Monday, August 21, 2006

How Important Are Teeth?

I took Zoe for a ride down the road with Lili. She was really awesome. On high alert at the beginning, but got braver as we went. We had to go by a house close to the road, with fences and trees, and children riding bikes. She was on alert for that, but kept going by without incident. We had 5 cars pass us by (strange way out here). One car was a big tow truck -- loud and big. She about jumped out of her skin with that one, but she wasn't too bad. Feet weren't off that ground for more than a split second. :-) On the way home we had to walk by the kid-house again. This time they had a go-kart zooming on the street (put it away before we got too close, thank god), a tractor started up as we approached, and 2 cars went by. Zoe did great. She stopped several times, but so did Lili (the experienced one). Zoe at least went forward when I clucked and squeezed. I think B. was having a harder time on Lili. To Lili's credit, she was picking up on Zoe's nervousness and reacting to that a bit.

During the rest of the beautiful ride, Zoe felt great. She was a bit crooked for much of it, but as she relaxed, she got straighter. I felt a huge, floaty trot. So nice. I wish we could have had a movie camera loaded on a truck following along with us, because I think these horses would have looked beautiful trotting down the road tonight. We even did some cantering. I could tell Zoe enjoyed it. She is funny, though; she didn't want to get ahead of Lili, even though we were on the opposite side of the street. If she got a neck's length in front, she immediately slowed down. Still, I was very proud of her (and me) for being so brave. I need to tell you about last night...

This probably deserves a post of it's own, titled, "Gunshot and Gunshy, but still riding".

Chiropractor came out -- only did a health certificate for Zoe for the show in Kentucky September 10 -- but I was at the barn and had time afterwards, so I decided to ride. Thanks have to go to my dear husband for making that happen. His adventure with horses was cut short because I had totally forgotten about the chiro coming and we were there for him to have his first ever ride on Jimmy. We had to cut it a bit short. Pure coincidence that we were at the barn the same time the chiro showed up. [What is happening to my brain, by the way??] But S. did SUPER. I did break down laughing once when he got a bit off balance and almost fell off. It was his reaction that I thought was funny. He was laughing at it, too! He did a great job of rebalancing himself and staying on. It wouldn't have been funny if he had fallen. Self-preservation does kick in and let you do some amazing things...

Anyway, I am supposed to be talking about Zoe.

I decided to take a spiin on Zoe. Well, the crazy neighbors 1/2 mile away were busy shooting guns for some reason. So there were big pows! and bangs! happening every few minutes, which had Zoe on edge. Several times I thought it wasn't the best idea for me to get on her, but I kept going. She got a bit crazy when I put the bridle on, wanted to bolt for an instant, for example. Then to mount her I had to work with her to stand still. I got on (with her standing still, by the way), but as soon as we I wanted to move out after mounting, she went up into a rear. Stood on her hind legs for what seemed like minutes. That girl has some balance. It wasn't scary, but when we rounded the side of the barn, Lili was excited and upset in the paddock. I thought it not wise to walk Zoe next to that with a narrow path between the paddock and the apple trees. So I got off right there and walked her out to outdoor. I walked her all around the arena with the gun shot going off until she started to calm down. B. came out, too. That gave me some confidence. When I thought she was calm enough, I decided to mount. Okay, so I had my dressage whip in hand at the time. I got one foot in the stirrup, stood in the stirrup, put my right hand (with the whip) up and she immediately wanted to take off. I took my one foot out of the stirrup and stopped her and jumped to the ground (or jumped to the ground and then stopped her). Did that twice. Then I decided I better do a small mounting exercise with B.s help. B. held her while got on and off (without the whip in hand). Then B. let go and I got on with no incident. So I walked around. Good. At that point I had built enough confidence to keep on going. We had a little ride, walk/trot/canter. She wasn't that great at the canter. Kicked out (a high kick!) picking the canter up to the left. I was tending to scrunch down with my upper body. I hate it when I do that. As soon as I had better form, so did she. So we had a nice turn in the arena with the gunshots going on. I tended to stay away from the south end of the arena, the side closest to the gunshot. Why puch my luck??

Yeah, I didn't push my luck last night, but I guess I did tonight. After a wonderful ride down the road, we got back to the barn and started to untack. I had Zoe in the cross tie area. I was taking off her bridle. To do that, I have the reins over her neck, the halter in the left hand ready to slip on after the bridle is off, and I take the bridle off standing on her left side with my right hand under her head on the right side and my left hand, with halter, on the left side to slip that side off. Somehow, and I have no idea how this happened, Zoe managed to get the rein through her right leg. I really don't know how this could have happened. I supposed that she could have suddenly pulled her head down, maybe to wipe her mouth?, pawed with her right leg at the same time, came back up with the rein around her leg. I suppose that could have happened. Regardless, she got the reins around her right leg and freaked out. She started pulling her head up and feeling the pressure. I was just about to get the headstall over her ears when she pulled up, which yanked the bridle out of my hands, and she probably felt pressure from both sides, top and bottom. Freaked. At that point, I just had to tell her "easy.." and hope she didn't hurt herself. I don't really care about the bridle. I pretty much hate the bridle anyway. I like the fancy browband (made by friends of ours who are starting a fancy browband business, Simple Change Browbands), but the rest of it is a piece of crap. She/we got the bridle off. I thought she must have broken it, but it was fine.

As I was gathering up the bridle and getting Zoe back to face the front of the cross ties, B. asked if she hurt her tongue. She thought she saw blood. So I took a closer look. Yep, lots of blood, but nope, not the tongue. I saw immediately that she was missing her third incisor on the right side. Sigh. I looked on the ground and found the tooth. Great. My horse is going to have a big, rotten spot in her mouth now, I thought. Figures. She's fitting right into the family of animal misfits with medical bill after medical bill. Needless to say, this brought me way down after an excellent ride down the road. I came home and started looking for equine incisor information. Looks like the permanent 3rd incisor doesn't come in until the horse is 41/2 to 5 years old. That could be good news. Zoe is only 4 (in May). It could be that she was losing that baby tooth anyway and that's why it came out. Boy, am I hopeful that that is the story. I do feel pretty confident that it will be something like that. She had no trouble eating, drinking, etc. I looked at some pictures online of baby incisors that were pulled, and to my untrained eye, they looked pretty similar to the tooth I had from Zoe! So I do feel much better now. It's a pretty small tooth, and I bit the root is still down there, so tooth will emerge. But I am concerned about possible infection, etc. I'll call the vet in Arthur tomorrow morning to see about having her checked out. The more I think about it, I feel more and more sure that this was a baby tooth that she was going to lose anyway. I guess just keep your fingers crossed. Will she be a mutant that fits into the family, or are we the luckiest girls around today?

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