Friday, September 27, 2013

Where did that come from?

I've been very stressed the last couple days for many reasons ranging from having to go to this week long intensive class for equine massage next week to my second week of teaching riding lessons to just other random stuff including my overly active worrying brain.  So I took the dogs for their long walk through the woods in hopes it would help me relax. 

While we were walking along the boardwalk down by the stream we walked right over a perfectly formed little stomach and duodenum probably from a large frog or a mouse.  Nothing else, just the little stomach/duodenum.  So of course all morning I was wondering how a stomach/duodenum ended up on the boardwalk with absolutely no other sign of the rest of the dead animal.  Either the bunnies are performing some sort of ritual sacrifice or the raptors don't eat stomachs?  Of course doing a google search on "do predator's eat their prey's stomach" is not doing me any good.  Maybe the stomach fell out when they lifted up the prey to fly off with it?  Yep.  These are the things I think about.

I still feel like I'm fighting off a cold so I didn't ride Maiden yesterday, but lunging, cleaning her stall and grooming her turned out to be just as tiring.  Day before yesterday I rode her at a walk and we did lots of stretching and that was actually less tiring in retrospect.  I also did more grooming with Rex and Trainer K. showed me how to clip his bridle path despite him having a full lion's mane.  He really does have the biggest mane I've ever seen.  And it really is like a lion mane, I'm not using poetic blog license.

That said I was pretty tired when I got to work, but once my classes started and I was thinking about teaching I forgot how I was feeling and I think my students had good lessons and I helped Miss T. with her group lesson.  As soon as I'd put Dreamy back after my last lesson I went into the office to write my class notes and as soon as I sat down I realized "Oh ... I don't feel very good."  It was all I could do to get my notes written, stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things and drag myself home to the couch.  Luckily, my husband took pity on me being so tired and had cooked dinner which was full of all sorts of healthy goodness and was nice and spicy which made me feel a lot better.  And the season premier of the Big Bang Theory was on (squeeee!)

I heard this song on an ad for the next week's episode of the Big Bang Theory (squeeee!) and it's probably the cheesiest song ever written and yet I can't help but like it.  Especially because it reminds me of when we were at the Evergreen State Fair when my daughter was four years old and she wanted to stay to watch the Neil Diamond cover band.  The singer winked at her, pointed to her and took off one of his beaded necklaces and threw it to her.  That was right up there with when we went to see my friend, Pete's band play at a street fair and between songs (and slam dancing by my daughter who was three at the time) Pete walked to the front of the stage, spit, then pointed at my daughter and winked and smiled.  And spit again.  I may have to link to his band too.  I call it his mid-life crisis band.  Much like horses are my mid-life crisis - it's a lot more fun than a red corvette and much less selfish - I'm making kids happy with riding lessons and he's making fans happy with music.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Little Friends

With the weather suddenly changing practically overnight to fall weather, the population at the bird feeders seems to have changed.  I haven't seen some of the usual suspects for a couple weeks and the primary visitors are the black-capped chickadees.  Of course they may have bullied out the others too, I'm not sure which it is.  They come in a little flock and sit all around the feeders while a couple of them eat and look like a little Hells Angels group with wings come to take over the town.  Although this morning I did see a red-breasted nuthatch.  And the hummingbirds are still hanging around.

I appear to be fighting off a cold and I'm in the throngs of a big RA flare-up.  I woke up this morning and was distracted by how much pain I was in in so many places.  I tried resting in bed but my rest kept getting interrupted by "my thumbs hurts, no wait my elbows hurt worse, no my wrists hurt worse, no my head hurts worse, no my knees hurt worse, no my back feels like it's broken ..." until I finally just thought, "Oh WTF I'm just going to get up because it's not going to feel any better lying here."  And my sinuses hurt which actually does feel worse when I'm up and moving around.  I took the maximum dose of naproxen I could, used some flonase and now I'm counting down until tomorrow when my Humira arrives (which I forgot to order the refill last week and I can't just get it form my local pharmacy because my insurance will only pay for it from their specialty mail-order pharmacy ... but I really shouldn't complain because at least my insurance will pay for my medication).

