Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Foggy New Ride

We're all settled into the new barn - now its time to start getting familiar with our new riding routes.  It is drastically different from our miles of deserted woods trails we've had access to for the past few months up north.  This is farm country, sprinkled with neighborhoods of commuters.  Corn fields, dairy cows, and grass lawns are our new scenery, at least what we could see of it through the dense fog and perpetual mist.  All these roads are paved, which has got me thinking about conditioning miles.  While the boys are super road safe, so the traffic aspect isn't so much of a concern on the secondary roads, the ongoing concussion from being on a paved surface is worrying.  There is a bit of gravel shoulder in many places, but not all.  Rhio is usually shod, but with so much asphalt, I will be hesitant to shoe him.  One of these evenings, I must sit down and go through my boot bucket - matching up usable pairs, replacing a few gaiters, assessing my stock.  I think boots will be the name of the game for rides out from the barn, anyway - good traction on the asphalt, and hopefully some absorption of the concussive forces.  I know from being a runner, that the pounding my own legs take running on paved surfaces is very different from when I run trails, or natural surfaces.  A little bit of road work is good - the even, firm surface feels good and uses muscles differently (its easier,actually!), and it can help build bone in horses.  But too much will lead to soreness, and, I believe, eventual deleterious joint effects.  So, we'll see how it goes...

Given Red's accident the other day, I opted to pony him along today.  The paddocks and barn area are treacherous with a layer of water over ice (it was almost 45 degrees today!), and I certainly didn't want him running about being upset with Rhio leaving.  Good thing we've been practicing our ponying all fall!  It is second nature now. 

We are able to ride off the property at the back side, and follow the edge of a cornfield out to a secondary road, thereby avoiding riding on the busier county road.  We then followed that road about 2 miles to an intersection, then retraced our steps.  Bits of the road were cornfield on both sides and felt very "country," while others felt very suburban, with houses, garages, driveways, and lawns on both sides.  I met a lady who stopped her car to chat; she also has horses along the road - she was very pleased to see horses out and about.  The few other cars and trucks that passed us were very polite, slowing down and moving over.  I think we won't have any trouble navigating the typical hazards of road riding.  Rhio did have to pass some dairy cows, which are much more terrifying than even scary beef cows (I have no idea why!), and despite Red's complete nonchalance, I had a giraffe-necked, snorting, prancing pony.  Silly boy.  Is it too much to hope that living in dairy country might help him conquer his fear of Holsteins? 

Riding along the edge of the cornfield.
Despite the dismal weather (but at least it was warm!), we all enjoyed seeing the new sights and getting out and about.  The boys even found a few blades of green grass to munch and were in heaven for it!  

The view of the farm, from the back (coming home).

Rhio releases some tension after being turned back out.  Must have been those Holsteins!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Horses Are Accidents Waiting to Happen

A little Friday afternoon ride - to check out the new area - was what I had planned when I headed to the barn under a gray sky today.  It would be the first since the horses moved last Sunday.  I brought Rhio into the barn to tack up, listening to Red whinny outside.  For all Red's comfort when riding alone, he sure doesn't like to be left home by himself.  As any of you regular readers will know, I ponied him along every time I rode up north this fall, except once.  Given the setup at the new barn, with lots of horses in close proximity and constant visual contact, I thought things would be ok.  Boy was I wrong!

Rhio and I started off around the perimeter of the pastures, and I was watching Red run up and down from their pen into their pasture, looking very prettily animated and all Arabian while doing so.  He was screaming for Rhio and I was pleased that Rhio was doing so well with ignoring it!  Rhio doesn't prefer to go by himself and can sometimes be barn/buddy sour because of it.  This is one reason I like to get him out and about solo pretty quickly after moving to a new place if I can.  We had completed 2 sides of the 3 we were going to ride around, before heading off toward a corn field, when Red had his accident.  Running full tilt up from the pasture, he slipped and fell flat on his side right at the gate, sliding into the (open) gate, and getting his hind legs (one or both, I'm not sure) caught between the rails.  The gate came off, and fell on top of him, and after what seemed an enormously long time, he got himself free, jumped to his feet, and ran off toward the barn end of the pen.  Rhio froze when the commotion occurred, and I had to jump off and try to lead him toward thrashing Red, which he was a bit reluctant to do.  Luckily, there were several people around as some of the others were getting ready to haul out to an indoor arena to ride.  We all rushed to the scene, and Red was so worked up he just couldn't stop moving or let me touch him.  He was at least weight bearing on all 4 limbs and there were no major cuts.  I had led tacked-up Rhio right into the pen with him to try to get him to calm down.  After hurriedly untacking, I took both horses into the barn to assess Red's injuries.  All I could find were a few superficial (but bloody) scrapes on his right fetlock.  Nothing was swollen (yet) and so I put the two of them into the outdoor arena to move around a bit and let the adrenaline subside (for all of us.) 

