Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How time flies...

Another week gone, or is it two? Time does fly when summer finally arrives in Washington. It is 10:30 at night and I am sitting outside. OK, actually I'm freezing in just a T-shirt, but in theory it's pretty exhilirating!

What's new... hmmm? Nigel had his first hoof trim today. My friend Stephanie handled him for the farrier -- I'm just not that good at foal wranglin'. I do use that term in jest -- we try to make it as easy on the babies as we can. A former farrier taught us how to make a "suitcase" by looping a soft rope around the foal's butt and chest in a sort of figure 8 -- then you can hold the rope up by the withers (the middle of the 8) and have a tidy, controllable package. Well, pretty much anyway! Nigel still managed to do some airs above the ground. He has very underrun heels in the back to go with his dropped pasterns. Our farrier thinks she will glue leather extensions onto his heels when she comes back on 7/12. That will keep him from being able to rock back, and should help the muscles and tendons get stronger. I still don't think he has anything abnormal going on, nothing he can't or won't grow out of. I hope!

Cathy mentioned in the VLC blog that I had had a good session with her colt Frankie. (To add to the confusion of all of our horses, I too have a Frankie, also a yearling... but he is out to pasture with his gelding and stallion buddies, and not having much done with him at the moment. He knows how to lunge -- the NH way, a smallish circle with a rope halter and long lead -- and is pretty good about his feet, so he is on holiday temporarily.) Anyway, I had some trepidation about working with Cathy's Frankie because I didn't quite "get" him the first time out. I'm pretty good with youngsters but he puzzled me -- I didn't know how to attribute his behavior. Basically I didn't know whether he needed a whack or a hug! He just seemed unsure and I didn't want to confuzzle him. Well we hit our stride in this session! I did more walking with him, and lunging him at the walk rather than the trot. We did bending and backing. He got lots of hugs! And only one wonderful whack: I was rubbing his front legs and dealing with his tendency to reach around and nibble at my shirt. Um, farriers HATE that! I was trying to discourage him by shrugging him off and saying "EH!" in that tone that means business. Moderate success. Then I stood up from rubbing his right leg, and my elbow went back at the very moment he swung around. THWACK! He clocked himself in the head, all by himself. I watched the stars and little tweety birds rotate around his head for a minute. Then I resumed the leg rubbing. You probably won't be surprised to hear that he didn't reach back ONCE. Huh. I love it when that happens. I'm looking forward to working with him again. He figured everything out so well, a very smart young man.

Other than that, I'm doing some experimental work with my pain problems. I have this massage device from Brookstone that I hadn't been using for a while. It has a wonderful, SERIOUS massaging system but it has one drawback which is its shape. It is made (hence the term "lumbar") for one's lower back. And on the pain-o-meter, my lower back is NOT a top scorer. Yes it can get very stiff, probably in reaction to the other pain areas, but it isn't a twanging, aching mess like my upper back/neck or, particularly, my upper legs. Well, I've gotten creative. I'm glad no one can see me. The positions I've been getting into are kinda like a cross between an odd sex act and the beaching of a blue whale. I lie on top of the thing, I cradle it, I straddle it. Oh go ahead and laugh... sometimes *I* laugh. Bottom line is that I have been able to use it on the areas where I need it, and that's a Good Thing. The net results are mixed but tending more toward positive. It is doing wonders for my legs. Oh does it hurt while I'm getting the torture, er, I mean, massage -- but it loosens things up like nothing else I've tried. On my middle and upper back, it seems to just move the pain around. The day after, I'll be better in the spot I worked on the night before, but worse in another spot. I'm going to keep playing with it though to see if I can crack the code.

In fact, I'm really cold now, and it's about bedtime, so I think I'll go in and hump my massager again. I'm fixin' to RIDE again soon.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Getting back into it...

...pain and all. Sigh.

I've ridden Ginny twice this week. The first ride (after the unintentional hiatus caused by work and foalwatch) didn't go so well. I was in pain the whole time I was riding, and I had trouble getting the Pony Princess to do... anything.

At that point I decided to give up something I had been holding dear. Although I did have Ginny started by a trainer, after the training was over I wanted to Do It Myself. So while I'd let friends get on Ginny, they couldn't go forth and do things that I wasn't doing myself. Until I trotted her, no one could trot. Since I still haven't loped her, no one could lope. This was NOT because I was convinced of my ability to continue her training better than anyone else. Or continue it at all, frankly. It really was, um, jealousy. It's hard enough being as slow to progress as I have been without seeing someone else get on -- without pain and stiffness and all the crap I'm dealing with -- and get to do stuff I couldn't.

Well, what the hell does that accomplish, really? Did I really want Ginny to go without a good trot (read: more than 10 strides) or a lope for freakin' EVER? So I asked my best friend if she wanted to take Ginny for a spin. I still feel a bit sorry for myself but really it's got to be best for Ginny to actually do the stuff I want to start doing with her!

Despite how short that ride was, I was sore for a couple of days. But today I felt much looser. Ahh, so did Ginny. She was very forward-moving tonight and I was a bit nervous. There were horses in the arena with her and she was not paying me much attention. I did a lot of circles (all at the walk)! Cathy saw me ride for the first time, and pointed out that my legs are locked and stiff (NO!) so I'm not really sitting in the saddle. I knew that, I guess, from all the pain -- how would that NOT lock my legs and make them tense? But hearing it stated a different way gives me more things to work on. Both Stephanie (my best friend) and Cathy rode Ginny tonight after I was done with my very short ride full of circles. I decided not to push it because I'd like to be riding again on Friday, not too stiff to get back on.

Things are going well with my new colt. I have been very consistent with him (yay, I'm consistent for once!). He was really crabby and unfriendly -- didn't like to be handled or even pet. It took two people to separate him from his mom and "hug" him for some human interaction. Now both he and his dam are cooperating much more. Nique actually has the drill down -- she almost hands him to me! It helps that she is very responsive and has great ground manners. I can ask her to back away from him just by touching her chest and pointing. Once he is at one end of their big stall, he now just sighs and lets me pet him all over. Occasionally I hit a spot that he really seems to enjoy! Tonight I haltered him and did some work with a rope around him. Nothing too strenuous, and never with just a rope on the halter which could get us into a pulling match. That baby neck isn't up to any arguments, it's just not that important at this point. But we are warming up to each other due to the repetition, and I'm pretty proud of both of us.

Just FINALLY sent off the big stupid work project, after the other folks delivered what they had to do. I'm off work tomorrow and Friday... hooray! Nothing planned except errands and cleaning but I really need the break. I hope to get in a few rides too!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Because I was looking for something to do with my copious spare time...

...NOT! :)

I am helping Cathy out with the Frankie the BGY (was that his moniker? big gold yearling?) while she continues riding the Small Spotted Gelding. I will be doing groundwork with the BGY, none of that fancy schmancy riding stuff for me, no sir-ee. But the lack of riding in this case is because the BGY is a mere 15 months old.

And the size of a house. What's in the water where Cathy's horses come from? I swear the BGY has grown a hand in 2-3 months. In fact, that's my one-sentence review of tonight's training session: he is large, and his butt seems really close to me. It's already no fun to have him walk straight through me -- don't want to wait any longer to define that personal space bubble, that's for sure!

Just as Cathy has to remember that Cecil is a baby, I have to remember that Frankie is REALLY a baby. Actually he does a pretty good job of reminding me, since he has a case of juvenile ADOH (Attention Deficit... Oh, hi!). Seriously though, considering that he has been out in a pasture goofing off until TONIGHT (roughly 1/2 hour before his lesson began) and that there were horses with him in the arena, he really did very well. With practice he'll be a star!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It lives! It returns!

It's still a lazy sod failing to reach any of its goals! But it lives, that's the most important thing.

