Winter Doldrums

10679971_10101918934816197_945476574147067323_o

I haven’t written in about a month since things with Oh So and Bear are just trudging along as we go further into winter.

Oh So has been cantering for a couple of weeks now and feels pretty good so I’ve been working on trot poles and if it ever dries up a bit, I need to be getting out on the hills.

He’s had a bit of a cold/respiratory thing this week with some snot and a slight cough, so I’ve been keeping his work pretty easy.

Bear unfortunately had a heel bruise that’s taken some time, but I think he’s finally come sound this week. He hasn’t quite forgotten everything he knows, but he does feel a bit rusty! I’m hoping to maybe pop over a few jumps this weekend if my dressage trainer Nicky thinks he looks good. The lameness is so slight at this point, but I want to make doubly sure that he’s going well.

I do think the little forced break has helped him. He feels stronger and more forward, possibly because he’s been quite bored out in the field. I think he really enjoys having a job, so fingers crossed we can move forward. Of course I got a couple of calls on him over the last few weeks…

At work, I got to cover a day of the Mary King clinic at Morven Park which was really cool. She unfortunately did the same exact lesson for every group/level, but I did get a few new exercises to try.

I’ve been working on using four canter poles on a 20 meter circle with Oh So this week and I think it will be good for Bear too. It’s so basic, but can be so hard!.

I’ve been really yearning to jump. I can’t believe I have two horses out of commission at the same time. I’m ready for this year to be over!

I traveled back to Texas this past weekend to cover the USEA Convention in Fort Worth. I got to visit my former co-worker Megan, who lives nearby and she took me for a quick tour of the city, which was quite modern save for the Stockyards, which were the historical part of town.

It was pretty cool to see governance in action and I got to sit in on some private high performance meetings with chef d’equipe David O’Connor, which made me feel pretty cool!

I don’t have much else going on for now until Oh So and Bear start jumping and going off the property, so I’ll update again soon.

 

 

Catching Up On A Busy Fall

It’s been awhile since I’ve written because I’ve been quite busy the last several weekends. I went to Fair Hill to cover it for COTH and was a bit disappointed to have some camera equipment issues, but Jennie Brannigan was a gracious winner and made for a good story.

I also got my first COTH cover after nearly three years of working here! It just takes the right timing and being in the right place to get that “cover shot” and I’m glad I dragged myself up to Morven Park to take photos.

10623488_10101848330842127_503895494272832600_o

Oh So got his SI injected about 3 weeks ago but was not getting much better, so I finally took him to get his hip injected after the vet flexed his hip joint and determined that that was where the initial injury probably was. I’m just frustrated to have spent the money on the SI, although when he palpated it, there was no pain, so at least that helped.

I feel like he’s come back so well from the initial suspensory/check ligament injury and to have this happen just when we were getting going is just a little cruel! Back to more flatwork for awhile, but the vet is confident that the hip injection will help, so fingers crossed.

I had hoped to take Bear to another event between Seneca and Waredaca, but it didn’t work out with my schedule and Lisa’s schedule, so I went into Waredaca feeling like Bear shouldn’t have had so much time in between.

Here’s us schooling the weekend before Fair Hill.

It was super windy and chilly at Waredaca and we got there early to let him hang for a bit. He seemed happy to watch the world go by, but when I got on for dressage warm up, he was clearly up. Within the first 20 minutes of warming up on the grass, he stepped out of his shoe, so I had to get off and get it tacked back on, leaving me with about 15 minutes left of warmup.

He was as steady as I could have asked for by then, but the test was just not very polished, so we ended up with a 38.0.

Show jumping was quite spooky for him because the ring is a bit raised up above the property. When we got in, there were horses in paddocks, the trade fair and the warm up to see outside the ring, so I needed to get him a bit more focused than he was. Every jump had some kind of filler and that’s where I wished we’d been able to go somewhere else and school after Seneca since the places we usually have lessons at have pretty plain jumps.

