Friday, December 30, 2011


As I move into 2012, I do so with bittersweet memories. 

We lost two wonderful horses in 2011.

We lost Bear.  He was a kind, old soul.  Bear lived a fine life with us but his time to leave arrived in September.

And we tragically lost Poco, one of the Great Ones.

As sad as these losses were, there were also good things that happened in 2011:

In February I was kicking around buying my next horse but hadn't established exactly what I was looking for.  My Cowgirl Pals invited me to join them while they practiced moving some cattle.  It took less than five minutes of watching from outside the fence to realize that this was something I wanted to try. 

In those first five minutes I knew that I wanted a horse that had been around cows.

I found Bob at the end of May.  I had no idea how Bob would change my world.

A few weeks after I bought Bob I got to "ride with the cows".  It was great fun!

Bob (far left) and I started going on adventures with my Cowgirl Pals.

We even went by ourselves, a big step in independence and confidence for both of us.

Bob and I hauled up to our old barn and took lessons from my friend and trainer (Frainer).  We stayed at the barn and took a break.  A few hours later we then rode in Ladies Nights during the evenings.  I'll never forget hauling home in the deep red sunsets, exhausted but so happy and content that I thought I'd burst.

We sorted more cows and started to get better at it.

We watched and we learned.

And we bonded and became one team. 

2011 - It was a year of joy and sorrow, of challenges and accomplishments.  My experiences in 2011 have made me stronger.  I look forward to meeting 2012.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I Can't Stand It!!!!

Every day I look out to see it silently glaring at me.  In its silence it taunts me.  I can hear it..."Oh come on!  Everybody is out there having fun and the three of us are sitting here at home!  Come ON!  I know you miss me as much as I miss you!"

I can't deny I do miss it. 

...As much as I miss riding Bob, which I haven't even sat on since early November because it has rained when I had time to ride and been nice when I haven't had time to ride.

Recently it's started to silently plead with me..."Pretty Please?  Hook me up and let's go have some fun!"

I can't stand it! 

It's right; it's time to go have fun.

We're done sitting home!  We're heading out on the road to join in the adventures of my Cowgirl Pals.

Stay Tuned!

Friday, December 23, 2011

As Christmas Approaches

As Christmas Approaches, our daughter has returned home from College, bringing the Holiday Spirit with her, which has been missing around here with our recent tragedies.  She went on a baking spree and whipped up sugar and gingerbread cookies.  She whipped up so many of them that we couldn't give away or consume them all.  I've even added some to the horses' grain at night.

When our daughter was little she loved to go with us to the tree farms in our area to pick out and cut our tree.  Then we went through "the stink-eye phase" where she had no interest in our annual adventure.  This year we've come through the "other side" and she was again with us, helping us choose our tree and also doing the decorating.

Tuna the Mighty Hunter has been assisting us with decorating (or should I say undecorating).  This is her second tree and for some reason this year's tree has been more interesting to her than last year's (kitten) tree.

If you note the picture above, you'll see a nice tidy rug underneath the tree.

I can't count the times Tuna has drug that rug around the house.  I keep putting it back only to find it in some other room.

We've also had the same issue with Christmas Stockings and decorations.  Tuna drags them from one end of the house to the other.  She sits next to them and howls until somebody comes to see what she has "caught".  Once we arrive she sits proudly next to her "catch".

So as Christmas Approaches, if we can get the rug back underneath the tree, figure out where all the ornaments have gone to and place the stockings back next to the fireplace, I'm thinking all will be well.

Wishing you all Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

First Signs of Healing

It's been an adjustment going to the barn.  Poco used to be our meeter/greeter.  He was one of the few horses I've encountered who knew his name and always came when called.  I thought that was pretty special.  But then, Poco was special.

Now days who is always there to greet me?  It's Gus. 

Initially I couldn't even look at him.  I fed him in silence, tossing his hay inside on the ground of the large double stall which he used to share with Poco instead of placing it in the feeder off of the ground. 

I ignored Gus as he stood at the fence watching me.  I filled his water trough in silence, rolling up the hose and returning back to the house without a single acknowledgement of the large horse that stood there.  I attended Gus in stony silence with as minimal interaction as possible. 

