Thursday, December 31, 2009
I'm not one to make New Year resolutions. I find that long term promises are hard to keep, and I'm not one to make a promise if I don't think I can keep it. This past year, for example, had I made a promise to ride more or reach a training goal, my unexpected health issues would have derailed the plan well before the year was over.
I think if you try to live your life well each day, taking care to think of others as well as yourself, you really don't need much in the way of resolutions. Living well just kind of leads you to do the right thing and accomplish many of the important things along the way.
So, here I am facing a brand new year with no immediate plans. I am looking forward to being able to ride again, but the winter weather doesn't encourage me too much. It was snowing again this morning. Apparently we are not going to get more than perhaps four inches at most, so it's not quite as annoying as it could be. I was going to go to the feed store to get some more bedding, but the roads are a bit "iffy." Right now they just look wet, so it may be the temperatures are rising as predicted and all this will turn to rain. But since I don't really need the bedding, I'd rather wrap up in my new super soft bath robe and hang out inside.
When I went out to feed this morning, the Boys were at the far end of the pasture, appearing to be grazing. They sauntered casually in when they realized I was out there to feed. They were definitely not in any hurry. I like to see that. When horses do not go into a feeding frenzy it tells me they are well fed and content. This is particularly important in the winter when much of the food they eat has to go to maintaining body temperature.
I make sure they have plenty of hay every day. I just heard again from a friend that her boarding stable does not feed enough hay and many of the boarders supply extra out of their own pockets. I've boarded at places where the hay is rationed like that and simply cannot understand it. For example, if the horses were fed at around 3-4 PM and boarders then came to ride later, there was no extra hay put in the stalls later. Horses would get a couple flakes with the afternoon feed, eat that, get ridden, and then have nothing to fill their stomachs through the night. Bad practice as far as I am concerned.
Horses naturally graze, browse, and eat all day long. When they are locked in stalls, that natural instinct is restricted by whatever feed humans give them. What they need is something to nibble on all the time. And, if they are exercised and then put back into a stall, it becomes even more important.
I may go excesses with my Boys as they get three feeds a day, but I would rather have leftover hay in the stalls than have them left with nothing to eat all night.
Over-indulged and seeming quite content, the Horses of Follywoods seem to be doing just fine. Here's hoping the New Year brings them more satisfaction and a good life here.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
OK, for all you people out there without a partner, it's time to own up. Can you do it all by yourself?
I was brought up with a sense of "can do" about almost anything I ever tried. Mind you, there were things I never tried to do, but usually, if I attempted something, I figured out how to finish the job.
My little horse farm and house have accented the "do it myself" concept in spades. I am now currently waiting to see if the dishwasher will actually run through the rinse cycle without giving me a "drain blocked" error message. Part of it are still littering the kitchen as I didn't want to put all the screening and stuff back on until I was pretty sure I'd fixed the problem of the drain blockage.
Thank heavens for the Internet as I looked up dishwasher drains and found a good illustration and explanation about cleaning the darn thing...something I certainly don't recall from when I purchased said machine. I think the general idea was for the ignorant woman of the house to call a certified repairperson to take care of such things, but if it's only a matter of taking out some screws, then I'm all for it!!
But so far, no luck on this one. Every time I put the dishwasher through the rinse cycle, it get just so long into the process and then the alarm sounds again. First it says, "blocked drain," then "slow drain." I think I am out of my league.
Which means I called the repair service. But with the holiday coming up, no one can come until Saturday. I don't need the dishwasher as I certainly can wash things by hand, but I do not like having something broken staring me in the face. I'm also not keen on paying a large repair bill.
On the up side, I have taken out two filters and cleaned them really well and I have cleaned the interior of the machine pretty well. Once I get it fixed, I'll run some special cleaner through.
As you can see, despite my surgical recovery, I have plenty to keep me busy.
The Boys are waiting for dinner, so I will be heading out soon to feed them. It's still cold enough that the mud is frozen so Tucker has the run of the paddocks. He is much happier when he is with his buddies and the little herd is all together.
Horses are a lot more like people than we realize. They're not too keen about being on their own either. But at least they don't have to worry about dishwashers.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
The weather changed abruptly last night...or early this morning. I woke up to the sound of wind whipping up a frenzy. I'd left the Boys in their sheets overnight, and I'm afraid that was a mistake. They didn't seem cold this morning, but I surely was. Horribly wind and bitterly low temperatures had rushed in on another weather front.
I switched all three back into their insulated winter blankets. This time, though, I tried to put the new one on Toby. Since it was brand new, it was still a little stiff and the fabric was a little noisy. That proved a problem.
Toby has a deep seated fear of rustling plastic, paper, and, in this case fabric. I related this back to a boarding stable with plastic on the windows, all of which blew out during a huge storm, leaving noisy, flapping plastic near his stall. Then, a rather mean barn manager found out he didn't like the rustling sounds and, I suspect, tormented him with the paper bedding bags whenever she could. (Long story of a manic personality and a resentment of me attached.) At any rate, Toby was traumatized, and ever since, I need to be careful with noisy rustling things around him.
Today, I had to bring him into the aisle, put him on the cross ties, take off his sheet, give him a nice quieting grooming, and then put on the noisy blanket. Once he was soothed by the handling, he was fine, so I'm guessing the combination of the blanket and the horrendous wind created too strong a memory of his past fear. Once he was dressed in the new coat, he was just fine and, I think, really appreciated having the extra protection from the cold and wind.
I was able to let all three have full run of the paddocks and pasture today as the ground was frozen along with the mud. There isn't much to eat as far as grazing goes, but I think they just like to nibble at whatever they can find. I do give them plenty of hay, however. This time of year, especially, it is very important for them to have good forage so they can keep up their own body heat.
My water tub heaters seem to be working just fine, so the other essential--fresh water--is also always available.
The one benefit of the day is that the sun was out. That did make for a few places where, with the wind blocked by either trees or the barn itself, it was probably fairly comfortable for them to hang out.
I have to keep reminding myself that horses are true outdoor animals, well adapted to tolerate the weather. Well fed, watered, and with shelter available, they do just fine.
I'm the one who's shivering. *G*
Monday, December 28, 2009
As I sit back and evaluate 2009, I realize a year of not much accomplished, but much enjoyed.
Ever since I bought my first horse in 1971, Russell R., I had been an intense trainer. By then, I had been riding for at least seven years and had a fair background in the hunter/jumper world. Determined to succees in the show arena, on the average, I rode six days a week and took lessons at least once a week. I constantly traveled to clinic opportunities with dozens of international trainers, learning, practicing, and working towards competitive goals.
I also showed nearly every weekend during the Spring, Summer, and Fall and often weather permitting, even braved Winter's weather to show indoors. Russell and I earned over 150 show championships in our career and he was a well known competitor in the area. Gradually, I moved on to eventing, and then finally, dressage once I realized my eventing courage was limited.
When I got PJ's Folly, Russell soon retired from active competition, and the cycle continued. When Russell passed away, I brought Toby into my life and again followed the training routine. I adopted Tucker when Toby was around 10 or so and once more trained.
But somewhere along the way, something happened. Part of it was my frustrations with Tucker, well documented in this blog. He was and still is, a difficult horse to train and with his size and tendancy to solve problems by bucking, an intimidating ride for me at times. While I have now pretty much worked out all his training issues, in the process, I simply stopped competing.
I would have thought I would have missed it, but to be honest, I have not. I still enjoy an occasional riding lesson and, if a good clinic came along, I would probably pack up and go--provided I and my horse were both fit enough. (Not now, of course as it's going to take a good long time for us to get back to work.) But if all my riding is here in my arena at home and on the trails behind the house, I will be content.
I may decide to show Chance in the future, but that will only be if I feel he would be an easy ride. So far, he looks to be a solid fellow about that kind of thing, unlike Tucker.
As for Tuck, we'll see. If I manage to train him to third or fourth level, I might go back to the show grounds, just to play. The upper level tests are actually fun to ride--as Caroline is now discovering--so that is a plus. But there's no pressure.
Showing has become a very expensive pursuit around here. I have to ask myself if it's really worth the money. Meantime, if my trainer comes, I will ride with him and I'll still keep my eyes open for any interesting clinics.
Otherwise, it's a nice ride in the woods on a bugfree day that will bring a smile to my face. Maybe that's all I really need anyhow.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Last week the snow was blowing up a blizzard. Today? Almost "no coat" weather. Aside from a few piles left over from plowing, the snow is completely gone.
