Saturday, May 31, 2014

100,000 Piece Puzzle- -Dressage Horse!

Aye me. "The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity." -(Doug Horton)

I know I haven’t been keeping up with my blog, but there isn’t much to report. In fact there is pretty much nothing to report and there will be nothing to report. The past two months have been the equivalent of a long episode of House.

After getting his hocks done, Bastian’s back went wonky. I believe it was due to him getting his back out of whack chiropractic-ly. So I started with getting his saddle fitted, it had been over a year since I had the saddle and flocking checked. There was definitely some improvement and my saddle was due for a re-flocking. I also got him a jumping saddle, a lovely Hastilow Concept Reflex Jumping saddle……a work of art.

Look at that beauty! Its got a Bio-kinetic simatree, an adjustable gullet and moveable thigh blocks. Its amazingly comfortable and I look forward to jumping many tiny fences with You'll have to pardon my black dressage leathers on was the only extra pair I have at the time.

A week or so after getting the saddle adjusted I had the chiropractor out and put a gazillion ribs back into place and made some other adjustments. Bastian was very happy while was working, he kept giving little sighs and licking and chewing. After that he felt better, but he still wasn’t 100%.

Step Three was the Vet. Dr. Hill from Cleveland Equine did a fantastic job evaluating him. I had xrays done to make sure there wasn’t anything more sinister going on in his back and they came back lovely, his vertebrae were perfect. (I know, I’m biased!) If I can figure out how to get the images off of the CD I have, I’ll post pictures of those beautiful bones. I had his back injected and he had four days off.

When I rode him next he felt great, forward, willing to use his back and lift and super responsive to my half halts. Hooray, problem solved right? One would think so and had I not been dumb we might be both be happier now. Well at least I would be, he’s actually been pretty happy. I would have not had the two weeks of worry and depression trying to figure out what else I could possibly do for him and if maybe he just wasn’t cut out for doing dressage. Believe me, if it was a possibility I explored it.

So I’m sure you are all wondering how I could possibly be dumb, right? (that’s sarcasm by the way….) I was checking for back soreness in the wrong way. I learned this because we had a follow-up appointment with the vet yesterday and when she checked for back soreness, there was of course, none. So she asked me how I was checking, I showed her and she very kindly explained that I was doing it wrong. In my defense, I was doing what I have seen everyone else do to check for back soreness. So the lesson here is just because everyone else does it, it doesn’t make it right! Lesson learned.

Bastian has been much happier since getting his back injected. He’s letting me catch him in the pasture again, he is generally just happier when I’m brushing him and wow is he starting to look great on the lunge. That’s all we’ve been doing for the past few weeks aside from the two times that I rode him. I’m anxious to get back to riding though and to break in my jumping saddle over some actual jumps…

In other news, our show season for this summer is pretty much null and void. All the money I had managed to put away to pay show fees this summer was spent on the vet and chiropractor. So I’m hoping to maybe go to the WPDA Summer Sizzler in August, but I’m not holding my breath. I figure time-wise it’s enough to get him to where he physically needs to be in order to compete at 2nd Level. Although this makes me really sad because I love to compete, I’ve made my peace with it.

Through all of this I have to give a huge shout out to the saddle fitters at Hastilow Competition Saddlery. They have been in constant communication with me throughout this whole process. I would send messages about Bastian’s progress or lack thereof and passed along the vet reports and chiropractor reports and we would discuss possibilities and ideas to try and get him back to 100%. That is customer service at its best. I couldn’t be happier with my pair of Hastilow saddles and how much better Bastian moves because of the ability to completely customize the fit. It’s given me great peace of mind to know that I can rely on their skills and professionalism. My horse is not an easy fit and they have worked relentlessly to make sure that he is happy and moving the best he can. If you haven’t contacted them about either a new saddle or getting your current saddle reflocked and checked for fit do it now! Your horse will thank you!!! Not to mention they have huge inventory of used saddles as well and deal with several different brands-not just Hastilow. Their goal is always to provide a proper fit to the horse to make them comfortable and happy in their work.

And I’m going to also suggest that you check out their inventory of Nueu Schule bits-I haven’t had the chance to try out my new bits for my double, but he loves his Tranz Training bit and has become softer and more responsive in the mouth. Seriously they put the Herm Sprengers to shame (in my oh so humble opinion).

These past three months have absolutely driven home the notion that riding is a comprises of many pieces and only when you have them fit together and working smoothly will it work. I count myself lucky that each of the professionals that I have aiding me in figuring out the puzzle that is Bastian are all fabulous. Each one has offered suggestions and when I passed that information on to the others, they took that information and used it to figure out the best way to help Bastian out. This type of holistic approach can be tricky, especially in the horse world. A lot of equine professionals have egos and are quick to blame other professionals. I feel lucky that I have some of the best professionals out there to consult with and that they are putting Bastian's happiness and my peace of mind first. Thank you!!!!

Until next time, enjoy the weather and make sure you get a good roll in when you need it!

P.S. Congrats to Emily and Pursuing A Dream on their very successful first horse show together-a sure sign of great things to come from these two!


  1. What did your vet say are the wrong and right ways to check for back pain?

    1. I was using one hand and poking him with my index finger and thumb, which was the wrong way. The right way is to use two hands, pressing with all your fingers on both sides of the back. Who knew??