Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Hey Val - wassup?

What's been happening with the poneh?! You may be wondering, since recent posts have been over-the-top arm obsessed...

Not to worry - Val has been enjoying the life to which he has become accustomed - the life of leisure.

Long, lingering, pampering sessions. Total lack of a demanding workload. Mostly mild temperatures - optimal for multiple naps per day. A fluffy blanket when the mercury has dipped.

Most importantly though, we've broken into our winter hay stash. Gone is the stemmy, roughage filled summer hay. Now we're into the tender, green, smells like summer orchard grass.

Summer hay bales lasted for two days.
Winter hay must be crammed into mean, mean nibble nets for a bale to last three feedings. So. Much. Harder. To. Eat.

Summer hay never ran out - there were always scraps left for sunrise snacks.
Winter hay is good to the last drop. Even the crumbs get hoovered up.
In fact, there is no sign left that hay was ever there.

Val would like to point out now, dramatically, that the austerity measures (nibble net) have once again caused him angst and discomfort...

Yesterday morning as I picked up manure, I pulled out the camera to catch a lovely picture of sleepy pony. I was horrified to find signs of a nose bleed. No obvious scene of injury, no puddle of blood, just a sandy, bloody nostril, some clear mucous tinged red and smears on his foreleg and nose from rubbing. I cleaned him up carefully, but could not find any damage, which was discouraging.

cold enough for blankie, shortly before discovering mystery bleeding

While heading up the road, (bridge is open now!*), and after a consultation with Capt S, the conclusion is vigorous eating + nibble net = stiff hay nasal poke. I once punctured my nose bending over some needle rush in the marsh. Profuse bleeding. So that's my theory and I'm sticking to it. All was well this morning, but if it happens again...(can't bear to mention the v-word since the human doctor bills are piling up lately)

guilty - picture taking + driving...

On the foot front, the farrier was out Wednesday for our trim. Val was pretty stiff picking up his hinds in the cold morning air, and you could clearly see the damage from the laminitic episode - thin little bruises all along the white line on both fronts - but everything looked good overall.

*The road is open again, and we are all appropriately thankful. My only question is, well - really there are several but I'll limit myself - how much better (safer) is a bridge with a score of 4 out of 100 than a bridge with say - a score of 2... just wondering. There is more to the story to be sure.

Final note:
There is a cool Christmas contest going on over at Aoife's blog Pampered Ponies. You get to share fun holiday pictures of you and your equine(s), and the prizes are superb! Niamh from Life of Reilly is providing several of her lovely paper cut pieces. Head over to her Etsy shop TraceALine to check them out. (How I would love to be a lucky winner!)

contest entry - using one from last year - to keep this year's a surprise... ;D

Val being a cheeky monkey in a Xmas card outtake

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

WW: End of the day...

Friday, December 13, 2013

The upswing...

The trek to visit Dr. Dreamy was a total success.

A 3 a.m. wake up call didn't hurt too badly. Happily, the deer stayed on their sides of the road. We were early enough to ensure a spot on the first ferry - leaving at 6 a.m. It was cold, but most importantly not windy, keeping us from spending hours sitting on a sand bar halfway across. We arrived early to the other side - affectionately called Grumpy Point - and made it to my appointment only five minutes late.

Arm update:

I was a bit apprehensive about seeing my arm after so long. It wasn't terrible. My forearm muscles have wasted away understandably, and so have my triceps - the dreaded old lady swingy bat wing look - and oddly my thumb muscle is also shrimpy.

The stitches came out easily, and the scar won't be too hideous. Dr. D pronounced my xrays good, therefore I got a snazzy brace, and with it the use of my elbow back. Cue heavenly angel sounds...

The brace is removable, so last night skinny arm got it's first bath in ages, which allowed me to scrub off that weird orange crap they paint you with before surgery. I was soooo happy to wash it, as I spent weeks looking like I had been hoovering cheetos non-stop. Embarrassing.

Sexy arm corset (!) aka arm-gerie ;D The velcro has electric blue sparkles...

The upshot is four more weeks before I can start to rehab my wrist, and ten before all restrictions are lifted. *sigh* Hoping my normal level of activity will beef skinny arm back up sooner rather than later. Only time will tell...

There was enough time left to finish up my trip with a little Xmas shopping - highlighted by visiting a real grocery store (Harris Teeter) for holiday treats, before the mad dash back to Stumpy Point.

The ride home was simply beautiful. Shot lots of pix of a slick calm sound, and I made it home with enough light to do evening chores. Perfect!

