The authority for sports coverage in the Fredericksburg region.
Betsy Carter’s Horse Scene: A good ride spoiled, all for lack of some leg straps
It’s getting cold, which means the horse blankets have got to come out of storage soon. That cold morning will come when you throw your nice, clean blanket over your horse’s back only to discover that the detachable hind leg straps are missing. But you decide to turn him out in it without the straps since the wind is not blowing. The wind can pick up the billowy read end of the blanket, liftit like a sail and toss it right up over your horse’s back without the hind leg straps to hold it down. You decide to risk it.
That afternoon, you arrive at the barn after working or school all day, looking forward to a ride. However, when you walk out into the field, you find your horse quivering in fright because his blanket did, in fact, turn into a monster when the wind flipped it up and folded it over onto his shoulders.
It apparently scared him when it did this because he has obviously been running, trying to outrun the monster on his back. He probably finally settled down and accepted the rearranged blanket. But when he put his head down to return to grazing, the monster blanket slid down his neck to cover his head. He lifts his head in fright; the blanket scoots back down onto his shoulders, so he runs and tosses his head and squeals. Of course the blanket twists to the side and is now all bunched up on his shoulders and falling off to his right side. He’s frantic.
When you find him, he is standing like a statue, too frightened to move. You can hardly put your hand on his halter to attach the lead rope, but you finally calm him enough to catch him. But now you must take the blanket off of him before he will move without bolting. You slowly unbuckle the chest buckles then very carefully pull the blanket around his belly to untwist it, so you can reach the surcingle fasteners that are holding the garment strapped around his stomach. The blanket falls to the ground, and your horse skitters away.
You leave the blanket lying there as you go to catch him, knowing you cannot carry the blanket with you and lead him at he same time. You’ll come back for the blanket. You catch him again, and now he is grateful that you have rescued him. As you walk him away, you notice that he is limping. You look at his legs and see that he has blood coming from his heel, which means he overreached when galloping wildly around the field, striking his front heel with his back foot and shoe and cutting the heel. It’s not usually a serious wound but will make him lame for a few days if it isn’t bad enough to require stitches.
When you get to the barn, you wash his cut heel with Betadine, and while doing so you decide you might as well hose him down with warm water. It will wash off the sweat which takes much longer to dry than clean water anyway and the warm water will warm him, as well. After you rub him down with lots of clean towels, you cover him with an anti-sweat sheet and a wool cooler to keep him warm while he dries. Then you return your attention to the wounded heel. You mop up the blood again, put on antibacterial ointment and gauze, then wrap with rolls of vet wrap and duct tape.
While he is drying and eating dinner, you go back out to the field to retrieve his blanket. It is totally dark out now, so first you find a flashlight and a raincoat because it has started to rain. When you find the blanket, you realize the horse gods are not all against you since the inside of the blanket has not gotten wet from the rain. When you get it to the barn, you further realize the love of the horse gods because the garment has all its buckles and fasteners and there are no gaping holes.
Through Oct. 14: Va. Regional Pony Club USPC National Test
Oct. 13: Silver Star; Bellemount; Fox Chase; Four Oaks; Shen-VADA Dressage; Sandstone; MP at Deep Run.
Oct. 13–14: House Mountain
Oct. 14: Lake of the Woods; EKG; Moriah; Fox Chase; Rivanna.
Oct. 20: BBHSA; Lake of the Woods; Silver Lining; Sunrise HT, CT, Dressage.
Oct. 21: Hazelwild; Moriah; Speakeasy; GRHSA; Silver Lining.
Oct. 23–28: Washington International Horse Show
Oct. 27: Whitestone; Coventry; Evergreen Dressage; Willow Way Dressage.
Oct. 28: BHSA Hunter Classic.
Betsy Carter can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia St., Fredericksburg, Va. 22401; or by fax at 540/373-8455.