I should probably start at the start, since it's hardly the story it sounds like it'll be.
Today was my Monday off (compressed work week), and I was hoping to trailer Moon to the park for a nice relaxing trail ride. Of course, it was miserable all day, with the skies dark and winds strong out of the North. Anyone who knows horses, knows that strong winds can put them in a 'mood', especially when it looks like rain too.
Knowing better, I decide to forego the trail ride. I feel bad that the two of us haven't been out on a relaxing, enjoyable hack in...months. That's a long time for me, and we've both always loved trail riding. That's where I fell in love with my Moon'er, and none of our flaws matter out there. It's just us, riding like hell.
I wanted to check on his fly mask since I'd left it on him since Friday, and while T checks him each day, I wanted to pull it off and hose it down. Maybe give him a bit of a break from it. So I still went out to the barn...
Of course, I pull up and there's Moon. Sans flymask.
Back at the 'barn', I figure what-the-h, I might as well tack up and do a little practicing. I want SOMETHING to show coach on Wednesday. But as I'm tacking him up, I start to get a little apprehensive.
You see, Moon needs his teeth floated. I'm not sure if I've posted much about it, but I've found a local vet who will come out and do it, though she's on holidays until July 4th. So we're booked for July 8th, and I'm very excited and very nervous about it.
Why? Because Moon hasn't had his teeth floated in at least 2 years. And based on his mouth issues (gapping, etc.), I'm truly concerned that he has hooks present, which are causing ulcers in his mouth. Granted, I could be way out in left field, his teeth could not be nearly that bad, and all of his problems are a progressive training thing that we now have to undo. That I don't doubt. I think the process will be slow and he'll gradually get better with contact. He already is. But I also fear that these awful ulcerations and pointy-teeth are causing him a lot of pain, making him uncomfortable in a bit. Which would make what he does do for me, next to amazing, as I would be beyond uncooperative if it were me.
So I'm waiting around right now, having mini worry sessions that the vet will look in his mouth and be shocked by what she sees. An ugly, torn-up, ulcerated, painful mouth. And he'll be put on antibiotics after his teeth are floated, I'll need to rinse his mouth daily and he'll be out of training for at least 6 weeks. That's my predicition.
Standing there wanting to put his bridle on, I just hesistated. And paniced. I don't want to hurt him. If he doesn't like the bit because he needs training, then it's okay. We'll work on making him like it. But if it's because I have been a bad owner and dragging my feet on his float over the last 2 months thinking it couldn't be that bad, then I feel terrible. And I don't really want to torture him more then I have to.
Yes, I'm having bad owner worry-sessions. If I could have saved him 2 months of pain, then I screwed up. And now I have to wait 2 more weeks to find out.
So I decided to forego the bridle. We went out in a halter and some gaming reins, and started doing circles and such. It went okay, but he was pretty fiesty in the wind. Every time we went north (into the wind) or south (with the wind), he'd give me some mini-bucks. Just bratty.
As someone suggested to me, I set up some trotting poles, with a placer before my jump. He's very new to jumping and doesn't know where to take off, often leaving too far from the base of the jump, meaning he's jumping pretty flat. So hopefully these poles help him keep his rythym and learn where to depart. Oh, and I raised my stirrups, as someone else had mentioned. I'm trained 90% in classic dressage (I know, it's not apparent!), and always think of long leathers. In my life, I've jumped a 2'9" hunter course ONCE.
Apparently that really throws off my jumping position. Heck, I haven't even been using my knee rolls! (someone should probably put the jumping blocks back on my saddle too...). I shortened them about 3 holes and was amazed when I looked down in the saddle and noticed that my leg position was FINALLY right, automatically.
What do I mean? When I raise my leathers 3 holes, suddenly my head, shoulders, hip and ankle are all in proper alignment over top of one another. Automatically. That's just how I settle into the saddle.
BUT, when I lengthen them for dressage work, suddenly I develop an arm-chair position, with my legs too far forward. It has me wondering how much my saddle design is altering my position...
We trotted in (after some weiny bucking) and moved really nicely down the line. It's amazing how much 'umph' they have doing trot poles. He reached the placer pole, and launched into the jump.
...I imagine from the ground it was his best jump yet (2' vertical). He was much closer, jumped a lot more arching and other then a light tap with a hind hoof, he cleared it (the pole stayed up).
I can't make the same claim for myself.
We landed fine. He moved straight for a moment or two, then turned right...
I somehow lost my right stirrup on the landing and wound up with my weight shifted to the left. When he moved opposite, it was enough to unsettle me in the saddle. I could have clung on, but figured I'd just hop down since he was now at a walk. So I swung my right leg over, put it on the ground in a bit of a slow 'run' as I got my left foot out of the stirrup (kinda like a running dismount).
It would have been no big deal.
Except we only have a grass riding ring, that gets divotted with the rain and horses jogging on it.
I landed in a divot with my right foot, while my left was still in the stirrup. My ankle twisted, my run lagged behind Moon's walk and I feel onto my bum.
Should that be considered my first fall off Moon? It's awful, since I'm sure my terrible jumping position is likely what caused the whole issue. And the divot. Stupid divot.
I got back on him, and made him jump that same jump 3 more times. We both had no issues on the subsequent rounds, not knocking a single pole. He sprung through the trot poles beautifully and I really think that the placer pole is key for us at this point.
To finish off the ride (since he was still fiesty and it was really difficult to get him to ride long and low at a trot in a halter), I decided to setup a trot pole series with the last 4 poles raised on alternating sides.
Coming up to it the first time, I have to admit that it looked pretty intimidating! Even to me! Moon did the regular trot poles fine, but ducked to the right at the first raised pole. Brought him around and we tried a second time, where he moved through the first two raised poles fine, but decided to leap the last two in a single bound. Which is about 4'! Oye.
The third, fourth and fifth attempts were perfect, and I love how springy he moves through them. I called it quits there, figuring we'd had enough success for one day. I intend to have him do that line-up (or with the 2' jump) every practice ride we have, to help him work on his topline muscle, rythym and impulsion. And it's fun when we can't trail ride!
So, back to my "fall". It hardly counts, but man, the back of my knee hurts now. I think I twisted it when I landed, and am now cursing the uneven terrain that we're practicing on. T hopes to get it sanded this summer, but I know how difficult it can be to purchase enough sand to cover an area that big. Suppose I need to just focus on staying on from now on...
Other last minute thoughts, besides my horrible non-floated horseownerness...
- Next week I'm going to ask Coach W for a "me" lesson, so Moon can go the week without being ridden. Then we can see how he is when the vet looks at him. Hopefully I can really focus on my own position during that lesson.
- I went to Greenhawk (store still drives me crazy) and bought some leather conditioner for my tall Ariats "Leather CPR". So far, so good. I think I'm going to use the bathtub method on all of my boots from now on!
- I put my paddocks and old tall boots on kijiji for sale, and they both appear to have sold (just waiting for people to come pick them up). As much as I want to run out and spend the money made on some new horse gear (like an uber soft merino saddle pad, or a pair of shipping boots), I'm pretty sure I need to hang onto it in case the vet finds something I should be putting my money towards instead. Like a mouth full of ugly ulcers... : (