Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Culprit

It's been a long time since I posted anything and I apologize for that. It already promises to be an extraordinarily hot and muggy summer and it is just getting started. I don't do well with the heat, need to lose more than a few pounds, and so my outdoor activities are limited when it gets so overwhelmingly humid and sultry. It also doesn't help that I slipped in the mud yesterday after a lengthy thunderstorm and while trying to make my way quickly to the barn to check on the horses. Not to worry, nothing was broken but both my ego and a few limbs were badly bruised.

Still, Steve agreed to feed the horses their supper for me while I cooked dinner and stood safely in mainly one spot in front of the stove. I'd told him that it would be a piece of cake because I'd left up the rope that separates the pastures when the gates are open. Brandy was on one side and all of the others were in the upper pasture. I thought Steve would easily be able to feed Brandy her huge helping of food required to keep some weight on the girl's 33 year old frame without interference from the others. Unfortunately, "SOMEONE"  had chewed the rope in two.......wonder who? 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The return of the bear......Last night, when I was feeding the horses, Mouse became extremely alert and stood very tensely staring into the woods. It was nearly dark and my old eyes don't function well then so, even though I walked down toward the woods for a closer look, I couldn't see anything. Steve says, "Probably just a turkey or deer." I said, "Why would Mouse and the others react that way to something they see all of the time?" Mouse was very agitated and for her attention to be somewhere other than her food--it had to be something.

When I was feeding the horses today, Sadie, my dog, started 
barking very loudly and frantically at something in the woods. It was so different that even the horses looked up in that same alert way they did last night. Then Sadie came running like crazy out of the woods and went straight to my truck trying to get into the cab. She kept looking behind her....oh, I forgot to tell you about the roar, didn't I? There was a roar right before she came running out of the woods. Didn't see it so can't say for certain what it was roaring (but know what I think it was) but I can sure tell you...and Steve...that it wasn't no darn turkey or deer!
Sadie surprised me jumping in my truck last night so that she could return to the horse pasture. After we got there however, her behavior changed. She didn't run around playing and dashing into the woods like she usually does. No, last night, she was both mine and Steve's shadow. It was as if she was attached to our legs with invisible string because she stayed at our heels.

All of this has made me think of something. Years and years ago, at least fifteen but I'm thinking even longer (the memory is failing fast), we had friends visiting and we took them to Cades Cove to go horseback riding. It never fails, whenever I've gone on one those type of trail rides, I always get the crazy horse. Of course, they never tell you this until you're already in the saddle. As soon as I was seated, the guide handed me a stick and said, "This guy is a little loco. He'll probably try to stop on you or lag  behind and when he does, whack him on the shoulder with this stick." I asked if he was kidding me but he not only said no, he also didn't seem to have a sense of humor at all. 

So, off we go and old Loco, as I was now thinking of him, was behaving well. He started slowing down and we started falling behind the others. I tapped him, not whacked him, on the shoulder with the stick and Loco did not appreciate that at all. He snorted and turned his head so that he could bite at my leg. That kept us occupied for a while and then Loco actually speeded up a bit, catching up with the others but grumbling all of the time about this crazy woman they'd put on him. Then Loco suddenly stops, he tenses and he becomes extremely alert. I was ready to yield the stick again and angry enough at him to really whack him just like I'd been told to do but I then I looked to see what had caught his attention and stopped his feet from moving. Not fifteen feet away was standing a very large black bear. Trust me, it looked nothing like the cute little guy in that photo. Loco has decided it is time to move on but I yell, "Bear!" Instead of having the affect it should have and moving everyone on down the trail at an accelerated pace, just the opposite occurred, every other rider stopped their horses and began to "oooh and ahhh" over the bear as if they were watching it on TV or behind a sturdy fence in the zoo and not within swatting distance of those very large and sharp claws!

That is when I decided that old Loco wasn't so loco after all. He was probably smarter than all of us because the boy recognized danger when he saw it. We left the others and their obviously mentally inferior mounts in the dust as Loco and I decided to head toward safer territory. Old Loco is probably grazing in heavenly pastures now but I will always be grateful to him for that day. I think bears are lovely creatures but only when observed from a safe distance....like several miles instead of several feet!




Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Birthday Pictures

He's in dire need of grooming and that visit from the farrier which is coming up on Friday....shhhh, don't tell them. Only Mouse considers a pedicure a treat ;-) ....but he's still precious and adorable in my eyes. 









