disgusto leg wrap-update

When it left you last, Murray’s disgusto leg was your standard level of disgusting keratosis leg, but nowhere near cancer-leg.  Since then, it has become so much more disgusting before getting better.

looks like it’s healing, right? WRONG

First, the adhered scabby bits fell off with a little encouragement (I know, we’re not supposed to encourage that kind of thing, but it was seriously holding on by like 2 square mm and I couldn’t get the ointment underneath otherwise!)

i cut lots of bits of dead skin off per veterinarian advice
my hand is in most of these pics both for scale and because it helps my dumb phone camera focus

The last little bit revealed some pretty deep… wound or whatever it was underneath. But it got on with the business of healing over through secondary intention.  Ya know.  Standard healing mumbo jumbo.

looks like it’s healing right? WRONG

The above picture is from 8/8.  The next one is from 8/28.  During Camelot I wrapped the mostly-closed-and-dry wound with a little triple abx, telfa, and vetwrap before putting boots on.  It was a little yucky after because it, predictably, ripped off the scab, but after Camelot it seemed to dry up and close over nicely afterward.  I was like, this is totally healing and normal!  Look it’s all closed over!

Except what’s what weird edema-lump?

I started to wrap again at this point, which I’d been neglecting for a few weeks because I’m part of the “let it dry out” school of wound healing.  I bought this pack of vetwrap knockoffs earlier in the ordeal and started working my way through the ugly colours (red and lime green, obviously leaving purple and teal and pink for a more glorious time).  Murray didn’t seem to care if we poked, prodded, pulled, or wrapped the lump, so we continued with vetwrap+telfa as before.

I finally got the vet out after the WSS show because the lump wasn’t going away. She poked and prodded it a fair bit and managed to pull off a deceiving scabby bit that was hiding some fairly angry skin underneath.  In her words, it wasn’t proud flesh yet, but it almost wanted to be.  Weirdly, Murray didn’t give a shit that the vet had poked and prodded his leg and pushed off the scab.  The middle of the wound, however, was kinda puffy and pink and angry.

Ugh. Gross. Proud flesh, which I had been trying to avoid the whole time.  The next pic is blurry and shitty, but you can see how angry the middle of the wound was — and this was after a day of topical steroids.

The vet prescribed a week of steroids, wrapping with vetwrap + standing wraps to avoid any weird swelling stuff, and no turnout for a little while.  Five days in, the steroids have done a magnificent job and I’m kinda wondering why I can’t put steroids on every little booboo?

So that’s where we’re at with disgusto leg.  Still not lame, still not painful, just disgusto.

To add insult to injury, of course, almost all of the keratosis on the other legs has come back despite gentle and frequent currying.  So… it’s time to try some of those other ointments to break that shit down.  I cannot believe that last year, when I basically didn’t groom this horse for three months other than a brief brush over the saddle area, I got almost no keratosis build up, and this year it’s a legit problem.  Ugh. Why.

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shaping energy

Way back before the one-day, and even before Camelot, Murray and I were having some pretty badass dressage rides.  Murray was exceptionally willing and stretchy, and I got some new perspective and ideas from finally cracking open — and then plowing through — When Two Spines Align.  I’ll do a proper book review soon, but wanted to get down one of the neat/important concepts that really worked for Murray and I.

When reading about dressage I’ve encountered the phrase or idea that you need to “shape the energy” to what you want it to be.  Which is a great idea.  Only I have no idea what the fuck it means or how to do it.  Like, are we talking Dragon Ball Z style or Street Fighter or what?

Image result for dragon ball zImage result for street fighter hadouken

Fortunately, Beth Baumert takes some time to actually explain this concept in a few different places.  One of which has to do with using your inside aids to create the bend and suppleness that you want from your horse (my words, not hers), and then use your outside aids to maintain the steering on the circle.  This is just one piece of what she talks about in the book, but for the moment it’s the most relevant piece.

