Tuesday, November 20, 2012

2 Year Anniversary

Wow, how time flies when you're having a good time!  Two years ago, I began this blog with the intent of chronicling my entrance into and journey through the world of eventing, and any other equine adventures that occurred along the way.  Since starting this blog, we've gotten just under 12 000 hits, and by the time I've posted this we'll probably be over 12 000.  Most of the readership is Canadian or American, but we've gotten a few fun ones like Latvia, Sweden, and Israel... though I often wonder how many of those are just spam!  The most read post is the Awards & 200th Post, and the 2011 Rolex cross country pics coming in a close second.
To be honest, I'm incredibly pleased I've managed to keep this blog going for so long.  There area times when its been tough, to be sure- I only posted 6 times throughout all of July and August. But for whatever reason, I've managed to stick it out & couldn't be more pleased about that fact.  Thus far, I've met my goal of chronicling my own progress and my horses progress, and I love the fact that no matter where I am, as long as there's internet I can pull up a picture of my ponies!  This blog has proved a great training diary, and a fantastic place to toss around ideas & put 'pen to paper' so to speak!  Next year will bring a lot of changes to my personal life, which will undoubtedly tumble over into my equestrian life as well... so will I get to write a third anniversary post? Only time will tell.  But in the mean time, I plan on keeping up with the blogging for as long as possible.

As there have been so many changes over the past two years, I've compiled a brief history detailing my adventures from the time I started this blog to the present day:

Two years ago, I was riding two wonderful geldings.  My beloved pony (whom I never owned, only leased) and a fantastic draft x named Bailey.  Bailey and I were working on the basics of dressage, and refining my jumping technique.  My coach was working hard to break me of my wayward hunter ways, and the pony was... not being shoved off to the side lines, but we were doing as much as possible without the benefit of an indoor arena.

 The pony and I circa Dec2010/Jan 2011
The pony and I circa Aug 2009
 Bailey and I... circa Oct 2010... or something like that.
Disregard my terrible eq.  He was a lot of work to jump if it was anything over 2'9.  That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it!
Apparently I should really keep better track of when my pictures were taken.  Anywho, Bailey started acting a bit funny in Dec. of 2010.  I first noticed it when he bucked during a canter transition.  Very un-bailey like behaviour.  I brought this up with his owner, and we ended up finding some back soreness. Presumably, he slipped being a dingbat out in the field, because it came up sharply and suddenly, but nobody had seen anything, all his tack was fitting well, etc.  So Bailey's Mom and I worked with vets and massagey peoples to help get him into a good rehab program and back into work.  During that time, I met my coach's mare Z for the first time.  Z was the greenest horse I'd ever ridden.  Incapable of walking down the long wall of the arena green.  Incapable of cantering a circle without much rider effort green.  Incapable of.... well, anything more difficult than that.  My coach generously taught me on her to get me used to dealing with the green beans, and boy did I ever learn a lot!  I used to come home from my lessons on her and fall asleep on the couch for a few hours, absolutely exhausted.  Oh, and Z still holds the record for giving me the most blisters in one ride.  13 new blisters.... with gloves on.  Looking back, I don't know how that's even possible... but I can assure you the total's correct.

Fast forward to late Jan/early Feb. and my coach brings down this little mare for me to try out.  She was owned by an old student who'd bred her out of her event mare with the intent of breeding a future competition horse for herself.  However, PhD's, family situations, and the selling of her farm had left said student fearful of what her baby's future might hold.  So she mentioned to my coach that she maybe would possibly consider thinking about perhaps selling her baby... if the right person with the right situation were interested.  My coach was adamant that I try out this little mare, even though we weren't looking for a horse at the time.  Enter Cadence: 16hh 5 y/o Holsteiner x TB mare. Athletic, but green as grass.  Greener than Z, even.  However, I was instantly smitten.  Not in love, per se, but she was exactly 'my type' of horse.  Forward, but attentive.  Sensitive, but strong.  Intelligent and sensible, but definitely opinionated.  She was certainly green, but even a relatively inexperienced rider like myself could see the potential in her.  My only concern? I was still quite a green rider.  Could I take on this gorgeous and talented mare and not ruin her?
 Meet Cadence! 
I'd forgotten about her psycho mohawk mane...
Just an aside I remembered when I looked at that picture... Cadence broke that lead rope bolting while tied to the outdoor tie.  She snapped the lead clasp in half.  She later pulled said tie out of the wall while I cold hosed her leg. I think the broken lead is currently sitting in a trunk in my basement.
I owe a lot to my parents.  They've done so much for me over the years, and the gift of my mare is no exception.  I couldn't have afforded her myself, and growing up I'd always been told that I could get a horse when I could pay for one.  And while I had enough money to buy a horse, I couldn't have afforded one like Cadence.  She was generously purchased for me, a purchase that was deemed by 'birthday gift for the rest of my life'.  I'll take it!
 A pic of the mare looking young.  Circa March-ish 2011
 Mare-Face's first show!  She placed 1st and 3rd.
The first jump on her first course.

