Thursday, April 28, 2016

I Never Did Much With Him

"You've got to be realistic." (Any Joe Abercrombie fans out there?)

I do have to be realistic and I think I might have reached my pinnacle. I think this as good as it will ever get, and I never did get to Grand Prix. Or even Prix St. George. 

I got to Third Level. 

And I really didn't do well at Third Level. 

But, the other day I was talking to someone who just got a Thoroughbred, and she's riding dressage, and I was showing her all the pictures I have in my phone of all the things I've done with Spider. 

She said, "Wow! You've done so much with him!" So, then I looked at it again, and sifted through the pictures of the decade I've spent with Spider. 


Hunter Paces

Beginner Lessons

More Hunter Paces

I wrote those first paragraphs a couple weeks ago, but never finished the post. Since then Spider has seen both both my trainer and my vet, who both say he's fine.

The conversation with my trainer actually went like this: (I'm riding Spider during this conversation.)

Trainer: "So, you feel that he is uneven?" 

Me: "No, I just feel like he's not quite right. Does he look uneven?"

Trainer: "No. He looks fine. What is it you're feeling?"

Me: "I feel like he's not picking that right hind up."

Trainer: "He never has. It is good you finally noticed." 

He's lucky he was standing across the arena, because I would have hit him with my whip if I were closer to him. But, he's right. That right hind has always been an issue with Spider. I've been riding Spots and Jack a lot more recently, and there's a damn good chance the only reason I thought Spider was feeling off was because I was spending more time riding horses that don't have the same training issues Spider does. There's something to be said for riding multiple horses, when you only ride one horse you can go sort of "blind" to some of their training issues.

My vet, who has also known Spider since I got him, only noted that during some parts of the lameness exam he seemed a little arthritic. 

We're going to try him on a course of previcox, an NSAID that's easier on their stomach than Bute,  and put him back into full work.

Now we move on to me. I'll get the results of my MRI and the new doctor's treatment plan next week. Until then, I'll keep plugging away.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

"Maybe It's Time To Start The Chestnut"

My view as I was I writing this.

My trainer has been in Florida all winter, and therefore not around to deal with the existential crisis I've been having about my and Spider's potential unsoundness.

I filled him in a couple days ago. His response: "Maybe it's time to start the chestnut."  

He means Jack, and he means that maybe it's time to move on and accept that maybe my training with Spider is over. 

He's a realist, that's just his personality. I'm an idealist, so my response was to tell him to fuck right off. 

It's the response of a petulant child when you try to take away her favorite toy. I know this, because I have two children and deal with this crap every day.

It doesn't change how I feel about it, though. I'm not going to give up my favorite toy without a lot of tears, tantrums, and sulking. I'll do the right thing, obviously, but I'm going to throw an epic fit about it. 

I'm having an MRI next week. I saw a new Doc, who looked at my X-rays, did a neurological exam, and immediately told me to stop riding. Being an idealist, I told him to fuck right off. (Yes, I actually said that.) Then he sighed, ordered the MRI, and agreed to try to fix me. I like this new guy, I think I can work with him.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Riding Journal 2016: Week One

We're back!

Sunday I didn't ride because it was Easter and I ate too much ham and potato salad, Monday rained and was crazy windy. That shouldn't really matter, but I was feeling unmotivated. I did do 20 minutes of yoga and 10 minutes on the rowing machine, though, because I can do that in the house. 

Tuesday I got Spider out. Nothing fancy or hard, a warm up at walk, trot serpentines and leg yields, canter, then back to trot. Forgot to turn on the thingy, but about 20 minutes. 

Wednesday: tight, reactive. Long warm up at walk, then Cantered mostly. A few canter trot canter transitions at the end. 

I started this post two weeks ago, but I never finished because things fell apart. Thursday I was just in too much in pain to even try riding, so I took the day off. My back didn't feel any better on Friday, so I took that day off, too. 

That Saturday I had a Hunter Pace, and I was bringing my friend who had never been to one and her 6 year old newly OTTB. So, I couldn't really back out on that! We were doing the "Fun" division, so that was no big deal. I rode in my Australian Stock Saddle, and Spider was his usual awesome Trail Boss self. He loves to trail ride, he's the only horse I've ever known who goes faster out onto the trail than he does coming home. Seriously, he balks if he knows the trail and knows we're headed home. He might have made one hell of an Endurance horse. 

I didn't feel too bad after the Hunter Pace. I was muscle sore, from being in the saddle for so many hours, but not the crippling arthritic pain that I had dealt with on Thursday and Friday. Spider was fine and in good spirits, too. 

We went back to work the next Monday, and the same thing happened to me again. I was in pain, not muscle pain but joint pain.  And then I noticed Spider wasn't quite right. He wasn't picking his right hind up like he should, he was dragging it a little. He probably pulled something running around like an idiot playing with 6 yr old Jack and 9 yr old Spots. 23 yr old Spider should know better. 

So, I took some more time off. Mostly to think....... 

I thought about my goals, what I wanted for my horses, what I was realistically capable of with my back and hips the way they are. 

"If I can Hunter Pace and be fine, but schooling 3rd Level collection renders me crippled on Spider and he's trained, and now he's a little off, how am I going to train Spots and Jack."

I thought and I thought and I thought. And I thought maybe we were done, maybe it was all over and it was time for me to take a step back. And I was sad. 

And then last Saturday, when it was snowy and nasty and anyone with sense was inside, I watched my 23 yr old horse, who is still not picking up that right hind leg like he used to, stand right up on his hind legs to play with the 9 yr old and the 6 year old, and then canter around the pasture in the lovely dressage form I have spent years teaching him, and also the form he rarely exhibits at shows. 

And he played like that again the next day, and the day after that, and I just watched him do it again before sitting down to write this. He may not be picking his hind legs up like he used to, but he ain't ready to quit yet. I guess I shouldn't be ready to quit, either.

He and I will both see our respective vets and get ourselves comfortable. We're going to work with what we've got. We aren't what we were 10 years ago, and I suppose we could have been a lot more. I don't know what our future holds, but this is what we are now and I wouldn't trade a minute of it. 

Not bad.


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