Carolina Horse Park puts on a show series called War Horse Event Series that runs on a monthly basis from May-November. You can choose between doing a CT or HT that runs on Sunday, and they offer a schooling day on Saturday where you can school the courses and go play in the dressage rings, so great for green horses.
So even though I’d only been riding S for a couple weeks, I felt like the format would be a great way to see how he handled himself at shows and around a real jump course. Originally we were only going to go for the schooling day so he could get on XC and go around the SJ ring, but with Florence dumping so much rain on the venue, they cancelled all XC for the weekend and offered it only as a CT. So I signed up to compete.
Definitely a weekend of firsts: this horse’s first time staying overnight somewhere, his first time jumping in a show, and his first time jumping a course of more than 5 jumps.
Here’s how he stepped off the trailer:
That was about the most excited he got all weekend. So…really impressed with this guy’s brain.
I entered him in the Maiden division (2’3″) to keep it simple, but we had wanted to school him over the BN course in the big ring also. Unfortunately the times just weren’t in our favor: they had BN run from 9 AM-11 AM, and Maiden run from 12 PM-3 PM. It didn’t really make sense for him to do the bigger course first, so we opted to not take the chance of blowing his brain and just schooled over the little Maiden course.
Did I mention that was his first time schooling over more than 5 jumps? Winner, winner.
The next day I hopped on about 30 minutes before our test. He was super chill in warmup, even when this horse came straight at us and I had to sharply veer S away. The woman’s response? “I’m on a TEN METER CIRCLE,” like I’m supposed to know. Love lower level warmups. Whatevs. We did Intro C, which is a terrible test in itself, and S was a bit distracted (lots to see), but I was pleased with how he handled everything. He scored a 37, which was a little higher than I thought, but as always, I wasn’t exactly there for the dressage anyway.
Unfortunately no media exists of the dressage test. Trainer B and his working student were both riding at the same time I was, so the moms were busy back at the stalls. If it had received a great score, I’d be more upset!
S got about an hour to chill before I started tacking him up again. Sequence of trying to take a picture of S without the sideeye business.
I love that WHES allows for schooling the day before, but I also weirdly put pressure on myself because of it. If schooling goes great, what if I screw up the competition round? Sounds dumb, but it really makes the nerves kick in for me.
I shouldn’t have worried, though:
Which moved him up from 7th to 5th and earned his owner a ribbon and some treats from sponsors!
In work, that is. Luckily the hurricane didn’t reach us here other than some wind and rain, and as far as I know our Jacksonville house is still standing and dry. People are slowly trickling back to that area, so I’m hoping we find out 100% by next week.
P is still rocking the stall rest game; though for the first time gave me trouble under saddle on Tuesday. I hopped on and within 2 steps hopped right back off. Homeboy wanted to FLY about, so we handwalked those 20 minutes. In his defense, he has been a complete star and the 3 days the hurricane was dumping rain on us, he didn’t get out at all.
I had Husband video a snippet of our ride- you HAVE to turn the sound on.
And then The Tiniest Dictator wanted to hop on as well. P was just as careful with him as always.
I opted yesterday to handwalk him to make sure all the hops were out of him and he was great, so I’ll try getting back on today. If he’s still too jumpy, then I may have to break out the drugs.
Husband just texted me a video though, and he seems quite calm.
He got his first shockwave treatment last Friday, and they’re coming back out tomorrow for round #2, then he’ll go back to Tryon for his final treatment and to re-ultrasound.
S continues to come along. I took him for his first little XC school 2 weekends ago and he did pretty well. He needed some convincing to get in the water at first, but he hopped up and down the baby bank with no theatrics. He was a bit excited when we first started jumping, as he’d never jumped out in the open before, but settled down. Very little media exists, sadly, as my friend was on her wiggly green bean and videos were hard to get.
This weekend we’re heading with Trainer B and team for what was supposed to be XC schooling + HT, but turned into a CT, thanks to the rain from the hurricane. It’ll be a few firsts for S: his first overnight show (and 3rd show ever), his first show jumping, and his first show with me. He’s been hopping around BN+ courses at Trainer B’s, so the plan is to school the BN course the day before, but compete in the 2’3″, since that ring is quieter with less distractions. Sort of boring, but that’s ok.
