Monday, July 9, 2012

More Ups and Downs

Everyone who's into horses knows that we don't just love them for the joy they give us. We love them just as much for the heartbreak, because it makes the joy that much more uplifting. Like life, owning horses means dealing with the ups just as gracefully as we do the downs.

Lately it feels like I've been on a roller coaster. After such a crummy spring on the horse front, I was really hoping for an amazing summer- buying a new horse, having Riley back home, and who knows what else. If a couple blue ribbons found their way into my lap along the way, I certainly would not be disappointed.

Of course, horses being horses, this is not what's happened. Dealing with Riley is like being on one of those pirate ship rides- initially it looks fun, but after a month and a half of going baaack and fooortth, I think I'm about ready to puke. The little guy (yes, I know he's 16 hands- but shorter than Will and Cole, and with the personality of a little 12 year old boy) keeps playing sound pony, only to decide something else is wrong (because we all know how much fun vacation is). His hot nail healed, so a pulled muscle sounded fun. His pulled muscle was alright, so mysterious ankle seemed intriguing. Mysterious ankle seems to work like healthy ankle again, so now he's trying to scare the poop out of me by slipping all the time. 

Riley thinks dressage is dumb.

But eternally hopeful for one of those ups, I decided that 2-3 weeks of sound Riley merited some jumping. I think if we do any more dressage without a break, we will both die of boredom. So I went about exploring the lesser used parts of my bridle collection. It was with a heavy heart that I assembled his jumping outfit, moving bits and reins around and unearthing the running martingale. Most days I feel ready to move on- I even gave Cole Will's old lead rope and have been contemplating giving Riley Will's gray fly mask since he's slowly destroying his own- but today I wasn't ready for Riley to wear some of the gear that Will was wearing when he died. The reins, my only pair with stops, were done up on his clean bridle, as if waiting for him to come back and wear it, while the martingale had been hidden on the back of the rack to forget. I've been trying to tackle cleaning some of Will's old things, to make the memories a bit more dull, but the martingale has yet escaped. Rational me said it was silly to be upset- the martingale had Riley's name on it after all, and the reins are short and more suited to Riley's tiny neck. In the end, though, emotional me won over rational me, and I was suddenly more bummed about jumping than anyone in their right mind ought to be. 

I tried to cheer myself up and took Riley up to the ring for some jumping. I set a warmup fence with a rail on either side. I can't remember ever doing this exercise with Riley before, but I thought he could benefit. When I raised it to a vertical and rolled the rails to 9', he got extraordinarily upset on landing. Thinking that he could just be angry about the landing rail, I took it out. Still angry. I tried two other small verticals, just to be sure- definitely still angry. 

So now Riley has a slipping issue AND his back is bugging him again. The hollow-and-buck-and-stop-all-at-once screams classic Riley's Back Hurts. 

Meanwhile, my brand new horse is hopefully back in one piece. Cole got his shoe and pad put back on today. I thought about telling him that he's going to wear his Air Jordans, and he damn well better like them, or no more cheap Tractor Supply cookies. But being the softie I am, I just gave him a cookie instead of a lecture. It's not like the horses listen to me anyways. 

So to wrap it all up, and not feel like a total downer (although that's definitely what today feels like), on the bright side:
- Cole is hopefully sound again, and ready to take over as work horse for Team Riley
- Riley is absolutely hilarious in his grazing muzzle, which I broke down and put on him today, because his belly just keeps getting bigger and bigger
- I already have an appointment with Dr. Martha on Wednesday to pull blood for an EPM test, so it won't be difficult to add a back-check to the list
- Riley's back will be very happy to test out the new Equilibrium Massage Therapy Pad that he won because he truly is one of the best horses ever, even if he thinks early retirement sounds fun
- John has a swanky new helmet that Riley helped him win (and Cole is supposedly beginner friendly)
- I'm so, so lucky to have two horses that are as happy as I think mine are, and friends and family that make the downs not seem so bad

Oh, and even if I do have all those things to be optimistic about, I sure think I'm due a little karmic up, like maybe a sound Cole who can make it to a mini-trial at the end of this month. 

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