Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving from our barn to yours!

 I'd like to thank everyone for your kind words and thoughts recently on our loss of Gunnar and Nate. Your heartfelt words and kindness were much appreciated.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Another Heartbreaking Goodbye

" Gunnar"

We had to say goodbye Wednesday night to my daughter’s dog Gunnar.  She found him December 30,2014 at the side of a busy road on her way home from work. It was nearly dark and he ran from the woods in front of her car. She stopped and scooped him up before he could get hurt, and went door to door, looking for his owner. Not finding anyone, she took him home and took care of him that night, and brought him to the vet the next morning. He was starving, his little tail was frostbitten, and he had a bump on his head and ribs.  She thought he might have been hit by a car.  After having him checked out at the vet clinic he spent a few days with the dog warden while they searched for his owners. It turns out that an entire litter of puppies had been dumped in the woods and found a week before, on Christmas Eve, but this little guy got away somehow and spent another freezing week alone in the woods. Somehow he survived on his own and escaped becoming dinner for the coyotes. The owners, notorious local dog abusers, were contacted and obviously didn't want him back. Gunnar was able to come home and be her dog after a brief stay with the dog warden.

As time progressed she found out he had a problem with his liver called a shunt. His blood supply was bypassing his liver instead of filtering through his liver properly and started to make him very sick. He wasn’t getting rid of the toxins in his body. She located a specialist in Manhattan and Gunnar had surgery that seemed to fix the problem. He began to grow again and put on weight, and seemed like a normal, happy, healthy young dog. When he outgrew the stent and coils that were blocking off his shunt, he had to go back in for another surgery and his liver problem was permanently fixed once he reached his adult weight.  He grew to about 100 pounds. Again, he seemed to be thriving, and even the vets were amazed with how well he was doing.

However, a few months ago he started having seizures and had to be put on medication to control them, with special consideration for his liver.  My daughter even took him to a canine neurologist looking for answers, but there really weren’t any.  It can be very hard to determine what causes seizures most of the time, and we could only treat them with a specific medication that wouldn't harm his liver. The medication seemed to work for a while, though he soon had occasional seizures again. His dose was increased as the seizures increased in frequency.  That didn’t seem to help and the seizures continued.  Last Saturday, he had one while he was over my house and it only lasted a few minutes. On this past rainy Tuesday, he went to work with my daughter and had a good day of visiting with his favorite people, playing with his toys, and helping with farm stuff when they got home. That night he suddenly began having nonstop seizures which didn't respond to his medication. We took him to his vet clinic as soon as possible, where they gave him IV phenobarbital, fluids, and Valium to keep him sedated. They took blood and all his liver and other tests came back perfect. They couldn't pinpoint the cause of the seizures.

Unfortunately, even with the heavy doses of IV meds, his seizures never stopped and his condition declined. His blood was no longer clotting and the seizures were constant. My daughter got a call at 9:00 p.m. Weds. night to come down and say her goodbyes to him. There was nothing more they could do for him and he wasn’t going to recover. We still don't really know what happened.

Gunnar is a Nordic name that means "brave fighter." And he certainly was that. He endured a lot in his short life. But despite it all, Gunnar was the sweetest dog we've ever known. He greeted everyone with a smile and a wagging tail. He loved everyone he met, and seemed to make new friends every day. Strangers would bring him toys and treats after meeting him. He stayed with the horses and watched over them, appointing himself guardian of the farm.  Some of our horses don’t care much for dogs but they all accepted him--letting him drink from their waterer, lay in their pasture and stalls, and even ruffling his fur with their noses, which he loved.  He would sleep in Nate's stall near the end when he was sick, as if he knew Nate needed a friend. My puppy Ginger and Gunnar were inseparable and played all day long whenever she was there, and then they'd both collapse together in a furry pile at the end of the day. Gunnar loved his stuffed lambies and was never far from one to cuddle or play with. He’s got them littered all over the farm with his other toys and all over the house. We will miss his dancing, tail-wagging greeting and smiling face whenever he saw us. Even if we were only gone for a few minutes, he was happy to see us when we came back. He was a dog who wagged his tail even in his sleep when he dreamed, and I hope it meant he had a mostly happy life for the short time he got to spend with us. He certainly brought a lot of happiness to our lives. It won't be the same around here without him. We miss him terribly already. We can't help but feel that Gunnar deserved better than what he got. He was the purest, kindest soul you could ever hope to know. We did our best for him, and he gave his best for us. Life just isn’t fair sometimes and when you lose a Gunnar you lose a little piece of your heart. 

Here are some pictures of sweet Gunnar: You will notice he loved his lambies and one was never far away. He had them all over the yard, the house, the office and even brought some over to my house. Gunnar loved to snuggle with his lambies and he was so sweet he would even share them with anyone who would want to play lambie tug of war with him.
Gunnar the night he was found
On his way home from the dog warden's

Taking a nap with his first "lambie"
Gunnar's snowman Christmas present from the office next door. He loved it!

Taking a nap break at the office


Gunnar and Ginger meet for the first time

" I got him"

Gunnar keeping Nate company when he was sick in his stall

The Barn Helpers

"Guard Dogs"

Gunnar and Ginger after his seizure at my house. She lay with him and he held her close with his paw.

