Tuesday, May 3, 2016

ANGSTY

So I've been avoiding the internet because I didn't want to write what I'm about to write, which is a whiney, drivelly, angsty, really cringe-worthy read.

I'm writing it anyway.

I'm angsty cause I haven't had a good ride on Tucker since... oh... sometime in March.  He was difficult at the beginning of April.  He was borderline unrideable by mid-April.  And for the past two weeks he's been on the "nice horsie" plan.  Which means I haven't picked up my reins, worn spurs, asked him to do anything requiring any kind of effort, or set a goal other than "relax and stretch" for the last 8 rides.  I have counted them, because after the first ride (which was kind of a nice change of pace) things became excruciating for me.  

Pictured:  All of my discretionary funds 
I'm just going to say this, and it's totally fair to judge me for it.  He's making me bananas.  For some reason, his first symptom of ulcers is that he gets irrationally spooky (I've blogged about this before).  And not the usual "Tucker heard a noise and assumed the end was nigh" and then came to his senses. He does these little spooks where his whole body twitches for a second and it's just enough to make you think he might actually spin out from underneath you, over, and over, and OVER.  It's hard to "just ignore it" when he pulls a 180 spin-and-bolt over a butterfly (*based on actual events, thing came outta NOWHERE*) or alternatively spooks at nothing, steps sideways, crosses his front legs, trips himself, falls on his face, and then panics that he's going to be beaten for it while I struggle to get back in the middle of the saddle.

I haven't actually beaten him of course, because (a) that wouldn't help anything and (b) I think this behavior is ulcer-related.  I think.  I'm telling myself right now that I've seen all this behavior before and every time I've thought he was having a midlife crisis and then treated his stomach and it went away.  But last Thursday when I got there and he was spinning in his stall over a tractor outside, while all the other horses happily munched their hay because the tractor is bringing more food and is not to be feared...  I just couldn't bring myself to ride him.  I gave him his meds, tried to pet him for a minute, and when the spinning resumed I gave up and went home and poured myself some wine.  (It was a rough week.)

It's a good thing he's cute.
I'm hoping this week he'll feel more like a horse I want to ride, and less like a horse I want to give away to a good home.  Because all of this unwanted Tucker behavior has led to the following mental rollercoaster on repeat in my head, which may or may not be driving me to actual insanity:

1.  What if it's not ulcers?  What if there's something else wrong?  Or what if this is just the way he is now?  What if he's just finally lost his marbles?

2.  What if it is ulcers, but the ulcers were caused by stress due to pain somewhere and he's actually totally broken and crumbling before your eyes?  How will you pay for THAT?

3.   Maybe we should do another year at First level.  Now that you're behind a month you aren't going to be ready to move up by mid-summer.  But he's turning FOURTEEN in a few days.  You don't have an infinite amount of years with him.  Wow, he's getting old.  [Repeat Nos. 1-2.]

4.  What's the point of showing if you aren't moving up?  Isn't it kind of pointless to do the same thing every year?  

5.  But when you did the hunters you didn't move up every year.  Dressage has just given you a false sense of inferiority because it has levels instead of divisions.

6.  Maybe dressage is too hard.  Maybe you're asking too much of him and you don't know how to ask well enough and you're stressing him out.  And THEN what sport are you going to move on to?

7.  You're just over-analyzing.  You'll treat his stomach and then start showing as planned and everything will be fine.  Stop worrying so much.  Let's look at the show schedule.

8.  How exactly are you planning to finance these shows?  We selling a kidney?  [Repeat No. 2.]

9.  Maybe instead of shows you should put that money toward more lessons, so you could actually move up next year and feel like you've accomplished something.  [Repeat No. 5.]  And possibly ride better and stop stressing him out.  [Repeat No. 6.]

10. You should do a blog post about this. People will relate.  Or maybe don't.  You're going to sound like you're whining about things that aren't really problems.  You should wait until you have something more positive to write about.  Oh god it's been over a week you're going to have no readers left.


If you came here in search of the above, I'm happy to have provided a narrative of same.  Also on an unrelated note I would really like a giant chocolate chip cookie.  But I'm legit gonna freak out if it won't fit in the glass.

19 comments:

  1. I hope it's all just tummy related! And don't worry about his age. Mikey was 15 I believe when we moved up successfully to second level. (he was 14 when we attempted and failed to get a 60%+). Mikey's limiting factor ended up being his hock injury- he wasn't going to be going beyond 3rd. I totally get the "let's just move up already! there's no point in showing otherwise!" because that's me in a nutshell. It will all work out!

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  2. Oh Girl have I been there. (But I'm not nearly as proficient at listing out the clear thoughts, so thank you for that :) )Treating the stomach is always a good (though expensive) idea. Den if that's not 100% of the issue, it sure sounds like from your past experience it's got to be a big part.

    I hope you saved enough pennies to buy yourself some decent wine for the process!

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  3. The mare I leased briefly between Oak and Bodhi was crazy spooky until I treated her for ulcers, so Tucker is not the only one. Hopefully he calms down soon and you can focus on #7 on your list :)Also I don't think Tucker is old. He is just coming into his own as far as dressage horses go! :)

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  4. I'm sure he's going to feel loads better after all the meds are all done. My next suggestion is going to sound strange since you have a spinning creature, but have you jumped him lately? Simon hates flatwork, but a few jumps on a loose rein canter make him just the happiest guy. I'm not saying Tucker hates flatwork, but maybe he needs a change of pace for a ride or two.

