Thankful.

We’ve been dealing with some horrifically awful weather around here.

It was horrifically cold on Thanksgiving and Black Friday and bitter all day on Saturday.

Wednesday I hit Dover and was able to exchange Subi’s Northwind heavyweight detach-a-neck and a exchange it for a new one as the stitch was coming out on one of the surcingles and repairing it would likely void the warranty. So, we picked up a brand new blanket just in time for the unexpected cold front.

And cold it was. Thursday was miserable. But Friday morning was worse temperature wise. Jiminy was frozen until I threw a second medium over his medium and sheet. He’d have been fine had we transitioned into cold. Instead, we’ve had temps in the 50s. And suddenly it was in the teens with wind chills in the single digits.

But worse than temperatures was the sudden frozen mud. With all the rain came insane mud. INSANE. Frozen concrete foot prints. Knee deep footprints. Neither Batt or Jiminy would walk unassisted and Jiminy wouldn’t even walk out of the paddock assisted… Somehow, SUBI was handling all of this better than anyone. I really wonder if he’s feeling good thanks to the Equioxx? Granted, he skipped the paddock completely.

Thanksgiving before dinner I basically melted down to my mom and we considered plans (including sending Jiminy and/or Batt to Tennessee and boarding Subi) and that night fed everyone as best we could out of the paddock (the plan was to use the lower grass field, but Batt said NO). We’ve continued that since. I hate not dividing them, and I can’t control confirm that everyone stay in his own bucket but it’s sort of working for now.

In the mean time, we’re all surviving. Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday sales came and went and I purchased nothing really other than making a down payment on a barn and now I just sit and wait. I am so thankful for my mother for being here every step of the way and basically talking me off a ledge on Thanksgiving and making this journey possible. Of course, had she known 20 some years ago when she agreed to one lesson a week that it would turn into all this, maybe she would have said no. Or bought be a horse. Or leased me a horse. Maybe then I would have burned out or never wanted to get out of a full care situation? Who knows. But we’re in this mess together now!

The rest of my weekend was spent belt making. My own versions of more expensive surcingle belts. I’m taking some to a craft fair this weekend (more accurate, I’m taking them to my aunt who is taking them to a craft fair), but if interested, let me know.

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Just a few of the belts so far… 

 

Burnout.

I was planning to write this earlier and then work got in the way.

And then I got an email today that shouldn’t have ruined me but did.

Here’s the thing about me. I care. Way. Too. Much. So, as a result, I either put no effort into something or I put 110% into everything. There is nowhere in between.

I’ve been joking with Michele about her taking Jiminy to TN and she’s not allowed to, but in the back of my mind, I keep thinking, what if I did send Jiminy to TN? That would leave me with Batty and Subi. Obviously I’d never be able  to ride again, but if I got rid of Batt, then I’d just  have Subi. Could I board him somewhere? Put him down? WTH? I know  I’m just stressed.  Stressed with work, stressed with life. Stressed with money. Stressed with migraines. And burned out. And it’s raining. And everything looks like crap.And my yard it washing away. And nothing is good.

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Mini for sale?

And I’m not having fun. I feel like utter crap. I need to ride and enjoy at least Batt and things will be better and I know  it. But then weather sucks ALL THE TIME and I don’t have  anyone to ride with and I’m not exactly motivated to start solo trail riding through Fair Hill…

And then Batt ruins not ONE but  TWO  fly sheet (one was repaired and the other was on it’s last legs) and the 2 I bought both didn’t fit…

And then I checked my personal email  (that I don’t check obsessively) and had the most WTF email from my former boss. And I’m back to being upset and done and  in tears about my former teaching job. I wasn’t fired, but position was eliminated (but part of it was advertised before I was let go) but here is huge long list of all the reasons why I’m a terrible person….:

*complained about the horses (I regularly described a few of them as saints and did try to explain that a few of students where terrified of a couple and blamed the issue on the student — FOR RIGHT OR WRONG)

*complained about the people (I miss my students terribly so I’m not sure where this came from)

*turned away those you didn’t want to teach (I turned 1 student away because I was told I could.  They regularly NO SHOWED even when they confirmed they would be there. Didn’t return calls/texts, then cancelled 5 minutes before the lesson or just failed to show up. Then when he was there, it was as struggle. Then they’d fall off the face of the earth for a while. )

*only wanted to teach those that could get their own horse (I was happy to catch/tack up???)

