Thursday, January 29, 2009

Any day with my horse...

is a good day. Haven't been at the barn as much as I'm use to lately but that is about to change. I have 6 days left and I am back in the saddle. I have been thinking about cheating but when I bring it up hubby gives me the evil eye. I guess the solution is not to bring it up :)

Headed out to the barn this morning to lunge. My timing was great. Two riders were just finishing up and no one else was there. I try to avoid lunging with riders in the arena as much as I can. Boo usually lunges well under control but there are those odd times when he's full of himself or something spooks him. I have ridden in an arena with an out of control horse being lunged, and I find it irritating and dangerous. I don't see that as much at the barn I am at now. Most everyone is in control of their horse.

Boo didn't think work was such a good idea today. I could tell by the way he kept trying to inch his way out of the arena while I was cleaning his feet. Once he figured out that wasn't going to work, he decided to rush and spook at the short ends of the arena to see if that might be his ticket back to the pasture. I responded by having him come back down to a walk and walked him past the short ends repeatedly until he finally went past them without even looking like he might spook. Once we had that accomplished I sent him off in a trot and let him work himself up and down the length of the arena. Once he warmed up he was moving forward and reaching under himself quite well. Boo can be a bit lazy so I was happy to see this behavior. He responded well to all my voice commands going from walk, to trot, to canter, to trot, to canter, to walk, and back to canter. He worked well both directions and worked up a bit of a sweat, which only goes to show he is a out of shape. We put on a cooler and walked around the arena for about 20 minutes drying him out.

I go back out tomorrow to meet up with the farrier. It feels good to know I'll be there again tomorrow. Even though we won't be doing any lunging again so soon. I think hubby might ride him tomorrow night. If not then, he will on Saturday. Can't be letting the boy get anymore out of shape than he already is.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

One more week to go

I am so stuffed up I can barely breathe. It has completely drained me of energy. I haven't been at the barn since Monday night, and even then I just stood around shivering while hubby took care of Bay. Boo didn't even get taken out of his stall. Hubby has had the week from hell at work and won't be able to ride him until Friday night. So I will definitely be out lunging tomorrow whether I can breathe or not! I need to spend a little time with my face buried in Boo's neck breathing in the sweet smell of vitamin H... HA! Breathing! That's a joke!

On a lighter note, I have been using the time to do some reading. I just finished a book by Priscilla Endicott called "Taking Up the Reins". It is the authors story of a year she spent in Germany with a dressage master. I enjoyed the book. It is not a technical book, but rather the story of the authors experiences and feelings. It is also not a new book. It's copyright is 1999. Since I finished that book last night, I was wondering what I should read today. When I checked the mail I discovered I had received the ODS omnibus and my "Flying Changes" magazine. The omnibus has the 2009 test booklet in it, so I spent some time this afternoon trying to memorize a few tests. That way when I have the arena all to myself I can practice riding a test now and then. I like the "Flying Changes" magazine because it keeps me up-to-date on what is happening is the horse world in the PNW and because it has all the upcoming shows listed by month for the entire year. I spent some time copying the ones I am interested in down in my calendar. Now I have horse events for every single month through September at my fingertips. Come on show season 2009!!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Counting the days...

I have taken to pacing the barn aisle lately while grinding my teeth and clenching my fists. The closer I get to being able to ride myself (just under 2 weeks to go) the harder it is for me to watch hubby ride Boo. Especially when said horse is taking extreme advantage of the fact that my husband is not well versed in the two-handed, snaffle bit, dressage saddle type of riding. I am chomping at the bit to get back on and give Boo the comeuppance I feel he deserves.

I see it all. The on the forehand, the high head, the falling in on the circles. It drives me absolutely insane to watch it! On hubby’s last ride Thursday night we had to go back to basics and spend time just putting Boo in front of the leg. Now hubby rides western…so he’s got the big ole spurs…but I like to have Boo listen without spurs. He eventually did, but he’s gotta know if he keeps this up I might give in and let hubby use those big ole spurs. I definitely need to relax a bit, chill out, do some reading on how to go about fixing the problems I know I’m going to encounter once I’m back in the saddle.

