Black and Blue and Sore All Over!

My two nurses made sure I was well cared for when I made it home.

My two nurses made sure I was well cared for when I made it home.

Well this has been an interesting week.  If you had asked me while I was sitting in the emergency room how I would be feeling four days later, I’d have told you that I’d be back to walking the dogs, practicing my vinyasa yoga, and dancing to my Zumba DVD by now.  Boy, was I WRONG!

I could barely walk Monday night and it would have been comical for you to see me trying to get out of the bed Tuesday morning.  I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck.  I suppose getting hurled to the partially frozen ground off a galloping horse isn’t quite equivalent, but it sure did take a lot out of my body.  I’ve had spills before, but I was younger and bounced back rather quickly.  Mr. D told me when I finally retrieved my car on Thursday that he was certain that I was unconscious or severely broken because I did not bounce when I hit the ground.  “Thud” is the word that came to mind.

I managed to knock the scab off my nose today while in the car.  Next thing I knew I had blood streaming down my nose and into my lap as I cruised down the road to the barn.  Awesome.  I was able to scrounge some napkins out of my center console to sponge up the flow.  What a mess.  I ended up folding a napkin, placing it on the wound, and holding it in place with my glasses.  And no, I did not take a photo.

Today I was finally able to walk a little more normally and not have to take the stairs one at a time while gripping the rails.  I no longer grimace as I sit or try to get into the bed, and thankfully the whiplash has lessened.  And thank goodness it is wintertime and I can cover up the bruises with layers of clothing.  Yikes!  I am very colorful in multiple places.   There are bruises covering my right foot and ankle, my tailbone, my left waistline, and the granddaddy of them all is a hand-sized bruise down my left hip and thigh.  For those of you who like to stare at car accidents, I share the following:

Not as bad as some of my sprains from high school track.

Not as bad as some of my sprains from high school track.

Pretty.

Pretty.

It was good to finally see my boys yesterday and today.  Our arena still looks like an ice skating rink, so I suppose if I had to be out of commission, this is a good time to do it.  Ike and I had a good chat about what happened.  He was apologetic, but did ask if I could purchase a bb gun to scare away the vultures.

Not sure when I will be back in the saddle, but hoping that it is sooner rather than later.

She Didn’t Stick the Landing…

"Um, Mom, why are you laying in the stonedust?  I was trying to save us both."

“Um, Mom, why are you laying in the stone dust? I was trying to save us both.”

So, Ms. C sometimes watches Ike gallop and buck his way around his paddock; she’s also said that she hopes that he never does that while I’m in the saddle, “You are doomed if he does.” Well, she was right.

Had not been in the saddle but for a few minutes when all hell broke loose.  Mr. D happened to see the entire event unfold.  The vulture that had been sunning himself decided to take flight.  Ike decided he was a flying boogie man and went from walk to gallop like a racehorse.  He bucked once, and I was okay…it was the second one that got me. I attempted a front flip with a half twist dismount. I did not stick the landing. Landed hard on my left hip. Also managed to twist my right ankle. My pride is also a bit broken.

Mr. D grabbed Ike and put him in his stall. He then brought the tractor to the ring and I hitched a ride in the bucket (thankfully, no photos of my newest mount).

After 3 hours in the emergency room, I learned that all my years of drinking milk have paid off. Nothing is broken, but boy am I going to be sore. Bring on the muscle relaxers and Aleve. Cannot wait to see the bruising.

BTW, the funniest moment in the hospital came when a bunch of stone dust fell out of my pants…bet they don’t see that every day!

Time to rest! Alison

Help Wanted

help wanted

The sign is perpetually up for every horse organization, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  There is always something that needs to be done or that we’d like to have done, but the question remains, “Who is going to do it?!”  We all look around the room at each other, names are bantered about, and then reluctantly, one of those present in the room agrees to take on the task on top of everything else they’ve agreed to do.  The Pareto Principle is in full bloom; the principle that says that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people.

Yes, yes, everyone knows all about the frontline volunteers at the shows.  The scribes, the runners, the stewards, and even the scorers who are tucked away in some windowless room.  We need those volunteers for certain, but I am going to ask that you consider volunteering on the other side of the organization as well.  If you are a competitor who maintains a busy show schedule, then this will be right up your alley.  You can get in your volunteer time in the dead of winter when the rings are frozen or at night after dinner when your horse(s) are tucked away for the evening.

How you ask?  I will share with you how your talents can shine at both the local and state levels.

