Back Pain

I am sorry that I have not posted in a week but I really didn’t think I had anything exciting to post. I have been riding but very lightly because of my back and then it hit me I should post about that! For those of you who read my very first post I listed a few things that I have to fight against to ride and one of them is that my body is broken. Lol. Well fractured is a more accurate wording.

Last September was my first incident. I started riding Tango but I was still showing Ace. Everything was great until the MHJA finals. My lower back right in the center started to hurt when I bent over but it was when I was cantering T when it was like someone punched me HARD! I fell over his neck and thankfully he was a great boy and just stopped. I dismounted, took some motrin, and went home. The next day I could not stand up straight but yet I couldn’t bend over to put socks on either.

I am very lucky because my cousin’s fiancé is neurosurgeon, M. I called my cousin, A, and she told me to go to the ER and when he was out of surgery he would come see me. He felt around and talked about how I was bad and didn’t drink enough PowerAide while at a show. He said it was very likely that I strained my muscles and didn’t have enough electrolytes for the amount of work I did at the show. He gave me some muscle relaxers and told me to take it easy. I did and after about a week I was back to normal.

Move a few months ahead. Christmas Eve morning I got a frantic call from my sister that I had to come over because she hadn’t wrapped any presents yet! Lol. I bent over to grab my favorite yoga pants and I felt pain like I have never felt! I hit the floor and literally could not move any of my lower half of my body without sever pain. It was so bad I had to pull on furniture to move me across the floor to reach my phone. I called my cousin and she told me to get into the ER immediately and that M was going to call an MRI team in and he would meet me there. Now who do you call when you are on the floor and have no pants on especially on Christmas Eve??? Your most reliable and best friend of course! Casey dropped everything and came over. Ok mushy time, I am so grateful for her. She not only took me to the hospital but she stayed even though she was supposed to race her horses that day. She refused to leave until she knew my cousin could take me home. Ok on to diagnosis.

I wish I had my MRI report so I could detail it all out but the worst of it is that my 4th and 5th lower lumbar vertebra are fractured and because of that I had 2 budging discs and degenerative disc disease. The interesting part is that some of the fractures were so old that they were remodeled but there were some new ones as well. M told me that at some point I had to have had an accident that crushed my 2 vertebra together causing the fractures. He said that he never knew anyone who didn’t know the exact moment that it happened because it is so painful. Well….. I am pretty sure I do know when it happened. When I was 12 I had a horse rear so high at a show that he flipped over backwards on me. We both landed on the front of an SUV. My parents were never (and still aren’t) fans of me riding so they wanted me to call it quits then so there was no way I was going to admit that I was in so much pain back then.

spinal_cmpression

Back to present day. Due to the compression everything in my back was angry and inflamed which was pushing my discs out of place plus I have arthritis up most of my spine. M discussed the treatment options with me and while he said surgery is in my future. The surgery will fuse my vertebra together which will stabilize them but it will lower my mobility. While that is going to have to happen at some point he suggested that we try a non-surgical option first. We decided to do a series of intra spinal injections of steroids. They would feed a needle up my spinal column and the steroids would ease the inflammation allowing my bones and discs to move back to their correct position. Oh and no riding for at least 2 months. M wanted more but as family members we negotiated. Lol

The injections were an interesting experience. Definitely an awkward experience and super crazy that you feel the liquid being injected and your bones moving! I had 3 of them over 3 weeks. I started to get some pain relief after the 2nd injection and was nearly 100% after the 3rd. I still have issues sitting too long since it compresses my spine but with a standing desk at work my back has really been great until last week.

Friday before the show I had a weird incident where my legs just gave out and I fell to my knees on pavement and then I had the show on Saturday. I am not sure if it is one of those things over the other or the combination but I am back to constant pain. Sunday I was back to barely being able to get my socks on. I know that my weight does not help but both the oral and injected steroids caused me to gain quite a bit. I will admit that I am pretty nervous that this pain is going to take over my life again. I really do not want to give up on riding but I also want to be able to wear socks!

Looking back on all of this the back pain didn’t start until I started riding Tango. I am hoping the silver lining of him being up for sale is that I can look for a horse who may be a smoother ride. My trainer D wants me to find a flatter jumper because T is round and actually snaps over fences.

