Monday, October 8, 2018

One of Those Wear Your Helmet Stories aka I WALKED Out of the ER

A week ago I was about to get on a horse that I am familiar with and have ridden several times in various settings.  This horse has never concerned me in any way.  He has always been a good boy and is a very sweet guy in general.  We all know that things can just happen with horses and last Monday was one of those days for me.

I was getting on this horse and he was standing like a statue like he always does when in the blink of an eye he jumped up and bolted.  I wasn't all the way on, more like most of the way on, so I was already behind the motion and didn't have the reins gathered up yet.  It felt like he also may have thrown a little buck in there or maybe it was a small jump over something on the ground.  If I would have been all the way on him correctly I could have rode that gallop out but I just could not right myself and got slammed on the ground about 50 feet later.

I have come off plenty of times, the last time was about five years ago when Klein slipped galloping around a corner and tried so, so, so, so hard to catch herself but just couldn't manage.  We both fell and as I saw the sky as we were falling on our left sides I had the presence of mind to try to roll away as fast as I could because I was afraid she would land on my left leg and break it.  Some of my training from the military actually kicked in and I combat rolled right away from her.  I HEARD my helmet crack that time and had a headache immediately.  Klein was still on the ground, sitting up with her legs folded under her, confused.  I got up and walked over to her, rubbed her forehead and told her to get up so I could see if she was ok.  She appeared to be fine and I got back on and she felt fine at the walk and trot so we cantered a short distance.  I wanted to show her I was ok, she was ok, we were ok, and not have her lose any confidence.

I know that was not the brightest idea, but it was very short and then we walked straight back to the barn where I called a friend to tell them what happened and also called them back to tell them exactly when I was leaving the barn, which way I was driving home, and the time they should get another call from me telling them I made it home.  I also had people on notice to let me know if I said anything odd or backward or seemed confused for any reason and I would go straight to the ER.  In hindsight, the fact I heard my helmet crack and had a headache for three days after should have sent me straight to the ER.  I will never hesitate again no matter if I can walk it off.

I have taken many Forensic Pathology/Death Investigation classes for two of my degrees and I know all too well what a subdural hematoma is.  The fall five years ago was prior to these classes fyi.  I know what it looks like inside of your head, on your brain, and I know what it is capable of doing, to include killing you.  To those of you that don't know, one thing that subdural hematomas are known for is the fact that people will take a blow to the head whether it be a fall, or from an object striking the head, or vice versa, and think they are ok because they have no visible injury and/or are not in pain.  These individuals will not seek immediate attention and will go home and never wake up.

Anyway, back to last Monday.  That was by far the hardest I have ever hit the ground in my entire life.  The worst part is my mom is visiting and saw the entire thing and came running over to me.  She asked me if I was ok because I thankfully did not get knocked out and I told her I didn't know.  It took me a minute to gather my thoughts and at first I couldn't roll over, or sit up.  I had a headache immediately and was waiting for the pain of broken bones to register.  I managed to think to tell my mom to give me my phone and I called the horse's owner, who was at the farm, but not the area we were in, to tell them that the horse was loose and I couldn't get up to go get it. 

I knew I was hurt pretty bad but still not sure how bad. I got up after a minute and started limping in the direction the horse went.  People had caught the horse I went limping out there saying "I have to get back on, I have to get back on!!"  We took the horse to the ring and I was going to get back on until I realized I had no idea what day it was and I couldn't tell anyone the day my parents got here for their visit (which was three days prior).  Later I would find my bridle even had broken, probably because I had the reins in my hand when I hit the ground and that broke the reins and one bit hanger on the Micklem I had on him.  I never noticed any of that...

Not knowing what day it was is something that has never happened to me in my life and I knew we needed to go to the ER.  I could tell you the alphabet (which I ran through to my mom), my address, and how to get back to my house, but the day or month?  No idea.  My poor mom had to drive me home (I had no problem telling her were to turn to get home) where The Other Half took me to the ER since he knew right where it is, and what a coincidence the same one I had to take him to for almost cutting a finger off one day.

Our house is a very short drive from where we were and the ER was in that direction too.  While The Other Half was driving me to the ER he said I slurred a couple words and that my right pupil was bigger than the left. I limped into the ER and while we were in the waiting room the pain through my entire right side started to set in and I really started to get scared that I broke something.  We went back to a room where I had the most unfriendly ER doc ever, I get it she probably deals with a lot of extremely difficult people, but we were being nice! 

