Friday, December 31, 2010

Hope for a Happy New Year

Today is the last day of 2010, and I haven't posted in awhile. I've got two posts, stuck in the draft process, that I need to get finished, but I just haven't gotten the job done. And today in particular has been a bit of a rough one as far as Kaswyn has been concerned. Well, Kaswyn's ok today, but it's me that's been having issues.

I went to the barn today after being in California for a week visiting with my family. It was a lot of fun, but the whole time I was worried about Kaswyn's leg, and if he was getting out, if he was lame, etc. When I got there today the surgery site didn't look too bad. It's still not healed, but it's not horrible looking.

The shaved area of his skin, however, looked awful. I think all the wrapping gave him some skin crud. I decided to deal with that after I rode him. I was going to lunge him first to check soundness, but there were two people waiting to lunge (it's hard to ride when two people are lunging) so I just hopped on.

I completely tacked him up, and he got all excited. Tack = work, and he LOVES to work, so we was impatient in the cross ties as I got his bridle out. He didn't want to stand still when I tightened his girth or pulled down my stirrups, but he stood nicely for me when I mounted. He was a bit full of himself walking, but I couldn't feel any lameness.

Then I asked for the trot. Oh, THERE is the lameness. Got it.

So we just walked for ten minutes. Then I gave that scurfy skin a good scrub and put Nolvasan cream on it. Then I put Dermagel on the surgical wound, and put him away. Then I cleaned my saddle, conditioned it, and put it away.

And when I say that, I mean I put it in my tack locker that isn't with the rest of my brushes and stuff. It's away, in a place where I won't see it all the time. I think it might be there for a long time.

See, I think Kaswyn might be done. He is lame, and he still is hypersensitive on the back of his pastern. I thought maybe that sensitivity was just on the skin, so I tried putting Vagisil on it (it's a powerful topical numbing cream), but that didn't seem to take the pain away. He might be broken forever and that thought just tears me apart.

The whole time I was cleaning his tack I was trying not to cry. And then on the way home I was trying to hold it together. I called Craig to tell him I was on my way home, and he asked how my boy was. I told him he was lame and he could hear the impending tears in my voice. I held it together, but then after we hung up this song came on the radio -

Kind and Generous - by Natalie Merchant

You’ve been so kind and generous
I don’t know how you keep on giving
For your kindness I’m in debt to you
For your selflessness, my admiration
And for everything you’ve done

You know I’m bound…
I’m bound to thank you for it

You’ve been so kind and generous
I don’t know how you keep on giving
For your kindness I’m in debt to you
And I never could have come this far without you
So for everything you’ve done

You know I’m bound…
I’m bound to thank you for it

I want to thank you
For so many gifts
You gave with love and tenderness
I want to thank you

I want to thank you
For your generosity
The love and the honesty
That you gave me

I want to thank you
Show my gratitude
My love and my respect for you
I want to thank you

I want to…

Thank you
Thank you
Thank you
Thank you
Thank you
Thank you

And, of course, I finally cried.

Not the sniffly, softly tearing crying where someone offers you a tissue. This was hard-core, full on sobbing, can't catch your breath, where someone says "Oh my god, what the hell happened?" Or, "It's not the end of the world, pull yourself together!"

You see, I'm not a crier. I'm not weepy and I certainly don't cry in front of people, not if I can help it. Crying is something I do alone - in the car, in the shower, or locked in the storeroom at work (yes I've done that). So I cried my eyes out and came home. Craig asked how I was and I couldn't even speak. He said "That bad, huh?" and I just nodded.

I ate lunch and thought about Kaswyn. Yes he might be done, but I might also be jumping the gun. the fact is, he's not healed yet and still has some inflammation in the area. When he was at Doc's for those few days and they eliminated all the inflammation, Kaswyn was sound. So maybe, just maybe, once he heals and the inflammation is gone he will be okay.

I got in the shower, and didn't cry. Maybe this will resolve and I just have to be patient. If he's still lame, maybe he won't hurt if I don't ride him much and maybe I'll be able to let the showing and training part of our partnership go.

Maybe there is a chance for Kaswyn and I in 2011.

Oh, and thank you, Kaswyn. I love you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Leg pictures and video

Here are the current pictures of Kaswyn's leg.

First, the lateral incision site, meaning the outside of the leg.

Looks pretty good, right? You can just see two little areas of pink, but the rest is totally healed.

Next, the medial side. That's the side that teh surgeon said was a mess of scar tissue, nerve re-growth, and lots of inflammation and hypersensitivity.

Looks pretty icky. It's still open, but flat. By that I mean it doesn't have a huge canyon or hole down in there, but there is still exposed "meat". It also has that dark strip that I think is just dead, necrotic tissue that I'm hoping will fall off once the skin under it heals.

Besides that, Kaswyn is hyper sensitive in the area directly between the incisions at the back center of the pastern. Here is a short video showing that -

I sent all of this to the surgeon, so I'll post her opinions when she gets a chance to review the info. Right now I'm not very hopeful. I had the blacksmith pull Kaswyn's shoes so he can start going out in the snow. I can tell that he doesn't have any feeling in that heel, which is good, and that the medial incision is not painful (even though it looks bad), but that hyper sensitive area worries me. A lot.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yellow and Frozen Blue do not make green

It's 23 degrees at the barn. There is no bathroom, but there is a Port-A-Potty. Things... freeze.. in there.

The portable heater that someone put in there = WIN! It doesn't keep the "down below" from freezing solid, but is does make a nice warm breeze across the seat, which is awesome.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What's with that leg?

It's been awhile since I've posted. That's because I've been so busy it's insane.

Work has been super stressful and very very busy. It's essentially 8 hours of go-go-go, sometimes more if the doctors run late, or the patients are late due to the weather. Then after work it's a mad dash to the barn to unwrap Kaswyn's leg, walk him, and wrap it up again.

Update on the leg is that it's not healed on the bad side. The good side is totally healed and looks great. The bad side, the side that the surgeon said was a mess of inflammation, scar tissue, and re-grown nerves, is still open and ugly. It's healing slowly from the inside out, but I think there is a strip of necrotic tissue on top that needs to eventually slough off.

There isn't a lot of swelling, but there is an area between the incision sites directly at the middle on the back of the pastern that is slightly swollen and SUPER sensitive. If I even touch it lightly with my finger Kaswyn jerks his leg. I'm not sure if this will go away when the area finally heals or if this is permanent.

I called the surgeon to ask her what her thoughts were, and she said that she'd like me to take pictures and send them to her. So I'll go out to the barn today and take some photos and maybe a short video showing how sensitive Kaswyn's leg is in that area.

Kaswyn did have another inflammatory episode that caused some lameness about ten days ago so I put him on 10 days of antibiotics. The wound is much more healed now and the inflammation has gone down a lot. I still wrap the leg every day because it's not healed enough to leave open yet. But it's slowly getting better.

In addition to work I've got Christmas stuff to deal with. Plus all the laundry and other household duties to get done. At least Craig cooks. I'm very lucky there.

Well I'm off to the barn again. I'll post the pictures and the video of the leg later. It's kind of gross looking right now, but it looked a lot worse ten days ago!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Horse Husbands, here's some food for thought.

These last few weeks have been a crazy time for Kaswyn and I. They've also been trying for my family. Fortunately, Craig recently did some thinking about my horse that has led to an epiphany of sorts on his part. I think there are those who can benefit from this line of thinking, so I asked Craig to write it up so I could post it.

Here it is -

Hi. Sheri’s husband here.

I generally don’t poke my nose into this odd and mysterious world of horse people, but Sheri's asked me to write a guest post concerning a recent revelation I've had. An epiphany, actually.

I should start by admitting that I don't much like Sheri's horse. I know that's blasphemous talk, and I certainly don't expect any of you to take my side on this. I know you'll probably say "You don't ride, you can't understand" and, to a degree, you're right. But I have my own hobbies that I'm passionate about, and they require a certain amount of dedication and time commitment, so I think I have a baseline understanding, even though I agree that I'll never share the deep connection Sheri has with her horse.

But, in my own defense, this isn't a knee-jerk "what's that gonna cost?" or "I never see you anymore!" thing (even though that has certainly played a part) but, rather, an attitude that has developed over time.

When we first started dating, Sheri made it clear that she and her horse were a package deal. And if I couldn't deal with her riding, then it wasn't going to work between us. And for the first five years it really wasn't much of an issue. Or, at least, not as big an issue as it would become. I wasn't passionate about riding or Kaswyn, but I didn't object, either. I was pretty neutral. Riding made Sheri happy, so why not? Yeah, it cost money for stabling and feed, but it wasn't causing financial difficulties, really.

