Happiness & Guilt

I know that I still have not written about how my riding is going, but I am having a hard time not feeling guilty when I am happy. I sat down to write about my riding but it felt wrong to write how amazing it made me feel from the very moment I sat on JB when I am overall still so heavy hearted. It hasn’t even been 2 weeks since I lost my best friend so it just feels wrong to write happy things yet.

I am also feeling guilty that I am looking at new dogs. This is yet another mixed emotion for me. On one hand it does lighten my heart to think of a new dog in my now oh-so-empty home. But on the other hand is it disrespectful to Oscar to consider this so soon? My friend, M, has been spear heading the search. He told me that the best way to get over an ex is to get a new boyfriend and it is the same for a dog. While I do not necessarily believe in that there is some things that only a dog will be able to heal in me. Do you think I am moving too fast?

The other concern that I have with getting a new dog is the incredible bond that Oscar and I had. I know that most people think that they have a great bond with their animal but I have never felt or seen a bond like he and I had. It literally started from the first day we met when he broke free from the lady fostering him and ran directly to me then sat and leaned on my leg like that was exactly where he belonged. Once she caught up he jumped into my lap and put his paw on my face. In a very movie like moment he chose me. I know I know that I will find a new bond with a new dog and it won’t be the same but it will be there. But how do you beat the story of your puppy choosing you from across the room?

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Did I mention how cool Oscar was? He was totally secure enough in his manhood to rock pink blinged out sunglasses!

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He loved water so much that he even thought he might want to join us in the hot tub. When I told him no he splashed me!

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So tired after a day at the lake that he couldn’t even hold his head up on the way home.

The Toughest Decision & Hardest Goodbye

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Just looking handsome

I know that I dropped the big news that I started riding again and then disappeared. This has been the hardest month of my life (and for those who know me know I have lived through some very difficult things). It has taken me a week to even post this.

I made the decision to put Oscar down on April 23rd. He had been battling various symptoms of sickness for 3 weeks prior and on Friday he woke up with a huge swollen hind leg. I took him to the vet and they x-rayed it. It was an infection causing edema and he was given antibiotics. Oscar was pretty good that day and even walked around the yard a bit. The night though was bad. He as in a lot of pain and stress. By morning he would not eat or drink and he was very dehydrated. I took him in again and they did blood work. His red blood cells were off the chart low and his white blood cells were high. He was having some autoimmune reaction and the swelling in his leg was caused by him bleeding into it. The vet at my office (not my vet she was gone this whole weekend) sent me to the animal hospital where she wanted him to spend the weekend getting iv doses of antibiotics and steroids as well as have a blood transfusion.

The vets there did not have a positive outlook on this and neither did my friend’s friend who is a vet tech at an animal hospital. She said that most dogs who have to get transfusions are gone within 2 weeks after the transfusion anyhow. The vet we saw was very kind and told me that with the 2 issues of the autoimmune and the leg infection/bleeding that it was not a great chance of survival. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make but I decided it would be more selfish of me to put him through all the pain and stress especially since I had to leave for DC the following Wednesday-Sunday. Once I told the vet that I made the decision to put him to sleep she agreed that it was the choice she would have made because she really felt that the other course of action was just a bandaid and that he would be back in the hospital while I was gone. I would never ever forgive myself if I was not there for him in his last moments.

I asked the vet if she could give him some pain meds to help make him comfortable for a few hours so he could have a good last day.

We went to see his bestie, Zoey, where the meds finally kicked in and he played with her. They ran the fence line like they always did. He sun bathed on the deck, had a ribeye for dinner (luckily he got his appetite back since the pain was gone), I took him to our favorite ice cream place we used to go to all the time especially after my nephews’ baseball games and got his pup cup, we then went home.

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Oscar and Zoey. They ran that fence line so much there is a trench.

He walked around the yard a little but at this point his head was low and his tail was down. We went back in the house and he just laid in the bed. My mom and I loved on him for a while and then my sister came with the boys and when he saw them he lifted his head for the first time since he had been in bed. They used to play every day with each other. With my whole family there I told my mom that I could not make the decision to leave and asked her to say it.

He was back to panting when my mom said it was time. He actually perked up a bit and went to the car. He laid in the back seat with me and smiled the whole way. When we got to the office he did not act scared like he normally did. He climbed up on their couch and my mom and I loved on him. When they did it I knelt next to him and just held on to him as hard as I could. The vet tech held his head so it would go down easy. He went very peacefully. I held him a bit longer and apologized to him that I could not fix him.

