Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Braid...Re-do Do

Either Danny or his brothers made a mess out of his braid overnight. I'm thinking maybe the brothers considering where the biggest mess was located. It really doesn't matter who was to blame or whether the cause was play or jealousy, we had a do-over this morning and I think I did a much better job on the braid this time around. :) 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Burrs and Braids

Spent the first part of the afternoon de-burring and braiding Mouse and Danny. Django is covered with them and he grew impatient, I grew tired and my fingers sore before we were done so his proper grooming will wait until another time. Riley was just being uncooperative today but he's not as burr covered as the others. Neither is Old Brandy but her mane is much shorter and easier to keep clean.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sensory Experiences

I've neglected this blog lately. I've had a lot going on personally for the last two months and I'm afraid that I've neglected my horses, too. They are still cared for, fed and watered, but the neglect has come from how little time I have to spend with them. They are fine but I know they miss me as much as I miss them. When I do have a few minutes to spend with them, they fight over my attention as if it was a sweet delectable treat. They do need that attention now. The cockle burrs are out and clinging to every bit of mane and tail. I spent hours one day last week picking them out but it was a futile effort. They seemed to have acquired twice as many the next day. But I will keep trying and hopefully Steve will get his bushhog back on the farm and cut those demon weed down, ha.

Danny is growing ever taller and it does seem, ever sweeter. He is the gentlest, calmest little guy and he ran with me yesterday, me huffing along with my overweight body and him, doing the smoothest, sharpest fox trot you'd ever want to see. I need new photos of him. I also need to start working with him, preparing him to go under saddle by Spring I hope. Also,hopefully, I can film a lot along the way of that training so that I can share this with my friend, Huston Jenkins, in Missouri.

I was reminded today of a small part of why I love horses so much. The DHC challenge for today was to use your 5 senses to describe a memory involving nature. Not surprising is the fact that my memory involved horses. What is surprising is how my earliest tactile memory is of a horse but it took me 49 years to get one of my own. I don't know how I lived so long without a horse in my life. There's so much to remember and cherish, the sweet aroma of burying your nose in the horse's mane and taking in an odor that is a mix of sweet hay, flowers and sunshine, the coarse feel of the mane against your face and in your hand as you mount, the squeak of the leather and smell of saddle soap and leather, the soft nicker of the horse and its even softer nuzzle, the feel of a tender breeze caressing your skin and the gentle rays of sunshine warming it, feeling the horse move underneath you, connecting with the horse and appreciating how it responds to even subtle cues and soft hands, looking around at this beautiful country we live in and seeing so much green, so green that you can actually smell it, almost feel it and a blue sky above that dazzles, and finally, looking into those soft brown eyes and having them look back at you, whispering softly and knowing as a child or an adult and, even when others scoff, that the horse understands, on some level, it always understands.

And now, I think I'll take the time or make the time to go and visit for a while with my horses. I'll breath in their sweet odor, caress those gentle muzzles, and obediently scratch the itchy spots they point out.....they have me so well trained. :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Fly

