Saturday, August 30, 2014

Broken Toes and Training Milestones

Sunday, August 24, 2014
As I begin this post I am sitting with my left foot elevated with a bag of ice sitting across my toes.  This must be how Suki felt when she was in the hospital wearing bags of ice around her ankles.  For Suki it was to prevent laminitis, for me it is to bring the swelling down on my my purple, swollen toes.  And that was how my day started....

While tacking up Nikki for our ride she stepped to the side and, well, onto my foot.  It was a hind foot, and fortunately for me Nikki does not wear back shoes!  It was a full on stand on my foot incident.  Smacking her on the hip to move, I simultaneously moved to the side preparing to yank my foot away when she moved over.  But she didn't move!  As my body was still in motion, down I went onto the floor.  My scream startled Nikki making her move.  It was one of those moments that you are thankful no one else is present to witness your stupidity.  I marched around for a bit muttering obscenities under my breath until the pain subsided a bit then continued getting Nikki ready.  Though I was curious about the state of my toes, I also knew that once I removed that boot I was not going to get it back on!

Lunging was a bit painful so I kept it short.  The footing was lovely as a result of the rainy Saturday so I was not going to pass that up by not riding!  Fortunately the mounting block is high so putting my left foot into the stirrup for mounting was not too painful.  Sure, I could have mounted from the off side, but since I was already a bit off my game that idea seemed unwise.  I gritted my teeth and told Nikki "Don't even THINK of stepping away from this block until I am seated!" She obliged with a furrowed brow.  I think she was quite surprised by my tone!  The ride itself was productive and enjoyable, with posting trot being a bit more painful than sitting, so we stuck to that.  Nikki was good, with nice energy.  Once riding a forgot about the pain except, of course when I came down to the walk.  Then I could feel my toes throbbing and pressure against my boot due to swelling....delightful!  But I was able to do some leg yielding at the trot and a bit of counter bend at the canter, and in spite of the bad start to the morning I was happy with my decision to forge on and ride!

I considered not lunging Suki, but again, the beautiful footing could not be passed by.  The gnats were starting to kick it up a notch, but I was rewarded with some really lovely work by Suki.  She was in a great mood, eagerly approaching her work.  No sign of stiffness or soreness.  In fact, when I asked for the first trot Suki gave a playful head twirl!  Totally worth my own discomfort to watch Suki look happy and full of life.  Sometimes it is hard to imagine those dark early days of recovery.  There are some that still say I should have put her down, but when I see how happy and healthy she is, and the joy that she expresses while working I know it was the right decision.  In fact, I don't think I have ever felt otherwise.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

When I got home and took off my boot, it was not pretty.  I swear I could see my toes becoming bigger before my eyes, and judging by the impressive bruising pattern on two of those toes, something was broken!  Since the typical treatment is taping the toes and resting the foot, I elected not to waste an entire afternoon in an ER or Patients First waiting room.  So here I am after a shower and a few Advil....typing away, foot elevated and bag of ice lying across them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
I had been SO looking forward to this day!  The child got on the school bus for his first day of school at 7:30, so unlike camp days when I didm't get to the barn until after 9 AM, I was on my way at 7:35.  Unfortunately due to my inability to stuff the swollen toes into a suitable boot for riding, I was wearing mockers (which though wide were still CRUNCHING my foot!  I had considered lunging but decided to groom instead.

Suki's skin looks great.  There are occasional surface scratches that appear on Suki's back when she is in her stall without a fly sheet, because she likes to scratch her sides against her water buckets, etc.  This is not a new situation since the fire.  I am sure I have mentioned that Suki has always been an itchy girl!  The exfoliation and moisturizing regimen that I have for her keeps that skin in tip top shape!  It does appear to be pretty tough, but she can also feel flies land on her back so it is not without sensitivity.  Suki's ability to sweat across the back is still a question in my mind, because I have never seen her sweat there.  She sweats normally every where else, including areas where the unusual textured hair grew back, which is quite a large surface.  So, of course, it gives me one more thing to worry about!  Over heating under a fly sheet while in her stall on the hot days.  To remedy that I leave her naked after she comes in from over night turnout and return just before night turnout to put it back on.  I love the days that are not so hot and low in humidity, when Suki can wear the fly sheet in her stall all day, giving me a brea from a return trip.  It's good that I live less than 10 minutes from the farm!  I do occasionally ask someone else to do it if they will be at the barn, which is always appreciated!

