Friday, April 30, 2021

Moving Day

Yoshi moved to a new barn this afternoon!!! Volunteering at a horse show a few weeks ago, I met a woman who lives in the same small area I do. We were chatting about local barns, and she described her friend's beautiful property in the area. Oddly enough, I knew exactly what farm she was talking about. I guess it really isn't that surprising except for the fact that the farm is quite tucked back off the main road. I live directly on the main road which has a 55 mph speed limit and a shoulder that is only sometimes mowed. This means I run down the side dirt roads as much as possible, sometimes tracing them down to smaller and smaller tire ruts until I get too concerned I've crossed onto private property and might be shot/mauled by a loose dog, and I turn back. The farm in question is pretty far down a tiny dirt road. It has a beautiful cross country field and dressage arena visible from the dirt road. There is a farm name posted, but no owner name or phone number listed, so my internet stalking hadn't yielded much. When the woman volunteering said that was her friend's farm, I asked, in a way that was shockingly forward for my usual MO, if her friend wanted a boarder. She said she wasn't sure, but she could check. Continuing in a way that felt fairly forceful to me (but I'm a quiet introvert, so who knows) I had her give me her phone number and texted a gentle reminder that night. She quickly texted back, checked in with her friend (GY for simplicity), and told me I was in luck. GY's husband travels a lot for work and she was looking for a boarder who she could ride with while he was gone. 

I chatted with her on the phone that night and it sounded like a perfect situation: 
  • 4 horses belonging to her and her husband on 8 acres, Yoshi makes 5
  • Horses out as much as possible, but it is a 5 stall barn and she's retired so they come in if it's extremely hot or if there are nasty thunderstorms
  • She feeds orchard hay supplemented with some coastal and any kind of grain I want
  • Footed jump arena, cross country field, dressage arena that can adjust small to large easily
  • 2 miles from my house!!! 
  • They have access to dirt roads around them as well as a 30 acre and 40 acre parcel to hack out on. They also haul out to other trails frequently
  • She events and has a gelding with crappy feet too that she just went through the process of getting sound after being diagnosed with negative palmar angles
  • Cost is $600/month which is $225 more than I pay currently, but for much better facilities, much better hay, and by virtue of GY being retired, exactly the turnout/stall situation I want.
I went out to see the farm a few days later and it was as good as it sounded and as I had glimpsed from the road. I did clarify that I wasn't sure when I would be able to join for rides given the uncertainty with Yoshi right now. She was okay with that. She discussed the journey they had gone through with main eventer with clogs first and now barefoot. She was headed out to compete him at his first barefoot event (running novice, planning a move up to training soon) a few days after we met. 

When it came to leaving my current barn I tried to do so as gently as possible. The care is good, and I have never had any concerns about whether Yoshi is getting fed or monitored appropriately. However, there are certain aspects that could be a better fit for me personally. But I wouldn't hesitate to come back here again and never want to shut a door or offend anyone (barring things like the barn many moons ago where my horse didn't get fed and gates got left open all the time... Was fine slamming that one!), so I wanted to do this "break up" as smoothly as I could. Fortunately the conversation went very smoothly and amiably. 

In addition to a few personal fit factors, this barn is also SO CLOSE! The old barn was 8 miles/12 minutes from me, so a good chunk further. I realize that is still extremely close, and when I lived in Atlanta and Sarasota I commuted so much further. However, I live in a rural area with large properties all around so I figured there had to be someone closer who wanted to board one horse for one reason or another, I just had to find them. And dammit if I'm suffering through satellite internet I ought to at least be able to be really close to my horse! I was getting so desperate, I was mentally crafting the least creepy letter possible in my head during my runs... "Dear property owner, I live down the street and stare at your horses and luscious fields and omg please board my horse?!?!" So it's probably fortunate I came across GY's friend when I did. 

