Sunday, August 29, 2010

Third Time's the Charm

Hard to believe, but summer on the farm is over. After a very brief turnaround from Huntington, papa and I loaded Kiki up one more time and made the big trek back to California to return to my nine months of the year home at Stanny. Kiki was a bit mystified to be on the road again, but travelled beautifully. My pre-existing sleep debt plus many hours on the road effectively turned my brain to mush, so I won't even try to go into a big blow by blow. I will just say that, man, this country is beautiful, every single part of it. This was Papa's and my third time making this trip, and the more of it I see, the more I want to see. Every horizon contains so many roads, so many vistas yet to be explored. Someday I want to take a real road trip, without a horse (and the accompanying need for efficiency) and try to see as much of this great country as I can.

In the meantime, I will be spending the next few weeks fulfilling a more than lifelong dream. It may be a little while until I writ again, but don't worry: I'll have a lot to tell :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Huntington

OK I'm super brain dead and have to start cooking dinner in a minute, so this might not be my most eloquent post, but I've got to write in because I'm sooo proud of my newly minted TRAINING PONY!!

I haven't been to Huntington in over fours years (since my very first Prelim with Dually!) and it's looking just as beautiful as ever. The footing was actually much better than I remember (I always think of it being so wet and boggy), and even with the rain that we eventually ended up getting everything held up remarkably well.

Kiki did NOT enjoying being rained on during our dressage warmup, especially at one point when it was raining so hard that the water went into her ears! I was really proud of how she pulled it together when we went in the ring though, and we produced a test that I thought was steady and relaxed. The judge did NOT agree, apparently, and so we got a much worse score than I thought we deserved, but I was still pleased with her which was the bottom line. It was also one of those annoying things where every time I rode by the judge's box, I glanced over and saw that the judge wasn't even looking at what was happening; she was slouched in her chair looking down at the table. OK, one time I can see that happening, but literally every time I rode by the end of the ring? No one is putting a gun to this woman's head to be there judging; why not at least watch the entire ride? Alright, stepping off my soapbox now... that's just one of my big pet peeves.

After a quick turn around, we were off again to go cross country. I'd walked the course the night before, and was really excited! There were a few bigger fences and new questions, but overall it looked very doable. And what a star Kiki was! It was our best round together yet, totally smooth and easy from start to finish. She wasn't as strong as she'd been as Millbrook, and was rideable right from the start (well, maybe from the 2nd - she definitely chose the distance at the first!!). We cruised around with a few time penalties, but man I was proud of her. What a brilliant little mare!!

(Superstar coming back from cross country - I'll put up with how doofy I look because she looks soooo cute!)

Then after another little break, it was off to show jumping. After having such a great go on cross country, I was feeling a bit more confident, and also thought the course looked good for her, with mostly bending lines and singles, and only one long line (that was measured a bit short - yes!). Unfortunately, I did NOT ride as well as I needed to. Kiki was tired after that long of a day and came into the ring very quiet, and instead of revving her into a good energetic canter I kind of just sat there and did nothing. I'm so used to the way she jumps normally, where all I have to do is balance with my body and she supplies the RPMs, that I was totally lost having to provide the RPMs for her! Then, it didn't help that she slipped around the turn to the first double, and I totally chickened out of putting my leg on, which got us into it completely backwards. Bad bad bad! Such bad riding! I was really frustrated with myself because I'm too experienced of a rider to have piloted her like that; I want to think that I'm better than how I rode today.

(Pa and I hiding out in the truck in between rides - it was very wet and cold!)

The good news was that Kiki came out of it no worse for wear, and I think with some very concentrated work on MY show jumping skills over the fall, she's going to be a rock star. She put up with my horrid piloting today, which means that she'll blossom when I can actually give her the right ride. It's time to get some lessons!

Also on the upside, I met a blog reader today, who then went on to win our division! Congratulations!

On the Ringo front, we're in heavy monitoring mode after his stem cell on Friday. There is a fear of the leg blowing up (and I do know of at least one horse that's had a negative reaction), so I'm doing extra cold therapy and pressure wrapping, just in case. When I took the pressure off the first time, I was delighted:

(Looking good! What were we afraid of?)

But then, within a few minutes of being out of the pressure wrap, it looked like this:

(Egads!!)

