Monday, March 22, 2010

Whew! 9 Lives?

What a weekend! A refreshing whirlwind, and I truly feel ALIVE in a way that only horses can make me feel. This crap is in my blood; there is just no denying it. By the way, still no news on what's going on with our one has contacted us.

CJ and I had a real big weekend with lessons. This would be my true test of his soundness, since we were booked full both days, other than the time slots set aside for Dancer's training session and Toi's training session. I had to work at my job on Saturday morning, then I headed straight out to the barn for my 1:00 session with Dancer and Kelli.

Dancer was quite good, considering her reluctancy to WORK lately. She is happy to run and buck and play with CJ, but if you tack her up and ask for more than a walk, she gives me that ugly face and swishes her tail, bogs completely down and sometimes even kicks out when I squeeze! She was better on Saturday, though. We worked almost solely on our upward transition to trot and she did very well. My 2:00 lesson was with a young man named David, age 9, I think. I decided to use Dancer for "follow the leader", a fun game that I play with my kids. Sorta like Red Light/Green Light, but more exciting because I don't announce what I'm doing as they follow me. I just do it. So, they develop the habit of looking UP and developing good feel for where their mount is at. CJ loves to follow Dancer, so this would be a breeze. We go about twice around the indoor arena, and as we're coming down the rail at a nice trot clip, I feel Dancer stumble. The area of the arena that we are in when this happens is a little valley, then a hill, then a valley. VERY slight, but has been this way for years. Anyway, ...stumble....wait for recovery....forever passes, and I realize that she is not recovering. I am sailing through the air, and my glance down only reveals the complete folding of Dancer's left front leg before I hit the dirt, about 3 feet in front of her; my head BOUNCES off the arena floor. I lay there a second, clean some of the dirt from my teeth and wipe it from my eyes, just in time to hear a fellow boarder come out to us, run right past me, and go to Dancer's head. Dancer is still on the ground, laying on her side, and making some weird hiccup-y noises. Poor girl knocked the wind out of herself!! Keep in mind, she's 17 hands and 1400 lbs. Boarder tries to encourage Dancer to get up. Dancer's not having it. My eyes slide down from Dancer's head, to the dressage saddle of Jennifer's that I borrowed that day, to the stirrup leathers, to the iron....with my left foot still in it. I almost had a heart attack. Yes, my head was pounding and I felt like a freight train had hit me, but my biggest horsie fear is that I'll be dragged. I couldn't get my foot out of there fast enough. Thank God Dancer was calm and not in a rush to get up, or hadn't panicked and run off. I'm sure I'd not be here to relay this story. Anywho...I have a black eye now.

Ouch. But, really, it didn't hurt. I didn't even notice it until after I got home many hours later, stepped out of the shower, peered in the mirror and said, "Why didn't my makeup come off?" and then tried using makeup remover. PSA of the day: Makeup remover WILL NOT remove a black eye. HA!

Anyway, Dancer was fine. No swelling, no heat. I linimented her twice that day; once right after it happened, around 2:15, and then again at around 7:00, right before I went home.

Oh, and folks, I wasn't wearing a helmet. Dumbass.

I got through the rest of my lessons for Saturday, and I was proud of that. My body hurt SO bad but I doped up on Advil, washed it down with a Miller Lite, and went to bed. Woke up yesterday (Sunday) morning, and my head felt fine. The rest of me DID NOT. I want to pad my clothes with Kleenex or something, but I just get dressed as normal, and drive out to the barn for another day of lessons.

Here is my navicular horse, riding in the outdoor arena for the first time this year. Forgive the Kimberwick (he hates it), but I wanted to be sure my lesson kids had the control they needed. We only used half the arena to keep him focused on his job and not distracted by his pals who were all sun-batheing and playing in the rear paddocks.

Hopefully, that 2nd vid will be done processing by the time I post this update. If not, hopefully this link will work?

See any signs of 4 years of navicular?

So, gang, what're your thoughts on Dancer's stumble and fall? We were fearing EPSM before this happened (reluctance to move forward due to muscle pain/fatigue was a huge red flag), but the vet ruled that out without testing her today. He advised we start her on a high intake of Vitamin E (no added selenium), though. I have heard of E for EPM, but not EPSM. Strange. I love my vet, and trust him a ton, but I also found it strange that he wasn't alarmed about our fall. I described the incident to him, and he didn't have much to say. He did mention that I shouldn't be surprised if Dancer is much more careful about the placement of her feet from here on out, though. Ha ha. Funny funny man.

CJ received a body score of 5, *** insert victory dance here *** and many comments about what great condition he was in. When the vet asks you what your secret is, you just HAVE to feel good, right? He got his teeth floated, Coggins pulled, spring shots, and doc collected a fecal. Same for Toi, minus the teeth float, which he received last fall. So, all in all, a good day.

Here are some shots of some of my favorite student moments yesterday.

CJ and Victoria, above. Victoria was TERRIFIED when she started riding with me 2 years ago. She's a lovely quiet rider, and really tunes in to CJ very well. He adores her, and tries his heart out to make her feel safe. When she says "trot" with that tremble in her voice, he just jogs. I love him.

Here is their "trot". HA! It's his jog, for sure. I sometimes feel sorry her as she posts to that, but hey...if it's her comfort zone, who am I to question?

Focus-faced Victoria and CJ. He has one ear on her and one on me since I'm crouching like a weirdo. I can tell he wants to stop and ask me WTH I'm doing on the ground, but he has a job to do. Jog on.

HA! Practice makes perfect. Victoria masters bending a horse at something faster than a walk! :)

I think this time the ear on Victoria is due to his concern; she's assuming fetal position, and he knows to stop trotting when that happens. Lovely scenery, yes? Complete with step stool/mounting block device!

And, I'm going to sign out and leave you with one of CJ's youngest riders, posing for their photo. They were so cute in all their blue!! I took a video of them, but it didn't come out right. Aren't they a lovely pair? :


  1. CJ is a lovely horse, it's neat how they know when they have a rider that they have to take care of. He'd do well as a therapeutic riding horse. The stumble, combined with the crankiness at saddling and reluctance to move forward at first makes me wonder if there is a problem with saddle fit, or some kind of pain that you haven't found; she could be stumbling because she's not paying attention due to something that's going on that bothers her. Does she round up her back nicely?

  2. Horses do trip and fall, particularly if the footing isn't so good or is uneven. And - helmet - always - please? Glad no one horse or human was too badly hurt. Shirley is right - there could be a soreness issue. We also had a mare that developed heaves and started having some stumbling and tripping until we figured that out. Good luck, and feel better!

  3. Hey ladies!

    We have covered the saddle fit issue a few times over the years. She is not a hard-to-fit horse. She is 5, so I don't ask for much collection yet. We need forward first, and it's been a while since she's happily offered it. I agree that SOMETHING isn't right, but I just don't know what that something is just yet.

    Kate, you got me on the helmet thing. I had worn a helmet on our first 50 rides or so with Dancer, almost never on CJ, and always on babies. After that, it just becomes burdensome. I have a new vow to put one on every ride. I grew up with them not even being talked about. So, it's a habit that I must develop.

  4. Can you put up video of the mare walking and moving for us to view? Might be we can pick something up from there....

    CJ's looking good! A couple of the still shots made me wonder if he doesn't land toe first a bit still, but after getting to watch the video, I'd say he is doing remarkably well over the past few months! Keep up the good work!!

  5. Kate left a similar comment on my blog once about me wearing a helmet. It's stuck in my head ever since. Between her and my trainer, I am reformed and always wear mine. In fact, I now forget it's there and often leave it on while grooming Panama afterward... only to realize 15 minutes later that I've still got it on. ;o)

    Love that first video! Your student looks great!

  6. By the way, I know what you mean about 9 lives. I've fallen 6 times now -- count 'em, 6 -- and I wonder every time why I'm still in one piece. The injury to my knee last time I fell did take a while to heal, though, I guess. Not that having a bum knee ever kept me from riding while it was healing...