King had about a month where he was not feeling his best. He was off at the walk- not totally lame, but definitely not normal. Some days he would seem okay and then the next day he would be gimpy again. I didn’t ride him during that time, of course. I wondered if he was telling me that he was never going to be a riding horse, if his body was too far gone to handle the work load of being ridden. I was depressed about it for sure, because I love that horse and I enjoy riding him.
He started to improve and eventually got back to normal, but I still hadn’t ridden him because I didn’t want to cause a setback. One afternoon we had planned to take Baron and Aaron out on a ride and leave King and Donkey behind. Well. King was not having it. He threw a fit about being left behind, hollering at the gate and throwing his head around, so I ended up taking him out and riding him. He felt fabulous! It was the best he’s ever felt. He charged down the driveway toward the trail like he was ready for some action.
My best guess is that the Christmas parade ride we did messed him up. We rode on pavement for 4 miles, and I think the concussion on the concrete was too much for him. Amish horses are ridden miles every day on pavement and it beats them up. King doesn’t have shoes anymore, and it was too much for him. Lesson learned! Stay off the pavement! What I took away from that experience is that King is definitely NOT ready to retire, and he WANTS to have a job.
We have been riding a few minutes in the arena here and there as well. When we first started riding in the arena, he didn’t want to leave the gate and acted like he did not understand the point of walking around in a big circle. He pretty much told me it was stupid and he would like to go back to the barn. Now he will go all over the arena and make big circles and seems to understand that we do this every now and then. He will still head back for the gate, but I can turn him and get him to go around the ring again. It’s all part of his education as a riding horse.
He has gained a significant amount of weight and he is looking mighty fine. He still needs to fatten up along his topline, but he is looking more like a normal horse and less like a pitiful rescue. I can’t wait for spring, when he will shed out his winter coat and be sleek and shiny and dappled. He really is a beautiful horse!