Archive for the ‘horses’ Category

The Power of Hippotherapy

My very part-time second job pretty much rocks.  I am a Testing Technician for the USEF’s Equine Drugs & Medications Program.  In a nutshell, I am part of a 4-person team comprised of 3 Testing Technicians and 1 Veterinarian which is sent to USEF- and AQHA-sanctioned horse shows to perform random drug testing of the contestants.  (The horses, not the people!)  Basically, I get paid to hang out at a horse show (with horses and horse people) for a day.

Today we were sent by the AQHA to test at a Quarter Horse show about 45 minutes from my house.  While there, I saw a miracle.  I kid you not, this was a bona-fide miracle.  Hippotherapy in action and at its very best.


The gist of the back-story goes like this:

Once upon a time, a family was very involved in AQHA Barrel Racing.  The son was very talented and had won several national titles.  Life was bright for him.  Then, one day, he was severely injured in a car accident.  He suffered brain damage and was confined to a wheelchair.


I’m a little shady on some of the finer details, like how much time passed between the accident and present day.  But–about a month ago–this kid got back in the saddle.  A remarkable achievement in and of itself, in the past 30 days he has progressed to the point of being able to compete in today’s show.  Granted, he walked and trotted his barrel patterns, which competitors typically gallop (it’s a timed event in which the fastest fault-free run wins).

Typical barrel racing.

Barrel racing modified for riders with disabilities (walk/trot).

 This kid rode his own horse (a trustworthy old soul worth his/her weight in gold) without assistance.  He was in the saddle for at least an hour (that I saw), which is an impressive amount of time for anyone challenged with (I’m assuming) muscle strength and balance issues.  His mom mentioned that since he’s been riding his physical therapist has been amazed by his progress in other areas, including his ability to walk (with support)–something he wasn’t able to do before he got back in the saddle.  Most of all, he seemed truly happy and outgoing.

And so I was reminded yet again of the amazing healing power of the horse.

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Gone, But Not Forgotten

Last March, I made a decision. 

I’ve wanted to go back to school for a graduate degree since before I graduated with my Bachelor’s.  I had already decided to start that ball rolling in 2010.  Very sadly, the first step is to sell my horses.  For a multitude of reasons that I won’t go into, keeping Pea and Beau during this phase of my life is neither feasible nor fair to them. 

Unless you’re networking with the right people or have built a reputation in the industry, selling a horse is practically a full-time job.  You get your horse clean and spiffy, you take photos and video, you edit said photos and video, you post ads, you post photos and video, you update ads, you post more ads, and you respond to the replies to your ads.  Maybe one out of every 20 of these replies turn into legitimately interested potential buyers, but you have to treat them all like they’re that 1 in 20.

So, my decision in March was to literally throw myself into this 110% and get it done.  No dinners with friends, no blogging, no fun time until my horses were sold.  Did I mention that the horse industry is crap right now?  Selling horses takes time and patience and no small amount of luck.

Beau and I after bringing home 3rd at the 2010 MVH Memorial Day Hunt Pace

Thus, I have been gone from the internets and my blog for many months, but I haven’t forgotten it.  It’s been a busy, full spring and summer with lots of horsey fun.  Once they are gone, I will look back on this time and be happy I spent this time with my horses.

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One of my goals for this month and my 101 in 1001 was to write a Christmas Letter.  It’s done (yes, it’s late–it’s going out as an e-letter this year), so here it is:

Happy New Year from Our House to Yours!

Dear Family & Friends,

We hope this finds you in the best of health and enjoying the holiday season!  As we look forward to the New Year and reflect on 2009, we thought it would be nice to let friends and family know what’s been going on in our world. 

On May 19th, we celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary by visiting The Wilds, a 10,000 acre wildlife conservation center in Cumberland, Ohio.  Besides that it was FREEZING COLD and—of course—we chose the open air tour bus to see the animals better, we had a great time.  In August, we spent a week on Bald Head Island, NC with Tim’s parents, brother, and sister-in-law.  It was an absolute blast (despite the millions—literally—of stinging jellyfish) and we dream about a repeat trip.  On our way home from NC, we took a detour through Richmond, VA to visit a long lost friend of Alverna’s.  It was a VERY happy reunion and the guys got acquainted in the way grown men prefer: playing video games.     

