The next phase

So finished the 3 days of steroids. To put it in perspective – when your Dr. puts you on prednisone for an infection, you usually take 20 mg. I am getting 3 days of IV steroids, at 1000mg each. So think about how awful that 20 mg makes you feel and multiply it 50 times! I did sleep a little bit last night though.

But a new symptom! Gotta love it – vibrating and numbness in my stomach and legs. It’s a lot of fun trying to walk like this. And of course, the world doesn’t stop and I have work and things to do, so I continue on my way. But going to bed early tonight, that’s for sure.

The high point of my day was teaching a lesson this morning to the nicest girl. It was great to get my horse fix, even if it was thru someone else!

The worst year EVER!!!

I am so ready for 2012. To sum up this year. It started with a suspected appendicitis attack which turned out to be a health problem returning in my intestines that I have already had operated on. To continue, I then took a spill off my horse and suffered a concussion that lasted 2 months. So when I could finally ride again in March, I tore my rotator cuff. Then, when I could ride again in May, I threw out my back. Then when I thought I finally was over it all, I herniated 2 discs in my back, have another bulging and spent the whole summer basically standing. And interspersed in it all, my MS flared up 2x. So I think I can pretty much say this year has sucked and in a big way. I can count on one hand the number of times I have ridden. It is depressing to watch my friends all ride and show. I have had to cancel numerous events and plans throughout the summer.

But finally, some relief. Back injections are helping. Getting back to yoga (very gently yoga) and starting back on an exercise routine are all steps in the right direction. It may be a while before I get on a horse again. but I will. To be able to ride again will be great. But I wonder how long I can wait until I jump again? (thank goodness my doctor doesn’t read this!)

Happy 2009!!

It’s a new year (finally). And a new beginning. My surgery is now 2 months old, and I am feeling better (slowly). My MS  has been feeling pretty good, a few flare ups of minor proportions, so nothing to get worried about.  I took it easy over the holidays and tried not to get too stressed. I made some decisions to try to alleviate the stress in the future (namely, not doing everything for everyone). 

So it is time for the resolutions. I resolve to take better care of myself. Make exercise a priority. And I have missed riding so much these last 2+ months. Riding is a priority – and showing. My horse will be 20 years old this spring and I want to enjoy him as much as I can in whatever time we have. I want to do more painting, a lot more. I have been doing more wildlife and animal painting and i really love it. I still love the portraits, but I was kind of foundering around, trying to figure out my niche. I want to get back into calligraphy as I have missed that so much. I want to write more, and be more creative. 

I also hope to be able to do more for others this year. Help out, volunteer, do something to make a difference. I want to make a difference in someone’s life or offer something to others that can be of help.

So those are all of my hopes for the new year, to stay healthy, physically and mentally. I would also like to learn to play guitar, but that might have to wait for 2010. For now, Guitar Hero will have to do.

I’m hoping that 2009 holds something great for all of us.

More butterflies

Ok, I got requests for more butterfly pics. So here they are. The first one is a butterfly from Asia, and the second is a Monarch. If you ever have a chance, I highly recommend the Butterfly Garden! I have some video too, but I have to figure out how to post them on here!

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Now onto the bad news: my previous riding instructor and good friend has a horse. I found out this morning that her horse broke his shoulder. They are watching him and keeping him comfortable, but it is touch and go right now. These animals are so big and when they are injured, we feel such a sense of helplessness. We do what we can to help, but we can’t put them on our laps and cuddle with them. When an animal that large and that powerful is injured or sick, it seems that much worse. The look they get in their eyes touches us deeply. I hope that Dutch and Kendra make it thru this.

Horses and drugging

img_2075.jpgHorses are such amazing and majestic animals, and I have a hard time understanding the mentality of many that participate in any horse-related sport (hunters, eventing, racing, just to name a few) that think the quickest and easiest way to ‘manage’ their mount is through the use of drugs. In most venues most drugs are banned and there is random testing. The word ‘random’ is the problem. There isn’t enough monitoring of trainers and riders and what they do to their horses to get them to WIN.

I speak from experience, having boarded my horses at a big hunter show barn. I didn’t know any different or know any better (I was a new horse owner), but it seemed strange to me that the horses rarely got turned out. If they did get turn out, it was in the indoor ring, alone. Can’t have a fancy show horse getting scraped up! So my poor horse was turned out once a week if he was lucky. I would go and ride every day, but he was crazy. I came very close to selling him because he was getting to be too much to handle. The owner of the barn pulled me aside and told me I should consider putting him on Resurpine. I, being a new horse owner, had no idea what this was. She proceeded to tell me that there were a few horses there that were on it, no big deal. She could call her vet and have him send some over. I started getting a funny feeling. “How can your vet just send it over? He has never seen or treated my horse. He knows nothing about him. How can he just prescribe meds for him? And what exactly is this drug?” Her response: “Oh, it is just something that calms them down.”

I went home and did the first thing most of you reading would do: I went to the internet. I was a subscriber to an online forum with a very well respected horsewoman, Jessica Jaheil. I sent a question to her about this drug and what it was and how the owner (and my trainer at the time) was recommending I put my horse on it.

Now this was an international forum and she gets thousands of questions. She answered mine almost immediately AND she sent me a personal email. Her answer? “Get out of that barn as fast as you can. That drug is bad news. It is used mainly at racetracks to deaden the horses’ senses to the environment. It can cause respiratory failure, heart attacks, ulcers, or death. Get out of that barn!”

Now I was scared. This was ridiculous. All my horse needed was to be turned out! To run and play with other horses.

So a few days later I was at the barn, chatting with a mother. She also worked there a couple of days a week. She starts telling me how her daughter fell off my horse in a lesson. My horse? What the hell was she doing riding my horse? Well, she was told it was OK by the trainer. “Maybe it was because Willy stumbled and she fell off. Maybe he had too much ACE,” she said. ACE? What??? “Why did he have ACE?” She looks at me like I am nuts, and it finally sinks in that I have no clue what she is talking about. “He gets it everyday. To keep him calm in his stall.” Are you kidding me? (A quote from a horse website: “Acepromazine is a very useful tranquilizer that depresses the central nervous system, causing sedation, relaxation, and a reduction in involuntary movements. It does not provide any relief from pain, however, and will not prevent a horse from moving or kicking (possibly slower) if it is startled or feels pain. Accidental intra-arterial injection usually into the carotid artery during injections into the neck can produce signs ranging from excitement and disorientation to convulsions seizures and even death.

I moved him four days later.

Drugging of horses is still happening. And I’m sure it happens everywhere. If you can’t handle your horse, maybe he isn’t the horse for you. Or look at his situation – is there something you could change to make life better for him? Is he getting worked enough? If someone suggests doing something you aren’t comfortable with, get out of there and get your horse out too. They aren’t looking out for your best interests, they are looking for a quick fix. Go with your gut and your head. If it sounds like something is wrong, it probably is.

I thought this was good from another website regarding drugging and the issues with drugging:
1) Professionals who do not know, or prefer not to know, the long and short term side effects of the drugs they are administering.
2) Owners who do not KNOW what their trainers are giving their horses.
3) Owners who know but do not care, either because they do not KNOW the tremendously detrimental side effects of such meds or because they simply believe it is necessary to WIN.

These animals would do anything for us. It is time to step up and do something for them.

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If wishes were horses . . .

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Photo by Clark Angarano cangaran@rochester.rr.com

What is the old saying? If wishes were horses the beggars would ride? I wished that were true for my whole childhood! Horses were part of my life since I kid. I have always loved them. To me, they were always such majestic animals. I remember as a kid, sitting there, staring at the grass thinking what a perfect day to ride. My grandmother took me religiously to my riding lesson every week at the Golden Horseshoe, with Mr. Burnash, and old cowboy. I learned to ride western and fell in love with my first horse, Echo.

Mr. Burnash is gone now, and I know Echo is too. But that started my love of these animals. I have a horse now, Willy (show name Shakespeare) and love him like no other. He was my wedding gift from my wonderful husband. I think he knew that was a good way to start our marriage!
I have been at a few barns around Rochester, some good, some bad, and some really, really bad. I won’t go into any details, but let me put it this way: drugging horses is alive and well in the area and at many of the local shows.

Finding a good trainer is another issue. I have been with quite a few and each one had something different to offer. My first trainer was great: she helped me get over some fears and helped me deal with the weakness the MS had left with me. It was soon that we were jumping and I was loving it! She left to pursue a more lucrative lifestyle (teaching). Another trainer was no-nonsense and made me ride through anything. When Willy was misbehaving, she had me ride, regardless. I don’t know that this was good, as I learned many bad habits and so did he. As the owner of the barn, I couldn’t say too much, but we left after I discovered some abuses done to my horses. I had another trainer who was great. As someone who had shown extensively, she was great to get me back into showing. She was a great teacher and knew so much about horses. She doesn’t train anymore, but is still involved with horses. Yet another trainer worked in a different manner, teaching more centered riding than hunters. She was a good teacher and very kind to the horses, but I realized it wasn’t the riding I wanted to do. And we ended up moving, yet again. The trek to the barn was just too much.

One thing, I have stayed friends with all of the trainers I have ridden with. I have met some great people along the way. By the way, I am at a new barn, close to my home. I am now with a trainer who shows, does hunters, and who I consider a friend. So it has all worked out well. Willy is now 18 and still going strong!

But this wasn’t too be just about the horses, it was about finding something that is an escape, a dream, part of you. Finding that which makes you feel alive and going for it. My doctor isn’t too pleased that I jump, but he knows that it keeps my sanity!

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Photo by Clark Angarano cangaran@rochester.rr.com