For the first time since August 2018, P is finally back in a pasture. When he was first cleared from stall rest in January, the pastures were so wet that P was assigned to the round pen, lest he slip in the wet grass/mud and reinjure his tendon. Then he tore half his foot off, went back into the stall for 7 days, and then was back in the round pen.
But BO and I figured this was as good a time as any to get P out into a small pasture, as he’d likely be sore enough thanks to The Foot Hole, and wouldn’t be so inclined to tear around.
Day 1: GRASS
Which was true. For, ya know, a couple days.
Someone is fine - YouTube
Day 5: All weight on The Foot Hole
So with one grey TB back in action…
Looking at the faker through some S ears!
…I’m thinking P can handle a few laps of walking under saddle in the arena.
It’s been raining in NC for what seems like 5 nonstop months. Temperatures have fluctuated from 30 to 80 (sometimes in one week), and some days I don’t even MIND that I don’t have a rideable horse because it’s just plain ol’ nasty.
But with the end of March comes a few things…Trainer B’s return as well as the beginning of show season.
But KC, you might say, your horse has a gigantic hole in his foot.
That he does, my dears, but it’s looking like this handsome guy will soon be coming my way.
Not sure what to do with a non-gray, to be honest
Right now the plan is to head up to VA at the end of this month and compete C in a schooling horse trial, then bring him back to NC with me. His owner will be following him down to NC shortly after that, as she heads back to work for Trainer B, and C will stay with me until P is ready to go. Which will probably be early summer, because the second that horse is declared good to go back under saddle, he’ll be heading to Trainer B’s for at least a month. I seriously can’t even with that horse anymore.
Me to P when he’s cleared
So all hopes for a spring season may not be dashed after all. Which has me thinking about the events I’ve been to as both a rider and a spectator, and which ones I can maybe, just maybe, plan to get to this year.
It was so hard to pick a favorite. I loved going to Virginia HT when Trainer B competed P and really hope to get to compete there myself this year.
I love galloping up hills and VA’s XC course looked like SO MUCH FUN
I will always be partial to Windridge. Maybe because we’ve won there before…
Also because they have a kick ass XC course.
But I have to say that my favorite among favorites has to be Carolina Horse Park.
Because this picture came from there, of course!
All around, I just love the venue. The stalls are roomy, and designed to be able to conveniently hang things like saddle racks/bridle racks/hay nets/buckets, etc. The overhangs are great at keeping the rain off ya and are spacious enough to have trunks/hay bales in front of stalls.
Approved by S
With posts spaced out perfectly to hang the hammock
Trashcans everywhere that are actually emptied DURING the show, so trash isn’t blowing out by Sunday. Small details like that matter.
After P stumbled upon some leftover Chick Fil A one time, he made it a mission to go inspect every other garbage can. Because he’s weird.
Another favorite feature is that each stall has it’s own dual electric outlet. Perfect for a fan and a phone charger.
They have 2 areas for campers/LQs, both of which are about a 45 second drive to the barns. The hookups are far enough apart that no one has to park on top of each other either.
They partner with a nearby golf cart company, so you can have one delivered for the duration of the show for $45/day.
Handy for carting the family around
The only thing missing would be showers. If they’d add showers and a real restroom, that’d be perfection.
My alternative if no one around has an LQ
I believe they run only 2 USEA events throughout the year, in addition to Carolina International at the end of March, then from May-November, they host a schooling series called War Horse Event Series.
Timing has never worked out to where I’ve competed in one of their USEA events, but I have attended several of the WHES events and love how well run they all have been. Plus, stabling for Friday-Sunday is only $75 AND you don’t have to clean the stall at the end of the weekend. With a horse like P, there is no better deal than to NOT have to strip the stall.
WARNING: Some pictures in this post are disgusting.
Both vet and farrier came out yesterday to do x-rays and see if a shoe could get put back on P’s broken foot.
He walked out of the stall much better than when he went into it a week ago (he hasn’t left it at all and was getting his bandage changes in there), which was a relief, and the vet unwrapped his foot to take a look.
Barf. The white grainy stuff is a mixture of MSM/sugar, just FYI. The good news is that the pack, bandage, and SMZs have been doing their job in keeping infection away.
Then the vet took x-rays and I held my breath.
