Because I am actually starting to feel positive about riding Echo again (and thanks to all of you who listened to me whine and mope about HS essentially being a death sentence), I went and looked at some videos of our last jumping and dressage lessons. I’d never gotten around to posting them before, because shortly after the lessons, things went downhill dramatically and I stopped riding. Plus, it’s hard to look at videos when you think you’re never going to get to ride your very lovely horse ever again.
As I watched, I noticed that was had some really nice moments. And then I saw the really, really bad moments. Moments where he flipped his head. Moments where he bucked and bolted. Moments that I now know were his reaction to the pain he experiences from headshaking syndrome. Hindsight is, as then say, 20/20.
I don’t actually remember the head flipping much, but I do remember the buck-and-bolt thing getting worse and worse. At the dressage show, he “spooked” at a horse doing tempis, at another horse in the mirror, and a few other random things. But Echo’s not a spooky horse, so why would he suddenly have such a dramatic reaction? When we went XC schooling, he did it several times, and I thought it was in response to another horse coming at him – except that in the worst instance, the horse was 50+ yards away, so it didn’t make sense. Now, I don’t think he was spooking at anything other than the pain in his face.
So here are the videos. First up, jumping. Please ignore my form and look at my lovely gonna-be-an-eventer-not-a-hunter pony. And look for the head flip at 7 seconds in.
Second, our dressage lesson, in which we have the best canter transition EVER at 3 seconds. Didn’t see that one coming, did you? But lest you get too excited, watch him start to suck back as we come around the circle, tuck his head to his chest at 12 seconds, then buck and bolt at 14 seconds. I yelled at him and he came back to me, but still, it’s not the kind of behavior you want under saddle. Plus, how can you reprimand a horse for a response to pain that he cannot control?
My hope is that with the Mg he's now on, and with a second round of Dex Pulse Therapy (we started today, per my vet), that his symptoms will be much better under saddle. In fact, I have a lesson scheduled with a new eventing trainer on Sunday! My plan is to ride Red (YAY FEERLESS WAR PONY!!!), but bring Echo and longe him and ride him lightly in the (relative) safety of an arena. Hubby is traveling again, and so are all my regular riding buddies, and I don't want to get on Echo unless there's someone there to dial 911. Just in case, lol! We'll see how the HS symptoms are then... it will be the first real test.