Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Proud...Huh? What Did You Call It?!

Thanksgiving might be my favourite holiday...probably because it is fall and fall is my favourite time of year. It was gorgeous out this past Thanksgiving weekend and on Monday, we planned an on site xc schooling day. The weather was gorgeous and I couldn't think of a better way to spend the afternoon. Aside from the fact that Aaron and I were out at his brother's place until 3:30 the night before and I was up at 9:30. That sucked.

So, there were 5 of us in total. On the Friday afternoon - I had taken the day off to make it a 4 day weekend - that is usually what I do because the thought of being out of the office for more than a day or two at a time freaks me out - Barn Owner and I had moved all the xc jumps into one of the newly cut hay field. The plan was to take Colby over everything, practice riding to the jumps with a little bit of pace and basically build some confidence and more importantly, have a good time.

SIDEBAR - I have been dealing with some disgusting Proud Flesh on her inner hind left.

We were having a grand old time out in the field. The little filly was absolutely having the time of her life....we jumped some barrels...and even a scary yellow tarp. She didn't bat an eyelash. Something interesting happened though the second time we jumped that tarp. She - knocked the whole thing over. And broke the frame. On the approach, she felt great. I was sitting in the saddle, driving her forward - SHE IS LAZY!!! - and I saw the distance perfectly. Up, over and she didn't pick up her feet enough....when she landed, it wasn't even off balance and I pulled her up immediately. She stopped easily and tossed her head a couple times as if to say 'what's the problem here?'

Barn Owner and the resident Coach were both watching right beside the scary tarp jump.

"What happened?" I asked "I really didn't think we could have been set up for that any better."

"You didn't do anything wrong, she just didn't pick her feet up enough" Said Resident coach 'It was a total green thing...I wouldn't worry about it.. Come again."

So, we come again, I really sit and a stride or two out, give her a little reminder smack on the butt with my stick so she remembers to pick her feet up. We met it perfectly again and she soared over it. I called it a day after that. She was a champ.

Yesterday morning, I get a txt from Barn Owner: "I gave Colby a shot of penicillin this morning, Her leg looks a little swollen compared to yesterday. Don't panic. She isn't limping or anything. And the vet is coming Thursday remember" Don't panic??!! Yeah right.

The whole proud flesh thing has really been irking me. I have been keeping it as clean as I can and keeping it loosely wrapped with vet wrap to try and keep the dirt out of it...she has NOT, I repeat NOT taken a lame step since I noticed it, and there has been and I repeat, no swelling or heat. So, the decision was made to keep riding her. I guess doing some xc schooling - although at a very low intensity - might have irritated it a bit. When we stuck her on the lunge line last night, she was still as sound as can be. Thankfully....

So, we are left with the vet coming tomorrow - and it is NOT MY DVME - as she is on mat leave...this has turned into me having to take the entire day off of work since he is showing up 'between 9 - 11' and he has 5 other horses to do various other things to before getting to Colby. Awesome. What is this? A cable company?? Anyways, so because there is no set time on when he is showing up, it looks as though I am going to have to work from home...which is fine, I just hate doing it when potentially I could be in the office for 1/2 a day in the morning...

Let's see what happens tomorrow.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

All Aboard...!!!

Standing there on the mounting block, I started to get anxious…really anxious. What if this was a mistake? I was planning on waiting until January to get back on him…make sure he had fully healed, not to push it. At this point, in the back of my mind, I heard my DVME telling me “He can do with the pushing. He will tell you when he is ready…or if he is not.”

When I saw him galloping around with his tail flung up in the air like some Arab, I knew he was feeling better and that was the best feeling in the World. As I stood there trying to keep my emotions in check all I could think about was OMG – I hope this isn’t too soon. I took a deep breath and felt myself putting my leg over the saddle and then all of a sudden…there I was… sitting on top of the horse who had broken my heart so many times over the past 9 months.

It took me a minute to get myself together…then Chester snorted that “I’m really relaxed and feel good” snort after I got up there and that didn’t help me to get myself together in any way shape or form. I have just sat here for 3 or 4 minutes thinking about how I was feeling when I sat up there for the first time in 7 months and trying to come up with a way to put it into words that would do it justice.

I can’t.

I have never – ever – felt the range of emotion going through me then I did in the minutes standing on the mounting block – fear, anxiety, hope – to swinging my leg over the saddle and sitting on his back again – exhilaration, fear (again), hope (again), pure happiness – to feeling what he felt like when he took his first couple steps – hope, determination, perseverance.

This horse – for some God forsaken reason – means more to me then almost anything else in my measly existence and getting up on his back again was the best 15 minutes of my life.

He looks pretty proud of himself doesn't he?...and I am a total embarrassment to him...aren't I?  It's okay though, I think he got over it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Change In Plans...

On Saturday afternoon, I was helping Jen set up for one of the schooling shows in her series, that was taking place the following day.  I was actually really excited about it because Jen - who has a super tough time delegating anything -had asked me if I wanted to design the 7 jump courses - ranging from x-rails to Open Jumper - she needed for the show. Heck Yes!

So, we were setting up the three jumper courses and making sure they were rideable.  They were. YaY Me!  At one point in time as I was walking out to get Colby, I witnessed Chester doing laps of his field, at a gallop, trot to a stop and then do it all over again.  When he came out of his stall after eating dinner, he didn't fall on his face.  He was absolutely loving life at the moment. Brought a huge smile to my face.  He is definitely feeling better.  Warmed my heart.

Yesterday, when I got to the barn, Jen suggested to me "Why don't you get on Chester?" after noticing that the Duchess has some proud skin on her lower inner hind left under her ankle...which decided to start bleeding the other day...I figured I would give it a couple be on the safe side.
I looked at Jen: Pardon?
Jen: Why don't you get on Chester?  See how he feels.
Me: I don't know. You think it has been long enough? (In my head going, I was going to give him until the end of the year.)
Jen: He is moving like a normal horse and he clearly feels good enough to gallop around his field for 10 minutes.  Why don't you get on him and see what he does?
Me: -as I feel the colour leave my face - Sure.  Might as well right.
Jen: Good - just remember he might not feel how you remember him.
Me: Oh God.

I get Chester from his field and told him what was about to happen.  I swear it is weird, but I always think they know exactly when you are telling them something important.  Anyway, when I put the saddle on his back, he didn't flinch...and had nothing to say about the fact there was a girth being done up.  Same thing with his bridle, it was like it had been 7 hours and not 7 months since he had been tacked up.

7 months.

As I lead him into the arena, my heart in my throat, I gave him a pat and said 'now or never'. I walked him around the indoor once, stood on top of the mounting block while Jen held him, looked at her and started to cry. OMG - what if he felt that same way he did in February when we realized something was wrong. Really wrong.  I bit my lip, took a deep breath, put my foot in the stirrup and swung my leg over Chester's back and then this happened....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Duchess...

