Year End Reflections

100_0575The year 2012 is drawing to a close. It has been quite a year for me and my family. I started this blog this year and so many times have been surprised and pleased when I have found out that people are reading along with my family and our exploits.

Since April, almost 10,000 views of my blog have been shared with you all. What a privilege!! I posted 190 posts and you all rode (and read) along. The busiest day on the blog was the day Bruno left for his surgery at Texas A&M. Almost 300 people read along that day.

This year has brought my mother to Texas to spend her final time with me and my family. It has not been easy but then I would tell my girls, what worthwhile-ever is? I love her so much and am glad to have her so close. I could not have imagined what the time with her and her nursing home friends have come to mean to me. What a surprise!

This year brought baby Kendyll, Ally continues to remind me that I don’t like babies. It is not so much that I don’t like babies I just enjoy the kids even more as they grow older and are more verbal, easier to get them to react to things (and learn new things). Baby Kendyll is my fourth grandchild and each one is unique and special. I would have never known that I would have loved them all so much.

My three daughters are spots of enormous pride for me. From the choices they have made with their families to their education and lives they have pursued. They are beautiful, intelligent, talented women. I could not have hoped for more.

This year brought Feather surprisingly out of Florida to our Texas home. Wow, it has not been an easy match up. Beautiful Feather is scared, timid, and reluctant but when she heads to a jump she forgets everything else in her world and SOARS. I have never seen anything like it. I don’t know if we will unlock all the potential that Feather has or not. But hopefully, day by day, we earn a little more of her trust. In 2013 she will be the go-to horse for us, heading into the ring with Lauren in the irons. I can’t wait to see how she does.

The year also brought Mickey to his knees literally sick to the point of not being able to jump or get around a course. We nursed him through it while we reported his progress. Lauren and he fell short at the Zone Finals. Not every story has a happy ending. This is not fiction but our lives. Maybe he will find an opportunity to jump for Arianna this year or maybe he is ready to be retired (at least semi), more for us to learn in 2013.

And finally, the story of Bruno, the handsome, giant OTTB with the bad foot who I thought we were nursing back to soundness for a few months. After surgery and a projected year-long healing process, I did not get what I had originally bargained for when I discussed taking Bruno from Sherre. It is day 13 today. Another change of the bandage, another time to clean the stall, another time to worry about how he is doing in the cold, damp weather that has wrapped around south Texas. No, I did not get what I had bargained for at all. I do not know how his story will end. I cannot see the light at the end of that tunnel yet. But just as my son-in-law called Bruno “indescribable”, he is. He has that special something that certain champions have, so no, I did not get what I bargained for at all. I got so much more.

2013 will be a year for me to work harder at my job, finally starting to understand the nuances of the new industry I entered. I will start to give more than I am taking as an employee and that will make me proud. In this next year, I will ride more, laugh harder and spend more time with my mother and family. I will try not to be so concerned with schedules and rituals. I promise I will continue to write even if I bore you to tears, because my writing is the best of me.

I am so grateful and thankful for 2012 and all of you that I have gotten to know so much better. To a new year, new opportunities, new horizons and grand sunsets. May be peace and love follow you into this new year.

Hello from Wharton

101e2582The last couple days have been constant activity with all the kids, animals and adults with differing opinions. You know, family times! We have eaten well and often. Laughed, long and hard and occasionally been near tears (and not just the kids). I have gotten to know my dear granddaughter Lexi who was just a baby when I saw her last in Denver but now has a full and engaging personality.

 

Lexi trying on her hat for next summer's vacation.

Lexi trying on her hat for next summer’s vacation.

She reminds me so much of Amber as a toddler. All full of Irish personality and big, brown eyes with long lashes and a quick smile. Impishly small, with tiny features and frame, she packs a lot in her miniature self. Riley, too, had grown up and while spats with cousin Jo were common, so was a new maturity and an eye out for his little sister. Jordyn had her hands full constantly being called upon “to do the right thing because she was the oldest.” Being the oldest is not all that fun when it means someone one else gets to ride Mickey first or have first choice over dessert.

Still, we were all happy to have the time.  I actually missed two days with my mom.  The first two days in a row that I have missed since she moved here.  Ally and Amber went on Thursday but she had no idea who they were and asked only for me.  Big time guilt. 

Yesterday, although freakishly cool for south Texas, the kids had been promised that they could ride the horses and so they did.  Horse people know cold weather makes for frisky horses and I was concerned about using Feather or Mimi.  The previous day, in a random accident, Lauren and I had been trying to get the horses in from the pasture when Feather bucked out and just happened to catch Lauren square in the jaw. She dropped like a rock to the ground.  I figured it was Life Flight time.  Amber, the nurse practitioner, quickly assessed that she was moving her feet (kicking the ground-so not paralyzed) and screaming (no broken jaw) so while it hurt it was nothing that ice and Advil would not heal. Anyway, no desire to try Feather or young Mimi with the wee ones on a windy, cold day.  Riley rode Mickey first, much to angst of Jordyn who thinks Mickey is hers (of course, she also thinks Snowney, Feather, Mimi, Kid and Bruno are hers).  But she waited without tears until both Riley and Lexi had taken a spin.  We even convinced her to let Riley ride double with her!  Mick was a champ.

Neither of my son-in-laws had seen Bruno in person.  Luke said it best for me when he told Ally of his first glimpse of the big, black horse.  She said, “I told you he was sweet and big and you have seen pictures of him. ”  Luke told her, “when his blanket came off he was just spectacular.  He was  (and Luke hesitated a moment), indescribable!”  Oh, my Bruno stealing hearts again.

After tearful goodbyes last night, Amber and family are off to Denver today.  I appreciate all Ally and family did to make things so nice for all of us.

Lauren and I got working early this freezing morning, preparing the area in front of Bruno and Kid’s new stall to lay mats.  The vet had suggested that we have the mats so that we had a ‘clean’ place to work on and re-bandage his hoof over the next several months.  We leveled the ground, went to TSC to buy eight new 4 foot by 6 foot mats and carried them one by one to lay in front of the stalls.

The new mats in front of the stalls for Kid and Bruno.

The new mats in front of the stalls for Kid and Bruno.

We had our first time to re-bandage the hoof and while it was not as neat as our vet techs before us, I think it was adequate.  

Later I rode Mick and Lauren rode Feather.  It was still cold but both horses worked well for us.  The plan is to take them to lessons on Monday.  Hopefully, the weather holds. 

I am tired from all the fun but grateful for my terrific family, the health of my mother and wellness of all my animals.

Bruno Comes Home-A Bruno Story

Due to the graphic nature of today’s photos-please use caution in allowing children to view pictures.

Today on day nine of Bruno’s recovery, we went to Texas A&M  to pick up Bruno.  He had new tissue growing on the bone and the healing had started.  Here are some photos of the hoof as it was cleaned out prior to having a custom shoe fitted on Friday.  The new shoe has a plate that screws in and out so we have access to the “defect” (as the vet called it). 

Sorry its sideways!  Lauren c alls it him bloody stump.

Sorry its sideways! Lauren calls  it him bloody stump.

With his custom shoe!

With his custom shoe!

Today-cleaned and ready to come home.

Today-cleaned and ready to come home.

000bruno

Bruno will need to be stall bound for four weeks at which time he will return to A&M.  He will not be happy but he will have Mr. Kid as his constant companion. Dr. Marsh was terrific. 

Jordyn was singing “Santa Claus is coming to Town”.  Ally told her yes, he was in 363 days.  Wish I knew how Bruno will be doing then.  We are happy to have him home and happy to have been able to give him this second chance.

Holiday Cheer

On Christmas Eve, Lauren and I took Nanny to Jo Etta and Blake’s for a soup dinner before Christmas Eve service at their church.  Jo Etta had set such a beautiful festive table.  So many of the nursing home residents were just hanging out listening to Christmas Carols.  Mom was excited to be going out.  However, after the dinner and church service, it was way too much for her and we left at the offertory.  It may be the last time we do the whole Christmas Eve thing. 

