The life of Iggy

I’ve been a slacker, in large part because I have no photos and it makes me sad to write without photos because I’m apparently 7 and need pictures in my stories.

LOL my boots, my mother would be ashamed

We’ve been plugging along riding again, under our weird, but entirely manageable new guidelines. Iggy is on day turnout again so I usually can grab him straight from his pasture and never even go inside the barn. My SUV’s entire cargo area is now a tack room with various stages of organization depending on day/time/weather/moon stage/what I had for breakfast. We’ve been asked to ride outside as much as possible and luckily the weather has mostly held up so that’s been the easiest of all!

I SWEAR IT STARTS OFF ORGANIZED EVERY WEEKEND

Over the last few weeks we’ve taken a few lessons, both jump and dressage. Nothing to worry about having not been over anything in > 6 weeks, Iggy was like, “No worries, I got this mom” and stepped right up to the plate. My biggest thing with this horse (mainly jumping, but really all the time) is not letting him rush/run off his feet. He’s a forward little guy, but sometimes I egg him on or get ahead and pretty soon we’re like a little matchbox car going faster and faster and faster but not really like… going anywhere. Whoops.

A mini donk for your viewing pleasure

I’m definitely still figuring him out over fences, but it’s much of the same on my end: keep your upper body back, pick up your hands, close your leg. Thankfully it seems to be working because my lower leg has never been more solid and even when he pulled a straight up PONY MOVE the other day, I didn’t budge.

Finally putting on some muscle after losing it all 🤦‍♀️

I’ve been downright giddy over his dressage work. It’s amazing how much easier it is to package up and ride a horse when you’re well sized for each other. Not to mention, finding my glass slipper dressage saddle last fall which thankfully still works for Iggy. He’s going super well in the Bombers Loose Ring Happy Tongue and I actually ended up buying it in the 2.5 ring for jumping as well.

We love it even if we look very unimpressed here

We’ve also been taking breaks and going for road hacks (you might have seen via Instagram). This seems very benign, but anyone who has known me a long time riding-wise knows it’s very much not. After my accident, riding outside an area was terrifying for years. I wasn’t comfortable on a trail ride until about 4 years ago and when I first got Doc, the idea of riding in the fields or galloping on the track was still scary. He gave me a lot of of that confidence back and so when Iggy needed a break last Sunday, a nice walk along the country road it was. Luckily our barn is in a pretty rural, farm-heavy area so it’s (as safe as it can be) safe to ride on the road/shoulder. Needn’t have worried as Iggs hasn’t put a foot wrong and seems to absolutely love going out and having a change of scenery.

Midwest life at its finest

We actually got to ride in our re-scheduled Sharon White clinic this weekend so I can’t wait to share more about that, but figured a general update was in order too.

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Not bored in the house, in the house not bored

(If you don’t understand the title, I made the mistake of downloading Tik Tok and now this is a thing in my life)

Also THIS is a real diagnosis that showed up in one of my EDs and I have SO MANY QUESTIONS

If quarantine has taught me anything about myself, it’s that I’m really bad at being bored. Once work settled into a manageable routine and flow, my days suddenly opened up and because I wasn’t riding or leaving the house… things happened.

Bathroom when I moved in

It started innocently enough: I thought, oh I’ll try some color samples to paint my bathroom. At 5pm on a Friday night.

It started out innocently

Fast forward to 9:30pm and it was painted. Oops.

Fast forward a few weeks and I had redone the entire thing.

Not to say I’m not happy about it. I’m obsessed and in love with it. I did all the work myself and did the entire thing for about $350. I have plans to do the shower next, but some other projects took priority so that’s hopefully a late summer to-do.

I’ve been wanting to add trim to my windows for a year, but hadn’t gotten around to it either. So, while waiting for paint to dry in the bathroom or something, I just… went to town.

Fast forward a few weeks (are you seeing a trend?) and all the windows in the house are trimmed out. Only three are primed so far because I effing hate primer, and none are painted, but the actual construction of them is complete and I love them. I can’t believe how much character they give to my little builder basic house. Plus, any time I get to bust out my trim nailer makes me a very happy camper.

