Monday, August 31, 2020

Virtual Tevis Week 4: Robinson Flat And Beyond

 Life is not slowing down at all around here and I'm worn out. 

Last week's Tevis attempt didn't go as planned. We managed two walks in the neighborhood at night but the second one was cut way short when our neighbors ambushed us and held us hostage for over an hour. I've managed to not meet any neighbors except those at the top of our property for nearly 3 years now and have lived in blissful solitude this entire time. Yeah, I know I'm real nice like that but folks, I'm naturally introverted and spend all my day small talking with strangers and it wears me out mentally. At night all I really want to do is throw my ear buds in and lose myself in the effort of walking and trying not to embarrass myself by singing out loud to my favorite tunes. 

No hiking pictures this week. Instead here is Fluffzilla after his grooming appointment Friday. He always comes back looking like a different dog

Anyway...walking the same route at nearly the same time must have caught the attention of the neighbors in the neighborhood nearby and one night last week as we went down the hill out came a neighbor lady nearly running to stop us. At first I though something was wrong but nope....she wanted to be nosy and started asking all sorts of not really her business questions like what animals do we have, what do we do on the farm, what upgrades are we planning, oh you own a medical practice...are you is a laundry list of my qualifications...sure you aren't hiring...etc...Just as I thought we were going to extricate ourselves from this encounter another neighbor showed up with his wife and everything started over again. 

Meanwhile, my extroverted and much more friendly husband was having the time of his life chatting it up with the men who weren't using it to gather data or try to get a job. Sigh. By the time we finished it was dark and past Wyatt's bed time so the walk was cut way short.

We managed to catch back up on Saturday though with a relaxing 5 mile urban hike in downtown. We hadn't been to the city since before COVID started back in March. Wyatt rode his bike along the urban trail between downtown city center and the zoo. The weather was gorgeous if a bit hot still.

Stopping for sushi while on a hike is never a bad thing

By the end of the week were were sitting at 42 miles and had made it past the first vet check hold at Robinson Flat. I had hoped to make it to the half way point, but this is proving more challenging than I thought since Wyatt has returned to school. Still we are 11 miles up on the bare minimum so I am pleased with that. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Teaching "Lameness"

Saturday morning I tacked Eeyore up figuring we could at least walk around for a bit and stretch ourselves out. For completeness sake I will say here that I have been dealing with some pretty significant depression all summer which has zapped all my motivation to do much beyond be irrationally angry or cry all the time. My head hasn't been a great place to be in for several months now. I have an answer to it and a treatment plan which I'm glad to finally have after several doctors had written me off and refused to take the time to listen. Hoping that relief comes soon.


Eeyore felt really great going right, his bad direction, but when we switched and went left at the trot he felt near head bobbing lame on his good left front leg. On the verge of yet more tears, I went right again and let him canter because if he was broken why the hell not? He cantered just fine and when we went back to the left he felt normal so we cantered left too. Now confused about what was going on, I texted Trainer AB to see if she had time Sunday to hop on him and figure out if it was a me or Eeyore issue.

Fluffzilla joined us to play in the puddles on Saturday. I told Eeyore "Fluff is having more fun than you"

Trainer AB hopped on him Saturday and put him through his paces a bit then looked at me and said he was fine...maybe it was a me issue? She had me hop on (I had thankfully planned on this being an option so I had dressed in riding clothes and brought my helmet) and uh..yeah it was me. 

Ever since rehab began I have been dealing with a very different Eeyore. Pre rehab his response to life in general was to CANTER! GO FASTER! WEE ISN'T LIFE FUN! and so my rides were focused on slowing his roll, balancing him and getting him to relax without the constant anticipation of potential canter work. Apparently the never ending walk and trot rides did just that - too well. Now he was sucking way back behind my leg and barely moving so what I thought was a lameness issue was really a lack of forward issue and what I was feeling in his trot was a more vertical choppy motion as he sucked way back. 

Once I booted his butt forward he felt lovely. 

Took him for a short ride through the woods behind her arena after the lesson. It felt nice to be in the woods again

This was then the theme of the ride. Trainer AB said he was being extra tricky because even with her onboard his response to her aides wasn't correct. Anytime she touched the reins, he'd go "ok...I'll stop then" and dive to the forehand and let his legs go out the back of him. He would use that as an excuse to not collect up at all so she'd have to keep her hands steady and boot him forward. He is a smart cookie and picked it up quickly with her but then it was starting all over with me. 

