Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I be Illin' - update

I went in for my ultrasound this morning for my thyroid issue.   We had to go to a new hospital because now we're Eastsiders and our old hospital in Seatttle - Swedish Hospital - is too far away.  That's the hospital where my dad, my daughter and me were all born and the hospital of choice my whole life (well, my whole life while living in Seattle ... when I had a broken neck in Sacramento I was at UC Davis Medical Center and it was an awesome hospital).  So, it's always a little weird to have to change medical care providers.

My husband took me because I'm still feeling puny - probably more from the sinus infection than anything.  And our first impression was "Wow, Eastside hospitals are really swank!" After drinking complimentary coffee (which was actually strong and tasty) and sitting by the fire doing our paperwork I had my ultrasound. Of course they don't tell you anything.  And after much -probably bad idea - googling of "inflammation of the thyroid", my options are:  acute hypothyroid, thyroid cancer, a virus in my thyroid or a bacteria in my thyroid causing it to swell up because it's filled with infected puss.  My symptoms sound like the virus in the thyroid more than anything - which ironically is what my doctor said.

So, now I have to wait till tomorrow or Friday to hear the results.  But I'm feeling much less panicked about it being cancer.   And I *think* after some antibiotics that I started yesterday I feel about 1% better which means there is light at the end of the "I just want to stay in bed and whine all day" tunnel.

Meanwhile, my poor horse Girlfriend has not been ridden in a week and I'm missing a bunch of Toadie's training sessions.  Although she missed one yesterday because of a huge sneezing attack.  Trainer K. thinks it's the new batch of grass hay we got in and switched her over to all alfalfa for the time being to see if that stops the sneezing.  She only has the huge sneezing attacks when she eats he grass hay apparently.  I hope she's not getting sick with something too.  I looked up everything I could on horses and sneezing and other than a cold or flu I couldn't find any scary cause. And she's not showing other symptoms like lethargy or fever.  Although if I can muster the energy I will try and go in today and take her temperature just to make sure.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I be Illin'

Last year I had a bunch of tests to find out why I intermittently had terrible bouts of vertigo and it all came down to poor ear drainage and congestion.   I was relieved it was something that simple, so when I woke up Sunday morning and was so dizzy I could actually see the room spinning, I was able to tell myself it was just congestion and poor ear drainage and as soon as I managed to get lots of decongestants in me I'd be fine.  Of course, it scared the sh*t out of me like having that kind of vertigo does - and being so helpless does.  But it did pass as the more rational, less panicked part of me felt.

For the last month I've been not taking my Enbrel for my rheumatoid arthritis because of a lingering cough and wheezing.  And I've been telling myself "I should really go see a doctor."  I also have been getting more and more fatigued the last month or so, but I figured that was a symptom of my RA since I hadn't been taking my Enbrel.  Then last week while I was out with my daughter staying with my parents the front of my neck started hurting.  I thought it might be muscles but couldn't tell.  So, the vertigo was the last straw and I dragged my sorry butt to the doctor today.

I was not surprised when she said I need antibiotics for a sinus infection, but when I told her about the pain in my neck, she checked me out, got a horrified look on her face and said, "My god, your thyroid is huge!" then her "doctor mask" went back on and she said, "Well, let's get some tests and find out what's going on, shall we."  She sat down and started writing out some orders on pieces of paper and seemed a little flustered for a moment then said, "Ok, you'll need to get some blood tests and we'll start with an ultrasound as soon as possible."  When I asked what she thought it was she said she couldn't tell yet but it is probably thyroiditis and that usually resolves on its own but they may need to give me some medicine to regulate my thyroid.  I managed to choke out the question, "Do you think it could be thyroid cancer?" and she said quickly, "Oh, probably not."  I would much rather hear "No, definitely not!" But "probably not" is better than "Let's hope not," or even worse, "We'll just have to wait and see."

