I See The Light…Maybe. Sort Of.

These last couple weeks I’ve really struggled. P’s eye has taken an inordinate amount of time, money (insurance denied it…long story), and energy, and last week was the end of the road for me. I was exhausted, both physically and mentally, and it looked as if I were going to have to decide between removing the eye and putting P down.


Sounds dramatic, I know. But this last year has been hellish. I rehabbed his tendon strain oh-so-carefully every.single.day and right when he was healed, he decided to chop half his hoof off. So I oh-so-carefully went out to bandage and baby his foot every.single.day until *that* healed, then as soon as that was a non-issue, he punctures his eye. Typically eye things take a week or two to heal. But not P’s. Oh no, P’s eye has taken my soul hostage. This eye has cost me thousands of dollars and virtually all of my time, since it has required round-the-clock eye meds to be administered. So when I decided to have the surgery to remove the ulcer mid-May, I did so to give it the best possible shot at healing. And it looked promising until last Monday, the day after we got back from WHES, when suddenly it took a turn for the worse.

Because that’s how life with P is. One second you’re good….
And the next second you’re not

I noticed it Monday morning when I went out before work to shovel eye meds in. His eye just seemed droopier than usual. And when I went back out after work, it was MORE droopier still. We had our weekly vet visit scheduled for the next day, so I just cried all the way home and forced myself not to have the vet out on an emergency call. At the previous vet visit, which was Monday the 10th and 2 weeks post-keratectomy, the vet and surgeon concurred that it should be all healed within a week. So this obvious setback was devastating.

P 5-24
4 days before the keratectomy. It had stayed this size/shape since the diagnosis on May 6th
P 6-4
One week post-keratectomy
P 6-10
The wound was almost completely closed and both my regular vet and the surgeon said it should be done within the week. P said, “Hold my beer.”

The next morning I was driving to the barn to do meds before work and I got a text from my BO, saying she had woken up to P running the fence line, so she brought him in to hose him off and took off his bug mask, only to find his eye completely closed. I called the vet to see if she could come out earlier, who said yes and that considering the length of time this has taken, it might be time to consider either taking him to NC State or having the eye removed.

One potential scenario for P

While it might be a no-brainer for some to just have the eye removed, I was also factoring in the fact that, hello, it’s P, and with his recent track record there would obvi be some rare complication that would send me even more into financial and emotional oblivion, should that be the path that I chose. I don’t consider pets disposable. I do consider horses as pets. But I also have a family, and as such, financial obligations like food and shelter for them, and I was lost when it came to gauging how much more of our resources I should continue to throw at this horse. This may be unpopular, it sure as hell wasn’t fun to think about, but it’s honest.

One of these has drained our emergency savings account. The others are the humans.

So I talked to Trainer B, who has infinitely more experience with all sorts of crazy horse things than I do, who said to see what the vet found when she got there and not to make a single decision that day. That eased the pressure I was feeling quite significantly, so I calmed the F down (somewhat) and got to the barn.

Me to myself. Kudos to Husband, Trainer B, BO, and the vet for dealing with me that day

The vet arrived shortly after, stained his eye, and found a piece of necrotic corneal tissue hanging from the eye. Why or how that happened is anyone’s guess, as both the she and the surgeon hadn’t seen that happen before (because only P would manage to come up with something no one’s seen before). She removed the piece of tissue, re-stained the eye, and the stain took to only the faintest, tiniest spot.

P 6-18 I
Dead tissue hanging off causing irritation
P 6-18 II
Only the faintest of stain could be detected in the middle of the scar

She sent the pictures she had taken to the surgeon, and he was very happy with how it looked (post-dead tissue removal) versus a week ago, and wanted to continue the meds as usual and re-check in 3 days.

How I feel when I hear the term “recheck” at this point

I had already promised myself that no decision would be made that day, but I also knew that at some point, I had to draw the line. This thing has been stretched out way past the initial 1-2 week prognosis and was reaching into 2 months, with some weeks having 2x/week vet visits + a surgery. Enough was enough.