The surcingle does not seem to be causing any obvious rubbing on Suki's skin, in spite of slight movement during work.  I am hopefully going to add the side reins this week.  I have been planning to do it for awhile, but the had ground had caused some chipping in Suki's feet, and she does not seem 100% comfortable working in the arena when the footing is harder.  But as the summer draws to a close those situations will improve and I will be able to pick up the training pace again.

I went to Target to pick up a few more supplies for Isaiah.  He receives the list well in advance of the first day, but there are always additions.  Wearing flip flops with my toes taped offered a bit of relief from being squished into a closed shoe.  But alas, a woman charging along with her shopping cart crashed over my foot with the back wheels when she cut her turn around me too close.  I sort of screamed, not a girlie scream, just a low yelp.  She apologized, the said: "But don't you think you are overreacting?!"  I explained my situation and showed her my foot to which she replied: "oh" and walked away!  Yikes!

When I got home I dropped a bottle of water on my foot.  Clearly it was time for me to sit down with my ice and my laptop again!

Today was not a day when Suki could wear her sheet all day in her stall so a return trip was necessary. Much to Isaiah's dismay we did this right after I picked him up at the bus stop.  In my haste to get out of the car quickly the baggie filled with chopped apples opened apples spilling everywhere.  This little bit of information will be critical tomorrow morning....Still in his school uniform he sat on a stool in the barn while I put on Nikki's bell boots and Suki's fly sheet.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

When I opened my car door in the garage this morning I could still smell apples.  I disregarded this the night before, but this morning it was past fragrant and moving on to rotting.  Looking down I saw several pieces of apple which must have fallen down between the seat and the console.  They were difficult to reach, but I managed to get them least the ones I could see!  Time will tell, I guess.  I sincerely hoped this was not the start of a day like yesterday!

As Isaiah boarded the bus this morning the heaviness of the humidity and coming heat of the day was evident even at 7:30.  Still unable to put my foot in a riding boot my bruised and swollen toes were crammed into my wide muckers.  The girls had gone two days without work, so I lunged Nikki for 20 minutes, including some trot and canter poles.  It was already hot, humid and insanely buggy.  While I was hosing Nikki off the nozzle started to leak, spraying me with water and making me as wet as Nikki!  By the time I was finished with her I was covered in dirt from head to toe.  Between, that, the heat, the bugs and my foot, I decided to just groom Suki and do some stretching exercises with her.

Kim was going to be at the barn after 4:30, and she very kindly agreed to put Suki's fly sheet on for turnout, saving me a return trip.  I wanted to wait as long as possible to dress Suki since it was so hot, and my last opportunity without delaying her turnout would be 2:45.  It just seemed way to early to put that fly sheet on!

Thursday, August 28, 2014
Early this morning I tried to put my paddock boot on before selecting my attire for the barn.  When I first woke up my foot felt pretty good, but when my toes touched the tile floor I could feel that my toes were definitely still swollen.  Bruising is improving though!!  The paddock boot was still not happening.  My muckers won't fit in the stirrup and are awkward to ride in.  However, if I cannot get my boot on tomorrow I will just ride without stirrups.  I don't have a problem with that I am just a bit anal about proper attire.  So don't even get me started on the woman who rides in flip flops, short, shorts and bareback without a helmet.....

This morning was a complete turnaround from yesterday!  61F, super low humidity and a WONDERFUL breeze.  Tonight will be in the low 50'sF, so tomorrow should be a fabulous riding morning.  I think I will try my old paddock boots tomorrow.  They have a crack in the ball of the foot are but are wider then my current ones.....

