Wow, did I get lazy over the holidays. I mean, I didn’t slow down, but I totally forgot about my writing…my writing about my riding. That’s what the auto correct on my voice to text turns the word “riding” in to. It makes it “writing” every time! There must be something to that.
I think that I also stalled because things weren’t going so great. It’s easy to talk about the good stuff. My first OTTB, Fullback, was having some foot problems…again. He’d been in glue-on shoes for 18 months, because of chronic abscesses, and they were not doing him any favors anymore, so we went back to nail on shoes. It was a very tough choice to make, because he’d been sound in glue-ons, but his hooves were suffering with the long term use of Equilox. We got through the first round just fine, but had an abscess 10 days after putting on the second set. I think the stress of “what have I done” was worse than the actual issue this time, but still…
In the meantime, only Riley was working. Things were going so, so well. Our jumps and our timing were getting better each week. I made the mistake of telling one of my trainers that he was my “horse of a lifetime.” He was an absolute blast on the trails and out hunting, though still in the third flight. We were planning a February trip to Aiken and the call came New Year’s Day at noon. “Riley doesn’t look quite right. He’s standing in the field kicking at his belly and pawing at the ground and his friends galloped off and he didn’t go with them.” To add to this, Christmas week had been just an awful week for my friends and their horses. I’d had three friends lose horses to colic, two of them were particularly ugly. I had one acquaintance lose three horses on the same day.
Riley, Opening Hunt in November 2020. Debra Cogan photo
I was there in 15 minutes. Strangely, he didn’t look colicky, but he was very lame. First, you’d think abscess, but it was high up. Had he tied up and was just sore all over? I He couldn’t really use his left hind leg to bear weight. I was sure he’d broken something. I called his previous/current part owner, his vet, three times on New Year’s Day. He told me that if there was no blood and there was no bone sticking out, that it was not an emergency, kindly watched the video that I sent, and told me what to do for him.
Fast forward a few days that felt very slow and he’d gotten much better, but he still wasn’t right. It was at that point that I got kind of panicky. See, this is the hard part for me about the postponement of the Makeover. I was ready in October, 2020. Will I still be ready in October, 2021? Will I be ready again?
He’d be intermittently better and then worse again. Not to the point of day one or day two, but we were really not moving forward. He was getting antsy about being in at night and in a paddock during the day. He lives outside, normally, and the change to his routine was not going well. We’ve compromised on a paddock, alone and near friends, 24/7 for now. He’s adjusting.
Dr Harrison came and watched him under tack last Monday. He was wild, but had much improved movement. He’s cleared, so I’ll carry on. Back to work we go and Aiken again looks like a real possibility. I’ll have some acupuncture and cold laser done as treatment.
I haven’t been to Aiken, with horses, in a few years. One of my best friends lives there, year round, so I’ve been to visit. It’s the coolest town. The first year I went, I tried to explain this little tiny town to people that I know, both horse people and non-horse people. The best that I could come up with is this…us horse people, the ones that really have the disease, spend most of their life feeling like a Martian on Earth. We don’t mix with “normal” people or with most of our family. All we want to talk about is horses, so amongst the general population, we don’t “fit.” Aiken is like Mars. Everyone there is a Martian. They wear breeches and boots all day, and yep, straight to dinner. We fit right in. It’s in Aiken, where if you don’t do horses, you don’t “fit.” I fit right in.
Fullback at my first, and only, event, Aiken 2019
I’m really excited about the trip, though cautious about COVID. I don’t fall in to a population that will have been vaccinated when we go, so I’ll have to be extra vigilant. I’m going to take two horses for two weeks, so that I can do all of the things. We’ll trail ride, foxhunt, horse show, hunter pace, go cross country, and fit in a clinic with Charlotte Cannon!
This week, I took Riley to a Stephanie Seheult clinic at the Stables at Rolling Ridge. Stephanie is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, who is also a rider. She doesn’t want to know anything about you before she watches you ride. She gave me a sexy black jacket to wear that didn’t fit and had neon green lines on it. We did a few circles and spent the bulk of our time trotting and cantering away from her on the centerline. She told me exactly where I was crooked and compensating. Then, we went to the lounge for some discussion and I learned just a few easy stretches that I can do at home. As we went back to the indoor, I learned two more stretches that I can do just before I ride. I got back on afterwards, and presto, I was fixed! Not really, but at least I had a clue on how to help myself. It was really cool! She’s from the west coast, and is a bit hard to get, but if you get the chance it’s well worth it!
My next update, assuming all goes well, will be post Aiken, and should include lots of pictures and videos. Is anyone reading this going to be in Aiken the last two weeks in February? If so, let me know. I’d love to meet, socially distant, of course!
Lindy Gutman lives in Westminster, MD with her husband, Adam, two hounds, a mini pig, and three Off the Track Thoroughbreds. She describes herself as an “amateur’s amateur” and has ridden, in some capacity, most of her 51 years. She balances a full time job in sales with foxhunting and showing hunters at the terrifying, towering height of 2’3”-2’6.” The Thoroughbred Makeover is her loftiest goal to date. Talk Show Man is her first restart project.