Friday evening I returned from gardening. As I was walking in the back door, Bill was preparing to exit via the front door. He said, “I’m going to ride Zeloso.”

“Have fun!”

Bill returned about an hour later and said, “I’m wondering if Zeloso is feeling a bit ‘off’. When I was putting on the saddle he brought his head around to the girth, then he sort of bit at the post near the stall door.”

This didn’t sound good to me, “That’s unusual for Zeloso.”

Bill continued, “When I got to the arena I decided not to get on right away. I did some work in-hand and he was really good. I got on and it felt like he was going to explode. I proceeded slowly. I did all the Philippe Karl work at the walk and finally felt that Zeloso would trot without losing his mind. He did O.K., but still felt like he was ready to explode. There was NO WAY that I was going to canter. Then Zeloso started moving his shoulders left to right at the walk. I got off and asked for the piaffe and he was GREAT! He’s really improved.”

I commented, “Well, he’s a thinker and we have been practicing a few steps every day.”

Bill repeated his concern about Zeloso not feeling well and I promised to keep an eye on him. Muttering to myself…the last thing I need is to lose this horse!!!!!

An hour or so later we headed to the barn for night feed. I checked Zeloso’s stall and he’d pooped a bit more than usual. Zelador, on the other hand, pooped a bit less.

Zeloso eagerly ate his dinner. I entered the stall to fill his water bucket. He’s very polite about remaining in the stall if I leave his door open while I work in there. Well, wouldn’t you know, out he went! I figured, “He’s not his usual self.” I fetched him and shut the stall door.

The next morning Bill was with me to turn the horses out. He took Zeloso and I followed with Zelador. Bill was just leaving Zeloso in the round pen as I approached the gate. I said, “William, look at that horse.” He sort of mumbled something and I repeated, “BILL, look at that horse.” He did and said nothing. “Bill, THAT horse is Zelador. You took him out of Zeloso’s stall. You rode Zelador last night, not Zeloso. Now we know why the horse was so different.”

Pretty scary, huh?

I started to think back on the previous day to piece together what had happened.

It all must have started with us bringing in the two boys from their paddock. In our defense, they had fly masks on. AND, lately my campaign to slowly reduce Zelador’s weight seems to be working. Although he does not have the same body-type as Zeloso, Zelador is now a bit slimmer…a bit more like Zeloso.

This summer Zelador is getting lighter in colour and he’s looking more like a flea-bitten grey with the flecks turning a light brown…just like Zeloso.

Now I understand why the horse left the stall when I was filling the water bucket. Zelador always attempts to leave the stall and my vigilance is the only thing that’s kept him in.

During the tacking up Bill used the all-purpose saddle. The girth barely fits Zeloso. Zelador’s belly is a bit bigger…no wonder the horse Bill was tacking up turned his head around to put a stop to this tightening-the-already-tight-girth nonsense!

He also placed Zeloso’s bridle on Zelador. The good news is: the bits are the same. The “other” news is: Zelador’s head IS bigger than Zeloso’s and I’m guessing the fit wasn’t something Zelador was happy about. I mentioned this to Bill Saturday morning and he said he’d checked the bridle fit…yep…

My thoughts on the ride…well…I certainly could understand what Bill was talking about when he said, “I thought he was going to explode.” Welcome to my world!!!!!

Then, there’s the work in-hand and the greatly improved piaffe. Sigh…for a brief twelve hours I thought Zeloso had caught up with his brother in these two departments.

The bottom line…we’re getting old, our eye sight isn’t what it used to be. And, to make matters MORE challenging I just purchased fly masks that have a nose protector which will totally disguise each horse. So I’m figuring we’ll have to put toe nail polish on one of the boys so that we can tell them apart!