Fortunately I was pre-warned for this, and didn't totally wig out (only sort of). Apparently this sort of swelling is normal in the first 24 hours because of a reaction from all the local anesthetic injected into the tendon. Today, it looked much better, even after 45 minutes of unwrapped freedom (and a night in a normal wrap, not a specialized pressure wrap):

(Phew! Looking better)

He'll spend the next two weeks in the wraps, and then, if all goes well, will start to wean off of them. This is exciting, because he's been wrapped continuously since we discovered the lesion in early July. His skin (and his caretakers) will both be happy for a break!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Whittling Down, and Ringo Gets Stem Cell!


(I don't want days like this to end)

(Ahh... summer)


Gahhhh, HOW is it August 20th already? This summer has blasted by a million and a half times faster than I ever could have thought, and in just a few short days Papa and I will be turning around and driving back to California. It feels like I've just arrived home, not like the two and a half months that have actually gone by. I've had a great time, and I'm going to miss the farm very much. Every day this week it seems like I've done one more thing for the "last" time, which is NOT my favorite feeling, but I'm trying hard to enjoy everything rather than getting overly nostalgic. Trying.

(Cutest. Beast. Ever.)

It's a mad dash to the finish line, with a trip to Huntington thrown in on side (just to keep things interesting, of course!), and I'm definitely feeling a little short on hours at the moment. In great news, Kiki feels totally fab, if a touch blasé after a few too many hot dusty days in the ring. After Huntington and the return trip to California, Kiki will get a six week vacation until her next competition (the first three weeks of which will be almost complete rest), so I'm hoping she can stay with me for the next seven days. She's never felt physically better and she's certainly not sour, so I'm pretty confident that she'll be up for it. We shall see!

(Kiki enjoying what little grass remains in her field after a nonstop summer of face-stuffing)

In very exciting news, Ringo got his stem cell today! After a week of delay because of the extra time needed to sterilize the sample after a hair was found in it, this morning we finally made it happen. Ringo was a CHAMP from start to finish, and I was really grateful for my friend Robin being there as an extra set of hands to help things run smoothly. The prep required a lot of extra work to try to get things sterile, as the aisle of a busy working barn is hardly the most sterile place to start with! After what seemed an incredible amount of time spent trying to prepare needles without actually have them make contact with anything, the vet finally was able to get the ultrasound (wrapped in a sterile glove filled with rubbing alcohol!) out and targeting the lesion.

(Ringo nomming pre-procedure... I have NO idea how the camera managed to make his ears so ginormous!! They're big, but they're not THAT big)

Very happily, the lesion has definitely improved in the past five weeks on its own; that gives me a bit more hope for how it's going to proceed with the help of the stem cell. It was cool to get to watch the ultrasound monitor, which not only showed the needle when she inserted it, but also showed the stem cell culture leaving the needle and entering into the lesion. It reminded me of the time I had to get an ultrasound done on my heart in high school and I got to see my own heart beating: just one of those really cool medical technology moments.

Also, in a huge windfall, Pa and I managed to de-farmify ourselves a bit and make it into Boston for a Red Sox game! They lost, kind of horribly, but it was still a ton of fun. Definitely something to check off the summer "must do" list!


(EPIC parking win)


(Ahh the good life)

(Pa in a "Pioneers, O Pioneers" moment at Fenway)

Alright, off to pack - lots to do in the next few hours and days!


(Another epic win: my Preliminary gold medal came in the mail this week! A reminder that at one time, one place, Ringo and I actually could compete successfully together... sigh)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mountain Sojourn

Ahh, what a wonderful past few days it's been! Papa and I have been up at GMHA in South Woodstock, VT, for the Training and Novice Three Day. Papa and Dually were competing in the Novice Three Day, and I was along side as his trusty groom and demi-coach. In an added last minute bonus, Kiki got to come along too as a non-competing horse, and spend a wonderful few days hacking around GMHA's gorgeous facilities.



(My favorite shot of the weekend)

It was also an exciting few days for me because I got to play cub reporter for the USEA! A few days before we left, Leslie Mintz from the USEA asked me to take pictures and do a write up of the event for the USEA website; of course I was thrilled and agreed immediately! It was a fun excuse to take lots and lots of photos, and I even tackled my fear of talking to strangers and got interviews with all the winners for a final day press release. It was really exciting to get to see a photograph that I took on the front page of a website that I visit almost every day - very very cool! My photo gallery of the T3D can be found here and my final press release can be found here. Check it out!

