Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cornell Visit: Only one like him. Literally.

Remember how I was all, "Cornell is an easy two hour drive" yada yada so easy?

LOLZ.

We almost died.

It was a really easy drive...for an hour and fifty minutes. Once we hit downtown and my directions failed me, we almost died. I somehow zigged left instead of right--I think--so I quickly turned on my phone's GPS and told it to get me to the vet hospital.

It took me to a dorm. On a mountain.

I drive a Dodge Ram 1500 with the biggest engine that model offers, and I have never once had a problem with it hauling. My trailer is pretty light, and there was only one horse on board. Dudes, every time I so much as paused I started rolling backwards. And almost shit myself, I think it goes without saying. Thank god for tight trailer brakes. I finally found a levelish alley type thing to pull into and park (e-brake engaged) while I called the office.

The wonderful front desk woman put on her headset and stayed on the line with me while my truck put its head down and somehow hauled us the rest of the way up the hill, moaning and groaning and warning me not to take my foot of the gas pedal for so much as a second until we reached our destination.

"this does not look like a horse show to me."

I nearly kissed the ground when I finally pulled into the parking lot. I was able to follow my directions on the way home, but still had to creep down a mile long 10% grade hill that was fortunately under construction so I was able to inch down it without any trouble. Holy fuck, I just really, really hate hills under all circumstances.

I got us checked in and then headed back out to the trailer to console Bobby who was in a bit of a rage about his circumstances while we waited for a student to come collect us.

ANGRY eating his hay. SO ANGRY. 

My student keeper for the day was great, and she had us settled into a stall with medical information written down in no time. My appointment was with the derm and ortho departments, but ortho was in the middle of looking at another case when we got there so derm got to work first.

Team Dermatology

Dr Derm has been working with us since the original diagnosis of sarcoidosis. He's one of the few in the country that has any first hand knowledge of the disease so I was looking forward to finally meeting him in person. He let his students and the other lead vet do most of the poking and prodding before ducking into the stall with a giant camera to get pictures. If Bobby appears in one of his books, do I get royalties?

Once he came back out, he asked me what I knew about sarcoidosis. I was like, "I know as much as you actually. I even read your one paragraph you published on it." The biggest problem with this fucking disease is that there is nothing known about it. If it's generalized, you euthanize. That's what we know. The end.

If it's localized? Dr Derm said, "I didn't actually believe there was such a thing as localized sarcoidosis. This is the only case in this country. Ever." Bobby. You do not need to work so hard to be a celebrity, bro. I can't afford it.

team derm and my student get to work

After everyone got their chance to poke him, Dr Derm pronounced he didn't think we were actually dealing with anything skin related from the sarcoidosis. He hypothesized that because the disease is basically the body trying to eat itself maybe there was some internal scarring that had blocked a vein and was causing the disruption of circulation and all the swelling. That didn't seem like a bad guess, and he went to go print the rads we took last Monday to look at and show the farrier and ortho who were finally ready for us.

Team Orthology

Since derm didn't think they had much to do with us, aside from wanting to play with the sarcoidosis, ortho became my lead doctor. Right off the bat they had Bobby hoof tested and jogged (and more pictures taken since the shape of his foot is almost as exciting as his sarcoidosis) as everyone unsurprisingly seemed blown out of the water that he was sound as a dime. Dr Ortho watched him go multiple times before shrugging. "Well, yes, he's very sound. Hmm."

He asked if I'd tried sweating it. I said I had once, but his leg couldn't handle it.

Dr Ortho: "What did the leg do?"
Me: "Um...well, the skin kind of fell off. He's very sensitive to topicals now."
Dr Derm: "LOL, no but really it did."

I was glad Dr Derm had stuck around because he's seen the entire progression from slime and pus and chunks of hair falling off and burnt skin to the relatively normal looking leg Bobby has now.

Dr Derm relayed his theory about the possibility of blocked circulation and Dr Ortho agreed that was a good guess so we'd roll with it. They scheduled an ultrasound and stuck Bobby back in his stall to wait.

he really wanted to eat his shavings even though
he had hay.

Team Imaging

Bobby was already in the stocks and "sedated" when my student came to get me for the ultrasound. She said they'd given him xylazine which I was kind of annoyed that they'd done without asking me. Bobby doesn't react to xylazine--I mean, he sweats a lot and it makes him pee, but it doesn't sedate him. That was a charge on my bill I didn't need as Bobby hung out being annoyed about the sweat dripping down his butt and gnawing on his lead rope, but otherwise quiet and not sedated in the slightest. If sedation is a mandatory procedure, they could have given him dorm and actually knocked him out.

