Thursday, July 26, 2012

Returning to normal

Things are slowing winding back to normal.  I am fairly mobile now, walking around on one crutch most of the time.  I have decent motion back in my knee and I can already obtain full extension.  I have started doing leg lifts to pick up my leg and all the fun exercises to reactivate my muscles that have been snoozing for about a week.  I have been calling it my "stupid leg" because it doesn't listen, hopefully that changes soon as my muscles reactivate. 

The horses are doing just fine, the only story of note is after I had the new hay delivered the TWH decided his diet was too restrictive.  When we went out on Monday the TWH was sitting outside of his stall perfectly content as he munched on a pile of lose hay.  He had broken the lowest chain guard (surprisingly cheaply made, not only did the chain not go all the way through but it was two pieces of chain, a small loop of wire on each chain and nothing but the plastic connecting them) and ducked under the top chain guard.  I replaced it with a web stall guard for now and he has stayed put.  I can't give him too much trouble as this is the first time he has escaped since he has been here and he hasn't tried anything since. 

Hope to have a better update soon, this one is boring but I have spent 95% of this past 6 days in the house and thus don't have many stories. Maybe soon!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Stall rest

Life around here does seem to be slowing to a crawl, I spend most of my time on the couch and not able to do much.  I am not allowed to go outside by myself and am constantly reminded "Stall Rest".  Blah.  I don't handle stall rest wel, I am a very active person and this is boring me to death.  On the plus side the doc said the surgery went very well, I don't actually have any additional meniscus damage however I have very little of it left.  He said he was surprised I was moving as well as I was because I have been walking with bone-against-bone in my knee, I had bone dust and chips floating around in my joint.  No wonder things felt so wonky lol.  He cleaned things out and resurfaced my bone so hopefully it won't continue to be a problem.  He is also pretty confident that I won't need a replacement by the time I am 40 like I was planning, horray for me!

Tomorrow starts physical therapy and I am sure the pain will follow.  I currently only have 3.5 days of pain pills left, they sure didn't give me many and I don't have refills.  Worse comes to worse I suppose I will call in for a new script. 

On another note my "new" hay came today, all delivered and stacked by someone else.  My "I don't like this hay" has been confirmed on a couple of levels, the bales are pretty loose and several of them have broken open.  And yes I was charged for the broken ones.  Also I confirmed the bales are very high in alfalfa, the farmer said the bales are 80-90 percent alfalfa.  Great, I can't feed alfalfa to the donkey because it is too high in protein.  My quick research tells me it is the primary cause of founder, obesity and liver/kidney problems/failure.  Oh joy.  Am really unsure how I am going to handle this, feeding at night will be fine but not sure how feeding breakfast hay will work out.  I currently turn everyone out to eat off of hay nets.  The only thing I can think of is to either lock her out of the arena until lunch, not turn her out until lunch or keep a grazing muzzle on her.  Going to have to find an option or I will feel I have to sell her because I don't want to make her founder just because I can't get good hay.  Any ideas?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

24 hours to go

I am getting ready for surgery tomorrow, trying to get the house picked up and things prepared.  My grandmother is coming in to "take care of things" while I am down, she may be 70 but she insists she can (and does) work like a 40 year old.  She will help take care of the animals for at least two weeks.  If I am not capable after 2 weeks then something must be wrong right?

I am trying really hard not to think about the surgery as it gets me extremely anxious.  I may be able to handle needles and give shots but I am very needle phobic.  It is about my only phobia but it is a good one.  When I had surgery last time they had to give me 3 tranquilizers.  One to "take the edge off" when I got there, another after they hooked me up because I was still anxious and the "big one" when talking to the anesthesiologist because he told me they were doing a nerve block (no big deal) and they were going to stick a needle in my groin (VERY big deal!).  I only remember nurses telling me to calm down, calm down now, then heard "give it to her" and then don't remember anything until I woke up and was fighting to get out of bed as I didn't realize time had passed.  I guess I talked to SO and the Dr and chatted with nurses but I don't remember a thing.

I am doing a pretty good job of distracting myself from the thought of surgery, keeping busy is doing most of it.  As long as my body and mind stay active I can't think about things.  I am sure things will be fine but it doesn't matter, I am still nervous about it.  Nervous about how the recovery will go, will the critters be fine, how will I get up and down the stairs as the bedroom/shower is upstairs and everything else is downstairs, will I be in a drug induced haze like I was last time?

