Life Lessons from A Horse Trainer

May 16, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Posted in Horses, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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An excerpt from a recent conversation with my Dad (insert heavy Massachusetts accent):

“Hi Honey, how ah your hosses?”

“They’re good, Dad, I’m headed to the barn now for a riding lesson.”

“LESSON?! Don’t you know how to ride by now? What was I paying for all those yea-ahs?”

“Yes, Dad, I know how to ride. It’s just that with horses, you never really stop learning. You can always be better – there’s always something more to know or a new method to try. Kind of like life.”

“Huh. I thought you were going to outgrow this hoss thing anyway.”

That got me to thinking about how riding really can be like life. I’ve been working with this great trainer here in Maine – Chris Lombard – and some of the things we’re focusing on translate directly to the rest of my life. A few choice lessons from my recent schooling sessions:

1)      Breathe.

2)      Keep a deep seat.

3)      Feel the motion and go with it.

4)      Keep your eyes up and looking forward to where you are going; don’t look down.

5)      Stay alert for the scary stuff, but don’t let it ruin your ride.

6)      When you sense that things are about to go wrong or get scary, sit deep and relax. Let go of the reins so nobody gets banged in the mouth.

7)      Build partnerships based on mutual trust and understanding.

8)      Keep your hands, voice and demeanor soft, unless you’re about to get kicked.

9)      Appreciate and work with each other’s personalities and quirks.

10)   A little understanding goes a long way.

11)   Treats make everyone smile.

12)   Some of us are in it for the fun, some for the competition, and some for the incessant gathering of knowledge – but we all have to slog through the mud at times to get there.poleWalker

And the most important life/riding lesson of all: keep your HEELS DOWN, or you might get dragged!

xo

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Sweet Honey Pony

April 10, 2013 at 11:35 am | Posted in Honey Pony, Horses, Kids | 7 Comments
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Well, this is a post I didn’t want to have to write so soon.

Our beloved pony, Honey, finally succumbed to the laminitis caused by the Cushing’s Disease, Lyme2011-07-27_16-17-23_828 Disease, and year and a half of neglect she had suffered. My goal when I adopted her was to give her the best retirement I possibly could and to ease any pain she had along the way. We did everything we could for her, but in the end her hoof and joint issues got the best of her and we simply couldn’t ask her to go on.

As every pet owner knows, this is the most difficult aspect of owning (do we really “own” them?) an animal. We almost always outlive them. And it leaves us with this awful responsibility and choice that we must make for our four-legged babies.

Honey was one of those really special ponies you don’t come across too often. Not only was she cute (never met a pony who wasn’t), she was incredibly sweet and willing (met a lot of ponies who weren’t). Oh, she had her moments… a warm summer day when she didn’t really feel like going for a walk and would plant her feet in the ground and let you tug on her head as if she were a 50-ton rock and you were an ant. But if you were patient and gentle and gave her time to think about it, she’d always decide to come with you.

She loved children and would get the sweetest look in her eye when they came around. Every single one of them seemed to fall in love with her, and the girls especially would spend hours braiding her super-thick mane and tail. If I had given them glitter and pink hair dye that pony would have been covered in it.

Roundpen StandingI loved how Honey would throw her scruffy-maned little head up at the sound of my voice or sight of me coming around the corner and shriek that sweet little pony whinny. I guess she had me pegged – carrots and scritches coming up.

So when she didn’t want to get up to eat anymore (although she would take her meal lying down if you put it in front of her) and I had to make the decision to let her go, it really was heart-wrenching. A friend who was trying to comfort me gave me some advice:

“What was Honey’s place in your life?” my friend asked,
“What doors did she open in your heart?
Think about why you two were brought together.”

I had never thought about losing an animal in this light before. Sometimes we think about why certain people come in and out of our lives, but seldom do we think about animals in those terms. Aren’t they just as important to us? Don’t they touch our hearts in the same way?