The ultrasound doctor admitted right off the bat she didn't usually work on the coronary band area, but she spent a good half an hour trying her best to get some good imaging. Dr Ortho joined us towards the end to discuss findings.

Veins and blood vessels looked great, no problem there. She did the suspensory and DDFT as well and said those also looked great. She found a small pocket of fluid on the outside side of the heel bulb, but she didn't think it was anything of concern. His lymphatics were slightly swollen which was what they were expecting with the leg being swollen.

Overall though, we didn't get much. Dr Ortho wanted to focus on the foot itself and asked to do a venogram--where the veins in the foot are highlighted and viewed via xray. Yeah, sure, whatever, Dr Ortho. Just give me an answer.

I haven't heard yet what they found on the venogram as I wasn't called back for it. They're supposed to email me the report at some point today. I can probably give you a summation though: nothing.

parked next to me with the most gorgeous dapplely warmblood gelding. later to be
stalled next to us was a giant equally gorgeous warmblood owned by the maddens.
bobby was the celebrity for the day, but he did not look the part in comparison. 

Team Farrier

Throughout the day the farrier popped in and out. I liked him because he was alone so he talked directly to me instead of to a team of students trailing around him. He'd looked at the rads and had watched the ultrasound. I don't know if he was there for the venogram, but I'm sure they passed that along to him as well. He was very interested in Bobby's case because Bobby. Everyone was very interested in Bobby's case.

He thought my farrier was doing a good job with the shoeing, but agreed it was time for the wedges to go. I told him Farrier wanted to do glue ons with a rocker toe and he said he'd do that as well, but he need a pour-in pad or a frog support pad. Anyone ever dealt with laminits? That's a classic laminitis shoeing package.

Why? Because the farrier thought that Bobby had had a laminitic episode. He was practically giddy over the rads. In most laminitic cases, the coffin bone falls forward, right? Bobby's was pointed upwards, pushing through the back of the foot instead of the front. Not unheard of, but very rare.

My farrier has frog support pads on-hand so we'll be doing that set up on Monday. She's been sent the rads as well and promised to get in touch with Cornell farrier to discuss.

back at home and gorging himself, unconcerned
about the state of his falling apart body.

Team Internal Medicine

Almost done!

Do you feel like we've cycled through the entire vet school yet? Because I did. It was 4:00 by this point and Bobby and I were both done with the whole thing. While at the beginning of the day Bobby was mugging everyone for snuggles, when my student took me to the back to talk to IM, his ears were pinned and he was trying to bite them. Having teams of five to seven students poking and groping him all day had lost its appeal, and he was pissed. It didn't wear off when we got home either. He unloaded with his ears back and wanted nothing to do with talking to anyone. He seems to have forgiven me this morning, but I gave him extra cookies and the day off anyway.

I didn't know IM had been called in to consult, and was kind of annoyed to find that charge on my bill. If you want to take a look at his leg because sarcoidosis is rare and Bobby's is even rarer, fine. But don't charge me for it.

They asked all the standard sarcoidosis questions: How's his weight? Is he eating normally? Breathing normally? Have you had his lungs checked? Temperature stays normal? Yes, yes, yes, all things my vet and I discuss on an almost weekly basis. We're old pros at this by now.

Finally Dr IM came out of the stall and gravely told me, "Sarcoidosis isn't cured. We can manage it, maybe, but once it spreads..."

I was like, "Uh, yeah. I know. I KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT SARCOIDOSIS ON THE PLANET." We've had the euthanasia talk. A couple times, actually! At the first sign it has spread to his organs, I will put him down. I'm not going to rush him back to Cornell and hope they can stop his lungs from eating themselves while his fucking flesh falls off.

Her recommendation was that we try a steroid--what my vet had wanted to do if I didn't take him to Cornell. In generalized sarcoidosis, that's the one and only treatment option. Like Dr IM said, it won't cure it, but it might prolong the inevitable. Not a single horse treated has ever not been euathanized though. Not. One.

no organ eating going on here for the moment.
just cookies and grass.

All of Bobby's emergency vet savings completely emptied, we headed home with a thousand prednisone tabs and no more answers than what we'd arrived with.

I called my farrier and relayed all the information. About an hour later she called me back again. "I'm not going to tell you how to medicate your horse, and I haven't seen the rads yet, but with the state of his foot and Cornell Farrier thinking he's had a laminitic episode, I don't think you should give him the steroids. At all."

Ughhhhhhhh.