You know the feeling you get when you are riding your horse and you are so comfortable with them, you trust them, they trust you and 90% of the time you have a great ride? You know that when you ask them to do something, they are going to try their guts out for you. They might not fully understand it the first time you ask, but then after a couple more tries, it is like they have been doing it their entire lives.

You would think that that sort of feeling comes around after years of partnership between a horse and rider. After the 'been there, done that' swagger that comes with years and years of been there, done that, seen it all. Complete trust in your partnership and each other's abilities. You would also think, that this is a result of a partnership in which there is a skilled rider and a wise horse who is at least 10.

Imagine feeling that way when you ride a 3.5 year old TB Filly who has been under saddle (and I mean re-started) for 8 months. For which 2 of those months, she has been under your 'guidance'...and I use the term guidance very very loosely as I am sure the 'guidance' I provide is more like 'uhhh, I think this what we should be doing'. I get that feeling when I ride Colby. As though there is nothing I couldn't ask of her that she wouldn't give it - and me - her all. I forget sometimes - well, a LOT of the time, that she is in fact only 3.5 and we are experiencing a lot of her firsts together.

She has earned the nickname - The Duchess...simply because - well, she is.  She is very pretty, very high maintenance, very demanding and has a royal presence about her...all in a 16'1h compact package...but she wears a 78 blanket.

As an example of her personality, 2 weeks after she came home to Maplewood, we took her to John's for some introductions to off property schooling. The goal, was to begin to desensitize her to everything...she had only been jumping for about a month at this point...and build her confidence. So, we had her jump over some teeny jumps...but, the jumps were SCARY! Plastic swimming pools, big blue barrels, overturned benches, fans, scary standards etc. Remember how I said the goal was to give her confidence...well, confidence is something she is NOT lacking. She did everything. Perfectly. Well, okay, as perfect as a 3.5 year old filly can be. There were definitely some enthusiastic jumping going on. And let's just say that since that day, I jump school with a neck strap. If WFP and Sinead Halpin ride with one, then I don't see anything wrong with it. Nothing phased her, she could have cared less about anything going on around her or what she was jumping over. She was a complete star.

Then, we took her down to the water. Keep in mind - she is a baby and she had never seen water before like what we were about to show her. There was about 3 minutes of prancing, refusing to move forward, then thinking about it, then chickening out, then putting a toe in, then deciding she didn't think she could do it...then this happened:
The Duchess getting her feet wet for this first time.
That was the first time Colby went into the water. Very enthusiastic no? John was yelling at me the entire time, 'be ready for her, she's going to jump! Stick with her!!' And jump she did. By the end of the first visit to John's she was comfortable cantering down, into and through the water. Ears forward, loving every second of it. Incredible.

We have gone to John's 3 times since then. The last was a couple weekends ago. It was her first introduction to XC. Solid logs, drops, jumping into dirt from grass etc etc. jumping over something and landing on a downward slope etc. It got to the point where John yelled at me that "You're too casual, remember to ride her Carrie!!'. That sentence really stuck with me. A Lot. As I mentioned, I forget sometimes that she IS so young, simply because she just takes everything in stride. I have to remember to keep my leg on, keep her in front of my leg (she can unbelievably be a little lazy and nonchalant about work sometimes) and ride her to the jumps.

On the way to one of John's water complex's, there is a row of logs spaced out about 20 or 25 good forward xc strides apart. He looks at me and goes 'how do you feel about jumping that one?" That 'one' was a solid log, about 2'9 and would have been the most imposing, solid, biggest jump I would have asked her to jump. I looked at it, looked at John and said 'If you think we can do it, then we will do it." John told me then 'It has nothing to do with me thinking you can or can not do it. I am asking you because I know you can do it. It has everything to do with if you feel comfortable doing it." It was at that moment, right there, that my respect for John went even more sky high then it already was. My response to him was "We can do it." He said, great, now ride it like you mean it. And I did. And Colby never hesitated, never balked, she zoned in on it and made it feel like just another ho-hum canter stride. When I came back to where john was standing - I was all smiles and told him as such. He raised his eyebrows and said 'well, it certainly wasn't just another canter stride...she cleared it by 3 feet.'

Ditches come next...and yes, she will be wearing a neck strap.

Taking it all in...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Looking Ahead...

It is funny sometimes how you let what is going on in your life dictate how you actually deal with things. I have not written on my personal blog since well, everyone can see the date from last post until today's. I have no excuses other then I really didn't feel like it. So, deal with it. What I can promise you, is that I am going to attempt once again to start blogging about Chester and I ...and Colby.

I have spent the past couple of months doing some very interesting things. Because of Rolex, I am now involved with an incredible website called Horse Junkies United...and YES, I take credit for naming it. I have not been contributing as much as I should to the site ...for no reason other than I haven't felt like writing as much because of Chester...sigh, it all leads back to him doesn't it?

Then, we had the disaster that my upcoming wedding has turned into. Said wedding is now less than 3 months away and I am starting to enter panic mode about that. Let's just say that we had to get a deposit refunded, find a new location and send out new invitations...3 and a half months from our December 12 wedding date.

He'll ALWAYS be my #1
Where does that leave us now? Well, I am working again as the HR Manager for a company in the medical industry. It has been a very interesting 2 months to say the least. I al enjoying it so far, LOVE LOVE LOVE the medical industry and work with 4 other Managers who are very passionate about their roles and who are good at what they do. The owner of the company is a brilliant business man, very intelligent and I love everything about him. I consider myself lucky.

Chester has made monumental steps forward over the past couple of months. To the point where when I call him and he is at the far side of his field - yes field - he comes cantering over to the gate, trots the last couple of steps, slows to a walk and then nickers. He is definitely feeling better. After dinner when he goes back outside, he doesn't look like he is going to fall on his face when he comes out of his stall. He is tracking up. He is pawing in the crossties - something I HATE about him - but something I haven't seen him do in months. He is walking like a normal horse: no hesitation in his step, no shortness, no stiffness. He hasn't had a saddle on his back since March and has spent that entire time on turnout in his field, by himself, eating grass and getting fat. Yep, you heard me fat. I have a fat red-headed TB. I bet those are words you NEVER thought you would hear anyone say.

There is absolutely nothing showing me that I couldn't get on him tonight and start the process of walking for 4 weeks, building back the muscle tone and definition then progressing to trot the end of October. BUT - I am not going to do it. There is no rush and the absolute LAST thing I want, is to push it just that tiny bit to far and have it all crumple again in front of my face. While I enjoy spending $400 a month on board for a lawn ornament, nothing could ever make me change my mind about Chester's future...which at this point is as such: In January, I am going to get on him again. For the first time in about 9 months. We are going to walk around the arena for 15 minutes and then I am going to get off, tell him what a good boy he is, untack him, put him safely in his stall and then do it again the next day. Then, the first week of February, we will trot for a couple minutes. By mid-March, we will try a canter. If all is still going according to plan, I will look for someone to lease him beginning in May. Someone who only wants to ride flat, 3 or 4 times a week...on the nicest horse they could ever imagine doing so on.

