Blog .:. May 2011 7 Entries
It is with great sadness that I share this news with you. Ro is no longer a pony.
We sticked her this spring and she was 14.3ish. My heart breaks.
As if to make up for her technical horsey-ness, Ro has been spending this spring channeling her inner pony.
Unfortunately, that means she’s been giving me the proverbial short, choppy pony gaits.
But let’s be realistic. No matter how much I long for a pony, her pony gaits are not a function of her size. She only has them when any horse would have them: when she’s tense, hollow, and not coming from behind. Voila: insta-pony gaits.
All resolved naturally by really making her come from behind.
Which is the interesting catch-22 of riding, right? When you have a horse who is not quite balanced and through, if you push forward, they’re likely to rush and collapse on the front end. Instead of short, choppy strides, you get fast short, choppy strides. But if you slow them down to balance, you lose the energy and impulsion and have to build that back up somehow. Which means you have slow short, choppy strides.
Or, if not “you,” Ro and I. It’s the story of our lives. Or rides, if you like.
So, Ro and I have gone into boot camp. We’re going to go forward and straight if it kills us, and we’re going to find the trot that I know she has in her.
I can already feel a difference in her. I used to get on and it seemed like I spent most of the ride trying to get her to balance and connect, and now we have something to work with almost from the start. We’re still early in this boot camp, so strength is a major issue right now, but I’ve noticed that even when she falls out a bit, she’s still much more free in her trot than before, and it’s easier to ask her to reconnect. There’s definite progress.
And it shows on the lunge, too. She’s starting out in a trot that I would have been happy to end on last fall, and she’s really starting to figure out how to push from behind and open up in front. I actually stopped and texted a friend today, because I couldn’t believe the trot I saw—not only forward and balanced, but also really lifted at the withers for the first time and extending her shoulder up as well as out.
She has decent gaits on her, but that was a trot we could take into the ring and be very competitive with.
So - building, building, building. Forward, straight, strength. I can make peace with no longer owning a pony if this is the alternative, because this shows signs of turning into something pretty awesome.
This is Ro, right after we finished the trephination on Monday and moved her back to her stall:
A coworker took one look at the picture and said, “She looked confused. And pissed. Like she knows she should be pissed but she isn’t sure why.”
That’s about right.
She really was fabulous throughout everything, though. We flushed her again on Tuesday and Wednesday, and so far it seems to be working. The question will be whether it stays working or if in two or three weeks it all comes back again.
She’s already back in work, although I have given up on getting her into the show ring this spring.
We had a clinic scheduled for next weekend, but I called last week to take Ro out of it. I’m not particularly worried about the risk of EHV-1 in our area, but per discussion with my vet, there was a chance Ro would still be clearing out some snot for a week or two. In a non-EHV-1 atmosphere, I might have been able to work with the clinic organizer, provide vet records, whatever to reassure people about Ro’s health and the safety of their horses. But with EHV-1 in the picture… people would freak out, no matter what I said, my vet said, or the clinic organizer said.
Fortunately, the clinic organizer was very accommodating and we’ve moved our rides to the fall clinic. She ultimately cancelled next weekend’s clinic anyway (better to be safe than sorry), and I believe there are other riders moving to the fall clinic as well.
This is probably better anyway. Ro has had so much time off, and what riding we’ve done has been so inconsistent, that we wouldn’t have gotten as much from the clinic as we could have anyway. Hopefully we will be better prepared for fall. For much the same reasons, I’m not bothering to try to get her into a schooling show in June. I think EHV-1 will have blown over by then, but we might as well wait until fall when, again, we’ll hopefully be better prepared.
So, we’ll see. All this hinges on my being able to ride more consistently over the summer.
But my luck may be turning. As I said, I did not pick Animal Kingdom for my fantasy game, so you can go blame someone else for him coming second. Two of my picks did middling-well—Dialed In and Mucho Macho Man. Amazingly, my third pick won. Go Shackleford!
I think I’m well out of the running for the overall fantasy game, but it’s not like there’s any actual money involved. I’m kind of psyched that I picked the winner, and he wasn’t one of the favorites. That never happens. Now for the Belmont… then I can go back to ignoring racing again.
Let me tell you something about the Lady Who Feeds.
She’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
This morning, Lady Who Feeds showed up out of the blue while I was munching my hay. She never shows up in the morning to ride, so I figured I was getting more food. Awesome possum.
But no. She leads me out of the stall and right by the truck that belongs to the Man Who Pokes and Prods. Not cool. Not cool at all.
They put me in the washrack and gave me one of those shots that makes me all sleepy and sweaty, which, really: yuck. And then stuff got quiet. A radio got turned off, and people walking by would be noisy, noisy, noisy… look at us all… and go by as quietly as possible. They’d look at me, then look away, and what, am I leper or something? Totally rude. Admire me, don’t ignore me.
But Lady Who Feeds was scratching my forehead, which I like, and then the Man Who Pokes and Prods was scratching my forehead, which was cool. And this is what I mean about Jekyll-and-Hyde, ok?—
Here they all are, telling me how awesome I am and scratching my forehead… and then they drilled a hole in my head. They drilled a farking hole in my head.
Not cool. So not cool.
Fortunately for all of them, by the time I realized what they were doing, the hole was drilled. They were all quiet again and not messing around with my head, so I took a few moments to contemplate my revenge… and suddenly the Man Who Pokes and Prods was fussing around my head and there were some weird, weird sensations going on. And then there was some nasty-tasting liquid coming out of my head, which I’m sure is not how things are supposed to go.