Steroids, of course, run the chance of foundering a horse. If Bobby's already vulnerable, he runs an even higher chance. Right now this horse is sound as shit. If you didn't look at his foot, you would never know there was a thing wrong with him. If we chance the steroids on the chance it does something to the sarcoidosis, we could very well bring on full blown laminitis, and then he's definitely going to be lame and now we have EVEN MOAR problems.

So I put in a call to my vet (and am waiting to hear back from her) to get her opinion. I don't know what IM was doing there, so I don't know if they knew anything about what was going on with the foot, or if they were focused entirely on the sarcoidosis. It certainly seems like the latter. If that's the case, then I'm assuming they didn't realize his foot is not up to steroids.

I should have known that, and I should have said something, but at that point I was so done with the day and ready to grasp on to any type of answer or solution that I was just like, whatever. Give me the meds. Now I have two giant bottles of prednisone sitting in my kitchen that I don't know what I'm supposed to do with. Is there a black market for 'roids? Someone get in touch with me.

So there you go. My takeaway? I'm going to keep doing whatever the fuck I want with him so long as he stays sound. I'll let Farrier do whatever she thinks needs to be done with the shoeing as we go along. If he comes up lame, we'll take it from there.

Thanks, Cornell. For nuthin.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Oh Gingersnap Blog Hop: Change

Late to the party content is better than no content, right? I'm using T's blog hop as a platform for a post I was going to write anyway. Because multi tasking is what I do, bitches.


Have you at some point moved on to a different horse, trainer, stable, etc with the purpose of advancing your progress? What made you realize the time was right for a change? Or did you opt to adjust your goals in order to stay with what you know is working? How did either choice work out in the long run?

First, let me give a brief overview of my riding experience. I started riding at five at a backyard barn in the sticks of South Carolina. My instructor, Miss Patty, was the perfect teacher for the group of horse crazy young kids I rode with. She was encouraging, she focused on safety, and she pushed us without scaring us. I learned the basics of jumping there, and then we moved to Illinois when I was eight. 

I took lessons at a hunter barn from eight to thirteen. Grooms did the tacking up and cool downs for us, and while we had brief chats in the tack room before our lessons about horse care, parts of the saddle and bridle, yada yada, it was basically a get on and ride type program. The lesson horses were great teachers, and there were very few horses you could get on and not have to do anything with. I think this barn put a great riding foundation on me because the next time I rode wasn't until my freshman year of college. (Riding Bestie finds it hilarious that I'd never tacked up my own horse until I was almost eighteen. Fancy barns are not always the best barns.)

I took a semester of dressage lessons and for the next three years I supplemented riding racehorses in various stages of training with once weekly regular riding lessons. I was given a reject OTTB early in my second year so I was riding quite a bit on my own, but I only had a handful of lessons from graduation on until I started lessoning with BM last January. I was strong as shit, but my knowledge of the subtle intricacies of things like...you know, the aids, was pretty much nil. 

duties also included teaching a (giant) baby bobby to pony

I've managed to creep along pretty far on my own. I read anything I can get my hands on, and I spend tons of time watching both online videos and other riders. My feel and my instincts have gotten better, but there are so many gaps in my training and consequently in my horse's too. We've shown Second, we've kind of gone Training, and I could navigate a Novice cross country course with my eyes closed. 

But it's all been by the seat of my pants, and I want to be better. 

Part of it is that--if we haven't already--if we attempt to go any further we just won't be able to because of the gaps in training. 

Another part is that yet again we've hit a soundness related brick wall. Or bouncy rubber wall? Because we get knocked down but keep on crawling back to the same old spots. It feels like every time we inch to a new level, BAM, try again later because Bobby needs three months of sitting around working up new medical marvels, and he retains muscle about as well as me sitting on the couch stuffing my face with Cheetos. Which is to say, not at all. 

and then he hurt his ddft and we tack walked all summer. 

To answer T's blog hop questions...

Have you at some point moved on to a different horse, trainer, stable, etc with the purpose of advancing your progress?

I think the horse has the potential to go as far as I can ride in dressage. I don't think he'd stay sound enough to go further than Prelim in any scenario which is more than fine with me. I think my trainer can get us through Fourth level on her own (provided she can teach me how to ride that well, poor girl). She's not at all adverse to outside trainers and has even suggested a few, so if we hit a wall she doesn't think she can get us over, I'll find someone else to help us out as well. 

What made you realize the time was right for a change? Or did you opt to adjust your goals in order to stay with what you know is working?

