So, I took the stitches out on Friday night. The wound did not heal as nicely as the wounds on his face did (though my vet warned me that would be the case). There is still a bit of a ridge where the laceration was, which may go down in time. I'm still keeping a very close eye on it and keeping it as clean as possible, but so far there are no signs of infection or complications. Happily, he is quite sound on it, and it does not appear to bother him at all at the trot (haven't cantered yet, but I'm sure that will be fine too). He has been sound at the walk but I was still sort of holding my breath until he took the first few trot steps and I felt his normal metronome-like rhythm. So nice to feel that lovely trot again.
Not surprisingly, Tucker is FRESH. The poor guy has done nothing but handwalk and bareback rides at the walk for the past two weeks, so it's completely understandable. He is still perfectly relaxed and quiet at the walk. As for the trot... we can trot for about 2-3 circles before there is head-shaking and foot-stomping and mini-broncing, and general frolicking and carrying on. He is mostly trying very hard to keep himself under control though, which I appreciate. There was one rearing-pirouette move which I could do without ever seeing again... but the other horse in the ring with us left (before I realized she was leaving), which was understandably very upsetting. Separation anxiety and all. You know how it is.
The best news of all is that he is getting turned out again! Thank goodness -- hopefully this will have him returning to normal horse mode soon. I just hate the thought of a horse stuck in a stall, even when it is necessary, as was the case here. Both days this weekend I worked him first before turning him out, and I think that was a good idea. I also hung out with him in the field for a while, which helped keep him under control. It seems that I make a decent turnout buddy, even though I don't roll and I don't graze. I'm still pretty good company though, and there are usually treats in my pockets. So, I'll do.
On Saturday when I turned him out, he rolled immediately, and I still had the lead rope in my hand as he did this so that I could prevent the taking off upon standing routine, which turned out to be a good idea. I handwalked him around the paddock for a while since he clearly was wild-eyed with excitement. Eventually I undid the lead rope but stayed close by, and he started off just wandering around with me. Then there was some really impressive roaring and striking with the gelding across the fence, at which point he of course managed to get his foot semi-stuck on the bottom rail, and helplessly turned to me. ("Hi. I'm stuck. Can you fix it?" I just shook my head. What does he do when I am not around?) Once he was un-stuck, he commenced trotting the fence line, did some additional pawing, and let out some frustrated whinnies when he realized that the gelding across the fence could touch his girlfriend, while he was separated by double-fencing. Totally cruel and unfair fencing arrangement, if you ask him.
Then there was a brief minute or two where he displayed some wicked bucks, followed by a moment of total insecurity when he heard sirens on the highway and trotted straight to me, put his head down under my arm and refused to leave my side. "Mommy! Scary noise. Hide me." Silly horse. I waited for him to settle down to grazing, and then slowly made my way out of the field. He did some more calling to me when he noticed I was leaving (even though I'm not the greatest turnout buddy, I am still better than nothing) but eventually, he decided he'd just hang out and graze, and then spent a very quiet hour out there.
Sunday I lunged him before riding, because I wanted to give him a chance to get some of those monster bucks out before he was turned out loose and while I could control him a little. Very, very impressive acrobatic displays. I have never seen him buck so high and so hard. After the huge bucks though, he was willing to start listening to me again, and trotted around very quietly and did some good stretching. I got on and rode briefly afterward, mostly at the walk, and other than the rearing-pirouette moment, he was actually pretty good. Sunday's turnout was totally uneventful. Same routine, I walked him around a bit before letting him go, and then he just rolled and went straight to grazing and walking calmly around. I left him out for two hours while I did some organizing and tack cleaning, checking on him every so often. All I could see was the outline of his back, head down, occasionally shifting grazing spots. What a sane, sensible horse I have.
So anyway, while I think it will take me about another week to get him to the point where he's sane, and then we'll have to work on our fitness level, we do seem to be well down the road to recovery. So, the start of our show season is pushed back about a month I'd say, but in the grand scheme of things, I can't complain.