Thanks Giving

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This Thanksgiving dinner will be different.  Not really in any bad or good type of way, but in a way that I will be thankful to have memories, to have thought that is functional, to have the ability to say what I want to say with words that roll off my tongue without a hitch. Unless I drink that whole bottle of champagne while trying to clean that poor little turkey.

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Here I was so many years ago, helping my mom cut flowers in the back yard.  My mom showing me how to use the scissors, telling me to smile and taking my picture.  Teaching me what to do, how to talk, how to listen and how to learn.

My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease a couple of weeks ago. A confirmation of what we already knew.  The Shakespeare line, ‘A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet’, makes me think of my mom.   Having  named  a diagnosis doesn’t change anything. And I mean that in every possible way it could be taken.

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Here is my mom the other day, after she found this hat in my car and I asked her to smile so I could take her picture.  Instead of smiling she started acting out a scene like she was a character in a movie and had us both hysterical with laugher.  That’s basically how my life has been with my mom…tons of laughter.  One of her favorite stories to tell me was how I made her laugh uncontrollably in a check out line at a store because I started laughing at a peacock feather.  I guess some things never change.  Even more important, laughter is all about the moment, not the memory.

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This photo is  so ‘Dell’…   There was some fluid in her ear which was making her normal hard of hearing even worse…so she’d try bending down and shaking the water out of her ear…seeing if she’d be able to hear any better, and then held the pose so I could take her picture…It reminded me of ‘I’m a little Tea cup short and stout’ song that she always would act out for me when I was little.  My mom is quick to do anything anyone asks of her 🙂  not afraid of looking foolish.

It’s truly amazing how the brain has such ability to remember and it can all be taken away and then you just wonder how must it be to be empty of memories.   The good thing is, it seems if you can’t remember, you don’t actually worry about not remembering (in her case).  I know some people have trouble with forgetting and maybe it bothers them, but with my mom, she really seems to just be kind of in awe that she can’t remember but not discouraged or depressed and takes it all in stride.  I am sure that living with her may be a different story, but from my perspective, I am ok if she is ok with it.  There are times she gets angry but it’s not lasting and she can’t remember she was mad, so again, there is another gift in forgetting.

A pretty wonderful song ‘I’m not going to miss you’ by Glenn Campbell who had Alzheimers.

I’m Not Gonna Miss You

This  Thanksgiving will be the first year my mom won’t make that Pineapple goo. As my  friend Holly calls.  Pineapple goo…I asked my mom for the recipe this morning and she can’t remember she ever made it, something she has made every year since I’ve known her.  I thought I would try my hand at the pineapple goo since I really love it and  butter and sugar make me happy.  And maybe my mom will remember it after she tastes it…it’s a very hard dish to forget, it really is that delicious.

So Thanksgiving may be different this year, without my moms cooking, but it will certainly be filled with lots of thanks and lots of laughter.

Happy Thanksgiving!  (2017)

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Heart

What is life about. When you start a sentence with ‘what’, the expectation is to have a question mark at the end of the sentence. In this case there is no answer so the question mark would be a trick.

What what. Is is. Life life. About about.  Echoing in my mind…

Animals don’t ask this question. If we look to other things for answers we find that the questions don’t even exist.

A lot of people aren’t even plagued with this question.

So maybe all that is true is unquestionable

Here is my dad releasing a butterfly that was trapped in his screened porch.  One thing he still does regularly is catch and release all sorts of insects, birds, toads, lizards.  (Thanks to Vincent for recording this video)

The other day a dragon fly was hanging by a wing from a spider web.  It looked dead to me.  I put my finger under his legs to make sure and the dragon fly grabbed onto my finger with his sticky little feet.  So We pulled the web from it’s wing and there he sat on my finger, wiping his eyes (probably not his ‘eyes’ exactly but they look like eyes!) with his little front feet and to my dad and my delight, he took off and flew really healthily away.  Great joy in that small moment for all 3 of us 🙂

What is life.

