Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Running, Running, Running

Phew... I've been busy lately. Busy AND it's been hot outside. What is this, a relapse into summer? It was 100 degrees today and we haven't had a drop of rain west of Fort Worth since July. 

As such, I've only driven O three times and lunged once in the past eleven days. I have to be careful with how I manage my schedule... I promised myself long ago, when I was slaving away for other people with no time ever for myself, that I would never again let work completely engulf me, so that I had no time for leisure whatsoever. Lately I find that there really just aren't enough hours in the day for everything that I need to (and would like to) be doing, and I keep ending up barely seeing my horses through the squinting pre-dawn or post-sunset light, if at all. I make sure I have a forced few days off here and there, simply because I just HAVE to, but I need to make sure that I am absolutely optimizing my time, and condensing everything everywhere that I can. The schedule spans ahead by a few weeks, and I find myself operating a few weeks ahead of the actual date, simply because my brain is in constant motion, setting up things and appointments and whatnot. That's all good, of course, because money, but it does leave me struggling a bit to actually get all of the things done that need to be done every day. I will make some alterations to make sure I have enough time in the day to do everything that I need to do... because really, what's life without leisure?

The three drives we got in were all very good - the first was on Saturday, the second today. On Saturday, we drove up and down the road for a bit, and even though we hadn't driven in a week O was spot on. She was quiet, not rushy towards home, sensible, and responsive. The last time I drove her up the road was before the show, and she was SO in heat that she couldn't even handle herself. This time, she was a LOT quieter - although I am curious to know how much the whip plays into this. She can't see the whip when I'm carrying it, of course, and I rarely if use it, but she's not stupid and she knows I'm carrying it anyway. I think in time she'll begin to get used to it and relax a little, but it will take time.
Yesterday and today, we did some work on the obstacles at a walk, and did a lot of walk-trot transition work. I went ahead and put the martingale back on her (and the flash too), which immediately nixed the Arab-esque head-tossing, as it always does. She is always happy to take a contact, but the quality work comes after you warm her up and unlock her... she becomes very buttery in her contact, very light and spreadable, and that straightens her out. It's very hard to keep a naturally crooked horse straight while riding, and WAY harder to keep a crooked horse straight while driving. I think it has to do with how short her back is - she has power, a huge engine, and the ability to really sit and collect herself, but that comes at a price, as she really only can get it well on straight lines. Her back is SO short that it has cost her a lot of her lateral flexibility, and she'd rather dirtbike around a turn than actually bend. But, once she becomes warmed up and soft, she becomes lovely. I think it will make me a better rider, if I get back to riding anytime soon... there is no room for temper or mistakes when you're driving, you just have to gently roll with the things that come.

That said, I'm not sure I'll be riding much in the near future. I don't talk about it much, but I've been really having a lot of pain issues in my bad leg, and riding really aggravates them. Long time readers will remember my many complaints about my bad hip... Metro kicked me right in the left hip socket about 10 years ago, completely on accident, but it left me with some long term struggles that no doctor can really figure out. As long as I am not on my feet ALL day long, or riding in saddles with twists that are too wide for my hips - a huge problem in the past - I do very well. Pain-free, in fact, for the most part! Unfortunately, limping around for almost a decade, I have developed a serious compensatory problem with my left calf. Nobody can really figure that out either... is it muscle, or tendon? Probably both, at this point, as far as we can tell, seeing as my left calf is now about twice the size of my right from being constantly cramped, and my Achilles tendon is stretched so taut that I can't lower my heel while riding. It just physically doesn't do it any more, no matter what I do. My calf muscles are rock hard, my tendons are tight, and trying to force my heel down while I am riding results in screaming pain that leaves me crippled for hours. The shorter the stirrup, the worse it is. After a few hours in the saddle, things do stretch out and work better, but it is awful, and nothing we've done has made it better. Driving has given me a lot of relief from this pain, since I can still work my horse and enjoy it, and not be in screaming pain every day. I hope we can get this figured out at some point.... but we don't have many ideas left.

Anyway. My horse is still beautiful in harness, is she not?

