Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hello November

October was a busy month. We finally got busy clearing out the dead trees in the back field. Not complete  but sure looks different. The horses seem to appreciate their more open space too. Not more pasture grass, but more space. We will always be lacking pasture grass. I've just come to accept that. 

Hubby and I spent our weekends and evenings on that project. October was nice to us, weather-wise and I truly appreciate that. Now, we're moving into colder temps and shorter days. The horses remind me of fuzzy bears with their soft winter coats. Time to put the heater in their water tank and lay the water hose down the hill so we don't have a frozen hose. Didn't have to fight mud which is always good. No more flies. Hay is in the building.

Today is election day, and yes, I voted. I wouldn't think to admonish anyone if they decide not to vote because it's my belief that's what's great about this country. We can CHOOSE to vote or not. 

Today is also the day my beloved dad passed away last year. I had a tough emotional weekend which I was surprised by but I've learned grief over the loss of a loved one is not on a time table. Sometimes it creeps up when you thought you'd cried all the tears you possibly could. Even through an extended illness, you are never really ready for the end. But, I know my dad wouldn't want me to dwell. He's probably shaking his head at me now telling me to get on with my own life. That's just the way he was, not wanting anyone to worry about him. He was a good man, and a great dad as well as grandpa. My sons adored him. I'm so thankful they got to share their lives with him and he was able to enjoy them.

November is the month of giving thanks.Take a moment each day to be thankful for something in your life.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Asthmatic Cat....who knew?

Our eight year old cat, Buddy, was diagnosed with asthma last winter. It was the first time I'd ever heard of cat asthma.

At first the depo-medrol (steroid) injections were working but instead of every 2-4 months the time between has gotten closer. I took him to the vet for his latest injection recently, which was a little over a month since the last one.The rides to the vet, which are thirty minutes in length, are hard on him. He cries the entire drive. The injection doesn't seem to have taken very well this time around.The vet said the injections are probably the best treatment for Buddy.

I have researched cat asthma online. There are similar treatments to those that humans use such as oxygen and inhalers. The vet and I talked about these treatments early on. I don't know about other people and their cats, but I know, any cat I've ever had I could never have used an inhaler on them or put an oxygen mask over their little faces. When I was reading these articles online all I could think was "Get real!"  I guess they worked for the people who wrote the articles but there is no way they would work for Buddy. He's a loving cat, but come on, he is a cat! They don't sit still for taking a pill let alone attempting an inhaler into their mouth or an oxygen mask over their nose and mouth.One website posted pictures of a cat with an oxygen mask. My thought was, either that cat is very old or sedated. 

Buddy was found in a box, with his four litter mates, on the steps of our church back in 2002. My oldest son and his then girlfriend (now wife) found the kittens and brought them home. The kittens were just a handful. Single handful. They were so tiny their eyes weren't even open. We took it upon ourselves to try to save them by hand-feeding them, cleaning them and seeing if we could save the lot. They grew and thrived, except for Buddy. He was the sickliest one. He had goo in his eyes that always had to be cleaned. He was small and skinny. Didn't seem to be putting on weight. My husband and oldest son took it upon themselves to give Buddy the extra care he needed. When the other kittens were big enough for homes, we found homes for three of them. We kept Jinxy and Buddy. They were almost identically marked gray and white, though Jinxy had rabbit-like fur, extremely soft and fine. Buddy grew and thrived. 

Buddy and Jinxy were outdoor cats at first. We live on a small farm so plenty of room to roam around the house, in the barn, up in the woods. They stayed in the barn during the winter and I fixed them special area for sleeping with blankets to cuddle into. A couple of years ago, Jinxy died from an undiagnosed problem. We were never sure. When I took her to the vet and left her for observation, she didn't survive the night. I always felt bad about that because I wasn't with her. She was my little friend out of the two. Buddy always seemed to bond with the guys in my family. I think because my husband and sons were the ones who cared for him and bonded with him when he was a baby since he was the sickly one.

After Jinxy died I started inviting Buddy inside when the weather turned cold. He and Jinxy had always cuddled up together. So, that's how Buddy became an indoor/outdoor cat. These days he stays inside at night, goes out in the mornings for a while, comes back inside, and depending on the weather may stay out most of the day.

When the asthma diagnosis came I told the vet I wouldn't keep Buddy inside because it wasn't his life. He enjoys laying on the deck on a sunny day, stalking in the weeds, hiding in the tall grass,and basically just living. I wouldn't take that away from him when he's eight years old. The vet told me he actually sees more asthma in indoor cats due to their cat litter so outside would probably not be a problem. No more a problem than for a person with asthma.

So, my dilemma is what's next?. Buddy still goes outside. Sometimes he seems fine, sometimes I can tell his breathing is bothering him. He is congested but not enough where he doesn't try to go outside or he just lays. I'm nagged by the fact that I feel I should be doing something for him but my vet has said the injections are the quickest for relief and if they don't work, the pills probably wouldn't either.

I'm not sure what to do at this point especially since the steroid doesn't seem to be working. The vet has mentioned x-rays but then decided against it when Buddy's temp was normal. I've always appreciated this vet because he's common sense when it comes to treatments.

Right now, Buddy is still eating well, drinking water, and keeping weight but I have no idea how long that will last. Actually, the vet sort of gives me the impression, this is the best we can do without going overboard and possibly making life more miserable for Buddy. My way of thinking, as long as he seems comfortable and wants to carry on his usual daily activities, let him "be". But, there's still part of me that says, "isn't there more I can do?" I suppose that's how we all feel about the animals we care for when it seems there should be more we can do, but must realize, sometimes, there just isn't.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Fall has always been my favorite time of year. Here in my neck of the woods we are graced with the beauty of changing leaves blanketing the hillsides. The landscape will be breathtaking in about a week with yellows, reds, and oranges. The hills will look like God is laying down Nature's quilt for the coming winter. Even with the extended September dry spell, I think the rain showers of the past week will bring on good color.

