Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sports Highlights

Zydeco and I entered our first show today. We went with my coach's daughter who was riding Stetson. The intention was to compete in a class in equitation, and two dressage tests. Zydo put up quite a fuss about getting into the trailer, such that I leaned up against the truck, plugged my ears with my thumbs and covered my eyes with my hands.

We arrived too late to enter into my equitation class because of the fit that Zydo had over loading. We (and by we, I mean everyone who went to the show EXCEPT me) spent close to forty five minutes fighting with him. Eventually, we (my father, my mother, and my coach) won the battle and were on the road.

Once we arrived at the show, Zydo spun out of the trailer and commenced conversing with every horse there. He called, he howled, he screeched. He tossed his head, he skittered, and at 8:05 a.m, I was ready to tie him to the trailer and be a simple observer of the festivities.

We got to the warm-up arena and my nerves nearly got the best of me. At that point, I said to my father "Put me on the damn horse. NOW." and without missing a beat, he grabbed hold of my left leg and tossed me swiftly into the saddle.

The first warm-up was something else. Zydo skittered about the arena, popping his nose out the open walls, spooking at umbrellas outdoors, and generally being a pill. I made my best effort to keep it together and eventually he settled down. We took a quick fifteen minute break, and then headed back to the warmup ring to have another go and calming his (my?) nerves. Since we missed the first class, I just did extra work with him in the arena.

I rode my first dressage test on time and in good spirits. About five minutes into my warmup, I realized that OH MY WORD, I was at a SHOW with my HORSE. After that, elation set in and stayed with me the rest of the day.

I thought I had done fairly well when I left the ring. We walked out, all smiles and WHHHEEEEE! We did it! Then I had time to cool him out, pee, and hop back on for my second test.

The second test was somewhat worse than the first. I actually went off-course while I was riding. I lost points there, which surprised me because I was under the impression that going off-course was a disqualifier and that I wouldn't be counted for scoring in that test.

I spent the day feeling genuinely pleased with myself because I had overcome the morning's fears and actually gotten on my horse. He was beautiful beyond words. He is in great shape, he's well-muscled, he's not sore on his bad knee... And I was riding him for all the world to see.

We waited after the second test for our scores for what felt like hours. All I wanted at that point was to get a ribbon, any ribbon at all. I wanted someone to believe that my wonderful, gorgeous Thoroughbred deserved a piece of silk to wear in his bridle at the end of the day. The ribbons went all the way to tenth place, and there were fourteen people entered in the classes I was in. I waited on my horse, feeling perfectly at ease and begging the Universe to please, please give me a ribbon.

The woman with the scoring sheet eventually came out carrying ribbons, and my heart soared because I was so hopeful one of them was for me. I was baffled when she held out two, because I thought that I hadn't even qualified for two ribbons.

And then she handed me a first and a second place ribbon along with my scoring sheets.

I scored first place in my first dressage test, and second place in my second dressage test. I was sort of speechless and then she handed me something else: A prize for having the top adult score in my division.

I've spent the rest of the day in a sort of semi-speechless reverie: I went to a show that started out disastrously; I got on the horse when the last thing I wanted to do was even be near him; I rode him through a warm-up ring that he was scared of.

And all I really wanted all day was ANY ribbon. And now I'm sitting at home admiring my first and second place ribbon and I am absolutely stunned.

And so very, very thrilled to own the most wonderful Chestnut Thoroughbred in the world.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I've recently acquired a new job, one that I'm not entirely sure of, but that I'm going to embrace nonetheless.

The switch has been some time in coming. I'm not sure if I can pinpoint exactly what it is that made me want to look for something new, but the time came and a new job was found.

I've been working for the past year in a residence for teenage boys with behavioural difficulties. I want to say that I've changed or even altered lives, that I've made a difference for people who need help, and that I've done positive, productive things. But mostly as the days go by, I feel more and more like The Enemy, and I don't think I can do that for very long.

And after a year, I'm not sure that I've made it to where I want to be or to what I want to be doing.

Part of me is devastated to be leaving behind the people that I've met and cared for in this time. Part of me wants to just leave and never look back.

And that is the trouble with the field of working with people: You get emotionally attached no matter how hard you try not to. You're in the middle of people's lives, and leaving work at work becomes next to impossible. I try to centre my life around my horse and my family, and still: other people and their troubles are on my mind.

