Thursday, May 23, 2013


I'm struggling right now with what to do riding-wise this summer.  As far as medical goals go I'm pretty set, I'm working full time in a great research lab with lots of opportunities for publications.  My PI is a little eccentric but aren't they all?  At least he's passionate. 

I'll be teaching therapeutic riding lessons again this summer and have been out at the farm quite a bit this week, working with some of the new horses we have making sure they're ready for classes.  Actually, today I went out to evaluate a potential new horse.  He was such a sweetheart, this cute little palomino quarter horse who was absolutely bomb-proof, but he has laminitis in both fronts.  Apparently his soundness comes and goes, unfortunately we really can't take anyone on that isn't 100% and ready to go.  As a non-profit with limited resources that's just the way it is.  It was a bummer though, his owner is a young girl about to go off to college in a neighboring state, and her parents won't care for her horse in her absence.  It's obvious these two love each other and the horse just follows her like a puppy.  On the other hand, it makes me a little upset - I feel like horses are life-long commitments and I have no idea how she's going to find a loving home for this horse of hers with obvious lameness problems.

My personal struggle has been in trying to figure out where/how to allocate my financial resources towards riding.  A wedding coming this August certainly has been stretching my already tiny med-student budget even more thin!  I want to make progress and become a better rider and I'm not sure what the best way to do that is. As much as I'd like to lease or half-lease a dressage-y horse this summer, I think it's probably best for me to designate all my spare funds for lessons.  I can at least be on a horse whenever I'd like at the therapeutic riding farm, but there my role as a rider is to gently reinforce cues, give the horses mental stimulation through trail rides and new exercises, and help keep them in shape.  We don't do much if any work on contact and I use the same cues we teach our students, which are not usually like the invisible refined cues of dressage.  It's not fair to our horses for me to try to sensitize them to tiny requests, and then ask them to ignore similar movements from students who are just leaning over to pick up a toy or asking for a Walk not trot!

Who knows, maybe my future horses is out there right now, maybe a little foal enjoying his first spring or a mare preparing for her first show.  I keep trying to think of this horse-less time in my life as preparing for my future horse wherever he/she is.  I want to be the best rider I can when that time (will it ever come??) comes. 

Friday, May 17, 2013


I don't really have words at the moment, it hasn't quite sunk in yet.  M1 year is over!
And now I rest. 

Summer fellowship starts on Monday, but NO MORE STUDYING (well, till next year)

(and ps, horse show was cancelled on Sunday.  disappointed, but gives us more time to get ready for the next one)

Friday, May 10, 2013

One Week!

Yep, just one week till I'm through with M1 year.  One week and a whole buttboatload of studying.  After my histology final this afternoon I was able to escape to the barn, and had a really great lesson on Luke. 
Not the most graceful of beasts (enjoying a pre-ride roll)
Toweling off after said roll.

We are getting better and better about moving forward off the leg, and the amount of sass and ear pinning has significantly improved.  Right now I'm working on not collapsing my hip angle during downward transitions, especially canter to trot, where things can get disorganized quickly if I don't keep it together on top.  If I get in his way he certainly lets me know about it. 
I've decided to just do Training Test 1 next week, I figured I had enough to memorize in the next seven days (and enough stress!). 
Ollie has had quite an excellent week.  Yesterday we saw ducks on our walk

And on Wednesday one of my classmate's dogs had a birthday and he got a piece of cake!

I had to stop and take a picture of this little cutie on my way home from the barn today, spring is the best time of year!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

In which I stare into microscopes for hours and realize I'll never be a pathologist

Microscopes are pretty neat and all, but this past week of prepping for my histology final (tomorrow afternoon, yay) has somewhat tempered my appreciation.  There are 127 slides in the slideboxes we were all given at the beginning of the semester.   Our task tomorrow will be to identify 40 items on new slides that depict the same tissues but in different slices or stains (can't make it too easy on the visual learners), we'll rotate through microscopes and have 75 seconds at each, at which point a buzzer will sound and you must move on to the next.  It could be like a fun game I guess, but it's not.
Like this, but sadly much bigger.
When I started studying histo it was absolutely mystifying.  Everything looked exactly the same, just a bunch of purple and pink blobs.  The trick is in recognizing patterns, and key features.  For example, the small intestine has three distinct regions which you can tell apart histologically; the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.  All of small intestine has simple columnar epithelium, which means the very outer layer of cells is sort of rectangular (best for absorption, makes sense right?), and all small intestine has big folds and dips (villi and crypts).  Now, to tell the regions apart:
 Duodenum: This one is the easiest, you see a bunch of Brunner's glands in the submucosa (the light purple little circles in the pink layer below all those folds) 

Ileum is next easiest to identify because of the large Peyer's patches (lymphoid tissue).  This is only tricky if you forget to search the entire length of the mucosa, because usually the patches are only on one side of the tissue. 

Finally, jejunum.  Actually I find this the trickiest, because of the Absence of any key identifying feature in the mucosa.  If you are sure you're in small intestine, you know it's jejunum by the absence of Peyer's patches or Brunner's glands.
This is stomach, to give you an idea of the similarities between tissue.
And here are some of my favorite histology slides.  They're quite pretty actually!   And perhaps more importantly, easy to tell apart - a key requisite for my love):
Peripheral nerve

Pineal gland.  Note the 'brand sand' (real term) on the lower left border.  I think it looks like a geode