Category Archives: Uncategorized

He’s Making A List and Checking It Twice

It’s almost here!  When I was a child I’d dream that Santa would bring me a horse.  Oh I got many horses over my childhood years, all toys, but I did get to go riding and have lessons.  Now I get many horses over the years, and they are not that easy to store.  Somehow I can’t keep a new one out of Bob’s sight very long. I’ve been working on him lately, but it’s not going good.  I’ve turned this horse down five times, but he keeps coming back.  I figure God is trying to tell me something.  Wish he would tell Bob. I really don’t want to take on another expense, but he just won’t go away. So what’s on your list this year?  Clothes, tack, another horse?  This really is a disease.  Instead of AA do they have HA? Oh I used to go through all the catalogs and just pick out stuff I would love to have for my horse.  Now I go through and pick out what they must have.  Cosequin, quilts and leg wraps, hoof dressing, Coggins Test, EWT.  It’s like when you finally crossed that border and toys were no longer an option, you would get clothes.  I hated when that happened, and I’m not to crazy about it now either. I still decorate their stalls and the barn.  I still put bells and holly on their halters, but the magic of youth is gone.  “Once you pass its borders, you can never return again.” Bing Crosby can still be heard singing “I’m Dreaming Of A White Christmas”, so am I, but that’s not likely here in Central Florida, but that’s why I live here.  I spoke with my girlfriend the other day in New Jersey and it was 20 degrees with a sheet of ice covering everything.  That’s not a dream, that’s a nightmare. So we are getting down to the wire.  Make sure your letter to Santa is ready to go.  Look through all those catalogs and make your list, check it twice, but mainly just enjoy what you have and dream about what you hope to get. “May Your Days Be Merry and Bright, and May All Your Christmas’ Be White.”  Miss you Bing.

The Loss Of A Mentor

For the more mature of my readers, remember when you were a kid and all those wonderful Westerns were on TV?  The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry.  Or even the horse programs like Fury, My Friend Flicka, Mr. Ed.  I’d would watch any program that had a horse in it, like Wagon Train, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, you get the picture.  All these cowboys had fabulous horses.  John Wayne had the same two horses that he used in most of his movies.  His career was longer than their life span, I guess.  Other than a movie here and there, horses are hard to be found on TV.

As we move through life, we lose people.  As we mature, we lose them faster and closer together.

I’ve had some wonderful mentors in my years of horses.  The “old timers” had a grasp on horses that the “new comers” will never have.  With some, these horses were part of their lively hoods.  My first husbands grandfather had work horses.  He would use them to haul ice from the lakes to be delivered to customers for their refrigerators.  Horses weren’t pets in those days.  They were necessities to survive, and make a living.  Now I’m not talking about this happening in the country in different states, although it did, he had his business in Staten Island, New York.  Yup, right there in one of the five boroughs of New York City.  What a different life it was back then.  But he had wonderful “homemade” treatments for all that ailed the horses.  He did things the “old-fashioned” way, and they worked.  He also died and took all that great information with him.  He wouldn’t let on to any of his potions.

Well a couple of weeks ago I lost another mentor, who did share his knowledge.  Michael J. Torpey, Master of Hidden Hollow Hounds.  This man was a hoot!  And boy could he dance.  Mostly I learned so much from him about Fox Hunting.

When I first joined HHH it was a small, unrecognized, pack with very little territory, but did we have great runs over beautiful country.  Then we acquired more land to use and became a recognized hunt.   My friend Vincent, who was a Joint Master, wanted us to be recognized, Mike liked it just the way it was.  He was very strict on what was proper and what wasn’t.  Only small pearl earrings were allowed.  No other jewelry.  Hair nets were a must, no compromise there.  Everything was done “old school.”  They weren’t the best bred pack, but they could do their job.  I loved watching them run a fox across a freshly plowed field, or gallop after them through a field of pumpkins after Halloween.  Pumpkins do crush under your horses feet.  At first I was scared that my horse would hit one and it would roll, and therefore we would too, but that never happened.

He taught us all so much, not only about hunting, but a lot about training our horses for the job.  We’d have clinics on Saturday in the off-season that would prepare us for anything we’d encounter on the hunt field.  Drop jumps, coffin jumps; I loved watching people’s faces the first time they would try one of those.  Basically it would be what you see on cross-country courses now.

He gave me and Nancy the opportunity to become Whipper-Ins, and we had a great time doing it.  We would practice and show in Hunt Team competition at shows along with our Huntsman Lew.

