Broken Wrists and Other Things

I can finally type semi-comfortably again. This week has been kind of a whirlwind, both because of work things and because of this whole potentially broken hand/wrist/who the hell knows thing going on.

I left the ER on Sunday feeling rather defeated. The previous picture of that MONSTER splint on my arm is a good chunk of the reason why. It also didn’t occur to me until later that evening that the earliest I would be able to see ANYONE was probably Wednesday — thank you, President’s Day. Hmph.
It took a lot of fighting with various healthcare people (my PCP is officially FIRED because they suck something terrible and I don’t ever want to set foot in there again), I wrangled an appointment for Friday at UMass Memorial in Worcester. They reduced Frankenarm down to this:
Look!! I can see/use my fingers!
They also told me that it’s highly likely I have a hairline fracture on my scaphoid bone. Hairline fracture is good, scaphoid bone is not so good. The scaphoid is one of the bones in the wrist, and it is in a not-so-hot place. It doesn’t get a lot of blood flow, so it takes some time to heal — like, three months in a cast time to heal. 
So, to totally confirm, I have a CAT scan scheduled for Tuesday, and then another follow up for Friday. I can deal with that. I’m not in a whole lot of pain, and having the use of my hand again has been fabulous. You never know what you’re gonna miss until it’s gone!
As an aside: I was quite impressed with the staff at UMass Memorial. They were pleasant, informative, treated me like a human and not a diagnosis on a piece of paper, and easy to work with. It was the least stressful medical experience I’ve had in a long time. +1 for UMass Memorial!
So, now that I have this handy (hah!) new splint, I figured it was okay to go see Image. Sure, I was going to do it even if I still had the Frankenarm splint, but that’s beside the point! I miss him so much during the week, and especially this week. I spent a lot of time repeating the story to interested parties, and reiterating that what happened is not his fault. All I wanted to do was go to the barn and hug him until he was annoyed with me. 
I spent most of today doing just that. Yeah, we went for a little walk and worked on some flexing exercises in the ring, but I mostly just snuggled him. A friend and someone who has been a huge cheerleader during this process stopped by to meet him, and he happily hung out with us, inspecting both of us for cookies. He seemed fascinated by my thumb that was encased in the splint (technical term: thumb spica.  Who knew?) and wiggled his lips all over the ace bandage. He then did this:
Hnnnggghhh death by cute!
He was cuddled up against me thoroughly enjoying ear scratches for a good few minutes. I melted into a puddle of goo. He was more than happy to hang out and be cuddled. Well, if I wasn’t already in love…!
We ended the day with cookie stretches and another once over with the brush. He’s starting to shed…I got a good amount of fur off of him with my “furminator” type tool that Andis put out a few years ago. This makes me so happy…I can’t wait to see what he looks like all slicked out!
Before I succumb to the call of the ice cream in the freezer down stairs…one thing this week really made me stop and stare increduously at my phone. I got a text from a long time horse friend from high school. She asked me how I was doing, and then, very seriously, questioned when I was returning my horse to his previous owner. When I stuttered back a response of “Um, I’m not!”, I got an affronted reply of “Why would you keep a horse like that when there are so many better ones out there?”
I’m pretty sure that’s when my head exploded. I don’t quite remember typing out the absolutely scathing reply I sent, but it sure wasn’t pretty, or nice. I can’t say I’m super proud of my reaction, but I was rip roaring mad.
I will do everything in my power, and then some, to help this horse become the animal I’m sure he can be. I am not the type to give in at the first sign of trouble (as long as the animal’s well being isn’t being jeopardized), ESPECIALLY in this case where his reactions are not due to malice or naughtiness, but outright fear. I will not give up on him. This is silly, but I’ve been on the receiving end of people giving up on me, for various reasons. I will not do that to anyone, or anything, I care about, without giving all I’ve got.
If it came down to it, and he truly isn’t “fixable”, then he will either return to B, if she is willing and able, or he will receive a dignified, quiet end to his life. There is absolutely no reason for this horse to end up in bad hands, ever again, and there are worse fates for a horse than being put to sleep. I have gotten backlash for this particular opinion, but I quit caring a long time ago. I do NOT foresee it ever coming to that, because there is no doubt in my mind that he is going to become an amazing horse some day. That’s all there is to it.
I’ve calmed down now, for the most part, and put it behind me. I shouldn’t have gotten as upset as I did, but it happened and it’s over. Hopefully I’ll conduct myself with a little less swearing the next time someone blindsides me with a completely crass and stupid question. 😉

Lame!

