...but you can't make him get in!
At least that was the case with Okidokie this morning. We took Oki to the harness track to use their therapeutic swimming pool. Swimming would be excellent for his recovery since he can't put undo stress on the shoulder for 6 months. We have no doubts that he'd swim, if we could get him in. A very nice woman who swam her horse showed us "the ropes" and came with to help us get in Oki the first time. She had a miraculous experience with her horse who had his pelvis broken in 3 places. The vets told her to put her horse down, she refused and so the vets advised stall rest for 6 months. She decided to swim her horse after 2 months figuring it couldn't hurt him. Her horse just won a barrel racing competition and is doing great. All because she refused to give up on her beloved horse and decided to swim him. What a lovely ending to a tragic story!
Oki just didn't want to go it. If any of our other horses refused to go in, we'd merely whack them on their bum with a pony-go-stick (the PC term for whip) and they would go in after a bit of grumbling "well now, if you insist..." Oki is a Warmblood, often called Dumbbloods, because they have "problems" with the more practical things that other horses do effortlessly. The problem with using "tough love" and beating Oki into the water could result in him falling down and causing a new injury. Mac and Anni have a strong desire NOT to hurt themselves, Oki only knows he doesn't want to do it and would hurt himself trying to get out of the situation. It would be different if we had him as a youngster and would have taught him about water much earlier on. Leanne probably could have gotten him in if she could ride him in, but the situation did not allow that. As you can see from the photos, the ramp down is narrow and the roof in low. What you can't see is that it is very steep at the beginning.
If was a very interesting experience watching all the Standard-breds just calmly walking into the pool, go for a couple laps, and then coming out. Some have inner tubes around their heads to help them float, others didn't. We tried to "shame" Oki into going in by telling him: "look at that 4-year-old, he's smarter than you." I'm certain Oki thought in his head: "oh no he's not - I'm not the one whose all wet!" Blind folding didn't work, backing him in didn't work, have him follow another horse didn't work, and carrots didn't work. The track personnel told our vet it was a bad idea to administer any drugs. We're going to try again even though they told us that if they don't go in the first time, you won't get them in. We need to regroup and plan an alternate strategy! He doesn't have to swim to recover - it will just help him recover faster and give him a "job" so he doesn't go crazy. Wish us luck!