I take 3 to 4 weeks off every year during the Christmas holidays. Usually about 9 of the days is holiday pay instead of my PTO because my work shuts down during the holidays and we don’t take all the holidays during the year to be able to have a long holiday break. I take my PTO before and after the holiday break. I have been with my company for almost 18 years (Oct. 1 is my anniversary date). I get 200 hours of PTO a year!
The first year I owned Hondo, we rode everyday during the Christmas break. It was the first year that I owned a horse that didn’t throw fits due to being barn and buddy sour. It is a horse’s inclination to be with another horse due to them being herd animals. They have the flight instinct when faced with danger. Hondo has more of a protective instinct because he has taken care of me on several occasions. We also lost our riding buddies my neighbor Cindy and her horse Cisco. Cisco developed a twisted gut and Cindy had to put him down. To this day, Cindy has not gotten another horse, hence me riding by myself.
I have never had the freedom to ride the trails alone. I found it so peaceful and serene. I was telling Hondo all my thoughts. I would have never told him certain things if I had a riding buddy. That year Hondo and I got to explore trails and we found some trails that I didn’t know existed. We explored all of The National Saguaro West Park. I never worried about getting lost. I always figured Hondo knew his way home! Hondo gave me my confidence back that I had lost with Trisha. That was the best holiday season that I had have for a long time.
I had been getting ill over time. The symptoms always seemed minor and I didn’t realize I was getting sick. I had some headaches, but they weren’t anything to worry about. I had them almost daily. One day at work, I passed out and the EMT’s that responded said I was having seizures. When I came too, I had the worst migraine. After that, I started getting migraines that really debilitated me. The Doctors could not find anything that could be the cause of the migraines. My neurologist finally sent me to the Mayo Clinic to find a diagnosis. They finally were able to tell me what was wrong. I have a disease called “Psuedotumor Ceribri”, the cerebral and spinal fluid was putting too much pressure on my brain and in my spinal column. They gave me several spinal taps where they were able to extract excess fluid. I started feeling like myself again. Unfortunately, the fluid would build up again and all my symptoms would return. They wanted to put a shunt in. This was considered brain surgery. I asked for options:
One of the options was losing weight. They didn’t know why, but most people that developed this disease was overweight. Once they lost excess fat, the fluids would normalize. They told me it didn’t always work, but that it helps. At this time I weighed over 200 lbs and I am only 5′ 4″ tall. I was considered obese. Losing weight was better than brain surgery so I knew that’s what I had too do. I had surgery to help me lose weight faster because I couldn’t live with the symptoms I was having. The disease was damaging my eyes nerves. By the time I had the surgery, I was completely blind in my left eye. They didn’t know if I would get any of my eyesight back.
While I was losing weight, so was Hondo. Hondo went off anything sweet we gave him. We gave him pellets which has molasses in them, he stopped eating his apples and even his horse cookies. The only thing that he would eat was Bermuda hay. Due to this, he started losing weight. The Vet took every blood test she could think of and they all came back normal. Hondo was also colicking. One time he was having a bad colic that we had to transport him to Phoenix to a horse hospital. They diagnosed Hondo with ulcers. I had to put Hondo on a 42-day treatment plan. My vet told me that if I bought the medicine from overseas (Abler.com) that I would save a ton of money. She couldn’t sell the medicine from overseas and what she could sell me was easily a couple of thousand for a 14-day treatment. I bought it from overseas. After about 2 weeks on the medicine, I could tell it had started working. Hondo was eating better and he could even eat his cookies without colicking.
The worst part of Hondo being sick was that he had lost easily over 250 lbs. He was getting better, but he was having a hard time putting the weight back on. My husband said that Hondo was having sympathy pains by losing weight while I was.
I had to have another surgery due to complications from the first surgery. When they did that surgery, they found the tumors that I had just gotten removed in March. Hondo started gaining back some of his weight, but he had lost some muscle mass also. I know this was from me not being able to ride very much.
I am better and Hondo is better. We need to just get in shape to be able to tackle the “Arizona Trail”. I would like Hondo to gain at least another 100 lbs and I know every ride is helping with his muscles.
Hondo is a very happy horse, we did try to get him a companion during his illness due to we thought he may be lonely. Not Hondo, he just tried to kick the crap out of the other mare. I also found out that Hondo is very protected of his stall where he is fed. Hondo’s stall is attached to the arena and I had always just had the stall gate open. He could wonder about as he felt. Hondo has a pattern he completes everyday. He starts in his stall for breakfast, then he walks along the south side and stops under the shade from a large tree just outside the arena. Hondo stays there for about 2 hours then he walks to his water on the west side of the arena. We put the tank there because it is next to his stall and it isn’t in the way if I was working Hondo or another horse in the arena. Hondo will travel to the NE corner of the arena after that. He likes to hang in the corner because he can see any traffic, including lots of walkers and runners. We have a pretty quit street and Hondo thinks that every walker must come see him. He will call out a greeting to get their attention if they don’t look his way. He spends most his day there. Hondo will go back to the water trough and wait in the NW corner for dinner. Hondo likes his routine and hates any other horse messing with it. The mare we got him for a companion would walk into the stall checking for more food. If Hondo saw this, he would come charging and corner the mare and just kick until she was able to get out of the way or we came out to break it up. Hondo loves being an only horse and so we had to take the mare back to Sharon’s ranch before Hondo had really hurt her.
Hondo loves going for rides, even if it breaks up his routine. He nickers at me every time he sees me open the tack shed. I can tell when Hondo doesn’t feel good when he stands or lays down along the North side of the arena about half way between the corners. That is the only time he stands there.
During the summer months we have a mist system in his stall. Hondo will stay in his stall most of the day when that is on and it is too hot to go standing out in the arena. Hondo loves his mist system. I know if I wasn’t a horse rider, I would possibly have gotten a shunt in my brain. If I had done that, I wouldn’t have been able to ride anymore. I will never take that chance. If they have to do anything else for my disease and it would stop me from riding, I would have to be facing a decision that would keep me from dying only. For my mental health and all the great exercise I get, I cannot give up my riding.
After my first surgery, I slowly got my eyesight back. I do have some permanent eye nerve damage. I have lost peripheral vision in my left eye and the ability to see anything above eye level in my right eye. That is better than being blind which is still on my plate.
Hondo and I are back to riding every chance we can get. My husband really worries about me when I’m gone. He is trying to get me to find a riding buddy for the Arizona Trail. Sharon said she would ride, she just doesn’t want to sleep in a tent on the ground. Sharon has some back issues and the ground might exacerbate those symptoms.
I will probably end up ridingide the trail alone and put my husband in a panic attack. He says he doesn’t want to help me with coordinating the logistics. Once I write it out and assign my mom some of the duties he should be helping with, he will cave. Ecspecially when I write “bring hay and fresh water to re supply TC. Check Hondo and TC for injuries = Mom” Use Joe’s truck and bring horse trailer for Hondo to relax in prior to next passage.” My husband will cross out my moms name and put his. My husband loves me with all his heart (I’m one of the lucky ones!) and he will worry, but he will help with logistics as soon as I have the whole plan written down!
That is a the major story of Hondo. I have a few more stories, but they will make another great entry into my blog.
TC and Hondo