To show or not to show…..

….that is the question. I just wanted to show you that I am a well rounded cultured person so I decided to get a little Shakespearian on you. Lol. I am really trying to make this decision though. I have had 2 jump lessons since my last riding post and I am really proud of them. Well, I am REALLY proud of the one and just regular proud of the second. Lol.

The lesson that I am REALLY proud of was on Friday. TS was at an away show so TD had to cover my lesson. TS is who most people think of as the “main” trainer at the barn because she is the one who still does the training rides and shows and because of that some people prefer to lesson with just her. I do love lessoning with TS but I also really love when I get to lesson with TD. Just because TD isn’t full time riding now doesn’t mean she hasn’t been there done that. She has a great show record but since they are sisters in this business TD focuses more on the management of the barn and not hardcore training aspect but she still knows her shit! Anyway, I really like riding with her sometimes because she sees different things than TS does. Plus I think that I emotionally connect with her a little more because I know that she has had some riding anxiety issues too. Like I said, she has shown it all but I think that she experiences a little anxiety like I do whereas TS is SUCH a confident rider.

Winifred was a little up because he hadn’t been ridden a lot while I was gone so of course my nerves were perked. We had the same super fun grid set up that we had a couple weeks ago (trot in to a 1 stride then to a 2 stride). Did the hunter course with that as our start and it went really well. Since he was so up we made him do the adds to keep him somewhat contained. He was pretty focused at the jumps but around each corner he was…..as J put it…..’animated’. Lol. I love the words we come up with when we want to describe a naughty horse without calling him naughty. As animated as he was on the corners and during his lead changes he became laser focused when he locked on to a fence.  J went then TD put some of the fences up higher and all the oxers up, looked at me and said, “ok I know that you have had some issues this winter but it is time to get over them now! You will do the same course and you WILL give me that EXACT same ride. The jump changes do not matter.”   And we did! Well… not quite the exact same. I did have a flub in the grid (thank you Winifred for being so damn athletic and saving our asses!). I was actually being too soft coming into the grid so instead of fully jumping the first fence he tripped over it but bless his athletic heart he was able to get us out without a single issue. TD said I could ride it again but I was so happy with the rest of the course and since it wasn’t my normal tipping issue I decided to end on that. I knew what I did wrong and it is an easy fix.

Tuesday we were back with TS. I was feeling good, Winifred was feeling good but then on our last line which was the diagonal home I made a critical mistake. We jumped in great but in my effort to be nice and soft with him I did not pull up fast enough to make the 5. We were clearly on a pace to do a 4 so I pulled up at our third stride and even when I did my thought was, “awe shit that was too late!” We ended up on the half stride, no big surprise there when your rider is a potato, and he slammed the breaks. I knew it was coming though and didn’t tip so I stayed on. TS knew that my thought was to be soft with him but she reminded me that you cannot be soft with him. If you are soft with him he will take advantage of you every time. Now I am not saying that you have to yank the crap out of his mouth every single time but you do need to have good contact and in this case more than just good contact because we were on the line headed straight for the exit. This is something that I know but I was so happy with how he had been I let that side of me falter just a little. I am happy though that I didn’t let it get to me. I gave myself credit for recognizing my problem and for sitting back so I didn’t fall off then I circled right around and jumped the line again this time taking control of him and doing the 5.

Now we return to the original question. We have a home, indoor show March 23-24th. Do I show? I asked TS after the lesson and I didn’t get the most positive answer. I got, “well what do you want to ride in?” She said that she was fine with me doing up to 2’3” but nothing bigger since we are just getting our groove back and haven’t done a ton. I was already questioning if I wanted to show because I do feel like we are just getting our confidence back and I am concerned that if it doesn’t go well I will be back to where I started. He is already a nervous horse, horse shows make it worse, and then indoor shows are even more terrifying to him. Let me change that, outdoor shows don’t really make him nervous he just gets very excited and when he gets excited his response is to RUUUUUNNNNNN! He loves jumping so much he just wants to get there sooner but that makes me nervous and that is when I tip. I just do not want to backslide just as I am making good progress. I talked a little with TD about this yesterday and she put me a little more at ease with first let’s just wait and see what the weather is like and second if we only do a warm-up class then, hey, we only do a warm-up class. What do you guys think? Should I risk the new confidence or wait until the show at the end of April show?