She told me to tell her what happened and I did and she goes "well, obviously the horse had to be moving you don't fall off sitting there."  The Other Half started laughing and I said "Uh, you can absolutely fall off from a stand still if a horse does something stupid."  Her reply was "well, that's something you can discuss with your riding friends."  Ok lady, but you started that conversation.  I also brought my helmet with me because often times they will want to see what you were wearing when you hit your head.  She looked at it and goes "What's this???"  I told her it was the helmet I was wearing in case she wanted to see it.  She was like, "I don't need that, you can get rid of that."  Okkkk then.  By the way, that helmet is going in the trash.  The Other Half ordered me a replacement while we were sitting in the waiting room, luckily I have a spare at home, and a One K that I use for shows.

I had a CT scan that was clear of any bleeding or obvious injury and a bunch of x-rays of my right side lower back/hip.  Those were also clear.  The conclusion was a mild concussion and severe bruising of my right side.  She gave me some Tylenol and told me to walk it off.

That evening I hurt really bad.  Moving anything on the right side of my body even a centimeter was excruciating.  I could barely dress/undress myself or even get in and out of bed, let alone a car.  I definitely couldn't stand on my right leg or even put my shoes on without having to sit down.  Getting up off the couch was a dramatic feat too.  This has honestly been the worst pain I have ever been in from anything (surgeries, other injuries, etc...)  The next day I felt like I got dropped off a 20 story building and landed on my right side.  I still managed to go walk, well limp, around downtown Philly that day.  Sitting down for a while was what made it worse so I wanted to keep moving even though that hurt too.

I ended up having a limp for four days.  I have a big numb patch on my right side hip/low back and my skin in that entire area has hurt to the touch so bad that it would make me leap off of whatever I was sitting on if it touched anything.  It STILL hurts to the touch today, a week later, and I still have the big numb area.  I have an area that honestly feels like muscles/tendons were ripped off of bone.  I may go back to the doc and have them x-ray it again because it is still pretty painful.  We have a friend that had a fall off one of his horses and went to the ER where they found nothing on x-rays.  He was still having significant pain a week later, went back and found he had a broken neck and back.  I don't think I have anything that severe but I would not be surprised if there is some kind of hairline fracture somewhere. 

The second day after the fall I got on Klein and Super B.  Klein had another championship show this past weekend so I needed to get rides in and was just hoping I would even be able to ride my tests by that Sunday.  Super B, she needs rides, I probably could have waited a couple more days but, surprisingly (actually that probably is not surprising) riding made me feel a little better.  So if I was going to ride, I figured I'd just stick to my own horses for the rest of the week.

So, what helmet potentially saved my life last week?  A Charles Owen 4Star. 

The helmet I was wearing that I heard crack five years ago was a Charles Owen Ultralight Euro Skull Cap.  I heard it crack but there were no visible cracks or damage to it.  I threw it away the day that fall happened. 

I filled out Charles Owen's survey for after you take a fall in one of their products.  They use the data as feedback for their designs and to make adjustments as needed with future models.  They also respond with an email that is good for a 20% discount on a new helmet.

As for the horse, he saw something.  I don't know what it was, it was most likely something only horse vision can see but that is NOT like him.  He didn't have a care in the world until that exact moment when he leaped up and bolted.  Something could have bit/stung him for all I know.  It could have been any horse.  He was terrified.  He bolted in the opposite direction of his pasture where all his buddies were too.  He was deathly afraid of something.  I visited him the next day and hugged on him to show him I was ok, and to tell him I was sorry he had such a scare from whatever monster it was that he saw.  I'll be on him this week again.  He's been ridden since I fell and was his usual excellent, sweet self.

I know some of you are sick of hearing "wear your helmet" because no matter how many horror stories you hear, it won't make a difference.  It's a personal decision, I get it. But I'm going to say it again.  Wear your helmet.  Wear it.  Every ride, every time.  It doesn't matter if the ride is 2 seconds, 2 minutes, 20 minutes, or 2 hours.  It doesn't matter if you're jumping or trail riding or taking a leadline lesson.  WEAR IT.  I know you can still get severely injured even with one on, but there are also so many scenarios that can/will end MUCH better if the rider had a helmet on.  A helmet could make all the difference in the world between you walking out of the ER or being a slobbering vegetable.  I had a helmet on and didn't know what day it was, imagine what would have happened to me if I wasn't wearing one?  I would NOT have walked (limped) out of the ER the same day.  I may not even be writing this post right now.  I wouldn't have been back on my horses in two days, and I wouldn't have made it to the next championship show (we made it, post soon).  Most importantly, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the time I had with my parents while they were here.  Oh and let's not forget the poor Other Half would have definitely been on full barn chore duty for more than just a day. 

See, we made it!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Dressage at Devon - Dressage Sport Horse Breed Show - Part 2

The next morning we were both trying to prop ourselves up with caffeine as we made the drive back.  Traffic wasn't terrible, but I guarantee you if I had brought Klein that morning, it would have been.

