Friday, May 23, 2014
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Say that title five times in a row......
I generally stick to riding topics but this affects my riding so I guess it applies. I also hope that maybe it will help someone who is going through the same thing as me.
I have had back pain since I was a kid. In my teens it was a biproduct of figuring skating. When you slam into the ice 50+ times a session learning a new jump a sore back isn't much of a suprise. I traded that for diving head first into the ground off horses and my chiropractor got to stay in buisiness. Six or seven years ago I was falling much less but decided to have a gravity squall off Bre mid jump. I got back on but when I got off I couldn't put weight on my right leg without feeling like a tiger was tearing into me. (I did however drive myself to the ER)
I spent six weeks on crutches without a diagnosis from kaiser.
Ever since then something has been off w my hip. My back pain flares up and I can hardly function. My right hip is permantly crooked. My right leg also happens to be my landing leg from skating days (and side most likely to get wrenched in bad landings). I tried to get it figured out but Kaiser kept saying nothing was wrong. My new line of work meant new medical providers and I thought maybe someone would listen. First doc (a resident) says "we can't really do anything for back pain anyway". Went back mid flare up hoping them seeing my symptoms first hand would help and got the "go get an xray, rest, and come back if it doesn't resolve." If it hasn't resolved in 6 years and is steadily getting worse what makes you think it will now? He even had the nerve to call back and say my xray was "normal." He did agree to send me to PT which has made me worse.
Funny thing about that xray. It wasn't normal. I read the radiology report. I have extra bone on my femoral head that predisposes me to something called FAI. Do some armchair google diagnosing and I find out that people with FAI can have pain for years that and never be diagnosed. One of the problems is that pain is often in the back, groin, or even abdomen so no one catches a clue about the hip.
Last week I finally found a primary care doc accepting new patients who happens to be certified in sports medicine. She listened to my stories of being shrugged off. I told her how I went from being active to avoiding hiking excercise due to the pain. Horses are all I have left and giving that up isn't an option. I told her that my last PT round helped my back but I now have round the clock hip pain.
She listened! I was prepared to bring up what I thought might be going on and fight with her over it. I didn't even have to go there. She said what she thought I had (FAI) before I did and showed me where the problem was in my xray. She came up with a plan for PT first, if that doesn't work joint injections, followed by surgery. It was amazing to have a doc listen and even have a clear plan that makes total sense. Surgery might be in my future but at this point I'm ok with that. I've been struggling so long anything that helps will be a relief.
Basically FAI means you have bone in your hip joint where it shouldn't be. People are usually born that what and it becomes a problem when the bone damages cartilage inside the hip joint. If you're like me and have been dealing with random low back pain of unidentified you might want to have your hips looked at. One of the websites I found listed horse riding as a risk factor. Go figure.
Here's a normal happy hip:
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Hi all. I've been a bit scarce this week. I have sooo much to talk about but can't go into too much via blog. Those of you who are book of face friends send me a pm for details. Loooooong story short Dickie and I escaped our boarding barn in the craziest exit ever. Luckily I had a friend willing to let us crash there and Dickie is in heaven. Earlier in the day before my unexpected barn exodus I found out I might need hip surgery. I ended the day at a local bar and the waiter dumped wine down the front of me. I just laughed because it made for a perfect ending to a crazy day. When my friend found a giant fly in her cocktail my laughter turned to maniacal crazy person laugh. What else can you do but laugh like a crazy person!?!? If you don't learn to laugh next thing you know you are a crazy person instead of just laughing like one.
My point is..... If you notice Dickie has new digs and I didn't tell you why it's because I can't tell you why. Don't want to bring drama to blogger since it's open to the public. Dickie is quite pleased with the situation. He has acres of grass, a big stall w a covered run, sexy red mare to look at, a llama to herd, and a mini me mustang yearling who thinks he's the shit. Spotted guy heaven.
Monday, May 12, 2014
I used to love jumping. I haven't had the balls to do anything very high but I still loved it. My first mare was awesome. You just had to hold on and let her do her job. She was incredibly safe. She could jump just about everything but was smart enough to know when to stop. Bre was the same. She was as well trained as Belle and was honest, athletic, and safe. However, she jumped a bitch out of the tack. I always thought it was my poor coordination but when friends jumped her they agreed. She is one of those horses who looks smooth as glass from the ground but is like trying to stay on a trampoline. Great for a young person, not so great for a lily livered old lady rider. I realize I am not an old lady in age but I am quickly becoming an old lady in bravery on horseback. The last time I jumped her I got launched and crunched my hip. I got back on and jumped so I didn't leave the ride terrified or anything. I just didnt' get to jump much after that because I was on crutches for a few months then moved Bre to a barn without facilities to ride.
Enter Dickie. In my mind I wanted a horse with potential to do low level eventing. I know that sounds kinda crazy when I haven't jump in years (yes close to four years) and I might end up hating it but I wanted a pony with the potential. I spent our first year on the ground wondering what he would be like. Would be a boingy mo fo like Bre or smooth enough for old me? When I finally got on I couldn't be more pleased. Even Dickie's bucks are smoother than Miss Bouncy Pants. Whether Dickie is organized or in baby discombobulation mode every thing about him is smooth. He isn't just smooth because he has flat little stock horse gaits. Boy has some power in that caboose. I had trainer jump him the first few times. I want him to be confident rather than having to deal with me face grabbing him.