About an hour after it happened, Red was calm and had a little heat in the fetlock with the scrapes but seemed otherwise ok.  I am sure he is body sore, and gave him a little Bute to help with that.  I also spent some quiet time meticulously combing out his tail - an activity sure to calm my mind, and it seems to have the same effect for him as well. 

So, now what?  I am thinking through several scenarios to cope with his attachment to Rhio.  He has fallen in love with a mare in the adjoining pen, who happens to be stalled at night, and so was not in the pen next door when I took Rhio out to ride.  I will try ponying him the next time I go, so he doesn't feel left behind again immediately, but I also think that perhaps riding while that mare is outside would be beneficial.  We shall see.  He does not mind being the horse leaving the herd, and going out alone, but being the one left simply overwhelms him.  I sure know that I will be getting a 3rd equine ASAP if I am ever able to take them home to live someday!  Having just 2 won't be an option, clearly. 

Interestingly, this has been a trait of his since the day I bought him, 12 years ago.  Very shortly after bringing him home, I had to suture up a cut on a front leg, acquired by sliding into the fence when his 2 buddies left to go for a ride.  If I look carefully, riffling the hair up, I can still find the scar.  The falling down part also seems to be a theme - and not one I particularly enjoy! 

It is a scary thing when your horse has an accident.  It's especially scary to watch it happen, in the slowest of slow motion of course, and know there is absolutely nothing you can do about it whatsoever.  Thankfully, he seems just fine and tomorrow will be a new day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Well-Socialized Ponies

Red and Rhio have moved again - about 3 hours south of their previous home in the northwoods of Wisconsin, to the Green Bay/Appleton area.  (Obviously, C., I, and the dogs have moved as well!) As expected, my adaptable boys have settled right in.  They trailered with ease (many thanks to friends B. and T. for taking a day and their rig to move them!) and we arrived at their new barn after dark.  I don't generally recommend arriving at night, but this time of year, with sunset at 4 pm, it just couldn't be helped.  They moved into their own paddock and went straight to eating hay and having a good roll. 

We all think about socializing puppies at a young age, making sure our dogs are good canine citizens, exposed to lots of different experiences and able to live among us humans companionably.  Does anyone think about socializing horses?  I suppose some do - but mostly we think about training them to a specific discipline, to instilling good ground manners so that us puny humans can handle animals many times our size without harm, to bending their flight-or-flight prey instincts and wandering ways to fit into our nice neat boxes.  After years of boarding in different places, trailering in different trailers with unfamiliar horses, camping at endurance rides, and sharing the trails with numerous unknown equines, I would say my boys are also well socialized.  They play well with others, horse and human alike.  They get along.  They are relaxed in new environments.  They are easy for anyone to handle.  They adapt to new food sources and methods of feeding, to new water and waterers/tanks/buckets/etc, to new types of fencing and shelter, to new routines, and to new buddies with ease.  I am very lucky.  And they give the Arabian breed a good name - as many folks unfamiliar with Arabs, or only familiar with the 'hot' show Arabs, would never expect them to be so dependable, so predictable, so unflappable, so resilient, so personable, and so calm. 

Meeting new friends across the fence

Paying attention to the new stuff here

Play time!

Love the ears shot!

Yup - life is good.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Today is Thanksgiving - my favorite holiday.  I have been a little "Scrooge-y" today, however, as C and I are spending it alone with the dogs.  He is on call, and so we need to be close to the clinic.  We were invited to share meals here, but the on call prevents us from accepting those invitations.  And so, it is our first Thanksgiving without any family to share it with.  Boo.

However, I took the dogs for a nice walk in the quiet chill of the late afternoon, listened to the snow squeak beneath my mukluks, and breathed in the scent of fresh snow, pine, and cold air. 

How could I be anything but thankful?  I couldn't.  And so here is just a small piece of my life's bounty that I am thankful for - my horses.