Happy Birthday Danny Boy!

Three years ago at this early hour, we were trying our best to welcome Danny into the world. One of his legs was still tucked inside mom, Mouse, and Steve and I were in panic mode. Mouse never seemed the least bit concerned. She was walking around and grazing in between efforts to push the boy out into the world. He's still a bit stubborn but ever sweet. You know I'll be posting photos later today. I'll be outside with the sunrise today. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Taken with my phone so this isn't the best shot but it shows 4 impatient horses (Riley is back there somewhere behind the other 3) waiting for Brandy to finish her lunch. Danny is trying his best to figure out how to unhook or else chew through that rope.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I was just telling my friend, Mary, this story and realized that I hadn't told about our Friday misadventures here. So, here is my email to Mary and I hope she doesn't mind me pasting and sharing it with all of you. :) Dan is doing fine but he gave me a scare on Friday. I was late getting over to the pasture to feed them and when I arrived, Danny was outside the fence. He's done this before. He's a Houdini just like his mama, Mouse! This time was different. About six or seven years ago, I went over one morning to find Mouse out and acting strangely. Like Danny, she didn't have to be led or coaxed back into the pasture. She was actually waiting on me at the gate and then she did something even odder especially for her, she refused food! It was Springtime but it was a cold, blustery day and neither Mouse nor I were prepared to be out all day with a strong wind blasting us and cold, sleet falling. But we were out from morning until five that afternoon when my vet finally could get to us. The vet had a day full of emergencies and my possibly colicky horse was low man on the totem pole of priorities. So, I walked her all day long until both she and my frozen feet and hands were protesting loudly. Unfortunately, when our vet arrived and after four hours of more endless walks and having several gallons of oil pumped into her, Mouse was no better and we ended up taking her to UT Vet Hospital in the middle of the night where she stayed for over a week and where, for the first forty-eight hours, they could not guarantee that she would live. So, you can imagine how all of that came rushing back when I find Dan not only waiting for me at the gate but laying his head up against me and whining, eager to go back into the pasture, and then refusing food! I went into a total panicky meltdown! I finally got him to take a few handfuls of sweet feed (which my vet later yelled at me about--I wanted to see if he'd eat anything.) but he seemed less than interested and kept yawning. I immediately called my vet. I got her mom at first who told me that it didn't sound like colic and then, on my second call when he tried to lie down and roll, I spoke with my vet and she told me the same thing. She told me that it was excessive rolling I needed to worry about and just to keep an eye on him for a few hours. I was of course worried when he wouldn't eat his hay but he made a bed out of it instead and lay down to sleep. I sat down beside him and stroked his head while he slept. I realized (and I know Val would say this is humanizing him and horses don't feel concern but...) that the odd, extremely affectionate behavior he was displaying were (I think) his concern over me because he could tell I was upset. I think he was just exhausted after his night out in greener pastures, lol.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Red Riley

Riley is the sweetest horse but he tends to be a bit standoffish by nature. That makes it even sweeter when he does what he did last night. Mouse was in one of her affectionate moods so after feeding them all, I crossed the fence again and went over to her and gave her a hug and scratched her withers. Danny was eating with her and he starts nuzzling me and rubbing his nose up and down my arm. That is sweet but it's more, "I don't want you noticing anyone but me," than it is true affection because when I turned to hug his neck he ignored me. Then I walked over and hugged Django who always checking to see if you brought him any treats. Danny followed and did the same notice me and then I'll ignore you routine, lol. I then walked hesitantly over to Riley because usually just approaching him makes him either walk away or turn his back to you but this time he looked up at me and I said softly, "Riley, I'm just going to give you a little hug." I wrapped my arms around his neck and buried my nose in his sweet mane. He didn't pull away at all. Instead, he hugged me back, gently wrapping his neck and head around my body and holding me close to him. That really made my heart smile. :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Danny made me think of a mime in a box today. Brandy sneaked into the food line up. Brandy, for those of you who don't know her, is my old Appy. She's at least 32 and most likely older. She has to be separated from the herd to get her special ration that's intended to keep weight on her. The others, easy keepers all, certainly don't need any extra weight so I feed them a "treat" of sweet feed twice a day by hand that seems to keep them satisfied. They line up along the fence and I go from one to the other giving them a handful of sweet grain. They show varying degrees of patience and absolutely no semblance of an actual desire to share with their herd mates but I've taught them to stand in their space and out of the horse's next to them...for the most part. Brandy use to stand apart from them during feeding, never daring to even get within view or one of them would come after her baring teeth and chasing her away. She began coming to the fence on the opposite side of the road about a month ago....she is a wise old girl. Not wanting to lose their place in line, the others would leave her alone. Recently, she's started getting braver and braver getting closer until she's actually lined up with the rest of them....or maybe that's sneakier and sneakier since she creeps in so quietly and stands so still seeming to hope the others won't notice her. When she stands beside the other two boys, she keeps her distance and I make the boys keep theirs. Those two usually "mind" me quite well. Danny is another matter. When she takes her place beside him, like she did this morning, he puts back his ears, strains his neck despite the fact that he's not stretching it that far, and with those neck muscles bulging and his lips trembling, he gets within a fraction of an inch of Brandy but he never actually touches her. I truly think that me saying his name is the invisible wall....or if not the actual speaking of his name, the tone I say it in, softly, quietly but with enough expression of authority to get my message across. ;-)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Horse of a Different Color

