Self-Inflicted Almost Passing Out After Riding

I could feel my hands getting into the "danger zone" on Monday night, but I pushed it just a little further because I was having another AMAZING ride.  Second ride in a row he came on my aids in record time, second ride in a row with Back on Track, if you're keeping score.

Longtime readers will remember that I have Reynauds.  My fingers and toes turn white from a combination of cold or pressure or both.  The really fun part about the way my body reacts to Reynauds is that if I let my fingers and toes get too cold, when they warm back up, I either pass out completely or almost pass out. 

When do they get dangerously cold?  When I'm riding.

When does the blood come back?  When I get off.

I haven't had much of an issue with this in the past few years because I've figured out the right combination of winter clothing and foot warmers.  I also have learned to identify the "danger zone" and I find a way to warm up before it goes too far.

A relatively minor incident that happened at the gym. 
(I also have warned many an unsuspecting trainer about what will happen if I don't get handwarmer breaks during lessons.  Nothing like "I might fall off this horse unconscious" to start a new relationship off right.)

But...he was going so well on Monday...I shouldn't have done it, but I was so happy with how he felt, I couldn't help myself.  That night I was also trying a new glove combination that - spoiler alert - does not work when it's 19 out.  More on that later.  Let's just say I lived to regret cheating on my beloved SSG 10 Belows.

Why did I ever try to leave you!  Also, holy cow, these are TEN DOLLARS CHEAPER at Riding Warehouse than at SmartPak.
I knew ahead of time what was waiting for me as soon as I got off.  Of course it was night and I was alone, one more reason this whole preventable situation was stupid of me.  I hustled poor Connor toward the crossties.  I was getting tunnel vision by the time I finally got the snaps on his halter and ran into the tack room to lay down next to the heater.

The thing is, almost passing out feels, in my opinion, worse than passing out.  Almost passing out feels indescribably horrible, you just lay there wishing you'd pass out already to make that feeling go away.  I can't even come up for words for it, but if you've felt it, you know what I'm talking about.

It was right after this ride, our senior holiday ride in college, that this happened the first time.  I'm on the bay with the blaze up front next to Mary who's on the grey in the red sweater.

I laid there silently thanking my poor, still-tacked-up pony, standing there in the cold with no sheet on, for being a good boy because I could not physically get upright and untack him for several minutes.  Even when I finally struggled upright and untacked him (too quickly, but I was motivated by Connor), I had to curl up in a ball on a saddle pad next to him in the aisle halfway through for a break.  Good pony.

After I got him untacked, I laid next to the heater again until I felt good enough to shelve my stuff and drive home.  Even after I got home, I kept all of my layers on, wrapped up in a blanket, drank a mug of hot tea and still didn't feel warm or normal again for another two hours while my body temp was about 1.5 degrees lower than normal.  Then by the time I went to bed, I was back to normal.

Why do I share this?  Well, it's winter and I'm short on content, and although it was stupid and self-inflicted, it's definitely the most interesting thing that's happened to me at the barn in a while.  And, I'd also love to hear from anyone else with Reynauds if this happens to them.  From what I've gathered, it's not a normal side effect, but it seems to be related for me, so I can't be alone in that.

Bottom line: the new gloves are a bust, and this is why I, personally, don't ride when it's really cold out.  Forget the horse, bad things happen to ME under 20 degrees!


Connor's Parents in the Snow

A couple of days ago, Connor's breeder sent me these cute pictures of Connor's parents having a few minutes of supervised social time over the fence in the snow.  I'm always struck by how much Connor looks like his mom.  I know that face, those ears and that side eye!

Sire *Tuscani Dundee on the left, dam *Bwlchllan Bessie on the right.  These two have had...five?  foals together.

They are both living the cushy retired life at 26 years young, but "He still thinks she's hot!"  Here's hoping all of our relationships will be this good when we're retired!


Lesson Wrap-Up: First Ride in over Three Weeks...and it was Good?

Thanks to a number of things - work travel, holiday travel, it being so cold my fingers stopped working within minutes of being outside for what seemed like forever - my lesson on Saturday was the first time I'd ridden since my lesson in mid-December.

First thing I did: take off that goat beard!

It was my first time trying out the Back on Track, and I was determined to be as objective as possible about it.  To give it a fair shake and follow their best practices, I put the saddle pad on under his blanket while I groomed him, then put the quarter sheet on once I'd tacked up.

I did end up putting the quarter sheet under my saddle for lunging.
My trainer suggested I lunge since they'd been in for a couple of days due to ice.  Not because she thought he'd be silly (he wasn't, can I just say how much I love not riding for three weeks AND him being stalled for two straight days and him coming out totally normal like nothing is wrong?) but to be fair to him and get him moving.  So he also lunged in the quarter sheet and saddle pad.

I'm so used to seeing massive horse-sized quarter sheets on him, one that fits looks too small.
I did not expect a great ride.  My trainer has ridden him once and lunged him once in the last three weeks, but otherwise, he's just been a bum. was one of the best rides we've had in months.  What?!

The second I got on him he was reaching over his back for the bit.  He came onto my aids pretty effortlessly and very early in the ride, especially considering our normal slogfest warmup. 

He felt incredible, and, trying to be fair to him, I requested we quit early because he hadn't done this in so long, AND he was getting the message today.  The Equisense confirmed we quit at roughly the 30 minute mark.  WOW.