Of course, that means the mud is back. Tucker had to spend the day in the riding arena again. While it was wet in there, somehow it didn't seem as bad as I would have expected. The other two Boys were in the front paddocks. Since I spent the morning in church and went to lunch afterwards, I don't have much to report on what went on as far as play goes. All sheets seemed to be intact at any rate, so that's a good sign.
However, that is not true of the once rather expensive Classic Coverup Goretex blanket (Just to establish its quality here) Chance had been wearing during the early days of the snow storm. As you may recall, I found him naked one day and ended up dressing him in a brand new blanket I'd bought. I'd looked around for the blanket he'd lost and didn't see it anywhere.
Now I know why. White stuffing matches the snow. Now, mind you, the blanket was blue, with a gray quilted lining....no white there. Unless, of course, said blanket had been ripped. Or, shall we say savaged? If there hadn't been mud to negotiate back to the house for the camera I would have take a picture. I will still take one of the blanket remains, but the "scene of the crime" really deserved its own shot. I might try to reconstruct the sight, just for fun.
The blanket was torn to shreds with the white fiber filling all pulled out on top of the pile. One square piece, filling and all, was draped on the lower fence rail nearby. Once again, "Chance the Ripper" had claimed a victim.
I have seen Chance with fabric. He once stole my jacket and walked off with it. Before I could save it, he deliberate put his hoof on the body of it, and pulled on a sleeve until that ripped off. Then despite my screams of horror...well, "Hey, Chance, stop that!" He proceeded to take the other sleeve in his mouth, put his foot on the rest of the jacket and yank that one off as well. This was not an accident, but an intentional act. I've since seen him rip a sheet that way too so I always try to make sure the horse clothes are safely out of his reach.
Poor Classic Coverup. It was a really nice blanket. From the looks of it, I don't think there is any hope of repair. It may just be time for a proper burial.
It will be sad to say goodbye.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
The Boys were quiet Christmas Eve, although I seem to have heard the word, "love" a few times, but that might have meant, "I love my carrots with tops and this nice big apple in my midnight feed." Then, again, maybe it was, "I love you." One can only dream.
Still, going out to the barn for a silent night was special. I'd had a really nice evening at my cousins, with a new, soft cuddly bathrobe in my possessions and some very pretty jewelry. I also had a full tummy for the first time in weeks. My cousin's positively delicious lasanga had perked up my appetite and I had two helpings! I was thrilled to actually be eating again, and enjoying it. So listening to the Boys crunch their apples and carrots with that unique and comforting sound of "horses eating," was the perfect finish to Christmas Eve and the perfect beginning to Christmas Day.
I did go to my other cousins' house at the shore. The first cousins did the driving, however, which was a good thing as it takes about an hour and a half to get down there. I am pretty sure I never would have managed the trip on my own at this point. The temperatures were warming up, but between the ocean and the bay there was a cool, damp breeze blowing with that noticeable scent of salt water when we arrived. Their house is a nice, snug little "saltbox" of a shore home with two floors. I never did quite make it up the spiral staircase to the upper floor--that will have to wait for another day--but downstairs fit us all in nicely. Dinner was a super delicious ham with veggies and all the appropriate trimmings. Once again, to my delight, my appetite was ready, willing and able to lead me to more than one helping of each dish. Mind you, they were small helpings, but again, I was just pleased to "want" to eat again.
I had started to rain by the time we got back home. The snow was vanishing quickly and by this morning, much of my lawn is bare again. The paddocks are sloppy, but I did take the chance of just opening Tucker's stall door to give him free access. There is no real mud yet, just lots of sloppy snow and since it is raining, I keep hoping he will use some horse sense and spend most of the day under shelter. Interesting that the snow has melted from the grassy areas, but not yet from the bare areas, including the arena. Might be a scientific study here for someone who understands thermal theory. Might be something to do with the heat conductivity of the grass, or air pockets between blades or.....well, somebody go for it!!
Essentially, we had a traditional white Christmas, and now, the day after, a wash away. I think it's supposed to rain both today and tomorrow, so it's possible all the snow--except perhaps for a few piles pushed up by the plows--will disappear.
Frankly, I won't miss it.
Hope your Christmas was as nice as, or even nicer, than mine!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
We all have our holiday traditions. Mine will be a little askew this year as I am not doing all the barn work.
Part of my tradition is to make sure the stalls are super clean and bedded for Christmas Eve just in case the Christ Child happens by. My barn has a star on the run in roof which I will be sure is lit for the evening as well. Because I haven't been doing all the evening chores lately, I have not turned on the lights every other night. Tonight will be special.
The Boys do not get presents exactly. I did buy two new blankets for Chance and Toby, and will probably dress Toby in his today--Chance is already wearing his. Otherwise, my Boys have just about everything any horse could want, so they don't need much.
Except for the carrots and apples. Each year I go to the supermarket and buy fresh carrots with the greens still attached. Normally, carrots around here are sold in cellophane bags with the greenery cut off. The greenery carrots come in small bunches of five or six and cost a lot more. But, when it's a Christmast present, it's worth it. Apples? Again they are packed in cellophane bags sold in three and five pound lots. I managed to find two nice five pound bags, so we are well set there too. I could have gone to one of the orchard farms around here to get a basketful of local apples, but again, my physical limits this year put a damper on that idea.
The Boys get their treats in the evening and late night feeds Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning. The apples last longer as I only feed them one at a time, spreading the holiday cheer over the week.
Christmas Eve for me is usually spent with my small remaining family--two sets of cousins and my aunt. My nephews and sister-in-law are on the West Coast now, so I don't see them much. Years ago, we all used to go to my grandmother's house just up the road where my father's whole family would gather and this little group is all that's left to hold up the family tradition. My Aunt used to live next door but since has moved to her son's house. Now her daughter will be hosting the annual Christmas Eve celebration. She does not live far from here so I'll be fine going over for a while--until I wear out, as I am still kind of tired much of the time.
Some years I go to one of the three church services my church offers, especially if I am singing. This year, however, I am not planning on that, as pretty as it may be. I think the family event will be more than enough for me.
I make a point of getting myself home in plenty of time to visit my barn at midnight. I love the old legend of how the animals talk on Christmas Eve and keep hoping I will drop in on a horsey conversation during the magic hour.
Christmas Day plans are up in the air. There is definitely a family dinner, but for me it's on hold until I see how I feel.
Whatever your traditions, whatever your plans, may the season bring you all the joy, hope, love and peace it has promised for centuries.
Merry Christmas to all!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
My horses are, generally, well behaved, polite fellows. Except sometimes....and someone....and that one happens to be the big bay Tucker who has an ATTITUDE. It could be his social status in the herd--second fiddle with aspirations of being alpha horse--or his Bold Ruler breeding, but he does think he should be in charge.
This is particularly true at feeding time or saddling time. I constantly have to watch is mouth in case he tries to take a bite, and his hind feet in case he tries to take a kick. While he has nipped me, he has never kicked me, but I consider any hind foot lifted off the ground when I am near his hind end a threat, so I am ever cautious.
In his small defense, I am sure he suffered from ulcers for quite some time and he did learn to be very defensive about being touched behind the girth--particularly on his right side--but he's been well treated for that, so I don't hold it as much of an excuse. Let us just say he is sensitive about his "space" and prefers life to run his way instead of any other.
When I feed him he will lay his ears back if I go back into the stall, and swish his hind end, shuffling his back feet, offering that threat to kick. If I make a move to adjust his blanket, he will "snake" his head an threaten to bite me. In essence, he treats me as another horse trying to take his food.
My response? Backatcha, baby.
I have always found the best answer to a threat to kick or bite, is a kick or bite back--sharp and first. The feed bucket is great for the "kick" part as a good, quick swat with the flat bottom makes a nice loud sound on his rump and doesn't hurt him one bit. His ears fly up to polite attention, and he plants both feet firmly on the ground after one quick step to move out of my way to give me the respectful space I deserve. The correction is my version of a kick, exactly as another horse would do to put him in his place. And Tucker accepts this as fair and warranted.
My response to his offer to bite is equally quick and needs nothing but my fingers. I use my hand, with my fingers stiff, to give him a "bite" any where I can reach. I developed this teachnique after a Kenny Harlow technique of grabbing and pinching the biting horse's nose--again as another horse might. While I like that method the best, Tuck, at nearly 17 h. can get his head too high too fast for me to reach said nose, so I find "biting" him anywhere does the job nearly as well.
In both cases, my responses to the bad behavior is similar to another horse's response, so I am doing the "horse whispering" thing by talking equine.