Mike was the Master and Hunstman until it got cold, and the doctors didn’t want him out below 40 degrees because of his heart.  Lew would take over as Huntsman then.  When Lew was out-of-town, I would hunt the hounds.  Now there was an experience and a half.  It looks so easy until you have to do it.  Now the hounds only knew me as the person who called them off a scent, so why would they listen to me when I was the Hunstman?  They wouldn’t follow my horse, they were looking for Mike and his white horse.  So Mike put me on his horse until they got used to my voice.  When they acknowledged me, I was able to use my own horse.  To this day when I call in my own hounds and Jack Russell, I still use the same words and tones as I did back then.  He gave me opportunities that served me well through my years of hunting with different packs, in other states.

He was a tough old dude who didn’t have patience for stupid.  He would talk about other Masters whose names were well-known in the Hunting industry and tell me they were a bunch of “Horses Hind Ends (my choice of words, not his.”)  I would smile and think he just was very set in his ways and didn’t think much of others.  Well thirty years have passed since then and I have ridden under other Masters who are well-known, and guess what?  Many were not, but many were.  He was right.  I told Mike that several years ago, and he was not even a little surprised.

He lived to be 97 and has taught many people to ride and hunt.  He would be at every show in the area, just sitting, just watching.  Occasionally he would just sit there and shake his head.  He was wise in the sense he didn’t volunteer his knowledge, unless he was being paid.  That is something I have a hard time doing.  I’m more in trying to help the horse, so if I can pass something on to a rider or owner, I just do it.  I’ll keep working on that one Mike.

He was a great horseman and mentor.  Mike, you will forever be in my mind and on my heart.  Someone should blow “Gone Away.”  It won’t be me because I never really mastered the horn.  I can get by, but he deserves better than that.

Thank you Mike for all you taught me, and the good times we all had.

I Just Want To Save Them All

I don’t care if they are horses, dogs, cats, children, I just want to save them all.

I went to Rural King to pick up Beet Pulp (great price) and in front of the store they had cages with dogs that needed forever homes.  Some of them were happy and jumping up to catch your eye, but there was one small Chihuahua dog.  A little plump, a little older who just sat there and watched everyone pass by.  My heart broke for all of them, but this little one held my heart.  Obviously someone had to give it up.  The owner may have been an older person who went into a nursing home or who had passed.  I don’t know, but I’ve been thinking of him/her ever since.  My new little Jack Russell puppy from hell would not appreciate another dog in the house.  She stands at the door to block the Catahoulas from coming in.  I know that the little one will find someone who can give it all the love it deserves, at least I hope it does.

Right now I am fostering four, not quite adult, kittens who are looking for a home.  They are so timid they just live in their covered littler boxes.  Took the covers off today and told them they had to become more comfortable in the world around them.  They are in a stall in large dog crates.  Two cats in a litter box does not work for me when I have to clean the litter.

I’ve had horses come in who were down on their weight this past year and even though they now have owners who are trying to do right by them, I just want to keep them all.

It’s like a sickness, a disease.

My friend works at a shelter.  She plays with the dogs and cats and takes them for walks.  I couldn’t do that.  I couldn’t walk away from them until I knew they were safe with their own person.  It would break my heart.  It’s very hard for her when the time comes to put one down.

We are in a terrible bind since the hurricane.  Horses, dogs, cats, are overflowing the rescues and now they are bringing them in from Puerto Rico.  These poor animals didn’t sign on for this.  Some of the owners have lost everything and can’t care for their pets anymore.  Some were separated and have never been recovered by their families.

I heard one older couple say that when the storm was coming, they didn’t know what to do with their pets, because the shelters wouldn’t let them in, so they just turned them loose to fend for themselves.  Seems cruel to me, but there was no choice in their minds.  At the end, all shelters were told to take animals, because some people were endangering their lives trying to stay with their pets.  Well I just heard the other side of the coin.  A lot of schools, that weren’t supposed to be, became shelters.  The ones that were designated as pet friendly apparently don’t have carpeting on the floors.  the ones that were designated as “no pets” did have carpeting.  So in my mind, so what?  Well it seems under the circumstances with the storm,  a lot of pets didn’t want to go out to the bathroom, and just squatted on the rugs.  Now these schools had to remain closed after the storm until they could get the rugs shampooed before the children were allowed to return.  After a storm that had flooded so many houses, it’s not easy to get Stanley Steamer or any other cleaning or repair company.