My mom passed away in May,  the earlier signs of her brain damage from Alzheimer’s was to feed the cats all the time…The bowl empty, she must not have fed them so she’d feed them again.  One day my dad says ‘she’s really feeding the cats too much, I have cat food hidden in my dresser drawer so she won’t use it all up’.

My mom passed away and then we sold her car to one of my employees children.  Yesterday my employee came in my office with a can of cat food and said ‘here, I found this under the car seat’.  My heart.  Flooded with such sadness.  And then more sadness as my dad has started doing the EXACT same thing with the cats and the dog just a few months after she passed away.  The caretaker buying 15 cans of cat food twice a week!  My dad gets upset when there is no cat food in the drawer so we try and keep it full to keep him from making someone drive him to the grocery store to get more cat food or worse have the repeated and stressful discussions of why he shouldn’t and can’t drive anymore.

The similarities in their behaviors, chipping away at my heart.

 

What is life about?

Here is my dad next to my moms ashes that are in a granite urn under one of her favorite trees in their yard .   I had to move the urn closer to the house because my dad would get up in the middle of the night and go outside claiming there were six people in a taxi coming at night to see the urn.   Since moving it on the back porch, he’s only gone outside one time.

On our last trip to his doctor, I asked the doctor about these hallucinations.  The doctor said yes, delusions and hallucinations are common with dementia. Your father has no idea of time anymore.  The past doesn’t exist separate from the present, they are all blending together. When my dad looks at photos from when my mom was in her 20’s he says ‘there you are’ as he is looking at me.  Daddy that’s not me, that is mom, my mom, your wife.  ‘Who is that?’ Like he doesn’t remember having a wife or that I have a mom that was his wife.   Then he’ll look at a picture of her in her 50’s and say ‘where is she?’  She passed away dad, ‘she did?  I hate that’ he says.  Then the photos closer to her time of death I’ll say there is mom, she passed away and he will say ‘I know’.

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What a bizarre scene.  You lose your wife of over 50 years, you experience it. You lose your mind, you forget it.  You see pictures, you think she’s still alive somewhere. You completely believe she is out by the gate, that she exists and that you must find her (with a flashlight in the yard at 2 am…). You forget again that she died.  I can see the complete multi-level confusion exhausting him.  One day before my mom went in the hospital she told my dad she was going to Maine to go to college with a group of young people.  My mom, with advanced Alzheimers who would always try to wander and had to be brought back to the house by neighbors when my dad lost track of her.  After my mom passed away my dad says she wanted to go to Maine with a bunch of young people (this was all supposed to happen out by their gate).   Little did I know my dad was teetering on the edge of dementia at this point and was actually believing what she had said.  So now that she is gone, he thinks she is in Maine going to college with a bunch of young people.  His heart broken from the betrayal.  Dang!  What is life about when in the end your heart gets broken from things that aren’t even real.  I would remind him of her illness and that she didn’t go anywhere but to heaven and he would seem comforted that maybe he was just losing his own mind.

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Since I wrote this, my dad has passed away, almost six months to the day since his wife passed away.  It’s been a rough six months for him.  My dad was always the man that would insist everyone else go through a door before him.  The ultimate gentleman with regards to treating others.  I believe he let my mom go first in this instance too.  The last year of her life, stepping it up to be her caretaker despite his own health problems and doing a good enough job that no one really knew how bad he was too until after she was gone.

What is life about?

Such a relevant fortune cookie message…

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I think I have come to a personal conclusion that life is not about the brain, but it’s all about the heart.  Dragonfly moments.  We did everything from the heart for the last few years.  Brain irrelevant.  My own brain was discouraged at times with the amount of time and energy it took to care for my parents (not to mention the guilt from worrying about not doing enough) but my heart never quit, never complained and was ever present with what was important.

