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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.

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You Knew It Was Coming

LESSON RECAP!!!!

Ack..I sooo wish I had media because folks…this lesson was EPIC!

All day long I stressed about those stupid pipe jumps. At the end of my last lesson Trainer AB had set the stage for me to come prepared to conquer those stupid pipes. The plan was for her to hop him over them a few times until he stopped jumping the standards which should in theory make it a heck of a lot easier for me to then jump them. I’m not ready for a 4′ effort here.

Won’t ever stop using this.

When I pulled in I was ecstatic to see that the entire arena had be rearranged for the first time since I have been riding there. Instead of a hodgepodge of jumps piled in the center with two outside lines set up, with one being the two stride pipes, there was now a small course of about 6 jumps and…..no pipes to be seen.

HAHAHAHAHAAH!! YES! I was so excited I shot a text over to Nadia about it. No pipes. Phew.

Eeyore started the lesson with a fire cracker up his butt which I found odd since I had ridden him pretty good on Sunday. He kept all four on the floor though and I managed to wrestle him around and blow off some of his steam in a nice hand gallop around. After that he was able to settle into the work a bit better. It didn’t help matters that for some reason the arena was a veritable highway last night. Riders kept coming and going and that always ruffles him up. He hates not being able to ride right up their ass and then gets pissy when they leave and he is made to stay and work. Its good for us to work on though since warm ups are often hectic and confusing and anything that tests his commitment to listening to me is a good thing in my book.

Polo ponies! Saw my first arena polo match Saturday night.

I lamented to Trainer AB how hard I’ve been working at the “dressage stuff” but seem to only be able to get one of the three components at a time: bend, being round, or staying on the circle. Which meant that she immediately put me on the circle and put me to the test. We started going right and it was kind of a crap show. I’d get the bend then lose his roundness and the circle would get smaller then I’d fix the roundness and lose the bend and so on. It got better as we went though it never felt effortless or that cohesive, more like a million small corrections one after the other to try to keep us on track. She had me go around at the rising trot, sitting trot and then canter and surprisingly, to me anyway, we did the best at the canter. Then we switched to the left and it was like angels sang. Seriously, the difference was stark, but in a really good way. To the left I could get all three and keep it with only tiny little corrections maybe every 1/4 turn around the circle. We didn’t spend a lot of time going left because it just clicked in all gaits. I laughed and asked her if any dressage tests only include left hand circles. Nope.

So I have my homework there. I’m not sure if I’m that one sided or if we both just suck that bad going right that it compounds, but it is very much different. I want to spend some time going left to keep the feeling but I think I’ll need to focus on getting the right bend to match.

Mother nature was showing off that night

After that, she said she was going to go set the jumps while I let him walk on a long, loose rein to catch his breath. I looked around the arena and saw mostly verticals, a large coop, and a barrel jump and wondered what she was setting up as they all looked to be a great, mini jump height to me. She walked around and jacked all the jumps up (odd to see since in the past all my lessons included lowering jumps) and then I watched her with a pit growing in my stomach as she set up a new pipe jump. Womp womp. It was slightly different though. The pipe was made into a skinny between two solid walls.

First up on the docket was a small gymnastic line of a cross rail to a vertical. She said that it was set up to be a canter 2 stride line, but she wanted me to trot into it and then get 3 strides before hopping out. Well…that didn’t go so hot. Just as I got started, a new person entered the arena and began riding. No big deal. She stayed out of the way at the far end of the arena. Except that was right where we were jumping into and Eeyore had nothing but eyes for this horse. We got the in and out but kept doing it in 2 strides. Trainer AB said it was fine. With his distraction and how hot to jumo he was, getting the set for 2 strides was ok and she didn’t want to punish him for saying yes by continually asking the same thing.

Oh jump of my nightmares

Besides, she wanted to get started on course work in preparation for our showing debut this fall and Eeyore was dripping sweat and blowing hard at this point.

The course was going to be three jumps: #1 was the pipe, left hand turn around the barrels to #2 a vertical away from the barn then a right hand turn to #3 a vertical back towards the barn. I had two goals: trot into each jump and make my turn big and sweeping. Why these? Well, I mentioned to Trainer AB in my attempt to stall as long as possible before tackling that stupid pipe, that I had stopped jumping at home on my own because I tend to stuff him around corners as my eye doesn’t flow well around the course and that he likes to get really strong in front of a fence and I am not sure if I should wrestle with him once he is presented or just let him go. I don’t want to punish hi in front of a fence, but I also don’t like the feeling of getting run away with towards it either.

In true Trainer AB form, she took my words to heart and made it into the lesson. I love this woman.

