… the spirits are not about to speak.
They don’t have to. I’ll write about it.
And it’s regarding horses. Really.
Bullwinkle Went Near-Sighted Again
Apparently, in 25 percent of cataract surgeries now, scar tissue grows back over the new lens and makes vision blurry. In my case, it was gradual and difficult to detect, so I ended up living with it for several months.
Unless you have an emergency, just try to see an eye doctor in December when people are squeezing the last bits out of their flexible spending accounts or deductibles.
Once I saw an ophthalmologist, I learned I’d need a laser procedure that would take five seconds. His office only did it one day a month. I’d just missed January’s.
I coped by only driving in the mornings after the commuter hour. I also had to switch to magnifier goggles, even for reading.
But I had to stop driving at night. In the winter, the return drive home from the barn where I take lessons is after dark.
As the scar tissue built, my vision became worse. I tried to ignore it, but horses can sniff out denial and use it against us better than a psychic litigator. I had to stop riding, but I didn’t want to stop going to the barn.
Bullwinkle Studies Up 2B Mr. Know It All
Funny how I didn’t have any trouble finding friends to drive me to the barn.
My instructor came up with “ground lessons.” I wrapped legs, but the squatting and bending made me dizzy. And I braided tails, which made me feel clumsy.
I hadn’t realized how important it was for my eyes to be able to focus.
Before my fourth lesson, at which I’d intended to fumble more through tail braiding, my instructor stopped me. She’d come up with “something,” she told me, “you don’t have to be able to see to do.”
She mentioned having received permission from the pony’s owner, before asking, “How would you like to learn to clean a sheath?”
Oops! Wrong hat!
I’m old enough I remember back in Kentucky when “ladies” were “invited” to leave the barn for deeds deemed too foul for tender eyes, such as veterinarian visits.
As a result, I’d never heard of sheath cleaning until I moved up north and saw ads in the local equestrian news for those who specialize in the process.
I’d also seen an episode of “The Incredible Dr. Pol,” in which Dr. Pol extracted a gelding’s bean and told his owner she could do this herself.
Her response? “I’m not that kind of girl.”
Apparently, I am.
Presto! An Opportunity!
You see, I’ve been riding again for almost a decade. Between various health endeavors clobbering my strength, including the afore-mentioned cataract surgeries, I’d never cantered on purpose. Except for maybe three steps.
I decided if I cleaned a gelding’s sheath I could finally claim some equestrian badassery.
So, my response to my instructor?
“Do you have rubber gloves?”
Like his barn stablemates, the bay gelding we’ll call “Rocky” is a professional schoolie and knows his job. But he’s not a push-button ride. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly. He simply ignores them. #VoiceOfExperience Somehow, somewhere, he learned how to give grouchy mare face.
He’s also a little bit “Pac Man” because he likes to mouth everything. When his teeth finally pinch human flesh, no one is more surprised than he is, if for no other reason than he goes from scolding to big trouble.
Some people, especially new students and their parents, are afraid of him. He’s fine with that. But then they fall for his charms, which are considerable. He is handsome and athletic.
But Rocky and Bullwinkle here have an understanding. I tell him to keep his chompy bits to himself. He knows I’m careful around his tender spots he’s particular about, like around his withers. I know he likes to have his poll and forehead rubbed. And he knows the blue bag I use to carry my helmet and composite stirrups also holds peppermints.
My mission? To make Rocky more comfortable and hygienic in places he can’t reach himself.
“Watch Me Pull a Rabbit Out of — “
Maybe I’m belaboring the Rocky and Bullwinkle motif.
I assisted, aka watched and helped as best I could, as my instructor prepared the bucket of warm water, a little mild soap, some ripped apart rolled cotton to make sizeable cotton balls, and dropped them into the bucket to soak.
No shoulder-length gloves like Dr. Pol’s or Dr. Emily’s for me. Just wrist-length disposable gloves. But that’s okay. I’d worn a short-sleeved tee shirt. The barn has hot and cold running water, as well as soap.
Aware my driver du jour and I planned to go out for sushi afterward, I told her what was in store. A former hunter-jumper rider, she nodded and said, “That’s why I like mares.”
Considering “Rocky’s” preferences and habits, he tolerated the warm water swabbing of his reachable innards with cotton balls. No grouchy mare face. No snapping turtle impersonations from the crossties, either.
Also, considering how high up inside I had to swab, I’d wondered if he’d tucked himself even higher. As if to say, “Hey, Bullwinkle. This trick never works. Really.”
Bullwinkle to instructor: He’s hiding it.
My instructor: Keep going, You need to go deeper.
This Bean of Which They Speak with Such Fear and Loathing?
What was it like? Really?
A ball of dark wet lint.
I’d been expecting, well, a bean. Something harder.
But, later at dinner, we didn’t order the edamame appetizer.