When working on my transitions and trying to make them actually count (another concept that  Beth and absolutely every other dressage coach I’ve ever encountered seems to espouse), I ran into my same old same old problem of Murray falling away from my inside leg and inverting/popping up through the transitions.  This is not something that repetition and time has just “solved” for us (um, does it actually solve anything other than open wounds?), despite the fact that I only ever pat/reward/praise Murray for round transitions and we frequently end up re-doing inverted ones.

fairly representative of most of our transitions: if not actually inverted, then braced against the hand

I used my inside aids to get Murray’s bend and attention back, which I often do.  Then, as I felt him falling out on the circle (as he often does), I had the bright idea of using my outside aids to actually steer.  I didn’t clamp down on him with my outside leg or pull on the outside rein, I just firmed up those aids so they were present, but not overbearing.  I also stopped looking down and looked around the circle, which was probably helpful.  In response, Murray softened and stayed round and on a circle.  It was like magic!

I definitely had to continue using this strategy though, it wasn’t quite a “set it and forget it” aid.  We’d drift off of the circle or lose some bend or lose a little forward, so I’d push for a little more forward, then shape that forward energy into roundness and bend again.

This actually paid off even more during the transitions.  Before the transition I would do the same thing: shape Murray with my inside aids, steer and capture the energy with the outside aids (see, now even I’m using meaningless aphorisms to describe riding!), and then ask for the upward transition within a stride or two while we were straight and VOILA!!! Magnificent transitions.  It was pretty cool.

So that was a neat little revelation that has been pretty useful to my riding.  And I do finally understand the idea of shaping and capturing energy.  By pushing Murray into my outside rein with my inside leg, I’m adding sideways energy.  But for Murray, the easiest response to that is to let that sideways energy peter out by actually going sideways.  So instead of letting that energy just “escape” sideways, I capture it with my outside leg and hand, and recycle it in the direction I want — which is forward.  So I really am shaping it from my inside leg to my outside hand.  So I’m basically a dragon ball z master now.

HADOUKEN!!!

one-day horse show in numbers

200 — approximate man hours spent dragging the course and reworking the footing after it got absolutely annihilated and baked in the California sun for months and months

112 — projected temperature for the day of the show, in the middle of a six day heat wave

111 — temperature actually reached on the day of the show, well after all of the competitors were done with their rides

80 — hours spent painting, flowering, flagging, mulching, and rock-picking by hand on course

64 — starters on the morning of the show

18 — concerned queries we received regarding what we would be doing to keep horses and riders safe in the heat

10 — compliments on the adjusted show schedule

8 — ice and water buckets placed around the facility for riders to sponge themselves and their horses

7 — hours spent putting up and taking down misters on the temporary stables

october fence decorating plans!

6 — total number of hours we ran the show — 65 competitors pushed through three phases between 7:00 am and 1:00 pm!  riders traveled from dressage to stadium within about 45 minutes, then immediately on to XC. no rider had to be on their horse for more than 2 hours.

5 — adult sodas consumed while cleaning up after show’s end

4 — days before the show that we completely re-adjusted the schedule so that nobody would ride past 1 PM

3 — nights where I slept for at least 12 hours to recover from the show

2 — dressage rings running simultaneously

1 — month until we do it again (less than, actually!)

 

camelot bonus reel: blogger meetup

One of the funnest things about Camelot has always been showing there with my friends.  We’ve been going to Camelot for years and years and years — seriously, I think my trainer first took students to a one day schooling HT there back in 2011.  My first show there was 2013 — from which I was summarily eliminated, but I had a ton of fun riding Quincy around bareback at night with my friends despite that.

This year, I knew pretty early on that Kate was bringing students, and Olivia would be coming, so it was for sure going to be a mini blogger meetup.  I tried to rustle up a few other locals, but alas none more were to be had.  No fear, both Kate and Olivia brought many incredibly adorable horses, which more than made up for it.

Sorry, Olivia. I suck at selfies.

But the highlight of meeting other bloggers was meeting Keith W. Matapouri of Post the Trot.  (Also sorry Olivia and Kate that meeting up with you guys wasn’t the best part of the weekend. I mean blogger meetup.)  In the time-honored tradition of the close blogging community, though, I’m going to refer to Keith by a made-up blogger name.  Let’s go with Kathy.  Kathy seems like a good, strong, blogger name.

