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>To: My Readers; From: Tucker; Re: Plea for Return to Normalcy

May 25, 2011 2 comments

>Hello everyone,

Yes, it’s me.  She finally gave me some face time with you.  Well, actually, she doesn’t really know that I’ve hacked into the blog.  Hudson told me I could tap into the wireless signal of a nearby house, and since my field happens to be next to the farmhouse, voila, here I am, connected to the world.  Then he gave me a tip about making friends with a cat (which I’m really good at, obviously, see here and here — didn’t even need to mention “tuna”).  Once I was connected, it was just a matter of hacking, and I adore hacking!  I win hacks all the time.  Nothing to it, really.

You may be wondering why I’ve waited until now to address you directly.  This blog, after all, has been going on for almost two years now, and I haven’t felt a need to make an appearance yet, even though I absolutely could have, should the need have arisen.  Up until now I believe my mother has been representing my interests well… though at times, I feel she paints me in a rather comical light, even in more serious moments, like when our general welfare and safety is at stake…. 

I have no idea why you all find my bravery in these circumstances so funny, but humans are a strange and illogical breed.  Which is why I do, at times, “play the fool” for your general amusement.  I have learned, over time, that humans are easily amused, and prone to dispense treats with a frequency directly proportional to the amount of ridiculous tricks, endearing faces, and kind gestures that a horse displays.  Of course, treats are also dispensed based on level of performance, but truly, I perform well for my own satisfaction.  It’s a matter of pride, really, to do a job so well. 

Which brings me to my point.  My job.  I am a hunter, and while it took me a few years to catch on to the point of this sport, I have now mastered it and believe that I execute my role with tact, finesse, and style.  The tact, of course, comes into play when I overlook the occasional pilot error and recalculate the amount of strength and impulsion that will be required in order to clear the obstacle before us in a safe and efficient manner, and stifle my urge to express my displeasure with this situation upon landing.  The finesse allows me to make the above-described “recalculations” appear natural and effortless, a feat I have mastered over the course of several years of experience (believe me, she gives me lots of practice covering up these things).  And then there’s style, which really can’t be learned.  It’s something a horse is either born with or without, and I don’t mean to sound boastful, but like I said, I’m good at my job. 

In recent months, however, I have been prevented from doing my job.  First there was the awful month of March.  An entire month where I was denied my usual recreation and workout, and instead kept confined to my stall for days on end, for no reason that I could surmise at all.  The weather appeared fine and from what I could gather, the other horses with whom I am stabled continued to go about their usual routines.  I continued to receive daily food and care from the lovely individuals who appear to be responsible for me when my mother is not available, so perhaps it was simply an oversight.  For the life of me, I will never know what happened during that month nor why I was confined in such an unreasonable manner.  There was, of course, some talk of the minor abrasion to my right hock, but I can assure you, it was nothing.  I do appreciate my mother’s concern and her care for it, but honestly, I could have continued on with my job and would have been happy to do so.

Then there was a very brief interlude where I was again released to my field for recreation, though once again, for reasons unknown to me, I was returned to my stall for almost the duration of April.  April, as you may or may not know, is the month where Spring grass really begins to grow in earnest.  It is, quite possibly, one of the best months of a horse’s year (well before the “annoying season” as Hudson so aptly put it).  It is also the month when horse shows begin outdoors again, which I find to be far more enjoyable than those dreadful winter shows, where one shivers on a trailer only to be led into a bleak, dark indoor where one must collect one’s stride between fences as well as through corners in order to manage a tidy picture in the confines of such a small enclosure.  An outside course, in my opinion, is really the only way to show off one’s true talents.

This April, however, did not bring such joys to my life.  Instead, I was yet again trapped in a 12×12 space for almost the entire span of the month.  During this time, my mother visited frequently, but seemed fixated solely upon my coat.  We did not exercise at all, but instead she spent day after day, night after night, currying, brushing, polishing, combing, spraying, and fussing over me like a champion show poodle (there were even several baths, a disgusting practice of which I highly disapprove, and I hear that there have been talks of a contest my mother is trying to win, which will surely bring on even more baths).  I don’t mean to sound ungrateful.  I enjoy grooming and find it relaxes and soothes my muscles after or prior to a hard physical workout.  The extra benefit that it keeps me looking so well is an added bonus, and I do understand that there is a certain element of physical attractiveness required for my job.  My problem is simply that the workout itself was entirely lacking from our routine.

