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Friday, December 21, 2012

No more days of Christmas

I knew the madness had to stop when I jumped on Farley yesterday and the only song I could sing/hum to myself as we jigged, bolted, and jumped across the arena was "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me.......a partridge in a pear tree!".  The problem being that even with countless hours of watching a particular VHS tape with the song acted out by cardboard cutouts and actors, I still don't know the words and that makes the endless sound track of the days of Christmas even worse!!!!  If I have a prayer of knocking this song OUT of my brain by Xmas, I must stop ingraining it into my everyday life.


I believe I was on the third day of xmas and I couldn't figure out what had happened in threes that I could blog about.......three am squawking birdie?  Maybe.  If you go to bed at 1:30 am finishing up a TV show on amazon, then is 9am kinda like 3am? 

So anyways.  Let's just talk about what *I* want to talk about.

1. Farley
I rode Farley.  I fastened my seat belt, took my place among the carousel and picked the "3 years old and younger" setting and put in the quarter.  

Translation --> I saddled up in my Aussie saddle, rode in the arena, and kept it at the walk, ignoring the bad idea fairy (have you read Aarene's book yet) that told me that I should take advantage of the last break in the weather and do some trail riding on this cold windy day, or at least take a jaunt around the arena at something else than that 4 beat gait that doesn't really get us anywhere......the *other* 4 beat gait is ever so much more fun......I squashed the Bad Idea Fairy down with a reminder that.....I was so far *enjoying* my vacation and that my goals, as crazy as they sounded (New Years 3 night backpacking trip anyone?) did NOT involve broken bones, dirty helmets, or medical accessories!

Took me 20 minutes to get a good relaxed walk on the bit, long and low.  I slid off, patted her on the neck and myself on the back for a job well done, and sauntered off for other vacation activities. 

2. Vacation
I am officially 1/3 done with my vacation and let's review what I've done so far....and lest you are worried that I'm taking my vacation too seriously and not relaxing's what I want to "accomplish" in my 3 weeks off:

a. Ride Farley at least once (complete!).  Sounds rather simple but with the MISERABLE weather this break, not as easy as it sounds.  Hopefully I'll get more rides in, but probably only if the jet stream switches to a drier cycle in the beginning of January

b. Finish season 1 of Fringe (Yes! complete!)

c. Read the "Red Tent", a book that has been on my reading list for a decade and in the trunk of my car for 18 months.  (half way through.....)

d. Write an official review for "Endurance 101".

e. Get in at least one run (see notes about riding Farley.....)

f. Go backpacking (scheduled for the weekend before New Years if there's a break in the weather).

g. Explore my grad school options with a professor I particularly liked from the Repro block

h. Blog regularly (so far so good) and try not to be too boring.  This post is really border line, but 

i. Detail my car (half done).

j. Visit as many friends and family as I can, without guilt or stress.  Whether that's 1 or 20. 

I'm sure that it did not escape your notice that the above list is 10 points long even though I've chosen letters instead of numbers!

3. Hiking Trip
What do you think my biggest concern was about the New Years backpacking trip? 
-Rain? Nope.
-Cold? Nope.
-Tessie's muddy feet in my tent? Nope.

It was about my shoes. 

Hiking in the winter sucks when you haven't worn shoes for almost 2 years.  My runamocs and crocs are as close as I get.  In fact, when I wore a pair of hiking shoes to school one day, my feet hurt so bad the next day I could barely walk in the morning. 

My last couple of backpacking trips have been done in crocs or runamocs but with the mud and generally wetness, that isn't going to cut it on this trip. 

Let's throw into the mix that my feet tend to get really cold, AND on a three night trip I cannot possible pack enough socks to have dry feet the entire time, AND I'm not confident that my runamocs or worn out crocs (all my crocs are hand-me downs from other family members) have the tread to make it up some of the climbs, that are going to have clay mud on them in addition to sheets of ice (which I managed to fall on when I did this hike in 2010 and squirm around like a turtle on my back with my mother standing by doing NOTHING....:) and we have a real problem. 

So, I've taken my Xmas/Birthday money, done some research and settled on a pair of boots made by crocs that I'm pretty sure will work.  They darn well better because if they don't I will be doing something creative with duct tape and crocs. 

I'll get the shoes Monday, will wear them for a couple of tread desk sessions and know by that Friday whether I'll have to come up with something else.

Who knew that doing is "natural" for the body would cause so many issues in today's modern life?  Shoes hurt my feet, sitting down drives me insane.  Makes me wonder about the unseen changes that happen internally to horses and other animals when we use and care for them in a way more similar to their origins which may or may not be part of traditional management?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On the second day of Christmas.... true love gave to me!

4 broken bones, 3 cracked ribs, 2 bucking fits, and a new home for Faaaarrrrllleeeyyyyyy.

Just kidding. 

In a rare moment of lucidity I decided the better plan was to turn out and then lunge the horse I haven't ridden in 4 (6?) weeks and ride tomorrow.   So instead, I present to you, way more than 2 things to get that equestrian or horse lover for Xmas in your family. 

1.  Aarene's Endurance 101 book of course!!!!!!  I have an ecopy and I'm REALLY enjoying the read.  Beautiful pictures, equally fun to both read and browse.  And of course, a big fat purple "Bad Idea Fairy" that seems silly until you realize that one of it's relatives has sat on your own shoulder far longer than you care to admit. 

I know that a few days there were still a few print versions of the book left from the first printing, but they were going fast.  The ebook is also fabulously pretty and really well laid out, but there's something about having a cold hard copy in your hands! (or your friend's hands). 

Still need some convincing?  Google "Endurance 101 book aarene" and see all the book reviews that pop up on it!  I don't have one listed here as that is goal #2 of the winter break (the first which is to finish the entire first season of Fringe....) but honestly, why are you waiting for a poorly worded, unfortunate attempt at wit from me to make your decision?

Check out the book's webpage:  You don't want to miss pictures of Jim dressed up at Santa!!!!

2. Natural hoof medallions. ( Yes yes yes I know I've plugged this one before --> but truly I'm in love with the jewelry designs.  I'd a love a necklace or bracelet in the stainless steel design, a symbol of my true love when I'm not on the back of my endurance (or ride and tie!) horse. 

3.  Something from the artist Laurie Pace.  (  Art is personal and all that, but seriously, how this women paints horses is magical to me.  I'm not hugely drawn to art, and even less so to art that isn't strictly realistic, but somehow this women paints horses how I feel about them.  My favorite piece of art by her is "Moonlight over the River" which sadly doesn't have a print and at 5K I'll never own the original (which was sold to a private buyer), however there are a few prints that are quite nice, even if they don't capture me quite as much as "moonlight".

4. A hoof pick.  One can never have too many.  I have dozens.  Where was one when I needed it last night?  I have no idea.  I need a fold up one that fits on a key chain.  I know where my keys are.  Most of the time.  Ummm....make that 2 keychain hoof picks.  One for my keys and one for my spare set of keys....

5.  An online subscription to some sort of media thingy.  Us horse people need something to distract us when we can't/won't/refuse to obssess constantly over our equids in these all-too-short daylight days.  I'm quite fond of amazon prime since I prefer TV shows over movies --> shorter, which is nice for my shiny object syndrome.

6.  New trimming tools.  One of my clients took the time to show me exactly what she uses to trim her horses feet and of course, now me-wanty-new-power-tools!!!!!!!  The dremmel is fine......but if I had the money this is what my trim kit would consist of!

Ryobi right angle grinder P420
Ryobi lithium batteries P104 and charger
For grinder disc: Diablo or other brand 5" x 7/8 arbor 24 grit sanding disc
Norton disc backer for 5" discs. Measures 4 1/2.