I actually knew I was in the presence of Kathy even before we had been properly introduced.  It was just one of those things.  I don’t want to imply that I’m a stalker or anything.  But you know when you see something you’ve never actually seen before in person, you’ve only heard/read about it, but the second you lay eyes on it you know that this is that thing you’ve read about? It was like the first time I ever saw a gerenuk.  I’d never seen a picture of a gerenuk, I’d just heard of them, and then there was a gerenuk standing there in the scrub and I shouted KATHY GERENUK!!

Image result for gerenukthis is what it was like to spy Kathy

Alternately, you know when your dog jumps off the couch and makes that kinda subtle smile at you, and you know that you need to rush her outside right away because she’s about to start puking on the carpet (even though she hasn’t started heaving or gurgling yet)?

It was kinda like that.

Anyway, Kathyand I spent a little bit of time chatting after I introduced myself.  We had a fascinating and in-depth conversation about the appearance, function, role, and genetics of dapples.  Interestingly, did you know that nobody really understands dapples?  I mean the dapples that show up seasonally, not dapples that stick year-round on gray horses.  We think it’s genetic, it seems to be associated with nutrition in some cases, and some horses get to have dapples even when their nutrition is total shit.  So what regulates whether a horse gets the ability to get dapples (like, what gene even controls dapples REALLY?), if a horse gets dapples within its lifetime, and how big/bright/patterned/obvious those dapples are?

NOBODY KNOWS. It’s interminably frustrating.  Kathy understood.

Kathy also promised to take me horse boating sometime, so that’s pretty cool.

Image result for gerenuk(I did, actually, see gerenuk a few times living in Kenya. This picture is from MF Kinnard at Mpala, which was essentially right nextdoor to where I lived in Kenya. Like, as nextdoor as you get when you live on a 200 square kilometer conservancy.)

 

hunt & seek

On Saturday night I walked Murray around bareback in his wraps to stretch him out from cross country, and liberally used some of my homemade liniment on both him and myself.  The upside is that Murray doesn’t seem to hate my homemade liniment.  The downside is that, while it feels nice, I don’t think it does shit.  I mean, it certainly hasn’t helped the healing of my knees.  The formula might need some tweaking.  We’ll work on it.

It’s been a while since I walked my horse around bareback in the dark, and Kate commented likewise.  It was fun.  Murray powerwalked when we had company, and meandered when we were alone.  That night I slept like the dead.

there’s so much good stadium media thanks to the Kathy(s)

My knee was almost pain-free on Sunday morning, but it was also very, very stiff.  I was hobbling around like a peg-legged pirate getting Murray ready.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned this lately (it’s probably worth its own post) but Murray has made huge strides in tacking up lately.  At shows he’s been downright normal — it takes me five minutes to tack him up, and boy is that nice compared to 25 minutes.

Unfortunately for me, my knee was not holding up as well in the saddle as it had on Saturday.  Posting was a little painful (though the pain decreased as I rode), and I had a distinct feeling of unsteadiness in my two point.  Murray was a little sleepy feeling, but perked up when we started jumping.  I was back to riding like a juggalo, and leaned and kicked and crammed Murray to a couple of awful spots.  At one point I leaned and took my legs off to an oxer and Murray came to a gentle stop in front of the fence.  I turned to B and made excuses for myself, namely “my knee is really fucked right now.”

“This is when you have to really ride perfectly then,” she responded. “Dig deep. Don’t think about it.”

ugh I just ❤ him so much

I came back around to the oxer and pointedly did not get ahead and kept my leg on, and Murray was more than happy to comply.  I stopped warming up after that, hoping to save both Murray and myself for the actual stadium round, and did some meditative deep breathing to put the pain out of my mind.  I had walked the course the evening before, and given the state of my knee I wasn’t about to walk it again.  B walked it separately and we had a little pow-wow on the strategy for the fences.  I told her I was planning to try to square out my turn between 2 and 3 to avoid a weird curvy line, but she said it wouldn’t be too bad to bend as long as we didn’t drift.  She told me not to rush the turn to fence 5 and let myself take my time to get there, and to take the outside turn from 8 to 9, not the (tempting if I had been feeling better) inside turn.  Otherwise, it was a sweeping, fun course that felt a little oddly familiar.