As days passed I was able to glance at Gus.  I could see the confusion and sadness in his eyes.  One could tell that Gus knew he was in trouble but he didn't understand why.

Gus doesn't know what he's done wrong.

Ten days ago I used to greet Gus with a "Hi Gussie!"  He'd stand and wait for me in the pasture when I went in to see him.  He'd loved it when I threw my arms around his massive neck to hug him.  I'd place my arms and cold fingers underneath his thick mane where they'd quickly warm up.  Sometimes I'd get as much of me under there as I could to get warm and toasty, inhaling the wonderful scent of horse.

The massive horse had always stood quietly, almost purring.  He'd never move an inch until I removed my arms and stepped away.  Even then he'd wait a few minutes before moving forward, asking for more hugs. 

I never used to think twice about hugging Gus, even when he ate.  I felt safe in his presence.  I used to love hugging this massive animal with the kind brown eyes as much as he loved receiving the affection.

One of the comments I received when I wrote of Poco's loss was from a reader who reminded me that horses live in the moment. I knew this yet in my pain and anger of loss, I'd forgotten.

Today as I write this I am no longer angry although I still hurt and am sad. I recognize this as a good sign, the first sign of healing. It's not good to carry anger and I know that with time the hurt and sadness will diminish.

Yesterday I took a step in healing.  I went out into Gus's pasture and walked up to him.  I opened my arms and before I could raise them, Gus lowered his head to me and buried it in my arms.  I held that massive head and cried.  I cried for that silly mule-eared Appaloosa and I cried for the golden horse who doesn't know what he did wrong.  Eventually my tears stopped.  Sniffling, I removed my arms and stepped back to look up at Gus.

To see tears in his eyes.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Life Happens

Thursday....A week ago sure does seem like a long time ago.  A week ago today, I had the Vet out to give Dentals to Poco and Bob.  I had booster shots given to Gus, Bob and Poco.  It was a costly venture to do during the holidays but Bob was in need of a dental so I went ahead and had both horses done, with the thought that both would be in fine riding form afterwards.

Friday....I discovered, thanks to Mrs. Cravitz's Post on losing her horse Poncho, that what looked ok out in the pasture wasn't.  Her initial description of Poncho's initial signs of distress mirrored how Bob was acting. 

I discovered Bob in what the Vet referred to as Stage 2 Colic.  He was still drinking a small amount of water and had done a #2, but was running a high fever.  He was having a reaction to the booster shots.  A dose of Benamine, a night inside a stall without food (where we could check water intake and "output") resulted in a sleepless night for my husband and I.

Saturday...the low 20 degree dawn reflected Bob with a normal fever and looking/acting better.  We spent that day looking out the widow every half hour or so to make sure all was well.  I was so exhausted by the event that I passed on the yearly evening Christmas Parade in town, something we always look forward to attending.

Sunday...Well, I guess if you read my Posts, you already know about Sunday.  Another visit from the Vet and the pickup of our loved horse, resulted in about the same cost as Thursday's visit for dentals and shots. 


Monday...kinda in a daze I guess, I didn't notice anything odd in the kitchen until dinner time when I went to open the fridge and found the food inside wasn't cold.  Our fridge had died.


Tuesday and Wednesday...fridge shopping, getting what I want for the best price. 

Thursday (today)....fridge is purchased but won't arrive for 7 days.  I'm thankful for the one out in our garage...

I'm one who prefers to look at the glass of life as half full but this last week has been a test of that philosophy.  There's a saying that things come in Threes...hopefully we're finished.

Life happens...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gus Must Go

We don't bring a horse into our home lightly.  We don't make a habit of buying and selling our horses.  Our intentions are that they live with us for the rest of their lives. 

I know I'm raw from losing Poco this week but I'm going to break our life long rule when it comes to Gus.  It was Gus who pinned Poco in the large double stall (where there was plenty of room and food), bucking out and kicking Poco on the middle of his left leg, shattering it.

And outside the stall, where Poco had drug himself while we initially examined him, in shock from what we saw, it was Gus who had initially stood there quietly observing us, only to back up to Poco and start bucking at him once again, while we stood at Poco's head. 

