A Whole Lot of I Dont Wanna

Friday rolls around. Its my day to go riding. Except I’m feeling like I really really don’t want to. But I’m also getting free weekly rides. I don’t want to be a burden by asking to change the day. But I also don’t want to not ride for two weeks. So I get my butt out to the barn, all prepared to ride. ‘I’ll just do a short w/t/c ride.’ I tell myself.

Uno was really good for getting out and grooming. He’s a head tosser so he normally fidgets a lot while being groomed. He also isn’t a fan of brushing, even with the softest body brush so I usually get some nasty looks. He didn’t even do that. I was tentatively hopeful that he would continue that mood into the ride.

I got on and we went for a warm up walk around the barn. I liked doing that on Scarlet and Uno does move out better so I’m going to try doing it with him as well. He was fine for our walk.

I decided to work in the dressage arena for a little change. I didn’t want to jump and figured it would be good to work in other places. Plus it gives me the extra challenge of having to keep him straight without a fence.

After a bit of walking, I asked for a trot. Walk to trot transition is always very hard. The first transition is even worse. Uno just does not want to move forward. So I decided that we’ve had enough rides together. I need to start being more insistent and not let him get away with disrespecting the aids. So when squeeze/kick and cluck didn’t get any reaction, I started tapping with the dressage whip. Tap, tap, tap. I’m going to tap until you respond, getting more insistent with each tap.

He was NOT happy.

He exploded and tried to buck. I pulled his head around to my knee and spun him in a circle, insisting that he transition right after. We got the transition but it was so bad. Such a slow fake jog. The majority of the ride consisted of me having to get after him every moment of the ride in order to get him to move even the tiniest bit more forward at the trot.

Once I did achieve a forward, the next battle was canter. He wanted to fast trot. I said no and we had another battle with proper trot canter transitions. And then we talked about simple changes off the diagonal. We did end the ride after a good change each direction. But definitely not an easy wtc ride.

I found out from Holly that he hadn’t been ridden for a week before I got on. So he was actually quite the good boy for me.

I’m still going to insist on the trot much more forcefully in future rides. He can trot when and where I say he needs to.

Hock Sores

Putting this picture here so there are no graphic pics as the thumbnails on feeds

Scarlet has been getting some pretty bad hock sores. I think its a combination of the ground getting really hard from the dry hot summer and him no longer really having the nerve control to bend and lower himself gently to the ground. I definitely don’t want constant open wounds on him but its a bit difficult to stop. 

I added some bedding to his stall to try to keep the ground a bit softer. I also purchased Samsheild hock boots. Scarlet hates things on his hind legs so he was really really upset when I first put them on. I forced him to walk a circle around the stall for treats in order to check to make sure that he could walk when needed. He did it with protests and weird leg movements but he did it. 

These things suck mom!

While the hock boots definitely worked and I saw good progress, it was very very unlikely that I would come out and see both boots on and in their correct positions. He’d turn them around, take them off completely or manage to make them slide down his leg to be covering his hoof instead of his hock. Even when he did that, it seemed like he would leave them in place until after he rolled or slept. 

But after wearing them 24/7 for several weeks, it became obvious that the straps were rubbing the front part of his legs. I don’t really want to exchange one wound for another. So I thought that the hock sores had healed enough to leave the boots off for a bit in order to try to head off the rubs becoming actual wounds. I’ve looked for other options but there really don’t seem to be any style of hock cover that actually covers the point of the hock rather than being a support for the hock joint so I seem to be stuck with what I have. 

Getting better

Right after I took off the boots, Scarlet decided that he had too much hair on his right hind leg. He scalped and scrapped a bit of his leg. I couldn’t figure out where/how he did it. There’s nothing in his stall that seemed correct. Maybe his hooves where they’d chipped a bit since his shoes were removed. Whatever actually caused it, he wasn’t lame or even really injured. Nothing needed stitches. I just cleaned it and put some medicine on the two scratches. 

He did develop a bit of a swelling around the area that had the deepest of the two cuts. There was no real pus and the cut looked fine the entire time. The swelling didn’t grow much and would sometimes go down after our walks so I just kept an eye on it to make sure nothing got worse. It’s healing nicely now with a lot of hair in the scalped parts already. 

Since part of the scalped part looked like it would interfere with the strap, I left the hock boots off. But, obviously, the hock sores have made their return. So I will be putting those back on. But if anyone has any suggestions of hock boots that are other shapes that might not cause the same strap rubs that my current ones do, I am all ears. Or eyes since it’s a blog comment. 