In the middle of these projects, I decided my workbench area in the garage was a mess (it was) and needed help (it did). One pegboard later, things were improved, if not perfect.

But then I remembered the cabinet I’d bought for the laundry room that has been living in my kitchen for a few months. If I put it up and took down the shelf, the shelf could go into the garage…

So Sunday while waiting for the lawn mower to charge (I have a battery powered mower and it’s amazing and awesome), I took down the shelf and nearly had the cabinet up before realizing trying to hang a cabinet solo while standing on top of the dryer was… not one of my brighter moments. And remembered that time I promised my father I’d stop doing stupid things like moving cabinets as big as I am by myself. So, assistance was requested and by afternoon, the laundry room had a lovely cabinet and the garage had a new shelf.

But if you thought that’s all… well… I decided after doing my bathroom, I wanted to do the second bath too. So an afternoon of paint and a quick fixture change later, it was halfway improved (mirror, faucet and vanity TBD).

Yet, I can’t seem to stop myself. My garage has two walls drywalled, the rest are just studs and insulation. I’ve been wanting to finish the drywall, but… well, that pesky promise to my dad extends to drywall panels apparently. I found someone who was up for doing it next week since it’s a no-human-contact job, so assuming I get the garage cleared out this weekend… next week it will be drywalled and I can finally put up shelves and organize it!

Don’t worry, this is what my bedroom wall looks like…

My Excel sheet of house projects was at 48 pre-quarantine and I’m down 13 projects since SIP started so I’m feeling pretty accomplished, all things considered.

But, just in case I get too high and mighty, there also may be eight sample colors of paint on my bedroom wall and I might hate all of them, plus the cabinets for my kitchen island in the garage that can’t move forward until I pick a color for them. Oops.

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Confessing to my sins

Literally. Just a list. I’ll say more later but I need to like… write this down to face up to my sins.

  • Used CWD Figure 8 Bridle
  • Invictus half pad (okay, ordered pre-pandemic though!)
  • Dy’on reins
  • Athleta sports bra
  • Albion dressage girth
  • Majyk Equipe space (ice) boots
  • Ego7 show shirt
  • Custom browband
  • Two custom bonnets
  • Grey Horse Candle Co. candles
  • Jo Malone candle
  • Nespresso pods
  • Lou & Grey sweatpants
  • M-61 Power Peels
  • $200 worth of lumber from Home Depot
  • 8 qts of paint from Sherwin Williams
  • 3 qts of paint from Benjamin Moore
  • Stop molding from Menards
  • A jigsaw
  • A new carpenter’s square
  • Drawer pulls
  • Cabinet knobs
  • Bathroom faucets
  • Towel hooks
  • A MINDD bra
  • Bathroom light fixture + bulbs
  • Towel ring + toilet paper holder
  • A fly sheet

I… think that’s everything? This is what happens when you lock me inside my house without my pony OKAY.

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Thoughts from the ED (from home)

I just finished this post and went back to proofread and realized it reads like a latter from war, which is depressing, but also they don’t get to go bra-less in war, so we’re WAY better off (besides all the obvious reasons). I thought about not posting it, but it’s my blog and these are my experiences and writing them down has been therapeutic…

Still here, still healthy, still alive (and thankful for all). Still working 7 days a week, with no real set hours (true story: this week someone asked me my work hours and all I could say was…. all of them?) except maybe when I’m asleep which ranges from 10pm to 2am. Great fun. I’m in a weird in-between area where I’m working from home, but also very much on the frontlines of this thing from a logistical and strategic point of view. I’m constantly on the phone with my physicians who are there, I’m coordinating clinical initiatives… It’s a strange place to be.

Breaking up my walls of text with random photos. Iggy, from my BO, on Monday.

My barn followed suit after my self-quarantine last week and shut down to everyone except essential staff. I did go out on Sunday morning (uh, I think it was Sunday?) and grab some tack that needed cleaning. To clean with all my abundant spare time I guess? Yeah, I don’t know either, but having a saddle sitting on my kitchen chair and a bridle on the table makes me HAPPY OKAY.

