Well all, it has been a fun challenge for me to put on this year. I’m passionate about volunteering and I try to fit it in when possible between work and motherhood. I feel like a broken record, but honestly these events can’t go on without the feet on the ground lending a hand instead of mounting up.
I want to thank everyone who got out there and helped even for a single hour this year. Events are hard to put on and it always makes me sad when I see posts begging for volunteers. Of course, there is always a flip side to that and I have worked in adverse conditions with an ungrateful crew a time or two and that puts a bad taste in one’s mouth for the entire affair. Fortunately my own positive experiences outweigh the bad and it seems like that was true for all of you this year as well.
It is the last call for hours for the challenge. I have Emma with hours in December. Anyone else?
Next week I will put together that stats that I have and announce the Champion and Reserve Champion as well as their prizes. I hope those who participated enjoyed it and that everyone who won something along the way have gotten some use out of their prizes.
Work with the elderly and you are bound to get a lot of life advice, asked for or not. Some relationship related, others about life in general. I chose this patient population because I enjoy talking with those who most people don’t make time for. The life stories from a different era are fascinating.
Over the years I’ve heard a lot of stories, some sad, most funny and I have received a lot of advice. There is one piece of advice that keeps coming up from both those who fell ill at a young age and those who remain vital even into their 9th decade on this planet.
Do the things you want to in life while you are young and healthy enough to do them. Don’t wait or some day you’ll wake up and realize you can’t do it anymore.
I’d heard this advice a few times before it really sunk in. One of my favorite patients is a small, elderly Scotsman. Every visit he would tell me how he was working towards the one thing he wanted the most: to fly home to Scotland one last time. He was afraid too though due to an incident in the airport on a prior trip elsewhere. Everybody told him he was ready and able to travel. His family plotted a way to make the trip easier on him. He hemmed and hawed and put it off.
And then, just as he was ready to book his flight, he suffered a massive stroke and lost the use of the left side of his body.
His dream of flying to Scotland one last time was over. He waited too long.
I still see him every three months and I still look forward to talking with him, but his visits now have an aura of sadness about them. A finality.
Things happen and dreams falter and fizz out.
Don’t wait. Time won’t slow down. The world won’t pause for you. Someday you’ll wake up and realize you can’t do the one thing you really wanted to do.
For the last five years I have done one thing: work. Fifty hours a week, 52 weeks a year. I’ve taken one stay at home vacation. I’m on call 24 hours a day, 363 days a year taking only Wyatt’s birthday and Christmas Day off and even that makes me feel guilty. I work because the work needs done. I work because I’ve always worked. I got my first job at 16, worked through undergrad and even had a part time job in medical school.
But I’m learning the work can wait. The world will go on. Patients will still be there.
My one goal for 2019 is to live. Simply live. Do the things. Make the memories. Have the experiences.
To let myself live without guilt, judgement, fear.
To go to a show even if not fully prepared and enjoy the simple fact that I can go. What’s the worst that can happen? We knock every rail down or refuse three times and get eliminated? Big deal. Do the thing.
To stare at the sky, a mountain, the ocean, a forest more and the computer screen less.
To stop being mean to myself. I try so hard to always be a cheerleader for everyone. To boost others up. To push them towards their goals. Yet I then turn around and tell myself I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not skilled enough.
To embrace the life I have knowing full well what the end can look like and how quickly it comes up. How one moment can deprive you of everything.
So in 2019 I’m going to live more, work less. Go for it even if it may be ugly. Jump the jumps. Ride the trails. Take time off to be silly with Wyatt, to explore the world, to plant a garden.
If you celebrate, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I was thankful for some time off work to be with family. I also ate entirely too much but I declared it a guilt free day and allowed myself to indulge. And indulge I did!!
I also took this entire week off, minus Friday which is my surgery day and is booked full for me, to stay home and enjoy Wyatt time. Nothing beats being with my buddy.
Monday was all planned out for a trail ride to break the monotony of flat work in the swampy arena. It is too wet for me to feel comfortable jumping though I do miss it and hope to get some jump time in soon. With rain in the forecast the end of the week, it may not happen until spring. Or I find a covered arena with a trainer who will respond to me.