But, in the past five years, Kaswyn has become a real money pit. He is constantly lame, and the efforts to diagnose, manage and treat this lameness has run up hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars.

This stresses Sheri and makes her miserable. And I don't want my wife to be miserable.

Being a man and approaching things like a man, my thinking is that if you remove the stress-causing element (Kaswyn) then things would be better. This kinda came to a head recently with the whole affair of taking Kaswyn down to OSU, having him develop mysterious blood issues, postponing surgery, Sheri having to fetch him on Thanksgiving Day thereby missing dinner with my family, then having him develop new mysterious issues only to be rushed to another vet for an overnight stay… Sheri was a stressed-out, crying mess for most of a week.

Mulling these events over in my head, I started to form an analogy that would help convey to Sheri just why this series of events angered me so.

I thought: Let’s say Lily (our oldest daughter, who is now only seven) were 16 years old and dating a boy who she just LOVED. But every third date or so she came home in tears. And she was constantly spending excessive amounts of money on him. And even when things were good, she was still stressed and nervous, just waiting for when things turned bad again. If this were the case, there’s no way that Sheri or I would stand for it. We’d tell her that this guy is bad for her, and she should dump him, that there’s plenty of other fish in the sea. And even if she told us, "But I really love him! I need him in my life! I’d be less without him!" we’d stick to our guns.

Now here comes the epiphany part.

As I thought it over I realized that it wasn't a very good analogy. It would be closer to the case if Lily were an adult and married to a man who was suddenly faced with a serious and potentially life-altering issue. Cancer. Parkinson’s. Macular degeneration. Something like that. If THAT were the case, I realized, I wouldn’t tell her to dump the guy. I’d tell her that she’s in a relationship that she committed to a long time ago and that she should stick it out, support him.

Don’t give up hope.

This completely altered my perception of the situation. I mean, I still don’t like to see my wife unhappy, and I don’t like it that such a large percentage of our household income is spent on one animal… but now I think I have a tiny bit more understanding of what’s going on in Sheri’s head. And, for maybe the first time, I think she's doing the right thing.

Also, check out this post at Behind the Bit for a similar blog post about horses and husbands.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Not good. Not good at all. Part 4.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Kaswyn came home last night. Luckily my friend the barn manager was able to go pick him up with her truck and trailer. Doc was there when we arrived and he said my horse was doing great. Here's three great things that I found out from Doc -

1) He said Kaswyn was sound. He jogged him to check soundness and there was no lameness. Wowza. I didn't expect that.

2) He spoke with the OSU surgeon and both docs are sure that this inflammatory episode won't effect the success of the surgery. This is a huge relief, because I was fretting that this episode would really screw up all he had just gone through.

3) The computer system was down, so I got to pick up my horse and NOT pay the bill! Woohoo! Okay, okay, I know they'll just bill me so I'll pay it later, but it was kind of nice not to have to pay it right then.

Kaswyn isn't on any oral antibiotics because he got injectable antibiotics while he was at Doc's. He's to get some bute, but Doc was kind of vague about how much and when so I'm thinking it's not super critical. Even so, I'm going to give him 1 gram twice a day for two days, Then once a day for two days, then as needed I guess.

So what actually happened to Kaswyn? Nobody is coming right out and saying it, so I'm going to. I caused this. Here is what I think happened.

He had surgery on Wednesday, and OSU said don't change the bandage for a few days. So I changed it on Saturday. The incisions looked a little weepy to me, so I washed them gently with Nolvasan surgical scrub and sterile water.

This was error #1. I found out later that getting the incisions wet is a bad idea, because bacteria and get wicked up into the wound and cause infection.

I dried the area with sterile gauze squares, and applied some Dermagel. I love this stuff for regular wounds, so I thought it would be fine for the incisions. It's supposed to help with inflammation and infection. I don't know if this had any effect one way or the other.

Then I re-wrapped the leg, but instead of wrapping it like they had wrapped it at OSU, I just wrapped the fetlock and pastern with a thick cotton strip and secured it with vetwrap.

This was error #2. I should have wrapped the leg exactly as they had done it, using a thick cotton strip around the pastern, then some gauze to hold it in place, then wrapped the whole leg with a large cotton, and then wrapped the whole thing in a standing bandage. Because I only wrapped from the fetlock down, the wrap shifted up from the hoof and down from the fetlock, creating a band of vetwrap right around the pastern. And rubbing right on top of the incisions. Also, since the bandage slipped up, dirty bedding got under the wrap and up around the incisions.

Error #3? I decided not to go to the barn on Monday. If I had gone and looked closely at the bandage, or even decided to change it, I might have seen that the wrap had slipped or that it was getting swollen. But I might have also tried to clean it again, and that would have been bad.

Doc didn't say exactly what he thought happened. I personally think the incisions got infected (because I washed the incisions) and then the whole area got swollen, then further irritated by the wrap slipping (because I incorrectly wrapped the leg) and his pain was caused by the inflammation from the infection and the irritating wrap. Tuesday night when I called her the doc at OSU told me that I might not even be able to touch the leg without sedating Kaswyn because after having surgery on the nerve, severe inflammation in that area would be extremely painful.

So this was my fault.

But I'm going to forgive myself, say that I learned a LOT, and move on. Neither doc thinks this is going to mean anything in the long run, so I'm going to attempt to get over it. However it's very hard to know you caused pain to your horse by doing a dumb things.

So for now Kaswyn still has another week of stall rest, then two weeks of hand walking before he can go outside. I feel sorry for the boy. But at least he's sound, which means he's not hurting right now. And that's GOOD.

Not good. Not good at all. Part 3.

Part 1
Part 2

We walked into the main exam room. The staff started taking his sheet off, taking his temp, heart rate, all of his vitals, and unwrapping the leg. Then Doc came in. I had briefed him on the phone so he knew what was going on. He asked what medications he had gotten, and I told him about the 2 grams of bute 45 minutes ago.

He examined the leg, then ordered two kinds of antibiotics, banamine (for the pain and the swelling) and dexamethasone (steriod anti-inflammatory). He injected Kaswyn with all four, then gave specific instructions on how he wanted the leg wrapped.

Five minutes later Kaswyn looked better already. I said "I'd like him to spend the night here." and Doc said "Oh sure." and I said "I don't care how long he stays...." and Doc said "Me either. We'll keep him here until we get this cleared up. Don't you worry"

But I DO worry.

I asked him if he thought I did the right thing or if I over-reacted. He said "Of course you did the right thing - did you see how lame he was?"

We walked Kaswyn over to a stall and they fed him some dinner. He was already putting much more weight on his leg, and the shaking had stopped. He looked SO much better. It was such a relief.

I said to Doc "So what are you thinking is going on?" and he said "Infection? Possibly. Irritation from the wrap? Also possible. But don't worry, he'll be fine."

I said, tearing up again "But I DO worry."

He put his arm around my shoulders and said "Look, we're going to take care of him. Go home tonight and try to relax. Have a glass of wine or something. We'll call you tomorrow. He'll be just fine. You did the right thing."

So I left Kaswyn there, and came home.

Unfortunately, when I got home my husband was pretty upset. Not exactly at me, but just at the situation. The past week has been filled with horse drama... EXPENSIVE horse drama at that. And when horse drama happens he has to be basically a single parent while I sort it all out. I know it's unfair, and it's costly, and I'm sorry it sucks so much. I know he just hates to see me hurting and upset.

Then my dad called, and we chatted about some other stuff, and just before we got off the phone he said "So, anything else going on?" So I gave him the simple version. I could just hear it in his voice. Not "Oh, your poor horse." or "I'm sure that's very hard for you." but "How much is THAT going to cost you?"

See, I'd like to say that I'm rich or something, and that spending lots of money on my horse's vet bills is no big deal. But that is not the case. Like most horse owners, we're in debt. It's really hard sometimes to know that people don't really understand why I do what I do for my horse. However, I understand why my actions are puzzling.

Without my horse, we wouldn't be in debt.

Without my horse, I'd have more free time.

Without my horse, we could go on family vacations that we could afford that don't involve staying at a relatives house.

Without my horse, my house would be cleaner.

Without my horse, I could cook dinner every night (Ok, maybe not every night. Nobody, including me, likes my cooking that much)


Without my horse, I'd be less whole.

