After a wicked bout of flu, which killed all my ambition for a while, I have gotten back to working with Venice. She went backwards of course. She goes feral very quickly if I don’t spend time with her every single day.
The first session back was quite alarming. She panicked about the rope and went careening around the stall. Right back to wild mustang status. But after a few days of inching our way back to where we were before I lost my oomph, today was good. I worked with her twice today. Once this morning, and again this evening.
This morning, instead of scratching her, I started gently patting her neck with my open hand and gradually increased the pressure. Very terrifying for her at first. It was like seeing electric shocks go through her at every touch. But eventually her neurons stopped firing wildly and she took a big sigh and relaxed… as much as Venice ever really relaxes anyway. I was able to touch her from just behind her ear to about mid-back. Which was where we had stopped a couple of weeks ago.
Tonight I managed to put my hand on her jowl. That’s a big one for her. She is very alarmed about anything coming near her face. So that was a no-go zone. We worked it out that I would stand beside her and slide my hand up her neck to her jowl. She would immediately stretch her head away from me. And I would wait. When she turned her head back towards me I would lighten the pressure of my hand and eventually, when she got her nose pointing forward again, I’d remove my hand. She is always so relieved when I take my hand off that she reaches towards me with her nose for a moment to say thanks.
Then, because it drives me mad every time I look at her, I gently started pulling the snarls out of her mane. I thought she’d lose her mind over that for sure. But after a tiny moment of alarm, she stood for it. She has massive long snarls that are sort of looped together in a complicated almost braid. Or macrame, maybe. She’s already lost a small chunk of mane where one of the snarls caught on something and got yanked out. So I stood there for a good half hour, gently unlooping the snarls. I thought it would be hours of work to get it done. But I got the majority of the bad snarls out, and just have some ringlets left to work through. I think maybe those knots were pulling uncomfortably on her neck, because she actually seemed a bit relieved to have them fixed up a bit. She shook it all out afterwards and gave a big sigh. Tomorrow I think I’ll try to put some Cowboy Magic in it and maybe even try a comb.
So again we’ve made a bit of progress. We are still stuck at the rope around the neck stage though. Since I can’t yet touch her head, I haven’t got a halter on her. That will be a bit of a trick to manage I suspect.
I drove Diego in long reins all around the back field yesterday. He was very good. Quite pleased to be out. And my elbow really held up to it well. Driving him on the driveway is easier because the footing is solid and even. Going around the outside of a grassy field with a bit of mud (though mostly it was frozen) was a bit more of a challenge. I was surprised though that even with a couple of jolts (mostly me being graceless and tripping over clumps of frozen grass) it didn’t hurt. He’s pretty soft-mouthed mind you. So it’s not like he was pulling on me.
Had a doctor’s appointment today. He says I can go back to work in mid-February. 🙂
And I started making noises to my therapist about riding again sometime in the near future. And she did not get alarmed. I took that as a good sign. I still need a bit more strength in the arm before I try it. But the joint is more stable now, and I can feel the improvement in muscle tone. Chrystal is plotting to get me on the ancient Quarter Horse that she has living at her place next time I’m over there. She figures he wouldn’t spook if you set him on fire.