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We Are Flying Solo

March 22, 2016

And Just Like That, It's Over

But it was spectacular...
Dr. Bob just left with my last piece of hope.  Encore has torn a cruciate ligament in his left stifle, which means jumping is just not going to work.  I was told there was nothing I could have done to prevent it, I'll have to work on convincing my brain of that.

I'll write more later when I can see, but we won't see a horse trial again.  We did blister that stifle, as it will still tighten the laxity in the joint.  Dr. Bob says we can still hit the trails, still climb mountains, which is Encore's favourite thing anyway.

I'm pretty tired of writing "still."  Rehabbing that stifle will begin in a day or two with W/T work & I can add canter when he feels ready.  Which I'm posting as a reminder to myself that (hopefully, can you cut me ONE dang break, universe??) all isn't lost, because most of my favourite riding experience & memories are our many expeditions.  And I suppose it saves me a lot of money in entries.

But my Training Level horse, who was all ready to take me to my 3-Day...nope.  Horses...why?


March 20, 2016

Stupid Stifles Suck

I appear to have an 's' theme lately.   I'm not fond of this addition.

Encore continues to enable my phenomenal overthinking powers.  It's probably easier to just turn the volume up for you (warning: brain insides not necessarily or consistently rational), internal dialogue follows -

Ok, I'm finally able to begin putting us back together.  Topline & butt need remuscle-ing.  Task doable!

Learn your stifles (pic
DEC:  Hmmm, he still feels a bit loose behind.  And is sore in left stifle after a brief but focused long line session.   I don't feel evidence of any tears, consult Dr. Bob (wow, thanks Android, for automatically filling in his name in draft, way to rub it in).

No edema or other damage found; cortisone for both stifles & a steroid to help boost us up out of the unfit-loose-sore-more-rest-unfit maddening cycle (want to avoid blister if possible).  Commence Plan Hill-acious.

JAN:  Hey, muscle definition!  We can hop some things calmly!  I'm still getting some slip behind, we just work through it, right?  Bute & baby steps?  Annual back injections (see TFS Injection 101 here), check, they take 3 weeks to settle, patience, right?


FEB:  Mmmnggghm, this is still NQR.  I KNOW him, the vibe is off & he's crabby.

Test on hills.  Not terrible.  Test in arena.  Maybe he's better.  Test on longer trail hills.  Dammit.  Not better.

Pampering is so exhausting...
MAR:  Inspect saddle.  Some small lumps, time to fluff, ok, try other saddle, will have fitter out to adjust.  Better.  Wait, what was that?

Put hands on horse.  Oh, maybe the 20 knots along left side of withers, back & butt explain something. *facepalm*  BUT.  Task doable.  Commence Plan Bodywork. 

Test bareback to remove confounding saddle variable.  Better!  And lots of nice new pops in carrot stretches as things relax.  AND I can work deep into hips & stifle tissues without pain response like he had when he DID tear something.  Yay!

Wait, maybe - nope, not better.  But muscles feel smoother, continue bodywork.  What if I - no, waffle time is over.  Let's get to the bottom of this. 

Yeah, that's the condensed version. :/   But we reconvene with Dr. Bob Tuesday.   There will be heinously thorough inspection, but research & consultation indicate: act now, get the rehab done, so maybe, hopefully, please pretty please, we can bloody well MOVE ON.

 At least that's the Plan.

March 5, 2016

How To Get To Good: Be A Better Lab Rat

Encore & I always look like this. Ha.
You get on your horse, warm up & organize your various pieces & parts, & then you begin work.  Ask him to move forward, connect back to front, create suppleness & adjustability, aiming for the best you can create at both of your levels of ability.  Obvious, right?

We often even think of that process as "easy" in that we can say, "Sit up straight, apply leg, maintain steady, elastic rein connection, do that breathing thing."  And if we do all those things properly, our partner will reward us with a round, rhythmic canter, stepping up through his withers & pushing energy out through the bridle.

Stop me now if that works out for you every time.  Anyone?  Buhler?  Yeah, the devil's in the details.

Solo: Master of Subtle Opinions...
On Monday, your horse decides "leg" means "let me show you my best llama impression!"  Wednesday, his response is, "Eh?  Did you say something?"  Thursday, your left elbow is convinced "steady connection" is best achieved by "death grip against my horse's locked jaw."  You're sorted on Saturday, wow, that canter felt great -- so when you have a chance to get on a different horse, you apply the same process...only to enjoy the Trot At Terminal Velocity with as much bend as a 2 x 4.

Fortunately, we have helmets to deal with the subsequent *headdesk* repetitions!  But what gives?

I posted a teaser quote from a current reading project, so now I'm following up on my promise for more.  Mary captures the individual approach horses require from us, even from one ride to the next, with a great analogy:

"Imagine that each horse, in his evasive movement, resembles one entrance to a maze, which has at its center the good movement we are seeking. With every horse we go on a unique journey & initially, in particular, the feelings he gives us & the difficulties he poses may be strikingly different. The knowledge we glean from one journey may only serve to confuse us on the next – at times we may even have to do the exact opposite of something we previously experienced as being a surefire way of getting us to the center."

Y U play hard to get, cheez??
My suspicions are supported:  our horses really do use us as experimental laboratory mice!  I knew I could hear snickering as I blundered about in search of that cheese with perfect bascule...

What I like best about her imagery though, is that it shines the focus on each ride, each journey, as a puzzle (there could be a puzzle-lover bias here, heh) instead of an assumption.  To solve a puzzle, we have to think about the process, breaking it down into progressive steps towards our goal of a nice transition or a balanced circle.

Mentally, this automatically puts me in the moment, listening to my body & feedback from my horse, then trying something different if we aren't at "good" yet.  At the same time, it subconsciously gives me the critically important freedom to do "the exact opposite of something" that I tried before, creating the opportunity to discover, hey, if I let go, my horse really doesn't run away.

BAM.  (extra hunter Solo for Lauren, hee)
Which I have far better luck with than my approach from past years, of "I did all the things, this is still sucking!"  Trapping us in a dead-end, repeatedly walking into the same wall, blindly hoping it will just fall down & present a full cheese platter.

Now I have a cheese craving, dangit.