Sorry about my absence. I have to admit, I got pretty discouraged and started wondering about the whole "why am I doing this?" thing. Thomas has been consistently inconsistent. Even though that's exactly why I started writing this blog in the first place, it's also why I stopped for a while there. I thought writing here would help me to figure out why bad days with him happen, or at least vent some of my frustrations. But then I let little demons in that make it hard to write about things not going as well as I'd like.
We've had some really good days where he has been happy to work on a little bit of collection, counter canters and even the rare flying change or two. We've also had some really bad days where he is reluctant to move- literally stopping and refusing to move forward at all. Then, when I can finally get him to move he's balky and stiff.
One day a couple of weeks ago I took him out for a hack with Penny and her big horse, Sobe. It was an unusually warm February day. The dirt road was soft and there was a hint of spring in the air. About 15 minutes into a nice ride, we were happily (I thought) trotting up a gradual incline, Sobe was ahead of us by a bit, when Thomas all of a sudden put on the brakes. He just stopped in his tracks and started to go backwards. I had my dressage whip and I tapped and clucked, encouraging him forward, but he "didn't wanna!" Penny said that his tummy was all tucked up and his eyes were way back in his head, like he was in a lot of pain. I got him going and just a little ways up the road he did it again. I let him walk and he seemed to relax eventually and we did manage a decent trot on the way home. Penny and I got thinking.
Could this be ulcers? I had come to the barn earlier than usual and Penny and I had decided on the hack on short notice. Tom hadn't had his grain (1 little quart of Carb Safe) yet. Were stomach acids causing this behavior? He does this in the ring too, but not quite as adamantly as this episode. And it does seem to be more likely to happen if he's working on an empty stomach. So I started feeding him handfuls of hay prior to putting the bridle on. That seemed to help. I called my vet and asked about ulcers. She said it certainly could be and suggested I have him scoped because the GastroGuard is so expensive for a horse Tom's size, she didn' t think it was a good risk to just treat him and hope that he'd come around.
Thomas had a camera stuck down his throat on Tuesday. It showed a beautiful, pink tummy, with no signs of ulcers at all. I couldn't help but think that ulcers would have been a nice, easy fix. I could medicate him for a month and he'd be happy and good to go onto wonderful things. It wasn't to be. His stomach is fine. Something else is definitely bothering him. So onward and upward.
I worked him yesterday and he was pretty good, considering that he had 2 days off and 5 hours standing on the trailer on Tuesday. Today I went over, fully intending to work him. It had snowed lightly all day and had changed to rain as I was driving there. The snow was sliding slowly off the roof, casting weird shadows and making awful noises. Thomas didn't even want to walk to the arena; let alone go inside! I just let him loose and chased him around for awhile. He really is terrified of arena snow. I'll attach a video clip here. He looks pretty mellow, but really he's petrified! Check out the sliding snow shots at the end.