Then there is the mood of our animals.All of them seem more high spirited this time of year. The horses running, bucking and generally feeling good. My husband cringes as they run around the field tearing up the turf.I enjoy watching them and don't really care. I understand the philosophy behind "saving the grass roots" but appreciate the beauty of equine play more.The two dogs seem more energized as they take off up into the hills behind our house. Our hills and forest acreage provide plenty of room to roam.

October has challenged me through the years with family sicknesses, injuries, surgeries, and last year my dad entered the hospital for the last time the last weekend of October. My grandparents passed way at the end of October in '66 while I was in the hospital with pneumonia.I was only five. My oldest son had to have serious surgery the last weekend of October back in '97. My youngest had surgery the last weekend of October back in '08. I had my first biopsy for thyroid cancer in October '08. Odd how certain things pop up for me in October.Regardless of these seemingly bad omens for October, I have still always admired the beauty that comes this month, if only fleeting, until the leaves have all fallen.

As I spread hay out in the back field for the horses this morning I noticed the running hoofprints in the mud. I had to laugh because it was obvious someone had been kicking up his heels in honor of October!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What's their worth?

What's their worth?

That question was posed to me recently when I applied for an equipment loan. I'd been thinking about a Utility Vehicle for our little farm for about a year. As with most people, the time has to be right to make the purchase.Paid off the tractor at the beginning of the month and immediately,as fate usually works, found a sweet UV for sale.So, back to the Farm Credit Service to start another loan.

Amid all the questions about the things we owned and or owed on etc, the one question that stumped me immediately came when I was asked about my horses.They're still considered livestock for farm loan purposes. 

What's their worth? 

My mind went blank. I shrugged and stammered, I don't know. The loan officer waited. It shouldn't have been hard to answer. How much did you pay for them? Well, that doesn't quite figure into the total worth, was silently whirling in my mind, but I had to come up with something. So, I gave the amount I paid for them six years ago. 

This got me to thinking about what my horses are worth to me. As far as monetary worth, there's really no compensation. I don't use my horses for anything that brings in an income. No breeding. No showing. They are just mine. I feed them,take care of them,ride them, worry about them, which goes way beyond their net worth. As with most "pleasure" horse owners, you put more into them than you can ever recover.

When the question was posed to me I hadn't considered it. I know what they're worth to me but I really don't know what they're worth to the bank! I guess it doesn't really matter in the long run but I was amused that this simple question had me stumped for a few, uncomfortable moments.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Weather Related

Lately I've been asking myself-When did WEATHER become such an important part of my life? I've always been interested in weather patterns and how weather affects most everything we do. It can ruin the best laid plans. It can make a day feel wonderful. The answer, in my particular case, is six years ago. Yep. Six years ago when I bought these two horses of mine. 

These days, weather is at the top of my list of aggravations in my horse-life. Maybe I take things too seriously. Been trying to just roll with it. Some days are easier than others. Those days are when the sun is shining and the daytime temps are hovering around 70 degrees. Yeah, that's about perfect for me. Haven't seen many of those in quite some time. I think April was the last time this year. After April, seems like the weather conspired against me with storms, rain, more storms... Yeah, I think I take the weather a little too personally.

This week is our third week in a string of Heat Advisories and Warnings for our county. Heat index at 100-110, so they're reporting. In Southern Ohio, we don't just get hot, we get hot and humid. I am not a tropical kind of gal at all. I don't think I ever was but the older I get, the more I want my weather moderately pleasant as often as possible.

The horses are being annoyed by horseflies. Try as I might, there just isn't enough fly spray to do the job when they get hot and sweaty. I am an unbeliever of the label that says "lasts 7-14 days". I'm wondering if they're talking about stalled horses because that's the only way it would make sense to me. You can't stop your pastured pony from rolling in the dirt unless you keep him stalled and that's not how I keep my guys. I spread my Fly Predators once a month and that is a definite improvement on the black flies. But those big, fat, ugly, horseflies...Man, I HATE them!!!

I find myself these days monitoring the local weather radars when bad weather has been forecast. What's the deal with that? Not like I can change it. I guess part of me just thinks I can be more alert for the "what ifs". Right.

Well, the night the tree fell on the fence and Spirit ended up with a sliced leg, there was no wind, there was no rain, there was no weather at all. It was a quiet, hot evening. Trees have a way of just letting go sometimes.

I find having horses I am particularly attuned to what's happening with the weather, even more so than I was before I had horses. Then my thoughts go to the fact that 20 something years ago, we only had The Weather Channel, local news weather, and the radio for our weather news. 

Sometimes more information can become an obsession. Wonder if there's a support group for this? Seriously. Because I'm thinking I'm way too wrapped up in what the weather's going to be rather than just dealing with it as it comes every morning.

Sure am looking forward to next week...they say we're suppose to get down into the mid-80's.

Monday, August 9, 2010

When it's your horse, it's a different story...

Honestly, I think I'm adding July to my least favorite month list, though January is still on top. Last year we dealt with a flash flood and illnesses; mine, my husband and my dad. This year, I just couldn't believe the luck July threw at me yet again!

Three weeks ago, on a quiet Sunday evening, I had the misfortune of dealing with a serious horse injury. I have been more than fortunate for the 6 years I've had my guys. A couple bouts of mild colic. A few minor scrapes and bites, mostly on Spirit. Bo tends to be a tad too bossy. But other than that, nothing I deemed serious enough I couldn't handle.

