Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Dusk Ride 10/6/15

Shar and I were planning to ride this evening.  Our first evening ride of the season.  Only a few more weeks of being able to start out while there's still some light out and progress into dark instead of tacking up in the dark!  Shar's working in Bend now, and even though I live in Bend, I work in Redmond, closer to her house than where she works.  So I beat her there, and got both Arya and Flash out and tied them to the trailer.  I picked out Arya's feet, and she was a little better about picking them up than the last couple times (after an emergency fill-in farrier bribed her with carrots to hold still, rather than smacking her for stomping her foot down).  I moved over to Flash, and marveled at how tiny his feet are, and how easy they are to deal with, both because they're smaller and lighter, and because he *gasp* actually holds his own feet up for you, so you aren't holding the weight of them.  Moved to the second foot, and Uh Oh!  There was a nail sticking out of his foot.  Ugh.  Snapped a photo for Shar:

I've since learned after the fact that I probably should have left the nail there until she got home, so she'd have the chance to decide whether to take X-rays with the nail in place, in order to see what structures it had hit in the hoof.  Big oops on my part, but I'm not sure whether she would have opted for that.  Ugh.  Plus keeping the nail in there right up until the moment of soaking it probably would have been better for avoiding infection, too.  But in the moment, the first thought I had (after snapping the photo) was to get the nail out.  So I did.  And took another picture, first of the hoof, then of the nail:

Probably a half inch of the nail was in his hoof.  Hopefully not enough to do major damage, but only time will tell at this point, since we lost the chance to x-ray it.

I finished picking his hooves, brushed both horses, and fly sprayed them both.  I was just starting to put Arya's reflective safety gear on for the night ride when Shar got home.  She came out and hadn't seen my messages or photos yet, but I filled her in and she took a look.  Her first inclination was to ride him anyway to get the blood pumping OUT to prevent infection getting IN, but she called and left a voicemail for her/our vet to check on Flash's tetanus status and get her opinion on what she should do.  Her second inclination, after seeing him possibly maybe limping the tiniest bit when she trotted him, was to ride Dalai instead.

The vet called back, and the shots we gave in the spring included tetanus, so that was one worry eliminated, at least, but the vet had some scary news--if the nail had penetrated the area where the coffin bone is, it could be BAD.  No way to know now, since I'd pulled the nail.  Ugh.  But Shar definitely needed to soak the foot for a while with salts, and then bandage it up with some antibiotic stuff to try to keep infection at bay for the next few days.

So I was on my own for a ride.  I mounted up and worked on the standing still concept.  She actually did really great--made one move like she wanted to walk, but I don't think her hooves actually moved.  We stood for a full minute or so.

I knew we wouldn't get too far before dark, and didn't want to ride solo in the dark-dark, but I was hoping to at least make it around the block.  But Arya had other ideas.  She was doing her usual drunken sailor walk away from home, pretending with each tiny correction of the reins that the cue meant she should turn 180 degrees and head back home, indeedy it did.  Yeah right.  So she bounced between the reins and my legs, meandering down the road, getting slower and slower the further we got from home.  I did a couple circles, very lopsided.  Ugh.  Then she started balking so much she was actually BACKING toward home.  Oh no you di-in't.  So we circled a ton.  And we trotted away from home.  And we walked CALMLY toward home, or circled if she started rushing toward home.  Yeah.  A LOT of circles.  And eventually they got more even, and walking toward home got less rushed.  She was never very enthusiastic about heading away from home, but two out of three ain't too bad.  She did get a little obnoxious with head tossing and such, making me a tiny bit concerned about bucking or whatever, but she of course never did, and I'm sure was never actually THAT close to doing so.  Just my paranoid tendencies.  But I didn't give up or get off or let her get away with it, so that's a win at least, right?

We moseyed our way back home, making LOTS of circles, and also heading away from home some of the time, too.  Eventually the circles got more even and circular, and she wasn't as deseperate to get home when we were pointed that way, so I started letting her walk out a while toward home before asking for another circle (instead of the ride being a total series of circles).  We got back to the driveway, and of course she pulled in that direction, but we moseyed past it with a purpose, and I asked her to trot away from home in THAT direction.  Then circles, then walk past the driveway again, then trot away from home again.  Etc. and so on.  We went back and forth past the driveway at least 10 times, maybe more, until she finally was merely gravitating in that direction instead of actively pulling, and it was nearly dark.  I rode her into the arena and circled it once in each direction, then we went around the back side of the barn, around the circular drive, past the trailer full of railroad ties, and back toward Shar.  We stopped, but I didn't get off.  We stood still, we backed up, and we tried doing a little sidepassing.

Then I tied her to the trailer, where she stood very nicely while I helped Shar doctor Flash's foot.  He'd been standing with his food in a bucket of saltwater for a while, and now it was time to bandage it up.  Shar ended up deciding on using one baby diaper (perfect because of the padding and absorption, plus the fact that you can use the built-in fasteners to secure it around the hoof while you work on getting the duct tape or vet wrap ready, instead of having to hold it to the hoof yourself), soaking it with betadine, then using a multi-layer duct tape "hoof boot" to protect the bottom, and wrapping the top part with vet wrap.  It probably wasn't pretty, but it got the job done.  It took me a while to prep the "hoof boot" (multiple strips of duct tape layered on each other in one direction, then multiple strips in the other direction, lather rinse repeat, so you end up with LOTS of layers on the bottom of the hoof, plus the overhang on the four sides to wrap up the sides of the hoof), then Shar got it secured on his hoof, then we both worked to get him set up in a stall for the night with some hay and water.  More to keep the wear on the "hoof boot" minimal than to keep him immobile--a little walking around is probably good for him and his hoof and his legs, but not so good if the bandage comes off or wears through and he gets infected in the puncture wound.

So.  That was a bit of an adventure, but hopefully Flash will be be fine, though he probably gets a few weeks of vacation.  And hopefully Arya learned something over the course of the evening, too, both the riding and the standing around after, and arriving home not being an immediate reward of rolling and eating.  :-)  Shar and Dalai are going out of town this coming weekend, but it sounds like Julie and I will be riding together.  Yay!  I need mine and Arya's solo adventures to be short and sweet still, I think, so it's good to have a buddy to ride with in order to actually have FUN.  :-)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Trucking Edition, Part XXV

I am posting stories from my job, because I think they're funny.  I've done my best to disguise my company name, even the industry, and to keep the people I write about and even some details of the situation anonymous.  If you know me, and know where I work, please don't include details in your comments.  I'll have to delete your comment and reconsider posting these stories.

A driver showed up with an empty trailer (yay!) to pick up a load.  We instructed him to drop the empty trailer in the rows of empty trailers out front, any spot was fine as long as it didn't block the flow of traffic, then he should hook onto the loaded trailer and head to the scale.  Well.  He was out there a very long time.  A very, very long time.  We could see him pulling forward, then back, then forward, then back, over and over and over.  Executing a 387-point turn to park the thing, apparently.  At one point, one of our employees (who drives the trailers all around our lot to put them on the loading docks then park them for later pickup, etc.) offered to back it in for him, but the driver wanted to do it.  Yikes.  Isn't backing a trailer into tricky spots (not that this spot was particularly tricky, and the driver had his pick of a few empty spots) part of getting a CDL?  And shouldn't it be part of getting hired to a trucking company as well?  After all, you'll be driving around THEIR equipment, and they don't want you damaging it OR taking up precious time trying to park.

The guy was seriously on the lot for two full hours, for what normally takes a driver 20 minutes or do (drop empty, hook onto loaded, drive over scale, come in for paperwork).  I hope they don't try to charge us detention!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Part XXV

I am posting stories from my job, because I think they're funny.  I've done my best to disguise my company name, even the industry, and to keep the people I write about and even some details of the situation anonymous.  If you know me, and know where I work, please don't include details in your comments.  I'll have to delete your comment and reconsider posting these stories.

Matching up someone's resume with the real life experience of having them as an employee can sometimes be amusing.  

30-something-year-old employee whose mommy drove him to work and whose daddy quit on his behalf because the work was too hard (and probably because he wouldn't pass the drug test) after less than six hours of TOTAL employment with us:  

"seeking long term employment"  

Employee who, after one day of work, wanted to file a workers comp claim that we very strongly suspect was bogus:

"Dependable, motivated, hard worker" and "respectful to supervisors" and "shows strong work ethic."

Employee who quit at beginning of what would have been his second day of work because he got his old job back (hey, at least he let us know he was quitting, unlike the first two cowards): 

"demonstrated ability to be dependable" and "enthusiastic employee."  

(Though again, six jobs listed on the resume of a guy that seemed to be fairly young, without any dates listed, should have been our first clue.  We just can't afford to turn folks away who appear to have a pulse when we're desperate for workers.)

We've also posted a white-collar job recently, and received a few interesting resumes in response.  A couple in particular tickled my funny bone, though.