This was particularly apparent in down transitions where he'd just plop on his face and call it quits. Keeping him moving in a trot after a canter was next to impossible. Part of this was my doing. I was so OCD about his rehab that at exactly 2 minutes, when my timer went off, we would walk again. He quickly learned the buzzer sound and would slam to a halt and since it was 2 minutes I did nothing to keep him going because I was told 2 minutes and I refused to go a single step beyond that. I should have kept him trotting for another 10 -15 seconds, but oh well. Hindsight. 

So anyway..once I got his feet in front of him and his weight shifted back a bit things felt good. We began canter work to the right which has been tricky to get lately. I have the tendency to lean into the canter which isn't correct and is worse going right. Well he picked it up just fine but then dropped to a trot before I asked and then refused to get it again. I did what I generally do which is to slow his trot back down, rebalance and ask again which can take a few circles to get. Well, AB said nope...pony club kick him if I need to but get that canter right away. Even if it is ugly. She said that he knew full well what I was asking him for, he knew it was the canter cue and was just not doing it. Like I said, he is a smart cookie and she said that he knows that he will get to slow down, trot and get out of it so make him canter NOW.

He broke his beautiful teal halter so no he gets the back up mustache one until I get to the store

It was ugly, but he gave in and we cantered around nicely. He was blowing pretty hard at that point even though it had been all of 15 minutes of work time. We took him to the hose to get cooled down before returning to the ring for the left canter. He picked the canter up nicely but was very stuck behind my leg. Trainer AB said "Good boy" and he let out a series of huge bucks. Good thing he is as wide as a couch and easy to sit. AB told me that again his legs get going backwards. He heard the GOOD BOY and celebrated but since all his weight was on the forehand and his hind legs were running out the back of him, he had every chance to playfully buck. 

The end analysis - MORE FORWARD. MORE LEG. No excuses. He is sound, he is capable and he knows what I am asking of him. Of course he is also a very large and out of shape potato and I have to be careful not to push his cardiovascular system too far or he won't be able to do it. To that end I have acquired a heart rate monitor from a fellow endurance rider and will be using it for a while on my rides to ensure that I'm asking enough but not too much of the Orange Beast. Come September I am allowed to add trails and ground poles back into my life so that should really help as well. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

Virtual Tevis Week 3: Red Star Ridge

Not a whole lot of excitement in our mileage this week. Wyatt started his new school and had a doctors appointment mid week which limited what we could accomplish. 

Still we managed to make it past Red Star and are sitting at 33 miles, 10 miles more than absolutely necessary.

Pretty much every mile was done around the house with the exception of Friday when we drove to the local track so he could ride his bike. A random rooster decided to show up and crow at us with every lap which added some excitement. 

He was a beautiful rooster. No idea where he came from as this is a sports complex with nothing really around it. He seemed well fed and happy though.

Then on our Sunday walk around the nearby neighborhood our good neighbor friend happened to drive by in his way home and stopped to say hi. He then invited us over to meet the baby deer they rescued when it’s mom was killed by a car. 

As we finished the walk I thought how amazing life truly is. You really never know what adventure is waiting for you when you leave your house. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

It Has Been Quiet For A Reason

The blog has been rather quiet lately because....well because Eeyore is lame again. And I just can't handle it at the moment.

His vet check had gone so well the end of July with the green light to put him in small turnout and to begin canter work again. I rode that same day with Trainer AB and she said he was moving the best he ever has. 

Reusing media because that’s all I have in me

I continued the short canter set work at home just as prescribed by substituting the middle trot set with canter work making sure I went both directions and limited it to 5 minutes total which honestly I didn't even do a full 5 minutes at first choosing to slowly work up to it. 

He was happy to go left from the get go but the right lead was sticky which it never has been. He's been tricky in a lot of ways but getting the lead has never been an issue. He did pick it up but it was hard to do and he quickly dropped back to a trot instead. Again, not like him. 

At first I thought it was a weakness issue but it has persisted and now he has a small amount of swelling back in the right front leg. I jogged him on the line the other day and while he is not head bobbing he is most certainly NQR. Sigh. 

And honestly? I'm about to give up. I don't even know anymore. He is now back on full stall rest with a standing wrap (had left the wrap off during the day in the pasture and wrapped him in Fat Camp overnight), the farrier is due out this week and I will ask him if he sees anything, and then I don't know. We are supposed to be on limitless flat work come September 1st but yeah...doesn't look like that is going to happen. 