I nearly got on the wrong side of some kicking hooves this morning and they came from a very unusual source, Danny. Unusual because I've never before seen Danny kick, ever. He paws when he's playing but I've never once seen both rear feet off of the ground until today. I was leaving the pasture after feeding. I had Brandy's feed bucket tucked up under my shirt so that the others wouldn't know what I'd been up to down at the little barn. You might not think horses are that smart but trust me, anything to do with food and even the dullest horse is a genius...and I happen to think that all of mine are all pretty bright anyway. I paused because I was startled when I saw Danny kick out and catch Django in the chest. The two of them were in the pass through across the road which separates and connects the two pastures. I'm standing there watching them when I suddenly realized that Danny was squeezing around the corner and making a bee line straight for me. I started scrambling across the fence but only managed to get one leg across before he brushed past me, knocking me off balance and the rest of the way across the fence; it was kind of like a very ungraceful dismount because I managed to keep my feet but it didn't look pretty. I got angry and threw the feed bucket at him which was of course the wrong thing to do because it didn't punish him, it only made him turn around and come back toward me so that he could check out the bucket for food. At first he acted normal but then he started doing almost a rocking horse/bronco kick, rocking forward and kicking back with both rear feet over and over. He circled and then ran to me again and that's when I finally saw the fly. It was the biggest horse fly I've ever seen, at least two inches long, and it was latched on to his rump and not letting go. Poor guy was trying his best to get it off of him but he couldn't reach it with his mouth and the fly evidently had a good seat because the kicking wasn't even loosening its grip much less dislodging it. He finally calmed down a bit, walked over to the hay beside Django and began to eat. I thought this was my opportunity to swat the thing off of him. I actually thought that I could reach across Django with a stick and get the fly but that failed for all sorts of reasons. I know, it wasn't a great plan to begin with but it's the best I could come up with at the moment. Finally after he took off and started kicking again and hit Django in the chest again...poor, long suffering Django, ha...., I edged up to his head...he wasn't wearing a halter...and calmly soothed him as I kept one hand on him so that I was ready to start moving around with him if I needed to. I worked my way slowly along his side until I made it far enough back to reach that fly. I swatted it as hard as I could and expected it to hit the ground so that I could stomp it but I think I just made it mad because it looped and did a dive bomb right back to his rump again. I took that as my cue to get the hell out of Dodge. Danny started doing the bronco routine once again and then ran for the barn. Mouse looked concerned, watched him all of the way to the barn, turned and looked at me (probably hoping I'd go so she wouldn't have to) and then veeery slowly made her way down toward the barn. I've never seen that horse move with so much hesitation. She reached the corner of the little barn and then just stood there with her head cocked, listening. Evidently, he'd calmed down because she turned and was headed back up the hill when I finally climbed into my truck. No one would believe me and probably everyone will think I'm crazy for talking to a horse but when I was trying to get close enough to get the fly, I kept shouting at Mouse who was next to him but still a safe distance away, "There's a fly on his rump. Get the fly off his rump." She'd look directly at the fly and then looked back at me with that same look as if to say, "I'm not going anywhere near those kicking hooves. You do it!"

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I woke them up this morning to wish Danny a very happy 2nd birthday. I think that is obvious in some of these photos and in the suspicious look on Danny's face as he comes up the hill toward me. At first he was running and then he stopped and turned to look at both his brother and his mom as if to ask, "What do you think she's up to? She's never here this early."




Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Queen Bows to the Prince

I thought I might actually take my camera with me this morning but I also planned on working with Riley and hauling water for the trough but none of that happened because of the strong storms that started near dawn and lasted until nearly ten. I waited until they were over to finally go take care of the horses. I'm just getting back from that task and I'm happy to report that everyone is doing fine. The storms had them a little more energized than usual causing me to take extra precautions before going out amongst 'em but a bit of well placed sweet feed remedied that. ;-) .......I mentioned a few posts ago how Mouse is so gentle with Danny. Danny of course was the first one to stick his head into the decoy feed bucket this morning. Mouse would have been biting and kicking and otherwise establishing her authority if it had been one of the other boys and they knew this, too because they both kept their distance. But with Danny, she seemed perplexed and unsure how to get his head gently out of the bucket and away from the food that he was attacking ferociously. She kept putting her head under his neck and lifting up but she just couldn't manage to get her own head into the bucket quickly enough to replace his, haha.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Blustery Day

Today was farrier day here on Gray Horse Farm (forgive me being so pretentious but one day, when all the work is done, that will be the name proudly displayed on a sign at the front gate....if I have my way;-.) All of the time put in with Riley this week really paid off because I finally got him haltered. I'm not saying that it was easy. There was a lot of effort involved and a lot more than I'd imagined yesterday because we woke up to near freezing temps and a strong wind blowing in from the Northwest. Horses tend to go a bit crazy when it's windy. My friend, Huston, tells me that it hurts their ears. I'd imagine that's so but I think that it also frightens them because they can't hear and if they can't hear, they constantly think something or someone is sneaking up on them. So, Riley's free lunging in the round pen involved a lot of kicking, bucking and mane throwing this morning. Dale wasn't due to arrive until 10AM but I wanted to get out there before 8AM to get them all fed and haltered. I haltered all of them but Riley and turned them back out into the pasture. Turning them out with halters on is not something I would usually do but Steve had taken the day off (he said to plant corn at the North Shore farm but I think it was mainly to help me because of halter shy Riley.) He fed the other horses hay and then kept an eye on them so that they wouldn't get into trouble. Of course the one that we were really worried about was Danny but the kid did good. Once I got Riley haltered, I called Dale and left a message for him to call me when he was about fifteen minutes from my place so that I could corral the other three (no need to corral Brandy because she never travels very far or very fast.) Steve and I stood and brushed Riley while he munched on hay. When Dale called, the two boys came in just by calling them but I had to go retrieve the diva, Mouse. All's well that ends well and for the most part, they were all well behaved with Dale. We had a few minor eye rolls and snorts mainly caused by the wind and none of them seemed to like the wormer that came after the trim but they all look fine now with their freshly trimmed hooves. Surprisingly, I had no problem getting them back into the round pen for feeding tonight. I'd expected them to act like, "Oh, no! What's she planning now?" But the boys came in in a neat row and Mouse followed once she accepted that she wasn't going to eat Brandy's hefty ration out of Brandy's bucket. For all my worry and anticipation and despite the blustery wind, the day turned out quite well. Now, it's time to schedule the annual visit from the vet........yikes.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

