neato barefoot progress

Murray has been barefoot for three weeks now, which I had fervently hoped would be long enough to see some changes in his footsies, but logically expected that no real progress would be evident. But lo!  Progress there is.

When his shoes first came off, Murray was footy (tender, sensitive) on the gravel of our barn’s driveway, which is unsurprising. (I’m footy on that fucking gravel.) He’s now able to walk from his stall to the arena without any noticeable limping or guarding. Murray was also lame at the trot in the round pen during his second turnout, even though the ground was softened by recent rain. But just this week in our indoor he pranced around pretty happily and without a hitch at liberty (though a little gimpy on the lunge line).

So without further ado, here are some feet. Maybe I’ll start scaling these to the same hoof size in the future so it’s easier to see the differences.

 

Murray’s left-front is his most typical TB-ish foot. It wants to be flat and heel-less. It also has a slightly uneven hair line — something I’ve been trained to look at from the Rockley blog! But just three weeks in (see below, going left to right) the frog is a little wider and the bars are moving out to the side. It looks like there might even be more expanding to come. Maybe the heel is moving back a skosh also? Hard to tell since the views aren’t identical.


um apparently my phone also started taking pictures in different aspect ratios in the last three weeks…

The right front is the freaky foot. I’m not sure it’s clubby upright-ness is really clear here. My farrier actually doesn’t worry about this foot because, in her words, she’s figured it out. It’s the LF that causes us problems.


changes in the RF are way more dramatic!

There is some good shit happening to this foot which is SO EXCITING. This is the foot I really wanted to see progress with in this whole barefoot experiment. What I see is the old frog sloughing, and LOTS of expansion of the bars to make room for the new frog. My recent, detailed explorations of the Rockley blog shows that many feet seem to take on this pattern — the spaces around the frog widen quite a bit to make space for the new frog as it comes in.  This could also be the angle of the pics, but it looks like the heel might be moving forward too?! That could be nice.

Oh and that crackola in the middle of the frog is really deep. Actually all of the creases of the foot were threatening thrush. The central crack/crease is longer and deeper than it was before, but I think that’s actually because it’s growing out/forward, not because it’s growing up into the foot. We’ll see though.

right hind

Nothing too exciting about the right hind — although it’s the least lame foot on flexions, per the vet back in August.

It looks like there might be some widening of the frog on the right hind, and definite widening and growth of the bars.

Left hind is also somewhat unremarkable. I like the shape of these feet, though now that I’m looking at them in detail I can see that the heels are a little underrun and could do with more strength. The frog is expanding a bit, and the bars are getting more definition too. So that’s cool!


blurry pic feat. purple clicker!

Murray doesn’t yet have a heel-first landing, but that’s okay. It’s less toe first, an d I’m sure with time we’ll get there. Luckily for us, I think this kid is going to be getting turnout starting next week (dear lord jeepers please let the pastures dry out enough for turnout), and all that movement should (if my understanding is correct) help him develop some palmar hoof strength.

And if you find this all as weirdly compelling and obsessable as I do, you can find lots more at Nic Barker’s super Rockley Farm Blog.

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intended & unintended consequences of the clicker game

I started clicker training Murray with some specific goals in mind, one of them being his general attention to and engagement with me.  I also wanted to provide him with mental stimulation while he was stuck in his stall, hopefully change his ability to think and learn, and make his life a little more interesting.  The clicker training has definitely done that, but there have been some unintended consequences too.  Both good and bad.

now-Murray: hello Nicole! being with you is interesting and rewarding!

Intended: Murray is more attentive to me
To be honest, the number of shits Murray has ever given about me has been limited. He’s much more motivated by food and other horses. I’m a distant second to his first favourite person, a fact that is only tolerable because I know that the rest of humanity doesn’t even make the list. The only time Murray consistently shows any interest in me outside of when he is forced to (e.g. I’m holding him, he’s tied up with me) is when I’m the sole deliverer of food and/or comfort.