Trails, jumpies, and goofballs

So a week ago Sunday, Holly and I ended up riding together. I rode Uno for a while until he was all warmed up while Holly worked Bugs. After that, I got to take a quick spin on Bugs. He is about 16.3 so I didn’t even try to get on from the ground. He feels super narrow compared to Uno. His trot is lovely. It was nice to ride something that I didn’t have to shove forward. He does have a whoa, but it was super easy to go forward when I wanted. He’s still got a steering problem and he gave a bit of a squeal and tried to run off with me but otherwise was a very good boy.

After I did a bit of trotting and cantering (I could have kept trotting around forever on him. It wasn’t the smoothest trot in the world but it was smooth and super easy.) Holly and I switched back. Then we went for a trail ride together! Just around the base of the hills but it was nice to spend time with my friend.

Sweaty boys

Scarlet did very well this week. He probably got about two days off. I normally give him a day off but he’s at a point where having multiple days off is fine. Less fine if they are successive days but these weren’t. We are still doing three steps over poles but I’ve been increasing the walking. We’ve gone a bit out onto the trail. He’s obviously not mentally changed as he’s been getting snorty and very up when we hit the trail. He will get better with more time out there. We are up to about 22.5 minutes now.

My goober horse. Look at how good he is moving!

Uno’s ride this week was pretty good. We started with a five minute walk around the barn. He was a bit more reluctant to get back in the arena but he did it. I think I’m getting a bit more response from him now. Moving out at the trot was hard still but we got the trot transition quicker. His canter was much better from the start. That may be him being good or it may be me realizing what his forward jumping canter needs to be. Or a combination of both. After a good warm up, we hopped over a few very small fences. It went much better from the start as we had a good canter going in. I ended with another lap around the barn. I was pretty pleased with that ride and hope that the improvement is indicative of our future.

Bugs is pretty good at selfies. A plus for when he is for sale.

Holly was out of town this weekend so I turned out her boys for her. Neither really wanted to do anything other than roll which was fun. But dealing with all the horses had me out at the barn for almost 4 hours on Friday. Luckily I had the day off of work for World Mental Health Day (they gave it to us last minute) so I had plenty of time. I don’t know how anyone would do it with a 9-5 job but I would love to have three horses to care for if I had a more flexible schedule job.

Uno enjoying some sun time.

It’s been really great to have so much positive barn time lately. Seeing Scarlet do well is great. He can walk fine, he’s doing other things when given the chance and he’s definitely very happy. Riding, even with a horse that isn’t a great match for me, has been great for me. I think I will have more tools in the future to use and I’m definitely getting a work out. The positive barn time is also helping me mentally. I haven’t had any really really bad days in the last week or so. Not fully improved, just better than before. And better is… well better. 🙂

Status of Me

So I’m doing more or less well. Not as great as Scarlet. Fighting off a bit of depression that isn’t made better by the world in general. But my day to day is generally okay.

I had a breakdown recently(mental state related) and realized I need to actually face whatever was happening with me. I talked to some friends and talked to my husband. I haven’t taken the step to go to therapy. It’s still on the table but I just haven’t moved to that step. I seem to have been doing okay the last few weeks. I think just acknowledging it gave me the room to not beat myself up over not being able/motivated to do the things I wanted to do.

My office (bonus cat)

We are still working from home, which I appreciate right now. It removes a little bit of mental and physical effort from my day which allows me to save it for other things. My work recently extended our wfh until the end of March. However, my office had two products and one of those products was recently sold along with the office. So unless we manage to buy/lease a new office and get it all set up in the next 6 months (not likely) my office will be wfh for longer.

Gorgeous 10m old girl!

Lina is loving me working from home. She’s becoming a pretty good office dog in that she has figured out how to lay next to me and sleep. She does want time to play with me which isn’t always available. Especially recently as work has picked up. I do try to make sure she gets some time during my lunch hour in addition to her walks in the morning and night. But she’s still young so sometimes she wants more.

She likes to act as a mat/slippers for me. Not the best when its still warm here in SoCal. But she’s so cute. ❤

I am glad that I have all my animals though. Even when Lina is tapdancing on my last nerve (often), its great to be around them. I get to see all my animals every day and spend some quality time with them all before starting work. I also do not have to rush through any of their care because I can just sit down at my desk and I’m at work in moments.

I’m able to do long activities like the dog park in the morning.

One of the things my depression is causing problems with is writing. That is something that take a lot of effort and frankly, I haven’t had the energy. It is frustrating me and I’m trying to push myself with also understanding that some days aren’t going to work. I’ve at least gotten back to the place where I’ve got story ideas brewing in my head, instead of just silence.

I have been able to read a lot. Reading doesn’t take the same effort that creating does. Lots have been rereads of good books or chunks of books that make me smile. Lots of romance books. Romance always gives a nice dopamine payoff at the end. And since I’m working from home, its very easy to access all my books during a break at work/lunch etc.

I do think that even with my personal trials, being stuck at home is a lot easier for me than others. I didn’t do a whole lot of going out anyway. I’m missing the handful of friends I used to see and I’m missing going out to restaurants. But I will happily stay home if it keeps those I care about and those I don’t safe. So be safe out there people. Stay smart.

An Update on How We Stand

Scarlet has been doing really well with walking recently. There was a period when I was not motivated enough to really try to do more than the daily walk. I did manage to shake off that and continue improving his walk. He’s been gaining a lot of strength and increasing his time. We’ve managed to increase our walks up to 20ish minutes and walking over three poles. The poles are about 12 ft apart still but he’s able to get over them all pretty perfectly now. I’m planning on moving them closer so that its a bit less time to recover in order to challenge him. 

I’m taking him on a whole loop around the property as well as two laps in the jump arena. At this point, it would be super boring to just add more random loops around the barn. I want to continue increasing the distance though. I don’t know how wet this winter will get but I want to set Scarlet up for it as much as I possibly can. If he is stronger and able to walk for a longer time, it will be easier for him to recover while slipping on mud. 

We both are terrible at selfies

But since I’m running out of space to meander around the barn, I’m thinking about tackling the trail. If we can continue on the trail, there is some hill work that we could be doing that might help with getting his nerves to work harder and recover more. 

I think I need to get new shoes to walk around the barn with before I take on the full trail. My old tennis shoes are getting really really worn. I’ve noticed that my feet have been a bit sore recently. I was considering getting short boots but I also don’t really want anything with a flat sole that would work for riding. I want some grip on my feet so I’m not sliding on the sand or anything. Im going to try looking at what my local tack store has available when I go get grain next. 

While walking, we’ve been adding in a roll in the back arena whenever I have time in the morning. Scarlet has really been loving it. Some days he just stands by the gate and doesn’t really want to roll. That’s fine. I end up taking him back to his stall without a fuss. But when he rolls, he really gets into it. He used to always roll over and scratch both sides. But he can’t always get there after his nerve issues started. He still tries though and sometimes looks like he’s going to get stuck on his back. It’s quite funny. He is doing a pretty good job rising on his own still. That always makes my heart happy. When he can’t do that is when its going to be time to say goodbye. 

What does and doesn’t make my heart happy is how he goes nuts after he gets up from a roll! Almost every time he has rolled in the past month he has gotten up and then bolted into a canter. On one hand, he feels awesome and wants to show it. That’s amazing! On the other, stop running! You don’t have the coordination to to do that without potentially hurting yourself. Dang it horse! I can’t manage to get too upset though. He just feels so good. 

The Borrowed Horse

While I wish Scarlet had a chance to heal, I am grateful that he is healthy enough to just be around. But I am missing riding like mad. Every time I go out to the barn and see people riding around, a pang of envy hits me. When the jumps get moved around, I can’t help but imagine how much fun it would be to make a new course out of that configuration. It’s been difficult. 

Holly has been awesome enough to offer Uno for some rides. She’s still got her project horse so she’s been focusing on him. She said its hard to always fit two rides in a day and she was happy to have the help. We did one ride where she showed me how she’d been dealing with him. She’s tried to retrain him as he can be a right butt when starting to work. I seemed to get a decent enough response from him so we were good to go. 

Terrible selfie time

After a ride or two, I felt like it was pretty hard to just pull him out whenever. I didn’t want to take too much advantage of her generosity. We worked out a weekly ride schedule. I ride Uno on Friday mornings. I don’t feel as guilty since it’s an established schedule. I’m also feeding her project horse grain in the morning. She hasn’t asked for any sort of payment. I did ask her about it but she said it was fine for now since he wasn’t being ridden consistently anyway. 

So I’ve been riding weekly for about a month. Uno is 100% not my type of ride. Frankly, he’s an ass. He gets pissy when you tell him to work and when you do get him moving, its very sucked back. He is not in pain, he is just a jerk and doesn’t think that he has to listen to you. I complain quietly to myself but I really am the beggar in this situation so I’m not going to do more than joke about him being a butt to Holly. 

