Smitty’s First Incident

Yesterday I got out to the barn, and upon running my hand down one of Smitty’s delicate little legs immediately had a shock. His right hind was swollen and hot. Further investigation showed a really long scrape down the inside of the leg, about 8 inches long.

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I threw him on the lunge and if I wanted to nit-pick, I would say he wasn’t stepping quite as under on that hind as the other, and was more sluggish to the right. But not obviously off. So I threw my ice boot on it and waited 30 minutes.

Annoyed with my standing just out of reach

Annoyed with my standing just out of reach

After the half hour, I removed the ice packs, and applied surpass to the leg, avoiding the scrape itself. My hope is to go out again this evening and rinse and repeat the process, assuming it hasn’t gotten noticeably better.

It was bound to happen eventually, so here’s hoping Smitty’s first incident is just a small one.

 

Confessions of a weenie eventer

We had a nice weekend here, where my plan of having no plans mostly worked. I hope you all enjoyed your Labor Day festivities just as much. Also, my husband bought himself a truck!

Nothing sexier than a confident man driving a beastly truck (that I may be borrowing sometime!)

Nothing sexier than a confident man driving a beastly truck (that I may be borrowing sometime!)

Anyways, on to the topic of today, and my pondering of contradictions. Eventers are supposed to be the crazy ones, brave enough to jump solid fences knowing the potential consequences, and just doing the damn thing anyway. Cross country fields are where we are supposed to be at home, and trail riding comes as easily to us as white on rice.

Not for this weenie.

I used to be a rock-star trail rider before I got into competing and eventing. I was lucky enough to grow up on a small farm that was a short trek from the most amazing trail system- 180 acres of broad paths up and down hills, around ponds, over bridges, and through creeks. Every day I would throw a bareback pad (or not) on my trusty Haflinger, Tanner, and head out for some R&R. We’d canter all over the place, enjoying being out and about like all was well with the world.

Rocking the barepack pads with sweatpants, on Tanner for my 14th birthday

Rocking the barepack pads with sweatpants, on Tanner for my 14th birthday

Then one day, I was cantering Tanner down a hill, and he lost his footing and tripped. He slid down the hill on his back, chucking me into the trees. When I came to, my vision was in black and white, and the only clear thing to me were the shadows of the trees. I felt around for Tanner, who had miraculously stood up and was waiting right there, and climbed back on. I remember panicking a bit for the 10 minutes that it took my vision to come back- I was miles from the nearest person at the time. I never told my parents about what I now realize was probably a nasty concussion, but started borrowing a cell phone with me whenever I went out on the trails by myself.

Foxhunting (which is kind of like trail riding?), again on Tanner

Foxhunting (which is kind of like trail riding?), again on Tanner

Fast forward to my graduation to real horses, and competing for realz. I tried going out on the trails, but couldn’t trust them the way I did Tanner. They, being more sensitive types, felt my tension and would start looking for the threat they thought I perceived. Enter spooking at things that did not really exist. I just couldn’t find a way back to the relaxed trail rides, instead, trail rides meant channeling all my energy into calming myself down, which of course, is really hard to do.

Won't trail ride, but I will swim. And be awkward, I will always be awkward. No pics of Foster doing this, but Foster LOVES water. Someday we'll find him a pond to play in!

Won’t trail ride, but I will swim. And be awkward, I will always be awkward.
No pics of Foster doing this, but Foster LOVES water. Someday we’ll find him a pond to play in!

To this day, I do not care for trail riding. Give me a job- warming up, jumping, focusing on maintaining a rhythmic gallop, and I’m good to go. Tell me to chill the heck out and walk around on the buckle, and I tense up. Pretty much the most contradictory thing for an eventer, but that’s me, and that’s the baggage I carry with me.

What about you guys? Do you struggle with contradictory skills? Do you fumble over cross-rails, but glory over bigger fences? Hate the grooming process, but bought a white horse?

A one-sided story

Like most people, I find myself of the right-handed, non-ambidextrous sort. So for riding, I find that I am most coordinated and can maintain more finesse in my right hand.

Unlike most people, besides being more awkward to the left, I also I have a completely busted left side. To wit, these are the flaws and injuries that I have acquired that prevent any real grace on that half of my body.

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Natural Gait
Some people toe out when they walk, others toe in. Others walk straight, and you stink. Me? I walk with my right foot straight, and my left foot toed in about 30 degrees. Walking straight lines is hard for me. I get this from my mother, who told me if I were a horse, she wouldn’t buy me (note: I learned everything about buying horses from her, and I get it- I wouldn’t buy me either 😉 ). She has, with time and concentration, talk herself to walk with both feet straight. I’m lazy and can’t be bothered. Also, I find my left leg wraps around my horse’s side better. Whatevs.

Love you too, mum, and thanks for the awkwardness.

Love you too, mum, and thanks for the awkwardness.

The Ankle
Labor day of my sophomore year, my friend and I went to return her phone. Turns out my horse, Ivan, thought it looked tasty, and his molars left it irreparable. We went to the barn, whereupon Ivan decided to inflict some damage on me. Not with his teeth, but by ‘bucking’ mid-air over a sizeable fence. I made the decision to bail, and got my foot caught in the stirrup, fracturing my left ankle. One leg cast and robo-boot later, and I can still occasionally feel the effects of that injury.

Hand-grazing Ivan in the leg cast.

Hand-grazing Ivan in the leg cast.

No worries, I still went out that night!

No worries, I still went out that night!

The Hip
A couple years later, after I had fully recovered from the ankle injury, I was jumping Ivan again when some horses started galloping around the arena. Ivan had this really fun habit of just bolting without notice, and did just that, careening around the arena. I hung on admirably about 3/4 way around before becoming unbalanced. I then somehow became clothes-lined hip first by a jump standard wing. The impact took me out hard enough that I couldn’t walk for 3 days. The Health Center said I may have broken it, and I should go to the ER. Eventers may be brave, but we’re occasionally also stupid (or maybe that’s just me). I never went, and my hip issues are the most prevalent body problems I still feel. A chiropractor said my hip injury has caused a pinched nerve, but I don’t actually know what happened- just that it hurt. A lot.

Jumping Ivan over one of the jump standards that took me out

Jumping Ivan over one of the jump standards that took me out

So there you have it, folks. A crooked rider, with a crooked horse (whose bum side is also his left). When all else fails, turn right.