Sunday, December 30, 2012

Looking Back (and Ahead)

What a crazy ride this year has been. I always like to reflect on the past year but I have to say I am anticipating a good year in 2013. 2012 certainly involved a lot of good things but I think it was definitely my most challenging year so far too.

The start of 2012 was full of promise, with me riding Roz, Rhythm, and helping with Rheiny. The plan was to show Rhythm first level and possibly even 2nd. I was planning to continue Roz's training and had committed to riding him on the weekends for sure. When March came around Roz turned 20 and decided his riding days were coming to an end. He sustained a cut on his cornet band and never did come back sound. I took Rhythm to our one and only dressage show, at first level. We got decent scores and he handled everything really well.

April brought about the return of Pretty and a backing off in the time I spent riding Rhythm. The transmission went out in my 2006 Ford Mustang that only had 65,000 miles on it. That was super frustrating. I sold Pretty in June, and decided to sell my car (after fixing the transmission). In July I bought my Mazda 3 Dory, and I purchased Chevy! Roz somewhat "officially" retired and moved home to our farm. Chevy and I had the lovely month of August, and a great first horse show before I found out that I had Breast Cancer on August 31st. Since then it has been a somewhat crazy ride of doctor appointments, surgery, chemotherapy, and just trying to enjoy every day that I am given.

What does 2013 have in store? It's hard to say. I pray that it will be healthy year. Chemo should finish up the beginning of March, and I am SO looking forward to being done. It's definitely the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I'm looking forward to the birth of my first nephew in April. I'm hoping this is the year that I can purchase my Cardi baby. I'm anticipating some lovely trail rides with Rozzy Ridge, and some beach adventures with Tarra. I'm beyond excited to see Carrie Underwood at the Willamette Country Music Festival in August. And I am dreaming about 2 weeks spent in Ireland with my family. I know this year won't be with out a few bumps here and there but I plan to enjoy every minute that I can.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Poll Question: Mares

I'm looking for every one's opinion on mares. I WANT to be a mare person but honestly my 2 most difficult horses were mares. My first pony was a wonderful POA mare who took excellent care of me. To this day my younger brother says that all of my horses are POA's- Prisoners of Alanna.

My next 2 mares after her, with 2 geldings in between, were both difficult and I didn't have a lot of success with them. Granted, both were off the track racehorses with unknown upbringing etc. The first mare I was not even close to well matched with in terms of my skills at that time. Then she sustained a pretty major injury requiring 6 months of stall rest. Once she got done with stall rest she was never the same again, super duper spooky and just a little crazy. So it's hard to really blame that totally on being a mare.

Some of you were around for my time with the 2nd mare, Roxanne. She is a gorgeous thoroughbred mare with tons of talent but in the end we just couldn't make it work. I got her as a feedlot rescue when she was 5. She always had a lot of opinions and wouldn't hesitate to kick at you on the lunge line or throw her weight around a little bit. We did fairly well for a couple of years, and I totally loved her, but in the end everything was too much of a fight. It wasn't simply a matter of asking her to do something and her just doing it. Every new concept she came across required fit throwing until she figured out what I wanted. Because she was so athletic I didn't feel safe really disciplining her well enough because I was afraid that she would buck me off. It ended up being a downward spiral, but even then it was really hard to let her go.

I really think that if I had gotten Roxy as a young, not started horse, our story would have turned out differently, but then I wonder if that is just wishful thinking? I'd love to hear from the mare and gelding fans out there. Anyone with similar experiences? For me geldings just seem a little bit easier to get along with and a lot less opinionated (for the most part).

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Lots of Fun

Christmas is so fun! For our family it's a day spent with lots of family at my Grandparents house. It's so relaxing and I always look forward to our time together. My main gift this year was rubber floor mats for my new Mazda 3. It came with fairly nice carpet ones but I'm really not a carpet floor mat kind of girl. I'm always getting in to my car with wet and/or muddy boots and it drives me crazy to have a dirty car. My new mats hook in to the floor to keep them from being pushed up as you get in and out. I also have a mat for the cargo area which will allow me to take Annie in it. I'm looking forward to her first ride in Dory. She's going to love it. Another great surprise gift was a really nice nike sweatshirt from my little brother. I had been eye-balling it when we were shopping but decided I couldn't justify spending the money. After I walked away he bought it for me!

