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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label conditioning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label conditioning. Show all posts

April 24, 2016

We're Still Here, Still Crazy

My intentions to update you remain overwhelmed by assignments, but I couldn't leave a gaping hole for guesses, so I shall at least attempt The Bullet Approach:

  • To each person who has shared & those who continue to share support, kindness, laughter, & even just saying hi – THANK YOU, YOU ARE AWESOME. 
  •  
  • I apologize for any impressions that I may be sitting in a hole of self-pity, (ok, I'm human, I totally own that there was some egregious despair) however life stepped in & ripped the cover off the hole in short order. 
    • Field research season opened for roaring business at work, leaving little time for whimpering. 
    • See splashy horse (unless on a mobile)
    • It's also nearly the first weekend in May, which means – click the countdown to Heart of the Carolinas 3DE in the left sidebar to visit event central...GO LOOK AT ALL THE PRETTY THINGS, THEY TAKE A LONG TIME TO MAKE! ;P  There's more on the way, thanks to great sponsors & my fantastic Sponsorship Assistant:  Erica, you rock
     
  • Encore & I are picking away at this whole rehab thing.   I'm not sure where we are right now, but today was sunny, 70F, with a light breeze, & we walked through a green forest of birdsong: vireos, warblers, wrens, thrashers, gnatcatchers, woodpeckers, even the wild turkeys.

    Each note landed gently on my heart, seeming to say that the Moment is here, the Moment is now, & this Moment has much good.  That is a melody I embrace.  There has been more than enough darkness, today I unquestioningly cherish the sun.
  •  
  • Back on a lighter note: HOTC 2016!  There will be some seriously amazing new elements this year.  You will still be able to follow the live media feeds on Twits & InstaThingies (you know you have it in your diary: “Be entertained by eventer79's ridiculous sleep-deprived commentary.”) & I'll share more very soon. 
    • Hints: listen in when Sally O'Connor joins us – yes, THAT Sally – and meet both new & familiar equine crafts(wo)men. 
    • On top of the Mother's Day craft contest (eventers + beer + glitter markers = no-lose possibility), annual Southern Eighths KY Derby party, the return of our flying volunteer veterans, & did I mention a collection of mind-blowing prizes??? 
    NOMS??!?
  • Solo sends his shiniest magic to all of you, although he is still working on transferring an unfathomable amount of dull winter fur into every single one of my pores.  Note to self: do not open mouth while brushing horse on windy spring days.  Or eyes. 
So for now -

When your eyes are tired 
the world is tired also... 
The dark will be your home tonight. 

The night will give you a horizon 
further than you can see. 

Iris woke up today!
You must learn one thing. The world was made to be free in... 

Sometimes it takes darkness & the sweet 
confinement of your aloneness 
to learn 

anything or anyone 
that does not bring you alive 

is too small for you.

 -excerpt from Sweet Darkness, poem by David Whyte, thanks for the discovery to Calm Things
 

April 3, 2016

Remember To Not Forget To Not Ride


I watched my horse's eye soften as I worked my hands over Encore's neck, back, & hindquarters, seeking out knots & tension to ease away.  Each time my thumbs dug into a hard burl of muscle, Encore's lower lip quivered & his head dropped lower...and lower...and lower.  He licked his lips & sighed in thanks.

As our horses keep us running in circles (some of them voluntary...), the line between remembering & forgetting & which side we're on (is it the one we're supposed to be on??) can get blurry.  Going through our bodywork ritual, I'm reminded once more of the importance of being NEXT to your horse.

If it sounds familiar, it's because I've combined & updated several (very!) old posts with added comments here to knock the dust off these critical routines.  These tiny tasks, many that take only seconds, are what collectively add up to a well-managed horse.  This is what makes a horse(wo)man, not just a rider.

Take The Time

Take the time to palpate your horse's large muscle groups before & after a ride to look for tender spots.

...to look in his eyes:  are they bright, alert, free of cloudy areas or spots?

...to run your hands down each leg so you know if that knot is new or old.

...to lay a palm on each hoof as you pick them to check the temperature & wiggle each shoe to check for tightness when you lift his feet.

...to really notice the colour, shape & texture of his frog & sole so you know if they change.

...to run your fingers up the back of his pasterns to check for fungus like scratches.