Maybe that's the only thing that people really need to understand.

To be continued...

Part 4

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Not good. Not good at all. Part 2.

Part 1

I called my local vet practice. At first I wanted to see if I could get a vet out to see Kaswyn, but I only wanted Dr. B or Dr. G to see him, and Dr. G doesn't make farm calls. They were trying to get something to happen for me, since I was crying on the phone and they knew it must be bad.

Finally I asked if I could just come there and have Dr. G see him. It was 4:45 pm. Doc said he would be there, to come on over.

Thankfully one of the trainers at the barn happened to be there to see all of this unfolding, and had generously offered to haul me anywhere I wanted to go. She saw me melting down and knew that I could use a little help. So I took her up on it.

We loaded Kaswyn into her trailer and headed off to Dr. G's. It would take us about 40 minutes to get there, but that's a much shorter drive than the 2.5 hours it would have taken to get to OSU.

Oh, one more stress added to this whole thing? My phone was running out of charge. In fact, it died while I was talking to my trainer on our was to Doc's. So I had no way of getting a hold of anyone to tell them where Kaswyn was, when he'd be back, or what was going on.

We got to Doc's, and got Kaswyn off the trailer. The staff over there is great, and they were waiting at the door for us. "Bring him in!"

Kaswyn walked off the trailer, three-legged lame. He looked awful.

To be continued...

Part 3

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Not good. Not good at all. Part 1.

A quick recap -

I took Kaswyn to OSU on Monday. He was supposed to have surgery Tuesday.
His bloodwork Tuesday morning came back with low white count, so the surgery was postponed until Wednesday. I left him in Columbus.
The surgery went well and I drove down and back to Columbus to fetch my horse on Thanksgiving.

I went out Friday, Saturday and Sunday to see him. He's on complete stall rest for two weeks after the surgery, so I was just able to go into his stall and visit with him. On Saturday I changed the bandage.

Sunday I saw him, and then took Lee (buckskin half-arab gelding) to a schooling show.

On Monday I stayed home and got some things done around the house.

Today, Tuesday, I got a call from the barn manager (she's a friend, too) in the afternoon. She said Kaswyn wasn't putting weight on the leg, so she unwrapped it because it looked like the vetwrap had slipped down and was maybe too tight around his pastern - right over his incisions. She wrapped it back up and said he should be fine until I got there.

I got to the barn and Kaswyn wasn't putting weight on the leg. In fact, his whole leg was shaking. I took him out of the stall and unwrapped the leg. It was very swollen and the incisions were weeping a little bit of blood and serum.


I called the OSU surgeon, who said she was alarmed that the leg was swollen and non-weight bearing. She said give him 2 grams of bute, ice the leg (but don't cold hose it, as getting it very wet can allow bacteria to get into the incisions) and see how he is in the morning.

She said I could clean the incisions with a bit of surgical scrub and a small amount of saline. Then wrap the leg up, not using vetwrap but a standing wrap. She also said that he was probably in so much pain she wasn't sure I'd be able to do anything with the leg without sedatives. She said if I was really concerned I could bring him down there, since they are open 24 hours a day. I told her I'd call her in the morning.

I cleaned the incisions as gently as I could, then tried to wrap ice packs around the leg. As I was doing this, Kaswyn was really pulling his leg away in pain, but was trying really hard to be still.

God I love that horse.

Anyway, after I had the ice packs wrapped to his leg, he started breathing hard and sweating. Then he starting shaking. His foot was hot, he was in pain. He looked all sucked up in the guts too. Things were going downhill and I needed to do something. NOW.

To be continued...

Part 2

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Thanksgiving, the short version

Very shortened, because I'm seriously beat.

Went to work this morning for about and hour, and while I was there OSU called and said I could come fetch Kaswyn who was eating, pooping and looking like he was ready to go home. The lovely Laura Goldman of the USA Para Dressage Team said she'd keep me company on my drive.

I picked her up at 10:30 am. The drive to Columbus is 2.5 hours. I got home at 7:00 pm. You know how that goes . . . a five hour drive turns into an 8.5 hour endeavor when horses are involved.

It rained the whole way down and back. It only stopped when we pulled into the barn at home, and just long enough for me to unload Kaswyn and his stuff. Then it picked up again. When I left the barn he was in his stall, bandaged, blanketed, and content.

Had to park the trailer (borrowed from Z, thanks lady!) in the dark, which was tricky since it's in a tight spot and needs to be parked correctly so that other people can hitch their trailers. I hope I did it right.

So Kaswyn gets complete stall rest for two weeks, liberally sprinkled with bute for a week or so. After two weeks he gets hand walked twice a day for ten minutes. Oh how we LOVE to hand walk! Whee! Then it's back to full work.

Prognosis is really unknown at this point. We'll know in a month.

Oh and I missed turkey dinner. Not like it's a big loss, since I don't really like turkey, but I miss my family. I just hope my hubby brings me some of his home-made cranberry sauce and leftover rolls from his mom's house. Cause that sounds pretty good right now.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday update - 4:00 pm

The surgeon called me at 4:00 to tell me the surgery was over and that Kaswyn was on his feet but not yet walking. She said he looked like he was doing well.

The surgery went well but was challenging. The other surgeries she had done were on horses who had never had a neurectomy, so there was more scar tissue in Kaswyn's leg than she was used to seeing. She expected it though, so it's not like it was a shock, it just made isolating the nerve more challenging. Also the nerve ending was higher up the leg than usual, since it had been cut once before and had retracted up the leg like a cut rubber band would. She also had to work around the neuroma, so the incisions were bigger than she would have liked, but she thinks they will heal up just fine.

She said she hopes that this will completely solve his lameness, but cannot totally guarantee it since there was so much scar tissue and visible nerve re-growth. If those nerves grew up and back towards the upper part of the sensory nerve then they might be able to supply some feeling to the foot. The only way to know is to wait and see.

Tomorrow morning they will call me with an update. If he is eating and pooping normally I will be able to go pick him up.

I'm ready to go get my boy. I hope he's going to be better after all of this.

Now I have dishes to do and little girls to play with. :) I'll update more tomorrow.

Wednesday updates - noon-time

Last night's blood work came back normal, as did this morning's.

Surgery should start at 12:00 (noon). They will call me when he is back up on his feet.

I'll update again when I know something!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I don't have good news to post.

I'm going to make this short, since I've got a pounding stress headache...

I took Kaswyn to OSU last night and dropped him off. This morning as I was heading over to the vet hospital the surgeon called and said his blood work came back with a low white cell count. She said this is indicative of an increased amount of endotoxin in his bloodstream, which can develop into diarrhea that could potentially be fatal. She did not feel comfortable operating on him today, even though she says he appears to be fine in all other aspects. She will repeat the blood work this evening and tomorrow morning, since it's possible to get a low count with a normal sample as kind of a fluke. If the white count is normal both times, she will operate. If it is not, then she will begin treating him for the endotoxins and he will stay at the hospital until his condition stabilizes (when the white count is normal). Then I have to take him home for two weeks and we can try this again.

I debated staying in Columbus but she said that even if she did the surgery tomorrow that she would want to keep him until Thursday just to make sure he was okay. So the earliest he could come home is Thursday, and he might have to stay longer until his white count is up enough.

I decided to leave him there, since I really should be back at work tomorrow. I cried for an hour and a half on the way home. Now, I'm not a weepy kind of girl, and I hate for people to see me cry, so it was really best that I cried in the car without anyone there. Now my eyes are all red and puffy - I look fabulous!

Anyhow, there is a long list of things that could have caused this, but a few are - shipping stress, change of environment, and antibiotics. Well, I had just driven him 2.5 hours to get down there, he choked on December 1st and then was on 10 days of antibiotics. So, yeah, great.

Right now I'm waiting to hear about this afternoon's blood work. I hope they call soon. Not knowing is really hard for me. And thinking about my poor boy down there alone without me makes me so sad. I asked the student who is assigned to him if she could get him out and walk him around a bit if he had to be there for a few days. She said she would.

So that's the update. I wish it were good news. But right now, it's not so great.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In the dog house. Part 3.

Part 1
Part 2

Macey started screaming "NOOOO!! MEGAMIND! I WANNA SEE MEGAMIND! WHAAAA!!!"

I said "Nope. And you know what? If you're going to have a fit please go to your room to have it."


So I picked her up, literally kicking and screaming, and deposited her in her room, where she continued to wail and thrash about.

I went back downstairs and Lily was wide eyed, and said quietly "Do I miss the movie too?"

