When I rode Eli last Monday, I knew he needed his stifle injections before we could do much of anything. Light flat work, sure. But anything more intensive would have been unfair to him even though he felt sound (just no real push from behind while cantering left). So throughout the week he rested and was free to go in turnout after getting his stifles injected. I looked forward to our ride on Saturday, hoping to feel a difference in his left lead — would the right hind be back in gear?
I had all week to wonder about the results. Of course, I know that injections’ results may not really peak until a week or so after the procedure, but in the past Eli has always felt back in business the first few rides after injections so we get back to jumping by ride three or four. Maybe it’s partly the time off, too, who knows. Honestly I think this winter he has had a few too many vacation days — he likes to work and feels better in regular work, seeming much happier to me, anyway. And we all know Eli is not one to conceal his emotions.
Saturday morning was very mild and the forecast left all of us riders and trainers at the barn with the impression that we’d have to come back in the evening to blanket the horses because of how warm it would be during the day. (Not that we’d all have to come back but sometimes I offer to because Eli can be a wanker about it.) I took my time tacking up because I would not be riding in a lesson, just flatting to see how Eli felt. As I placed my saddle pads on Eli’s back, a very chilly gust of wind from the north blew through the barn. Moments later, the cold air had settled in. It went from 60-something to 40-something in a matter of minutes. And here I am tacking up a horse that hasn’t worked in a week, who will now, no doubt, pass beyond the boundaries of fresh into the hinterlands of spooky. Plus I was cold as I had not dressed for 46F. I had a puffy vest on which helped but the ride that I had just minutes ago looked forward to suddenly seemed a bit daunting.
However, I had nothing to worry about. Thanks for keeping me on my toes, horse. Not only that, but I was able to play with some of the concepts from the clinic that Eli took to right away. Best part? His engine. He had all the power from his hind end that I am used to at our disposal. (Not to say he is especially magically powerful, we were just back to where we normally are.) He responded to my seat. He was light in the bridle. He cantered very well in both directions, without feeling like he was trying to run himself into a ditch going to the left. He could rock back and push forward. He remained quite focused, especially considering the circumstances.
Because the cold front came through much earlier than expected, that answered the blanket question for us. I threw his wool cooler on after our ride. I have already gotten so much use out of it this year — I hadn’t used one in ages and now suddenly I am using it regularly. What the hell is happening in Texas?!
As for Sunday, we had thundersleet here. Yes … I did not know that was a word, either. Most riders I know didn’t ride, including me. I am hoping Eli will feel just as good tonight as he did Monday, and we are supposedly going to get in the 50s today. If it’s chilly by the time I get to the barn, I’ll be using that quarter sheet again. Decades have passed without me having need for either a quarter sheet or a wool cooler maybe but once a year, if even that, and now I am reaching for them regularly.
I have also just added a few new supplements into the mix for Eli — one daily and one as needed, both given orally. I’ll see if I can get him to eat the daily one on a few handfuls of grain and if that works out I’ll just leave it for the barn employees to feed to him with his lunch. He can be finicky about supplements on his feed but it wouldn’t be a problem for me to give it to him daily, and then I’d know he was getting it rather than eating around it. I’d like to keep using both for a while before writing much about them. Supplements are not overnight miracles and to evaluate either before a few months of use would be pointless. For those who are curious, one is hyaluronic acid and the other is magnesium. A number of clients at the barn have used similar if not the same things with positive results, so I am not just throwing stuff at a wall to see what sticks.