Animals have become just disposable, thrown out like a toaster that no longer works.  These are living, breathing, creatures with feelings.  Have you ever witnessed a dog whose owner has passed, they grieve.  Have you ever seen a horse loose it’s best friend.  They grieve.

In all your spending this holiday season, or when you look in your dog or horses eyes, see all the animals who don’t have a home, or someone who loves them, and make a donation to an animal rescue.  If you can’t afford to send a gift or drop off a bag of food or kitty litter, see if you can spend an hour a week going to a shelter and taking a dog for a walk or just spend some time petting them.  Volunteer make a difference in an animal’s life.

It will bless yours.

It Was Just A Suggestion

Last year my husband told me, when I was going to my local tack shop, to pick out stuff I wanted for Christmas.  He hates shopping.  So being the good obedient wife, I did.  I told the owner what I would like him to purchase for me, and she said she would direct him to the right items.  Well the time came and she couldn’t remember all the things I had suggested.  So I told her that next year (being this one) that she needed “Dear Santa” letter forms.  The wife fills one out, and when the husband comes in he just gives the shop owner the name and she pulls out the “Wish List”.

Now I thought that was a great idea all the way around.  The husband doesn’t have to look around and guess what the wife wants.  The wife gets everything she wished for, and the store owner makes a killing.  No brainer.

Well I went to the tack shop on Saturday, two weeks ago, and asked if she had her “Santa’s Little Helper List” ready to be filled out.  The answer was no, not yet.  Hello folks, we are rounding the final turn and moving down to the wire here.

Years ago I always needed so much stuff.  Mostly because the horses kept breaking stuff.  Now they just damage themselves.

Do vets have “Gift Cards”?  I’ll have to ask.

Black Friday is tomorrow – let the games begin!

Just One More Thing To Deal With

The poor people who have been hit with the flooding from the hurricanes now have one more thing to consider.  Not only does your house have a water line half way up the wall, all your stuff has been soaked for who knows how long, your car is soggy, and you’re done with this whole thing.  By the way.  If you are buying a used car, make sure you find out if it was involved with flood waters.

We no longer hear about the sufferings of the people who lost just about everything from a home, car, job, and everything else they owned, but now the horse owners who escaped the worst of it are faced with a new problem.  Sure down here in Florida we deal with hoof problems from water, bacteria, and fungus all the time.  Florida is a wonderful environment for these amazing treasures, but most people have never heard of Pythiosis.  Who???  What???  But so many of them are finding out the hard way.

I’ve seen two horses with it and it’s just plain disgusting.  The one horse had a sore on its leg.  The treatment was horrific, but the owner persisted and the horse was saved.  The other horse had no skin on its face, neck, and chest area.  It was supposedly getting better, but I don’t know what the outcome was.  These cases were several years ago.  No hurricane involved.  They just stepped into a pond with a cut, and voila!  Cases have been coming into the University since the hurricane.  If your horse has sores or wounds, it is susceptible to the invasion of this disease, where its zoospores encyst in the tissues, continuing to bore inward.  It grows quickly and must have professional treatment right away.  Treatment will likely consist of systemic and local anti-fungal agents, and surgical debridement if needed.  It can be fatal.  If your horse has a growth or sore that seems to appear overnight, and it’s been in standing water, pay attention to it and call your vet immediately.  It’s very aggressive, and trust me, you can’t fix this one by yourself.

Just one more thing horse owners must be aware of and take seriously.

Love/Hate Relationships

Well I finally got my new computer.  I’ll let it go at that.  Have my computer friend on speed dial.

Why when you get it, is everything different.  Even though we downloaded everything from my external hard-drive, nothing is the same.  It won’t even let me send out emails.

When computers work, they are a wonderful thing in your life.  When they don’t you just want to pitch them out the window via your foot.

I have a puppy like that now.  Somehow, getting a new puppy is like childbirth.  You just don’t remember all the pain and clean-up.  There is just the joy of getting a new one until it is there for 24 hours.  Then it all comes flooding back and you buy a lot of stock in rug shampoo, or like my friend says – a lot of paper towels.

Horses can be the same way.  You just got to take the time and work the bugs out of the system.  When they are good you love them and think they are the best horse in the world.  When they are bad you just want to send them packing.  That is especially true when you’ve just lost the most perfect horse in the world.  When they die you just remember that they performed every maneuver just right.  Didn’t spook at anything.  Knew what you wanted before you asked.  Came when you called.  Respected you private space.  We never remember that we had all those years teaching him all that stuff, and that all these years later this horse will be the same, you hope.

