Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cal and Rascal

I finally rode the infamous Cal today. I guess it had to happen eventually. He was a rather large chestnut gelding with amazingly soft fur. He was a bit of a pain in the stall, but he wasn't terrible. I knew that everyone dislikes Cal, but I didn't know why (or at least all of the why) and decided to pop a painkiller.
I have to say that Cal was excellent for mounting. I'm generally firm about never throwing my leg over a moving horse, even if they're only walking. Therefore, I'm often caught awkwardly leaning onto the school horses as they mosey off, completely ignoring my request for them to stop and my tugs at the reins. Cal, however, stood perfectly as I mounted up. Of course, I got on him with the knowledge that he broke a friend's back at the beginning of the semester, but... Cowards never live at all, right? :P
He wasn't very willing to work off my leg, and he definitely didn't want to go into the corners. When we started trotting, he was slow. Also, I've never in my life felt the need to move my hands along with a horse's trot until Cal. Seriously. He was bobbing his head up and down like he was lame, but he wasn't. It was just...ack! He almost fell flat on his face one time, so I got Mac on the brain. I can't help it. Every time a horse even stumbles with me, I think of the day Mac fell, our last ride. It doesn't scare me, it just makes me think of what happened. Teresa made us drop one stirrup, and I've also never in my life felt like I was going to fall off because I only had one stirrup. It was pathetic.
CAL'S CANTER WAS ATROCIOUS. AND I MEAN ATROCIOUS. His canter ranks up there as one of the worst canters I've ever had the displeasure of sitting. He cantered slowly and I always felt like I was in complete control, but he felt like he was cross-cantering or something. He also had a very poor canter, which added to the discomfort. It wasn't fun.
Do I even have to say that I was glad to change horses? I don't dislike Cal the horse, I just dislike riding Cal. I was really, really happy to get Rascal. Today I learned that he's a Quarter Horse, which I suspected. Rascal and I had a wonderful ride together. We went around happily, and my riding improved so much just by switching horses and saddles. Rascal has the nice dressage saddle, after all :) We even had an amazing time cantering. I kept a rather short rein, but I followed his mouth closely and he worked very well with a little extra contact. He cantered beautifully for me. I thought to myself that Rascal is one of the school horses that I wouldn't mind owning. With a little training, he'd be absolutely amazing. Then I thought to myself that I already have the love of my life and don't need anyone else.
I get to see Stella this weekend. Ah, the love of my life.


1861 Cavalry S1 said...

Might you be able to provide some details about the accident involving Cal earlier in the spring(?) semester of 2009? I am rather interested as Cal is now in my keeping. I don't need to know anything about the victim, though I hope for her(?) recovery; rather, I am interested in the event and the circumstances surrounding it. Cal's work now is as a Civil War reenactment cavalry mount. He has withstood artillery fire and musket volleys tolerably well but has a tendency to rear a little while under fire. I acknowledge that he is a more difficult ride than the QH mare that circumstances dictated that he replace, but I am becoming increasingly accustomed to it and expect to complete training him to gunfire and sabre charges. It would be a great convenience to me if you could provide any insights into the conditions that might turn what I consider a quiet horse into a heap of dynamite. I have provided contact info in the event that you might prefer to respond off-line.

Kind Regards,


Mike Kamei said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Kamei said...