I want to thank my family for being there for him (and me). I also want to thank Nettie for being there with me and helping me give him a great last day. And also for letting me bring Zoey home with me as my “loaner” dog to help comfort me. He loved her so much even though a Catahoula and Pitbull looked like such an odd couple. Lol

Oscar was the most amazing dog. He was the mascot for my nephews’ baseball teams, all time tackle when they played football, he went everywhere with me (camping, the lake, horse shows, hiking) and everywhere I took him he brought joy to people. While his eyes were unique it was his smile that people most commented on. My 2-lap dog (he thought he was a lap dog but it took 2 laps to hold him). As hard as this is I still thank God that 9 and a half years ago Oscar found me and jumped on to my lap at Quarter Horse Congress. It really was one of those life changing moments. Before I even saw him he knew that I was his. I say it that way because I don’t kid myself, I did not own him because the reality was he owned me. He was my soulmate, my best friend, my baby bear….

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He loved spending time at the lake. If there was water he was in it and would swim until he exhausted himself then would panic until I came and held him in the water. Lol

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He tolerated my nephews so well!

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I got it!

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My bed feels so empty now. 

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The best face in the world to wake up to.

Oscar was always such a talker. My house was not a quite one. Every day I came home he would meet me at the door then after a hug would run to the bed where I had to come and give him more love and attention. This was when he talked the most and would tell me all about his day. The video below is a day when I took too long getting to him so this was his bitch session. Lol! Notice how it all goes away when he hears a certain word.

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Goodbye my happy happy boy! You will be missed more than you could ever possibly know! You brought so much joy to my life that I could never re-pay.

 

The View from Up Here

My big news is that I have gotten back in the saddle! And I cannot express how excited I am that my return is on the one and only amazing JB! As you know from my last post it has been 8 months since my butt has sat in a saddle and it has been a LONG 8 months! While my core strength is not where I want it I could no longer last without riding.

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Oh how I have missed this view!

If you have ever felt the pain that I did you will understand why I was so scared to try riding but if you are reading this blog you are probably like me and understand that my insides would not heal without being able to ride. Riding is just part of who we are. That drive out weighed my fear and I asked my trainer, S, 3 weeks ago if she had anyone that I could ride. This was a tricky decision because I definitely needed a horse that was super smooth and would be tolerant of my atrophy of equitation skills. Lol. While I absolutely adore and love Tango I am afraid that his gait is part of what lead to my back issue so he was out of the question besides he has a great new partner right now. S’s horse, Newman, has been broken for some time from too much play in the pasture so he was out. Our schooling pool is very pony rich but only 4 horses. And of those that we do have; Rusty is way too bumpy, Pie is amazingly smooth but she has a full lesson schedule so it would not be fair to add another rider to her, Radar is decently smooth but busy like Pie, and then there is Willy but he older and for the little kids. My booty would be mean to him. Lol. I got a little frustrated but I understood and knew it would be hard to find the right one.

My jaw dropped when I got a text from S a few days later that said “Do you want to ride JB?” To understand why my jaw dropped I need to give you background on JB. He came to our barn in September and is being leased by A. The first time I noticed him in the pasture I just remember my eyes getting huge and I think I drooled a little!

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The amazingly handsome mammoth, JB!

JB is a 17.2 10 year old warmblood. He has done everything from 2’6” hunters to the 1.35 meter jumpers. A will be showing him in the 3’6” jumpers and open eq. I got to see A jump him in a clinic held at our barn in November and I was in awe of his athletic ability! A is amazing with him and fearless! I remember commenting that I was in love but at the same time I am not sure I could ever imagine feeling confident on such an athlete. Granted I will not be jumping him but even sitting on him was like a dream!

I am starting slow with just once a week only walking and trotting. I will talk about maiden ride in my next post. Today I just wanted to show off this handsome mammoth!

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Selfies are hard when you have a giant head!

JB Creeper

I was hanging out at A’s lesson when I felt someone watching me and turned around to see JB creeping on me from behind a standard! Lol

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Oscar had to prove that JB isn’t the only animal creeper in my life. LOL

I’mmmmmm Baaaaaack!

