Monthly Archives: July 2017

The Old Grey Mare………

“The Old Grey Mare, She Ain’t What She Used To Be.”  A cute old song I remember from my childhood.  To me, it was like “Old Mac Donald.”  Something you sang for fun but really didn’t relate too.  Now that I’m the “Old Grey Mare”, it’s taken on a whole new meaning.  The funny thing is I can’t remember the whole song.

What I do know is that there are a lot of horse people my age, who really believe, that their riding years are behind them.  That their bodies can’t do it anymore, and that they need to sit on the sidelines and just watch and remember the “Good Ole Days.”

I’ve been communicating with a person who was in this category, the last couple of days.  Went to a site on Facebook for a reason I can’t remember, and came across an ad for a Horse For Sale.  Well I was looking for a horse so I read the ad.  It was for an 18 yr. old TB Gelding, the girl was going off to college.  Well I really wasn’t interested in a Thoroughbred, but the age sounded good.  My friend is in her 60’s, doesn’t want to jump anymore.  Just wants to do flat work, trail ride, groom, bathe, and have a horse to love on.  She had come to me to try and take a lesson, feeling that her body couldn’t do it anymore, but something in the back of her mind told her to try.  (I’m sure I told you all about this before)  She called me to cancel because she didn’t feel like she could do it.  I told her to come and just brush a horse.  She did and she has been riding ever since.  It’s been a couple of years now.  She’s now ready to get her own horse to love on.

So I replied to the ad.  Explained the age and experience of the person the horse would be for, and what she wanted from the horse she was going to buy.  The girl was really interested in my friend taking the horse, but the person I was dealing with was not the actual owner of  the horse, this woman had just posted the ad for the girl.  She explained that she was a little older than my friend and was interested in the fact that she was going back into horses at her age.

We’ve been communicating back and forth the last couple of days.  She says that she likes my attitude.  I simply just told her that our minds have a different outlook on our ability to ride again, than our hearts.  Our minds tell us that we are too old, that our bodies can’t handle it anymore.  We could get hurt.  Yes we could, we always could, but when we were younger we bounced a little better.  I explained to her that we still can ride, but we have to make some adjustments to accommodate our age and worn out body parts.  Sometimes all we really need is a lawn ornament to brush and tell our troubles to.  There are a lot of older horses out there that need homes and attention, but can’t do what they used to do either.

If horses are a part of your heart, don’t give into the idea that you are too old.  That those days are behind you.  Yes our wild, crazy days maybe behind us, but there is so much more to riding and loving horses than what we remember.  It’s not about having the horse that can jump the highest, gallop the fastest, turn the barrel the quickest.  It’s about the feeling of being on something that’s more powerful, more alive than we are.  It’s about the love, and communication between human and a majestic animal that God had created.  “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”  Winston S. Churchill

We used to want the latest style on clothes, the hottest shoes, the fastest car.  Now we want to wear things that are comfortable, and drive a car that is safe.  It’s the same with horses.  We want something safe, and sane.  He doesn’t have to be the picture perfect example of equine flesh.  No matter what he/she looks like, if they are happy to see us and share our deepest thoughts, that’s the horse we want.  If we can go for a trail ride safely, or just walk around in a circle just to keep our (both horse and human) arthritis at bay, that’s the horse for me.  If they just want to share a carrot and just hang out and watch the sunset, what more can you ask for.

You’re never too old to own a horse, just maybe to old to do what you used to do.  It’s not right or wrong, it’s just different.  Find a companion that wants to do the same things you want to, or are able to do.

When I was a kid my instructor used to say when we were jumping –  “Throw your heart over the fence first, and your body will follow.”  It’s not our bodies that keep us from horses, it’s our minds.  Satisfy your hearts desire and the mind will follow.  Just make the right choice in a horse.  Like I used to tell my lesson kids, “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find that prince.”

We all are approaching Midnight.  The clock will eventually strike twelve, but until it does, put on your glass slipper and “Dance” like no one is watching.  Listen to your heart and body, the mind will follow.

By the way, the woman is coming on Monday to get back on a horse, she’s 78 yrs. young and just wants to have that feeling one more time.

Sometimes I Just Think Too Much

So today my friend emailed me and told me her dog crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  Hit me hard, they weren’t expecting it, and it came too close to me losing a horse and two dogs.

So I started thinking about my dogs who had just passed.  I didn’t give them as much of my attention as I think I should have.  According to other people I did, but you always wonder if you did enough.  So I thought about Holly.  She was the chow cross.  I picked her up off the street.  She never really wanted a lot of attention.  A scratch on the belly as you went by, but really was never a lap dog that looked for your constant love.  Rain, my Jack Russell, lavished more kisses on others than myself.  I always wondered if she really enjoyed being my dog.  At the end, we cleared all that up.