But then Dusty got home super late after removing plastic from a Boykin’s stomach and it ruined my chance. It was back to the arena and neither of us were too thrilled with it.
I set up the first exercise from the Jumping book: two parallel ground poles set to be ridden between as a focus for circle work. The goals: symmetry, geometry, rhythm, bend.
H’Appy was being a puppy on a string through the entire tacking process. He never pawed, ate the cross ties or tried to eat me. It was his best behavior to date and I felt good enough about him to forgo lunge work before mounting.
It was a good choice. He was calm, never put a hoof wrong and listened the entire ride.
He was also pokey, behind my leg and doing his best to get away with a western pleasure shuffle instead of an actual trot. My legs were screaming at me by the end of the ride. I may need to buy a crop for days like that if they continue but for now I’m happy to have a horse who wasn’t bucking, trying to run off or fling his head into the next county.
The exercise went pretty well as far as the goals were defined. He was rhythmic, had bend when I asked properly and stayed on the circle I created. I really need to unlock my upper body and remember to look around the circle and plan better but that will come.
I was smiling the entire time and laughed at his attempts to get out of work by sucking back. It was such a good feeling to trust he wasn’t going to do anything stupid and be able to correct him and it not turn into a fight. We will likely have rides like that again, but he is starting to come back around.
I eventually grew bored of the circles and became a rebel by creating figure eights, going over the poles and going around them to not include them at all. Variation is the spice of life and all that.
At the end I decided to give the canter buttons a try. I haven’t purposefully worked on the canter in a while and was thinking maybe some canter work would spice him up. I was wrong. He remained pokey the pony.
He did give me prompt canter transitions though. They were hollow and head up since the trot was sucked back and behind my leg but he was prompt and didn’t try to run off with me so it was a win for the moment.
The entire ride was exhausting and way too much work but it was also a ton of fun. Someday we will reach a good balance of energy levels. For now I’m thrilled to be enjoying him and getting to work once again. If it ever dries out I’m dying to get some time over sticks again and to continue to build his fitness so that come spring we can get some solid work in and maybe hit up a show.
It should surprise no one who reads this blog that I don’t like to spend money. I don’t have collections of nick knacks and have just enough clothing/shoes to not be naked on the regular.
When I do buy something, I tend to buy quality which generally translates to expensive. This seems counter to the whole “I don’t like spending money” statement, but in reality it makes sense because buying quality equals longevity and cheaper in the long run. It’s why I’m still wearing clothes I bought when first out of college 14 years ago that aren’t ratty and full of holes.
Having champagne taste and a deeply ingrained hatred to part with my money makes the entire shopping experience rather amusing for others and exhausting for me.
Until now. Now I have an outlet for my shopping needs that satisfies my lust for expensive goods while keeping a healthy chunk of my money safely in the bank. I think I’m addicted. I may need an intervention.
Maybe I shouldn’t even pass this little secret on. It could be damaging to others. But what type of person would I be if I didn’t spread the word a little?
So what is this new shopping experience that has my blood roaring through my arteries, my cheeks flushing with excitement?
Model home auctions.
Hear me out. Or don’t. It’s your loss in the end.
You know all those new, cheaply built neighborhoods that are spreading across what was once rural America like a parasite? The ones that level old fields, clog two lane roads and pave the earth? That destroy trail systems and cross country courses?
Yeah. I hate them too.
Once all the lots are sold, the model home goes up for sale. This is the home typically at the entrance to the neighborhood that is built and decorated like someone is already living in it to entice prospective buyers into picturing their own family filling the rooms. They are decorated like in a magazine with paintings on every wall surface, knick knacks on any available flat surface and each room chalk full of gorgeous high end furniture.
This home is the last to go and once it is sold…well all those decorations and furniture items need to go too. They do this via auction.
Here are the rules:
Everything must sell. It doesn’t matter how low it goes. It must and it will sell
You have to take it home right then so if you are looking for big furniture items, make sure you have a truck or trailer
If you bid and win, you buy. Your bid is a legally binding contract to buy. No excuses. No exception.
