Monday, November 30, 2009

Lessons learned

I moved to a new boarding facility several months ago. It is an amazing facility with probably the best footing I have ever ridden in. It has a large indoor arena, larger outdoor, 150+ acres of land to ride on, very nice stalls with comfort flooring, and the best hay that money can buy. I was so excited to be there and wanted to get so much done. I was riding 4-5 days a week working on stops, spins and perfecting my circles and was just motoring right along. I was a happy, happy girl. Then I started noticing that Semper wasn't happy. He was getting right down cranky. The straw that broke the camels back was an evening ride that he was just obnoxious. He ran through the bridle, kicked at my spur, wouldn't listen to cues, he was just being an ass. This is extremely out of character for him. He is a pleaser. I tell my friends and family that he is the only male in my life that asks me everyday "what can I do to make you happy today?". And he had quit asking. I knew it wasn't a pain issue. He had just had a massage therapy session, I hadn't changed bridles, or saddles, or saddle pads. His feet are in great shape, he is fit and fat. But still something was wrong. After that fateful ride - it was the worst ride that I have ever had on this horse, ever - I went home upset and confused. What was the deal? What was causing this change in personality in my best friend? I didn't even go to the barn the next night. I started telling my husband of my woe's and he said (he is not a horse person, so this is pretty insightful for him) "maybe it is too much for him". That got me to thinking... Maybe it was too much for him to be schooled 4 or 5 days a week, maybe he is just sick to death of loping circles, stopping and spinning in that wonderful footing. I was so focused on being ready for next years show season and so excited about the new facility and all that I could get done, that I lost sight of my horses "feelings". I am pretty sure he doesn't give a hoot about the footing, about next years show season or the fact that I am excited about it. The thing is that you hear about this all the time. Horses burning out and getting show sour, etc. I, for the the life of me, don't know what I was thinking? I should have known better or at least been able to figure it out on my own - wouldn't you think? I got so wrapped up in my own little world, I forgot about the most important part - my partner.

I am still riding 4 to 5 days a week but only schooling 2 or 3. I have a lesson one night and try to work him a couple times in between. The other days I have been trail riding or fooling around on him bareback. No pressure, just goofing around. I took him to work cows this weekend which he and I both enjoy and we did really well. He is getting back to his old self and starting to enjoy my company again. Lesson learned.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Weight part 2

I decided to go to the consultation. It required a 2 hour class prior to going to meet the doctor. I went and a team of nurses went over all the steps involved in the surgeries that they did at the clinic and the services they offered. It was well done, professional and informative. I had made a list of questions and they answered every one. Then I went to meet the Dr. - I was still wondering what he was going to say. Maybe I was being naive, but I still thought that there might be a chance that I was not over weight enough to quality for surgery. I weighed 252 lbs. He was kind and soft spoken. He went over the surgery options a second time and said that I should review the information that they gave me and if I had any questions to call him. But the decision of whether or not to go through with this was completely up to me and so was the type of procedure. No pressure. I was to go home and think about it, they would follow up with me in a few days to see what I had decided. I talked to my friends and family, tossed and turned, suffered a couple sleepless nights, and finally made my decision.

I decided to have the gastric bypass surgery - but here are the guidelines I set for my self

1. I was going to follow their instructions to the letter.
2 I was going to commit to a complete lifestyle change - 100%
3. I was NOT going to be sick. I was going to follow the prescribed diet. Not going to complain, not going to be a baby!
4. I was going to go into this with a positive attitude that everything was going to go smoothly, I was going to be successful and I was going to be healthy!

I went through all the required classes, evaluations, Dr. appointments, support groups, etc. Never missed one.

My insurance company approved my surgery and I had a date. I went on a liquid diet for 10 days prior to my surgery date. I followed the diet religiously.

June 8, I had surgery. That morning I weighed in at 242. I was out of bed walking around after my surgery, I went home in 2 days. I was riding again in 2 weeks. I have not been sick, thrown up or had any health issues at all. I had my 5 month appointment and don't have to go back for 7 months. My weight loss is above average, my blood work is excellent. To date I have lost almost 80 lbs. I have another 20 - 30 to go. I eat a healthy diet, I don't drink alcohol, don't eat any refined sugar, etc.

The question I get most often is "why couldn't I have done this without surgery?". Because their are no consequences. If I choose to over eat or choose to eat the wrong thing, I will be miserable. Who wants to be miserable?