Also, P is looking decidedly pregnant as of late. She has a little baby bump starting to show, which is not surprising given how saggy she is otherwise (a younger or fitter mare would 'hide' a pregnancy a little better under her abs... P has no abs and no topline!). She is 152 days as of today - my chart says her fetus is about the size of a rabbit, 6-ish pounds and 12-ish inches long. It is already gaining more than a pound every 10 days at this point. Within the next 30 days, it will quadruple its weight, and may be even as much as 25lbs by then. I was told to come back "in the fall sometime" to have her palped, to make sure she hasn't slipped.... I may wait until next month to do that, seeing as both ladies are getting their teeth done on the 17th and I'd like to minimize stress. P already *had* her teeth done this year, right before we bred her, but the vet did such a horrible job that she hasn't chewed right since. I thought it might improve over time, but gobs of food still fall from her mouth while she chews. O is due as well, but I haven't wanted to take her to the vet since I've not been happy with the dental work (Happy with everything else... just not the dental work, and it wasn't done by my regular vet either.) This specialist is a Natural Balance dentist that I've heard nothing but good things about, so here's hoping! (And hopefully we won't need sedation either... we'll see how it all goes.) She's also getting her next Rhino shot in the next few days.
Other than that, the dry weather has SO helped her - she is moving great. I even hopped on for a quick bareback hack today, and she felt awesome. She's all business, that's for sure.... riding O isn't a lot of fun sometimes, but riding P is ALWAYS fun. I hope she passes her work ethic onto her baby!


  1. Are you trimming full time now?

  2. I am guessing you have massage therapist that has tried helping with your leg. Your issues sounds right up the massage therapy alley.

  3. Does your cart have a whip holder? That ghetto one of mine does...did...I took it off during restoration and forgot to screw it back on.

    What if you just put the whip in the holder - or zip tied it to the cart - so it became more A Part of The Cart to O? Let it be there for several drives before using it again? Maybe she would come to associate it as part of the cart/driving vs. evil-thing in the categories of her mind?

    Just thinking outloud...I totally get that there could be very obvious negative ramifications from *surprise* whip in cart, but maybe there is a way to transition the whip to a different category in her head, one that isn't associated with negative things?

  4. Those are two fat, shiny, sleek looking mares you have there. SUPER excited about BABYYYY!

    Also, there are some yoga exercises that might help you - you can even do them sitting. I'll send you some vids privately.

  5. Kinda cool how well driving has worked out for both you and O. I can't wait to see how you guys do as you both learn more and more!

    I use a Natural Balance dentist, and have been super happy with his work. My old man has some balance issues in his mouth, probably from all the tooth griding and weirdness he used to do under saddle. This guy keeps him comfortable and is able to do my spooky TBs teeth with zero sedation (we're talking a horse I can't clip without being drugged to death). Very impressed client here...

  6. super excited about P's baby! glad everything else is truckin right along :)

  7. Both of your mares are gorgeous. I bet the baby is going to be absolutely perfect. The mom has a lot of influence on how they turn out. :)

    Sorry about your leg. That really sucks. I'm glad O loves the driving so much since it gives you relief from the pain. That's why I want to teach Chrome to drive so bad or get a small pony to drive because my husband's back hurts too bad to ride, but if we had a cart he could go with me. Maybe someday.

    Good luck on finding time off. My farrier stays soooo busy and she has two kids! I have no idea how she does it all.

  8. That sucks about your leg. Maybe you were meant to drive :)

  9. Yay for P and O, pain and long term pain really sucks and I'm sorry to hear you are dealing with it, I'm hoping you find some good relief soon so you can do all the things you want.

  10. I am sorry to hear about your pain - I too have issues with pain and riding, but it originates in my hips.

    Glad to hear P is starting to show - that certainly is exciting!!! I've missed updates on her, so it is nice to see some photos of the pretty old girl :)

    And O is fab, as always

  11. Turns out driving is perfect for both O and you! Sorry about the pain. I'm really excited for your baby poneh!! Bunny size sounds so big!