63710_10101864427579137_1021389863619922830_n

He popped over the first jump and I lost my position a bit, then we turned to the second jump off an awkward line and he started to take off, but then put his feet down and knocked the jump down. I think I rode the line badly and didn’t press him off the ground when he was maybe a bit insecure, so we represented and he pinged way up in the air and landed all four feet at once! We headed to fence 3, which also had a filler in it, and he was cross cantering and stopped again, I think because he was flustered and I didn’t ride him hard enough to it.

We re-presented and finished the course much better. I’m disappointed that I didn’t give him the ride he needed when I should have expected he might back off, but I’m glad he was willing to keep trying for me–that just shows how much of an amateur horse he’s turning out to be!

I knew I’d need to be proactive on cross-country and he was definitely backed off some of the jumps because he’s just never seen anything like them. We don’t get a chance to school the courses because the schooling days are always during the week, so we’ve had to make due with the few schooling courses we have access too.

Here are some of the highlights from Waredaca.

I knew he might have a second look at the down bank, which was fence 6 on course, so I brought him back to a trot, but he still stopped, so I re-presented and he popped off just fine. The next few jumps were good and then we got to a log that was in complete shade and surrounded by a fence on one side and tall pine trees on the other. I rode to the bottom of it and he stopped.

We got over it the second time, then did a nice roll top before the water jump and came back to a trot for the water. He looked, but he kept going in! I was sure we’d be eliminated, so I didn’t stick to my plan to get to the jump that was one stride out of the water and up a steep incline–another question he’s never seen.

Lisa and I said if he went right in the water in trot, that I would circle back out of the water onto the grass and approach that jump from the grass on a slight angle. I’m not sure why I thought trotting with no impulsion up and out of the water to a question he’s never seen was a good idea, but I did it anyways, he stopped and I came off over his shoulder…dumb!

It also turned out he’d lost the other shoe somewhere on course. Have you ever had an event where just about everything that can go wrong does? I never had until Waredaca!

The Virginia Horse Trials as an overnight wouldn’t have been my first choice for his third recognized event ever, but it’s one of my favorites and the last one of the year and I knew the course would be inviting for him.

10471507_10101873103053417_1413591158196914528_n

I was slightly nervous about our bad outing at Waredaca but I was glad to be able to get right back out there and hopefully correct it.

We drove down on Friday and I got on him as soon as we’d unpacked. He was a bit wide-eyed as I rode to the top of the hill to school, but we went for a walk around the grounds after and he was as well-behaved as I could have asked.

We put his hay net outside his stall when we were there and he enjoyed eating and people/horse watching. Our dressage wasn’t until 4pm on Saturday so I schooled him a bit in our warm up ring in the morning. He was impressed again, but I’m glad we worked a bit so he could get used to seeing horses below him and having a view of the whole facility from on top of the hill.

webVF4C3140I did about 30 minutes of warmup for the actual test and then we had to walk halfway down the hill to a ring by itself. I was worried he might be distracted with horses above and below him, but since the riders before and after us were still there, he kept his focus and put in a pretty good test for a 32, his best score yet. We got an 8 on our first centerline and 6s and 7s for the rest. Now we just need to turn those 6s into 7s.

I’ve discovered that I need to start seriously schooling in the enclosed 20 x 40 ring because he seems to shut down a bit and fall through the corners, so that will be on my list of things to work on until he’s sold. I have one set up in the ring at home, but I usually end up in the 20 x 60 area.

We were up bright and early on Sunday to jump the biggest beginner novice show jumping course I’ve ever seen! It was shared with the championships, so it was beefy, mostly oxers and a few of them square.

When I get nervous, my lower leg gets a bit loose, so my position was a bit lacking and our flow wasn’t very smooth, but we got the job done and jumped clear, moving up from 8th after dressage to 4th. Lisa keeps reminding me that he is 4 still. He’s mostly changing his leads if I get them wrong and I trotted once, but I would say the last four jumps were the best, a vertical to a two-stride to a square oxer to finish.

We then had to wait five hours for cross-country when I think we would have gone a lot webVF4P3589better if we’d gone straight over from show jumping.

