Monday, March 30, 2009

Another Weekend of No Riding

I'm doing better, but still not 100%. After talking with my Grandma on Friday, and promising her to take it easy, I just did some ground work and other stuff with Diego this weekend. Friday I had a pony torture session and dug out an old tarp and tied that to the side of Diego's corral. It was quite frightening at first (it was breezy too so it was flapping) and much snorting and big eyeballs were involved. AJ happened to be home between jobs so was up there with me. We both worked with Diego alternately, working on leading him with no halter (hand under his chin), moving him via body language (he's good at this) and doing a trust exercise where you cover his eyes with your hands for a little while until he relaxes and lowers his head. After doing all that stuff, we walked down to check out something in the camper, and Diego walked over and investigated the tarp all on his own. =) Good boy. He actually seemed to be having fun with it, tugging and pulling on it with his teeth.

I found a blue foam pool noodle in the camper so that was the next torture device. Although it was quite exciting when I was first walking around with it, he soon didn't care while I was tapping and rubbing him with it all over. AJ and I both were cracking up at him curling his lip up and showing off his teeth after trying to bite it a few times. Soon I could tap and rub him everywhere, between his legs, back, butt, belly, and head. No issues. I left him the noodle for a bit and he bit it and seemed to have fun wiggling it around. I was wishing I had the camera (perhaps I can get some pictures later).

I've left the tarp up there all weekend. Yesterday I caught him playing by going over to the tarp, biting it and flapping his head around, and then tearing off bucking and jumping across the corral, only to run back over to the tarp and terrorize it again. Funny boy!

It's Monday night now and I'm feeling pretty good, so hopefully will be back in the saddle this Friday and Saturday. I found a pretty cool site last Friday,, it's like a NetFlix for horse training and riding DVD's. I also checked out a John Lyons book at the library and have been watching some more of the Clinton Anderson stuff on RFD-TV. Lots of good ideas and its good to know that I'm currently "on track" with stuff. One interesting thing was that John Lyons is a REALLY big advocate of getting the horses out on the trail very early on in their training. I'm just worried that Diego's going to bolt off for some reason (not that he's ever done that in the arena), so I'm still a bit leery of riding him "out" a whole lot. But I do need to start getting him out in other non-familiar environments, so perhaps will go to a different arena this weekend, or maybe get a short little trail ride in. I'm still torn between using the sidepull or the snaffle. He responds really, really good to his sidepull, but I worry that it might not be "enough" if push ever came to shove. On the other hand, he had a total snit fit the last time I tried to one-rein him in a snaffle, so I probably am better off in the halter. Decisions, decisions...

The Nevada Derby ride is a two-day NASTR-hosted endurance ride this weekend. I may go volunteer one day, I'll have to play it by ear and see how I'm feeling. I don't want to set myself back again. I feel like I should be there since I'm a club member and it is a local ride (about a 45 minute drive from me). We'll see.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring Break = Horsie Play Time!

Yay!!! A week off school! How very nice and totally welcome. I got in two good rides, back to back even which is a nice bonus, with Diego this week. Went over to Beth's house and worked in her round pen. I've been watching a bunch of Clinton Anderson stuff on DVR and realized that one of our biggest weaknesses was lack of consistent forward motion. I also tend to "clutch" the reins too much with some of the minor things Diego does (a bad reaction that Sinatra trained into me) and I need to learn to relax and let go a little bit more. So off to the safe confines of the round pen for some schooling for both of us.

The goal was for the first day was: one trip around the round pen at the trot on a loose rein. Thursday evening found us going around and around, me with the reins long and loose - with the self imposed rule to not pick them up unless he got too naughty. My poor little legs got a WORK OUT and I felt like I had run several miles by the time we were done from kick, kick, kicking him to go. Poor Dig - he knows I want him to trot, but he's just not overly sure of the whole thing yet. He'll go along for a few steps, then suddenly throw on the brakes or scoot forward, turn and stop. Hhrrmmm.... So I practiced flopping all over, "posting" at the walk, doing a two-point at the walk, and generally not just riding "centered". I think part of his issue is that he's VERY smooth at the trot, so I don't generally have to post it, but when I start to rock back to sit his trot more, he reads that as "whoa" from my seat and then complies. Or if I go to post, he thinks I'm getting off balance and stops. Hhhmm, so my problem is he's too well trained? =) After about an hour, we made our goal of one whole lap around on a loose rein, so I called it a night.

Came back the next morning. Same lesson, goal this time - two or maybe even three laps around. He picked up the trot a lot more willingly this time. He took to cutting across the round pen (remember, I'm still not steering) and then hooking a tight 180-turn, which he would always have to slow down and then walk out of. So I started using some outside rein to keep him on the fence line and end that little trick. At one time, he would go along but then hit the brakes in the same spot each time around, so finally I got ready for him and just booted him HARD right as I felt him start to check up. He jumped forward, bucked twice, and then trotted twice around the round pen on a loose rein. =) Hey look! We found forward finally!!! After that, he "got" what I wanted and we were able to make several more laps around in each direction. My legs weren't nearly as tired today when I was done either (I was about ready to resort to a crop or rommel).

Saturday, I did one of my favorite things and volunteered for a ride, the Rides of March to be exact. I got to vet scribe (my favoritest job) for Dr. Sue McCartney. Even though the weather was cold and windy, a good time was had by all. There was one scary incident at the start of the 50 where a rider had a stroke and LifeFlight had to come out and take her away, but she is recovering and doing better now. Other than that, the day went without incident and I was super nice to be back in the Endurance scene and getting to talk and visit with people (and catch up on all the gossip). =)

I then spent all day Sunday in bed and barely got out to feed myself. Maybe I'm not quite fully recovered yet.... The meds are gone but I'm still having some occassional issues and my stamina just isn't back up to par. I had to force feed myself Sunday and felt like crap most of the day Monday, but things got better as the week went on.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday the 13th

Well, I'm feeling better. I'm still pretty run down and get tired out more quickly than normal, but I think the meds are working. Interestingly, the lab results came back negative for everything (???), but since I'm feeling better, they told me to stay on the Flagyl for the rest of the 14 days (yuck). I'll do it though if it means I'll get better. I just HATE taking all this "stuff", I hate being sick, I hate not feeling good. I'm a healthy person, I can't really remember the last time I had a cold or anything, so I just don't do well with NOT feeling good.

Anyways, since I'm mostly back to normal, I made plans to ride on Friday (without looking at the actual DATE) with my friends Sarah and Kelli. We were going to ride out from Sarah's house in Washoe Valley for a nice slow baby trail ride. Poor Dig hadn't been out in two weeks what with me feeling like crap and all. We got there in plenty of time to lunge him around her arena with Ace and Dandy. Since I had already tacked up, I decided to put the snaffle on Diego (something I had been fiddling around at home with) and ride him in the arena for a bit while they finished getting ready.

Got on and did a small loop around the arena, as we were coming across the middle, Diego scooted forward at something and I checked him up with one rein. Well Mister did NOT LIKE THAT with the bit in and put his head down and took of bucking. I remember thinking, "This is going to hurt... No, wait, I'm okay. I'm centered, I'm with him. Okay sucker - bring it on!" And then Diego got to the corner of the arena, cut a sharp left, hit a deep pile of manure and took a digger and fell over. Well crap!!! I wasn't planning on THAT! I stayed on when he first fell down but when he flopped over on his left side I must have either not been hanging on or lost my grip and I ended up on my side not holding on to anything. As he started to jump back onto his feet, I couldn't get my upper body off the ground to come with him, so I kicked my feet out of the stirrups. I felt something pop in my left hand, it felt weird, and then he was up and gone.

He only went a few feet away and stood there for me to catch him. I looked at my left hand and I had blood pouring off three of my knuckles (pointer to ring finger). They were already starting to turn a little bit purple, not the best sign. I took Diego back to the trailer and tied him up. Sarah and I went in her house and got me doctored up with some neosporin, 5 bandaids and ibuprofen. Went back out and we decided to just ride in the arena, enough excitement for one day and all (I'm getting tired of this theme here). I lunged Dig for a while with some side reins on the snaffle bit, then switched the reins over to the halter/sidepull rings and rode him around. Again, he was pretty jumpy so we just worked on listening, relaxing, and circles. It was also nice because Sarah and Kelli rode around as well so we did some passing and being passed in both directions. I was only riding with one and kind of a half hands, so I didn't really want to do too much where I would NEED to use that second hand.

Spring Break is next week. Hopefully I can get some more regular riding in. Two weeks off and then riding the first "real" time with a bit in a strange place was not a very smart combination for today. I need to remember to take things slower with Diego than I have with my other green horses. He can be so sweet and unassuming, but he's pretty hot inside and can be very reactive to stuff. Sarah's really pushing me to send him off for 30-days with a pro, but we just don't have that kind of extra cash right now. I had a long talk with hubby when I got home (he's retrained some pretty rank horses in his past) and have a better idea of what I need to focus on for now. Lots more repetition, repetition, repetition - need to build that conditioned response.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Ugh. I didn't ride this week at all. These are just some of the pills I've been taking since my accident on 1/16, I think I've thrown out 3 other empty bottles of stuff... I was originally on a bunch of pain pills (most of which I still have) and a full week of Clindamycin, a pretty strong antibiotic but one of the few I'm not allergic to. Everything went well with that, just some mild intestinal upset towards the end but some Kombucha helped to clear all that up. Then on 2/12 I went and had my broken tooth extracted. Again, I received a course of Clindamycin to take. Well I was able to take it for about a day and a half before many daily visits to the bathroom were required (a side effect my Doctor had warned me about). I immediately stopped taking it, and within a couple of days things seemed back to normal... until they weren't. After several multiday on-again/off-again cycles of feeling better, and then feeling like crap (literally) and living on the toilet, things started to steadily progress downhill. I HATE going to the Doctor, but I finally dragged myself into the Urgent Care in my regular office after school on Tuesday (3/3).
Since it was after hours I didn't see my regular doctor. I explained my symptoms and the physician on call thought I had all the classic symptoms of something called C-Diff - which is a bacterial infection as a result of the antibiotic Clindamycin where all of the "good" bacteria in your gut die off and then all of the "bad" bacteria are able to take over. She sent me home with supplies to take a stool sample (Oh what fun THAT was!!! ) and told me to drink lots of Gatorade and start taking a probiotic. She gave me a prescription for Flagyl, which is supposed to be a pretty nasty antibiotic which will kill off the C-Diff stuff and make me feel better, but told me not to fill it until the test results come back.
So Wednesday morning I drop the poo off at the lab and go to work. That night I feel like I'm getting a UTI - oh joy. Thursday morning I feel horrible, I'm just in a lot of pain from the belly-button on down. I haul myself into work where I freak everyone out by being near tears. I get through the pain cycle and start to feel a bit better for a few hours, but around noon it starts to come back and I decide I'm going back to the Doctor NOW. I freak my hubby out when I call him in tears on my way to the car. I mean, I didn't cry after getting kicked, but I'm in a ton of pain now, my kidneys are killing me and I just hurt.
I have to go to Urgent Care again (same office as my regular doctor) and see another on-call physician. This is a different one than last time. He does a quick check and finds that I most definitely have a UTI and have blood in my stool. He prescribes one antibiotic for the UTI and tells me to fill the scrip for the Flagyl. Thankfully, I feel 100% better by Friday morning, getting something for the UTI really helped the pain. The Flagyl are these huge horse pills which taste like they were dipped in puke (they are SO horribly bitter/gross - ugh) that I have to take 3 times a day for 14 days. Oh joy. But at this point, I just want to feel better... =( I barely got off the couch all weekend.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

High Expectations Lead to Frustration

The Nevada All-State Trail Riders ( had a small club ride this weekend in Carson City. After contacting current club president Scott Dutcher, and being assured there would be a "go slow" crowd, I decided to take Diego out for what would be his third little trail ride. I was hoping there would be a group out to just enjoy the day and poke along, but alas it was not to be.

Got there and went ahead and saddled him up first thing. I walked him around and stopped to talk and chat with many people. Diego did great, was very calm and relaxed and just checking out all the other horses. There had to be around 20 people there, a really good turn out. Lots of my NASTR friends got to meet Dig and he received a lot of compliments and scratches. I talked with Ranelle Rubin, and she mentioned that since she was on her younger horse Ranger, and riding with a junior rider for the first time, that she was planning on taking it slow and easy and I was welcome to tag along with her. Unfortunately, neither Ranelle nor I had ridden out on these particular trails before, so I did my best to get the general lay of the land from those more familiar.

I mounted up and rode Diego around camp a little bit. He was a bit "scooty" a couple of times and tucked his butt and kind of hopped forward, but I was able to crank his head around and he would stop and come back to me pretty quickly. Everyone started to head out in one big group... Hhhmmm, not what I was hoping for. Diego and I tucked in at the end of the pack, but as the riders rode off the gravel road onto the trail, there was a sandy little burm/wash and then they would start trotting. Dig started kind of hopping around and I just bailed off and decided to walk it on foot. Ranelle was next to last in front of me, and turned around to check on me, but the main group just kept on trotting off, and the junior she was supposed to be riding with was with them. Diego was getting a little frustrated that everyone was leaving him, but I didn't want to run in the single track fairly deep sand and risk him getting more riled up. Better to be slow and safe. The pack crested a small hill and disappeared over the other side. Well that worked out well... NOT.

So I went back to the trailer. Got on Diego and rode him around the camp for a little bit, but he was pretty anxious about having been left all by himself and was not listening very well. Rather than have things escalate into some sort of wreck, I decided to call it a failed attempt and go ride in the arena. One valuable thing he did learn (hopefully), was that being a jerk and jumping around didn't get him anywhere and he didn't get to go run and be with his new best friends. He just had to "deal" with what I wanted him to do. In hindsight, I probably should have just kept walking him down the trail. Scott came back from riding the quad out to check on everyone as I was untacking and told me that a bunch of them had slowed down and were just walking along. Oh well, there will be another time.

Got loaded back in the trailer and went over to Fuji Park in Carson, hoping the arena there was open. It wasn't, I don't know if that one is only open for events or perhaps is more seasonal. So instead we ended up back at Bartley Ranch. Diego was still pretty jumpy riding in the arena, he would kind of spook in place at my foot or his shoulder (???) while doing some rein flexes. It was a good lesson on learning to just relax and take it easy. We only did a short bit of trotting work, instead focusing on our circles, walking straight lines, and starting some easy lateral work off my seat and legs. Not a total waste of a day, but it was frustrating to lose about 2 hours in the morning and miss out on the trail ride. We're just not fit for public consumption quite yet.
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