After many travel delays, Amber and her family made it to Texas late Christmas evening. 

Mom is drinking her Boost while the family gathers around.

Mom is drinking her Boost while the family gathers around.

Lauren, Jordyn and I had dinner already made at Ally’s house.  It was exciting for all of us (okay, maybe just Jordyn and I) when they finally arrived.  It was great to have us all together.

On the 26th, we all met up at my house for Christmas dinner and presents.  So many wonderful gifts were exchanged and way too much food was eaten.  I got an IPAD so I can take the Blog on the road and never have to miss a day.  Of course, it is taking the entire family to get me set up to use it.  I am moving into the future.

Hope everyone had a great holiday!

Day Five-A Bruno Story

The Aggie Leg.

The Aggie Leg.

Lauren and I made the Sunday drive up to see Bruno today. He had gotten his hoof re-dresssed this morning. The surgeon was happy to see that there is granulation which means new healthy tissue is growing. Likewise, there is no longer any infection and for the first time in who knows how long, Bruno’s foot is disease free.

There was no sign of blood this morning which was a bonus for us as well.  Although I am to receive some of the pictures from the hoof during surgery so if you are squeamish you might want to miss out on tomorrow’s post.  He was re-wrapped and also had his leg half-way wrapped to help support it and keep the swelling down.  Coincidentally, it was wrapped in A&M maroon.  I am not sure they even order any other color here.

Lauren loving on Bruno.

Lauren loving on Bruno.

We spent some time in the stall with Bruno.  He was in great spirits and ate about 20 carrots, some apples and horse treats.  He is obviously feeling better.  I wish I had a 20 foot high, cinderblock stall to put him in when he gets home.  He certainly is feeling no pain today, which is great, but we don’t want him to get excited and hurt the foot.

When we got back home, we did the last of the grocery shopping, a lot of cooking and had a quiet afternoon.  We will not talk about the Texans.  Merry Christmas Eve Eve to all.

Life Goes On-

Bruno has been taking center stage the last few days but today was a day to catch up with family and friends.  Of course, I have been seeing my mom each day, a couple of days the visits have been a little rushed but I have gotten over each day.  It seems like there is something in the water there with all the residents a little more on edge and nuttier than usual.  One man had searched endlessly for his wife when he first came to the facility but finally had been settling in pretty well.  Last night he was going door to door (and opening each door without warning) looking for the dining room.  Twice he walked into my mom’s room as I was helping her dress for dinner.  The third time I just asked him if he wanted to wait and walk down with us.  He said okay and sat down on my mom’s bed to wait.  In loud stage whisper, mom looked at me and said, “Do you think he is going to break it?”  I told her I hoped not. 

Tonight one of our favorite residents was distraught over some men that were coming into the place and scaring her.  I am pretty sure it could have been the man we just talked about so I asked if she wanted to stay with us for awhile.  She asked Lauren over and over if that ever happened to her (that men had scared her). Then she started rearranging Lauren’s hair.  Another lady was convinced her room was on fire and was rushing down the hall with her purse intent on evacuating the facility. It is hard enough to get Lauren to go with me and I doubt she will volunteer for a while after tonight.

Micenzie looking focused and determined on Mr. Kid

Micenzie looking focused and determined on Mr. Kid

Today my friend Cayla and her family came down to let their daughter ride.  Jordyn was here and Caroline came with her daughters, Arianna and Abby.  All the horses, including Mr. Kid got saddled and ridden.  Everyone switched around a lot but I think young Micenzie rode the most horses.  I saw her on Kid, Feather and Mimi. 

Arianna trying out Lauren's Mickey. I'd say it went pretty well!

Arianna trying out Lauren’s Mickey. I’d say it went pretty well!

We thought Arianna was bringing her horse to ride.  Lauren and I had discussed the possibility of her trying out Mickey to do jumpers on this year but were afraid since he had not been saddled in almost three weeks that he would scare her and act stupid.  But they pulled in without the trailer.  It was one of the cases where things just seem to happen-the whole man plans-God laughs thing.  Arianna ended up doing great on Mickey and he acted like he had been working and jumping every day.  Lauren jumped Feather for me. It was great to see their progress.

Arianna and Lauren exchanged Christmas gifts.  Lauren got the beautiful white and gold OTTB saddle pad which I hope one day soon Bruno proudly wears into the show ring.

Arianna's present to Lauren and Bruno.  The beautiful OTTB pad (photo from their web site- www.ottbdesigns.com )

Arianna’s present to Lauren and Bruno. The beautiful OTTB pad (photo from their web site- http://www.ottbdesigns.com )

On the Bruno update side, I had told my friend Kathy that I was a little freaked out about what I had gotten myself into with this horse and the huge responsibility he would be for sometime.  I want to share what she told me. 

“This will be the worst part because you are at the beginning.  Time flies and each day that passes moves you closer to realizing your dream.  Any investment requires that you sacrifice something; usually money and time.  Its the sacrifice that makes the reward so sweet.  Hold on to the excitement of what they (Lauren and Bruno) can be.”

Well said, my friend, and I needed to hear it.  Tomorrow morning we will head back to TAMU for another visit with Bruno.  It will be day five for him. 

Amber and family come on Christmas day.  So much to look forward to-wishing happy times to all of you.  Enjoy the blessings of this season!

Visiting Hours-A Bruno Story

Bruno in his surgical stall.

Bruno in his surgical stall. Red and green buckets for the holidays?

We made the trek up to Texas A&M Vet hospital to see Bruno today.  Dr. Marsh had let us know that Bruno had a pretty good day yesterday as his first post-operative day.  The doctor had been concerned about how well he would deal with the pain.  But Bruno was tough, strong and had a real good day.  Today they were holding his pain with a couple of grams of bute, which horse owners know is a pretty low dose. 

When we got back to the surgical stalls, he was bright-eyed and walking with a minimal limp. We were not allowed in his stall without special foot covers, so we fed Bruno treats through the door.  We had brought him horse treats and carrots.  He absolutely love carrots-like he can devour a package in moments flat if you allow him.  We were telling this to Sherre, his old owner, and she told us this story of when he first came to her in Texas. 

Bruno was not a pet, he was a race horse in training and apparently had never had a carrot.  Sherre tried to get him to eat carrots but he had  yet to acquire a taste for them.  Finally, she bought the carrots with the green tops still attached.  Bruno ate his way through the greenery and suddenly was eating carrots-the orange part.  He has learned the “I love carrots” thing well! 

They had sedated him earlier to clean out the wound and then to get a shoe on his foot to give him support and protect it from infection.  You do not think of a hoof and blood.  We have all watched the farrier trim hooves and they do not bleed.  But think about cutting too much of your nail off and how that hurts and bleeds.  Well, Bruno’s hoof was definitely bleeding.

Bruno's bandaged hoof-and yes, that is blood seeping the bottom.

Bruno’s bandaged hoof-and yes, that is blood seeping through to the bottom.

The doctor said he can probably come home after Christmas (the 26-27th?) so that is our plan.  We will have to learn to clean and bandage the hoof.  We will also have to come up with something to keep Bruno from running and playing until his hoof can stand it.  That will require some prayers and drugs.  Maybe not in that order.

The vet student, Lisa, that was assigned to Bruno said that he thankfully did not act like his breed (thoroughbred) or his age (five).  I am again grateful for his even temperament and good training.

I kind of freaked myself out yesterday.  I got overwhelmed with the prospect of the many months of care this big horse will need.  I wondered if I was not the biggest fool ever to take this horse then agree to do surgery on his foot.  But then last night, Lauren and I looked up many of Bruno’s relatives.  He is definitely bred from the best.  We looked at pictures of two triple crown winners (Seattle Slew, Secretariat), Breeder’s Cup winners ( AP Indy) and of course, way back,  my favorite horses Bold Ruler and Man O’War.  I guess if I have to pick a horse to bet the farm on, this one is not a bad choice. Bruno is big, brave and tough.  I suspect he has that special ingredient, “heart” as well. 

Day three of recovery is done and we are one day closer to getting him well.