The journey to the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover 2020 continues! Read on for our third update from Ali Barros.
Sometimes, the Road to the Makeover Gets Bumpy
I was hoping that the saying “April showers bring May flowers” would ring true since Tennessee was beginning to reopen from the pandemic, and the weather was warming up. Unfortunately, this month Prince had some unexpected setbacks, but we forged on with hopes of making it to the Thoroughbred Makeover.
The first minor setback occurred when Prince threw a front shoe the morning after getting his feet done, in typical Prince fashion. The farrier was unable to return to the farm to put on a new shoe for five days, so Prince enjoyed a week off from training. Hopeful that we could still stay on target with his training, we got back to work as soon as the shoe was put back on.
Another setback occurred two days after Prince started back to work. I rode Prince for half an hour on Tuesday morning, May 12. I gave him a bath and turned him out in his pasture with his pasture mates. Five hours later, when I started bringing in the horses for dinner, I noticed Prince rolling in the field. I assumed he was just getting in a quick roll before feeding, so initially I wasn’t alarmed. After bringing in one of my other horses and returning to the pasture a few minutes later, I noticed that Prince was in a different part of the field rolling again. Realizing this was not a norm for Prince, I quickly got his halter and went out to retrieve him from the pasture. By the time I reached him, he had gotten up and although his demeanor seemed normal, I wasn’t convinced he was feeling himself. I brought him into his stall, closed the door, and observed him. He circled around looking as if he wanted to roll again. I grabbed his halter and reopened the stall door. He stopped and stood in a parked-out stance. I brought him out of the stall and started hand walking him. I called the vet and decided to have the vet come to the farm as an emergency call, since Prince was exhibiting signs of colic. Under vet advisement, I administered Ulcer Guard and Banamine, then continued hand walking Prince after taking his vital signs until the vet arrived.
Colic is one of the scariest words in a horse owner’s vocabulary. Having another Thoroughbred with a history of colic, I remained calm and optimistic. When the vet arrived, she felt it was likely gas colic due to the luscious springtime grass. He had an elevated heart rate, but he had no obvious distension or displacement after an abdominal palpation. The vet put in a nasogastric tube to administer electrolytes and oil. The vet was confident that Prince would be fine and gave instructions to monitor him closely for the night. Thankfully, Prince was fine overnight. He returned to his normal happy self the next morning. Following the vet’s recommendation, I gave Prince a week off from riding and reduced his pasture time to just 3-4 hours per day. He strongly objects to this since his friends get to stay out longer –- but doctor’s orders!
In the midst of writing this blog post, Prince is now two weeks post colic scare. He is back to work and having less pasture time. He has kept his shoes on, and he has not exhibited any additional colic signs. Since beginning to blog, we have improved on our walk to canter transitions, picking up the left lead correctly (almost) every time, and starting over cross rails. We even cantered our first cross rail!
Setbacks are part of a horse’s training process. In theory, timelines are a nice idea, but when you have been around horses for years, you come to the realization that you can’t put a deadline on training. I may have only to ridden Prince eleven times during the month of May, but I have a healthy horse, and that is something to cherish. All too often, colic scares have a far worse outcome. Therefore, I am thankful to have the opportunity to continue to love, care for, and train Prince Hansen. Hug your horse and appreciate every ride.
Ali Barros is a 25 year old young professional originally from Medway, Massachusetts currently residing in Nashville, Tennessee. She grew up on the New England Hunter/Jumper circuit as a working student and groom for many top trainers. In 2012, she received a NCAA D1 Equestrian scholarship to UT Martin, moving her to Tennessee. During college and graduate school she decided to event, where she competed up to training level on one of her OTTB’s “Let It Rock.” She now trains hunters, jumpers, and eventers with a focus on OTTBs and young warmbloods. She is thrilled to be participating in RRP Thoroughbred Makeover with her Second Stride adoption “Prince Hansen.”