Our senior citizen mare, Miss Pepper has been off her feed for a few days. She’s lost weight and we’ve worried because our skinny girl doesn’t have any weight to lose.

She’s eager enough to come out with Bud and nose into her grain pan. And she’ll eat about half of her allotment of feed before wandering away.

Most days we’ve been able to redirect her for a few more mouthfuls. But like I said, we were concerned. We had the big C- word in the back of our minds – colic.

Our vet suggested a dose of Banomine, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for horses, and to watch her carefully. She also said to start blanketing Miss P. sooner rather than later.

It will mean two trips to the pasture: one to put the blanket on and another the next morning to remove it for these warm fall days. We had a cold snap last week accompanied by freezing rain and Pepper may have gotten chilled.

“You know, old horses are not easy keepers.”

Those words have been ringing in my head ever since our vet offered them.

I like to think of myself as an easy keeper – not one of those high-maintenance women that people talk about. Yep, low maintenance for me all the way.

I remember reading an article years ago in a popular woman’s magazine that divided people into two categories: ferns (needing special care, perfect growing conditions and lots of tending, or cacti (needing very little care in order to grow and thrive.) No fussing for a cactus.

At the time I placed myself in the cactus category, with equal doses of pride and smugness. I liked being low-maintenance, but it came with a down side.

It’s taken me years to learn to put a stop to my day, to spend money on myself, to say “no” when I needed to, to learn that receiving is as honorable as giving. A cactus is beautiful but prickly, and has a pretty shallow root system.

The older I get, I find I want deeper roots that will sustain me even in times of drought. I’ve learned that it is important to ask for what I want, to set boundaries, to say “no.”

And as for being not such an easy-keeper, like Pepper, I need extra attention. My body doesn’t work like it did when I was twenty, or even forty. I have aches and pains I never imagined when I was younger. I have to watch what I eat, move my body more, get enough sleep and build rest times into my work schedule. That’s just how it is these days. If that shifts me over to the “fern category,” then so be it.

Come to think of it, I had a gorgeous Boston fern on my deck all summer long. It was hands down the easiest-to-care-for-plant in my garden.

As for Miss P. the Banomine seemed to work. She trotted over to us last night when we went out to feed, and ate every morsel of grain in her pan.


I’ll gladly make the extra trips to keep her warm at night. She’s given me so much, I’m happy to return the favor.


So where do you fall on the easy-keeper continuum? How has it changed as you’ve aged?