Favorite Horse App; SmartBlanket

You know what I love? I love the smell of rain. I do not, however, love muddy pens, crusty hocks, stained fur, slippery arenas and wet leather.

Welcome to southern California, where we are extremely unprepared for real weather and are now experiencing that thing which everyone has been hollering about; El Nino.

Ugh.

The theme of my day has been dropping my phone face down in the mud.

But at least it’s clean, expensive mud. Only horse people really know the difference between nice clean expensive dirt and old crappy poopy dirt. We have moved from the ghetto to pony utopia where the dirt is clean and pretty.

I digress.

Amongst all the precipitation I realized something. I never use my weather app. I don’t even know how to get to it. Or if I have one…

If I need to know the weather, I use my favorite Horse app, the SmartPak Smart Blanket app.

I guess it’s the simplicity of being able to see the temperature and chance of rain as well as blanketing suggestions for day and night in a nice organized line. I hate dealing with the chaos of most news and weather pages. No thanks, I’d rather see a picture of my horse instead of some media bull news story. And you enter information about your horse so the suggestions for blanketing are specific to that horse in its environment and living situation.

Anyways, if you have a smart phone, you should give it a shot. Everyone’s blanketing preferences are different but you may find a way to tweak it that works for you.

Have a great ride!

How horse people handle vacation; (P.S. I got engaged!)

This Thanksgiving we went on a road trip to Northern Arizona (DID YOU KNOW ARIZONA HAS MOUNTAINS??? I didn’t!) to visit our family. But on the way, we passed a few places which any self respecting horse-person could not pass up the opportunity to stop at.

Mind you, everything is cheaper in some parts of Arizona than it is in San Diego already so I was already inclined to go on a little shopping trip. To make things even better, of course the day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday which is the biggest (and most violent) shopping day of the year. Aside from maybe the day before/day of Valentine’s day when all the procrastinating men in the world simultaneously realize they forgot the roses.

This is pretty much the breakdown of our trip.

Before we left, we were convinced that there were going to be sub-arctic temperatures during our trip and prepared accordingly. We went out and bought ski jackets, hats and gloves, which I of course made sure would also be appropriate for riding in after the trip was over.

Multi-purpose purchases are important when horses eat your income every month.

I also made an urgent call and rushed to the shop where a pair of Dublins waited for me. I had been arguing with myself about purchasing them for some time but because they were ordered by the owner and didn’t fit, they were really cheap, plus were my size.

At first, I was reluctant to buy them because I needed to save my money for more western riding boots since mine were annihilated (seriously, like three inch tear on the inside of both boots) and I need new boots that I could ride in and run around in the mud and manure for work. Then I realized something.

Duh! Dublins are riding boots. Plus, they’re waterproof and made for extreme weather. They’ll probably hold up to our weird humid, salty climate than a regular pair of boots would. And I could tromp through the ‘snow’ in Arizona in them and really get my money’s worth.

And so…

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Aren’t they beautiful?

(By the way if you’re wondering about the boots, I wore them all day everyday and they broke in after the first few hours and then were formed to my feet. I had big blisters on the back of my heels from another pair of boots and these ones never once caused discomfort even with preexisting blisters. I had a little trouble getting them on at first because of the anatomical shape of the upper heel and the only thing I can say is that I wish they had boot pull straps but I solved this problem by gripping the back seam to keep it straight while I pulled them on)

Thanksgiving morning we loaded up and began our trip. We stopped a little past Yuma in Dateland for gas and lunch and walked through the Date farm to see the railroad tracks (Cambria is fascinated by trains), then drove the rest of the way and made it just in time to drop our stuff off at the hotel and get changed for Thanksgiving dinner.

The hotel sucked. One room smelled like the inside of a smoker’s house and the next one had blood on the pillowcase. Yum.

After getting that situated, we went to dinner with the fam. Their house backs up to the Tonto National Forest. All I could think about was riding through those pine trees and trekking up the mountains. Cambria and I went on nature walks and had a blast (I’m so blessed to have a mini who loves nature as much as I do).

The next morning was of course Black Friday. On this most discounted day of shopping I just happened to be located in a very small rural town where no one beats down small children over kitchen appliances no matter how cheap they are. So naturally I made a stop to the Tractor Supply Co.

Have I purchased any presents for the wonderful people in my life like a responsible adult? Nope! But my horses’ goodies are already lined up!

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Apparently this year our theme is purple and teal.

Last year, they got new matching waterproof sheets and fleece liners, and then big fat buckets of warm bran mash, grain, carrots, cookies and peppermints.

This year, it will be whitening shampoo for my two stained fuzzballs (did you know that ‘fuzzball’ is a legitimate word in the Microsoft dictionary?), more weight booster and grain for my little old man in a pretty new purple bucket (we already have a teal one) with new bucket strap since we keep breaking them. And my daughter picked out a matching purple brush for her horsey (because, you know, we don’t have enough brushes…never.)

We got new Professional’s Choice polos for our Dressage set. That is one nice thing about having a mostly white horse; white polo wraps look seamless on white legs.

And of course a new halter and lead rope…just because they were cheap.

While we were there, we saw stall mats on sale but unfortunately could not fit them into the car. We decided this year our big investment will be raising the side of their stalls under the cover since that is where they like to hang out the most. My horses do not like the rain (yes, I do appreciate that blessing) and will usually go to the back of their stall to go to the bathroom. however, if water ends up pooling under the shelters, they will stand in that one spot until they create a mud pit and their hooves rot and fall off and I rip my hair out…

So my fabulous fiance promised to help me create a high point and support the dirt on that side so that they will have a dry place throughout the winter. Once we fill in the dirt, put in 2×4’s as supports and then slant the rest of the stall, we will get new rubber mats.

So pretty much if anyone gets presents from me this year, I must really like them because most of my money and time will be going toward horse junk.

I digress.

We spent probably half of the day farting around at Tractor Supply. While dad discovered the power tools section, we discovered the hat rack.

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Once we were done farting around there, we met with the family and ate, then loaded into the car and headed for Rim Road which was a beautiful drive that winded up the side of a mountain, finally bringing us to a lookout point right at the edge of the cliff where we jumped out and ran to the edge to watch the sunset and take pictures. I had my camera at the ready and started snapping photos.

 

While I was taking pictures of the beautiful scenery, behind me something even more amazing was happening.

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Not too shabby, I’d say. It was not planned exactly; he was worried that I wouldn’t have been happy or that I might have liked it better if he had planned it.

Yeah right! Can you imagine a better scenario for a pine forest mountain loving nature freak? I can’t!

Of course, the rest of the trip was a blast. We stopped at the local western wear store and I got a Justin belt, then on our way home we stopped at Bass Pro Shop and I got a hat for work to match the pink Bass Pro matching sweatshirts that I got for myself and Cambria.

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My vacation in a nutshell.

So naturally the next step is to make time to do an engagement photo shoot at the ranch, with horses, horseshoes, boots, spurs, et cetera. Because what is horse ownership if you can’t utilize your investment for epic engagement pictures?

Happy Holidays everyone!

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God keeps his word.

Have you ever had to do something that you knew was the right thing even though you knew it would rock the boat? Well, call me a boat rocker. Unfortunately though, my choice to speak up brought a lot of chaos in my life and left me feeling exposed, trapped, and most of all very alone.

Recently, some horses at my ranch have been getting sick. Despite efforts to quarantine, there were certain people who may just not have been careful enough. I will not say definitively that these people spread the illness because I don’t know that to be an actual fact, however for one reason or another more horses on the ranch got sick; their horses.

This person brought their horse next to the other sick horses for some reason completely unknown to me. To make a long story very short, this horse got sick and went into quarantine. I was the one who moved the sick horse into quarantine per the ranch owner’s request. The horse’s owner showed up and moved the horse back out of quarantine, beside the other healthy horses. Later, when we discovered the horse had been moved back and was still sick we moved it BACK a second time into quarantine, where it stayed for the rest of my story. I’m not sure if this horse was ever actually diagnosed, but I do know that being in quarantine meant that this horse was in a part of the facility in close proximity to other sick horses. During the time that this horse was sick, the owner actually continued to try to sell it and ride it. Again, I can’t say if the owner was or was not careful to prevent the spread of the illness because I simply was not around all the time.