Life may be about opportunities to grow the heart.  I have always been able to feel my heart strongest around horses.  Especially my own horse.  I can feel the pull from my chest when I am near her.  A giant desire to hug that that does not necessarily want to be hugged, it’s pure gold.  I have practiced having that same feeling when in situations with  people.  Strangers or not and especially with people that are being difficult.  It’s always better to go with your heart places.  The amazing thing to me was feeling that same feeling about my dad as I do with my horse.  He grew my heart 🙂

I have no doubt that everyone has different ways of working out their hearts and probably for most people it’s with their children.  I know a lot of people that are natural at giving everything from their heart, this is nothing really new for them.   Some people may be able to do it with music or art or writing.  The experience with my mom and dad has just given my heart the best workout ever and grown it in ways that I could never have imagined.    At least for this moment in time I will not put a question mark or even ask the question about life and purpose.  I will just remember that the brain is not to be trusted…the heart is where it’s at 🙂

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Yes, she had beer in that cup…If you think about it the next time you raise a glass, give a toast to the best two people I have ever known!   Hopefully at peace now that their hearts are together again.

‘Life is the greatest experiment.  Each of us is an experiment of one-observer and subject-making choices, living with them, recording the effect.’  George Sheehan

 

 

 

 

 

The End

I ran 8 miles. 2 miles short of my goal. Which is ok since my goal may have killed me (or at least made me pass out).

I left you  after you gave me a hug and said you loved me. Love you too mommy. Mommy, always makes me laugh that in our 50’s Billy and I still call you mommy.
Running through the neighborhood behind the hospital I see all the pretty plants and flowers blooming. Things you love. I get out on the main road and run on the side walk. I look down and see someone has spray painted ‘you suck’ and I wonder if that’s meant for me since I selfishly went running instead of sitting by your side.

Then the next sidewalk message. Deeply engraved to last a long, long time. ‘God is Joy’. Worthy of a picture. You suck in pink won’t leave my head so no need for a picture of it.

I keep running. Past The ear doctor I took you to trying to get your hearing straight. The day he put the tubes in, I’ll never forget. The scene of you highfiving the big giant guy in the elevator because you can hear him say hi. ‘I can hear you ‘ you say, With tears in your eyes. The countless discussions about how cute and how nice Dr. Phillips was, with the perfectly ironed shirt and pants.

I keep running. Past Gainesville health and fitness where I bought you and dad a membership for a year. Remembering all the stories you told me about your times there and the shock you had that women walk around naked in the dressing room.

I keep running. Past your dentist office and then I cross the 4 lane road. Remembering when we lived in Miami you forbade us from crossing any road with more then two lanes. So much so that the first time I ever did it as an adult, I was certain I was going to be hit by a car and flattened like a pancake by all the traffic. I laugh because you really instilled some solid fear of pedestrian vs car in me. Multi-lane roads still freak me out to this day.

I keep running. Right past the shopping center where we’d frequently been together shopping long ago. I remember it like yesterday.

I keep running. This time turning on 34 th Ave. (no I didn’t cross that street, it’s 6 lanes 😳).

I was trying to run to the bus stop that the man with few teeth and a casted arm cheered Dennis and me on during a marathon. ‘Only Five More to Go!!’ He chants over and over with his arm in the air and all 5 fingers spread out high above his head. ‘Five more to go!!’

I needed that man now to cheer me on. Tell me how much farther to the finish line. ‘Five more to go’ I’m sure he has no idea the impact of how that moment and his cheers has stuck with me. The last 6.2 miles of a marathon always supposed to be the most grueling. ‘Five more to go’ man kindly helped us through. Never miss out on a chance to cheer someone on I think to myself.

I turn around at the five mile mark, afraid of the way I was starting to feel that I may not make it all the way back to the hospital.

The five mile mark being where ‘the graffiti’ wall is. The one message on The wall ever present is the memorial for the college students killed by a serial killer in the early 90’s. I lived at home with you in Miami back then. I remember being in your living room watching the news and the reports of students frantic and packing up to go home out of fear . Never knowing at that time we’d all be moving to Gainesville and that I’d be running by the wall while you were dying in the hospital. It seems so long ago.

5 more to go. I pass the same dead crow on the sidewalk. This time noticing the smell of death. You mom, always loved the crows. Throwing them old bread to eat and watching them walk around the yard with giant pieces of bread in their beaks.
The teacher teacher bird. The butterflies on your plants, the fruit on the trees. Always in the moment when sharing your yard.

