Thursday, September 9, 2010

Insomnia Musings

I doubt anyone actually likes insomnia, but insomnia when you cannot change your position to get more comfortable, get a book to read, a glass of milk or anything else is hell. It's now nearly 7am, and I think I managed to sleep about two hours. So I've given up. Apparently I am now at the point in my healing where my body is not yet ready to dance (I have months yet) but is also not using up enough energy to let me sleep. Instead I listen to the dog snore weighted down by sleeping cats and envy Shane.

With nothing else to occupy me I've been worrying about two things: grad school and Sati. I had planned to take the GRE this month so I could apply to some US graduate schools in December. In my current condition there's no way I can sit through a four hour test. I can barely sit at all for more than fifteen minutes, never mind trying to do math when I can't look down at a page. Oh well I suppose. This is where I have to repeat my mantra...I lived, I'll ride again... Next year, unless I can get into a school outside the US.

Sati is the bigger issue now. I haven't written about our training over this year. We've done amazingly well. From round pen and ground work to ground driving to work under saddle she has been stellar! I broke down and bought a very expensive saddle that would fit her as I couldn't find anything else. A properly fitted saddle completely changed her movement and willingness. I even took her out for a short trail ride once with Shane & Ketah's help.

But there are problems that have nothing to do with her willingness or my training.

A little over a year ago when my vet first saw her he told me that she hyperflexes her fetlocks and that it was a risk factor for Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Demitis (DSLD). At the time he didn't seem majorly concerned and what I read suggested that if she would develop it, chances were that she'd be in her teens. So I bought sport boots to help support her ligaments and continued with her training, most trainers would consider her training load light. At best I was able to work her twice a week.

Sadly, over the last year and especially in the past few months that hyperflexion has gotten worse. She had an episode of upward patellar fixation, which isn't uncommon at her age, but I now think is related to her flexion issues. I have also seen her fetlock seem to pop in and out of joint as she tries to stop in response to my cues on the ground. Where she used to try and stop on her hind (correctly) she's increasingly relying on her front.

The hard thing is that there is no treatment and no cure for DSLD. She will go more and more lame and at some point I will have to euthanize her. I had thought we'd have years together. But now I wonder if I'm being fair to her at all. Her fetlocks are already flexing so badly that they pick up mud and dirt and while it will be months until I can ride again, I'm not sure I should ride her at all. I visited her and Ketah this weekend (over the fence!) and while Ketah treated me as I would expect (she's mad at me) Sati who is usually extremely friendly seemed somewhat grumpy.

I really have no choice now but to wait and see how she looks when I am able to do ground work again (months from now). But I think I may have to choose sooner than later and I don't much like the choice.

I wish I could sleep...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Ride Nearly Ended

There is nothing that I love more than to ride horses. I have half jokingly said for years that everything else I do is to support that passion. There are other interests in my life of course, and more than a few are risky. I have owned a motorcycle, driven in fast cars on mountain roads, jumped out of a plane. The biggest risk was getting involved with Ketah when I was too young and too inexperienced to know how to handle an abused, intelligent and somewhat crazy young mare. She nearly killed me more than once in the first few years. I learned to jump off her back at a dead run as the only sure method of stopping her, I learned to take a fall and not let go, and I learned to deal with 900 pounds of scared, strong animal in many dangerous situations.

She's 24 now and a sweet horse that everyone else now trusts to chaperon young horses on their first trail rides. I never saw that for her.

I also never saw the position I'm in now. I have wanted to fly in a small plane for years. I'm a risk-taker, though I try to manage them intelligently. I missed a chance with my best friend many years ago and have always regretted it. Three weeks ago I got another one, and I jumped at it. Statistics caught up with me though. I had always assumed the fall I would take where I would end up injured would be from a horse. I've had dozens of falls with a few concussions (I wear a helmet) and bruises. I've attributed my lack of injury to judo, knowing how to fall helped.

Well, this time I took a fall but not from a horse. I got into a little plane, nervous but not overly so. I could feel the pilot fighting the plane as we lifted off and I knew we weren't going to make it when we brushed the first tree. The second one dropped us like the proverbial rock. I don't know how far we fell, probably not more than 70 feet. But I do know we were lucky to live through it.

It will be months before my back heals. Months in which I can't even touch my horses. It will be months after that before I will get on them again too, and it will be with some fear I suspect. Though at least it won't be fear of them. I will have to learn all over again, how to fall. It's inevitable after all. Next time though, it will be from a horse.