My Life With R.A. And Horses
I figured it might help to start to keep a journal of what I do with my horse and the others at the rescue I volunteer at and others that I end up working with. As well as keep a tab on how I'm feeling these days.
Here's a bit of background on me, I've been involved with horses practically my whole life. I honestly believe they are one of the reasons I've been able to stay out of a wheelchair. R.A. for those of you who don't know is Rheumatoid Arthritis. At ten months old I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid, many years and many things later I now have it through out my whole body, I have severe contractures, and was recently diagnosed with scoliosis. I have one joint fused at the moment. And am in some kind of pain every day. Yet I get my self involved in the things I love most, the horses. July of 2010 I got my filly Araya and for the past 6 or 7 months have been training her. We've come a long way and she's making great progress. I also volunteer at a horse rescue and work and ride some of their more difficult horses.
Went down and saw Araya on wednesday and thursday. Let her lose in the arena and watched her run and buck and play. After she got some energy out I started to work on desensitizing her to ropes. She has a thing about ropes and being haltered. Let her drag it around in the arena while I did some chores. After I finished one of the trainers at the barn helped me desensitize her to a towel. She did wonderful. Took her for a walk around the place and she started to get nervous the farther away from the barn she got. She would try and walk faster, prance a little, look around and started to call. Took her back to her towards her stall and she refused to cross a patch of snow in front of the stable. Took her around the back and managed to get her through the gate in to the neighboring stall. But she would not come out of that stall. Kept pressure on her till she finally stepped out and into her stall next door. Groomed her and let her be till dinner time.
The next day she had a fit about being haltered like usual. Once haltered she refused to step out of her stall. Managed to get her out of her stall and she refused to come out of the stable, there was that sheet of melting ice/snow in front of it. Told her to relax and follow me, which surprisingly when I told her to follow me she tried to before stepping up behind me next to the stable where it was dry. Let her lose in the arena but she didn't really feel like running today. At least right away. I let her observe a few horses and she would mimic them a little. After a few minutes I got her moving, and she got some energy and her bucks out. She did really well when I told her to change directions and come in. Best she's done in a long time. I worked on the rope thing again and was able to toss it all over her without a fuss though she tried to bolt sideways and rear a little. She even tolerated it being tossed over her head and touching her face and under her belly and everywhere. I was very proud of her. Took her to a different round pen today and on the way there there was a blue tarp she had spooked at the other day, she didn't even flinch when walking up to it and I made it move, she was more interested in the hay it covered. In the round pen I let her run around a little and watch kids playing/yelling on the playground and the cars going by. Then I desensitized her to scary plastic bag. After rear, sidestepping, walking in circles she accepted it to being put all over her body. After her lesson we went for a walk and into another arena she had problems with before. She was really cute on the way there. She would stop suddenly look around at where we were going then she would look at me and keep walking after I asked her to keep going. In the other arena there are barrels and two small jumps. She got all huffy at one jump then when I walked over it she walks around then tried to walk over it too. She was not in the least bit afraid of the barrels set up for barrel racing. She figure out she could push them over and move them with her head. She thought she was funny when I tried to put it back up and she pushed it over. She doesn't like the fast cars on the road next to that arena though so I'll probably bring her over there more often till she gets used to the cars going faster than they do in the stable grounds. Took her around some trailers and she did good as usual.
I'm feeling pretty good today, no soreness that I usually get after working with her which means I'm getting stronger or this new med is working better than I think it is.
I sympathize. My mother and sister both have RA. Both had it show up in their adult years though. One of my past lesson students had the Juvenile kind, she was unable to ride some days because of the pain.
Wonderful and descriptive thread. YOu seem to have a good way with the younguns.
Thanks guys, sorry to hear that RA has affected your family apachiedragon. Hope they are doing well.
I didn't give much info on what I've been doing these past few years that may come up in this journal. I'm trying to become a horse trainer. An insane and crazy minded feat for someone in my condition, but its what I want to do, and I can't think of anything else that would make me truly happy. I'm hopefully going to college in the fall, I've been accepted into an equine business managment program, and may be switching to the horse training and managment program her soon. In the mean time I'm working on my reputation and my skills with the horses and plan to continue doing this. Araya is a now 11 month old QH sorrel filly, she will be 1 year old on April 13th.
