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We Are Flying Solo

September 27, 2011

Please, Just One?

I think Solo's feeling a little bummed out.  You would think he'd appreciate hitting the horse jackpot; his life consists of grazing in his favourite pasture with his buddy, Danny, like they are Siamese twins.  A couple times a week, he is subjected to short, light ride to stretch and move his muscles.  Otherwise, he is stuffed with treats and rubbed with his favourite brushes.

He reckons it sucks.

Well, I don't think he minds the grazing part terribly, but that's not a new thing.  What he minds is the part where he lost his job. 

We trot up the hill to the arena, passing through our jump field.  By the first jump, Solo leans hard towards it, begging pleasepleaseplease can I jump it??!  My heart hurts as I have to say, sorry, buddy, not today.  With a sigh, he continues on past the second jump.  He leans again.  How about this one??!  Again, I have to deny his request.  Each jump merits the same pleading from him and the same sad rebuttal from me.  It kills me. 

Stretchy trot work in the arena garners only resigned acceptance from Solo, so I give him some canter figure eights with flying changes in the corners and a hand gallop down the long side.  He is ok as long as we keep a soft, long contact.  That seems to perk him up a little bit, so I feel slightly better.

So now I must formulate plans including "things that make Solo happy" and I must make sure those things do not include any "things that make Solo more sore."  It's a fine line.  Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and we can do a trail ride later in the week, that always perks up some red ears.

I am waiting and watching, as instructed, but I am not seeing huge improvements.  The vet that did Encore's PPE suggested a bone scan to isolate problem areas, since we cannot see into his back sufficiently with other imaging technologies.  It could very well be telling, but last I checked, bone scan prices hovered around $1200.  He said he could "work out a deal" with me, but unless that included a discount of, say, $1199....  I am researching the details anyway and keeping it in mind.  If it could pinpoint something we have not yet identified, then perhaps that information could lead us to a fix.  That would be worth twice that price.


  1. Poor Solo! Rascal does not handle retirement well(though his stroke, hock, and back demand it), they sound like they pout very similarly. Do you have anyone you could trust that would be willing to trail ride him more often? I know with rain, and now you are hard at work training wonder-pony Encore, finding the time has to be tough! Nice easy trail rides will definitely perk Mr. Shiny up!
    PS are you debuting Encore a the CHP starter trials in October or November? I might volunteer at one/both.

  2. Alas, this caused a tear or two. I can just see and feel Solo pulling towards the jumps. I hate it when we can't explain things to animals... :-(

    I will admit to wondering what you've been doing with Mr. Shiny Pants lately, since the arrival of the Big Red Interloper. I'm glad you are still working him a bit, and yes, I'm sure he would LOVE to go on a trail ride!

    Too many lines for you to walk lately, between the exercise/damage one and the spend$$$$/be sensible one. I'm so sorry that's going on. At least you've got Encore to give you a break!

  3. Solo says thank for your kind words.

    Alana, riding time is actually working out ok. Since Encore needs to gain weight and muscle, he does not need to be ridden every day. I give him days off and those are Solo riding days. Encore will be making his eventing debut at FenRidge on Oct 23rd because that is very close to us!

    RW, it does pull at the heartstrings, and I want so badly to jump him again! It takes all my willpower not to!

  4. It's really hard to retire (or semi-retire) a horse that loves to work, and that you love to work with! You're right, it's a fine line between keeping them happy while making sure they don't do things they will make them sore. I pretend to do "hard" work sessions with my retiree, like laterals at the walk or slow jog. He thinks he's doing real work but I keep sessions short and slow. Previously we would canter over poles on the ground, which was kinda-sorta like jumping but it was a work level he could handle.

    The hardest part for me was always thinking about what we could do or what we used to do, and knowing that if I asked, he'd totally go out and do that for me - and then his poor body would pay for it the next day. It's so, so hard when your dancing partner wants to dance with you but just isn't up for the steps you want to dance... :(

  5. Aw, jen, you made me cry with that last sentence! You are spot on. The problem is that Solo has never liked flat arena work. He likes the jumping and he likes the running, so we are left with a quandary!

  6. Sorry, I didn't mean to make you cry! All I can say is hang in there - Solo will let you know what is comfortable for him, and you'll figure out what he can do that keeps him happy and comfy. It might take a while and you'll make mistakes (I sure did), but you'll get it eventually - together. And you'll always, ALWAYS have that partnership - that never goes away!

  7. Thank you! We will figure this out!

  8. Yeah bone scan = $$$$$$$$. We had a partial body bone scan done on Gogo - maybe something you could look into? Cheaper since we didn't have to do the whole horse - just her back legs and back! The only problem with a bone scan is that it just tells you where there is uptake of the isotope in the bone, not what the problem is or how to fix it. On Gogo's bone scan, she had uptake in her right stifle (she was lamer than her ultrasound findings should have been causing), so we guessed that she had jammed it when she slid and we opted to inject it seeing as the left stifle was quiet. We had to deduce all that from just a little brightness on a bone scan though. It coulda been anything. And if it would have been muscle/tendon/ligament related, tough cookies cause you can't see it!
    Poor Solo!

  9. Yes, Andrea, that's exactly my hesitation! While it would be neat and very interesting, I'm not sure how it would change what we do.

  10. It's hard with an injury to not have an agenda, especially when you're used competing and your horse is used to having (and loving) a job.

    I go to the barn and want with all my heart for Promise to be sound enough to justify walking around for 15 minutes or maybe going up the trail a little. Unfortunately, with a horse that isn't 100%, you really have to listen hard (and be willing to hear, also) to know if they're up for it. And telling them, and yourself, one of the hardest parts.

    It sucks.

  11. The hardest thing about Ozzy's injury hasn't been our resignation from competition, the incompletion of our goals, or the lack of saddle time I've been experiencing lately. The hardest part has been watching him be unhappy as 'just a pasture pet'. Even now that he's going back into light work, he's not satisfied. I think he misses the days of long rides and big adventures. I think he misses having a job. I can't explain to him why we don't go out for hours every day like we used to, and seeing him sulk breaks my heart.