*only wanted to teach older teens or adults (I just happen to like adult beginners. Meaning first time on a horse adults. I do better with them then teens or kids. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t teach the others?????? I was happy too. I  had an 11 year old, a 13 year old, a 56 year old, a 17 year old, and  a 70 year old who just stopped riding). 

*only wanted to teach certain hours/days  (I’m sorry, I said I only wanted 1 day/week. Once I was allowed to do Saturdays, this was the day I stuck with (unless doing make ups). I work an hour 20 minutes from the barn.  I  leave work at 5. There are no lights (I did teach teach from car lights once, but it wasn’t safe).

*appeared annoyed if asked to do a trail ride (I guess I  just have an annoyed appearance. I just like to know when there are trail rides. Though maybe the time when I was soaked through and frozen from torrential rain I may have been annoyed.I thought I w as just cold.)

 

*complained when you didn’t get a tip for trail rides (I once made the statement that I don’t care if I ever get tips for trail rides. But, the trail ride that called constantly making complaints and changes and  showed up late and blah blah…Then I was asked by then boss if they tipped. I said no. That may have been my one exception to my tipping rule. But, had they said thank you and  not complained about wearing a helmet? That would have been nice too.)

*didn’t pick up after your students (I’m not the last person in t he barn. I  swept up after  my lessons, but I wasn’t the only lessons of the day. Maybe  I should have swept up after the boarders or the owner’s daughter’s lessons, but…)

*had to clean up after you and your lessons every week (If this were going on every week, why was nothing said?)

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I want young,healthy,and sound back.

*didn’t make sure horses were cared for properly after lessons (I did. To the point that several times I double checked that a couple horses were  OK  to go out. I also purchased my own fly spray to use on horses for trail rides  and lessons because none was provided for the lesson horses. It was the cheap bronco stuff, but it was better than nothing. I also sunscreened noses before turn out or applied stuff to rain rot…)

*didn’t even ask lesson people to participate in horse shows (I did. They said no. Or one showed until she decided didn’t enjoy it. )

What you also fail to remember or tell anyone, are the many things that we did for you, including:

 Helped you with lessons and to get ready with trail rides (I guess thank you wasn’t enough)

Let you bring your horse for the day (I always asked and I always said thank you)

Gave you vet advice on many occasions (I have certainly shared this. Do you need a list?)

Took off a day of work to come be with you to put Haley down (  While I don’t talk about this much at all, this counts as one of the kindest things anyone has ever done. But, I have mentioned it and the people who need to know, know.)

Treated you as one of our barn family (I apologize if I forgot my  place as the hired help)

Paid you fairly (at least 30%) of lessons/trail rides (I’m sorry if I should have been paid less than this?????)

Provided you with new lesson people (yes? I scheduled some, others chose to ride elsewhere  or failed to ever respond. 

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Even he looks happy.

You treated my customers as though they were only there for your financial gain and not mine.  Your actions came at a price to my business and impacted it negatively, so if you want to read the above and then tell me again that I’m the one that was unprofessional or lacked integrity, go ahead and try. (I was either fired or my position was eliminated.  You cannot have it both ways. Maybe I lack integrity, but, as the owner of a business, if I was this terrible of a person and that terrible of a horse person, why was this NOT ONCE DIRECTLY DIRECTLY DIRECTLY addressed to me? Dear Sarah, these are all t he things you are doing wrong. Please improve by this date or you will need to go. Thank you, the Management. ? Yes, in person would be better, but things don’t work that way… I haven’t responded, I don’t know that I will. I’m not sure I have anything I want to say. I’ve said it all here. I’m sure we have mutual acquaintances and maybe  she’ll read this blog and comment (joy of moderated comments). But,  I don’t care. I’m  done. )

The truth has multiple sides. I don’t know what it is. I just know that I’m sick of putting  my heart and soul into things and getting  flattened.

I really hate the horseworld sometimes.

And horses?  They take so much out of you. Is it worth it?

Does anyone want to a horse? Do I really mean that? I don’t know.

But I miss this.

 

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I miss days on this horse.

 

Stuck in a rut.

Following the drama of last week (I did, by the way, receive my final paycheck), I spent all week looking forward to a trail ride on Saturday with Michele.

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Pathetic. Freeloaders.

Less a fabulous lesson on Ranger that almost didn’t happen due to a conference that had me out of town on my usual lesson day, the week basically sucked. I could talk about my lesson, which was FABULOUS, but I find when I have terrible weeks and my life sucks, for some reason, I feel the need to keep my lessons to myself. Let me just say that Ranger can cure anything and the lesson ended with the jumps getting hiked up for a final course. We cooled out with a walk around the fields and just for a moment, all was right in the world.

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Ranger fixes problems.

Good mood vanished pretty quickly when I headed over to the vet to pick up meds for Batts allergies/heaves to find that even though they said they’d leave it in the pick up box (that I couldn’t find), it wasn’t there. One bag of stuff was, just not mine. Ugh. Next morning I got up at 3:30 to head to a conference where my first presenter was LATE. And a whole lot of other drama. Finally on Friday, got back to vet, found out someone else had picked up my meds, got the meds…

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Conference views

Which brings us to Saturday. Feed horses, all seems good, got out to open the gate and notice Batt is toe walking on his right hind. Shit. He’s not lame yet, but he’s not sound. Abscess. I text Michele in disgust cancelling our trail ride, toss a muzzle on Jiminy, throw the horses on grass, and basically sit in my backyard and cry. I had a why me pity party. It wasn’t pretty.

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Toe walking and proud of getting out of work. 

Then I got a text from the mom of the ONE STUDENT I didn’t contact about me no longer teaching (I only taught her 2x, barn owner taught her once or twice) as they have no loyalty to me. I ASSUMED that the idiots were contacting my students to tell them the change of instructors… But, I guess not? They were letting me know a neighbor was bringing her over, but… Nice. Professional. Anger resumed. I didn’t respond. Who knows if she was even having a lesson today? Not me.

Yesterday Batty was sad, gimpy, and in pain. My friend Sandra came out and we tackled his hoof which I failed the day before… He got the full treatment. During a 45 minute white lightning soak (FINALLY have IV bags to soak in), we removed about 40 pounds of hair, pulled his mane, brushed out his tail, and let him graze. After the soak, he got his hoof covered in iodine then an ichthammol wrap (in which he tried to murder me for holding his hoof up for too long). Hopefully he’ll be feeling better soon. Assuming I have the patience, I’ll do another soak tonight or tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the pollen is OUT OF CONTROL. And the coughing is out of control. Ugh.

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Disillusioned.

I considered not writing this post.

It’s more personal than a lot of things I post.

But, I have a blog for writing and reflecting on horse related things. If not times like this, then when?

As some of you may know, I have been teaching riding lessons on and off for a number of years. I started in college for my old barn and trainer at the time. She was…crazy, but most horse people are crazy. Or at least a lot of them are? Either way, the teaching paid my horse bills. It allowed me to afford board and lessons when I bought Subi. It made horses possible. I taught after I graduated. I taught through grad school. I taught until I started my first job in academia. And then I game notice and quit. I was mentally scarred due to some passive aggressive shit. I said I’d never teach again. This was 2010.

3 years later, I found that I needed money and a friend of mine offered me the opportunity to start teaching. We had both worked for the previous trainer. Things were to be different. She had her own barn, she learned what not to do. And for the past… 5 years, I have been teaching some lessons and leading trail rides. Not a lot, just once a week. When things got tight, I spent a summer working both weekend days and it almost killed me, but I did was I needed to do. There were a handful of days that I cancelled (business trips, 1 horse show, a couple vacation, when I was sick — though I usually dragged myself out, etc. BUT RARELY in 5 years).. Or students cancelled. But we weren’t a lesson factory. The old barn I was chastised if I cancelled even if there was a foot of snow on the road, the roads weren’t plowed, and all my students had already cancelled…

But, this past Saturday, I mentioned that there were 3 Saturday’s this summer where I either couldn’t teach (1) or I couldn’t do trail rides (2). One was due to the a business trip (an annual conference where I’m always away for a weekend in May) and the others I was willing to teach, but not do the trail rides that day (if there were trail rides) — 1 for a wedding, the other for a family reunion. My boss was cold but told me to email her the dates.

Yesterday I saw a posting for a trail guide for Saturdays and Sundays. The Saturday shift was my shift. I was suspicious and was debating how to confront her about this. I hadn’t yet done this.

This morning I was fired via text message:

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I have not responded. If I didn’t need my final pay check, I probably wouldn’t reply at all. I instead contacted all my students and told them I would not be teaching any more and answered questions they had as best I could. While the text indicates my students are down, I have the same number of students I had last fall and last summer. I am in no different place then I was last year. So, the excuse is just that, an excuse. Why? I don’t know. My students are upset.

