Slowly getting back at it

Happy March everyone! Who knew 3 months after getting sick I’d still be in recovery mode? The good news is the full body weakness is gone. The bad news is, my immune system sucks and my asthma isn’t exactly under control… and endurance is non existent.

Forever a problem child

The weather has also sucked. Nothing like the south, but the Mid Atlantic/southeastern Pennsylvania has had one snow storm after another. Nothing crazy, but enough. Actually, some of them have been sleet storms for my portion of the county because totals have varied upwards of 12-15” for some storms in the same county (45 miles apart) due to the snow/sleet line. But, either way it’s sucked. Even worse because we still haven’t fixed the snowblower and my driveway is evil (I can only afford plowing every so often). And yesterday? Rain. So much rain and flooding. I’m surrounded by creeks. Between the melt and the rain…

I hate my driveway.

But enough about weather. The horses.

Nay hasn’t been eating as well as he should. He’s not loving this batch of orchard grass (2 bales left if he’ll just eat them) plus Subi deciding he can’t eat breakfast inside… I’m not sure if his weight is awful or if he’s lacking muscle… anyway, horses. I just don’t like how picky he is. I’m treating him for ulcers again, but it’s not helping so I’m pretty sure that’s not it. Subi, on the other hand, is night and day since starting ulcer treatment.

He is cute though

But, due to weather, I hadn’t ridden since the beginning of February. Wednesday we reached a balmy 52 and finished shoveling out the trailer (I don’t haul in snow and that Monday it snowed) and off Nay and I went to the barn to ride. We lunged and I hopped on.

The ride was nothing exciting. We trotted a bunch and did poles (a favorite) and worked on a puddle from the leaky roof. We were joined by another haul in and found out about monthly caveletti clinics in town so we might try those as well as Friday night dressage schooling shows. I have no interest in dressage, but it’s a low key way to get him hauling elsewhere in town. It maybe adds 5 minutes to our current trip. So something to think about for this year.

Thoughts about work

We rode again Thursday, this time 100% solo. More poles. There were several set up thanks to the resident western trainer so we just played with what was there and changed our pattern constantly, circling, bending, changing direction, etc. we added in some 2ft fences here and there as well and Nay had a grand old time. I don’t know what it is, but this kind of ride really suits him. I did canter a couple of circles and found myself heaving a touch but I survived? Lol

Friday was COVID shot 1 and Saturday I was just exhausted so I waited till Sunday to ride again. In the pouring rain. Not ideal. I’m a fair weather hauler, but we did it. There was barn activity and Nay was a touch up and cold backed so I tossed him on the line. The other trainer ended up dismantling the ring ( so he could drag ) as we ride (left us piles of poles) but of all things Nay cares about), moving jumps/standards/boxes is not one of them. Didn’t even give them a second glance. Go figure. We had a nice walk/trot ride and called it a day.

Always a good boy. But if he’d just eat breakfast…

Trainer is back Tuesday from Florida. Honestly? I’m enjoying playing right now and might wait a few weeks before I start lessons. I mean, I don’t really have the strength to canter yet… so why bother? We could use help at the trot, but I just want to enjoy my rides and not make them work while I’m trying to come back.

(mostly) Wordless Wednesday: Snow Antics

The boys have decided they are DONE with winter. Nay Nay in particular. Last week he was especially agitated by the SNOW. I turned him out in the round pen hoping he could let off some steam prior to turn out (hoping he’s be easier to lead). I didn’t help and the easiest horse to turn out ended up body slamming me and I ended up with a bad case of whiplash… More injuries. Great.

Subi also has been having issues with life and has been incredibly poorly behaved turning out. I think he’s decided he wants to live out 24/7 again, but Nay and Jiminy are 100% against that. So, after try a few things turning out that… didn’t work (loose Subi is a bad idea)… I introduced clicker training and this morning was much better. I’m also trying to feed breakfast outside as a sort of compromise. I’ll keep you updated.

In the meantime, yesterday was WARM. High 40s and melting! And then flash freezing as everything dropped to 17 overnight… And mean mom forgot to put heavier blankets on everyone. Snow storm tomorrow because we need snow again on top of the melted snow turned slush turned ice concoction currently existed everywhere but? Maybe it’ll miss us? Probably not because I still haven’t gotten the snow blower fixed which means I’ll have to pay to get the driveway plowed out again.

So much rolling
The drama! And squealing.
So Freaking OVER IT.

