Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dressing your child like the Future Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model.....NOT!!! A young ladies battle to stay true to herself

*SIGH*...... Yesterday was probably one of the most miserable days of my entire parenting life.  Yes I know that sometimes I am prone to exaggeration but this time I am really not. After yesterday I am convinced our society is doomed to raise an entire generation of young ladies who see their body as a commodity to be flaunted and shared with the first boy that comes along that pays them some attention.

Yesterday I took my daughter bathing suit shopping, doesn't sound too daunting a task now does it? Well let me be the first to tell you, IT SUCKED BIG FAT ROCKS!!!!!  My daughter if asked will agree.

Let me back up a moment. My daughter was invited impromtu to go on a beach trip yesterday with her brother Josh and his family. I thought GREAT Genna will love it. I called her and asked and she said "Mom I would love to go but I have outgrown all my bathing suits."  I told her I would run out at lunch and would get her a couple and bring them home. Not such a big deal with the exception work to home for me is an hour commute.  Anyway off I went, after all I do work near the biggest shopping area in the city. At first I thought Whewww hooo this will be a cinch. I know what she likes I will run out to one of the semi-popular stores.. It's bathing suit season after all.  I get to the store and go to the swim suit section BINGO JACKPOT  I send her pictures of 4 reasonably priced suits, marked down I might add due to it being mid-season. Now for me reasonably priced suits for my daughter is under $40.00, preferably WAY under 40.00 after being marked down. These suits were great! Sent her pictures (gotta love the smart phone) I got the thumbs up. They were all marked down to under 25.00 paid the cashier and off I went. That is when the trouble started......

Now what I have not shared with you is my daughter is 67 days from being 13 years old. By some miracle and grace of God she is not your typical almost 13 year old. She is still more interested in her horses and animals than boys and would rather wear boots and blue jeans than shorts. Needless to say by this description she is still the young lady that when she is in the water she wants to swim, dive, flip and not have to worry about her top coming up or her bottoms coming down. THANK GOD she still wants her one piece bathing suit.  So I get home with 4-awesome suits that she has given the thumbs up on.  She tries them all on, one after another I here "Mom it doesn't fit, it is too tight on my shoulders." My heart sank as I knew this meant a trip back into town 2-hour round trip in for a bathing suit that fit. That isn't even the bad part that is really just the beginning.

We have a great trip down joke about things here and there. Talk about the beach trip and such. We get to the store return the suits with no hassle and off we go on our swimsuit journey. We go to the swim suit section only to find that the suits I found were in the girls section. My pre-teen child has grown enough to be in the Juniors and Misses section. NOT ONE DAMN 1-Piece bathing suit to be found in the entire section. Every one of them was bikini or tankini (or whatever you call those things) but not one standard general state issue 1-piece bathing suit to be found.  OK I thought my child is tall maybe just maybe there is a one piece in the adult women section and we will just get the small size. There were 1-piece bathing suits there however none of them made for swimming or for 13 year olds. NOT ONE! I found the strapless, the ones with ruffles to hide what we don't want the world to see (my daughter doesn't do ruffles either) and the 1-piece with enough gatherings to hide whatever body flaw you might have while showing every bit of cleavage you don't have. Not to be discouraged I say "This is only one store, we are in the shopping mecca." Not to be deterred we went on to the next one. Same thing!  Junior and Misses not a single 1-piece to be found in the store. The next store the same thing no 1-pieces in junior and misses.  For those of you who have not been keeping up I am now at 4- returned bathing suits, 3 stores later, 2-hours of driving, all I am missing is the Partridge in the ever elusive 1-piece swimsuit pear tree. By now I am grumpy, hot, tired, but this is not over yet. My poor child is now in tears, TEARS, I ask whats wrong and she says "I am just too big and too picky."

NOW I AM BEYOND MAD!!!!!  My baby is upset because society has dictated that once you have outgrown girl size bathing suits and graduate into the Junior and Misses sizes that you MUST wear a bikini or 2-piece and let me share with you there are very FEW of them I would have let her wear even if she wanted too. HOLY COWS AND CHICKENS she wears more clothes when she is wearing her underwear than some of those bathing suits we saw.  I took a deep breath and explained to her that she was not BIG for her age she was tall VERY tall and long wasted which makes the 1-piece a bit of a challenge but not un-doable.  I was very proud of her decision to stay in the one piece bathing suits and as a matter of fact I was THRILLED she refused to wear "booty shorts" (as if I would let her) and if she wanted a normal bathing suit I would go to every store in Winston-Salem to find it for her. FAMOUS LAST WORDS...... 

