Change is the Law of Life (and surgery)

Hello all!  It’s been a few months!  A crazy, crazy few months.  In the last three months, I’ve moved farms, started a new job, and Savy had surgery.

The new farm: We landed at Dancing Horse Farm, and we’re both happier.  I love the atmosphere of learning and acceptance at this farm.  There are several apprentice trainers, working students, and riders at all different levels and disciplines.  There’s even a mustang! The facilities are amazing; I love the indoor arena, and there’s a half mile old racing track with good footing that’s super fun to “trail” ride on. Mostly I love the learning revolution Savy and I have experienced since the move. My new trainer teaches using a combination of biomechanics, classical dressage, and natural horsemanship. Books, DVDs, and outside clinicians are all part of the learning process here. Small victories are celebrated. Mostly I love leaving my lessons feeling inspired and like I learned something that I can replicate on my own.


Me watching the surgery.

The surgery: I started noticing Savy’s stifles felt weak. They were “slipping” a little and she wasn’t reaching underneath herself with her back legs. The horse’s stifles are the knee joints in humans, and they’re what allows the horse to sleep standing up. The joints “lock”. What happens when the stifle gets weak, is that it’s harder for the horse to unlock the joint, so it feels like the leg is slipping because it takes an extra second to start moving. I had the vet out and he noticed fluid in the hock joint. The hock joints are the ankles in humans. The vet suggested x-raying the hocks to find out exactly what was going on. He found an OCD Lesion on the left hock. An OCD lesion is basically a piece of bone that has slightly broken off. It rubs against the other joint bones and causes pain and inflammation. The recommended treatment is surgery. Thank god I got that major medical insurance!  Stifle.Hock

Savy had surgery at a wonderful surgical center in Lexington, KY, and was able to leave an hour after the surgery. The surgery was crazy to watch. It was done microscopically so I could see everything playing out on a monitor. It honestly looked like a tooth growing out of her bone. It was gross. There’s a surprisingly little amount of blood in the joint. Basically none. Savy handled it like a champ and was back on her feet, walking like a drunk person to her stall, in less than 10 minutes. The surgery was routine and her prognosis was good. Of course I handled the trauma with my usual grace and poise.

OCD Lesion

This is it! The little piece of bone is the OCD lesion. It looks big here but it was only about the size of a pea. This is a picture from inside her joint.

Bahahaha! I was/am a mess. I spent the entire 4 weeks from diagnosis to recovery stress eating and pouting. Savy, for the most part, stayed in good spirits, although the girls at the barn might say differently. She developed some interesting techniques for getting attention. When she learned to stomp her injured leg and stare at the live-in apprentices’ window, we decided to put her on Ace (a mild sedative) and turn her out in the dry lots. Luckily, the dry lots at our new farm are designed exactly for horses in recovery.


We spent a lot of time just hanging out getting fat.

It’s been 5 weeks since the surgery, and I’m finally starting to feel like things might be ok. She’s amazingly easy to ride now. Which makes me think this has been an issue long before she started showing any outward symptoms. We’re bringing her back to work at a snail’s pace, which is totally fine with me. Better safe than sorry. In the meantime, I’m working on me. Finding muscles in my “back-end” that I didn’t know existed, and finally learning how to properly post.

Now that all the drama seems to have slowed down hopefully I can start posting regular training updates again.


A Day in the Life – Dressage Shows (Day 1)

I got the idea for this post from this fun blog.  I like her Day in the life too.  She got her inspiration from another blog and so on, so this really isn’t an original idea, but it was fun to write.


4:30 am: Yes you read that right.  Wake up in the middle of the night to very sleepy and cuddly kitties.

4:31 am: Too excited to snooze so instead take a hot bath and cruise facebook during my allocated “there’s no way I’ll be able to wake up at 5 am without snoozing so I better set my alarm for a half hour earlier” time.

5:00 am: Carefully apply eyeliner and mascara.  No blush because my face turns beat red whilst exercising.  Especially while covered head to toe in show clothing.  In August.

5:05 am: Slick hair back into bun. Adorn cute hairnet (well…as cute as a hairnet can be) with rhinestones.

5:10 am: Debate about which earrings to wear with self.  The dangly ones, the plain studs or the gold pearls.  Go with sparkly studs.

5:15 am: Organize show clothes…pet kitties.

5:30 am: Leave.

5:58 am: Stop at UDF for coffee and breakfast. Other people are at UDF.  Notice they are not wearing show clothes…why else  in the world would they up this early??

6:05 am: Arrive at show grounds to find trainer has already fed horses (score!)

6:10 am: Chat excitedly with still half asleep trainer.

6:15 am: Start braiding hair

6:30 am: Braiding

7:00 am: Braiding

7:15 am: Still braiding

7:30 am: Finish braiding

7:31 am: Proudly show trainer braids

7:32 am: Savy shakes her head and 3 braids fall out

7:40 am: Finish re-braiding fallen braids

8:01 am:  Watch trainers awesome ride

8:15 am: Hurriedly saddle and bridle Savy

9:08 am: Horse bolts in warm up ring (not my horse) and dumps rider (not my trainer).  I am reminded of my own bolting experiences and freak out.

9:09 am: Trainer rides Savy in her first ever First level test.  I nervously watch from the sidelines.  Am too shaky from the bolting horse to take good pictures.

9:30 am: Ok…I’m ready for lunch.  How is it only 9:30!

10:00 am: Wait for class

10:30 am: Wait for class and start to get nervous

11:00 am: Wait for class and start sweating

11:30 am: Eat pizza for lunch.  Start peeing every 15 minutes (nervous bladder).

11:45 am: Pee.

12:00 pm: Pee.

12:15 pm: Pee.  Realize mascara has run and wash off all make-up.

12:30 pm: Saddle up for class.

12:45 pm: Run to restroom for one last pee.

12:50 pm: Mount up.

1:00 pm: Rock my warm up and ride the best I’ve ever ridden in my life.

1:32 pm: Enter ring for test.

1:33 pm: Feel like puking.

1:34 pm: Head down centerline.  Blackout.

1:38 pm: Exit arena dripping with sweat.

1:50 pm: Nervously wait for test scores.

2:00 pm: Check for test scores.

2:10 pm: Check for test scores.

2:20 pm: Check for test scores.

2:30 pm: Get second place!!!

6:30 pm: Finally leave the show for home.


Pictures from the horse show will be coming soon!!





Day in the Life – A Regular Day at the Barn.

SmellI breathe a sigh of relief as soon as I pull up to the gate and punch in the passcode.  The dirt feels good on my hands which are clammy from typing all day and too much Curel lotion.   Bonus points if there’s a horse being ridden in the arena or even if someone is hand grazing.  I keep my windows up so the flies can’t infest my car and I gather all of my riding gear.  I step out of the car and get my first good breath of the farm – horse, hey and manure all rolled into one addictive scent.   Immediately I feel happier.  Usually one of the barn cats greets me half way to the barn, and I stop to pet them, balancing on the gravel in my 4 inch heels.

I go straight for Savy’s stall and sing her full name as a hello….Savannah Rain.  Her head snaps up from her evening hey and she looks at me with bright eyes and perky ears.  Hello pretty girl.  I can tell she is happy to see me and it makes me feel all warm and mushy.  Sometimes I even get a nicker and I melt.  I change from skirts and heels to breeches and tall boots.  My hair goes back in a pony tail and I wheel my saddle cart out to the aisle, stopping to get treats.  Savy is waiting for me at the door to her stall, dinner forgotten.  Sometimes after a really tough day I’ll go straight into her stall in my work clothes because I can’t wait for a hug.  Those days she tries to follow me out when I go to get changed.

Savy loves to be groomed, and unlike most 5 year olds, stands like a statue.  I start with the rubber curry, going in circles picking up dirt and hair.  Then I go for the hard brush and flick all the dirt off.  I finish with the soft brush which makes her smooth and shinny.  Savy gives a big sigh.  I pick up her feet, one by one, cleaning out the mud and the pebbles.  She always lifts the last foot before I ask.  We’re partners like that.  I spray detangler in her tail and get to work brushing it out.  She has lots of shavings in her tail and I smile because I know it means she was sleeping, and it’s so adorable.  I move to her face with the super soft sheep hair brush and she looks at me suspiciously.  She’s not sure about the sheep hair brush, it’s new and it smells weird.  I tell her it’s ok and she lets me brush her face, following the flow of her hair and the curves of her face.  She closes her eyes and lets me brush them.  We take a few moments and breathe together.

BelongI tack up.  First the saddle and then her bridle.  She makes a nasty face when I tighten the girth.  She is not a fan, but the moment passes as quickly as it came, Savy likes her job.  I snap my helmet, pull on my riding gloves and grab a whip on our way out.  We walk briskly to the arena.  Perhaps my favorite moment ever is the first moment I sit in the saddle.   We walk with purpose around the arena, surveying the yard and street, and stretching our muscles.  I let my hips and lower back move with Savy and it’s better than a massage.  We pick up a trot and get to work.  I post in rhythm with her movement.  Letting her impulsion lift me out of the saddle.  We move into a canter and I concentrate on moving with her and remember the quote “hips like a harlet, shoulders like a queen”. The ride is good. We both work up a sweat and breathe hard.  Afterwards we ride through the green fields to cool down.

Savy follows me into the barn and turns around in the aisle without me guiding her.  She knows the drill.  I give her a handful of cookies, or carrots or sugar and tell her she did an awesome job.  Off comes the bridle, and saddle and boots.  If it’s hot she gets a shower, which she weirdly does not like.  She gets more treats.  If it’s super hot I stand with her in the aisle and let the industrial fan blow right on her chest.  She follows me into her stall and I give her one last treat.  She usually tries to follow me back out again.  I put my cart away, pull off my tall boots, put on my heels and tell Savy I love her as I’m leaving.