Thursday, May 29, 2014

With Friends Like This

What Else Do I Need?

The past two days have been busy. All of which leads to the latest episode in my continuing adventure of life.

I was out to a political meeting on Tuesday and did not get home until late. There was a phone message from a friend but it was too late to call her back. The next morning, I got a call at 6:30 AM to substitute teach, so I could not call her then. After school I had a chiropractor's appointment with physical therapy, so I rushed home from school, fed the Boys and drove back to the doctor. Immediately after, I had my friend drive me over to the school where I used to teach to pick up my truck--it was being serviced in the school's auto shop. As payment for carting me around, I took my friend out to dinner.

I got back home around 9 PM or so.

There was at least one police car in my driveway. I thought perhaps the patrol had pulled over a speeder and they'd pulled in to give him a ticket. But as I got out of the truck, a police officer approached me, shined a flashlight in my face and asked my name, and how old I was.

When I told him, he said, "We've been looking for you."


He said something about horses...a fall from one, or something, I'm not sure as not of it made too much sense. Then he said someone had called the police looking for me and they'd come over to my house to see if I was OK.

The story weaved and bobbed in my head. Who?  Turns out the friend I had not called back had tried to call me again last night and when she could not get in touch with me, her vivid imagination took hold. She was convinced I was lying dead or injured somewhere.

After calling a couple of my friends to see if they had heard from me--well, she got in touch with Stacie but not Don--she found out I had been alive and kicking on Saturday, but Stacie had not heard from me since. (Now, mind you, Stacie was not worried at all.)

At this point, things escalated. My worried friend, Celia, called the police to see if there was a power outage in my area so that my phone might not be working. I'm not sure what else she said except that she was trying to contact me and had not been able to. (She'd told Stacie I "never went anywhere," so why wasn't I home to return her call)

The upshot was that the police cruised on over to my house to check things out. They searched the barn, then decided to search the house. I'd left a window in the front open a crack, so one officer cut the screen, pulled it off, climbed in through the window and "searched the premises."

I'd gotten a package of horse supplements several days ago that I'd left on the front porch since it was too heavy to carry in. I'd planned on opening it and dishing out some of the stuff to lighten the load, but hadn't yet moved it. So when the police saw the package, they figured I really hadn't been home. Once inside, they found another package I had taken in and were preparing to trace it to see when it had been delivered. Then they found my roladex with all my phone numbers and started calling people listed there. Heaven knows how many people they called.

The one officer also noted that they knew I had two vehicles and did see that one of them was missing. What other information had they used to check up on me??  Heaven only knows.

The Sergeant had one of the officers carry the heavy package into the house for me. The officer copied down information about my identity, and eventually, they left. What I had thought was one police car and a speeder was actually three patrol cars in my driveway.

The phone rang. It was my friend, Richard who'd driven me to pick up my truck. He'd seen the police when he passed my house. Then my cousin called from South Jersey--another friend had called them after he'd been called by the police. I had to call another friend who'd been contacted. I called Stacie who had apparently been grilled by the police in a phone call--she lives nearly an hour away. And, of course, I called Celia, the instigator of the whole affair.

The only good thing was that I'd left that window open. The Sergeant told me if the window hadn't been open they would have broken down a door to get in.

Now I have a dilemma. I do not, at the moment have any immediate neighbors. (Long story there....) I guess I need to get someone else to know where the key to my house is hidden should something actually happen to me. Obviously, I can't call someone every time I leave the house. Celia has sworn she will never do something like this again, so that's good, but it does raise the issue of what might have been if something had gone wrong.

I mean, it's nice to have friends who care, but this was over the top.

And now I have to patch the hole in a perfectly good window screen.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Swim, Swam, Swum


I waited for this afternoon when the temperatures were up in the high 80's F.  Then I headed over to Crystal Springs to see how the water felt for a little swim.

I can't say it was warm, but it wasn't horribly cold either. Since there were a number of people in the water, I figured I would not wimp out.

In I went. The chill hit me, but I swam fast to the far end of the pool and once my body was in action, it felt fine.

More than fine.

It felt great!!  I did about four laps when I heard the loudspeaker calling for the owner of a car like mine with a license plate just like mine. Was it mine?

Sure enough. Guest relations had a set of keys I'd somehow managed to leave in my back hatch lock. When I unloaded groceries in the back yard yesterday, I'd forgotten to take the keys out. An honest soul in the swimming pool parking lot had seen them in the lock and most graciously and honestly and turned them in to guest relations. Cool.

After I retrieved the keys, I headed back into the water. I managed a good ten laps with leg exercises in the deep end to work on my rehab.

