Thursday, June 30, 2011

So many thoughts. So very tired.

Today's riding lesson kicked my ass. Lots of posting and some cantering and a lot of sitting in the correct position until I swear I thought my back muscles were going to snap. This clip explains well what posting trot is. Plus, if you look closely you can see as she is posting she is also using her legs to signal the horse to keep going by touching his side gently with his heels. And she is sitting up very straight. Try doing squats while standing very straight and you will see it is NOT easy.  My legs are far enough back and straight enough right now, so now it's all about me not sitting straight enough. It's like ballet on a horse.  Constant isometric exercise. Ouch.

Anyway. Exhausting work-out today. I came home and gave the pitbull a bath and then had to collapse on the couch.

I'm making a point to go to art night on Tuesdays with friends. I haven't made time to do any painting at home, but at least I've been getting in a little practice on Tuesday evenings.  I haven't picked up any of my fiction writing again still - I keep trying but the mental block seems to still be there. It feels easier right now to find my creative outlet in painting anyway.  Right now I'm just painting horses from my horse magazines but my plan is to do paintings of rescue horses  and hopefully one day I'll be good enough to have a show and donate some of the proceeds to the rescues and also get more exposure for them.  One of the women at art night said I should teach her how to paint with watercolors but I don't actually know what I'm doing.  I said that all I was doing was splatting some paint on and hoping it would run in the right direction.  I'm hoping with enough practice I'll be able to make some good paintings and maybe then I'll have figured out what I'm doing.  If I had time I'm sure a painting class would help. Here is my second horse painting attempt from last Tuesday.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

anti-vax hits the horse world + too much tribal pride

I was just reading an article in Horse & Rider by a vetrinarian addressing the anti-vaccination movement in the horse world.  The arguments for and against are exactly like the ones I read about with humans.  A big point in the "for" group being "Most people are too young to have ever watched their horse slowly suffer and die of Tetanus."  Just like "Most people are too young to see the devastation caused by polio." I have even heard young people say recently, "Polio was not such a bad disease you know.  It's just the hype from the drug company making us think it was."  I wonder if they feel the same about small pox? Hmmm ... almost wish they'd come down with it to see what it's like but actually no, I wouldn't wish small pox or polio on anyone in reality.

I have also been thinking the last day or so about our human instinct to have turf pride and want to stick with "our tribe".  I've been wondering if that is why so many of my old neighbors/friends are so sure that there must be something wrong with me that I would want to leave Seattle.  When I bring up the reasons - the downsides of our old neighborhood, they either say "It's not that big of a deal" or "You'll get that anywhere."  For instance, a couple months ago there was a drive-by shooting just a couple blocks from my old house.  Add that to the trend in home-invasion robberies (ie: thugs kicking in a door or smashing a window, pistol-whipping the residents and tying them up and stealing their stuff) and having to dodge incoherent drunks and drug addicts to get into the library and stepping over them in the parks and I don't know what could be there that was important enough to put up with that.

I guess that I'm just as bad as my old neighbors in that I wonder why they want so badly to *stay* when I want so badly to leave.  But I wonder sometimes if it is just an overblown sense of "making the best of where you are".    It's hard to sell one's house and buy a new one and uproot one's life.  And sometimes not having to commute very far is more important than anything else.  So, it helps to think that anywhere "not in the city" is an awful place to be.  And sometimes I imagine it is the image and prestige that comes of living in the city.  I know there are people who think they are "cooler" or "more sophisticated" because of where they live.   Which I find baffling.  I guess it is all about one's priorities.

Diamond, our little black kitten has been officially presumed dead.  I came to that conclusion over the weekend and my husband came to it when we got home from our long weekend away.  We talked about it and decided that to appease our collective grief (including Buddycat's) we would get our daughter a new kitten.  She said this time she wants a white one, like her dad had growing up and she's going to name it Snowflake.  I found a listing for a litter of white kittens needing homes on the internet, showed the photos to my husband, who said he wanted the lone little gray calico in the photo.  I reminded him that our daughter really wanted a white kitten and he said, "Well, maybe we just need to get two."  So this Sunday we're going down South to pick up two new 9 week old kittens.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Vacation and sad days all mixed together

We just got back from our annual trip to Guemes Island for a few days. It was very nice but kind of hampered by the fact that my daughter's kitten, Diamond went missing last Wednesday. Well, she's not a kitten and in her head she wasn't really my daughter's cat, she was more like my cat. She avoided my daughter most of the time. So, needless to say my daughter is not that upset. She's cried a few times over it but is doing ok. My poor husband on the other hand is a wreck today. I think it's just hitting him. It hit me on Saturday so I feel like I'm making peace with it, even though I miss her.

She ran outside Wednesday night when I let the dog out and didn't come back in when we called her before going to bed. In the middle of the night the next door neighbors heard some sort of ruckus of some sort of animal getting killed by a predator. I tried to convince myself it wasn't Diamond, but after she didn't come back and we'd put up a bunch of signs saying she was missing and no one called, it hit me Saturday that I just knew she'd been eaten by an eagle or a coyote. I was feeling pretty upset about it on Saturday but trying to stick to "vacation mode" which was really hard.

I think what helped me be at peace with it all (even though I'm still sad because I miss her) is when this guy Erik was showing me how to fish with his fancy rod/reel set. The first time I cast out I actually caught a Dungeness crab! Of course it's a few days before crabbing season starts so we had to release him, but it was kind of weird and cool. But as I was standing there waiting on my second cast out I started thinking about predators and prey. And I was thinking about our kitten Diamond (who was actually almost two years old) and what a tough little feral kitten she fancied herself to be. She was very independent and only rarely interested in snuggling and always on her timetable and her terms. She liked to hunt and she liked to prowl around at night. As they say "She would rather die on her feet than live on her knees". And she probably felt it was an honor to die as prey and would have it no other way. She lived a short, adventurish life just the way she wanted to.

Then I didn't feel so bad because I wasn't feeling sorry for her or viewing her as a victim. Animals know there are predators and prey and that is the natural order of things and they would probably rather die as a predator's food than painfully, of old age, after being frustrated because they couldn't run around and be wild. Well, some animals. BuddyCat was born to be a lap cat himself.

