February 2006

February 1, 2006

I had a wonderful session with my little Blue horse today. I decided I would do a mounting block session with him. Since the bridle was bugging him though, I decided I would just use a halter. Then I decided I would just leave him bareback, since I probably wouldn't put a leg over him anyway.

I decided to start by grooming him. The horses are "outdoor" horses, full coat and full mud! With all the rain we get, and all the mud in the pasture, the horses are generally in desperate need of grooming but too wet to do it. (We don't have heated water in the barn, so no, I'm not going to bathe them in the winter, certainly not if I'm then planning to turn them back in a muddy paddock.) Blue was mostly dry today though, so I took him and some grooming supplies out to the little arena.

Blue doesn't like being groomed. He never has. But instead of tying him up, I took his halter off and left him loose. I asked him to stand, and as I groomed him, I clicked him for standing still and for doing something with his head other than mess with me. :-) He could look away, look forward, or put his head down.

If he took a step forward or back, I asked him to reset into the original place. I thought this might be a challenge since he was at liberty, but he responded brilliantly to my signals.

After I groomed him, I put his halter back on. I had thought I would lead him to the mounting block, but on a whim, I signalled him to follow. He did. We ended up mixing standing still at the mounting block and leading at liberty for the rest of the session. I was amazed at how well he did with the leading.

The mounting block session was better than the one a couple of days ago. Initially he showed a tendency to step away when I went to the top of the mounting block or put any weight on him, but I broke it down, and by the end, he was standing better.

I'm hoping I have a chance to do few more sessions like this before Brandy comes over on Monday.

February 6, 2006

Well, today didn't go quite as I'd planned. We are starting a week of gorgeous sunny weather after a couple of months of horrible rain. I've really been wanting to ride Blue, but I didn't want to get on without help. (He's VERY green and young, and in the year and a half I've owned him, I've been on him twice, for a total of five minutes. That was six months ago.)

I arranged for my friend Brandy to come out and help. However, she called this morning and rescheduled for Saturday. Darn it! I want to ride my horse. So what if my husband is out of town and my neighbors are gone to work? (Hey, at least I wore my helmet and carried my cell phone.)

Mounting went fine. We walked around the little arena, and then I cut across the arena to change direction. He got scared... head came up, and back end started skittering forward. I tried to turn him to the right, and he spooked to the left and skittered forward. I came off and landed like a bag of wet cement on my right side.

In case you were wondering, gravel is not very comfortable to land in. I have a very sore hip and a couple of ugly abrasions on my calf and elbow... And I broke my finger. First bone I've ever broken.

I broke the middle phalange on the ring finger of my right hand. I heard the break, and the top joint was angled wrong. I decided that I was already in pain, and it would just get worse once it started swelling, so I straightened it. The doctor told me I did a good job and minimized the damage. However, I have a complete greenstick fracture, and the bones aren’t close enough together, so it's very unstable. I have to go see a hand surgeon. They'll decide whether we can just wait and see how it heals or if they want to insert a wire to stabilize the bones. That sounds horrible to me.

On the plus side, I experienced far less pain than I could have. I set the dislocation and fracture, and then I immediately went in and took a Vicodin (left over from a root canal a few months ago) and applied ice until the doctor could see me.

I'm pretty sore now though. Landing on my hip has resulted in a sore lower back and tailbone. I'm betting I won't be moving much for the next couple of days. But hey, I have a great story to tell!

February 7, 2006

Turns out that it was the sitting that was bad. I wasn't stiff and sore at all this morning. (I mean beyond reason.)

And I slept fine too. She prescribed Vicodin, but I don't want to go the narcotic route unless I have to (like right after the fall). I still have plenty of the anti-inflammatory left from the shoulder injury, so I'm going to take that instead. I meant to take Vicodin last night, but I was thinking about the other drug and took it instead. I didn't want to take both without asking, so I figured I'd just grit my teeth and bare it. Turns out there was no pain once I got to bed and stopped sitting. No pain this morning either. I really don't see the point in taking Vicodin.

I went to the hand surgeon today. She said the bones are set really well (hee!!), and she tested and found that there's minimal rotation. So we're going to take pictures in one week and in two weeks. If there's no slippage, I won't need surgery. They made me this really cool removable plastic splint/cast that immobilizes three of my fingers but leaves me my thumb and index finger.

I'm not on any pain meds. No reason to be. I slept well and woke up feeling better than I felt when I went to bed. My muscles aren't too sore, but I made an appointment with my massage therapist just the same.

I'm trying to figure out what to do with Blue. Oh, I won't sell him, but he and I will both have baggage, and I'll need help with him. Money is the big issue though.

