Friday, June 25, 2021

Acceptance and moving forward

 I've already found my limit for riding.  I sat canter a bit too long and the next day?  I felt awful.  Numbness in my left fingers, seizing muscles all around my neck and shoulders, the works.  Forty minutes and sitting the canter is my limit?  That hurts.  That hurts a lot.  I can't do anything with riding limits like that!  I mean, I could go out for a trail ride but that's not where I want to be and it's so hard for me to make myself stop.  In the moment everything feels fine but the next day, my body is certainly letting me know that it can't cope with that amount of force and movement through my spine.  It's proving very, very difficult for me to ride within these new limitations when I know Theo needs more.  I want to work through something, make progress, but there's just not enough time.  Especially when I'm riding so infrequently.

Also discovered I can't ride this beauty for more than a couple hours without repercussions the next day, wonky discs suck

Theo is off to Trainer Z at the end of the month.  Not to be rehabbed but to finish getting back into shape and potentially meet new dance partners.  She's got a spot with a run in opening up and she's starting construction on her own indoor.  She's got riders looking for a lease and Theo could become a Third Level horse with some fitness and polish.  I would love to show up to shows next season in my big hat and cheer him on.  I would also love to split his bills with someone.  Love that horse but he ain't cheap.

Trainer Z also offered a spot if he needs to become a pasture pet so he doesn't have to move all over New Hampshire.  I almost cried.  It's a chance for Theo to have just one more move and live with someone that really cares for him.  I will visit and take some lessons when I feel good but it won't be my job to fight the good fight.  If it's cold and my neck hurts, I don't have to go to the barn.  That will be Trainer Z followed by whoever she picks out as Theo's partner.  I'll just show up, have fun, and go on my way.  

This setup I can ride all day and be fine, I did a five hour ride with no problems.  Victory!  I look dorky but victory!

It's chaotic right now and it will be expensive sending him off for training but Theo's been enjoying his return to work.  He respects and more importantly likes Trainer Z.  He'll appreciate a trained seat and hands while he learns the big boy moves.  I'll appreciate being able to totally sign off on managing his work schedule.  

Part of me is heart broken that I've already found my limit.  I can't show if I've only got 40 minutes of riding in me.  Maybe it'll get better if he's stronger over his topline but I rather doubt it.  He'll get bouncier, not smoother.  Maybe if I get stronger?  I don't know.  But this time I know it's coming so I can face it and process it.  I'll be selling my jumping and western dressage tack.  They're just collecting dust.  Anyone want a Frank Baines Evolution or a Harmony western dressage saddle?  All of his dressage gear will head north with him even though I know Trainer Z's saddle fits him and she won't be using his saddle.  Better safe than sorry.

Don't tell the neurologist about this outing

I've given notice to the current barn.  I'll always be grateful to them for giving us a place to land and giving Theo the opportunity to settle after . . . whatever was going on.  His teenager is off to college this fall so this is only a little earlier than she was expecting.  Legs's owner just picked up a new mare so her dance card is very full.  I start orientation Aug 9 for my DBA program.  It's kind of the perfect time for Theo to quietly slip away to go be a professionally trained horse.  

I'll sneak in a few extra rides while I can.  And Trainer Z is down for me to come up for lessons where I'm the busted adult ammy owner that wants to play pretend.  I have nothing to prove, I paid my dues and rode the big bucks.  We both know I'm not a wimp, I'm just busted.  I have limited miles and I want those miles to be the fun parts.  Maybe I'll ask to ride her Grand Prix stallion Muffin and see what a piaffe feels like . . . 

With lots and lots of Advil, of course.

Friday, June 4, 2021

And then?

 I've spent the last few weeks trying to just get stuff settled into a sustainable pattern.  Shoes, supplements, stabling, training, all of it.  And I seem to be just about done with that.  Theo is working regularly, all of his needs are being met, and he is on his way to being fit again.  I'm riding part time and enjoying it.

He's so darn pretty

And then?

That's kind of the trick question right now.  As emergency mode fades away and I start to think long term I stall out.  What the heck am I going to do with Theo long term?  What makes sense for us?  I need him to be happy and well but I also need to consider how this will work for me.  I just got accepted to a doctorate program.  I didn't think I'd have a horse in my life so I intended to continue my education.  Awkward.

There's also the part where I can't do a lot of things.  I know from experience that a fit Theo that's doing big boy work can be a handful.  I distinctly remember him dancing the dance of his people around the ring while learning his changes.  Opening that can of worms is a non-starter for me.  Once he's learned something he totally doesn't care but I certainly can't be the one to teach him this stuff.  I need all four on the floor.  And let's be honest, his collected trot is a nightmare to sit even for people that actually have discs between their vertebrae.  

Theo has opinions about my bouncing during his trot

I'm too goal oriented to just show up, brush the pony, and ride around the arena.  I need to have something to work on, a goal to measure our progress, lessons, structure, all of that.  My old goal was the Bronze but the chances of me sitting the trot work in a Third Level test?  Pretty dang low.  My body may surprise me and from what I understand of my situation, technique may save the day.  It's all about minimizing the compressive forces.  But reality is that I'm not going to be working a mid-level dressage horse full time if I want to have a functioning neck 10 years from now.

Western dressage is good for keeping Theo chill and his collected jog is actually comfy to sit.  Not that I've tried it yet but even when I couldn't sit in my dressage tests I could sit his jog.  That could be a solution.  I'd still need to get a change on him but that would be a small change, more like a swap that you see in reining.  A bigger change would be even better but a small one might be easier for me to cope with these days.  Western dressage could give me something to work toward, I still haven't ridden a Level 3 test.  

Being the weirdo even at the dressage barn

It comes down to my time and my body's ability to take abuse.  Both are in shorter supply these days and it wouldn't be fair to either of us for me to take Theo on full time.  I love having him near me and riding 2-3 times a week but I already know that he won't have another partner after August.  I have to plan ahead for when his teen goes to college and it's just me.  He won't be safe for me over the winter with just a couple rides a week.  I'm going to need to find him a second rider.

Hacking out with his new friend

I'm currently thinking that I'll be one of those posts on social media asking the local horse groups if anyone wants a half lease on an experienced dressage horse.  I have to accept the fact that I can't do this on my own and I need to find someone else to help me keep him in work.  Ideally, someone that wants to be his primary partner and just accept that this middle aged ammy with a wonky neck likes to ride sometimes when he's feeling lazy.  They can focus on dressage and show him as far as they can go while I jog about on my riding days and maybe, just maybe, go to the occasional show.

Theo thinks that sounds suspiciously like work

He's very happy now with his teenager, my friend, and me giving him attention.  He's doing once a week lessons with a local dressage trainer and putting muscle back on.  Everyone is on the same page and working on making him less lazy and more fit.  He'll be back to being a real dressage horse by fall.  And then we start hunting for a new dance partner for him.