That is our plan. Nothing - except for Chester telling me so - will make me deviate from it.

Colby came into my life on July 12. The day after I accepted my current job. Everything then sort of lined up in this really weird way. I came across some money via means of inheritance...which was difficult for me at the time because it was a result of my Aunt losing a very deteriorating battle with cancer. After several donations were made in her name, my credit card was paid off and I put some away, I had a little money left over. A friend mentioned to me she had a friend who was wondering if I knew of anyone looking for a horse. She had one - a 3 year old, unraced 16h TB filly. Chestnut, blond mane and tail. A 3 year chestnut filly with a huge white blaze I should add...I shouldn't even have considered looking at her based on that description. Her picture was impressive. Solidly built, conformationally correct and pretty. VERY pretty.

The day Colby came to Maplewood...
I drove the 2 and a half hours to see her based on 3 things. That picture, the 3 minute conversation I had with her rider and her price, which we will say is less than $1,500. My first impression of her was, she is tiny!! But, when you are used to a 17.1h horse, 16 h would seem tiny. She looked at me, had a nice kind eye...but with a fire underneath the top layer. She stood rock still while she was getting tacked up and I stood a couple feet back and took her all in. Straight legs, wide chest, even thirds straight back, butt a little higher than her wither...pretty pretty head. We took her outside and her rider popped up on her and took her through her paces...which were even, BALANCED, fluid and pretty. She did it all on a longish rein with collection and impulsion from her rear end.

Then I got on her....and you will have to wait till tomorrow to find out what happened next.

The Embarcadero Continues...

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Clock Winds Down...

Yes, it has been a while.
To be honest, I haven't felt like writing anything.  Can you blame me?
Tomorrow, marks the end of his 90 days of captivity.

Today, I watched Chester walk from his small turn out area, with confidence and without any shuffling.
While I know my dreams for us won't be fulfilled, I hold on to the one small fact that he will always be mine.
More tomorrow...that I can promise you.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Conversations With John...

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with John....

He basically sat me down and told me I needed to give my head a shake.  That's John for you. Straight, to the point, no bullshit, going to tell it to you how it is.  And I love him for it.  Realistically - my goals with Chester are not going to be accomplished.  This sucks.  In more ways then you could imagine.  Mostly because I knew he was the horse that could be able to fulfill all my dreams/goals as a rider. 

Then I was lectured about the importance of patience - as if that is anything new - and we took a look at my horse situation and how we can move forward in order for me try and get out of my funk.  There are options.  We are working on them.

In the meantime, I am riding Ellie.  Ellie is a filly that our BO owns.  She is super sweet - but is the complete polar opposite of Chester.  She take a LOT to get going and even more to KEEP her going.  Big Spurs and whip are a necessity.  We have made significant progress in her canter though - which is awesome.  John rode her yesterday and said that I need to basically get her out in the open as much as possible and make her canter as much as possible.  So, we will try that tonight and hopefully I don't fall off!!  It is always great to watch him or The Boss ride the horses I am riding...just by watching and listening to them talk to me about what they are doing is hugely helpful! We're going to John's place on July 20th for some xc schooling.  Can't wait for that!

Chester's first and only other mother - Lesley - has been kept in the loop the entire time Chester has been hurt.  I have pretty much come to terms with the fact that I am going to have to move on from him in order to move on with myself.  As much as it rips my heart out to do that.  We had a conversation about it and she is more then able and willing to 'adopt him' back.  Her parents - who are lovely individuals - own a farm where she teaches lessons out of.  So, he will be able to go back there and retire.  Sigh - retired at 10.  Breaks my heart into a million pieces. When I knew we could have made a run for the Pan Ams in 2015...or at least be at that same level.

I am holding onto a little bit of hope that he will be able to get ridden lightly on the flat - he would make someone a really nice dressage horse - I just couldn't bear the thought of making him run and jump - which is what he was meant to do - and then heaven forbid - him getting hurt again or possibly something even worse.

One thing I know for sure: I will never find another Chester.  And whomever it is that I end up with next, will have some very big shoes to fill. 

That is what makes this so hard.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's Pretty Grim..

That calendar you see ticking away when you look at the right of your screen...has been my nemesis.  I can tell you - probably close to the second, how much time is left until the 90 days has passed.

27 and change.

There has been no improvement in Chester.  He still shuffles, he still can't turn in small circles, he can't trot and he is sore as hell when he comes out of his stall in the morning. I would have expected to see some improvement by now.  The reality, is that there is none.  He seems content enough - although when you love to run and jump, I am not too sure how content you can be.  It breaks my heart to look at him, even more so now then it did in February when he was depressed and shriveled up in his stall.

My gut is telling me our hopes and goals won't be accomplished...that is the hardest thing to come to terms with.  Yes, Chester is hurt, probably for the rest of his life, but he will manage.  My barn owner explained it this way:  Think of someone who has to walk with a cane.  While they might not move as freely and supple as people who don't need one, they manage.  And, they get through life just fine.

I'm speaking with DVME tomorrow.  We're supposed to have one more shockwave session on July 5.  Not sure at this point if it is even worth it to do!  But, considering I'm already thousands in the hole when it comes to The Pickle, what's $400 more? 

Chester's life,more then likely, is now going to consist of him living in a field with a 27 year old buddy to keep him company.  Well, at least I own the nicest looking lawn ornament in town.

I could think of worse things....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Eff You Hesitation.

Horses are like houses. The first time you lay eyes on a horse/house, you know that is the horse/house for you. That is how it was for me anyway. My first house was love at first sight. It was a beautiful 2 storey brick house in a nice neighbourhood, with a pond and a gazeebo in the backyard. I loved it. It was a little out of my price range, but I didn’t care. I knew I wouldn’t be happier with anything else.

My first horse (after my return to eventing), was the same thing. It didn’t matter that he was all gangly, narrow chested and had never evented a day in his life. He was beautiful and I wanted him. Enter Chester.

Chester, as we all know, has suffered a pretty bad injury, which has kept him on the Injured Reserve list since December 30, 2010. In the meantime, I have been riding other horses here and there. This is partly due to the generosity of my barn owner who is letting me ride some of the horses at the barn and partly because of my xc coach, John. John, might be one of my heroes. He is a retired 60-year-old teacher, who has spent his entire life riding, bringing along horses, becoming a farrier, steeplechasing, etc etc. He has a no nonsense way about him and will tell it to you like it is. No Fluff. No BS. I love him.