What I do know is this; on a quiet morning I got out of my car to see this person’s other horse with green snot dumping from its nose. Disappointing but not surprising. Soon after, while my friend and I sat and talked, a trailer pulled down the driveway. It was a transportation company who had come for the two sick horses. The owner had come over and talked to us, telling us that the company was going to transport her new free horse from (very far away) for free.

Now, I may not be her biggest fan but in complete honesty I didn’t hate her or wish anything bad upon her. I just wish she would be more considerate of others and maybe a bit more mature. And stop lying. And picking on the other girls at the ranch. Okay I’m really not her fan. Seriously though, we all go through life differently and learn at our own pace. At some point, we all make poor decisions. I cannot expect others to think or feel the same way that I do, and I don’t. I only hoped that someday she would learn that she is the one who ends up being negatively affected by her choices and stop self-sabotaging. I digress.

So they began loading her horses into the trailer. They took the one sick horse from directly beside other sick horses and straight in the trailer he went. Then, after the second one with the snotty nose was loaded, my friend turned to me and said, “I feel bad for that guy; he has no idea that the horses in his trailer are sick.”

We began to go back and forth, talking about the best way to let him know. “Do you think she told him?” We just looked at one another, knowing the answer was most likely, “no.”

As if to answer our question, she walked over and told us that she was covered in horse snot from trying to wipe the horse’s nose and keep the driver from seeing it. We just glanced at one another and laughed awkwardly.

Maybe I didn’t march over there and stand in the way of the trailer because I was afraid and hate confrontation. Maybe it was because it didn’t totally dawn on me until they had already left. Before they were gone, we overheard that the trailer would be stopping to pick up more horses from the racetrack and then continue up north to the final destination to drop them all off.

It was then that my friend said someone needed to warn him. She approached him and asked if he had a card, which he did not, and then noticed the truck number.

When the trailer was gone and the horses’ owner had packed up and pulled out of the driveway, we sat there discussing it. The whole reason that these horses were even sick was because someone was inconsiderate in the first place. We had been through a lot of crap because of this frustrating and miserable (although not deadly) illness. Now, we were watching another inconsiderate person taking away contaminated horses and potentially putting other horses and people through the same thing.

Just then, the ranch owner called about other things. Another horse on the property was showing signs of illness and we were discussing quarantining that horse and how to go about it. I mentioned that the horses had left so we had an opening in the quarantine stalls. I also mentioned that we had overheard that other horses would be put in the trailer with the horses that had just left and we were considering calling the transportation company to let them know. The owner shrugged it off and said it was unfortunate but the other horses should be vaccinated and its best if we just let it go.

After that conversation, I was only feeling worse. “The vaccines don’t prevent it,” my friend noted, “the other horses that are getting sick were vaccinated too.”

We decided we would call. She walked away to answer a phone call and I began to think to myself. As soon as I was alone, the voice in my head was crystal clear. Do it. Now. Before it’s too late.

I dialed the number. The phone rang and the receptionist answered. I told her what was happening.

“Oh crap.” She said. “Hold on.” She transferred me to another person, whom I then explained the situation to again only to be met by another “oh crap.”

She asked my name. I instinctively spat it out and immediately regretted it. Before I could request to remain anonymous, she blurted that she would call me back and hung up on me.

Great.

Still, it was over with. My friend came around the corner and said, “you did the right thing.”

I knew that. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I would pay for it.

And I did. Pretty soon, the ranch owner was calling, the owner of the sick horses was calling, and she was calling my friend as well. The owner of the horses was calling my friend and trying to get her to tell  everyone that her horses were fine when in reality she had no authority and no idea why the horses’ owner was calling her. The ranch owner was getting calls left and right at this point and everyone had been dragged into a big mud pit.

The ranch owner asked that I simply call them back and tell them that I was not the ranch owner so that she could kindly be left out of it. I did that immediately.

From that point on, the phone never stopped ringing. By the end of the day, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I could continue to back up my claim that her horses were sick but I had no proof. I didn’t know her vet, I had no evidence that the horse that had been quarantined had ever been sick, and the ranch owner was trying to stay as far away from it as possible.

Even though my friend was with me, I wouldn’t say she had any part of it because I didn’t want the ranch owners to be upset with her. Even though the ranch owner could have backed me up, I knew they didn’t want a part in it either.

I had two options.

Option one; continue to tell everyone who was calling that it was true and start a big investigation into the matter while also dragging everyone around me into it, but prove that I was right.

Option two; keep everyone else safe but allow myself to be made to look like a fool or a liar.

To me, there was only one choice.

That was it. I apologized to the transportation company as well as the equestrian facility manager, the people I was trying to help, for causing so much trouble without any proof. After going back and forth with everyone, the ranch owner stepped in when she realized that things were only escalating. After that, everything went quiet. I have no idea what she said and at that point I was so frazzled and I didn’t care.

That night when I was crawling into bed, I found a Facebook message from the horses’ owner. She was threatening to sue me for slander and said that the horses had passed their vet check and were fine. She called me ‘an evil person’ and asked why I would do such a thing.

I felt so broken. Why was it that I had done the right thing and yet I was being punished for it? Where was God when I was being blamed and my name was being dragged through the mud? I was so upset, not just because I had made everyone mad at me and could have made an enemy of the ranch owner who I considered my friend, not even because this person was threatening to sue me when I was already struggling financially, but mostly because I felt like I was buried alone in the bottom of this dark pit that was my life beneath the weight of all these problems completely left under it all by God. I have never felt like God had abandoned me. Yet at that point I felt like I was waiting for Him to step forward and fix everything but all I heard was crickets.

That was the worst feeling; hopelessness.

The bible tells us to be humble but righteous no matter what and that He will always be there to uphold your integrity. Yet I felt like my integrity had been completely torn to shreds.

For the rest of the week, that feeling followed me around. People kept telling me I had done the right thing and it wasn’t my fault and that the truth would come out either way. They told me that I didn’t have to be worried about being sued because she had no way of getting away with it and if she even tried, the truth would come out and I would be found to be right.

I still felt alone. I was disappointed that God had not come to my rescue. Why was He being silent?

Well, it turns out that He was proving the point that I have always known but simply lost sight of in the chaos; God’s timing is perfect.

At the end of it all, the horses in question were tested and it came back positive. The horses owner had called the ranch threatening to sue me but then shortly afterward had called back and left a message saying that the horses were in fact infected and she apologized and said she would no longer be suing me.

Right now I cannot clearly see why we had to go through all of this the way that we did but I will no longer question God’s plan. We have such a narrow scope of vision and our minds cannot handle the stresses and pressures of life in order to always make perfect decisions or understand every twist and turn of life with perfect sight.

So I’m just going to go with it. At the end of the day it’s just another chapter of my testimony.

Summer, here we come! Heart to Horse box #3

Just as I was getting into the routine of rain and mud and shoveling wheelbarrows full of dirt into my stalls, summer attacks, bringing an entirely new brigade of adversaries.

Here in San Diego, we hardly obey the laws of nature when it comes to the seasons. Winter did hit for a few weeks in December of record colds at night as low as about 38 degrees and some rain throughout January but by the third week of February it felt like spring. The horses had begun to shed their winter coats in gobs and the dry, dead shrubbery began to bloom into a colorful blanket of green foliage and yellow, orange and purple flowers. Now, April showers may bring May flowers elsewhere but here in San Diego the only thing that April brings is bipolar weather and humidity. Things are definitely beginning to heat up and as summer approaches quickly it brings with it a whole new metaphorical season as well.

I’ve begun to stock up on summer supplies of the usual variety; fly spray, swat, mosquito repellant and such. I’m excited to march into battle armed with a packed arsenal of old tricks and new ideas to test.

Chicksaddlery.com is having a sale on fly control products. It’s definitely worth taking a look at if your mental list of summer essentials is piling up.

