Sunday, July 23, 2017


When last we left our intrepid hero, he was off on the right front and right hind, with the chronic issue of swinging his right hind in, instead of swinging the leg straight forward, like he has been doing since we started riding with Amanda. Amanda saw it during our lesson on Tuesday and I texted Dr D for an appointment for the weekend after our show. We weren't able to show because he was off on Sunday morning of last weekend.

Saturday morning, J and I got up early to take Ashke to see Dr D. We were at the barn by 7:30, had him loaded (after cold hosing the tear in his skin across his chest - which we have no idea how he managed to tear himself open there) by 8, and arrived at Dr D's early, like a little after 8:30 instead of 9 am. We pulled up and I unloaded him, figuring I could move him around in the mowed field until Dr D came out. When he got off the trailer he dropped his head and I saw it. There was a vertebrae that was out of place in the middle of his back. Sliding my fingers along his spine highlighted the subluxation. We hung out in the field for a few, then I took him to the round pen to play.

Dr D came out to start her evaluation after Ashke was fairly warmed up. He was floaty trotting and then finally gave me a slow, easy canter on the correct lead (rather than the cross lead he likes to do in the round pen). She didn't see anything wrong on the circle. I gave Dr D a run down of the past four weeks (mattress escapade and sparring with the other gelding), what Amanda had seen in the arena during our lesson, and what I thought was going on. I also showed her where I could see the bump along his spine. We moved to the side of the barn where I walked him out and back, then trotted out and back. She said she could see how his right hind was moving incorrectly and he seemed tight in the neck.

She did her accupuncture evaluation and I could see that Ashke's back was super tender where the bump along his spine was, and from that point all the way back to his SI area. When I asked her about it (while she was working on him) she said it was probably from tightening muscles against the pain. The ribs on both sides that connected to that vertebrae (the T16) were sore on both sides of his body. When she looked at his frogs, the right front and left rear (opposite pair of what it usually is) were being used less evenly, probably due to the bone bruise on the inside of his right front. She did something with his front legs and could tell he was shifted out at the C6 and C7 to the left. And his SI joint was a mess.

Dr D pulled blood and got some vitamin B in syringes and began to set the needles. It's pretty cool to watch the needles either push their way out of his body (where there isn't as much restriction) or suck in tight (where he needs the help). We sat and waited while the needles and his body did their work. She couldn't adjust him until the needles had freed up the energy enough to allow the muscles to release their hold. Pretty soon the needles were hitting the stall mats like falling rain. Dr D climbed up on her step and began to move his spine and SI joint.

I have to tell you, my horse understands English and everything I say to him. Dr D needed him to move his left foot back about a half step. We both told Ashke what we needed,  and he moved that foot back half a step. Then I asked him to stand up on his left hind, so he did, but rested his right hind. We all laughed and told him to stand up square and homeboy did. Dr D moved the base of his neck, after talking him into lowering his head so she could do it in the correct position. I heard it pop when it went into place. Next, Dr D used the accuator to move the vertebrae down his spine, then adjusted the SI area so that both hips moved freely. Finally, she ran two plastic needle covers down over the back of his haunches. Before she did so, I told Ashke he needed to lift his back all the way through his withers. He did so and we could hear everything snap back into place. Dr D double checked her work, but everything was back where it needed to be.

I know there are a lot of people who scoff at both accupuncture and chiro. I have used both on my own body to help heal a ruptured disc at my L5. I know that it helps Ashke. He trusts Dr D and will share information with her that he might hide from me because he doesn't want me to be disappointed. However, as our relationship has progressed, I am more and more aware of what is going on with him. I missed the T16. But I knew there was something wrong. He was happy and moving well when we were done.

Dr D said it was a good thing I didn't try to ride him. The vertebrae that was tied up (restricted) was one that would have caused him to buck. And his back was super sore, so I'm just as glad I didn't try to force the issue. She is pretty sure that the reason he was out at the T16 was due to the mattress escapade (as she put it): when I came off I held onto the rein, which is a continuous loop, and he kept rearing. The combination of those two things was enough to twist his back out of whack. So, lesson learned: no more monkeys jumping on the bed.

We loaded up and headed to the barn. I dropped him off, talked to Amanda about what Dr D found, then J and I headed home. We changed, got lunch and then headed for Colorado Springs to pick up a Thule cargo rack for Antiope. (Costco car buying program gave us a coupon for 50% off one accessory up to $400). As we were getting ready to go, Skittle begged to be allowed to go with us, so we decided to try out the car with the dogs. When we got south of Castle Rock the traffic slowed to a standstill and I decided we would not be taking I-25 home.

We forgot to put a blanket or bed in the back for the dogs to lay on.
Skittle insists on sitting on J's lap.

When we got to the dealership, we brought the dogs inside and waited while they processed our order. I had called ahead and asked about the rack, being told that they could install it while we waited, but we discovered that wasn't the truth. It was in a box and they weren't real excited about putting it together for us. We opted to take the rack home in the box, but that kind of crapped our dogs' style.

 So hard to share.

I opted to drive home through the mountains, taking 24 to Woodland Park, then turning north toward Deckers. It was much cooler, being about 71 rather than the 95 we had been driving in, and the mountain road was awesome to test out the handling of Antiope. And let me tell you, I was pretty freaking impressed. She handled the winding roads very well and had plenty of acceleration. 

A few miles out of Woodland Park, I took a turn off with National Forest access. We drove back away from the road, got out and let the dogs run. J and I hiked up the trail with them about fifteen minutes.

 Running dogs.

 Exploring dogs.

Big rocks in the distance

These were so cool.

There were a bunch of logs laid up against an opening in the rock.
J climbed up to look.

The huge rocks formed a ring around this space.
I feel almost an obsession to go back in climbing shoes and get into that space.
It feels sacred.

We hiked around the outside of the rocks and finally came to a spot I thought would get us inside. J climbed through and ended up next the to leaning logs. Climbing the logs was the only way to get in. Well, or free climbing the rocks around the outside, which we didn't have the gear for. We didn't go inside because we weren't sure how we would get out.

Berkendorks were not the best choice.

Walking around the outside.

There was more than one reason why I was drawn to these rocks.

On the way back, through the winding canyon into and out of Deckers, Skittle sat in the front seat. It was so funny to both J and I when we realized that she was leaning in advance of the curves in the road. She was watching the road and would brace herself depending on which direction the road was curving. Very smart doggo.

 She loves looking out the front window.

And sticking her head out.

Being Co-copilot doggo

It was a great way to spend the day with J and the pupperinos.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Trouble in Paradise

After the show at PVF and my personal best score for dressage I had three weeks to prep for my next show. Only, I was hurting pretty bad from wreaking my shoulder. Still, time waits for no woman, so I pulled up my big girl panties and headed to the barn on Tuesday to take a lesson with Amanda. Plus, I wanted her to watch my dressage ride, so we could discuss what I needed to work on.

Ashke had different plans.

Tuesday morning during turnout he and Nemo, his bestienemy, decided to play stallion games. They were tearing around their turnout at top speed, coming together in the middle to rear and strike at each other and then tear off doing zoomies again. There was bucking and kicking and striking. The BO heard the ruckus and separated them early, but they were both a bit scratched up. Nemo had a decent rake along his haunch and Ashke had a swollen right front leg.

I thought he had popped a splint from a glancing blow from Nemo. He was head bobbing lame on the lunge at the trot and worse when he was moving counter-clockwise. I cold hosed and put the quick wrap on it. No lesson. No progress. Lame horse.

Thursday night I went out and pulled the quick wrap off, since Ashke had managed to pull most of the batting out of the wrap with his teeth. I swear, horse! Then I took him out and rode him around the back 40, keeping him at a walk, even when he wanted to jig. He felt a little bit off, but fairly solid at the walk. Then the following Sunday we hauled out to Chatfield for a very brief ride, since we was head bobbing at the trot.

The swelling was going down slowly and it was determined to be a bruise on the bone and possibly tendon, but no heat, no tenderness to palpitation, no reaction to direct pressure on the spot, but it was bothering him. So more time off.

Last week, on Sunday, he was mostly sound. Not 100% yet, but sound enough I felt I could ride. We did about twenty minutes worth of mostly transitions, and I scheduled a lesson for Tuesday. He was about the same. Just the slightest, lingering cautionary step. Although, that is when we discovered he was dragging his right hind again.

He hasn't done that for a long time. But after asking for shoulder in along the rail, Amanda had me go back and look at his tracks. You could see in the arena dirt that he was not lifting the right hind they way he has been. There was a nice crescent circle in the dirt with every step. Amanda and I talked about whether I should show or not. It was decided I would wait and see how he felt on Friday night and make the call then.

I messaged Dr D and set up an appointment for the 22nd, to see what is going on in his body. I suspect the SI Joint area and possibly the shoulder/withers, but we will have to see. He was not bending as freely to the right and this seems to be his go-to for body issues (kind of how I carry stress in my shoulders).

Friday night I went to ride. He was stiff and stumpy at the canter and felt awful. I was only on him for twenty minutes, but none of that ride felt good. I decided to scratch and called both J and Ch to let them know. Ch talked me into waiting until Sunday and see how he was then. On Saturday, after the first day of the show, I went to the barn and lunged him. He was playful and energetic on the lunge line, so I bathed him.

Sunday we hooked up and hauled to the show. I got Ashke prepped about nine and into the dressage court for our warm up. He was really off. Head bobbing lame. I asked two other riders to see what he looked like to them and they both said he looked lame. Since it was a schooling show, I scratched. I did find a huge bit on his left hind, on the back of his leg, about half way down, that was swollen and hot. I showed it to Amanda, who thought perhaps that was what was causing his lameness.

Then I helped work the show and left him tied to the trailer for the day. He did awesome!! The rider who was parked next to me helped us out with water and snuggles for my boy.

Monday, I went out to see how he was. He was fine. I rode for about thirty minutes with no issues.

Last night we had a lesson. We did ground poles on a circle at the trot and canter. I'm okay at the trot, but I suck at the canter. Ashke has figured out how to adjust his strides to the poles without input from me, but has decided speed will help when moving clock wise. We did transitions and serpentines and square corners. We did turn on the haunches to turn on the forehand down the center of the arena and sidepassed the ground poles. Finally, I did leg yields to the left, then asked for a transition into canter onto the right lead, which completely confused Ashke, which was the point. He really tries to predict what is coming next, and this exercise really made him think. We did it in both directions.

We also revisited the Raised Rocking S snaffle bit from years ago, to see what he thought about it. He loved it so much it was like it wasn't even there. I struggled to get him to stop. He didn't listen to my seat or legs and pretty much did whatever the hell he wanted. Which are all the reasons I moved away from that bit years ago. We will keep looking. I would like a bit that he would listen to and respond to, without throwing his head straight up in the air. Snaffles are a no go, so we keep looking.

Monday, July 10, 2017


Subaru Ownership:

1. I don't drive inside the lines on the road very well. Specifically, I cheat the corners and am sometimes distracted. My car now beeps at me when it thinks I am getting too close. I think it must think I am a slow learner.

2. My dash is black. When it is dark, all of my dials glow a deep, dark red. Against the black interior, it is pretty cool, albeit sinister.

3. No one alive can say Antiope. J has taken to calling her chia. Pisses me off. She can just refer to Antiope as General!

4. I can set cruise control for a certain speed and distance from the car ahead of me and the car maintains a safe distance and speed without me touching the gas or brake. T thinks I have AI in my car. I should have named her Kitt.

5. Sunroof is awesome!! Nothing like driving with the hair sticking straight up on your head.

Ashke is finally mostly sound. I rode for about 40 minutes yesterday and he seemed happy to get back to work. He got more sound as the ride went on and I think that in part the front right was being aggravated by the right hind not being in work. He does better when he is doing dressagey things on a regular basis.

Going out to ride tonight, have a lesson tomorrow night, then getting stuff ready for our show this coming weekend.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Catching Up

Ashke decided he was going to play stallion games with his gelding neighbor and ended up either giving himself a splint low on the inside of his RF, or badly bruised the bone. He also gashed the shin on his RH. He is a bit lame and I am unable to ride much right now. We did a loop around the back 40 on Thursday and he seemed fine. On Sunday, we did a short loop at Chatfield where he alternated between head bobbing lame and perfectly fine. He was still a bit off last night, although I do think it's improving, so who the hell knows. I have two weeks until our next show and I'm wondering if he will be sound by then.

I spent Saturday being very frustrated by the process of purchasing my next car. I thought I wanted a Highlander Hybrid, but after the service we received at the dealership designated by Costco for the purchase of Toyotas, we went a different direction.

We got a Subaru in Jade green with all the bells and whistles.

Meet General Antiope
(And if you don't know who that is, you need to go see Wonder Woman)

I love her and think she will be a great warrior for me going forward. My trusty steed and companion in arms.

It was a very long weekend though. It is neither easy nor quick to purchase a car.

In addition to spending so much time trying to purchase a car, we spent hours with our dogs. We have two and one of them could care less about fireworks, but the other gets very stressed. We tried Treatibles (cannibus in the form of CBD) to help her anxiety. It helped a lot, however it was still very stressfull. 

I will check on Ashke tomorrow again, and with any luck, perhaps he will be sound again. He's no longer getting to play with the geldings. He is out with a mare or he is in the round pen alone. He is the instigator and I just can't.