We are so very wet and muddy here in East Tenn. It's been almost non-stop rain for the last two days and it isn't due to stop until Thursday! The horses are doing a much better job maneuvering through all of this mess than I am but that doesn't keep worry wart me from getting anxious every time I see them cavorting in the slick mud. They gallop and leap into the air (something that I know Mouse has taught them to do because it is her favorite move, haha), they kick out and twist their bodies around in mid-air. They are having a wonderful time while I hold my breath expecting one of them to wreck and go sliding across the hillside. So far, no equine face plants but there evidently has been a lot of intentional rolling about in the mud because I now have five brown horses. Mouse, the gray horse, is incognito. ;-)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Warning Signs

Warning Signs
Love this painting by my extremely talented friend, Kathi Peters. Her website where you can see more of her absolutely wonderful work, http://kathipeters.com/ and her blog, http://www.cobcottage.blogspot.com/.

If I weren't a perpetually broke and drowning in debt artist myself, I would own this because it reminds me of Danny and something that happened this morning.

To preface this story, we have had a stray bear wandering around in our woods for several months now. When our neighbor first spotted it, I'd already noticed that my horses were behaving oddly for almost a week. They were not only jumpy and extremely cautious but they refused to go into the lower pasture. The larger of our two small barns is in the lower pasture. It is actually just a large run-in at the moment but it will protect them from wet and cold weather. Yet, since the appearance of the bear, no matter what Mother Nature is dishing out, they all stay on the exposed hillside of the upper pasture which has no shelter other than the feeble shade of a few tall, scraggly trees.

Today, Steve and I walked down to the lower pasture to examine the run-in which we plan to soon enclose and expand into a small barn. The horses stood on the hillside at the top gate which separates the upper pasture from the middle pasture and they were all alert as they watched us. I know that they were expecting the bear to come roaring out of the woods at any minute and eat us alive.

I whistled and Danny came running with me yelling the entire time, "Be careful! It's slick!" and "knowing" he understood me. Once he realized that there was no food to be had, he decided that he'd stick around for some love and affection which we readily provided. That boy loves attention and all of his attention was on us until Sadie, our dog, decided to start digging at the back of the barn. The usually calm and unspookable Danny went into a frenzy of kicking and then started to gallop straight toward the fence...with me yelling, "Watch out for the fence!"....and "knowing" that he understood me. Understanding my warning or not, he did not run through the fence but stopped and stood there with his ears up and listening intently. Now, I'm not saying that she did it on purpose but I'm sure if she'd realized his reaction, her actions would have been purposeful; Sadie started digging again and this time against something that made an incredible racket. I'm sure Dan thought that either the wayward bear or the hounds of hell  were behind that barn and coming straight for him because he started kicking and bucking and then took off at a gallop, once again not even slowing down to heed my warnings about the slick mud where the round pen use to be. He headed up the hill, leaping over a ditch and dancing through the slippery mud while occasionally giving a kick back toward whatever might be chasing him. His brother met him midway up the hill and ran beside him to the safety of their mother's side and the rest of the herd, all of whom were waiting, lined up behind the fence that evidently, in their minds, offers safety from any wild beast that might arise out of those scary woods surrounding the lower pasture.

Steve and I are now concerned that not even the sweetest of sweet feed will be temptation enough to lure the entire herd down to what will soon be their new digs. Their obvious fear expressed by this avoidance leaves me wondering what exactly did occur down there in that nook amongst the trees.