Thursday, February 28, 2013

Back in the Saddle Part Deux

I'm taking the afternoon off from life because I'm feeling fatigued, achey and just plain bad.  I'm pretty sure I'm hormonally challenged and it's quite bad this month which is probably due to my age.  Which is disturbing.  I'm one of those old ladies that probably needs to pay attention to those commercials about menopause.  Good lord.  That might be why yesterday was more difficult when riding Maiden.  And why my husband woke me up at 4:30am standing over me holding the cat and said, "I was just about to lock the cat in the laundry room and I heard yell from all the way out there "Get the fuck out!"  You were having a nightmare."  Yikes.

I went out to the barn after work yesterday to see Maiden with plans to ride her again since today is officially six weeks of stall rest for me.  I got her all ready and was feeling fine until we got out into the arena.  It was different from Sunday because Trainer K. and M. were in there on Sunday and I could ask M. to hold her while I got on.  Not that she's ever had a problem with me mounting her, but since that's when I came off when I got hurt that's when I get most nervous.  And the last time I'd gotten on her alone in the arena I had ended up in an ambulance a half hour later.  Of course it was different circumstances than yesterday but my emotions weren't being so logical.

We walked over to the mounting block and Maiden seemed nervous and I started feeling nervous.  So, I got up on the mounting block and leaned over Maiden's back to see how she felt with pressure on her back.  This made her nervous (since it was not the usual mode of business when Mom is on the mounting block) so she darted away from me.  This of course made me more nervous so I dragged the mounting block to the softest looking arena and did the same thing.  This time Maiden looked back at me like she was wondering what I was doing but she figured I hadn't hurt her last time I did that so this time I wouldn't either.  Since she seemed to be fine, I hopped up on her back and immediately had a panic attack.

Maiden was being very sweet though and just stood there.  I had to consciously keep myself from hyperventilating and was trying hard not to shake.  Intellectually, I knew that I was pretty darn safe, but my whole body was shaking and my eyes were tearing up and it was all I could do not to cry.  Part of me was thinking, "What are you doing? You're going to fall off again and get hurt even worse this time! Are you insane? Get down this instant! You're nuts to be doing this!"  But I knew if I listened to that part of me and got off the horse it would be a thousand times harder to get back on her again and I may not actually do it.  So, I walked her around the arena a few times, shaking and tears running out of my eyes and telling myself not to listen to the part of me that was telling me I was nuts for riding her and kept repeating to myself, "I have to stay on if I want to ride horses.  If I get off now because I'm scared I am done.  Do you want to be done with horses forever? Because if I get off now I will never get back on and it will all be over."  I decided that I get too much joy and health benefits (exercise, fresh-air, commraderie, happiness) from horses so I was choosing not to get off.  Of course, this meant a few more minutes of hyperventilating, shaking and wanting to cry until I could calm myself down.  But I did calm myself down,  And I did start to feel more confident.  And we ended up having a very nice ride!

Maiden was very docile and sweet while I was having a panic attack, but as soon as I started to feel like myself again she decided to balk and plant her feet into the ground and become the immovable force which is Maiden.  Trainer K. has been reminding me to use the inside of my ankles and not my heels when I signal her to walk.  Not that I kick her, but instead of wiggling the inside of my ankles on her side I have a tendency to tap her with my foot (bad habit).  So, this time I did exactly what Trainer K. said and Maiden started walking immediately.   Of course once we started trotting she tried to do her old trick of weave into the center, but corrected herself quicker than in the past when I asked her, and she kind of half-assed tried to scrape me off on the wall (another old trick) but didn't seem too motivated to do it and corrected herself quickly when I told her not to do that.  Then she balked again and planted her feet into the ground and refused to move, so I gave her a little wiggle with the inside of my ankel.  Nothing.  Harder wiggle. Nothing. Harder wiggle.  Nothing.  Tap with my heel.  Snort - scoot backward.  Sigh.  So, I reached back with my hand and gently tapped her on the butt as she was scooting backward - just a flutter of a tap like I would've touched her if I had a dressage whip with me, and she instantly stopped going backward and shifted gears and started walking forward quickly as though to say "Ooops! Wrong direction - sorry, Mom! Got it now!"  I know she was being a brat by going backward but she tried to play it off like "What? No - that was just me being dingy and forgetting which direct to go! Really!"

