Saturday, November 13, 2010
Horse Stuff--Part Three-Lowdown
Here’s the lowdown on Lowdown. I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. Lowdown. I named him that because of the Boz Skaggs song and because I thought it sounded cool. Lowdown. How lowww can you go? That’s how you say it. Lowww. Like Barry White growling in love songs low.
I wonder if there are any people around here who listen to Barry White who aren’t black? The only stations on the radio are country stations. That’s all fine and good. I can dig country, especially when I’m on my way to a barrel race. But that’s all you can get. Thank God I got the Sirius radio in the new truck and I’m tuned into Barry White again. Why just this morning I even heard the Fifth Dimension, Melissa Manchester, and Tony Orlando and Dawn. I suppose when I get out of the diesel-taking dually in my red-and-black checked jacket and camouflage sweatpants that the guys in the pickup trucks next to me think I’m one of them. Then they hear the radio. I don’t turn it down when I get out. I leave it blasting for all to hear. That’s got to throw them for a loop.
Okay, I’m done making an excuse to mention the new truck.
Lowdown. I’m afraid something’s up with him. First, I couldn’t transition him to natural, barefoot trimming like I do with all my horses. For months, he walked around like he was on broken glass. That surprised me because when I used to have him in Jersey, I pulled his shoes after every Showdeo season and then I’d go out and ride him the very next day and he never took an ouchy step. But here, I couldn’t get him to transition no matter what I did. Biotin, Easy Boots, Venice turpentine, conditioners, deep bedding—nothing worked. Finally I told the farrier to just put the shoes back on him.
Now granted, we had a couple of issues that I didn’t have in Jersey. His heels were contracted when I got him back and his angles were a little off. Also, it’s very hard and rocky here, whereas in Jersey it’s soft and sandy. However, I still didn’t expect that we wouldn’t be able to do it. I was even able to transition Doc, who had the worst feet in the world! But I couldn’t transition Lowdown. So we put the shoes back on and he walked a hundred percent better.
But that’s not the only thing. He looks funny to me when he lopes. He’s short strided and it’s kind of like he lugs his backend behind him. The people who had him these past seven years had done western pleasure with him so maybe that’s all it is—I’m not used to that slow western pleasure lope. To me, it looks crippled. I’m not sure if what I’m seeing is a western pleasure thing or he really is crippled. It’s nothing blatant. But I feel like something’s not right. I scrutinize him in the round pen and think I saw him take a funny step but maybe he didn’t take a funny step and maybe if he did take a funny step, maybe he stepped on a rock because even with the shoes back on (fronts only) he can still make contact with the rocks on the ground and the farrier did say his soles are thin. All this runs through my head.
Then I’ve got people sitting back and waiting, rubbing the hair on their chins waiting for me to reveal that Mr. Hart unloaded this horse on me because there’s something wrong with him. I know that’s silly. Mr. Hart knew I would take this horse back if he was three-legged lame and ready for the glue factory. I attached that promise right to his papers when I sold him the horse. I said, “If Lowdown ever needs a home, no matter what, if he’s old and broken-down lame, he always has a home with me.” I was thinking about the horror stories I’ve heard about famous horses who had been rescued at the sale and the rescuers couldn’t believe it when they pulled up a lip and discovered their skinny rescue who almost went to slaughter was related to a great horse like Secretariat. And those like Ferdinand, who actually ended up on somebody’s dinner plate in another country because he went from owner to owner to owner until finally no one knew who he was or what he had done, or cared, and he was slaughtered. There were many times I was sitting at the sale and I’d see what was obviously a fancy show horse in a previous life, or a wonderful kid’s pony and I wondered, how did he end up here? Do his old owners, who he had obviously served well, know what has become of him? I didn’t want that to happen to Lowdown someday. So I attached that note to his papers and I contacted Mr. Hart every time I moved to give them my new address so that they would always be able to reach me if he ever needed a home. That’s why Mr. Hart gave him to me. Because he knew I loved him that much. Not because he was trying to unload an unsound horse. But still. The skeptics keep putting thoughts in my head… Who gives away a beautiful ten thousand dollar horse to a stranger?!
Of course it’s possible, if there is anything wrong with Lowdown, Mr. Hart is unaware of it. After his daughter had lost interest the last few years, they leased him out to other kids in the stable and who knows what kind of shenanigans might have gone on? No one takes care of your horse like you do. Perhaps they didn’t condition him and they rode him too hard? Perhaps he was “off” and they were kids, they were too busy playing trick rider and event jumper and they didn’t notice so they kept riding him? It was a jumping stable. Jumping and western pleasure and dressage—all the things the rich kids do. It’s possible Lowdown has some wear-and-tear issues and Mr. Hart has no idea.
I want to find out. Does he have anything going on pain-wise or is he just being bad? He came back to me spoiled. He’s done a few things he hasn’t done since he was two-years-old. He’s done a few new things. He doesn’t like his forelock brushed. He’s cinchy. He’s nippy on the cross-ties. He won’t load. (Even though he’s been in this particular trailer a hundred times and never gave me a problem before.) And he’s bucked a couple of times. On top of that, I know nothing about this western pleasure training he’s got under his belt.
So before I push him to perform, I want to make sure it’s just him being spoiled or me not understanding what he’s been trained to do, and not pain. So I have the vet coming over next week. I told him to bring the X-ray machine. If there are any questions, I’m going to tell him to dig. I know they think I’m one of those crazy Yankees who keep horses in heated barns (I don’t know any Yankees who keep horses in heated barns) because when the receptionist asked me where he was lame, I said, “Well, he’s not actually lame.” Then she asked what actually the problem was and I had to admit I don’t even know if there is a problem. I just want to make sure. I know that threw them for a loop.