In all her pigeon-toed, sun-bleached glory
“Don’t worry, you’re not alone,” I consoled my trainer a few weeks ago.

During a training ride, Mae had acted lame, which she had never done with Trainer before.  Luckily, our vet happened to be at the barn, and she called him to the arena to diagnose.  He thought that Mae might have a bone chip, which I thought was absurd but crazier things have happened.  Remember in December when we did her pre-purchase and ordered over 20 x-rays?  No bone issues seen then.  A bone chip would have had to happen in the last 6 months.  Admittedly, my heart did stop a little when I got that text at work.  In any case, he took two x-rays of her feet and surprise surprise:

NO BONE CHIP.

Clean!
It seems fitting that she’s fooled all of us now.  Our vet did ask the question “So Ruth’s had to have spent more on this horse’s care than the purchase price, right?”  To which trainer responded “Many times over.”  It feels like this year I’m single-horsedly keeping my vet in business, which isn’t the best feeling.

The x-rays did show that her hoof is growing so rapidly that it’s setting her foot off at the wrong angle.  We’re going to ask the farrier to put pads in her front feet to help them angle correctly as they grow.  She also pulled a back shoe last weekend - sigh, those crumbly thoroughbred hooves - but it hasn’t seemed to bother her at all.  The farrier’s coming on Monday to put it back on but I’m hopeful that means someday she’ll be able to go without her back shoes.

Funkiest foot ever, it looks like it's melting

Her other completely different front foot that needs an angle adjustment
The silver lining to all of this drama is that during August, after our dramatic lesson a few weeks ago, Mae has been perfect for me.  Zero fakery, backs up like a dream, no spooking, and no other bullshittery.  I still have to ask several times for contact in the bridle, she’s still hyper on her first canter around the arena, but otherwise she’s a much less dramatic ride.

Also, this week we had another jump lesson - yay!  Trainer set up two jumps in a three-stride line.  First, we trotted in the first jump and then waited to see how she would take the second one.  Slow and steady was the name of the game.  The first few times, she was lazy, didn’t pick up her feet, and knocked rails on the entire line.  We let her knock them, and trainer suggested that I not put boots on her next time so she learns that it hurts when she knocks a rail and she needs to pick up her feet.  When she was trotting in calmly and steadily to the first jump, we began cantering her to the line.  Again, slow and steady except that after the first jump, everything would fall apart.  She tried to wiggle out of the second jump and then she flat out ran at it.  After a few times, I finally got it right by closing both my legs and holding the reins evenly and firmly against her neck.  There was less wiggle and she bopped over both jumps with less drama.  I’ve been two-pointing her at the canter to the fences, but I need to learn to sit BACK at the fences and not jump ahead of the horse.  We kept the fences pretty low - around 2 feet tall.  Height is 100% not a problem for her, and she is so soft on the backside of the fence.  We still plan to free jump her through a jump chute so she can figure out how to lift her legs / knees.  One of the things I’m very happy with is her flat work to the jumps.  Her canter is adjustable and a 180 degree difference to the bouncy, choppy, very excited canter Ryon had to the fences.  She also has a typical long Thoroughbred stride and the three-stride line was no problem for us, which for Ryon would have been a four-stride.

On the ground, I’ve been working on having her move laterally away from pressure.  She’s starting to be more and more responsive at it, but I have to keep up the practice with her.  Her dark bay coat has become lightened in the Texas sun, but she’s gotten TONS of compliments on how she looks.  Since she was a rack of bones this spring, it’s not really that difficult to spot the improvement, but I can see the muscles in her topline growing.

Remember a few months ago when I darkened my saddle?  A few weeks ago, Mae and I were caught in a rainstorm while hacking in the outdoor arena.  Instead of heading indoors, we kept it up while it started pouring outside.  Thoroughbreds are impressively any-weather horses.  She shook raindrops out of her face when they were too much but otherwise she stuck with it.  However a sad side effect is that my saddle is now splotchy and discoloured from the rain.  I’m using hydrophane to try and even it out.  Anyone have any tips out there or is it time for a new saddle??

I’ve also been listing Ryon on Dreamhorse and Craigslist with little success.  There have been a few nibbles but nothing concrete has come through.  I know my boy is happy and healthy out in pasture, but I still need to get him working again so he doesn’t lose all of his muscle tone.

September KISS goals:

MOAR lessoning

Jump chute lesson

Fix her hoof angles