Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hot and Steamy

It's hot again. And when it isn't hot, it's humid enough to feel hot. Needless to say, I'm not working Spider very hard. Mostly we've been doing relaxed, stretching work to build his muscles up, mostly at the trot. I've been riding in two point position to help build my own muscles up as well. Although, my knees are starting to bother me a bit, I may need to go back to posting. We've been hacking a bit, too. I don't have a lot of places to ride outside of the arena, but there are a few trails in the woods behind my house and a big hay field next door that I can ride in. It's enough to relieve the boredom of constant ring work.

Time is a huge constraint now, too. The horses are still in the dry lot, which is about 66 ft square. It's much larger than what many horses have access to, but much smaller than what mine are used to. They are not pleased. They are also used to being able to graze at liberty. The best I can do is offer them hay several times a day, but they still end up spending a lot of their day standing around being bored. So, I take them out to hand graze in the lawn (which is dandelion free) for a bit every day, to give them some distraction from their "incarceration". Unfortunately, hand grazing takes up time that I could be spending riding. I know they appreciate it, though.

Vinny isn't showing much improvement yet, but that's to be expected. From what I've read, it seems that the False Dandelion toxin physically damages the nerves (as opposed to just disrupting the chemical transmissions as many toxins do). Physical nerve damage takes an extraordinary amount of time to heal. The impervious myelin sheath that surrounds a nerve acts like an insulator. It speeds up the transmission of nerve impulses by not allowing the chemical signal to dissipate. But, it also doesn't allow for repair supplies to get in when the nerve is damaged. Nutrients and repair supplies must be sent all the way down the nerve from the brain. The further the damage is from the brain, the longer that takes. After several of my nerves were crushed when I broke my back, it took over a year to start regaining feeling in my leg. And I am much smaller, and thus have much shorter nerves, than a horse.

Vinny has learned that it's easier for him to canter than it is to walk or trot. So he canters whenever he needs to take more than a few steps. It looks absolutely ridiculous with his exaggerated hind leg movement, but it gets him around. He doesn't care what he looks like.

He is enjoying the extra attention he's getting. By the time he gets better, he'll be quite thoroughly spoiled. He gets to come out and graze for longer than the other two, partly because he needs to move around more and partly because he pretends he can't walk when we head back for the gate. I know it's an act, he can get out the gate to the grass just fine, but I indulge him. Silly old man.

More information about the effect of Australian Stringhalt on nerves:

Pathological Aspects of Australian Stringhalt

The link is just to the abstract, but the abstract has loads of good information.


  1. I am on holiday in England, so no horse related activity. The weather has been quite funny ...

    Lucky Vinny, I find that "box rest, in hand walk" stregthen the bond we have with them. They do become thoroughly spoiled :-D

  2. Don't seem to have any of those noxious flowers in my pasture. Guess I am too far north?

    Hope Vinny is on the fast side of the statistics for recovery. Lucky you found out what is was so quickly.


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