Yesterday I went out to the barn for P’s daily bandage change. But when I cut through the vet wrap and duct tape, half of his uber special shoe flopped down.
So after BO’s husband and I removed the entire shoe…
…I wrapped his stupid shoeless foot and might have gleaned the tiniest bit of pleasure in his obvious soreness walking back to his stall.
And P’s just plain old out of luck, because AGF (Almighty Genius Farrier) had already told BO (who has a horse with a loose shoe) that he was booked solid this week. I do have a text in to him, offering to trailer P to him, but I’m also feeling fairly cold-hearted ATM.
So I went home and got in the shower with Old Faithful.
The vet came out earlier today on an emergency call for another horse at the barn, so while she was out and P was barefoot, I had her look at P’s foot, even though she and AGF weren’t supposed to come back until April 1st to re-check and reset the shoe.
All the soft tissue has gone back to the way it should be, which was great to hear. As the hoof sole and wall grow out, it will cover up what you can see, but there’s no more inflammation.
She was surprised at how much growth has occurred in such a short period of time(maybe the Wunderhoof stuff actually works?) and said he should be back in work sooner than we thought. She said we can skip the re-check on the 1st and just wait another 4 weeks, so that at least saves me some $$.
Now, here’s hoping AGF is able to squeeze P in to get a shoe back on! Until that happens, he’s BACK in the round pen, walking like he’s about to die.
For the first time since August 2018, P is finally back in a pasture. When he was first cleared from stall rest in January, the pastures were so wet that P was assigned to the round pen, lest he slip in the wet grass/mud and reinjure his tendon. Then he tore half his foot off, went back into the stall for 7 days, and then was back in the round pen.
But BO and I figured this was as good a time as any to get P out into a small pasture, as he’d likely be sore enough thanks to The Foot Hole, and wouldn’t be so inclined to tear around.
Which was true. For, ya know, a couple days.
So with one grey TB back in action…
…I’m thinking P can handle a few laps of walking under saddle in the arena.
It’s been raining in NC for what seems like 5 nonstop months. Temperatures have fluctuated from 30 to 80 (sometimes in one week), and some days I don’t even MIND that I don’t have a rideable horse because it’s just plain ol’ nasty.
But with the end of March comes a few things…Trainer B’s return as well as the beginning of show season.
But KC, you might say, your horse has a gigantic hole in his foot.
That he does, my dears, but it’s looking like this handsome guy will soon be coming my way.
Right now the plan is to head up to VA at the end of this month and compete C in a schooling horse trial, then bring him back to NC with me. His owner will be following him down to NC shortly after that, as she heads back to work for Trainer B, and C will stay with me until P is ready to go. Which will probably be early summer, because the second that horse is declared good to go back under saddle, he’ll be heading to Trainer B’s for at least a month. I seriously can’t even with that horse anymore.
So all hopes for a spring season may not be dashed after all. Which has me thinking about the events I’ve been to as both a rider and a spectator, and which ones I can maybe, just maybe, plan to get to this year.
It was so hard to pick a favorite. I loved going to Virginia HT when Trainer B competed P and really hope to get to compete there myself this year.
I will always be partial to Windridge. Maybe because we’ve won there before…
Also because they have a kick ass XC course.
But I have to say that my favorite among favorites has to be Carolina Horse Park.
All around, I just love the venue. The stalls are roomy, and designed to be able to conveniently hang things like saddle racks/bridle racks/hay nets/buckets, etc. The overhangs are great at keeping the rain off ya and are spacious enough to have trunks/hay bales in front of stalls.
Trashcans everywhere that are actually emptied DURING the show, so trash isn’t blowing out by Sunday. Small details like that matter.
Another favorite feature is that each stall has it’s own dual electric outlet. Perfect for a fan and a phone charger.
They have 2 areas for campers/LQs, both of which are about a 45 second drive to the barns. The hookups are far enough apart that no one has to park on top of each other either.
They partner with a nearby golf cart company, so you can have one delivered for the duration of the show for $45/day.
The only thing missing would be showers. If they’d add showers and a real restroom, that’d be perfection.
I believe they run only 2 USEA events throughout the year, in addition to Carolina International at the end of March, then from May-November, they host a schooling series called War Horse Event Series.
