Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dress Boots?

I'll be honest.  I have never liked dress boots.  As a kid I thought they looked dorky, and before all the fancy zippers and spanish tops and whatnot, they looked even clunkier and uglier than their field boot counterparts.

More recently, I've come around a bit.  I'm not sure if it's because (thanks to the zippers and spanish tops..) many dress boots have a sleeker, more refined look to them, or if it's because I spend more time around some serious DQ's than Pony Club brats. 

Regardless, my sturdy, trusty, old-as-dirt Effingham field boots are nearing their last leg.  I've had them patched, resoled and restitched more times than I can count, and even though they've had a majority of the summer off from any serious riding, I'd rather get a replacement before they disintegrate on me at an unfortunate time.

I do have to give them plenty of credit, as I've had them since 1997 (maybe 1996?) and they've handled the burden of being my everyday riding boot (and barn shoe) as well has polishing up for shows.  They've seen me through dressage rallies, horse trials, some derby days, every random IHSA hunter show I ever had the pleasure of competing in... and most recently every ride on Miss P.

Now that I think about it, since I was still showing Star-the-wonder-pony in dressage when I got them, I guess I can actually say that these boots have been on every horse I've ever owned, shown, or worked with significantly..  wow. 

So, the hunt begins.  My 5'11" frame with extra long, extra super skinny calves (seriously, they look ridiculous) makes for a hard fit.  One particularly observant friend once likened me to a "block of cheese."  Meaning that I look like a big solid chunk with toothpicks sticking out.  While not the most flattering description I could hope for, it's alarmingly accurate.

Ariat's extra tall, slim calf boots fit me pretty well, sometimes they need to be taken in just a touch, and as long as they have a high cut top, they appear to fit well, but I could still hope for an extra inch if they drop much at all after breaking in.
 Pluses seem to be that a) they are affordable, b) they will look decent and c) they feel more like a field boot in terms of a soft ankle. 

BO has been telling me that I need a stiffer boot and more "ankle support," which I totally believe, but I've never had, so it's difficult for me to know whether I'd like it or not...

The other seemingly good choice is Petrie.  They have a mid range boot that is shaped nicely, but still maintains a nice stiff calf and ankle.  Several ladies at our barn ride in the Anky model, and one girl just purchased the Olympic (which is what I'm considering), and they all seem to like them.
 "only" $599... lol

Pros for the Petrie include a) with their endless sizing combos, they have a good height/width option for me, b) they have nice lines but manage to look more classically "dressage-y" and c) they don't break the bank for a slightly-closer-to-custom fit.  I've never ridden in any Petrie boots, so I have no basis for comparison, but I've yet to hear a bad review?

I've been toying with the idea of going for broke and just getting Konig's, but I think I'm going to be "reasonable" and save the extra $$ for some unforeseen must have? I think?

Any thoughts? what do you guys ride in? love? hate? dream boots?

There's a part of me that loves the idea of brown.. and considering the fact that I won't be showing much in the near future (and especially not at a high enough level to need "traditional attire") I could totally get some rad brown boots for every day and fake it in my field boots at shows....

These make me feel super classy...
I could be convinced of parting with a few extra $$ if I got to look THAT COOL afterwards. :)

If you saw the ridiculous shoes I wear in my non-horsey life, and sometimes when I'm too lazy to change into my horsey shoes... you'd probably understand that my love for footwear runs much deeper than *just* my riding boots.

It's my cross to bear...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jacking Around

Pia's leg continues to look better and better.  She's totally off the wraps at this point and I'm cold hosing minimally (as in, enough to get the gunk off her leg and maybe a few extra minutes). 

Pia's Attitude, however, is declining steadily.  witchy, witchy mare...

This.  Is what I was attached to via leap rope yesterday during our hand walk.  Charming, isn't it?  In my instance the cowboy wasn't included (darn it), but I'm pretty sure P got all her moves from this cute little bronc.

Here's what pisses me off:  Pia is a good little princess if we are a) walking by ourselves, or b) walking with other horses in the ring.  She'll jack around a tiny bit if other ponies get to canter, but usually its a single hop then she settles right back into a nice loose slow walk.

What doesn't work so well is if we are walking with other horses, then those horses decide to leave.   If they go back to the barn, she calms down eventually (after much snorting and huffing). But if they go down the driveway and (god forbid) off property. She has an absolute conniption fit.

Yesterday, for example, an adorable gelding was finishing his work and got to go for a nice long walk to cool down.  P, thought this was completely unacceptable and began TOTALLY FREAKING OUT as soon as he exited the ring.  Rears, bucks, leaps, hops, all pouncuated with a double barrel kick to the arena wall. 

Nice move, mare.

As soon as he was out of sight, she calmed right back down, then repeated the antics when he returned down the driveway.  There was a lot of "KNOCK IT THE !@#$ OFF HORSE" spewing from my mouth, as I don't appreciate being yanked around, and I extra don't appreciate her pulling any crap on her "rehabbing" tendon. 

To her credit, she usually maintains some good slack in the lead (chain is ON) while she jacks around.. somehow she manages to explode in every direction without putting any sharp pressure on her delicate little nosey-wosey.  Clever Girl.

Anyway, I'm over it.  I'm not amused and I will outright put her away the next time she tries this.  Looks like we'll be making friends with Mr. Ace for when we start back under saddle... What a brat.  JUST WALK LIKE A NORMAL HORSE.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

2.98258 miles, and other fun with mental math..

Walking in circles continues to be boring.  Fortunately for me I compulsively count ceiling tiles, fences posts, whatever I'm staring at while bored and unable to lean on the entertainment crutch that is my iPhone.  During our hand walk yesterday, I started trying to calculate how far Pia and I were walking, and whether not I got to count it as exercise. :)  Here's a recap of my stellar mental aptitude:

20 meters by 60 meters. 

That's 20 + 20 + 60 + 60.  Which equaaaaals..... 160meters per lap (assuming square corners.)

I'm walking a lap in approximately 1 minute 9 seconds.. lets start with 1 minute flat.  160 meters x 30 minutes(or 30 laps) = uhhhhhhhhh (mental math, mental math). 160 x 10 x 3... 4,800 meters!

Let's see, 4,800 is almost 5k which I already know is 3.1 miles.. so.. 4800 is what percent of 5000..

48/50 = 96/100 so 4% less...  So x/3.1... ok, 3.1/100 = .031 multiply by 4 = .124 (ouch). 3.1 miles - 4% (or .124) = 2.976!

Wow.  2.976 miles in 30 minutes.  Well, sorta, not accounting for those extra 9 seconds per lap... which means I'm not actually getting a full 2.976 in... so, 9 seconds is what % of a minute.  over 10% I think.. uh 9/60 = x/100.  Crap, cross multiplying.  9x100= 900/60.  uhhh take the 10 out.. 90/6/ take the 2 out, 45/3. oh good, it's an even 15... 15%!! jesus! this is going to eat into our total walking distance.  Ok, so check mental thought process, what I calculated was 2.976 distance, assuming a 1 minute lap time.  However, our lap time is actually 15% longer, which means I should deduct 15% from our total distance? is that sound thinking? Do I care? No. I'm just bored and playing with math. 

Ok, x/2.976 = 85/100.  Cross multiply! 297.6 divided by 85.  Jeeeezus. That's rough for this girl.  (I check our time... 27 minutes.  Almost done, crap.  **At this point I cave and use my phone calculator**)


Two and half miles?? not bad.  I think that counts as exercise for me.  I got feisty and threw in an extra 4.5 minutes (15% of 30)to get back to the 2.976 number and called it a day.

When I got back to the barn I googled the conversion for 4,800 meters, and found it to be 2.98258, which really, isn't that far off of my 2.976 number.  So, not only did I feel good about walking my chubby butt around the ring, but I also felt like my 4th grade math skills are still solidly available should I actually ever need them.