The boys have also been going out and playing most mornings… I never get the fun stuff of video though because why would I? I start recording after the gallop around and rear and buck…

Tiny bit more excitement here:

You CAN tell why everyone but Nay Nay usually ends up with their neck covers un-velcroed…

Eleventh Hour

Sara wrote about dream horses and that got me thinking about the different horses I’ve ridden in my life as well as those I have in my life now.

I’m not sure I know what my dream horse is (is there a such thing?). I’m not even sure if I care. What I do know is that there are several horses in my life that have helped me become the horseperson I am today and helped teach me to ride.

I love the horses I own and have owned. But this post isn’t about them. This is about one of the 2 horses I have ridden in my life that have made me feel like I could do anything and, to be honest, have almost made me feel invincible. One is Ranger. But you know about him. The other?

Eleventh Hour (linking since I don’t feel comfortable embedding someone else’s instagram photo)

Eleven came to my old barn one summer. He was a massive warmblood by Consul. An older guy, he was retired to the barn to live out his days and teach some lessons. He had some injuries and was serviceable. On his best days? He looked great and you could barely tell. On his worst days, it was definitely more obvious. That said, he definitely stayed more comfortable in work and when turned out for too long, was more less comfortable, at least in the earlier days of my time knowing him.

I began riding him a year or two after he arrived at the farm and he and I clicked. Something about this horse who had been there, done that and pretty much knew everything just took away all my fears and hesitations. Some horses just help you exude confidence. For me? This was Eleven.

When I started riding with the barn owner/head trainer the summer before I bought Subi, I rode Eleven. I only rode him for a few weeks before moving on, but he gave me the confidence to show I was capable.

I remember one lesson in particular. I was in a group. Group lessons made me nervous. The jumps were always bigger, things moved faster, there was less individual attention. But, we moved through our paces. I was a master at packaging up Eleven (if you didn’t pick him up and get him off of his from end, he was very hard to ride. But, the second you did? He went from being a truck to mid-sized sedan to turn), but that point and we were having fun. I think my trainer even forgot that we were in the group because we weren’t standing out as inexperienced (or as the only non owner/lessor combo in the lesson). So, when she sent the group into this awkward and huge (well, to me it was huge) oxer over the water jump, I didn’t think twice and just galloped (used in hunter terms) Eleven up and over.

I remember landing and my trainer say, “I was going to stop and have you jump something else, but you but you looked so confident and Eleven looked so sound and happy! Do you realize you just jumped a 3’6″ oxer?!”

Oops.

Now, he rarely ever jumped that big, but on that day, it was easy. He was the ONLY HORSE I’d ever have even jumped like that without thinking because on him at that point in my riding career? Anything was possible.

So, thank you Eleven for being the best teacher I could have asked for. For being kind. For being a true gentle giant (he was about 17+).

Eleven passed away a few years ago and I’m pretty sure arthritis and his past injuries bothered him his last few years (I last saw him in 2010). But, I’m so grateful for what he taught me years ago. My biggest regret is the lack of riding photos I have with Eleven.

Not much to see around here…

Michele posted so peer pressure says I should too.

Been doing a lot of this…

The thing is, I have very little to say. Nothing is going on on the horse front. I think I’ve been on Nay Nay once since my last post? We walked, Nay spooked at a pony in western tack. We walked over poles until his brain stopped draining out of his ears, then I managed to trot 2x around the ring, and called it a day. No energy for more.

I did get hay before the snow hit!

Since then? It’s been cold. Frigid. High of freezing. Then there was a snow storm. Then it warmed up a tiny bit. Yesterday and today are warm, but… maybe I’ll “ride” or whatever you call wandering around the ring.

Snow.

It’s evidently going to snow again tonight/tomorrow. A coating to 8”… Every time I want to start riding, winter gets in the way. I don’t haul in snow. Then we’re at some single digit/teens at the end of the week. Part of me thinks I should just hold off until March and restart then.

He’s lucky he’s cute. He likes to roll in the snow walking out the the paddock…

As for me? I’m feeling less weak (I mean, I have zero strength but that weak feeling is either gone or normalized) but just exhausted. I give up. I’m trying to manage the asthma because I think I’m heading into another flare. Just can’t win.

I give up?

Also been doing this…

See? This post was so worth it!

Moving…slowly.

Since I last posted, I’ve pretty much been on the sidelines with a bunch more health ailments. Whether they were caused by body’s reaction to the asthma flare or a deeper issue or both, I don’t know. But, I’ve been on the sidelines with a bunch of weird issues ranging from an eye issue that landed me in the ER to full body weakness to some other infection. I’m off antibiotics, the eyes are healing (a specialist diagnosed me with nodular epscleritis in both eyes but it’s self contained and healing), and all bloodwork is normal so the weakness is still a mystery. We’re seeing if it resolves in another week before we run more tests (I’ve been tested for just about every autoimmune disease).

Best pair of thoroughbreds. I’m not sure they like each other all that much, but they do enjoy playing. The rest of the time they annoy the crap out of each other…

Anyway, due to how weak I’ve been, much of my time has been spent on the couch under a heated blanket. I’ve helped out with stalls when I can, but there are days when I can barely hold onto the full pitchforks (my arm is shaking holding my coffee this morning). My husband is doing it all without complaint. I think he’s discovered the solitude of stall mucking.

Trouble. He really should never be fed treats because he’s so mouthy and bites my coat pockets every morning, but… Double blanketed and so happy during a recent cold snap. Body clipped and blankets is his preferred way to spend the winter! He struggles with temperatures otherwise.

Still, I’ve missed my horse time. I feed and turn out every morning and before turnout is treat time (right now, ginger snaps seem to be everyone’s favorite, but no one will turn down peppermints or an oatmeal cream pie — Subi’s eating them again). And I bring in at night while Erik makes up dinner buckets. I have to say, the ponies have been really good lately. After all his issues the last couple of years, he’s Mr. Relaxed. My husband turns him out in the mornings and they’re best buddies now—he used to be terrified of this horse and now he’ll lead him day or night. But they’re all so good. I mean, Jiminy is Jiminy so he’s a brat, but…

My best boys on a really cold morning.

I did finally get on Nay Nay on Sunday. He definitely knows something is up with me and is being extremely careful and gentle. When we walk at night, he stays close so I can use him for balance (my entire property is on a hill). Getting on? He’s never stood that still or not moved off until I basically begged him to and even then he looked back as if to make sure I was really ready.

Missed this so much!

We more or less just walked, working on a nice forward pace and carriage, but it felt like coming home. It’s amazing how much you can miss something so much. I did try and trot, but only managed 1.5 times each way before I was jello. Still, it was a place to start and Saint Nay Nay took care of me every step of the way.

All dressed up with no where to go

My goal is to ride again tomorrow and do more of the same. At this point, I don’t care how little we do, I’m just happy to get back on.

Saint Nay Nay

Regaining fitness

I was sick folks. Really sick. Way worse than I thought. When the urgent care doctor told me I could die, I kind of ignored him because, honestly, who wants to hear that kind of thing. Then my primary care told me the same thing though I was doing a lot better by that point. But, damn, asthma is no joke. 3 weeks of heavy duty nebulizer medicine 4x/day (which makes me feel like crap), dexamethasone (don’t be like me and be allergic to prednisone because then no one will prescribe you steroids), I’m finally approaching the world of the living again. My lung levels are finally out of danger zone and actually resembling normal person zone and my husband isn’t worried about me keeling over and dying. So progress, right?

But, I am weak. While I got crazy bad Xmas week, the truth is, I probably was going downhill for several weeks before that and just… ignored it. Because why not? Every time I rode, I was short of breath. I was tired all the time. But, it wasn’t that bad. I just tried to use my inhaler before and after I rode and moved on with life. For future reference? Not a good treatment plan going forward.

Nay Nay in cross ties
I love him.

So, now that I’m approaching the living, I’m trying to figure out how to re-introduce riding. When I got back on the other weekend, I know it was too early, but mentally, I needed to sit on my horse and walk around. I ended up having to recover for 2 days from the 10 minute walk and 1 minute trot session. But, with steroids in my system, I’m able to do a little bit more.

This weekend, I managed to get out both Saturday and Sunday to ride. Saturday, we worked on the flat with the draw reins and had a nice ride before popping over some tiny fences. It was a good ride. I enjoyed myself. Nay enjoyed himself. All was good. But, it took a lot out of me. Lesson learned. Nebulized BEFORE I ride. Then, I got home and crashed on the couch vs nebulizing and basically missed another nebulizer dose. Not cool.

First jumps in ???

Sunday? Armed with a nebulizer treatment, I felt much stronger. Except, I left circumstances dictate my ride. Nay has been REALLY happy with the draw reins. But they make me work very hard. We can spend 10 minutes just walking and stretching into a forward walk and I felt lazy. So, since there was a lesson in the ring, I decided that I would wait until the lesson was over and then forgo the reins. I got on and forgot how much organization they help me have. In addition, the lesson left (sub trainer as trainer is in FL) opened the barn door 100% so there was distraction and glare and movement every time we passed. It wasn’t a big deal, but just unnecessary distractions and I couldn’t focus my horse. The easiest solution? Hop off, close the damn door, and get back on with my ride. But, I felt stupid doing that and to do that I have to pretty much leave the indoor (the door was open wider than it is in the summer. I’ve never seen it that far open). So, pretty much our entire ride was just unfocused. Add dogs galloping around outside, it was wasn’t the ride I wanted. And I was tired from the day before.

