Ups and Downs

“The essential part of life is not about the triumph, but the struggle.”  Olympic creed

I have entire Olympic creed on my eventing binder, the one that travels with me to all shows and other horsey things.  I like to read the quote to remind myself that this sport (or any horse sport really), is one of the toughest in the world.  Therefore, you are going to have a lot of ups and – of course – a lot of downs.

That said, Essence and I have had a lot of downs this summer.  Our first show in Chicago wasn’t exactly what anyone planned for.  The temperature for the entire weekend was around mid 90s, with the humidity sending the temperatures easily into the 100s.  So when we finally arrived in the cute town of Wayne, Illinois, we were hoping for a quick show and to be soon home to cool off.  (The show itself was a one-day event, which meant that all three phases would be done on Sunday starting with dressage, then stadium, and immediately followed by cross country.)

Our dressage tests have been successful at least - scores in the low 30s!

We arrived on Friday in order for me to have time to ride Essence and make sure she got settled in stress-free on Saturday.  This turned out to be a very good idea because soon after we arrived, we heard a weird noise coming from the hood of our brand new truck.  We took the truck into the dealership and were told that the engine was the cause for the noise and that we would be stuck in Chicago until Thursday.  This was NOT what we wanted!!!  But we got to the show okay and later the truck stopped making the noise all together (thank God!).

Dressage went well and we landed a score of a 33.  (Not bad for our first time out all season.)  Stadium is where all the trouble started; we had three refusals on the first three jumps on course.  That sort of thing is not Essence-like at all!  Needless to say, after that ride on stadium, I was losing my mind as I walked straight from the stadium course to the start box for cross-country.  Ess’s and my confidence was shot and we (of course!) had the same issues at the first three fences on cross country.  Thankfully, something clicked on jump four and we sailed through the rest of the course, but it wasn’t enough and we ended up second to last in the standings and went home without a ribbon.

The immediate next weekend we were scheduled to show again so I went home and jumped, jumped, jumped.  We arrived in Hector, Minnesota only to find out that the entire show grounds were (and I’m not kidding) underwater.  Thanks to the horrible summer weather we’ve had, the show was scheduled to take place in a giant mud puddle.

Stadium and cross-country are a work in progress.

As a result, stadium and cross country were both moved back to Sunday and Saturday was dressage only.  The sloppy dressage went well for us and we got a 34.  Sunday was again in the 100s, which admittedly helped dry the cross-country and stadium courses but didn’t help cool the horses and riders.  Stadium went very well, though! We only had one stop and it was due to the deep footing and lack of leg (aka all Nicole’s fault).  Cross country went better but we still had 3 stops which were all due to the lack of confidence a certain rider had in her horse.  All in all, though, I walked away with a ribbon, very muddy shoes, and a smile on my face.   

Es and I have one last chance to shine this summer.  Our next show is two weeks away at the Otter Creek Horse Trials in Wisconsin, which is very close to where Kjerstin (“Bob”) Sneed (my former Albion team captain and blogger from last summer) lives!  Sadly, Bob will be unable to make it to the show because she is moving into her apartment in Lansing to start law school this fall.   With or without her, let’s cross our fingers for a better show with clean jumping rounds!!!

Meanwhile, I am nearing the end of my summer job at the large animal clinic.  (My last day is this Friday!)  I’m very excited to be able to have more time to ride and actually not be exhausted all the time, but I’m sad to leave a great group of people and a great experience.  The days at the clinic are a lot less busy since breeding season is over and vaccinations are done but we are still collecting studs and have our general spays, neuters, broken bones, and other general surgeries.  We had pony come in that was trying to escape some sort of scary monster and jumped over (not really sure of the whole story) some sort of metal fencing and cut the poor pony’s tummy open.  I wasn’t there for the scene, but I was told that the suturing took an hour and a half!

We also have another horse in the barn with a dislocated fetlock.  Again, I don’t know the story of how it happened, but I did hear the story on what they did to fix it.  They laid the horse down in the padded room and hoisted his back leg until the joint was in a proper place before casting the leg.  He seems to be doing well and I love walking by his stall to give him a good rub.  We also did one penis amputation and a laser removal surgery on two horses, which were very interesting surgeries.  I really liked seeing how they used the laser machine – that was pretty cool!  We also did an orthopedic surgery on a young horse that had a chip of bone in its hock and needed to be removed.  We didn’t remove the bone chip but the docs used a scope to look in the hock and flushed the joint with saline. 

On my day off last week, I decided to go to work with my dad.  My father is a well-known orthopedic hand surgeon here in South Dakota so I went to the hospital with him, scrubbed in, and got to look like a real doctor!  The patient had a dislocated finger that had a piece of bone in the middle of the joint so my dad and I got to remove the piece of bone and place a rod through the joint to hold the finger in place.  The joint had a nasty habit of popping back out, which was a little frustrating!  I also had fun walking around the hospital and all of the nurses were nice to talk to and seemed excited about me going to veterinary school.

Lots to do between now and my return to school in a few weeks – wish me luck!

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