Red and Rhio are the best.  I am biased, of course, but they have been my anchor in the stormy sea many times.  They are my escape from the rat race - you can't be with horses and do anything except live in the here and now.  They are my ticket to adventure and exploration - what better way to find out what's around the next bend than from the back of my horse?  They quiet my mind and busy my body - grooming, feeding, picking hooves, blanketing, unblanketing, walking to and fro, scooping poo, stacking hay, filling water, cleaning tack, and of course riding.  They introduce me to new people; everywhere I've lived, I have met "horse people" and developed friendships that will last a lifetime.  They fill my heart to overflowing with their nickers, their soft eyes, and their mere presence.  A deep inhale of horsey scent does wonders for my soul. 

Getting ready in the barn.  I love this pic because they are each entirely comfortable (see the resting hind legs?) in their own space, sharing that space with each other, and paying attention to me, too (see the ears pointed in my direction?)

Last day before WI gun deer season - and so our last ride out until the hunters have left the woods in 9 days' time.

Exploring the snowy trails, checking out the deer tracks, rubs, beds, and spots where they've pawed for grass beneath the snow.  So much to see and learn from the back of a horse!

Nothing can beat the peace and quiet, ambling through the snow perfectly in tune with your mount and companion.

Getting ready to put blankets back on post-ride.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It'll Get Me Through

Perfect for zooming!
Last Thursday I had one of those great rides that has stuck with me in the week since then.  I'm quite sure it'll be one of those rides that will get me through the long, cold winter, just by remembering the feel of my horse breathing and moving beneath me, the smell of his sweat in my nose, the view between his pricked ears, his energy and enthusiasm to get down the trail, and the pure concentration and attention required of me to be in the moment utterly and completely with him.  And to intensify all of the above sensations, I had Red along ponying, too - so it was doubly memorable, doubly pleasurable, doubly wonderful. 

Last Thursday I had no agenda and no time constraints.  I knew I wanted to explore what lay beyond Highway K.  And so off we went!  It was a brisk day.  The wind was bringing with it the first snow of the season (overnight a couple inches fell); both the horses and the wildlife knew, as we saw many grouse, several deer, bald eagles, squirrels, and even a fisher flashed its dark, lithe body away from us through the forest.  The horses wanted to *move* and so move we did.

We found insanely beautiful cantering (or galloping) trails.  They were the perfect packed sandy footing, with a smooth surface but enough spring to cushion our hoofbeats.  Pine trees mostly lined the two-track lanes, and kept us focused forward and on course.  I thought we'd just have a nice, comfortable long trot.  The boys had another idea entirely.  Zoom, zoom we went, zipping along at a very forward pace, the boys cantering in step with each other but not racing.  I did briefly wonder about the wisdom of flying down the trail with two horses under my (pseudo)control, as flashes of wild turkeys jumping out in front of us passed in front of my brain.  However, there was no talking the boys out of their run.  Two manes were flying, two tails were flagging in the wind we created, and we cantered a 3 mile stretch effortlessly. 

We explored an out-and-back snowmobile trail as far as we could before the bog through which we were traveling engulfed the trail ahead of us.  We startled a county guy who was out picking up trash (oops).  We trotted and cantered and walked and paused occasionally for a bite of grass.  We three existed in our own space, united, for the afternoon.  We traveled the trail together; the harmony between us was magical.This is why I ride endurance - these moments of perfect union with my horse, the shared experience and desire. To share those moments with both my horses at the same time was really amazing. We made it home before dark. 
The first opportunity to take my hands off the reins for a moment and snap a pic - 9 miles into our 14+ mile day.

Cooling out and mowing the lawn

Snack stop - the boys are mugging me for carrots

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Best Way To Go for a Beer With a Friend

Hello, November - you did arrive in style, I suppose.  All dressed up for Halloween, anyway - in fresh snow and way below average temps.  I think it was technically above freezing today, though my toes wouldn't agree. 

