Two posts in a row with the title all in caps. Obnoxious, maybe, but also totes necessary. Because P went outside and didn’t die!
I got to the barn at 1, gave P a generous dose of Ace, then grabbed the bottle of wine BO had thoughtfully gifted me and headed down to the arena to distract myself while the drugs kicked in.
Thanks to a few awesome friends + the most hilarious group text ever, the 45 minutes of waiting for the Ace to take effect passed by in a flash. Michele, Sara, and Bette– you guys absolutely rock.
Then IT WAS TIME. Since August 30th, every time P has stepped outside his stall, I’ve been tethered to him in some way. Either I’m ON him or hanging on to him. So unclipping that lead rope and backing away was really hard. It was harder to exit the round pen than it was to drop my kid off on his first day of school. Maybe that makes me a terrible mom or too attached to my horse, but hey, just being honest here.
P was too obsessed with the mash BO had made him to do anything but stand there and gulp it down. Once he finished, I fully expected fireworks to start then…
He swung the feed pan around for a little while, then once he realized it was actually gone and started walking around, I tensed up, because surely this was it….
And that’s really the whole shebang. He got to stay out for a total of 4 hours, which was more than I expected. The vet had said a few hours, depending on how he acted. But even though the Ace surely didn’t last that long, he still kept his brain, even when horses around him started running. He did have a mini-spook when he was right next to the barn dog and she started barking. But it was 4 steps then he got distracted by hay.
And when I went down to the arena to set cross-rails for a couple of people riding, he just stared at me like the stalker he’s always been.
I figured once he got away from me, he’d be in heaven. For 5 months now, my presence has meant a prick of the needle, monotonous walking/trotting around the arena, then being locked back in his stall. So this moment was gold for me:
He’ll hang in the round pen for awhile until the pastures dry out more, but between horses surrounding him, the never-ending hay BO supplies, the grass around the edges of the round pen, and the general outside-ness of it all, I think P’s going to enjoy this next phase of rehab.
Plus he’s now going to canter for TWO minutes every other day.
I’ve always been an avid planner. While I do have my spontaneous moments, you’d better appreciate each one because they’re not all that common.
My life is extra enjoyable when I get to make lists also. The more detailed, the better.
At the beginning of each year, I create a new spreadsheet with all the shows I could possibly go to that year, and then I update once every month or so as new dates get added. Schooling HTs, CTs, Jumpers, Recognized HTs…it all goes into one place. I list the location, distance from barn, costs, and note any possible conflicts.
So this stage of not knowing what comes next is killing me. KILLING ME, I tell you. I’m itching to make my list.
The timing of P’s injury has been both a blessing and a curse. It’s definitely not ideal to first turn your horse out after 138 days in a stall during the winter/rainy season, and I fully admit to already having nightmares about the whole shebang.
But the blessing part is that for quite awhile P will be doing nothing but building fitness. Aka, long walks, lots of hacking out (which will be a welcome change from the arena), lots of boring work that just takes time. And that boring stuff will be happening while Trainer B is down in Florida for the next couple of months, so we won’t be missing out on too many training opportunities, competitions, etc. So for that, I’m thankful.
After talking with Trainer B at length the other day (where I babbled on and on about drug dosages for his first turnout…might’ve mentioned getting a tranq gun, and was then reassured that yes, Dr. H actually DOES knows what he’s doing and that yes, P WILL be able to handle some trotting/cantering around a paddock. In other words, “calm yo’self”), he expects P to be cleared for more cantering/trot poles/cavaletti at his next check up at the end of this month. And his work load will only increase from there, with the expectation that P will be able to start jumping either before or right around the time he gets back.
Where I will happily hand him the reins.
The last time P jumped a jump was when we had been eliminated on XC at a baby log. Second elimination on XC in 7 days. So we didn’t exactly go out on a high note.
Especially considering a short 3 weeks prior, he had nailed the Novice version of this like a boss.
And then will, in all likelihood, commission B to take P in his first horse trial back as well, since I definitely get show nerves and again, just want everything to go as smoothly as possible for P. Key difference there between Trainer B and I.
Me before dressage: ::drills myself on dressage test repeatedly. Knows test forwards, backwards, and from any point in the middle. Goes down centerline and panics about which way to turn. ::
Trainer B before dressage: Hey, is this the test where I turn left or something? Cool. ::Goes in and wins.::
Though with P soon being able to rejoin the land of the living (aka, the pasture), I maaay or may not be considering some dressage shows in the meantime.
