Chip was a foster horse from a local rescue that lived here for a few months. He was 22 years old. An old Thoroughbred who had been on the track, then was a school horse, then an A-circuit hunter. Later he was abandoned in a field with a shetland pony for company.
It took a few months to put some weight on him. He had almost no teeth at all. They were worn down almost to the gum line. I don’t know if he just had soft teeth, or if he chewed trees and fences to keep himself from starving during his exile to the field without food. So I put him on Equine Senior, oil, and huge quantities of beet pulp. He really could put away impressive quantities of food when it was soft enough for him to chew. He arrived on September 1, 2001. By February of 2002 he looked a bit rounder. And his coat had developed a lovely gloss.
I rode him a few times after he gained weight. He was soft and responsive, with lovely gaits.
He was adopted out, but he lost weight almost immediately and he was returned to the rescue and adopted out again. Eventually he was put down as none of the adopters were willing to feed the quantities of wet beet pulp that kept weight on him. All of them tried feeding him fancy, expensive supplemental feed. When all he really ever needed was a replacement for his hay that he could actually chew.
I feel kind of guilty that I haven’t ridden since Monday. I’ve been on a roll up until now. I’ve ridden King an average of three times a week since mid-December. But I’ve been feeling like hell all week. At one point I started thinking it must be food poisoning when the nausea got really bad. Couldn’t eat for three days. On the plus side… I lost about 4 lbs. And I’m starting to feel a bit better today. Brooke is coming to ride Dressy tomorrow, so I will probably try to ride. Hopefully King won’t be too sprightly. Famous last words.
I’ve been tinkering with his saddle for the last few weeks. It’s an Australian saddle with the wool flocked panels. It’s supposed to adjust to fit him over time. But it’s been dropping down way too much in front. I took an awl to it and shifted the wool forward. It took a couple of sessions of adjusting and then riding on the shifted panels, then adjusting again. But it’s definitely starting to fit him better now. The cantle has dropped down some. It’s sitting more correctly over his shoulder, giving him room to move. And it’s stopped rubbing hair off his loin. I took out the pad completely for this, and have just been riding him with the saddle directly on his back. It’s completely covered in white hairs now of course. But he’s not sweating a whole lot and he’s not particularly grubby since it’s a snowy winter so it shouldn’t do the saddle any harm.
I’m getting pretty tired of winter. We had a little taste of spring last week, but we paid for it with a winter storm right afterwards.
I have, however, been virtuous and have ridden King quite regularly since the end of December. Mostly walking through the snow. It got quite deep, and even after our big thaw, there are still some leftover deep sections. At first, he seemed to find it quite hard work. But now he ploughs through it like a big freight train.
Today I put the heart rate monitor on him for the first time in about a year. It was only reading intermittently, but the highest that I saw was 110. He does get quite damp, but he has a very heavy winter coat, so it’s not surprising.
Speaking of the winter coat…. holy cow. He’s starting to shed, and it’s like a great big exploding down filled pillow. There is hair everywhere. In the barn, on my clothes, in the house. Up my nose…