I thought about it… and I think Honey was brought into my life to remind me what it’s like to love unconditionally in difficult circumstances. Honey was sweet, but she wasn’t an easy pony to keep. She had numerous health issues and needed to be managed very carefully on a day-to-day basis. We were constantly checking and changing her supplement/vitamin/medication intake trying to find just the right balance. She had to be kept off grass and away from regular hay, and sometimes she would have mysterious stomach issues. I’d hoped she could be used as a regular mount for my children – especially Brady, who seemed to be much more grounded and relaxed when riding her. But that only proved to be possible for the first summer she was home. After that she was never consistently sound enough for regular riding. And of course I couldn’t ride her. I’ve always been the type that loves my horses but kind of wants to rush through all the custodial care and get to the riding. The only thing I could do with Honey was take care of her and love her. And somehow, she made this easy. She taught me a lot about patience, kindness and how to deal with chronic pain (I have a bit of that myself). She showed me that sometimes just being present is enough. And that a darling, damaged little body can hold a whole lot of love.

Honey 1So when it came time to let Honey go, I knelt in the thick bed of shavings next to her and put my forehead on hers. I thanked her for all she had done for me and my boys, and I told her the next place she would be going would be free of pain, free of limitations and free of fear. I know she heard me. I’m pretty sure she understood.

You touched everyone you met, little Honey-bear, and we will miss you very much. We’re all thankful for the gifts you gave us and the time we had with you. There will never be another one like you.

xo

P.S. We have now found a way to immortalize Honey by telling her story in a series of children’s books. Go to www.HoneyPonyBooks.com or check out Honey’s FaceBook page.

Saffron Gets A Bad Rap

March 8, 2013 at 8:15 am | Posted in Beauty, Honey Pony, Horses, The Real Housewives | 4 Comments
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A dear friend from down south once told me that the following is a very “Yankee” exchange:photo

Friend: “Ooooo, I love those shoes!”
Me (the Yankee): “Thanks!
(hushed whisper) 9-West. Marden’s Factory Closeout Store. $19.99!!”

Apparently we frugal Yankees are extremely proud of a bargain and not only seek them out, but then proceed to tell everyone who will listen what a steal we got. Apparently this does not happen in other parts of the country. I did notice Lisa Vanderpump giving Kyle Richards the business about showing up to an event in identical shoes and insisting that Kyle must have gotten them “off the sale rack”. Kyle looked none too pleased about this accusation. I would have been like, “Yeah, I did, bitch. Are you really stupid enough to pay full price?” Yankee.

And recently, I read an article about spending habits that put forth the following hypothesis: One’s idea of “expensive” is directly related to the first thing they buy that day. So, if you go online and buy a $200 bathing suit (Ahem, Spanx with tummy control and lots of DD boob lift.), then you’ll think that the $180 pair of jeans they try to sell you at check-out (“People who bought this also bought…” The ultimate keeping-up-with-the-Kardashians/Joneses ploy.) is not really all that expensive after all. But if you pop into T.J. Maxx for a quick browse and stop first at the $5.99 tights rack, well, you might not drop $149.99 on that Michael Kors bag, even if you CAN compare it to the MSRP (that’s Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, for those of you who are not rabid bargain-hunters) of $289.00.

So all this got me thinking about my own spending habits and what I consider expensive. A little look into my spending psyche:

Beauty Bucks

– Getting talked into spending $60 on foundation that is not the right color or texture for your skin by the adorable and heart-breakingly hip make-up store girl with the perfect cats-eye eyeliner = face-too-dark-from-spray-tan-21396414[1]EXPENSIVE

– $20 self-tanners that leave giant brown stains on the couch in the precise shape of your bodacious booty = EXPENSIVE

– Spending just about any amount of money on anything (short of plastic surgery) that will make you look even 5 minutes younger = NOT EXPENSIVE

 

Travel Tariffs

– Spending $65 to have a car service meet you at the airport when you could easily grab a filthy, smelly cab complete with bullet-proof glass between you and the driver into town for $25 = NOT EXPENSIVE

– Thinking those leopard-print spandex pants the cocktail waitresses at the Jungle Bar in Miami Beach are wearing are super-duper cute and rushing right out the next day to buy yourself a pair = EXPENSIVE (I don’t care what they cost. You don’t look like she did in them and you will never, ever wear them out in public when you get home. Let’s just agree that you got caught up in the moment. And the mojitos.)

