Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Come Hell, or High Water...

Jingle has now survived two massive floods...

The first occurred when he was a yearling at the Ranch he was born and raised at in 2005...

This lodge, and this river, was turned into this...

This is the right side of the lodge, a dorm called the "Burrow"

The damage was insane... The Flood completely changed the landscape, including creating still-existent riverways that had never been there before.

It turned the Wagon Cube, our area where we did our dances...

(Sidenote: I chose this photo because it's hilarious. Lisa was comforting a very homesick camper, who told her that he really missed his dog. She then told him that she would be his dog at the dance. So weird. So strange. The kid loved it.)

to an absolute mud pit.
I think this photo really gives you an idea of how dirty and damaging floods can be. 

I was pretty young then, and remember crying in my mom's arms as she received the email with attached photos of the damage, saying that the first week of camp was cancelled. For the owners, it was a huge blow, bridges were swept away, tack was ruined, houses were damaged, and the river changed the landscape. Finally, horses were hurt, changed and lost. My favourite story of all time that came out of the flood was that of Tad. Tad was the Rancher's horse for awhile, then he came down the string and ended up being the most responsible and trusting of horses. I've witnessed 3 year olds go on trail rides aboard Tad. He's a wonderful old man. Anyways, after the flood had hit they began to restore what was left, and try to relocate the horses. They were standing in the barn yard, formulating a plan, when Tad ran in whinnying, he then proceeded to run out, and then come back, and then leave again. Finally, they decided to follow him... sure enough, he led them to a mare bogged down. They had to pull her out, and if Tad hadn't brought them to her, she would have definitely died there. He's a hero horse, and a grand old man.

Tad, who spent the summer wandering the lawn and watching over our 5 yearlings. (Seriously, he never let them leave his sight)

A dapper old man

I have a hard time picturing a yearling Jingle in a flood situation. Knowing how my horse can be (haha) I just imagine him running around like an absolute wing-bat, and somehow he survived. Jingle, it seems, is a survivor at the best of times, and at the worst of times.

& in that thought, yesterday I got the go-ahead to start riding my boy again, after three and a half weeks of him being off! The vet came out and did multiple flexion tests, we hand-trotted, we lunged, he even had me get on and ride him. Which was surreal after not riding for over three weeks, and then annoying when Jingle decided that he did NOT want to lope his right lead and spent a little bit of time burying his head and humping around. Nice behaviour infront of our new vet, Jingle. Anyway, the vet concluded that Jingle maybe strained his fetlock, because that was the only test that he showed any signs of being off with. Jingle looked, and felt, great yesterday, but still seemed to be carrying himself slightly off. The vet said that he was traveling "uniquely" in his front, but that it didn't appear to be lameness because it wasn't agitated by any of the stress and flexion tests. He did say that perhaps when he actually was lame, it became accentuated, and more apparent to me because I was looking for something.

The Vet concluded that I should start riding (sidenote: we don't have arenas right now due to flooding and the mosquitos are overwhelming.. ugh) he said that I should start basic and build him back up, but that, for now, Jingle is sound. He also said that if there is a lameness, unfortunately riding will cause it to come back, and once he's back to being off, that is when they can best do more testing. So, a little nerve-wracking to start riding him again, incase it does re-appear, but for now, I'm very happy that I got the go-ahead to ride my boy again. Even if he's decided that loping is just not for him. Sigh... with almost two months off I fear we may be back to square one.

So... come hell, or high water... or bucking fits... we're going to start riding again! yippee.

& for my bates-ers that read this blog, remember these familiar faces? Sigh.. How time flies.

Gotta give a major shout-out to Garry for the photos, love ya buddy and appreciate it!

Monday, June 24, 2013

The "Great Flood" - Alberta Flooding 2013

As many of you know a majority of Alberta was absolutely rocked by flood waters over the past few days. As the water begins to recede, mud and debris is left to deal with. Thousands are still displaced as evacuation orders are slowly being lifted and power is turned back on. Many lost their homes, their animals, and some paid the price of their lives. It is an absolutely devastating tragedy and my heart breaks for my province, and my community.

Images have been pouring out of Calgary, and communities throughout southern alberta of the absolute devastation that the flood waters have caused...

A shot showing the amount of water that raged through the downtown core from Thursday through until now...