(This photo was on the USEA homepage!)

(This horse was so photogenic... every picture I got of it looked like this one: knees square, ears forward, with that lovely soft eye.)


(See?)

(My friend Emily on her TB Doug, who was a NATURAL on steeplechase - good boy Dougie!)

Papa and Dually were amazing. It's so fun to see how they've really become a partnership over the last year. They had a personal best dressage test (though an unfortunate error of course inflated the score slightly!) and Papa got a "7" on rider from both judges. Then, they were both awesome on Endurance day; I got to watch their steeplechase, which was smooth and easy, and then help them in the C and D boxes. We got some great help from the Merrills, as well as Asheley Ireland, Babette Lenna, and Jane Hamlin in the 10-minute box, which was much needed as Dually came in quite warm! This is not at all unusual for him so I wasn't worried, but it does mean that we always have our work cut out for us in the box! Fortunately, after a few minutes of hard work he had cooled out admirably, and they went on to have one of their best cross country rounds together to date. Awesome! They passed the final jog on Sunday morning (though not without some butterflies on my part!) and then jumped a lovely clear round in the show jumping: their best yet. They ended up finishing on their dressage score for 4th place! I was so proud of both of them. Good boys!! Because Papa goes back to school in September, this was their last show of the season, which means Dually will now wind down for a much-deserved vacation. =)

(Handsome)


(Wahoo!!)


(Happy boys!)


(After a perfect show jumping round)


(Aww)

(Dually gets tons of candy for his awesome weekend)

In between helping Pa and Dually and doing stuff for the USEA, I had a total blast on my rides on Kiki over the three days. We kept the ringwork to a minimum and mostly took advantage of the miles (and miles, and miles, and miles!) of trails surrounding GMHA, working up and down the hills to work on Kiki's strength and balance. The first day we kept it long and slow, going out for over an hour at walk and trot; we went further than I'd ever gone before, and went all the way up the mountain and down the other side again! It was seriously beautiful and I could have stayed out there all day, but grudgingly turned back when I started to realize that I was losing track of the forks I'd taken in all the various trails to get where I'd gotten. Then, that evening we went out again, with Papa and Dually this time, and hacked Phase A. Phase A went right past the Birch Grove, my favorite part of GMHA and the site of one of my most cherished riding memories to date: probably ten years ago (I was still riding Pinky, my very first pony, so actually it was probably even more than that!) we went on a fast and furious ride up the mountain that shot us out into this indescribably beautiful stand of birch trees on the crest of the mountain. It was the first time in my life where a horse had brought me to a place, and given me an experience, that I could never have dreamed of having without it, and I've never forgotten that feeling. This was my first trip back to the birches since that day, and it was just as beautiful as before. We detoured off of Phase A to ride all the way up to the top, and enjoy the gorgeous view.


(Kiki checking out the beauty)


(What a view!)


(Yay!)


(Heading home)

The next day, I decided to explore a new trail, and with the aid of one of the indestructible plastic/paper (plaper) GMHA trail maps, set out in completely unfamiliar territory. Unfortunately, the trail I'd been hoping to take ended up being closed, so I had to detour off onto a gravel road that took me up past some of the nicest farms I've ever seen! Kiki and I were trotting and I'm pretty sure both of us were trying hard to keep our jaws from hitting the floor. Big airy indoors with massive paneled windows, perfectly green pastures that went on for miles, huge arenas with immaculate jumps surrounded by privet hedges and flower gardens, private ponds with diving platforms, vistas of untouched pine-covered mountains... it was unreal. I started to get worried that I was going to end up in someone's driveway, as the road we were on was getting progressively narrower and the "NO TRESPASSING" signs on the side of it were getting more frequent (whoops), so I eventually chickened out and turned around, but not until after a very smart little trot up a very long and steep hill for Kiki! When we got back to GMHA proper, we went for a canter around Phase A, which was a good test because it required good strength to canter up and great balance to canter down! I would never normally canter down a hill like that for fear of excessive stress on her legs, but the footing was so perfect that I decided it was worth the training benefit. She was awesome! I was surprised at how easily she handled the downhill part, and it was cool to really feel her rocking back and balancing onto her hind in for the steeper parts.

