Thursday, July 31, 2014

Harvey: Staying in the moment

Years ago, my grandpa had Parkinsons Disease -- and it eventually took his life. When the family got together, there was a tendency to spend time enumerating the things he could once do but now could not -- at every gathering there was a hushed conversation about grandpa's decline. As a young adult, I hated it. Nothing is gained by obsess each and every sign of failing, I reasoned, why chronicle each life skill or ability lost? I felt sorry for grandpa and felt sure he knew about these conversations. It was heartbreaking.

I thought that then, and I still believe this. It accomplishes nothing to focus on what is lost.

Today's post is a Harvey status update, and I'm breaking my own rule.  Harv is failing. I don't know for sure, but it seems to me he is failing at a faster rate.
  • He has trouble moving around in his stall. He catches himself, but the tight turns make him sway and correct himself. 
  • He has trouble getting down to roll. Getting up has been a mild struggle for awhile, has has pulled himself up by his front legs for years. But now, getting down is harder for him. He can curl his front legs fine, but somehow the hind legs don't want to fold. He has just given up on a gentle landing. He drops down in front, but he can't lower himself down behind -- he basically falls heavily to the side like a falling tree. 
  • The incontinence is worse. I used to occasionally find a big pee stain in his stall, which told me he could sometime evacuate his bladder somewhat. This has not happened in weeks.
In the moment
I enjoy seeing the things that Harv enjoys. Last week, I walked him to the outdoor ring for the first time in about a month. Harv knows the outdoor is for running around, and as we walked toward the gate, he started a little passage. He coudn't wait to tear around.

As soon as I unclipped the halter he kicked into full gear, even cantering a little. He would trot the perimeter at full tilt for a lap, then come into the center and stand with me--it felt like he wanted praise ("did I do good?"). After a few minutes he would go out and do another lap. He repeated this 4-5 times. He looked really happy and I'm so glad he likes to move out like this.  I'm guessing his bladder is basketball-sized on a permanent basis -- to me this energy indicates that he doesn't feel uncomfortable at least.

Oh, and his trot. Harv's trot is a little out of synch -- the hind legs are definitely draggier than in April, like he can't lift from the stifle. Watching from the rear there is an "egg-beater" action, hind legs swinging out, that is more pronounced. I try not to notice his movement, and focus on his happy face and he trots around.

He has his horsey friends, he is the fattest he has ever been, and the hay right now is soft enough for him to eat. Bob is par-boiling his carrots, which is an act of love that confirms my choice in spouse.  I'll keep you all posted. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Random insights on barn drama

No, I'm not experiencing barn drama now. But it's always "five o'clock somewhere," and I'm certain there is always a barn situation somewhere.

Page turners...
A good friend from high school, Karrie,  had daughter that grew up "horse crazy." She used to call me to chat about news of the horse, her daughter's progress, and of course, that phenom that goes with the package -- barn drama.

Her stories were about horse show moms mostly -- horrifying, and of course familiar. She told me one day that she and a few of the other horse show moms had brainstormed an idea of writing a book about barn drama. the title:

UnStable: Bad parenting, hysterical women, and psychosocial drama in equestrian culture

I love it! Thinking about other random insights over the years, here are a few more.

It's a circus all right.
Have you heard the term hippodrama? It means literally horse drama and it has its roots in theater. It's described as:

"...a genre of theatrical show blending circus and horsemanship with popular melodrama and theatre. Evolving from earlier equestrian circus, it relied on drama plays. Trained horses were considered actors along with humans and were even awarded leading roles."

In real barn dramas, horses always seem to have a leading role. Perfect. The term could be refashioned for modern usage (barn drama!).

Do we have a winner?
A dear friend of mine would sometimes listen to stories. I'd finish my tale, and there would be a long pause, and she would say: "It all sounds very Jerry Springer."

But no, that does not win the prize for best observation.

Why does the sports metaphor always win?
 Best observation goes to Bob, former little league coach, who said one day...

"It's like always having a kid in little league."


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Right-sizing a horse

TPO is 14.3 but I am amazed at how well he takes up my leg. I don't feel gigantic on him and I think we look decently paired, given that I'm 5'10."