the first week at the new barn has been amazing. why didn't we move sooner?
Sunday I came up to see Tyra and when I lifted a hoof to pick, I noticed a deep gash on her heel bulb. Alarms immediately rang in my head but over the years I have collected quite an extensive collection of first aid supplies. I knew I needed to soak the foot, especially considering it could be an abscess, but I had no epsom salt or drawing salve. I've never dealt with abscesses before, so my first aid collection wasn't prepared.
We'd barely been at the barn 24 hours and I knew nobody. I took Tyra and walked over to the barn across from me adequately named the "Block Barn," as it is made of cinderblock. It's a lot smaller than the arena barn but there are way more people, and although the horses don't have runs the community helps each other by turning everyone's horses out one at a time all day.
Two women, Linda and Susan, came up to me and asked me what I needed. I said my horse might have an abscess, but I've never dealt with one before so I didn't know what to do. Luckily, they rolled their eyes and said they have too much experience with abscesses, so I was in luck.
As they lifted Tyra's heel to take a peek they asked if she was lame at all, and I said no. She was walking fine and I just brought her in from turnout in the round pen. They said it didn't look like an abscess wound but an overreach cut. Still, they gave me some epsom salt for soaking, vetwrap and a small jar of antibacterial lotion prescribed to one of the ladies for a former incident. With our first aid kit expanded we were set, and I applied the medicine as instructed, just to make sure the cut did not get infected.
Our vet just happened to be scheduled the next day to visit another client, so I called her up and asked her to take a peek and Tyra's heel. She called me back that night and said it was indeed and overreach wound, and that she left me some prescription topicals with an applicator, and to wrap until it healed. She assured me it was nothing to worry about, and also commented on how good Tyra looked and said she was happy I was keeping her weight up. She'd seen her a month before and due to her extremely heavy work load Tyra was looking a bit on the thin side... Now that she's back to light trails and dressage schooling, the weight has piled back on.
On Tuesday we had our first lesson with the brand new trainer, a PSG rider and silver medalist. She isn't at the same level as the Gold medal FEI clinician I ride with but I asked her for a review of the woman, and the clinician said she comes highly recommended and has a lot of experience with thoroughbreds.
Allie is a very nice woman who runs her program with a strict schedule. I appreciate this, because my old trainer sort of had a fly-by-night schedule and we never really knew when she was riding. I got a detailed Google docs schedule of when I would have my lesson, when Tyra would be schooled, and when I needed to pay. No problem - I'd prefer an organized program as opposed to what we were dealing with before. Allie promised me a write-up of every training ride and a detailed training plan to help me reach my goal of Bronze medal.
As we rode, Allie watched with interest. For the first ten minutes she watched Tyra go around, and then abruptly interrupted. She asked what kind of training i'd had before and I told her my trainer really only cared about headset. She said she noticed Tyra was not straight on all four feet and asked me to help her weigh her weaker leg. As soon as I got her balanced I could feel the difference. She was more forward, relaxed, and i felt even pressure in my reins.
I explained that Tyra has one larger shoulder and Allie said she noticed, but that we were going to work on trying to fix that. She asked if Tyra was seeing a chiropractor and I said yes, once a month. Her heels are actually evening out now that she sees the chiro and bodyworker on a regular basis, and even the farrier has noticed a difference.
As I asked for the canter Tyra struggled on the right lead, which is her weaker side. Her right shoulder is her dominant one and she tends to lean heavy on that inside rein, getting very on the forehand and out of balance. But as we switched sides it completely changed. On the left lead Tyra rocked back on her hocks and cantered very uphill and very balanced. Allie said her canter looked great and was very impressed. The lesson ended and she told me we definitely could get our bronze medal, as Tyra had a lot of potential. Allie told me she will work on lead changes with her more in preparation for third level, even though we are only schooling first. She seemed happy with Tyra and said she was excited to work with her.
Yesterday my old riding buddy and very good friend from the valley came down to visit me and Tyra at our new home. She's never ridden Tyra and asked me if she could take her for a spin over fences. I said sure, even though she hasn't jumped in almost a month. Lately I have been just... not interested in jumping. Dressage is my newest obsession, but I know how much Tyra loves to jump. say cheese!
Interestingly, coming up to both low fences Tyra refused, not in a naughty way but slowly grinded to a stop so as not to unseat Kelly. The fences were multicolored, something she'd never seen before. Kelly tried again and I told her to really insist she jump, because will "talk" to you the whole way up to the jump, asking you if going over is what you want to do? You tell her "yes" with your leg and hand, and as soon as she gets the OK from her rider she will jump the fence. But if you fail to "talk back" to her, she will refuse because you did not give her a clear answer.
Some people find this little habit annoying, but I love it and that is why, for me, she is such a great horse. I want to ride something that communicates with you constantly, and Tyra definitely enjoys that aspect of equestrianism. As I ride her we have little conversations about all sorts of things, whether or not I want a bend, the lead I desire, and what gait we'll go to. Sometimes my ideas are not Tyra's ideas, and we talk about that, too, and make sure we both agree on what is going to happen next. I think it's wonderful, as I hated growing up and riding the deadheaded, overly obedient horses who never gave you any feedback.
But I have been riding dressage so long that my jump seat is not so great, and you can totally tell in the videos I am way out of practice. We kept the jumps small for me because I had no interest showing off. As kelly went over her 3' verticals, Tyra would land and hop (as she usually does) enthusiastically, which made me a bit nervous about how I would do.
But as my turn approached, instead of rushing at every jump and launching over it like she had with kelly, Tyra calmly "loped" over each vertical with grace and precision, and i barely felt the jump underneath me. There was no bucking, no head-shaking, no silly business, not when I was in the saddle. It made me feel good, because it reminded me that my horse does care about keeping me comfortable and confident. Jumping is a skill Tyra is very good at, and one I no longer have.
Even still, I love this horse so much because when push comes to shove she will always be there for me. My old barn painted this story about a scary, out-of-control, wild thoroughbred only THEY could help, but since moving to my new barn I just don't see it. Tyra has been nothing but well-behaved, sweet, calm, and dare i say it... happy!
we will always be best friends