Finola - The Legend Goes On
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   9th Oct 2010   •   7,372 views   •   4 comments
I'm sure many of you remember my first article on Ponybox From square one - The full story of Finola. This article is a long overdue follow-up, and I hope that it can be an inspiration to those of you who, like me, met the demise of your competitive careers through an equine injury or illness.

You see, up until the end of 2008, my beloved Finola was, quite frankly, the most amazing competition horse anybody could ask for. She was brave, she was fast, she could jump and best of all: She loved every minute of it. She wasn't big, shiny and well bred. She wasn't an expensive horse with top breeding, but she was Finola, and she was just a little crazy and very, very special. As you will see from the above article, our first couple of years in competition were highly successful ones, but that all came to a close when Finola was injured. Since then, the owner of Finola's livery / Finola's guardian angel slaved endlessly to help us to fix this magnificent mare. I can never express just how grateful I am to her, and my instructor who worked with her, for all they have done for Finola, and for my riding.

It was a long and bumpy road. We would get Finola sound, solve one problem, and another problem would crop up.

We kept finding and solving, finding and solving, and during this time we leaped from desperate hope, to joyous relief, to complete despair and then back to hope again more times than you can imagine. It is this struggle that I shall describe to you now.

Finola jumping 1,20m.
Finola jumping 1,20m.

At the end of my previous article, we had gradually built Finola up until she was once again ready to compete at 1,10m. We went to that 1,10m show, as scheduled, and Finola won one of her classes, as expected. Thus, it was with high hopes that we set out to our next show. That show, also at 1,10m, Finola won again. However, after this, we suffered another minor setback. A few short weeks later, we had her back up to standard - even better than before - and, after taking her to a great training show, we decided that we were nearly ready to go up to 1,20m, yet we decided to enter one last show in 1,10m anyway. Well, before this last 1,10m show, the box towing Finola had a puncture and turned up late. This simply meant that I had to enter the 1,20m class instead of the 1,10m, or scratch. We decided that Finola was ready, so we went for the 1,20m! She was amazing, and though we had a few small mistakes, I was very pleased with the end result. For full details, please view my article 29 May 2010 Showjumping Competition.

1,20m Competition

The next week saw us in our next 1,20m competition. Finola performed equally well here, and though she was a tad crazy, she still jumped very well, and ended up with just 1 pole down in each class. The full story can be viewed at 5 June Showjumping Competition. After this, Finola was given a couple of weeks off. She returned to compete in 1,20m towards the end of June, and once again she performed spectacularly, yet still the clear rounds evaded us, and we somehow just could not find the same synchronization we'd had in 1,20m 2 years before. After that show, Finola was rested for a few weeks whilst I was eventing with Bronze, Badger and Choc. When we were ready to get going again, it was late July. This time, Finola was at her prime. She came back with a bang, and not only did she complete a successful 1,20m course, but we also attempted our first 1,25m competition and managed to place 3rd with a brilliant, speedy clear round! The next week we entered 1,25m again, this time in both classes, but it did not go as well as I had hoped. Finola just wasn't jumping like the horse I knew, and we had a few poles. Thus, we decided that it was time to give her a short rest again. When I rode Finola after those 2 weeks of rest, I felt that there was something a little off in her stride. When my instructor tested the flexion in her joints, Finola trotted out with a pronounced limp.

Finola in her first 1,25m class
Finola in her first 1,25m class

Once again we called the vet in, and his first suspicion was that Finola had navicular, which, although manageable, would surely mean that Finola's jumping career would soon be over. Thankfully, when the x-rays were taken, this theory was proven false. The vet was actually surprised by how healthy Finola's bones were for a horse that did so much racing. But healthy bones aside, Finola was still lame. After that, she was diagnosed with degenerative joint disease. In layman's terms, this means that she has less fluid in her joints than she should, which obviously causes pain when the bones grind together. As such, the vet advised us to inject Finola with 'Legend', an injectable solution used for treating joint dysfunction in horses. This is what we did, and when I next rode Finola after the legend I could hardly believe she was the same horse! She jumped brilliantly, she felt great, and she was one very happy horse! Finally, Finola was ready to compete again.

