Just a quick little update from my blogging break:
I've spent the summer adjusting Cowboy's dosages for the head shaking. So far, in pasture, we've been able to completely end it--sunshine and all--and if I give it to him two hours before a ride (10 x 200 mg carbamezepine) no head shaking during riding. I tried a lower dosage for a while (8 pills) and it didn't do the trick.
However, when I knew I'd taken care of the head shaking, I was left with some other problems that were residual from the head shaking last year. One, was when he acted like he couldn't see me coming--like something was wrong with his eye--he'd pull back hard when tied. Knowing this might happen again from a learned-behavioral perspective, I switched to a Blocker Tie, and oh my goodness, did that come in handy! First day--pulled back--blocker tie gave--he stopped (I LOVE Blocker ties). Also, last year under saddle he developed a weird fear of being fly sprayed before rides, but I couldn't work him through it due to the head shaking problem. This year we spent a lot of time spraying and running in circles until he stopped and relaxed. He'd really developed a phobia. Odd, especially since I can approach him in the turnout (untied) and spray him all over. It's only under saddle that he would be so fearful. (Habits: easy to make, difficult to break!)
My other equine issue was Cia and her cinch sores. They took a long time to fully heal, and at first she wouldn't let me anywhere near them with salve or brushes. But after a while, I discovered they were itchy, and she absolutely loved for me to just stand there and itch on them. She'd get that face like they get when you're scratching their withers and find their sweet spot. I did it every day hoping to turn bad memories to good.
When I went to saddle her I treated it as if it was the first time ever, introducing the blanket first, then the saddle, off and on, and much later actually cinching it up. No problem. So, I figured I might as well bridle and get on, which I did. She was great. She was actually much better in every area, probably because of the two weeks of training she did get.
It's hot here--about 100--so not much else going on. We're all trying to survive the heat. Cowgirl has a mysterious lameness--it has been on and off all summer. Today we're going to go out and try a few things to pinpoint where it's coming from.
Happy Summer Trails!