So, I was freaked out for part of the afternoon.  Until I looked up thyroiditis and it looked like the symptoms were more like what I had than the symptoms of thyroid cancer.  I watched an old friend go through thyroid cancer and having her thyroid removed.  I was in the hospital with her and her brother and husband after surgery and it was just horrible.  They had to put a shunt in her throat to drain the blood because she was bleeding so badly, and she threw up blood then dry heaved horribly.  She was in awful pain and it just looked torturous.  So, although I know it's fairly easy to treat, I really would not want to go through that surgery.  Or put my poor husband through the recovery with me.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Don't eat the fish and the redneck within ... oh, and Toad ... Toad!!!

I went to a fundraising auction up in Monroe with my next door neighbor this evening.  I was caught up in the spirit of things and bid on a full-day fly fishing tour.  It seemed like a great idea at the time - a $450 value and the starting bid was $85. And I really want to learn more about fishing.  Unfortunately, I got home and my husband was none too interested in going with me and has expressed doubts that even I would make it through a full day of fishing.  What is worse is that I know I would make it through a whole day of fishing just fine.  Just like I make it through a whole day of lolling around the barn just fine.  I feel like the guy in The Fly only instead of turning into a fly I'm turning into a redneck.  =help me ... help me ...=  Or I've always been one.  I guess I've always been one, I just spent a couple decades running away from myself because I thought there was something wrong with liking being in the woods, fishing and hanging around a smelly old barn.

So, now I'm wondering if I can find *anyone* who is going to want to go with me on a full-day of fly fishing.  I'd hate to show up there and say, "Yes, I'm the loser who bids on excursions for two but doesn't actually have any friends who share my same interests enough to come with me so it's just going to be me."  My friend, H. who put on the fundraiser definitely won't go with me because she's a vegan and finds my whole fishing hobby rather atrocious.  I think everyone else just finds it boring.

On a happier note ... =drum roll=  I rode Toadie for the first time today!  I was initially going to wait for a full month of training but Trainer V. said Toadie is doing so well if I wanted to hop up on her today after her training session she thought it was fine.  At first I wasn't sure because I was wearing my blue jeans and I hate Trainer V.'s super slippery leather saddle - which is even more slippery when you're wearing jeans.  But I couldn't resist so I hopped up on her and wow! I feel really comfortable on her.  She's definitely green and I had to find my groove with her as far as leg aids and such go, but she was not tense or hot at all - at least compared to what I'm used to.  In fact, she reminded me a lot of Atlas the wild Mustang at my old barn.  That gave me a little more confidence because I recall that I wasn't scared at all to hop on Atlas and try riding him.  In fact, even when he was only about six months under saddle I trotted and cantered with him.  I realized my getting thrown off Rolls *really* shook my confidence.  So, it helped me a lot to ride Toad twice around the arena at a walk today.  I didn't want to push it because I had on jeans and cowboy boots and I hate that slippery saddle, so I didn't feel in my groove the way I do in my own saddle with breeches and field boots on.  But I don't foresee her being hard to ride like Rolls and just messing with my confidence like he did.

And Trainer V. cantered with her today for the first time and she did really well.  She didn't try any of her weird little tricks that she will occasionally try on the lunge line - like kicking up high or bucking.  She was a little unbalanced to start on the canter going to the right but after one 20 meter circle she balanced herself out and did really well.

On a scary note, apparently yesterday the new girl who just brought in her brand new thoroughbred got taken away to the hospital yesterday with a broken arm and broken ribs.  Her horse, Magoo is 18 hands so he's huge.  18 hands tall means that his shoulders are six feet tall (as in his shoulders are eight inches taller than my head - and that's not the mention how high up his head is).  She was trying to lunge him the round pen which is too small for lunging a full size horse in and really freaks out Toadie and Girlfriend anyway.  And because it's so small, when he got excited during a canter and decided to buck and kick, he got her right in the arm and chest.  I couldn't even imagine how horribly painful that must've been!  The ambulance came and took her away definitely knowing she had a broken arm, but nobody has heard yet if her ribs are broken.  Yikes!  I hope she wasn't trying to lunge him in there because the trainers on the other side of the barn told her to because they didn't want her lunging in the arena while they were in there.  They told me to take Toadie out there because they wanted the arena to themselves, and we got out there and Toad flipped out and I thought it was too small because I felt like I couldn't get Toadie far enough away from me that if she did buck or kick (like she does at first) that I wouldn't be in danger.  Of course then Trainer K. and Trainer V. came out and told me *not* to lunge a full size horse in there anyway and that the other trainers had no right to tell me to leave the arena because we all have to share it. Anyway, that was scary.

