Grace: December Milestones

December 4, 2018

Updates with Grace

First day lunging with a bridle on! She has obviously had one on before but also obvious that it was connected with some stressful type of situation. I used my favorite “go to” bit, a double jointed eggbutt snaffle with a dog bone center. Grace allowed me to put it in her lips, against her teeth on the first try. She stood very still but the “paint eyes” came out. For those of you who have not had the joy of being around paints, this means the whites of her eyes were showing, and she was suddenly as tall and high headed as a giraffe. I removed it, fudged with the length on the bridle some (due to her big head lol) and tried again, this time wiggling my finger in the side of her mouth some in hopes of getting her teeth unclenched. She didn’t approve of that much and took several “flight” steps backwards. I stroked her a few times on the neck and told her she was silly. I approached again and she stood for me, head in the clouds (good thing I’m a tall person!) got the bit in her lips, wiggled her jaw unclenched, and managed to put the bit in the proper location and get it over her ears with little issue. As I had oversized the bridle so there would be less chance of another flight backwards, the bit hang too low…which led to trying to spit it out. I shortened the bridle up to a comfortable spot and she settled it in her mouth with a sigh. We then did about ten minutes of lunging (no attachment to the bridle for this first time) and our goal is to eventually long line and then drive line, but she still is too protective of her back end to even clean feet, let alone have her rump touched by a rope of any kind. Baby steps.

Grace firtst time in surcingle How disgusted does she look? lol

Also “firsts” for this night, bowing. I do a lot of carrot stretches with my horses, some massage, regular body work by body work professionals, some “horse yoga”, Masterson Method stretching, and exercises to build up the whole muscle structure…which means a lot of varied workouts! Grace is learning slow controlled side passing, fore and hind turns to stretch very unused muscles, tendons and ligaments, and this includes learning to “bow”. For Grace, who spent more than a year pretty much “stall bound”, this has been a long process. Carrot stretches have been taken in baby steps to get to the point where she was willing to move stiff and atrophied parts of her body. She looked like she was closer to 30 in age, rather than the young teen she is. Her lower lumbar (the area of the back just in front of the hips) was stiff and unmoving when she first arrived. It has been the hardest part to rehabilitate next to her overly tight leg tendons. When starting on carrot stretches, she would pretty much only move her neck, and it still pops and cracks from stiff muscles pulling it out of alignment. Grace finally progressed to flexing a bit in her hips, one side at a time, and then last night she finally fully bowed! This is a huge step as it involves the entire body, not only in flexion, but in balance…and in trust. Also managed to brush out her tail some! The mistrust she has of people being near her back end makes this a bigger deal than you may realize…I was really happy to be able to get some knots out!

Grace has overcome so many things since April 30th. Yeah I know, its not the crazy speed that is in a mustang “makeover” but its not just about getting a saddle on a horse. Its about rebuilding the body, inside and out, overcoming mental and emotional issues, and just relearning how to trust. She so obviously wants to love and be loved on, and that obviously come from someone loving on her in her past. But she’s also obviously had some abuse in her history, and that is a big thing to overcome in the “fight or flight” world. I can teach her nifty tricks (like bowing) but all the training does no good, or even all the overcoming health issues, if I haven’t reached and healed her heart.

People regularly ask me what I am going to do with Grace, and I can’t really answer them. I don’t care if I ever ride her, or train her into anything specific because the goal for this horse is to just heal her heart. Healing the body is just a bonus…and a lot of fun to boot! Some of you, who have followed her story, remember that two vets told the guy I got her from to put her down…that the sarcoids couldn’t be cured and she wasn’t worth saving. She is already worth everything I have done for her. After losing two horses to EPSM, and two horses to old age, this sweetheart of a horse has healed my heart just as much as I have healed hers. There was always a chance that with the sarcoids, she had systemic cancer and I could lose her at any moment but all that does is make you appreciate every day you have together. But that is how life should be, shouldn’t it? Appreciating every day because there may not be a tomorrow? I get too busy sometimes and forget that, and this horse helps me remember that that is how I should live life…appreciating every day.


Grace day one day 30 and 7 months

Progress from Day 1 to seven  months. Still working on that topline, atrophied muscles, and keeping on weight in the cold. She is now enjoying her nice toasty warm blankets (still, feel free to grow some hair, Grace!) working on building up some real muscles, straightening out her feet, and just general health and wellness. She is really good at the "I'm disgusted with this" face and the "this is too much!" mare face, but she has a really good heart and is very forgiving. She is also very good at getting in my face when I bring out the camera. "Is it time for my closeup Mr Deville?" (Hah I just aged myself right there!)


Grace's story starts HERE

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