Saturday, January 25, 2020


So... vet day today. I noticed a lump on Fleck's sheath the day after Christmas and it was still there mid January, so I panicked and made an appointment for him to get that looked at and removed if necessary. I know... I know. It looked like a bug bite but it didn't go away! And then, because he's such a pansy about sedation and getting his teeth done, I figured I would do it all at once. So... since I was taking him in, I figured it wouldn't hurt to do a lameness check to keep tabs on things with Dan. And... good thing, because now I'm convinced he has ulcers again too. BUT... I didn't want to starve him overnight and make him hangry for the lameness, so... I more just wanted to pick Dr. Laura's brain and see what she thought. 

Unfortunately it was pouring rain most of the day, so even if I had been able to sneak in a ride before or after.. it wasn't happening. We got there at 11, which was a nicer drive than getting there at 10. :) Flecky went first and luckily his lump was just a little hematoma from a bug bite or spider bite or something. Poor guy. They ultrasounded it and it was just fluid, so we left it alone. And Dr. Laura was awesome and barely sedated Flecky since I told her he likes to try to fall down with sedation. And he was fussy getting his teeth done so Tim held his head and snuggled with him and that made him much happier! So all in all, it was a nice easy day for Fleck. :) 

Then it was Dan's turn. He was in a MOOD!! The poor tech. We joked that she needed a bit suit... hazardous pay.... punching bags... He wasn't biting, just... mouthy. Typical Dan but even more fidgety than usual. Anyways... Everyone agreed that he looked much better in his weight and body! Better topline, better muscling, better and bigger hiney. :) Yay!! They also thought he looked much sounder, but that there was still a little right sided lameness. When we first lunged him... he kept cross cantering on both leads. Sigh. Huh horse?! And he was all leaning over like a motorcycle. Goober. Then we trotted and finally cantered normal canters. He was apparently lame on the right hind a little.... and then a little right front and left front, but the left front was probably secondary to the right hind. So.. we flexed him. Nothing up front. Even when we flexed his shoulder, because.... I appreciate the fact that she heard me say that I *feel* it in the right front when that shoulder goes forward. But, nope, no reaction. So then we did his hocks/stifles, which also puts some pressure on his SI joint. And he was positive on the right, not so much on the left. Then we did the SI flexion. And he was UNHAPPY! Like... trying to pull back and super fussy. They couldn't even get him flexed for more than 28 seconds, and he was definitely super positive. The right side was way worse, but the left wasn't super great either. And palpating him... no real back pain.... but fairly significant lumbar pain and significant pelvic/SI/gluteal pain. Which.. is what I've found the last two times I've adjusted him, which is definitely new. So... we talked and discussed and.... decided to inject his SI joints. I'm a little worried that my not yet 9 year old who hasn't done much is already needing injections, but... he was definitely painful and definitely not feeling good. I'm hoping this does the trick and we can get back to work and manage it with good riding, good fitness, and regular acupuncture, electroacupuncture, Bemer, and chiropractic work. We also discussed ulcers, but.. she sort of thinks it's not so much ulcers as butt pain causing the grumpyness, the tongue issues, etc. Given that I'm pretty much doing everything I can for the ulcers already... I think my plan is to give him a few days and see how he does. If he gets better, then maybe it is pain.. if not, then I'll treat for ulcers. But this way (If I don't start ulcer treatment now) I'll know if he gets better because of his butt feeling better and not because his stomach feels better. So... unfortunately that means no riding this weekend.... which also means no shakerag novice junior hunt... and no XC lesson with Kelly on Sunday at Ashland which I'm sooooooo bummed about. She better come back again at a later date!

So... fingers crossed that this helps. I'm hoping that this will explain why he went SOOOOO well at Jumping Branch and then we started having issues again. I mean.. I was so ready to run most of the training course at Pine Top! I do wonder if him sliding over the fence schooling at Pine Top is what really did his SI joint in. So... hopefully this will make him feel better and I can manage him and we'll get back to rocking and rolling and conquering our demons and making progress!