I worked at a riding stable for 2 1/2 years and dealt with many horse injuries and problems in that time. Funny thing though, when it's your own horse, it's a whole different ball game!

Sunday evening, Hubby and I had fed the horses around dusk. It was a quiet evening. Nice actually, if not sultry for Southern Ohio. About thirty minutes later, as I was cooling down in the house I heard our dogs barking. That isn't so odd, they bark alot. We live out in a rural area. However, this barking is what I term "horse" barking. Lucy, our hound, has a certain bark she uses when alerting to the horses. She often barks like that when the horses are rolling in the dirt or playing around at the water trough. I opened the back door to check and was surprised to see Bo and Spirit roaming on our back hill behind our house. I figured I'd forgotten to close a gate. 

First things first, I needed to get both horses back into the corral and stall area. They'd already been out in the front field grazing earlier in the evening so I figured the front wasn't going to be quite as appealing as if they hadn't been out there. So, I grabbed their grain buckets and put a handful of grain in each one to get them inside. Never once looking over the horses to see if they were OK, because, I thought I'd left a gate open.

I ran out to the suspected gate, but it was latched. I didn't want to run all the way up on the hill or out into the back field to check the fence line, but did close the big gate to that field. Then went back  to the house to inform Hubby of my suspicions that there was probably a tree down.

It was dark now. So I turned on the stall light where the horses had been eating the grain and was stunned by the sight of a pool of blood where Spirit stood. My stomach flip flopped. I have to say I panicked big time. I went into the stall to find out where all the blood had come from and in the meantime, Hubby had gone to check the fence line.

Spirit had a  4"X 6" laceration on his back leg, right below his elbow bend, on the hock. I didn't see pumping blood, only blood from the wound but that was bad enough. My mind raced back to the time one of our horses at the stable had gotten into a barb wire fence and tore her leg in a similar area but tore the artery. Talk about a mess! She did survive by the way though the injury was very slow to heal as I've since learned, these types of leg injuries can be. I didn't observe any bone and he was still able to walk though I was thinking shock might set in if I wasn't careful.

I immediately got my head together and with Hubby's help,started with first aid to the wound as best I could. I got it cleaned, and wrapped enough to settle myself down. But  was concerned about Spirit's shock factor. He's a very sensitive horse. He was very hot. Since he still seemed able to walk, we walked a while. I checked the bandage and didn't see major bleed through. When Spirit seemed calm enough, I walked him to the front field to be with Bo. My thoughts, Spirit would be better off walking at his own pace through the night, keeping his circulation going, than standing in a stall. I checked on him hourly, needless to say a sleepless night for me. Besides, Spirit's not the type of horse to take inactivity well.

We don't use barb wire we have horse fencing. Hubby found a solid tree had fallen, bending and breaking a section of fence down to the ground with just enough room for the horses to walk over and out. The odd part of this, in my mind, the horses escaped on the forest and creek ravine side of the fence line. I would not have expected that. But I have a scenario in mind of how it happened and how Spirit ended up the one with the injury. Bo had no marks on him, no scratches, nothing.

I believe the tree fell after we went in the house. At first the horses were probably scared, but then Spirit's curiosity got the best of him so he went to investigate. After he figured it was OK to snoop around, he probably tested the waters over the fence, probably half over and half back. Then, Bo joins the investigation but pushes Spirit, which he often does, and Spirit panicked, then caught his back leg on the sharp ends of the broken fence as he tried to hurriedly get out of Bo's way. Bo, on the other hand, was able to gently walk over the broken fence, plus, he's taller.

Well, it took Hubby three days to fix that fence. We tried to fix it that night but it was just too mangled. I was possibly overly concerned about Spirit's wound and called a local equine vet (we have only one, the other vets are hard get for farm calls) who informed me if it wasn't an emergency, the horse wasn't bleeding out, he couldn't stop by until Tuesday morning. Wonderful.

In the meantime I watched for leg swelling which fortunately didn't occur. I learned how to wrap a Figure-of-Eight leg wrap from my horse first aid book. When the vet arrived that Tuesday morning, he looked at the wound and informed me he'd seen worse. Nice to know. The vet did his own cleaning and wrapping. He didn't think antibiotics were needed but told me to wash with Betadine scrub and re-wrap every three days, for three rounds, then dry bandage every two days for the following fourteen days. Spirit already had his tetanus so that wasn't needed either.

I've learned, it's not an easy task to keep a leg wrap on a horse that is pastured. I'm pretty sure after the first week, Spirit had learned to pull the wrap down. Unless I used a whole roll of Vet Wrap, I was wrapping that part of his leg daily. Keep it bandaged three days, sure! I was lucky to get twenty four hours most days. 

Spirit was a gem through it all, I'll give him that. He's not one to stand still long, he's got to move but when I was working on his leg, he stood perfect! Until last Friday. I guess it was by then, and almost three weeks of all the wrapping, he decided he was done and enough was enough. I got a little irritated with him and finally decided maybe he knew better this time. The vet had told me that eventually air drying would be my friend for this wound. I sprayed some Wound Kote on it, right or wrong, and it's healing fine. He's walking fine. So, in my opinion, we won this one.

I don't have the luxury of depending on a vet to come out when I call. It's just not something that private horse owners in my area can depend on. Maybe it's like that everywhere. But, I managed,and we all got through it. At some point in horse ownership, you will have to deal with something. That's just the way it is. Try to be as prepared as possible, but more than likely it will be something you've probably not dealt with in the past and it'll happen on a hot sultry or freezing cold night. Just the way it seems to work.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What's in a name?

