Good Rides, Bad Eyes

Thankfully, I had a lovely hack on Eli on Tuesday evening. It kind of made my whole week, right there. Like, hey, we’re not that out of sync and I need just to remember how to ride him–no cruise control on horses, duh. Somehow the weather provided just enough rain at the barn to make the footing perfect, and the light was low enough that I didn’t need my sunglasses, but not so low as to make Eli think, “LIONS.” And a gorgeous sunset capped off the day!

trotting from patentlybay on Vimeo.

canter poles from patentlybay on Vimeo.

Wednesday evening, I didn’t get away from work until 7:15, so that meant riding under the lights. Again, Eli, although a bit pokey, rode quite well and we even took a few canter poles. Miffed them the first time through but the following passes from both leads worked out well–I think he understood that he had to pay attention to where his feet were going. It was a later night than usual for me, and I am a bit more tired that I would like today, and work is just as hectic as ever (do we not already have all the laws ironed out?).

The following video is just Eli practicing standing still — but his tail cracks me up.  Otherwise yawn.

dismount from patentlybay on Vimeo.

Now, on to a non-horsey topic, and not one I would typically give too many details on, but this was so novel to me and I think sharing a little could help some people. My eyes are still a problem, but I also now have treatments that seem to be working. I have a few things going on with my left eye, and one of the symptoms was a persistent dull ache; another symptom was photosensitivity. I went to the eye doctor on Monday (something tells me I’ll be visiting much more frequently than once a year from now on) and we discussed my symptoms again. He checked a few different things about both of my eyes and examined my left eye more thoroughly. He then said, “You have rosacea. Have you heard of that?” My response was, “Yeah, thanks, I know. What about my eye?” Doctor: “You have rosacea in your eye.”

WHA … ??? Huh … ??? Whhffphh?

High confidence of efficacy of dexamethasone … IN HORSES. Seems to be working on my eye …

PSA, readers. You can get rosacea in your eye, and it can mess with your vision if left untreated. If you have ANY bothersome symptoms in your eyes, go to an ophthalmologist ASAP. You might be thinking it’s just allergies but it might not be. I am treating the rosacea now, and I think the treatment is helping at least some. But mostly, how freaking weird is that?!?!  I can’t recommend googling images of ocular rosacea–mine must be a mild case that we’ve caught early. Maybe just stick with reading the Mayo Clinic pages about it, if you’re curious.

Riding with Uncertainty

A more accurate title of this post would be “riding whilst uncertain about something outside of riding that could affect my riding.” But that’s too long. I’m going for a little practicality here.

Anyone getting on a horse is probably comfortable with a moderate amount of uncertainty (or just stupid, either way) because of the nature of horses. Is he going to spook at that pile of poles the ninth time we trot past, after trotting past eight other times without incident? Is he going to step on a rock and come up lame from a stone bruise that later abscesses? Am I going to see a stupid distance and fail to make a decision so that my horse stops and I end up picking splinters out of my teeth?

We of course also ride with uncertainty about our own skills and abilities. Is my horse not getting his leads because I suck at it? Or is it because he hurts? Or maybe he doesn’t care even if I am asking correctly? Or maybe it’s Tuesday?

We even all experience a little bit of daily uncertainty about whether we will be able to afford this sport for much longer or at all. We sometimes question whether the time we put in is worth the stress these animals can cause us. We spend too much on vet bills, we try to fit square pegs into round holes, we try to get better every day even in the face of setbacks in communication, health, finances, the wrong tack, daylight savings, or footing.

The view may change but the perspective will not

Personally, I have already worked through a lot of this uncertainty — I am comfortable with my shortcomings as a rider, knowing that I try to improve every time I get on my horse (plus he keeps improving, too, so that helps). I am comfortable with horses being unpredictable. I accept that my wallet is not a good match for equine pursuits but I will pursue regardless. The uncertainty I am not comfortable with, that I am facing now, has to do with my health. Specifically, my vision. I’m losing it, apparently. And not in an “I just need a stronger prescription for eyeglasses” way. Totally annoying.