Loving and fun, always positive right to the very end. Trying to make jokes with the nurses despite the pain and confusion you felt.

I wonder if at that time the five more to go guy would have said seven more to go! Seven days later you were gone. No more terrible suffering. Seven day ultra-marathon.  I am confident I can endure anything now after watching you suffer like that for over a week.
Hospice was a godsend to provide you relief from the pain. It took a lot to make you comfortable.

I’m so glad you were in such a place of kindness and care. Seven days later
Your defiant, stubborn heart finally let you go.
Miss you mom, you left one terribly lonely man behind !

Conquering Worry and Guilt

My mom can barely create a full sentence that means anything that she means it to mean and she has been like this for months.  Somehow she pulled out her longest, sharpest knife of a sentence and used it on me, stabbing me right in the heart.   ‘I just don’t understand why we can’t live there with you, I just think it would be so much easier’.  Twenty words put together with perfect sound, thought and skill.  Able to make their way between my ribs and straight into my heart.   Why can’t you tell me in a sentence if you are hungry? What you want to eat? or how your day was? Or if you ate lunch, dinner or took your medicine?

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Hugging trees always feels good!

Mom, I am gone 12 hours a day when I’m at work.  We have 3 big dogs that are guaranteed to make you fall down.  Old people fall, break their bones, have to go into the hospital, get pneumonia/constipation/more confused then ever and sometimes die.  All because of a simple fall.  It’s completely selfish on my part because I don’t want to have to worry about that all the time so it’s easier to keep the distance where I know you will be safer.

The internal struggle of guilt and worry battling in my brain like knights jousting in my head.  Who will win?    When I visited the assisted living place, the man says ‘you won’t have to worry about anything, it’s all taken care of’.  As I look around at the elderly people sitting in various places seeming dejected.   The other assisted living place I went to seemed full of happy people that wanted to be there?!  Oh but that was more of the independent living section of the facility.  Smartly keeping me out of the ‘memory care’ areas while getting a tour…And it just seemed like the people that needed mid-level care (somewhere between assisted living and memory care) that were mixed in with the independent living people,my mind chose to see all the happy people and not look at the details of the ones that may not be so happy.

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The worry is losing as the guilt of leaving them in a place  that seems so hollow takes the lead.

Going home I try and figure out all the ways I can to balance the guilt and worry so they cancel each other out.  We can pay someone to live with them in their home for as long as possible, feed them, drive them, do the daily chores.  That could work.  For a while.  Then as the confusion and mental decline progress to incontinence, there will be a hill race where worry will be stronger and start passing guilt.   Oh but we can hire a home health aid to come in and take care of the messiness of incontinence and care of cleanliness.  Not sure how long this will work either? But for now I have it balanced well.  The tide will come in and wash away my perfect foundation (that I have built in the sand, knowing it will fail)  holding it all together and at some point worry will win and away we go to the horror of ‘memory care’, guilt having no say anymore.  Although it is always possible my current plan will last till the end?

The truth is, life is pretty much at a standstill for the full experience as long at there is worry present.  Guilt is livable.  Worry is an ass.  Some people (me included) find things to worry about, where the mind gets distracted doing something else but wants to find that worry spot to obsess over again and again.  I find myself listing all the worries I have in my head so when I get to the one that is greatest I’m like ‘there it is’ and let it roll over in my head to where it is sufficiently still alive.    I have work worries and people worries and personal worries.  Yesterday Dennis asked me what I was thinking about (as we were eating ice creme…) and I said, all I am thinking about right now is eating this ice creme :0

That’s where my worry is going, causing me to actually develop a third emotional energy called ‘The chopper’…The chopper is a very sharp samurai sword that slashes worry and guilt into tiny little bits.  Destroying those emotions to leave behind a sense of peace no matter what the moments bring.  I am a professional worrier, if I didn’t worry about my patients and their outcomes, I probably shouldn’t do the job anymore.  I will still worry (just like the grass will still grow…) but I won’t let it get out of hand and hopefully the chopper can keep up.

I don’t like not being present with the moment and that’s what worry does, takes away the present.

