I’ve spent a lot of time recently measuring out the passing of time. 58 days for Savvy post surgery. 3 weeks and a day since we arrived back home in Arizona after 10 plus weeks on the road. Even Peppy has joined the time parade as we passed the 5 week mark on her new meds and look ahead to some important follow up blood work we’re scheduled for next week.
My brain is swirling with numbers as I write this (blog #23, 22 days since I last wrote). For some reason, its been imperative to the obsessive side of my nature to keep careful track of time as I walk this healing journey with Savvy, and this blog has become integral to tracking of that timeline.
So then why the 3 week silence?
Well, I guess just because. As I look back over these 3 weeks, the best description I can come up with is that I’ve been working out the overload – mental, emotional, physical, spiritual. And so nothing was coming out. Like everything has to sort and shift and settle before it could become transparent enough to be understood. Even by me. Let alone you. Glory, glory. What a journey.
So what had Savvy been up to in the meantime? Mostly just healing. Some hand walking of course. Hunting for grass. And one very exciting morning escapade when the neighbors’ donkeys pushed through the fence and came visiting.
We’ve been playing too, of course, but mostly short and sweet session with some strength training and conditioning from the ground.
I truly believe that a good leader has to have a plan and a good leader has to stay present. So my present to Sav was the agreement that if I couldn’t stay present as I sorted through these last few weeks then I wouldn’t present any ideas to her that required her to be super present and mentally engaged. And it’s worked well.
But I’m so thankful to report that both yesterday and today I was quite present for some important rights of passage. Turnout. Saddling up. Riding. Sweet bliss.
Now we’re still taking it easy, and I’m planning out our sessions quite conservatively. After all she’s been through, we’re going slow and right. I don’t want to take anything for granted, and so I’m tuning in as best I can and allowing her to guide the timeline. Oh wait, isn’t that Parelli principle #8?
But I can tell you the truth, it felt phenomenal to swing up into the saddle. This horse is a gift. As is every ride. Ride #1. And counting.
How many times have I said this? Not quite a million – but close. How are your transitions? Let’s practice transitions. Show me your (fill in the blank) type of transition. It’s a huge part of the Parelli program, so it’s integral to how I teach and train. But integral doesn’t equate to easy.
I can clearly remember the feeling when I was first competing in dressage schooling shows of seeing the approaching letter and knowing I needed to be preparing for the transition and yet feeling completely at the mercy of the upcoming change. It was coming as surely as little Amesly was moving along and we needed to transition ready or not.
This week had felt a bit like that as well. For four days each day held a few hundred miles, a new barn to overnight in, a new electric site to plug into. Same horse, pup and trailer but new places and faces along the way. It was such a relief to arrive at our favorite overnight just south of Albuquerque and have the camp manager know me and call me by name.
It even felt strange driving back into Canelo. Everything the same, but I felt different. I felt…worn, yes. Changed, yes. Supremely relieved, yes. Thrilled to be back with Dennis, yes. Overwhelmed, yes. Somehow over the 10 weeks I’d found a way to go with the flow with my girls, surrounding by supportive family and friends, secure in my little trailer. A place for everything and everything somewhat close to its place. Now I’m reaching for Peppy’s medicine but left the calendar I chart everything in hanging in the trailer closet. I go to grab clean underwear from my drawer and the drawers there but the underwear’s still packed elsewhere. I hop out of the shower and my towel is hanging on the door just as it should be. Til I realize that’s most likely because Dennis never washed it and it’s been hanging there for 10 weeks. Oh well, at this point, thank God for a towel and for the amazing man Dennis is.
But transitioning is hard, at least for me. Even when I like the place I came from and I like the place I’m landing. It’s so much less about the before and after than it is about the forced change. The out of control, off balance feeling. The stretch.
Maybe you’re reading this and not relating at all. Maybe you thrive in change. I hope so, and I’m happy for you.
Maybe I’ve been called to this somewhat transient lifestyle because God knows I need the practice. I almost hear him coaching “show me your transitions, Juli!” But I’m not ready, it’s uncomfortable, can’t I just keep going on like this forever…”Just keep going, upward, downward, you got it!” And then finally a walk break on a loose rein. Hallelujah.
