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.


Jeff said...

I got your reply to my test message, but I can't reply - what's up with AOL??? Is it just me, with a new hosting company, or are other people having issues, too? I can't send you pictures from my trip!!

Sweetflutterbys3 said...

Oh Debi, I swear, you made me laugh with the bit about the music. You and I have exactly the same taste in music (gotta love those 70's!). I love Barry White! People think I'm nuts, some white woman digging Barry, but he is fantastic! Who can sing sexy and low like Barry?

Poor Lowdown! But then again, he has you, so he is lucky. I'm so glad you are following your instinct and getting Lowdown looked at. I wish all animal owners were like you. Those other poor horses! It breaks my heart that people could be that way with an animal.

Please let us know what you find out about Lowdown (now I have that song in my head!).

Chris said...

So I guess you're still in love with him cause you'll bring the vet out just to check on him. :) I once bought a beautiful white horse that was on him was to the glue factory. He must have been about 20, I rode him for 13 years. He had all kinds of training that would pop up at times, surprise! He had a running walk and he loved barrels. Go figure.

Grey Horse Matters said...

If you think there is something wrong with Lowdown other than just being spoiled you're doing the right thing to have the vet do some x-rays and check him over. Better safe than sorry. The unfortunate thing is that you don't really know how he was ridden while you didn't have him with you. It could be nothing but aging or it could be something that you can address. Good luck finding out what the problem is.

Tammy said...

I know what you mean. Sometimes you just "know" something is off but can't put your finger on it. And you may be right, it may not be anything physical at all & just a result of what he was doing the last few years. In which case, you can fix in time.

Interesting how in the herd order, he fell back in where he was.

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

Glad you're having Lowdown checked. Sounds like you have a very special bond with him, so trust your intuition.
I'm not a big country music fan myself. I like to listen to classic rock or pop. Luckily Richmond has some good radio stations.

Beth said...

I don't know a thing about horses, but you are certainly doing the right thing to have Lowdown checked out. I do hope it turns out to be nothing serious---hopefully, time and training will make a difference. He sure is a beauty.

I'm glad you are still enjoying that truck. And the nice sound system. :-)

CountryDew said...

Love the truck! Hope the horse turns out to be okay.

Big 70s music fan myself; listen to XM on the TV satellite a lot, or pandora online.

Jamie Ferraioli said...

The easy part was getting Lowdown back. lol. Now you have to deal with the hard part...learning his past.

Cynda said...

I bet he's ok but better safe than sorry. I'm sure you'll figure it out.