Timing has never worked out to where I’ve competed in one of their USEA events, but I have attended several of the WHES events and love how well run they all have been. Plus, stabling for Friday-Sunday is only $75 AND you don’t have to clean the stall at the end of the weekend. With a horse like P, there is no better deal than to NOT have to strip the stall.
But even though the cost for the schooling events is less than recognized, don’t think the competition is easy. It’s a big atmosphere at each of the shows, with all 8 barns being completely filled most months. They typically have around 300 entries per show, and offer HTs through Training and CTs through Advanced. As such, they hire real course designers for both show jumping and XC, and those courses are over the same tracks and jumps as you’ll find in their recognized shows.
Dressage is always interesting, as they run 6 rings at one time, so keeping your horse focused while there’s a bunch of horns/bells/SQUEAKY TOYS (of course for the ring we usually get put in) sounding off around you can be challenging at times.
Stadium they have two different arenas- one on grass for the little stuff (up to 2’3), and then BN+ in the Century Link arena.
The grass arena always has great footing and is slightly more quieter, which is great for the green horses and/or riders.
On the other side, the Century Link arena is quite busy with the barns on one end, another side taken up by loudspeakers and tents, and warmup on the other side. The courses are definitely never easy either.
And then there’s XC. While some horse trials I’ve been to never really change up their tracks, at CHP I’ve never seen the start box in the same place. Like stadium, they have two separate areas for the levels: starter (2’3″) and below uses a completely different track/course with BN+ in another.
If you do enough of these WHES events, you can qualify for the championships, which dishes out hefty prize money and goodies.
And as a cherry on top, they always have at least 2 food trucks onsite, and 2 mobile tack shops. For dinner, the venue is close to town with lots of restaurants to choose from.
It’s just under two hours from me, so I’m hoping to make it there at least once this year, or as many times as is on the schedule.
Of course that depends on, ya know, having a horse to ride.
WARNING: Some pictures in this post are disgusting.
Both vet and farrier came out yesterday to do x-rays and see if a shoe could get put back on P’s broken foot.
He walked out of the stall much better than when he went into it a week ago (he hasn’t left it at all and was getting his bandage changes in there), which was a relief, and the vet unwrapped his foot to take a look.
Barf. The white grainy stuff is a mixture of MSM/sugar, just FYI. The good news is that the pack, bandage, and SMZs have been doing their job in keeping infection away.
Then the vet took x-rays and I held my breath.
The x-ray showed that no bone was damaged in P’s wild crosstie escapade, which makes his prognosis excellent. The laminae is a little inflamed, which is to be expected, so I’m to continue with the betadine/sugar/MSM applications under his wrap.
Then it was time to see if a shoe could get back on there to help relieve some pressure.
And after going back and forth with the farrier, who will from now on be referred to as Almighty Genius Farrier (AGF) because he rocks, AGF was able to fashion and attach a shoe to what’s left of the hoof.
You could clearly see the relief on P’s face when he found he was able to put weight on that leg for the first time in 7 days. The vet and AGF watched him walk up and down the barn aisle and the difference was immediate.
So P will remain on SMZs, bute, and daily bandage changes. He *should* be able to go out in a small paddock or the round pen in the next couple of days. I actually had to ace him after AGF/vet left, because he was like, “Uhhh, no thanks, I’m actually fine now” when I put him back in his stall. BO joked that we should take off the shoe, but I already paid for that sucker, so I said she could just kick the hole if he gets out of line. And I’m only half-kidding, if we’re being honest.
I’m really not looking forward to changing the bandage from here on out, though. Before, I did it from the bottom of the foot and never made direct eye contact with the exposed soft tissue. Now I have to go through the front and pull the pads through the hole. Which makes me want to gag just thinking about it. Thanks, P.
The vet/AGF will come back out in 4 weeks to do another set of x-rays and reset his special shoe. So in the meantime…we, uh, wait, I guess.
As for a new ride, I’m still sort of in limbo. Trainer B wants me to try out this one horse that’s semi-local to me, so that will be happening this coming weekend, weather permitting. Otherwise the tentative plan (work permitting, this time) is to head back to VA at the end of March to catch ride my friend’s horse, C, in the MDHT Starter Trials at BN, and then bring him home with me. C is the horse I rode when I visited a couple weeks ago, and I really enjoyed him.
