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Friday, July 10, 2009

Working with Echo.

Yesterday evening I made some progress with Echo thanks to medication...for me, not him. I don't like to complain but my sarcoidosis became a lot worse a few months ago and has significantly effected the way I work with my horses.

I tried a different treatment (minocycline) and it made me very ill with headaches and almost constant sleeping. So I tried just going without meds and relying on heavy duty pain killers when I had to do something important. About three weeks ago my muscles and joints became so inflamed, weak and painful I needed help getting up out of a chair and I have been pulling myself up and down the stairs sideways one at a time. The scary part is I seem to have it in my eyes now. I started taking steroids a couple of weeks ago and it has helped a great deal. Anyway yesterday I was like a drug fiend. Not only did I talk my daily dose of 'roids but I took a heavy duty (indomethacin) industrial strength anti inflammatory and to top it off I took a narcotic pain killer. Wow, it took me a while to realize it but I was pain free for once and not all stoved up.

I thought I'd just walk over and visit the horses as it was a nice cool evening. One thing led to another and the next thing I know I'm working Echo.. really working the stinker. I had him doing some nice circles at a relaxed walk and beautiful smooth trot. What a handsome well put together horse he is. He'd be so smooth to ride. I had him changing directions as nice as could be. I'd change him at a calm walk and it was so different than the old days when he was flying around in a panic.

I took advantage of being able to move and had him doing nothing but pivoting on his back legs. I noticed he was exposing his shoulder to me more when I let him rest. He has always been very careful not to stand sideways to me. So I herded him into the little pen. He was facing the wrong way and turning him would have been risking him exploding, so I let him leave. The second time he was facing the right way but Foxsun, being very clever and seeing I had a bag of baby carrots, decided he'd push gates open and come and join us. He made it through the first gate so I had to sort him out.

Third time lucky. Echo stood in the right place with Foxsun right next to him on the other side of the fence. I pushed the wing gate towards him. His back legs were splayed out and so I couldn't get the gate as close to him as I would have liked. The last thing I wanted to do was have the gate touch his leg. I pushed my arm through the gate and touched him! Except for Fox we were alone and I didn't even have my cell phone with me. The sun had set and there were coyotes singing in every direction. It was perfect being so very tranquil and calm. I managed to reach his shoulder, chest, neck up to his throat latch. I wish I could have reached up to his withers and given him one of my world (well ranch) famous back rubs. I couldn't get the gate closer because of his leg sticking out. He was frozen with the look of a rabbit caught by a dog...unhurt but in shock. I was trying to snap him out of it by pushing a carrot into his tightly sealed mouth and just talking to him. He did give me a few very quick looks though.

The mosquitoes were biting him all over and he wanted to rub his foreleg very bad, so I stood back and let him. But when he lowered his head his back leg must have touched the gate and he exploded all over the place. Being able to move better I pulled the gate away so he never crashed into it adding to his panic. He ran back into to the big corral and I followed. He was walking backwards with me following him. I had my hands behind my back and was bent down. Every time I caught up with him I kissed his nose. It really messed with his mind because he really liked it yet he couldn't help himself from walking backwards. I followed him into the alley and cornered him.. again I approached him bent over hands behind my back. I didn't stop until our foreheads were touching and so we stood forelock to forelock like old friends. If I tried to touch him he would have detonated so we just stood quietly in the darkness. Very nice.

What a difference being able to move makes. My fear of working close with Echo all stems from the fact I couldn't move very good, not to mention the pain. I have been warned by several docs not to take the indomethacin very often so I just save it for special occasions when I need it feel like my old self a bit more.

Another note about Echo; he's an incredible horse, not only intelligent but so handsome. I taught him to bump up (bump my knuckles with his nose) and Brad has been doing it with him before he eats his hay. Brad tosses his hay into his tub and tells him to "bump up" and Echo bumps his hand before he eats. I was watching them the other day when Brad tossed his hay in and then got distracted, with his hand resting on the fence board he was looking at something else. Echo walked up and bumped Brads hand three times before putting his head down and eating his hay. That made us laugh. Another time I was standing in the way of his feed tub when Brad told him to "bump up". He couldn't (wouldn't) walk around me to reach Brads knuckles so he gently bumped me in the back three times when he heard the words 'bump up'. He's such a darling horse.

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