Wednesday, January 11, 2023

2022 - A year in review

I have big plans for 2023, but I also had big plans for 2022, 2021, and 2020 before they all fell apart. I figured I would take a look and see what happened last year. 


In January, SO had applied for a supervisor position in another region and had an interview but we had no idea if he would get it or not. We started doing painting in our house as A. We hadn't really made it a priority in the 6 years we had lived there and B. We would either enjoy it when it was done or it would be closer to sell if the time came. January was Mia's rehab for the soft tissue injury she had in September. We finished 4 weeks of walking, which was 1 week of walking with no contact, 1 week of walking with some contact and working, but no laterals, 1 week of walking with laterals and 1 week of full work at the walk. Then started trotting with the same plan. We also celebrated Mia's recovery from Lyme where her numbers were finally 480, a nice negative for Lyme number.


We were trotting and then started cantering. Neither of Mia's saddles were fitting and Mia wasn't happy with them, lots of bareback riding was happening. The hope was to get her muscling back up and the saddles would fit again as it was less than a year prior that they were fit to her. Mia tweaked something while in the pasture that took multiple chiro visits to help sort out because she was a hot mess. Some barn drama was coming to a head very quickly.


Mia was finally comfortable again and I gave notice to my barn. Things got worse with the barn staff, and I moved out during a snowstorm in the middle of the month. Mia's priority is always my biggest concern. It was the best thing I could have done, I loved the barn we moved to and so did Mia. Mia stayed sound and while I couldn't ride as the new barn didn't have an indoor, Mia was happy again and she was only 5 minutes from my house. I made big plans for the 2022 show season. 10 days after we moved barns, SO got the notice that he received the promotion and we were moving again. He was offered a location in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Michigan, and he chose Michigan. 


Riding was incredibly difficult without an indoor arena, something that I knew would be an issue, but I really underestimated how much I would dislike it. I finished Mia's rehab by riding on a long-ish dirt driveway and she stayed sound and injury free. She also rapidly gained weight and stayed happy.


In May, the relocation ramped up significantly. We had been doing the painting/repair around the house since December but the relocation process really started in May. We went house hunting, got a house under contract, cancelled all of my show plans in PA, felt really sad as the new barn was super welcoming and I think I would have made a ton of friends there, but still found time to ride a couple of time s a week. 


I went out and visited Mia several times, but only rode only a handful times in June. Lots of treats were given though, and Mia stayed sound, fat, and happy. Our PA house went under contract and they found the septic had to be replaced due to be installed incorrectly and our inspector didn't catch it. We closed on our new house and moved our house on June 20th to MI. I hauled a 20ft trailer that also had 4 cats, 2 gerbils, and 1 lizard in the cab of the truck, by myself, for 12 hours and survived. 1 star, do not recommend.


I moved Mia to MI over July 4th weekend. I was super optimistic about the barn I moved to as it was an active eventing barn and I started our come back to fitness. I took my first lesson at the new barn and things didn't click. Mia stayed sound, and that is what mattered. Lots of trail/road rides were done in July, it was nice being back in MI. So much unpacking. Our PA house finally sold with lots of concessions being given. 


I had more lessons, they were group lessons as she doesn't/wouldn't give private ones. I didn't feel like I fit in with the group, as they were starter level riders and were working on basic things like how to canter. She advised all of her lessons have riders of various skill sets, she doesn't group people based on skill set. I asked about her philosophy and agreed to keep trying "her" way. I rode regularly again, Mia and I were getting fit, and we finally started jumping again. I had a saddle fitter out and was able to fix my jump saddle but Mia really disliked the dressage saddle. The advise was to wait for her muscle to come back and it should fit.


Mia came up lame and was NQR. A small abscess burst after 5 days, but Mia stayed sore. We missed our first planned show in MI so I volunteered instead. I had the vet out, she suspected an abscess was still the issue, either a pocket of abscess or the hole was bothering her. I had xrays taken Sept 20 as Mia was still lame and NQR after almost 4 weeks and we saw the abscess. It was deep enough that the vet didn't feel comfortable digging for it. We missed our 2nd planned show. 


Mia's big abscess finally burst on Oct 5, 5 weeks later, and took out a large section of her bar and frog. She was immediately more comfortable. We started riding again in hopes to hit the Oct 29th show. I discussed my concerns with the lesson format with the trainer, took one last lesson, and decided the format of her lessons were not for me. We went to our first show since 2019 and finished on a number! I also placed poorly because I only cared about finishing and didn't notice my dressage test was missing the collective mark until I got home. #Lessonlearned


I was having issues at the other barn with Mia losing weight, having her tail bag and tail ripped off, and having lots and lots of scrapes/bites/missing hair/injuries. The shelter available was not good and the footing in the turnout was really poor. They wouldn't move her to another turnout and they couldn't offer a stall, even though I had asked for the first available and they had brought new horses in. Finally I moved to another barn that could give Mia a stall in bad weather. I immediately got super duper sick with a sinus/lung infection and barely rode the entire month, but Mia gained so much weight that we cut her grain back by half. Mia was happy again.