I’ve just completed my first year and beginning my second year as a chapter representative for the Virginia Dressage Association.   When I began my dressage obsession, I had no clue about the intensive volunteer need for the sport.  I have a new found respect for those people who work tirelessly year round to keep the organization running smoothly.  The Board (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and all the chapter representatives) meets via conference call once a month.  Don’t worry, the calls start at 8:00 p.m., so most horse tasks for the day are done.

I’m also gearing up for my first full term as my chapter’s secretary.  I pinch hit for the end of last year after our secretary moved out of state.  Our meetings are once a month also in the evening to accommodate those who work, go to school, and have families to feed.  It is a smaller chapter, so there are times we do struggle to fill the empty spots and most of us tend to wear more than one hat.

Are you a type-A personality with good organizational skills?  Then we want you to help organize clinics – potential clinicians need to be contacted (this is your chance to get your favorite clinician lined up), a host facility found, rider application reviewed, schedules made, travel arrangements completed…You can also consider being the membership chairperson and keep all the member information organized.

Are you a people person and can you herd cats?  Volunteer Coordinator is right up your alley!   Help rally the troops to fill all those vital positions at the shows and clinics.  Don’t limit yourself to just club members.  I found that horse friends from other disciplines were more than willing to help out in a pinch.  Sometimes they became dressage devotees after spending the day watching talented horses and riders perform their tests.

Are you a legal type?  You can put that legal mind to work to draft contracts for judges, clinicians, and venues.  You can review insurance documents (sadly, no show or clinic can be held without it these days) to insure that the club has adequate coverage.  How about helping your club become a 501(c)3 organization or updating their bylaws?

Can you summarize the conversations of 10 people all talking at the same time?  Come be a secretary with me!  You attend monthly meetings and then type up the meeting notes for the newsletter.  You will need to summon all those skills you learned in elementary school on how to write a summary.

Do you have marketing skills?  Licensed shows and the big regional competitions are not inexpensive endeavors.  Show fees just scratch the surface at covering the costs.  Sponsorships help clubs make a profit for all their hard work.  There are all the usual suspects of big equine supply companies, but don’t be afraid to approach non-traditional sponsors.  But many local businesses that you frequent will sponsor a class.  VADA was able to get Lladro (http://www.lladro.com/) to sponsor some FEI high point awards at our fall show last year.  All it takes is the time to write the emails or make the phone calls.

Do you like to be in the driver’s seat?  How about being the President of your club?  You can help revitalize the club and decide where the group should be headed for the future.

Are you an English major with wicked good language skills?  Newsletter editor is the position for you.   Or if you prefer something without a monthly deadline, how about updating the club’s handbook?  You know you like looking for misspellings and typos…just admit it.

Are you a good writer?  The newsletter isn’t going to write itself. 🙂  Consider writing a witty piece about your horse or share some show results with fellow club members.  We can all find our tiny voice inside that has something to say.  (Some of us have voices that are a bit more boisterous than others.)

Can you balance your checkbook to the penny every month?  Then you are the chosen one to manage the club’s money as the treasurer.  You can also insure that your club doesn’t end up on the wrong side of the IRS.

Are you the hostess with the “mostest”?  That annual club awards banquet needs you to insure that we have more than 20 bags of chips and a 2 liter of soda as refreshments.

Calling all shoppers!  Clubs need someone to select the ribbons and prizes for shows and year-end awards.  You can spend hours browsing online to find the best deal and the coolest stuff that club members will squeal over when they receive it.  Best of all, you get to spend money that isn’t coming out of your pocket.

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Phew!  Who knew that there was so much to do to keep an all volunteer organization running smoothly.  Like I said, I honestly had no idea when I began my dressage hobby in 2005 that things could be so involved.  I was too worried about understanding what a half halt was and not knocking over the arena rails.  I have come to believe that it is our obligation as competitors and enthusiasts to give back to the sport we love.  We would not have places to go and things to do without dedicated volunteers.  Even events like the World Equestrian Games rely on volunteers to pull off the biggest equestrian event on the planet.  Equestrian sports can’t grow without people stepping up to keep things running.  So the only question that remains is, what will you do for the sport that you love?

Reasons to Hate Winter and Be a Snow Bird in Welliworld

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In case you have been wondering why things have been so silent about Ike’s adventures, it is because we have not had any saddle time since January 1.  Yes, that is right, the 1st.  “But why Alison, why have you been so unproductive?  You have to master the Ten Commandments According to George before show season.”

