Amateurs Like Us: Some Surprise Lead Changes And Challenges

Feb 22, 2017 - 2:40 PM

I’m laying here in my bed at work trying to sleep, but I’m overcome with pure excitement over the past couple of weeks. I’ve had a successful show, a trip to Boston for my husband’s birthday, a not-so-successful show that resulted in a stay at the vet clinic and the Bernie Traurig clinic.

I got a wild hair and decided to venture down to the Virginia Horse Center for their USHJA Outreach program at the A-rated Stonewall Country I Show. So that Thursday around 5 a.m., my husband, Sean, my dog, Mikey, Finn and I left for Lexington, Va. Sean drove, so I could prepare for the long day ahead. I remember I frantically debated on what I would do if I didn’t get there in time to get Finn in the ring.

I made a last-minute decision to change the 2’6″ schooling division to the 2’3″ schooling division just in case. We literally made it with 10 minutes left to get in the ring. I rushed getting tacked up and headed to the indoor. Finn was a little perked up, but that went away with a quick trot around the ring.


I’m still working on lead changes with Finn and have not made a huge deal out of them. So of course he landed on all his leads in the warm-up trip—go figure! Our first hunter trip I remember landing off our first line and thinking, “what the heck?” and asked for a change and I’m pretty sure I said, “oh…..” (I’m sure you can figure out that second word) when he gave it to me and kept going!

We ended up doing all our changes in that division to finish with thirds across the board. We ended up reserve champion in the USHJA Outreach 2’6″ division and winning the hack! It was a long day, but totally worth it when we got home around 8 p.m.

Our trip to Boston was very impromptu, but felt I owed it to my husband for putting up with all my horse-related shenanigans! Sean and I generally don’t get time off at the same time let alone an entire weekend, so we took advantage of it.


So continuing with my theme of, “life happens,” I woke up sick the morning we left for the airport. We enjoyed a trip to the Sam Adams Brewery and our favorite, Doyle’s Cafe. Sean even got to meet and get a picture with Jim Koch, the creator of Sam Adams! I’m sure I scored some major brownie points for catching him to get the picture.

Friday took a toll on me, but I didn’t let it stop me. We found an urgent care first thing that following morning before setting back out on the streets. So after another day at the Sam Adams Brewery, Doyle’s Café, looking at firehouses and eating amazing food, we took an UBER to SmartPakEquine’s store.

The store has a discount attic/clearance attic that is probably the equivalent to what I envision as Christmas morning for my horse-crazed almost-32-year-old inner child! Of course I found some goodies, a new Rambo Wug sheet and a new show coat. I am a bargain shopper and just as luck would have it, I was able to score those items at 50 percent and 90 percent off. We had to take a double-take to make sure we had that correct!

So while in Boston, I got another wild hair and entered the Stonewall Country II Show in Lexington, Va. I ended up working a 48-hour shift and then left for the show with the family and Finn.

We got there in plenty of time, but something wasn’t right. Finn was irritated; he kicked out at another horse and pinned his ears. He started to flip his head up and down and I just knew something was bothering him.

I waved to Sean as we left the warm-up ring. We stripped his tack off and he started to paw. I immediately called the on-call vet for the show.

Meanwhile, we went for a drive around waiting on the vet. Sure enough, the trailer trick worked and he passed some gas and manure. The vet gave us the all clear to head home and told us to check in with our vet on the way home.

I wasn’t happy with how he was looking, so we headed to clinic. We had a suspicion that his ulcers might be acting up. I took Finn home for the night and turned him back out.


The next morning, Finn started to act the same way, so we loaded up and went straight to the clinic. Of course, he was better by the time we got there.

We made the decision to keep him there and scope him in the morning. We were relieved to see Finn’s stomach was extremely healthy, but had a couple of spots that might be giving him a problem. Back in 2015, Finn had a colic episode that was severe enough to land him in Morven Park Equine Medical Center for about four days. He also had grade IV ulcers that were determined to be the cause.

So it was a HUGE relief to see hardly anything on the scope! I keep Finn on a very low grain diet, so we just made some very minor changes and also added some Ulcergard to the mix for when we trailer or show to add some support.

Our vet told us to keep doing what we are doing and not to change a thing. I asked about our trip to Southern Pines, N.C., and was told I’d better not cancel and to go. I had already lined up a back-up, Henry, the horse who got me riding again through my old trainer, K.C. Meadows.

It was a weight off my shoulders to know that Finn was OK and that we could also still go—after all, I’d been planning this trip since early December!

I debated on sharing the adventures of the Bernie Traurig clinic, but I honestly think it deserves its own write-up—that will come soon! It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.

I will be taking this month off from showing since we traveled 15 hours for the clinic, my work schedule is all over the place and I’m still trying to play catch up from the past couple of weeks.

Elizabeth Grubbs fits riding her off-the-track Thoroughbred hunter, Finn, around her full-time job as a firefighter/paramedic and two part-time jobs. She also juggles that with her life as a wife and stepmother to three girls. You can read more about her in the Amateurs Like Us profile “Elizabeth Grubbs’ Bumpy Road Led To The Right Place.

Read all of Elizabeth’s blogs.


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