Thursday, July 23, 2015

Woe is me.

Be warned, this post gets a little bit a lot whiney but it ends up ok in the end. Maybe.

Dig My Size, 2012
Do you ever have one of those days when nothing, and I do mean nothing, seems to go right?

The kind where no matter what, you're grumpy. The kind where stereotypical, sad country music songs all seem to fit. The kind that make you wonder if you need to drink several adult beverages or just sleep for 3 days. The kind where even (multiple) chocolate cupcakes and hugs don't help.

Yeah, we've all been there once or twice.

In all actuality, there are plenty of things that go right, or at least things that don't go wrong. The day could be worse and you know it. Nevertheless, there's a giant ball of "EVERYTHING SUCKS" that you can't seem to deflate, or a heavy weight on your shoulders, or a giant monster sucking out all the joy in life stuck to you, whichever metaphor you prefer. You punch, kick, scratch and claw your way into a better frame of mind. You fall down, you get back up. Wash, rinse, repeat.

"I am a wild steed!" (2010)
I'm a goal oriented person. I thrive on continuous process analysis and improvement. I struggle with people who say things like "well, we do it this way because we always have" and "no we can't do that because I said so." I feel like most (can I make that generalization?) riders, especially bloggers and ones who compete, have similar feelings. We are consistently analyzing, trying new things, trying old things, seeking feedback. While we can lack patience, we know it's necessary. We are willing to sit chilly and wait it out. "It" could be the distance to a jump, the days of stall rest, the time it takes to build up fitness, or anything in between.

Sitting chilly and waiting "it" out has its limits though. There are situations that will bring that "EVERYTHING SUCKS" ball/weight/monster around like kryptonite. You fight it and try to stay buoyant. You have to, for your own sake and the sake of those around you.

I can't really pretend that Digby is sound anymore. His lameness is my kryptonite. It's just happened too many times, for too long, for me to ever be ok with it. My first reaction has become "fuck this." I immediately get irrationally angry. I'm angry because I spend all the monies on board bills, feed bills, vet bills, farrier bills so I can't do other things I'd like to and I can't even ride. I'm angry because I had my hopes up that maybe we'd start lessoning in the fall with a local trainer. I'm angry because I can't enjoy my horse like I'd like to. I'm angry because I'm not asking him to jump or do Grand Prix dressage and he still won't stay sound. I'm angry because I've owned him for 5 years who has been lame for at least half of it. I'm angry that EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD (lolz) gets to ride their horse. I'm just angry in the "it-doesn't-matter-how-many-cupcakes-you-eat-you're-still-mad" way.

Digby's been on/off sore/borderline lame for a while now. There's always a progression to his lameness. He gets not quite right behind, sore in the back, and then lame up front. We tried a different set of shoes but those have not helped curb this progression. He was back sore earlier in the week. He didn't look bad but didn't look great on the lunge line on Monday. I rode on Tuesday and he was definitely more ouchy, enough for me to not work him, sigh heavily, admit that he wasn't reaaaally sound and brace myself for my impending mood drop. He was about a 1.5 out of 5 lame trotting in the field yesterday. Although he's been sound for several years, in similar workload, whatever we're currently doing is causing him to be lame. Again. The worst part of Digby's lamenesses is that there's never any heat. There's no swelling. There's no physical "thing" that I can look at and say "oh, that's worse than it was yesterday" or "yay it's gone down!" He's just either sound or he's on the lameness scale of 1-5.

I may be melodramatic. This is certainly a first world problem to be this bummed about a horse's lameness. He's just a horse, right? I wrote a post the other week about how he's not my heart horse. If he is, I don't know it yet. Why do I care so much that it ruins my whole day, week, month? I suppose it's because I'm emotionally and financially invested. Relationships, even of the equine/human nature, are hard. You stay with something long enough, you end up having hopes and dreams and goals. Digby, in his own charming way, keeps crushing them. I need to remind myself that life is not over, you're fine, you'll figure it out, he'll get sound again, he always does.

If you'd like, cross your fingers, throw in a little prayer, give advice, make a wish for me. Digby needs to tell me what in the hell I'm supposed to do with him.

And I need to find a few cupcakes. They may not help my mood, or my waistline, but they sure are tasty.


  1. I just wanted to share my experience. I have been in your shoes before, sort of. And I know how much it sucks sometimes.

    The horse I owned/rode in high school was diagnosed with navicular at age 18. It was an uphill and incredibly draining journey to get him sound. Eventually at around age 20/21ish all the pieces fit together and he was sound for the remaining two years of his life (he had an inoperable tear in his colon and was put down at age 23).

    During the unsound years I was so frustrated and jealous of other people who got to ride their horses. It was suggested to me more than once to put him down. It was a lonely journey and I was kind of the barn outcast with my gimpy horse.
    Blue gave me three great years (age 15-18 for both of us) and taught me so much, I felt like I owed to him to make him as sound as possible because he gave me so much. I worked 60+ hours a week while I went to college to afford the extras he needed. I'm not sure that I could do that again (financially or emotionally). I was really upset when Apollo had lameness issues over the last year. I think it brought up a lot of my old frustrations/fears from my tough years with Blue.

    The purpose of horses is to bring joy into our lives. If Digby isn’t bringing you joy maybe you could find a retirement home for him and focus for time/energy on a new prospect? Also, I did have good results with using recovering EQ for Blue (although he had a different type of navicular) so just wanted to pass that along as well. Or if you really want to go off the deep end I have a wonderful equine nutrionist/psychic (I know, I know kind of kooky) and she has been amazingly helpful with my current herd.

    Sending big hugs. Sorry for the novel! :)

    1. I really, really appreciate this comment. Truly. As much as I wish I was the only one who went through this, I know I'm not the first and I won't be the last. A horse with chronic lameness is just SO hard to handle mentally.

      Sadly, I don't have the money to retire Digby and have another horse. I could always try to free lease a horse for me to ride (but I can't afford board so it really needs to truly be free) and I have looked into finding him a companion home but none of my personal friends need a companion horse and I really worry about what kind of home he'd be going to, if he'd be ok, if they'd tell me if he wasn't, you know? I try to do right by him as much as possible.

  2. I'm so sorry, chronic lameness is such a tough thing to deal with. I know I would struggle a lot with it. Rico was on and off lame at the end of last year and beginning of this year and I finally just retired him (but he was 19 and I had already achieved all my goals on him so there was no reason to keep him going aside from enjoying riding him). I was such a mess not knowing if he'd be okay to ride each day. Lots of hugs and cupcakes for you! What a sucky situation :( hope he (and you) feels better soon.

    1. Ugh, thank you. You nailed it right on the head when you said chronic lameness is tough. It's just so damn hard to finally have a horse sound, and for a few years even, and then all of the sudden he's showing the SAME DAMN things he used to. Digby's only 16 so I get a lot of "well you can't retire him! He's so young!" and I'm always like "that's super supportive, thanks people. #not" My back is feeling better (thank goodness) so hopefully Digby's back/hocks/feet/whatever feel better soon too!

  3. i'm so sorry and am sending you all the virtual cupcakes in the world :(

    that chronic lameness and frustration and not being able to do the things you want to do with your horse just sucks... and just bc we can call it a 'first world problem' doesn't mean it's any less real. wishing you the best of luck in finding something that works for him!

    1. Virtual cupcakes! Haha they sound tasty. Thanks for the optimism and well wishes. Fingers crossed!