...to take him out on a hack to condition him on hills & uneven ground at the walk & trot. Don't get trapped in the sandbox.

...to watch him walk away from you as you turn him back out to watch for any stiffness or unevenness.

...to give him a day or two off for a grooming spa or some quiet handgrazing so his body & mind can rest each week.  Let him just be a horse.

...to glance into his feed bucket -- is he cleaning it up? 

...to watch him eat. Is he chewing easily & evenly or does he just mash it & let it fall out of his mouth?

...to inspect his manure & watch him pee. Is everything normally coloured?  Is the flow & consistency of all his waste the same every day?

Fight the urge to rush, get to know your horse's body & habits so that when something does change (oh yes, we know it will), you will be the first to know.  Early detection is key to maximizing his chances at recovery, comfort & longevity.  Tendon, muscle, & joint also each need time to rest & recover from micro-injury & stress that comes with work (or equine existence :/).  It is our responsibility to respect that need & to ensure that we are not asking our horses to work in pain or discomfort.   

Encore & I finished with some carrot stretches to each side -- I make him stretch his nose at least to his flank (no cheating & moving his feet!) in each direction.  Upon recheck, his back muscles are softer, his withers are less sore & the knots along his haunches are smaller.

It's a continuous process, but one I must not to forget in the bustle of every day.  Happier body = happier horse.  Happier horse = happier me.  It's that simple.

I eternally love Grumpy Cat...

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 digilibraries.com)
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?

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.

February 2, 2016

Of Tales And Trails


Do you think our stories break when we do?  Or do they just get so tangled up that we can't find a view of the road?

I'm still struggling to figure it out - or at least looking for some high ground that might offer a bit of perspective.  Who knew the search would be measured in years??  But the tangle, the fog, whatever it is that swallowed the map is the same thing that has dragged at my efforts to write to you.

This blog is a journey, just as much as the tales it chronicles.  I guess it shouldn't be shocking that a journey involving horses has sinkholes, detours, & inexplicable roadblocks!  Nonetheless, I apologize for my stutters, fits, & gaps of silence (although more than one person that knows me might say that last is a blessing, ha).

I'm working hard on the search for impulsion, though.  Half-steps are hard for horses & people (dressage joke FTW)!  I do feel like there's been some improvement in muscling!

Encore approves
Stepping Out

Encore & I did get to indulge in some desperately-needed trail therapy on Sunday.  Sun & warmth & wait, was that a bud on that tree?

Riding has been a wee bit challenging for everyone this winter, so our rehab pretty much matches my posting attempts:  sporadically possible, with moderate chance of fail.  But there be muscles on the horse too!

We've combined hill-walking, W/T transitions with roundness, some collected walk with lots of topline stretching, & occasional bursts of weather-permitted trot sessions.  While we're hardly ring-ready, Encore's been pushing evenly behind (one of my big indicators) & happily loped over some 18" obstacles.

Getting back in the woods was a wonderful treat - many thanks to lovely neighbour Vanessa for  pony daycare, as poor Solo can't keep up with giant TB strides for two hours anymore.

And my gratitude to you for all the forms of support & patience, no matter how small:  they always means so very much!

Deep breath then, & we shall attempt another step.

I'll never tire of my sky!
I have heard that voice many a time when asleep
and, what is strange, I understood more or less
an order or an appeal in an unearthly tongue:

day draws near
another one
do what you can. 

-Czeslaw Milosz

December 25, 2015

There's No Present Like The Time*

Holidays & I have mixed relations, but there is still no repressing my smile at Solo’s unfailing welcome nicker as I step out the back door.

So I relish every opportunity to lean on that massive shoulder & giggle at his never-ending fascination with nuzzling feet.

I’m filled with gratitude for this time off work to continue Operation Encore (v. 6.0?); we’re on day 9 or 10, I think, of my modified fitness regime. It’s some pretty thrilling stuff, like 20 minutes of walking while on the bit, or adding in some trot transitions on our longer hill walking sessions.

Where did everyone go?
We spiced it up yesterday with some radical Guinea Cutting & I think we’d have scored very well, successfully isolating the same bird three times in a row! You may not have heard of this discipline yet. That’s probably because I invented it yesterday.

Don’t worry, there’s still time to qualify for the Championships the next time Neighbour Vanessa’s flock wanders over (ride times are subject to change at the whim of pea-brained fowl).