May all of you have a very Merry Christmas, and I want to here what my horsey friends get!!!!!!  What gifts past or present (or hopefully future!) would you add here for that special horse person?

I published a list of gifts for the 2011 season sometime in January 2012, so if you are a desperate shopper-for-that-horse-person check that out, and any other ideas others might add here or on their own blogs :).

Vacation day 1

On the first day of Christmas (break) my true love gave to me....

Ok, so my true love wasn't even here for most of the day (left at three am) and the only thing he managed to give me prior to leaving was my second cold of the year... But it WAS my first day of Christmas break and after napping on the couch in front of the fire and playing withe Connor and Tess, it was 9 am and time to start my day. It was raining so Farley was saved for day 2 festivities.

I had Xmas Saturday night with my parents and had $$ to spend on myself. merry Christmas to me!

First off was to find a zippered fleece robe. Amazon failed me. LL Bean failed me. Sierra trading post failed me. Even google shopper failed, and it was only when I remembered that lands end that I found success.

Ok, that didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped, but persistence did pay off and well, there was an entire day I front of me.....

Stopped to drop off the November board check since the original one had never cleared and thus me and the BM decided it was easier for me to just repay....only to find that I couldn't actually find it. So I wrote a THIRD check for the month of November and dropped it off.

Ok. Just another bump in the day of vacation day 1.

Time for some more Xmas presents. A hair cut, and a pair of earrings, and then off to the tack shop to put one of the three saddles I'm trying to sell on consignment (anyone want an Aussie saddle and girth and pad for $250 plus shipping? Yes the price has gone down! I'm taking offers :)).

Time to get home and get to the real celebrating,

- ate an entire pillsberry can of cinnamon rolls and managed to bake exactly half of them (don't ask me why I've stopped losing weight)

- watched untold amount of episodes of fringe on amazon (free with prime).

- even more Tess and Conner time

- a bowl of popcorn flavored with agave nectar and cinnamon and more fringe episodes.

- a nap

So far so good! This is EXACTLY what the first day of vacation should look like!

And then I looked out the window and saw that the pit bull was back.

Those of you on face book are aware of the dog drama - one part of which is, about a week a male uneutered out bull came on the property, at night, and attacked one of my dogs. We called the sheriff, but by the time he got there, the dog wasn't on the property any more.

And today the dog was back.

It's taking multiple deep breaths and perhaps a beer or two to get my vacation mood back.

Let's review shall we?

On the first day of Vacation my school break gave to me....a pit bull and Stress management for me!

I wonder what my true love brings to me on the second day of Christmas (vacation)? Peace happiness and joy? Saddle time, good news and an end to this cold? A housekeeping elf? Sold saddles? Seven days of dinners? We shall see!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas recommendations


The book "Endurance 101" by AareneX is one of the items that I will be strongly recommending on my "what to get the horsey person in your life" Xmas list --> and because I'm afraid that she's going to completely sell out before my final is over and I get my post up, I wanted to share this here in case you are interested.

I have the ebook version and I absolutely love it.  Beautiful pictures, funny, easy reading, AND a bad idea fairy, whom I'm pretty sure lives at my house and regularly gives me advice. 

Here's the Endurance 101 info if you want a PHYSICAL book.  The ebook is available as well.

Quantities are limited and operators are standing by!

Okay, there aren't actually operators standing around anywhere.

But it's true that a limited number of real-paper-and-real-ink copies of Endurance 101 are now available for delivery in time for the holidays. Readers told us that they wanted a print edition for themselves and to give to friends and family, and it's ready at last--and the readers who wrote to us get the first chance to order.

Do not delay:  we expect the first printing to sell out quickly, and the second run will NOT ship until January 2013!

Details and the buy-it-now links are here:

Laughing all the way,
Aarene Storms, author, Monica Bretherton, photographer, and all the friendly folks (plus the wheelchair dog) at Triangle Ranch Communications

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New things

So I know that it's been dark and lonely over here for my poor readers so in the interest of not having you'all go away, I've torn myself away from my studies long enough to compile a (probably 10 item) list of new things that are going on and general annoucements.

1.  Yes, the Christmas gifting list is coming.   I swear.  It's already half written.

2.  I've added a pet to the zoo.  Meet Connor - a green cheeked conure (fallow mutation).  It hurts me everytime that I describe him as a conure, since that is a made up classification for the pet industry and no relevance whatever, and regularly lumps birds together that aren't related (like Sun conures).  Connor is a birthday present from my boyfriend and is quite the little sweetie pie.  I feel like my "pet life" is complete - 1 horse, 1 dog, 1 bird, and a cat (technically Jonah is half my cat, but I always knew that since I decided to live with Matt, he wouldn't be living with me ever again permanently - so my remaining cat is Mickie).  Each animal interacts with me in a different way, and fulfills a different need.  It's quite neat.  Matt is a huge bird person so yes, it's my bird, but not in the way that Tess and Farley are "mine" - ie Connor is a joint project :).  You probably won't here too much about Connor here since this is a horse/endurance blog - but the news is new and exciting and thus I post :)

3. Winter break starts after my final on Friday!  This is the end of a very short 2 week block on dermatology and thus a lot of information was thrown at us in a short amount of time and I'm scrambling to assimilate everything into a framework that makes sense.  Which is why there is a blog vacation.

4.  I haven't seen my horse for, like, FOREVER. I haven't ridden in an eternity.  I refuse to feel guilty about it.  She's in good hands at the boarding place, and once I get on winter break, I'll be able to go out and see her and ride.  I'm in vet school, and likely even as a vet, there will be periods of time that are busier than others and that I will be able to spend less time that I would like with friends and family, so as long as I'm making accomodations for the needs of my animals, than everything is still fine :).  For example, if clinics takes me away for a couple of days, I will need to make sure that Connor is socially taken care of during that time, my cat will be fine, my horse is fine, and as long as Matt and the other dogs are around, Tess is fine. 

5. I have decided that I am not overly found on human doctors and the human medical industry.  Not only can their patients talk and TELL them what they feel (and yet they still don't listen), I'm increasingly frustrated by the politics, bureaucracy, and insurance concerns that can prevent a diagnosis and treatment. 

6. I'm about 95% sure that Tess is unilaterally deaf.  It's very likely based on her coat color genetics and explains a lot of odd consistencies in how she reacts in various situations that are visual versus auditory and requires triangulation of sound over longer distances.  It doesn't matter in every day situations usually, but has impacts in our off leash training, and some of the other "performance" type things I want to do where very often it's a auditory signal without a visual component.  I could have her tested to make sure, which would cost ~$200 as a student here at the VMTH, which I may do at some point when I can afford to be curious, but for now I'll just keep it in the back of my mind when we are working together. 

7.  I've been posting pics and some shorter items on Tess's blog.  If you haven't been there in a while, go over and check it out.

8.  Jonah is still up for a 6 month foster.  I've gotten some inqueries, but no commitments.  A lot of it is the holidays --> people are travelling etc., so understandable.  Gotten a few questions on why I can keep my dog and not him.  He's 50% my cat, but essentially I gave him to my parents a year and a half ago.  Currently I'm fostering him for them until they find a new place in Redding --> however the originally reason I rehomed him with my parents still exists --> him and my boyfriend don't get along.... --> and the situation has escalated to the point where someone else needs to foster him until they can find a place, probably about 6 months. 

9. My brother and I have agreed to get up early on weekday mornings and have a cup of coffee before going to work/school and just visit for 30-60 minutes.  It's been great and a really special time.  Life is always changing and I really try to appreciate the small things at each stage.  I may wish that I was riding more right now, but there are other opportunities available that are more transient than my reduction of saddle time.

