Some of the links below are for companies that I believe in, use and partner with. When you make purchases after clicking the link, I may be compensated for sending you their way.
As 2017 winds to a close, it’s the perfect time for Bridle & Bone’s December blog hop theme: Year in Retrospect.
2017 didn’t go anything like I’d planned when it comes to riding. At end of 2016, our move to Kentucky proved personally challenging but I had hopes for access to shows and clinics with the Kentucky Horse Park just an hour away. Unfortunately, injury and rehab ended up eating most of the year.
The year started productively, with a great ride in our new barn’s indoor. It took all of November & December to get on my feet after our Halloween move. But once the kiddo went back to school, I was ready for some quality barn time.
My words about needing to rest and take better care of myself turned out to be slightly prophetic.
But, the early spring at least made for some quality saddle time!
We continued to have positive, steady rides. Building condition and enjoying the weather when Kentucky warmed up into the 60s after a winter much colder than either of us were used to.
In March & April, we began to realize that the school here in Kentucky wasn’t serving our son well. Considerable academically advanced compared to his classmates, he felt different and like he didn’t fit in here. My work & riding took a bit of a back seat to conferences with his teachers and administration. Despite that, Elf and I continued to make progress. Rides felt productive and that feeling of walking up to the fence to pricked ears and a soft nicker kept me grounded amid frustration.
A turning point
I didn’t realize it at the time (do we ever?) but my year began to turn in mid-March. My husband was unexpectedly being sent to Afghanistan with just a few days notice. We spent a week running around getting everything he needed together. It left me feeling even more stretched thin, but the weather started warming up and the sunshine made for the kind of rides that refreshed.
Some days, I go out to the barn and don’t tack up. I don’t pull on my boots, dig out a hair net or strap on my helmet. I don’t make a plan or a goal. There is so measuring success or progress towards a goal.
I just go and enjoy the fact that this guy is a willing partner, that he enjoys my company enough to leave his grazing and beg for his itchy spots to scratched when he’s not wearing a halter or lead rope.
At the core of it, riding isn’t about ribbons, medals, goals or checking off accomplishments. The real value lies in the thousand small ways that the barn helps me to find the best version of myself.
Enjoying the Kentucky Horse Park
April did bring the opportunity to enjoy amazing riding at Rolex (now the Kentucky 3 Day Event). I thrilled over Michael Jung’s ride. I roamed the shopping with a barn friend and her daughter. As Land Rover owners, the Land Rover folks gave us some extra swag & a ride on the Land Rover course.
Of course, I don’t have pictures of any of that. But I did instagram the really fabulous Bloody Mary that I enjoyed every day of the event.
And there goes the year…
Everything took a sharp turn sideways when I showed up at the barn to ride and found Elf in his stall with a nose crusted with dried blood. No one had noticed when he’d come in from turn out at 8 am. He’d eaten breakfast normally and hadn’t shown any signs of distress in the intervening hours. Concern, a little caution but no big alarm bells.
That bloody nose turned out to be the tip of the iceberg. Somehow, with no previous symptoms, Elf had developed severe allergies to Kentucky that fueled a sinus infection, crackly (fluid in the) lungs and bleeding in his nose and sinuses. Meds, some time off, a scope and a change in turn out with no round bale made a sensible plan.
Unfortunately, Elf decided not to cooperate.
Without the round bale, Elf strenuously objected to my barn’s very generous turnout times (during the summer, the horses are out from about 4 pm until the next morning). The second night in his new turnout, an overnight thunderstorm led to a freak out that resulted in a popped splint, strained suspensory and inflamed tendon sheath.
Change in plans: minimum 8 weeks of stall rest, hand walking and daily wrapping and cold hosing. Lots and lots of icing and cold hosing and wrapping.
Our July check didn’t offer good news. While everything was healing, there was still a visible gap between the sheath and suspensory where the inflammation lingered. Fortunately, he handled the stall rest incredibly well. Chill, patient, enjoying the pampering, Elf adored the daily hand walks and grooming without having to work.
As much as I enjoy my boy, I was exhausted. By now, we were clear into summer and my son was out of school. This meant that most of my trips to the barn were happening after dinner. I was getting home after nine, which didn’t play well with my 4 am wake ups to work before my son was up and around.
With my son back in school, the Fall was all about rehab. I worked with my vet to develop a careful plan – adding 5 minutes of walking a week, then 5 minutes of trot and working up over 8 weeks until he was working WTC for 30 minutes. Because of Elf’s unpredictability during turnout, we needed him to stay sound while in work under controlled conditions before he could start going out again. We were still wrapping and icing during this daily trips to the barn. In 2017, I went to the barn daily for 5 months – which wore me out on top of family, kiddo, and work.
<3ing this view again. It was only 10 minutes at a walk, but still…. And after 13 weeks on stall rest, he plodded around like a kid’s pony. I know that’s not going to last, but I’m extra thankful today for how well he has tolerated the rest part of his treatment. It makes a positive rehab outcome so much more doable! #horsesofinstagram
A sigh of relief
It took until the end of September, but we finally were cleared. Just in time for my family vacation to Disney World – which was all kinds of anxiety producing but a relief nonetheless.
Such a happy boy! **finger crossed, knock wood and everything else with good luck connotations** Elf is officially off any activity restriction. I’m still icing after work and keeping an eye out for any swelling, but he sure looked happy (if exhausted) to go outside after our ride <3 . . #horseriding #horsebackriding #horselove #horsestagram #horsesofinstagram #horserider #horse#horses #pony #ponies #hunter #jumper#horseshow #equestrian #equestrianstyle#equestrianlife #pferd #cheval #caballo #cavallo #hunterjumper #dressage
Riding the Struggle Bus
Since then, I’ve just had to accept my place on the struggle bus. I’m tired. I’ve been busy so it’s been difficult to build Elf’s fitness back up. As much as I love the barn & arena facilities at my barn here in Kentucky, we have very limited turnout options – essentially one group turnout with a round bale. With the round bale, Elf has to take a rather large dose of hydroxazine to treat his allergies. The meds work but make him sluggish and a little dull.
On my side, work has been busy. We are still fighting with my son’s school to ensure that he gets access to the academic opportunities that he needs. I’ve also wrestled with a couple injuries, chronic sinus infections and the sudden unavailability of my thyroid medication.
All in all, I’m ready to say goodbye to 2017. I don’t have any specific goals for 2018. I’m just ready to get back in the saddle, to rediscover that happy place and find a rhythm where it works with the other aspects of my life.