It may have rained 427 inches in 24 hours, but at 75F, no one’s cold OR dehydrated.

For all these moments & many more, I say an inadequate thanks. Solo hates it when I press my face against his neck to absorb him with all my senses – so I try to do it often. At least he doesn’t mind my irritating chest congestion visitor (blech).

I hope I get many more chances to harass both of my ridiculous redheads in the coming year. But one thing all of us can do without fail is to seize the wonderful gift of Now.

Our bests to you from Flying Solo Farm -

My highlights
*Yes, I totally stole this from a movie.  No, I do not feel any remorse.  ;P

December 14, 2015

The Double Whammy

While I waited for Dr. Bob last Tuesday morning, I was fully prepared to hear Encore had torn a meniscus or something & I'd have a full-fledged retirement farm.

Oh, by the way, yeah, two days after Solo's "little" clinic visit, Encore decided he wanted to help keep me in poverty too.

But before I tell that story, I want to say a massive THANK YOU to each of you who commented & emailed & sent messages of support following my sad discovery of Solo's injury.  Words can be powerful & their meaning is beyond value when compassion is needed most.  Truly.

May be 1/2-finished clip revenge
Dr. Bob's 2nd Weekly Visit

After an attempt at a "consolation ride" on Saturday, hoping Encore would help lift my spirits, he informed me after a barely-pulse-raising 15-minute ride that his stifles were so sore that I was not to touch them.

I was not very consoled.

Much as I enjoy Dr. Bob's breadth of story-telling & educational treatises, I really prefer not to see him twice in four days.  And given Friday's news, I may have been a wee bit pessimistic as his truck pulled up to the shed.

I Get Somewhat Consoled

He allayed my fears after a hands-on exam & circled my "best case scenario."  Due to my intense work project demanding lots of travel since August, combined with other physical constraints, I've just been caught in a vicious cycle.

As previously noted, Encore gets bored & plays hard.  When he's not fit, soft tissue & joints are loose, & he jams himself up performing impressive sliding stops & other pasture escapades.  Then, because he's made himself sore, I don't push him, so he doesn't get fit.

Phone did something to pics...
However, the cycle shall be broken.  Dammit.

Work project has been wrapped up (ok, I decreed it wrapped up).  Encore got a shot of cortisone in each stifle to bring down inflammatory soreness, along with a steroid to help boost our ability to build muscle & tighten everything up.

I've got a schedule to try out, a back-to-work program - it comes in
versions from a clinic my neighbour has taken several horses to (brain needs small, concrete tasks at this point).  I'll tweak it a bit here & there to fit us.

Our 30 days began Saturday, with a hair-raising...er, bareback walking session.  Eh, it was beautiful out.  Barring ginormous storms, hopefully in four weeks Mr. Porky will be a bit closer to Mr. Sexy.

November 23, 2015

The Trouble With Horses

But Encore-face, impossible to not love...
Is that they're horses.  One minute you're on top of the world, the next, you're typing "NQR."

Also, never write about "winds of change".  They snicker & knock you down next time you walk out the door.

The silver lining is that change is, well, changeable.  I was disheartened last week when Encore was cooling out on the long lines...and started limping.  At the walk.  And post-grooming revealed stifle soreness. Again.

I tried not to go completely bonkers, after all, I've had plenty of practice. :/  He is out of shape & I had just asked him to really use himself,  albeit for a very brief session.

Work stepped in, I had to go flail around in mosquito clouds in the swamp, so he had a week to think about what he'd done anyway.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous when I climbed on today to feel things out & at least get a road hack in.  You want to know but you don't want to know, you know?

Exhale.

I kept our lines wide & straight in a brief W/T/C/hop over a couple logs warm up.  He started out with that anticipatory tightness that something might be sore.  But I just asked him to move forward through the bridle, & waited.   Not uber round & compacted, just connected to a soft feel & working over his back.

When he began to stretch down & swing a bit, it was a shared relief!  (Offer valid for the next 12 hrs only, terms & conditions may apply...)

I didn't ask more than about 10 minutes of moving out before we looped out into our road route, about a mile & change with some rolling slopes to walk.

It's (another re-) start, but such is the nature of our much-loved, yet maddening partners.  Circles both real & metaphorical & no predicting how small they'll be.