Good mental distraction for me, but it didn't help Pia much.  Fortunately leaves were blowing into the ring, so she spent her time trying to eat them or crucnch them with her feet. 

To each their own.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Good Progress

The weekend brought some good progress on Miss Pia's legs.  She is however, thoroughly bored of no turnout, and even more thoroughly bored of her handwalking.  Yesterday, she was a cranky, mouthy, bored mare-face and while I was constantly trying to remove her face from me/my phone/her lead rope/the ground I did realize that I am so thankful we are only on two weeks of this crap and not battling with post-op recovery right now.  (I continue to hunt for silver linings)

Pia says - "walking= sux. eating phone = better"

Actually, the horse gods seem to be smiling on our barn right now (full knock on wood..).  BO's current competition horse has been laid up with a tendon issue, but he got a big green light last week... Another mare who had mystery swelling seems to have resolved her issues, and another gelding who pulled up with a poufy hind leg is recovering as apparently he just smacked himself too...  Lots of good news all around.. Though, there were a few days there where the barn might have had more legs in bandages than not...

Regardless, Pia has been continuing with her 45-60 minute handwalks (we are both kinda tired afterward), and I have been trying my hardest to make them interesting (for her and me).  Things that I appreciate include the fact that the ring has a really nice sound system, so I just zone out and listen to music but I don't think it helps P that much.  I have been playing the increase/decrease game with P and making her stretch her stride or slow way down just to keep her brain working, and since we don't have a super scary injury I've been circling/spiraling/drawing funny shapes in the ring as much as possible.  I've been mixing up when we do our ultrasounding and icing, mostly to see if there is any magic combo, but in general, the fill in all of P's legs has been decreasing significantly. 

The only slight hiccup is that the skin on Pia's left front is all pink and warm (more than a flush from being swollen..) and I can't figure out why.  I know she is a delicate flower, and since she got clipped for her diagnostic ultrasound last week, the skin on that leg is less protected... but there's not a lot else going on to irritate it.  She could be sensitive to the gel I've been using during our sessions, but that gets rinsed off every time.  She could be annoyed by the wraps, but none of her other legs looked irritated.  My only other hypothesis, it that it could be annoyed by the "small circles" I have to do during the therapy... Maybe it's slightly chaffed from that??? Who knows.  It's not scabby, it's not flaking, it's just pink.. so I'm really not that concerned so long as it doesn't get any worse. 

Regardless, I decided to let her legs "breathe" last night and try going wrap free again. 

If you recall, last time we left the wraps off (after our vet visit last Wednesday..), she ballooned back up again.  I'm not worried about inflammation at this point, but I would really like to see her legs stay tight without wraps, so I was super excited to hear from the BO that P had some slight fill in her hind legs, but both fronts looks nice and tight.  Yessssssssssssssssssssss, small victory!

As of right now, I'm thinking that I'll give her two more days of real handwalking, then maybe we'll try our hand at going under saddle.  P was so relaxed at the end of our walk yesterday that I dared (dear god why am I admitting this on my blog..) to get on the mare bareback. 


"Oh" you must be thinking... "She probably threw a bridle on and grabbed her helmet.."

Um... Nope.  Didn't do either of those things... But, I did tie her lead rope to the other side of her halter before shimmying up there without a brain bucket!

Although Pia didn't seem to think that I was totally insane, my shoulder-angel finally got the best of me and I slid off before really testing the waters bareback... without a bridle... or any head protection... or anyone to scream for help.

Kudos me, I made a good decision! (even if it was a bit tardy.)

So, the bareback adventure is delayed, but hopefully we'll be walking in tack by the end of the week.  and hopefully we'll continue to see good progress.

In fun blogger-dom news, tonight after my long romantic walk with Miss P, I get to meet Denali's Mom for a drink! (woo!) We finally figured out that our little life circles are pretty darn close to one another, so I'm really looking forward to meeting up in person, and having a sympathetic ear for vet bills, Seattle life, and general horsey chat time.  :) Sometimes its a small, small, world!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

NYT Coverage..

Lord knows that Princess Haya has been somewhat controversial in her leadership of the FEI, but I appreciate the article that the New York Times published today on her impact (and frankly, the FEI in general).  Great timing right before the WEG's for some equestrian exposure!

Princess Shakes Up Equestrian World



Friday, September 24, 2010

First Session of Shock... and our 100th Post!

(100 posts! apparently Miss P is giving me plenty to talk about... here's to many more stories and adventures to come..)

After our ultrasound appointment, our vet suggested leaving P's standing wraps off for the night and relying on the shockwave treatment and long walks to keep the fill out... But when I showed up yesterday (with crazy machine in hand), P's front leg had ballooned again almost to the level it had been at last week.  I made a mental note and decided that maybe we'd stick with wraps at night for a few more days to keep the inflammation down. 

So I pulled P out of her stall and started assembling the weird shock machine... and read the instructions, which freaked me out a little.

 Uhhhh what.  Thing sounds (and looks) like a torture device, but after reading through a few times, I decided that I was good to go.  I set up a little stool so that I could sit while treating P for the prescribed 12 minutes, and got everything all situation so that I could leap to plug it in then get the head in contact with P's puffy and sensitive leg before burning the "crystal."

This was a great plan.  However it didn't account for the fact that P was avoiding my contact with her leg like a dancing monkey, which in turn, totally ruined my well thought out set up for this 12 minute session.   I finally figured out that if I held her hoof up she stayed mostly quiet, but this still meant that I was hunched over, holding what felt like half my horse's weight, and out of reach of the actual machine - which  resulted in a slightly lower power setting than I was going for, but the power flucuates, so you need to be constantly adjusting a little knob that just wasn't going to be adjusted my my non-existant third hand from across the aisle.  whew.

In the end, we managed a full 12 minutes of treatment, slightly lower power setting and then we went for a big long walk.  I started in the ring since it was raining and Pia was a little amped up.  she was thoroughly pissed that there were two other mares canter around getting worked while I made her stay at a slow stroll, but that's just the way the cookie crumbles.  After about 30 minutes we headed outside and strolled around the neighborhood a bit, which was more excited than circles in the ring, and gave her feet some good gravel crunching time.

When we got back to the barn, most of the swelling was gone again (yay), but we still iced for 20 minutes, wrapped and got put away like a Christmas present. :)

I'll be a little more prepared today, but honestly I'm going to ahve to find a solution for holding P up for 12 minutes.  I mean, I'm strong, but I'm not superwoman and the mare can stand politely. :)

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shockwave? BLAST!

Yesterday's visit from the vet could not have gone better, unless, of course, we hadn't needed it at all :)

However, given the fact that we did need it, the prognosis is basically as good of news as I could have hoped for.

I had barely gotten the shavings out of P's tail and her coat polished up (a little) before the vet got there.  He performed some mild palpitations, of both front legs and got a way stronger reaction to the tendon lump on her left front than I was able to get... I guess that means his palpitations weren't so mild...

He said it looked like it could be a bandage bow, since the initial swelling was so much lower, and she  had her in stable wraps since last Thursday.  But really, a Bandage Bow!???  I mean, I'm no vet tech, but I've never given a horse a bandage bow in my life, and I always aced bandaging in Pony Club.  In fact, I even taught a little seminar on stable bandages, hock wraps joint support.  There is no flipping way I gave my horse a bandage bow.  I must have had a horrified look on my face, because he immediately backed away from that possibility and asked what I had been wrapping with/how I put them on. 

I offered to show him one of my wraps - and at that point he removed "bandage bow" from the list of likely possibilities. (thank GOD).