How much time do you spend naming your horse? Do you take time to see what his/her character might be? Do you keep the name your horse came with? Did you change your horse's name?

I take naming very seriously. I took it seriously with my sons so it only seems logical I would take the same consideration when naming my horses. Not equating my wonderful sons to my horses, but you get the drift.

When I first met my two horses, they already had names. I didn't like one, and could live with the other. I changed Overdue to Bo, and left Spirit, as Spirit. Six years later, I'm kind of rethinking my thinking on that move, and have wished I'd called him Sunny, because he has a sunny disposition, but it is what it is and he knows his name now.

Some people don't change names. I've read they believe it will confuse the horse. Really?

I was amazed that Bo's first name was Overdue. The only story I recall on how he got that name, he was overdue when he was due to be born. Hubby wanted me to keep the name Overdue. His reasoning, I had been overdue for a horse of my own for many; many years. But, the name just didn't please me. Didn't fit right. I'd had in my mind that I would name my first horse Bo and that came from the movie TrueGrit, where John Wayne's horse, in the movie, was named Beau. In reality, Beau was Wayne's favorite movie horse, Dollar. The name Beau had stuck with me for decades, though I decided to spell it Bo. I guess Overdue didn't have a chance, his name was changed.

Spirit's official name is Spirit of Stuntman. His daddy is a registered SSH/TW, Stuntman. The owners said they named him Spirit because he was, well...yeah..Spirited. That he is! 

I had a farrier suggest, a few years ago, that maybe I should change Spirit's name. She was having trouble with him. He was a little more spirited than she liked to deal with.......which is not very spirited at all. He was also young and learning. I have another farrier who could care less how spirited Spirit is and besides that, Spirit is grown up now, and well mannered. But, I was thinking the other day, maybe I should have gone with Sunny. He really does fit that name. If he were a human, he'd be the one everyone wanted to be around because he seems happy all the time. Sure, a little sensitive too, but you can overlook that quality because he's so darn cute!

Names are important and they can have meaning to the personality of the horse. I remember a few names of the horses I worked with and their names often painted their picture before people even knew them. Sometimes, the names were deceiving.

Speckles-An adorable POA-Appy mix. He was barely 14 H tall. You couldn't let that name fool you. He could be an ornery little guy. Opened gates for one thing. Stepped on feet, which became obvious after a while this was on purpose. But, the name Speckles is benign so people didn't expect trouble out of him.

Bubbles-Another pony. He had the right name for his personality, but he was another ornery little guy. Couldn't catch him sometimes. He ran up the hill, then turned around and seemed to laugh at us.

Flow- A beautiful, big, black Tennessee Walker mare. Such a wonderfully gentle personality. She was renamed by a barn staff member when she came to the ranch. I never found out what her name was before we got her. She had a gorgeous flow to her gait and when you rode her, you felt like you were flowing....

Ginger-One of my favorite horses at the ranch. I would have renamed her only because I felt Ginger wasn't right for her. She came to the ranch with her buddy, now get this, Gilligan. Yep. Someone had named them Gilligan and Ginger. Gilligan kept his name too and that's another one I would have changed. I mean, he was a gorgeous all black Walker with a little white star on his forehead. He had some training issues we were still working on before I left the ranch. I think I'd have issues with a name like Gilligan for my horse! Ginger was a sorrel nicely built Quarter Horse, and great trail ride, yes, reddish like the Ginger character on Gilligan's Island. 

Names are labels sometimes, no getting around that. So it's an individual decision on whether to change a horse's name or not. But, if you're the first one to name a horse who's never been named, be kind.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The 3 H's

Well, well, well, it IS July here in Southern Ohio and the three H's are with us: Hazy. Hot. Humid. July with a heat wave. Temps soaring upwards of 95 to 100F. Wonderful. There is sarcasm in that wonderful. I am not a hot weather kind of gal these days. Give me the cool of September through October all year long and I'd be happy!

The past couple of days I have brought the boys in around 2pm. Given them their ration of hay cubes and as they ate, sponged their legs with cool water. I'm sure they'll be playing in their water tank in another hour.

At least, as a respite from the heat of the day, this evening, I'll be able to move them out into the grass of their temporary grazing fields.

Weather. It's always a factor in our lives. I'm sure I think about it way too much and my horses could care less. They have their fan. They have a shady rest area. Wish I could accept things as simply as they do!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

This will be my first Father's Day without my dad. I had him with me for 48 years of my life and I treasure every one of them.

I've always liked this quote: "Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a DAD."  So true, and this was my dad, all the way through.

I was his only daughter, his only child. We had a special bond. I finally figured out recently what that was and it was unconditional love. He was, and always will be, my hero in my eyes. I feel blessed to have had such a wonderful Dad.

So, on this special day for many people, if you have a special Dad or Gran-dad in your life, tell them how much they mean to you.

This is the first year in my adult life I have not made a rhubarb pie for my dad on Father's Day. His mother made him rhubarb pies when he was a kid and even into his adulthood. They were his favorite. I know my rhubarb pies could not have been as good as hers, but Dad always told me they were delicious. I doubt he would have told me they were awful, even if they had been.

I miss you Dad. You are forever in my heart! 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Vaccines, the necessary evil

Here I am, a month past my last post. Haven't been doing very good at this blog thing. 

Update: Haven't accomplished much with the horses, again. In one word-RAIN. Another word-FLOODING, One more-THUNDERSTORMS

While I realize folks here in the midsection of the US have suffered through much worse than we have locally, I feel I am forever at the mercy of WEATHER. 

Yesterday was the first day in a week we hadn't experienced heavy rain and/or storms of some kind. May, and now June, have been very wet. We are now in a heat wave of over 90 degrees each day. 