The e-mail the resume was attached to said that the applicant had so much experience "it would fill a book," then attached a resume that was VERY skimpy.  Seriously, not including the contact information at the top, it has 14 lines of text, three of which are references.  There is a "skills and abilities" section that list a few things that almost anyone could truthfully list, without any information to back it up such as what the applicant accomplished in the past.  There is ONE job listed with NO information as to what was accomplished except "all aspect [sic] of online marketing."  There's an education section that just says the applicant graduated high school 30+ years ago.  There are two, count 'em TWO, strengths listed:  comfortable chatting with others, and highly adaptable to situations.  There is one "leadership role" of head deacon at a church.  And there are three references, as I said earlier--two are from church.  Yeah, thanks but no thanks.

At the other end of the spectrum, we received an e-mail that, when printed, was two pages, and it had an attachment--a four-page resume.  Three pages were basically walls of text (with a couple of headings to list the job titles), followed by the fourth page that was nothing except "references available upon request."  So way to go at pagination AND editing down to what's most important to convey.

Luckily, we received one resume that was perfect--seriously, we probably couldn't have asked for a better candidate if we'd ordered one custom, and she's working out great.  So yay!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ride with Shar plus Bonus "Solo" Ride

First ride since Arya's colic episode.  It's been five days since the day she spent at the clinic, and the vet said as long as we took it easy, she should be good to go, so it was time.

I tacked up, and nearly forgot to do our round pen session, but Shar reminded me, so I quickly took her there and did a few rounds.  She did awesome--moved off with just a point and cluck, even trotting without me explicitly asking.  She was a little clingy--tried to move in for a head rub before I told her she could.  But hey we got close while she was sick.  :-)

I had butterflies driving out there and tacking up, but then I nearly always do.  Ugh.  Strange how the butterflies go away once I actually get on, though.  Mounted up and practiced standing still a bit then taking a few steps and stopping again without actually heading out.

We headed down the driveway, and I did one circle to "check in" with Arya, but she was doing great.  We did a few more as we rode away from home but didn't really need them.  She was on her best (though slowest) behavior.

We headed down the road, then onto a singletrack trail I don't think we'd done before (shortcut between two roads we have ridden on before).  As we approached a spot where there were some boards laid out in a rectangle and a couple other angles, her attention was totally focused on those boards.  She was probably thinking, "Please mom, don't make me walk over those.  You know I trip.  You know I don't like stuff like that."  Then a jackrabbit popped out of a bush right near us, and her ears flicked toward it and she flinched briefly, then her attention went right back to the scary boards.  And you know what?  I DID make her walk over them.  Ha!  (She did fine.)

We walked and trotted, mostly walking.  At one point, I was trotting her along a singletrack beside the road, and she tripped pretty hard (though not as hard as the time I came off!), and she really didn't want to get going again after.  She was VERY pokey at the walk.  She's clumsy on a good day but I think her feet are getting long...time to schedule a farrier appointment!

At one point we lost the trail and were going cross-country.  Not usually a big problem here in the desert, but we were crossing a field of lava rocks.  Arya's not the most nimble on a good day (doesn't help that her feet are HUGE, so find every rock out there!), and now her feet are too long, and she was really not happy.  Never really tripped, though--at least it made her watch where she was walking, unlike the nicer trails!

We turned for home, and she perked up a bit.  We did a few bouts of trotting, and I wondered aloud to Shar when I should start the "no trotting zone" as we got closer to home.  She suggested a spot a little further along than I would have thought, but I played it by ear and Arya was being TOTALLY responsive and slowing when asked (if not before--she is so lazy!), so we went for it.  And she did great!  So then we walked the rest of the way home, and I checked in with her at a few intersections, especially when she started initiating the turn before I asked her to, but she went rather willingly.  However, I didn't want her getting too complacent, so we took the "long" way home (only a tad longer than the other route, really).  She gravitated only the slightest bit toward the normal way home, and went perfectly willingly when I asked her to go straight instead.  What a good girl!  Of course, we WERE still headed home, and I'm sure she knew that, but not via the quickest route, so she's still a good girl.

We were having such a good ride that I decided to press my luck.  In hindsight, it might not have been the smartest move, but I suggested to Shar that she and Flash just head home when we got to the intersection, and I'd take Arya a little further and do some circles if necessary, in order to work our way up to a true solo ride.  It probably would have been better to go with my other idea, which would be for me and Arya to head out first and then get joined by her buddy shortly after, but oh well.

So as we approached the intersection, I just kept my entire focus straight ahead, on the stop sign way in the distance.  She got a bit more squirrely as we went along, so I rode for a little bit longer to make sure she was actually moving in a more-or-less forward direction when I turned her around toward home.  She started jigging and tossing her head and really really wanted to bolt for home and her buddy.  This is where I realized I was asking too much all at once--heading away from home AND her buddy at the end of a ride.  Oops.  But now that I'd done it, I had to stick with it.

I circled her.  She was NOT a fan, tossing her head and trying to head straight for home instead.  But I channeled Celena (and Shar), and thrust my boobs out, shoulders back, and looked ahead instead of at Arya's head.  Each circle brought us closer to home, because she was stretching out the side toward home and compressing the far side (pretty much pivoting on a couple of them), but I ignored that and focused on staying calm and just asking for circle after circle until they became softer and more even.  And they eventually did.  We did a couple circles each direction right near the intersection where Flash had left us, and she did great, so we headed back down the road toward home.  It's probably less than a quarter mile.  We did a couple more circles, then passed the driveway, circled again circled right in front of the driveway, and even halted right in front of the driveway.  This last stretch, she was still very forward and ready to go home, but she was compliant (and pliable), so that was fine.  We walked up the driveway, halted, then proceeded to go around the circular drive again, then over toward the wash rack.  I was still mounted.  Don't want her thinking we always have the same routine of pulling in the driveway and me hopping off in the same spot.  :-)

So, all's well that ends well, and I'm really proud of both of us for sticking with it and making it home not just safely, but hopefully with a little helpful experience under both our belts.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

First Emergency Vet Visit for Arya

I've taken Cookie (my kitty) to the emergency vet twice now, both times for bladder infection, but this was a first for me--a horse emergency.

Shar messaged me on FB (the best way to get ahold of me during the workday, as I'll probably see it blinking on the taskbar, but keep my phone on silent and often face down or in my pocket), simply "call me."  Hmmm...I'd just added on to a comment she wrote in a group we both belong to, but didn't see what could have ticked her off about that.  I was on the phone at the time, so messaged her back to say so, but then stepped outside (what the boss does for personal calls, and when in Rome...) to call her back as soon as I could.  She said something was not right with my horse, and she was going out to catch her.  Uh oh.  She said she was rolling a lot.  (Later, she described exactly what made her decide something was not right--two other horses were getting rambunctious with each other, and Arya stepped into the middle of the fray, but then instead of joining the "fun," she laid down in the middle of it and rolled around.  Yeah, that's not quite like her, much as she likes a good roll after getting all hot and sweaty.)

Yesterday after our ride, I'd noticed a huge hard lump on her back, right under the saddle pad, that felt like a huge annoying bug bite.  So I asked if she was just rolling around like she was enjoying a good itch-scratching, or rolling around like colic.  Like colic, she said.  Shit.  She said she'd check her out and get back to me.

Side note here for the non-horsie folks:  Colic is just a catch-all term that means tummyache.  It can be a relatively mild tummyache, or it can be fatal, or it can be anywhere in between (and potentially remedied with anywhere from "wait and see" to minor therapies to expensive surgery).  Horses can't throw up, so even a mild tummy upset can be painful with no relief in sight, but they can also get bowel impactions at the drop of a hat, from sand, parasites, something non-food they ate, or even just hay or grass packing into a corner of their intestines.  However, even the mildest cases CAN turn much more serious, especially if a section of the intestines twists internally, which will quickly turn fatal as things back up behind it, if the twisted gut dying doesn't kill the horse first.

Shar took a few minutes to listen for gut sounds (minimal, means she's not currently digesting food, and since her normal is to be constantly eating, that's a clear sign she's not feeling well, at the least) and see if she would eat, which she refused, which REALLY meant she wasn't feeling well.


I warned work that I might need to leave soon, and wrapped up a couple things I'd been working on.  Sure enough, Shar messaged that it sure looked like colic to her.  I finished up at work and left.  As I was pulling out, I wondered to myself whether Shar already had banamine (the drug of choice for pain relief with colic) and called her.  She didn't have any, so I said I'd call and/or drop by the vet clinic we both use to get some, since I'd be passing nearly right by it on my way to her place.

I called and asked for our vet if she was in, otherwise whoever could help with a colicking horse.  They didn't have a vet available right then, but put me through to a vet tech.  I was still on the phone with her (she was taking my info) when I arrived at the clinic, so I told her I was in the lobby and she [so rudely! ;-)] hung up on me and came out to meet me.  We talked about options.  There was a vet on call that was currently seeing a patient, then could leave and drive out to Shar's and charge a farm call on top of the other charges that would accrue.  Or if Arya could be hauled to the clinic, she could be seen sooner, since we'd get the timeslot right after the appointment, with the "travel time" being done by the horse while the vet was busy, instead of by the vet AFTER the other patient, plus it would cost me less money.  Hmm...  Called Shar to see if she could haul Arya.  With very little hesitation, and really only to ask if I thought they'd be able to do the health certificate and Coggins for Goodwin to travel down to California in a couple weeks, she agreed.  The tech wasn't sure about the paperwork, but figured probably so, and I figured it wouldn't hurt for Arya to have a buddy for both emotional support and literal support so she couldn't attempt to drop and roll in the trailer while tied by the halter, creating a bigger problem.  So she said she'd load them both up and get there as quickly as she could.  I asked if I should come there to help, and she said no need (both horses are good at loading in normal circumstances, and it doesn't sound like they gave her any trouble this time, either).