– Anything you buy at the hotel gift shop, mountainside ski shop, surfside cabana or in-room amenities bar = EXPENSIVE x2

 

Equine Expenses

– Spending $400 on fancy schmancy full-seat breeches that are just going to get dirty the second you put them on anyway (you know your horse is going to rub his snotty nose on them, right?) and probably won’t keep you in the saddle during your new green show mount’s inevitable spook/swerve/buck at the judge’s booth = EXPENSIVE11235[1]

– Spending $60 on a double-hot-pink halter with your cute-as-a-button pony’s name stitched on the nose when a $19.99 one would do the trick just fine = NOT EXPENSIVE

– $5.00/bag for pine shavings that sawmills otherwise consider trash = EXPENSIVE

– $150 for chiropractic work, $80 for acupuncture and a $50 massage (this is for the horse, not you!) so that Lightning won’t flip over on the crossties the next time you slap a saddle on his back = NOT EXPENSIVE

 

Food Fares

– Paying $45 for the most amazing piece of Kobe beef you’ve ever tasted in a charming and elegant restaurant setting without anyone climbing under the table and squirming into your booth because they “need to snuggle you” or standing on their seat to stare at the poor old lady sitting behind you = NOT EXPENSIVE

– Spending $8 on clearly pre-processed meatloaf in a place that is supposed to be making everything from scratch. At least they have microbrews to get you through the meal. But of course they’re out of the one you really like = EXPENSIVE

Best SaffronSo what is truly expensive, anyway? The first time I heard that saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, I thought it must be really outrageous and who in their right mind would pay for it? Then I went to the Hannaford and there it was: $14.99 for a small jar of saffron threads. I mean, I suppose compared to the Cream of Tartar that’s a little steep, but I’m pretty sure it’s cheaper than an organic cucumber. I guess it’s all relative, especially if you’ve just been to the Dollar Store.

So the next time I’m feeling down and need a little treat, I think I’ll go splurge on some saffron and live like the rich people do. Care to join me?

xo

When Did THAT Happen?

February 27, 2013 at 11:24 am | Posted in Horses, Kids, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Lately, I’ve been stumbling across various situations that remind me of my age and stage in life. I wouldn’t call it a mid-life crisis exactly, but I’m definitely in a contemplative mood these days. Here are just a few of the nagging questions that have been on my mind:

When did I go from…

Oh, FX35, how I miss thee...

Oh, FX35, how I miss thee…

Racing around in a hotrod to carting around a carload of kids?

Styling my hair with texturizing mousse to detecting the distinct aroma of Eau de Playdough in it?

Wearing high heels every day to wearing out a pair of sneakers every three months?

Being applauded for increasing clients’ product sales to being reprimanded by a 3-year-old for forgetting to buy applesauce?

MMmmmmm.

MMmmmmm.

Choosing a restaurant for their marvelous martini menu to choosing one based on their mac & cheese magic?

The 5:45 a.m. spin class to the 5:45 a.m. wet-bed-sheet-stripping workout? (The kids’ of course, not mine. I’m not that old yet!)

 

And for that matter, when did I go from…

“I’ll call you when I get there” (from a payphone, which you can’t find anymore) to thinking it’s not ok to leave the house for 10 minutes without a phone? (Remember when phones had cords… and “dialing” actually meant the phone had a dial??)

Being one of that group of girls at the bar (you know, the ones who dance on it) to being one of that group of middle-aged ladies (you know, the ones who are passing around a single pair of

Not actually us (just for the record)

Not actually us (just for the record)

reading glasses because some idiot printed the menu in mouse type and it’s too dimly lit to read anyway. Also, if we don’t get some food to go with these drinks soon there’s going to be some serious heartburn to deal with in the middle of the night. Where are those 12-year-olds who work here, anyway??) Goodbye crazy times…

Sleeping ‘til noon on Sunday to thinking it’s so cool that I can get up at 5:30 before everyone else and get so much done? (Is cleaning the toilets before anyone else is awake really that fulfilling? Maybe it’s the pre-dawn cat-licking [see So Crazy Right Now] that I am attracted to…)

Being a hot mama to having hot flashes?

