When Mommy came to the barn today for our daily workout, I have to admit that I didn’t really want to do much of anything. It’s not that I was tired; I had a lot of energy. But it was a beautiful day, the grass is starting to get green again, and I just wanted to hang out. I mean, I did want to work this morning, but there was no way I could have told my Mommy that, and it was only about 32 degrees this morning. In my Mommy’s book, that is just way too cold.
Mommy told me that today is my last day to be a baby. I mean, technically I’m full grown, but once I turn six, I can’t be so silly and immature anymore. I have to start working hard; now is the time.
Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that I’ll be working seven days every week; you know my Mommy, and she would never do that to me. No, it means that my workouts are getting more difficult, more technical… and, instead of working me three days on and one day off, she’s going to be working me four days on and one day off. Mommy said that she still doesn’t want me working more than four days in a row – and maybe occasionally five, but only if at least three of those are flat days, and the week’s workout load hasn’t been too heavy – because she wants to give my muscles and joints time to recover and repair themselves from all of the repetition in my workout. You see, Mommy knows that repetitive hard work is as hard on a horse’s joints as jumping big jumps, and that the best way to keep me from developing Degenerative Joint Disease (what the vets call “DJD” because the full name is really a mouthful) is to allow me enough rest in between.
You see, although DJD sounds like it’s something that only old, worn out horses get after a lifetime of working hard, it’s actually a breakdown of the joints caused by excessive workout with not enough rest.
It’s complicated, but it all comes down to the same thing: ruined joints and lots of pain. I mean, humans work themselves out, too; they know what it’s like to feel sore after a hard workout, even when they’re in really great shape, like I am. So, when I work hard, Mommy takes into account the fact that I’ll be sore, and makes sure that she adjusts my workout schedule accordingly.
Anyway, we started out with a stretchy, easy workout; I was being really good, but then – after we had finished warming up at the canter – Mommy started asking me for some lead changes. We warmed up with easy ones – across the diagonals, big serpentines, things like that. But then she wanted me to practice doing a few lead changes in a row down the long side, because she knows I still have a tough time with that. I was trying my best, but I’m a perfectionist; whenever I messed one up, I would get really frustrated. Mommy wouldn’t get frustrated when I messed up, though – she would just ask me to do it again.
But she did get frustrated when I started acting out my own frustration in ways like… bucking and then taking off afterward.
Finally, she stopped me and said, “Icarus, I know I said that this was your last day to be a baby, but I think you’re taking it a little bit too far!”
She was right, actually, so I sucked it up and tried harder… and I did it!
Well, once I did that perfectly in each direction, Mommy let me stretch out again, getting into half-seat and giving me the reins so I could put my head down and stretch out my back. I stretched out at the trot and the canter, and then Mommy said that we could be done. If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, we’re going to jump again… and this time, we’ll be doing an entire course at four feet high!
After Mommy finished grooming me until I was clean and shiny, Dr. Matthew showed up! I like Dr. Matthew. Not only is he really nice, but he’s been there a lot to make me feel better when I was sick or hurt. Most horses don’t like vets, but I like everybody. Especially people whose presence always means I’m going to be safe and protected!
Well, today, Dr. Matthew came to give us our dewormer, give us our flu/rhino vaccinations, and take some blood for our updated “Coggins test.” If us horses want to travel from state to state or go to a competition, we need to have a certificate saying that we don’t have “Equine Infectious Anemia.” Because, as you can probably tell… it’s infectious! Anyway, as part of the Coggins test – after he drew some blood to send to the lab – Dr. Matthew took pictures of me with a funny looking camera. I did my best to pose nicely, just like Mommy and Daddy taught me! Mommy even said jokingly to Dr. Matthew, “Yeah… he’s not a ham or anything!”
Dr. Matthew told Mommy that I look really good! He said I’ve filled out and muscled up so much since the first time he met me, almost exactly a year ago! He told us that the grass will become toxic in about a month – but only for horses who shouldn’t be eating a lot of it… like horses who are fat, or tiny, or who aren’t in regular work. Mommy asked him, “So, should Icchy…” but before she could even form the question, he smiled and said, “No, Icchy can eat grass all day, every day, if you keep him in the kind of shape he’s in right now. He’ll be fine eating as much grass as he wants!” Dr. Matthew was impressed when Mommy told him that she and I jumped five feet last month, and he also said that I have a really level head! (Not as in, my head is shaped properly – but meaning that I’m smart, cool, calm and collected… except for when I’m not, that is!)
Anyway, after I said goodbye to Dr. Matthew, Mommy put me in my stall with my dinner hay so I could watch Kenya ride Isis, and wait until Isis was done so we could all have our dinner grain!
All in all, it was a nice day… I didn’t even mind having blood drawn or getting a shot. And I’m used to eating dewormer, so that wasn’t too bad, either. But now, I’m going to go eat the rest of my night hay and cuddle up in my warm blanket for some rest. I’ll catch y’all tomorrow… and you had BETTER be here tomorrow! Because it’s my birthday! And I can’t wait to find out what Mommy made for me!