Please note that all my horses have been handled with the same consistent training and ground handling since I got them. I've owned Toby and Tucker since they were two years old and Chance since he was three, so there is no reason in his training background for Tucker's attitude. I am firmly convinced every horse has his own personality and temperament and there is very little we can do to change that. Tucker is the kind of horse ready, willing, and able to constantly challenge and test his limits and restrictions. He's the kid in class always trying to see just what he can get away with.
Like any good teacher, my job is to find the materials and methods to get across his lessons effectively. So far, so good.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Some days I feel almost normal and other days, I don't feel well at all. Stomach issues and a lack of appetite seem to be the more constant complaints. Apparently both are fairly common with abdominal surgeries. I am trying to be patient, but it does get tiring. Yesterday I ate, today I have no interest in food and have a bit of pain. Nothing intolerable, but definitely annoying.
I did go to my wonderful chiropractor this morning as all the lying about has messed up my upper back and I was getting rather uncomfortable. No sign of a headache, at least, but now I am sneezing and seem to be battling a cold! That's what I get for venturing out in the world on my own. Better to have remained a hermit for the duration. *just kidding* I'll work on my standard home remedies and hopefully beat the worst of it back.
My good friend Bill's number one son came over yesterday to drive the tractor about and clear up some more of my snow. I wanted to be sure my farrier could get in if he needed to and also that I could get the horse trailer out in case of emergency. While he was working, I went to the tack store in search of some blankets for the orphan horses (Toby and Chance) and when I got back I found the yard nicely plowed , the ends of my driveways cleared out, and one happy young man grinning from ear to ear up in the tractor seat. Number one son was having the time of his life. He wouldn't take a penny for all the work he'd done because, as he said, "It's just too much fun driving this tractor!"
It was his last day before some foot surgery so he was treating himself to a day out on the machines. I think he was going snowmobiling afterwards. He is fine and back home now today, but I suspect he is not too comfortable yet. Having had my surgery, I am well aware of how both the anesthesia and the procedures can affect your body. It will take a day or so for him to start to feel better, but his parents are gems and will take good care of him in the meantime.
The horse Boys ventured out into the pasture this morning, cutting their way through the snow in search of something to do. I haven't seen much romping and frolicking out there, however. I don't know if they have not been playing or if I just have not been watching at the right time. When I spoke to Stacie the other day, she'd turned her little herd out and they'd gone into a galloping, bucking, playing frenzy. It must have been quite a sight. Once again, apparently no camera in hand at the right moment.
Stacie had over two feet of snow down her way (only about 45 minutes south of me) and she'd kept her horses in during the storm. My Boys--at least Toby and Chance--had the run of the paddocks, barn, and run in sheds during the snowfall, so perhaps the novelty wore off pretty quickly.
I know the novelty's worn off for me.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
We have over a foot of snow. Hard to be 100% sure how much, but I measured over 13 inches by the back door where, perhaps the wind did not come into play. Trudging out to the barn was a bit of work, but now that my feet have made a path, the later trips should be easier.
Donna carted three bales of hay to the barn yesterday, and I've used up one so far as I gave the Boys extra last night at late feeding. I do have a little sled to get more over there should the need arise, but I certainly will not be able to do the transport of a full bale. I've used the sled in the past and it does work well, however, so if I want to take some flakes over it will be fine. Grain and water are all in the barn already, so there's no extra lugging there.
Cleaning the stalls is a problem at the moment. Again, I would normally shovel a path to the manure pile, but one little effort to clean off the back step of the house told me there is no shoveling I can do at the moment. The snow is wet enough to have a bit of weight and just moving some of it so the door to the house would open was a challenge to my body. Healing muscles in my abdomen are very sore and I definitely don't need to risk damaging anything.
So, I am stuck. Until rescue parties arrive to do some plowing, "tractoring," or shoveling, I will just have to cope.
Would you believe church was actually cancelled for today? I got a call from the choir director yesterday and an email message from the church that services were called off due to the storm. Wise move, actually. I trust God understands that sometimes humans just have to surrender to His creation. The church is in a town, so I suppose some people might have been able to walk there. For me, it would have been impossible as my driveway is impassable and my road doesn't look too great either. There might be a chance that my truck, in full four wheel drive mode might be able to get me out in a real emergency, but it might not be a pretty picture.
I remember one year when we had a storm worse than this one. My one driveway was totally drifted in. I had the other truck with a snow plow on it. I managed to clean about 30 feet of the one side of the driveway (my driveway loops in a "U" around my house with two ends opening on the road.) But then I was stuck with about 6 feet of heavy snow piled up in front of the plow. So, I started out the other driveway, plowing at angles to keep the snow from piling up in front of the blade. (No room to do that on the first side.) After about 20 minutes of that, I still had some 75 feet to the break open. I backed the truck up to the top of the little hill, dropped the plow and gunned the engine. The Dodge battering ram and I went smashing through and out into the roadway with my driveway finally open!! Thank goodness there was no one coming down the road when I broke through. It took a HUGE front end loader from the heavy equipment operators across the street to get my first driveway cleared later that day as that snow was so bad, but I had conquered one side all on my own. I felt so pleased.
Which is why all of this is so frustrating. I really do like to feel self-reliant.
On another note...solar energy. I have suddenly received, from the electric company, a set of revised invoices indicating I have over $600 worth of credit to my account since May. They have been charging me for full energy usage every month, deducting money from my bank account on auto pay, even though I have been producing more solar energy than I have been using. (Except for perhaps one month when the air conditioning ran full force).
Now I am totally baffled. They installed a bi-directional meter in May and back credited all my bills from January. I had thought, after that, that each month's bill would reflect how much energy I was producing to offset my bills. Not having paid a lot of attention to my total monthly energy usage in the past, and knowing that energy prices were soaring, I was having trouble figuring out just how much I should have been paying. When my August and usage were actually higher than the year before--when I did not have solar energy--I was really perplexed, so I started keeping closer tabs on things. But then, my medical concerns kind of took top priority and I lost momentum.
But now?? I now have a revised bill from May, showing a $600+ credit on my account. Yet, according to my bank statements, I have been paying electric bills all year. Why wasn't that credit applied to my bills? Of course all this "stuff" arrived in the mail yesterday, so with the snow and the weekend, I certainly cannot get any answers.
I am going to have a very interesting phone call sometime tomorrow trying to get this sorted out. Better yet, even if they credit me with the money on my energy bills for the coming months, the credit will just escalate as it seems a good number of those months I was producing more energy than I was using. That means the energy company owes me for the extra my system produces. Confused? So am I. *lol*
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Just a dusting so far, but there are dire predictions for tonight for anywhere from 12-20 inches of the white stuff. I always care when this happens, but this time I care more. Due to my condition, I cannot shovel. While I do have the tractor with the front end loader, I'm pretty sure operating it is not exactly the best idea either. And, it has a chronic soft tire in front that needs air and carting the compressor over to fill it is also not on my list of "things I can do."
Which means....I am very likely to be snowed in should we get the predicted storm. I do have potential rescue parties on the horizon, eventually, however, so for once in my life I will just have to wait it out. I have plenty of hay and grain for the Boys and as long as I can slog through to the barn, they will be fine, which means I too will be fine.
Curious how, even in this advanced technological age, we are still easy victims of the weather. You would think mankind would lose some of its arrogance in the face of nature, but somehow we still think we can defy it. The recent global warming conference just accents our convictions that we are somehow in charge. The nations who refused to acknowledge the crisis seem to think their needs and progress surpasses any other needs the world may have to protect and defend the climate. How foolish to believe that humans have no responsibilty to treat nature with the respect it deserves. *sigh*
The Boys are hanging out on the hill corner by the trees out in the pasture, despite the weather. I dressed them in their winter blankets this morning--although I was much surprised to discover I had a rather limited choice of decent ones to use. They are fine in what they are wearing, but it looks as if I need to do some upgrading, sooner than later. Toby has a duct tape patch, Tucker has a broken chest strap, and Chance is a little snugger in his than he could be. I do have some alternatives, including some lighter weight blankets that I use under waterproof sheets, so it's not as if they will be naked at any point, but one good winter turnout for each one would be nice. I found some on sale that just might do, so perhaps I will place an order. I just my buy three of the same size if I do. Chance can use one size smaller than the big boys, but he can also wear the same size if need be. It would just make it easier sorting things out for the wardrobe.
I just put more of the lovely second cutting hay in the stalls should they decide to come in from the far reaches. I called them to let them know, but aside from pricking up their ears at the sound of my voice--a fair enough compliment from horses--they didn't seem too interested.