But the happy note is that I think Toad and I are going to get along well under saddle.  We sure do on the ground so that is a good start!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Drama-free farrier appointment

One of the things that I heard horror stories about regarding Toad were having her feet done by the farrier.  I didn't really get that much history on her except something about how she kept throwing her back shoes and the farrier decided to just not put them on anymore.  And he was scared to do her back feet for some reason?  I'm not really sure what happened.  Apparently, Trainer K. had been hired to handle Toad when the vet and farrier came but she wasn't at the barn today because her son had a doctor's appointment, so I had no one with first hand experience to ask what to expect.

Luckily, my farrier, Ray, is about as calm as they come and doesn't appear to be scared of anything.  He did Girlfriend's feet first and that is always a non-event because she is so sweet and polite with her ground manners. In fact when I was telling Ray about how well Toadie's training under saddle is going and how quiet she is - and how she is actually way far ahead of Girlfriend in that she (Toadie) actually stands still at the mounting block and doesn't try to bolt when trotting, Ray said with surprise, "Girlfriend does that???" and I said, "Oh yeah, Girlfriend's super hot under saddle."  It's so funny to me that people are so surprised by that.  But if he'd stayed a couple hours later and seen T.'s ride with her he would've seen what I was talking about.  T. was having an awful time getting her to trot today she was feeling so energetic, and when T. tried to canter her on my suggestion that it would help her (Girlfriend) "get the wiggles out", she just took off and tried to gallop.

But as for getting shoes Girlfriend just stands quietly and sighs and waits for it to be over.  T. showed up half way through her shoeing and I left her to "hold Girlfriend" for Ray and went off to get my sandwich and came back and T. had dropped the lead rope on the floor and was braiding Girlfriend's mane while Ray finished up her back feet.

Then it was time to bring the Toad out. She started turning in circles as soon as she saw the farrier equipment and I was just letting her, thinking it would keep her from spooking and Ray said no, he could show me what to do (which I appreciated).  So he led her forward a little, then backed her up to the farrier equipment. At first she threw her head and balked, but he just corrected her and told her she had to do it, and she backed right up, sighed, lowered her head and submitted.  We moved her against the wall so she couldn't jump sideways and Ray said to just keep her from moving forward.  And I stood to the side so that she couldn't hit me if she reared.  He told me she needed shoes on her back feet because of the way her feet were so I braced myself.

And he picked up her back foot, and trimmed it down and nothing. He went and got the shoe to fit it, took it a couple feet away to his truck and started hammering it to shape it and she twitched a little with each strike of the hammer on metal but just stood there.  Then he came back, lifted up her foot and started hammering the shoe on.  And she just stood there.  In fact, she just stood there for both of her back feet except for on the second foot at one point right as he was hitting her foot to hammer in a nail, his dog, who was sitting in the back of his truck scraped her nails across the metal of the truck bed and made an awful scritching sound at the same time that one of the kids let the porta-potty's door (only about 8 feet away) slam really hard.   That spooked her and she kicked back which caused the metal stand with Ray's tools to get kicked over, and Ray leap frogged away from her leg and she bolted forward.  She stopped after just a couple steps and managed to compose herself quickly, and I backed her back up and apologized for letting her go forward and Ray said it was all the dog's fault and I couldn't have stopped her.  Which was true, I don't know how I could've stopped 1,000 pounds of panicked horse from jumping forward.  My instinct was to let loose on the lead rope - enough so I still had a hold of it but loosened enough so she wouldn't panic and rear).