As much as this all just royally sucks, professionally it’s been a huge opportunity for me (and yes, I have a lot of guilt around that I’m dealing with). My skills are put to use every single day, I haven’t been this challenged in years and I love it – it’s the kind of work and thinking I thrive on. I keep the guilt at bay knowing it’s not as though I caused this and my output is directly affecting patient care and our physicians positively. (Doing some cool things around resource utilization planning, staffing quarantines and clinical predictive models to identify patients at high-risk of complications early.) The whole team is working equally as hard and we’re all planning our vacations come the end of this… mine is going to include a super long massage, just saying.

A local Girl Scout delivered cookies to my porch. AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, that kid.

My days are bookended with my scavenging my kitchen for something easy, edible and containing some nutritional value, showering and collapsing into bed. The weather has finally started to perk up some, so the windows are open and the fresh air has been a welcome addition to my day.

Finn the JRT likes to see what’s happening at work

Not much pony-related to relay – Iggy is living his grand old life, playing with his buddies in turnout (got a video of that yesterday), begging my BO for cookies and generally thinking he’s retired. That’s going to come as a rude awakening…

I ordered an Invictus half pad over a month ago and while Invictus was AMAZING to work with, DHL somehow… misplaced it for a month and then suddenly this showed up.

Spring season is all but canceled. Hopefully we’ll still get to have event camp in June and show this fall, but I’m not holding my breath or making plans for much right now. There’s a very real possibility we see a resurgence/second wave (feels wrong to talk about while we’re still in the first, right?) this fall and even if the public measures taken aren’t as extreme, work will be right back here all over again.

Not much more to report – Finn the JRT now thinks he eats dinner at 3:30pm because his sense of time is completely miswired, I have no idea what day of the week it is at any given moment, and I rotate through three pairs of the Best Sweatpants Ever. My fun for the weekend was mowing my lawn and my new hobby is letting the dog in and out 968234 times a day.

He did enjoy surveying his newly-mowed kingdom

Stay healthy, stay sane, wash your hands and hug your horse if you still can. More from the frontlines later…

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Quarantine

Remember that time I rode my horse and blogged and had a life outside of work? Yeah, it was also in the pre-global pandemic times.

Those who have followed along with my brain melting down over on Instagram are probably a little more in tune with what’s been happening, but I’ll summarize because we’re all a little brain melt-y right now.

Someone is enjoying this

Essentially, I work in emergency medicine for a large medical school/health system that staffs 10 hospitals with 250ish physicians and 75 NP/PAs. In a “regular” year, we see about 350,000 patient visits. This is not a normal year. I’m in analytics and business intelligence which in short regular speak means if there’s a metric/data piece, I handle it. I track… everything. And during this time? I track all the things, all the time.

It’s meant some long days, but nothing compared to my clinicians who are on the frontlines, putting themselves at risk. All I can do is sit at home and try to support as much as I can. It’s meant that riding my horse has slowed way down and fallen down on my priority list.

I did discover this diagnosis someone had, which was entertainment for a few days at least

Last week I managed to make it out three times to ride – Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We had an awesome jump lesson Saturday I’m excited to write about sometime (maybe) and played with our new bit on Sunday. I probably drive everyone around me crazy, but I just freaking love this pony. He’s so game, so much fun and each ride we figure each other out a little more. I hope we have a chance to get out this summer – I already know he’s going to be a total blast XC.

Unfortunately, Sunday was also my last day at the barn for a while. My (awesome, fantastic) roommate is an inpatient pharmacist who has now been assigned to an ICU floor full of COVID suspected/positive patients. She stays out of patient rooms and does her best, but I have to operate under the assumption that she, and therefore I, have been exposed.

My barn is a fantastic place full of amateurs – many over the age of 45-50. My barn owner/trainer is the primary caretaker for her 87 year old father. Other riders are nurses, scientists, mothers – people who can’t afford to get sick or take it home to their loved ones.

