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

Monday, March 31, 2014

What do you with a problem like my mustang?

Yesterday I took advantage of a break in the showers (I thought) to ride Lance. But by the time I had him groomed and saddled, it was raining again. So I left him tied (with halter and lead rope!) in his paddock and watched sheep for awhile (I had two pregnant ewes who are toying with me). When the shower stopped and I returned to Lance, I found this:
He had just enough leeway in his lead to reach around and unbuckle half his girth!

At 7:00 p.m. I took a bottle down for my bottle lamb, along with some towels in case one of the ewes had given birth. Since there were no new lambs, I decided to leave the towels in the tack room. I walked into the barn, and Lance's stall door was ajar! I found him in the upper pasture calmly grazing, the turkey. Fortunately he didn't play any catch-me-if-you-can games, and I led him back to his stall.

Obviously, bolt snaps (above) are no longer a challenge for my nimble-lipped Lance, so I switched things around and put a threaded quick link through his stall latch. If that doesn't work, I think a combination lock will be our next step….

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Treatment #2

Rick finally made time to treat Lance's suspensory with shock wave a second time today. (Muddy leg courtesy of Houdini hijinks.) Looks like the weather will cooperate for another 15-minute walk, too.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

P.S. I can take a hint

Monday? When Lance destroyed his bridle? I had my entry to the Mother's Day Heart of the Valley Show II in an envelope and ready to mail later that afternoon. I didn't mail it….

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

This is why we keep spares

That beautiful bridle on Lance in the previous post?

Read all about the Keystone Cops routine that caused the casualty on my farm blog. Unfortunately, the one good leather repair(wo)man in the area quit that business several years ago, and I'm not confident that the cheekpiece and rein could be made to look show-worthy again anyway. Fortunately, I DO have other bridles. I decided to try Russell's bridle on Lance again, even though it was too big for him a year and a half ago.
Ta-da! His head has grown some since I got him – even if it IS a knucklehead!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Because I can

Despite being FULL of mischief while I led him around, Lance acted like the laziest horse in the dude string once I got in the saddle – which was fine. He had nothing to prove, nothing to work on; I just wanted the saddle time Rick said we could have. Of course, I thought about my position; no point in getting sloppy. Lance had a nice, foamy mouth at the end, too. :-)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Taking the long view

Rick checked Lance's right rear suspensory again tonight.While it looks better, Rick saw some reaction on the bone up high that he didn't see before, indicating the injury was more than just a "stretching" of the ligament. He's going to treat it again with shockwave, and advised me to give it more time to heal. I am scratching our entry for the April show; Lance's long-term soundness is far more important to me than any show or year-end awards. The good news is that Rick said I can ride him for short periods at the walk. I think I can keep him at a walk – and keep him between me and the ground. ;-)   He's kept himself admirably under control when I've hand-walked him lately, in spite of his obvious pent-up energy.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Quitting crutches

I've ditched the crutches (with approval), and am now waiting for Rick to recheck Lance's leg. Crossing fingers and toes that we're both removed from the injured list this week! (Okay, my knee is not 100%, but it won't stop me if I can help it.)

Yesterday (my first day without crutches) I hand-walked Lance around our arena. He was SO full of himself, but minded his manners and was very good. Today I pulled his sheet off and gave him a good grooming with the stiff rubber fingers followed by the brush; took care of some itches and got some winter hair off. It's so nice to be able to spend some time with my horse again!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A much-needed "fix"

The first of my three bred ewes lambed this morning, so I had to drive down to the sheepfold, crutch over and have a look. And once I was that close, I had to go in the barn to see Lance. To keep the ends of my borrowed crutches from getting too mucky, I hopped across the muddiest places on my good leg – probably not the sanest choice, but I was desperate. Lance came right over to the stall door when I called and seemed glad to see me in a "Hey, Mom; where have you been?" sort of way. Sweet whiskery nuzzles warmed my soul. Aaaaah….

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Joining the injured list

Well, if I can't ride Lance, I guess this is about as good a time as any to be on "stall rest" myself.

Long story short. Right knee has been bothering me in varying degree for months; lately it's gotten more painful. Yesterday morning it hurt a LOT but was somewhat better this morning – until I tripped over one of my son's toys. I couldn't get back in the house without help. :-(

DH and his trusty assistant looked inside my knee with ultrasound and saw lots of swelling, an ugly lateral collateral ligament, and a suspicious meniscus. After consulting with Rick's BIL, an orthopedic surgeon, I am on R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation) and crutches for a week, after which we will evaluate to determine whether or not to see a local doctor (unfortunately, my BIL isn't). Hopefully I'll know by the closing date of March 26 whether or not I'll be able to show next month.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Head Neck and shoulders, knees and toes

Wednesday night Lance got a shockwave treatment (see HERE for a good explanation of this technology, which my husband has used with great success). I keep bugging him to try it on my frozen shoulder, to no avail. He did use it on my tennis elbow some time ago and got that quieted down.

Next up: Lance needs a haircut. Actually, he needs his mane evened out. The section he rubbed out last year is just about the right length now (it's darker, therefore hard to distinguish from his neck). The section caudal to that is thin and long, so just needs to be shortened. The larger section cranial to the rubbed area is thick as well as long, so I'll probably have to thin that. Ugh; I hate pulling mane. I doubt Lance will mind, though – especially if I do it while he's eating. ;-)

I'm so used to trying to manage my days so that I can shoehorn in a ride somewhere that I'm a little lost when the possibility of riding is removed. Oh, I have plenty to do, so it's not like I get bored or anything. Lance, on the other hand, IS bored. I can hand-walk him, but will do so carefully. My shoulder problems started the last time his activity was limited to hand-walking….

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Let it rain – for now

My good husband – who happens to be a very good equine vet and lameness specialist to boot – examined Lance last night. First he palpated both of Lance's hind legs, comparing the right to the left. After determining where the swelling was, he shaved the areas he wanted to ultrasound. (I told him to shave all the white on both hind legs so it would look intentional for our April show – thinking positive thoughts – but he didn't.)

Rick looked at structures high, low and in between. At first glance, nothing looked amiss. He was suspicious about the medial branch of the suspensory – but decided it was just the angle of the probe. He announced that Lance had probably just kicked himself, and pronounced him sound to ride. I said, "You looked at everything?" Bless his heart, Rick put the probe back on Lance's right hind and investigated some more. Sure enough, the medial branch of the suspensory – just above his fetlock – showed some swelling and trauma but thankfully, no tears. There was also some swelling in the high suspensory, just under his hock. The new protocol: at least one shockwave treatment tonight, and no riding or turnout for at least a week, probably two weeks.

While I'm bummed to have my boy sidelined for a bit, I am oh, so thankful that 1) my husband has the expertise and equipment to diagnose the problem, and 2) we caught this early and the prognosis is excellent. Suspensory injuries are almost always cumulative in nature; strain upon strain eventually causes the torn suspensory ligaments we all dread.

So let it rain (it is). While Lance is healing, maybe I will, too. While my frozen shoulder has been improving (thanks to finding a good massage therapist to work on it) my right knee has been bothering me more and more. Now its true origin – sciatica – seems to be revealing itself. Might have the LMT work on that, too. Regardless; our sights are still set on the April show!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


What is it about entering a show or some other significant event that attracts trouble? Last weekend, Tarra's mount sustained some sort of strain or injury. Yesterday when I went down to ride Lance, I noticed his right hind pastern was a little swollen. I couldn't find any injury and there wasn't noticeable heat; I decided to go ahead and tack him up but lunge him first to make sure he wasn't lame.

Lance was his usual playful self. After I convinced him that I needed the lunge line, he proceeded to trot and canter with lots of forward and nary a hitch in his get-along. In fact, he ripped the line from my left hand (my still-frozen left shoulder couldn't handle the yank) and galloped and bucked all over the arena! After expending all that energy, he wasn't sure he had any left for me (lol), but we had a pretty good schooling session. At the end, his right hind was its usual tight, shapely self. Yay!

This morning, his right hind was swollen again. This time there was swelling around the base of his tendons just above his fetlock, as well as around his pastern. :-(

I called my vet. Thankfully, he makes house calls….

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Room with a view

Lance enjoying the window he created. (Yes, his stall floor is lower than the ground outside.)

When I rode Friday, I tried a little experiment. I checked out the wooden fence posts holding up our arena panels to determine the best "tripod" for my camera, and set it up to shoot some video. I think this will work! Having some video to review in the future will definitely be better than nothing when it comes to "eyes on the ground."