Spring Fling Combined Driving Event

We’re having a little time out from the Howdy blog to cover a trip to Florida for the USEA Instructor Certification Seminar in Ocala Florida.  Since I was coming to Florida on Monday for that, I called my friend Denise Loewe to see if I could hangout with her in her big ol’ camper that is parked near Buck Davidson’s barn in Ocala.  “Absolutely,” she said, “and you should come down a few days early and groom and navigate for me at the Spring Fling Combined Driving Event.”  What fun, I’m in.

So I flew in to Orlando SFB late on Friday night, forgot which rental car agency I made reservations with through the airline, figured it out by playing it cool and just following a lot of other people on my flight to Alamo, (thank you God, that worked), got my luggage and car and drove two hours to Orlando and went straight to sleep when I got there.  (And if you believe that last part, about going straight to bed after seeing my friend again after almost a year hiatus, you are having a silly moment.  We might have stayed up talking and drinking wine until 1.  Might have happened.)

Up early on Saturday to walk the obstacles on marathon.  I was completely overwhelmed, to the point of losing my ability to speak because of these thoughts tangling in my brain:

  • How do people remember all these gates?
  • Do people know that these wooden objects will not move when hit with a carriage/horse/human?
  • And  wait, only time in the obstacles are penalties, the rest of it is basically working trot?

I was with Debbie Egan and Margaret Shenker and Denise walking the course.  Debbie and Margaret are very experienced combined drivers, Denise is moderately experienced, and on Friday I didn’t even know that drivers cantered (for god’s sake!) through the obstacles. Me walking the course with them reminded me of one of my favorite sketches on Sesame Street – one of these things is not like the other.

The learning curve was daunting as a cold, granite cliff face, and I was a babe wandering barefoot and sleeveless in the foothills.  My climb involved many questions after I recovered my ability of speech.  Some frantic Youtube searching, an important sheet of times for each section given to me by the benevolent Margaret, who saw my need before I even knew of its existence, and a little zen time alone with the obstacles completed my ascent to feeling somewhat prepared to navigate marathon for Denise.

The days were happy, long and exhausting  (and I didn’t have access to wifi, horrors!), so I didn’t make a blog entry Saturday and Sunday night, but I did make this video compilation that will give you a good idea of the gist of how the weekend went.  Crazy fun.  If you find an opportunity to go to/volunteer at/groom for/navigate at a combined driving event, do it! So fun!

Looking like a real horse and the Big Trip

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I leave for Florida tomorrow for a week to go to the USEA ICP Seminar, the Young Event Horse Symposium, the Retired Racehorse Project BBQ at the Ocala Jockey Club, to groom and navigate for my friend who is driving her horse in the Florida Spring Fling Driving Competition at the  Florida Horse Park, and to see my nieces who are riding with the big dawgs in Ocala.  This is gonna be fuuuuu-un, and I’ll share the highlights and the inevitable funny things that will happen as I stay with my friend who has a big camper that she parks at Buck Davidson’s winter complex.  Yes, I know.  Ridiculousness.

If you want to catch it all, you can subscribe to this blog by putting your email address in the box on the upper right of this page.

Meanwhile, I put a saddle and a bridle on Howdy who said, “Ho hum, I did this at the track.” I lunged him in loose side-reins and I’ll be darned, he looks like a real horse at times.  Here’s some video with our dogs occasionally barking in the distance.  If you listen carefully, you might hear a coyote howl.  Home on the range in dear old Iowa.  I am not vain enough to think you might be interested to see the whole 7 minutes of this video, but if you scan around a bit you can see all three gaits in both directions.  Should be good for comparison down the road.

Things are looking up

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I had Doc Schaefer out to see Howdy.  She is a DVM who does horse chiropractic.  We started out with her watching him move.  I walked him away from her and then walked him back while she watched.  She had a thoughtful look on her face when I got back to her, which is usually not a good thing.  She asked me to walk him away and back again.  I did, and when I got back she had the same look.