He got to the cross-country warm up and was quite impressed and up. We walked over the the start box and my first mistake was not getting a running start on a horse that can get behind my leg.

We had an ugly spot to the first jump and I ended up on his neck. Embarrassing! I thought it was all over before it even started, but we righted ourselves and headed to the second, a simple cabin. I should have really gotten after him so he didn’t second guess that jump after a crappy first one, and he ran out.

I think I was riding him down to it with not enough leg and gumption to back it up, so it was definitely my fault and very frustrating.

I came around again and used my stick a bit and we popped over it. I had to ride the rest of the course a lot stronger than I expected, but I think it was mostly because I took away a bit of his confidence after that bad first jump. He’s never seen hills quite like those at Virginia, so going down them was challenging, but he never said no, just more like, ‘Are you sure? OK.’

We trotted into the water and trotted out over a small jump, then the last three fences were the best out of stride.

webVF4P3602Even with the stop we finished a more than a minute fast. I haven’t really thought much about time on him, but since we were able to cross through the finish flags this time, it was cool to see how easy he made the time. His stride is quite big.

We ended up last, but that’s ok. He’s done a lot of growing up this fall and even if I didn’t have the best results each time, he learned something new every time out and came out a better horse for it. I think he actually started figuring out what the start box was at Virginia because he was jigging a bit as we circled it, and that’s a pretty cool feeling. He definitely enjoys his job, he just hasn’t done it enough and I need to rise to the occasion and let him know how much fun eventing can be. I also need to ride every fence and not take any of them for granted because he is a baby and might have a look. I need to get better about pressing him off the ground or having my leg there in case he does back off. Riding a baby is hard! Oh So just never said no when I was bringing him along and Bear is definitely a different ride, but in a good way because it’s making me be a better, more proactive rider.

I wish we could do another event this fall but that’s about it for Area II. Now we’ll buckle down and work on some gymnastics and his form over fences as we keep advertising him for sale.

If you’re interested, we’re asking $15,000. Give me a call at (540) 903-6483 or email lindsay.berreth@gmail.com.

Book Review: 40 5-Minute Jumping Fixes

40-5-Min-Jump-Fix-300

This review originally appeared in the Oct. 20 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse.

40 5-Minute Jumping Fixes
Wendy Murdoch
Trafalgar Square Books, Box 257, Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053. 2014.
HORSEANDRIDERBOOKS.COM
224 pages. $29.95.

I really enjoyed Wendy Murdoch’s previous book, 50 5-Minute Fixes To Improve Your Riding, so I was excited to pick up her latest release, 40 5-Minute Jumping Fixes.

Inspired to learn more about how to ride pain-free after a severe riding accident in 1984, Murdoch developed a teaching system that focuses on developing riding skills by focusing on individual body parts, so 40 5-Minute Jumping Fixes is divided into several sections including Lower Back and Pelvis, Hips, Legs and Arms and Hands. This made it easy to locate which fix I might want to read about.

Murdoch notes that not all of us have the luxury of growing up on horseback, galloping across the country, and learning a natural “feel,” so her exercises focus on body awareness, something that I think is of particular use to amateurs who often only have one horse to ride and limited time to do it.

Many of the exercises can be performed off the horse and require as little as an exercise ball or a chair. Several are performed on the horse with and without a helper, which makes the book great to take ringside.
In certain sidebars, Murdoch can get quite scientific in her explanations of the anatomy of horse and rider and how they function together while riding, which made those parts a little dry for me, but each exercise was then simply explained, step-by-step.
There are countless photographs and illustrations of how to perform each exercise and three simple questions at the beginning of each to decide if you might want to read further. For example, “When jumping do you: Hold your breath over jumps? Exhale only at the end of a round? Take shallow or panting breaths?”
Then you might want to try exercise 29, “When In Doubt—Breathe Out!” which offers a breathing exercise to try on the horse and another off the horse.
If you’re looking to improve your jumping position this winter, 40 5-Minute Jumping Fixes should give you plenty to practice when you’re stuck in the indoor waiting for spring.