Then she did great,  walking with her neck stretched way down to the ground,  relaxing her body, lifting her back, letting out those happy, relaxed sighs when she's feeling good.  She still throws her head up defensively when we start trotting like she believes I'm going to yank on her face really hard with the reins, but since she's been in training with Trainer K the last couple months it is much less extreme and she relaxes more quickly.

I gave my notice at this barn yesterday though and it breaks my heart that Trainer K is too busy to come and train at my new barn right now.  Maybe in the future.  The (female) Trainer J. asked me yesterday who is going to keep my horse tuned up for me and I said I was just going to have to wing it for awhile and try to do everything Trainer K. has taught me, I guess.  It's not my first choice of options but at least I have homework to work on and am not just blindly going to be messing around in complete ignorance.  I was dreading giving notice and starting the ball rolling toward change but now that it's done and I told the woman at the new barn I'm moving in, I feel like it is the right move for me and Maiden.

Well, off to make dinner for the husband.  It's his birthday so I'm making one of his favorite dinners - spinach lasagne and then making a dark chocolate cake.  Ok, the cake is not from scratch like the lasagne is, but I don't trust my baking abilities to try and pull off a cake completely from scratch yet.  Ok, and the lasagne is only mostly from scratch.  I still haven't achieved being able to make lasagne noodles that doesn't end up a sticky, glump of goo that doesn't cook correctly.  I'm still working on that.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Back in the saddle again ... literally

I went out this morning to take care of Maiden and have her do some work but it was so crowded at the barn there wasn't room to lunge her.  There was already someone lunging a horse and two people riding and you can't have two people lunging when people are riding.  So, since next Thursday will be six weeks and supposedly the end of my stall rest I decided I wanted to just sit on my horse at least.  I got her all tacked up and went out in the arena and suddenly had a bout of anxiety and didn't want to try to get on her because I didn't want to go flying off and break everything all over again.  Of course, intellectually I knew that was unlikely but the feeling did hit me like a ton of bricks.  I asked my friend, M. to hold her while I got on but I was also waiting for the moment when the other horse being lunged would stop acting like a yahoo and Trainer J. would stop yelling at the top of his lungs and things would be quieter and calmer around me.  Before that happened Trainer K. who was riding Gemini yelled, "Either get on your horse, J. or go stand in the middle because you're in my way!" To which I said to M. "Ok, I guess I'd better just get on now."

Once I was on her I realized how NOT scary it was to be back riding a horse again, especially in a saddle.  And how NOT scary Maiden is to ride.  We started out walking and I felt like I had forgotten everything and was fumbling all over the place and had horrible posture and nagging legs and floppy hands and everything else that's a no-no in dressage.  My sacrum was also feeling very tender which was disconcerting.   Maiden was actually pretty energetic and broke into a trot a couple times despite me asking her to only walk.  So, after I got a little more comfortable we did some trotting which actually felt better because I was standing up/sitting down and that took some of the pressure off my sacrum part of the time.  In general Maiden did extremely well and I did ok.  But I think I was glowing like a little kid being able to ride again!  It's going to take some time and riding to feel like I have my balance back and I'll feel braver and more confident when my sacrum and L4 aren't still so tender.  But it was awesome and I really didn't want to get off but after about 20 minutes my sacrum was feeling pretty achy and I didn't want to put any pressure on the bone if it's not totally healed yet.

