Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Guinness Update

Let's face it. Everyone needs more regal old red horse in their life.
If you remember, I retired Guinness back in August. At the same time he transitioned to a local equine therapy facility, and they started gradually introducing him to life as a therapy horse.

I have to admit, that transition did not start off spectacularly well. At first, Pig was upset about moving farms. He was very spooky and a bit reactive. Looking back, I think there were a couple of things I could have changed to make the process smoother and much faster.
"Look at this house! How could you not be spooked at this place?! It's clearly haunted AF." -- Pig, commenting on the settings of his new farm
When he first moved over to the farm, I didn't show up very often. I wanted him to come to rely on the workers at the new farm and not look to me so much. This, I think was my biggest mistake. Without me there, he was sure he'd been abandoned in the wrong place. He took forever to settle in. When I would come visit him, he'd try to drag me down the hill and back "home". 
"No, lady! This is NOT home. Home is that-a-way!" -- Pig, probably
Along with not showing up often, I also didn't ride him. Again, I did this for a reason. I didn't want to push him to maintain the same level of responsiveness and fitness that he had while in full work. That level of fitness seemed a bit counter productive when it came time to train him to handle less coordinated riders. Instead, I think I should have tried to come out and ride him gently but regularly. This would have let him down physically while not making him think he'd been forgotten. Having a job is such a big part of his psyche; I think not having work to look forward to made him a bit upset and think too much about his situational changes.
"This field is nice and all, but what even is my life now?"
When the spooking issues started cropping up in work with the therapy handlers, I realized I needed to get more involved. Plus, Pig was physically in need of more work. His arthritis was flaring up badly and he was starting to look like ... well a pregnant broodmare!
Horse equivalent of the out-of-work pro-sports player who balloons up in weight without his regular workouts to keep him svelte. Either that or he's due to foal literally any day now... Seriously he's massive.
In an effort to keep Pig happy and healthier, I put together a plan. Being just across the street from my regular boarding farm, I knew I had a ton of options to get him out and worked. We've been diving right in!

First, we cut fatty-cakes grain down to a literal handful of ration balancer...
Basically the horse equivalent of rice cakes for dinner.
Then I instituted regular rides, including hacks down the roads...
"These are very scary trees, and I am sure they eat horses. I will definitely try to deposit your bareback riding behind onto the concrete 30 thousand times as we stroll through here. Prepare yourself." -- Pig
"La, la, la! I love being outside!" -- Lyra
Plus, we go for long hacks on the same trails we used to use...
"Why do you make me stand in this disgusting wet stuff?" -- Pig
"OMG! A FISHIE!" -- Lyra
We school in the outdoor ring at the therapy place, getting used to the different footing...
I swear to god we both knew what we were doing at one point in our lives. Also, who has time for saddles and actual riding boots? NOT I.
We ride in the indoor, where he does most of his therapy work, tackling the spooky pigeons roosting in the rafters...
"Mom the birds are SO SCARY. You have NO IDEA." -- Pig
We take advantage of any small amount of time or ability I have to get in a ride, even if it means not taking time to even put a bridle on...
"You know without a bridle that I'm totally just going to haul ass up hills, right?" --Pig, telling it how it is.
Sometimes we don't really work at all...
"This is great. Can this be my job now?" -- Pig
"Oh holy jesus! I'm totally going to fall off the front of him!" -- Me, dying of a sinus infection
And sometimes Pig gets to play big brother to Baybuilt, leading the way on adventures like the old pro he is...
"He says he knows what he's doing, but I dunno if I should trust him..." -- Baybuilt
"Shut up and follow his example, Child." -- Me
As time went on and rides continued, Pig finally started to settle in and his reactivity and spookiness began to wear off. His arthritis is still a bit of an issue if he doesn't get ridden regularly enough through the week, but the program has a couple of people working on getting him out and moving more often. The workers there think it's hysterical that I come out and ride him bareback in a double bridle. It's the only bridle and bit setup I have that currently fit him, so that's just what we use.
#mobiletackroom
Having two horses at two separate farms, even this close together is rather time consuming. Plus my car is even more cluttered than before with all my extra tack and riding gear packed in the back for Pig. Still, it's so worth it to see the old man happy and appreciated in his new place.

Best of all? Two weeks ago he did his first lesson in the program, and did great! At the moment it looks like things are looking good for his future. Hopefully with a little work, he continues to enjoy his new life.
I'm so proud of you, my bestest oldest friend.

14 comments:

  1. Thanks for the update! Red heads have their opinions on how things should be.

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  2. Yay, he looks amazing and look at you bareback. I would be on the ground for sure :) HA. I am so glad you updated about him I was wondering how he was doing! And PIGEONS are the worse. Emily has them in her arena and Remus SPOOKS at them all the time. Plus they are stupid AF and land in front of said horse and can't figure out how to get out of the way. WTF :) HA HA Hope you are feeling better now and have a voice again!!

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  3. Aw, old man <3

    I love how the staff is working with you to help keep him happy and mobile. Fingers crossed he's less brood-marey in the near future ;-)

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  4. Awwww bless him! He sounds like he needs you to come visit and ride him just so he mentally feels safe there. Glad the first lesson went well!

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  5. So glad that this situation is working out with these tweaks ☺️

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  6. We love you Pig!! The fanciest, bestest therapy horse EVAH!

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  7. Awe :) So happy for you two. What a lovely retirement plan

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  8. Aw I'm glad you found a program that works for you both!

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  9. Hah, poor Pig says life changes are hard, yo! I feel you, man. I feel you <3

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  10. I'm glad you were able to step in and gear up a new plan for the old man <3

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  11. So glad you're finding the right balance for him. He's a complicated guy.

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  12. So cool to see the pictures of you guys having fun together :)

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  13. Hi austen! I've been reading for a while now, I think it's great that pig is learning to make others' lives a little brighter. And I drive an outback too hehe. They make great mobile tack rooms. When my saddle is in tow I place it across the top of the back seat. Perfect saddle rack. Hoping pig, baybuilt & you all continue to thrive :)

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  14. Aww Piggers!! Looking a little rounder but still fantastic in retirement! :)

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