I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus recently. Not that I’m on social media regularly as it is, but I at least used to be good about checking out everyone else’s blogs. Life has just been crazy and if I’m being truly honest, I needed a break from seeing everyone else riding their horses (pretty much all that fills up my FB/IG feeds).
For me, riding has been sporadic at best. I ride B (grey OTTB gelding #3) here and there, but P’s rehab takes up most of my allotted barn time. And rehabbing with P is nothing that anyone wants to read about. Usually for the 30 minutes, we just discuss how bored we are. Ok, I ramble on about being bored. P just tries to eat me.
Or tries to eat the lead line. Whatever.
I remain highly impressed with how he’s kept his sanity (today is day 82 of stall rest). So far, BO has had to give him 2mL of Ace ONE time (cold weather had horses running); other than that, he still is as chill as ever in his stall. I give him Ace to go out now that it’s cold and horses are always out when I get there to do his rehab, since P cares deeply if horses are tearing around. Had it been me locked in a room for months on end, I’d have fully lost it by now.
I’m hoping beyond hope that there’s an end in sight, though. P goes back Wednesday for his 7 week re-check and as long as he hasn’t been secretly melting down, he should be cleared to canter. The vet had said if the tendon can hold up to cantering, he can start to go outside again, but I’m not sure if he meant that being cleared to canter will mean he’s also cleared to go outside at the same time, or if he wants him cantering for a period of time before he can be cleared to go out. I’m hoping for #1. I’m sure P would gladly vote for that option as well.
Though the prospect of turning P out gives me a knot in my stomach. Especially with the wet winter we’ve so far been having- everything is muddy. BO joked that she wanted to keep him in until May when the ground wasn’t so soft, but it might not be the worst idea.
Don’t tell P I said that.
On days that I have the time, I still get on him so he knows he’s not exactly retired. I tend to get on for the last 5 minutes or so, but yesterday got on for 10…and then didn’t want to get back off. I’ll admit I may have shed a tear or two as I walked him back up to the barn- I really just want to go do the fun things with my horse again.
While we definitely had our share of rough times, I miss riding him so much. Last November for sure beats this one.
And if/when he’s cleared to jump, it’s going to be awhile before we’re doing anything super fun again.
Less of this:
More of this:
Though I for sure won’t be the first one jumping this horse. I’d probably expire from sheer terror that he’ll fully snap his tendon. So that honor will be going to Trainer B. I’ll likely be rocking in the corner with my eyes screwed shut and my fingers in my ears like a full-on crazy person.
Why horses? Why not a sane sport, like soccer or softball or curling?
I have absolutely no idea. I’ve been obsessed with horses since before I can remember. As a kid, my bikes were horses, sometimes I was a horse, all my toys were Grand Champions and Breyers, all my books were about horses, etc. I would even do weird things like practice my riding position on my dad’s mounted lion (his name was Harry and he was quite tolerant of my posting).
2. What was your riding “career” like as a kid?
I took lessons as a kid while my parents could afford it, then when they couldn’t, I worked at the barn to get riding time/lessons. I would work for hours cleaning tack, mucking stalls, grooming, turning out, etc, all for any scrap of riding time I could get.
3. If you could go back to your past and buy ONE horse, which would it be?
This one horse at the first barn I worked at named Easy. Despite his misleading name, he was a difficult horse that hated people and I got to know him while he was on stall rest from an injury he got when he ran through a fence. I was the only one he’d let come near him, so he became my patient. When he went back to work, I didn’t see him much after that, and he ended up reinjuring himself and was euthanized. I was devastated.
4. What disciplines have you participated in?
5. What disciplines do you want to participate in some day?
I’m good where I’m at. Never a shortage of things to learn in eventing!
6. Have you ever bought a horse at auction or from a rescue?
No, though I’ve always wanted to go to the pony sale at Chincoteague. I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to resist if I do ever get to go.
7. What was your FIRST favorite horse breed – the one you loved most as a kid?
All I wanted was a palomino. I didn’t care about the breed- but I was convinced I needed a palomino to survive.
8. If you could live and ride in any country in the world, where would it be?
9. Do you have any horse-related regrets?
That I stopped riding for a period between high school through college. Financially and time-wise I couldn’t, but I wish I had found some way to stay involved with horses in any way possible.
10. If you could ride with any trainer in the world, ASIDE from your current trainer, who would it be?
Not falling for this. Tried other trainers and was much worse off for it. Sticking with Trainer B.
11. What is one item on your horse-related bucket list?
Foxhunting! I’ve gotten close to being able to go a couple times, but something has always happened to make it fall through.
12. If you were never able to ride again, would you still have horses?
Ya, I’d teach P to drive. He’s halfway there.
13. What is your “biggest fantasy” riding goal?
Right now just to ride and jump my own horse again. The goal was to go Training level, and it even looked like it’d eventually be a possibility a few months ago, but now everything is up in the air.
14. What horse do you feel like has taught you the most?
Cliché, but P. I’ve only owned 3 horses, and the horses I rode as a kid were typically for sale, so never around too long. I’ve owned P for 4 years now, since restarting him off the track, and learn something new all the time. Especially what not to do. Like lean forward. He’s definitely taught me not to do THAT.