She didn't want to back up all the way to Ray's farrier equipment again, but he gently forced her to and then she was fine.  She was getting a little impatient when he was doing her front feet and kept bending her head down and pushing at his back as soon as I took my eyes off her.  I caught her a few times and corrected her before she could, but wasn't watching every second like I should've probably been.  On his tool belt, he has a spikey hook to hold it together right in the middle of the back of his waist and sure enough, she leaned over to push on his back and got the spike poking her right under her chin which caused her to throw her head back and fly backwards, taking him with her while he was holding her leg.  I apologized again for not being able to hold her still and he laughed and said, "That spikey hook sure comes in handy.  She won't be doing that again!"

T. took Toadie out for some grass after Ray was finished and while he was cleaning up and I was writing him a check he praised Toadie on what a great temperament she has and said, "Congratulations. You've got a really awesome new mare!" 

T. rode Girlfriend in the arena for a bit and said she wished we could go for a trail ride.  I said I'd ridden Trainer V.'s pony Rimfire the other day and how she's just a wild little thing but it was fun - like Girlfriend gone through the hot wash cycle.  So, T. wanted to take her out but Trainer V. needed her for pony camp.  So, I asked Trainer V. if T. could ride Rolls and she said yes!  T. was really good with Rolls - much better for him than I am.  I get so anxious with him, but T. is a lot more confident and every time he spooked she stayed super calm and helped him through it.  The irony though is that we walked down the long driveway to the street and just rode up the street a ways to see what was up there and see if we could figure out how to get to the powerlines trail, but Girlfriend was an anxious wreck.  Rolls was really calm as long as he could follow her, but she was prancing in a super anxious way - not in a happy energetic way.  So after a couple blocks I said I wanted to go back.

We rode them back to the barn, then rode them in the arena for a bit.  I tried to canter Girlfriend but it turned into a gallop.  T. asked if she ran off with me too but I said it isn't really running off if I'm letting her.  She just felt like she needed to get it out.  T. wanted to go back on the dirt road in back of the barn and I said I'd walk Girl back there with her but last time I tried to take Girl back there she wouldn't go.  On our way out, the owner told us how to get to the back pasture and that no one was it so we could ride back there.  Of course, by then I hadn't brought my helmet because I thought I was just going to be leading Girl, so I planned to just walk back and not ride.  Rolls freaked out a little on this very narrow path down a hill we had to go on to get to the back pasture.  Girl and I went ahead and Rolls panicked at the idea of being alone and bolted toward Girl - which pissed her off.  And scared me because the only place I had to go if he decided to run us over was a choice between and electric fence and thick blackberry brambles.  Luckily, T. was able to just barely stop him before he ran over Girl.

The back pasture was awesome! I took Girl over to a log and hopped up on her just for a little bit (I didn't want to press my luck too much since I didn't have my helmet).  This time she was really prancy, but it was a happy, excited prancy.  The pasture was big enough that part of it was grassy, but then a whole half of it was on a big slope with paths through the brambles and it felt like it just went on and on. It was just beautiful.  And T. did great helping Rolls get over his terror of various different bushes.

I was telling Trainer V. how great T. did with her horse and she said she wished she wasn't moving.  I said so too and T. admitted she didn't think she'd get into school this quarter like she wanted.  Trainer V. said she's moving at the end of the month to a bigger place and needs a temporary roommate.  I pointed out that even if K. leases Girlfriend, T. could still lease Toad.  T. said we suck and what is worse is she was actually considering it.  But I think she's got her mind made up to go home.  I don't blame her.  I wouldn't mind moving to Missoula. 

An obligatory picture of my "awesome new mare!"

Friday, August 12, 2011

There is hope!