(Adventurin')

The last day was our shortest but most intense workout. We walked out for a bit, then trotted Phase C (which was out in a big grass field with LOVELY footing), then headed back and cantered Phase A going backwards; about halfway down the hill there was a loop that connected back to the uphill section, so we completed that to do probably 1.5 total laps, which translated to about 3k of tough canter work! She was amazing!! The second time we went up the hill she was a bit tired and I was worried she would suck back and drop out of the bridle, but instead she just dug in and tried harder. What a cool horse! We walked down the hill to finish and by the time we got back to the barn she was warm and sweaty but had already stopped blowing, and with a quick hose off she was completely ready to go. Awesome!

Her leg is also looking great. I stood her in the river for 15-20 minutes every day at GMHA, which I think helped a lot, and the hill workouts, while intense, are actually very low impact for the resulting cardiovascular workout they provide, so I was happy I got to take advantage of them. The footing at GMHA was also completely heavenly, which was such a nice change from the iron ground we have at home right now. I wish we could have stayed longer! Hopefully though these workouts will be a good boost for her fitness before Huntington, so all I have to focus on between now and then is making her feel loose, supple, and obedient. Here we go!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Millbrook

KIKI IS SO AMAZING!!!

(Right???)

After a final all-clear from the vet on Thursday morning, we hustled over to beautiful (no seriously, like really, really beautiful) Dutchess County, New York, for my favorite event of the year: Millbrook. Kiki travelled well and had an ok ride on Thursday evening, minus several impressive tantrums about leaving her friends (and, even worse, having her friends leave her!). She's normally not like that at all but was in raging heat, so I think was feeling a little more attached than usual. I couldn't get too mad at her, though, because when she was on she felt really really on, and managed to do some of the nicest canter I've had on her in between several breaks to leap around and hop up and down. I was able to feel my away around my course in the quickly fading light and think about it just enough to get totally nervous and have an absolutely dreadful and sleepless night. I haven't been that nervous in years the night before an event! Because of Kiki's leg, plus a pretty solid course, plus the fact that I hadn't ridden so great at Groton House and was hell-bent on giving Kiki a better ride here all meant that I was feeling pretty darn apprehensive.

(EARLY morning warmup)

We had the "pleasure" of doing dressage at 7:30 on Friday morning, which meant a 4am wake up call!! My dad and I are both morning people, but this was almost too much even for me, especially given the completely sleepless night I'd had tossing around worrying. I gulped down an energy drink which sort of woke me up but wound up making me feel incredibly ill, which didn't exactly help the butterflies that were jamming around somewhere in my midsection. Fortunately, the busywork of doing the regular morning stuff, bathing Kiki (who, of course, managed to get insanely dirty in a single evening), braiding, and getting everything organized distracted me enough to get to my warmup without too much distress, and then once I got on I automatically felt much better. Kiki was, blessedly, much more grown up about the warmup than she had been the day before, and got to work right away. I spent a little time in the grass field and then moved up to the smaller sand warmup, which was nice but super intimidating because I soon realized that the only three people in the ring were me, Phillip Dutton on Connaught, and Buck Davidson on Ballynoecastle RM!!! Buck was getting coached by Thick Accented Dressage Man and zigging and zagging all over the place, while Phillip was doing suppling work around the edge of the ring in a definitely "stay out of my way, mortals"- esque fashion, so I had my hands full just trying to find a patch of ring where I didn't feel like I was about to get mowed down by an Olympian. Fortunately, Kiki handled it all beautifully and frankly had never felt better as we headed across the street for our test.



And what a test! Kiki carried over all the softness and obedience we'd had in warmup, plus a little more relaxation and impulsion now that she was on her own and not almost getting trampled. I was so proud of her: she was light and steady in the contact, and never once leaned on the reins or collapsed onto her forehand. Her canter, especially, felt worlds different if I compare it to what we had at our first event together Three Day Ranch, where I couldn't even get my leads consistently!! She's come a looong way =) After we finished, the judge stopped me and commented what a lovely and special horse she was, how lucky I was that I got to ride her, and that I should hold on to her as tight as I could. How cool is that??? Kiki turned some heads!


So, I knew from the judge's comments that she'd liked Kiki, but I was still thinking that I'd probably landed in the mid-30s or somewhere around there, hopefully in the upper middle of the pack. I was pretty shocked, then, to learn that we'd gotten a 22.5! Kiki got all 7s, 8s, and 9s, and I got an 8 on rider! Totally unreal. My division had a ton of low scores in it so I was in third even with that (the leader got a 20! Holy cow), but still! Third in a huge division with a score that was less than half that of our Stuart score? Who'd have ever dreamed?!


(9? On a canter movement? I seriously never in a million years could have dreamed that happening when we started in January!!)

I actually didn't find all this out until much later, because right after dressage I was too busy walking my course again, helping Papa go cross country (they were FABULOUS!), and getting ready to go cross country myself! I went a mere four hours after my dressage ride, which was great because it allowed the dressage to take the edge off without (hopefully) wearing her down. She was a bit of a wild woman in warmup and then I botched my timing over to the box so I ended up having to rush in and not get a lead like I usually do, with the result that she was a little nappy to get going, but once we were one course she was all business. She was definitely excited to be back on course (our first time since Groton House!) and was actually pretty strong at the beginning, but jumped fabulously. She did take a peek at the ditch about half way around, not helped at all by the fact that I leaned with my upper body there, and was a little green into the water, but otherwise was absolutely foot perfect. We cruised in with one of the faster Novice times of the day; in fact, without my error in the start box, I probably would have had to deliberately slow her down to avoid speed faults! This is good news for her move up to Training in a few weeks =)






Yesterday we got to sleep in a bit (6:30!!) before heading over to see the ponies. Papa and I were both show jumping, I around midday and he in the second to last division of the day. I'd moved up to 2nd after cross country, and learned midmorning that the leader had gone out of order and had time penalties, meaning that I would go into show jumping in first place! Eep. I got Kiki all cleaned up and braided, and we headed up. She definitely felt a little tired and tight in warmup, but jumped very very well. I was a bit worried about the course because it had a few long straight lines, which are tough for us because she's fairly short strided and has a tendency to add up. I wasn't really worried about the first jump, an innocuous oxer, which of course we clobbered down!! Oh well, there went my win; I actually made myself take a deep breath then and just focus on riding well from there on out, because I knew that a lot of rails had been falling and I still had to ride to get around the rest of the course clean.

It definitely wasn't our best effort, but we got the job done. Kiki did add up in both lines, the first more dramatically than the second (where I planned for it better), and then we puked into the 2-stride and I let her add up there because I knew she could cleanly, though I should have been firm and made her get out in two. I was a little disappointed because I didn't feel like I gave her an appropriate ride; she was a little tight and hopping, and I should have either helped her out more to loosen up or helped her be more conservative so she didn't come in on those half strides and have to add up. I was also a bit frustrated because her stride length has in general gotten much better, but something in the show jumping gets us both a little amped up and takes the relaxation required to get that stride length away. Hmmm... we've got some homework!

But still, even being hard on myself, I was so proud of Kiki. She was like a different horse this weekend: so cool, calm, and collected from start to finish. And we still came in 2nd even with our rail and crappy round!! We finished on a 26.5, definitely the best score I've ever finished on, and as an added bonus Kiki got to lead the victory gallop because the winner (a professional) was off riding his advanced horse. Kiki definitely enjoyed that! Possibly too much so haha. I've never led the victory gallop in my life, so I'll take getting the opportunity to do it on a technicality =)

(YAY!!)

The best part? Her leg looked GREAT all weekend. I kept her in stable wraps, just to be conservative, and it looked excellent. And she definitely felt excellent! She's getting a super quiet week this week, though she will be spending it up at GMHA as a non-competing horse during the three day, before moving into high gear for Huntington towards the end of the month! GOOD GIRL KIKI =)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Happy 200th Post!! And July Wrap Up



Wahoo! Happy 200th post! This blog has come a looong way from the rough, single paragraph-style journal that it was when I first started out =)

As promised, here's my July wrap up and goals:

Ringo:
--Continue building strength in hind end on hillwork
Well... yes, until the vet came.

--Get a complete veterinary work up to dismiss any possible medical issues (lymes, recheck of old tendon lesion, etc)
Yes, but unfortunately medical issues were not dismissed!

--Continue to jump positively at home and in lessons with Suzi on a regular basis
No.

--Be able to jump comfortably at Training/Prelim height by the end of the month
No.

--Buy flowers and fill for the arena at home to practice over
No.

--Get out to at least one Apple Knoll jumper night
No.

--Have a positive Stuart experience, meaning:
----Dressage closer to what we can do at home
No.

----Another positive and fun cross country experience
No.

----Good consistency from my ride in the show jumping
No.


(How Ringo and I both feel about him getting layed up)

Kiki:
--Incorporate hills into daily routine to build stride and strength
Yes! We've been doing a half hour - hour hack in the park every day in addition to whatever ringwork we've been doing, and I've really noticed a difference in her ability to load her hind end and use herself on the hills out there.

--Keep desensitizing on the flat
Well, she's certainly been quieter on the flat; I know it's at least partly from my efforts, but am worried that it's also partly because she's not feeling 100%. Hmm...

--Begin working on Training level movements and jumping questions
Yes! A lot got tabled in the Staurt incident, but before that we'd had good success with our Training-level "Plus" dressage movements (stretchy circles, lengthenings, shoulder-in, a wee bit of haunches-in at the walk, leg-yields, etc), longer passages of sitting trot, and dropped in and banked out of water xc schooling yesterday. We haven't really done the height yet (especially since we haven't jumped since before Stuart), but we've made some good steps.

--Really feel, by months' end, that she can easily read and understand all the questions that I'm putting in front of her, and then actually do them
Yes. She was handling the skinny way better before Stuart, and really got what I was asking her xc schooling. She can always get more confirmed, but I think we progressed this month.

--Practice a drop into water
YES. Like a champ. We even did a drop in, canter through, bank out.

--Huntington (Well, Stuart) redemption, meaning:
----Obedient in the dressage
Nooooo. She was so rank, but there turned out to be an extremely legitimate reason for her behavior.

-----A good, consistent, focused ride from me on Cross Country
Nope.

-----Same in show jumping
Nope.

--Hopefully, feel ready to do Training at Millbrook by month's end!
No. I think mentally she's ready to do Novice at Millbrook and move up to Training at Huntington, but physically she's currently a question mark.

(Cute little Mare-Bear... let's figure out what's going on with your legs!!)
----

So, July was not my most successful month, goal-wise. I struggled hard with soundness with both of my horses, which pretty much explains in itself why so many goals weren't met. Neither of my horses were ever naughty or rank, and I think I did everything I could as a rider. But sometimes, things happen! Oh well. August is going to be all about making sure both Ringo and Kiki are feeling as good as they can before Kiki and I head back to California for school (Ringo will stay behind so he can recover on the farm). So, my August goals are these:

Ringo:
--Move ahead with Stem Cell, monitoring for any negative reactions.
--Keep up his hand grazing routine
--Do everything I can to keep him comfortable and happy.
--After Stem Cell, get a clear plan with the vet as to what our strategy is from here.

(Ringo shows his dislike for Banamine paste... for two minutes straight! Way to keep a "stiff upper lip" about treatment, dude! (oh geez I make myself laugh haha))

Kiki:
--Get a chiropractic check up/evaluation
--Get ultrasounded, if necessary
--Monitor legs closely and respond appropriately
--Ideally, have a nice outing at Millbrook, meaning:
----Obedient and relaxed in the Dressage
----Focused and smooth on cross country
----Obedient and consistent in the show jumping
--Super ideally, move up to Training at Huntington!


(I've been spotted!)

I just heard from the vet this morning that there's been a small hitch in the stem cell culture: turns out they found a hair in one of the collection tubes, and so have to keep the sample a few extra days to make sure it's totally sterile before sending it back. I was so worried when I first heard that this meant that we were going to have to do the entire collection again (I don't know how much butt fat Ringo has to spare!!), but it's much more likely that after a few additional days of extra monitoring the culture will be ready to go as is. So, instead of getting injected tomorrow, it will likely happen early next week. No problem! I'm sure Ringo will enjoy the extra few days of not being poked and prodded =)


(Ringo's "wound" from where we took the cell sample. Poor dude got some liposuction!)

I decided that, if I was really serious about taking Kiki to Millbrook, I was going to have to bite the bullet and actually jump at least once before we left. I've been super nervous to do so, mainly because I've been afraid of what it might reveal about her leg. She was AWESOME yesterday when I jumped her: I just popped a cross rail and a few verticals (probably 10 fences in all), and she just loped around like it was no big thing. For anyone that knows Kiki, this is a BIG DEAL!! She was starting to feel that way at Groton House, and I was so delighted that it's carried over. It's just wonderful to feel like I can put my leg on and not have my horse explode (!!). In order to see the effect on her leg, I deliberately kept the wraps off last night, though I couldn't help but cold hose them a bit as I was spraying her off afterwards. I haven't gone down to the barn yet (ahh days off from morning feeding!!), so we shall see...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Show the World all the Love in Your Heart



You've got to wake up every morning with a smile on your face,
And show the world all the love in your heart;
People're gonna treat you better,
They're going to find (yes they will) that you're beautiful.
--Carole King

I've been turning these lines over in my head a lot lately, especially since I wrote this post. I think that I haven't always been able to get up every morning with a smile, and haven't always been effective in showing other people the incredible, indescribable love I feel for the world. I do struggle hard with clinical depression, but that doesn't change the fact that I find magic in the world around me every day (in fact, it has been that wonder that, many times, has saved me); I think it does, however, help get in the way of my interaction with others. I can't change that fact that I get depressed sometimes (it's biologically part of who I am), but I can manage it better and I can be more aware of how my emotional stability affects the way I deal with others. I hope that, by being a bit more self-aware, I can move uphill from here.

Extremely excitingly, I've had big strides with both Kiki and Ringo in the past few days. Kiki is back under saddle!! We've been keeping it light and breezy, and while I don't think she's been feeling 1000%, she's been feeling pretty darn good. She comes out every day generally short all around, but works out of it nicely. She's been super quiet, which I can't decide if it's good or not; obviously I like not getting run away with (as often), but I'm a bit worried that it's a sign that she's still not feeling totally herself. Maybe I've just trained her a little bit! (hahahahaha - I can't even type that with a straight face). In any case, though, I can't describe how good it feels to be riding her again. After Ringo's injury, and then her soundness scare at Stuart, I've definitely been more aware of how lucky I am every time I get to put my foot in the stirrup to mount up.



(What a lucky girl I am)

We even got to do a little cross country schooling two days ago - no jumping, just cantering around and popping into the water and off the drop a few times. She was so awesome! She's getting so grown up =) Papa and Dually came along with us just in case we needed a lead into the water, but since she was so good they just got to chill out; my mom came along too as our groundperson (and awesome photographer!), and it was extra special because she hasn't seen Kiki go that much since I started riding her. Kiki definitely enjoyed showing off for all of them! I can't believe how amazing she is. I feel so, so lucky that I get to be the one that tacks her up every day. The best part? Her leg looked awesome afterward!!

(Aww... father - daughter moment)

(Twinkle toes!)

(CHAMP)

(Such a good girl)

(Super careful in the water...)

(... and super careful out!)

(Nice and quiet, like an old pro)

(Such a perfect little Wahine)

I'm still trying to figure out whether to take her to Millbrook or not. She's very fit so I wouldn't be worried about it being too much of an ask for her physically, the vet's recommendations are to go back into full work, and the leg has been looking pretty good of late. But still, I'm feeling apprehensive. I want to go to Millbrook BADLY, as it's my favorite event of all, I haven't been in two years, and I don't have the prospect of going for several years more after this... but I'm not going to jeopardize my horse just to make it to a show that I want to go to. It's a hard call, and I'm definitely going to be stewing on it over the next two days.

(Whatever happens, I just want to do right by this wonderful horse)

In Ringo news, the stem cell process has begun! Yesterday the vet came to do the cell collection. In the end, we decided to do the fat collection instead of the bone marrow, just because it would be a little easier for everyone involved and the ultimate stem cell quality is pretty comparable. I wanted to take pictures, but about 30 seconds into watching the vet gouge big hunks of fat out of my horse's butt, I was about to pass out. It's so strange: I can deal with big gaping wounds and watch the vet sew them up with no problem whatsoever, but there's something about active procedures (where the vet makes the wound in the first place) that just makes me queasy. I ended up holding Ringo (in a position where I mercifully couldn't see what the vet was doing) while my dad held the collection tubes. Ringo was a total champ, just losing his patience a little bit during the suturing process when he began to wake up and the bugs started driving him crazy. The cells are going to take a few days to culture, and then should be ready to inject Thursday. Very exciting!

Finally, July is over (how did that happen??), which means it's time for the monthly goal wrap-up and set. This post is getting awful long, though, so I think I'll save that for another time.

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