Here is to living in the moment (raising my coffee cup) and all the lessons we have to experience along the way to actually achieve that goal!

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A doodle I did at work one day…which is completely what it feels like from time to time.

 

Where’s Your Line

Heartline Horse

DSC_0035 Photo: Crissi McDonald

I have a little puzzle for you:

How would you make this line shorter?

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Erase it?  Cut it in half? Scribble on it?

“It’s time you realized that you have something in you more powerful and miraculous than the things that affect you and make you dance like a puppet.”  Marcus Aurelius

How would you make the first line shorter?

You could do something like this:

___________________________

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Instead of focusing on how we can deface the original line, we simply draw a longer line underneath it.

We often use this thought experiment when teaching our horsemanship courses because it illuminates a pretty common way of thinking. Sometimes we get so caught up in how someone else is doing something wrong or bad, we forget to put our time and energy into finding ways to increase the length of our own line.

If you look…

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It goes so fast

 

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There is one particular very selfish motive to parents teaching their children to respect them that I am just starting to learn…it’s when they get old and can’t and shouldn’t be doing anything (like driving) that the children are frozen into not knowing how or when or what to do when their parents are hiding their struggle. The selfish part being that they can live how they want a lot longer then they probably should and have conscientious children that will help them along the way.   We all know it’s happening (except the parents) but no one wants to confront it.  I know I don’t want to be a parent to my parents.  Of course I want to help them and do everything I can but  I don’t even know how (or ever wanted) to be a parent to any child, much less two people that always parented me.   Plus it’s too close to where I will be in a few years and I don’t have the children to take care of me so I would rather live in blissful denial of what might happen to my brain.  I am just glad I am happy with a sandwich for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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I really don’t believe that parents can see their decline as real once their brain starts to get muddled so what they are not aware of doesn’t even enter their thought process.  So when you try to bring those difficult questions up, you want to respect and trust them when they say they are ok.  But I know it’s not ok.   I know it is going to happen soon.  Just this week I took my dad to Lowes to buy a microwave.  When it came time to check out my dad says ‘I hope you brought your checkbook’ which made me really laugh because that is what I say to Dennis when we go out somewhere to buy anything.  Yes, dad I have my wallet, you didn’t bring yours?  No, I forgot.

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Then there is the confusion with how to use a new microwave.  I call as I am driving home from work.  ‘Did they install the microwave today?’  Yes, says my dad, but I don’t know if it’s ready.  Do you mean they didn’t finish installing it?  No, I don’t know if it is ready, can you come over?  My first reaction is, I need to go home, I’ve been gone since 6 am, have a 45 minute drive home with 3 big dogs in the car, it’s 6pm…Can I come over tomorrow?  Yes he says, tomorrow is fine.

Thankfully my drive is 45 minutes because the selfish parents instilled in me tremendous sensitivity and a guilty conscious and supreme worry (that there is cardboard in the microwave and they may try to use it and it will start a fire and burn them and the house down and it will be all my fault for not going over there!).

So I drive to their house and go inside and they are both standing in the kitchen looking around, not doing anything really.   I think they were hungry.  They really don’t have anything to eat that is dinner-like but what can be microwaved.  They have stopped using the oven and the stove for most things.

I’ve lived my whole life being happy with a peanut butter sandwich for dinner if nothing else is available.  My mom cooked elaborate meals for dinner ever since she was a housewife so for them dinner is a ritual that involves hot food and items that are eaten at dinner, not a lunchtime meal.

So I show my dad how to use the microwave and make them dinner.  They are happy, he is thankful.  I hug and kiss them both and tell them I love them.  Meanwhile the unruly dogs in my truck spill a giant water bottle and it pours all over my treasured camera on the floor.

My insides just getting crushed a little more (because of my parents helplessness, not the camera, I have wanted to get a new camera for a long time!).

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If anyone knows dogs, I hope they have known some elderly labrador retrievers.  The sweetest age for a dog ever in one of the best personalities a breed could have.  My parents are like two very old labrador retrievers now.  Amazingly sweet and good at breaking your heart with their obvious decline.  If my parents had tails they would be slapping the ground when you walked in the door.

Mom, what are you going to do when Dad can’t drive anymore?

‘Well’, she says, ‘I will just have to start driving again’…this from my mom with pretty advanced alzheimers and can not remember hardly anything and has a look on her face like she doesn’t really know what’s happening moment to moment.

Dad, do you need me to check your bills and make sure all is well?

It’s automatic he says, pulling out his bank card saying all he has to do is swipe this and it’s automatically taken out of his bank.  I said dad, that is your discover card, it’s a credit card, there is no automatic withdrawal with a discover card.  You should get a bill in the mail that you have to pay with a check.  There are no bills he says, it comes out automatically.    Can I see if you are paying your discover card bill?  Feeling like I am being forward with asking to check his finances.  This is a man that NEVER discussed money.  Never freely gave money to his kids for anything other then what we truly needed (like school etc).    If we got money, we had worked for it.   I never saw my parents as people to go get money from.   They took care of us and paid for things but the primary money lesson I got from my dad was that money did not come easy.  You had to work for it and you never talked about it or how much you had or how much things cost or how much you or anyone else makes.  Ever.   So having to ask to help him with his bills and personal accounts is very strange turn of events that makes me extremely uncomfortable.

Even talking about him in this sense makes me feel like I am being small minded and sharing his decline is a form of betrayal.

I know there are countless people that have gone through this experience with their parents.  Then I think about all the parents that have gone through this alone.  What happens then?  That will be me!  Shit, I need to get myself together before my brain just adapts and thinks all is well when it really isn’t.  Like my mom says now, ‘it all goes so fast’.

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Patience and Trust

fullsizeoutput_208I’m sure if a person searches the internet with the word Patience (capitalized on purpose), one would find tntc (too numerous to count) articles to read.  I personally really like this one, here.

TNTC is  a commonly written acronym  in medical records.  When you have tntc next to a cytology reading or a fecal exam, that’s usually not a good thing.   Too many of anything you don’t want to see is an indication of a problem that needs to be treated and hopefully there is a treatment and that that treatment is within the clients means.

Patience on the other hand…I don’t believe anyone could have too much of that one ability.   I am sure no one has ever said ‘She/he has wayyyyy too much patience’….

In February it will be one year that Richard has consistently worked with Repay.  One year of 2 to sometimes 3 times a week of consistent handling, presence, work.    One year of me letting go of needing to do anything, see anything, be anything other then patient (although it could be me being lazy, I haven’t decided).  Having patience takes a lot of trust.  If you can trust then patience follows along like a helium filled balloon tied to a string you are holding.  If you lose trust, goodbye patience!

As a veterinarian, I have no desire at all to doctor any pet whose owners don’t have trust in me.  There is no ego involved, the most important thing you can do as a client is trust your doctor and once that is lacking then everyone is better off if you go seek out someone you trust.

I love it when people say ‘I trust you’ because that means that they have surrendered and giving me the ability to do all that I can do and allows me to communicate with them knowing what they are able to do.  They can trust that I will recommend someone else when I don’t feel I can handle it (or even if I can but know there is someone even better).  They can trust me when I realize their situation won’t allow the ‘Cadillac’ treatment that I will offer them the ‘Chevy’ treatment with great compassion and care without judgement.   Over time I have realized that I too need to trust and find patience in people.  Trust for me is very easy, I trust everyone to be who they are. Patience on the other hand, I had no real relationship with patience until now.

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One year with patiently watching Richard work his magic on Repay (magic = caring + lifetime experience + open mind + a  billion times patience) and seeing and hearing all sorts of very consistent, skilled ways of working, patiently waiting and watching, I rode a canter that for maybe 3 strides was perfectly balanced!  Not an entire circle, not even 4 strides, but 3 bounces on a ball.  It felt strong and collected and completely controlled.  It was something that made me wonder how she will be in another year.  I knew it could fall apart pretty quick since I am not that effective at my own abilities of keeping it there so we stopped.

