4/07/19: Lame Brain Syndrome 

During about three hours for four weekday mornings, from around 8:30 to 11 or so I groom the Farm’s stallion, Menesson, which can take me 30 minutes, as I love going over his powerful body with a sort of massage/brushing, and tend to linger over it. Then I tack him up, ride and learn, cool him down, brush him again, get him back into his huge, buckled blanket and lead him back to his stall.  
I am never sore, physically tired, or nervous. Just supremely happy. 

Bryn is always near, watching the fun, or snoozing. She and Menesson enjoy watching each other while I work on technique, balance, natural aids, etc. and relish every minute with my beautiful Arabian friend.   

But, I suddenly realized I might have a big problem. Weekday mornings my teacher is busy with other Farm business, so I’d be responsible for saddling and bridling him. That is no problem.  There are always folks there I can ask to help me heave his heavy saddle up onto his back, and set it down gently. 

But. There were many saddles and bridles in the first tack room! Which two were his? Yeah, this is an odd question. But the reasons for asking it are- reasonable. 

After being broadsided by a truck that slammed into me at 55 mph in October of 2002, my brain’s ‘wiring’ has been jumbled substantially, causing oddities to manifest themselves now and then.  At first, I didn’t know my own family or any of my garden’s flowers. I had to relearn everything. It took a year or two. Gradually, over the last decade or so, other brain changes have revealed themselves. (One neurologist warned I might notice other odd puzzles ‘down the road.’) 
He was right. As time passed, I’ve unexpectedly found myself unable to differentiate individual objects when they are part of a group of the same sort. This phenomenon is extremely selective: it doesn’t appear when dealing with my car in huge mall parking lots, for example.    

The tack room holds many Western (and some English) saddles packed closely together. When presented with this total picture every day I’d skim the room generally as my teacher chose what she needed. I’d see a sea of saddles sometimes covered by saddle pads of different colors. No matter how many times the correct saddle was brought out I perceived just -a saddle, not THE saddle. Unwisely, I ignored these pictorial blurs, anticipating only the end result- to ride.  

I’d been so engrossed in learning how to clean and polish saddles, clean stalls, clean horses, and cram everything about how to be a decent rider into my head for another five hours a day with internet courses, plus The Farm’s excellent teachers- that I neglected to consider that a ‘blur’ might occur. 
I see only the Mane thing...   

It would have been much smarter to set aside time, just in case, to: 

- Memorize the relevant saddle’s position. (But alas, that sometimes changed.) 

- or, Photograph the salient particulars of the correct saddle- but only that one. Screening out the other saddles is a tricky business, though. And standing in the tack room, learning just one, is, well, peculiar for folks coming in and going out.  

The third choice always works.  

- Ask for help.  

While embarrassing, doing this without dithering moves me quicker toward my goal: to ride. But asking someone at the stable to pick out Menesson’s saddle, after eight months of my sitting on it, would certainly have elicited incredulous looks.  
Explanations would be long and awkward; eyebrows would remain in hairlines anyway.  
Heck, mine would. Quirks like this one are— one step beyond. 

So, I texted my teacher that same evening and briefly asked for saddle/bridle identifier clues, offering no details about why. She immediately texted me what I needed, including the relevant saddle’s decorative white stitching and location, and that it had a broken latigo keeper on its left side.  
Wouldn’t you know-- differentiating ‘left’ from ‘right’ is nearly impossible post-accident. So I left out ‘left,’ and simply looked for a broken latigo keeper (a two-inch wide, 4-inch long strip of leather with a rectangular opening where the cinch strap is tucked. (Its profile reminds me of a fat jar lid opener, only softer). 
THAT- plus the stitching details- did the trick. Poof. The black hole vanished. Menesson’s saddle will always be easy to spot. 
That’s the good news. Once the object is firmly identified, the hole is history. In fact, I’ll see ONLY that one saddle. 
Weird. But I’ll take what I can get.   

{I have a similar problem with individual faces. Post-accident, old friends, acquaintances and even neighbors I haven’t seen in a while have come through my secret garden and, seeing me, strike up a cheerful conversation. But I’ll often find myself at a loss to exactly place many of them, especially if previous contact hasn’t happened in the spot we’re in at the moment, but maybe out in the front garden, or downtown, or downstate... 
A few folks do sense, perhaps from my lost look (which comes and goes in a flash, just before my brain shuts down), that it would help to say their names and general location –“Hi! It’s Chloe Cadeedlehopper, from three doors down...” and then, I have her!} 

I gave up trying to locate Menesson’s bridle, though I’d put it on him more than once, and dealt with its various buckles, etc. There are countless bridles in there, many hanging together, which present as a spaghetti-jumble of strappy, looped, narrow, dark leather strips.  
It’s one thing for me to seek an object, but quite a different thing to SEE it. Bingo. 
Instant shutdown.  
A visual black hole opened.  
I ground my teeth. 
Fortunately, another teacher, Tom, merely smiled when I confessed I couldn’t pick it out, even with my teacher’s texted particulars, which I read out to him. He went straight to one that looked like all the others, plucked it from its hook and said, cheerfully, “This one should work just fine.” 
It did work, and I rode and learned for over an hour, feeling thrilled that I’d had the sense not to bridle-dither. When I speak up here, these problems disappear. 
Oh- and I’ve since studied the correct bridle carefully. I’m 98% sure I’ve got it nailed, too. 

Pound sand, lamebrain!

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