Friday, May 28, 2010

Never Ever Quit...

Kelly has her times for Tiki's debut at Grandview tomorrow: D 8:25 SJ 10:42 xc 11:40. IF I can wake my ass up in enough time, I will make the 2.5 hour drive there...
Kellz stopped in last night to see the Pickle and was so good to see her, I miss her a lot! She's going to come out on Monday evening and watch us in the ring to make sure he is moving okay and not coming up short. Speaking of the 'Ring'...we rode in it last night!! :-) No circles, walk trot only, just over trot poles and across the diagonal, but it was great to be in there again. He was a star as he usually is and I think he enjoyed actually having to 'think' about what he is doing. He knows he isn't allowed to be a tourist in the ring and he felt very good. We had a couple of giraffe moments, but I chalk that up to him being hesitant to use himself because he doesn't want to hurt. Once I was able to convince him that it wasn't going to hurt, he felt smooth, floaty, and very light in his bridle...which was such such such a wonderful feeling to have again. I miss my horse. Today and Sunday, we will be back on the trails...he'll get tomorrow off.
So I came across a poem as a result of a friend's facebook status which sums up our situation perfectly...please enjoy.

Don't Quit
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow --
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out --
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It many be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the flight when you're hardest hit --
I can think of almost every aspect of my life where this poem is applicable. Sums it up perfectly for me right now. I will not give up and I am definitely NOT going to quit on Chester...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Countdown that SHOULD have been...

Well, this was supposed to be the week of 'firsts'. Chester's first event. Chester's first FULL day spa treatment. Chester's first final preparations. Chester's first experience as Sippin' On Sunshine. Chester's first opportunity to show the non believers exactly how talented he is....The Countdown should have begun yesterday....rather, my countdown now counts the days until the blistering ends and DVM extraordinaire comes back out to reassess...for anyone who is keeping track, we're at T-13 days. Chester and I have been spending all our time on the trails, to the point where I am starting to think that Chester thinks he has become a trail horse. (Isn't that going to be a bad surprise when he figures out he ain't.)
This is the Hill where we have been spending the majority of our time:

We go up, around and down 3 times right now and tonight will be the first time we attempt 4 (depending on the weather, it is super HAAT and humid here today), the hill itself takes about 60 seconds to get all the way is a gradual incline and pretty 'easy' in terms of cardio. What I am hoping to do by the weekend is go up, down and around, all at a trot 2 times...right now, we walk down. Also need to add in some longer straight trot sets, which will start tonight. This horse, is such a tourist. I am finding there is a very fine line with him when it comes to keeping my reins long enough so he is paying attention to me and short enough that he doesn't get pissed and start shaking his head. I use these hacks to really connect with Chester and honestly, to work on my position...heels down, shoulders back, looking UP and WHERE I WANT TO GO...staying balanced in 2 point...I try to do most, if not ALL the trot work in 2 point. Helps TONS with my balance and it keeps me off his back. I find myself holding mane (I'm not embarassed to say it!!) to help balance me a little bit - AND it helps for any of the sudden side steps that he is so fond of doing. My other hand, is usually on his neck, patting and telling him he is a good boy. He likes to snort a lot and I think he is feeling pretty good. I am hoping to get the all clear to go into the ring on the weekend and do some grid work over trot poles...

Last night, we were setting out on our jaunt and came across some of the workers the family farm hires - SIDEBAR - the barn where Chester is living, is part of a farming family. The fields that we hack around are their fields and like every farming family, they hire additional resources as needed during key parts of the year. So - last night as we are coming up the middle of 2 hay fields, there is a truck and about 5 or 6 people working out in one of the 200 yards away. Well, you would think it was the second coming and the people were 5 headed monsters who eat horses. Imagine my surprise when we are happily trotting along, then all of a sudden, Chester sees said monsters, plants his feet, throws his head STRAIGHT up into the air like the giraffe he thinks he is, snorts, jumps 12 feet to one side, spins and tries to hightail it back to the barn. Repeat x3. Now, I have absolutely how I am going to get this chicken shit of a horse around a cross country course. The advise I have gotten includes: big spurs, big crop, ride very forward, and a neck strap. Holy smokes, he is going to get a beating the next time he tries something like that.