So much to tell but so little time. I've been working with Danny's "uncle," Riley for the past few weeks attempting to get him into a halter again. When we first brought Riley home to Tennessee three years ago, I took both Django and him to my friend's barn. She's been my riding instructor for many years and she has a large covered arena to ride in. I thought, having the horses there would give me the opportunity to ride them every day with someone nearby who could help if I got into trouble and that I could get to know them and they me. It didn't work out that way. I hurt my hand badly when Django bolted during his first hoof trimming. I have no idea what spooked him but he tossed our farrier, Dale, at least eight to ten feet away and he dragged me down the hill while I held on with futility to the rope. When I finally gave up and let go, I jumped up and ran up the hill to check on Dale. When I asked if he was okay, he looked at me a bit shocked and asked if I was okay...I didn't realize that my hands were bleeding profusely. So, I put on a pair of gloves...that I should have been wearing all along...and I soldiered up while Dale trimmed the other horses. I didn't realize that I was already getting the beginnings of a bad staph infection.

A few days later, we took the "boys" to Brandy's place and that was the last I saw of them for two weeks as I got sicker and sicker with each day until I finally ended up in the emergency room with my arm discolored and swollen twice its usual size. When we did go to pick the boys up, Brandy met me as I was getting out of the truck and apologized for what had happened to Riley's face. She had a young apprentice working for her who evidently loved riding my horse. He however didn't appreciate all of the hours under saddle that she was putting in on him and he became progressively difficult to catch and halter. Her answer to his reluctance was to put a halter on him and leave it on when she turned him out to pasture. When I found my poor guy, the halter was half off and so was his left ear! He was timid and spooky and he wouldn't even look me in the eye. His face was covered in horrible, deep sores that took over a month to heal. They did eventually heal but the emotional scars and fear did not.

Three years later and I still have a very difficult time catching and haltering Riley. I admit that I haven't worked with him as much as I should have. I blame the celiacs disease that had me sick for most of last year before it was finally diagnosed at the very end of the year. I didn't work with or ride any of them last year. Still, he seems to have gotten worse not better. Now that I'm feeling better and the weather is beautiful, I decided that it was time to cure this problem. I started out being more aggressive than I should have been and I ended up just chasing him around for several hours. That did not work.

A friend suggested that I wrap the halter around his food bowl. I did that and it helped but we didn't seem any closer to actually getting the halter on him.

So, another epiphany moment....I finally realized that a prey animal, like a horse, does not need to be chased. Instead, to assert my authority over him and become the head of the herd, I need to push him. I think part of the poor guy's problem and the reason his fear has escalated is because he's recently been usurped as leader of the herd by the return of alpha mare, Mouse. I hated to be one more female pushing him around but it was necessary. I got him in the round pen and I gently pushed him into a free lunge with my lunge whip and voice. He kept trying to stop on his own and I'd push him on. After working like that for a while, I asked him for a whoa and he stood still for me. In fact he stood while I rubbed the whip over him and then the halter. He stood while I walked over and got his feed bowl that I'd filled with feed and then covered with the halter so he'd have to put his nose through the halter to eat. I held the bowl while he ate and I pulled the halter up across his nose. He didn't even flinch.

I still haven't put the halter on. I want him to be completely comfortable with it before I do but I have been working with him in the round pen every day and he is so much more compliant about every thing. I've also learned that I can't let him walk away from me. I always have to be the one to walk away.