I bought Jane Savoie’s “A Happy Horse” course a while back and I really do like it. I’ve also joined her Dressage Mentor website. I’ve audited a couple of her clinics before and really like the way she presents things. I figure with Jane I can figure out how to get back on track and once we are, I can do a clinic here and there and possible take a lesson once a month just to have eyes on the ground. I wish I could do a weekly lesson, but that is just not in the cards right now.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Beware! This stuff is disgusting...

A week ago I posted about a skin problem we were having with Bay. We tried all kinds of things to clear it up. Shapleys MTG, a fungicide, T-zone…it started out small and annoying. Needless to say we finally called out the vet. It’s ringworm. Don’t know how or why he got it. No one else has it. We are in for quite the ordeal, however, to clear it up. We have to bathe him with a prescription shampoo daily (every other day if we must) and spray it 2-3 times a day with a medicated spray. He has to be isolated from the other horses and all of his grooming supplies, blankets, and tack have to be disinfected. We have to do all of this wearing gloves so that we don’t get infected ourselves.

This started out as bumps we could feel under the hair. The bumps could be picked off like scabs and the hair would come with them. Then the skin would dry and flake. It is a silvery looking flaking. When I saw it today I thought it looked like he had mold in the hairless places. He doesn’t appear to be itching it. That’s a blessing. It’s a nasty business. I suggest that if anyone has even a glimmer of suspicion that a skin condition on their horse might be ringworm they should begin treatment right away. This stuff moves fast.

On the upside it is treatable and non life threatening. I did some reading on the subject and I’ve read over and over again that the young (under 3 years), the old, and those with stressed immune systems are most vulnerable. Bay isn’t under 3, and at 12 I wouldn’t call him old. He does come down with hives every spring and seems to be allergic to just about everything, so perhaps his immune system was stressed and that allowed him to pick up this organism that is “just out there in the world” as the vet said.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Horse Tails

Boo has a gorgeous tail. It pooled on the ground when I first got him, and I kept it that way for quite some time. The young girls at the barn were horrified if they even thought I was going to cut it. I finally decided that it was dangerous to keep it that way. I didn’t want him backing up on it in shows and pulling it out. So I started banging it and quite frankly I like it better. It looks even thicker banged than it really is. Besides, that is how it’s done in dressage.

Since I’ve moved to the new barn I’ve gotten a bit lazy about braiding and bagging the tail. I worried that it would get wet through the tail bag when he was out to pasture and it would mold. So I’ve been leaving it down. I noticed recently that it is getting thinner. Not shorter, but thinner.

I’ve used Cowboy Magic on it for years, but now I find that his tail gets dirtier in general just from being out to pasture and the Cowboy Magic isn’t working as well as it has in the past. I think I need to wash his tail way more often. I think the conditioner would work better in a clean tail. So my new thing is I need to wash the tail at least once a month and keep it braided and bagged, even if that means I need to take the tail down every few days and check on the condition.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Good News

Met up with my surgeon this morning, and after taking a look at my newest x-rays, he said I can start lunging again! No riding for 3 more weeks and no falling for longer than that, so I guess I’ll have to take it slow in the beginning. That’s okay. I’m healing! Whoo Hoo!

I’ll start out just using a lunge line and then move on to the more difficult stuff after I see how that goes. Hubby will continue to ride 3 days a week and with me lunging once a week, Boo will be getting more exercise than he has in quite some time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coffee with old friends

I had coffee today with two of my favorite people. We use to see each other almost daily but times change and people move on. It’s sad when it happens, yet I’ve learned it doesn’t have to mean the end. All it takes is a little time and a little effort and we can hang on to the people most dear to us. It’s especially helpful to have something in common that bonds you together like we do. That bond would be horses. Horse people are wonderful people, and the friends I have made over the past few years with my horses are the best in the world. They have taught me so much, and we have shared some wonderful experiences!

When I first started taking riding lessons I felt so out of my element. I had always liked horses…you might even say I was rather infatuated with them. Give me any opportunity to be around horses and I would take it. I spent hours sitting at horse shows watching but not really understanding what I should be looking for. Even so, I was somewhat afraid of them too. Largely because I was so green.

Once my children had left home, I decided to learn to ride. Considering I was somewhat intimidated, I thought the best option would be to learn something about horse behavior before I took the plunge. I enrolled in a community education class on horse behavior taught by a local stable owner. I took that class two times just be to certain I had my bases covered. I went on to enroll in riding lessons with the same stable owner and I stayed there for seven years. I had two different riding instructors there, and I learned a lot from both of them about riding and horse care. They helped me to find Boo and helped my hubby find Bay. Their experience and help was invaluable.

So was the help, advice, and companionship I received from the people I met at the barn. I learned how to clean stalls from watching them and how to pick out hooves. I learned how to bathe my horse, clip my horse, and braid my horse. I even learned how to sand his feet and make the hooves reflect like a mirror for the class A show circuit. I learned about different products to use and which ones didn’t work. I learned about blanketing and fly sheets, lunging and supplementing and so much more.

We spent countless hours together watching horse shows and clinics. This time I had someone with me who knew what to look for, so I learned about confirmation and gaits and all the different disciplines. I learned to be more generous from these people. I was able to share my horse with young women who truly are talented and kind. In doing so, I was able to learn the ins and outs of the show world and to share in their disappointments and in their victories. Seeing my friends show made me a better rider. Just watching them was a learning experience. We all pitched in and worked together. We helped set up, we helped tear down. We shared our food and our chairs and our enthusiasm, and through it all we built a bond that will bring me to their side anytime, anyplace I am needed.

Although I am at a different barn these days, I haven’t forgotten my old pals. As a matter of fact, I cherish them even more. Enough to take the time and make the effort to insure that we do not lose touch with one another. I want us to continue sharing our horse experiences and our life experiences…and I look forward to making those kind of friendships in the future at my new barn and within the horse world.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What to try?

Horse #2, Bay, has some scruffy stuff on his neck. He seems to be prone to these weird conditions. Last year it was hives. It feels like a bump under the hair. If you scratch at it, it comes off like a scab, along with his hair and leaves a bald patch of skin underneath. We washed his neck and mane on Sunday and applied a fungicide. Don’t know if it’s a fungus or not. It doesn’t seem to be causing him any pain. I thought maybe it was rain rot, but none of the other horses seem to have it. We went to try and buy him a neck cover just in case, but that’s an exercise in futility. Looks like we’ll have to try and find one on the internet unless we want to buy an entire new blanket too.

Has anyone else had this problem? Any suggestions on what it could be and steps to take before the vet is called in?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Standing on the sidelines

I got cold all the way down to my bones out at the barn today. My fingers and toes hurt. I felt like a human popsicle. I guess that’s what happens when your standing around watching someone else ride your horse.

I’m grateful that my dear husband is willing to ride for me while I am unable to. Boo is 14.3, short backed, and I’m told a rather bumpy ride; especially when he’s traveling around the arena on his forehand.

Hubby rides all western all the time. I like dressage (notice I didn’t say I’m a dressage rider). It was quite the sight, Boo in the western saddle with the dressage bridle and snaffle bit. Hubby riding around with the western loop in the reins and absolutely no contact with the bit! Boo knows how to do western. It’s the first thing he was trained in, but he hasn’t done it for 4 years…except for lead line with the grandsons. I wonder if he felt somewhat schizo with the gear for two different disciplines on at the same exact time.

I tried to make myself useful by standing on the sidelines calling out things like: turn the key in the lock, or do a shoulder in down the long side, or lift your ribcage and tighten your tummy. Hubby just pretended he couldn’t hear me. I suspect I was the most useful when I got the shovel and picked the horse apples out of the arena.

I stood by the railing and every time they would get even with me Boo would shoot me this look like…there better be sugar cubes after this for me…it’s just not dignified. I didn’t have the heart to tell him tomorrow he’d be using the “BIG BOY BIT.”

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wish me luck!

Many people (nonhorse people) may think you don’t need to be physically fit to ride a horse. They would be wrong. You don’t need to be physically fit to sit on a horse. You must be physically fit and emotionally fit to really ride a horse. Riding a horse is an exhilarating experience and that experience is what motivates my change in eating habits and physical fitness routine. Sometimes I wonder if we don’t approach weight loss from a backwards direction. Lance Armstrong doesn’t ride his bike in order to be physically fit. He keeps physically fit so that he can ride the way he rides. His passion for the sport is the motivation. Just as mine is. I don’t ride to keep fit. I keep fit so that I can ride.

I don’t count calories, but I do read labels. I try to keep the fat content low and the fiber content high. The mainstays of my diet are lean protein, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low fat dairy. I walk daily, and I’m working on strengthening my core. I work on balance and flexiblity. Over time I am the incredibly shrinking woman. The side benefits are more strength, more endurance, more energy, and I look better in my clothes…but that is not the reason I stick with it. That I do because of the horse. when you find your passion, the activity that resonates with you, that is when taking care of yourself becomes a priority.

Hahahaha! I wrote that 3 years ago…today I am 20 pounds overweight and trying to talk myself into getting back on the treadmill and cutting out the sugar. We all fall off the wagon. The trick is getting back up again…my goal is to be walking regularly and off the sugar by the time my doc releases me to ride again. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The time for looking back is over...

It has been 2 years since the surgery that placed a plate with 6 screws into my collar bone to hold it together. My doctor told me at the time that if I was planning to keep riding I should probably have the plate removed in the future. I had the hardware removed just short of one month ago, and I have been recuperating at home. I resisted removing the plate for as long as I could. It took me so long to get back to the place in my riding where I had been before the accident…I’m not sure I ever really did. I was unwilling to lose anymore time in the saddle, and if I am going to be completely truthful I was terrified of the surgery and the recuperation. As I started doing more and more canter work I realized that it was time to stop taking chances. A fall on the shoulder with the hardware in place could have serious consequences.

It took me until last spring to start cantering again. Even thinking about it made my blood run cold…but I decided to make myself a promise at the beginning of 2008. I decided I would canter again before the year was done. I started out doing just a few strides of canter at a time. Poor Pugsley! I was so stiff with fear. It must have been quite painful for him. He would throw his head and try to pull the reins from my hands. My fanny must have popped a foot out of the saddle with each stride. If you were a stranger watching me, you would have thought I’d never cantered before. Still, I persevered and began to feel more and more comfortable.

Happily, this surgery’s aftermath has not been nearly what it was the first time around. Of course the bone is no longer broken, so I am mostly contending with the incision site. I do have 6 holes in my clavicle that have to fill in with synthetic bone marrow. That’s why I won’t be riding for at least another month…but the end is in sight. All of this will soon be behind me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Back in the saddle

I think the way I began writing the story of my riding accident has caused some confusion. My riding accident happened on July 24, 2006. I have been telling the story from that time forward…

It has been 3 months since the surgery and almost 7 months since the accident. I am slowly making progress, although I apparently am slow at growing bone. Still, the doctor thought he saw some fuzzy areas on the last x-ray that indicated bone growth. My physical therapy is helping. I have most of my range of motion back. I am no longer in severe pain. Still, there is a low level pain that does not go away.

Pugsley has seemed distant for most of the past 3 months, as if he feels abandoned by me. He doesn’t nicker when I come into the barn. The bright-eyed interest and nuzzling behavior he use to show when I was around is gone. They are reserved for his young rider now. Who can blame him. Immediately following the surgery I was in so much pain that I rarely left the house.

Tonight I rode Pugsley even though I do not have the okay from my doctor. It’s a little scary to be back in the saddle, even at a walk. It has taken so long for this bone to knit back together, even with the help of the plate, synthetic bone marrow, and some newfangled machine that shoots a pulsating energy at the bone twice a day to help it heal. On horseback anything is possible, and my husband, Mick, is so nervous about what I’m doing that he insisted on leadlining me just in case my Boo (Pugsley’s pet name) decided to well….BOO!!! I was only on about 10 minutes. After I got off, Pugsley seemed different, more attentive, softer in the eye. I think he wants me to come back. Most people will scoff and say that is wishful thinking on my part, but I don’t know. I was feeling the connection again, and it seemed like he was feeling it too.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Something a little different...

From left to right: Jackie Gibson, Miss Rodeo Oregon; Ally Bowden, Jefferson County Rodeo Princess; Robyn Belvoir, Jefferson County Rodeo Queen.

I did something Saturday night that I have never done before. I went to the coronation of the Columbia county rodeo court. I have a niece from Central Oregon who is a rodeo princess for Jefferson county. The Jefferson county court came over for the coronation out at the Columbia county fairgrounds, and we attended with them. So many beautiful girls dressed up in all their bling and cowboy hats. There was dinner, a silent auction, a live auction, and even dancing. We met girls from many rodeo courts, but I think the highlight was meeting the incoming Miss Rodeo Oregon, Jackie Gibson. Jackie is from Canby, Oregon. She will be having her coronation on January 31, 2009. I took the following information from the website

2009 Miss Rodeo Oregon Coronation
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Clackamas County Fairgrounds ~ Main Pavilion ~ Canby, Oregon
Doors open at 5:00 PM
Tickets are $15 in advanced, $20 at the door
Contact Jackie 503.572.7177
or Lynn Haynes, 503.628.0555 or

With the slump in the economy these young ladies are having a real struggle trying to raise the funds needed to participate as they should. If your interested in attending it would truly be helpful and a fun time could be had by all!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

3 months after the fall

August melted into September. I distracted myself with the Pendleton Roundup ( having friends run interference in the crowds to save me from getting bumped) and from there we went to the Arabian Sporthorse Nationals in Nampa Idaho. It was the first year for the show in Nampa and I did enjoy spending the week watching all those beautiful Arabian horses. When we returned home I had another appointment with my orthopedic surgeon. Still no change. It was in October when we began considering that I might not heal on my own. The fracture was just too displaced. He had hoped and waited so I could avoid surgery, but now he was convinced I needed it if I was ever to heal.

It has been 3 months since the accident. Seems longer. Seems like a lifetime ago. I’m not sure my body remembers how to follow his walk, trot, or canter. He looks at me quizzically when I enter his stall. Is he wondering why I no longer take him out for our time together? Oh well, he thinks…at least she still feeds me peppermints. I miss my horse. I see him almost every day, yet I miss him as if he is gone from me…because in a way, he is gone from me. I can no longer ride. It would be melodramatic to say I may never ride again, yet some part of me fears exactly that. I am 53 years old. I have a broken collar bone and perhaps a torn rotator cuff that are refusing to heal. I have been waiting for 3 months, and now the doctor tells me I will need an operation, and I will need to wait some more. My throat closes up. I can barely breath. Frustration pours through me. I did not find my passion until late in life. I feel the clock ticking. Only so much time left for me and for my old boy. I hate wasting it.

In early November I went in for day surgery. When I came out of surgery I went home and it was as if I had broken my collar bone all over again. The pain was unbearable. There was a lot of swelling and I had to have a portable machine that iced the site on a regular schedule round the clock. I was on pain meds that caused me to feel loopy and sick. Sometimes when I did sleep I would feel as if I were falling and jerk myself awake only to wrench the bones that were now being held together with a titanium plate and six screws. I had been sleeping in my recliner chair ever since the accident happened. Maybe now the end was in sight.