Horse Trials and Tribulations

2014-09-28 09.47.25-1

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted because I’ve been busy, busy, busy!

After Seneca, I gave Bear an easy week and a half, then went for a quick overnight trip to Plantation Field for the CIC divisions.

It wasn’t an official work trip, but I found the photos I took last year to be useful so I borrowed a lens and went to the press conference. Buck Davidson won the CIC** and was a gracious interview as always. He and Boyd Martin have been criticized recently because they took their WEG horses to Plantation three weeks after failing to complete in France, but they both gave honest and reasonable answers to my questions about why.

Buck knows his horse better than anyone and shares a special partnership with him, one I’ve seen and heard him talk about first hand on multiple occasions, so it was sad to see him ripped apart for it. He was able to finish the season on a good note on a happy and sound horse. Isn’t that something we all hope for after a bad go?

Check out a photo gallery from Plantation Field.

Plantation Field

Plantation Field

I left for Texas for the American Eventing Championships the Thursday after Plantation. Sadly, the day before I left, my family made the decision to put our cat Winnie to sleep. We’ve had him since we inherited him when we moved to our farm in 2002 and he was about 2.

He’s lived a long, healthy life, but over the last two months, he started coughing. We took him to the vet and she found cancer cells on his lungs on an X-ray. We treated him with antibiotics and he seemed a little better–moving and eating normally but coughing a little. A few days before I left for the AEC he had some blood coming out of his nose and was uncomfortable eating. We made the decision to take him to the vet, but I decided I didn’t want to go. I’ve never been in the room for that before and I just didn’t think I could handle it. My dad went and held his paw during his final breaths.

10687219_10101805294891517_7728162552678193557_nI’ve never had the opportunity to choose when one of my animals is put down because they’ve always either died tragically or gotten sick or injured very suddenly, so I was glad that we had the choice this time to end his suffering, but it’s still sad nonetheless.

He was a sweet kitty and I’ll miss watching him lay in the sun with our other cats or dip his paws in the water bowl to get them clean. I hope he’s hanging out in the sun with Ramsey somewhere.

I headed off to Texas with a heavy heart, but I enjoyed my trip. My friend Megan, who used to work at COTH, freelanced for us and helped me out. She lives in Ft Worth now and works for the APHA. We had a nice dinner at a Mexican restaurant on Thursday night and had three full days ahead of us.

It was hot, but not too sticky. I was sad to see a small group in the advanced division, especially when they get the bulk of the prize money. There’s been a lot of talk in recent weeks about what the AEC should be and if they should move around or stay in Texas.

I can only say that I was disappointed to have the Adult Team Challenge move there. I really enjoyed my first and only ATC in 2012 at the VA HTs and wish they would stay regional. It’s just not viable for most amateurs to go to Texas, especially when it’s that hot in September.

That being said, the ATC riders I spoke to were all really fun. As much as I enjoy speaking

AEC Texas-style!

AEC Texas-style!

to the professionals on a weekly basis, I like finding out other people’s stories and telling them.

Here’s a link to all of our coverage.

 I had an uneventful trip back from Tyler through Houston and came back to Oh So feeling not quite right from behind again.

Before I left for Texas, he had started back walking and trotting under saddle after his SI injection and felt much improved for the first four days, then felt off again. I gave him the weekend while I was gone, hoping for the rest to do him good, but it didn’t.

I had the vet out again and she said he looked improved from behind, but still weak. She thought maybe he needed another week of before we started riding again, so we worked out a plan of lunging for a week and walking under saddle. I’ll start trotting under saddle this week and see what happens.

2014-10-04 11.36.30

Morven Park

Needless to say, I’m really disappointed that we won’t even be able to get to one event this year. I’m just hoping he comes sound again and that this isn’t going to be a battle from here on out. His check ligament and suspensory look good and feel good, but the more I think about it, the more I think he did something in the field to make himself so ouchy from behind. I’m hoping slow work will help him recover.

