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Uh….Yeah….No

Last night was gorgeous. It had poured rain all day Tuesday but yesterday the sun was back out and there was a cool breeze. I ignored the fact that the saturated earth plus blazing hot sun made the humidity sky rocket and the world turn into a sauna. It’s late August in SC. It’s just the way it is right now.

I really wanted M to try Gem out. She hadn’t matched well with Eeyore and I see no point in making either of them struggle through that. Not when Eeyore and I are starting to finally click and M will be leaving in June. If she was a permanent member of the family, maybe. Gem is a much different ride than Eeyore and she needs the exercise anyway. Plus this way we wouldn’t be sharing and could ride together versus one then the other.

M requested that I hop on Gem first. I’m not sure she trusts my descriptions of my horses after her experience with Eeyore. As soon as I got on Gem, it felt both familiar and foreign at the same time. My butt knew her so well but it had been 15 months since I last climbed on her and a lot has changed in that time. My first thought was “have you always been this narrow?! I can nearly touch my feet together under you” which was quickly followed by “awe look at those beautiful black tipped ears” and then by “ah yeah. now I remember. screw this crap. I want Eeyore back”.

Still love this mare

We did some walk and trot work. I didn’t bother to canter her. Once you let Gem canter it’s over. That’s all she will do from then on out and after sitting in the pasture for 15 months I wasn’t really wanting to school her all that much. This was a test ride to see if M and Gem would be a good match or not. Though honestly I pretty much knew the answer going in. You have to try though, right?

It’s probably a difference in riding technique across the pond. M rides well, her hands are quiet and her position steady and solid. The thing that keeps biting her is that all her aides are very strong. There is no whispering. She clamps with her legs and gets very heavy with her hands. I’m not criticizing her, but it is the reason that every horse I’ve seen her ride gets tense and goes flying off in a canter when all she wanted was a trot. Or trots when she wants to walk. Or backs up when she wants to halt.

Everything is very loud and heavy. Eeyore isn’t that sensitive of a horse and even he got wild and wooly under her. Gem is a very sensitive horse. After nearly a decade with her, all I had to do was think trot and she would. She needs a whisper. When M was yelling at her with her aides, things got out of hand. Nothing scary mind you. Gem is incredibly safe, but she did hollow, get a giraffe head and canter around on the forehand. That’s not very fun to ride.

Not sure who is more tense here. M or Gem. I’ve been there and done that.

All this to say that it wasn’t a good match. She mostly walked and tried a few trot transitions but that turned into a canter and that scared M. I assured her that if she just let go with the reins a bit, gave Gem the ability to move forward in the trot after she asked, she would settle and trot nicely but it was a no go. That subtly wasn’t going to happen.

I felt bad. I wished I had a beginner friendly, easy horse for her to ride. A horse who won’t do more than is absolutely required. I know she desperately wants to ride here. I know she was really looking forward to that and it is falling apart for her. But I don’t know what else I can do really. Her style of riding isn’t a good match for the style of horse I’m attracted to and hence have at my farm.

I was texting with Bette and she may have come up with a solution for us. She works at a summer camp and those horses need a home for the fall and winter. Generally they go out on a care lease type situation. I believe pretty much all the favorites have been spoken for but there is one gelding left who might fit the bill.

Wyatt caught a toad

He is a senior Arab with a sway back, a good brain and a heart of gold apparently. He can w/t/c, hit the trails and do small jumps. All things M wants to do. He has given kids lessons and takes a lot of leg to go which sounds just about perfect for M. I’m not excited about another horse on the property, but if it does work out then I’m goinG to put the extra work on M. If she wants a horse of her own to ride, she is old enough to do the chores required to have said horse.

I’ve reached out to the lady in charge of this and I am waiting on a reply. If it pans out, we can sneak up on this three day weekend to try him out and see how it goes. There is an apple festival going on near where he is, so we can also hit that up and get some apple cider slushees and apple cider donuts while there. Maybe go back the next day and pick him up. He’d need to go back to camp come May and she leaves in June so the timing is almost perfect. We will see how it goes but I do think that if he doesn’t work out, her days of riding with me are probably over as I don’t think her on Gem on trail in the open is a good idea anymore. I’d worry that I wouldn’t see them ever again and that they would be found in the next county or even state.