As he got his ultrasound machine set up we discussed possibilities, and much like my original thoughts it seemed likely that either:

A) Pia strained a tendon during a ride, in which case we're looking at some serious rest/rehab depending on the extent of the strain, and I need to reevaluate our training regimen


B) She did something idiotic in turnout and smacked it hard enough to bother the tendon.

Option A is scary to me.  Mostly because the other Wobbler in the barn has had constant struggles with tendon and ligament injuries due to his slight blaance issues.  My vet likened it to when you go to step on a stair, miss it and feel that panicked tightening in your body.. even a slight misstep can throw your back out, strain muscles, etc..  Ever since I talked to Other Wobbler's Mom, I've been worried that even though Pia feels steady and balanced, she's more prone to setting herself up for a soft tissue injury..

Option B is what I was rooting for.  Option B means that even with a slightly more extensive injury or bruise, at least P didn't do it while we were working, and it doesn't have immediate implications for limiting our training once she gets back under saddle.

So I crossed my fingers, and tried to keep P's sedated head from landing on the floor.

I had myself situated that so that I could watch the ultrasound screen as my vet was working. Though for me, without any guidance I find it nearly impossible to understand what I'm looking at.  Finally Mister Vet started explaining to me what was on the screen.  At first we were looking at a cross section of her leg.  First big fuzzy band is skin, lots more lines, then finally the bone.  Right, right, makes sense.

Here's what I know about ultrasounds and tendons: black is bad. 

Black is the color of lesions.  The color of holes.  The color of buckle-down-and-get-ready-for-rehab-your-horse-isn't-going-anywhere-for-a-year. 

And black is what I saw.  A chunk of it, two lines behind the "skin" and well in front of the bone, right were her SDFT and DDFT should be.  (stomach flip).

Fortunately for me, I have no idea what I'm talking about, and the gaping black void I was focused on was actually liquid and crap stuck in the "para-tendon" space.  Or rather, around the tendon and not in the tendon.  This, apparently was great news.  It means the lump on her leg is essentially a response to a concussive impact, and the tendon itself had the slightest of bruises on the very very outside.  It means that the swelling is from stuck fluid and not from an inflamed tendon.  It means we're working with Option B!!!!

Never, have I ever been so happy with my horse for "just" being an idiot in turnout. 


2 additional weeks of stall rest with lots of walking and continued icing and shockwave treatments. 

Extra good news is that my vet said I can do the directional shockwave therapy myself. for 15 min a day, every day.  What fun!

There's no limit on how much she's allowed to walk, just no trotting.  I got the go-ahead to walk her under tack, but given her joy for jigging under saddle, I'm not sure I'm going to try that yet. At least, not without a little ace or something to take the edge off.

So... today I get to use my lunch break to go pick up the machine, and this afternoon I get to shockwave her, walk her, then ice her and put her away.  I couldn't be happier.  I really couldn't.  Also, we're trying to wean off the wraps... so we'll see how she looks this afternoon after a full night and day without them.

In other random news - Thank god P has been confined to her stall and run, because there was a bad bale of hay that got fed from the Paddock Feed Shelter and all of P's neighbors got some seriously gross explosive diarrhea. I mean, WOW.  P's big, black boyfriend that is stalled next to her was literally bombing a 10 foot radius.  Super, super icky.   P's lack of participation in that particular event was just one more than I was thankful for yesterday.  :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Vet Scheduled..

Well, I sent those pics of Pia's leg off to my vet with the intention of saying "here's the story, I'll call you next week if nothing improves."  But, as it turns out, my vet is in the neighborhood today, so he's going to swing by and take a look at Miss Pia. 

The potential of being a little "premature" with spending the $$ on a problem that might be gone by Saturday is mitigated by my paranoia that, even if she was 100% by Saturday, I'd be worried there was a lingering strain or sprain... also I'm so damn curious all the time, that I like having firm(er) answers, or at the very least - slightly more information. 

That being said, Pis is scheduled to catch up with her favorite guy at 3pm this afternoon.  Which means I need to find a way to escape from work in the next 30 minutes so that she looks slightly more put together than she currently is.  (WHOOPS, dirty mare). 

Regardless of the outcome, we should have more answers later today, so keep you fingers/toes/eyes/hooves crossed that it's something minor and not the start of another battle!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Left Front Pics...

We seem to be in a bit of a holding pattern with Miss P and her left front.  Yesterday I popped out to the barn to evaluate, and see if anything had changed.  P's legs looked exactly the same - little to no swelling, standing squarely, walking/jogging out pretty normal... etc.

I did throw her on the lunge to see what happened on a circle and the result wasn't much different.  The BO did mention that she was a little off when turned on a tight circle to the right (less so to the left). But I wanted to investigate at the trot and on a bigger circle.  SO, on the lunge we went, and P walked off normal. In fact, she even trotted mostly normal.  I say "mostly" because the mare always starts a little sticky (especially to the right) and has choppy, short strides for the first 5 minutes of every lunge session.  This made it a little rough to see any irregularities since she had short tight little steps (like normal) and was a little stiffer/weird looking to the right (also tragically normal). 

I didn't push it, since P was slowly getting more excited and attempting some little buck-hop-wiggle things that I'm pretty sure aren't a great idea if there is anything strained or weird going on.

Anyway, before I iced and re-wrapped, I took a few quick pics of Miss Pia's legs. 

Here's my helpful summary:

That lump in the middle of her leg is what's freaking me out.  It's not squishy, it's not even warm.  It could have been there forever as far as I know, but now that I'm in freak out mode, I'm freaking out. (well, kinda. I mean, I'm not panicked, but I'm constantly staring at it like if I turn my back on it,  the leg lump might try to bite me).

She's still standing on it evenly, still walking great, still being mostly normal, but that lump is staring at me like it's just threatening to cripple her at any moment. 

Long story short, I sent an exceptionally long email off to my vet this am detailing P's every activity since last Thursday when the mystery heat showed up... I also included pics just in case he isn't busy with anything else..

Right now my plan is to keep her on stall rest (with some hand walking) for the rest of the week and assuming nothing changes, I'll get her in to the vet either Friday or Monday for some ultrasounds.  If the vet calls back with panic in his voice, we'll go this week... if not, we'll give her the weekend to mend a bit. 

Here's a profile of her left front.. you can see the swelling in her fetlock is totally gone, but that bump is slightly visible... (boo hiss).

and a clean version of the first picture...

Fingers crossed.  At least the lady is behaving herself and MUCH more happy to be on stall rest at a barn where she still has a small run and can see all the other ponies around her..

 Man, I hope this is a small setback.  Our blog posts got really boring really quick last time we were laid up... there's just only so many ways to take cute pictures of P in the crossties - Pictures under saddle are much (much, much, much) more fun...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Slow and Steady??

So, this weekend I got whisked off to a fun spot East of the mountains where we didn't do much other than eat, sleep, hike and repeat.  What a treat.  I felt a lot better leaving P knowing that the swelling had gone down, and she was confined to her stall.

 I mean... I missed P, but I wasn't "missing" her that much...

In spite of the totally gorgeous scenery and totally fantastic wine, still couldn't get the "what if" voices totally out of my brain, so I convinced the Boy to make a barn stop on our way back into town.  I left instructions for the BO to keep on the ice/wrap strategy unless her legs were ice cold and perfectly even.  I also left my bute out in case there was any residual swelling that needed a little nudge to get out. I also told her that she could call/email/text if anything was funky, but if it was mostly normal that she didn't need to bother herself with updating me with "more of the same."  I feel guilty enough having people go out of their way to ice/wrap my beast...

I got to the barn about 4pm, P's wraps were off and there wasn't any nasty swelling (yesss). But she did still have a touch of heat in her pastern, and she jogged out pretty well, but still looked a little stilted to me.  Nothing was setting alarm bells off, but I still just groomed her up, patted her nose and stuck her back in her stall...

I didn't cross paths with the Bo at all, so this morning I got a call from her just asking what my plan was and letting me know that she still wasn't giving P any turnout due to a slight spot of heat about halfway up her cannon bone (uhh, what?).

I consider myself pretty sensitive to heat, and very thorough with leg checks, but I hadn't noticed anything about heat partially up her leg.  It makes me nervous since that would clearly NOT be a joint issue, and would most likely be indicative of a tendon/ligament strain, but I can't believe that I would have missed it.  Pro's include that it's not swollen, and hasn't been obvious to me at all in our most recent examinations.  Also, P is standing squarely and not favoring either leg when she's just meandering around or standing quietly, also that she isn't tender to the touch on her left front at all anymore.

Worries include the fact that she's still jogging out stiff (though not lame) and that there's a mystery heat spot on her leg.  I'm so flipping paranoid that there's a strain that I don't want to chance ANYTHING that would make it worse.  So, as of today the plan of action includes a week off, no turnout and continuing with daily ice/wrapping.  If at the end of the week there's still a hint of any heat/swelling/oddities, then I'll get the vet out and we'll do some imaging. 

The idea of putting her back to work on a compromised tendon or ligament makes me nauseous just to think about.  Of course, considering a 9-12 month recovery also makes me a little queasy.. ugh.

So, fingers crossed for P. I've never had a soft tissue injury that lost swelling as quickly as this.. but still, this mare doesn't do anything in a predictable fashion...

On a random note, my parents have been cleaning their attic out and finding all sorts of lovely little treasures... thought I'd share a picture from one of my first horse trials ever.  Love my pony's long gross mane, my rubber boots and my show.... sweatshirt?!? I can't believe my trainer let me out of the start box like that, but I'm sure it was just a little schooling Pony Club show.. Regardless, yikes.  I'm so obsessed with turnout these days I can't fathom riding out like that..

Friday, September 17, 2010

Serious Heat: Part II

Okay, Okay, so I know I started the last post off with "I'm getting ahead of myself, but..." so I know I was freaking out prematurely, but that's what us owners do, right?  We see a scrape or a bash or something and immediately our brains are three vet visits down the road adding up ultrasounds, coming up with rehab contingencies and thinking the worst.

I think it's part of our charm...

I should also back up by saying that yesterday, I left work in a great mood. I was on my way to a lesson, then I was getting a mani (yeah, I know I get manicures and ride horses, it's not a great combo, but it's not the stupidest habit I have..) and THEN I got to go home and get ready for a weekend away with The Boy.

Except, the horse was broken, I screwed up my mani before I was out the door, and The Boy told me that a job at work meant we wouldn't be leaving at 12pm like I had hoped, instead it was going to be like 7pm. THEN we have a 4 hour drive. So basically my dreams of a third great ride, a fun night preparing and a romantic dinner to start the weekend were out the window.  F.

These things definitely contributed to my fatalistic attitude and outlook toward P's puffy fetlock.

Regarless, I popped out to the barn at my lunch break to see what was happening with the wraps off for a few hours to find Pia happily munching hay in her stall and standing squarely on both front feet.

uhhh, what?

Took her out, felt around.  She's still got a touch of heat and a teeeeeny bit of swelling but for the most part? for the most part it looked mostly normal and even more exciting, was the fact that I could man handle it without her pawing her hoof around like I was trying to saw her leg off.

I took her out to the driveway and jogged her out (sound).  Walked her in a circle (sound). poked further... (still sound).  I cannot even begin to describe how huge a relief this is.. but just to be on the cautious side, I threw the icepack on for another 20 min and got ready to wrap the front legs back up again.

Oh, then while I'm icing the beast, I get a phone call from The Boy.  His job is ahead of schedule and he shoudl be good to go by 2pm.  Yessssssssssssssss.

Now all I need to fix is my mani...

Here are a few pics.  They are a little fuzzy, but you can see that her left front doesn't look hugely different from her right front.. and I will TAKE IT.  I am being cautious though.  She's getting the weekend off, one more day of stall rest and one more day of bute.  Fingers are crossed that's all we will need to do...

 Not the prettiest... but so, so, so much better than yesterday!

It's hard to tell with the blur, but fetlocks are almost the same size...

Also, because I was feeling exceptionally great about everything, we splurged on a fun new bridle and pretty pad from Pink Equine.  I LOVE their stuff.  And also, their sale section is A-MA-ZING.  seriously, these bridles are like $170 in Dressage Extensions, and on sale it's $43 buckaroos!

Sooo we picked up a new bridle - black with "candyfloss" padding.  Cuter!!

Also, then just because I was browsing and I was already paying for S&H from England... we got this pretty little pad.

I love the quilting.

God, I'm an impulse shopper... Anyway, moral of the story?
P's leg is looking more like a pasture bruise than a shredded tendon, and I like things with pink on them.

Happy Weekends everyone!

Serious Heat

I thought about not even posting today, thinking that if I can somehow sit quiet for a day or two, it might magically help, but eh, screw it.  Whether this turns out to be a real situation, or simply a stupid horse self inflicted smack, no reason not to get a record of my thoughts and observations down..


Yesterday...  Yesterday I was thrilled to get to the barn for our third lesson in a row and to keep moving forward on our balance exercises, particularly our counter canter.  After our ride on Tuesday, I threw standing wraps on P's hind legs since she's been working pretty hard and they had just a hint of some fill in them when I had gotten there to tack up.  I must say that she looked fantastically adorable in her navy wraps and cute new navy snuggly blanket... I definitely made a mental note for any early spring shows that might require a dress sheet on the grounds... (not that I'm getting ahead of myself..).

Anyway, I asked the BO to pull her wraps in the morning and let me know how the legs looked.  She did, they were cool and tight. (Perfect).  P had her normal day of full turnout and came back in a bit before I made it to the barn to start getting her geared up for our lesson.  That is, until I pulled her into the cross ties and she refused to step forward.  At All. Whatsoever. 

A quick glance let me see her obviously swollen left front fetlock (no, no, no), and since P is always one to lean towards the dramtic, she sat there, refusing to bear weight, choosing instead to stand about 4 feet back in the crossties so that they pulled her halter forward... brilliant.

Just as I started looking down to assess the situation, BO came into the barn and did a double take.  I walked her up and down the barn aisle twice... and she seemed fine.  I tried to jog (with limited success), but she seemed fine.  We went out into the pouring rain for an actual jog on the gravel, she seemed fine, although irritated by the rain... what a princess.

I took her back to the barn and started poking and prodding.  P's legs are definitely "warmer" than most horses, so a teensy bit of warmth is normal for her.  she's never had ice cold legs, but that makes me all the more paranoid when I start feeling around and my brain starts racing.  It only takes a moment for me to go from "she probably whacked it in her stall or turnout" to a full blown panic of "holy crap, I tore every single ligament yesterday, every leg is hot, I broke my horse."

It's not helpful, its not even accurate, but it's hard to stop the panic train once it starts.  I decided since she was walking mostly sound, that I would  poke and prod her, then walk for a few minutes to see if that reduced the swelling before icing and wrapping and buting her up for the night.

After a not very professional examination, here's the story:

Left fetlock very swollen, right fetlock is tight.
The left has some serious heat, mostly to the outside of the joint
Pia is ginger on it. as soon as you touch the joint she picks it up and wants it away from you.
She's about the same sensitivity on the inside/outside/front/back of the joint.  No intense localized response.
She's walking mostly sound, and jogged out without looking 3-legged-lame.

This made me think that a hand walk wasn't going to cripple her, so I threw the bridle on, took her to the ring and stuck her on the lunge.  Thank god she was calm, though I think she was ouchy enough to stay pretty chill...

