Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I Have PMS - A Rant.

You have been warned.
This post will be angsty, warranted or not.
I will not be offended if you choose not to read it.
Hell, I am sick to death of the thoughts in my head.
I would not blame you for not volunteering to sign up as well.
The past 10 days of post-back injections rehab have been glorious.
My pony has walk-trot-cantered his little heart out on the lunge.
He has looked fantastic. His coat has been gleaming. His transitions are spot on.
He has been HAPPY. Happy to walk. Happy to trot. Happy to CANTER.
In the ring, in the grass. Tra-la-la-la F'ing LA.
A fellow boarder commented on how goofy and happy Boca seemed.
It is a whole side of his personality no one at the new barn has ever had the opportunity to experience before.
I thought we were getting somewhere. I got excited.
I thought "Maybe this might actually work!!!"
I made plans to find a new saddle. A better saddle. A saddle that would better fit his precious pony back. Who cares if it works for me or not. I created devious scenarios in my mind, in which I could convince my husband that we NEEDED to spend yet more money IMMEDIATELY to find the right saddle.
I searched eBay and used tack websites feverishly. I made an appointment with a local brand rep to come out on Wednesday. I mentally made plans, then canceled plans to drive 1.5 hours up to New Hampshire to bring home some saddles on trial.
Yesterday, June 1st was to be the first day Boca was to go back under saddle after 10 days of rehab.
Do you know how long 7 consecutive days of lunging feels like?
I can say with all honesty that I have never lunged 7 consecutive days in my life.
And I hopefully never will again.
Of course, the day for me to get back in the saddle, the temperature dropped 30 degrees and it was raining.
When I brought out the saddle instead of the lunge equipment, Boca started grinding his teeth in the cross ties.  AWESOME BEGINNING.
I was trying out the BO's Bates Caprilli, which actually seems to fit his massive shoulders and short back, y'know, without me actually in the tack.
I'm not sure what I expected. I didn't think I had an conscious expectations of our first ride back, but judging from my level of disappointment, clearly I did.
I lunged Boca under saddle first.  I knew logically that the combination of the 30 degree drop, a day off, and a return to the indoor was probably not the best set up for a triumphant return to under saddle work.
When I got in the saddle, he definitely felt different. It's hard to describe, but his back felt squishy and wobbly. He definitely felt less stable in the area. Maybe I am so used to him holding it still and not using it?
Random media break
Aside from some random teeth grinding, the walk and the trot were OK.
Not great. Not spectacular. There were no random kick-outs, no tail swishing.
But there was a definite lack of desire to go forward.
The canter had the same explosive upward transitions, where he launched himself upwards with his shoulders. There was no bucking or crowhopping.
I guess in general what is upsetting to me was that he was, in general, NOT HAPPY to do the work.
He's clearly happy on the lunge.
Under saddle, not so much.
Here are the fun thoughts currently playing through my mind.
Are you ready? This is where the PMS comes in.
1. I weigh too much for Boca. He'd be better with a smaller/lighter rider.
2. He has EPM and needs to be put down (thank you, too much time on internet chat boards)
3. I should just be content to w/t for THE REST OF MY LIFE AND NEVER EVER CANTER OR JUMP AGAIN.
4. I should buy a carrot stick and start pursuing Parelli excellence. Cause at least he's happy on the ground. Bring on the bag on a stick and level 4 Games.
5. I should call an animal communicator and really get to the bottom of this.
6. I should put him on a timeline. If we can't canter in 90 days, he goes.
I'm upset. I'm frustrated. I'm discouraged. I'm unreasonable.
I have spent a fortune in diagnostics. My husband is at his limit, money-wise and seeing me down about another bad experience.
I just... am tired of the thoughts in my head. Tired. Tired of trying to figure out what the hell is wrong. Tired of spending SO MUCH MONEY trying to simply w/t/c.
Rant over. Pass the ice cream.


  1. You are DEFINITELY not too heavy for him. Not in the slightest. I rode my QH Elvis (similar to Boca) and I guarantee I weighed more than you, plus he had a long back which is problematic for soreness... and he didn't display any of these behaviors.

    Keep with the plan. Get the back soreness and saddle fit issues resolved. Take a deep breath.

    He very well may need an attitude adjustment. There's nothing wrong with a timeline either. But for now, take a deep breath.

  2. Oh my god no, you are not too heavy for him. That is the PMS talking (it's the horsey girl's version of feeling fat). If I lunged my otherwise fine horse for seven days and then got on him the first ride back probably wouldn't be a good one, so don't come to any conclusions before he's really back to work. Like Lauren said, deep breaths (although you're allowed to rant, we don't mind).

  3. Ok first, it's ok to be upset and discouraged. It's ok to be mad and disappointed. It's ok to have bad days and question what you're even doing. All of that stuff is normal human emotions and there is nothing wrong or weird with having them.

    Next, grab your whole entire ice cartoon and a spoon. Sit down in front of your favorite netflix marathon, and take a deep breath.