Ok, signing off to catch up with what everyone else is doing now!
First of all- everyone please say a small prayer for our rental property in Jacksonville, NC…right where dear Hurricane Florence is predicted to make landfall as a category 4 hurricane.
Specifically I’m going to need prayers that the house gets flattened and not just flooded, as we have extensive windstorm insurance coverage, but no flood insurance.
Everyone on the east coast, stay safe!
Ok, onto horse business:
12 days of rehab in!
P got his new shoes on.
Somehow managed to get a cut right on his poll under his forelock.
Which meant the bridle was out and rides would have to be done in a halter…not nerve-wracking at all to ride a fit TB who has been on stall rest the past week and half. Not at all. Luckily he’s been a complete star (knock on wood).
Even when we ventured outside of the arena.
He’s also been hanging with Husband every morning, who takes him out to graze while I’m at work.
That particular video earned him a few frantic texts back, but I appreciate the thoughtfulness. The more he can get out, even just to hand graze, the better.
But as exhilarating as walking in straight lines for 20 minutes per day IS….the thought that that would be my only riding for the next months was a bit painful.
After I snapped back to reality after my meltdown, BO and I talked about my riding S. Funny enough, of the 3 people that asked me to ride their horse, 2 of the horses are grey OTTB geldings. I don’t even LIKE greys, yet they keep finding me.
S is not particularly new to this blog, as he’s most commonly known here on the blog as P’s lover.
They also sometimes pass as each other’s body double.
But for how much they look alike, they’re veeeery different horses.
-P is more relaxed, S tends to hold some tension pretty much continuously.
-P is wildly inconsistent in his gaits- we zoom, then crawl, then dip right, then dip left (all in one 20m circle), S just keeps going until you tell him differently.
-P quickens towards jumps and waaay overjumps everything, while S is all, “No extra energy shall be expended.”
-P has a wonderfully elastic walk and trot, S takes much shorter and choppier steps.
-P’s canter is sort of hard to sit to, S is like sitting on a rocking chair. Seriously, when I would ride with BO, I’d be super jealous of how she could so easily sit the canter…until I sat on him and could instantly do the same. Majikal.
Considering I’ve pretty much ridden just one horse for the past several years, getting on another one was hard for me at first. Luckily S can take a joke, and I really liked riding him. I flatted him a couple times, jumped him a couple times, then the final test was an outing to Trainer B’s…
Since I went alone, no media exists, but it went well. S is pretty out of shape (BO has horses in training so S has been on the back burner for quite some time), and hadn’t been off the property other than a trail ride or 2 since May. He was a bit spooky in the arena, which wasn’t unexpected. If your horse can survive Trainer B’s arena, it can handle anything. There are flags waving, banners flapping, baby horses running, chickens walking about, and lots of shiny and spooky jumps/water trays, fillers, etc. After a few mini-spooks, he settled in pretty easily.
I warmed up then we got straight to the jumps. Trainer B said to warmup over the gate and I said, “K,” and turned S away. Then he goes, “Wait…can he jump this high?” And I said, “Uhhh, I don’t know.” So we were about to find out together. For reference, it’s this gate (P’s favorite):
So I picked up the canter, may or may not have held my breath, and S popped right over it.
Next we popped over the shiny shamrock jump. Nary even a peek.
And through a 2 stride- again, zero hesitation.
Until we finally found a weakness. These barrels:
The first time, I cut the turn to the barrels too short and he just did a bit of a drive-by. Ok, fine. Approached again, and he popped right over.
The we did the entire course again- Shamrock, to the 2 stride, to the gate, and finish over the barrels. This time he popped his right shoulder and again, went right past it.
Now…yes, it was wrong of him. But I literally couldn’t be mad or upset. Because it was so….gentle. I’m used to the psych-out move perfected by P:
But still, not jumping is a no-go, so we schooled it several times, with a strong right leg and open left rein, and he went over it with no additional issues. Came around and did the course again, and he was good as gold.