I need to get off my ass and go take care of the horses soon because it is only a half-day at school.  But the fatigue I get from RA flare-ups is really bone-crushing.  It feels a lot like the flu only thankfully without the chills and fever.

Speaking of little friends I am continuing to enjoy my time with my little buddy Rex-the-mini.  He's doing better taking the bit now that we've changed him over to a little cobb sized plastic bit.  It's too big for him, but it's plastic so it doesn't freak him out as much as the metal one.  We won't be using it on him for anything except helping him relax about putting it in his mouth and taking it out, but it is helping him with that.

He's such a sensitive little guy.   Yesterday I was cleaning his back feet and he started to pull his foot away and I held on, but for some reason after a couple more yanks by him his foot slipped out of my hand and when it did since I was leaning so far over I stumbled a little and he scooted away quickly then whirled around to threaten to kick me.  I don't think he really would've kicked me but I regained my balance and scooted to his side and asked Trainer K. who was right next door in the other grooming room with Favi, "What just happened?"  She came into my grooming room and said he'd gotten scared and had reacted like I was going to go after him for pulling his foot away.  By then he was visibly shaking all over.   He probably thought I was lunging at him when I lost my balance.  He was so sweet and small and scared and shaking so hard I just wanted to pull him into my lap and hug him!  Trainer K. tried to touch his back leg and he flew up against the wall and cowered.  So we just let that be and helped him calm down for about five minutes until he was ready for me to finish cleaning his feet.  Poor little guy.   His personality is such that you just feel so bad for him because he doesn't want to hurt anyone so it takes a lot for him to get to the point where he being defensive with his hind end and even then it seems like he feels bad about it.

I didn't ride or work Maiden but I took her out in the arena to free lunge.  Usually she just hangs around until I chase her then she reluctantly canters a little.  But yesterday she was flying all over the place running top speed around the arena.  It was pretty cute!  And it was nice to see because I think it means she's feeling good and probably getting in enough shape that it feels good to run around like that.  Plus, I think the Adequan is working to help her back and front knees feel better which is great!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

You know how you said I'd be exhausted?

Thursday was my first day of teaching students in private riding lessons by myself.  I was a bit of a nervous mess all day but it ended up going pretty well.   Then yesterday I had a full day full of classes, mostly private lessons but I did have one group lesson.  The director had warned me I'd be exhausted at the end of the day and she was right.  I wasn't so much physically exhausted (although I was on my feet all day and had bouts of having to run with ponies on a lead line to get them to trot in arena footing which isn't quite as easy to run in as say hard ground - although it's much nicer to fall off a horse on to).  But my brain was fried. 

I came home and no one was here - my daughter was a friend's house and my husband was out fishing - so I heated up some left-over Phad Thai plopped down on the couch and found a movie I've been wanting to see on Netflix.  My daughter came home soon after and asked what I was watching and I told her and she said, "Can we change it to something else?" and I said "Hell no.  I get tv time too," and she said "But it's rated R.  I'm not allowed to watch it," and like a bad mom I said, "We'll turn it off when it gets to the R rated parts - whenever that is.  You may have already missed the R rated parts."  After awhile I realized I was being a lazy parent and that I may not be able to hit "stop" fast enough when the R-rated parts came on so we changed it to She Zow which was I was so tired I actually thought was funny.  Especially when She Zow sneezed out a huge puddle of mud and it came with two pigs on the side.  Ahem.  Anyway ...

I liked all my students which is good because I have a very low tolerance for bratty kids so if I had any in my classes that would be a struggle.  Luckily all of them were very nice and surprisingly patient with challenges that were presented to them.  I didn't feel as lost as I thought I would either.  I was surprised how using the tools from what I'd learned working at camp over the summer came to me, and then how easily I was able to fit in stuff that Trainer K.  and Beth Glosten have taught me.  With most of the kids I've decided to do warm-ups where they ride on the leadline with their feet out of the stirrups and hands on their knees with their eyes closed and just feel the horse moving underneath them while letting their legs hang, then I have them practice moving their feet at their ankles (toes up/toes down/rotating feet at ankles).   The kids enjoy it and with one of my younger students who was precariously tipped to one side with her one leg really short and heel up/toe down - after that exercise for about five minutes she was balanced really well.  Then she regressed back to the scary tipped over balance but at least I know there is an exercise that can help her achieve the right balance and if she does it long enough the safely balanced seat it will feel natural and will be second nature one day.  It's a tough proposition when you get an ubalanced kid because you can say "Shoulders back" "heels down" until the cows come home and if they aren't used to doing it, the moment they stop thinking about (say to steer or just because they're little kids and have short attention spans) they go right back to the tipped-over posture.

