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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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?

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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?!

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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.”

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Uhh, earth to Trainer B. Have you ever met us before? We suck.

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But then he said, “Everyone has issues. This is yours.”

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And then BO brought up that a new horse may not be the answer as well. When you get a new horse, you never really know what you’re getting. Sure, an ad can say, “No vices” and the pictures/videos will undoubtedly show the horse at its best, but there’s no way to know exactly what you’re getting.

I’ve owned P for 4 years. And he’s pretty perfect. Let me tell you the ways:

  • He self-loads on the trailer.
  • He behaves the exact same off-property and at shows as he does at home.
  • He greets you at the gate.
  • He doesn’t buck. He tried once, about 3 years ago at our 2nd ever dressage show in warmup and has never attempted it since. I didn’t even realize what he was doing until I saw video after.
  • Did you sprint up behind him, not realizing he’s a flight animal? Don’t worry, P won’t mind. I constantly have to tell the kids that not all horses are like P and to pretend like he’s spooky.
  • He’s never reared. Has never even felt like he was going to.
  • If he seems a little quick while leading him up to the barn, hand the lead to the nearest 4 year old. P’s nose will hit the dirt and his legs will slow to about 0.01 mph.
  • Hs spook consists of a jump sideways, then he keeps going.
  • He doesn’t call for other horses.
  • Will cross-tie or tie to a trailer all day, no matter what’s going on around him.
  • You can clip him anywhere with no twitch and no sedation. He’ll put his head down so you can reach his ears more easily.
  • Even though he loves his turnout, he can be stalled anytime, anywhere. At a show and horses on both sides leave? No problem.
  • He loves his water. No worrying about him getting dehydrated.
  • He’s a dream in the warmup ring. Get cut off? Have a horse get too close? No problem for P, he lets it all roll right off his back.
  • If you fall off, he stands there and looks at you.
  • You will win lots of contests and get free stuff because he’ll go along with whatever scheme you have in mind.
  • He’ll eat anything and it’s quite entertaining. Want to see a carnivorous herbivore? Come visit P and bring McDonald’s chicken nuggets.
  • He has a fabulous walk and trot. His canter has gotten progressively worse, but that is most likely due to the, ya know, hock arthritis. Doh.
  • No tack? No problem.
  • Vets and farriers love him because he just stands there and gives no trouble.
  • You can pretty much do anything you want to around or even on him.

Of course, no horse is perfect. Here’s how he’s not perfect:

  • He stops at jumps.

The end.

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

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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Yeah, I feel like this dog right now.

Ugh.

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.

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

Then I can clamber back on on Friday.

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“I see you, Human.”

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

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“My friends are waiting. Y’all suck.”

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

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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!

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Windridge XC Schooling

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

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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JINX.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Some 4 letter words may have crossed my mind when I saw it.
Bets on if he jumped it?

Helmet cam view:

Success!

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He always looks super badass in the water

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Heart eyes for the knees
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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

Boom!

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You So Fancy

Remember when I took P for VA for his Novice debut with Trainer B and thought they were joking about having P braided? Well, that’s NOT going to happen again.

I used to braid aaalllll the time as a kid, and always used yarn. After trying it out last week and realizing it’s NOT like riding a bike, I searched for new techniques.

Some of you mentioned the Quick Knot stuff, which I’d seen (and quickly disregarded because I, ya know, don’t didn’t braid) floating around on FB, so I did a search for that and stumbled across a video with the same premise, but with bobby pins. It was a mesmerizing video (maybe it was the music), but would it work?

After ordering the needed supplies from Amazon, and 30 minutes rather than 10…

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OMG IT DOES

It was shocking, really.

I had my doubts when I sectioned his mane off and it was a bit, uhh, wild:

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Some of the sections, like the first section in the above picture, were too thin, so those were hard to roll up and not have any pieces sticking out. More hair is better for this type of braid. But I was thrilled with how it turned out.

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And it was also easier to see the backs of the bobby pins with the thin braids. So note to self, thicker is better for these.

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We headed outside so I could trot him around and make sure they didn’t shake out.

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They didn’t.

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When I looked at the Quick Knot stuff, they were selling them for 100 for $39.95. Not a bad deal if they’re re-usable. But in their FAQs section it says that they lose strength when used, so I probably wouldn’t re-use them, lest they break at an inopportune time. The bobby pins are not reusable, but I got 200 for $6.99 on Amazon and used 10 (will probably use 8 or 9 next time), so even better.

Ready for the next braiding excursion!

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Repetition

Friday I headed to Trainer B’s with some mishaps from the week on my mind. So when he asked the usual question about how P was this week, I was all, “How do I choose which of my horrible habits to present?”

Here, Trainer B. Here’s all of them.

  1. It’s super hard for me to sit the canter to the right. It’s P’s stiffer way and he’s really bad about putting ALL of his weight on his front right. So much weight you can practically see his left hind peddling in the air.
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How turning right feels on P

2. I can’t stop micromanaging P to fences. If we’re 3-4 strides away and I see that we’re not going to meet the fence perfectly, I pick at him. I think back all the time to the Clayton Fredericks clinic I audited this past January, where he said if the distance is wrong you have two options: push or wait. Never pull, because if you pull going into the fence and it doesn’t go well, the horse blames you for it. Nevertheless, I’m fiddling with his face nonstop.

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3. I sit too long before fences, get left behind, and in an attempt to “catch-up,” I pinch with my knee, which swings my lower leg back and tips me forward. This is the opposite problem that I used to have- where I’d lean at every fence, but P stopping really taught me to not to trust that we’re leaving the ground until we’re in the air.

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Me fixing one problem by creating another 

So we started with the canter. And the fix is, uhh, awkward. I have to sit back and waaaay to the left. Like, ridiculously to the left, while keeping my right leg on for bend, left leg behind the girth, and open left rein as if I’m leg-yielding. OMG so awkward. We worked on that for a bit, and I get to do that every time I canter. Fun.

Next he addressed both jumping issues with one exercise. He put a ground pole down 42 ft away from a jump that P has jumped many, many times before, to make it 3 strides from the pole to the jump. Then he had me get in half seat and practice getting P’s hip angle further underneath him and his shoulders elevated, and then keeping that around the corner until we reached the pole. When we went over the pole, I had to give a little tap with my legs and soften, to sorta “slingshot” P forward over the jump.

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Once we had done that a couple times and it was clear P was going to jump, we worked on me. I did all of the above, and then thought of keeping my knees soft, shoving my feet forward and keeping my chest and head up.

But it was great, and it’s an exercise that’s easy to set up at home.

So we only have to do this a million more times, give or take a few.

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Saturday I headed to a local jumper show to put all this into practice. My plan going in had been to use the 2’6″ as a warm-up (yes, really), then go into 2’9″, 3’0″, and, if those went well, 3’3″.

The website said the show started at 1, and 2’6″ was class #9, so we pulled in at 12:45…and they were already on class 3 after starting at 12:30.

I had this moment of panic when I realized they were about to start 2’3″ and thought maybe I should go in to let P see the jumps. But I didn’t, and stayed with my plan to use 2’6″ as our warm-up.

And…it was fine.

He felt like he hesitated when I got him straight to 7 and he saw both jumps, but when I saw the video I think he just chipped in vs thought about stopping. And he’s clearly unimpressed by 2’6″. So unlike last year when we couldn’t make it around a 2’6″ course for anything.

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So boring. Zero effort required. 

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So we had awhile to go, since there were a bunch of other riders, and I hopped off P to let him graze while I talked to BO, who had come along to help and take videos (hooray for great friends who understand the importance of media). Then one of the volunteers came over to where we were standing and handed me a blue ribbon. I asked if they were done with 2’6″ and he said yeah, so I headed to the counter to add 2’9″. The lady looked a little crestfallen and said there were no entries, so they were going to conclude the show. I said, “Ok, so I can’t go in then?” and she said, “Well, can you help us raise the fences since you’re the only entry?” Uhhh, sure.

So I did, then hopped on P, trotted him in a circle and we headed in.

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He felt awesome, and I so badly wanted to see if we could raise them to 3′, but when I headed out the gate, the volunteer handed me my blue ribbon (since I was the only one) and walked in the opposite direction. So I rode to the counter and before I could even say anything, the woman told me she had filled my check out for $40 (I had left an open check so I could add classes), and asked me if she could get my number from me. Okkkkk then, guess we’re done.

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It was still fun, though. To put it like Michael Jung, P “gave me a great feeling,” and I couldn’t have asked for more.

Even better, I feel like I really used all that we worked on the day before in the rounds, and even when things didn’t go perfectly, I was able to let P sort it out rather than start meddling. Sort of a crucial quality in an event horse, no?

Though I made the mistake of posting the pictures/videos on FB and quickly earned myself a comment from Trainer B, noting that Novice was 2’11”. Hey- I wanted to go in the higher classes!

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My lil champion earned lots of admiring comments from spectators and other competitors
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VHT- Lessons Learned

After that whirlwind of a weekend, I’ve finally had some time to process. I was really grateful for the day off on Monday- horse show hangovers are definitely a real thing.

So here are some things I learned:

-I never want to to be a professional rider (not like there was a chance, but still).

It was impressive that one person can ride 4 horses 8 times in 3 different phases (2 Novice dressage, 2 Novice XC, 2 Training dressage, 2 Training SJ) in one day and not have to be peeled off the floor afterwards.

-Playing owner is not for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful that Trainer B rode P this weekend. Best decision ever, really. But handing my horse over to someone else made me realize how much I love competing. Not to mention I didn’t sit on my horse for 6 days, and I missed him.

-Even when things get busy, I really need to MAKE the time to get P out of his stall more often. 

I failed miserably at time management. We were busy from 7 AM-7 PM both days and I was so tired (even though I didn’t ride…) that after dinner I just went straight back to my trailer and passed out. But P was definitely itching to get out more, and I need to find the time to make that happen to keep him as happy as possible. Thank goodness for GastroGard.

-I need to (re)learn how to braid.

As a kid, I braided all the time. Not so much as an adult. In fact, I don’t think P has ever been braided. I didn’t realize this was a thing people did at the lower levels, but I only saw one horse that wasn’t braided for dressage (my kindred spirit, apparently), so ya, it’s a thing. And a thing I need to figure out how to do again. So if anyone can point me towards supplies that I need and perhaps a good tutorial video or two, I’d be much obliged.

-Showing with a team is 100000x better than showing alone. 

Still a concept very new to me. So much help was given: they all trooped out to XC and stood in the humid, muggy air to take videos/pictures, hung around to video P’s SJ round (he was the last ride of the day), helped with grooming, polishing hooves, grabbing last second forgotten items, braiding (another shoutout to E for that one!), and were just plain ol’ fun to be around. I’m such a shy person (introvert to the core) and quite socially awkward since I use up all my “coolness” for my job and have nothing left to give when not at work, but I really enjoy hanging out with them. Definitely better than getting Taco Bell and eating it alone in my horse trailer while reading a book. Except now I want Taco Bell. Oops.

-While I may never be the rider that Trainer B is, I do need to learn the ride he gives P.

Because, uhh, did we all just see my horse tearing up XC? I’ve probably watched that video no less than 500 times.

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Favorite picture of him- look at those ears!

-Novice actually doesn’t look so bad. 

Yeah, that’s really  me saying it. Besides a couple of the jumps (like the table above), after walking the course I was wishing something fierce that I could ride. The course just looked like FUN.

-P can do Training.

When Trainer B said that to me, I really didn’t know what to with that information. Training isn’t something I saw anywhere in our future (if we’re being honest, I was thinking even BN was a lost cause…), but knowing that the next step up is well within his capabilities definitely makes me more confident that we can be successful at the level that we’re at now.

-But I need more XC schooling. 

At this point, since coming back to riding as an adult, P now has more XC experience than I do. Sure, only four minutes and thirty-seven seconds more, but it still counts. So if I want the same results with P, I’ve got to make that a priority.

-My horse is something special. 

Going to full-on, unashamedly brag here. The Novice Horse division was filled with quite a few amazing riders, including pros like Lainey Ashker, and a lot of SUPER nice horses. P on the other hand, has had 99% of his riding (and therefore training) done by me, a weenie adult ammy. Don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying had I been riding we would’ve gotten the same result (we also would’ve been in the Rider division), but clearly P isn’t as screwed up as I’ve sometimes let myself believe.

And I also have to mention the fact that P has never been to a show quite like VHT- the atmosphere was huge with so many things going on, he’s never been in an indoor like he was for SJ, and he totally stepped up. I was so impressed with him all weekend.

Mainly, I’m just still thrilled with my pony and soooo happy I’m getting to ride him again!

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Blech.

Last week sucked in a major way. We made the decision to put our 9 year old German Shepherd, Kaiser, down. He stopped eating a few weeks ago, was having a hard time getting around, and couldn’t control his bowels/bladder any longer. The vet couldn’t find anything clear-cut that was wrong with him, but suspected a stomach tumor. Due to his age and obvious pain, it was clear what he wanted, so we decided to have a vet come out and do it at our house, since he’s always been really anxious at the vet’s office. The last 10 minutes before she arrived, and when she pulled in the driveway I seriously considered throwing the check at her and telling her to leave. But we followed through and I’m glad he’s no longer in pain. Thanks for the 9 years, bud.

 

So that was terrible. Friday my non-profit was having our annual fundraiser, so I was running around from 8 AM-10 PM, having to smile, act happy, and do the small talk thing. Which as I’m sure you all know, is exhausting. So even though I always enjoy lessons at Trainer B’s, when I pulled in on Saturday, I really wasn’t in the mood. P hadn’t been ridden in 2 days, my hair was a mess from the humidity (I don’t know why I cared but I did), and I just wanted to be asleep. But we’re on a time crunch now that P is entered in Virginia. Trainer B is gone until this Sunday at Jersey Fresh, so when he gets back that means we have 10 days until we leave for VA. Yikes.

We decided to work out in the XC field this time, since there were finally some jumps back out there. P was not a fan of this tiny thing…he was freaked out over the black boxes, yet the thick side of the jump was also scary. So despite my wide open left rein, and my ever-squeezing right leg, we only succeeded in jumping half of the jump. #PilgrimLogic.

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Then we moved on to a jump that gave P quite the pause last year.

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And then Trainer B had us string those 2 jumps together and then continue down across the road, and past the dressage arena…somewhere we’ve never been and P considered this no-man’s land. I wasn’t wearing spurs, and while he didn’t stop at any of the jumps, he was quite sure we weren’t supposed to be crossing the road and was super sticky.

Going back he was much better…until we were supposed to take the train jump the other way around and he stopped. Which I cut out of the video, because I’ve got enough sucky things going on that I really didn’t need a reminder of the refusal. When I was editing the helmet cam videos, I clicked “trim” before getting to that part. I know it sounds dumb, but I don’t need the reminder.

I think Trainer B could tell I just wasn’t into it, and he offered to get on and school, which I gratefully accepted.

I was surprised P refused the one jump that he did- I really thought he was going to go. And that’s the frustrating part. Even Trainer B said it- he’s got the talent and the ability, what’s missing is the obedience. Maybe that will come with time; I mean, he’s certainly better now than he was just a short time ago when I couldn’t get him around a single course without multiple refusals. Plus I know I’m probably reading too much into it all, thanks to my current mental state.

So homework this week was to get P moving off of both legs. Short sessions that end once he responds by moving his shoulders or hindquarters over, based on where my leg is asking.

Monday I went out for session #1 and when I asked P to canter in the warmup, I was met with much sideways bolting and throwing of the head. Which was weird, so I asked again and didn’t release pressure until he went into the canter. I worked trot/canter/trot/canter until the behavior stopped and he was going into the canter without fuss. Since I was more conscious than ever to just to use my legs and seat, I deliberately was keeping the reins on the looser side. And it’s a good thing because when I hopped off…

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Yep, that’s a cut. On the corner of his mouth and a little further up, and the bit must have been irritating him. Since I didn’t see it before tacking up (but I also wasn’t looking for one) I have no idea if it happened because of the bit caused it, or was already there and the bit being in just irritated it. I know I would’ve noticed it if it had happened the day before because I bathed him at Trainer B’s after our lesson. Soooo…..fun. I sprayed it with Vetericyn, smeared some Aquaphor on it, and cried a little on the way home. Don’t judge.

So what to do? Give him off until it heals? HA. Why do that when I can risk my own life but at least still exercise my  horse?

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At least I know I’m using only my legs and seat, right?

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Uncategorized

Blog Hop: 30 Facts About Me

Thanks May As Well Event for more blog content! With mostly flatwork and dressage lessons with zero media happening, it’s been a bit slow on the writing front.

1.My name is actually Kathryn Christine, but I go by KC. My mom and grandma are also named Kathryn, but they go by Katie and Anne, respectively. So my family LIKES the name Kathryn, just not enough to use it.

2. I’ve been obsessed with horses since before I can remember. One of my earliest horsey moments was when I was 3 or 4 and wanted to go on the pony ride at the local fair. I cried the entire time because I wanted to ride the pony off the hot walker, then I cried when it was over because I wanted to keep riding.

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I would go up to random strangers and ask if I could hop on their horse.

3. When I was 3, my dad brought home a flock of baby Canadian geese as pets for us. My mom was NOT amused. My dad taught them how to fly a la Fly Away Home, and even after they grew up and left, 2 (Max & Princess) would always come home every year and stay at the pond next door.

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4. My brother is 13 months younger than me and my sister is 10 years younger than me. Now that we’re older, my sister and I are super close. Though I do have to remind her of things like duck lips are NOT a good look and Tide Pods are for doing laundry only.

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5. Before I was born, my dad traveled all over the world to hunt after he got home from Vietnam. He was also big into taxidermy and built a huge room off our house for all his war and hunting stuff. It was normal for me to be surrounded by guns, animal skins and various weaponry, so I could never understand why people would be shocked when they came over for the first time. I used to sit on Harry (the lion) to practice my riding position.

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6. On a similar note, my dad took me hunting for the first time when I was 8. We sat in a tree stand for a couple hours until we saw some deer and just as my dad started to get his rifle into place I started screaming, “RUN RUN RUN” at the deer. My dad never took me again.

7. I’m the oldest of 47 cousins and over 200 second cousins- my mom is one of 9 siblings and all but 2 are married with 2-10 kids. Despite loving growing up in a huge family, I’m not a kid person and think my 2 are more than enough.

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Some of the cousins at our annual Michigan vacation

8. I’m from Chicago, but when I was little we moved around Texas (Lubboc, San Antonio and Dallas) and then to Manassas, VA for my dad’s work. For the year in VA, I lived in a suite at the Marriott and my brother and I OWNED that place. In 2016 we went back there for my cousin’s wedding and I got to see my old suite 108, which was alot smaller than I remembered…

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Memoriiiieeeesssss

9. I was homeschooled until the 7th grade and it took me a LONG time to catch on that you were supposed to roll up the super long uniform skirts.