All told, I was in the water perhaps 40 minutes at the most. I was starting to chill down a little then so I headed for the showers--nice hot water, yay!!

Here I am home again, quite content, well exercised and feeling a nice happy tired.

The summer has begun at last.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Chance Report

Very Interesting

The vet was here yesterday to evaluate Chance. Those of you who visit often know that he has been off and on lame all winter. Dr. Klayman did a thorough evaluation a while back and found a bit of bony change in his right hock. He injected that and Chance was sound behind, but was slightly off in his front left.

My farrier had found some sole bruising from the winter's back footing so we decided to treat conservatively. We first painted his soles with Venice turpentine, but during the course of that treatment, he got VERY lame. Since rain was predicted, I decided to forego the turpentine for a few days and, sure enough, in a day or so, Chance was sound again. I suspect he blew an abscess. At that point, I thought all was well.

Now, mind you, I am not yet sound enough myself to ride, so I did not try him out, except for a quick lunge.

When my vet arrived yesterday, his assistant lunged Chance, and once again, he was slightly off on his left front again. When he reacted to the hoof testers, we decided to do a nerve block to see what happened.

This time, after the block, he was slightly off on his right front. As I saw it, at that point, the best option was a set of X-rays.

Dr. Klayman found some signs of navicular disease. Again, it was slight, but the bone is definitely compromised.  The pictures also showed that changing Chance's hoof angle will help as well in aligning his coffin bone.

The vet is sending copies of the x-rays to my farrier, Scott, and plans on doing a phone consult. After that, Scott will need to come out to do some corrective trimming and, most likely put a set of front shoes on my boy. It's not my favorite option, but considering the prior bruising, this might be the best solution.

As for my riding, I am quite positive that once I am in the saddle, riding itself will be fine. The problem is both the mounting---probably not too bad with the tall mounting table I have--and dismounting, where the real problem lies. In order to dismount from either side, my left hip/leg needs to be able to turn and twist and therein lies the rub. Standing on one leg is difficult enough, but add that torque and I'll be in trouble.

At this point, I am opting out. No rush at this point. And besides, I need to wait until my boy is ready too.

On a side note, we are inundated with mosquitoes! Swarms of the little monsters are making it almost impossible to spend much time outside. The horses are hiding in the barn most of the time. I put there scrim sheets on and sprayed them with repellent and it helps, but the flysprays only last so long against mosquitoes. I called the County extermination service to report the little critters--well some of them are fairly good sized--and the woman there said I wasn't the only one reporting. It's been raining for the last two days and the sun is behind clouds which certainly doesn't help the situation.

Which leads to the fact that the swimming pool opens for weekends only tomorrow. Unfortunately, it's been far too cool to warm the water up enough to swim as far as I am concerned. The nights have been in the 40'sF and with the rain, the days have not been too warm either. I still may go over and at least dangle my feet in the water.

Until then, I think I'll opt for the indoor pool--water at 83F.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Just Thinking.....

How Complicated Riding Actually Is....

I was recently watching a video of a riding lesson and remembering how many times in my riding life I heard some of the same comments the trainer was making. Simple things on the surface: "Turn him off the outside rein," "Don't rush, take your time," "Bring your arm closer to your body," "Start turning there, don't wait so long," "Keep the rhythm."

Oh, and one of my favorites from my first excellent trainer, "Don't let him do that!"  She would often tell me how, but just as often let me figure out the answer myself.

Riding is a complex sport as I suspect most sports are. But there is the added complication of working with a partner who does not speak the same language we do. It's our job, as riders, to find and establish a common language to communicate what we want to happen. And, in many cases, we need to adjust that language each time we swing into the saddle. (Or in my case, clamber and thunk into the saddle.)

Every thing we do with our legs, our seats, our arms, our hands, and even our eyes, can make a difference in how a ride progresses. Our balance, or evenness, our weight and every nuance of what we do with our bodies in the saddle can make a huge difference in what the horse does under us.

When people hear that I have been riding for some fifty years and then mention that I am going to take a riding lesson somewhere, they might say, "You've been riding that long and you still need lessons?"

I'd like to reply, "Absolutely, but I'm studying for my doctorate," but I know that would be a lie. No matter how many lessons I've had, there's always something new to learn or something old to unlearn. And every good trainer I've met has a slightly different perspective on the best way to achieve my goals.

As I look forward to getting back into the saddle--clamber and hoist--I remain humbled by how much I still can learn about this sport of ours. I'm not sure if I will get back into the competition arena again--been there, done that forever and it's lost much of its allure--but I do know I will never stop training myself and my horses with each and every outing.

