Friday January 5 2006
1. The first night at basecamp of the Death Valley ride, after being tied to the trailer for a while, we took Spice and Raffiq on a walk to stretch their legs. Raffiq walked ahead, Spice followed – limping and stiff! I couldn’t believe it. “She’s tied up!” As in, muscle cramps. One might see this from feeding a horse a lot of grain over a few days with no exercise, then taking her out on a hard fast ride without warming up. But – tying up just standing at the trailer for a few hours – what the hell?!
She limped stiffly and crabbily along with her ears pinned behind Raffiq. My visions of riding 4 days of Death Valley came to a sudden end.
Gretchen said, “It’s the blanket.”
I stopped and made sure the blanket was loose enough, not constricting her movements. No, it was loose, and she was still walking very short in front and shorter behind.
I headed straight for the Duck’s trailer. The Duck (the head vet) and Melissa, another vet, were both there when I popped my head in and said, “My horse is tied up! Will you look at her?” They both looked at me like I was nuts. “How can she be tied up? You haven’t even ridden her yet!”
They came out in the dark to look at her; the Duck poked her butt muscles (Spice got mad and kicked at him) to see if they were bunched up, and he had me trot her out. The butt muscles felt normal, and she trotted out pretty normally, and they said “She’s fine” and sent me off still looking at me like I was nuts.
But as soon as we left there, Spice was stiffly hobbling along again. “She’s tied up!” I insisted.
Gretchen said again, “It’s the blanket. She doesn’t like blankets.” I thought Gretchen was full of baloney, because how could that cause Spice to walk like she had a serious medical problem, but, to humor Gretchen who couldn’t be right, I took off Spice’s blanket. I led her off, and she walked like a normal horse! Spice hates blankets so much, she won’t walk right in them! And she did it every time I walked her in a blanket! I started taking the blanket off her when we went on a walk, then putting it on when we got back. Dork!
2. Do you think Spice could walk in a straight line down a trail? No! If you let her have control, she will ping-pong all over a road, one side to the other, like a drunken sailor, walking off the road, back on the road to the other side, walking over the rockiest parts, and of course tripping over every rock in sight. If you correct her and make her walk in a straight line, she will, but she will soon preferably switch back to zig zagging all over the place. Dork!
3. Do you think Spice could carry her body straight down the trail? No! She’ll be going along like a normal horse, then space out (she does this a lot), and her neck will cock slightly to the left (or sometimes the right) and she’ll turn her head up and sideways and make funny faces with her mouth (with or without a bit). Can you envision what this is doing to her spine? We’ll be booking a chiropractor for her soon. You can straighten her up, then a few seconds later she’ll drift back into trotting in the crooked position. Dork!
4. Sometimes, Spice just gets crabby. Maybe it’s just the mare thing, but boy, when she feels like it, she pins her ears at me, say when I’m doing her a favor and checking her legs while she’s eating, or she’ll even pin her ears at Raffiq (who’s her boss) if she’s in a grouchy mood. Dork!
5. Spice eats freshly planted trees that have green dye (hopefully just food coloring) all over them, needles and bark and all, and gives herself a belly ache. Dork!
But, she does like my riding companion Raven.