 

And finally, when did I go from…

Galloping the length of the beach on my hotrod horse to thinking a nice easy trot down a

Going sideways is pretty slow.

Going sideways is pretty slow.

familiar trail (without any bucks or bolts) would be just fine?

Hopping up and riding bareback in from the paddock to carefully picking out the best footing for my 26-year-old gelding while I stumble through snow drifts and glide across glare ice?

20-mile trail rides to 20-minute tail brushing sessions?

 

But most importantly, I’m glad I’ve recently gone from…

Caring so much about products, businesspeople and price points to realizing the only truly important things in life are your babies, your buddies and your boyfriend (otherwise known as my husband!). Let’s try to keep it all in perspective, shall we?

xo

The Perfect Follow-Up

October 3, 2012 at 9:59 am | Posted in Horses, Kids, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Many thanks to my BFF, Paula, who gave me the inspiration for this entry.

We were chatting about how there is a lot of bragging that goes on in FaceBook posts – about people’s lives, kids, jobs, etc. – and noting that the reality is probably much different from the sunny, Wisteria Lane perfection that many people portray. With that in mind, I decided to grab some recent FaceBook posts and take a guess at what the actual event might have been like.

Hope you enjoy this take on perfection…

What the FaceBook post said: “Meet our new puppy, Snuggles! He is the sweetest!”

What really happened: Mom promised the kids a dog if they did the dishes and scrubbed the toilets every night for a month, assuming it would never happen. The little bastards did it, so now she has to make good on her promise. Enter Snuggles, a “Shitz-a-Doodle-Poo-Huahua” (Shih Tzu/Labradoodle/Chihuahua mix) that the kids fell in love with the minute they saw him. This little darling pooped in the cardboard carry-box on the way home (yup, it soaked through the cardboard onto the car’s upholstery), chased the cat into a permanent under-the-bed existence, and is now in the process of chewing up every shoe and table leg it can get its needly little puppy teeth into. But isn’t he just the cutest thing??????

 

What the FaceBook post said: “Great ride on the beach with the horses today. Diablo was feeling so perky for his age! So many people were out enjoying the beautiful Fall day. Maryann, so glad you love the feel of the sun-warmed sand J . What an adventure!”

What really happened: Three horses headed out for a mid-Saturday-morning ride. Diablo, the “perky” one, spent the entire time bouncing, jigging and cantering sideways unless he was allowed to gallop full-speed without stopping. The “many people” included kite-flyers, wind-surfers, and dog-walkers, resulting in complete chaos and spooking the horses at every turn. Spook #53 (one of those front-legs-splayed-out-and-spin-to-the-right kind of shies) unseated Maryann, who got to experience the sand with her cheek. The outing also included being chased into the marshes by an unruly dog and a confrontation with a Port-a-Potty tanker truck. Quite an “adventure”!

 

What the FaceBook post said: “Thanks to the Allens for a great party last night! Can’t wait to do it again!”

What really happened: Do I really need to go here? The Allens are the most annoying people on the block. They are also the richest. The only reason anyone shows up at their “parties” is to eat their high-end steaks and let their kids jump in the rented bouncehouse. This party was particularly entertaining, as Mrs. Allen (20 years her husband’s junior), had a few too many Cosmos and ended up in the pool, rendering her dress completely see-through. That WAS fun!

 

What the FaceBook post said: “Yay Tiger Cubs! Great win today on the pee wee football field – we’re so proud of you!”

What really happened: The team is currently 1-9 (for those of you who don’t follow sports, that’s 1 win, 9 losses). After countless hours of practice in the rainy, muddy, mosquito-infested field (where, of course, Mom’s iPhone gets no reception so she really is reduced to watching), endless piles of filthy, slimy uniform laundry, and limitless complaining about being dragged to games and practice, this poor little motley crew has finally outscored another team. Who cares if it was only because the opposing team’s entire defensive line was out with strep throat? It was still a win! Go Tiger Cubs!

 

What the FaceBook post said: “Just canned 14 pounds of tomatoes and pickled some beets! Next up, gluten-free macaroni, then I’m going to re-tile the bathroom!”