I’ve learned not to ask vets questions when they have this look, and that served me well this day too.  She started working on him and found that one hip was down.  Then she went to the other side and found that it was down too (no, I don’t know how that is possible either, but there it is.)  She started working on the second hip and her quizzical look went away as she figured out what she was seeing when I was walking him.  She said that he wasn’t uneven, but that he wasn’t coming through correctly.  Usually she can see that one side is out.  Howdy, tricky man that he is, came up with a completely novel way to present.

She was able to get that and his right shoulder adjusted.  The club foot is on the right, and maybe that shoulder being out/stuck/whatever it was, will prove not to be a coincidence and part of the club foot problem.

Then she worked on his neck where he had a few minor issues that they worked out.  Doc Schaefer clearly really likes horses and Howdy at least, likes her:

Here is the sheet from the exam.  No, I don’t know how to interpret it entirely, but it is pretty cool and useful.

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Doc Schaefer made it clear to me that now that he was adjusted, he needed to be worked equally to the right and left, rather than focusing on the right with short breaks to the left as I had been doing.

I worked him the day after the adjustment and the result was both encouraging and mystifying.  Encouraging in that he wasn’t so resistant in going to the right; mystifying in that he now couldn’t hold the left lead (or either lead for that matter) for more than three strides without breaking to trot or switching leads in back only.  I thought about it a bit and surmised that he probably simply didn’t have the muscle development to move for very long in the new way that he was allowed to move after the adjustment.  So I did about 10 minutes of walking on the lunge and ended for the day.

img_9098Meanwhile, it was time for his checkup with ISU ophthalmology.  Two DVM ophthalmologists and four DVMs-in-training had a look at the very patient Howdy’s eyes.  That’s Dr. Wehrman in the white coat.  She’s an silken-voiced angel, and Howdy loves her.  Of course sedation was involved, but he was still tolerant above and beyond the call of duty.  The consensus was that they were very pleased with how the eye looks.  The ulcer has healed entirely and the conjunctivitis has improved markedly on the front of the eye (where I am applying the steroids) and has improved on the back of his eye (which the banamine is addressing).  I was sent home with a much less rigorous treatment regimen and a checkup in a month.  We seem to be out of the woods, but we need to stay the course to get it healed all the way.  This is excellent!

I worked him a few more times over the next week, doing a lot of walking and trotting and really not pushing for canter – just letting him get stronger and figure out how his hips/lower back are supposed to work, and then today, I asked him to canter again.  This video, complete with me wearing what looks like a Mr. Rogers sweater but is actually the inner layer of my winter coat, documents his improvement.  The things I really like to see are that in walk, his overstep is quite generous – about 8 inches – whereas before the adjustment, he just barely tracked up; that he can apparently quite easily hold his canter lead (in both directions, but this video only shows right); and that he is somewhat less resistant to the idea of going right in general.  In the beginning of the video and halfway through, you can see where he really doesn’t want me to get on his right side.  This is mild compared to his earlier objections, which makes me very happy.

First cookie and there’s an app for that

Earlier this week, I wrote the MS blog that I’ve been wanting to write for, oh, about five years.  After getting that out, I just sort of went into a writing stupor, and now, dear friends, I am back.

Howdy’s eye continues to improve and the thrice-daily (ooooh, getting Biblical!) treatments continue in earnest.  Though I have ridden him, I am spending a lot of time on lunging because he needs:

  • the help in going to the right
  • more ground work in general
  • to stop overreacting to every cluck or kiss

A little back story I got from his trainer at the track – they sent Howdy to a guy to break and condition him.  The guy was supposed to be galloping him under tack but it turns out that after he broke Howdy, he was just ponying him from another horse for conditioning.  When they raced Howdy, he didn’t have the under-tack fitness to do well and his owner said that it broke the horse’s heart to lose so badly to the other horses.  It was so profound to hear this gentleman say that – so dear to see how much he loved his racehorses.  He said Howdy never made him a dime, but that he also didn’t like to see the horse’s heart broken.  <sniff>

So now Howdy hasn’t had much success in his life, and I think that horses know when they are “successful” by human standards.  They read us better than we read each other. (Have you ever had a horse not like somebody that you thought was just fine and later you found out they were not?)  At any rate, if a horse hasn’t had much of a feeling of success around people, it may take a while to help them understand that the game is fun.

6_pyramid_training-300x169He skitters at a cluck and jumps in the air into a canter depart at a kiss.  Some horses just do this. I’m not blaming anybody, in fact, I don’t think it is all bad.  At least we have forward.  Alois Podhjasky would approve!  But we want him to go forward in relaxation.  Why look, that is near the bottom rung of the dressage training scale.

I have no problem spending the time to get him to settle and to learn that everything we are going to ask of him he can absolutely do.  It may seem like I have been just “chasing a horse around in circles,” doing eye treatments and paying vet, farrier, chiro and feed bills with this horse so far, and I suppose, objectively, that is true.  But just like it is winter forever until one day it is spring, all of this time and attention to detail will put things over the tipping point, and the sun will come out and the birds will sing.

He’s getting there.  Today was the first day he ate a cookie from my hand.  That’s a good sign.  And now he can do big circles to the right in a trot on the lunge.  He even cantered a few times today to the right on a right lead of his own accord.  Yay.

Tomorrow the chiropractor comes out to see if we can get him more comfortable going to the right.  I’ve had some good experiences with having horses adjusted.

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These are my big silly Bravado ears

Meanwhile, two other items of note: Bravado did his second hunt on Sunday and represented himself pretty well most of the time.  There might have been a small anxiety rear once or twice, but he was much better at staying in trot when he should have been (horses new to hunting tend to want to canter rather than trot to get from point A to B, but honestly, most of hunting can be done quite well in trot) and he stood at checks pretty well.

And the other thing is that I found the coolest app and I hope it will be really helpful to me in my meal planning and execution.  Maybe you are looking for something like this too.  It is called  Mealime and basically it provides recipes and the corresponding shopping list for four meals at a time (you can also choose different numbers of meals, but four is what I chose).  Brilliant!  You can choose how many people you are cooking for, whether you want Traditional, Easy on the meat, Vegetarian or a couple of other options.  You can tell it what ingredients not to include in your recipes and you can sync your phone to the online app.

Not having to think every day about what is for supper?  Smashing.  Eating healthy without stressing over it?  Brilliant.  And absolutely horse-related.  Did I mention it is free?  Double bonus technical merit points from the West German judge*. A rider who is not worrying about what is for supper is a happier rider.  Nom, nom, nom.  🙂

*an obscure reference to ice-skating judging in the 70s.  Those West German judges were so cranky!

 

My Journey Through MS

IMG_1044[If you are here for the Howdy blog, he’s fine, eye getting better, now down to three treatments a day, yay!  I’ve been needing to write this MS blog post for a while now and today it got done.  If you know someone suffering with MS and you think this could help lighten their load, please share it.  Howdy will be back dominating the blog tomorrow.  :-)]

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) seems to be a relatively common diagnosis among horsewoman of the mid- and northern latitudes.  Seriously.  I know at least four professional horsewomen who are diagnosed with it.  I’m sure there are a lot more that I don’t know about.  After all, what horsewoman wants to admit she needs help?  We don’t need help, we are horse trainers, we are riding instructors, we are the care-givers to our horses.  We clean 10 stalls a day, ride the babies and teach the students.  We gallop, we jump, we ride!

Well, I’ve got MS.  These days you would not know it.  I am symptom-free, and officially in remission.  I have a lot of energy, and I am not on any MS drugs.  Maybe it is luck.  Maybe it is research.  Maybe it is middle of the night prayers.  I don’t know.  But I have learned a lot and continue to learn and maybe it will help someone else.

I have Relapsing-Remitting MS (the most common type).  There are other types of MS that are worse than RRMS, and this blog post is not about them.  I have no direct experience with those.  RRMS basically means that you have MS exacerbations (flares) that can affect you for a period of time and then you heal from them entirely or almost entirely and carry on until the next flare.

