Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Random musings

Warning, this post has no real purpose and is just to let you know what I have been up to.  Riding fail, I haven't ridden since Thursday and probably won't until tomorrow.  Part of this reason is that on Friday I awoke and realized I must have overdone it on my Thursday ride as my calf muscle was pulled again.  Much, much less painful this time but it has kept me in a solid limp ever since.  It is also pulled a different location, instead of being on the inside rear at the top of the calf it is closer to the outside of the lower third of the back of the calf.  Ah the fun times of rehab!  I stayed pumped full of Advil and Aleve until Monday and am now without anything and while I limp, I am mobile.  To top it off, my bad leg now also has a nice sized bruise on the front of my shin, right above my ankle.  I swear sometimes it would be easier to cut the leg off.  At least my lungs have cleared and I can breathe again.

Despite not riding, we have been getting a lot done around the farm over the long weekend.  Our place is an old farmhouse from the early 1900's that has had extensive updates done through the years.  The issues we are currently running into is the previous homeowners updates are very....amateur(??) and not well thought out.  A lot of things you look at and go "huh?", from the rubber hose instead of a pipe on our water main to a room full of electrical outlets and only one works.  The current thing we are "fixing" is the front porch, it was covered in heavily cracked concrete.  The pieces were cracked enough that some moved when you walked on them and in addition to looking horrible it was becoming a safety hazard.  Thus one of our projects this weekend was to tear the concrete up and much to our surprise there was a wooden porch underneath!  Some boards need replaced and it badly needs powerwashed thanks to being under concrete for who knows how long but it is a decent porch.  We can't figure out why someone thought it would be easier to cover it in concrete versus fixing a few boards but there are a number of things we can't figure out about this place.

Another project this weekend was our back porch, it was black with mold and such and looked horrible.  It was also skirted in broken, rotted, red painted lattice and had a "wall" of the same lattice on one side of the deck.  Our plan was to clean it up and put a product called Restore on it which will put a bedliner type coating on the deck.  This should stop it from eroding further and should hopefully give the deck another 10-15 years.  We cut the "wall" down, powerwashed the deck and replaced a single board and the deck looks AMAZING.  It appears the deck was also painted red a long, long time ago and was never maintained.  The powerwasher did a phenomenal job of cleaning the paint and mold and "schmutz" off of the wood and while the boards show neglect with cracking it looks like a new deck.  We are still going to put the Restore down to help the neglected boards but if nothing else it should look amazing.

Our final "big" project was to take down the winter pasture and kick everyone out into the actual pasture for the summer.  The horses seemed to appreciate the turnout and are quickly eating everything down.  It was scary to see how wallowed out the gate post holes had gotten and it made me glad to not have to rely on them anymore.  Next winter we will have a much better plan in place and will use round pen panels, learn from mistakes!

No riding for me tonight but there is a nice long trail ride tomorrow with some friends.  Will be bringing the TWH and lots of bug spray, will let you know how it goes!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I wanna trot. When do I want it? Now!

Things are slowly getting back to normal around here.  My leg is healing up and is almost completely functional from both my torn calf and my puncture.  My lungs are another story but things are getting better.  Since my sickness moved down into my chest I cough, a lot, but can at least breathe.  This was the second night in a row that I was able to sleep through the night and not wake up because I A) couldn't breathe or B) woke up coughing.  I believe I am finally on the downhill slope of this thing so maybe by this weekend I will be back to 100%.  I haven't been at even 90% for over a month so I am looking forward to it.

I have been riding the TWH lately to try to get him in shape a little more and to help him loose some of the pudge that won't come off.  Right now I still can't feel his ribs unless I push REALLY hard.  I don't want him to be skinny but I don't need him to be this overweight either.  RB3 had been riding him but wasn't working him very hard and she was having hard time getting him to trot/stay in a trot so I have taken over the TWH riding and left the App for anyone else. 

The almost 3 months off from trotting the TWH has had has sure affected his gait.  He is either being very lazy (most likely the case) or has lost the balance and muscle to trot (some blame is here, yes, but I am not allowing all of it) and is fighting pretty hard in the trot.  He has been back to offering the trot only half of the time when I ask, refusing to keep contact without breaking into a gait that isn't a trot, being unable to make even a full 20m circle in a trot and throwing his head around when I try to force the issue.  Thus Monday and last night were Trot Camp.  We spent most of the entire ride trotting and I really pushed him to get him back to where I want him.