High River, a town just 30 minutes south of Calgary was absolutely destroyed. This shows their mainstreet, fans of the show "Heartland" will recognize Maggie's Diner on the right hand side. High River is still now allowing people to return to their homes due to the structural danger that the water has created.

Calgary (and Alberta), in true Calgarian fashion is rallying together to help those affected by the flood. Volunteers are pouring out of the woodwork to help, and people canada-wide are donating and coming to alberta to help in this situation. Today Alison Redford commented that it may take up to 10 years, and over a billion dollars for the province to recover. It is absolute insanity. 
Tragedy is tragedy anywhere it is, it's breaking my heart that so many people, places and animals that I know and love are being displaced and watching their homes be ruined by this flood. It doesn't matter who you are and where you live, loosing a home is still a heart-wrenching and debilitating experience. My prayers and thoughts go out to everyone in Alberta at this time, although I know we are a fortunate and lucky province, it doesn't make this devastation any easier to take.
I posted this as my Facebook status on Friday, and it still sums up much of what I am feeling.

Personally, I was very lucky and unaffected by the flood. My house, and community, in southeast Calgary was un-touched. However, Thursday was a tense day for us as we watched videos like this...

This is probably less 5 km away from my barn, in the Hamlet of Bragg Creek. The amount of nights we've spent in Bragg after long rides are countless, and it is shocking to see such devastation in an area you know some intimately. I can't even begin to fathom how those that live in these towns are feeling. Thankfully, my barn, which has a small creek running through it but isn't close to some of the major river systems, remained out of the evacuation order. Both of our arenas, and the front lawn of our barn were very flooded, the buildings remain structurally sound and none of the horses were at all effected by the flood. Still, even in an area barely effected you can see the signs of flooding... dirt and gravel from our parking lot is now eerily moved closer to the barn, a large pool of stagnant water sits in the centre of our indoor arena, the trailer area is now a lake, the ditches along the road we used to ride in are completely full and moving fast, and sometimes pooling over onto the road.. it is surreal.

I know that many horses, and people and barns in the horse community, were not as lucky as we were. In speaking with a vet today, he said that he thinks it'll still be a few days before they begin getting calls of horses hurt in the flood. Many people were forced to let their horses free and cut down their fences as they fleed their own homes, hoping the horses would survive. Many of those people have still not been allowed home, and so their horses still have yet to be located.

Finally, as it always is in Calgary, the Calgary Stampede is a hot topic on everyone's minds...

This was the state of affairs at the infield...

The Saddledome has reports of being 14 rows under water, meaning that all the Calgary Flames dressing rooms were completely submerged, as well as storage areas, hallways filled with priceless memorabilia, and the Jumbotron control room, which has millions worth of of technology in it.

The Calgary Stampede released this ad... which I think is brilliant and terrific...

The Stampede has pledged that it will go on, despite the huge damage to the grounds, buildings, barns, etc. Everyone I talked to seems split down the middle about whether or not this is a good thing. However, I think that not only will the Stampede stand as a symbol of Calgary being able to rally against insurmountable odds, it will also be a good thing for the economy. Downtown is still, for the most part, shut down. Also canceling the Stampede would be an absolute blow to the Calgary economy, which thrives on the Stampede for ten days. I got wind today that we (Ranch Girls) will not be performing at a rodeo that was scheduled on the grounds this upcoming Friday, and that the rodeo area is being inspected now to see what has to be done.

If I have truly learned one thing through all of this, is how devastating water truly is. The mud, debris, and mould left behind is unbelievable, and the structural integrity of so many buildings is now questionable. It seems at times that Mother nature is man's most formidable opponent. However, the good that is shining through all of this is how truly amazing and kind the people of Alberta are, and how, together, we'll be able to patch up our city and go forth as planned. The Calgary police service, the city, fire and EMS have shown how strong and united they can be in grave situations. Our Mayor, Naheed Nenshi, literally stayed awake for days on end as he reported the situation to the world. How wonderful to see when other Mayors in Canada are stepping down due to drug scandals and fraud claims. People are moving rapidly to donate and help their friends, families, neighbors, and people they've never before met. It's a beautiful thing to watch a City rise up from and against the mud and debris left by this terrible catastrophe.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lameness & Dandelions

This was Jingle about 3 weeks ago, all saddled up after a good ride.

Now, after a little over two weeks, my horse is still lame. How exceptionally frustrating. Even more annoying is Jingle is only very slightly off on his front left. Some days he's maybe functioning at 95% of his capacity, whereas at his worst he was still functioning at around 85%.

A lame Jingle means a lot of driving to the barn to sit and watch and worry about my pony...

my oversized co-pilot generally tags along for these adventures.

What a believe started this whole lameness issue was me putting Jingle out to pasture. All winter he was out with mares during the day, and then stalled during the evening. Well, it turns out that when mares go into heat my very mild-mannered, polite gelding turns into a bit of a wannabe stallion. Uh-oh. So, he was banished to a tiny paddock during the day and hand-walked in at night. I had always planned to put Jingle outside for Spring and Summer, so the timing worked out well. Jingle went out with Brigitte's gelding, Mac, and all seemed well. The boys were getting along, the sun was shining, life was good... then, rain, a few weeks of it..

"I will roll in this puddle mahm, I will."

Well I suspect that all their super-funzies gallivanting created a situation where my horses leg slipped one way and his body slipped the other. Wahbam. Lame horse.

I put Jingle on a three day round of bute, it didn't seem to help. In the process he was an absolute ass-face when it came to tube-bute, but I happily discovered my horse could care less about added powder in his grain.

"What iz this? It smells like rockets and drugs"

"Meh, I'll eat it"

"Mac is so jealous of me and how pretty and special I am, laaadeedaa"

If there was any inflammation from a pulled muscle, bute didn't seem to help, nor did it even mask any of Jingle's offness. My farrier came out, found a slight pulse and some hoof tenderness, so we chased an abscess. Oh man, did I ever want it to be an abscess... easypeasylemonsqueezy.

I also discovered during this time that Walmart now has a large variety of fun coloured duct-tape. So Jingle got really fun bright turquoise vet-wrap and party cheetah duct-tape - hurray for my pony princess!

It wasn't an abscess, a week later my horse is no worse and no better than he was a week previous. The only thing that came from our jaunt down poultice-lane was me, a blubbering mess, getting my farrier to educate me on all the different hoof-related diseases and ailments after a boarder (stupidly) asked me "Are you sure it's an abscess, or has he foundered?" Cue smug "I know everything" look from her, cue Louisa calling her farrier in a total strung-out mess "OMG IS HIS COFFIN BONE ROTATED?!?!!?!?!?!" No. It's not. Coffin bone is good.

So, I sucked it up and called the vet, only to discover that the top lameness guys wont travel out "as far as my barn" (45 minutes... pretty sure the receptionist thinks my barn is a ranch in the mountains). The other vets were all booked straight for a week and a half, except for the two days I can't make it to the barn during the day. So, we have a vet appointment for Monday the 24.

In the mean-time, I had an osteopath out to look at my boy. No surprise he was tense and needed adjustments EVERYWHERE. She did notice that his withers were very misaligned and needed adjustment, his left elbow was also locked, and he had a lot of tension in his shoulder. All points lead to a messed up shoulder, and I was hoping that she was my cure. She worked on him for over an hour (something that really impressed me), and I sincerely hoped that he would be sound when I returned. He was moving better and seemed in better spirits after his adjustment. 

(Except for a slight episode where I left him to walk her to her car and he pulled back and went for a joy-gallop on the barn's front lawn... lovely.. this is my life)

Two days later... no beuno. 


I don't have the money for this. I want my horse to be sound.

So, that's my Jingle-update.

Here's some really nice photos I took of him today in the dandelions. He loves dandelions, he'll eat them for hours and hours on end, avoiding the grass and just nibbling on the flowers. He is the most handsome. I love him. I just want him to get better. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Growing Up: Convocation

I have convocated.

I now have a Bachelor of Arts in Social and Cultural Anthropology, with a Minor in History.

When I tell people my degree the top three questions I get thrown at me are... first, What is that? Anthropology is the study of culture (plain, simple, to the point). Once given that answer they furrow their brow, krinkle their nose and say, Why did you decide to take that? I reply with When I was around 10 years old I went to see Wade Davis, a famous anthropologist and botanist speak, I was enthralled with the world he discussed and decided that, that is what I wanted to be. Then, they say, Well, What are you going to do with it? I smile and reply, Well, I had planned to get my Masters and PhD, but as school went on I realized that horses are a much more important part of my life, so I think i'm going to see where that path takes me instead. Then, I usually receive a bit of a "oh dear" smile because yes... I have obtained a degree that I will probably never use... meaning, I will probably never travel to Africa, and study a tribe, which I will then publish a book on. Such is life.

I was a good student in High School, I received early acceptance into the University of Calgary. This was also the only school I applied too - we didn't have the money for me to go off and study somewhere else. I entered University at the ripe old age of 17, the first day of my second semester of University I turned 18. I got my degree done in 4 years, sometimes I wanted to be there, a lot of times I didn't, I received good grades, bad grades and a lot of in-between grades. Now, I have a degree at 21, as it stands I could be doing a lot worse. Despite the fact I won't become an anthropologist, I will use my degree in different ways.

University taught me many things, I will list what I think the most important are here:
  •  You may not love where you are in the moment, but you gotta keep going.
On the eve of my second year, heading into my third, I realized that I wasn't very happy with where I was school-wise. I knew I loved horses, I knew that I wanted horses to be a major part of my life. I decided to myself that I would become a vet. Becoming a vet would mean pulling up my pants and really getting to work, my grades were nowhere near the 3.7-4.0 gpa range one needs to get into vet school. It would also mean taking a semester "off" to upgrade some of my highschool classes. I spent a good month going over what I should do. I realized that I didn't actually want to be a vet, but that, in the moment, I thought that would be my only way to find myself in a career around horses. I entered my third year in the same program and I laboured on for two more years, for the most part I was unfortunately pretty checked out of my program. However, I was lucky enough to experience some amazing professors at the U of C, I got to take fun and wild and intriguing classes. Some of my favourites included classes on creativity, story, religion and my all time favourite - a high level History class on the Canadian West, where I got to write an in-depth paper on the differences and similarities between Canadian and Northern American cowboys vs. Southern American and Mexican cowboys. I may have not been 100% where I wanted to be, but I also knew that I was fortunate enough to be where I was, and that obtaining a degree at the end of it was well worth it.
  • Allow yourself to love and be interested in things that may not be the most lucrative
I am a storyteller, I love stories. I ended up with a minor in History simply because I loved History classes. I took as many religion classes as I could because I find religion fascinating. I bounced around through different anthropology topics because I loved how anthropology can find a niche in just about any "world" - political, the business sector, a small tribe in africa, etc. I often came up against people who snickered at the title "Bachelor of Arts", who mocked my degree for what it represented, and who felt the need to remind me that their degrees in Finance, Accounting and Engineering would "get them a job at the end of this". Well, isn't that nice. The statistic is that more than 50% of people will leave their first field and embark on totally different careers in their lifetime, so congrats, you may have a job at the end of this, but you won't stay there. I, very quickly, came to care less about those comments. Perhaps those people that scoffed at me desperately, secretly, wanted to be in a degree that was a little on the "lighter" side of things, perhaps they didn't - perhaps they truly loved where they were. To me, it doesn't matter, because I knew where I wanted to be, concern yourself with who you are, not who other people think you should be.
  • My Degree taught me patience, commitment, research methods, and communication skills
The above skills are priceless. Being in a degree you aren't entirely commited to takes a lot of commitment and patience to labour through. Being in a degree where your finals are often 30 page indepth research papers about obscure topics teaches you commitment, how to communicate properly and how to research the living hell out of something. Over my 4 years I wrote papers on theorists, religion, tribes, politics, and every other topic under the sun. Yes, as some may joke, I learned a lot about things that I can fascinate people with at dinner parties. Atleast I'm not boring. Moreover, I have the confidence to hold my own in conversations - not just at dinner parties, but with respected, wiser people than myself. I know now how to communicate clearly, precisely, and effortlessly in many different settings and situations. University is less about what your studying and more about how your studying - obtaining a degree shows people that you can be commited, that you can get through something, and that you can emerge successful on the other side.

A lot of people seem to think that obtaining a degree signifies growing up, and growing older. What does that mean to me? Well, lately I've been joking it means putting on weight easier and quicker, and really bad hangovers. (I stand by this statement) Other than that, I'm not quite sure what it means, obviously more responsibility, I am now more accountable for my actions than ever before - perhaps not personally, or at home, where i've always been accountable, but definitely in the eyes of the world. I'm also in a bit of a different place in my own life, for the first time in 6 years I will not be packing up my bags and living at my ranch for the summer. In a way, the closing of the ranch was a very definitive moment in my life, it was the closing of a chapter, and a push onto a new path in life. For as many dreams as I found, imagined and captured amongst the hills of the Red Deer River and the Grease Creek, a thousand others were waiting in the shadows - unable to be realized or caught while I was still engrossed in that place. It's a funny thing, aspirations, isn't it? Maybe that's what part of growing up is, realizing that some chapters do need to end for new chapters to begin. It isn't always easy, and it isn't always pretty. A part of me still thinks, knows, is, shrivelled up and in a dark corner due to being forced to leave a place I so often saw as my physical and spirtual home. Another part of me is growing up, and out, and is allowing myself to experience new things and "go out on a limb" so to speak. I recognize that many of the new and exciting ventures I have been finding myself in this year is due to that closing chapter.

Finally, the act of walking across the stage really doesn't excite me much. These traditions are much more for the family than the person. For me, symbolically going to university was more for my mom than myself. I grew up in a home where post-secondary was not an option, sometimes, in dark places where I was struggling with who I was and what I was doing, I would blame my mother for putting me there. However, I now know how young I was when I entered University. University gave me a four year structure where I could bounce around and change my whims and cares, but still grounded me in doing something. I am very thankful I was nudged into an undergraduate degree. I guess growing up also means facing into some demons you don't always wish to partake in. My family history isn't always as cheery and bright as some. My legal last name is my father's last name, ever since I was a baby I have been going by a double barrel last name of both of my parents. Once I turned 18 my mother wanted me to legally change my name, the only reason I didn't do it was because of how much time, effort and money changing a name requires. She wanted the name on my degree to be the double barrel last name, and it wont be, I know she is dissapointed and I regret not getting my shit together and doing it. However, a part of me can't help but be slightly annoyed over the fact that adult decisions on a tiny little infant have such ramificating consequences when that infant reaches adulthood. My father wont be at my graduation, this year I made the decision to no longer communicate with him for a variety of reasons. Just as in everything in life, a simple moment, a quick walk across a stage, always represents more than it lets on to.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Little Life Update

I've been a pretty bad blogger lately.

My life is consumed with three and a half jobs, totalling about 50-60 hours a week, when I'm not working I'm at the barn, and before you got all excited about how awesome we've been doing, and how amazing of a rider I am, and how my horse is a mystical unicorn that now excels in cow work... Jingle was put outside for the spring/summer at the beginning of last week and pulled a muscle in his shoulder (I think) because "omgz.I am the most excited to play "let's run around like fuckheads" with Mac, my new best friend."
Thursday we had one of those "look at all this possible potential bubbling up to the surface, we must ride. every. day. to. grasp. it" rides. Friday I came out all excited to rock the shit out of riding, and Jingle felt very slightly off. I got off and lunged him and you could barely tell from the ground but his front right was just slightly off. Sigh. I put liniment on him, gave him some love, cookies and a pep talk about getting better, and then left him. Sunday I came out, still sore. Last night (Monday) I went out and he still seemed ever so slightly off, better than the weekend, but still not 100% so I didn't ride.

Jingle is also deathly terrified of anything to do with his right side, it's really special. So we'll be lunging all pretty, he'll just be walking, and then he decides to switch gears and attempt to go the other way. Any normal horse you could easily get after this behaviour and get him back on the right direction, my horse LOOSES.HIS.MIND. It then turns into me soothing him while he attempts to reverse into walls. It's really cute. So, after a lot of work on "hey, lunge this way", I had to get the lunge whip out because he was just being a total goon. Whips are his mortal enemy, he turns into a puddle of sadness on the ground and whimpers about them. So, we had to take some time to desensitize to the whip while he shook. Then finally he decided he would lunge the direction I wanted and I got a look at that leg, like I said stiff but better. I had a lesson planned for Wednesday and if he's still off then I may call a vet out, otherwise, I'm just hoping and praying the big doofus just pulled a muscle and will be right as rain by Wednesday.

So, I haven't been riding my horse much at all, with the saddle-fit issues earlier in the month, being so busy and now this new sore-ness. I'm dissapointed, I just wannaaaa rideeee.

In other news, I got a job with a cutting horse trainer as one of her assistants, so that is exciting. Her horses are mostly kept outside, so there isn't a lot of stall cleaning, just feeding, cleaning pens and exercising horses... so i'm getting quite a bit of horse time in there.