10.  I'm really having to stretch this to make my list reach 10 items!!!!!!!!  What else new is going on.......I have multiple saddles for sale, (belong to my Dad etc and selling them for him), including a leather/synthetic combination Big Horn saddle with a horn.  So if you are looking for a saddle as a gift this Christmas, let me know.  Currently looking to sell an Aussie, the Bighorn, and another leather older western saddle (***All the westerns have horns). 

Friday, December 7, 2012

I which I may have had too much caffeine

Oh Lordy it's that time of the year again.

Why have I now lost a total of 8 pounds instead of 12? (so says I as I stuff yet more cookies in my mouth...)

Ah yes - dark days, cookies and..........KITTIES


Ok. So maybe one thing isn't like the other in the above sentence (can you tell the shiny object syndrome is raising its squirrel like head here)

And in related news, can you tell what lecture I had this morning? (coat color in cats)

And also can you tell I have self medicated with caffeine (AND CINNAMON ROLLS THAT WERE MINATURE!!!) in order to focus on the test this morning AND combined that with a beer and fish and chips in a post-test celebration an hour ago!?

Oh yeah. Today is NOT the day to explain the wonderful histologically beauty of the hoof.

I fact, I'm pretty sure one of my study partners got a slightly more animated version of skin immunity than she bargained for when doing some subject review before the test.....

And in a completely off subject (oddly related since there IS a picture of a kitty in this post...) thought...anyone want to foster a Siberian forest bred cat for six months until my parents find a house? I'm pretty sure either the boyfriend or the cat are going to come to mortal blows in the next week or so unless I can remove one of them. Why do I mention breed like its important? Because there has to be a very special place in your heart in order to ummmm...APPRECIATE this particular breed of cat......

Christmas list coming soon! Want a preview of one of the must buy item? That would be Aarene's endurance 101 book naturally! An absolutely must have for you and ten of your friends. Check out her blog or do a Facebook search. More specifics coming.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tess gives her opinion - Lecture series

Heaven help me I feel another lecture series coming on.

Who wants to learn more about the horse hoof?

Tess gives her opinion


What are you working on?



Friday, November 30, 2012


I don't really have anything to talk about, but I feel like I left my blog on such a dreary, non-endurance related note that is was time to put SOMETHING else up, until tomorrow when my "what to get the horse person in your life" post goes (note that this year that post goes up BEFORE xmas as opposed to months afterwards). 

So....I present random picture of Tess. 

We shall title this "I thought that was a cat bed". 

Just finished my reproduction block today and start dermatology on Monday.  I ADORED repro which is highly ironic as I've spent my entire academic career avoiding it, only to find out that it may be very well the area of vetmed that I want to specialize in.  More about that later.  For now it is sufficient to say that I'm in a good place in my mind about where I am and where I'm going in vetmed --> sometimes a bit of a crisis is just what you need to clarify a few things!!!

Looking forward to catching up with all of you and barring God's call to board the ark tonight (you might have heard that northern california is getting a bit of rain....) I'll catch up with you'all soon.

Monday, November 19, 2012

You knew this post was coming

I've resisted the urge many times to post something here just because it's gross or weird and usually I can find something to relate it to endurance/horses if I want to post something...

The day has finally come.  Something that I cannot relate to the purpose of this blog at all.

If you have the stomach, do a google image search for "schistosoma reflexus". 

Also known as the "inside out calf".

This fascinating condition warrents a single line in ONE of my textbooks (despite having many large animal and path books). 

Not much is known about this.  No genetic link found yet, no breed predilection.  Seems to be random. 

Absolutely FACINATING.

Just heard a presentation from a vet who was presenting some thoughts on cattle dystocia in the field and one of his dystocias his very first year of vet school was one of these.  Which got me to start looking it up :)


I've now been thoroughly labeled.

Generalized anxiety disorder (or "why Melinda has to have a plan for everything)

ADHD (known in my household as shiny object disease, or why Melinda must always have a goal)

Wood (known to my household as why melinda is grumpy and irritable)

Istj (or why Melinda is bossy and stubborn)

Seasonal affective disorder (or why Melinda is the grinch)

I feel like a library book that they can't quite figure out whether it belongs in the fantasy or the mystery fiction so they stuff it in young adult.

Makes me wonder how I ever got to vet school

Makes me grateful that I didn't get these labels until after vet school.

Heaven knows that I already was made aware of how hard and challenging vet school would be and I really didn't need yet more reasons for people to tell me how hard it would be and how I would struggle and sacrifice.

Because guess what, this has something to do with endurance and horses. Thinking about this made me wonder how often we put labels to horses, or allow others to do so, without realizing that every horse has a gift to offer us, even if it's on its way to send it along to a more suitable home.

The most common label that I see people applying to horses as either a source of pride or as an excuse is "rescue".

Often this is the first thing I learn about the horse. That it is a rescue. Or bought from an auction.

It's like everything is secondary to these labels, as if the owner is afraid that no other accomplishment will seen significant without being examined in this light of the horse being once a rescue.

Are you letting a label on your horse define your relationship? Or your expectations?

Can you accept what your horse has to give you, keep your mind open and look past the labels to see what that horse has to offer the sport?

Lables exist only to help us, and if you decide that the label isn't helping and is instead an excuse that is keeping you from doing Tevis or some other dream, than work on the problem, don't proclaim the label even louder. (Goes for your labels AND your horse's labels).

Btw I am feeling better - that cold knocked me out for a week. Missed most of school last week and gradually returning to normal activities. Farley probably thinks that that she's been a retired again (NOT!). I'm taking it easy for the holiday - have very little reserves and a lot of catching up to do for my finals the Monday etc after thanksgiving. Bummer. Definitely no desert gold ride for me! The fates were against me this year, so glad I did camp far west! Loving my current block (repro)!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Stupidest conversation I've had in my life

And as I thought it over, I'm pretty sure it wasn't because I was sick as a dog (I was assured this phrase is in no way derogatory to the dog) and more has to do with the general lack of common sense. 

Scene: A certain fast-er food restruant that we shall call "Asian Grizzly".  

Me: 2 entrees cost more than the 2 entree+1 side plate correct?

Employee: yes

Me: I just want the 2 entrees.  Can you charge me for the plate and not give me a side?

Employee: no, if it goes into the little boxes I have to charge you for the 2 entree price.

Me (thinking I was clever, and the problem was the fancy little chinese boxes that the single entrees come in): OK, just put it in the styrafoam plate container, but don't put the side in it.

Employee: OK

(employee proceeds to take out 2 styrafoam containers)

Employee: I still have to charge you the 2 entree price)

Me: Fine.  I want the 2 entree plate

Employee: what side do you want.

Me: It doesn't matter I'm going to throw it away

Employee: What?

Me: I don't want a side.  I'm going to throw it away, so choose for me.

Employee: Well, I don't want to waste food.....

Me: I know. 

Employee: I'll just give you the 2 entrees

Me: thank you.  (pays for her side-less plate and takes her sick butt back to the car where Tess reminded her she would have been fine with the rice, but settles on the half portion of one of the sides that I can't finish because I'm sick). 

I'm pretty sure I'll get over this awful cold just in time for it to rain this weekend.  Sorry Farley.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I just pulled myself up and gave myself a hug

Thanks to Aarene's insightful comment on my last post, I have a more coherent idea why I'm so confused and frustrate by the school experience.

I let the fact that because I was pigeon holed into a specific category (istj) thus i was the same as everyone around me and thus i belonged.

However, then as time progressed I wasn't as "good" as those around me (which in vet school is what grades you are getting), and I was really confused.

On one hand I had people like you guys, vets out in rural practice, food safety vets, etc telling me how good a vet I was going to be, but on the other hand, by every other measurement I had available, I was going to be a failure.