So he passed the Trainer B test, so I’ll be mainly riding him until P recovers or he sells. We definitely have some things to do- increasing his fitness being the first priority.
Trainer B did nail him on his lack of adjustability at the canter (something he’s quite picky about with every horse), so yay, I get to work on that some more. But it’s something that was quite obvious- I would go to press him forward and nothing would happen. Then I would go to collect slightly and he’d break to the trot. So we’ll be addressing that ASAP and I know will become easier as he gets back into the groove.
While I definitely wish I could be on my own horse, I have the feeling S is going to be quite fun.
Alternate title: What Not To Do When You Have an Injured Horse
My appointment at Tryon was at 10 AM, and lasted until about noon. Bette came to hang out with me, then we left P with some hay at the hospital and grabbed some lunch, then went to go check out the rehab place next door (which ultimately ended up being a hard no at $128/day). Tryon is a 2 hour haul for me, so I ended up finally getting home at 5 PM.
Those 7 hours were, for the most part, quite zen for me. While I definitely shed a couple of tears upon first hearing the diagnosis, talking to Bette, to the vets, and to Trainer B for sure helped a lot. The vet sounded very optimistic and Trainer B has been through similar injuries with horses. Neither made any mention of this being career-ending (provided P doesn’t escape and tear around like a maniac). It was all going to be ok.
So I get home at 5. By 5:01 I made my first mistake- Google. By 5:01:05 I made the most fatal mistake anyone can: clicking on a Chronicle of the Horse thread. NEVER DO THIS. COTH is the equine equivalent of WebMD.
But once I was in, I couldn’t stop…I finally ended up involuntarily passing out around SIX AM, after ELEVEN STRAIGHT HOURS OF GOOGLING & COTH-ING.
Now what did I do in those 11 hours? Let me tell you.
I read that front limbs have a great chance of recovery. If the injury is in the hind, you’re SOL. No exceptions EVER.
I read that once a horse is injured there, they will DEFINITELY reinjure it and will NEVER recover.
I read that horses who have this injury should NEVER be jumped again under ANY circumstances.
I read that only the STUPIDEST of stupid people would EVER ride a horse who has EVER had this type of injury.
I read that there’s absolutely NO WAY a horse can recover in less than 18 months from something like this. Better give it 5 years to be on the safe side. 10 if you actually care about your horse.
I read that if they sustain this injury in one leg they will DEFINITELY injure their other leg in a similar fashion due to compensation.
I read that the ONLY treatment for something like this to have even the SLIGHTEST chance of recovery is for them to have a surgery called fasciotomy. And then I became incredibly angry at the vets for not even having the decency to MENTION this to me. Clearly they assumed I was a pauper and didn’t care for my horse in the least bit. CLEARLY.
Despair kicked in around 1 AM or so. I was tempted to drown my sorrows in a bottle of red wine and the huge bag of M&Ms that Husband so thoughtfully had waiting for me, but no…my horse needed me to think clearly. Eating and sleeping would be selfish.
It was clear to me by then (yes, I was sober) that my horse’s riding career was over. So I looked for retirement farms (FYI there’s a nice one in VA, if anyone is looking), searched for local land for sale so I could have a place for P, and redid our household budget 1,000,000 ways to see how I could fund a second horse.
You’re probably thinking I stopped there, but you’d be wrong. As I was also convinced that P was in immeasurable pain as well, and obvi would be for the rest of his life, I may or may not have memorized my equine mortality insurance plan in looking to see how humane euthanasia worked.
Poor Husband woke around 4 AM (probably to the sound of me sobbing) and said to stop with the internet and get some sleep. I snarled something about him hating P, I believe, and he fell back asleep. Damn patriarchy. I was sure he was HAPPY P’s life was essentially (or literally, depending on which scenario I was convinced of at the time) over.
By 6 AM I had a list of retirement farms to contact about pricing/amenities, some land that I was going to call realtors about, had quotes for run-in shelters to place on said land, and had rehearsed how I was going to accuse ask the vet of not offering up the only procedure that could possibly work to save my horse’s life. It was a very productive night.