Meanwhile,  I went to look again at the stable I'm thinking of moving Maiden to which is fairly close to my house and much nicer than where I currently am.  Granted they don't have a lot of turn-out, the stalls are bigger and don't have the flooding issues, the arena is much nicer and the footing much safer and there is also an outdoor arena with good/safe footing.   It isn't too far from the library so my husband and daughter rode along.  I was able to talk to another boarder there and get a few more questions answered which was nice and meet the trainer who works there.  The boarder I talked to has an older Hanoverian who was quite lovely, but when she was putting her horse in the arena and I was driving out, he spooked and she was trying to keep him from running out of the arena (and I was actually thinking "what she's doing is totally ineffective - I wonder if I should help her?") so I stopped the car (hoping the the car no longer moving might help him calm down in case it was my fault he spooked) and asked if she needed help and she said no, right as he tore the lead rope from her hand and went galloping past us (which I must say he looked very lovely).  I asked if she needed help catching him and she said no, he'd just go back to his stall.

I don't know if that precipitated my husband's comment that my hobby is extremely dangerous.  But I tried to reason with him that my other choice of a hobby that I'd been considering was roller derby and that was much more dangerous and he said he didn't think so.  I need to see if I can find some statistics but I'm pretty sure that roller derby is more dangerous than riding horses (at least the horses I ride - probably not people who are into bucking broncos in the rodeo or national level barrel racing).  I said dressage is pretty darn safe and he said "till you get to  jumping" and I explained that jumping isn't part of dressage. He pointed out that I used to jump and I said, "Well, there is show jumping which is what I did as a kid but that isn't dressage.  There is three day eventing which is has three components: Dressage, Show Jumping like I did in an arena with poles that fall down if you miss a jump and Cross Country with is some sort of crazy-ass-testosterone driven death wish for you and your horse."  I tried the "It's safer than skiing."  "It's definitely safer than when you used to ride your bike from Ballard to downtown Seattle to go to work."  "It's safer than skateboarding or football." And he wouldn't budge.  He still strongly believes it is more dangerous than roller derby because the girls are roughly proportional to each other (as compared to a horse) and you're falling down from your own height - not from the height of the horse.  But he's not taking into account that you are (normally - unless you're at my slum-lord run current stable) falling onto softer footing (by far) than a roller rink or concrete floor, your half ton horse does not have the prime objective of knocking you down, and you do not fall off your horse every time you ride in a show or practice like you are guaranteed to do every time you practice or compete in roller derby.  Still, I could not get through to him that what I do is relatively safe - probably far safer than driving in a car to get to the stable.

If anyone has any statistics on the safety of riding horses compared to skiing, skateboarding, roller derby, etc.  I'd love to see them.  But even then I doubt that would convince him.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Let's talk about potatoes and germs

I feel like I'm living during a pandemic.  My poor boss got really sick yesterday morning (the pukey kind), I've been fighting off a cold and woke up with a sore throat, headache and general "ugh feeling" and then my daughter got up and whined "I don't feel good! I feel like I'm going to puke!"  So far my daughter seems to be feeling better and although I didn't go to work today I'm guessing after 24 hours my boss is better.  Still ... germs ... ugh.  And yesterday was my 5 week mark of stall rest and I thought I would be feeling up to jogging on Tuesday because I was almost to 5 weeks and I figured I could carry a basket of groceries now instead of pushing a cart on Wednesday ... and well ... neither was a good idea because now my sacrum hurts again and does the area where my L4 is.  Not as bad as when it first happened of course, but I feel set back a bit.  I guess they say 6 weeks for a reason.  Just like they say don't lift anything over 10 pounds even though you think you're strong so it should be 20 pounds you are just like everyone else and it needs to be just 10 pounds.  For 6 weeks.  Not just under 5.  Sigh.

So much hand washing and going to bring some Clorox bleach wipes to work on Monday to clean because the Clorox Green Works wipes apparently do not disinfect.  Yes, this is a conundrum for me.  Here I am trying to live naturally with my organic garden and my "pesticide free zone" sign for my garden and my must-learn-how-to-cook-from-scratch to keep out all the weird additives in commercial food that I think are bad for people and bad for the Earth and just wrong all around and I will not support those industries ... blah blah blah ... and then I go and clean everything to death (literally) with bleach when someone is sick.  But I'm not completely unjustified in doing this.  Although my fellow hippie-organic types say it just makes the immune system stronger to be exposed to virus and bacteria, that only applies if you actually have a healthy immune system to start with. And I have a compromised immune system from rheumatoid arthritis to begin with and when I'm taking my arthritis meds it is way more compromised. 

