Thursday, May 26, 2022

Relocation progress also means little riding

 What a whirlwind of the past 30 days. What has happened? 

1. Went house hunting
2. Got an offer accepted on a house
3. Drove to MI and back in a single weekend - 20 hours round trip
4. Went on a group trail ride at the new barn and met new friends
5. Became increasing frustrated at the inability to find a barn in MI
6. Found some new barn options and are going to go barn visiting this weekend
7. Prep our PA house in prep for putting it on market ie. so much painting, flooring, etc
8. Continue to work my full time job

Somewhere in there I am supposed to find time to ride Mia, it is hard! I have in fact been able to ride though, and it has been good. We have done a lot of trail riding with hills but we have also been doing some arena work to build up both of our stamina and I think it is paying off. I did find a friend in a newer rider who has confidence issues and she has thoroughly enjoyed my helping her. Within 3 rides, she was confident enough to ride down the driveway by herself and was all smiles when she got back. She told me I should consider teaching lessons lol. Been there, done that! I do enjoy it, but I don't have the insurance anymore and I am only really good with beginners. 

Today when I went to the barn, a small jump grid was set up. Do I want to go over it? You bet your bit I do! I have been riding almost exclusively in a halter and bareback pad this past month because my time is so limited and we aren't DOING much, but I threw a bridle on and decided today was a work day. Mia was quite content to do some dressage and engagement work until we went over the jump, after the jump she decided she wanted to ONLY jump we had to have a discussion over my being a driver vs a passenger.

Jumps make happy mares

Her being "bad", though, is so minor in comparison to other horses so I can't be too upset. She never tried to get me off, bolt, or be super naughty. She just really wanted to go and jump and needed to be reminded to do things like wait for the jump, not veer to a jump, and go the speed/gait asked for. She really is the best mare.

I am hopeful that once I get to Michigan I can get my saddles re-fitted to Mia so we can do even more work, one certainly isn't allowed to show without a saddle. Bareback is really helping my strength though, I impressed myself at how well I was able to manage this ride. Maybe I will be able to get to a show before the end of the year after all!

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Spring is coming, right?

Happy Spring! Just kidding, we got 4.5 inches of snow yesterday.  *sob*

The riding aspect of life has taken a significant downswing since moving to a barn without an indoor arena, which is horribly disappointing but was expected. Riding only a couple of times a week has been the theme which really does not help the "I would love to show this year" vibe. It is either raining, snowing, super high wind, or I am out of town. One day it will be better, one day! 

Girl got SPRINGS on those feet!

Mia's rehab from her suspected DDFT/SDFT injury is basically complete. She hasn't been lame (or lame-ish) since December. I brought her back super slowly at our old barn, but we had several instances where she was kinda lame but also extremely body sore. Since moving to the new barn, she has been 100% sound and hasn't had a single injury. Considering the amount of injuries or issues she was having before, this is a huge relief. I have now been cantering more and it is going quite well. So well in fact that yesterday was the first time I asked for some adjustability in her canter to go around/over some poles on the ground and she stepped right up to the task and gave me no problems. 

She is convinced that she is starving

While I have big dreams about continuing our training and actually making something of the year, the fact of the matter is that the impending move has ground everything to a halt. Free time is eaten up by painting, drywall repair, or packing. We should have more information at the end of this week about the timeline of the move, but I would suspect it will be in the June time frame. While it is disappointing, one thing I am greatly appreciative of is the fact that Mia is currently only 5 mins away. I was able to go to her farrier appointment and be home in less than 2 hours. And that included a full grooming session and chatting with the farrier and barn owner. That is....divine. Other than my farm in MI, I have never had a barn that had a less than 30 minute drive. I REALLY hope that our next house can have a barn this close!

Mia with ALL the gallops

Fingers crossed the snow melts and I can ride again. Mia obviously wants to move more as she has been full of herself. I really enjoyed doing some of the canter gymnastic work and it made me want to more again. I may not have an instructor, or an indoor, or show goals for the year, but I do want to have some fun and that was fun. Now if only the arena will stay dried up enough to ride in....

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Positivity is flowing for change - announcement time!