Gunnar's last day at the office, snuggling with his lambie after lunch.

Goodbye Sweet Boy

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Mounting Block

View from the patio
As many of you may know from past posts I had some difficulty at the mounting block with my mare Dusty.  She was impossible to deal with most of the time because of her swinging her butt out, bolting and just refusing to let me get in the saddle without a fight.  I’ve got to say that after years of this behavior and many different training techniques to get her to stand quiet we eventually came to an agreement and she was behaving towards the end. The difficulties we were having did make me lose confidence about getting on a horse. 

I’m happy to report that Blue is a pleasure at the mounting block and stands like a rock until I’m in the saddle. My confidence and trust is returning.  We had a very nice ride on Sunday and the weather couldn’t have been nicer.  A perfect fall day with a great horse equals a huge smile and a satisfied happy feeling that’s hard to describe. I’m sure everyone has had this feeling too.

I thought I would include a picture of the mounting block we had built into a corner in the indoor arena.  After many frustrating attempts to get on Dusty it came to a point where the mounting block I used had to be “just right” like Goldilocks and The Three Bears.  “Oh, this one’s too low or this one’s too high”. I’m sure it sounds like an excuse and it most likely was at some point.   So it was back to the drawing board to find the perfect height.   
And, drum roll please:

"the four step mounting block"
"the three step"

 When we combined them we got the perfect mounting block.
Steps from either side and two platform heights make this good for any size horse!

Quote for Today,
He who needs a mounting block had better not fall off in the middle of the field.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Happy Halloween

halloween castle

The Hag

Robert Herrick - 1648
  The hag is astride
      This night for to ride,
The devil and she together ;
      Through thick and through thin,
      Now out and then in,
Though ne'er so foul be the weather.

      A thorn or a burr
      She takes for a spur,
With a lash of a bramble she rides now ;
      Through brakes and through briars,
      O'er ditches and mires,
She follows the spirit that guides now.

      No beast for his food
      Dare now range the wood,
But hush'd in his lair he lies lurking ;
      While mischiefs, by these,
      On land and on seas,
At noon of night are a-working.

      The storm will arise
      And trouble the skies ;
This night, and more for the wonder,
      The ghost from the tomb
      Affrighted shall come,
Call'd out by the clap of the thunder.

(We can waive the helmet rule just this one time)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Rollin’ On

Blue waiting for his after ride treat

Yesterday the nice people who picked Nate up and cremated him delivered his ashes to us. He will be buried next to Dusty as soon as we can get the backhoe attached to the tractor.

I’ve been busy around the farm mostly power washing the white vinyl fencing.  So far I’ve done about 40-50 sections front and back.  It’s not a hard job but time consuming and I usually wind up looking like a drowned rat when the breeze is blowing in the right or should I say wrong direction.  I despise this fence and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who has trees overhanging a fence. The sap seems to stick to it very well.


Since we haven’t been riding for most of the summer we had an abundant crop of weeds spring up in the small arena.  It has taken hours and hours of dragging plus spraying with organic weed killer but I’ve made some headway and most of them are gone now.  I did have two helpers who were never done doing their impersonation of “road blocking cones” so I had to veer off and go in other directions.  Thanks for the help guys…

"Official Traffic Directors"

Ginger resting after a full day of playing with Gunnar and "helping out"

The chimney guys are almost done building the new fireplace. Our old one was pulling away from the house and needed to be replaced. It was ugly stucco and didn't go with the house which was built in 1750. So this is more in keeping with the period the house was built in.


For some reason this past Monday I developed gout in my big toe.  Never had it before but I’m here to tell you it’s very painful.  Finally went to the doctor yesterday and he told me it’s usually developed from shellfish and alcohol.  Well, since nobody’s taken me out for a lobster dinner with wine lately, that’s not the cause.  I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage for a few months either.  It could be from dehydration, which is my bet since I didn’t drink enough water over the weekend.  When I start a project I usually keep going until it’s finished.  Note to self - drink more water. The doctor gave me heavy-duty anti-inflammatory pills, which must be taken with food, or they cause stomach upset etc.  No problem there!
I've spared you the pictures because my swollen toe looks ridiculous. 

The bright spot in all of this is I was able to ride Blue on Sunday.  We just walked around the indoor for a bit and reintroduced him to steering and bending. Blue is nineteen and he knows this but I think he likes to test me and see if I remember how to ask him correctly.  I do! We both had a nice ride for our first time back in a long while. He felt good and I felt good to be back in the saddle again.
A little graze and rinse off after his grueling ride

Off to find the herd

Until next time
Quote for Today
Feeling down?  Saddle up.  ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Goodbye "Tater"

" Nate"

Friday morning when my daughter went out to the barn to feed and turn out for the day she found her horse Nate dead in his stall.  Nate had been suffering for a while with stringhalt, which was exacerbated by his condition of shivers.  Though he had improved a lot with the medication, he was still having some difficulty walking.  While she was doing everything she could for him to make him comfortable and help him recover, he continued to lose weight and wasn’t looking or feeling good in general.  Even though his death was heartbreaking, he left our world on his own terms in the best possible way.  His heart stopped beating and he left peacefully in his sleep with his herd around him in the barn.  On his last day Nate grazed with his friends all day and came in at night to a hearty meal, his favorite carrots and treats, and lots of hugs.  That morning all his friends stopped by his stall to sniff him and say their goodbyes.