I've adjusted my goals big time in the past couple months. Knowing there's not a show in sight this year because all the Bobby Money is allocated to vet bills, I've wiped the slate clean. Last week I requested a longe lesson so that BM and I could get a good grip on what my biggest weaknesses are. (I balance on my hands, my core needs to be stronger, and I need to get my hands about thirty feet out in front of me.)

my elbows just really love to live behind my back, okay?
pc: megan stapley, used with purchase

I'm committed to going as far back as we need to fill in all the missing spots. I want my horse to look classically awesome, and I want to be the best rider I can be. A lot of days this means we strut along in a training level frame working on rhythm and adjustability (I think I'd slay bitches in a hunter flat class right now though, not gonna lie.). Some days we're both feeling so on it we absolutely coast through second level work. 

The pieces are all there. They just need spit polish...and some need a little gorilla glue or medical grade sutures, but I think this change in my training mindset is going to be super fucking beneficial for the both of us. I'm hoping we come out next year ready to pick up on the goal train what I wanted to accomplish this year--only better!

This, of course, all depends on Bobby not dropping dead or realizing his foot should not be functional any longer. We head to Cornell first thing tomorrow morning to hopefully get some answers!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

All Rolled into One

For those patiently waiting for a glorious show recap, or any show recap at all, I'll start the post with a quick one:

It didn't happen.

The footing was horrendous for dressage warm up, and I felt like I could barely get Bobby out of the ground. We put in a correct but blah test which landed us with our worst score ever. I was pissed about that until looking at the rest of the scores from our ring and seeing that there was no way I was the only one who ran into such a thing. I'm not sure what the judge was looking for, but apparently none of us had it.

trying to get some forward, but it's hard when your horse is stuck in the ground

Cross country was cancelled because it was under water (as in, the water crossings were up to my thighs), and I wasn't about to drive back down to Geneseo for a stadium round on crap footing. This is the second time in the three years I've lived here they haven't been able to jump because of footing. It's basically a $200 combined test or dressage test which is not what I sign up for. Along with a lot of organizational issues--like there being no announcement anywhere about the cancellation as I found out from a friend who was grooming for someone else who'd heard a rumor--I will not be patronizing this event in the future. I sent in an event evaluation as well.

I have a lot of Feelings about eventing in WNY, but that's a post for another time.

#feelings. the horse was good though and earned his carrots.

Immediately following that I got deathly ill for a week straight, becoming intimately familiar with my bathroom floor where I took up residence for a couple days. Fortunately I finally felt human just in time for our week-long vacation to Maine which was amazing and I wanted never to come back from.

poor black bear said mountain climbing is exhausting. and no, she has no problem
being toted around like a 90lb kitten. 

I finally got to ride my horse again last week. It sucked. A lot. He wasn't really doing anything wrong, but I went into full on "I suck at riding. I'm the worst rider ever. I've broken all my horse's training. I will never ever get better." meltdown, and Bobby was just like, "Amen." My rides sucked, my lesson sucked, my morale sucked.

So Sunday I took Hubby up on his offer to accompany us to Mendon for a photo shoot where we had a blast romping around and soaking in one of the ponds, and I remembered that at the heart of it I just really like riding.

sometimes you gotta go deep for the best snacks

and then he tripped and really went under, but came right back up like, "got it!"
#snacksforlife

Sitting heavy in the background off all this was Bobby's cancer leg. Or more specifically the troublesome foot attached to cancer leg. Like I wrote about when he was first diagnosed, the coronet band has slowly been bulging outwards. It went from all along the top of his foot to really blowing out one side.

it's hard to get a good angle, but the whole top is squishy and swollen. he's also
due to get shod this week, but we're waiting to firm up a plan first. 

He's been one hundred percent sound. Nary a hitch, and BM even complimented how much freer he looked in our lesson than the last time she'd seen him go. He was adjusted by the chiro for an out of whack pelvis last Tuesday, but that was because he couldn't turn right and not because he felt crippled.

Obviously though, that's not normal so I put in a call to the vet Friday for her to come out Monday. Farrier also managed to come out that morning. I like to confirm that I'm not being crazy about hoof issues before talking to Vet as she doesn't seem to take them as seriously as I do--which is why I lean heavily on a really good farrier.

Farrier didn't have any clue what was going on with it. She sent pictures to a colleague who also didn't know. We talked about how the crack is now expanding out instead of up and down, so currently we're planning on ditching the wedges and trying some form of glue-ons and doing....something to the crack, I forget what.

freshly braided for the second time that day
and they're already falling out again. fucker. 

