Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Twiddling my thumbs....

Well, I have a very valid excuse for not blogging recently. I know, I know - here I go justifying again. But seriously. I kind of broke my a$%. Okay, had to give you a minute to recover from that one. Things were going great, and we were aiming for our first show which would have been this past weekend. I came out to ride last Monday, put together a temporary dressage arena to practice in, tacked up, and got on. I was riding around in my makeshift arena, when I noticed my mare gawking at - a line in the dirt. She is a freak about anything unusual on the ground. Delilah rarely spooks at anything, but she will scamper sideways around dead grass in the arena after we move jumps, funny-looking puddles...like I said, anything on the ground. Well, there was some construction going on at the barn, and I'm guessing that is why something had made a little semi-circle ark that was scratched into the ground. We walked past it once - AHHHH! Then twice - ahhh!!! Finally she quit reacting to us going by it, and I completely forgot about it. We picked up our trot and had a few lovely circles around the middle of the arena, and then we came to the end of the arena where the terrifying circle was (that by this point, I have completely forgotten about).

I should have remembered.

Next thing I know, my mare is flying out to the right, and there is no longer a horse under me. I remember thinking "I'm falling off!!!!" in complete wonderment, because it has been a LONG time since I have fallen - we're talking ten years here. Then, it was "this isn't as bad as I thought!"....right before I hit the ground.

Then I hit the ground, and the illusions of grandeur were immediately replaced by a steady stream of expletives. I rolled over...check. Bent my knees and tried to get up....F&%#. Sorry, but that's the only word to describe it.

You see, I landed bent in half, straight on my butt and partly on my hip. So, like I said...sorry I haven't blogged in a while, but I really did hurt my A&%! Luckily, it wasn't a break. The doctor is hypothesizing it might be a sprain. I also landed on my left hip, and after xrays and a CT scan, they discovered that I had an old avulsion fracture that I landed on...so apparently, at some time in the past, I fractured my pelvis and didn't know it. Then I landed on it again, and it didn't (and still doesn't!) feel so great.

So I am blogging to you while sitting on my new best friend, the heating pad, while I take a break from my beloved companion, the donut pillow. Dr. Rain-on-my-Parade (whose true identity shall remain nameless) wants me to take 6-8 weeks off to avoid long-term damage. To which I reply - HELLO??!!! It is SHOW SEASON!!! I have been good. It's been a week, and I have followed orders. This week, the weather is forcing me to obey - we have had a barrage of rain. So I feel confident I will make it two weeks. There is a sheepskin seat saver waiting in my cubby for my return to the saddle...I have a feeling it may be earlier than six weeks from now......

I guess I may be sitting on the sidelines for awhile now....

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Welcome to Cloud Nine!!!!

I am so grateful for daylight savings time to have arrived. It excites me that I now have time to ride two or even three horses before fighting off darkness. Last night, I got to the barn around six with good intentions to work both of my horses. Needless to say - both rides were WELL above my expectations.

I started out with Delilah. Since I had forced myself to work on cantering (and conquering the strongly associated fear that comes with cantering), I of course had to pursue the same goal as long as the ride was going okay. So we started with the usual - loose rein, guiding her with my seat and leg; some seat halts - generally just making sure she was tuned in and listening. Then we laid down some really beautiful work at the trot, so I decided to up the ante. Historically, our biggest battle has been conquering the cue to canter. I have been using small crossrails to get her to naturally canter off, and the excitement seems to be minimized that way. Last night, I asked for the canter cue. Keep in mind one thing - the last few times I asked for the canter cue, we would shoot off like a racehorse out of the gate, usually going around leaning on the inside shoulder, flipping her head, and even tripping. Now, I fully admit that a portion of that was undoubtedly my anxiousness at the impending canter - but still... So that's where we left off last year. Last night however - beautiful. We started out accidentally cross-cantering, which I am ashamed to admit I couldn't feel - someone pointed it out from the ground. At one point, she did flip her head for about two strides, which of course made her pick up steam and consequently lose her footing in a muddy spot and nearly fall to her knees. But I stayed on, got her back, and into a decent downward transition. After that, we worked on the canter cue two more times, and by the last one, I was able to get her balanced and going nicely for a few strides. She is still very green and takes a lot of "putting together" at this point. Right now, I am having to pick up the inside reign, and kind of counterbalance the outside rein in an open position to get her to carry herself. I can't wait til the day when she starts to get it together without as much excitement or management. Regardless though, finally, we are on our way!!!

Then came time to work my gelding Samson. I haven't focused much on him in this blog, because he has had a host of soundness-type issues, if that makes sense. He was a sort of rescue-project-pony that came home with me in late June of last year. He's not built the greatest - a little heavy on the forehand, big head - but he has the personality of a saint for the most part. When I was ready to throw my hands up because of my mare, he was the cheap confidence-booster that I could do anything on. The night I tried him, I hadn't cantered any horse in a long time. Then I jumped on him, and walk/trot/cantered around a tiny ring, in the dark, without a moment's hesitation. Samson is the first horse in a long time that I instantly trusted - and still to this day have complete confidence on. So, even though he has cost me more than double his purchase price - (minor surgery, chiropractor, joint & ulcer supplements, possible hock injections now...) - he has been worth every penny.