What really happened: All right, let’s face it. This is exactly what happened. And this person is one of those pain-in-the-ass do-it-yourselfers who makes the rest of us look and feel like lazy-ass idiots. YES, her homemade tomato sauce (from canned tomatoes she grew herself) is astoundingly better than yours (maybe you shouldn’t use Ragu as your “base”), and her death-by-chocolate soufflé is to die for. Even more annoying, she cooks and bakes constantly, eats everything in sight, and is STILL skinnier than you. Get over it – some people really are better than us, and they are going to flaunt it forever on FaceBook! Argh!!!!!

xo

Perfection

September 26, 2012 at 10:24 am | Posted in Horses, Kids | 2 Comments
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I’m watching my son try to become “king of the hill” in his karate class. They’re practicing Jujitsu wrestling, so this means he has to find a way to disengage and flip the kid on top of him over, then hold him down for a few seconds. I’m watching calmly, nodding and smiling at Brady and the Sensei, while my inner narrative goes something like this, “Come ON, Brady!! Get him! Just trap that arm – TRAP IT! Now bridge… BRIDGE!! You can flip him! You can win! You can be the best!!!” Meanwhile, I’m talking to a dad standing next to me about how it’s ok for our boys to not do it perfectly, and he’s telling me how hard it is for his wife to watch the class because she gets so frustrated when their son doesn’t do exactly what he’s supposed to do. I share this feeling and cringe inwardly all the time – especially with a child like Brady who doesn’t always go with the flow.

What is all this pressure, desire, demand to be perfect? Where does it come from, and why do we try so hard to achieve it and want it so badly for our kids?

I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist in that down-to-every-last-detail sort of way. That would be my husband. I strive for things to be very well done, but they don’t have to be perfect. Such as, I’ll make the bed because it looks nice and is lovely to slide into at the end of the day, but every sheet corner doesn’t have to be tucked in and the comforter doesn’t have to be flawlessly smooth. Of course, I do feel guilty if the bed isn’t made (bad mother, wife, housekeeper!).

My husband, on the other hand, will not even begin a task unless he can see it through to ultimate completion. Every single tiny cobweb must be off the exterior of the house, every flake of snow removed from the walkway/driveway/deck, every speck of dirt lifted from the interior of his car (Oh, you should SEE his car!! It’s 6 years old with over 100k miles on it and it looks and smells brand new! The man is super-human.).

So what of my boys?

Brady and I see a behavioral therapist once/week who has helped us immensely with his anxiety and other difficult aspects of Asperger’s Syndrome. Her philosophy is “We play games to have fun, not to win. Who cares who wins?” Who cares who wins?? I care!! What is that? It doesn’t matter who wins? Isn’t that half the fun of playing? Winning? And if I teach my kids that it doesn’t matter if you win or lose (I know, I know, ‘it’s how you play the game’ – I agree, that’s important, too), will they be slovenly couch potatoes with no drive? Is this something that comes from personality or programming? So many questions about perfection…

Back in the days when I used to show my horses, I started out wanting to win every class and getting really upset if I didn’t get a trophy or at least place. Over time, I realized that the important thing was that I had the best possible ride. If the judge didn’t see us or didn’t like my horse, I couldn’t really help that. I could only control what and how we did in the ring. But the important distinction here is that I still went in with the intention to win. I trained and practiced and hoped for it. I TRIED to win. And working that hard made me a better rider. What changed was my attitude. I learned to pet my horse on the neck, thank him for the great ride, and smile on my way through the outgate because my equine companion gave me everything I wanted, even if the judge didn’t.

I can see when Brady is practicing karate that he’s a lover, not a fighter. After wrestling for a few minutes, he’ll lie there and pat the kids’ head with whom he’s practicing. I can tell now by the way he glances at me as they play “king of the hill” that he’s trying to win for me, because he knows I want him to, not because he wants to. Maybe he’s just not that competitive. So what I’ve told him is that he doesn’t have to be the best, he just has to give it his best. Try his hardest. I suppose that’s all we can ask from any of us. I’m still going to try to win. But I don’t have to be perfect. And neither do my boys.

xo

Findings

July 20, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Posted in Horses, Kids | 2 Comments
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Only Mothers find…

A dirty Pull-Up wet-side-down on the wood floor.

