Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bye-Bye Blubber-Bugs

I've always had a soft spot for the little sorrel horse, Bugs. He's a quirky little horse, prone to pulling back, gets spooked by the dumbest things and was so morbidly obese that I wondered if I was e.v.e.r. going to get the weight off of him. But it's coming off and WoW!...Is he changing.

This was him in June of 2012...

And this is him today...

This is what he looked like when I took him to Arizona in January...

And what he looks like under saddle today...

Just a little bit of a change. LOL

Starting a 10y/o horse under saddle, no matter how gentle they are, is hard enough...Taking on one who was morbidly obese for at least 6 of those years definitely comes with issues. I did a lot of starting and stopping on Bugs in the last 2 years because of how much his weight issue has affected his body and joints. When I took him to Arizona, I told my mom, either he comes out the other side of all these issues this time, or he'll have to go back to the ranch and live out the rest of his life. I wasn't exactly sure he was going to make it as anything more than a light riding horse. Sad thing is, in reality, he is the least problematic horse I am working on at the moment...So I guess he is getting a reprieve. LOL

As it was, he came up completely lame about 2 weeks before we left AZ and it wasn't until I had the farrier go over him completely that we came up with a diagnosis...He is fusing in his right hock. He's getting the same treatment for that that Moon got...cold hose, ice and liniment rubs. I am toying with the idea of putting him on Adequan. That helped Moon so much last year and this guy really does need some help in his joints. So many years of packing around all of that extra weight has compacted his joints and they are weak and lack mobility. Right now he is just on feed through supplements and they do seem to be helping, so I think the Adequan can wait for a little bit longer.

Before I went to that expense ($375), I wanted to make sure that his other little issue was fixable as well. Bugs travels with his head abnormally low. Every time I try to pick his head and neck up, his breathing gets raspy and he gets a little panicky, like he can't get his air. One of the problems I noticed on him last year was that his carotid artery was very thick and hard. Ruckusbutt showed me a massage technique (rubbing back and forth across the artery) that helped smooth and loosen the artery up and as Bugs has shed weight his neck has better mobility. He is just now starting to build correct muscling over his topline and finally has the beginnings of the ability to lift his front-end up and travel level, rather than downhill. The raspy breathing is diminishing and he doesn't feel like he's panicking anymore.

I am kind of helping break up the fat in his neck by sweating it after our rides...

I made a couple of fleece coolers before heading to Arizona and I have used the heck out of them...They are fabulous for heat therapy. After 20-30 minutes, I pull the fleece, spray the neck with Sore-No-More and massage...

In this close-up, you can see the amount of incorrectly developed neck muscle this guy has...and it's better now than it was when I started really working on breaking it down a couple of weeks ago.

After I massage each side and work on any knots I find, I take a stiff brush and really work on him with short, brisk strokes...all over his body. It's amazing how much you can promote circulation and reduce inflammation with nothing more than a stiff body brush.

For a horse I didn't think was going to make a barrel horse...Bugs has picked up the pattern VERY well...and I think once we get him physically able to rate and make the turns...he's going to take to it the same way Moon did. Like Moon, Bugs has a ground-eating stride. And this chunky, short-legged little guy can really stretch out and run...Getting stopped on the other hand...well, that is what we are working on. It's not that he doesn't understand WHOA...It's that he still finds it physically difficult to lift his back and use it to get rated down and stopped. That muscling is coming. A few million more Stop and Backs to get him strong enough to hold a level frame and start using that tremendous hindquarter of his and we will be ready to run barrels. ;-)

8 comments:

Lauren said...

That is a huge change!

Cut-N-Jump said...

It's nice seeing them come around for the better isn't it. He looks really good and I am betting he feels better and better as his conditioning work increases and he gets more and more fit.

fernvalley01 said...

He is a good looking fellow what a difference! I know that feeling of "sittin on go" I like it a lot better when the brakes work too. Nice that you are showing that a horse can still be started late in life and have some potential

Shirley said...

Hmmm, have you ever had a horse that was easy? Your boys all have their own quirks, don't they- good thing they have you! He is looking lots better. And hey- chunky shortlegged horses are what built the Quarter Horse breed! I love 'em!

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

LOL Shirley...Yes I have had a lot of horses that were easy...but I found them tremendously boring and either passed them off to someone else in my family or sold them. I prefer the thought-proving kind because I never stop learning from them. :-)

kestrel said...

Looking good! Actually kind of an incentive for me to start working off this 'winter ten' that I'm packing!

cdncowgirl said...

What a transformation!
Once he's got the stop & go figured out are you heading for some playdays with him? (as a start that is)

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

I'll take him to playdays if I have time, but it looks like my summer is packed with rodeos. I plan on hauling him and the big bay with me to as many rodeos as I can and just keep working them.