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Cliche and I Don’t Care

After dealing with the mess that has become my barn, Sunday night I only had one thought: I want…nay….I need to ride my horse.

It was already past dusk and growing darker by the minute but I didn’t care. It didn’t even dawn on me to worry about Eeyore in the dark. It maybe should have. I haven’t ridden him in the dark since last winter, but I didn’t care. I needed that ride.

I walked out to the pasture in the fading light and, like he always does, the moment Eeyore saw me he came walking over with his ever optimistic look on his face. I slid the halter on and told him about my stress. Told him I needed him. Told him we were just going to have fun, no agenda, no plans.

He walked quietly to the barn where he proceeded to stand perfectly still in the crossfires surrounded by roofing trash and looking out into the night. Then we walked through the night into the lit arena.

What proceeded next was magical. It’s the reason we ride really, isn’t it? Those moments when you forget all your troubles, the world melts away and it’s only you and the horse beneath you.

We danced under those lights Sunday night. His walk was free and swinging. His trot was forward without being rushed. His canter was smooth and easy. I hadn’t planned on accomplishing any real work but he felt so good that I took him into the 20m circle at the canter and he responded by collecting, lifting and slowing. It took my breath away.

In those moments under the lights surrounded by a black night, I felt more free than I’ve felt in years. Eeyore knee that I needed him that night. He knew my world was falling apart and I needed to feel something solid under me. He gave me everything he had and then some.

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Tear It All Down

Folks, my limit has been reached. Hold on tight as this is a bit of a long story.

When we bought this property nearly two years ago, we knew that it was going to take some effort and a bit of money to get it up to par with our own standards. The bones were all solid and good, but it had been neglected for almost a decade, hence how we could afford it. And I’ve been fine with that. The pastures are all looking great these days, I love the new fence line arrangements, and the arena is a real arena now. There is something to say for sweat equity and the satisfaction of renovating on your own.

The barn though. Man that barn. Its old, run down and in need of some work. Again though, we have been willing to slowly tackle the projects and plan for a good 5 year remodel project as we slowly renew and renovate. The biggest project that needed to be completed was the roof. It leaked. Big time. Not tiny little dots here and there. Oh no. This roof leaked enough to require half a dozen buckets all around the barn to collect it and was causing rotten boards and bad electrical outlets. In order to move forward with any other project, we needed to get the barn roof replaced and I desperately wanted to get this done before the rains began this fall and winter.

A barn without a roof. This is the “old” section that has 11 stalls, the wash rack, feed room and old tack room that I do not use (empty room on the right)

Way back in February, we hired a contractor who had come to us highly recommended. My husband, bless him as the southern ladies say, is still stuck int he early 1900s where a man’s word and a handshake are all you need and he paid the man in full a lot of money. Guess what happened next? No roof, no contractor, and a lawsuit to try to get our large sum of money back that will likely go nowhere as I am sure the man snorted the money and has nothing to give us.

So now we were out over $10,000 and still had a leaky roof, rotten wood and bad electric outlets.

Time moved on, I forgave Dusty his naivete and we found a new contractor that came highly recommended and this time paid a small amount for supplies only. The supplies arrived last week, so at least we got what we paid for. The crew showed up on Thursday and began demolition of the old roof. I was a bit perturbed that they completed this and didn’t cover the now exposed barn with a tarp but put the thought aside. Until it poured all day Friday and now the interior of my barn was soaked through. At least it watered the dirt aisle and helped with the dust?

Rotten woods beams from long standing water leakage

They came back Saturday morning and this is when things started to go south. First, the crew came and left a dozen times in a span of 4 hours, each time racing up and down my driveway at at least 40 mph. I called the boss and told him that they were going to kill my son or dogs since I had no clue when they were coming and going and refused to be locked inside all day just in case. They could drive at a reasonable speed. Its a driveway, not a race course. And why did they need to keep coming and going like that? By the time Saturday afternoon rolled around, they had gotten exactly no work done, but had been on and off the property a lot.

We had been told the work would be completed by Saturday night. Nope. No where close.

I walked out to the barn to inspect the area Saturday afternoon and was furious at what I found. There was food container litter everywhere, plastic water bottles thrown in all corners, a empty cigarette pack in the middle of the barn aisle, and the worst yet: half a dozen beer bottle tops. Drinking on the job. Classy. I called the boss and complained, demanding everything to be cleaned up the next morning.