 Riding at the new barn is slow and sloppy. With no indoor arena and a newer outdoor that hasn't fully "settled", every single step we take is in mud. Yay spring. The only place I have found to do any kind of trotting work is a driveway, and it isn't a long driveway. Oh how I yearn for a indoor, however I am still very happy in my choice of moving barns. 

What are we doing today? - Mia, probably

I have gone to the barn almost every day since I moved Mia, it is super easy since she is now only 5 minutes from my house. Every day she has had water, hay and her stall has been cleaned. It is disappointing that she hasn't made friends, she is always by herself or "close by" the alpha horse. The barn owner even confirmed that last weekend, saying "Yeah, she is always by herself". It would be nice if she would made friends, as I know what it is like to not have friends in the group. Maybe a little more time will help her find a real friend.

Sweaty mare after a long trail ride. More treats?

Last Saturday after I rode, I got a pic from the barn at 730p. I had noticed a bite scrape on the top of her tail dock when I was out that afternoon, it happens when one is out with other horses. It wasn't sore, it wasn't hot, just a 1 inch by 1/2 inch of hair missing. The barn owner saw it and sent me a pic to let me know about it. I am not sure I can convey the happiness I felt at that text, that someone noticed such a minor thing and let me know about it. When Mia was at my old barn, they never seemed to see her injuries and here I am being notified over a quite small section of missing hair at the top of her tail. What a relief it is to feel like someone is looking out for her!

SO MUCH ROOM TO RIDE! This will be amazing when the ground firms up

There are other, small positive changes going on in my life that are really making me feel like maybe life is turning a corner for us. Life for us isn't anywhere near as bad as a lot of people, however lately every time we have tried to do or aim for something good, life has kicked us down. Mia has now been sound since December. Her Lyme came back at super low levels in January. She is now on a Lyme vaccine protocol. She isn't super stiff anymore and can bend. She even loaded right up into the trailer when moving barns, no hesitation at all. Eventually we will be able to ride and become fit again.

Their pastures are to die for...this is a pasture not being used.

But something else has happened. Something big. Something fairly unexpected. We moved to PA from MI for hubby's job. It was a long and difficult process. Hubby has now received a promotion and we will be moving BACK to MI, likely in the May/June/July time frame. Surprise? He was made an offer that he couldn't refuse, and there is some relocation benefits being offered that should make moving SO much easier for us. 

Am I sad that I am already leaving the closest barn I have ever been at? Yes, yes I am.

What does this mean for Mia and I? Likely that our show season is effectively put on hold until fall. I have zero confidence that we will be able to train to compete with the packing/house hunting/house selling that is coming up very quickly. Our plan is to move to an area that I know has an established eventing community and there are a lot of people in the area that I already have relationships with. Fingers crossed that this goes smoothly and quickly, the quicker we move, the quicker I can get back to training and riding!

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Let change wash over you

Sometimes change is really hard, sometimes it is not. Change isn't typically hard for me, I have moved houses/states regularly enough that it is just another Sunday. Change has been needed for a while, Mia has been in various states of broken for almost a year. I have been increasingly unhappy with the barn staff since December. Life has been unfair for a while but with the current state of the world, it is unfair for a lot of people.

A big window in her stall? Yes please!

Mia hasn't been happy for a while. She came off stall rest and has not enjoyed being in the pasture that she was put in. The horses in that pasture kept her kicked off of the round bale for the majority of the day, and no matter when someone saw her, she was almost always off by herself just standing around. She had no friends in the new pasture and she was starting to lose weight. I do think horses can be unhappy despite good care, and I do think Mia was falling in this column. In my last post I had turned in my notice at my barn. I love 95% of the boarders. I do love the barn, I do love the facilities, but we definitely were ready for a change. 

Such an amazing stall

After waiting for Mia's 2nd chiro visit this month, we moved to a facility that is literally 5 miles from my house. With the current state of gas prices, this will be huge. Also huge will be my drive time, as the barn was a 32 mile one way drive. A 45 min drive versus the current barn which is a 5 minute drive. It is a no brainer really. I am SUPER excited to be able to see Mia more, and can even do so during the daytime. It will also be super easy to handle any appointments for her. On top of everything else? She now gets a stall again.