John gets calls every day about horses that people want him to come out and take a look at, start for them, looking for new owners etc. He has been on the look out for me for the past little while. There was a little mare whom I loved named Nikita, which was a potential free lease for me. She is cute, brave, athletic and just learning how to be comfortable jumping. unfortunately, the logistics of the situation didn’t allow for it to work out. On to another one…

Enter Kieran. Kieran is a big black bold TB of a horse. He is powerful and he knows it. He is also a black lab. If he could climb into your lap, he would do it. He is 7 and knows next to nothing save the basics. But, he is very willing and has a great attitude. The first time I met him, he snuffed my ears and neck and goobered all over my sleeve.

He gets a little bit insecure when you first get on him and it takes a little bit for him to relax. I think this might have to do with the fact that he has never really been asked to do anything…once he relaxes, he is a little bit lazy – if that is possible for a TB – and you have to work to keep him in front of your leg. He is also like a centipede and when I ride him, it feels like his front end isn’t connected to his back-end. Think about trying to ride a slinky. He also doesn’t know how to canter. Yet. But, he has potential and his enthusiastic attitude is unmatched.

Then, we have Foster. Before I even met Foster, I wanted him. 5 years old, oldenberg gelding, 17.2 (a TRUE 17’2, we sticked him), bay, most gorgeous horse (other than Chester), I had ever laid my eyes on. Confirmed flat movements, jumps the moon, I could event him within 2 weeks if I wanted too…even though he had never been asked to jump anything xc related, it wouldn’t have been a problem and I knew it. The woman who owns Foster, had too many horses, not enough time and was basically looking to give the horse away, free lease, whatever. John had started him a couple of years ago and immediately thought I would be a perfect match for Foster. When he called me to tell me about him, he said to me: “Carrie, this is your kind of horse.” And, he is. I loved him. Everything about him. Big, bold, brave, gorgeous and one of the most well put together horses I had ever seen. He was as close to perfect – in my eyes – as a horse could get. I should have taken him then and there.

But, I didn’t.

There was talk about him being a Wobbler – which is basically a disease characterized by an abnormal gait in the front and/or hind legs. It is referred to as “wobbler” syndrome, as the horse may seem wobbly when walking or exercising. Normally, you can tell within 18 seconds of riding a horse if they have it or if they don’t. He also had a full set of x-rays done on him at the Equine Research and Medical centre at the University of Guelph up here in Ontario…to which the radiologist wasn’t able to confirm Wobblers. A good sign. The horse doesn’t have wobblers, he didn’t feel off in the least and he wasn’t walking around like he was drunk. But, WHY would there be so much talk about him having wobblers? John figures he might have been unsound at one point and they weren’t able to zone in on the area that was causing all the issues. If anything, he was a little stiff through one of his hocks…but conditioning would have helped that out immensely. Now, I had a choice to make.

BUT, did I want to be stuck with TWO horses who were potentially unrideable?!! I had to think about it. Okay - Chester, is on the IR list for who knows how long, Foster can be eventing within 2 weeks. Proper conditioning will make him stronger and happier and I would have a horse to ride (for FREE) who has potential to do very very very well. Buuuttttt, he also might have an underlying condition which could make him unrideable for any given length of time. I decided to take the chance. John and I discussed it and we were going to go ahead with Foster on a 3 month trial at which point, I would either keep him or give him back. No questions asked. A lot can be accomplished in 3 months and I figured I didnt have anything left to lose and that this potentially could be a very very good thing. I would be able to pick him up on Saturday.

When I was driving home from work on Friday, John called me. When I saw who it was, I figured he was calling to let me know about logistics for Saturday and what time I could show up and load Foster. When I answered, I knew immediately that something was wrong. John told me that someone from Toronto had come and picked up Foster that very morning. I was unbelievably disappointed and couldn’t help but feel as though I should have decided on the spot to take him. Horses like Foster who are practically free, don’t come along very often, or, well, ever.

Thinking about it, cost me Foster.
And the search continues…

Friday, June 17, 2011

10 Days...

Ah Geeze - throw in a trip to Bromont and working at a breeding farm part time...and you have no posts from me in 10 days...oopsie.
Will update more and in detail either this afternoon or tomorrow...promise...lots going on. Some good, some not so good...more soon.!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Off To Bromont...

...and it is completely bittersweet.  Why?  Well, Chester and I were supposed be competing, Training level.  Sigh.  When I look back at the first post I wrote on this blog about a year and a half ago - that was our short term, how things can change.  We will be lucky if we even get there in 2013... 

There isn't much more I can tell you about Chester for the moment.  Some days, I feel like he is making significant improvement, others, it looks as though we have taken huge steps backwards.  He is happy enough I guess, but I know he is bored out of his mind.  I can't hand walk him enough.  We usually spend an hour or 90 minutes out walking around or in the shade.  It is looking more and more like he is just going to have to sit in a field for a year and then hopefully he will be sound enough to start to bring back slowly and perhaps make someone a really nice flat horse...I don't even want to think about that. 

There also isn't anything I can tell you about on the job front...other then I got a big 'NO' yesterday from a Non-Profit I interviewed with back on May 17 or 18...that was the last interview I went on.  There isn't a lot going on right now, which is very troubling to me.  Nothing I can do about it, but keep trying.  However, you start to lose your motivation when you try with all your heart and get nothing back in return...

I found this yesterday...maybe now our luck will change...
Because the horse community is amazing, I have some people on the look out for me for horses...which are free lease options.  I will hopefully be seeing one tonight who is about 10 minutes away from my house, which is also key.  He is apparently tall, dark and handsome. Seven, with basic much as I would love to find that horse who has been there done that so I can go training in a month, I don' think that is going to happen.  So, we will see if I end up going to see this guy tonight or not.

I'm headed to Bromont bright and early tomorrow morning. Horse Junkies United is going to have a team on the ground there and it is going to be fun fun fun.  BUT: I. Hate. Mornings. People who know me will agree with me 100%.  Can't wait for my alarm to go off at some ungodly hour tomorrow morning...somewhere around 4:00 a.m.  I have a headache just thinking about it.

Okay Bing Maps, don’t fail me now!! See you in Bromont…in 508 kms, after 5 hours and 54 minutes. And make sure you check out from Thursday - Sunday for awesome coverage... and well, okay, Eventing Nation too...

A bientot mes amis!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ho Hum...

It is hard to find things to write about right now...when Chester isn't doing anything except being confined in solitary.  I keep having to move his pen though because he chews up the ground so quickly and ends up standing in mud.  I am sure he is loving every second of that.

Actually - keeping him outside - although in his tiny pen - is the best thing for him!  I couldn't imagine what keeping him inside in his stall would have done to him again, especially when the weather is getting nice.  He is not necessarily happy, but not necessarily unhappy either...I take him out to hand graze a couple times a day for 45 - 60 minutes up by the other horses.  He really enjoys that.  His walk is much much more free now...I am itching to see him trot, but, I'm not going to even go there. 

