You, Forever

So I alluded briefly to this, but damn the weekend really went sideways. I was working/on call Saturday, so I had Monday off as my weekend. Sounds good, right?

WRONG.

I had a poor ride on Sunday- it felt crummy, and 100% my fault- so I was looking forward to meeting with my equine counselor to review my issues on Monday and I had the luxury of time! What a good opportunity, right?

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Oats decides to eat his hay (we don’t keep halters on in their homes, I just wanted to see if he would eat after I hand-grazed him).

HAaaaaa.

I woke up to about 10 text messages from the morning feeder, who said Oats didn’t eat any of his night time hay, wasn’t eating his morning hay, was sulking at the back of his paddock and refused to get turned out.

Instantly alarm bells were ringing in my brain. Colic? What is going on? Oats’ friend Donato had a big bout of colic on Tuesday last week (and then I learned ANOTHER round of it on Sunday which is quite rare and frightening). Shit shit shit shit shit!!

So I called the vet, they said to go out and take his temp, see how it is and let them know.

I rushed out, tossed on jeans and a tshirt and raced out to the barn. Oats looked fine, his temperature was normal-to-low, and yep all of his hay was still there. The vet asked me to hand graze, and he was very eager to eat grass. So the next step was to shake out the hay bags and see if it was the hay, or if it looked different, would he eat it? Yep! He started eating it.

So WTF? They just said check on him, see how he is throughout the day. So I left, ran some errands (and yeah just went nuts at Greenhawk and bought a bunch of stuff…a new helmet, gloves, a replacement fly mask and SWAT for his poor swollen sheath).

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My stress buying stuff. June has been just so crappy. To be fair, I did need a new helmet for safety.

I went back to the barn to apply the SWAT and Oats was back to eating his hay like nothing had happened. Weird. I left a note on the board saying to not turn Oats out in the paddock he was freaking out about, and flagged it online to the stable community…And then I got the message about why, exactly, he was acting so weird.

He had gotten left out till about 8pm in the paddock. His stomach was likely sensitive to due to being out on grass for that long, and he was in a big snit about being ‘abandoned’ in the pasture the next morning too.

Soooooooo that was why. SIGH! I had to text my counselor to cancel. Just too many things going on (see below also…).

No harm no foul, but sheesh I almost had heart failure after my friend’s TWO colic episodes last week…On a hair trigger.

OH and the best part? My hot water heater also died this weekend, so we enjoyed some cold showers and then it got replaced yesterday, a cool 4 hours of that happening and we got to kiss about $2k goodbyeeeeeeeee…FML.

And when I took my dog to the beach, there was a naked guy swimming. UGH.

I hate weekends sometimes. Jesus GOD.

 

My own personal pain journal

So, things are going but also going sideways, haywire, etc. My work is nuts (I am directly involved in public information), and also we are seeing a lot of things shake down, as part of the pandemic.

It’s so stressful- for all. I am not a frontline worker, but I see the effects of this day by day. I am writing a list of fun things I want to do when this blows over/winds down (go travel, go out for a team breakfast! Run! Do a race!), but in the meantime, I vacillate between extreme self-pity,  fear and paranoia, to ‘it’s all okay’. UGH.

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Welcome darkness, my old friend… I REALLY don’t want to do this again. But I might. I guess when you’re going through hell, keep going. 

I also have a recurring stress fracture, so I can’t even run right now. Man, when it rains, it freaking pours eh? I guess the timing is (good? I disbelieve that word even as I write it) now that I can’t race anyways.

Just…Fuck me.

I did have a nice weekend though, believe it or not! I had a riding lesson on Saturday and Oats was great! He was my little superstar~ I rode on Sunday and let too much angst out, and I know I shouldn’t have. I am easily triggered right now, and I want to make it up to Oaty! He is being the best boy he knows how.

It was also like, gale-force windy this weekend, ALLLLLLL weekend. It finally lessened up on Sunday, so I rode and then my husband and I hiked up Mt. Finlayson. There I learned I am a huge chicken, and I was afraid of the steep, rocky bluff ascent. Yikes!

I refused to go back down that way (jesus, no.) in part because I was afraid of it, and also it was smoking busy! I didn’t feel comfortable hiking with so many people swarming around.

We went the long way down, got a bit turned around (thanks to the signs closing the one pathway that actually links back to the parking lot…sheesh), and then we made it home. And we shared a hotdog! Yum! 🙂

I then drank wine, sat in the sun with a blanket – yes it was still chilly- but the sun had some strength that day.

So where does that leave us? Uncertain. Out of my control- even my body is out of my control. My mind? Yeah, that’s gone too. I don’t know anymore. But I can ride, so I will do that now and just …Keep on.

To quote Charles Dickens:

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

Buy you some time

Well it’s officially ‘Snowpocalypse’ over here on the Island! White winter for sure. We have about a foot of snow in our neighbourhood by the water. I put my big treads on – the Saucony Peregrine shoes- and jogged to work today. It kind of sucked, it’s tiring to run in snow and while I made an effort to run in the street, it’s still a tough slog. Oh well, a good cardio workout 🙂

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Happier this year! 

I’m not sure if I will be able to make it out to the stables though- two days off and I start getting VERY itchy to go and see my dear pony! I know he is being taken care of and is safe though.

The critters are enjoying the snow- Tucker was playing in it yesterday! A marked difference from last year, when he sat angrily in the snow and it piled up on top of him, hahah.

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And I had one frightening incident (side note- why the DRAMA lately? jesus christ I am so OVER it). I was leading Oats up the hill to the stables, when the fellow rider in front of me who was leading her horse- the horse paused slightly and LASHED OUT her hind hoof in a huge kick. She kicked my coffee mug straight out of my hands and it went flying! The horse wears steel hind shoes too, so jesussss I got incredibly lucky. SO lucky that it wasn’t my hand that got broken, or my freaking face.

We both never saw it coming. That was the most chilling part. Usually you can read something happening by body language- they get spooked, antsy, angry or pissy. The horse looked chill, didn’t even raise her head and BOOM!! Kicked. I have been around horses for over 20 years and I have NEVER been kicked in my life. Until now, I guess? It scared the bejeezus out of both of us. The owner was really sorry- and it’s 100% not her fault, at all. It was just a really scary incident.

It was also a wake up call to me, to be very aware and careful with handling horses. When you are around them this much, you get complacent. Until something really serious happens, like Monday.

First the dog attack, and then getting kicked by a horse. World, please stop.

But did you die?

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Not promising.

Oh lord, I am going to stop tempting fate. I have seen a few dear colleagues, friends and family get pretty seriously injured recently doing benign things (walking to the bus, stubbing a toe on a cabinet, tripping over a tree root while out on a run…) and I thought I could escape it, until it was MY TURN! 😦

I was kind of in a deep well of self-pity last week. Work was absolute nuts, we have been going through a pretty big upheaval (and I do not handle change well), my birthday while fun, also kind of sucked because Oats was lame…Just, everything, you know?

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Getting cleaned up.

I should have known better.

I got too freaking cocky about my running, literally bragging to my friend about how I ‘never take rest days’…yeah, newsflash, bad idea…and I ended up with shin splints last week that really hurt, still do actually, but wait, there’s more!

I got my shin splints treated on Thursday, ok and then was running home along Dallas Rd, where there has been ongoing construction since I moved there (and I hate it. ugh) and I was keeping my eyes open for the construction, they had closed one road down and had a water truck parked on the side street, where I was running. And then…BOOM!

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This one is one of the slower to heal. 

I went FLYING. Like a cartoon character. While I saw the construction and the water truck, I didn’t see the hose coming from the water truck (small, grey) going directly across the road, from where I was coming off the sidewalk to cross the side-street. I saw an elderly man trip, and for a split second I wondered what he had tripped on…And then I was a goner.

I hit the ground hard, hands outstretched. I think that’s what saved my teeth, nose and chin. I slid on a patch of gravel for about a foot, and then landed with my face on curb. I was just stunned….Shocked, I leapt up. A construction worker ran over to me and was asking if I was ok, and I angrily yelled that I was. I wasn’t though. I was shocked, and stunned and hurt.