I realized last night there was no way for me to justify going to the barn right now. A shitty decision? Uh, yeah. The right decision? Absolutely, 100%. I would not be able to live with myself if something happened due to my need to ride my horse. It’s a privilege and a luxury, it is not a right. I would feel like the world’s worst hypocrite working in EM with a public health background, scolding people for not respecting quarantine, only to turn around and decide I’m better so I can go see my pony.

Someone had some epic bed head on Sunday

I don’t have a single sign or symptom, nor does my roommate, but in these times… I don’t think you can be too careful.

So, for the next few weeks, I’ll be here, at my computer, working, trying to keep our hospitals open and running as efficiently as possible, staring at photos of Iggy on my phone and waiting for the day that we can all emerge on the other side of this.

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Things I Bought & Liked

Along with the new horse has come a number of new items, mostly small one off things that don’t necessarily need a full post review.

Etsy Blanket Tags

I didn’t like any of the plastic or metal tags I could find online to identify Iggy’s blankets. So I went a different route – keychain tags. I placed a custom order with ___ and within a few days I had adorable light blue and navy blanket tags (color coordinate or don’t bother thank u very much). I sprayed them down with a coat of ScotchGuard and off to the barn they went. It’s still early, but I’m impressed. They’re easy to spot versus some of the small tags and they’ve stayed readable and clean despite their light color and the mud swamp we now live in.

Stall Sign from PalletsbyCatherine

I don’t think there’s much to really review for a stall sign, but… here is it? Iggy was looking like the poor temporary kid with a piece of paper with his name on it on his stall. None of our stalls have true nameplates, but all the other horses had pretty painted ones, so I decided Iggs needed one too. I ordered his from this Etsy store and it came quickly and is so cute.

Schneiders Adjusta Fit V-Free Midweight Blanket Liner

IGGY APPROVES

A few weeks ago the temperatures did their Indiana thing and dropped something like 30 degrees overnight, meaning we had a few days with highs in the single digits to teens. AKA the days I question my sanity for living here. Iggy had a sheet and a medium, but no heavy and I had a moment of total panic realizing that nothing I had was going to be warm enough for my horse. In a blind fit of ‘take my money’, I ordered a 280g liner from Schneiders with two day shipping. It showed up the next day and has been used a half dozen or so times since.

They run a little big so I ordered a 74 and while it’s a smidge tight around his chest, any bigger would have been too big for him. It has holes for straps to be fed through that keep it in place and make it pretty universal in terms of what blanket you use it with. My biggest annoyance with it is that it has a closed front, but I also get that an open one would add bulk there. My annoyance is 100% my own laziness of having to unsnap crossties to put it on.

While it doesn’t feel indestructible, it also doesn’t feel cheap and so far it’s held up well. If it was something that I was going to use daily all winter, perhaps I’d have different feelings, but for something that should get < 20 wears per season, it’s perfect. It doesn’t seem to slip around at all, which I appreciate, and hasn’t caused any rubs or other issues. Each time I’ve pulled it off of him, he’s been toasty but not overheating underneath and I’ll totally admit I’ve wrapped myself up in it more than once. I have only used it with a 200g medium over it, but I’m sure it would work just as well with other weights. I think it’s a really good option if you live somewhere you may not need a liner full-time and you can’t beat Scheniders sales.

EquiFuse Gleam Moisturizer and Shine Serum

I have no great tail photo because #mud so instead please look at the length of my horse’s eyebrow whisker

I feel like I’m the last person to find out about this stuff, but wow. No matter how rats nest-y tails have gotten this year (uh mud dreadlocks are a thing), some of this and a Wet Brush have just about any tail in the barn looking lesson worthy. And it smells so good. I’ve converted about half the barn and already purchased the rest of the EquiFuse line and now I’m just counting down the days until it’s bath time.

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Auburn Eventing Online Auction

Many of y’all know I’m an Auburn alumna (and if you didn’t, I’m genuinely amazed because I’m about as obnoxious as they come). I didn’t ride while I was there, either NCAA or recreationally, and I definitely wasn’t eventing at the time, but it’s been really fun to see the Auburn Eventing team be so successful. (A team that didn’t exist when I was there!)