I was instantly (almost a year later) rewarded for my patience and trust.  Sometimes we want things to happen so fast that fast destroys us.  Same with work, people want things to happen fast, to get better quick to give up way too soon.  Having patience and having trust are two areas that everyone would be better off if they practiced more of it.  I have two decades of experience working in a small animal clinic in a very rural town.  We’ve seen a lot of things over the years, a lot of practical experience.  No one can beat years of real life experience…Things get better despite us.  They get better because of us.  Sometimes we are the ones that do things too quickly because owners want them done quickly.  Then they are mad when things go how  our experience told them it would go…but oh well.   More experience, tempting defiance, under our belts.

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I don’t know what that has to do with patience and trust and Richard and Repay…I think it is a professionals conundrum.  How do you gain trust when someone doesn’t give you the time to develop it?

‘They won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’ ,  this being a quote heard or seen somewhere in veterinary school.  One of the main reasons I trust Richard so much is because from the very start he impressed upon me his care of the horse.  Care completely visible in his patience, his listening (to Repay, not me), in his words, in his actions.  It was there instantly from the very start and it has been present this entire year.   He cares if she is physically fit enough to do a move, he cares if she is flexible and even on both sides, he cares if she doesn’t like groundwork to go to something she likes.  He cares if she needs to be just sat on to do nothing at all.  He cares about getting on her to do absolutely nothing at all because that is what she needs to gain quietness more then creating movement to get her quiet.  It’s the most patient driven riding I have ever seen.  Not without discipline or some hardness but with a perfect mix of giving and taking to gain respect and her surrendering trust in her rider in a way that makes her not always out to just save herself.

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I guess his patience lies in the fact that  he knows what is needed to get the end result of a ‘broke’ horse.  Although in his mind he wouldn’t consider it his own patience, just what needs to be done.  In his experience of watching people with their horses, his view is that a lot of people don’t ride horses that are broke.  I believe that is a sad truth for a lot of horses.  Sometimes it seems as if horses and people are always on the edge of disaster.  I was there too for all my years.  I am not sure if I ever have had a truly broke horse, I was just lucky.  I know people hate the word broke, but I use it in a way that Richard means it.  A horse that gives you all it’s trust and lets you guide it without question, they don’t think, they just do, which probably means they are thinking but thinking about what you want and not want they want.

When I asked Richard who he learned from, he talked about various influences but there is one he shared that sticks with me most.   Richard and another trainer worked at a dressage barn and the two would have horses that could do the exact same moves but he said that the other trainers horses always looked so much better then his did.  Since that time he changed his ways to similar training methods, training  the horse to move correctly and thus developing the strength and flexibility to complete the moves in collection and with self carriage.  Allowing as much time needed for each individual horse to move on to the next stage of training.

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I really don’t always know where I am going with Repay or if I am driven to do anything specific anymore and I think that might be patience at it’s best. Although I also fight it feeling lackadaisical if that makes sense. Life is suffering (if you follow buddhist teachings), the end of suffering is an acceptance of this fact (my interpretation). Is that so?  (click the link to read) is one of my favorite stories and how I really try to be at work.  Acceptance of what the moment brings is really great practice for horsemanship.  When you can be quiet and sit with watching growth, whether it be a blade of grass or a horse developing under the tutelage of a master, neither can be hurried.  Sitting in patience of all things is action that is very difficult.  Six months had gone by and Richard said, ‘I’m just working with her, I haven’t started training her yet’…what ?  I really didn’t know what that meant at the time, but I think I do now.

At different times Richard will say ‘she may never get broke’ because she is a thoroughbred and at her most impressionable age she was race trained and that sticks with them so well it may never get out of her.  She sometimes gets the bit under her tongue and rides around with her head in giraffe position or reverts back to lolly her tongue when something is difficult or makes her nervous,  behaviors she developed while on the track 12 years ago.  Richard just lets her do those things without a care in the world.  Doesn’t worry about it, doesn’t try and correct it because he knows when she gets her tongue right again she will get back into normal position and over time these habits will eventually disappear.  I feel like he’s saying ‘is that so’ as she does various things while he is working with her.  I think even he doesn’t know how she will progress but he keeps doing what he knows and I keep carrying my trust balloon while watching my patience in all things blossom.