The x-ray showed that no bone was damaged in P’s wild crosstie escapade, which makes his prognosis excellent. The laminae is a little inflamed, which is to be expected, so I’m to continue with the betadine/sugar/MSM applications under his wrap.
Then it was time to see if a shoe could get back on there to help relieve some pressure.
And after going back and forth with the farrier, who will from now on be referred to as Almighty Genius Farrier (AGF) because he rocks, AGF was able to fashion and attach a shoe to what’s left of the hoof.
You could clearly see the relief on P’s face when he found he was able to put weight on that leg for the first time in 7 days. The vet and AGF watched him walk up and down the barn aisle and the difference was immediate.
P After Shoe - YouTube
So P will remain on SMZs, bute, and daily bandage changes. He *should* be able to go out in a small paddock or the round pen in the next couple of days. I actually had to ace him after AGF/vet left, because he was like, “Uhhh, no thanks, I’m actually fine now” when I put him back in his stall. BO joked that we should take off the shoe, but I already paid for that sucker, so I said she could just kick the hole if he gets out of line. And I’m only half-kidding, if we’re being honest.
I’m really not looking forward to changing the bandage from here on out, though. Before, I did it from the bottom of the foot and never made direct eye contact with the exposed soft tissue. Now I have to go through the front and pull the pads through the hole. Which makes me want to gag just thinking about it. Thanks, P.
At least this is healing up
The vet/AGF will come back out in 4 weeks to do another set of x-rays and reset his special shoe. So in the meantime…we, uh, wait, I guess.
Not going to lie…I was so nervous to put him back in cross-ties, given what happened the last time he was in here
But spring is on it’s way so cross-tying is sort of necessary, I guess
As for a new ride, I’m still sort of in limbo. Trainer B wants me to try out this one horse that’s semi-local to me, so that will be happening this coming weekend, weather permitting. Otherwise the tentative plan (work permitting, this time) is to head back to VA at the end of March to catch ride my friend’s horse, C, in the MDHT Starter Trials at BN, and then bring him home with me. C is the horse I rode when I visited a couple weeks ago, and I really enjoyed him.
Seriously- thanks so much for all the comments I got on the last post. I read each and every single one, but really just couldn’t even respond to any of them. The whole thing just majorly sucks. I also really appreciate all the texts I got. This community is the best.
I took a 4 day weekend trip to Nashville for a friend’s bachelorette party, and one of the boarders so generously changed P’s bandage daily. I felt guilty leaving, but have had my plane ticket since September so wasn’t going to miss it. It was definitely a good break from agonizing over his stupid foot nonstop.
The highlight definitely being GOAT YOGA. This little guy is 4 weeks old and the biggest snuggler ever. Husband is lucky American Airlines doesn’t allow goats on planes.
The 5 seconds I attempted to participate in the yoga part and Logan was still trying to snuggle. OMG.
And Husband was awesome and let me talk to P via FaceTime. Because…that’s not weird, right?
I did see him yesterday and he’s still incredibly sore. The upside of his not wanting to move is he’s super quiet in his stall (and for once his stall isn’t a total disaster…silver lining?), the downside is the boredom must be unfathomable. So we do little things like stick pieces of apple in his bucket to keep him entertained.
The vet and farrier are coming today as a team- P’s foot will get some x-rays and hopefully there will be some sort of shoe put on to support his foot more evenly and take some pressure off the injured area while the rest of it grows back.
I almost have no words for this post. Yesterday P had a farrier appt to get the egg bar shoes off his hinds and get back into regular shoes, and when I brought him inside, he seemed a touch antsy. I thought about asking the farrier if he could get someone else done first and I’d take P down to the arena and walk or lunge him, but then thought, “Nah, he’ll be fine.”
At the same time I was pushing those thoughts down, BO was thinking maybe she should’ve sedated him. But like me thought, “Nah, he’ll be fine.”
And simultaneously the farrier was thinking of asking one of us to hold P because he seemed a little off, but also went with the thought of the day: “Nah, he’ll be fine.”
Well, he wasn’t fine.
He had his right front up on the farrier stand and the farrier was sanding his foot. I don’t know if something hurt him or something spooked him, but he panicked. And panicked. I’ve owned him for just about 5 years and I’ve legit never seen him like that.