Mia making friends already (Mia on far right)

I strongly prefer pasture board because I like my horses to be out as much as possible. In Michigan they were out 24x7 except for feeding time. When I moved to PA, I needed App to move as much as possible for his arthritis and I think it helped him tremendously. That said, I am really looking forward to having a space I can put Mia if I need to. If I am waiting for an appointment, if I need to do something while I am handling her, I now have a place to stash her. Previously any of these needs required me to keep her in a cross ties, this is a much better option. I have told the barn that Mia can be left out as much as possible. 

Is all of this for ME?! Wait, is that a treat you have there?

And guys. Mia's stall is HUGE. I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up being 16x16. The barn is a former breeding facility and the stalls are just huge! Mia spent her first night in it last night and it was reported she had nary a complaint with her new digs. She didn't call out, paw, become agitated, or even appear stressed. If anything, she seemed to relax. The situation she was in was perhaps more stressful than I thought? When she was turned out today, she marched out with other horses without a single concern. She is a solid mid-pack horse who likes almost everyone and almost everyone likes her. Apparently she walked out like she had always been in this new field and there were no squeals or scuffles. When I visited her about an hour after turnout, she was happily munching on a round bale. Of which there were 3 bales in the field.

Showing the huge pasture, Mia on the far right bale

The biggest downside of this facility is that there is not currently an indoor arena, just an outdoor arena. An indoor is going to be built as soon as a contractor builds it, but they are having massive problems getting a contractor to start. There is an indoor arena 2 miles down the road that I should be able to start using in a couple of weeks. Does that dampen my ride style? Yes. Did I move anyway? Yes. Seeing Mia today on a round bale in the huge pasture made me happy. Fingers crossed this works out as well as I think it will, maybe we will finally be able to make it to a show this year!

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

A step forward, a step back

Things were so good after the last post. We started cantering, Mia was accepting weight onto her haunches and offering some real collection and connection. We were working on building muscles, all was going well. On Feb 15th I ran out to the barn and swapped Mia's blanket for her sheet and she was fine. I then tweaked my back and didn't make it back out to see her until Feb 19th. When I got there, Mia was a hot mess. Extremely reactive, not wanting me to touch her, would not bend her head/neck/body, and especially did not want anything touching her neck. Ugh. 

I tried talking to barn management about what might of happened, it did not go well. I was only told Mia is fine because she throws her head when she gets grain. No one knows anything more. I have been having issues with the manager but was super disappointed that I can't even approach and ask about my sore horse. I gave Mia bute for a week and after no change, I called the chiropractor. Mia was just seen on the 12th and got a really good report, so it is baffling as to what caused such a massive setback. 

We don't know what the root issue is, but we ARE missing a big piece of information

I tried riding Mia, but she was super duper stiff and really didn't want to move forward. She didn't want to move forward on a lunge either. It has been a long 2 weeks of the best girl feeling horrible. Even though I would have no one to split the travel fee with, I had the chiro out at the first available appointment which was yesterday. My thought and plan was that the vet will send her for xrays, stall rest, and put her on muscle relaxers. If the chiro didn't fix her, I would indeed go down that route but at this point I was pretty certain it was chiropractic. 

Rides in a freshly groomed arena are the best rides.

The chiro visit went exceptionally well. No one knows what happened to make Mia SO out of whack, but per the chiropractor, this was the worst Mia has ever been. She was out everywhere. EVERYWHERE. She was quite badly out in her hips/pelvis/lower back. Mia was worked on for almost an hour and was so much better at the end of the session. Personally I am curious if she fell somehow, as I am not sure that mud/ruts/ice would cause this much of an issue but we will never know. I am to give her time off until Thurs or Friday and then start riding again. If Mia is still stiff or the adjustment didn't stay, the chiro will be back out on Tuesday for their regularly scheduled visit (and split travel fee) and I can have her done again. The chiro said we are missing a big piece of information and I agree. Something isn't right for us to constantly be having issues, the key is finding what that information is.

