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Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday's OCD post

Less OCD, more contemplative.  I promise
I'm really glad I have a couple of days to think this over.  Yes, I wish I knew RIGHT now what's wrong, but at least it's giving me time to think and decide and evaluate the "why" behind my decision.
First an update on Farley.  Yesterday she was either the same, worse, or better.  I really don't know.  I was so tense and unhappy I don't know how much of what I was feeling was her and what was me.  It mostly feels wrong.  After not-so-good-under-saddle time, I put her on the lunge and she looks fine, but she's tense (but that's normal while lunging....) and I just get a feeling of wrongness.  So handwalks (possible jog if she offers) only until I see the vet.  I left her tied while I did some chores and watched her.  She is resting the left hind more than the right, but she does alternate back and forth, so I think it's a good sign.  She's standing under herself, but that's "normal" for her.  I have a feeling that when I go into the vet, I'm going to find out that my view of normal is skewed.  Just like when I got Farley I found out how "abnormal" Minx was. 
She pulled back yesterday when tied.  :(  Second time in ~ a week.  She hadn't done it for ~ a year and now TWICE in a week.  *sigh*.  I guess it never ever COMPLETELY goes away?
I have some random thoughts running through the brain right now.  Writing this down really helps deal with the stress, so please forgive yet another post on this subject with no new information.
 The Question:  Did I override Farley?  And did that cause hock problems?
I thought about overriding, pushing a horse too fast a LOT last night.  Especially with a 100 so recently and drawing some criticism of how chose to rest and bring Farley back to work.
Farley had a solid 8 months of LSD before her first LD.  We did a couple of LD's, then a 50 after a total of ~10 months of LSD.  So far so good.  I didn't ask for speed, was conservative during rides, gave her plenty of time off (I still had Minx so I didn't have to time to ride her as regularly as I do now.)
Last year in Feb I pushed too hard to get my 65 miler.  However, after that race she got almost 3 months of being off/light work.  
Since last February I feel like I've done a good job of not pushing too hard.  I admit I've overridden horses (primarily Minx).  Farley hasn't acted like she was overriden (except for that dang 65 miler Feb 2009.....).  I really feel like our riding/rest/mileage was appropriate to her level of fitness over the last year. 
The 100 (February of this year) was the first time I tried "active rest" after a race - the rest of her races she's gotten 2-4 weeks off afterwards (2 for a 50, longer for a longer ride).  This issue didn't develop overnight so I highly doubt that because I tried "active rest" after the 100 that now she has problems in her hocks - especially as this seems to be a progressive problem (since at least January), more associated with the dressage work.
The Question:  Am I asking a horse that is unsuitable for endurance, to do endurance?
It's said that a perfect endurance horse has 3 things - mind, metabolics, and soundness.  There are no perfect endurance horses, so you have a great endurance horse if you can meet 2 out of the 3 and manage the third.
Farley's hind end conformation is not the best.  I know that.  Sickle and cow hocked and stands underneath of herself. 
Does her confo predispose her to develop hock problems?  Maybe.  Maybe I could have done more to prevent it - maybe not. 
She has such a solid mind, metabolitics, AND a heart for this sport.  I feel like if I can manage her hocks - even if that means injections then I will do this sport with her as long as she's happy and pain free doing it. 
The Dilemma
I think e-riders hold themselves to a higher standard when it comes to horse management and welfare.  In most things I think this is a good thing. 
If I was in another sport I probably wouldn't think twice about injecting her hocks.  It happens, it needs to be done, so do it.  As an e-rider though, I feel there's a stigma against doing anything as "invasive" as hock injections.  Yes it works, but if you've done everything right AND your mount is suitable then there shouldn't be a need for such things. 
I'm on the fence. 
I'm GLAD that I'm concerned enough to consider the questions such as - is there something I could do differently?  Does my horse enjoy her job?  Could this have been prevented?  Are there alternatives to an invasive treatment?  Maybe I wouldn't be so diligent if not surrounded the e-culture. 
However, I wish there wasn't such a stigma against treating a horse.  Most of us are going to make mistakes as we go through this sport.  Yes, we can listen to you "ole'timers" and try to learn through your example, but at some point you just have to go out and DO IT - and at some point you are going to make mistakes.  It's just the way the world works.  So yep - sometimes fluids are justified, sometimes you have to get a treatment you could have avoided.....but if it's in the best interest of the horse to have that treatment once "the damage is done", then I think it ought to be done.  Retiring a horse at 11 (in my opinion) is not the best option if there's a treatment that will allow the horse to continue to do something it enjoys doing painfree AND if the treatment won't make the condition worse as the horse continues to work "through it". 
Right now, crowded next to the other "real concerns" in my mind (is this the best thing for Farley, what is the humane thing to do, is she going to be OK, etc.) are concerns that I really shouldn't be thinking of:  What will the endurance community think?  How will I be judged?  Are people going to think I value Farley less for deciding to inject?
Would I be in any better (mental) shape if this wasn't so close to Minx's one year anniversary?  Maybe, maybe not.  I tend to be a mess whenever one of my horses is hurting.  :(


  1. Mel -
    Been off of blogging for a bit now and am only starting to get caught up (long story). Saw your posts about Farley's hocks...check your email, I'm sending you a longer, mroe detailed email about my experience with hock issues and injections.

  2. It's not such a stigma here in the Northwest, I think. We all recognize that sometimes "gravity happens" and sometimes a smart and canny rider needs help from vets to bring the horse back to normal. I hope it doesn't happen to me again, but when the Toad colicked the morning after a ride I ran for the vet and didn't care who saw me.

    You are doing the right thing, Mel. Just hang tight and listen to your vets!

    And keep us posted, of course.

  3. I know that the sport of Endurance is about the cutting edge of "horse management". But it is also an extreme sport, pushing the boundaries of the horse way beyond ANY OTHER EQUINE SPORT out there. Thoroughbreds are thought to be the elite athletes of the equine long do they actually perform? A few minutes each day? How many of those are injured in that short window of performance? PLENTY. So here we are as a group of distance riders pushing an incredible boundary with these (mostly) arabian horses. I think even the most careful of riders can have things happen. We are moving down the trails at speed (even a trot is faster than that horse would probably take the trail in the natural setting), with the added weight of rider, saddle. One rider I REALLY RESPECT had her mare colic on the trail at a ride last year. She thought she'd lose her horse, on an LD. Very experienced and conservative rider. WE ARE PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES with our horses.


    All that said...haven't you been working hard on cantering transitions in your Dressage lessons? I'm voting that may have caused the issue.

    However you chose to deal with it, sure don't worry about what other people think. Just do what is right for Farley. PERIOD.

    *granny hug*


  4. Thanks everyone-I think I need stop reading ridecamp which is probably skewing me view of " other" endurance riders. Probably most people are goin to reasonable just like you guys an supportive.

    I think top level 3 day eventers (esp the ling format probably approach or are at the same level as an endurance horse which is why sometimes go go to that genre to find advice.

    I'll keep you posted of course!

  5. I'm looking forward to your email Ashley.


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