Pay attention because some items are sold in a big lot for one price and others are sold together but with a “per piece” bid. Example: two mirrors are sold together for the winning bid of $100. Two chairs are sold together with a x2 multiplayer so the winning bid of $100 is really $200. An expensive mistake if you aren’t paying attention.
Ok, Sara. That’s all good but how does this play into your hatred to spend money?
Ah, friends. This is where it gets good.
I went to an auction the Saturday with my mum and dad. There was a nice dining room table and matching buffet and I’ve been looking for a new table for over a year to no avail. Nothing has been worth the money. These were very nice and went for a good price, but not to me. The bid topped out well over what I wanted to pay which for reference was like $150. Yeah, I’m cheap.
My mum and dad were a bit frustrated with me when I’d pass on something very nice for $40 because I refused to spend over $15 for it. I think I nearly caused my mom to have a stroke a few times. But I didn’t walk away empty handed. Oh no. I got one hell of a deal on what I held out for and now I am addicted to this process.
The first item I bid on was a bit of a ridiculously large table lamp. It’s covered in a burlap sack and will look good with the farm house decor in my living room. I was the only one to bid and got it for $20.
Any guesses how much this runs online? Keep in mind everything is brand new. This was a non lived in home.
Yup, I got my lamp for $210 off. Google it yourselves if you think I’m lying. It’s on overstock right now.
And that folks is just the beginning.
I lost out on some beautiful mirrors that would have matched gorgeously but it was a x2 multiplier and went higher than I was willing to go. Then I lost out on a few other items that started higher than I wanted and I never even made a bid.
What I really wanted was the dresser and nightstand they had in a spare room. My own bedroom set is a mish mash of furniture from my great grandma and my brother’s hand me down, so all older than I am and not in a cool antique way.
I ended up winning the bid on both. The nightstand for $50 and the dresser for a somewhat gut wrenching $210.
Guesses as to their MSRP?
$350 and $1,400 respectively.
Yup. I got a $1,400 brand new, name brand, solid white oak dresser without a single blemish for $210!!!
I then lost on a gorgeous horse painting but won the two bird prints for $10. No clue what they would cost, probably around $40-50 at Hobby Lobby or such store.
In the end I came home with 5 high end items for a total of $290 and a value of just over $2,000 to buy the same stuff, in the same condition (brand new) online that same day.
Yeah….I’m an addict now. If anyone is in need of new home decor or a gift for someone else, check out your area for model home auctions. My town is growing at a heart breaking rate, so there are auctions almost monthly. You bet I’ll be at the next one. This satisfies my need for high end purchases at bargain prices and my house is looking nicer already.
Wyatt has been really sick all week. Fevers getting to 103F sick. Missing school sick. It means a lot of sleepless nights and worry and extra snuggles on the couch.
It also means that for the first time in five years I called off sick to work on Tuesday. Calling in sick is really difficult when your work is based on patient care and you have a schedule booked until the middle of next month. I ended up blocking off the morning Tuesday and then opening my much looked forward to Friday off (I refuse to do surgery the Friday before Christmas to avoid an onslaught of calls over the holiday) so that I was still seeing people in a timely manner. Maybe I really am a work a holic.
Lots of snuggle time for a typically very active boy
I had ridden him Sunday with plans to ride again Monday evening, but see above about sick child. Tuesday morning was free though and while Wyatt played a computer game snuggled in a blanket, I snuck outside and grabbed H’Appy.
This time things were a bit reversed with him.
While I was tacking him up, he started getting really antsy in the cross ties. This continued to escalate until he began rearing. Seriously this horse doesn’t need a new bad habit. I went exploring to see what on earth he was so upset about and found the answer pretty quickly. Pete was hanging out by the pasture gate staring inside the barn.
His new memory foam lined girth is in the middle. I will review this once I’v had some more rides on it. I have two useless girths now to figure out what to do with
Having never had a horse so darn attached to other horses before I’m at a bit of a loss how to deal with him. I thought a minute. While I didn’t want to reward him by letting him off the ties, I didn’t need a rearing asshat in my barn aisle either.
I decided to snap the lunge line on him and make him work. This meant the ultimate insult: walking him through the same gate Pete was at, through their pasture and then into the arena all without getting to stop and be with the horse he was so antsy about seeing. He surprised me by following me in with barely a head shake in protest and behaved well on the line.
Once I was done with that, we walked back through that same pasture past Pete and Gem, into the barn, back in the cross ties and then proceeded to finish tacking up and repeating the walk back to the arena to ride.
Doofus will learn to be a real horse.
I’ll just ignore this corner with all the other girths I have. For someone who doesn’t collect tack, and only has two saddle pads, I have apparently collected a mass of girths.
The ride itself had little to write about which is a major win since it’s been over a month since I last wrote that. He waited patiently to be mounted, dealt with my routine of shifting my seat around/getting into two point to stretch my legs down/fidgeting with the reins and moved off sharply when asked.
I worked him mostly in the trot to reinforce what we did Sunday and he was a bit pokey and needing encouragement but was otherwise easy going. He asked to canter only a few times and came back to trot after only 1-2 strides which was a 95% improvement from two days prior. And even though he wasn’t as “barrel horse prospect” like, his trot remained in front of my leg and responsive.
This is where I get a little confused on what to do. I want to reward him for being well behaved under saddle and for H’Appy the best reward is stopping work. Ok. I understand that. On Sunday that translated into an hour under saddle before he listened well enough to call it a day.
Since I have no medial from Tuesday, you get life updates. We took Wyatt to a hockey game and now he is asking to be on a hockey team. Which makes sense since it is the most expensive sport he could have chosen. Sigh.
Tuesday he gave me what I wanted immediately and so after about 15-20 minutes I gave him his pats and got off. He wasn’t tired and didn’t break a sweat but it seemed the right time to stop to reinforce that being good is easier than being naughty.
My issue is that all summer I did just that and kept the saddle time short when he listened and I think it led to a very angry H’Appy when I did lengthen the rides and introduce some extra work. He is super smart and while that plays in my favor for training, it is hard when he figures he knows what is up and it changes on him. I want him to know that work can and will mean longer, more difficult rides mixed in with easier days.
The biggest thing I am trying to figure out is how much pressure this dude can take and how often. I already know how he reacts when he feels over faced and I don’t particularly want to repeat that again, but I also don’t feel like being stuck at w/t for the rest of my days trying to prevent an argument either.
A rare photo of the two of us
Of course, it is raining again so I won’t be testing out some theories I have brewing in my mind until the weekend and who knows which horse I will have under me come then. One thing I do want to return to is the 101 Jumping Exercises book. I think I made it to exercise 7 before I retired Gem and we never got to the actual jumping part of the book, but the ground pole work was really helpful in keeping the session physically low key (most were done at the walk and trot up to that point) while still giving us both something to focus on and working the brain.
I know hacking is an option, but right now I have no interest in hacking out in the pasture with Gem and Pete. It took me years to be able to ride Gem with Pete loose in the field and she was never attached to him at all. If I try this, I fully believe it is setting H’Appy up for failure and right now building trust in the partnership is more important than lengthening my ride times.
So we will see how this goes. For now I am thrilled to have a mostly willing partner back under me with his evasions and threats bottled back inside and I am really looking forward to playing around with him and testing some things out.
After weeks of snow, sleet, ice, and rain Sunday dawned gorgeous with a high of 60F, blue skies and warm sunshine. I had picked up the new saddle Saturday morning and there was no way I wasn’t going to take it for a spin.
H’Appy was unusually calm walking in from the pasture and getting groomed. I tried to time the ride to happen right before his typical mid morning nap and I thought maybe the early morning warmth had taken the edge off of him. Yeah – I was very wrong.
The saddle fit just like the consignment one and he once again stood perfectly still with nary an evil eye or gnashing of teeth as I did up the anatomic, memory foam line girth. After struggling with the stiff, new billets for a while, I had him tacked up and ready to go get his work on.
He was gain calm as I walked him to the arena, but that cool exterior dissolved as I fumbled with the half broken arena gate. He squealed. He tried to pull away and run back to the Dynamic Duo. He was in general a Big Orange PITA. I made the smart decision to throw him on the lunge line first, you know to avoid death and all that, and he was visibly vibrating as I hooked the lunge to his bit and twisted the reins through the throat latch.
The moment I stepped away he exploded. He took off at an amazing gallop, digging into the soft arena footing more and more as he tried to pick up as much speed as he possibly could. His tail was flagged higher than I’ve ever seen even my Gemmie do in all her Arabian glory. He was bucking. But you know what? He stayed out on a perfect lunging circle, kept his inside bend never once put any pressure on the line, and kept an ear on me. So while yes, he wasn’t really actually behaving very well, he was being as polite as possible about his out burst.
Eventually he settled, and I began asking for transition w/t/c and when he was finally not finding every excuse possible to go cantering off, I switched directions and we began again although much more sedately. We were just about done on the lunge line, when he decided dragging his nose in the dirt was a good idea. He nearly kicked himself in the chin several times and then eventually managed to snag his reins and break the throat latch which, while annoying, is better than breaking himself or the reins sine I could still ride.
At that point I brought him in and walked over to the mounting block where he proceeded to stand perfectly still while I checked his girth, tightened it a hole, and mounted. In fact, he remained perfectly still until I asked him to walk on. Bonus points for him being a good boy.
From there I knew he really didn’t need much of a warm up. I mean, technically he probably could have used a cool down he was breathing so hard already, but I wanted to test out his attitude under saddle at the walk before moving on. I asked him to walk on, making sure I concentrated on my position and keeping his body between my aides. I let out several deep, slow breaths to try to erase any tension and got working on a large, full arena figure 8. He was listening pretty good, but I could tell he was feeling pretty ADD and needed things changed up frequently, so I began working on square turns as I made a serpentine down the arena trying to fit in as many turns and straight lines as possible.
Big Man did pretty good. He had a very strong pull towards the gate where Gem and Pete had wandered over and were standing judging us with heads hung over the gate, but I gave him extra praise for keeping his crap together and not throwing a tantrum when we turned away from them.
He was relaxed enough and doing his best to listen. I love watching his ear swivel back to check in with me. When we went to trot, it fell apart a little but honestly he kept it together way better than I anticipated he would. He offered to canter and it took longer than I would have liked to convinced him that I did in fact mean to trot, but he didn’t pull any bucks, head shaking or curling behind the bit maneuvers so I considered it a win. On my part, I really made sure that I sat tall, slowed my posting and relaxed my arms. I have the bad habit of asking for the trot and then shutting it down with my arms being too tense and I didn’t want to continue to make that mistake.
Once he gave me an actual trot circle without breaking to canter or halting, I gave him a walk break wherein I praised the crap out of him before picking it back up the other direction. He wasn’t too thrilled with going back to work but eventually he got the memo that trotting was the easiest answer and we called it a day after nearly an hour of saddle time. He was really tired that night for dinner, barely keeping his eyes open to eat and even chose to forgo his typical 5 minute post meal wood chewing.
For being the first actual ride in 40 days (last ride that wasn’t a saddle fitting session was 11/6/18), he behaved better than I had hoped and while it wasn’t a super fun ride, I felt like we actually accomplished a few things: staying straight, focusing on me even with your BFF at the gate, trotting really does mean trot and not canter or tranter.
I’ll write about the saddle in a future post after I’ve had a few rides in it so I can give it a proper review, but for now I’ll just say that it fits us both really well, is super comfy and that Luxe leather upgrade was worth every penny.
Oh man, I’ve been avoiding this topic too. I can’t seem to find a way to forgive myself. So many things went wrong the day I ran her over with the tractor and bush hog. Wyatt and the dogs were supposed to be inside while I mowed and Dusty worked on fences. I’m pretty paranoid when it comes to the tractor as it is so hard to see everything when on it and I’m so focused on the path I am mowing.