I had a busy weekend taking Bear for a jump lesson and cross-country school with Lisa at Morningside. He hadn’t been off the property in three weeks and I thought the fact that it was 35 degrees and we were alone would bother him, but he stood quietly while I put studs in and tacked up. He was a bit up as we trotted around the ring, but settled nicely and I surprised myself by not feeling totally out of practice.

We popped over a ditch, went down a bank and went up and down the hills a few times before we went through the water to end on a good note. I slowed things down a bit by trotting to the water the first time and letting him stop, then calmly asking him to walk in and he was fine. Lisa said not to make him flustered by using my whip or kicking for now. I’m hoping to try that strategy at Waredaca in a few weeks so we don’t get eliminated!

I also went to Morven Park on Saturday to watch the advanced and the CIC***. There weren’t that many riders unfortunately, but there were more than last year, which had about 5 start cross-country.

I was really bummed about not being able to compete Oh So there. The prelim course looked nice, although I’m not happy that they keep holding the show jumping on the muddy grass in the fall. There were apparently a lot of problems over the weekend.

Check our photos from Morven Park.

I’ hoping to take Bear cross-country schooling again this weekend while Lisa is out of town, then I’m off to Fair Hill next weekend to cover it for COTH, then Waredaca and VA HT to close out the season. Fingers crossed for sound horses and dry weather!

Morningside at 7:30am.

Morningside at 7:30am.

Baby Bear Gets His Call Up At Seneca Valley Horse Trials

GRC Photo

GRC Photo

Since I scratched Oh So from Seneca due to his SI pain, my coach Lisa suggested I enter Bear in the beginner novice in his place so I didn’t lose my money. I was a little hesitant because he just did his first three-phase the week before, but we’ve been jumping beginner novice height at home in the ring, so I nervously agreed.

I had planned on having another couple of cross-country schools over solid beginner novice height jumps, but since the opportunity presented itself, Lisa and I went into Seneca with the idea of schooling.

GRC Photo

GRC Photo

We ended up parked right by the cross-country warm up, which I thought would be terrible, but Bear just hung out and watched people go by all day while eating out of his hay net, which was a nice surprise.

The dressage was a bit of a walk and he got a little nervous as we approached the warm up ring. I hadn’t competed at Seneca since they moved the dressage rings and I like where they are now, very isolated from the jumping. There were four rings, but there was enough space so it wasn’t too crazy. He was quite tight and up for the first 10 minutes or so and then he settled and decided to get behind my leg!

I moved him over to a more isolated spot as our time approached in an effort to diffuse any separation anxiety. He did one neigh and a hop, but then settled. The ground was so hard and this was his first time doing dressage on grass, so I think he was a little short in his stride throughout the test.

I stupidly didn’t look over my test one last time before dressage so I ended up with two errors, which I’ve never done in my life, in the simplest test known to man!

Besides my dumb errors, he was just a bit behind my leg. It didn’t look so bad on the video, but he did seem a bit uneven in the contact and his push from behind.

GRC Photo

GRC Photo

We had four hours to wait until show jumping, and I actually kept myself quite calm!

The show jumping course, also on grass, looked pretty doable for us. The cross-country definitely looked a bit bigger though.

He did not like the hard ground in show jumping and felt a little four-beat and stiff around some of the turns, but he was jumping well. We’ll need to work more on bending through our turns in the coming weeks.

I asked for one long one, which he actually obliged, and a short one that he tapped but it stayed up, and the rest were pretty spot on. He was swapping leads a bit and swishing his tail (I think due to my spurs), so it wasn’t the smoothest round in between the jumps, but he was clearly seeking the fences.

Lisa took my spurs off for cross-country, we did a warmup roll top and it was off to the start box! I’ve definitely missed the countdown and the butterflies as the starter says “go!”

The first jump was a cabin and he met that nicely but got the wrong lead to number 2, which was a pretty big roll top with brush on top.

I think it caused some issues for others and he definitely hesitated on takeoff and in the air, but once we landed, he seemed to be happy to canter away to the next jump.

