We have been pretty lucky with our winter so far but this week we are getting hit hard. I have been riding but while I am not what I would consider a fair weather rider I am a bit more cautious about jumping in this than others. No judgment on anyone else! I think everyone knows their own horse and what they can handle. Winifred is 19 this year and I just do not think he needs to be doing too much. For example this past week our jumping consisted of just a few warm-up fences and a line. He was pretty sure that he could have done more and even tried to drop a stride in our line but one of us has to watch out for him. Lol.
I flatted him on Sunday and he was definitely on edge. It was cold and he is pretty sure the light spots in the arena in the afternoon are lava spots that are going to melt his hooves off if he steps on them. Silly boy! He will be getting this week off though cause NO ONE is safe riding in -45! Hand walking only this week.
Dealing with the weather alone was not enough for Luther so he decided to throw leg infection in there too. Saturday our BO told me that he came in with blood on his front legs. We think that he must have been standing on ice, broke through, and cut his legs. I cleaned up the cuts and he seemed fine. Sunday it looked the same but I came out yesterday and holy sh$t his right leg was HUGE!! No heat but the smell coming from the cut was like road kill in the summer. The cut was also oozing nasty discharge. His left front was a little swollen too but nothing like the right which was swollen from his pastern to up past his knee. Luckily, my BO and family are amazing. I didn’t have my leg wraps because I took them home to wash and my iodine disappeared from my tack box. One of my barnmates gave me her wraps and iodine and my BO had antibiotics on hand. He is on SMZ twice a day and I am cleaning and wrapping. Oh and I am also praying! He is my old man and I worry when anything like this happens. Lol.
Went out there this afternoon and I am pleased to see that the swelling has gone down quite a bit but the smell is still horrid. I was too freaked out to remember to take pictures last night but here are some pics from a couple of hours ago.
Ok, ok I know that it is actually Monday but I just have not logged on this weekend. I have been fighting a bad case of bronchitis and losing. Lol. My only energy has been used to go to the barn cause priorities yo.
Well, this week did not go so well for my weight loss. I did stay on plan but I lost nothing, nada, not a thing! Of course, I am not happy about it but I also am trying to not get mad. As I said I have been crazy sick and have been on drugs including steroids. With my autoimmune disease, any stress to my body and it clings on to fat like a dryer sheet to your underwear.
Finnley has been a bit stir crazy. I am starting to feel somewhat better but now we are looking at -36 wind chill so we will not be going out to play this week either. Poor guy! Also, poor me cause no riding this week! Hand walking only at this temperature.
Another great weight loss this week. I know that it has to slow down but damn I am enjoying this pace! Lol. I am feeling better but I am wondering when I am going to start to see the change. Not for a while, I am guessing with my weight but in my lesson this week I was strong enough to stay up in the 2-point the entire time without wanting to sit my fat ass down. I will take that as a win!
Week: -5.8lb Total: -16.6lb
(I was incorrect last week when I said I was down 5lb. I heard my doctor wrong. I was down 6 last week for a total of 10.8)
There are a million things that equestrians obsess about when it comes to our horses. Some of them are seasonal such as right now there is not a day that goes by in our barn that someone isn’t standing in front of their stall yelling down the aisle, “what blanket are you putting on your horse tonight?” or “has anyone heard the weather report?” Then there is always the wind debate. “Well it is supposed to be 40 but the winds are going to be crazy so should I add an extra layer?” AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! I could do an entire post on the constant blanketing questions but this post is not about that.
This post is about knowing that your horse is “off” but you just can’t figure out what it is. Because they can’t talk to us we have to play investigator when there isn’t an obvious ailment. We care for these animals day in and day out. We know their bodies, their personalities, the way they move, and when something isn’t right hopefully we can identify it quickly but sometimes it can be a bit harder and if you are like me you obsess about what could be wrong. Right now I am obsessing if there is something wrong with Winifred and, if so, what can I do to help him get back to 100%.