I’ve picked up 20 of these stupid sauce wrappers from all over the barn interior. Why??

Sunday came and the crew showed up, still racing down my driveway, but at least they got to work cleaning up their mess. I expected roof litter, some lost nails, etc…but not Chinese wrappers, to go containers and general litter. The crew worked hard all day Sunday, not stopped until dusk. They got half the roof placed. I was excited to go look at it as we had decided to add clear panels every 20′ to increase the natural light in the barn. Its a cave in there with no windows.

I entered the barn and looked up. My jaw dropped. The tin panel I was looking up at had 9 holes in it that I could see the sky through. The crew obviously had placed screws, realized they hadn’t hit the wood, removed them and put new ones in. My heart began to race, but I remained calm thinking it was only this one panel, it could be removed and replaced. Except the next panel had a hole, and the next one after that and the more I looked the more daylight I was seeing through my brand new roof.

This new roof was leakier than the old one.

Holes in the tin panels. Shoddy new wood boards that are somehow doubled up and look like Wyatt put them up.

I blew a gasket. I called the boss and told him he may as well just give me my money back and walk away. It would cost him more in the end to rip all this off, replace it and deal with me calling out every single minor flaw and demanding it to be fixed. I took pictures of everything and he is coming out after work tonight to discuss. He won’t enjoy the conversation.

Currently, as I type this, I have half a roof on my barn that has more holes than a 1920s mob car after a drive by shooting and half a barn with nothing over it. Tomorrow calls for all day rain.

Even if we get this sorted and a solid roof put on, we still need to fix the electricity, redo the siding, fix the stalls, figure out the barn aisle, remodel the tack and feed rooms, get a new to water tank, fix the toilet……etc…..etc……etc….This remodel project is going to cost more than a new barn would. Which led to my conversation with the Hubby this morning. Maybe it is time to bite the bullet and demolish this old barn and build a new, smaller one. I don’t need 16 stalls. I don’t need a barn office. I don’t need a bathroom. All I need is 6 stalls, a wash rack, a feed/tack room, and a place to store my hay. We could massively downsize and best of all…not have a leaking roof.

I did the only thing I could after that. I turned the arena lights on, tacked up my bud and went for a relaxing ride. He was foot perfect and gave me everything I needed. My heart swelled.

It is expensive though and I’m not sure we can swing it. I have a friend who works for a barn builder and sent her over my very rudimentary drawing of the barn I’d like and will see what she comes back with. I’m sure it will be more than we can do right now, but then I’m still left with a big dilemma. I have a non functional barn right now. The horses haven’t been in it since Thursday and are eating out in the pasture. We need to either sink more money into this sinking ship or bail on it and build new.

I’m stressed and at my breaking point with this project. That generally translates to rash and expensive decisions being made to just make the insanity end. We are about to celebrate our 15th anniversary and Dusty is spending it in California at a conference so……

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Horse Sharing

There are many people who flat out refuse to let anyone else ride their horse and I never fully understood this. If one ride by someone other than you or a professional will “break” all the training, then I don’t think that horse is all that well trained after all. Kinda like a rider being made better by riding multiple different horses, I sorta feel like a horse gets better by being able to be ridden by multiple riders.

Though maybe my opinion was based on always having riders who were better than me hop on my horse.

Gem was always up for grabs, not that many people took me up on my offer. Not sure why, HA! I had people take her on the trail and a few hop her around xc and I always loved watching someone else on her. I never once worried about the rider having a negative impact on her. Mostly I worried they would get hurt or get off and hate me for the experience. Gem was an interesting ride.

No relevant media so you get a cleaning out of my phone. Flowers during our trip to Ohio

With Eeyore…my mind set is shifting. I’m feeling a bit more protective of him and his training to date and finding that I’m not really wanting to share him so much. Which sucks because I sorta promised M I would. Again, where is that money tree so I can lease her a horse for the year?

I think that once she takes a few more lessons on him, I’ll feel better. Nothing bad has happened it’s just…ugh I don’t know. So here’s the thing.

Last night I wanted to ride and M asked if she could join me. Now the plan isn’t for me to lose my riding time each night but instead for her to ride him on the days I don’t up to a max 5 days a week. But for now it’s best to share a bit until she gets used to him.

