Watching and Wondering
Well, Consolation and I did get to go for our ride Wednesday. Saddling up took extra time, as she clearly anticipated discomfort. (How was she supposed to know she had dexamethosone on board?) I lunged her briefly before getting on just to be sure I hadn’t missed anything, then led her out to the driveway and mounted up.
It took only a few steps to know she wasn’t 100%. She didn’t want to move off well, and her tail was too switchy for the bugless day. Then again, she wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as she has been over the past few weeks. The obvious question: How much of this was actual discomfort — and how bad was that discomfort — and how much was the cleverness of a horse that is figuring out that fidgety behavior will earn her a day off?
Decision time. With horses, there can be a fine line between “I want you to be absolutely comfortable” and “Suck it up, Princess.” Endurance horses in particular need to be able to work through a bit of discomfort. If the first cloud of gnats or trickle of belly sweat sweat snaps their delicate psyches, you’re never going to get down the trail.
For the moment, I chose to proceed. Half a mile later, we were still going along reasonably well, and I asked for a trot. She moved out slowly. Hesitantly. I kept asking, and after a while she seemed to discover that her skin wasn’t going to bite her, after all. She did still lash her tail and snap her head around a couple times, but nothing like before. At the first intersection, we took a turn that often loops us back toward home. That sped her right up. Look, mom, I can trot! Wheeee!
Until the first turn away from home. Oooh, then her skin seemed much more troublesome. She switched her tail and flung her head around some more. Trot? Gosh, I dunno, mom… Uh-huh.
Again we pushed through, and again she recovered considerably as she became distracted by passing tractors and a herd of horses across the canal. Now, I don’t mean to say she wasn’t feeling anything at all — I do think she her skin was legitimately bothering her to some extent — but she was obviously able to get beyond the “I’m a fragile Christmas bauble, so please bubble-wrap me” stage. In fact, for the last several miles before our cool-down, she moved out quite normally, steadily and with enthusiasm. When we slowed to walk the last mile in, she remained normal.
Afterwards, she had just a hair of swelling on one side, well away from the saddle area. She was just about 24 hours out from her last dose of dex, though, so it’s unclear whether the ride or the timing was the issue.
So…maybe we’re making progress. Or maybe she’s just leaning on the dex crutch and will relapse as it tapers off. I’m worried about the latter because the affected areas were a bit warm last night — and yesterday was her first day off the dex. She’ll get a smaller dose today, tomorrow off, then still smaller doses ever other day twice after that.