#1 was the pipe then a left turn around those far barrels and back towards the camera over the vertical to to the left of the pipe

So off I went. I looked at that stupid pipe sandwiched between the walls and I don’t know…I trusted the big Orange Butthead who was so keen to get jumping and well…I just did it. We flew over it in a much more normal way than prior and then cantered away like no big deal. I heard a big whoop of joy from Trainer AB and the crowd watching from the bleachers and gave him all the pats. Which uh..then saw me blow past my turn a bit and I ended up doing what I always do…stuff him around and at the next jump. I did manage to wrestle him back to a trot before going over it and we made it over just fine but yeah…not what she had envisioned. Going to #3, it took a lot to wrestle him to a trot and then to a trot that wasn’t basically a canter in disguise, but I did and we had the best jump of the three.

I walked back over to Trainer AB with a huge grin on my face and the comment “wow…I didn’t die!” She was pleased that we a) made it over no fuss b) I remembered my course and c) I did get him to trot before each one. But….

She called me out for bad jumping form. When I get nervous I tend to hunch my shoulders and round my back. She had told me to grab mane in case he over jumped like in the past and I was so focused on doing that, that I sorta let my posture go to the birds. So…eventhough I managed to do the course I had to do it again and this time do it right. She is a stickler for the details.

Again #1 was the pipe, turn left around barrels to the vertical next to the pipe and then all the way over to this vertical as #3 going away from the camera.

We went again and this time the mini course was AMAZING. It felt like flying as we soared over the pipe, I managed to get him to a trot before the barrels, made the turn, flew over the vertical, wrestled longer than I wanted down the long side headed to the turn for 3 but did get a trot eventually and then ended out of 3 no issue.

My face hurt from my grin and I am pretty sure I was giggling like an 8 year old. It just felt so damn good to do that mini course. I’ve not strung fences together on him before and was unsure how it would go. Then add to that the fact that I finally slayed my pipe dragon and well…it was a pretty awesome feeling. Trainer AB expressed her pride at how the hard work is showing through and how, while Eeyore is still head strong and a bit of a bully, I’m not letting it get to me the way it used to.

I drove home on cloud 9 feeling invincible yet again and already impatiently waiting for the next 2 weeks to go by. Its fine though. I’m out of town next week to visit inlaws up north and then school starts and my Sweden exchange student arrives the next weekend, so we will be plenty busy. EEEEEK though!! This eventing thing may actually really happen after all and it is all thanks to a Big Orange Butthead and a wonderful Trainer AB.

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Butting Heads

Eeyore and I have not been seeing eye to eye this week. Maybe it is the 1000% humidity that makes us both break out in a disgusting lather within minutes of thinking about work or maybe it is because I am now asking him to really use himself, but he and I are definitely no longer on the same page. Or in the same book even.

No filter on this photo. Last summer he looked like a dun Appy with his fugly faded coat. This year he is brilliantly orange.

You see, Eeyore is a Frat Boy. He likes to party. He likes to have fun. He is smart enough to work through puzzles, but why bother when instead you can chug a keg and play beer pong with the bros while checking out the hot sorority girls who just walked in? Work is for nerds.

What I am trying to get him to understand is that the hard work needs to be done so that he can get to play. Making my 6 year old son learn this is hard enough. Making the 1500 pound 8 year old is proving impossible. It is extra frustrating because he is smart. Once a lesson is learned, it sticks and becomes the new norm. Making him buckle down and focus is the hard part.

Still adorable even with his new muzzle on. He always has this super cute look on his face that just melts my heart even when I’m annoyed with him.

Since our last lesson I have been working on having him use himself properly. Get that big spotted butt of his engaged and playing along. I’m introducing it slowly with a lot of breaks and pats and good boys. I’ll let him chug along and then throw in a random circle where I ask him to step under himself, give at the poll, and bend. Once we complete the circle a single time, I let him move out again around the arena. Then I’ll throw in going over some ground poles, which he thinks is a lot of fun, and maybe a canter or two before asking once again for a nicely performed circle.

It is interesting to watch him as we progress through the ride. When we are doing something he thinks is fun, he is game on, full steam ahead, ears forward and watching to see where we go next. When he realizes this is actual work, he gets easily distracted, finds something outside the arena that requires his full attention and slows to a crawl. It is like riding two completely different horses.

Gem on the other hand was not amused by her new mustache halter. I thought it was funny. Since she broke the muzzle that came with a halter, she needed a new break away one that the muzzle could attach to. Look at her. You’d think she was abused.

We are getting there. At the walk our circles are actually circle shaped, there is proper bend and he can remain engaged for an entire circle. The trot work is lagging behind but has also started to show some improvement in my own ability to react quickly and effectively. Still a long way to go but I’ll take any progress at this point. I’m ignoring this at the canter at the moment until I feel more secure in the trot.

Hopefully I get to lesson tonight. It is pretty rainy and gross out and I have no idea how the footing holds up at the lesson barn, but she hasn’t canceled yet so fingers crossed. It is always an eye opening experience and I know that tonight she wants to school him over those stupid pipes herself to get him a bit calmer before I attempt them again. Though if someone were to burn them to a pile of melted plastic, I wouldn’t be sad. The chances of me running into a similar jump out and about is pretty slim, I haven’t seen one at any show I’ve attended to show in or volunteer at and the only reason it is an issue is because they happen to be present in this one arena. Still, I’d like to conquer this issue and move on to other things.

On a great note, Homeboy has seen the light and now marches onto the trailer when we walk towards it from like 15 ft out. Just try to stop him going in. Immediately backing right out to get his good boy pats and treats has been the latest in the series of trailer loading battles and I may have lost my cool and screamed “WHY ARE YOU SO ANNOYING?!?!?” at the top of my lungs the other night as he barreled backwards before I could get the butt bar secured. He saw the error of his ways shortly there after and **knock on all things wooden** currently marches on the trailer with barely a suggestion and remains on said trailer until told to back out. We will see if this translates away from home tonight.

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Well, That Was Sorta Scary

There I was Tuesday night tucking Wyatt into bed at 8:30 pm. I had just finished the chapter on birds in his favorite book of new species found around the world in the last 5 years. I sat on the floor by his bed as he drifted off to sleep, a ritual Dusty created years ago but was unable to perform that night as he was at dinner meeting. My cell phone lay on my lap and I opened a game of solitaire to occupy myself in the dark until he was sound asleep and I could relocate to my own bed.

As I was playing the game, I got frustrated. How did I lose when all the cards were gone? Except…all the cards were not cleared. There were three cards in the bottom right of my tiny phone screen. But they hadn’t been there before! I looked at the cards and then returned my center of gaze to the center of the screen. The cards vanished. Not blurry. Not doubled. Invisible.

I looked up at his red digital clock on his dresser up and to my left. If I stared directly at the clock it was fine. Once I shifted to placing the clock on my right hand periphery – gone. Then the flashing lights stated in my peripheral field of view. Blinking, crazy white lights just out in my right eye periphery.

At this point Wyatt was asleep and I was a little freaked out thinking about all the signs of a stroke and what to do. I did the best thing I could think of: I went to bed and fell asleep. Nothing a little bit of burying your head int he sand can’t fix, amiright?

The stroke of midnight woke me up with an 8 out of 10, throbbing, worst headache of my life. There was no rushing of blood in my ears though, so I stumbled into the bathroom, downed two alieve and went back to bed where I promptly passed back out. At 6 am, I awoke with the alarm to find that my headache was now a dull 2 out of 10 and all the flashing lights and blind spots in my vision were gone. I was left with blurry vision in my right eye and an odd sense that something was living off to my right that I just couldn’t see. I went to work figuring that it was my hospital based day and where better to have a stroke than in the hospital?

The nurses all looked at me funny all morning long. I was slow. My mentation was definitely off and I had to slow down to get my words out. When a nurse presented a patient to me and then I promptly forgot the entire conversation even existed and kept typing away at my medical notes instead, well they all started to fuss. I got my blood pressure taken (107/53) and a whole lot of empty nesting mothers surrounding me and telling me what to do. You have to love a room full of amazing nurses.

I agreed to go to urgent care after work and that doctor looked at me like I had five heads and told me to go to the ER where I could undergo a battery of neurological tests and scans, but then promptly refused to take a urine sample to rule out a UTI and any blood work as I believe it all stemmed from an electrolyte imbalance due to about a month long of fighting leg cramps nightly. He wasn’t convinced this was important. e believed it to be a migraine with an aura, bu wasn’t happy with the lingering symptom. I gathered up my papers at discharge and pointed my car home. My plan? Sleep it off. If I awoke this morning with any lingering symptoms, I’d cancel out my day of appointments and head to the ER.

This morning I awoke feeling pretty ok. No visual disturbances. No lingering head ache. My only issue is that I remain dehydrated despite a lot of water and still those darn leg cramps that wake me up at 2 am. I’m going to steal some of Dusty’s electrolytes and start drinking that and see if it helps. I have a doctors appointment already for tomorrow for routine check stuff, so I’ll ask them to draw the blood at that appointment.

Migraines, real bona fide migraines not the sissy headaches that most people claim is a migraine but isn’t, are no joke. This was my first one ever and I plan to make it my last one if I have to turn over every stone to figure out the etiology. My working diagnosis is sleep deprivation, electrolyte imbalance leaving water in my gut but not being absorbed and creating leg cramps, and hormones as mine seem to have decided that 37 is a great age for menopause filled with hot flashes, depleted energy and mood swings. Or maybe it is meningitis.

On a serious note from a health care provider: don’t be me and go to bed if a health scare pops up. If this was a stoke (I know the symptoms and checked myself in the mirror through the list), I could have died in my sleep. If you are unsure, scared or have a new symptom that creates pain, call your doctor or 911. DO NOT GO TO SLEEP.