How do I have a 1st grader?!?!?

I hopped on first and took him through our typical warm up for which he was a saint. It was like riding butter. He never once broke gait, tried to take charge of the path or anything. I took him through the trot poles (he stayed in the trot and took them like a pro) and over the verticals (he trotted in, calmly hopped over and then sedately cantered away) then called it good and handed him over to M.

Now this isn’t a rag on the poor girl. She was sore from Monday, the heat is still killing her in about 10 minutes and well…Eeyore isn’t a kid’s lesson horse. I don’t know the horses she grew up competing, but I know my Eeyore and you have to ride him. If he can tell that you are just sitting there, he will take over and you won’t enjoy the experience.

So anyway. I handed her a pliable, slightly pokey horse and what I watched ensue was…well not that.

M brought typical Swedish candy with her for us to try. The chocolate was amazing. The super salted black licorice not so much

I stood there watching her ride and it hit me like a sack of bricks. I was watching myself from 4 months ago. He refused to trot and would break to the canter every time. It would then take her multiple laps to get him back to a trot. She tried the ground poles and he launched over them taking both in a large jump stride. He cut the corners. She wanted to try the vertical and since it is only 2′, I figured it wouldn’t kill her. He broke to a downhill canter then super man launched from 2 strides out, landed, cut the corner immediately after and galloped away mildly out of control. She lost a stirrup, took 5 laps to get him to trot (and only did so because I yelled out “Eeyore TROT” which he listened to) and then slid off with a dazed and sorta scared look on her face.

That was me pre Trainer AB. Not dangerous, but not even slightly in control either. And here I was thinking how much Eeyore had changed. How much better trained he had become. I was wrong. Eeyore is still the same Eeyore. I’m not the same Sara.

As I watched this go down I thought “I hope she doesn’t break my horse” not in a physical way but I really worried I’d get on him and have that horse under me again. I got back on him and asked him to trot. And guess what? He never broke gait, went over the trot poles steady and rhythmically, hopped over the vertical from a trot calm as can be. It took a bit louder of a discussion to get that but he settled immediately and gave me what I was asking for.

This. Always and forever this.

Walking back to the barn I was filled with mixed emotions. First was a major boost in confidence in my abilities to ride this horse and get what I need out of him. Second was a bit of worry for M and Eeyore as a pair. I told her that she doesn’t have to ride him. She asked about Gem and Pete and I told her Pete is fully retired and is not to be ridden and Gem. Well, honestly if you don’t like Eeyore chances are you will hate her in the arena. I don’t have easy, super well trained horses mostly because I can’t afford to buy super well trained horses. I can afford Eeyore and a whole bunch of lessons.

So I’m not sure what she will do. I told her I can set her up with Trainer AB lessons on Eeyore or sign her up at a h/j barn on lesson horses if she would prefer though she would need to pay for that on her own. If she wants a free ride, Eeyore is what she gets and she will need to learn to ride him. On my end, I admit to being not quite as on board as I was before to the idea of sharing him.

It’s taken me months of hard work, dedication and training to get him to the point where I can start to focus on new tasks: rounding up and “being on the bit”, proper bend, sitting trot work, course work. I have zero interest in back tracking to the half crazed, hang on for survival rides of the past and my interest in watching someone else suffer through that is minimal.

I can now see why people aren’t so apt to share their horse with others.

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Switcharoo

A lesson this week wasn’t looking good. The local barn Trainer AB travels to has her now booked up with lesson kids until 845 pm. Nobody wants to teach until 945 pm especially when they have an hour drive back home. I’m not so secretly hoping some of the school kids get into band or the musical or something and ditch riding. I want my lessons back.

I had taken Monday off to get M settled into our life before school started today. Poor girl is a bit shocked by the heat. No amount of warning could prepare a girl from Sweden for the reality that is SC in August. With the day off, I could venture out to Trainer AB’s place for a lesson Monday morning and M came along as well.

My welcome sign in Swedish and English. Wyatt so super excited to get his temporary big sister

She rode and competed in the jumpers at 0.9m for 10 years but stopped riding two years ago to take up other competitive pursuits. She was eager to ride again and I had told her the horses were off limits until she was evaluated by Trainer AB. When I offered to share my lesson with her, she jumped at the chance.

