Warnderlust Woes

I have been traveling a lot recently. Like, it seems that every other week I am out of town on some adventure.

This would be even better in equestrian garb.

Which is great- obviously. Except for the germs. Man, airplanes are nasty.

Yeah, that’s basically your fold-down table right there.

The other unfortunate downside to travel (besides picking up some stranger’s cold- #notcool) is that it of course takes me away from a certain blonde pony.

Not this one, though mine may be just as spazzy.

In terms of his rehab schedule, we should have been jumping again by now. Time away and weather are cramping our style, though, and it looks like now it will be another 2 weeks before we approach elevated poles again.

Otherwise, he’s been feeling fairly good- we are fully walk/trot/canter and trying to fine tune those gaits and transitions like we are actually working towards something (versus just mosying around). All the lateral work at the walk has really improved since starting him back, and his canter transitions are becoming on point. Maybe a little too on point even, because it takes just a scoop of my seat to get the aid, and occasionally that means cantering when we didn’t mean to. So maybe less on point than I thought.

I’m lucky to have great friends to ride him while I’m away that are willing to deal with his spookiness and work him through any tension without melting down themselves. Which I fully appreciate, since I head out of of town again on Sunday.

Here’s hoping when I return we’ll have colored sticks in the very near future!

Thoughts on WEG – part 2

Wow, guys. I got totally derelict about this post. My bad.

Her smile. Her boots. LOVE

Hopefully these thoughts are still relevant- I haven’t been around to see what the interwebs is saying, so please, fill me in!

His face- that squirrel should be scared!

In general, I thought Mark Phillip’s course was a great XC test for modern eventing. Its use of terrain, the balance of technical questions with big galloping fences, and that Heartbreak Hill all were poised to sort the men from the boys without causing any major catastrophies. There were some tumbles, and some very tired horses coming in at the end, but the success rate (in terms of completions) was higher than any previous WEG.

Now, could this be due in part to the downgrade to a 3*? Probably- especially when many of the horses from strong eventing countries are generally 4* veterans. But that is where the fitness test came in- particularly in that the huge upward climb at the end of the course made for many a tired pair who then still had to showjump 2 days later. It was obvious who had done their homework in the cardio area just by judging the horses coming into the arena at the finish line- some were loping, 4 beaty, messy looking- others were full of fire with a lot more gas left in the tank.

From a spectator’s point of view, Tryon delivered. The paths were wide, and there were few obstructions in place around key areas like the water complexes. Somehow, when I took the above photo, I managed to squeeze into a position and chat with a fine lady who turned out to be Z’s owner (and Phillip’s mother in law) – and if that’s not an indication of how good the action was, I don’t know what is!

Admittedly, it would have been nice if there were more food options spread around the course (though that’s generally the case at every event), and even nicer if we would have been allowed to bring more beverages (ahem, mimosas and XC anyone?) into the venue, but alas, you can’t have it all.

What we did get was a great day of sport, cheering on incredible riders from around the world, proving that even with the 3* distinction that WEG was no dressage show.

 

 

 

Thoughts on WEG – part 1

I feel I owe a post on the World Equestrian Games- after all, it happened basically in my backyard, and I was lucky enough to attend at least 2/3 of the eventing competition.

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But a post on WEG is not complete without mentioning Flo.

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The size of this thing cannot be understated.

Before leaving, Hurricane Florence was looking to be the first category 4 hurricane to hit the NC coast in over 60 years. And once it made landfall, it looked like it was making a beeline straight to Raleigh. Now, Raleigh is a couple hours from the coast at best, so we’ve been affected by hurricanes before, but the sheer terror that comes with a Cat 4 storm was on another level. Gas stations were dried up. People were getting into fist fights over packs of water. Schools, universities, and the campus where I work were all shut down in anticipation.

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Actual footage of Raleigh last week

And so, we contemplated not even going to WEG. But our husbands assured us that we were essentially useless in a hurricane situation (in their words, what were we going to do? Try to hold up the walls?), and so we packed our trail mix and our guilt and off we went.

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When we arrived at TIEC, things looked remarkably different than they had on my last visit over a year before. There was a new stadium, the giant indoor was complete, the vendor village was up, and in general the place was bustling.

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The eventing dressage was well executed, and bar a few glitches with the live scores on movements went off without a hitch. To add to the excitement (some sarcasm there), both the eventing and regular dressage has music filling the stadium that matched the tempo of the walk/trot/canter, and often related to the rider’s country of origin. Watching the Swedish rider ride to Abba, and Laura Graves ride to Motown absolutely added to the overall pleasure of watching.

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Laura and Diddy, who in my opinion should have won!

Monday I’ll cover the highlight of eventing- Cross Country Day. We had opted not to walk the course on day 2, given the unusually high temps (PS- in Tryon at this point it was all sunshine, and lots of it, and HOT! Florence Schmorence. In Raleigh it was wet and windy and miserable).

Be prepared for embarrassing stories, woodland creatures, and loose horses. Until next time!

 

The Golden Boy, Gaining strength and a Giveaway

Sorry for being extra extra MIA. Mea culpa. I do have some exciting news however!

Jack is staying out of trouble for the moment, and even has his own pint-sized pasture mate to keep him company. It’s like watching Jack’s shadow take form, and it’s adorable when they groom each other (the pony can barely reach his back!).

We are working our way towards a whole 20 minutes of trot this week, and then when I return from WEG we get to *gasp* canter! Only on straight lines to start for the first week, but hopefully by the end of the month we can do crazy shit like 20m circles. Bananas.

So we’re targeting October for our first jump session, which will be in a lesson so we can have professional eagle eyes on us to be sure blondie looks 100% landing on his toes. And then… I might be looking to make plans, but I’m jaded about putting it in ink so let’s just say… we’ll see.

So moody. Le artiste.

I am also trying to hand at getting fitter, which is long overdue. As in, I haven’t been able to wear last year’s pants for what seems like forever, and I would like to remedy that. So I’ve started going to Barre classes after seeing the difference in a friend’s physique, and holy cow you guys, that shit is hard. And not like “I can’t keep up with the choreography” hard (although that happens on my brain dead days), but in the my-legs-are-shaking-it-burns-i-hate-you kind of way. But I leave feeling like I’m actually getting stronger and just 2 weeks in I am already able to do a lot more than I could on day 1. So, progress, right?

Lastly, the giveaway. I have been working hard on my photography, and working on building a brand on Instagram. So I paired up with all sorts of really cool equestrian brands to host this Giveaway. There’s 7 items up for grabs, and only 30 comments so far… so the odds are pretty good that if you comment you’ll win something! So please, please, head over to my Instagram page and participate. And encourage your friends! I mean- free, cool, equestrian stuff- why not??

The goods up for grabs:

So soft, so flowy… I’ll be repping one at the WEG!

That’s enough plugging and updates for today! Hopefully more excitement and a bit of a return to blogging at WEG… I’ve missed you guys!

Effing horses.

Those of you following social media have probably noticed a rather whiny tinge to my latest content. That’s because the Golden Boy has decided that he wasn’t quite ready to get back to work. Here’s the timeline of recent events.

Tuesday 8/14
Get out to the barn, ready to finally attack that full 35 minutes of walking (woohoo!). Pony has a fat leg with some heat (womp womp). Much pouring over said leg discovers this particular large nasty (below) attached to his fetlock, and obvious aggravation to the area it was latched. Some bute and icing and the creature was turned out again.

Wednesday 8/15
I get a text saying his leg is looking somewhat improved, and that evening discover that the swelling is only 20% of what it was Tuesday. There’s no warmth, and he’s fine with be handling it, so I wrap him up in polos and get on for a walkabout. Post ride the leg looks almost normal again, so he gets chucked outside without much thought.

