My grand-niece and nephew, Erica and Tyler, are up here for Thanksgiving this week, and of course one of the highlights of a visit to the Ranch is riding the horses. Dottie has been gone for the past year+ so Erica was delighted to know she was back and she was the only one in the family light enough for me to be willing to let her ride.
It was cold and gloomy and we were busy stuffing ourselves yesterday so this afternoon after hitting the sale at Wal Mart (at 10 a.m. NOT 10 p.m.) we set about getting ready to ride. But Dottie wasn't looking so good; I had noticed her stance this morning when I went to feed and thought she was uncomfortable, and she was definitely limping so I warned Erica that we might not be able to ride her, but I would at least let her sit on her for a few minutes.
But after watching her be led back to the tack room I had a feeling the problem was nothing more than a rock in her hoof, and after digging out the gravel and dirt that was packed in there and putting on her Cavallo Simple Boots she was walking fine again. So we put the bareback pad on her and Erica got to ride her.
We tacked up Dottie and Dash, and they took them out front to ride while I saddled Dawn and worked her in the round pen a bit since she hadn't been ridden for over a week and was likely to be fresher. By the time I had her saddled and led her out front, I was informed that Dottie had trotted of her own accord, and was limping again. Tyler was riding Dash.
I got my camera to take what I expected would be the final pictures and video of Dottie being ridden that I would ever get. If a few minutes of walking was making her limp, this would probably be her last ride.
But after noticing that she wasn't limping any more (and I have the video to prove it) I suspected it was nothing more than a little ouchiness from the trotting and Erica rode her for about 15 more minutes at a walk. I gave the camera to Susan and Val and got on Dawn. The three of us played a game of "chase the sheep" with John Deere, whose idea of evading the horses was to run under their bellies. Then Erica wanted to ride Dawn so I gave her Dawn and we tied Dottie up, thinking she was probably tired by then. Then Tyler got tired of riding Dash so Erica took Dash and I got on Dawn again, and asked someone to bring me Dottie so I could see if I could pony her from Dawn, so she got to walk around some more.
Later Erica was tired and Susan got on Dash and Tyler took Dottie and led her around awhile, and then the kids started kicking a soccer ball around in the arena while Susan led Dottie from Dash and I followed on Dawn.
It was a fun, slightly chaotic riding session and old Dottie got quite a bit of exercise, one way or the other, even if only at a walk and was still not limping at all when we decided we'd had enough and went to unsaddle them.
After stripping them all off we left them loose in the yard while Tyler went to get the quad so he could play with the quad in the arena.
And then the rodeo began!
I've never seen Dottie move so fast! The three horses had wandered over to the garage to see what Tyler was doing, then all of a sudden Dottie whirled around like the cowhorse she was born to be and took off at a GALLOP with her daughters chasing after her. They raced around the house and back to the garage and I flagged them away and they kept going, slid to a stop at the fence, spun back around and took off the other direction. Dottie was so determined to regain the lead in this bizarre race that she actually bowled the sheep over at one point. He always joins in their races, bringing up the rear, but when they all suddenly turned around he ended up in front of Dottie and couldn't get out of the way fast enough. (No, he wasn't hurt.) They raced around like that, back and forth around the house (there's a circular dirt driveway that goes around the house so it makes a great racetrack), with the sheep running with them, for about ten minutes while Tyler tried to get out of the garage, having to wait for them to race past before he could get the quad out.
Eventually they settled down, he made it to the arena, and the horses finally got down to the business of nibbling at leaves and weeds.
I can only guess that the gentle walking Dottie had done had limbered up her arthritic old joints and that HA injection she had about 2 weeks ago is having an effect because not only was she galloping around like a young colt, but she was doing it without the stiffness she has been showing for the past year.
I still don't think I'll have any adults riding her any more . . . but at some point I'm sure I'll climb on her back and walk around the arena one last time. And I'm going to start ponying her out on some of the shorter evening rides. The exercise clearly is good for her!
It made me feel really good to see that old mare still had it in her to gallop around and play with her daughters. I just wish I'd had the camera in my hand to record it.
I have a feeling Erica will be riding Dottie for some time to come yet. That old mare isn't ready to hang up her stirrups just yet.
And that's the latest from the Ranch.