Taking the time it takes


Dix, Lauren’s 13 year old Lippizan, is on the “20 year plan”. It has taken some years, and a lot of changes, for Dix to finally get healthy and happy. But (do we need to knock on wood?) it seems to be happening.

When I first met Dix at Lauren’s place in Florida he was one UN-happy camper. He was not well, physically, and he seemed pretty miserable as a result. Try as she might to analyze and improve every aspect of his diet, care and training things were still not right in his world. The year before they left Florida he’d stopped sweating and had to live his own air conditioned stall. Poor guy!

But the Universe has shifted on so many levels for Dix and it has been a joy to see him transform.

The first big thing was the Gruber’s move to Tennessee. Although in Florida Dix had to be isolated from other horses because he’d fight with the other horses the reality in Tennessee was there was no way to isolate him on the farm when they arrived. It was sink or swim. He swam. He was still crotchety but there was plenty of room to move so no one got hurt. Maybe his need to boss everyone around was a benefit because it sure got him moving. And we know that one of the 3 Success Factors for improving health and soundness for horses is Movement!

So things got better for Dix but more was to come. I arrived a year ago and began to work with him a little more. He was often very distracted and unable to leave his group without becoming quite upset. Sometimes, especially during spring and fall when the mares would go into heat, he’d call incessantly. Although a gelding, Dix sometimes behaved like an unruly stallion.

Meanwhile Lauren felt that there was still a physiological component. As always she continued to experiment with balancing his diet. She put him on Remission for his metabolic tendencies and Chasteberry for his out-of-control hormones. Of course he gets Equipride like the rest of the crew as well.

When a couple of new horses joined his group several months ago he was merciless, particularly against the gelding. Fortunately the aforementioned gelding figured out how to stay out of Dix’s way and a truce was called. But then things started to change in the last couple of months. Whereas Dix used to insist on taking the top dog position he has begun to just let it go. Now sometimes he is on the receiving end of horsey rebukes. And it doesn’t seem to bother him! Wow. Is he turning into Just a Regular Horse? Is he feeling good so he doesn’t need to be cranky? We sure hope so.

Today I decided to work Princess, a 5 year old Belgian cross who is just getting started under saddle, in the round pen from horseback. Who did I ride? Why DIX of course. It was a great exercise for him and he did splendidly. He’s sure enough built for the job. So perhaps by the time he’s 20 he might finally be the Dressage horse Lauren originally bought him as.