Sunday, March 31, 2013

Back to a life of leisure ...

Aka back to the life of unemployment.  I got laid off on Wednesday because apparently there was a girl who really wanted my job and had been asking my boss to find a way to get rid of me since the week I started and he finally decided to do it.  She starts on Monday so they had to have me gone by Friday.  At least for my self-esteem they were honest about it and said I had done nothing wrong they just wanted to give her a job and mine was the one to give her.  So, my self-esteem is intact but my income is non-existent.  I'm very frustrated about that. VERY frustrated, like to the point I can't even talk about it without getting really upset.  So with that in mind I'll leave it with I am sending out resumes and making myself open to all opportunities from working off board for my horses at a barn as opposed to a "real job" to completely changing fields to whatever accounting job may come along that feels right.  To the most horrible of possibilities - giving up my horses because if I can't find a job that lasts longer than two months I won't be able to afford them.  And I already gave up going to help my sister-in-law in August with her new baby because I can't afford airfare and they can't afford to buy it for me.  I'm bitter about that.  OK, I'm just bitter all around.  And I think I'm cursed.  And I need to definitely not talk about this right now.

In the rest of my life things are going great.  My friends and family have been very emotionally supportive and there's been a lot of "check up on J." and "let's cheer J. up" going on which has been lovely.  I went rock climbing with Trainer K., M. and another friend, T.I. from the barn on Friday and that was a blast.   T.I. is an excellent climber and it was fun to have her coaching Trainer K. instead of the other way around.   A couple times she shouted up to Trainer K. to do something that is similar to what Trainer K. tells us - like "pull your elbows in to help your center of gravity" and both M. and I would chuckle.  I had a lot of fun but I over did it a little with my back still healing and I had to spend some serious heating pad time yesterday.

Yesterday they had an Easter celebration at church and my daughter got to meet her first real live baby bunny.  She loves bunnies in general and of course sees the wild ones running around outside our house in the summer and has a lot of stuffed bunnies but she's never had the opportunity to hold one and she was hooked!  We also learned how to dye Easter eggs with natural dyes by boiling tumeric and onions and cabbage and blueberries (separately of course).  Then you wrap the eggs tightly in some old nylons and you can put in little flowers or moss or little tiny cedar cuttings and make really cool designs on the eggs.  I am never buying commercial egg dye again - it was so cool!

After that I met my friend, Lisa, at the kid's horse riding school she works at and keeps her horse at so that I could meet her horse, DJ.   I've known Lisa long before I got back into horses but we never seem to find time to hang out even though she lives in the small suburban town right next to mine.  We took a lovely long walk down the path that runs along the Sammamish Slough searching for somewhere to get espresso (which was freakishly hard to find ...???)   We finally ended up at The Barking Frog and I commented bitterly on how "Oh, there's a restaurant I will never be able to afford to eat at the rate things are going." But we did agree they probably have espresso and stopped in and got some to go.  I also got to meet The Herbfarm pigs who were incredibly cute (another restaurant I can never afford to eat at the rate I'm going with bad job luck). 

I helped Lisa with some barn chores back at the school, like bagging hay for breakfast the next day and turning out a couple horses.  I made the mistake of saying I'd take the "problem horse" Chip because he's a school horse and all.  I should've thought twice when they had to unlock a padlock on his paddock gate.  Hmmmm ...   Anyway, he was a little bouncy at first but I stopped him and made him back up so he wasn't rushing ahead of me.  But as we got close to the pasture he was being turned out in he jumped and bolted and I did a little waterski move for a moment and he had to twirl around because I was still holding the lead rope.  I scolded him and got in front of him as fast as I could but he kept trying to push in front of me.  Meanwhile Lisa was yelling from the pasture, "Are you OK? Do you need help?" and I felt like such a dork!  I finally got in front of him and told him in no uncertain terms he was not getting let loose in the pasture until he behaved.  So he walked in nicely, bolted in front of me and started eating grass.  So he got a slap in the chest, raised his head and looked at me like I was the devil, reached over to nip me and I poked his face away and held his head up until he finally sighed and stood quietly and then I took his halter off.  And of course he turned tail and took off with a dramatic "screw you!" swing of his tail.  I was very embarrassed and felt like I had really screwed that up but Lisa was very sweet and said, "You've obviously been handling horses a lot lately."