But I still miss her. It's hard to come home and not have her here. I was bracing myself for that, but even then I cried after we got home and she wasn't here. My daughter cried too but she's feeling better now. I'm still feeling sad and even more so seeing how devastated my husband is. I think we're going to get another kitten for my daughter, and this time one that really wants to be *her* cat instead of my cat. And one that doesn't like to go out at night would be good too.

Our Guemes vacation was nice. I got to kayak and we went on a like hike with my daughter and her friend yesterday. I wore myself out with enormous amounts of exercise. It was nice to come home to our new house outside the city this time instead of going home to the city. This is my favorite photo from the trip.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

But what can you *do* out here???

I haven’t hung out much with my old friends from Seattle the last six months because I don’t get in there much and only two of them have come out to see us. This weekend we had a party and some folks came out which was very cool. But a couple things were said that made me feel bad. First was “Nobody can figure out why you wanted to move all the way out here. We just can’t understand so we think it must be because you had to in order to be near your horses,” and “What can you possibly find to do out here???” Unfortunately, the latter question was posed to my husband so I couldn’t answer it. So, I will answer both questions here. First is - what can you possibly find to do out here?

This is what my daughter does:

1. Goes to school.
2. Goes to piano lessons once a week.
3. Goes to riding lessons once a week.
4. On Tuesday evenings we meet friends at a cafe for hot chocolate and do art
5. For camp this year she’s chosen jump rope camp and pony camp
Her other options for camp are: martial arts, lego engineering, mad science, soccer, basketball, rock climbing, star wars fighting skills, cartooning, art, fashion design, intro. to wilderness survival, intro. to farming to name a few. But we could only afford two and she chose jump rope and pony camp.
6. In her spare time she runs out the door and yells, “I’m going out to play!” and either plays outside with the kids in the neighborhood or they go from house to house to play. Sometimes they end up here.
7. If one of parents is going or the neighborhood teenagers are willing she runs off through the woods to the park with them.
8. The kids like to ride their bikes, skate boards and scooters around the neighborhood and do tricks. It works well because we actually do have sidewalks beside being “out in the middle of nowhere”.
9. Her school takes field trips to the Children’s Theater, Pacific Science Center, the Zoo and the Aquarium just like the Seattle schools. At her school out here they have a multi-acre playground with a full baseball diamond, full basketball court, two play areas with swings, slides and climbing structures and a big grassy field. At field day we had two giant bouncy houses along with the regular sports events and a DJ who played dance music except when one of the parents was teaching African dancing, then Zumba, then the Macarana . Close to half the kids at the school come from immigrant families - mostly Indian, Latino, and African so their parents have a lot of cool stuff to share from different cultures.

What do I do way out here?

1. I do the regular mom stuff and keeping up the house/laundry plus driving the kid around
2. I work in my garden and on the community garden.
3. I go jogging now because I don’t have to go down city streets I can go jogging in the woods.
4. I work with my horses only now it takes me ten minutes to get the stable instead of fifty.
5. For entertainment we go to parties with our neighbors (who have a lot of parties) or we go to the movie theater that’s a mile away, or we go out to dinner - within a mile of us are a variety of good restaurants: Thai, Vietnamese, Sushi, Italian, Greek, diner, steak house. And of course Red Hook Brewery and the wineries.
6. The wineries and Marymoor Park have outdoor concerts in the summer
7. I go to free gardening seminars (they have things like that out here) or clinics pertaining to horses.
8. I started a book club (something I couldn’t get anyone in my old neighborhood interested in doing with me) and now the majority of the women in the neighborhood come to that.
9. For as often as we go to the ballet, opera and big theater (like The Rep) we can just go into Seattle for that. And OMG - they actually have theater out here too.
10. Cost of living and classes out here are so cheap that now I’m trying to fit into my schedule taking weekly Zumba, bellydancing, yoga and Tai Chi classes. I think Zumba and Tai Chi are my top priorities.
11. When I have the occasional and rare down time I like to walk in the woods and bird watch. And look for wild bunnies and frogs and salamanders.
12. Shopping is easier because the big box stores like Ross and Target are in walking distance along with outlet stores (aaaaah ... love outlet stores ...)

So, that’s how we keep ourselves entertained out here in the god-forsaken middle of nowhere. Somehow we find time for those activities after makin’ our bathtub gin and blowin’ sh*t up.

I know that there is more to do in the city - I just don’t know what it is because it’s not stuff I’m at all interested in. And I know my city friends would be really bored out here because the stuff there is to do is not what they are interested in - which is why they can’t for the life of them wrap their heads around why I would willingly want to move out here. So, I’m hoping maybe some of those folks who are so confused about why I wanted to move out here can read this and understand that I just have very different interests than them and that I *enjoy* the stuff there is to do out here.

There really *are* people that are living in the rural suburbs because they like it better there - not because they couldn’t make it in the city. There is nothing wrong with having interests that pertain to rural areas. And probably the biggest reason I moved out here - people here get me. They understand why I enjoy living here. I don’t have to constantly try and explain it to them and have them look at me like maybe I have brain damage or something because who in their right mind wants to leave the city??? It was actually really lonely living somewhere that I didn't fit in and where people acted like I must be crazy because I drove so far every weekend to be near things that interested me. I've been so much happier the last six months because I fit in here. This is my home.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Girlfriend is a perfect horse - at least for me

I had a little housewarming shindig at my house last night and one of my friends mentioned that I don't write much about Girlfriend in my blog anymore. I guess there is just no drama where she is involved. Whereas with Sinatra and his crazy anciness and physical problems there is always some drama it seems right now.

Girlfriend seems to have adjusted really well to her new barn. She is relaxed and happy and has gotten really attached to Sinatra now that their stalls are next to each other. When I take him out for a walk she calls to him as we're leaving and then when we're coming back. As soon as he's back in his stall she looks through the crack in the wall at him, then presses her body up against the wall. I'm thinking when he's able to work again and is calm again I will turn them out in paddocks next to each other and see how they do, then if they do ok, start turning them out in paddocks together.

