Friday, August 4, 2017

Saying Goodbye

You will find a change to the "Cast of Characters" noted on the right side of my Blog for Hank is no longer there.

It's been 25 days since we said goodbye to Hank and even as I write this, I get a lump in my throat and my eyes fill with tears.

Saying goodbye is always hard.  But J and I have both found that even after this period of time the pain of saying goodbye to Hank still lingers.

We've had many discussions about why the pain is still so raw and recognized that with our former dog Tucker, his body was still functional but his mind was failing.  Because he wasn't clearly cognizant of his surroundings saying goodbye to Tucker - although still painful, didn't produce the long-term pain of losing Hank.

Hank's mind was clear as a bell.  It was his body that had failed him.  Because he was cognizant of his surroundings it's been much harder to deal with his loss.

Bringing Ranger into the family prior to losing Hank was a good thing.  It was interesting to watch Hank show Ranger around the farm; i.e., we don't potty in the yard, we go out in the fields, etc.

But it was Hank's last trip to the cabin in July that gave us the biggest chuckle.  As soon as I opened the hatch to the back of my car the two dogs had jumped out and with Hank in the lead, they headed down to the huge pond near our cabin - the pond, Hank's very favorite place at the cabin.

Both dogs had returned soaking wet with big smiles on their faces.  Throughout the next six days the dogs would frequently go to the pond, initially both Hank and Ranger.

Yet as the days passed Hank's body became frail.  He would quietly lay in the front yard in the warm sun waiting for his pal Ranger to return from his swim.

Although we monitored Hank's activity at the cabin, those six days took their toll.  And yet as I reflect on his last days, there is no better way to leave us than that wonderful last trip to the cabin.

In these last twenty five days Ranger and I have returned to the cabin twice.  On our first trip Ranger had gotten out of the car and run to the exterior front porch door of the cabin, frantically pawing at the door.

I opened the door and Ranger ran to the inside front door of the cabin - pawing the door so hard I thought he'd break through it.  I'd opened the front door and Ranger had dashed inside, running from room to room.

...Ranger was looking for his friend Hank.

And I think he found him.

For Hank is in the cabin.

He's down at the pond.

He's out in our fields sniffing and wandering around.

And Hank is forever in all of our hearts.

Good Dog Hank

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Passing On The Torch

We watched him failing.

First with each month.

Then with each week.

And then with each day.

We agreed it was time.

Time to bring a new dog into our home.

Time to Pass on The Torch.

We took a trip to the dog breeder.  Into a barn and to a stall where the door was slid open and a waterfall of baby Chocolate Lab puppies spilled out.

I remember how heart breaking it was to be on this trip and how laughing at the attempt to keep all those puppies inside the stall felt good.

We were told us there was one other dog.  A 3 month old - inside the house.  Perhaps we might be interested in looking at him?  We agree.

Left alone we focused on getting the babies back into the stall, content to look through the bars at all those adorable puppies.

Suddenly something flashed past the barn door.

Once again it flashed past the door going the opposite direction.

We walked to the barn door and looked out to find a 3 month old puppy running free as the wind.

The love of life and joy of being free were apparent on his face.  J, my husband looked at me and asked me what I thought.  I pointed to that glorious, happy dog and said, "That one".

The Torch had been chosen.

We brought the youngster home.  C, our daughter, J and I sat down to name him.  Out of the blue C said, "How about Hank?"  We all laughed and agreed.

Hank would carry on The Torch.

Tucker's days were getting short and he was uncomfortable.  Yet he was gentle with Hank.  We watched with wonder as Tucker showed Hank around the property.

He knows.

The day to say goodbye to Tucker came too quickly.  With tears on our faces we returned home to Hank and found comfort in having him there to greet us.

The Torch had been Passed.

  Where do the years go?  So many balls and sticks...

And vacations...

Last night I dreamt Hank left us.  In my sleep I remember sobbing.  This morning I awoke to find him sleeping next to my side of the bed...something he hasn't done for a long time.

He knows.

We watch him failing.

First with each month.

Then with each week.

And now with each day.

We agreed.

It is time.

 Time to bring a new dog into our home.

Time to Pass on The Torch.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Long Time Gone

I've been a Long Time Gone.  When I last left my blog our daughter C, had returned to riding with both of us sharing Elvis.  We had moved Elvis down the road to a friend's place where we had the luxury of riding in her (spacious/private) covered arena.