I'm not feeling quite so overwhelmed that T. is leaving and I am suddenly the owner of two horses all by myself.  Last night a lovely family came out to meet with Girlfriend and me to see if their 12 year old daughter wanted to lease her.  I was a little nervous because Girl can be difficult and no children have ridden her except IH and Trainer V.'s daughter and I know them well and know their riding skills.  But after riding Girlfriend for ten minutes to see where she was at (which was her old self, very bouncy and hot) the little girl, K. hopped up on her.  Girl was very bouncy and I could tell she was thinking of bolting but K. kept her calm and I was very relieved!  Especially because her entire family and best friend were sitting in the bleachers!

K.'s mom and I went back to the barn and took Toadie out because she was a little interested in maybe leasing her.  But she hasn't had any formal dressage training so I know that Trainer V. would say "absolutely not!" for her riding Toadie during Toad's first 90 days of training.  Plus, Toadie got very anxious about a new person being with her and brushing her and handling her.  It must be five weeks at least since I started handling Toadie on a regular basis, because I was working with her for at least three weeks before I bought her.  And in that short amount of time I had forgotten how ancy and anxious she was.  So, that was good news - that she's already calmed down and bonded with me!  Even the owner of the facility told K.'s mom last night that Toadie is a different horse since I started working with her on a regular basis.  In fact, a boarder who hasn't been there for a few months was there last night and I told her I'd bought Toad and her face screwed up a little and before she could stop herself she said, "Oh dear - why???"  and I told her how well Toad has been behaving and how great she did in her first week of training and she conceded that there is a good horse in there after all.  She said what my trainers have said and what I knew too - and even her old owner had said - she just needs a daily job and lots of structure and then the amazing horse she is can come out.

I don't know if K.'s family will decide to lease her for their daughter or not, but at least I know there are others out there who do as well with Girlfriend as Taryn and I do.  It helped the little girl has mostly a Western background.  A lot of dressage riders don't like to ride Girl, although my trainer and her daughter love riding her.  But my trainer is also a high level dressage rider and her daughter has been following in her footsteps since she could walk and some of the horses I've read about that high level dressage riders choose are quite hot and not these mellow,  somewhat lazy horses like lesson horses. 

It was fun showing off my horses and I had a lot of fun hanging out with K.'s mom.  I'm hoping even if they don't do the lease we will become friends.  It was also fun that K.'s mom and dad were both "wowed" by how beautiful Toadie is.  "Magnificent" was the word K.'s dad used.

On a completely different topic, I was just listening to "Fuck Authority" by Pennywise as it came up on my iTunes.  Back when I had my own business that was ring tone that I used for my clients.  I'm kind of a teenager when it comes to ring tones.  "Sideways" by Citizen Cope is my ring tone for my husband and Hannah Montana is the ring tone for my daughter's school.

It got me thinking about my old punk rock days and how I have never quite outgrown that attitude.  Only it has grown and matured and now I am dubious of any organization that declares itself to be the "authority" on anything.  Which is a little weird because I've owned a couple businesses and ran a non-profit organization that I created and founded.  So in a way I'm kind of "the man" too.  But "the man" has gone from just our enormously corrupt government (in both parties - don't even get me started!) and folks who own large corporations (which is subjective - current CEO of Microsoft=evil,  Bill Gates=good guy) or really wealthy guys (Jeff Bezos=evil, William Gates Sr=good guy).

But I also rebel against "the man" when it is an authoratative group that is oppressive even if it is against "the mainstream".  Like in the whole natural childbirth/homebirth community for example.  I just read about some women who were passing out "Thank you for breastfeeding" cards to women in the baby formula aisle at grocery stores.  That would've devastated me when my daughter was an infant because I couldn't breastfeed because of the medications I took for rheumatoid arthritis.  And I tried to go three months without taking the medication and the RA was crippling me.  So, I see those people as "the man" too and a group to be rebelled against.   I find it ironic that it is my punk rock roots that has me rebelling against anti-mainstream groups now days too.  But then, like so many things in our society, "alternative" music, clothes and groups have become homogenized and commercialized until they are often nothing more than just another product to be bought.  It's harder to be noticeably rebellious and think for oneself.  Luckily, now that I'm older I am content to just have my own weird thoughts but still look like everyone else (well, except for the tattoos ...) and call it good.

