Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Conversation With Blue

"Well there she goes, I wonder what I just got myself into"

I’d like to thank everyone for their advice and opinions on my previous post “A Dilemma.”  I appreciate your input and will definitely take it under advisement.

Blue and I went for a hand walk today and I decided to use the time constructively to see where his head is at before I start back riding him. So, we had a little chat about things in general, and riding in particular. I've paraphrased the gist of it below. (and no, I haven't been drinking ;-) It went something like this:

“So how have you been feeling lately, Mr. Blue?”

“Eh, I’m alright. But, uh, why are we walking around doing nothing when I could be eating a hay net right now?”

“Well, I thought we could spend a little quality time together. And I'd like to come up with a decision once and for all about you and I working together.”

“Why would we have to come to a decision? I’m here, and you ride when you feel like it. As long as you keep it short, it sort of breaks up the boredom of, you know, putting up with the these idiots." At this point he tossed his head toward the herd, and I knew what he meant. Blue doesn't have a lot of patience for his fellow horse. I can relate sometimes... 

“Blue, you’re the best." I love Blue's casual attitude toward life. Very little seems to ruffle his feathers, and he just goes with the flow. It must be nice... "I just don’t want to ask you to work if you’re in any kind of discomfort.”

“Oh, don't worry. If I’m not feeling up to par that day, you'll know it.”

That sounded a little more ominous than I liked to hear. “That's fair. I noticed that you’ve been favoring that left front lately. What’s up with that?”

“Well! When you so rudely pulled my shoes for the winter, I bruised my tender little foot."
The one thing Blue is not tough or casual about is discomfort. And this is the first time Blue has gone shoeless.

 "Poor Blue! How did that happen?" I tried to sympathize.

"The night I had my shoes pulled, I came galloping up for my dinner on the frozen ground. And it hurt."

“I see." Go figure. "But it feels better now?”

"I guess."

"And no more galloping?"

“Good thinking. One other thing I wanted to talk to you about.”

“UH, HUH?”

I have to remind myself here what a good horse Blue is, even though he's a pain in the neck. “I think we should continue these half hour walks so you can get in shape before we start riding again.”

“So I can get in shape? What about those extra holiday pounds you’re carrying? You’re no picnic to lug around.”

“That’s why I’m walking with you." Being a sarcastic smartass is just one of his many charms. But I've commented on his weight more than a few times, so I guess I kinda asked for it. "Is it a deal?”

Big sigh. “Fine. It’s a deal. Now can I go back to my hay net?”

“Sure, but try to come up for air once in a while, huh?”

“Back at ya.”

We're totally off to a great start.

Quote for Today 
Give a horse what he needs and he will give you his heart in return

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Dilemma


So, as the New Year begins, I find I’m at a loss as far as goals go.  I used to set goals but have long since decided it’s best to take each day as it comes. Try and work on what I think needs to be done for or with the horses.  I’d like to spend more time with the herd, specifically, Blue, Donnie, and Sami.

This is a goal in itself because it seems there is never enough time in the days and weeks to have to myself and do what I want.  I’m not complaining (well maybe a little bit) but I often wonder [what's the best way to strike that difficult balance between doing the things I want to do, and that make me happy, and taking care of everyone else's needs? I think that's just life's problem, but I haven't figure it out yet, and if you have, I'd be happy to hear about how!]

I’m planning on working Donnie and Sami this weekend on the longe for a bit to start getting them back in shape. Just because Donnie can’t be ridden safely and Sami is too small for me to ride doesn’t mean they should be left to their own devices to keep fit. [Both of them actually seem to enjoy the work and] I doubt I’ll be able to ride Blue since he’s been a tad bit lame for the last week or so.  He’s getting older too and his hocks bother him.  So I have to be mindful of that and be gentle with him.

I go back and forth about getting a younger horse to ride and retiring Blue.  There are two schools of thought running through my head. The first is that I’d really like to spend more time riding while I still can physically manage it.  It’s a shame to waste what time I might have left in the saddle and the property, the riding arenas and the indoor we have for the horses, which, if not being used for the intention it was bought, seems wasteful, too.  The second is whether it's fair to get another horse at my age (65) that I may not be able to ride in a few years.  Although I would love to ride forever, age and physical agility are a question mark.  So I’m wondering, how do some of you older riders feel about this dilemma? What would you do?

Quote for Today
When you’re young and fall off a horse, you may break something.  When you’re my age and you fall off, you splatter. Roy Rogers

Friday, December 30, 2016


Happy New Year

In the New Year,
we wish you the best year you’ve ever had,
and that each New Year
will be better than the last.
May you realize your fondest dreams
and take time to recognize and enjoy the blessings of
each and every day.

As we jump into a new year I like to think
of all the possibilities open to us all.
No bothersome resolutions to keep. The simple act
of being the best we can be will be 
good enough for me.
I've always liked this quote:
It's never too 
late to be
what you might 
have been.

George Eliot

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Caution: You might look like a "Despicable Me" minion!
We’re in for some very cold weather this week with the possibility of snow and definitely high winds.  The worst part of winter for me is how early it gets dark.  I find it difficult to navigate the frozen moon craters in the paddocks or spot black ice.  It’s impossible to carry a flashlight and lead ropes if you’re as uncoordinated as I am.  So I bought this great hat that solves a lot of my ‘working in the dark’ problems and thought I’d share it with you.  Might make a special Christmas gift for anyone who challenges the dark mornings and nights.

The hat is called  “ X CAP”.  It gives 4 hours of light and can be recharged directly on any USB port. The light in the front is simple to use you just press it and there are three levels of light intensity. It can also be washed, just make sure to read the directions. The hat comes in any color you want as long as it’s gray. Or at least that was the only color choice when I purchased it last year maybe they have more colors now.  I believe I purchased it from this web site:

 I took a few pictures of the hat unlit and lit:

I think it's a great invention.

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