I spoke with my friend Huston last week right after a session with Riley and he told me that I had to work on horse time. If you go into the pen to work with a horse and you think you've only got ten minutes, it will take you five hours to accomplish anything. But, if you go in thinking that you have all of the time in the world (because, as Huston told me, the horse does,) it will take you ten minutes to reach your goal.

Now, the funnies on Danny this week....for one thing, he likes to be the one getting all of the attention. He can't bear it when Riley is the one in the round pen working with me and not him. As I lunge Riley, Danny often runs along with him on the outside of the pen. When Dan and Django saw me feeding Riley an extra treat after our session on Friday, they both protested vocally but Danny actually tried to climb into the round pen!! The little stinker put one foot on the trailer bumper and the other several rungs up on the round pen fence! Lucky for him and us, he realized that he wasn't going to be able to do this even though he'd seen me do it several times. He's also hiding the feed bowls again. Someone needs to tell him that Easter has come and gone and we are no longer hiding "eggs." The next BIG CELEBRATION will be his birthday with is in just nine short days. Yippee! TWO YEARS OLD!

Speaking of age, my old girl, Brandy, can be both clever and funny. Last week when I first started to establish the routine that I hoped would allow me to finally and easily halter Riley by getting them all into the round pen to eat and then taking them out one by one, I decided that I'd try to spend a little time with each one before removing their halters. So, I led each of them over to the tying post and had them stand there while I groomed them. The only one who objected to this was Danny because we still haven't done the tying lesson that I hope will give him patience. But, unlike Dan, both Mouse and Django love the attention. Mouse was the first one to get the beauty treatment. Brandy was already out because part of the reason for putting the others up is to allow her to get her large portion of food that will hopefully keep weight on her aging frame. I'm standing there grooming Mouse and Brandy walks up right behind her. Now, this was an odd thing for Brandy to do because she knows that any where to the rear of Mouse is not the safest place to be. Still, she kept gently nudging Mouse with her nose and every time I'd shoo her away, she'd come right back. I finished with Mouse and I walked her a few steps away from the post before releasing her. When I turned around, I found Brandy had taken Mouse's place and was standing squarely in front of the post just as if she was tied to it. The girl was ready for her salon session.:)

As for Ms Mouse, another second go at motherhood has made her somewhat more serene. Of course, she still lets all of the other horses know she's boss but with Danny, it is another story. I'd so hoped that uniting them again would result in her teaching Dan a few manners but she is so gentle with her corrections that I'm certain they have no effect on Danny. Even though he's lost the family jewels, the boy still thinks he's the prince of the kingdom. A few days ago, I was watching them and Danny crowded up against Mouse's rear end. This is something that he tends to do with all of the horses and us. He just hasn't learned about personal space and boundaries yet but with Mouse, as I said above, this is a dangerous position to be in.......or so I always thought. When Danny got too close for Mouse's comfort, she didn't kick but rather stretched one of her rear legs out and pushed him gently away. A mother's love evidently is the strongest thing in the world.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Together Again

All of the horses are back together again tonight. I was surprised that Danny didn't bother his mom. He gave her one kiss and he follows her everywhere but he keeps a respectful distance. Riley was the most upset because he knows he's not boss hoss anymore. My tiny little Mouse is always alpha no matter what herd she's in. I thought that I'd keep Brandy separate from the others because she's so old. I turned her out in the green grass and was certain she wouldn't wander far. I did block off the road but she still could get to the neighbors by going around the backside of the pasture. Steve comes home and says, "What if she gets in the road?" At first I didn't think this was a possibility and then I went over to check on her. It was dark and it had started raining. I finally spotted Brandy when she came running down to the fence at a slow little jog. Then she spooked, I think because of my bright truck lights and she literally headed for the hills. I got out in the rain....I failed to mention that I was in my pajamas and rain boots, didn't I?......and ran up the hill, in the dark, slipping and sliding. I found her on the very crest of the hill ready to head back down to the neighbors where she would have easy access to their long drive and the road. I did have the presence of mind to bring some sweet feed with me but she was having none of that; the green grass and abundant clover was much more appealing. So, I trek back down the hill to get a halter as the rain fell harder. I sat for a few minutes in the truck with the heater on and listened to the blues hour on WDVX...that part was I waited for the rain to let up a bit. Finally, I took the halter back up the hill and then struggled to get it on her in the dark with her bobbing her head all about and butting me to push me away. I finally got it on and she dug in. She was refusing to budge. I tried coaxing with the food and the most I could get out of her were a few steps. Finally she began to follow me but I still have no idea why. There is one narrow strip where we could fit side by side without one of into the electric fence so, since she was following me well now, I stepped in front of her. Bless her heart, the eyes must be going because she ran over a generator Steve had setting at the gate. It made such an awful sound that I was certain she was hurt and the other horses panicked and started running. She seemed to be fine though and since the other horses had rushed into the middle pasture, I closed the gate and then put her, alone, in the upper pasture. No one was happy with this arrangement and I started worrying about it after I got back to the house and changed into some dry pj's. So, I headed back over again. Thankfully, the rain had stopped. I let all of the horses back in with Brandy and the first thing little demon, Dan does is start aggravating the poor old girl. Sure, he's always loved her and he's doing this out of affection but she's old and she doesn't know that. She starts to scream and the other horses are just standing around watching...except for my darling Django. Django puts himself in between Danny and Brandy. When I turned around to leave, I turned my lights on bright and directed them to the top of the hill where the entire herd now stood, grazing and there was Django right at Brandy's side keeping an eye on her and keeping Danny at bay. I think I can sleep soundly now. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Shadow?