The snow seems to be starting up again. Apparently the storm slowed down a bit on its way up the coast and is arriving later than predicted. I might take a quick trip out to get some milk as the quart I have is a bit older than it should be. Other than that, I am in fine fettle for a stay in.
Did I say hate snow?
Friday, December 18, 2009
"Armchair Quarterback" is a term often used in the USA to describe the person watching an American Football game criticising the quarterback (the leader of the team who calls the plays) from his living room as he watches the game. He's just a viewer, of course, not out there on the field, but he is always ready to comment on how another play should have been called when one fails.
It's easy to sit on the sidelines watching other people work, thinking you could do it better. It's a lot different when you, yourself are actually doing the work.
It's the same with horses. I remember a number of clinics I attended with my horses over the years where the trainer kept telling me what to do as I repeatedly had no success. These were, most of the time, highly rated international trainers. (I live on the East Coast of the USA, less than an hour from the US Equestrian Team Headquarters--not so much used now--and many international stars would frequent our area with clinics because of that.) Often, when things would not work out, I might hand the reins over to the trainer and simply say, "Show me."
The results were often not at all what the trainer would expect. My PJ, in particular, was a senstive fellow, very eager to please, but very quickly tense when he didn't understand something. Bully him around, and he would "freeze" up in his efforts. One German instructor insisted he could get him going "right" in a matter of minutes. It was a disaster as poor PJ just got more and more tense with his strong arm tactics. A Swedish trainer insisted she could accomplish something, got on and within a few minutes had PJ nicely on the bit--to her mind--but when I asked he if she had really intended to ride a sharp haunches in on the circle to do it, she gulped, tried to straighten him, and lost the program all together. One Danish trainer, for which I will never quite forgive myself, rode PJ into the ground in a rollkur horror during a clinic when I could not ride due to a broken wrist. (It took three chiropractic/acupunture treatments to get my Boy back to 100% afterwards.)
This is all one of the reasons I loved riding with New Zealand trainer, Lockie Richards. Lockie had been an international even rider, the coach of the national team and eventually a Grand Prix competitor. Due to financial restrictions, he often worked with more difficult horses during his career. (By the by, Aragon's horse in "Lord of the Rings," Brego, was Lockie's former Grand Prix mount.) Because of his experience with all kinds of horses, Lockie had a huge "bag of training tricks" to deal with nearly every kind of situation he might encounter in a lesson.
There was never one approach with Lockie. If one technique didn't work, he'd come up with another. Little "miracle" cures often solved big problems. I subtle ways I learned to shift weight to a seatbone by "dropping my knee," or, get this, "dropping my ear," on one side or the other to get my horse straighter. And if Lockie did get on my horse, you could always see the master at work. He'd try a dozen little exercises or changes to fix a problem, rarely, if ever, confronting the horse to the point of emotional upset.
But, above all, he was one of the best "armchair quarterbacks" I've ever met in the horse world. When he taught, I could tell he was riding along with me, not just observing and making decisions based on what he thought "might" be happening. He "knew" what was happening at that moment and addressed the issue just as if he were in the saddle along with me.
Whenever it comes time for me to teach or train, I try to keep that concept in mind. As well, when I comes time for me to comment on or critique someone else's training or riding--unless I see something I consider outright cruelty (rollkur for example)--I do try to bite my tongue. Unless I have been in the saddle on that particular horse, perhaps it's not my place to make a judgment about what's right and wrong.
It's something to think about.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Not being quite up to par healthwise offers a new perspective. My bad knees have limited me for years and years, so I have often viewed the world with a notice that there are just some things I cannot do--like running, jumping, and mounting my horse from the ground.
With my surgery, I am now even more limited as I cannot pick up so called "heavy" objects. Ten pounds is the limit and, as all of you with horses know, the world of horses is full of things weighing more than ten pounds.
A bag of grain here in the US is 50 pounds. The bales of hay I get weigh in anywhere from about 30-40 pounds apiece. My saddles, treeless so they are much lighter than a treed saddle, still weigh it at, I think, around 15 pounds. Of course, I can't ride anyhow, so it doesn't matter, but it is an observation. And what about horse blankets? Not sure, but a wet one is probably pretty heavy. One gallon of water is 8.8 pounds, so a 2 gallon bucket is too heavy too and forget about a bag of wood shavings or a wheelbarrow even partially filled with manure.
All of my cats are over 10 pounds, for good or ill. My big concern about that is should any one of them have need of a trip to the vet during my lay up, I can't carry them. So far, so good, but it does not rest easy on my mind.
Should I go grocery shopping, I need to be careful how many things I put in a bag.
All in all, it puts a different perspective on the world. I will just have to see things with new eyes for a few more weeks.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
My incision feels so much better now that the staples are out. My doctor removed them this morning. He told me again that the pathology report was good and the cancer was confined to my uterus, so I need no further treatment. However, for the next five years, I will need to have regular follow up visits to be sure all is well.
My next appointment is in four weeks, at which time he will probably give me clearance to resume really "normal" activities, including physical therapy, which I will likely need at that point. He said I could to the treadmill and stationay bike for exercise, but neither one of those choices is "knee friendly" for me. I'll try the bike a little in a week or so, but if it hurts my knees as I suspect, it's off the list. Guess I'll just fall into a state of physical "fitlessness." *lol*
Actually, I won't be too much worse off than I am most winters except I can't get the added exercise of pushing the wheelbarrow through the mud or shoveling snow...heaven forbid. Feeding the Boys does take about a half hour at least, more if I fill the water tub with the gallon bucket, so it's not as if I am totally bedridden.
I don't have much of an appetite yet, another common consequence of the surgery, so I am definitely not gaining weight. In fact, I have lost some which, for me, is a really good thing.
Meantime I got the Boys back out to the pasture today. Things did dry up enough to clear some of the mud, but it also got cold enough to do some ground freezing again. Tucker was delighted but Toby and Chance were not so impressed. I don't know if it was "cute," "cuddly" or just plain typical horse, but when I opened the gate for them neither one went through until I went first. Then they both hung around me for a while. Then Toby moved off and Chance stayed for an extra bit of attention. I'd love to think it was just wanting to be near me, but it might have been the expectation of a treat instead.
Hard to tell with horses, sometimes. They are wiser and deeper in understanding than many people realize and I have a gut feeling my Boys are watching out for me at least a little. Tucker has been very gentle and cautious around me so far and Toby has not been as standoff as he often is. Chance is a cuddle bunny anyhow, so he's an open book.
Regardless, their presence is enough to make anyone feel better.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
As I had gone off the pain meds for at least the day, I decided to see how driving was and made an appointment for the chiropractor for late afternoon.
I am SO glad I did. There were a serious number of vertebrae out of alignment in my back, all contributing to my general feeling of "not quite well." Most important, perhaps were the mid back ones that do affect digestion and can make you nauseous. I didn't think about that as a factor, but once I was adjusted, I had an almost instant sense of relief--kind of unusual under more normal circumstances.
One muscle in my back is still annoying me a little, but I will wait a few more days and then go back for another treatment. All I can say is that for now, I feel SO much better!
Which offers a word about alternative medicine. How sad that the mainstream medical world does not tend to recognize the value of anything except conventional practices. I had a doctor once totally scoff at the idea a chiropractor could cure my migraine headache and instead insisted an overdose of aspirin and Tylenol (potentially dangerous to the liver) was his solution. Had I had a good chiropractor in the hospital, I'd wager I would have been feeling a heck of a lot better a heck of a lot sooner than I did. Add to that something like acupuncture--I've had it in the past but not tried it yet for this--and the benefits soar.
Yet skeptics hold the reins of power. Too bad. It is rare to find a doctor who is ready, willing and able to see both sides of the issue. For example, in my case, surgery was probably a necessity. (There is a treatment called "chelation therapy" that might have some ability to cure cancers but in this situation, the surgery is so super successful, it is the better option.) My chiropractic center--which has medical doctors on staff--never questioned that, so why would a conventional doctor question chiropractic if I insisted it worked for me?
Unfortunately, at least here in the USA, there is a long standing rift between the two schools of thought. At one time conventional medical doctors were even trying to make chiropractic illegal....for horses too. I boarded at a barn run by a vet who refused to let a horse chiropractor practice on the farm, so the horse owner and chiropractor had to go to an adjacent empty field for treatment. Silly stuff, now that I look back on it, but feelings were pretty strong then.