Many naive people have said that I should just go natural and change my diet and take supplements.  Well, I do that but when I'm completely crippled by a huge flare-up I have to take the medication.  That's why they make the medication.  If changing your diet and supplements worked for severe rheumatoid arthritis there would be no need for the hard-core medications.  Sadly, the marketing demon that is drug companies is not so powerful they could wipe out simple natural things that work, the truth is that natural things don't work when it is severe.  And these medicines were not just created to make money - they were created because there is a need for something to help crippling illnesses that for thousands of years meant early death and disability for people like me.

So, it's a conundrum.  I could die from things like e-coli and salmonella where other people would just get sick.  So, of course I want to clean things with bleach when there is raw meat or sick people around.  But I also know it is not good for the environment in the long run so I'm trying to find a balance.  There are apparently EPA approved "natural" disinfectants but I'll have to do a little research to find out what they are and if they are effective since the "green cleaners" in general are not.

Back in the land of organic gardening I planted some potatoes a few days ago that had started to sprout in my pantry because I forgot to use them in time.  I got some Spring bulbs planted in pots on our porch, my carrots that I planted in fall right before the first frost are sprouted and starting to grow.  I need to get out there and put out this organic slug bait around that raised bed pretty soon because as it warms up the slugs will be out in droves.  The carrots are planted in a raised bed in the Secret Garden which is on our property surrounded by a tall fence so I don't think the bunnies will get to them.  I'm pretty sure the bunnies will leave the potatoes alone and the pumpkins that I'm going to plant in April so I'm not worried about those being in the community garden in the lot behind our house.  But as soon as the potatoes start to sprout above ground I need to be pro-active and spray them with a mixture of water, baking soda and horticultural oil because powdery mildew is a huge problem with my tubers and squashes back in the community garden and so far my research all says that it can not be stopped or cured once it has taken hold of the plant, but it can be prevented.  So prevention this year it is!

We have also had our compost bin for a year now so I need to check and see if the stuff at the bottom is ready to use and I need to get a compost thermometer to make sure it gets to the right heat to kill off the bad bacteria but not so hot it kills off the beneficial stuff.  Ah composting - it is a complex science all of itself and I think it is so cool!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ramble on ...

Yesterday was the first day in month that it was nice enough outside to get out and plant some bulbs.  I still have two weeks left of "stall rest" so I needed my daughter to help me move pots to the porch and move bags of dirt around.  She's been a real trooper helping me out even though she's not really able to lift much more than 25 lbs (seeing as 25 pounds is half her weight!).  She's so cute because she'll come stomping out of the house and demand, "Is that more than ten pounds, Mom? Put it down if it is!"

Just a little over a week left.  Unfortunately, I'm still having pain where the breaks were so I'm holding out hope it will be gone in the next twelve days but if not I may actually have to go back and see the orthopedic specialist again.  He said I didn't have to come back unless I wanted to and I said, "Nothing personal but I'd rather not."  He was nice though. 

I hear all these stories from people who've had to go to the doctor for accidents riding horses and the doctors say things like how it's so dangerous and they should rethink doing such dangerous things "at their age" or in my case "with rheumatoid arthritis" or whatever.  Other things I've heard health care workers say is "Well, of course you got hurt jumping" or "Of course you got hurt riding in an English saddle" which is odd to me.  I've heard so many people say "You can't fall out of a Western saddle!" which amazes me. I've seen someone come off Girlfriend in a huge, barrel racer Western saddle which was like a cushy bucket on top of a horse."  I actually find English saddles easier to ride in because you can balance to the horse's body and feel what the horse is doing.  In a Western saddle you can't feel at all what's going on in the horse's body.  I guess it's all what you're used to.