It was such a relief to have Mia walk out of the barn relaxed again. The poor thing has been a tense, uncomfortable mess for 2 weeks and she seemed so much happier yesterday. My fingers are crossed  that things continue in an upward trajectory, because this being constantly kicked down when we are trying to climb back up is becoming exhausting. 2019 - so much death. 2020 - Covid. 2021 - Lyme and soft tissue injury. I really have had great plans and nothing is being accomplished.

Ready to get back to lipstick after a ride.

I am making a change though. With regret, I gave notice to my barn. I do like the barn and the people however the hostility directed at me from management is only part of it. I really want to see if a different environment makes Mia happier and healthier. We have been at this barn for 6 years at the end of this month and Mia has been hurt/sick/down every 4-7 months of the entire 6 year residency. She gets great care, but sometimes horses aren't happy. Maybe a different farm will be just what we need. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

2 saddles and still nothing to ride in

 Mia is taking rehab quite well. Fingers crossed because so far she has stayed sound and is slowly building some fitness back. One of the bigger challenges is that she is outside in a frozen pasture that is full of ruts, making it impossible to do more than a slow walk. As a result, all mobility and fitness are coming from our spins in the indoor arena. Not ideal, but at least she is staying sound. 2-4 short rides per week are helping her take it one step at a time. If the weather would cooperate, maybe we could get up to 4+ rides a week again? Hahahahaha.... JK, I live in the northeast in January. It has been super cold with quite poor weather lately. 

I know you like it mom, but it don't fit

My entire plan of using Jan/Feb as a way to really increase my fitness has been only moderately successful. I have been riding bareback pretty much exclusively since I started riding again. The plan was to start working on 2 point and such while trotting, engaging my core and getting MY fitness back. That hasn't happened as neither of my saddles are fitting her right now. Both saddles were fit/flocked back in Feb/March of last year and fit perfectly before she broke with Lyme in April. Now after spending an entire year out of work, neither fit and both saddles are bridging. 

Last night I tried some slight padding adjustments with the stuff I had at the barn without success. She certainly did not like the padding adjustments and really didn't want to go forward even after taking the extra padding off. However when I took the saddle off and hopped on bareback, she about bounced me off as she happily bounced herself into the trot. *sigh*

I guess I am now going to spend the next 2 weeks doing some real dressage work bareback as we finish the last of her trial period and then we start cantering on the 16th. I am hopeful that after getting back to work for a month, by mid March the saddles should fit again due to her developing some muscles. Right now she has virtually none. The next step will be getting someone out to reflock my saddles again, something that will need to happen anyway but I would rather do it with some muscling vs no muscling. Rehab is not quick process that is for sure! 

Monday, January 24, 2022

Happy 500(ish) posts!

I was browsing through Blogger this am and realized I have posted over 500 times, this post makes 502. Wow! It all started as a journey to document my evolution from OH to MI as I bought my own boarding farm and evolved again into a training chronicle as I moved to PA. I thought it may be fun to make a quick trip back in time and it turns out it was super fun for me. I hope you enjoy it too.

Dec 2010 I made my first post, it was my first time ever blogging and I had no idea if I would stick with it. I did it for myself, and had no followers. This was about a month after I moved the horses (App and TWH) from OH to MI. We had bought the farm in the fall and it had taken over 3 months to get the property ready for the horses. The horses came to the farm at the beginning of November even though the farm still needed a TON of work. We had bought 2 goats along with us from OH, the goats were a very poor choice. App hated them and the goats were constantly getting out of the pasture. We said goodbye to the goats and got Daisy the donkey in Dec 2010. In Feb 2011 I finally learned how to post pictures! 

Daisy was a good donkey who had been a livestock guardian for sheep. She didn't get farrier care and they were getting rid of her because she "didn't walk well". She didn't walk well because of her 6+ inches of slipper feet. Lots of rehab and x-rays later, she became much harder to catch when she was sound and comfortable. In April of 2013, we sold her to an alpaca farm to be a livestock guardian because we were having significant hay issues. Our main hay had alfalfa and she couldn't have alfalfa. Keeping her separate during hay time was becoming a very big (loud) issue and an alpaca farm was thrilled to have her

2011 chronicled a lot of the struggles of getting the farm up and running and we finally opened the doors to boarding in July, we were a legitimate business.. TWH went to his first hunter/jumper show and we hated it. I love my ride times TYVM. App had a disaster of a show but still placed, proving yet again he can be both Captain A-hole and Mr. Awesome.