Briefly, my story:

Woke up one Saturday with no color vision in my left eye.  Everything else fine.  Go to ophthalmologist.  He seems nervous and sends me to a neurologist.  On the way out of that office and walking to the parking garage, I remember something I’ve read somewhere, sometime and in a bolt from the blue, I realize that the ophthalmologist thinks I have MS.  Some weird thing in me clicked and I felt sorry for him knowing I probably have MS.  What a difficult thing to know that about someone you have been treating for years!  (I have no idea where that thought came from at that time, but it saved me from feeling sorry for myself, for which I am grateful.)

I went to the neurologist and we did an MRI.  That was a pretty scary thought, but he wisely advised me to bring my favorite CD (this was back in the day, no mp3s), and they played it LOUD and I didn’t listen to the clacking hulk around me.  I knew later that day that I had 4 lesions.  “Not enough for an MS diagnosis,” but definitely CIS – Clinically Isolated Syndrome – which could develop into MS.  Scary.  I start catastrophising (apparently that is not a word, but it should be.)

“I’m going to end up in a wheelchair.  What a burden I will be to everyone who cares about me.  Will they still care about me if I change so much?”  All of that and more.  Six months of occasional therapy to help me deal with it.  Great investment, that.

And then I had another flare.  I went to Heritage Park Horse Trial in KC, MO, and woke up with double vision on XC day.  Not possible to ride xc with double vision and, though I was confused with why I had double vision, I have to admit, I did not want to ride that course that day because I was honestly afraid of my horse stopping at the trakehner and me getting hurt.  I wasn’t just worried about it, or not sure about it, I was afraid to ride THAT horse to THAT trakehner.  It was very stressful.  Stress is a major factor in MS.

I went to my neurologist that Monday and we agreed that I should go on some immune modulating drugs – daily shots.  This is where things got real.  You can’t be in denial if you have to give yourself a daily shot.

I had to take about a week off of work until my double vision righted itself.  I remember the moment my double vision faded.  It had been five days of lying on the couch listening to the radio or music or books on tape because looking at a tv made me woozy and reading was not possible.  Finally it was a nice enough day that I could sit on the deck in the afternoon and when that went well, I decided to go out to the barn and brush Eddie.  Everything was slow.  Walking was slow.  Finding the right brush was slow.  Forget picking hooves because bending over made me think of tossing cookies.  As I was grooming Eddie, Jay came out and said maybe we should go for a walk ride in the pasture.  Oddly, I was dubious about riding, even on good Eddie.  Sudden double vision is debilitating and demoralizing.  But I was there and so was Eddie and Jay would help so I decided to do it.  We put a saddle on and I got on Eddie and he rode Elliot.  We walked.  I was looking down because looking with double vision at the horizon or another person moving on a horse is a sure way to get woozy and remind yourself how weak and helpless you really are.  As I was looking down, all of a sudden, his withers came into focus.  A few steps more and I could clearly see his mane halfway up.  Then his ears came into sharp focus.  It was so fantastic that I could not breathe or talk.  I didn’t even tell Jay at the time because I realized that I really couldn’t describe it as fast as it was happening, and I didn’t want to jinx it by trying.   After we got off, and I was sure that the 5′ around me of clear vision that I had been given was not going to dissipate, I told Jay.  Over the next few days, my circle of clear vision got wider and wider.  I remember the first time I was sitting in a car and I could clearly see a distant woods and tractor and how miraculous it seemed to me at the time to be able to discern something that is not touching you – what a wonder vision is.  MS gave me a real appreciation for the sense of vision.

I recovered fully from that and then had another relapse a few months later that involved double vision and exhaustion.  I was on the couch for 17 days, and there was one day where I literally had to concentrate to breathe.  I actually thought I would die because I would stop breathing from not having the energy to do it.  It was an odd feeling.  Something in my brain told me that I would not just stop breathing from being tired, so I guessed that I probably wouldn’t die that way, but it felt like I could.  During this time I developed a huge craving for broccoli and kale.  I’m not kidding.  Like overwhelming.  So when I was well enough, I went to the store and bought everything they had that was fresh and green.  I made amazing, wonderful things that we all should be making every day and I felt better and went back to work and riding and found it hard to believe a month later that I could ever have lost 17 days of my life.

But then I realized that, yes, I did lose 17 days of my life and I quite thought that was BS.  I decided that I was going to read up on everything that anybody credible has learned about MS. I can be like a dog with a bone, and I was google searching and pub med stalking, and consuming information like a woman possessed.  I figured no one cared more about my health than I did, so, in the words of a coach at a basketball camp I attended as a kid, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

The first credible thing I came across was the Swank Diet, and I still use some of these tenants to this day.  Basically, Dr. Swank taught people with MS to follow a low saturated fat diet and it reduced their exacerbations.  He followed their progress for years.  The people who stayed on the diet did well, and those who did not, did not.  The general plan is this:

  • First year, no red meat
  • Lots of fresh greens
  • Chicken, fish
  • Add monounsaturated fats and long chain fatty acids
  • Cod liver oil every day

This actually worked for me, and after a year, I felt really well and my neurologist and I  thought it was reasonable for me to go off the daily shots.  (Yay!)  I did, and did fine.  The hardest part was the cod liver oil daily, but I figured I could handle that if it meant I wouldn’t have to think to breathe ever again.  (We all have our own motivations.)

[Side note about going off the shots.  The decision to quit using Copaxone (there I said it) did not make the pharmaceutical company happy.  When I called them to tell them to cancel my next ($1k per month) shipment of shots, they used outright scare tactics to try to get me to continue.  I laughed at them and threatened to record the call and ask a lawyer if these tactics were legal, as they certainly weren’t ethical.  There was a lot of back-pedaling, though I noticed, no apology.  After that, they sent me letters twice a week, proclaiming how I was going to have exacerbations and horrible things were going to happen to me.  Had I cared enough, I would have sent them a nice flowery “Get bent” wallhanging.  I might have learned needlepoint for that.  After a few letters, I asked Jay to throw any letter from them in the garbage on his way from the mail box, which, bless him, he did, and I never even heard that we received them again.  I can not to this day understand how a company whose literature claims they are in support of “Your MS Journey” could justify attempting to dramatically increase the stress on someone who has a disease that they are well aware is stress-related.  Methinks they did not think that one all the way through, if they really cared about “My MS Journey.”  Just perhaps they didn’t actually support me not having MS symptoms anymore, because a disease in remission doesn’t make them $1k per month.]

Back to the Swank diet.  The thing that stuck with me about the Swank book was the studies he shared in the beginning – some information about MS.  The first thing was that MS is more prevalent at high latitudes (north of 40 degrees N latitude or south of 40 degrees S latitude.)  What happens at high latitudes?  The sun shines less directly.  So what?  People’s bodies don’t make as much vitamin D. (In case you missed it in science class, human bodies make vitamin D when sunlight strikes the skin.  I don’t mean to be snarky there.  Some people don’t know that, and that’s ok.)  Vitamin D is involved in many chemical reactions in the body, can turn genes on and off, and much more.  Anyway, you don’t get enough of it from sunlight if you live in the northern latitudes.  hypo

I was intrigued by that, so I did a search on prevalence of MS in the US:

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This is a pretty crude map, but it shows, in a general sense, how location is a factor in MS.  So then I really started thinking about it.  And reading about it, and pretty much being obsessed by it.

I joined the Vitamin D Council and read everything they had about vitamin D and MS.

And then the day came when I could feel my next relapse coming on.  Just a distant sense of “not-rightness” along with some passing moments of exhaustion.  These symptoms were the bellwether for an exacerbation and started happening about three days before one started.

I was in a panic.  I did not want to go there again.  Who knew if this would be another 17 days, a month, or the one that turns into Progressive MS (which would be seriously Not Good.) Then I saw this video.  It is 8 minutes long, the lighting is bad, and it is just a guy talking.  It changed my life.

After that I googled Rheinhold Vieth and read all of his work – formal and informal.  The man is a genius.  If you do nothing else, watch the above video.

So, feeling the flare coming, I went home and (I do not recommend this. You should not do this) took 70,000 units of vitamin D.  The next morning I felt a little better.  I then took the same amount for the next five days, (no, don’t do that either) and my impending flare just dried up and died.  I was so happy!  AND, I was so embarassed!  What a stupid thing to do without medical supervision.  I went in and fessed up to my neurologist.  He was briefly annoyed and then he asked me how my experiment went.  We laughed.  He said we needed to do a vitamin D level check on me and then we’d work together to develop a dosage to keep me at a good level.  (‘Good level’ is higher for MS people than for people without, and can vary individually even among MS people.  I can’t give you a number, other than saying it is higher than 50. One thing MS does is it teaches you to pay attention to your body.  This is another hidden blessing of MS.)

Meanwhile, some other information has come to light which supports the importance of vitamin D to MS.  Birth month: a spring-born baby is much more likely to develop MS than a baby born in another season.  Mothers who give birth in spring have gestated their babies in the months when the lowest levels of vitamin D are circulating in their bodies.  I was born in May.  My sister, who also has MS, was born on June 1.

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A look at vitamin D levels as they vary seasonally

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That’s a pretty impressive sine wave, ladies and gentlemen.  Vitamin D levels crash in September, October and November; and this is the time of year that I had all my flares.  Apparently for me it is the change in vitamin D level that caused the most difficulty.  That is just me.  MS is different for everybody.  As a result, I now supplement just a bit in summer and quite a lot in winter, starting in September.  I used to supplement a lot in summer too, but I was monitoring my levels with my neurologist and my levels got a little too high.  Ok to do that short term, but the long term repercussions of very high vitamin D are somewhat unknown, so I just don’t go there.


Other things (besides eating well and managing my vitamin D) that have been useful for me in managing MS:

  • Kefir – get the gut right, the body follows
  • Actively find relaxation:
    • Sure, go and do.  Then pause and breathe and appreciate. Then go and do again, if you like.
    • Do yoga
    • Meditate (Bhuddify) 5 minute of daily bliss
  • Make better decisions: Stop consistently putting more energy in than you get out. (of relationships, of your kids, of volunteer commitments, of tv, of whatever)  If it doesn’t build you up, limit it.  Note the energy sinks in your life and make decisions about them to free up some self care/attention/love time in your life. Notice what makes you truly feel good/blessed/loved and do that.
  • Take at least twice weekly epsom salt baths.  Seriously.  These can be short, yet effective.  Epsom salt is magnesium (Mg) sulfate (SO4) and it can be absorbed transdermally (through your skin). Studies have shown that as little as 12 minutes in a hot epsom salt bath can increase Mg levels in subjects, and Mg is probably  important in MS.  Sulfur (from sulfate) is handy for a body too. Grandma was right – go take an epsom salt bath, you’ll feel better.

 

“Void of Speed”

There’s this thing called Equineline, which is a website run by the Jockey Club (JC, the studbook for thoroughbreds in the U.S.)  On Equineline, you can buy race reports for every JC-recognized race run in the U.S., pedigrees and a whole bunch more stuff.

So let’s take a look at Howdy’s race report:screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-8-30-36-pmIt has a bunch of cool stuff on it, no?  Owner, trainer, year, DOB, color, breeding, earnings, length of race and a whole bunch of stuff I haven’t figured out yet.  What I do know to check is the penultimate right (Ok, I love the word penultimate, it means “second to last” and is just so British, that it makes me giggle, so please just humor me.)  Anyway, the comments column way on the right.  The most recent race is on the top of the list, so the last race he ran he was “outrun.”  Before that it was “inside, no bid,” then “outrun,” “never menaced,” “retreated,” and in his first race, “void of speed.”

Now “void of speed” is a turn of phrase!  I might have to see if that name is available for USEA registration for eventing.  Can’t you just see it?  Ok, well, maybe not, but nevertheless, I think it is hysterical to say that about a race horse – it is basically the racing equivalent of the mountain climber sailing off the end of the cliff on The Price is Right .  Just, “Aint gonna happen, thanks for playing.”

At any rate, a horse with comments like this is just the kind of horse I want to work with.  He’s had some training, he’s galloped a bit, he’s been in a start gate, he’s trailered, he’s seen a thing or two, basically.

Speaking of seeing, Howdy has seen exactly how the flash works on my phone and he knows how to time his blink so that I get images like these three different takes:

Ha!  I did manage to get one half decent but out-of-focus one, but I think that is going to be it for using the flash.  The good news is, I think it is a sign of his pupil actually responding to the atropine and really opening, so bright lights are not comfortable – so I’ll let him alone about it.  This is the best one I got and it’s actually quite useless.  Ha! Howdy eye day 15

But I did shoot one without the flash and I think you can see that the eye is starting to look a little less grey.  Go steroids.

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Meanwhile, we had a stellar session yesterday when he relaxed and decided it was perfectly ok for me to be on his right side, and got right lead canter on the lunge four times  in a row.  I think his new friend Bravado told him that if he is good he might get to do this cool thing called foxhunting where you get to see all sorts of new things and meet new horses.  And now that Howdy has a friend, he has all those endorphins that will help his eye healing.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, anyway.

img_8952And finally a bit of, “hey, that’s not a bad trot” for the dressage geeks in the group.  I suppose the galloping, sliding stop, and rollback won’t go over as well, but we take what we can get.  LOL:

Eye treatments and Bravado’s first hunt

The story with Howdy is all about eye treatments.  Four times a day to be exact, so we are seeing a lot of each other.  This is pretty ok.  Oddly, I’m learning that he really doesn’t like to be handled from the right side.  I mean really objects to it, so you know what I am doing – handling him from the right side as much as possible.  I lead him from his paddock on the right side, I fuss over him on the right side and on an on.  Despite the daily treatments, the eye has not changed much and I admit I am getting a little frantic about wanting to see a positive change.  The steroids should help and it has only been 3 days.  I have faith, but I could use a little show for encouragement.  Here’s your daily eye picture:

Howdy eye day 13

I’ve been continuing to work Howdy in-hand and on the lunge.  Much work to the right.  It is coming along.

Meanwhile, Bravado, the other 5 year old OTTB went on his first hunt on Saturday.  (Technically hunt number 1.5 because he did one a few weeks ago but it was cut short due to baby horsie Bravado becoming a bit overstimulated.) Here is a picture of his ears on the hunt. Jay is the guy in red on the bay horse – and the bay horse is the magnificent Eddie:

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The fact that I was comfortable enough to be riding one-handed snapping a picture is an indication that things went pretty well.  That is not to say that there were not some exciting moments.  For instance, at the first real check, he was behaving beautifully, just standing and being relaxed – enough that I decided to have a beer from the whoopi wagon.  Apparently, I have never opened any sort of beverage while near him as he found the sound of the popping top quite alarming and sort of ballooned from a relaxed halt to a moderate canter in about 5 strides.  I had taken a glove off to pop the top, and now I had a loose glove, an open beer and the buckle end of the reins in my hands and the 17-hand OTTB was ramping to something close to a gallop, and the conditions on the wet gravel road were most decidedly fast.  So I ended up unceremoniously jettisoning the glove and the can in order to get my reins in order, and hopefully get him back.  This took a little while, so Bravado covered a good bit of ground on the gravel road before I had much influence.  He was pretty relaxed, he just happened to be cantering, of his own volition.  My friends were car following, parked at the check, and saw the whole thing and mused that it brought to mind the OJ Simplson car chase, “I think she is getting run away with.  Or is she?”  “I can’t tell, he’s sort of just cantering along…”

Bravado

Thanks First Whip Bre Orsborn for the photo!

If you look closely at the picture, you can see the awesome sticky velcro strip on the top of my helmet.  I meant to wear the helmet cam, but the chance of rain argued victoriously against it.  The OJ Simpson Mini-bolt would have been great video.

On Sunday after I worked with Howdy, in-hand, I introduced Howdy and Bravado to each other, and the budding bromance came into bloom.  Not one squeal, and two minutes after I set them loose together they were mutually grooming each other’s withers.  It was darling.  You may want to light some candles and play some Barry White while you view the following pictures:

img_8952Howdy and Bravado

And then an afternoon of hay munching and sharing the run in.  Awwwww…

Howdy and Bravado