So I filled out a form and then just had to sit and wait for her to arrive.  I posted to Facebook, then read some on Facebook, but mostly sat and worried.  I realized I had shoes in my car (as opposed to the sandals I was currently wearing), so I changed into those.  But mostly just sat and worried.

They finally arrived and the staff noticed her pulling in and showed me where to go to get out back.  Shar unloaded Goodwin and tied him to the trailer, and I unloaded Arya.  She clearly was not feeling well but willingly got off the trailer and walked across the asphalt toward the clinic barn.  She balked a little as we approached the rubber mats, but stepped onto them.  When I asked her to step in between the narrow rails of the stocks, she was less impressed, but still did so more or less willingly.  However, once she was standing still there, she thought she might like to lay down and roll, so she got kind of squirmy for a bit, but eventually settled down for the most part.  I rubbed her head.  She mostly held it really low and droopy so at one point I was braiding her forelock and rubbing the top of her head between her ears instead of rubbing the front of her face like she usually likes.

Poor, sad pony.  :-(

The poor girl was clearly not feeling well.  I mean first of all her just walking relatively willingly into a strange situation was one clue.  But her body was droopy yet tense, if that makes sense.  Her eyes looked worried and her breathing was fast.  Poor girlie.  I loved on her while Shar and the vet tech did the initial paperwork for Goodwin (names and addresses of where he was starting and where he was heading).

Soon enough, the vet arrived.  He was GREAT.  Introduced himself, and not only explained what the different things he proposed was going to cost, but what exactly he'd be doing, and even involved me (and Shar) in them.  He showed us how to take a Arya's pulse under her jaw, and complimented Shar when she said she'd assessed the gut sounds the same as he was.

Now that he'd assessed her while she was un-medicated, the first priority was to relieve her pain.  This obviously makes her more comfortable, but it's my understanding it can sometimes actually relieve the actual colic problem, if it's minor enough, as the pain relief allows the intestines to relax and get things flowing again.  He gave her some banamine intravenously and it definitely hit her very quickly--she visibly relaxed and quit squirming around, wishing she could roll.  Her eyes still had a few worry wrinkles, but not as bad as before.

SOP is to do a manual exam rectally to feel around and also take some samples to test for parasites and sand.  He said she didn't have much poop back there, so did, indeed, seem to be stopped up somewhere.  He asked when her last heat cycle was and how it was, and Shar and I looked at each other and laughed.  This is the LEAST mare-ish mare we know--she never shows signs of being in heat.  He said her left ovary was "huge."  (I later asked him to clarify, and he meant huge but normal, like it had been very active, but not problematic.)

The tech took the poop off to check for parasites and sand, and he readied a bucket of water and a very long tube.  Poor Arya.  The tube got shoved up her nose until it reached the junction of the trachea and esophagus, and the doctor had to find just the right pipe at just the right time so Arya would swallow it into her esophagus instead of it passing (easily) into her windpipe.  Definitely don't want to pour water into her lungs!  It eventually got into the right spot, but Arya did NOT appreciate the insertion into her nose or the passing into her esophagus.  Once it was safely in her esophagus, though, the vet BLEW into the other end of the tube, with his MOUTH!  Ew!  But it made passing the tube easier, as it opened up her esophagus just in front of the tube, instead of just plowing ahead with the blunt object.  Once it was all the way into her stomach, he had me hold the tube onto the pump, and he started pumping water into her.  Looked like a two-gallon bucket, or so, and he emptied the entire thing into her tummy.  After the water was fully inside the horse instead of outside, he took the tube off the pump and lowered the end to see how much would reflux back out.  He wasn't super explicit about it, but I gathered that it was a little more than he'd like to see, but not worryingly so.  So that's good, I guess?

So at this point, she's had painkillers and a BIG drink of water.  If she just had mild impaction, the drugs were hopefully relaxing her intestinal walls a little, and the water was going to soften up a bolus of hay, if there was one.  So the vet suggested we take her outside to some grass to see if she was interested in eating now, and he'd go get the results from the fecal testing.

We took her out to a grass paddock, and she put her head down, sniffed, and nibbled.  Not a huge excited bite like would be her normal reaction, but a small nibble.  Then she lifted her head back up and just contemplated life.  Uh oh.  Normally she'd be attacking that grass with gusto.  Hmm...  But then she put her head down and tackled the arduous task of eating.  Not with as much gusto as if it was long lush grass, but this was short grass with dead grass clippings all over it, so who could blame her.  But she ate without stopping, so that was MUCH more like the Arya I know and love.  :-)

The vet came out with the results, and she had zero parasites so complimented Shar on her worming regimen, and had very little sand--her main food source is hay in a feeder without sand, but she's a mustang--she grazes on ANY weeds in her pasture, no matter how prickly, so it's only natural she'd ingest a little sand, and the vet said it was a normal amount, so not likely to be sand colic (blockage of the intestine with a big old lump of sand).  She also was clearly feeling better from the banamine, which helps relieve the pain of mild colic, but won't touch serious "surgery cases" of colic, so these were all good signs pointing toward it being just a small blockage of a clump of hay, or just some mild cramping or something.

We left Arya outside grazing while we went inside to settle our respective bills (mine was just a LITTLE larger than Shar's, I'm sure) and get some oral banamine to take home in case she wasn't 100% better when the IV dose wore off in the morning.  The vet recommended that she spend the night on green grass (less likely to pack down in her gut than dry hay, plus inherent moisture as well), so Shar said she could get her set up in the back yard, which is a small fenced area with plenty of green grass.  I asked if we should wait for her to poop before hauling her home, and he said it might be a while based on what he felt (and removed), so to just go ahead and take her home.

So we did.  Shar and I scooped poop out of the backyard, both canine just for sanitary reasons and equine so we'd know what was Arya's in the morning, set her up with access to water, and turned her loose.  She was still feeling better, and was interested in eating, but instead of eating the nice long lush green grass that covers most of the yard:

She either wanted to be near Flash and Goodwin, or just prefers the dry scratchy stuff more:

I stuck around for a while to watch her eat, then headed back toward home.  I stopped at my usual Mexican place for dinner and downed a plate of nachos (I hadn't had lunch), then headed home.  I'd barely settled in to watching a TV show and typing this post, when my phone rang.  It was Shar.  Arya was rolling again and once again refusing to eat.  Poop.  [No pun intended]

She was walking Arya and it was going to take me the better part of an hour to get there, but if I was going to be there all night and going straight to work once I could, I figured I'd better have it take me the full hour to get there by packing a few things and making sure the cats were fed and such before I headed out.  I also had the foresight to grab a warm hat and a couple layers of jackets (sweatshirt plus shell).  It sprinkled as I drove, and I really hoped it didn't rain if I was out in the weather with Arya all night.

So, the common belief is that you shouldn't let a colicking horse lay down, 'cause then it will roll.  And you shouldn't let it roll because it can cause intestinal torsion (twisting).  So Shar had been walking Arya all around the property.  When I got there, they stopped, of course, to talk to me, and I figured I'd should get Shar's help while she was still up, so she held Arya while I filled a water bucket (Shar had already brought a wheelbarrow full of hay out to where it would be accessible).  Arya wasn't currently trying to roll, but sometimes walking can help move things along, so I took over and started walking her in circles and Shar went inside.  It was after 10, so it wasn't very many laps before I saw the living room lights go out.

Guys, walking in circles in the dark (well, the front porch lights and the barn lights were on, so it wasn't pitch black or anything) is BORING.  I did a few laps around the circle drive, then figured if I was going to be walking a bunch, I should track it on Endomondo so I turned that on.  Then figured maybe I should listen to a podcast.  That didn't work too well, though, because the WiFi was spotty (especially as I got farther away from the house), and the sound of Arya's feet crunching on the gravel kind of drowned it out anyway (I didn't have earbuds with me).  Every other lap or so, I'd stop by the food and water to see if she would eat or drink.  Sometimes she would put her nose to the hay as if to acknowledge that yeah, that's normally what she'd do, but she just wasn't feeling it.  She wasn't the slightest bit interested in water.  However, I noticed that when we were standing there, she didn't really try to roll, just stood there quietly, with her head hanging.  So on the next lap around, I grabbed a camping chair and set it up near the food and water and just sat with her.

Sure enough, she didn't try to roll. I sat in the chair and did some google research on colic, and she hung her head in my lap, acting every bit the same way a sick kiddo does.  I could just about hear her saying "mama, I don't feel good."  I rubbed her face periodically, and when I stopped, she kind of nudged me to ask me to keep going.  I could feel her breath on my skin.  She was breathing about as fast as me, and sighing pretty hard with each breath.  Poor girl.