So, I have the school director, Trainer K, Beth Glosten and now Trainer KL to use as resources for teaching.  Trainer KL is a dressage judge I scribed for and who I work out with next to at pilates and she not only has students but also trains some instructors and said I could come to her with questions.  What's amazing is that everyone except the school director rides dressage - she rides Western - yet they all teach the same things in pretty much the same way when it comes to basics.  So, it's nice to have all these different people to go to for advice and they all give me advice that works well together.  That says a lot.  I've met dressage trainers who have told me to do wildly different things than Trainer K for example, to the point where their advice literally is so opposite of what Trainer K has me do that it would screw me up to try and do it their way because I would have to stop doing it Trainer K's way. So, it's not even what discipline people work in, it's literally their philosophy, education and knowledge - sometimes one person's is going to be polar opposite of the other's even if they both are "dressage trainers".

One of my students had come from taking lessons where they had taught her literally the opposite of what we teach.  Thankfully, my mind ran really fast and I said, "Well, we'll be doing things a little differently because our ponies are trained to understand a different way of communicating," even though my gut reaction was "Whoa - that's totally wrong! Glad you're not taking lessons there anymore!"  For me, the hardest thing in my continued learning to ride is trying to undo stuff I've learned that doesn't work for me - as opposed to learning stuff from a clean slate. I was so impressed with my student's ability to try something new and try to stop doing what she'd been doing before.  I know that wherever she learned they would think what we teach is "totally wrong" so I have to keep in mind that just because I think our way is the end all be all best, doesn't mean that is the truth for someone else.  The point is I was very impressed with her patience and perserverance.  In fact I was very impressed with all my students and their great attitudes.

Along with being amazed that I was able to think on my feet during lessons, I also enjoyed these flashes of memories throughout the day.  Just as a new student was walking up to their pony I would suddenly remember how that felt - the pure magic and excitement and the feeling like no matter how awful my outside life was, everything at that moment was so perfect because I got to ride a pony.  Not saying any of my students are having difficult issues I had (they all seem very happy) but it's more of that magical feeling of wonder.  The "this makes life worth living!" kind of excitement.   I don't always feel that when I'm with horses anymore.  I sometimes feel really tired and like I don't feel like getting out there and working my horse or my back hurts and I don't want to clean and put medicine on her feet, or I've got too much of an arthritis flare-up to be excited to ride.  But I always push myself to do it and afterward I feel much better.  So, it's fun to remember those first times with horses when it was always magical and exciting.  It's impossible to sustain that giddy excitement day after day, year after year, and some days seem like drudgery, but in the end,  remembering those feelings and knowing I'm a part of sharing those experience with other children who will also build memories of that great feeling makes it all worth it and reminds me I'm doing exactly what I should be doing.

Monday, September 16, 2013


I'm not sure if I spelled that right.  I mean "reeling with horror" - you know, the image of someone careening down a long dark hallway, bumping into walls and muttering incoherently because they saw something nasty in the woodshed?  Yeah, that kind of reeling.  I don't mean "reeling in a large fish" because the only large trout that have come past our doorstep have been the ones from our local fish monger, not our fishing lines.  We still have a lot to learn about fishing.

In just a few days I start teaching my riding lessons and I am pretty sure I am totally overthinking this experience.  Honestly, I would rather go work as an accountant/bookkeeper again and be bored and unfulfilled than be a bad riding instructor.  In my heart I don't think I will be a bad riding instructor, but it is a huge fear of mine.  Just like I was more willing to give up my dream of having kids than be a bad parent - and that seems to have turned out ok when I took the plunge and decided to do that.  I just need to be realistic about what I know which is how to teach the absolute never-ridden beginners the very basics about balance and safety and horsemanship.  It's not like I'm going to be claiming to teach dressage or any other discipline.  Just very beginner basic horsemanship and balance and steering.  I can do that.