Besides realizing that his mom has me trained, I had another realization yesterday about my horses and this one was about Danny. Steve is always calling him Swaggerty because of how he walks. I've said time and again that the little demon child doesn't think of us as humans but sometimes I wonder if it's that he doesn't think of himself as a horse. I was walking them all to the round pen yesterday where I feed them (so that I can get them use to coming in to eat and this will not only make it easier once we finally get the barn built but also to catch them for riding and working.) and I realized that I walk with this swinging arm, almost little girl bounce sometimes. It's bad enough that a grown woman walks that way but I really think Danny is mimicking me! It seemed that was what he was doing as he followed right behind me like he always does. If he is mimicking me, it would explain all of his stumbling and falls.

Don't think that he has some neurological problem that causes him to fall down. No, it is 100 percent clumsiness. It always happens when he's playing with one of those balls and he tries to kick it like I do. He doesn't understand that his feet just don't work like that and he ends up on the ground most of the time. Steve keeps telling me that I need to start thinking and acting like a horse if I expect Danny to.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I'm always telling people about just how smart my Mousie is. She is indeed a very intelligent horse and I'm not the only person to say so. I have one friend who always told me that it was obvious how smart she was because she was always outsmarting me. Well, today, I realized that she had me trained. I was loading up the truck getting ready to head back to the house after their morning feeding when Mouse nickers at me. I turn and see her standing by the gate and giving me that winsome look. She stretches out her neck and nickers again.......and I swear she batted her eyes, haha. I automatically go over to the fence, scoop up the leftover food in the bucket and offer it her. She eagerly lapped it up and that's when it hit me, how well she has me trained.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Destruction of the Ball

I should have had my camera with me in the field today and preferably my video camera so that I could catch all of the action. It is warm and beautiful outside today in the 70's and you'd swear that Spring has not only arrived but has been here for an extended visit with no sign of departure. The boys were feeling feisty. I told them all that, as fresh as they were, I wasn't too certain if I wanted to try riding them anytime soon. Of course, it didn't take long for the two older boys to tire out and calm down from all of the running, kicking and jumping nonsense but the baby, Danny still had a lot of life left in him. He played with his two nearly destroyed Jolly balls and then I decided to get the big, somewhat expensive, ball that I'd bought when he was a baby to train him with. When he was a baby, the two geldings had acted so silly over the ball that Danny thought it was something to be feared especially since it was nearly as large as him but not so today. No, today, he attacked it. Forget pushing it with his nose, that got old fast. Instead, Danny insisted that on trying to get a bite hold on that round slick surface so he could carry it around like he does his jolly balls. Before I knew what was happening, he had. The thing cost at least fifteen dollars and I figure he got about a minute of play out of each dollar before it was entirely gone. In it's quickly deflated state, it was no longer of interest to him and was discarded in the field. I'll see if I can't patch it and blow it back up. We also plan to pick him up a new Jolly ball sometime this week to replace the two he has which are quickly deteriorating. I promise, when I deliver the new ball to the field, I will take my camera and I'll post the video on here so all of you can see Danny's playful shenanigans. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stormy Weather

Since it is a leap year, I wonder if today qualifies as March coming in like a lion? It has been stormy all day  but we've been lucky and dodged the worst of it here on Prospect Church Road. I'd hoped to get up at dawn and do a Leap Day portrait of Mouse to mirror the one I did four years ago but I fell asleep in front of the TV waiting for the sun to rise and missed my opportunity. By the time I woke up, it was raining so no soft morning light and lots of gloom, mud and grime but I still got a few shots to share with you of Leap Day 2012.
Danny entertaining himself with the jolly ball.