Visited the horse rescue and bugged the owner about my letter of Recommendation I need for a RA scholarship due on friday. Of course he didn't have it printed out, which irritated me after I had to write the letter for him. Nonetheless I have to find some time this week to annoy him further, which i hate doing. But it was nice to go there today and see at least someone seemed excited to see me. That made me happy for awhile. Talked to a guy there about his horse Santana, who is a lovely bay paint. He had/has some issues but the guy is doing wonderful work with him. I found it odd when he said Santana didn't like girls yet he didn't even react when I came over and stroked his neck. In fact he started licking and chewing and cocked a leg, especially when I talked to him. When another girl came over his head came up and he seemed to be nervous. I find it funny that this horse will come up to me in the pasture with the others aswell. Not to mention the others, I seem to be a magnet for them as they all seem to enjoy standing near me or following me around, even the skittish nervous ones we have. I didn't get to work with any of them this weekend but I hope I'll get the chance to the weekend after next. I need to find some time to see Raya (Araya) over spring break as well. Hate the fact she's so far away.
My JRA is alright, the new med is at least taking some of the edge off, I have another infusion on the 24th of this month. Still flaring badly enough to the point where I will grit my teeth in pain and limp around. But strangely there is little to no noticeable swelling. May have to ask the doc to up my dose.
Heres some pics of my girl at about 10 months (She loves eating and playing with tumbleweeds, not sure why):
I was diagnosed with JRA five years ago @ age 15 so I totally understand what you are going through...mine is decently controlled with my meds but at the end of the month when my next infusion is due, it gets really difficult to get around..I can't even imagine working with a young horse right now..I get bumped around enough with my 27 yr old guy haha...so kudos to you and good luck with what you are doing! definitely subscribing to your thread. And if you ever need someone to vent to about your RA to...feel free to PM me :D
Thanks Katie, she's been a challenge these past few months thats for sure. She likes to throw her weight around and act like the baby she is. Sometimes I wonder what I got myself into. If you ever need to vent or just chat feel free to PM me too.
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I found an amazing job offer last weekend and went for a job interview on saturday. I got the job, I'm now an assistant to a fairly well established trainer. I'll be helping her with her horses. I'll be lunging, grooming, riding, doing ground work. I will even be helping her take them to shows and even possibly showing her horses and my girl along with them after I get her moved to her place. I also get to help her get some andalusian stallions and a mare ready for revision. It should be interesting and a great experience for me. Can't wait to get started. I also rode a horse bridleless for the first time this weekend, it was amazing.
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Wow, this is pretty inspiring. I was diagnosed with JIA just before my 16th birthday, and it has had a pretty major effect on my life. I feared I would be in a wheelchair for the first few months of being diagnosed and not on medication. I'm extremely fortunate to get injections that pretty much make my joints as normal as possible, to the extent that I can now mount from the floor, which is amazing for me because it's my left joint that's the worst :D
If anyone wants to PM then I'd love to :)
I love this thread, please carry it on!
Just got back from working with Araya. Its been a crazy week and this seems to be the only time I can get to see her for awhile. She was a total butt today. I don't know if its the weather or what but she was jumping, crow hopping, rearing and all that as we walked to the arena. Let her lose and she ran around for a good ten minutes. Worked on getting her ready for halter classes. Then worked on the rope thing again and she did good. After that I just played with her and ran around with her and she'd buck and play. She even allowed me to put my little dog on her back for a minute. After working with her I brought her back to the stable and brushed her out, she would not let me have her feet but once I let her graze she let me have them and pick them out. Put her away then brushed her mane and tail out then let her eat and let her be. I might be working tomorrow or this weekend whenever I hear back from my boss.
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Had a relaxing weekend with my girl. On saturday I went down to see her. It was very very windy so we mainly stayed in her stall. I worked on getting her to back up and getting out of my space. I worked on her foot issue and she now doesn't have as much of a problem with it. Which is good for of. I even worked on getting her comfortable standing tied and completly giving to pressure on her halter. She did a wonderful job and only really pulled back on the rope once while she was tied. After that I let her out in the arena and she ran around bucking and playing. After a few minutes of this I desensitized her to being sprayed with water. She so hated me for that. She really hates water and mud, wonder how she'll be in a few weeks when it should be warm enough it give her her first bath. Not looking forward to that exactly. Afterwards I groomed her and fed her her dinner then left for the day.
On sunday I went to see her after picking up some slick an easy grooming blocks from the tack store. Caught her fairly easily then brought her in and 'tied' her up. Set to work getting rid of all that shedding winter fur. Have to say I love these grooming blocks and so did she. I was using it on the side of her neck and she was pushing into it slightly and partially closed her eyes. She didn't even flinch when I did her legs and under belly. I still can't believe how much hair I got off of her. It was amazing though note to self never do that again on a very windy day and don't talk lol. After grooming her and refreshing the lessons she learned yesterday I revisited the towel and put it on her head and started slapping it lightly on her sides as it was a fender or stirrup of a saddle. She did well. Then a wrapped one leg up in it and she could care less. Wrapped two legs togethsf like hobbles and she tried to move but settled after half a step then just looked at me like she was asking me what I was doing. Did the same to the back legs. Thats when our neighboring horses owners showed up.
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