By Heather Erickson

Okay, I know it has been a while since my last installment, full of hope and ignorant bliss about how to get to the American Eventing Championships, being held in my home state of North Carolina at the new Tryon International Equestrian Center this year. But I have been really busy training and figuring it all out.

Together with my trainer Karen Mahaffey of Sandford NC, we made a plan that after last year’s maiden level, Abram, my 17-year-old quarter horse, needed to have Adequan and Legend medications. He became a new horse in “moving forward”. He loved cross country and stadium, performing and loving it.

In May, we moved from 2’3″ to 2’9″, of course gradually. Giving him his Adequan and Legend all under the close watchful eye of my veterinarian Dr. Tom Daniels of Southern Pine Equine Associates in Southern Pines NC. Abram was doing quite well, until we maxed out on jumping and he started to run out to the right of fences. A couple of times I fell off, which for me is really scary due to prior back and neck surgery. Needless to say, my confidence got shaken badly. All while my watchful and caring husband was left wondering if is this really all worth it.

Reevaluation by Dr. Daniels lead to the proposal to try hock injections to see if we can make him more comfortable. This in turn means stepping back on everything. Time for vet appointments, time off to rest, coming back slowly and the jumping lower levels to see if he stops evading. His left hock is more arthritic than his right. Me on the other hand, am trying to regain my confidence, which doesn’t happen overnight.

Heather 1Why do this? Because he loves what he does and so do I. In horse years, he’s about 51 and so am I. If you have ever practiced any sport, you know mild aches and pains are part of the job. You just carry on. For me, it’s Motrin and Tylenol, ice and heat. It the challenge that keeps us trying. Setting a goal and just going for it.

I wasn’t sure how the hock injections would go. Would the treatment help? Is it too much? Will my horse be unhappy? Will there be other problems like infection, pain, etc? Well, Abram was a champ. He got his injections and after some time off, we were able to go back to jumping without any problems. However, my confidence paid the price. I had to start working on everything from just cantering up and down hills. And on a bad left leg (leftover decreased feeling secondary to nerve damage from a ruptured disc in my back requiring surgery 2009), keeping my heel down and under me is always a conscious thought.

To prove to myself and to my trainer that I am ready for a recognized event, we went cross country jumping. Beginner novice in the sandhills after a good rain, not by choice it just happened that way….and we conquered that course!! Now, we are going on our first recognized out of state with all cards on the table. KICK ON!