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LIFE after EPM


him to the pressure of tack and eventually Marija’s weight in June of 2002. “My whole goal in rehabilitating George was not to turn him into the competitive dressage horse I originally wanted; instead I needed to get him to the place where he no longer felt disabled as a horse.” When it was time for Marija to leave for Mount


Holyoke College in Massachusetts, fortunately George was sufficiently in control of his body and was no longer disabled. Marija made the decision to leave him in California since she did not want to stress him with the relocation. During those years at school she rode him during breaks and summers and was able to lease him out part of the time. After graduating in 2008, she returned to California and looked forward to working with Lucy again. But there was still a lot of work to be done. At that point George’s walk was so lateral that it was two beat, his trot was four beat and his canter was so disconnected that he frequently switched leads behind to try to find his balance. Lucy did amazing ground work with George showing him exactly how he needed to hold his body and shift his weight and engage very specific muscles. “It’s been a painstakingly slow and difficult process which I could never have done without Lucy’s expertise


and generosity,” Marija says with gratitude. “My journey with George has changed my life. My


concept of ‘progress’ has completely changed. I have stuck by him through the good and the bad now for twelve years. When I bought him I made a commitment to provide him with the best life possible,” says Marija with a hint of emotion. “Dressage as adapted for George has become his physical therapy. Lucy has taught me to analyze the mechanics of every step down to subtle muscle contractions and weight shifts. The first time George moved through his whole body on the lunge line trotting up off the ground, I cried. I saw a glimpse of the horse that George would have been without the devastating effects of EPM.” Today the two devoted women continue to work with


George who’s now 17 years old. “Every day when I swing my leg over his back I am reminded of all the years of hand walking, massage, and tedious management. Being able to sit on my horse is a gift and a pleasure. I am so grateful to Lucy for making my dream horse a reality.” Marija plans to show George this fall for the first time.


For most spectators, that ride will be just another dressage test. But for Marija, it will be a ride she’ll cherish forever culminating the last twelve years of her life.


24 September/October 2011


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