My reward was getting to ride a school horse named Beetle who I immediately took too because he had a sweet look in his eye but he was also very mischevious and would try to unzip your coat and stick his nose in to find treats (if you let him) and was like a little trickster kid.  The instructors didn't like him and I can see where that would be hard for beginners, but there's something to be said for a nice lesson horse who will put up with beginners to begin with.  I got on him and he stretched his neck out and brought his back right up and had the most lovely walk.  Then we trotted and he did the same thing - his neck nice and stretched out and he listened to my leg really well and I had the reins down to the buckle (where the reins meet) most of the ride.  I didn't even have to adjust the reins because he didn't bring his head up.

I stopped and commented to Lisa and one of the teen instructors what a lovely horse he is and the teen snorted and rolled her eyes and Lisa said, "He's being strangely good today," and immediately, he decided he was going to wander over to the other horse in the arena and not listen to me.  I was warned not to let him near the other horse because he'd bite and harass him, so I actually had to ride him and tell him not to do that instead of sitting comfortably up there just letting him stretch and trot and move off a light leg.  Then when I had dropped the stirrups and was stretching my legs and tried to take him to the middle to dismount he decided he didn't want to listen to me again so we had to ride a little longer than I'd intended so we could end on a good note.  But he was a lovely little horse.  I guess if I was trying to teach beginners on him I'd get frustrated but he was so solid and safe feeling I just loved him.  He's a lot like Maiden but moved off the leg much better than she does right now - but she's learning and if I keep riding her correctly then I'm sure she will continue to improve quickly.

I've got to get off my butt and go see my own horse this morning, then it's gardening and planting seeds for starts this afternoon.  I meant to do that two weeks ago.  So the one good thing about unemployment is that I can catch up on a lot of projects like my novel and gardening in the next week.

Friday, March 22, 2013

As of today I officially can never eat my horse.

I finally got around to getting Maiden started on her Adequan - which is an injectable medication that will help her with arthritis in her knees and help repair the joints.  I gathered all my first aid stuff - alcohol, cotton balls, syringes, Adequan multi-dose vile in one place finally.  When I was filling the syringe I saw a warning on the bottle "do not give to horses intended for human consumption".  Which always seems really odd in our country since people here don't generally eat horses and as far as I know it's not sold anywhere here.  And it makes me wary of anywhere that does serve horse meat (unless it was some small town in some other country where you saw where they got the horses from) It's because so many kill buyers come to auctions here in Washington State to buy horses really cheap to sell to slaughter in Canada and I guarantee they are not disclosing that the horses most likely have been given all sorts of stuff (dewormers, supplements, etc) that say "do not give to horses intended for human consumption".  That's why it sounds sickening to me - because of all the toxic stuff the horse has been given.  That upsets many of my horse friends (that I'm only horrified about horse meat being toxic - not that it's horse meat), but honestly, I can't say that eating a horse is any worse than eating a cow or pig because that is so horribly unfair to the cow or pig.  Just because you don't have a personal relationship with some being doesn't mean they have any less worth.  I just find it very hypocritical to eat one animal but then be horrified by eating another animal as though they are somehow more valuable than the animals that are eaten.  I think all animals are valuable.

So, I started this blog post last night and then went to bed feeling exhausted.  I woke up numerous times throughout the night for no particular reason and woke up this morning thinking about how tired I still was, wondering how I'm going to fit in all the stuff I need to catch up on around the house with every day in front of me packed with "stuff to do" when my daughter announced "There's snow on the ground!" (on the 2nd day of Spring!).  I hoped for no school but up here in the boonies they're apparently not too worried about an inch of snow that will probably melt by afternoon.  So, I pack my daughter off to the school bus and was literally putting my stuff in my car to leave for work when I get a text saying "If you're nervous about driving you don't have to come in," to which I sent back "I'm not nervous at all but I would LOVE a day off" to which they sent back "Ok - have a good one then!"  Yay! Every now and then just a little surprise like that totally makes my day.  Now I have an extra four hours to catch up on chores and even fit in a little time to sit quietly (with no kids running around) and have my coffee.  I don't get a lot of quiet time these days because I go to work, go to the stable (or run errands) until it's time to pick up my daughter and the girl I babysit after school and then there's no hope for quiet the rest of the day after that.  So I will say again - yay!