Silly putty entangled in the new faux-fur throw.

Apples with one bite taken out of them.

Blocks piled high on a sleeping cat.

Half-full sippy cups from two months ago hidden way, way under the couch.

Random crayoned signs prohibiting one thing/person or another taped to the wall with purple duct tape. The really sticky kind.

Slimy black banana peels on the new silk ottoman.

Pine needles in the bathtub.

Upturned Hippity-Hops with cheese mashed into the bottom.

Perfect face-prints on the French doors.

Tiny cars in their bed.

Tiny men in the couch.

Applesauce in their hair.

Only horse-owners find…

Horse hair in their underwear (I have no idea how it gets in there??).

A petrified carrot in the pocket of last year’s winter coat.

Purple stains on their hands and shoes (hoof meds).

Bits of shavings in the clothes closet.

A curry comb under the car seat.

Show programs from 1985 stashed away in a big ol’ box of forgotten ribbons. (Someday I’ll find an acceptable way to display them…)


Only Mainers find…

Loon sh-t on the windshield.

Moose sh-t on the highway.

Deer sh-t in the garden.

Bear sh-t near the trash cans.

That most people they meet are not full of sh-t.

xo

Mommy’s Modern Life

July 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Posted in Beauty, Horses, Kids | 2 Comments
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I drink organic tea with piles of Equal in it.

This is just one of a plethora of paradoxes that plague my everyday existence.

I drink the organic tea because I recently read that the Lipton Tea I had been drinking for years was found to have traces of nasty carcinogens and pesticides in it. And because, in general, I like to eat/drink organic or as farm-fresh as possible as often as possible.

I use the chemical-laden Equal artificial sweetener because I don’t want to get fat.

The list goes on and on.

I seek out the most all-natural, BPA-free, GMO-free, fragrance-free, dye-free, rat-poison-free, bug-particle-free body washes and lotions for my children. I wash them lovingly in these products, thinking what a great thing I am doing for them. Then I tromp upstairs to my own bathroom and slather myself in anti-aging creams and potions filled with ingredients lists I cannot pronounce, much less attempt to comprehend. Sure, there are a few “shea butters” and “chamomile extracts” thrown in there, but for the most part, those suckers are filled with nasty plastics and nano-particles that will probably have my skin looking “plump and fresh” long after my dried up carcass is in the ground.

I love my animals like they are my children and want to save every one of the abused and suffering ones in the world. “How can anybody do that to an animal?” I intone, referring to some abuse case or another, all muffled through intermittent chomps on my cheeseburger. Who’s saving those cows, Draghetti?

(sigh) I also:

  • Seek out the most organic, paraben-free, no-animal-testing lip balms I can find, then slather my lips with semi-permanent lipstick every morning. What type of self-adhesive polymers do you think they use to make that stuff stay on your lips all day – even through that hefty plate of nachos??
  • Try to save the planet by recycling every scrap of paper, shred of cardboard and cylinder of tin I can find, then drive off to the redemption center in my giant, gas-guzzling SUV.
  • Buy my cats high-end, all-natural cat food, then apply poison to their skin in the form of Frontline Flea & Tick repellent. (But how else am I supposed to keep the buggies off??)
  • Ditto for the horses: I give them all-natural supplements and perfectly balanced diets, then apply a thorough spraying of chemical-laden bug spray. Hey, the all-natural ones just don’t work that well, and I don’t want to get bucked off because a horsefly just bit one of my geldings on the privates!

Last week, my mother brought cheese puffs to a party at my house. “Cheese puffs??!” I snorted, “Don’t give any of those to my children!!”  Later that night after everyone was gone, I realized I had been too busy to eat dinner and went straight for my secret stash of Ring Dings. Who am I fooling, really?

