For weeks, even months, now, I’ve been thinking I should resume the blog and chronicle this OTTB retraining journey. But, this morning, I truly felt compelled to share.
Meet Chip: Full Gallop Farm’s Swing Fa the Stars (2010 Gelding, Grand Slam x Forrest Lullaby)
Back in June, I partnered with Lara Anderson of Full Gallop Farms to take on Chip as a retraining project. When I got Chip, he’d already had some post-track training, but he was missing a lot of basics.
Unfortunately, he’s “not that great a mover,” and he thinks bending is a form of torture. Our dressage scores hover in the mid to upper 30s. What he lacks in flourish, though, he makes up for with try.
My first thought was abscess, but he’d shown no indication of lameness except being a bit sluggish. We finally decided it was a laceration, so I medicated it and wrapped it. Saturday morning, we rode a dressage test in preparation for the 1 day trial. We actually shaved a couple points off our previous score, so I was fairly happy. Pony was nicely relaxed. But, he just wasn’t himself. Sunday morning, we had a horrible dressage test with a score of 40. He was counterbent on the left lead–looking back, that was a pretty good clue. I toyed with the idea of scratching him. I probably told everyone I saw that I was contemplating scratching him. He wasn’t lame, but he just wasn’t himself. I finally decided that we’d head to stadium warm up, and if he was even slightly hesitant about jumping, I’d scratch.
Not only was he bold in warmup, he probably gave me one of my most flawless trips around a stadium course ever. And, 10 minutes later, he flew around cross-country like a seasoned veteran.
The next day, since the vet was going to be out anyway, I had him examine Chip’s ‘laceration.’ It didn’t take long for the vet to decide it warranted a closer look before we made a diagnosis. Radiographs revealed a tract from sole all the way up to the coronary band, so Dr. Myran pulled his shoe and cut away enough sole to offer a way out for the infection. A prescription for soaking, poulticing, and antibiotics, and that was that. An abscess. Not only an abscess, but a mother of an abscess. Big and bad enough that it blew out the bottom overnight.
They say geldings don’t have heart. They say only mares and stallions will give you their all. But Chip says they’re wrong. This horse is worth his weight in gold. Stay tuned for more on Chip’s journey…