She walked FINE. She tracked up, she seemed even to the left and the right, her neck was loose and stretchy, she willingly stuck her nose on the ground, etc.  When I asked her to trot, it was a different story.  She sort of shuffled up into the trot, took a few mincing steps then skipped into a baby little hopping canter - which made my heart sink a little.  I dropped her back to the walk and let her amble around for about 10 minutes before rechecking the joint. 

Much of the swelling had gone down, and I could see the shape of the joint again, which was nice, and she certainly wasn't getting more sore on it with the ten minutes of movement (also a plus).  BUT, the reluctance to trot had me pretty concerned.   We went back to the barn, iced for 20 mintues, then I started wrapping all her legs up.  Standing in the cross ties she was doing an excellent job of keep that left front totally weight free, which continued to freak me out quite a bit.  We shoved some bute in her mouth and I kept staring at the joint.  I'm hoping that she just smacked the crap out of it in her stall or out in turnout, but who knows.  My major condolence is that the BO did a fairly thorough leg check in the am when she pulled wraps, and didn't notice anything off at that point.  I'd like to think that if it was related to our rides on Monday or Tuesday that the swelling would have surfaced by then, right??

Regardless, I wrapped her left front last and she was having NONE of it.  Finally, I had to ask another boarder to hold her right front up just to keep her left front on the ground long enough.  I could tell that P was leaning HARD on her, and really wasn't interested in standing on her left at all. 

She always walks funny with wraps on, but this was epic.  Thankfully I had wrapped her about 3 feet from her stall, because when I started to lead her back in to her dinner, she basically hopped back on three legs.  What the cuss, mare!? what did you do!?

I stuck around and watched her in her stall.  She was resting it, but not exclusively.  She was comfy enough to stick her head down and scarf her dinner down.. so that's a plus, but I'm still concerned. 

One mare in the barn has massive hole in her suspensory, one gelding is about to have check ligament surgery, another guy just got IRAP, and the list goes on and on.  It's hard not to think that this could be something in that category...

Oh, did I mention that the other Wobbler in the barn is constantly straining tendons and ligaments because he's so "loose" in his movement? Well he is, in fact he's just starting back under saddle after a few months off on his latest sabbatical..

The BO let me know that as of this morning, P was still ginger on the left front (all other legs look cool, well cool for her.., and tight).  I'm headed out there for lunch to see how badly the swelling comes back, to cold hose, and to re-wrap the beast if necessary. 

I'm sad.  But I'm trying not to get ahead of myself, and only time will tell if she just bonked herself hard on a fence or something, or if there was a serious slip in the ring.. It's hard for me not to think of Andrea and Gogo.. and how slight the trigger for all her woes were, but I'm not going there yet.  Not until this thing stays around for a few more days. 

Poor mare.  This is a crappy way to ask for a few days off....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Two Lessons

Well, the beast and I have had two lessons in a row this week (a third to come today) and they have been... productive.  For one thing, trainer lady dropped my stirrup leathers by two holes (TWO HOLES) because I ride like a jumper and apparently not like a DQ of any sort.  I'm good with long stirrup lengths, but a long leg combined with my loose (well, loose for me) seat makes me riding out P's buck storms a little more difficult.... not that I should always be super defensive, but still.  It's a consideration. 

Yesterday, I got to the barn super early, and the ring was empty so I switched up our routine and let the mare free lunge for a moment before grooming her up.  She tore around like an idiot, got some bucks out then promptly returned to me after about 5 minutes of playing around.  My idea was to let her loosen up that way, and skip the regular pre-ride lunge. 

I popped on about 15 minutes before our lesson to give us plenty of time to walk around and loosen up, which went pretty well.  Pia was tight, but not anxious, and we were able to get a good solid lap of quiet walking in both directions.  This is such an improvement over where we were two months ago, that I'm sort of beside myself.  Our trot work was great too.  We worked more of our increase/decrease stride lengths and P seems to really enjoy it.  I only try to hold either gait for about 6-8 strides at a time, which prevents her from getting too unbalanced or too stuck in either mode.  In fact, the increase/decrease exercise has proved to be our best reset button should P get too stuck/stressed/freaked out or just plan combative.  Something about it makes her relax, calm back down, and when necessary, shove her eyeballs back in her head. 

We touched lightly on leg yields, popped over some cavaletti (still confused as to whether we trot or canter through those..) and then went straight to canter work. 

This is when P started to pitch a fit. 

We know that she hates canter departs (especially to the right), but so far giving her a nudge of shoulder in before asking seems to set her up nicely, and results in quiet, normal upward transitions.  Of course today we worked on some nice shallow canter loops, before going full bore into counter canter circles.


That just fried her little brain circuit.  The first couple were fine.  Then she started to anticipate the painful balancing exercise and got really heavy on her forehand, then she started just flat out ignoring me, running through my hand/bucking/acting like a general pig. 

After a few reps, her head was so wound up that we stopped, relaxed with some trot work and reversed direction.  Asking her to hold her left lead to the right just about caused a meltdown, so we got one "decent" circle, and called it a day.  I haven't seen her work herself into such a tizzy in months.  I couldn't tell what it was a combo of, but she got so short and stabby with her left hind that I was worried that she had maybe tweaked something a bit.. and given the Wobbler's that is lingering I didn't want to push it.

As I digested the lesson, I thought that maybe our free lunge contributed to the tension, and maybe she was tight after her day off.. but who knows. regardless I decided on a different approach for our second lesson and opted for light lunging before I got on.

Well, as soon as we hit the ring, the mare was all sorts of puffed up, antsy and overly concerned about the rain on the roof, everyone else eating dinner and cars passing by.  I had some stern words with her regarding ground manners, snapped the side reins on and started to lunge.  Aside from a serious tempo change whenever she was headed toward home, she was a good girl. relaxed pretty well, definitely listened, and there was no sign of the stabby left hind I had felt at the end of Tuesday's ride (whew).

I still don't love that she goes from tracking up perfectly at the walk to a stilted, crappy, sewing machine trot on the lunge, even if it is something she works out of after 10 minutes... I would love to get to the point where she is able to skip the step of antsy, crappy trot and go straight to relaxed and swinging, but I recognize that I'm just being a little greedy about that right now.

Anyway, I got on, and she was immediately waaaaaay more tense than Tuesday.  We could barely walk without jigging, and Pia was already ignoring my seriously aggressive half halts... fantastic.

Our trot took about 15 minutes to really warm up, then we were back to canter departs.. followed by some tragic attempts at 10 meter circles (I can't even discuss that failure yet) before we revisited our counter canter.  (crap).

This time, our plan was to immediately downward transition to a trot as soon as Pia showed any hint of falling out of balance or racing wildly around the corners... great theory. 

Of course, it's not totally P's fault, she's battling my position, which still isn't great, and between her sensitivity, my desire to "pump" with my shoulders and the wobblers... we don't have a snowball's chance of completely a counter canter circle unless I seriously get my act together and keep her super light and super straight. 

Which we did, about twice.  Other than that either I was falling in, or she was falling in, or we were both collapsing in a tragic heap.  But, the victory was in the fact that P tried really hard, she only bucked once during a transition, and by the end of our ride we were fairly balanced and never hit that "maximum brain load" that we seemed to trigger on Tuesday. 

I've taken a cue from an old pony club friend and started dismounting for our cool downs, so that P maybe will start to figure out that when I'm on, we're working (even at the walk) and when I'm off, she's done.  Who knows if it'll help her, but she gets so sticky after walk breaks, that it can't hurt any...