When I finally got close to him and put the lead around his neck (his head had raw marks from the halter), BO suddenly asked, “Where’s the blood coming from?” I looked down and I’m not even exaggerating when I say there was a river of blood heading for the drain in the wash stall. I looked at his legs, all seemed fine, until I glanced at his foot.
This is no longer attached to him
BO and the farrier started wrapping like crazy, and by the time the vet arrived an hour later, had so many layers (because blood kept soaking through), he had a 6″ platform going.
The vet looked in the hole (barf) and said nothing was in there and it didn’t look like any bone was affected but she didn’t have her x-ray machine (she was coming to the barn to do acupuncture and no other vets were available) so of course isn’t 100% sure.
So P is back in his stall, on SMZs and bute, with a heavy duty bandaging job, for a week until the vet and farrier come back out next Monday to x-ray and see if he can be fitted with some sort of shoe to support the foot while the hole grows back.
And looking at another 3 months off.
To say I’m angry at the world might be a little bit of an understatement. I spent the last 6 months meticulously rehabbing this horse and exactly 4 days before he can take his first little jump since July, he pulls this. Is he a horse and these things happen? Yes. Logically I know this, but I’m still so frustrated I could cry (and cry I have…literally all day yesterday).
Me all day
Luckily I have some amazing friends. One offered to let me free lease the horse I spent last weekend riding.
He’s pretty awesome
And one is boarding a horse at her private farm for her student who’s off at college and the mare needs a job.
And of course BO, who along with the farrier, deserve all the gold stars in the world for their quick work getting P wrapped and the vet on the road. But BO said she would make room for an additional horse if I wanted to bring one in (she’s technically full), and I can’t thank her enough.
So I did some preliminary budgeting and talking with Husband (who also deserves an award for rushing to the barn from work to let me rant and cry while we waited for the vet) and think I can swing it.
In the meantime, I can be found slaving away at work so I can continue to afford to be able to keep my horse in a stall for yet another undetermined amount of time.
Riding Healed P has been completely different than riding Rehabbing P. To the outsider, though, everything probably looks about the same: we still mostly trot in straight lines, we still walk a lot, but I feel a lot more confident in the saddle- like I’m not going to break him should I make any sudden movements.
Me during rehab rides
And the other night, we attempted this for the first time in forever:
P pole - YouTube
So exciting, right? No? Well, it was to me. It’s the little things right now. Just humor me.
Since P is now typically calmer than he was when he was stalled (I say “typically” because our last ride was quite, uh, explosive), I’m doing a lot more work in two-point and, for the first time in months, put my stirrups up to jump length and my legs definitely felt the effects.
When you match, you take pictures
Our horses quickly grew tired of us
Definitely a big difference is that he’s no longer sedated for turnout or riding. While he was never drugged out of his mind or anything, and definitely needed ace to take the edge off during that last stretch of stall rest/rehab, I was never comfortable on him while he was “under the influence.” Now we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming, aka, seeing how much he’ll put up with me. Like so:
P: “Uh, wut?”
“This is new.”
And he’s trying to spread the love and desensitize others as well. BO caught this video while she was trying to work with a horse who was nervous about trailer loading- P thought he’d be super helpful and bounce his ball repeatedly next to the trailer. Always so thoughtful.
P ball - YouTube
While I wish more mind-blowing things were happening, I’ll take the trot poles and the shenanigans for now. T-16 days until we have lift-off again!
Hopefully we can have a little less overachieving going on.
Thanks for all the congratulatory messages! I’m now considering a career in rehabbing horses. Since clearly I ROCK AT IT.
BOOM! BOOYAH! MIC DROP!
Friday I went out to the barn with a renewed sense of purpose. I wasn’t rehabbing anymore, I was training. Sure, our ride didn’t look drastically different (except I threw a few very drunk looking leg yields into the mix), but I FELT different. We weren’t aimlessly wandering around the arena so those tendon fibers would align….because they, ya know, already have.
So work, baby, work
I think P could definitely feel the energy shift as well, because he seemed much more businesslike than usual. Or maybe it’s because he’s finally not drugged. After the last couple months, I have no idea why people would want to ride a drugged horse. It sucked.
These moments are still few and far between, but he’s trying!
Above are a couple very cherrypicked still frames from the below video that was taken on Friday. But despite the moments of short steps and falling on his forehand, the old fancy P is still in there and comes out in short bursts.
