I feel terrible for neglecting this blog! The year always starts out well, I am great about keeping up and posting regularly, and then it all goes to crap partway through, when things get REALLY busy! I'm just so darn busy! Oh well, we can always strive to improve that, anyways, haha.
I wanted to post about how Sunny's chiropractor appointment went, but then I realized that I would need to also post about how parts of our summer went, and the issues we'd been having, in order to fully appreciate/understand the chiro stuff! Lol.
Geez, where to even start? I guess if I look at the big picture, I am really happy overall and with the progress we made, from the beginning of the season to the end.
Dressage was MUCH improved this year, we are finally getting the relaxation I have been working so hard for, and now we are starting to be able to really tweak and improve everything else. Sucks because our best test by far was at the South Peace Event, and our dressage judge happened to be the extra angry one that gave me crap for whacking Sunny with my reins at Beaumont when she WOULD. NOT. HALT. So this dressage judge already had a sour taste in her mouth about Sunny and I from the get go, plus she marks pretty hard anyways, so we ended up near the bottom of the pack. But that's just how things go sometimes, and it was rather surprising at the Alhambra Fall Event, Sunny felt super stiff and resistant during our test, and I wasn't happy with it at ALL. But because of our new found relaxation, we ended up not dead last like I'd expected, but mid pack, with all of the scores fairly close! This dressage thing is opening up into a whole new world now that things are finally coming together!
Stadium started out a little rocky this year, almost every event I would have that *one* moment, everything else would be great except for that one fence Sunny would absolutely launch out of nowhere like it was 1.30m, nearly jumping me right off, and I would be hanging half off and have to do an emergency circle to recompose myself, thus incurring 4 more faults and a bunch of time penalties, and then carry on. That started to get pretty embarrassing, it's not fun to nearly eat shit every time I enter the ring! I am happy to report that by the fall event, we had gotten ourselves together and had a FANTASTIC round with only 4 faults, and just a minor screwup at the swedish oxer where I took off long but Sunny added the stride (GOOD GIRL!! We need to ALWAYS add the stride if in doubt!) but she saved my butt and made it over clean. Our one rail was the first fence of a one stride vertical combination, I just had a tad too much horse coming in, I should've balanced back just a bit more and we would have had it. Regardless, I was SO FREAKING HAPPY with my round, here is the helmet cam, and you can hear my excitement at the end:)
Cross country this year was pretty fabulous overall. We had a few great clinics, Chase Creek was absolutely amazing as always, Leslie Law was fantastic and he commented on how far Sunny and I have come in the past few years, and up at South Peace with Sandra Donnelly we made all the Intermediate stuff our bitch and Sunny didn't put a single foot wrong the whole time!
On course for cross country 95% of the time she was pretty awesome. She was bold, brave and forward. I ended up having 3 run outs this year though, which is kind of crazy because Sunny DOES NOT STOP. She never says no, if she can physically get over the fence, she will do it. So our first run out was at the Rocky Event, I had posted the helmet cam of that way back when. It was the big wide skinny table after the long steep gallop up the hill, and I just didn't get her lined up properly so she ran out to the right, that one I took credit for, I felt like I had definitely dropped the ball as a pilot, and didn't give her much of a fighting chance to jump it. Alhambra Summer event was the second run out, at the big green and yellow corner, we had the point to the right, and she ran out to the right again. At the time I thought it was my fault again, I felt like hadn't lined her up quite well enough and could've balanced back quite a bit more on the approach, but watching the helmet cam later, my line ended up looking half decent, and the distance looked ok, so I kind of chalked it up to just shitty luck, and vowed to really work on corners and holding my line going forward.
Here is my helmet cam from the summer event, with a few notable moments!
2:20 is one of her famous launches, almost popping me right off, hence the "Holy Shit!", which is hilariously becoming one of my signature phrases while jumping, lol. Thank god she just goes straight on landing, that's all I can say!! 3:30 is the run out at the corner, and 6:05 is an amazing example of Sunny's usual "never say no" attitude, the wagon AB combo distance walked majorly funky, and Sunny made the executive decision mid-jump to make it a forward one stride instead of short bending 2 like I had planned. You can see from the way it was set up that the run out to the right would have been WAY easier than the awkward jump over the B element, so she gets major major awesomeness points for that.
The third run out was at South Peace, which surprised me because we had such an awesome clinic there right before the event. We were having a fantastic round (minus the amazingly huge long spot at the first fence!), I made the huge 5ABC bank combination my bitch, tons of people had trouble there, and nailed the first water where there was many stops and problems too. Sunny was being super forward so we had a bit of a trip up the bounce banks, but carried one just fine. Jumped the first smaller left facing corner great at 3:10, and then we had an AB combination a few fences later, a big ramp, bending left to a right pointing corner 5 strides away at 4:10. Annnnnnnd...run out to the right again! Circled and represented, and she jumped it, and we went on to absolutely rock the 16ABCD water combo, and then the coffin right after, both caused problems for others as well. So all the hard stuff we absolutely ROCKED, and the stupid corner caught us again:P
Another problem we started having this year was drifting left. It would only show up every so often, but I remember at Rocky I kicked about 4 flags with my left foot throughout our cross country course. So at the summer event on XC, I carried my crop in my left hand, thinking it might fix the left drift, but we ran out right:P And even last year, I remember the odd drift left, nothing too major though. Well this year it definitely got worse at things progressed. Lots of times schooling she'd be drifting slightly left through lines and combinations, and I know my left is my weaker side so I figured it was a combination of both of us. The most dramatic example of it was at the summer Alhambra event, Sunny jumped so hard to the left over fence 1 in stadium, I didn't just kick the standard with the toe of my boot, I nailed it SO HARD with my shin and took the whole god damn thing down. Ended up with a pretty wicked bone bruise that still bugged me several months later. We managed to get it together for the rest of the course, and aside from the entire jump I took down, (Sunny didn't touch it!) we pulled out a decent round, only taking down the back rail of a max height oxer set on a short funky uphill turn, mostly because she jumped me off again over fence 4, and the huge oxer was fence 5 and I just didn't quite get it together again. :P At this time I was like "Can I seriously just keep things together for just ONE whole stadium round?? Just one!!" Really, there was always SOMETHING that happened:P
And then that brings us to our slightly premature end to our season. After having a decent dressage and our awesome stadium at the fall event, I was super psyched because we were sitting 3rd in the Championships and 7th overall before xc. And then we did this:
It was totally the shadow, Sunny just misread the jump and didn't realize it was an oxer until she was already in the air, and BAM, she managed to get her front end over but caught her back half on the back rail. Thank god she is catty as hell and didn't go down, I have seen horses go down for much less of a reason! She bolted to keep going but I could feel she wasn't right on her left hind so I immediately pulled her up and retired. Got her back to the stall and checked her over, she had bashed her left stifle and scraped it up a little bit, her back boots were all torn up, and had obtained wind puffs on her right front fetlock, but surprisingly she was no worse for wear, considering she'd almost wore a fence as a hat.
I iced her stifle immediately after I untacked her, Sunny was SO PISSED, I had a big ziploc bag of ice, and I was holding it on her stifle and freezing my hands, I iced her on and off for an hour and a half right after. Sunny was so angry, she kept swinging her head around to bite me, the bitch, haha. Her stifle was pretty swollen when we got back to the barn after the event, so we had a few days of cold hosing and wrapping, and just a few days later she was having a party galloping like a crazy horse around her huge pasture, so I figured she couldn't be THAT broken. Got on her 6 days later for a hack, and she felt alright. Super stiff through her neck and back, but sound.
For the following couple weeks I was just lunging lightly and hacking, she was sound but just super stiff and just felt like shit. So I basically just western ponied around on a loose rein, but wanted to keep her somewhat working. Here's a quick photo I snapped on one of our lunging days.
A few weeks after our last event, Sunny's chiro appointment was finally upon us! I was using a new chiropractor, who had adjusted my friend's horse and done just a fabulous job, what a difference! She showed up so I told her a bit about Sunny and what happened, and also about the drifting and run outs we'd had this summer, and walked her so she could have a look at Sunny's movement. She was very patient with Sunny, who is not the most pleasant horse to be around some days (her and her chronic bitch face, lol) but Sunny is also very good because she let the chiropractor know about every single little thing!! Right off she found 3 subluxated ribs on Sunny's right side, right under the saddle, and one was twisted. Probably like a month ago I had came across this article: http://wheredoesmyhorsehurt.com/rib-checkup.html and I was positively HORRIFIED that Sunny had still been running and jumping and trucking along despite what was probably immense pain from those ribs!! So that definitely explains the left drift, and was probably a major factor in our run outs as well. Her pelvis was also twisted a bit, her atlas was majorly out, the left side was significantly more forward than the right, and her right shoulder was locked, along with both front pasterns. I couldn't believe all the cracking and popping in her pasterns while she gently adjusted and massaged them, it's not like she was yanking or forcing anything around either, it was amazing. I had been struggling all summer with square halts, and as we progressed through the appointment, Sunny was standing more and more square as we went!! Then at the end of the appointment I went to walk her down the aisle so she could look at her movement again, and what a difference!! Tons of overtrack and Sunny's sexy walk was back!! Loose, huge and a lovely swinging back, I was SOOOOO happy!!!
I gave her a few really easy loose rein rides after the appointment, then the Thursday after I actually worked her for the first time, and holy shit, what a difference! I gathered up the reins and everything was just soft like butter. I couldn't believe it. Sooooooo happy!! I really can't believe how good Sunny was this year, especially on the flat, despite all the shit she had going on. I feel really bad about that, but hindsight is always 20/20:P She obviously feels SO much better now, thank god. The mare has crazy heart, that's all I can say!!
I will be better about updating this thing, I promise;)