I'm really glad I didn't plant anything in my gardens yet.  Not that I would plant starts this soon (I don't even have starts going yet) and I'm not sure how seeds planted before the last frost/snow do.  They probably do fine.  Well, I did plant the three potatoes from my pantry that I forgot to use but that's more of an experiment I'm not too worried about.  One of my "many things to do" on my list is get the community garden beds weeded but obviously that is not happening today.

Maiden is doing well.  I'm glad I put her warmest blanket on yesterday because I heard it was supposed to get cold last night.  We've been having some good rides now that I'm starting to feel a little more comfortable and my sacrum and back aren't hurting as much.  I feel very out of practice and stiff though.  I'm really struggling with posting at the trot (as opposed to posting some other time ...? I guess that was kind of obvious the posting would be at a trot ...).  Anyway,  I'm having trouble doing it correctly.  I think I did not learn it correctly as a kid because my instinct is to "stand up/sit down" which means propelling myself up with the stirrups (which is incorrect).  Since what I remember most about riding as a kid in lessons is jumping I have heard that many hunter/jumper instructors don't really focus on proper posting and that's fine in that discipline.  I don't know if that's true for everyone in hunter/jumper of course.  But then I don't know any other discipline that is as nitpicky and absolutely obsessed with perfection as dressage is - which of course speaks to the OCD accountant side of me.  So, I'm struggling with posting.  And not slouching.  Which is apparently my natural state of being (the whole Gen X thing ... it's in my blood to slouch apparently).

Saturday, March 9, 2013

I'm old ... plus horse teeth and rain rot

Yesterday was my 46th birthday and I was freaking out a little about being so old but now that I'm two days into it and feel about the same and since I didn't magically wake up completely elderly yesterday I think I might be over it.  I went to work in the morning, left a half hour early to have more time to play with Maiden (we had an excellent ride!) and then had some friends over in the evening and just hung out, ate snacks and had a nice time.  My good friend who lives behind us couldn't come over in the evening but she did drop off a nice present and the biggest helium balloon I've ever seen complete with magenta fur fringe.  My husband said it was "quite the pimp-daddy birthday balloon".

This morning I got up and went to my friend's horse rescue to help with some horses that were recently seized in a criminal case that has to remain hush-hush right now because I guess everything is still up in the air.  They have a bunch of new horses who have now been there a few weeks and all they're basically doing is eating and getting medicine until they are a bit more recovered.  But there're so many and such a small staff they are in need of volunteers to help with all the care.

I got there at 10am this morning and was lucky enough to find that all the stalls had recently been picked, breakfast had been fed and mostly eaten and water buckets had been cleaned and filled.  So the coordinator asked if I had experience handling horses and I said yes, so she sent me off to take everyone's blankets off and groom as many as I could and put on their medicine for rain rot.  Rain rot is a fungus that horses get when they are out in the rain non-stop and their skin never fully gets a chance to dry.  Horses who live in a pasture with a shelter will naturally seek shelter in the rain - if not all the time at least some of the time - giving their fur and skin a chance to dry out.  Horses with rain rot haven't had any shelter to go to when it rains and don't have blankets to protect their skin.  Although even with a blanket would you want to be in the rain non-stop with no shelter?

I thought all the horses looked fairly good when I walked into the space where they had set up a bunch of temporary stalls.  But then I started taking their blankets off. (insert very sad face).  And this wasn't even right after the criminal seizure - they'd had some time to put some weight on.  One draft horse looked like he was literally half the size he should be.  He had those big, beautiful, furry draft feet that went up to literally a skeleton of a body and the guantest face I've ever seen on a horse (half of which was covered with scabs from rain rot).