Klein was braided when we got there and I immediately got her out for a walk.  I felt like such a bad horse mom that she even had to stay in that stall for one night.  I must have apologized ten times to her.  She was still unimpressed by the busy atmosphere that morning complete with babies and other young horses in the warm up for the breed show going insane.  One handler was dragged around by a naughty baby and ended up leaving in an ambulance the day prior.  Breed shows are crazy.  Too many baby brains in one new place.

I handed Klein off to The Other Half and tried to tell him where to take Klein but he cut me off and said "I know, I saw where you were" and walked off in the opposite direction from where I was.  I went to change and when I came back I learned that he got yelled at twice by two different officials for walking Klein through the vendor village.  Yeah, I definitely did NOT walk her through there, which is why I was trying to tell him where to go.  At least the second one was trying to laugh and make jokes about it.  That was nice of her, she probably felt sorry for him and could tell he wasn't there with a barn half full of horses, only that he was handed a horse and told to walk.

After that I did some final spot touch ups, put Klein's bridle on her and went to the warm-up.  I practiced setting her up and trotted her around to warm her up and get her in that mindset, then waited for our turn.

In the warm-up, and unimpressed with the circus around her.

In we went.  I wasn't nervous because to me, it was low threat.  I knew we weren't going to do well up against nothing but fancy warmbloods at the prestigious Devon, but I still took turnout very seriously and proudly presented my Horse of a Lifetime.

The judge wasn't really a fan but we didn't completely bomb it.  Some of the breed show judges think Klein is the coolest thing ever and think it's great to see something different, others are like, why is this here?  This judge actually wrote "not a horse for dressage."  I laughed, and as expected our score reflected that comment (64%), but it was a qualifying score for All Breeds, so mission accomplished!  Not only did I present a Percheron at the Devon breed show, we accomplished what we set out to do.  We also placed 9th, which meant we got a DEVON ribbon.

It even matches her!

I know, it's a $2 thing, well maybe $4 since it's a Devon ribbon and it's pretty well put together compared to run of the mill ribbons, but that ribbon does have significance to me.  It is a symbol of a goal accomplished in order to achieve a bigger goal, and what I am pretty sure was a first for Devon too, a full Percheron in the Dixon Oval.

Special thanks to The Other Half.  I am always thankful for him, but some shows are more stressful than others and it wears on me sometimes and he has to be around and deal with it.  Though Devon was somewhat simple, there were plenty of logistical obstacles that made us both count down the minutes until we were on our way home with Klein.

As an added bonus I also stopped by to say hi to Lainey Ashker, one of my favorite upper level riders.  We still use tools that she taught us in a lesson every single ride.  I knew she was competing and we actually ran into her and her mom while they were out walking her horse that morning.  After we were done we went to where she was stabled and talked with her for a bit.  She is always such a cool person to talk with in addition to being an upper level bad ass.  She thought it was great that Klein and I were there and she ended up having a great weekend with her guy as well.  You can read about that here, Ringside Chat:  Eventer Laine Ashker is Dancing at Dressage at Devon, and here Monday Video from Tredstep Ireland:  Lainey Ashker Dances at Devon.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Dressage at Devon - Dressage Sport Horse Breed Show - Part 1

We did it, we competed at Dressage at Devon in some capacity.  It was an adventure to say the least and The Other Half wins Horse Hubby of the year for helping me survive the logistical nightmare that is Devon.  It is honestly an adventure I don't care to repeat.

Klein qualified for the 2018 USDF Breeders Championship East Coast Series Final, so, we went.  I entered her fully understanding that our competition would be VERY fancy, VERY expensive warmbloods.  That was fine, we were going just for the experience and to gather our last qualifying score for the All Breeds Dressage Sport Horse Breeding division year end awards.

Devon is on the opposite side of Philly from where we are.  While in theory it takes an hour from our house to get there, traffic would definitely extend that time by some amount and there is no way to tell just how much.  I also knew that the trailer parking lot was not on site and was at least 8 miles away.  You cannot park a trailer anywhere near that place unless you are loading/unloading.  If you are there just for the day, you have to have a stall reserved.


My class was at 9:30am, so I decided the best way to do it was to take Klein over the evening before, park the trailer, and then The Other Half and I would just go home and be back early the next morning.  After a somewhat painful drive over due to Google Maps taking me through a bunch of twisty, turny, hilly, tiny roads through neighborhoods, we get to Devon to find that the stalls are SMALL.  I guess I understand that because Devon is packed into the area that it is in so space is limited, but is Dressage at Devon not full of big warmbloods?  Story of our life.  Every show we travel to that requires us to get a stall, it's rarely adequate size for Klein.