Way back when we used to do things besides see vets nonstop

So my resolve was to give it to Friday, when the vet would come back out. If it wasn’t healed over, there would be no more “Let’s give it another week,” talk. This was it. I just had to figure out how to decide after that. Remove the eye? We’re talking a surgery + recovery + possible complications (remember…it’s P) + the whole uncertainty of whether P would be able to adapt. I’ve only ever known two horses who have had their eyes removed: one was insane and had to be put down for dangerous behavior and the other never skipped a beat. Obviously there’s a middle ground, but I had no way of knowing which camp P would lean towards, and wasn’t sure I wanted to even chance it. So I did another likely unpopular thing and assigned it a dollar amount. If on Friday it came down to making the decision and the surgery were over a set amount, that would be it and P would be put down.

Stupid bug face making me make impossible decisions

So Friday came and I got to the barn before the vet. I pulled off his bug mask and the eye was open, then shut, then halfway open, then shut, then wide open, then shut. So I cried some more, put the bug mask back on, and gave him a bath and pulled his mane to kill time.

The vet finally got there (she was on time, life was just dragging at that point), asked me how he’s doing, and I think I choked out something like, “I don’t know, looks the same as before to me,” so she stained it, shined the light in his eye (which I resolutely didn’t watch), then turned and said, “I think you’re done.”

giphyI was firmly deep in the rabbit hole of despair at that point, so I figured she meant I had to make my decision about surgery vs. euthanize. Which of course set off the water works again, but she grabbed my shoulder and said, “No, it’s good. You did it. There’s no sign of the wound anywhere. No stain uptake at all,” then she showed me his eye and sure enough….no sign of green anywhere.

P 6-22

So that sets off ANOTHER round of tears (and I’m not even a crier, good grief), but I managed to ask her why his eye would still be closed the way it is, and she said (duh) the Atropine that he’s been getting daily to dilate his pupils (duh..I’VE been the one giving it to him) makes the eye incredibly sensitive to light. Which…I know what Atropine does, and I know what it’s like to have your pupils dilated, but in my crumbling sanity, didn’t put those things together.

And idiotic me had been riding him sans bug mask, then wondering why after 20 minutes or so, he’d start to act up. SMH.

She said to take him off the Banamine + Atropine completely, and drop the antifungal ointment and antibiotic drops to 2x/day, because we’re both terrified of just completely stopping everything. We’ll continue those for the next 2 weeks, which is how long it takes for the Atropine to wear off.

I sent the pictures to the surgeon, along with her instructions, just to get his take on it and he said that the eye does indeed look healed and that I could opt to drop all the meds, but that of course it wouldn’t hurt to continue them.

Naturally P being P decided that the bug mask was no longer acceptable and rubbed his face raw right where the strap is (after being in this thing for 2 months without issue), so I had to switch him to a regular fly mask and put duct tape over the eye. I feel like the “x” I made with the duct tape is fitting (and yes, I did that on purpose). While he hates the nose of the fly mask (see video below), too bad, so sad.

If you made it through this novel, congrats and you’re a champ. I haven’t really talked about this with anyone besides Husband, BO, and Trainer B, and really needed to spill my guts. The last couple months haven’t been fun, but the last couple weeks have driven me to drink.

I’ve been a solid “realist” lately

While I’m not exactly celebrating yet, I’m no longer in the depths of despair. As much as he frustrates me, I really can’t imagine not having the P-Bug.


Not really sure there’s another horse out there like him. Whether that’s good or bad is a different opinion!





Leo Survives…a Lesson

I need to hire a full-time videographer, as I’m despairing that I have no media from the lesson on Saturday since Husband was selfishly watching our children.


The day before the lesson I decided to start working with Leo on self-loading into the trailer. When I picked him up from the seller, she led him into my trailer and he politely, but firmly said no the first few times. But self-loading is a big deal to me, as I go most places alone. So I cleared my afternoon to work on it.

Aaaaannnnddd…this was his 2nd time being asked to load (first time without a helper to reinforce the forward button from behind):

And that lesson stuck with him the next day and he went right on, and off we headed to Trainer B’s! That is, until 15 minutes into the drive when one of my trailer tires went completely flat. Luckily I was right next to a tire shop when it happened and about 20 minutes later, we were back on the road.


I still got there early enough to tack up and walk him around the arena so he could take in all the insanity that’s in there. Flags/umbrellas/liverpools/banners/random fillers/the odd chicken abound and can be a lot for any horse their first time. He was definitely a bit anxious, but kept his cool for the most part.