Of course this is all pretty new. I work at it everyday and have kept that positive attitude and my commitment to being healthy and happy. This is my time, for me and my horses!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Weight, Weight, Weight.

I have been giving a lot of thought to this post. Some of you will think my actions are reasonable and some will think that I was looking for the easy way out. I have heard it all. I know why I chose the path I did and it is working out well for ME. I am not advocating anything I have done to be right for anyone else. You have to find what works for you.

I was 65 lbs when I started kindergarten. I have old photos and I wasn't really obese. I was chunky. I was the tallest in my class and don't really look out of place or stand out as the fat kid. My family are large, heavy boned people. I have never had a broken bone (should have probably had a few!) and neither has any of my brothers. My freshman year in high school I was 160 lbs. and my mom was after me to lose weight. I was extremely active but I also ate like a man that put in a 60 hour week finishing concrete! My mom decided it was time that she intervene. She called the family doctor who happened to live across the street and asked him to prescribe some diet pills for me. My mom could be pretty persuasive when she wanted to be and he, without hesitation, called in a script. This is where is all started. I did diet pills for about 4 months the spring and summer of my freshman year. I went back to school as a sophomore at 125 lbs and looking good - if I do say so myself. I had all the curves in all the right places and wasn't really afraid to show them off. I had stopped growing in height in about 5th grade and so now at 5'6" I was of average height among my peers. Where I was above average was in the D-cups I was sporting. Boobs are powerful things when you are 15. I used diet pills on and off all through high school and when I graduated I was at 135 lbs. The 2 years after high school I got up to about 160 which was really a pretty good weight for me.

Then came marriage and kids. And pounds. I took most of the weight off after my first child, then again after my second (with the help of Rx diet pills). I was at 233 when I got pregnant with my son. I was at 230 when he was delivered full term. I vowed that I would not gain another pound during pregnancy with him and I did really well. No diet pills, just eating right and not huge quantities. I got down to 170 that year. That was 18 years ago.

The next 12 years I just didn't give a damn. I didn't have horses in my life then, I was working full time in a job that I hated in a town 25 miles from home, I basically lived and breathed through my kids and husband. I got up to over 300. Can't tell you how much over because the scale only went to 300. I would guess about 320 at my heaviest. I was wearing a size 22 - 24 jeans and a XXX top. Those D-cups were now G cups. Do you know how hard it is to find a G cup and how expensive they are? But I guess since you can use them as a hat - yes they were as big as my head - you have to pay for the dual purpose! Our family doctor had passed away and so I didn't have that direct line to the RX diet pills anymore and my doctor wouldn't give them to me. He said "Just quit eating and get some exercise", so helpful. I finally changed jobs, still working full time, but in a better place. I had 3 kids in 4-H, gymnastics, dance, karate, baseball, and every other sport you can dream of. I didn't really a have a lot of time to exercise. I was looking online and found that you could get Rx diet pills on line by simply filling out a questionnaire. Here we go again! I got the diet pills and in 7 months I was back down to 220. Around this time horses came back into my life and I was feeling really good about where things were heading. Then my mom died. Then my brother died. I gained back 30 lbs. but I maintained that weight for about 4 years. I was heavy but I was coping. I was wearing a size 18 pants, still in the G-cup, 18-20 top. I was riding alot, my kids were growing and getting out on there own more, I was finding a balance in my life.

I had heard our local hospital had an excellent weight loss program that included weight loss surgery. My insurance covered weight loss surgery so I called to make an appointment for a consultation. I was told that since they weren't a "center of excellence" that my insurance wouldn't cover the visit. They offered to put me on a waiting list until they became certified. I agreed to that and then just kind of forgot all about it.

I decided that I was going to lose weight the right way. Exercise and eating right. I joined the gym and started eating right in Oct. I was at 265 lbs. I exercised for at least an hour a day 4 to 5 days a week, rode at least 5 days a week and really ate a very healthy conservative diet. I didn't give up alcohol but I gave up all sweets, breads, fats, and was eating 3 balanced meals a day with no snacking in between. I was feeling better but didn't feel like I had lost any weight or inches. I didn't weigh until March 1st. I wanted to give this new life style a chance. I gained 7 lbs. It was a huge blow and sent me into an absolute tissy fit. I decided to give it a few more months and to give up everything - if it had blank calories, sugar or fat, I wasn't going to eat it (no alcohol) and I started skipping meals again, my diet wasn't healthy. From March to September I lost about 15 pounds. I was miserable. Then my best friend calls me and says "want to be my diet buddy?". Why not? Nothing else seemed to be working. She wanted me to go on the "cookie diet" with her. Smart for Life cookies are meal replacements. I tried that for about 4 months and lost a few pounds. I was now around 250 pounds.