Vet had no idea what it was either, so I agreed to do x-rays with the worry that there might be some bone rotation/fuck uppery somewhere in there. She was without an assistant, but good old Bobby stepped right onto the blocks and happily ground tied without twitching a muscle while I helped her take the images....which showed nothing. At a loss, she gave me a bottle of pentoxifylline to start him back on, and told me she'd get the images sent right to his derm doctor and the ortho team at Cornell.

The only things Vet and Farrier really agreed on were that a) the skin looks good!, b) we were more than likely dealing with a side affect from the sarcoidosis, and c) there was no fucking way this horse should still be walking, let alone sound.

expectation defying moose, breaking the medical rules since the dawn of time.
(he was initially very suspicious of hubby following him around before he realized
hubby belongs to him and is a certified dispenser of treats.)

But he is sound. He feels fucking fabulous actually. In our two rides this week, I've dropped all upper of the lower levels expectations and just let him go back to basics--a training level frame with good pushing power and a steady rhythm. He's a solid A going around like that, so I'll let him keep being an A until he's ready to be an A++ and he wants to give me more.

ugh, this park is so pretty

Vet got all her information sent over to Cornell by the end of Monday, and then went on an emailing rampage to try to get any more information on the sarcoidosis. Like, she sent off an email to the vet in the Netherlands that did the biggest (and seemingly only) study on the disease. She hasn't heard back yet, but it kind of feels like a sarcoidosis celebrity.

Look, things have been kind of dismal around here. I have to get my kicks where I can.

Nobody knows jack shit about it though. Cornell's derm vet has the next best knowledge, but that's pretty minimal and all he was able to contribute was that he's never seen it do anything to the foot. The ortho team suggested a hematoma, but Vet had never seen one inside the hoof, and she felt that they weren't able to really get a good grip from the pictures that it's not just swelling in that one area. It's around the entire foot.

Soooo, that currently leaves me with two options.

Option One: Go down to Cornell and have the ortho team, derm vet, and farrier all take a look at him. They might have to ultrasound, they might biopsy, they might try to drain it. Basically just do a full work up on the mysteries of Cancer Leg with everyone that's been seeing the pictures but hasn't seen it in person.

Option Two: Add a steroid to the program and wait and see.

farrier's horse taught bobby to splash when we ran into them trail riding
a few weeks ago

I was hesitant to jump right aboard the Cornell visit bandwagon. I mean, I'd love to do it. Cornell is an easy two hour trip south and the leg and foot really have to be seen to be believed. But I do have a budget, and the horse is sound as a hardy fucking mule. Vet assured me they're not much more expensive than my usual clinic, but they're plenty fucking expensive all on their own. Cornell is putting together a quote for me though, which I should have sometime this afternoon, and if it's not out of hand I'll jump right on it.

If it is, we'll go to the steroids.

The end goal here is that Bobby has to be sound enough to be a riding horse. There is no retirement pasture waiting for him at this point. If the cancer affects him to the point where he's in pain and we can't get a grip on it, I will put him down. It's a front leg on a horse that turns into a fucking terrorist when not in work. I'm not going to watch him hobble around with his skin sloughing off and his hoof threatening to detach.

But we're not there yet. We're still doing the thing, and fighting the fight, and confusing the medical world one random malady at a time.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Check it off

Knock on mother fucking wood, things are right on schedule for this weekend's show.

Bobby did try to pull a fast one on Monday when I walked in his stall and saw a fresh blood trail down his pastern. At that point he still had a couple scabs left over from the sarcoidosis along his coronet band that were taking their sweet time coming off (They are officially gone as of this morning, and aside from being a little hairless still in spots, he looks like a cancer free horse!) so spots of blood along his leg weren't completely uncommon first thing in the morning. This was a nice fresh unrelated wound however. It looked like he'd stepped on his ankle with his shoe and just popped the skin open.

If you're wondering how one steps on the front of their front ankle with a front shoe, you have clearly never met my elegant ballerina of a horse.

I wiped off the blood, spritzed some BlueKote on the spot, and haven't had to worry about it since. Nice try, sir.

my mom fosters for the siamese cat rescue and recently got three kittens in.
so much cuter than bobby!

Other than that, even the weather has deigned to cooperate with how I've laid things out.

On Monday we did a dressage school before he got his feet done and ran through Novice A for the first time in two years. I opened it up on my phone to make sure I was doing the transitions in the right spots and was like, whuuut is this LOLZ?! It's so short compared to a Second level test. Of course, that also means there are less movements to make up for mistakes. I'm sure I'll find a way to screw it up somewhere, but the ride through felt like a breeze. Let's be real. It's a twenty meter circle each way at trot and canter. I can't mess it up that badly.