Not quite unbroken snow, as two someones had been walking here before us.  But truly enticing, nonetheless.
About midday, and with a glorious amount of sunshine beaming down upon us, Red and I headed off with M. and her Paint mare Twister.  This is actually Red's first ridden outing since moving here, as I have been taking both horses with Red ponying up until this point.  Before getting to the farm, I stopped at a feed store hoping to find a performance feed.  No such luck - everyone around here would be happy to order something for me, but my choices off-the-shelf are pretty slim.  At least I can readily get beet pulp!  So instead of keeping is as simple as possible for M. to feed my boys (just soaked beet pulp and a pelleted feed, in differing amounts for each of them, plus MSM supplement for Red), they're now getting beet pulp plus plain oats (what they were both eating at home, and a favorite combination of mine), and Rhio additionally gets stabilized rice bran.  So hopefully it's still not too complicated or too much mixing!  I try not to be one of *those* horse people that boards her horses and makes all sorts of demands.  This stop let me make up a tub of goodness for Rhio, so that as we rode out, he had deliciousness to occupy him.  I am not sure if I'll try leaving Red behind or not - he has a history of panicking when left "alone," and I can't guarantee that the herd would stay close enough to the fence to keep him company.  Rhio may not prefer to be left alone, but especially with food in front of him, he seems to handle it just fine. 

After encountering a camouflaged (buried slightly under freshly disturbed dirt) coyote trap right along the trail - thank goodness M. told me what it was - I'll be a little more careful in guiding my horses around anything that looks like that in the future.  (The trapper is on their land with permission, by the way. So no concern there, but it is nice to know where the traps are so I can stay away, and certainly not take Kelso out there with me.)  Red was more than happy to show Twister the way to go about the business of getting down the trail, and the inch or two of snow from Thursday night just made for a delightfully quiet, soft ride.  We got the occasional dump of snow in our laps from overhanging branches, but mostly it was really quite lovely to ride in.  I'm not sure how I feel about day two of snow this early in the season (really, it should just melt this time of year), but it was pretty. 

We did a little exploring along the way, generally covering the trails I've become familiar with in my solo outings.  After a few hours, and with swiftly approaching full-numbness in my toes, we opted for an excursion to town.   The trails connect to the town park, and just a bit down the road from there is a friendly little local bar.  This IS Wisconsin, after all!  This bar conveniently has a hitching rail, and we took ourselves inside for a beer (and, yes, to use the ladies room, and thaw out our appendages.)  The presence of horses outside the door lured about 1/3 of the bar patrons out for a look-see (and a few asked permission to go pet them, and feed them sugar lumps.) 
At the hitching rail
We hit the trail for home with just enough time to arrive before sunset.  Nothing can beat an afternoon spent astride a good mount, with the trail bending away ahead of you, and excellent companionship.  A beer along the way doesn't hurt, either. 
Rhio waits for his brother to return.
Cutie pie knows I've got his supper.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Map in my Head

Red ponies along
Ride two on my new home trails was just as fantastic as the first.  I briefly contemplated a nap this afternoon, but the sun was shining and I just couldn't pass that up.  Fifty minutes from the time I left my house, I was in the saddle (pretty good considering it's a 27 mile trip to the farm.) 

I love that I have options about which route to take coming and going from the property - I don't like the horses to get too attached to "the way home" - I have enough trouble with overly exuberant ponies when homeward bound already!  We headed out down the driveway, which meant passing between the pasture with 5 full grown Angus steers, and the pen with the 4 Angus calves.  As far as Rhio is concerned, you can never be too careful when it comes to cows!  Red lived with cows (Angus, even) across the fence for 9 years and couldn't care less about them. 
The view
Once safely past the scary cows, we cut up one of the farm trails and paused for a view back across the pastures and toward the house.  This is such a lovely piece of property - I am truly fortunate to have access to riding here.  The trail winds generally north and east, up and down a few hills, and with broad spans of now-nude maples, big oaks with their chestnut-colored leaves still clinging, and a few bright yellow aspens  hanging on to their color. 
Farm trails
Meeting up with the trails I rode on Sunday, the horses knew exactly where they were and off we went.  At the very first intersection, though, I turned us right instead of left.  This took us directly out to a gravel/dirt road, which is a loop and doesn't go anywhere - it is merely hunter and logging access to the county land.  Red did not care for walking on the rocks, and so we fairly slowly progressed around the loop.  I was searching for a snowmobile trail that continued north, and which I've been told goes for "miles" without anything I can't cross.  I am anxious to test this theory, as sometimes a trail rider's definition of "miles" is slightly different than an endurance rider's (no offense meant).  We found the snowmobile trail, and explored up a ways, until it crossed the next county highway.  Although the path continued directly across the asphalt, and it was oh-so-tempting, I had to leave that exploration for another day (and more daylight). 
Road loop
Retracing our steps, we completed the road loop (about 2.5 miles total on the road) and headed back home along our now-familiar trails.  I have now ridden out here three times (once, the first, trail riding with M.) and have studied the basic map a bit.  All the entry points to the trails have metal map-signs with a "you are here" indicator, which is very helpful.  I also use my RunKeeper app on my phone while I ride, which not only acts as a GPS to give me time and distance, it also makes a little map for me of my route.  Now, I have a map in my head, and besides figuring out a few of the inner cut-offs within the loops, I think I have it pretty well down.  The horses certainly do!  I have always been a person that needs to look at a map of a place, and then can visualize the map in my head.  With just a little experience, now I can create routes to achieve whatever riding or conditioning goal(s) I may have for a particular day.  These trails are now familiar territory and my next explore will definitely be continuing up the snowmobile trail into new places! 

