Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The best-laid plans

As most people are starting to get geared up for the 2009 AERC season already, I'm gazing a the thin layer of dust that has accumulated on my saddle. Sadly, it's not trail dust. It's dust from sitting on a saddle rack in my room for the past 6 weeks. That's right, I haven't taken my saddle out since the beginning of October. The few times I've ridden Mimi have been in the arena and pasture, bareback.

Beamer's face is still healing from his encounter with some sharp, pointy objects, something that happened about 3 weeks ago. The location of the wounds (left side of his face, about in line with a halter noseband, and the right edge of his jaw) make bandaging impossible, and the lingering heat we are dealing with means the flies are still very active. It also means it's very tough to put a halter on him. We've discovered he works beautifully off a neck rope. Whoduh thunk it???

Mimi's still off. I can't pin anything concrete down, but my suspicions are that it is actually a mechanical issue versus true pain. It appears that she is ever-so-slightly off in her left hind leg, but it is a consistent thing that shows up now matter what gait, which had lead me to embrace to following conclusion:

When I last had her joint injections done in September, the vet had a very difficult time find a spot to stick the needle in her right hock. I believe, as does the vet, that this meant that her hock was very close to fusing. I'm guessing a bit if time, and the stress and strain of Man Against Horser, might have completed the process. By fusing, her hock now has less mobility, but it also means there is not the irriation of forming bone spurs rubbing together, and she is more comfortable on that leg.

However, her left hock is not yet fused. That hock was better off than the right one, and still easy to inject. What I believe is happening is that one hock (right) has more flexibility than the other, leading to a slight imbalance of movement. It's not true pain or lameness, but rather a natural imbalance that is stemming from having one leg that can flex more than the other.

All that to say: I think 2009 will be my year off endurance. While she's not technically lame, I feel that even doing 25 miles in an unbalanced state like that could cause some other type of damage in that her front legs would be unevenly loaded, and it will cause me to ride unbalanced. School is also getting to a rather critical stage for me...I'd ideally like to be done by the end of 2009, and be able to move and be out on my own by the first part of 2010.

So Mimi's going to get some time off. We'll still be casually trail riding of course, to keep her mind sane and in shape. Exercise will help that other hock fuse all the faster, and who knows...maybe we'll be back at it, doing LDs in whichever locale I end up moving to (right now, San Diego, CA tops the list of choices). I just feel like I need some time away to clear my head. I have so much stress going on in everyday life right now that the decision to not compete for now has lightened some of the weight on my shoulders.