I also bring him into the indoor at least once a day so he can walk around a bit.  He rolls the instant he is off the lead line.  Rather then walking around the arena and stretching his legs though, he would rather come over to where I am sitting and get me to scratch his shoulders.  He hangs his head over my shoulder, looks out the big door and twitches his lip.  We stay like that until my fingers cramp from scratching him for a long time.  It is as close to a hug as he can give me.

I think he appreciates the time I spend with him.  It still breaks my heart to look at him knowing what we should be doing right now.  We went to John's yesterday to xc school and I could hardly look at him while we were loading the trailer.  He stood there, head up, ears pricked and looked at us with a little bit of resentment. I swear that horse knows how to speak English. 

His next Shockwave is scheduled for either next Friday (while I am at Bromont) or on the Monday following.  just have to check with BO to see if she would mind bringing him in from his cell on the Friday.  After seeing how non-challant he was about the whole thing, I feel confident in not having to be there for it.  My DVME goes on mat leave at the end of the month (and I am freaking out about that) and the the last thing she will do, is administer Chester's final Shockwave on the 29th or 39th of June.  I don't know what I am going to do without her....

Here are some pics from John's place:

Jen and Bridgette!

No Bridgette - there are no horse-eating-monsters in that ditch

John riding of the boarders horses.
I've been riding one of the schoolies at the barn - who is for sale, the horse can jump 4' from a standstill! - which has been keeping me entertained.  AND, because John, my xc coach is freaking amazing and has been looking out for me - when we were at his place yesterday, he put me in contact with someone who has a TB/Han mare for a free lease.  John started the horse a couple years ago, knows it annnnd it could potentially be a really good fit for me.  We are going to be cautiously optimistic.  He called the owner yesterday, and in another little bit, I am going to give her a shout.  Hopefully I'll get out to see her this afternoon or tomorrow.  Fingers crossed that I will have something to ride soon!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Huge Vet Bills and No Money To Pay Them...

Seriously Eff.

In the past year and a half that I have owned Chester, I am pretty sure that I have spent more in vet bills then I spent on him.  When you don't have a job to pay for said vet bills, it really really really friggin blows. I just got my invoice for: blocking, rads and his first shockwave session...and it is almost $1,000.  And, we still have another 2 Shockwave sessions to go.  Yes, I knew this was coming and yes I know I don't have any other choice in the matter.  But, what a shock to my system.  I honestly feel like throwing up a little bit. 

The stress of caring for a horse is one thing.  To have to care for an injured horse who is unrideable for almost a year when you have no indescribable.  Trust me. I just sat here staring at my screen for 5 minutes trying to figure out what to say that could possible describe it.  No luck.

To be able to afford to go to events, clinics, xc schooling etc, I have an ING account.  Every Friday, $25 is transferred from my checking account over to my ING account.  This cash helps me to be able to do all the fun things with my horse during the summer and is basically the only way I can afford to anything because, in case you hadn't noticed before - horses are expensive.  Now, I have to take that money and use it for Chester's vet bills.  Although it will put a dent into the bill, it won't come close to paying for all the treatments he will get and there is still no guarantee that he will come out of all this at 100%. 

Chester is feeling it a little too.  He is a little bored and stressed I think.  He is getting a lot of white hairs throughout his body, mane and tail...that is a sure sign of stress.  Understandably so.  He hasn't felt the best for the past 5 months.  Speaking of his mane - he has rubbed off the bottom 6 or 7 inches of it.  Speaking of his tail - his tail hairs are falling out.  My heart just breaks for him.

It sucks.  I can see why people end up having to use their credit cards all the time, which in turn gets them even farther and farther into debt that they just can't get out of.  I have been feeling pretty good for the past couple of weeks...and that all came to a crashing stop about 30 minutes ago when I saw the bill.  Almost like a 'This is your reality wake up call! You have no job, an injured horse and huge vet bills. Good luck to you."

I'm trying, really really hard to remain positive.  The fact - for whatever reason - I haven't been able to land a job - is really starting to get to me.  It's been almost 7 months and for 5 of those months, I have had an injured horse.  Not a good mix. 

Getting a HUGE bill like that and knowing you still have another $800 to come. Blows.  I'll do everything I can for Chester - to make sure he has every shot at recovering fully.  I don't know how I am going to do it, but I will.

Friday, May 20, 2011

We Survived...!

When you expect the worst and then you finally get around to that situation where you were expecting the usually ends up being not as half bad as you originally thought it was going to be.  Really, I was more upset about all of this then Chester was. 

Enter - DVME Extraordinaire. Today was Chester's first of three Shockwave Therapy sessions.  Leading up to today, I was not a happy camper.  From what I know knew about Shockwave, I wasn't looking forward to my horse having to go through it.  The last thing I wanted to be dealing with was Chester grunting in pain each and every time the machine shocked him.  Technically, the machine uses Soundwaves to help the damaged area heal.  Some genius however, decided that Shockwave sounded better considering  that is more what it feels like.  Thanks whomever you are.

You know what it feels like?  Think about touching the electric fence.  That's as close to a comparison as I can describe. It isn't pleasant, but it could be worse.  The hardest thing about the whole process, was listening to the damn machine making the noise!  Each shock makes a really loud clicking sound (again, like the sound the electric fence makes), and the only thing I could think of was ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch every time the machine went off.  And, he was shocked 1,000 times...yep, you heard that correctly, 1,000 times.

Chester - took it like a champ.  He barley budged the entire time - the brave boy.  He was a little bit uncomfortable around the back of his heel when DVME was around that area, but it was just a shifting of his weight.  He is now resting comfortably in his stall waiting for the sedative to wear off before he can go back outside.  That is one of the benefits of this therapy...there is no recovery period other then waiting for the sedative to vacate his system.  He gets to resume his outdoor solitary confinement within the next hour or two.

DVME says that I should definitely see an improvement by the final session (end of June) at which time, if all goes according to plan, hahahahaha, I will be able to walk under saddle and then take it very very very very very slowly from there.  There is nothing I can do now but continue to wait.

Oh - as for the 'Pickle'...yep, you guessed it...out the entire time. There is something seriously demented about my horse.

The process starts by the torture victim being given a sedative and the damaged area getting clipped down to the skin

Then it is cleaned thoroughly...not disinfected though, because there is no needled piercing the skin.

Then some gel is applied to the area and then -> Let the Shockwaving begin!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Big Announcement...!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ecogold Launches Horse Junkies United, a Blog by Amateur Equestrians, for Amateur Equestrians!

We are very excited to announce.... that ECOGOLD has created a new website for amateur equestrians, “Horse Junkies United”, by and for amateur equestrians from different English riding disciplines.