His back is a million times better - thanks to the horse strength robaxacet - AND a dressage saddle that actually seems to fit him much better - which happens to be a Stubben, which happens to be pretty comfortable. The much dreaded blistering has finally made the scurf appear, which means the blistering is happening as it should. It took about 4 'blisterings' with the dish soap for it to become visible. So, now it is once every 3 days that the dish soap is to be applied. He friggin HATES it, but as long as he can munch on grass while it is being scrubbed in there, he seems to tolerate it. It is almost as though he knows it will do him some good.

If is it one thing I am not, it is patient. Chester's rehabilitation is a good exercise for me in patience. If it takes him 6 more days, 6 weeks, 6 months or a full year for him to be better, then that is what he gets. I'll listen to him (and my Vet) and what he (they) say, goes.

Saturday - was supposed to be Chester's big debut...but rather then his debut, he will get the day off and I will assume my role as groom for Kelly and her amazing horses. The other 'young gun', Tiki will be making his debut and I KNOW Chester will be cheering him on from his field and wishing he was right there with him!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Just Do It...

I am somewhat inspired today because of an article I read at (the best eventing blog in the Universe) called "Just Do It".
The past couple weeks, have not been easy. At all. And I have constantly been asking myself a lot of hard questions: Is it my fault Chester is hurt? Should I have known his stifles were out? Is he ever going to be able to event? What should I have done differently? The hardest though has been, Why? WHY did this have to happen to Chester, right when he was on top of the World?
What also makes this hard for me, is the people who I would come to expect the most support from, don't really get why I am so upset. I get a lot of "Carrie, he is just a horse" from the majority of the people in my family...well, there is an old expression that goes "People who say it is just a horse, just don't understand". My significant other has unfortunately been on the short end of this stick and he can't understand why I have been upset for the past 3 weeks. So, I have given up trying to talk to him about anything Chester related. It is a total Catch 22 for me: I talk about it with him, he doesn't really seem interested, and throws out 'he's just a horse', so I get annoyed that he reacts that way. I don't talk about it with him, he sees that I am upset and feels like I am taking it out on him....ugh.... how am I supposed to win in this situation?
When stifles are involved, it can be pretty is actually very very scary to me to think that I might not ever be able to event him, or have him be more then just a pleasure horse. THAT upsets me more then anything else...why? Because Chester DESERVES more then any other horse, to be great, to be a Champion...because no one ever thought he could.
The prognosis for Chester's recovery is long as I follow my DVM extraordinaire's rehab plan to a 'T'...which I, of course, plan on doing. If we can hit Canterdown on August 15, I will be on cloud nine. If we can't hit Canterdown August 15, well, there is always 2011. One thing I am NOT is patient. This entire situation, this entire scenario, this entire rehabilitation program, this horse's entire future, is dependent on me being patient. I am learning patience through sheer determination that Chester will get better if he is allowed enough time to properly heal.
In the above mentioned article, the author talks a lot about quitting the bitching and just doing what you need to do to get it done. For example: "I was whining about something the other day to a friend of mine (as in I have been whining about Chester and thinking it is my fault), and he looked at me and said calmly (vet looking at me and saying calmly) 'It would appear as though we have lost the ability to get out there and just do it (what is done is done, get over it, make him better and make it happen)." This comment spoke volumes to me.
What has happened, has happened...and there is nothing I can do about that. What I CAN do, is give Chester every single opportunity to get over it, get better and get back down to business. As the author of the above article said: "Maybe it is time for us in our sport to start accepting responsibility for the outcome and just do it.
Okay Chester - Let's JUST DO IT.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Operation: Pickle Rehabilitation

So - here is the deal with Chester's rehabilitation.

It is a matter of what came first, the chicken or the egg. In this case DVM believes the injury to his hind end and not being ridden regularly caused the tendons to loosen through his stifle joints, thereby causing his knee cap to shift. There are two large ligaments crossing in the centre of his stifle joint. They form an X inside the joint by attaching to the femur and tibia. When he kicks out his hind legs, it is because that weak joint has becoming locked.

~ A weak stifle is basically caused from a general lack of muscle tone to the hind limbs. So the lack of riding (because of the original injury to his butt), caused the muscle tone to basically disappear (weakness), which has lead to his current state of weakened stifles.
~ Why are his hips and back sore...? Because they are over compensating for for his stiles being weak. Everything is connected back there and he is protecting himself from feeling uncomfortable, which is causing him to tighten everything up...amazing how it all works isn't it?