As I googled, I learned that apparently current thinking is that laying down is fine, and even rolling a bit isn't likely to cause the horse to twist its gut--the thinking is now that horses that roll violently have ALREADY twisted their gut and are rolling in an attempt to relieve the pain, and not that the rolling causes the twisting.  However, you shouldn't allow a horse to roll violently, as they're likely to hurt themselves or others, since they're not paying attention to their surroundings when they do.  And the articles I was reading were also saying that while walking while waiting for a vet to arrive in the next hour or so is good (it distracts horse and handler, and may get things moving in the gut), it doesn't make sense to walk a horse for hours and hours and hours, as it will just get more and more tired.

And Arya definitely acted tired.  Her head was hanging, her eyes were drooping.  Horses normally take short naps standing up periodically throughout the day, and they also need to rest laying down at least a few times a week, though it's not necessary for them to do that every day.  Arya probably hadn't had a chance for even a standing nap all day or night, because Shar caught the initial colic symptoms in the early afternoon, then we took her to the clinic, then we turned her loose for a bit, but then Shar caught more colic symptoms just a few hours later, and we'd been walking her ever since.  So I decided to just hang out for a while to see how she did.

It didn't look like she was napping quite as deeply as a completely unperturbed horse might, but at least she was able to rest somewhat.  However, I started getting cold, just sitting still like that.  So I got up and walked a couple circles.  Arya tried to roll, but I made her get back up.  Then remembered the articles, and decided that next time, I'd watch to see if she was trying to roll a bunch, or just wanted to lay down for a bit, and let her lay down if she stayed relatively quiet doing so.  Sure enough, a little while later, she dropped down (right in Shar's flowerbed--sorry!!).  She stayed upright on her chest instead of flopping over on her side, so I just let her rest.  Like when she was "snuggling" me while I was sitting in the chair earlier, it was kind of cool how she wanted to be close to me, but sad that it's because she was hurting, I was touched that she allowed me to hang out so close to her while she was laying down and vulnerable, but sorry it was because she wasn't feeling good.  Her legs were pointed toward the driveway, and I didn't want to be near them if she did flop over and start rolling, so I stayed near her head but hopefully where she wouldn't fling her front legs into me if she decided to stand up, either.  I rubbed her head a bit, but mostly just stood out of the way.  She laid like that for a few minutes, then flopped over like she was going to roll, and of course was smashing the bushes as it was, so I got her up.

We alternated between resting and walking (for warmth) before I had the bright idea to continue resting while ALSO staying warm by using my car.  I turned the car on, turned the lights off, and ran the heat.  I opened the window so I could hold onto the rope through it, and Arya kind of stuck her head in the car, too (she probably liked the warmth as much as I did!).  That worked for a while, till she started pawing like she was going to drop down.  Even if it's okay for her to lay down and/or roll, I didn't want her hooves hitting my car, or her body trapping me in (yes, I COULD crawl out a different door, but didn't want to have to try), so I quickly got out of the car and got her moving again.

It was getting close to the time when the vet said I could give her the oral banamine, and I was counting the minutes.  She'd pooped once while Shar was walking her and twice more while I was with her, but still hadn't eaten or drank all night since Shar started walking her earlier.  Ugh.  I walked her in circles to kill time, and she pooped again, but only a couple pellets instead of the usual quantity.  Uh oh.  I was tired of waiting, so administered the banamine 10 minutes early or so.  I tied her head really close to the trailer so she wouldn't be able to fling it up or to the side very far, stuck the syringe in, and plunged.  She accepted the syringe, but when the medicine came out, wasn't too thrilled.  A tiny bit fell on the ground, so I moved the stopper a notch and gave her a tiny bit more, just to be sure she got the full dose.  I led her over to the water, hoping that whatever the medicine tasted like, it made her want to drink.  Nope.

I'd kind of started thinking to myself how I saw the rest of the night going, in order to figure out what I should do.  I mean clearly, if things went really downhill, I'd call the clinic and treat it as an emergency.  But we weren't to that stage.  If things went super well and she all of a sudden started to seem 100% better, though, I still wouldn't have felt comfortable putting her back in the back yard and just going to bed in Shar's guest room, let alone leaving to go home.  What if she went downhill again?  What if she rolled and hurt herself?  So yeah, I knew I was gonna be sticking around all night and had to keep her safe.  She seemed moderately comfortable now, especially with the new dose of pain meds on board.  So I tried tying her to the trailer (again, fairly short so she couldn't get her head down in order to lay down or roll) so she could nap standing up, and I could maybe eventually nap, too.

I tied her up, put a fleece blanket on her, and moved my car to where the driver's window had the perfect line of sight to her, but wasn't close enough to annoy her (or blow exhaust fumes on her).  I laid the seat back enough that with my head turned toward the window, I could still see over the sill to check on her.  I turned the car on and ran the heat for a while to warm it up (and charge my phone), and set the alarm for 10 minutes.  I kept opening my eyes to check on her, so I didn't fall asleep the first couple sessions, and she pawed at the trailer a couple times, so I hopped out of the car and ran to scold her from doing that and check her.  But she seemed to be doing fine, and cocked a leg and started to just stand there quietly, so I started actually dozing off.  And then I started setting the alarm for longer and longer intervals.  Oh, and I had the window rolled down a couple inches so I didn't have to just SEE her, but could even hear if she started getting antsy.

After I turned the car off, it started getting colder and colder.  I grabbed the quilt off the bed in the guest room (and used the bathroom!), and returned to the car.  Eventually, it was 3:00 a.m. and she had been standing quietly without incident for a long time, so I decided to go in the house and get some rest in a more comfortable position.  :-)

Except then Goodwin was hollering, and every time any horse made noise (the house is basically surrounded by horses), I'd get up and check on Arya.  I had to walk to the kitchen to be able to see her, but with the barn lights shining on her, I had a great view, and she was always standing quietly, exactly as she had been before.  She was NOT the one causing any ruckuses.  So eventually I fell asleep.  Then the alarm would go off and I'd check her, and go back to sleep.  Apparently Shar got up a couple times during the intervals I was sleeping, and moved Goodwin to the arena one of those times because he was so annoying.  At some point the sprinkler went off by timer, and they were hitting a metal shed and making a racket, but they didn't keep me awake for long.

So I got a few hours of unbroken sleep, but by 6:00, it was getting light and my mind was reeling anyway, so I got up and went out to tend to Arya.  I tried to take her temperature, but she was clamping her tail down and I didn't want to hurt her, so I quickly gave up on that.  She was, if anything, COOL to the touch, so I wasn't too worried about a fever.  I listened to her heart.  Normally, I can't even FIND her heart beat if she's standing quietly.  It's really hard to hear and I have to dig around in her armpit with my stethoscope.  Now it was clear as a bell, and almost as fast as my second hand was ticking.  I counted 14 beats in 15 seconds, 56 bpm.  Not good.  I've pulsed horses coming in after 25-50 miles with lower pulse rates than that, and she'd been standing still for HOURS.  I listened to her gut sounds.  I'd actually never done that before (BAD horse owner and potential endurance rider!), so I didn't know exactly where to put the stethoscope for the exact "quadrants," but didn't hear any sounds at all on the first side I listened to, and only faint noises on the second side, which sounded more like gas moving around than liquid gurgles, but what do I know?

It was starting to get light out, and the sunrise was really pretty, though I didn't appreciate it much right then.  :-)

When I had her fleece blanket off to use the stethoscope all over

I put a heavier winter blanket on over the thin fleece she was wearing, so I could hopefully tell the difference between shivering and trembling.  She was shaking a bit, but I wasn't sure. if it was just the cold.  Note the distinct lack of any poo piles or pee stains on the ground in that photo.  She hadn't pooped since midnight, and hadn't peed since I took over at 10:00 p.m.

Her attitude was perkier in the morning than it had been throughout the night--her eyes were a bit brighter.  I took her over to the food and water, and she buried her nose in the hay.  I assumed she was just smelling it like she had before, but she actually started nosing around in it like she wanted to eat it.  She stuck her nose all the way to the bottom and found the little bits of alfalfa under the grass hay and started eating it.  Oh, you want alfalfa?  I'll give you some!  I went and grabbed a handful from the barn and gave it to her.  It was pretty dry and stemmy, though, so I didn't want her eating a ton of it without drinking some water to wash it down and moisten it in her gut.  But she refused to drink.  I took her over to the grass to see if she'd eat that.

She stuck her nose down and sniffed, but decided she'd rather have hay.  Sheesh.  I didn't want her eating much solid food until she proved she would drink.  What could I do to get her to drink?  I took some feed pellets, put them in a thin layer at the bottom of a feed pan and added a couple inches of water.  These pellets break down REALLY fast, so a couple of sloshes, and I was looking at a very wet slurry that would hopefully be appetizing to her.  Oh, yeah, she was interested alright.  But I quickly realized she wasn't actually DRINKING the water.  She was trying to EAT the pellets, even though they'd long since broken down into tiny particles in the water.  She would slosh the water around and even tipped it off the edge of the fender a bit in order to make a "dry" spot on the bottom, then nibble there, trying to get solid food, but not wanting to take in any of the liquid.  Ugh.