First priority was dragging him to the rolltop- if you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you know why

Trainer B met me on one of his horses so he could show me some stuff from the saddle, and I hopped right on while L stood stock still and off we headed to do the baby OTTB thing. He was excellent, save for 2 times- once when a horse in the pasture next to the arena took off and L assumed we needed to do the same, and the other when we trotted over a pole and he whacked his hind foot and COULDN’T EVEN deal. But in both instances he came right back after a brief brain hiatus and by the end we were STEERING.


And most importantly, he got right back on the trailer by himself to head home! He looked a little surprised when we pulled back into our home barn, like he couldn’t believe he wasn’t being left somewhere new.

He’s also started coming to me in the field, like the good ammy horse I’m hellbent on making him become.

The next day I dragged Husband with me so I could practice our homework and actually get a video of me on him for the first time, as up until then I had no clue what I looked like on him. And he was just as steady and willing as before. I really think he’s going to be quite fun.

I absolutely LOVE that he stands still at the mounting block. So much so that I got off and made Husband video me getting back on.

And I LOVE his trot. While he has green moments for sure, he feels quite balanced and seriously powerful.


While Trainer B is off competing for the week, our homework is to work on steering and walk/trot/halt transitions, both in the arena and while hacking around the farm. And then hopefully next week I’ll find the time (bahahahahaha) to squeeze in a lesson before L heads to Carolina Horse Park to learn what a horse show is!


And Back in the Stall We Go…

I almost have no words for this post. Yesterday P had a farrier appt to get the egg bar shoes off his hinds and get back into regular shoes, and when I brought him inside, he seemed a touch antsy. I thought about asking the farrier if he could get someone else done first and I’d take P down to the arena and walk or lunge him, but then thought, “Nah, he’ll be fine.”


At the same time I was pushing those thoughts down, BO was thinking maybe she should’ve sedated him. But like me thought, “Nah, he’ll be fine.”

And simultaneously the farrier was thinking of asking one of us to hold P because he seemed a little off, but also went with the thought of the day: “Nah, he’ll be fine.”

Well, he wasn’t fine.

He had his right front up on the farrier stand and the farrier was filing down his foot with the rasp. Ya know, typical farrier-y stuff. I was around the corner when BO and I heard a crash, but from the farrier said, he either lost his balance or spooked (or both) and then he panicked. And panicked some more. I’ve owned him for just about 5 years and I’ve legit never seen him like that.

When I finally got close to him and put the lead around his neck (his head had raw marks from the halter), BO suddenly asked, “Where’s the blood coming from?” I looked down and I’m not even exaggerating when I say there was a river of blood heading for the drain in the wash stall. I looked at his legs, all seemed fine, until I glanced at his foot.

This is no longer attached to him

What we think happened was the initial loss of balance/spook caused the injury and the pain from that is what caused the rest of the insanity that ensued. The chunk was recovered in a nearby stall, which meant the sucker FLEW.

BO and the farrier started wrapping like crazy, and by the time the vet arrived an hour later, had so many layers (because blood kept soaking through), he had a 6″ platform going.


The vet looked in the hole (barf) and said nothing was in there and it didn’t look like any bone was affected but she didn’t have her x-ray machine (she was coming to the barn to do acupuncture and no other vets were available) so of course isn’t 100% sure.

So P is back in his stall, on SMZs and bute, with a heavy duty bandaging job, for a week until the vet and farrier come back out next Monday to x-ray and see if he can be fitted with some sort of shoe to support the foot while the hole grows back.

And looking at another 3 months off.

To say I’m angry at the world might be a little bit of an understatement. I spent the last 6 months meticulously rehabbing this horse and exactly 4 days before he can take his first little jump since July, he pulls this. Is he a horse and these things happen? Yes. Logically I know this, but I’m still so frustrated I could cry (and cry I have…literally all day yesterday).

Me all day

Luckily I have some amazing friends. One offered to let me free lease the horse I spent last weekend riding.

He’s pretty awesome

And one is boarding a horse at her private farm for her student who’s off at college and the mare needs a job.


And of course BO, who along with the farrier, deserve all the gold stars in the world for their quick work getting P wrapped and the vet on the road. BO said she would make room for an additional horse if I wanted to bring one in (she’s technically full), and I can’t thank her enough.


So I did some preliminary budgeting and talking with Husband (who also deserves an award for rushing to the barn from work to let me rant and cry while we waited for the vet) and think I can swing it.


In the meantime, I can be found slaving away at work so I can continue to afford to be able to keep my horse in a stall for yet another undetermined amount of time.



I may or not be blind.

