072. Catching Up

Whilst starting this post I somehow managed to delete the draft of my 2017 book reads. (Side note: It’s been that kind of disgruntling Wednesday.)

There’s nothing exciting to report on the Nakai front. It’s been the same routine and really, who wants to read about that?

We are currently stuck traversing the barn’s 2 main fields and the wooded trails as the surrounding fields have sprung up corn forests.  We’re corn-locked. It’s painfully boring to do the same loop four or five times to get a measly 4 miles, so rides consist of ring work.

All the ring work.
While Nakai’s been superb, I’ve encountered my own mental roadblocks. Lead changes have always been the best example of this. I focus too much on each stride, Nakai anticipates, and we both end up flustered. The most frustrating part is that I know we can do this! I haven’t successfully nailed changes these last couple weeks, and the other day I decided to ride in a halter and lead, promising myself I would stay out of his way.

Nakai rewarded me all evening with perfect little changes in the pen and out on the trail.

On another night, Ben accompanied me to the barn and I convinced him to hop on for a quick spin. It was only his second time riding Nakai, his fourth time riding altogether. I love how Nakai takes care of his riders. The attitude disappears and he kindly humors them. The horse that will gallop off with a whisper now needs extra encouragement to walk forward. I think Ben would be a natural rider, but alas his preferred horse power comes from vehicles.



We finished off the week with a toddle around the fields with Rose and General. It was the first time he’d been out with Rose in ages, and as we cruised up the fence line I could feel the familiar competitiveness surge through him. We did a nice slow loop working on manners and headed back to the barn to help Diane get General through some initial barn sour stickiness.


Now, it’s three days since and I haven’t ridden for various reasons (adulting being the main one) and I’m desperately pining for autumn.  All I want is my normal riding schedule back.

071. The Revolution Resolution

Mulder is terrified of his flea, tick, & heartworm preventative.

But he is infatuated with the vacuum. Go figure 🤷🏼‍♀️

When attempting to put it between his shoulder blades he shrinks back in fear, eyes clouding over as his whips his head around and attempts to bite.

He trembles. He shakes, eyes wide with worry.

A thousand expletives cross my mind as I wonder how in the holy fuck can someone traumatize a dog when administering Revolution. He doesn’t have any skin irritation, lost hair, or any other indication that the medication burns or is otherwise uncomfortable.

I brainstormed.

For reasons that can all be filed under #horseowner, I have syringes of various sizes all over the house. I chose the largest for desensitizing.

Exhibit A: BFS (big fucking syringe)

A few days a week, I suck up some water into the syringe and rub it between Mulder’s shoulder blades. If he is accepting, he receives treats and praise. I do this a couple times before squirting a bit of water onto his back. I praise, shovel treats into him, and end the experience on a good note.

For July’s dosage, I dumped it into the syringe and carried on like I would if it was just water. Not a single objection – he didn’t even know when I administered it.

This morning, I separated August’s dosage from the pack and took count of how many I have left. Upon seeing the small application, he hunched and skittered away, tail between his legs.

What happened in your past life, Bubba?

070.

Since my last update, I’ve had a some awesome rides and some not so great rides. The less than stellar rides stem more from the issue that is Summer. Nakai loathes summer as much as I do and between the bugs, heat, and humidity he feels sluggish. We had a couple days of decent weather which allowed us to have productive schooling sessions and pound out some miles. When the oppressive heat returned, Nakai turned into a cranky toddler. For the first time this year, I had to nag him to get moving (he is a horse who will normally use any excuse to move out). My workaholic was now the grumpy old man who sighed plaintively when he saw me coming to collect him from the pasture.

And oh have we been cranky. I struggled through a few rides where everything I asked initially was met with a resounding ‘No!’ Like the good soul he is, Nakai acquiesces to my requests only after voicing his opinion (over and over and over…).

In attempt to remedy this, we did a few short fun sessions of free lunging, baths, and hand walking to graze and refresh some ground work.


Wednesday evening gave similar results. I’m still struggling with ankle pain and experimenting with possible solutions, so the goal was a quick schooling ride in exercise capris and my terrains. We lasted only 2 1/2 miles because the black flies were terrible. They bombed Nakai’s face any time we slowed down from a trot. I ended the ride there (really not wanting to risk an ERU flare up from the irritation).

I’m crossing my fingers this weekend yields better results.