Once that doctorate degree looms on the distant horizon, it's hard not to pursue it.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Well, This is Interesting

When I went to physical therapy Friday, the therapist asked me about my knees. They were both pretty sore. The therapy I am doing for my hip also is for my knees as the orthopedic surgeon suggested I might have patellar tendonitis.  This means the tendon holding the knee cap in place is inflamed. Physical therapy should help, but in the meantime, it can be sore.

One of the strange treatments is taping. There are several methods of doing this.

My therapist used a cloth tape especially made for taping

It looks a bit strange and certain doesn't look as if it could do much to help my knees, but it certainly does!

My right knee felt 90% better and, at one point was pain free even when I bent it--the time when the pain most shows up.  My left knee--the side my hip break was on--was still sore on the outside, but the rest of it felt good too. 

You can still see the scars from my knee replacements. From the research I have done, perhaps 15%-19% of people who have knee replacements can have patellar tendonitis problems. The tendon and kneecap are not replaced in the surgery nor are the side supporting ligaments intended to keep the knee in place laterally. Since my ligaments were in pretty bad shape before the surgery--and my tendon may have been too--it's not all that surprising that I've had some aches and pains. 

The hip fracture put even more strain on my knees and while I was not well able to use my left leg, my right knee had to work extra hard. 

I may never be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but if I can find the right techniques to treat this condition and get myself in shape, I should feel a lot better. 

The tape can stay on for about three days at most. I have a special knee brace that I bought that's supposed to work too. I haven't tried it yet, but I hope it does. I can't really swim with the tape on, although I can shower. It just can't get soaked as it would in the pool. I am hoping the brace will make a good alternative. 

Who would have thought a roll of tape could make such a difference? 

Note: That's a cat toy on the floor. There's a little ball inside the track that the kitties like to try to fish out. When they bat it, it rolls around the track. Sometimes they play with it, and sometimes they just ignore it. 

Friday, May 09, 2014

In the Swim Again

And It Felt Great!!

I had to substitute yesterday--math. It was my first day back at work since the broken hip.  I made out just fine as most of the time I was able to just sit.

It was a misty kind of day, but on the warmer side, so I did not hesitate about going to the college pool after school.

I figured if I wasn't able to actually swim I would at least be able to walk in the water to exercise my leg.


Swimming was just fine. I did work a few muscles I haven't used much lately, so they are a bit sore today, but overall, it was wonderful and it felt really good.

Work in the water eliminates impact and offers some nice resistance to the muscles.  I swam eight full laps, walked two, and did some water aerobics/exercises at the deep end.  All in all, I worked out for going on 40 minutes. I took it slowly and easily.

Today I have physical therapy, so I'll skip the swimming.  Next week, I hope I can swim at least twice.

Getting back in the pool should really speed my recovery.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Well, Well


And that about sums it up. My plumber just left after trying to fix the pump to the barn's water well.

Good news/bad news....what's new?

The switch and some of the piping needed replacing, which he did, but that did not solve the problem completely. Apparently either the foot valve or one of the underground pipes is leaking. When that happens, the vacuum needed to pull the water up into the pipes is lost and the pump can't bring the water up.

My plumber hopes to find the time to come back to pull the pipes up, but if he can't I will have to call my well guys. They fixed the house well for me at a fairly reasonable price, so I would hire them again.

Meantime, the water is working for now. If the pump gives up the ghost, I can run a hose from the house out there. It will be a reverse of what we did when we used the barn well to supply water for the house when the house well was not working.

The blessing of all this is that it is spring and summer is on the way so I don't have to worry about frozen water lines for  good number of months. Something, at least, to be grateful for.

The Boys are nibbling away at the sparse grass in the pasture and paddocks. As I've said before, it's a good thing I don't have lush pasturage for them. It's just enough to keep them entertained but not enough to cause problems for Toby's Cushings or too much fat for the round boys.

My vet wants me to put a little more weight on both Tucker and Chance after their winter diet, so any nibbling for them is fine...but not too much as both chub up pretty fast.

I am spending my non-riding recovery thinking of ways to play with Tucker from the ground rather than trying to ride him all the time. I know just plain schooling will bore us both at this point, so I was thinking I might try to teach him to be a trick pony. Since he is very food motivated, I figure if I can choose the right techniques I should be able to train him to do something clever.

I'll keep you posted as to how it's going. But I need a week or so to get rid of some of the lingering muscle soreness in my injured leg. Sometimes I can walk without a limp, and sometimes it's very sore.

Guess I just have to continue to be patient with the healing process.