Now Murray is very interested in me.  He’s more interested even than he was when I was the one just bringing his buckets to his stall daily. In some ways, this makes no sense: he’s getting the same amount of food, so why care more when he has to work for it? On the other hand, it makes perfect sense: clicker training him literally rewards him for paying attention to me.

He neighs and whinnies at me as soon as my car pulls in the driveway, and any time I appear in his field of view, I typically get an earful.  When I come to his stall door he doesn’t immediately stomp out into his paddock (although he still does when I bring the wrapping supplies in), he walks up to me and asks to have his halter put on. It’s quite nice actually.

before-times Murray: why are you here, human?

Unintended: Murray is too attentive to me
Unfortunately, Murray now also bucks in his paddock when we are about to start training, or if I walk away from him with the grain bucket, regardless of whether it’s full or empty. Because he is obsessed with this training game, both the opportunity to play the game and the thought that the game has been taken away are cause for major celebration/major concern.

Intended: Alleviated boredom
Obviously, training my horse is alleviating the boredom he feels standing around in his stall.  Normally he would be able to spend 10-12 hours a day (night, actually) outside with his friends, doing social horsey things. Murray loves social horsey things. I can’t replicated 10 hours of social, horsey things in 1-2 hours with the clicker, but at least I can make his brain work a bit more.  He loves clicker training! And that means I did my job right (kinda).

Unintended: Created stupid, borderline dangerous anticipatory behaviors
You know how when someone posts on OTTB connect about their horse bucking and the keyboard warriors immediately jump in with “he’s clearly unhappy about something! something must be terribly wrong!”  Yeah, well my horse bucks when he’s happy. Or annoyed. Or joyful. Or excited. Or frustrated. Or has any feelings, really. These are showing up more now because the overall quality of his life has decreased (no turnout) so the few awesome things that do happen have more value.  Hopefully this will go away, but I bet it will come back any time he’s on stall rest (sigh).

it will not shock you to learn that this behavior is not appreciated in his stall or paddock

Intended: Increased learning ability
Murray actually thinks about what he’s doing now, and doesn’t go straight to lizard-brain instincts. For example: I train my horse with a big pink bucket full of grain. When we first started, he would take any opportunity to dart into the bucket and just stuff his face.  Now, I can leave the bucket unattended for a minute or so without Murray changing what he’s doing. He might look at it, but when I say “no” he goes back to what he was doing before (usually touching his target).

This was literally not a thing my horse could think of in the past. To not take the food and shove it in his chipmunk cheeks was unthinkable. But now he knows that if he just waits, and has a tiny bit of patience, the food will come to him.  This is really cool.

Unintended: Rearing
Maybe this has more to do with hand walking a stall-rested horse than it does with clicker training, but the timing is uncanny. This horse had reared maybe three times in the four years I’ve known him. In the last three weeks he’s reared a handful of times. Never anything aggressive or dangerous (beyond the inherent danger of rearing), but if he’s surprised by a stiff wind peeking between his butt cheeks or some other horse shifting in the gravel, he’s much freer about standing on his hind legs.

Unintended (unexpected?): I feel more comfortable around him
I didn’t necessarily feel uncomortable with Murray before. Especially not in his stall or tied up or in the trailer. But when we would play around at liberty or I had to do something that I knew he doesn’t love (bandage changes! standing wraps!), I was always on edge.  At liberty, he could easily, accidentally squash me without even thinking about it and it would completely be my fault. Since he’s actually paying more attention to me and where my body is and what I’m doing in order to do the right thing to get treats, Murray is way more considerate of my personal space now.  I ran around with him trotting behind me the other day, and I didn’t at all worry that he might run me down or run off with me by accident.  It was pretty cool.


practicing his sliding stops for when we change careers

Unintended: Food aggression
Er, yeah. So my horse suddenly became super food aggressive to his neighbor, who obviously watches us clicker train with great interest because there’s nothing else to do all day. Not exactly sure how I’m going to undo that one.

