Monday, July 13, 2015

Embracing Failure

Last night, for the second time this year, I fell off. I go through periods of riding where I don't fall off, and then I fall off multiple times over a short span. However, for the first time in a long time, I stood up, brushed myself off, yelled, "Candy, you little sh*t, WOAH.", and laughed.

I'm type A; I don't like to fail. I don't like second place ribbons, I don't like B+'s, I don't expect anything less than perfect, but I am a very average human being. I get B's, I get third place ribbons, and I mess up a lot. And all of that is absolutely okay.

Riding is a very humbling sport. You work hard physically, it's draining emotionally, and at times, dangerous, but it's the highs of the sport: the blues, the Joker fence, the perfect change that drive me to do better and push through the lows.

But I laughed last night. I laughed because my 21 year old, sometimes 3 legged lame, horse managed to finally buck me off after weeks of trying. The rehab process isn't perfect, and I was driving myself insane trying to be perfect: wrap exactly every 12 hours, increase his workload exactly 5 minutes every week, groom him spotless daily, handwalk or ride 7 days a week. I was crying in my car after barn trips and after work because I had this image in my head that I could work two jobs: be a perfect research assistant, a perfect technician, a perfect girlfriend, and a perfect horse owner all while maintaining a spotless apartment, car, horse, and perfect body.

The falls and the failure remind you that it's okay to mess up: it's okay to learn from a failure, or chalk it up to a fluke and move on with your life. I needed that fall. It's like someone hit the reset button. I fell, and today, I will go to the barn, attempt to squeeze in a grooming session and 45 minute handwalk in the hour between job 1 and job 2. I will try to run after work tonight at 10 pm, but if I am too tired- that's okay.

Success is what drives us to continue in this expensive, challenging sport, but it's the failures that shape us into the riders we are, and sometimes, we just need a senior citizen to dump us on our ass so we remember why we ride and why we fell in love with the sport so many years ago.

-K & C

Monday, July 6, 2015

DeNiro Review: Salento Field Boot

My holy grail tall boots: the DeNiro Salento. I've owned them for a little over 8 months, and have finally gotten them 90% broken in and used them, so I figured now is the perfect time for a review!

The DeNiro Salentos are styled very similarly to the Parlanti boots that are oh-so-popular as of right now, and coincidentally fit me perfectly. They run about $700, making them roughly $300 less than Parlantis (I also managed to snag them on sale for $640 from SmartPak). I have stupid high arches so I selected the field boot Salentos, which very closely resemble the Parlanti Miami. I also have ridiculously long legs, and the Parlantis were the only semi-custom boots I had tried that were tall enough. I took a risk and ordered a pair of extra extra tall, medium calf Salentos.

First Impressions
The leather is soft, but sturdy. One of the biggest cons of the Parlantis is how soft the leather is; as a grad student, I can't afford to replace my boots once a year and need them to last. There is a black elastic panel that runs down the back of your calf to help fit the boots to you. I love the sturdiness of the zipper. They were very snug even in a medium calf, which I found a little shocking; I wear a regular calf in Ariats and a slim in Tredstep. I do have a lil fluff, and am built "athletically" so I guess I shouldn't be shocked I no longer have the body of a Junior. They came with a little tub of DeNiro conditioning cream which took 5ever to open; it is 1 part leather conditioner: 1 part boot polish and does its job well.
Ignore scruffy winter Sawyer. These boots are the first boots I've ever owned that are almost too tall.

8 Months Later
They still haven't quite broken in fully, which I am surprised about having worn them in weekly lessons, a handful of clinics, and to several shows. The left calf always feels a little too snug. They are showing a little wear on the inside calf, but nothing extreme. Overall, they are wearing like iron. The footbed is so comfortable, even with my arches being out of control. I wear them to bathe, groom, tack up, ride, and catch horses, and they still polish up perfectly.

9/10- great variety of sizes. I did have to wait 4 months for them to arrive because they are made to order in Italy, hence the 9 out of 10, but they are well worth the wait!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Somber Topic: Euthanasia

I don't usually do serious posts, but in light of a few acquaintances who have lost horses in the past few weeks and one particular patient who passed last night during my shift, I thought I would touch on a difficult subject: euthanasia. (FWIW- Candy, Wilbur, and Lila are happy and healthy).

I work as a student worker in the ICU at my school's veterinary hospital, have worked as a technician in an equine hospital, and currently work in research. Between my jobs, and personal pets, I have, unfortunately, seen my fair share of death. An important aspect of my future career will be ushering animals on to a painless, humane death; it's a heavy burden, but falls under my duties as a veterinarian. I just wanted to write this article to bring awareness and gently touch on a topic I have experience with.

When to Euthanize
This is an incredibly personal decision. You as the owner know your animal best, and trust me, you will know when it is time. As a future veterinarian, I do not judge an owner euthanizing an animal with a chronic illness early in the course of the disease, nor do I judge you keeping the animal comfortable for an extended time. I do wish owners would understand that keeping an animal alive for the sake of keeping an animal alive is uncomfortable for me as a technician and assistant. Animals have little concept of the future, and understand, "I am hurting and suffering now.", but are not capable of understanding, "I am hurting and suffering now, but I spend more time with my owners in doing so." And when I say I am uncomfortable, I do not judge; I have been guilty of keeping a pet alive longer than he should have with the hopes that "he would turn around". I am uncomfortable because it breaks my heart to see an animal suffering and to see the owner suffering. As cliche and corny as it is, your animal will tell you when they are ready, when they are done being ill and in pain; as an owner, you just have to be ready to listen.

Should I Stay for the Euthanasia?
Again, incredibly personal. My personal preference is to stay with the animal until they pass, whether it is a lab animal or personal pet. However, when an owner gives the dog a hug, a treat, and a kiss goodbye and hands us the leash and leaves, I do not judge. Regardless of whether you stay, your animal will not pass alone and will not pass afraid. Sedation is given and the animal literally falls asleep. Then the barbituate is given as an overdose to stop the heart. Death can be ugly, and come in spasms, agonal breathing, and loss of bodily control, but the animal's spirit is already gone before the body goes. There is no suffering in euthanasia; we are trained to do it quickly and painlessly with minimal stress. Your veterinarian may have a personal preference on whether they prefer clients to stay. Certain methods of euthanasia may be more difficult to watch than others; I, myself, was prepared to not be present for my guinea pig, Doodle's, euthanasia because of the method required.

What Happens After Euthanasia?
There are a variety of options: personal disposal, cremation, disposal without cremation, or cosmetic necropsy. This all comes down to personal preference. I recommend necropsies in instances where cause of death was unclear, but understand that not everyone wants to understand the reason behind a death as I do. Cremation tends to be a popular option, and an option I have selected for my smaller pets. For horses, saving a piece of mane or tail, and potentially making it into jewelry or a ceramic piece are popular options.

**Obviously all of this should be discussed with your personal vet, and these are just my opinions as a 3rd year veterinary student.

RIP to Iggy J, Tap, and the sweet girls who were euthanized during my shift last night. Gone, but not forgotten.

-K & C