I am past the age of enjoying hot days out in the sun. So, my next move must be, to try to get back with my horses in the early mornings as long as we get a dry spell.

I do not have a covered arena. I have two open fields. I have a run-in stall area, nice, but  mud is a major issue during times like these. Thus, my  two horses have once again, basically, become pasture ponies. I'm sure they're happy with that situation, though a bit bored. They are getting grazing time since the front field is open. Takes some of the boredom out of they're system for a few hours a day. 

Yesterday I gave my two guys their yearly vaccinations. I have been using the Fluvac Innovator 5 combo. When I administer the injections I always keep an eye on the horses for any swelling for the first hour. In the past I haven't had any problems but I always think, maybe this time. No, they managed fine by the time I fed them later in the evening.

Today, however, I'm seeing the typical lethargy I notice every year after I've given my horses their injections. So, when I see them in this state for the next twenty-four hours, I can't help but wonder- Are the vaccines we give all our animals simply a necessary evil for the duration of twenty four hours of misery for them? Or, would they survive if we didn't vaccinate? 

Of course, I realize, they don't really know they're miserable. They don't really understand what's going on. But I know I see the change in them, and I know the vaccines are what is affecting them. I've seen it every year.

I know, I know, the vaccines are arguably the best protection for them, but the older I get the less and less I like having things injected or added to my own body. I always have faith I'm doing the right thing for my horses, and other animals, but I know the vaccines definitely affect my guys for about twenty-four hours. That period of time is enough for something to go haywire.

Does anyone else see this in their horses?  If you have a big event coming up, do you vaccinate earlier so it doesn't interfere with the event?

I'm running a little late this year on vaccinations. Buddy, our cat, has developed cat asthma which is requiring steroid injections every couple of months. I'm also wondering about that. But about 24 hours after Buddy gets the injection, he is no longer coughing. I've read that at his age, he's eight, the shots could bring on diabetes. Great, another diabetic in the house! I'm a Type 1 myself. Sure wouldn't relish the idea of giving my cat an insulin injection. Have enough trouble getting the Frontline Plus on him monthly. Which brings to mind yet another question...What about all this flea and tick repellent we put on our animals?

Well, at any rate, horse vaccinations are done for the year. I'll just have to keep an eye on them for a couple of days. I doubt they'll have any problem with the rest and relaxation part since that's pretty much their daily activities right now anyway.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gotta get back up and start all over....

 It's been a rough month, May. Rain. Storms. Floods. Mud. Found this quote the other day....

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do. - Confucius 

Seems quite appropriate at the moment.

Friday, April 30, 2010

On the Road Again

OK, not exactly a dirt road, or a paved road, but the road to finally, yes, finally, devoting the days, weeks and months ahead to my two wonderful guys. They've been so patient! 

My Spotted Saddle Horses, Bo and Spirit, have welcomed my short evening training sessions the past two weeks. They're both responding beautifully. I'm especially proud of Spirit. He no longer loses concentration with simple exercises and is completely willing to attempt anything I've given him to do.

The weather has finally "Springed" up and the ground has dried out. My health issues are, for the most part, a sidebar. Other issues that took up my emotions, and my mental strength over the past two years, have resolved themselves. Time for my guys to get what they deserve, a dedicated owner and partner.

I started back with simple groundwork activities a couple of weeks ago. All in-hand. Next week, I'm moving up to saddling. Then, in a couple of weeks after that, we'll get to the riding. I'm not in a hurry. 

My good friend and I have decided we'll get together every couple of weeks at either her place, or mine, to work with our horses. She lives about thirty minutes away, has other commitments in her life but wanted to get motivated with her three horses too. She has two seasoned Quarter Horses, and a three year old she is training. Like me with my guys, she sort of lost track of time in the three year old's training. Bought him when he was eighteen months old, a registered Quarter Horse out of some line. I'm not into breeding lines so that just goes right over my head. My strong suit, in my humble opinion, is horse behavior. 

So anyway, we're checking up on each other's progress with our equine students and then getting together every couple of weeks. She is an accomplished rider having shown in Western Pleasure in the past. I can learn a lot from her! This little arrangement gives us both motivation and something to work toward. 

Today I released my guys out into the front field. It's the green field. I shut it off around December and then allow them back in, for a few hours a day, on May 1. We're having such a gorgeous day I opened the gate and let them out one day early. They were very mannerly about the whole event, which surprised me. But then, Spirit isn't the wild child he was a few years ago. They both calmly walked out and began munching away. Another surprise, when I walked out two hours later to round them up, thinking I would have a hard time with the lush green grass being more attractive than the alflafa hay cubes I was going to use as a lure, they were quietly standing in their run-in shelter. They really made it easy for me today!

Short term goal, saddle 'em and put some hours on them around our place. Long term goal, Hubby and I taking our two over to the state park to trail ride. Oh, and I do need a horse trailer too, which I've been looking into.

So, wish me luck and check back in as I finally get some things going on. It's been a long time coming!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Book Review: Laura Crum's Going, Gone

Going, Gone-A Gail McCarthy Mystery by Laura Crum

Gail McCarthy, veterinarian, horsewoman, also wife and mother, is settling into a new direction in her life with husband Blue and young son Mac. Life is good.

A much anticipated camping trip, to an old boyfriend's ranch, begins quietly and without complication until Gail arrives at Lonny's ranch.Gail discovers Lonny has been arrested for a double murder. Gail being the good, loyal friend she is, doesn't believe Lonny could kill anyone and is determined to find the truth.

Going, Gone is an engaging mystery that keeps you guessing until the last ride. Readers also get a glimpse of Gail's new life as she tries to settle down with Blue and Mac. Her thoughts and how her priorities have changed since raising her young son. As happens in real life, circumstances intervene.