 

just like that

I’m hesitant to make any statements about the inevitable end of the leg hole saga, but I was quite surprised by the sudden and marked improvement in the wound this week. From the surgery date until the first of November (about seven weeks) the hole had been steadily but very slowly closing in with lovely pink scar tissue.  And I do mean slowly.  We were making 1-2 mm of progress every four days.

It even got to the point where I started lining up all of the pictures I’d been taking, scaling them to the same(ish) size based on multiple landmarks, and measuring the size of the wound with circles and lines on PowerPoint.


left to right, late September to mid November (mostly every 4 days, but with a good 2 week gap between the 4th and 5th images)

The wound was persistently puffy and open for about two weeks at the end of October (between the 4th and 5th images above), and seemed only to get angrier and threaten more proud flesh.  I hung around while my friend’s horse had a sizeable degloving wound checked out by the surgeon who treated it, and fortunately learned a good deal about granulation tissue, what it’s made of, and what it can look like. The answer: it can be made of almost nothing glued together by even less, and as a result can have a whole range of different appearances.  (Life pro tip: do not google image search “granulation tissue”).

Murray also became less well behaved during bandage changes. Despite the hand walking and the training and the increased attention, one change at the end of October was awful. And then, as I was cleaning up the wound and getting prepared to re-wrap, another piece of skin fell off. In a different location. Below the original wound.

W

T

F

I don’t have any pictures of this because I was so busy screaming NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO that I was incapable of taking a picture.

Lucky for me, RBF was on hand and pointed out that the skin that had fallen off was very superficial and I could just use some more telfa over it and it would probably heal real quick. Even better, she was right.

wound shrinkage, as indicated by my cleverly-inserted red circle

And then — miracle of miracles — a scab appeared. Right over one of the deepest and almost-proud-flesh-iest bits of the wound, a nice healthy scab just showed up one day. And the rest of it was nice and dry and that yellow-y flesh that I’ve seen on other healing wounds. I’ve never been so happy to see a scab in my whole damn life. Scabs mean healing! Scabs mean that the granulation tissue was flat enough for … well I’m not sure what for! But a scab is a great forking sign!!

There is a tiny bit of puffiness left, which I discovered when I left the wrap off for a few hours to let the leg air out a bit.  When I came back to it, the last little bit of open granulation tissue (by the blue arrow above) had puffed up, as it has been wont to do.

Our vet happened to be at the barn during this, and took a quick look. She proclaimed us almost done, and cleared Murray for limited turnout in the round pen. Murray celebrated in the way to which we have become accustomed.

8 weeks of stall rest + 1 #notoriousottb = 🏇💨🚀

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re-training tacking up

Though it’s less fun than training my pony to perform like we are in Cavalia, I’ve focused on several functional and important behaviors in Murray’s clicker education.  There are a couple of really important, glaring behaviors that anyone familiar with this horse will know we need to address.

Image result for circus horse
but… tell me why this is a bad idea?

The list goes a little like this:

1. Tacking up
2. Tacking up
3. Eat cookies Tacking up
4. Tacking up
5. Tacking up

More specifically, homeboy really needs to be able to tolerate the sensation of a girth being buckled up without melting down to the point of breaking halters or himself.  We’ve made HUGE progress on this with consistency, bribery, strategy, well-fitting saddles, fuzzy girths, and me paying a ton of attention to Murray and the environment during our whole grooming-tacking routine so I know kind of mood he’s in.

this is the approximate size of one “reward” for one click for Murray

There’s a lot of stimulus that goes on during tacking up, especially for a sissy sensitive boy like the Mu-ray.  There’s flapping fabrics and leathers, clinking buckles, great leather torture devices being slapped over his body… really, the fact that he tolerates it at all is a minor miracle.  And that is, at best, what he does —  he tolerates it.  But the whole point of this clicker training adventure is to change his feelings (and maybe thinkings) about it.  I get that for some clear-only-to-him reason he hates the initial feeling of having the girth put on.  But right now he sticks around and wiggles minimally* because he knows that it’s harder work/less pleasant not to do so.  I want him to stand still because he wants to do the right thing to get delicious, delicious candy.

