oh no! I might lose Blackjack!

snailspace

Learning @ a snail's pace
Jan 9, 2002
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My instructor has informed me that they are seriously considering retiring Blackjack (my beloved schoolhorse) from jumping. Which means I would have to switch horses to continue my lessons:(

We started having problems with him not wanting to take the jumps a while ago. He'd just act really sluggish, like he just couldn't lift himself off the ground. That's totally not like him, because jumping is the one thing he LOVES, he's never been lazy about it. Ususally he's lazy through the dressage, and then as soon as you point him towards a jump, he suddenly has this boundless energy:rolleyes:

So, anyway, the first time he acted sluggish, I thought he was sore, because I had ridden him two days in a row, which he is not used to (I was sore too!) Then, when it happened at my next lesson, I thought maybe it was because he had thrown a front shoe earlier in the week and, while he wasn't lame, I thought maybe his foot was tender enough that he wasn't willing to land on it.

My instructor didn't think that was the problem, so we kept taking away poles (they were slowing him down even more) and finally she took all the poles away and changed the single jump into a small vertical that was just high enough that he couldn't step over it (he had not been refusing up to this point, just slowing way down and doing a little trot-hop over instead of really jumping it). So I circled again and got as much impulsion as I could (which wasn't a lot), and he refused the jump:( We all just looked at each other in total amazement because Blackjack NEVER refuses, and my heart sank. I knew then that something was wrong.

We cut that lesson short and took his temperature because some of the other horses had been sick, and sure enough it was high. So they gave him a few days of R & R and when he was better he still refused to jump, so they actually called my former instructor in Nevada (she knows him better than anyone) and they decided that he's probably just getting too old to jump. His legs are just starting to wear out.

They're going to bring in the chiropractor/vet to make sure it's not his back, but I don't think it is. When his back's out, it's his dressage that suffers, and he's reluctant to pick up a right lead. Well, he's been picking up right lead every time I ask without a problem, and he's actually been really good with dressage lately, so I don't think his back is bothering him.

I'm sorry this is so long. I thought maybe some of you experienced horse people out there might have some other ideas about what might be wrong. He's only 20, and I would have thought that if it was old age, it would have been more gradual. This was kind of sudden. We've noticed that he has been tripping more, even while just walking, and over the summer he just went lame in the middle of the lesson once. The next day he was fine. When I took him back out after riding yesterday, I noticed that he was overreaching on his right and hitting his front foot with practically every step, but I don't think he was doing it while I was riding.

Aren't these some of the signs of navicular? I feel so bad for him. He truly loves to jump, and I hate to think that he won't be able to. Plus, he's finally starting to bond with me, and I've been told that I ride him well and that he responds well to me, and now it looks like I'm going to have to start all over again on a different horse:(

I have a lesson today, but we aren't going to jump. They need to bring my "new" horse up from the winter pasture and get some of the "wild winter horse" out of him before I can jump again. I could continue to ride Blackjack if I just wanted to do dressage, but I love to jump as much as he does, and I really want to continue. Sigh. I had expected to ride Blackjack until I could get my own horse.

Thanks for listening to my looong and depressing thread. I'll leave on a happy note witha cute picture of Blackjack. He's gotten so gray in the last year that he actually has a "star" on his forehead! This is his "what, you came to the field without treats!?" look:)
 

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Tootsie4U

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Aug 19, 2002
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Im sorry to hear that you're retiring an old friend, but at least you're not loosing an old friend. Thank your stars for closure as many times you dont get it!!

Live happy and free many more years BLACKJACK!!
 

galadriel

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Feb 27, 2002
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Could you maybe split your lessons; do one dressage, one jumping, and ride Blackjack for dressage? Or see if you can come exercise him lightly for a small fee? It's so sad to lose a friend.
 

Gracie

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Jan 27, 2001
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Aww that is sad! But if hes been a good hardworker, it will definitly do him pleasure to have some days to relax and enjoy his life! That is an excellent picture, he looks like a horse that everyone would fall in love with!
 

snailspace

Learning @ a snail's pace
Jan 9, 2002
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Well, good and bad news. His back is fine - we had the most wonderful dressage lesson on Thursday, and bending and right lead were no problem for him, and he had lots of energy. So I guess I just have to accept that he's getting old and shouldn't jump anymore. Sigh. That's the bad news (well, it's GOOD that his back isnt bothering him, but. . .you know what I mean).

The good news is that I'll still be able to come and exercise him, and work on dressage stuff. I was afraid they were going to have to move him to the winter quarters (there's only room for a certain number of horses in the winter where the arena is), which would have meant I couldn't ride him at all because he would be inaccessible, basically. But they found room for him AND my new school horse at the riding arena, so I don't have to totally give up Blackjack! I'll just be riding a different horse for lessons. It will be a good experience, really, to ride more than one horse. I'll just have to remember to bring double the treats when I come for lessons!

Thanks for the support. I was just panicked there for awhile that they would take him away and I would never see him again! I've already asked my instructor to make sure I know when he has to be retired completely (hopefully not for a long time). I'm hoping I'll be able to "adopt" him and give him a good retirement home by then.