It’s even more frustrating when the new horse gives you a problem that you have never had to deal with before.  I have one here now that is really a good boy for a Thoroughbred.  Good brain, level-headed when it comes to scary things.  Good manners.  Is in a four-acre pasture and when it comes to dinner time he runs the fence line.  Why?????  You idiot!  You’ve got all the grass in the world and you want me to serve dinner now?  Never had a horse do that before.  Back to the drawing board.

I’ve got Bob pretty much trained on waiting.  Having a little trouble with the puppy.  She is very demanding and wants to be put up on the bed and taken off the bed every five minutes if no one is with her.  Bob is spoiling her like he has never done with any other dog we’ve had, and I’m staff.  If she doesn’t get her way she gets really ugly.  I’ve seen every tooth in her mouth with her growls.  Don’t touch her while she’s sleeping unless you get permission first.  Well the other morning she decided that I shouldn’t get too close to Bob in the kitchen.  So the good trainer I am, I got the fly swatter and popped her a couple of times in the butt before she got out of reach.  Nothing else works with her.  I’ve done all the Cesar Millan methods and she just ignores me.  I thought after dealing with the two Catahoulas I had it all down pat.  The Russell is rewriting everything as to how she feels it should be handled.

So I don’t care how much you know, there will always be a horse, dog, or husband that will come up with something new.  It used to be exciting to try to figure out how to deal with this new thing.  It’s just getting old now.  Well so am I.

This isn’t how the “Golden Years” are supposed to be.  Remember when we were teenagers and we thought we knew everything, that old people didn’t have a clue.  Well we were right.

You just need the right attitude.  I laugh at the puppy when she tries her Kujou act.  She’s 11 lbs. and tiny.  I’m 120 and 5″6″ with a fly swatter.  Bring it on.

PTSD

Note about last weeks post:  Yes the horse is putting weight on in his back, but the swelling was odd and not equal on both sides.  Turns out that because of the owners bad hips, when she goes to get off she hangs across the saddle until she feels she can let go and hit the ground. Doing this she is putting unnecessary pressure on each side of the withers.  Pulling the saddle toward her pushing it into the back in two different areas.  Massage with liniment and an extra pad is taking care of him and she just has to bite the bullet and hit the ground.  Much happier horse.

************

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has been around for a long time, but was kept hush-hush until recently.

I know several people who are dealing with it and it is a horrible thing.  My friend’s son came home from Iraq, she was thankful he was alive and on this side of the Atlantic.  She thought her worries were over.  I warned her that they probably weren’t.  Unfortunately she found that out when she brought him to Wal-Mart to pick up some stuff.  Someone dropped something, and he hit the ground.  The poor guy is still trying to recover from his tour of duty over there.

Another friend, in the last couple of years, married someone she knew from High School close to sixty years ago.  They are pushing 80, if not there already.  His two previous wives died from breast cancer.  They had a lot of history together, is what she told me when she decided to marry him.  They had seen each other over the years at reunions.  I wasn’t sold on this one.  If you didn’t date him in High School, what would make you think you’d want to date him now.  She found out that he had PTSD.  I found out at dinner one night.  We were sitting at dinner and I questioned him about why a screw, in the back of his kitchen cabinet, had to be just perfect.  It wouldn’t be seen by anyone and he had spent a whole day on one screw.  His reply, as he slammed his fist on the table was, that attention to detail was what had kept him alive through all the years in Veit Nam.  His face was red and he was not in control of his temper.  I told him that no one was shooting at him anymore and he didn’t have to dwell on that one screw.  They never did get that kitchen finished, and we gave up trying to help them.

So when my girlfriend told me that she believed I had PTSD the other day, I was like no way, I’ve never been in a fight worse than who got control of the remote.  But then I had to think about it.  After the two horses were killed by lightning, I was a little paranoid whenever a storm hit.  I’m much better now, but it’s taken a couple of years.

I looked up PTSD and it doesn’t always come from being in a war.  It can come from other traumatic situations that you are involved in or have witnessed.  As I read more about it, I really don’t think I have a true version of it, but it was a horrible situation.  Oh I remember what brought this up.  When we had a storm a couple of weeks ago I was out bring the horses in and a bolt cracked close by.  I hesitated for a moment deciding whether to run back to the house or go to the barn and go and get the horses.  It’s funny what runs through your mind in an instant.  I thought, I’d rather die trying to get them, than to go back to the house and live with the horror of them getting killed, again.  I just couldn’t live with two more horses being killed.