When we got home I went out to the barn with Tarra. I wasn't feeling that motivated but it was still nice to be out at the barn with the horses. Chevy had swollen hind legs, with his right hind being quite a bit worse than the left hind. Horses were inside today so some of it might be him being stocked up, but apparently he also got in to a kicking match with another gelding he is turned out with. That happened yesterday, so I'm thinking he's sore from that. He's a little bit off but not bad. I put standing wraps on him for the night and we'll see how he looks tomorrow. Tarra let me hop on Mystic pony and I got to jump him for the first time. He is so easy! I love it.


Chemo round #3 starts tomorrow. Hopefully it goes smoothly. I have been feeling great the last week or so. Yesterday was a super busy day, with a 3+ mile walk with my dog and my mom, followed by a hour and a half trail ride, then an afternoon playing with my friends adorable baby girl.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Chevy decorated for our annual Christmas Eve Trail ride

The 2 cute Christmas ponies

They both had cute bows in their tails. 

Enjoying our time on the trails



Chevy being a dork

Merry Christmas from Chevy and I

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Spurs

Chevy and I tried out a new training tool tonight, spurs. So far so good. I did start our ride by lunging him which I know helps us out. I didn't lunge him on Friday night and he was SO lazy I could hardly stand it. Hopefully the lunging will make him more obedient, along with making our rides more productive. He had to work hard tonight because he was being spooky at one end of the arena so I spent the majority of our time lunging at that end. He was full of himself and was huffing and puffing by the time I decided he was ready to ride.

He gets very offended by the whip so I wasn't sure if I would get the same reaction from the spurs. I could feel him respond to them, but he wasn't mad about it. It made me asking him move off the leg easier and it also seemed to help with our forward as well. He was forward and in front of my leg from the very beginning of our ride, and his poll was up. Usually when he's behind my leg and being lazy his tendency is to drop his poll and hang on me a little bit. It's not horrible but I could really feel that he was engaged tonight, and with his motor working it was lifting his front end up.

His canter transitions are something that give me trouble just about every other day. Sometimes he goes when asked and sometimes we have engine failure. I told him tonight that I am all done with those bad canter transitions. When I ask him to go, he needs to go, period. Our first transition tonight was bad but all of the rest were fairly obedient. I've been wanting to add in walk to canter transitions with him but he's normally so dull that I knew there wouldn't be any way we would get them. We tried a few each direction tonight and he really did pretty good. A few trot steps to start, but not too shabby. I think they will only help improve not only his canter but the transitions themselves. When we finished I stopped him and gave him lots of pats and praise. Maybe one day he will realize that forward is what I'm looking for.

He's becoming more fun to ride as we continue to install "buttons." His leg yields are coming along, we are starting to get a trot lengthening, and he is becoming more adjustable in general. We are getting closer to having a first level horse! April is going to hop on him soon and see what she thinks of his training progress.

Tomorrow we are heading out on our annual Christmas ever trail ride with Tarra and Mystic. The weather is supposed to be decent and I should have some cute photos to share. I'm sure the boys will enjoy getting out of the arena.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Key

Like most people with a new horse, I’m always trying to figure out what makes Chevy tick. Although I have had him for almost 6 months, our time together has been sporadic and I don’t feel like I have him figured out. He can be so lazy and argumentative, and yet when I get him working I feel like he is very capable. I’ve played with being tough on him, and using the whip despite the fact that he really dislikes it. Although he has gotten significantly better about it, if you really swat him with it he protests by sucking back and making mad faces. I’ve found that it is actually very counterproductive to me getting anything done on him. That leaves me trying to find creative ways to get him to respond appropriately. At this point, he does respond to a flick of the whip, but I have also been using my voice. Obviously that’s not an ideal aid when riding a dressage horse but I feel like if I can install some concepts that way and then phase out his vocal cues we will be better off than him throwing a fit over getting spanked. I’m also hoping to find my little nubby spurs soon to give them a try. It might be just the encouragement he needs.

