This blog will chronicle the life and training of Heavymetal Thunder (aka Saxon), a 2009 chestnut Standardbred gelding who didn't have the makings of a racehorse and so will be retrained as a show and pleasure horse. Stay tuned, as we're sure to have lots of great adventures together!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Back From the Dead

This will be a short blog post, but a post nevertheless.  No doubt, with my 18 month long absence, most of you out in cyberspace probably figured I had either fallen victim to the zombie apocalypse, moved to a remote mountain top to live "off the grid", or finally grown out of that horse phase (this last one's for you, mom and dad!).  Well, I haven't noticed an increased appetite for brains or the ability to walk as fast as others run, I enjoy modern conveniences like electricity and plumbing too much to remain in the wilderness for long, and my enthusiasm for my horses is just as strong today as it was when I was 8 years old doodling horses in all of the school notebooks and pinning horse postcards to the bulletin board in my room.  So where have I been, you ask?

I've been in a foreign, yet familiar place - school.  I've been learning all about the myriad of things that affect your teeth and mouth in pursuit of a degree and license to practice dental hygiene.  Though ultimately successful, the journey was quite challenging.  Imagine taking a 4 year college degree and cramming it into 2 years.  Now image not only hours in the classroom every week (try about 18 hours in the classroom), but spending the remaining hours of the week (about 16 hours) in clinic or at offsite rotations.  Now take the hours you have left and spend them writing papers, doing homework, recruiting patients for clinic, completing copious quantities of clinic-related paperwork, and studying, studying, studying.  Now image that this all culminates in two very important examinations.  For the first, you are responsible for EVERYTHING you have ever learned about dentistry on a completely comprehensive 350 question written exam at the end of that two years.  Everything's fair game from nutrition, to general anatomy, to radiography, to research methods, to medical conditions, to microbiology and pharmacology.  Did I mention this test costs $400 and you have to wait for months to retake it if you don't pass the first time?  For the second, you must find a "board patient" for clinical boards, which is a $1,000 non-refundable hands-on subjective examination where you are evaluated on your ability to find, assess, and treat a patient who meets certain, very stringent criteria.  Stressful much?  YOU BET!  But I met a lot of great people along the way and had a great group of classmates, which made a huge contribution to my (our) ultimate success, the privilege of adding three little letters, RDH, after my (our) name (I'll save you the trouble of Googling - it stands for Registered Dental Hygienist!).  The next time you see your dental hygienist, be sure to thank them for their time and effort.  They worked a lot harder for the privilege of cleaning your teeth than you realize!

So yes, essentially, I HAVE been living under a rock for the past two years.  But now I am free!  (Though, with license finally in hand, the job search begins tomorrow.  Need an RDH?  Inquire within!)  Much like a horse being turned out after a long stall rest, I scarcely know what to do first with my new-found freedom.  Naturally, I want to dive head-first back into the activities that bring me enjoyment and fulfillment - riding my horses, racing my cars, and running.  Well, it's not quite that simple.  To make a drawn-out story very succinct, a horse related ankle injury I sustained  a few years led to a walking boot, which led to an altered gait, which led to hip problems that manifested several months after I'd been cleared to run again, which was ultimately diagnosed (after 4 months of PT for the WRONG INJURY because their protocol is treat first and do diagnostics later????)  as proximal hamstring tendinopathy and stress fractures of the "seat bones".  Apparently, these injuries are not uncommon in female long distance runners, though my running was hardly to marathon standards.  Running is currently not an option, and my doctor advised me to avoid riding and "bouncing around in the saddle" yet bicycling was not only permitted but encouraged.  I made it about four weeks just driving Saxon (another plus about the Standardbred - most come with driving skills installed) before aimlessly circling my yard in a jog cart wasn't cutting it anymore.  A few careful, easy test rides on Legs, and I determined that riding was not the culprit.  (But if I try to run, within two days I'm hobbling around like an old woman and struggling to tie my own shoe.)  I guess my doctor thought I must ride like a rag doll flopping around in the saddle or posting like a jackhammer...  So I am happily back to riding, though in a cursory nod to the doctor's orders, I am being more cautious by avoiding jumping, doing more driving when feasible, and being careful about my riding circumstances.  Anyhow, moral of the story - I'm back from the dead, hungry for brains, and ready to have more horse-related adventures.  Stay tuned.        

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