It changes the way I ride and train my horses, that’s for sure. Gives me a new appreciate for all they have to balance and stretch as I coach them through the ride. Causes me to think of ways to help prepare them better for the transition because it is hard and as the leader it’s my job to support them through it. I’ll write more in the days to come on Savvy’s journey transition through this past week. I’m still processing how to read all that she’s shown me and how to ease her path as best I can.
So, for now, maybe I should drive down to the barn and hunt through the trailer for that illusive underwear bag. Or maybe I’ll just enjoy this walk break a little longer. My coach knows I need it. “For Jesus doesn’t change – yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.” Thank God. He’s the consistency in my million transitions.
The girls and I are soaking in some Oklahoma sunshine before we hit the road again on day 3. To catch you up, our first day on the road was full of excitement.
After replacing both truck batteries (thankfully while still at Happenstance – good call Gerry!) we made it to Kentucky before blowing a trailer tire. Now here’s the cool part. Thinking “it’s time for a bio break” I look in my mirror to change lanes and take the exit ramp and notice a little something flapping around the wheel well. No biggie. I’m exiting already and can check it out. Thinking “where’s a good place to pull over”, I look up and the first parking lot I come to is a Goodyear tire store with 24 hour emergency service. I stop the truck and hop back to see what’s going on. Holy Moly. How do you not feel that!?!?!?
Did I mention I’m in the parking lot of a tire store? The employees were actually all in the parking lot headed out for the day but given the fact that they do roadside assistance (and I may have looked slightly pitiful and a bit frazzled), they stayed. Had my tire in stock. Were able to put it onto my rim which wasn’t damaged at all. And I was back trucking in less than an hour. My miracle tire story.
We made it to Arkansas that night. Met a few llamas the next morning. (If you look close you can see them under the tree). This was after then came running to the fence line. Not Savvys favorite moment of the morning.
Landed in OKC last night and head off for Albuquerque today. I’m wearing my NM socks while hand grazing this morning in honor of the occasion. And to remind myself to be on the lookout for rattlers again.
We’re a little worn but doing good. Peps is actually doing great – pretty spunky for Pep. Savvys holding her own, and I’m praying for continued input/output. Trusting my co-Pilot for the next leg of the journey. Humming Lauren Alaina’s song as we go, “Wear out your boots and kick up the gravel, don’t be afraid, take the road less traveled on.”
I have been a delinquent blogger. Mostly because I have been running my tail off. Visiting with loved ones. Teaching as much as I can. Chasing Savvy’s tail. Or more accurately the tail of her 45′ line. Ladies and gentlemen she is feeling good!
At 4 weeks post op we received the go ahead to begin playing walk/trot. She’d be allowed limited turnout if she would be responsible not to run/buck. Hahaha. Ask Steph – fat chance of that. She has got some gumption and energy these days – all good but tricky to contain at times. Mostly she plays a little game of catch me where she knows when I’m in the vicinity of the tail of her rope and then she turns and draws to me. Often she wanders onto the off limits mound system to grab some tasty bites of long grass before the humans dart off the porch to save the poop hill.
All in all she’s a super star patient. Very cooperative and willing in spite of the hand she’s been dealt. So much to learn there about adjusting to fit the situation…
It’s been a redemptive week. With the go ahead to begin more activity I’ve been bringing her with me into the arena for lessons. I can’t express the feeling when I first demo-ed a technique with her again. Or when I handed her to a student so Savvy could help grow her focus, feel and timing.
And so the time has come. We’re not all healed but we’re healing. It’s been an incredible 32 days, and now it’s time for the Jacks to hit the road. I’m too clogged with emotion to write any more. In fact, that’s another part of the reason my writings been so quiet this week. Transitions are challenging as are good byes. So I’ll smile and say see you later, and pick up this conversation a little further down the road.
So the truth is, although I did not post an official Mothers Day blog, I’m pretty sure I have the best mama in the world. What made this Mother’s Day unique for me was that I didn’t get to see my mom (she was down in TN watching my beautiful sis graduate. Watch out world – both my siblings are now officially Dr. Forsythe – I could not be more proud!
Since Mom was absent with leave on Sunday, I spent the day as Family Day instead. I ate lunch with some of my “adopted” family, took care of my four legged family, worshiped with our Waynesville church family, spent a few minutes catching up with my Happenstance family, chatted with Dennis and watched a video clip of someone in our Arizona family getting baptized (wahoo!), and ultimately headed down to Dayton and visited with Dennis’ family and took my mother in law (or in my friend Miah’s words, mother in love) out to eat Indian food. Just us. So precious. Of course, Peppy also loved on grandpa Piovesan, and I loved on my nephew Aidan who is just about the cutest thing in the whole wide world. Ask me sometime to sing you his rendition of “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Hilarious.
Tonight, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise (yes, I really typed it and after these past few months I really mean it), my sis and I are taking my Dad’s dad out to eat. Night on the town with Granddad. Priceless, irreplaceable time with family. All of my family. I have the most precious, eclectic family stretching across the country and around the globe, and I am so thankful.
So what does all this mushy goodness have to do with Heritage Run Horsemanship? When I named the business I wanted it to be a tribute to the legacy that had been passed on to me from both sides of my family and from Dennis’ family as well, a legacy of walking (or for me more accurately it’s tumbling, scraping your knee, struggling to your feet and walking on) in the Christian faith. A legacy of family values, family dinners, unconditional support and love. A legacy of grit and hard work from the newspaper office to the Twist Drill plant, on the Air Force base and on the mission field. No one else in my family works with horses, but I want to “Run” my Horsemanship business in a way that honors my Heritage. I want to build relationships with my clients and their horses not just train them. They are part of my extended family too. Maybe that’s not the worlds best version of a business plan, but I’m ok with that. I’d rather eat lasagna on the back porch with Judi and Steph after a great day of teaching than try to squeeze in one more lesson. It just seems to fit more with the legacy I love.
I think a lot about why I was gifted this extra long trip while Sav recovered. I’m pretty sure I had some lesson to learn (and still do). And maybe God knew I needed to spend a little more time with this part of my family. Whatever the reason, I’m going to treasure it. Now it’s time to get off the back porch – I’ve got some family coming in the horse trailer here soon.
During one of our first trips to Arizona, a great mentor and friend in the faith, Tommy Stevens, asked our team if we were fluid. You can imagine the confusion on our faces. With great solemnity, he looked straight at us and said he needed us to be fluid because even flexible isn’t enough. Life lesson heard but not quite learned yet.
If you’ve been studying the Parelli Natural Horsemanship program, you already know about one version of “Fluidity,” the art of moving with you horse as you ride. Harmony in motion.
I’ve been on the road now for almost 8 weeks now and the quest for harmony in motion is resonating in my heart. I like order (my version of order even if it looks a little messy to you); I like control. But just like when I’m riding, I can’t find harmony bracing against the motion and the change. So I’m flexing and stretching and finding what I need to adjust to go with the flow. Don’t get me wrong, old patterns are hard to change. Sometimes it just plain hurts.
But there’s peace here. And freedom. In the rain, in the sunshine, in the smooth spots, the back porch sitting and in the tension of the change. I like it here. “It is for freedom that Christ had set us free.” Free from my obsessive need for control. Free from my self induced entrapping patterns. Free to bend and flex and enjoy this wild ride.
My Peps woke up with a flare up today. I had a sinking feeling it was building all day yesterday and sure enough, here it is. She has battled auto-immune complications since she was just a few months old, and we are in the midst of modifying her meds right now to try to help with some side effects. So when she’s good she’s pretty good and when she’s bad it’s really rough. Here’s the bright side – we are in Ohio, just a short drive from our favorite vet who has taken such great care of Pep since her first flare up and has gone above and beyond to walk this road with us for the part two years.
On the other side of the globe, Dennis’ best friend since childhood lives in a remote tribe in Indonesia. One of their sons, Reece, started showing symptoms suspiciously like appendicitis a few days ago. When I say remote, I mean remote. They couldn’t get a flight out of the tribe because of severe weather. Literally stuck. Finally a missions helicopter pilot was able to risk going in to transport the family to another village where they could catch a prop plane to get flown to the nearest city. Now they are negotiating foreign medicine trying to make the best decisions possible for Reece.
So I pray for Peps. I pray for Reece. I take stock of all the blessings and trust that God knows and cares about all the details. If He sees a sparrow fall, He sees my pup, and if He knows my heart He knows how much she means to me. He sees the challenges our friends are facing on the other side of the world and gives grace according to their need. I’m believing this today. I don’t know how to live this faith thing out any other way.
