Graduation

Jordyn Grace Taylor at her kindergarten graduation

Jordyn Grace Taylor at her kindergarten graduation

Ally Davis Taylor's kindergarten graduation

Ally Davis Taylor’s kindergarten graduation

Last night was Jordyn’s kindergarten graduation. I rummaged around and found her mother’s kindergarten graduation picture.  While there are similarities between mother and daughter (like the dark hair and eyes) they are also individual beauties as well (spoken like a true mother and grandmother, huh?).

I had to give some serious thought to what exactly they were accomplishing in their graduation from kindergarten.  In high school, subsequently in college and beyond there is a set curriculum of study.  You become a math major or an accountant, you don’t just play with clay.  But as I thought about it, I was surprised with the amount of things that actually are accomplished in those early years before formal education really starts in first grade.  The major building blocks of education and life are started.  Obviously, someone else has already thought out the ‘everything I needed to know I learned in kindergarten’ thing. But it is so true.  Jordyn and Ally before her, learned to count, the alphabet, colors, shapes, basic communication and how to relate to others.

When you stop to think of it that way, kindergarten graduation is really quite a thing to celebrate. I suspect there are very few children (hopefully) in the US that don’t make it at least as kindergarten graduates.  It is not an elite group but an important milestone for every child.

Jordyn’s school got started late with the ceremony and included an hour-long school play before we got to the actual graduation. I am ashamed to say I made Lauren leave with me before Jordyn crossed the stage to receive her diploma.  My excuse was the long drive, the late hour, the horses were still out in the dark and I had work early this morning.  Still, I should have stayed.  Thankfully, Jordyn is blessed that both her parents and other set of grandparents stayed to cheer her on.  In fact, I don’t think she probably missed me.

It is yet another step in the path of our family and our life.  And I know, just like her momma before her, Jordyn was excel at school and studies.  An exciting future awaits our little graduate.

Under saddle once again-A Bruno Story

It came to pass in a south Texas village, that a giant horse that had been ailing for some time was finally decreed ready to be ridden again.  As the day progressed toward his first ride in months, his rider, Lauren prepared his tack.  She spent some time putting back together a bridle for him.  She kept the simple full-cheek snaffle bit that he had gone in before his surgery, although deep in heart she would have liked to have had something stronger in his mouth, just in case he started running and never stopped.

But Dev had warned her against the harsher bit.  He reminded her that a race horse likes and is taught to pull against the bit.  If she had trouble slowing the big horse down, the harsher bit was more likely to push him forward than make him stop.  If he took off with her, Dev’s suggestion was to  circle him tight and hard.  With nowhere to go, he would stop.  Lauren had idly suggested running him into a fence but Dev responded, “this big guy is not afraid to jump anything in front of him.  Then you will be out in the open field with miles to run and no chance of stopping”.

Lauren spent the day getting out her beautiful OTTB saddle pad that she had gotten for Christmas but had never been on Bruno’s back.  Likewise, due to saddle mal-functions, this was a new saddle to Bruno as well.  In spite of the high hopes and long desired opportunity to ride big Boo (as she called him), Lauren was a little hesitant and concerned as well.

Lauren really liked ponies-they were small.  She excelled with Mickey and Feather, neither of which topped 16 hands.  She had never been extremely comfortable or experienced on the big horses.  She just had not had enough rides.  The distance from Bruno’s back to the ground was over five feet.  Everyone in her family except her had visited the hospital these last months for surgery or broken bones.  Made a girl a little apprehensive.

Lauren had joked (sort of) with her friends about wrapping herself in bubble wrap for the return ride on Bruno.  At the very least she had talked of borrowing an eventing safety vest to strap on prior to her ride, but she had never gotten one to the farm.

She would not ride until I got home.  We joked that way someone was available to call Life Flight in the case of an emergency.  Throughout the day, Lauren groomed and readied Bruno for his evening ride.

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We got Bruno in November. Lauren hauled Mickey up to Zone Finals.  She unloaded Mickey and we loaded Bruno (who we had taken sight unseen) and I hauled him home.  We had been trying to stage a comeback on Mickey, to place in the finals but it had proved a disappointing and discouraging show.  Mickey was done, for all intents and purposes.  Lauren had Feather coming along and new Bruno to ride but Feather was still untested and we had never ridden Bruno at all.

