Cameo is coming along really well in her rehab work and she is now ready for the weight of a rider. Volunteer rider Lindsay was excited to help Cameo take this next step and helped her have a happy and easy ride. Here is a video of her first ride back:
Cameo was a doll at the last open house, making new friends with everyone who stopped in to see her. She loves her outside stall where she can see all that is going on at the farm and has her buddy Stella always within sight. The volunteer riders have been working steadily to get her strong and ready to ride. She has been working on trot poles and is up to 20 mins of trot work with saddling. She has been quiet and has a great work expression. We will be looking to saddling her and adding rider weight and increasing the trot under saddle over the next month. Here is a little bit from her training workout on Monday with volunteer rider Erika:
“Cam looked so great today! We did our walking and trotting with the K&S on…We went back over to the mounting block and practiced having weight over the back, having the saddle jiggle, and having the stirrups moving around at her sides. She did GREAT!!!!”
Cameo is getting back to work and doing very well. We are keeping things easy to start with, working on groundwork, saddling, and hooking up with her handlers. Already we are seeing good changes! Here is an update from her volunteer rider Claire:
“Cameo has come a long way in just a few sessions I’ve been able to work with her. Since she was stuck in a stall for so long recovering from her injury, she had a lot of excess energy to burn off, which was very apparent when I worked with her. A few weeks ago, I would saddle her (which she was initially troubled about), then turn her loose in the round pen. She would gallop around, unbalanced, and refuse to look at me. She also spooked consistently at one end of the round pen and wouldn’t go near it. Eventually, I was able to get her to calm down and we ended on a good note (even if she was super sweaty since she is so out of shape!). But the last time I worked with her, it was night and day. She was totally comfortable being saddled, moved out really nicely and calmly in the round pen, and even went to the side of the round pen that she was afraid of. She was listening to me the whole time, and she walked and trotted with me without a halter on. She is incredibly smart and it is a pleasure to work with her!”
Here are some lovely photos that Jessica Farren took of Claire and Cameo working in the round pen this week. What a BEAUTIFUL mare Cameo has become!
Cameo continues to make good progress in her rehab from last July’s injury. Volunteers have been walking and trotting her in hand for the past several months. Cameo is a pretty good girl for her exercise sessions but she is easily spooked if there is too much noise or commotion near the arena, so her handlers have to stay on their toes.
We are now able to saddle her up for short walks with a rider on board. She will occasionally show some stiffness afterwards, but overall her progression has been uneventful and steady. Her walks under saddle are progressively getting longer and very soon, we’ll start trotting her.
In order to keep her quiet, we have not been turning Cameo out. Winter turnout at Safe Harbor takes place mostly in the covered arena. Once we get the all clear from Dr. Fleck, she’ll have the opportunity to spend time out in the arena with a calm horse as a buddy.
Cameo is a very smart girl and she knows her people. If you are new to her, or if you are a little bit timid in her presence, she will definitely take note of it! She takes direction well but you must be aware of her and establish a kind leadership with her from the beginning.
We have a volunteer horse masseuse, Lori M, visiting Safe Harbor once a week and Cameo is enjoying her gentle massage work.Cameo loves attention. Her favorite thing? Getting her forehead rubbed. Which is, of course, the best angle from which to appreciate her beauty!
Volunteer trainer Laura McCorkle has been working with Cameo for a long time now, and has really gotten the chance to get to know this mare on a whole new level. She provided this update about her work with Cameo:
Poor Cameo – she’s the Queen of Walking Big Ovals! This beautiful girl has been in rehab for a very long time, trying to get her hamstring back in shape for riding. Half an hour of hand-walking/trotting day after day, week after week, month after month can get B-O-R-I-N-G!
Cameo being Cameo, she looks for drama around every corner (and frankly, who can blame her?). A falling leaf – a passing breeze – a raindrop – all these and more can be used as fuel for a classic Arab buck and snort, but a quick sarcastic raised eyebrow and a “rEEEEally?!” from her handler is all it takes, and she drops the drama. She really is a brave, sensible, spirited little beast…she just needs reminding every now and then.
