Is something wrong?

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:

  1. He has a little bug that is just making him feel under the weather.
  2. Something in his mouth is bothering him.
  3. His neck and/or back needs an adjustment.
  4. He is 19 years old, it is cold in Michigan, and he is just feeling his age for the very first time.
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Or maybe he just needs more kitty snuggles to make him feel better. 

 

 

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Hello Again

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.

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My braider could not figure out how he pulled the end of his braid through like this! Special!

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.

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Even though we didn’t show I could not resist taking pictures of him since he was already braided.

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

Shenanigans, Maintenance, and a little Jumping update

Are you a good news or bad news first kind of a person? Actually, no “real” bad news but let’s start with a laugh today anyhow. 20180823_1111526905890497022580135.jpg

So, of course, I had to walk my happy ass out into his paddock to find them. Two of which were in nice solid grassy areas but the third was dead smack in the middle of a mud pit! At one point I actually lost my shoe and had to reach in to find it!

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Luckily, I did find them though. How does he do these things???

The not so great has been my jumping. I am still on the struggle bus and mess up at least one jump a lesson. And I don’t mean “oh that spot could have been smoother” mess up I mean we just crashed that fence mess up! This past lesson it was only one though. We were doing a figure 8 pattern and stumbled over the jump headed home cause he got quick, I thought he was taking off so I tipped a bit, he said no, but we somehow still ended on the other side of the fence. TS yelled at me not to stop so I immediately picked up my canter and continued doing 2 more figure 8s. He was, of course, wanting to run even more at them now but we handled our shit. TS proclaimed that new strategy is when something goes wrong DO NOT STOP because when I stop I think and when I think I crash.

Even though he was a turd and wanted to run after that, because I didn’t stop and over analyze like I do we didn’t flub the rest of the jumps. We then moved on to our actual course which had a skinny end fence. We jumped that first so he could see it before being on course. It was like the skies opened and angels sang down. He approached it with a great consistently paced canter, the spot was perfection, and his jump was beautifully rounded. WHY CAN’T HE JUMP LIKE THAT EVERY TIME?!?!?!!?!  Our course was pretty simple. Outside line, single on the diagonal out of the turn so it wasn’t a long approach, the other outside line which was technically a broken line but really more of a curve, skinny on the end, long approach to another single oxer on the diagonal. The broken line was either a straight 5 stride or a shaped 6. TS and I decided to do the 6 so that he didn’t get too amped because the skinny was not long after the out. Winifred really wanted to do the 5 but I was able to sneak a last second short stride in. TS reminded me how when I sit back, pull, but also squeeze with my leg there is no question that he will jump. So many things to do at once though! Lol.

The last two jumps went well. He really liked the skinny and backed off of it nicely again. He wanted to run at the last oxer but as TS said I did my homework on the approach and it rode pretty smoothly. We did however almost die after! He landed very excited, not bad but at a pretty speedy pace. It had rained all day and the footing wasn’t the greatest so I didn’t want to pull on him too much or turn him too fast in that corner so we went to make our circle bigger than normal when a fellow lessoner just kept walking towards us. Don’t walk towards a freight train! We actually still would have been fine cause baby boy can turn fast and the ground was good there but when I asked him to turn he shot his head down and started to cough! We all ended fine and it was basically a swipe by of the other horse but it was a close one. Lol. Survive the course and die on the curtesy circle. LOL

TS and I had a little discussion on some maintenance for Winifred. While he doesn’t act it he is 18 and TS feels that if I am going to continue to jump bigger I need to get his hocks done next year. I need to keep baby boy happy and healthy so I need to put that in the budget for next spring.

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Winifred says “I need maintenance cookies too!”

Luther has been basically chilling this summer. He has been a little off but I can’t quite pinpoint it. He is 22 and has a LOT of miles under him so he has earned his chill life. Poor guy though is under a little current maintenance for fungus. I swear it hit him overnight! I came out Monday and his hind right was pretty swollen and I could see the fungus from quite a distance. Since then I have been bathing him in some Dermavet, scraping the fungus, and wrapping him. He is still a little swollen but MUCH better than Monday.

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Luther is pretty happy with a groom and graze kind of life.

Camp Ponies

Our barn does camps throughout the summer and boys got in on the action! Ok, Winifred and Lucifer were not used as camp ponies (cause frankly I don’t want to kill any children!) but they did get a fun visit from my friends’ kids. I finally convinced my friends, N and J, to enroll their 3 kids and I, of course, had to come out to see them and introduce them to the boys.