Anyways, this is my third month receiving a subscription to the Heart to Horse box from Statelinetack.com

Last month’s Heart to Horse box definitely got five stars from me for usefulness. This month’s box was very sensible as well and definitely appropriate for the season.

FullSizeRender (1)  This box included the Kensington catch mask, a lightweight red and black lead rope, Mane-Tail-Groom shampoo, a little padded zipper pocket and a lavender air freshener. To begin with, the fly mask itself is worth more than I spent on the whole box. It’s a fly mask that’s designed tobe tough and useful for those who turn out their horses in a big pasture and need to keep them protected from flies and also be able to catch them easily when it’s time to come in. I also like how they included a lead even though I really hate this lead rope. I am a devout cotton lead rope believer. I hate nylon lead lines and I’m not sure what this material is. While it seems lightweight and soft, it’s definitely synthetic and the lightweight feature makes it seem cheap to me. None the less, it just became my emercency rope for my work bag. And for anyone else, it would probably make a great outdoor rope to leave beside the gate when you don’t want your nice ones getting rained on or chewed/played with.

Any shampoo is always useful of course, but especially those with anti-bacterial qualities. Rapture has issues with skin funguses and Gemini occasionally gets what I call ‘little old man’ funguses which are just gunks and things that I’ve seen mostly in older horses.

Of course the air freshener is useful. It’s like they know that us horse people carry about stinky horse stuff in our cars which then makes said car smell like dirty horse blankets. I wonder how they figure that one out…

Even the little zipper pocket, which I didn’t think was all too impressive, came in handy the next day. I was wearing breeches with no pockets and needed a safe place to put my phone so I remembered I had this thing in the box in my car and strapped it to my belt. It now found itself a job.

Yet again, I’m excited for next month’s box.

Next up, Tack Room Attack! Spring cleaning and organization for your home away from home.

We made it through Winter! With the help of Platinum Performance, Heart to Horse Box and a few others…

Vision should be covered by my employer because these horses are so shiny they’re blinding!

But seriously, I’ve never been so happy to scrape off piles of fur off of my horse before. Spring has been welcomed quite fervently this year. Even though I feel like I just got settled in for winter with our waterproof sheets and packed away all of our fly sheets and masks and such.

I’ve been very busy lately with work and other responsibilities so I haven’t been able to update much, but there are so many things I’ve wanted to share. I finally was able to pack enough dirt into my horse’s stalls that I think it may withstand any more rain that this season has to throw at us. The boys are looking nice and fat and I’m really happy with their improvement as well as looking forward to seeing how things go over summer. I was recently talking with a good friend of mine who got her first horse and has been having trouble keeping weight on her. I’m certainly not an expert. The whole reason I started this blog was to share my trials and errors (mostly errors) so that hopefully some others will have an easier time than I am. Others who were influences for her weren’t able to give much advice but since I went through that same thing with my horse, I was really happy that I could help.

I realized that this is a really big struggle for so many people but few actually know how to handle it. Throughout this process with Rapture, I have come to know one thing for sure; a horse cannot be healthy without the right forage. If you are having a hard time with this too, the best advice I can give you is to load up on good forage. Spend your energy first understanding how much forage your horse should really be getting and then add extra to accommodate for the weight loss. No amount of supplements or anything else you’re doing for any health issues, et’c will have any effect until you get the forage right. Once we had that in order, everything else fell into place.

I used beet pulp, rice bran, and a pelleted senior feed because these three things can be fed in fairly large quantities without posing a risk to the horse. Ease into the larger quantities to avoid digestive upsets, but the key is patience and persistence. You have to stick with whatever you start and give it time or else nothing will work. Once my boys had been on the right amount of forage for a few months and about 6 weeks of buckets almost every evening. I also kept them blanketed often both to keep them clean and also to keep the heat in so that they weren’t burning off everything they were gaining. Fortunately, we live in pretty mild climate.

That was their Christmas present, actually. Aside from a heaping pile of carrots, apples, sugar cubes, grain and other goodies, I got my boys two matching teal and brown Tough-1 waterproof sheets and well as blanket liners in the event that it got actually chilly. Those blanket liners did come in handy because of a random super chilly few weeks in December.

Anyways, before I had gotten to that point, I had wasted so much money and time on supplements which weren’t able to do much because I hadn’t gotten down the key variable of forage. After we had gotten the forage and grain worked out, I began to add the supplements again. This time though, I tried Platinum Performance per the recommendation of my boss and good friend. The key to a supplement is less what the label says and more about the quality and the combination of the right ingredients. If your supplements don’t have those two things, they simply won’t work. I was drawn in by Platinum Performance because of the quality of ingredients. After the first month, I was really happy that I did. I started seeing results right away. My horses have been feeling much better and putting on more muscle. Rapture has been moving so much better, he fights less about working to the left (he’s always hated going left) and his strides have begun to lengthen. I really feel that this is due to his overall health improving significantly. A horse can only do as much as it’s body will allow. I’ve always said he’s like superman in a body made out of tin foil. His body is becoming much more capable of facilitating his passion and will to work.

Not only that, but both of my horses’ hoof health has seen improvement since starting Platinum Performance. Gemini, who has always had a bit of thrush, but never too bad, had a major outbreak where the soft tissue of the frog was exposed and he was very uncomfortable when picking his hooves. He is still in the recovery process but even in the rain and the mud, his hooves continued to improve and I feel like that has a lot to do with this supplement working from the inside out. Rapture, whose pen had less of a pond after the rain, made a big leap in the improvement of thrush. His hooves do have some cracks, but I know that has more to do with the length of time between trims that month. All things considered, his hooves are much stronger than they used to be but I think that is more due to the forage since he hasn’t been on Platinum Performance long enough for the hoof wall to grow out that much. Still, I’m really excited to see how that turns out after about six months of use.

Oh! And if you’re wondering what I treated the thrush with… I found a cheaper generic of Thrush Buster (same ingredient, same quantity, same color) and scrubbed their hooves first with dawn dish soap and the brush side of the hoof pick to remove the top layer of dirt, scraped out as much of the old gunk as I could, picked out every nook and cranny with the hoof pick and a dental pick and then scrubbed it all down with Betadine and a tooth brush. Then, I applied the thrush buster generic (I can’t remember the name, I’ll add it later) all over until the hoof was completely stained purple. I reapplied the thrush treatment as much as necessary, about every 5 to 8 days depending on the weather, and scrubbed the hooves if they got built up with gunk again. I saw improvement pretty quickly. It’s not perfect but we’re getting there.

Now, if you’re wondering about the Heart to Horse Box I’ve got a story for you.

When I received my very first Heart to Horse Box, I couldn’t wait to rip it open. What I found inside, though, dampened my spirits. There was a little bottle of shampoo, a bag of treats, some socks and a weird square bag which I couldn’t quite figure a purpose for. I didn’t immediately love anything in there. All I could think was, “I spent $37 on this?” I threw everything in my car and forgot about it, reasonably disappointed. The socks were the first thing I tried since I did actually need more riding socks. They are Justin’s mid calf boot socks and although they are a tad bit scratchy, they’re pretty good quality and I feel like they will last. They are very comfortable to wear all day and I only notice the roughness when I put them on. The next thing I tried was the Elite Equine Evolution waterless shampoo with Argan oil. I actually really like this stuff! It goes really far and smells amazing. Plus, I do like that brand. I like it so much that I might actually buy it again.

The treats also came in handy, not that treats ever don’t come in handy. There was a little girl who came to the ranch for a pony ride and I happened to open my trunk and notice the treats while she and her mother were browsing the ranch and talking to the horses. She had fun learning how to feed the horses and instantly made some furry friends.

Then, there was that weird bag. It’s a professional’s choice bag so it had to be worth something. It folded into a peculiar rectangle and had four triangular zipper compartments inside, with a velcro closure and handles. I decided to look it up. Basically, it’s like a roll up caddy for your tiny but important items that you need within reach but might easily get lost in your grooming tote.

Altogether, I spent $37 or something on the box and got…

  • Socks worth about $12 to $16
  • Shampoo worth about $11
  • Professional’s choice accessory bag worth $27
  • 1lb bag of treats worth $3

So overall, I did get my money’s worth and ended up finding a use for everything. But would I buy it again? Probably not, at first. However, being forgetful as I am I didn’t unsubscribe and ended up paying for a second one.