He settled right in when we arrived this afternoon. About two steps of the trailer he plunged his head down to eat grass and didn't really come up for air for a while. He's going to spend the first few days in a smaller pasture where he can talk to the other horses over the fence. He immediately made friends with his stall neighbor, another OTTB, and they started a good game of bitey face. We took a walk around the large, main field, and he only got really tall once. I don't think he yet knows that the top fence in the pasture, closest to the barn, is electric, but he's a sensible fellow so I doubt he'll be too upset by it. I'm so excited he's now so close and on such beautiful property with such customized care. 

Missing this...

Proof that at one point I did ride and didn't just obsessively take pictures of feet ;) 

This is a mare I got to ride for a few months until an unfortunate ligament injury. She was an absolute dream, so game and a beautiful mover. 

From a pivo video, don't mind the quality

Sometimes a bit too game... 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The chaos in my mind... saved in text format

I had a long conversation with my best friend in Delaware yesterday about Yoshi. She is an equine vet and does a lot of PPEs for a woman who buys OTTBs to market as sport horses. She talked me down off the ledge of frustration, confusion, and hopelessness. We both came to the conclusion that the intern who was with the surgeon went back through the diagnostics later and wrote up the report. Not confusing at all there, but I know the intern wasn't there for at least one of the conversations I had with the surgeon, so I guess it was all open to their interpretation later. She felt that doing the ultrasound without blocking out the left front lameness was not a super useful thing to do. She said that if you ultrasounded the suspensory ligaments of a decent number of sound performance horses, you would find things you could be concerned about if they were lame. Which he was. But he could have been lame due to his left front foot, we don't know because he wasn't blocked to the location of his lameness on that leg. The only part that doesn't fit with foot is why this started with a mild left front lameness when the right front foot is worse. She also said that regardless of whether or not the suspensory ligament is the problem, the current recommendations for a suspensory ligament with enlargement but no tear was pasture rest. She recommended getting his feet right and then if there is still a lameness, working it up with a lameness exam with blocking to localize where the problem is. Makes sense. Also is a cheaper route. Interestingly enough, in the last week or so, there has been mild to no effusion in the fetlock - maybe that palmar osteochondral disease is resolving? He's now had pasture rest for 60 days. 

Armed with that information, I palpated his suspensory ligaments in all 4 legs. Starting with the left front. He did not palpate sore over the branches, but did palpate sore on the proximal half of it. Uhoh. Moved on to the right front, same thing. Repeat on legs #3 and 4. Hmmm... consult with BFF. Yeah, really unlikely he has high suspensory problems in both front legs and high suspensory/hock problems in the hind. Probably doesn't appreciate your pinchy little fingers there. Really? This is normal? Even though I can palpate the SDFT and DDFT without a problem? Yes.

I feel like I keep flailing around in this lameness quagmire. I thought taking him to a boarded specialist and agreeing to all the diagnostics he recommended would get me an answer. Ha. Turns out unless I find a professional I can put all my faith in (would love if my BFF just moved back down here) I'm going to have to keep synthesizing all this information and coming up with a plan with the help of professionals rather than blind faith in them. But putting the whole picture together is hard.

In performance reviews at work, I consistently get called "calm" and "thoughtful". There was one week where between reviews from peers, students I teach, and my managers, I was called "calm" four times. Makes me feel like a cow placidly chewing its cud in the field. Over the years I haven't puzzled out whether the hamsters that run around in my brain truly run at a more relaxed speed than average or whether I am just not an emotive person, so no one sees them doing back flips in there. I think it is some combination of both most of the time with certain faulty areas. Usually when trying to digest information like this, the hamsters run rapidly in circles for a while, sometimes tripping and falling; I talk to my husband, I talk to my BFF, and I talk to my good friend out at the barn, the hamsters slow down to a jog. I come up with a more logical and reasonable conclusion than the half-thought through mush that was there at the beginning, the hamsters climb off the wheel and curl up for a nap. Now though, I've decided to blog, so instead it spills out onto the blog in an undigested form that has to later be ruminated on and corrected. Interesting. Documenting the thought (or lack thereof) process. 

Panicking at high speed... and all the good that does me

In the digesting process....

Ideally I end up here. Pretty damn relaxed and at peace, not flailing and falling off the wheel. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Well that would've been useful information

The surgeon who saw Yoshi finally emailed over the report from his exam there as well as the insurance form. 

The report was surprising to me for a few reasons: 

1) Mild navicular changes in the right front. I am positive that he said the good news was the navicular bone looks fine. Okay, fine, this wouldn't have changed our current treatment approach, but certainly changes my thoughts on his future career. 

2) Recommendation for stall rest and shockwave. My understanding was we were going to recheck after 3 shoeing cycles. That's not the recommendation in there (recheck at 60 days). Also... horse clearly has not been stall rested. I'm pretty sure the quote was "I don't see why he couldn't go out." And had I known they were recommending shockwave of his suspensories, he would've been getting shockwave of his suspensories. 

This does bring together the initial lameness on the left front though - likely proximal suspensory rather than the fetlock I keep dragging on and on about that looked improved on the rads. As soon as I got this, I scheduled an appointment to re-ultrasound the suspensory and start his damn shockwave - Friday May 7th. I am hesitant to go anywhere else because of everyone's disdain for looking at others diagnostics, but I am sure going to nail him down in a lot longer conversation while taking notes to make sure that I get everything straight before waiting 6 weeks for a report. I'm hoping the navicular changes were so mild that they slipped by on the initial quick review of the rads. Hopefully getting his feet straightened out will help there. Time will tell I suppose. 

He gets his feet done again today. Hopefully things are going well under those clogs. I'll take pictures this time for sure. 

Still working on finances to work on that lease that now seems all the more needed. 

Friday, April 23, 2021

Weekly wrap up

  • Hip stretch- this was challenging for him on the stretching out to the side part. We persevered though and made it through 20 seconds after a few tries. 
  • Shoulder stretch down and back- definitely liked the release it gave him. Leila was very one sided, probably due to her neck issues and would stand with her left leg back all day long after I put it there, but wanted to move the right one immediately. Yoshi was pretty quick to move both back to a normal position and pretty slow to release the shoulder down/back in general, so definitely a good one to keep working on. 
  • Removed fly wraps because he had some irritated skin on his left front and right rear and it was supposed to rain all day + Sunday + Monday. His fly mask had actually stayed on for more than 12 hours for once and he had some fantastic bed head forelock.

Ridiculous forelock + his latest battle scar... At least he missed his eyeball

  • Lifting the hind legs- he found tapping on the hocks or hind legs surprisingly not stimulating at all. Leila was highly offended and therefore did the exercise very quickly. I felt like I was borderline beating him with the dressage whip on his hind legs before he lifted them. Given his lack of understanding of the exercise we settled for a few half hearted lifts with a light tap and loads of praise. On the plus side he didn't try to kick me, which I was a bit concerned about. 
  • Pelvis tucks- we do this one fairly frequently while grooming so it was a cheap cop out exercise. He's very sensitive across the sacrum so he tucks up and under really well. I just have to not overdo it so feet stay in one spot. 
  • ToH he did really well. We're still using the fence as a block for backwards movement, but he was correctly crossing the inside front in front of the outside front. 
  • Fly gear back on. We'll see if the mask stays this go round. 
  • I groomed him while he grazed in the barnyard since their hay bale was gone... Completely... Again. It let me use the SleekEZ block on him though since he was so focused on noms he couldn't be too offended by it. His rain rot is completely gone thanks to the equiderma. Now it is just a light application near trouble spots when we groom to maintain. Well worth the money on that one. Especially because I'm trying not to get him wet too often with his clogs. 
  • Shoulder stretch down and forward- pretty symmetrical on this, very good boy with letting me manipulate his legs. 
  • Lifting the hind legs- since he didn't really get the concept Monday I wanted to go through it again. The left hind leg was very easy and good. After getting two really nice, quick lifts we switched to the other side. Then trouble started. He nipped at me after I praised him for a tiny lift of the leg. I think it's because he was expecting a treat. I got after him and then after that his mind was too busy being hurt about being yelled at to be able to figure out lifting the leg again. We'll keep at it. 
  • Even with a new hay bale (after being out for 48 hours... Grumble grumble...) he still walks up to me in the pasture when I call him. So cute. 
  • Clipper work continued. Storing them on top of my grooming supplies is definitely the best way to remind me to keep at it. It doesn't seem like anywhere other than near his head will be a problem. Near the head is still very much a problem. Hard to handle clippers, treats, and lead rope. So I dropped the lead rope. This was fine. He only protested by sticking his head straight up in the air, not by moving his feet. 
  • No effusion in the left fetlock!
  • Shoulder stretch down and back and pelvis tucks. Ones I know from memory because I stopped by the barn on my way home from my overnight shift and overwhelming my brain is easy on such mornings. 
  • We took a step back from clippers to just focus on touching around his poll. Taking the easy way out (see above about no brain power, also typically I am much shorter on patience with no sleep than one should be for working with any horse especially a relative baby...) I just stood with my hand as close to his poll as possible after putting his alfalfa cubes + grain in his feed tub. He went forward and back and sideways and up with his head to avoid the touch but then eventually got it figured out and even kept it together while I removed my hand and replaced it. Interesting that the clippers uncovered this hole in places he can be touched. 
  • Removed fly wraps+mask again. We had a nice cool front come in and the flies shouldn't be too bad. The wraps are rubbing the lateral sides of his front fetlocks. Le sigh.
  • Back to mild effusion in the fetlock. 

Monday, April 19, 2021

Trying to find footing on uneven ground

I don't know if I have clearly spelled this one out yet, but I'm worried Yoshi's feet are not going to be our main problem. He started off mildly lame on left front. He vetted positive to hoof testers across his heel of his right front. When I took him to the surgeon, we focused on the feet because holy shit he was dead lame on that right front. He went much better when it was blocked. We didn't block the left front to see if the left front lameness that emerged after the right front was blocked was foot or fetlock. There is effusion in that fetlock most days. Some days it is better, some days it is worse. It ranges from moderate to mild, but is always present. The initial radiographic changes seen on rads in November that pointed to palmar osteochondral disease were improved on the radiographs taken in early March. Which makes that disease less likely. And from everything I've read and heard about the disease now, that would be improving with all this time off - April 29th will be 60 days of pasture rest.  So why is there still effusion in the joint? The bones look fine on rads, but that doesn't rule out changes to the cartilage. Fingers crossed whatever it is responds to Adequan and pasture rest... 

Back to his feet... The farrier's initial plan was to recheck radiographs after 3 cycles. In my head I had shortened it to getting to start riding again after 1 cycle since he also said we'd get him in something more practical after the first cycle. After reading this article this article on the effects of a negative palmar angle I am even more inclined to actually wait until we recheck radiographs to start any kind of under saddle work. The negative effects of the feet alone could be a threat to his long term soundness. And that ignores the fetlock still. 

Many horses get a 3-6 month let down period after coming off the track. He got, at most, 1 month. So he'll get off until mid-July when we'll repeat x-rays of his feet. Depending on what his fetlock has been doing up until that point I may have them look into that further then. If it's got no effusion or mild effusion maybe I'll start him back slowly at that point if the feet look better? If it still has mild to moderate effusion then maybe PRP or steroids depending on what they recommend? There's no point in rushing things. I don't want to start him back after his feet are improved just to find him off in that left front again due to that fetlock. So time off now in order to get a longer, sounder future? 

In the mean time I'm plotting finances and work to figure out if I could swing a lease on something else to ride. There's a few other things up in the air as well, but we'll see if those come to be. 

No horse pictures for this ramble, so have some alligators. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Goals... modified

I initially thought I had nothing to write about in this kind of post given Yoshi's uncertain soundness currently. The effusion in his front left fetlock is better some days and worse others. I'm getting more and more suspicious he had steroids put into that joint around the time he retired from racing. But neither the fetlock nor the feet mean that he can't continue his in hand education. So without further ado... 