Left front, close to the hoof. Probably a fracture.

What? No, not Image. Me! Potentially fractured my wrist and/or hand. No real answers until I see the hand surgeon. I was not in enough pain yesterday to warrant this, but I had pain and was unable to open/close my hand this morning. I went to the barn (yes, that was stupid), drove home, and went to the ER.

Lesson really learned!!

Sexy!

Splat!

Thank God snow is soft landing, ’cause I took a header today.

I brought L and her friend R with me to the barn today. R is a equine massage therapist, and she took at a look at Image for me. She did a “quick and dirty” massage (her words, not mine!) and said that she was pleased to see that nothing particularly scary popped out at her. He’s got some tight muscles, for sure, and taught me some things to do to help that with the curry comb and cookie stretches. I really appreciated that. I have Dr. Steve Katz, a local (and very highly recommended) chiropractor coming out at the end of next month so I have all my bases covered before we really start working together, but that definitely gave me faith that his issues are more in his head than anywhere else.

After playing dress up a bit (aka trying a few of L’s saddles on him to see which one fit better than my Bob Marshall), we headed out to the ring. I did a little bit of lunging to get his attention on me, and after a few rounds at a slightly frantic pace, he dropped down into an easy walk. I flexed him to both sides a bit, and asked him to drop his head. I’m always impressed with how quickly he picks up on concepts. Three weeks ago, he was really confused when I asked him to drop his head. He now drops it a good few inches for me the second I ask. Good pony!

He was curious as to why L was playing in the corner of the ring with the black clicky thing.

So, I readied myself to get on. I put on my helmet this time (like a good girl), after having forgotten it the last time I rode (flog me if you must; I spent most of my time on GP without a helmet so it’s going to take some time to get back into that groove!), and stepped into the saddle. R stood at his head. It was a split second before I realized I didn’t have my left stirrup, and R had stepped away. Image exploded.

It’s honestly the worst he’s ever been. He was full on broncing and spinning in circles, instead of simply crow hopping. The combination of a few things cause me to be pitched forward, which made me unable to sit back and get his head up.  I tried to brace myself against his withers, but couldn’t find purchase. I was also trying very hard not to pop him in the mouth, as I feel that’s where a lot of his issues stem from.

Before I knew it, I was pitched over his right shoulder. Unfortunately, I was pitched towards the very large, very solid wooden mounting block. I did not help the situation with the uncontrollable squeal of panic, and the “Oh SHIT” that come out of my mouth. Fortunately, I missed it by a few inches and ended up hitting the smaller, plastic step stool that was near by. R and L’s cries of “let go!” rang in my ears as Image took off. My hand released, and the critter booked it away from the ring.

I popped right up, as the only thing truly hurt was my heart — and not because I had fallen off in front of an audience. Someone really fucked this horse up, and it just sucks. I apologize for the language, but there’s no politically correct way to put it. I shuffled through the snow to go catch my horse, trying to rein in the emotions coursing through me before I reached him.

I had done a decent job, until I actually got within catching distance. My sweet boy saw me and stood stock still, his head up and eyes wide. I spoke to him quietly, reaching for the rein that was closest to his shoulder. He flinched heavily, screwing his eyes shut and cringing, as if he was waiting for a blow. I stood with him, not doing more than stroking his shoulder and talking to him. He dropped his head after a moment, and I moved in to rub his forehead. He sighed and leaned into it, licking his lips in realization that I was not going to lay a hand on him.

So, we walked back and I got back on. Barn Owner L stood by his head, and led us off. A few laps in each direction on the end of the lunge line at a slightly more relaxed walk, and a few times of simply stopping and letting him stand, and I called it a day. Once I jumped down, I threw my arms around his neck and told him what a wonderful boy he was.  I brought him back in, rebraided his tail, and did some cookie stretches with him.