I am certain there are some "not so good" practicing chiropractors out there, but I have a wonderful one. He promised me when I came in again after surgery that he could adjust me without my having to lie on my stomach on the table. So we did some of the work with me sitting up, and some with me lying on my back. All I can say is, "Wow!!" My doctor, Shawn Morris of the AIMS Clinic in East Brunswick is a miracle worker!
After the adjustmen I headed out to a few stores. I wanted to get some Activia yogurt for my tummy and perhaps a new string of Christmas lights for the back porch. Yogurt, no problem. Lights? Three stores were completely sold out, including Target and Home Depot. The guy in Home Depot said it is the first time he can ever remember this happening. While I am pretty sure I can fix my lights as I presume it's just a bad fuse...I am amazed not to be able to find a new string somewhere. Before my surgery, when I was shopping, the shelves were full of all kinds of lights. Now, nothing...literally. I am definitely going to have to drive around to look at displays on other houses to figure this one out. Is the stumbling economy making people overdo in order to brighten up their emotions? Curious. The new LED lights to not take up lots of power, so they are fairly economical to operate. Could that contribute?
I may take a drive later in the opposite direction to see of there are any lights east of here to buy. In the meantime, I hope your holiday is already lit up with the promise of good things to come.
And thanks, I am feeling much better now that I have been adjusted. *G*
Monday, December 14, 2009
They had to cancel the procession down Main Street to the inn last night. I was dreadfully rainy, cold, and beyond miserable. So the entire pagneant was held inside the church during the service.
There would be a short Bible reading of the Christmas story, two musical pieces illustrating the story, and during the music, the varied members--Mary, Joseph, Angels, Shepherds, and Kings walked down the aisle to the front of the sanctuary to pose in the nativity. It's always a touch corny in that nice, warm Christmasy way. I get all choked up at points.
The chorale/choir sang five numbers this year. The brass ensemble played several, the bells played several, and the children's choir sang two pieces. The whole service took just over an hour.
We were quite pleased with our choir performance overall, though, as ususal, there were a few little "not quite" right moments. Nothing serious and all the songs sounded great. My solo part in the second to last number was totally on target, which pleased me no end. There had been a couple places were I had made some repeated mistakes, but once I figured out what I'd done wrong in the past, I made the corrections and did it just right in performance. It's a bouncy, yet dramatic piece--sort of a spiritual with a beat--and at the end I have a descant that adds some real power to it. There were two short solo verse parts too, nothing big, but that kind of vocal variation adds a lot to a musical number and I was happy to have been able to do it so we had the full effect.
After the service, we went to the choir director's house for our annual get together and I guess I stayed until around 9 PM. (service started at 4 PM with a 3:15 rehearsal prior) By the time a friend drove me home, I was exhausted. And, to my surprise quite sore. I was in bed within the hour and found that an ice pack was the biggest help with another dose of painkiller. Guess all the extra effort of the evening was more than I thought.
But I had a great time and really enjoyed myself. Now I feel Christmas is really on the way.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
My friends took me out to dinner last night. The food was delicious, even though I did not finish my plate. Once more, I have more food in the fridge to enjoy later. Afterwards, we went to their house--this is my choir director and his wife--and we practiced the Vespers music. I am pleased to report I will be able to sing all just fine, including the solo part.
This was a good test run for Sunday, and I felt just fine. When I got back home I was not too tired and no more sore than when I'd left. So that too is good. My next door neighbor wants to take care of the Boys for the late night feed a while longer. He really enjoys being with the horses and doing something special for them, so I agreed to let him continue. It does make it easier for me not to have to go out at 11 or 12 PM, so that's good. As long as everyone is happy, the arrangement works by me.
I used my one gallon bucket to top off the water tub in the arena this morning, another good accomplishment as I always worry about the Boys having enough water to drink. The heater is working well in the tub, so I have no problems there either. I am not sure about the heated bucket we put in Tucker's stall. It had a thin layer of ice on it this morning. If it freezes up again, I will switch to one of the other two heated buckets I have, hoping at least one of them will be OK. I've only had the buckets since last year, so I have no idea how long they should last or what the operational efficiency should be, but I was hoping the water would not freeze at all. Anyone know about them?
I woke up early this morning to a riot of noise from the sand pit across the way. There is a huge--nearly 200 acre freshwater lake over there--which has always been a "hang out" for Canada geese. This time of year, the flocks are in migration and I guess one of the larger ones decided to put in for the night across the road. I actually enjoy the sound in a lot of ways, but I have to wonder if the geese themselves ever tire of living in constant concert of honks. While I grant morning was making its presence felt when I woke up to hear them, I am not so sure they were actually all that quiet in the darkness. I wonder what the need is for the constant chatter?
As I was feeding, another huge flock flew overhead in the famous "vee" formations filling the sky with rushing wings and more music. Because of all the habitat we have created around here with warehouse ponds, lawns, etc. some of the birds do winter over here, but these must have been the wiser, "southern snowbird" types headed for warmer climes. It is always an amazing sight.
Nothing special on the agenda today except to practice some of the bits of music I am not quite sure of. Found out one of our other sopranos had a fall the other day and will probably not be at the service and an alto was going into the hospital for a procedure as well. Another singer will be joining us to boost our numbers, so all should be fine. We are not a young choir by any means, and for some reason, younger people do not seem to join. Kind of frustrating but, perhaps a sign of the times.
Keep your toes warm!
Friday, December 11, 2009
The ground froze last night. The up side is that there was no mud. The downside is that means the hoses to the water tubs will freeze too. That means either a "bucket brigade" to fill them should need be...and I can only carry one gallon at a time....or the curly annoying spiral hose I keep on the back porch for just such events. Right now, the tubs are full, the heaters ar working and all is well...but down the line. *sigh*
At least Tucker and the other Boys are out together both in the arena and pasture. While it was windy and cold, they have ample shelter. The windy side of the pasture itself backs up to the woods with a line if nice thick trees to block the winds from the west. Should the wind come from the east, the tree line can protect them on the other side of the fence inside the riding arena. Then, of course they have the three sided run in shed at the west end of the arena as well. The only thing better is when they have full access to the barn for protection.
I managed taking care of the Boys just fine again this morning and it does make me feel pretty good to get out there, even in the cold. I may have carried a little more hay than I should have--nothing pulled or hurt when I did, but I had to make note that perhaps I will cut back next time. All in all, the basic exercise is good for me and three well behaved horses just makes it all a pleasure.
For basic handling like this, I do not put halters on the Boys. I have cotton "neck" ropes with a snap and ring on them that I fasten around their necks to lead them that way. They are all gentlemen about it, so I usually don't have any problems. Times like this it really pays off to have all the basic handling/training finished on a horse. You still have to be careful should something overly exciting happen when you are leading, of course, as I know very few horses who are perfect every moment of their lives, but when the basics are solid, you usually can handle most situations.
But, there is the phrase often used around here, "Save yourself!!" At that moment, it's time to just let go of the lead line, whatever, get out of the way, and let the horse "do his thing." When horses explode and panic, there is no point in getting yourself hurt in a vain attempt to protect the horse. It may seem irresponsible, but if you get injured, then there will be nothing you can do to help the horse out once he settles down again. "Save yourself," is the extreme warning cry and well worth heeding.
The wind seems to have calmed down now. Not sure what the evening plan is, but I hope to see some friends tonight at some point. Two other friends stopped over yesterday evening and brought me a big basket of fruit. Once more, I have enough food for a small army. My appetite is OK, so I've been eating, but there is a limit to just how much one person can eat. I blush to say it, but I did share some of the apples in the basket with the Boys. I know they appreciated them.
So much for today. Donna will be over later to do the barn chores. All appears well at Follywoods and I am definitely on the mend.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
We had torrential rain last night and early this morning. So much I actually have puddles under the run in roof!! Must have been a northeast wind along with it to push the water in there.
Tucker stayed in for most of the morning and I turned him out in the riding arena around 2 PM or so for a little exercise. Around that time the solar panel guys showed up again to caulk the barn roof as I am still having some water leak in along the seam where the two barn roofs join. When they installed the panels, they accidently ran a screw through that seam and it's been a bit of an issue ever since. They did some extra good caulking today, so perphaps this time it will work.
I took two good walks around my property for major exercise in the meantime. It is another lovely day out there but incredibly wet and soggy. I am lucky that my property is high and drains relatively well, so we are not knee deep in mud--at least not everywhere. The paddocks are certainly not great, but with the new gutters on the barn, perhaps even they will improve over time.