We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, I can be found stuffing betadine soaked pads through the hole in my horse’s foot, while furiously rubbing WunderHoof all over what’s left of it and shoving Farrier’s Formula Double Strength pellets down his throat.
Seriously- thanks so much for all the comments I got on the last post. I read each and every single one, but really just couldn’t even respond to any of them. The whole thing just majorly sucks. I also really appreciate all the texts I got. This community is the best.
I took a 4 day weekend trip to Nashville for a friend’s bachelorette party, and one of the boarders so generously changed P’s bandage daily. I felt guilty leaving, but have had my plane ticket since September so wasn’t going to miss it. It was definitely a good break from agonizing over his stupid foot nonstop.
And Husband was awesome and let me talk to P via FaceTime. Because…that’s not weird, right?
I did see him yesterday and he’s still incredibly sore. The upside of his not wanting to move is he’s super quiet in his stall (and for once his stall isn’t a total disaster…silver lining?), the downside is the boredom must be unfathomable. So we do little things like stick pieces of apple in his bucket to keep him entertained.
The vet and farrier are coming today as a team- P’s foot will get some x-rays and hopefully there will be some sort of shoe put on to support his foot more evenly and take some pressure off the injured area while the rest of it grows back.
And there’s no replacing just the piece because naturally it’s the strap that’s attached to the browband. Because OF COURSE.
So I hopped on Lund’s website to order a new one and….
With the same message showing for every horse size snaffle bridle. I emailed them to see when they were expected back in stock, but, well, I sort of need a bridle NOW. The only other bridle I have is P’s XC bridle. Because it’s only used for XC, it has the gag on it and I can’t find the regular cheek pieces to attach his regular bit to it. So we may be doing our trot sets today in a gag #FAIL
I really need to order one today, as I’m going out of town for the weekend (to ride horses in VA!) and when I get back, don’t want P to have even more days off. SO HELP ME.
I’m torn between two worlds right now. On one hand, I could just order a cheap-ish bridle from SmartPak until I can replace the Lund one (because I do love the Lund), OR I could fulfill an old wish and get the PS of Sweden High Jump bridle that I’ve sort of drooled over forever.
But I have some concerns with the P.S. of Sweden- first, I have no idea what size to order. P wears a regular horse size in the Lund, but I did need to punch some holes in the noseband in order to make it fit. Also, can I even event in the thing without a throatlatch? Or would I need to buy one? Will the swooped browband look totally stupid on P? How do you even put that thing together?
Then there’s the color thing. On the PS of Sweden website, it looks like a normal chocolate brown that would match well with my Voltaire saddle.
But when I went on the Farmhouse website (since it’s more local than, ya know, SWEDEN), and clicked brown, THIS picture popped up.
If anyone has the PS of Sweden bridle, do you love it and think it’s worth the price tag? Any other brands you think are must-haves to check out? Once I find something that works, I tend not to deviate, but I also don’t want to order a product on backorder and be waiting a long time so if I’m going to experiment…the time is NOW. Besides good leather, my only requirement is that it NOT have a fixed tab for a flash.
Riding Healed P has been completely different than riding Rehabbing P. To the outsider, though, everything probably looks about the same: we still mostly trot in straight lines, we still walk a lot, but I feel a lot more confident in the saddle- like I’m not going to break him should I make any sudden movements.
And the other night, we attempted this for the first time in forever:
So exciting, right? No? Well, it was to me. It’s the little things right now. Just humor me.
Since P is now typically calmer than he was when he was stalled (I say “typically” because our last ride was quite, uh, explosive), I’m doing a lot more work in two-point and, for the first time in months, put my stirrups up to jump length and my legs definitely felt the effects.
Definitely a big difference is that he’s no longer sedated for turnout or riding. While he was never drugged out of his mind or anything, and definitely needed ace to take the edge off during that last stretch of stall rest/rehab, I was never comfortable on him while he was “under the influence.” Now we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming, aka, seeing how much he’ll put up with me. Like so:
And he’s trying to spread the love and desensitize others as well. BO caught this video while she was trying to work with a horse who was nervous about trailer loading- P thought he’d be super helpful and bounce his ball repeatedly next to the trailer. Always so thoughtful.
