On Wednesday, January 27 2016, I rode my own horse in a lesson for the first time in 2+ years. I can tell you the exact date (November 4 2013) of our lesson, because the next time she came out of her stall she was lame and continued to be so for the next year.
Before we got started, Christy remarked that from what she’s seen while she’s been teaching other lessons at POF, Pearl has been looking pretty nice. I think that was the best silver lining of all this chronic lameness bullshit. Because I was able to ride so many different horses (thanks to their generous owners) and keep on lessoning even with Pearl out of commission, I was able to keep progressing in my riding, and now I can ride my horse better than I could the last time my own horse was in work.
It wasn’t like we were magically up to schooling tests the first time out. We did a lot of working on my position (my inner equitation princess is not speaking to me after she saw the pictures) and a lot of time getting Pearl to carry herself and not just cruise around. She is quite fit cardiovascularly– never was out of breath and barely sweaty at the end– but as Christy reminded me, her muscles aren’t that strong yet, so I really need to be mindful of that and give her breaks, because otherwise both of us will just keep going round and round forever.
Our biggest challenge was getting her to not curl under the bit when she got tired of a true contact. I’ve been riding her in a leather mullen bit which she seems to tolerate well enough (I rode with it under the hackamore no reins attached for a few months, and then gradually added contact on it), so I feel pretty confident that her fussiness with the contact is a training issue, not physical discomfort. Christy gave me some good exercises to work on, and I already saw an improvement the next time I rode her.
I’m trying to stay realistic. She still looks terrible on the lunge line, so I wouldn’t call her clinically sound. But both my vet and farrier saw the video, and my vet said she “looks fantastic” and my farrier proclaimed her “dead even,” so I am trying to reassure myself that I am not hurting her with this newly increased level of work. If she looks like she is going to stay this level of soundness, I will have her neck/hocks injected, because
it’s been so long since I’ve had a 4 figure vet bill I just don’t know what to do with myself I want to be able to ask her to use her body as correctly as possible so she can get her weight off those front feet.
Best of all, having a lesson didn’t break her! I rode her the next day before the farrier (yes, my horse is almost 18 and needs to be ridden down so she can stand still long enough to have her feet done) and turned her out in the indoor afterwards, and she was none the worse for wear. Actually, she warmed up a lot less creaky, so I guess we’re subscribing to motion is lotion.
So there you have it. I’ll still hold my breath every time I trot her off, but if she can keep going like this, I’m the happiest girl in the world.