Let me tell you about the vet I saw, real quick. He’s been with Tryon Equine Hospital for the past 18 years, and owned it for the last 10 years. He’s trained at New Bolton and was Chief of Staff at Univ. of GA Hospital. His wife is an eventer, as well as an FEI vet for dressage/eventing and is the selector vet for the Canadian event team. The 2 of them are literally overseeing all the FEI vets for WEG.
So, uhhh, pretty qualified, right? Which is why I went there to begin with. But by 6 AM that next morning, I was convinced they were hacks and had some sort of conspiracy against my horse and I. Ya know, all rational things.
Tryon opened at 8 AM, so I gave them until 8:03 before calling because I’m considerate like that. I explained to the receptionist that I had been there yesterday and had a few questions, then left my number for one of the vets to call me back.
Then I put down my phone and stared at it. That never fails.
When they hadn’t called back by 8:05, I lost it. It was obvious they didn’t care that I was going to have to put P down. They probably didn’t even like horses AT ALL.
My makeup had been cried off by now, and half of it was all over my work clothes. My contacts were blurry from all the tears and Husband suggested perhaps I stay home rather than go into the office. I had actual work that needed to be done though, but luckily had my computer at home with me. So I opened up my computer to get said work done, and within 5 minutes found myself with no less than 2 dozen tabs on suspensory injuries open.
I declined breakfast, and Husband tried to gently close my computer lid which only prompted me to grab it and yell, “I HAVE WORK TO DO,” to which he replied, “But….you’re not doing that…” which only caused yet another sobbing fit. I had already accepted the vets didn’t care about my horse’s life, but now my HUSBAND was trying to prevent me from learning all I could so I could make informed decisions about the care of my horse?
By 10:30 AM I had taken to not only cursing the vets and my husband, but also their respective parents. What kind of parents raise people to be so hateful of horses and their loving owners? WHAT DID HORSES EVER DO TO YOU, KAREN?!
By the time the phone rang at 1:14 PM, I was blind from blurry contacts, looked like I had pink eye, my lips and cheeks were swollen and puffy, my nose hurt from blowing it so much, I was surrounded by wads of tissue, and I had a broken toe nail from when I lunged for my ringing phone 15 minutes earlier (which was a STUPID telemarketer who will probably never call anyone else again).
I started with my legitimate questions, first. I needed those answered before going in for the kill.
Me: You said he needed to be hand-walked/tack-walked every day. How long?
Vet: About 20 minutes would be good, no more than 30 minutes for now.
Me: After talking to the insurance company, I’ve decided to do the shockwave but Tryon Hospital is 2 hours away from me. Can any of the vets from your mobile division in Charlotte do it?
Vet: Yes, of course. The receptionist up front can schedule that for you. We’re all on one system so the mobile vets will have access to Pilgrim’s records.
Me (because I couldn’t help myself): Do you really think Pilgrim has a chance at fully recovering?
Vet: Yes, as long as you stick to the rehab plan. Some people just turn their horses out for whatever reason and the ligament doesn’t get the chance to heal properly. Resting it lets it heal while controlled exercise will help the fibers heal in the right direction and minimize scar tissue. We’ve had hundreds of cases similar to Pilgrim’s, and most return to their former jobs at the level they were previously working at. The ones that don’t are the ones that further injure themselves during rehab.
Me: Why wasn’t surgery brought up as an option?
Vet (after long pause): What surgery?
Me (thinking, “Aha! I KNEW you had no idea what you were doing!”): Fasciotomy.
Vet: Oh, Pilgrim isn’t a candidate for that surgery because he doesn’t need it. There’s a small amount of edema (swelling), but it isn’t cutting off any circulation or causing any pain, and will subside with healing. The shockwave should help it go away faster, as well.
So, my friends, learn from my mistakes and NEVER EVER EVER Google or COTH your horse’s symptoms or diagnosis.
August 3rd: P goes to vet for chiro/acupuncture. Is body sore all over and vet puts him on Robaxin for 2 weeks with no jumping, and suggests potentially injecting SI in 2 weeks if he’s not better.
August 20th: P goes back to vet for re-checkup, is still pretty body sore but shows most uncomfortable-ness when flexed in the hocks, especially the right one. Vet decides to inject both hocks, finds arthritis in right one.
