Friday, August 12, 2016

So much going on – Progress and setbacks

Oh my goodness. Where to begin. There is about five blog posts I want to write but I don't have time so this will be a 'quick' overview. Side note, on the non horse front I am changing jobs. I am going back to work as a graphic designer, what I used to do before kids. I started some training from home and on call work the beginning of August and in September I will close my daycare and work full time as a designer. This means I am super busy right now. Now back to the important stuff...

After our trip to WSU in June, Bunny and I got to work with our rehab program. She looked better and better. I would email the vet videos each week and she agreed, she saw lots of improvement. Before I went to camp she commented that she saw a lot of impulsion in Bunny's stride and that was great to see in a horse with an old back injury like Bunny is dealing with. She said sometimes it took those kind of horses a long time to see that much improvement.

Rehab consists of exercise six days a week. Working on a lunge line at a walk and trot, focusing on getting her to stretch down and engage her back. About an hour of work and then stretching three times a day. Later we moved her into working in polo wraps, not on her legs. You attach them to the bit, run them between her front legs and tie them up on her withers. She loves that since she is a horse that likes connection that worked great for her. She stretches into the polo wraps well. I'll get a picture when I have a minute.

About three weeks into Bunny's rehab I went to camp for just over a week. I felt like I needed to go to camp. I had agreed to do it a long time ago and it's a ministry I really believe in. But I wanted to keep up with Bunny's rehab work. Bless her heart, my friend Kandi did all of Bunny's workouts while I was gone. She came and worked with me several times before I left to learn what I was doing and get the hang of it.

During those sessions I learned something. It's a whole different view from the outside of the circle. Obvious but easy to forget. I saw things I never noticed when I watched Kandi work her.

Kandi said that all the work outs went great while I was gone. Consistent progress the entire time. Bunny had that Saturday off, I got home Sunday and the vet from WSU visited Sunday to check her progress. Well I don't know what she did but sometime between Friday when Kandi worked her and Sunday afternoon she messed herself up. Her left hip was so sore she didn't want you to stretch it all all. That was normally the side she was better on. She was sore just to touch it and she was not sound on it at all at the trot . And that was her good side...

To say I was bummed out would be a big understatement. The vet pointed out all the areas she saw improvement in, which was pretty much everything else but boy was that hip sore. The vet said if she had continued to look like she did in the videos she would have had me start riding her. Now because of the hip we needed to just walk, cut way back on the time and see how long it took to get better.

Talk about discouraging...

The next weekend Kandi and I crewed at Tevis. Boy was that awesome, that's one of the other blog posts I want to write. Everyone agreed Bunny could use a few days off while I was gone.

My friend Kandi and I at the finish line at Tevis. So cool!

When I got back she looked better so I added back a bit of trot. I also scheduled another visit to WSU. The following week she didn't look as good, my guess was overdoing it on that hip.

So back to WSU. The verdict, everything was improved, a lot. But the hip was still a problem. What on earth did that horse do? She is only in her little paddock, no turn out time. Sigh...

The vet tried to keep reminding me of all the other areas that showed vast improvement. She had regained flexibility every where. The vet could see improvement in the joints themselves when she took a look via ultra sound. Bunny was more comfortable in her stride, had nice self carriage again. She was much more even in her stride. You could tell she felt better. Her topline looked so much better and she was willing to eat more, she had gained 64lbs in 6 weeks!

So another round of injections. This time in her back, hip and neck. And after a few days to recover, back to walking for two weeks and then we will decide if that hip has healed enough to go back to trot work.

The vet also took a close look at her and palpated rectally to make sure the injury to the left hip was not more significant. It wasn't so that's good. She apparently just pulled a muscle and made herself really sore.

When I asked the vet about returning to endurance next season, looking to do at least 50 mile rides she didn't hesitate, she said, “Yes, she thought that was a very realistic goal”. That's good! I really want to ride more miles with this horse.

This whole Bunny being laid up thing has been super tough for me. I didn't realize how much of a stress outlet and a source of enjoyment my endurance time had become. With it gone I kind of feel like I have no goals in life any more. I know that's silly. I have more to my life then endurance. I have good friends, a wonderful husband, two great kids and lots more but at the end of the day it is still a HUGE loss for me. I had big plans for this season. Bunny was just getting better and better as an endurance horse! I was looking forward to riding the national championships with her, possibly Tevis next year. Now everything for this year is off the table and next year is a bit question mark.

If there is one thing I have learned from this whole ordeal it is the importance of watching your horse move on a regular basis. On the lunge line is a great way to do this. I used to make this a priority and worked Bunny on a lunge line at least once a week. Somewhere around last summer I quite doing this. I'm not sure why. I started doing other things with her and that slipped. When I started to realize something wasn't quite right with her I focused on the digestive end of things and didn't really watch her from the ground. That was a mistake.

Bunny is a hard worker. When I watched her at WSU I was floored. How could she look so bad on the lunge line and still feel good under saddle, often fantastic. I think the key was that she wanted to go, so she just kept doing it. Her motivation on the lunge line is different, she doesn't try so hard, she just is and boy could you see a difference.

So my advice, take time each week to really watch and analyze how your horse is moving. It doesn't have to be a huge amount of time but do it. As you do this you can also spot weaknesses and start to work on those hopefully heading problems off before they start. Once in a while have a friend work your horse and you watch from the outside, then you will see things from a different perspective.

Someone asked me if I regretted getting an ex-race horse who has turned out to have chronic issue from her racing days. My answer is NO!

When I got Bunny I was a different rider then I am today. I thought I could ride 50 miles but that seemed like a long ways. Bunny has given me wings. She allowed me to dream beyond what I thought would be possible for me at this stage in life, given my limited resources and limed time. She has not only allowed me to dream big but to realize those dreams. I owe her so much. I am a better rider and a tougher person because of her. She has made me brave.

So I am trying to keep my head up. To enjoy the time I spend with her each day and to hope and dream that we will get to hit the trails again because when that girl is on she is nothing short of phenomenal.

See you on the trail in 2017!


  1. I hope I've got these all in the correct order: "YAY, YAY, YAY, YAY, BOO, YAY, WOW, BOO, YAY, YAY, YAY!

    And yeah, being out for the season is a bummer. I'm with you 100% there!

  2. I hope I've got these all in the correct order: "YAY, YAY, YAY, YAY, BOO, YAY, WOW, BOO, YAY, YAY, YAY!

    And yeah, being out for the season is a bummer. I'm with you 100% there!