I recently saw a woman riding a very nice looking horse and I thought, "Hmmm ... she doesn't know how to ride very well.  But that's a nice horse."  Then she did some stuff where I thought, "WTF? What are you doing to that horse???  Then the horse started freaking out and I thought she was going to get dumped but I felt so bad for the horse because he was freaking out over rider error and she was being really harsh with him.  Finally, she just stopped riding (thank god).   I was thinking that I was glad I wasn't still there in that "lack of education and trying to do stuff way beyond your abilities" space to end up in those situations.  But I also wouldn't try to do upper level dressage stuff that is out of my league without Trainer K right there to coach me.   I hoped this was an eye opener for this woman that she should stick to schooling at basic training level till she has more experience and education.

Then to my shock I found out she is a local trainer! Like trains horses and people in dressage!  I looked her up and she has a loyal following of students and people who take her horses to her to be trained and everything!  WTF?  I hear about some pretty uneducated trainers - take the one that Maiden came from for instance.  I get to see first hand what he did to her every day and try to undo that with Trainer K.'s help.  But I've never seen one in person.  And honestly, that is one of my greatest fears is I'm going to be one of those and am going to churn out a bunch of people who get really bad advice and are awful riders and awful to horses because of me.   So, yeah, I'm totally overthinking my start of my own classes this Thursday.   I think in reality it will be ok.  I have Trainer K. and my co-workers to go to for advice and like with working with Rex - I'm not alone in this and I have a wealth of educated and experienced people to fall back on to help guide me in the right direction.   And for that I am incredibly grateful. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Corn Dog Fail

I tried making home made corn dogs this evening and it didn't go well.  I should know better than to trust internet recipes involving lots of hot oil and the promise of being fast and easy.  It really wasn't that bad except I wasted some jalepenos (trying to make jalepeno poppers) and three free-range, nitrite-free hotdogs.  And of course a bunch of oil and corn meal.  Sigh.  I think there was way too much flour in the recipe and not enough of binding ingredients because the batter was kind of runny and when it started to cook it immediately broke apart and came off the hot dogs and jalepenos and floated around in the oil making weird little messy fried blobs of corn meal.

I'm going to try it again but make it a 3:1 ratio instead of 2:1 with the corn meal and flour and I"m adding an extra egg for a binding agent.  So far I don't know enough about baking to make any changes beyond that.  I may need to do a little more research before I try again and waste a bunch of food again.   I never realized that cooking and baking included so much science.  So does gardening.  I've been researching composting again - this time composting manure for when we eventually live somewhere I can at least have one of my horses at home with me.

Well, as we speak my husband is taking photos of the carnage that was me trying to make corndogs.  This was preceeded by him saying, "I know what I should do with it!" and me saying, "Heat it up and throw it on the neighbors we don't like?"  Sigh.  This is why I'm not one of the popular moms on the PTA*

Fourth day of working with Rex.  Our leadline walks continue to go well.  Our lunging continues to slowly improve.  We will continue to just work on walking for awhile I think because any improvement he's made disappears in a crumbling pile of catastrophe when I ask him to change gaits.  So, we're not quite there yet.  But he's doing better on the lunge line at a walk.  I was trying to come up with ideas as to why he pulls so much going to left and not much at all going to the right.  I mentioned to Trainer K. maybe it's a balance thing and he's not very strong on that side of his body.  Trainer K pointed out he's just walking so he doesn't need to balance much and I said, "Well, I just can't figure it out," to which she said, "Well, he's always led on the left and he pulls when he's led so it's just what he does.  He's not led on the right."  Which made sense.  Although he hasn't been pulling at all when I've been leading him, although I can see where it could get set up to because he likes to lag behind me and I can see if I started pulling him to follow me it'd turn into a tug-o-war.  Usually it just takes a little cluck and poke to the side and he'll wake up and walk next to me again.  Anyway, I figure when I've been doing this stuff for forty years like Trainer K. the answers will seem a lot clearer. Until then I rely a lot on asking her advice probably way too often.