They currently have an online auction going until Friday, March 13th at 6PM CST. If you’re in the mid-atlantic/southeast, you don’t want to miss it – it’s chock full of lessons, schooling days, LRK3DE tickets, and gift cards for all kinds of things (bags of feed, farriers, coaching). Some things (like a schooling pass to Morven Park) don’t even have a single bid on them yet.

Unfortunately none of the lessons are close enough to me to take advantage of, but if you’re local enough, it’s a great chance to get a great deal and support a great time while you’re at it.

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Work’s out forever

School is not out forever. Well, it is for me because I’m not going back, but mostly that’s just the song stuck in my head right now. Reason being, work feels like it’s out forever. That’s right, we are also on the ‘work from home indefinitely’ train. Which means I still have to, like, work, but I also gained an hour and a half of my day back from commuting and I don’t have to wear pants.

It also means since I live 16 minutes from the barn (8.6 miles exactly, thank you very much) I can squeeze in trips between calls and work and that’s just awesome. Today I went out to give him his Adequan shot, smear goo on his feet (scientifically accurate), give him lots of snoot kisses and insert cookies into mouth. I wanted to ride, but then I came home and COVID-19 proceeded to (continue) to take over my life and I didn’t come up for air until 8:30pm. Have I mentioned how much I love working in emergency medicine?

When they tell me they need daily analytics for testing and screening that don’t exist

Right now, we’ve got daily “COVID-19 Incident Command” calls and I’m on the “Action Task Force”, which makes me feel like a Power Ranger or an Avenger or something, but also means phone calls 7 days a week at 8am. That’s cool M-F, but like, couldn’t COVID just operate during business hours and let everyone have a break on the weekends?

APPARENTLY that’s not how viruses work which is really just rude. So, despite day 1 of home office and making to the barn, no actual riding took place. Luckily I’m still riding the high of two great rides this weekend and tomorrow… well, I have no idea. As much as I’d like to schedule rides and make plans, the truth is this is emergency medicine and things are day-to-day right now.

But they will NOT take my CT (which will be entered as soon as I decide on a show name… tick tock…) and Sharon White clinic from me! (UNIVERSE THIS IS NOT A CHALLENGE BY THE WAY)

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Midwestern Spring

The first weekend that dawns sunny and warm(ish) is always one of my favorites – like a sign we’ve (almost) done it, almost survived another midwestern winter. I saw almost because, inevitably, we will have one more miserable cold snowy spell. My first winter here it happened March 31st and I nearly revolted.

The truth pains me a little

This weekend was that weekend though – sunny, perfect, high 50s (even hit 60 on Sunday) and everyone at the barn had the same giddiness about them. (Side note, once upon a time I would have absolutely mocked anyone who told me high 50s was ‘warm’ or ‘nice out’, but this is what the midwest does to you I guess…) I had a lesson on Saturday, where we finally (!) got to jump some.

Spoiler alert: my pony is perfect. Also, so much fun. He even got elusive compliments from my trainer. We kept it low and simple since we still don’t know each other well and he’s still pretty out of shape. We’re getting there though – a few weeks ago he couldn’t hold his back lead around any corners, but this weekend he only lost it a few times when things got hard and he got tired. Or, uh, I pulled him off it. Mostly I couldn’t stop giggling because he’s just so much fun to ride. Our lesson was mainly focused on overcoming my natural tendency to stick my hands in my crotch and curl forward when I don’t see something/he gets quick/literally anything happens. Which is… not helpful. And then I promptly jump up his neck, which being literally pony sized means I’m at his ears. Instead I think I’m going to be hearing to push myself back, lift my chest, pick up my hands, and stop leaning for the foreseeable future.

This is my barn, pinch me!

Sunday was seriously even nicer out. It wasn’t quite bath temperatures, but I wasn’t able to resist washing legs. I figure if they walk through snow and cold mud in turnout, some cold water isn’t going to hurt them. Even that much was a drastic improvement.

Me, when anyone compliments any of my tack

The barn was absolutely hoppin’ and it was so much fun. I’m at a different barn than Doc was at and it’s 100% eventers and, with the exception of one junior, all amateurs. We have a few other juniors and pros who haul in for lessons, but the boarders are all a super fun solid group of ammies. Everyone was pumped to ride outside and we spent a long time in the outdoor meandering, chatting and goofing off before getting down to work. The ground wasn’t quite dry enough to hack on the cross country course, but even being in the outdoor is an upgrade and I’ll take it. We had an awesome dressage ride and Iggy was downright sweaty at the end of it. He’s apparently set a goal to be the very last horse in the barn to shed out and hasn’t lost a single strand of hair, I’m convinced.

“Bad at the standing still game”: a series

SweatyPants got a looooonng grooming session with all the new products and things I’m trying out after that – all the EquiFuse things, some Pure Sole Hoof Mud for his soft feet, cookies, liniment, BOT and then stuffed full of apples and carrots for being the best boy. I ended up staying to clean tack while chatting and not getting home until close to 7pm and it was honestly just the perfect weekend I needed.

THIS THOUGH!

T-minus two weeks until our (schooling) show debut and three until we get to ride with Sharon White!

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Lessons at a walk

I had already paid up and scheduled my lessons last weekend and was so looking forward to some one on one instruction with Iggs. Until, of course, I got on Saturday morning to find him off at the trot. Like, WHY HORSES WHY.

Well, why is because we are in the middle of switching joint care (Equioxx to Adequan) and his delicate tootsies need front shoes. Good, no acute injuries, but now I had two paid for lessons and a horse who wasn’t going to go do all the things.

Spent most of his theraplate time mugging me for cookies

So, I had a dressage lesson at the walk. Sounds nice and easy, right? WRONG. It was stupidly hard because everything happens in slow motion and it let Kira focus on every tiny thing my body and leg was doing. We did a lot of change of pace within the walk, bending, and working on the transition between the medium walk-free walk-medium walk. The latter being a place that is so easy to give away points in a test. It was actually a great lesson, especially with riding such a new horse. It gave us a chance to slow everything down and figure each other out. There’s no reason (well, rider error) this horse shouldn’t be pulling in 8s and 9s on his walk work this year.

Kira also worked a lot on my leg – within 45 seconds she’d picked out my ongoing issues. Raising my heel to use my leg and turning my toe out: these shouldn’t sound new, because they aren’t. Did we magically solve them? Hah, no. BUT I did come away with a really good new way of thinking about the first one. Essentially, she explained to me that my raising my heel to use my leg is a result of my horse not being reactive enough to my aids. I’m having to raise it to add leg because he’s not listening to my “whisper”. And if I keep doing it, I’m essentially going to untrain my horse to notice that whisper and he’ll only listen to me raising my voice. Lightbulb moment.

I’ve never had a horse react more strongly to BOT products. It’s like sedation for this horse.

Not in that I’m untraining him, but in that I was able to catch myself doing it so much faster. Instead of leg-raise heel-nag, it was ask quietly-ASK LOUDLY-get reaction.

We didn’t have quite the same breakthrough on my toes outward turn, but that’s no surprise. Caroline (Doc’s owner, old trainer) figured out years ago that comes from my hip flexors being tight. The only thing that’s going to solve that issue is stretching and long-term consistent work. It’s definitely gotten better, and hopefully will just continue to.

Old photo, hilarious photo, but plz look at toes 90 degrees to horse

A super interesting thing was also not noticed with my leg (yes, I know that phrase makes no sense but hang with me here). For years, my lower leg has been too far back. “Push your leg forward, Holly” is a refrain I hear in my sleep.

What’s that? My leg two counties away?

Now if you’ll remember, I got my dressage saddle about four days before we retired Doc and my monoflap jump saddle is brand new (and potentially going to work this is an entire other post oh my god I cannot even anymore). And in talking to Kira, we realized that in both saddles… my leg was never out of place. At least in the sense of going too far back. Fascinating stuff.

Which leads me to wondering if my “perfect fit for me” County Conquest was actually somehow shoving my leg out behind me.

It’s long sold and off to a great new home, but it’s definitely left me thinking – did I spend two years fighting my saddle without even realizing it?

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