Then it hit me... girls on swim teams wear 1-piece bathing suits no frills or ruffles simple 1-piece suits designed to stay in place while you are diving and swimming!!!  BINGO this evening was looking up. I took her to one of the more popular stores which by the way I had never stepped foot in and there they were.... THE HOLY GRAIL of 1-piece suits.  As we rode up the escalator Genna and were looking at the rows of suits. Excitment abound. She was looking at the designs pointing out ones she would like to try.  I start to look for her size...30, 32,36, 38????  WTH is this?  I am not a fashionista and by this point all I want is to get my child a bathing suit. Guess what the guy assigned to the women's bathing suit section didn't know either. Go Figure. NOW my second complaint. Why is everything going to EURO sizes? We are in America and I could understand if we were in New York, California, maybe even Atlanta, but we are in good ol'Winston-Salem, NC. For petes sake just give me normal sizes.  Genna and I use our best guess and reasoning for these sizes and off she goes to the dressing room. Armed with a 30, 32, 34 of each size she tries them on. Apparently she is a 36 in whatever EURO size they are using because apparently there are several. We get excited she finally tries on one and it fits and might actually fit through the swimming season (3months left). I look at the price tag and all most die of sticker shock, it has been MARKED DOWN to $80.00.  Just so you know I then let out a string of VERY unlady like cusswords!!!  There was not a snowballs chance in Hades that I was paying 80.00 for 1 swimsuit. I mean I just returned 4 suits and only paid 83.00 for all of them.  Now I know we are at a sporting goods shop and these suits are made to shave .0004 seconds of time off your laps which could mean the difference between winning the GOLD and not, but this was not my goal. I only wanted a suit that covered the assets that the good Lord gave my daughter. I don't care how long it takes her to swim across the pool.

Once again Genna and I talked... There was no way that she could make it through the rest of the season with one suit as much as she swims. Here was our deal. We would goto some other stores that might carry theses suits to see if they were cheaper. If we didn't find any then I would bite the bullet and we would buy the 80.00 suit. The MALL surely there will be suits in the mall, I mean there are sports shops right? NOT A DARN ONE!  We covered every inch of that mall. So if you are keeping score we are now up to 2-hours of driving 3-hours of shopping time, 5-stores, The ENTIRE HANES MALL, and  2-bathing suits that actually fit but were out of our budget.  Finally after 2 more stores we finally found suits in our price range, well not really they were still pretty expensive but it was buy one get one half off and the other suit was within budget.

I am so disgusted with the whole thing. It should not be this hard to shop for a  modest 1-piece bathing suit for juniors and misses in a price range EVERYONE can afford. At every turn all we saw were very skimpy tops and bottoms. There were some Tankinis (tank tops with bottoms) but even the bottoms on those were skimpy. I want my daughter to be proud of who she is, for WHO she is not what physical attributes she may or may not have. I certainly don't want her parading around in less material than a Victoria Secret model or Playboy bunny, not ever, but especially not at 13. I am not a prude and yes I do wear a 2-piece but I am 42 years old and I am confident enough in who I am and what I am made of to fend off any hurtful remarks or unwanted attention. I am fully aware of the ramifications as an adult. Our children are not so lucky. They have not totally developed their inner self confidence and self worth at this age.  We are setting them up as a society to fail and I think that is SAD AND WRONG. I am lucky very lucky and very blessed that my child is more secure in her skin than most. She is still very sensitive but I work hard to cultivate her self esteem and praise her for making choices that go against the teenage norm.

Society should not be surprised at the number of teenage pregnancies or wonder why our youth is "sleeping around" in elementary and middle school. We allow so called fashion to dictate what our young girls wear. We as parents buy and promote what should be considered trashy and unacceptable as adults. Clothes that if a woman wears it then they are looked at as slutty but if a 13 year old wears it then she is CUTE.  WAKE UP PARENTS!!!!!  . Shorts so short their butts hang out and tops so low you don't have to wonder their bra size. HELLO am I the ONLY parent in America that considers this a problem?  I am not suggesting that we put our children in burlap sacks or that the Victorian collar come back into style. I am talking about SELF RESPECT. Respect your children enough to say no to clothes that reveal too much skin. Here is a novel thought TEACH them about self respect. Let them know it is OK to walk across the grain and not fit in with the clickish crowd. Don't let your child be a statistic. Clothes are not the only issue our societies children are having to fight with, but it is certainly one as parents we can control. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Raised in a barn......

"Raised in a Barn"  I am sure is meant to be a derogatory comment meaning that you do not have the manners to travel in polite society, however I disagree.  When I think of "Raised in a Barn" I smile proudly and say as a matter of fact I was raised in a barn. Let me tell you what it TRULY means .....
I try to live my life by these lessons and teach my daughter and riding students the same thing. These are all important things that when practiced will carry you far in life.

You learn Responsibility- Caring for something other than yourself. Horses require a 365 day a year commitment. Horses must be fed and watered, stalls cleaned, horses groomed,  jumps to paint. There is always work to be done around the farm. 

You learn about Friendship- you will make friends at the barn that will last a lifetime.
Brook Acres Farm Equestrian Team

First Horse Summer Camp at Jumping H Farm

Jumping H Farm and Celebrity Farms showing

Showing at TTC Best Friends were made from these days

Back Many Moons Ago

You learn Compassion- No horse ever chooses to be neglected. Sometimes you make the choice to step in and make a difference, because it is the right thing to do.

The Day We Brought Ruby Home.

You learn to See Past the Surface. - That with TLC and Time anything is possible.

Ruby 18 months after we brought her home winning ribbons at local horse show

You learn about the Value of a Dollar- There is nothing quite as sweet as saving your own money to buy a new saddle.

Genna's purchase of her first Saddle with her own Money.

You learn about Humility- It's not always about winning the ribbon- sometimes it's about just staying on your horse
Genna learning to jump Reba Bareback.