Tuesday night I opted to put him on the lunge line prior to my ride. After having such a good lunge session last week I think I need to utilize this tool more. He was energetic and forward pretty much right from the start on the lunge line, and he even played a little bit. I think lunging should be work time, and I generally don’t use it to just let them blow off steam, but, I did like seeing him be energetic and happy. After about 20 minutes of lunging I hopped on to a warmed up/revved up Chevy. My ride was short and sweet, with him listening and happily moving forward. One of these days I’m going to teach this horse that forward is SO much easier for both of us! For now, I think I will incorporate a lunge warm up with our ride and we’ll see where that takes us. It’s nice to be able to get him going without making it in to a fight between us.

I have recently added walking leg yields down the wall, into our work, and he is making quick progress on those. The first day he really didn’t think he was able to do that, but with encouragement and consistency he seems to be understanding what I’m looking for and he’s getting better about them. I’m hopeful that I can show him First Level this spring so we need to get on those leg yields and lengthenings.

Last night it was super stormy again, and horses had been in for the day. I threw him on the lunge line for a few minutes before hopping and it did seem to help. I didn't get him working as well as I did the previous day, but he was still more forward once I got on. We are making progress! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Downhill from Here

Well if chemo 2 holds true to the patterns of chemo 1 it should be all downhill from here, until round 3 on the 26th. The first 3 days seem to be the hardest, with the 2nd day really being the tough one. Although, I did SO much better this time around. I went in to work on Thursday morning and so many people commented that I looked way better than the first day last time. Most people said I had color in my face and that I didn't look nearly as sleepy. I finally told my co-worker that I must have looked really bad and she said "Oh sweetie, you looked like you had been drug through a knot hole backwards." She made me crack up, but obviously I really looked as bad as I felt for round one. My nausea was so much better this time around. When I went in to Thursday for my Neulasta shot I asked if they gave me different pre-meds, but they didn't change anything. The only 2 things I can think of would be 1) my body just knows how to deal with it better this time around, 2) the ginger that I have been taking really made a difference. I've taken a lot less of my nausea meds this time around, and besides Friday, I have been pretty happy to eat.

Thursday, after my shot, I rode Chevy. He was a little bit spooky and hard to get focused but I was also feeling kind of tired, so we had a short ride since I ran out of energy. Friday, after a nap, I took Roz for a walk in his new hoof boots, to break them in. He was very good, despite blustery weather, and the neighbors dog trying to chase us. After walking him, I headed up to NDF to work Chevy. I opted for lunging him due to my low energy level and we had our best lunge session ever. He was very forward and obedient.

In other news, I'm finally bald. I had been losing huge amounts of hair the last few days in the shower. After my shower yesterday you could really see that I was losing hair and I had bald sections so my mom cut my hair really short. Now I look like a skunk because I have bald white patches and still some areas of dark hair. It was actually really sad but I'm okay now.  At least I don't have chunks of hair falling out all over anymore. I'm thinking God's job just got a little easier knowing the hairs on my head.

Lukes 12:4-7 I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for 2 pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chemo #2

Despite today being chemo #2 I had a really good day. I got to spend 3 hours with my best friend, Tarra. I got to see my grandparents and my sister in law too. When I got to the oncology office they drew blood first to see how I'm doing. When my doctor came in the room she told me that my labs are perfect!!! I was SO excited to hear that. My doctor was really impressed, and said she rarely sees people that are not under going chemo with lab results like that. My body is doing a great job. Now it just needs to keep it up. Getting all of my drugs went fine. The Cytoxan gives me a really weird pressure/tingling/headache across my nose and on a couple of spots on my head. I get about 1/2 way through it before I start feeling it. It's a yucky feeling but bearable. I sucked on ice cubes during the administration of the Adriamycin as that is supposed to help with mouth sores. When I got done, in about 4 hours, I went to work out at Curves with me mom. I use Curves Smart which is a computerized personal trainer. My Performance Index or PI increased by 10 today, which is the most it has ever gone up. I worked out hard to meet my goals, and at the end of my workout I had met all of them for the day. It was probably my best/hardest work out yet!