    Remember that you're a one horse ammy rider like the rest of us.

    Remember Rome wasn't built in a day.

    Remember all the fabulous rides you've had on Boca in the past year. (Bareback in a halter on the trail, as I recall).

    He's going through some stuff right now. You don't have much perspective, because of the whole ammy thing. Instead of riding ten other horses and saying "he'll figure it out" like a professional, you just have to go to work and obsess about it. That is the hardest thing in the world about being an ammy. There is no way around it.

    I'd try other saddles. I'd keep it slow and easy. I'd do a hundred million w/t/h/t transitions to start building strength that you can use to develop the canter. Is he better bareback? Western?

    On days like that, I try to find ways to reconnect with the parts of horses I really love. (Usually too much tack shopping), but things like brushing and hand grazing and taking pretty pictures all help.

    You don't have to fix the canter right now. I'm not saying "never canter again", but try having fun with your horse for a while. He doesn't canter well right now, so don't. Trot the hell out of those circles. Go on trail rides.

    Annnnd this is the world's longest comment so I will email you.

    Above all, hugs and ice cream.

  4. As an owner of a horse with arthritis in the spine and kissing spines I'm going to tell you this is completely normal. Particularly if your horse was sore for a while he is going to assume that riding will still hurt. Injections are not all magic when it comes to back issues.

    For kissing spines horses in particular, the canter is the gait where they get the most sore, so I would do more at the trot to see if you find his mood improves there first.

    Most certainly you will want to do your homework on finding a saddle and you do want it to fit you both well so you have good balance on his back as well. With a horse that has back issues fit becomes extra important. You should be able to find something in your budget. I do love a saddle hunt so let me know if I can help.

    Let me know if I can be of more help. I'm still mid struggle with Stampede but I have learned a few things along the way that help him be more comfortable.

    1. I agree that he probably has been so used to it hurting with the saddle that he is expecting to hurt still.

      When my horse was off due to thrush, it took us a while to figure out what was going on so he was ridden when he was ouchy. Once the thrush was taken care of he still expected it to hurt, so he didn't go forward and through some attitude at me in the form of crow hops and kicking out. My trainer helped me ride through it and it took about a month, but now he goes forward and is his normal happy self again.

      We had to start from basics for a bit, didn't ask for anything but forward without sucking back. He figured it out and we could get back to where we were.

      Hang in there. Give him time to realize working under saddles is just as pain-free as working on the lunge.

  5. your frustration is absolutely warranted! the whole situation pretty much sucks - but you are trying so hard to make things work for Boca and that is so admirable. like the others said - you are NOT to heavy for him and your plan for bringing him back into work sounds great.

    he very likely could have been cranky bc he anticipated pain. hopefully the careful and patient rehab (frustratingly slow tho it may be) will alleviate that over time. good luck and so many hugs and ice cream!!

  6. I shall echo what others have said- it will take time for Boca to learn to enjoy the work again. Speaking as an owner of a 15 year old with arthritis in his spine (at least that's what we think it is- to possibly maybe diagnose would require a 6 hour trailer ride (one way ) and tons of tests. I won't do it. However, I see him now happy in his work (albeit much less then before) and enjoying being ridden. But it took time. lots of time.

  7. Ugh -- this is the toughest part of horse ownership. And you are definitely allowed to rant; I've certainly ranted similarly over smaller issues! But I agree with others that 1) you are NOT too heavy 2) breathe and don't give up quote yet. It's entirely possible that all of the factors you described, plus his history of being in pain during rides could have made this ride tough and it's certainly possible that things will get better really soon.

    But in the meantime, I advise wine with your ice cream :-)

  8. Everyone has given you such fantastic words of wisdom that I'm not going to be able to add much to it. It's so HARD to be patient when you've been being patient and want results now. I know, I've been there. Keep on with the saddle search, keep doing the work that makes him happy. Hopefully he will figure out quick that the pain is gone and things will get better. Hang in there!

  9. I know it's frustrating. In my experience, horses stay sore longer than vets think they do after an injection i.e. they are usually better a month after being injected than two weeks after. I agree with everyone else that he is probably anticipating pain, but he also may actually be hurting a little. He will have been using himself differently and using muscles he wasn't before, which will make him sore. Also, it is a different excercises program that he has been doing the last week and that can contribute to the problem as well. So, while his behavior is aggravating, it is something that I would necessarily be surprised by if my horse were in the same situation. It's definitely not an unusual situation.

    Anyway, you're more than entitled to eat all the ice cream you want, but don't give up or blame yourself. This is just horses and not your fault. Hang in there.

    1. *wouldn't necessarily be surprised by

  10. What a rough ride :( I'm so sorry you are going through all of this! I know that my husband also struggles with the 'spend all the money, yet nothing seems to work' part of riding. What the previous posters have said is true, horses are complex, they are difficult, somedays downright impossible. Take a few days to do something nice for yourself and really mentally reset. I know I definitely have to do that sometimes. If wine doesn't hit the spot, I always go for a very, very strong margarita.