As I was tacking up this morning, I was doing a bit of a review of the show season. I spent some time last night talking to a friend whose equestrian situation is very similar to mine. We are both good riders, have “real jobs” but also have to fund our hobby by being “professional” riders. This means that we put in an insane amount of hours and are normally pretty strung out. Notice Stephan Colbert does not seem to have any great commentary on lower middle class dressage riders.
Perseverance seems to be the main theme of this season/year. Patience is the other major lesson we seem to be focusing on lately. Priorities is a third. Some of the lessons are more pleasantly delivered then others. A few are being learned at great cost, despite the instruction being undeserved. However, horse sports and sometimes the universe are unfair and random.
On the simple side, Ries is a case in point, particularly for perseverance. I have now owned Ries for two years. At first, it all seemed very easy. The horse is athletic, sensible, and despite a slow start, a very talented jumper. Other than the typical OTTB inability to pick up the right canter lead, Ries seemed to be a natural for eventing. I had a great training trip to Unionville, PA in April of 2011 and had a plan to do a novice event in June and was seriously thinking that I would be at Training level by August. And then Murphy decided that your truly had gotten a bit too big for her full seat breeches. At our first outing, a combined test, Ries was beset by some occult back problems. Turn my darling sweet horse to the right and he began leaping and thrashing about. Of course, my entry for the June event had already been sent out, so that was a tad expensive. So were the vet visits and chiropractic treatments, but by August I was seriously thinking about entering the August event. Ries seemed sound after a very careful conditioning program. Then the second time we jumped, something just felt not quiet right. Ries jumps like a cat, but seemed a tad sticky on landing. Plus, the day after he jumped there was some very slight thickening of his right pastern. Being a bit of a hypochondriac about horse soundness, off we went to the vet. After the physical exam (which turned up nothing and had the vet politely insinuating that I truly was a hypochondriac), we turned to ultrasound. The ultrasound turned up a tendon strain. The only good news is the vet went from thinking I am nuts to thinking I am quiet astute. (Don’t worry, the bill is the same) So four months of stall rest and a very careful reconditioning program.
Fast forward to April of 2012 and I enter the same CT where it all went to heck last year. This year Ries stayed home due to a very odd and occult lameness up front. Two weeks later, he seemed fine. Then he hurt himself in his stall and went on a round of antibiotics. Lameness went away for a bit, stitches came out, two weeks later, same weird NQR issues. Sound enough to trail ride, but ring work was iffy. So at this point, I threw in the proverbial towel. I was no longer going to worry about anything other than trail riding Ries. My eventing days were evidently over and cursed. Every time I thought things were going my way, Murphy corrected me.
Then in late June, Ries blew a record breaking abscess out the top of his hoof. Horrifically ugly and gross, but wonderfully sound since. We were fourth on our dressage score at an unrecognized event and have entered the August recognized event. I have knocked on every wood surface, done odd dances and every thing else I can think of to pacify Murphy. Five days to go……. will report back soon.