Last night when I wasn’t sleeping I was searching back through my posts to recall the time when Bruno first came to the farm.  Here is the link to post on the weekend we brought Mickey home from the show grounds, defeated and sad.

https://exechorseluver.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/life-goes-on-2/

Bruno arrived at the farm not having been worked in a few weeks due to his hoof problems.  I think Lauren faced the apprehension that night as well when she rode him for the first time.  And what did we do? We put five year-old Jordyn up on Bruno and he was gentle and kind.

Jordyn up on Bruno-nothing to be afraid of!

Jordyn up on Bruno-nothing to be afraid of!

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Tonight, in the end, when it was ‘riders up’ Bruno scampered across the arena. He was excited but listening to Lauren’s quiet hands and seat.  Mr. Kid had followed him to the arena and I questioned if it was a good idea for him to be walking freely around.  “If Bruno takes off, Kid is going to run with him”, I said.  “He is not going to run”, Lauren said confidently.  And he did not.  He was looking, he was mouthing the bit, he was skitterish but he was fine.

One hundred and sixty-two days after surgery, Lauren was up on Bruno’s broad back.  It will be some time before the ride goes smoothly but we have plenty of time.  We are thrilled to have the big guy back to work.

Oh my goodness, the boy is back!

Oh my goodness, the boy is back!

And there was no more plaster!

Just a note to say, Lauren made it home safely from her time at the bay without any apparent injury (despite my premonitions).

Ally with her broken right arm and hurt left wrist saw the orthopedic surgeon today.  We were lucky to be squeezed in his busy schedule.  This is the doctor that got me through my broken pelvis, Lauren through her many knee injuries and ‘cured’ my elderly mother’s inability to walk instantly with his care.

I didn’t know what to tell Ally.  I thought with the location of the break (just below the elbow) that she would be spending our beach vacation in a full arm cast.  If anything, this doctor is VERY conservative.  He acknowledged the pain of the break and showed concern over the deep bone bruising on her left wrist.  But he feels the best treatment is to keep the arm in a sling with no CAST-no PLASTER!  I know Ally is probably hurting more tonight, and taking away her plaster splint and letting the arm be unprotected is probably very frightening for her.  But it will keep her elbow joint more fluid and allow healing to start.  He will keep a very close eye on her to be sure the bone is healing correctly.

So, no plaster on the beach.  Ally is absolutely forbidden to pick up anything (especially her baby) with her broken arm.  I know her husband will continue his superb care of her and the girls while she is unable.  It will be a hard several weeks but know she is healing already.  We pray for continued healing and pain relief.  Thank you to all who have sent her well-wishes and offers of help in sending meals, taking the kids and keeping up the house work.  You are wonderful!

RELEASED-a Bruno Story

Dr. Chad Marsh, and the A&M team, checking out Bruno upon his arrival.

Dr. Chad Marsh, and the A&M team, checking out Bruno upon his arrival.

I have no better words for today than what is written on the Texas A&M Teaching Hospital Instructions to Owner that we received after our visit today:

Instructions to Owner:

Bruno is released to return slowly back to exercise under saddle.  His regimen should include all flat work exercise at the walk and long trot with no cavaleties or jumps for the first 3-4 weeks.  Bruno is not released to jump yet.

And today, 161 long days since surgery on his infected foot, we may once again saddle the big boy up and start his journey back to fitness and hopefully, soon back over fences.  We are exhilarated, joyful and yet little wary as we know there still is a long path ahead of us.   Reviewing Bruno’s radiograph’s with Dr. Marsh, we saw that there has been no further deterioration of the coffin bone since surgery and the surrounding margins of the hoof are clean and healthy.  I mentioned (in the 300 or so times I thanked him) that I was glad Dr. Lynn Criner had caught the infection when she did.  I said if she hadn’t we would have just continued to have the hoof crack and crumble over and over.  “No”, Dr. Marsh corrected me, “the infection would have spread over time from the coffin bone into the leg and then there is nothing we could have done to save him”.

Shows how much of the hoof was cut out

Shows how much of the hoof was cut out

December 21st immediately after surgery.

December 21st immediately after surgery.

The hoof today-completely grown back-the holes are nail holes from his old shoes.  The line will probably remain as a reminder of the year's the crack was in this hoof.

The hoof today-completely grown back-the holes are nail holes from his old shoes. The line will probably remain as a reminder of the years the crack was in this hoof.

The pink line halfway up the hoof is a bruising or surgical scar.  We grew a brand new hoof!

The pink line halfway up the hoof is a bruising or surgical scar. We grew a brand new hoof!

I will miss our friends at TAMU-what an outstanding institution! But both Lauren and I are looking forward to the future and seeing what the big man can do in the jumper ring.  I hope he is amazing but as I told Dr. Marsh today, this horse has captured Lauren’s heart.  Even if he never completes a round over fences, he is ours forever.  We have learned so much from him.  This is just the start of Book Two of the Bruno Story.  Be sure to stay tuned as we see what will become of him.

Thank you for all you who have supported his success, were saddened by his setbacks and just rode along as we tried to do the right thing for this giant OTTB!

bruno att

No more plaster!

Lauren went off to the bay with Blake. I have enjoyed about 24 hours of quiet time but I am ready for her to be back now. I did the horse chores this morning, watered all my plants and played with the dogs. It was a beautiful day and I would have loved to have ridden but I am still not cleared to ride so didn’t want to take a chance. In the last eight weeks, I have had shoulder surgery, my daughter, Amber, in Denver, has broken her foot and Ally has broken her arm. I am a little afraid that Lauren may snap in two at any moment.

Although I have certainly had my share of broken bones, my girls have escaped softball, soccer, track and all these horse years with only an occasional broken finger or toe. So, what is up now? Lauren texted me to say she was going jet skiing and I can’t shake the feeling that she will be the next call from the ER to tell me about her new broken bone! How about no more, God, please??

I spent a long quiet afternoon with my mom. I kept telling her our plans for her 89th birthday next week (it is really June 4th but we will celebrate next Sunday). She thinks it is her 139th birthday for some reason and I can’t reason with her. I have told her cards are arriving already. She really doesn’t remember much of anyone outside Lauren, Jordyn, Jim and myself but I would love to have a bunch of bright cards for her.

Send her a pink birthday card if you get a chance-Midge Foust 615 FM 640 rd., Wharton, TX 77488. That would be so great!

My lawn and pastures are mowed. Bruno had a bath for his trip to A&M in the morning. I am praying for an all clear on him. Ally sees the orthopedic surgeon in the morning as well. I pray Lauren just makes it home without anything in plaster.

Thank you for riding along and keep me in your prayers!

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Sunday at the farm

Mr. Kid, 31 years-young, enjoying the sunny Sunday in the arena with his pal Bruno.

Mr. Kid, 31 years-young, enjoying the sunny Sunday in the arena with his pal Bruno.

After getting Ally and family back home to her husband and in-laws, Rick and Dodie, who have graciously agreed to take over the “be Ally-mother to two children” role while she continues to nurse her broken and sprained arms, we visited my mom and then headed home to clean up the chaos created from a crawling baby and a five year-old.

Bruno will return for what we hope is his last visit to Texas A&M on Tuesday.  We thought we would get him out to the arena and start treating him like a working man again.  As I led him into the arena, his faithful friend, Kid, came along as well.  Completing my entourage were Kona and Lula.  At first Bruno was looking around and being a little crazy but he quickly settled into the arena.

So, I had to carry part of my entourage-Lula was just too hot!

So, I had to carry part of my entourage-Lula was just too hot!

We got some lungeing in but boy, Bruno is not in shape (why would he be?) and we only worked a short time in each direction.  If we get the okay to start riding, we will need a long-term conditioning plan. For today, it was enough to see him walk, trot and canter on demand.  I did see what I thought was an occasional spot of lameness on his bad foot.  It was disappointing.  I am hoping that it is because his feet are really long and his current surgical shoe is not a “working” shoe.   I am still hoping for a happy ending.  It may just take a little more time than we thought.

Bruno getting moving!

Bruno getting moving!

When it was all over, Bruno enjoyed a cold hose down and unlike all my other horses, loved the water on his face even grabbing the hose with his mouth to drink the cold water.

That's a long drink of water!

That’s a long drink of water!

Something to whine about

Jo, Kendyll and I all driving the truck as Lauren, Gaylyn and Ally stack hay.

Jo, Kendyll and I all driving the truck as Lauren, Gaylyn and Ally stack hay.

So in my last post, I whined and complained and felt sorry for myself.  As my daddy would have said, “quit whining or I will give you something to whine about!”  Things were not that bad, certainly not for me or my family, but I was about to see that they could get a whole lot worse.

On Friday, we had Roland scheduled to do the horse’s hooves.  I just wanted a quiet weekend to catch up on some sleep and finish some chores.  Lauren had a lesson with Feather and Dev.  She hoped to get back home before the worst of the Friday, Memorial Day weekend, traffic started.  When I pulled in, I saw the hay was already being baled and thought, oh, no!  We had planned on picking up the baled hay Saturday night not Friday.  I called my friend Gaylyn and told her of the change of plans.  She had not so choice words to say.  It was her husband’s birthday and not a great night to pick up hay.