April - June 2021 Goals: 
  • Work through all doable exercises in the Equine Fitness book. Do 2 each time I see him. 
  • Improve ToH so that we can do a correct 1/2 circle of it in both directions
  • Work on standing still over grass for up to 2 minutes without needing corrections
  • Continue to handle ears until it is no big deal all the time. Generally he's fine with it, but I think he was ear twitched in the past because sometimes if I move too quickly he will get kind of panicky and then I can't touch it at all for the next few minutes until he forgets about it.
  • Continue to behave ourselves for the farrier. 
  • Improve handling of hind feet 
  • If allowed with this next set of shoes, start hand walking 30+ minutes 3 times a week. Trailer to new places to do this and continue to practice ground manners while at new places. 
  • Clip bridle path again. Assess whether it seems like I'd be able to body clip and if not, start working on desensitizing to clippers. 
It would be more exciting to write riding goals, but dammit, we still need something to work towards. 

A good friend came to visit- we kayaked "the Chazz" and saw manatees and otters

There's only so many different pictures I can post of Yoshi from the ground, so I figured this was more interesting anyways

Friday, April 9, 2021

Florida joys

We've been having absolutely gorgeous weather - 50s/60s at night and 70s/80s during the day. No complaints here. But in spite of that, the flies are already out in full swing and the rain rot is raging on most of the horses at the barn. Yoshi is no exception, which means he got his first fly mask the other day. It was too small on my friend's horse, so it was a gift from her. In return she got his webbed halter in horse size that fits her horse perfectly. He's rocking a new blue one in cob sized now. 

Hi mom! Thanks for the mask, I'll take it off later. 

I also got him the Majyk Equipe fly wraps. A few people at the barn have the Shoo Fly wraps and they seem to work really, really well. However, they were about $10 more on Amazon than the Majyk Equipe ones at Rider's Warehouse. And they also come in fairly atrocious colors. I put them on him this morning and got this video from my friend a few hours later... 

So we'll see whether or not they hold up. If they do, I know they're sturdy. It is really entertaining learning his personality with things like this. He's also gotten so much more cuddly recently.

The farrier came out Wednesday and added more casting material. Blue camo this time! Even before I told him that I was feeding the gelatin, he commented that he looked like he had already grown some more hoof. No confirmation bias there, hooray! 

Forgot to take a picture before I walked him through the dirt/sand. They looked much more awesome initially. 

Hopefully when he resets him in 3 weeks he will be able to go into something else. I'm not in a rush though because he's looking super comfortable, and I would rather get it right than get it done quickly in a way we have to fix again later. 

I tried Farnam's Equi-Spot since it wasn't too badly priced at the feed store when I was buying alfalfa cubes. I believe it was $16 and it promises 14 days of fly control as well as repelling ticks. Fortunately at this property we don't have a big tick problem, but when we go back to trail riding, there are a few parks that are known for nasty ticks. I may revisit it then, especially with the continually increasing incidence of Lyme in Florida, but for now this product is a definite NO. Yoshi HATES it. Like seriously hates it. I applied it once and he started stomping furiously a few minutes later. I think particularly on his front legs that were shaved for the ultrasound it was really burning. The permethrin concentration is 45%, so no freaking wonder. It also advertises 2 weeks of fly control. I'm not sure where/if that is ever true, but it was barely 2 days post that I could not tell a difference. I gave it one more try, but when he smelled the package once I cracked it open he immediately started dancing before I could even get it near him. Told you he's a quick study! I persevered and bribed with treats, sucked in by the idea of longer lasting fly control, and again, barely 2 days later I could not tell that I had applied it. There's a draft mare at the barn who does not give a damn when it is applied, but I'm pretty sure with her feathers it does not go anywhere near her actual skin on her legs. Also, drafty = not nearly as sensitive about life as TB. 