Anyway, this doctor was nice and said when he came in, "Ah, fell off a horse, I see.  You came out lucky.  The woman who came to the E.R. right after you got run over by a horse and it shattered her hip."  As a side note it turned out my EMT's were called to that accident too but were sent away when they got there because she needed the paramedics to come so they could give her pain meds because they couldn't even move her onto a back board without pain meds =shudder=  Then the doctor asked if I knew her and I said no and he said, "I thought all you horse people knew each other."

Speaking of horse people, I need to go visit the barn I was looking at moving to again this weekend.  I didn't have time go out this week because I caught a cold and had an emergency with my retired horse, Girlfriend and time just got away from me.  There are a few drawbacks.  The biggest being that Trainer K. can't travel to give me lessons right now because she doesn't have time.  I'm going to ask Beth Glosten if she has room in her schedule to travel to give me weekly lessons (which I'm not sure she will) but she teaches balance and position and says she doesn't teach riding techniques - I think she said that, I should check.  So, if I want to advance past Training Level I'll have to figure something else.  But I figure for the here and now I need *a lot* of help with my posture and balance so it would be helpful to take lessons with her too.

There's also a stall open at the place at Bridle Trails that I used to ride as a kid.  It's not the same owners or horses of course, but I have to admit that going back there has a big appeal to me.  The trainer there isn't a dressage trainer so I'd have to ask if I could bring Beth out for lessons.  And it's 15 minutes away and I-405 is not the best for lack of traffic.  And the backroads route is a half hour that sucks.  But I can ride right into Bridle Trails State Park from the barn and I could ride my horse to the Lake WA Saddle Club in summer to watch Trainer K. riding Gemini  and Favio in shows which would be really fun.  But I'm not happy about the distance especially now that I have a job five days a week.

Speaking of my job, I successfully finished my first week of working five days a week in ten years and I feel really good about it.  I didn't feel tired or drained or anything.  I like that it takes 10 minutes to get there by driving down a rural highway surrounded by woods.  I like that my office is in a big warehouse and I don't need to dress up and my boss and his electricians are all trash-talking and sarcastic but at the same time also very nice, so I can just relax and be myself and it's fine.   I don't have to temper my "country girl" side because I get weird looks from my hipster co-workers who all live downtown and can't imagine a world beyond that.  I know that sounds like I'm exaggerating but I'm not.  My brief six weeks with the software company and I stood out like a animal-hair-covered-anomaly with these people who only leave the city to stay in urbanized vacation destinations.  God forbid I talk to any of them about things like Girlfriend's emergency (which I talked my boss's wife ear off about yesterday!)

I'm also learning some really interesting things even though I'm using Quickbooks so I don't have to learn any new computer programs and I know all the accounting.  Because it is commercial electricians it is a potentially dangerous job so yesterday I had the opportunity to learn all about Labor & Industries claims.  And it's made me realize that L&I is not an efficient program at all.  It's an important program but it is run very inefficiently and like everything in our government ends up wasting a ton of money because of short sighted rules and regulations.  Ironically, if a little more was spent on efficiency in the program a lot less would be spent on waste.  But then hey, welcome to the Washington State government ... and the U.S. government.  It is really hard for budget-driven accountants to learn about government budgets in this country because I don't think anyone who works in the government has any clue about budgets.  But on a happier note there is an awesome, fairly new program in our state called the Stay At Work Program.   I think that's an excellent idea and will help not only reduce fraud but also give worker's the security of knowing they can still earn money despite their injury without hurting themselves by going back to their usual work before they are physically ready just because they can't afford to take the time off to heal.