August 24th: First time getting on P. Dead lame in the right hind.
August 25th: Back to vet, who agrees he’s lame, but says no infection and thinks there’s some leftover inflammation in the hock and/or is not used to the feeling at the injected sites. Prescribes Bute. Trainer suggests suspensory based on previous nights videos. I drink heavily.
August 26th: Lameness is gone, but still has the right hip drop that was evident pre-injections. Gets Bute.
August 27th: No Bute, no riding, just turnout.
August 28th: Get back on, is pretty normal at walk, is uncomfortable at trot and repeatedly tries to stop. BO observes right hip drop. Tell vet, vet says to give Robaxin for 2-3 days and see if it gets better. If not better, will x-ray or ultrasound hock the following week.
August 29th: Wake up, realize waiting sucks, call Tryon Equine Vet Hospital and schedule appointment. If the vets there are good enough for WEG and the FEI, they’re (probably) good enough for me.
August 30th: Haul P to Tryon, meet Bette who was kind enough to come for moral support, vet watches him go, then blocks foot, which makes P worse. Based on that, vet blocks suspensory. P trots off with a gait Totilas would be jealous of. I wish I had thought to bring tequila to my 10 AM appt.
So it’s official, we have a diagnosis. No more waiting to see if he’ll get better in a few days and try again. So that’s a relief.
The vet used ultrasound to determine the damage, and is optimistic P will make a full recovery. There’s no tear, no lesion, the damage isn’t close to the cannon bone, and there’s no swelling or impingement. He called it “slight mixed fiber loss,” and said it was caught extremely early. The most likely scenario is that P’s hocks were bothering him and caused him to compensate most heavily on the right one (the one with arthritis) in an unnatural way, putting more stress than usual on the ligament.
Prognosis given by the vet was good- he said fall season is out, but we should have a spring one. That over 80% of horses with his injury make a full recovery and go on to resume their normal job. He’s treated Grand Prix dressage horses, Grand Prix jumpers, and 3* event horses that are back at their full workload with no further issues. His wife’s own Prelim horse is sidelined with a similar injury for the rest of the year, but is expected to get back to it early next year. The most important thing is to keep P quiet and follow the rehab schedule.
So P is on stall rest with 20-30 minutes per day of walking either by hand or undersaddle. I’ve been doing both: 10 minutes of handwalking in the AM and then 15-20 minutes of walking undersaddle, which is super boring but also keeps P more mentally engaged. The vet gave us some ace to keep him quiet in his stall, but so far he hasn’t needed any. He’s been enjoying having the door open with just the stall guard up, so he can get all the itchy places:
Eating his Licky Things:
And salt lick:
Cooling off with the leaf blower:
Supervising the arena and pastures (he has the perfect view of his lover, S):
Being Husband’s puppet:
Getting hugs from kids:
And still doing horse things:
I did look into a rehab place, because the vet had said he could do some aquatread, but it’s over $3,500/month. So yeah, love ya, P, but nope. You’re stuck with me.
He’s getting steel egg bar shoes on tomorrow, to relieve some pressure on the suspensory.
Trainer B has had similar experiences with horses, and made a list of stuff for me to get (some holistic, some medicinal) to help healing any way I can.
I added SmartTendon to his SmartPaks. Yes, I’m quite aware that this is probably nothing more than a placebo effect for me but I couldn’t NOT.
The vet said IRAP, PRP, and stem cell injections were not options because there was no hole to inject anything into and he wasn’t about to create one, but that shockwave could be beneficial. Since there’s not really inflammation and it’s not near the bone, it’s not something he said was necessary, and was up to me, since it’s expensive ($1200 for 3 sessions). But it’s covered by insurance, so P is scheduled for shockwave with the hospital’s mobile division the week of the 10th, the week of the 17th, and then will get the final treatment when he goes back to the hospital the last week of September to get re-ultrasounded.
Then as long as it looks like it’s healing, the vet will start to add some trot into his daily routine.
On the riding front, I’m considering leasing or half-leasing BO’s horse, S.
He’s a good egg, and BO isn’t really riding him because she’s busy riding client’s horses. I’m taking him to Trainer B’s tomorrow to get his opinion, but I’ve ridden him a couple times now and have enjoyed him. Yesterday I also got to hop on a horse in for training for her first little gymnastics!
That was my first non-TB ride in years and when I first swung my leg over wasn’t sure my legs would be able to separate that far. But it was still a blast and I will literally ride anything I can.
And now I’m headed off to catch up on everyone else’s blogs and live vicariously through you all!
The Asmar WEG Challenge comes to an end today. Since BO and I didn’t catch wind of the contest until they were on their 3rd challenge (eventing)), we went back for some extra credit and submitted videos for the first two, dressage and vaulting, and then also submitted our entry for the last challenge, para-equestrian.
Let’s take a look back, shall we?
Here was mine for eventing, where you needed to multi-task and perform 3 tasks at the same time. My submission included my absolute saint of a horse who had never dragged anything that was attached to him before. Please also note that I’m on him bareback.
And then show-jumping, which is still my all-time favorite. You had to show your most creative jump, and nothing is more creative than a half-dino costume with a large former-Marine screaming at you in his wife’s riding tights. Asmar contacted me after we submitted that and said while it was their favorite, we had already won twice so we couldn’t win anymore. Understandable, but we were having so much fun making the videos, we continued on.
Then there was reining, where you needed to perform 8 spins on or off a horse as fast as you could. So we got the group together (BO and both our husbands) and beat each other with inflatable baseball bats.
After not riding my horse for pretty much the entire month of August, Friday finally arrived. He’d had injections on Monday, stall rest until Tuesday afternoon, then normal turnout until I could finally get back on Friday.
So I tacked up and power-walked him down to the arena. I had no expectations for how it would go and was fully prepared to deal with an insane P.
I was NOT, however, prepared for this:
Yep. I had meandered awhile at the walk when I first got on, and he felt sort of strange. In a loose sort of way, like he wasn’t all the way put together. Which, I reasoned, was probably normal for us both having had so much time off. As soon as I asked for the trot, I felt his hind end disappear and not come back. Clearly he was lame.
So after asking BO to video and confirm that he was definitely lame, I untacked him, took a jog video and sent both to the vet.
Who said, “Can you come in tomorrow?
My first thought was there’s an infection, but he had no swelling or heat in the leg, and his temp was normal. Still, I wanted to know what was going on.
Saturday I hauled him to the vet and he was still just as lame. We jogged him, flexed him, and it’s definitely the right hind. She said most likely the injection site needs a bit more time for the inflammation to come down, and wanted him on Bute (and GastroGard!) for 3 days, then see how he is. If he’s doing ok, I could get on him. She also pulled blood to check for infection, just to be on the safe side, and said to jog him Sunday evening and send her the video.
So $170 later, we headed back home.
Later that evening, Husband and I went to Trainer B’s for dinner. I hadn’t talked to him since before I tried riding P (I seriously didn’t want to talk about it with anyone), so when he asked how P was, I had to tell him everything. He watched the videos and then asked if she’d ultrasounded the high suspensory. I said no, and he said it looks like that’s the problem.
So I drank a bottle of wine. Sorrynotsorry.
The next morning after church, we stopped by the barn so I could give P his bute, but before I did, I wanted to jog him. At that point, P hadn’t had bute since 2 PM the previous day, so nearly 20 hours prior. It was definitely out of his system. And this is what happened:
We all went home and I sent the video off to Trainer B saying I was so confused as to how he was so much better, despite not having any pain meds. And he texted back and said to put him on the lunge line on a circle. So I headed back out to the barn, this time with the 10 year old in tow (we had to get school supplies), and sent him those videos:
Then he said, “Get on and see if it’s different,” and I hesitated. I mean, the vet said not to ride, but he’s clearly not feeling as terrible as he was Friday night/Saturday morning. So I did.
Trainer B said he could still see some right hip drop, which says he’s not all the way better, but doesn’t immediately scream suspensory either. So I took another jog video that evening and sent it to the vet, saying he looked much better than he did Friday, but now he just looked like he did pre-injections.