I'm at the bottom of my class. I don't want to work in the hospital, I don't want the job to consume my life. I don't care about the nitpicky details that I can look up later, I'm much more focused on the overall picture and the larger patterns that characterize medicine.

I realize that I'm in a very small, limited view of the vetmed world, but it's hard to keep this in mind when you are around it every day for hours and hours and hours. I have to endure conversation about how good grades defines how good a vet I will be once I am out of school, something to which I say, when my opinion is asked "show me the research that says that clients are more satisfied with an vet who was an A student versus a C one." "show me the research where performance in vet school is correlated with a successful veterinary career, as defined by the veterinarian themselves"., but it seems like I am one voice among a crowd of grade conscious, ambitious people.

According to academia I'm a dead end because I won't have the grades necessary for internships, residencies, scholarships, or anything else that seems so highly valued by everyone around me.

This is what I realize today:

My mistake was letting that istj pigeon hole define me against my peers and not realize that there are many flavors and being an istj is like having blonde hair. It may be a commonality, but that doesn't mean that I have blue eyes!

Realizing that I was a wood (independent, grouchy, pioneer type) and not a metal (anal retentive, detail oriented, etc.) like most of my classmates was the first step in realizing that I had made a mistake in letting myself be defined by just one measurement and like anything else, if you can out ANYTHING into a box, then you are probably over simplifying it - it's a good place to start, but that's about it.

Going to the processing plant yesterday and realizing that I haven't felt GOOD/SUCCESSFUL at ANYTHING since quitting my job a year and half ago was a revelation (completing the ride and tie is probably the exception). I can't support myself, I can't get good grades, I cant qualify for scholarships, i can't take lessons, I can't do endurance, I can't be everything my boyfriend wants me to be, I can't keep up with my friendships.

So, in spite of dismal grades (although as of yet have passed everything), what skills do I have, that even aren't valued as a vet student, will make me an excellent vet?

I can make people trust and like me in a very short period of time, whether you are a complete newbie to animals, or an experienced rancher that wants to know where the other non-female vet is.

I won't judge you for not having enough money to dialysis on your dog.

I like looking at the big picture and can integrate problems and findings

I can protect myself from burnout

I understand that animals don't mean the same thing to everyone

I understand the human animal bond

I will always tell you the truth and be straightforward

I am really really good at taking a dysfunctional system, program, department and turning it into something that is efficient and organized. I'm not so good at maintaining a well oiled department because I get bored....

I'm not afraid of risk and I will stick my neck out for you.

I like a challenge

I am an effective communicator

I will admit my mistakes even if my lawyer tells me not to

I like working hard to make a difference.

I love mentoring

*****i think that is a heck of a lot to contribute and following my heart and passion got me this far, and if I had to be a B/C student to learn this particular lesson of pride in myself in the absence of external recognition, so be it -- it is my belief I will be a better vet for it.

Me thinketh that perhaps breaking an axle, missing school, and finally having time to blog again was a divine plan!

It's been a while!

It's been a while since you've heard anything from me here, but since it is not the first time, nor will it be the last, I won't waste time apologizing and just get on writing a post!

In defense of this very long, slightly dis-jointed post --> this is the reason I haven't posted in a while.  This post HAD to be written before I could write anything else (you bloggers know what I'm talking about) and the amount of time and energy that had to be put forth to write this couldn't be justified.  Then.....well......when your car breaks an axle and you are stuck in the Fresno area getting it fixed,  the opportunity to spend 2 uninterrupted hours presents itself!!!!!

The picture I posted was me inserting an acupuncture needle into the top of my head, in a location that is suppose to be known for it's calming effect.  It worked!!!!! What does this have to do with vetmed?  Let me explain.

In the last 6-8 months I've had a bit of a crisis, similar to what I imagine people go through when they talk about a "crisis of faith" or "losing their religion" (although mine is safely intact, thank you very much).  You see, I've been a huge proponent of "evidence-based medicine" and of science, and tested hypothesis', and things that can be explained.

And then something happened.  The more I learn about medicine, which I love (or at least thought I did), the more dissolutioned I was.  The deficiency of western medicine and how much we really know, and how effective it really is, and what the majority of work and research is really focused on became more and more apparent the more I studied and the longer I stayed in school.  I started to find myself wondering what I was doing in vet school in the first place.  The areas I was the most interested in --> nutrition, behavior, and prevantative medicine --> seem to be the weakest, least understood, (yet paradoxically the most "opinionated" sectors) of vet medicine.

I've never seen myself as the physician of the sick; rather, I was the doctor that would insure that my geriatric patients lived happy, full, comfortable lives.  That through nutrition, environment, behavior, preventative medicine, and taking a whole-animal approach that included substantial owner education, my "clients" (which include both the animal and the human equally) would fulfill their purpose to the fullest, whether that was as a companion, service, performance, or food-chain animal.

However, that didn't seem to be the model that veterinary science was built on, at least, not the "evidence-based" clinical portion that is emphasized in my school curriculum. 

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have an extremely hard time living and acting and caring about something that conflicts with what my values and core beliefs are.  I started to wonder whether vet school was actually the right decision for me and my career.  Several times over my "career life" I've switched to a different emphasis mid-stream (although always animal/agriculturally related), which always turned out for the best.  Maybe this was one of those times?  Maybe I should have gotten my PhD instead?  Maybe my calling WAS to be barefoot and pregnant and a stay-at-home mom that sent the kids to school, did housework, and didn't have to contemplate issues of life and death and health and trying to make a mark on the world through animal health?

As you might imagine it's very hard to excel in school (much less find the energy for regular blog posts) when you are reevaluating your veterinary world view (is "evidence-based" medicine the only thing there is?); whether the time, money, and frustration of going to vet school is worth it (remember, 250K debt!!!!!); and feeling trapped (I HATE feeling trapped in my career.  I like leaving lots and lots of options open, and I thought by going to vet school I would have MORE options, and feel LESS trapped).

Fortunately a couple of things have happened in the last couple weeks that have put me back on track.

1.  I've started to look into Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a supplement to the western style medicine being taught in school.  (Notice the word is SUPPLEMENT, not replace).  It might not be evidence based but I'm more and more impressed how well TCM explains pathologic processes that can occur in the body, how it addresses the WHOLE health of the animal, and how it focuses on maintaining health and wellness by a whole-life approach that emphasizes balance and actions and environment.  I went from total skeptic when I started vet school, to curious by the halfway point of my first year, to actually wanting to incorporate TCM into any medicine I practice in the first part of my second year.  The turning point was attending a lecture by a veterinarian on acupuncture, where I got to self-needle myself and actually spent time trying to understand the TCM approach as something beyond the "cookbook" (pain here, needle here etc.) and more a a philosophy and approach.

When I started vet school, as part of the orientation, my classmates and I all took the Myers-Brigg Test, which helps you understand yourself is supposed to bring greater understanding to how diversity is a good thing in groups, and to lessen the frusteration experienced in group work by understanding how your peers might be different or the same as you.

To no one's surprise (including my own --> I've taken the test several times over the years) I tested as an ISTJ.  As did most of my class.

Good!!!!!!!  Right?  I should be able to relate to the majority of my classmates, and testing the same as everyone else means that I'm in the right spot right??????????  For the first time in my life I felt like I was surrounded by people like me.

And then, as time went on, the same thing happened that always does......except for a small group of friends, I set myself apart.  I found I didn't relate well to my classmates and their attention to detail and lack of a big picture overview and attention to the body line frustrated me.  The lack of importance and meaning to anything I was doing started to wear on me.

Warning - the italicized portion below is  bit of a whiny rant.  Skip if if you would like.