All the horses were nervous and a little shy but not  dangerous.  A couple were a little hard at first to get their blankets off because they kept scooting away from me when I'd walk toward them.  So, I had to slow down and change my tactic and just stand quietly in the stall for a minute or two until they got curious and came over to sniff me, then they were fine.   All of them loved being groomed - some more than others but definitely all enjoyed it.  They're all beautiful horses underneath the ematiation and skin conditions and all of them were really sweet and after grooming would sigh and chew as their way of saying thank you.  A couple of them laid their heads up against me.  I'm guessing they were not abused or mishandled, just horribly, horribly neglected.  And some of them probably weren't handled a lot because they are so shy. 

One of them had rain rot on her ears and I was supposed to put some medicine on them because apparently no other volunteers had bothered to try.  It did look like someone had managed to get medicine on at some point though.  That took quite a while because she was terrified of having her upper neck, face or ears touched.  I'm not sure if that was a behavioral issue from something she experienced or maybe more likely a reaction to her ears being so uncomfortable from the bad rain rot.  She wouldn't let me get to her ears just loose in her stall - she had too much room to dodge away and swing her butt toward me (and not knowing her very well I was not comfortable with that).  Her body language wasn't saying that she was going to kick me, it was saying "If I put my face in this corner and don't see you it means you're not there" - but I wasn't going to take any chances.  Finally, I decided to put her halter on and see how that worked.  She tried to pull away and looked scared out of her mind when she couldn't, but we worked it out.  I went very slowly and talked to her the whole time and when I finally was able to get the medicine on her ears she let me rub it in, I guess realizing it wasn't going to hurt horribly.  Of course then it started all over again with the second ear, being scared out of her mind that I was going to touch her with the scary goopy stuff on my hand. After I finished both ears and told her what a good girl she was she looked completely exhausted and nuzzled her head in my chest and let me give her a huge hug.

I'm signed up to go back once a week for the rest of the month and hopefully all of them will continue to improve and get healthier and we can all spend a little bit of quality time together.  I wanted to take one of them into the wash room and see if I could wash off her tail which was filthy, but liability said I'd have to have a staff member with me because they'd not had her in a washrack yet and the staff was too busy to come with me.  That was too bad but I understand why.  And it's unfortunate - people not making educated decisions then trying to blame someone else for their mistake.  Not that I don't make plenty of mistakes and not that a couple of them haven't gotten me hurt - but they were my mistakes and I learned from them.  It really bothers me when people won't take responsibility for themselves.

In other news Girlfriend had to have a tooth pulled last weekend which was quite the ordeal.  She had to be sedated and I had to hold her head up while my vet pulled out the tooth.  Horse molars are really big.  Yes, I knew that beforehand, but not having ever actually held one in my hand I don't think I realized how big they are.  The pliers they use to pull them out are giant too.  They use these thick metal clamps to keep the horse's mouth open so the vet can put her arms up in there without the horse biting them, but when the vet said I could put my arm up into her mouth to feel where the loose tooth is, I did, but Girlfriend could still tense her jaw muscles enough so I could feel her teeth closing on both sides of my arm.  Even thought intellectually I knew that she couldn't bite down far enough to hurt me I still had to pull my arm out quickly and say, "Oh creepy! Not ready for that yet!" because without the clamps she would have powerful enough jaws to bite my arm right off.   And I don't know the clamps well enough to trust them to that degree quite yet.

I had to slow down on the road to rescue this morning because a bad eagle and a crow were fighting over some road kill in the middle of the street and didn't want to move as I got close to them.  There are some bald eagles who nest in the woods behind our house but I never get tired of watching them.  I also like watching the hawks.  I think they look so cute when they're sitting all hunched up on a branch waiting for prey to pounce on.  I want to go up to them and poke them in the belly and said, "Hey - stand up straight!" because they look like gnomes in trench coats all hunched up.