I flatted Winifred in a lesson on Friday. It was cold but not crazy cold. Right from the start, he was a little lazy. If you know my boy you know that I will never complain about Mr. Crazy Pants being lazy. He was moving fine so I just went on thinking it was just a nice break from his usual hyperness. My first clue though was when I asked for the extended trot and he just plain said, “no”. He wasn’t nasty about it at all and he was still trotting but I was not able to move him out at all. Extending the trot normally is his 3rd favorite thing in life (1st is jumping and 2nd is cantering). Again, the trot he was giving me did not indicate any type of lameness though. His right lead canter was good. I had to push a little more than normal but he went around with his amazingly smooth rocking horse canter. His left lead canter started just like the right but after a couple of times around the ring his head started to get heavier and heavier in my hands then at one point he started to turn his head sideways just slightly so that his nose was going towards the right. I picked his head up a bit and he responded but 3 or 4 strides later he did it again. He has never done that. The first thing that came to my mind was that maybe he was gassy since he let out a pretty gross wet fart the ride before. After the lesson I mentioned it but no one else noticed anything wrong with him.
He had Saturday off and then we flatted by ourselves on Sunday. I had to change up my riding schedule so I am now riding earlier in the day which puts the sun in a different position creating beams of light through the windows. Winifred was not sure about the new bright spots on the ground and was pretty peppy our whole ride. Not that I loved him being spooky but I did love that he was not heavy in my hands and no weird sideways head issues.
He had Monday off and then last night (Tuesday) was our jumping lesson. It was very cold yesterday so I expected a hyped up horse and right from the moment I got him out of his stall I knew I was right. We have a new boarder and this was the first time she was riding with us. I really like her horse and since she is a mare Winifred really likes her too. Lol. Pretty sure he was gelded late in life cause he tends to get a bit studdy around some mares especially new ones so that added to his “alertness”. We also had a pretty good size chain reaction of spooking when another horse spooked at TS walking into the ring. Winifred was up but besides the every now and then small spook (he likes to juke a little sideways but nothing big it is kind of funny actually) he was being a good boy. He was moving out without excessive help from me and carrying his head nicely. Once we moved to the second direction though I could feel a change in him. I had to keep a good amount of leg on him to keep him moving. Then when we cantered it took all the leg I had to stop him from breaking and suddenly I had to hold his head up for him again. It was noticeable enough this time that TS saw it. She said at that point he was looking a little stiff too but nothing major. I took him over a small X a couple of times and the mechanics were all there but he just didn’t have his gusto effort over it.
So now I am left with the question, “is something wrong?” I can tell you that even though I am a major worry wart, I am 100% certain that if there is something wrong it is nothing major. But major or not I want to make sure he is feeling the best he can. So here are some of my ideas:
He has a little bug that is just making him feel under the weather.
Something in his mouth is bothering him.
His neck and/or back needs an adjustment.
He is 19 years old, it is cold in Michigan, and he is just feeling his age for the very first time.
In the past, I have done Finnley Fridays and he just too cute so I have to continue that but I am also going to add a bit about my weight loss journey on Fridays. I know that this is a horse (and a bit of puppy) blog but for me, weight is part of my riding. Plus they say that being accountable helps keep you on track and what is more accountable than posting weekly for all of you to see. Every Friday along with cute Finnie pics I will also post my weight loss (and I am sure some gains) for the week and then my total. I started this journey on 12/31 so I have had 2 full weeks.
I know that MHJA year-end awards banquet was back in November but I did not post about it. I am having a pretty crappy week and I find myself thinking about happier things so I thought I would remember and share that night with you. Even though we had some rough moments and were not able to ride in finals we ended up with some decent year-end ribbons: 5th Primary Adult Hunter (Winifred is not a hunter so this was a shocker! We missed 4th by only 1 point.), 4th Primary Adult Eq O/F, 6th Primary Adult Eq OTF, 6th Intermediate Adult Eq OTF, 6th Intermediate Adult Medal. Not bad for only 2 shows. (I did a couple more shows but only did the unrated classes.)
But even better than that was a fun night of getting all fancied up great friends. I always find it funny how hard it is to recognize some of my competitors when they look like “normal” people. Overall our bard did OUTSTANDING this year!!
I have not posted in so long because I did not feel like I had anything to post about. In reality, it is because I have been a little a lot disappointed in my riding. At last, I left we were on the struggle bus with me tipping and Winifred stopping.