I am to administer the following: External Blistering for 3 weeks. I have shaved a square of hair over the stifles, so the skin is now exposed. The active ingredients in dish soap, yes dish soap, will absorb into the ligament through the skin, 'blistering' it ans causing it to to tighten and stay in place on the joints. Said blistering is NOT very fun. (I have only done one treatment on Sunday, and yesterday, I could barely touch it without him kicking out...poor dude.) It is a scurf and from what DVM has said, is a great tool for healing when used properly. Chester though, doesn't like it, AT ALL....and he is going to try and take my head off every time I touch it.
He has been prescribed the horse version of robaxacet and is getting 22ccs/day for the next 7 days which will help relax the muscles through his back and butt...
THEN DVM will come back, reassess and determine if we need to do an internal blistering. Which she doesn't think we will have to do....fingers crossed. The internal blistering is an iodine and almond oil (I think) solution which would be injected directly into the joint to cause scar tissue to form which will hold everything in place.
She told me to think about it this way: He went from not being in a program, to working 5 or 6 days a week, his body changed and developed as did his muscles and he was growing into himself...(She said he looks amazing, all things considering.)...then all of a sudden, he gets hurt and the level of fitness isn't able to be maintained. That is a HUGE change to his body, almost a shock she said. So, he tenses up to further protect himself, the ligaments loosen and it is a vicious circle with no end.
The most important thing now, is maintaining (well rebuilding) a high level of fitness to compensate for the the joints instability, WHILE THE BLISTERING IS GOING ON. Which, is going to be painful for him, but it must be done...basically it is like a rehabilitation program that an athlete suffering from a knee injury would endure. Once the blistering period is done, the newly strengthened muscles and ligaments SHOULD hold the tendons in place. If not, and DVM is not happy with the result, then we will move to the internal blistering....yeesh.
I should be working up to 45 - 60 minutes of walking/trotting over the next 3 weeks while the blistering is going on. I should be doing hill work, and anything else that encourages the use of his hind end while being ridden: grid work with trot poles, etc. For the next 10 days, I am to ride the trails only. Movement is good, standing still, he gets, we also are keeping him outside 24/7 to see how he does with that...last night was his first night outside, so when I get there this evening, I will speak with Jen (barn manager) to see how that went...I am sure he loved it.
Then, if all goes according to plan, I can start to ask for more collection, do some dressage figures and jumping...BUT - I'm not going to do that until I have have go ahead.
Phew - poor dude - but he is on the mends...

He was fun to ride last night- he feels took me 10 minutes to keep him from jigging and actually walking like a normal horse. The hill will be gone up twice today with the trot for 1/2 of one of the climbs....he does enjoy that part...
Let me tell you - this blistering, is going to be super hard to endure. He absolutely HATES it and there aren't even any 'blisters' yet. I am to 'blister' every other day and then every 3 days once the blisters show up. I am assuming today will be a little easier to 'touch' then yesterday, but I actually have to apply said dish soap I will have to be on my toes to avoid getting a square one to the chops. It is so hard seeing him react like that, BUT, I know we have to get through it.
19 more days to go....

Monday, May 17, 2010


What is amazing to me, is the fact I am getting emails from people I don't even know, who for whatever reason, ended up following this blog.

To ALL of you - THANK YOU SO MUCH and I am completely taken aback by the support from people that I have never met. I did get a GREAT email from Aaron's mom on the weekend:
"I had the time to read the update, and like your dad said, it is a set back that can have other positive results. He certainly knows all the right things to say and he is spot on! So, everyone will have to wait a little longer for the two of you to show them what a fantastic duo you are when you kick their uppity asses" - LOL, she is GREAT!!

I also got an email from my mom, whose tone was a little different, but basically saying the same thing. "Don't beat yourself up, he will be fine, move on from it."

I am just in the midst of typing up his prognosis/treatment and will have that up shortly.

Thanks again everyone - it is truly amazing to know there are people out there who are following Chester and I!!

Chin-up & Kick-on

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Very Bittersweet...

My Father continues to be and always WILL be my pillar of strength not only when it comes to riding, but my life in general:

"Very Bittersweet, but PLEASE don't beat yourself up ---you have YEARS to make this all better, and it's not as if he is lame or you have to get rid of him or anything. This is a TEMPORARY setback --- not a permanent one.

Your personality is always 110%, so now this is a good object lesson for you about temporary setbacks. Your job is to take the setback and use it to your and Chester's advantage, which you can do because you are 200% smart!"