Then I called Ally.  She had offered to help with the hay.  And I needed the help. With my arm still out of commission, I felt entitled to my daughter’s help.  Wish I had just done it myself.

Everything happened at once.  Roland got here and started on Feather.  Ally, Jo and baby Kendyll showed up at the same time.  Then Gaylyn told me she was en route with her trailer.  I was not at all sure how we were going to accomplish driving, stacking, and lifting the hay from the field while taking care of Kendyll and holding horses for Roland.  As Gaylyn pulled in and announced she was getting 50 bales (we were only getting 20 this time), Roland finished with Feather.  He would start on Mickey (who he could do without help) while we went to the field to start on the hay.

In the end, I sat in the driver’s seat with Kendyll on my lap, inadequately trying to hold her and drive with my one arm as the other was strapped down in the sling.  Pretty much we idled along and Jordyn “drove” as Ally stood in the trailer stacking the hay that Lauren and Gaylyn were tossing up from the field.  To compound our level of frustration was another pick-up truck and trailer in the field with auto lifter, where one person placed the hay on the conveyor belt which lifted it up into the trailer bed.  Wow, way better than the manual female labor  we had going on.  I looked in the rearview mirror at one point and saw Ally standing four bales high on the flat-bed trailer.  I said to Jordyn, your momma is going to fall off of there.  But I didn’t warn anyone.  Not once.

We got (okay, they got) all 70 bales loaded (while the men with conveyor belt probably loaded 200 bales-but whatever).  We had made it back up to the barn.  Gaylyn backed the trailer to the gate.  We were going to offload our 20 bales, so we could get Roland finished and Gaylyn off to her home.  I passed Kendyll to Gaylyn to hold as I was trying to get my one-armed self out of the truck.  Kendyll didn’t want to come back to me.  She was perfectly happy with Gaylyn.

Then, Lauren yelled, “Ally fell, Ally fell!!” In the next few seconds, everything went by in super speed.  Gaylyn and I were somehow next to fallen Ally.  Baby Kendyll was somehow in Roland’s arms.  Ally had fallen at least eight feet from the top of the stacked hay off the hay trailer to the hard ground.  Immediately she told us-“My wrist is broken!”

I went and got our truck.  Ally and I were off to the hospital.  It was apparent by the time we arrived that both of Ally’s arms were hurt.  The first thing the ER doc ordered was morphine.  Not a good sign.

The x-rays were difficult for Ally to bear.  But the doctor came back with the news that nothing was broken.  We breathed a big sigh of relief and were almost giddy.  They splinted her one wrist and placed her other arm in a sling.  I still had on my sling.  We looked like refugees of a bad place or a bad night.

Slings and Splints.

Slings and Splints.

It was a bad night for me and a horrible night for Ally.  I decided to just sleep in the room alongside my daughter (for probably the first time in at least 12 years).  I was afraid she would need something and not be able to reach it without use of either arm.  Throughout the long night, a hundred times Ally wondered aloud about why her arm hurt so much.  I am always skeptical of ER x-ray reads, but figured they could read a fracture in such large bones.  I do not think either of us slept more than 30 minutes at time. We did get a chance to have some great talks as the night slowly moved along.  I am grateful for that.

This morning the ER called back to report the arm in the sling was fractured, just an inch or so below the elbow.  Lauren took her sister back to the hospital as I stayed with both young girls.

We are scheduled to take a trip of a lifetime to Hawaii in less than two weeks.  All my girls, all the family, the grandkids, Blake and his mother are all coming along for this long-saved for, long anticipated trip.  Ally will be in a cast.  Maybe in two casts.  It will not be what we hoped.  Neither Ally or I will be swimming in the gentle Maui seas.

Luke is headed home from his heroic Oklahoma recovery trip to a wife with a broken arm and no use of her sprained arm.  He will be exhausted.  A 11 month old baby slows down for no one.

Ally is still in a crazy amount of pain.  I will be calling the hospital back soon if she does not start to get some relief.  We are all blurry eyed and exhausted.  And sad and disappointed.  Guess as my dad said, we have something to whine about now!

Please keep Ally and her family in your prayers!

p.s.  Big shout of thanks to Gaylyn and Roland.  They both jumped in feet first to take care of my grandkids and my daughter.  Roland, with no good reason than his innate good manners, helped stack all the hay.  The pony Pixie was still left to do and Lauren held Kendyll, the pony’s leadrope and some alfalfa as Roland completed her feet.  We are blessed for our great friends and family.