On the fun side of things, P's pretty new cooler/sheet thingy came today and I LOVE it.  It was a total score on Tack of the Day and I'm so so so glad we got it.  It looks more like a robe than anything, but it's super luxurious, pretty and absoutely the last thing this mare needs.  Lord knows Super-Mom loaded us up on a full wardrobe, but apparently I too, am a huge sucker for playing dress up. It's so adorable though, this thick suede on the outside, and fluffy fleece on the inside??? It's a wonder I didn't curl up in it after our ride :)

P seemed to like it too.  Although she was significantly more interested in the apple I was holding in order to get her ears to perk up for a picture...

so cozy.  can't wait for it to be colder out :)

Oh, on the super fun side, I was down visiting one of our branch locations where I always get to talk horses with the manager because he keeps a couple SERIOUS pack horses who he takes into the mountains every weekend with his wife. One of these summers I'm going to have to join them for a ride cause his pictures look just too fun...

But my favorite picture? One of him riding an OTTB he rescued for $400, on top of this rad mountain ridge and perfectly sunny skies.  What's even cooler is that you probably know the Plain Jane TB, though he now goes by Poggio.  Yeah, Poggio, Amy Tryon's Olympic mount, four star eventing machine, just got retired and is beloved by eventers everywhere, Poggio.  That one. 

Yup, one of my managers bought him, rode him, then sold him because he "was brave, but his feet didn't like the trails."

I guess we all have our calling, right?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Optimax Upgrades??

I am officially one of those girls who has a mild panic attack if I can't immediately locate my phone or have it within grabbing distance.  When I go to meetings, I keep my phone out. When I go to lunch, it's on the table. At the barn? it's in my pocket till I head to the ring (unless P is being a beast, then I find some way to strap it to my body in case I get ejected and need to dial 911 from the ground...)

So, you can imagine my surprise when I went to get in my car for lunch today and saw my phone on my seat. "weird" I thought, "did I really not check it all morning??"

Clearly I had a backlog of customers/clients/employees who had been attempting to find me all day, but one number stood out..... MY LOCAL TACK SHOP. 

This could only mean two things

1) I finally won one of those damn drawings I always enter at the register on a regular basis

Since never, not once in my life have I ever won a drawing, I (naturally) assumed it was news on my saddle.

Which it was.

But not that it shipped.  (waaaaah)

Apparently, Prestige is "upgrading" the Optimax line, and I needed to decide if I wanted to wait for the upgrades, and therefore delay my saddle further, or decline the upgrades and push production through with the old specs, which would put my saddle in my hot little hands by the middle of October.

Sigh. I am SUCH a creature of instant gratification, it's nearly impossible for me to delay anything (lunch, purchases, major decisions..) in the name of due diligence or potentially increased quality.

I swalled my immediate response of "I WANT IT NOW" and calmly asked what exactly was being upgraded/changed

- the billets, for increased stability
- the panels to allow slightly more shoulder freedom
- the leather, to make it more durable
- some of the interior stitching to prevent tears. 

I'm not so impulsive that I miss the importance of these upgrades, or of the fact that I'm investing some serious cash in this thing and a few more weeks just aren't that tragic.  But still my little shoulder devil was whispering things like "but you saw the old one, with the old leather and the old panels and it was fine..." 

I did a quick google search to see if I could find anything on the changes, and of course I can't.  So  for once the internet is not helpful, but ultimately I decided that I should be a big kid and wait for the improvements.  My saddle gal swears that she's put the screws to them and is guilting them into an expedited production....

I hope so, and I hope my trainer does get annoyed with me in her tack all the time.  She's generously letting me ride Pia in her lovely buffalo Custom Saddlery, which is definitely spoiling me.  That thing is comfy as the day is long, and also keeps me locked and loaded even with P's biggest objections...

Apparently patience is a virtue.. I'll just add it to the list of those I'm missing....

Monday, September 13, 2010

On the 8th Day.. She Rested

As I was driving to work this morning, I spent my commute digesting my day at the barn yesterday... Thinking about how even though P had some big hissy fits, I left the barn feeling invigorated, excited and extremely in tune with her.  I give the girl some serious credit for working seven full (hard) days in a row, so today she gets a much deserved day off to doze, and relax and eat, eat, eat.

I started a habit when I first began to take lessons of replaying the entire lesson in my head the day after my ride.  Initially, I think this stemmed from an intense desire to stretch out the enjoyment of my coveted weekly lesson, but as I got older, and my riding theoretically better, it turned into a really productive learning tool for me. 

I've been told that I take direction well (I'm snotty, bratty, and usually stubborn, but if a coach or teacher or trainer says something, I rarely argue..) but often its hard to fully absorb all of the comments as they come flying at me.  Usually it takes some casual daydreaming to think back to our exercises and what felt good (or bad) and what adjustments I made (or didn't) before I totally process what our takeaway was. During my ride its all I can do to be making the adjustments, feeling the difference, then making more adjustments. Especially right now, when I'm fighting a serious loss of muscle memory in addition to still getting used to Miss Pia.  (she's still "new" in my head).

Right now there is so much to work on that its somewhat overwhelming.  But some of my top priorities are...

Getting my equitation and balance back:  Right now my elbows are out, my shoulders are slouchy, I drop my inside hip and shoulder all to easily and my jammed down heels and turned out toe are ready for me to take on a hunter course, but don't exactly resemble the long, relaxed soft dressage leg of DQ's everywhere...

Getting P straight: Right now I seem to be capable of either getting her straight, or me straight.  As soon as I even out my weight and pay attention to me, she manages to pop her butt off the rail, or pop her shoulder, or blow through my outside aids, or something... and when I get her straight, I turn into a gnarled, slouchy mess.  All I can say is thank god for mirrors and trainers who don't mind repeating themselves constantly.

Anyway, as I was driving to work I was replaying our lesson, and thinking about the really good positive moments we had, and how even though she threw her biggest bucks with me in months, I felt more in control and more confident on her than ever.  It finally feels like we're working hard enough and trying new things often enough that we're progressing.  Things are far from perfect, but it's awesome just to be attacking new exercises and having those breakthrough moments where P figures out the answers to new questions.  It's been a long time since I've worked with the same horse long enough to really feel that connection and enjoy the small successes that come with every ride.

I guess maybe that's what I felt so relaxed and calm after our ride yesterday.  Well, that and the fact that after all of our canter work (figure-8's, leg yields - kinda), P was so pooped that we just lazed through untacking, taking a bath, grazing, and going for our neighborhood stroll.... it was a great wind down.

Also, I don't think I mentioned it yesterday, but Saturday we had a barn party, which obviously included copious amounts of wine and cheese... (perfection)  There are three fairly new boarders to the barn, so I really enjoyed the opportuity to chat and sit down with everyone and swap war stories/hear how we all ended up at the same facility without anyone darting in and out of the tackroom/feedroom/arena/etc.  For all the time we spend at the barn and chat with our fellow boarders, it's rare that I fine myself in a conversation for more than 10 minutes with any one person.  In retrospect I guess that chance to socialize and get to know everyone is also boosting my sense of calm and happiness. 

After our wine/cheese fest 5 of us ended up in the ring at the same time, and for once, I wasn't self conscious about my ride at all.  Folks were zipping around in big, pretty trots (weird, I guess not every mare throws hissy fits..), one lady was hand walking her old schoolmaster and I was pleased as punch to be flinging around on Miss P just attempting to find a regular tempo and a semblance of a relaxed back..

Long story short. I'm enjoying the process of digesting my lessons instead of vet calls, and P more than deserves her day off today.  I'm lucky enough to get lessons on Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday this week.. which means that I'll have plenty to be thinking bout as I sit in traffic on the bridge as I perpetually cross the lake...

Good Mare...

Photo credits to Super-Mom.  I'm love, love, loving all of the shots she got last week...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Buck, Snort, Buck-Snort-Snort

Still computerless.. So I'm winging it on the phone, which inherently means that my sentences are half their usual length an I can't string together a coherent paragraph :)

(look our topline is coming back!!)