Not a fan 

Moving on from flies to rain rot... last summer Leila mostly escaped rain rot. Except right before her acupuncture appointment for her neck, excellent timing. The vet who came out to see her recommended bathing with dawn and then applying lime sulfur dip. The dawn is just very gentle application with a hand, not even the small side of a jelly curry. The point is not to yank off the crusts, just to clean as much as possible of the skin around the crusts. Then once they are a little dried off, applying lime-sulfur dip. The lime-sulfur dip smells LOVELY. I thought initially that Yoshi's rain rot was clearing up when he was switched to pasture board. In general the pasture horses seem to fare better, my thought being that the UV light during the day helps with the bacteria, but Yoshi is the exception. He's got it fairly badly on his back and hindquarters. I also ordered the Equiderma lotion when I ordered the lime-sulfur dip. It's much more expensive (Lime-sulfur is $12 for a bottle that makes one gallon - I dilute it 1/2 gallon at a time and each 1/2 gallon lasts at least two weeks), but it is much more appealing to the nose. Lime-sulfur isn't supposed to be applied more than 2-3 times a week because it is too drying. I'm not sure how well it lasts in between on a horse that lives outside and is definitely wallowing in the sand/dirt multiple times a day. The equiderma has a mineral oil base and definitely lasts a few days though, so I've been alternating. I was amazed after the first application how many crusts came off pretty easily and without seeming to bother him when I curried him the next day. Hopefully this gets him cleared up quick enough that we don't loose chunks of his summer coat too. 

Really pleased with his progress in the weight and growing hair over bite marks departments 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Casted clogs pt 2

Yoshi chipped the front of one of his clogs a week ago. 

I texted a picture to the farrier and got a quick response. After dealing with several farriers over the years of solo horse ownership who wouldn't return calls or couldn't be bothered to come out for one horse, this was a relief. He said as long as it didn't chip more it was fine. 

However, this Monday I noticed that the right one had loosened up considerably. A bath confirmed this, I could hear him squelching around with water between some part of the set up and his foot after I bathed him. 

This time he said we needed to address it and that he could come out in two days. It wasn't super convenient since it meant I'd be awake holding Yoshi instead of sleeping before an overnight shift, but the horse comes first. Especially because when I jogged him in a few circles (not really intentionally working on that exercise...), he looked pretty darn sound. If it is working, I don't want to mess with it!

We did a lot of in hand work on Monday - walk, halt, trot, halt, back, ToF. Trot with me on the right side was really confusing and not possible, which is why we ended up trotting a few circles. My lead rope is ridiculously long, so when he claimed he couldn't possibly trot with me on the right I backed up away from him and mini parallel lunged him to the right. The next time he could figured out it was in fact possible. Halt is not very prompt still and he definitely wanted to curve around me and slow down to a halt even from the walk. It didn't help that we were working in a new field so he kept wanting to spin and stare across to the neighbors place - every horse spooks at their yard, it must contain demons. 

We tried to add in some turn on the haunches, per Emma's blog. It was really, really challenging to move the front feet and keep the hind still. We got a few steps of side pass that I praised a lot since any progress is progress. 

He has retained the lesson that he can be touched anywhere with my hand and should not protest. He even seems to think it might be pleasant now, my how a week changes things! We worked through a few of the conditioning exercises: 
I LOVE these pull out cards, so handy

He really loved the TMJ massage and relaxed into it with lots of licking and even a big yawn. The lateral cervical flexion he also appreciated and gave me really good responses there. No real reaction from the tail pull. 

Today was more of the same. It started early, watching/videoing Presto at Majestic Oaks because I creepily responded to an instagram story Amanda posted asking if she had any friends close by who could video Presto while he schooled this morning. Does reading about Presto's adventures on your blog and following along on instagram count as being friends? Yes, yes we decided it does. It was a lot of fun to watch him jump around. In other ways of getting my horse fix, I also signed up to volunteer at the Majestic Oaks schooling show this weekend. My comfort zone positions of jump crew or jump scribe were already full, so I'm doing dressage warm up. Maybe some day I'll be able to use the schooling passes I keep earning! 