So this AM, I’m ridding Big Dustina of a few weeks worth of accumulated trash

Shoutout to my trusty gal

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)

Note the phrase “after 2 weeks of canter.”

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!


The Meltdown

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.

when-you-go-on-webmd-to-self-diagnose-yourself-and-11682451But 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.
170630-smartphone-growing-eyes-featureWhen 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.

Trying to tear us apart, obviously

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.

And that is the story of my meltdown.




Discussion Board: What Does You Horse Suck At? The

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:

  • Sometimes he stops at jumps.

The end.

So…what’s your horse’s “thing?” What are they not perfect at?



On a Track…Maybe the Right One?

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 pleaded begged bribed stalked 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.

P after his hocks were flexed

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.

Yeah, I feel like this dog right now.


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.

“Uhhh, guys? You forgot one. Right here. I’ll wait.”

Then I can clamber back on on Friday.

“I see you, Human.”

And take it easy through the weekend. He’s been ridden 3 times since August 2nd, I believe.

“My friends are waiting. Y’all suck.”

And he can jump next week. I’m thinking I may let Trainer B do the honors.

He may be ever-so-slightly better than me. I know, it’s a super close call.

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.

And maaaaannnnn, I hope it is!


Windridge XC Schooling

Sequence of events XC schooling with P: Great, fantastic, bad, super bad, super-awful bad, good, great, fantastic, phenomenal.


On Sunday Trainer B took the team XC schooling at Windridge. I’ve been there a few times before and always had a good time. Windridge was the first HT we won:

October 2017

It was the site of our first hunter pace, and even though P was ridiculous about stream crossings, I still had fun with Sara.


It was also the first place we schooled some real BN fences. Bette can attest that I thought this BN cabin was way too big and wide to jump. My, how times have changed.

PC: Bette

I got there just as Trainer B was getting the Starter/BN group going, so left P standing on the trailer to go watch. And, though I had been determined not to look beforehand, I caught glimpses of a few Novice jumps from the back of the golf cart.


The few that I saw looked enormous. Jumps 1, 2, 3, and 5 were just, well, intimidating.

Our Novice group was small: just myself, Trainer B on his OTTB, and another client. We started at jump 1, and P took one look at the jump and….

I know. I was as surprised as anyone else.

Then we went to jump 2. Windridge’s #2’s have never been kind to us. He had repeated stops at the starter one last year while schooling, and when we were there for BN earlier this year he peeked hard at it. The Novice one was next to the Starter one, so looked even more enormous. We started with the BN one and then circled back for the Novice.

Snapshot 2 (7-9-2018 10-30 AM).png
Practically no difference between starter (blue) and BN (green), then HELLO NOVICE

He definitely didn’t give any indication he noticed the height difference.

So that was encouraging, and I was confident that it was going to be a good day. Trainer B remarked after jump 2 that P was ready for Prelim.



Everyone started with BN #3 and P sailed over it. It wasn’t so long ago that jump would’ve given me great pause, but I didn’t think anything of it (🙌).

Now, the Novice jump 3 was spooky, ok, fine. He wasn’t the only horse to stop at it, so it wasn’t exactly surprising.


A strong reprimand with the whip and spurs, and he popped over with no further issue. We ended up jumping that jump successfully at least 8 times, so fingers crossed next time he remembers there are no goblins hiding in it.


Then Super Awful Terrible P came out. We were supposed to jump 3, then head down to 4, which was a red rolltop. Yes, it’s Novice size, but it’s plain and boring. So we jump 3, and halfway across the field I feel P get wiggly, so I put my leg on and then right before the jump he does this incredible spin and TAKES.OFF.


I had one stirrup and honestly have zero idea how I stayed on galloping down the hill and back up. I thought for sure my DNA would be scattered among the Windridge fields forever. He’s spooked many a time in our life together, but he’s never just kept going like that.

So Trainer B comes up, gives me a little pep talk, and I head back to 3 again to re-attempt the line. This time P gets closer to 4, then spins even MORE violently and my right stirrup goes flying completely off my saddle. I had the time to think, “I’ve got to get off my horse to get the stirrup anyway,” and “I really don’t want to sit through another bolt,” and while it wasn’t exactly a dismount, it wasn’t a fall, either. It was more like a… surrender, if you will. I landed in a squat, still holding the reins, and was tempted for a split second to just let them go and hope P disappeared over the horizon, preferably forever.