So I guess that’s a good reason why my girlfriend decided I had PTSD.  Actually if I truly had PTSD I would have hit the ground and hidden, not been stupid enough to walk out to the two pastures and bring in the four horses.

If you don’t live in Florida, the lightning capital of the world, you probably can’t wrap you mind around this.  Ten horses I know of personally lost their lives that week, two of them were mine.  I heard the bolt that got them.  I still cringe when I hear a bolt close by.  Yes I know many horses that got killed in barns, but I’ll take my chances on them being in the barn as opposed to under a tree that got hit.

Do I recommend going out there and being a target, no way.  Will I do it again?  Probably. Do I have PTSD?  I don’t think so.  I’m just old and stupid.

Check and Recheck

We all assume.  We assume we will get up in the morning.  We assume Saturday will come.  We assume our horses will get hurt in the next 12 months, at least I know one of mine will.  Some horses are just born suicidal. But that’s another post.  We know what breaking down the word assume means, and I won’t go there.

What we can never assume is that our horses are not changing.  As with us, age has a horrible way of getting even.  When I used to wake up in the morning after a hunt I knew every muscle, and joint that I had abused.  It was like when you worked out too much, your body lets you know.  But it was a good hurt.  Now I wake up in the morning hurting and wonder what my body did overnight that I wasn’t aware of.

As you “mature” your body changes.  The old gravity thing.  Body parts aren’t where they used to be.  Everything starts sagging.  Not going there either.

Now we expect it with an older horse.  Their body changes too.  They lose their top line.  Muscles lose their tone.  They are harder to keep weight on.  They move a little slower and stiffer.  (Who doesn’t after how many years of hitting the ground.)  We know that we have to take these things into consideration when putting our saddle on.  The saddle that you bought for him/her years ago may not fit anymore because of the lack of weight and tone in their back.  On the other hand, after a long period of time, and groceries, the girth may not fit.

Now here is the thing we don’t consider.  The younger horse.  Yes as they grow we have to be aware and make changes.  The bridle that fit them perfect may be making the bit rise up in their mouths because their head grew.  Now my Zoey always used to be a 55 gallon drum with a leg in each corner.  Now she has a withers.  I used to use the first two billets to hold the saddle down in place so it wouldn’t ride up on her shoulders.  Now I used the first and last to keep it from sliding back.

When my friend got her new horse, a ten year old OTTB, we had his back adjusted and checked to make sure the saddle was perfect for him.  He still hasn’t gained the weight I want on him (he was a rescue), but he didn’t get thinner.  He’s been going with his head up, and back dropped.  He isn’t moving forward the way he should, and fought bending to the right.  You can put him into a frame, but he’s not comfortable with it.  He worries, but tries so hard to please.  Things weren’t adding up.

When she first started riding him he had even sweat marks on his back, so we knew the saddle was okay.  This was about a month, maybe a month and a half ago.  She’s taking it slowly with him and rides a couple of times a week.

So what is the issue here?  Ah my favorite, detective mode.  I was sitting watching her while she bathe him.  The sun was shining on his wet chestnut coat, but something caught my eye.  A shadow.  My eye kept drifting back to the spot, it wouldn’t go away from my mind.  My brain said get up and check this out.  Finally I did.  A huge swelling the size of my fist just down a little from the withers, behind the shoulder, on his right side.  I check the other side and there was a smaller lump a little lower.  Well this would explain a lot of things, but why was it there.  We got the saddle and put it on.  It seemed fine, but putting my hand where the swelling was said not so.  The owner has bad hips and mounting and dismounting is a problem for her.  She tends to lay across the saddle for a good 60 seconds before she can hit the ground or the saddle.  He has always readjusted his body to stay under her, or that’s what we thought.  He was actually fidgeting because the saddle was digging into his back.

Liniment and a few days off will help along with an extra pad and changing the saddle.  But how did something that looked so perfect cause so much trouble.  We always have to remember that the way the rider sits and moves in the saddle will cause compression and shifting of the pad and saddle.

This proves he is a good, kind horse, because he should have bucked her off and run screaming into the night.  To show her what he was feeling I made a fist and dug int into her back next to her shoulder blades.  It drives the point home.  Now this owner notices every scratch, cut, lump, bump on this animal.  I think she notices if one of his eye lashes is missing, but this never even came on the radar screen.

So don’t fall into this sense of everything is fine and normal.  It may not really be.

Check and recheck.