While I was checking in they gave me a map to the trailer parking area and said "do you have a big trailer?"  I said "I don't know?  Is 30 feet big?"  That honestly isn't a big trailer, it is common to see much bigger rigs at shows reguarly.  I would call my trailer a medium.  But the lady said "Oh yeah, that's too big, you can't go this way, or this way, or down this street, or this street, or this street, or this street, it won't fit."  Great.  I'm in an area I am not familiar with and just got told about all these streets that surround it that my trailer won't fit down either because the roads are tiny or it requires you to go under VERY low railroad bridges that would cut the top off a trailer like a can opener. I decided I would just look for main routes and stick to those.  I thought I had it figured out until Google Maps ended up taking me on a 14 mile drive to a service plaza on the PA Turnpike, where I was looking through the fence at the trailer parking lot.

Let me tell you guys how close I was to going back, loading Klein up and going home.  The Other Half went into the store at the service plaza and bought me snacks, threw them in my window and said get going to the trailer lot.  He was NOT about to let me ruin this.  FYI, I drive my truck and trailer, he followed in his car so that we could just leave the truck and trailer.  His car was able to go the way that takes FIVE MINUTES to get to the trailer lot.  He didn't go on a 14 mile scenic route to the wrong place.  After the drive there and that, I was about to be done with all of it, but I made it that far...I went ahead and made the next 8 mile loop to the real entrance for the trailer parking. 

The Other Half drove us back to the showground to check on Klein and look around and I was kind of pissed when it took us five minutes in a car.  Again, we made it this turning back now.  We walked around and checked everything out when a lady stopped us to show us this awesome leather conditioner/waterproofer.  I peeked my head over the display into their booth where a nice Aussie man was sitting with a drink in his hand and he asked me "You want a margarita?"  Talk about perfect timing.  Do I????  Can I have six please?  He made us some awesome margaritas and we hung out there for a while before I headed back to Klein's stall to meet with the braider and take Klein for a walk.

Yes, I paid a braider, braiding is not my favorite thing to do.  My braids aren't as good as the pros, but they'll get by at a recognized show no problem.  Also, that whole risk of getting stuck in traffic was a big factor and not a risk I wanted to take.  I'd rather just have her braided that morning by someone that was already on site.

We took Klein for a walk around the grounds and she was unimpressed with everything as usual.  We walked by the Aussie's booth again and he asked if he could share his apple with her.  Klein was more than happy to help him out with that.  Then we had to put one of their hats on her for a pic: 

 Klein with Mick, owner of Outback Survival Gear and awesome bartender.

Watching some of the CDI horses schooling.

 The Other Half taking Klein for a walk around the grounds.

After that we tucked Klein in and headed home for the night...

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

So Your Significant Other has Horses...?

Photo Credit:  Sherry J Photography

Looks like it's time for me to interject myself into the blog, it has been a while!  Hopefully, you all liked my last blog post title "Horse Hubby (or HSO) Basics aka Farm Life Hacks."  It's been almost a year since that post and hopefully it has been helpful to some of you.  Lately, I have ben getting suggestions to open a Horse Dad/Hubby/Significant Other school to teach new people about horse stuff.  Of course this was in jest, but I keep getting the suggestion, so maybe there is something to it.  I am writing this from a guy/horse dad perspective, so please, take no offense to me saying horse dad or hubby.  This "guide" can apply to both men and women, but it's easier for me to write it this way.  Got to throw it out there because it is 2018, and well, it's just polite.

Let me start off with saying this:  you can't make someone get involved with the horse life who doesn't want to be a part of it.  You can't teach someone who has zero interest in learning.  If this is extremely important to you, that you have someone who is as equally invested into the horse community as you are, you might need to find someone who already is.  Again, you can't make people do something they don't want to do.

So you have someone that has the willingness to learn and meet you halfway, what do you do?  First thing, he/she needs to follow Horse Hubby on Facebook and listen to the podcasts.  It's somewhat of a support group that mainly has guys who live with or are married to a crazy horse lady (yes, you are crazy horse people).

Now, the best thing you can possibly do is learn nomenclature.  That will get you about 60% of the way in the horse world and it will impress your Other Half.  I had to learn most of this the hard way, by spending time at horse shows and listening to what announcers were saying, eavesdropping on instructors teaching, and admittedly, YouTube.  You don't need to make comments about riders such as "she needs to have silky reins and not have a death grip," or "she needs to hug her horse with her legs."  That's trainer talk, not horse dad talk.  Now, you can say "that's a good looking trot, canter, etc.." and you will be right most of the time.  I think for the first year I was with Stacey I stared back at her with a blank expression when she would tell me something along the lines of fixing the bend or a horse getting flat over a fence.