One of my co-workers asked me what I was planning on doing next, and I said that I'm giving it one more shot and then heading off on a cruise ship to sling beer. She laughed when I said that, as though I was joking.

If this doesn't work out, though, I'm really not sure what is next because I've just spent five years and a large sum of money coming into this field.

I just hope it works out into something that I can manage and see myself doing for a long time to come. I'm thinking positive thoughts and hoping for the best.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

No, For Real this Time...

We're going to a show.

The last time Zydeco and I were going to a show, he made a valiant effort to end his life. So, SHHHHHH. We're not telling him. I've specifically told my mother and my coach to not mention the word SHOW near the horse. For the love of God, let him remain alive until we make it to the 28th of September.

Zydo and I have switched majors, so to speak, since my magnificent falls off of horses. (Neither were actually magnificent or falls. They were actually just gentle tumbles. One was even in slow motion. Sigh.)

At any rate, we are hoping to arrive at the 28th of September without any major open wounds or loss of limb.

The show is a dressage show, one that is not Zydeco's favorite discipline, nor is it my strength. Dressage requires concentration and actual riding ability, neither of which I have.

Regardless, I am thrilled to be taking the wondrous and amazing Zydeco out for the world to see.

Hopefully I don't end up with grass stains on my butt and tears on my face.

The object of the exercise is to remain with one leg on either side of the horse. (So saith the great Ian Millar.)

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Monday, September 08, 2008

The Number One Thing...

I ran into a family friend the other day. We had just finished lunch with my Grandmother, and he was sitting at a booth near the exit.

My mother and I stopped to say Hello, and I got the odd, creepy feeling that he was checking me out. My right hand was in my pocket, and my left hand was holding the strap of my purse over my shoulder.

He was looking from my right hand to my left, and I was feeling very, very unnerved by the situation. I mean, the guy is the same age as my mother.

As it turns out, he was NOT checking me out. He was examining my hands for rings. He gave my left hand a final nod and stated: "Still not married yet, eh?"

WELL. For your information, NO. I am not MARRIED.

Nor have I even been on a date over the last six months.

I am the unmarried, dateless, boobless wonder, and I live with my parents, working a job that is sure to lead me nowhere and a student debt load I have no hope of paying off.


Ahhhh, life as a single person. How I love thee.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Now That I Can Speak of It Without Weeping Inconsolably...

Zydeco is completely back to his old self again, living happily at my coach's farm for the month of September.

I am still lost as to what caused his injury. My mother and coach admitted to me that the day they moved him back home, they thought his time with us was through. I still have to cry a little bit when I type that.

He cut himself when one of his shoes came lose and a nail nicked his ankle. That injury in and of itself was not dangerous, and we treated it and moved on. Several days later, his ankle had swollen up considerably. We walked him gently to keep the circulation, and examinted the injury to find that it had grown to over two inches in diametre. A few days later he was fine, showing no signs of soreness, and was well enough to be taken over fences a week before what should have been my first show.

Two days later he was so lame he could not walk. His ankle had swollen up and he had something called Proud Flesh. The looks of it were horrific. I left him that Saturday in tears, because he was holding his foot up in the air, refusing to put weight on it and moaning.

My coach attempted to bandage the injury, but Zydo is bad with bandages, chewing them and rolling them up on his leg. This caused the amount of swelling to skyrocket, and his foot and ankle blew up to three times their normal size. She called me and said he needed to come home, and here he arrived.

He hobbled off the trailer and when I took the bandage off of him, I almost collapsed completely. MY nephew summed it up quite nicely when he said "Look, Auntie! Zydo's whole leg looks like MEAT!" My father then attempted to bandage him again, which he rolled up and, of course, made it worse again.

The risk with swelling so close to the foot is that the bones in his leg could swell and push right through the bottom of his foot.

This could have caused him to die.

We had to go to secondary measures because removal of the Proud Flesh and pressure bandages was not an option, unless I had been willing to supervise him at all times so that he didn't roll up and chew on his bandages. We used Lime dust to eat away the Proud Flesh, and it worked wonders. Now that it is completely under control, we have been applying Tincture of Benzoine to the injury.

It is now down to being the size of a quarter.

And Zydeco is back to his wonderful old self.

Praise be.