Baby sitter pony

I ended up giving up on flat work after a while as it just wasn’t going anywhere. I was getting tired, I couldn’t get Nay forward enough and focused and it just wasn’t working. So we popped over some little fences and called it a day. He wasn’t bad, we just weren’t communicating. I’m going to try and get back out this week and see if I can get a better ride in when I actually make a plan and stick with it.

He’s always good even when I’m a mess

I’m trying to balance a little bit of yoga (I like power yoga, but I’m not there) to regain ALL the core strength with riding. But, it’s SO FREAKING HARD.

Anyway, I’m riding again. Maybe my February I’ll actually have some strength back? All video is from the Pivo. My settings were messed up and not working, but after not letting me change anything (speed, autozoom, etc.) finally Sunday night I had access to those settings. I’m hoping that this will allow me to make better use of it. I have some flat video, but the tracking is complete crap so… I’m also still trying to find a good place to put the tripod…. The end of the arena is too far, but the middle doesn’t work well either. Oh well…

Happy New Year

Very short post since I have pretty much nothing to say. I’m on the road to recovery, or so I hope. I’m finding it’s 2 steps forward, 1 step back. I do too much and I’m down for the count. Seriously, asthma sucks. My goal this week is to find a good pulmonologist. So that’s pretty much where I’m at. I managed to clean 2 stalls yesterday and then pretty much spend the entire day on the sofa under a heated blanket. And on Saturday, I took Nay Nay out to the barn to lunge and against my better judgement, I got on and walked around for 10 minutes and trotted for 1 entire minute.

Way more than I should have attempted at this point (I was shaking when I got off), but mentally? I needed it. First ride in about 3 weeks.

#husband photography

Nay Nay was the best boy I could have asked. My goal is the be ready for a lesson by the end of January when my trainer is back from FL for a few days. We’ll see. Even if I can just manage an easy flat lesson, I’m OK with that. We’ll spend a lot of time walking, marching at the walk, bending at the walking, and all that jazz until then. And building up time at the trot too. Just taking it slow and easy until then.

January 1st also marked the boys official birthday’s with the jockey club. Subi is 24 (!!!) and Nay Nay is 10! We celebrated with carrots, apples, peppermints, and gingersnaps. Nay Nay got oatmeal cream pies (Jiminy got some too), but Subi has decided he no longer eats them? Who knows.

Anyway, that’s where we’re at.

Happy New Year!

Blog Hop: 2020 Summary

Happy happy you all! I’m out of commission and holding down the couch with the help of a very concerned Hermione dog and typing this from my phone so we shall see how it goes. Had a crazy asthma flare up and I’m at home against advice of the urgent care doctor who wanted to send me to the hospital by ambulance, but that wasn’t happening. Peak flow meter showed I was at critical levels but in Covid times? Is the hospital safe for those of us with respiratory issues? So I have some new medicines and I’ve agreed to go if I get even worse (and I know I can use an epipen for asthma now too in an emergency). Nebulizing is my full time job as of today.

What’s the best thing that happened to you in 2020?

Personal: Working from home the last 9 months has been incredible! I know my colleagues hate it but I love it!

Horsey: Nay Nay technically joined me in early December 2019 but 2020 was devoted to getting to know him and falling deeply in love with him.

Makes me smile everyday. Even if he now knows how to unzip pockets to find the cookies…

What’s the worst thing that happened to you in 2020?

Personal: Not seeing my mom much. I’ve seen her 2-3 times since March vs every couple of weeks. That plus the standard migraine and now asthma hell.

Horsey: Depression of losing Batt. Yes, I lost him in late 2019, but the grief… that and ulcer hell

Still miss these two together

What was your biggest purchase in 2020?

Personal: Lots of little things but I guess a new mattress?

Horsey: Nay Nay’s new saddle. Was NOT planning that one. Actually I bought him 2 saddles this year… but his Albion k2 was the purchase… I guess it was worth it? First ride he stopped dragging?

Love it so much!

What was your biggest accomplishment in 2020?

Personal: Ask me later? Preferably when I’m not nebulizing? Right now I can only come up with accomplishments like streaming the entire NCIS franchise. Or, other random LONG CBS shows in way too little time…

Horsey: so much with Nay Nay. First jumps, first canter fences, getting over blocks (jumping). But really? The damn right lead. I did that. Yes, we did need a training ride (8 whole minutes), but it helped me see stuff and even though the plan was to keep up the training rides, we never needed to again. Nay is a quick study. He wants to please. He wants to be right. So do I. So, that ride taught me how to teach him? And how to use the spur to push him over. And within 2 rides? We were getting the lead after a couple of asks. 2 rides later? Almost immediately. Now? It’s less dramatic. And I have to work the left lead a touch more just because the right is so good.

What do you feel COVID robbed you of in 2020?

Personal: Just not seeing family and close friends because I won’t with covid. It’s not worth the risk.

Horsey: Maybe I could have taken Nay out and about but I’m happy where we’re at.

Were you subject to any COVID Impulse Buys in 2020?

Personal: Broadway Leggings.

Horsey: Nay Nay got extra personalized saddle pads and a cooler and…

Rules to ride by

Goofiest horse

I have several draft posts about my recent lessons that I just haven’t had the motivation to write about. They haven’t been bad. They haven’t been exciting. They haven’t been boring. I just haven’t had the motivation. That said, I do like writing about lessons as this blog also serves as a record of Nay Nay’s progress. Still… I’m not pushing it.

Not impressed by the snow.

My last 3 lessons (all taking place in a 7 day period) have been all over the board. This reflects my recent rides. Everything as of late is lacking consistency. I’ll be honest? This has sort of wrecked my confidence a bit. But, going forward, I need to just put that aside and ride the horse I have.

Instead of recapping the rides, I’m going to instead recap the takeaways.

  1. Sit DOWN. When I’m uncomfortable, I have a habit of tensing in my thighs and ankles and sitting ON the saddle vs IN the saddle. If I really sit down, Nay starts to relax. If I tense, I give Nay reason to tense.
  2. Engage the brain. When I get on, get to work immediately. Work doesn’t mean trotting. Work mean getting into the center of the ring and circling and changing direction and marching forward. Start the trot the same way. ONLY once the brain is engaged and the body and back is warmed up do we leave the center and continue on. Once on the rail? Sometimes the brain still needs extra engagement. Nay likes poles on these days so circling and adding some pole work and lots of change of direction once his back is warmed up is good.
  3. Utilize draw reins. This one might be controversial to some, but, like everything else, they are a tool and when used properly, they have a place. We’ve introduced them and Nay Nay is responding well.
  4. MARCH ON. This is especially important when using draw reins. If I am using draw reins, I CANNOT have an up and down trot. It needs to have power, it needs to be forward, it needs to have controlled speed. Basically, I need to ride. So often when trotting, I just am happy if we are trotting slowly and not dying, but this isn’t OK. This isn’t a proper trot. So, March On.
  5. Ride the horse you have today. Basically, stay in the moment. I can’t ride concerned about what happened last week or yesterday because the horse I had those rides might not be the horse I have this ride. This one is SO hard for me. I fixate on past issues or mistakes or fears rather than embracing the moment.
  6. Control what you can control. Some rides just don’t happen. If Nay is tense? It might be worth it to take advantage of running through the indoor. Preemptively. If I get on and it’s STILL not going well despite engaging the brain? I can get off and lunge or run around the indoor. That’s OK. Sometimes the only thing you can do is free lunge or run around or lunge. That’s OK too. If it goes really well and everything is accomplished in 10 minutes? It’s OK to end there too.
So gross

While Nay Nay hops around and curls up in a ball, he doesn’t actually do anything beyond that. In addition, he ONLY does this at the trot. Never at the canter. So, as long as he warms up and works out of it, things are usually fine once we do canter. I’m so much more comfortable at the trot MENTALLY, but my horse does NOTHING at the canter. I have no clue. Brains are strange things.

Anyway, it’s cold and miserable (temperature wise, we finally have sun over snow and ice) but I’m hoping to get out to ride by Saturday if I can dig out the trailer. We’ll see if I can follow my own advice!

Winter wonderland

1 Year.

Somehow, it’s been a year since Nay Nay joined the family. While the last 18 months have been pretty awful (and obviously 2020 is 2020), Nay Nay has been the bright light.

I was planning to do this Saturday, but we spent our anniversary having a terrible ride. It was cold and windy and I questioned the last year. Of course, Sunday we had a great ride so I just wrote of Saturday. There is a reason I never ride on horse-anniversaries.

Anyway, enjoy a year of Nay Nay pictures. Way too many. But, these made me happy this morning. LOL

First ride!

Coming Home:

December and January:

February:

March:

April:

May:

June:

July:

August:

September:

October:

November:

December: