Monday, October 29, 2018

Autumn Relapse

The last few weeks have been frustrating and a little devastating for me.

Sailor's back began to relapse again. He was refusing to stand for the mounting block, irrationally spooky, and just tight over his back after the first cold snap. We took a week off from under saddle work, and lunged only, repeated Shockwave, bought a new (to us) Back on Track mesh sheet, and kept trying. Between working 12-14 hour shifts regularly and having to go to the barn 6 days a week, I was exhausted.

Last Tuesday, when I put on Sailor's surcingle, he turned and walked to the back corner of his stall. His eyes said, "I'm done.",  so I texted Candy's retirement farm and my current trainer. I'll move Sailor to the retirement farm December 1st. His Christmas present was supposed to be a stall card with the show name he never got to use for a stall he will no longer have.

I'm not sure yet what it means for us. I got in touch with an eventer who does 1* with a horse with KS that made the mare previously unrideable and she said 24/7 turnout was the biggest game changer for her horse. I plan on giving Sailor the winter and most of the spring off, then starting him back in the Pessoa or maybe an Equiband to see where we go. It's complicated though- I struggled and could not find a barn with pasture board near me when I moved here. I have a set list of non-negotiables: excellent care, an arena with lights, and no set barn hours because my job doesn't let me have flexibility in the traditional sense. If I end up leaving the area next year, it further complicates things- do I spend the money to move a horse only to move him back a few months later when he relapses yet again? Do I go through the same semi-retirement I went through with Candy only to retire him completely 1-2 years later?

Then there are my own goals. My goal of owning and showing a 1.10m horse before I start a family and truly settle down. My goal of showing on the A circuit, or at least regularly on a local circuit.

I'm trying not to worry about the future of Sailor and I's partnership and focus on the now, but it's hard when even the now is painful. I'm watching friends finish up show season, and having to come to terms with the fact that yet another show season has come and gone, and I am not a part of it. Sometimes, I get frustrated that I couldn't have just leased an uncomplicated serviceable school master, and instead went for owning flashy and athletic, and now have two retired horses to show for it. Horses, though, are never fair. Life is never fair.

I'm sure I'll have my show season some day. I'm sure one day I'll jump fences again on something other than a 2'6 lesson horse. That 1.10m goal is farther away than ever, but I have no doubt I'll reach it.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Don't Jinx It Now....

Well, we are about 6 weeks out from Sailor's last Shockwave treatment, and officially 10 weeks out from his diagnosis/injections and beginning physical therapy/rehab.

He jumped his first line of cross rails last week and was tickled pink! He's becoming incredibly adjustable, learning his simple changes, working on transitions on the lunge and under saddle, and has now learned how to canter on the lunge in his Pessoa with minimal meltdowns. Other boarders have commented to me about how happy and relaxed he's becoming.

He continues to stress me out, though- I wonder how he'll do with the cold temperatures on the way. I've begun the hunt for a Back On Track mesh sheet to see if that helps, and plan on keeping his routine of 5-6 days of work under saddle/in the Pessoa through the winter.

He's had a few "twinges" here and there, but overall, is now "green horse" naughty instead of "painful" naughty. His latest fun trick has been backing up to avoid work; he'll even back up nose to my boot and refuse to turn so that's been frustrating, especially since one of our arenas requires a short trek over and into it. He's also developed a panic button when he meanders too far back in the cross ties and startles himself (as in sits down, and slips out of his halter) when he hits the slack. I'm hoping he gets over these vices soon- I really think he would be benefit from hacking out more (mentally and physically), and so far I only trust him to "hack" on the lunge line in the Pessoa. Baby steps, I guess? I've had some offers to hack out together from boarders, but my schedule is so erratic it will be hard to coordinate.

Geese will murder him.

But still, he seems to be trending upwards; I'm worried the more I brag about him and his progress, the more I jinx it, and he'll break again.

Fingers crossed, he keeps doing well!

Meanwhile, Candy has been a champion as a confidence booster- one ride, and I remembered I DO know how to sit a buck.
Post-peppermint boy 
- K & C & S

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

When You Knew It All Along...

When Sailor's issues undersaddle started last October, I was scared- scared because I knew most likely what it was, and scared for what it meant for our future. I did saddle fittings, a new saddle, chiropractic work, hock injections. All because I knew it was ruling things out, and would be things I ultimately needed to continue after Sailor's diagnosis.

Back in May- I pointed out to my chiropractor his weird vertebrae. It was out of alignment; she put reduced it, and recommended working long and low to build his topline. If the vertebrae gave him no more trouble, we were good to go.

So that month, we started walking for 30 minutes a day 5-6 days a week, then the next week walking 10-15, trotting 10, walking 10-15. By the last week of June, we were walking for 10, trotting for 15, cantering both directions, and cooling out on the buckle out of the ring. I jumped him over 2 cross-rails. We took a lesson and he was the best he had ever been.

Then he fell apart again- never rearing or behavior like before, but inverted at the trot, defiant when asked to get round, tense and guarded at the walk. So I had the vet out again, who recommended this time we go to Hagyard's and get him worked up.

So we did. And the vet saw what had stumped us all- a sound horse with a great topline, mild back pain, decent saddle fit, but a horse with a switch: perfect on the lunge line one direction, dangerous in the other direction.

And on X-rays? Kissing spine everywhere.

So we've injected his back. Put him on a calming supplement. Started a Bute/Robaxin taper. Adding in Shockwave. Starting him in a Pessoa while re-teaching him how to lunge because he's become a rank creature. And hoping for the best. The diagnosis could not have come a worse time (but is there ever a good time?) with me having to leave town for 5 days in mid-July for a wedding, so I'll be limiting my merry-making so I can make the 45-60 minute commute back and forth daily to continue his PT.

The veterinarian thinks if we can get him under control, he can go back to being a 2'9"-3' horse. I think he will never be the 1.10m jumper I purchased him to be.

My goal now is to get him happy, comfortable, and trained to see where he will take me. I've always said that if he will not be a 1.10m horse, that's okay- but he needs a job, especially while I have Candy in retirement.

 I'm not optimistic, and I see retirement or euthanasia-if the pain gets too bad- in his near future, and it breaks my heart since this little peanut means the world to me.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Learn As You Go

Slowly but surely, Sailor and I are having little breakthroughs each day...

1. He does, in fact, know how to be a gentleman at the walk, trot, canter.

2. Trying to ride a green OTTB in the outdoor for the first time in months on a brisk windy day when they've just introduced a new horse to the herd in the field behind the outdoor ring after he's had 5 days off is not a good idea. Lunging your horse and doing a victory lap at the walk around the outdoor? Better idea.

3. Don't look where you want your green OTTB to spook. Look where you want to go.

4. You will never EVER spook at the same things your horse spooks at.

5. You better start doing Pilates. Sailor is doing horse Pilates, you are a sack of potatoes.

6. Invest in bell boots.

7. You will never be financially stable between student loans and having horses. Hopefully, eventually, you will be "ok" until Sailor is able to leave the property. This will only happen when he manages to keep both shoes on and stops destroying Italian bell boots.

8. Those dreams of doing ROOTDs? See above.

9. He is stinkin' cute, and almost makes you not regret your life choices.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

New Year, New Me

New saddle, new hocks, new turnout, new... horse?

To start from the beginning-

October- Sailor began rearing and bucking with me and acting rank.

November- Sailor was spooky, and jittery; he bucked so hard after a lesson over fences I had lower back pain for a week, and I refused to keep jumping him. Called the chiro out and gave him 3 weeks off. Had a saddle fitter out, tried a few saddles, and saw some improvement. He was rude with the pro; bucking and kicking out under saddle.

December- bought a new saddle, but was literally too afraid to sit on him for more than 15 minutes to try it. We started doing carrot stretches and I massaged him myself 3 times a week. Sailor discovers soft peppermints are his *favorite* thing in the world.

January-He started bucking and striking on the lunge, so I finally called out a lameness vet and injected his hocks. Added Cosequin and magnesium to his SmartPaks.

3 pro rides- "He's been the most boring horse to ride. He's so quiet."

1 lesson, and 1 flat ride later... He's been "himself", floppy ears, putzing around, and just... playful.

The new saddle

A snowy boy!

On the other pets- Candy is cruising along- happy as can be with the cold temperatures! Wilbur had a relapse of pneumonia, and Lila may have ovarian cysts we need to deal with.

Now to pick what Sailor will do as a big boy.

- K & C & S

Thursday, November 16, 2017

1 Step Forward, 500 Steps Backward

So owning Sailor has been a saga. I have gone from sitting a few bucks and laughing to ugly crying the second he flicks his tail and snorts in disagreement.

About 1 month after I got him, Sailor reared and bucked with me. We had a few training rides, a few lessons, and all seemed to be well-tense and guarded, but well.

Then we had a jump lesson over crossrails, and he BRONC'd after every fence. We stopped the lesson early, and I called the vet, and the chiropractor, and my mom, and my boyfriend.

Saddle went off to be adjusted. Sailor got adjusted. And I emptied my wallet.

Sailor got 3 weeks off because my work schedule made it convenient, and I thought it was a great rest for his back and a good way to spend his time while the saddle was adjusted.

We started back on the lunge over poles, then in the Pessoa, then on the lunge in the saddle over poles, and he looked so comfortable. So I sat on him, trotted him for 10 minutes, and scheduled a flat lesson.

The flat lesson, he was distracted and anxious. I was anxious. He was willing until we asked for the canter, and he gave me a frantic flat trot. We tried again, and he dove through my outside leg and snorted. The aggressive rider I used to be on Candy and Lexie wasn't there. And I just bawled. So my trainer hopped on, rode through a few micro-bucks and got the canter both directions.

I made the decision to call out a professional saddle fitter, and decided I would not ride him until we addressed the saddle. If the saddle fits, then his back gets X-rayed, and he starts ulcer treatment.

And, as much as it breaks my heart, if we can't figure out our working relationship by the end of the winter, or at least improve it, well. I really hope it's not the case. Riding isn't fun right now. It isn't relaxing. But I like him- I like his canter when he is proud of clearing a fence, I like his big scopey jump when he is nervous.

Here's hoping we can fix him, and start to develop a partnership.

- K & C & S

Friday, October 20, 2017

Adventures in Owning a New Pony

What I thought it would be like:

What it's actually been like:

One chiropractor appointment, one vet appointment (for cellulitis), a new SmartPak, and saddle refitting later...

I think I can ride my *new* horse in exactly 2 weeks from now.

- K & C & S