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Well, the big move finally happened and Red and Rhio are happily living at their new boarding place in Wisconsin.  I brought them down 4 days ago, in a borrowed rig (a HUGE thank you to G. for lending me her truck and trailer for the move), and they have been settling in very nicely.  They have their own grassy paddock, and share a fenceline with the 6 resident horses, who admittedly seem much more interested in my boys than Red and Rhio are interested in the herd.  They share their paddock periodically with a few guinea hens, and elsewhere on the farm live a handful of black Angus steers and a flock of laying hens.  Wildlife neighbors include deer and wild turkeys.  The boys act like they've seen it all before - which except for the guineas, I think they have.  I've been visiting daily to feed them their beet pulp mashes (Rhio's full feed pan and Red's mere handful) while the farm owners (M. and K.) have been gone for the weekend.  This has been a perfect excuse to make the 50+ mile round trip commute, since I would have been fretting too much without laying eyes and hands on them every day during the transition.  Yep, just label me an overprotective horse mom, and you've about got it. 
Standing at the hitching rail, as viewed through the overhanging barn roof.
 Today was a day that I just couldn't pass up - sunshine, warmth, fall colors still present albeit past peak, and no agenda.  It was the perfect afternoon to ride! Being as they are still living as a pair, and not yet integrated into the herd, I knew that taking Rhio out for a ride would have left Red in a panic, probably working himself into quite a state while left behind.  Shortly after I bought him, 12 years ago next month, he slide into a fence in his panic at being left behind, and I had to suture up his fetlock.  I'd really rather not repeat that, and so my choice was to ride him and leave Rhio behind (my best guess is that he wouldn't be recklessly agitated, but I don't know for sure), or take them both.  What?! How can you ride two horses, Taryn?  Well, dear reader, I ride one and bring the other along with a halter and lead (called "ponying"). 
Both boys, both their shadows, and me, too!
Ponying can be an adventure.  It is something I have done relatively frequently with these boys, although not usually at a conditioning (i.e. fast) pace.  For whatever reason, things go much more smoothly if I ride Rhio and pony Red.  Minor chaos occurs if I ride Red and pony Rhio.  Both horses are comfortable around ropes, and don't freak out if the rope ends up somewhere unexpected (like under a tail!).  Also, they are used to traveling at speed with other horses, and don't get too excited by the pace (usually).  And, of course, they get along very well together.  However, they do both like to lead - and so although the pony-er should be the leader and the pony-ee should follow at about the shoulder, that's not exactly how it always goes with these two. 
Red's eager to go!
Decked out in blaze orange (there was a youth deer hunt on this weekend, meaning kids with guns would be in the woods - but I also timed the ride to coincide with the Packers game, which pretty much guaranteed I wouldn't see a single soul out there - and that turned out to be the case), and with gloves on to protect my hands during episodes of exuberance, should they occur, I climbed aboard and off we went. 
Headed to the neighboring property.
The boys were forward and interested in their new surroundings, and we walked along the trail between the home farm and the neighboring property (also owned by M. and K.), traversed the farmyard next door, and walked past the field of Scottish Highland cattle (with some extra alertness on Rhio's part, as the non-cattle-lover of the pair), before heading off into the woods on the farm trails.  Up a hill, down the other side, and around a bit leads us to the county land north of the farm.  This land is full of trails designated specifically as hunter/hiker walking trails and are strictly non-motorized.  The county keeps them mowed, even, and the conditions are spectacular for moving out.  The only obstacles are a few downed limbs here and there; there are absolutely no mud or wet areas, and it is clear sailing to trot and canter to your heart's content.  Wahoo!!!  I feel like I've hit the training trail jackpot! 
Snack stop (they're mobbing me for itchy head rubs!)
I rode these trails a few weeks ago, riding K.'s horse Lucky and riding with M. and some of her friends, so I had a basic familiarity with them.  Both horses were relaxed and moving nicely at a trot, though Red is a stronger hill horse and would take the lead by a nose going up hill.  We took a break about 4 miles in, and I dismounted to get us safely around a gate and out onto a sandy road, which would loop us back to the trail.  Heading back into the woods, both boys knew they were "going home."  Ay-yi-yi!!!  Try maintaining a reasonable pace and directing two horses to make the right turns, while having only one hand per horse to do so.  Red wanted to lead, so the arm I was using to hold him got a workout trying to keep him back.  Rhio wanted to go faster, faster, faster, so the arm I was using on his reins got a workout keeping him in check.  Finally, after hitting the home trails once again, we had to just walk in the rest of the way as my arms felt like jelly and the boys showed no inclination to slow down on their own.  They are great, though, because if I ask them to walk, they do, easily and without any shenanigans.  It is just while trotting and cantering that they sometimes think they know best how fast to go.  And so, we did a little exploring, a little sweating, a little bonding, and a lot of endorphin-releasing riding for our first Wisconsin outing.  I can't wait for my next ride!!!
Back in their paddock post-ride.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Horsie Time