After 2 solid, hard,sweat making rides he getting there.  He is now offering the trot when I ask for it about 90% of the time.  IMO if I ask for a trot and he gives me a pace/running walk/rack, it is the same as asking for a canter and getting a trot from a non-gaited horse.  It isn't the gait I wanted, it isn't acceptable.  It is currently especially hard for him to pick up the trot if I am on a bending line of any kind so we still have our homework.  He is getting better with trotting with contact but to start I have to really force him into the bridle and keep him there.  I am driving him into a "cone" formed by my reins and then have to work to keep the contact.  This is also what I am doing when he starts throwing his head around and it is helping, he just has to accept the contact again even though I know he doesn't want to.  We were even finally successful in making a couple of 15m circles last night, breaking gait only on the first two attempts.  I know we will get back to where we were, it is just frustrating for him to have fallen back so far.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Confirmed. 2012 does hate me.

This is just not my year.  While I am not super careful and get bumps and bruises quite regularly, I don't actually hurt myself or get sick often at all.  This is why I think 2012 has it in for me.  First the New Years Eve stitches, then the torn calf muscle, then the bronchitis/pneumonia and now a nice puncture to my thigh.  Ugh.

So this past weekend was supposed to be the second Horse Camp of 2012 with my younger students.  One had to bow out last week and then Friday afternoon the other once cancelled due to a family emergency.  Thus I had no lessons nor horse camp this past weekend.  As a result, SO felt he had to find ways to fill my day so we drove about 40 mins to his cousin's in-laws and we picked up some wood that had been cut by the power company.  I was still wheezing and coughing my way through the day but I wanted to help so I stood on a landscape timber and hopped into the truck bed so I could stack things.  At least I tried to.  My jeans caught a metal tab on the tailgate, stopping me mid-air and bringing me back to the ground.  There was a bit of pain and a small rip as it tore my jeans.  I gimped around for a little bit before I noticed blood, I checked and I had a nice inch long gash that is about a quarter of an inch deep on the back of my thigh.

I borrowed a Band-Aid and some Neosporin, cleaned it up and bandaged myself up.  When I got home I tried to butterfly stitch it together.  When it wouldn't stay, I cut some of the flappy skin off (how I can do that without an issue but sticking needles in myself brings me to my knees leaves me baffled), doused it in alcohol and bandaged it back up.  It is still quite tender to even have pressure on and it is heavily bruised but it doesn't appear infected.  I am also continuing to take the antibiotics I was taking for my breathing in hopes any infection doesn't get started or will be quickly killed.  It will be fun when I try to ride tonight, we will see how it goes.

On the flip side, Saturday may have been pretty bad in terms of my respiratory health but Sunday was a turning point.  When I awoke on Sunday I felt the heaviness had moved from my head and chest down into just my chest.  I can now breathe!!  It doesn't hurt to take a breath and I am not asthmatic after doing small tasks.  I am also now coughing up phlegm but that is an acceptable symptom compared to what I have been having.  This morning I am coughing but it is a dry cough and I feel back to about 90%.

Once my  leg finally heals up, this cut heals and my respiratory issues go away I may finally be able to enjoy 2012 again.  Hopefully this is the worst I will get this year, I have certainly dealt with 200% more sickness and injury this year than any year prior I can remember.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Feeling good, emotionally at least. And a Kota update!

I am not sure what is up, I am normally a very healthy, accident free person but 2012 has it in for me.  Between the New Years Eve fiasco to the torn calf muscle to now I am pretty sick and thinking it is pneumonia, this has been an unfair year for me.   Starting Monday my allergies went on the war front and started making me miserable.  Tuesday night I got very little sleep as I would wake up when I couldn't breathe, which was constantly.  Wednesday I took the full arsenal of drugs, including my rarely used inhaler and super expensive Singular, and got through the day and this morning I feel like a sack of poo.  Hurts to breathe deeply, minor coughing starting, sore throat, sore sinuses, sore nose, joint pain, lethargic, headaches, you name it.  I found the antibiotics I hadn't finished from my New Years Eve fiasco, since my Dr told me I didn't need them since it was a vaccinated, indoor cat, and am taking that with Dayquil and Advil.  Blech.  Hopefully I don't have to go to the Dr yet again.

On the flip side I am feeling really good mentally.  I had my instructor compliment me on my training of the App, I am riding again and last night I got a call from RB3.  She decided she needed to sell Kota as she still had fear when on him, she doesn't trust him.  Her boyfriend, which is the reason she bought Kota in the first place, doesn't really want to ride period so RB3 decided to sell him while he is still fresh out of training.  She said she had someone over to look at him and they loved him but she said they couldn't get Kota to canter without him bucking.  Say what??  I never had that issue when he was here.  She begged me to come ride him for the next people that were coming out, she said now that she knows he will buck she will never ride him again.  *sigh*.