Probs famous last words.

i want this one because look at her little white feeties!!!

Yesterday we did our last fitness work, hauling out to Mendon and making sure we could still canter up and down terrain without dying. Bobby blasted through their water crossing without a second thought (he is part moose though, so not surprising), popped over a couple "jumps" in our path, and navigated the hills on autopilot.

I was able to school a drop with him which was nice because we don't have a bank at the barn (yet). There's a little pavilion that sits on a hill that's banked up on two sides just like a real cross country bank. He wanted no part of stepping off it last week, so I hopped off and did some in-hand work this time. There's only enough room for one stride before you land in brambles which I assume was his reason for not wanting to go as he's never had an issue with drops in his life.

He launched off the first time ending up with a face full of brush--which he immediately set to eating--and then calmly stepped down the next two times. I got back on and he stepped off with zero hesitation or fan fare and we carried on. The drop at GVH is part of a double step, and Novice is basically angled off to the side which makes it one drop but way steeper. I was glad to get that out of the way.

Overall though, his breathing and recovery were great for the amount of work we did. A barn mom reported he was tired last night, but he was covered in shavings from a good sleep and back to his perky and obnoxious self this morning for his day off. Bless the Thoroughbred, yo.

herro little stripey space alien

Tomorrow we'll do a light dressage school to make sure all the buttons still work, and then Friday will be a super short jump school to make sure my head is in the game. I'm not in the least concerned about dressage or cross country, but ye olde stadium demons are already back in full force. He hasn't given me a bad jump in weeks, but that shit doesn't die easy. My only goal for that phase is to stay present. And not get eliminated. He can pull every rail for all I care, just puh-leaze let us finish!

We basically got the world's best ride times for both days. Fingers crossed Hubby can work the camera to an acceptable level and that I'll be back next week with some awesome media to share!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

What's red on right, white on left...

...and insanity in the middle?

How about Bobby's return to eventing next weekend? Surprise!

Actually there's (subjectively) nothing insane about it. This fucking show has been in the works for a solid month now. That may not seem like a particularly long time in the grand scheme of things, but seeing as my horse was diagnosed with the world's most random cancer just under two months ago and has inherently shitty feet, that was plenty of time to work with.

Fungus/Cancer Leg appears to be doing well. On the outside it's healing up great. He's off all meds for it, and I've been applying our fave KrudZapper less and less. The hair on his knee is coming in heavily interspersed with grey, and the area around his pastern is being particularly stubborn about growing back, but seeing as how his whole leg was alternately covered in slimy pus or scalded to raw flesh for the better part of May, it looks positively lovely now.

We're still dealing with that leg stocking up overnight. It's not as bad as it has been in the past, but certainly a noticeable difference since we stopped the pentoxifylline. The fill goes away completely as soon as he gets out--whether in turnout or being ridden--so I'm not too concerned about it. I'm trying to budget in a set of Back on Track quick wraps for him to marinate in overnight, and Riding Bestie suggested a chemo cream that I'm waiting to hear back from the vet on.

Soundness-wise though, the leg hasn't given me any issues.

His feet have also been behaving themselves. I think Farrier and I have finally figured out a good plan for him through trial and error these past six-ish months. We know he gets sore if he gets long, and we know that he gets sore the day he gets done. A gram of Bute day-of fixes the latter problem, and sticking to a three to four week schedule (mostly three because ALL THE MONEY) keeps the former from cropping up.

We scheduled his latest shoeing as soon as I sent in my entry. He'd be at four weeks the weekend of the show so obviously that was a no go. I didn't want him to get done afterwards on the chance he'd be ouchy because he was too long, but I didn't want him done the day before because he needs the Bute and I don't show on drugs, so he'll be done on Monday.

It's been a case of detail oriented management to get and keep this horse feeling sound and comfortable. On paper we keep getting handed things that could very well put him into permanent retirement. This is a horse that wants to work though. He tells us when we're not getting it right, and rewards us by doing his job without complaint when we figure things out.

I think it's easy to be faced with a problem like navicular or, you know, cancer and call it quits. It's easy to get a diagnosis and not aim for anything beyond happy pasture pet. In a lot of cases, that's all the future holds. I don't want to quit though. I don't think Bobby is ready to quit. I think he's got a lot more to offer if we do right by him and give him the best care we can. He's not going to be a full time event horse, and he's going to need to be catered to with footing in any atmosphere, but right now he's firing on all cylinders. He feels like he's ready to do this.