February 10, 2006

I've been talking to various people, weighing my options. There are several excellent clicker trainers in the area. I decided to check with Laura Merrit and Bo Bishop, two clicker trainers I really admire. Their energy is great, and I love the relationships they have with their horses. I happened to find Laura's contact info, so I called her first. She recommended someone else I know whom I hadn't considered, Leslie Peeples.

I called Leslie and chatted with her. Affordable, and I like her personality and range of experience. I think she'll be both positive and effective. And thorough. She just happens to have an opening in March, so if I can get Jay to agree, I'm going to put Blue in training for a few months.

I'm also going to put me in training for a few months. I realized, to my chagrin, that if I had been in better shape, I probably wouldn't have come off. So Blue and I both need intensive work. Then he and I can come back together at a safer, more balanced place.

Now I have to find a way to get him down there.

February 15, 2006

The vet came out today to give vaccinations and to float the horses' teeth. I'm not big on vaccinations, but since Blue is going down to a boarding stable, I figured he needed to be up to date. And, since he's going into training, I figured a little pre-emptive dentistry wouldn't hurt either.

All went well though it took much longer than I expected. I was almost late to work!

I called a local transporter to get a quote. Hopefully, it'll be affordable.

February 21, 2006

Today is a mix of good and bad.

I went to the doctor today and got my hand rechecked -- that was a definite good! My bones are healing nicely, and I'm officially on "part-time" use of the splint. I can even type with both hands! My finger is stiff, and it isn't terribly reliable on the keyboard, but it's much better than one-honded typing.

Another "good" was a discussion I had with Leslie, Blue's trainer-to-be, yesterday. It turns out that she too is interested in R+ training. Yay! We have a lot to talk about, and I'm grateful to have someone of like mind so close.

That leads into the "bad." I continue to be frustrated with my horse mailing list. It seems like every thread is a rehashing of the last, and they're all defense of negative reinforcement. There's so little positive reinforcement on the list, in concept or in action.

In life we do things for two reasons -- because we get someting we want out of it or because we are trying to avoid something unpleasant. I can't for the life of me figure out why I'm still on ANY horse lists. I get zero positive reinforcement there; the experience is highly aversive. I feel physically ill when posts come in. Why stay? At this point I stay on "my" list solely because Neil won't let me quit. I'm not sure how long that's going to continue though, because frankly, life is too short.

I started ClickerSolutions because I wanted to talk about solutions to training problems without dwelling on negative stuff. I thought that this horse list would simply be the horse equivalent of wonderful ClickerSolutions. But it just isn't. It's contentious and negative and unsupportive. I hate it.

February 27, 2006

What a day! This was the day that Blue moved to Olympia. He had, of course, rolled in the mud, so my goal was to get up, get his tack and supplements packed, and groom him before the hauler arrived at 10:00. After packing, I took Blue out to the arena. Guin FREAKED. She whinnied and then galloped to the other end of the dry lot so she could keep an eye on him.

You have to understand... she NEVER has responded in any way to his leaving before. I generally interpret her behavior as relieved that she has a peaceful respite for a little while. What was different? The only thing I could identify was that I had been telling them what was going on -- that Blue was going to be leaving today to go to Olympia.

Anyway, I took Blue out to the arena and left him at liberty because he is more comfortable with grooming when he isn't tied. I realized pretty quickly that the mud was too fresh to get off without a hose, but it was too cold to give him a bath. Well, at least I could get some of the crap out of his tail. And that's where things got weird with him.

It took me half an hour -- literally -- to catch him and put a halter on him. Oh my God, I was so frustrated. I was like, WTF? What's your damage, horse? He was agitated and had no intention of letting me near him. Had it been any other day, I'd have just left him there, but the hauler was on her way.

I finally got him, and after working on his tail a bit, I put him in his stall to wait for the hauler. I wasn't going to repeat that chase scene! Guin and Blue stood head to head until the hauler got there, and then... it was over. They were both calm. He just walked onto the trailer, and she said not a word.

Let me say, I loved the hauler. Her name is Kathleen Hargus of Animal Taxi in Bothell. I recommend her.

Blue rode like a dream, but he was nervous when we got there. We turned him out in the indoor arena, and then Leslie and I went to grab a burger and chat while he destressed. Leslie is AWESOME. I adore her more now than I did before. She knows her stuff inside and out. I have absolutely no qualms leaving my Blue boy there.

I won't bore you with the details of our chat. Let's just sum it up that she left the resturant knowing that I'm a complete beginner prone to bad, impulsive decisions and in way over her head.

After lunch we went back and played with Blue for a while. He was still really nervous, though as she worked with him, he calmed a bit. Eventually, we put him in his big paddock, and he settled right in. He seemed nervous but excited to be going to "camp." I have great hopes for this situation!

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