Monday, March 13, 2017

Fuzzy Wuzzy

Grand Oaks has another sort of equine in one of their pastures. They have two donkeys. Cute, fuzzy donkeys. It turns out that they are rare Poitou donkey that originated in the Poitou region of France. The Poitou were originally used to breed with horses. The offspring of a male donkey bred with a female horse is a mule. The offspring of a male horse and a female donkey is a Hinny. Generally the offspring, whichever way they are bred,  are sterile. The Poitou are rather large, by donkey standards, and the mules they fathered were prized for their size and strength. With the advent of gasoline engines the market for mules declined and the population of the Poitou plummeted. In the 1970's there were less than 100 world wide.


The donkeys are very friendly and promptly come up to the fence for loving....



and carrots!



It was a challenge to get a picture of either donkey. 
Don't you just love those ears?!
(The donkeys are fuzzy year-round. In cooler regions their 
coats will form dreadlocks that can grow to the ground!)


There will soon be three Poitou donkeys at Grand Oaks.


Everyone has been anxiously awaiting the birth. 
I walk by their pasture every morning... just hoping I'll see three sets of ears.

Nothing yet.




Friday, March 10, 2017

The Itsy Bitsy...

I haven't decided if this is really cool, or really creepy. The Science teacher in me says it is really cool.
But....
Last week I took the dogs down to the dog park for their evening potty break. I grabbed the miner's light flashlight and stuck it on my head instead of trying to wrestle leashes, doggy poop bags and flashlight as I usually do. As the dogs began their evening ritual of sniffing everywhere other dogs had been I noticed a sparkle from the dirt, oak leaves and the few sprigs of grass that have withstood being trampled by puppies. I walked closer. Oh God. No! It was a big brown spider. Bleech! I backed up and the light caught another sparkle. Another spider. There were sparkles all over. Dozens of them. Even more. (And there I stood in my sandals-shudder!) I grabbed the dogs and left the park, and of course had to look it up on the Internet. It seems that if you hold a flashlight up by your eyes, or as in my case, wear one strapped to your forehead, spider eyes will reflect the light directly back to your eyes. 
I told Mr. Dreamy about it and he gave me one of those looks. You know, the "I don't believe you" sort of look. The "don't make such a big deal about nothing" look. So a few nights later (since I was still talking about the spiders in the park) he took the dogs out. He agreed that he saw the sparkles, and he confirmed they were from spiders, but he disagreed on the "dozens". He admitted to having seen "a few". 
Tonight I took the dogs back to the park (having put on my sneakers first). The spiders were there, not in the numbers I saw before, but there none the less. Some of the spiders, upon closer inspection, had pea sized bodies, and were about 1 1/4" in length including their legs. Others were itsy bitsy, with a total length of less than 3/8". Their eyes, however, reflected the same amount of light. 
Taking pictures didn't work all that well. Here is one attempt:



You'll have to try it yourself. If you don't have a "miner's light" hold a flashlight on your forehead, just above the bridge of your nose. Do you see what I saw?
After leaving the dog park I kept checking the surroundings. On this particular evening, I discovered there were more spiders in the grass than I had seen in the dog park. Oh. No. They're everywhere! 


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Tortoise and the Hair


Gypsy and Tucker found something new to intrigue them at Grand Oaks. Nope, not the horses. They wanted to meet that hard shelled critter that came out to eat grass behind our motorhome each afternoon. We shared the immediate area with two gopher tortoises each about 15" long, and there was evidence of more throughout the property. The tortoise is a threatened species in  parts of the southeast as loss of this tortoise could threaten the future of over 300 other animals that shelter in the tortoise burrows.

Image from the Internet
The Internet tells me that tortoise burrows are extensive, sometimes running over 100 feet in length at a depth of up to 10 feet. When we walk we see fresh piles of dirt up to 2' in diameter. They remind me of the sand piles we see in Colorado from pocket gophers. I am thinking the piles we see are from similar burrowing animals that are creating their own entrance/exit to the tortoise's burrow. We drove by this pasture with dirt piles in line. Care to bet that the dirt piles trace the line of the tortoise burrows?!



I'm not certain what Tucker and Gypsy might have done had they gotten up close to the creature....


I'm not certain what the creature may have done if he came nose to nose with them.


Although he seems very placid, I wasn't willing to let it happen!


Monday, March 6, 2017

Showtime

This weekend Grand Oaks had a Hunter/Jumper show. It was great fun to look out from the motorhome and see horses jumping in the arena just down the hill from where we are parked. But of course, being the horse lover that I am I wandered around and took in all of the beautiful horses.

A sweet little red roan heads into one of the arenas.

I loved watching the progression in size of jumps and the abilities of the riders.

There were four arenas, each with different styles of obstacles. 

I got tickled listening to the coaches providing pointers to their young charges.
I wondered if it influenced the judge in the hunter or equitation divisions.

I would catch myself "riding" with the horse in the arena.
I took almost every jump with every rider I watched.

When I showed I almost always did hunters and equitation. I found them
boring to watch. Even though the jumper division didn't go higher than 3' 3"
it was much more exciting.

This guy enjoyed some Gatorade after his jumping round.
This beribboned young rider (as in hair ribbons)
heads back to the stabling area after her round.
Riders don't get their ribbons after their performance.
Winners are announced and they collect their ribbons
at the event office later.
I didn't like that as I couldn't connect names and numbers
to what I had seen in the show ring.
I enjoy wandering through the stabling areas to see the preparation and care
after competing. There were quite a few little obstacles for kids to play with.
  