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Stylin’

10. I used to go around the neighborhood searching for lost dogs so I could walk them around trying to find their owner. My mom eventually caved and got us our own dog.

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11. Besides horses, I’ve played volleyball and ran cross-country and track. I was most successful at cross-country as a freshman in high school: MVP, went to state, etc. Then my brother joined the next year and blew me out of the water. It wasn’t so much fun after that.

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Casually winning. I loved the final sprint, even if no one was close to me

12. When I was 18, I moved from IL to NC  with my now-ex out to the coast when he joined the Marines.  We split up shortly after moving, and I lived in some pretty sketchy places while going to college and working full-time.

13. I went through a phase where I dated musicians, got a bunch of tattoos (17 of them), pierced my lip and played the guitar. Sadly no pictures exist from that era. My oldest son Justin just got a guitar for Christmas, so I pulled out my old one for the first time in over 10 years to teach him how to play. My fingers definitely don’t move the way they used to.

14. I met Husband on MySpace right before I graduated college. Yes, MYSPACE. We usually tell people we met through friends, which is technically true. A friend messaged him as a joke, then we got to talking and have been together ever since April 2006. We got married a year later in May 2007.

15. I’m the least romantic person in the world whereas my husband is the MOST romantic. One time while Matt was in Iraq, he told me he loved to look at the moon because even though we were far apart, at least we were looking at the same moon. Iraq is 8 hours ahead, so I responded (without thinking) that it was sunny out where I was. So….there’s that. He still hasn’t let me forget about that.

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He does things like have restaurants put rose petals on the table for no reason at all

16. I’ve worked in non-profit since 2009 and was the youngest non-profit executive director in the state. My mom has super genes so I’ve always looked younger than I am and I used to hate it. I had to work super hard to get taken seriously. I heard things like, “Oh, I expected someone older” or “I thought you were the receptionist” all the time.

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Thanks mom

17. I tried for-profit for a very scary year. I worked at a law school and directed a program that helped new attorneys start their own practices. I left after a year because I was tired of the endless meetings with the higher-ups that went nowhere, but I still stay in touch with my “baby lawyers” and they’ve even gotten some traffic tickets tossed out for me.

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Actually yes, yes you can.

18. My favorite thing to do is take failing organizations and make them successful. I’ve turned around 2 non-profits and now my current one is doing great so I’m getting a little restless.

19. Our youngest son, Noah, was born with a congenital heart defect and was transferred right away to a hospital 2 hours away to have open heart surgery. I was told I couldn’t leave until I could walk, so somehow (no idea how, to this day) I got out of bed and walked across the room not being able to feel my legs (epidurals are great until you’re in this predicament). Then I didn’t trust my husband to drive because he’s already an awful driver and now he was tired, so I drove us to the hospital in Raleigh. By that time I could feel my legs, though. They talked about me in the hospital, which was really embarrassing at the time, but now it’s a pretty funny story.

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Chicks dig scars, right?

20. We have 2 dogs, both foster fails, a German Shepherd named Kaiser and a Shepherd/Lab mix named Adele. We’ve had Kaiser for just about 10 years and Adele for 1.5. Kaiser and our oldest son, Justin, grew up together and Kaiser is hands down the best babysitter in the world. Husband doesn’t want to foster anymore. No idea why.

21. We have a cat named Zoey, who was a rescue as well. We got her when she was about 6 years old, back in 2011. On day 1 she ran away and we thought we lost her forever. Then we found her in one of our kitchen cabinets the next day- turns out she’s mute which the rescue hadn’t told us. So she has to wear a bell on her collar so we can hear her if she gets stuck somewhere.

