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!