Tim has become quite the handyman this year.  He replaced our hot water heater after our old one went kaput in the middle of the winter (brrr!) and, at the same time, he installed the almost brand new, high end water softener system we were generously gifted with.  The combination of the two new systems has made a huge difference in our ultra-hard well water situation.  Tim also built a new door for our chicken house, built porch steps, and installed a tile floor in our formerly carpeted kitchen.  (Seriously, who carpets a kitchen!?)  He also worked on his golf game, but unfortunately the weather prevented him from showing off his mad skills at the Bugh Family Reunion.  Instead, we mingled with the rest of the family on the Inn’s porch and generally goofed off.

Alverna has now been working at Twin Maples Veterinary Hospital as a veterinary assistant for a year.  Although it doesn’t offer her a career path, she enjoys the work and the people, feels blessed to have a job during these tough economic times, and LOVES the shorter commute.  Alverna’s also been trying to keep up a regular reading habit, and in the process has been bitten by the Twilight bug.  (Well, she IS in the over 25 demographic after all.)  Other books she’s found especially enjoyable this year are The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (in fact, she still can’t stop talking about it) and the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris.  Alverna also keeps a blog (www.AlvernaH.wordpress.com), which keeps her writing, if on an admittedly irregular basis.  

Life on the farm continues.  The horses are ornery as ever and the dogs love their yard just as much as always.  Karli (the Border collie mutt) managed to get her paws on a squirrel.  We’re still not sure if she caught it herself or found it already dead.  Of course, she’s convinced that she caught it herself and is about to catch another at any moment.  Kori (the Pembroke Welsh Corgi) has decided that our new horse farm neighbors across the street have four-legged aliens which must be watched (and barked at) at all times.  In June, our meager flock of 3 hens was joined by a brood of baby chicks which arrived in the mail all the way from Webster City, Iowa.  The “baby” hens are now laying eggs along with the “big” girls, which means we collect upwards of 6 eggs a day.  (Anyone need some eggs!?)  Tim was instrumental in the garden expansion project we undertook this year.  We were able to enjoy fresh fruits & veggies for most of the summer and are fortunate enough to have some veggies in the freezer to eat over the winter.  The highlight of our garden was our first watermelon EVER!  Tim waited SO long for it to ripen, but it was worth the wait. 

Basically, life is very, very good.  As we look ahead to 2010, we wish you a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Happy Holidays,

Alverna & Tim

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I caught myself coming and going both ways this month.  It was absolutely crazy!  The sad part is, December is bound to be just as bad, if  not worse.


1. Write Christmas lists.  Yes – here.

2. Read 3 books.  Partially – I finished The Good Guy by Dean Koontz and am in the middle of Dune by Frank Herbert.  Dune has taken me a loooong time to get into, but I’m starting to like it.

3. Winterize my garden and flower beds.  No.

4. Find & purchase a soap dish.  Yes! – Exactly what I wanted for 99 cents!

5. Make mulled wine.  No.

6. Complete my barely started knitting project.  No.

7. Get a group together to go see ”The Twilight Saga: New Moon”.  Yes! – So much fun!  I’ll post about it sometime soon.

8. Try a new type of wine.  Yes – had a glass of Valley Vineyards Vidal Blanc tonight.  I want to try more Ohio-grown wines.

9. Make dish(es) for Thanksgiving dinner!  Yes – I made Cranberry Fluff, Cranberry Muffins, Coconut Macaroons, Pancakes (for the morning after), and Mashed Potatoes.  The only thing that didn’t turn out was my Cappuccino Pie–it never set up.  Bummer!

10. Buy at least two Christmas presents.  Yes – two down, many more to go!

11. Pick up manure in arena & haul at least 10 loads of sand into the arena.  Yes – I thought my back was going to crack in two the day afterwards! 

12. Ride my horse at least 3 times per week.  Yes – except when the weather was bad and over Thanksgiving week, but that was a given.

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I’m not really sure why, but October was a bit of a crazy month for me.  Goals were a good thing, even if they didn’t all get completed!  And I already started my list for November!

Here’s the post-month report:

1. Find & purchase at least one bookcase.  No – I located one on Craigslist, but then got the flu and it was gone by the time I was up to trying to go get it.

2. Look for a new dining room table.  Yes – I looked.  Didn’t find anything though. 

3. Find & purchase a photo album for our wedding photos.  Yes, love it!  Also ordered the first 100 pictures & they’re ready for their new home. 

