Friday, January 31, 2020

Worth it!

 I almost didn't ride today. I woke up at 5 am with a migraine... was finally sleeping well, for the first time in weeks.. when my alarm went off at 8:30. Kelly had texted cancelling my lesson since it was raining. Ugh... so I sat in bed for a few minutes messing with my phone. I realized that if I wanted to currently looked like the 10-noon time was going to be my best bet so I got up and went and fed. But.. it's COLD! And WET. And miserable. Like... really cold, seep into your bones icky damp cold. So I left them in their stalls and came inside and ate breakfast. And then I sat on the computer and debated staying home and doing stuff. Only I just wanted to nap. Not do stuff. I'm tired.... soooo tired. But then I came across a friend who had ridden in the rain. And she mentioned rewarding herself with a cup of hot chocolate, so.. I decided to go! And I'm so glad I did. 

I put on my warm riding clothes and off we went. Poor Dan had to go naked because I didn't want his quarter sheet to create any muscle soreness or alter his gait at all (ie.. I wanted to assess his injections and see if they were working). So he was a bit cold and amped up. Then because of the show tomorrow there was a port-a-potty and 3 tents up in the jump arena.. and Caroline was up there moving things, so Dan was on high alert. I figured I'd go up and visit and say hi for our warm up hack but Dan was on edge so... we didn't get that close. ha ha! We started off in the XC field and once we entered the open space he spun and tried to bolt... twice. I never saw a real reason. Goober. So then we got to the edge of the XC field and he saw the tent and toilet and froze. I tried to calm him and let him breathe and asked him to go investigate and he said no. So.. after her calmed down a little I let him turn and I thought we would go back towards the arenas and try again. Still NOPE. ha ha. OH well, fine.. let's just go dressage then. So we did. It was interspersed randomly with halts and stares when Caroline made noise or another truck pulled in or... whatever. But we got through it. I just let him look for a few and then gently nudged him back to work. He was a little bit braced in the head and neck... not really braced, but not the nice "chandelier swingy hanging head" feel. We got some nice work though. And guess what?!! We got back our counter canter to the right! We started with a shallow loop and then made it steeper on try 2. As we got back to true canter he half swapped, but I pulled him down to a trot quickly and carried on... and then we just went for the full 3 loop and he held it!! Whooo hooo! Then I let him lengthen down centerline and we quit. Prior to that we also did some leg yields at the trot, half pass at the trot, canter lengthen, and stretchy work and trot serpentines. Good boy.

Then we tried again to go say hi to Caroline. And this time we succeeded! :) It took a bit and he was super snorty and about to jump out of his skin! Man.. side note... his butt looks great and he muscled up but boy is taut and tight!!  :) Anyways.. we finally got over the tent fear and walked past (way off to the side past it, but past it) and said hi to Caroline. Then we hacked down to the lake and then back because it was too freaking cold to stay out longer! Good boy!

And I did have hot chocolate when I got home! And King Cake :) so yay!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Sneaking one in...

Rough week, but.... decided to sneak one in today. Would have been more productive at Ashland, but.. way too much to do.... so.. this sufficed. :)  We didn't do a ton... started with our stretching.. then did some trot leg yields and some haunches in and shoulders in. Then some canter. Then got BOTH of our counter canter shallow serpentines. :) Yay. Then a tiny bit more trot work and then a cool down. Then I adjusted him and did a little bit of myofascial work. :) Hope it helps!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

At last!!!!

Okay, so it was only 1 week without riding, but...gah!!! It was a WEEK... WITHOUT riding!!! I was pretty certain I might end up regretting it, because... let's face it.. Dan hasn't been ridden in a week, he is on previcox and muscle relaxers and just had his SI joints injected... it's a little chilly and brisk and the sun is out.... BUT.. he was pretty good! Oh, and he had to stand (semi-) still for the farrier for 1.5 hours this morning before we went for our ride. So.. props to him! :)

We didn't have a ton of time after the farrier but we had enough time for a light ride, per the doctors orders. And I'll be honest.. I'm exhausted... flat out just... done. I'm sure some of it is hormones... some of it is just the non-stopness that is my life.... add in moving a whole jump course of standards Sunday, plus painting the bathroom, plus spreading 400 lbs of fertlizer and then yesterday I adjusted 12 horses. So... I was just tired. And not feeling great lately... head aches and my back is killing me, as is my shoulder and wrists. So.... a nice easy hack was what I was hoping for. And it's about what we got. :) Mostly.

We started off down the path between the two small lakes towards the Gray Barn. I was putting my gloves on and all of sudden Dan spooked hard right. Hard!! Like, I almost flung off hard. Then he was like "oh.. just kidding". It was a hole... with a mud puddle. To be fair, it wasn't there the last time we were on this path. So we continued on and he was a goober. He kept stopping and turning to stare at the horses at Ashland. Like... would walk a few steps, then spin and stare. We did a few hills and trotted some. And then we cantered some. Yay!! I missed that! Yes... in a week... I know, I'm so deprived. ;) So then we finally headed back up to the XC field to head home. I was pretty tired. BUT I did want to get in my 5 downwards because I noticed that I kept letting him pull the reins from my hands in our downwards and... I'm a good student and do my homework. So we had 3 done, but in the XC field I went to get the last two. Ha ha.. He was a goober! He wasn't bolting, but he was forward! So I managed to get the last two downwards and then he felt so good I let him have another canter. And then he scooted out from under me and "bolted" a few strides. He came back but it took a little bit and then he spun and looked. I didn't see anything... and he admitted that there really wasn't anything either. But then he was all edgy and jumpy walking back to the trailer. Goofball! 

But it felt great to be back out. And by the end of our ride the sun had warmed things up nicely and it was quite toasty! Oh, and... ha ha! I really am tired.. I realized I put my browband on upside down on Sat when I was cleaning tack and didn't even realize it when I tacked him up. It wasn't until halfway through my ride when I was taking a photo that I realized it. And that was only because his forelock was wonky and I couldn't figure out why it wasn't behaving. Umm..... because your browband is now a tiara. :) But... Princess deserves a tiara so... :) .... if the crown fits... ;) 

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....

Edited to add the professional photos :) He looks quite snazzy :)

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. :)