Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Super Bowl is only one Day away!

I know I haven't posted in forever, but what a way to come back. Some of my favorite videos and pictures for the Steeler Nation the day before the big game. Turn the music off on the sidebar before playing the videos.

And just because this is just so dang funny!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Where the heck has she been?

We all possess the thunder of pure fury and the calm breeze of tranquility.  If it wasn't for tomorrow, how much would we get done today?  Whatever your purpose... embrace it completely.  Get lost in the clouds every now and then so you never lose sight of God's wonder.  ~Paul Vitale

I have been on quite the hiatus lately. I know, I know. Life has been moving. Given that the weather will be quite conducive to staying inside for the next few days, I will give an update soon and will promise to try and post more regularly. Bear with me.... :) Heading into the barn early early this morning and trying to beat the humidity. It's farrier day today and we have got a full day. Once that is done I will sit down and bring you up to speed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within. ~Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross

My collegiate team placing Reserve High Point Team, this past Saturday.
Great Job Girls!

Next show is this Saturday, our home meet, at Crooked Creek Horse Park.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Not so Wordless Wednesday... a tad late

The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire. ~Sharon Ralls Lemon

This is Dell back in May, just days before my surgery. If you remember, it was Dell who was tragically injured the previous August. For a brief reminder go here then here. Then you will be up to speed. The pictures above were taken moments after Dell being turned out for the first time since his injury. You would think he would go racing down the hill and want to run and buck for a while, nope, he wanted to be a pocket pony.

I was extremely worried that I wouldn't have a horse at the end of this recovery, but Dell proved me wrong. I not only have a horse, but he has blossomed into this beautiful, cute, willing animal, who desperately just wants to please his Mommy.

He and I are now making the slow recovery to get back in shape from our injuries. He has great motion in the hock and my vet feels he should have no further issues with it, other than some arthritis much later in life that can easily be treated. I have ridden him a few times now and have been very pleased with all that he remembered.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Long Overdue Recap of the Summer Shows

While we try to teach our children all about life,Our children teach us what life is all about.~Angela Schwindt

I am finally getting around to posting about the summer show season. Whew! It has been one of those summers. Morgan was the only one to show this year, with Mom (me) being laid up most of it with my surgery. Jeff got to play Show Daddy, which he proved very adept at, and made me extremely proud. Morgan showed 3 horses this year. She was a busy little girl. Romey, Ripley and Malarky were her picks for the year. She didn't get to go to as many shows as we had hoped, but with surgery, Jeff starting his own company, so we now do not have to move, and him heading to Australia for 3 months for his company, things have been a tad busy to say the least.
We started in May with the Horseman's Open Obstacle Challenge, sponsored by the PNHA, Inc.
Morgan took Ripley and Romey. She did In - Hand and Under Saddle with both of them.

Romey ~ In Hand

Romey started out under saddle nicely. She handled the obstacles very well, until she got to the end of the bleachers...

and the Rodeo began.

We don't know what spooked her...

but Morgan rode it out, and then calmed her down to continue on.

Ripley in the under saddle portion.

Ripley in the In Hand portion.

Morgan had a great time, learned a lot and even placed with her girls. We are looking forward to next years event.

A few weekends later was a few open shows. Morgan took Ripley. She showed in Showmanship, Halter, English pleasure, English equitation, Ladies Pleasure. For fun, she ran in barrels and poles. Ribbons all around, well except for gaming. Ripley is not a speed horse, by any means. One of my girls, Becky, from my collegiate team, came to one of the shows as well, with my favorite Appy mare, Kammie. She showed very well.

Morgan and Ripley in Open Pleasure

Morgan and Ripley after Pole Bending

Getting ready for Equitation

On course in Showmanship

The end of July brought 4-H County Round Up and torrential rain all week, so to say the ring was a mess was a huge understatement. Morgan and Malarky showed Junior Division in Showmanship, receiving 3rd place, Trail, receiving 4th place, Hunter Under Saddle Equitation, receiving 1st place and finally Hunter Under Saddle Pleasure receiving 4th place. She moved onto Districts in all her classes.