I was originally going to give my foot a rest and not work the girls today.  But when I got out of the car at the barn and felt the lovely breeze, I knew I could not pass up such a day.  Suki walked over to the gate as soon as she saw my car coming down the driveway.  Nikki was not as eager, but as I brought Suki out of the gate she was not far behind.

Nikki started off a little sluggish (party over night in the field??) but once she was presented with trot and canter poles her ears pricked forward and she eagerly approached the work.  I loved the suspension in her trot and the awesome push from behind while maneuvering the canter poles. I may have been hobbling along, but Nikki was going for it!

I did the same work with Suki, and she too, approached the work with good energy and attitude.  While I wanted to add the side reins to the surcingle today but for the first time we do that I would prefer to have two able feet!  She will probably be fine about it, but, well, just in case.  I love how relaxed Suki is when we walk to and from the arena.  Sometimes on the way to the arena there is an eagerness in her step, but it is not a nervous energy.  We had some training ups and downs after Suki turned six, but my dedication to her well being, and commitment to our partnership never wavered.  Life has ups and downs and all relationships experience some difficult patches.  I have always believed in her natural ability, and her courage.  One thing that I learned was that although you are training with an expert whom you respect, sometimes you have to just go with your gut.  That was my mistake, but just before the fire it seemed like all of that was in the past and we were on our way once again.  Life can change in an instant.

Friday, August 29, 2014
Yesterday I was contacted by a well known equestrian publication with regard to Suki's recovery.  The magazine is planning a piece about burn care in horses and would like to include Suki's case.  While speaking with the writer this morning, I was talking about the first time I saw Suki in ICU following the fire.  Although it has been 5 years I STILL cannot describe that moment when I saw Suki, eyes swollen shut, and how she responded to my voice with a nicker, without being brought to tears.  For me it was the defining moment in our journey.  I just wish that I could get through it without crying!

Another lunge day.  Honestly, if I didn't have to get my foot into my fabulous Marc Jacobs platform Mary Janes on Tuesday for a presentation I would have crammed my foot into a riding boot and gotten on with it!  

But in spite of all that my horses bring a smile to my face!

The girls were great.  Temperatures at 51F at the end of August, who can complain!  As lazy as Nikki can be, I think even SHE wants to be ridden!

Saturday, August 30, 2014
Just a grooming day today.  The husband had to go to the office and Isaiah had his riding lesson.  I love watching him mount (from the car because he focuses more when I am not watching).  He seems so comfortable around horses.  Today on our way to his riding lesson he asked me how old he was the first time he sat on a horse.  When he was 3 months old I sat him on Jenny.  Before he was a year old he was "riding" ponies.  At 3 months he attended Devon for the first time (hunter/jumper Devon), followed by the Festival of Champions Dressage in June at 3 1/2 months, Dressage at Devon at 6 months and Radnor Hunt 3 Day event at 7 months.  Before he was one he was grooming Jenny.  Isaiah was thrilled to confirm that he has indeed been raised with horses.  Since I did not ride in my first horse show until I was 15, Isaiah loves to compare his Devon leadline experience at age 2.  Well, that's what happens when you are raised by a horse obsessed Mom!  And I continue to say that even if he does not ride later in life, I will always be comforted by the fact that he at least learned to ride.

Suki and Nikki enjoyed being groomed and having treats.  I waffled for awhile about Suki's fly sheet.  Today was cloudy for the most part but just about the time for them to go out for the night the sun appeared bright and strong.  It isn't really hot so Suki is fine in her fly sheet.

I am pleased with Suki's progress and know that I need to step it up a notch if I am to be riding her by the end of October.  Softer footing and cool moist air will help that and the next few weeks should offer more rapid advancement.  Dreaming of the day when I will sit on her back and pat her neck for her courage and inspiration.

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