Sunday, July 19, 2015

To Catch Everyone Up on River's Events

Wow.  A spare moment, and the energy to get back to all of you with more of River’s journey.   Those two things haven’t always coincided lately.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been here on River’s blog - I apologize for the lengthy delay in getting back to you,and for the length of this upcoming post.

As you remember, in April my mother fell and broke her leg here at the house.  She underwent surgery to have a plate put in the whole length of her femur, then went to a rehab facility for physical therapy.  She had many ups and downs there,  including a bout with pneumonia (which is usually a death sentence for people her age and in her condition), but, tough bird that she is, she overcame most of those downs.  Unfortunately, she couldnt progress any further in her PT, so she was discharged from the rehab facility.    Due to her many medical issues, I can’t take care of her here at home, so we (my sisters and I) placed her in a facility that we thought was appropriate.  We shortly realized (after a trip to the ER) that it wasn’t.  So, we recently moved her to a wonderful assisted living memory care facility, where she will get the care that she needs in a happy and safe environment.

Im sure many of you have gone through or are going through the same thing with parents - it can be all consuming, to say the least.  One day you are ready for your parent to be in hospice, and the next day they pop up from a seeming death bed and seem fine.  It has been, and continues to be, a real roller coaster, both emotionally and physically, for her, and for us, her children, as well.   

Now, on to River, and what has been happening in her world.   As with all journeys, there is a time when you come to a fork in the road, or a path you didn’t expect to be on, and that is where we are now.   Don’t worry, everything will be fine, but things have taken a different turn since I was last here on this blog.  Let me step back, and fill you in a little.

I am going to give a shortened version (for now) of the last 3 months, then I will go back in upcoming posts to fill in the details.  In April (that sure seems like a LONG time ago) Jessi and I were still doing a lot of ground work with River.  Shortly after my mom’s fall on the 8th, we saddled River, and rode her (with her friend Charlotte’s help, of course).  We rode her in the round pen for awhile, then ventured out to the big arena.  Walk, trot, stop, turn, back up - she never ceased to amaze me with how much she took everything in stride.  Everything was “no big deal”.  She learned to trot over a tarp, and to wear it while walking.  She even gave Dean a “pony” ride.  Both Jessi and I were riding her, and she was great for us both.  I even rode her in the covered arena (no railings) and sat on her while I was giving lessons, demonstrating things like moving off the leg, etc.  

Wearing a Western Saddle for the first time in April

Jessi and River for their first time up in the saddle.  You can see how upset River is - not!

Charlotte and Lauren helping River on her first walk under saddle.

Introduction to the tarp - again, no big deal.

Ta Da!  River and me in the big arena in May.

Trotting in the big arena - a nice listening ear and a soft rein.

Dean and River looking happy and relaxed.

Now for the part where we venture on to a different path.  About 3+ weeks ago, 
I decided to work River early one hot morning before giving lessons and riding other horses who are in training.  I started her out on the ground in the round pen with some unlocking work and moving the different parts of her body.  I got on her in the big arena for a little bit, then went down to the covered arena (as I said it was early, but the heat was already setting in).  I continued to do a lot of work at the walk - unlocking the hind end, serpentining and doing one rein softening techniques.  Some soft stops and backing up, some soft leg yields, etc etc.  She is so incredibly light and smart to ride.  We did a little stretch of trot, some walk, then another bit of trot.   She started to slow down to walk, but I wanted to trot some more.  I gave a little cluck, and a light touch with my calves, and…….. I know what happened, but I wish I could tell you why - the next thing I knew, I was on the ground.  She bucked me off - hard!  I haven’t come off a horse in 14 years - I typically know all the signs that lead up to any problem - but I must have missed this one.  I hit the ground hard on my back, and without going into much detail about the dogs licking my face to help their mom who is unexpectedly on the ground, or about me almost passing out, or the fact the I was alone and my sister was out dragging pastures……..let me tell you - it hurt.  I took my time assessing my owies, and poor River stood in the arena with the bridle off one ear, the bit out of her mouth, and the reins hanging to the ground.  She was afraid to move, and when I pulled myself back together (after getting on my hands and knees and facing Mecca with my head down to the ground so I would’t pass out!), I called her name and she turned towards me, but was still afraid to move.  I eventually got up, put the bridle back on her, and limped up to the barn.  I didn’t go to the Dr, but I’m 99.9% sure I cracked my sacrum, and I’m finally not hurting between my shoulder blades. Ladies like me in their 60s shouldn’t hit the ground like that anymore, so here is where the next chapter of River’s journey is going…………..

After doing some soul searching, I decided that maybe I missed something in River’s training - I don’t know what - but she’s such a sweet and willing being that I can’t believe that she would buck like that for no reason.  So, I’ve decided to send her to another trainer for awhile to see what they can do.   And, nothing but the best for River, she is going to go to Tina Cornish and Dan Gunter at Pine Creek Ranch.  If you don’t know them, they have been responsible for years for putting on Buck Brannaman clinics in the Chico area, and have been following him and his techniques for quite awhile.  They specialize in starting horses and in working with troubled horses.  They will take her and re-start her to see what is going on - what I might have missed.  I have seen them at work, and they are wonderful.  

This next week Jessi and I need to bump up the timing on something we’ve known we needed to do - get River back into a trailer.  I’m not looking at that being a big problem, because River knows and trusts us so much, compared to when we first picked her up at Safe Haven Horse Rescue in February. We will take her up to Chico in about a week and a half, and she will start her stint at “boarding school”.  It’s hard to let go of her, but I feel it is best for her and for us. I’m not afraid to swallow my pride and ask for help when needed, and I feel confident that Tina and Dan can offer that help.  I hope to get up there (it’s about 2 or so hours from here) to see and photograph her progress.

There is so much more to tell -  but this post has already been way too long.  One important event that I want to write about soon is meeting River’s mother - Mama G - at All About Equine.  Yes!  I met her mother - she is as sweet as River, and looking for her forever home as well.  

Does she look like River, or what?

Dean and Mama G

I will not be such a stranger to this blog.  I hope to write 2 - 3 times a week now to catch everyone up on the details, and to write about things to come as well.  Know that I will do whatever it takes to make RIver’s story have a happy ending, because that is what she deserves.   The saga continues!   

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