Monday, May 22, 2017

You Make Me Crazy

After I decided to scrap the show, I was signed up for two lessons with my favorite dressage judge.  One Friday evening and one Saturday evening.  The Friday evening lesson was one of the worst rides I have had on Stinker in quite some time.  Add in the fact that the DJ was doing her best to work her magic on us it was awful.

He would never settle and relax.  There was much jigging and avoiding.  We never got him truly through.  She finally started quizzing me about what the acupuncture vet has been working on and asking me if he had had any physical problems lately.  Her biggest concern was that with all the time and energy I have been putting into him, this shouldn't still be a problem.  She even went so far as to suggest that maybe I should think about teaching him to drive and not ride him.

Of course that really hurt to hear, because I have poured so much into this horse.  Not to mention I don't know if I have the skills to teach him to drive.  He was so panicked with the saddle and rider for so long and I would be willing to bet that he would have a similar reaction being driven (seeing as how the people that had him first said he was broke to ride and drive).  I at least knew what I was doing with the riding.

I managed to get an acupuncture appointment scheduled for tomorrow, because his next appointment was going to fall when I am out of town.  I didn't see the point of doing it if I couldn't ask a billion questions.

Then the weather didn't cooperate and Saturday's lesson didn't happen.  But luckily she is amazing and she said if the weather was ok we could have a lesson at 7:00 am on Sunday before the show started.  I was a little nervous because Stinker had been in for 24 hours due to the storms.  The whole point of the lesson was to determine if he had a bad day on Friday or if there was something actually wrong.

I hadn't really considered him having a physical problem and had been writing off his increase in tension as me being stressed out and him feeding off that.  I wasn't sure if Sunday morning was going to be any better because he had been in his stall for so long, thunderstorms always make him anxious, and I am still a neurotic stressed out mess.  Luckily he came to play.

DJ got after me for being too passive, which always happens after tense rides.  I revert and hang in my aids but never make the changes that are necessary to get him to release.  But despite my questionable riding, he was really good.  So the conclusion was there isn't a new physical problem and I am just making my horse crazy.  Sorry dude, just another couple of months (maybe?).

Friday, May 19, 2017


I have firmly been on the struggle bus lately.  I lost the majority of April due to travel, being sick, and moving out of my house.  Then because I was sick I was unable to do the work I desperately needed to get done before everything had to be shut down for the move.  So when I was finally feeling better I had three weeks of work to do.

Needless to say my energy level has be low at best.  Not to mention my dad's Parkinson's has been progressing rapidly and my mom is struggling to care for him by herself.  Unfortunately, due to where they live hiring help isn't a viable option and they live too far from family to depend on their assistance.  We are working on fixing this, but it will be another two months before anything really firms up.

How does any of this relate back to Stinker?  He requires quite a bit of energy and mental power and sensitivity to ride.  I have been lacking all of those things, so I have been telling him he is pretty frequently and not actually working him.  The time off hasn't hurt, but it also hasn't done anything to build his strength.

One day I will learn to look up and not stick my butt out

At the last show my favorite dressage judge commented that his right hind is still really weak and he struggles to carry himself correctly on that side.  She told me to trot him every day for short periods to build that up.  Well I immediately left town, got sick, and blah blah blah.  It has now been over 6 weeks and I have worked on the trot maybe four times.  And all of that has been in the last week or so.  Not really conducive to building strength.

I have decided not to do the show this weekend.  It doesn't really seem fair, plus I would rather take a couple lessons vs getting my last place ribbon.  And for the next month or so that I have left here I am going to be working on finding my mojo and not freaking out about moving.  I will probably have an easier time finding my mojo than not freaking out.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Old Slipper

Denny Emerson wrote the following on his Facebook page (and I am stealing it because I have nothing interesting to write about).

"I have had lots of nice horses, but not all of them were easy to ride.  There is a saying, "Comfortable as an old pair of slippers." Or gloves, or shoes---The point being that you can relax and take that sigh of relief.  Some horses give you that old pair of slippers feeling, and those are the most fun to ride on a daily basis.  They may not be the ones who bring home the most ribbons, but they are the ones you would choose to just go ride."

Hey what's up!

Stinker isn't to the old slippers quite yet *especially of late* but I am currently ignoring his attempts to have a mental meltdown.  But on his good days it feels like coming home.  I guess I am a bit backwards considering he is far from an easy ride, but there is something that just feels right.

He is such a fun little horse.  And he tries so hard, I can't help but love him for it even when his trying so hard makes things more difficult.  Things just feel right with him even when he is a pain in the butt.  Plus I get him.  I get anxious and don't deal with things well.  He gets anxious and flails.  I get a little overzealous trying.  He tries so hard that he becomes a neurotic mess.

Two neurotic peas in a pod

Then just when you are totally frustrated with him, he leans over and nuzzles you.  It is like he is saying, "I am so sorry for being neurotic."  (Yes I realize I am projecting, but my pony my thoughts). Either way he is well on his way to being my old slipper.

Monday, May 15, 2017

When You Just Can't

This weekend Stinker was having a case of the can'ts.  Relaxing was way too much for me to expect.  Walking was sporadic at best.  Right bend was cause for a meltdown.  So I got some mediocre work at best and gave up.  Instead he got a spa day.

I finally gave him a bath.  It took two scrubbings before he finally stoped turning all the soap brown.  His very yellow/brown socks ended up pretty white.  Not quite as good as I wanted but he still has skinned up spots from the kicking incidence so I didn't want to really scrub them.

I finally got around to trimming his tail (it was dragging on the ground) and his feathers.  I didn't bother with a bridle path because bonnets.  Also because his forelock is stupid short and needs all the help it can get.

Then I got my saddle and girth cleaned and conditioned.  So they are all shiny and prepped for the show this weekend.  I swear my horse knows to always forget how to horse right before a show.  Regardless of his mental state we will at least have a fabulous outfit to match our fabulous meltdown.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Chicken Or The Egg

I have gotten into a bit of a cycle with Stinker and my position.  He gets upright and flails and my position slips.  Once my position slips it is difficult to get it back and without getting it back it is difficult to get him back.  Then I tense and ride backwards and he says WTF and gets even more upright.

His build does not do us any favors.  He is capable of dropping his back about six inches below his withers.  Even with an appropriately fitting saddle when he drops his back like that it automatically tips me so my legs slide forwards, my upper body comes forward, and I grab with my hands.  Obviously this causes him to drop his back even more and it continues until I get my shit together and remember to ride.

Even so, we are slowly getting more consistent.  Yesterday was a bad day, but we still managed to grab some nice moments.  He still curls behind the vertical when he lifts his back, but again it is more of a strength thing.  He just doesn't have the muscle support to properly carry correctly for very long.
I also need to let go with my lower back.  I carry a ton of tension there.  And he is quite susceptible to tension in my body.  If anyone wants to watch a five minute video of us fumbling through the trot, you can see that things start off pretty rough, but he settles, then he starts to get tired and we struggle a bit more.  The right is also much harder than the left, but it is alright when I get him straight.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Fingers Crossed

I think I have found a place for Stinker.  I have to wait another month before it is 100% positive.  Right now it is sitting at 99% positive, but there is always that slight chance it will fall through.  I knew about it about a month ago, but was too paranoid to say anything.  Jinxes are real yo.

The weather was not so nice and the picture doesn't do it justice.

If everything works out, I will be doing the majority of his care and need to get a lot of barn essentials.  So what are your favorite barn essentials?  I am talking things like pitchforks, wheelbarrows, the everyday things that you don't necessarily think about.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Churchill Downs Flashback

In honor of the Kentucky Derby, I thought it would be a good time to share the adventures of shadowing a vet at Churchill Downs.  All the way through college until the week before I was supposed to take the MCAT I was planning on going to medical school.  One night when I was studying late, I realized people are really freaking gross and I really don't like them and I didn't want to actually be a doctor.  Enter a neurotic life planner crisis.

I had already lined up a research gig in Louisville for the summer, but now I no longer had a life plan.  I was considering vet school.  So I found three vets to shadow one was at Rood and Riddle (Lexington), a second was at Hagyard (also in Lexington and my favorite because he let me do stuff), and the third was the racetrack vet at Churchill Downs.

I had never even been to a racetrack until I showed up.  But it was hands down one of the coolest experiences I have had.  My favorite part was on race day.  There was this little old cajun man that drove the water truck and the horse ambulance.  He was always hollering inappropriate things at me.  I didn't understand 90% of what he said (probably a good thing), but the vet would always tell him to behave himself and he would cackle madly.


The little cajun man would cook behind an old shed that was just off the track.  And he used "the real cajun spices mamma sent."  Holy shit that food was delicious.  I was a little leery at first, but after watching the vet dig in I decided why not.  I have no idea what I ate, but it was always delicious.

My second favorite thing to do was to watch the jockeys get a leg up.  There were some athletic maneuvers and one horse in particular was awful.  As soon as any part of the jockey hit the saddle he started bucking.  I mean rodeo bucking.  I don't know how the jockey stuck, but he did.

All sass no buck

Honestly, I didn't learn much about being a vet from Churchill Downs, but I had a lot of fun and got to ride in the horse ambulance (not an emergency), the water truck, and eat some of the best cajun food I have ever had.