It had been a year since I was put on the waiting list for the weight loss center when I got a call from them asking me if I was still interested. I was a little taken aback. Did I really want weight loss surgery? It was such a huge step and what if they said no. If they said that I wasn't a candidate for weight loss surgery, what options were left for me to get this fat off. It really set a lot of emotions into overdrive. One thing I knew for sure was that if I wanted to become a better rider, show my horses, live the life that I had been dreaming of, I had to get the weight off.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Meet Miss Patricia Tee

Miss Patricia Tee aka The Old Girl

I have a dear friend that works for our local animal control. I have always wanted to rehab a horse and told her that if she every found a quarter horse that was in need, to call me. AC had seized many quarter horses but there was always some reason that I could not do the rehab, either a legal issue or someone else had paid to take the horse etc. Out of the blue one day she calls and said that she had the perfect horse for me. I told her that I would come out and look at her. My heart broke into pieces when I saw her. The owner/x-caregiver showed my friend pictures of her when they were showing her and showed her registration papers. She was 22 years old, severely underweight and had a yearling foal still nursing on her. AC also thought she might be pregnant. I committed to take her and showed up at AC the next day to pay, yes pay, my $30 adoption fee. I went to get her and she could barely carry the weight of her own head. But she JUMPED into the trailer! This is a picture of the old girl the day I picked her up.

I got her to the boarding facility that I was boarding at and the manager was so helpful. We started her on Senior Stable pellets. They were a mix of alfalfa, grain hay, beet pulp and supplements. We soaked them and added some senior grain in for good measure. She was eating good and seemed to be doing o.k. After a week or two I wormed her really good and had her feet done. Then she started loosing her hair. By the clumps, down to bare skin. I thought she had some kind of disease. And she was looking more pregnant than ever. At three weeks I had her teeth floated and gave her all her vaccinations. She continued to gain weight and you could see the light coming back to her eyes. I had her about a month when my friend told me that her pasture mate - a horse that I thought was in better shape than she was - had died the week after I took the old girl. It's liver had shut down from starvation. I believe that the old girl was probably days away from dying when I took her home. Below is her sires and dams on her 4 generation pedigree.

SIRE side of pedigree

Mach I 1960
Junior Reed 1954
Mac's Nix 1973
Spanish Joy 1954
Ricky Coquette 1967
Ricky Taylor 1954
Mac Paddy 1984
Miss Scatter Bar 1962
Rudy Buck 1958
Pretty Buck 1942
Aggie Buck 1965
Rosy Poco 1953
Poco Diosa 1959
Poco Bueno 1944
Cuerva Rey 1950

DAM side of pedigree
Two Eyed Jack 1961
Two D Two 1957
Joe Joe Jack 1967
Triangle Tookie 1951
Bay Queen Jo 1956
Monsieur Joe 1948
Tweedle Miss 1976
Roan Queen 1944
Mr Sen Sen 1957
Barred 1946
Miss Tweedle Bar 1968
Miss Sen Sen 1947
Tweedle Dee 1956
Driftwood 1932
Tuckaluck 1953

She is bred pretty well and trained even better. After we got probably 300 lbs on her and were sure that she was not pregnant, I asked a friend to ride her. I was over 250 lbs at the time and I just felt that I was too heavy to ride her. My friend rode her for what we figure was the first time in ten years and this mare rode like she had been ridden every day for the last 10 years! I was so excited and almost in tears. I turned her out with a couple of my mares for a few weeks and then decided that maybe I should finish my rehab project. My goal was to rehab a horse and give it a useful life. I called a friend that I know gives lesson to small children and asked if she might need a lesson horse. She had seen the mare when I brought her home, she had seen her under saddle and knew that she was trained for western please, halter, trail, etc. She said "to heck with the kids, I want her for myself". She wanted a horse she could do Trail Trials on. I told her to try her out, but she is not for sale, but you can use her till you are done and then I will retire her at my home. She came out the next day and had her 15 year old daughter ride her and then she rode her and they were both hooked. They took the old girl home that weekend. She has been kicking butt at Trail Trials all summer on her!

Here is a picture of her at the last one they went to. PS they don't call her "The Old Girl" they call her Trish.