It’s no secret that Murray and I have struggled a lot with stadium (also in general).  We have had bouts of mystery stops, major problems with distraction, spookiness, being afraid of standards, not even making it to stadium because we got eliminated… you name a stadium problem, and we’ve probably had it.  And I’ve spent a not-insignificant amount of time watching people cruise around stadium courses with horses that seem like they are going no matter what.  You know the horse — the rider can be flapping and flopping and not riding at all, and yet nothing short of an unseasonal hurricane would stop them from jumping the next fence.  I have longed for that horse.  While I’m flopping and flapping and kicking and pushing and kissing and coaxing, I have wondered many times why I do not have that horse.

uphill-fence-attacking-canter

On Sunday, I had that horse.

Murray was a little looky when we entered the stadium arena, and I struggled to get him into a canter to the first fence because he was staring at everything.  I gave him a little precautionary tap on the shoulder as we approached, and Murray was right there for the fence.  We had a big sweeping rollback to the oxer for two, and once again, Murray was on top of it.  The line to 3 could have been more square, but Murray locked onto the fence and took me there.  There was another big sweeping turn to 4AB, and not only did Murray see the fence and go there, but he took the long spot into the combination and made the two inside the combo.

Murray making the combo happen

The turn to five was good, but after fence five I couldn’t seem to get my body back under control.  I couldn’t get my right knee to bend so I could get my butt back down toward the saddle, so I was left awkwardly hanging on Murray’s mouth as we made the turn to six.  This directly caused Murray to take six down, since I was hovering over his withers, and he got deep deep deep to the fence.

murray: I can’t can’t jump good when you are crooked and perchy!

No matter, he recovered amazingly and powered up to seven in the five strides it measured.

murray: leave the fallen!

We had a very Murray approach to fence 8, the first one with strange/scary fill and the dreaded sharkstooth fence.  I managed to keep my body under control and my leg on, so even though we got deep we got over it, and left it up.

taking the deep one

The rollback to 8 yielded the fantastic jump near the top of this post (american flag fence), and then we gunned it home over the knights oxer.

 

Blurry stadium video below!  I need to clean my phone camera lens.

I’m not going to pretend that the ribbon doesn’t matter to me — I’m glad I got to take home some satin, because I’m a money-grubbing whore and #swag.  But the ribbon really was just icing.  For a move-up show that looked like it could go pretty spectacularly shittily on Friday evening, there wasn’t a single thing I would have changed about the weekend (er, except spraining my knee).

I have been working and waiting four years for this ride.  To feel like this is a partnership we are both committed to, where we can complement and improve one another.  To know that I’m not bullying and forcing my horse into something he actively dislikes and barely tolerates because it’s what I want to do.

I wasn’t all there this weekend, and Murray stepped in to make up the difference (again, actually).  And he did it at a new height, avoiding the problems we’ve had before.  I feel like we could do anything together if we just put our minds to it.

I don’t know where we are going from here.  But wherever it is, I know we can do it.

not throwing away my shot

I didn’t sleep at all on Friday night.  I mean, I probably napped and dozed a bit, but there was no true sleep to be had.  It was warm until the wee hours, and never really cooled down enough for me to need any blankets.  To add insult to injury, it turns out that you use/twist/stretch the ligaments in your knees a lot without realizing it.  A lot like every time you roll over or change positions, which it turns out you do a lot when sleeping on hard ground, you will be reminded of your injury with shooting pain up and down your leg.  So when braiding time — 5 am — rolled around I was already awake and peering out at the ponies.  Murray was snoozing quietly, so I took my time slowly getting out of my sleeping bag, putting on some clothing, and hobbling over to the bathrooms.  Murray and I braided in the slowly lightening pre-dawn, and while it wasn’t my best job, it held for our test.