P trotting - YouTube
The day after P got cleared, S also got cleared to go back into work. So the Stall Rest Twins will now be conditioning together as well! BO and I are hoping to trailer out to the sandhills to get some trail riding done on sand-based trails, since around here is just a mud factory.
P & S, with B in the middle. It was a gray OTTB gelding party on Sunday.
So we threw a bay mare in the mix, who soaked up ALL the attention from her minions
From smallest to tallest, except P was too busy looking like a stoner to show his true height
So we’ve got all the fitness happening at the moment. I even spent an entire hour on my horse on Sunday- which was the longest time spent in the saddle for the past several months. And then P will start jumping March 1st. Which I CANNOT WAIT FOR.
Bring it on!
I’m so excited that I literally can’t stop talking about being back out competing. Poor Husband has had to endure listening to me list all the possible events I can go to this upcoming spring, though I’m pretty sure he still won’t be able to tell the difference between VA Horse Trials and Windridge (both of which are topping my list right now).
VA, where I’ve never ridden before, but am dying to
Though Windridge is definitely a fave of mine
Needless to say, it’s been hard to slow my roll. I want to do all the things and I want to do them right now. But obviously I’m not, as building P’s fitness level back up slowly is going to be key. Not to mention my own. I’ve stayed plenty fit off of horses, but riding is a whole ‘nother level, as we all know.
I can get 130# above my head but I can’t sit the trot. Excellent.
It’s definitely a little nervewracking, not knowing exactly when to push P and when to back off. I work out 4-5 days/week, and typically don’t feel intense muscle soreness for about 24 hours after a particularly tough workout. So I’m keeping that in the back of my head when I feel him want to break or stop, and I’ll ask for just a few more strides before calling it quits. I also make sure to give him plenty of walk breaks and time in between doing things like poles and trot sets.
And we’re not even looking so much like this anymore
Life in general has been so much easier now that he’s outside, because I don’t feel the enormous pressure that I did when he was stalled. When he was inside, I was his only hope of getting out so I made sure to get there every day that I possibly could, rain or shine, hot or cold. I probably missed less than 10 days total out of the 150+. So him being outside has definitely been a relief because if I can’t get to the barn, he still can walk around and be like a real horse.
And oversee farm projects:
P outside - YouTube
He’s still in the round pen, as the pastures just aren’t dry enough for mine and BO’s liking. And I know he’s bored in there, though he’s actually not missing much, as the horses in the pasture don’t really even have grass to eat, and spend their days munching on hay the same as he does.
The other horses don’t have a giant red ball like he does, though.
P & the ball - YouTube
But since it is a smaller space than a typical pasture, I’m making it my mission to get on him every day that I can. Not necessarily to work on specific things, but to keep those muscles from getting too stiff. Not to mention build back that cardio system.
So that running XC when it’s 90+ degrees outside will still be doable
It’s a bit of a slow period in my immediate area as far as dressage shows/CTs go, but we’re planning on joining in with some barnmates at a local hunter show or two, just to get off the property. BO has a student who needs some exposure riding off property, so I’ll be tagging along for those field trips as well.
So even though I’m dying to pick up where we left off, all I can actually do is babble about it for now.
P had his 10 week checkup at Tryon yesterday. At this point he’s up to 5 minute trot sets, has been cantering for 4 weeks and outside for 2. So it was time to see if the tendon has been able to handle it.
Actual picture of me before P’s appointment
Dr. H stayed very quiet during the ultrasound and it took all my self control to keep my own self the same. Then he stood up and said, “This is my favorite part.”
We went back through P’s original scans and he showed me each view then compared to now.
August 30th. All that black inside the red circle is BAD
January 31st. The white is scar tissue and it all healed in PERFECT alignment. Dr. H:” You don’t get better than this.”
August 30th. That black spot in red was BAD. Dr. H said this was the view where it looked the worst, like “Pac Man had come and taken a big bite out of it.”
January 31st. Dr. H’s exact words were, “You can kind of see where it was. I’d have a hard time knowing it was ever there if I wasn’t looking for it.”
He is HEALED.
Which means rehab is officially DONE. FINITO. Now comes conditioning!
Bring back dat booty!
So for the next 30 days, P has trot sets every other day, first 6 minutes than 7 minutes, with 2 minutes in-between. And on non-trot set days, he is cleared for full flat work: transitions, lateral work, trot poles, etc. And when the mud dries up, he can go on trails and do hill work.
So what comes next after 30 days? JOMPIES!
Maybe this should be our first jump back? I KID
Starting with a cross-rail on a straight approach and a straight landing, then adding in more jumps (gymnastics), then re-introducing large turns before anything crazy like rollbacks.
None of this juuu-uust yet
He wants a picture of P at his first event back, which I took as my official “You-Don’t-Actually-Need-To-Retire-Him” blessing.
When I came back to riding as an adult (at age 25), my immediate fear was falling off. My days of youthful invincibility were long behind me and I would find myself holding back on things that, as a kid/teen, wouldn’t have made me think twice, like cantering a fresh horse or raising a jump past itty bitty. As an adult/wife/mom, getting hurt means doctor’s bills, missing work, and making my family’s life quite a bit harder. And death would suck. So I’d let myself “go there,” and envision the consequences of taking a risk. And it limited me for a LONG time.
“Whoa, this trotting is out of control,” – Me, probably (circa 2010)
Enjoy this absolute blast from the past at my expense. This is EIGHT YEARS ago, on the first horse I owned, Jester. I think this was his second time jumping ever, but seriously…WTF am I doing?!
Jester jumping 2 - YouTube
So anyway. Clearly Jester was a saint, right? But if he so much as looked at me sideways, I was all, “Better be safe and not ride.” Because clearly he was out for blood.
Like that time he toted my 3 year old around in his first leadline class. Total maniac.
Yep, my self-preservation instincts were incredibly high, to say the least. As long as I stuck to only doing safe stuff on safe horses, I’d be totally fine.
Then I broke my ankle JOGGING IN A GYM.
Clearly we’re meant to be. We even sync up our injuries
Really, though. My fears have definitely changed over the years, as I got comfortable with riding again. I no longer think about falling off or get freaked that my horse could spook. I don’t look at fences (ok, except tables) and think, “What if we crash and get hurt?”
Like when I FREAKED over this “table” at our first BN, then after it was all over, Amanda pointed out that it was an option #AdultAmmyProblems
Oooohhh no. That’d be way too rational of a fear. Instead, I make sure to keep things as mentally disabling as possible and instead have this nagging knot of doom in my stomach that I’ll never be any good.
No idea why I have this fear. Oh right. Because this was supposed to be a ONE STRIDE
I also specialize in getting left behind
But only if I’m not trying to make out with P’s neck. Because THAT’S a good look.
It took me two years of bopping P over things like this these…
…before I was comfortable with anything else. A lot happened in those 2 years that set us back and while logically I realize those were valuable lessons I learned (albeit, the hard way), I’m a bit resentful that I essentially wasted “so much” time.
Like when I finished this XC course with a huge smile on my face, and was then made fun of by my trainer at the time that it was “just starter.” Ya, totes helpful.
I remember the day the still-new-to-me-trainer-who-is-terrifyingly-better-than-I-will-ever-be set the below exercise and I almost fainted at the height:
P X to Vert - YouTube
And once I realized that this guy wasn’t going to spend lessons making fun of me or insinuating that the horse was so much better than I was, I starting filling that role on my own and continuously put myself down. I’d do it to take the sting out of messing something up, but I’m starting to see that while yes, it’s ok to make fun of yourself, moderation is key. I have the tendency to take things way too seriously, so I swung the exact opposite way, which, turns out, is just as unhelpful.
Because (takes deep breath)… while riding is and always will be just a hobby for me, I do want to move onwards and upwards. Do bigger and more technical things. So I stopped looking at jumps and telling myself how large they were. Sometimes that meant not looking at the jump altogether (#survivaltactics), but it mostly meant making a conscious effort to be less self-deprecating. When I’d get directed to ride a certain exercise that looked daunting, instead of saying something like, “Ok, watch this me screw this up royally,” I’d swallow any sarcastic response and just say, “Ok.”
Props to me: I DO have excellent eq while riding blind in a T-Rex suit.
And for while, P & I were definitely headed in an upward trajectory.
I got braver about pushing myself out of my comfort zone while riding on my own:
Like when I set jumps to 3′ without thinking
Buckled down in lessons, including switching to working solely with Trainer B to help fill in some foundational/dressage holes we had:
FINALLY started riding more forward:
Dragged P to jumper shows so I could get some additional course time over larger fences: