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We Are Flying Solo

July 16, 2011

A Day At The Farm

First, if you didn't already catch it on Eventing Nation, I MUST share the utter brilliance fellow blogger Anastasia posted over at Team Taco!

The Five Stages Of Lameness

I think I am working my way through "depression" and on to "acceptance."  Well, if it's been a good day, LOL -- that means I'm almost to the part where the horse is healed, right???

Because today was a good day.  Well, it didn't start out that way, but it improved!  It was a beautiful summer day, the kind you don't think can happen in the Carolinas, with a perfect breeze and a marked absence of marrow-roasting heat.  Between hoofbeats, I caught the strange, heady scent of ripe, sun-warmed tobacco leaves as we trotted between the carefully planted rows of deep green.  Even the squirrels moved slowly, as if they to were trying to savor this unlikely weather.

Moxie and Danny:  Did you see that?
Solo:  Grazing time's a-wastin'.

Things IN the barn were not quite so peaceful. The yearly crop of barn swallows has nearly molted out and were demanding their insect lunches. As they perched precariously on nest and rafter edges, I warned sternly of the feline danger that lurked below. Kids. They never listen.

Nest mothers take a break for gossip.


We no skeered.  No need parentz.
I dunno, man, it's a long way down.
Yeah.  Like, really far.

If catz, he comez, I PECKZ himz.

July 14, 2011

Lessons From Dr. Bob, Vol. 38

I don't know how many ways it is possible to say "I LOVE DR. BOB."  I mean, my plan is to lure him into a stall and then lock him up so he can never leave.  He can reside there and just impart his seemingly endless stream of knowledge through the bars.  He can have all the fresh carrots from the garden he wants.

That man can tell you more about your horse using his eyes and his hands and a lifetime of horse care than most vets I've seen can with bone scans, MRIs, ultrasounds, nerve blocks, and blah blah blah. AND he stays up to date. I'll be all smart and say, "Hey, I just read about this cool study online..." and he'll come right back with the history leading up to the study, the complications with it, whether or not the results are any good, and situations where it would be applicable. Priceless, he is priceless and if I ever have to move, I'm kidnapping him at hoofpick-point. Too bad other clients, Solo trumps you all!

The POINT of my unadulterated worship is yet another conversation we had today about Solo. I have been dutifully massaging the Orange Butt and a funny thing happened: I would start at the top of his hips near his spine and work down the gluteus muscles (the top pink butt muscles on the right) to where they join the head of the femur. I found knots to work on, but not overwhelming pain. But then I would work back UP the same muscle, bottom up to spine, and Solo's leg would twitch and buckle like crazy. I quickly surmised it caused agonizing pain.

Well, science girl chirped into my head and said, "Wait, you have no control variable!" So I tried it on Solo's pasturemate, Pete. Similar response. Hmmm.

Dr. Bob: "Yep, if you go down the muscle, you are massaging correctly. Going back up, against the 'grain,' you are pinching nerves and pinching muscle fibres against bone, so they don't like it that much and if you really go for it, you can damage nerves."

He then followed up with a scientific discussion of the intersection of acupuncture, physiology, and 3000 years of muscle work.

So, my horse is not in agonizing, leg-buckling pain after all. I was just doing it wrong.

Thank you, Horse Master, good to know!

July 13, 2011

Brain Drool

Broken horses leave far too much time for thinking.

I pace the barn aisle restlessly, wondering what my options are. My crazy addiction to the pursuit of this sport is unrelenting, but like many others at the moment, my wounded partner cannot oblige my goals.

I hold desperately to the hope that he can come back for fall, although I have no guarantees that that will actually happen. If he does come back, then what? Can he actually make it to my goal of a Training 3-Day? I don't know. We will certainly try but it will not be easy for him. I kick myself for not knowing 5 years ago what I know now -- had I started this journey then, oh, how I might have defeated the enemy of time while my horse was a little bit younger.

I have to accept that my horse is probably limiting me. I know that I have the desire and the ability to achieve my goal and then some, but because my horse always comes first, I have to move at his pace. Which right now is practically zero.