I was in shock and I staggered up, and started walking home. I briefly stopped to consider the free book library that I wound up next to, but realized that my hands were bleeding onto the ground, and I was hurt. I fished my phone out of my bag and left a crying voicemail for Ian to pick me up (I SO didn’t want to creep home, looking insane, covered in dirt and blood…) and a kind lady was walking ahead of me heard me, turned around, saw me and took pity on me.

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This one bled the most, and looked the worst. My shoulder is still not very good on this side. 

She escorted me to the seniors residence she was going to nearby, and I got washed up and called Ian again to pick me up. He got it this time and I luckily didn’t have to wait for too long.

I had a lot of scrapes, cuts and bruises, but it was kind of a miracle that nothing was broken, my nose, teeth and chin were all ok, fingers and wrists too. My shoulder still hurts quite a bit, and I don’t have great range of motion in it either. All my other cuts and bruises are healing. I had to take Friday off work because I was frankly in too much pain to be at work- I made it like 2 hours, and basically I got a tetanus shot, came home and cried for the rest of the afternoon. I had a lot of trouble with my hands- the open cuts made it very hard to grasp things. It was not a good day for me. I was in a very dark place.

But, things turn around. Saturday, I felt like 1 big headache. Everything hurt, ached terribly, BUT my scrapes were knitting together. It was just a big painkiller day for me, and I was walking gingerly. I really didn’t want anything to jostle my bad shoulder, and I needed Ian to help dry me off from the shower because the towel was sticking to my hand sores.

But by evening on Saturday, my sores already looked better. My friends were surprised I was healing so fast! So I am healing, and feeling better bit by bit, and I am back at work today. I still can’t use the gym (sore shoulder, and open sores still) as well as the ever-present shin splints, but I am hopeful that things should settle and improve even by tomorrow.

Le me be mine

No jump lesson this week, as my trainer wasn’t feeling well and had to cancel. Bummer! But oh well, I used this opportunity to tune up Oats, and again kind of wished I was riding with a friend or in a lesson- I let his kind of ‘blah’ reactions colour our ride, and I wasn’t super thrilled with my personal riding, OR how I was reacting. UGH! Why do I have to keep picking at him?

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Who doesn’t love a good Oats?

I know my counselor has mentioned that these weird perfectionist drives will still resurface for me, but I always think I’ve got it licked…And then it bubbles up and ruins my ride. I want a strong relationship with my horse- NOT an angsty one. So I can’t continue to ride like he owes me something–he doesn’t. He’s a horse, and I love our partnership.

I’m looking forward to my lesson tonight, just to regain some perspective under the watchful eye of my trainer (dressage tonight). I think it’s crucial that when we ride, we do so without emotions–and for some reason, I was feeling edgy and tense last night. Oh well, I have to move on from it, and understand that this CAN bubble up, but I can choose to not engage- like I unfortunately did yesterday.

Also a friend of mine got slammed through the x-tie boards yesterday, thanks to the horse she was leasing- he had a ‘moment’ ??? No idea what happened, but he violently swung his butt and basically pushed her straight through and she broke the board with her stomach. OUCH.

I checked in with her today and she is okay- no internal bleeding, just some impressive bruising. Jesus! Maybe that was why my ride went from ‘ok’ to ‘tense and angsty’…I know I am sensitive to accidents and have anxiety/fear about them. Yikes, it was just awful.

 

In trouble for good: Horse show recap!

It’s been a funny time- I have shown more dressage this past year than in my entire life, and you know what? I have been feeling VERY competent in it (mostly, ha). So when I had my first jumping show in a year, I kind of expected it to go, well? We attended the Cedar Vista Schooling Series jumper show, in the 2’3” match the clock jumper division.

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From a million years ago (2014 actually!). At the Appy Show series. Photo courtesy of Anne-Marie Sorvin.

Well, it went, that’s for sure. But it wasn’t the consistent, competent and thoughtfully-ridden show of my dressage shows past. I still felt very nervous and anxious, and I found it quite difficult to ‘connect’ in with my dear horse. That led to me ‘checking out’ for the first, oh, three jumps on course until we got to jump 4, and I was able to connect back and actually RIDE my pony. That led to some truly sloppy rails. SIGH! And some very backed-off fences.

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At the Appy Show series. Photo courtesy of Anne-Marie Sorvin.

Would I have preferred to click in for jump 1? YES! But was I at least glad I noticed I wasn’t checked in, and was able to do it for jump 4? Also YES! So, win some, lose some.

I’m going through a process here, and it is not as easy as I thought it would be.

Funny I don’t have this in dressage- jumping just has some ‘extra’ in it that leads to my brain hamsters falling off their wheels! I will have to work hard to manage it. I have some ideas to practice tomorrow in my jump lesson, so I am glad that I have a plan that I trust, to work towards.

Also, I had a really fantastic ride in the field the day before the show (Saturday) when I had my husband come and take a video of a small course of 9 fences I strung together. It was just so awesome, flowing, smooth, happy and positive. I wish all my rides could feel that nice! 🙂

Never Worked So Hard: Jump lesson update~

Actually the title isn’t so true. I wasn’t working THAT hard, it just felt…difficult. I have admittedly been struggling a bit with my two-point, specifically the part of the jump where I fade out on approach and we grind to a slow halt. Ha.

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The face of a 32-year-old with her 17-year-old pony.

I am having trouble with the difference between ‘soft’ and ‘frozen’ rides….I want to be a soft rider, but still effective- not frozen in place. I want my arm to come up, use the crop to encourage Oats when I need it…Not spend most of the approach thinking about using my crop and then NOT doing it.

Ugh.

Arm paralysis? Mind paralysis?

This is something that I am going to have to work with my equine counselor about. I set up a session for the upcoming week unsure of what I needed, but knowing I needed something. Well now I know at least!

The lesson itself actually wasn’t bad- had some really fun moments and some good jumps, and the gridwork (which I was dreading) went quite well except for some very awkward bobbles, haha. No biggie.

It made me think- how lucky am I to have Oats, who I can ride one-handed, without hands and he won’t try to kill me. He is literally the safest pony to ride like this and jump too. So why do I have the hardest time?

Ah, well.

As I reflect on our relationship, and how much work it has taken me to get to this stage in our game, I see another horse/rider pair that are NOT working. And it scares me, because it has resulted in serious injury- more than a few times- for the rider. Don’t lie to yourself, because that’s when you get hurt. And this rider, despite more than a few quite serious wrecks, just isn’t getting the message and I fear for her safety.

You can’t tell someone a relationship is bad. They have to figure it out themselves. But what about when they seem bound and determined NOT to? Ugh.

Danger

I almost lost old Oats on Thursday.

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My car broke down (since fixed) so I had to cancel my usual jump lesson that I have on Thursdays. I also had my phone on silent so I didn’t hear it ringing with an emergency–Oats was choking and going into shock.

I still want to cry thinking about it. When I got into work on Friday morning, I had 23++ missed calls, voicemails and emergency Facebook notifications. I was TERRIFIED.

The good news is that he came out of it fine *he has bad cough now but he survived and that is what is important. The only thing. It seems like he had eaten something like a twig or blackberry bramble in the field, couldn’t swallow, came in to eat dinner and his dinner starting coming back up. He was panicking, couldn’t swallow and was coughing up phlegm.

He was shaking, trembling violently and sweating and breathing heavily. If this had happened and nobody noticed, he would have died. Luckily for Oats, his pasturemate’s owner saw something wrong with him and saved his life by calling the vet. He was intubated and the blockage was pushed through. He was in severe shock though, and that took a lot longer to come out of.

My god. I was horrified that the ONE day I am not at the barn this happens and they couldn’t get hold of me. My god. I was crying at work, saying I can’t deal with this again. My work understands, so they let me leave as soon as my car was back from the shop so I could go and see Oats.

I zipped off asap and he was back to his old self *(with a terrible cough).

I am not ready to live my life without Oats.

 

Here’s to being here

Dressage lesson on Tuesday and it went quite well actually. I have noticing Oats being a bit more stiff in recent months, with no real turnout, so we discussed that and a few approaches to it. That also led to our lesson being focused on teaching the horses to go to ‘long and low’ while still moving out into the bridle.

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Mr. Oats, dressage superstar

Oats did struggle with that, he shifts between wanting to snatch at the bridle and root, or raising his head up. We definitely had a few things to work out, that’s for sure! He was quite sweaty after, with white foam on his neck–we had a GREAT warmup this week, with temperatures reaching 12 deg?! And remember last week at -9? I was frozen? Yes it feels like another country right now 🙂

Wednesday I took off for both of us, as our jump lesson has now moved to…Thursday!

I used to always ride on Thursday, so it felt more normal to join the Thursday night jump crew. We worked on another grid (where I knew what I was supposed to be doing and yet couldn’t seem to make my body, you know, DO it..) My hands pulled up, instead of releasing down -shoot- and my traitor legs shot backwards. We also had one totally blasted turn that I made that Oats slipped, his legs went out from under him and he scrambled to recover. SHIT!

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2 steps forward, 1 step back.

I definitely was feeling it, this weird rusty, ‘out of practice’ feeling when I was jumping. Which is odd, since I haven’t really taken a lot of time off from it? Maybe from coursework? Or maybe the bitter cold took more out of me than I thought.

We worked on the grid, and then to a small course w/tiny little jumps. It was funny, I felt anxious again and declared I was NOT going to do it again! (not sure why I do this, it’s definitely anxiety-related and it happens when I feel a bit shakier or tired), but Nicole just laughed, let me walk it off for a few minutes, and then I was ready to go again! Hahahah.

So yes, I squashed that ‘fear’ part of me, breathed, calmed down, and went and rode the entire course w/the grid again. And you know what? It wasn’t perfect but it went perfectly fine. Sure, I was feeling wobbly and a bit unbalanced but you know what? I did it anyways! Go me!

So to sum up- Oats was great, very forgiving. It wasn’t perfect and sure didn’t ride lovely, but I conquered by fear and decided to do it again and it was totally ok. Baby steps.

My motivation is tomorrow: Lesson recap!

Another jump lesson last night, and Oats was moving really nicely. He was a bit sluggish at the start, and our left-lead canter warming up was…less than enthusiastic, but I chalked that up to him being a bit stiff in the warm-up and we kept it slow and easy until he felt a bit better.

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Gidget doing her best ‘I am a poor orphaned puppy’ face…While hiding out in my laundry basket!!

Then we moved on to a small gymnastic, trot-in, one-stride to a vertical and two (VERY) short strides to a vertical. It was funny, my trainer is like, the first one is a short one but the two-stride? It should be riding better than it is, why do I have to keep moving it in??? Oh well, I guess that was what we were working with yesterday…A very short two-strides it is!

Oats was not in the mood to reach. At all.

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Moving on up, with grids! (This is an old pic from last year, good to see how they don’t scare me as much anymore.)

We worked through the grid, focused on correcting Oats’ severe right drift (and I fixed it, yess) and me bringing my shoulders back without pulling back on the reins on landing- not quite as successful.

The grid went up to 2’6”? I guess? And then we added in a small course, starting with the grid, to a trot fence (ha, Oats was so confused), to a small oxer, to a vertical, and back to the trot fence with a halt on the diagonal.

We did kind of fumble the oxer, he seemed surprised and stuttered on the approach, so we re-approached and nailed it!!! The vertical was similarly clumsy…Ah, well. The trot fences went great, though Oats was surprised to be trotting, haha.

The grid was awesome too.

I only did the course once- a part of me really wanted to do it again, but the more chicken part of me didn’t. And that part kind of won out…Small battles, I will try again next week and I will persevere! As it is, I do feel that my confidence, though very slow and incremental, is growing. My jump lessons are doing tiny jumps- nothing higher than 2’6” in a grid- but they are very smooth, very good and not so rocky. So, I am calling that a win!

I’m not quite feeling that ‘heart pounding, dread’ feeling that I normally get while riding, and I am able to be much more proactive about my body while I jump (shoulders tall, using my crop!! correcting straightness and pace instead of feeling helpless, like a passenger).

Plus, I typically HATE gridwork, with a burning passion, and guess what? I am not hating it right now (this may change next week but I am on an upwards trend for now).

Go Oats!