Lazy Hack Day

Well... neither of us felt good today. I'm fairly convinced Dan has ulcers. He's been super cranky.... air biting again, pinning his ears and being way more rude than usual... He is flipping his food tub over at every meal, which is a new thing. And after the tongue episode at the show, and just how anxious and needy but grumpy he's been, I'm pretty sure. So... I decided NOT to go foxhunting this morning. Which was a bummer as it would have been a good one to do. And I decided not to do a lesson either. So we just went for a hack. And I didn't feel good either. I've been feeling like my head is being gently squeazed but it's unrelenting and ever so slightly getting more and more pressurized over time. So we both felt icky. 

I basically let him do what he wanted. It was COLD! And he was a bit spooky. So we did a lot of ... flitting around!. ;) But he was a good boy. 

We probably had a little more time we could have played before I had to get ready for work, but... again, neither of us felt good so we just headed home. I didn't even want to play in the dressage or jump rings. Hopefully he'll start feeling better soon. We've got his vet appointment on Friday, and I've ordered some ulcergard to start until I decide whether to do injectable or what. 

Monday, January 20, 2020

Well..... Close, but no cigar....

Sigh.... Well.... It was a good weekend for the most part. :) I got up Saturday and cleaned the house a little bit because there was someone coming to look at our house. I was pretty much packed for the show by Friday, so... that was easy enough. Dan and I actually got out of there on time and got to Aiken in decent time. I figured he had to pee and didn't want to make him stand on the trailer longer, so I just went to Morgans first. I got him settled in a stall and unhitched. It's a neat place! And Dan seemed quite happy in the stall. So then I realized it was 38 minutes to stableview! Doh! That's a bit more of a drive than I expected, but oh well. It was fine. I stopped at McDonalds and got some food and then got to Stableview. Poor Lexi had already walked the course once but walked it with me again, which was nice, because then I didn't get lost. Although, it was pretty much straight forward. One big loop. The course was BIG! I mean..... for a "soft inviting beginning of the season" course..... it was BIG! And I wasn't the only one that thought that. BUT.. it was easy. I mean... it was basically big table to big table to big table to big table... and fence 5 was HUGE! I thought. It was a slight bending line to fence 6, but... like... 7 strides. Then a few more big single fences.. and then a black flag option to a corner. And sure, it was a short corner, but it was fat and wide. Then a simple fence and a few strides into the water.. then out of the water and another simple fence.. then a fairly big brush fence... and a hammock! And another double brush fence... and that's about it. Just a lot of big fences. I power walked the course and... was a little worried about the big fences but tried to tell myself that I wouldn't notice how wide and big they were once I was on Dan. Then I headed back to Morgans so I could sneak in a ride. It was a quick ride as I had to adjust Rusty for Danielle before she had to leave for a work thing... so we got out on the polo field and did our noodle neck stretching. And then we just did a tiny bit of dressage. And... interestingly enough, I was able to do the right lead counter canter serpentine...  I had to turn hard left with my upper body... and because we were in the polo field, I'm not sure how swoopy we made it. BUT.. it was still a counter canter serpentine so yay! After that I worked on Rusty and then fed Dan and left him with some hay and went to go get food for myself. I was craving a peppermint milkshake so I drove to chick-fil-a, but... alas! They didn't have any. Sigh. Oh well. I got dinner, then went and got snacks and gas and ice. Then back to the barn... hooked up so I had heat and ate my dinner real quick. Then I braided Dan. 18 braids!! 18!! HOW LONG IS YOUR NECK?!?! ha ha. But it was a lot easier with the Bemer on board. :) And cookie bribes. I desperately need to get him mane one thickness. It would be much prettier braids if the middle of his neck wasn't so freakin' fat and thick. I put his slinky on and hoped for the best since it was going to be an early morning. Then I cleaned my tack.. then off to bed. I actually slept pretty good (thanks to benadryl and propranalol).