Waiting to execute her Equitation pattern.

The ring was just slop from all the rain.
The second weekend in September was the 4-H District show. Morgan had developed a tremendous head cold and flu-like symptoms. As the day wore on and she waited to go into the trail class, her head got worse. It was finally time to go in and she and Malarky performed the obstacles well, not perfect, but respectacle. Malarky tried too hard to please Morgan, and he was sure he had read the pattern as well. Morgan took it in stride, came out of the ring smiling and patted her palomino Einstein. I will say she scored perfect on two of her obstacles, where others were crucified. I never realized how hard halting could be for some horses. Malarky just has a natural halt and stops square, and I have always taken that for granted as has Morgan. She was pleased over all with how she did though as was I.

Sunday brought Showmanship, Hunt Seat Equitation and Pleasure. Morgan's cold was extremely worse, so much so, that I thought she might pass out from dizzy spells. A huge thanks to Scott for coming to the rescue with Sudafed. Without it, I do not think Morgan would have been able to ride in the afternoon.

We did not expect much in showmanship. My goal was for Malarky to stand in the line up quietly and not fidget, beg for treats, fall asleep and cock a hind leg. Goal achieved! He also performed all his elements perfectly but one. His first 270 pivot, he stepped out a bit, mostly due to Morgan's head being stuffed up and her not being able to concentrate on much, but putting one foot in front of the other. Again, she and I were both pleased with the old boy.

Standing in the line up in Showmanship

The afternoon brought a bit clearer headed and less achy Morgan. She and Malarky warmed up great, after a minor argument over how to ask for the counter canter, which was a required element in her Equitation pattern.

The Hunter Under Saddle Jr. Equitation class had 21 entries. Only 2 riders executed the pattern correctly. Most had trouble with the counter canter. Morgan started out flawless then I watched her tense up as she asked for the flying change. She had worried to much about it. That was alright though. She went to the rail with the other 20 riders and began the rail portion of the class. She quickly forgot the mistake in her pattern and put on her winning smile and began to negotiate her rail work with Malarky. Their transitions from canter to walk and back up to canter were beautiful.

Their Hunter Under Saddle Pleasure Jr. class also had 21 entries. I was actually surprised they did not split either class. In the past they have done this, plus the dust was horrible. I don't know how the judges could have seen through it. Morgan and Malarky again had a great ride. I think it is one of the best rides I have seen on him. It was certainly one of Morgan's best rides and that is and always will be her goal, to improve from the last ride, regardless of the placing.

Unfortunately, Morgan and Malarky were not what the judges were looking for that day. Morgan asked the judges for comments and stated she was on the only palomino and the judges couldn't remember Malarky or her. They stated they were looking for "scopey" horses. When Morgan mentioned her palomino horse is 15.1 and a bit stocky, they had an "A Ha" moment and they told her that those types of horses do not fit, nor place in Hunter Under Saddle. She was a bit disappointed in their comments, but she knows it is just their opinion. She and I have both seen shorter horses do fantastic and the judges like them, her own Ripley included, who is quite stocky and only 14.2. I would have like to have seen them use a rated judge at Districts, but I was still extremely proud of my girl and Malarky, who came out of a two year retirement due to an arthritic knee and showed fantastically.

Below is a video that shows part of her Eq. and Pleasure classses and better shows the less than ideal show conditions.

So with that comes the end of another show season for Morgan. Her and Malarky will be working hard over the winter months, as well as Romey being developed more. Looking to hit a few early shows in the spring with them both.

Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man. ~Rabindranath Tagore

Friday, August 21, 2009

What I'm reading....and How it relates to today

We pass through this world but once. Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within. ~Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man

During my confinement after surgery, there was little I could do. What I could do though was read. prior to surgery I ordered several books, okay twelve to be exact. I'm an avid reader. Anyway, I started reading Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged". I had saved this book for last because it was 1168 pages. I can read very quickly, but I wanted to savor this one.