Back in the day (not really sure what that means, but the ‘young people’ say it so it must be cool), there was this funny little cartoon called “Rocko’s Modern Life”. It was about an Australian wallaby and his bewildering journey through life, where he constantly encountered ironies such as mine. I often think of that little character as I purchase organic vegetables wrapped in carcinogen-emitting plastic. It all just seems to be part of the modern world. No matter how hard you try to eat/look/be healthy and take good care of the planet, some of that new-fangled scientific stuff is going to sneak in. I guess I’ll just have to shrug it off and keep trying.

Besides, nothing is going to get between me and some really good wrinkle cream. Or a fresh box of Ring Dings.

xo

What’s the Point?

June 29, 2012 at 9:13 am | Posted in Horses | 2 Comments
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Recently, I was lucky enough to have a hot stone massage. The therapist came into the room and kindly asked me if I had any “trouble areas” that I would like her to work on. Enter “deer in the headlights” look from me. Any “trouble areas”? Lady, I have horses! My entire body is a trouble area! I’ve had my bell rung more times than most football players! In fact, I fell off my 26-year-old gelding just a few weeks ago :0. One minute we were standing there regarding a new trail, the next minute I was launched to the left, twisted in mid-air, and dumped on my back as he threw one of those down-low-and-to-the-right mega-spooks. Usually I can stay with him when he does that – just not that time.

Recently, I was reading about a new syndrome they’ve discovered that occurs from having your brain slap against your skull a few too many times. It usually starts in your 50’s with symptoms like mild loss of balance and vertigo, then progresses to complete and total dementia. When I saw this article, I copied it and handed it to my husband. The conversation went something like this:

“Here. You might want to read this in case I start to exhibit any of these symptoms in the next 10 years.”

“What?”

“Well, I’ve fallen off the horses a lot over the years. Plus I’ve been knocked out a few other times playing as a kid. Isn’t it awful when you get knocked out?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean, you ‘don’t know’”?

“I’ve never been knocked out.”

What???!!!” (What kind of a namby-pamby wimp did I marry??) “You’ve never been knocked out?? Didn’t you play football?? Ride your bike?? Swing on a rope swing?”

“Yeah. But I’ve never been knocked out!”

“Ok, Nancy-pants, well, if I start to get inexplicably dizzy in my early 50’s, take me to the doctor before I forget your name, all right?”

“Um, ok, I guess.”

At this point, I’m thinking he’s probably just going to point and laugh if I start stumbling around on the stone walkway. Heck, he probably threw that article away and is just waiting for the day I come downstairs in the morning, stare at the microwave, and ask when we put a TV in the kitchen. I probably deserve it anyway.

So here I am in the massage therapist’s room, thinking about my ailments. I told her to work on my shoulder or something, but as I was lying on the table I began to make a mental list of all the injuries and insults to my body over the years. It went something like this:

Head:  Whacked, thumped and given a concussion numerous times, due to horse falls, mountain biking flips and a childhood rope swing mishap (perhaps we shouldn’t have hung that rope swing over a 15-foot drop in the woods?).

Neck: Whiplash #1 occurred in a car accident in my 20’s. I actually wore one of those neck braces for over a month – you know, the one the guy wore on the Brady Bunch when he was trying to say Carol crunched his car in the parking lot? Just like that. My poor neck has also suffered a number of bonks along with my head in my many horse falls.

Collarbone: This lovely area of my anatomy was partially separated on one side when my horse Locky decided to separate himself from me during a mount-up. I never got my weight centered or my right foot in the stirrup, and Locky took off like a shot. Don’t remember the fall, and my collarbone has apparently forgotten how to re-locate to my sternum.

Lower Back: Any horse person knows that pretty much every time you hit your head falling off, your back takes a blow as well. Add ‘em up. My most recent favorite fall was last winter, when I rode Locky around the frozen driveway in my heavy gear and high-backed trail saddle. When I began to dismount, I caught my thick winter boot on the back of the saddle. Apparently the force of my launching myself off made me flip my entire body over in the air and land, POW, on my back on the rock-hard ground. Great job, hotshot. You’ve only dismounted, what, 800,492 times in your life??

