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!