3 years ago fresh off the track-
So I haven’t been posting on this blog as much as I would like lately, and it really just comes down to the fact that nothing fun, exciting, or noteworthy has been happening in my equestrian life. It’s only really fun to post things that are “cool” and not as much fun to discuss the daily minutiae and/or struggles.
But after some thinking, I realized the daily minutiae is something all of us equestrians face week to week month to month, and one thing we all have in common no matter how long you have been riding, what your goals are, or how high you jump.
After I finally curated all my show outfits this winter and we were ready to go, the spring and early summer have failed to live up to my plans and expectations full of Hunter pacing and doing all the shows. This is pretty much due to my horse being a pro-level self injurer. I have been left feeling really disappointed sitting on the sidelines.
And to add insult to injury, from not really riding and from not jumping at all for a while, I am finding myself feeling scared of things that used to be “normal” for me.
I watched videos yesterday of my horse and I jumping courses from last summer and the thought of doing them makes my heart beat a little faster and my chest feel slightly like I can’t breathe. I know both my horse and I are physically capable, so I just want to kick myself.
Little spooks that used to make me chuckle now make me want to go ride in the indoor where there are no distractions. Trails I used to gallop down now make me so nervous I want to take a chokehold on my horse’s face (which obviously makes things better….. NOT)
Needless to say, I am admitting that I have really been riding the struggle bus.
Has anyone else been there? Secrets to exiting the struggle bus and becoming braver!?
I have been seriously slacking on this blog, but alas life just has a habit of getting in the way. I just got back from the Rolex Three Day event so that definitely deserves its own post, which I will hopefully get to in the next few days.
For now, I’ll leave this comparison here- Mabou the first year I had him to now, two years later.
It has been quite a while since I have posted with any kind of regularity, or at all. I have been too busy spending all my money on my horse, and not for the fun kind of reasons. I also was just generally frustrated as we weren’t able to take lessons, fox hunt at all, or make any kind of progress due to everything.
When I last posted in October, it was a complete bitch fest about the string of crappy things that happened to both Mabou and me that made us unable to ride. To summarize for those who don’t want to read all that whining- Mabou bruised his ankle on a trailer ramp, and his mystery SI or other problem continued to intensify, where he began bucking every time he cantered left, which culminated in me getting bucked off and breaking my left hand not once but twice (yes the second time was about a week after the first one healed….. I cannot express how fun that was).
In addition to the riding issue, since he started this problem he always stood very close behind and resting the right hind. Again, this didn’t really help to diagnose him but it was something that I noticed.
I had gotten to the point where he was having a massage every week, chiropractor every two weeks, and I had two different vets look at him (along with the chiro who is also a vet). Neither vet could find anything wrong with him. He flexed perfectly, all his X-rays looked great, and even though I kept saying I thought it was an SI issue, they kept telling me that it appeared to be fine since he wasn’t sensitive to palpation there.
The chiropractor thought the issue was somewhere near the lumbar sacral or sacroiliac joint but his adjustments were not holding. The only thing that seemed to give him relief was electro acupuncture.
It got to a point that it was suggested to me that perhaps it was a behavioral issue and he just didn’t want to work, or canter left or something like that. I know my horse, and that is not like him at all, he actually enjoys working and is not a mean guy, so I was pretty set that something was wrong. After a week trial of 1 gram of bute twice a day returned him to my perfect pony, it was basically confirmed there was something wrong with him, just that nobody knew what it was.
I decided to bite the bullet and take him to our local veterinary hospital for a bone scan, hoping that it would at least indicate where the problem was and then ultrasound or other diagnostics could be done from there as needed. He would have to stay for 2 days, to allow for the radioactive isotopes he would get injected with for the scan to get out of his system.
My trainer and I dropped him off on a Thursday morning and then I went to work, with directions from the hospital that they would call me at 5 with his scan results. That day seriously dragged and I can’t say I was productive at work. After an eternity, they called and the result- his left SI was very severely inflamed. The vet told me that normally in a bone scan, or nuclear scintigraphy, when they take the overhead view of the hind end, the SI is blocked by the pelvis and doesn’t show in the scan. His was so bad that it actually lit up through the pelvis!
I can’t even tell you how relieved I was. It was exactly as I suspected all along, and no other issues were found anywhere! So he had both sacroiliac joints injected via ultrasound guided injections on Friday morning and then we picked him up Friday afternoon to go home. Three days off with turnout and then he can return to his regular work and should feel like a million dollars.