4. Winterize my garden, front flower bed, and both side beds.  No. 

5. Place a ”for sale” ad for my horse.  Yes. 

6. Update boarding ad(s).  Yes. 

7. Complete my barely started knitting project.  No.

8. Mail care package.  Yes.

9. Buy at least one Christmas present.  No. 

10. Figure out our holiday plans.  Partially – hubby’s family knows what they’re doing, but my family likes to procrastinate 😦 

11. Pick up manure in arena & haul at least 10 loads of sand into the arena.  Partially – I’ve hauled 3 wheelbarrows full of poop out, but have a LONG way to go. 

12. Take hubby to Columbus for his now belated birthday weekend.  Yes – and it was awesome.  See pics here

13. Meet up with some old friends at the Circleville Pumpkin Show October 21-24.  No – it rained all day…and have I mentioned that I’m a fair-weather-only kinda person?  I was very bummed we didn’t make it though.

14. Donate to a charity.  Yes – I donated to Robyn’s Nest, a non-profit animal rescue and adoption organization.

15. Read at least 3 books.  Yes – 4, actually.

16. Request absentee ballot for Nov. 3 election.  Yes – voted AND convinced hubby to vote, too!

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The completion of #26, my list of 100 things that make me happy:

  1. Naps.
  2. Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream.  (And I don’t even like cherries, go figure.)
  3. Lasagna & garlic bread.
  4. Pay day.
  5. Thinking about going back to school for my Master’s degree.
  6. Greek mythology.
  7. Comedians.
  8. Potlucks.
  9. The Burrito Buggy (unfortunately for me, it’s in Athens, Ohio).
  10. Waterfalls.
  11. Onion rings.
  12. Rainbows.
  13. Sunflowers.
  14. Volunteer plants in my garden.
  15. Giving/receiving a smile.
  16. Receiving random email/texts from my oldest brother.
  17. Hearing my younger brothers’ voices on the phone.
  18. Clay face masks.
  19. Watching Kori (the Corgi dog) rub his face.
  20. Mimosas.
  21. Back scratches from my hubby.
  22. A barn full of gorgeous hay.
  23. Fresh shavings in the horses’ stalls.
  24. Headache-free days.
  25. When my husband calls me to tell me he’s on his way home.

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I thought I’d share.  They’re totally random.
(CAUTION: graphic photo not for the weak stomach about 1/2 way down.)
Also, the dates on the pics are totally off, ignore them.
A Valentine's Day gift from my hubby.
A Valentine’s Day gift from my hubby.



Chocolate Mint Torte made by yours truely

Chocolate Mint Torte made by yours truely. Unfortunately, I didn't have a pretty plate to put under it.


Home 'grown' eggs are the best

Home 'grown' eggs are the best.

Really.  I promise.

Really. I promise.


I love Bare Minerals!  Mark #44 off my 101 list.

I love Bare Minerals! Mark #44 off my 101 list.

And I found sunglasses I love.  Cross #39 off, too.

And I found sunglasses I love. Cross #39 off, too.


************WARNING: photos below are graphic************
Hubby's horse decided to attempt slicing his eyelid OFF.  This was after the vet sewed it back on.

Hubby's horse decided to attempt cutting his eyelid off. This is after the vet sewed it back on. (Don't worry, that's not blood, just good ol' disinfectant.)

Hubby learned that drugged horses are funny...except not as much when you get the bill.

Hubby learned that drugged horses are funny...except not as much when you get the bill.


#11 on my 101 list has been fulfilled.  As you can tell, #10 has not.

#11 on my 101 list has been fulfilled. As you can tell, #10 has not. The new section of fence looks AWESOME though!


(--for the 4th.

My fam, all together--minus my two youngest brothers :(--for the 4th.

Mom's festivity coming out.

Mom's cute food.


From my garden.

From my garden.


My carrots. 9 inches isn't too shabby 🙂

Hubs & I out with friends.

Hubs & I out with friends. (Yes, I'm wearing a shirt...it was a tube top.)

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Super athletic, quiet 2006 Thoroughbred gelding.  Very flashy grey roan with four whites, stripe, and long, dark, full tail–will get noticed in the ring!  Free jumps beautifully & shows terrific jumping potential.  Level-headed with a good mind.  Well-suited for hunters with his lovely, engaged, flat-kneed movement.  Would also make a wonderful dressage mount. 

Goes quietly in a bridle.  Well mannered, calm demeanor, extremely easy to catch, feet handled regularly.  Incredibly sweet and friendly, very sociable guy who gets along with everybody–mares, geldings, people, etc.  Easy keeper.  UTD on Coggins, shots, de-worming, and hoof care. 