Through the spring and summer of 2011, Miss Cadence improved tremendously.  She went off property for the first time, entered into her first show, went for her first xc school, got eliminated for the first time, got eliminated for the second time, won her first show, and much much more.  Oh, I also fall off of her for the first time (ice falling from the arena roof + 2 mare-spookes in a row = me lying on the ground watching my horse gallop around the arena) broke my first bone (pinky finger...) eventing, and entered in (and subsequently got eliminated from) my first event.  It was a busy summer!
 Being adorable on a xc school, & hopping down a wee tiny drop fence
 That fall, Cadence really started to come into her own.  Her dressage improving rapidly.  She was carrying herself nicely, and not laying on me through transitions.  Her dreadful crookedness and tight right side were all but gone, and we rocked our socks off in a clinic with one of Canada's Olympic team members.
 Us clearly rocking our socks right off.

 I just love that pic.  From a friend's halloween show/games day.  We was fairies.
As they say, all was well... until it wasn't any more.  One Friday in early December, Cadence came into the barn with a puncture wound on her R.H. near the top of her canon.  It was clearly fresh, but didn't look too serious at first. However, within 10 minutes Cadence was on the ground thrashing around in pain.  The local equine vet was called out on an emergency call, and basically told us that Cadence was either a big wimp, or something was seriously wrong, such as a broken splint bone, or torn tendon, etc. and recommended that we take her up to the equine hospital ASAP.

The on-call surgeon at the equine hospital (we shall dub him Dr. C) ultrasounded and x-rayed her, and wasn't able to find anything other than a massive pocket of fluid.  Yay!  So she got a special drain put into her leg, had a little sleep-over, and came home 2 days later with some antibiotics, bandages, and a tube in her leg.  A little while later, the local vet came out and removed the drain.  He remarked she seemed to be healing well, and was off again.  However, she wasn't healing well at all.  The would wasn't closing up, copious amounts of puss were continually being issued from her leg, and she seemed to be getting lamer by the day.  Concerned, we trailered back up to the hospital for an appointment with Dr. C.
The wound on the second trip up to the vets, 2+ weeks since the original injury.
He agreed that there was something wrong, but more x-rays and ultrasounds left everyone stumped as to what it might be, as all appeared to be well.  His fear was that there was some type of foreign body hiding in the pocket behind the wound.  Some poking and prodding around recovered a little chunk of what was either stone or hoof from her leg, but he thought he felt something else in there.  At first he wasn't sure whether or not it was just her splint bone, so they stuck a probe in her leg touching whatever it was, shot an x-ray, and were able to see that whatever was in there was clearly not her splint bone as the probe didn't appear to be touching anything at all.  This was good and bad news.  We'd found what was stopping the wound from healing, but now we had to get it out.  My baby was drugged up, put on the table, and wheeled into surgery.  Not long thereafter, this was recovered from her leg:
Above: the piece of hoof wall removed from her leg
Below: the wound finally healing up!
Post-op her leg healed up well, but she had to go back into the equine hospital after a bout of antibiotic-enduced colitis.  Poor mare.  It was still many months, between stall rest, re-muscling, saddle fit issues due to stall rest and re-muscling, and recovery from the soreness caused by said saddle fit issues, before we really got back to work.  Then, when we did finally get into the swing of things again, Cadence had a little... attitude issue crop up.  We were out on the first xc school of the season, and The Mare felt a bit odd.  She was WAY hotter and less attentive than I'd ever seen her.  My coach thought it was just her feeling good, but it quickly became apparent that this was something else.  Cadence would try to run off, and when you slowed her she'd slam on the breaks, rip the reins out of your hands, stomp, paw, and spin before launching herself into the air and leaping into another bolt, even bolting over a few fences on me before I could get her under control.  I can honestly say I've never had another horse behave half as poorly as she did that day.  Her antics continued for two hours before she had finally settled enough to calmly jump 3 or 4 tiny xc fences and a drop.  By the end of the day, I was exhausted but happy to have that behind us.  Only... it wasn't t.  The next time I rode her, I got the same attitude, all because I'd asked her to bend right.  It escalated to a point where I actually called someone else in to stand next to the ring (where they were still safe) and call 911 if necessary.  Again, we had over an hour of bolting, leaping, spinning, grabbing, etc.  After that, I gave her to my BO to ground drive a few times.  That behaviour was too dangerous to deal with from her back, and I don't have the skills to do it on the ground.  Then my coach hopped on her for a ride (which she behaved for) before I took the reins back.  It was another few months before that attitude was gone completely, and we've worked hard to ensure it never comes back!
We're stretching.... its just not in the right direction!