The first thing that comes to mind is always the worst case scenario and I don’t think that’s me. Not yet. I can still see, I just have a blind spot that will probably never go away. I don’t know how much or if this will change over time. The vision loss I have experienced thus far was not even obvious to me until I went in for my regular annual eye exam and once the eye patch was over my right eye during the visual field exam I noticed that there was something very, very wrong with my left eye. “Like, whoa, that is fucked up” was my first thought. I didn’t think much about it after that and just let my eye doctor tell me about the possibilities and request more diagnostic exams for me and prescribe me some eye drops.

And then I got to the barn. It kind of hit me then. What will the barn be like if I can’t see? What will riding be like? No, I will not give up riding no matter how much my vision dwindles over time. It may not even get all that much worse with treatment. But if I ever lose so much vision that I have to change how I ride or which horses I ride–what will that be like? How much vision loss is enough to say “no more jumping”? I even think that if I could, I’d trade my hearing to get my vision back. Which is a selfish and childish thing to think, but really, I don’t need to hear anything else ever again. However, I need to see.

perspective from patentlybay on Vimeo.

This isn’t even that much of an issue yet, but the uncertainty about how long my vision will last makes me consider the future in a much different light. There are plenty of people with far worse conditions who ride in the face of disabilities and adversity no matter what. Seeing them do it — I know I can, too. Not riding is not on the table.

What uncertainties related to riding have you grappled with?

Gaslight

Have you seen the movie? The one where a husband gradually wears down his wife’s sanity by telling her small lies and convincing her she’s just hearing and seeing things that aren’t there? If not, watch it. If so, then perhaps you can appreciate this: You can’t gaslight me on fence height. Hillary’s post on developing an eye for fence height got me thinking–there are definitely people with no eye for judging fence height, and perhaps they assume that people will just go along with their assessment of how high they think they are jumping their horses.

twosix

This wall is 2’6″. The standards are 5′. Not difficult to gauge.

Perhaps when I was younger a little lying worked on me, because I wanted it to. I wanted to think I was just jumping 3′ even if I jumped higher. It kept me focused on the ride rather then the fence height, this at a time when social media didn’t exist. Flash forward to today, and I see a whole lot of Internet wishful-thinkers posting about how high they are jumping, accompanied with pictures that most certainly are not of a fence that is the height they say it is.

Why? I don’t get it. What does anyone gain from lying in such a way that is so demonstrably and immediately false? Why do people think they can convince others of falsehoods simply by saying them? Do they subscribe to the notion that if they repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it? They will believe it themselves? (What does that remind you of?)

Fence height is a fact that can be either confirmed or proven false easily. So what is the obsession with it? Other than to know you are schooling at or above the height you compete, why is it so important to people to broadcast it repeatedly on social media? I am all for setting goals and sharing accomplishments online–we all do it and quite frankly we all get a lot of support for doing so.  But tacking a number on something that isn’t true is not an accomplishment I’d be sharing with the world. I am so confused by this phenomenon. Help me understand.

That New Car Smell

This post is completely unrelated to horses or dogs.

I had yet another service appointment with the 4Runner on Friday. The check engine light had come on again, and I dreaded the result. Another $900 repair estimated, requiring a part that the service center probably couldn’t get until after Thanksgiving, and meanwhile the 4Runner could have possibly become undriveable while I waited on the part.

After a REALLY good run of over a decade and 225,000 miles on the engine, I traded in my beloved 4Runner Limited for a 2017 RAV4 XLE. I traded in the 4Runner as is, with the $900 repair pending and body damage on the passenger driver-side door and running board from years before that I never fixed. The deal I got was more than fair, to be quite honest. However, I had not exactly planned on this whole scenario on Friday, so cleaning out the 4Runner took a little while and I still have to drop the title off at the dealership after work today. Lots of service records and odds and ends made their way into the 4runner, never to be touched again until Friday — I even found a football game ticket from 2005 to the Saints v. Lions game in San Antonio, sadly courtesy of Katrina.

Driving a low-to-the-ground V4 will take some time getting used to, but the new car is cute and most importantly RELIABLE in an under-warranty kind of way. The 4Runner had been reliable for 11 years, but this last year was the end for me.

dash

The new car also has a bunch of features that I don’t really need, but I suppose joining the 21st century of car technology won’t be so bad.

rav4

I think right now, I will miss the heated leather seats of the 4Runner the most, but not the MPG.