As far as Girlfriend goes, she had a really bad choke experience.  My friend where she lives said it cleared up on Wednesday night and I asked the vet if horses could go into "remission" and she did say it could happen that the horse adjusts to it and gets quite and stops trying to eat and it seems like it is resolved until they try to eat again.  But the vet said that was very rare so we were probably fine. Well, unfortunately,  she wasn't fine.   She looked like she was fine that night but then apparently while my friend was out all day and I was at work she tried to eat again so when I got out there after work (and my friend got home an hour later) Girl was making the most horrendous gurgling, gagging, pukey noises and when she did she'd lower her head and her whole body was convulse and shake.  And she had thick green goo running out of her nose and mouth and it was pretty awful.  At least she was standing up and the night before when my friend found her like that she was lying down.  Ugh.

The vet came out and it took a long time to get the blockage moved because it was so stuck in there and was pretty far down.  It meant putting a couple different hoses up her nose - we finally had to go with the biggest one because the smaller one was not providing enough water pressure to move the blockage.  Poor thing.  Then we gave her antibiotics because she'd been choking for so long the risk of aspiration leading to aspiration pneumonia was very high.  I got to give a horse a shot for the first time and the needle for the antibiotics was frighteningly large.  I have to start giving Maiden Adequan soon for her arthritis in her front knees and the vet said that Adequan would be nothing compared to the giant needle for the antibiotics.  It'll be interesting giving her the second dose on Monday because she won't be sedated.  Sigh.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I will take my subject line from a song ...

Actually, I don't think I will because I probably shouldn't admit what I'm listening to.  I was ok coming out of the closet with my Barry Manilow fandom, but now my 9-year old daughter has managed to get me hooked on pop music ala Maroon 5, Pitbull, Adelle.  There are still artists she likes such as Pink that I refuse to listen to (seriously - Pink has the most awful voice!).  But in general I've lost every shred of punk rock cred. that I ever had and that just makes me feel more punk rock because I'm doing what I want even if it's not accepted in the cult of cool.  So there.  Says the middle aged mom wearing pink pajamas and listening to Train.  Sigh.  The color pink is the new punk, baby.

Tomorrow I am down to two weeks in my countdown for stall rest to end.  I'm a little concerned because my back (right where my L4 is) and my sacrum still hurt - especially if I'm standing up for a long time.  But it is definitely better because I'm not popping double-doses of ibuprofen every six hours or taking vicodan so I can not be in pain when I lie down to sleep at night.  I'm not completely sticking to the "don't pick anything up over 10 pounds" rule but I am trying really hard.  It's just that every now and then it is not practical to not pick up something heavy for a couple minutes. I can't be flagging people down constantly to help me pick things up.  But in general I am sticking to it pretty well.  Today at the grocery store I was debating with my tiny little stick-thin daughter (who weighs all of 50 pounds) if she could take down the box of cat litter from the shelf that was as high as her shoulders.  She kept insisting she could, hoisted it up off the shelf and immediately fell over while dropping it on the ground.  I said I'd get a clerk to help us and she insisted, "No, I can do it!" and wrestled it onto the bottom of the shopping cart.  Then she hoisted it onto the counter at the register and  pulled it out of the shopping cart (where the sides are as high as her nose!) and into the back of the car.  She kept saying, "No, let me do it! I can do it!"  Just like her mom!  I'm so proud!

I have a new job as of this week and I'm working every day - which is very different for me because I haven't worked five days a week for ten years (since right before my daughter was born).  The most I think I worked when I had my own business a few years ago was three days a week. But this job is close to where I live and only four hours a day so it leaves me plenty of time to do my horse thing and soon my garden thing and be home when my daughter gets home from school.

Yesterday and today I had time to go out and see Maiden but tomorrow I need to head up north of Monroe and check on Girlfriend after work.  I got a call from my friend whose property is where she lives.  Apparently, she was lying on the ground with "green stuff" coming out of her nose and mouth and making funny noises.  I immediately had visions of her dying and me being in the middle of the grocery store with an impatient child and a cart full of groceries and a good 45 minute drive away because it was rush hour and the only two routes up there from my town are a choice between two completely jammed up one-lane highways.  So my normal 15-20 minutes to get there would be a lot longer.

So, I pulled my shopping cart over and asked a million questions and from what my friend was saying I figured out she probably had choke.  I felt bad because I felt like I was grilling her on what the stuff coming out of her nose looked like and what the funny noise sounded like - I did stop myself before I started making different noises and asking "Does it sound like this?"  I did describe a lot of noises though and noticed out of the corner of my eye some odd looks by passer-bys.  Whatever.  My vet was in the middle of some sort of procedure so I had to call Pilchuck, who are huge and super expensive and don't know me or my horse.  Luckily, the couple vets I've met from there are nice, but I was trying not to be shallow and bemoan too much that they're super expensive.

By the time the vet called me back from Pilchuck it sounded like from my friend that Girlfriend's choke had resolved itself and she was resting comfortably.  The vet told me to check for signs of aspiration pneumonia over the next few days so I'm heading out tomorrow to take her temperature and just keep an eye on her.  I'll go out this weekend too.  Poor old girl.

Maiden is doing well.  She's starting to learn to stretch and engage her back a little tiny bit.  She's only been in training for three weeks but I can see tiny glimpses of her at least attempting to use her body properly.  It helps motivate her to stretch now that we have the super crappy footing in the arena.  Today she actually tried to stop and munch on some of the pine needles.  So it's kind of an irony that even though it's a horrible excuse for footing it is encouraging her to stretch because she wants to bury her nose in the pine needles and pine chips.  Speaking of which I need to go out and look at the place I'm considering moving to again.  I just haven't had the time yet this week.

My daughter has been taking weekly cooking classes at the YMCA and between that and an excellent dinner of "recipes for forgotten foods" that my friend hosted a couple weeks ago, I've been trying to be more pro-active about experimenting with more cooking attempts.  I've been getting really lazy the last few months with cooking.  Tomorrow I'm going to try cooking spaghetti squash and perhaps a lentil sauce.  Yeah.  I'll let you know how that goes.  I always naively go into these new experiments blissfully convinced they will work and they often do not the first time.

Friday, February 8, 2013


I really want my own farm.  I've hit the wall as far as where I board my horse.  The footing in the arena is horrible (wet, slippery, hard-packed dirt that was getting too dangerous for horses to work on and riders to be riding their horses on because of how muddy/slick it was, so the owners scooped up a bunch of dirt/pine needles/sticks/rocks from the back of the property and spread them in the arena).  Anyway, it is ridiculously bad for a place that part of our board includes an indoor arena.  We have an indoor vacant lot.  That isn't all that indoor because the roof leaks so badly that we refer to it as "raining in the arena".

So, I'm torn between staying at this facility that is about to fall down around my ears so I can be with my trainer and my barn friends or moving to a new barn.  I've pretty much decided I am moving to a new barn but it breaks my heart to not be in the same place as my trainer and friends.  But I don't foresee the owners fixing the footing or the leaking roofs or the rotting support beams or the flooding stalls ever.  But I was watching my horse in training today and thinking how great my trainer is with her and how much my horse likes her and really feeling torn.  But I deserve safer and better and so does my horse (and so do my trainer and friends but there's not much I can do about that).  It's not like there are farms out there just begging for five people and their six horses to come move in not to mention most farms already have resident trainers who don't want another trainer on their turf.

Why is footing such a big deal, you ask?  Well here's a quick Footing 101.  First off, we're not just riding our horses around hanging out - we don't need an arena for that, we can do that out in the pastures, on trails, down the street, etc.  Arenas are used for working out.  Would you train for a marathon on a concrete track in a dank, musty basement of a falling down building?  Well, that's what this arena is like for our horses when we're working them.  Footing is not just dirt, you have to get the right kind of product that will not hard pack so you can't just go dig up some dirt from the back of the lot and spread it on the ground in your arena.  You also have to maintain it by going in and "dragging it" with a rototiller or some other device.   Sand would be ideal in the arena where I am boarding because not only does it "rain in the arena" to make it wet but also it floods so badly on that property (the owners won't go the distance and create proper drainage) that water comes up from under the flooring.  That is a problem in the stalls and in the groom rooms if it rains too much.  It feels like you're walking on a floating dock because the boards squish in the water.  Which is why all the wood is rotting.

