Wednesday was Red's day to go out. Kelso ran the 8 miles I did on Rhio on Tuesday and was a little sore, so although he needed some exercise for the day, I didn't think another long run would be the best thing for him. I haven't been jogging in a couple of weeks because my cold had settled in my chest and I've been toting around a nasty cough for a while now. I devised a plan, the wisdom of which I will leave up to you to judge, which would allow me to jog, exercise Kelso, and ride Red in a seemingly efficient manner. Although it is light until after 7:30 these days, with temps only in the low 40s during the warmest part of the day, it starts getting mighty chilly as sunset approaches. My plan was to take maximum advantage of the warmest, sunniest hours of the afternoon, and multitask.
The Plan, Step #1
I dressed in riding attire plus running shoes, grabbed my iPod, corralled the excess canines who would not be accompanying me on the 1 mile trip to Red's barn, and set off on my jog. The first bump in the road was Bowser. Bowser the hound who would not stay at home on the farm with Becca, but kept following me & Kelso down the road. After attempting to return him to the farm three times, I finally just texted Becca that he was with me & she could pick him up at Red's barn on her way home and kept on going. He was well behaved and we made it to Red's barn without incident.
The Plan, Step #2
Shortly after arriving at Red's barn, Becca stopped in and picked up the wayward hound. I grabbed Red's halter and went to the gate, then realized that running shoes are nearly the worst possible footwear for catching a horse in a paddock that consists of a gooey mixture of mud, manure, and hay coating an icy base. No matter, I thought - Red is easy to catch and frequently will meet me at the gate. Well, no such luck! This time he decided to play hard to get, and after a few minutes of tip-toeing through the muck trying to keep my feet somewhat dry while still putting the pressure on him so that he would give up the foolish & doomed fight, I gave up the pretext of white running shoes and just slogged away. [side note here: even after a thorough shower, my toenails are still rimmed in grime! I'm going to have to soak my feet to get them clean...and don't even ask about the state of my running shoes.] All the other horses in the group were "helping," and finally Dave offered some assistance. About the same instant, Red quit his shenanigans and allowed me to walk right up to him. Needless to say, he did NOT get a bite of the oats Dave brought out to entice the rest of the herd to abandon the fun game we were playing.
The Plan, Step #3
Red, Kelso, and I set off for home at a jog, and Red took no encouragement at all to trot along at my shoulder. Good boy! I could tell by the sound of his hoofbeats, however, that his hocks were bothering him. He has degenerative joint disease (arthritis) in his hocks, and gets them injected in the spring. This will be the third year I've had to inject him, and so far a single injection in the spring lasts the entire riding season. Usually, his lameness is mild enough that he willingly goes out for moderate rides and I know the exercise is good for him. So, yes, I know I was going to be riding a lame horse, but he is no more lame after a ride than before, and I have the medications ordered to do his hock injections.
The Plan, Step #4
At the barn, I tack Red up, switch to my boots for riding, and grab my helmet. We're off, leaving Kelso at home, and head down the road. Red is somewhat reluctant to go, but willing to trot. The trot is way off, however, and feels terrible to ride. The day is so nice, and he needs to get out, so we continue with our planned 4 mile route, doing most of it at a walk and enjoying ourselves. Red is spooking at all the little things, par for the course with him, and when we return I have Kristi trot him for me so I can do flexion tests and confirm that it is both of his hocks that are bothering him. I get him started on his spring course of Adequan, give him a snack with a little Bute powder hidden in senior feed, and quickly get the other horses fed their grain. Now, since I don't have a car at Red's barn to get home, my original plan was to ride him all the way there, then walk home. However, since he was pretty significantly lame, it was later than I intended when we got back, and I had to feed all the horses here by myself.
The Plan, Step #5
In order to get Red home before dark, but get myself back here before dark to do hay as well, I enlisted Kristi's help once again. This time, we ponied Red home via car. Yep, if you saw what seemed to be a car driving slowly down the road with a horse trotting along on the shoulder, that is exactly what it was. Red was a good boy, and obviously anxious to get home, since he set a 13 mph - 15 mph pace. All went smoothly... until about 100 yards from his driveway, when he spooked and bolted across the road (at nothing, I'm quite sure). Thank goodness we have such a quiet road! All was well, no catastrophes, and Kristi handwalked him the last little bit to his barn. He was quite happy to get in his stall to his oats, and we made it home in time to finish feeding before full dark.
So, if you've been keeping count of the flaws in my plan, I came up with about 4, but your definition of a flaw and mine may not be the same. Regardless, life with horses is never boring!