To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

More data

Earlier this month, Rick attended an advanced neck and back ISELP seminar. What he learned there prompted him to take a look at Lance's neck. So tonight he watched Lance move on the lead-line, lunge line, and under saddle, then he ultrasounded both sides of his neck. Diagnosis: synovitis encapsulitis – arthritis, basically. This is probably what has caused Lance's stumbles and falls; he's not just lazy!

Rick plans to x-ray Lance's neck as well, just to get as much information as possible, then inject the problem areas (C6/7 on both sides, C5 and C7/T1 on the right) with steroid. Depending on the results, Rick may follow that up with IRAP therapy. (Yes, I am very thankful to be married to an equine vet!)

I went through this with Russell; Rick gave him repeated neck injections with diminishing returns so we ended up retiring him. Maybe it will work better for my Lancelot; we'll see.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019


This evening, exactly three weeks after she arrived, Dinah rode off into the sunset. Kate plans to ride her at home until she's sold; Dinah would make someone a flashy little dressage mount or eventer. I really enjoyed working with her and she made great progress in three weeks; all she needs now is "polishing."

I will miss having a horse in training; it is what I love to do. Lance, big red goober that he is, can only do what he is doing; with his physical limitations there is no more working up the levels so we just exercise for the good of both of us. Who knows; maybe the future holds another training project!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A second, temporary, dance partner

Eeek – looks like I skipped out on posting here at all in April. Thought about it, but obviously didn't act on it. May Day, May Day; better talk about the second partner on my dance card before she leaves!

My friend who came off her horse on New Year's Day with disastrous results is almost back to normal. She has officially finished physical therapy, her repaired clavicle has gotten two thumbs up from her UCSF orthopedic surgeon, and she's ready to ride again. In anticipation of this, last month she asked if she could bring her mare over for a week for me to "take her temperature." I was happy to oblige, so I cleaned out and cleaned up our empty stall and Dinah arrived on April 16.
The boys were very interested. Lance and Dinah are old friends and seem to remember each other; Oliver has been ridden with her once but doesn't know how to behave in polite company. He used to act quite 'studdy' when Breezy was in heat, and thinks he has what it takes to impress Dinah, too. 🤔🙄😖😆

Anyway, Dinah is still here, getting schooled six days a week. (Someone was lunging her for Kate three days a week, so she was fit enough to go back to work.) Kate is open to selling her and looking for something less energetic, so one person has come to try her out and I've sent photos and videos to a trainer friend to show to her clients. And as of this week, Kate is getting back in the saddle, too.
Mare ears and LOTS of mane!

I think Kate could handle Dinah just fine with regular riding and attention to building core strength, but Kate's husband is understandably worried about her riding at all. Why she came off on New Year's Day is a mystery; she doesn't remember Dinah acting up so there's a possibility Kate blacked out momentarily. Needless to say, her future on horseback is still uncertain, as is Dinah's departure date.

This means I'm getting LOTS of saddle time. Even though I was riding Lance pretty consistently, he's now getting 5-6 days a week, as it just makes sense to ride both horses if I'm going to 'suit up' and go to the barn. Even though the length and intensity of our rides hasn't changed, the slight increase in frequency has made a noticeable difference in Lance's fitness. Yesterday we went for a ride through the woods, and he marched up the short-but-steep hills coming home like he hasn't for a long time; yay!

The other quiet excitements of our ride yesterday:
The only native dogwood I've ever seen on our hill.
Zoomed in. Just downhill from the NE corner of our lot!
Be still my heart; we found a clump of wild iris. 😍

I think this is my favorite flower; exquisite!

Here are some April photos of Lance that I shared on Instagram.

The horses are now getting a little time each day to graze on that green grass – not just gaze at it – since it's heading out and the days are warm and dry. We have such a short window of good pasture time between when it's shooting up and loaded with fructans and when it's overly mature and infested with pokey foxtail awns. Ah well; everyone enjoys it while they can!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Well, shucks

The weather is getting nicer but my horse is getting heav-ier, as breathing harder. Lance's respiration rate isn't nearly as fast as when Rick diagnosed him with Inflammatory Airway Disease (because he's on twice daily prednisolone), but it's definitely more labored, and exercise has become much harder for him. I suspect Lance got triggered by our period of cold, dry air combined with the micro-particulates from wood smoke; I cringe when I see ours or the neighbor's drifting towards the barn. Rick and I have talked about doing a dex suppression round and then treating him with a new formulation through the inhaler, but haven't acted on that yet. Since the last time-intensive inhaler treatments didn't do a whole lot of good, I can't get excited about trying it....

Still, we do our limited work in the arena, or get out and about (especially when I can smell wood smoke in the barn/arena area). Lance needs the exercise for his metabolic syndrome, and I need the time on my horse. But until his breathing eases, I won't be considering any more shows.

Monday, February 25, 2019

We did it!

Yesterday my mustang man and I rode down the center line for the first time in three years, in our first attempt at Second Level. It was a big effort for Lance (which means a lot of work on my part!), but he didn't stumble and he didn't fall out of trot or canter, so I was very happy with him. We didn't break 60%, but our score of 58.049% wasn't an embarrassment, and the test had some nice moments. I am particularly pleased with our soft connection. He may not be brilliant, but he's happy; I wouldn't trade that for all the brilliance in the world. I had a friend use my iPhone to video our ride, and took the following screenshots from that.
The judge said our entry halt was abrupt, but it couldn't have been any more square!

Here is the video in all its sluggish glory. ;-) You can see how much he's puffing if you watch for his breath!

A funny thing happened on the way to the show arena....
I mounted at the trailer and rode to the warm-up arena. Since we were the last pair of the show, no one else was riding. There was a boarding horse in a pen at the end of the warm-up arena, and horses occasionally in view elsewhere on the grounds, which only served to make Lance wary. He immediately got on his toes and minced around on high alert, attempting a little explosive buck two different times. I think that used up a goodly portion of his available energy, but at least he settled down and went to work by the time we entered at A.

Rick showed up just before we entered the ring and took a lot of photos with his 'big boy' camera. As soon as we can get his camera to talk to my laptop, I will probably have more photos to share.

Those aren't asterisks; they're snowflakes! We awoke to quite the winter wonderland this morning, just as forecast.

After getting bundled up to do chores, I got a wild hair. I fed and watered everyone, then put Lance's bitless bridle on and went for a bareback ride in the snow. I can't remember the last time I did that; it may have been when we lived in Minnesota almost 30 years ago! A good ride and old memories made for a heartwarming interlude.

It was a great weekend!