I know horses suck. I know I got really lucky with Gem being completely sound for 10 years of riding and competition. I know none of his injuries have occurred while riding. They all happen from stupid ass pasture injuries. I know. It doesn't make it suck any less to have this horse in my yard that I adore and who will not stay sound. I've had him a little over 2 years and for more than half that time he has been hurt or in rehab. 

If we didn't have 3 other retired horses I'd give up on him and get another horse to ride. But even that isn't a good answer because the dude loves to be ridden, loves to explore, loves to jump. He is only 10 (maybe 9 but I think 10) and he can't be a pasture puff for the next 20 years. I'm debating selling him if I can get him sound to sell. I'd be 100% honest about him and his time with me. I really think he'd do better in a different situation. He loves being in his stall and thrives off a busy barn yard plus he does better with more frequent riding than I can give him so I think he'd do amazing at a busy lesson facility with individual turnout for short periods. Its the life style he came from and I think maybe the semi feral 24/7 outdoor large acre pasture lifestyle isn't suiting him. 

Eating my depression away like Eeyore

But ya know - who would by a highly accident prone horse with a heart murmur? I don't know. 

And it sucks because the year he spent sound and happy? It was AMAZING! He took me over jumps I never thought I'd jump. He built my confidence up and dared me to dream. And now he remains lame and I'm so done with it all. 

I have no current plan beyond back to stall rest, have the farrier look at him, back down to walk work only and re evaluate in 2 weeks. If no better we will re appoint with the vet and see what is going on. Until then I'm concentrating on getting Wyatt's school year off to a great start, realigning my business goals and hiking my blues away.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Virtual Tevis Week 2: Passing Cougar Rock and Lyon Ridge

Life sure changed quickly on me last week. Phew! 

A cloudy sky

I received a call Tuesday at 4 pm that a spot opened up at a private school and Wyatt was next on the list if we still wanted it. The catch? School started today and we had to do a parent orientation, fill out a 9 page application, have Wyatt get an academic evaluation and then meet his teacher all before school started. It was a very hectic end to the week. By the time Friday rolled around I had not made it home from work before 8pm since that Monday and I was exhausted.

Before the rain hit

It also made it really hard to get our walks in. Wyatt had his awards drive by ceremony for cub scouts Wednesday evening at a local park, so we brought the dogs and snuck in 2 miles there, but other than that we didn't make any headway all week. 

Soaking wet from the rain that made it through the tree cover

Then the weekend came and Saturday dawned rainy. I was supposed to received 84 bales of hay that morning but the guy canceled to avoid it getting wet in transport. This left us with a free morning, so we packed a lunch along with plenty of water and headed back up north to tackle Vaughn's Gap - a 7 mile out and back with 1500' elevation gain in the first 3.6 miles. 

It was the coolest hiking experience of my life. 

We started off with cloudy skies that would intermittently sprinkle on us. The tree cover was thick enough at the lower elevation to block most of it and honestly the cooler temps and light rain felt nice as we trudges ever upward. 

Straight up with no complaints except from my legs, lungs and heart

Eventually we climbed higher than the trees and got pretty soaked, but by that point we were all hot and tired from the exertion and didn't really care. 

The coolest part? We climbed above the clouds and out of the rain. By the time we reached the top of Vaughn's Gap, a ridge dividing the taller Hogback Mountain and Rocky Spur, we broke into sunshine and blue skies. We stopped for a breather and some lunch before starting the trek back down all of us thankful that the climb up was behind us. 

Almost made it to the top and this rock looked perfect for a nap

As we made our way back under the clouds we noticed rivers of rain water where there hadn't been on the way up. Our timing had been perfect. We had made it above the cloud cover right before the deluge hit and were now back under it after it had passed. Seriously the coolest thing I've done on a hike. 

Looking like a drowned rat

I was so damn proud of Wyatt for doing that hike. The last mile was nearly straight up, it was muddy from the rain and I know plenty of adults who couldn't have done it. 

Then on Sunday the hay came bright and early. We had plans to meet up with new friends and do another hike, this time 2 miles of easy mostly flat local trails mid morning and busted our butts to stack it all before we needed to leave. I was surprised Wyatt had enough energy to do it, but having a friend along made it all that much better. We ended up going out for pizza after and it was the absolute perfect way to spend a Sunday.

After that hike we were 27 miles along the Tevis trail having conquered Cougar Rock and passed the trot by vet check at Lyon Ridge. The next stop isn't that far ahead and this week we only have one scheduled appointment after school/work which should make getting smaller miles at home easier. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Virtual Tevis Week 1: Watson's Monument

 So many people and bloggers are participating in this COVID induced event. It makes me really happy to see all the updates from people out there plugging away mile by mile. The list of participants is varied ranging from endurance riders who got the entire thing done the first weekend via the Big Horn 50/10 to others are slowly chipping away one mile at a time in the arena or even some who have young horses they are hand walking. I love seeing all the updates fill my feed. 