So... I got up early and fed Dan and remembered to undo my hook up tether, cleaned his stall, and loaded him up. I didn't give him hay in the stall but he did sit on the trailer for a few minutes while I cleaned his stall. And then we took 45 minutes to get to Stableview so he could have eaten hay then. We got a nice parking spot right by the porta-potty (Very important for my nervous bladder!). I unloaded Dan and he was on edge! Like, dancing a little... not eating... calling.... pooping one or two turds at a time. BUT.. he did settle a little and I got him tacked up. We put on the new saddle pad, which looked great on him (And.. didn't rub!). We went to warm up and he was a little bouncy and reary and bucky on the way, but we made it. Once we got into warm up and he was able to move his feet and trot.. he relaxed. We did our noodle neck work and he wasn't quite as settled but he did stretch and breathe. He still felt a little braced in his neck but we managed to get some decent work. Then it was our turn and man... I thought it was a LOVELY test... Like one of our best! He felt very through and on the bit... not braced... hanging in the bridle, but in a more uphill frame, not just a training level frame. He felt SOOOO consistent... like... so rhythmic... to the point I even whispered to him..."heck yeah buddy!! This is gonna be all 9 and 10's!". I mean... probably not, but it really felt that good. We started our canter work and I was thinking... "Wow, he's really slobbery... there is foam everywhere"... and then on the second canter circle I realized that was his tongue!!! What?!?!?! Why???!!! Why is his tongue possessed again?? It was like it was when we were rehabbing and he was so stressed and pissed off and his tongue got possessed. I couldn't do anything about it. And he wasn't doing anything with his head... No flinging. There was no other indication that he was stressed. Sigh... Of course he kept it up the whole rest of the test. I was a little devastated. I mean... what was causing this? I wonder if he is getting ulcery again and the fact that he was stressed and not eating hay before our ride... and had an empty stomach with just grain... Sigh... I didn't check my score, because... I just didn't want to know. We ended up with a nice score though. 31.7, even with the tongue. It started with 7, 7.5, and 8's... and then after the canter work started, it dropped to 6's. Which, of course, it should. So... a little disappointing as MAYBE we would have been in the 20's again had we not had the tongue issue.

So... I was a little stressed about stadium, but more so him in general. Lexi offered to help me warm him up, and in some ways... I should have said no. She was great. She was right. But... I didn't get to warm up the way I wanted. I don't know if it made a difference.. maybe she made it better... He was amped up and a bit silly. Like, almost thought he would bolt a few times as he got super quick and runny, but wasn't actually bolting. We jumped a few jumps and she was trying to get me to package him and balance him. Which, is totally correct. BUT.... again, I can't figure out how to do that just now without shutting him down. So... instead of doing my "kelly thing"... and getting in my groove.. I sort of half tried to do what Lexi was saying and half tried to ignore her. Not really helpful for anyone. She did have some great advice about keeping my hands down and did tell me to hunker down in the tack, which is helpful. So... then we went. The course for stadium was on the small side and very easy. It was literally 4 lines... you started on the right, and then moved down the arena, line by line. We got the first two lines beautifully! Like, I was so proud of how nicely we were both going. Then I ended up jumping up his neck on one.. and then it sort of spiralled downhill and we couldn't get our groove back. We ended up getting too long into the second to last line, which put us tight into the one stride, so we put in two. Sigh. But we managed to kind of get our act together over the final two fences and jumped clean! And on the final fence, as we left the ground, the giant shrub next to it fell towards us! But Dan looked and kept jumping so good boy!!

So then we hacked over to XC. We jumped a small log and the small rolltop and he jumped them beautifully! In front of my leg, forward, going, so... we went with that. I was actually feeling sort of excited about XC and not that nervous. I mean, a little nervous, but not that bad. So we started out and the first four fences went great! Then we headed to fence 5, the big table. And I guess I panicked. I'm pretty sure I just ran him at it and he got long and strung out. He started to jump it, but realized it was a bad idea and sort of skipped over the side of it. So.. big fat run out. Sigh. So we circled and he jumped it and then the next one. I had to use the crop as he kept stalling out. Then we jumped the next one or two nicely... but then we stalled out a little. I then got him going again and he jumped the corner quite nicely and into the water decently. Out of the water was sticky but only because I held. We jumped the hammock just fine and the double brush just fine. At that point, I wasn't even nervous. And those stupid fences that looked so big walking... looked average while I was riding. I was so mad at myself for screwing up fence 5. Sigh..

We finished the course with no more blips and I told him he was a super good boy. He was fresh and full of run when we finished too. But argh... shame on me for ruining it. We ended up second to last place... go figure... Had we not had the stop, AND finished with no time (which in theory.. we should have but a lot of people had time so who knows... and watching the video... I thought we were booking it, but nope!), we would have finished 4th. Which helped a little, as it wouldn't have been a qualifying ride anyways.