I seriously doubt I would've cracked my sacrum had I fallen on good footing.  I may have well have fallen off my horse out on the concrete in the driveway that day - that was about as hard as the footing was.  Now it is slightly less hard because it is covered with pine needles and dirt from outside. 

On a happier note and I will have to write a post about this soon and all my grand plans - my daughter is excited to start her own garden this year and help me with my gardens.  We went out to buy seeds together the other day and it makes me so happy that she is excited about gardening!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Family Matters ...

First off I am happy to say that tomorrow will be the half-way mark of 3 weeks into my stall rest and I'm starting to feel more back to normal.  I catch myself "bouncing" now and then and in the last day of so it hasn't hurt so much.  I even bounded up the stairs yesterday without quite as much pain in my sacrum.  I'm tempted to not actually ride my horse again until the owner's of the barn figure out a way to fix the footing though.  It is wet and packed down to the consistency of concrete so they put dirt/pine needles down for some cushioning.  I can pretend like I'm riding off the trails in Bridle Trails while I'm in the arena.  But I still wish it was just good footing.

I've been thinking about family a lot lately.  I rarely ever see my brother because we are so busy with our own projects and he's super busy with his private practice and writing books and traveling the world lecturing and teaching classes, etc.  So, we've only been seeing each other about once a twice a year for Christmas and maybe Easter.   My daughter changed that up a little this year by requesting a "family dinner" for her birthday with my brother, his wife and our parents.  So that was nice.  But I had managed to forget that he actually has a life beyond work and writing (the writing we've always had in common so that's easy to talk about after not seeing each other for a year).

But then the other day I was stumped because I want to learn how to play the piano part in this song and I actually suck at playing by ear so badly that I couldn't figure it out by myself.  So, I emailed the drummer and asked him if Shawn had any sheet music for it (after much google searching where I found the guitar tabs but even with the chords I couldn't get it to sound right when I tried to figure it out - I know, it's pathetic!).  But apparently Shawn doesn't write anything down and Regan even said he did a quick google search himself and no one else had written it down.  I was feeling frustrated with myself because (I'm out of practice now but back in the day) I was a very talented classical piano player and I can't even play by ear enough to figure out these simple chords.  So I sent the video to my brother and said, "Help me! Will you figure out the chords and then show me?" and he emailed back it was really easy and no problem.

Oh, the reason I want to figure out the chords is there are two studio musicians who go to our church who get other adults and a bunch of kids together to have a band just for fun and I want them to do this song and I said I'd play piano for it.    They sound like when the family gets together and tries to play Rock Band because only the drummer and guitar player are professionals and the rest are a couple parents and a bunch of kids but that doesn't matter because it is so fun when they get together and play.  I don't care if they don't sound tight and uber-rehearsed.  It's like sitting in your living room jamming with family of all ages and just having fun and making music and just having a good time.

It just reminded me how much my brother and I have in common.  We were very competitive as kids but as an adult I see how our talents are more complimentary than meant to be competitive.  I am very talented at sight-reading and can play anything set in front of me (although if it's super complicated I may need to practice it a few times) he is very talented at improvisation and playing by ear.  I write fiction and he writes non-fiction.  And we're both very smart.  And we were both popular enough in high school and had no clue that we were.  Well, maybe he did.  I look back and I think "If only I knew then how cool we were maybe I wouldn't have had such a rough time of it!"  I hope my daughter goes into her teen years knowing that who is she is a fabulous person without having to worry about changing herself with shallow crap like fashion or succumbing to peer pressure or consumerism.  In fact, though many might think I'm a bad mom for letting my daughter listen to this song because of the profanity, I really like the message it sends.  It warmed my heart to hear her signing this morning "I call that getting swingled and pimped ... I call that getting tricked by business ... that shirt is hella dough and with six others in the club that's a hella don't ..."