This prolonged arm incident has been so much harder for me mentally than physically. Going into surgery knowing my affairs weren't in order was a painful pill to swallow.

The new year will bring many overhauls, reorganizations of priorities, realistic assessments - including of this blog - both design and content. Not trying to sound too serious - it's all good. I'm a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. :D

Thanks to all of you readers who have continued to visit despite the sparse posting and recent lack of pony content. I have so appreciated your visits and well wishes - they mean the world to me.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

...with a little help from my friends...

Well... my love affair with pain medication was brief.

Our relationship peaked Tuesday night, the hour minute millisecond the surgery meds wore off. PM was there for me, holding my hand, soothing me with warm, fuzzy feelings. But soon enough, PM's annoying habits began to get on my nerves. Dizziness, random itching, inability to sleep, and finally the last straw - nausea. PM was kicked to the curb within 24 hours, and I was basically good to go by Wednesday afternoon.

Every day since has brought improvements.

I happily took my barn chores back on Thanksgiving - (Capt S, Val thanks you, and I thank you) - feeling at least as capable as the days before the surgery.

Over the weekend Val got a much needed grooming, calmly cooperating while I sorted out the hoof picking, and was rewarded with a relaxing grazing session. Q (my Jack Russel terrorist) enjoyed several lingering beach walks. Many small jobs and chores were checked off a (long) list. And I was finally able to cook for myself.

A very old friend drove down Wednesday to hang out with me, making my recovery a lot more fun and interesting. Thanks for the hand, and for the heads up about Grooveshark J. You are welcome anytime.

And I don't know where I would be without my dad - seriously. Lifesaver. You're much appreciated pops. ♥♥♥

Just in case anyone is thinking we're back on easy street, cause we didn't have a hurricane this year, and the government shutdown only lasted two weeks - the big news today is our one and only bridge off the island is closed until further notice.

Apparently some of the very important support pilings aren't touching the ground any longer, due to erosion. State of emergency... anywhere from a week to three months of minimum six additional hours travel time by ferry to get away from our beautiful little island. Like for my 8:30 am doctor's appointment next week...

Click to embiggen...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It ain't over til it's over...

This evening is the first time in over five weeks that I haven't felt super anxious, so that is a relief.

My surgery went well, but took twice as long as expected, due to bone shards next to an artery. (!) The x rays are impressive - a large stainless plate and six titanium screws. Haven't gotten hold of them yet to share. Apparently I have to sign a form to release them to myself. (what?!)

The nurses were lovely and kind, making the experience much more tolerable. Two of them ended up being equestrians, so we had lots to talk about, sharing injury stories and such. The warm blankets are a nice touch.

I tolerated the anesthesia well, but did wake up in lots of pain, (after a sweet nap filled with happy horse dreams), much worse than breaking the arm. A bonus was some pointers on stethoscope use from the anesthesiologist.

Will have a big splint - no elbow or wrist + continued annoying inability to do simple crap for myself - for at least two more weeks. :( No firm info about when I'll be back to normal, but theoretically it will be 8 - 12 weeks. We'll see. Not counting on any predictions from here on out. I've learned a hard lesson about disappointment lately. I can't even think about how this impacts my horse yet...

I am very thankful for pain meds, and hoping I won't need them long.

Happy holidays my blogging friends.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

When the troubles arise, I'm the cool coper...

Until yesterday - when I melted down royally. Epically. Thoroughly. Let's say my animal companions ran and hid.

Monday was the long awaited graduation to short cast day. I'd been trapped in a cast up to my armpit for a month, so my hopes were high about the second appointment with Dr. Dreamy, until -

I didn't feel comfortable hopping off the table to grab my trusty iphone and snap a selfie of the naked arm, which was kind of crooked and not quite stiff enough once the cast - which contained a fair amount of hay - was peeled off.

The not nearly as charming x-ray tech couldn't look me in the eye when I asked her about my pix. Dr. D didn't have a happy look on his face either. The bones are actually further apart than the original break, with no sign of new bone. This practice isn't cool about sharing my films with me. I'll leave the disappointing images to your imagination.

So I'll be getting surgery next Tuesday - a plate and six screws, which cost thousands of dollars apiece apparently, the joy of general anesthesia + getting cut open. 

Bad news. the whole process is going to take much longer to resolve. 8 - 12 more weeks. I have to anticipate the event all week, with the knowledge of my wiggly arm riding around in the dirty old cut up ace bandaged on cast. Poor wiggly arm. :(

Good news - once the hardware is installed, I'll get a brace rather than another cast. I'll get my wrist back immediately, and everything should get better rapidly. Fingers crossed...

