Friday, April 30, 2021

Jumping stuff! Then the wheels fell off the bus

 I have been doing some jump schools with Mia in prep for our show. The first time riding outside, I rode in the pelham so that I would have emergency brakes if needed. Mia has a tendency to....shall we say decline to yield in requests to slow or collect at times. Almost always at the start of a ride, and they aren't bad in comparison to other horses. She isn't bolting, she isn't taking off, she just declines to believe I am the driver for a few minutes at times. Since she hates any curb pressure with a heated, fiery passion, the pelham works great to fix that!

She was looking good

Our first ride was over stadium jumps with some of the small xc logs/jumps thrown in at the end. Overall? Mia was amazing. She was beyond happy to have real jumps to go over again after a winter of dressage! I was able to meet all of our distances but one, AND Mia is showing off our new ability to change leads over fences (!!!) that we developed apparently by magic. It was something we started doing in 2020 and it just happens. I never actually taught it. Ha!

The first ride required me to use the emergency brake three times. The last was the most amusing, as we were 2 strides from the ditch jump and I felt Mia's change. Because yes, I can feel when she decides she is going to not listen. We jumped the ditch and landed in a flat gallop. Except going straight means going down a semi-steep hill. Going right means going through thick woods/brush, and going left is the only option. I pulled her up with the pelham while circling left and it still took 6 strides, I was seriously wondering if she was going to jump the fencing into the outdoor arena! We came within 2 strides of the that fencing, that is about 3'6" high and not an actual jump. That's not for jumping Mia!

Happy mare

The second jump ride was much better. We did the same routine but with the stadium fences up to 2'9". Mia was, again, great and I only needed the emergency brake two times! The third ride was even better,  I only needed the emergency brake once! That was Apr 11th. We were 2 weeks from our show and I was feeling really good. The saddle swap and jump school had settled all of my nerves, I was feeling great about our chances at the show. I was feeling so good, I even entered the show on the the 12th! I always, ALWAYS wait until the closing date to enter because of the randomness of Mia but I was committing, we were doing it!

On Tues the 13th, she had her second chiro and acupuncture treatment. The first, in January, had made a HUGE improvement in her movement, I was hoping to replicate that. On the 14th she had her monthly professional massage. On the 15th I came out for our lesson and things were all kinds of wrong. Mia ran from the end of the pasture (ran past me of course) and went up to the gate after I called her. When I tried to get her, she played a game of keep away so hard, I legit thought I wouldn't catch her. Assuming she was still high from her run, we went in the barn and got ready for our lesson. 

New saddle before being fitted

After a quick brushing, I put the saddle and pad on. I went to grab the girth and Mia set back in the cross ties, broke loose, and ran out of the barn, dumping my saddle at the doors of the barn. I ran out to try to catch her and she wasn't having it. A came out to help, abandoning her lesson student, and we both had a hard time catching her. A finally got close enough to her left side to swing a rope over her, and Mia still tried to jet off. The hell?!

The loss of topline in 3 months. Left in Jan, right is Apr

After some examination, it appears Mia is extremely reactive on her right side. From her shoulder clear up to her poll. We gave her bute for a week with no change. I have tried massaging her right side, and while she seems to relax during it, afterwards she gets much worse and impossible to catch. And thus, this is the story of how I have lost 2 weeks of riding and missed my first show. The vet comes out today (I called last Fri, this is the soonest she could come out) to see what she thinks. I talked to the chiro and she is coming back out on the 7th, but doesn't think Mia's issues are related to the adjustment. The only thing that has really changed is the farrier, as mine stopped traveling so far so I had found a new one. After not being thrilled with the trims, and A thinks this may have started with the angle changes that happened too fast, I switched again this week. Fingers crossed we get some answers and she starts feeling better!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Lesson 29 - doing the things

After the failure of the 18.5", I was optimistic for the 18". When I had the Trilogy rep out, I was borderline on needing an 18 or 18.5 and she said I really could swing either way. The 18" came and it is in much nicer condition than I expected! It was a demo saddle that had been ridden in lightly before being sat for years before going to a consignment store, where it had also sat for about 2 years. I felt more comfortable in it, the difference in the 17.5 and 18 certainly feels more than a half inch! After a couple of quick rides, I decided to keep it and immediately scheduled the Trilogy rep to come back for a fitting. 

Lesson 29 had me coming into it with the wheels falling off of the bus. I had lost a week of time because of a malfunction of the tractor that filled the entire arena with exhaust. Mia wasn't acting right, we hadn't jumped as much as I felt we needed, and A got to see the rarely seen side of me with anxiety lol. We talked through a lot in the lesson, and while I felt better, I wasn't completely solid. I hadn't even jumped 3' yet and we were 2 weeks from the show. Would I blow her tendons by pushing too fast? Things had also went from "easy" to "hard" again on Mia. She had started fighting again, and I didn't always feel like I knew what I was doing again.

We worked hard on the test, doing every part of the test 2 to 3 times to really focus on the technical aspects of the test to maximize points. If Michael Yung can win on his dressage score on a not-flashy mare by being technically accurate, so can I dammit! We put the test together at the end and A was pretty happy. There are a few things I am missing, but she would have given us an 8 on several aspects of the ride. Score! I left the ride feeling really good.

One of the things I kept thinking was that Mia didn't like the 18" saddle. I couldn't pinpoint why, other than she was fighting me, but I needed to find out to fix some of the anxiety. The next Sunday I did a blind ride test for A. I rode in one saddle, then the other to see if she could see a difference. I felt a difference immediately, Mia was uncomfortable in the 18". When I swapped the 18" for the 17.5", Mia stopped fighting with the very first step. I set the 18" aside and decided we are staying in the 17.5" until our show, I don't want to keep changing things right before my show on Apr 25th.