However, he has been frustrating as well. Since we got him, and put him into "real" work (he was a trail horse before) he never quite moved right. Something has always been a little off - he isn't built the greatest, but he should definitely be able to move better than he does. In addition, I have never been able to land a left lead canter on him. We tried the chiro to see if it would help, and while he moved a little better and was able to bend better, he still didn't pick up the left lead. In the last week, we have worked on it, and after an exam with the vet we were considering hock injections. So I decided to try it one more time last night. I had been talking through the situation with a friend, and she joked about beating on him (take that phrase with a grain of salt - not literally beating, just getting my point across) before asking for the canter, so he knows I am serious, and so that he picks it up quickly. I added that to everything I had been working on with my trainer on how to position myself and him to give us the biggest chance of success. I found a perfect little downhill slope in the arena to ask it of him - the general idea being that it would help him roll onto the correct lead - and asked him to canter. I look down, check my lead, and am stunned - he's on the correct lead! NO WAY. We have been trying for MONTHS to get this. I come around again, to the same spot - ask for the canter....correct lead, AGAIN! I am hesitatant to push my luck, but I have to try it one more time. So I come around to the little slope, ask for the canter, look down - wrong lead. Wait a minute - something feels funny....look down again....CORRECT LEAD. Robyn and Tori, other riders who were watching form the ground - start hollering. My jaw drops. Samson...just...got...a LEAD CHANGE? No way!!!! Let me tell you - if you had told me that SAMSON would get a lead change before Delilah - I would have told you it was impossible. But sure enough, my big clumsy money-pit gelding laid down a perfect auto-swap last night. And this is after nearly a year of not even picking up that lead.

Needless to say, I am still on cloud nine!!!!!

Samson, the Confidence Builder :-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New progress...FINALLY!!!

Well, I am actively applying myself to conquering my fears. It started on Saturday. I went to a show with two girls from our barn, basically to serve as team support, official show photographer, and boot wiper. :-) It turned out to be a strangely motivating experience. It was hard to watch them both in the ring showing, while I sat on the sidelines doing nothing with the mare I have had for two years. I have to add - one of the girls who showed has only had her formerly "crazy" gelding since December - and was already doing at least a flat class. I was so proud of them, and so disappointed in myself, that I subconciously channeled my frustration into making some progress with Delilah.

I had a great ride Saturday after the show. We worked on mostly flatwork, walk and trot, and hopped over a tiny brush fence that she has never seen before. We had a great ride, and another boarder's mom even snapped a few pictures when I wasn't watching!

Then I came out on Sunday and decided to up the ante. We haven't cantered (on purpose, HA!) since probably last summer or fall. (Mostly due to my being a complete chicken &%$@) So I decided it was time to hop a small vertical to get her naturally cantering off. We have had a lot of trouble asking for the canter in the past, I'm sure due to my anticipation and her excitement combined. Turns out, it went beautifully. I came out last night and had the same goal. All went well in our flatwork and warming up, so I hopped a tiny vertical and ended up in a nice relaxed canter again. She still falls on her inside shoulder and motorcycles around a little, but all the head-tossing and tripping has yet to surface. (KNOCK ON WOOD!!!!) I was so ecstatic, I put on my big girl pants and went for a conditioning trot around the mile-long lane that borders our farm - formerly a very scary undertaking. All in all, it went beautifully. We had a really forward but comfortable trot all the way around. We were almost back to the arena, walking along and cooling off, when a car rushed by and she spooked right out from under me - almost. I managed to somehow regain my position in the saddle and stay on, but I nearly crapped myself, all the while laughing hysterically. Leave it to Delilah - phenomenal ride, and then she acts like a fool in the last five minutes.

You gotta love mares. :-)

Friday, March 11, 2011

A rant or two....

I have a really bad habit of internalizing everything, to the point that I feel like I will explode. Sometimes I feel like I am an afterthought to everyone, until something is needed of me. I think that's all I want to really say about that.... That's mini-rant number one for the day. My second vent is my mare. I swear, anything that can crop up lately, will. I was grooming her last night, and she was so touchy and bothered anytime I went near her flanks. She wasn't colicky, and ate all her dinner, so we are hypothesizing that she is going into a bad heat cycle. She literally couldn't stand for me to touch her back there. She's always been fairly thin-skinned, but never to the point that she would kick out. So I guess I feel better having gotten that off my chest and into cyberland. I think....

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Same Stuff, Different Day

Not much for updates in the last week. Delilah got her teeth done on Monday. I was hoping they would find some kind of atrocious abnormality in her mouth that would explain two years of headtossing - but no such luck. She had a wolf tooth, but it did not seem to be causing her any issues. She did, by the way, take DOUBLE the amount of drugs it took to put my even larger gelding under. That's my girl!!!

We rode on Tuesday night. She was a little neglected last week - not even sure why, just kind of happened. She was fussy, and bossy, and blowing right through my hands and downright running around to start with. At one point, she broke into a canter. There were so many people schooling around me, and she was giving me so much trouble, I ended up leaving the ring and finding a corner to go do circles in. Ahhh, circles. Sometimes they seem like our past, present, and eternal future.

I am going to experimentally treat her for ulcers - not an actual treatment, but supplement and diet changes. She has been girthy for the last few weeks, and then the bucking behavior started anytime I put my leg on. My trainer and I had hypothesized that it was a mare thing - coming into season harder this year for some reason. So we started her on a mare supplement, but haven't seen a drastic change. I am going to try a really popular ulcer supplement, and add some alfalfa to her diet, and see what we get. Things were going so well, I would really like to get back there again.

So that's all for now. Going out to ride tonight, though in all honesty, I don't feel like it. I have got to get my motivation back.