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    1. Good suggestion! He hasn't jumped since last summer, so I didn't want to fry his little brain, but I'm going to try working in some "hunter rides" (possibly with baby jumps) once treatment is farther underway.

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  5. Taran and Tucker will both be 14 this year, and we're still at first level too. Don't panic. ;) And take some ulcer meds for yourself too, ok? In the form of wine. Lots of wine.

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  6. I hope the ulcer meds resolve all of Tucker's issues. I think Lauren's suggestion was a good one too! Also, I love your inner monologue post - I think we all go there. I'm always up for a good angsty post. That's why I like to read blogs - share the good times and the bad.

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  7. Hampton and I went through this EXACT same ordeal last year. I mean he was so unrideable that I didn't even want to look at him some days. I will be totally honest with you, I treated him with ulcerguard AND put him on depo for the rest of the summer. The behavior went away 100%. I also think he was feeding off MY stress and anxiety at the time. Could Tucker be mirroring you to some degree?

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    1. Absolutely. I've been under a lot of stress with family issues so that could definitely be part of it. That situation is improving so I'm hoping he won't have as much stressed out energy to feed off of from me.

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    2. I haven't treated C for ulcers (tho I discuss it seriously about every 2-3 days), but I've definitely noticed that my stress level feeds into his. That said. I've been very deliberate about keeping my stress away from the barn this time around and come to find out, horses have bad days/weeks/months, just like us.

      That said. You know Tucker and what's normal for him. Trust yourself on this one.

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  8. My current life problems but I know he doesn't have ulcers

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  9. I can definitely relate. Both of my horses have had ulcer issues in the past. In February I did a full course of abgard on Annie and I really do feel like it worked. I did 28 days of full tubes. She still gets abgard when we travel and that seems to help her.

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    1. That's what I'm doing, 28 days of full tubes. I've been giving him 1/3 tube every time I ship and 1/3 again the day after too. I did some funny math and decided on 1/3 but I can't remember why exactly.

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  10. This is how my brain works 100% of the time, no matter the topic. It's nice to know there's someone else who struggles with this too! I just can't seem to shut my damn brain off. Any attempts at meditation are spent telling myself to "stop thinking, God damnit"!

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  11. Ummm yep. Only for my Tucker it was NQRness not ulcers. But I basically go through the same thought process. Don't be afraid to post positive or negative. It's the real you. We'll be here to read and support!

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  12. Ugh I definitely relate. I also added aloe and alfalfa to my mares diet. Jury is out on whether it makes a difference but it makes me feel better by making me feel like I'm doing something to help. So there's that haha. Anyway good luck!!

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    1. I tried papaya and aloe too but I didn't notice a difference. He does get soaked alfalfa every day though, that definitely seems to help.

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  13. Ah, the world of worriers and overthinkers is like home to me. Sucks, isn't fun, but at least I know what to do there!

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  14. Great post and I can so relate. My horse would have apocalyptic spooks often followed by a spin and buck/run. He also got the shakes and I spent months wondering what else was wrong-shivers etc? I finally ended up in the hospital after a huge explosion. Was thrown out of the barn and told my horse was "dangerous" and would kill me someday. He also had tested positive for hind gut ulcers via the Succeed test. I was getting ready to put him an a dose of sucralfate (spelling?) that I had been told was the only thing that worked for hindgut ulcers. The barn that threw us out actually had been telling me it was a waste of money etc so I had delayed treatment. Always listen to your instincts. Anyways after finding a "mental rehab barn" that would take an OTTB with a bad rep, I did the treatment over three weeks at a cost of about $800.00 dollars. HUGE change in my guy. This was followed by slippery elm and aloe vera mixture daily to keep the stomach coated. His anxious levels went down, his personality leveled. I think its important to note that I was more than dismayed during this time at HOW LITTLE most horse owners know about ulcers. Everyone assumes that foregut and hind gut can treated with the same meds, but not true. All those ulcers med on he market only treat stomach ulcers. If your horse has hindgut, you have to go off label to treat the hind.... Even with my horses improved behavior, there were still occasional spooks and I felt something was still off. After literally world wide web research I discovered that certain horses get highly agitated on MSM! Wow, that was in my horses vitamins and joint supplement! According to horse forums, about 2 horses in every barn have almost psychotic reactions to MSM. You know, seeing ghosts everywhere and so forth. And the key ingredient is sulfur. Sooo.... Did more research and found that spring grass, clover and some other joint supplements also have sulfur in them. I NEVER knew clover could be had for a horse, I always thought it was a treat.... In the olden days this was common knowledge. Anyhoo, after taking MSM and all sulfer products out, it was maybe a week or so and I had a changed horse. Literally a new horse. A horse I had never met before. Yet he had the same DNA as when I bought him. This MSM is in so many products now, I have to wonder how many horses are suffering because of it. My trainer who initially was skeptical, took his horse off it as he had become cray over the last year after being on MSM and he was a changed horse after no MSM.

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