I did let my allies at the barn know because I’m sure some sort of rumor about my departure will come about. What? No idea. I just want people I considered friends to know the truth (and my students). But I’m sure some story exists. I was immediately removed from the barn’s internal facebook group. As was my good friend who also rides with me. I guess she was fired from the barn too…

But I’m once again disillusioned by the horse world. I’ve once again been let down by the horse world. I just want to go hug Subi and Batty and Jiminy and Ranger. I won’t see Ranger this week (stupid conference and I can’t seem to get my lesson rescheduled either). But, there’s a reason why I don’t ever want to work for my current trainer… I don’t want to mess with that relationship.

People are crazy. Horse people are crazy. Maybe I need a new hobby. Any suggestions?

In the meantime, I need a new part time job.

I could go on and on about all the things I disagree with. All the things I would change. But I won’t. I will say, after 5 years of employment, who fires someone via text message? Without a real reason?

I’m done teaching. For good.

4 years.

Yesterday marks the 4 year anniversary of a day that really changed my life in ways I had no way of knowing.

4 years ago I came home from work a little early (I had a migraine and I think I just wasn’t feeling work and wanted to lay down) and went out to feed Hayley her “tea.” Hayley got a mid day meal we called tea. Normally Erik fed and he had the routine down, but since I was home first, I decided to feed. So, part of the routine was clearing everyone out of the paddock/shed so I could feed her. I decided to untie the hay nets first and had her bucket waiting in the lawn.

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It was muddy and for some strange reason Batty was hanging out in the shed (he uses the shed when there’s food in it and when it’s raining or snowing). So I went it and starting untying the nets. Hayley runs in and sees Batts and charges out, bucking. ***Please keep in mind, this was my crippled mare.***

On her way out, she bucked and clipped me in the head. Remember that there was a whole lot of mud in the shed. I fell forward, grabbed the shed to stop myself from falling snapped my head back, basically rocking my brain around my skull a few times. But, I didn’t fall in the damn mud. Anyway, somehow I didn’t lose consciousness and got myself out of the paddock  with the hay net (I think the hay net ended up on my bed), but I don’t think I fed Hayley. Details are fuzzy. Looking back, I actually don’t have a lot of memory of this beyond what I’m writing which is freaky.

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Sweet, innocent Hayley. I feel guilty that I never trusted her completely again. And I tea was 100% my husband’s responsibility. I could do breakfast and dinner but not tea. 

So I called my husband, argued with him about going to the ER when he got home (I was in the against column), called my aunt, chatted her for awhile (in all honesty, I was trying to stay awake and alive and conscious), and then I looked in the mirror, saw the shape of a hoof on my forehead and agreed to go to the ER when my husband got home (I’m sure he’d have made me go, but…).

Of course, the idiot ER doctor was the start of my problems. After determining that I had no skull fracture (thank you for being barefoot Hayley — I’m actually paranoid about putting shoes on anyone now — I’d likely be dead) the idiot told me since there was no fracture, I had no concussion. I mean, I didn’t help by arguing I was fine, but anyone could tell I wasn’t. I was told to follow up with my primary in 3-5 days and take ibuprofen if I felt pain. And maybe I could use some ice, but only if absolutely necessary. And there was no reason not to go to work.

So, the next day, feeling like crap, light headed, sick to my stomach, with a pack of ice, no sleep, and near constant ibuprofen, I went to work. By noon, my boss sent me home and wouldn’t let me work my weekend shift. At some point I made an appointment with my primary care doctor’s office and they couldn’t see me until the following Wednesday. I can’t remember if I tried to go to work Monday and failed or if my boss banned me until I saw my doctor. By my doctor’s appointment, I couldn’t drive, walk in a straight line, or, guess what, talk in full sentences. I could get half formed words and that was about it. Holy concussion. And it got worse from there.

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(Weird backwards computer selfie…) Dropping black eye. You can see the mark on my forehead above my eye where I got kicked. If you look at my other eye, you can see bruising is starting and a second black eye is forming. They both ended up black. 

So my doctor was furious at the ER for being stupid. Furious at his office for hearing the words “kicked in head” and “head injury” and NOT getting me in immediately and fearful that the idiot ER may not have order the right scans or failed to read them right (thankfully, in we were clear in both cases as the ER did something right).  So, I was out of work for a couple of weeks until I was cleared… With the warning to avoid future head injuries…

That said, 4 years later, I still deal with some post concussive syndrome stuff. When I’m tired, I lose words. When I’m stressed, I lose words. When I’m overwhelmed, I lose words. It appears, losing words is my lingering symptom. All of this was made worse by not resting right away after the concussion. While I didn’t have any immediate concussion symptoms, they can take a 1-2 weeks to show. That’s why it kills me when people are so sure they DON’T have a concussion (me included this past fall…). The kick was a huge part of mine, but the not falling and catching myself was actually the likely larger culprit for my problems. I saw an improvement after a year, but at this point, I think the rest of it is here to stay.

I’ve also always had migraines, but this concussion seemed to move me from the acute-to-chronic category (8-15) to the chronic category (20+).

 

 

Plan 2017 because life is getting me down

I’ve been highly unmotivated lately. And busy. And just haven’t felt much like blogging.

The horse world has been getting me down and I think I’m done with parts of it again. I just sort of want to run away and hide and be done with it again. If I could just hang out with my horses, take my lessons on Ranger, and go to the occasional show? I think I could be happy. But right now just doing THAT isn’t in the cards. I’m trying to be vague here. Maybe I’ll say more one day.

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“Are they making fun of me?”

I taught a lot years ago. I loved it at first. It paid for a lot for me. I wasn’t experienced, but I knew enough to do what I did (or at least I thought I did, some days, I look back and wonder what the heck I was doing). But, I mostly stuck with up-downers and got students to the point where they could do more and passed them along. On safe horses, that’s probably OK. People can argue otherwise, but fine. (Side note, it was kind of cool last year at Devon, a of my very first student stopped to see if I remembered her and to say hello. Her daughter was showing in the junior hunters. I’ll take all undue credit for that! And for the very first lesson at 3 years old (and for other subsequent lessons later on) for another former student who is showing all other in the junior jumpers–granted, in her case–much credit should be given for not murdering her multiple times when she was under the age of 10…And she is reminded of this!) It’s what allowed me to have Subi, but it also burned me out. It was also the push that eventually gave me the confidence to take me horses OUT of the boarding environment. But, looking back, I hated how things were done and how I was treated. But, I did it because I needed to financially.

I started teaching again when I needed a little bit more financially assistance. It was different. But, now, a few years later, it’s not? Except it is? I barely teach (I have 4 students, mostly adult beginners, 2 teen beginners), but in the spring/summer/fall–trail rides = $$. But, there is drama now and I have enough drama with my real life (aka work) and I don’t need it! Except the little bit I make still helps cover my horse habit. Everything was fine until it wasn’t (politics). And I could be making everything up in my head, but between work and life, I just feel this big source of anxiety regarding horses now.

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I really do love these boys…

So, having said all of that, I’m focusing my energy right now on what I can control. Like how awesome Ranger is (I haven’t had a lesson since Feb. 16… I was out of town, then trainer was out of town, but I got to ride him last week anyway while trainer was away and he just made me happy despite the fact that I was sick (don’t get sick on vacation, it sucks) and miserable.. .). How muchly annoying Subi is. Idiot horse decided to stop eating before vacation so we’ve gone through ANOTHER grain switch, but he’s eating well again. The feed store people think he’s insane, but are constantly trying to come up with solutions and having employee brainstorming sessions to solve his issues. But, right now, we eat. Tomorrow we might now, but that’s tomorrow’s problem. How much Batty needs to get back into work. But, when nice weather happens during the work week and arctic weather occurs during the weekend, that’s just life.

So, I’m coming up with a plan. No goals, because goals = immediate failure (yeah, about those goals on my performance appraisal… oops), but a plan because they can allow for a change in course..

Plan 2017

Subi

Spring 2017

  • Ground work with rope halter
  • Begin trailer loading?

Summer 2017

  • Begin work under saddle
  • Visit with trailer loading guru for self-loading lesson if necessary?

Summer 2017 Wishful Thinking:

  • Field trips to trainer’s property?
  • flat work lesson or training ride with trainer?

Batts:

Spring 2017

  • Body clip
  • Ground work for better manners…
  • Introduce rope halter/reins
  • Good Friday Paperchase at Fair Hill if I can get off work/find people to ride with
  • Plenty of trail rides

New super adjustable rope halter I can’t wait to play with!

Summer 2017

  • Trail rides/paper chases
  • Visit new parks for rides
  • continue work with rope halter/reins

Jiminy

Spring 2017

  • Attitude adjustment! (Just kidding, but he needs a job!)
  • Introduce bit
  • Purchase surcingle/harness/etc. (any suggestions?)
  • General desensitizing (He has a REALLY good brain so this will be FUN)

Summer 2017

  • Introduce harness/surcingle/crupper
  • start ground driving.