A couple of days ago, after feeling kind of sorry for myself, I decided to take King out for a little ride. He always makes me smile. He was thrilled to have the halter on and very happy to finally get some attention. I brushed him, and he preened as usual. Wiggled his lips at me while I brushed him, and fluttered his eyelashes when I told him that he was still the handsomest refrigerator of a horse in the world.
I had to take the girth down… er… three holes from where it sits on Dressy. He was not in the least concerned about his portliness though. Stood like a rock while I tacked him up, watching with his ears perked and a very cheerful expression. He parked nicely for me while I got on, and turned around to request his mounting block cookie.
We ambled around the fields, which are quite deep in grass (up to my shoulders in a couple of spots… while I was mounted!). King adored that, and ate the grass tops as we walked. He didn’t even have to put his head down and still managed to have huge wads hanging out of either side of his mouth.
At one point, we startled a coyote in the tall grass. I don’t know if it was napping or just not paying attention. But it leapt up unexpectedly about 20 feet away. King was a bit startled, and didn’t know what to do, so I turned him towards it and said “Let’s GET IT!!” King took one step towards it and the coyote jumped backwards. “Hmmm” said King, and took another step. The coyote turned and trotted a few steps. King took a couple of trotting steps and the coyote bolted out of sight. King was amazed and delighted at that outcome. He puffed himself up and marched back the way we’d come. “We showed him!!”
King loves to explore, and we checked out his favorite spots. He much prefers narrow little single track trails to open spaces. So we had to look in each little opening in the trees. Inspect my uncle’s woodworking project. Taste some tree leaves. Survey the golf course next door, and generally examine the universe.
He did trot a few short stretches, but always pulled himself up sort of oddly. He tends to park out as if he has to pee, and sometimes actually does pee (twice in half an hour). He’s been doing this with increasing frequency during rides for the last few years. Four different vets have looked at him, with no luck. His blood work is always normal. And he’s not lame. But if I ride him often, or far, he ends up with muscle cramps. He’s also developed a problem with tripping behind.
The one thing the vets always look at is the tumours growing around his throat (saliva glands), and the sprinkling of others over his body (one under the tail, one on his hip, one beside his tail, etc). The tumour on the right side of his throatlatch is now quite large (like half an orange). The vets always look at it all silently. Then look at me sort of sideways. Yep. I know he has melanomas. And yes, I also know there could be tumours growing in places we can’t see. Most grey horses with melanomas die of old age before they can die of the cancer, because it’s so slow growing in horses. But I tend to think that’s not going to be the case with King.
However, since there’s not much I can do about it, I just try to enjoy him while he’s here. He’s very happy, and a very entertaining horse to live with. Highly vocal, very people-oriented, and smart (usually in a bad way!). He’s only 12, and I hope I get a good few more years with him yet. Even if I can’t ride him much, he still gives me joy.