I started to make a fuss, but oddly, I just couldn’t be bothered to do too much. I still haven’t figured out why I didn’t kick them all to smithereens. That’s just not like me.
It seemed to go on forever, though, that nasty water dripping out of my head. While I was trying to figure out if I should spit it out or drink it, I kept half an ear on their conversation. They were talking about the size of my brain, and how small it is, and I’d just like to point out that I was not the one coming up with idiotic ideas like drilling holes in heads. What’s the point of having a big brain if you can’t recognize a stupid idea when you have one?
Then, thank god, it was all over and the Man Who Pokes and Prods stapled up my head, like I’m some sort of school assignment, and the Lady Who Feeds took me back to my stall. I admit I was looking forward to munching on some hay while I contemplated my revenge, but she did the unthinkable—she took away my hay. Pure evil.
But for the next hour, she kept coming by and telling me how awesome I was, with lots of scratches, and eventually she came to her senses and gave me back my hay, which was awesome. I was thinking, hey, she’s back to reasonable again. Life is good.
And then—as if I hadn’t been through enough—The Guy Who Messes With My Hooves showed up. Honestly. Do they have no compassion?
I got a hole drilled in my head in the morning, and now they wanted me to stand and let him mess with my feet? I let them know just what I thought about that, but they had no sense of humor. That’s ok. There’s a time and place for revenge. The Guy probably isn’t to blame here. I’m sure it’s Lady Who Feeds.
About the time my tail hairs were starting to turn black with resentment, they finished. I got to go chill out in my stall for a bit, which was probably good for them. And after a bit, Lady Who Feeds came back… again… but this time we just went for a long, long hand walk with a little trotting. I was good with that, actually. It was nice to be out and moving around, especially since Lady Who Feeds more or less let me pick the pace and didn’t get too pushy about how fast or slow we were going.
I halfway expected her to try something stupid when we went back to my stall, like tacking me up, but she appears to have gotten over her evil side. She fed me lunch and then left me alone with my hay for the rest of the day. Finally.
But really—what was the point of all this? In the morning, I’m happily munching on hay. In the afternoon, I’m happily munching on hay. We could have done without all the stuff in the middle, you know?
What with one thing and another, I’ve completely fallen out of any sort of fitness/weight loss effort.
And started eating sugar again.
Bad, very bad. Tasty, but very bad.
I’ve just about reached my ‘no tolerance’ point again, at which moment I will magically kick myself in gear and get back on track. I get to that point very slowly, so I have lots of time to mentally adjust to the fact that my life is going to suck again while I weed out bad habits and groan through character-building exercises like situps and skipping the bakery section in the grocery store.
Yesterday I acknowledged the inevitable and cleaned my apartment. Those warning sirens you heard, and all the Hazmat-logoed trucks you saw driving by? All me.
I’ve been busy. Perhaps a little less observant than usual. I had no idea the dust would rise up, rise up some more, and then attack the shedded cat hair. But now stuff is clean and I can open the curtains again without worrying that passing neighbors will report me to the health department. I’ve even found the carpet again.
That means I have room to start getting back into shape. Yeah, yeah. I have a gym membership. People go to gyms to get into shape. Here’s a secret: people go to gyms to get into shape after they are already in enough shape that they don’t have to worry about passing out on the treadmill next to the cheerleader who is sprinting while texting and not—this is important—breaking a sweat.
In other words: having found my carpet, I would like to spend a week or two finding my abs before I subject myself to public humiliation. Of course, this means I can’t open the curtains yet in case neighbors walk by and call an ambulance for me, but hey—if I wanted to open my curtains, I could.
Riding high on yesterday’s marathon cleaning session, I hopped out of bed this morning and prepared to do some exercises. Push—- oh, look at the cute kitty, rolling around on the floor, begging to be petted. Awwwww…. she’s laying on her back and wants her tummy rubbed (she chases her tail, too—this cat thinks she’s a dog).
Push up, let down, pet the cat. Push up, let down, pet the cat.
I have a feeling this is not a very effective exercise routine. Neither is sit up, lay back, push the cat off my belly, sit up, lay back, push the cat off my belly.
Or squat, untangle the kitty from my ankles, stand up, squat, untangle…
Now I understand. Gyms were created to save people from their pets. Onyx and I are clearly going to have to have a very long conversation about this, probably with her shut in the bedroom while I work out in the living room.
In the meantime, I hope my two and a half pushups, one squat, and three situps qualifies as a “start.”
It’s the thought that counts, right? I mean, I know exercising can’t be all mental… actually, it kind of is all mental, but not in an “It’s the thought that counts” kind of way.
Why am I doing this again? I think Onyx may have the right idea, here. Who needs situps when you can just pet a cat and lower your blood pressure instead?
I understand there are people out there who are still shedding out their horses.
It must suck to be you.
Our lovely, springy spring has given way to a very sunny early summer. Long daylight hours, no bad weather—we’re set. Perfect get-back-in-shape weather.
And so we are. Getting back in shape, I mean.
Yesterday, Ro helped me exercise my core muscles by crow hopping a bit. Since I am riding stirrupless or with only one stirrup (yay, broken foot), I did have to sit up and use my seat a little. Just a little, to match her little crow hop. Neither one of us is interested in straining something, so we’re easing into fitness carefully.
To celebrate our return to work, we’re going trail riding on Saturday. Weather should be perfect, not too much heat or humidity—generally, conditions ought to be about perfect for our first outing in ages.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
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