Do you wanna know a secret?

Mouse playing hide and seek.
let's play tug of war!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Flirting with Disaster

Horses are a lot like children, you need to be totally focused when you deal with them because they are both accidents waiting to happen. Danny has a bad habit of either sitting his hoof on one of the bars on the metal panels of the round pen or even worse, hanging his leg across it. We had two near disasters last night and both were my fault because I didn't follow my usual habit of always latching the gate each time I leave the round pen or pasture. This has been a habit I've followed for over seven years now because the one time that I didn't latch the gate, seven years ago, the wind blew it opened just as I'd removed Mouse's halter and she made a mad dash. It was an awful experience because she ran all of the way to the neighbor's farm on open  pasture where one wrong turn could have taken her into the road with traffic. After I caught up with her and put her halter back on, I had to lead her back during a terrible storm with lightning playing all around us which made her dance and made our trip take twice as long because I was constantly circling her to calm her down....and there was no one to calm me down.

Why I didn't follow this essential habit last night, I don't know. It was getting late and I was trying to get everything done but that one lapse nearly caused what could have been a serious injury to Danny and danger for all three horses that I'd put in the round pen. As I made my way up the hillside, all of the horses had been fed their feed ration, the boys had all been lunged per Dr. Hamilton's orders for Danny for the next 14 days, I'd given Danny his dose of bute and I was just coming back from letting Brandy back out of the little barn and was on my way to get the hay. Steve was coming up the road on the tractor and a tank of water for Danny's cold wash. I ran up and opened the outside gate to the pasture so that Steve could pass through. The boys were all still in the round pen because I didn't want them in the way as Steve came through the gate on the tractor. Danny started pawing the gate and then he hooked his leg across the bar. When the tractor made a noise that startled him, he jumped back and the gate went with him. That's when I saw him panic and I was paralyzed with terror as I attempted to run to help him. He managed to disengage himself from the fence without harm but by that time, he'd opened the gate all of the way and all three horses were extremely agitated. They all come rushing out and galloped down the hillside making a beeline to the open gate. Steve sped up and blocked the road while I ran toward the "thundering herd" waving my arms and yelling. Thankfully, it worked and I wasn't flattened like a bug on ta windshield. Evidently, me acting crazy was the scariest thing they'd seen in a while because Django and Riley turned and kept running and Danny skidded to a stop a few feet from me and just looked at me with curiosity. Disaster was diverted this time but if someone were to offer you odds, you'd better bet on me never leaving that gate unlatched again!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

I have sad news to report today, Danny is no longer a stallion. Last Friday, February 24, we gelded Danny. I think I was nearly as traumatized as Dan but then again, no where near as much. Part of my heart is broken and part is relieved. It's true that decisions should be made by the head not the heart. That's a lesson that I've learned the hard way in the past. I weighed out both sides of this issue and the scales kept leaning strongly in the direction of gelding. In the end the final decision was made because I knew that we just aren't prepared to handle a stallion (The state of Tennessee requires heavy fencing that is at least six feet tall to contain a stallion and Dan's first two years of life have sped by and left us standing in the dust, unprepared.) Spring was also quickly approaching and with the mild Winter weather we've been having, Mouse could have come into season at anytime and who knows how Dan would have reacted? On the heart side, I know that a stallion's life is one of isolation and loneliness and I certainly didn't want that for my Dan but there is still some regret whenever I look at the beautiful horse he's developing into, his easy temperament, and wonderful breeding. Still, the horse market is falling into itself just like most areas of this country's economy so from a financial standpoint, starting a breeding program at this time just wasn't feasible. So, the decision was made and the date set.