I sincerely hope that next year is an improvement over this past one. Losing dear ones, personal betrayals, weather related chaos, and big steps backwards with my pony have kept me battling to maintain a positive attitude. Morale has suffered, my health has suffered, and blogging has suffered. I'm ready for change. :D

Whaa? Wasn't me. Eating Hoovering the grapes you were saving in the tack room...
Winter dapples
Hey lady - why you do that?
Ground work
Looks different
Smells different
What's with the hard arm lady?!
Does it....
... TASTE different?!
Pre bad x-rays selfie

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tricks >Treats...

Friday, October 25, 2013

If you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough...

The trip home from Md was swift and uneventful, if supremely uncomfortable and a tad nerve wracking. I was packed and ready to leave at dawn. Val loaded beautifully, and the traffic gods blessed us. I managed to get an appointment with a semi-local ortho the following afternoon...

Doctor #3 was definitely my fave.

Not because he was handsome, funny and gentle, but because he saw no need to slice me open and insert a Plate With Six Screws - Dr. #2's solution. (Dr. #1 vet wrapped my splint so tightly that my fingers nearly burst from swelling.) While the surgical option would have given me wrist mobility the soonest, the thought of general anesthesia + invasiveness made me sick with dread.

We let gravity comfortably realign the larger bone pieces. The results are a long cast, reaching a few inches below my shoulder. Mid November brings a short cast - total of six weeks. No restrictions other than don't pick up more than five pounds, and if it hurts - don't keep doing it. Thank goodness for common sense.

So far I have managed the pain with otc anti-inflammatories. The inconvenience and worry far outweigh the discomfort. Still haven't figured out how to work an ice tray, wash my right arm and - horrors - open an oyster. Hay bale slinging is out of the question, though I can manage the rest of my jobs so far.

It wasn't all emergencies and drama up at the farm. My hosts were so wonderful. And I learned so much. The one hand typing style is getting old though, so next post - clinic write-up.

Monday, October 21, 2013

In the Arena # 152 - How I spent my summer vacation or When it rains it pours...

No - not a riding incident. I didn't even get to ride. Just bad judgement in the confined space of a stall with a very unsettled horse. By far my worst injuries with horses have been on the ground...

Yes it hurt like a son of a bitch. It bent backwards way too far. Choice words -"F#@& - I just broke my f#@&ing arm!" Sad face here...

Damage - all I can say is the sound was disgusting. Seriously, it felt like my bone exploded. Every medical person who looked at the xrays made that not favorable whistling sound as they shot a glance my way.

There are some choices to make in the next few days, but first I have to get myself back home. One armed trailer hauling + standard transmission...

It's not all rainbows and unicorns but I did learn a ton. More medical details, a full clinic write-up and hints on how to Do All The Chores One-Handed to come.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

In the Arena #151 - Ready or not - here we come...

The past several weeks have been overrun with travel preparations. When it wasn't raining that is. Thirteen inches in thirty six hours. Okay - I'm really sorry I complained about how dry it was, how I was tired of having to water the plants, and especially how I couldn't use the arena, because then this happened:

I will not walk in the quicksand...

Somehow no wires or insulators popped... It's fun to do electric fence repairs in the pouring rain.
Yes - that branch is covered in poison ivy.

Not scared unless it falls on me...

We did get some decent rides in before the deluge. One in particular combined an energetic, attentive horse with a balanced, focused rider. Heavenly. Actual round circles. Really nicely forward + good bend, off of light aids. Best ride all year, and it felt like we might possibly be ready for our clinic. Of course I promptly got dumped the next day following a very lateral duck and spook, the source of which was a total mystery. (wouldn't want to get over confident or anything...) No worse for the wear, I remounted and we continued working.

Loving you despite the sandy helmet...

With no objections to getting wrapped, and after donning his protective headgear, Val self loaded and we hit the road. (love my horse!) I worried that he wasn't eating his hay, because he's such a rubbernecker when we trailer - always looking out the windows - but at our midway stop he'd finished his travel manger and promptly polished off the half bucket of soupy mash I held for him. He only got a little on me. ;D (is it weird that he pees on a moving trailer?)

After an uneventful seven hour trip, we arrived at L's farm. Val settled into his accommodations, although sadly for him he's residing in the round pen. Coming from the land of sand and no grass it didn't seem a good idea to go straight on to 24/7 grazing. Poor Val... Maybe to pay me back - he waited several hours before drinking anything. At bed check he pulled his face out of the water bucket to greet me, so all is well.

Saturday is our first mounted lesson + an unmounted bio-mechanics seminar. (!)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In the Arena #150 - Back to the drawing board + a super cool contest!

We're on a roll. Sort of.

A synopsis of events since spring:

- Val becomes three legged lame with a never pops mystery abscess. Six weeks gone.

- I learn a painful valuable lesson about girth tightening and bust my a$$. Six weeks down the drain.

- After a crazy month straight of rain every day, (source of abscess), apparently, it will never rain again. Water table historically low - my sand arena... more like a quicksand arena.

- I find L, my new trainer, who is super helpful, but located far, far away.

So now we're working towards an October 18th clinic. L's a student of Mary Wanless and Mark Rashid, specializing in biomechanics. So fortunate to have this opportunity.

The plan of action to prepare for our trip hinges on short term goals:

Daily - confirm forward, focus on contact, pick one other thing to work on for each ride.

Weekly - keep rides short but increase frequency each week. No drilling. Consistency is key.

Monthly - both of us fit, with the basics confirmed, so we can move forward while we have the benefit of several days with a trainer.

Changing trainers has provided an interesting lens to analyze my riding through. One element where there's a glaring difference, is the go button. With OT the aid was calf related. A wiggle of the ankle to lightly brush the barrel with your calf, tap, tap, tap with the whip as backup. NT - more seat/weight oriented, and straight to the whip if necessary. Thigh on, but calf has a whisper of contact. With OT I remember feeling that the motion of my leg was pulling me out of position. With NT, I'm stable.

With L's horse Tom Terrific, it definitely made a difference, because as I struggled not to nag with my leg while asking for the trot - surprise - we went straight to the canter. A bumpy little "not sure if you were asking for this - crazy lady with the spastic legs" canter. After a few tries I moderated my ask and we had a decent trot transition. Hello forward horse + light aids... it's been a while.

Anyhow - that's where we are. My seat is feeling more secure and effective. Val's been relaxed and blowing, tentatively taking contact. My aids are getting lighter, and lighter aids are all that's necessary. Every ride is a little better than the last. We've only got about a third of the arena that's rideable, but throw some cones in to make it interesting and we're cooking with gas.

If you haven't already, head over to Life of Riley to enter a contest celebrating her 200th post. (with really great prizes) Or don't - better chances for me that way! ;D

smooches for a good boy

Sunday, September 15, 2013

In the Arena #149 - Fifty Bales of Hay...

It's been a productive week at the farmette.

A trip up the road for supplies...

Seriously - what's sexier than a full trailer?

A barn full. Yummy.

Had to de-bug first... sorry wasps. :(

My back is definitely not feeling sexy.  Stacked six high... winter will be here before we know it.

And there were leftovers!

Fit in a trailer loading session... (selfie video not my strong suit, pardon the wiggles)


and a couple of very nice rides. What's not nice - this is what the footing looks like lately.

No rain for ages. I can barely push the wheelbarrow through it. A quick review of the archives reminded me that this is what we usually have to deal with in a dry summer. I've found this to be an incredibly frustrating situation, but resolve to accept it for the time being. Until funds are available for a new arena and a new water source to irrigate it with, we'll work with what we have, because we have to.

In the meantime, our goals are:

-- to implement the position changes I've worked on with my new trainer
-- to keep Val absolutely in front of my leg, requiring minimal aids to stay forward
-- to improve my focus, so that I can maintain steady, elastic contact
-- to know when to quit (holy crap this one's important!)
-- to get fit (both of us... talking about you too Val!)

so we don't make fools of ourselves - at the clinic we're going to in October! (controlled myself on the exclamation points)

I had a second (really good) lesson at L's place in July, but we both feel that lessons on Val would be ideal. (even though I'm quite fond of the other grey ottb in my life - Tom Terrific - edited to add his handsome mug)

It's such a long way to L's farm in Md - a mini-clinic is the only way to make taking Val up there feasible. We'll head up on a Friday and stay through Monday. The plan is for four mounted lessons, and hopefully an unmounted biomechanics seminar with some local riders. Should the weather not cooperate, we can trailer to an indoor. We'll cook meals and watch dvd's in the evenings. All horses, all the time. To say I'm over the moon would be an understatement.

It's a good feeling to have something to work toward again.

It's hard out here for a horse... ;D
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