Since Cal, a/k/a Ares, has touched your life and you have touched his, I would like to share with you that he has had a very good life in the last four years as a stall-kept horse lovingly attended by both daughters, my wife, myself, but especially by my eldest daughter.
As aforementioned, Ares (Cal) has been with us since May of 2009. At the time we adopted him, he was recovering from an abscess in one of his hooves, I don't recall which now. I should have vetted him, but I was taken in by his personality and he had a kind eye. I also figured that the abscess reflected the fact that he was excess to his erstwhile owner's needs, was being cared for accordingly, and that we could nurse him back to health - which we did. In fact, he was a king among horses, as we came to find. I would drive up to the barn and find him holding court with his back to a corner and his pasture-mates arrayed in a quarter circle, at a seemingly respectful distance, and facing inward. In November of 2009, he was diagnosed with Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM). In the intervening time, I - as the primary rider at the time - noticed all of the things that you did. His upward and downward transitions were ugly, too. He even went down in front on me at a canter, which was a little unnerving, but we got through that. In January 2010, we moved him to a different barn. He was losing weight and we thought that the care he was receiving at his former barn was further compromising an already constitutionally weak horse. In the process of moving him, we discovered a raging case of rain rot under his blanket. It covered his entire back from wither to croup and down to about stirrup level. Combined with his weight loss and underlying EPM, we thought he wouldn't make it. While recovering from the rain rot, he developed an abscess in a rear hoof, I think on-side. Nevertheless, he soldiered back and by July was well enough to travel and do light work. By September, he was more or less on the top of the world and he got work in earnest. In April of 2011, he developed a double abscess at the Battle of Waynesboro. This was a major set-back, since the priority shifted back to his recovery and once again he was doing no work. He was also clearly in great pain and we considered putting him down for his own sake. His recovery was touch-and-go, but we finally got there. In the July or August timeframe, he was fit again. Over the spring and summer of 2011, he also started receiving treatment for his EPM and was responding well. The uncoordinated trotting and cantering that you noted improved significantly; he was a different horse. The winter of 2012 passed uneventfully, owing most likely to the recency of his EPM treatment and a climatologically peculiar (warm) winter. 2012 was a very good year for him. Late in January or early in February of this year, he developed another abscess, again on-side rear. Having seen this before, we launched the usual regimen. It seemed successful, to the extent that he pushed down the rails of the round pen and went on an excursion one day approaching mid-month.
Around the President's Day weekend, he pushed down the fence in his paddock and was seen galloping with the mares in the adjoining paddock. After that, however, the situation deteriorated to the extent that we called the vet on 28 February and had begun mentally preparing ourselves for an ordeal. He also presented a sudden onset of muscular wasting on his hindquarters. The vet suggesting drawing a blood sample and continuing to work towards his recovery. 01 and 02 March were tough. The evening of 03 March, however, it looked as if he was on the mend. He could even stand flat on the hoof after his Epsom salt soak (rather than toe-down). Monday was a hard day and Tuesday morning we knew what must be done. The muscular wasting had also intensified. We performed a friend's last duty for him at about 1430 on 05
March. Yesterday, the test results came in. The EPM was once again active.

Mike Kamei said...

Why tell you all this? We find that our association with horses is a learning process. The fact that you have kept this blog suggests that you might see things the same way. The EPM was the most likely cause for the ride that you experienced. Based on my time with him, I have come to understand that he always have the best he could given the hand that God had dealt him. He always tried. I should have had him vetted before taking him home. But I didn't. And I am glad I didn't, because you and I know what the vet would have said. And if that had happened, I would never have known this king among horses. In his health, he was magnificent. As you can imagine, upon his arrival at our new barn in 2010, he was low man on the totem pole amongst the geldings. Within two years, several bite scars and kick-marks later, he was a close second, if not the co-alpha amongst the geldings. As I said, in his health he was magnificent. He suveyed the world with a benevolent eye and his coat shone a coppery-gold in the sunshine. At Civil War re-enactments, while tied up on the picquet line, visitors would frequently comment on how imposing he was, either not knowing or keeping diplomatically silent, about his poor conformation. Regardless, he was a fine companion, a patient trainer for my daughter of 12 to 15 years of age (depending on the year), and an all-around good boy. We miss him.
Shortly after his passing, after we had confirmed what needed confirming and after the initial converations after this act had started and finished, it seems that his risen form galloped from north to south along the fence separating the mares from the geldings. The herd followed at a gallop, all
of them, galloping on the same line of march and halting only at the limits of the fence. Magnifence, even in the hereafter. A king amonsgt horses.