I wasn’t going to let my knee prevent me from riding in the show.  Murray had been so phenomenally honest and fun after my tumble during schooling that I knew we could pull off a solid cross country run.  We just had to get there first.  I downed three ibuprofen while one of my friends went out to get me some more, and got on right on time at 7:35 for my 8:00 ride.  My knee did not feel great, but it wasn’t too bad, as long as I didn’t lean on the right stirrup too much or move too quickly.  This definitely changed how I approached the ride.  Based on how Murray felt a little behind my leg and small, but still relaxed and round, I wanted to push him forward for more ground cover.  But I knew that if pushing led to any kind of antics the likelihood that I would be able to stay on through them was small at best.  Also, squeezing with both of my calves hurt!!  So I kept it low key and just asked for little bits of increased ground cover and impulsion.

I developed a new warm up routine last week that I wanted to use at the show.  It focused on transitions on a circle, which have been problematic for Murray and I in the past: I always tend to just ask for a canter and pray that it goes well in the test, because the transitions are so explosive in the warm up.  This time, I wanted to really school the transitions and get Murray listening to my seat for the transitions to hopefully minimize tension and make the transitions more every-day feeling.

Murray was so quiet during the warmup that I was done early, and we walked over to the dressage court to see if I could head in a few minutes early (the one perk of being the first in your division).  Murray tensed up again when we went into the new arena, but I went back to our transitions on a circle, and he settled.  He still wasn’t as round as he had been in warmup, but it was still very good for us.

The test itself felt fantastic.  I haven’t been practicing my centerlines, and haven’t had a measured court to practice in for a little while, so my geometry was not what it could have been.  Like… my first circle was more like a 15 meter circle.  I realised that we were pretty far off the rail during the circle, but there wasn’t much I could do about it since we’d already started turning back toward the centerline.  I held my breath for the right canter transition, but it was beautiful.  I mean, there’s not really much more to say.  You can see for yourself.

Collectives:
Gaits – 6.5, some tension
Impulsion – 6
Submission – 6.5
Rider – 6.5
Overall – Need to develop rounder topline, some tension, try to place down trans between letters, work on throughness back to front

It was awesome.  It’s taken a while to get us to work together so well in public.  Feels pretty amazing.

After dressage I hung out and watched Olivia’s ride while luxuriating in my friend’s Back on Track quick wrap.  It felt niiiiice.  And even better, my knee felt way better after taking the BOT wrap off.  I didn’t walk my cross country course because, well, there was no way I was gimping around that thing on foot.  It was mostly on the same track as the BN course from June, and I read the course map, so I figured we’d be fine.

Fortunately for me, my knee felt pretty awesome by the time we got around to cross country time.  Almost normal again.  We jumped a few warmup fences, had a little gallop, but kept it pretty quiet.  I knew we’d be making a conservative cross country run, because all I wanted was to jump all the things and not fall off.

Murray was a total champion on cross country.  I just had to point him at a fence and his response was “that one? okay, let’s go.”  It’s a good thing he was feeling so honest, because at one point when we started going the wrong direction and had to make a sudden (albeit shallow) change of direction, my knee let me know with some stabbing pains that such maneuvers would not be repeatable.  Even better, we managed to ride pretty much according to plan!  I planned to circle Murray well in advance of the trakehner to avoid him galloping down to the fence and not seeing it in time.  If you recall from June, the approach to the trakehner is downhill, and Murray tends to turn into a little snowball running downhill, gathering momentum and ignoring everything in his path.  We circled well back, but Murray ate up the ground between the circle and the trak. I gave him just a whisper of added leg, and over we went.

We did have two stops, neither of which I gave a second thought to.  The first was at the first water entrance, which is a new pond on the back side of the course.  The water was dark, brown, and frothy at our entrance, and I do not blame Murray at all for not wanting to walk in there.  He wavered back and forth for a few minutes before leaping over the foam and running through.  The second was at the down bank, which Murray understandably suggested we just skip.  We came in just barely under optimum time for no time penalties.

We totally deserved the stops, but at the same time I feel like they don’t really count.  Maybe I’m having my cake and eating it too, but what horse doesn’t want to stop at a muddy water trap that looks like it might be harboring lepto, and a down bank that ended rather poorly very recently?  Maybe it doesn’t bother me because I know that those are two really easy to fix issues — we just need more practice.  No deep, underlying issues that will take months of backtracking to fix.  No evidence of serious training holes that I’ve neglected for years.  Just surface scratches that we can buff out with a little wax-on-wax-off.