In 2012 was the year of being broken. I tore my calf muscle. I worked with a horse in training and didn't follow my gut. I predicted the horse would hurt me and he did. I required knee surgery and had to fire a customer over it. It took a good while for us to be friends again. App was in (what ended up being) his very last show and was amazing, scoring a record low for him of 23.5%. I still wish I could have been the one on him for that.

2013 was much better and TWH started to really rock eventing before coming up sore with a hind suspensory that left him on stall rest for 6 months. During that time, App also had a huge abscess that too months to resolve (plus vet visits, drugs, and xrays) and I ended up buying Mia.

In 2014 was full of great things, TWH started to go Novice level eventing and rocked it!  Mia had her very first show and then went to her very first eventing show, TWH and I won reserve champion for year end awards in Novice eventing and I ordered my new truck. I had no idea what was about to happen in just a few weeks. 

In February of 2015 we found out we were relocating to PA. This turned out to be a year long process with a LOT of struggles. I offered TWH to the leasee who had been riding him for 2 years and she agreed to take him. Still to this day I get monthly updates and she gives him way more attention that I could. She is an awesome owner for him. Mia won her first show. We bought our house in PA in August, but I didn't move for another 7 months as I ended up having to completely remodel the MI farm house to sell it. Mia won again and was starting to show that the training was working.

2016 was the big move to PA. We finally got our house finished, listed, and sold. We moved the horses and the farm in March. Within 45 days, App got a lot worse and was permanently retired. Mia won her first show in PA and improved her dressage scores in others.

2017 had Mia's first Novice show and did well. She then proceeded to cut her leg which took her out for the summer. We did go to a small CT show our barn held and my blogging really started to drop off.

2018 had App staying mostly comfortable and Mia continued on with showing and placing. I celebrated App's birthday with a recap post and it is still one of my favorite things. Mia won more shows and we competed in a Prix Caprilli test which was super cool.

2019 was bad in many ways. App took a big turn for the worst and couldn't stay comfortable. I lost my dog, my cat, my horse, and my bio father. A dressage judge destroyed my confidence and desire to ride. At least the year started off well with Mia's Training level debut. I also rode as a unicorn on a unicorn. I let App go after 25 years, one of the hardest things I had to do but I am still 100% happy that I did it. It took me a good while to get back to "normal" and I found an instructor, A, that made a world of difference and brought back my desire to ride.

2020 was going to be OUR YEAR. Armed with lessons, Mia and I were ready to kick butt. Then Covid happened. My blogging took a nose dive. Mia came up lame. And got hurt. But we still took lessons as things relaxed and my relationship with Mia got much better. I bought a Pivo in September to document our lesson journey and Mia immediately came up lame again. After a few months and 2 vet visits, Mia's hoof angle was way out of alignment. It took a couple of months for that to fully resolve. Not a single show was attended in 2020 and the Pivo did not get the use I had planned.

Armed with the lessons from 2020, Mia and I did our homework hard over the winter to really hit 2021 with everything we had. I bought a new (to me) dressage saddle, new stirrups to help my bad knees, things were looking very good even though there were some real oddities. I renewed ALL of our memberships ($$$) and bought an entry to a recognized show during a charity auction so I couldn't back out. April came and the wheels fell off of the bus 10 days before our first show. Mia tested positive for Lyme and her numbers were pretty high. Doxy made her very inconsistent in her comfort so from May - Aug we didn't work and instead just walked. My trainer retired before I was able to take another lesson. Mia was cleared of Lyme at the end of August and we hit training hard. 8 solid days of work to enter a Beginner Novice show, I was so confident going into the show. Spoiler - she was lame again. 4 weeks of stall rest for a possible soft tissue injury in her hoof made a world of difference. Mia came off of stall rest on Dec 15th and has stayed sound (so far). We have been trotting for a week and I am hopeful that things continue on a positive path.

It's been a cool journey looking back over the years and I hope you enjoyed the trip. I am going keep blogging, for now anyway. This look back at my 500 posts really helped reinforce the joy of seeing my struggles and successes chronicled.