I am still sore, but each day it gets a "little" better.
Yes, Muriel, the Vespers service is an evening musical celebration of Christmas. All the choirs in the church have prepared selections. We have a bell choir, a brass choir, a children's band, one or two children's choirs, and our own chancel chorale/choir. As each part of the Christmas story is read, musical pieces comment on that part of the story. So there are pieces for the annunciation, the shepherds, the kings, the angels, the star, the birth, and the joy of the season. It really is a pretty service and one I always look forward to. My solo is two verses of the "star" song, "O, Wondrous Star," and a descant that adds to the choral part. It is an effective number and I hope to do justice to it. So far, I feel fine when I try to sing, so it should be OK.
I can sit during most of the service if I want to, but it's kind of hard to see the director if I do, so I'll just see how that goes. Besides, by Sunday I should be feeling even better than I am now.
Love the holidays. Hate the rain!!!
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
So when Donna came to take care of the Boys this morning I went out too.
I was able to: Turn Tuck out in the arena. Give all three Boys their buckets of hay cubes. Help Donna clean and fill the water tubs--mostly by turning on and off the water. Put the water heater in the tub by the barn. Move a couple flakes of hay (very light ones). Feed the squirrels. Feed the birds. Feed the stray kitty. (Didn't see him/her, but did put the food out.) Cuddle Tucker who was being very cute and friendly to me.
The exercise felt good and I felt better than I've felt in days as I was doing the chores.
I am not good about doing exercises just for the sake of exercise. Physical therapy tends to get on my nerves even though I know it helps me. But getting something done when I exercise seems to brighten me up, that's for sure. Fortunately, I was in pretty good shape before the surgery, so that the "work" today was not too exhausting. And, as I'd taken my pain pills, I wasn't uncomfortable. There is one step going up into the feed room and one going down as well, neither of which posed a problem.
Most interesting to me at the moment is that my knees do not seem to be hurting me at all. I don't know if the pain meds are having an effect or if all the lying about helped more. Either way, I am grateful for that as limping about would not be my idea of a good time recovery.
Trouble is that tomorrow's weather forecast is bad--rain and wind. Kind of depressing when I have just rediscovered the pleasure of being out and about with the Boys and the barn.
How does the old saying go, "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man?" Winston Churchill. Proof positive as far as I'm concerned. Today, for a while, I felt almost 100%.
But that's when I have to be extra careful not to be lured into a sense of strength and healing I have not yet reached. I checked myself a few time before moving or picking up anything I even suspected might be over the max weight limit.
I will be cautious. I just have to make sure I keep my brain engaged at all times.
On the food front, I am so lucky. As noted, my friend's wife sent food over, and another friend called today to offer more for me to eat. She decided to wait a week since I am quite well supplied. Sometimes, it just seems when other people cook for you, the food just tastes so much better. I am still not very hungry but I am eating, so no worry there.
Next project is to fit myself up so I can sing at the Vespers service on Sunday. I can sing, I know that as my upper muscles are more important and I can project my voice just fine. I want to make sure I can last the whole service and do all the getting up and down I need to do throughout. The pageant is going on this year as well, with the full manger scene in the church as the service progresses. I always love that.
Future looks brighter than it did a few days ago when I was still in the hospital. There's no place like home!
I am taking my pain meds, for all of you who have so advised. While I hate the idea of being dependent, they really do help with the soreness and "heaviness" I feel.
I am up and about, and have been outside a few times. The Boys were not too impressed by my homecoming, but perhaps our "psychic" connections are strong enough that they knew all along what was going on. Besides, Donna has been taking excellent care of them, so all their needs have been met. As far as the basics go, I am just an outside "accessory" for the time being. *G*
While I was away, my friend Bill put gutters on the barn and cleaned up my leaves. Yesterday he dropped over with some delicious meals whis wife sent to me and then he went out and put some plastic coverings on my Christmas light connections as I think the rain/snow had shorted something out. We had a nice chat for a while. Later on, I got a call from my church pal, Dawn, who was in the area and she dropped over for a short visit as well.
I was up and down out of bed/couch quite a bit and did a fair share of walking, all part of my recovery prescription. But I must admit I am very tired most of the time. I do hope that too is normal.
Meantime, I am discovering the vast wasteland of daytime TV and just king of hanging around.
I don't sit at the computer for too long at a time, so I am still catching up on missed blogs. Please be patient with me. I will get back to you as soon as I am able.
Monday, December 07, 2009
And a good night's sleep for the first time since Thursday.
If you have never been in the hospital, you have probably heard the stories. You do not get any real rest there. First night, my roommate was wheeled in at about 8:30 after her extended surgery, waking me up. Then all through the night, nurses and aides were in and out taking our blood pressure and temperatures. Or taking blood, or asking if we were OK or....a being called to do something about the annoying beeping alarms on our IV fluids bags.
The doctors showed up early in the AM to do rounds, and then breakfast arrived and more blood pressure tests...etc. I will not go into all the details, but by Saturday night, I was totally crashed. I was having severe gas pains and nothing seemed to be helping.
That was when "Saint" Mary, my sweet nurse stepped in. First, she assured me the pains were very common with this kind of surgery and that once they eased I would feel SO much better. Walking would, she said help, and she suggested I take the optional full dose of my pain medication. (Two pills instead of one.) I did and within a half hour, I zonked out for a good four hour heavy sleep until the blood pressure aide showed up, blared on the lights and then came back within an hour to take more blood tests. That and another two alarms on my IV--I'd been hooked back up due to some nausea--ruined the rest of the night, but at least I got some sleep.
Last night, here at home, was positively heavenly although I did have to get up once to take some more pain meds. I have been advised to just spoil myself with the medication and not be shy about taking it.
So, so far, so good. It will be 4-6 weeks before I am back to normal, so don't expect much in the way of horse reports. Meantime thanks for all your good wishes and good vibes. I think they helped.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
However I managed to spend the whole day and still not finish "things," I'll never know, but I never did ride. Perhaps it's just as well, as then I will not miss it quite so much. If I'd had a splendid time, I'd be itching to do it all again...and for the time being, I can't.
I had to drop off some insurance checks at the chiropractor, then I went to get some more cat food, then I stopped at the Vitamin Shoppe to get my $20 off, then I went to get my hair cut, and last of all, I stopped at the bank to do a bit of financial stuff.
I went to the supermarket again...I have enough food to last the winter, I think....mostly to get fresh asparagus on sale and ended up buying a bunch of other stuff. Important stuff like carrots and apples for the Boys!!!!
Then, I decided to move the electronic keyboard out of the living room into the sunroom and before I knew it, I started a whole organizing project in there. It's kind of finished, with a bit more to do. I figured it might be kind of nice to hang out in there during recovery, so I needed a cleanup and some lamp repair/placement and...well, before I knew it, it was feeding time for the Boys.
That led me out to the barn and a new broom I had to assemble. That done, the aisle swept, I put the feed in the stalls and invited the Boys in. By then....it was raining, so any hope of catching even a school in the arena was kind of washed up.
Now all I have to do is finish up the laundry, find a place to put all the food I bought, and pack a little bag to take to the hospital.
Now, on to grave blankets. These are decorations of greenery, etc. put on graves as memorials during the holidays. It's like putting flowers on a grave to remember someone, and the tradition of greenery during the winter began because there are no flowers. Some people just put wreaths by the tombstones, but I think a spray of greens/holly/and ribbon looks nicer. Using greens from our yard honors both my parents. My mother used to love to bring holly and evergreens into the house for the holidays and my dad was an incredible gardner, so using our own beautiful plants seems to speak my love for them both.
Come to think of it, if I am up and around enough to take a walk in the woods before Christmas, I might see if I can find some standing pine to add to the blanket. My mother used to pick it every year to keep in the house over the holidays and I've seen quite a few nice patches in the woods--none of which would suffer if I cut a few fronds.
Signing off for a few days. My friend, who will be taking care of the horses, has some email addys to send news to my blogger friends. Hopefully you will hear from me sooner than later.
Now, where the heck am I going to put ten cans of soup and five boxes of instant oatmeal and....? *lol*
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
I have all kinds of little chores to complete before my surgery. This morning I had my last physical therapy and chiropractic adjustment until who knows when. Then I stopped at the Vitamin Shoppe on the way home to pick up some supplements to help my recovery.