On the domestic front, Ben’s started building my walk in closet and we’re almost finished pulling out the awful hedges surrounding the house! Once the last three are gone I can finally start creating flower beds! Speaking of plants: Khoshekh’s hellbent on destroying mine. He tried to murder my aloe pant (breaking the pot in the process) and gorged himself on my lemongrass until he puked (and I moved them outside). The cacti haven’t phased the kitty tyrant, either. I’ve caught him itching on them.

I also received a huge promotion at work. I am so happy that sometimes it doesn’t feel real.

We had friends over for a pre-fourth of July bonfire. While I’m still waiting on Mulder kisses, he practically drowned our friend in them.



But I’m not irrationally jealous or anything.

 

 

069. The City Dog Swims

This weekend was moist. The temperature combined with the obnoxious humidity made riding a no-go. Together, the numbers were 160+ for Saturday and 170+ for Sunday. When in the 130-170 zone, horses are unable to adequately cool themselves and their riders need to pay great attention to their horse. Nakai becomes quite sluggish in this weather (as do I) and with absolutely no reason to torture ourselves, I bagged riding.

I did, however, take Mulder to the lake for some proper swimming.


It started the way things normally seem to go for me: a whirlwind to the truck, a blissful drive to the lake, and managing to dislodge an ex attempting to fish from my favorite swimming spot. My delightful presence worked like a charm and Ben and I had the little shoreline to ourselves.

Game to walk out into the water but not sure what to do from there, Mulder shuffled around and watched Honey glide effortlessly past him. She didn’t understand why Mulder wasn’t excited (because water!!)


I coaxed him deeper and suddenly he was swimming! Mildly concerned, he made a quick circle and started back to shore. He reminded me of a puppy swimming for the first time – too upright and smacking at the water with his paws.  He tried a few times to march determinedly back to the shore, but we were able to persuade him back in. He dunked his head a few times and seemed confused that he couldn’t climb onto the lily pads, but otherwise it went great!


He’s not much of a water child, but hopefully with some more exposure he’ll become more comfortable.

068. Of Fitness & Fawns


Thrilled that Nakai’s transitioned well over to apartment living and satisfied with his weight gain, we are now back to working on our fitness levels. As much as I loathe summer weather, we ride the most during this season.

I wasn’t sure how quickly Nakai would lose muscle and wind with his vacation time. Time off never seems to make a difference to the Arabs, and some of the Quarter Horses seem to revert nearly overnight. Thankfully, there didn’t appear to be much of a difference with Nakai. I rode conservatively for the first couple weeks and am now increasing his speed and miles.


We’ve also continually worked on removing race brain and the ever constant ‘wait’. Nakai’s doing great in both areas. Last Sunday I had an awesome 8 mile loop with Maria on the home trails. I made Maria trail boss (it’s always me!) and laughed at how easily she still gets turned around. Nakai contentedly worked behind Beamer, rating beautifully and kepping his head on our little gallop strip. He hit 34.8 mph! We rode side by side and I held him back a bit, not sure if I could trust Beamer not to spook (I did not want to be side-swiped). In that aspect, Nakai’s too honest – He will never take the shortcut back home or spook at the deer in the wood line while we gallop. He just loves to run.

Wednesday (I think? I’m losing track of days) I made plans to ride with Marina and Mechele was also available. We hit the trails and I was impressed at how nicely Nakai worked behind Jasper and Rose. I believe this is the first time he’s ridden with Rose since winter, and normally they feed off each other and create little monsters.  It was an excellent ride until we slogged through a muddy patch and I watched Rose’s shoe cast fly through the air toward us. She lost her shoe, too, so M cut her ride short and I finished the loop with Marina.

I’m having a bit of an issue with my ankles again. The numbness starts on the outside of my ankles and works it way up my calves. It burns and then goes numb. Both ankles are afflicted, and I’ve narrowed it down to tight ankles and bunching materials. I’m also chalking it up to having spent the last 6 months riding in my western, but I shouldn’t have this much of an issue switching back to my endurance saddle. I love my wide tread endurance stirrups but am wondering if I need to switch back to narrower ones and see if it helps.

I am a conformational train wreck.

Today’s ride had zero ankle issues (go figure). Maria and I planned to ride early, but she woke up sick so I was on my own. Nakai had a nice warm-up in the ring and we hit the trails. We almost finished a loop of Mechele’s fields when a fawn shot out ahead of us. I whoa’ed Kai and we walked. Out pops another one! Twins! They were older, about lab sized, but still had the bright white spots. Mom obviously left them to go feed, and here I was messing up their hiding spot.

Imagine my surprise when one comes circling back through the hay like a little velociraptor and begins calling to Nakai. The fawn would come close before darting off again. At one point the little babe was brave enough to stand so close I could have reached out and touched them. Nakai flicked his tail, scaring both, and they bounced off into the hay again. I rode away only to look back and see them following me!

They followed us into M’s second hay field and through the wood line into the BJ’s field. Seriously worried that they would follow us on the rest of my 5 mile loop and get lost, I turned Nakai back around and we walked back to the first field. I did end up throwing carrots at them to scare them back into the taller section. I zipped away while they bounced, thankfully without fawns following. Dripping with sweat and losing motivation, I headed back to the barn. What was supposed to be an at least 5 mile loop was 3.

Here’s a couple videos of the little babes:

067. Weight Updates

A month has passed since switching Nakai to stall board. Mechele’s suspicions about feeding time being unduly stressful for him seems correct. It took a few days for his new routine to sink in, but Nakai enjoys his “room”. A few times now I’ve walked into the barn at 10:30-11 on weekend mornings to find Nakai just finishing his grain. According to M, he’s taken to occasionally napping in between finishing breakfast. Clearly, my worries about him settling in were unnecessary.

Here is a before picture, taken in late April:

2 weeks in:

This is from Sunday:

Almost immediately I saw a big difference in his withers and topline after two weeks, and now he has an nice layer of fat covering his ribs and his tail head. He’s filling in behind his withers, and we’re once again working on improving that topline. I wasn’t sure how quickly he would loose muscle mass or fitness, but it’s not as bad as I anticipated. He’s back up to enjoying 5+ mile hacks at home and had no problem completing Green Lane last weekend (He finished with plenty left in the tank).

Side note, but after clipping him I found two large (almost completely identical in location) white spots under his winter coat. They weren’t solid white, like a pressure point would be, and instead were almost lace-like in pattern. Apparently only half of the hair there is white, because as his clip grew in the white spots disappeared (see the most recent picture).

 Thank Lawd he’s a such an expressive mover, because he’s not much to look at when he’s just standing around…



066. Green Lane

Maria and I managed to get one last hurrah before Carl (Maria’s F-150) goes to Ben for repairs. We must have subconsciously remembered the traffic horror that is Qtown Alive, and we opted to head out to Green Lane on Saturday.


The last time we did Green Lane was back in late October or early November. Beamer is on his way to getting fitter, but I asked Maria to dictate our speed. The radar was clear with the exception of a small rain band passing through, so we took our chances and loaded up. As soon as we unloaded the horses it started raining again.  I ended up calling Ben and asking him to run over a hoodie for me; I was cold! It’s hard to believe the prior 3 days were in the high 80’s and here I am layering!

Once the rain passed we hit the trails. Nakai was so happy to be off the property again; he and Beamer had a great warm-up on the red trail.



Upon hitting the blue trail, Nakai turned on and wanted to fly. He floated over the rocks and roots while Beamer tried his hardest to do the same. He rated nicely and for the most part patiently waited for Beamer after every technical crossing. Beamer was awesome for Maria and tried so hard to carefully pick his way over the many logs, rocks, and slick footing.

The only excitement was a chipmunk dashing through the underbrush (which was apparently cause for concern) and a very curious mutt who gave chase to use while crossing the camping area. Beamer was worried an in attempt to head off potential issues I wheeled Kai around and started back after the pup. I am thankful Nakai is dog broke and seems to take great fun in chasing things; he was all business and the poor pup seemed quite concerned the “big dog” had turned the tables on her!

My little vitcory was Nakai finally peed under saddle! Sounds ridiculous, right? In the 9 years I’ve owned him, I can’t remember him ever peeing under saddle. I used to try teaching him (my old BO had a horse who would waddle off trail if he had to go, and he knew a cue to do so) to no avail. I thought Mustang might cure him – no way he could hold it for 50 miles… but he peed during the holds after I stripped tack. He always waits until he’s tied at the trailer or has just loaded.

We did a bit over 11 miles, and Beamer was feeling it by the end. Nakai seemed disappointed we took the shortcut back instead of the last gallop hill, but overall I am very pleased with this fitness level despite having a reduced workload over the last few months. He ate well, his hydration was good, and he felt awesome. What a perfect day!