While my classmates were excited about a change giving us an extra 6 months (for 18 months total) in clinics and in the VMTH, I dreaded it.  Yet more time required to be spent in the "service" of a bureaucracy in no-man's land where you are expected to act as if you have responsibility of cases while in reality you aren't an employee, are not covered by workman's comp if you get hurt, aren't getting paid (and in fact, are paying for the privilege), and get to do all the sh*t work by doing all the paperwork-records-client communications-being on call-working late etc. under some pretense that it will make me a better vet because apparently every vet student's ambition is to define their entire lives by their work, spend too many hours in the clinic, get a divorce, and work until they are in their 70's to pay off their student loans.  I'm more than happy to do sh*t work that matters, I'm just not convinced that what I'll be allowed to do in the hospital qualifies.

I already have a work ethic

I already had a job(s) that I worked every holiday and weekend

I already had a job that required me to be on call 24 hours a day.

And guess what.  In those jobs I had real responsibility.  What I did mattered.  I got paid.  I went home at night knowing that what I did made the world a better place.  I'm almost 30 and this is my second career.  I'm not going to accept a job out of college that doesn't allow me to have some sort of life outside of work, even if that means I work part time. While the actual tasks such as client communications and records and working through stress and fatigue are important skills, I'm not sure that pushing my body, mind, and spirit to the limit for 18 months is going to necessarily make me a better vet.  In fact I think that it will make me a rather unhappy person, whose family life is strained, who makes more mistakes --> something that isn't fair for the client, patient or vet. 

Not to mention that there was a little voice in the back of my head that wondered what the business decision was for this?  I'm not so niave to think that they were adding 6 months to the clinic rotations just for our benefit.  The VMTH is a business and decisions like this are often made for the benefit of the business as a whole and not necessarily for the individuals.  Cynically, I know.  But considering that my main emphasis is NOT to be a clinician, the prospect of spending 50% more time in that setting was horrifying --> not to mention "working" for an employer that I did not share many of my values and beliefs with that was going to require me to "smile and nod" --> something I do NOT do well.   

At the TCM lecture we all took a personality test that told us what our dominant "element" was.

That was the beginning of the change for me.

Turns out I tested as a "wood".  Most vet students are "metal".  There's a huge difference in those personalities and I won't go into it here, but basically it explains a LOT about my personality and how I function in groups and big corporations. The realization that there was more than one way to put people and things in this world into boxes and to be able to finally be able to point to something and say "THAT'S why I'm so different from the other ISTJ's in this class" was so relieving.  It wasn't that I didn't belong here, it was that to feel fulfilled, I needed different needs met than a lot of my classmates.

So much of of the TCM made sense, from how "wood"'s tend to be irritable and grumpy because of how they feel and interact with the world, to how they categorize different animal personalities and how they change throughout their life cycle --> that it made me willing to try and understand some of the other parts of TCM that were less intuitive.

In summary (because I could go on and on and on......) TCM gives me a concrete thing that I can hold onto as I'm learning about western medicine and being in clinics that gives me hope about medicine, clincial medicine, and my future as a vet.

2.  This post is getting WAY too long so I'm just briefly going to touch on some of the other things that have me excited about school again.  I found a subject in school I can be REALLY excited about --> reproduction.  Which is ironic because I've avoided it for a lot of years, thinking I hated it.  Yes, you still deal with dysfunction, but I think the values and goals of reproduction match my core beliefs a lot better than many of the other veterinary medicine "subcategories" and I'm having a BLAST.  It's very food animal oriented, but still technical, etc.  Don't have time to go into everything right now, but the bottom line is that I could totally be a reproduction specialist and be happy with life.

3.  I toured a food animal processing plant yesterday and it was my first time back in a plant since leaving Foster Farms a 1 1/2 years ago.  I felt good to feel comfortable again.  Really really good.  Like I was in my element.  I was interested, engaged.  I remembered how GOOD I was at my job/career before vet school.  It's been a while since I felt that COMPETENT.  That feeling that I was the best I could be and I was damn good, and other people recognized that I was good.  I'm not sure that I'll go back to that industry sector, but it was gratifying to realize that I still "have" it, that I could easily walk back into my old role and do awesome things.  The freedom and reassurance that yes, I can still be exceptional, was incredibly....I don't have the words for it.  It gave me my confidence back. I need to be careful that I don't fall back on something just because it's comfortable, but in this economy I'm still employable and I still have options.

4.  Although I've talked about getting my PhD, and doing some sort of food safety research, I wasn't super excited.  My frustration at school and seeing a PhD as the only way I could see myself being successful meant I felt trapped.......which meant I overally excited about it (Trapped = BAD for Melinda's mental health).  Much better to feel like I have options and choices and free will.  After realizing that the food processing industry is still an option, OR a western/eastern approach to clinical medicine, OR a PhD, OR reproduction......I'm much more excited about the PhD or wherever this career takes me.  :)

5.  I'm learning to be flexible.  Whether it's cancelling an endurance ride at the last minute, or deciding to go at the last minute, or being spontaneous and visiting family, or cancelling my run because I'm not feeling well, or going running just because I feel like it, or having 5 5 year plans instead of 1, or.......the point is I'm learning to have less plans, less lists, and less goals.  Since realizing that the trick to accomplishing more is to schedule less and stay flexible, rather than holding myself to a stricter and stricter standard I'm healthier, happier, and stronger.

And thus ends my rather long and rambling post.  Hopefully there's a gem or two that you can glean through this and I've introduced concepts here that will probably be brought up again.  Thank you for joining me on this journey!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Oh so cool!

and I'm not referring to the fact that it's POURING right now and there's cuddly, napping pups and kitties on the porch along with me and Martin.

What the heck am I doing and what does it have to do with vetmed???????

Monday, October 29, 2012


This is a short post and not necessarily a happy post.  However, as you are my dear Reader, I want to include you in the happenings of my horsey and endurance life both for the better and the worse.

I'm cancelling my attendance at Lake Sonoma this weekend.  I really really really want to go.  However, over the past couple of days I've started to feel more and more overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I need to get done before Monday's test and today, after feeling a bit depressed this afternoon and completely discouraged about my performance in school, I've decided that these feelings are feedback from my body telling me that I need to slow down and take something off my plate. 

An additional stressor is that by missing Friday, I was going to miss the presentation of a group project, something that my small group was OK with, but with a test on Monday covering the group topics, and 2-3 lectures that same day, AND already feeling behind and needing every hour I have this weekend to stay up on the material, it was hard to think that I could trailer somewhere without electricity for over 48 hours and lose that time.  

That something unfortunately, is my LD this weekend.  Which means likely my season is over for 2012 :(.  I'll try to get in lots of good conditioning rides over the winter, including some "home LD's" so that we can start the 2013 in good form ready for a 50. 

As a consolation prize, I'll run in the Clarksburg half marathon Veteran's day weekend and trailer Farley out for a conditioning ride sometime this month. 

But for right now I'm going to focus on my studying, my health, and getting myself and Farley in kickass shape here at home. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

The rest of the story

I found the perfect way to have your horse under 60 criteria while being able to gallop into camp! Tack up a horse in an English saddle after they have bolted on a lead line twice while tacking, after several days of rain and a week of no riding, on a cold windy afternoon during her regular dinner time.

Then go out onto the trail, decide that you are cold so a bit of collected cantering would be fine instead of the trotting you had planned. While doing so, fuss with your new to you saddle cover and admire how well it fits the saddle, how comfy it nice crocs are to ride in....what a strange picture you must make with a helmet, expensive full seat breeches (also given to me thank goodness!) and.......crocs.

In fact, lean forward a bit in order to better admire the esemble from the saddle......and promptly be ejected from the saddle.