All I can say so far is WOW! This author was prophetic in her writing. As I read this book, I have to keep reminding myself that she wrote it in 1957. She could very easily be talking about today. It is a fictional novel, but I find myself so absorbed by her thought provoking phrases that I find myself thinking she knew what was coming.

"Atlas Shrugged" deals with how we as a people have to have a standard, a code that we live by and that we must have a moral compass, if we do not, we allow ourselves to become slaves and we become hopeless. We have to know right from wrong and we have to strive for and fight for what is right. I am only a third of the way through this book thus far, but the following excerpt slammed me like a ton of bricks and summed it all up for me as to how society has denigrated to what we see now. I know it is lengthy but please read it to the end.

Francisco speaking to Rearden:

"... Did you want to see it used by men who could not equal the power of your mind, but who would equal your moral integrity - men such as Eddie Willers - who could never invent your Metal, but who would do their best, work as hard as you did, live by their own effort, and riding on your rail - give a moment's silent thanks to the man who gave them more than they could give him?"
"Yes," said Rearden gently.
"Did you want to see it used by whining rotters who never rouse themselves to any effort, who do not possess the ability of a filing clerk, but demand the income of a company president, who drift from failure to failure and expect you to pay their bills, who hold their wishing as an equivalent of your work and their need as a higher claim to reward than your effort, who demand that you serve them, who demand that your strength be the voiceless, rightless, unpaid, unrewarded slave of their impotence, that yours is only to give, but theirs only to take, that yours is to produce, but theirs to consume, that you are not to be paid, neither in matter nor in spirit, neither by wealth nor by recognition nor by respect nor by gratitude - so that they would ride on your rail and sneer at you and curse you, since they owe you nothing, not even the efforts of taking off their hats which you paid for? Would this be what you wanted? Would you feel proud of it?
"I'd blast that rail first," said Rearden, his lips white.
"Then why don't you do it, Mr. Rearden?..."

Does this sound familiar to you? Do the actions of the "whining rotters" sound like anyone you know. I could name about half of our goverment as the "whining rotters". Heck, I could name a slew of people in my own community.

We live in the greatest county the Earth has ever seen. We became great through our freedom, our right to pursue our dreams, our right to fail and pick ourselves up and to then go on and succeed. When did we become a nation of whiners with our hands out? That is not what made our country great. Hard work, determination, integrity, honesty, vision and pride in a job well done. That is what has kept us strong and it is what we need to get back to, not sitting waiting for our next goverment handout as we stand idly by watching our goverment tear apart and throw away what has been our greatest strengths.

I don't know what the answer is or what the most effective way to help people wake up to what is happening, other than to read history and see what has and has not worked in the past and do my best to let others know and to tell it the way I see it. You might not agree with me, but hopefully it will put you on the path to see all the sides and not just listen to the mainstream, but to question them and listen to your own mind before you just follow like blind sheep. Inform yourself, don't rely on just one source, find and search out several till you are satisfied you have turned over every stone.

If you would like to now more about Ayn Rand you can learn more
here. I highly recommend her books and don't be surprised if you see more rants from me and a quote here and there from her books.

I'm off my soap box for today. I will get the pictures up from the few shows Morgan attended so far, with more coming, along with other stuff that has been going on.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

To Hell and Back Again

Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open. ~B.K.S. Iyengar

Wow! It feels good to be back again. For those of you who didn’t know, I have been laid up for several months. In all truthfulness I have not been myself for over a year. To go back to the beginning of my saga, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was in high school. Never one to let things get in my way, I have always sloughed off certain aches and pains to a bad arthritis day, and moved on, albeit a little slower. Well, for the past year it had become increasingly difficult for me to get through my day without significant pain. Back in February I awoke to stabbing pain under my shoulder. Thinking I slept wrong, I took my ibuprofen like a good girl and began my day. The next morning the pain began down my arm. Within a few weeks I had probably dropped and broken more coffee cups, than I had actually held onto. My left arm was on constant fire and I was beginning to lose feeling in my hand. Thinking I had the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel syndrome, I made an appointment to see my orthopedic Dr. Well he felt an x-ray of my neck was in order. Me being the argumentative patient, I have been known to be, told him no it was Carpal Tunnel. He asked me to just amuse him with the x-ray, so I begrudgingly did. What he saw on my x-ray horrified him. I was not surprised by the results. My neck is curved absolutely wrong. I had seen this before several years ago and no doctor had ever made mention of it except to point out places where osteoporosis had begun to set in. I still was convinced at this point that I had the Carpal Tunnel thing going on and argued this with my doctor. To placate me, he ordered an EMG test along with an MRI of my neck. To give you an idea of what my neck looked like I have found the following pictures. The first is what your neck should look like.

not what my neck looked like.

My neck looked more like this, well not quite like this. The red line shows how badly curved I was. I had no luck finding one quite like mine. Lucky me!

The red line shows where my vertebrae actually were. They were essentially pushing into my spinal column. If they have a phase for where my neck was at I would hazard a guess at phase 3, or more appropriately find that girl some bubble wrap quick!

Again, I was not terribly alarmed by this, because no other doctor had been. Like a good girl I went for my MRI and then a few days later my EMG, which let me tell you, it was a good thing I couldn’t feel much at this point. First they attached little metal electrodes to my wrist, hand and fingers and then brought out a mini stun gun and began shocking me. This was to determine if I was receiving electric stimulus through my nervous system, better known as a nerve conduction test. I watched my fingers move involuntarily and imagined it probably felt like grabbing the electric fence over and over again like a moron.

This is similar to what I went through during the first part of the test.

Once that was over, I became the human pin cushion. Have you ever seen the needle they use for this? Well leave it to me to show it to you.

Believe me when I say that needle is big!

The doctor pointed out where he was going to start, which was basically the side of my neck and work down my arm till he got to my hand where the last two points of insertion would be. I turned my head away and a few minutes later the doctor asked me if I was feeling anything. I stated that it felt like a felt tip pen putting marks on my arm. He made a sound that sounded like disbelief and I looked to see a needle buried into my arm and he pointed to the monitor screen and that it basically showed a flat line. It made me think of the Star Trek line “it’s dead Jim.” The doctor continued with his needle down my arm with very little activity on his screen. When he moved to my right arm, we had a bit more activity, but not much. After the test was over I asked him if he thought it was Carpal Tunnel and he felt it was possible.

Now I had to go home and wait a week for the test results to get back to my doctor, all the while the pain in my arm and shoulder becoming more excruciating. Sleep was near impossible and I was becoming quite short tempered to those who dared be around me. Trying to get my barn chores done took me all day, driving anywhere was unbearable. Riding any of my horses was out of the question. Needless to say I was calling my doctor almost daily for the results. Finally on a Thursday, my doctor called to say I had an appointment with a neurosurgeon the following morning. I asked why and he said the neurosurgeon would tell me. I called Jeff in Indiana and cried to him over the phone. What was going on with my body that I could no longer make function normally?

