Thursday, August 17, 2006

Clinic vs Allergies

It's a toss-up between what I should focus on with this post. If I posted more often, I wouldn't have this problem, but I pretty much let things build up until I have too much stuff to write about. So I will focus on the clinic first.

D.B. was here last weekend. At last, the weather was perfect for riding. They also finished the expansion of the indoor arena to a whopping 172 ft.! Since we were all so excited about the large indoor, and it had been raining all week, I rode inside. I was afraid the footing in the outdoor would be too deep/muddy. I guess being conervative was my mistake. I had an awful ride on Jimmy. He was in a mood all week, and I didn't have one good ride on him the whole week leading up to the clinic. I wasn't looking forward to riding him in the clinic, actually, because of his mood. I think he had a lot of reasons to be grumpy. Zoe moved out the week before (the allergy story), and the love of his life, Flo, is staying in her place. He really loves Flo. He loves her so much that he can't stand to have her out of his sight. She is also attached to him. So you can imagine me trying to take him out of the paddock without her. Yep, she had to come, too. Then you can imagine when she was in a stall and couldn't see him in the cross ties, and vice versa. Yep, I had to move her to a stall closer and in direct line of sight. So I had to ride him in the indoor, which was in several stages of expansion. Wall up, wall down, sand suddenly to dirt, etc. All of those factors put Jimmy on edge. The first ride was impossible. He kept trying to look at Flo, Flo kept calling to him, and I had a horse who was stiff and tense every step. Argh. The second ride was marginally better. Flo had to be in the barn, but not in direct line of sight. Jimmy was slightly more relaxed, but still felt like a stiff board with an iron jaw. The third ride I focused on relaxation. We walked and walked and walked. He was relaxed and stretching over his back. We went into trot. Slam! An iron jaw. A stiff back. I tried and tried to get him to relax and stretch. On no, none of that was happening. We cantered. A stiff board, leaning one way, then the other as we changed direction. Head up, jaw clamped. I went back to walk. And we walked and walked and walked until he was relaxed and stretching again.

Based on this information, you could possibly surmise that the same general pattern emerged in my lesson. Yes, I got to pay $60 to ride a horse that wouldn't relax, wouldn't cooperate, and felt like an iron bar underneath me. David finally let me stop trying. After 40 minutes of telling me to "supple him" and me finally getting so mad that I really did use my spurs and dressage whip (which, by the way, always makes Jimmy even more tense), and me about to burst into tears on Jimmy's back because he was being soooo belligerent, David did say, "Okay, I guess that is all we are going to get from him." Yes, David, that is all. Otherwise I would have cut him up in pieces and left him strewn around the arena. Most definitely, my most least enjoyed clinic lesson ever.

Okay, so let me fast forward to Sunday's lesson. I had a totally different feeling about Jimmy going into Sunday. I could tell he (Jimmy) was in a better mood that morning. I also decided to ride outside, which usually helps Jimmy calm down. So Sunday's lesson was much better than any ride that whole week. He wasn't in top form, but he was cooperative, loose, and supple. We had a nice ride. My good Jim ended on a good note. David isn't back until December. I decided that weekend to retire Jimmy. I wouldn't ride him in any clinics unless he was doing really well and someone needed to sell a lesson. I am going to have my saddle refit for Zoe. No more shows for Jimmy. And I have decided to look for someone to lease Jimmy, to ride him a few times a week and have fun with him. This was a really hard decision for me. It has actually taken me this past year to acknowledge this decision. It's hard to retire a horse that I have such a great relationship with. But Jimmy is telling me he wants to be retired. On top of that, I need to devote my attention to bringing Zoe along. She is doing fantastic, and is finally looking like a grown horse. It's time to make the switch. I love you, Jimmy.


On to the allergy story. Read the Dr. Doom post to get the background if you don't have it already. Bottom line is that I moved Zoe to B.'s place and she is doing great. She came back to A.W. for the clinic and B. was planning to take Flo back home. However, within 10 minutes of being in the stall, Zoe started having her allergic reaction. Hard snorting, wiggling her nose, and even her eyes looked swollen, like she could barely keep them open. She started flipping her head. When I got her on the cross ties to tack her up, I was almost in tears watching her. It was obvious that I really could not keep her at A.W. anymore. I was sickened by the thought that B. was going to leave her here.

I owe B. so much. She saw Zoe and said, "we cannot leave her here!" We took Zoe home that night. For the Sunday clinic, I left her out in the paddock and she was fine. It has to be an allergy to the shavings, maybe the old hay....okay, we don't really know. Shavings are on the high suspicion chart. I'll test that by taking a bucket to B's this weekend to see if she has a reaction when she smells it. B. is letting us move the chicken coop out of her third stall into the garden, so Flo can come home and Zoe can stay. Thank god. Thank my lucky stars. That does leave Jimmy at A.W., and it is near impossible to have two horses in different locations. Another reason the timing is good for Jimmy's retirement. If I can find someone to ride him, love him, and clean his stall, I'm set.


The bottom line really is that I need to get my own place set up ASAP and get my horses home!!

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