Now that we are “back to work,” I’m sorry to report that our routine has been severely truncated.  My mother seems to have determined that the walk is the gait upon which we should concentrate, and we spend almost all of our time practicing it.  I’ve always felt that I have a lovely, natural, ground covering walk and need very little practice to master it.  I also enjoy being able to take in my surroundings and get a bit of sight-seeing done while walking and do not appreciate the level of concentration upon which she has been insisting while we walk.  In recent weeks, we do appear to be trotting with increasing frequency and intensity, which I must say is a good sign, and we are now occasionally cantering one circle at a time.  There remains, however, not a jump in sight (cavaletti and tiny cross rails do not — I repeat do not — count, particularly at the trot).  I’ve begun spooking at inanimate objects, in the hopes that she will “punish” this behavior by making me work harder, but to no avail.  She only pats my neck and reassures me, as though she believes I am genuinely frightened.

I write, therefore, to implore you to urge my mother toward a return to normalcy.  Tell her that she can ignore my panting and labored breathing, it’s nothing really.  Tell her that I am fit as a fiddle.  I am well rested and ready for work.  Summer is around the corner, and we have horse shows to attend!  Hitch up the trailer, fill the haynets, polish the tall boots!  What on earth is she waiting for?

Very truly yours,
Tucker M. River

>Pretty Pictures

May 23, 2011 4 comments

>Had a lovely day with Tucker yesterday (we cantered for the first time in two months!), not much time to blog this morning but wanted to share some pretty pictures with you:

All this rain has made the grass shoot up… it’s like horse heaven out there
Munch munch munch
Hi?

Mom?

MOM!

The girls trotted over to say hi when I pulled in and I thought they looked adorable
(that’s Tucker’s girlfriend in the middle, and the lovely mare that tolerated my dressage lesson on the right)
Categories: BCEC, photos, Tucker, turnout

>Afternoon Delight

May 13, 2011 4 comments

>I was just commenting recently on someone’s blog (and I can’t for the life of me remember whose it was — so if you remember, please help out a brain that is clearly aging before its time) that some of my favorite pictures of Tucker have been sent to me while I am at work.  There is something so wonderful about seeing your horse enjoying his day while you are stuck behind a desk earning the big bucks to keep him in the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed.

Here is one such photo, which I just received, of my horse enjoying a little afternoon snooze under the trees with his new turnout buddy:

It’s just too cute for words.  He is so adorable.  I heart him. 

I can’t wait to dote on him this weekend… it’s been a long week and I need a little Tucker time!

_____________________________
p.s. – Hey blogger, if you don’t want to find my last couple of posts, we can just keep them between us and forget I was ever being so childish and whiney.  Now that I think of it, maybe I am responsible for the Great Blogger Meltdown of 2011?  Was I really being so bratty that I crashed blogger?  It’s totally possible.  I can be really obnoxious when I want to be.  Just ask any of my ex-boyfriends.  They’ll be happy to tell you all about it.

Categories: photos, Tucker, turnout

>Back to Work

March 27, 2011 5 comments

>”You’re going to ride it right?  Please tell me you’re going to ride it?” 

Uh oh.  This was the question that met me when I walked into the barn. 

I wandered down the aisle and found Tucker, who just came in from turnout, covered in mud and walking in circles around his stall.  He paused for a nanosecond to sniff me:  “Hi mom!  Sorry!  Can’t stop!  Busy busy busy!”  He was like a kid on too much sugar (or, more accurately, me on too much sugar).  Apparently the spring grass has gone to his head? 

Tucker is clearly feeling all better and has been finding all kinds of ways to amuse himself (and drive the barn managers nuts) this week. Unfortunately, as you could probably tell from the lack of posts, I had a really busy week at work and didn’t get to ride him at all this week…. Something tells me I better remedy that for the coming week, or Tucker may find himself equus non grata.

My endlessly patient and mildly exasperated barn manager proceeded to tell me that Tucker has torn the mats up in his stall every night, pulled all the blankets off his blanket rack every day, and has been generally disruptive, noisy, and annoying all week.  Lovely, buddy, just lovely. 
 
Her best story?  When she came back from teaching a lesson to find him wrestling with his blanket in turnout.  He had managed to yank it half way up his neck and his face was completely hidden from view inside the neck hole (are you picturing this?).  He was leaping through the air and striking out at it.  Fearing the worst, she ran out to the field, convinced he was stuck and panicking.  But no, oh no, he pulled his head out and looked at her, totally amused, and then went back to his game, grabbing the chest buckles in his teeth, then burying his face up to his eyeballs and boucing around the field like a wild 1200-pound puppy with a new toy. 

Only my horse.  Only. My. Horse.
 