Sorry for the long absence. I am beginning to dig my way out of things. On the plus side (this is a stretch) I don't have to feel like I've been missing the spring or summer while stuck to my work computer or foalcam. It is, apparently, still winter in the Pacific NorthWET. I think there were some days in January that were more pleasant.

But enough about that -- first things first and best things first -- I HAVE A NEW BABY! Foal, that is. Meet Nigel!
Nigel-2 Nigel-4
He was born at 3:15 a.m. on May 31st, and if it weren't for MareStare and one dedicated foal-watcher, I would have slept through the whole thing. (In retrospect, of course, I started the sleepless crap WAYYYYY too early and it's lucky I didn't sleep through his whole birth WEEK.)

He has been a tough baby to get close to, but things are improving. I want him at least handleable before he goes out to pasture with the other mares and foals for the summer. I finally found a spot on him that he likes to have handled, and it is in keeping with his general contrary nature -- his EARS! I'm just glad I even thought to try his ears.

The Horrendous Project sort of fizzled at the end (it's not quite over, but I haven't been on the hook, someone else has that lovely position now, and I'm waiting for that poor sucker's deliverable before I can wrap things up). But July 1 is the beginning of my client's fiscal year so there are lots of plans and budget dollars which equates to lots of work. I hope it stays at a more even keel -- I don't mind working HARD, I just hate when it goes on forever, with pressure, stress and confusion. Call me crazy.

Sooooo... horsy stuff. I am a failure, LOL. How can I kick-start myself? My goals are lying around me in ruins. I haven't ridden Ginny since the last time I wrote about it here, and it won't do me a bit of good to go back and find the date to see just how long ago that was (oh but I probably will anyway). Cathy is doing great with the Small Spotted Gelding but I can only barely count that as progress against MY goals. My (hmmm, she needs an acronym) SHM or Strong Hot Mare (Imp) hasn't been ridden since... again, don't want to tally. The rest of the herd languishes. I need an intervention! Feel free to use any tools at your disposal to cajole, humor, incent (I hate that word, if indeed it is one), bully, guilt-trip or otherwise bludgeon me. Meanwhile I will rework the goals (read: change the dates... it's like making a list and having the first item be "make list" so you can check it off) and read more of the VLC comments on Having A Plan.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Life will return to normal... life will return to normal... life will...

Update from my small corner of hell... which I realize IS still in the cooler suburbs thereof...
- Still haven't finished @#$% work project
- Mare still hasn't foaled

I'm scheduled to finish the project tomorrow. If the foal is born tomorrow night I've threatened to name it "Fucking Project Finally Done". Appropriate on oh so many levels.

The mare has wax. Her milk tastes sweet/rich. The test strips say "any minute now" (the good news) and have said the same thing for 3-4 days (the bad news).

It's not without its comforts. Here's a pic of my friend and me (I'm in the foreground) set up for a long night watching the mares.

These chairs ROCK (pun intended). They are very comfortable for extended periods of time. Guess how I know that?
We actually only hung out in the barn like this over the long weekend -- I do have a foalcam set up so I can watch from my room. It's been pointed at my mare but my friend's mare jumped ahead of mine in line and had her foal on Tuesday evening at a respectable and thoughtful 5:00 p.m. He is absolutely adorable, don't you think?

The baby lust deepens. Yet as I write this my mare is standing in the position she has made famous in the last couple of weeks. Why always the same spot? It must be a zen kind of thing. Exactly 2/3 of the way across her 12x24 stall, back to wall, head down in contemplation or evil glee at the torment.
Wait, now she is lying down. She wants me to drop what I'm doing and go check on her. The foalcam reception is not great and once already I've thought I saw her standing with a really awful medicine hat foal or a big goat, when in fact it was... oh, I don't know, glare or something. With that history, chances of me seeing a wee foot emerging from her and identifying it as such are pretty much non-existant. I am resisting heading out there, but may not be able to resist much longer.
Sleep is highly over-rated.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Jane, stop this crazy thing

Wow I'm dating myself with THAT title/quote. Can you place it?

I'm hanging in there. The work crisis will be over on Friday, god willing. That's when I've promised to have the Horrible Large Thing finished. There are interim milestones all week, two of which are over (an internal meeting to review the Horrible Thing in process, and a presentation to the UK team). Presentation tomorrow to Latin America (no, not all of it) and then finalizing the Thing and getting it in the rear view mirror. Life ought to improve dramatically at that point.

Here's an indication of how distracted I am... I *just* realized yesterday that this is a three-day weekend coming up! I'm SOOOO excited. It'll be an excellent end to the hell.

It sure would be nice if I had a new baby horse to play with for some or all of the long weekend, but I have no idea if the mare will deign to cooperate. She had a few nights of wild pre-labor activity and now, nothing.

I've managed to snatch a few moments to enjoy the horses, in addition to providing the catering and maid service they've come to expect. Haven't ridden in, like, forever -- but these are not normal circumstances. I'll go back on plan when the work situation improves. It'd be very nice if foal watch was over by then too, but the work stuff is what's really killing me.

Hope y'all are doing well, seeing some spring/summer weather and having some horsy fun!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I'm lucky, really I am (most weeks)

It's time to write about how lucky I am, because I need a reminder.

Now of course we'd all like to be independently wealthy without the need to work for a living at all. You know, those lottery dreams. I am not THAT lucky. And job-wise I had kind of a rocky road for a while, after having worked 18 (that's EIGHTEEN) years for the same marketing company and getting into a golden-handcuff kind of a rut. That job moved me and my belongings AND horse from Massachusetts to Utah when they opened a small office there. I could've easily worked there till retirement. Then 9/11 occurred and cuts had to be made, among them the small Utah office.

I was in love with the West and didn't want to go "back home". So I took a job in Washington with the VLSC (very large software company). To their credit they too moved me, belongings and horse from Utah. But it was a bad fit, at least the job I landed in. After 14 months we parted ways.

I started freelancing with the company I had spent 18 years with, and I got involved with a project that ironically had the VLSC as a client. It was right up my alley -- loads of technical database marketing detail, the type that causes most people's eyes to roll back in their head. After a year (during which I acquired unhandled PMU horses and had no insurance), the VLSC moved this project from my old agency to a new one. The folks at the new agency faced all of the technical detail with more than the average amount of eye-rolling.

Suddenly I was desirable. I could do for new agency what I'd been doing for the old, making sense of the data morass. Thus I was able to get some "considerations" -- I did NOT have to move to San Francisco where new agency is headquartered. I did not, in fact, have to work in an office at all. I could work from home on the farm and have full benefits. I leapt.

And there I remain. I have no commute, which becomes more and more wonderful with each passing dollar per gallon. I have no work wardrobe (scary, really). I enjoy what I do and I'm valued for it.

And then there are weeks like this one. Sometimes there is more to be done than is humanly possible. My remoteness makes communication among peers difficult, especially so when I'm floundering under unattainable demands. I have some major gaps in understanding and information critical to what needs to be done NOW. So I have to remember that there are valleys to match the peaks, and I will surely get out from under this stress. And it's really just irony, not a vendetta against me, that landed this particular peak right in the midst of foalwatch.

No I haven't ridden or worked with any of my @#$% horses this week. I feel guilty and cranky and exhausted. I'm not sleeping well, even between the ringings of the alarm that tell me it's time to glance at the fat mare on the foalcam again. I don't need any more obstacles than I already have, because I am not good at overcoming obstacles.

But I AM lucky... aren't I? I guess I'm opening myself up to hear about those of you who drive four hours a day (uphill both ways) and STILL come home and ride 6-8 horses (and work out... and volunteer... and... blah). But I deserve it I suppose! Come on, shame me, LOL. Maybe that'll work.