It doesn't get much better than this!
Wow, finally just a smudge of time to do with as I desire. It's been a whirlwind the past month moving ourselves, the dogs, and our stuff to our new home - separately and in multiple stages. The horses are the last to move, and are still in Duluth. This was my second trip back to see my patients, and the first time I've gotten to ride in over a month. Add in a gorgeous fall morning, leaves turning, bluebird sky, and peaceful woods trails to share with just my four legged companions,  and you've got a recipe for delight.

After methodically brushing every inch of his thickening coat, and every strand of his mane and tail, I was already feeling the horsie time glow (or, was that just the coating of white hairs all over me reflecting the sunlight?).  We set off on the Spirit Mountain trails, for both the first and the last time this year. The trails have been so wet when I have had time to ride, that we have done more road riding than anything this year.

The grass is still green and the hills are still steep, and we took our time going up and down, Rhio munching and me drinking in the blue sky and creamy pale orange of the newly turning maples. There is so much color this time of year - the palette of early fall is mesmerizing. With Kelso and a few songbirds for company, we made a loop around the trails and ventured back to the barn just in time to meet C for Rhio's chiropractic adjustment.
Zoomie boys

Puddle water is the tastiest, of course, and,yes, the sky really was that blue!

I had previously noticed a mildly alarming 'clunking' noise when Rhio ate; luckily, the dentist was already coming the following week.  Although I was not there for his dental work, it was reported to me that his right side jaw and neck were really tight (no surprise- his right side is always his problem side) and the dental issues he had were relatively mild.  Also, they could not elicit the 'clunking.'  Enter plan B for elucidating, or at least eliminating, the 'clunking' - chiropractic and acupuncture treatment of course!  C was able to squeeze Rhio in for an adjustment a week later when I was home, and she also found plenty of "stuff" on the right.
This is what happens when you are trying to take a pic with one hand, while holding your horse's lead rope for a chiro adjustment in the other.  Neat angle, though!

Yup, work on the right side.

Oh, yeah - that's the tight spot!
After also getting his shoes pulled and feet trimmed, I had to run off to see a paying patient.  Later, I returned and finished up Rhio's big day with an acupuncture session.  Too bad he doesn't like acupuncture!  He is one of the few horses I've worked on that truly doesn't like it.  I bribe him with food, and it generally works pretty well.  I try not to be offended at his dislike for acupuncture, even though he LOVES chiropractic adjustments and massage. I did get a chance to listen to him chew for a while, though, what with the bribing and all - and the good news is, no 'clunking'! 
Some of Rhio's needles - see the bent and twisted ones?  Sometimes that is due to muscle movement while the needles are in place, and sometimes it is due to a big energetic Qi release at the needle.
The next morning, before departing yet again, I stopped by for a quick snuggle and a few "carrot" stretches for Rhio's neck.  We practice our stretching A LOT and he totally "gets" it - after yesterday's sessions, he can reach a treat held at his hip on both sides!  I'll be gone for almost 2 weeks, so hopefully he'll keep himself moving about and his neck limber.  I cannot wait to have him nearby (the new boarding place is 27 miles away, but it's awesome) and be able to do this little routine maintenance stuff - as well as regular riding again! 
Rhio shows off how well the right side of his neck bends for his 'carrot stretches.' Treat hound!