Rex had a driving bridle hanging on his door so I figured maybe we should work with a bit in to see how he did with that.  I'd heard he's not good with a bit so I put the bridle on and put the halter over that so I wouldn't be pulling on his mouth.  He took the bit just fine, but looked really uncomfortable so I took him across the barn to Trainer K who looked at it and said to take it out of his mouth because it was too harsh of a bit and he was too new to bits.  So, his owner found a milder one and put it on his bridle and we're going to try to do some work with the headstall/bit on, but only hooking the lead and lunge line to the halter so as not to unnecessarily pull on his mouth.  So far so good though.  Whatever issues he'd been having in the past with the bit seem to have passed and he seems like he's in a good place now with it which is good.  Mini bits are really unbelievably tiny.  They look like bits for cat bridles or something.

I didn't work with Maiden the last couple days because her feet were sore after being trimmed so today I made sure to have time to ride her.  Trainer K. and another boarder were already out lunging their horses and I thought for a moment, "I'll have to wait to lunge her, maybe I'll just ride her without lunging.  It's only been two days since she's worked."  Then I remembered Trainer K. once telling me she was going to inscribe on my tombstone "I just didn't have time to lunge my horse today."  I'm awfully glad I didn't go with the no lunging thought because she ran more than I've ever seen her run before. 

It started out when she was trotting out on the circle and we were right up against the far wall with the exterior door that looks out on the front pastures and the parking lot.  Maiden has been wary of anyone who walks by those doors ever since 4th of July (she seems to have equated people walking by the doors with fireworks or something).  But usually she just spooks a little and scoots off to the side.  This time (and no one was walking by) she stopped dead in her tracks and wouldn't go past the door.  I encouraged her to keep going and she bolted.  When she does that on the lunge line I keep her going until she tires her out (the whole "You want to run? I'll give you running!" principle) So she'd tear around the circle and stop dead in her tracks in front of the door, frozen in terror until I encouraged her to go again, and then she'd run as fast as she could, then freeze in the same spot ... we did this over and over again until I was so dizzy I thought I was going to fall down, but she was trotting past the door without stopping and only looking outside with a wary expression.  I couldn't for the life of me figure out what was going on so I just assumed she was in a freaky mood.

She did fine going the other direction and we didn't do as much work because by then I was so dizzy I couldn't do much more turning in circles with her on the lunge line (for those of you unfamiliar with lunging - the person stands and turns in one spot in the middle while the horse goes around in a circle and when the horse is really running you're basically spinning around in one spot holding on to a rope - after years of doing this I think it has actually improved my equilibrium a little bit.  Also, if you lean over and change the altitude of your head after lunging a running horse - say to pick up the lunge whip that you accidentally dropped - the whole world will go topsy-turvy and you'll fall over.  I learned that one the hard way.)

It wasn't until I got on to ride her and we went down to the far end of the arena where the exterior door is, and I was far enough up off the ground to see what she was seeing and there it was - right outside the door, sitting in the grass right next to the exterior arena wall was the big green-monster-exercise-ball that for some reason had ended up in our parking lot in the grass.  That made me laugh out loud because then it totally made sense why she was acting like she had.  After our ride I took her outside to eat some grass and check out the exercise ball in person and on that side of the wall with nothing between us she wasn't scared of it at all.   While she was munching grass I even kicked it so it rolled over by her nose and all she did was snort as if to say "I'm not going to play now, Mom, I'm eating grass."

*Actually, I am fairly popular with the parent/PTA set, I just don't fit in - by my own choice - with the segment that worries about what they wear, what kind of car they drive and if they get a good seat at El Gaucho for lunch time drinks.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fat little ponies

I think I've mentioned this before, that my husband got me this coffee cup as a gift.  It is very fitting now with all the ponies in my life.  Pony camp is closed this week for the break between sessions so I took my daughter to teach her how to do health checks.  She was very into it (for a bout fifteen minutes and then she got overheated by it being 90 degrees out but she still had to wear jeans and her helmet) and was hanging onto everything I said about what to look for and was actively going up to each pony and checking their eyes and looking them over for any injuries and watching the way they walk and if they were interested in us or eating their food. 