15 hh and GROWING!

Hunter or dressage prospect, but would excel at anything.

See video (link below–turn up your volume!) for more photos, jumping video, and more!

Sorry for the unashamed plug.  I spent all afternoon & evening making this video, so by golly I’m going to market it all over the net!

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Thanks to Terra’s tag, I’ve been brought back here after a (obviously long) hiatus.  I’m still having a horrible time managing my spring/summer schedule, but that’s a different story. 

Back to the tag–I probably confused the hell out of Terra when I left her a message 5/31/08 that said: “Better late than never…THANK YOU :)”.  And then what?  Yep, never completed my post.  Poor Terra, I’m a horrible friend in the summer.  Ask all of my friends, and they’ll confirm.

I get to pick which meme I want to do, but I think since I’ve waited so long it’s only fair that I do both. 


#1: The Seven Random (or Weird) Facts Meme

The Rules:

  • Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
  • Share seven random and/or weird things about yourself.
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post and include links to their blog.
  • Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Let the Randomness/Weirdness Begin:

    1) One of my biggest pet peeves is morning breath.  I hate it on myself, or on my husband.  Most people brush before wake-up kissing the first few times they wake up together, right?  I still do it.

    2) I like being tall because it helps during arguments.  When we were younger, my brother (who’s four years younger than me) would defensively say, “Just because you’re taller doesn’t mean you’re right!” during a dispute.  I still have that advantage over just about everyone. 🙂  I never really understood what the advantage was, but I guess it’s harder to fight when you’re looking up.

    3) I am obsessive compulsive about many things.  One is that I have to thoroughly clean the house before I go to bed or leave on a trip.

    4) I’m allergic to most weeds & trees and ALL grasses.  (And I want an outdoor career because why?)

    5) I’m 24 and I still get horribly motion sick in the car.

    6) I have an outie.  It’s so much an outie that when I get pregnant my belly button is going to go out so far it’ll detach.  I’m kidding, of course, but it’s pretty close.  The down side of having an outie outie like mine is that I can’t get it pierced.  I tried, but it can’t be done.  Big bummer.

    7) One time a few friends and I picked up some guys on the expressway.  Yes, in our car, driving down the highway.  Hey, what can I say?  They were hot & were driving an Escalade.



    #2: The Six Truths Meme

    The Rules:

  • Link to the person who tagged you.
  • Post the rules on your blog.
  • Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
  • Tag six people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
  • Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Truths/Habits/Quirks:

    1) I’ve never paid much attention to birthdays, besides my 18th and 21st.  But, 25 has me freaked out.  And it’s only a little more than a month away.

    2) I’m addicted to experimenting with my hair color, shape, style, etc.  (It’s auburn–a reddish brown color–right now.)

    3) I’m worried that some day my metabolism will change on me.  I’ve always been slim without having to try, but I think I’m too lazy to work out if anything changes.

    4) I love to people watch.  At restaurants I always sit facing the door so I can watch who’s coming & going.  I tend to get distracted in church.  It’s a bad habit, but I enjoy it.

    5) As much as I hate admitting this, I’ve always wanted bigger boobs.  However, I would never get implants.  So, I’ll have to be happy with my 36B’s.

    6) For the life of me, I can’t walk in heels.  It’s quite hilarious at times when I try.  My husband laughs at me (which I’m OK with).


    And now, to tag!  And you don’t have to do both, pick one if you prefer.

    1) Jessica at New year, new name, new me – we share headaches and a love of mistchevious black kitties.

    2) Christina at vorare – she found my 101 in 1001 list via Day Zero, was willing to share a helpful BC story, and I admire her as a strong, intelligent woman.

    3) Chris at Life, love and happiness – who tagged me a long time ago and I’m ashamed to say I haven’t done the meme.

    4) Miss Margo at The Barn Blog – one of the best & most informative equine-related blogs I’ve found.  I love it!  


    As a side note, I’ve confirmed several truths today.  I’ve listed them in no particular order of importance:

    ~The Hess family cannot, for the life of them, keep a secret.  Grandpa Hess called me today.  He repeated the latest family news to me, as he always does because he always hears the latest gossip first.  Which is all fine and dandy except when I’m the news.  The best part is, I could tell him exactly who told him (my dear aunt) and from whom she got her info (my cousin, who knew it wasn’t supposed to travel).  I was pissed for about 2 seconds, then I realized that it’s funny and there’s not a darn thing I can do about it, so there’s no sense in being mad.  Plus, it’s (usually) nice to have a close family.  (Oh, and the ‘secret’ was that I’d bought a project horse…who is supposed to be a profitable venture, but I won’t know until he’s sold.  I didn’t want anyone to know about him until he’s proved that he’s not a mistake!)