Oh and the kittens are now at that "crack kitty" stage where they are constantly tearing around bouncing off the walls and hanging from curtains.  It's destructive but it's soooooo cute!  And Nermal is obsessed with trying to get to my coffee.  As though she needs it!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Toadie's first day of school!

Today was the first day that Trainer V. and Trainer K. worked with Toad.  It was fun because T. who leases Girlfriend (at least until the end of the month ... sigh ...) and Penny's owner and the girl I bought Toad from and her mom all came out to watch.  Trainer K. commented that every time she looked over toward the bleachers there were more people there to watch.

Toad did fine yesterday when I put the saddle on her and walked her around.  Other than having someone ride her to try her out she hasn't had a saddle on in months so she kept looking back at it yesterday, but today it was business as usual.  But when Trainer K. went to put the reins over her head to put on her bridle she threw her head back and refused to let her - just like she did last week about the cavesson.  She hasn't, by the way, done that with the cavesson again after that one day so I was surprised she did that with the reins.  It wasn't that she didn't want them around her neck, she didn't want them touching her ears when they went over her head, but she's so tall and hasn't learned to duck her head for us so it's impossible not to touch her ears.

None of us could figure out what it was about except Trainer K. did feel a fresh scab on her head from where she must've hit her head at some point and maybe she was sensitive about that.  But that doesn't explain why she was so not into me putting the cavesson over her ears last week one day, then turned around and was fine with it again.  I told Trainer K. how I'd put the cavesson on her before and folded her ear over to push them under the strap, so I don't know what brought this on.   Toadie got so upset by it that at one point she tried to run over Trainer K. to flee the grooming room.  But Trainer K. knew how to handle it and diffused the situation quickly. 

After much gently touching Toad's head with the reins and gently touching her ears with the reins she finally relaxed and let out one of her huge post-panic-attack sighs and was fine with them putting the reins over her head and putting her bridle on.  Then she did great on the lunge line (and would stop and turn in toward Trainer V. just like she does with me so I knew it wasn't just me) but came around with enough correction.  Then Trainer V. got up on her back.  I made a comment about how I'd forgotten to bring my camera and it "probably would've been good for the insurance claim".  Luckily, Trainer V. could not hear me.  Despite her worries that Toadie was going to freak out on her, Toadie just stood quietly at the mounting block - which of course made T. and I say "She's already ahead of Girlfriend!" who walks or trots away at the mounting block.

Then they walked around the arena a bunch of times and before ending the session they trotted once around the arena and Toadie has the most fluid, smooth trot!  I can't wait to ride her!  Trainer V. and Trainer K. said she was really nice to work with and not at all the wild, out of control horse that I think was expected.  Trainer K. actually said, "You've been doing a really good job with her," which made me feel great because she's not the kind of person I don't think who says that just to be nice.  I have been trying very hard the last few weeks to start teaching her manners and help her learn to focus when she's working - and she has been responding really well to that because she really does want to have a job and be given direction.  It seems to relax her if she has instruction and structure around her, along with lots of carrots and kisses on the nose.  I'm feeling proud of myself for being a good horse mom to her.  I really do believe with enough structure and training (and snuggles and love) that she can be an amazing horse like Girlfriend.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I'm getting really good at lunging

I lunged Toadie for about 40 minutes today because Trainer V. is going to start her under saddle training tomorrow and my homework was to do a lot of work with her this morning and try the saddle on her.  She's had saddles on before - Western and English - since she stopped racing, but not for awhile.  I couldn't believe when her old owner got there to ride her new horse I asked if she had an old saddle or bridle for Toadie that she wanted to sell and she said, "Oh, you can just have them. Although, I did take the bit from the bridle for my new horse.  But I don't ride English so you can have the English saddle."  That was so cool!  Honestly though, my Wintec All-Purpose has an adjustable gullet so really all I need to get is a new girth and I can use that on Toad too.  And I'll probably do that at least for awhile because I am so comfortable in my own saddle.

I think I *might* be getting dizzy less since I've been doing so much lunging.  But it's hard to say because with Girlfriend as soon as anyone puts her on a lunge rope she starts cantering or galloping. There is no walk/trot going on.   With Toad today we did a lot of walk/trot/canter transitions.  Near the end she was getting irritated and had a stubborn moment.  She was cantering and decided to canter in toward me and come to a stop which is not ok.  Then I asked her to go back out on the circle and walk and she just stood there.  I asked her politely again and tapped her gently on the butt with the stick part of the lunch whip.  She just stood there.  I asked her again and tapped her again and she still stood totally motionless like a statue with an expression that showed she was testing me.  She wasn't frozen in fear (which has happened to her before) or so exhausted she didn't want to move, she just wanted me to know she was in charge.  So, I ended up standing there tapping her butt gently with the stick part of the lunge whip saying, "I"m going to keep doing this until you walk out on the circle," and she finally gave him and walked back out on the circle. 

She also had a thoroughbred moment where she kept turning in on the circle and coming to stand next to me while at a trot and finally after the fourth time as she turned to come in I cracked the whip as it pointed toward her butt to correct her and she threw her head back and ran off sideways like a bear had just jumped out at her.  I told her calmly that she was fine and that she's a drama queen and reeled her back in and then she behaved really well for awhile.

I was going to lunge her with the saddle on after that but Trainer V. had a lesson in the arena with one of the kids and I don't like lunging when young, beginner kids are riding, and I think Trainer V. wouldn't want me to either.  So, I put my saddle on her and just walked her around a little and took her out for some grass.  She looked really pretty with my saddle on!  Not that she doesn't always look pretty. 

Once again, I'm hoping I can ride her.  My confidence level really got shot when Rolls threw me.  And I remind myself that I did ok riding Atlas-the-Mustang when he'd only been under saddle for six months and only been a domesticated for around a year.  And I rode Clyde at the resort at Mt St Helens just fine and he'd only been under saddle for a year and domesticated for two years.  It's not like I can't ride green horses.  But my confidence is all shot and I do worry that I won't be able to ride her.  Although, I'm not sure if an ex-race horse is generally easier or harder than a wild Mustang.  We will see.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

New syndrome and Tuff Toad is a drama queen

My adopted teenager, IH, was at her riding lesson after my daughter and her dad had a family friend's daughter with him who has Prader Willi Syndrome which is another awful developmental disorder that I've learned about in the last few month.  The other one was F.O.P.  Granted F.O.P. sounds worse, PWS sounds pretty evil too because the children who have it experience constant, insatiable hunger.  Good lord.  How has evolution come up with such nasty genetic disorders? She was a happy girl though and thin and pretty healthy looking so there is apparently lots of hope with good treatment.  I was glad she came with them because my daughter immediately took to her and they hung out so that I could stay and watch IH's lesson after my daughter's lesson was over.

When I got to the barn I put Toadie out in the front pasture because Rolls was already out in the adjoining back pasture.  I was proud of Toad because when we walked up to the pasture gate Rolls went crazy and started galloping up and down the fence of the back pasture -  rearing and bucking and showing off for his girlfriend.  Toadie pricked up her ears and her body tensed up like she was thinking of bolting away from me into the front pasture and acting like a spaz too.  But I told her no, that she needed to be polite and wait until she was in the pasture with the lead rope off and until I told her otherwise she was to listen to me and stay calm.  She actually *did* and was great until I took her off the lead rope.  Then she acted spazzy.  I was impressed.

I was less impressed with Toadie's behavior after IH came out and got Rolls to take him in to get ready for her lesson.  I was going to put Toad in the back adjoining pasture and bring Girlfriend out to the front pasture - simple enough, huh?  I took Toad out of the front pasture to the driveway so IH could go through that pasture to get Rolls out, and about that time Trainer V. walked by with my daughter on Tiny because after her lessons on nice days they go down the long driveway and down the street together for a "trail ride".  My daughter had the hiccups so Trainer V. was trying to scare her to make them go away.  So, right as I was walking Toad into the front pasture Trainer V. squealed at my daughter to try and scare her which instead terrified Toad who jumped and spun and started to breathe really hard.  I had her calmed down and started to walk toward the adjoining back pasture and Trainer V. squealed again and my daughter laughed really loudly and poor Toadie jumped and tried to spin again, and this time when I tried to walk her forward she spread her legs apart, pinned her ears back and pulled back her head with a wild eyed stare.  Sigh.

I tried for five more minutes to calm her down and have her walk through the front pasture but she would have none of it and just kept trying to back toward the entrance or at best stand still with her legs spread out for more purchase on the ground.  So, I gave up, took her to her stall, went and got Girlfriend and put her in the back pasture, then went and got Toadie to put in the front pasture again.  She was a little hesitant to even go near the front pasture but with some coaxing and probably seeing that Girl was happily eating grass in the back pasture she finally went in.  Good lord.  I told Trainer V. about it when they got back from my daughter's mini-trail ride and she was terribly apologetic, but I think it's good for Toadie to get used to lots of sounds.   She is already pretty calm about dogs barking, cars, loud music, loud talking even car alarms.  I imagine she had to get used to those kinds of loud sounds at the race track.

Tomorrow I need to go put my saddle on her and lunge her a lot because Monday she starts her training.  I'm pretty excited to see how she does.  I have a feeling she will do well.  She's been doing well with lunging so hopefully that means she will do well with riding. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My horses are up for lease and Sinatra is gone

I was very sad to find out that T. who has been leasing Girlfriend and was going to lease Tuff Toad with me is moving home to Montana.  I have a month to find someone else to do a 2 or 3 day a week lease for one or both of them, but I am still a little stressed because T. was so perfect to share horses with me.  She recognizes how amazing and wonderful Girl and Toadie are when some people just think they're "difficult".  Actually, no one has said that Toadie is difficult, but I do know a few people have said that an OTTB (off the track thoroughbred) in general is asking for a pain in the butt.   Maybe it's because I've been handling Sinatra for the last few months, but Toadie has been really easy for me on the ground.  But her status as an OTTB proceeds her.  And Girl's status as a super-hot retired barrel racer/rodeo star preceeds her.

I put a notice on craiglist and Dreamhorse a few days ago and haven't heard from anyone.  I know it's only been three days but I am stressing I won't find anyone else, especially not someone as good of a rider and as good with my horses as T. is. 

And Sinatra went back to the rescue farm today.  I was a lot sadder than I thought I'd be.  The woman who came to pick him up ended up getting him into the trailer really well.  I realized while watching her that part of my problem is my complete lack of experience with dominant horses.  I know how to deal with dominant dogs but I don't like to, so it would stand to reason I don't like dealing with dominant horses - only in the cases of horses I don't really *know* how.  Maybe in theory but not in practice.  Sinatra just needs someone who has experience like the woman who transported him today, or like the farrier that does his feet.  I did a little begging to both of them that they foster him but they aren't in the position too.

My experience and comfort level is with super hot, submissive horses.  Horses that I call "easy" although that is subjective because I know Girlfriend and Toadie have not been considered "easy horses".  Well, Girlfriend looks easy when I'm handling her but everything changes when a stranger with a different personality handles her.  I think it's because I'm quiet, and when I "make myself big" both Toad and Girl are more than happy to submit.  Whereas Sinatra's reaction is "Oh yeah? Let's throw down!"  So my quietness doesn't go over well with Sinatra, but with Toadie it works great.

Regardless, I am very sad I couldn't be better for Sinatra and I was a lot more sad than I thought I'd be this morning to see him go.  Now I just hope that I can find someone to share Toad and Girlfriend with me because Toad needs five days a week at least of work and I know I can't do that all by myself.