Once I was back home, I put the decorations up on the horse barn, including the Christmas star. Then, it occurred to me that I needed to put a grave blanket/cover on my parents' grave for Christmas and this would be the last opportunity before I could not do any lifting. I got some wire, my clippers and creative intent and cut some greenery including some of the beautiful holly to make my own blanket. I used to buy one, but I always added some greens from home and now I find it much more personal to make one all of our own evergreens. I had a nice red bow to add and by the time I was done, it did look quite nice. I drove over to the cemetery, said a few words, and placed it on the grave.
On the way home, I stopped at the supermarket to fill in a few things on my shopping list. By the time I got back, it was closing in on when I had to leave to meet my friend from school for an early dinner. I headed out early so I could stop at Barnes and Noble to get some books for hospital entertainment, went to dinner and headed for the second supermarket to finish up the shopping on my list. We have at least five different markets for general shopping, all of which feature different sales each week. I'd read over some of the advertising fliers, and knew what I wanted to buy where, but even so, I probably did not get the best possible deals. All I know is that I have food to carry me through the first part of my home recovery with not too much work to do on my part.
As you may have noted, there was not much time to ride/work the Boys again. And, I'm not sure about today either. I still have to get some extra cat food for the outdoor kitty, and two checks came in the mail that I need to get to my chiropractor's office, so I might head out to PetSmart at some point and drop the checks off on the trip. I need to tidy up the kitchen...a lot and put the new food somewhere easy to reach. I did manage to get the new matress pad sorted out in the bedroom last night, and do one load of laundry...one more to go.
I am thinking that somewhere in the daylight hours I will be able to get a trail ride in, at least, but you never know.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Just as I had finished putting the Boys out to pasture, Scott, my farrier showed up to replace Tuck's lost shoe. The never ending saga of men and phone calls. Ah well. So, I brought Tucker back in.
Scott will be back to do the full shoeing either at the end of the week or perhaps next week, depending on how his schedule is, so I gave him my friend's phone number and will give her a "heads up," in case he calls while I am still in the hospital.
Speaking of. Although the laptop is kind of a neat idea, I am not supposed to take anything expensive in with me....no jewelry, money, etc.....so a computer would not be a good idea. I guess they worry about personal possessions getting lost or stolen during all the shuffling about. During my D&C I was in at least five separate locations. Besides, I have a feeling that at least for day one, I will not want anything near my lap. *G*
If all goes as planned, I will be operated on Thursday morning and I will spend Thursday night and, I guess Friday night, in the hospital and hopefully come home sometime on Saturday. I will not promise to blog before Sunday, however. But if I can think of some method of letting you all know how I am before that, I will try. Maybe I could get someone to send an email for me. Anyone care to volunteer to be the official email address?
We'll see how the day pans out here. Tucker's shoe is back on, so I can ride him, but the forecast calls for rain later. I also need to put up my Christmas decorations so that is out of the way. Tomorrow is partially set aside for grocery shopping to stock up on food--after my last physical therapy session. And Wednesday, I will be on a liquid diet all day, so who knows how I will be feeling--except grumpy.
Stringing in the Rain
Just to update. It started raining very early--before noon. I brought the Boys in around 2 PM or so. The "waterproof" sheets they had on are definitely not waterproof. So, Chance and Toby now have on real waterproof ones, and Tucker is locked in his stall in a cooler. I'll sheet him later when he dries off.
I did, however, manage to get the outdoor Christmas decorations up and all the lights strung and working, despite the weather. It's more showery then really steady heavy rain, so with a good jacket and hat, I stayed relatively dry.
When I go out to feed later, I'll put a bag of shavings in Tuck's stall so he will be happy even though he's in. I still have to put the decorations and lights on the barn and set up my little tree here in the house. Then, I am about as ready for the holiday as I can be this year.
Well, aside from wrapping presents. Think that might be a good project for recovery time. Nothing is very heavy and it might keep me amused. If not, people will just get presents in bags.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
It was a gorgeous day. I left Tucker inside...still shoeless while I was in church. I had a beautiful solo in our choral piece this morning and it went very well, making a good start to the day.
Instead of going out to lunch, I came home because R, my young rider, was coming for a lesson. I cleaned stalls, picked the arena, put Tucker's boot on and turned him out for the afternoon. He, Toby, and Chance all shared the pasture and arena until the lesson started and then they all stayed out in just the pasture.
R. doesn't quite yet have the concept of making her horse round on her own, but with my help, she gets it nicely. I did have her do some elementary jumping exercises as well, because her mare tends to rush the jumps a little. By setting ground poles before and after the little fence, we were able to make her horse check her stride on her own, and start to jump in a more relaxed and correct way.
After we finished the lesson, I saddled Chance and got on him for a few minutes myself just to be sure he was not going to be silly. Quite a change from the other day when he was supercharged. He was quite his lovely self today, so I soon set R. in the saddle instead of me. She did a nice job of riding him. Again, the on the bit skill was a little beyond her, but every once in a while his head did come down where it belonged. Still, though, even with his head a bit higher than is should have been, he looked really nice.
However, he also looked really big. R. is a petite rider and it was quite a revelation to see someone her size on Chance. It altered my perspective pretty radically. I do not think of him as a big horse--compared to Tucker, he is small--but there was nothing small about him with R. on his back. And, his gaits are really nice too.
We'll see how it goes during my recovery. At least I know R. can ride him well enough, so that's a good start.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Cool/cold and windy today and yesterday. I also had physical therapy yesterday, so that put me off riding. Today is even windier.
And, to top it off, Tucker lost his shoe again. My fault, I suppose as, since the wind had largely dried up the worst of the mud, I left him out all night. I guess that is not a good idea.
He is in now, although I may put him out later in the sunshine with a boot on for a little while. I have to be careful as the boot will chafe him if I leave it on too long. However, if it settles down tomorrow, I could possibly take him out for a woods ride with the boot on. It's not exactly a good way to ride at much more than a walk as one boot on and one off makes the horse too unbalanced.
Or, perhaps Scott will get here and put a shoe on. This week is five weeks since the last shoeing, so we are pretty much on target as far as their being due anyhow. I hope Scott had me on the list but I also hope he didn't have me scheduled for Thursday--that's surgery day.
I called him back to tell him and left a message, so we'll just have to wait and see how it all pans out.
I will probably go pick up a load of feed today, but I'm not sure about any riding due to this wind. I am too close to the woods to risk getting hit by falling debris.
Which reminds me of the "why" of my caution. I attended an event where there were a good number of fox hunters and during the course of the evening, I heard a story of a young lady who was killed by a falling tree branch during a Thanksgiving foxhunt on a very windy day. I recalled that day, mostly because it was the year one of the big balloons at the New York Thanksgiving Day parade broke loose, hit a lampost and seriously injured some spectators. Both those stories have made me far less cavalier about riding in the winds--especially this time of year.
If anything interesting happens during the day, I'll be back. *S*
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Curious rides today, but certainly, my horses make their opinions known.
I was thinking of schooling in the arena, but it was such a sunny, lovely day, that thought deteriorated as I saddled up. Tucker was first, and I decided to give him a short work in the arena and then go out into the woods.
Now, to set the stage. There is a water trough in the arena since I use that area for turnout on wet days. We circled the track, got to the trough, and Tucker stopped dead. He laid his ears back and balked when I urged him on. I loosened the rein and he dropped his nose into the trough and sloshed the water around. That was it. I turned him away, nudged him on again and around we went until we got back to the trough. He balked, I let him slosh and then we went on. Third time around the same balk, but this time I pushed through a few strides when a light bulb went on in my head. I dismounted, pulled the bridle off, keeping the reins around his neck so I could hold him, and let Tucker reach down again into the trough. This time, he sloshed and then started drinking. He drank quite a bit, then lifted his head, turned back to me and let me put the bit back into his mouth.
I remounted and we rode around the arena at all three gaits in both directions with absolutely no problem again--no balk, no ears back, just go.
So, Tucker was trying to tell me he was thirsty and simply could not work without first having a drink. Then, of course, he could not drink successfully with the bit in his mouth, so, while he couldn't exactly tell me that, I figured it out. It was a moment of listening to my horse and understanding what he was trying to tell me. We worked for a nice little bit and then went out for an equally nice ride in the woods. Tucker was a superstar out there, perhaps more than happy that I had listened to him about the drink.
Strangely enough, Toby seemed ready to go for a ride too, so I took him out next. Again, we took a nice ride through the woods. When we got back, I rode in the arena long enough to do some canter work just so we could do the flying changes together. Toby is a master of the flying change and they are so smooth and easy you hardly realize he's changed. It was a good reminder for me as to exactly how a change feels and how to cue for one.