Gail's animals, especially her horses, are a big part of her life, something horse lovers and animals lovers can all relate to. The horse scenes are appealing, endearing, realistic and believable without getting into cutesy characterizations. Laura Crum writes with an abundance of realism and sensitivity. The scene descriptions of the landscapes vivid. You are moving along in the story with Gail, Blue and Mac.

Great read, Quick read and all in a tidy package. If you enjoyed Laura's earlier titles you won't be disappointed with Going, Gone.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Absolutely Perfect Birthday!

Saturday was my 49th birthday. I look at that number and say, whoa! How'd that sneak up on me?  But then I realize, it took all those years to have the perfect day I enjoyed Saturday.

The weather was gorgeous. After all the winter storms of February, the past weekend was our reward for persevering through the bad winter weather. Bright sunshine and clear blue skies!

Hubby and I simply enjoyed our day. We had a few things we attended to in the morning including attending a gun & knife show and then stopping by a jewelery store to see about getting my original engagement ring re-set. I'd been meaning to do the ring thing for a long time. I told him that's what I wanted for my birthday this year. I'll either be getting a ring close to what I had or, depending on the estimate, I may have my tiny 1/5 c. diamond mounted in the middle of two emeralds. The diamond in my engagement ring has always had a special sparkle but the setting is showing it's aged wear and tear.

When we got home, I spent time with my horses. They enjoyed the attention and the brushing.

Later in the day, and during the evening, #1 son and his wife, as well as #2 son and his girlfriend, stopped in. They brought gifts, which I will always cherish in my memory, bright yellow tulips and a handmade button flower pin. We simply enjoyed the evening with good pizza (my choice) and good talk.

I told Hubby yesterday, it was probably the best birthday, and day, I'd enjoyed in a very long time. I think I smiled and laughed all day!

Saturday and just "being" with those I love was the best gift of all!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Debate

Since I was a little girl, I have been in awe of orcas. I don't like calling them killer whales. I was interested in them before they were chic. When I was young, I saw nothing wrong with Sea World having orcas in their shows. Children and young adults, in the late 70's and early 80's, were much more innocent than the children and young adults of today. Today, information is at fingertips.Truth often crushes the rose colored glasses.

The horrible incident at Sea World, Orlando, last week, touched me. Made me think again about using wild animals in shows, for human entertainment. Educational? I can't quite buy that one anymore, not at the price of human lives, and the lives of the animals.

What are we really doing? Conservation? I don't think so. I can't buy that argument anymore either.

Upon hearing about the tragedy, I was sad for Dawn, but I was also sad for Tilikum. I don't fault either one. It was a tragic accident no matter how you try to turn it. I have personally decided orcas should not be used in shows for the entertainment of humans. I know it won't end, I'm a realist. 

I have been relieved at Sea World's decision to keep Tilikum, though I realize that decision comes down to dollars, not necessarily sense. He's their prize stud having produced thirteen offspring making his services highly valuable. He's been in captivity for something like 25 years. What else are they going to do with him? Sea World is sort of between a rock and a hard place with this one.

As when working around your own horses, you learn their behaviors.You learn to pay attention. You learn what bugs them and what they don't ever pay attention to. When working with horses, you learn to know their body language and what kind of mood they're in. I personally don't believe there is such a thing as a bombproof horse. There is a button for every horse. Something that will cause him to surprise you when you least expect it. It's really inevitable. It's just the way they're programmed. It's not about being on edge around them, it's about being observant. 

Unfortunately, we're human, we're emotional, and we have a tendency to probably relax when we trust. I don't believe Dawn did anything wrong, but then I wasn't there. I'm only forming an opinion on the interviews I've seen and the articles I've read about the incident. I believe, it was one moment in time, when Dawn trusted and let her guard down. 

Sure, orcas are different from horses. Orcas are predators. They have the ability to kill with a giant mouth, strong jaw and lots of sharp teeth. On the other side of the coin, how many people are killed by horses every year?  And what is the main reason? I don't have statistics, but I'm thinking, it just happens.

As humans, we're the ones who choose to interact with animals, both wild and domestic. We're the ones responsible for most outcomes, good and bad. But sometimes, it just happens.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Enthusiasm Curbed

Funny how The Universe works sometimes.

Last weekend I was at one of those low ebbs of the winter months. I was cleaning out the stall area. My two horses quietly munching on their evening hay in the corral area just a few feet away. Hubby bustling around picking up my slack on the evening chores.

I looked around the area, discouraged by the mud, snow, stuff in the stall and asked out loud "What am I doing all this for?"  I had a meltdown.

I told Hubby I'd made a mistake with the horses. I should have never bought them. I wasn't spending enough time with them. Last year alone I can count on one hand, probably, how many times I saddled them, let alone actually rode Bo. They were in their prime and I wasn't. On and on I blubbered.

Hubby, being the understanding sort he is, listened. Then, when I was done, he said simply, as is his way, "You know you would be unhappy if they went somewhere else. You probably wouldn't forgive yourself either." 

I knew he was right, but I've been feeling, over the past couple of years, with all my health issues and then my parents' health issues, I just haven't had the energy to spend quality time with the horses. I feel like I'm letting the horses down, and my dream was more an illusion. 

Well, you know, we women tend to have these meltdowns once in a while.

Low and behold, the very next evening, my friend Lori called. I hadn't talked to her in months. She is my horse-friend. We bonded over horses about 6 years ago. We both worked at the riding stable as assistants. We were close to the same age-over 45, so, we had lots in common. You know sometimes when you meet someone and it's as if you've known them all you life? That's how our friendship feels.