The content is written by Amateur riders from across North America who are actively involved in dressage, hunter/jumpers and eventing. The goal is to provide cool, fun and meaningful content - with a point of view - that will relate to amateur equestrians across all English disciplines. The blog will cover all aspects of English riding including coverage of events and shows across North America, clinic reports, fashion, informative product reviews, and interviews with professional riders, special segments and of course contests!

The blog, which can be found at, is the brainchild of Patricia Da Silva, ECOGOLD's Marketing VP. “After the successful Ammie Blogger Experience at Rolex Kentucky, where a team of amateur riders covered the event on ECOGOLD’s blog, some of the bloggers expressed an interest to keep going,” she said. “It just made sense to create a separate website and to bring in dressage and hunter/jumper riders to be more representative of the North American horse show scene.”

In 2011 ECOGOLD was the winner of the Equestrian Social Media Award for Best Use of Social Media in Category 14 - Saddlery or Tack Company - International.  ECOGOLD is proud to welcome CHARLES OWEN & CO. as their first partner. Danielle Santos of Charles Owen said, “Horse Junkies United is a great idea! Amateur riders across disciplines love to share their experiences and this blog gives them a place to do that. Charles Owen is proud to be involved in such an exciting new project.”

Another feature of the blog will be reviews of Boyd and Silva Martin’s training videos. The Martins, who are both sponsored by ECOGOLD and CHARLES OWEN and compete at the international levels of eventing and dressage, respectively, have created a series of training videos. One of the Horse Junkies United bloggers will watch the videos and write something about each one.

Carrie Braff, an amateur event rider from Ontario, Canada will be Blogger-in-Chief for Horse Junkies United. “We really want this site to branch out to ALL the amateur English Discipline riders out there.” said Carrie. “What better way than to have the content be written by amateur riders who are not only intelligent but funny, witty and somewhat crazy. After all, if all of us horse junkies were normal, let's face it, we'd have nothing interesting to write about!”

While the blog will feature regular contributors, anyone can submit blog posts or get involved by emailing

Check it out!!!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

That Cat Has Class..!!

Bertuzzi Watching The Black Stallion:
(sorry about the flash!)
Classy Kitty

Friday, May 13, 2011


Look what arrived for Chester and I from South of the border the other day...
No smartasses - it wasn't the beer, it was the bumper sticker...
You know - there is something to be said for those of us here in the horse world.  I have never ever met the infamous Eventer79 OR Solo...but, you can bet your butt I would do anything for either one of them if I could.  EV79 has been commenting and providing guidance and a not so logical approach to the whole Chester situation and it is because of people like her that makes going through this ordeal with Chester that much easier.

THANK YOU - and the bumper sticker will be transplanted to my tack trunk ASAP!!

Drinking, Swearing & Breaking Stuff...

So, what do I do with myself when I am feeling the frustration level hit an all time high???? While I would like to basically run around drinking, swearing and breaking stuff, I think that would land me in the clink pretty quickly....that said, the clink at this point in time sounds like a pretty good option for me. I would get fed 3 meals a day (and more then likely better then the wieners and KD diet I have been feeding myself), be able to sleep a lot (well, hopefully since I have a hard time sleeping lately), and not worry about all the other BS that is going on....but, Chester would be first and foremost on my mind.

It has been 6.5 months since I have worked. It has been 4.5 months since Chester hurt himself. I think I am allowed to feel a little frustrated. N'est Pas? So, with all the pent up frustration I am feeling, I figured it would be a good idea to blow it off somehow... with keeping the drinking, swearing and breaking stuff to a minimum. How did I do it?! I moved Chester's cell from beside the paddocks where he was standing on dirt and eating hay to beside the outdoor arena which is grass covered and lush. I think he liked it. This however involved yours truly acting like a pack mule and walking gates literally across the property.

Running Around Drinking - while there was no beer involved - although it would have made my chore much more enjoyable - I did reward myself with a Raspberry White Tea Ginger Ale...I NEVER drink pop.

Swearing - Oh, there was definitely swearing going on. For future reference, I now present a note to myself. Self -> the metal gates that you use to build Chester’s cell act as a conductor for the electric fence post which you used as brace for his enclosure. You found that out the hard way. More then once...more then three times even.

Thanks Mom!!
Breaking Stuff - Don't ask me how I did it, but I managed to bend a metal gate almost 45 Well, try packing two of them on your back and then falling backwards into a fence. Not only that - but this led to more swearing as my arms got pinched between the two gates. I will wait a day or two before taking a picture of my arm in order to showcase all the pretty colours it is going to be.

End Result - Chester, LOVES it. And well, isn't that what matters most anyways?
(Okay - NOW, I am going to have a beer.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's Not Bone...

Chester per usual.
There was a part of me today, that really really wanted to see something significantly different in Chester's x-rays. Please let it be bone, please let it be bone, please let it be bone....Bone, is easier to deal with, it is pinpoint-able and special shoeing can do wonders.

No. Such.  Luck.

DVME checking his legs out

His Rads this afternoon were pretty much identical to they looked like 3 months ago.  While I was somewhat relieved to know that we can actually 100% confirm what is causing Cheter's lameness, it is also somewhat like being stabbed in the heart.  There is absolutely nothing we can do right now (except follow protocol and administer Shockwave Therapy) except give him the time he needs to heal.  The absolute earliest I am looking at being able to get on him is July.  Then, it will be nothing but walking for another month or two, then trotting maybe in September and then well, who knows.

That horse of mine was in one of his typical quirky moods this afternoon for one point, he had both front feet on the x-ray board, was snorting profusely at the playdough used to pack his hoof and trying to untie the strings of DVME's xray smock.  She did say he looked good and happy...which was nice to hear considering his predicament.  I honestly think that it is because he is still able to go outside.  I truly do.  So long as he is being quiet and not acting like a doorknob, he gets to stay out.  The second he starts acting up, that privilege is being taken away...I have threatened warned him about this numerous times.
So, now we know for sure it is soft tissue damage, we have already booked him for his first Shockwave therapy session.  It will be on Friday, May 20, then the second and third treatments will each be 3 weeks apart. 
I almost feel like goes nothing...

Monday, May 9, 2011

And, So It Begins...

Tomorrow is going to be my very own TSN turning point.

DVME comes tomorrow to take the second set of  xays.  Part of me wants there to be a bone problem - because then we will know for certain the cause of Chester's lameness.  Part of me doesn't want it to be bone, because, well, that would suck for Chester.


I have had a hectic past couple of days - hard to believe for someone who is unemployed, I know, but trust me is completely the truth - and haven't ridden Flick since last week.  But I will tomorrow...well, I guess I will decide if I am going to ride her or not tomorrow once the rays have been taken.  The Boss is also coming...I like having her there to keep her eye on things...and to try to make sure I don't react in a completely irrational emotional way...not that I would ever do that of course.

If only it were that easy...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thinking About Decisions...

