Zeloso and I actually enjoyed each other’s company today. He wasn’t such a CLOWN.

Beverley Chubb gave me some insight into this horse last night (Monday). Saturday I detected something strange in his left front heel. I showed it to her and she said, “He’s got some serious thrush happening. We should have it cleared up in four or five days.” And she proceeded to treat the hoof while I held it. Zeloso’s been indoors since the first of March due to a serious upper suspensory tear and even though we try VERY hard to keep his stall clean…

Beverley said that the thrush can come up really fast. And when I told her that the blacksmith had trimmed him Friday, she was surprised that he didn’t notice it. On Sunday, the second night of treatment, she said that Zeloso had improved tremendously and that probably before I saw the heel Saturday, there was no evidence of thrush.

The first night of treatment Zeloso stood rather well in his stall. The second night he was in the stall when we treated his foot and he tried very hard to go down into the bow. I told Beverley that the left front foot which she was holding was the foot we lifted to teach Zeloso the bow. I also mentioned that we would never get a bow as quickly as she did!

Last night I was leading him into the barn and she was in the aisle. Beverley said, “Let’s do his foot here, not in his stall. The lighting is a bit better in the aisle.”

Bill joined us. I held the lead line, Beverley worked on the hoof. And, you guessed it, Zeloso went into the bow…well ALMOST…he didn’t touch his knee to the cement floor. Of course I’m watching all of this and having a hissy fit. “He’ll hurt his knee!”

Calmly, from under the horse, Beverley said, “No he won’t. He’s not stupid.”

I countered with, “Beverley, I’m not so sure about that!!!!”

Zeloso continued to threaten to put his knee on the ground and Beverley kept working with the hoof. When she was done I led Zeloso into the stall and she said, “Winnie, that’s a smart horse.”

Flummoxed, I said, “You’ve got to be kidding!”

“No, I’m serious. He knew that we didn’t want him to place his knee on the concrete. He figured that if he threatened to do that, we’d stop treating his hoof. Although the hoof is healing nicely, it still probably hurts a bit when I’m working on it and he’d just as soon have us stop what we’re doing and leave him alone. Yep, he’s one smart horse.”

Well, who would have thought that my class clown could be the class genius? This episode has given me a new perspective on Zeloso and the next time he does “something” I’ll look deeper for an understanding and not leap at the surface answer, “He’s clowning around, AGAIN!”

During today’s ride Zelador and I cantered. I only do this when he’s responsive and doesn’t try to take charge. His right lead canter is very calm. However, he gets razzed going to the left. In order to help Zelador on the left lead, I’ll take things slowly and sort out what’s bothering him. I remember watching Etienne. He would trot Zelador in a 12 metre circle and ease into a canter that was on a 20 metre circle, then after just half a circle he went back to the trot. Whatever is bothering Zelador on the left side will be greatly eased by only doing a half circle at the canter. Once he gets used to the drill he won’t be apprehensive because he knows he’ll only canter half a circle. On the right lead we can canter all over the place. It’s quite a bit of fun.

After the left lead his left trot was rushed. It took a few minutes to restore calm and cadence. I’m thinking that it’s harder for him to engage his left hind leg, thus causing the uneasiness and need to rush through the canter, then the trot.

A few weeks ago Zelador’s work to the right in the trot was stiff. He was trying to curve his body to the left. I did quite a lot of counter-shoulder-in with him bent to the right (travelling on the left rein with Zelador’s head to the wall) and now the right is his good side. Nowadays the left trot work isn’t as good as the right, but it’s probably the same as it was when I noticed the problem to the right.

The counter-bending towards the wall is an amazing tool. I don’t have to do any work and the horse understands what I want. The wall keeps him from escaping the bend created by my aids (mainly the foot near the wall, toes turned out).

Whew, it’s hot up here in the sewing/computer room.

Talk about escaping, I’m heading to a lower level.