What can we say about Nate’s life?  Nate came to my daughter from Holland as a four year old Dutch Warmblood and immediately touched all of our hearts. He grew to 17.3 hh and was one of the sweetest, kindest, and gentlest of souls.  Everyone who knew him, whether human or animal, loved Nate.  He was always happy and willing to be your friend.  Nate was the most curious of our horses and would follow anyone around checking on what they were doing, pulling pliers out of pockets or looking over your shoulder at a job being done.  Nate was the mischievous prankster around the barn and if you were bending over to pick up or clean something, he'd give a little nudge with his nose and tip you over. More than once while scrubbing out a water trough, Nate has knocked one of us in head-first. And if you weren't careful, he might even give you a wedgie!

He and my daughter traveled all over Europe through Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, across the English Channel, into Wales, England, and finally to Scotland.  In Scotland they studied with the British Horse Society for a while and had many great adventures. One day, my daughter was leading a trail ride for the first time through the Scottish countryside on Nate. While on a sunken road between two fields, Nate spied a herd of Highland Cattle on one side.  He'd never seen cows before, and eyed them suspiciously, but continued along confidently. Then all at once they pushed up to the fence and said "mooooooo," and, well, that was just too much. He ran backwards until he hit the bank on the other side and fell over backwards on top of my daughter. He rolled around on top of the bank until he was on his feet, with her still in the saddle, and bolted, with the rest of the riders watching in horror. She got to the end of the field where there were no cows attacking him and they could jump down the bank back onto the road. He was covered in mud and had tufts of grass sticking out his bridle, but he regained his composure and was a perfect gentleman for the rest of the ride. That was Nate. He tried his best. Sometimes the world just didn't cooperate with him...

At home he could be silly and always made us laugh or smile.  Nate decided more than once he wasn’t comfortable working in the indoor arena and thought it was a good idea to jump out.  Which he did twice through the big doors on the end and once through the small man door on the side.  He was very athletic! He proved this by being able to dance around on his hind legs whether someone was in the saddle or not.  Nate wasn’t rebellious or naughty on purpose, but when he got frightened he didn't run, he got airborne.  His spontaneous airs above ground were a sight to behold! My favorite antic of his was one day when it snowed, and he somehow slipped down the hill from the run-in and made his body into a horsey toboggan and slid right under the fence. Not easy to do for a huge horse, but he managed it. My daughter found him hanging out on her front lawn when she came home from work, and found the skid marks under the unbroken fence. He was probably just as confused, wondering how he had just teleported through the fence and how he could get back to his friends. So, Nate had many adventures in his twenty years that we saw. I’ve always wondered what he got up to that we didn’t see. Then again, knowing Nate, maybe it's best we never saw most of that stuff...

Nate was also sometimes known affectionately around the barn as "Tater," because he was a big sweet potato. His show name was "Ex Animo," which is Latin, and translates roughly as "from the heart."
As you will notice in the video below, he and my Dusty were practically inseparable.  Nate was her guy and they were hardly ever apart. I hope there is a place for horses to be together again.  We’d like to think of Nate and Dusty grazing lush pastures, drinking out of crystal streams, and being young and healthy again. 

Goodbye sweet boy, you are missed more than you know. Your leaving has left a big hole in our hearts.


remember when our songs where just like prayers.
like gospel hymns that you called in the air.
come down come down sweet reverence,
unto my simple house and ring…
and ring.

ring like silver, ring like gold
ring out those ghosts on the Ohio
ring like clear day wedding bells
were we the belly of the beast or the sword that fell…we’ll never tell.

come to me clear and cold on some sea
watch the world spinning some machine

now I've been crazy couldn’t you tell
i threw stones at the stars, but the whole sky fell
now I’m covered up in straw, belly up on the table
well and sang and drank, and passed in the stable.

that tall grass grows high and brown,
well i dragged you straight in the muddy ground
and you sent me back to where i roam
well i cursed and i cried, but now i know…now i know

and i ran back to that hollow again
the moon was just a sliver back then
and i ached for my heart like some tin man
when it came oh it beat and it boiled and it rang..its ringing

ring like crazy, ring like hell
turn me back into that wild haired gale
ring like silver, ring like gold
turn these diamonds straight back into coal

Until next time

Quotes for Today

There is something about the sight of a fallen horse that strikes one's heart in such a way, even for those who are not particularly a horse lover...the significance of something so sacred, powerful, beautiful, intoxicating as the horse...when a fallen horse is seen overcome by life's obstacles, fallen tears and a jolt to the heart and soul can never be prevented...
    - Stephanie M Thorn

Somewhere in time's own space
There must be some sweet pastured place
Where creeks sing on and tall trees grow
Some paradise where horses go,
For by the love that guides my pen
I know great horses live again.
~Stanley Harrison