So P has been doing lots of trotting, but zero of it has been with me in the saddle. One of the main reasons being that if he were to spook or flip out, I could get control of him quicker from the ground. But another (unspoken) reason has been because I’m terrified I’ll feel lameness. So thus far I’ve done all his trot sets in-hand, then hopping on him for his last few minutes of walking.
But the day where I trotted him under saddle had to come sometime and yesterday the Millbrook stirrup leathers arrived, so it seemed as good a time as ever. BO graciously videoed the momentous occasion, and P and I trotted for the first time under saddle since AUGUST!
So…y’all are the best. For real. I know I don’t post a ton anymore (since there’s only so much you can say about walking in a circle for 30 minutes), but I teared up a bit at pretty much every encouraging comment I got on the last post. So, uh, ::looks at ground, kicks some dirt so you don’t see the red eyes:: thanks, guys.
Despite the bummer riding situation, Black Friday comes but once a year. And while you won’t catch me at the mall at 6 AM, if a local-ish tack store gives you a 40% off coupon if you’re outside in line before 8 AM? You make that happen.
A few barnmates and I caravanned about an hour away to Waxhaw Tack Exchange– a place I’d never been before. I had two things I needed- river boots and tall riding boots. The lining in one of my Dublin River Boots finally tore and my tootsies were feeling quite vulnerable handwalking P in sneakers. Another pair was needed, stat.
I really liked the Dublins because they lasted quite well. I bought them a little over two years ago and wore them A LOT. They go with everything. Even gym shorts.
I had tried the Ariat H20s before purchasing the Dublins, and they lasted all of 2 months, so I knew I wanted Dublins again. And this time I went for the fancy ones that seem even more durable. Here’s hoping they wear as well as the other pair did.
Alas, they had zero riding boots in my size, so I took it as a sign that I was meant to go ahead and buy the EGO7s that I’ve been eying for, well, years. That brand is carried by another tack store that was going to have it’s own sale, so I figured I’d wait a few more days and buy them then.
UNTIL I got on Riding Warehouse’s website and saw that the Mountain Horse Sovereign Field Boots were already on sale, then marked down AGAIN with their Black Friday 25% discount. Damn it.
So those are coming to me as well. Unfortunately they only had my size in Regular height and not Tall, so we’ll see. I tried on a barnmate’s pair that was already well broken-in and they’re not as tall as I would like, but for less than half the price of the EGO7s, I feel like I can ignore the 0.75″ difference.
While I was on there, I restocked my dwindling supply of Higher Standards Leather Balm and Saddle Soap. That stuff is fantastic and the only reason why my Ariat paddock boots still look decent after 6 or so years of almost-daily use.
And because after the discount it was $17, P got a cooler.
And a new rope halter w/14 ft lead. P’s favorite thing to do in the crossties now is to shake his head up and down repeatedly for as long as he’s in there, making his leather halter and the crosstie clasps jingle, so BO started using her own rope halter to spare her from P’s music-making. The silence is heavenly, so I ordered my own.
Then I made the mistake of hopping on Facebook. Something I really haven’t done in weeks.
This immediately greeted me:
The turquoise stirrup placed in the front was clearly a trap. The whole thing was obvi a setup, as I actually needed a new girth. This is what happens to an HDR girth when it has been used for 8 years:
I had actually been gearing up to get the County Logic girth, as that’s the girth S uses and it’s soooo cushy. But with the ME girth at less than half the price, and with the promise of fancy new stirrups thrown in, I couldn’t resist. So this baby is on it’s way to me:
I got the removable liner option for the extra $10 and really hope it works for P, as our XC boots have held up remarkably well. I waffled back and forth on which color stirrups to get- turquoise is obviously our thing, BUT his ITBF bonnet for the jumping phases at competitions is purple.
In the end, I couldn’t resist the turquoise, something I’m sure surprises exactly no one.
Note on Majyk Equipe’s customer service: My total for the girth came to $99.99 ($89.99 for the girth + $10 for the removable liner option), and when I went to checkout it automatically tacked on nearly $20 in shipping charges since the purchase was under $100. So I messaged them via FB to ask about the $0.01 for free shipping, but didn’t expect to hear back because it was, well, Thanksgiving day. So imagine my surprise when my phone dinged a few minutes later and it was them responding with “We’ll make a note and you won’t be charged,” message. Love customer service like that. It’s really what will get me to continue buying from a certain company.
So now I had new stirrups coming to me. Excellent. Except the fact that they’re turquoise and most competitions around here are one-day, where you go straight from SJ to XC. And at least at some venues, heading into show jumping with turquoise stirrups may be frowned upon. Ok, maybe it’s sort of an excuse to justify my next purchase, but it’s sort of the only excuse I’ve got. Anyway, without further ado:
Damn, I need another hiatus from Facebook. That place is dangerous. One of my friends has a pair of these and I just love the way they look. And I have a few friends who have their half chaps and rave about the leather. The Voltaire ones I have are just fine, but at $190, I wasn’t about to buy those again.
So….why, you might ask, would I need new stirrup leathers?
Well, here’s the way I see it. Changing over from SJ to XC for P & I already requires a pit crew. P’s not allowed to wear XC boots in SJ ever since the ONE TIME I put them on for SJ and he knocked down 3 fences. See Exhibit A:
Aaaaand we have to change from his Lund bridle with the Nathe bit that he uses for dressage/SJ to the figure-8 with the gag bit he needs for XC. So we don’t plow face first into jumps.
Soooo…why not change out stirrups as well?
Psssttt- the above is a rhetorical question. If you have a good answer as to why I don’t need new stirrups or stirrup leathers, you will be banned from my life. I already used the above long-winded explanation with Husband and he bought it. No one better tell him differently.
So I’m super excited for everything to arrive—– so I can go walk/trot my horse.
The only thing that makes a 2 hour haul to Tryon for a 10 minute appointment worth it is that I get to see Bette! Oh, and the WEG-worthy vet. I guess he’s alright, too.
Good news: All the fiber loss is filled in, scar tissue is in place, and he’s completely sound.
Bad news: I was wrong in my assumption that this would be the checkup to determine suitability for turnout. So very wrong. Turns out Dr. H just wanted to be sure the 9 minutes of trotting wasn’t doing more harm than good, and has given the green light for…drum roll….increased trotting. For 6 more weeks.
Good news: His new trotting schedule (3 weeks of 3 sets of 4 minutes of trotting, then 3 weeks of 3 sets of 5 minutes of trotting) will bring back some fitness.
Bad news: Next checkup is at the end of JANUARY. So, like, a million days away.
Good news: After the 6 weeks of trotting, we get to add in the canter- 2 weeks of cantering 1 minute every other day, then 2 weeks of cantering 2 minutes every other day.
Bad news: SO BORING.
Good news: If all remains well at the end of the ten weeks, he will finally be cleared for turnout.
Bad news: 10 weeks is January 30th- the middle of winter when everything is wet, muddy and either frozen or soggy. Not really optimal for being turned out after SIX MONTHS in a stall.
Good news: January 30th will be 154 days since initial diagnosis/stall rest began. We’re currently on day 89, so 58% done!
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.
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 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!