Well. It was a less of an ejection and more of a stop, buck (Farley doesn't do those bolting full run bucks, that would be too much work), grab mane and neck as I slide over the shoulder, land on my feet, have Farley rip the reins out of my hands and knock me down to my knees.

Ever the thoughtful pony, Farley came over, made sure I could get up and was fine before bolting away at high speed for the rest of the loop.

Without me.

I had a brief discussion with myself of whether I should walk or run.

1. I wasnt going to beat her to the stable or wherever she was headed

2. If I did have to deal with an emergency, me being sweaty, breathing hard, and full of adrenaline wasnt going to help.

So I walked. I took a short cut through the loop, arrived back on the main trail and was IMMEDIATLEY distracted by hoof prints,


So I did what any sane person would do in this situation and took picture.

I noticed the differences between hind and front, what gait she was travelling at, and how she navigated the terrain. I noticed how the physics of each foot translated to force on the ground and what lead she was choosing.

I either did this to

A. Distract me from the various possibilities that could have befallen her that could leave me horseless.

B. because I kept forgetting I wasn't at a ride and tie

C. Because I'm a crazy person

D. Because barefoot horses are fascinating

E. I felt like giggling -- Farley finally was the most naughty pony ever and it seemed saner to spend the walk looking at hoof prints instead of laughing at how absurd the situation was.











Thursday, October 25, 2012

Boy do I have a story for you!

Oh my dear I have a story for you!

If you can imagine a fitness diary for today it might say the following:

Melinda: warm up, 15 minutes trot/canter, 20 minutes walk
Farley: warm up, 15 minutes trot/canter, 10 minutes gallop, cool down

Ah yes.  Me and Farley parted ways rather....errr....spontaneously today and I got the rare opportunity to reflect on my sins (and remind myself that this was NOT a ride and tie and my horse would NOT be waiting for me next to a tree just around the corner...) as I trudged through the underbrush in a short cut to attempt to shorten my walk to something a bit less than the loop that Farley was concurrently galloping. 

All of a sudden, I emerged onto the trail that Farley had shortly passed before and saw.......hoof prints. 

What's so fascinating about hoof prints you say?  Tune in tomorrow to find out!!!!!! 

Why not just write the post right NOW, the dear reader says while stamping their dear little feet? 

Because I have three dog costumes to come up with tonight for tomorrow's contest and a white dog to dye green. 

So, dear reader, since I know what a sacrifice it will be to wait a mere 16 hours to hear the "rest of the story", I will give you this tantalizing detail --> it shall be told in pictures.  With captions.  and arrows.  And colorful squigglies. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Blah blah blah

First rain of the season and not much to report except it wasn't just a little shower like I had thought it would be. 

Tried running today for the first time since the ride and tie (sprained my ankle) and while it felt OK, I decided not to do the speed run I had originally planned and just do an easy run.  I ended up turning back midway through the run since I was feeling twinges from it again, after the original warm up.  So not quite ready to hit the trails just yet.

Farley feels good and I'm officially registered for Lake Sonoma.  Just under 2 weeks.  If the weather is bad, I won't ride.  Sonoma will be my last ride of the season, whether it happens or not.  Would love to do Desert Gold but family-wise it won't work out to do so many events so close together (not just endurance, but I'm also doing road races, ride and tie, etc. and missing Thanksgiving would NOT be kosher).

Sorry this post is less than entertaining --> check out Tess's blog for a bit of morning entertainment!  New block starts today, and along with the rain I just don't feel like putting the time and effort into a good, entertaining post, and I refuse to waste on of my wonderful topics I have pending. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

First Ride and Tie

First, let’s clearly outline what are the major differences are between RnT and endurance
1.  You get dirtier in Ride and tie.  Much much much dirtier. I have very white legs.  This is not a tan.

2.  If you've ever felt out of place among all those fancy rigs that seem to be more and more the norm at an endurance'll fit right in at RnT

3. You aren't as sore after a RnT.  At least I wasn't - I'm feeling remarkably good, even considering I sprained my ankle yesterday which brings me to...

4. War wounds are the norm at RnT....

5. You're done before lunch, have time to drink 2 beers before lunch, eat heartily and still have plenty of time to drive home.

6. No one can say the horse is doing all the work

7. Galloping and cantering into camp is totally acceptable.

8.  No one asks you if something is wrong when they come up behind you on horse back running all by yourself.

9.  There's lots and lots and lots of yummy people food snacks on the tables for us hard working runners!!!!!  And the water trough on the trail including a table full of snacks and gatorade that was more reminiscent of a trail race or marathon.

10.  Everything is less work with 2 people and 1 horse.....

11.  Every thing that can rub will rub.  Even if it's never rubbed before.  I practically bathed myself in chamois anti chafing lotion at the vet check.

12.  Make sure you can mount and dismount from both sides in a COORDINATED fashion, while the horse is walking/trotting off, under PRESSURE, after sprinting up a hill. first couple of mounts from the right side felt like some weird form of trick riding.  In some cases, only my upper arm strength that I've been working on kept me on the side of the horse, semi on top as we trotted away as I tried to convince my left leg that it could swing up just as well right leg when mounting from the other side!

Everything started well.  I got to M*'s house on time, helped load stuff into the truck and fed the rest of the animals.  Stasi had been bathed, groomed, and fed and ready to go.

The trip over was uneventful --> M* went to check in and set up the horse trailer for Stasi, and my bedroll for the night.

When it came for numbers we dug around in the chalk box for a green grease pen because we were "Team Lettuce" and decided to do a little decorating, because we were actually "Team Poo on Lettuce" and of course, what do I do when told I can go hog-wild?  Draw this of course:

Because I have the most awesome partner she knew what it was.  Do you?

I finished off 2 beers and headed off to bed.  I asked M* whether Stasi needed a refill on his hay bag for the night, and we both looked at his errr....pudge and she said that he had been eating all day and did NOT need more hay.

So we went to bed.

Stasi took issue with this decision.  At almost 20 years old and being EXTREMELY experienced at this RnT thing, he knew how the game worked.  He gets unlimited hay.  Then he carries his riders through the course as fast as he possibly can while standing quietly at trees and bushes waiting for the next exchange.  The cost of this little game is unlimited hay.  And some grain.

At 11 pm Stasi decided to remind us that we had "forgotten" his night ration of hay.


"What the".....I did a chin up to the top opening of the trailer and didn't see Stasi.  I ran outside.  No horse.

I ran to the back of the truck and tried to wake up M*.

M*!  M*!

No answer.  I started poking at blankets only to see her walk towards me with Stasi.

Stasi was returned to the trailer, given a new lead rope, and a full ration of hay.

 I got up around 7pm and wandered around making coffee.  Ride meeting was at 7:45, Ride start at 8:30.  The plan was to take Stasi up at 7:30, go to the ride meeting, and then change into our riding gear, etc.

 We went up to the main area and munched on good things, ignored the begging Tess and checked our watches.

As usual it seemed like the ride meeting was going to start late.

 Then ride management shouted that they were changing the ride meeting to 8:15.  CRAP!!!!!  By this time it was only a couple minutes before 8:00am.

NOT enough time to now dress, bathroom break, make the camp ready for us to go on trail, and pack the saddle.  #$@!#@@##$$%^^$#

We tried our best, but also didn't want to hurry to the point where we forgot something vital. It had been a couple of years since M* had done a ride and tie and this was my first one.  It was worth the time to make sure that everything went right. 

This is a picture of the start.  If you look very will see we aren't there. 

We started about 3-5 minutes late.  In endurance terms this would be "typical" for me, knowing I could make up the lost time.  In Ride and Tie terms, this was time that could not be made up, and probably cost us a placing or two at the end of the race. 

The first 9 mile loop is a blur.  Considering that my 10 mile PR on a flat course is about 1:42, and we did this 9 mile hilly and rock loop in 0:57, you can see that we were FLYING.  I ran as hard and fast as I could, and we I got to Stasi, I cantered and galloped before handing off to M*.  About 3/4 into the loop I was dismounting and my left food came down on a large rock and I twisted it.  Badly.  *&(*^&^%^&(()@!!!@@!@.  As long as I landed perfectly centered on my ankle, there wasn't pain, but that was a neat trick as I catapulted along uneven dirt and rocky trail. 

I galloped into ride camp --> only 4 miles left.  No hold, just a vet check.  We were allowed to tie to a trailer at the check (usually only natural objects allowed) and I sponged, water, fed as I waited for M* to run in.  When she came in I grabbed her water bottles and mine, refilled and then hit the trail at a dead run. 

If Stasi got pulled, M* would send word with another rider and when they caught up to me, they would tell me and I would turn back. 

I ran for what seemed a really really long time.  It's not very motivating knowing there isn't a horse in front of you.  And I didn't see anyone else and we didn't know where we were in the pack that was doing the 14 miler so it was entirely possible I was going to do the whole stinkin' 4 mile loop all by myself. 

Fortunately Stasi and M* cantered up behind me and passed me on their way to another tie. 

Again, I don't remember much of the loop, not because we were flying (it took us an hour plus a bit to do this one), but because my ankle hurt, my cardio was maxxed out (usually my strength is what maxes me out going up hill but I've really been focusing on strength training over the last couple of months and cardio was my limiting factor) and was running a constant effort rather than a constant speed or pace. 

Stasi decided that it was time for us to GET GOING and wasn't being very cooperative for M* to tie.  Finally we were near the end.  I decided that we were going to have a picture perfect finish, even if we weren't in the start line photo and cantered up to M* and yelled "let's finish together"! 

Well...the sentiment was there.  Stasi was having no part of this and to my dismay we kept right on going past the in timers.  DARN IT.  I was at LEAST going to turn around and WATCH my partner finish!!!!!!

Stasi threw a hissy fit and threatened to buck. 

I made a rude comment. 

Stasi sulked.

I saw M* finish.

I turned to walk him back to the trailer, across the road.

Stasi decided to trot across the pavement. 

I told him in no uncertain terms that we were WALKING and MADE HIM WALK, much like what I DIDN'T do at the end of the race with M*.

Stasi tried to throw a hissy fit and succeeded in tripping and going down....down....down. 

I sat there calmly supporting him with the reins thinking the following thoughts:

1.  Thank God for Aussie saddle poleys
2.  Should I step off?  I'm only like 3 inches off the ground
3.  M* is going to kill me for laming her horse right before the vet in.
4. Serves Stasi right for throwing a hissy fit.

Stasi is super balanced and had never even tripped on me, even cantering down hill so I stayed on and he recovered and looked a bit trite.

When I got back to the trailer, I noticed the tie rope was wrapped around his rein and probably explained why I had a hard time pulling him to a stop, and making him walk.

M* vetted Stasi in, and then we sat down to have yet more beers, while I iced my ankle and contemplated the last couple of hours in which I had had more fun on horse back than I can remember having in a long time.

I love 100's, but if I'm being honest, while there may be moments of fun and enjoyment and peace within the 100, overall the experience kinda hurts.  And there's times of very low motivation.  The reward comes with the accomplishment and the bond with the horse.  RnT is a completely different kind of experience and while my plan is to do at least one more LD with Farley, my thinking is that I would rather do 25 miles of RnT than the LD's, or even 50's.  Just enough 50's to get my 100 in every year or so, and RnT the rest of the time, as long as I'm capable of running.

M* and I sat down and compared battle wounds.  She had a long bloody gash on her arm where Stasi had rubbed her into an errrrrr.....tree (what we agreed the story would be....) during a tie near the end of the race, and I had my stupid ankle. 

The lunch ticket was good for a personal pizza, salad bar, and a drink at a local pizza place which was DELICIOUS. 

After lunch we had some extra time before awards so went to check on Stasi and clean up camp so we could leave right after the ceremony. 

We returned to Stasi napping.

With his nose in the grain bucket.

A subtle hint that he would now like some grain thank-you-very-much. 

(I swear this horse is more like a dog than a horse.  He problem solves.  He attempts to communicate with another species.  He's not people oriented or particular affectionate, just rather a wee bit manipulative.  In short, he sorta reminds me of Tess...).

M* and I placed 6th in a field of 10 teams in the 14 mile distance, all 10 teams finishing within about a 30 minute window.  I got a pin in addition to a cup because it was my first event. 

Now, a day after the race, my ankle feels stiff but much much better.  I think I'll be running on it by the end of the week no problem.  I'm surprisingly not sore at all.  There's a bit of "deadness" in my calves and quads, but not soreness.  I had planned on giving myself the day off, but I find myself on Martin (my walking tread desk) writing this post because I just can't sit down any more and I'm getting fidgity.  I think the LD a month ago, combined with the fast 10 mile running race (both events left me so sore I couldn't walk without wincing for days) set me up very well, not to mention my intervals and strength training.  I think I need to bump up my interval training in both intensity and duration and make a point to get out on the trails for a run once a month. 

The most dangerous part of the sport is probably the mounting.  I almost lost my balance and grip and got dragged during my first mount, and I'm completely covered in bruises from head to toe and every nail is torn and broken on my hands from the 20+ mounts and dismounts that occurred during the race.  Not to mention dashing through the tall weeds and star thistle to GET to the horse and untie it while avoiding branches and brush and manzanita.

CAN'T WAIT TO DO IT AGAIN........Endurance friends who visit me horseless.....expect to get roped into a ride and tie practice if you ever visit :)

No event post would be complete without Brittany pictures!  Here's Tess striking her best Brit poses. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I forgot!!!

With all my doom and gloom of the last post I forgot to say the most exciting part of my week so far!!!!!

Farley is, as of our ride yesterday, as sound as she was before I vaccinated!!!!!

It only took 5 months.  *sigh*.  Definitely going to NSAID her before I do anything for the fall (which includes Rabies --> WAY too many coyotes, skunks, and other critters to skip that one!).

She moved out QUITE nicely on a gravel road at a trot (and tried to buck me off when I asked for a canter) and moved well and soundly on rocky trails for the whole ride.  YEAH!!!!!!!!!!

Speaking about NSAIDs, I have a whole scary pathology post with PICTURES for you on NSAIDs, kidneys, and dehydrated horses.  In a nutshell; DON'T DO IT --> but of course you'll want to tune in for the gore and commentary on another fascinating vetmed tidbit.

Endurance riding on a student budget

It's been....interesting over the last couple of days.

My archived list of topics that I was "getting around to" dissapeared. Bummer.

However, that isn't the worst thing that has happened to me in the last couple of days, so it's sort of "meh".

After doing an update for my wonderful blog readers on Monday, I did several things.

1. I bought a new bike helmet. A fact I didn't share when talking about my helmet situation was that I haven't been wearing a helmet while biking for the past 6 months. If you had asked me why, I wouldn't have been able to tell you -> I had my helmet with me, it wasn't that uncomfortable, I don't mind helmet hair, and I believe in helmets. But inexplictadly I stopped wearing it. During the ride and tie helmet debate I took a hard look at my bike helmet. In addition to the problem with the harness, and the padding, the visor fell off randomly, Tess had gotten ahold of it at some point in her puppyhood (we are pretending she's out of puppyhood right now....), and it was starting to show signs of sun damage, the straps were scratchy and show wear of UV damage. OK --> there's some evidence that I should replace my bike helmet, even though it was only 4 years old (I typically replace helmets after 5 years. I went into the bike store and decided regardless of price I would buy the helmet that felt the best. One thing I've learned from the equestrian world is I don't even think twice about wearing my helmet and actually feel pleasure in putting on a well fitting, comfortable helmet. My bike helmet needs to feel the same way, paying $100 for something I will wear, rather than paying $70 for a helmet that will spend lots of time in my back seat. I absolutely LOVE my new helmet with it's comfort and fit. I am going to wear it in the ride and tie. If I didn't trust the horse I was riding, I would wear an equestrian helmet, however in the list of "bad things happening" probabilities, heat exhaustion and dehydration ranks higher than my probability of falling off this particular horse. Ride and tie helmet problem solved. Good thing I bought this early in the day on Monday since I probably would still be moaning about not having a suitable solution if I had waited, since events occurring later that day would not be conducive to a helmet splurge.... New bike helmet: $$

2. I paid off my credit card balance from last summer whose 0% was ending since financially I am doing OK (ie - the amount of student loans, scholarships, and job has let me not only pay for books, but ALSO some rides. If I continue to go to meeting strictly for the free food provided and continue to dig through dumpsters for scraps. But I digress). Most of the time, this would not be a fact worthy of the blog....but just stay with me...Credit card paid off: $$$$

3. Took my car in to get the tires rotated. News came back that they were too worn to be rotated. Not good. They are rated for 50K miles, I had put 45K on them. I wondered why they were perfectly fine to be rotated 10K miles ago, but now were too worn, but since I'm not real good at checking my air pressure or rotating them regularly, I took it as my punishment for being a bad-car-person. Tess spent the entire evening convincing me I was the best person in the world by engaging me in puppy play, refusing to let me wallow in my misery. 4 Tires: $$

4. Took my car in the next day (Tuesday) to align my new tires in an attempt to be a better-car-person. After entertaining myself with Tess for an hour waiting for my car to get down, I waltzed happily up to the counter to be told that due to some issues with my car, I would not be able to get my tires aligned unless I spent a chunk of money on my 15 year old car that equalled approximately 1/3 its value. Which doesn't count the new tires I put on it because then it would be a depressing 1/2 of its value. Repairing car: $$$

*sigh*. I do believe that it is the will of God that I never be rich in dollars, nor will I ever have so much money or time that I will be able to compulsively focus on one thing and destroy my mental and physical health by doing so. Bummer. Talk about bad timing on items 1 and 2!

Farley is ready to do another LD at the beginning of November. I took her out for 2.5 hours with a friend and did a half way decent conditioning ride (the type of ride where you spend so much time visiting and talking and laughing that it's a little less focused, slower than a typical conditioning ride, but somehow you don't care because if you can't enjoy a ride where your horse is a bit stupid and the company is too good to be true, then why do this sport?), and she's ready. It was a tougher ride with her - she's a fuzzy teddy bear right now, and I rode her barefoot over some pretty rocky trail and I think she was annoyed at the end at my tendency to insist that "trot" meant "get your ass in gear" and was not a "suggestion" (but that was OK because I was annoyed that she interpreted every cut log as a horse eating monster.....). I'm still messing with my stirrups and leathers but my saddle seems good to go.

How does this relate?

ummmm....endurance rides cost $-$$. November's ride is a couple hours away, so it's definitely in that $$ range.

AHHHHHH!!!!!!! Quit my salaried job and live off of loans? WHAT WAS I THINKING???????????????

Ok....ok....focusing. How can I have both the bird in the hand and the bird in the bush?

What is this I see? A burned out Corolla on the property that is the same model year as mine???? Mmmmm...I wonder what THAT car's control arms and bearings look like? My parents would never notice a control arm missing....I digress...

Time to do a little college student endurance math

Let's say I only replace the bearing (safety issue) and don't fix the alignment issue or the alignment. I lose $200 worth of tires until I can get those issues fixed. (I thought about commuting in my truck for a couple of months but since this is less than 2 tanks of gas in my truck......I'm thinking that this makes less sense than me trying to figure out how to skimp on my commuting vehicle in order to ride 25 miles on my horse.....). Voila! November LD possible! Call it an early xmas/birthday present. Call it an advance on my Spring Semester student loans. Call it whatever you want but most importantly we will call it "Melinda and Farley get to do another LD before the weather turns sucky and dark".

Lets analyze the benefits:

1. I get to ride an LD

2. The car probably won't kill me, even if I wait a couple months to fix any of the issues

3. Another financial aid check comes in january

4. I will be happier

5. Tess will still love me even if I'm poor and officially driving a beater car

6. Putting off car repairs is so unlike me that it's almost worth it to do this exercise purely for the purpose of self growth (OK, I may be reaching with this one).


And now the costs

1. I might lose $200 in tires

2. Matt will think I'm insane for creative math that involves putting off car maintenance so I can ride 25 miles in the November.


I think the logical thing to do is clear....

Monday, October 8, 2012

Shoe update and ride and tie thoughts and whatever else is on my mind

Any guesses of whether I'm in class or not? (Fwiw I am waiting for the pathology book to update so I'm just typing this out while I'm waiting. So please don't be too hard on me! Plus I just finished a midterm...

When I bought these shoes the company rep was there and she said I could just throw them in the washer when they got dirty and they would come out as good as new. She was right!!! They were filthy from ride and tie practice and the ld ride when I wandered through a couple of creeks and they were so dirty I was worried that it was going to cause irritation on my feet! Good as new, and yes, my fancy laces stayed on during the washing.

My first ride and tie is Saturday!!! Had a practice last Thursday that went really really well! I finally got a taste of how it feels when it works!!! I have a small problem that is a large problem. I'm having helmet problems. I can't wear any of my equestrian helmets because I'll die of heat stroke and probably get a migraine. Just not going to happen. My compromise was a bike helmet. However....the bike helmet is not proving to be comfortable for any length of time. The plastic harness is misshapened and creates pressure spots on my head that really hurt, and the padding breaks down with my sweat, AND it won't stay in place as I run and canter (apparently there's not a lot of bouncing in biking...).

I'm this close to slapping the Mohawk on a baseball cap and calling it good.

Yes, I know that is probably the wrong choice. And irresponsible. And everything else you can throw at me.

If there was a worse role model for young equestrians than endurance riders, it would probably be ride and tie people..

I suppose I could go to a bike store and see what my other options might be in a bike helmet. I know there's nothing in the equestrian world that is going to be near my budget.

I could also cover the inside of my bike helmet with panty liners.

That's what it seems to always come down to huh? Feminine products.

Maybe we should just warn newbies --> there's a FUD for urination, pads for bandages, tampons for bloody noses, and panty liners for various helmet fixes. Not to mention discussions of the virtues of going commando (or not). Should endurance bloggers really be suprised that our blogs seem to come with a certain amount of "adult spam"?

so.....anyways......I have a problem. I don't use pads, tampons, OR panty liners. (if you are feeling brave, google "diva cup" and be welcomed into the brave new world). Thus I rely on donations from friends.

Now, the problem isn't that I'm squeamish about asking, after all who knows who is reading problem is that all my endurance friends and sisters are long distance. Do how does one bring this up in casual discussion among the friends I DO see every day? For people that see blood on a daily basis, vet students can be a squeamish bunch - something I do understand as I'll clean up Tess vomit without blinking early in the morning, but the mere sight of someone retching leaves me running for the nearest toilet.

Do I post on the face book page that I'm in need of some "supplies" and see how many people think I'm talking about drugs?


I post on my blog and wait to see how many of my friends read my blog, and wait for "presents" to show up in my school mail box....hint hint hint.