What ensued was probably the weirdest lesson ever and yet one more reason I adore Trainer AB.

Her facility is tucked into the mountainside up at the SC/NC border. She has everything you could imagine: a true dressage court, a jumper ring and a cross country field plus trails and creeks. It’s a mini paradise. I got started in the jumper ring to warm up and you know what? Eeyore was a GOOD BOY. He was looky but he settled and got to work in a new ring stuffed with scary looking jumps without a fuss.

I was a bad blogger and took crappy pictures. Her xc field had banks, ditches and a lot of skinnies scattered around plus a huge mound. The only thing missing was a water complex

Big win right there. Someone is growing up. I can recall a time when a new place meant screaming, fidgeting and barely controlling himself. Now he unloads and immediately gets to grazing. It’s pretty awesome.

We did the typical w/t/c warm up then popped over a cross rail a few times. The whole point of the outing was to tackle the xc fences so we left the arena and headed out. Of course my mouth got me in trouble as we walked over to the field and I complained about my inability to do a 20 m circle to save my life. So what did Trainer AB do?

She had me trot him all around the xc field, for which he was amazing, and then told me to enter the dressage court. I’ve never ridden him in a dressage legal ring before. It was….small. Things came up fast. Any imbalance on the still dew covered grass created havoc.

The dressage court

I started going left which is our good direction. While the size of my circle was off, I was smaller than I should have been, she was surprisingly complimentary on the rest of it. What I thought was not round or bent enough apparently is more than sufficient for our current level. I need to stop being such a perfectionist and remember that there are levels in dressage for a reason. And that we are at the very beginning of this journey.

She asked if I wanted to switch riders at this point and I was happy to hop off and give M a shot. Plus it was a nice way to avoid the horror that is going right. No such luck ducking out of that though. Trainer AB laughed and told me first I had to go right.

And go right I did.

Right out of the dressage court over the white fence.

Elimination anyone?

So we re entered and picked up the trot. Got on the circle.

And exited the arena again.

As we were going around I had the strange feeling I was being watched. This little adorable creeper was very interested in judging me

My head exploded with expletives but I kept my cool and entered yet again. Trainer AB told me to a) look where I want to go instead of where he was wanting to go and b) bend him to the inside even if it meant his nose touched his butt.

The next time we stayed in that darn arena. It wasn’t pretty but we kept inside the tiny white fence. We did four more circles before calling it decent and then I got off to hand the reins to M.

M was nervous. Not only was there a language barrier in some of the instructions (for example she had no clue what changing across the diagonal meant) but she also always rode in a vest back home. I had taken her to the local tack shop Sunday to buy the necessities: pants, helmet, boots. She had declined chaps and gloves. I had paid for it but told her a vest was going to be on her since it wasn’t a necessity to ride unless she decides to try xc. I think not having it on made her feel more vulnerable. Plus Eeyore isn’t easy and she rides with a lot of leg. He kept trotting in the walk and cantering in the trot.

Aiming up Trainer AB’s instructions on how to keep one Big Orange Butthead listening

She was good though. They stayed in the arena and she even got him to do a flying lead change when he picked up the canter she hadn’t asked for and had the wrong lead. Both Trainer AB and I were like “huh, I didn’t know he could do that”. She will do great with him as they get to know each other and she gets more comfortable again.

After that I asked Trainer AB if she would hop on and school the bank. He had an affinity to launch up it when I schooled him at FENCE and well, I do a lot better when he jumps things more normally. She hopped on to make for rider #3 for the morning and schooled him over some scary barrels and up and down the bank no issue.

As I watched I thought 1) I wish I could ride like her, she is so soft and giving and 2) Eeyore is a really good horse.

I could happily play owner. The thought of perhaps having her show him one level above where I’m at is an intriguing one. She does that for another client who shows BN while AB shows N. In fact she was supposed to go to AECs and run that horse N, but he apparently injured a hind leg this weekend and likely won’t make it now. My confidence blossoms when I know my horse is better than me so the idea of her showing BN while I do starter is rolling around in my mind.

After that he was lathered and blowing hard, so we called it a day. It had been an hour anyway and was the oddest lesson ever. Trainer AB laughed about it saying that she had never done all three phases with three different riders in a single lesson before. My life is nothing if not interesting.