Well, let me fill you in on the past nine days…which will clearly explain why I hate winter and why I need to win the lottery so that I can afford to flee to Welliworld and warmer temperatures. [In case you aren’t aware, Wellington, Florida is like Disney World for dressage lovers in the winter.]

Ike had his teeth floated on January 2nd.  They had last been done in May 2012.  Now before you accuse me of being negligent, he had not needed them done until now.  Yes, I got lucky with a horse who does not need dental work every 6 months.  That same day, since he was sedated, he also got his sheath cleaned…he frowns upon any attempts at touching the area without the help of drugs.  I gave him the rest of the day off to chill since I know how my mouth feels after the hygienist has been scraping and probing around my gumline.

Anyhoo, January 3rd brought snow and ice to the mid-Atlantic region – not any appreciable snow amounts, but enough to send Virginians into a blind panic to buy bread and milk and toilet paper in large quantities (those in the north must get a good chuckle out of us.).  Those of us without indoor arenas stare out the window and frown.  January 4th and 5th were saddle-free days because the chilly temperatures froze the arena to the hardness of concrete and prevented any snow melt.  January 5th also brought in some more rain.  Why not?!  More insult to injury.

January 6th dawned with another morning of rain.  Seriously??  Luckily by afternoon when I was done working, the rain had stopped.  Finally, I thought, I can hop on Ike for a ride.  Even if the footing was a little sloppy, I could at least do walk and some trot….or so I thought.  Got Ike tacked up quickly and headed to the arena while there was still daylight.  We started walking to warm up and all felt fine.  I knew something was off as soon as Ike made half a stride of trot.  Almost felt like he hopped with the hind end, like a runner pulling up with a strained hamstring.  Luckily, Ms. C was jin the barn and she came out to watch.  There were some good strides tracking right, but left was definitely off.  Ike went back in his stall where he had some Surpass rubbed on his hamstring and some Bute added to dinner.  Since Ike was sound on January 1st for my last ride, that leaves cavorting with his brother as the number one suspected reason that he was off.  Rumor has it that they can cause quite the commotion when they start the gelding play over the hotwire fencing.  I perish to think about the damage to themselves and the farm that they could cause if they were to share a paddock.

Well since Ike was having some rest time, I wasn’t too upset about the whole Polar Vortex/record-setting cold that settled into the area January 7th and 8th and re-froze the ground  It also turned my hands into white, bloodless extremities.  Can’t really half halt, groom, secure buckles, or pick hooves efficiently when you can’t move or feel your fingers.  It was definitely cold here, but after seeing some of the negative temperature values around the country, I don’t feel that we have too much to complain about.

January 9th – Ike was still not quite right.  Vet has been called and scheduled.  Thankfully he just had his routine adjustment, so we have an excellent baseline for reference.  So much for my goal of saving some cash; we can start next month.

January 10th – freezing rain in the morning followed by more rain in the afternoon.  Small pools have formed in the far end of the arena.  I managed to find the only patch of ice in the area and had the sidewalk viciously attacked my knee.  My knee is a wimp.  Tylenol is a good thing.  Where is the leftover ice melt?

Looks like more rain for tomorrow the 11th.  We can start working next week.

Wish me luck with the lottery.  I just know that my numbers are going to come in!

The Ten Commandments According to George

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George Morris that is.  His status in the horse world is such that he can almost be referenced by only his first name…much like Beyoncé or Madonna.  I was able to watch about 30 minutes of the George Morris Horsemaster Training Session Day 2 video on the USEF Network this morning.  In that short time span, I was able to glean the 10 commandments according to George.  They are true no matter what discipline to want to claim allegiance to – dressage, eventing, hunters, jumpers, western, or happy horse owner/rider.

1) Half halt, half halt.

2) The horse must travel and stop uphill.

3) Inside Leg to Outside Rein.

4) Invite the horse to self carriage.

5) Keep contact and ride it from behind.

6) The horse must listen to the hand.

7) The rider must give a little.

8) The horse must stretch over the back.

9) Half Halt.  Yes, it is that important.

10) Regulation of stride and straightness of the horse is the responsibility of the hands.

So there you have it.  When I read this list, I see Charlotte riding Valegro in their stunning musical freestyle.  They make it look effortless even though we all know it is not.  They are the embodiment of these concepts and what we should all strive to achieve.  This could also be my list of goals for the new year.  If I can master these skills, everything else will fall into place:  qualifying for the Region 1 BLM Championships at First Level, qualifying for the USDF Region 1 Championships at First Level, and earning my First Level scores needed towards my USDF Bronze Medal.

So I’ve got 364 more days this year.  Time to get started!

Happy New Year!