco. He bucked his little socks off with the release and joy of feeling better. I’ve never seen him buck like that. The happy bucks and kicks turned to a gallop, turned to a canter, a few more little bucks, a bit of a trot and oh there’s my grazing zone, head down, grass in, satisfaction.
At first I was flabbergasted and then I was delighted for him. Obviously he got so much value from that session. It really made my day.
His pasture companion did not get beyond flabbergasted. If horses could speak that one would have being saying WTF? His pasture companion is rather a grumpy old man, who pushes D around only because D never answers back. Suddenly D was cantering towards him with limbs flying. Of course D didn’t come into his space, but honestly this horse looked as surprised as a human would if their cat spoke to them. It was hilarious.
So I think he’s feeling better!
I did have one other high point in my day which doesn’t fit in with the rest of this post at all, but I wanted to share anyway. So if you prefer a well-edited post you should stop reading before you read this paragraph. Oh. Too late, huh? Well doesn’t that just prove my point – it’s badly edited!
It was our annual work afternoon social event/BBQ. They often have some games of some sort. In previous years there have been pugil sticks, inflatable sumo wrestler suits, etc. This year there was crazy golf and … a mechanical rodeo bull. I have always wanted a go on one of those. Yay, I get to play on the bull! No. Because I am wearing a dress** and I have a policy about not showing my underwear to my co-workers, and especially not to management who might have some say in my career progression. Maybe I could go on despite my policy because I really want to play on the bull. Maybe not.****
And then, a bolt from the clear blue sky: I came here in my car and my car usually contains… jodhpurs!
So, transformed from my starting outfit of work-chic girl in my formal-yet-cool black dress, I returned to the party wearing two-tone blue jodhpurs, a purple tee-shirt and a big grin.
Previous bull riders had issues getting on. Good grief people! it’s in the middle of what is basically a bouncy castle – bounce on! It was so much easier than getting on a horse although I did consider the lack of stirrups might be worth noting. I also noted that rather than the pleasing concavity of my saddle, the back of a mechanical bull is ever so slightly convex, so as to afford minimal purchase.
And off we went. It was very interesting. Never have I focussed so much on feel and on which of my seat bones was taking more weight at any given moment. I lasted 42 seconds. I’m sure most riders could beat me, as my calm horse gives me so little practice in sitting to unexpected movements, but my 42 seconds was 1 second better than the previous best for the day so I was delighted. Also pleasing was that I sat about 3 sudden movements after I knew I was slightly off-center and would be off soon. My eventual dismount over the bull’s suddenly dropped “shoulder” was graceful and comfortable – would that all falls were onto bouncy castles!
Part of me wanted to try again later, but I squashed that feeling. I was happy with how I’d acquitted myself and I was glad to leave it on a high note. Also, I suspect that operators of mechanical bulls make it harder for those they know can sit reasonably to the more gentle movements, and I had no desire to try any more extreme settings 😉
Quite a few high level managers were indeed watching me, and congratulated me afterwards, so it was just as well I remembered about the jodhpurs. Managers like people who participate and those who do well. And those who come prepared with jodhpurs in their car ready for unexpected costume changes? Well that surely can’t be bad!
*For those who like symptoms, different people have had various numbers of the following, with no two people displaying the same combination:
Sore arm-pit glands
** This is not usual behaviour for me, but it is very hot. Especially in our office which could hardly have been designed to catch more sun.*** Hence use of dresses.
***Ironically it’s always freezing in winter.
****I hear that at least one woman in a skirt did show her knickers to all and sundry and didn’t seem to care. Perhaps not everyone has the same policy in this matter. Or perhaps alcohol overruled her policy. Who knows. I wonder whether unexpected rodeo bulls are sexist because men don’t have to worry about costume changes. I wonder if feminist theory would say it is a woman’s right to show her knickers if she wants to go on the bull, and how the situation relates to laws about public decency, and how they relate to men with their trousers at half-mast showing most of their underwear. I wonder too much. And sometimes that is the only thing I’m sure of.