  You learn to Take Pride in a job well done. - This was a mother's proud moment.
Genna's First Blue Ribbon Walk Trot Canter

You learn to Explore Your Boundaries- Some of your greatest adventures will be achieved while looking through the ears of your horse.

Genna riding Tonka leading a trail ride.

You learn Patience- When working with young horses it takes time, consistency and work.  It makes the successes all the sweeter when you finally get it right.

Tonka finally jumping with Genna riding Bareback.

You learn about Fashion-Pretty is not always practical, Comfortable or cool.

You learn about Disappointments - Sometimes you have to choose whats right for the horse even when you have worked hard to get to the show.

Tonka ended up tweaking his pastern while warming up for their first dressage test. Knocking them out of showing for the day.

You learn about Great Friends- Someone providing a Plan B so you can show when your horse gets injured. 
Genna showing Roman's Celebrity (Owned by Mike and Ginny Taber) instead of Tonka for her first Dressage Test.

You learn about Sportsmanship- Some of your greatest friends will be the people you compete against every weekend. 

 You learn that life is full of Hard Knocks- Not to mention the ground is hard. You either learn to get up and dust yourself off and remount or take the long walk back to the barn. (There is a story here)

It was only a sorta long walk back to the barn to catch Blue.

You learn about Love. There is no greater bond than a little girl and their horse

 You learn about Heartache. Losing a horse is like losing a best friend.

Genna's first real partner in crime her pony Reba.

You learn about Freedom. The wind in your face as gallop through an open field.
Genna galloping Reba through the field.

You learn about Accomplishment. There is no greater feeling than riding a horse and knowing you have put all you have into the very moment when everything goes right.  

Genna's first jumping show. She was so afraid she would forget her course.

     You learn about Partnership. You can tell your hopes, dreams, successes and failures to your horse and they will love you just the same.
Genna giving Tonka some pony love.

You learn that Every Horse is Different and has something to TEACH you- Much like meeting new people. Each person and horse has his or her own personality, strengths and weaknesses. Acceptance of those strengths and weaknesses will carry you well in your life's relationships. 


So you see every time you go to the barn, every time you put your foot in the stirrup, hop on your horse bareback, groom your horse, clean it's stall, you learn about life. Every horse you encounter will touch your life in some way, much like the people you meet. So the next time someone complains about the time you are spending at the barn, or your worried about whether you should get your child involved in horses, just know there are LIFE LESSONS to be learned and shared.

Mom, Me, and Genna

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Reflection... I think I'm on the right track

As a parent you want to raise your children right, but right in whose eyes? In the current culture we live in there are so many theories about the "Right" way and the "Wrong" way to raise your child. To punish or not to punish, corporal or the time out corner. Everywhere you turn there are fanatics on all sides. I decided long ago that I wanted to raise my child(ren) in the country, specifically on a farm. Away from the hustle and bustle where children could play, be outside, and enjoy nature. There are drawbacks to this of course but I feel the positive influence of being raised on a farm with a solid work ethic, knowing that no matter what the weather there are animals that need and depend on us for their care and well being. Putting another living creatures health and well being ahead of your own wants. Empowering our children to make decisions based on what they have learned from us as parents. For our child(ren) to be held accountable for their choices, positive and negative, would serve them well in the "REAL WORLD". I would like to think every parent strives to teach their children right from wrong with positive influences to back them up in these teachings. As our children grow up and hit those pre-teen and the dreaded teenage years it is nice to see some small reflection in them of what they have been taught. Not one prodded out of them because they think that is what we as parents wants to hear but an honest moment of clarity that you get, just a fleeting glimpse even they don't realize it. I was blessed with such a moment this week. My twelve year old daughter Genna is studying poetry in school. One of her assignments was writing different types of poems. All of her poems are good but this one touched my heart. With her permission, I will share her poem with you now. I have made plenty of mistakes as a parent. This list is way to long to write, however in this single season of her life I think I am on the right track . I could not be more proud than I am right now. The assignment was to write an "I AM" poem:


I am country and a girl
I wonder how the world naturally revolves around the sun
I hear my favorite country song at school
I see God everywhere
I want to see the true in people
I am country and a girl
I pretend there aren't any limits
I feel loved
I touch peoples hearts
I worry about the drought during harvest season
I cry for fallen soldiers
I am country and a girl
I understand I can't have everything I want
I say God is real
I dream about owning my own farm
I try my best in everything I do
I hope you get whatever you want
I am country and a girl
written by Genevieve Huttar 1-24-13

Friday, March 1, 2013

Skeleton in the closet...... Addiction (a loved ones perspective)

Whew just the title makes me cringe as I write. All families have skeletons they try to keep firmly in a closet. For years addiction has been a taboo subject people only whispered about. If you were an addict you were ostracized from the family or maybe the family tried to keep it hidden and dealt with it privately. Some still do.  Addicts and addictions come in many different forms. When you think of addicts most people picture the bum on the street with the bottle of cheap wine, a person at the corner bar drinking his/her life away, the drug deal taking place on the corner, or more recently the meth lab found in some remote rural area that you hear about on the news after it has blown up. I always have wondered why people who never passed a middle school science class think "Hey lets make meth and sell it... how hard can it be"? Then BOOM they are surprised when their building blows up. I am here to tell you all of the previous mentioned are very real, some not very smart but real all the same. These are the addicts you see or hear about the most. They are the exception rather than the rule. Look around you, co-workers, members of your church, the neighbor down the street in your quaint "Leave it to Beaver or Mayberry" neighborhood. This is where you will find most addiction. Otherwise crazy brilliant people with so much talent. Business suits or blue jeans, young or old, race, creed, color, and sexual orientation don't matter, addiction does not discriminate. I am not here to quote statistics, as a matter of fact I can't quote the first one. 

