Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hippie Problems

My last hip surgery was easy peasy. It took a lot of work on my part (the PT is pretty intense) but my recovery was text book. Moved steadily forward with the occasional hard day. My range of motion was better than expected at every follow up. The first few days after this surgery were a little rough but after my incision pain went away the left hip seemed to be doing even better than the first time around. I was driving, walking, riding the stationary bike...... Then at six weeks post up I tried to get out in the shower and something locked up. I had the worse pain of my life in my butt and burning pain from my hip down to my little toe.

I couldn't find a single comfortable position. Sitting sucked, laying down sucked, walking was impossible (I even managed to fall down once). I couldn't drive. I had to go back on narcotic pain meds but those aren't good for me. I was crying like a baby all the time and wallowing in my pity. I've had a pretty high level of pain for the last 12 months. Tacking this on right when I could see the light at the of the tunnel felt like more than I could handle.

I realized I can think "I can't take this" all I want. The reality is you don't really have a choice other than to keep waking up. I spent some time on the googles self diagnosing. It was clearly sciatic pain and the culprit was either my back or the piriformis muscle. I just had a car accident so a disc problem is plausible.  The piriformis gets pissed off with hip surgery. If it gets inflamed then the sciatic  nerve gets trapped between bone and muscle. 

The hardest part of my hip issues hasn't been the pain. It has been the helplessness. This last round I knew I needed massage, pool time, and pt. It's hard to get these places when you can't drive. My family and partner have already taken countless days off between two surgeries and getting my parent's house ready to sell. Luckily one of my amazing friends who works swing shift was willing to haul my ass around. 

Said friend also happens to work at a pool. They have a lap pool and warm therapy pool. Walking and stretching in the warm pool helped me turn a corner. I was also put on a short course of steroids because my surgeon suspects a herniated disc. Things are ever so slowly improving. I'm finally able to drive. I can get through the day on over the counter pain meds. I'm able to do some work with my horses. Slow and steady slow and steady. I'm hoping that I will be 100% before too long but right now I'm just grateful to leave the house whenever I want. 

Pippin Took Has An Adventure

Pippin spent the last few months learning that life as a pampered horse in a boarding barn isn't half bad. In fact it is pretty damned awesome. By the end of two months she had him tying, sleeping in a stall, getting trimmed every six weeks, wearing a blanket, wearing saddles, worming, and charming the vet. And all of this happened without fuss or stress. She isn't one to rush a horse and didn't go into with a particular timeline. If it had taken him six months for him to tolerate being in a barn without stress that would have been fine with his mommies. But he just keeps surprising everyone. As long as he gets a chance to think about things and everyone stays calm this little guy will do pretty much anything you ask.

Look ma I tie!!

There was room in the new barn and no guarantee there would be room later. My hip recovery hasn't been going well (more on that later) so I would have rather waited a bit but I have a crew of people around to help so we said "What the heck. Send him down!" He loaded up for his foster mom without pause. The wonderful hauler had several delays on the first leg of her journey so she was already running late picking him up. She ended up having a flat tire and had to wait for rescue as a storm rolled in and the sun went down. She was so tired and her home was on the way so she ended up stopping there. He wasn't sure he wanted to get back in the trailer in the morning but she has been hauling for years and often works with horses who are barely halter broke so they arrived at my place on schedule. He arrived a little sweaty but not overly worried.

Ex wild kill pen stallion rides in style. 

When he is worried he reverts back to being very people shy. He didn't want me to stand behind his head and wasn't ready for petting when he first stepped off the trailer. However, he was nothing but a gentleman. He follows right next to you without putting so much as an ounce of pressure on the lead. If something is scary he just wants to pause and think about it then marches right along behind you. By the time I left he was seeking out attention from strangers.

Did I hear a treat wrapper?
I spend several hours at the barn to make sure he settled in. One of the big horses is away at training so he gets a HUGE stall for the month. It is at least 14x14, open on 2.5 walls and has bars on the solid walls. He has a 360 degree view of the entire barn from his stall. The routine for new horses is to be in a stall the first day. Then day two they slowly get introduced to the herd. I wasn't sure how he would handle being in but he was happy as could be. There are lose horses on the property and they all came to great him. He seems so fascinated by everything. He just stood there munching his hay watching the activity.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Barn Hopper

I used to have a pet peave against barn hoppers. You know the people who are never happy and move from barn to barn with the seasons? They always seem thrilled to arrive and complain about the last barn then before you know it they are on to the next place. I must admit I am filled with judgement when I hear someone has been to more than one barn in a year. I like to get somewhere and stay there. I feel bad to drag my horse around and I don't like to move myself. I don't even like it when my honey moves the frying pan. I want my brush box to sit the same place it has been for the last five years. 