So I changed my plans, left work about 20 mins earlier than I planned on, ate about half of my dinner and brought my wheezing self to her barn.  It was about an hour before the people were to show up so I worked with Kota to see what was going on.  I did about 5 mins of groundwork to remind him of space and manners and hopped on.  He was a little speedy, not unexpected considering the riding he has had for the past 2.5 weeks.  I slowed him down and worked on his lateral movements and they are still nicely installed.  I asked for a left lead canter, his good direction, and it felt like he kicked out so I brought his nose to his haunches and kicked him hard for a few circles before letting him rest.  It wasn't even close to a buck but nothing out of line will be tolerated at this point.  I asked for a canter again and not only got one, it was a fairly nicely balanced canter!

His right lead was a bit stickier, he had problems giving it to me but I got it and there was no hooves stepping out of line.  RB3 was happy but a little frustrated and said she just doesn't click with him so she is glad she is selling him.  Personally I think it probably has to do with either her riding or the saddle she had bought for him (I was using the one we trained with at the end, she bought him a new one after he went home since the first saddle didn't fit) but either way I am glad he rode well.

The people showed up about a half hour later and fell in LOVE with him.  It was an older lady who has a horse who is currently trying to kill her (her words).  She says she is thrown from him about every third ride and she wants something she clicks with better.  I rode Kota and showed her the buttons as well as the walk, trot and canter and she was happy even when it took Kota 3 tries to get his right lead.  She rode him and while she was very tense, she seems to be a decent rider and was able to get him to do everything she asked including a left lead canter.

They bought him right then and there and are picking him up Thursday, today.  She will be doing lower level dressage and using him as a trail horse.  Here's to hoping he has a good life, it appears his training has set him on the course for a better things.  I am very proud that my training has got him here too.  Happy Trails Kota!

Monday, May 14, 2012

First Horse Camp 2012!

Ah fun times were had here at LogDog Acres this past weekend.  Our chicken coop is almost done, we have to get another 10ft of wire mesh and finish securing two more ends of wire.  A night of work should finish it right up!  It is good, too, because these birds are only 5 weeks old and are getting really big.  They have about outgrown my 40 gallon aquarium already.

They make my aquarium look tiny.  It is 36" long if it helps give perspective
This past weekend was the first Horse Camp of LogDog Acres and this camp was for my oldest student.  She is 14 and has a strong case of anxiety.  She makes me think it must be how Denali's Mom must be but I can't relate so I struggle with her sometimes.  She will freak out over the smallest things and does things like drop the reins and leans way forward when she gets scared.  I have worked hard to get her comfortable and she can now trot on a lunge (success) both without reins (success) or stirrups (for short periods, success).  She is also able to jump off at a walk (she is terrified she will fall off and get stepped on) and do the balancing exercises I give her, most days anyway.  Her favorite word is Terrified, and she is terrified of everything.  Though after this weekend I am getting her to use the word Nerve-wracking when she isn't truly Terrified.  This weekend was to get her to have fun, spend time with horses and hopefully build a bridge over some anxiety.  

Saturday we learned the anatomy of the horse, learned how to wrap horses legs and played Pile-O-Leather which is perhaps my favorite torture game.  She learned how to take apart and put together a bride and then was given a pile of two disassembled bridles of a different color and had to put them back together.  She got it done and we had fun.  We then played some games on horseback and it went great until the end where her anxiety caused the App to "take off"", though that term is used very mildly.  Though she was riding off of the lunge she dropped the reins and leaned forward, trying to fall off I guess, despite my telling her what to do.  The App went about a quarter of the way around the arena at canter before I stepped in and told him to stop and he did.  I then made her walk around and didn't let her get off until she calmed down and then made her do a new turning exercise before calling it a day.

Sunday we learned the parts of a western and english saddle, learned how to clip a horse's face and had a Mud War.  Typically it involves multiple kids but since there was only one she just got to mud up my horse and then learn how to bathe him until he sparkled.

If you are going to mud a horse, at least make it the hardest one to get clean right?
He didn't care about any of it as long as he got to eat grass.
He cleaned up nicely though :)
After the bath we went on a 'trail ride' which was the ride around the block.  I ponied the TWH in case she freaked, which she did, and I made her switch horses so she could at least freak on the App who doesn't care (because the TWH really cares).  At one point we walked through some water and the TWH realized he didn't know how to walk through water (???) so the App pushed by him, rubbing against a tree which pulled the student's leg back and she literally slid over his but and landed on her feet before sitting down.  It was her first "fall" and she said it was completely emotionless, she wasn't scared at all which was great!  She was a little nervous about getting back on but relaxed nicely after that.  We only had one other instance where she got too nervous because I made her trot and she thought the TWH was going to go fast and that would make the App go fast so she let go of the reins, leaned forward and tried to fall off.  Ugh. I corrected her, told her the TWH won't go any faster than I tell him to and made her do it again two more times and we didn't have any other issues.

She said she had a really good time and learned a lot.  I am very excited about how well Horse Camp went, I have another one for my younger students this upcoming weekend which should be just as fun.  I also enjoyed my first ride in almost 2 weeks though I found I still can't do lot.  I rode without stirrups most of the ride and have to get on from the right side.  Not sure if I will ride tonight or work on the chicken coop but I will ride tomorrow.  Great times!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Gimpy takes a break

In the grand scheme of things, nothing is really going on.  I do, however, want to say just how proud I am that my friends and SO are stepping up and helping me with normal chores and refusing to let me do it all. Since that is the type of person I am.  I also think SO is getting a new appreciation of how much I actually do in terms of both the house and the horses.  He is helping out wonderfully.  He is cleaning half of the stalls (the easy half, but half none the less), he is dumping our poo box, he is cleaning the arena, he filled the water trough and he even fluffed bedding last night.  It is awesome having this kind of help and I really appreciate it.

Sunday was a good day.  I had my show, I hobbled around without my crutch most of the day and only had drugs in the morning.  Monday was stiff in the morning so I took my drugs but I hobbled around without my crutch the last half of the day and things were looking pretty nice.  Tuesday, however, I have paid dearly for it.  On Tuesday I regressed to not being able to walk at all and at one point even grabbed the second crutch.  I took my drugs, sat down and tried to relax as much as possible.  Today is a bit better, I am able to kind of hobble around without my crutch though it does make life easier to have it.  I am having a hard time extending my heel to the ground again so I am walking like I have a 2-3" heel on one foot. 

Bruising from mid calf all the way down
As a result I am taking it easy.  I am not going to keep pushing myself and am going to try to accept the help.  I filled all of the hay nets and turned everyone out but only cleaned 2 stalls this morning.  I am not going to try to push the wheelbarrow up the ramp to dump it into the poo box, I will wait for SO 0to do it for me.  I am going to spend most of my day sitting down and I plan on going to bed at 9a to catch up on some much needed sleep.  I am going to just take a break for another day or two.

Bruising goes clear down to the arch of the foot
How does a torn muscle feel after a week you ask?  Not too great.  The worst pain is the section right below the back of my knee.  If I could get that to stretch out I think things would be better but it is tender to even touch.  I have significant bruising all down the back side of my calf that extends down to the arch of my foot.  I have found Tylenol Precise cream does not "block pain receptors", or at least these ones, and does not help.  A heat pack helps some but then the pain comes back even worse when the area cools down.  An ice pack doesn't help either so I just grin, bear it and try to stretch it out as much as I can.  Maybe I can ride by this weekend :(

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The App has a good day

Alas I am still laid up with my pulled calf muscle, my lower leg is now showing heavy bruising clear from the middle of my calf all the way down to the arch of my foot.  On the flip side the bruising doesn't hurt nearly as much as the back of my knee.  Right below the back of my knee is killing me and when I sit for a while or go to sleep, it takes a good while to be able to stretch my calf back out to be able to "walk" on it.  It sucks.  Tomorrow makes a full week since my incident and I have used a crutch(s) at some point every day, these past couple of days being sparse with crutch use.  Hopefully I can discard them soon and get back to normal, I am ready to ride again dang it.

This past weekend the App had his cross country schooling and eventing derby, my instructor was kind enough to ride so that I didn't lose my entry fees.  On Saturday we brought the App over to the grounds around 4p and I got to follow them in a golf cart.  He didn't give me much to talk about as she didn't push him or try to have a good time with him, she was just seeing if he would go over the fences for the show.  He was very good and only "stopped" once, the instructor said he was speeding up so she half halted him and his hind legs slid in the slippery footing so he slowed down and so she then didn't push him over the fence.  She represented the fence and he went over without even glancing at it so I will chalk it up as it went how she said it did.  He went over everything else without an issue and only galloped on her once.  We went home, I put some liniment on him, gave him the first bath of the year (FILTHY HORSE!!) and threw him in his stall to stay clean.

Sunday we got up and loaded at 815a, the show was packed this year.  I would say there was a 50% increase in entries over last year and as a result it took us a while to find a place to park.  Dear people in cars, please do not park oddly, at an angle, right next to a horse trailer, right behind a horse trailer or a car and a half away from the next vehicle.  It makes it extremely difficult to fit the horse trailers in the fairly small area for horse trailers when 5 spots are taken up by 2 cars due to how they are parked.  Grrr.

