Thursday, June 18, 2009

Scratching the Surface

My sincere thanks to everyone who took the time to give me advice. I completely agree that riding is not the only pleasure I can get from my horse, I know this all too well considering I haven't been able to ride in over three months now. I found that not being able to groom her and simply be close to her was more difficult than not being able to ride.

For my readers who haven't been around since the beginning, some background would help to clarify things. Missy is boarded at a wonderful barn about 40 minutes south of my home, so I don't take care of her like I would if she was here. The staff at the barn feed her, clean her stall, put her in turnout and back into her stall, blanket her, and when she is ill or injured, administer care and medicine. When I can't make it down there to work with her, my trainer will get her out and put her on the longe line and occasionally rides her. She was born at this facility and has two full sisters and a niece there; in fact she probably hasn't been off the property more than a dozen times in her 10 year life.

I took my first lesson the first week of June 2006, and took ownership of Missy in January 2007. You can read the post where I explain the story of how I came to own a horse six months after I started riding here. I had been on a horse maybe a half dozen times in my life before starting lessons three years ago, so I know at this point I've barely scratched the surface.

So you see, unlike many of you, I don't have decades of experience and dozens of horses in my past. A few lesson horses and Missy is all I know and I barely know enough to be able to canter on her. I rely completely on the expertise of my trainer and my vet to tell me when it's OK to ride her, so it's very easy to have my expectations dashed and therefore, to be disappointed.

Most of the horses at the barn are retired, and the few lesson horses are always being ridden by paying customers, so there is rarely another horse that I can ride when Miss is out of commission.

I longed her briefly today at the walk and trot and she is still slightly off behind on both sides, so it will probably be another week before I can think about getting back on her. Leaving work early to get to physical therapy at least gives me the chance to get down to see her twice a week during the week, and of course I'm there on the weekends. It's a long journey, I know, but I started so late I get impatient.

I apologize for the quality of these pictures, I took them with my phone. I mentioned before that my new office is right next to an 800-acre pasture boarding facility. It's a joy to drive past hundreds of free-range horses grazing in beautiful meadows every morning and evening, geldings on one side of the street and mares on the other. Almost makes me want to go to work. Almost.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

And I Begin Again

Last Monday I started a new job at a large software company in a management role. To say it was an exhausting and overwhelming five days doesn't even begin to cover it. The week was capped off by a frantic weekend email thread to hash out a crisis I will have to deal with first thing tomorrow morning.

I did set up a schedule for myself and was able to stick with it all week:
Decide on outfit, iron, etc. the night before
Get up when alarm goes off -- no snooze
Arm exercises
Hair & makeup
Out the door within 1 hour (ish)
Stop to get coffee
Arrive at work before my manager

I've had these four pictures enlarged and framed for my desk. I'm sitting in a temporary space until next Wednesday when I move into my permanent space. I am looking forward to decorating my new home.

I also started with a new physical therapist this week. She works very differently than the first one, but I think she's doing exactly what I need right now. My main problem at this point is my subscapularis muscle, which originates from the underside of the shoulder blade and inserts at the front of the upper arm (humerus - the bone I broke). It is a very powerful muscle that rotates the arm inwards and is part of the rotator cuff group of muscles. My subscapularis muscle has checked out completely, so when I try to rotate my arm outward or inward, my entire shoulder blade moves. We also started working on strength this week. I bought a 3 pound barbell at the sporting goods store -- I can only do 10 or 12 reps of the exercises right now but it's a start.

Just when we thought Missy's leg and hoof problems were close to being over, she came up lame on her other hind (right). It's probably an abcess, which isn't really surprising considering the systemic infection that's been racing through her body for the past two months. So she is on stall rest for another week, maybe two, depends on what actually happens.

Sometimes I wonder if this was such a good idea after all. I love her to death, but her family has a terrible track record when it comes to lameness issues. In the two and a half years that I've been at this facility, both of her full sisters have been off for significant periods of time due to health issues. Her oldest sister Somerset is the property owner's mare, has the best care possible, yet can only be ridden every three or four months. Her middle sister Sera has both attitude and health issues, which is why they bred her two years ago. Since she had her filly she's only been ridden a half dozen times.

I look at this picture of me riding Miss and I can hardly believe that that is really me. Another weekend has gone by without me getting on any horse, let alone my own. Thinking about giving Miss back to the barn hurts my heart so much I just can't even imagine it. But I also don't want to continue on this path of disappointment, worry and downtime. I know this comes with horse ownership, it's just very hard. How do you other horse owners deal with this?