I will give an update after surgery sometime and share how it went.  I have stayed upbeat leading up to surgery so I hope I stay that way afterwards.  Looking forward to riding again, let's see how fast I can do that.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A great last ride

 I haven't mentioned it much however my area is going through a pretty big drought, we haven't had almost any measurable rain since mid-May.  Things are very brown and the grass is going from dormant to dead.  Dead hay fields are being turned under and being replaced with crops making a bad hay shortage even worse as there won't be a 2nd cutting there.  I called a guy today as I heard he had some hay, his price for 1st cutting?  $6 a bale, from the wagon only.  Not delivered or stacked.  My hay guy said he will get some sort of 2nd cutting since he cut his first cutting so early in the season but we have to have some sort of rain so he isn't cutting dead grass.  I after calling several others I finally called another guy who RB4 uses and he is selling 300 bales at $3.25 a bale.  While I don't like the hay I suppose it is better then nothing so it will be here this weekend.  I am even splurging and paying to have it stacked and delivered, a luxury I haven't ever had before.  I will only need about 150 more bales to make it until the spring, hopefully we get some rain else everyone will be eating hay pellets instead of hay from a bale

I have made sure to stay extra busy in the days leading up to surgery to keep me from getting too depressed, lots of wood cutting/clearing/splitting/stacking to prepare for the upcoming winter, install a new ceiling fan which included running wires through a fiberglass insulation filled crawlspace, cutting holes in the roof to install some roof vents, rearranging the barn again and trying to prepare things for my being down for a couple of weeks.  While SO wasn't super thrilled with my desire to ride, when the Dr said I could ride if I was careful, I continued with my plans to ride in the only hunter pace that is held around here.  In Ohio I rode in several a year and LOVED them.  An organized trail rides with optional jumps that you could school and reschool over?  Jumps that you haven't ever seen before so there is that challenge plus some being just very different, it is excellent practice and exposure for an eventer in training!  A school bench?  Sure!  A jump with actual railroad crossing signs on the standards for the extra spook factor?  Bring it on!  A log with a drop on the landing side you weren't aware of until you were over the jump?  Hey I am game and have done it all.  Since this is the only one for the year in at least an hour drive, probably more, I was really not wanting to miss it.

On Sunday I packed up and brought the TWH over to pick up RB3's horse and off we went.  It was quite different from the hunter paces I have done in Ohio, that is for sure.  It was more of a treasure hunt to find the trails we needed, the trails were marked with orange flagging tape however it wasn't marked well at all.  No arrows, no markers at a crossing, a labyrinth of trails with the right one identified only by a single orange tape 10-20 yards down the trail.  We helped a few groups who had walked past a marker onto a different trail and were successful in finding a marker at one point only because we saw riders in a different direction then we were headed.  There were also not many jumps on the path.  One hunter pace I have done had 40 jumps in it with typical averages of around 20-30 jumps.  This ride had maybe 10 jumps, all of which were between 2-3 feet.  It was a little disappointing but since I wasn't planning on jumping it was probably for the best.

I had such a great time with the TWH too.  He walked when I asked and he would give me an awesome canter, nice, balanced and light.  There was even two points during the ride we were able to give a full gallop and the TWH just loved it.  The second gallop was over an hour into the ride and I fully expected him to pull up before I asked but he didn't, he wanted to keep going resulting in my finally having to circle him to bring him back.  He was such a rockstar during the entire ride and while he was sweaty he wasn't exhausted after the 2 hour ride.

Also, despite my "knowing better", I even popped him over a couple of smaller jumps.  Over the first jump, an inviting 2 foot coop, he was really hesitant and unsure if he was really supposed to go.  There was enough hesitation that I even prepared for a refusal, as a result when he jumped it I was left behind a bit.  I am very proud that he didn't refuse though, I call that progress in my book!  The other jump was a little 2 foot rock wall by a road crossing and he jumped it beautifully without any of the hesitation of before, he made me very proud.  Not only did he jump brand new things without first being presented to them at a walk, he jumped well AND appeared to be looking for jumps and locking onto them with "radar ears".  Despite only going over 2 jumps, towards the end of the ride he actually seemed to be asking me if we were going over jumps when we approached them.  I made a conscious effort to walk near any jump with him pointed away from the jump but when one popped up on us fairly suddenly when we were cantering, his little ears locked on and he was ready to go.  Yay eventing horse! 

Much to my surprise I also am not even a little bit sore from the ride yesterday.  I may try a short ride tomorrow but that will be it for several weeks.  I am very glad I was able to end on such a good ride.

Friday, July 13, 2012

It's going to be slow going for a while

Yet another good news, bad news post.  Good news is I have surgery on the 20th to fix my knee again, hopefully this one lasts longer and I recover pretty quickly.  The doc is pretty confident that I will be in physical therapy on the 23rd and within a month be walking normally.  He said in 3 months I should be 100% though it takes up to 7 months for the ACL graft to be fully healed.  My grandmother is coming in from New England to help out around the farm so the animals will be taken care of and at least I will have someone around for the first week after surgery. Keep your fingers crossed!

Bad news is I had set up with my trainer to ride the TWH at least once a week to get him back into shape (or a shape that isn't round) with having my sights set on her showing him in Sept.  I got a text from her this morning saying she was thrown from a horse yesterday and has broken her leg and is also going in for surgery next week.  Her recovery will be longer, she won't be riding for about 3 months.  Looks like I will have two fat, round horses come fall.  So much for keeping them in shape but at least I tried.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Natra gets schooled

Since I had scheduled a lesson and then got hurt, again, I had simply changed my lesson to a training ride.  The trainer, will call her H, then had to reschedule and we finally were able to connect on Monday.  Since the App is doing fine and the TWH is pretty overweight, I had her ride the TWH.  I was very careful around the horses and didn't make any whisper about her coming and riding, it seemed like every time I spoke about a lesson in front of the TWH he was coming up lame this past spring lol.  As a result of my secrecy he was nice and sound for the ride.

Her initial comments about him is that he feels SO different.  She also thinks he gives a good effort to do what you are asking and doesn't fight you, something I have said all along.  She was having a hard time feeling his gaits, like when he first gives his trot ,but towards the end of the ride she was feeling it much better.  Since this is the second time she has ever rode him and the first time was for about 10 mins several months ago, she started him at a walk and meandered around.  She tested his lateral movements and worked on some halts.  She then bumped into a trot and she would simply giggle sometimes and shake her head over how different he feels.  After a couple of sticky up transitions he figured out what she wanted and gave pretty nice trot transitions for the rest of the ride.

H even got brave and asked for some leg yields at the trot, something the TWH can do but is difficult for him when trotting.  She played with changes of direction and tempo, working to get him a little more collected and light.  I was pretty impressed and a bit mad at myself for not bringing my camera out, he looked pretty good most of the ride.  He stayed fairly round and collected and moved nicely for her.

H then tried out his canter, right lead first which is his better lead.  TWH first tried a pacey canter and I had H bring him back to a halt and ask again, I don't allow that and I told H that she shouldn't either.  The second canter departure was lovely and H was very pleased with the transition.  The TWH stayed fairly uphill and collected and moved nicely within the canter.  They then switched and worked on the left lead.  She said it certainly is his weaker lead, he isn't uphill and isn't as balanced.  A lot of it has to do with the fact he hasn't cantered much at all under saddle since March, it will come.

For the last part of the ride H got to experience and work on the difficult canter-trot transition.  I tried coaching her through a few transitions but let her try her tricks.  Shoulder in through the transition, haunches in through the transition, leg yield into the transition, transition to walk then trot, finally she agreed what I have been doing seems to be best.  Ask for a downward transition, wait a moment for him to balance in the pace then ask for the trot.  He will pace, do some shuffling gait that I don't know what it is (rack maybe?) and then will trot.  As he gets stronger with more consistent riding the amount of time needed in the pace will decrease until the transition will get almost seamless again.

All in all it was a good ride.  It was her first real ride on him and I didn't give her much of an agenda as I wanted her to feel him out and just get him back to work.  I am going to have her come out about once a week to ride him and, if nothing else, get some of that weight off of him.  He is currently about 150-200 pounds overweight and despite dropping his feed down to slightly more than the donkey, he isn't dropping weight.  Next ride is next Thursday, will let you know how it goes!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Very Good and Very Bad news

Sorry I have been absent, I was waiting to post until I had all good news to share.  Unfortunately that won't be happening so I might as well let everyone know how things are going.  Last week I had received an email from Kota's new owner asking if I would be willing to give her a lesson, she really loved him but wanted me to show her the buttons that he knew.  Kota had been becoming mobile in both the cross ties and at the mounting block so she wanted to know what I suggested for that.

I went out last Sunday and gave her a 2 hour lesson.  The first hour we worked on ground work and I reminded Kota of his manners and showed her how to handle him and move his quarters.  I showed her that Whoa means Whoa and how to remind Kota of that and then worked with her until she was able to get the same results.  After that part of the lesson she said she was already 50% more confident with him and very happy with the lesson.  For the second part of the lesson I rode him and found he had reverted back to two of his favorite tricks, keeping his head in the air like a llama and bracing and locking his inside shoulder.  We worked a bit on those items and while we weren't able to completely fix them in the ride, I was able to give his new owner tips on how to fix them.  At the end of my ride I even asked for the canter both directions and he gave me the correct lead each time.  I was so pleased!

His owner rode next and overall it went well.  She could benefit greatly from some equitation lessons however she never seemed in danger of falling off and the two of them got along really well.  I was very happy to hear that she not only could feel when Kota locked his shoulder but now knew how to fix it and actively fixed the issue when it arose.  She even cantered him and he behaved wonderfully.  At the end of the lesson each of us was sweaty and tired but the new owner was extremely happy with how things went.  She said she felt much better about Kota, handling him and his training after the session.  She is really looking forward to using the new skills on him to make him a better horse and is willing to put the effort into fixing is bad habits.  I am really happy for them!

Unfortunately my bad news is that my MRI results came back and they are bad.  Pretty bad.  The reconstructive work I had done in 2004 was destroyed, the ACL graft that was put in has been completely severed and there is severe meniscus damage.  The family physician who ordered the MRI wasn't sure from the results if the damage was new or existing but it doesn't sound good.  I am now searching for a really good ortho guy and looking at surgery.  Family physician wants it done ASAP and wants me back on crutches and being non-weight bearing, I figure it will be done by July and I will walk with the cane that SO made me buy.  I am extremely disappointed and very upset with myself in not listening to my gut that the horse would hurt me, I even blogged about it and didn't do anything about it.  As a result things are very bad for my poor leg and my show season is completely shot.  Hopefully I don't fall too far into this depression I am falling into, looking for some more good news to lift my spirits.