After I recovered from being sick, SO brought Covid home from a work trip. I was unable to ride again due to being unable to breathe. Thankfully my Covid was a mild case, but it took weeks to get my lung capacity back. The record setting winter storm moved through with -30 to -40F wind chills and I was very happy to have the stall. Mia came through it happy and healthy. I finally started riding again. I tested my dressage saddle again but Mia just won't go forward in it, even when being free lunged. I reached out to the saddle fitter yet again.

It is now 2023. I would love to say I am ready to take on Training level again this year, and I may do that, but after so many failed starts, I am having serious trouble getting going. I need to find an instructor to help me push through the mental block I am having. I have exactly zero shows on my schedule so far, but that will change. I know Novice level will be something we can get to fairly easily, so I will likely start there. Fingers crossed that 2023 is the year of our comeback, so much is different that 2023 can't possibly be a repeat of previous years! Right? Right?!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Getting back to our selves

 After weeks of being sick or "not right", I finally feel recovered from the crud of the past 1.5 months. What started Nov 7th finally lifted on Dec 16th. While I have definitely been much sicker than this, I am not sure if I have been that sick for this length of time before. I have definitely lost a lot of muscle tone and stamina, but I am determined to get it back. Even if it is December and we are facing a significant winter storm on Friday.

I rode last Friday for the first time in over 2 weeks and while I wanted to ride outside to avoid the temptation of working, the ground was way too wet and the only other option would be the paved road with a 55mph speed limit. I chose the indoor arena and, no surprise, I couldn't help myself and did some trot and cantering. Overall? Mia was good. She felt really good, she was super eager to step up and be forward when I asked her to. Me? After 10 minutes of riding I started coughing and had a super hard time stopping. I rode for about 10 more minutes before calling it a day and felt it all day long.

On Sunday I felt a shift and the tickle in my chest disappeared. I was able to do some remodel work on the house without feeling beat up so I rode again, bareback. Mia was still very good, and very happy to get to work. When I started the ride, she was pokey and not forward. When I picked her up, asked her to step under, and bend her rib cage, suddenly I had a horse full of power and suspension, at one point she almost bounced me off of her back in the trot! Note to self - ride in the saddle! I kept the ride to only 30 minutes and while I was wiped, I felt good and Mia felt great. 

We repeated the ride today, except I rode with a saddle to help me contain some of her impulsion. Mia again was slow and bored until I picked up contact and put her together, then she was super happy to get to work. I am working on some fitness and not nit picking her, but she really did an excellent job of stepping up today. We did a lot of shoulder fore, 10m circles in corners, transitions, and laterals. It was cute, at one point she was all "This is hard!" and I was all "I KNOW! But YOU wanted to get working, so here we are!"  Silly mare. She got plenty of carrot and treats for her efforts and all was forgiven.

The storm this weekend is supposed to be a real doozy, this is the exact reason I wanted Mia to have a stall. With wind chills in the -30 range for over 24 hours, plus precipitation at the same time, I want her to be out of the weather. With water that isn't frozen solid and wind that isn't trying to kill you. While she is out almost 24x7, there are times where extreme weather is just too extreme and I would rather not risk her being in it. After almost 2 months, there are some things I miss about my old barn but the new barn is taking really good care of Mia and I am happy here. Fingers crossed that the weekend isn't too brutal on us!

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Yet another reason I am not riding my horse

What a heck of a month and a half. In November I moved Mia to a new farm that was a touch closer to my house but also had a stall for her to be in during inclement weather. While I was okay enough where we were, the shelter wasn't ideal, the footing of the turnout wasn't ideal, the setup wasn't ideal, and her pasture mates kicked her butt a lot. So on Nov 1, Mia got a new zip code. Very quickly she settled right in and has made friends wherever she goes.

I make friends with everyone! Haz you treatz?

I started riding as soon as I moved and we got in some decent trail and working rides. The new barn is located in the middle of flat farm country so there are flat fields all around us, save for a small patch of woods directly behind the pastures. The flat fields allow for some trot/canter/gallop sets and the woods are just enough variation to not get bored (yet). But then I came down with some sort of head cold/sinus infection that tried to turn in to a lung infection that then required two different courses of antibiotics. Not a lot of riding happens when you can't breathe.

Trail ride! 

Right as that cleared up, hubby brought home Covid from his work travels and I have been down for over a week for that. While the symptoms are not severe, my breathing definitely has been challenging  (again) when doing more than mild movement. We spent a week being quarantined and I worked hard to only go to the barn when no one else is there. So far, so good and in the last 1.5 weeks I have only seen other people twice. Once was a lesson happening, so I avoided the entire area, and today a random farrier showed up. Not mine, so it was easy to skedaddle!

Mia is looking good going into winter!

The hope is that by next week I will feel good enough to start riding again. Mia seems super content at this barn and I haven't had any real issues with the barn. And really, the only compliant I have is the arena footing. It is super inconsistent in deepness, some parts being 6+ inches deep of sand and others having less than an inch. It can be really hard to ride in, so I am trying not to be frustrated with it. I'm not yet willing to move again over that, especially when they are treating her well and I really have no other complaints. 

Ready to get back to this though

So I have now checked off  "House Reno", "Moved 1500 miles", "Huge Abscess", "Multiple Minor Injuries", "Lung Infection", and now "Covid" on my 2022 "Why I haven't Ridden My Horse" bingo card. I'm REALLY hoping I can start back up again. The 2023 season is coming and I want to be ready to kick butt!

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The good. The bad. The okay. Part II

After she finally came sound on Oct 5th, we had just barely over 2 weeks to prep for the very last show of the season. My only goal for the show is that we actually made it to the show and completed it, as it has been since Oct 2019 that we have been able to get that accomplishment. Sometimes you need to keep your expectations super low to get a win.

A huge pasture for the winter

I entered us in a local derby in Beginner Novice, not because I thought she needed to drop that far, but because with only 2 weeks to prepare, I didn't know if either of us could physically compete at Novice. Spoiler - we were not fit enough for Novice #GoodChoices Mia's weaknesses were on full display as we prepared, like during the canter, her haunches are either in or her head was drama llama-ing. While spend the time preparing with dressage, most was fitness and my main goal really was to just complete a show.

Mia likes her new digs

We did make it to the show at the end of October and while I am pissed at myself at a few things, I am very happy that we finished. The biggest thing I would have changed was approaching it like I didn't care. Because while my only goal was completing, I should have taken it a bit more seriously. Doing so would have given us a better score and I would have found the egregious error at the show versus at home.

A big and bright stall!

The dressage test rode well but I didn't ride hard enough. I didn't pay close enough of attention to geometry and my circles were too small. I was balancing Mia's haunches being in versus her head being up and being inverted so we lost points there. Mia had some slight trot steps in the free walk and tension as she wanted to GO. I left a lot of points on the table, which is something I had worked hard to fix over the past 2 years but didn't apply those skills during my ride.

This whole section had to be removed bc it was an empty flap from the abscess

The cross country/stadium portion went perfectly. Mia didn't touch any jump, we missed only 1 distance, and she was a machine. She was also a tired machine, she asked twice if we could stop cantering and I had to tell her no. I was so proud of both of us for finishing, and am 100% certain that entering BN was the correct call to make. I feel that going Novice would have pushed both of us further than we were fit for and there was no point in that.
A quiet ride in the woods

Was I disappointed in our placing? Yeah. We ended up 6th of 11 and I expected a better dressage score. However, see above. My goal was to finish and I had placed all of my competitiveness aside to made that goal. When I got home, however, I noticed the judge forgot to fill in a score for the collective marks. Instead of getting maybe 10 of 20 points, I ended up with 0 of 20 points. UGH! Even getting a 5 would have moved us up to 2nd or 3rd place with a low 30's score. #LessonLearned

I was still happy to get some satin!

But then I realized we got ZERO of 20 points and
would have gotten a much better score. UGH!

After the show, I moved to a new barn so Mia would have a stall for the winter. Her new situation is 24x7 turnout unless the weather is bad, then she gets to hang in a big stall. There were enough small things that bugged me about the previous barn that I felt a move was justified. So far things are good at the new barn so fingers crossed that this works long term!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

The good. The bad. The okay.

 Wow has it been a hot minute since I popped in here. I have written, edited, and rewritten this post a few times, depending on my mood at the time. We moved to MI with big dreams of shows and green pastures, hahaha. Yeah, neither of those happened. 

Mia acclimated to the move well!

The move was a lot more intense and time consuming than I thought it would be, but overall things are good. We have spent a significant amount of time catching up on deferred maintenance at our new place, which was not an insignificant amount, and have:

Installed gutters
Cleaned off the roof of tree debris
Fixed a leak on a pole building
Obtained 6 full cord of cut/split wood
Powerwashed the insane amount of patio
Laid 600lbs of paver sand in said patio
Installed 36 bags of blow-in insulation
Rip out everything in the 2 offices and remove dog smelling carpet in prep for vinyl planking
Rip out rotted split rail fencing
Cleaned the chimney and stove pipes, I am surprised the house never caught on fire.

Showing where the 2 abscesses blew out

This is not a full list, but things I can come up with without trying to think about it. After moving to MI, I started riding 4 days a week again to get Mia and myself fit. We got up to 4 mins of canter without dying and started taking some lessons from the barn. We started looking at shows!

RIP tail, that I put so much work into

Things happened. She got hurt. She got hurt again. Then some horse pulled her tailbag off.....with all of her tail hair still inside. Goodbye years of work that went into that tail, it is now gone. 

It's so short now

Then she came up lame on Tuesday August 30th. An abscess popped in her bar on Sept 3. The farrier was out on the 5th and agreed it didn't appear to be draining anymore, even though she was still quite lame. I called the vet out on the 7th and she wouldn't rule out soft tissue, but said it was likely abscess related and to give it time. 

Yep, that is a big ol abscess

After 2 weeks, Mia was significantly better, but still quite lame so I had the vet out again on the 22nd. We took x-rays because the vet suspected navicular (I was adamantly against this diagnosis). The good news is that we found no navicular concerns, but we did find a big ol gassy passage still in the hoof. The thought was either A - there is still an abscess in there or B it was a big ol abscess deep in her foot and the big hole left is still healing. The vet thought it is option B.  It turns out it was option A.

Monday, July 11, 2022

It's done!

It has been a process, but we have finalized our relocation and Mia is finally back in the same county as I am. It only took 5 trips that were 11-12 hours each way when gas is over $5 a gallon with a truck that gets about 9-11 per gallon, but it is finally done. We closed on our house in June and moved our happy selves to MI on Jun 20th. Our stuff arrived on Jun 25 and we got Mia on Jul 2/3. Our PA house should close by the end of the month and then we will be able to relax, it will be officially done and over.

Happy Appy taking a rest

Our new place needs a ton of little updates, lots and lots and lots and lots of wall repair/sanding/painting in every room along with new flooring needed, maintenance, etc, but we are already quite happy here. Until Mia arrived last weekend, I was spending 4+ hours a day unpacking and putting things away, now that is now down to about 2 hours a day which is much more reasonable for riding. We have now unpacked more than 2/3 of the house and are focusing on the garage/workshop area next. So much to unpack!

They didn't specify which pets could go on a walk

As for Mia, she trailered very nicely. We arrived at the barn at 6a to feed her and was hauling out before 7a. We stopped every 2-ish hours for gas/food/bathroom breaks so Mia had a 15-20 minute rest and then at the half way point, we stopped at a rest area and unloaded so she could stretch and relax for an hour. 

I wondered what people would think if I put her waste in the basket.
I did not, I took it with us.

For a horse that hasn't trailered more than 30 minutes in the past 3 years, she was extremely well behaved. Would I trust most horses to unload at a public rest area? No. Do I trust mine? Yes, yes I do. I did keep a chain on her just in case for safety, but she wasn't phased about anything and seemed to greatly enjoy the rest stop.

Hauling with a horse trailer is better than the car trailer,
but still only 11mpg for just under 1200 roundtrip miles.

So much so, that after we loaded back up and stopped after about 2 hours, she was quite grumpy and refused all treats. I'm sorry girl, we weren't done yet. There were several hours to go! At the next, and final stop before the barn, Mia was back to her perky self and had resigned herself to the fact we were still hauling with no end in sight. I gave her carrots at every stop and the single apple (she still refuses to eat them after I stuffed bute in them one time. Years ago.) to help keep her hydrated since she refuses to drink when off property. I even tried one of the hydration packs that you drop in the water. At the 10 hour hauling mark, she took 2 tiny sips of water before being highly offended I would offer such a thing and refused to drink more water or the flavored water. 

My own tack closet!

We made it to our new place without any drama or problems and while it was a long 11+ hour drive, everything went perfectly. Mia unloaded without any issues, she has had no heat, swelling, or lameness. Her body soreness went away after 2 days of stretching and we have ridden all but 2 days since our arrival. There is a lot of fitness that is needed on both of our parts to get back into show shape, but we are on our way and I think we both have the drive and desire. When I rode in the indoor for the first time, jumps were set up and she was a bit excited and tried sneak in a jump despite that fact it was 3' high. We need to work up to that Mia, no blow ligaments allowed!

A relaxing trail ride to welcome us back to MI

Let's keep our fingers crossed that Mia stays sound, happy, and I can keep carving time out to keep training. I would love to show before the end of the year, and I really want to go XC schooling before then too! My last real schooling and show was the fall of 2019, that was so long ago and I am looking for new adventures.

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!