Alf and I are trying to adjust to his declining mobility. He seems to be doing better than I am. Yes, he has bad days when he tries to get his back legs to move on command and they don’t. Those days break my heart. But he perseveres without complaint, and he also has better days when everything looks quite normal to the untrained eye.
For the past week, I have been turning him out in the roundpen. He was having some issues with his sovereignty among the other horses, but only in his own mind — you see, in order to keep his kingship safe from all would-be usurpers, he felt he had to chase everyone, without fail, away from the gate when it came time for everyone to come inside for supper. Never mind that he didn’t really have to do that, that his prowess is legendary and no one would yet dare try to take his throne. He believed he had to do it, and that’s all that mattered. Unfortunately, we ended up having a hard time getting anyone to come inside at night. Alf spent all his time chasing, and everyone else was afraid to try to come to me before he did, lest they incur his wrath.
He’s happy in the round pen. He has his hay, and he has his water bucket tied to the rail, and he doesn’t feel the need to defend his position in the herd. Being set apart, rather than making him nervous, seems to confirm his belief that he is special, and, yes, the Most Important One still. Now I simply go get Alf from the round pen first, and all is well in our world again.
It should be interesting, however, to see what happens when it’s time for pasture turnout.
You have to stay flexible when you have a DSLD horse, because sometimes you just have to make adjustments that don’t fit into your original plan. For instance, I am also planning to let him have one whole end of the barn this winter so he can go in and out at his leisure (he needs to be as unconfined as possible so he can move around and stretch as needed). Now, my barn was not designed for this, but we’ll figure something out that’s safe and workable before snow flies again. That is, if we haven’t made our move to a warmer climate by then!
But the point of all this was to tell you that, as I am training for a (walking) 5K, I am also taking Alf along with me. He gets some exercise that isn’t too taxing for him, and we get to spend quality time together that is almost like riding, even though it’s not. We are both enjoying it tremendously.