15. If you could change one thing about your current horse/riding situation, what would it be?
That he’d be done with rehab and back to normal riding.
16. If you could compete at any horse show/venue in your home country, where would it be?
Kentucky Horse Park. I’ve been there a couple times to spectate at K3D and think it’d be cool to ride in the same arenas/XC course.
17. If you could attend any competition in the world as a spectator, what would be your top choice?
Probably Burghley. The area itself looks like a place I’d love to visit!
18. Have you ever thought about quitting horses?
Yes. I did for a long time and never thought I’d get back to it. I’m so glad I did.
19. If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the horse industry, what would it be?
How dishonest some people are. Of course that’s not specific to the horse industry, but it seems to be quite cutthroat and the result is people/horses get hurt.
20. What’s the dumbest horse-related thing you’ve done that actually turned out pretty well?
Buying P sight unseen. That could’ve easily gone very wrong.
21. As you get older, what are you becoming more and more afraid of?
That I’ll never be any good.
22. What horse-related book impacted you the most?
Centered Riding by Sally Swift. I still re-read it constantly.
23. What personality trait do you value most in a horse and which do you dislike the most?
Sanity is quite important to me. A bad work ethic is a deal-breaker.
24. What do you love most about your discipline?
The comaraderie. There’s always someone to commiserate with.
25. What are you focused on improving the most, at the moment?
I want to stay in as good of riding shape as I can while P is sidelined, so that I stand a fighting chance once he’s cleared. I struggle A LOT with the mental side of jumping- I automatically ride as if the horse is going to stop- so we’re working mostly on that aspect of it, which will hopefully transfer to P once we start back up again.
So uh, if you’re ever in the market to buy a horse and someone offers to show you a gray one…RUN.
S was going to head to a jumper show this coming Saturday, then plans were scrapped for the final CHP schooling show, instead re-routing us to the VA Horse Trials the first weekend in November.
S got his right stifle injected Monday of last week and had a few days off. I got back on last Thursday and Friday and he flatted just fine, but Saturday I popped him over a couple small jumps and then through a grid and he trotted up short after that, so BO called the vet this past Monday.
So there went the jumper show, but at least I could still ride, right?
Ok, so S has had this whole week off, and we’ll try again next week. But that means a no for VA HT….aka, the last show before Trainer B heads to FL for the winter. So that’s our season, folks. Finito.
While S has been out, I figured I’d just busy myself with P. Due to time constraints, I’d been just doing his rehab in-hand vs riding him, so this would be a good time to remind P he was still a riding horse. Until Sunday, literally the day after S trotted a bit lame, when I went out to do his rehab and found his fancy egg bar shoe twisted, with the inside quarter clip embedded in his hoof wall….naturally on his right leg.
20 minutes later, after watching multiple YT videos, soliciting the help of BO’s husband, and scrambling around other boarders’ lockers/trailers for farrier tools, P’s shoe was finally off.
But what to do about rehab was super stressful. The egg bar shoe is there to provide support so the tendons don’t stretch. But he still needs to get out to help the fibers strengthen. And naturally it was Sunday and the vet’s office wasn’t open. Because of course.
I ended up cutting his trot sets a little shorter than usual, but he remained sound, and my savior of a farrier made a special trip out to stick the shoe back on, so P got back to business after only 2 lighter than usual days.
Another stressor has been keeping P amused in his stall. He’s been incredibly sane, but as of today, he’s been stalled for 23 1/2 hours/day for the past 57 days. I was buying him Likits, which are usually a special show treat because he finishes them off so fast (typically 30 minutes or less). He’s shown zero interest in the ball in his stall, and now ignores his salt lick. So BO had a great idea and hung his Likit in the middle of the stall so he couldn’t pin it down and munch on it.
Cost of each Likit: $7
Likit hitting P in the face: Priceless
The Tiniest Dictator has proclaimed P to be his horse, so he got to learn how to pick hooves and tack up. P was perfect, as per usual.
Though he couldn’t quite get the saddle pad just yet.
And he continues to do well in his rehab sessions IF and ONLY IF, he’s fully tacked up. If you take him out and attempt to walk/trot him in his halter, he goes nuts. Like full on bucking bronc. If you take him out in all his gear, he goes like this:
I think someone is missing doing work.
He’s even better if another horse is in the arena working at the same time. Though it was a little sad watching him watch one of the lesson horses jumping last night. He followed along with them throughout the entire course 😦
He’s currently in the 2nd week of walking for 10 minutes, trotting for 2, walking for 5, trotting for 2, walking for 5, trotting for 2, walking for 5 minutes. Next Wednesday he’ll do the final stage of trot rehab, where he trots for THREE minutes three times per session, before going back to the vet mid-November. Riveting stuff, I know.
And with his shoe back on, I FINALLY got to climb back on. Even if I just walk him for a few minutes, it’s seriously feels so homey and right.
So when we left off yesterday, S had just rocked around the BN SJ and BN XC, and we were given the green light from Trainer B to go for all 3 phases in the show.
We had the bad luck of having an 8 AM ride time…super yuck. After a sleepless night (not due to nerves, just lots of bad stuff like neighboring truck alarms that wouldn’t turn off), I hopped on S about 30 minutes before our ride time. He was pretty unfazed about the crowded warmup, but would not/could not relax at the canter. This is something we struggle with at home as well, and I think was exacerbated by some tiredness. He was super stiff going to the left, and even to the right, which is normally decent, was lackluster at best.
Trainer B had me exaggerate flexing him to the inside before asking for the canter, which helped a little, but S just seemed a little over all the flatwork.
I didn’t get a video, but at first he scored a 40.6, which put us in 2nd to last place. Some of it was earned- in the first canter he kicked footing onto the plastic boards and then decided he clearly needed to be closer to the quarterline to avoid such offensive noises for the rest of the test. His free walk was non-existent and BN A unfortunately has the free walk on the long diagonal and comes up really early in the test. Then I spent the 2nd canter circle just trying to keep him from breaking into the trot. The trot work was decent and we nailed our centerlines, though.
Except…the judge and C were NOT on centerline. When I went for the final centerline from K-X-G, I knew I was in the middle, so why was C to my right? When I came out of the arena, Trainer B said I rode centerline dead accurate, but the arena clearly wasn’t set correctly. 2 riders after me, someone said something and they moved C and the judge closer (it was apparently still about 2 feet off but better than before). So when I got my score sheet back and saw she gave us 5.5s for both centerlines with the comment “Not on CL,” Trainer B had me contest that. I did, and the secretary sent the score sheet back to the judge to see if she’d revise it. She did, but only gave us 0.9 points back, which changed my score to a 39.70. Not really fair, but whatever. I scored a 7.5 for Rider Position so that’s what I actually care about.
The other thing that didn’t work in our favor was the division we were put in. Normally recognized HTs have divisions like Open, Rider, and Horse, right? Well, at CHP they just do A, B, C, with no thought to experience. I had the luck to be in a division with 8 professionals (like Bonnie Mosser and Daryl Kinney). So not really too much of a hope for me and greenbean S, but luckily we weren’t there for dressage anyway.
I got back at 1:15 to warmup for SJ, which thankfully was not nearly as crowded or eventful as the day before. He jumped well when I rode well, which is fair, and we worked on adjusting his canter, which is another struggle (but getting better as he gets stronger).
We went in, and I immediately rode over to the final jump, which was CHP’s “trick” for this show. Where for the schooling day you ended with a 2 stride, for the competition the designer took away the B element of the 2 stride and instead put up a vertical with a solid white panel about 6 strides away. There were countless close calls/stops/falls in the Training/Novice division at that fence, so I wanted to show it to S and hope he wouldn’t freak out.
But S didn’t even look at the fence. He was too busy staring at the crowd on the side of the arena, and the decorations they’d put up and seemed a little like his mind was blown. They rang the bell and I said a little prayer.
He was super to jump 1, and I fixed the turn from 1 to 2, but he backed way off of 2 when he saw all the commotion on that side of the arena and then backed off again to 3. When we landed off of 3 I said, “Sorry bud, but you’re going to get me in trouble if I don’t do this,” and gave him a fairly decent whack with the crop. It worked, so worth it 🙂
Besides a sort of crappy approach to 5 (he spooked at the tent on that side), he was super. He definitely looked at the last fence, but I calmly informed him when we landed off of 9 that he wasn’t going to stop and by then he had his listening ears on. So yay! Double clear!
So I hopped off, we changed out his boots, I strapped my vest on and it was time for S to put on his big boy pants and go XC.
He was MUCH calmer walking out to XC this time, but was not sure what to make of the start box. It had some decorations, the volunteer and his table, the garbage can, the signs flapping- very suspicious, that start box was to dear S.
We got counted down and he was a little hesitant on the way to the first jump, but cleared it nicely and we just kept rolling from there. He thought hard about 3, but a little wave of the crop on his right side kept him straight. My own right drift came into play on 5A, but I realized my error and got us straightened out.
Then it was the moment of truth- the water. Trainer B’s advice had been to gallop him at it so that if he broke to the canter or trot, he’d still be going forward. He gave a little stutter and dropped to the trot, but went in which was pretty much a miracle.
Then I made an error. He had lost so much power in the water that in hindsight, I should’ve circled in the water (which would’ve been allowed) to get him in front of my leg. Instead, I just continued on the route and by the time we got to the bench, he was so far behind my leg (and his stifle gave a quick lock when we exited the water), that he ran out at 9, the bench. Really not his fault- I believe if he’d had, oh, ya know, one iota of experience on XC, he would’ve made it over. I circled quickly back to it and he didn’t hesitate at all. 100% my own fault there.
The rest of the course was super easy for him. He hopped down the bank, then I trotted him down the hill as planned, and as we were doing so, I was sad it was about to be over. This is the reason people have multiple horses- so they can do this more than once. We made quick work of the last 3 jumps and came in like 30 seconds under optimum time.
At first, even with the 20 penalties, we had moved up to 9th out of 15, but when they posted the final scores, it appeared as if some other riders had contested their dressage scores and we ended up back in 2nd to last, excluding 2 riders who had falls. Doh.
STILL. This horse wasn’t even supposed to run XC. Trainer B said it best when he told me he couldn’t believe I took a horse to his first event at BN after only riding him for 4 weeks. And I totally agree, I couldn’t really believe it either.
All the other horses did great as well. Trainer B won 3 divisions (of course), the Intermediate CT and the Novice with his own horses, as well as BN with a student’s horse; and another student was doing her 3rd BN and had double clear rounds. All in all, a very successful weekend.
So next up on the schedule is a jumper show at the end of the month, and then as long as S is still around, we’ll be going back to CHP next month to run BN again and hopefully school some Novice.
Poor S had no idea all of what would entail when I started riding him- all he really wants is someone to scratch his ears.
So when I left off nearly 2 weeks ago (SMH, I swear someday life will be more interesting), S was entered in his first HT at BN. Which was a pretty lofty goal, considering the horse has never seen an XC course in his life, and I’ve been riding him for all of 4 weeks. The original plan had been to school him Saturday and just enter him in the BN CT, but they schedule the CT division for after the HT division, and I didn’t want to wait until 4:30 PM to ride. So we decided to enter him in the HT with the likely plan of scratching after SJ.
Saturday was the schooling day, and they were running the BN SJ ring first. We were all on a pretty serious time crunch, with 4 horses on the team entered in BN and Trainer B doing dressage that morning with 2 horses. So S and I arrived to the SJ warmup ring at 8:30…and it was a ZOO.
S impressed me with his cool head about all the horses, as he definitely got all the crazies running up behind him and head on. We even experienced jumping a warmup jump while a horse and rider FELL right next to us after crashing through a fence. It was an exciting time down there for sure. (note: horse and rider were both ok)
We went in the ring and he was a little startled by the atmosphere in the ring. In his defense, it’s a huge ring with lots of decorations, tents, banners, the loudspeaker, etc. Jump 4AB was a 2 stride- a max height/width obnoxiously orange oxer to a vertical. In our first go-round, he stopped at 4A, received a smack, and went over with no additional issues. But he was quite wiggly down the lines, and a bit bulgy through some of the turns, so we opted to go back in for a second round.
I was happy with him in that round, though he still cut the turn from 2 to 3 and wiggled pretty hard down the line from 5 to 6. I struggle a little bit in his saddle (it’s fitted to him, so I use that one instead of mine), and am experimenting with stirrup lengths so for sure some of the issues were mine as well.
After that he got a few hours to nap in his stall, then the 4 of us headed out to XC. I was expecting S to be a bit tired, but as soon as we headed across the street and he saw the wide open fields with horses galloping and leaping, his brain seemed to turn off. Suddenly I had *THAT* horse that was jigging, bumping into horses sideways, and acting like he was about to run the Kentucky Derby.
For warmup, we all trotted the Green as Grass course, which are 18″ inches. We went single-file line, with 2 other students in front, then me, then Trainer B. We made it over jump 1, then S tried repeatedly to take off with me down the hill (again, this horse has never been on an XC course and has no experience with terrain) and I thought to myself, “Well, this is where it ends for me. On a Green as Grass XC course,” and thought of all the jokes that would be cracked at my funeral. The thought crossed my mind at least 5 times during that little course, but by the end he was much calmer.
I think this was the last jump on that course.
Then we went and trotted the Maiden course (up to 2’3″) with everyone, and he had sort of figured XC out by now. He didn’t even need a lead into the water, so was much better.
Then it was time to go to the fields with the BN+ courses. I wasn’t sure if we should even attempt BN, and thought maybe we should just end on that note, but Trainer B had us try out jump 1 just to see. And he was great, so we went to 2. And watched 3 horses refuse that jump. Definitely the widest jump he’s ever seen, so Trainer B just said, “Trot, canter, gallop, and sit back.” Oh, is that all?
While we were standing around on the backside of this jump waiting for the others, a girl came galloping at the Training level version of this jump just to the right of the BN one. The horse stopped at the base, then tried to leap from a standstill…and GOT STUCK. Like, front feet on the ground on the landing side and back legs on the ground on the takeoff side. The girl got thrown off and the horse was scrambling trying to get off the jump. The horse did eventually make it off and though he got cut up quite a bit will be just fine. But poor S- first horses are falling down next to him in SJ warmup, now he’s watching horses get stuck on XC jumps. Definitely a great first experience.
Then we came to 3, which was the BN version of this:
So another quite wide one. As we were galloping up to it, I could feel the exact moment S assessed it’s width and he was just like, “Uhhhh, WUT?” and ran out to the right. So we re-approached, this time adding a little smack on the right shoulder, and he sailed over.
The next few jumps were uneventful, and the real test was going to be the water. It was a different water than the one he had already gone into on the Maiden/GAG course, and this one was much spookier- you had to go downhill into it, it looks much deeper than the other one, and has jumps/decorations around it. And while he hesitated, he trotted right in with no lead required. Good boy!
There was a tricky jump out of the water that required following a slightly uphill approach to a bench, which with some whip encouragement, he went right over.
Then onto a rolltop to a down bank combination. The first time through he galloped the rolltop incredibly boldly and I had no idea we needed to turn right after until I saw the flags out of my right eye. It was too late to turn, but neither S or I realized that we were headed straight for an unflagged bank until we were Supermanning off of it. I was worried he would balk at the down bank as we re-approached (in a much more controlled canter), but he popped down with no issue.
Then we continued down the hill to a rolltop set next to what looked like Swamp Thing’s Home Base. He definitely gave that water the hairy eye ball, but popped over the jump.
So we went back and redid that jump, then finished with the final 2 jumps on course, a feeder with some feed bags strapped to it and the little orange and black rolltoppy thing. He spooked at the volunteer sitting in golf cart, but jumped the 2 unfamiliar jumps just fine.
So when everyone had jumped the final jump, I was all ready to hop off and give S lots of peppermints. But Trainer B had other plans. And that plan was for everyone to go around the course on their own. So off he went, then the 2 students went individually, and when they were out of sight, I started. He popped over 1 just fine, then 2, then took off galloping and I was concentrating on slowing him a bit and almost didn’t see the woman who came running in front of us, waving her arms and yelling at me to stop. I finally got him pulled up…and saw a loose horse. The student who went first after Trainer B had come off at jump 4 and her horse was trotting around. The student was ok, and caught him and decided to head back to the barn. So I headed back to the start field to let Trainer B know what had happened, and then started again.
And S was…great. Cantered through the water, popped off the ditch, was a bit easier to regulate….it was a lot of fun and I was glad I’d had the chance to do the full course.
So as we were walking back towards the barn, Trainer B goes, “You know how you weren’t going to run XC tomorrow?” And I said, “Yeah,”(thinking daaamn, he’s going to say this was enough for him), and he said, “You’re running XC tomorrow.”
It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? Not really exciting to report on 30 minute handwalks with P and basic flatwork rides with S.
But here’s an exciting report: P can TROT!
I took him to Tryon last Wednesday for his final shockwave treatment and for an ultrasound. The vets watched him trot off- first trot in 30 days- and he was completely sound. Completely.
So off to ultrasound he went, which was just another beacon of good news: all the fluid has been reabsorbed, all the swelling is gone, and the fibers have filled in. It’s healed.
BUT. It’s still fragile and the vets have him on a gradual rehab plan. They stressed again that he should make a complete recovery as long as he doesn’t injure himself during rehab. So no turnout where he can go wild and twist that leg. He’s still on stall rest for at least the next 7 weeks, then he’ll go back to see if turnout and cantering are in the cards for him then.
But trotting is better than nothing. His rehab plan is as follows:
Week 1: One set of 2 minute trotting
Week 2: Two sets of 2 minutes
Weeks 3-4: Three sets of 2 minutes
Weeks 4-7: Three sets of 3 minutes
He continues to be super calm in his stall, and can still be trusted with the 4 year old:
But has recently become a little wild during walks, so a small dosing of sedative will most likely be needed from here on out.
S is doing well- we’ve gone to Trainer B’s a few times and his honesty to fences has allowed Trainer B to fill in an important hole in my jump position- the hip hinge. Something completely new to me, really. When you ride P, you almost have to be behind the motion if you want to have a prayer of staying on should he decide to forego leaving the ground.
So the last couple lessons have just been grids upon grids upon grids. S is not as athletically gifted as P, so when the fences got higher (3′) the sound effects were quite hilarious. But he’s a trier and I really appreciate the opportunity to ride him.
We did play around at home with the new jump fillers Husband made! P hopped over them on the lunge once, but since then they’ve been sitting at the edge of the arena. BO told me S would give them the hairy eyeball when he’d see them, so sorry S, but now you have to jump them.
And while he did peek a little, especially to the brick side, his honesty came through and he popped right over.
He’ll be going back to Carolina Horse Park next weekend to do his first HT at Beginner Novice. Maybe. At first I was going to put him in the BN CT since he’s never really even schooled XC (besides the one limited outing we had a few weeks ago), but after talking to Trainer B yesterday, decided to enter him in the full HT. We’ll do the schooling day the day before and if there are issues, I’ll just show him in dressage and SJ, then withdraw him. If he’s great for the schooling day, then I won’t be regretting not running XC.
My biggest concern is the water. Yesterday after we did our million grids, Trainer B had us go through his new water complex. Much like he did when I took him to KHP for schooling, he said “Hell naw,” and sidestepped around the entire thing repeatedly until another horse led him in.
Sooooo, that could preclude him from running XC. We’ll see.
Signing off now to FINALLY go catch up with what everyone else is doing!
Carolina Horse Park puts on a show series called War Horse Event Series that runs on a monthly basis from May-November. You can choose between doing a CT or HT that runs on Sunday, and they offer a schooling day on Saturday where you can school the courses and go play in the dressage rings, so great for green horses.
So even though I’d only been riding S for a couple weeks, I felt like the format would be a great way to see how he handled himself at shows and around a real jump course. Originally we were only going to go for the schooling day so he could get on XC and go around the SJ ring, but with Florence dumping so much rain on the venue, they cancelled all XC for the weekend and offered it only as a CT. So I signed up to compete.
Definitely a weekend of firsts: this horse’s first time staying overnight somewhere, his first time jumping in a show, and his first time jumping a course of more than 5 jumps.
Here’s how he stepped off the trailer:
That was about the most excited he got all weekend. So…really impressed with this guy’s brain.
I entered him in the Maiden division (2’3″) to keep it simple, but we had wanted to school him over the BN course in the big ring also. Unfortunately the times just weren’t in our favor: they had BN run from 9 AM-11 AM, and Maiden run from 12 PM-3 PM. It didn’t really make sense for him to do the bigger course first, so we opted to not take the chance of blowing his brain and just schooled over the little Maiden course.
Did I mention that was his first time schooling over more than 5 jumps? Winner, winner.
The next day I hopped on about 30 minutes before our test. He was super chill in warmup, even when this horse came straight at us and I had to sharply veer S away. The woman’s response? “I’m on a TEN METER CIRCLE,” like I’m supposed to know. Love lower level warmups. Whatevs. We did Intro C, which is a terrible test in itself, and S was a bit distracted (lots to see), but I was pleased with how he handled everything. He scored a 37, which was a little higher than I thought, but as always, I wasn’t exactly there for the dressage anyway.
Unfortunately no media exists of the dressage test. Trainer B and his working student were both riding at the same time I was, so the moms were busy back at the stalls. If it had received a great score, I’d be more upset!
S got about an hour to chill before I started tacking him up again. Sequence of trying to take a picture of S without the sideeye business.
I love that WHES allows for schooling the day before, but I also weirdly put pressure on myself because of it. If schooling goes great, what if I screw up the competition round? Sounds dumb, but it really makes the nerves kick in for me.
I shouldn’t have worried, though:
Which moved him up from 7th to 5th and earned his owner a ribbon and some treats from sponsors!
In work, that is. Luckily the hurricane didn’t reach us here other than some wind and rain, and as far as I know our Jacksonville house is still standing and dry. People are slowly trickling back to that area, so I’m hoping we find out 100% by next week.
P is still rocking the stall rest game; though for the first time gave me trouble under saddle on Tuesday. I hopped on and within 2 steps hopped right back off. Homeboy wanted to FLY about, so we handwalked those 20 minutes. In his defense, he has been a complete star and the 3 days the hurricane was dumping rain on us, he didn’t get out at all.
I had Husband video a snippet of our ride- you HAVE to turn the sound on.
And then The Tiniest Dictator wanted to hop on as well. P was just as careful with him as always.
I opted yesterday to handwalk him to make sure all the hops were out of him and he was great, so I’ll try getting back on today. If he’s still too jumpy, then I may have to break out the drugs.
Husband just texted me a video though, and he seems quite calm.
He got his first shockwave treatment last Friday, and they’re coming back out tomorrow for round #2, then he’ll go back to Tryon for his final treatment and to re-ultrasound.
S continues to come along. I took him for his first little XC school 2 weekends ago and he did pretty well. He needed some convincing to get in the water at first, but he hopped up and down the baby bank with no theatrics. He was a bit excited when we first started jumping, as he’d never jumped out in the open before, but settled down. Very little media exists, sadly, as my friend was on her wiggly green bean and videos were hard to get.
This weekend we’re heading with Trainer B and team for what was supposed to be XC schooling + HT, but turned into a CT, thanks to the rain from the hurricane. It’ll be a few firsts for S: his first overnight show (and 3rd show ever), his first show jumping, and his first show with me. He’s been hopping around BN+ courses at Trainer B’s, so the plan is to school the BN course the day before, but compete in the 2’3″, since that ring is quieter with less distractions. Sort of boring, but that’s ok.
Ok, signing off to catch up with what everyone else is doing now!
First of all- everyone please say a small prayer for our rental property in Jacksonville, NC…right where dear Hurricane Florence is predicted to make landfall as a category 4 hurricane.
Specifically I’m going to need prayers that the house gets flattened and not just flooded, as we have extensive windstorm insurance coverage, but no flood insurance.
Everyone on the east coast, stay safe!
Ok, onto horse business:
12 days of rehab in!
P got his new shoes on.
Somehow managed to get a cut right on his poll under his forelock.
Which meant the bridle was out and rides would have to be done in a halter…not nerve-wracking at all to ride a fit TB who has been on stall rest the past week and half. Not at all. Luckily he’s been a complete star (knock on wood).
Even when we ventured outside of the arena.
He’s also been hanging with Husband every morning, who takes him out to graze while I’m at work.
That particular video earned him a few frantic texts back, but I appreciate the thoughtfulness. The more he can get out, even just to hand graze, the better.
But as exhilarating as walking in straight lines for 20 minutes per day IS….the thought that that would be my only riding for the next months was a bit painful.
After I snapped back to reality after my meltdown, BO and I talked about my riding S. Funny enough, of the 3 people that asked me to ride their horse, 2 of the horses are grey OTTB geldings. I don’t even LIKE greys, yet they keep finding me.
S is not particularly new to this blog, as he’s most commonly known here on the blog as P’s lover.
They also sometimes pass as each other’s body double.
But for how much they look alike, they’re veeeery different horses.
-P is more relaxed, S tends to hold some tension pretty much continuously.
-P is wildly inconsistent in his gaits- we zoom, then crawl, then dip right, then dip left (all in one 20m circle), S just keeps going until you tell him differently.
-P quickens towards jumps and waaay overjumps everything, while S is all, “No extra energy shall be expended.”
-P has a wonderfully elastic walk and trot, S takes much shorter and choppier steps.
-P’s canter is sort of hard to sit to, S is like sitting on a rocking chair. Seriously, when I would ride with BO, I’d be super jealous of how she could so easily sit the canter…until I sat on him and could instantly do the same. Majikal.
Considering I’ve pretty much ridden just one horse for the past several years, getting on another one was hard for me at first. Luckily S can take a joke, and I really liked riding him. I flatted him a couple times, jumped him a couple times, then the final test was an outing to Trainer B’s…
Since I went alone, no media exists, but it went well. S is pretty out of shape (BO has horses in training so S has been on the back burner for quite some time), and hadn’t been off the property other than a trail ride or 2 since May. He was a bit spooky in the arena, which wasn’t unexpected. If your horse can survive Trainer B’s arena, it can handle anything. There are flags waving, banners flapping, baby horses running, chickens walking about, and lots of shiny and spooky jumps/water trays, fillers, etc. After a few mini-spooks, he settled in pretty easily.
I warmed up then we got straight to the jumps. Trainer B said to warmup over the gate and I said, “K,” and turned S away. Then he goes, “Wait…can he jump this high?” And I said, “Uhhh, I don’t know.” So we were about to find out together. For reference, it’s this gate (P’s favorite):
So I picked up the canter, may or may not have held my breath, and S popped right over it.
Next we popped over the shiny shamrock jump. Nary even a peek.
And through a 2 stride- again, zero hesitation.
Until we finally found a weakness. These barrels:
The first time, I cut the turn to the barrels too short and he just did a bit of a drive-by. Ok, fine. Approached again, and he popped right over.
The we did the entire course again- Shamrock, to the 2 stride, to the gate, and finish over the barrels. This time he popped his right shoulder and again, went right past it.
Now…yes, it was wrong of him. But I literally couldn’t be mad or upset. Because it was so….gentle. I’m used to the psych-out move perfected by P:
But still, not jumping is a no-go, so we schooled it several times, with a strong right leg and open left rein, and he went over it with no additional issues. Came around and did the course again, and he was good as gold.
So he passed the Trainer B test, so I’ll be mainly riding him until P recovers or he sells. We definitely have some things to do- increasing his fitness being the first priority.
Trainer B did nail him on his lack of adjustability at the canter (something he’s quite picky about with every horse), so yay, I get to work on that some more. But it’s something that was quite obvious- I would go to press him forward and nothing would happen. Then I would go to collect slightly and he’d break to the trot. So we’ll be addressing that ASAP and I know will become easier as he gets back into the groove.
While I definitely wish I could be on my own horse, I have the feeling S is going to be quite fun.
Alternate title: What Not To Do When You Have an Injured Horse
My appointment at Tryon was at 10 AM, and lasted until about noon. Bette came to hang out with me, then we left P with some hay at the hospital and grabbed some lunch, then went to go check out the rehab place next door (which ultimately ended up being a hard no at $128/day). Tryon is a 2 hour haul for me, so I ended up finally getting home at 5 PM.
Those 7 hours were, for the most part, quite zen for me. While I definitely shed a couple of tears upon first hearing the diagnosis, talking to Bette, to the vets, and to Trainer B for sure helped a lot. The vet sounded very optimistic and Trainer B has been through similar injuries with horses. Neither made any mention of this being career-ending (provided P doesn’t escape and tear around like a maniac). It was all going to be ok.
So I get home at 5. By 5:01 I made my first mistake- Google. By 5:01:05 I made the most fatal mistake anyone can: clicking on a Chronicle of the Horse thread. NEVER DO THIS. COTH is the equine equivalent of WebMD.
But once I was in, I couldn’t stop…I finally ended up involuntarily passing out around SIX AM, after ELEVEN STRAIGHT HOURS OF GOOGLING & COTH-ING.
Now what did I do in those 11 hours? Let me tell you.
I read that front limbs have a great chance of recovery. If the injury is in the hind, you’re SOL. No exceptions EVER.
I read that once a horse is injured there, they will DEFINITELY reinjure it and will NEVER recover.
I read that horses who have this injury should NEVER be jumped again under ANY circumstances.
I read that only the STUPIDEST of stupid people would EVER ride a horse who has EVER had this type of injury.
I read that there’s absolutely NO WAY a horse can recover in less than 18 months from something like this. Better give it 5 years to be on the safe side. 10 if you actually care about your horse.
I read that if they sustain this injury in one leg they will DEFINITELY injure their other leg in a similar fashion due to compensation.
I read that the ONLY treatment for something like this to have even the SLIGHTEST chance of recovery is for them to have a surgery called fasciotomy. And then I became incredibly angry at the vets for not even having the decency to MENTION this to me. Clearly they assumed I was a pauper and didn’t care for my horse in the least bit. CLEARLY.
