Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Dragon Has Risen

If you all have been following our story long, you are quite familiar with the firebreathing dragon that my horse morphs into when the thermometer drops below freezing.

Last winter, it was a training rut we could not climb out of even when the mercury rose. “Irreparable damage” to his gray matter is the wrong term, but there was definitely some temporary loss in  brain function on how to horse regarding my precious angel Bacardi.

TBT Fav of us

Not only did I almost give up on him because of his strange and unexplained behavior, I most likely & miraculously avoided serious injury by the stroke of God’s hands. Seriously. He was dangerous.

While less ferocious than last year, it seems the Dragon has arisen again.

Trying to recover from a bolting fit
Yesterday I rode the beast in 28* weather and he was…special.

Disclaimer being that they haven’t been turned out, besides the indoor in supervised groups, in over a week, because of the insane amount of mud we have right now in the pastures. Since all of our OTTBs are especially brain dead when turned out together, BO made the smart decision to keep them confined until the pastures look a little better. Not sure if they will, ever, this winter, since frozen mud is also dangerous, but I actually appreciate her efforts in preventing broken legs.

I also have not ridden or worked him in over a week. I am the WORST parent. Yes, I feel very guilty.

Quick aside; the reason I had been absent is due to my shoulder injury. First I was trying to diagnose the issue, second, we’ve been trying to relieve the pain. Its been a long (expensive) road trying to figure this out. I now see how/why  vets have such a hard time diagnosing lameness in horses. I’m a person and can say “it hurts here, please fix me” and they still ran multiple tests and I saw multiple specialists and spent multiple dollars… finally, after  X-rays (didn’t show anything), an MRI (inconclusive), cortisone shot (didn’t work, also OUCH), & narcotic drugs (masked the pain), I was still in the same situation. Exasperated, I visited my adoptive mother, Amy and she literally fixed me in one session. She found the muscle that was causing me such trouble in like 15 minutes, did some magic and I felt loads better almost immediately. She thinks it was a small tear, or severe muscle pull, creating extreme tension throughout my rotator cuff and entire shoulder into my neck. After that, I also received dry needling treatment from my PT as well, bruised spectacularly and have felt mildly fantastic since then. I’m still in PT and can barely lift any weights (we’ve been doing a whole 3lbs overhead for now) and feel extremely weak, but its on the mend. Unfortunately will most likely be a lifelong issue, but I’m hopeful. AS of now I can move my arm again, but the muscles are very tender. Storytime, over.

I also justified giving him time off (again) because the last time I rode he was still NQR (remember back when he got his feet trimmed last?) but now in the hips. I contemplated calling a chiro but apparently there are none on call here and I have to (find time to) haul to one. Le sigh.

Hopefully now though, I can fully return us to work together. Again.

Story of my life apparently. Finally move to an indoor and become riddled with health issues! Alas, it is all OK.

Back to yesterday’s ride.

He seemed rather dead in the crossties while I was tacking up. Seemed promising.

Unfortunately, I ALWAYS  catch a lesson as its beginning and have to share the arena. Generally it’s a jump lesson too so theres always jumps to dodge and other horses careening around to avoid. I don’t mind though, just grateful for an indoor and it *helps* Bacardi get desensitized to bustle and hustle.

I knew it was going to be a day when he danced around while I was trying to mount. Not something he usually does.

And from there he took it upon himself to spook at anything and everything. This includes but was not limited to, arena sand, divets in the arena sand, arena sand hitting wall, groundpoles, jumps, other horses moving, me moving any limb, the reins, my helmet cover falling off (ok he gets  a pass on that), riders falling off (happened 3 times), people standing in the doorway, spooky corner at the end of arena, arena door, the wind, me breathing.

This is what I imagine Bacardi would be in human form
His spooks weren’t horrible or on any level comparatively to last years spooks, but still annoying.

Inbetween wild sidestepping and headtossing, he was actually phenomenal. But exceptionally bipolar. We would get maybe one or two good circles before a spook occurred, but then he would get right back to being an angel within 3-5 strides. It was confusing, but I couldn’t really be mad. He was really trying to be good. He was.

Canter transitions resembled that of a bucking bronc star with wings, and nearly unseated me a few times, but I actually laughed out loud at his exuberance. Poor guy was prolly dying to run. His leaps and bucks were happy leaps and bucks and he stopped after a few pretty rowdy transitions.

I tried my best to stay with my plan of relaxation and not jerking back or reacting in any way to the spooks and shenanigans and that seemed to mitigate his responses. Hashtag proud of us.

I was still annoyed with him for not being a perfect gentleman the whole ride, but he eventually settled (probably got tired, fatty) and we ended on a good note.

To add to that, I’ve been really concentrating on perfect square halts EVERYTIME and hes been nailing them. Also, turns on the forehand/backing have been exceptionally stressful for him, which I cant figure out (always have been), but hes been making giant steps in his progress. I think that’s another blogpost entirely. Small victories right?

Overall, even though he was rather naughty, we still had some quality work put in and he tried hard. I cant blame the poor dude for being confined and not exercised either. Hopefully this winter with actual walls to work within, we can make progress instead of sliding backwards!

UPDATE: I rode this evening as well and minus one giant meltdown that included a sideways bolt and bucking fit, he was amazing. We discussed his inability to bend left or move his ribcage over, for more than an hour, but we came to terms. It was a productive and lovely ride as well despite the jump lesson going on around us!

I was good, now give me cookiez
To end with that, I am taking him to a jumper show next Saturday the 12th. I doubt we will be competing, if anything maybe X-rails, but its only 30 min away so I would really like to go just to go. Finger crossed he doesnt lose his mind while there.


  1. lol sounds like *everybody* was having a day if riders came off 3 times in one evening.... the horses were probably all telling secrets and scaring each other about monsters and such lurking in the corners. anyway glad you've at least figured out how to manage whatever's happening in your shoulder!

  2. It's so important to learn your horse and what works for them.

  3. Haha yep story of my rides lately. SAND MONSTERS!!

  4. Lol I'm with Emma. Sounds like they were all feeling their oats. I'm glad you stayed on hehe. I hope the dragon goes away again or is at least a lot more tame than last winter. :)