It can be difficult for me to find a nice zen happy place. Anxiety often gets the best of me. Lately, that has been happening a lot.
The June ride is a pretty major commitment. It will be the first ride of the season, so there are all the first-ride jitters and the my-horse-is-broken anxieties and our-conditioning-sucks worries.
eek, the pony is out of shape! OK, maybe she is, maybe she’s not. We’re starting this season essentially the same way we did last year: a two-day ride, roughly 50 miles total. Our most recent “longer ride” was half brisk ride, half walk for a variety of valid non-fitness reasons. She took slightly over six minutes to pulse down to 60 when we went from Serious Uphill Working Speed to dead stop – no pulling tack, no water, no dismounting – so while I’m not super thrilled with that, it doesn’t feel terrible. (Please correct me if I’m wrong, y’all.)
Plan: start weekly hill sprints. Continue once-weekly longer rides. Make sure at least one of those solo rides actively excludes cantering so there is no canter-anticipation going on, possibly completely exclude cantering in the week prior to the ride.
the thrush battle continues. Aaaaargh. Right front was a problem, right front seemed to clear up with consistent treatment with NoThrush (good powdery stuff, highly recommend). Left front was then deemed a Big Problem at her most recent trim and looked absolutely awful. Treated aggressively with NoThrush. Looked.. better? Carved away a bit of overhanging frog, swore, treated with Tomorrow at Andrea’s suggestion. We’ll see what the farrier thinks when he’s out in a week or two.
Plan: re-evaluate after farrier visit.
hoof boots vs glue-ons vs shoes?? Two-day ride. I’m still a little traumatized from all our boot fiascos last year, but we’ve done better this year in conditioning rides. Initially my plan was to try glue-ons. Then the thrush became a big enough problem I’m not sure I want to enclose the hoof for that long. Glue-on shoes sound like a great idea – if her hooves are the right shape, which I suspect they’re not (too wide/round). I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to steel and nails yet: I like having ‘pads’ as-needed, I’m definitely not willing to do shoes with pads given the thrush right now, I’m not convinced that steel shoes will be helpful in recovering from the thrush.
Plan: tentatively, ruling out steel for June ride. Trim/nipper hooves fairly aggressively this week prior to farrier visit. Also, confirm when exactly we’re having farrier out! Try hoof boots on again immediately after farrier trim, plus re-evaluate thrush situation then, and consider calling out the trimmer I’d use for glue-ons. Make decision by 6/8. Order relevant parts as needed (hind glue-on shells, any replacement parts for boots/spare boots, etc)
eek, the pony is coughing! Funder was kind enough to insert a voice of reason in my gremlin-induced panic. 85/10/5. 85% totally OK they’ll self-resolve, 10% maybe need to worry, 5% could be terrible definitely need to worry. Yes, Fetti is coughing a bit. Last weekend she was coughing a lot. This last week she continued coughing a lot. Monday’s ride was down to maybe 3 episodes of coughing over two hours? That’s pretty good compared to what we were dealing with. This might also be contributing to some of the decreased fitness I’ve been feeling the last few weeks, if she’s been actively fighting some bug. Who knows.
Plan: obsessively sweep stall whenever I am out there to make sure dust from hay is not a contributing factor. Otherwise, watch and wait.
saddle fitting sucks. Short version: both saddles, on rides with a substantial amount of downhill and walking, are causing back soreness at the very back of the saddle. (Let’s be totally fair: this is new since last ride season, definitely. My knee is not 100% and it is possible that I am doing something wrong to cause this, however, the saddle is sitting straight consistently now.)
Plan: brisk speed ride tonight, mostly trotting with decent hill, to see how the Eurolight does on her back. If sore, email fitters to see their suggestions. Possibly rasp edge of cushion? Possibly ride Thorowgood with wool pad to see if that helps in that saddle?
I shortened my stirrups in the Eurolight and that seemed to help things a little bit, but still did not give the Super Amazing Canter that I get in the Thorowgood. I really want to love the Eurolight. I like it for walk/trot and I feel secure in it. I like how comfortable it is. But I’m coming to terms with the possibility that for as much as I’ve spent on it, it may not be The Saddle for me.Plan, multipart: my old full-leather endurance saddle wasn’t selling, so I traded it for a treeless saddle. This might fail equally spectacularly.
Have trainer evaluate my position in Eurolight the next time she’s out. Proceed with Eurolight accordingly (I know the seat can be shimmed, I don’t know if that’s a route worth exploring.)
My knee is still not 100%. NATRC often requires a ground-mount and I need more flexibility. Also, two hours in the saddle is making me want to drop my stirrup and then it feels sore. This could be a problem.
Plan: STRETCH. If it continues to object in the Eurolight, order new endurance stirrups for Thorowgood to make that more comfortable. This may also come to play if the Eurolight’s long-term potential goes downhill, but currently I am hoping to do the June ride in the Eurolight, canter be damned.
NATRC rides highlight Fetti’s issues being left by other horses. Which makes me anxious.
Plan, already executed: I messaged my trainer and we had a Trail Lesson on being left behind, wherein I got to watch Fetti lose her brain, learned the tools to manage it, and saw that all of her shenanigans were rideable. Anxiety-inducing, but rideable. I’ll continue to practice those tools, enforce the behaviors in the ways that feel confidence-building, and I will remember to LET GO when I feel anxious.
Plan going into the ride: Turnout the weekend prior and/or the week of the ride. Be sure to Ride Seriously (distance and/or speed – maybe only 4-6 miles, but a good solid working 4-6 miles) both Tuesday and Thursday leading into the ride. It’s not typical ride prep – but it’s what I need to feel confident that I won’t have too much horse on Saturday.
What strategies, routines, or tricks do you use to manage your pony or ride-related anxieties?