Hello Blog World! I am back! Sorry I have left you for so long but it has been a quiet and depressing 8 months. Trust me you would not have wanted constant updates during this time. After my back surgery I was up and down emotionally. Both my neurosurgeon and my physical therapist felt that I could get back to riding “someday” but were not sure if jumping would be sustainable in my future. I had to wait 3 weeks post-surgery before I could even start PT.

When I did start I was doing 3 days a week and eventually bumped up to 4 days a week. I will admit that PT was frustrating. I am used to healing quickly. In fact when I had my knee surgery my physical therapist told me that I was one of only 2 patients he had ever had pedal a bike both backward and forward on their first session. FYI the other guy was a semi-pro football player. I told him that he must have had any equestrians as patients before me cause we are one tough breed. 😉

But this time recovery was slow. I started in the pool literally just walking through the water. I told my therapist that I didn’t think it was challenging enough but she told me it had to be slow for a reason. Eventually I came out of the water and at that time a friend of mine hurt his ankle and had to have PT as well. Randomly he not only picked my place but had my therapist as well. Twice a week she had us both at the same time and I am pretty sure that she wanted to pull her hair out. My friend and I are both very competitive and bicker like we are siblings. It made the sessions go faster for us but she threatened to change our schedules on more than one occasion so that we were not together. Unfortunately, due to insurance reasons PT did not last as long as my therapist and I wanted. She sent me on my way with a list of exercises to do and a “good luck!” I did ask her when she thought I could ride. She said that she could not make that decision without seeing my future progress but not to even consider it until April. That was October.

Another interesting thing happened in October. ***If your get grossed out easily skip this paragraph.*** I found out after my first knee surgery that I was allergic to “normal” stitches when my incision split open from the inside. Turns out the stitches didn’t dissolve and my knee was majorly infected. I had to have emergency surgery to go back in and clean out the whole thing. Scary! But even scarier is an infection on your spine. I forgot to mention to my surgeon that I am allergic to stitches so when I came out of surgery with staples I breathed a sigh of relief. Um yeah, I didn’t think about the fact that I had internal stiches.  I was petrified when the incision on my back became fire engine red and split open. Turns out I had 12 internal stitches that my body was rejecting. Luckily, they were much closer to the surface of my body than my those that were in my knee and my body actually “spit” them out. The gross part was when I would feel the end of one break through my skin, I had to pull it out. The worst was when I was in a meeting at a conference in Vegas and pulled 2 out. I had to slyly hide them in a napkin and put another napkin on my back and hope the blood didn’t soak into my work clothes! If anyone noticed they were gracious enough not to mention it.

Gross talk over.

In the meantime I continued to eat like I did when I was very active. Actually to be honest I think I ate more out of depression. So no big surprise that I put on weight. But I re-joined Weight Watchers in January and I have lost 26 lbs! I do not know what I weighed at the end of last summer but according to the way my clothes fit now I must weigh the same. Which is still fatty status but I am still working on it. 🙂

The last 8 months have been tough. I went through a hermit phase where I barely went to the barn at all. It was very difficult to see all my friends riding and do the things that I can’t. It was a lose-lose situation. I missed the horses but got depressed when I went out. I know that some people could not understand my absence but at least one person at the barn understood. Her and I talked about a time when she was injured badly and wasn’t sure if a comeback would truly be possible. I didn’t stay away cause I no longer loved the horses. I stayed away cause it was too sad to think that I might not get back to where I was.

Where am I at today though…… I still wake up stiff every day but I have found that if I do my work out first thing in the morning it loosens my back. Bending over is still tough and can be painful but I am working on strengthening my core. I can’t sit very long without pain but work bought me an awesome standing desk which let’s face it is better than sitting regardless of back issues. I still have the cutest, most wonderful and special dog in the whole world! (Can’t have a post and not mention Oscar.) Tango is being leased by a 16 year old girl who is an amazing partner for him. I am very happy for the both of them. I do have some big news but this post is getting quite long so I think I will announce that later……………

 

Post Op

I know it has been a while but I swear I have a good reason. Let’s start back with the good stuff. Last weekend our barn hosted a show. There was no primary division at this show so I was not riding Tango, but I did get to ride in a class. A friend of mine, J, has been showing both a schooling horse, Radar, as well as his fancy lease horse Riley in the beginner division. He has been doing well on both of them over fences and was having a hard time deciding who to take in the flat class and since I still qualify for beginners I got to take Radar in the hunter OTF! Who doesn’t love getting to ride new horses! This was extra cool for me because even though both Tango and Radar are thoroughbreds they could not be more different. Tango is very compact where as Radar is taller and super long. I swear he is about 3 feet longer than Tango!

Handsome and very long Radar

Handsome and very long Radar

I really only had time to do one quick WTC in the warm up ring before going in the class. Right from the get go of the walk I was shocked at how different Radar moved from Tango. Radar’s trot was smooth and lofty which was really nice and his canter made me wish I was going in to an eq class with him. His rhythm just lulled you in to the saddle and it took everything I had to actually stay up in a hunter seat!

As we went in my trainer told me that Radar likes to trot around the corners and can have a hard time with his right lead. He definitely wanted to give up a few times but with a little leg he gave me a great ride! He even picked up his right lead like a pro. I had so much fun! We ended up 4th which I was so happy with. Thanks J for letting me ride him!

Now on to the not so good. From my previous posts you know that I have had some back issues. Tuesday morning I was in terrible pain. I was able to shimmy to my couch and called the pain clinic that did my spinal injections back in January. They had told me back then that I could get them every 6 months and I was right about at that time. I scheduled an appointment, laid on the couch and did some work with my laptop on my stomach. About 2 hours later I needed to use the restroom and I tried to crawl to the bathroom. It was very quick that I realized this was not the same back problem as before. My back started spasming with such intense pain that I had never felt before. I did everything that I could to reach my phone and called me cousin, A, who is not only engaged to an amazing neurosurgeon, M, but is also a nurse and surgical sales rep for spinal rods. She told me that it sounded like this was a nerve issue this time and to try to relax on the couch and see if it goes away.

I waited about an hour and it was clear it was not going away and I needed to get to a hospital. A friend came and got Oscar for me and my dad came to take me to the hospital. As soon as he tried to sit me up though, I could not take the pain and we had to call an ambulance. I have never taken one before and for some reason I was so embarrassed by the defeat of having to do this. I got to the ER and they asked me to sit up to determine how much pain killer to give me. Needless to say I did not get up very far. They gave me a shot and told me that once I felt better they would discharge me. I was NOT happy! I wanted some sort of diagnostic tests because I knew this was not right. They waited about 30-40 minutes after the pain killer to ask me to sit up again. I did and OMFG my back started spasming so violently that my entire body seizured! It was so violent that I somehow threw my body sideways and pinned myself on my left side against the railing of the bed with my head, shoulders, and legs hanging off the bed and my legs were kicking like I was running. This seizure lasted for 50 minutes straight. Once it started the nurse quickly put an IV in my hand and gave me another dose of pain meds but it didn’t do anything.

Sometime during the spasm I heard the doctor say that he was going to admit me and get an MRI as soon as possible. DUH?!? I felt like yelling at them that that was what I was asking for from the start! After the MRI, I was taken to my room and was in for a long night. I am so thankful for my nurse that night. There was not much that she could do to take the pain away but she was there for every spasm to hold my hand and made sure I was not alone. M came in my room at 6:30 am on Wednesday and told me that I had a huge herniated disc that was compressing on the nerves in my spinal column and that is why I was having the spasms and that I would be having surgery on Thursday. Technically first he told me that I looked like shit. Lol. M also started me on steroids which helped the inflammation so that my nerve wasn’t compressed as much and while I could not sit up still the random spasms definitely lessened.

Surgery day was finally here and I was ready! I did get a little nervous when they told me that I would have to have a breathing tube to breath for me. I know that this is normal but for some reason that is the thing that scared me most. But before that could happen I needed a new IV. The one the ER put in was too small. The OR nurse said they need to be able to get fluids in me quickly so they needed to put a bigger needle. 3 nurses and 8 sticks later they gave up on getting a bigger needle in and decided to keep my current IV and to add a second smaller IV to double my fluid intake. Let me clarify, this is not the nurses’ fault. My veins do not like IVs and I have always been notoriously difficult to drop an IV in.

Cause 1 IV just isn't cool enough!

Cause 1 IV just isn’t cool enough!

The surgery went well and M was very pleased with result and said he only needed 13 staples. I was up later that night for a walk down the hospital hallway. It was difficult to stand up but once I was up it got easier.