I did go ahead and sign up to volunteer this Saturday at a CT being held at Carolina Horse Park. It’s about a 2 hour drive from my house, which is why I really never volunteer, but at this point I’m sort of desperate to do anything horse-related that doesn’t include me thinking about a certain someone’s tendon.
I hate driving but at the same time do have some catching up to do on audio books/podcasts, plus I give one hell of a live concert- maybe it won’t be so bad and I’ll be inclined to do it more often. CHP gives a $25 voucher per volunteering day, so if I can rack those up and get some good juju going, maybe the Riding Gods will smile upon me and P will actually be cleared for competing.
So while I get a little green with envy while reading everyone else’s goals and plans for the upcoming year, I guess I have the tiniest bit of one myself. And I’m probably going to go ahead and make the competition list anyway. Just in case.
Guys. Let me tell you about P’s first canter after 125 days of stall rest, aka the story of NOT ENOUGH DRUGS.
Unfortunately I wasn’t wise enough to ask anyone to video. A video could best tell this harrowing tale of a horse who realizes that for the first time in forever, he’s being asked to go faster than usual and has flashbacks of his old glory days of yore (aka racing, where he won a whopping $17,000 in 11 starts…aka he sucked at it). But you’ll have to settle for my words.
So for the 3 weeks leading up to Cantering Day, P has been on the following schedule:
Minutes 0-10: Walk
Minutes 10-15: Trot
Minutes 15-20: Walk
Minutes: 20-25 Trot
Minutes 25-30: Walk
Minutes: 30-35: Trot
Minutes 35-40: Walk
Exhilarating, I know.
So for the canter, we were supposed to replace the middle trot set with one minute of canter. Total. Not one minute each lead. Oh, and only canter every other day. Not even every day. Contain your excitement.
So leading up to the canter, all day I’m super nervous. What if he’s lame? What if this MAKES him lame?
So the Big Moment arrives: a few circles of trot, then I oh-so-timidly asked him for the left lead canter.
And P goes into this super calm canter, canters a few large circles, and comes right back to the trot.
Someone is such a grown up, amirite? I was bursting with pride at my super mature poneh.
So I turn him around, ask him to trot a few circles then ask him to canter. And P…TAKES OFF. That video of his spook from last week had NOTHING on this. All 4 off the floor and me, helpless, not being able to make any sudden movements…just glancing at my stopwatch periodically and watching a minute tick by…a minute and 30 seconds…until P was all, “Oh, this wasn’t what you meant? Cool, let’s just do an extended trot. No? Ok, regular trot. No? Walk? FINE.”
I swear my life is now shortened by 30 years AT LEAST.
The next day, I only rode him for the beginning walk, then hopped off to lunge him at the trot so I could stare obsessively at his right hind. And he was all, “canter now? Canter now?” but stayed in the trot so long as I did a zillion transitions so he wouldn’t get faster and faster.
And the next day when I cantered him (on the lunge)? Perfect gentleman. And still sound, thank the good Lord above.
Then yesterday when I hopped on and asked him to trot for his first set, he would shuffle a few steps, then break to the walk. And I FREAKED.
“He’s lame, he’s hurting. Clearly he’s on death’s door because what horse in their right mind doesn’t want to trot at the EXACT MOMENT MY WATCH SAYS 5:00? I’ve done all this work, I’ve kept him jailed in a stall for 130 days, and he’s lame and we’re going to have to start all over and MY WHOLE LIFE IS RUINED BECAUSE HE DOESN’T WANT TO TROT.”
BO (once I finally got him going): He looks totally sound. He actually looks really good.
The closer we get to completing rehab, the more neurotic I find myself becoming. I think this will all get exponentially easier once he starts going outside again, so if we can make it through these next 8 days, hopefully I’ll be able to CALM THE F DOWN.
After 12 days off work, having family come in from Chicago, hosting Christmas at our house with family/friends, and closing on the sale of our rental home, I’m making myself post before heading off to check out what everyone else has been up to. While it was great to stay home this year (usually we go to Chicago for Christmas), it was almost as exhausting to stay home! Husband and I started off looking like this:
But ended feeling like this:
And speaking of the Tiniest Dictator, one of my favorite moments of the last few weeks was his first official riding lesson! Due to P’s current state of unpredictability, he hasn’t been able to ride him for the past couple months…which angers the T.D. greatly. So BO put him on the World’s Biggest But Gentlest Lesson Angel and gave him a lunge lesson. And it was ADORABLE.
Disclaimer: The T.D. is a strange child who, if Husband or I are around, will typically not speak to anyone, including BO. So we hid up at the barn to watch/take videos so that he would actually acknowledge BO’s presence.
Balancing exercises at the walk (methinks I need to do this!):
And a little trot:
The next day he came out with me to the barn and when I started getting P tacked up he goes, “Which horse am I riding?”
He’ll probably reach Training level before I do.
P is still doing alright. He is currently going through a phase where he pretends he has no idea what contact is and spends our walk times trying to drag the reins through my hands #stallrestproblems Normally I would do things like transitions or changes of direction to keep him moving properly but alas, rehabbing tendon and all. One horrible habit I’ve always had is loose/open fingers, so this at least is getting me to keep them closed.
But the other day, P just COULDN’T EVEN:
No, it wasn’t a horrible spook. And it lasted all of 4 seconds. But I swear I heard tendon fibers tearing with every stride. I can still hear them. Because I’m neurotic like that at this point. But he’s fine and has trotted totally sound ever since. I swear though, my nerves can’t take this much longer.
And speaking of nerves…this afternoon will be his first day cantering (on purpose)! One whole minute every other day…exhilarating, right?
Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday-here’s to 2019!
I’ve legit been writing ONE post for the last TWO.WEEKS. Organizing the media for said post has been the death of me, so thankfully Amanda started a bloghop where I can just use pictures I already have.
Clearly 2018 has been a mixture of some pretty high highs and currently we’re making our way back up to the surface after a pretty deep low. I was struggling with how to write a recap of the year, because well, life sorta sucks all around when your horse has been on stall rest 112 days and the last 27 days are dragging on super slowly.
So without further ado…
Favorite show picture.
Show of hands- who’s surprised I chose this one? Yeah, exactly no one. Because I love it. It’s literally my profile picture for everything and has been since it was taken in June- Instagram, Facebook., this blog…even the software program my CrossFit gym uses to track members’ results. Every single CrossFit member knows I jump huge solid obstacles. They better not forget that.
Favorite non-show picture
This picture could be best described as “typical downtime.” Some people work on perfecting 20m circles or getting the correct bend. I ride my horse bareback in an inflatable dinosaur suit, while asking him to pull an arena drag.
Favorite thing you bought.
I already had the trailer, but we bought all the materials for Husband to turn the dressing room into some pretty amazing mini living quarters. It was absolutely worth all of Husband’s blood, sweat and tears.
Favorite moment on horseback.
Finishing our first Novice, no question. After staying at Starter for 2 years and having sort of a rough go of everything, I really never expected to get around Novice. I watch this snippet of the last 4 jumps nearly every day and my favorite part is how P digs in after the last jump to cross the finish line. I totes had tears in my eyes when we landed so I’m glad he found the finish line. Even if the speed was unnecessary (we had quite a few speed faults as it was).
Favorite moment out of the saddle.
When Trainer B took P around his first Novice in Virginia. P finished 6th in a huge field of 25, with lots of big name pros riding their fancy young horses. This was the second to last jump, and definitely one of my favorites.
Favorite “between the ears” picture.
This was a surprise jump for me. We were XC schooling and Trainer B told me to gallop up the hill and look for the light colored log. When I saw it, my first instinct was to ABORT MISSION. But we ended up nailing it.
Favorite horse book or article.
I purchased this back in 2010 when I first got back into riding as an adult. I didn’t have access to a trainer so I would highlight certain phrases and make Husband (or some other innocent bystander) stand ringside and read the highlighted parts to me while I rode. I still pick it up if I’m struggling with a concept because the imagery used in the book is amazing.
Favorite horse ridden (or groomed/cared for) aside from your own.
Of course that goes to S. When P got sidelined, S got pulled from being a pasture puff to completing his first ever horse trial (including his first time seeing an XC course that same weekend) in like 6 weeks.
Unfortunately, after some lameness post-stifle-injection-gone-wrong, he’s currently dealing with a bout of cellulitis which has landed him on stall rest along with P.