Anyone else have to deal with chronic pain?

I Want to Bottle this Feeling (Horse Show Part 2)

Saturday seemed to be such a long day I decided to write this in 2 parts. Last post covered the morning which was hot and frustrating. We all got a little worried though as the skies turned dark. There was a lot of talk about a storm coming in and it did sprinkle a bit but we were lucky because the storm went just west of us. Silver lining is that the temperature dropped about 10 degrees!

It was finally time to set up for the $400 Classic. The course was beautiful with a few bending lines, one wicked turn, a fence that kind of pops up on you quick, and the scariest of all cantering out of the arena and jumping into another! We were 2nd on the order of go which was probably good for my nerves! I wish I had a video of this ride!

Classic course. This really doesn't show how tight of a turn between fence 3 and 4.

Classic course. This really doesn’t show how tight of a turn between fence 3 and 4.

Trainer S and I decided that cantering directly to fence one was not a good idea so I entered between fences 3 and 8 and trotted a large circle all the way around fences 4, 9, and 7. The other reason for this is that it gave us a great view of chute and fence 10 which T seriously gawked at as we went past.  By the way sorry to my trainers if you said anything to me while I was on this course but I could not hear a thing! Too much focus! Lol

Part of the Classic course.

Part of the Classic course.

It is hard to see but here is the chute between the 2 rings with the jump at the entrance of the grass ring.

It is hard to see but here is the chute between the 2 rings with the jump at the entrance of the grass ring.

It is hard to see but here is the chute between the 2 rings with the jump at the entrance of the grass ring.

It is hard to see but here is the chute between the 2 rings with the jump at the entrance of the grass ring.

We picked up our canter just past fence 7. His approach was great to fence 1 and luckily since it was his good lead he landed the right lead. He jumped fence 2 great but started to pick up some speed as we headed to fence 3 which was right at the entrance gate. I really could not have him coming in too fast since we had a tight turn after that fence. Since the turn was to the right I was hoping he would land the lead but he didn’t. He changed in the front very quickly but could not get the hind end switched. He jumped fence 4 nice but after a counter canter he always takes off after landing. Luckily we had a nice long bending line so I was able to talk to him. You definitely cannot just grab his mouth or he will run in to it even more. I have learned that you have to sit tall and do a small sawing motion and talking to him goes a long way. He was nice and calm again by the time we jumped fence 5. Landed his lead coming around to fence 6 and was pretty consistent headed to fence 7. Good boy landed his lead headed to fence 8. Fence 8 was interesting because it really surprises you as you turn. Not much room to set up. There was more than a handful or horses that jumped it awkward but it didn’t bother T. Coming off it headed to fence 9 though was a different story. He really wanted to run at the scary fence but I knew if I let him fence 10 would be dangerous. Again I sat up and talked to him. He jumped 9 calmly and we headed to the chute. He definitely looked at it but never once changed his pace or tried to baulk out of the line. He did come off the fence a bit fast but I could not have been more proud of the two of us at that moment!!

DSC_0551.1 DSC_0544.1

I love this picture! I love how excited he looks!

I love this picture! I love how excited he looks!

I was on such a high after that!  We got a score of 66 which a friend of mine thought was low but really I didn’t care. There were 30 entries and we were in the call back up until the 29th rider. We missed the call back by 2 points! Even with that and 2 days later I am still reliving that ride! I think the thing that made me the proudest is the trust that I felt between Tango and me. The horse I had last year was such a kick ride that a horse that pulls and runs so fast was at times scary for me. The speed isn’t necessarily what scared me but the fact that he can get so strong when he is running that he forgets I am even up there. This ride was so the opposite of that. I felt that he finally trusted me when we were headed to scary things. I wish I could describe that feeling but I am not sure there are words for it! If only I could bottle this feeling!

Uh I snapped back too quick but I still like the picture.

Uh I snapped back too quick but I still like the picture.