I pretty much knew only four things about horses when we started dating:  which end the food comes in, which end the food comes out, riders sit somewhere on the back, and they like carrots.  If you don't know these four things then please message me on Facebook and we can do one-on-one lessons.  When your Other Half is riding, you should know at a minimum the difference between walk, trot, canter, and gallop.  It's kind of hard for me to describe what to look for in the differences in this post, but YouTube is a great resource.

When it's not riding time, it's barn time.  This is where it's your time to shine.  There is a lot of nomenclature for this part, and a lot of stuff you can take charge of or help with.  Brushes:  there are a ton of varieties, but you need to really only know the differences between two.  One is a curry, and the rest are brushes.  I don't care what anyone else tells you, these are all brushes and if you are asked to hand one, you need to ask which one.  If your horse lady says the one with the wooden handle, you hand her the one with the wooden handle.  Easy peasy.  If you are really smart, you buy her a grooming bag with a horse grooming kit and when she asks for something, you lift the bag within reach because she is probably standing on a small ladder and you will earn just as many kudo points without really knowing which one she is asking for.

Washing a horse:  have you ever washed a car?  It's the same thing.  Start at the top and work your way down.  You could Google how to wash a car and pretend every time it says car, they mean horse.  Now odds are you are probably going to have your significant other step in and take over, or redo something.  THAT'S OKAY!  Horse women are extremely picky when it comes to the cleanliness of a horse.  Do you know how many things we have that keep Klein's tail white?  I don't, mainly because I can't count that high.  So do the basic wash (remember car washes?  You are going to do the cheap setting) and let them worry about the details.

By the way, bonus points for you, this is NOT a white horse, it is a grey horse (but we all know it's really white).

Beer makes washing them more fun.

Fetching a horse requires patience, and practice.  If you plan on being around for a while, it's time to start teaching an easier method  of  calling a horse in.  I'm not saying that's why I taught our three (the fourth is still learning) to come on a whistle, but do you really want to walk half a mile in one direction to fetch a horse?  Nah fam, work smarter, not harder.  So you caught a horse, what do you do?  You should be able to put a halter on and use a lead rope to lead (hence the name) a horse back to the barn.  This is an invaluable skill.  Do you know how many horses I've had to catch that escaped?  Well over a hundred.  Wait, what?  We have a hundred?  No, but it is a known FACT that every barn you are at whether you board there, your significant other is at another barn taking a lesson, or you are at a show, there WILL be loose horses at some point.

See pictures about how to hold a lead rope...

Sometimes there isn't a lead rope nearby, what do you do?  Well, you take your belt off and put it around the neck.  Now you have SOMETHING to hold onto while walking the feral equine back to civilization.  Now, you can do the same thing with just a lead rope when you forgot to grab a halter.  I also sometimes wrap one around the nose too if they are being a handful, but lets stick to the basics for this post.

Normal halter/lead rope.

Lead rope around the neck method.

Halter made with a lead rope.

The belt method.

Manual Labor:  Men, let's talk about the elephant in the room.  You are a guy and you can lift heavy thing, open hard jars, and fix things.  This is going to be the BIGGEST help you can do for your crazy horse lady.  One of my sole jobs is horse barn maintenance, and that's okay with me.  Horses like to horse around, and when a 1500-1800lb animal (we have big horses) hits something, it usually breaks.  I am talking fences, chairs, and fans (looking at you Wesson), moving entire barn walls off the foundation (ahem, KLEIN!), knocking off everything hanging up, etc...  If you are not handy with tools and fixing things, you better learn.  Crazy horse ladies, you better learn.  Crazy horse ladies, you better learn some things too because every time I leave the country, shit breaks and Stacey has to fix it.

YouTube is also a great resource for handy man repairs (seeing a trend yet?).  Now, I am not talking about plumbing sinks, running electrical wires, or shingling roofs, but you should know how to mend a fence.  When it comes to lifting heavy things, lift what you can.  I will tell you right now, I have a huge advantage with barn chores because I am 6'3", 270lbs of pure American freedom.  I also go to the gym five days a week, most stuff is pretty easy for me in regard to manual labor.  If your wife gets 200 bales of hay delivered, your ass better be out there helping her put those bales away!  Now remember what I said earlier, work smarter not hard.  I recently bought Stacey a heavy duty wagon to haul hay out into the pasture.  Like I said, most stuff is easy for me but that doesn't mean I have to tire myself out for no reason.

We use the cart only for hauling hay bales out into the pasture.  If you have ever tried carrying a bale by the string for a distance greater than 20 feet, you will understand the pain.

Pasture cleaning and barn cleaning another big thing.  You have to have a poop free pasture and barn to keep the horses happy and healthy.  Some diseases, viruses, and parasites can transfer from horse poop to horse. We all know how to sweep and shovel, grab a broom and start sweeping the barn.  Want to make things easier?  Buy your crazy horse lady something to make barn chores easier for her, but instead it's for you, that's a trade secret.  (Hint, refer to the linked blog post in the beginning)

What is the last thing you can learn?  Take the initiative.  Even if you do something wrong, the fact that you tried means a lot (pretty sure that's relationships 101) as long as you don't endanger yourself or your horses.  Yeah, I have a good five year head start on most horse boyfriends but I learned by doing.  If you do something wrong and the crazy horse lady tells you, check your ego at the door and listen to what they said.  

Ultimately, this is on you, but be honest with your significant other.  If this isn't your thing, tell them.  I know plenty of guys married to horse women who have no input in anything horse related, nor do they even know the names of the horse(s) she owns.  That's ok too because I'm sure they had a discussion about it 20+ years ago.

Last thing, if you were told to read this, ask yourself why?  I asked a bunch of crazy horse women for input, is one of these paragraphs about you?  Maybe you should get out to the barn right now and help...

Hope you guys enjoyed this, if you want to see more Other Half perspectives on horses so your significant others/spouses have something to read, let us know!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Dressage Show that Wasn't

Last month I put Ms. B in another dressage show.  Once again we were at a show in the pouring rain because New Jersey's weather is broken this year.  Ms. B warmed up great and into the ring we went.  About halfway through our test I heard the bell.  I knew for sure I didn't have an error on my test so I was surprised and had no idea what the judge saw.  She yelled out to me "Stacey, I don't know if you can see it, but your horse has a bloody leg!"  Cue heart attack.  A bloody leg?!?!?!  I asked her if I could just dismount in the ring and she was happy to see that I even offered to do that.  I jumped down to see Ms. B's left front leg bleeding like someone stabbed her.  I have NO idea how she managed that.

I walked her out of the ring and people in the warm up were asking what happened because that was NOT there two minutes earlier when we went into the ring.  The source of the bleeding was a tiny cut on the inside of her left front, just below the knee.  That is also the front she has a sock on so of course it made the blood show up extremely bright.  I have no idea how she managed to get that cut.  She didn't stumble, she didn't kick herself, and even if she did how would she have gotten a cut that high up her leg??  It's one of those horse mysteries where they hurt themselves and you spend the whole day going over your pasture/barn with a microscope only to find absolutely nothing.

It was pretty much done bleeding by the time we had walked out of the warm up and headed over to the hose.  I hosed her leg off and looked at it closer.  Nothing but that little cut.  She didn't even feel it.  I doubt she ever knew it was there.  I decided to just scratch our next test.  The ladies in the office said I could go back for the next test but I said it was ok I wanted to make sure Ms. B was ok.  You never know.  Better safe than sorry.  Also, I can't guarantee that the cut wouldn't start bleeding again and we would just have the same outcome, the bell.  It was still pouring so I really wasn't that sad to just get Ms. B untacked, loaded, and be on our way.  It was just a schooling show and she was great for the time we were working there.

There was a bit of swelling around the cut and the swelling reminded me of a popped splint, though I have never seen one that was accompanied by an open wound.  After some researching I found and open wound with a popped splint isn't that uncommon.  She was never lame from it.  She just had a chiro adjustment and actually feels amazing right now. 

That little cut wasn't healing too quickly either, so I had the vet come out to see exactly what it was.  I can't deal with guessing about something.  I need to know.  The vet came out and did an ultrasound and found it was definitely not a splint and in fact it is just a small wound.  However, there appeared to be some kind of dirt/debris in it and that is the reason it wasn't healed yet.  SMZs, bute, and a bandage with an Animalintex pad over it for the next five days was the plan.  Whatever was in there would be drawn out.  She also stuck hemostats in there to open it up a little more.  This entire time, B just stood there.  Stood there while she clipped the area around the wound, stood there for the ultrasound like a statue, and also didn't flinch when the vet stuck the hemostats in the wound to open it up more.  She is the best patient.  She puts up with so much.  Even with her SMZs and bute, she takes everything like a champ.  Thought I do mix them with applesauce and put them in a syringe hoping to take some of the nasty taste away.

I wrapped her to keep the elastikon bandage clean and dry since she stays out.

After the second day of Animalintex I did find what appeared to be little pieces of something. 

All cleaned up and ready to be re-bandaged on day two.

Day six, almost healed!

At the end of the five days the cut dried up and healed quickly.  She is feeling and looking GREAT.  She seems to just feel better and better. I have seen her break out some fancy moves in the past week.  I can't wait to bring more of that out under saddle.

Busting out some moves one morning last weekend.

Dapples :)

I totally had no clue she was going to start jumping stuff on her own or I would have been more prepared with video.  I was just letting her run around in the indoor while I looked for her sheet since the weather was so disgusting this week.

Photo Credit:  Sherry J Photography

Friday, September 7, 2018

Hobbies Are Important

Recently I had to go on a work trip that focused on vicarious trauma/severe stress.  For those of you that don't know, my job involves working one on one with people that have been victimized in the worst ways you can imagine, and they range in age from less than 1 year to 50+ years old.  Every single day I deal with incredibly negative things due the nature of the job.  Though I cannot talk about particulars for various reasons, I can talk about the general nature.  I can count on one hand who even can stand to hear about my job.  I have one friend I can think of that I can have an in-depth, intelligent, genuine conversation with about my job and the many aspects of it.  Some people refuse to believe that those around them (maybe even their own family members) are capable of these horrendous crimes.  I've also seen that mindset land people in the very situations that they refused to believe would ever happen to them, but that isn't what this post is about.

Our organization is very concerned about our mental health, and for good reason.  I have seen co-workers' lives crumble under the stress of life and our job at different locations.  I have seen co-workers be admitted to inpatient psychiatric treatment, I have seen them have mental breakdowns, and we have even had some suicides.  Because of all of this combined, I have had to attend a lot of presentations (which are usually very interesting) where we are told over and over again that it isn't a matter of if, but a matter of when vicarious trauma and PTSD will happen to us and how it will manifest itself.  The presentations are given to us by Psychiatrists, Neurobiologists, and Foresnic Psychologists.

We are given screenings and warned about the signs that we need to be aware of because some of them will sneak up on you.  So what does this have to do with horses?  In every single one of these presentations self-care in the form of a hobby is talked about and emphasized.  It doesn't matter what your hobby is. Or it could be something like taking your kid to the park regularly, just SOMETHING.  Something that you do regularly that you enjoy and look forward to.

A big part of why I can handle what my career (and life) throws at me is because of horses (surprise, right?).  I'm being totally serious though.  I can't count how many times I have heard co-workers, and friends with other stressful jobs that expose you to things no one wants to see say things like "man, I need a hobby.  I don't do anything when I go home," or "you're always happy when you talk about your horses, I need something that makes me that happy."  Yeah, you do.  That's seriously detrimental if you don't.

If you are reading this blog, then you are most likely lucky enough that you have found that happiness in horses too.  The whole point of this post is that sometimes I look at stressful days like a battle and I figure out a strategy that will allow me to get my work done and still go ride.  Some days, if I get stressed or have to deal with something severely disturbing thinking about what I'm going to do for my ride(s) that day helps take my mind off of it.  Personally, I find it hard to think of anything negative while riding.  There have been days where I am exhausted and I think "you know what?  I'm just going to go groom them and hang out with them."  Or there are some days I can barely remember my own name (court, trial prep, attending law enforcement interviews are mentally and emotionally draining) and instead of doing whatever I had planned, we just go for a quiet walk.

I forget who made the post, but somewhere out in Facebook land I have seen a post from a pro saying your horse is not your therapist.  That's true and I 100% agree, don't take your crappy day or life situations out on your horse, they don't deserve that, and that is not what they are there for.  However, sometimes a quiet walk is what you need.  Something that takes no real concentration, just time with your horse(s).  As I said earlier, some days I have to look at work like a battle and make a conscious decision that it's not going to win.  I WILL ride my horse(s) that day.  I'm usually able to keep a riding 5-6 days a week schedule without issue because I strategize my work days/week in a way that will still let me ride.  Sometimes that means getting up extra early to ride before work because I know I won't be out of work until late that day because of a particular thing we are doing.

My point is, if riding is your hobby and is what you look forward to (or driving, or grooming, or whatever you do with your horse) you need to make it a priority.  Too many people let it slip down the priority list because of other stresses.  They get home and think, meh, I'll ride tomorrow and end up sitting on their couch all night staring at their cell phone.  GO. OUT. SIDE.  It's not good for you to just let your hobby slip away, and honestly according to all of these professionals, that's the start of a warning sign that will snowball.

I'm sure many of you have stressful jobs that are stressful for a myriad of reasons.  Even if you don't deal with the things nightmares are made of on a daily basis, stress is stress.  It's all relative and it will all wear us down at some point.  Sometimes you may have to re-organize or go through some extra hassle to make that time for your hobby but you NEED to do it.  I've watched co-workers gradually push away hobbies without even realizing it then hear them reminiscing about when they used to spend time doing their hobby and how much they miss it because they love it.  DO NOT let it slip away from you.

Ok, so maybe you have to get up earlier one or two days that week, or maybe you'll get home a little later one or two days that week, or maybe you have to re-arrange your horse schedule a little bit for the week, and maybe that all sounds like a big pain in the ass that will only add more stress.  But it will be worth it to get to that time that you look so forward to and enjoy so much.

Don't take this as continuing to hang out with your horses will cure any mental health struggles you may be having.  If you are finding that you don't look forward to riding, or whatever it may be that you loved so much, that may be a red flag that something more serious is going on.  I know that going for a ride can't cure all your should always be a priority (doesn't have to be #1, but it should be high up on the list), and more importantly, you deserve to have time for it.

Friday, August 31, 2018

There's a Snake in My Fan and Klein Went to Timeout

My luck always seems to run low when The Other Half leaves for a work trip.  True to form, The Other Half left for a work trip.  The first day he left Klein got after Mochs again for the first time in over a year.  Mochs was a bit body sore and had some cuts and scrapes so I put Klein in timeout for a week.  I separated her from Wes and Moch and she got fed last every day that week.  Her workload hasn't increased to the point of being what she considers adequate and I think that plays a big part in her getting a little stir crazy/frustrated.  The whole reason I give her a short summer break is to avoid her working in the most humid, buggy time of the year. 

Ms. B has satisfied Klein as far as proving she is not there to boss anyone and is happy to be a follower.  There were no mare glares, no stomping, no squealing.  Klein told her where to go a couple times and Ms. B happily complied.  She even started following Klein around for a while.  She seeks approval and is happy to have a leader.  That's all Klein needs to know. 

Since New Jersey has been the rainforest this year, the workload has increased a little slower than I would like.  If it isn't raining, it's extremely humid and miserable outside.  I love hot weather and sun, but this crushing humidity has just not ever left for any period of time up here this year.  The rain was really starting to get to me too.  I need the sun.  I can't take grey day after grey day after grey crappy, rainy day.  The weather this year as a whole has just been one big giant disappointment from day 1.  The good news is, our time in New Jersey is coming to an end.  Two main reasons I was ok with coming up here, the horses enjoyed some colder weather, and I knew we were only here temporarily.

However, even with the crappy weather, with the work we have got done, Klein is now schooling half-pass and pirouette at the trot.  

Next bad luck thing to happen while The Other Half was gone...I hear this adorable little kitty throwing up in the middle of the night.  

I turn my light on to see where she is, only to find that she has killed a mouse, ripped its throat out, proudly put it on the foot of the bed, then proceeded to throw up its feet.  It's 3:30am, and there is a dead mouse on the foot on my bed, and vomit with mouse feet in it.  I'm not going to lie though, I was proud of her hunting skills and after I cleaned it all up I gave her some treats and told her she did a great job.  If it wasn't 3:30am I probably would have been more pissed and grossed out.

Fast forward to the night before The Other Half comes home...I go to turn my stall fans off for the night and when I hit the switch I hear one clinking as it slows down.  I couldn't figure out how that fan would have broke.  I thought for sure something must have come loose in it or maybe a blade got bent somehow.  No, I look in the stall to see something IN the fan.  I was like what the hell is in that fan?!?!?!  I took a couple steps into the stall to realize THERE WAS A SNAKE MY FAN.  A SNAKE.  Obviously, a stupid snake because it slithered into the fan and got chopped in the head, but that is just creepy and gross.  I would rather have another dead mouse on the foot of the bed.

Normally snakes don't bother me too much, but a snake in the fan, and hearing that sound.  No thanks.  I'm out.  That is The Other Half's department.  I Marco Polo'd him (if you don't have that app you should get it!) and let him hear the noise then showed him what it was.  He thought it was hilarious and showed all his friends he was with, who also all thought it was hilarious.  It was not hilarious.  It also stayed right there in the fan until the next afternoon when he got home.  He pulled into the driveway, got out of his car and went straight into that stall and grabbed it out of the fan.  

Hopefully he is home for a while now so that the shenanigans can stop.  It would be nice if New Jersey also got its life together and stopped being stupid with the weather.  The heatwave we had this past week was exceedingly brutal.  Below is a video from the other day where after standing under their fans all day, I hosed each of them off then turned them out in the other pasture so I could drag the one they were in.  They all took turns rolling then the girls went tearing around like they had no sense.  Wes just watched them.  It's too hot for that nonsense as far as he is concerned.  Once they were done, Klein ran to the gate and nickered at me like "Ok, stalls are clean, pasture is dragged, we are done playing, let us back over there."  I opened the gate and they all went running back into their stalls to be under their fans.

A post shared by Stacey C (@jumpingpercheron) on