I took Cruiser for his evening walk on Friday night. For the first time in a few weeks, we had to walk in the indoor arena. The driveway was a sheet of ice, and though I didn’t want him to be in the dusty arena, I didn’t want him on the ice, either.
Since he got his cough, I only hand walk him for a half hour. It had been a few weeks since he quit coughing during his walks, but his breathing is still labored—but gradually improving.
We were lucky to be sharing the arena with a really nice woman and her horse. Hand walking goes much faster if you have someone to talk to. It was a windy night, and the doors were pounding. It was also chilly and Cruiser had the day off the day before. The other horse was white, and Cruiser always acts goofy with white horses. I guess I am just trying to make excuses for his bad behavior. After only 5 minutes, we had our first spook. It wasn’t a little spook, but a full-blown, Cruiser-style, leap-buck-spin spook. He made the other horse spook, too. Then he spooked again. Then again and again. At that point, I quit counting.
He told me we were going to slow, and he started to gait. By now, our companion was standing in the middle of the arena—afraid to move since Cruiser kept spooking her horse. Gaiting wasn’t fast enough, so he started to trot. I figured that maybe if we trotted a little, he would settle down and stop spooking. I was worried about him coughing, though. I jogged alongside, waiting for the cough. Cruiser kept going faster and faster. He tried cantering in hand, but I drew the line with that. When he still didn’t cough, I decided to see how far we could go. After a few laps, I had to quit to catch my breath—but he didn’t want to. I rested and we trotted again until I got too tired. We did this a number of times—and he never coughed.
I was astounded. Just the week before I tried trotting him and he coughed a lot. My spirits fell as much that day as the soared this day. Maybe there is hope that I will be riding him in the spring, after all.
We did some more trotting Saturday and Sunday, and he didn’t cough a single time.