Snoopy has written in his diary today about how he got a stomach ache yesterday and just had to lay down. (See "Tummy trouble") What he glossed over was the fact that I was on him, in the saddle, when he decided to do this.
I've seen horses go down with other riders. As a matter of fact, I was riding Copper, my trainer's old show horse, when I watched my friend Christine get her leg caught under her horse Murphy when he decided he wanted to lay down and roll. (He was a young horse.)
I had watched Niki riding Snoopy before I got on him. He seemed to be quiet and responsive to her commands. He had started the day quite perky. Ate his breakfast. Pooped a bunch of times. Poop is important with horses. It means everything is cycling correctly.
But he did a funny thing while we were adjusting the stirrups for my turn to ride: he began to paw at the ground. It's not that he never paws. It's that, given the opportunity to try to bite me or Niki, he would never spend time digging in the dirt.
Once I was on him, it felt hard to get him to walk. Nevertheless, I pushed him forward by constantly fanning my legs on his sides. Niki told me to stop every once in awhile to move him around by one leg, so I stopped, preparing to pivot his back end around. That's when I heard Niki yell.
"Kick him! Kick! Him!"
Too late. I felt his front end sink down and watched his knees hit the dirt. It was all very slo-mo. I remember thinking, which way is he going to fall? His weight went right, so I kicked my leg out of the stirrup and dove right, away from him. I probably looked awkward as hell, but I felt like a super hero escaping a trap.
Next time, I'm wearing a cape.
We walked him and watched him and walked him again and worried. There's nothing like seeing your horse down, legs tucked under his belly, head lowered and mouth pinched - I confess, I wanted to weep a little. But after the second walk, he perked up. I mean, really perked up. As in, hanging his head out the door and asking for food.
We decided not to give him more than a handful of hay. He disagreed, but what can he do? Until he can unhook his door and help himself to dinner, I still have a smidgeon of control.
Today I've heard that he is up and about, eating and pooping.
Life is good and every day is a blessing.