I'm hoping I can actually get out and ride her tomorrow since I've been so busy and other than Thursday haven't had time to ride when I go out there because I"m taking care of Sinatra and changing bandages on his feet. Yesterday Sinatra was in a really pissy mood and I didn't have time to change the bandage on his foot with the abscess myself because he stomped on my toe and I ended up spending twenty minutes sitting in the grooming room next to the one he was in with ice on my toe. Luckily another horse owner was there so she could go to my car and get a portable ice pack for me while I sat there and took deep breaths and rubbed my calf because I couldn't touch my foot because it hurt so much. She thought it was broken, but amazingly, after about ten minutes of ice I could move it and it wasn't quite as swollen and black & blue as it initially started out. After twenty minutes it felt better enough to hobble around and I finished putting thrush medicine on Sinatra's feet and by then T. was there and I showed her how to change his bandage. It hurt the rest of the evening but not enough to really bother me, and I was able to limp around. Today it doesn't hurt at all (well, except some twinges) and sadly looks a lot better ... which I find disconcerting because for how badly it hurt I'd expect a much bigger bruise. Oh well.

Poor Sinatra is so over us messing with his feet. And he's so bored being in his stall. I try to remember he's like a little kid who feels fine but is told he has to stay in bed all the time. He's going to be a lot happier when he can go back to work - going out on the lunge line and being ridden and especially getting turn out with the other horses.

Friday, June 17, 2011

That's gonna leave a mark

My daughter just left with her grandparents to go to their house for the weekend and as always happens whenever she leaves for more than an overnight I feel very bleak and kind of like someone chopped off one of my limbs. I don't know if other moms feel this way, although the impression I get is that I tend to get more maudlin when separated from my girl than most moms. I'm trying not to worry about when she goes off to college and how hard that will be for me.

Meanwhile, I have my giant white unicorn-wannabe baby, Sinatra to take care of. I special ordered those Easyboot Glove boots and they were delivered today. I was happy that after putting on the new gauze and elastic bandage wrap, the boots were super easy to put on especially compared to the duct tape. Unfortunately, his back hoof is not the same size as his front hoof - it's just a bit smaller. So, when I let him out for a brief turn-out in one of the dry pastures in back, he got excited and jumped around it took about three minutes for him to kick off his back boot and rip part of it by jumping on it. Damnit. I had run out of elastic wrap gauze bandage so I had to to pack his hoof with fresh gauze and put the boot back on over that and put him back in his stall. Tomorrow I'll duct tape the broken boot and put a thicker wrap of bandage on to hold it on better. Regardless of whether or not they work for turn-out, they will at least keep his hooves dryer than duct tape and perhaps if one of them isn't completely ruined I'll have one for the future if I ever need one again. The front one seems to be fine because it fits perfectly. Of course, I say that now - I may show up at the stable tomorrow and see they've both been kicked off and pummeled. At least he probably won't chew them because Trainer K. loaned me some spray called Bitter Yuck (literally - that's what it's called). Which (duh) smells really awful and tastes even worse apparently. The good news is that after a couple days of thrush treatment his other two hooves look just fine. I'm still going to keep doing the thrush medicine though just to be safe.

I feel like after all this having to mess with his feet and put him through so much that Sinatra and I are bonding a little more. He has been a little more affectionate with me. But at the same time he has also been a little more bratty with me. He has started balking before going into the grooming room again even when he first goes back into his stall now. And he really doesn't want to go into the wash room because he's had such bad experiences in there. Today's was a bit better. He didn't freak out over his feet so badly, although when I went to pick up his back left leg he lifted his right leg to kick and got quite a reprimand for that (even if his right leg was on the other side of his body so there was no way he could physically have pulled off kicking me.

He did get in a really good bite though which got him another big smack on the side of the nose. This time it really hurt because I wasn't wearing sleeves. My parents were out visiting the barn to watch my daughter's riding lesson, and my mom heard me yell, "Ouch! Goddammnit, Sinatra!" and she rushed over to ask what was wrong and I said he'd bit me and she got very worried, but he was nipping at me, not trying to take a chunk out of me. That is a big difference that I forget to explain to my friends who are used to dogs - Sinatra doesn't try to bit with his mouth wide open, he nips. Which hurts bad enough but isn't quite as bad as if he tried to bite like a dog with his full mouth. Regardless, it still left a nice big, raised blue bruise. Little shit. It was the second time I had to step away and take a deep breath because I was so angry. This experience is a really good at helping me build patience. Of course, tomorrow I'll go back to take care of him and be all swooney over him again.

My daughter's lesson went really well apparently, but I only got to watch a minute of it after I was done with Sinatra's feet and took him out to eat some grass outside the arena so I could peak in at her lesson. Trainer V. said that Tiny started acting up and my daughter started getting frustrated and crying and said she couldn't get Tiny to mind her. I don't recall exactly what Trainer V. said that she said to my daughter but apparently she took a minute, then took a deep breath and tried again and this time succeeded in what she was trying to do. I think she said she was trying to get her to trot and Tiny kept trying to take off with her. But Trainer V. said it was a big turn around for my daughter to stop spiraling down the "everything sucks and I can't do it!" path and pull it together and calm down and keep trying. That's a huge lesson in life - not just with riding! I don't think I learned lesson until well into my thirties. It'd be nice if my daughter could learn it as a child.

Meanwhile my 80-year old dad had gravitated toward the paddock where Tuff Toad was turned out. I told him about how she was a retired a race horse and was for sale. He muttered something about it not being too late to get his first horse. Of course he wouldn't buy her but he seemed to really like her. When I told my mom she was for sale for $500 she said, "That's just insane! That horse should be $5,000 at least." It would be so cool if my parents bought Tuff Toad and hired Trainer V. to work her for the next couple years until she's calmed down ... I do not need another horse. I do not need another horse. I do not need another horse. My mom was saying when we got there that she lives too far away to come all the way out for lessons and she's going to wait until they sell their house and move to the Eastside, but after a couple hours out there she was saying how she can't wait to start taking lessons again. She was having fun helping my daughter groom Tiny and when I said that my daughter should be doing that, Trainer V. spoke up and said, "I think your mom *wants* to be doing it."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Doing the "We Prevailed!" Dance

I went out yesterday to check on Sinatra and his duct tape bandages were holding up well so I decided to hold off changing them until today. I put an extra outer layer of duct tape on for good measure and cleaned his other two hooves and put some thrush medicine on them.