Given his current state, I quickly booted him up and led him down to the indoor to run around while the ring was empty.  The second I unclipped the leadrope, he squealed and spun and took off at a full gallop, gobbling up the length of the arena in about ten strides.  He lept, he spun, he bronced, he bucked, he tossed his head, he struck out with his front feet, he kicked out behind, he squealed, he grunted, he whinnied.  I just stood at the gate and watched.  Uh… at least he’s sound?  Even if… slightly deranged?  Then he trotted for a bit, and walked around snorting at things, and then went back to galloping a few more laps, and then when he was done, just turned and walked toward me, calm as could be.  “Ok mom, all better.  Man I needed thatPhew!”  I handwalked him for a minute or two and then got tacked up.
 
Despite the theatrics, I’m happy to say he was a dream to ride.  He was soft, and relaxed, and listening, albeit completely unfit and out of shape, so we took a lot of walk breaks.  He got some nice foam on both sides of his mouth, did everything I asked, and seemed to enjoy the work, which made me very happy.  When we were done, he stood on the cross ties with his ears up and his eyes half shut, licking his lips.  Much nicer horse than when I arrived.  That’s more like it.  At least I know he misses me when I’m not around, right?
 
I actually forgot how lovely he is to ride.  Well, maybe I didn’t forget, but I did get a new appreciation for what a fabulous horse he is, after not working him for so long.  So nice to have my boy back.

>Stitches are out, and so is Tucker!

March 21, 2011 5 comments

>So, I took the stitches out on Friday night.  The wound did not heal as nicely as the wounds on his face did (though my vet warned me that would be the case).  There is still a bit of a ridge where the laceration was, which may go down in time.  I’m still keeping a very close eye on it and keeping it as clean as possible, but so far there are no signs of infection or complications.  Happily, he is quite sound on it, and it does not appear to bother him at all at the trot (haven’t cantered yet, but I’m sure that will be fine too).  He has been sound at the walk but I was still sort of holding my breath until he took the first few trot steps and I felt his normal metronome-like rhythm.  So nice to feel that lovely trot again.

Not surprisingly, Tucker is FRESH.  The poor guy has done nothing but handwalk and bareback rides at the walk for the past two weeks, so it’s completely understandable.  He is still perfectly relaxed and quiet at the walk.  As for the trot…  we can trot for about 2-3 circles before there is head-shaking and foot-stomping and mini-broncing, and general frolicking and carrying on.  He is mostly trying very hard to keep himself under control though, which I appreciate.  There was one rearing-pirouette move which I could do without ever seeing again… but the other horse in the ring with us left (before I realized she was leaving), which was understandably very upsetting.  Separation anxiety and all.  You know how it is.

The best news of all is that he is getting turned out again!  Thank goodness — hopefully this will have him returning to normal horse mode soon.  I just hate the thought of a horse stuck in a stall, even when it is necessary, as was the case here.  Both days this weekend I worked him first before turning him out, and I think that was a good idea.  I also hung out with him in the field for a while, which helped keep him under control.  It seems that I make a decent turnout buddy, even though I don’t roll and I don’t graze.  I’m still pretty good company though, and there are usually treats in my pockets.  So, I’ll do.

On Saturday when I turned him out, he rolled immediately, and I still had the lead rope in my hand as he did this so that I could prevent the taking off upon standing routine, which turned out to be a good idea.  I handwalked him around the paddock for a while since he clearly was wild-eyed with excitement.  Eventually I undid the lead rope but stayed close by, and he started off just wandering around with me.  Then there was some really impressive roaring and striking with the gelding across the fence, at which point he of course managed to get his foot semi-stuck on the bottom rail, and helplessly turned to me.  (“Hi.  I’m stuck.  Can you fix it?”  I just shook my head.  What does he do when I am not around?)  Once he was un-stuck, he commenced trotting the fence line, did some additional pawing, and let out some frustrated whinnies when he realized that the gelding across the fence could touch his girlfriend, while he was separated by double-fencing.  Totally cruel and unfair fencing arrangement, if you ask him. 

Then there was a brief minute or two where he displayed some wicked bucks, followed by a moment of total insecurity when he heard sirens on the highway and trotted straight to me, put his head down under my arm and refused to leave my side.  “Mommy!  Scary noise.  Hide me.”  Silly horse.  I waited for him to settle down to grazing, and then slowly made my way out of the field.  He did some more calling to me when he noticed I was leaving (even though I’m not the greatest turnout buddy, I am still better than nothing) but eventually, he decided he’d just hang out and graze, and then spent a very quiet hour out there.

Sunday I lunged him before riding, because I wanted to give him a chance to get some of those monster bucks out before he was turned out loose and while I could control him a little.  Very, very impressive acrobatic displays.  I have never seen him buck so high and so hard.  After the huge bucks though, he was willing to start listening to me again, and trotted around very quietly and did some good stretching.  I got on and rode briefly afterward, mostly at the walk, and other than the rearing-pirouette moment, he was actually pretty good.  Sunday’s turnout was totally uneventful.  Same routine, I walked him around a bit before letting him go, and then he just rolled and went straight to grazing and walking calmly around.  I left him out for two hours while I did some organizing and tack cleaning, checking on him every so often.  All I could see was the outline of his back, head down, occasionally shifting grazing spots.  What a sane, sensible horse I have.