So anyway, Lori had her down times in '09 too. We talked horses for over an hour. I told her how I'd been feeling, that my enthusiasm for my horses had curbed. She said she understood but now, we needed to get back in the saddle, so to speak. We made some plans involving horses for the coming year, and I could feel my enthusiasm return.

I told Lori she must have been picking up my vibes to have called at just the right time.

Funny how The Universe works at times.....

So, though my enthusiasm for the horse-life was curbed for about 48 hours, I can see the light again. I remember why I have my horses and what they mean to me. Sometimes, the Universe knows more about what we need than we do, we just need to listen.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Elmer Bandit Takes the Trail Home

I just read that Elmer Bandit, the 38 year old endurance horse, passed away on February 14. The decision to euthanize was made after Elmer was found, unable to get back to his feet, while out in his pasture. Attempts were made to get him up, blankets put over him to keep him warm, but as bad weather moved in, the decision must have become clear.

I followed Elmer's last years, reading various articles about him on The Horse Journal, so, felt I knew him. I admire his owner/rider Mary Anna for doing what they both loved, right up to the end. Elmer was one of the lucky ones. He had a mission in his life and he lived doing what he loved, with someone who cared about him, with him all the way. Mary Anna had often said Elmer would tell her when it was time to quit endurance events, but he actually never quit. They had cut back their rides in '09 but still managed to get in a few.

Elmer Bandit makes me think about older horses. These days, horses are living longer, often will into their thirties. People who own horses need to keep in their minds that they may be caring for a senior horse for many years. They should be dedicated to that issue and how they will choose to handle it.

My friend called me the other day. We hadn't talked in a long time. Our friendship began over horses. Lori told me she lost her old guy, Boy, just before Christmas. He was one of her first horses, bought when she got into horses over twenty-five years ago. Boy was in his late twenties.

Lori told me she noticed Boy had been acting odd that morning. He wasn't one to fidget but he kept walking, acting uncomfortable.So, she walked him from the field into his stall. Being the dedicated horse owner she is, she checked his vitals then called her vet. Unfortunately, before the vet had returned her call, Boy had fallen in his stall, seized, and quietly passed away. Lori was with him, as she had been all of his life. 

We all hope we can do that for those we love. Doesn't always work that way, but when it does, we feel blessed. Boy had a good life with Lori. Well taken care of, enjoyed as a riding partner, and nurtured. He was one of the lucky ones.

Another older horse in my memory is Koko. I only knew Koko for the three years I worked at the stable. She was one of the originals. Koko, even in her thirties, still enjoyed taking a child on her back and participating in classes on her good days. She passed away in the field where she'd lived for many years, surrounded by her herd buddies.

Whatever your view on end of life issues for yourself, or your horses, the main thing I keep with me is the responsibility of doing what is right. When the time comes, I hope I can make the right decision, though sometimes the decision is taken out of our hands. 

Happy trails Elmer Bandit, Boy and Koko! May you enjoy pastures of green lush grass and bright sunshiny days!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Winter Months

Unfortunately, for me, winter months mean everything slooowwwws down, especially me. 

I've noticed that by the time the middle of February rolls around, I am really at my lowest ebb. 

I realize March is coming, but that alone does not help my mood. 

I think Bo, my eleven year old Spotted Saddle Horse is the same way. Or, is it that he is picking up on my drab mood? Bo tends to get grumpy when it rains or the dreary days of winter continue with little sunshine. His face shows his mood. He actually looks grumpy! If he were human, he'd be frowning.

Now Spirit, my eight year old SSH, is completely opposite. If he were human, he would be one of those people, who makes people like me, look really bad. I mean, Spirit always seems happy. Nothing much bothers his mood. He's like my Hubby that way. 

I was thinking I really have nothing to complain about this winter, so far. We've been managing with only about four inches of snow, some icy roads, but no other problems. Nothing like the storms we had last year and definitely nothing like what they're getting East of us or the rain and mudslides out in California. This year, we are seeing a reprieve from really nasty weather troubles.

Looks like Bo and I will just have to look to our sunny buddies to get us through the rest of the winter.  Maybe their good moods will rub off on us.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Coyotes and Horses

Living in Southern Ohio, we have not been use to dealing with coyotes. That time has ended. Coyotes have now made their presence known in our Appalachian forests. 

Monday evening, around 5pm, I saw my first coyote, up close, running along our wood line, about 50 feet from my back door. It was being trailed by our two dogs, Maggie, a Blue Heeler, and Lucy, a Beagle/Hound mix. 

The coyote was actually beautiful as it ran, easily out-distancing the girls. They were far behind, but Lucy, being the hound she is, continued after the rogue canine, Maggie following along in support. Hubby and I were able to call the dogs back before they also disappeared over the hillside into our valley. 

My first thought was that my horses would be in danger if we have coyotes inhabiting our forest. We have 62 acres of timber, which has not been logged. Many of our neighbors have opted to have their properties logged, usually clear cut. We have one of the few properties with full timber growth. Ideal for the local wildlife. My next thought was to keep a firearm handy. Then, I decided, research before jumping to conclusions.

So, I took some time to read up on coyotes. I wanted to know what we might be up against. What I learned eased my mind, for the moment.

Coyotes are opportunists. They usually prey on smaller animals like rodents and rabbits, and smaller livestock like goats and sheep. Unfortunately, cats and smaller dogs fall into the category of smaller animals. 

The coyote I saw was definitely bigger than Maggie and Lucy. They are medium sized dogs, both weighing 50 pounds each. The coyote looked to be taller, longer and probably more like 75-90 lbs. 

