earth day at home

I am not a world traveler. There are millions and more places on this Earth that I have not seen, and likely due to finances and life might never see. I am however a horse traveler. Meaning if I do travel – there better be a horse there somewhere.

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Snow doesn’t stop my sense of adventure.

This Earth Day I’m reflecting on the things I have seen while on the back of a horse. There is no better way to explore a new territory. Of course my most recent Red Rock Canyon adventure tops everything, I’m still always happy to venture into my own backyard habitat and see what mother nature has to offer me today. For example, since I moved my horse less than two weeks ago, I have seen a new type of bird almost every day. I literally moved him half a mile away from our previous home but we are now a little more secluded from the neighborhood, and more present in the natural woods of Winton Woods park right next door.

I’ve traveled this path a thousand times and more. I will always want to see nature between these two ears.

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Paisley and I at the view point of the Winton Woods harbor trail during a late winter ride.


I’m extremely fortunate to have such a well maintained trail and park so close to home. In the springtime I like to take a morning trail ride with Paisley and then in the evening I’ll take my dogs and walk on the pedestrian path. I’m getting every ounce of use of my $10 annual pass. You can’t possibly understand the beauty of this Earth without appreciating the beauty that is right under your nose.

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Same park, different part – different horse. Photo credit to Caitlin Mack (2012)

Horses are what brings me to nature and back to Earth while my head is in the clouds. I have seen countless sunsets, sunrises, and rainbows due to my constant presence at the barn. I experienced the recent “Super Moon” in a nighttime trail ride, guided only by the moonlight to illuminate our path. People travel the world to be witness to the best ocean sunsets, but I challenge you to just hang around your house for a bit and see how spectacular it can be at home too.

 

via Photo Challenge: Earth

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freedom! (sort of)

 

Look who got to spend some free time outside last night!

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However, he was not happy that Mom was not sitting right next to him. I was walking around the arena picking up some sticks from a recent storm and he would not leave me alone. I am very pleased though that he didn’t have any meltdowns or temper tantrums while outside –  he just stood at the gate pouting when I walked away to do some chores in the barn. The other two horses were off property trail riding and he didn’t even seem to notice or care. Tonight I’m going to put him out in the round pen with this sweet little mare so he can start making friends. My vet will be out on Friday to re-assess the injury and maybe we can start spending more and more time out in our little arena before we graduate to trying the pasture again. Hopefully it will go more smoothly if he has a buddy!

I’m so happy in our new little barn though. Treating this injury has been so much easier than our previous barn. He has a great level, dry, perfectly matted stall with two windows for some good air and ventilation and can easily see the other horses when they go outside. The barn managers have also been exceptional – doing his stall twice a day and also suggesting to try giving him meds in a feed bag since of course his grain is tainted with antibiotics! I can’t say enough good things about them. It’s also been a treat to be able to have the cross ties to myself and never have to take turns and constantly move him for incoming horses or wheel barrows – makes wrapping his leg so much easier! I’m glad I made this move and despite the injury – this was the right call.

An unexpected Friday adventure

Yesterday I got a call from the ER vet clinic I work for part time (previously full time) asking if I could pick up a short swing shift after my regular job on Friday. My favorite person asked me, and I do suddenly have an unplanned vet bill from Paisley so I said yes. I generally leave my regular job at 3:30 and head to the clinic for a short 4p-8p shift, so I’m essentially giving up my Friday but I could use the money. 

Today at work we all got a little surprise and our boss told us to finish anything we needed to do today and go home to enjoy the holiday weekend! What a treat! But then I remembered I was picking up a shift and both jobs are within a 5 minute drive, and my house is about 30 minutes away. So I ended up killing a little time at a park I drive by every day but I’ve never visited – Sharon Woods in Cincinnati. 


I enjoyed a 4 mile walk on this beautiful spring day! The Hamilton County Park District is such a well maintained system and I’m very fortunate to get to experience a lot of these parks pretty regularly. The one closest to me also includes horse trails. This was just a paved trail but still pretty nice with some great views. 


And saw a lot of turtles! 


Like really, a lot of turtles. 


Did you think I was exaggerating? The mother load of turtles. 


Never seen so many turtles at once in my life!

I really enjoyed my little afternoon adventure between jobs although I have to say- I like walking with my dogs or my horse a lot better! 

Happy Easter weekend!

spring fever

If you are able to get outside to ride and enjoy this beautiful spring day – please take a lap for me. We will be hand grazing only for the next few weeks. Bummed this injury is happening during the best riding times of the year.

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On the bright side – look at this front left leg! Can you see it? Yep – there is basically no swelling, and hardly any drainage today. And a whole heck of a lot less pain for good old Pony. I think hand grazing on the good grass for an hour is a good compromise to stall rest. His pasture isn’t quite this nice!

Published! and other great things.

When I was in high school I decided that I wanted to be a writer. I loved my creative writing classes and my teacher, Mrs. Heile, was so encouraging and supportive. I thought that was the career for me.

Of course things don’t always go the way you planned when you start college. I switched majors from journalism to business, to education, to biology, and then I transferred schools altogether to pursue veterinary technology. Being a vet tech was absolutely the right career choice for me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss writing. In the last few months I have written a few pieces for myself and submitted one to the Horse Network. Within a few days they had notified me that they were going to publish it! Freelance writing, while not necessarily paying the bills, can be a great creative outlet for me and allows me the freedom to write about whatever I want. That motivated me to start this blog so hopefully others will continue to want to read what I have to say on a daily basis – even if those things aren’t terribly interesting.

From Visitor to Competitor: A Reflection on the Kentucky Horse Park

I realize this isn’t the absolute most prestigious equine-themed website, but they heard my voice and gave me a chance. For the record, this piece was not edited by me!

For today’s news – Pony is feeling so much better! I am so pleased with his progress. This morning’s bandage change was found no heat, just a little swelling, and significantly less drainage. I am much more hopeful that there is no tendon damage or any long-term effects of this injury. My vet did advise me to up his dose of bute (partly because he is still pretty tender walking, partly because he has taken to dumping his medication-tainted grain on the ground) and we will do antibiotics for a few extra days just to be safe. I’m being optimistic!

Happy Wednesday!

 

via Daily Prompt: Pleased

Wrap, unravel, rinse, repeat

Oh what fun it is to wrap a bandage every day…hey!

It’s been only a few months since I’ve had to use standing wraps on my horse – so I guess it’s about time for me to be doing it again. Wrap, unravel, and wrap again until my head is spinning.

Pony seems to be feeling better as far as personality. He is happy to see me when I arrive, stomping and pawing on both front legs for more attention and cookies (which I know is bad – but I’m so happy that he appears to be putting even weight on both legs I don’t even care). My vet has been absolutely wonderful at answering every question and weird observation I’m noticing. I’m trying to take the high road and be positive about this injury. I’m hoping, praying, and willing there to be no tendon involvement and I’m telling myself that because he is not so lame and only receiving about 2 grams of bute per day that he can’t possibly have a tendon injury. No way he would be comfortable on 2 grams of bute if that was the case- right? My vet seems to agree with me but of course I enjoy the opinions of the masses as well. He is still limping on the leg when he is walking but I would expect that- there is a deep laceration there, of course that would be somewhat uncomfortable.

Last night I took his temperature because he felt a bit warm to me and he was 101.5, which is not technically a fever, but he usually runs around 99-100 (and I know this since at our last barn we had an EHV case and we were all temping our horse’s twice a day for about three weeks – I got to know his average temp and rear end very well). I called my vet who then reminded me that was about 80 degrees out and he is still a little fuzzy from winter. Oh yeah. See what happens? My mind forgets the most obvious things! This morning he was 100.4 – right on target.

He seemed so happy to see me last night and I felt a lot of relief. He wasn’t anxious or nervous and we hand grazed for about 45 minutes with the bandage off to let it dry and air out a bit. My parents visited and brought him his favorite treat- McDonald’s french fries- which he eagerly devoured.

This is going to be a waiting game for a while. Keep sending those good vibes my way.

via Daily Prompt: Unravel

the best laid plans.

To say our move didn’t go quite as planned is a bit of an understatement.

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Our first night went really well. He was so good walking to our new home and when we arrived, Pony was alert and curious but happy to eat and drink. I was pretty pleased. Several good poops before I left for the night and I was feeling pretty confident in our new barn. My wonderful barn momma Amy stuck with me for most of the day and I’m so grateful. Even my husband was a champion – he helped me move my remaining hay and big tack boxes, and when I got home super late Saturday night he continued being wonderful with surprising me with Skittles and flowers and a big “I LOVE YOU” note. I’ve been gone in Las Vegas for a week and then a few days later immediately move my horse and he is so incredibly wonderful to me.

The next morning he got to go out in the pasture where he lost his mind. He was in full blown “flight” and panic mode. Didn’t matter that the other horses were out, didn’t matter he had a ton of hay to eat and it was a beautiful cool morning. My normally very cool and collected boy had lost his mind. So I was torn on what to do – stop this madness and bring him in, and probably have this happen again tomorrow, or let him figure it out. Not seconds after this little internal debate in my head did he find the perfect stick or invisible object to step on and lacerate the skin on his pastern and is bleeding. He is a little lame as he continues to run, and of course is now even more upset and won’t let me catch him. After a few minutes he stops and starts holding the injured leg. Great.


After a quick rinse – surprise mom! Look what I can do!

I take him back to the barn and give it a good clean and scrub and call my vet because this definitely needs stitches. While we are waiting he is standing in his stall, and the adrenaline seemed to be wearing off and he is totally non-weight bearing on the leg and standing 3-legged in his stall. My vet, Dr. Laura Smiley, was there within 30 minutes (seriously fastest vet call I’ve ever had – and on a Sunday morning). After she assessed it and performed a nerve block on the hoof and area, she told me there might be some deep digital flexor tendon involvement. And my heart sank. The laceration was so deep she could see the tendon – but in the field she couldn’t really tell if he did touch it. We are now sporting 6 sutures in his left front, a nice thick bandage, antibiotics and bute, and at least two weeks stall rest. We will re-assess then and hopefully this is the extent of the damage and the laceration can just heal normally. If there is tendon involvement… I can’t even let myself think about what that might mean.

I feel insanely guilty and responsible for this injury. The biggest reason I moved him to this barn was so that he could be in a smaller herd and have more time outside. And my biggest worry was him fitting into the new group. I didn’t even consider that he is his own worst enemy and could do more damage running on a flat surface that the giant group of 17 horses in 4 acres of mud could do. I know I’m being hard on myself. I know he could have done this exact same thing to himself at our old home at any time. All horses are totally accident prone and are just looking for ways to injure themselves every day. I just was hoping that by moving to this little barn that I would be reducing the variables of injuries.

So many boarders from my other farm were adamant that I would be back, that I would not like it here. I don’t blame this farm for his injury – I blame myself. Why did I move him? Why couldn’t I have left well-enough alone? I did it because I truly thought that this would be best for him. I want my horse to be a horse and be outside all day. I want him to be safe and live forever. I want a sound horse to ride until he is 30.

Last night and this morning he did seem a lot more comfortable. I grazed him for a few minutes last night and he stood quietly while I brushed him. This morning I changed the bandage and it had a lot of drainage, but no heat or swelling which I’m taking as a good sign. He didn’t appear lame but I didn’t move him around too much to tell. He was still eating well and drinking so I hope these are all good signs that there is no tendon involvement. Crossing my fingers.

It’s just like horses to totally be lifting you up and then totally breaking your heart two minutes later. We blindly jump into this hobby and should always expect the unexpected but even when the unexpected happens we are still shocked. Any prayers or good thoughts, or even any advice with experience on this type of injury would be greatly appreciated.

via Daily Prompt: Blindly

Tomorrow is the big day. I’ve written about my moving anxiety on this blog earlier but it’s finally happening. Paisley and I are moving to our new barn tomorrow afternoon.

I think my biggest adjustment is simply losing the family. Everyone I’ve known who has left our barn either by choice or by loss of their horse has always promised to keep in touch, to come visit and stop by now and then. The now’s become the then’s and there are a few rare people who still visit regularly even though they no longer have their horses. I’m hoping that moving just down the road decreases my odds of becoming an outlier but I can’t say for certain. I would hate to come and visit and not be recognized by anyone.

I’ll miss riding in this field.

Some nights weren’t so bad.

 And no place in the world can beat this location for sunsets and rainbows.

This is for him. This is for me. The most beautiful place can also be the same source of the most heartache and frustration.

via Daily Prompt: Outlier

red rock canyon

Finally home from my Las Vegas excursion. I was immersed in the lights, the slots, and the shows for a week except for one amazing adventure into the desert of the Red Rock Canyon. My mother thinks I’m crazy for saying this was my favorite part of the trip but how in the world can you compare any of the things I saw in the city with this spectacular view?

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My Mom and I took a 2 hour trail ride with “Cowboy Trail Rides.” The name was the only thing that was silly about this ride. I usually balk at the thought of a group trail ride in a tourist fashion, but they had some great reviews and I don’t know of a better way to explore the Mojave desert except on the back of a horse. The ranch was clean, the horses looked very well cared for, and the staff was very experienced and knowledgeable; I highly recommend a visit there if you are in the area and want to explore the natural beauty of Las Vegas.

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On the right: Me and my buddy “Mustang Sally,” On the left: My Mom and her mule “Gus.”

I was so impressed with this ride. My cute little mare, “Sally” was very well behaved. I learned that she was a BLM mustang that came from a prison rehabilitation training program. She was stinking adorable.  My Mom (who is NOT a horse person in any sense) was given “Gus” a really nice, extremely careful mule who was very good to her. Every time we would approach a big step up or down I would turn around to watch my Mom and sweet Gus was literally stepping one foot at a time until she was safely to the other side. Or he would avoid the step altogether and walk around because: mules. I could not believe the terrain we were walking over! The pictures can’t really tell how rocky it was – their feet were so hard and solid, I was shocked with how sure-footed they were. I took some time to look around at the care the horse’s were receiving – the group being used for the day was hanging out in the corral munching on pure alfalfa and every horse seemed happy and fat!

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One of the ranchers leading the next string of trail horse’s to the corral from their paddock area – they all stood so quietly until they were put into the spot.

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My Mom on the first horse- looking like a seasoned pro.

Breathtaking is the best way to describe this ride. I was sad we only signed up for the 2 hour ride (my mom thought it was about 1.5 hour too long), I could have rode all day long in that beautiful place. Our guide explained that it was significantly greener than it normally is- they had more rain than average in the desert this past winter and their horses seemed to grow thicker coats this year too. I was surprised with how fuzzy my horse was because it’s the desert! But I guess 40-50 degree days are cold for them. It’s still shedding season too – my mare had a very itchy, shedding belly and I found the best method for these desert horses to itch is to just walk directly over a cactus- the perfect scratching post! I definitely enjoyed the casinos and the shows in Las Vegas, but this was the memory I’ll cherish forever.