“I lift my eyes to the hills, from where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”
I am in the middle of writing a post so near and dear to my heart that I keep getting choked up and unable to finish. There is just no way to adequately express my thanks for all that so many of you have done for me and Savvy over the past few weeks. So I’m hitting the pause button for now, gathering my thoughts and emotions, and taking a lighthearted moment just to celebrate life.
In case you’re wondering what happens at Happenstance Stables after we wrap up a long clinic weekend, here it is. The horses are loaded. The trailers safely headed down the road….
Now break out the yoga mats and exercise!
Gerry might very well kill me for this one when he gets home tonight. It’s so absolutely worth it though. He was joining in our yoga fun simply to put a smile on Steph’s face. It worked. We laughed much harder than we exercised.
So here’s to a Monday Fun Day. Life can be very serious sometimes. For now I just want to smile in the sunshine. I’ll grab my Kleenex and keep writing again in a little while.
Definition of intention
1. a determination to act in a certain way : resolve
Today was a good day for Sav. First of all, there’s a gaited horse clinic going on at Happenstance this weekend so lots of activity all around to break up the monotony of 21+ hours in a stall. Second, a lack of precipitation meant more time outside. Now, to be honest quite a bit of this time is simply me (or a nearby friend, or even Darrell Dean when I’m desperate) watching the tail of the 45′ line to be sure Sav doesn’t become too ambitious in her wanderings as she grazes. See photo below of Peppy dog (wrapped in the plaid burrito blanket) as I horse wrangle to keep Sav from adventuring onto the poop hill.
But in addition to our grass time, today we also intentionally ventured a bit further into new territory (by that I mostly mean down the driveway). I’ve been thinking through how to optimize my time with Sav over the next few weeks of healing. What can we do together that will be of long term value? What are some things I may never have taken the time to do with this degree of intentionality had she been at 100% physical capability? What can we slow down to speed up later? Haltering, bridling, exiting and entering the stall & the aisleway. What about different zones of driving? With the rope on one side and me on the other? On grass and down the driveway? How about lateral maneuvers from Zone 5? When I really slowed it down, one thing became abundantly clear – I needed to up my intention to communicate my idea to her mind and ultimately to her feet. How often do I just plunge through the phases even at a walk? Get er done vs. set up and wait. I’m a bit more careful about lifting that Carrot Stick without preparing her these days as I’m less apt to get a skyrocket off the ground if she knows what I’m asking. “All of a sudden, for no reason at all” the sticky spots became sweet spots. A little time; little intention, a little slow and right.
And want to know something else? I learned another definition for the word intention: 2. The healing process of a wound.
Ask Merriam – Webster. I couldn’t have made that one up if I tried.
What does it take to motivate me to start a blog? Colic surgery. It may take a while to even sort that one out myself. But for now it’s enough to recognize the birthplace of this journey. Today is day 1. Of my blog. Obviously. But more importantly, it’s day 1 of Savvy’s journey from surgery to all that her future holds. I almost typed day 1 of her recovery, but words are powerful and it just doesn’t sit right with me. We aren’t recovering from surgery to get back to where we were before. We’re moving forward together, through this challenging time, one day at a time. I’ve already learned, seen and felt more than I can ever express. I have no idea what the next 24 hours will bring. But, as so often happens, the most challenging situations give birth to periods of great growth and grace. So tonight that’s what Peppy pup and I are celebrating. Well, let’s be honest. In actuality, we’re crashed in the horse trailer getting ready to call it a night.
Yesterday a very exceptional and generous veterinarian at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital mentioned an estimated timeline of 60 days before Savvy could return to “work.” If, if, if and of course, if. She did just undergo major abdominal surgery for goodness sake. So here’s to the next 60 days. To the best of my ability, I will try to memorialize these 60 days in our journey. Which may or may not include random pictures of thrilling events such as first bowel movements and hand grazing. Try not to hold your breath.
A final thought to close out day 1. After 48 hours of hindquarter pain and defensiveness, I could just hang here with my sweet girl again. Sweet bliss.
This blog blossomed in the midst of a crisis. It grew into an outlet for the overwhelming feelings I was experiencing back in the spring of 2017 and became a tangible way to connect to my network of contacts that mean so much to me. Now, over 4 years later, it is re-born.