Ribbons are proudly displayed on stable banners.

This sweet gray looks totally unphased by the hubbub around him.
I think he is wishing he was out running free in a pasture.
When I awoke this morning, the show was like a dream. The jumps in the arena had all been removed. The horses have all gone back to their own stables. All that is left are my pictures and memories!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Four-in-Hand Friday

Everyday we see horses pulling carriages around the grounds of the Grand Oaks RV Resort, where we are currently staying. On Friday's they all parade through the grounds together, featuring the four-in-hand teams, but including others as well. Tuesday is Tandem Tuesday and tandem rigs, as well as all others make up the parade.

This is the view from in front of our friend's RV.


Hamstring

If you are one of my blog followers, you may want to skip this post. It chronicles "old lady" issues I have been experiencing and is basically pretty boring. However, I wanted to put things down in writing because the other "old lady" issue I experience is that things get a big foggy when it comes to details. I figure by writing this down it will give me some baseline data that I may need to reference in the future!

I have been struggling for over 6 months with a hamstring injury. Last spring I began to notice an ache, some pain, along the back of my right leg when I played pickleball. I thought it was simply a matter of being out of shape and it would correct itself with more exercise. By July, as the pain increased, I came to the realization that it was not the case. I gave up playing. (If I'm not playing pickleball, things must be pretty bad!) I stopped walking. I babied my leg. I used ice. I had some chiropractic visits that included suggestions for exercises to perform at home. I did the exercises. I began walking, increasing the time on the trail slowly. It was beginning to feel a bit better. I was beginning to feel a bit stronger. I volunteered to help at a Beginning Pickleball Clinic around Halloween. The first day went well. It was great to be "back on the court" even though I wasn't really playing, but was merely demonstrating and watching others play. On day two a fourth person was needed to play. I didn't even think about it, and went out on the court. Things went well until a ball was headed out of bounds. I lunged for the ball. The muscle said, "Hell, no!" and I was down. And so began another round of RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation. I limped along and finally got a prescription for physical therapy after Thanksgiving. The therapists were wonderful. Knowing that I was heading out of town on an extended trip they fast tracked the program, providing practice and printouts of exercises to conduct on the road. My goal was to be "Pickleball Ready" when we arrived at the RiverBend RV Resort in mid January. As we traveled across country I did exercises while I sat in the navigator's seat. I did exercises as I prepared dinner. I did exercises after dinner. I stretched every morning. The ice bag was used liberally. The pain was slowly receding and I could feel that I was getting stronger. When we arrived at RiverBend I slowly incorporated pickleball in my daily activities. I used a compression brace around my thigh. Whether it truly helps is debatable, but I figured it might remind me to take it easy. The first week I played one game each day. The second week I added another game. The third week I played 2 or 3 games depending on how I felt. Along with pickleball, I participated in a PiYo (pilates/yoga) class. It was too demanding, so I concentrated on portions of the class that didn't tax the hamstring. I enjoyed line dancing classes. I walked the dogs, and I began to add a slow jog, 20 - 30 steps at a time, with walking breaks in between. I felt great. The hamstring ached now and then, but there were no sharp pains. When I jogged I noticed an ache along the top of my right hip. It felt like a muscle was a bit sore, but it wasn't debilitating. It made me think I was doing the right thing, getting exercise, even though things were a bit sore. Then, one night I jogged a bit further. I felt great until.... pop! I felt a sharp, searing pain along my hip - just a few inches below the top of the hip and toward the back. And so began the RICE routine...again! A few days later we moved to Lady Lake, FL where we had reservations for a month. Our RV site is up on a hill overlooking horse arenas. Walking down the hill was alright. It hurt, but not terribly. Walking up the hill was torture. Every step with my right leg brought a lot of pain. Walking up steps with my right leg was next to impossible. For a while I adopted a double step approach: step up with the left leg. Bring the right leg up to that step. Repeat. I decided to seek help immediately so that maybe I could get back into gear sooner. A friend in the campground recommended a health center with chiropractors, DO's, physical therapy and PA's. On my first visit we determined that I had injured the gluteus medius, a band of muscle  that runs from the head of the femur up to the top of the hip.


Despite the fact that I opted to go to a health center that focuses on chiropractic and bone stuff, I need to go on record as being a "chiroskeptic". I have often thought that Chiropractors are right up there with witch doctors and palm readers. However, I have been pleasantly surprised. Dr. K has spent more time focusing on my muscles than on the alignment of my bones. He could immediately tell that my hamstring has a lot of scar tissue, and thus is shortened and weaker. Because of this, my leg hasn't moved the way it should, and stress has been put on other muscles, which caused the G. Medius to squawk. Dr. K also knows exactly where the trigger points are where the muscle is in spasm. Holy cow... how does he know to press... right... there... where it almost makes me cry?! The pain when he presses stabs me at those points is almost more than I can tolerate. It seems that the Gluteus Medius has probably had issues for quite a while, it isn't a new injury. Today it was recommended that I have TPI, trigger point injections. They inject lidocaine directly into the muscle in spasm to help it relax. The injections hurt far less than trying to massage the knotted muscle. I will have to go back to have some repeated injections, but it is hoped that after several rounds the muscle will relax and the pain will go away. Here's hoping!
So, now I am back to ice packs and exercises. It is tough getting old!


Another thought, are the two injuries related? Does a connection exist between the plantar fasciitis I experienced in 2016 and the hamstring?

Scene Along the Side of the Road: Farms

Our drive through central California seemed long and frankly, boring. However, the monotony was broken by observing the produce along the s...