My history/Riding at this stage of my life
Monday, June 06, 2011
Just thought I'd put something down about what's going on with me and "my" horses. My actual horse, Taz, has been off and on lame since last June (2010). We came off a great first recognized USEF show in late May 2010, where my daughter rode to championships in the Opportunity Hunter and Eq (4 of 5 classes won with 10 people or so in the classes! and a 2nd in the other class), and I rode in the Rusty Stirrup Hunter Div. (2'3"), against one other lady riding her trainer's VERY fancy hunter. I won 1 of the 2 over fences, and 2nd in the under saddle - very well done, I thought, for my first recognized show since 1994 (I took 1995-2006 off after having a baby at age 41, and having to sell my lovely hunter "AJ" when he strained both rear suspensories - after a 1-2 year recovery, he went to a wonderful home where he would mostly trail ride). At that point in my life, I was adjusting to having a baby late in life, and still being somewhat of a workaholic, also depressed about AJ, and just didn't have the time for riding/showing at the level I wanted.
Anyway, back to Taz. We got him at age 14 and he's now an 18 y.o. QH/Appaloosa (registered Appy), wonderful first horse for my daughter and for me getting back into riding at age 53. I want "safe and sane" and he is. I've been in neck braces a few times, many contusions along my spine, broken my tailbone, and don't want to do those things again - Taz did dump me hard once when he ran out on a jump, and I got a bruised hip bone, very painful, but thankfully nothing broken.
His confirmation on his front legs is not the greatest, leading to his not landing flat on his right front. So, he lands on the outside and then rotates the whole foot down. When you think about how big a horse is (he's a chunky 1150 lbs. or so, 15.2 HH), and then the fact that he jumps and puts all his weight when landing, first on just the outside of his foot instead of the whole foot at once, you can see how that would wear on him, eventually. Anyway, we worked on the shoeing to try and help (his hooves were not trimmed evenly, so outside wall was taller than inside), we also put him in elevated bar shoes as perhaps he was getting navicular (just a suspicion, not diagnosed), and he did start getting better though he had about 6-8 weeks off. Then after a couple of months of bringing him back to work, I took his shoes off for the winter, and he went through some soreness went the ground turned frozen, he's always ouchy like that, got back to working, and it just seems like he'd be fine for a week or two, then come up lame again. I remember one lesson probably around Feb. where my trainer said he was moving better than she'd ever seen him - then lame again later. Put regular shoes back on in the Spring, somewhat okay for a bit then lame again, put the bar shoes back on, then had the vet out, he says it's his shoulder - probably running around he hurt it - not the foot, and he needs 3 weeks off. Also, his hocks are sore (arthritis/age-related) and his angles in the hind hooves have gotten too low, so another "chat" with the farrier to fix that, but maybe when the angles are better we can inject his hocks. To complicate this further, the farrier kept working to make him "land flat," to the point where now the outside wall on that right front was shorter, so his coronet band was not parallel to the ground in the other direction, and the vet wasn't happy about that, even though he is finally landing "flatter!" I told the vet that if we change that, he won't land flat again, but he just shrugged, so, whatever, then I had to eat my words with the farrier and tell him it's not so much about landing flat as making that foot even. And of course, the farrier is happy with the way Taz looks now. ARGH! I suspect there will be some slight compromise.
So, now it's been 3+ weeks since the vet diagnosed the shoulder and the hocks. The farrier was out on Friday and trimmed his hind feet to get the angles to 55 degrees (we're working towards 57 degrees all around - which is high for front, but with possible navicular could help). He will do his front feet again in two weeks (at six weeks interval). I rode him Sunday just walking around the farm, and trotted a few places, but he would start his "lurching" thing where he almost canters instead of wanting to trot, and I think that is due to soreness, as it's something he's only been doing in the last year. Sigh. I can tell his muscles are getting flabbier when I brush him, he is lazy to begin with, and so it is so hard as they get older to keep them fit with such an off/on riding pattern. The only good thing is I have him outside now full time (since May), and at least then he is walking around all the time, vs. being in a stall for 12-16 hours a day. He also colicked a couple of times in winter, and he never colicked the year before when he was turned out all the time, so it's back to pasture life for Taz. Really, a stall is convenient for me, but for horses, they prefer the outdoor life.
I am fortunate that I have other horses to ride - my trainer has a few school horses, and I took Cozy, an AQHA Appendix mare, to my first recognized dressage show this weekend, where we had successful rides, yay! And also, another woman lets me ride her paint mare, Gracie, and we will take her to another USDF show in a couple of weeks. More on them later.