She said she wanted to give it another day, but to stop the bute and send her a video Monday night.
And she then said he looked good, and I could get back on today but to stick to w/t this week. If all goes well, add in canter next week.
So blah. But in the meantime, BO has had me ride her horse (who is P’s BFF) a couple times and last night I got to jump for the first time in 36 days (not that I was counting…). This guy is so much fun (and for sale!). I jumped him once when she first got him over a few little cross-rails, but BO concentrated on dressage so he doesn’t really jump. He’s a muuuuuch different ride than P (the 4 in that first line is super easy for P), but that’s my problem, not his. I had an absolute blast and am glad BO got some video so I can relive actually doing something on the back of a horse besides trying to determine lameness!
When P and I had those 2 weeks where literally nothing went right (before I found out it’s probably pain-related), I was all about selling him. Or giving him away. If a glue factory worker had approached me after the 2nd horse trial, I would’ve paid THEM to take P. I spent the 3 hour drive home from Aiken alternating between bawling my eyes out (and I’m NOT a crier) and mentally writing his “For Sale” ad.
Then I talked to Trainer B, who I really thought would be thrilled I wanted to get rid of the horse. And Trainer B said, “No, don’t sell him. He’s too nice to sell.”
Uhh, earth to Trainer B. Have you ever met us before? We suck.
But then he said, “Everyone has issues. This is yours.”
And then BO brought up that a new horse may not be the answer as well. When you get a new horse, you never really know what you’re getting. Sure, an ad can say, “No vices” and the pictures/videos will undoubtedly show the horse at its best, but there’s no way to know exactly what you’re getting.
I’ve owned P for 4 years. And he’s pretty perfect. Let me tell you the ways:
He self-loads on the trailer.
He behaves the exact same off-property and at shows as he does at home.
He greets you at the gate.
He doesn’t buck. He tried once, about 3 years ago at our 2nd ever dressage show in warmup and has never attempted it since. I didn’t even realize what he was doing until I saw video after.
Did you sprint up behind him, not realizing he’s a flight animal? Don’t worry, P won’t mind. I constantly have to tell the kids that not all horses are like P and to pretend like he’s spooky.
He’s never reared. Has never even felt like he was going to.
If he seems a little quick while leading him up to the barn, hand the lead to the nearest 4 year old. P’s nose will hit the dirt and his legs will slow to about 0.01 mph.
Hs spook consists of a jump sideways, then he keeps going.
He doesn’t call for other horses.
Will cross-tie or tie to a trailer all day, no matter what’s going on around him.
You can clip him anywhere with no twitch and no sedation. He’ll put his head down so you can reach his ears more easily.
Even though he loves his turnout, he can be stalled anytime, anywhere. At a show and horses on both sides leave? No problem.
He loves his water. No worrying about him getting dehydrated.
He’s a dream in the warmup ring. Get cut off? Have a horse get too close? No problem for P, he lets it all roll right off his back.
If you fall off, he stands there and looks at you.
You will win lots of contests and get free stuff because he’ll go along with whatever scheme you have in mind.
He’ll eat anything and it’s quite entertaining. Want to see a carnivorous herbivore? Come visit P and bring McDonald’s chicken nuggets.
He has a fabulous walk and trot. His canter has gotten progressively worse, but that is most likely due to the, ya know, hock arthritis. Doh.
No tack? No problem.
Vets and farriers love him because he just stands there and gives no trouble.
You can pretty much do anything you want to around or even on him.
Of course, no horse is perfect. Here’s how he’s not perfect:
He stops at jumps.
So…what’s your horse’s “thing?” What are they not perfect at?
Yesterday P headed back to the vet. As you may remember, he was super body sore and after 2 weeks of being on Robaxin and no jumping, the vet had said if he was still showing soreness, then she wanted to possibly inject the SI.
P’s basically had the past 3 weeks completely off and after sending Trainer B some videos, he recommended asking the vet about doing hock injections as well. So I was mentally steeling myself to shell out some moola.