Good boy 🙂

I honestly expected this to happen the first time I rode him. I also never expected to last through as many of his bucks as I did, being pitched forward and without a stirrup. So, it came at no surprise, and there is no regret. I knew he and I had a lot of work to do, and this is just the beginning.

It was also a lesson learned. My biggest mistake, which probably would have saved me, was not tipping his nose. Every time I have gotten on him, I’ve had his nose tipped towards me so he immediately is directed into a circle. I’m not sure what caused me to completely forget this little “emergency break” today. Directing him in a small circle when he’s trying to bronc has been the way to break him out of the cycle, and “restart” his system, so to speak. I will NOT be forgetting that again.

The other thing is that I really should not have was get cocky! Now, I like a longer stirrup, but when I tried the saddle out on L’s little Arab last night, I shrugged it off and figured I’d be fine because I’d ridden his minor freak outs before without an issue — why should this be any different. Well, guess what? I wasn’t fine. The stirrups were too long, and I had nothing to really brace against to get me back into the saddle once I got off balance. I will be pulling those stirrups up to a better length tomorrow.

Lastly? Laugh at yourself. When I returned to the ring, I called out to Barn Owner L: “Did you get that on video?!” She had. It’s hysterical, especially with the sound on. Not sure I’m brave enough to share it,  but despite feeling like a raging moron, I know mistakes happen. Quite frankly, my fall was pretty funny once you know I’m okay! I burst into peals of laughter when I watched the video back in the barn, and I made sure to joke with the girls so they knew I was okay (I am nothing if not a wiseass!). Shit happens. You either dwell on it, or you learn from it and move the hell on. And laugh. A lot. Because sometimes, getting tossed off a horse and landing in the snow is pretty damn funny!

So, I learned good things today, and we ended on a good note. Today was really meant to just assess whether or not this particular saddle was going to work at all, but it’s also given me a very, very big sign that backing waaay up and starting much smaller is an even better idea. His compliance with everything on the ground surprised me greatly. Now it’s time to do some work on the ground with the saddle on, then advance to the bridle, and so on and so forth. Baby steps!

Fortunately, I’ll have a physical reminder of “baby steps” for quite awhile…my wrenched finger, the rope burn from my reins, and the bruise that’s forming on my upper thigh is already all kinds of pretty colors, will all be around for quite some time!

Kisses for the best pony ever.

EXCUSE ME WHILE I GO ALL FANGIRL ON EVERYONE.

Does everyone remember the post where I explained how Image got his “official” name? The one that’s on that fancy halter plate and leather halter…?

Well, that actress (Stana Katic, for those of you who don’t remember) is basically a goddess. I have no shame (okay, maybe a little bit of shame, because it’s ridiculous) in saying that she is fantastic and I’d do some really terrible things just to spend a few minutes with her. That, in itself, is embarrassing…but it’s totally the truth.

Anyway, long story short…I found this picture:

Quote sniped from a recent episode of Castle, which Stana Katic stars in alongside Nathan Fillion

posted to her Facebook page.

I’m pretty sure my heart stopped for a minute when I saw it.

I know it’s ridiculous to be so enamored with a celebrity. I’m usually a hell of a lot more down to earth than that. However, I have a major soft spot for any actress or musician that shows a real passion for what they do that goes far beyond the normal realm of loving what you do. Ms. Katic is completely and totally in love with her work — be it Castle, her small but mighty movie career, or her environmental work — and it shows in everything she does. She is immensely talented and she really becomes her characters. Castle, and her portrayal of the character Kate Beckett, really helped pull me through some of my worst days after GP died. I relate to the Beckett character in many ways, and it’s apparent that others see that as well…a good friend once said to me that she was sure that I was secretly Kate Beckett. I take that as a major compliment, because while the character is a total badass cop, she also possesses a lot of strength and determination. She’s vulnerable and has her demons, but she manages to fight them off when they bring her to her knees to become a whole person again. 

So, I was on Stana Katic’s radar for…like, half a second. And it sent me into spasms of fangirlish glee. It’s on my bucket list to meet her someday, just so I can shake her hand.

For now, I’m more than happy with this!

First Ride of Many

Well, we survived the Snowpocalypse. I had to dig my car out of two feet of snow yesterday afternoon once T had snowblown us out. I’m not a snow person by any stretch of the imagination, and I ESPECIALLY hate this much snow at once…but it was pretty. It also forced me to, you know, relax…and do laundry. And get my room clean (ish).

My car is playing hide and seek…

This morning, however, I was officially stir crazy. I woke up at eight and left the house slightly before nine to go to the barn. I may have been just a little anxious to see my horse.

When I got there, the three geldings in the front paddock were rough housing. I watch Ray rear up and box with Gus. I sighed internally, because I’d have to walk Image through the crazy younger geldings who had no idea what “personal space” meant.

I quickly grabbed Image, who was waiting for me at the gate. He snuffled my hands, quietly accepted the cookie I had for him, and happily stuffed his face into the halter. I hustled him through the gate, and made a beeline for the outer gate. Unfortunately, I wasn’t fast enough — Ray, with his annoying two year old tendencies, immediately came over and began harassing my poor horse. Image, being the good boy that he is, simply stood there until Ray decided it was time to rear up and hook his hind legs over Image’s back as we were walking towards the gate. Image, having had enough, struck out with his hind legs and nailed Ray right in the stomach. Ray huffed dejectedly and trotted away to go and harass Gus. Served him right, and made me never want to enter that paddock without a dressage whip. Butthead!

It wasn’t long before I was running him back out to the paddock, naked and unbraided. He and Austin trotted around the paddock for me, tails flagged and manes flying. Unfortunately, the day was super bright and sunny, which isn’t the best for photography in an awkwardly shaped paddock. I only got a few decent shots before we were all huffing and puffing from running around in the snow.

His ears are so fat and wide and adorable. I’m so glad he likes having them rubbed!!

Holy adorable horse, Batman!

I walked him back in and settled him on the crossties while I did stalls. In between each stall, I glanced at my saddle. A lot of people had made the comment that deep snow is always good for a first ride — less likely the critter will be able to do anything. It’d also been three weeks since he came home, and there wasn’t much on the ground that he wasn’t comfortable with — something I had not foreseen. Not to mention, I was itching to check to make sure my square backed saddle wasn’t going to be an issue for him.

So, after some though, I pulled my saddle out. If I got tossed, at least it’d be into nice, fluffy snow. I didn’t actually expect to be thrown off, for what it’s worth…however, I was hoping that the deep snow would help hinder his ability to shoot out from underneath me.

It took me some time to saddle him up, between readjusting the girth to the appropriate hole on the off side, and adjusting the bridle so it fit properly. I kept his rope halter on under the bridle so I could lunge him a bit out in the snow. We trekked out together, and he didn’t give me an indication that he was in any way uncomfortable or upset. Quite the opposite, actually. His ears were pricked and his eye were bright with interest.

I pushed him out around me, and he moved out easily. The snow was deep — almost up to his chest — so his normal quick pace was definitely slowed by the fluffy powder. I did a few quick revolutions each direction, before deciding it was time to climb on up.

He stood quietly next to the mounting block, letting me fuss with the saddle and check the breastcollar. He didn’t move a muscle as I swung into the saddle. The second my butt hit his back, though…

Kaboom!

He lunged forward, head up and back tense. I had barely gotten my stirrups by the time he threw a good few crow hops in, and a decent little rear. Before he could throw anything else my way, I turned his nose to my boot, and directed him in a few tight circles. I did not let up on him until I left him giving to the bit instead of bracing against it, which only took a few extra turns than I was expecting. I allowed him to straighten out, and he stood at attention, his sides heaving and ears tipped back towards me. We stood like this until he dropped his head a fraction, relaxing his back muscles just enough for me to be comfortable asking him for forward movement. I kept my leg off of him, and clucked.

Kaboing!

He hopped forward, and broke into a frantic pace. I circled him until he gave to the bit. Lather, rinse, repeat for a good five minutes. After that, I got a few decent strides of a reglar, albeit tense, walk before having to ask him to come back to me. He was huffing and puffing something fierce, the deep snow making it even more work than usual for him.

He had flat walked for a good half of the ring, so I decided to give him a break and go out onto the plowed part of the property. He walked tensely, obviously waiting for me to do something unkind to him. I kept my hands quiet, the reins loose, and my legs off of his sides. I sang and chattered at him as we walked back and forth along the dead end road, letting him catch his breath. A few times he became tense and picked up a faster pace, but a gentle reminder brought him back down to a walk. During one of his moments of forward movement, however, he gave me a beautiful, comfortable four beat rack — not a bouncy pace, not a trot, but a lovely rack. I was really impressed that he was able to pull that out at all, given his lack of proper muscling for gaiting. That gives me a hell of a lot of hope for future work on his gait, once we’re able to give him confidence that no one is going to harm him.

I entered the ring once more after he caught his breath, and was able to get one full lap of a loose reined flat walk out of him. I called it a day there. The second I hit the ground I showered him with praise, rubbing his forehead just the way he likes it. He had worked himself up pretty well, and definitely needed some time to cool out and dry off. I spent the next hour rubbing him down and grooming him, and maybe giving him one too many cookies.

I’m glad I got on him today. If nothing else, it gives me a baseline to work with for when the weather truly gets better, and I was able to reaffirm in my own mind that this horse has been mishandled in a big way at some point in his life. He is tense, stiff, brace-y and waiting for something bad to happen. I will be spending a lot of time on the ground with him with his bridle on, flexing him to both sides for now. I hope to, before spring really comes, have a chiropractor come out and give him a thorough once over, just to make triple sure that there isn’t anything bothering him physically.

It was also good, but really sad, to find out that my lovely Bob Marshall treeless saddle is too long for him with the square skirt, and hits him in the hips. Ugh. I don’t know what I’m going to do about that, but that’s something I’ll have to figure out.

A final thought, before I settle in to watching Castle and surfing Imgur until I fall asleep — I am angry. I am angry at the asshole who did this to my horse. If I could hunt whoever it was down and smack the shit out of them, I would. This horse does not need a harsh hand in any way, shape or form. Even scared and waiting for the worst, he obeyed my commands and tried hard to do the right thing. It makes my blood boil to know that he was mistreated in this way. He stood with me in the paddock for a bit, letting my lean against him and breathe him in. He rested his head on my back, and when I pulled away, I realized I had woken him up. He is sweet, smart and responsive. There was NO REASON for this horse to be treated this way.

However, there’s nothing I can do about the past. I can only shape his future, and I am honored to be the one that’s going to be able to help him. Today was a good start in the right direction.

Here are a few more pictures from today of him modeling his shiny leather halter that a good friend and coworker bought for him.

Dirty critter. Can’t wait until spring so I can clean him up!
Blue is his color, if you hadn’t already guessed 😉

Snowpocalypse Begins!

I am cuddled up in bed, hiding from the storm. I, slightly ashamed, called out of work today. I work about 45 minutes from home, and have a little toy of a car…I was simply not comfortable going anywhere near the roads, even though the storm didn’t start until around 9ish this morning. So, I’m riding out the storm here at home, staying in PJs and drinking hot chocolate. I probably should do productive things, like clean my room and do laundry…but I’ll do that tomorrow, as I’m sure I won’t be going anywhere!

I live southwest-ish of Boston…predicted 18-24″ of snow. Aieeee!

However, this also means I’m relatively bored. I woke up at six, fussed around the computer, napped for an hour around twelve, and chatted with a coworker on the phone for a bit. Now I’m idly tapping my fingers and wondering what to do next.
So, here I am. I promised myself that this year, I would write more. Thankfully, I’ve got a great muse in the form of a stocky black pony critter…who is currently weathering the storm about an hour away. Sigh. 
Anyway, I’m going to take some time to brainstorm ideas for “mini-series” to blog about in between Image updates. They will be horse related, of course…just not sure what yet!
So, while I get to thinking…have a disgruntled!Image picture. L, in all her wonderfulness, has bundled Image up within an inch of his life so he and his pasture buddy can ride out the storm in style and warmth!
Cute stinker!

Snowmageddon!

I hate snow.

However, I love snow pony pictures.

…but I hate snow.

Tomorrow and Saturday, you’ll find me hiding in my bedroom with all four seasons of Castle to watch. Sunday, once the roads are clear, I’ll make the trek up to see Image, and hopefully chase him about in the fresh snow to get some gorgeous snow pony pictures.

So…I guess I don’t hate snow THAT much. 😉