So, today was the day I had to try soaking his feet and changing out the bandages myself. Luckily, I gave Trainer V. a ride to the stable so she was there for back-up. I did pretty well with the soaking after a few huge failed attempts to get the boot on his front foot. The back foot went better. I only had one failed attempt where he jerked his back leg out of my hand and stomped on the front tip of my boot. Literally, I felt his hoof graze my toe and I had to give him a little slap on he rump and tell him in no uncertain terms that stomping his foot down on my foot was not ok. I was not overly confident I would make it through my task without getting kicked, but I figured as long as I stayed out of the front/back kick zone I could minimize the damage.

As it goes, I came out unscathed and so did Sinatra, all our first aid supplies, the Davis soaking boot and the wash room. I was surprised at how well he did actually. As long as I stayed in there with him he didn't try to kick the soaking boot off, and he was very cooperative about rinsing out his abscess with betadine and then putting on he espson salt goo, the gauze pads and the elastic bandage. The problem came when I had to wrap it in duct tape and he flipped out again. I had just let him sniff the duct tape and tore off some pieces to show him it was ok, but as soon as I started wrapping his foot with it he must've remembered Tuesday's panic attack because he started hopping in a circle with me holding his leg. Luckily, he calmed down much more quickly and ended up all we needed was two people - me to hold his leg and Trainer V. to wrap. So, he wasn't quite as calm as I'd hoped because I couldn't wrap it alone because I had to have a vice grip on his leg with two hands, but at least he didn't totally freak about it. And once again he was calmer about the duct tape on the back leg, although on that one too once I got to the duct tape part I had to hold his leg with both hands while Trainer V. wrapped it and the first couple passes of wrap he tried to hop away in a circle and we had to just go with him holding his leg.

And then we were done! Phwew! I'm not so worried any more about doing that. And hopefully tomorrow will be much easier because I ordered some Easyboot Gloves for the two feet that need to be wrapped. The farrier said he was a bad candidate for boots because he's such a chewer so I should stick with duct tape, but I really want him to start being able to go out on turn-out for his sanity (and to get him out of his stall and standing in the corner where he pees). So, I thought it was probably prudent not to beg her to bring me some because then it would come out of the rescue's pocket (and they can't afford to pay for boots that will get chewed up). So, I figured I could buy them and of course then in the future if my horse gets an abscess I'll already have them. Assuming he doesn't chew them up. But I feel ethically better gambling my own money on the boots than the rescue's money. And I have a feeling with all his chew toys he won't be as tempted to chew the boots. So far he has left the duct tape on his feet alone. I'll just learn an expensive lesson if he does chew them.

A couple good things that will come out of this are (besides that thrush and an abscess are so much easier to treat than a re-occurring soft tissue injury). One is, I am gaining much more confidence in working with a young horse's feet. It's pretty intimidating to try and pick up the back feet of an ancy young horse who is going to try and yank their foot away from you, but I'm getting better at it and making sure I keep my body out of the kick zone and be careful where my feet are so it's harder for him to stomp his foot down on my foot. The other good thing is that Sinatra is going to be a lot better about having his feet handled!

Here is a photo of Sinatra at his old foster home before he went lame. I need to take some photos of him to start posting myself. I don't have any of him except for two at the vet facility where he went after his last foster home. I keep forgetting to take the camera out to the stable. But he's so cute. The owner of the stable said today, "You know, he's such a messy horse but I just can't help but like him even though I don't like the messy horses because I clean their stalls. But I just like him. There's something about him." Trainer T. said today that he looks like a "mythical creature". The owner's wife said the other day that she passed his stall and he had just woken up from sleeping and was still lying down and she almost expected to see a unicorn horn coming out of his forehead. Even my husband likes him and he has not really shown much interest in any of the horses, especially not my horse.

Speaking of great horses that don't get enough credit (I'm thinking of my horse because of the lack of people wanting to ride her at our old barn), the retired thoroughbred Tuff Toad is for sale. I tell ya, if I had a lot of expendable income I would buy her and share her with T. who leases Girlfriend. T. really wants to buy her and her boyfriend was even into that idea, but they just can't afford the monthly board. Too bad because I want someone local to adopt her who will really love her and work with her five times a week like she needs. She'll be an amazing horse if she finds someone like that. The photos in her listing for sale don't even remotely do justice to what a beautiful horse she is. And even though she's really hot (she's also only 4 years old and had more race track training than dressage training so she'll calm down as she ages and gets more training) she's also very sweet and loves to say hi and get snuggles when I pass by her stall. I bet she'll be like Girlfriend after a lot more training - still spirited and hot but sweet and willing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Surely someone is leaving this situation bleeding

Today has convinced me that if I ever did want to be a large animal veterinarian I now do not. It is so not my calling. Not that I really ever thought it was but now I feel even more convinced of it.

The vet came out to check Sinatra and see if she could tell if his lameness is starting to subside. The plan had been that he would get a lameness check and see if he could go out in turn-out again. I hadn't cleaned his hooves since last Friday and then they seemed a little softer than usual, but I've also never dealt with a barefoot horse so other things were unusual like his frog sluffing off and that looked horrendous to me, but is apparently normal. Today when I was cleaning his feet they seemed really soft so I asked Dr. H. to check all of them first. And sure enough he has thrush. Ugh. Bad foster mom. But what was more upsetting is he has an abscess in his front left foot (which is the one he was limping on the worst) and thrush so bad in his back left foot that it started bleeding when I cleaned it. Which would explain why he tried to kick me when I cleaned that foot. Which ended up being nothing compared to the rest of the afternoon.

