Moe’s triumphant return to dressage
Since his EPM diagnosis and subsequent treatment last fall, Moe has been doing very little. He went cross country schooling in January, and I’ve sporadically pulled him out of the pasture to hack around on. His post-EPM prognosis was always good, but I thought that he might be ready to wind down from vigorous activity.
This is something like the third time I’ve attempted to retire him, and something like the third time I’ve been wrong.
Moe whinnied from the pasture and trotted up to the gate any time he saw me hitching up the horse trailer. He was always the first horse to greet me in the pasture. He’d hang his head over the gate and watch as I led Candy into the barn. I brought him out to groom him and let him graze in the yard, but I didn’t ride. Moe got fat and shaggy as the winter wore on, and he looked fantastic when the last of his scraggly belly hairs shed out this spring.
As I became increasingly frustrated with Candy, I contemplated returning Moe to regular work. I rode him twice last week and decided at the last minute to enter him in one test at a schooling show. My primary concern was how Moe felt at a show after trailering, being stalled, and dealing with temperatures in the 90s.
Our ride time was 3 PM, but I hauled Moe and a friend’s horse down to the show around 11 AM. I stuck Moe in his stall; he spent most of the day sticking his head into the aisle to watch the activity in the barn and mug for treats. (He managed a piece of Laffy Taffy, a pizza crust, and several horse cookies.)
I spent most of my warm-up walking him around. The heat and his general lack of fitness made me nervous he’d be tired halfway through the test. I shouldn’t have worried- Moe was zipping right along once he got in the sandbox! Our canter lengthenings were more like semi-controlled bolts, and I thought he was going to jump out of the arena during the stretchy trot circle.
We earned a 62.5% on First Level Test 2, which was fine by me! Moe felt great during our ride. He was forward, eager, and felt sound and happy.
I’m planning to take him to a few more dressage shows this year. I’m not sure if a return to regular jumping is in our future, though. Moe has a small cloudy spot on his right eyeball from an infection that took a long time to heal. There’s no indication it’s affecting his vision much (if at all), but I don’t want him to misread a jump and get into trouble. He didn’t have any issues with the small jumps on the cross country course in January, so maybe we can poke around at beginner novice for fun this fall.
I know Moe won’t live forever, but I’m glad he’s healthy and hale at age 23. He seems to enjoy having a job, and I’m happy to give him one as long as he wants!