At least one of us is looking at the next fence. Lol

At least one of us is looking at the next fence. Lol

DSC_0523.1

After the Classic we went straight to our medal class. I was mad at myself for the first jump. Tango jumped it great but I didn’t flatten my back and more rounded over the fence. These jumps were a lot smaller than the Classic and I think I got lazy so points off for that. I also assume I got points off cause I had a panic attack headed to fence 2 when I realized I forgot which fence we had to roll back to! As we headed to fence 2 I had to turn my head and scan the course for fence 3. Lol. The roll back was beautiful though. T was still pretty excited from the Classic that we rushed the outside line and had to sneak a stride in at the last second to make our strides so I am sure that didn’t help. We ended up 6th but again I did not care because OMG I was still on fire from the Classic! Lol.

After the medal class we were done so T got a shower, poultice, and wrapped and I got some pizza. As the evening went on my back started bothering me more and more. By the time I woke up on Sunday I was pretty sure I was not going to be able to ride. I got on and flatted but on our 2nd canter my back seized up and I fell on his neck. Obviously that could not happen over fences so I scratched for the day. I have had a back issue since last September but that is a separate post.

Overall I could not be happier with our Saturday afternoon! It is rides like those that keep us going even through the blood, sweat, tears, and back pain! I hope everyone else had a great weekend too!

Hot & Humid! (Horse Show Part 1)

The show is over and now time to look back. Friday’s schooling didn’t go so great but I made the mistake of getting a facial and massage before riding. The heat index was 98 and I think my body was a little too relaxed. The heat did not seem to bother Tango. He was definitely excited and was pulling down on the bit and trying to run at the fences. I did get in trouble with trainer S when I pulled out of a line but at that point I was nauseous, weak, and getting light headed. We came back did the outside line to that diagonal again and I was able to at least keep him to the strides I wanted. After that I called it a day.

Saturday morning arrived and the heat was expected to be worse. I am not sure how accurate it is but I did hear someone say they heard on the radio that the heat index was going to reach 113! Hunt coats were waived thank God!

In the morning we had our warm up, 2 hunter courses, and hunter U/S. Our warm up course seriously lacked consistency! One line he wanted to run down the line and it took everything I had to hold him in but then the next he added 2 strides! That was a horrible jump! As my trainer S said, “It was not our greatest moment.” Our actual hunter courses were a bit better but not by much. He really was not consistent at all on which lines he wanted to run at and which he wanted to practically jog. Plus he was not getting his hind lead changes. I think his shenanigans the day before effected his hocks. This was frustrating because he had been doing them so well and maybe if he wasn’t such a jerk-face on Friday be wouldn’t have been so sore. We took 4th out of 5 in both our classes.

Great picture if I could get rid of the fatness. Lol

Great picture if I could get rid of the fatness. Lol

The hunter U/S class was just bad luck. He was going pretty well but when we were asked to canter to the left (his already bad lead) we were pinned between the rail and another horse. I was obviously going to wait until that horse was cantering before asking but I think T’s race days kicked in and he shot forward picking up the wrong lead in the process. He got pretty pissy when I had to bring him back down to change it and proceeded to hop up and down. Needless to say we got 5th out of 5.

With that kind of showing you would think that I would be depressed and yes I was a little frustrated but honestly overall I was happy that we were safe and got over all the fences. Not to get on the ego side but I also was happy because I felt like I am getting a bit better. A friend of mine who is a photographer was there and got some great shots. Plus we still had the afternoon to ride but that will come in part 2.

The first half of the day was rough on baby boy!

The first half of the day was rough on baby boy!

Lesson Recap

Last night Tango and I did a makeup lesson from Tuesday night’s rain out. Since he has been so lazy lately I came prepared. I only needed for the first few times around and the first time we cantered. He wasn’t showing any signs of being lame just lazy.

I came prepared with my weapon in my sheath!

I came prepared with my weapon in my sheath!

Our flat was pretty uneventful. Trainer S commented that my leg has improved. I have a tendency of swinging it. This has been an issue since I had to take time off for my fractured vertebra. Not that I ever had a super strong core but my core has certainly weakened. This causes my legs to swing since I can’t keep my core tight. Crazy how your core effects your leg movement.

So yay that my legs are better but boo that my hands are now too active. I have been thinking that I want tie string around my martingale to put my pinkies in so I can feel when I bounce them. I really don’t feel like I am so maybe this will help me realize what I am doing. Any other suggestions to help with this?