Now, the first box fell short but the SECOND box was definitely redeeming! I just received it in the mail today and I was pretty pessimistic about what I would find inside. Maybe my lowered expectations had something to do with it, but I was pretty pleasantly surprised to find a mini purple Wahl clipper, a shedding stone, heart shaped curry and purple mane and tail brush with a nice gel handle, plus a massive bag of Magesty’s Omega Wafers, a TWO month supply! (that’s the same as one month for two horses, so I like it when things come in two month supplies) Plus there was a little sample of dog treats. I don’t mind getting those because I HAVE dogs, but sometimes I wonder why they bother throwing those in there when they don’t even know if the person has a dog…

Anyways, I feel like this box was perfect for this time of year and I really applaud “Cassie”(I think?) whoever you are, for putting it together. I’m so excited to take it all to the barn tomorrow. Not only that, but getting the Wahl clipper with it’s little pile of accessories gave me something to put in my ridiculously expensive and strange looking Professional’s Choice accessories bag from my last box!

I do rather like the excitement of these boxes. I don’t really spend much money on things for myself but I’m working on that now so this makes me feel like I’m having some frivolous fun for myself but also getting useful things for my horses at the same time. It’s like the Christmas present to me, from me, that’s technically for someone else!

i’m thinking of trying out the box from another site and comparing them, but I’m not sure yet.

We will see!

(Graphic Photos) Blessings from Raindrops; Be Careful What You Ask For Part 2

Quick update; so the day before yesterday, I pulled out all of my stitches that were left in my middle finger, peeled off the calloused skin, and it’s looking great. I went to my second occupational therapy appointment today and we made great progress with how far I could bend and straighten my PIP joint. I’m actually tapering off how often I wear my “skid plate” and how thick I wrap my finger to try to acclimate it to real life. I’m even occasionally using it to type in this article!

Back to the action… I arrived at the back door of the emergency room of Sharp hospital. The paramedics had given me a few choices of hospitals in the area but it was all the same to me, so here we were. Before we left, Slim gave me one last piece of advice. He told me that I needed to tell the hospital staff that my pain level was a 10 if I wanted to get pain meds. Anything less than that, I wouldn’t get anything or at least anything strong.

With that, I was wheeled straight out of the ambulance and through the automatic glass doors. I sat in the middle of the hallway, facing a family with a young boy who stared at me with disdain in his face. I smiled, but no one smiled back, so I just sat there holding my hand above my heart, massive and white in its giant roll of gauze, and stared at a wall while the paramedics filled in one of the staff members behind me. Now, pay attention. This guy who they were talking to, who was responsible for checking me in, would later play an important role in this story. I can’t remember his actual name (too much morphine) so we will call him Esteban.

After they were done repeatedly saying how horribly mangled my finger was, right behind my head, they wheeled me down the hall and had me move to a chair in a tiny corner of the emergency room beside a corner and a curtain. There was barely enough room for the nurse to squeeze beside my chair and the curtain to get to the table behind me. Audrey took a seat at a chair by my feet and kept me talking when no one else was there to keep me distracted. The paramedics came by to say goodbye before they took off. After they’d left, a very sweet nurse came over and began to ask me questions. Her name was….Susan or Susie or something like that. There was something that set her apart from the other nurses though. I’ve always known nurses to be very kind and caring people, but when she asked what had happened, it was more like a concerned friend than a medical question.

I explained that I had been looping a lead rope and the horse got scared and set back, which pulled the rope tight and twisted my finger through a metal ring. I told her it wasn’t his fault, I knew better. I told her I always tell my lesson kids to NEVER wrap lead ropes around your fingers for this reason. She cringed, but nodded and said, “I get it, I’m a horse person too.” Her smile was genuine and I really didn’t want her to walk away. She asked me a few other things and we talked about horses briefly before she had to attend to other things. Audrey and I chatted in between other nurses coming in and out. A doctor came in (can’t remember his name either, something Spanish sounding) and also was very kind and sincere as he listened to what had happened.

Then, he left. The longer I sat there, the more I began to feel, and the more the fear of the pain began to return. But it didn’t. Esteban appeared and asked me how I was doing. He too asked me how I had hurt my finger. After explaining it (this had to have been the tenth time today) he shuffled away. A nurse and the doctor returned and informed me that they had to take a look at my finger. I complied but wasn’t thrilled about it. I looked away the entire time. “What’s your pain level?” Someone asked. “It’s about a 10.” I responded, looking to Audrey who cracked a smile.

After it was over, there was another long pause. Dillon and his mom arrived and Audrey said goodbye. Several of my co-workers my co-workers asked to come say “hi” but weren’t allowed. Esteban suddenly appeared again.

“I’m going to put in a request to have you sent to UCSD.” He explained. “We could send you to surgery here, but our surgeons may take one look at it and realize they aren’t equipped to handle it. I don’t want you to get passed around from hospital to hospital so I’m going to try to get you sent straight to the best ones in the area, which would be the UCSD team.”

“Wow, okay.” I nodded. That seemed logical and I appreciated his initiative. I said thank you and he smiled and walked away.

Shortly thereafter, things began to move very fast. Esteban reappeared and told me that I was approved and would be moved to UCSD shortly, then the medical transport guys appeared. I was moved to another stretcher in the hallway. As I sat there, the Doctor and other staff all came by to say goodbye and good luck. Everyone offered words of encouragement, even the people in the chair on the other side of the curtain beside my little corner. The medical transport guys (and Dillon) giggled at my responses to people. I told Susie I would miss her and I wished I could just take her with me to the other hospital. She said she was sad she wouldn’t get to be my nurse, but that I would like the staff at the other hospital too. I realized again that God was really all around me. Each of these people was acting as the hands of God, from Esteban, literally the first person I saw when I got here, to Susie, the kind horseperson nurse, to the Doctor, and even the people on the other side of the curtain who I hadn’t even seen face to face. And as He showed His love through each of these people toward me, He also brought his light into this place where there wasn’t much.

After I was moved into the medical transport vehicle, the morphine really started to kick in. I don’t remember what anyone else said on the ride to UCSD, I only remember suddenly feeling very “barn sick” which is like homesickness but you want to go to the barn…which is practically home anyways. I started to cry at one point and I remember looking at Dillon, who asked me what was wrong, and I said, “I was going to ride my horse today. I just want to see my horses.” After that, I really don’t remember much, except that the UCSD hospital is very large, the hallways were wide and empty, with pictures hung on the walls intermittently, and that the staff was very smiley and didn’t talk about how tragically dismembered my finger was (at least not right in front of me).

They put me in my own room, at one point I was suddenly changed into a hospital gown which I don’t remember, and Dillon sat there and talked to me as nurses came in and out, making changes to my IV and taking my blood pressure. Then, a male nurse came in and sat down. He told me that I’d be going into surgery pretty soon, the names of my two surgeons, and what they were planning on doing. I had paperwork to sign, of course, giving them permission to do a “medical exploration” to see what damage had been done throughout my finger. He then asked to unwrap my hand so that they could take photos. I told him he could take pictures only if I got a copy. This time I only looked away briefly, but when Dillon looked I had to as well of course (he is notorious for looking when you tell him not to). It was pretty gnarly but because there had been blood at one point, you couldn’t see the same vivid white bone against off white skin and bright red blood. Now, everything was pretty red, except for my bright pink glittery nail polish.  Brokenfingerdec15th2014 They wheeled me down to the prep area before surgery and I met my surgeons, but I really don’t remember. I just know I did. After I answered the same fifty allergy and medical history questions, I was brought into the operation room. The table had a little arm extension and I was asked to stretch my left arm out beside me and lay it flat, and then I was put under. While I was under, they took some X-rays and then rearranged the parts of my finger. brokenfingerxray1brokenfingerxray2  I woke some time later back in my hospital room in the middle of the night when the nurses came in to check on me, but passed out again. This happened a few times until I finally became fully awake at about 4am. (That brings us to the first part of part 1) The next day, it began to rain. The skies darkened and the gloom cast a grey light over my hospital room. I spent almost all of my time sleeping, or waking up screaming because the pain meds weren’t working. But I still had my finger, and that was a blessing that was worth the pain. It felt like I was there for ages, but it was less than 24 hours. Dillon came to pick me up and my nurses came in to say goodbye. Right before we left, I looked out the window to see the sun peeking through the clouds and two rainbows reaching down to touch the earth. rainbowsoutsidehospitaldec16th2014I smiled as I remembered God’s promises which He never ceases to fulfill, and all the subtle reminders of His love and presence that He leaves. I was amazed at the many ways that He had impacted my life and so many around me through this experience, and all of the new people He’d brought me in contact with. He had definitely showed me that He is able to work through any situation, even if we are simply sitting there and doing nothing. No matter where we are, He is more than enough to get the job done even if we aren’t even aware of it. We toted my giant sausage bandage home where I slept for like four days straight.  A week later, I went back for my first post op visit and we got to see what had been going on underneath that giant bandage. brokenfingerfirstpostopreveal3 broeknfingerfirstpostopreveal2 broeknfingerfirstpostopreveal1 Then we took some x-rays.