He got direct hits on Poco in the flanks along with the worst, a direct hit on Poco's injured leg...the agony of pain that crossed Poco's face...words can't explain.  That visual and the loss of a horse who always avoided conflict at all costs, prompts me to pursue removing Gus from our home.

I will never again feel comfortable about putting Gus in with other horses.  While Gus remains here he will live in solitary confinement.

Yes, I am bitter and I am angry about what happened.  Not only angry at Gus but angry at myself.  If I would have had any idea that there would be a conflict I would never had put them together.  They've lived together before, peacefully, wintering together.  Poco's evasive personality for conflicts and Gus's easy nature don't correlate to what happened that day.

I've told my husband Gus must go.  He agrees.  But go where?  Am I passing something on that could possibly hurt someone else's horse?

So I struggle with whether I should offer Gus to another home or if I should have him put down.  It's an ugly decision either way and something I'm not proud of. 

But forgiving and forgetting are not an option.  What would you do?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Not Enough Time

As I start this Post the truck is coming down our road and up our drive.  It was just here a few months ago.  I didn't expect I'd see it again for a long, long time. 

I never want to see it again.
My husband has gone out to greet the driver and do the duty.  I'm a chicken when it comes to this.  I can't be out there.  I hide, here in the safety of the house.  Hank The Dog knows something is wrong.  He is leaning against my leg and whining.  I can hear Bob and Gus whinnying outside.  I can't stand the sound.  I cover my ears.

I want to go back in time to four hours ago when we were talking about putting up Christmas lights and finishing decorating the tree. 

Four hours ago when I took Hank out for our morning walk. 

Four hours ago when there was a terrible banging in the barn which could even be heard inside the house. 

Four hours ago my husband and I both ran to the barn to find Poco coming out of the large double stall which he has shared peacefully with Gus for two winters.  He was on three legs.  His back left leg swung crazily at an odd angle. 

How could this have happened???????!!!!!!!!  Gus and Poco have always gotten along.  There was plenty of hay in the double stall they share but for some reason Gus had kicked Poco, shattering his upper leg.  Gus then proceeded to buck/kick Poco outside the stall as my husband and I came upon the scene.  You never saw two people move a 2,500 lb. horse out of there as quickly as we did.

While we waited for the vet, I fed Poco apples and grain.  It wasn't enough time to tell Poco how much I loved him.  How he is Noble, one of the Great Ones.  We are supposed to have months and months to spend with our loved horses before we put them down.  Not merely minutes.

Yet it was too much time as Poco suffered in pain.  My husband bringing out his gun, telling me that if it takes much longer he is going to have to do the deed.  Both of us in agony, both of us in pain, trying not to panic.

The vet arrived.  The deed was done....

The truck is now leaving...I will NOT look out the window as it leaves.  Yet I do look out the window, whispering Goodbye to Poco...I love in peace.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Loss of Poncho

One of my favorite blog writers, Mrs. Cravitz, has sufferred the loss of a special horse, Poncho.  She has beautifully documented him in her current post. 

If you have a moment, please stop by and send condolences to Mrs. Cravitz ( in her loss of her noble horse, Poncho.



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Starting up the Holidays

With Thanksgiving behind us it's time to get ready for the holidays.  Our daughter, home from college, loves the holidays.  Her enthusiasm always gets us motivated to pull the boxes of decorations out of the attic and start the process of decorating both inside and out.

Yesterday was a good day to decorate outside.  We had temps in the upper 50's and that yellow stuff that gleams out of the sky...I think it's called sunshine.  :)  Daughter and Dad had headed out to decorate in one direction.  I headed in the other direction, wanting to get the horses out of their pastures and give them a good clean-up before the rains return.

I got Poco out first and took him for a walk down our road to see how my other two family members were doing.  I found them halfway down the road, hanging lights on the fence of the summer pasture now vacant for the rest of the year.

Father and Daughter.  It was a good feeling to watch them working together as a team while the neighbor dog (who has claimed us as her family) stood by.

I returned to the barn, and brought Gus and Bob out to join Poco.  With the short days, heavy rain and winds we've recently had, I haven't had much opportunity to get my hands on the horses. 

Bob in particular was goosy when I first got him out.  Bob is a sensitive horse and after a full summer and fall, I think he's been missing my interaction with him.  I spent extra time doing ground work, brushing and talking to him on this warm, sunny day.  It made a huge difference and I could sense we were reconnected when I finished.

I would have loved to ride on a day like this but I'm sitting my rides out until Bob and Poco have their teeth done this week.  Both are in need of dentals.

My husband, now finished with decorating, joined me to brush out Gus and kindly clean all twelve feet.  By the time we had returned everybody to their pastures and fed it was after 4PM and getting dark.  We both hated to leave the barn so we lingered there for another hour, finally closing the barn door to brushed out horses happily munching on their dinners.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Peace in the Pasture, Peace in the House

There is something we've learned throughout the years about having multiple horses.  It's called Peace in the Pasture(s).  It's important that everybody gets along, can rest, eat and drink in peace.  It's the reason Poco and Gus are wintering together and Bob is next door.  It's not how I'd prefer it to be and you can bet it's not how Bob would prefer it, but so far, so good.

Inside the house peace is also important.  We have Tuna the Mighty Hunter.  Here she is "guarding" the fish (or so she'd like us to think). 

And we have Hank the Dog, coming to his name (or so I'd like to think).

I was a bit apprehensive about bringing the two of them together.  Would we have peace in the house?

I didn't need to worry.

Ahhhh.  Peace in the pasture.  Peace in the house.   It's a good thing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2011 - A Day to Give Thanks

Here it is again, Thanksgiving.  In the past two weeks I've noticed some homes and stores already have holiday lights up.  I hear holiday music playing as I shop.  Seems like many have passed Thanksgiving right by for the holidays.

Thanksgiving seems to have become the door to opening the holidays instead of a day to give thanks.  I know times are tough but surely there is one little tiny thing that all of us can find to be grateful for on Thanksgiving.  With that being said, here are my 2011 top ten reasons to Give Thanks on this special day - starting with Number 10:

Number 10.  From late spring until (this year) August, I faithfully watered them every evening.  It took me almost an hour to water them all.  My husband had suggested getting a soaker hose to use instead of hand watering.  But I found hand watering them to be such a soothing task - standing there with the hose, daydreaming about whatever came to mind, watching the horses grazing, looking out at the mountains.  I'm thankful for the beauty they provided, waving in the wind against the fence:
My Daisies
Number 9.  The Cabin.  After a 15 month absence, I'd forgotten how much I missed it.  I went up there in October to meet a friend and ended up spending a couple of days by myself.  I got back in touch with this home away from home and also got to validate myself, who I am and what I am.  I'm thankful to know it's there, waiting for me when I return:
The Cabin on a prior Thanksgiving
Number 8.  The Perfect Camping Spot makes the list again for the third year.  So peaceful and beautiful, always waiting to greet us each year.  We found this spot by accident.  I'm thankful for the discovery:
The Perfect Camping Spot
Number 7.  My Cowgirl Pals.  So much fun to hang around with!  They offered me their friendship and invited me to join them on their adventures this last year.  They opened up a new world of riding to me that I'd always wanted to try.  I'm thankful to have such great Cowgirl Pals!
Lisa and Quincy

Bob and Me; Georgia and her horse Paisley; Kyle and her horse Elbe

Bob and I, Rachel in front of us, Nancy in the background
Number 6.  Ladies Night.  Seven weeks of fun, with a new theme of riding each week.  I'd only had Bob a few weeks when Ladies Nights started.  Ladies Night provided a great avenue to get to know Bob better.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to attend and ride with such talented Ladies:
Ladies Night
Number 5.  Around our house we have a word for our animals that are the best of the best.  We call it Noble.  Poco holds the honor of this title.  He is the most incredibly sweet, dependable horse I've ever encountered.  I'm thankful to have Poco, one of the Noble:
Poco one of the Noble
Number 4.  My friend and trainer (frainer), Rachel Koehler, also one of my Cowgirl Pals.  As a trainer Rach has that knack of telling you what you need to hear in a way that makes you happy you heard it.  I've taken lessons from her for years and our relationship has blossomed from that of trainer to friend.  I'm thankful to Rachel for helping me become the rider I always wanted to be and helping me set my sights on where I want to go in the future:
Rachel test riding Bob
Number 3.  He opened doors for me this summer and allowed me to go places and do things I'd only dreamed of.  I could go on and on about him but if you read my Posts, you already know how much I love this guy and how thankful I am to call him mine:
Number 2.  Returned twice, we were his third rescue family.  He could have been afraid of us, he could have been defensive and wary, yet he trusted us.  They don't come much sweeter than this guy.  We lost him in September.  We are thankful have had him in our family.  He is missed.
Number One:  He never hesitates to encourage me when it comes to horses.  Always willing to pitch in and help be it hauling for me when I'm intimated by driving the dually on congested freeways, harrowing fields, stacking bales of hay, you name it and he's there to lend a hand when it comes to the labor and care of our horses.  I'm thankful for his love and support.  I love this guy with all of my heart:
My Husband

Wishing You and Yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shutting it Down for Winter

I've lost count of how many times I loaded up my trailer this spring, summer and fall.  I had a routine.  I'd load up my tack first thing in the morning, when I was out for my morning walk with Hank The Dog.  Hank and I would then head in for my morning cup of coffee.  Sometimes it was already so hot outside that I'd find myself covered with sweat when I came back into the house.  On those mornings my ritual of a morning cup of coffee didn't appeal much to me.

I learned to give myself plenty to time to get to where I was going.  I bought Bob in late May with only a one week tryout.  I didn't know much about his personality.  I found that one good way to get to know your horse is to haul him places and that the more you haul together the better your relationship gets.  I found Bob to be "sensitive" but was pleased to also find him to be "adaptable".  Bob is the kind of horse that once he checks something out, doesn't question it any further.

I took this picture on Bob.  This was my favorite trip of the summer.  We'd gone to a local cattle sorting event solo, totally on our own for the first time.  It was a liberating experience and one of the highlights of the summer.  And oh those warm evenings....

But all things must come to an end.

Last week some friends invited me to join them one morning to practice sorting cows.  I didn't even think twice before I agreed to not only go but to also pick up a Cowgirl Pal and her horse along the way.  I told my Cowgirl Pal that I'd meet her at her barn early so we'd get to the practice with time to spare. 

Home alone because it was hunting season, I caught the weather forecast as I was heading to bed.  They talked of lows in the 20's, fog and icy road.  Oh no!  I tossed and turned all night, worried about driving my one ton dually and hauling horses on icy roads with unforgiving 8 foot drainage ditches to greet us should we slide.

I awoke to find everything frozen.

The bird bath was frozen.

Poco was frozen (actually he wasn't but he looked that way).

I followed my routine of loading my tack ahead of time but couldn't get the trailer door opened because the trailer and truck were both covered in ice.  I returned to the house to wrap my chilled hands around my very appealing morning cup of coffee.  After I finished my coffee I went back out and finally got the door opened.

I drove on the ice as if I was driving on glass, telling myself to try to not hurry because I was running late.  I told myself to keep it low and slow.  My Cowgirl Pal (bless her heart) was waiting with her horse in hand.  We were loaded and on our way within minutes.  We got to the practice and hurried to unload our horses. 

I wasn't even finished saddling up Bob and they were calling my name to take my first run.  I was stressed from the drive and poor Bob was riding right along on my emotions.  Minutes later without any of our preliminary ground work, Bob and I were moving our first cows. 

Bob was so tense I felt like I was sitting on a board.  I had this sinking feeling we were a recipe for disaster.  When Bob spooked, sprinting sideways all the way across the pen, I almost fell off but at the last minute regained my balance.  Quite a crowd had gathered to watch the proceedings.  I recall thinking as we flew along sideways that I'd be darned if I was going to fall off in front of them.

The old me would have called it a day and gotten off.  The new me carried on - a testament to how much my confidence has grown this year.  Eventually as I kept riding things got better. 

My Cowgirl Pal and I were both chilled by the time we finished.  We were off our horses after shaking our legs out to get the circulation back, loaded up and on our way home minutes later.  With the sun now up and the roads clear, it was an uneventful drive back home. 

But I knew as I pulled into our barnyard that I was finished hauling for the year.  As I write this it's sleeting outside.  Snow is predicted tonight.  It's time to shut it down for the winter.  I'm sad to see it end but I'm left with great memories of the times I've had and wonderful people I met.  You can bet Bob and I will be back on the road next spring.