The next several jumps were good and I just worked on keeping my leg forward and my upper body back in case he did anything silly. I need to be conscious of my upper body because we weren’t getting the correct lead most of the time because he follows my weight.

GRC Photo

GRC Photo

I flubbed a couple of them and got him too close, but I now have a better feel of when he gets long and strung out in his canter, so hopefully I can correct that next time.

We got over the first 11 fences well and then came the water…he stopped dead, which I expected he might, and after three step backs, we were eliminated.

The jump judge kindly let Lisa lead him in and then we trotted back in once more so we could end on a good note. There was only a ditch and two jumps left, so while I’m bummed we didn’t complete, it wasn’t totally unexpected. He still needs some time to get in the water and when they flag it at the beginning like that, you’re SOL if they take a few tries to get in.

So, on paper, it looks bad, but I think it turned out to be a great schooling opportunity. If I had to do it differently, I would have taken him in another water before, but there was no water on our elementary course at Loch Moy.

He showed me that he seems to be enjoying his job and he definitely has the scope and gallop to go higher, and I got to head out of the start box at a recognized event for the first time in over a year. What more could I ask for?

I’m hoping to do Waredaca and maybe VA Horse Trials in October after we get a bit more

GRC Photo

GRC Photo

cross-country schooling in.

Oh So is starting his work back a few days early today because he’s been a jerk in the barn and needs a job. I walked him and trotted a bit and he felt a little uneven, but I’m hoping that goes away as he works more.

Here’s the video of Bear at Seneca. I edited it to get rid of my mistakes in the dressage and my mom had a camera issue, so she only got one jump on cross-country :(

Book Review: Schooling For Success With William Fox-Pitt

51TDJENS0SL._SY300_

The basics of horse training never go out of style, and with bringing along a baby this year who’s learning everything for the first time, I was inspired to pick up William Fox Pitt’s 2004 book, Schooling For Success recently.

William needs no introduction, but the book does a good job with one about how he got started in eventing and features a first-hand account written by him about some of his top horses and some of their quirks.

It’s obviously not up to date at this point, but I remember many of the horses he writes about–Moon Man, Tamarillo, Chaka–all horses I watched on my Badminton and Burghley DVDs years ago.

I’m a big visual learner, and considering I take photos for a living, I’m really interested in studying a rider’s and horse’s form at each pivotal moment. William’s book relies heavily on unique photo sequences and examples of correct and incorrect form.

He starts with a primer on the rider’s position, the paces and pole work. In fact, these sections are the most photo heavy of the book. William notes that the most important thing for any horse is to establish forwardness and freedom in every pace. He likes to use long and low exercises in his warm up before collecting more.

Sadly the pole work section is only one page. I would love to know more about what exercises he uses, especially with his youngsters.

In the jumping section, William uses about two pages on average to touch on things like grid work, introducing spooky jumps, angles and accuracy and riding a course. Throughout the entire book, he has handy tidbit boxes to summarize the main points of the text and to offer other useful pointers.

After watching William teach a clinic last fall, it was clear to me that he values a systematic training process when bringing along young horses and that comes across in his book. He notes that he uses a gradual and thorough teaching process, views a refusal as a sin to be avoided, introduces young horses to new concepts with a lead, and that a horse should associate going cross-country with having fun.

In the cross-country section, he goes over each kind of fence you might encounter, from basic banks to trakehners and ditches. Most of the photos feature photos of riders going over huge fences, which can be inspiring, but not always useful to the lower level rider that the book appears aimed at, so that would be my only real criticism.

Towards the end of the book, William offers troubleshooting tips for each phase, as well as a quick look into his daily life with his novice level horses.

Schooling For Success offers common sense training tips, explained clearly that will benefit visual learners best. Ten years on, I think it’s time for an updated version, perhaps with a bit more text!

Bear’s Eventing Debut! (and a setback for Oh So)

2014-09-07 11.06.57-2

It’s been over a year, but I finally got to head out of the start box, even if it was to jump 2’3″ fences!

Bear stood nicely for his first braid job (only 11 instead of the 16 or 17 that Oh So requires!) and my dad and I headed up to Loch Moy for their fall starter trials.