brokenfingerpostopxray2 brokenfingerpostopxray1Eight screws, one metal plate and a pin now hold my finger together. The pin is there to hold the distal phalange (part of your finger where your fingernail is) and the middle phalange (middle bone where all the screws are in the photo) straight and keep the distal interphalangeal joint (the joint at the end of your finger behind your fingernail) from bending since the tendon which straightens the last part of my finger was damaged and is no longer there. The proximal interphalangeal joint, or the PIP joint is very stiff. Over time, I’ve been able to change the bandage and check up on it. brokenfingerbandagechange1All of the dark spots were once a big blood blister. Over time the skin stiffened and peeled off. And that brings us to this week when I trimmed my stitches and peeled the last bit of that skin off. Almost all of the open parts have closed up. We’ve gone from a giant sausage bandage down to a few band-aids and a little cloth sock.

brokenfingerbandagechange3   

There were some challenges, like wearing gloves… brokenfingercustomglove And braiding my hair… brokenfingerbraidinghair However, it’s a lot easier to paint your nails when there are only 9 nails…

brokenfingeronelessnail

And it certainly didn’t stop me from getting on my horse…just don’t tell my surgeons…

RidingRapturewithbrokenfinger2

Have a blessed weekend!

Blessings in Raindrops; Be Careful What You Ask For! Part 1

It just hit me at 4:30 am (Tuesday morning, Dec 16th). I’m in the hospital. My finger, now cradled in a sausage-like roll of gauze, was at one point no longer attached.

I’m no stranger to the peculiarities of God’s way of answering prayers, so I should really know to be more specific when I ask for things. Still though, through this weird and woeful experience I’ve seen God’s face more than ever. But His choice in this case seems surreal right now. Maybe its the morphine but I haven’t been able to catch my breath between each close encounter with the holy spirit since yesterday morning. Please excuse the wild emotional rollercoaster that will surely play out through this post, as I haven’t been able to write it all at once, so you are reading one large collaborative over several weeks of writing.

Now, as I rest in a hospital bed with strange devices massaging my legs to keep a clot from forming, the events which took place in the past 18 hours seem like just another bad dream. However the pulsing pain in my hand reminds me that it was much more than that.

It hurts to tell this story even though I’ve recited it so many times today. My mind still yearns for a state of denial. I feel that trying to convey each sensation into text is an entirely new form of storytelling which requires so much concentration and eloquence that it becomes impossible to numb my conscious to every agonizing detail. On top of that, tapping out each letter with one hand, on a touch screen that’s having a hard time recognizing me as a human being adds a whole new level of excitement to this process.

(Passed out from the drugs, fast forward to Thursday, 9:30am)

As time progresses, reality continues to sink in. As does the detailed image of the inner workings of my finger which is being so accurately painted in many different shades of pain.

So let’s get this over with, shall we? I know you’re probably mildly annoyed that I haven’t spilled the gory details yet. Well, this is going on my horse blog because the incident was horse related.

On my way to work Monday morning, December 15th, around 8am, I was listening to some important church person tell the detailed history of the real Nicholas so-and-so who became ‘Saint Nicholas.’ You can call me a scrooge but I really don’t care at all for the hallmark holiday or any of their representatives with questionable backgrounds. But that’s a discussion for another time. Anyways, it was unusual for me to listen to something like this but I was. I was particularly captured when this fellow said that Nicholas came from a wealthy family but felt that all of his wealth belonged to God and his sole purpose for existing was to serve God. I remember thinking how cool it was that he woke up every morning with no other concern than to please God, and every choice he made was made with God in mind. I began to think about how distracted I had gotten by ‘responsibilities’ and adult decisions that really should have been ‘God decisions’ or things that I trusted Him to take care of and asked for guidance about. A big one was my job. I was so inspired by this environment because I saw God’s plan and path for me made possible by this place and these relationships. I was so on fire for the opportunities that I had lost sight of what was really important; God’s plan which He has brought me here to fulfill.

(Fast forward again to December 30th)

I had even begun to become depressed because I felt so ill equipped, useless, and out of place. I felt like I was just too stupid, too young, and too undertrained to be at all valuable to my wonderful bosses and co-workers, nor adequately equipped for my customers. I had become blinded, I had walked away from the peaceful light of His constant reassurance and love. I felt like I was floating aimlessly in a life raft amidst an ocean of possibilities, with my goals and dreams in sight, but no paddle to row with, and a form of steering that left much to be desired.

So I asked God to make a change in my perspective so that I could work on living more for His purpose and clinging less to my own interpretation of what my life should look like. I begged Him to either affirm my place here in this position and that I was meant by Him to be there, or to shut the doors and remove me to a different path; whatever would fulfill His wishes for me. I wasn’t sure how God would do it, but I knew He and He alone was capable of dragging my stubborn butt back into His arms again. Little did I know my request was not only heard, but had been put in motion long before that lonesome prayer in the morning fog.

I walked into work with a “get it done” attitude and got straight to it. Amidst the ringing phone, bathing and grooming of muddy horses, communicating with my co-worker and reassuring my over-stressed boss, it was controlled chaos and all things considered we were doing pretty good. My brain was whirling, I was firing on all cylinders and running down my mental to-do list, grabbed a horse and led him to the hitching post. He wasn’t even that dirty, awesome! I grabbed a brush and flung his lead rope over the hitching post, knowing that he was an ass about tying. There were already horses in the catch pens where we usually stick our non-tying counter parts. Out of the necessity to get things done on this jammed morning, I decided to just get him groomed and saddled quickly and not fuss with switching horses around to get him into a catch pen.

Brush, brush brush….yank…

That turd, he always knew the worst times to decide to be uncooperative and not ground-tie. I grabbed the rope and looped it through the metal ring on the hitching post so that it would stay out of the mud, but if he really set back, it would simply pop out of the ring, avoiding tragedy. I quickly returned to brushing.

…yank…

Brat. I grabbed the rope and looped it through again. Before I could even turn back to brush him, he had pulled the rope back out. I grabbed the rope and growled, “stand!” He just stared at me like I was a crazy lady. I turned back to the hitching post, made a loop in the rope and pushed it through the metal ring, quickly grabbing the loop with my left hand to pull the slack through so that it would hang just enough to stay on, but again not so much that he couldn’t get free.

(Starting again on December 31st through January 3rd)

Suddenly, the horse set back hard, flung his nose in the air and began to backpedal. I felt my arm tug. I pulled down on the rope, confused as to why it didn’t just come undone. I pulled my arm away, felt my pointer finger come loose, but for some reason my arm still wasn’t free and the rope was still taut in the air before me. I watched as his hooves slid in the mud and every time his nose flew up and he yanked back, a strange pulling sensation rippled up my arm, through my elbow and all the way up to my shoulder. I just stared at him as he flailed, gripping the braided yellow nylon lead and waiting. I knew these ropes; once they were caught, they didn’t come out. The force from a 1200 lb+ horse sitting all his weight back on one of these would wedge it into such a knot that we had to pry them apart with a screw driver. My mind didn’t process what part of me was stuck, it didn’t panic nor try to get free. I just stared and waited for the longest few seconds of my life. It felt like ten minutes has passed, but I’m sure it was more like ten seconds. Suddenly, something gave. I heard the “ping” of the metal ring and watched the rope go slack and sail past my face. Something rested in my hand, I assumed it was the broken metal ring. I watched the horse move away.