Poor guy was generally really irritable when we got him home Friday, but I really can’t blame him, he had been through a solid day of testing and being poked and prodded and two whole days of no turnout, in isolation, sedated, and twitched. (He has bruises on his nose from the twitching which breaks my heart but it was for his own good)
Hopefully now I will have my fun horse back, and I can actually start posting fun horse things again. I renewed my USEF and USHJA memberships back in December, in the hope that we would be showing again this year, and it looks like that was good luck or something. For now we will concentrate on growing back the two bald spots on him that the hospital shaved for the injections (they are to the skin bald!!).
If I could go back in time I would have gone for the bone scan immediately rather than wasting months trying to figure it out with vets chiro etc. It would have actually been cheaper in the long run.
Here’s to a 2016 filled with fun and ribbons.
After anxiously waiting all summer for fall to come and hunt season to begin again, two weekends ago our first outing finally arrived. We were invited to go with a friend and her green horse as “babysitters” to ride slowly in the back of the field with her and give her horse a good experience.
We were only hound walking, which is essentially a trail ride with the pack of hounds, and helps to get the hounds fit for hunting.
The morning comes, I wake up and arrive at the barn nice and early, groom and tack up (the horses are shipped to hunt outings with saddles on so you just put bridle on and go once you arrive at the fixture).
For the past few years, Mabou has been traveling to everything in my trainer’s big rig, which has 8 foot ceilings. When he went to walk on to friends two horse trailer he hit his head, and I could tell that was going to be it for him.
In one of his running to escape going into what he thought was too small for him episodes he stepped/fell off the side of the loading ramp to the right, but seemed fine otherwise. He wouldn’t go on, and I didn’t want to make an issue and give him a bad experience, so everyone went off that day and we stayed behind.
Once I got on and went to ride I realized he was pretty damn lame. Never a dull moment. After thoroughly having a pity party for myself at missing out AND having a now lame horse, I thoroughly checked his legs and found no cuts, heat, etc. (he had been wearing open front boots and bell boots when he was being loaded)
After he was still lame the next day, we called the vet out to make sure there wasn’t a soft tissue injury. Thankfully, it’s just a heel bruise! We also took x Rays, because my chiro wanted me to so that farrier can confirm his break over point.
So thankfully now we just wait for the heel bruise to heal. Good timing actually (as if there ever was a good time for an injury) because the end of this week husband and I are going to Ireland and then Germany for Oktoberfest. So pony gets to be spoiled by my mom and stuffed with carrots and heal while we are gone, then I can start him back up again.
Some time ago I read Nicole’s post on Zen and the Art of Baby Horse Management regarding the trust bank, and recently this concept has really been resonating with me. Basically, the trust bank is a concept that you have an imaginary bank of trust between you and your horse. Each time you do something right, and improve your horse’s confidence in you, you make a deposit into the bank. Each time you do something wrong, be it totally botch a distance to a jump that your horse has to save you (totally guilty of this one), or lose your patience during a ride, you withdraw from the bank.
As of the past month, I have really been working on being in the moment with each ride (inspired by Emily’s post on the Exquisite Equine), and riding the horse that I have, not the horse that I want. I have also focused on being positive, practicing an insane amount of patience, and just really being the rider that I continually strive to be.
I am not going to say that it was totally easy. There were some rides where I had a rough day at work or other stress and we just hacked out that day on the buckle and did no real work, because I knew that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. However, I think that by doing all of the above, I have made significant deposits into my “trust bank” with Mabou.
He normally takes his time moseying over to me when I go to bring him in for our rides. But the past couple of weeks he sees me walking up to his paddock and is at the gate right when I get there. He is always a happy horse, but he just seems so much more content, and much more willing to try since he has realized that I am not going to pick fights with him over little things that aren’t going well in my rides, even when we work on our more difficult flatwork, or things that we may be struggling with.
Even more, I am enjoying my rides so much when I get myself into the right mental state of gratitude. It is so rewarding to celebrate the good in each ride (however small) rather then let myself ruminate on the things that I couldn’t get right each ride. I genuinely hope that if I keep this up long enough then I won’t have to try and I will eventually become second nature.
Does anyone else also believe in the “trust bank” with your horse?