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

Friday, July 6, 2018

Addition and subtraction

Like my life as a whole, my horse life keeps trotting on, leaving me struggling to keep up. Since the last time I posted, Lance's feet were trimmed (no shoes), student #3 had a lesson on her own horse for the first time, student #4 scheduled her first lesson for a week from yesterday, I've seen signs indicating I'm losing even more of my riding range . . . and my options with Lance got dialed back to nearly zero. 😞 Yeah, it's been a week of "The good, the bad, and the UGLY."

Student #3 decided, after two lessons on Lance, that she was ready to try taking a lesson on her own horse on Monday. Buffy, her Haflinger mare, turned out to a sweet and willing partner, reminding me in some ways of Lance, but with more energy. Since student #3 doesn't have an English saddle, I suggested she use her bareback pad so we could really work on her position and core strength. That went well, and I look forward to working with them together. The timing of the switch-over couldn't have been better, either.....
Taking a loose-rein break.

The next day Lance and I took a ride through the woods. The track is getting overgrown – we were even turned back by blackberry brambles before reaching the clearing I like to ride to – but a bigger obstacle to our future access was advertised.
All along the track there were these pink ribbons declaring "Timber Harvest Boundary" – as if enough of the peace, quiet, and wildling habitat of our hill hadn't already been pillaged. 😔 This little wooded ravine is pretty much all the "wild" that's left on our side of the hill. But it's just money to some people.... With a heavy heart I took photos of the beauty before it's changed forever.

Back home I took Lance out on the ballroom floor (arena) to briefly review some dance moves. I was cantering him to the left one last time, being careful to maintain uphill balance to help avoid tripping. He's been doing that quite a bit lately, although not quite as much since getting his pedicure. But he did trip, and not only did he not catch himself, he came crashing down in a kind of delayed sequence while my mind raced through the possible outcomes. I was mostly hoping that no part of Lance's 1300+ pounds landed on me, and then hit the ground with a pretty good smack to the back of my helmeted head. I scrambled up but Lance didn't, laying sternal where he'd fallen for some worrisome moments. When he finally did get up he kept shaking his head. Taking stock of both of us I noticed that he'd skinned one front knee and the opposite front fetlock, had a scrape and a lump on his forehead, and his bridle was all dusty. (I didn't notice until the next day that the noseband was badly scuffed, making me think he did a hard face-plant into the sand or possibly even into the kick board of the arena.) My head felt okay, but my left clavicle and sternum were uncomfortable and grew increasingly so as I carefully put away my subdued mustang.

Shaken emotionally every bit as much as physically, I called Rick. He had theorized from the number of suspensory injuries Lance has sustained that there might be underlying neck issues; the stumble and fall certainly supported that theory. I told him what happened and asked him to please (finally) check Lance's neck, which he did when he got home. Lance is so thick/fat that it was hard to see much with the ultrasound; there was some inflammation, though. (He also ultrasounded my left collarbone, which by now felt like I may have cracked it, but Rick didn't see anything.) Because Lance has gotten so fat, Rick felt that testing for Cushings Disease was warranted, and drew blood for that.

So here we are, reduced to walking around our little arena or increasingly developed hill. Going faster is just too risky; there's too much momentum to recover from if when Lance trips. (I'm so glad student #3 transitioned to her own horse before this happened, and that we didn't go to Cowboy Campeeting!) I'm sad; I'm worried. I really like the whole process of dressage and don't want to be sidelined forever, but I love my big red goober and he's definitely bonded to me. So for now, we will totter around as carefully as we can. We took a slow walk on the 4th,
Mt. Hood on the 4th of July
a doe and fawn in the distance

and then again last night to stalk the sunset:

I might start lunging him to help control the weight gain. Mr. Porky-Pie needs to work off all those apples, cherries, and choice weeds!
"Mmmm; green apples."

"What? The cherries are ripe!"

"I was bored with pasture grass."


Michelle said...

Leaving the first comment so I get follow-up comments by email....

Theresa said...

I can't help with Lance Michelle. I'm thinking maybe you can retire him as company for another pasture pet and find another horse? I know it sounds heartless but there are worse things than being out on someone's back 40 with a buddy.
I can help with comments though. Susan at Little Lucky Farm sent this to me and it seems to be working.

A blogger I follow posted the fix for getting your comments by email: go to Settings on the dashboard. Then click on ‘email’. Delete your email address and click save (upper right - I had a hard time finding it, but I’m slow). Then re-enter your email address and click save. It works!

Michelle said...

If I could find a retirement home I trusted I would consider that, Theresa, or a home where they just wanted a walking trail horse. But there are so many nightmare stories (some I know personally) of neglect or worse in spite of good vetting, and I feel an obligation to my good boy. Thanks for the comment tip; I just followed the directions!

Alanna M said...

Ugh. That's scary and no fun. I'm sorry!

Retired Knitter said...

Hi Michelle, I rarely visit your horse blog but you mentioned some issues with your good buddy so I decided to pop in. He is such a beautiful animal. I am so glad that neither of you were hurt in the fall. How scarey that must have been.

Mary said...

Well, crap. I'm sorry Michelle. He looks happy and handsome, but clearly is having trouble. You do not want to have him come down on you and it sounds as though he was unable to pull himself back as he stumbled. A similar thing happened to me with Woodrow. We had jumped a teeny crossrail and he stumbled and stopped himself with his head. I didn't come off and I waited until he could transfer his weight backwards. It was this and a few other incidents that led me to ask Theresa to come watch him and give me an opinion. She was invaluable in helping me transition him to full retirement. Let me know if you want my email address.

Susan said...

Well, I'm glad that you were not injured, on top of everything else that went on. Poor Lance. He is such a looker - and I know you two are bonded. I'm with you on hesitating to find him a retirement home. I've heard too many horror stories, too.

Michelle said...

It's really depressing, Alanna.

Yes, scary and very concerning.

Mary, I sent you an email to the addy I had for you in OR, but it's probably changed. Would love to chat so send me your current one.

Thanks for understanding, Susan.