A small, calm voice told me that something was wrong and I needed to be very concerned.

As I stood there, assessing the events what had just occurred, I thought to myself, ‘there is no way I just came out of that unscathed.’

Okay, I will just take one quick look to make sure something is wrong before I call for help and make a scene.

Tentatively, I glanced down at my hand.

Red and white. I saw the pink glitter of my nail polish on my middle finger bent towards my ring and pinky fingers. Suddenly, I realized the cold thing I could feel resting on my hand was not the metal ring which I thought had broken off and landed in my palm; it was my own flesh. My pale white skin gave way just about at the middle knuckle to a large area of red with a long white object suck straight out in the middle like a stripper popping out of a red velvet cake.

I looked away as quickly as possible and shut my eyes, but there again was the carnage plastered on the back of my eyelids. Photographic memories are really great at taking snapshots of things that you were trying not to see. Alas, the image was instantly burned into the back of my mind and I saw it whenever I blinked. My eyes bulged open. I had just seen my own bone.

At this moment, two voices became present in my mind.

The first was the calm, reasonable voice that told me that something had been wrong. This voice is the same one that had told me that I was not going to get out of the rope and held me there without panic. This voice, which I’ve heard many times before, is the voice that helps me understand things that are vastly beyond my scope of knowledge. I cannot take credit for this voice because there is no way I could possibly be that organized, mature and reasonable, especially in situations like this. This voice, I believe, is my connection to God.

The second voice was my frazzled conscience, reeling in terror and confusion. This voice sounds a lot more like me; ‘That was my BONE that I just saw. My finger is not on my hand. Is this seriously happening? There is no way I just saw the inside of my body…on the outside. I JUST SAW MY BONE! What do I do now, what do I DO!! Hey, I’ve never broken a bone before, this is kind of exciting… Oh God, it’s going to hurt any second now. And it’s going to hurt BAD. Where is the pain? What do I do when it hurts? I think I’m going to pass out…’

‘You are not going to pass out. You broke your bone. It’s the first bone you’ve ever broken. People break bones all the time.’

‘That’s true…’

‘Pay attention. Your finger is open and could get dirty. Be careful with it.’

‘OH CRAP MY FINGER!’

‘You need to ask someone for help. You’re not going to be able to handle this one on your own.’

At this point, I dropped the curry I was holding in my right hand and gripped the wrist and lower palm of my left hand.

Suddenly, my co-worker’s voice cut into the chaos. “Anna, are you alright?”

“HEATHER!!!” I meant to call for help, not scream for it, since she was literally only right on the other side of a horse. Yet so much tension had built up that as soon as my mouth opened, it all rushed out at once.

“Are you okay?!” Another co-worker, Audrey, called from the other side of the office.

“Uh, no!” I called, trying to not sound as frantic as I had moments before since somewhere on the ranch I knew there were customers.

‘You need to go to the hospital’

‘OKAY!’ I turned and bolted towards the office, thinking I would grab the phone and call an ambulance. I forgot that the phone was in my back pocket.

“Anna, STOP!” Heather yelled. It cut straight through the fog. I jerked to a halt exactly where I was standing. “You need to calm down and sit down.”

“Okay” I mumbled and plopped down on the ground where I was…right behind a horse.

“Not there, go sit in the office.” She clarified.

“Okay.” I twisted straight up off the ground, power-walked to the porch and threw my butt straight down on the edge of the landing.

“Put your hand up above your heart.” She told me as she caught up to me.

“Okay.” I lifted my hand up as high as I could get it (now both hands above my head since I was holding my left hand with my right hand) and rested my arm against the edge of the railing right in front of me.

“Just breathe, you need to calm down.” She hummed.

‘You need to listen to her. You need to calm down and stay conscious so that you can think clearly and handle this.’

I immediately began focusing on my breathing. I tucked my head between my arms and breathed carefully, in through my nose, out through my mouth…or was it supposed to be the opposite. ‘Whatever, just breathe.’

“Here, put your hand on this.” Suddenly, a saddle stand appeared beside me. I moved my hand carefully, still avoiding looking at it.

“Is there something we can wrap it in?”

“There’s a first aid kit in the office on top of the fridge.” Charlie, one of our ranch hands, slipped past me and Heather and into the office.

Heather rubbed my back and continued reassuring me. “You’re doing great.” She said. “You’re going to be ok, just keep breathing.”

‘She’s right, you will be ok.’

I heard footsteps and looked up. “What happened?” Audrey asked.

‘I don’t know if I can handle talking about it…’

“Sarge pulled back and my finger got stuck in the rope.” I tried really hard not to think about what I was saying.

‘That wasn’t so bad.’ I was feeling pretty good at this point. There was little pain and a massive but containable amount of fear. Everyone around me was so helpful that I could really focus on just staying calm.

Charlie came back with some gauze and asked me to lift my hand. I felt my broken finger rest in the curve of my ring and pinky fingers and shuddered. Charlie wrapped my hand as effectively as he could without moving too much, and covered all of the blood. Just then one of the customers, who I knew where somewhere nearby, turned the corner. The woman glanced at me, and mumbled something. She made eye contact and I knew she was praying for God to help me. I smiled and nodded, saying “yes God,” in agreement.

Seeing a customer made my brain click over into ‘professional mode.’ After that, things got much easier. Because of my line of work, I’ve become something of an expert at staying calm and saving face even when sh** hits the fan, excuse my language. Funny enough, I also become mentally incapable of cursing when customers are present.

I sat on the porch, snuggling and petting Heather’s dogs (which TOTALLY helps!) while she talked to me and reassured me and Audrey called the ambulance. Since I was young, I’ve known the power of animals over pain management. I’ve had chronic IBS since I was 9 years old, which is unheard of for a child so young and especially to the extent that I had it. When I was a pre-teen, I began riding horses way more often than before. My mom and I noticed that I never struggled with being ill when I was around horses. When I sat down on the porch clutching my hand, my first instinct was to go to my horses. Since I knew no one would allow that, I latched onto the dogs as an alternative. Their relentless joy and warmth helped to keep me optimistic and distracted.

If I talked about it, my hand would suddenly begin to hurt. At one point, I managed to push out a curse word, at which point Heather let me know it was a perfectly acceptable time to do so, but past that I couldn’t manage another. For the most part though, there was almost no pain. Everyone commented on how calm and mature I was being, but in reality I knew it was all due to the quiet and constant voice in my head and the unexplainable and unnatural sense of peace I had. I wanted to tell them that it was all God, and that I could hear His voice and feel His love not only in my heart but in every word and action of each of them around me.

In that moment, I wasn’t afraid, I didn’t care about my finger, but I could clearly see each of my blessings folding out before me. I felt like a poor witness for not jumping up and praising God out loud like I was every moment in my head. Instead, I sat there and smiled with worship music in my earphone. While I sang each word, I knew that God was using me for His purpose and I remembered that He works best through subtleties.

After a good half hour, the paramedics finally arrived. I was not impressed with their expressions. Maybe a normal person wouldn’t be able to see their muted horror in their faces, but I could. Yet, I just smiled and cooperated.

“Do you think you can walk?” The one taller, thinner paramedic with dark hair and light eyes and chiseled bone structure (we will call him ‘Slim’) asked. He reminded me a lot of Dillon in his stature as well has his blunt personality (and slight squeamishness).

“Yes,” I chuckled. “It’s my finger, not my legs.” I stood and took a deep breath as they led me to the stretcher.

“Do you want to take your boots off?” Slim asked. I peered down at my black rubber muck boots, noticing the blood on my left toe for the first time.

“No, I don’t think so. They’re keeping my feet warm.” I replied. “However, I do want to take this sweat shirt off; I don’t want them to cut it off.” I began to wiggle free of it.

“Wait, hold on…let me…here…” He began to try to slow me down (in vain, I’m stubborn as a mule after all) and I just glanced at him and thought he’d better either make himself useful or get out of my way. When he realized he wasn’t going to stop me, he changed to helping which was much more productive.

They loaded me up in the ambulance and Audrey climbed up into the front seat, toting my overweight purse. After they’d gotten me into the ambulance and asked me a million questions, I got dizzy and explained that I do tend to get car sick. I decided to see what would happen before we made a big deal out of it since I was pumped full of adrenalin.

Slim began prepping my IV drip while the other paramedic, whom I’d barely noticed, began asking me questions from behind my head and filling out my information on a form.

Slim struggled to find my vein, not sure why since its usually gigantic on that elbow. After he’d managed to get some morphine into me, he sat down on the bench beside me.

“Now that you’ve got some drugs into you, I want to talk about something.” He began. I just smiled and waited. “Your finger…is in pretty bad shape. I mean, it’s pretty mangled…”

“I know,” I chuckled. “I’ve already been thinking about it for some time now. I know I may not get to keep it.”

“Oh…” He looked at me, sort of perplexed. “Well, that’s good that you’re prepared for that. I mean there’s a chance that they’ll be able to fix it but…”

“I don’t really care.” I smiled. “It’s just a finger, after all. It could be a lot worse. I don’t even use that finger for much. I use these two and these two for holding my reins,” I pointed to the space between my thumb and pointer finger, and my pinky and ring finger. “I can still ride just fine without that one. The only thing the middle one is any good for is flipping people off and I don’t make a habit of that. And anyways, I have a spare on the other hand.”

I think I intimidated him because he sort of shut up after that. I was not impressed, again, with his lack of optimism. I personally didn’t find it very professional to be telling people that they may lose body parts, especially when I might have still been at risk of going into shock. But I knew that God was bringing me through this for a reason and in some way, He was influencing every person I passed.

The rest of the ride to the first hospital was pretty easy. They didn’t even turn their sirens on, so I knew I wasn’t bleeding to death.

Stay tuned for the next part of the story!

Rain, rain go away.

I feel so selfish every time I hear the weather forecast predict rain. We get about 15 days of rain, meaning light sprinkles with the occasional two minute drizzle, yet I get so flustered by any precipitation at all.

Its supposed to rain at some point in the next few days and all I can do is groan about how my horses’ stalls will be muddy and all the money I just dumped into shavings will float away with the tiny streams of rain water, or be picked out with the manure. God forbid my horses have a spot of mud on them! I would so easily damn this valley to a rainless existence if my subconscious had its way (along with the magical powers to do so) despite how horribly we need the rain, and how much I usually love it.

On top of the torture of the threats of impending rain, my blankets have yet to even be shipped. I knew I would be kicking myself for not ordering them sooner… that boot mark may last a while…

I’ve come to two conclusions in the past few days. One, I am a moron. Two, winter days do not allot enough time to get anything done. Especially when horses are involved.

I got to the ranch late and began attempting to multitask. Oh Lord, help me. That’s just something I should never attempt when it comes to running water. I set alarms on my phone so that I wouldn’t forget to check the waters that I’d turned on. I was distracted when one of our ranch hands let me know that the draft horses had broken a panel in their stall, and it was pretty serious. I went to grab some supplies to mend the fence temporarily and said ranch hand offered to watch the water while I did so. I scurried off, quickly dismissing my alarm on my phone. What I forgot was that I’d had more than one water running. The big pen water got turned off by the ranch hand, but a small water bucket in a back stall did not. The water ran into the yearlings’ stall and quickly rushed out of a small drainage trench that had been dug previously, but continued right into my Boss’s stud’s pen, filled an L shaped portion along the pipe rail and then proceeded to overflow into the aisles.

The property owner turned off the main water valve, thinking there was a leak. I rushed over, apologized profusely and then began digging little trenches to help the water drain. I spent the remainder of that day running back and forth between trying to bathe Gemini, check to see how the water was doing, answering the phone, putting a cooling sheet on Gem, answering the phone again, soaking grain for Gem, answering the phone again, checking the stud’s pen, answering the phone, putting Gem in his stall, answering the phone….

Suddenly, I had a call for a ride at 3pm…it was 1:45 and all the horses were covered in mud… so instead of feeding the horses, I spent an hour picking the cleanest horses I could find and grooming and saddling them. Because the sun sets so early now, that meant it was pitch black by 5:30 when I got back.

I went home feeling defeated, like the only thing I had gotten done was flooding things.

The next day, I was determine to get things done. Yeah right. I managed to get through all of the waters without flooding anything. I managed to get Gem’s hooves looked at and trimmed. It turns out that he actually doesn’t have an abscess, but his frogs have been eaten up by the moisture. I decided I would dry out his stall and put down some shavings to try to keep the mud from packing into his hooves, but I had to wait to tend to my own horses until I was done with all of the ranch stuff. While pulling out some of the ranch horses to treat them, two of the other, brattier horses decided to let themselves out for a run while my back was turned. So I had one horse standing in the wash rack and one horse with a halter half on his face while I ran off to try to keep two rowdy horses from running amuck through the ranch (right in front of BOTH of my bosses).

Fortunately, the two of them went straight into the arena, but unfortunately, that meant that they galloped around like race horses and wound up the rest of the ranch. There was no use in trying to catch them right away so I resolved to go take care of the horse that I’d left with his halter dangling around his neck. Of course though, while I did that I had to worry that one of the horses was going to get their leg caught in the pipe rail and permanently maim themselves. So I had one horse in the wash rack, whinnying and wondering what the heck was going on, one horse with a halter dangling around his face and neck, and two horses running like mad things in the arena while every other horse on the property is frantically running and bucking and screaming.

Finally at the end of the day, with the sun sinking, I shoveled out as much water as possible and dumped in some new dirt, then added shavings. $90 later, my horses are up to their cannons in shavings. That should do it!

Yeah right. Yesterday evening we had a surprise delivery. One of my waterproof sheets arrived in the mail unexpectedly. Naturally, that meant that I and my mini ventured down to see our horsies.

WATER. WATER EVERYWHERE.

I wanted to cry. All of my time and money seemed to hardly make a dent at all in the catastrophic lake effect that takes place in my horses’ stalls.

In all honesty, Rapture’s stall is considerably better. But Gemini’s stall is still a pond. On the bright side though, they both seem to actually spend time under their shelters since I pulled off two completely dry day sheets except on the tail flap of Rapture’s sheet because his butt sticks out from under the shelter.

He was so excited to see what was in the plastic bag that held his waterproof sheet. I wish I’d had a photo, but it was too dark. Now, if only Gemini’s would get here so my boys can match!

 

A Horse of a Different Color; Mud.

It’s been raining here and in the river valley, rain means one thing; mud. I left two semi-clean white horses on Monday evening with their buckets of goodies in their dry stalls and returned Wednesday morning to a pitiful sight.

My poor Gemini stood at the back corner of his stall with a small pond between him and his breakfast. To make matters worse, he has an abscess pushing its way through the central groove of his frog. The abscess appears to be draining and he is sound on which is better than it could be, so I’m trying to be patient while we wait for our farrier to return on Monday. However with all that I’ve been through with the two of them and thrush, and especially my struggle with Rapture’s hooves this past spring it drives me batty to see my horses stand on anything but dry dirt. So the bailing of water and filling of dirt ensued immediately.

After completing the morning chores of water filling, peacock feeding, and doctoring of a few ranch horses, my boys went into the roundpen where the footing was decent enough to play. And play they did.

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They went through their normal routine of rolling on both sides before running and bucking, and then played “tag” for a while. Whenever the wind blew hard enough to rustle their manes, they were off again, running and bucking.

While they competed to see who could get the dirtiest, I began bailing buckets of water out of their stalls. Gemini’s stall was the third most flooded but I didn’t get a photo of his. I did get a shot of the two worst stalls.

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Ah, the joys of being in a river valley.

Anyways, the property owner who leases to us, Jim, lives in the front half of the property. While talking about adding dirt to a stall of his, I mentioned that I was just thinking I needed to get some dirt on my horses’ stalls. He not only offered to give me some of his dirt from his private stash, but he even brought it in on his tractor and all for free. He really saved my butt that day, in several ways. But we will get to that later.

After he dumped in the dirt, I spent the remainder of the day leveling and packing the stalls down, knowing full well that it would rain again before the dirt had time to really settle. Still, any little bit that it helped would be worth it.

I’m very blessed to have such a generous boss who allowed me to borrow some mats for their stalls. I tried to strategically create a high point at the front of the stall and then cover that area with the mats so that they could stand under their shelters on dry ground. Especially since sometimes the people who feed will leave their hay on the ground, I wanted the area where they stand to eat to be as dry as possible.

We were in the home stretch, just finishing the last bit of Gemini’s stall when my shovel slipped and made contact with the PVC pipe for his automatic water. Below the cutoff valve. The pipe began spurting water like a fountain and, with all of my hard work at risk, I ran frantically through the ranch in search of the main shutoff valve. I found one but it was for the wrong part of the ranch. I ran screaming through the ranch (again) this time, back to the pipe to try to catch some of the water in a bucket and toss it in the other direction while yelling to my friend to go find Jim. Eventually, Jim shut the water off and came to inspect the damage.

Daylight began to fade as he explained what needed to happen in order to fix it. He cut the pipe and refitted it with a new sleeve, and then allowed me to feel like I did something by letting me sand the rough edge of the pipe before he put the pieces back together. I fed the horses while everything dried and thirty minutes later, it was as if nothing had happened.

At the end of the day my horses, as well as myself, were coated in mud. However their stalls were in slightly better shape, so it was all worth it. Now, I’m impatiently waiting for the rains to stop so I can begin preparing their stalls for the rest of the season. Also, the waterproof sheets and blanket liners that I ordered were placed on back order which was disappointing, so we are waiting for those to be shipped. My plan is to pack as much dirt in their stalls as possible and then start bedding them with some shavings that the feed store sells that’s extra absorbent and at that point, plus the blankets, they should be so bubble-wrapped that neither of them should ever have a damp hoof again, right?

Yeah right. A girl can dream.

I don’t know what I would do if we lived somewhere where it snowed in the winter. They’d have box stalls with heat lamps….and padded walls….

Anyways, if all goes well the ground should dry up and the farrier will be here soon so I can start treating Gemini’s hoof.

Until then, stay dry everyone.

P.S. This was the result of my mud wrestling. My pants were not that tan color when I started.

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Love is…

I was asked a vital question the other day that changed everything. I have been struggling lately since Rapture hurt himself again and I knew we had come to a crossroads.

Since Rapture injured his leg, which I’ve now come to believe is a splint rather than a suspensory ligament injury, I’ve been questioning what he will be physically capable of doing. I’m worried that he has the will to please and the full intention to be great at anything I ask him (except his greatest weakness, trail riding) but his body doesn’t seem to be able to foster that sort of willpower.

As I describe him, he’s like superman in a body made out of tinfoil.

But I refuse to give up on him. I made a promise that these boys would have a home with me for the rest of their days and I intend on keeping it.

Never the less, during a conversation about my goals in life, my boss asked me what I wanted to do (aside from equine assisted therapy). My brain scrambled for an answer. There are so many things I want; to learn and improve my riding so that I can better understand and teach horseback riding for better balance and movement of the horse as well as the rider. I want to jump, I want to compete, I want to learn more about cutting, team penning, and reining.

But I knew that there was a great possibility that Rapture would never be able to do these things.

She said something outright, probably without realizing, that I had yet to admit to myself until that moment. My bubba is a hard keeper. He just is. He doesn’t gain weight without a lot of help and if he gets too much exercise, he burns through it all. On top of that, he is prone to injuries and illnesses but I feel like a lot of that has to do with his body’s struggle to maintain a healthy condition.

But what draws me to him is his willing heart and his fighting spirit. He never complains, he always wants to move even when I know it’s not comfortable. He will go anywhere or do anything despite fear or pain. He would never hurt a soul but he does also make his feelings known to those who listen. He is so kind to children and such an amazing teacher. Sometimes I just stand back and watch him with kids and I’m blown away.

My boss told me I have a choice; I could try to find him another person who would love him and where he would have a job, I could start working him towards a purpose like being a lesson horse, or if I was really that attached to him, I could keep him as my personal horse even though he may never be able to do all of the things that I want to do. She said one thing in particular;

“I’m not trying to tell you to sell your horse; I don’t think you should. But you should think about his purpose. If he is ‘that’ horse that is truly special to you, and he could be, then keep him. But if not, think about working him towards another goal.”

Is he ‘the one?’ Considering the fact that he is a hard keeper, has weird conformation and bad habits, is less than perfectly trained and older than a desirable age, I know the answer.

I adore both of my horses. Gemini is such an amazing little gem. He really was my unexpected treasure. He is such a great lesson horse and kid horse for my daughter; that is his job and purpose and he loves it.

But Rapture was the one I thought was most promising and yet has been able to do the least. He is the one that I have to work the hardest for and yet financially earns very little.

“Gem earns the food and Bubba eats it,” is how my boss put it.

But is it true love? Is he my ‘one?’

Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of my hero-horse who would carry me toward my goals. He would be my partner in everything and nothing or no one could touch our bond. We would do everything from jumping to barrel racing to running through the woods, swimming and just lounging in the shade and munching snacks. He would be fearless and trustworthy. He would look at me and see through me, and I would do the same with him.

The first day I met Rapture, I fought back the idea that he could be that horse because I was terrified of loving him and losing him. But over time, he showed me that he trusted me even when he didn’t trust others, and that he was worthy of my trust. Even when he was in pain, he was so careful to keep me from falling off. I’ve never ridden a horse that cared that much about not dropping me. He was so brave in the face of danger. He never faltered when we were charged by dogs, stopped at a stop sign while a motorcycle pulled up beside him, or any variety of other obstacles that most horses would be horrified by.
Our first day at the beach, he charged straight into the water without hesitation, and even after he had fallen in a hole and soaked us both, he swam and played. He surprised me by being an amazing little jumper and he thrilled me with his love for barrel racing. Nothing makes me happier than hearing him answer my whistle with a whinny. I remember one day he got loose from the hitching post and began to wander. I turned the corner to see several people attempting to approach him, trying to judge which way he would go. Yet as he set eyes on me and calmly came straight to me, I realized that the bond was real even if he was a brat occasionally.

“Wow, my horse would never do that.” I tried to hide my pride when I heard someone nearby admiring his choice to come to me rather than make me chase him all over the ranch.

Even now as his leg heals, my favorite place to be is still near him, drinking my coffee and watching him play in the morning turnout, or sitting in his stall with my lunch while he nibbles his grain. I don’t do this because he’s talented or well bred. I do it for love.

Love is patient, love is kind, selfless and endless; it is all the things he always is to me.

Love is blind as I am to his imperfections. When I see him, I only see his willing heart, his silly personality, his gentle and loving character and his relentless spirit.

Love is a battle that we fight to get and keep him in good health, one that I will continue to fight because I love him and he deserves it.

People may say, “it’s just a horse.” Why spend so much time, money and energy on an animal? Why treat your friendship with a horse with the same value as you would with a human? You could always get another one, right?

Wrong.

Every horse is special but none are the same. He’s not just a horse. There is only one like him in the whole world and he is mine. He is a better friend than some human beings could ever dream of being, even and especially when I don’t deserve it. I almost value him more than I would any human companion. That sounds crazy but other horse people would understand. I would never devalue that trust and kindness that he has shown me by treating him like an object or just a way to make money.

I’m not saying that my boss was wrong (she really never is). She was realistic and I need that. But when it comes to the question of whether or not he is ‘that’ horse for me, the answer is a resounding, “hell yes.”

So now as he heals and we fight to put weight on him before winter closes its grip on us, I do so with more fervor than before, and with newfound purpose.

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