Favorite funny picture of your horse.
This just so perfectly captures P’s personality. He absolutely LOVES the snow. It recently snowed here and on our walks to and from the barn and arena for rehab sessions, he’d try to drag me to all the snow piles to stick his nose in.
Favorite fence that you successfully jumped or movement that you conquered.
Besides the Novice table from the picture above (I didn’t even look at it during the course walk), definitely P’s first Trakehner. You just sort of never know what’s going to happen with new fences, so this was a pleasant surprise.
Favorite horse meme or funny picture.
Husband always says P is an ass. Sure, P’s a bit mouthy (not a biter, but will lip you to death) and ok, he does routinely steals Husband’s food. But Husband also does things like this to him, so I feel like they’re even.
So this AM, I’m ridding Big Dustina of a few weeks worth of accumulated trash
And I happen upon P’s last set of discharge instructions from Tryon. Now, I feel like I’ve read and reread these a thousand times. I had to, to recap the visit a couple posts back. But as I’m walking back through the garage to stick these in the house, skimming the page…some words suddenly stuck a different nerve in my brain (or however science works)
So I went back and double checked my earlier self- and yep, these instructions call for 4 weeks of cantering before re-check.
So, was I wrong before? Could it be that P can actually begin turnout two weeks EARLIER than I originally thought?
I have a call in to Tryon, to be absolutely positive, but tell me what you see!
So P has been doing lots of trotting, but zero of it has been with me in the saddle. One of the main reasons being that if he were to spook or flip out, I could get control of him quicker from the ground. But another (unspoken) reason has been because I’m terrified I’ll feel lameness. So thus far I’ve done all his trot sets in-hand, then hopping on him for his last few minutes of walking.
But the day where I trotted him under saddle had to come sometime and yesterday the Millbrook stirrup leathers arrived, so it seemed as good a time as ever. BO graciously videoed the momentous occasion, and P and I trotted for the first time under saddle since AUGUST!
So…y’all are the best. For real. I know I don’t post a ton anymore (since there’s only so much you can say about walking in a circle for 30 minutes), but I teared up a bit at pretty much every encouraging comment I got on the last post. So, uh, ::looks at ground, kicks some dirt so you don’t see the red eyes:: thanks, guys.
Despite the bummer riding situation, Black Friday comes but once a year. And while you won’t catch me at the mall at 6 AM, if a local-ish tack store gives you a 40% off coupon if you’re outside in line before 8 AM? You make that happen.
A few barnmates and I caravanned about an hour away to Waxhaw Tack Exchange– a place I’d never been before. I had two things I needed- river boots and tall riding boots. The lining in one of my Dublin River Boots finally tore and my tootsies were feeling quite vulnerable handwalking P in sneakers. Another pair was needed, stat.
I really liked the Dublins because they lasted quite well. I bought them a little over two years ago and wore them A LOT. They go with everything. Even gym shorts.
I had tried the Ariat H20s before purchasing the Dublins, and they lasted all of 2 months, so I knew I wanted Dublins again. And this time I went for the fancy ones that seem even more durable. Here’s hoping they wear as well as the other pair did.
Alas, they had zero riding boots in my size, so I took it as a sign that I was meant to go ahead and buy the EGO7s that I’ve been eying for, well, years. That brand is carried by another tack store that was going to have it’s own sale, so I figured I’d wait a few more days and buy them then.
UNTIL I got on Riding Warehouse’s website and saw that the Mountain Horse Sovereign Field Boots were already on sale, then marked down AGAIN with their Black Friday 25% discount. Damn it.
So those are coming to me as well. Unfortunately they only had my size in Regular height and not Tall, so we’ll see. I tried on a barnmate’s pair that was already well broken-in and they’re not as tall as I would like, but for less than half the price of the EGO7s, I feel like I can ignore the 0.75″ difference.
While I was on there, I restocked my dwindling supply of Higher Standards Leather Balm and Saddle Soap. That stuff is fantastic and the only reason why my Ariat paddock boots still look decent after 6 or so years of almost-daily use.
And because after the discount it was $17, P got a cooler.
And a new rope halter w/14 ft lead. P’s favorite thing to do in the crossties now is to shake his head up and down repeatedly for as long as he’s in there, making his leather halter and the crosstie clasps jingle, so BO started using her own rope halter to spare her from P’s music-making. The silence is heavenly, so I ordered my own.
