Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Moving on, albeit slowly

Admittedly, I took App's passing a lot harder than I expected. Hell, almost a month later I still get really upset and tear up if I think about it too hard. I was a total zombie for 2 days, and a shell for 2 weeks. I am glad I had Mia, though, because I don't know if I would have went back to horses right way otherwise. We won't even mention the time, 2 weeks later, that I looked to his shed to see where he was before I realized he wasn't there. #Veryverybadday It's been rough, y'all. Like, legit rough, way worse than I expected.
Mia cares not for stupid hooman shenanigans
What else has happened over the past 3 weeks? Mia was lame, now she is sound again. She jumped out of the arena when I was free lunging her, right over the 3'6" half door. I started riding again regularly, something I haven't been doing thanks to the depression issue. The barn had a fun show, so I wanted to make myself go to it. So I dressed up as a black unicorn. And, again, Mia is amazing. She took less than 5 minutes to decide my costume was NBD and didn't care ever again. All it took was about 6 treats. Yep.
First ride with costume, apx 45 seconds after getting on. #NoCares
The fun show was cool and was the first GOOD day I had had since putting App down. Baby steps. I rode Intro C and it was the hardest ride of my entire life! HA! The costume was so extremely hard to ride in, and visibility was basically non-existent, but we were successful and we won not only our costume class, but also high point for the show! The judge ended up being the one who took all of my motivation away at the last show, due to a last minute schedule issue as someone else was supposed to be there. For the costume class, though, she absolutely loved Mia's #NoCares attitude and gave us a 9 for submission. HA!!!!! We ended with a 71.25%! The funny part was the bottom, 6.5 for rider position. LOL! Unicorn LEANS a lot! Geometry, yeah, no joke we needed work on shape of circle, I couldn't see ANYTHING and thought our chances were 50/50 she would just jump out! HAHAHA!

Our second ride was the USEA Training test and it went actually really well! For the very first time, I asked for all of my transitions and didn't blank out during the ride. #WIN That was what I have been hoping to do, fix my brain and I HOPE that I have done that finally. The ride was fairly uneventful, but the judge came down on us super hard again. She didn't like the canter lengthenings, she didn't like the trot work again, said we were just running, Mia's haunches are in, blah blah blah. I don't really care about her opinion though, I didn't ride for her. I rode for ME. I rode to fix my brain and I did. I am really happy about the ride.
This little section makes me laugh so hard! 
My big takeaway, however, is that I absolutely have to focus on Mia's haunches now. We have fixed so much training wise, her haunches are now the next big thing. She will travel haunches in, both directions, while free in a pasture and while free lunging, so I know it isn't a saddle/rider issue. Last week started Operation Haunches, and Mia does not appreciate the new mission lol.

Totally done with the rider's stupid antics
I now have slightly longer spurs (1.5" vs .5") and am riding with a whip, as when I apply my leg I am expecting her to MOVE. I've had 3 training rides and while they are rough rides, we are making progress. Mia is now moving her haunches and I can actually feel her haunches move. The movement is very telling, showing me just how much she has faked it for these 6 years. I can get her to move her haunches in the canter for only a stride or two, but that's fine. We have to build new muscle and balance. The fact we now have actual haunch movement is the win. Onward and upwards, right?

Does not appreciate Operation: Responsible For Our Own Haunches And They Belong Behind Us
I am gone almost every weekend between now and December. I want to try a hunter show on Nov 2, because it is super close to my barn. We didn't get fit enough to do another HT for the year, which really bums me out. There's always next year though, right?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

And then.... time to say goodbye.

Last Friday was the day I had to say goodbye to App. I have been dreading the date, the lead up is NOT something I would recommend or would do again. Next time I will have a vague time frame and when it is time, I will do it then or with a week or so notice. The lead up of 2 months is horrible and 0/10 do not recommend.

App has been dealing with severe shoulder arthritis since May 2016. There is virtually no joint space left and has significant bone remodeling in his left shoulder joint. It has been challenging to deal with that, as his comfort level goes way down in the winter and on wet days, but we have been managing.

Then 2 months ago he started walking oddly. We had the vet out and he was diagnosed with a hairline pelvic fracture. On his good days, he just steps funny with his hind end. On his moderate days, his back feet step into an almost straight line with one another, like he is walking a tightrope.

On his bad days? On his bad days, his back legs cross like a runway model, he doesn't have great balance, and will sway too and fro while walking. He was a weeble though, he hadn't fallen down, which was a risk he was labeled with, Though I was damn impressed that he didn't fall several times. 

The barn manager has been going above and beyond to help make him comfortable. He started "free ranging" last year, she would regularly send me pics/video of his movement so I could help assess him since I wasn't there, and she would let me know if he was having a bad day and needed more drugs. She has never charged me more for the extra care, thought I have very regularly given her $$ directly.

From cleaning up after him when he pooped/peed in the aisle/indoor/whomever's empty stall he walked into, to receiving death glares after dosing him with Tylenol, to putting boots/wraps on to try to prevent the pressure sores on his fetlocks from getting worse, she played a huge part in getting him to this September. I am forever grateful that she did this for him.

While Friday was hard for me, it was perfect for him. He got to free range with Mia in the morning (yes, Mia got to free range with him), he had plenty of hay when I got there at 2p, and it was a beautiful day. He got about 3lbs of apples and a pound of carrots. He was so full of treats, he didn't even care about grass. He begged for more treats even as we walked to the grave and he was happy and alert as the vet gave him the sedative. Joke was on the vet though, App is super hard to sedate LOL. When we let him go, he simply buckled his front legs and laid down. The vet said it was the best lay down she has ever had in her entire practice. I am glad for that, even in leaving us he was graceful and peaceful.

I know for a fact I made the right choice and would absolutely make it again, but I am still super sad. I wish I could have done this when he was 35 instead of 26. I wish I could have moved somewhere warm in 2016 so the winters wouldn't have escalated things. I wish he was still here. But he is at peace, is no longer in pain, and isn't going to to suffer when it gets colder. My biggest fear was him slipping and something worse happening with his pelvis fracture.

But I did everything right. The vet even commented that for as severe as his issues were, he was exceptionally managed. He even didn't look "old". That I was the only person they knew who managed a severe shoulder injury for as long as I did. That I was the only person who tried everything they suggested and there was literally no other options they could offer. That he was not in excessive pain, as he was in excellent weight and was super alert. I did everything I could and gave him a peaceful, happy passing.

I would rather let him go a month too early than a day too late, so I did. So I shall hold him close to my heart forever, until we meet again for one more ride.

Chip - 5/16/93 - 9/27/19

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

First things first

Why did I not post about the show results? Because the judge destroyed 100% of my motivation and I still haven't ridden a real dressage ride since the 15th. Yeah, that bad. Anyway, the story. Our ride was at 4p, it was super weird to actually DO stuff that is not horse-related on a show day. How does that even work?! 

I took the time to braid. I shouldn't have. Mia hates being braided and I went from chill, cool cucumber to a very annoyed and pissed off person in that 30 minutes. She refuses to stand still, she throws her head, she shifts away from the stool, apparently I really need to step up the braiding practice. So much for the zen I had going on, I threw the shipping boots on and threw her in the trailer with threats of being sold to a petting zoo.

I was calm by the time we got to the show. We took a long time to warm up because we had so much time to kill. I used to require 60 mins of warmup on App and haven't ever actually changed that timeframe. I really need to slice it down to about 20 mins, bc Mia ended up tired and I ended up bored by the time our ride time came. 

The show was a fix-a-test and didn't ride anything like I expected. A fix-a-text is supposed to be ride test, talk about it, and then ride again to fix it. Apparently she was running it as ride your test and get a 15 min "lesson" to fix the bad parts of your test. I told her my issues in the test (holy haunches in canter batman), that I wanted to ride the test at least 2x, maybe 3x if there was time, because my brain had broken in this Training level test and I needed experience so I could stop being stupid. 

Now the caveat, as you know, was that I had ridden dressage exactly 5 days in the 4 weeks leading up to this show. 5 days, in a row. It's not like we were actually at the top of our game, we were doing this specifically for experience. I started the test and no real surprise, the wheels started to come off of the bus. Mia was pulling for most of the ride, her haunches didn't stay behind herself, she put trot steps in the freewalk, she broke into the canter at the lengthened trot, my brain wasn't riding every stride. At the 3/4 mark of the test, when we were in our last canter, my brain clicked and said "Hey! It doesn't matter! We will do this again!" That had me relax and while Mia broke into said canter in the lengthened trot, I thought the last bit of test rode the best. 

After our halt/salute, the judge tore us all apart. Her biggest issue is that I am riding exclusively with my hands. Except...I don't! I don't think I do anyway. I told her as much and she said I am absolutely riding with my hands, and riding her backwards with my hands. She said that I am chasing Mia the entire ride, and she looks like she is trying to run away during the test. She said my lengthened trot was....not and that I just chased her across the diagonal instead. And it went downhill from there. She said on 3 occasions I need regular lessons, which I told her I WANTED them but I can't FIND any. 

She then had me canter over and over and over and over until Mia moved her haunches off of my leg. She also had us practice the lengthened trot, which she had me simply post bigger and give Mia more rein. Apparently Mia only lengthened once, despite doing it 5 times. She wouldn't let me ride the test again, as she said Mia was too tired to go again but that I needed to find a trainer to help fix some of my riding habits and doing that will result in a much better dressage score. 

Deflated is putting the emotion I felt mildly. I had been super pumped going into the show. We were going to hit fitness hard, train, and go to the Training HT this upcoming Sunday. Instead? I didn't ride for a full week. And since? I have only done trail riding and very light fitness. I did reach out to take lessons from the lady that the judge recommended (she was riding after me at the show), but apparently there are politics at play (with the barn owner that I don't get along with) and she didn't respond to me for 2 weeks and finally said she'll let me know. I'm so frustrated and disappointed. I know we won't be ready for the next HT on Nov 3, but it is the only thing I can aim for at this point. I did find out the judge is coming to my barn for a clinic in Nov, I have not signed up for it lol.

And then? Well, that's for the next post.