He's a quick study and our faux showmanship went much better this morning. He was pretty quick on his halts and trotting off and much more focused overall. After working on that for a while, a good grooming, and an application of lime-sulfur dip, we went for a nice hand graze with two friends and their horses. He nipped my friends horse (also a 7 yo thoroughbred) twice. Just nips, just wanting to play. I wonder how he keeps getting beat up in the pasture... such a pest! He also tried to go up to the other horse, who just so happens to be the one that tried to kill him in the pasture, and do the same. Uhhh no buddy, that's a bad life choice. 

Pre-nipping friend on the ass, looking so innocent

At least he's cute 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Lessons I didn't know we needed

Yesterday I planned on working on some of the exercises from Equine Fitness by Jec Aristotle Ballou. I bought the book while rehabbing Leila and have been working on some of the ground exercises with Yoshi. However, Yoshi had other plans. Fairly early on we had addressed whether or not I could touch his stifles. After a few sessions of alternating reprimands and praise depending on his reaction, he's pretty solid on that one. He's also gotten so much better about grooming and has started leaning into me currying in areas on his hindquarters and soft brushing his face. But I casually laid a hand on his barrel while I was talking to my friend while grooming him and got pinned ears, swishing tail, and a raised leg. Excuse me, sir? We spent the next 20 minutes with me running my hands all over his body, palms flat. He's growing some rain rot on his hindquarters and back and it was hard to resist the urge to pick at it while doing this. He definitely finds that unpleasant though, so I managed (and ordered some lime sulfur dip). He actually really enjoyed the touching with lots of big yawns and a relaxed sleepy eye. I guess we'll start incorporating some massage into his daily grooming sessions as well. He's so funny. Initial reaction was very much pissed, but when I went back and gently introduced the idea to him, he accepted it was actually a pleasant thing. 

He's started to shed out really beautifully on his neck and shoulder. He's also growing hair back on his bites and only accumulating 1-2 new ones a week now that he's settled in with his pasture mates. We've been slowly working on the weight gain:
  • 1 month of Smart Pak's "Smartgain" 
  • 1 month of a full scoop of alfalfa cubes soaked and fed with 1/4 scoop of Cadence Ultra when I'm out there (5-6 days a week usually)
He also has free choice coastal hay and gets 1 scoop of Cadence Ultra twice daily. In February when he was still on stall board he got 1 flake of coastal and 1 flake of alfalfa during the day and free choice coastal at night. When I went to buy alfalfa at the start of February the feed store was out so I switched to cubes which are much more convenient and cheaper. Thus far he seems to be handling the coastal okay. We may have a pasture rearrangement coming soon which may end up putting him with another thoroughbred who could use some weight. If that happens, that horse's owner and I are planning on getting a large alfalfa bale for the pasture instead of or maybe in addition to the coastal. I'd love to decrease his grain, but he's barely gaining weight as it is. See, yet another silver lining to not being able to ride, he's much easier to put weight on now! 

Initially he lost some weight, I think coming off a free choice block of alfalfa is responsible for that one, but now we're definitely on the gaining track. 

Day he came home

Where we're at now. Definitely need to stand him up for a better comparison picture

As I look at these pictures I am also realizing that this horse grows mane insanely fast. It was so short the day I brought him home and I've already cut it twice! 

About a week ago. So much mane. 

He really really hates having it pulled, even combing it up to use the solo comb makes him unhappy. I've been using scissors on it since we're definitely not going out in public anywhere fancy anytime soon, but I'm going to have to come up with something better if we ever get to the point of a show. It is so thick, especially in the top half, that scissoring is going to not work soon. 

We've made some progress in not kicking out when I pick up the hind feet. He doesn't do it badly, but typically will pick it up, pull it forward and then kick back a little bit. Sometimes ends with a little kick back when I let go. I'm not sure how to make this one better other than making him bored. So that's what we've been doing, every grooming session I pick up his hind feet about 5-10 times, ignoring the bad ones and praising the heck out of the good ones.

We have taken a pause on the clicker training. He'd figured out that straight and relaxed got a reward, but the moments after the click, pre-treat, he'd starting snaking his neck at me to grab the treat from my hand. Time off from treats while I figure out how to fix it/what I screwed up.

So that's the "I still can't ride my horse" update for the week.