Then we ran around town a little bit, before I headed to the barn to ride Chevy. He was a good boy and it was nice to finish the day on him. Now I'm feeling a bit tired out, although thankfully hardly nauseous. They increased the nausea meds that I am getting because I threw up once last time. The doctor said that I do not need to be doing that, so hopefully the increased dosage does the trick. Although, while they were telling my about the increased dosage they also told me it may give me a headache, so I can take ibuprofen for that. If it's not one thing it's another! Ugh. A friend of mine recently attended a seminar on integrated oncology and one of the things she learned is that ginger is supposed to stop cancer caused nausea. I started taking it a couple of days ago and I will be delighted if it works! So far so good...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pulling My Hair Out

Quite literally, I'm pulling my hair out. It started coming out yesterday and has gotten even worse today. It will be interesting to see how long it takes before all of it is gone. I will probably have my mom cut it shorter this weekend. It's such a weird thing to be able to very gently pull out clumps of hair! It definitely brings a new understanding to the phrase "pulling your hair out."

After my great ride on Chevy Friday he had bent and messed up one of his shoes on Saturday. I pulled it off and attempted to ride him. He was taking a funny step here and there so I opted to quit while I was ahead. He got his shoes re-set today and we got a decent ride in tonight.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Pony Expressions Photography

I'm starting a photography business! It's something that several people have encouraged me to do over the last year or so. I really love taking pictures and rarely go far with out my camera. I never go to a horse event with out it! I love capturing that perfect shot.  If your are in the Willamette Valley area and need an equestrian photographer contact me.
You can check us out on Facebook. Pony Expressions Photography

I had a fantastic ride on Chevy last night! He was forward and worked really well for me. We practiced our leg yields and played with lengthening the trot. He was prompt with his canter transitions and was really tuned in. It was definitely our best ride yet! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hoof Boots

Rozzy Ridge got hoof boots today! I was thinking in the last couple of days that I should explore hoof boots for him so that we could do some trail riding this spring and summer. I already have plans to take him to the beach, where he should be fine with out boots since the footing is so soft. Most of the "trails" around our house are actually gravel logging roads of the research forest that is owned by OSU. It's a ton of land to ride on but not that friendly for a flat footed wimpy barefoot thoroughbred. I don't really want to shoe him if I can help it but wanted to be able to ride him a little bit. When I got to NDF tonight one of my fellow boarders was out there, and I knew she had purchased a pair of boots for her horse. I asked her about them and she offered to let me try them as she doesn't need them anymore. They have hardly been used and she offered them to me at a great buy. I tried them on Roz tonight and they fit! I'm so excited to put them on and take him for a ride. They are the Cavallo sport boots, and they have the gel pad inserts and the pastern wrap. They are SO much easier than the "easy" boot that I have. After deciding that they fit I took him for a walk on our gravel drive way and he seemed totally comfortable. I'm going to have to take him on a longer walk to get the mail or something, a few times, to break them in before hitting the trails. Does anyone else use hoof boots?


I had a great ride on Chevy tonight. He started off super lazy (like normal) but I actually got him going pretty well. I'm still playing with what works best for him. He really dislikes the whip so often times it's counter productive to swat him with it, as he sucks back worse after getting spanked. If you use it lightly it seems to work okay, and tonight I was using my voice a little more with him and he seemed to respond well to that.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Way Better

I'm back in action and feeling so much better! I actually didn't nap at all on Saturday or Sunday and by Monday I was able to make it through a full day at work. I had my last expansion appointment with the plastic surgeon and now I get a break until my actual implant surgery, a month or two after I finish chemo. My appetite has finally returned and it has been so nice to be excited to eat again. I'm hoping that chemo round 2 goes more easily than round 1. Regardless I should be feeling good again by Christmas. That's a plus!

Chevy came home on Saturday and he is so happy! He really really likes his home at NDF. I rode him last night and tonight he got a beauty treatment. We will get back to work tomorrow night. It feels good to be getting back into my routine.