What I can do is tell you what I have seen, heard, and felt when someone you love has an addiction and there is NOTHING you can do to fix it. It is the most befuddling, painful, mind boggling, heart wrenching experience you will have, short of the death of a loved one. Addiction in some ways is worse. If that seems a little over the top, then you have never walked in my shoes.

"I want to be an addict when I grow up", said NO person EVER. I am sure there are hundreds or maybe even thousands of reasons and explanations as to why it happens. Scientific, psychological, enviroment, upbringing, peer pressure, escape from reality, or "I will just try it once", are some of the top things that come to mind. Once an addict walks through that door (or gateway as it is sometimes called) for the first time they will spend their entire life trying to get back out. Addiction runs the gamut it can be alcohol, drugs (legal and illegal), gambling, other substance forms, and activities that can't be controlled or moderated. Just because you have participated in the activities mentioned above doesn't mean your an addict, but you might be. Denial is not just a river in Egypt. 

Addiction in the dictionary is defined-
"The condition of being abnormally dependent on some habit"  

Over the course of my life I have seen the cycle of addiction. The ups and downs the success and failures of loved ones fighting to win over addiction. If you are reading this and not one single person comes to mind when you hear the word ADDICTION....... Then ding ding ding you have  scored big on the roulette wheel of life go buy a lottery ticket!   GO HUG EVERY MEMBER OF YOUR FAMILY and COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!!! Hell do these things anyway. They may think you have lost your mind but you and I will both know the real reason.  

I haved watched loved ones and aquaintences with addictions waste such amazing skills and talent. Natural gifts, talents and intellengence that will boggle your mind, throw away everything in their life, friends, family, relationships, careers all for the next fix (whatever that may be). Addiction is an internal struggle, people who recognize they are an addict battle this fight every day of their life. They are wired differently than people without addictions or an addictive personality (As I have heard it called). Why do I know this? I have seen it first hand, listened intently at the pain and suffering of loved ones trying to make sense of the why and how, studied, read, wrote, asked questions to those with addictions and prayed on the very subject. Prayed every day and often.

All addictions have similarities but not all addictions are the same. The one thing that every recovering addict will tell you.....
"I had to want help and I had to hit rock bottom. "
All addicts experience FEAR in their life, it's an acronym. What might seem like a normal everyday occurrence, day to day reality if you will, to me or you will send an addict into a tailspin. The addiction is their comfort zone the escape from reality.  It is THEIR REALITY it is THEIR MASTER.

F- Forget (or the F word in the non-PG version)
E- Everything
A- And
R- Run

There will  be excuses, justifications, lies, or at the very least denial that there is even a problem. Please understand if you are watching this happen there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO to fix it you can only handle how you react. Only the person with the addiction can fix it, even then it depends on the severity and only with the right kind of help. People with addictions are the only people that can truly understand other addicts and their behaviors. I have been priviledged enough to have information openly shared with me when I asked the hard questions. Knowledge is vital and key in understanding the thought process, the cause and affect.
It was explained to me one time and I paraphrase "Every day I build a wall between me and my addiction. There are days when it is easier than others, some days I don't think about using as much, but when I become really stressed, tired or upset that is the first thing I think about, USING. The best I can do is try to plug the hole in the dam by talking to my sponsor, go to an extra meeting, and pray for the strength to overcome the urge."

Being someone on the outside watching the struggles of someone I love trying to beat addiction is heartbreaking. This is a horrible disease, habit, problem, DNA code. I am not here to argue semantics if addiction is a mindset, DNA driven, or disease. Tomayto  - Tomaaato ...I will not debate this issue.

What I KNOW TO BE TRUE is ADDICTION IS REAL and crippling to the addict and the people that love them. There is hope and there is help for someone suffering from an addiction and their loved ones. Wow that sounded like a rehab commercial and it certainly was not meant to be. :)  Please educate yourself. Don't think for a skinny second you can fix this on your own or even deal with it on your own. That is no more feasible than the addict believing they can "just quit" anytime they want or do it by themselves. Sure they might for a while but they will relapse without outside help. Trust me I have seen it with my own eyes. Not every program helps every person but I will share with you what I have learned.  Be open! If you are going through this reach out. There are people like me willing to listen. (There are professionals that can help loved ones and are far more qualified than me but sometimes an ear and a shoulder is a good place to start). There is strength in numbers. Find a support group that deals with addictions.  If you are the person ready to admit you have an addiction, REACH OUT please by all means REACH OUT. I have been told that no matter what your story of rock bottom is there with be another person's addiction story that will make you go WOW are you kidding me, mine is not quite so bad after all.  Awareness, education, and a support system are key for addicts and their families. 

Addicts will deny they have a problem, play the part of the victim or play the blame game.
Recovering Addicts will admit they were the director of their own story. Their life was not taken from them but that they gave everything away, addiction was their master.

If you want more information about addiction check out this website.  Narcotics Anonymous. 
Every person has their way of coping with a loved ones addiction, mine is to write. If this blog has given you some insight please feel free to share, comment or subscribe to my blog.

You can't choose your family, your only hope is to love and understand them to the best of your ability. For all the ups and downs I wouldn't change one single member of my family. I love them all dearly. I may want to strangle them sometimes, but I am told that is normal. Let's hope so :)

Below is a poem I wrote in 2008 during a particularly difficult time in my family. Until now only a select handful of people had seen this poem. This explains my feelings better than the blog.

The War Within

I don’t understand the choices they make
Their body suffers, so little care they take,
Is it nature, genetics, the way they are made
Or does it all begin as a way to escape
It’s a world I watch every day
My heart is broken tears fall where they may.
They make the choice wanting to get well
The addiction is stronger sometimes they fail
I give my love, watch them cope
Wanting to help but I’m afraid to hope
Can't they see it tears apart
The very ones who love them with all their heart
This vicious cycle we have seen before
How can their bodies stand much more
Each day they win the harder we pray
Tomorrow seems like it will be a much brighter day
I stand outside this foreign life
I get mad and angry at the pain and strife
Such talented souls trapped in a prison
Mind and bodies addicted to the poison
I remove myself and stay just outside
For fear if I don’t I will lose my mind
My love is strong and always there
Even when it seems that I don’t care
The struggles are many and the pain is tough
You begin to feel like love is just not enough
I pray each day God will deliver the strength
For each of us has gone to a great many lengths
The inner battles continue with the war that rages
Will it free the battered souls from the chains and cages
The prison will continue while the addiction is fought
We all hold our breath as freedom is sought
I have to believe that after the war
The inner battles will be no more
Peace will be won and there will come a time
When we will all be as one, this family of mine

Nicole Huttar Sept. 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Take time to smell the manu.... er I mean Roses (Blessings at every turn)

I had a moment yesterday. Ok I had several moments but the one I am referring to made me stop and think. Yesterday was my 42nd Birthday.  Some people have a problem announcing their age to the world but I don't seem to have that issue. I have earned every great, wonderful, exciting, horrible, crappy, scare the hell out of you, interesting, dull, non-descript moment in my life. In reality I am responsible for every adjective of those moments I just described. The good, bad and the ugly, not to be cliche. I decided a while back that no one should have to do anything they really don't want to do on their birthday so for me I decided to take the day off from work. It was a cold, rainy, dreary day anyway so why not stay in my pjs all day. Sounded like the perfect plan to me. I took my daughter to school in my pjs, fed the horses in my pjs aided with my winter quilted zip-up suit and duck boots of course. Mind you my definition of pjs does not swing towards the cute little flimsy lingerie you see on the Vicki Secrets commercial. Hey I live in a 150 year old drafty farm house and this is February. You are lucky that I am not dressed as Nanook of the North. I did however have on some thermal leggings and a t-shirt.  Sitting on the couch under a blanket watching the rain out the bay window lamenting at the fact that it was cold enough to freeze the rain on the trees but the ground was just warm enough to make the rest of the farm into a cross between soggy grass sponge and mud pudding. Then it hit me... what a crappy day to have a birthday. Birthdays shouldn't be cold, rainy and muddy or should they?  My birthday is in February the likely hood of me having a warm dry birthday are pretty slim. In fact I am reminded every time my God Mother comes to town I was born on a day just like yesterday. Cold, bone chilling, rainy day.  This is where my moment came. Sure it is a crappy rainy winter day but for the most part I really don't mind. I would prefer not to have a week or so of these yucky days in a row but an occasional rainy day gives me an excuse to be inside or maybe trap me inside would be more correct. I would prefer Mother Nature spread the precipitation factor out a little more evenly but if not I will put on my big girl panties and deal with it. In reality I am very close to living my ultimate dream. Growing up all I wanted to do was work with horses and own a horse farm. CHECK!  The second thing was be able to share my love and passion of horses with other people wanting to enjoy these creatures as much as I do. CHECK! Third thing is to share this passion with my daughter DOUBLE CHECK!!! She is quickly becoming a far better rider than I have ever been.

Somewhere in the last 10 years or so a dear friend of mine in the horsey community told me "Nicole you need to slow down, you are burning the candle at both ends. You will soon burn out if you don't."  At the time I tucked that information away for a future reference thinking nahhh I will slow down when I achieve my ultimate goal of running a horse farm full time.  As I got older my life goals and dreams changed a bit and had gotten off course.  Unlike many of my fellow horsey friends that work with horses full time (I am admittedly jealous) I took a slightly different path toward to my Full Time Horsey Reality. Three years before I bought my farm (I leased a facility before this) I started a career in the Information Technology field. My 10 year plan was to buy a farm and set it up to be a full time working horse farm by 35. This was a goal I DID NOT achieve, a BLESSING in disguise. By the time age 35 rolled around I had a daughter to raise and I wanted to make sure she was provided for. As most horse people know the winter can be pretty unforgiving. Now understand while I love a good pot of pintos and homemade cornbread, not to mention mac and cheese or ramen noodles I don't want them to be a staple dinner item through the winter months. I did not feel it was fair to drag someone with no say in the matter through my winter fasting. (Kidding on the fasting part. I will NEVER miss a meal). So this dream while still obtainable would have to wait. My priorities had shifted it was no longer about me and mine but hers. In my 30's I made some decisions, VERY TOUGH ones and not all of them smart. As a matter of fact I can honestly say WOW some of them were STUPID. The old saying goes, "IF YOU GONNA BE STUPID YOU BETTER BE TOUGH." Thank goodness I am not short on tenacity and drive. Due to some of my decisions I am now faced the reality of debt.  Wanting things now buying on credit.... blah blah blah you know the drill. I know I am not alone but I don't want to walk in their shoes either. I have enough manure on my own.

 When I turned 40 I decided that I wanted to be out of debt by 45. That means EVERYTHING but my mortgage paid off by the time I am 45. I am proud to say I am on my way down the right path. Now mind you I still scrape by from time to time or have to borrow short term if my reserve falls short. Horses will do that to you. There is always the unforeseen expense or the next vet bill lurking around the corner. My dreams they are still there. I receive little blessings everyday to let me know I am on the right path. A note from a friend that I made her giggle with a post I made when she was having a bad day, somebody stopping me in the hall to tell me they appreciate my smile and wit, A random stranger that has heard about my accident asking me to speak with their daughter so she understands the importance of safety, compliments on what a lovely driven young lady my daughter has become, a pep talk from a friend when I am having a bad day, but most of all the hedge of love I feel from family and friends who truly get me.

Just so you know I have heeded my friends advice. I have slowed down somewhat, I have nothing to prove to anyone but my daughter and God. That comment may surprise you but I will tell you why it was made. The best shot anyone has of raising their children is to lead by example. As a parent you are either in or out of their life everyday. Even if you do everything right (which is impossible) there are still no guarantees. Your only hope is to be the person you want your child to emanate most. As far as God is concerned, it is MY BELIEF he is the very definition of LOVE. I believe he put me on this earth to do great things for others through my passion for horses on a grand scale. Besides raising an INCREDIBLE daughter my Ultimate dream for myself is to enrich others in a GRAND way through my passion for horses. Not just people who want to learn to ride but people who need something to focus on besides their own issues. I believe there is therapeutic healing for humans when you work with horses. This year I changed my farm's logo to reflect that.   "Jumping H Farm- Where life's priorities are clear, When you take a step back it is not just about horses, its about Love, Life, and Learning." This will be my ultimate blessing.  It may not happen today, tomorrow or next week but it will happen.

~ Nicole Huttar 

Don't ever let someone tell you that your dreams can't be obtained.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

3 Seconds Later....

There are many times in life as we grow up and get older that are game changers. Some of the normal ones that come to mind are 5years old. When you turn 5 you feel you have arrived your a BIG kid now. Age 13 you have hit the teenage years officially. Age 16 you get your drivers license.... and so on, you get the point. Unlike age however there are other milestones that are not driven by age necessarily but by the seasons of your life.  Marriage, the Birth of a child, Divorce, the Loss of a Loved one, or a life changing accident.  Mine fell into the latter category on December 12, 2012. For those who don't know me, I am a typical woman with a full time job, 12 year old daughter, and a horse farm. Horses are my passion. I have spent the last 28+ of my 41 years soaking up all the knowledge of owning, training, caring for, and riding horses that I possibly could. Many of those years especially the last 20 or so I have shared this knowledge with others young and old.  Horses are large majestic creatures that certainly have a mind of there own. In the horse world there are two types of people: Those who have had an accident around horses and those who will eventually have an accident around horses. If all of a sudden you have puffed out your chest in indignation while reading this and say "I've never had an accident around my horse and I don't intend to start now", I hope for your sake that is true. I can say however with uncanny certainty, the level of your accident will be in direct relation to not only YOUR horse knowledge but the LACK of knowledge of those around you. Any knowledge I share relating to horses is because they are my passion, life blood, and addiction. I have this silly notion that everyone should experience the pure joy and love of horses the way I do. On that note my accident story I want to share for two reasons: #1 If this story makes you shudder and think twice while backing your horse off a trailer I may just have saved you from an accident. #2 It is my duty as a horse professional to bring to light a true safety issue many of us horse people never thought about.

NOTE: This is NOT the actual trailer or horse(s) but it was
this type of configuration.

