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:
This was the first dry(ish) weekend that I can remember in a long time, so naturally it was ALL spent at the barn.
Saturday I spent the ride time re-installing the half-halt on P. Thanks to some (expected) weakness, he either trots like a bat out of hell or he stops. It was nice to ride with some purpose for once! It was also the first time he’s been ridden with NO ace in his system and he was a rockstar. Being outside has completely made all the difference.
Then I spent a good hour designing and creating a new jump course for, well, everyone else to enjoy.
The arena at the barn is amazing. Perfect footing no matter how much rain gets dumped on it, and the owners are meticulous about watering and dragging it. Even though I’m dying to ride outside again, I’m incredibly thankful I still get to ride at all, thanks to this place.
Sunday I went out and played jump crew/instructor for BO and got to experience the joy of yelling, “GO FASTER” repeatedly. And then I got to see, from the non-riding perspective, how much of a difference a more forward canter really does make. Gave me more of an appreciation for Trainer B, since the poor guy has probably yelled that at me 2 zillionty times.
Then everyone else was done riding and I was facing a rehab session alone in the arena. The time whips by when I’m riding with others, but draaaaags on when I’m alone. So I brought an old friend with me.
P hasn’t seen T-Rex since June of last year, so I figured this would be the perfect time. No sedation, it was cold and windy, plus BO, her husband, my husband, and her father-in-law were cutting down a huge tree just right up the driveway from the arena. Nothing could possibly go wrong.
So I pulled out the suit and put it on in front of P, to see how he’d react and…
I ended up not getting on him in the end. While P was fine with the suit, S (who was in the pasture across from the arena) was definitely not ok with it- there was much running, bucking, and snorting and I didn’t want to be in a precarious situation, should P choose to be persuaded to follow suit. He probably would’ve been just fine, based on how he was when I took off the suit and hopped on, but still, it was only day 2 of no sedation.
It was phenomenal to see that the old P was still in there- undeterred by blowup suits, disappearing humans, all during the chaos of huge tree branches falling which was causing other horses to take off. I definitely think he can remain unsedated for rehab from now on.
He goes back this Thursday for his 10 week re-check, and we’ll see what’s in store for us after that!
Because I love torturing myself, for the last couple years I’ve broken down my annual expenses. Why? NO CLUE BUT I KEEP DOING IT. So without further ado:
I board at an incredible facility and pay $650/month, but since P has been on stall rest for the last few months, I pay extra to help with the cost of extra bedding and hay.
P gets shod with steel shoes w/clips on all 4 feet every 5 weeks and my farrier is amazing. Since P’s suspensory thing, he’s had to have his hind feet in egg bar shoes but I don’t think that’s permanent.
This really just includes USEA and USRider annual fees.
I actually didn’t spend too much throughout the year, and didn’t have any major purchases like a saddle, but I DID go a little nuts around Black Friday.
For the first half of the year P was on SmartCalm, FatCat and U-Shield. I discontinued the SmartCalm/FatCat a few months ago, but he’s stayed on the U-Shield consistently. I *did* just order MagRestore to see if it will help with his aversion to being groomed.
Shows/Schooling Fees: $2,554
In 2018, P went to 7 shows and I took S to 2, then XC schooling 2x. This also includes stall fees/RV hookups fees, since I didn’t spend one penny on hotels (thanks to my fab trailer).
Lessons/Training Rides/Coaching: $2,775
I pay a lot of money to hear “Go faster” on a loop.
Totally kidding. Trainer B’s coaching/training/riding is worth every penny.
Horse Trailer Reno: $751
Another expense completely worth it. That includes all the supplies Husband needed to transform my dressing room into a fabulous mini-LQ, as well as things like the curtains, mini-fridge and lights.
Ouch. About $1,000 of that was just diagnostics (pre-Tryon Hospital) with 2 different vets, the hock injections, etc. P was diagnosed with the suspensory injury from Tryon Equine Hospital, and they’ve done all his follow up, which has cost $3,162 so far, but thanks to insurance, after my deductible of $375 I just send them all my invoices!
As always, this isn’t strictly a horse expense, since I do use the truck for daily driving. But I *definitely* wouldn’t have this truck if I didn’t have a horse.
Compared to 2017, where I spent $43,945 (truck included), it’s an improvement but still…
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.