Friday, August 31, 2012

Rollin' with The P

I scampered out to Summer Camp yesterday to see The P and discuss our upcoming transition back to reality.  Also, I wanted to kiss her nose and go for another magnificent trail ride.  All good reasons for a drive. :)

P out front

I knew that Cowboy Man was concerned about having P come home as soon as October, but I'm feeling like I'm ready to commit to that date even if she's not 100% finished.

My motivations are pretty much threefold.

1) Dollars. 
When P went to Summer Camp it was approximately a $5k proposition (3 months room and board plus quite a bit of body work).  I don't know the actual current total because I stopped counting at $30k.  It's a scary number, but it also doesn't consider the money I would have been spending on "normal" training and board, so in reality the additional cost is probably closer to $15k.  Still not cheap.  (I really hate adding up "real cost of horse")

2) Stall Availability. 
There's a stall in "our" aisle at the barn coming available and it would be convenient to move P1 in when she can be close at hand and not on the other side of the farm.  This isn't really a huge factor, but it is giving me a tangible reason to press for a specific date.  Realistically, this is the least important variable.

3) Mental State. 
I think part of me is just ready to see my horse on a regular basis.  I'm ready to see what I can handle and how we work together.  I know that she's not 100% finished or back to a happy neutral place, but man.  It's just been so long (17 months in if we come home Oct 1).  I know that there's a big chance of Pia relapsing with some of her issues, but I almost think it would be easier to send her back to Summer Camp for another extended stay if I could see and feel that we still had lots to work on - and I wasn't capable of productively handling it myself.

In no way is my desire to bring P home fueled by a lack of results, or conflict with CM's theories, ideas or work.  And I also don't regret a dime that I've spent on this process. 

So - that's good.  I'm confident that I'd have no misgivings about sending P back to Summer Camp if it came to that, which makes me feel like I'm thinking (mostly) clearly and not being overly selfish. 

Our conversation was good.  CM is mostly concerned that P hasn't cemented her canter work (she still gets fussy.. maybe still in pain?) and that she's not 100% over her issues.  Mostly that means that while her world has grown considerably, and her mental flexibility is better than ever, she's still aggressive when she's in a stall, and often hangs back from the herd when they move around the property.  She also isn't comfortable to the point of really accepting pressure from her rider.  Most of her under saddle work is still "her idea" and there's not a lot of force.  (meaning she suggests moving up to the trot, or moving back down to a walk.. and she gets a lot of support from other horses).  Of course CM steers and corrects if she goes crazy but 90% of the time he tries really hard not to pick fights or ask for something that might start one.  (to clarify cantering a 20 meter circle would qualify as picking a fight at this point.  So would whapping her with a rein on the butt.)

So, he's nervous that I want to tack her up and start riding First Level dressage tests or jumping around courses.  Even throwing her into a frame and hinting at any sense of constriction would be questionable at this point.  Other concerns include how much Pia would regress once she's back in a stall 12 hours a day and leaves the social demands of the herd. 

All are really valid, probable issues.  Which makes me wonder (a bit) if October 1 really just is too soon and I'd be doing the mare a disservice.  Am I only bringing her home cause I want my pony? What's in her best interest? and am I doing right by her...

We did have a great ride.  First CM tacked up and rode Pia a bit on the property showing me her current gait work (VERY happy at trot... some snottiness with canter work) and we both noticed that the head shaking (and ensuing bucks) always happen on a downhill slope.  Balance issue? pain issue with increased weight on the forehand? hard to know... 

as an aside, I continue to be convinced there are no neurological problems in this horse.  She is striding out beautifully on uneven ground and really pushing from behind.  She's foot perfect over rocky trails and spins like a reining horse out with the herd... Did she look like a neuro horse in 2011? 
yes.  But her feet were jammed in baby shoes, and her body was compensating in weird ways.  Plus two rounds of general anesthesia left her misaligned and uncomfortable.
But there is NO way this horse has Wobblers.

 When we headed off property I decided that I would take the ride and I was glad to be on her back.  The last time I was actually on Pia was that beach ride a while back when she was still noticeably anxious at the walk, got sticky after about 30 minutes of walking accompanied by her weird neck stretch and irregular sweat pattern. 

Yesterday she was loose, forward and relaxed.  She was happy to lead or follow and she didn't even bat an eye when we disturbed some deer sleeping in tall grass who exploded up and bounded away. When I was trotting her out on the meadow she offered a canter and I took it but it was soon followed by some fussy head shaking although I didn't get any bucks.  The good news is she calmed right back down from it and continued like there had been no anxiety (something that would have never happened a few months ago).
happy relaxed mare in shoulder high grass..
 It's clear that she's light years ahead of where she was.  She's confident - and new places are no longer a cause for alarm.  She is still very dependent on the horses around her for support and will pitch a fit if they trot off and I ask her to stay put.  But overall it's obvious to me that her brain is unlocking and so is her body.  Her feet are fantastic.  Hinds are tough and have lost any hint of the negative plane/bullnose she had in spring of 2011.  Her fronts are still in natural balance shoes but she's expanded to a size 2 (not the 0 she arrived in). 

So I'm still a bit at a loss.  She's progressing so well, and obviously so happy.  But something in me still just wants her home.  I think I'm still proceeding with October 1 as a transition date, hopefully with a modified training plan (lots of ground work, lots of riding with a halter, lots of basics).  I need to be creative to keep her mind engaged and learning new things so we don't lose the flexibility she's finally gotten. 

Argh... decisions, decisions...

Love this face...


  1. It had to happen sometime (unless CM has more kids who need to go to college ;) ). Either it works or it doesn't and either way you gain a lot of valuable information. Roll with it.

  2. Does your barn offer outdoor board? Maybe that'd be more suited if she still doesn't love the stall. Eitherway it seems that you've laid out all your options giving her the opportunity to be a happy mare no matter what.

  3. aye decisions ... being mom though you have to do what your gut says! :)

  4. The only thing I would worry about is being in a stall. That might bring back some of her old anxieties and aggression... other than that I'm sure she would do fine coming home. Like you said, if she has problems adjusting she could always go back to camp. :) I'll keep my fingers crossed it goes well. I know you must be so anxious and excited to have her come home!


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