This was my absolute favorite picture!! LOL!
Luher says, “If they don’t have cookies I don’t have time for them”

The camp was a 4-day camp where the kids get to ride every day, learn to groom, do fun crafts, and on the last day they participate in a horse show. For the 3 of them it was their first time riding and, wow, was I impressed by them! I missed their 1st day but I was there for their 2nd and I would not have guessed that it was their 2nd time in the saddle. I thought I might have been biased but even TS commented that she was impressed too!

E was only able to come for 2 days of the camp because he had basketball camp that overlapped so he missed the horse show. 😦 J and A did great though! J won best posting trot and A won best 2-point! The girls did SO good!

I am trying to convince N and J to get the girls in lessons! I am even enticing them with Margarita Mondays during the beginner lesson! I know that I don’t have any kids in the lesson but I love the parents (and that lesson has some of my favorite kiddos in it) so I go and hang out. Stef makes the BEST margaritas! Hey, don’t judge me! LOL

June HR B Show

I know that I have said it before and I will say it again, I am a terrible blogger! It has been since May that I last posted and wow a lot of things have happened since then. I get so busy with life that I forget to sit and write but then I read blogs like HelloMyOlivia and I get inspired. (If you don’t follow her you should! Some might call me a stalker but in my mind she and I are great friends. Lol)

Quick and dirty before I get into details of the real fun stuff of our last show. At last I left you I had a small redemption from my shit-show. Since then we have been progressing in our lessons. I only fell off once (knock on wood!!!!) and it really was not dramatic. It has rained like crazy and our arena was pretty muddy. Winifred is a bit more cautious in the mud, we were doing great on our course came to the last line and he got super soft so I gave a little with my hands and BAM he slammed on the breaks! My history of falling on him has been because I tipped but this time all I did was soften my hands. I came SO close to saving it but in the end I came down, landed on my feet but then my calves cramped and I fell to my knees……..in the mud! Lol.

I then spent 2 weeks in Shanghai and had to miss a couple shows because of it. 😦 He didn’t get ridden much while I was gone so when I came back it took us a minute in our first lesson to get it together but it was mostly me.

Jump forward to last month and we had our first outdoor show. This show didn’t have my divisions but it did have 2’6″ and 2’3″ classes that we planned on going in. The 2’6″ division I was signed up for was open to professionals but I was not in it to win. I just wanted to see how Winifred would be in an outdoor show.

Thursday my TS and I planned on schooling over fences at 7:30pm so I got on to flat around 6:45. We passed the horses coming off the trailer, people unloading tack trunks, and giant white and yellow striped tents fine but OMFG the jumps in the field for Saturday’s derby were legit going to KILL him!! He was so bad that eventually, a friend suggested that I leave because he was getting dangerous. I walked out of the ring and waited for TS to arrive. When she did arrive I got the “wth are you doing on the ground look” until I mentioned the field jumps her face instantly dropped in that “oh yeah” look.

For the first time in my life, I asked my trainer to get on my horse. She agreed but I had to promise to get on him after. He was not happy to have her even get on him and she had to jump from the mounting block. He then would not move down the driveway but she finally got him in the ring and immediately went to a jump. She got him around the course. Her only words of wisdom was that he was nervous but once he is focused on him job he was fine. Our turn to go around and the jumps looked huge (turns out she put them a little bigger than 2’6″). We got around but we did have one moment over an oxer that I fought in my head over my spot. Winifred took over (thank God) and we survived but it was not pretty. I collected myself and we finished. TS was not happy with me that I was being indecisive about my spot so we decided to scratch my morning 2’6″ classes and just do the 2’3″ classes.

Friday we had 2 classes and I will admit that I was nervous. Our first course started on the quarter line headed right towards the field. I honestly was scared that we were going to crash through the fence because his sole focus was on the field jumps. We actually did jump it but then he instantly dived to the left. I circled, came down the outside 4 stride line towards home and he was great, then we did the diagonal headed to the field but the corner without jumps and that went well until we turned to the right and he saw the field jumps again. His entire body tensed. It was insane how different his body felt on the field end of the ring from the entrance end. We finished up but it was not pretty. Second course started on the diagonal towards the field jumps. He was focused on the jump so that was good but again as soon as we landed he dived left to get away from them causing me to have to circle again. We came down the 4 stride again and he was fantastic. He softened and relaxed and then my next move really pissed off TS. I stopped. I knew we were headed right towards the field again on the next line and having him at the entrance end so relaxed I wanted to end it on a good note. TS was NOT happy with me and I got a lecture about getting out of my head.

Saturday we scratched the 2’6″ again and just did the 2’3″ division. This division only had 1 class so I added a warm-up to get in the ring more. TS had offered to take him in a warm-up for me at the end of the day Friday but I told her that I was good. I changed my mind when I realized that on top of the jumps in the field the judge’s truck was now parked out there too because, oh yeah, it was raining! TS did her warm-up and when it was done I looked across to my friends under the tent and all I saw was their eyes wide and one even mouthed “I would not ride him!” To say that he was scary was quite an understatement! This did not calm my nerves. TS left me in the hands of our assistant trainer (AT), I am hoping because we had someone else in another ring but who knows it could have been cause she was that annoyed with me. Lol. I adore both TS and AT so I was not upset at all to be left in AT’s hands and to be honest it may have been the best thing for me. I love TS but sometimes I think I get worked up because I do not want to disappoint her, not that I want to disappoint AT but it is just a different sense. Our first course was to trot along the outside line toward the field then turn and jump the quarter line toward home. He was clearly still very nervous but we turned in a little early to the quarter line. Winifred kind of ran at the fence but I actually let it happen because I saw my spot about 4 strides out at that speed. The rest of our course went really well! I could still feel his muscles tense on the field end but I did my best to stop thinking and feel my horse. I received a lot of laughs from spectators with my multiple very boisterous “GOOD BOY!” as we went around the course. Lol. Even though I was the last one to go I had to come out after my warm-up so I could get a towel to dry my reins and gloves. Our actual class went well. We didn’t place great cause 1. there were two horses in our class that holy-shit-balls even on Winifred’s best day he was not going to beat them in a hunter class and 2. we did the strides down each line except one that he added on. I was doing my best to stay out of my head and I only wanted to have a smooth ride and hit my spots. The only thing I did not want was to drop a stride. Coming down our last line on the diagonal home he got so relaxed that his stride got huge! I realized about 4 strides in we weren’t going to make it to 6 if I didn’t do something and wow did he adjust and we made it! I don’t think my smile could have been bigger as we left the ring!

We got some great pictures from the show. I was close to buying a terrible one that I was close to buying just to document the struggle. Lol. The look on my face is teeth completely gritted, my back is arched, and you can see that I am pulling as hard as I can to turn him, his eyes are wide, neck is cocked, and his mouth is completely open. I do owe a HUGE thank you to TS (sorry I was “me”), AT for taking over and getting me through it, and a very special thank you to my barnmate (and friend) D. Honestly, I am not sure I would have gotten in the ring without her there to keep me as calm as I could be!

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Love the slobber flying from his mouth. Lol
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The rain is not fun to ride in but it makes for pretty pictures. I kind of feel like he is posing for this one. 

Randoms

So I was going through some of my pictures and I realized that there were a couple of things that I forgot to post!

The first is happy. I finally got the boys’ Christmas presents in. They both got stall name plates. I went simple because I really like the clean look of just the brass name plate not mounted on wood on our stalls.

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I considered putting Lucifer on the second line but I was nice and put Luther. Lol

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Then on January 24th Winn had to get stitches. It happened outside and I am thinking it was a wicked game of halter tag. I was not there when the vet was but I got a text from the BO that “your boy was horrible!” When I did get to the barn I was stopped by multiple people and told what an a$$ he was. The vet had to tranquilize him so much that the tranq cost more than the stitches! Winn says hey man it was in a scary place! God love him!

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Winn: “Mahm that was SO traumatic!”
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Extra kisses to make it all better
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Forget extra kisses. I take extra cookies!

Not so lazy Luther

I know that most of my blogs are about Winifred because he is my show pony but Luther has been incredible lately. I broke my winter of bareback and saddled him up a couple of weeks ago. He was doing great bareback but really I only started that because this winter was ungodly cold. He didn’t need to work too much in those frigid temperatures. While it is still cold here there were a couple of days where it “warmed up” so I saddled up and Hello FancyPants Luther!

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Why yes, I am a handsome beast!

Apparently his months of bareback was the time that he needed cause my old man feels great! He is never going to completely move out at the trot anymore but he has really been stepping up. I have even had to whoa him a lot at the canter. He is so much fun to ride when he is like this. Sure he threw in a couple bucks but none of them were his nasty bucks so I can’t be mad.

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Give me that whip mom, you don’t need that.

I have been wanting to take him over a few fences but I haven’t been lessoning on him and in our barn you cannot jump without trainer supervision (safety rule). On Tuesday  his owner came out and rode him during my lesson. I knew that he had been feeling good but it was so much fun to watch him go around. His owner even jumped! SQUEE!!!! He looked AMAZING!!! My old man even did lead changes even from his good lead to his bad lead!!! It was only back and forth across an X but man was I proud of him! Crazy how proud I am of a horse that isn’t mine watching someone else ride him. Lol

So at the beginning of this I said that Win was my show pony but mark my words I will be taking Luther in a flat class this summer. Not sure which Luther I will get but which ever it is we are going to have some fun!

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Horse AND puppy! I can’t stand the cuteness!