I can't wait to have him there the day I ride out of the box at Chester's first one*...

Not Good News...

There is a time and a place for everything. Chester's time and place is not right now. What I am about to write is going to be extremely difficult and it just rips me to pieces on the inside. Unfortunately, I am sharing bad news, when I should be excited about xc schooling on Saturday, Grandview on May 29th, the rest of the summer and Bromont 2011...
Chester's injury is one that is going to make him stay on the Injured List for the majority, if not all of the summer. We (the Boss, my vet and I) made that decision last night. The Pickle is simply still sore and needs more time to fully heal...annnnnnd there it goes 'poof'...just like that: the hard work, dedication, frustrations, achievements, goals, gone. Instantly.
There is still soreness through his hips. There is still soreness in his back. The most difficult thing for me to comprehend is why. Why did this have to happen? Why is he still hurting? What did I do wrong? Where did I fail him?
I can ride him, there is absolutely zero lameness to him at all...walk, trot or canter...however, when I ask for engagement, for him to really use his butt, he stiffens through his back and gets tense. I feel it instantly. Jumping, isn't even an option. We tried last night and he simply plowed through a tiny cavaletti.
It just isn't fair. This horse has been labeled "the horse who will never jump or event", the horse "who nobody wanted"...and we were so so so ready to tell everyone to shove it. He was so ready to go out there and show all those super expensive 'made' horses that he can kick their asses. He was confident, happy, healthy and FIT. He was loving his work. He was gaining the confidence DAILY which you need to be GOOD. He trusted me, had faith in me as his pilot, even if he wasn't 100% sure about it himself. We were a team and there was nothing that was about to get in our way. And we were so so ready...7 weeks ago. It isn't fair.
Underneath it all, I am mad. Mad that I should have taken him out of where he was sooner and then maybe he wouldn't have gotten hurt. Mad that I didn't speak up more often when I asked for his paddock to be changed. Mad that they just didn't CARE to listen to me.
So - we wait for Chester to be better. I don't know how long that is going to take. You know what I do know though? I know that my horse is special, he was a diamond in the rough. I will not do anything that will make him NOT love his job. I will not go to an event unless he is with me 110%. I want him to be happy, confident and most importantly ENJOY what he is doing. I read something once that in a nutshell said: In this sport, the highs are high and the lows are so very low. I can't agree more with that comment.
I am crushed inside that my horse isn't feeling 100%, that he is the one who deserves to be recognized and take the credit for the amount of distance we have come since October and I can't prove it to anyone. He tries his guts out to make me happy and it isn't fair that I don't get to show that off to anyone.
To try and be positive about it, this setback means we will just have more time to prepare. More time to bond, more time to get every single small detail perfected. More time to get every single point out of our dressage test. More time to trust each other on xc. More time to fine tune SJ so no rail ever falls.
Chester needs time to heal. Physically and Mentally...and you know what, so do I. The past 2 months have been hard for me. I was as high as high could be and then as low as low could be. Overnight. That's hard. VERY hard. Emotionally I have been a wreck. Partly because I blame myself, partly because I know Chester is hurting.
I AM looking forward to the summer. To seeing the kids at the barn all do well and get better each time they ride. I am looking forward to playing the role of Groom for Kelly, who I am so so so excitied for as she takes her AMAZING horses through the levels. I am looking forward to having Joyce in my corner. Always. I am looking forward to everything that lies ahead for Chester...even if that means we are on hold for a year.
And I am going to do everything I can to make sure that he gets whatever it is he needs to ensure that. Whether it be this August or next May, he WILL make his mark and shut up all the people who ever told him that he "couldn't".

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Please Think POSITIVE For Us...

It was 6 weeks ago today, that Chester got hurt.
6 weeks ago when it all came to a crashing halt.
6 weeks ago when I had let Chester down and not been able to protect him.
6 weeks ago that my super sensitive, smart and talented Partner in Crime took a blow, both physically and mentally.

Today is the day NONE of that matters anymore and as someone put it to me: In the grand scheme of things, this is a tiny bump in the road.
Yesterday, there was wind, there was rain, there was a Partnership being reformed.
I get to the barn last night with one goal in mind. Have fun, ride on the buckle and Hack. Eff you weather, Eff you.
Regardless of the windstorm that was going on outside, I was determined to go on a hack, even if it was for only 10 minutes.
After the breakthrough (for lack of better words) on Monday night, I felt renewed and thinking nothing but positive thoughts about Chester and what we are planning to accomplish over the next 6 months. As I was walking up the lane way to the barn, Chester has his head over his door, sees that I am coming and doesn't take his eyes off of me. I am greeted with an outstretched neck and head cocked to the side...reminds me of days of old...cute.
Tack up time. Running my hands all over his neck, back and hips, he doesn't flinch. Not. One. Bit. I massage his hips (like Lori showed me the night before) and put on the saddle and girth...nothing. No flinching, no irritation, nothing.
I get on and off we go...he is walking, and walking ouuuutttt. Fast. Head and neck up, being a tourist and paying attention to everything except where he needs to be looking. We walk for about 20 minutes...should I try it...yep, okay, let's trot...I stay in 2-point, off his back...loose rein...keeps a nice (somewhat quicker then normal but steady) trot. He's still looking around, snorting and having fun. Then...he decides he feels like cantering...and it was great....continue on in 2 point (my freaking abs were on FIRE), him snorting along to himself, clearly having a good time.
It. Was. SUPER.
The boss comes tonight to assess. Supposed to be going xc schooling on Saturday, but only if he is 100%...
The Vet comes on Sunday to make sure he is on the ups and see if there is anything else we need to be doing for him.

I am POSITIVE Chester is better.
I am POSITIVE we WILL be at Killusty on Saturday for xc schooling.
I am POSITIVE we will be at Grandview as scheduled on May 29 for Chester's debut.
I am POSITIVE Chester and I will achieve the goals I have set out for us.
I am POSITIVE Chester trusts me and knows I won't steer him wrong.
I am POSITIVE Chester is and always will be the horse I love the most.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Today's Horoscope

Interesting sometimes:

You have been feeling somewhat disillusioned. Perhaps you lost sight of your goals or misplaced your faith in yourself. You'll feel some relief beginning today. This is an opportunity o end what has been somewhat of an apathetic phase and begin a new one based on work and meditation. As you can imagine, this new phase will be much more fulfilling.

Making Me a Believer...

"Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph;
a beginning, a struggle and a victory." - Ghandi

Last night was one of the hardest I have had in a while, but the most rewarding. Lori is quite talented and somewhat holistic (for lack of better word) in her approach. Now, I am not one for all that hocus pocus holistic/talk to horses mumbo jumbo...but I did gain a new respect for it last night. She was able to pick up instantly (without knowing anything about him) how sensitive he everything in general, including me. (I'll come back to that.)
She started working on him and within 15 minutes, I could see the tension and stress leaving his body. He was leaning into what she was doing, his ears were going floppy and it is going to be sort of hard to explain, but at one point in time, it looked like his butt and back were being filled up with helium and he was getting more round by the second. Don't get me wrong it wasn't easy for the first 5 or 10 minutes - he was ouchie and tense and not comfortable...She pointed out when she started out that there was a 'stress vein' on his face running under his left eye to his mouth...she told me to keep an eye on that while she was working on him. She asked about what we were doing right before he got hurt. I said: We had about 2 months of a rough patch where we were having a hard time figuring each other out, then all of a sudden at the end of February, we just clicked and it all started working. We went to a show the Sunday before he got hurt and he was a star. So, we were on a high, it was the best we had been to date and for the first time, felt like I truly KNEW and believed Chester had the confidence in me as his pilot that I wouldn't steer him wrong. He trusted me completely, even if he wasn't 100% sure about it himself. We were a team, a good one. Then, he got hurt.
Basically, we were at a high and then it all came crashing down.
Lori asks me then: have you forgiven that other horse for hurting Chester? I looked at her and just about had a breakdown...okay, well, I did have a breakdown. I started crying and said I felt like it was my fault he got hurt because I wasn't able to protect him AND I KNEW he was out in a tiny paddock with a horse that was kicking the sh*t out of him everyday AND had asked for him to be moved, and that he wasn't. That was what was making me feel horrible about everything. Like I was the one to blame. I said - I don't think I have. She said, well do it now, horses play out there all the time and things like this are going to happen. Take a deep breath and let it go. So I did.
As with humans, horses can carry a lot of stress/tension in their necks...Lori could hardly work on his neck without him flinging his head around like a moron. She told me to take a deep breath, close my eyes, forgive that other horse for hurting Chester and visualize a positive picture in my head. So I did and as I was doing that, she was continuing to work on Chester's neck. I opened my eyes a minute or two later, and Chester had 'given in' and had his neck and head outstretched and his lips were twitching.
She says to me: He is so in tune to everything you do, feel, sense, that he reacts to it the same way you do. He knows you were upset about something, even if he wasn't sure what it was and he was able to pick up on that. While he might have gotten over what happened to him, he couldn't get over it completely without you getting over it yourself. So, he was still holding on to that because he felt like he still needed to protect himself from whatever was bothering you. This horse follows your every move and completely picks up on your vibes. I knew when you let it go yourself, because instantly, he did too.
I just looked at her like a total moron then looked at my horse....he looked relaxed.
She was able to apply pressure to ALL the points on his body that had been holding on to the stress he had been carrying in him before. He didn't flinch. Not from pressure to his back, to his hips, to anywhere it was applied.
The stress vein was gone. There were no more ouchie points on his body. The amount of pressure to his hips and back we applied is something I haven't been able to do for 6 weeks. We take him into the arena and lunge which he is relaxed through his back and neck, his nose to the ground...he was even snorting on the lunge line...
What did I visualize? Qualifying for the Championships in September.
I have forgiven myself for allowing Chester to get hurt and in turn, I think he has been able to let it go.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Why I Love My Dad So Much...And my Friends

After being really upset for the past couple of days when it comes to my Partner In Crime, I get this email back from my dad after he read my earlier post:

"WELL, you realize what you have to do - and THAT is important. And you realize what you CAN'T do - which is get mad at him. So, you are learning too. He may not understand English, but you can sure bet that he understands your tone of voice. So, you DO know what to do.
Good lesson about jumping - to conclusions."

I love my Dad.

Oh - I should also mention that a girl I know, who is VERY black and White also had the following comments: Duuuude - I just read the most 'down' blog post I have read in my ENTIRE life." Followed up with "You're being hard on yourself. I know they can;t talk and its been six weeks since it happened so for all you knew he was being a dick." And my favourite: "In the grand scheme of things...this will end up being a tiny bump in the road."
Pretty wise for someone who is 22...

No One to Blame But Me...

I am starting to think that I am not a good mom when it comes to the 4 legged being who has trusted me to keep him safe, happy and healthy.
On Saturday, I show up to ride (after a great day on Friday in which Jen took me on a hack around the property and showed us all the fun galloping hills and paths that I can't wait to make use of. Chester was in fine form, neck and head up in the air like a giraffe, snorting at everything and spooking at blades of grass), and as I am tacking up, Chester doesn't really seem too happy - he is fidgety, shifty and tense. I chalk it up to the friggin brutal weather we were having: wind, rain, wind, rain, COLD. ALL the horses were acting like a bunch of donkeys. I get on and needless to say, it took me 5 minutes to get him to go near the far end of the arena, and I couldn't get him to jump a 2 foot vertical without him feeling the need to plow into it. So, rather then say, forget it, I get mad at him...really mad and have a frustrating ride in general, again blaming the weather. His hips were still a little sore, but not to the point where he would flinch away in pain because of it. My vet and coach have both said, working him is good, keep him long and low and give a lot of positive encouragement...well, there was definitely NOT a lot of positive ANYTHING on Saturday. That is for sure.
On Sunday, I show up (after being outside in the rain and wind and wind and rain helping out at a horse show with the kiddies) and start grooming so I can ride...this is AFTER he was a the far end of the paddock, I called him, and he trotted right up to me with his head low and ear pricked...super cute. As I am sweeping the dandy brush across his back, he flinches. I stop immediately. THAT has never happened before. So, I run my fingers along his spine and sure enough, on the back half of his back, he is sore to the point where he flinches away. Well, that stopped me in my tracks from riding. It just so happened that while this was going on, Jen and a trailer load had just gotten back to the barn and Jen goes 'Laurie is a masseuse, you should have her look at him'...Well, isn't it great to know that I have a resident masseuse whose horse is Chester's neighbour.
Laurie takes a look at him and in a nutshell goes "As it is right now, he is still holding on to his injury. He still for whatever reason, feels like he has to protect himself and doesn't want to let it go".
He doesn't want to let it go. Interesting. - I'll come back to that.
She did a quick 10 minutes on him and basically his back is becoming sore now because he is over compensating in his hips because he is still worried he is going to get hurt again. Laurie was able to loosen him up a bit, then we lunged him for 20 minutes...which by the end of it, his nose was to the ground and he was snorting to himself...and the pickle even made its appearance...Laurie does not think he needs any adjusting, simply loosening up and positive reinforcement so he can understand that he is in a GOOD PLACE and he is NOT GOING TO GET HURT AGAIN. She is going to do a full 70 minutes on him tonight at 6:30... :-)