We moved the other two boys to the middle pasture and led Dan into isolation in the round pen. It was such a windy day that I thought Dan might be agitated but he stood patiently while we brushed and groomed him unaware that we were waiting on our veterinarian, Dr. Mellisa Hamilton. He seemed content until he saw Melissa's truck turn into our drive. Then, he started pawing at the ground and trying to open the gate. I don't know how he recognized the truck or realized that something was up but he did. Melissa gave him one shot to make him drowsy and a second shot which was suppose to almost instantly put him down on the ground but it didn't. Another dose did the job but its effects would linger for most of the afternoon and he would still be a bit groggy when we left him that night. He reacted to the anesthesia as well with twitching and snorting that Melissa said was caused by hallucinations brought on by the drug. Evidently, he was totally under because he did not react when Melissa began to cut. The gelding went quickly as Steve held the rope holding up Danny's leg and I pressed gently but firmly on his neck to calm him and keep him still. Melissa also removed his wolf teeth which wasn't as easy because Dan kept clinching his jaw but finally those two little teeth were out (I saved them like a child's first teeth:)

During this entire process, Danny's big brother, Django, was standing at the gate watching and obviously anxious. Several hours later, when I finally turned the other two horses out into the big pasture with Dan, Django ran to him and started nuzzling and kissing him. He has been a nursemaid to Danny since that day and never leaves his side. No one will believe this but I caught Django looking at the "surgery spot" and then Danny looked at Django. I don't begin to understand the workings of a horse's mind or even if there is any logic at work there but I hope that Django was saying, "Look, you're just like me now!" Danny did revert back to the submissive actions of a young foal for a few days, making the mouth gestures and dropping his head to the older, larger horses. He also cried out to his mother right after the surgery. Mouse also had been standing at the fence trying to see what we were doing to her baby but Dan couldn't see her from his vantage point. He's acting more like his old self today but I still don't think he's half as cocky as he was before. I kind of miss that.

Melissa stayed with us until Danny was on his feet and she knew that he was Okay. She left us with orders for his after care which include lunging and cold water baths twice a day. Last night, he finally gave in for a fight free bathing of the affected area. I have to say that can't be pleasant but it is necessary to keep the swelling down. So far, he's had very little swelling and seems to be recovering quickly. The lunging is to keep the wound open and draining. Our first attempt didn't go very well because Dan didn't have much respect for the lunge whip and even less for me as a leader at the time. The best we did was a fast walk and I was getting more of a workout than he was. The next morning, I decided to put the other two horses in the round pen with him and that worked much better because it suddenly became a game for him to keep up with the other two boys who do respect the whip and me. By this morning, it was just Django and Danny (Riley just doesn't think a small ration of sweet feed is worth all of that effort.) but both are following my lead much better. Dan still has his little boy moments when he's suddenly distracted by a butterfly, the dog playing outside the pen or people in the distance walking down the road but I think he's doing quite well....even though I do admit to being biased and going strictly on the opinion of my heart with this one not my head.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In Honor of Valentines Day ~ A Mother's Love

A mother's love is the first love we know and often the most enduring.
And ours, too:)
at dawn on his second day
Getting acquainted...
Mama, it itches...or discovering flies on his second day.
2nd day and finally a chance to nap.
Learning to fly...
Huston and Dan meet for the first time-2months old.
3 months old
3 and a half months old

Mimicking Mama.....newborn foals don't graze but they do mimic Mama.

If I'm not mistaken, around 4 months old.

My favorite shot of Steve and Danny

If Danny could see this, he might be nicer to
Sadie Dog. She was there and standing guard
from the beginning.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Huston with Mouse in 2009
Prayers for my dear friend, Huston Jenkins. As most of you know, he had a stroke the day after Thanksgiving. He's had one small stroke since but he seemed fully recovered except for exhaustion by the next morning when I called and talked to him. Over the last few weeks, I've noticed a very positive improvement in both his speech and his activity level. He seemed to be trying so hard to get better. I'd told him that I was bringing Dan out to Missouri to visit with him this Spring. He was determined that he not only would be able to ride Dan when he came but that he would be able to train him as he'd planned to do this past Fall. I wasn't so certain but I still didn't want to discourage him because this small idea seemed to have really increased his desire to recover. Over the last two weeks, he's been working with his horses or at  least visiting with them every day possible. Last Saturday, he received a black eye from an overly enthusiastic young horse that was happy to see him and knocked him down. I read about this incident on his son's Facebook page and I also read that he'd looked at some photos of my horses (all but the oldest and youngest use to be his and he claims at least half of youngest, Danny) that I'd posted for him to see. I called last night to check on his injuries and to talk to him about the photos but I called too late and he was getting ready for church. I was planning on calling him back today and it was when I started to call that I saw all of the missed messages from Missouri. Huston had another stroke late last night and the prognosis is not good. He's been having seizures and he's awake but unresponsive. I dearly love this man. He is the best horseman and best guy I've ever known. Please remember him in your prayers today. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I'm getting a lot more pressure to geld Danny now that he's too quickly approaching his second birthday and maturity. Personally, I agree with most of the arguments and I certainly don't want the life of a stallion for Danny. At the same time, I hate to disappoint Huston. We are planning on taking Danny to Missouri for a visit this Spring if all goes well and Huston continues to improve. I've gotten the impression from our last couple of phone conversations that he still plans to train Danny. I honestly don't think that will happen but the possibility seems to have given Huston new resolve to fight this stroke and get back in the saddle. So, I'm not going to tell him that this will just be a visit or that we plan to geld Danny. There will be time to discuss that later but I don't know whether or not to go ahead and geld Danny before the trip. It's a tough decision. 