There isn't much more that I can say about the time I spent at Rolex, with Ecogold, my entourage, my time there, then what I wrote in my wrap up post for Ecogold.  Rather then copy and paste the whole thing, I will just do what all the cool kids are doing (NO, I am NOT going to buy a pair of Dubarry's) and link to it like this -->  The response I got from it was very overwhelming...and it touched me in a way that is hard to describe...I think because I truly meant every word that I wrote...and to see the absolute joy these horses bring to those around very very hard to put into words.  And is also a very very very special thing to be a part of.

I was able to be a part of something special over the course of the last weekend in April and I am very thankful for it.  Knowing that my new hero (I will let you guess which one), went through a very similar experience (with a very high ranking Rolex horse this past weekend) a year ago, gave me a lot of hope for Chester...not necessarily to be my Rolex mount (although, I can guarantee you that if that works out to be the case, then Sinead ain't got nothin' on me in the waterworks department), but, to make a full recovery. 

Yesterday was pretty tough.  Someone I respect a lot told me that they didn't think Chester would be able to event again and that I would more then likely have to end up selling him and taking the hit.  For the first time since this has been going on - when that person told me that - it hit home more then it ever had previously.  While that person wishes that isn't going to be the outcome, they don't necessarily feel as optimistic about it as some of the other people in my little support group.  While selling Chester is not something I ever want to have to do, it is something that I think about from time to time.  Especially when he is walking normally and then all of a sudden takes a couple really ouchie steps.  He had his shoes pulled on Monday.  I am glad I wasn't around for it.  I more then likely would have started to cry. 

He knows something is going on too...we haven't ridden (and No I do not include the couple weeks in March when I thought we were making a recovery) since December 30.  It is now May 5.  Five months.  He is confined to a tiny paddock for 8 hours a day and is in his stall the rest of the time.  My heart breaks for him.  I think when I was away at Rolex, he thought I had abandoned him...when I made it to the barn on Tuesday, he spotted me instantly, raised his head and walked over to the door of his cell to meet me.  He looked at me as if to say 'thank God you came back for me'.  I still have a hard time looking at him.  I can only imagine what it is going to be like when the barn is doing their show prep for the first time...and then the second and the third and...sigh.  I keep telling myself that we are doing all the right things for him...we have pinpointed the area of concern and we are doing everything possible to help him make a full recovery.  The rest is up to him.  I hate not having control.

I met a lot of people over the weekend...from all walks of life, from riders to spectators to riders who wished they were riding Rolex and everyone else in between.  All of them basically said the same thing to me - horses, will always break your heart, you always have to be strong for them and they will love you unconditionally. The horses' needs come first.  I think specifically about Manny and Exploring...

Where am I going with all this?  While it would absolutely break my heart to watch Chester get on a trailer and leave me crumpled on the dirt standing in the driveway as he starts his new life as a trail/dressage horse... if that is what is best for him, he will get it.  Why are the right decisions always the hardest ones?

Chester comes first. He always will. (At least that is an easy one eh?)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Project...

I thought about it a lot...deciding what to write about tonight....and to be honest, I wasn't 100% sure until I sat down literally 17 seconds ago.

I could have written about Rolex - and the absolutely incredible experience it was - but, I will save that for another day...probably tomorrow. 

When you go through rough times in life, it really is the support crew that you choose to surround yourself with that will either make or break you.  Be your rock when you are going through your hard place.  Enter BO.  BO suggested I needed something to take my mind off of all the other shitty stuff going on in my life and said she had something in mind.

BO mentioned a project she had which she wanted me to manage.  Said project is a four legged, shaggy looking, qh/tb cross (with something else in there, we are just not sure what), who knows....nothing.  Wait, I will say 'knows the basics' (meaning if you squeeze hard enough she will trot and if you haul on the reins enough, she will stop)....and she can jump the moon.

Enter Flicka.

Flicka, who I refuse to call Flicka and will call Flick from now on, is a super cutie patootie of a mare with a sweetheart of a personality to go along with her...all 15.1 / 15.2 hands of her.

Not much is known about Flick - the lady who BO bought her from used her mainly for trail riding, parades (poor Flick) and well, that was the most of it.  She is currently being used once a week, as a school pony for the lesson program at the barn.

BO sees something in her and asked me yesterday if I would like to ride her and treat her as my own for the next several months as Chester is enjoying time behind bars.  Well...sure, I guess! 

To be brutally honest, I had to ask the Coach which one she was...I wouldn't have been able to pick her out of a crowd if I tried.  I was pleasantly surprised when I saw her!! She is cute, more long then she is tall, short little legs, a super gentle eye and well...a head that doesn't really belong with the rest of her body.  I looked at her in the field, she looked at me and instantly started walking towards me.  What a cutie.

Flicka: Before
I rode her today - for the first time.  She doesn't know how to bend, when she gets nervous, she sticks her head straight up in the air and trots faster and faster and faster and..., she has no brakes, she has no knowledge how her front end and her back end are supposed to work together, she needs 30 cm spurs (because I found out pretty quickly she HATED my dressage whip), and really just to get by. 

But - she has heart, she has the desire to please, she wants to try, and she tries hard, she wants to not get freaked out when people ride her (by the end of my ride, I had a nice slow trot with a stretched out neck) AND, she is a super super sweet and kind mare.  That was enough to win me over.  And I can't wait to ride her again tomorrow. (Yes, Chester is extremely jealous.)

I think I will call her the Distraction, more then I will the Project.  Either way, I have her to work with and learn from...My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to teach Flick...well, everything that I know (which isn't much, I assure you), make her into a more rideable horse and yes, you heard it here...event her by the end of July.

Flicka: Before the Makeover

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What It Is All About...

Greetings all!! Here is my Rolex wrap up post...
I think I will do my own post about it here on my blog, but for Ecogold purposes it will be a little different then the one I write...
I'm suffering from Kentucky withdrawal already...sigh, can't I just go back there?!

I will never, ever, EVER, think ANY brush-top
table is 'too big'...ever again.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rock The Road Trip...!!

Uggggggggggggghhhhh - Too much to do and I am still writing damn blog posts!!
Have a great couple days everyone...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rolex...And What I Am Feeling...

I sort of feel like a kid on Christmas Eve.
I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm anxious. I feel a little queasy.

Somehow, I have a feeling that the next 4 days are going to be a lot of controlled chaos...which, if any of you know me, would say that fits me perfectly.

I still haven't packed, I have about a million things to do tomorrow, still have to make sure everyone is on the same page with Chester for the time I am gone - including, shots and farrier appointments - still have to get Bertuzzi looked after - get gas, get snacks....efffff.

You would THINK I would have done a LOT of this today. Nope. Instead, I spent an inexcusable amount of time waiting at Crappy Tire for the Winters to be exchanged for the Summers.  Total Pain in My Ass!
Okay - enough ranting...