But I thought about the differences with all my dogs and how they each had their own needs and how much attention they would like at any given time.  Some were happy just having a home and a good meal.  One of the Catahoulas would like to be a 35 lb. lap dog.  The other just wants to hang with you some of the time.  Some of my dogs you couldn’t even go to the bathroom without.  Some didn’t care where you went.

This brought me to the book “The Five Love Languages.”  It explains how each of us feel loved by different ways.  Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.  Apparently dogs do too.

Then my thinking evolved to the horses, and do they have different love languages?  Looking at the two standing in front of me at the time, indeed they do.  Zoey loves for me just to sit in the pasture.  She’ll come up and just hang with me while I hold a one-sided conversation.  Friday on the other hand likes physical touch.  Grooming, bathing, having her face wiped with a cool wash cloth.  Zoey loses patience when I don’t groom her fast enough.  Fri could spend all day being fussed over.  Then my mind wandered to my other horses.  Dawn loved hanging with people.  I always said she’d be happy to sit on the couch with you, eat popcorn and watch TV.  Some liked the personal attention and some just liked knowing what time dinner was served.

I spoke with a vet friend about this and she said it all comes back to the Chinese and the Five Elements.  Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood.  How each person and horse is one of them, and how we either complement each other, or lock horns.

There is more to this life than we can imagine.  I can’t even begin to think I could learn all of this and figure it out at this point in my life.

So back to my original thought.  We all have a different need as to how we feel loved.

When you have nothing else to think about while cleaning stalls, think what makes each of your animals feel the most loved, and act on it before the chance slips away.

It wouldn’t hurt in our human relationships either.  What makes you feel loved by your animals or a person?  I love when an animal just wants to be with me for no reason.  I guess I feel that way about my husband and friends too.

Stall cleaning thinking.

It’s A Puzzlement

I wrote this a while ago and never posted it.  Just found it.

The title comes from the Broadway Play and movie “The King And I.”

Just couldn’t think of a title that expressed what I’m feeling and what this is about.  It’s almost like a TV detective program.  I’ve touched on these ideas before, but this week has been full of detective work.  Uncovering the hidden clues.  I really like this part of my job.  Sometimes I’m right, and then sometimes, not so much.

Case Number 1.  Got a new boarder in.  A very large Warm Blood who is down on his weight.  He’s 20.  Not old for me, but the owner and most of the world, consider him to be “Old.”  Went through the usual questions about a new horse in my care.  Got good information, but there were several pieces to the puzzle I thought were missing.  Like really why is he thin.  What the owner told me made perfect sense, but I was not comfortable with it all.  So sleuthing I will go.  He was on a well-known senior feed.  But I’ve seen this many times before.  For whatever reason, the feed just is not working for a horse.  Some horses may do exceptionally well on a feed and then you get another horse that does absolutely horrible on the same feed.  The amount she was feeding sounded fine, but I don’t know this horses metabolism, and previous living conditions, so it may not have been ideal for him.  She felt it was the heat of last summer.  Usually the heat doesn’t bother them that much, unless he was stressed on top of it.  I asked her if he could have Beet Pulp or Alfalfa Cubes?  She said that he had never had any.  She dropped off the two types of grain that he was getting so that I could gradually change him over.  She is a good, knowledgeable horsewoman, but she had barn help feeding him.  Sometimes we are so close to the situation that we miss the simplest thing.  It becomes so familiar to us that we just don’t pick up on it.  It occasionally requires a clear mind, a different view, and an outsider to see more clearly.

It’s like my husband the other day.  He was looking for his glasses and he got me to join in on the hunt.  You can’t see the forest for the trees.  He was wearing them.  So detective Diane went to the ingredients on the bags of feed. This is something I could actually view for myself.  Not many people read the ingredients.  At least not often.  Manufacturers do change what they put in.  Well the first and main ingredient on the one bag was Beet Pulp.  Not much in the way of grain at all.  The second bag, the first and main ingredient  was Alfalfa, not much in the way of grain either.  Now remember I not only asked her if he was getting Beet Pulp, but I also asked if he was getting Hay Cubes.  She said no.  Obviously she didn’t read the bag either.  So I was changing him over to my grain anyway, adding Beet Pulp and Alfalfa cubes.  His other odd behavior is that he licks everything.  Your hands, your face, hair, jacket, hat, gates.  So I put him on minerals and salt.  I spoke with my vet and she said if that didn’t work it might be behavioral.  Really???  You just never stop learning about horses.  He’s quiet where he eats and is in a pasture by himself so he doesn’t feel threaten or in competition for food or space.  He loves people.  Has hay in front of him all day.  Finding out what his real story is will take some time.  Any situation is like an onion.  You have to peel it back one layer at a time.  I’m confident that as long as he’s upright and breathing, with no hidden medical issues, that I will put weight on him and get him back to what he should be for his age.  He just had his teeth done and had been wormed, with all his shots, two weeks before he came, so we’re good in that department.

Case Number 2.  With the cold weather down here, horses have a tendency not to drink enough water, so they colic.  It sounds ridiculous to me, coming from the north where horses have to break through ice to get a drink.  I couldn’t believe it when I first heard about it.  But my guess is that it has something to do with the local hay that is grown down here.  Also it will be down to the 20’s than in a few hours back up to 70, then back down, you get the picture.  Anyway my Quarter Horse was looking a little off.  Didn’t want her grain, would pick at her hay.  Was down a lot.  So I treated her for mild Colic.  Gave her table salt to make her drink more, a little Banamine for the pain.  Took her off grain (she wasn’t eating it anyway) and removed her hay.  Now that’s being just plain mean, when at the time there wasn’t any pasture.  I feel, and they believe, I’m starving them to death.  They like to munch on hay all day even in the pasture when there is no grass.  I have to give the other two hay in their stalls so she wouldn’t get any.  I’ve got an ugly bunch of horses at this time.  It’s like one of those pictures in the movies that the eyes follow you.  They stand at the gate and just watch your every move.  I can hear the whispers.  “There goes our evil mom, trying to starve us.  Maybe she forgot, she’s old you know, try to get her attention again.”  The mare is passing normal manure, no temperature, gums look fine, drinking water, gut sounds are normal.  She is in heat and has had trouble with her ovaries before.  The other side of the coin, her stomach is sucked up in pain, not eating grain, down on the ground most of the day.  She’s alert, but just not normal.  Kept in touch with my vet and finally declared, none of it makes sense.  So bring out the big guns.  My vet came, agreed on my findings.  It’s not a normal colic.  Neither was Desert and we had to put him down.  So we ran bloods to see what everything else is doing.  Hopefully it isn’t a liver problem.   But it just my be those darn ovaries again, but she has never had this type of colic issue in the past.  I’m just gathering all the pieces to the puzzle and we’ll see what the picture turns out to be.

Well, five days later she’s back to normal.  Blood showed everything working fine.  We’re thinking the dreaded ovaries.  Usually she just gets sore in the back and doesn’t want to use her right hind leg.  This is a new twist.

The jury is still out on the final verdict.  We’re waiting for the next heat cycle to see if it happens again.  Part of me wants it to be ovaries and part of me doesn’t.  What’s the next step?  Acupuncture and if that doesn’t work,  Ultra Sound.

With horses, it’s not always a detective program.  Sometimes it feels more like the “X Files” and we’re waiting for the “Mother Ship.”

Because this post was lost and was written a year ago, bottom line on both cases –  The Warm Blood gained weight and was placed in a new home with a teenage girl.  My mare – it was ovaries, went into her next heat just fine. Both cases, solved and closed.  Can’t wait for me next adventure.

The One Eyed Jack

In a deck of playing cards you will find a One Eyed Jack.  He’s just faced that way.  If he has two eyes, no one really knows.  There was a line of One Eyed Jack Quarter Horses.

With this last Triple Crown there was a one-eyed horse, and people made such a big deal over it.  “Oh his blind side is on the side of the “field.”  “Oh how can a blind horse run?”  Seriously people???!!!

As it was explained to me years ago by a vet (and I know I’ve mentioned this before) – Horses are different from people. Predator animals, such as ourselves, cats, dogs, anything that has their eyes in the front, their two eyes focus in to make one picture.  A prey animal has eyes on the sides of their heads to give them a pretty close to 360 degree view of anything that is going to attack them.  Actually the only blind spots they have are directly in front, and directly behind unless they move their heads.  So it comes down to, we have one TV screen in our head and the horse has two TV screens.  One for each eye.  Removing an eye knocks out one of the screens and the horse has to move his head to see around him.

I’ve had a horse that had an eye removed, and one of my boarders horses was blinded in one eye when she was young.  I also had my granddaughters pony who was blind in one eye.  Not one of these horses were bothered by the fact that they could only see out of one eye.  It bothered people more than it bothered them.  Once my mare got used to looking before going through a narrow space, my leg no longer hit a fence post.  The first time I brought her out to the hunt field after the eye removal, I was a little concerned.  The sun hadn’t come up yet, and she was set and determined to follow the huntsman over the first three-foot coop.  I wasn’t even sure she had seen it let alone made a correct judgement of distance and height.  Her bouncing in anticipation told me that she had it under control and I let her go.  Perfect, as though nothing had ever changed with her.

I have a dog that is deaf and is totally blind in her left eye, and almost totally blind in her right.  She was born this way.  She doesn’t know that other dogs hear, or see better than her.  She is happy, playful and totally enjoys life.  Does 90 miles an hour through a doorway on a turn and never hits it.  I do, but she doesn’t.

Humans are getting a little more comfortable with people with disabilities, but not with our animals.  Three legged dogs and cats don’t care they are missing a leg.  They are happy and run and play just like all the others.  Horses don’t care they are missing an eye, they just go on like before.

We are the problem.  We protect them too much, and worry about them.  We need to be more like our animals, and accept things we have no control over, and just go a head and enjoy life.

Sounds like a plan to me.