I find myself humming a Beatles tune these days as I ride Forrest:
"I've got to admit it's getting better,
A little better all the time,
I have to admit it's getting better,
It's getting better, since you've been mine!"
As you read this, I've trotted Forrest four times under saddle so far, and yes, he does improve with each ride. The longeing broncs are still there and I'm highly suspicious that they stem from an area that palpates sore exclusively in his right loin; beginning directly behind where the right cantle would rest and back to just past his flank.
I'm not going to lie: Forrest does not have perfect X-rays; he has a bone spavin on his right hock and we all know the hock/back connections. I'm doing my best to be proactive with my vet, Dr. Freer's, recommendations: a course of Adequan and Cosequin supplements. I'm also trying a supplement that I sheepishly (because it has not been peer reviewed or scientifically proven) told her about. They are OCD Pellets that supposedly strengthen bones and joints and, yes, I fell hook, line and sinker for the testimonials of riders, trainers and breeders who actually signed their full names, instead of the vague, "Works great, says B.S. of Peoria."
I have also lined up a squadron of assistants for Team Forrest. Besides Dr. Freer, Forrest is now being seen for chiropractic and acupuncture work by USDF gold medalist and DVM, Dr. Joy Baker. Forrest gave the big, hairy, eye to her needles upon first glance, but soon completely relaxed and, er, let it all hang out.
One week after Joy worked on him, I brought in my neighbor, Kathy Woody, who does terrific deep-tissue equine massage, and boy, did Forrest tell her, it hurts so good.
The subsequent ride felt the best yet, and this is my favorite photo of the two of us because, while I'm cut out of it, I love how pleasantly he is accepting my leg and trotting forward, purposely, with such a soft, breathing, connection.
Joy will return in just under two weeks for another session. In the meantime, Forrest now follows me around his stall, in reverse, begging for me to work on his butt. Of course I do. Any horse that is trying this hard after only a handful of rides deserves all I can give him. And any horse that doesn't try, is probably trying to tell us something...