By then, Shar was up and I told her what was going on.  She agreed with me that she had enough bad symptoms and not enough good symptoms (wanting to eat, without wanting to drink, still wasn't all that GOOD) that we should probably take her back to the vet.  Yeah, I suppose someone braver than me might wait it out a bit longer, but I didn't want to take any chances.  I called my boss to let him know I'd be late, then called the clinic.  It took a couple of tries to get through (the answering service seemed to hang up on me, then I didn't get through to ANYone), but it was still well before their opening time when a real live person answered at the clinic.

I explained the symptoms, and they said the doctor wasn't in quite yet, but that we could go ahead and plan to bring her in, but they'd have him call when he got in.  Sure enough, he called me back soon after, and I told him the symptoms.  He agreed that we should bring her in, and without me even asking, started giving the potential prognoses, treatments, and prices.  He said we could simply give her fluids by tube again.  If she seemed bad enough, he'd want to do IV fluids, which would mean staying there all day, and potentially a cost of around $1,000.  (!!!)  If it was bad enough, we'd have to start discussing surgery, and he'd have to refer us to a different clinic, and it could cost as much as $10,000.  I don't have that kind of money laying around, and would have to think LONG and hard about spending that kind of money on a horse that could theoretically be replaced for much less, so I really really hoped it didn't come to that.

So, we (me still in the same clothes I'd now been wearing for 24 hours straight, unshowered, and barely slept) loaded Arya into the trailer, and I followed Shar in my car to the clinic.  We unloaded her, offered her a little grass while we waited for the to open the horse exam/treatment area, then put her back in the same spot she'd been before.

The doctor gave her a once-over, checking her pulse and gut sounds.  He came up with a slightly lower pulse rate than I did, but still high.  She wasn't trembling as bad, so maybe that had been more about being cold than being in pain.  He listened to her gut sounds and rated them better than I had--apparently even good gut sounds are quieter than I was expecting, so hers weren't AS bad as I'd thought (he had me listen, too, right after he did, on both sides--he was really great at helping me know what I should and shouldn't be perceiving for normal vs. sick horse).  Before I even asked that we do it this way, he suggested giving just tubing her again a try first before moving onto IV hydration.  Whew!  So he and the tech prepared the water + electrolytes, it took a moment to successfully place the tube, then the pumped a couple gallons down her gullet.  They didn't even use a twitch on her nose this time, and she wasn't THRILLED, but she cooperated much better than I would have in the same situation!  This time, not a single drop refluxed back out, so maybe she doesn't actually have any issue with reflux at all.

The doc said he'd hold off on giving her any more drugs just yet, and see how she did.  So we turned her out onto the grassy paddock and they said they'd keep an eye on her and let me know how it went.

I drove Shar back to her house so she'd have a car to drive (and not have to drive the truck and trailer all the way to work), then headed in to work about an hour and a half late.  Oh, and we stopped to get coffee, as both of us had had very little sleep.

At lunchtime, I grabbed coffee (again!) and some food, then went to the clinic to check on Arya.  She had clearly been pacing, on the side of her paddock toward the trailer (as in, "take me HOME!").  She hadn't drank much, if anything, but she'd had a VERY BIG drink only a few hours earlier, so that didn't worry me.  I couldn't tell if she'd eaten, because it was grass, but the staff said she was doing great.  The vet came out and said he hadn't had to give her any drugs, so she was au naturale in that department by this point, and still feeling pretty chipper.  I apologized for her tearing up their grassy paddock, and he was like "yeah, about that..." and asked if we could move her to a sandy paddock.  Um, yeah, it's your place!  So we set her up with a water bucket a couple paddocks over, and he filled it ALL the way to the top so we'd know if she drank any the rest of the day, and I said I'd be back to check on her at the end of the workday.

The grassy paddock she tore up--it WAS all grass.  Oops!

I took this picture to show Shar--her flanks had been all tense and kind of quivering with her breathing before.  They were smooth and normal now.

Here she is, settled in to the new, sandy paddock.  They gave her some nice hay to munch, and she dove in with gusto.
I left work a little early to be able to get to the clinic before they closed.  The doc was away, but the tech was there to tell me she'd been doing great.  I could also see for myself that she'd drank some water, peed at least once (possibly more but trampled the spot), and pooped a couple times in her new pen, where she'd been for around 4 hours.  Yay!  She'd also worn quite a ditch into the side of THAT pen nearest the trailer.  She really REALLY wanted to go home.

Poo pile, plus hole to China

When I walked away from the pen after initially saying hi to Arya, so I could go inside and pay the bill, she nickered loudly (not quite an all-out neigh, but very insistently, not the usual low nickering of "!"  At first I thought she'd missed me that much, but then I realized she was out of hay.  Ha!  I went and grabbed a handful out of the trailer and gave it to her and she attacked it.

I called Shar to tell her we'd be springing Arya, paid my bill (less than the prior day, because she'd needed fewer tests and even fewer treatments) and drove to Shar's house to pick her up.  We loaded Arya up, no problem, and hauled her back home.

I wanted her to be alone for the night, with a bucket of water without an automatic refill so I could make sure she was drinking, so we used one of the paddocks behind the house.  It has quite a bit of green grass in it, but I gave her hay, too, since I was pretty sure she was drinking well.  In fact, before I took her halter off, I led her to the water, and she took a pretty good swig of water right off the bat.  I turned her loose and she went and rolled, but in the usual "ah, this feels good to itch my back" way, and not in a colicky way, and she hopped up after and started grazing.  I gave her some yummy grass hay and went to go watch Shar work with Goodwin for a bit.

Arya making sure the hay didn't escape
I didn't want to leave and head toward home (40-ish minutes away) if she was going to take another downhill turn, so I decided to eat dinner in the area then come back to check on her again before heading home for real.  I decided to put her winter blanket on for the night.  It may not get cold enoug to warrant it under normal circumstances, and definitely not once she's grown her winter coat, but she's still slick for summer AND she's recovering, so I figured it probably wouldn't hurt.

At dinner, I scarfed down an entire veggie burger AND all the fries.  Clearly I'd been stressed before, and having her feeling so much better was a huge relief.  When I got back, the first thing I checked was the water level.  She had drank a TON, in just an hour or so.  A lot more than she drank in four hours at the clinic!  Maybe she likes Shar's well water better than the city water at the clinic.  :-)  I was thrilled to see that!  She'd also eaten most of her hay.  I felt under the blanket to make sure she wasn't too hot (and sweating!), but she was just perfectly cozy.

So, making sure my ringer was on, just in case, I headed home.  My kitties were VERY glad to see me, and it was nice to fall into my own bed.  I'm sure my co-workers appreciated the new change of clothes and showering in between work days as well.  :-)

In the morning, I got up early enough to go check on Arya before work.  She still was perfectly cozy inside her blanket, which I removed.  She'd eaten all her hay, so I gave her more.  She did drink some water, but not as much as she had in the first hour or so of being home, but it was COLD overnight, so I couldn't blame her.  And she DID drink.  But I want to keep an eye on that, so asked Shar to keep her in the same pen the rest of the day so I could check the water level after work to be sure she was drinking well.

I haven't done that check yet, but assuming she's eating and drinking when I do get there tonight, she'll go back to her normal pasture with her normal buddy and the 24/7 supply of hay and water.  I'll probably wait a few days before trying to ride, but hopefully she's back to her normal self again in every way.

So, while some folks might have been willing to wait and see rather than visiting the vet one or both times, I'm happy with my decision (though my bank account might wish I'd decided differently).  I'm inexperienced at this, and would rather over-consult with a vet than under-consult.  I really do feel that the tubing helped, though, and am not sure if/when she would have drank on her own.

I DEFINITELY appreciate having a friend who keeps an eye on my horse and acts quickly when she doesn't seem quite right.  And is willing to haul her into town TWICE.  And hand-walk her while waiting for me to arrive.  And and and....  Shar has been a HUGE help through all of this, and she blows off my thanks as if she did nothing, but even if ALL she did was be the moral support that she has been, it would be more than enough, but she's been so much more.  Really really appreciate it.  And the staff and Redmond Vet Clinic were awesome, too.  This was a minor case and really can't have gone any better, but it was still scary, but working with Shar and the team at the clinic really helped me feel like everything would be okay.  And I'm pretty sure it is.  :-)  (Though I'll feel even safer after checking on her tonight.)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Ride to the River 9/13/15

I'm pretty sure it's been since the 4th of July that I've been on a "real" ride.  I've ridden Arya solo a time or two, which resulted in the lesson where Celena came to Shar's to help us through THAT obstacle, and a few groundwork-only sessions and a "boring" training ride of circles upon circles right near home, but haven't left the property and done a trail ride in FOREVER.  Finally Shar's and my schedules worked out that we could ride, and ride we did.  :-)

We fetched our ponies, and while Shar was tracking Dalai down (she'd already grabbed Arya for me), I took Arya to the round pen.  Her first "go" was awesome--I pointed, she went.  Asked for a trot and got it, had to remind her about "responsibility" a couple time, and had to remind her how the starting is supposed to go, but mostly she did okay.  Not QUITE as good as the last few times, but still PRETTY good.

I tacked her up and tried out a new girth.  My old one had elastic at both ends and this one doesn't, so it took a bit of fiddling, and then I had Shar tighten it one more hole after I got on.  Not sure if I'll like this one better than the old one.  Also intended to buy a longer one and it turns out this one is shorter (possibly just due to the elastic making the old one stretchy and the new one isn't), so it's kind of a pain to have to put it on the first holes, then adjust on both sides.  Oh well.

So yeah, got situated including slathering on sunscreen, then hopped on.  Worked on standing still a moment, though we then walked over to Shar for the aforementioned girth adjustment.  But both Shar and I want to work on that with our ponies, so there was a bit of standing, stretching, and backing before we set off for real.

I knew I needed/wanted to work on the stuff Celena had taught us for this trail ride, and Celena always stresses the importance of having every ride be a training ride and not just plodding down the trail without the horse OR human having to think, but I also didn't want to put in 5 miles of circling on the first mile of "trail," either.  So I decided the plan would be to check in with Arya every so often by doing a circle.  If she was nice and soft and even (not stalling out when headed away from home or rushing when headed toward home, or cutting through the circle, etc.), we'd do just that one circle, then continue on for quite a while before checking in again.  Of course, if she did prove to need the exercises, we'd do a lot more circles, which would suck for all five of us (me and Arya, Shar and Dalai, plus Noelle the dog).  Luckily, the first circle we did right near home was PERFECT.  I mean, not perfect as in dressage score perfect, I'm sure.  But she was soft and kept the same pace throughout.  Go, Arya!!  So we both were rewarded by continuing on down the road.

At the first intersection, we did another check in, followed by a pass close to the tires that she'd been skeptical of before.  Perfect again, and didn't even blink at the tires.  Ha.

I was going to circle again at the problem intersection, but the goats were right near the intersection and I wanted to see how she'd do if I pretended it wasn't a trouble spot and just kept going.  She gave the goats her full attention, so whether it was a training thing and she's learning to behave herself, or it was just a matter of "I don't care which direction we go as long as it gets me away from those freakish critters," she plodded right along without putting up a bit of a fuss at the intersection.  Woo hoo!

We did a few passes into and out of the ditch along the next stretch of road, then did some leapfrogging with Dalai (not the distances we've done with Flash, since he's the expert and was helping to train Arya, and now Dalai's the one that needs training with this game), trotting past her, then slowing to let her catch up and pass us, etc.  Shar says Dalai needs work, but she seemed pretty good at it to me.  Of course, I wasn't riding her to see how she FELT.  Arya, for her part, did AWESOME, especially since it's been a while since we played this game.  She got almost imperceptibly slower as we trotted past Dalai the first few times, but after that, not even a problem, as she realized we weren't actually going very far without her.  One time, though, she did reach out to try to bite Dalai's butt, so I made sure to keep our distance from her.  Sheesh--mares.  And of course, lazy Arya didn't mind being passed by Dalai in the slightest.  In fact, sometimes it'd be nice if she felt a little more incentive to keep up with her buddies when we're trotting on the trail, but as soon as she decides she's tired and would rather walk, she's more than happy to let them trot on out ahead.  I mean, overall, that's a good thing, but means *I* have to be the one to keep her going when she feels like slowing down instead of relying on that herd instinct.

Arya led the way down the single track trail that goes downhill and is kind of rocky.  She went ridiculously slowly, though she finally sped up a bit when the trail leveled out and wasn't so rocky.  I was worried she was walking tenderly, but Shar was pretty sure she was just being obnoxious.  :-)

We did some solid trotting on the nice smooth gravel roads, some more leapfrogging, and at one point, Shar and Dalai went over to a single track off the road a ways while Arya and I stayed on the road, and neither horse seemed to mind the slight separation (they were always within sight/sound of each other though).

I took a few photos when we were probably halfway to the river or so:

Hey, a selfie WITH my horse in it that actually worked out!  Bonus that it includes Shar and Dalai, too!

Better one of Shar from the front.  Dalai doesn't look too pleased, though I'm sure she was just flicking her ears back to listen, not 'cause she was pissed.

As we got close to the river, Shar said we'd be doing a small loop, and taking the gravel road to the river, then a trail back up.  Doesn't matter to me--I've never done either.  The road was a long stretch of downhill, and Arya is NOT fast at downhill.  She picks her way along carefully, even when it's easy going, such as this gravel road without any obstacles or anything.  So Dalai kept getting out ahead, and Arya would clearly WANT to catch up, but just couldn't make herself go any faster.  Poor girl.  :-)  But Shar would stop and wait for us every so often, and it was fine.  When we got to a much more gradual but still downhill section, I trotted Arya a few steps at a time.  Eventually, the goal is that she'll be able to trot downhill even when it's mildly steep, as long as the footing allows, so she needs practice in order to get balanced.  Right now, she just needs to be reminded that she CAN trot downhill, as she was very reluctant to even try.  But I don't want to push her, so we'd just go a couple steps, then back to walk.  No biggie.

After that long downhill on the gravel road, we got to do a section of PERFECT trail--wide enough for us to ride abreast most of the time, sandy footing for the horses, but not too deep, and flat and smooth, though it was a very slight downhill.  Just beautiful.  The breeze was blowing her mane so that you could actually see the brand, so I tried to capture it in photos.  Didn't really work.  Oh well.

Didn't get her brand very well, but you can still see the awesome trail.

Artistic selfie, or something?  Love that you can see Shar in the corner.

Again, didn't get her brand at all, but just love her ears-forward "let's go" attitude!

Of course, us humans didn't consider our ride half over yet, as we hadn't reached the river for our little break.  But the horses knew that we'd turned back toward home, and Arya picked up her pace and was more than happy to take the lead now, when she'd been a much more reluctant leader earlier.  However, we then reached a rather steep downhill section with roly-poly rocks about the size of golf balls, plus built-in rock obstacles that didn't move, so she really had to pay attention, and we let Dalai take the lead as incentive to not take FOREVER.  She still went really slowly and Shar and Dalai had to wait for us a bit, but she IS young and green, so hopefully she'll get better and better at these things with more experience.

However, when we got to the bottom of the hill, we reached horsie heaven.  We first rode the girls into the water to offer them a drink.  Neither drank very much, and Arya kept trying to invade Dalai's space, so we headed back to land and I took Arya's bridle off so she could eat, and Shar and I took off our helmets (and me, my safety vest) so we could cool off a bit, too.  I was tempted to take my shoes off and wade in the river, but didn't end up doing it, in the end.

See, horsie heaven!

I held both horses while Shar took Noelle down to the water to rinse off, and it was an arduous task, let me tell you.  The hardest part was periodically taking up the slack in Arya's rope so she wouldn't step on it (Dalai didn't move).  Then I went and found a bush to water, and Shar held both ponies, and actually had to get after Arya for trying to bite Dalai.  Seriously, what a naughty girl.  We sat in the shade and the horses gobbled up the nice green grass...

Then it was time to get going again, headed home.  This would be where normally, Arya would be very excited to be headed home.  Not uncontrollable, but definitely a faster pace at both the walk and trot, eager to get back to her buddies and her food and the safety of home.  But on THIS trail, we had to climb back out of the canyon again, so it didn't quite work out that way.  :-)

We went back up the rocky singletrack again, with Dalai leading again.  Neither horse was very excited about getting home when it involved plodding up a steep rocky trail.  :-)  Then we got to the top of that trail and rode along the wide, flat, sandy trail a bit, and even did some trotting, then it was time to head up, up, up some more, on singletrack again but not so rocky this time.  Though there was a gully that clearly becomes a creek when it rains that had a few rocks and even a log obstacle, which Arya managed to trip over with her fronts AND her back feet.  Fun times!

We had to retrace our steps on the way home, rather than taking a different route to make it more loop-like, because I'd lost my whip somewhere along the way.  (I stuck it down through my bottle holder on the pommel pack, which has a strap across the bottom to keep the bottle in but is otherwise open--I lost one whip when I pulled the bottle out to get a drink and the whip fell down, but thought that was a foolproof place to keep it as long as I didn't mess with the bottle.  Oops.  Guess not.)  So we moseyed along, trotting occasionally, but the girls were TIRED, and leapfrogging some of the time.  But mostly we moseyed.  Shar not only spotted my whip, she hopped off and grabbed it for me!  Aw...  (She does have the shorter horse, but still...)

We took the opportunity to hit the single-track that parallels the road when we got closer to home, and we were moseying along, thinking how good life was, and wasn't it nice to finally get out on a longer ride, and HOW GOOD Arya was behaving today (seriously, she was SO good!), when all of a sudden, she planted her feet and put her head down.  Granted, she'd been trying to eat occasionally, and I've been putting a stop to that as she gets OBNOXIOUS when she eats on the trail (well, she gets more obnoxious after she's eaten and then I make her STOP eating), but I was pretty sure she "just" needed to itch her face on her front leg.  Sometimes that's a tactic she uses to sneak a bite, but she'd been SO good and she WAS hot and sweaty (and dusty), so she probably really was itchy, so I actually allowed her to put her head down and rub.  Except as soon as her head went down, she also dropped to her knees and her hind end dropped, too--she'd decided to ROLL!  Right there on the trail!  With me still on her (as well as the tack, but I was more concerned about ME right then).  My first thought was that I had to get off, and get clear of her "path" if she did roll onto her back and even all the way over.  That would be very dangerous.  Luckily, my feet were now at ground level, so I just popped over onto my right foot.  I think whatever exclamation I made vocally as well as just her own little brain realizing maybe it wasn't quite the right time and place, made her realize she'd been naughty and should rectify it.  So she hopped up, but I hadn't quite gotten my right foot out of the stirrup, so I fell over onto my back, but luckily my foot popped right out of the stirrup.

She trotted over to Dalai and Shar, as if to ask them what's up and pretend like nothing had just happened.  Of course, by the time I got onto my feet and back over to her, it was too late to scold her, but hopefully she realized that was absolutely NOT COOL and doesn't try it again.  But I obviously won't be letting her put her head any lower than her withers for a very long time.

After I "caught" her, I think Shar could read my mind, which was wondering how far I wanted to walk...all the way home?  That was a long way and it was hot out.  But maybe a mile?  Half a mile?  She told me I HAD to get back on.  So I looked around for a rock or a stump, and thought to myself that I could use searching for one to kill a bit of time.  I was physically shaking.  But I decided we'd both be better off if I just got back on right away, and what were the chances she'd pull THAT again?  So I put her down on the trail and stood on a clump of grass, with about two inches of height advantage compared to level ground.  And pulled the saddle right over when I tried to mount.  So Shar hopped off (again!) and held the stirrup on the opposite side while I mounted up.  I did have to kind of haul myself up there, but it worked.

Arya did try to eat again a couple times, but I kept a tight rein on that (literally--didn't ride "on the buckle" with a super-loose rein while we were on the single-track and the eatin' was right next to the trail), and she didn't try it any more.

When it made sense to, I went back to the road (preventing the temptation to eat, and it's probably not as tempting to roll on gravel, either), but Shar and Dalai stayed on the trail, so I got some cute photos of them from a little further away than usual.  Love how the yellow in the bushes complements the yellow in Dalai's tack.

I was starting to get REALLY sore from this first "long" (my endurance friends will laugh!) ride in a long time, and really would have liked to have gotten off for the last mile or so and walked home on foot, but that wouldn't help with reinforcing the good behavior we've worked hard on, so I stayed on as we plodded home.  I circled her every so often as we got closer to home, and she did fine.  Not quite as perfect as when we were leaving, but she was walking calmly home on a loose rein without rushing at all, so she really was being a very good girl.  When we got within shouting distance of home, Emma called for her, and Arya answered back.  She started kind of gravitating toward the pasture, which we were now beside, but a little rein and a little leg kept her walking straight, and her ears weren't pulling her home, either, like they were last time.  :-)  We passed the driveway, circled back, circled again at the driveway, went in, and then stood for a bit before I dismounted.  Whew.  So glad to be out of the saddle--as glad as Arya was to have me out of it, too, I'm sure!

Shar was untacked much faster than me (I'd been desperate to both intake and offload water), and she hosed Dalai off.  They were finishing up as we got over there, and then it was Arya's turn.  I started out like a nice horse owner, wetting down a hoof, then moving up the leg.  At first Arya acted annoyed, and moved her hoof a bit, but as the water hit her skin, she realized that it felt pretty good, and she actually leaned TOWARD the water.  I hosed her off all over, even getting pretty far up her neck.  I held the hose for her to drink out of a little bit.  I even sprayed off her "boobies," and she didn't mind.

Then I let her graze for a few minutes and watched as Shar let Dalai loose in her pasture.  She dropped and rolled, as you would expect a wet horse to do, and then she hopped up and clearly wanted to buck and romp, but then decided she was too tired to bother.  She'd done about half a buck, then just walked off toward the water.

After Arya had grazed for a bit, I put her back in the pasture, still damp.  She didn't even get four steps away from me (and Flash) before she dropped to the ground to finally get that satisfying roll she'd been waiting for!  She didn't even wait to get to a sandy spot--she dropped right in a patch of prickery weeds.  She writhed on one side for a while, grunting and groaning and trying to itch every part of her face, head, neck, side, and back on that side.  Then she rolled over, still grunting of course, and repeated the process of trying to itch ALL the spots on that side.  Then she hopped up and moseyed over to the water.  She's too lazy to do much bucking at all in the pasture.  :-)

Richard had let Shar know that he wouldn't be home for dinner, so we decided to head down to the bar/restaurant down in the gorge of Crooked River Ranch.  Hot burgers (veggie for me) and cold drinks sure hit the spot after a hot day of riding!  I'd finished my water bottles about a half mile from home, so when I got back, I refilled and drank both of them again, drank from the hose while I was hosing Arya off, then drank a couple glasses of water at the restaurant as well, and was STILL thirsty when I got home.  I need to bring more water bottles even on these relatively short rides, apparently.

After we got back, when I was about to head home, I noticed a visitor.  Shar told me that they were actually welcoming her, since she looked like she could use a few calories.  She was grazing their nice green lawn, but we also gave her a few horse treats in a feed pan:

She was very curious, very appreciative, and not very shy at all.  I mean, she probably wouldn't have let us pet her, but she did let us get pretty close.

So other than the 30 seconds of freaky behavior, Arya was SO GOOD, and we had a wonderful time getting sunburned and sore.  Yes, sore.  Apparently it's been way too long since I've ridden.  Not only are my muscles sore, which doesn't surprise me, but my BUTT is sore.  I haven't had THAT happen since I was much younger and only got to ride sporadically.  Weird!  Hope it's not a problem with the saddle, and is just a function of how long it's been since I've ridden for more than an hour at a time.  I've ridden longer rides (this was 10 miles), but this was the longest one in quite a while.

But yes, all in all, it was a VERY good day, with a good friend and a couple good horses.  I SO needed that.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Trucking Edition, Part XXIV

I am posting stories from my job, because I think they're funny.  I've done my best to disguise my company name, even the industry, and to keep the people I write about and even some details of the situation anonymous.  If you know me, and know where I work, please don't include details in your comments.  I'll have to delete your comment and reconsider posting these stories.

A driver arrived to pick up a load that was set to deliver two days later at 7:00 a.m., but he asked if he could deliver it the next day, a day early.  No, we told him, they wouldn't have the people to unload it if he arrived early.  He needed to arrive when it was scheduled, at 7:00 a.m. the day after.  He asked if he could at least arrive early and spend the night on the property.  We verified with the customer that that was okay, and they said yes, they have room for him to park the rig, and then he'd be right there when they opened, so that would be great.

On the delivery day, the customer called us at 8:00 a.m. to ask where his delivery was.  Um, the driver didn't arrive early?  Nope, he hadn't arrived at all.  We called the trucking company to ask where the load was, and they tracked it down and said the driver didn't want to wait, so he'd dropped the trailer off at one of their transfer facilities for someone else to deal with (they can do that?!?!).  So the trucking company sent someone out to pick it up and deliver it, but the truck broke down on the way.  (Or so they say.)

So, because one guy was in such a hurry to get on with his life, rather than do his JOB as it was assigned to him, our customer doesn't have the product they ordered at the time they were supposed to receive it, and will probably have to pay employees to either stay or come back later when the truck finally makes to to their property (some of our loads are not palletized, which means in order to get it unloaded within the two-hour window the trucking company allows, it takes more employees than they might typically have on duty otherwise).  I'm gonna make a wild guess that he doesn't get fired for it, either, since the trucking industry has such a shortage of drivers.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Part XXIV

I am posting stories from my job, because I think they're funny.  I've done my best to disguise my company name, even the industry, and to keep the people I write about and even some details of the situation anonymous.  If you know me, and know where I work, please don't include details in your comments.  I'll have to delete your comment and reconsider posting these stories.

An employee came in and filled out a job application.  He may have ridden with someone else, we don't always pay attention or see how people arrive at the building.  We decided to hire him, so he filled out his new hire paperwork and got to work right on the spot.  (We're weird like that.)

I called to get a drug test scheduled, and they happened to have an opening that very day (doesn't usually happen!).  So I gave him the slip that tells him he has an appointment today, he asked if he could use the phone to call his mom to ask her to give him a ride there, I tell him he'll be paid for the time, but needs to check with his supervisor to see whether they need him to come back after or if he'll be free to go.  All is well.

A car pulls into the parking lot and parks right outside our window.  This is odd, as most of our traffic involves pickups or trailers, so they can buy our product which is sold by the pallet, but this was a mini van.  Finally we realize why the van is there and its driver hasn't come in--it's the employee's mom, waiting to pick him up.  He comes out at about 15 minutes until his appointment, gets in the van, and they drive off.  Awesome.

Until nearly an hour later, when the clinic calls to ask if our employee is planning to come to his drug testing appointment.  Um, he left here with plenty of time to spare...weird!  So I call the number he gave us on his application and other materials.  It appears to be a home phone, for the "Smith residence," rather than a personal cell phone.  Whatever, I leave a message.

Another half hour later or so, I get a call, from the employee's DAD saying he found the work too difficult and won't be coming back.  Oh, and this guy is somewhere around THIRTY.  Not a high-schooler, not a fresh-out-of-highschooler.  THIRTY.

So let's summarize.  30-year-old employee applies and is hired.  Has to ride to and from work with his mommy.  Fails to appear for a drug test.  His daddy calls and tells us the work was just too hard.  Yeah.  Good riddance.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Most. Boring. Trailride. Ever.

Poor Arya.  And even more poor Flash.  Friday, we finally had a plan for Shar and me to ride our respective ponies from home and practice the things I'd learned from Celena on horseback.

We saddled up, and I headed to the round pen.  Arya started moving with just a cluck and a point again, yay!  She stopped with my awkward cue.  Yay!  A couple of prompts took a flick of the whip, and I think it's time for us to work on not just responsibility on technically staying in the GAIT I asked her to, but in maintaining a bit of enthusiasm for the gait.  :-)  She was trotting so slowly a couple of times that she was barely moving.  Ha.  But overall she did well, so I mounted up.

And, in keeping with what would be the theme for the whole ride, Shar and Flash still had to wait a bit (they'd already mounted up while I was in the round pen), because I don't want Arya just moving off the second my butt hits the saddle.  It's only been a few times of really trying to reinforce the concept, and she's doing well--didn't move this time.  But we stayed at the halt for a minute or so, reaching her neck around to both sides, then backing up a step or three before finally setting off.

We reached the end of the driveway, and Arya must've done the mental calculations and realized that when we went right on our last solo ride where she totally took advantage of me, she didn't have to work that hard and convinced me to get off (though we DID work after I got off, but still), and when we turned left the time Celena rode her, she had to do a whole bunch of circles and that really sucked, because she pulled to go right.  So we went left.  Ha!

She was S.L.O.W., but I tried to channel Celena and remember not to micromanage her too much and just accept that she was moving in the direction I asked at the gait I asked for, and not sweat the "small stuff" like actual speed.  Ugh.  We circled back, and of course when she was pointed toward home, she sped up, and when I asked her to continue the circle right on away from home again she felt like she was trudging through molasses.  Which just meant we had to do another circle again soon after.  And again.  Until the circle felt the same throughout.  She also gets really stiff through her body on the side where she's turning toward home, and bends much nicer on the side where she's bending away from home, though you'd think it would be the opposite, if anything.

So we circled repeatedly (with a slight break to head straight, away from home, in between so we didn't get too dizzy) until she felt the same all the way around the circle--same bend, same speed, etc.  Meanwhile, Shar was doing her job, which I'd assigned her before the ride--remind me to breath, remind me to look where I'm going in the circle (instead of at Arya's ears or wherever), and remind me to sit up and lean "back" (really sitting up straight, but it feels to me like I'm leaning back).  Or as Celena and Shar both say to help remind me--BOOBS OUT!

She did PRETTY well after a bit of sluggishness at the idea of leaving home.  We got to the intersection at the end of Shar's road (not the one that was the most problematic on our solo rides) and did a bunch of circles there.  There were some tires stacked up at the end of someone's driveway that she feigned a spook at, so we got a bit closer to them then proceeded to ignore them.

We progressed on down the road toward the problematic intersection.  At one point, a car passed us, then turned into their driveway just ahead of us.  I'd been periodically asking Arya to trot while heading away from home (only away, not toward!), and chose that moment to ask for a trot.  Well, of course it didn't go well, between the car in the driveway and the human emerging from it while it blasted music, the dogs at the home excited to see their humans, plus a horse bucking in the pasture nearby.  Oops.  Shar pointed out that I had terrible timing and needed to remember to set ourselves up for success.  Indeed.

But we circled and/or trotted our way down toward the problem intersection.  When we got there, Shar and Flash just moved off into the grass for snacktime while Arya and I did our thing.  We did many sloppy circles and a couple good ones.  We headed down the road away from home.  I did another circle.  Some goats headed toward us.  Arya was eyeing them.  I did another circle.  Arya eyed them harder, they got a little closer.  I asked for another circle, and Arya was pretty sure she didn't actually care what direction we went anymore, she just wanted to head AWAY from the goats.  Once again, bad timing on my part.  Man, I'm dumb.  So instead we headed forward (away from home) without circling for a bit, until we were past the goats and Arya's had a chance to observe that they weren't going to eat her, THEN we circled.  Again, it took a few tries for her to settle into a nice soft circle, but it was amazing when I could feel the difference between her being all stiff and resistant vs. supple and willing to walk where I asked.

We headed back toward home, but then (SURPRISE!) headed away from home again on a different road.  Circles, circles, circles.  Down and up through a small ditch.  Saw some quail, which freaked Arya out.  She hardly even flinches when rabbits come out of the brush, but the quails were SCARY, apparently.

We got close to our friend Krista's house, and just as I wondered aloud whether she was home, she came out for a little chat.  Arya and Flash both got face rubs.  Flash got some more snacking done (I kept Arya in the middle of the gravel driveway and prevented snacking--I'm mean!) and the "grownups" got to chat for a while.  When we were done chatting, it seemed like as good a time as any to turn around and begin the short, slow journey home.  Lots more circles, a couple "false starts" heading down the wrong way on roads that branched out, etc.  She once again started out all wonky on the circles, really wanting to head home, but we kept working on it until she felt a lot softer and more "even" all the way around.

We breezed past the goats without much incident.  We got past the driveway where the car had been blasting music before without incident.  We spent a little more time investigating the stacked-up tires again (let her look for a few seconds, then asked her to walk past them.  Walked down the road (AWAY from home, even!) to walk past a couple other stacks.  She did fine.  Throughout all this, she was definitely charging toward home and sluggish heading away, but I kept channeling Celena and not worrying about speed as long as she maintained the proper gait, and focused much more on how she was doing in the circles, working on getting nice even circles (not shape--I didn't worry about THAT, just the cadence, speed, and bend in the circles being the same whether we were headed toward or away from home), and rewarding her with a long stretch of walking toward home without nagging when we got a nice circle or two.

Things were going pretty well up through that last intersection before the home stretch, and then she got MORE anxious/excited about going away from or toward home.  We saw some mini donkeys (humans said "Cute!" but Arya said "Scary!") that shook Arya up a bit, and I could tell her little brain was just saying "my friends are at home, these weird-looking critters are weird-looking, why can't we just go HOME already?" and starting to lose mental control.  We did more circles.  I tried to trot her away from home but she was weaving all over the place so as soon as I got ONE stride that seemed to be straight-ish, I went ahead and asked for walk, but kept walking away from home.  LOTS of circles.  Then as we got closer to home, we noticed there was a LOT of traffic.  Not only had a couple of friends come over (each with one truck and trailer, though I think both horses were in one trailer), Holly had gotten Emma out and there was a farrier there trimming her feet.

So now I had a big dilemma.  I didn't want to return to the house right away, while Arya was being so bratty about it especially, but I also didn't want to cause trouble for Holly or her farrier while they had Emma out getting trimmed.  Ugh.  I hollered that I was working my way home slowly, but would do so as quickly as I could.  We didn't do QUITE as many circles as we might have otherwise done, but did pass up the driveway, then do a couple circles right in front of it without entering it, then even pulled into the driveway then back out again, etc., but tried not to drag it out too long.  Emma was doing okay, it looked like, so I thought that was a good compromise.  If Emma had started throwing a fit, I guess I would've had to cut it short and work Arya later or something.  But I think it worked out.  I did think about doing a loop or two around the driveway at home before dismounting, but realized that wouldn't be fair to Emma or her handlers, and just hopped off.

So, Arya did get a bit antsy toward the end of the ride, but I don't know how much of that was her typical barn/buddy sourness, and how much was because of the hubbub going on at home.  But overall it actually went much better than I expected, as our first ride out from home since the lesson with Celena, especially since I hadn't ridden much (at all, I don't think--just groundwork) since the lesson.  She did well overall, losing her brain closest to home, and constantly "asking" whether we could just give up and go home, but always getting compliant again quickly, then proceeding to ask again, and giving in again.  It's like she's a toddler.  :-)  But all in all, I was pretty pleased with both of us.

Question is whether the next step is to do another ride with our babysitter (Shar along mostly to remind me to breathe and look where I'm going instead of slouching, but mainly having another horse along to ease the transition between Celena doing it and me going SOLO) or move to a true solo ride.  First true solo ride will stick very close to home, possibly only going a few hundred feet from the driveway overall, but with LOTS of circles, halts, and trots heading away from home for good measure.   What do you think, readers?  Especially Celena?

And since I didn't take any photos during that ride (riding with both hands the entire time!), here's one from a while ago:

Smith Rock ride back in...June? with Holly and Graham on Ace and Emma, too, though they're not in the photo