Right Hip: This is an old one from my 20’s as well. I had just bought hot little Diablo and of course, being 23, was feeling invincible. I decided it would be a good idea to canter home along the side of the road (mistake #1) and to practice riding with no stirrups as well. Duh. Of course a giant, horse-eating bird flew out of a bush right in front of us, resulting in a huge spook to the left. And, having no stirrups and nothing to brace against, my body went hard-right. I can still remember clinging to his side as he galloped down the road thinking, “There is no way I can get myself back into the saddle or my feet under me. Guess I’ve got to let go now.” WHAM! went right hip onto hard pavement. CHICA-BOOM, CHICA-BOOM, CHICA-BOOM went horse’s feet as he galloped home. Some nice people in a minivan peeled me off the road and drove me to the barn. Mom drove me to the hospital, all the while complaining that she “thought these days were over now that I was grown up”. Sorry, Mom, in my 40’s and still getting driven to the hospital because of the horses. Sometimes in an ambulance. Ouch.

Pelvis: Here is an injury actually not caused my horses or sports. The delivery of my first son, Brady, resulted in a separated pelvis, which meant I was unable to walk or support my weight without a walker or crutches for about 3 months. 38-year-old woman with a walker – beautiful sight! Thank God I found my amazing D.O. after 6 months to get the pain in check. And thank God for C-sections for baby #2!

Tailbone: This interesting piece of anatomy also suffered in the “bolting fall” off of Locky. I must have landed flat on my head/shoulders/back as all three suffered. Still don’t remember, but my bruised tailbone remembered for about 6 weeks after that one!

Feet: Been stepped on numerous times by those big lugs who don’t know where their giant feet are landing at any given time. Or maybe they do….

So, what should I have told that poor massage therapist? She would have passed out if I’d started spewing this litany of complaints! So I picked the thing that was plaguing me most at the moment and sounded legit: my right shoulder and a little bit of sciatica. The massage was nice, the therapist was excellent, and I’m going riding today. Let’s hope I stay in the saddle. That is, after all, the point.

xo

A Use for Algebra

June 9, 2012 at 6:55 am | Posted in Beauty, Horses, Kids | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,

I can’t believe it. I’ve finally found a use for all that Algebra I had to take in high school. This stuff doesn’t come easy, so be gentle with me. Following are my very own set of hypotheses:

If car = clean, then children will make an extra effort to spill juice, scatter muffin crumbs, and smear dirty feet on the backs and bases of seats. Good choice on the light-colored interior, Mom.

If morning = busy with many out-of-the-ordinary tasks and commitments, then children will be cranky, over-tired, naughty, rotten, highly emotional, quarrelsome and unhelpful. As will Mom.

If visit = in-laws, then children will be cranky, over-tired, naughty, rotten, highly emotional, quarrelsome and unhelpful. They will also completely regress, losing their ability to eat a meal, use the toilet and sleep past 4:00 a.m. I’m including teenagers in this theory.

If corner of furniture = pointed, then child will certainly find a way to bang his head on it, especially if he is having his picture taken the next day or visiting relatives who never see him and already question your parenting skills.

If vacation week = rainy, then house, hotel room, camper, etc. will have 453 toys strewn across the floor of each room, the television will break, the Internet will go down and all that paint you saved for a rainy day will be completely dried up. Oh, and BounceZone will be closed due to a power outage.

If toy = expensive, then child will ignore it. Cheap toys from China will be played with consistently for the 45 minutes it takes them to break, then said child will be inconsolable.

If horse = expensive, it will be sick with something akin to the swine flu when you bring it home, go inexplicably  lame by the time it’s five, and cost 300x what you spent to buy it to train it to do the basics. Cheap horses are never sick or lame and they live to be 40. Unexplainable.

If day = windy, horse will find that previously unnoticed red maple leaf to be a weapon of mass destruction, see a ghost in the corner of the arena, and will have learned to jump 30 feet straight up into the air at the slightest touch of your left heel. Probably best to stay off his back this day, because that is likely where you will end up.

If door = closed, then cat will stare at it, scratch it and whine at it until it is opened. Then cat will turn its nose up and ignore it as you stand in 20 degree temperatures in your underwear.

And of course, the coup de gras:

If hair day = good, then you will have absolutely, positively no place to go and no one to see.

xo

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