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22. At Husband’s insistence, we bought a pistol a few years ago. I took some shooting courses, but my interest quickly waned. Then a few months ago while Husband was out of town for work, I woke up in the middle of the night to Adele barking like crazy (she never does that) and all of our outdoor sensor lights blazing. So I sat in my bedroom doorway (where I could see if anyone was coming up the stairs) for over an hour with the gun in my hand and Husband on the phone. Now I’m getting my concealed carry because I never want to feel like that again.

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Despite growing up with guns, this was the first time shooting one in 20 years.

23. Husband is the better parent. I have NO IDEA what I’m doing. When I leave overnight or for a weekend, I don’t think twice. If he’s the one leaving, I’m super nervous. Not to mention he’s the cook of the family so if the kids want anything other than cereal if it’s just me, McDonalds it is!

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24. I don’t really watch TV and it’s hard for me to sit still through an entire movie. I watch shows like The Office, Will & Grace, Friends and most short sitcoms like those.

25. I listen to rock/punk like Five Finger Death Punch, Social Distortion, Rancid, Three Days Grace, Linkin Park, etc. I hardly ever listen to the radio so I never know current songs unless I already like the band.

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Took Justin to see FOB in November for his 1st concert- best time ever!

26. I used to want to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast and have a library with a ladder so I could swing down it like she did in the movie. So when we didn’t know what to do with the formal living room in our current house, I made Husband turn it into a library. If I’m home, I can usually be found in there with a book and the fireplace going. Husband still has to get a ladder for the bookcases though.

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They done wrong by not casting me in the remake. Must’ve been because of my blue eyes.

27. When we moved from Jacksonville to Concord, I joined a crossfit gym because I was bored with the same old cardio gym classes, but I didn’t want to do any weightlifting because I thought I would get bulky. Now olympic lifting is my favorite thing ever. All my friends are either horse friends or crossfit friends and both sides think the opposite sport is crazy.

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Left: lots of cardio. Right: lots of crossfit

28. Along with crossfit, I started doing Spartan races in 2015 with members of my crossfit box. Even though I no longer enjoy running the way I did when I was younger, I always have a blast doing these with friends.

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29. I love tailgating and going to football games, but have no clue what’s going on so I just yell random things and hope I blend in.

30. My favorite feeling in the world, even better than crossing the finish flags on XC, is the feeling at military homecomings. I almost wish Matt would deploy again so we could have another one. Almost.

Uncategorized

XC Schooling

 

Yesterday I had a meeting that was supposed to last pretty much all day, but thankfully ended early so I took advantage of the additional time and loaded P up to go XC schooling. After the disaster that was P + water at the hunter pace on Sunday, I needed to make sure that was just a fluke and he still, in fact, does not hate water.

After a couple trot and canter laps around the field to warmup, I aimed him straight for it.

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Then we headed for the bank to make sure that was still in place as well. We haven’t schooled water since June, and banks or real ditches since…well, I can’t exactly remember.

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Yeah, I think we’re good there, too.

So then we went to the ditch. And I remembered to look up.

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So XC basics:

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We went back to the water and practiced jumping out of the water over a little vertical that was already set up. P’s never jumped a jump straight out of the water and he was perfecto.

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And then jumped a few other things that Husband couldn’t keep up with, so here’s helmet cam footage. See how we jump mostly to the right? Yeah, I was more concerned with making sure he’d actually jump the jumps and COMPLETELY forgot to, ya know, center us.

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And then to end, I decided to hop him over a log at the top of the mound. That’s something P’s also never done. I almost lost my nerve when I saw there was little room on the landing side- started imagining him leaping over the log and having no ground under him because I’m a worst-case-scenario type of person. So I took him up and walked him around both sides of the log….then went back down and picked up the canter.

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What a rockstar my horse is.

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As always after XC, P was strutting walking back to the trailer. Sometimes I question whether he wants to event, then I ride him on an XC course and once he gets going and his confidence builds, there’s no doubt he’s enjoying himself.

We’ll dressage it up tonight, then lesson with Trainer B Friday, and straight to Windridge after that!