Hmm. Lily hadn't done anything wrong, so it seemed sucky to punish her too. Meghan was on her way over, so I gave her a quick call. She agreed to take Lily with her and her son to the movie. I gave Lily money and instructions that she should be very good for Meghan. She promised she would be.

Macey was still wailing and kicking the wall in her room. I got out the timer and went upstairs.

"Macey, you have two minutes to calm down." I set the timer for two minutes and started it. "When this goes off, if you are still having a fit, you are getting a spanking." She screamed "NOOO!!" I put the timer in the hallway and went downstairs.

Ten seconds later, all was quiet. I waited another 30 seconds and went back up to try and talk to her. That ended with her throwing another fit, so I stopped talking, set the timer again, and went back down the stairs. Quiet again in ten seconds. We repeated this little dance for about ten minutes. Finally she stopped having a fit and just cried quietly.

Meghan showed up to get Lily. I allowed Macey to come downstairs, where she watched from the front door and cried (but not wailed) while we loaded Lily's booster seat, and then Lily into Meghan's car. Meghan's son said "Is Macey really not coming?" and Lily said "Nope, she blew it!" I thanked Meghan for taking Lily, and they drove away.

I went back inside, and Macey threw another fit. Again with the timer two or three more times, and she finally got it.

She was done. I held her and told her I loved her, and that I wanted her to see the movie, and I was sorry to have to do this. I made sure she understood why she was missing the movie. She was tired after all that, so we snuggled in bed and napped until they got back.

That was Saturday. I told Macey that if she behaved herself, listened to me, and didn't throw any fits, that I would take her to see the movie on Monday.

She kept her word, and I kept mine. The movie was funny, I got a little one-on-one time with Macey, so it was a win-win. And I think both girls will now believe me when I say I'll do something. I know that since then I don't have to repeat myself as often, which is nice.

Have we seen the last of the fits? I doubt it. But I think she's more aware of it, and she is working on it. That's all I can ask.

Now if I could just say I won't rake anymore. THAT would be progress.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In the dog house. Part 2

Part 1

Macey has been throwing a lot of fits lately. And tending to be lax about listening to me. Both girls, in fact, are a little too casual about blowing me off the first time I tell them to do something. When Craig tells them, they tend to listen a bit better, mostly because he'll put them in time out or give them a butt swat faster than I will.

This weekend Craig was out of town all day on Saturday, and I had to work in the morning. After I was home and the babysitter left, the plan was for my friend Meghan to come over with her son and we'd all go see a movie - Megamind. The girls knew they were coming over, and they were getting a bit rambunctious. I told them multiple times that they needed to settle down, eat lunch, and behave.

Macey had already had a fit about something, and truthfully she is much too old to be stomping around crying at the top of her lungs. She had stopped all this last year, but somehow it's crept back in to her repertoire. And Lily had already stomped her foot at me once and sassed me, so I gave the girls a warning, saying that I didn't like their behavior and they had better straighten up or we'd call off the movie.

Okay, okay, they said. We'll be good.

Three minutes later, Macey jumped on her sister who was lying on the couch. Lily yelled "Get off me, Macey!" and Macey just laughed. I said "Macey! Get off of your sister!" She did not. I yanked her off of Lily and said "Okay Macey, you just lost TV."


Macey had a huge tantrum. I said "Oh, you're going to throw a fit? You want to lose the computer too?"

"Nooo!", she screamed, throwing herself on the floor, kicking her feet. Yeah, it was one of THOSE kind of tantrums.

At that point I reached critical mass. I had been up very early for work, and I was sick of her crap.

"Fine. That's it. No movie"

That's when Macey lost her little five-year-old mind.

To be continued...

Monday, November 15, 2010

In the dog house - Part 1

This past week both Macey and I have gotten into trouble. Her more so than me, but she got more of a reward for changing her behavior (since I didn't change mine or even agree to).

Here's how I got busted.

My back can only take so much twisting before it starts to hurt. It's mainly the motion you make while sweeping, or raking. I don't particularly like doing either, but there are times when it's necessary. Like this time of year.

Craig usually rakes all the leaves because he hates it when I hurt my back and hobble around for a day or so. But here's the thing about that - he doesn't like to rake either, and really hates to rake anything complicated, like around and under bushes, or in the drainage ditch, or the window wells... you get the picture. He'll do the vast expanses of lawn, but mostly blows off the pain in the rear stuff. I like to have those all raked, so some years I just ignore it, and some years I bite the bullet, risk having a spat, and do it myself.

Here is how it went this year. Craig call me after I spent about 90 minutes raking the piddly stuff around the yard without his knowledge.

Craig: Hey, I see you called me?
Me: Yeah, I did.
Craig: (pause) What did you want?
Me: Um, well, I was looking for something.
Craig: ...and? Did you find it?
Me: No, but it turns out I didn't need it.
Craig: Well, what did you need?
Me: Zip ties, but I used something else so don't worry about it.
Craig: What did you need them for?

Can you tell I was trying NOT to tell him that I broke the rake?

Me: Well, I kind of broke the rake. But I fixed it with duct tape, so don't worry about it. But we need a new one.
Craig: Sheri, don't even tell me you were raking.
Me: Well, yeah, kinda, but not for that long and I just got the stuff that you hate to do.
Craig: You shouldn't be doing ANY of it. And you raked so much you broke the rake??!
Me: Well, you know when the pile of leaves gets really big... (ooh, maybe not the best choice of words there...)
Craig: (sounding exceedingly more annoyed) Uh huh.
Me: Instead of trying to move it with just my arms, you know how I put the rake against the pile and push it along, like a snow plow? Well, I did that and pushed too hard and the rake broke. But I put it back together, and it's all fine now...
Craig: I can't even talk to you right now. I need to go. (sounding livid now)
Me: Okay... well, see you when you get home...
Craig: Fine.

Truthfully, I didn't rake long enough to hurt myself (well, not much anyway) and I think the yard looks better. I did piss off my husband in the process, and that's not good. But we don't need to have this argument for another whole year, so that's something. Craig doesn't get why I care if all the leaves are raked perfectly. I think I've gotten forgiveness, if not understanding of my obsession with having a clean yard.

Now Macey, that little girl got in trouble with me. And it wasn't pretty.

To be continued...

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Move. Part 5.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Kaswyn was choking. Now, I had never seen a choke before, but I thought Albert was choking once (I wrote about that here). Based on what the vet has told me, this time Kaswyn was certainly choking. For reals.

He had gobs of stringy, foamy spit coming out of his nose, and every now and then he'd cough up a big glob of it. He also was trying to swallow but would just make a weird little strangling noise instead of actually swallowing. Then occasionally his whole body would shudder, he'd lower his head, invert his neck so that it was bent in the opposite way that it should be bent, and he'd wretch out a big glob of gunk. It was awful to watch.

My trainer was about to leave with her trailer to come and get us, but I called the vet first and told them they needed to send someone out fast. Then I let my trainer know. She said she was coming over anyway because she heard Kaswyn retching on the phone and she wanted to make sure he was ok.

Marge made her way over too, so just as the vet arrived there were four of us to help her - my trainer, her mom, Marge, and I.

First Kaswyn was sedated lightly. This actually went a long way to making him comfortable, since the vet said just relaxing the throat muscles helps. Then she passed a long tube up his nose and into his throat to try and dislodge whatever was stuck there. From the first globs that came out of the hose, she surmised that it was a big hunk of pelleted grain the Kaswyn decided not to chew enough and then swallow in one big gulp.

Once the tube had drained as much as it could, it was time to pump water in there to try and break up and loosen the clog. It took almost an hour of pumping water, draining, trying to advance the tube, pumping more water, more draining, etc, to get the clog broken up and pushed into his stomach. Poor boy got a bloody nose from it too, but with the big huge hose that had to go in there and all the manipulating that had to be done I'm not surprised.

When it was all over the vet said I should not move him to the new barn until Saturday (it was Monday) because moving them to a new environment weakens their immune system and that chocked horses were at risk for aspiration pneumonia. For the next two weeks Kaswyn would not be allowed to have any hay. He would have to eat alfalfa cubes with his grain, really soaked and sloppy with water. Towards the end of the two weeks he could go to wet hay for two weeks, then normal diet.

Since the risk of aspiration pneumonia exists with choked horses, Kaswyn had to be on 10 days of antibiotics. The vet also gave him a shot of banamine and gave me enough banamine paste for the following three days. This is to help any inflammation in his throat go down so that he won't have as much discomfort eating.

To check for pneumonia we had to check his temperature twice a day. If it gets to 102 degrees then we have to call a vet out immediately. She said even 101.5 would be cause to take his temperature more often, because usually if it gets that high then it's probably just going up.

So in the end, Kaswyn did not move on November first. But I did get him moved to the new place. He's been there since Friday and he seems to be settling in well. I've ridden him once, lightly, and he was just fine. He never spiked a fever or had any issues with eating his cubes. He went to eating wet hay yesterday and I'm sure he didn't have a problem.

I've ridden a few of the other horses there, including Lee, the buckskin half-Arab. I'm having a lot of fun. It's really nice to have people to ride with, or at least people to talk to. Most of the time at the other barn I would show up and ride the two horses and never see anybody. It got lonely. So I'm thinking this is great.

Sure, I've got the share the arena, which I never had to do before. But it's a bigger space so there is plenty of room for someone to lunge in one end and have two people riding also.

The drive is longer, and I'm not liking that, but the pros outweigh the cons. right now it looks like it's going to work out very well.

So what's next? Kaswyn's getting surgery at OSU on November 23rd to fix his painful neuromas. Right now he's sound due to the last serapin injection. Lets hope the surgery makes it permanent!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Move. Part 4.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

I told Susan I was moving Kaswyn, and I don't think she was happy about it. I can understand that. She liked having me around to talk to, and she had just gotten that trailer so that we could go out trail rides together. We hadn't been able to go much lately due to our work schedules, and I suppose we could still go, but then she'd have to come and get me. Possible, I know, but not as easy.

Then I told Marge. I was straight with her and told her that I was tired of working on the arena. She said she understood, and that she would do it but she just can't physically get it done anymore. She was sad to see me go and hoped that I was making the right decision. I would be sad to leave too, but it would give me more time to ride instead of doing arena work.

I think the worst thing was knowing I'd have to leave Albert behind. I love that little horse and he has SO much talent, and has made me a much better rider. But I know Susan won't move him, because she cleans stalls in exchange for board. Why would she move to a place where she has to pay board just so I can ride him? She can only walk on a horse because her back is so bad, so moving him would only help me.

I finally came to terms with leaving Albert by recognizing that he's 18, and he's not really thrilled with the places we are going in our training right now. He doesn't like flying changes and doesn't want to learn them. I could press the issue, but I felt like the last few months have really made him unhappy. And I am suspicious that he's got something brewing in the right hind. He's not lame, but he swaps leads a lot on the lunge line going to the right. So I guess it's best to let him retire. He's done some great things in his career, and I'd rather leave with him still liking me rather than have him dread me ride him by pushing the flying change issue.

I made arrangements to move him on November 1st. My trainer would come over and pick us Kaswyn up after work. The day before the move I went to the barn with Craig and we loaded up all my crap and moved it to the new place. When we got there I saw that there was a hay wagon loaded with hay in the middle of the arena. Hmm. Well, lets hope that's not there for a long time and that they were just in the process of moving the hay into the loft. Cause I'd hate to ride around it for weeks. I'll have to ask about that.

Anyhow, everything was a go. I showed up on Monday to get Kaswyn ready to leave. My trainer would be arriving in about 30 minutes and I wanted him to be clean and ready to go when she pulled in. I opened his stall door and right in the doorway of his stall I saw what looked like watery cat puke. "Huh??" I said out loud, and then looked at my horse.

Kaswyn turned his head towards me and I said "What the hell??" Then I realized what was going on, and I called the vet, trying not to panic.

To be continued...

Friday, November 05, 2010

The Move. Part 3.

Part 1
Part 2

I showed up at the new barn and the trainer (we'll call her AM) got the little buckskin half-Arab ready to ride. He was only three, but had spent two semesters at a local equestrian college learning how to be a reining horse. He wasn't cut out for that, so his owner sent him to AM to be a dressage horse. It was a good decision, since this horse moves much more like a dressage horse than a reiner.

I watched AM lunge and ride him, and he seemed sane enough so I got on him. He's really very nice. He doesn't exactly get connection to the bit, so we worked on that a little. And every time I tried to turn him onto a circle he dove for the inside. So we worked on that too. By the end of our 20 minute ride he was actually making a decent connection with my hand and was attempting to stay on the outside rein.

Then AM brought out her horse, an Arabian mare she's trying to sell (and has seince sold!). She told me she wanted to move her from being a Country Pleasure horse to a dressage/sport horse, but that she's HOT. She'd taken her to some dressage schooling shows and the most prevalent comment she got from the judges was "tense".

So I watched her ride the mare, and made some suggestions. Then I asked if I could get on her. It was true, this little mare had a lot of go in her, but she wasn't spooky or insane. She just knew that when a rider got on her back she was supposed to GO GO GO. That kind of "go" is good, but it has to be tempered with calm focus so that work can get done.

Like most Arabians trained for the main show ring, and not the dressage ring, this mare was used to backing off the bit. I worked with her for ten minutes or so and by the end she was kind of getting what I wanted with connection. Then AM got back on her and said she felt a difference.

This was FUN.

After she was done riding, AM started talking about how she thought I could really help her with some of her horses, because I speak her "Arab" language. It's true; I know how Arabians are trained for the main show ring so I know what they are used to. I know how they think, so I have a pretty good idea of how they will react to the things I do.

I also know where AM is coming from. I went from main-show-ring-Arab-girl to the dressage ring. I struggled with dressage concepts and had to figure out how they fit in with my horse and how he was already trained, and how I already knew how to ride. I made it work, and it was looking like my past experiences, both the successes and failures, could help AM and her horses.

We started the discussion of me moving to her barn, and about how I could help out with some of her horses. Not all of the horses at the barn are her training horses, or all Arabians. But the ones that she rides are all purebred or half-Arabs.

This could be a great opportunity for me to ride different horses and make myself a better rider. I also love to help people out. And AM is planning on taking horses to schooling dressage shows, as well as some A rated shows, and I'd be able to get a ride and stable with her and her friend TF, who also helps her with her horses.

Plus the buckskin, Lee, really had some potential. I like him.

AM also does all the turnout, so she said she'd be sure that Kaswyn would get out every day. So the bonuses here are full care, slightly cheaper board, 7 day stall cleaning and turnout, outdoor arena, a trail, new horses to ride, and people to go to shows with. The turnouts are flatter and not rocky, with safer fencing.

The negatives? No more overnight turnout in the summer. Probably less time outside, since at Marge's Kaswyn gets out all day long (or all night). Ten minutes farther from home.

And I'll have to leave my little Albert behind. And Susan.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Move. Part 2.

Part 1

One evening weeks ago I went to my trainer's barn to drop something off before I went to ride. We ended up chatting and I found myself not wanting to leave her place and go deal with the arena, which I knew was dry, dusty, and in need of a dragging. and pooped needed to be picked out of there and holes needed to be filled. I know that it's bad when I don't want to go ride. I told her what was going on in my head, and she and I started to brainstorm to find solutions.

Eventually I asked about a barn I know she teaches in, and it's a place that has Arabians. There is a trainer there but she's just starting to really get into dressage. She's been taking lessons from my trainer for a couple of years, so I had my trainer contact her and ask about board. I wasn't sure if I would move there, but I wanted to get more info.

We ended up going over to the barn to have a look-see. I'd actually been there before and had met the Arab trainer. I looked at a horse she had for sale when I was looking for Kaswyn. I remembered the barn and she remembered me.

This barn has an indoor and an outdoor arena, grass turnouts, round pens, and a trail around the property. And the arenas are maintained, so I wouldn't have to water and drag anymore. Still, I was hesitant.

My trainer had to leave, but I stayed and ended up talking for a while with the new trainer. She showed me a horse she had for sale, and the horse in the next stall caught my eye. A half-Arab buckskin. Ohhhh. He was three, and he was cute as a button. I said I'd love to see him go. She said sure, stop by the next Monday and I could watch him work, and ride him if I wanted.

Yeah I wanted to ride him! I told her I'd be there.

To be continued...

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Move. Part 1.

I'm moving Kaswyn to a new barn today.

I hate moving my horse, even when it's to a better situation. I hate moving all my crap. Why do I have so much stuff anyway? Every time I move him, more stuff ends up at home in my basement but I never seem to have less to move the next time.

I also hate moving him because I'm always afraid he'll be unhappy or at least stressed for the first few weeks. I'm sure it's like being the new kid in school for him, since he'll have to make new friends for turnout and figure out where he fits in the pecking order (the bottom, usually). And then I worry that the first night in his new stall will be scary for him, like a kid sleeping away from home for the first time.

Now I know he's not a kid, and he's not even a young horse. And he's lived in lots of different barns and gone to lots of shows so he'll be fine. But still, I worry. Because I love him and I don't want him to be unhappy.

But now onto the question I keep getting. Why am I moving him?

Well, that's complicated. I'm moving him out of a friend's barn. And I'm not happy there. It has nothing to do with the barn owner and my friend Marge, or Susan, her niece (and also my friend). In fact I feel rotten leaving them.

Here is the situation. Marge has been in the boarding and breeding business for a LONG time. She's ready to be done with it, and only has 9 of her 29 stalls filled with horses right now. And that is the way she wants it. I think she wouldn't have any horses on her property if she didn't have two of her own. She's tired of feeding every day, turning out every day, paying insurance and upkeep and all the hassles that come with boarding horses.

I am the only one who rides there. When I came back to her barn it became apparent that Marge wasn't going to deal with watering and dragging the arena. I mean, why should she put in that much time and effort for one boarder? All the other horses are pretty much retired and just get turned out every day. So it would be a lot of work for her, and I started doing it myself.

After almost three years I'm sick of it. I started not wanting to go out to the barn after work because I'd have to spend at least an hour (if not two) watering and dragging the arena at least once a week, if not more in the summer when the footing dries out. I want to just show up and ride and not deal with the arena.

Yes I'm paying board. But it's not expensive board, so I can understand not getting every little thing I want. I don't blame Marge for not wanting to do it. But now that I don't want to do it either it's time for me to go. I know she wouldn't agree to pick up the arena work just to keep me. She's looking for less work, not more.

So that is the major reason. The fact that the barn doesn't have an outdoor arena or anyplace to ride outside are also points that I considered. And the pastures are kind of muddy, not flat, and a bit rocky. Sure, Kaswyn's done fine with it, but I HATE scraping mud off my horse. I realize that he will roll in any pasture and get dirty, but this mud is pretty tenacious.

All this added up to me considering moving Kaswyn. Then, something tipped the scales and my decision to move was made.

To be continued...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Place

My job is pretty stressful. I'm an embryologist, which means I work in an IVF lab and I am responsible for the embryos of people hoping to have babies. It's a very expensive and emotional process, so even small errors are magnified. Needless to say I'm careful, vigilant, and very paranoid.

Yesterday I was involved in a very tense procedure that lasted about 45 minutes. When it was over I realized I had been clenching my jaw tightly the whole time. This resulted in a hummin' headache later that night.

So today when I realized I was clenching during another procedure, I stopped myself and tried to picture a "happy place". You know, that place that most people think of to calm them down and it's usually the beach or the woods or something like that.

The first thing that came into my head? A barn.

The fact that it was a barn didn't surprise me, it was which barn it was. Not my barn, or any barn my horse was in. It was an old barn in California where one of Blair's horses went after she disappeared (that whole story starts here, if you're interested). It was kind of a crappy place, and I don't have any really fond memories there, so I pushed it aside and thought of another place.

This time, a meadow where we had played broomstick polo with our horses. Broomstick polo is easy. Get on bareback (halter required, but a bridle? not really), grab a broom and a ball of some kind, like a soccer ball, make two goals out of rocks or sticks, and whack the ball around with the brooms. It was pretty there and we had fun and all, but still not what I was looking for.

Finally I got it. And it was more of a feeling of a time rather than a place. It was my years at Fremont Hills Country Club Stables. We weren't members of the country club, but that is where I learned to ride. I had no stress there. I didn't own a horse, or even a car for that matter (I was 12!) so I had no money woes, except trying to find a quarter to buy a lemonade out of the vending machine. I didn't have to worry about my horse being sound - I didn't have one. I just took lessons and cared for horses.

I rode, and I was. That's it.

Right now things are very stressful for me outside of work too. Dealing with moving my horse (which I hate doing), fretting about his lameness (although the shot he just got worked beautifully again, telling me that we're on the right track), and stressing about money (all those shots and x-rays and surgeries aren't free). Then making sure the girls do their homework, get to swimming on time, and still have time to be kids too. Lastly my medieval adventures continue to take up a lot of time and energy, and even though that's fun and just a hobby it still can stress me out when I impose goals for myself and then don't meet them. Letting people down is the worst.

And yeah, you guys want to hear about why I'm moving Kaswyn and where I'm going and about the new horse opportunities and the surgery. And I'll get to that I swear. But not having that written and posted is stressing me in a certain way too. :)

So right now I'm going to take a deep breath, finish my lunch so I can get back in the lab for a very busy afternoon, and try to remember what it felt like to be 12, horse crazy, covered in barn dirt, and not have a care in the world.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oh, my aching head...

I know I've not been posting, but I've got so much going on, and some things have happened very fast, I just haven't had time to get it all written down.

Some quick facts -

1) I'm moving Kaswyn to a new barn November 1st.
2) He's also scheduled for a surgery (hopefully the last one we'll have to do) in November at OSU.
3) I've got this project going on in the SCA that's keeping me busy and really forcing me to work outside of my comfort zone. It's great fun though.
4) There are some exciting horse opportunities for me on the horizon.

Right now I've got a MONSTER headache. Most likely a migraine. So I'm going to stop looking at this computer screen, beg the girls to play nicely (and quietly) and not fight until Craig gets home, and go lay on the couch.

Full details later. Pinky swear.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What's this all about?

Lately I've been thinking about this blog and what it's all about. And if I want that to change.

I started this blog for a couple of reasons. First, I thought it would be fun to write all my horsey exploits down as they go along so that later I could read about things that I had forgotten. That got me thinking about the things that had happened to me around horses years ago, and prompted me to write some stories. That was a lot of fun to do and to read, and I'm glad I got some of those memories down in words instead of just images in my head.

Second I thought it might be interesting for people to read about my life with horses, a job, and kids. It's certainly a juggling act and results in me feeling like I always short change somebody - husband, kids, horse, and even me (notice that the one thing that can't get cut short is THE JOB. Ugh.).

Then I entered "the contest" earlier this year and I met people I wouldn't have met or became friends with otherwise. First there was Stacey at Behind the Bit. She was a huge cheerleader for me during the contest, which was really great of her, since she entered to win the contest herself.
Her blog is fantastic. She blogs EVERY DAY. I have tried to do that and obviously it just doesn't happen (well it did once during NaBloPoMo and that was painful). Sure while I was at WEG I blogged every day, but as soon as I returned to real life that all went out the window. And Stacey blogs about current events, new products, and other important stuff in the horse world today. She also updates on the progress of her young horse. Interestingly, she has decided that her blog is not a money making venture, so she has no ads on her site. This is rare today, I think, considering how popular her blog is and the fact that she could proabaly cash in on it.

Then, at WEG, I met Jackie from Regarding Horses. Another great site, to be sure. Jackie also posts often, and posts lots of news stories. She had great WEG coverage too. Her site is different from Stacey's in that Jackie has ads and sponsors on her site. But still a blog that's worth hitting a couple of times a week.

Then I met Glenn from Horse Radio Network. He and Samantha Clark also gave great WEG coverage with their radio shows. Glenn also works on a number of other radio shows for HRN. If you haven't listened to any HRN shows, you should. They have something for everyone, and they are great.

Then Stacey posted about Hamish and Dave, blogging duo from Australia who came to WEG to blog from halfway across the world. Their video posts were funny and engaging.

It got me to thinking - would my blog be better if I were more connected to the equestrian world? Should I be surfing the net to find current equine news stories? Could I make my blog work for me and make some money?

I even talked this over with Jackie at WEG. She said that people like my blog for what it is - stories from a mom who has a horse. She said she liked to read how I make it work, because she knows she'll be in the same boat someday.

Still, I was conflicted. I was feeling inadequate. Compared to Stacey, Jackie, Glenn, and Hamish and Dave, my blog was small and crappy. But did I really want to change that? I hardly had time to blog as it was. How could I take on more?

I mulled it over and over in my head for days. Then, last night we had a bedtime issue. Macey has a reading list that she's supposed to fill out for every book she reads. Now, she's in kindergarten, and she can't read complicated books yet. There are some very simple books that she can get through, but most of the ones she wants to read she gets frustrated with because she doesn't know the words. She wants to do it herself, and this creates a problem.

She picked out two very small (and by small I mean they are like 4 inches square!) books and said she wanted to read those books but was upset that they wouldn't count towards her book list. Craig assured her they would. She said they would not. He said they would. She started to cry. Keep in mind she was tired and really just needed to go to bed, so everything was a big freakin' deal.

I came upstairs and took her into her room and tried to get the story about what was happening while Craig read Lily her story. I still didn't get what was going on, but I got her calmed down, got her to blow her nose, and by that time Craig was ready for her. They agreed to read her 4 inch books, and then Macey would cuddle with me in our bed.

Macey was in our bed and I ran downstairs to do something, and I came up less than five minutes later to find her asleep. So much for cuddle time, but she needed to sleep. I left her in our bed while I took a shower and got ready for bed myself. Craig came to bed later to move Macey (she's getting kind of big and heavy for me to move) and said to me "You know, this girl loves me but she needs you."

I said "You really think so?"

He said "Yeah, I do."

Of course that made me feel good. Sometimes I don't feel like the best mom in the world, but I know that I am the best mom for MY kids.

Later, thinking about my blog, I thought that maybe my blog fills a specific need. People read it for what it is right now, and if they want to read news and other stuff they will go to the other sites. I may not be the best writer, the funniest, or the most up to date, but I write about what I know. And that's good enough.

So this is what you get. I'm always open to suggestions about how to make my blog better. But don't expect huge changes, like hard core advertising or up-to-the-minute news stories. That's not what my blog is all about. And I'm okay with that.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Why I missed my kids

Yesterday I had this conversation with Lily, my soon-to-be seven-year-old daughter. We were in the car driving home from school, and it was lightly raining.

Lily: I like the rain.

Me: I do too. Plants and all the trees need rain to grow.

Lily: Yeah, and you know what else is great about rain?

Me: What's that?

Lily: It's the only water that animals get to drink that doesn't have fish poop in it!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Returning to life after WEG

It's been challenging coming back to work after having ten days filled with horses. I missed my family and my own horse, of course, but I could do without having to work. I like my job, but playing with horses and horse people is much more fun.

I have made some progress on the Kaswyn front. I asked Susan to put him on the lunge line while I was at WEG to do a lameness check and she said he looked weird to her. So on Monday I went out and lunged him and I could see it. He's not lame, but he's being careful with that left front. This was something he wasn't doing when he had the sarapin injection a few weeks ago. I think this kind of stride is what throws him off and eventually leads to him screwing up his hocks and back and everything else.

So I called Dr. G and he suggested I call this vet at Ohio State who is doing the study that involves injecting the nerve with a cocktail that will chemically deactivate the nerve without cutting it. It's sometimes called a chemical neurectomy, because the nerve signal is stopped by a chemical instead of severing it. I was able to get her on the phone today and I explained Kaswyn's history and she agreed that she thinks it's neuroma irritation that is causing his "lameness".

Her study is set to launch it's first big group of test subjects the week of October 25th. Kaswyn wouldn't be part of the study, as they are using a very tightly controlled group of horses. What she does is a surgery, much like a neurectomy, where the nerve is visualized and the cocktail injected directly into the nerve sheath. She said she has done four horses in a pilot study so far, and those horses were extremely lame before the surgery and were totally fine after. She offered to do the surgery on Kaswyn now or in late November once she had done the study horses and had three weeks of recovery data.

She really feels that this will work. The only thing is there is no data yet on how permanent this is. Still, her four previous horses have had no complications, and before Kaswyn has the surgery there will be ten (maybe twelve, I can't remember the number she said) more horses that will have had the procedure. The good thing is that it's a simple surgery, the incision is small, and there will be no new neuroma formation because the nerve won't be cut. It sounds like a good deal to me.

I spoke with Dr. G and he feels it's a good thing to do. So I'll bring Kaswyn down to Ohio State on a Sunday in November and drop him off, drive home, then come back Tuesday evening to pick him up. That way he'll get constant supervision after the surgery for 24 hours in case of complications.

I'm also going to repeat the sarapin injection in late October just to make sure that I see the same result the second time. I have a feeling that I will.

It's all very exicitng that this could potentially be the thing that takes the pain away from my horse. Since we're going to be working with a nerve that is already cut, I can't see how this could cause more problems. I know it's possible, but this vet at OSU thinks it's doubtful. And I'm going to wait for her to do her first group of test subjects and gather three weeks of recovery data before she does my horse.

Oh, and Albert is a mud wallowing pig. It's been raining here and that horse can't stay out of the mud. I'm going to get really sick of scraping the crust off of that boy. But we have to get back to work. I've got plans for Arabian Sport Horse Nationals in 2011, and he is part of that!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

WEG Day 9

Today all that was really going on was the stadium jumping for the eventing. It didn't start until 1:00 pm, so we took our time getting to the park. It was supposed to be like 50 degrees and sprinkling rain, so I put on three shirts and two pairs of jeans. It was a bit tight but it was the only way I was going to be warm and not have to buy more clothes. Sure I still had my nice blanket but I hate being cold!

We got to the park early and went to see the Alltech Experience. It was interesting, but really nothing fantastic, but free! Then we decided to pay the $10 and see the Arabian horse exhibit “A Gift from the Desert”. It included a lot of artifacts revolving around Arabian horses and horses in general dating back to 4000 BC. Like the Alltech Experience it was just okay. I wanted to get to the Al-Marah Arabian Horse Galleries but I just didn't have time. I know I'll be down here again for a horse show so I'll see it then.

Before the stadium jumping started I got to meet Glen the Geek from Horse Radio Network, and did a quick interview for his radio show that evening. Then we headed up to the stands to our seats. We had seats on one of the short ends of the arena but they weren't under the cover. We noticed during the freestyle night that there were like two rows of seats under the cover on the stadium side of the arena that nobody sat in, so we made the decision to try and sit there. It seemed like it was common that people would sit in available seats and just relocate to other seats if the actual owners of the seats showed up.

We were lucky and didn't have to move so we got great seats for the jumping! I got some video and photos, which I'm going to take home and process instead of trying to upload them now. Some of the highlights for the US team (that I can remember, and I hope I'm remembering correctly) – Buck Davidson had two rails down, Philip Dutton and Boyd Martin went clean, and Karen O'Connor had a refusal and a rail down. That pretty much put the US out of the medals. We ended up in 4th place for the team competition with no individual medals. Becky Holden was in 3rd place after cross country but didn't ride in stadium jumping. We don't know what happened, but we're thinking she might not have passed the jog this morning. I have no proof of this, so it's just speculation.

Right now I'm on the road, heading back to Cleveland, uploading this at a McDonalds! I had a great time, but I'm tired and I miss my family. I also miss my horse. I had my friend Susan stick him on the lunge line to see if he is still sound and she said he looked a little off. So I'll be dealing with that when I get home.

I hope to be checking in with Laura Goldman and her progress for the Para-Dressage. I'll update you all on that when I get it.

So that's it for WEG for me! Thanks to Purina for giving me four days of tickets and hotel, Equestrian Collections for sponsoring Laura Goldman, my friend Cindy for coming with me, and my husband Craig for single parenting for a week while I reveled in International caliber equestrian goodness.

Whew! What a ride...

Saturday, October 02, 2010

WEG Day 8

I woke up this morning and thought I wasn't going to be able to get out of bed. I felt like CRAP. But there was no way I was going to miss cross country. So we got me some cold meds and headed out to the park.

We spent most of the morning on the cross country course. In this case video would have been best, but photos were the best I could do (since my camera sucks it for video...well it takes good video but getting that video off the camera is painful...anyway..).

So here are lots of photos from the course. Starting at the beginning – in the starting box with American Becky Holden. The buzzer had just sounded and she sent her horse forward and onto the course.

Here are a few selected photos. All the jumps are HUGE!

The last shot is a rider from South Africa who jumped into the water and then lost his balance over the next fence and fell IN the water. He was wearing one of those inflatable vests that inflate when you hit the ground. The next picture is of him as he is being helped up. His horse boogied down the course and was caught further up the hill. It wasn't a bad fall and I think both horse and rider were okay.

There was at least one other fall on the course that I'm aware of, and I think it wasn't a bad fall either. There were refusals and other problems, but the only one I caught on film was just a horse that caught it's leg on a jump. He stumbled a bit as he landed but other than that it wasn't a problem. But you can see in this pic how his front leg is caught back on the jump.

The rest of the decent photos I uploaded to my Facebook page. In the beginning I was just figuring out the timing with this camera, so the first water jumps aren't very good. But by the end there I was getting some decent shots. Speaking of the end, here is a horse as he crosses the finish line.

As we were walking the course we saw obstacles that weren't being used for cross country that we think will be used for the cross country driving. The first picture is the driving stadium, and then next three are the hazards.

We spent four and a half hours walking the course. We walked six and a half miles and tried to see the whole course. At the beginning I was feeling pretty decent once the meds kicked in, but by the time we left I felt just awful. So we left before the last horses, including one USA rider, started the course. We went to dinner and then I laid in bed to write this post and download pictures.

Word is that the USA is in second place as a team and that two Americans are in the second and third spot overall. This is not confirmed, and I don't have any more details. My plan is to post this, take more meds and get into bed. Tomorrow is stadium jumping for the eventing and I want to feel better.

Tomorrow is also my last day at WEG! I hope I can enjoy it and not spend the whole time wishing I was napping.

WEG Day 7

Day 7 - Eventing Dressage and Dressage Musical Freestyles

This morning we didn't have any tickets to the eventing dressage, so we took the morning off and went to Woodford Reserve and got a tour of the bourbon distillery. I love bourbon, and their's is one of the good ones. I'm a bit of a bourbon snot, and people often say to me “Oh you like bourbon? You know what I love? Maker's Mark!” Ugh. Maker's Mark, in my opinion, is not good bourbon. It's harsh and isn't especially flavorful. Woodford is good, and Pogue is even better. There are others that I like too, but I'm pretty selective about my bourbon. Anyway...

Then Cindy and I went to lunch in the small town nearby the distillery with the guy responsible for my bourbon snottiness and his father-in-law (they went on the tour with us too). We had a delightful time, but then it was time to head to WEG and do some shopping.

When we got to the vendor section I was sorry that we had waited so long to shop. It seemed like most of the merchandise had already been picked over, and WEG isn't even half over yet! I hope they bring in some more stuff on site because there isn't going to be much left for everyone who comes for this weekend or next week.

Today was the very first day that I felt that there were just too many people. Every store was packed with people who may or may not have been actually buying things. It was supposed to get very cold for the evening session of dressage freestyles so I was looking for a reasonably priced sweatshirt. But I just couldn't find one that I even somewhat liked and I couldn't bring myself to spend $65 on an item of clothing I didn't even like. Luckily I saw the Kentucky Horse Park tent and they were selling nice large fleecy blankets for $34. Now that was something I could use again and I actually even liked it. Sold!

During our shopping we met up with Kelly Gage, local dressage clinic organizer, and Taya and Lisa, two of our friends from Cleveland. Then we sat on the lawn by the lake behind the main stadium and waited until it was time to go in to see the dressage freestyles.

Nina Ackerly met us over there too, with her $15 burrito. Yes, food prices here at the park are really outrageous. Taya had a terrible bowl of pasta for $12.50. She said if she'd have been in a restaurant she would have sent it back. A bottle of Gatorade was $4.50. And the way the food tent is set up isn't exactly the most efficient way. There are food counters where you order your food, or you can go to one of the refrigerator cases that have “grab-and-go” things like pre-made salads and sandwiches. Then you grab your drink from the coolers and go to the registers. In theory it should work, but the lines bottleneck SO badly at the registers that nothing is grab-and-go. It's all grab-and-wait.

Yes, I realize that thousands of people are attending this thing, and there are going to be crowds. And the prices are going to be high, and the lines are going to be long. I'm just saying that it's much worse than I had thought it would be. And it was mush worse today than it has been, and I'm not sure why that is. Because it's Friday and a lot of people came in today for the cross country tomorrow?

When it was time to get going we were herded into the stadium and Cindy headed to our seats. I decided that I wanted to hit the ladies room before it all started so I wouldn't have to leave during the rides.


Everyone had the same idea that I did. The way the bathrooms are set up in the stadium is there is a large walkway that has a bathroom entrance on either side. There were so many people just milling around and trying to get to their seats that it was hard to tell where the line for the bathroom was. So I was standing where I thought the line was, when this lady further up in the line was rudely told “You are NOT in line! The line is over there, you can't just cut in here!” So the lady says “It looks like a line here.” and the Pee-Pee Police lady said “Well it's not, and these people over here have been waiting!” and the other lady said “Well I've been waiting too!” and then they started to get into it.

The thing is, everyone had to pee. Fine. Fighting about it is not going to make anything better. And I don't know what Pee-Pee Police lady thought she was doing. She wasn't staff, didn't have any official capacity, and didn't seem to be waiting in line. I think most of the time these things work themselves out. Why did she feel the need to stir the pot?

The two ladies in front of me saw all of this going down and decided that line for the bathroom across the walkway looked much less hostile. So we got in that line. When we got closer to the actual entrance to the bathroom we saw that it was one of those deals where there are two doorways that lead into the same bathroom. So there was one line that split into two lines that snaked around into one bathroom with two lines of stalls. At some point people in front of us thought there was only one line and were only going into one side. So a few ladies in front of me went into the empty looking side of the entrance. Me and a few ladies behind me followed. Nobody said anything. Then people stopped following our line.

A few minutes later someone realized that our line was shorter and moving so they tried to follow us. And man, they got REAMED by the other line. We heard “Hey! You can go over there! It's one way! Enter here! You're cutting!” Just plain silly, people. I mean, at that point they were so close that I doubt it would have made that much of a difference as to when they got a stall. So confrontational!

When I finally made it into the actual room with the stalls it really stank like urine. It made me very nostalgic for the trailer potties in the Bourbon Village tent. Ah well. I think I got dirty looks from the hostile line standers while I was washing my hands. Maybe I imagined it. I have to say that tonight was the first night that I encountered any rude or nasty people. Up until now everyone has been really nice and chatty. Now it's all rude and catty. What happened?

I finally made it to our seats and this is what I saw.

Yup. Huge pole right in our line of view to the arena. We paid $140 a seat to watch a pole. Just ridiculous. And supposedly the stadium was sold out, so we wouldn't be able to find a better view. But here is the thing about that. We spoke to a hotel manager about tickets for WEG and he said that when tickets first went on sale that a bunch of travel agencies bought up lots of tickets in the hopes of selling ticket packages. Unfortunately not all of those packages were sold to actual people. So even though the venue had no tickets left and were technically “Sold Out”, there were still tickets that never found their way into any fan's hands. I know there were people who would have loved to have gone to that event. Pretty sad.

I'd have to say that probably 80% of the seats had butts in them. However the ladies next to us decided that they were going to move and not have to deal with Mr. Pole. So they moved down about 12 rows and to one side of the pole. So we followed and it was kind of understood that all of us would move if the real owners of the seats showed up and booted us. There were empty seats scattered throughout that section so we could have easily found other seats. But we never got the boot so we got great seats for the remainder of the performance.

At least we didn't get this seat.

Yep, some lady was sitting there. She paid $140 for that seat. Can you believe it? I can't. That's just wrong.

I did get pictures of all 15 dressage freestyles, and I know video would have been better but I decided to save myself the aggravation. In the end Edward Gal and Totilas from the Netherlands won the gold with a 91.8%

Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Horjris from Great Britain got the silver

and Steffen Peters and Ravel from the USA got the bronze.

We didn't stay for the awards ceremony because I wasn't feeling well. On Wednesday afternoon I was having issues breathing and I thought it was just an asthma thing. But it's slowly developed into a cold-type thing and I was starting to feel really rotten. It got cold during the freestyles and I was really happy to have my Kentucky Horse Park blanket, but sitting in the cold wasn't the best thing for me. Even though we left early and most people stayed for the awards, there was still a sea of people walking to the parking lot.

We decided to walk to the car instead of taking the shuttle because the line for that was longer than I've seen it in the past seven days. We finally found the car and we've now been sitting in the car, in line to leave the lot, for almost an hour. People are having parking lot rage and cutting across the lots, sutting in line, honking, and basically being buttheads. This really sucks because tomorrow is cross country day and it's going to be an early morning. And I don't feel well, so we'll have to see if I can get myself out of bed in time. We may have to miss some of the horse going.

On the plus side, sitting here in the car has given me time to pound out this long-winded blog post. You get to benefit from our aggravation. And the aggravation of thousands of others who just want to get the &%@# out of here and go home!

So today – tons of people, depleted merchandise, expensive eats, and more rudeness than I've seen all week. Tomorrow – Cross country... if I can make it. Nyquil, anyone?

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr