Nicely Played, Francis.

Those of you that connect with me on IG/FB already know, but Francis has actually been taking a little vacation.

He came in last week with a missing shoe (no big deal), but as I took a closer look and he got progressively more upset about me taking a closer look, it was clear that there was a solid heel grab in play there.

Of course being my usual dramatic self, I immediately made plans for Frankie’s retirement. In my defense, he was acting like that leg had been chopped off and his expression of long-suffering patience had a very studied air. Luckily my trainer took a look, smacked Frankie for being rude, and pronounced it essentially a really bad hangnail.

Not so dramatic after all.

But while it’s not that dramatic, Homeboy was still off for a little over a week as he healed. It’s been a lot of hand walking to keep him moving, plenty of epsom salt soaks to keep it clean, and lots of vetwrap and poultice pads to make sure no grit or germs get in there. He’s totally sound to tack walk and was at about 95% to flat around last night. Nothing visible but he felt just baaaarely NQR to me – could be the heel grab, could be stiffness from being stuck inside for a week in the cold. Either way he desperately needed some movement and the flatting helped his mood immensely. I’m not worried, we’re in no rush to get back to 100% and the wound itself is healing up just fine.

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He’s been standing like an angel for his warm soaks, as long as I let him lick my hand for the full 15-20 minutes. A small price to pay to keep him happy.

This is actually a huge novelty, since this was the first time he’s needed more than 12 hours off to heal from anything. For a horse, he’s generally pretty sturdy.

Now that he’s not nearly as ouchie on it and I can stop pitying him, I’ve actually enjoyed this time to play together and relax! I caught some lessons on the school horses so I still got a workout in, and we did nice long 30-40 minute hand walks together. It’s also been a great chance for me to practice some basic first aid skills (like, extremely basic). His auntie even brought him a stall toy to keep him entertained in his confinement (the combination of awful mud and the  placement of the cut makes turnout unfortunately no good for now) and while we all find the banging noises annoying, he seems to really like his giant plastic apple.

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He’s been making plenty of sand angels on our walks to make sure he gets to stretch and address the itchies. Literally as soon as we walk in the ring, down he goes.

He’ll get to stay in light work while I’m in Ohio next week (I swear his timing is uncanny, how do horses always know?!), but fingers crossed he’ll be healed up and ready to get back to full work when I return!

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And after every sand angel, he stays laying down for a little bit surveying the ring. Apparently he doesn’t like to be rushed.
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Stoicism, Thy Name is Francis

Emma was talking about how Princess Charlie likes to scare his mom, and it got me thinking about Frankie and how he handles the ouchies.

Because despite both being cute bay geldings, Frankie could not be further on the other end of the spectrum here: Frankie don’t give a shit. (Dad if you’re reading this I know you don’t like it when I swear but I will make it up to you somehow, probably with gratuitous flattery, you handsome talented smartest best dad in the world)

But seriously. Francis is one stoic dude. Sprung shoe? Not noticeable under saddle. Lost shoe? We kept it light, but still not noticeable under saddle. Scrapes up and down his leg from playing too hard? Threw some ointment on it and he was perfectly sound with no heat. Chomping bite mark-shaped lump on his neck? Yep, he’s fine. Weather changes and location changes and stressful situations? He seeks out the water bucket and chills. In the almost year that I’ve had him(!!!!) he hasn’t taken a single ouchie step or had a minute where he felt anything less than healthy (omg please don’t jinx this I’m knocking on every wood surface within reach).

This works out really well, because homeboy LOVES to play with his buddies outside. His favorite game in the world is Wild Island Stallion. To the point where we bought him a muzzle because STOP DESTROYING EVERYONE’S BLANKETS YA DINGUS. But all that playtime means he comes in with a new bump or scrape pretty much every day.

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A split second before squealies and bities

If these bumps and scrapes seemed to bother Frankie at all, I would probably look into  changing his turnout situation. But Francis is SO happy to be outside with his buddies and clearly doesn’t much care about his battle wounds. He does fine when the weather forces him to be stuck in his stall, but he’s noticeably happier when he’s had his romping time outside.

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68F in February means bath time for the Big Man

In my mind, Frankie is like an overgrown 5 year old boy. Super friendly and wants to play with the kids at recess, but doesn’t realize that he’s so big and is playing too rough. But like he’s a happy kid so when he scrapes his knee he just gets back up and says IT’S ALL OK EVERYTHING IS FINE and keeps playing. And wants to get into everything. And puts everything in his mouth. And isn’t very smart. But listens to the teacher really well. And he def won’t get into an Ivy League college but he’ll probs get recruited to play football at a good school so that’s ok. I have a whole persona for him in my head, it’s a fun one.

So maybe it’s not that Frankie is that stoic, he’s just not smart enough to realize that things hurt. It’s one of the reasons that my trainer and I discuss preventative maintenance fairly regularly to keep an eye on things: by the time Frankie actually shows us he’s hurting, he’ll likely already be in a decent amount of discomfort. So we want to really stay on top of things BEFORE he displays any ouchie behavior.

Is your horse more of an ouch-mom-this-hurts-cannot-horse-today type, or more of a rub-some-dirt-in-it-let’s-go type?

EDIT: Between writing this post and actually posting it, Frankie’s leg has gotten fat from a scrape he got while playing outside. He’s totally sound and we’re treating aggressively so it doesn’t get worse, but seriously this is what I get for talking about how sturdy my horse is. Horses, man. They’ll humble you real quick.