Wednesday morning

Thursday 8/16
Thursday morning, the leg is looking pretty A-OK. Thursday afternoon when I arrive, I find my friend holding him and explaining that she had hoped she could get him walking before I got there. Er, what? Turns out his leg looked more like a pool noodle than a leg. And now he was sporting a graze behind that left fore knee. Since he somehow did this while he was in his stall, I can only imagine that perhaps he was trying to scratch his itchy tick spot with his hind leg and ended up hurting his knee.

Thursday PM

Since Thursday
Since then, I’ve been attempting to get that leg down. He’s been started on antibiotics in case it’s cellulitis at this point, and I’ve been wrapping/poulticing/icing like a madwoman. It’s come down quite a bit, and Saturday almost looked totally normal after spending a whole day in a standing wrap with poultice.

Saturday evening – post wrapping, poulticing, cold hosing

And then yesterday after a day standing in a stall sans wrap, it was up again. So I don’t bloody know, but I’m going to keep fighting the good fight. I slathered poultice on him again yesterday before turnout, and I’m hoping this evening that he will look a lot better, or at least good enough to walk around in tack.

Confound these horses.

Does anyone else have experience with such a thin skinned creature? How do you deal with bumps and grazes creating utter physical chaos?! Halp!

 

The Journey out of Rehab

I’m breaking my radio silence today with another update on the Golden boy’s progress.

We completed all 3 IRAP injections with only one hiccup (that being he got turned out in a 5 acre field with other horses right after an injection, instead of the rehab paddock he was meant to go in- cue inner hysteria on my part). But all seemed to check out fine, and we were approved for tack walking last week.

The goal was to start at 20 minutes, and progress to 35 minutes over the next two weeks. Right now we’re right around the 27 minute mark, and I hope to be at 35 minutes this Thursday. Then we get to add in short bursts of trot, for about 15 seconds to start and building up to 2 minutes over another 2 weeks.

It’s hard to make almost half an hour of walk work interesting, but I’ve been doing my best. I found that despite only walking, homeboy still needs his inhaler before riding, and the super sticky hot weather probably isn’t helping a certain large creature get back into shape.

Then 30 minutes later, I hop on and ask him to walk forward and stretch some. It takes him about 10 minutes to really start rolling, and I try to keep up the pace as much as possible, which actually takes a lot of work at the moment. At the end of our ride though, he’s got a real tempo built, his back is swinging, and he is definitely getting a workout.

Boy you better hustle

In the last couple rides I’ve started including some slow leg yields, working on asking him to take wide sideways steps to get those hammys stretched, and introducing some lateral work to help him get straight. The vet also advised that I start to introduce some collected walk into our routine, putting him on his hind end in short bursts before going back to a stretchy walk. Which is great- because even though it’s definitely work, 35 min of just stretchy walk sounds fairly awful.

I also hope to start doing some cavaletti for the same reason- to start strengthening his hind end and get some engagement there that way. It’s walk boot camp for another couple weeks, for sure!

I can’t wait to start trotting and build up that cardio fitness. But we’re back on the right path, which is feeling great! You really don’t appreciate how nice it is to have your own horse until you’ve gone without for a couple months!

A Blog in Decline?

It’s been obviously quiet around here recently, and for good reason.

My days for the last month have been overwhelmed with work- and while that in and of itself is not newsworthy, it’s recently reached a fervor that keeps any little blog ideas from spawning in my mind. I honestly didn’t realize how much my subconscious focused on the blog throughout the day until even the remote recesses of my brain got geared towards the day to day responsibilities of running a creative team.

This is your brain on stress and horses.

Secondly, there’s just not so much going on in the world of Jack. He’s bored, I’m bored, we’re bored. His second injection is today, but we’re basically operating on a no-news-is-good-news sort of mentality. It doesn’t make for the most riveting blog content.