Friday, January 2, 2009


The pain kicked in on the way to the hospital. Don’t touch me, don’t move me, don’t touch me, don’t move me was all I could think… and of course, once I got to the hospital, I had to move from the car, to the wheelchair, to the x-ray table, back to the wheelchair, and finally onto a bed in the emergency room. “Yes, it’s broken,” and “no, we don’t cast it,” they told me. “We send you to a specialist.” I went home in a sling, and a few days later I was in the waiting room of an orthopedic surgeon who looked at all my x-rays and then took more of his own. Apparently the protocol with a broken collar bone is to wait and see if it will heal on its own. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. I was sent home and told to wear my sling except for when I was doing the excruciatingly painful exercises I needed to do in order to keep my shoulder from freezing in place.

I spent the next month sleeping in a recliner chair because I could not lie down flat. I needed help getting dressed because I could not lift my arm over my head or behind me to slide on a shirt. Someone had to slide the sleeve over my left arm and up to my shoulder and then help me find the sleeve for my right arm. I couldn’t fish around for it on my own. That hurt. Everything hurt. I had to wear my husband’s button front shirts. Big and loose was the name of the game. Someone had to help me wash my hair because I couldn’t do it on my own. I couldn’t style my hair either. My husband tried, but he looked like a deer caught in the headlights with the blow dryer and styling brush in his hands. I just didn’t have the heart to put him through it. Consequently, I looked pretty pathetic most days with my too big shirts, elastic waist pants, and flat hair. I couldn’t drive. I was miserable

I visited my horse a lot. Anytime I could get someone to drive me to the barn. I had a lovely young girl riding and showing him in dressage even before the accident. She continued with him as if he were her own, and I am forever grateful to her because he never lacked for exercise or attention. I was also jealous as hell. Imagine that! A 53-year-old woman jealous of a 12-year-old girl. All I could do was give him a carrot. I couldn’t lead him or groom him because if he spooked and pulled on the end of that lead rope, even with my good arm holding it, my healing could have been compromised. So I contented myself with watching someone else with him…and on the days when I felt really sorry for myself and couldn’t bear to see that…I didn’t go.

I returned to my orthopedic surgeon a month after the accident for another x-ray…no change. Ummm, NO CHANGE? How could there be NO CHANGE?

Thursday, January 1, 2009


At first I didn’t realize how badly I had been hurt. I was focusing on my back and my legs. They appeared to be fine…but when I tried to move my left arm I knew something was not right. Although I felt no pain, I could hear the bone grinding against bone. I now know that I was in shock and my body was protecting me from the pain of a clavicle that had snapped and was badly displaced. Of course I immediately wanted to know if my gelding, Pugsley, was alright. One of the girls caught him, and I asked her to trot him back and forth for me so I could see he was fine. Satisfied that he was not injured I had her untack and put him back in his stall. Another girl ran to get the barn owners once it was evident I was not able to get up on my own. I knew I needed to go to the emergency room, but rather than call an ambulance I had someone call my husband at his office. He was about 10 minutes away. While waiting for him to arrive I continued to sit on the ground, and I continued to feel no pain. It was during this time I learned the barn owners had not removed the cones from the arena. Instead it had been the girls who were there when I arrived. “Where are the cones?” the barn owner roared when he entered the arena. “Who moved the cones?” ( I have to admit his language was a little more colorful than that, but I’ll try to keep it rated “G” since there were teenage girls involved) Frightened by what had happened to me, the girls told the barn owners they had asked the hired man if they could move the cones and he told them yes, however, they should be careful and take it easy. I could not believe my ears! They had neglected to tell this to me! If they had I would not have cantered through that end of the arena. I was to distracted with my situation to confront them at the time. Now, all these months later…I wish I had.