Thankfully everyone looked happy and healthy.  Except for Bandit who had a bandage on his hind leg but it looked like whatever happened had already been taken care.  As it was it turned out it was good timing because my co-worker came out to give Bandit a cold water bath for his leg and while I was holding him for her we got talking and she mentioned someone she knows who knows about essential oils for horses - something I'm interested in learning more about once I finish equine massage school. 

I was happy to walk into the pony pen and have lots of ponies come up to greet me.  Bugsy decided it was important to follow me everywhere as though I would magically suddenly pull a hay bag out of my back pocket.  I only worked doing chores four times but apparently that still made a big impression.  Tony Pony watched me every where I went until I approached him and then he came over to greet me and lean a little against me - until he accidentally made my keys (that were attached to my belt loop by a small caribeener) jingle and then he went tearing across the outdoor arena in a panic.  He wanted nothing to do with me after that, poor guy.  And I didn't have time to work with him to help him overcome his phobia of my keys, so maybe another time when he's not working, I'm not working and it's not 90 degrees out.

In other pony news, I started working with my friend's mini stallion, Rex.  He was the original "Fat Little Pony" last year but he's since gotten a lot more fit so he's more just a cute little pony now.  I think he has potential to be an excellent pony for pony camp next summer if he gets gelded and if he turns out to handle well and have good ground manners, so I got his owner's permission to take him out for walks and work with him on the lunge line as much as I want.  Since Maiden had her feet done yesterday and was a little sore today we left her out in the paddocks all day with her friends and she had her lunch out there and wasn't very interested in coming in.  So, after spending the morning with Girlfriend at her new pasture I went out to work with Rex.

I've always liked him because he is a very smart and sweet little guy.  It's pretty amazing how sweet and patient and gentle he is for a stallion.  I imagine if he was gelded he would make an excellent pony for the little tiny kids at camp if he had some ground work under his belt.  Today was my third day working with him on leading and on the lunge line and I'm very impressed with him.  When we were out walking today his first impulse is to dive for grass as soon as we walk by it, but I only had to correct him once and after that if I caught him in time and just said "Uh-uh" before he put his head down, he stopped trying to go for the grass and kept walking.  The big impressive feat was when I stopped in the aisleway outside the locker room and had to leave him in the doorway while I held onto the lead rope, but had to go part way in to reach my lunge whip.  There was a big bag of apples right under his nose on the floor right outside the door and he lowered his head to try and grab one and I corrected him, then ducked in to get my lunge whip and he just stood there not even trying to get to the apples.  I was so proud of him I gave him one of the apples as a reward and he happily chomped it down and got me and him all covered in green apple juice.

Lunging has been more of a challenge because he doesn't really know how to do it and has developed a bad habit of leaning way outside the circle and pulling with all his weight on the lunge line.  It's exhausting for me and can't possibly be good for his neck.  We're only walking right now because since he doesn't know how to lunge at all I figure we might as well just start at a walk and work our way up through the gates.  Yesterday I tried just holding a constant pressure on the lunge line when he pulled like that and letting up when he relaxed, but it didn't seem to be working very well and he seemed like he was purposely leaning onto the pressure of my pulling back against the lunge line.  So I asked Trainer K what to do and she said whenever her starts to pull give the line a good solid yank, then immediately let go and do that every time he starts to pull.  Only it's the timing thing of you have to do it right when he pulls and then you have to let up immediately and not put any more pressure on until he starts to pull again.  My first thought was "Wow, his owner is going to come out screaming at me when I end up yanking the lunge line on her poor horse over and over again every two seconds" but amazingly enough that didn't end up happening and it turned out to be very effective!  After a lunge session of mostly tug of war yesterday he actually went around the lunge circle really well today with only intermittent periods of pulling.  Of course he did other "I don't know how to lunge" things like suddenly stop and decide to wander off the other direction or stop, turn around try to get himself tangled and refuse to move.  But every time that happened, I repositioned him with the position of my body and using the lunge whip as an extension of my hand to guide him where to move and he would get back on track.  He ended up getting lots of pets and snuggles and another apple for his efforts today!