December 12th was a normal day on the farm. We had an overnight boarder coming in on their way to Florida. We have many snowbirds as I call them that live in the great cold northern region the US and head south to Florida for the winter months. Lovely couple with their husband's horse. A large draft/qtr cross mare brought in with a general 3 horse slant load gooseneck trailer with the fold down windows. I have watched people unload horses off these types of trailers thousands of times. Open the window hook the lead rope to the halter unhook the trailer tie, the person in back unhooks the slant divider and off the horse backs. No problem... Never once have I thought about the person hooking the lead rope on or the fact that 90% of them, including myself at 5'9 are too short to reach the halter without hanging off the side of the trailer holding on with one hand while feeding the rope through with the other. I bet if you are a horse person reading this you have NEVER once thought about this or how unsafe it is. This is where my injury takes place. I first have to say the horse did NOTHING wrong. Not acting up, she was a perfect mare. ( I do realize mare and perfect are two words are rarely in a sentence together.) In this instance however it is true. I offered to hook the lead rope on the horse since this gentleman's wife was about 5 foot tall and she couldn't even reach the horse. He handed me a rope with a clip (this should have been my first red flag) this was not a standard cotton lead rope, it was just a rope much like a rappelling rope or rock climbing rope with a horse snap attached. It was about 12ft or so and tangled at the end. #1 RULE of HORSEMANSHIP -NEVER GET IN A HURRY. I wasn't in a hurry but I did think, "HMMMMMM that is not a real lead rope". In that moment had I stopped retrieved one of my lead ropes the accident would have never happened. The horse industry has millions of types of lead ropes for every purpose in the book. I prefer the braided cotton with a good sturdy snap on the end. 8-10 feet no longer for leading or unloading and made of a material that will not readily tangle or knot back on itself. Hindsight being 20/20 and many weeks of recovery replaying the scene in my mind of shoulda, woulda, coulda I have come to the conclusion this would have been best way to have avoided what happened next.  I stepped up on the sideboard of the trailer, snapped the rope to the mares halter, untied her trailer tie and called for him to undo the butt bar. Holding on the trailer with one hand I was feeding the rope through with the other as every other horse person in the world has done at least once. 2# RULE Put the lead rope around the horses neck and let them back themselves off. Do NOT feed the lead rope through the window as the horse backs off.  (Slant load trailers with rear tack do not allow for you to get in the trailer with a large horse if they are loaded in the slant closest to the door) I have an open stock trailer for this very reason.  As the mare started back and stepped off the trailer she popped her head up to catch her balance for the step down. In that very moment the rope flipped up out of my hand and curled back on itself around my 3 middle fingers. The rope then got hung on the open window and the loop closed around my fingers as she backed the last two steps off the trailer. At first it felt like just a bad rope burn, the loop closed and then straighted out as the tension increased. I jumped off the trailer and grabbed at my hand closing it into a fist. Several cuss words and stomping my foot later, because stomping your feet always helps the pain, I figured some peroxide, neosporin and vet wrap would fix it, until I opened my hand. In less than 3 seconds the loop in that rope had stripped my fingertips down to the bone.  There I am standing with a woman I have known less than 20 minutes missing the tips of my fingers down to the first knuckle and my first thought was, "Vet wrap isn't going to fix this", my second thought "Find Don I need to go to the hospital," my third thought was "This hurts like a SOB!".  The next 5 minutes were a blur of telling the overnighters to make themselves at home, Don tucking me into the car and the fastest drive to the ER in the HISTORY of MAN. Don could drive Formula One cars or at the very least road courses.

Being the eternal optimist that I am, a flaw I am told by some, this is where the Power of Prayer, Faith, and Family come into play. You see I live in a very rural country part of NC. The nearest major hospital is an hour away. There is a hospital close to the farm but I never in a million years thought they would be able to take care of an injury such as mine. Fingers with bone exposed, tendons, nerves and muscles all mangled and a hand with multiple cuts, it was truly a scene out of a bad slasher movie. I have always heard that when you have a horrific injury that your body will numb the pain, endorphins and adrenalin will kick in so the pain is minimized.... This my friends is a BLOODY lie!!! I hurt like hell at that moment all I wanted was to be out of pain. I would have gone to my veterinarian at that point if I had thought they were closer but I digress. Hugh Chatham was where we went. Five minutes from the farm, well the way Don was driving anyway. :)  As luck would have it not only did they have an orthopedist on call but Dr. Johnson was a hand surgeon specialist. That was BLESSING # 2 for the day, BLESSING #1 was that Don was still at the farm and had not yet left to run his errands.

The next few days were a blur of hospital, surgery, what ifs, what can I expect, and reassuring those closest to me that I was going to be just fine. Some members of my family and in my closest circle of friends don't deal with accidents well. I understand this and I never intended my passion for horses to be a constant source of worry for my loved ones. If you are a horse person you get this. Everything we do revolves around our passion for horses. Right or wrong it just simply is this way. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't worried, or that I didn't have my breakdown and have my pity party.  "Pity table for one please". I waited until I was alone. They had rolled me down to surgery prep getting me ready, there I was alone in the silence of my own thoughts. The tears, fears, and the stress all came out. Bless the hearts of those poor nurses that had to deal with me the blubbering fool. The last thing I remember was a nurse handing me a tissue and me telling her "Don't mind me I will be the blubbering idiot in the corner". She smiled eyes full of compassion, winked and said, "Go right ahead we won't tell a soul". For the most part I am not a vain person. I don't fuss so much over hair, makeup, and the like before I leave the house. The people at WalMart, Lowes Home Improvement, Food Lion, and Tractor Supply probably think I own nothing but boots and riding pants and live in a ponytail or baseball hat. I am forever going there straight after riding. My injury however did give me pause. I had no idea what the future for my hand held. How much would they be able to save, what was it going to look like, would people notice? I think the worst part was not knowing and not being able to see my hand after the surgery. The Surgeon and all of the staff were wonderful. I had an amazing medical team on my side.

A picture of me and Indie with the boxing glove chilling on the couch.
 Post surgery and the following weeks are where the REAL fun began. (There is complete and udder sarcasm dripping out of every word of that sentence.) Not one single part of this recovery was fun. Not fun for me, not fun for those close too me, and especially suck suck sucky for Don and Genna who had to live with me. Here I was hand wrapped in what I can only describe as a boxing glove. Dr. Johnson left me with specific instructions "You may NOT do anything around the horses with this injury. If a germ, spore, or anything causes infection to these fingers you will lose your hand".  Guys let me tell you this one sentence hit home. Over the coming days I had come to terms with my fingers. Even making jokes, much to the dismay of some of my family. Being called Stubby I could deal with, I had no desire to be called Stumpy because of a stupid infection. I am a HORRIBLE patient, I don't mean to be but I am. Depending on others kills me. This injury humbled me more than I can begin to describe in words. I was determined to make the best of it but until you lose the use of a hand, even the non-dominate hand you have no idea how much you use it. I won't go into detail but suffice to say you use it ALL THE TIME.

The Moment of Truth

The next several weeks were pure torture for me. Five days after my surgery it was time for the first wrap change. The moment of truth.... I was going to see for the first time a glimpse into what my new normal was going to be.   To be honest I didn't know what to expect. Taking off the wraps was just about worse than the injury when it happened. Bandages stick to open wounds. My nurse was amazing! She was as gentle as she could be but the reality of it was, It was just going to hurt and there was nothing she could do about it. Dr Johnson was pleased with the progress, and off I went with a new wrap. Wrap number two came 5 days after the first with some new instructions, " I want you to unwrap this everyday and soak your hand in salt water for as long as you can stand it but no less than 3 minutes.WHAT????  Have you ever gotten a paper cut? Forgotten about it and then headed to your favorite fast food restaurant and ordered french fries. Not thinking you picked up the first fry with your cut finger. Remember the burn, the stinging?  Now take that moment and multiply it by a cup of Epsom salt in 4cups of water in the open wound on three fingers. On a pain scale of 0-10, (10 being the worst pain you have ever felt) that feeling is around 212. It did get easier and the soaks did help. They were not fun but they did help. Each Dr's visit I asked the same thing when can I resume my horsey activities? Answer: When your fingers totally heal. By this time it had been weeks since I had lead, touched, or even smelled a horse. Torture in it's purest sense is for a horse person being told you may not get within touching distance of a horse. . I was trapped looking out the bay window while the horsey activities went on around me.

Getting used to my "New Normal"
This story does have a happy ending. My family, friends, co-coworkers, even people I have never met rallied around me. Donations of meals, offers to help with the farm, donations of clothes I could actually get on over my boxing glove, all helped ease the stress of one of the most difficult seasons of my life. Don and Genna were AWESOME! Taking over all the chores I normally do and helping me with everything. What amazed me the most were the prayers. Tons and tons of prayers. Prayers from people I have never met. Prayers from people who I never thought were praying kind of people. My story is not unusual, people get injured all the time. Injuries much worse than what I have sustained. I can name multiples instances off the top of my head. What is unusual is my healing process. My injury was very graphic. Not even the Dr. thought I would heal the way I have. He has commented several times during the course of my healing process that he is amazed at how quickly and well my fingers have healed. I can only take what he says at face value. He had very little to work with really no tissue left to use to graph. There was nothing to sew back together. He amputated the bone almost down to the first joint leaving what was left of that joint and tendon in tact. He had no expectations that it would be a cosmetically pretty or even how functional it would be. He certainly never expected for me to grow any type of finger nail or nail bed back.

New nail starting to grow

Everyone has their beliefs. I will not fault another human for believing in something or someone other than God and Jesus. That is not my call to question, judge or belittle. I can tell you over the years I have had my doubts, questions and received judgement from people of faith.  I only had half hearted faith in what I didn't understand. In this instance I can tell you I firmly believe in the power of prayer and faith. A dear dear friend of mine called to check on me many many times over the course of this accident like so many others that I hold close to my heart. Her words were of great comfort to me. "Nicole ", she said, "We may never know why this accident occurred, but there is a reason for everything that he (meaning God) allows to happen. God will never set you up to fail. Tomorrow or the next day even years down the road what has happened to you may have meaning, or you may never know at all, but it will have purpose, we just have to have faith that something positive will happen out of your misfortune and I will continue to pray for you to be blessed by his grace".  Those are powerful words coming from a woman truly entrenched in her faith. From that conversation, well really before but our conversation certainly sealed the deal, I wanted to turn my accident into as positive an experience as I could. This story may never help anyone or prevent this type of accident from happening to someone else, but if it does then I am glad I wrote it. On a side note 9 weeks after my accident, I am typing this story with my new to me healed fingers.
Back in the Saddle

I am back to riding (exactly 57 days after my injury), typing and all my normal activities. The strength is still somewhat limited but it is getting better everyday.

 Many people have asked to see a picture timeline of my injury and recovery. I will post the link below.