Then Trainer B had mercy on me and asked if I wanted him to get on. YES, PLEASE.

Snapshot 1 (7-9-2018 10-48 AM).png
You’ve brought this upon yourself, P
Now, this is what I just don’t understand about P. He jumps a jump or a course and what happens? He gets praised, patted, and we move on. If he acts like an idiot, he gets the crop and/or spur, and in some cases, has Trainer B climb on. Trainer B has zero fear and P can fight all he wants, but he WILL end up doing what he’s asked. The score right now is somewhere along the lines of Trainer B: 1,000,000,000 vs P: 0.

You’d think by now he’d know that.

Clueless P
Then I got back on and was seriously considering asking Trainer B if we could just do a few BN jumps and call it a day. Before I could say anything, he said to start with 3 again, get over 4 anyway I could, and then head up to 5.


I walked back to 3 thinking, “We haven’t even gotten over 4, and 5 is absolutely humongous.” Honestly I felt a little defeated. He’d just cruised around CHP’s Novice (which is not a soft course by any means) and a little red rolltop is causing this many issues?

But off I went.

So that was a big win for me.

We did that a few times, then headed to a 2 stride. Oh, goody. My favorite.

But all the 2 stride practice at home and at Trainer B’s has paid off.

Then we wandered over to the water, which P is always fine with. So we put together another mini course: rolltop to the water, down the hill and a left turn to a u-shaped ramp, immediate right up the bank, right turn down the hill, then up the hill to a log. I had no idea what the log looked like, but Trainer B said it was at the top of the hill and to look for white numbers.

So my first glimpse of it was as we were galloping up to it.

Snapshot 2 (7-8-2018 10-10 PM).png
Some 4 letter words may have crossed my mind when I saw it.
Bets on if he jumped it?

Helmet cam view:


He always looks super badass in the water


Heart eyes for the knees
Made it!

We went and practiced the up/down bank a few times, with no issues. Then the Novice group was done for the day.

So P & I thought. Muahaha.

On the walk back to the trailers, I think Trainer B could sense my disappointment. Even though most of it was great, I was still stuck on how terribly awful he had been for no reason. So he asked if I wanted to stay on and do some more for the next session, which was him on his own horse he’s moving up to Prelim and one of their working students who is going Training. P seemed just fine, so I said yes.

We got a 40 minute break or so, while the horses who’d just finished got taken care of and the 2 going out got tacked up. Then the 3 of us headed (back) to the start box, and I expected some serious fussiness from P since I figured he’d assumed he was done.

But he was great, and we ended up doing 1, 2, and 3. Then found some new Novice jumps we hadn’t jumped before, and strung together a longer course of 4, 5, 6 (a log coop), 7 AB, 8 (a bench), 9, and the water.

Let me tell you about this bench.

From the MyCoursewalk app

I’ve seen this bench a bunch of times the various times I’ve been to Windridge. It’s usually a jump close to the water, but when we got there on Sunday, it was nowhere to be found. And I was relieved. See, that jump is one of the reasons I thought Novice would always be out of reach for us. It doesn’t look like much in the picture (they never do), but whenever talk about Novice would come up, that jump (and 2 others) would pop into my head and I’d involuntarily shudder.

So here I am, thinking it’s no longer part of the course, since we hadn’t seen it earlier. So when Trainer B said to continue straight after the 2 stride and look for 8, imagine my face when we were galloping straight at 8 and I realized it was THE BENCH.

So so so so sadly, Cambox died and I have zero footage of it. Right now that’s my biggest regret in life (#firstworldproblems). But the entire mini-course was perfect, including the bench- you’ll have to take my word for it.

Then we moved to a whole different field that we hadn’t previously gone to and there was a jump there that was Novice/Training.

Except this one had 2 hay bales stuffed in the middle. Yay, fillers. P LOVES those.

And so I got a good gallop going, and he didn’t even look at the fence.

At that point, I was content to stop. But as we wandered further, Trainer B happened upon a half coffin then 3 strides to the closest thing to a trakehner P has ever seen. And he was all, “Go back there and ride like hell at it.”

And I was all, e4f8be986c8067cea1ecdddcf742bb37

I look stunned that we made it (I was), and P says looking where you’re going is for sissies. So much tail sass happening.         PC: Danica M.

We did it a few more times until I stopped grabbing his face after the ditch and Trainer B declared it perfect.