Monday, August 31, 2015

Three Years

I think cancer is one thing that unanimously strikes fear in people. Not only do we all know that people die from it, but in my mind I have always associated it with suffering. The definition for suffering is this: "the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship." I'd say that adequately describes a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment. Having cancer has always been something I feared.  And then...three years ago, I received the devastating news that I had breast cancer. What followed was a crazy ride of doctor appointments, screening tests, surgeries, and chemotherapy. 

Not only is cancer a physical battle, it's a mental battle as well. In that case, I'm sure I had it relatively easy since I'm generally a pretty positive person. However, there were many days that I had to talk myself through. One of the most notable times was on a field trip down to the Oregon Horse Center. I was a tag along with Tarra and April, while they schooled the indoor trail course. It was 5 days after my first chemo treatment and I felt like crap. I had been very nauseous after that first one and I remember riding in the truck, chewing gum, and telling myself that I was going to make it. 

Another very distinct memory was probably my 6th chemo treatment. I got to the office before all of my support crew and I remember going in to the chemo room for them to access my port and draw blood. I had this overwhelming sense of dread and I just wanted to cry. Instead, I took a deep breath and started chatting to the nurses, telling myself I was okay and I could do it. I'm telling you, the mental game is real and it can be a struggle. 

Roz and I on the beach two days after I was diagnosed. Equine beach therapy was definitely needed.
That's where your support group is crucial. The amount of love and support I received was immense. Not only was my family with me every step of the way, but so were my church family, co-workers and friends. Thank you! 

My parents were incredible; attending doctor appointments, helping with my horses, assisting with medical bills, and feeding me all sorts of cancer fighting food. 

Last chemo - We had a party! 
Kellie sat with me through all but one of my chemotherapy treatments. We spent hours in that chemo room, while my body was pumped full of cell killing chemicals. After only a few treatments, smelling that room made me nauseous and it was difficult to go back every two weeks. 

 Kellie dreamed with me about having a Cardi baby, and I now have one of my very own.

She is a gift from God!
Tarra encouraged me, brought me brownies, and sat through a chemo treatment with me. She and April both worked Chevy for me. What a gift that was!

Wearing pink in my honor - October 2012
My other barn mates were all supportive, cheering me on, asking how I was doing, and helping me in any way that they could. 

Some experiences in life are difficult but you just have to keep marching through. There are days when you don't think you can go on, but you continue to put one foot in front of the other and eventually you end up on the other side. Although I hope cancer is an experience I never have to go through again, I made it! I'm happy and healthy 3 years post diagnosis, and I'm doing the things I want to do. I gained some serious perspective throughout the ordeal and I'm doing my best to encourage others facing a cancer diagnosis. Enjoy every precious moment you are given...that's what I'm trying to do!

Thursday, August 27, 2015


I don't know about the rest of you, but settling in to the saddle after a busy day is much needed therapy. There's something so relaxing about being out with my horses, forgetting the worry of the day, and getting lost in the nuances of the perfect transition, shoulder in, leg yield (you get the picture). I'm so thankful to have a nice horse ride.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


I don't write much about Roz, mainly because there isn't much to write.  He continues to do a great job babysitting Miss Emi. He's looking pretty decent heading in to winter and I'm happy with where he is at for 23. He and Emi both got a bath on Sunday. When I turned them back out they were being really frisky. Let me tell you, the old man still has some serious spunk!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Saying Goodbye

Today we said goodbye to one of the old horses at our barn. I used to work as a veterinary assistant so I've been involved in numerous euthanasias of dogs and cats, but never a horse. The mare was down when I arrived to help. I held her head lightly, trying to keep her quiet. Prior to going down she had been whinnying, flank watching, and pawing. After going down she had struggled to get up but wasn't able to make it. Right as the vet arrived she lept to her feet...I'm not even kidding. She was sedated and they palpated her rectally, discovering a probable left dorsal displacement.  She had several chronic lameness issues along with being in her mid 20's so surgery was not a reasonable option. After her IV catheter was set, the vet began giving her the euthanasia drugs. The vet made it through 2 large syringes and was part way through the third before the mare fell over sideways. Once she was down she was still. The final portion of the drug was given and they checked her heart before saying they were finished. I wasn't sure what to expect but it was more startling than with the dogs and cats I have assisted with, where they just seemed to go to sleep. Goodbye is never easy, but we were able to end her suffering and she was loved all the way out. Hug your horses today, you never know what day will be their (or our) last.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Always Learning