Overall I am very happy but am very sore. I can move around but it is difficult to get up. I cannot lift anything more than 2lb for 2 weeks and I start physical therapy in 3 weeks. The best news is that M said I will be back on a horse in 6 months! I know that seems like a long time but the fact that I will be able to ride again is keeping me going! I did end my lease on Tango which is sad and I will miss him but when I do come back in 6 months I need to make sure I find the right horse that is smoother.

In the meantime I will lay here on my back and get lots of kisses from Oscar!

The best medicine I could have!

The best medicine I could have!

Hover Trot

Today I am having a love/hate relationship with trainer D. During my Saturday lesson she was really drilling into me to be softer in the saddle when posting. I really thought I was but being both an expert and on the ground she was seeing something different. I was getting frustrated because I always want to do what is best for Tango. Not only is being light the prober way to ride but it is extra important with him since he tends to be back sore. An additional plus is that being light in the saddle will likely also be better on my back.

So going to the left T was nice and quiet, but when we reversed to the right he decided to become a spunky monkey! He was controllable but I was already thinking that jumping was going to be interesting. When he gets in his spunky mood it can turn bad over fences quickly. I really don’t ever think he is malicious he just gets super excited. I have never felt nervous going down a line with him because I KNOW that this horse is going to jump (knock on wood). It is after the out that he throws his head down, grabs the bit, takes control, and runs.

I meant to post this in my horse show post but forgot. I love the teal yarn in his mane!

I meant to post this in my horse show post but forgot. I love the teal yarn in his mane!

We did our normal warm up X then down the line. That was not horrible but we did have a pretty good argument in the corner after the first line. Well time to put a course together. The first course was a simple hunter course ending on the diagonal line headed home which could lead to trouble. So how was he…….. amazing! I feel like it has been nearly a year but he and I have finally clicked and trust each other. He revved himself up going down the lines but was so great that he came right back into my hand after the lines. The 2nd course had a roll back which when he is spunky can be difficult because he wants to go where HE wants to go but he did it with such ease. He even helped balance me when I tipped my shoulder in to the fence. I ended the lesson with a HUGE smile on my face!

This is what happens when you graze a horse you have spoiled with carrots but he deserved them!

This is what happens when you graze a horse you have spoiled with carrots but he deserved them!

After the lesson I cornered trainer D like I do after most lessons. I love that D and S put up with me so much. I always want to know what I can do better and Saturday I needed to talk about how to be lighter in the saddle. I had a great Ah Ha moment when she explained that to when I am posting I really should not even sit back in the saddle and to think about Tango’s back coming up to met me more than I am sitting down on to him. I have decided to name this the hover trot.

Due to work I was not able to ride again until my lesson last night with trainer S.

As I said today I have a love/hate relationship with her. The great training and advice is why I love her but after concentrating on doing the hover trot all lesson last night my body is hating her! Lol. I am so sore! On the plus side S said that I was being lighter and it looked better. As always it is a work in progress.

Jumping last night went really well again. The challenging portion for us was a 2 stride line to the diagonal line home. On a normal horse it would not be that bad but to make the 2 strides with T you have to get him cruising. That is not what is difficult. The difficult part is getting him back to a calmed canter on the diagonal headed home so he doesn’t get too strong and run. Did I say that was difficult? T stepped up to do the 2 stride and immediately S yelled to us to now calm down.  I could feel him wanting to take control but I sat up and quietly told him “easy bub” and his body relaxed got our strides down that line, courtesy circled and done! Like Saturday the 2nd course had rollback but this one was tighter. He nailed it!

Ok I will stop now because I sound like I am bragging. That is not it at all I am just so proud of that horse and the bond we are creating.

And you thought you were having a bad hair day!

And you thought you were having a bad hair day!

Stampede thought it was fun to pick up the step ladder.

Stampede thought it was fun to pick up the step ladder.

Throwback Thursday

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Encouragement aka “Jamison”

I miss this boy every day! He was a 16.2 hand appaloosa. I think these pictures are 10 years oldish. This is one horse that I trusted my life with! He passed away about 5 years ago at the age of 20. There is all this blog talk about Heart Horses and my Baby Jay was definitely that for me! He was the kindest and silliest horse I have known and for me he was the bravest because we trusted each other. 

He kept trying to push me down! Lol. I swear sometimes you could hear him laughing!

He kept trying to push me down! Lol. I swear sometimes you could hear him laughing!

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Baby Jay loved kisses!

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Supervising my wrapping job!

Supervising my wrapping job!