We’ve worked through the butthole-ness each ride though. It takes a lot of effort from me. I feel like I’m constantly pushing him forward and working so hard for the smallest amount of effort. Things have gotten better each time, kinda. Not consistently but various things will be easier or I’ll figure out how to cue him better. I have gotten two different people say we are doing/looking good together which makes me feel good. 

I felt good enough about our flat work that I asked Holly if she would mind if we jumped. She was fine with it so last Friday we jumped. Holly happened to be out that morning and lowered some of the jumps for her ride on Bugs. I took advantage of that as I wanted to do some short jumps to get to know Uno before trying anything more with him. He can jump pretty well but I’m still very out of shape. 

The first jump was only a success in the fact that I didn’t fall off. Uno jumped very up and down. I came completely out of the saddle, lost 1.5 stirrups and only remained on due to holding onto the oh shit strap. I caught literally all his mouth and yanked hard. I felt super duper bad. But Holly told me that all I needed was to get him moving a loooooot more forward. 

I tried again and it wasn’t as bad but I still wasn’t stable. I really got after him and started from all the way around the arena. We got a good forward canter going and the jump was much better. I’m definitely not stable in the saddle but I at least didn’t grab his mouth or loose stirrups. 

We hopped over a couple more now that I had the feel of the forward canter and could get it before going over. We did a 7 stride line and a bending line that was about 4 strides. He did very well and it was fun. The bending line was not my plan initially as I was just going to take the single but when Uno angled for the second after the jump I said why not. I let out a little demented giggle after that. I felt very silly but it was nice to jump again. It was nice to ride Uno without feeling like I was fighting him for everything. 

I’m planning on jumping every other ride as I have a very relaxed start time for work every other Friday. I’m very grateful for being able to ride, even if its not the best horse for me. It is helping me gain some more tools for riding as well as helping me make a list of things I do NOT want in a future horse. But mostly I’m just happy to be back in the saddle, regardless of which horse the saddle is on. 

Goodbye Shoes

Given that Scarlet is permanently retired I decided that he really didn’t need his shoes. For one, it’s more expensive for me. He only had front shoes but the cost difference between half shoes and a trim is pretty large. Another aspect is that he would have to balance for less time during a farrier appointment. And I think that bare feet might grip the ground better than shoes. So he might have a chance to walk around longer when the rain starts to come. 

Nekkid toes

I was hesitant to pull the plug because I absolutely love my farrier. He was super good during the very difficult times when Scarlet was having so much trouble balancing that he was going down during appointments. He made it out early in the morning when the barn open first thing so that I could be there without messing with my work schedule. It’s hard to let go of someone who is great like that. 

But the last time he contacted me for Scarlet’s shoeing I knew that I had to tell him. So we talked about it and it turned out to be good for him. I was his only client inland. He mostly worked along the coast and it was pretty difficult for his schedule to come out to me. He was trying to figure out how to tell me that he was going to have to drop me as a client because of that. And I knew that he was already charging me less than his current prices as I was grandfathered in.

So he took Scarlet’s shoes off and gave him a nice trim. He also had two names for me to call who worked more in my area. He trusts both of these people. One was even taught by the same person he was taught by.  He even told me to have them call him so that the handoff can be as smooth as possible. 

I kinda wimped out on calling a new farrier. I’m so bad at phone calls so I just called one of them. Costs for trims don’t vary much. When I asked if he’d worked with neurological horses before he said he had. Just give them a rest occasionally and make sure that they get a bit of help with balancing. So I just decided to hop on that one. Not scheduled yet but he will get back to me with his availability for next week or the week after. Fingers crossed this is a good one. I do have another name as a backup if I feel like this guy isn’t working. Hopefully I don’t have to use it. 

Newness

My barn has decided to put in a full sized dressage arena. On one hand, cool because its always great to have a dressage arena to practice proper circles in. On the other, because it’s full sized, its taking away half of the back parking lot. I’m hoping something is done about that to expand the parking options there as it can get very crowded on the weekend already.

During the construction process, they dug out a lot of the ground where the old arena was. I was really concerned because it looks like a freaking swimming pool. What about water runoff? And I was concerned about how deep the footing was going to need to be to get everything level.

Turns out that’s just a crazy optical illusion from the land around the arena. I spoke with one of the barn ladies who rides dressage. She got the construction workers to show her with their laser level to prove how level it was. Its actually slopped slightly toward where the picture is being taken from. But it looks like that end is so much higher. Crazy!

Too Much Excitement

I was walking Scarlet in the arena on Friday and he tried to sniff the ground like he was looking for a place to roll. I was 100% not going to allow him to do that while I was walking him. So I decided to take him to the back arena for a roll.

I wasn’t able to pull my phone out fast enough to get the whole thing on picture.

He definitely wanted to roll. I wish I’d been able to get the beginning of it in the video. He’s definitely having a bit more trouble bending his hocks to get down. He bent a bit and then just kinda flopped down. He scraped up the point of his hock on his left side. I’ve been noticing that he seemed to be doing that recently but I thought it was due to the bedding getting a bit low. I’d added stuff recently so I was waiting to see how it looked after that.

He’s still able to get up and get down though. I hope that pole work will help him with bending his hocks a bit more but as long as he can get down and get up without seriously injuring himself it should be okay.

I did consider the hock shields but Scarlet really dislikes things on his hind legs. I’d like to see if I can manage them without it. He will pretty much stop moving for a while if fly boots are on his hinds so I imagine he wont like the hock shields much either.

He gave me a heart attack with his romping though. He doesn’t have the balance to be doing that so I was definitely like oh hell no. I do feel bad though. He was so excited to roll. I haven’t taken him to roll in a while. I’ve been afraid to do it. Its not right though. I (literally) apologized to him and said I’ll remember that its not living if you aren’t actually having fun. So I’ll take him to roll more often. I’ll just have to bite my tongue and hope that my heart survives.

Stagnant

Losing the last bit of hope I’d held onto affected me. A lot. I wouldn’t say it would be a clinical diagnosis, but I’ve been depressed. I’ve been going through the motions for a lot of stuff. I was fully present when working with Scarlet though. But things like other hobbies and work were difficult for me. I did take a couple of days off work because I’ve got the PTO and it did help.

Even with the change to my future plans for Scarlet, I still want him to get as much functionality back as possible. So we went ahead with our plans of walking over poles. Its a bit difficult to do on every day as I am at the barn when they are grooming the arenas. Every other day was manageable. Scarlet was a little perturbed the first time we walked over the pole but he never showed any soreness or increased difficulty managing his hind end after we did it.

We had been up to about 12-13 minutes of walking and over a pole once during that walk. Last Monday I’d just about decided that we should try going over a pole twice during a walk. We were heading back to his stall and Scarlet tripped in front (at least, that’s what it looked like. I happened fast so I couldn’t really tell you the moment by moment play here) and went down to his knees. Then he fell further. He rolled and ended up on his back for a second or two. I was trying to keep the lead rope out of his feet and say out of his way. He was able to roll over to his side. He took a moment to figure out where his hind legs were but got back to his feet without too much more trouble that he normally does when rolling.

I was freaking shaking when this was over. He seemed more or less fine. I ran my hands over him. He didn’t have anything more than some hair loss on his knees. He walked fine back to his stall. What I think happened is he was hurrying to get back to his stall and over walked what his feet could keep up with. He tripped and there was a incline on his right hand side. We were close enough to it that when his neck went down and he lost control of his hind legs, he fell with the angle of the ground.

I called my vet afterward to let her know. She said that he will probably be fine if he is able to move without issue. I had bute on hand so she said to give that for a couple of days. If he had any sensitive areas or showed a reluctance to walk, then I’d need to give her a call back.

Scarlet was displeased with the bute paste (he hates the taste) but he never showed any issues. I’m the only one affected. Completely traumatized. it made the depression worse for sure as I had to start thinking about how this would change my decision on when I’d have to say goodbye. If he falls frequently, that would be a reason to say he doesn’t have a good quality of life anymore. L also suggested that I begin thinking about ways to save memories; picture session, keepsakes, special things to do with him while I can. All of it was hard but necessary to think about.

However, between this and the rest of the fed up world, my mental state isn’t what I’d like it to be. I’m trying to claw my way back to relative normalcy but its a process. There are plenty of good things that I’m trying to throw myself into (other hobbies, household projects, getting to ride a friend’s horse several times) but I haven’t managed to shake the shadow yet. Its less opaque but its there.

I’m not even sure what the point of this post is. To purge? To update? A bit of everything likely. So I’ve purged, I’ve updated and now I’m going to go do something fun. Mental health is important y’all. I hope you are doing well or have way to help yourself/get help if you aren’t.