As we were coming out of our 'bad attitude' / rider killing phase, we entered a dressage show just to push our luck a bit.  Cadence still wasn't quite back to her old self, but we still managed to kick some DQ butt, winning 1st and 3rd, and successfully cantering through our stretch-trot!  From there, we entered into the 'get Cadence off property weekly' phase of our training.  We schooled, went to local jumper shows, did a schooling dressage show or two, went out xc, and failed dismally at a local hunter show! But we went somewhere EVERY week, and slowly but surely we improved.
In July, Cadence completed her first real xc course, winning herself a pretty blue ribbon at the XC derby!  After that, we had one final cross country school before 'officially' entering into the world of horse trials.  Much to my surprise, Cadence completed dressage with a TWELVE POINT LEAD!  A clear SJ round and a measly 5 time penalties left us firmly in first place at the end of her first real, recognised, legitimate, and most importantly.... complete HT!
 Coming down the center line preparing to halt
 Having fun showjumping

The winning streak continued at the next show, where we moved up a level and still finished 9 points ahead of the competition.  A 4th (or 6th?) place finish at the following competition qualified us for Champs, so after only 3 completed events, 2 at the level we'd qualified for, we were heading off to the OHTA Championships!
XC at Champs!!
Cadence believes that there's no need to get too close to the jumps...

Championships were a rainy affair.  Once again, Cadence proved her awesomeness by taking a strong lead over the competition.  After an awesome XC round, we came home feeling like we were on top of the world!  That night, I went to check the stats, and was confused to find 20pp next to our score.  Odd, we didn't have a refusal.  Thinking they'd made a mistake, I asked the show secretary about it.  After a quick chat with the TD, I was informed Cadence had taken a backwards step before hopping off the bank.  The bank had surprised her a bit- it was the first one she'd seen in competition (as was the ditch) and the approach was dreadful, so she took a diagonal step on her way down, but hopped off calmly without a moments hesitation when I put my leg on... or so I'd thought.  Apparently, her one foot went back when she sidestepped, which was enough to earn us a refusal.  I was crushed, and not because we'd dropped 13 places, but because there was a big fat 20 next to our name, and  the significance of those numbers and the accompanying insinuations attached to them made me feel like I'd let my horse down.  However, though I'm not a ribbon-focused rider, my one goal going into SJ the next day was to come out with a ribbon.  I wanted to prove my horse didn't deserve the stigma attached to the xc jumping fault, and placing in the top 10 was my way of doing it.  We were only 3 places away from a ribbon, and the footing in the SJ ring was guaranteed to cause some challenges...

Cadence certainly did prove herself... by being one of the few clear rounds, and successfully putting one stride in 36 feet!  Crazy mare.  And when all things were said and done, we came home with a 10th place ribbon!  The rest of our season wasn't quite as good though.  We attempted to move up to novice, and had a bank issue before I got dumped at a ditch.  It was a silly fall, and I'm the only person who can fall at a ditch on a non-ditchy horse... but c'est la vie!  The next day we went for a xc school just to make sure I hadn't created any ditch or bank issues, and Cadence jumped her first coffin complex!  Overall, it was a fantastic season.

 We jump like a kangaroooo! Boing.
Our last show of the season had to be nixed due to a bit of heat (likely from a bang) that cropped up in her FR coronet area 2 days before the show, and though it was gone by the next day we decided it wasn't worth the risk.  After some back soreness from Cadence, I had the saddle fitter out and got the sad news that I had to sell my beloved jumping saddle.  I haven't officially put it up for sale yet, but after an awesome end of season XC school, I'm finally ready(ish) to let it go.

And that's just about it.  Hopefully I'll be writing again in a year about how much Cadence has improved since this time last year, but in the world of horses... you just never know. For now, I plan on cherishing every moment I get to spend with my awesome mare, and looking forward to next season!


  1. Gahh, the leg story is crazy!! Really cool to read your and Cadence's history!

  2. What an adventure!! I really like to see your journey together laid out like that--I hopped in the middle somewhere, so the perspective is cool.