Despair kicked in around 1 AM or so. I was tempted to drown my sorrows in a bottle of red wine and the huge bag of M&Ms that Husband so thoughtfully had waiting for me, but no…my horse needed me to think clearly. Eating and sleeping would be selfish.
It was clear to me by then (yes, I was sober) that my horse’s riding career was over. So I looked for retirement farms (FYI there’s a nice one in VA, if anyone is looking), searched for local land for sale so I could have a place for P, and redid our household budget 1,000,000 ways to see how I could fund a second horse.
You’re probably thinking I stopped there, but you’d be wrong. As I was also convinced that P was in immeasurable pain as well, and obvi would be for the rest of his life, I may or may not have memorized my equine mortality insurance plan in looking to see how humane euthanasia worked.
Poor Husband woke around 4 AM (probably to the sound of me sobbing) and said to stop with the internet and get some sleep. I snarled something about him hating P, I believe, and he fell back asleep. Damn patriarchy. I was sure he was HAPPY P’s life was essentially (or literally, depending on which scenario I was convinced of at the time) over.
By 6 AM I had a list of retirement farms to contact about pricing/amenities, some land that I was going to call realtors about, had quotes for run-in shelters to place on said land, and had rehearsed how I was going to accuse ask the vet of not offering up the only procedure that could possibly work to save my horse’s life. It was a very productive night.
Let me tell you about the vet I saw, real quick. He’s been with Tryon Equine Hospital for the past 18 years, and owned it for the last 10 years. He’s trained at New Bolton and was Chief of Staff at Univ. of GA Hospital. His wife is an eventer, as well as an FEI vet for dressage/eventing and is the selector vet for the Canadian event team. The 2 of them are literally overseeing all the FEI vets for WEG.
So, uhhh, pretty qualified, right? Which is why I went there to begin with. But by 6 AM that next morning, I was convinced they were hacks and had some sort of conspiracy against my horse and I. Ya know, all rational things.
Tryon opened at 8 AM, so I gave them until 8:03 before calling because I’m considerate like that. I explained to the receptionist that I had been there yesterday and had a few questions, then left my number for one of the vets to call me back.
Then I put down my phone and stared at it. That never fails.
When they hadn’t called back by 8:05, I lost it. It was obvious they didn’t care that I was going to have to put P down. They probably didn’t even like horses AT ALL.
My makeup had been cried off by now, and half of it was all over my work clothes. My contacts were blurry from all the tears and Husband suggested perhaps I stay home rather than go into the office. I had actual work that needed to be done though, but luckily had my computer at home with me. So I opened up my computer to get said work done, and within 5 minutes found myself with no less than 2 dozen tabs on suspensory injuries open.
I declined breakfast, and Husband tried to gently close my computer lid which only prompted me to grab it and yell, “I HAVE WORK TO DO,” to which he replied, “But….you’re not doing that…” which only caused yet another sobbing fit. I had already accepted the vets didn’t care about my horse’s life, but now my HUSBAND was trying to prevent me from learning all I could so I could make informed decisions about the care of my horse?
By 10:30 AM I had taken to not only cursing the vets and my husband, but also their respective parents. What kind of parents raise people to be so hateful of horses and their loving owners? WHAT DID HORSES EVER DO TO YOU, KAREN?!
By the time the phone rang at 1:14 PM, I was blind from blurry contacts, looked like I had pink eye, my lips and cheeks were swollen and puffy, my nose hurt from blowing it so much, I was surrounded by wads of tissue, and I had a broken toe nail from when I lunged for my ringing phone 15 minutes earlier (which was a STUPID telemarketer who will probably never call anyone else again).
I started with my legitimate questions, first. I needed those answered before going in for the kill.
Me: You said he needed to be hand-walked/tack-walked every day. How long?
Vet: About 20 minutes would be good, no more than 30 minutes for now.
Me: After talking to the insurance company, I’ve decided to do the shockwave but Tryon Hospital is 2 hours away from me. Can any of the vets from your mobile division in Charlotte do it?
Vet: Yes, of course. The receptionist up front can schedule that for you. We’re all on one system so the mobile vets will have access to Pilgrim’s records.
Me (because I couldn’t help myself): Do you really think Pilgrim has a chance at fully recovering?
Vet: Yes, as long as you stick to the rehab plan. Some people just turn their horses out for whatever reason and the ligament doesn’t get the chance to heal properly. Resting it lets it heal while controlled exercise will help the fibers heal in the right direction and minimize scar tissue. We’ve had hundreds of cases similar to Pilgrim’s, and most return to their former jobs at the level they were previously working at. The ones that don’t are the ones that further injure themselves during rehab.
Me: Why wasn’t surgery brought up as an option?
Vet (after long pause): What surgery?
Me (thinking, “Aha! I KNEW you had no idea what you were doing!”): Fasciotomy.
Vet: Oh, Pilgrim isn’t a candidate for that surgery because he doesn’t need it. There’s a small amount of edema (swelling), but it isn’t cutting off any circulation or causing any pain, and will subside with healing. The shockwave should help it go away faster, as well.
So, my friends, learn from my mistakes and NEVER EVER EVER Google or COTH your horse’s symptoms or diagnosis.