Bre and I have only been at a handful of barns in the 14 years we have been together. We were at a large boarding stable in Alaska and moved because she colicked so frequently. The barn actually provided wonderful care but you can only do so much in the middle of the city in Alaska. There were 45+ horses and limited turnout which didn't agree with the princess. So we moved down the street and came back for visits. If we hadn't left the state I would be at the same barn. 

From Alaska we made a brief pit stop at my Mom's house before moving to a heavenly boarding stable on the east side of town. There was turnout, miles of trails along the river, a big empty arena, nice low drama people, and a barn owner you who was like everyone's favorite aunt. I thought I would never leave and would keep every horse I owned there. Then nursing school happened. The drive was a killer and I needed Bre close in case she was sick when I was busy. I also didn't want her neglected when I was working full time and going to nursing school full time. So broken hearted I moved her from that barn to the place she will die. She lives with a family who spoil her like their own. The end. That is the extent of Bre's moves over the last 14 years 

Poor Dickie has had a different life. The first barn was never intended to be permanent. It was close to Bre (on the same private drive) so it seemed like a good fit. The large stable I had Bre at was out of the question because I no longer lived in that part of town. The arena was tiny with footing that I didn't even want to lunge in but he was two and just needed handling. Then he didn't get the amount of turnout we agreed upon and started taking the barn down. I quite like the barn owner and rather than having it turn into an dramatic mess we moved down the street. He had several acres and mares to teach him about life. We were very happy there until it came time to ride him. By then a busy hunter program had taken over and arena time was impossible. Jumps were up five days a week on the rails, the quarter lines, and every circle. I work 12 hour shifts so if my work days fell on jump free days I didn't get to ride green spaz that week. Sadly (because I loved barn owner and turnout) we made out way to a quieter barn with two large arenas. 

Barn number three was a disaster. The woman seemed great to start but over time it became apparent she was both selfish and likely suffered from a mood disorder. She ran every trainer off because she either didn't pay them or was so disrespectful of their time. Near the end I was looking for other barns closer with better trail access (and a non crazy BO). She decided that all of the boarders were plotting to leave without giving 30 days notice so she locked up our tack. She demanded cash or for me to give her tack as collateral. Fearing for my horse's safety with an unstable woman dictating his care we packed up and left in an hour. I am so glad we did because she stopped feeding the horses who weren't able to leave. Stalls weren't cleaned and horses were left out 24/7. It was HORRIBLE. So on to yet another barn, my friend who graciously let us crash there for a few months.

Barn number five was heaven. He got to be out in a huge field with other boys. His stall was so big he looked like a pony and was bedded at least six inches deep. There were two GIANT arenas and trails. Three trainers worked out of the barn but the indoor was so big it never felt crowded. Plus there was a 200x300 all weather outdoor. The people were nice. I love the event trainer and the owner of the barn was genuinely a nice caring person. So much awesome. I knew I would be happy there for a long time. In the back of my mind though I was aware that it's a long drive from Portland. We always planned on buying a house in town but that was years off. Then my parents died and the moving timeline was pushed to this summer. There were a few barns on my list to check out once I bought a house. It just happened that my trainer and farrier had a client move to my number one choice. The barn had a wait list which was great because I didn't want to move until June. I had hoped for a few trail rides with my friends once my hip healed. 

The wait list ended up being very short. A space opened up immediately and I had to take it. I was really sad to leave. The blow has been softened by the gorgeous facilities. It feels like a fairy tale. It is on the edge of a wooded hillside looking over a valley. There is a giant all weather outdoor, even more trails than the last place, and sand indoor. The footing in the indoor couldn't be more perfect. The stables are open air with bars so the horses can see each other. That is barn number five in three years of ownership. I am officially a barn hopper and I am sooooo ready to settle in. Six years from now I hope my tack trunk has melded to the floor. I want to have been there for so long that people think I work there. The only reason I move again will be because I won the lottery and built my own fancy barn. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Barn Hopping Lessons

Now that I fully admit I am a dreaded barn hopper I must also admit it wasn't all bad. In fact far our nomadic years were pretty dang awesome. I learned a few positive lessons along the way. 

1) Dickie did not die of stress or even act remotely put out by the moving. His sanity has been my biggest worry in the moves but it turns out he doesn't care. You can load him and then take him for a ride. The day he moved to new barn he took trainer for a ride outside and hardly looked at anything. He just seems happy to go wherever his people are. You can turn him out with new horses without a fuss. He just gets along. He reads a herd and never seems to get himself into trouble. New stalls are exciting places to explore. As long as there is food and the people are nice Dickie is up for anything. 

2) Six barns means meeting six times as many cool people. I have made so many awesome friends over the last three years. Last week I was judging myself for being a big flake. Then I looked at who I would have to give up if I skipped any one of those barns along the way. I wouldn't give up one person. Two of my besties came from the barn overrun by the jumping maniacs. Another bestie came from crazy lady barn. Trainer and I were only acquaintances until I went to crazy lady barn. We bonded there and she officially became my trainer there. The place I just left had a fantastic group of adult riders and a cool event trainer who introduced me to the awesomeness of Doctor Who. 

3) Trying out such a wide variety of facilities helped me narrow down what is actually important to me. In the beginning  I thought all I needed was an indoor for me and turnout for Dickie. It just happened all my previous barns had trails, and outdoor, and an indoor. It wasn't until I was at a barn with only and indoor that I realized I go crazy stuck inside. I now know I would rather have just an outdoor and trails than be stuck inside. Yes, I know it is oregon and I'll get wet. This girl needs to feel the wind in her hair even if it means wet breeches. 

4) I learned I can tolerate change and even have some fun with it. I'm normally not someone who finds it hard to make friends in my everyday life. I moved a lot as a kid and I'm the employee who thrives wearing multiple hats. When it comes to barns though I like everything to be the same. My work can be unbelievably stressful and so I want my barn to be predictable. However, it has been exciting to visit different facilities and meeting people of all disciplines. The last few years showed me change can be fun. I've been able to learn something new each place. Dickie and I didn't just survive the changes we thrived. 

So there it is. Barn hopping isn't all bad. In fact it's been pretty dang good for us. That said, we are ready to put down roots and stay put. 

So Much To Catch Up On


Surgery went well on March 6th. I wanted the house to go on the market that day so we had a mad rush of things to do. The whole house and barn needed cleaning. Everything in the house needed to go to storage. I got rid of some stuff but my mom had really pretty furniture so I kept pretty much everything. I am so grateful to my amazing friends and family. I would have never been able to do it without them. Nurses and horse people are good friends to have. I think their work paid off because I am hoping to share very good news on the house front in the next few weeks. 

Hip recovery has been a little tougher this time around. It has been harder to keep motived because I am  so burnt out on PT and my life has been turmoil. This hip also took a bigger beating since it has been my dominant leg for so long. I am getting there though. Slowly and surgery Overall I am better than pre surgery. So much better. Some days are amazing but its very easy to overdo things. I keep telling myself I don't need to be well until June when the good riding starts :) 


Pippin is such a rockstar. He is out in a big paddock loves to play over the fence with his neighbours. He is next to a younger gelding and they run together. The friendship has been good for both horses. He is turned out without a halter and allows himself to be caught by anyone.  He will trot right up but will still play hard to get when it comes time to put the halter on. He has become such a love that it is hard to get photos, all she can get is a nostril. He continues to handle being in a stall overnight and might even be turning into a stall puff. If he's inside when stalls are cleaned he gets to wander the alley. All she has to do is say "Pip Pip" and he will trot right back into his stall. 

I am so grateful for my friend. She has done an amazing work with him. He is one lucky horse. He found his way into a kill pen and the best rescue possible found him. Pony Up was willing to take their time with him. Rather than just let him exist. Too many rescues just house horses instead of working to make them better citizens. Pony up pushed forward and even put money into starting him under saddle. My lovely friend built upon their work and now he's at a point where he would be successful at a boarding stable. 


Dickie has had a busy few months. Between surgery and my parent's death I needed the pressure of horse care to be off the table for a few months. Dickie needs attention and handling or he gets unruly. He also needs someone making sure that he doesn't have cuts and bumps. I handed over the hard parts of his care to my trainer and dear friend. I still went to see him but all I had to do was give kisses. He was groomed, bathed, blanketed appropriately, covered in the proper ointments and potions. He also begrudgingly returned to work. Hopefully he will be in shape by the time I am back in the saddle. He is looking great and I can't wait to ride again!!!