P and I had a lesson today, an it went 'pretty well.'. It wasn't perfect, but I felt great about it, and we crossed some goals off our list, so I'm calling it good.

I was late getting to the barn, so I mentally prepared to just get on without lunging regardless of the mares energy level. Realistically, I wasn't worried since she's worked 6 days in a row and shouldn't have too many bucks in her...

As we walked up to the ring, the BO was dragging, which I assumed would be a 'monster' but the mare didn't seem to care (yesssssss). Finally we got in, got on and started walking. She was a gem. Nice and relaxed and not too looky or excited at all.

The first half of our ride was good. Pretty relaxed, nice medium/collection transitions and P stayed pretty calm.

Then we switched things up and did our canter work before any lateral which resulted in our biggest 'discussion' in a while. I started to the right, which is definitely our stickier side and P was NOT interested. Got a spectacular buck and run down the long side during our first transition, and a few more bronc fits in our subsequent ones.

So the BO put us on a figure eight with a simple change in the middle and we drilled it till the mare calmed down/accepted my right leg. Once she chilled out a little we worked leg yields athe trot before playing with them at the canter. (whoa).

Off my left leg, she was a star. Off my right leg, more buck, snort, buck, buck, snort action. Splendid.

After a few reps we called it a day. She gave a good effort and we could tell all the canter work was draining the gas tank pretty quick.

The mare got a long walk, bath and stroll off property to unwind. So essentially I think it was a good day.

- we got on without lunging (yay!)
- we worked some serious canter transitions, even though there were some sticky spots
- we walked off property, quite calmly might I add (yay!)
- we got clean and smell like a coconut. :)

That's a great Sunday at the barn.

Oh, and even though the Piasaurous threw some nasty bucks, I rode her through them and 'won.'
So There.

Leg on!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, September 9, 2010


So I'm stuck in our exec retreat for the next three days which means no computer, but I'm sneaking in a Pia update via iPhone as I get shuttled into meetings...

P. Is. A. Rockstar.
Yesterday, we had a lesson, and she was rad. We lunged our warmup without sidereins (yes). And aside from being terrified of the cavaletti as the BO pulled them out of storage, she was a gem.

We warmed up well, fought through some leg yields, I won. Did some lengthenings, she was a stud. The. We moved on to our canter work. Her transitions were a bit sticky, but we played with some medium canter down the long side and. She. Rocked. It.

Balanced, forward, contolled. Rockstar.

We lengthened down the long side, then collected on the short side, 10 meter circle at A/C then medium down the long side.

I was dumbfounded by her balance. Three months ago the thought of a 10 meter canter circle would have sent Pia's brain into overload, but this week? This week she's a forward, happy, balanced horse. (love her).

After our canter we played with the cavaletti at the trot. BO set up four of them at the medium height and P picked her way through carefully the first time.

The second time, she decided that baby-canter-strides were a much better idea, and somehow she fit them into the trot pole spacing..

Eventually she decided that trotting was better and we ended the day on that.

What a gem. I love this mare.
ps- Super-Mom sent us some ahh-maaa-zing photos tonight. I'll share more of them when I'm back to a real computer, but WOW. She got some great shots of the princess...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September Goals!

Ok, last time I tried to set some month long goals we skidded down the path to Wobblers and never looked back.  Honestly, there were so many choices about treatment and surgery and how to not make things worse in the meantime, that the whole idea of having actual goals to be accountable for went out the window.

Long story short, I might be tempting the equine gods by setting some goals, but I think it's time to get myself thinking about where Pia and I are headed and what baby steps are going to be along the way. So here we go:

  1. Clean, smooth, regular transitions for WTC.  We're close to this, but every once in a while she still thinks that it's appropriate to kick/hop/pin ears and ignore me.  Canter is our biggest challenge, even though she's been good the last few days.
  2. My Equitation.  This girl needs to remember how to keep her elbows in, toes not turned out like a 12 year old hunter/jumper kid, and take up more of my weight in my thigh.  I'm out of riding shape, and the lack of lessons/mirrors have taken their toll on my position.  This goal might be on here for a while, but especially early on I need to focus on staying even and balanced, lest I make things even harder for the Piasaurous. 
  3. Ride Without Lunging.  So far, the BO has done it, but I've been too chicken to get on the girl without at least a brief lunge session to see where her brain is for the day.  I don't mind lunging, but as I've said (probably too many times) before, I don't want lunging to be a crutch, or even a regular occurrence in the name of saving her hocks, and also mixing up her routine.
  4. Continue with Body Work.  Have P worked on at least one more time during September. I think she responded really well to it last time, and I know I could use the massage, so I'm sure she can too...
  5. Walk Off Property.  I'm antsy to at least trailer the beast to Bridle Trails or something soon for some new scenery and a chance to let her eyeballs soak in something other than her usual digs, but realistically with my work schedule and a few weekend trips that are planned that won't happen.  But I can walk the girl down the driveway and test the waters just off the farm.  Seems reasonable.  And also obtainable. :)
On the horizon, I'd like to feel rock solid at Training Level, and get a few trips off property under our belt in 2010.  If I could wave a magic wand, I'd love to get to a little schooling show, but I don't have a hard and fast agenda for that.

I'm feeling good about where we're going. and even better about the fact that Pia has totally calmed her head down since her massive week of tantrums.  The BO had a good ride on her yesterday (after two days off this weekend), which means that the good behavior is holding, even if she doesn't get her bucks out every single day.  Another encouraging point? the fact that the barn has some minor construction going on (dirt work, building a new shelter, tearing some stuff up..) so the mare stayed calm even without turnout AND with horse eating monster machines running around the property.

Good Mare. 

Hope everyone had restful weekends.  I might actually be sore from constantly dancing on our deck with a glass/goblet of wine in hand.  (I'm sure that counts as cardio??)  Can't wait to get out and see the mare this evening...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Super-Mom Visit v2.0

Last night P and I had the pleasure of another visit from her original Super-Mom/Breeder/Disciplinarian, Danielle.  Last time the Super-Mom made it up for a visit we were at our old barn (boo-hiss) and P was getting ready for her first (I hate that there was more than one) Myelogram. 

Admittedly, Pia looked pretty good during that visit, since she still had a ton of muscle on her from our initial months of work, plus some chub from a few weeks of being laid up while we diagnosed the Wobbler situation, but her mental space left a little something to be desired...

She was antsy, squealing like a maniac in the crossties and terrorizing any barn worker who dared enter her stall to feed the princess her meals.  (if you forgot what a mare-monster she was click back to this post on Super-Mom's first attitude adjustment... :) ).

This visit she is a little bit skinnier (initial weight loss from increased turnout, and being back to work), but so, so, sooooooo much happier.  She practically dozes off while you groom her, and there's no hint of the sensitive, squealing pig-mare that Super-Mom saw last time... for which I was thankful.  Yesterday, P tacked up like a good girl, walked to the ring like a good girl, but managed to get a little wound up about getting lunged.  So on went the side reins, and forward went the mare.  She didn't pull any additional crap, and in spite of being slightly more spirited than the last couple of days, none of my red-flag-alarm-bells were going off in my brain before I hopped on.

I warmed her up, and we got another good ride!! (for anyone who's counting that's four -one, two, three, four - good rides in a row. CHAMPION!).  She was a tiny bit more stuck behind my leg to start, but she moved off, and did really well.  We did our traveling 10meter circles up and down the longside, some leg yields and practiced opening up our stride for a few steps, then coming back nicely.  Her biggest sticking point is still moving off my right leg, but yesterday she was just "stiff" off of it, not "wretched."  So that's the sort of problem I can work with.

After about 20 minutes I popped off and had Super-Mom get on.  I haven't seen her on P since before I bought her, which made me extra happy about the chance to watch her ride.

SO FUN to watch Super-Mom ride her.  It only took her about 3 minutes to get Pia moving out (without spurs) and reaching over her back and into the bit.  I can't get a great sense for exactly how P moves when I'm on her, but if there's any shred of self awareness left in my riding, I'm fairly certain that SM added about eight more inches to her stride and really had her lifting through her shoulder a lot more than I've been able to.

The great news is that Super-Mom brought her super-great camera with her and we took about a gazillion photos, so I'll be sure to post some as soon as we sort through the tragic ones and pick a few that are great.  SM also managed to figure out the video function on the camera so there's some footage of me early on, but since neither of us realized she had a microphone, the accompanying chatter is less than inspiring, which means we might have to figure out how to scrub that out before it gets posted. :)

Other than that, I'm off to the cabin (again) for the long weekend.  P probably deserves a few days off, but the BO will certainly be getting a couple of rides in before I'm back.  I have to say that I am ending this week in such a different place mentally than I started it - and it feels great.  I'm over a big obstacle at work, one of my best friends in the world is here visiting, and I'm over the moon about Pia and feeling like maybe some of the clouds have finally parted for a bit. 

Here's to a strong, fun filled week, some fun rides and a long weekend. 

Next week it's time to actually come up with some goals for September.. but until then.. Leg On.
(and happy labor day!)
Aside from whatever is between P's ears... this is my all-time favorite, most relaxing view..
and it makes for fantastic sunsets...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Intrepid Riders Faction Blog Award!!

OMG! We got an award from Denali & Denali's Mom over at Green n Green = Black n Blue!! What fun! (Lucky for me I finally started riding my mare again this week, otherwise the term "rider" wouldn't be quiiiiite so appropriate. ;) )

Here's what kind words Denali's Mom had to say about us!

When I saw that I got this award there was one person that I knew deserved it. She just FINALLY bought a horse (who is BEAUTIFUL by the way) who started giving her troubles going to the right. She, being the good horse mom, found out through lots of $$$ that she was a "Wobbler." She did her research, found out everything she needed to know, and planned for surgery. She had JUST bought this horse. What a good mom. LUCKILY, it was decided that she didn't need surgery, and Miss Pia, being the princess that she is, is starting back to work. I fell like Miss Denali and Miss Pia come from the same Mare Finishing School. They both have VERY particular opinions on thing, and like to make sure that those opinions are heard. Ms. Denali and I are looking forward to seeing Gingham and Pia at the shows sometime soon!! Ms. Pia and Ms. Denali live about 20 miles from one another as the crow flies. Could you imagine these two princesses at the same barn? Not sure anyone could handle that.

What a fun way to start our day! Thanks to DM and Miss Denali for thinking of us!  I think our mares are definitely kindred spirits (at least when it comes to mischief, mayhem and destruction).... and I always look forward to seeing what adventures Denali and her mom have been up to, and relish the humor and enthusiasm that DM seems to approach the struggles of horse/velociraptor ownership with. :)
INTREPID RIDERS FACTION ~We strive to go where others only dare to go with our horse loves...healing,being respectful of the horse, riding, playing, camping, jumping, swimming and traveling down the trails of life. . . . with the horse in Heart ~ Overcoming many obstacles and sometimes weather, to ride!

This Award is dedicated to those Horse lovers and riders that inspire others to go deeper in ability, knowledge and understanding of the Equine(s) they have been entrusted to.The good of the horse is the ultimate goal apart from pressures to achieve ribbons and fit into lesson schedules.

~Some of These riders are fearless, when it comes to weather conditions and the forecasting of them...being with their horses, fills these folks' soul and takes the cares out of daily routines.

~They are unconditionally loving to the horse and may have rescued it from known ailment or living condition.

~Others have researched and purchased/ acquired their horse, to find a difficulty in temperament or a physical burden within the animal. Yet, Being dedicated , they have persevered to proudly be in partnership with their horse, lovingly striving for deeper awareness's between them.

~Some horse lovers may have been riding for years and suddenly, had an accident that takes them away from the great joy and freedom they have, being aboard such a magnificent animal. ~They have allowed the healing horse to rise in their hearts once again, and beckon them back!

~Fear is not my normal response to things ... just a desire to achieve higher understanding of what may lay ahead of me with my mare, that truly is a gift to my heart and soul. I always seek out knowledgeable and caring individuals to assist me, in any quest I may look into.

I am taking with me the good I have leaned from caring individuals that have shown great single minded LOVE to the horse, and am leaving the dust of the bad behind me, not allowing it to fetter my supreme desire to be all I can be : as a rider to my mare or gelding and also - to allow- her to be the Equine athlete she truly is!

There are not many rules with this award...JUST :

1)that you give it to only one person
2)link back to this post, so they may have an understanding to it's true nature. 
3) You may use any or all of the written descriptions, with the award picture.

This award made me immediately think of Rachel and Granite who blog their adventures over at Dapple of My Eye

Rachel has had her guy from the beginning and while my girl Pia might be "green," Granite wouldn't know a single thing if it weren't for her partnership, patience and training.  They've had their fair share of setbacks and delays as they make their way down the road together, but I admire the persistence and trust that Rachel always seems to display.  She's one of those impecable owners who balances, multiple jobs, friends, relationships, and big life changes without taking away from her main man Granite. 

Thanks for sharing your story Rachel! I love keeping up with it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Two Days and Counting...

Two Days.   That's how many days Miss P has been Miss Manners and minded herself nicely under saddle.

(sorry for all the re-used photos, I swear I'll have new ones soon!)

I popped out to the barn yesterday afternoon for P's pedicure (Have I mentioned how much I love, love, LOVE her barefoot??) and caught up with the BO about her morning ride.  I'd be lying if I said I ws confident that Pia was going to be a good girl from here on out, and I was a little concerned that even though she sucked it up and gave me a good ride Monday, I could envision the possibility of everything going sideways on Tuesday. 

Fortunately for me, the BO had nothing but a glowing report.  She gave P two quick corrections at the start, and the rest of the ride went smoothly.  She did mention that she swapped the side reins for a running martingale (as minor backup in case P decided to be uppity) and apparently it went well.  One of the items we discussed monday was whether or not the side reins made a difference for my ride, or if they were just a mental crutch for me.. Regardless of what purpose they served, they are not a long term solution, so experimenting with alternatives is a good idea. I mentioned that I liked the idea of a running martingale (helps if things go haywire, doesn't interfere if they don't...) more than draw reins, or anything else we discussed...

I started racking my brain for where I saw a black running martingale (I was looking for one a few weeks back and I swear I saw one somewhere..), but for the life of me I cannot remember which random tack site I saw it on... Anyway, the BO popped up to her tack storage area and came trotting back down with a martingale from the depths of her predominantly dressage tack trunk.  I had to giggle a little since it had the signature "pony" knots in the fork, which I'm pretty sure every 12 year old girl has tied at least once before hopping on for schooling/x-country/clinics, whatever.  In fact, as I thought about it, I started realizing how much stuff I had with permanent knots in it from the original pony.  Martingales, flash nosebands (I know, I know... just use a hole punch), reins... the list is fairly extensive..  Knots are a handy thing.:)

Anyway, BO pulled the knots out and we decided to give the martingale a go.  I'm glad to hear that it went well, and especially that Pia was forward and willing.  Apparently she even played around with some zig-zagging leg yields which is a moved I wouldn't have dreamed of attempting 2 months, or even 2 weeks ago.  (yay mare!).

Today we have our first lesson at the new barn, and I'm super excited.  It's nice to feel like we are moving in a forward direction (literally) again.  Fingers crossed that we stay on track! 

Leg On!
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