The goal & challenge will be to rebuild consistency - garnering what energy I can find & keeping my butt in the saddle so Encore has the strength he needs to support work & play.  At least until he thinks of a new trick.

Um, anyone want to ride a very cool horse while I'm stuck in meetings?

Scenery included at no charge

November 11, 2015

Catching Up: Like, RIDING HORSES!

It’s a tad squishy out, what with several inches of rain over the last 24 hours.  But the sun is warm & some of the grass is still green.  And my carefully guarded drainage sloughs & soils are hard at work already, drying it out for me & eight expensive hooves!

Storms make great sunsets though
There’s a lot to catch up on, both on these pages & in the saddle.  I commend the patience of anyone still clicking over to TFS.  One look at my annual post numbers over there in the right-hand archive tab reveals yawning gaps in our journey.

It’s not that there weren’t stories to tell.  More often a general overwhelm of the universe conspiring towards my demise combined with…well, who really wants to read, “I didn’t ride my horses because I’m sad & tired?

There are hints of change in the wind, though.  I’m not entirely sure of their direction yet, but I’m thinking that they’re the good kind.
 
To my shame, I have to admit that my riding muscles were actually sore after giving Encore a chance to stretch his legs on Sunday.  If that doesn’t tattle on me…  I was reminded, though, that vacations are always good for our partners.  They don’t forget what we’ve taught (good OR bad, heh) & more often than not, giving things a chance to settle in has brought us better results in the long run.

Encore: Please, admire at your leisure...
Encore Escapades

The Turf Beast has had quite a bit of down time, with intermittent bursts of exercise (let’s not go crazy & call it ‘work’), first to heal his X-Games injuries, then to wait for his rider to finish grubbing fish out of swamps through the fall (only THREE trips left this year, woohoo!).

While that naturally means we both get to rebuild muscle, all the buttons are still there, & once we start moving, it’s now only a few minutes before he is working over his back properly & staying elastic in the contact.

Um, super exciting progression from ‘llama/hackney cross impersonator locking the left side of his jaw’ that we started with.  It helps that I’m getting better at staying focused on how I WILL ride & remembering to notice that if my left shoulder starts aching, it’s probably because I’m hanging on to that rein like a climbing hold.

Psssh, with my eyes closed... By High Time Photos
 Because guess what:  your horse goes forward so much nicer when you aren’t blocking all of his energy with your iron grip.  You can have that earth-shattering tip at no cost!
 
Life on Solo terms: not the side of the fence I left him on
Solo Shenanigans

Solo’s been keeping my guilt active with his very special “I’m making a list of every time you don’t play with me” look.  He had his own vacation (or in Solo-terms, ‘horrific neglect,’ because somehow I have a horse who thinking eating grass & hanging out with his best horsey buddy is punishment), thanks to aforementioned ridiculous employer demands that I actually EARN my paycheck, as well as working out Weird Shoulder Thing.

While he is Member #3 of Muscle Rebuild Club, he assured me he was a solid, sexy, fancy stud both under saddle & on the longe last week (feel my awesome canter, mom, hey, let’s jump this log, did you see how awesome I was, yeah, check out this sexy canter, did I show you my badass canter?).

I couldn’t stop giggling (er, between panting) – I’d ask him to trot & he’d step up into his favourite canter instead, with that trademark spark in his eye & both ears cocked back at me to make sure I was paying attention.

Naturally, I’m rediscovering my ability to begin picking up (& searching for) pieces as soon as that nasty winter time change sets in.  But that’s ok; when it’s dark out, that's when you get to see the stars.
My Solo superstar

July 21, 2015

How Not To Get Hot


Famous last words:  “I was going to wait & ride at 8:00 pm since it’s 907% humidity, but heck with it, it’s already 6:30 pm, that’s close enough!

Nausea, dizziness, stomach cramping, fatigue, shortness of breath, & nausea are all signs of…what was that, kids?  Dumbassery?  Well, yes.  That actually might be a better answer than my old friend, heat perishing (it sounds better than the completely non-dramatic label ‘exhaustion’).

I did ride, though!  It just took me three times longer to hose Encore between gasping on the floor in front of the fan, sipping water, & thinking, “Don’t throw up, don’t throw up, don’t throw up…”

Wow.  That Sounds, Um, Fun?  What The Why?