I’m not sure what M wants to do as far as riding goes. She is safe enough that she can now ride him at home when I’m around. If she wants to lesson she can do so on the weeks opposite of my typical lesson schedule which would actually be really nice as Eeyore would get a weekly lesson that way. Any extra riding she can do will only benefit him fitness wise in the long run.

Trainer AB cantering him around the xc field

For me, I’m going to buy some poles to create a dressage ring inside my arena so I can really work on that phase a bit more. Maybe run through a dressage test and see how it goes. I’d be quite unhappy if we got to our first HT only to be eliminated for exiting the dressage arena when I can work on that at home. I’m also going to try to find time to trailer to RB where I used to lesson with J. It’s a county owned park and open to the public and has a small dressage court plus a full course of jumps. I used to take Gem up their to practice our dressage as well so I think sometime this week I may do that. School officially started today and Wyatt is joking cub scouts with his first meeting tonight so life is about to get busier again. Where is my money tree so I can retire????

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Women’s Health

**Disclaimer: If you are squeamish about health info you may not want to read this. Also this has nothing to do with horses. Also, also, I am a doctor but not a gynecologist or physical therapist and all information shared here is from my conversations with those specialists. If you have any personal health concerns please make an appointment with your primary doctor or gynecologist to discuss.**

When I was diagnosed with Butt Alzheimer’s earlier this year, I figured that was about the oddest piece of information I would ever be told about my body. Apparently that was taken as a challenge to which my body responded with “Hold my beer”.

At least that’s how I felt when my gynecologist looked me in the eye and said “you know how most people hold their stress in their neck or lower back? Well, you hold yours in your vagina.”

In a most incredulous way I blurted out “is that a thing?!”

To which he chuckled.

I’ll back up a little bit. The migraine I had at the end of July scared me. The aura was frightening but what really got to me was the timing. It occurred right before all my typical period symptoms began. Each month for the last year a new lovely surprise has joined the foray: back pain, intercourse pain, constipation. It was like a mini Christmas each month where all you get is an ugly sweater and some socks.

Fortunately I already had a Pap smear scheduled with my internist at the end of that same week and I discussed with her my concerns that a migraine may be in my future every month. In fact I told her “if that is the case I may need to file for a divorce from my uterus as I do not have the time to have a migraine every month” She referred me to a gynecologist since I hadn’t seen one since going through all the infertility treatments 7 years prior.

It can be embarrassing to discuss private information with a new doctor but I’m in the industry and know how important a thorough and accurate history of present illness (HPI) is in the diagnosis of an issue. I told this stranger everything even the intimate parts of my concerns. The period symptoms. The pain with intercourse. The fact that I get my period symptoms twice a month though only bleed once every 28-32 days. I was thorough. It’s the way I’ve been taught.

He listened and made a guess that it could be endometriosis and then began the physical exam. About 30 seconds later he told me about my stressed out vagina. The muscles on the floor of my pelvis are locked in rigid contraction. Apparently my glutes aren’t the only part of me that are over doing their job.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction is much more commonly seen after labor as a relaxation of those same muscles which results in urinary leakage and common complaints of women after having a child. In my case the opposite has happened and everything is tight. His palpation of those muscles left me with internal cramping the rest of the day and he remarked that he was surprised I was even able to have a normal gait with how tight my pelvis is.

The treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction is therapy. This involves a lot of unpleasant sounding things such as internal manipulation, the potential use of dilators and lots of stretching. This sub specialty of physical therapy is newer and my town only has one therapist certified to perform it. They are booked up until October or November, so my pelvic floor will have to remain overly tight until then.

It wasn’t until I sat in the parking lot in my car reading every tiny piece of information I could pull up on my phone about the condition (surprisingly little though maybe not that surprising as women’s health issues haven’t been studied until fairly recently) that it hit me to ask him if riding either caused this or if this is hampering my riding. I’ll ask the therapist when I start this fall.

Apparently releasing those tight pelvic floor muscles will resolve the majority of my symptoms. Symptoms I’ve had for many, many years even decades. Why no other gynecologist recognized this is most likely due to the simple saying “the eyes see what the mind knows” that I was taught in residency. Most doctors don’t know about PFD and so they don’t diagnose it.

My other concerns were also addressed though they aren’t as simple. The twice monthly period symptoms and the migraine, which he confirmed is most likely period related, are due to improperly functioning ovaries. My request to have them removed was denied. So much for reproductive rights in 2019.