Thinking about all of this and this photo made me think about the day that Danny was born. I know most of you have heard this story before but for those who haven't or just to refresh the memory, here it is again.

Our vet was out of town the morning that Danny was born. I was alone with Mouse when, with one shudder, her water broke and she went back to grazing as if nothing had changed. I'd been told that she would stop eating a few hours before the birth but I knew better, Mouse doesn't stop eating for anything,lol. She was still nibbling at grass a few minutes later when the first hoof emerged. But something was wrong, only one long leg came out and the other was folded out of view. Mouse stood up and walked around a bit and then laid back down for another try. I grabbed my towel, gloves and other supplies I'd brought in case of an emergency. Since I had no one to call, I tried to remember what our vet had told me and I dialed my house to wake my husband, who'd just gone back to bed after having the "first watch." I tried to pull the one leg but I was surprised by how slippery it was. Mouse didn't appear panicked or uncomfortable but I was. She continued to walk around and the baby continued to try to enter the world. My husband Steve finally reached the pasture...he'd had to run because both of our trucks were already there. It took about three attempts but he was finally able to free the leg and, with Mouse standing up, the baby hit the ground with a plop and then proceeded to roll down hill! We both managed to catch him before he hit the creek with Mouse following us. This was our first foal and we both expected him to jump right to his feet just like they do in the movies. We were drying him off and trying to get him up with no success. Finally I called the emergency number that my vet had left with me and I got the University Veterinary School and Hospital. I was told that I could get a doctor for consultation but that a short phone call would cost me $160. I looked at the time and saw that it was just 6:15 but I told the operator, "Thanks but I have a good friend that I think I'll wake up." I called my friend Brandy, who is an amazing trainer and riding instructor and has bred and raised champion Quarter horses for years. Brandy was happy to help me even at that early hour. She assured me that Danny not being on his feet fifteen minutes past his birth was normal especially for a large foal. She seemed to anticipated my questions before I asked them and calmed all of my fears and before she hung up the phone, she let me know that I could call her any time during the day then she asked, "Isn't this just the most wonderful, amazing experience?" To which I answered, "NO! It's traumatic, stressful and frightening." A few hours later, as I saw how Mouse looked at her newborn with so much love, adoration and pride, I realized that it was absolutely one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. It made me cry to see just how much Mouse loved that baby and she wasn't the only one who fell in love at first sight. Steve and I barely left his side for days. It's no wonder that he seems to think of us as just funny looking horses.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Blustery Day


Brandy looking darn good for 31!


Beautiful Mouse


Today has been miserable in the weather department, wind chills down to the single digits before the day was done, spitting snow all day long, gloom and what surely felt like a little doom blasting in from the West on what felt like gale force winds whether they actually were or not. Poor Steve worked out in the cold all day long on my arena...which is shaping up very nicely! I was complaining after twenty minutes of shooting photos in the horse pasture. I put on just my riding gloves because I thought that they would offer my hands enough protection but still allow me enough dexterity to handle the camera. The fact that after about fifteen minutes, I could no longer feel my fingers will account for some of the shakiness and odd composition (note the cut off heads in one) of these photos but I wanted to share them anyway. Note that Riley and Danny are just playing in the ones that look a lot like the Thrilla in Manila. Also note how big my nineteen month old Danny is; he's not a baby any more.