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We Are Flying Solo

October 23, 2012

I Think It's Over Now

I've been in this blind panic, trying to get Encore going properly for Virginia, my destination event of the year, the one thing I've set my sights on that was to be a balm for my life, a grand adventure of a true 3-day event with a great team of friends.

He never gets sore spots.
I've decided instead to invest in pet rocks.

Encore has had soreness in his left hip ever since he slipped at Five Points in September.  I, like an idiot, took two horse trials to figure out what was even going on.  It's not like him to go into the ring and pull 5 rails in stadium.  He should NOT be getting 44's in dressage.  I blamed my riding, I blamed lack of preparation.  FINALLY, I was able to piece together the evidence, see a timeline and figure out he was just plain sore. 

Dr. Bob came out several times, as mentioned previously.  He put the skeletal pieces back where they belong and gave the muscles and ligaments a little juicy help. 

On our Facebook page, I mentioned we did a trail ride on Saturday -- some walk/trot work on hills.  As soon as he picked up the trot though, I could feel his diagonals were uneven.  The muscles in his hindquarters fatigued quickly.  He was hot and sweaty in less than an hour; not normal for a fit young horse.  There was obviously something else stressing his system.

So I spoke to Dr. Bob yesterday and he instructed me to try everything last night and see what I had.

What I had was a tense, anxious horse, ears pinned back, teeth grinding, tail swishing, who would not step under with his left hind.  He kicked out, he dropped his hind end in downward transitions, and in general, I felt like I was torturing him.  But I had to collect the data.  After the ride, I admit I ended in tears because I knew he was only getting worse in work and I knew that, barring unicorn magic, our journey for the year was over after a frustrating fall half-season and  now, my riding was done for a long time.

I palpated and tested and stretched post-ride.  Everything seemed concentrated around the SI/ligaments/muscles on top of his left hip.  Strains to the SI ligament often happen when a horse slips at a gallop at the moment that leg is loaded:  exactly what he did a month and a half ago.  I will talk to Dr. Bob again  later today and I will wait and see, but odds are I will be calling in a scratch next week and I will just eat $400.

Because there comes a point where it's all about you and stops being about your horse.  I could probably push him through the event, but then it is all about my personal wants and NOT about what is best for him in the long term.  So I choose him.  I choose what I hope will allow him to continue to perform for many years to come. 

It could change, something magical might happen in the next week.  That has not been my experience.  While I am heartbroken, there is also a little bit of relief -- taking away the pressure of getting to the horse trial took away the panic and anxiety of wondering how he will make it.  Now if it works, that's great, but if it doesn't, I'm now mentally prepared to pull his shoes and start over again next summer.

So now it's just me and two half-broken horses, kicking around the broken remnants of our goals.  Maybe we'll share a beer and share a dream of a brighter comeback.  Maybe we'll just lean on each other and watch the days crawl by, waiting, always waiting, for a little luck to glance our way. 


  1. I'm so sorry that both of your boys are broken :(
    But as difficult as it is, taking Encore's comfort and future into full account to make your decision is the best thing for both of you.

    Here's to a quick fall/winter of healing, followed by a kick a$$ spring and summer of training and eventing for you guys!

  2. Thank you much, Promise -- I guess if he has to just stop and rest for a while, well, he could have waited 2 weeks, but it's pretty much fine timing. I'm sure not going to be on a horse for a while!

  3. I just got this book in the mail the other day. I think it could be of some use to you

  4. Pet rocks are a solid investment, you could probably even glue a yarn tail on one if you wanted ;) In all seriousness, this is horses and sometimes it sucks. You are right, it's now all about making Encore feel better and that's it. Our first responsibility is to be a good steward and advocate to our animal's health and well being. You're doing the right thing. Horse ownership is the whole enchilada, the good, the bad, the wins, the losses, in sickness and in health :) You'll be rocking and rolling again in no time!

  5. East Bound -- thanks, haven't seen that one before. What a good idea!

    Nicku -- I like the way you think. I could even give it cardboard horseshoes -- that never need to be reset. It is definitely true that "sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same."