He recommended I start an SSRI (selective seraronin reuptake inhibitor aka antidepressant) to help with the symptoms but I declined. I don’t want medication. He then prescribed cardiovascular exercise. My gynecologist told me I have to start running again at least during those times of the monthk. The endorphin release will mimic the SSRI and help. Ok. I can do that.

The migraine is trickier. The only medication known to help period induced migraines is the triptan group but he said those are really strong and may limit my ability to work when I take it. No thanks. I’ll deal with the head pain. He then recommended I get my daith pierced in my ear as that is a known acupuncture spot to help with migraines. I guess I’ll figure out who pierces that and get that done. We will see if it helps.

I’m to keep a period journal of all my symptoms and when they occur and return to him in January or February after I’ve completed the therapy as well. At that time, if I’m still having issues I’m going to demand an ovarectomy at the least or a hysterectomy if need be.

2019 and 37 years of age is turning out to be an interesting one health wise. Thankfully my butt returned to normal function after physical therapy in the winter and I am hopeful therapy will help yet again here. 2020 may start off with me feeling more “normal” than I have in decades.

If you are dealing with less than ideal internal issues, please see your gynecologist. Women’s health is finally in the forefront and being researched and taken seriously. Simple things like not being able to wear a tampon due to cramping and pain aren’t symptoms you have to live with. As more research is performed and as more doctors are learning about pelvic floor conditions in women, you will see a lot more women getting diagnosed and treated and a lot more women enjoying a completely pain free existence.

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Progress and Stagnation

It’s easy to get bogged down in the things that aren’t going well. The areas that seem to constantly need improvement. The pieces of the puzzle that elude you.

For me right now it’s the 20 m circle. It’s frustrating that I seem to be no farther along in my ability to perform this essential task even with all the effort I’m putting in to working on it.

He is looking really good these days. A little puffy still but he is getting new muscling and less round

Each ride I dedicate a portion to the circle at the walk, trot and canter in both directions. Some days it seems as though I’ll never get it right. Others I feel like we just might be inching towards figuring it out.

I ride this exercise way better when in a lesson. It is a combination of having a visual focal point, Trainer AB, to create my circle around as well as the reminders to slow the trot, use more inside leg, own the outside corner of his mouth etc….

When on my own at home I get flustered as we go around and everything feels like it is falling apart and I’m not sure which piece to put back together first to salvage it. Do I focus on re establishing the bend? Or getting him on the bit? Or push him back out on the larger circle? Or moving forward more?

The answer is all the above. Sigh. Why can’t I have a lesson every day?

I was mowing late last night and saw a deer in my way. I turned off the mower and waited for her to leave the pasture. When I went to start again I saw the rest of the herd and called it a night instead of bothering them figuring we could finish in the morning when they were gone.

But….

Even with this portion of my riding education remaining a bit stagnant, there is still progress going on in other areas.

One of these caught me off guard yesterday. It had been 10 days since I last hopped on the Orange Butthead. I was out of town for five of those days and the five prior he was healing from a muzzle induced rub on the corner of his mouth that blew up to the size of a grapefruit. Thankfully upon my return home he was back to normal.

It was time to get back to riding and I set up the arena to include a set of three trot poles and two verticals. I got on, worked through some flat work, did some circuits of the 20 m (ish) circle and then popped him over the jumps. When I got back off it dawned on me that last winter there was no way I could have given him 10 days off and then expected any actual work to be accomplished. This ride back would have been a disaster. A ride to get through so we could get back to the good rides.

These orange ears will never be easy but I’m slowly learning how to use that energy for good

Now I can expect him to work no matter the length of time he has had off. And he steps up to the plate albeit with some sass. That folks is major progress. Maybe not progress that is shown by jumping higher, being rounder or moving up a level but progress nonetheless and progress that has been a long time coming. There was a time I thought he’d never be able to get extended time off without coming back and nearly killing me.

And really he hasn’t changed that much. He still threw his head around in the first trot. He still tried to canter. He still tried to cut the corners. But I have changed. I now have both the tools and the confidence to ignore him and make him stay on the rail, in the trot, and knock off his insanity. Now it takes only a single time around before he gets his head out of his butt and gets to work. I feel more in control of myself and therefore of him.