So, while Dr. H. was getting the supplies to clean out his feet and then soak them in epson salts I was convinced I was a horrible, negligent foster mom and she was going to have to call the rescue and tell them to take the horse away from me. Luckily, a couple other people in the barn assured me that horses get thrush and abscesses without being horribly neglected. So, of course I told Dr. H. that I was afraid she was going to have to tell the rescue I'm a bad foster mom and she scoffed at me and said I'm doing fine. Still, I feel bad that I was not able to recognize the thrush sooner. The abscess I can forgive myself because that was harder to find, but even though I've read about thrush I'd never seen it in person. At least now I know what to look for.

Cleaning out the abscess was a major pain in the butt for Dr. H. Sinatra is not too keen on having his feet messed with to begin with but having them messed with when they hurt was definitely awful for him. I spent a lot of time petting him and talking to him but he doesn't know me and trust me like Girlfriend does yet so it wasn't that effective, I don't think. I have found a place near his forelock that if I massage it, it will calm him down for a little bit though.

Then it was time to go in the washroom and soak his feet and of course, he balked at the washroom and set us back at least 20 minutes. After trying a variety of things he finally when in when Dr. H. pulled out the big guns and swung a lead rope behind his butt and he finally acquiesced. Getting the Davis boot on to soak his foot was a bit of an issue which almost sent Dr. H. flying a few times. After she got it on and filled it with water we both left the wash room - her to put away some stuff and me to get something (I don't remember what) and Sinatra completely freaked out. So, I went back in to calm him down. I was surprised, he was rearing and thrashing about, but the minute I walked back into the stall he calmed right down. He kept looking at me with these wild eyes but his breathing went back to normal and he sighed a couple times.

Dr. H. came back with gauze, epson rub and duct tape and showed me how to put the epson rub on his foot and where to put the gauze and how to wrap it. Sinatra was being a bit of a butt and trying to pull his foot away, but then things went crazy when Dr. H. started ripping off pieces of duct tape. After the first piece he tried to pull his foot away, but she didn't want to drop his foot and get the bandage wet (and have to start all over again), so he started kicking his back feet and yanked his head away from me and spun himself around so that he was pinned in the corner with his right side against the front wall and his butt smashed up against the side wall of the wash room. So, Dr. H. smashed her body against his so he was pinned against the wall and I grabbed his halter to hold his head down so he wouldn't rear and he shook and kicked the wall while she finished wrapping duct tape around the bandage on his hoof. That's when I thought, "Surely someone is leaving this situation bleeding ... it could end no other way!" But it ended just fine with none of us bleeding or even broken (thank god!). It was one of those situations where massaging his forelock and talking quietly too him really didn't seem to help much. Although maybe it helped a little. When I could reach his forelock when he wasn't pulling his head away and flailing.

After that we let him rest while Dr. H. took a break to go get something and I stayed in the wash room with him and let him play with the duct tape and kept tearing pieces off to show him the sound wouldn't hurt him. By the time Dr. H. came back I was standing right next to his hind leg pulling pieces of duct tape off over and over again and he didn't care anymore. We expected wrapping his hind leg to be much worse but in fact it was much better since he knew by then the duct tape wasn't going to hurt him.

Dr. H. said, "He'll probably behave better for you," but I am dubious. I'm not looking forward to changing out his bandages tomorrow. I'm thinking of taking my friend, Scientist-Girl for moral support because she doesn't have anything to do until she has to present a paper in the afternoon. I have permission to wait until the farrier comes out as long as it's not more than two day but since I haven't heard back from her today I fear she might be out of town. And I have to change them out Thursday at the latest. I will check on him in the morning, check the bandages, wash off the other two hooves and see if they look like they should be changed or if I can hold off until Thursday. I also have the worst headache tonight because all that set off my strained muscles in my shoulder/neck strain. But some naproxen and a heating pad should take care of that. And hopefully I'll be back to normal tomorrow.

I went for my six week check-back today with my doctor about my shoulder/neck strain and she was very happy with the improvement since I was last there. I also got the results of my annual physical blood test and everything is working perfectly and all my levels are perfect. So, that was good news. It looks like both my and Sinatra's stall rests are just about over!

So, once Sinatra gets some EasyBoots to keep his feet dry he can start going out on turn-out again. After some investigating it looks like the main cause of thrush is because he always pees in one spot in his stall and then he stands in that spot. So, turn out is going to be better for him. After his big ordeal with Dr. H. I took him outside to eat some grass, then let him out in the first paddock by the barn which was totally dry (and dries out faster than the pastures because it's a bit elevated and has amazing drainage). He seemed very happy and only jumped and bucked a couple times. Then he went over to talk to the horses in the pasture next door and walked around and stretched his legs and even had a nice long roll. He seemed a lot happier when he got back to his stall.

For my relaxation, I picked up my daughter and went straight to a cafe in town where my friends meet weekly to do art. Scientist-Girl and her daughter were there too so the kids ran off to look at comic books and us adults sat around and talked and drew pictures and had a lovely time. I'm practicing drawing horses for my project I want to do - portraits of rescue horses that hopefully someday will be good enough to sell with the proceeds going to local horse rescues. Right now I'm just working on pictures out of horse magazines. Here's one of my rough practice starts. I've been playing around with water colors and I don't actually know what I'm doing. But I figure it can only get better.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Far too tired to write anything really

I am actually very tired and shouldn't even be bothering to try and update my blog. But I am happy to say that the first four raised beds in the community garden are all set up and ready to go. I bought some strawberry starts yesterday and planted my hot pepper starts that have been taking forever to grow in my windowsill. I also planted cucumber and carrot seeds. I was wondering if I should water them or if it might rain tonight and as luck would have it, it started to rain right when I went in to make dinner.

I left one raised bed for my neighbor SF to use for her very first garden ever. She bought some seeds and wanted me to help her plant them, but our schedules just are not coinciding. So, I left a message for which garden bed is hers and instructed her to just read the directions on the seed packs. That's all I do. I really don't know much about gardening yet, people just think I do because I read all the directions. I'm just excited that some of my neighbors are showing an interest in gardening too. In fact, my next door neighbor's new wife was lugging a tree out to the front yard today! Yay! New tree! I probably got a little too excited about that.