I picked an event to go to instead of a big dressage show because it grates on me the way we left eventing. Two years ago we moved up here to WNY. We got one event in, entered a second which was rained out and cancelled after the dressage, and then Bobby hurt his DDFT. We rallied and finished the year with a jumper derby at Novice and Training, but that winter I got my brutal concussion and spent the entire year working my lady balls off to very slowly rebuild my confidence over stadium fences. Right when I hit my stride and was feeling good again, Bobby was diagnosed with navicular and I thought for sure that was the end of any real jumping.

I've been slowly testing the waters on what his feet can handle. We've been jumping in the front field with some regularity, had a couple jump lessons in the indoor, and have done our conditioning work over lots of terrain with spurts of road hacking thrown in. I pack his feet after a hard workout (much to Farrier's amusement--I'm definitely obsessed with hoof packing), but that's all the extra attention they get. So far he hasn't shown any sign of discomfort. The short shoeing cycle and his aluminum wedges are exactly what he needs right now.

Living up to this blog's name, it was a struggle to pay for this one show. I don't have a credit card, and while the vet is great about payments, I don't like owing people money in general. All of Bobby's extensive vet visits and medication came out of pocket and were paid upfront. Coupled with a brand new car payment, there was zero extra money left over for show fees. I paid for the hunter show (and two weeks of meds) with birthday money and that was that. Hauling horses to Syracuse put a big dent in the entry fee, but I still had to rejoin USEA and make sure I'd set aside enough for gas. I had to cancel lessons for this month, but it got done. While I won't be able to afford anything else in the foreseeable future, that's okay.

It's hard to feel like you're missing out on a show season when you're handed a diagnosis you're not sure your horse is going to live through. Every now and then I'll get a twinge like I'm missing out, but I've been busy enjoying my horse, getting my learn on, and filling in some gaps in our training. I'm learning not to look so far ahead and get so caught up in goals and grand visions.

There are plenty of things I still want to do. I want to officially move up to Training. I want to clean up my scores for a Bronze. I want to hunter pace until my legs fall off. I want to do all of those things with this horse, but they're no longer the priority. Right now being able to throw my horse on the trailer and take him for a three hour trail ride by ourselves without a care in the world feels like the biggest win of my life.

Now if only they would hand out satin for that...

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Stirrup length, the posting trot, and chair seat

Today let's talk ALL the things that drive me crazy on a daily dressage riding basis, things that confound me no matter how hard I try to get my head body parts around them. They all tie together in a neat little bundle of equitation catastrophe.

behold! the beauty of none of the body parts working in unison

My biggest problem--well, the biggest problem in in this specific subcategory of all my many problems--is with posting the trot in my dressage saddle. I work tirelessly to try to correct this enigma. I park Bobby in front of the mirror and try to manipulate my body into the position it needs to be in to post upwards and forwards with a long, straight leg and long, straight back. I'm not above grabbing mane or the front of my saddle, but the thing I fuck with the most is my stirrup length.

I don't keep my stirrups the same length for more than a few rides in a row. One day they'll be fine, and the next I'll get on and they feel like they're three holes off. Some days short feels too short, long feels too long, or the right will feel like it belongs to a different rider than the one on left. 

This applies to my jump saddle as well, so it might be something like leg/hip tension that's making me tighten my muscles and not stretch as well as the ride before. Also perhaps stirrup adjusting barn trolls that invade the tack room overnight? Let's not rule out all the possibilities. 

On the days where my stirrups feel too long, I feel like I don't have a solid base to post from. "Don't post from your stirrups!" is obviously a good answer to that, but it's more that I feel like I'm reaching just to make contact with my irons. When they're too short, I feel like I'm blasting ten feet out of the saddle. 

So the problem starts there. My leg is all hibbily bibbily having its own personal identity crisis, and the rest of my body is just like abort!!! My core collapses, my shoulders slouch, and I can barely get my ass out of the saddle without a great effort of throwing my fat roll forwards and following it in a vague interpretation of the fetal position. Enter the chair seat.

collapse all the things

My saddle has very tiny knee rolls which I generally prefer as I have obscenely long femurs and knee rolls tend to yank my leg around into not a comfortable position. But I have to wonder if having more help up there wouldn't force my leg to behave itself and stay in that ideal hip to heel alignment, and if in turn my stirrups wouldn't constantly feel like they weren't at the wrong length. 

Is any of this making sense? Honestly I'm not sure how much sense it makes to me either.

WHICH IS PROBABLY WHY I CAN'T POST CORRECTLY.

Actually, though, some days it's just fine and I have zero issues making my body behave itself.

WHICH JUST MAKES THE PROBLEM WORSE.

i would settle for this as defualt

Does anyone else have this problem? Where your stirrup length never feels right? What is the right length? Any words of advice on how to keep my leg underneath me better in a dressage saddle? This isn't a jump saddle problem, by the way. It's exclusive to dressage.

WHICH PROBABLY MEANS I NEED A NEW SADDLE.

WHICH MEANS I QUIT RIDING.

possibly if i shove my ass forward ten feet it would help?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Five Thousand Miles

Close approximation to the number of miles I covered in the past three days. Combined with a heavy dose of benadryl to combat a sting on my knee that's so swollen I can't wear pants comfortably, I'm basically existing in a strange state between almost-awake and not awake even a little bit.

Fuck yeah, let's write a blog post!

My Friday started at 6 a.m. when doggies and I went to do barn chores for two hours. From there I dropped the doggos off at home while I took a ten second shower, went grocery shopping, came back home, grabbed my truck, and went back to the barn.

pretty much slayed all day. #firsttry

I hooked up my trailer, rescued my pony from his temporary turnout group where they were eating him since his bestie was showing, helped load five horses, and then drove the two hours to Syracuse. Once there I chucked the horse on my trailer into the hands of a teen, did the world's fastest trailer backing and parking maneuvers, and drove the two hours back home. Two minutes to change into nice clothes, then into the car to drive an hour and a half down to Hubby's little brother's graduation. Two hours later, back in the car to drive home again. On Sunday I added on another four hour round trip to grab ponies from Syracuse with my window off the track in the pouring rain and the feeling of a knife lodged under my kneecap.

nothing like a good lake storm when you're driving along the lake for ten million miles

But between that all I got two dressage rides in, and I forced Hubby to join me for one since he hasn't come to the barn in ages, so the weekend was basically a win.

all rides start with stretchies and me trying to figure out how to post

Saturday we were in the indoor for the entirety of the ride and Bobby was super. Really the only thing he did wrong was getting a little twisted in his neck in the left lead canter. But let's be real. Why would any horse be twisted in its neck? Maybe because its rider can't stop fidgeting with the mother fucking reins.

Sunday I started off in the outdoor purely to get better pictures. My camera does fine in the indoor, but outside is just so much better. Bobby felt alright at the walk and cruising around on a long rein at the trot.

my complete inability to post in a dressage saddle is its own separate post.
in summary though: NOPE.

Once I started trying to pick him up and put him together though, he felt awful. His stride felt short and tight, and there was no softness to be found anywhere. I tried to tough it out for awhile with the thinking that I can't just quit when I'm at a show and he's not feeling perfect right away. But all the tricks I threw at him did nothing to improve the situation.

giving up on getting anything at this point. mehhh, sad body, sad face, we suck.

I decided to go into the indoor to make use of the mirror. Maybe he wasn't actually looking as bad as he felt? Maybe I was doing something truly awful with my body to make him feel like shit?

The second we picked up the trot inside he felt a hundred percent better.

you see what i mean with the underneck coming out of his chest tho?! ughhhhhh.
work in progress in this lower frame. so boring. so tedious. making myself work at
it every day regardless. 

The outdoor is under full sun from the second daylight hits until it's completely dark out. The base isn't as deep as the indoor, and the footing tends to bake to cement pretty quickly. I think our problem was that it was too hard for Bobby to get comfortable on. No big deal, I'll just be more careful of that in the future. There are two big grass fields we can ride in that don't get hard so easily if we're really that sick of flatting in the indoor.

We did some really quick trot work (because I wasn't going to make Hubby sit through ten hours of trot as Bobby stretched down and then came back, stretched down, and up, and down, and up, and....yada yada until he actually unlocked his cramped withers and shoulders) before we moved on to some canter.

most days the right lead is worse. this weekend he felt like the left lead should
get a turn to suck a little bit. 

the right lead felt easy peasy though. 

We finished with gallivanting around the front field bareback right quick because I've got social media to run here, Hubby. Suck it up.

we had a lesson out here thursday where bm basically yelled at me the whole time
to not let bobby fall to the inside going left, bobby kept popping flying changes and
locking onto jumps while ignoring me, and i bemoaned how out of shape i am. all of
that is going on in this picture as well with bm in my head.

i am going to be so pissed if hubby can't figure out how to take focused jumping pictures.
it was the only reason i bought this fucking camera!!!!

Nothing but a lot of dressage is in our immediate future...provided I can suffer putting breeches on over my knee. I want to get this horse's neck looking like a sexy swan. That is my only goal for this summer!