I had plans for this week, oh so many plans. But the Universe said, “Ha ha, take a break!” Tarma’s coming off her first endurance ride, so I gave her last week off. We did some ground work and I lunged her a few times, but I didn’t ride until Monday. On Sunday I drove up to Washington and spent over an hour with the local DP Saddlery rep, sitting on a dozen DP saddles of all types. I didn’t like any of them save the Western, so I was able to bring that one home as a demo. I played around with it a bit on Monday, and everything was pretty normal until Tarma’s massage. I usually do a light tracing of her topline and butt after a ride, and she’s shown she really enjoys this process, lots of big yawns and her head gets droopy. On Monday she added a weird coughing bit, but again, not too abnormal. When I led her to her stall, she was dragging her right hind hoof, and instead of diving into her alfalfa she just stood in her stall.
Immediately my spidey sense was activated, so instead of heading home as I usually do, I sat in her stall and watched her. She didn’t eat or drink, but she wasn’t sweaty or irritated, no kicking at her belly. She was standing weirdly, with her right hind stretched out behind her. Then she just laid flat out, which she’s never done with me nearby. Oh, she’ll roll with me right near her, both in the ring and on the Hi Tie, but she always pops right back up. She laid down, flat out, for about ten minutes, but she still didn’t seem comfortable. And again, it wasn’t her normal after a ride to lay down, she normally chows down instead. As much as I was worried about her in the moment, later I recognized what a sign of trust it was, for her to lay down near me while she was in pain. Tarma of a year ago wouldn’t have done that, she would have held herself apart and waited for me to go away.
When she got back up it was clear something was wrong, so I called my poor barn owner from her bed to come help me check her and determine if we had to call a vet. We took Tarma’s temp (normal), but it was clear she didn’t really want to put weight on her right hind, although there was no swelling, no heat or bumps anywhere. We gave her some Banamine and a few minutes later she perked up and dived into her dinner. I went home and barely slept, joking that I should have left my trailer at the barn so I could have just slept there instead.
In the morning my barn owner put her in a smaller, separate pasture with access to a round pen with nice rolling sand, saying she looked a bit stiff. Another bit of Banamine on board and a few hours and Tarma moved a lot better, so the barn owner tossed her in her regular pasture so she wouldn’t irritated pace all day, separated from her herd. When I hopped in the truck to go check on her at lunch time, the truck literally hissed at me, signs of a brake line hose not quite right, so I was stuck at home. This was not a fun day. I called it on the riding plans I’d had for later in the week, riding with my trainer’s group up on Mount Hood. Even if Tarma was fine and the husband could fix the truck (both of which came true) I didn’t want to risk a trip up to the mountains and a long hard ride with both the horse and the truck not 100%.
When I finally got back to the barn later that night, Tarma was perfectly fine. The Banamine had long worn off but she trotted and cantered and farted around normally, not a hitch to her stride, weighting her right hind equally. I gave her another topline massage and she loved it, no sore points I could tell, although I have a new body worker scheduled for Sunday and we’ll see what she finds. By the time I dragged myself home after fussing over her, the husband had the truck fixed. Today I hauled out to my trainer’s for a lesson in the demo DP, and I think I’m in love. Tarma and I still have plenty to work on with my seat and bending and rein contact, but the saddle kept me in place without having to wiggle around to keep finding my spot, and I actually liked having a horn. Tarma moved out under it really well, no fussing other than her normal “I have a different idea for what should be happening here” that we discussed and worked through. I won’t be keeping the demo saddle, it’s too pink for her and doesn’t have all the D rings I want, but I might go with a similar DP. I like the comfort and additional security of the Western style, and it flares a bit around her shoulder so it’s not sitting so far back towards her hips. There’s one more type of DP I’d like to demo, from their Quantum line, which is a Western type but flocked like an English saddle. But of all the 50 odd saddles I’ve hopped in this summer, this one feels most like home.