With shows looming in the very very near future I decided that I needed to pull on my big girl breeches and take the plunge. You would all laugh heartily because "the plunge" was a cross rail that probably didn't come up to my ankle bones. I AM SO FREAKING HAPPY!!! He was like jumping on a cloud. I think anyone could jump this horse. I am sure it will be different when we are going over things he hasn't seen yet but I think this guy is going to be just right for me. He's turning into a cadilac where Bre was a jag sports car. I liked my sports car but these days a caddy is a little more my speed. Hopefully we will be able to string a course together next weekend!!
Sunday, May 11, 2014
When trainer was riding the spotted beast she used an ergonomic girth. He really seemed to like it. I did some reading and they make sense. For such a big oaf he's a sensitive guy so I wanted to invest in one of my own. None of my long girths were quite the right length so I needed a new one anyone. My first stop is always Ashley over at Diamond in the Rough Saddlery. She often has what I need used. She did have an ergonomic dressage but no long girths. She directed me to the shoulder relief girth at totalsaddlefit.com. She had seen one in person and said they were high quality and half the cost of the big name anatomics
At the time they didn't have long girths and I ended up getting one from horze.com. I sent it back immediately. The top leather was so stiff it would have cut into him. Lo and behold just as I sent the other one back the long girths came out at shoulder relief! I've been riding in it for over a month. It's fantastic! The elastic is thick brown. It won't show stains and isn't going to wear out. The girth is plenty wide and the part next to the horse is soft calfskin. I love it and Dickie does too! We've been in the wet outdoor and it still looks brand new.
If you don't like the girth they offer a 110% guarantee. If you are itching to try an anatomic girth but can't cough up $250 bucks you will be more than happy with this girth. Heck even if you could afford the spendy one you will be happy with this girth. They even offer a discount on two girths. You can get two for the price of a brand name girth!
Here is the website:
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
My friend and I decided to go school at the only barn with xc jumps open in our area. I stalked Forest Reach stables online and it looked like a gorgeous place to check out. It's pretty wet around here so not much is open. I wasn't sure if I would jump anything. I wanted to take him to a strange place, go on some trails, see scary things, and go through the water obstacle. After leaving the barn two hours late and getting lost for 30 mins we arrived. I expected Dickie to be sweaty and worried (we were on the road for over an hour). He was dry as a bone and perfectly happy. He's decided her mare is the coolest buddy around and his haynet was filled with straight alfalfa. Hot lady and food, that's all you need for happiness.
He snorted a bit when he first stepped out but overall did great. Other horses walked by and even a little dog came up to visit.
He wanted to say hi but is starting to accept being tethered to a trailer. I've tied him a few times back home and he gets better every time. Rosie tried to act like Dickie annoyed her but ended up eating out of the same haynet.
I was so proud of his manners while we tacked up. He's not known for his patience so it suprises me how well he tolerated being tied with so much cool stuff going on.
They don't have a long course but there's a great loop around the property. At the back of the property they've built some fantastic cross country jumps. They have several ditches, a big water feature, banks, logs, and a huge to die for outdoor.
Two gracious young riders led us to the jumps and gave us a tour. Is was the first time he's been to another arena and the first time he's going out in a group. I was suprised when he got a bit jiggy and wanted to be in front. I have to admit I was happy that Dickie is finally starting to show his competitive tb side. Despite wanting to go in front he listened and went in the middle of the pack.
The footing was a tad wet but my friend was able to jump everything and her horse looked solid. She was loving it. Dickie and I worked on being in another arena and listening even though there were scary things. There are jumps around the edge if the arena so you can jump and out. There is also a mini grand stand with bleachers and a roof. Plenty of things to be afraid of. He looked at them all and tried to llama neck quite a bit but never tuned me out or spooked.
I would be lying if I said he was an angel about the water. I had to get off and trudge through it the first time. In my grand wisdom I went with half chaps instead of tall boots so I ended up soaked almost to my knees. He tried to tell me he couldn't do it once I got back on. I called his bluff because when I walked him in he was splashing and drinking the water. Didn't behave the least bit scared. Pretty red mare led the way and finally he would go in without hesitating.
I didn't jump anything because he was behaving so great. Getting him through the water was enough. We went through parts of our dressage test and cantered both ways. We even did some canter circle figure 8s trotting ten strides or so for the lead change. That was a huge change for him considering a month ago he was still being pissy about canter period.
We got off to a rough start but it ended up being a wonderful day. It was a dream come true to load up the horse I broke myself and go on an adventure with an awesome horsey friend. I'm feeling much more confident about our show in two weeks. He was so easy to handle and I
didn't even have to lunge him first!
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Up until now we haven't done a ton of cantering. This winter he thought cantering in the arena was very hard for baby horses. We could do the long sides fine and dandy but we could get discombobulated once a corner appeared. Other than getting the basic canter command down I left it alone for the most part. I wanted to give him a chance to grow into his big galumpy legs and build up some muscle. Then we took time off from cantering to work on his quads at the suggestion of the vet. She suggested taking two weeks off of the canter and we ended up giving it a month. He's far more balanced now. He can actually do a 20 meter circle without sputtering out. He isn't super snappy about picking up the canter but you can feel him think about it right away and get organized. And there isn't a whisper of a donkey kick disagreement.
|I'm ground tie. That isn't a step you see me taking, I'm just stretching...|
I signed up for a little combined training show (dressage + stadium) for a WT and WTC division. We have been trotting through the beginner novice tests but I decided to actually try the canter. Cantering where ever and stopping whenever are easy enough but being organized to get it done at the right spot is harder than it looks!! The test is essentially trot down the centerline, take a left, trot circle in center of the arena, pick up canter in the corner to a 20m circle, trot by the next corner, free walk across diagonal, repeat going the other way....... Entry level WTC tests always look so easy but Dickie says it is hard to pay attention for that long!!
|I will ground tie but I refuse to refrain from watching you at all times.|
Thursday we worked on the the centerline to center trot circle to canter. He's still pretty reluctant to go forward and turn (at canter) so we started out by just getting the canter where we needed it, leaving out the circle, and lengthening on the long sides. Once he decided that cantering was actually pretty dang fun we managed a few trot circle to canter circle to downward transition. I finished on some big canter around the arena just to make sure he was still confident about moving forward. Weak stifles make circle work hard so I want to make sure I give him the chance to feel confident. Things won't be pretty this show season but I am starting to feel like our tests might not be riddles with 0s anywhere than asks for canter.
|Mule or horse?|
Monday, May 5, 2014
One of my double posts yesterday gave an stifle update. This was actually from a few weeks ago. On his first trim post vet appt we added shoes. I had hoped to leave him shoeless this season and I really wish I could be one of the happily barefoot horse owners. Dickie actually has pretty tough feet and they grow a good amount between trims. However, he just goes better with shoes. His front feet grow a ton between trims and start to flare. And his hind feet wear down to nothing. They don't rub so much they make him sore the angles aren't quite right for his lose stifles. He put shoes on Dickie six weeks ago and it has made a HUGE difference. The plan is to square off his toes a bit and having the shoes on has given him enough hoof to make needed changes. I know some people think shoes are the devil. What I know is I put hind shoes on and immediately my horse is happier.
Dickie hasn't kicked out in disagreement going forward or cantering since two weeks after the vet came. Our trot either used to be forward and fast but not slow and forward. I can finally get him to use his rear regardless of how "fast" we are actually going. Sometimes his walk is even swingy enough that it helps loosen up my gimpy hip. A few lessons ago I was super sore and riding with my head a few feet up my arse. He totally took over and helped me through some polework.
We have been working up to actually jumping a little cross rail course. Last week was five trot poles down the long side (raised on blocks), two trot poles on the diagonal (one only four feet wide), and three trot poles on the other diagonal. We cantered away from the diagonals. Usually I help him keep straight but now he needs to keep himself organized for the last five strides or so. He's doing such a good job. He knows the routine. Go between the two white standards, keep yourself in the very middle. I know it sounds simple but he's only four. Lot's of pounding over fences is pointless. Learning how to think for himself and go wherever I point him are lessons that will serve us well for the rest of his career.
This week things will get a little more exciting. I need to actually take him over a few jumps in a row since our first show is coming up in only a few weeks.
Sunday, May 4, 2014
Life has been crazy for me so I've been a bad blogger. Usually I'm at least reading my fave blogs and I haven't even done that. Fortunatley I've still been riding so at least I'm not a total loser.
My saddle saga has continued but I think it's finally over. The last time I blogged I picked up a gorgeous Black Country Ricochet for a song. It had grippy leather upgrades and wasn't even broken in. It made me feel like a tiger up there. It was snug on Dickie and I knew I would have to part with it in the not so distant future. Trainer wanted to borrow it because a student had a new horse and was deciding which saddle model she wanted. It fit her horse (fully grown and properly muscled) perfect. I decided I might as well sell it now and get a wider tree. She loved it and if I waited it might take me a bit to sell it. The replacement came Thursday and it's like it was made for Dickie. ITS A MEDIUM WIDE! Wtf? Who is this horse? The medium BC quantum sat on his withers at Xmas. The color isn't quite right but I can fix that. My hip is thrilled to be back in a ricochet after using my older back up saddles for a few weeks. If you are looking for a new jump saddle check out the black countries. They break in easily but the leather is tougher than the other quick to break in saddles. Advanced riders love them. And best of all far from advanced lilly liveried out of shape lose legged people like me feel steady in them. Usually cushy recliner chair feeling jump saddles make me feel trapped but I feel like I can get out of the saddle when I need to.
Dickie continues to improve every day. Some rides are better than others of course but overall we just keep truckig along. He's turning into such a happy and agreeable saddle horse. His appy moments are few and far between (more on that soon). It is crazy to look back at where we were a year ago. I was barely riding him because he couldn't pay attention for more than five minutes.