Same, Blue, same.

And last but not least is that one awful truth for every animal owner- vet bills are expensive, yo. So I’m using every little bit of downtime I have after work to hustle. I’m doing some continuing education for my photography, have completed 2(3) model calls, and am trying to work the grind as much as possible to claw myself out from underneath those ever increasing credit card bills.

This is definitely not all to say that I’m taking a hiatus, or stopping the blog by any means. Simply put, I think I’ve got to trickle back the blog expectations over the next month to once a week. I’m bummed to say that, since the blog really is a source of joy for me, in my conversations with readers. But I’ll be back after I get back in the saddle and hope you all will be around when that happens.

THE PLAN

Hallelujah hallelujah, we have a plan!

Backtracking a little though- we did our joint-specific nerve blocks on Thursday, and they revealed that our issues are primarily in the coffin joint area. This is apparently better than having issues in the fetlock, since the fetlock can be a bit of a complicated joint to rehab. Though a little troublesome to get to, the coffin is slightly more straightforward.

Jack also got his pour-in pads, and based on lunging he already looked better before and after his new kicks.

So, the golden boy’s immediate future looks like:

Next 3-4 Weeks
We will be injecting IRAP into both coffins (the other for good measure) every 5-7 days. The first injection is today, and there will be at least 2 more injections. Jack will stay in his small rehab paddock during turnout to minimize concussion on his feet and allow the bone bruising to heal.

Month 2
We start tack walking! And then building up to W/T/C on very soft footing to limit concussion still. Jack will graduate to a larger paddock if all goes well. For his next shoeing, Jack will move into aluminum shoes, which being lighter should make any fetlock joint nonsense a bit happier. Since these shoes are also deeper he will get even thicker pour-in pads, which is very helpful as his feet are so flat/not concave.

After that
From there, we will see what happens. At this point I’m loathe to really truly make plans. But I’m hopeful.

 

A little more good news

This week’s MRI was a wealth of information and, albeit rather expensively obtained, it was well worth the 4-hour-each-way trek to learn more about what’s going on in that left fore.

It turns out that the collateral ligament isn’t actually of prime focus. The main observations, as described to me in laymen’s terms, are this:

  • Significant bone bruising on the medial side (which explains him being worse going right)
  • Arthritic changes in both coffin and fetlock joint

So, really, we are not looking at soft tissue as the primary cause of Jack’s lameness. There was some discussion around mild aggravation to the DDFT, but not enough to think that it was related to the overall lameness we are seeing. Which is good!

Tryon Equine Hospital (And standing MRI)

Our next steps are thus:

  • Do balance x-rays and pour-in pads for shoes (today)
  • Make plan for IRAP injections (blood draw today)
  • Do joint-specific blocks to determine how much coffin vs fetlock joint are causing lameness (today)
  • Keep Jack on stall/rehab-paddock rest to limit concussion on feet (in progress)
  • Take baseline x-rays of coffin/fetlock for future reference

Once we determine which joint is more at play in his lameness (or both, who knows), we can make a more exacting plan in regards to time off, and/or when to work our way back into work. Hopefully more on this tomorrow, if all goes well!

MRI update and a semblance of a plan

At the time of writing this, I only have limited details on Jack. Having received the findings report just minutes ago, I am still waiting to discuss with a human that can translate the “vet speak” into something a laymen like myself can understand.

A little bit of good news, though:

Jack did not have to get an additional MRI this morning. This is good- that means the original images taken were clear and he doesn’t get the stress of being re-sedated and entering the MRI box.

I have a horse to ride, this summer at least. A sweet (and flashy) draft cross that I can hopefully bring along and have fun with, and stay in the saddle for a few more months.

A plan to find Jack a more appropriate facility for rehabbing him has been discussed and approved with the barn manager.

I hope to have more news tomorrow as I translate the findings. Tomorrow or Thursday- stay tuned!