  6. Good on ya for puttIng Encore's needs ahead of your own wants/goals. It sucks big-time and I'm sure it feels totally unfair, but it is the right decision.

    Idefinitely feel ya on that one--despite gallons of super-glue, I still haven't been able to put my boy back together again, and my vet pretty much thinks I have the horse owner's equivalent of munchausen by proxy, lol.

    All you can do is shove a brownie in your mouth to keep from screaming, and spend some quality time with your boys. Time heals all wounds (at least, that is what I am counting on!) and I'm sure you and Encore will be kicking ass and taking names come spring.

  7. Frizz, it will probably more like fall, but I hope so! I also hope that Mr. Salem shapes up -- he's so close!

  8. :( The curse of two horses: they both break at the same time. Of course, you're off to get intentionally broken, so I'm not really sure what that says about you. Three cripples together? Sounds like a happening time.

    In all seriousness, hang in there. Things will get better.

  9. This is sucky. :(

    My friend has 5 horses and at the moment NONE of them are sound to be ridden. Her dressage gelding threw a shoe and she is waiting for the farrier, her cutting mare has a small tear to her annular ligament and is out for 6 weeks, her TB has been retired for a long time (caudal hoof pain) and her last quarter horse mare mid-training for their next rodeo dropped a surprise foal - her 5th horse being said foal!

    So could be worse I guess?

  10. Holy crap, Lisa, that is crazy. I'm not sure I could handle 5 "broken" horses. My head would most likely explode.

    SB, that just made me laugh.

  11. My heart breaks with you. And, my horse has had chronic SI problems and I have always been told to keep her in work. The ligament tightens as the strain heals which can shorten it (temporarily).. hence movement (correct) has always been part of the treatment. She actually got massage twice a month at the time it was acute... just food for thought. I've always been impressed by your horsemanship.

  12. Well, poop. Good for you choosing long-term over short-term. Speedy recovery to Team Flying Solo!

  13. I am sorry to hear this. I understand to some degree, as my horse has allergies and this interferes with our fun. It is really tough to predict when they will flare up.

    I hope the three of you heal up quick. Maybe there are some gentle, slow lateral exercises that you and Encore could do after you have both had some time to mend. I am thinking like haunches-in in walk for a few steps with straight lines between. This helps my horse with flexibility and canter departs.

  14. Thank you all!

    And Suzanne, that is definitely what Dr. Bob has recommended as well -- I have to keep a modicum of topline anyway to keep his back happy, so I am instructed to keep him moving and in light, stretchy work. I have now fallen in love with our hotwalker as even if I am crippled, I can just call up BO and say "Hook him up for an hour!" and voila! It's like magic... Thanks for sharing your experience though, that is good information; I gave him a bit of massage tonight just on a whim (why did I not think of this before) and he definitely liked it!.

  15. *HUG* so sorry to hear about Encore, and then your own surgery not to far away. I am waiting on the Diagnosis of Doom from my own vet for my mare's lameness which the farrier says isn't there. I am not crazy I tell you. It is there. Here's to swift healing all around!

  16. Oh dear.... so sorry about the baby racehorse. *HUGS* to you and the red boys. I was looking forward to visiting with you in Lexington, but there's always next year.

  17. *sigh* I'm really sorry... You know the old saw about having a sailboat, that it's like standing in the shower ripping up $100 bills? Guess having horses is like standing in manure and ripping them up. :-/

    I will sending healing thoughts to both the redheads AND you in the coming months.

  18. *Big Hugs* I've been there but you chose the right thing.

  19. Thank you!!! -- and EAM, sending you best of wishes!!

    Blue, I KNOW, but we will be back!

  20. I know this is a bit late in the game.. but I actually have had some similar problems.. my gelding has been on and off for the past month or so (never dead lame, just not 100%), and after getting his SI injected and a chiro session he feels better than ever! Last night we had our first real jumping session in over a month (4 days after the chiro visit) and he jumped 3ft without issue! I hope you are able to fix your pony and Encore is back to business soon!