Tonight I had a first time lesson with a local instructor, KB. I'm friends with a few of her students who have moved up the levels and do well in the show ring. She definitely pegged our weak areas and we have our homework to do until our next lesson. To simplify it, in the trot he needs to bring his head (and withers) up, and in the canter he needs to put his head down and relax across his topline. In our transitions I need to get him rounder and lower than any other time since that's when he wants to pop up. It won't be like that forever, but for now that's where he needs to be. We also need to be working towards more self carriage and I need to give to him more frequently. We've been battling it out recently regarding the connection and although it has been improving I definitely feel like I'm arguing with him way too much. Our ride tonight was quite pleasant and as we worked, I gave to him, and he became lighter. I'm really excited to see the progress he makes as we get more frequent instruction. We also have two more shows that were recently added to our calendar. I can't wait!

Monday, August 17, 2015

2* & 3* at Rebecca Farm

I've been incredibly slow getting these photos up. I had hoped to blog more regularly while we were at Rebecca but it ended up being a total whirlwind. Here are a few photos I got from the 2* and 3* riders on cross country. It was so fun to watch and there were some incredible pairs. There was also quite a bit of trouble that took place on the course. Most of these photos are from the 3rd water complex on the course. We saw many near misses and several riders withdrew after refusals in this area. 

 There had already been one fall at this fence when we arrived to watch. Check out that front leg! 

And the next horse through had the same thing happen. Rumor has it they will not be using that fence next year. For some reason the horses were not having an easy time judging it.

 This flag kept getting knocked down. The jump judge enlisted a volunteer in shorts and flip flops the first time. After that sacrificed her own boots!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Pony Power

Our same trail riding group (with the addition of Tarra) hit a new location today. We ventured to Elijah Bristow State Park, a little over an hour south of us. It turns out, it's literally 5 minutes from where Emi was born. We weren't able to meet up there with her breeder, but I hope to go back at some point to ride the trails with her. 

The crew
 Emi came off of the trailer quietly and happily ate from her hay net while I cleaned her up. Benny was once again being ridden by a friend so I planned to walk the trails with Emi. I expected that she would try to drag me along a little bit, especially when we first got there. In actuality she was really good, and was content to just meander down the trail with me.

The ponies (Mystic and Emi) were generally at the back of the pack but just when we'd be getting a little bit left behind the half arab crew (Benny and Scotty) would encounter something scary. We'd ask if they needed help from a pony and would proceed past them to conquer the scary object (water, bridge, steep bank etc).

Drinking with Scotty. He thought she was cute!
 From the beginning Emi was more settled than last time, and she continued that way through the entire ride/walk. She was eager to play in the water again and happily tromped down the trail behind me....for 7 miles! I was thrilled with her response to the water today. We gained some valuable milage from the water experience last weekend. It's a good thing because an event horse (or a trail horse) has to be willing to go through water.

Where are we?
 Benny was also good, although he was a bit tender footed. He got trimmed yesterday and these trails were slightly rocky. He has nice hooves and front shoes, but he still didn't care for the footing in some places. He was much better with the water today and is proving to be quite a nice trail horse. I'm looking forward to riding him the next time we go out. A beach trip is in his very near future!

We had already been through a few places with water before we came to this final spot. They got out into some pretty deep water and Emi was loving it!

You can see Emi's Facebook page for video
Check out Emi's leg!

This was probably Emi's last trail outing until I'm riding her next summer. The friend who has been riding Benny is currently rehabbing her horse and he should be ready to go on one of our next trips. I'm really glad it has worked out for me to take Emi the past two trips. It has been great experience for her and now she will have a chance to spend more time at home, growing and maturing. It won't be long now and I have no doubt she will be a really fun trail mount next summer!

The best baby girl around!