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This was us last year at this show. (Also hoping my pictures this year will be slimmer!)
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All Smiles :)

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My coffee mug perfectly sums up my day….. my week really. Winifred has had me grinning all week but last night’s lesson has got me on a total high! I will back up a little though and mention the cyclone bomb we had this week. No, I am not making that term up that is actually what the meteorologists called it on the news. We had 60mph winds this past Sunday which made me a bit skeptical about riding my nervous horse. Luckily our indoor is made of concrete so there was no siding to clank around but we do have 2 garage doors on 2 different walls. Those were moving and banging at any given time. Winifred was nervous but he really contained himself. I was so incredibly proud of him at one point when we were walking past the garage door and a particularly nasty gust hit. Win did jump and react more than the other two in the ring but for him, that was a super small reaction so I was proud. He did want to constantly be buddied up to Maestro (Stampy and the Brain). I commented that it was funny that the oldest horse in the ring was looking to the youngest for comfort. Kristen had a different take on the situation. She felt that Winifred was sticking close to Maestro because he knew he was much faster than Maestro so when the monster attacked Maestro would be the sacrifice. LOL

New halter, who dis?

On to even better riding things though. I was really looking forward to my lesson last night because I did not end up doing too much jumping last week. Ever since my surgery, I am very diligent on getting a monthly massage and adjustment. I always get them on Tuesdays and so far the only downside I have had was that a couple of times I was too relaxed. Lol. That actually can be a problem in the saddle though. My chiropractor usually stays away from my surgical spot but this time he pressed down right on it. He also adjusted my hips for the first time since we were talking about how my toes always point out and he said that he could help with that. (Such an equestrian moment, my toes have pointed out my whole life but I only mentioned it because my trainer has been hounding me about them lately.) Like always, I felt great when I left but then about an hour later I had horrible lower back pain. I tried to suck it up to ride but my pain was clearly apparent when TS asked, “Is there something wrong with you today? Why are you riding so weird?” She suggested that I stretch it out by 2-pointed and it helped a bit. When it came time to jump though I could only stand to do a few warmups and a line.

Oops got on a tangent when I was supposed to be talking about my amaze-balls jumping last night! My back was still a bit sore but not like the week prior and I was hell bent on doing more. Horse show season is upon us my friends and I already missed one home show! I am not sure if I will be ready for the March show but last night was a huge step in the right direction. First, TS had set up a nice gymnastic of a trot pole, X, one stride, X, 2 strides, vertical. The trot pole ended up adding an interesting element for Winifred. It really backed him off! This was great though because it forced me to ride 2 sides of my horse in one test. He was so backed off that I had to really push him into the first 2 jumps but then he was ready to run at the third jump and I had to sit back, hold him, and hold my body to make the 2-stride work. We did that a couple times then put our course together. The course had a couple pitfalls that we have been avoiding the past few months, long approach headed home and a diagonal line headed right to the exit. There were 3 of us jumping and for different reasons TS wanted everyone to add but commented to me that depending on how Win jumped in we might not be able to do the add on the diagonal home. OMG, our course was awesome!! The only thing in the course that was not in the plan was that I circled after the long approach to get a calmer trot to go into the combination. TS and I agreed that I could not enter that with the hot horse I had coming straight off that jump. The course ended with the combination to the diagonal home which was set at a 4-stride. Winifred jumped in pretty strong and wanted to go but I sat back and took control and forced him to do a 5!!! Obviously, for the shows, we will do the strides but right now I need to prove to myself and Win that I am in control! TS was so happy with that she was ready for us to be done but I asked if we could do one more challenge to prep for show season.

I can’t believe that it has been months since I have done an oxer. I was avoiding them more out of the cold on my older boy but then it started to become an obstacle in my mind. To avoid him getting too strong in the approach we decided to jump the in of the diagonal then left rollback to the oxer. So yeah, my in was pretty shitty because all I was thinking about was “bitch you better sit back approaching the oxer” and then forgot that I actually had to jump the first jump! I got caught behind and in my attempt to try to keep a softer release I ended up losing my left rein. Ok, folks that is bad enough on a regular horse, but let me explain why that is so much worse on Winifred. Winifred was a very accomplished jumper in the high point of his career (this is where his running comes from) which means that he can turn on a dime! I have done those turns and they are so much fun but his problem is that he is pretty confident that he knows exactly where to go to next and that is much worse when you just jumped a course but are now changing it. Below is a typical conversation between us when we go from a hunter course to an equitation course.

In the air over the jump:

Me: Hey Love we are going to turn left when we land.

Win: Yeah yeah don’t worry I see da jump in front of us.

Me: No bub we are going left to the oxer over there.

Win: Seriously, mom don’t worry I see dat straw bale.

Land, I pull HARD left, and attempt to block him with my right leg:

Me: WIN I said LEFT!

Win: This is so awesome mom I bet I can get to that jump in only 3 strides this time! TS was so happy with me last time she is going to love this!

Me: WINIFRED we are doing a rollback!

Win: Come on mom I KNOW that this is our next jump! Did you read the course map???

Me: WINIFRED JOSEPH YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW TO READ A COURSE MAP! We on an equitation course!!!!!

Win: OHHHHHH well why didn’t you say so?!?! I love equitation courses! Bending line next?

After that, any little shift of my body and he is on point. So knowing that is how it typically goes, really think now about the consequences of me dropping my inside rein. But praise Jesus, halleluiah, he listened to my body, turned, and I was able to regain my rein in time for a beautiful soar over the oxer! I swear we were in the air for 30 seconds. Ok, I know it was only like 2 seconds but it was amaze-balls! And let’s face it those 2 seconds where your horse lends you his wings so you can fly are why we deal with all the frustrations, bills, worries, sweat, blood, and tears. Those 2 seconds of perfect flight make up for all of that and the high from that can last for days. I know that I am definitely still on my high!

Proud Flesh

Luther some minor bad news last week. Nothing major, but he has now started to develop proud flesh on his puncture wound. In all my years with horses this is my first experience with proud flesh, so of course, I ran around asking everyone in sight what to do then stayed up late obsessively researching it. Lol. It is by no means bad enough to get cut off so I was looking for treatment I could do. Many people suggested Wonder Dust but there was some debate over wrapped or unwrapped. In the end, I decided to use Wonder Dust and continue wrapping. It is just so wet here and it keeps freezing and thawing so you never know when it is going to sloppy mud. After only 3 days his wound looked fantastic!!!

Before & After
The before is a little blurry so it is hard to tell but it was definitely developing proud flesh. Used Wonder Dust for 3 days and it looks so much better!

I have also been plopping around on him. The first time I was just being lazy and didn’t feel like hand walking so I just hopped on bareback with his blanket still on. If you ever get the joy of watching Luther go you will know that the first time you ask him to trot, no matter how he is feeling, he MUST protest!! This is just his thing he has to do to let you know that he feels that working is bull shit and he does not want to do it. Couple good jabs in his side though and he knows I mean business and moves forward. I also usually ride with spurs to get the forward movement and a crop which is used solely for when he bucks or tries to kill other horses (have I mentioned how special he is????? If I didn’t love him so much…..). Since we were not planning on doing much I didn’t grab either, so I was completely shocked when I asked him to trot and he went right into it! He was totally “Luther” sound! (aka stiff but sound) We did a few walk/trot/walk/trot transitions, and all was good until he decided another horse got too close. This is not new and didn’t concern me, but he usually gets a wack from the crop for that behavior but all I had was an empty thud of my spur-less legs on his side. My pony kick stopped him alright and I shit you not he turned his head, looked right at me, and you could see the recognition in his brain, “Ha mom doesn’t have a single weapon!” And that was the end of me getting Luther to move forward! LOL! For real, he is a pain in the ass but I love him so much!

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Wait da minute I thought I was retired!
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I wish I was as confident that spring is coming as Luther is!

Blue Jacket of Death

I am getting real sick of Mother Nature lately! As I mentioned in my previous post, we had another ice storm last week which knocked out our power. Power was restored on Wednesday, but It was still so slick outside that no one from my barn rode since we have to walk across the driveway to get to the indoor. We definitely have trade-offs between the two barns on our property. The “old” barn is attached to the indoor so that is nice during winter or raining but the “new” barn has heat, wash racks, and IMO is just beautiful. To me the walk is worth the extra amenities in the new barn.

Thursday, I got on to flat and between lack of turn out and his last ride being Saturday, I had one fresh boy! He was super though. No spooking but left to his own devices his only gates were extended gates. Lol. The ring was decently busy when I got on but cleared out enough at the end that I opened him up and let him hand gallop. He just gets so happy doing it and as long as he is good, meaning I still have brakes and steering, I do not mind letting him have some fun. That much hand galloping lead to a pretty chill Friday.

We lessoned on Saturday to make up for missing our Tuesday lesson. Like our flat on Friday he started out pretty chill. It was so pleasant until………… the blue jacket of DEATH!!!! Before I go any farther let me clear up that I and no one else in the lesson (except for her sister cause you know sisters) blame the owner of the jacket. ABSOULTELY DO NOT blame her!!! Ok, that disclaimer is finished. Back to the story, there is a corner in our indoor where there are benches and straw bales for people to sit and watch. It is also a place where many people place their coolers and jackets. So, this sweet junior rider took her jacket off and dropped it on a straw bale. I saw it and knew I needed to be prepared because Winifred spooks at anything over there. What we didn’t expect is that every single horse in there lost their minds over this jacket! Even my friend, C, who’s one major reason for buying her horse was that he does not spook, and he even was like “aw hell no!” Winifred just could not function. When it was clear that Winifred was not getting over it, TS picked up the jacket and put it on a jump standard. You would think that it was over, right? Well, you would be wrong. He still kept trying to bolt from that corner so, of course, I forced him to circle over and over down there. Lol. The thing that I thought was hilarious was that he was going within 2’ of the jacket on the standard and had no issues but the empty corner was still terrifying. I finally got him to the point that he was just nervous down there and not full on bolting, so I took it as a win.  He is such a silly boy.

Now on to jumping. I was feeling confident but after the jacket incident I started to get nervous, but for real, there was no reason for that. Winifred was amaze-balls. We didn’t do too much because the lesson was huge and running late plus I am jumping again today. We basically just did a couple mini courses. TS wanted to keep him quiet after the jacket fiasco and our first line she wanted us to do an add which was a 6. He was SO quiet and SO lazy we got a double add! WWHHHAAAATTT?!?!?! Yes, let me repeat, we got a double add!!!! We also had 2 long approaches which is where he really likes to build but he stayed right where I wanted him! It was awesome! Hopefully, tonight goes just as good.

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Anyone else use your horse’s ear as a hook for your reins? Lol

That was ok, but I’m ok with ok

Had my first jumping lesson in weeks last night. It has just been too cold the last couple of weeks. As you know, I have been fighting with a mental block on my jumping ability. Winifred has always tried to run at the fences but I used to be able to handle it. It took a few times of him running at the fences then slamming the breaks so that I jumped the jump and he stayed on the other side. The last time was September and I hurt my knee. Ever since then I have been paralyzed by fear which has completely removed my ability to adjust, see a spot, and believe in said spot. My nerves before my lesson were perked when I watched the lesson before mine struggle with the gymnastic TS put up. I like to watch this lesson because it has all of A show and big eq riders in it and I can learn from them. Last night though watching them struggle through the grid got my nerves up. The strides were big strides and all but two of them ended up having to add a stride.

On to our lesson….. Our flat was going well. It was obvious that Win was in a forward mood but in a good way. We did have a mini freak out though when the cat entered the ring as we were cantering past the door. (Ever since last year when that cat jumped out of the tree at us Winifred is petrified of cats. Lol). Not only have I been struggling with my jumping the other person jumping with me has a new lease horse that she has been struggling with a little so TS kept them LOW. For real three of our jumps were pony kid Xs, two were 2’3″ and the last was 2′. It is funny because the girl jumping with me is struggling with almost exactly the same thing as me. C is a good rider but is letting her nerves get the best of her when her horse gets a little strong with her. Does that ring a bell????? While we have the same struggles our horses prefer two completely different rides. I need to sit hard and keep constant contact with his mouth whereas her horse wants you off his back and a light rein.