So was it the Back on Track?  Lots of people have said they get shorter warmups using it.  I am inclined to say it was not, as tempting as that is.  Two things happened during the lesson that I think contributed:

1. The exercise we did, shoulder in to small circles, really made a point to both of us.  My trainer made sure I was keeping my leg in the right place per my last lesson, using the right parts of my leg to ask for the inside hind to step up, and I figured out the right rhythm in which to ask.  If the inside hind wasn't stepping forward, I was instructed to reduce the angle of the SI and get the inside hind before trying a circle. 

Any time I felt him get flat or grab the inside rein, I applied the top part of my lower leg in the right rhythm to engage the inside hind - and very quickly that had other side effects too, like his poll coming up when I used it like that.  (Big thank you to the blogger, I can't remember who you are, that wrote about that this week.  It helped me a lot!)

2. My fingers were f-r-o-z-e-n thanks to trying out a new glove setup (and white, thanks to the Reynauds).  And I was really focused on keeping my elbows forward.  I think both of those things combined meant I physically could not pull on him.  My trainer said "If anyone could find something positive about this weather, I guess it's you!"

Even just as a quartersheet without taking into consideration the magic Chinese whatever, I really like this thing.  Full review soon.
So, did not expect that ride to be that amazing, but I'll take it!  And it's always nice when the Equisense backs me up after a ride I feel good about - this is tied for our highest symmetry score ever, and definitely our highest score for a ride this short:


How to Set up the Pixio

I thought I'd do a blog post on how to set the Pixio up, in case anyone was curious or was thinking about getting one.  This is not a comparison post on the Soloshot vs. the Pixio, although I will point out that setting up the Soloshot is much different because it runs on GPS as opposed to the Pixio's beacons.

Step 1: Set out the main tripod with the camera and Pixio body on it.  Don't turn anything on.

The green light shown would normally not be on here, but I failed to take a picture of it off.

Step 2: Set out the three beacons in the corners of the arena and turn them on.  They are numbered and must be placed where the camera expects them to be: 2 goes to the "left" of the tripod, 1 goes straight across from it diagonally, and 3 goes to the "right" of it.

They're on little gorilla pods so they can wrap around the board fence of the outdoor or stand on the ledge of the indoor.

Numbered so you can't screw it up!  I'm lifting the rubber cap that's normally over the charging port here.

Step 3: Turn the camera on (not the base, leave that off for now).  Zoom into beacon #1 as far as you can. 

Shown zoomed in on beacon #1.  You're supposed to center it but I'm always lazy about it and my videos still turn out centered anyway.

Step 4: Turn the base on.  The first thing it will do is automatically zoom the camera out.  It's now calibrated.  Now if you're me, here's where you go tack up your horse.  The arena looks like this with all the little green lights in the corners:

Yes, Connor has spooked at the green lights.  I know you're shocked.

Step 5: I usually do this while holding the tacked up Connor.  Stand in front of the tripod and turn on the tracker by pressing the button once.  The green flashing light on the front of the base will sync up with the light on the tracker and it will begin following you, but not recording. 

Press the button on the tracker one more time to start recording (And you'll press it again to stop recording when finished).  When it's started recording, you'll hear the camera beep and see the light on the front of the body and tracker both go solid green.  I like this, because I can pause recording from the saddle if part of my ride is not worth filming, like someone comes in to talk to me.

The tracker can be worn on your wrist with included straps, or put in a pocket.

It sounds complicated when I write it out like that, but in reality, it takes so little time to set up (maybe 5 minutes) that I set it up for almost every ride, even when I'm crunched for time.  The longest part of the setup is walking one lap of the arena to set the beacons out. 

Couple other notes:
- The beacon, the body and the camera can all be plugged in if you need them to be (maybe for a clinic), but their batteries are good enough to do multiple lessons without an issue, so we never plug them in.

- The Sony Handycam records to standard microSD cards, so my trainer and I each have one (I actually have two) and we just pop ours in before we ride and pop it out to take home and upload afterward.

It honestly does a better job than most humans do at filming riders.

I need to do a proper review of it sometime, but hands down we could not be happier with it after a year of owning it.  Anyone else thinking about getting one in 2018?


Post-Holiday Holiday

This year, for the first time, I took January 2nd and 3rd off just to relax, recharge and organize and declutter my house.  I've never done that before, but it's been so successful I think I'm going to make this a standing vacation.  It's nice to ease back into the working world slowly like this.

It hardly seems possible, but we've lived in this house for 2.5 years at this point, and we built the kitchen two years ago, and there are things we haven't used in that time but still have stored!  Time for a purge.

Current donation box, plus a Crock-Pot (not shown) because the Instant Pot is the Pot to End All Pots
I also took these two days to think of ways to make our lives easier this year.  Less time hunting for lids for bowls means more barn time down the road right?  Hopefully?  Maybe?  That's what I told myself this week.

There are more elegant solutions to the deep utensil drawer clusterf***, but none cheaper than $2.99 IKEA utensil holders!

I should've taken a "Before" picture of this cabinet.  It was a Tupperware nightmare.

As a working equestrian, my life can feel like a blur of work-ride-sleep work-ride-sleep, and a lot of this little non-essential but very important house stuff can fall by the wayside.  Even if I get through my day without a problem, clutter and disorganization make me feel frazzled and out of control.  Since it's still too cold to ride here, it's been nice to just get it done.

A-L spices, we have two of these drawers side by side.  So much easier than hunting through a pile in the cabinet like we used to do.

$5.99 drawer dividers

This drawer used to be a clusterf*** of pots and pans.  No more!

Anyone else doing the big clean and purge this month?


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