Now, let me be clear here. There is NO LAMENESS at all on this horse, he is just very very ouchie...and very very scared about being hurt again. I spoke at length a couple weeks ago to Lesley (his old mom) and something she said to me really stuck out in my mind, especially after seeing the change in him yesterday from when I ran the brush along his back, to when Laurie worked on him to the end of the lunge. This horse thinks he is more human than horse, is super sensitive and probably doesn't understand WHY he went from being in a full program 5 or 6 days a week, feeling GREAT and enjoying his work to being ridden less times then I have fingers on one hand in almost 6 weeks. (On Wednesday, it will be 6 weeks since his injury happened). So he is probably upset with himself that he is hurting and doesn't understand why. He doesn't understand that when he tries his heart out for me (while he is hurting mind you), I get MAD at him when it is far less then a desirable outcome.
And that is just it, he tries so HARD and I should be much more aware that when it doesn't go as planned (especially in our current situation), that it is because he is hurting and NOT because he is being a donkey.
It breaks my heart to see this horse feeling the way he does. I can't imagine how it would feel to try so hard while hurting and being frustrated, knowing it doesn't feel right. I KNOW he is frustrated and doesn't understand why we aren't doing the 'fun' stuff and why it doesn't feel as good as it did before...yet underneath it all, I can still see the quirky, inquisitive, sensitive and eccentric guy I love to death. He tries so hard and he doesn't understand. It just crushes me and makes me feel horrible.
My job is to continue to give him positive encouragement, make a big deal of everything and try to help him understand that he is in a safe place and he won't get hurt again. He doesn't want to let it go...because he doesn't trust me enough again that I will be able to protect him. He doesn't want to let it go because rather then praise him for trying his ass off for me while he is hurting, I get mad at him. He doesn't want to let it go, because he is a sensitive dude, was really hurt both physically and mentally which had a HUGE affect on him as an athlete. He doesn't want to let it go because he knows I know I let him down. And that absolutely tears me to shreds inside.
I think a lot (not all) of the trust he had in me before is gone and it is going to take some time for him to believe me that I will make him okay. That bond we had that was so strong isn't as strong anymore. Our cohesiveness as a team is dwindling. It's my fault and I have to get it back.
Chester - I wish you could talk to me, just for 5 minutes...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Well - it has been 6 days since our arrival at the new barn....what a difference 6 days makes.
I have a happy horse. One who is back to being bright eyed, inquisitive and a general pain in my ass. He is alert to what is going on around him, loving the attention he is receiving from his many admirers. He is at ease, calm and relaxed. Knock on wood, there is very little soreness left in his hips. More on his left side then his right. He is determined to become a brown horse now that I have taken his blanket off....there was even mud in his forelock yesterday, explain that to me....the Kool Koat I ended up buying for him was a little bit snug around the shoulders and it gave him some rub marks, so said horse has been enjoying turning brown for the past week and really pissing me off in the process. I will attempt to get to the tack shop that sells them (about 40 mins away) on Friday to get one that fits, (more so to make my life a LOT easier).
We jumped yesterday for the first time in a month!! Wait, let me rephrase that...we went over teeeny tiiinnny ittttyyyyy biiitttyyyy jumps that were 18 inches high...but, Chester loved every second of it...canter QUIETLY to the base, teeny hop over, canter QUIETLY away...we jumped 5 times and I called it at that. YAY PICKLE! :-)
May 16th - xc schooling...where I am DETERMINED to make Chester more brave and get over his absolute FEAR of water...and logs and rocks and trees and everything in general
May 29th - the plan is still on fro Grandview...if Chester can be 100% by the closing date, we are THERE.
Day off for the Pickle today, I don't want to push it too much, so I will drag the two legged red head with me this evening out to see the four legged red head...they can visit while I pamper Chester with his daily 10 minute hip, all I have to do is convince the two legged red head to give me daily 10 minute massages.