It felt pretty freaking awesome to know that we conquered our first Novice course with so much more success than our move up to BN two years ago.


also, Kate let me school this little nugget on Friday so that was a huge plus

teamwork makes the dream work

Camelot’s August event was everything I hoped it would be, and then some.  I don’t quite have the energy for a full recap (I’m still catching up thanks to a sleepless Friday night and minor flesh wounds to both knees), but there are too many good pictures not to share some of them.  The short story is that we were successful.  But in reality, I’d categorize this as more of a wildly successful outing for us.

c/o Kate’s friend, Kathy. Thanks Kathy!

Thanks to my own stupidity and inability to ride down banks, I tweaked both of my knees on Friday afternoon while schooling the utterly enormous and incredibly inappropriate for the level 3′-ish bank that was flagged for the Novice course.  I suck at banks and we haven’t practiced them in a year, so we worked our way up to the big one.  Murray was fine going down the littler ones, but could clearly sense my hesitation and lack of desire to go down the biggest bank, so he stopped a few times.  I finally approached it with some commitment, then promptly lost my left stirrup. Murray turned a hard right upon landing, and physics was not in my favor.  I kept going straight.  As I slid over the saddle my right foot must have become caught up somehow, because my knee twisted on the way over.  I initially landed on my left foot, but promptly fell to my knee.

I lay there in the dirt, both of my knees stinging, while Murray stood next to me and judged me for my silly actions.  Eventually I gathered up the gumption to stand (stung knees hurt, yo!), got back on, and we schooled the bank and a few other fences with great success.


I love the Camelot standards. Thanks Kathy!

The whole weekend was really an exercise in teamwork, though!  First, Kate kindly hauled Murray to the show as we were short one trailer spot from my barn.  To my great pleasure, Murray happily walked right into Kate’s trailer, and then unloaded quietly once at Camelot.  Kate even had a pin of just the right dimensions to fix our own trailer woes, when the 3-horse we were borrowing was short a pin to keep the back divider closed.  I mean, if that isn’t a beautiful coincidence, I just don’t know what is.


a couple of fences at Camelot have glow in the dark paint!

After spraining said knees, one friend loaned me her horse’s Back on Track wraps, another drove to get me ibuprofen at a nearby gas station, and everyone pitched in to help fetch, carry, and lift while I limped around the facility like a pirate.  The good news that is NSAIDs and BOT helped my knee to feel pretty much normal by cross country time.  I don’t really know how I feel about Back on Track gear… part of me thinks it’s juju voodoo horsey pseudoscience.  The other part of my knows that the BOT treated knee was way warmer than the untreated knee, and it felt WAY WAY BETTER after putting the wraps on.  So… we’ll need to play with evidence based medicine for that one.

Kate’s Kathy and Olivia’s husband kindly got pictures of me during my stadium ride, which were so appreciated when I realized after stadium that in the course of bumping my camera around on my hip I had deleted every single picture from the entire weekend.  I felt sick when I realized that I had done that through carelessness and bad habits (of not turning off my camera or protecting my images).

picture credit to David on this one!

There was even some pretty solid team work getting my outfit together.  I’ve been admiring the Winston coats for a while, but they are solidly outside of my budget in even an off-the-rack scenario.  A couple of months ago L alerted me to a tack sale for an Oregon tack store that was going out of business, and they had a Winston in just my size for an amount that I could, somewhat drunkenly (and only if I don’t look up the email to see what the actual price is) justify paying for.  I hemmed and hawed over it, and Peony told me to do it (and buy a Samshield alongside to boot, but they had none in my size).  And Megan concurred. So I bought it.  It didn’t quite have the shiny buttons I wanted, so I headed to Etsy and found the brushed stainless buttons I needed, easily replaced the old ones on the front of the coat and voila!

 I adore everything about the damn thing, and having a really, really well-fitting coat is just so nice for me.

It was such a wonderful weekend to spend with friends from all different avenues of my life.  I can’t wait to do it again — maybe in April, guys?!