But first…on Sunday I got a text from BO saying P had lost a shoe….his RIGHT HIND, coincidentally the same leg the vet was most concerned about. Since I knew the vet would want to flex/jog him, I pleadedbeggedbribedstalked asked P’s former farrier if she could get him in that day. Thankfully she agreed to do him that evening, so I went out to stick a diaper on him to hold him for the afternoon and this is what greeted me:
Uhhhh, yikes. I had no idea if she’d even be able to get a shoe on that. It was clear he needed to be done all around and the regular barn farrier wasn’t scheduled to come out until Wednesday. So she worked her majik:
Which brings us to yesterday morning. With his new kicks on, the vet spun him around on the lunge and noted something ever so slightly in his RIGHT FRONT. Holy crap. But it was so intermittent, and so slight that she decided against blocking him, and moved onto the hind. He still palpated sore over his SI, but when she went to flex his hocks, it was clear what the issue was.
Unfortunately I didn’t video the flexions, but trust me when I say he was definitely not a fan of the hock flexion. He hadn’t been a fan of the farrier Sunday night either, when she was shoeing the right hind, and was definitely uncomfortable. Trotting off, he would swing the flexed leg in a circle, rather than bend at the hock. Which is something Trainer B saw in the lunging videos and something the vet saw in some of the riding videos I could pull up for her. It was worse in the right than in the left, but there was still some uncomfortable-ness in the left side as well.
So she recommended injecting the hocks for now. She didn’t want to inject more than one joint at a time, so that in case this wasn’t the golden ticket, it would at least eliminate that as the cause. But her hunch is that the hocks are the root cause of the pain and soreness, based on how he was compensating with his body to avoid bending them.
So homeboy got some drugs, got scrubbed down with antiseptic and she started with the left. Needle slid right in, and right out. Easy peasy.
Then she went to the right and….it wouldn’t go in. It took a few tries, but she finally got it in. The cause of the difficulty? Arthritis. Mild, but still…it’s there.
So we’re hoping that this is a good place to start. He’s currently in his stall, and will be there until tonight, which he’s just thrilled about.
Then I can clamber back on on Friday.
And take it easy through the weekend. He’s been ridden 3 times since August 2nd, I believe.
And he can jump next week. I’m thinking I may let Trainer B do the honors.
And give it two weeks to let the injections take full effect and see how he is. If this is it, great. If not, she said the SI will be next. As far as other maintenance, she doesn’t think he needs to go the full joint supplements (Legends, Adequan, etc) just yet. Just keep up with the injections as needed. Assuming this is the issue, of course.
Last Thursday I went to ride my horse. The jump arena was a little soggy, so we headed to the dressage arena, since the footing was a little more packed.
Aaaaand, he tripped. Twice. Whole hind end out from under me for just a split second, but it was enough.
It was a real bummer because we were supposed to head to Trainer B’s the next day for the first time literally forever. Ok, maybe not literally, but it sure seemed like it. So I texted him to let him know what happened and that coming up there would be pointless, and we agreed that working P until he goes back to the vet wouldn’t do any good.
So more easy days, I guess.
At this point I’m going to just go ahead and prepare for injections. We saw the vet on August 2nd, and since then P has pretty much had the whole time off. Between it storming every afternoon, to me just not being able to make it out, he’s maybe been ridden with purpose 3 times since then. So there’s still something wrong. He goes back next Monday, so fingers are super tightly crossed.
Friday I went to the barn to just hang with him in the pasture. I plopped myself under a tree with a book that I actually wanted to read. P was having none of it.
Saturday I went to Windridge to hang with/help/cheer on Trainer B and the rest of the crew.
I was quite sad to not be there competing, as I really love the venue. And they changed up their XC course from even a month ago, which looked suuuuper fun.
Though I was a little startled to see this, when we were walking the courses:
Sunday, Baby Noah, aka the Tiniest Dictator, requested to ride P. I’m never one to say no to that. P is so gentle with him, and puts his head down for Noah to halter him, then follows along wherever he goes. Despite not having been ridden in 4 days, he stood at the mounting block, and plodded along around the arena for a few laps. It was a bit boring in the arena, so I suggested we head to the pond. Noah at first didn’t want to because he “didn’t want to go underwater,” so I hopped on with him: