Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Recovering from Adrenal Fatigue: The Art of Listening to the Body

My body is smarter than the rest of me, at least when it comes to healing from adrenal fatigue. It tells me when to rest and when I have plenty of energy. The problem is that most of the time, I tend to ignore these signals from my body because I have "deadlines" and "stuff to do." This is all well and good until my batteries run out of juice and I literally crash!

The Beach and the Art of Listening to My Body

Luckily, even though I am usually quite deaf to my body's requests to rest, I spend five weeks each year in Cancun, Mexico (where I am right now). During these five weeks, I do very little work, focusing instead on recharging my batteries, relaxing, and rejuvenating.

Having recently discovered that I've run down my batteries so much that I now have adrenal fatigue, this latest trip down to Mexico has been most interesting. Adrenal fatigue occurs when we push ourselves to "keep going," no matter how tired or stressed we feel. Our bodies compensate for this by producing more adrenaline, cortisol, and other hormones so that we can keep going. The problem is, after a few years of living in overdrive, the adrenal system burns out because it is one of the most sensitive organ systems in the body. Then we have symptoms like constant tiredness, burnout, weight gain or loss, or depression.

That sounds like me to a tee. I recently started on an adrenal support supplement, Eleviv, and the results are quite interesting. Eleviv not only supports the adrenal system and other bodily systems so that I sleep more restfully and awaken more refreshed, but it also seems to enhance my body's requests for rest.

Adrenal Fatigue Recovery on the Beach
Down here I spend whole days lying on a beach chair under a palapa, reading a book or just staring at the ocean. Usually, being a very active zen cowgirl, I can't stand this level of inactivity, but having cleared my calendar and taken my Eleviv faithfully, I am beginning to "hear" the messages from my body. And I can honor those messages with very little trouble. I can sit quietly for hours at a time without feeling the need to be a human "doing" instead of a human "being."

With other people, adrenal support supplements like Eleviv tend to have the opposite effect. People who are often depressed or low-energy feel vibrant and energized, and are more willing to engage in activity instead of being inactive because of depression. It's pretty interesting how our bodies are each wired differently, and how adrenal support creates different effects in each of us.

Three Things You Can Do to Prevent Adrenal Fatigue

So there you have it. The beach report on adrenal fatigue. And in case you can't take five weeks to rejuvenate your body, don't worry. You can still alleviate the symptoms of adrenal fatigue in many ways.

1. Support your adrenal system with herbs like Eleviv.

2. Listen to your body.
If your body is sending messages that you are tired, don't override the message with artificial stimulants like caffeine. Instead, try to muddle though as best you can until you can take a break. Even a 10 minute power nap is better than slamming a few cups of coffee.

3. Regulate your schedule as much as you can.
The more you can get your body on a regular schedule, the less you will need to call on your adrenal system to go into "overdrive" to accommodate unexpected emergencies. Try to get up and go to sleep at the same time each day. Leave work at the same time each day if possible. A regular routine keeps us from overworking the adrenal system.

I hope that helps. Adrenal fatigue isn't fun, and it can take up to two years for your body to recover if you have a severe case. Lying on the beach and staring at waves for a few weeks is my recovery method of choice.

Care to join me? I'd love to show you how. Eleviv is only part of the equation ... drop me a line to learn more.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Roping on the Beach and Beginner Blisters: Ouch!

I am in Cancun, Mexico right now, practicing my roping techniques with my brand-new lariat. Beach chairs beware! Yup, that's right, I've been roping every inanimate object in sight, from beach chairs to banana peels (I kid you not). And I've got the blisters to show for it. Ouch!

But hey, I'm in Cancun for five weeks and the series of roping clinics I've been planning together with my pro-roper friends Dusty Healey and Mary Duke (of Stirrup Cup Farm) will start right when I get back to Colorado, so I want to be prepared.

I brought my lariat with me and I have been practicing for about 20 minutes a day. It's fun, and I get more than my fair share of comments, sniggers, and outright stares! Oh well, being a zen cowgirl isn't about being "normal" in any sense of the word!

Lessons of the Lariat
I'm big into learning (my hubby calls it staying out of trouble). Learning keeps my mind and body agile, both of which are important around horses. And if it's cheap learning, all the better. So what are the "lessons of the lariat" that I've learned down here in Cancun so far? Well ...
  • A lariat is a cheap horse activity (when you take the horse out of the equation, of course)
  • You can give yourself rope burn in all kinds of places when you first start out, especially if you are wearing a bathing suit!
  • Your hand-eye coordination improves at a rate directly proportional to the number and painfulness of your rope burns
  • The arm can only stand this kind of work for about 20 minutes (thus far, anyway)
  • Blisters are a fact of life so get used to 'em
  • There's immediate satisfaction in roping something (can you say instant gratification?)
  • I'm finding a "sweet spot" on my rope, a definite place where the loop is just the right size, the rope is balanced just so, and I don't hit myself or others in the head.
All of this, of course, can be translated into some priceless life learning opportunities. Roughly translated, the lariat lessons above equal:
  • Save money where you can
  • Learning can be painful
  • Painful learning can speed up the process
  • The tortoise approach is often necessary to success
  • Life sometimes sucks, be prepared for that fact
  • Immediate gratification is a necessary counterpoint to tortoise-like patience
  • There's a sweet spot in every part of life ... you just gotta look for it!
So who knows how these lariat life lessons will evolve as time goes on, but I've got at least four-and-a-half more weeks here on the beach in Cancun, so I'll be sure to report on my progress, if for nothing else than entertainment value.

And by the way, if any of you are wondering how the hell a zen cowgirl gets to spend five weeks on the beach in Mexico during the recession, drop me a line. I'd love to chat about it, swap stories, share secrets ... the whole nine yards.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Horse Feed and Supplements: Trusting Native Instinct

Have you ever been surprised at how your horse instinctively knows what to eat and what not to eat? I have. I've done a lot of research and study into what and how to feed my horses, and although I know a lot about horse feed, my horses know a lot more about what is healthiest for them.

Reyacita and Walker: Two Case Studies
My two younger horses, Reyacita and Walker, provide excellent case studies attesting to a horse's instinctive wisdom about horse feed and supplements. Both of these horses, brought home early this year, arrived with health issues that I immediately set about treating with supplements and nutrition. In both cases, the horses clearly "chose" which supplements and horse feeds they wanted, and rejected others.

For instance, when Walker, the quarter horse gelding I jokingly refer to as my "hot house flower," lost a lot of weight this summer due to detoxification, abscesses, and stomach ulcers, I immediately thought to put him on Eleviv, which had done wonders for me.

Eleviv is a new combination of herbs that has just come on the market that provides adrenal and kidney support. It is known for helping horses who have undergone some kind of trauma shift into a healing and relaxing mode (also called the parasympathetic nervous system). I thought it would be perfect for Walker.

Walker didn't think Eleviv was right for him at all. He spit out the little green capsules no matter how I tried to feed them. I offered them free choice from my hand ... forget it! I put it on his feed, so he carefully ate everything but the Eleviv. I tried syringing it into his mouth, which he bore, but spat out as soon as I was done. So I ended up giving no Eleviv to Walker.

However, Walker did indicate, by eating any sort of dried stalk or weed on the property, that he had a hankering for hay. I finally (duh!) got the message and started bringing him into a stall during the day for several flakes of hay. He regained almost his full weight within a few short weeks, something he could not seem to do on a full free-choice pasture. I was stunned at how much smarter he was than me when it came to his horse feed.

Reyacita's case was even more pronounced. She suffered from heaves, or COPD, so I started her on Eleviv as well. She ate the Eleviv willingly for about 3 weeks, after which her symptoms disappeared. About that time, she also started refusing to eat the Eleviv. She would leave the two capsules in her feed bucket every single time, while cleaning up every other morsel of feed. She refused to eat the Eleviv for a couple of months until the COPD symptoms returned. At that point, she gulped down the Eleviv herbal supplement again for two weeks. Once the symptoms cleared up again, she no longer wanted the herbs.

Horse Feed: Today Versus "Back Then"
When I think about how much my horses know about what they need nutritionally, I am horrified at the way I used to feed. Of course, back then I kept my horses in a general boarding facility rather than at home at liberty in pasture. Every horse got dished the same kind of feed: Equine Senior. Having no choice, my horses ate whatever they was given.

These days, I understand that my horses know more about what kind of horse feed works for them than I do, so I offer up what I think is right and let them choose. That system works much better, and there's much less chasing 'round the pasture to try to syringe some unwanted supplements down a horse's throat.

Do you have the same kinds of experiences with your horses or are my horses just smarter than the average bear?

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I am Awestruck by This Level of Horse Training

Have you seen the details of the Extreme Cowboy Association's events originated by Craig Cameron? This new challenge in horse training leaves me breathless and awestruck. I used to think my horses were pretty broke and that my horse training techniques were pretty solid ... until I saw the myriad details of this challenge. If you think ranch horse versatility is challenging, just wait until you look at this deal.

What's in an Extreme Cowboy Association Event?
The variety of tasks that this horse training challenge demands is incredible. Your horse has to be able to do everything from work regular "trail" obstacles (gates, bridges, poles, and backing around obstacles) to cowboy mounted shooting, penning and sorting cows, and jumping. If you thought ranch horse versatility was difficult, imagine having to do any number of these obstacles:

Archery shooting
Backing up and down hills

Bareback riding with one or two riders

Jumping barrels or running barrels

Sorting cows

Keyhole race

Leading your horse blindfolded or across water


Ponying another horse

Mounted shooting

Riding over a teeter totter

Standing up in the saddle and hitting a tennis ball

Ride through deep and shallow water

... and that's just a short section of the list! You can read the complete list here.

Extreme Cowboy Association Events: Not for Every Horse
Of course, this challenge isn't meant for every horse and rider. After all, it's called the Extreme Cowboy Association for a reason. However, even if you have no intention of competing in these events, the format provides a great roadmap and blueprint for horse training. If you can get your horse calm and broke enough to do even one-tenth of these obstacles, then your horse will be far more broke for any discipline you choose.

Many of the horse trainers I have ridden with have told me that it's not the most talented horse that usually wins at the show, but the most broke horse that wins. I agree. The most broke horse will be more consistent more often than the merely talented horse. The talented horse may have more ability, but often extreme talent is paired with an extreme personality, making the talented horse a challenge to ride.

In Pursuit of Inexpensive Horse Activities
As always, the blueprint of activities listed in the Extreme Cowboy Association event excites me because it gives me yet one more tool to add to my toolbox of inexpensive horse activities to pursue while the economy is floundering around. I don't know where your focus is this year for horse training, but my goal is to get my four horses as broke as possible so that they can easily enter any event, be it team penning and sorting, jumping, roping, cowboy mounted shooting, or plain old trail riding.

I've already gotten started with my two new activities: shooting and roping. Whether or not I decide to ever pursue cowboy mounted shooting or roping, I figure that any horse is going to be more broke, more useful, and more valuable if you can rope and shoot from his back.

I'm always looking for new ways of horse training that are inexpensive, fun, and productive. The quest continues ...

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Photo credit: Extreme Cowboy Association