So here's what happens: I get shiny new followers and then totally drop off the face of the earth. Nice, right?
The good news is, I'm not actually dead. I've just been insanely busy - travel mixed in with work mixed in with ~~drama~~. (What's life without drama? Besides, you know, nice and relaxing and stuff.)
Right now I'm sitting in a rather cozy hotel room - it looks like it should be in a ski lodge - in a town that, I'm pretty sure, was built solely to service the main highway that runs through southern Ontario. This place is a cornucopia of cheap hotel rooms, fast food, and diners. Reminds me a lot of American truck stops, actually.
As for why I'm here? Well, I'm en route to a Big Fancy Horse Show, and decided the drive was too long to make in one straight shot. I considered flying, but road trips are fun... and when I saw, with my own two eyes, the amount of crap I packed into my car, I realized this was the right decision. There was *no way* I could have flown with all of it. There's not even enough space for another human being in there. (Which, for the record, is ridiculous, and probably means I over-packed. What do you mean I don't need six jackets?! Horse shows have their own weather patterns, you know.)
I'm on the cusp of actually feeling prepared for this horse show. As mentioned somewhere, the week before last we had lessons with the head trainer, whom, as mentioned at some point, dashed off to Aachen shortly thereafter, where he had a truly stunning go in the Nations' Cup, putting in only one of three double clears. The World Equestrian Games team is named later today and, barring disaster, he will be on it. Which is of course very exciting and will result in WEG parties. Not that we wouldn't have them anyway....
Beyond that, I felt that my darling pony was Not Quite Right. This began with some casual lead swapping at our last show about three and a half weeks ago. This put my antenna up, since this is totally not normal behavior for him. I gave him quite a long rest after that show - almost a week - and then went back to riding, and he still wasn't normal. He started swapping off his right lead - a problem which has plagued him in the past, and generally says to us, "hey, I am not comfy, okay?!" I also felt him "fall out" behind several times during our ride. I had the chiro take a look at him immediately, but it did nothing and I started to quietly freak out. The Assistant, I'm sure, thought I was nuts, since it was happening so very intermittently, but well... I know this horse and my inner radar was going "stifles stifles stifles stifles." So I had the vet out immediately, and he flexed Mr Pony, and... sure enough, stifles.
So he had those blistered (I know, I cringe too) and I travelled home to visit my family while a very kind friend hacked him out for me during that week. Unfortunately when they blister, they have to be worked every day for some time.
The plan was to blister, see how he felt, and if he required them, stifle injections prior to this Big Fancy Horse Show. I came back Tuesday, and did a jump school involving all kinds of rollbacks and crazy turns, and he handled them extremely well. I still don't think he's 150% - the strength I was feeling isn't totally there, and the beautiful suppleness isn't totally back either, but I'm hoping this is just time related. Anyway, if it's necessary, we can go back and inject the stifles any time... but I think it's fair to give him time to adjust to this and see how it goes. He's not typically a horse that responds to treatment within the world's shortest time frame and every time I ride him he's feeling better, so there's that.
For a quick lesson recap over the past week (for my own records if nothing else... this is quickly becoming The World's Longest Post):
Tuesday - small school, might have jumped 20 jumps, highest around 3'3" vertical, practiced jumping 3' oxer, landing and turning within one stride, Riley handled very well, I handled less well ha ha. He felt tired, I decided to be a Nice Mom and give him Wednesday off.
Thursday - Normal jump school with Psychotic Equine. Warmed up like crap, felt icky, spent awhile on phone with equine massage therapist who recommended some under saddle exercises, did these, helpful. Started jumping a little, nothing big, maybe 3ft, Riley turned into Equine Freight Train. Have never been totally unable to stop him before. Assistant thought this was v. funny. So did I, however less funny when he's galloping himself under a 3'3" oxer then levitating over top of it, then having to run into wall to stop. Ugh. Tightened noseband and flash, helped very (and I do mean very.) mildly, discussion of possible new bit introduced. Riley thought very amusing. Very cheerful. Me? Exhausted by the end. Went home, fell asleep around 9:30 PM. Hah.
Friday - Decided that Psychotic Equine needed a free lunge; did so then decided to ride bareback with halter and lead rope again. (Becoming addicted to *not* cleaning tack.) Psychotic Equine morphs into Perfect Equine, seriously, a genuine star. I felt amazingly sticky. Did everything we would do in a normal flat ride and then some, schooled over poles, leads, circles etc. Toward the end schooled at the trot, had him totally "on the bit" and doing half passes all over the arena. One of the coolest things EVER. Starting to see a theme with these bareback rides, they are awesome. Less awesome is the fact that I'm still really sore three days later but hey, take what you can get.
Saturday - Jump school, mildly less Psychotic Equine than before, still pretty cray cray. Jumps go up since he is less cray cray than before and we have a really really good school. Assistant built up a nice triple combination and I don't think I've ever felt quite so GOOD going through one. Riley felt like a small pegasus and I didn't go OHMYGODATRIPLECOMBINATIONI'MGOINGTODIEOHMYGODDDDDDDD like I usually do... sport psychology and visualization finally working...? We probably jumped it at around 1.05m, it wasn't quite 1.10m but it was definitely over 1m, so I was feeling fairly happy with that. The rest of the jumps were around 1.10m for verticals and 1.05m with oxers and I felt really comfortable with all of it. And Riley felt quite fabulous. Just really strong. So we are definitely changing the bit now.
Now I am off to continue this extremely lengthy drive and hope that my A/C doesn't give out after three hours like it did yesterday. (FUN!!!! Not.)