So anyway, while I think it will take me about another week to get him to the point where he’s sane, and then we’ll have to work on our fitness level, we do seem to be well down the road to recovery.  So, the start of our show season is pushed back about a month I’d say, but in the grand scheme of things, I can’t complain.

>VDL Auction, HITS Ocala

March 11, 2011 4 comments

>Happy Friday everyone! 

I still have nothing to report on the Tucker front, all is well so far — no fever, no signs of infection, and the patient is managing to stay relatively upbeat despite his lock-down.  His turnout buddy is actually in for a couple of days due to an abscess (thanks for the solidarity buddy!), so I’m sure Tucker is comforted that he’s not missing out on anything in the field.  It’s been pouring rain here too, so at least yesterday he had a barn full of friends to keep him company. 

The point of this post, however, is to alert you to the VDL Auction, going on at HITS Ocala this Sunday.  Some of the horses that are being showcased are cousins of the one and only Wunderkind, so I for one will definitely check it out. 

I have already picked my favorite, and if I win the Powerball this week, he is going to be mine.  He is Tucker’s cousin — they share Nimmerdor as their grandsire.  He and Tucker would make a lovely matched set, don’t you think?

To check out the rest of the horses, you can browse vdlauction.com or check out VDL’s YouTube Channel.

Register here to watch the live event on Sunday.  (You can also register to bid for the horses online, should you have the means, or just feeling whimsical with your money.)  I will be tuned in!

>The Healing Process Begins

March 8, 2011 9 comments

>So the past couple of days have been a crazy mix of emotions for me every time I think about my horse… fear, love, regret, relief, worry, comfort, concern, joy.  On the one hand, I am so thankful that he is okay and that it was nothing serious.  On the other hand, I stress every time he hurts himself, partly because there could always be complications, and partly because it reminds me how very fragile he is, outward appearances to the contrary.  And then there’s the accompanying guilt, and knowledge that I probably wasn’t using best practices and could have picked a safer spot to park my trailer… which prompted a grocery bag full of “mommy feels guilty” treats to arrive outside Tucker’s stall on Sunday.  He’s not complaining.

My vet came out and looked at him yesterday and she thought he looked good, though she did prescribe SMZs.  She has also nixed turnout until the stitches are out, which I understand — we don’t want him running and tearing them out, and it’s so muddy out there lately that there’s a high risk that the wound would get dirty and possibly infected.  The staff at the barn where I’m boarding are absolutely wonderful, and taking great care of him… handwalking during the day, giving him SMZs, making sure he has hay in front of him, making sure his selection of treats is properly administered…. 

I went out to walk him under tack last night, and he was very good, let’s hope the good behavior lasts.  He seemed rather confused though.  First he took me over to the spot where I hang up my cooler after five minutes of walking.  “Time to work now right?  Let’s get going, come on, take the cooler off, you know the drill.”  Um, no, Tucker, just keep walking.  Then I got off after our 20 minute walk and he turned around and blinked at me in disbelief.  “You forgetting something?  Like WORK?  Please tell me that’s not it.  Wait, I know, you’re probably getting down to set up some jumps.  Good idea.  We haven’t jumped since last weekend.”  Nope, sorry buddy, that’s it for tonight.  “What’s wrong?  You not feeling good or something?”  No, Tucker, remember?  You’re not feeling well?  Hurt your leg?  Emergency trip to the vet clinic?  “Nope.  I feel fine.  Can you get back on?”

And now, some pictures.  Telling his girlfriend about his ordeal:

“And there was this huge truck right?  And it was going to kill my mom….”
“Wow!  You fought a water truck?!  You’re SO BRAVE.”
“Yeah, I’m like, kind of a hero.  No big deal.”

Our handwalk on Sunday:

Nom nom nom nom.  Spring is on its way!
The Drama Llama sees something in the distance. 
How does he get his neck to do that?
Then it started to rain, so we had to head inside to finish our walk:
How much longer do we have to do this?  I’m kinda bored.

What’s in the bag?  Is it for me?  Huh?  Huh?  Is it?
WANT MORE APPLES.  FEED THE MONSTER.
And, of course, the carnage.  Looks pretty good right?  This is from last night.  Minimal swelling, staying clean, skin laying flat so far.  I know it’s only been 2 days, but I’m pleased with how it looks right now.

Much less funny than the last time he had stitches though.  Can’t really come up with any clever nicknames for this one.