I went to another neighbor's party on Friday night with my daughter and other than the hosts we really didn't know everyone. But we both had a great time (of course kids always make friends instantly) but what surprised me was that I had a good time too. A lot of people went out of their way to introduce themselves to me because they did not recognize me and knew I was a new person. That really impressed me! A good portion of the people were old friends of the hosts' from Nigeria and a few families were from other countries like India and I believe Guyana was mentioned too. It reminded me what a positive impact just a little bit of open-ness and friendliness can have. Just having one or two people at the party take the time to introduce themselves was encouraging. But having so many people do that was really inspiring.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Flying pigs and snowcones in Hell

I've been talking so much about Sinatra lately and not a lot about my horse, Girlfriend.  I will say quickly that Sinatra really pissed me off today.  I was visiting with him in his stall and he kept trying to nibble at me and I raised my hand to push his nose away, wasn't paying close enough attention and he grabbed my forefinger on my right hand in his mouth and bit down! Ouch! I of course yelled really loud at him and tried to pull my finger away and for a split second he wouldn't let go and I was afraid he'd bite it off. Then he let go and ooops ... I smacked him really hard on the side of face with my left hand.  I was so angry that I had to forcibly restrain myself from hauling off and beating him - which would be counter-productive and abusive.  I took a couple minutes to try and just pet him and set firm boundaries with him about not nibbling my hands but my finger was throbbing and the desire to pummel him was too strong so I had to just leave his stall.  I remember reading somewhere "If you are that angry you have lost and nothing you do will be productive until you are no longer so angry" and I agree with that.  My finger is a little swollen and I have the tiniest tear on the skin but now a few hours later it's like it never happened. So I was lucky!  And it is a reminder to always be very careful with where my fingers are at around his head.

So, on to my "when pigs fly" story.  I had my first lesson in two months today and as I figured it kicked my butt.  We are working on my dressage seat which means my stirrups need to be longer and my legs need to be back farther and my toes need to face straight forward.  Sure, doesn't sound like a big deal, huh? Aargh.  It's like doing isometric exercises on a moving horse.  Holding my body in that position even at a walk for ten minutes made me break a sweat.  It's like ballet - you would think it wouldn't hurt so bad to hold those positions but it does.  This is what I'm aspiring for and believe me, unless you are my instructor reading this, you or I could not make that horse move like that if we were the ones on him.  It takes a lot of work to ride like that.

Anyway, we worked the beginning of the lesson on my legs and then Trainer V. said that my reins were way too loose and this is not a Western class so I was going to ride Girl like a dressage horse.  Normally, my experience with my super-hot-ex-gaming horse is that the shorter the reins, the faster she wants to go.  But with my legs in this new longer, extended (painful) position she was so incredibly quiet and calm that I was willing to give it a try.  So Trainer V. had me shorten the reins way freakishly shorter than I've ever ridden girl and showed me how to move my hands to encourage her to collect and next thing you now Girlfriend is on the bit and collected and moving at this smooth, prancing walk! Oh my god! ("on the bit" and "collected" refers to holding the bit comfortably in her mouth and responding to it and not straining on it and moving her body is an ergonomically correct way).  Then we worked on keeping her like that transitioning from walk to trot and back to walk.  That was pretty hard because as soon as she'd trot my legs would go forward, Trainer V. would tell me to keep my leg back, I'd try to move my leg back and sit back on my butt instead and that is one of my aids for telling Girl to stop.  So for the first time ever I was having trouble keeping her moving instead of slowing her down! For the first time in the whole almost four years I've had Girl, she felt like one of the beginner dressage horses from my old barn!

Then the issue of my locked shoulders came up and Trainer V. told me that she was going to lead Girl while I worked on my position and relaxed my shoulders.  She told me to shake my whole body out and pretend I was drunk and about to pass out and flop right off the horse.  I was having trouble at first because she was barely holding the reins and I thought for sure Girlfriend was going to bolt with this stranger holding her reins instead of me.  But she assured me Girlfriend was still listening to my seat and my leg aids and that all her body language showed she was relaxed and obedient.  I had to close my eyes though in order to really relax and when I finally did Trainer V. gave me back the reins, which caused my shoulders to immediately lock up again.  I said I couldn't seem to fully relax unless my eyes were shut and Trainer V. said, "Well, shut your eyes then. I will walk right next to you and tell you where to go so you don't run into anything,"  So I did!  Girlfriend was being so incredibly good that I just shut my eyes and rode in a circle with her with Trainer V. telling me when to turn!  I was just so amazed!  You'd have to know my horse to realize what a huge change it is that she was so calm and relaxed and not hot.  Of course, I worry now that something is wrong with her because that's so not like her.  But just last week I got on her and galloped around the arena a couple times so I know she's still her old self.

I need to remember that this is just with me though and also T. who leases her.  It's tempting to let beginners ride her now but after her throwing one of my friends who didn't really know how to ride a couple years ago I just don't want to risk it.  It could actually be that my riding is improving too.  Trainer V. has told me I'm a better rider than I think I am.  Perhaps she is right.  Regardless, I'm going to need to take some naproxen and maybe take a

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Maybe I needed that motivational seminar

I was glad that I didn't go to work yesterday and all my co-workers, including the interns were headed off to Eastern WA for meetings because apparently the traffic was just horrible in downtown Seattle because of a big motivational seminar at Key Arena with lots of celebrities.  I really don't like motivational seminars.  Nor do I like "team building exercises" in corporate settings.  I think they are a waste of time and are just a vehicle for charismatic or famous people to make a quick buck.  I think they feed our society's need for a quick fix.  Just like new fad diets and the Suze Orman type's "if you do my special however-many-step program and save however much percentage of your income in this certain type of investment, you will be able to control the universe and nothing bad will ever happen to you and everything will be in your control - and of course you can retire at age 45."

My poor husband was stuck in the crazy traffic twice waiting for his very, very late bus both going to and coming home from work.  Yuck.  Poor guy.

Meanwhile, I had to take the girl to her first eye doctor appointment and was very happy to find that her eyes are very healthy and she has 20/20 vision.  Much like me when I was her age before I got old and started to need reading glasses.  She was very interested in the charts showing the inside of the eye and where the optic nerves are and all that.  After that we went to meet an old friend at a coffee shop where she goes with her husband once a week to draw.  I took a backpack of art supplies and it was very nice and relaxing.  And the mother of one of my daughter's good friends just happened to be there too which was a big coincidence.  My daughter loved getting to sit and do art with all the adults.

So, I have been feeling the pull of lack of motivation myself.   I think part of it is I'm going to bed too late and not getting enough sleep. And part of it is having been sick for the last ten days with an energy sapping cold.  But I feel like everything that is "supposed to get done" is crushing down on me and I keep just wanting to lay down on the couch and not do anything.  So, it's not like I can't relate to the feeling that one should go to a motivational seminar.  It's just that I don't think they do any good. They get you all pumped up and then you just go back to what you were doing before.

My attempt to get out of my slump-of-lack-of-motivation is to schedule out my time in order to get all these tasks done.  If I know I have to be somewhere at a certain time it is much more motivating so if I know I have x-amount of time to say "get the seeds for the raised beds planted" or "get the office cleaned up" or "this is my work time to work on my next novel"  it makes it easier to focus and get it done. So, for today I'm going to say that after physical therapy I am going to come home and clean up the house.  Then I'm going to plant the seeds in the raised beds that I want to get planted before it is too late in the season. 

Tomorrow after volunteering at school I'm going to work on my paid-work assuming that my co-worker gets back to me with the contact information for one of the people I need to talk to so I have enough information to do the project.  Then I have a riding lesson, then I will work on organizing the house a little more, with a focus on my office.  See, if I write that out and follow that it is easier to achieve.  And then just getting moving helps me stay moving.

I'd like to know what has caused me to become so lazy lately.  Honestly, I think it is because I was so unhappy in the city and working so hard on trying to figure out how to get out and into a life I was more comfortable with, that now that I achieved it I feel like just relaxing and not doing anything and resting.  Which is not practical when I am supposed to be doing stay-at-home mom chores and taking care of my foster horse and taking care of my daughter and working part-time. 

On that note - I am rallying and getting up and getting ready to go to PT and get my day started.  And see, I did this without spending hundreds of dollars on listening to celebrities or clogging up traffic getting to a huge arena.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I'm near the end of the cold that wiped out all my energy last week.  That's a big relief!  One of the nice outcomes is that I rested a lot and that has helped my shoulder/neck strain quite a bit.  I quit taking the naproxen and am a little sore just from gardening again this weekend, but still feel like I'm on the mend. Working on my posture has really helped a lot, way more than I realized it would.  I find myself at all sorts of points through the day realizing I'm slumping in that awful way I do and remembering to pull my shoulder blades down and back and it's amazing the pressure that is taken off my scm and scalenes. Plus, when I catch myself in my reflection slumping like that it's kind of horrifying so I'm using vanity to remember to work on my posture too.  Plus, I don't want my daughter to have the awful posture that I've had for so long.

I just read an article in Scientific American about how there is conclusive research to show that facial expressions and body postures really *do* subtly affect our moods and dispositions toward things. And standing up straighter does make me feel a little more clear-headed, in control and confident.  Or maybe just not having neck pain makes me feel that way ... I guess there's that.  In all it is a good thing on many levels.

Although, I was feeling awfully sluggish this morning and as though it was difficult to get off the couch and be proacive toward ... something.  So, I rallied and got my lazy butt up and went out to check on Sinatra.  He seemed to be doing very well.  I took him out for a walk and Madios (Trainer K.'s horse) was turned out in the front pasture.  Madios is all about playing and so is Sinatra so the two of them could get really wild and have a lot of fun together - if Sinatra weren't back on total stall rest with just brief walks.  So, I tried to walk Sinatra past Madios's pasture and he wanted to stop and go see him, which I didn't allow. So, he did that little kid thing and lowered his butt, put his nose straight up in the air and started to back up.  I immediately said, "Whoooa, calm down. Knock it off," firmly, but my reaction was to hold on tight to the lead rope to stop him.  Trainer K. just happened to be at her car and said, "Let go of the lead rope some. Follow him as he moves back," so I let the lead rope go slack and walked toward him and he stopped backing up, brought his hind quarters back up and relaxed his body. Phwew! So glad Trainer K. is around in the mornings and Trainer V. is around in the afternoons to pop up at times like that! 

Then what impressed me was that Sinatra relaxed his whole body, sighed and followed me calmly all the way along the fence past Madios and didn't try anything again - while meanwhile Madios is jumping and galloping around and calling to Sinatra to play.  He's such a good kid!  Being a white horse he was covered in dirt and it really showed so I took him in the grooming area to work on grooming him.  I also worked on picking up his feet which is a bit of an issue right now.  He tries to move all over the place to keep you from getting up to his feet to pick them up to begin with.  Then at first he'll push his foot down like he doesn't want you to pick it up until he knows you mean business, then he'll let you pick up his foot but immediately start trying to yank it away from you. Previously, he was better with his back feet but today he was being a real butt about me picking them up.  I don't envy the farrier - who needs to come out pretty soon actually.  At least he's better than last month when he tried a few times to bite me in the back or the butt.  Finally I got so mad when he got a good hold of my shirt that I just stayed where I was holding his foot and pushed my elbow backward and bonked him on the nose.  He hasn't tried to bite me again when I pick up his feet though so that's good.

I stayed a little bit and had a talk with Penny's owner and Trainer K. about how we react to our horses and their weird eccentricities.  I've almost forgotten that Girlfriend was considered a hard horse to ride for the first three years I've had her because of all the young horses with strong personalities at this stable.  And after Sinatra and his four year old antics, Girlfriend is so calm and easy in everything we do. And after Rolls and his spooks riding her seems so calm and easy.  But we were talking about how both me and Penny's owners had initially been very "oh poor baby" about spooks with our horses because that is our natural instinct.  But how luckily my old instructor at the other stable broke me of that habit quickly because she said it reinforces the spooking behavior.   But then it came up how to go the other direction and beat the horse into submission and terrify them was a bad idea too.  I said that I'd met some people who claimed to do Natural Horsemanship but they did a lot of chasing their horses and whipping them and beating them and terrifying them.  Trainer K. said she just hates Natural Horsemanship and I was surprised to hear that because I thought both Trainer K. and Trainer V. both practiced what I *thought* was Natural Horsemanship.  I thought that NH was where you understood the horse and its behavior and learned a way to communicate with the horse so that he respects you as the leader and behaves out of a wish to please you, the leader.  That is how they train their horses - repetition, consistent and firm boundaries and lots of patience. 