On to jumping…. We did the normal warm up over a small X then waited until the ponies jumped their courses. Once they were done it was time to raise the fences and make some oxers. It was a simple hunter course consisting of outside line with an X to a vertical in 6 strides, long approach to an oxer on the diagonal, outside line of vertical to oxer in 5 strides, then a broken line diagonal headed towards the gate. S told me to pick my spot for the last line by my ride and to shape it how I wanted. The first line was interesting. S bumped up the X but it still was unimpressive for T. He came off the X in a la-tee-da canter but should have been enough to get us there in 6 until Tango looked up and saw a bigger fence. You could almost hear him say “oh shit!” He stutter stepped so that we did a 7. It was not pretty but he got over it. S stifled a laugh and told us to come back around and do the line again.

We started the course over and OMG he was wonderful! I really hope he rides like that this weekend! He was very smooth and adjustable. He let me pick all the spots and the broken line towards the exit gate where he usually grabs the bit and runs he was so quiet and we shaped it out to be a nice 7 stride. It is supposed to be 90 and humid so he might be pretty quiet anyhow. Lol

Happy post ride selfie

Happy post ride selfie

Because I am a worry-wort step mom I poulticed his back and legs after jumping bigger.

Because I am a worry wart step mom I poulticed his back and legs after jumping bigger.

Tango is so stylin he has an ombre tail!

Tango is so stylin he has an ombre tail!

It was a wash out!

What is it they say about the best laid plans? My trainer D and I formed a riding plan for this week on Saturday but with the never stopping rain that has now changed. The original plan was as follows:

Saturday: Lesson with low and slow jumping

Sunday: Flat by another girl

Monday: Flat

Tuesday: Lesson go over a few 2’3” jumps with oxers

Wednesday: Flat by his owner

Thursday: Day of rest (Friday is usually his day off but since we are schooling on Friday we switched)

Friday: Horse Show schooling

Saturday: Horse Show

Sunday: Horse Show

Monday: Much needed rest!

Well this freakin’ rain has changed that! I guess I will start back at the weekend. From my last post you know that I did lesson on Saturday and we did jump a little. We did a couple warm up fences and then a low course just to see how sound he was going to be. Sunday he was supposed to get hacked by another girl but she text me that she got too busy to ride so he had an extra day off which is fine since he is still recovering.

Monday my heart dropped a little. Tango was definitely off again! It took everything I had to keep him trotting and I could feel his hind end dragging. Luckily my trainer D was giving a lesson so I was able to get her opinion. She reminded me that he is always a little stiff for the first 10 minutes and told me to keep going. I did and he still was dragging.  I can’t tell you if I was more sad or mad at this point. D saw my frustration and told me to try a crop. Well low and behold simply holding the crop was enough for his hind end to suddenly engage! Once again D was right. Looking back on it I now wonder if Tango has classified me as the cautious one and knows that if he fakes being broken I will give him time off. Lol. For the rest of the ride his hind end was engaging but too much. He went from being a ass-dragging lazy butt to a grab-the-bit-run-around-the-ring crazy boy. Once D’s lesson ended I was able to have the whole ring to myself and to counter act his craziness we did a lot of off the rail work like circles and serpentines. When he gets this way he also over anticipates lead changes so we kept riding until he could canter the diagonal and cut across the ring without grabbing the bit, throwing himself forward/downward, and changing leads. Once we had that down I then asked him for a change and wow did we finally get a smooth one! Granted this did end up taking over an hour. He seriously makes his own life harder sometimes.

This leads us to last night. I had my usual lesson scheduled with trainer S. I told her D’s and my plan for the week and she agreed. Tango came out a little lazy but then moved into a normal pace. Everything was going great and then the skies opened up. Unfortunately, the temporary stalls are mostly up in the indoor. There is a quarter of our indoor still open but not enough for a lesson. The rain started lightly at first and S told us to  go hang out in the still cleared section of the indoor until it passes. 3 of us decided to stay out there. Tango was moving out so well that I could not stop. His extended trot was back to where it was right after he got his hocks done. The rain then started to come down even harder and S offered to us again to go in the indoor to wait it out. I told her that I would not scratch in a horse show for this kind of rain so why would I quit a lesson. Then God said, “oh yeah well here you go!” The rain became a down pour and the wind had it almost sideways so I gave up and headed to the indoor. Side note that we almost didn’t make it when the trees blowing caused T to spin and run but he put his brave face back on and we made it to safety. As I said there was a small corner open so we trotted a little more even though the temporary stalls were pretty scary. We even did a little canter both ways and then called it a night.

Hard to tell but I was drenched!

Hard to tell but I was drenched!

S said that she really wanted me to jump before schooling on Friday so she offered to give me a makeup lesson today (Wednesday). Wednesday is normally his owner’s day (I only have a 60% lease) I had to get her permission to do it. She was great and said no problem and she would just take what would normally be my Thursday. Pray for no rain tonight!

fe5e0952dc12a4e1a44650e23445d78f

Low & Slow

I admit that this post is a little late but I was waiting to get my videos from Thursday’s ride. Well the vet came out on Monday. My boss is awesome and let me work from home so I could pop over to the barn and hear what the vet had to say. I am so mad at myself though because I forgot my phone so I missed out on some good pictures! The vet confirmed that Tango’s hip was out of alignment and that this back was sore. He said that his hocks were a little sore as well. He had them injected back in March but hopefully his monthly injectable I started him on last month will help. The vet decided to adjust his hip and back and then did some acupuncture on his back. He also injected vitamin B into each needle point. Then he told me no riding until Thursday.

All day Thursday I prayed that I would have a sound horse and………. He was awesome!!!! I was so happy with him! I wanted to keep it easy on him so we just did a light hack but he felt like he wanted to go forever. I was so excited to have my pony back. The only bad part was that It started raining so we had to move it inside.

That leads us to today. Normally we lesson and jump on Saturdays and Tuesdays but since he has been off for a few weeks I didn’t want to push him too hard today. In an ideal world I would wait until Tuesday to jump him but since we have a show next weekend and would not jump on Tuesday on the other hand I didn’t want to wait until the show to jump him. Ahhhhhhhh decisions! What is the balance between taking it easy and being prepared to show? My trainer and I decided to take him over a few fences today but the theme was very low and very slow! He felt really great. He didn’t even try to grab the bit and run like he likes to do but then again we did keep it low. It was pretty hot and humid so that helped keep him slow. Lol On Tuesday we will just do a couple of lines but introduce oxers at our show height. I think it is good compromise between going easy without risking us not being ready for the show. Please ignore my equitation in the videos! Lol

After our ride he is longingly looking at his pasture buddies who were just let out.

After our ride he is longingly looking at his pasture buddies who were just let out.

He won't go see his friends until I am out of sight. Seriously T get out of the mud!

He won’t go see his friends until I am out of sight. Seriously T get out of the mud!

Had to end it with weekend silliness. Have a great weekend!

Barn geek M showing her style! :)

Barn geek M showing her style! 🙂

Lake time!

Since Tango is still hurt and waiting for chiropractic care today, Oscar gave me the subtle hint below that he deserves another post just about him.

Real subtle Oz!

Real subtle Oz!

I am going to be a bragging mom today. If any of you know the culture of Michigan you know that you must go to a lake for the 4th of July! I was invited by to go up to my friend A’s lake house and she was amazing to let me bring Oscar since finding a dog sitter can be very hard on a holiday weekend. A has a 22 year old son so there was a lot of youngsters partying with lots of loud music and Oscar was so calm and listened to me most of the time. Lol. This was a big deal to me because there was a time when loud noises and groups of people made him super nervous and when he would get nervous he would get protective of me. He is automatically a bit happier though when he gets to go swimming. He can swim until he just exhausts himself!

Mom can I jump in now???

Mom can I jump in now???

Coming back in after a good swim

Coming back in after a good swim

Just chilling on the beach

Just chilling on the beach

Making some friends on the dock. These dogs were on a boat that stopped by for the Poker Run.

Making some friends on the dock. These dogs were on a boat that stopped by for the Poker Run.

20150704_181236 20150704_164917

He loves it but swimming takes a lot out of him so he needed a nap before going back out!

He loves it but swimming takes a lot out of him so he needed a nap before going back out!

Goofing off with K!

Goofing off with K!