Tuesday, September 27, 2011

As I assumed, my C25K road is long and bumpy.  I have enjoyed a change in body shape after only 4 runs, but my connective tissues are not enjoying the change.  I last ran on Saturday and while my right knee ached some at first, I was not in pain through most of my workout.  Afterward, my knee and leg began to ache and have continued  to be painful for 3 days now.  I have refrained from running, but have continued my work at the barn.  Last night, I could definitely tell that the lower interior part of my knee was swollen and painful to touch.  To add a creep factor, when I bent my knee it made a gritty sound. After a couple of Advil, I woke to no swelling and my knee feels good.  I hope a couple of more days of Advil and rest will allow it to run again.

While Princess was at volleyball practice, I took Arielle for some desensitizing (is that even a word?) training.  In our role to help her be a confident gal, we have to expose her to lots of "scary" things.  On the booger buffet yesterday was the 7th and 8th grade football practice.  Blowing whistles, clapping, yelling, waving arms, numerous running "predators" ... it was exciting.  It was especially exciting when the play involved 6 boys running in our direction.  If someone had yelled "BOO" at that point, she could've orbited the moon.  I am teaching her two "calm down cues" which are 1) drop her head even or below her shoulders and 2) lick her lips.  Both of these help a horse relax.  When their head is high, like in the picture below, it is impossible to fully relax (although she is pretty chilled out here).

In the picture below, Arielle is relaxed.  A horse naturally relaxes when they lower their head.  It releases chemicals that relax their body.  The phrase in horse training is true, "Where their body goes, their mind will follow."

I am happy to say, Arielle listened to me and despite several spooks, she did really well.  Our deadline is Friday when she will be the horse on display at the first grade festival celebrating Indian Day.  The plan is for them to paint her with washable paint, clip feathers in her mane and pet her.  I hope to get pictures!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Couch to 5K, Drought and Cactus

I ran with King on Saturday morning.  Delightful.  What a great way to spend time together!  This was my second C25K run.  It was not as easy as the first run, which surprised me.  My muscles are just weird.  It must be the Periodic Paralysis, but I start getting sore about 2 hours after I strenuously use my muscles.  Within 24 hours of my muscle exertion, I am almost not sore anymore.  I ran on Saturday morning around 8:45.  By 11:00 a.m. I was really sore.  By Saturday night, I could hardly walk/use my muscles.  By Sunday morning, I was a little sore, but walking just fine.  Totally odd.

I rested on Sunday.  Today is Monday and I worked in the pasture at the barn.  The drought is just debilitating.  One thing that was alive - cactus!  So, I spent an hour or so digging up prickly pear.  It was a good way to use my upper body muscles and let my lower body muscles rest.

With the drought, we have many animals coming up in the barn area for water.  We do not currently have any barn cats, so the rat population has exploded.  With an abudance of rats and a lack of water, you have snakes in close proximity.  Hopefully, a local pet adoption agency will come through for us this weekend and bring some feral cats for the barn.  The kitties will really like all the rats that we have available.  With less rats, we hope to have less snakes.  And with less snakes, we will have a happier Queen.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

C25K shoes

So, I decided that I need some new running shoes.  I counted up and I've had my other sneakers for 3.5 years.  :)  They are fine for wearing around, but I know that my feet & legs need more support if I am going to be jogging.  I am very excited about this new running program - couch to 5K.  Honestly, I am not married to the idea of running a 5K.  I just want to help my muscles be as healthy as possible. 

Working at the barn is very good for my muscles, especially my core muscles.  Between hauling water buckets, mucking the stalls and sweeping, I am really working my obliques and back muscles.  I haven't been riding much, but when I do, I can tell that my abs get a workout as well as my legs.

Between riding, barn work and jogging/walking, I hope that the spring of 2012 finds me in much better shape.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Walking in the Neighborhood

This morning, Arielle and I went for a walk in the neighborhood.  Arielle needs to be exposed to many different sights and sounds.  She did very well until a dog spooked her.  Then the rest of her walk was a little antsy.  It's so helpful to see the world from a horse's perspective.  Everything is out to eat them or kill them.  It must be exhausting to always be on the alert for "horse killers".

The highlight of the walk was meeting an elderly lady who was watering her lawn.  She had never been near a horse in her life - only seen them in movies.  She was so afraid of Arielle, but to her credit, she came near and pet Arielle several times.  The lady was adorable with her wonder of the horse and her delight with everything Arielle did.  I can just hear her on the phone with her friend/loved one today, "I saw and pet a horse today!"

We also met a young mom with two little ones in her truck.  Arielle walked up and let them pet her - to the delight of the children. 

It is so fun to take Arielle out and walk her through the neighborhood.  We have about 4,000 people in our neighborhood, so we always have plenty of opportunities to meet people.  The best part for Arielle is to have many things to desensitize her and from her perspective - to live to tell about it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


September 14th begins my couch to 5K expedition.  I am thrilled to be able to even attempt this.  I don't talk about this much on my blog, but I have a neuromuscular disorder called Periodic Paralysis (PP).  My muscle cells have a genetic mutation in the ion channels which results in periods of time where I am weak or completely paralyzed from the neck down.  My pregnancy and resulting hormonal fluctuations triggered my Periodic Paralysis and I have learned how to manage it over the years.  In the early years, I came close to dying several times during paralysis episodes.  Now, thanks to a couple of general doctors, I have managed by health to the point where I can work, ride and train my horse and be active outside.

Before PP, I was very active.  I jogged and did inline skating.  It's been almost 13 years, but I am just getting back to where I can attempt to jog again. I used the Get Running app and feel very pleased with my run.  I know it will take me more than 9 weeks to reach the 5K mark because I am going into the time of year when I am paralyzed often (sometimes every morning).  I don't have a finish date in mind.  I will just keep plugging along as I can, knowing that each time I get out and jog is a victory in and of itself!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Chicklet

Since we have last spoken, good things have happened!

Princess and I got our early birthday presents in the form of The Chicklet!  The Chicklet is an 8 year old Tennessee Walking Horse mare.  She is a bright bay with a cute blaze down her face.  (Technically, the white on her face is called a "strip".)  Her barn name (the name we always call her) is "Arielle" (Ah-ree-ell) which is Hebrew for Lioness of God.  Sadly, she's not as brave as her name indicates, but we are working to help her be more confident.  She is very sweet, alert and a beautiful mover!  Her gaits are like floating.
All of our horse experience thus far has been with pre-trained English Hunter horses who know how to lunge, jump and do flatwork.  While we learned a lot in that discipline over 4 years, we did not learn half of what we now know.  In just 3.5 months, we have learned more than we learned at our English barn. 
Owning our own horse has been a lot of fun, pain and hard work.  We do all of our own basic vet work, cleaning the stall and barn area, do all of our own feed and hay purchasing, clean and maintain pasture/paddocks, training, riding, ground manners/flatwork, etc.  We do it all!  
Arielle broke my foot 2 days after we got her.  She stepped on my foot 3 times over three days and broke multiple toes.  Needless to say, we began working on ground manners immediately. She saw a snake and figuratively jumped into my arms for me to save her.  1,050 pounds is a little beyond my holding capacity.  She's like a golden retriever in that she is loving, wants to be with her humans and wants to please more than anything.

We have enjoyed her so much over the summer.  Now that school has started, Princess doesn't get to spend nearly as much time with her.  I am doing most of the care and training until Princess finishes volleyball season.

We have found a fun and popular training method to use with Arielle: The Parelli method by Pat & Linda Parelli.  As with any popular subject, there are fans and critics.  So far though, Arielle responds very well and it is a fun way for a child to train.  Training horses is very much like parenting!  You must be kind, gentle, firm, respectful, maintain dignity, discipline in a consistent manner and be friendly.  A teenager/child is handicapped by not having the years of maturity that come with parenting.  So, it can be hard to train a horse without losing your cool.  The games that Parelli has created are all about having fun with the horse while teaching the horse to respect the handler.

For a nervous horse like Arielle, having confidence is 3/4 of her battle.  She wants to please, but she loses her confidence so quickly.  By teaching her to be confident, we have a much safer and pleasant horse.