Tomorrow he gets the day off because I don't have much horse-time and it's going to be spent riding Maiden since I haven't gotten to do that since Monday.  She is continuing to do well.  And the farrier, who was out yesterday, said her feet have gotten significantly better.  I had noticed an improvement a couple weeks into the treatment with the thrush medicine so it's good to hear someone else sees that.  She's still got a ways to go - there is still a separation between the hoof and the hoof wall that needs to dry out/close up, but they're slowly but surely getting better.

Meanwhile Girlfriend is now on every day thrush medicine too.  Her hoof walls are all spongy and cracked and on her back hoof walls are flaking off near the bottom.  I asked my farrier just by the description what he thought it could be and without even thinking he said "White line disease" and when I looked horrified he said "Start treating her every day with the thrush medicine" and he has time to come out and look at her next week.  She also has a scabby fungus all over her belly and one of her back legs and a nasty cut on the inside of one of her legs that looks a couple weeks old.  So, she's been getting lots of grooming and some medicated washes and thrush medicine every day.  She seems to be enjoying all the attention and pampering.  She's also adjusted really well to her pasture and seems quite happy even though she's out there alone.  But she has Domino the mini in the pasture next to her and Rosie the German Shepherd, not to mention the three kids who live there and me coming out to baby her every day.  I heard mumblings from the pony camp director that at some point she was thinking of retiring the camp donkey and now I've got it in my head I need to figure out a way to be able to afford to have him come retire with me and live with Girlfriend.  But even if I didn't have to pay board for him that would end up being more feed to buy and more vet/farrier bills.  I should probably not even think of these things until I'm done with school.

I've struggled on and off for the last ten years over my self-image because after pregnancy and rheumatoid arthritis kicking my butt I have never gotten "my body back" and now I'm middle-aged and chubby and not at all the hottie I used to be.  In fact, I imagine that it would shock people that have only known me for the last couple years to think I ever was in fact a hottie-mchottie.  But slowly it has begun to dawn on me that I just don't care.  What is so much more important to me is that I'm very proud of how much I've learned in the last six years about horses and much I'm continuing to learn, and how well I am doing with where I'm at in my education with them.  And I'm proud of being a good parent, and I'm thrilled with where my life is at these days.  And I'm proud of how much physically stronger I am than I was ten years ago.  And I just don't care if I'm "hot" any more.  I never thought I would see the day where that was true but I'm incredibly grateful for it.  And I think having a passion to throw myself into has really helped me get over that shallow roadblock that took up so much of my energy for so much of my life.

And though I like this blog to be very anonymous I did want to share this photo of me and Rex from last summer.  You can't really see my face in it anyway so I think I'm safe! And Rex is just too darn cute not to show off!

Monday, September 9, 2013


I leave for my on-site week of classes for equine massage in exactly three weeks and I am not at all ready!  I just started reading the book for my 5-page book report plus graphs and charts that is due the first day of class and I'm not feeling confident I will finish it all in time.  Or that I will be prepared.  I feel like I really don't know enough of the material well enough and will look really stupid and even worse - possibly not pass the practical portion of the exam! Ugh.

I think this is just my old perfectionist issues rearing their ugly head.  Just like how I felt all through high school, only instead of just facing my fears and buckling down and doing my best I just gave up before I tried.  I still have nightmares that I have to go back to high school because I never graduated (I did graduate by the way in real life but that apparently doesn't stop my subconscious from giving me nightmares that I didn't and that I have to go back).

At least the stuff I'm learning is very interesting to me.  We had a list of books we could choose for our book report and I chose Horse Structure and Movement because I'm hoping it will help me to understand the kineseology part of the puzzle which I'm struggling with.  One thing for me is that I don't work well with mechanical concepts in print or in 2 dimensions.  I need to see it in three dimensions (ie: in person) and it helps if I can actually manipulate the object with my hands myself.  Which is why I've been searching the internet for an anatomy model of the major muscles in a horse - something that you can take apart and move.  When the major muscles and their movements really clicked for me in human massage was during the cadaver anatomy portion of school.  I need a model that it like that of a horse.  If I can't find one I swear I'm going to design one, patent it and make millions off of students of vet medicine who are like me and need to see it in 3D to really have it click.