The next morning I went to see Dr. Conry, the neurosurgeon. He sat me down in his exam room and began to explain all that was wrong with me. He used words like spinal stenosis, which according to the Mayo Clinic is: “a narrowing of one or more areas in your spine — most often in your upper or lower back. This narrowing can put pressure on your spinal cord or on the nerves that branch out from the compressed areas.” Mine was in my neck. I had two herniated discs and a few vertebrae that had seen their better days. I had lost 40 % strength in my left arm due to the C6 and C7 nerve being put under pressure due to my really bad neck curvature. Surgery was my only option and I needed it right away. As Dr. Conry spoke to me about the surgery, I willed my tears to hold back from the flood that was about to come. Would I be able to brush my horses let alone ever ride one again? He could see the fear written on my face and asked if anyone had come with me like my husband. I squeaked out a “no”. He asked if anyone could come to meet me. I again said no and told him Jeff worked three states away. The tears were slipping out of my eyes. I asked him in a whimper if I would be able to ride again, expecting to be chastised for being so greedy. He smiled a warm smile and happily told me yes. I would ride again. He had been having tremendous success with this surgery, and as long as I behaved myself during the recovery I would be riding in no time. He requested that I give up starting any horses though and leave that to the younger generation. He has a daughter who enjoys riding and all too well understood the craziness that is horse people. He did caution me though that I had to be extremely careful in the meantime. One hard tug from a horse was all it would take at this point to paralyze me. He then began to explain the surgery to me. He would remove my herniated discs, clean up my over worked vertebras, attach cadaver bones to the affected areas and then fuse together my C5, C6 and C7 vertebrae with metal. He hoped I would get some strength back in my arm, but was not overly hopeful. So much damage had happened. What I had mistook for arthritis pain the past few years had been my neck. Granted the arthritis had taken its toll, but we are still unsure as to how my neck became this bad. One just has to look back over my past history of klutziness, several car accidents, genetic makeup and just general way of my life and you can come up with a plethora of ways I could have become like this. You have a better chance of me remembering what I was wearing under my cap and gown at my high school graduation. Talking about memory, the other thing that I found out was that my short term memory had been greatly affected, due to my spinal column having so much pressure on it. HA ! IT’S NOT MY FAULT I CAN’T REMEMBER ANYTHING. I had a bona fide reason now. Jeff was not buying it, but he did begin to slowly realize it held merit.

I left his office and walked to my car so suddenly aware that one wrong move could be it. I sat down in my car and began to bawl my eyes out. Neck surgery! Is that not what everyone fears? My prayer up until the day of surgery was that Dr. Conry would not sneeze during surgery with a scalpel in his hand.

May 26th was D-day. I went in to the hospital at 5 in the morning. I was first on the table. I was nervous, terrified and hopeful. Please don’t sneeze was all I kept saying under my breath, and then the “count back from 100 was all I heard. The next memory I had was waking up in the recovery room. I did a quick check of all my limbs. YES! They all worked. Better yet I had absolutely no pain in my shoulder or arm. I had been in pain for so long; I had forgotten what it was like to be in the absence of pain. It was euphoric. I was such a stellar patient, I was released the next morning to go home and begin my 6 weeks of doing absolutely nothing. While that seems tempting and you might even be envious of doing nothing, let me tell you it is not all it is cracked up to be. That was the toughest 6 weeks I have ever endured. I had to give control of my barn and animals over to Jeff and the kids. While I will say they did a fantastic job, it was not me doing it, which means I can do it better. I also read about 10 books, watched every movie I had not had time to before and basically sat staring at the 4 walls around me. Sleep again eluded me due to the not real comfortable cervical collar I was in. I had to turn to a prescription sleeping pill to get some sleep. I tried to remain extremely grateful though. No matter how hard I tried, I did slip into a bit of a depression. I had my little pity party as I watched Morgan ride Romey, envious of her youth and good health. I kept counting down the days till my release. I thought of posting here, but typing for any amount of time in a collar just was not happening. I did get out of baling hay though. That was a good thing. Finally July 7th rolled around and I was able to go get my x-ray. The techs showed me the metal in my neck. I had grown a little alien in there.

Side view of my little alien

I have three of these now in my neck, mine are purple though.

That Thursday, back into Dr. Conry’s office I went to review my x-ray and see if I could get out of my collar. Other than a slight chastising for sweeping my floors in the house, he was more than pleased with my recovery. My neck is still not curved the way it should be, but it is much straighter than what I had. He is concerned about C3 and C4, they are somewhat pressing into my spine and he warned me that in 5-10 years I might have to have those fused as well, but my prognosis was good and I have begun the slow transition back to normal life now pain free. He strength in my arm is slowly retuning which was a surprise to my therapist. Now to just work off those extra pounds I packed on for 6 weeks while doing nothing.

Stay tuned for my catch up posts.