In some fantasy world, the solution would be simple -- pick up a CANTER horse (heck, I've already got three picked out that I'd throw in a trailer today) and start bringing it along as The Next Horse. Problem: I could probably buy it, but I sure as heck can't board it as I'm pretty sure BO does not offer "two-for-the-price-of-one" sales. I only have enough quarters to keep Solo in housing and rice bran.

For some, this would probably be a quick solve -- sell Solo, buy prospect. But I can't do it. In so many ways that I cannot elucidate, the Orange Beast is uniquely in-disposable. I still remember the change when Mr. I Don't Really Trust People placed his faith in me at last and that is an agreement I cannot betray. I feel that I owe him a safe future. Not that this couldn't happen with someone else, maybe it could, but until I could guarantee that, I am not releasing him to the winds of fate. I guess that makes me a Rider Committed To Horse instead of a Rider Committed To Sport. Each has its tradeoffs, I suppose.

Which leaves me back at stuck. Anyone want to be an owner, I'll take your horse to 3-Day stardom, LOL?

Solo has taught me an immeasurable volume of lessons which I actually am SO excited to apply to another horse but I do not begrudge him one second of massages or handgrazing and I enjoy spending the time with him as he rests his nose on my knee. I generally don't ride much in July and August anyway -- it's just too damn hot for woman or beast, so in all honesty, we're not missing out on much as long as I can hold SOME condition on him.

Yes, those echoes you hear are just a brain spinning itself dizzy in hypotheticals and dead-ends. Keep a rider out of the saddle too long and she starts to go crazy(er).

July 9, 2011

It's Worrrking, It's Worrrking....

Despite the 17 layers of sweat, Solo and I had a great ride today!  Funny how two months ago, a great ride meant powerful extended gaits and lofty oxers.  Because today it meant even stretching in the trot and 18" crossrails.

He's got some spring and swing back in his trot, once we get warmed up. The jumps are easy and balanced and rhythmic and relaxed. He's even stretching down at the canter, which is slow and metronomical (I just made that a word, ha!).

This means, in short, that I've finally struck a combination of things that are working. Magical tape + Robaxin + deep massage with Surpass + stretching till my eyes roll back in my head = IMPROVEMENT. The massage is slowly breaking down the scar tissue and I can feel the knots in the muscle getting incrementally smaller. The Surpass is taking away some of the pain in partnership with Robaxin, which relaxes clenched muscle fibers. The tape and stretching are helping to increase circulation and rebuild new muscle and heal injured spots.

Ok, that wasn't so short.

But I am thrilled to finally see some progress in this slow slow recovery. Yeah, we should be leaping 3'3" jumps right now -- but instead of being ticked off that that's not happening, I am instead pleased that we are meeting new objectives; we are doing better than we were a week ago!

I try hard to keep my eye fixed on what happens tomorrow and what happens next week. I am single-mindedly focused on those muscle groups: moving them, stretching them, working them through their protests and gradually, oh so gradually, bringing them back up to par. There is nothing more to be gained by wishing we were doing more (ok, I admit, I give in a little sometimes) but everything to be gained by the baby steps we are doing today.

July 4, 2011

It's Feeling HOT HOT HOT!

Brown grass crunches underfoot and I swat only half-effectively at deer flies.  Solo's neck stays permanently wet with a white crust of salt along his mane.  It's summer and in the Carolinas that means you do everything just a little bit slower.

Since we are both sidelined, it also means we take to the trails. I can't do much good in the dressage arena, but that doesn't mean I have to give up on fitness. And just because my knee aches and my back cramps in protest doesn't mean I have to stay on the ground!

So Solo and I redneck it in true style (oh yes, those ARE blue flames on the bareback pad) as we wait for rain (bring back the green!) and healing to find us both. A little time, a lot of stretching and a dose of muscle relaxers and magic tape seem to be moving things along in due course.

What are YOU up to with your ponies as the sun's rays go from "warming" to "bone marrow broiling" level?  Swimming?  Dashing through sprinklers?  Sweating contests?  Competitive fly swatting?  Do tell!