Then I made the mistake of hopping on Facebook. Something I really haven’t done in weeks.
This immediately greeted me:
The turquoise stirrup placed in the front was clearly a trap. The whole thing was obvi a setup, as I actually needed a new girth. This is what happens to an HDR girth when it has been used for 8 years:
I had actually been gearing up to get the County Logic girth, as that’s the girth S uses and it’s soooo cushy. But with the ME girth at less than half the price, and with the promise of fancy new stirrups thrown in, I couldn’t resist. So this baby is on it’s way to me:
I got the removable liner option for the extra $10 and really hope it works for P, as our XC boots have held up remarkably well. I waffled back and forth on which color stirrups to get- turquoise is obviously our thing, BUT his ITBF bonnet for the jumping phases at competitions is purple.
In the end, I couldn’t resist the turquoise, something I’m sure surprises exactly no one.
Note on Majyk Equipe’s customer service: My total for the girth came to $99.99 ($89.99 for the girth + $10 for the removable liner option), and when I went to checkout it automatically tacked on nearly $20 in shipping charges since the purchase was under $100. So I messaged them via FB to ask about the $0.01 for free shipping, but didn’t expect to hear back because it was, well, Thanksgiving day. So imagine my surprise when my phone dinged a few minutes later and it was them responding with “We’ll make a note and you won’t be charged,” message. Love customer service like that. It’s really what will get me to continue buying from a certain company.
So now I had new stirrups coming to me. Excellent. Except the fact that they’re turquoise and most competitions around here are one-day, where you go straight from SJ to XC. And at least at some venues, heading into show jumping with turquoise stirrups may be frowned upon. Ok, maybe it’s sort of an excuse to justify my next purchase, but it’s sort of the only excuse I’ve got. Anyway, without further ado:
Damn, I need another hiatus from Facebook. That place is dangerous. One of my friends has a pair of these and I just love the way they look. And I have a few friends who have their half chaps and rave about the leather. The Voltaire ones I have are just fine, but at $190, I wasn’t about to buy those again.
So….why, you might ask, would I need new stirrup leathers?
Well, here’s the way I see it. Changing over from SJ to XC for P & I already requires a pit crew. P’s not allowed to wear XC boots in SJ ever since the ONE TIME I put them on for SJ and he knocked down 3 fences. See Exhibit A:
Aaaaand we have to change from his Lund bridle with the Nathe bit that he uses for dressage/SJ to the figure-8 with the gag bit he needs for XC. So we don’t plow face first into jumps.
Soooo…why not change out stirrups as well?
Psssttt- the above is a rhetorical question. If you have a good answer as to why I don’t need new stirrups or stirrup leathers, you will be banned from my life. I already used the above long-winded explanation with Husband and he bought it. No one better tell him differently.
So I’m super excited for everything to arrive—– so I can go walk/trot my horse.
The only thing that makes a 2 hour haul to Tryon for a 10 minute appointment worth it is that I get to see Bette! Oh, and the WEG-worthy vet. I guess he’s alright, too.
Good news: All the fiber loss is filled in, scar tissue is in place, and he’s completely sound.
Bad news: I was wrong in my assumption that this would be the checkup to determine suitability for turnout. So very wrong. Turns out Dr. H just wanted to be sure the 9 minutes of trotting wasn’t doing more harm than good, and has given the green light for…drum roll….increased trotting. For 6 more weeks.
Good news: His new trotting schedule (3 weeks of 3 sets of 4 minutes of trotting, then 3 weeks of 3 sets of 5 minutes of trotting) will bring back some fitness.
Bad news: Next checkup is at the end of JANUARY. So, like, a million days away.
Good news: After the 6 weeks of trotting, we get to add in the canter- 2 weeks of cantering 1 minute every other day, then 2 weeks of cantering 2 minutes every other day.
Bad news: SO BORING.
Good news: If all remains well at the end of the ten weeks, he will finally be cleared for turnout.
Bad news: 10 weeks is January 30th- the middle of winter when everything is wet, muddy and either frozen or soggy. Not really optimal for being turned out after SIX MONTHS in a stall.
Good news: January 30th will be 154 days since initial diagnosis/stall rest began. We’re currently on day 89, so 58% done!