(*Minimally for him, depending on the day.)

I’ve already started working on this.  The first step was teaching my horse what “the right thing” even was.  I’ve known for a while that he doesn’t actually have a solid idea of what I want him to be doing when tacking up.  He seems to understand that running away is not the thing, but there are a lot of things that aren’t technically “running away” but still aren’t the right thing (a problem with punishment-based training methods).

behold: the thing i want him to do! ideally with that bored expression on his face also

Fortunately, station/target training is a great placeholder for “stand still” right now. (“Stand still” is a very hard behavior to teach also, because it’s the absence of everything else.  And many learners think of doing to earn rewards, not not-doing, so then you have to teach them that not-doing is also a thing. But I digress.) I’m happy to tack him up with the station in front of him for the rest of time if that’s what needs to happen.  I don’t think it will be, but we’ll see. A lot of what goes on during the station training sessions is clicking and treating Murray for standing at the station for increasing amounts of time, and while I’m doing other things around him.  This includes touching him all over his body, picking out his feet, basic grooming stuff, etc. but also me walking away from him or standing in different locations.  Once Murray understands that standing at the ball is what I want, and is habitually rewarded, then I will have a huge tool in my kit for all kinds of future development (think: what if the station is by the trailer when we’re away from home, and suddenly it’s not such a great thing to break away from the trailer any more?!).

To get to work on the rest of it, I started with an interesting idea from Jen Digate of Spellbound horses: using flight to reinforce staying still.  It’s an interesting idea, and one that would definitely not work when you are working with a horse in hand (too dangerous), but in a paddock situation, it was something I could work with.

paddock large enough for some controlled flight — and look! the inherited blue jolly ball abandoned in the corner!!

I specifically started flapping a girth around while asking Murray to station at his jolly ball, and rewarding him for coming back to me and the jolly ball even if he did run away.  We pretty quickly got to a point where Murray didn’t run away from the girth any more, but he did flinch and step away slightly whenever I raised it, as if unsure about what my plan was for the girth.  I couldn’t click his behavior of standing still quickly enough, because he wasn’t really offering it.

One of the tracks that a lot of R+ based trainers get stuck in that shaping a behavior (clicking spontaneous offerings of something like the behavior you want and then only clicking for successive, more accurate iterations) is the best way to train a behavior. And maybe it is. But my experience with animal learners is that sometimes you get to a place where you have to push the established paradigm a little bit to get to the next step of learning — by luring a behavior, or in my case, forcing the issue with the girth.  So I offered Murray some grain in my left hand, and gently placed the girth over his back with the other.

Interestingly, this did the trick. Murray didn’t love it at first, but he habituated to the feeling of the girth really quickly.  After I pulled it of his back, Murray no longer flinched or stepped away from me when I raised the girth.  It was as if he better understood my intentions and was more comfortable with what I was asking.  I got to move back to clicking and treating for him stationing at his jolly ball (with a very high rate of reward for this challenging behavior) while I took the girth on and off of his back and moved it around up there.

Since that session, I’ve put a saddle pad and surcingle on him with similar success.  There was for sure a little flight when I did that first surcingle buckle up, but after two iterations he was more than happy to stand still.  I’m not quite brave enough to try this with one of my hard-won saddles yet, but we’ll get there.

celebratory gallops to follow

Obviously, this will need to be adapted for tacking up in the cross ties or barn aisle.  It’s not going to work for Murray to run away even a little bit in those areas, especially not if other horses are about.  I also know that he’s less comfortable on the asphalt surface of our barn aisle (crummy traction maybe?), so I imagine we’ll need to repeat this process ad nauseum in there as well.  But there are a ton of great building blocks in what we’ve worked on so far!  (And we haven’t even gotten to the twitching/braiding/face holding stuff yet!)

fat bottomed girl / footloose

The fat-bottomed-girl has been trimming down and shaping up lately.  MBM is such a smart and funny girl, and so different from Murray.  So different. Our time together is coming to an end, as MBM is currently on trial with her new home.  But lucky for me, her prospective owner is very lovely and has asked me to keep riding a few days a week when she can’t get out.


getting trimmer, right?

One of the biggest surprises to me with MBM is how little confidence she has in her canter.  She actually has a lovely canter when she relaxes and slows down, but her instinct is to brace and race.  Even in her more controlled canter, she will break to a trot before we get to a canter pole.  I’m  used to horses who would rather canter poles than trot them, not those who would rather trot.  But her canter will never get stronger without practice, so I’ve devised a few ways to trick MBM into cantering over poles or very small fences.  A pole or small X just three strides out from a fence works nicely — it’s far enough that it’s not stressful, but close enough that the momentum from the fence carries us forward in a canter.  In one little jump session I could feel MBM become much more confident in her canter over the poles, which was really cool.

Queen of Cantering Verticals inspects her handiwork.

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Oh and jumping. She does that. Without a second thought.  She needs a look at things before we go over them still, but she will go right over if you keep her straight to them. It’s all itty bitty baby stuff right now, but her attitude about it is super cool.


sporty, sleek mare vs. fluffy, feral gelding

Murray, on the other hand, is as fluffy and feral as ever.  Our clicker training is going so well, but unfortunately I had to back off the hand-walking because he’s gotten a couple of bandage rubs.  Those are closing up really quickly, but walking is unlikely to help them.

Thanks to being stuck in his stall more and the quick change in the weather (it was 80 on Saturday and 35 on Monday night, Murray is getting pretty uppity.  Our hand walk on Sunday was a little wild.  My attempts to  keep him at arm’s length from me were not totally successful, and I got shoulder checked a couple of times.  Murray didn’t seem to understand that shoulder checking me led to no treats, but did care about being pushed away and rewarded me with plenty of head shaking and body wiggles.

Poor pony boy got so confused when he saw another horse walking by the arena in a halter.  He thought he was going to get some turnout time and started leaping and playing around on the end of the lead rope. I got his head back on his shoulders, and we continued our walk.

And then a stiff breeze blew up his butt.  More shenanigans ensued, but as always, he didn’t pull me and directed all flailing feet far away from me.  I stood there and thought “why am I not taking pictures of this?”  He bucks big and leaps in the air to boot, it’s completely ridiculous, yet weirdly in control, which is why I seem to find it funny.

Of course, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurts.

When we walked past one of the turnouts on our way back to the barn, Murray wiggled and flailed and his left hind came to the side (classic Murray move) and grazed the back of my right leg and glanced off my right quad above the knee.  I’ve never been kicked before so have no frame of reference, but this was pretty mild I suspect.  I doubled over and took some deep breaths to get myself sorted and re-oriented.  And by the time I thought “oh, Murray should probably know that this is an unacceptable behavior” he was standing quietly at the end of his lead rope looking at me, like “what, did something happen?”

So yeah. Do not recommend.

BUT the mighty leg hole has reached a new stage of healing (there’s a SCAB!!!!!!!!!) which means that we are probably only a couple of weeks out from some real turnout. And then  Murray will be back to his normal, lazy, dopey self. Hallelujah.

weirdly delighted at the hoof detail you can see in this

 

click or treat

Mu-ray and I have been hitting the clicker training hard the last week or so.  I know that I professed that I would be doing training like crazy, but I avoided it for a few weeks.  To be honest, a big part of it is the judgement I receive at my barn about clicker training.  Some people are just curious and ask a lot of questions.  Some people don’t believe that it can be used to practically train horses to do anything other than “tricks”, and have told me that enough times that I just get a little… self conscious.


But enough people have heard me mope and whine about Murray’s leg hole that they’ve stopped asking, so I don’t need to keep explaining myself! Hooray, leg hole persistence.

The other reason I was avoiding training is that Murray wasn’t actually being very… cooperative. Pre-masticating several carrots just to have Murray crawl all over me to get his treats and not really pay attention to the click-treat paradigm is a waste of time and, quite frankly, not fun.  But then I had a little breakthrough with the treats.  Carrots are too high value right now.  Maybe because he’s on stall rest and needs enrichment in general, but carrots were just way too over-stimulating.  But a tiny handful of stable mix and rolled barley (a portion of his standard grain ration)?  Perfect.  He was willing to work for it, but his brain wasn’t shut down by the OMG SO GOOD desirability of the treat.

Pop quiz time! Which of the following things is Murray not known for?

a) his politeness and reasonable spatial awareness while hand walking
b) his attention to his handler’s stop/go motion while hand walking
c) his ability to control his feelings and not rear or buck at passing trucks while hand walking
d) all of the above

It is as Digital Underground said: the answer is D, all of the above.

when Murray bucks in-hand it’s actually weirdly polite: directed away from me (though not necessarily from other humans/animals) and he never pulls on me — once he hits the end of the lead rope he stops

We started re-establishing the basic click-treat connection while hand-walking.  Despite what my title says, if you click, you must treat.  Otherwise the relationship of the bridge breaks down.  When I stop, you stop.  When I go, you go.  When I say back, you go back.  This really helped me figure out how little food I could use as an effective reinforcer.  I started with my cupped hand full of grain — this was too much.  First, it took too long for Murray to hoover it out of my hand.  Second, with a high rate of reinforcement he ended up with too much food is his mouth and couldn’t keep accepting rewards.

Eventually, I realised that as few as five or six pellets of stable mix or about a tablespoon of rolled barley (or a combination thereof, as I mix the two together in a bucket) worked really well.  It was enough that Murray was satisfied, small enough that I could move my hand around for different positioning quite easily, and little enough that even with a really high rate of reinforcement Murray never had a bunch of food left in his mouth. I should have taken a picture of this amount, it’s smaller than you’d think.  And bonus: I no longer had to pre-masticate carrots.

To you this is a picture of a horse totally normally playing with a toy. To me, this is my horse performing a learned behavior that he literally did not know until today.  This jolly ball has sat in his paddock for a year.  He’s never touched it until today (some other horse threw it in there and his owner never reclaimed it).

Since last week, I’ve worked on a combo of stationary and in-motion behaviors.  When we’re walking I really want Murray to maintain a polite distance (at least one elbow’s-width from me) and not step into my bubble.  This definitely involves me throwing some elbows to remind him as well as clicking and treating.  On the ground there’s a whole suite of behaviors I’m excited to work on!  Like, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to touch my horse all over his body without having to use my entire body weight to hold his head down?  He doesn’t have to like it, I will happily take resigned but stationary annoyance when I clean out his nostrils and wipe down his face.  Even brushing his forelock is more dramatic than it needs to be — he doesn’t even dislike it, he just has to lift his head as high as he can when I lift up my arm, just in case I’m planning something awful.

So I trained it away. I lifted my hand up, and when Murray put his head down, I clicked and treated. Now when I lift my hand up he puts his head down and I can — gasp — put my hand on top of his head even though he’s way way way way way taller than I am.

I’ve been pretty impressed with how quickly this is coming along.  Not even just the behaviors (some are moving faster than others), but Murray’s ability to learn has improved in the last week.  For example, the other day, for the first time ever, Murray let me spray him in the face with fly spray.  Yes, not a spray on a brush and then tolerate putting it on his face.  He stood there, I sprayed him in the face (albeit from relatively far away so the drops that got to him were very small), and he didn’t run away,  break his halter, or break me.  That took a bunch of repetitions of me spraying fly spray on and around him with lots of reward for standing still, then quietly creeping the spray higher up his neck.  But it happened, and in about ten minutes too.

Now we’re working on station training so I can get pone to stand still while I mess with his body or do other things (coughtackupcough).  It’s going… okay.  Right now it’s more of target training, because Murray is only just learning that interacting with the jolly ball = treat.  What I really like about this video is that you can see his ears perk forward when he hears the click — it’s such a good demonstration of the value of the bridge. (Although I did commit the original sin of shooting in portrait.)

Here’s the last minute — literally — of our training session on Wednesday.  I changed the context up a little bit and stepped into his paddock (I’d done most of the work from the outside, as you can see in the first pic), and then moved further away from the ball.  Murray was torn between sticking close to me (holder of the pink bucket, giver of goodness).  Once I repositioned myself in relation to the ball, he was able to get back to the task at hand.

Hopefully I’ll have some fun clicker training updates in the future!  Our hand walking has to be cut back a bit because Murray got a rub under his bandage, so I think I can only really walk extensively if the bandage is off.  And that only happens every four days.  So there will definitely be more in-stall/paddock training sessions in our future.

 

five stages of standing wraps

Murray has been on stall rest and in standing wraps for the last 10 days or so (per veterinarian request).  He doesn’t mind the stall rest so much, which is surprising.  Usually when he’s on stall rest he shits in his waterer or feed bucket in protest.  But he seems to have accepted his fate as a stall-only-pony for now, and his feeding stations remain un-defiled.

The standing wraps, however, have been a discussion.  Or… six.

Murray has never really loved standing wraps on his hind legs, and I get them on at shows by distracting him with a bucket and/or alfalfa.  I usually throw wraps on him as quickly as humanly possible when I’m wrapping to trailer, and then there’s the requisite “my legs are broken I can’t walk” period.  Every time.  One would think that with the frequency he gets stuff put on his hind feet, he’d remember that they exist all the time, not just when they are unencumbered by boots or polos.  But no.  (I think he has a proprioception problem. Honestly.)

When you discover you have to wrap your horse every day until the wound on his cannon is healed and proud-flesh free though?  Dissatisfaction will reign all around.

Start with denial.  You’ve been in this stage for six weeks already, wrapping the wound as little as possible in general, why change now?  Oh yeah, because your vet told you to.  This stage lasts 45 seconds to half an hour after the vet leaves and you decide to do what you’re told by medical professionals.  Put your wraps on slowly and methodically because it’s important to get them even and wrinkle-free.

Then get angry.  Because your horse won’t stand still for standing wraps, you’re going to wrap him as fast as humanly possible.  Who cares if the wraps look  bad or are a little uneven.  They aren’t pressure bandages, they’re just there to keep his muscles from swelling out from under his skin for no good reason you stupid fucking wound on the front of a cannon caused by some goddamn scabs fucking fuck.  Slowly, your anger-wrapping gets quicker and tidier.

Bargain with your horse a little to make the wrapping experience more pleasant.  Hide carrots in his hay so he can forage for them while you wrap his legs.  Get really good at holding the lead rope in one hand or over your shoulder but just within reach while quickly wrapping with the other two.

When it seems like you’ve been wrapping for an eternity (it’s been four days, btw) you’ll start to get depressed.  The rapid healing and flattening that the wound was showing when you first started putting steroids on it has slowed, and it looks like this thing will never heal. Seriously, will it ever heal?!  You’re getting really good at standing wraps, but who needs to know how to wrap legs when your horse’s legs are probably all going to fall off and you’ll never be able to ride him on his little stumps of hocks anyway.

who needs hind canons anyway? not us!

Circle back to anger when Murray decides to run away from you mid-wrap one day.  Seriously, a third of the way into the wrap and he just runs away from you into his paddock.  He’s not panicked or afraid, or in any way concerned about the purple snake that’s trailing him from the stall.  He knows what he’s done, and he was willing to accept the consequences.  Tie him up and wrap him in the aisle from now on.

Victory comes when the Notorious OTTB stands tied in the aisle for you to do his standing wraps, both of them, without a walk break in the middle.  Ahhh victory, sweet victory.