Finally we’re into our eventing season! We’ve done three events since my last update, so here’s a recap:
We started off with the starter trial at Loch Moy on Memorial Day weekend. It wasn’t too hot, but definitely humid, and we just dodged thunderstorms in the afternoon.
He was a little bit dry-mouthed in the warmup, which wasn’t a terrible thing, just not usual for him. He was perhaps slightly holding his neck, so I worked on some suppling exercises like leg yielding in trot and canter to get him a bit softer. He ended up with a 23.8, but I took that with a grain of salt considering it was a schooling show.
Life is finally starting to feel a little more normal as the weather’s been getting warmer. Oh So and I are about six weeks behind in our competition season due to the strangles, but we were able to get out to a combined test and Twilight Eventing at Loch Moy, both of which we won!
The dressage test at the combined test felt a bit tight, although it scored well, but I was fine with it since it was the first show of the season. He was much better for Twilight–very relaxed and supple and loose in his body.
Novice CT at Loch Moy. GRC Photography Photos
My show jumping round at Twilight wasn’t the smoothest since I’d had two rides on him after being gone for a week at Kentucky, but we were there for the cross-country anyways!
It was a pretty simple course, but it was open and gallopy, which is what he needed for his first run of the year. Now we’re looking ahead to the starter trial and some recognized events in June and July.
He’s been looking really good lately and feeling even better. I decided to keep him on stall board through the summer to help put some weight back on after he lost about 50 pounds due to the winter and his illness. He’s happy to be inside eating all day and away from the bugs I think. I’ve changed up my routine so I go for a 20-minute hack before we work in case he’s a little stiff from being in. He’s also been extremely spooky, which is kind of funny!
I think his neck injection is really kicking in because he’s been very supple and working really well on the flat. We’ve had a few lessons with my dressage trainer Heidi, and we’ve been working towards improving his changes. He’s accepting leg yielding away from the wall and back for the most part, although this week every time I leg yielded off the wall on the left lead he gave me very lovely changes back right! It’s kind of funny because you could tell he thought he was doing the right thing. I just stayed calm and got the correct lead back and continued to leg yield until he listened to my aids. We also played with some canter/walk and walk/canter transitions and haunches in which will all help improve those changes.
We’ve been working on gymnastics with Lisa since he’s been getting pretty excited jumping lately, so we’re just dialing it back a bit to make him sit and wait.
I’ve been on a couple of work trips since my last update, including The Fork and Kentucky. The Fork was a bit underwhelming as far as entries go, but Boyd Martin won, and it was kind of a cute story.
Kentucky was a lot of fun, but a very long time to be gone. In the end, Oliver Townend won, which was a bit of a bummer since everyone was rooting for Boyd to be the first U.S. rider since 2008 to win it. Maybe next year!
Now I’m off to Jersey Fresh for the weekend. Looks like it might be a bit wet!
I’ve been waiting to write an update on Oh So until after what turned out to be a nightmare dealing with strangles was over.
His gutteral pouch pain got better after we switched him to SMZs, and he was seemingly on the mend after a month off. Then he started swelling in his throatlatch area and abscessed out of his lymph nodes, which the vet thought might happen.
She took a sample of some of the pus before it was ready to burst during his follow up appointment in February, and we thought all was fine from Thursday through the weekend. Then the following Tuesday, after the abscess had burst, she called to say he tested positive for strangles. WTF?!
After my super positive year-end post, I guess it was inevitable that 2019 would start out terribly, right?
A couple of days before I headed to Temecula, California, for my first assignment of the year, Oh So started to seem not like himself. I had only been able to hack because of snow, and he just seemed pretty slow. I actually had to kick him along, which is not like him.
I decided to call the vet on the day I left for California because he was sitting listlessly in the stall, and he ended up having a fever and couldn’t lower his head and neck, which was quite scary.
Since I had to get on a plane, we decided to treat him with Banamine and doxycycline because the vet could only assume tick fever. I found that to be a little strange considering it was January, but she said they see spikes in it this time of year. There have been a few horses in the barn who’ve had vague symptoms like his, and that seems to be the go-to diagnosis, but I wasn’t going to accept that as an answer.
After a truly disastrous 2017 in which I broke both my ankles and ended up selling Thomas and working through a lot of physical and mental pain, 2018 was one of the best years of my life.
Even though Oh So had a couple of minor injuries that caused some sleepless nights and one missed event, and despite tons and rain and event cancellations, it was the first full competition season I’ve had with him in a long time. Thing actually went to plan 90 percent of the time, which is a hard thing to do with horses! I almost had to pinch myself with each event and show we finished. Looking at the wall of blue ribbons from this season, I can hardly believe it.
I’ve written a lot about accepting that novice is where we’ll stay for the remainder of his career, and I’ve had to adjust my expectations and goals with him, but this year I was able to reach my goal of getting my USDF bronze medal. It felt pretty amazing to set my sights on something and actually achieve it. I’ve had to force myself to not have big goals with him anymore because of his age, but that was one that we actually pulled off!
Winning nearly event, even if it was just at novice level, was a huge deal, and we were recently awarded the inaugural Maryland TB/STB Eventing Series, which came with a huge check and lots of prizes!
I just had a flat lesson with Heidi for the first time since October, and she asked what my goals were for this year. I was hesitant again to name specific things, but if I could improve our third level scores that would be amazing. The good news is that she noticed we’ve been doing our homework, so we’re on our way to getting a bit more collection and throughness in the lateral work, which will hopefully translate to better flying changes.
As far as eventing, I’d love to do the Area 2 Championships, and the American Eventing Championships are really tempting, but I don’t know if I can justify the entry cost.
2018 was a pretty amazing year of travel for me. I went on 16 assignments for COTH and got to discover amazing new places like Badminton and New Orleans, and saw the world’s best horses and riders at the World Equestrian Games. Personally, my trip to Scotland was one of the most amazing vacations I’ve ever done, and it inspired me to look ahead to new discoveries this year. I’m thinking Iceland perhaps and definitely Burghley on the fall.
2019 is going to be a stressful and emotional one since my parents are putting our farm up for sale and moving to Kentucky. There’s no detailed timeline yet, but I’m bracing myself for some strife as my entire life is about to change. We’re a close family and have lived in the same area my whole life, so it will be a seismic shift.
For now though, I’m looking forward to my first trip of the year back to San Diego and Temecula for the Adequan West Coast Dressage Festival and then to Palm Beach in February, while praying for as little snow and rain as possible!
I have the good fortune of traveling to some pretty cool horse shows for my job, and this year was no exception. I covered 15 shows, one clinic and the USEA Convention this year for the magazine from coast to coast! Whew.
I was on the hunt for a new monoflap for Oh So’s jumping saddle when I realized his old Ovation one was wearing a bit. I prefer synthetic girths for eventing because they’re easier to keep clean, and this one has a durable outer TPU shell that’s easily wipeable. It has a neoprene liner that’s super soft, and it’s a bit wider to distribute pressure better than my older one. So far Oh So seem’s to like it! I bought one for my dressage saddle too.