Well, the stopping theme continued into finals back in September. TS was schooling us the day before the show and we continued to struggle. This time though there was something about the one line that Winifred didn’t like. Him hitting the breaks without me tipping was not something he had ever done before but there was just something about the diagonal line that he didn’t like. He refused the in, circled and got him over it, he then refused the out, circled and got him over it, then came back around and did them but he was nervous. He was fine with the other jumps though and TS assured me that I was not jumping ahead. Ok, she did say at the one I was about 2 seconds early but not enough to warrant a stop.
We then went to practice an eq course and when I rolled back to the out of the diagonal I did totally jump ahead. I landed on the other side and Winifred did not. Ultimately, it was not what I would say was a bad fall but bad luck for me. I blew my right knee out 7 years ago. I tore my ACL, MCL, meniscus on both sides, and dislocated my patella playing football (but, hey, I scored the touchdown!). I ended up having to have two surgeries to repair it. One year and four days after the incident I was playing football again and tore my ACL AGAIN! The surgeon told me that he could fix it, but the recovery would be worse this time and he would tell me to stop playing sports or I could live my life with a torn ACL (as long as my knee remained stable) and quit playing sports. Since it was stable, and the outcome was the same no matter what, I decided not to have surgery and I quit playing football and basketball. In the last 6 years my knee has slipped out maybe a handful of times but always went right back into place. I am generally sore for a couple of days but then it is ok. So back to my bad luck fall….. I landed on my right leg in a twisting motion which caused my knee dislocated. I straightened it and it went back into place, but I was not getting back in the saddle right then. TS asked my friend, J, to hop on Winifred to make him do that line again. Now J is by far one of the best riders in our barn. She has mad skills, especially with tough rides. I was excited to see her on Win and completely surprised when he refused with her too. (Not gonna lie I felt slightly vindicated that he stopped with her too!) Unlike me though she was completely unphased and forced him down the line after that without a single moment of hesitation after the refusal.
I was pretty sore the next day, but I thought I would at least see how my knee would hold up. I was already having trouble flatting. I could not keep my lower leg steady but still tried a couple of schooling jumps. Both times I landed my knee collapsed. I just was not able to hold myself up over the fence so I had to scratch finals.
I ended up taking two weeks off from jumping because my knee was just not healing up as fast as it had in the past. I guess that is from a combination that it was a pretty good dislocation and that I am getting old! When I started jumping again TS and I decided to go back to the basics to get both my physical and mental game back. I then took a couple more weeks off in October because I went to South Korea. When I came back we were still doing just mini-courses for a few weeks. Knowing that TS was also on board with me going back to basics really took the pressure off of me and brick by brick my confidence has been growing. We are back to doing full courses and just last week after a particularly technical course and TS saying that it was the best she has seen us jump in 3 months I asked her if we can start to raise the fences again. My next lesson is tomorrow so we shall see how that goes.
So, what am I doing to try and fix my riding????? The top thing I am focusing on outside of the saddle is my weight. Over the past 2 years my doctor and I have tried diet plan after diet plan after diet plan and all I have done is gain weight. I do have an auto-immune disease that affects my thyroid so that doesn’t help but my doctor finally threw up her hands, said that she gives up, and sent me to see a diet specialist. I have been on the new eating and supplement plan since 12/26 and I have lost nearly 8lbs! My new doctor thinks that she can have me down 125lbs by the end of October. I think that is a bit of a stretch, so I am focusing on smaller goals like being down 20lbs for Miami in mid-February and then another 30lbs for Thailand in June. Winifred is great and carries me well but there have been times when TS said I tipped when I really did not feel like I was. It hit home when she commented that I am top heavy so any little bit of leaning forward makes a big difference. (Please note that she was in NO way being mean about my weight, but it is the truth.) I have never been the skinny girl, but I did use to have an athletic body. Having Hashimoto’s definitely affects my ability to lose weight but so far, the supplement and food plan combination my new doctor has me on is helping. Fingers crossed it continues to help. Losing weight will improve so many facets of my life including riding!
Riding outside in Michigan in January AND a calm Winifred!?!? You will have to excuse my sniffles though but what do you expect in January? Lol