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We Are Flying Solo

June 7, 2011

Dr. Bob's Magic Fingers

They always find something.

Going in, I knew Solo was struggling with some jumps and in a test ride last night, refusing to lift his back up and engage. In the past, back soreness has pointed to hind leg joint issues. I was expecting stifles, hocks, and needles to be involved in our visit.

To my vast and utter surprise, Solo flexed 100% clean and sound on both hind legs. I have always maintained that this horse would probably never pass a flex test, although I have never done one on him. Given that I know he has some mild hock arthritis and I know he's lopsided, I figured there'd always be a little something there. So my jaw pretty much dropped when he jogged off perfectly every time behind lifeshighway, who was working Amazing Friend duty, jogging my horse in 90 degree heat since I was lame.

Dr. Bob poked and prodded and then sent Solo and I into the round pen to demonstrate our free lunging skills. Which was fine till he wanted to see the canter. I eventually had to give up and redneck it bareback and barefoot with the halter to get the shiny beast to canter those tiny circles.

Good news: joints are fine. Clean, even, and moving well in all gaits. Dr. Bob was wowed by Solo's muscle condition and suspension when he moved. I basked a little.

Less than good, but not as bad as expected news: the problem appears to be deep muscle pulls in the large muscles of his back and hips. Likely cause, the too-short stadium warmup in VA. Muscle cells damaged in a pull turn into scar tissue, which must gradually be broken down and worked out.  If I want, we can go down to the vet school and play with MRI's, thermography, and all their goodies.  I snorted -- as if I have any money left at this point! -- and said, would it change our course of action?  Response:  probably not.  Ok then.

Rx: Start slow, with lots of stretching, bute, and light, stretchy works under saddle. After every ride, deep massage sore muscles with liniment or witch hazel/vinegar/water combo. Slowly incorporate long, stretchy trot, ground poles, then tiny cross rails and build back up from there.

I can't jump right now anyway till the knee is fixed, so we can take our time. Which is why I took him in when I did anyway -- all competition pressure is removed and all I HAVE to do at this point is keep him in condition.

So with some time and a lot of help from dear friends who I couldn't live without, the prognosis is good for a healed Solo!

June 6, 2011

I'm Going To Buy One Of Those Cool Magneto Helmets

Only if it comes with a cape. I guess if you are not as big a dork as me, you won't get that reference though. But I DO get another trip to the MRI though. Wheee, giant magnet fun. Yup, the knee has earned me another pass on that ridiculously expensive thrill ride. *sigh*

In the mean time, Solo and I will go visit Dr. Bob tomorrow and see if we can winnow out a reason for his reluctance to jump sweet jumps.  The shiny beast is still out on the trail, we have to stay in shape, after all.

I fantasize about what it would be like if life went back to normal. 

June 3, 2011

Yay, I Love Spending Money!

Did you notice the sarcasm font?

Oh, Solo.

See, I get a little crazy when I can't ride. Ok, I get a lot crazy. I get all balled up inside like a coiled up spring in a too-small container, all bursting at the edges with frustration and other pent-up emotions.

I longed Solo last night and got some beautiful work at the trot and canter. He fought me a bit on the left lead canter, but this isn't unusual.

I had to get on him tonight. I HAD to. I'd tried to ride in the dressage saddle on Wednesday, but it hurt too much. So I hopped on bareback this evening. Not too bad. Definitely able to do more than with feet in stirrups, thank goodness. Don't tell my orthopedist. Hey, it's gotta be lower impact than walking!

A few transitions, ok, everything feels pretty good. Let's do a couple little jumps.

The bugger stopped. S.T.O.P.P.E.D. Twice. We rode through it (Damn, you stick good when you're jumping bareback. It's funny how having no options will improve your position in a heartbeat!) but I'm not happy.

This horse is not a stopper. Yeah, he stopped at VA, he was tired, those were looky jumps, ok. But a crossrail? Uh-uh. Something's not right. I can play mental games and say, well, last time he jumped, I fell off and we had to walk out of the ring so maybe it messed with his head a little.

Maybe. But that's an awfully complex argument. And it's a CROSSRAIL. And his left lead canter did feel a little funny and resistant.

So next on the agenda, after checking tomorrow to see if there is ulcer pain (psssh, not like he's had any stress in the past week of doing...nothing) call Dr. Bob on Monday and have him check everything out. Whee. Hey, why the hell not, I'm already paying my own medical bills, why not throw a vet bill in for good measure!!

I love horses. I swear. I do. Really.

Hey, at least Pete and Solo are enjoying themselves.

June 2, 2011

The Solo-Cam Returns: Cross Country In Virginia

Here it is, then, the trip around Virginia's spring Training Level cross country course. In all its glory bumpiness. I sat too much, obviously. And you are free to laugh when my legs get too pooped to function at the end as Solo says, "Ya know, I'm kinda tired and this place is hilly, do I HAVE to jump those dodgy-looking things?" But we made it through the finish flags and hopefully we did not make anyone's eyes bleed. I get all hot and tired again just watching it, it was about 90 degrees...

June 1, 2011

A Sport With Soul

One of the things that struck me the most after all the mishaps we suffered at Virginia last weekend was not the impact of injury nor was it the frustration of messing up.  What shone above everything was the way my fellow eventers rallied around me with words of support, advice, kindness and laughter.  None of them know me that well, perhaps a few casual encounters at events and an email on a listserv or two, but they knew exactly when to step in and offer a hand or a hug or a word when my hands were shaking or my shoulders dropped.

This community is a big part of what makes eventing the incredible world that it is. The capacity for empathy, compassion, and the spirit of helping out put the heart in our sport and turn it from just another horse show to a true endeavor of passion and fellowship.

This force is in full motion this week following the heartrending barn fire at True Prospect Farm that struck Tuesday morning in Boyd Martin's stabling. John and the gang are keeping us all updated over on Eventing Nation. We always know that horses can break our hearts, but there is nothing more chokingly terrifying than the thought of losing a horse in its prime to an accident. Not only did several people lose their beloved partners, but they also lost everything they had to the flames, even as they suffered injuries of their own rescuing the animals they could reach.

It's a nightmare beyond imagining for any of us and I have no words that can express my sorrow to all parties involved. What I can say though, is that, in less time than it took to post the news, the eventing community rose up to help out.

Of course, this is a high profile incident; Boyd is at the top of our sport and is recognized virtually everywhere he goes. But what I have seen evidenced and talked about above is this: it doesn't matter if you are Boyd Martin or if you are Nobody Zero Me. The support of our fellows is offered with ever-surprising generosity to both and it never ceases to touch even this tired, cynical heart.

If you would like to help out the gang at True Prospect, EN John has posted information here. From experience, I can tell you that even just a note of compassion can go a long way. Because I like to think that, if the tables were turned, help would be there for each of us too. Ok, maybe no one would donate book sales to me or you (although I guess you never know), but you can bet eventers you never even met would lend a hand if asked and offer support when it is needed most.  That is what gives this sport its soul and what keeps me coming back even when the going gets tough.

Till next time, stay safe, and take care of each other.