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                                             Horse Stories
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Muscatyr’s Watermelon Patch

One day I noticed Muscatyr was inordinately interested in the manure pile. Since the horses generally will not graze on the manure pile, no matter HOW green the grass is – this piqued my interest.

As I watched him for a few moments, I realized he was not just interested in the manure pile – he was OBSESSED by it.

So, since my finely tuned  “horsey up to no good” radar was going off at full volume, I walked out to investigate.

Bless his heart, Muscatyr had hit the motherlode. There was a large watermelon vine growing over the manure pile. And said vine was sporting teeny tiny little miniature watermelons the size of limes.

Muscatyr could not believe this manna from Heaven and he was stuffing them into his mouth as fast as he could. Partly due to sheer glutony and partly to gobble them down before any of the other horses discovered his treasure. He looked like a hamster.

He was not happy to see me (the Food Police) heading for his treasure trove, and my appearance on the scene only intensified his gobbling.

And so it became a race – with me  pulling the tiny melons off the vines as fast as I could and Muscatyr trying to eat as many as he could before I could get them all.

I succeeded in stemming the feeding frenzy and kept the illicit melons to be distributed at a more sedate pace.

Buddy, Can You Lend a Tail?

My best riding buddy, Debbie, and I used to condition our horses on trails near our house. Her horse, Gordon, would launch himself over any small water obstacle like a Roadrunner cartoon ACME Catapult. So Debbie started getting off Gordon and going across first, and then letting him follow.

The area we rode used to be rice fields. The soil was unbelievably sticky black gumbo. Sort of like Super Glue when wet.

At one small ditch, we followed standard operating procedure – Debbie got off, started to walk across, sent Gordon ahead of her – and then got stuck. Stuck as in, her rubber boots were glued in place. When she tried to pull her feet out, her feet came OUT of her boots, but her boots did not come out of the muck. And so there she was in the middle of the ditch. Stuck. She thought if she could pull against something she could get herself unstuck without landing on her face in the mud.

So, I backed Mr. Long, Thick, Beautiful Tail up to Debbie, she grabbed onto aforementioned tail, and I inched Muscatyr forward and out came Debbie.

Muscatyr thought the request a little odd, but he was happy to oblige.

When Smart People Do Stupid Things

Saturday I went riding with my enduro-buddy, Debbie, and her gelding Flash Gordon, who is almost Muscatyr's twin. They are also very good friends and just bebop down the trail together like a couple of kids out of school for the summer.

It had been extremely dry here  -- so dry in fact, that part of the canal where we ride has totally dried up after being drained by the canal authority. We could see ATV tracks in the middle of it, and also tracks where cows, dogs and people had walked across it.  So, when we came to a gate across the berm of the canal that we couldn't open, we naturally explored the possibility of crossing the dry canal bed.

I got off Muscatyr and walked across it and the footing seemed pretty firm to me. I barely made any tracks at all. Looks can be deceiving.

Muscatyr very willingly followed me down the 4-5 ft. canal back down into the canal. About the third step he sank like a stone and started thrashing wildly. He was thrashing his way toward the middle and softer ground and I grabbed him and got him turned back toward solid ground. At one point he was thrashing so wildly he actually fell over on his side. For a brief, heart stopping moment, I thought he would not be able to get out and would just fight until he killed himself. Fortunately he 'swam' through the mud to firmer ground and he lunged up the bank of the canal -- being careful not to step on me in the process.  We stood on the canal bank for about 5 minutes -- both of us just shaking violently. He was covered in mud up to his belly and his beautiful tail was one solid hunk of clay-like mud. His legs were completely encased in about an inch of the stuff and his belly was caked with it. I used water from bottles I always carry with me -- plus some of Debbie’s -- to rinse his legs off as best as I could to check for cuts. Sure enough he was bleeding on his left front from a small cut. not bad considering the way he fought. but I knew the real potential damage would be to his muscles and tendons. I was especially concerned about his
stifles, since I had had some problems with his stifles last year after he sank in a ditch crossing up to his hocks during an endurance ride.

Thank god Debbie had her cell phone with her and her husband was home -- he hitched up the trailer and headed out to come get us. fortunately we were a straight shot about a mile from a major road (528) and there was a shell road that passed a rifle range that would take us right to the spot where Richard could park the trailer. It took us 20 minutes or so to make the walk and Richard was already there when we got there. (in my mind I was not walking down this road -- I was KICKING MYSELF all the way down it!!) Muscatyr seemed ok so far -- but I knew at the very least he was going to be extremely body sore the next day.

As soon as we got home I hosed off his legs, gave him some bute and put a poultice on all four of his legs.  I also turned him out all night so he wouldn't get so stiff standing in a stall all night.  I also  remembered that Debbie had used an equine massage therapist on Gordon and had reported a positive experience -- so I got her number and called her. Unfortunately she couldn't come out that day (it was already about 5:30 by the time i finished 'doctoring' Muscatyr and called her) but she graciously agreed to come at 6:15 in the morning -- before she had to be to a prior commitment at 8 a.m.

By the next morning, Muscatyr's left front, where he had apparently kicked himself, was swollen and hot -- but the massage therapist did not think that was anything but superficial swelling. Muscatyr seemed to enjoy it, and it was interesting to watch and listen to what she was doing. she could not find any obvious evidence of major damage -- but she did confirm he was extremely body sore. you could tell what felt good and what hurt – and there were some spots that obvioulsy hurt, but 'hurt good'. she did not tie him or restrain him -- and he stood still for most of it in the aisle of the barn. whenever he moved, she just followed him. he didn't go far. now, I tend to be pretty skeptical of chiropractors and massage therapists – so I  was pretty surprised when I  put my hand on Muscatyr toward the end of the session (she spent an hour on him) to find he was extremely hot -- and in some spots had already broken into a damp sweat.  I asked her about that, and she said when the muscles get increased blood circulation, that often happens. So, obviously SOMETHING was going on there! she also predicted correctly that at some point he would begin kind of licking and chewing.

Sure enough, he did. She said when the lactic acid that is built up in the muscles starts releasing due to the massage, they think it makes a funny taste in the horses' mouth!

The session was $65 and it only made a small dent in the guilt I felt for asking him to do something that turned out to hurt him. We managed to avoid the bogs at the Sandblast endurance ride the previous weekend, only to encounter one in our own 'back yard.'  From now on, I believe we will stick to the 'beaten path' and not try to be 'explorers.'  And hopefully Muscatyr won't be the one who has paid for my lesson learned.

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