Busy days entangled me in their vine, rainy days and severe storms left the ground suitable only for slopping through the mud while being attacked by mosquitoes, and illness and a thrown shoe bestowed Dexter with several lackadaisical days – too many of those easygoing days. Dexter was only sparingly ridden throughout winter and early spring due to the aforementioned factors, but now that spring has fully sprung, leaving the grass green and the trees flourishing, Dexter has been able to be exercised under saddle much more frequently.
Just when it appeared I would be able to ride Dexter more often, my beloved gelding began to look very poor. We realized that his dull, slowly shedding coat and his distorted belly insinuated that he was wormy. We treated him with Panacur Powerpac, which is very effective in ridding the horse’s system of strongyles.
Before long, my grandson of Storm Cat began to appear to be back to his old self. His dull, fuzzy coat began to shed, revealing a gleaming mahogany coat, his eyes became brighter, and his walk grew more energetic. He was ready to ride again.
Prior to Dexter’s illness, one
of our rides of the winter had been quite unsuccessful. He had displayed that
he had become barn sour and much too eager to go at a faster pace than I asked
him for. Once I began riding him again, I mostly rode him far from the barn,
focusing on softening his mouth, his turning, and slowing him down.
Photo: Terri Cage
Yet again, Dexter disclosed his great intelligence, responding to all of my cues while making it clear that his goal was to please me. During our last several rides, I have ridden him in a greater variety of locations in my back pasture, long trotting him to restore his muscle tone, doing many bending exercises to soften his mouth and improve his turning, and simply riding him at a walk and trot to slow him down.
Training Dexter never fails to show me how intelligent the great creature we call the Thoroughbred is, how reliable and intellectual a retired racehorse can be. Each time I settle aboard Dexter, I can’t help but be in awe by the fact that I am riding a grandson a Storm Cat, a descendant of the great horses Ack Ack, Affirmed, Native Dancer, Ribot, and Secretariat, and a winning Thoroughbred that hails from the most prolific of all female families – female family one. But most of all, Dexter has proved to me that he is one of the kindest, most willing horses I have ever come across. And our past few rides have certainly taught me that it’s never too late to go back to the basics.
|One of my favorite views: watching the sun|
go down from aboard Dexter!
Photo by Mary Cage
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