Some of the wild flowers I saw along the hike on Sunday

For the most part, participants are being supportive of everyone an their level of effort. As is always the case, there are those who seem to be taking this virtual challenge a little too seriously. I mean, the end result is a t-shirt and you have 100 days to complete. There is no prize for finishing first. Yet on the first day there was someone from Australia who posted a screen shot of the "leader board" saying that they were winning and it created a maelstrom of comments about how it wasn't fair because it wasn't August 1st yet here in the States. I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. Calm down folks. There are also a handful of people demanding real Tevis buckles instead of the sticker version at the completion. Sigh. I guess they assume riding a mile at a time on local trails is the equivalent of battling 900 others down a mountainous, rocky, dusty trail with a 24 hour window. 

The trail wound around 2 lakes with beautiful views

But in general things are pleasant and fun. I love seeing all the different breeds participating, those from around the world and those on foot. 

Wyatt desperately wanted to climb those mountains in the background. I did some research and found the trail head and we will tackle that next weekend

As for me, I’m doing it on foot in the non rider division. I debated entering Eeyore since we are putting in 2-3 miles in the arena per ride and could accomplish the goal within the time frame of 100 days, but Wyatt heard me talking about it and got really excited so instead we are doing it as a family. 

Fluff is the perfect hiking companion and was basically born leash trained. I've never had a dog behave better and he is only 7 months old with no formal training. 

At bare minimum we have to log 1 mile per night. There is a nice little 2 mile loop from our driveway that I like to do in the evenings to unwind from work and stretch the legs and Wyatt has now been joining me on those walks to get the miles in.

Fuffzilla enjoyed the walk with us. 

Week one has seen us putting in several nights on the little loop by my house after dinner. One evening we got caught in a downpour on the way back but other than that it’s been uneventful. Two days we drove to an outdoor track by the house so he could ride his bike while Dusty and I walked.While going around an oval 8 times isn't my favorite way to log miles, it was nice for Wyatt to get a change of pace. 

Love my little family

We were sitting pretty nicely mileage wise come the weekend with only 3 miles remaining to hit the first milestone at Watson's Monument. A local hike on new to us trails saw that goal achieved Sunday. The virtual site emailed me a nice badge and some information about the location once I logged the miles which was a nice little pick me up. I'm excited to reach the next milestone though at the moment I'm not sure where that is along the trail. I will find out as we go! 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Eeyore Update!!!

Friday was a good day. Eeyore had his final vet check for his right front annular ligament tear and it was all good news. He has healed "remarkably well" per the vet and we got the green light to begin canter work. The vet wants rehab to continue slowly progressing forward through August and then come September we can return to full, untimed flatwork to my hearts content. Which is funny since I have ridden way more during his rehab than I ever did before it. If all stays quiet in the leg we can return to simple easy fences with soft approaches in October working towards full course work in November. 

In a rare bout of optimism I had scheduled a lesson with AB for right after the vet appointment since she is only 1 exit away from the office. I figured that even if we could only walk and trot at least I'd get some eyes on the ground for the first time with him since April. The lesson was very much not exciting which is exactly the way I wanted it. We walked and trotted around and he was such a Good Boy. He was relaxed, happy and moving great. AB had nothing but good things to say and I was proud of the work we have put in throughout the summer. 

Then we put in our first canter strides since April and homeboy was EXCITED OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER. AB laughed at how happy he was to finally canter again as I wrestled him into some semblance of balance around the arena. We only did two circuits around the arena to the left, walked for a long time, trotted to the right a bit then cantered twice around to the right. Neither one of us wanted to stress him and I am still limited to 30 minutes only for this month. I think the lesson was 26 minutes and 95% of that was at the walk. 

It was good to be in a lesson again and feeling like we are moving forward. 

Then yesterday I finally finished the tack room to the point of moving on to another barn project. I want to add some pictures to the walls and decorate a bit but that is low priority and will happen as things pop up that I think will suit the area. I decided to 100% steal Liz's idea of doing a video tour of the space and made the mistake of filming in front of Eeyore's stall.

Here was the result:

I'll post the rest of the video tour tomorrow probably. Its long because what started as the tack room turned into the entire barn because I talk a lot and figured why not show the rest of it too. 

Anyway...happy Monday.