    ~No matter what the species, females call the shots when it comes to sex.  As mentioned, I have a two year old project horse.  A gelding, mind you.  Today my mare decided she likes ‘robbing the cradle’.  I won’t go into detail about how a mare becomes a slut, but she was THROWING herself at him.  The poor baby didn’t know (or care) what had come over her, and he was very, very confused.  Pea, I concede that you call the shots, but next time pick something that has balls.

    ~I know it sounds mushy, but my husband is the greatest man on earth.  I should know, I married him for it after all, didn’t I?  But seriously, he’s great.  Yesterday he took me out to brunch and then to the driving range (for the third time ever, and first time in the past two years).  He is trying to teach me to play golf.  We’ll just say he has the patience of a saint, as there was much hushed whispering of four letter words, throwing down golf clubs, and stomping off the driving range on my part.  I just don’t get the stupid ‘sport’ and I definitely don’t like not being good at it.  Anyway, after the driving range, we went on a sunset trail ride together.  And today he cleaned stalls while I made dinner.  He is as perfect as they come. 


    Now, want to know something really, really sad?  This post was saved as a draft on 5/31/08…with just the first two sentences written.  That barely qualifies as worth saving.

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    I feel a little blah today, probably because I had a migraine yesterday, so today I have that wonderful “post-migraine hangover”.  It has nothing to do with being hung over, but your brain feels very similar to when it’s been abused by alcohol, except instead it’s been abused by Serotonin, beat back into shape by Imitrex, and is understandably worse for the wear for a day or so.  My husband and I have been fairly motivated lately, I guess we deserve a day or two to be lazy 🙂

    That’s why my blog has been neglected for the past few weeks.  We’ve been working in the barn until 10 or 11 at night most nights.  But the barn is looking great and we’re very close to having our first boarders!

     The past two days I’ve come home from work to find my adorable, innocent kitty locked in the bathroom by my exasperated husband.  Now don’t get me wrong, the bathroom is Mick’s domain–he eats there, his litter box is in there, and God forbid anyone think they’re allowed to close HIS door–with him in or out–and limit his freedom in or out of HIS bathroom.  But when he’s in trouble that’s where he goes for ‘time out’.  Tim’s been finding a teddy bear that generally sits on a shelf above the refrigerator in the middle of the living room floor, covered in cat hair.  Dead giveaway.  Besides the hair, Mick’s the only one with the run of the house during the day while we’re gone.  That crazy cat had to jump on a very tiny little counter, then jump straight up to the top of the refrigerator, then reach up onto a 6″ by 4″ shelf for the bear.  I should explain that my cat has an inexplicable obsession with beanie babies, teddy bears, and all things soft and plush.  Oh yeah, and he likes to chew them open and eat the stuffing out.  Damn orphan kitties and their weirdness. 🙂

    Today I went in for my allergy shots and the nurse asked me if I was allergic to Benadryl.  I almost laughed out loud!  It’s really not funny, but wouldn’t that be awful to be allergic to the drug you’re taking to help STOP an allergic reaction?  I’ll tell you what else is funny.  The same nurse and I were discussing why I seem to break out in a rash after some of my allergy shots, but not all.  I mentioned that sometimes the rash is in the shape of the band-aid, but that we’d already ruled out my latex allergy because they use latex-free band-aids.  The nurse thinks I’m allergic to the adhesive on the band-aids.  They have another patient who is.  Now why didn’t I think of that?  But then again, who ever heard of something so silly?  And–worse–if I confirm said allergy, how does one avoid band-aids for life?!?

     It’s rained so much for the past so many days that I can’t even remember when it started raining.  Sunday?  Monday?  I think?  When I woke up this morning I could see more muddy water in our yard than solid ground.  Our little Ms. Swamp Dog loves it.  Kori the Corgi thinks we’re torturing him when we let him out to do his business twice a day.  If I try to get him go out a third time he glares at me.  I swear this morning he asked me with his dark, sad eyes to buy him doggie diapers so he doesn’t have to go out in the rain any more! 

    My husband and I have been married 10 months today.  I gave Tim a kiss and wished him a “happy anniversary” when he got home from work this afternoon.  He replied, “I knew there was a reason today felt special.”  I love that man so much!

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