I am very fortunate that K from Stampy and the Brain secretly filmed us. Our first line was pony X to pony X in a 6. You can’t see my first jump in the video but he jumped huge which meant I had to take a strong hold to make sure I got the 6 and not a 5. Then around to a verticle which felt like a total flyer. It doesn’t look as bad as it felt but I definitely popped him in the mouth but in my defense, he was trying to run away a bit. He was pretty pissed at me after that but eventually came down to a nice trot without having to circle before the gymnastic. (Those cute bay legs that you see is Maestro.) Remember when I said the riders in the lesson before had to add, well you can see from his head toss that he was pissed I didn’t let him drop a stride. (I will add that the lesson before was a canter in for a 2 stride and TS made our’s a trot in for a 3 but he was pretty sure he could show up the other horses and do a trot in for a 2.) Our last fence was a long approach to a small 2′. He really wanted to launch himself at it but I decided that he needed to listen to me and take another stride so I buried him into the fence. It worked out though. So, in the end, the course was ok, but right now I am ok with ok. Since show season is starting we need to start getting better than just ok. We actually have a schooling/rated show (mostly schooling classes but there will be rated medal classes) this weekend but I will be announcing instead of riding. I just don’t think we are I am ready to jump around at 2’6″ and TS won’t let me compete in the cross rails division! Rude, right?!?! Here is last night’s ok course:

And a nostalgic video (quality is not great) of us at a show last August when I could ride my horse. You can’t hear the full conversation but someone must have said something about Mr. Pyscho Pants’s running cause you hear TD comment “better settle down, settle down, settle down, settle down this is a retired jumper”. Lol

Quick update on Luther is all good news. Still getting his meds, walking, and cleaning/wrapping his wound. Monday, when I took his previous bandage off it, was full of gross discharge, even more than the days before. Yesterday (Tuesday) though this bandage was clean and smell has gone down significantly. His bandage still reeked but I had to bring it to my face to smell it whereas before all I had to do was put my head down to his shoulder and the smell hit you in the face.

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Looking MUCH better! No more oozing! (Now please stay that way!)
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The only fun thing about wound care is picking out fun vet wrap. Lol

Stinky Microbes

 

I know, I know, a post yesterday and TWO blog posts in one day is a bit excessive but today is a good day!

 

As I said in Surviving, BO and I decided last night that it was time to call the vet for Luther’s wound. I have been working so hard to clean it out but the smell was still there and since Wednesday I was able to stick the syringe up into the wound and the solution went into his leg it was clear that it is a puncture wound and not a regular one like we first thought. A puncture wound directly on his joint that continued to smell bad had me worried. BO called the vet this morning he was able already out in our area.

The vet was also concerned for the same reasons I was and wanted to get some pictures. The x-rays showed that it clearly was a puncture wound. It was VERY close to his joint but the trajectory went just to the side of it. The funny thing is that he did have a couple of small scrapes closer to his hoof that I cleaned originally but didn’t think twice about, one of those was also a puncture wound and it did touch his bone.  But even that was not terrible. He was not sure why it smelled as bad as it does other than it is a particularly nasty microbe that infected the wound. He was completely on board with the regime we had started of daily cleaning, keeping it wrapped, SMZ twice a day, and bute nightly. The only changes that he made were to remove the bute since the swelling was gone and he was moving just fine and to do the SMZ for a full 30 days and not the 10 that we had planned. The increase in days was because extra stinky microbes usually mean they are extra nasty. He also wants him moving a lot so hand walking daily is now in the routine too.

I have to admit having the vet tell me that what I did so far was perfect treatment has me like:

I call him my Grumpy Old Man but after this ordeal that might need to change to my Stinky Old Man.

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Call me anything you want as long as you bring me cookies.