Unfortuntely, our time of riding together didn't last long.  C's time is compromised with working and having a Significant Other.  Add the long commute to get out here/back to her home and she found herself with little time for anything else.

She returned to riding, rode like a dream, we had a lot of fun and then it was over.  But that's ok.  I'm left with the joy we had of sharing this special horse - and I know she feels the same. Add that I never expected us to return to a life we used to share.  So even if it was brief, I'm content to have been able to go back.

Elvis stayed away for the summer and early fall at the neighbor's place and in October I brought him back home.  Once home J and I spoiled "Our Boy" with deep shavings and a spacious foaling stall which opens to a paddock and the back winter pasture.  I know he's not a dog but he's about a dog as a horse can get!

Although Elvis has become friends with the neighbor's Alpacas, it has bothered me that he didn't have an equine buddy here to hang out with since we lost Bob a few years ago.

I started kicking that around - not in any hurry to find a pal, but keeping my ears open.  A few months passed and an opportunity came to us to "adopt" a horse from a women who was looking to find it a good home.

I invited the women over and showed her our place, had her meet Elvis and then accompanied her to meet her horse, finding it ironic that he should look like Bob.

It was a hard decision for her to let him go - something I understand and respect.  But a week later Elvis had a new buddy.

Riley is a domesticated Mustang from Eastern Oregon.  And just as Bob was, he's a sensitive horse who needs a different approach than Elvis.

The horses hit it off immediately.  Riley knows how to be a horse, whereas Elvis is missing some of that.  We're thrilled to have Riley join us and enjoy watching the horses interact.

It's been a rough winter that has lasted longer than normal.  As spring shows her pretty face I'm looking forward to working with both horses and finding time to return to this blog and share my stories.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Saturdays are now about Elvis, C and I hauling down to the Double Star Ranch for our weekly lesson.

I enjoy loading the trailer in preparation of our day together.  I find that after years of being a Show Mom, the task of loading the trailer comes naturally and brings back lots of happy memories.

If there's one thing I've learned about Elvis it's that he loves repetition.

The Double Star is a huge farm.  They raise and winter Thoroughbreds.  Our arrival in the trailer is always met with many horses calling out their greetings and/or running around in excitement.

The hands on from Elvis and my daily walks to/from our barn to the front summer pasture have done us well.  He leads like butter and although curious about all the activity upon our arrival, he is calm and steady.

C's first time up on Elvis reminded me of someone who hadn't ridden a bike in a long time.  Initially it was a bit awkward and off balance.  But within minutes it all came back to her.  What a special moment it was!  Her posture and balance returned and her timing clicked into place.

C and I work together on our weekly trip.  There is no need to discuss who does this or who does that as we travel, unload, saddle up, ride, unsaddle, load back up, etc.  Just like loading the tack in the trailer, the other tasks come naturally.

C usually rides first and I follow second.  We are taking two hour lessons which allows us to relax and really focus on whatever concept we're working on.

Elvis is still out of shape (although getting better).  He's worn out by the time we finish.  But before we leave he gets a nice warm bath as a reward for his efforts and just like repetition, Elvis loves being pampered.

We're hoping to board Elvis at the Double Star as winter weather sets in and the roads get crummy. Also looking at the future and another horse to join Elvis so that C and I can ride together.  And Horse shows are definitely part of our plan!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Exciting Times of a New Chapter and a New Page!

I haven't posted something for a long time.  There have been changes taking place and I wanted things to settle down before I wrote about them.

There are some exciting changes for us.

After finishing college, starting her career and getting her own place, C has returned to horses.  This is really exciting for J and I.  We have lots of fond memories as a family unit hauling C and her horse to schooling shows, 4H shows and breed shows.

Memories like this one.  Here we are getting ready to haul C's first horse, Charlie, to their weekly lesson.  Which we did for years...every...single...Wednesday...evening...winter, fall, spring and summer.

When C moved on in her life I inherited her horse Champ.  She had shown him in 4H and on the Paint circuit.  He had lots of buttons and was an aggressive, big stinker.

I started 50+Horses about all of my experiences with Champ.  It's all here - years ago and always fun to look back on.

Which brings up a New Chapter.

For years I boarded at the B40 and took lessons from my Frainer (friend and trainer).  I met many great people there and those friendships still continue.

The B40 has done well and is now a top hunter/jumper barn.

My Frainer has also done well, moving to her own barn and specializing in roping and cattle.

I wish them both the very best and will always hold fond memories of my time with them close to my heart.

