It's been an interesting couple of weeks in the world of Team MP. I've been dreading this post, but now I have some really good news to report so it will be easier than I thought. I'll start with the bad news and work up to the good news.
Two weeks ago MP had a minor colic scare. It turns out it was ulcers so we are treating her for the next month and are very confident she'll be back to normal soon. At the same time she went lame. This horse has not taken a lame step since we got her last Jan, so this was very out of character. Because of the ulcers, we gave her the benefit of the doubt and figured she wasn't feeling well and needed a few days off. We were wrong.
After a lameness exam that suggested she had either pulled a check or suspendory ligament, I took her into UC Davis for an ultra sound. Low and behold she had a check ligament injury. So this means 3 months of walking only as well as icing, poulticing and careful management. She will fully recover and be ready for competition this summer, but Chicago is not possible for her.
This realization has been pretty devastating, and I've been trying to stay upbeat, but its hard when your partner that you know so well and love so much is not going to be your partner for one of the most important competitions in your career. To ease my guilt and depression I have been spending a lot of quiet time with her. I have taken to reading her books while I ice her, letting her "groom" me and play with my hair and we we have moved her up to the barn so she literally lives underneath us. I think she likes seeing us all the time too. Seeing her big brown eyes every morning gives me the most wonderful warm feeling to start my day.
With all of this going on with MP, we have had to concentrate on the rider side of this equation. Three months off would not be good for my riding skills and condition. Plus, if I do not show in Chicago, the WEG dream may be through. But as soon as I started to think my hopes and dreams were crushed (not to mention thinking I might just sell the horses, but an Aston Martin and travel for the next few months) a glimmer of hope sparked onto the scene.
My friend Eva - you know THE Eva from all the posts last year - is very pregnant and has gotten to the stage where riding is a bit difficult. We all know that she'll probably still ride anyway, but she really shouldn't be on a horse and I think her husband would agree. So she had asked me if I would help her keep her horse in shape while she takes it easy until after her little girl is born. But with no horse to ride with Ellen or show, she offered her horse Final first for my lessons last weekend with Ellen, then for the Rancho Murietta show this past weekend.
My first ride with Ellen on Final was shaky. OK, it wasn't just shaky it was a disaster. He wanted his mom, I wanted my Moneypenny and neither of us were on the same page. We worked through some of it, but we needed more time to see if we could communicate. Luckily his mom was standing nearby so as soon as he was done he could go running back to her arms! The second ride with Ellen was better. It was like we both had the night to digest reality and both came back ready to work with each other. He was very willing and I tried to be as respectful of his feelings as possible. Plus his mom was still there in case he needed saving.
After this second ride, we decided that he could fill in for MP at the upcoming Rancho Murietta show. This was on a Sunday, so we only had three more rides to get to know each other AND pull together a freestyle. Yeah, sure piece of cake.
Our rides through the week went great. Each ride getting a little better and easier. Each day both of us becoming more attune and more willing for the other. And his mom was very happy and proud of him. It was really fun to see his confidence change within the week, and nice to know that he was starting to trust me. Showing was going to be fun....
I'll do a separate post on the show that is only about the show because he was so fantastic he deserves his own post. We also have video and pictures. He was such a trooper and even though he was exhausted from the week of riding (he's been on paternity leave for a few months now) he tried and tried and tried and exceeded all of our expectations. We got the feeling he was pleased to fill in for MP and show everyone what he was made of. And he qualified himself for Chicago.
So now there may be a glimmer of hope for Chicago, but its not a light decision that Eva has to make. It is no small thing to send your horse half-way across the country even with a friend you trust. I would be honored to ride a horse like Final in Chicago, but not unless his mom was fully comfortable with him going that far. He's a special horse and Eva is a dear friend of mine and one of my strongest supporters. She will do what is best for her horse, as she should. If it doesn't work out for Final to go, I am now confident that I will get another opportunity to get my WEG qualifying scores even if that means going to Europe. I have learned from this experience: "Don't give up, just roll with what comes at you and stay focused. The rest will fall into place" No matter how pretty those Aston Martin are.