The instructor came and got the App about 30 mins before her class with the expectation that she would have what she had, if he was a rock star great, if he wasn't then she wouldn't be able to change it.  Thankfully he was a Rock Star and he rocked it.  He looked really nice in his dressage test and was calm and relaxed the entire time and didn't scream for anyone even once.  When the cross country phase was up, I put a new cross country bit in.  He normally has a slow twist D ring that has only one and a half twists, I bought a slow twist loose ring as it has more twists so it is just slightly harsher for more whoa power.  During cross country there are times you really need the extra whoa and since he only wears it during cross country I don't feel bad about having a harsher bit.  I remember last year we had NO brakes.

The App warmed up great and jumped well, went on course and had a great time.  Unfortunately I didn't get to see most of it as it was through the woods but I was told it went very well.  We untacked, wrapped and hung out until they read the scoring.  Since the instructor had only ridden the App for a total 15 mins before this weekend, I was hoping for a top 5 placing out of the 11 competitors.

When they started reading the placings I was excited when he didn't get fifth or fourth.  I was cautious when he didn't get third and I was dumbfounded when he didn't get second and literally hung my mouth open when they read my App had gotten first place!!  He even scored a 23.5% and got that score from an actual dressage judge, that is the best score he has ever gotten!  It was very bittersweet as he really was a rockstar and I would have LOVED to have been able to have done that with him but am thrilled he showed what he can do.  The trainer also gave me information that means more than the ribbon, she said I have made him a well-oiled cross country machine and that I have done a good job with him.  Considering he has never been professionally trained and I have never taken regular lessons, I take that as a huge compliment considering my knowledge of her as a trainer.

I am still on cloud nine, the rest of Sunday my friends kept laughing at me because I would stare into space with a stupid smile on my face as I thought of my App.  I am so proud of him and how far we have come, my only regret is we didn't make the transition to cross country 5 years earlier because I think he could have went far.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Good and bad

I write this while laying on the couch on some impressive drugs so I apologize in advance if it isn't completely coherant.  But let's talk about the good first.

Last night I jumped the App again in preperation for our show and I am happy.  He is jumping nicely and my position is much improved over yesterday.  I didn't fall behind the motion or lose my balance a single time and had an enjoyable ride.  I even jumped without stirrups and was much, much more secure this time around.  My plan was to jump tonight, ride dressage Thursday and Friday and go cross country schooling on Saturday. 

RB4 also brought her horse out to ride and he displayed the behavior I expected.  He was inconsistent and didn't listen when she tried to lunge him, he didn't show any respect on the ground and he wouldn't move away from any pressure on the ground unless you shoved him over.  She tried lunging him for about 15 mins before she decided she wouldn't ride him and would try another day.  I offered to ride him for a little bit and she agreed.  He doesn't stand for mounting and counterbends without any balance.  But I rode him at a walk and trot with success and no real fuss.  He has a stubborn streak and when he decides to stop the only way I could get him to go on was with a jab from the spurs I had on since I was riding the App.  At the end I was able to get her to ride him for a few minutes, she said she would come back out and would bring more confidence next time.  I hope I can help her ride him or sell him and get another horse she is comfortable with.

This morning I brought the donkey out and the boarder horse started throwing a fit.  I brought the other two boys out and planned on waiting for him to settle for a few moments before I brought him outside.  After a few mins he seemed calmer so I started to his stall and he started pawing violently, banging loudly on my gate.  I lunged towards him to get him to quit and felt something, almost like something bumped up against my leg.  Except there was instant pain and I almost fell over, thankfully I had a close wall and only one hand went on the ground.  I hobbled painfully over to the gelding and put his halter on, grabbed the dressage whip and hobbled him out to the pasture.  As I came inside, the pain brought me to tears a couple of times. 
SO insisted I go to the ER and I have sprained/torn muscle fibers in my calf.  I am on crutches for at least 2 days and I need to keep trying to flex my foot to stretch my calf muscles.  I can only "comfortably" walk on the ball of my foot, I am currently unable to step on my heel right now.  So much for my horse show, I am super crushed as I was really, really looking forward to this show as I love cross country.  On the plus side my instructor has agreed to ride the App on Saturday for cross country schooling and again during the show so at least I am not loosing my entry fees.  Hopefully I can start walking again tomorrow, I feel almost helpless and hate having to rely on others to get my chores done.  As a very indepenent person I hate this feeling.