While I wish more mind-blowing things were happening, I’ll take the trot poles and the shenanigans for now. T-16 days until we have lift-off again!
Thanks for all the congratulatory messages! I’m now considering a career in rehabbing horses. Since clearly I ROCK AT IT.
Friday I went out to the barn with a renewed sense of purpose. I wasn’t rehabbing anymore, I was training. Sure, our ride didn’t look drastically different (except I threw a few very drunk looking leg yields into the mix), but I FELT different. We weren’t aimlessly wandering around the arena so those tendon fibers would align….because they, ya know, already have.
I think P could definitely feel the energy shift as well, because he seemed much more businesslike than usual. Or maybe it’s because he’s finally not drugged. After the last couple months, I have no idea why people would want to ride a drugged horse. It sucked.
Above are a couple very cherrypicked still frames from the below video that was taken on Friday. But despite the moments of short steps and falling on his forehand, the old fancy P is still in there and comes out in short bursts.
The day after P got cleared, S also got cleared to go back into work. So the Stall Rest Twins will now be conditioning together as well! BO and I are hoping to trailer out to the sandhills to get some trail riding done on sand-based trails, since around here is just a mud factory.
So we’ve got all the fitness happening at the moment. I even spent an entire hour on my horse on Sunday- which was the longest time spent in the saddle for the past several months. And then P will start jumping March 1st. Which I CANNOT WAIT FOR.
I’m so excited that I literally can’t stop talking about being back out competing. Poor Husband has had to endure listening to me list all the possible events I can go to this upcoming spring, though I’m pretty sure he still won’t be able to tell the difference between VA Horse Trials and Windridge (both of which are topping my list right now).
Needless to say, it’s been hard to slow my roll. I want to do all the things and I want to do them right now. But obviously I’m not, as building P’s fitness level back up slowly is going to be key. Not to mention my own. I’ve stayed plenty fit off of horses, but riding is a whole ‘nother level, as we all know.
It’s definitely a little nervewracking, not knowing exactly when to push P and when to back off. I work out 4-5 days/week, and typically don’t feel intense muscle soreness for about 24 hours after a particularly tough workout. So I’m keeping that in the back of my head when I feel him want to break or stop, and I’ll ask for just a few more strides before calling it quits. I also make sure to give him plenty of walk breaks and time in between doing things like poles and trot sets.
Life in general has been so much easier now that he’s outside, because I don’t feel the enormous pressure that I did when he was stalled. When he was inside, I was his only hope of getting out so I made sure to get there every day that I possibly could, rain or shine, hot or cold. I probably missed less than 10 days total out of the 150+. So him being outside has definitely been a relief because if I can’t get to the barn, he still can walk around and be like a real horse.
And oversee farm projects:
He’s still in the round pen, as the pastures just aren’t dry enough for mine and BO’s liking. And I know he’s bored in there, though he’s actually not missing much, as the horses in the pasture don’t really even have grass to eat, and spend their days munching on hay the same as he does.
The other horses don’t have a giant red ball like he does, though.
But since it is a smaller space than a typical pasture, I’m making it my mission to get on him every day that I can. Not necessarily to work on specific things, but to keep those muscles from getting too stiff. Not to mention build back that cardio system.
It’s a bit of a slow period in my immediate area as far as dressage shows/CTs go, but we’re planning on joining in with some barnmates at a local hunter show or two, just to get off the property. BO has a student who needs some exposure riding off property, so I’ll be tagging along for those field trips as well.
So even though I’m dying to pick up where we left off, all I can actually do is babble about it for now.
Though here’s how you know things are getting serious…
P had his 10 week checkup at Tryon yesterday. At this point he’s up to 5 minute trot sets, has been cantering for 4 weeks and outside for 2. So it was time to see if the tendon has been able to handle it.
Dr. H stayed very quiet during the ultrasound and it took all my self control to keep my own self the same. Then he stood up and said, “This is my favorite part.”
We went back through P’s original scans and he showed me each view then compared to now.
He is HEALED.
Which means rehab is officially DONE. FINITO. Now comes conditioning!