Finola jumping 1,20m
Finola jumping 1,20m – Photo courtesy of Horses Are Art.
Photo credit

On 18 September 2010, we entered Finola in a 1,20m competition, which she had assured us in no uncertain terms that she was more than ready to participate in. From the second I got on her, I knew that I was dealing with the Finola I remembered from the 'glory days'. She was sideways, she was stubborn, she ignored all my suggestions that, as a 1,20m jumper, she should really work in a frame, and she jumped like a frenzied cricket. She was fly leaping, dropping strides, going sideways, yet jumping better than ever before. Things were exactly as they should have been, and finally our partnership was back in synch. We proved this by going in for our first round and coming out with an exquisite clear - complete with sideways jumping and one exuberant buck (which she simply HAD to do on approach to a jump, making it very difficult to correct her in time to actually get over...). As such, we finally found ourselves where we belonged: In a jump off!

Fanta Everywhere

After popping her over a couple of jumps to get my eye in, I rode Finola in for her jump off. She went brilliantly! Crazy, but amazing. The end result was a speedy clear which landed us in 2nd place out of a class of over 20 entries. Amazing as this result was, nothing could have convinced me that my Finola horse was back to being herself more than what happened next. After going in to the ring to collect my prize, I came out and rode over to my mother, who offered me a drink of Fanta. I took the can, planning to have a quick drink before walking Finola, but Finola had other ideas. When I started drinking, she started trotting. I was then faced with the predicament of trying to juggle an open can of Fanta in one hand and the reins of a bolting horse in the other. I had no means of shortening my reins, since I was trying to keep the Fanta from tipping, but Finola ignored all my pleas for her to slow, and went on to cart me off into the warm up arena - no doubt keen to get some more jumping underway. When it became clear that she had absolutely no intention to stop while I didn't have a firm grip on my reins, I ended up grabbing for the reins with my other hand. I'm sure you can guess what happened then.

The can tipped, and there was Fanta everywhere.

I managed to get Finola to stop, and straightened the can again in a couple of seconds, but by that time I had only half a Fanta, a very sticky horse, and a sticky saddle. Finola could not have been more proud of herself, and pranced around like an eager idiot showing off her 'Fanta-stic' new perfume. Rather embarrassed, I handed the cooldrink back to my mother, then began walking my crazy horse, which did not go too well, since she had no interest in doing anything that involved 'walking'. As such, she jigged and jogged and tugged with every step. Each time another horse cantered past her, she would attempt to follow it. Every time we walked past a jump, she would attempt to bolt toward it. Eventually I decided that Finola was as cool as she was going to get, and I got off and lead her back over to the arena to hold her in the shade while I waited for my next class.

1,25m Competition

Since Finola was going so well, we decided to enter 1,25m for the next class. Once again, my super little mare jumped a lovely round, and got herself into a jump off. Finally, my first 1,25m jump off! Let me tell you, I was extremely excited to try the higher jumps, and it seemed that Finola was as well, since she simply refused to stand still while waiting for the jump off. Finally the time came. Of the 20+ horses in the class, only 6 were in the jump off. Of those 6, only 5 would get places. As such, I watched and waited hopefully for the others to knock, since I knew Finola and I stood no chance of going clear in our first 1,25m jump off. Unfortunately, it seemed nobody had any intention of handing his or her place over to us, and it was with sinking despondency that I watched clear after clear after clear take place. After a few minutes that felt like hours, Finola and I finally went in for our jump off. By this time I had decided that we stood no chance anyway, so we might as well give it our best shot. Before I had been planning to go carefully, but with the knowledge of all the other clears hanging over my head, I pulled out the stops and let my Finola fly. Approaching the first jump, I expected it to fall. When Finola left the ground, I knew that it wouldn't. When we landed on the other side I knew that we had a shot. Finola and I were working together again - just as we had done in our glory days. The jumps were bigger than we were accustomed to, but we kept up our pace nonetheless and took every shortcut that came our way. When we finally soared over the last jump for a clear round, I was overjoyed! I couldn't care less about our time. We had gone clear... Our first 1,25m jump off, and we had gone clear! When they announced the results, I was ecstatic to hear that we had placed second - losing by only 1 second to my instructor and his horse that had jumped in the 1,20m division. I pointed this height difference out to him several times, and we both laughed and teased each other about the results. I also had to endure the strange expressions on the judge's face when he shook my gloved hand - which happened to be sticky from the Fanta incident. With great difficulty, I managed not to laugh, and no questions were asked. After that, my successful, yet sticky horse was towed home, and the brilliant day came to an end.

Finola jumping 1,20m
Finola jumping 1,20m

With this show, the 'Legend' will continue - in more ways than one. Finola will continue to prepare for the upcoming shows, with a championship awaiting us in 3 weeks' time, and the 'Legend' joint supplement will continue as well. After seeing the results in my own horse, I can honestly say that this product is amazing, and I strongly encourage anybody who has a horse with joint problems to speak to their vet about it. View this site for more information about Legend:

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