He was great to hang out while I walked my courses, even though the atmosphere was quite big–think 4 dressage rings, 2 show jumping rings, 2 cross-country courses going at once and a trade fair area.

He didn’t seem too overwhelmed when I went into the expansive warm up ring for dressage. He was a little distracted, which was to be expected, but for the most part he put his head down and went to work.

I trotted around the ring a few times and let him take a peak at the trade fair area at the C end of the ring and he didn’t seem to mind too much. We started off the test well, did our centerline, trot circle and change of rein on the diagonal, and as we came around to do our left trot circle, he must have heard a horse that sounded like someone he knew, because he neighed, bucked and then carried on as best he could.

Warming up over an intro fence. Nice knees! GRC Photo.

Warming up over an intro fence. Nice knees! GRC Photo.

I was definitely not expecting the buck! I tried to settle him for the canter work, and it wasn’t pretty, but we got it done. I should have kept him on the bit and round in the free walk, but I let the reins go for some reason and he caught wind of the horse again and kept screaming. The final centerline was a little rough and he wouldn’t stop neighing while the judge tried to talk to us (she did that for everyone). She was sympathetic to my cause and just said to make sure to ride every step when he acts like that.

The ride back to the trailer featured more screaming and a rear and spin, and it took awhile for him to stop screaming back at the trailer. But he was just neighing, not being fidgety, dancy or silly.

Oh well…he is four and he decided to choose his dressage test to act that way. I guess I’d rather it be there than during the jumping.

He neighed a bit during his jumping warmup, but once we actually started jumping, he was fine. He did one neigh as we went into the ring, but then settled in to his job. The jumps were so small that he kind of puked over a couple, but as Lisa said, it was all about going through the motions that day.

We were the last ones to go cross-country for our division and the starter let us pop over a couple warmup jumps by using the intro level ones, then we were off!

He really didn’t back off anything over our little 10 jump course. It was tough to get in a rhythm, since it was just a loop basically and I took my leg off and got him close to a couple of them, but he wasn’t going to stop or runout.C RWN14-0737508

We ended up with a 38 in dressage for 6th place. Yay! We survived and now it’s time to move on to beginner novice. He’s jumping bigger at home so now we need to take those skills to the real world.

Oh So has been doing well…until this week. I’ve learned that every time I mention a show these days, he comes up lame. We had planned on doing a schooling show at CDCTA this Thursday to run through a couple of dressage tests, then do Seneca novice on Sunday.

I had a great jumping lesson on Saturday with Lisa. We set the jumps up to solid training and maybe a bit bigger and I really felt that we were back in sync. It was fun! He had a day off Sunday, then Monday he just didn’t feel quite right from behind, so now I’ve scratched from both shows.

The vet came out on Thursday and did complete flexions with no real issues, but when she palpated his SI joint on the right side, he kept in the air and nearly kicked her teeth out!

She recommended an injection, so he went down to the clinic on Friday and got a little chiropractic adjustment too.

To say I’m discouraged is an understatement. We’ve been very careful bringing him back slowly, and while I’m relieved it’s not a front leg or the same tendon he injured, I was so close to being able to compete that I could taste it! We were ready, but now I wonder if maybe the increase in intensity of jumping and galloping (although just novice XC fences and training show jumps) was too much? Or maybe he did something in the field? Or it could be a combination of both.

Ever since he’s come back into work, we’ve been working on strengthening his hind end, but maybe he’s saying he needs more hill work, which is a pain to do, but I’ve always tried to make the time to do it. I’ve also felt that he’s starting to feel “old” since he’s come back. I know he’s 14, but before his injury last year, he’d hardly taken a lame step in his life and always acted like a 5 year old. Maybe the time off has accelerated his aging, or maybe he really does just need more time to get his hind end back.

Either way, the idea of a fall season, even just the three events I’d planned at novice and training, is looking unlikely. I’ve scratched Morven and now with a week off, then slowly coming back into work for the next two weeks after that, we’ll be lucky if we make it to one event.