Coyotes do not usually attack large, healthy, horses and cattle, from what I read. They usually avoid larger animals, even larger dogs. The other part of this, coyotes are smart and learn quickly. Working together, or in a pack, is often where the trouble comes in for livestock and animal/pet owners. Coyotes are known to bait their prey while the other one(s) come up behind and attack.

If anyone has personal experiences with coyotes, I'd be more than happy to hear about it. This is a new situation for me. I don't want to overreact to their presence yet when you see one coyote, and it is breeding season, there are bound to be more.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hello, February!

I am so happy to have made it through January with basically only to incidences. Much, much better than I endured this time last year. Last year, I had to have a thyroidectomy because of cancer cells being found. I had to go through RAI treatment. On top of the health problems, my dad was increasingly in poor health and Mother Nature threw us an ice storm, followed by a wind storm both causing power outages and other problems.

I am not a fan of the month of January. Period.

This year the second Monday of the month, #2 son hit a deer with his barely two week old car. The car was totaled by the insurance company. It was a gem of a used car too. A 2003 compact with only 25,000 miles on it.  He had bought it because he needed a small car for his long commute to his new job. A job that took him over a year and a half to land.The job is in another state but because his finances aren't the best right now, he opted to commute instead of trying to move closer.

The incident occurred second Monday of his new job. I received the phone call around 7:45am. He couldn't drive the car because the radiator was busted. I had to drive to where he was so we could get a wrecker. He's not sure what happened to the deer but he said he had no choice except to plow right through it. He said he rounded  the corner, driving a busy two lane highway, and there it was!  I was thankful he wasn't hurt an no one else was involved! It could have been much worse if the airbags had deployed. Evidently the deer hit just above the sensor. So there was the first incident that foretold maybe January wasn't going to be nice after all.

The rest of the month was actually quiet. That is, until Friday morning when I was awakened by the most violent headache I can remember. Needless to say, that day went downhill quick. Having other health problems (Type 1 diabetic, and thyroid thing) I got scared. I asked Hubby to stay home from work because I wasn't sure how things were going to develop. Fortunately, I was able to come out of it, though even today, my head is a little achy. Still haven't figured out what was going on. Didn't have a fever so  I guess it's not the flu. Whatever it was, it sure had me down for the count this last weekend of January.

All right, so now it's February. The days are actually getting longer! The sun is still giving light up until about 6:15pm. I'm sure February is going to be better!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Technology Eludes Me

At one time I felt I had a handle on the tech world, well, at least I could handle email and the internet. That was ten years ago. When I interviewed for the position of Library Branch Manager, back in 2001, the interviewers were interested in my email ability. They were pleased I could indeed handle email. Nothing more was ever asked about my tech abilities and as a branch manager, I really didn't find myself doing much more than internet and email. Thank goodness for their great IT department!

My husband is knowledgeable about computer tech stuff, although he'll tell you he's not THAT knowledgeable. Come on, Honey, you spent two years debugging software and setting up a computer system to integrate information! I guess he's just being modest about his capabilities. I, on the other hand, have not entered the 21st Century!  At least that's how I feel as I watched Steve Jobs' presentation of the new Apple iPad yesterday evening. Hubby likes to watch G4 sometimes. If you, or anyone in your household is a computer nerd, geek, whatever the title, you've probably heard or seen this network. I was stunned. I felt even more techno challenged. I use a pay-as-you-go cell phone and we still use a land line telephone in our rural home. Though, we do have satellite internet otherwise we'd be left to the mercy of dial up or driving miles to the library.

I think my problem with computer and electronic tech, at my age (48 soon to be 49), is the fact that I just don't care to keep up with the constant changes. I feel I'm from another time anyway. I'm pretty sure that's why I'm comfortable with my horses. They are of another time and those of us who keep horses in our lives, may often find their simplicity is what draws us to them. Even with all the gadgets one can buy for their horses, I find myself falling back on the good old simple stuff.

I had to buy a new land line phone. It's charging. I'm more than happy that it was very simple to set up. Living in a rural area, our cell phone range isn't good so we keep a land line. I read the other day that the land line phones will be obsolete in the next ten years. That's how I feel some days, obsolete! I can only imagine how folks in their 70's, and beyond, must feel in this brave new techno world!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Time for New Stuff

Time to get moving on some new things. It's been almost a month since I said good bye and good riddance to 2009 which is NOT going down as one of my better years, as a matter of fact, it's one of my worst. But 2009 is in the rear view now, and to celebrate or maybe motivate, I've changed up my profile picture, colors and just tried to spruce up a bit.

The handsome fella in my profile photo is my eleven year old Spotted Saddle Horse, Bo. He is of the "old" generation Tennessee Walker. Big, gorgeous head and a body to match. He can be moody, but then, so can I, needless to say, we understand each other...most of the time. 

January is rolling to an end and I am counting down the days. I am not a fan of the month. It is my least favorite. 

I realized the other day that many major upheavals in my life occurred during the month of January. Maybe it's just because my mood is dreary during this month, no matter what I do. I am definitely one of those people affected by SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Probably a good thing we didn't move to Alaska when we were considering it ten years ago. Yeah, don't think that would have been the best idea, for me anyway.

Fortunately, our path didn't move us that way.We're still here in Southern Ohio, the Foothills to the Smoky's and it's not so bad. We can pretty much depend on the change of the four seasons here and I like that. Don't get me wrong, Alaska, especially the Inside Passage, where we traveled back in '99, is gorgeous and breathtaking. People who live in Alaska year around are a gutsy bunch!

Now, I know January is not going to leave without a bang. It surprised us last year with the ice storm and wind storms during the very last days. Weather forecasts are calling for "significant" winter weather toward the weekend.

Here's three cheers to February coming in next week!  Won't be long until the crocus are popping through after that.