But it's a new day and a New Page with C riding by my side and J supporting us on the rail.

C and I are setting both of our stars on the fun of performance shows and ironically have chosen the Double Star Ranch (C and Me/Double Stars!) as our new barn where we have started training with an old friend who has lots of show miles under her belt.

These days there is only one horse in the 50+ family.  C and I are currently sharing Elvis, who is proving to be a Rock Star (no wonder his registered name is Rock On Hunter), as we start this New Chapter and Page in our lives with horses.

Stay tuned on posts about our training adventures and future first show as well as our search for another special horse to join our family team!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Summer Routine 2015

It's been a warm, dry summer of 2015.



We have multiple fires burning on the east side of the Cascade Mountains.

Sometimes the smoke drifts over the mountains, limiting visibility and burning our eyes.  Many have lost their homes, ranches and livestock.  Many don't know if their places will be there tomorrow.
It's a rough time for Washington State...

Elvis is still our only horse.

Due to fire danger I've been putting him in the foaling stall/paddock each night so he's easy to reach should we have to leave.

Each morning I refill the front pasture water tank and take my walk with Hank and Hobo, our barn cat.  On my return I go to the barn to get Elvis - who always greets me with whinnies and nickers.

I add his cologne (bug spray) and put on his party hat (fly mask) and lead him down to the front pasture gate where I turn him out for the day.

In the evenings, after cleaning his stall, water tank and putting his dinner out, I repeat the routine of bringing him back.

This routine has become a special time which we both enjoy.  An added plus is that My Boy now drops his head for the party hat and leads like creamy butter.  :)

Elvis is one of those horses you can pull out of the pasture and with a bit of ground work, have a great ride.  But I haven't ridden Elvis a lot this summer.  I've been bothered by a sore shoulder and when the temp gets up towards 90 degrees I don't think either of us enjoy riding.

Elvis is an easy keeper - too easy.  I've struggled with weight issues and wanting him to be out in the pasture all day.  I tried a grazing muzzle.  By placing a few pieces of carrots in it before I put it on I soon had a very cooperative horse more than willing to put on his muzzle.  All I have to do it pick up the muzzle and Elvis is trying to put it on.

The muzzle worked well and Elvis lost his "fat".  The rich grass has turned brown and dry and Elvis is now off the muzzle and maintaining his lower weight.  I'll use the muzzle again next spring and avoid the issue and danger of weight gain.

Our summer routine has been low key and lazy.  But fall is around the corner and arrives some new opportunities.

My Frainer will be working out of a different barn very close to our place.  It's the barn where C rode Champ, now ten years ago!  This barn holds many fond memories.  Elvis and I plan to take the 5 minute drive down to ride with My Frainer.

C and I have also reconnected with a friend who used to show paints with C.  She's probably 7 minutes away.  I plan to also ride with her.  C may join us.

A new horse may be on the horizon...

Friday, March 13, 2015

All I Ever Wanted Was A Horse

The first words out of my mouth as a child were, "I want a horse".

Every year my parents asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  
Every year I said I wanted A Horse.

Every year my parents asked me what I wanted for my Birthday.
Every year I said I wanted A Horse.

My parents went on trips and asked me what I'd like them to bring me back.
I told them to bring me back A Horse.

Year in and year out all I ever wanted was A Horse.

My dream came true when I bought my first horse as I entered into my 40's.  It was a hard-headed and not very popular decision at the time.  But I knew that if I didn't do it at this point in my life that I would never do it.

My life-long dream would be crushed.

...I just couldn't let that happen.  

Soon we had two horses, then three and at one point I recall (gleefully) telling people we had a whole hand of horses (five).

We bought a horse trailer.

We bought a larger truck.  

We upgraded to a brand new horse trailer.  

We upgraded to a bigger brand new truck.  

We sold our house near the beach and moved out to the country where we could keep our horses on our own property.  

We've rescued horses.

We've doctored horses.

We've spent nights with sick horses.

...And we've put horses down.

In the past ten years on the Double S Ranch there have always been two, sometimes three horses on our pastures.

But today we only have one horse - Elvis.  

I've been asked if we're going to add another horse to our family and for the first time in almost twenty years ago, I sense changes in the wind.

I'm 61 years old and am blessed to have a nine-year old horse of my dreams.  He is everything (and more) than I ever could imagine.

I look back on my past with fond, loving memories of the horses we've had.

But our future may be the horse outside my window right now.

I've met and achieved my dream.

All I Ever Wanted Was A Horse.