Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Great Way to End the Year (Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010)

For the three weeks that we've been riding daily since Brandy's stifle surgery, she has been step-pacing (taking mincy little steps) instead of doing a "flat walk" or "running walk".  When I ask her to speed up, she just paces faster--a VERY uncomfortable and jolting gait to ride!  She used to do a great flat walk in the field, so my theory is that she's pacing because of the pain.  A horse doing a flat walk really uses its hind legs to drive it forward--and using her hind legs is what this rehab is all about!  My research on how to cure pacing without a bit (since that's how I ride Brandy) or artificial aids suggested riding in snow, sand, or mud to oblige the horse to pick up its feet, thus creating a better gait. So when we heard from Adam and Sarah that there was more snow left at Leahaven than in Chickamauga, we bundled the horses into the trailer and headed to Leahaven the day after they left.
This was only Angel's third visit to Leahaven, and she was very excited. I think she definitely enjoyed the change of scenery after three weeks of riding the same 29 acres at home! And although she was a bit "antsy," she behaved very well and didn't do anything silly.

Zephyr and Hero came along, too, and had a blast. Hero probably ran twice as many miles as the horses did, running ahead, coming back to us, and running on ahead. Sometimes Zephyr got left pretty far behind, but we always caught up to her on the way back!
This was only Brandy's second visit to Leahaven. I don't know if it's the natural horsemanship training she has had or if it's just her personality, but although Angel is 11 and she is only 4, she's extremely laid-back and calm. She was very interested in her surroundings, but not at all "antsy." The only problem she gave me was refusing to cross the stream of running water below the beavers' dam until I got off and led her across--of course getting my feet wet in the process! I made her go back and forth across three times, and that was all it took for her to make the next crossing with me in the saddle.

The nice deep snowdrifts that had blown into ditches and along fencelines were just what the doctor ordered to encourage Brandy to gait; even where there was no snow, the long clumpy grass did the same thing. It didn't take long at all for her to pick up a nice flat walk instead of step-pacing. You can tell by her damp shoulder and neck that she got a good workout! You can also tell how relaxed she is, standing there with her eyes closed!
After we cooled the horses down we turned them into the little enclosure by the barn where there was water and grass to eat, and we went to clean the house for the next guests. As we came out to load the horses up and head home, the sun was setting across the field, a beautiful end to a great day!

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