And then I started beating myself up about it. Why is novice scary? WHY can I not figure out how to ride this talented lovely horse? Argh....

Friday, January 17, 2020

Good words from good friends

awww.... today was such a good day!

I took Dan to Shakerag for a lesson and got to ride with Caroline. It was so good to see her again. Of course they were awesome too, but... Danny and I had some really good moments also. :)

Jumped a triple (two one strides), then angled the 2nd and 3rd fences in it.... jumped the rest of the jumps... slowly built up to a course....

Things to remember:

  • when the footing is slick: You must ride forward... like a ballerina skating on ice! Or... a ballerina on crack. ;) Ha ha... Smoke that crack pipe Holly. But...seriously... riding forward and hunkering down in the saddle makes it SOOOOO much better. It somehow makes it less skittery and scary
  • my mental homework is to EVERY RIDE come up with at least 2 good things that happened. 
At the end of my ride.... after watching Caroline put down a perfect course.... and then I went.. and screwed it up....  (at least in my brain)..... I couldn't find anything to say because... I knew I didn't want to say how bad it was... but I really couldn't find any good. Kelly pointed out that I was really good at owning up my mistakes... like... I'm really good at calling myself out for crossing his neck with the rein, or turning my thumbs down.... yet I totally don't own the fact that despite us almost eating the first fence in the triple, I rode forward and brave and we got through the rest of the course and we nailed the angled lines like a boss. So.. I need to OWN the good too. 

So then we did the course without the triple in the beginning and without the two angled lines (because I had nailed those, well, not the triple, but.. the angled lines) and it was lovely!! Kelly pointed out that I had fixed it... with tiny little changes! Tiny changes!! That was all it took.

And then... they totally made my day. Two ladies who I adore and think the world of and highly respect their skill level and more.... took the time to tell me that I am a damn good rider. Way better than I give myself credit for. And Caroline pointed out how far we've come in a short time.... Kelly said that Dan and I had a bond that was fantastic because we were the same brain. I laughed and said sometimes I needed him to be less submissive and jump the damn jump despite me being a wimp. But she said that was a better problem to have than us being on opposite brain waves. ;) It was just really nice to hear them tell me those things.. it seemed genuine and not just to stroke my ego or make me feel better. I didn't realize I needed that, but I totally needed that today. :) 

And then Caroline and I took a short hack and Dan perked up at the dogs. He was a little spooky today and was making us giggle. :) 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020


So grateful to God for giving me a break in the rain to ride :) I even saw blue skies briefly!

Technically I had scheduled an acupuncture appointment for this morning because it was supposed to be raining... and keep raining... BUT... last night it looked like it might actually be clear in the morning, so... I postponed my appt til Friday because... I wanted to ride! And it actually didn't rain... until I put the ramp up as we headed home :)  Like I said, we even had some blue skies when we started. It was almost even warm.

We started off walking around the small lake and then I decided to do a little bit of dressage work as the rings looked decent. We did our warm up and did some trotting and cantering and then I decided to try the counter canter again. It wasn't happened. So then I literally dropped the right rein. Like... no contact, it was floating on his neck. And... I got a very shallow counter canter serpentine. Hmmm...
I picked up the reins and got it a few times, but was still very shallow.  But.. I'll take it. He was more braced in the neck base than usual but I able to supple him up.  Since we were in the upper arena due to the rainy weather and heading to Stableview for the weekend, we ran through our Novice test. The we did a little bit of half pass. I also worked on my transitions. But I only got 3 without pulling forward (three that I focused on) because I quit once he gave me the last right lead counter canter and I hadn't done my 5 total yet.

Then we went for a long hack. It was SOOOOO wet!!!

Sunday, January 12, 2020


So.... I finally got a dressage lesson with Kelly today. Yahoo!! Poor Kelly..I should have paid her twice! We started out with a quick warm up and then we went right to work on the canter. And then, we got stuck. Doh! But we did get some good canter work before we attempted the counter canter and things fell apart.

Cantering Tips:
  1. Don't let him get too deep. He needs to be up in the withers, lift my hands if needed and sit back and lift my seat and lift his withers
  2. tracking right: he wants to fall in, and throw that left shoulder out. So I need outside rein, inside leg, and really get more bend so that he bends around my inside leg. Almost ride a little haunches in (I think!). And weirdly I need that outside rein to keep him from falling to the left... but I can open it so that his shoulder has somewhere to go.... but keep a steady connection. 
So then we tried the counter canter. Tracking left is fine. Tracking right... not fine. I am back to barely able to get him on the straight line without him swapping in front. He gets tense and then up and braced in the neck and then he swaps. Sometimes quite cleanly today. :) It was like any excuse to swap and he would. So... I have to really work on getting that inside bend.... keep my outside leg WAY back into his stifle and ride haunches in... almost a half pass, but... don't block him with my inside seat bone.. keep that lifting... and still.. I could really only get 5 meters worth of counter canter. Sigh... even Kelly got on him and tried and he just.... he's looking for ANY excuse. I don't know if it's pain... resistance... ??? 

So.. my homework is to work on that inside bend on the right ribcage.

Also... at least 5 of the 95 transitions in a ride.. I need to FOCUS on not letting him pull me forward... that allows him to fall on his forehand and poop into the transition rather than glide like he's supposed to. SO... SIT UP AND HOLD THE REINS CONNECTED... :) 

So... we had some really nice canter. It's getting much more third level. Especially to the left. To the right.. he still wants to dive a little and not bend. Maybe Dr. Molony will see something in 2 weeks. He feels good though otherwise.. even Kelly thought so. 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

We Jump! We Stay on!

So.. I have got to figure out my life.. how to keep the migraines at bay and how to ride Dan more than 3 times a week. I rode Tuesday... and didn't get to. By Friday morning, Danny was literally doing his own gallop sets. I brought Emma out with me to feed and they got to playing tag and were galloping like crazies! Dan even had his alfafla sitting there and he just ignored it and played with Emma. Goofball! So I let him play for a minute, then took Emma in and changed and then we went to our lesson. Yay! So grateful that Kelly was able to rearrange her day and make it work. Mike and I went to Tennessee but we didn't leave til 1 pm, so I was able to sneak in my lesson. 

Kelly rearranged the jumps at Silverthorn and we played. We started out simple and progressive... not challenging yet. But she warned me it was coming up again soon. :) It was a great ride though. We started off with the basics. Is he in front of your leg? And yes... he was... then he wasn't, so we addressed it. It's just going to have to become a part of life. And... I will probably always have to close my leg and add one mile per hour more the last three or four strides to every fence but... Kelly pointed out that it's not a bad thing. It's a good thing because it makes him predictable. And... the answer is always Add Leg anyways, so... easy enough. :)  So we did that today and started with a triple. We started with the first fence and two ground poles and... then put it up. It was fun. We worked on my release too. Kelly wants me to get more of an automatic release. Which is exciting that we can get to that instead of focusing on surviving. Yay! BUT... I have to be careful because I tend to get floaty hands if I don't think about pressing them down. Then we put a course together and built but added two new fences at a time, instead of just one. And... I couldn't quite get the line right to the bendy 4 stride. I kept cutting it too wide and having to add the 5th stride. I was able to get 4 strides when I rode that line by itself, rather than having to make the harder turn off the grid. So... meh.. but I did it! And he was forward and going and it felt great!  It was a really fun ride and so helpful. And nice that we were able to incorporate some other stuff too. 

Things we learned: 

  • Is he in front of my leg? If no, reinforce
  • Does he STAY in front of my leg? If no, reinforce. (Yes, he won't go without stopping without me ever touching his side, but... he should maintain a fairly steady pace and not deflate without me having to nag him every stride)
  • With triples, he's going to lose some energy so realistically I should plan on adding more leg into the third fence.
  • Remember too, that as the course progresses, he'll (as does every horse) start to deflate.. .like a helium balloon. Hee hee. So I need to make sure that I keep him inflated throughout the course. When I walk it, I need to say to myself "okay, by here he'll deflate some and I have time to test my leg response and add the crop if I need to.... here's another spot"....
  • Progressing towards automatic release.... start by doing the crest release, then doing an opening rein to the right, then to the left. That gets my hands more independent so that I can start to then almost think of dropping them down and hugging him. I just have to be careful because I start to float them if they aren't pressing down.