In happier news, my daughter's white kitten (well, she's 2+ years old now but we still call her and her sister, Nermal kittens) is sitting on my lap and she's so happy she keeps drooling all over my laptop (both she and the laptop are pictured at the top of this blog).  I keep having to take the edge of my shirt and whip off the keyboard so that I can actually type on it.  Kittens are very comforting.

Our search for the perfect haunted farmhouse has been put on hold because everything that fits our criteria (can't see the neighbors, enough acreage for horses, living amongst wild animals but not in a mobile home) and is not too painfully long of a commute to downtown Seattle where my husband works - it's all out of our price range.  As in everything within a non-heinous commute distance that meets our criteria is a million dollars or more.  I'm not exaggerating.  Look up the outskirts of Seattle real estate for 2+ acres and not a mobile home within an hour commute (by transit) to Seattle and you'll see what I mean.  Well, not an hour commute by car either but you have to factor in the lovely, totally out of control traffic into drive times - so a half hour distance equals an hour commute.

Anyway, I'm a little disappointed but at the same time I still love our little rural suburb house and it's awfully nice to have Girlfriend only three blocks away.  And I still have lots of room to garden (which didn't go as well this year as I'd hoped - but that's another blog post)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

New home for the Girl ...

I moved my elderly horse, Girlfriend into a new pasture yesterday.  This one is three blocks from my house so I'll be doing all self-care myself which will be nice.  She was quite far away at the last pasture so it was hard to get out and see her very often with my busy schedule.  But now I can see her everyday!  Being in a pasture as opposed to a stall has been really good for her and she's moving around a lot better than she was before.  I think not being ridden has been good for her too, unfortunately for me.  I miss riding her because she's so fun.

She's been very herd-bound with her old pasture mate, Madie so it was emotionally hard to take her away yesterday.  She's not one for dramatics or throwing a fit, but when we drove up with the trailer and I came out to the pasture with a halter and lead rope she knew what was up and ran away from me at first.  Then when she realized she was just too polite by nature to keep running away from me she went into the shed, squeezed herself between Madie's butt and the wall and shoved her face into the corner so if she didn't see me I didn't exist.  I tried approaching her by squeezing around Madie myself but she'd just back up so that she kept Madie between me and her.  Madie was unfortunately on Girlfriend's side in this debate.  Finally, I smacked Madie on the butt and she jumped with surprise but acquiesced and moved away from Girlfriend.

Girl got into the trailer just fine and didn't freak out and scream or throw any fits, but when we got her to the new pasture she ran around a lot and screamed for any horses that were nearby.  The mini squealed back and some neighboring horses screamed back from nearby properties.  It was hard for me to watch and I felt like a horrible person for taking her away from Madie.  But they're selling Madie so she couldn't stay with her anyway. 

I went through the path between pastures and pulled out some four foot tall weeds to make a clear path to the mini's pasture and Trainer K. led Girl up to the fence to meet her roommate, Domino.  Domino reared up as best he could (he's really tiny) and came running over to the fence squealing and stuck his nose through the fence.  Girl looked unimpressed, leaned over to sniff his nose, and then immediately bit him, turned around and ran back to her pasture.  This sent Domino into a huge squealing frenzy of "come back! come back!" which was still going on when I left with Trainer K.

I had to go pick up my daughter from the school bus stop, then came back and was happy to see Girl had calmed down a lot.  The owner of the property was out checking things out in the pasture and introducing himself to Girl, his two little girls were collecting apples for her (which sadly she wouldn't eat because she doesn't really like apples) and their German Shepherd was running around the periphery of the pasture trying to get Girl to play with him.  She seemed to like the dog the best of everyone.  I gave her some grain and a calming supplement and she seemed like she was already starting to adjust.  So, I feel a little better.

We'll see this morning how she's doing - hopefully she's adjusting even more.