You’d think I’d be immune to working in the stickiest of the Carolina versions of air.  I mean, at least I was on a horse while the sun set instead of on the bow of an aluminum electrofishing boat wearing black rubber gloves at mid-day!

Alas, just as we must condition our horses to work in heat every year, we must prepare our own physiology for the demands of melting from the inside out.

Yes, totally what I look like sweating
Pre-Ride Tips For You
(aka all the things I didn’t do last night, but learned from a very smart pro athlete)

  • Drink a bottle of water beforehand.  
    • Even before you fetch Dobbin from the pasture or, if trailering, before you exit the truck on arrival.  I sweat a LOT.  Like, a greased pig in a sauna on the surface of the sun a lot.  All my water bottles are 1 L (~32 oz.) or larger.  After I made this a hard rule, it was literally night & day after XC – I could breathe!
  • Dress smart.  
    • Light, wicking materials are your very best friend & I’ll happily share my secrets for budget-friendly options from sports bras to shirts & breeches.  If I see a cotton shirt in July, I’ll run screaming.  And I don’t run (technically am not allowed to run, at least I got something good out of that mess).
  • Fuel your muscles.  
    • You’re saddled up & hydrated, but just before you get on, snarf a small protein bar or one of those electrolyte yogurt pack thingies that sort of tastes like you’re swallowing a salty booger (yeah, you’re running to buy those now, aren’t you?).  I choke down the latter & then chase it with 8-12 oz. of water as I’m readying my bridle. 
  • If possible, take swigs during walk breaks.  
  • Closer to reality...
    • Obviously, not an option at a gallop, although wouldn’t it be nice if jump judges could toss you a sip every 1/3 of the course, like bikers & runners do???  I could go for misting jumps, too.  That water jump’s really too shallow to stay cool; even if you can’t resist the swim, well, then it’s your last jump anyway, oops. 
  • On sports drinks:  never drink them straight (I mean, undiluted, I mean...you know what I mean, LOL).  
    • You’ll note that so far, I’ve only mentioned water alone.  Human metabolism flips a switch when exertion begins.  Before the switch, you can’t process any of the electrolytes anyway, you’ll just have more expensive pee, & even lighter versions, such as G2, have too much sugar (not knocking sugar, it’s one of my diet staples), which will just give you a quicker burnout.  After you start working, though, a bottle cut in half with water knocks the concentration down to a useful level & staves off fatigue. 
I don’t love the flavour, but after I felt the dramatic relief, I found one I could live with.  I just stock up when they are on sale at 10 for $10 at the grocery store!

Or that...
In case you forget, I find bribing a friend or sympathetic-looking passers-by to walk your horse as you drag off as many layers as possible while collapsing prone in the nearest patch of shade, trying to bring your pulse rate back below 100, to be a perfectly acceptable backup strategy.

How About That Ride?

Overwhelming desire to retch aside, Encore felt pretty decent.  It’s been a rough while for me, health & energy-wise, so he has been carefully managed using the “Slowest Rehab Ever” approach since he sprained his stifles during his X-Games.  In other words, I’ve been able to do about one short ride a week.  :/

In the spirit of keeping a positive context, though, I can’t afford to travel anyways & I’m a firm believer that 15 minutes of quality work with hills, energy, & correct transitions, is better than 45-60 minutes of mediocre riding when I tire or we both get cranky & sloppy.

We’d be much further along if, you know, someone else paid the mortgage so I could focus on the planned, excruciatingly consistent daily work that blistering would have required.  Or even just the lower-key muscle-building without the chemical intervention.  Oh yeah, & my own body would return to its super-human state circa 2010 or so.

Pls shade.
But I’m mostly ok with where we are for now.  Encore started out with a strong, balanced trot & was able to maintain his shape much more easily through turns & slopes.  I’ve continued to practice my YES I CAN goal & am getting ever closer to unlocking that stubborn left arm.

Encore tired quickly, so our canter work was quite lean-y as he got sore behind.  But that didn’t worry me too much, given noted humidity levels (I actually hosed him before riding as both horses were caked in dirty sweat, even standing in the shady run-in all day) paired with to-date infrequent rides.

Now What?

I’m currently taking some extended leave from work over the next two weeks.  I suppose the best category is “recovery leave,” so I can hopefully step off the vicious cycle of utter exhaustion combined with high stress before it eats up any more of me.  More realistically, I need a sabbatical, but PhD (Practicality Has Disappeared, hee) was not the route for me!!
 