So for the next 30 days, P has trot sets every other day, first 6 minutes than 7 minutes, with 2 minutes in-between. And on non-trot set days, he is cleared for full flat work: transitions, lateral work, trot poles, etc. And when the mud dries up, he can go on trails and do hill work.
So what comes next after 30 days? JOMPIES!
Starting with a cross-rail on a straight approach and a straight landing, then adding in more jumps (gymnastics), then re-introducing large turns before anything crazy like rollbacks.
He wants a picture of P at his first event back, which I took as my official “You-Don’t-Actually-Need-To-Retire-Him” blessing.
When I came back to riding as an adult (at age 25), my immediate fear was falling off. My days of youthful invincibility were long behind me and I would find myself holding back on things that, as a kid/teen, wouldn’t have made me think twice, like cantering a fresh horse or raising a jump past itty bitty. As an adult/wife/mom, getting hurt means doctor’s bills, missing work, and making my family’s life quite a bit harder. And death would suck. So I’d let myself “go there,” and envision the consequences of taking a risk. And it limited me for a LONG time.
Enjoy this absolute blast from the past at my expense. This is EIGHT YEARS ago, on the first horse I owned, Jester. I think this was his second time jumping ever, but seriously…WTF am I doing?!
So anyway. Clearly Jester was a saint, right? But if he so much as looked at me sideways, I was all, “Better be safe and not ride.” Because clearly he was out for blood.
Yep, my self-preservation instincts were incredibly high, to say the least. As long as I stuck to only doing safe stuff on safe horses, I’d be totally fine.
Then I broke my ankle JOGGING IN A GYM.
Really, though. My fears have definitely changed over the years, as I got comfortable with riding again. I no longer think about falling off or get freaked that my horse could spook. I don’t look at fences (ok, except tables) and think, “What if we crash and get hurt?”
Oooohhh no. That’d be way too rational of a fear. Instead, I make sure to keep things as mentally disabling as possible and instead have this nagging knot of doom in my stomach that I’ll never be any good.
It took me two years of bopping P over things like this these…
…before I was comfortable with anything else. A lot happened in those 2 years that set us back and while logically I realize those were valuable lessons I learned (albeit, the hard way), I’m a bit resentful that I essentially wasted “so much” time.
I remember the day the still-new-to-me-trainer-who-is-terrifyingly-better-than-I-will-ever-be set the below exercise and I almost fainted at the height:
And once I realized that this guy wasn’t going to spend lessons making fun of me or insinuating that the horse was so much better than I was, I starting filling that role on my own and continuously put myself down. I’d do it to take the sting out of messing something up, but I’m starting to see that while yes, it’s ok to make fun of yourself, moderation is key. I have the tendency to take things way too seriously, so I swung the exact opposite way, which, turns out, is just as unhelpful.
Because (takes deep breath)… while riding is and always will be just a hobby for me, I do want to move onwards and upwards. Do bigger and more technical things. So I stopped looking at jumps and telling myself how large they were. Sometimes that meant not looking at the jump altogether (#survivaltactics), but it mostly meant making a conscious effort to be less self-deprecating. When I’d get directed to ride a certain exercise that looked daunting, instead of saying something like, “Ok, watch this me screw this up royally,” I’d swallow any sarcastic response and just say, “Ok.”
And for while, P & I were definitely headed in an upward trajectory.
I got braver about pushing myself out of my comfort zone while riding on my own:
Buckled down in lessons, including switching to working solely with Trainer B to help fill in some foundational/dressage holes we had:
FINALLY started riding more forward:
Dragged P to jumper shows so I could get some additional course time over larger fences:
And I tried to stay in riding shape with BO’s awesome guy, S.
Which worked for a couple months. I even took him to his first ever HT at BN, which alone was a huge mental win for me, considering it had taken me 2 years to get there with my own horse.
But S found himself on stall rest along with P after a series-of-unfortunate events involving a joint injection gone wrong and a confrontation with a copper head.
And I found myself despairing again.
So I’m back in my hole of I’ll-Never-Be-Any-Good, as irrational as it may be, and will probably remain here until I can get back to doing anything besides w/t around an arena for 35 minutes.
So in the meantime, since misery loves company, I’ve GOT to know: