Woes of Johnny Joe

Larry putting up with Johnny’s antics.

Did you know that the number one killer of the competitive careers of highly qualified riders is the lame horse? And that 60% of all horse conversations make reference to lameness. According to statistics, it was highly likely that I would start one of my blogs in this way. It appears that Johnny Joe has been kicked, popped a splint, torn a ligament, or wrapped himself around something at considerable speed. Who knows what actually happened? People always think it will help if they only knew the exact circumstances—I don’t care to know, it just stinks.

Johnny was coming along well (before he lost a leg on me!). The muscles are building, the coat is shining, and his overall appearance looks good. His fitness level has increased, his attitude and outlook upon life is changing, and the under saddle training was coming along well at home. 

“At home” are the key words here. Once Johnny leaves the confines of Lucky Horse Farm who knows what will happen. I suspect that he will show signs of emotional trauma or anxiety, as race horses can, so I plan to put another horse on the trailer who can show him how it is done (remember good ol’ Call Me Larry?). Larry is my personal assistant in the department of newbies—a first class pacifist with a big calming presence. Plus he is largely motivated by food and can be bribed into various babysitting adventures with relative ease, so Johnny will be hitting the road soon. Probably just to hack around the show or go to an off-farm facility (which is cheaper than paying entry fees).

While I planned to start to show him in the low hunter division, as he has done his share of cross rails at home, Johnny’s lameness threw us off. Since we are temporarily laid up, I took Johnny Joe to show in-hand. He was a bit nervous about the whole thing and normally I would put a nervous horse to work right away, but because Johnny Joe is lame, lunging was out. I was only showing him in-hand, so I thought, “how much work do they really need?”  It turns out more than I was able to give him.

I couldn’t take the nervous circling, around me, around me, and around me some more. When he finally stood still, it was only long enough for me to get three inches from his muzzle before he let loose the body-convulsing whinny of a weanling. (Next time I go to a horse show with Johnny Joe I am taking my earplugs.) Do you know how many decibels of sound a horse can produce when it is three inches from your ear? A lot. I have forgotten the patience and energy it takes to do this. I need to find more shows to take him to—and my earplugs. I definitely need my earplugs.

Until then, I will pick up the broken pieces that are Johnny Joe and go on from there.  Is it a splint, a tendon, a ligament, a bruise, or a chip?  One by one I will find all the clues and solve the messy puzzle. He may not be able to tell me what happened, but I can treat what is—and I will make him sound again. Because that is the role of the highly qualified rider.

Categories: Changing Track