I can has back?
Just being able to move at my own speed for a little is an enormous relief already, so I’m glad I was finally able to beat my guilt into submission & commit to doing it:  I’ve given plenty of sweat & blood for that time & the last break I can remember that actually involved rest was in 2010.  Both orange boys are actually ready to work at present (which I just jinxed, sigh), maybe we can get our routine back.

Speaking of practice, fill me in!  You shared your CAN DO goals, how did you do?

Even if you didn’t catch that post on the first round, I’d love to hear about a detail you’ve been working on!  Leave a comment, better yet, tell us how you’ve practiced; I’m always excited to see everyone’s ideas & have a chance to try new approaches!! 

April 8, 2015

When Bad News Is Good News

Yes, Batman Dr. Bob confirmed that Encore proved his talents yet again by pulling both stifles.  He’d just healed his pulled ass, so naturally he had to think of something new!  :/

What The…What?

I’d noticed a bit ago a new soreness/swelling in the muscle behind his right stifle (of course, he also let Solo bite him there) & had been applying Dr. Bob’s Majykal Butacort Creme (no, seriously, it IS majykal!).  However, since our dear vet was coming to pull Solo’s blood (red blood cell check due) & collect bags of poo for a worm update, I asked him to apply his wizard hands to Encore as well.

Resisting temptation, I won’t rhapsodize on repeat about why I love my Dr. Bob (but I’ll link it!), but after watching Encore take 3 steps & approximately 5 joint pokes, I had my answers.  Not the muscle knot I’d guessed.  A shot of Winstrol to help boost the oncoming soft tissue rehab/strengthening, an Rx of basically what my current work is anyway:  focusing on rebuilding that hind end after our time off.
 
Approximate SE distribution in US soils; horseuniversity.com
In addition, supplement his dinners with a Vit E/selenium compound:  the Southeast is a very selenium-poor region & it is an important part of muscle function.  SE itself is part of the Vit E molecule/complex & horses can store some amount (cows cannot & Dr. Bob reports many problems with cattle toxicity from lack of SE, including his own) in muscle cells, but they must have enough coming in first!

We’ll reassess in 3-4 weeks.  If progress is not “satisfactory,” (don’t ask me for a specification on that, I’m not sure), poor Encore will get internal stifle blisters.  I say “poor” because as Dr. Bob described how it works, my own buggered-up knee began to holler in sympathy pain!

So What’s An Internal Stifle Blister?

Stifle blisters are an old-school treatment that were traditionally externally applied (never did like the look of that), but we science’d & all that, so now we have a better option.  In essence, the stifle joint is injected with an irritating agent, such as a B12 mixture, so it creates scar tissue around the muscle/tendons on the outside of the stifle (same as our patella).

Immediately, I had to know why creating scar tissue was a good thing.  It’s all about tightening up those strained tissues, which have resulted in laxity around the stifle.  Solo had extremely loose, poppy stifles when I bought him due to complete lack of condition, so the concept was a familiar one.  His resolved quickly in regular work, but Encore’s motto is generally “go big or go home.”

Ze Stifle. Thanks to Project Gutenberg.
I do hope we won’t have to go the blister route, although neighbour Vanessa offered heaps of excellent tips, as she’s used it several times with great success.  Still, all digits crossed that he continues his current gradual improvement trend on his own.

This Is Good News?

Indeed – because I finally had the courage to ask the question I’d been afraid to ask.  I’d had a long-nagging background worry about the possibility of neurological issues due to Encore’s “what, I don’t have hind legs!” attitude.  And no one wants that confirmed.

At the same time, he’s done a Training HT with no issues (other than needing more fitness).  But I still needed a proclamation.

He just prefers to be airborne... Pic by High Time Photos.
And The Verdict

Dr. Bob agreed that he saw no neurological indicators whatsoever.  *pause for relief*

Why is the beast so addicted to his vet then?  It is as simple as “it is who he is.”  As a TB, centuries’-worth of moving, running, energy, is in his blood.  As any horse who has energy to burn & is a forward-thinking creature, if you don’t use that energy, he’ll come up with his own methods.  Which in his case, are Pasture X-Games.

Where this backfires:  Encore also has the mindset of human X-Games participants, despite being not nearly as fit due to our horrific winter & my own limitations.  The fact that practicing airs above the ground & racing oneself in one’s paddock when it has rained for a zillion months (approximately) will probably result in multiple wipeouts?  Not a deterrent; just hop back up & try again!  Playing is MOST IMPORTANT THING!  *facepalm*

Solo, on the other hand, has always been very careful about his footing & general balance.  You could ask him to gallop through a mud bog & he would pointedly ignore you & proceed at the pace he felt was safe.  Wipeouts are in his “unacceptable” column.

It's what they do.
You’re Still Happy About This?

Absolutely.  Doing dumb things in the pasture…well, they’re all horses.  One way or another, they just will.  And his professional work ethic under saddle means he is attentive to the job at hand; his X-Games penchant does not extend beyond the pasture fence.  This is definitely a good thing, as if it did, well, that is NOT a ride you’d want under you!  0.0

So it means my horse…is a normal horse.  While it would be nice if he would follow Solo’s more cautious approach, that might just make him perfect & we all know there is no such thing as a perfect horse!!  And I don’t have a saddle that fits “imaginary.” 

January 11, 2015

There Was Riding! Among Other Things...

I can't see you...
Two horses in one day!!

The Browner Orange One

Ok, fine, be pedantic.  I long-lined Encore as he is due for his yearly back injections (we match, only he gets four & I get three, although thankfully, mine are still holding at three years) & he is quite clear in his reminders of this fact.

One of the almost magical parts of truly getting to know a horse over days & years is learning not only every detail of his body, but expression, posture, & which level of The Horse Finger that tail swish indicated.

So now I am edu-ma-cated:  Encore generally walks up to me in his pasture, begs for work, & doesn't bother trying until a jump gets to 3'.  Around mid-January, he instead walks AROUND me (equine efforts at false nonchalance are hilarious), loses impulsion, falling out behind often, & rushes anything higher than 18". 

It's an odd relief, but relief nonetheless, to calmly surmise, "Oh, lubrication time approacheth," as opposed to the horse owner's traditional spirals of mental agony & the worst torture of all:  the unknown.  So he will remain on a relatively light schedule until his "oil change" (I say, as if I would otherwise have him on a full training schedule during 187% work overload insanity).

I would never...
The Super-Orange One

His little big brother appears to feel this gives him freedom to take over anxiety-instigation duty.  Cod forbid one own a horse calmly, I believe that would break some universal law!

Solo has definitely lost condition.  Sadly, his minion has gone & incapacitated herself; along with our string of simply horrid wet cold weeks, I've had few chances to stretch his legs.  He seems to be running on fumes, though, & I confess to being mystified.

He is still shiny with a winter hay belly, a springy trot, his trademark deep meal nicker, & takes a good prance gallop around the field with Encore.  But his face looks tired & although I enjoyed our ride today, he fatigued very quickly, even though he was not out of breath.

I just wish my favourite face could elaborate a bit?
What's Up, Dude?

Perhaps it is simply muscle loss.  When I first began working with Dr. Bob, he had a similar problem & a simple CBC revealed Solo had a low red blood cell count.  With vet approval of ingredients, I put him on SmartVite, which he's had ever since, & his count popped up to normal almost immediately.  It dropped again when he had a heavy parasite load from a previous facility, but I have dewormed with vigilance & now am in charge of my own pasture management. 

I've added more fat to his diet, although he certainly is working hard at maximizing intake of my lovely winter hay supply!  We'll run another basic CBC in a few weeks, as Dr. Bob comes out at the beginning of February for his spring collection of large amounts of invisible TFS cash (Encore will also get a set of check-up lateral radiographs on his front feet to make sure WunderFarrier & I are on the right track).

An odd sight after so long
There ARE Good Things

Recently, Solo did get his front shoes back.  While his Cavallo Sports were wonderful for trails & light pleasure, when it came to schooling & jumping, he just wasn't comfortable.  He felt like there was too much sole concussion.  He certainly felt happier about his feet today & reached out those giant shoulders with a freedom I've missed, so it's not all bad news!

Let's see...what else can we throw imaginary money at add to Dr. Bob's hard-earned retirement fund next month??

Who knew-there's a WikiHow for "how to solve all horse problems!"