Make sure you keep up to date with everything I am doing for the next 4 days...I will try and link all my posts and uh, situations I get into on the EcoGold blog to Facebook and my personal blog. 

Make sure you keep up to date with EVERYTHING Ecogold is doing...they truly are incredible...and I truly am lucky to be a part of this experience.

BRING ON THE is blue...right?

Oh - I am sure you are wondering: Who is Bertuzzi...well, here he is in all his Grander!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dealing With It...

All things considering, yes, it could be worse.  Not what I want to hear right now though - Thankyouverymuch.  In the grand scheme of things, there are people out there right now who are facing much more adversary then I am and who I consider to be much much stronger then I ever will be as a person. 

Deep down, there are a lot of emotions that I am feeling.  As I lay awake last night staring at my ceiling, I determined that the emotion that is rearing its ugly head the most is Frustration.  Thinking about it more, I know that Frustration is a common emotional response to opposition...which you can relate to both anger and disappointment.  Over the past 6 months, I am pretty sure those are the three emotions I have felt most: Frustration. Anger. Disappointment.

If I can pinpoint where this all began, it would have to be back in November, when I was the result of the HR Function at my job being outsourced.  Definitely felt the anger there.  It really was, a smack to the face.  At the time, if you would have asked, me, I was absolutely 100 million% positive that I was going to find a job - closer to home and in a different environment - by January and I would have banked 3 months of pay!  Awesome!  I was extremely motivated to find something. I was getting interviews, I was doing well with them and was getting to be one of the final 2 or 3 candidates. When I would lose out on getting the offer, it was always the same thing: "You're a very strong candidate, but the person we extended the offer to has direct industry experience."  Unfortunately for me, the only industry experience I have, has been within Professional Services.  And, having experience on BOTH sides of the table and knowing the tightness of the Market, I believe them...and have been believing it for the pas 6 months. Six. Months.  I can not believe it has been that long since I have worked.  The longer it takes for me to find a job, the harder it is going to be to get one.  You want frustration?  Try getting to the final interview stages for 6 months, being SURE you are the candidate for the job and then getting passed over...and over...and over...and over.  I have not received a call for an interview in the past 3 weeks. Confidence, is approaching an all time low.

Then, there is the smack to the face that your income...becomes pretty much non existent.  As a professional who busts her ass during the day to ensure I can keep my amateur by night job...I work(ed) hard.  VERY hard. And was compensated accordingly.  It is because of my work ethic, that I was able to afford to buy Chester in the first place.  Yes, I worked long hours and was gone from the house from 6:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. Monday - Friday - but, Chester, was my motivation in doing so.  When you go from being compensated at a certain rate and living within those means to having to live off of Employment Insurance (EI), it is another smack to the face.  As comparison, I am now earning less then 1/4 of a month of what I was earning while I was still working.  It is not enough to pay my bills.  Again - at this point in time, I consider myself to be still luckier then others out there...I have a good support system.  I have had to make several BIG changes in the way I live my life just to be able to make sure Chester is taken care of (and I can actually eat more then KD and wieners).  And, yes, I put his needs before mine. 

December 30, 2010...before he spooked...

All this brings me to Chester.  Sigh, Chester.  My heart simply breaks every time I look at him.  I think back to December 30, dad was visiting. The ONLY reason we went to the barn, was so he could see Chester and take some pictures of us while we were riding.  30 minutes into our school, he pulled a typical Chester spook - typical meaning, spooking at NOTHING - jumped 10 feet to the left and came up head bobbing dead lame.  The following 4 months up to this point was a smorgasbord of emotions if I ever saw one:
Fear - that Chester was really badly hurt
Frustration - that Chester wasn't getting better
Hope - when Chester showed signs of finally improving in mid-March
Determination - that Chester was going to be better 'tomorrow'
Anger - that Chester is a total jackass and had no business spooking at a jump standard in the corner that he had seen every day for the past 6 months
Disappointment - The goals I set for us a year and a half ago...remain unaccomplished
Devastation - in knowing that Chester is out for the season
I could go on. 

I want to stamp my foot like a 3 year old about to have a temper tantrum. This isn't fair!!!  I have all the time in the World right now to put into Chester, to go out, event and move up the levels.  The Bromont 3-Day event is fast approaching...and while I should be filling out my entry and stabling form for that event, I am instead filling out paperwork for veterinary appointment purposes.  This whole 'horse thing' as my SO refers to it as, is a means for me to relax, do something I enjoy, set and accomplish goals and have fun.  See, Chester is a very sensitive red headed TB...which forces me as his pilot, to remain cool, calm, collected when I ride.  He was my stress relief.  He was the one who forced me to leave it all at the office.  When it was Chester time, it was Chester time.  If I was anywhere mentally except for with him.  His response to me was simple: "Up yours lady."  And you know what?  It worked.

So, when I lost my job, I was really looking forward to being able to spend some extra time with Chester, taking lessons from The Boss during daylight hours(!!!) and really really focusing on fine tuning everything.  November and December...were the best 2 months of riding that I have ever had. Chester, had NEVER been going better. Ever.  In my head, I KNEW we were going to go come out in the Spring and simply ROCK IT.  He was getting more and more confident, more and more sure of himself, each and every time we would ride.  What a feeling.  It felt like I was riding on a cloud. Light, responsive, willing and most importantly...happy.  So, what am I supposed to do, when the thing that is supposed to help me relax, relieve tension and stress, is now, more so then ever, playing a HUGE determining factor in my level of frustration? 

There was a point where I thought I was borderline becoming depressed: I am on my own (SO travels for his job - I haven't seen him in a month), I am having trouble sleeping, my horse is hurt, I can't land a job, I have no means to pay for said hurt horse etc.  Pretty grim.  I cry a lot...simply because it is hard for me to be strong.  Simply because I am so so so frustrated, I don't quite know what else to do.  Simply because yes we have a plan in place for Chester (which is what is keeping me going), but there is no guarantee that it will work.  Simply because it blows goats when you know you are doing everything you can to help yourself...and still don't get anywhere.      

This isn't a 'feel bad for Carrie' story.  I am attempting to put it all into perspective.  Over the past 18 months or so that I have been writing this blog, I have found that putting it all on paper helps me deal with it.  I'm putting it out there and because of that...I'm not holding on to it anymore. (Okay, I am not holding on to it as much as I would have been before I put it down on paper.)  It helps.  Truly.  Reading what people - who I have never ever met before in my life - write as responses to what I an incredible motivator for me to keep going.  To get through it....because I want to be able to write for them about all the successes Chester and I are going to have.

It has not been an easy road for me since Chester has become mine.  We have yet to have a solid 5 months in a row without him getting hurt.  Now, it has been 4 months - and we are looking at at least another 3 - 4 - before I can ride him again.

Life is full of highs and lows...Making sure you try and deal with the lows in the way that works best for you, is what helps make you a stronger person.