But Trainer K. said, "That's what it was twenty years ago but now with the likes of Parelli is just a circus show all about becoming the horse, and chasing the horse and scaring it into submission."  She and Penny's owner told me about a few things they'd seen at Parelli instruction clinics - like how if a horse doesn't come to you in the pasture you chase them to show them who's boss (WTF???)  I said as a prey animal doesn't chasing them in an aggressive manner show them who's predator? And Trainer K. said, "Exactly."  I can't say from experience myself because I started to read some Parelli stuff and within a few paragraphs was thinking, "What are you talking about? Is my horse left brained or right brained and we have to make these diagrams and decide what box my horse fits into - what the hell is that?"  It makes so much more sense to me to learn how horses think and experience the world and then tailor my communication to each individual horse, instead of wasting time with these dumb diagrams and labels.

It just makes me think of how Natural Horsemanship has become a brand name to put on snake oil.  Just like how being a "naturopathic doctor" used to mean looking at the whole person and all the systems and really being wholistic with each individual and tailoring their health treatment to their individual needs.  Nowdays all being a "naturopathic doctor" entails seems to be telling everyone they're allergic to wheat, to take way too much Vitamin D without checking the blood levels and telling them to only take herbal supplements instead of Western medicine (while claiming you can't overdose on them and herbal supplements have no side effects).  A bitter little part of me, I must say, is not surprised that naturopathic medicine, Natural Horsemanship and many once legitimate practices have gone the way of just being a trade name or brand name to sell a cheap, shoddy, imitation product. Our country does seem to love it's shallow, cheap expendable commodities.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A bit of a backslide

Sinatra is limping again today and I'm sad and frustrated about that.  Will the poor guy ever get over his lameness?  The good news is his feet just might be sore because he's been in the stall so much and he went a little crazy today in the rehab paddock and he might have just made himself a little sore.  We'll see over the weekend, when he's stuck staying in his stall again for the whole day without any turn-out.

He was being such a good boy today too.  I got to the barn and there were FIVE new horses being unloaded! Wow! Apparently, thirteen new horses are coming and will be living in the second barn which has so far been unused since I've been there.  I was a little worried that it would be too crowded and I'd never get to ride in the arena, but it sounds like they don't have a ton of students and are more horse trainers than human trainers.  And they have a training round pen for that too.  The other trainers are not at all concerned so I will go by their example.

Despite all the new horses coming in Sinatra was nice and quiet and showed a lot of interest in the new horses, but wasn't being unruly at all.  He's such a steady, calm little guy.  I really like that about him.  I just hope his legs will heal and he'll be strong and able to run and play without pain and do all the things he should be able to do.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Still plodding along

I am wasting time for another hour until I can take some night time cold medicine and go to bed.  I have to wait until enough time has passed from taking the day time cold medicine before taking the night time one. Sigh.  Thus has been my life for the last five days.

I did manage to rally and go to the barn to see my horses for a little bit this afternoon.  I was just going to drop off some supplements for them but I had to take Sinatra out for a little bit and groom him just to spend some time with him.  I really need to wash his tail off because it's filthy, but his one time in the wash room he was very anxious and I knew I didn't have time nor feel well enough to have the patience to help him get used to that room.  As it is, I was talking to my instructor and she went outside of the barn to smoke, and I started to follow her to finish what I was saying, but as soon as I left the grooming room Sinatra had a little panic attack and started calling to me and rearing.  My instructor gave me some pointers on how to deal with that and told me not to go back immediately but to stay where I was and very firmly say "Whooooa, you're fine."  He was much calmer after five minutes and then I went back.  I had a moment where I thought, "I just can't wait to try riding him!"  Which is good because a month ago he was being so stubborn and high maintenance I was thinking I never wanted to try riding him.

He's put on a bit of weight already after six weeks at our barn - and six weeks of stall rest and no work.  It doesn't look bad, in fact it makes him look a little more filled out and healthy.  Trainer K. says that she had a Saddlebred that had a huge growth spurt at five years old so Sinatra may still get taller.  I definitely think he is not done filling out yet, he's still so slight.  And Trainer K.'s horse had been starved at a young age too and it had slowed his growth. So who knows.  Right now Sinatra would be the perfect size for my daughter once he's older and calmer and she's got a couple more years of experience with horses.  But that is still an unknown.  For now I am his foster mom, not his owner. Although, I am getting really attached to him.

I am sad to see now that Girlfriend has shed her winter coat that she is really starting to show her age.  I'm going to up her weight gain supplements but honestly, I think it's because she's 27 years old that her back is getting more swayed and her haunches are looking bony.  She doesn't look skinny like a starved horse, she's just starting to look like an old horse.  And of course, I don't want her to be an old horse because I want her to live forever.  I have been saying that I will stop riding her when she's 30 years old, but now that it is less than two years away the reality is really looming in front of me.  I think I'll feel better about it when my cold-plague is gone and I can ride her more because riding her makes her seem like a ten year old horse at most.

I really hope I feel better tomorrow.  Laying around and slowly trying to get what little I can done despite feeling horrible is starting to wear on my nerves.  Yesterday I drug my sorry ass to work because I had to get some stuff done after staying home all last week with my daughter,  and I was just miserable.  Finally after all but one of my co-workers left for meetings in Eastern WA I was going to make my coffee and my remaining co-worker said, "You shouldn't drink so much coffee when you're sick.  You should go lie down in the boss's office instead."  So I laid down on the boss's couch and dozed off immediately and didn't wake up for a half hour when the mail carrier showed up.  Ugh.