Chance was last on the list, but far from the easiest today. He'd seen Tucker and Toby go out for a hack and was bound and determined to do the same. I would have taken him out, but he was far too excited, eager, and stubborn about it to go. Instead, I rode around the arena, first at a full speed trot with a bulging dive towards the woods gate each time we passed that. The canter on the right was hardly any better with leaning shoulders, out of balance rushing and rather dreadful steering. When I switched over to the left rein, the canter was a bit better, but the rushing and lack of balance were still there.
OK, there was a time when riding around at all three gaits would have tired him out and settled him down pretty quickly. Not so today. While he is not super fit, he is fit enough to express his opinion and keep up the "fizz" (as Muriel would say) for quite a while. I slowed him back to a walk, did some serious suppling with the reins until he finally decided to give to the bit and drop his head into a round frame and started off again.
This time, things were a lot better, though far from the best he has ever done. But the right canter had settled, needing much less correction and the left canter was excellent. Although I didn't time the ride, I suspect it took at least 30 minutes for Chance to get over his nonsense and start actually listening to me instead of the "Call of the Wild Woods." I did not reward him with the trail ride he wanted. While I do love taking him out, I will not do it when he is in charge. He will have to be obedient to the aids first and foremost.
Today, he was definitely not the kind of horse a young rider would enjoy. For a while, there, he wasn't the kind of horse any rider would enjoy. He never felt dangerous, but having to argue with him was certainly not fun.
Ah, well. It was Thanksgiving Day, and I was grateful to have three sound horses to ride and, as it turned out, the skill to ride them.
Hope your day had as much success.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The forecast was mistily right for today. It was damp out when I went to feed the Boys in the morning. But, since it had been dry for several days, I did not lock them in the arena and pasture. I wanted them to have full access to shelter. I also gave each one of them two flakes of the super tasty hay in their stalls.
Then I came inside to wait for the locksmith. My back door has been giving me trouble as I noted. He arrived around 9 AM and inspected the door. He found the problem with a bit of testing. The door has three dead bolt locks in it and the bottom one was slightly out of adjusment. I had to take the strike plate back to the shop to modify it. That took a little time, but the shop is really close by. When he got back, he fixed the lock and now the door seems to work really well. That was a relief.
I made some edamame bean salad to take to my friends' house for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, and wasted a bunch of time on the computer. One of my teacher friends from school called to chat for a while and before long the afternoon was in full swing.
When I went out, the mist was decidedly a very slight, light rain. I opted for a quick lungeing session with Tucker and Chance. There's not much to report about their lungeing as both of them are quite beautifully behaved on the line. The biggest fault on their part is being too relaxed. Even the snap of the whip does not excite them. So I have to use quite a bit of body language to communicate more energy and I get a pretty good workout too.
They are now fed and Tucker is tucked in for the night.
This weather, however, is getting tedious. The constant overcast reminds me of a Ray Bradbury short story: "All Summer in a Day." If you want to read it, it can be found here:
By the by, my title quote is also a Ray Bradbury story which is really kind of fun...if you like being creeped out by science fiction stories. *G*
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
This was physical therapy day and chiropractic again--twice a week for now. I need to use up the appointments the insurance gave me before my surgery because after that, I can't do any real execise. Twice this week, however, and twice next...Monday and Wednesday, I guess...and that's that. I hope my neck holds out during the bulk of my recovery. It's been doing well and I haven't had any headaches, but I've been working the muscles and getting the adjustments. At least for the first week, I don't think I will be able to get adjusted. After that? Guess I will wait and see.
However, the chiropractic clinic also has an acupuncturist. I spoke to her very briefly today and to my wonderful chiropractor. Both tell me that acupuncture would be a big help in both managing my pain and in helping to speed my healing. If I add that to my recovery, it might make a big difference.
I will also be benefitted by cat purrs!! Believe it or not, there is some fairly sound scientific research indicating that the frequency of a cat's purr has healing properties. The frequency of the purr matches that of harmonic frequencies that are known to heal bone, tendons, and tissues. Since I have four cats with super wonderful purrs, I will definitely be four up on the catless households as far as my recovery goes. All I need to do is station them in their usual locations around me when I am in bed and the therapy will begin. *G*
PT takes nearly all morning. I do a bunch of exercises for my neck and shoulders with weights, rubber band thingies, a big rubber ball, and some general flexing motions. Then I get a massage with acupressure and I have to lie for some 15 mintues in a neck stretcher thing that positions my neck with a natural curve. Then I go for my adjustment which takes another 15-20 minutes. I got there around 9 AM and left close to 11 AM. If I get the acupunture, that will add even more time. Good thing I am retired!!
I then stopped at Home Depot on the way home to pick up some supplies I need to make things a little easier for my horse care people and to fix a few little things around the yard that need repair. And, I stopped at the locksmith as well to get some spare keys made for my helpers and to ask about my back door. The lock mechanism has been stubborn the last few days, and I am going to have an expert look at it to see if it needs some adjustments. Again, it's something I can cope with, but not something I want to impose upon people doing me favors with the horse/cat care. The locksmith is coming tomorrow to look at it.
Needless to say, with the adjustment, I had already decided not to do anything with the horses. Too bad, actually because as the remainder of the afternoon wore on the sun actually came out!! You all remember the sun? Big, shiny bright thing in the sky? I nearly needed my sunglasses when I drove over to the sand company to pay my hay bill.
Got home, did the barn chores, and fed the Boys. It's dark now, so no sun. Wonder if it will appear again tomorrow? It's turned into a real novelty.
Monday, November 23, 2009
I did not sleep well last night. For some reason, I had a bit of a bout of anxiety about the surgery situation. I pretty much have everything under control, but I guess an occasional sense of worry is pretty normal. Not sleeping would have been OK, normally, but I had a breakfast date with a group of friends which included a meeting with my lawyer to finish signing my living will.
OK, so maybe that's what had me a little emotional about the surgery. I will guess most of you know what a living will or an advanced directive is. If not, it is, in short a legal document explains how you want to be taken care of should I no longer be able to make medical decisions regarding my care. This includes sustaining life by artificial means. In some ways, it's kind of a scary thing to do as it makes you contemplate your mortality, but at the same time, it's an important step to take.
Well, that said, the paperwork was finished up at breakfast and we all had a nice time visiting. When I got home, I ended up taking a rather long nap for most of the afternoon. But, my brain was still working.
My one friend is R's aunt and told me that R really enjoyed her riding lesson, so that was nice to hear. And, that lesson was a bit of an inspiration for me in several ways.
For one, R is getting a little big for her pony/horse. I have a feeling she would look just great on Chance. Since she/her mom will be helping while I am laid up, there should be some time for her to ride him. If that works out well, perhaps we can work out some way for her to do a bit more with him--perhaps even show him if she wanted to. I'll play it all by ear, but I kept saying he would be a perfect equitation horse for a young rider. It might give him something interesting to do beyond the training and riding I do with him.
The lesson also reminded me of the basic training issues I am still working out with Chance. The very things R's horse was doing wrong are the things Chance does--typical green horse not carrying himself well issues. So today, I gave him a pretty solid schooling session.
Chance is pretty soft to the left, but on the right rein, he tends to block with his shoulder. I find myself tending to ride too much off the right rein in an attempt to soften him on that side. But when I do that, he overbends his head and neck to the right and falls out to the left. That tends to put me too much on my right seatbone which then simply contributes more to his falling out.
After working a bit to get him to react to the left outside rein, I had to very consciously sit to the left--essentially straight. This brought his body back underneath me where it belonged. This was trickiest at the canter. As a lateral gait, it is very easy for the horse to one side or another at canter. Again, it is the right lead that poses a problem for Chance. When he does fall onto the shoulder, he breaks gait as he loses his balance. It's a relatively easy fix when you think about it, but lose focus for just a moment and....oops.
We finished up with a little more trot and a short ride through the closer wooded trails just as a relaxing reward since he'd worked so well for me.
I lunged Tucker for just a few minutes to see how he looked. Yesterday at the end of the lungeing session, he took a few limping steps on his left front again. He looked pretty good today, but I am still suspicious as when he trots on the right rein, he flattens his ears a little and makes a "face."
I am going to keep a close eye on this. When Scott comes to shoe again, I'm sure he will give that hoof a good going over in case there is a bruise somewhere. In the meantime, I will just take it easy and not insist on too much from him.
Rain is in the forecast again, but today there was only a super fine mist once in a while. I really hope it stays dry for a while so the footing stays good.
Or is that just too much to ask for this time of year?