As I was turning to go up the hill, I saw Wyatt out of the corner of my end and immediately slammed the tractor and bush hog off. He came running over to ask a question and the dogs came with him. Hey had left the house when he did and followed him into the pasture. Before I knew it all three of them were crawling onto the tractor and I yelled at them to get off. I agreed to drive Wyatt back down the hill to the gate and then he had to go inside or with his dad. I switched the tractor back on, thankfully leaving the bush hog off or this would be a very different story, and pulled slowly forward gripping him tight around his waist in fear he would fall off. Waggy had apparently stayed by the tire and she was run over by the back tractor tire and then trapped under the bush hog.
It was a scary bad day.
We knew immediately that she had broken her back left leg and took her to Dusty’s clinic for radiographs and to make sure that she didn’t have any additional trauma we were not aware of. Turns out she had a comminuted fracture to the femur and Dusty had her into the orthopedic surgeon the next day for surgery where she received a plate, pin and circlage wire. She left with instructions to remain on cage rest with assisted walking for bathroom breaks for 6 weeks.
The issue was that even after the repair she still wasn’t bearing any weight to the leg which is atypical. Dusty began working on PT stretching and ROM exercises as instructed but something wasn’t right. Then a week after surgery, Waggy became even more painful than prior and a new radiograph confirmed our fear: the intramedullary pin had backed out and was causing soft tissue injury with ROM of the hip. The surgeon couldn’t get her in for two weeks, which was pretty unacceptable, so Dusty removed the pin himself. Waggy was immediately improved with the pin removed and no longer cried out in agony with any little movement.
However, she still refused to bear any weight on the leg and when Dusty tested her sensation she did not react to any stimulus below the knee. He took her to a neurologist to confirm what we now already knew: the sciatic nerve was damaged. Whether it was from the accident or that pin, we don;t know and it hardly matters anyway. The neurologist was optimistic the nerve would heal given enough time and so Waggy went back to the clinic to remain on cage rest.
Dusty brought her back home 12 weeks post injury. The bones were healed and there wasn’t any improvement to be gleaned from being in a cage any longer. The nerve at that point had improved to the just above her ankle level which was a quicker recovery than expected. The biggest issue is that she walks on the top of her foot, dragging ti against the ground as she has no proprioception to tell her to correct and and even if she did the muscles required to correct it aren’t getting any signals to function.
This has created a bit of a cycle of trauma to the foot. If left open, she rubs the skin raw and the nails off which bleeds and gets infected. If we keep it bandaged up, she gets a yeast infection and toes get raw. We have tried two different braces to hold the foot in the correct posture and allow for weight bearing to occur on the pads, but the force they exert on the leg to do so creates large pressure sores and then we are back to treating open wounds all over again.
Her current status is bandaged and dragging the foot. This is a nightmare in this wet weather as the bandage can’t get wet so every time she goes out she gets the foot stuffed into a plastic bag. In case anyone else ever has to do this, the heavy duty IV fluid bags work really well and last the longest.
We are giving her as much time as we can to declare what she needs. Amputation? Maybe. I know lots of dogs can handle being three legged and losing a back leg on a big dog is better than a front, but her right hip isn’t good. Its been bad since we brought her home, but radiogrpahs always come back clean. She limps on the right after long exertions and we have known from the time she was 6 months old that that hip would be her downfall in old age. Losing the left leg would be devastating to the right and would significantly shorten her life. I’ve researched dog prosthetics and while they are made, the literature isn’t good on them. They don’t work as well as in humans.
For the moment she will remain with all legs attached, but the time for regeneration is ticking away and we haven’t seen any improvement since the initial jump from the knee to ankle. The neurologist gave it 12-16 months for full regeneration and I am fine with waiting as long as we keep infection at bay, wounds to a minimum, and a happy dog throughout. Waggy has remained her loving, happy, friendly self through it all which makes it even worse that this was inflicted by the human who was supposed to protect her and provide her care. She isn’t holding a grudge although she does refuse to enter the pasture since the accident.
Time will tell and we are constantly re evaluating what is best for her long term. She is only 1 1/2 years old and still a pup.