Since the routine is so boring, we’ve been working on getting ready for being ridden again, hopefully soon. Cameo’s favorite cheat is leaning on you with her inside shoulder and looking to the outside, so we’ve been doing some groundwork as we walk – getting her to maintain the correct bend, and asking her to move off inside “leg” (pressure directed at her side with the tail end of the rope, a hand, or an arm draped over her). We’ve also worked on calm, light transitions between stop, walk, fast walk, jog, and trot – mixing it up a bit as we walk around. And around. AND AROUND….
She seems to appreciate the “games” we play and likes to have some mental work along with the physical. Cameo is a horse who is THIRSTY for tasks to focus on – this horse wants a JOB. We’re doing our best to keep her happy, even though she’s not ready for too much yet.
It has been 3 months since Cameo’s torn hamstring injury. She has been doing well for her rehab and time off. She was allowed out of her stall rest and put into a stall with a run. We have steadily increased her hand walks to 30 minutes. She also has been quiet enough to take some walks out to the grass and enjoy some time outside. As long as she doesn’t get walked too far away from the other horses, she has remained relaxed and content.
We did have to break down and give her a bath! She has been loosing her summer coat and fluffing up for winter already. She was pretty good about it but really doesn’t like the drips on her hind legs. She managed through it and all survived! Also for the time being we took off her front shoes. We will be working with our farrier to see if she suggests putting them back on or trying her barefoot for the winter.
She is steadily recovering and has shown no signs of lameness on that hind leg. With good healing in place we will be talking to Dr. Fleck soon about getting her back under saddle and into the trot. We want to take it easy and make sure she is ready for that next step.
We are increasing Cameo’s hand walking to 15 minutes 2 times a day this week and so far so good. She is off all medication and is stable. She remains in good spirits and is relaxed for her hand walks and light massages. She loves her fan we set up outside her stall and she spends time with her mane flowing in the wind which is very cute to watch. It is truly amazing that this mare who had little to no trust of humans when she arrived at SAFE is now so trusting. Yesterday after her walk, I cleaned her stall and added some new shavings. While I was finishing she laid down on the fresh bed and let me sit beside her and pet her forehead. I would never believe this was the same mare who was so afraid of everything and everyone around her. What an amazing transformation and wonderful mare!
Last week we had Dr Finn come to work with Cameo. She brought her thermal image camera to help find the area that was causing Cameo’s discomfort in the left hind. The images showed no extremely hot areas which was a great relief. There were some warm lines along her left hamstring that coincided with some strong reactions we had had during the first days when we lightly touched this area. Dr Finn was able to do some chiropractic and acupressure releases to help relax and speed up Cameo’s recovery. We are very thankful for Dr Finn’s time and donation of the thermal imaging camera shots.
Two weeks ago, Cameo had a training mishap during a ground work session. She was being worked on a long lead rope, and she flipped her tail up and over the rope, clamped her tail down, and pulled the rope out of the hands of the person who was working her. In an effort to get away from the scary rope, she started spinning in circles, and kept spinning for about a minute. She finally unclamped her tail and the scary rope fell to the ground.
Cameo never stumbled and took a bad step during this, and she walked off fine, but a few minutes later, she was three legged lame, holding her left hind up and putting no weight on it whatsoever. There was no swelling or heat, but she was clearly in discomfort. Dr Fleck came out and examined her, but was unable to determine what was wrong. His suspicion was that something was going on in her hip or pelvis, maybe a muscle tear, maybe a fracture. He gave her pain medication and ordered stall rest through the weekend with a recheck on Monday morning. Cameo was an angel for her confinement, and her attitude remained bright, despite the fact that she was literally hopping on her right foot and keeping her left elevated. She remained unchanged through the weekend, and we all were extremely worried about her.
So it was a huge relief when, by the end of the weekend, she finally started putting weight on her bad leg. Dr Fleck was pleased with her progress but instructed us to keep her on stall rest, and continue to monitor her condition. She was rechecked again after a week, and Dr Fleck had us start hand walking her, starting with 5 minutes per day and increasing to 10 and then 15 minutes per day. At 15 minutes, she started showing signs of lameness, so Dr Fleck instructed us to take her back down to 10 minutes of hand walking twice a day.
Special thanks to Tim Matts at Firstfruits Feed, who opened his store on the 4th of July to sell us white pine shavings for Cameo’s stall after she had an allergic reaction to cedar shavings. We are so incredibly grateful for his generosity and kindness at a time when we were very worried about our girl and wanted to keep her as comfortable as possible.