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Horse-Blankets-on-Rail

It’s that time of year again when the Golden Girls are shedding out. Their thick winter coats are coming off in handfuls. Every day we brush and comb and brush some more and still the ground is littered with clumps of brown or reddish hair, depending on who’s getting the combing.

 

It’s going to take a bit more time for the girls to get their sleek summer coats. And since it is Colorado, this slow process seems perfect. We could still have another snowstorm, though I’m crossing my fingers that we don’t. Rain will do nicely from now on to get that much-needed moisture we all talk about.

 

This process of shedding the old to make way for the new is so concrete when it refers to the progression from winter to summer haircoat. But it also makes me think about what I could be shedding, which isn’t nearly so concrete or accessible. Sometimes I wish I could simply shed into a new skin, or coat of hair. Every season a new me.

 

Off with the old – in with the new.

 

Sounds easy enough, but you and I both know it isn’t. The “old” is hard to let go of. It’s familiar, maybe even comforting. And the “new” is unknown. Unfamiliar. Maybe even a little scary. And yet, like it or not, it seems to be coming. How ridiculous would it be to continue walking around in the middle of summer with a thick coat of hair?

Not only ridiculous, it would be uncomfortably hot.

 

(I know I’m switching wildly between horses and humans, Work with me on this. Okay?)

 

So one place I know I could do with a bit of shedding is my closet. It has gotten, shall we say, a little overgrown? Yes let’s just name it: my closet is a mess. There are most definitely things I could shed. As I pick through the contenders, I wonder why I am hanging on to pants that don’t fit, things I don’t like, and one or two things that have simply done their time. They are tired and worn out.

Time to shed!

I’d like my closet to be the human version of Pepper and Chickadee’s coat closet. You can see it pictured above. Neat and tidy. And spare. I like that. It gives me breathing room just to look at it.

 

So that’s what I’m heading for in my head and my closet. As for the Golden Girls, they’ll be slick and shiny soon enough.

 

What could do with a bit of shedding in your world?

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What is it about human (and horse) nature that keeps us from doing the things that are good for us?

We procrastinate, avoid, rationalize, and deny.

“I’ll get to the gym tomorrow,” we promise.

“I don’t really need that much sleep,” we say as we stay up much later than our body wants/needs.

“I’ll start eating better right after my vacation, or right after the holidays, or right after our guests leave, or ?? You can fill in the blank on this lovely excuse.

I could go on, but I’m certain you get the idea.

In Miss Pepper’s case, she isn’t making up excuses or telling herself little white fibs.

At least I don’t think she is.

But playing games is her speciality.

And she has nailed it.

Cold.

 

Because of her achy, arthritic legs she gets a daily anti-inflammatory pill. It really helps.

That must be why she doesn’t want to take it. 🙂

 

The pill - circled in red.

The pill – circled in red.

Every day we place the pale pink half-moon-shaped pill into her grain pan. Sometimes right on top. Other times we cover it with a bit of grain.

It doesn’t matter. She always finds it.

And without fail, she proceeds to push it around the pan.

Looking for that darned pill!

Looking for that darned pill!

We spend our time peering into her grain, searching for the pill. “Has she gotten it yet?” We sift through her food examining each little morsel of grain, as intently as if searching for weapons of mass destruction.

Sometimes we look at each other and laugh at our total folly.

We figure Pepper must enjoy our attention, because she pushes that pill here and there, avoiding it until she’s down to the last few bites. Sometimes she even spits it out, which sends us scouring the ground, looking for a pink pill in the dirt or snow, depending on the season.

Pepper keeps one eye on us as we go through our silly pill search.

And she usually has a mischievous glint in that same eye. I think we really entertain our persnickety old mare.

 

As for that promise to get to the gym. Went this morning.

Booyah!

Here’s a pasture equation for you: Snow + Hungry + Bored = Curious Horses.

When we returned to Colorado after nearly two weeks in sunny Mexico, (more about that coming soon) we found snowy pastures and bored horses.

Horses graze. It’s what they do all day long.

It makes them happy.

It’s comforting.

A nibble here, a nibble there and before you know it, an entire day has passed. So obviously when there is nothing to nibble on, a horse gets bored.

And hungry. Those twice daily hay deliveries don’t last long. What’s a horse to do with the other eleven hours of the day?

Well they grow curious, vigilant really, and always on the lookout for the F-word.

That would be food!

I needed to give you this backstory to set the stage for the photos to come.

Golden-Girls-in-snow

The Golden Girls in their vacation accommodations

 

You see, we had to drive into the pasture to get to the Golden Girls, who spent our vacation in their own special “hotel.” They had room service and no one bothered them. They could munch hay as long as they wanted with no fear of a bigger, stronger horse muscling in. We took them grain before turning them into the bigger pasture.

Then we waited. The Golden Girls are dawdlers. At least the one named Pepper!

And while we waited we had visitors.

Curious-1

Uh..what you got in there?

 

Somebody was certain there was something to eat in the back of the pickup. It is the same kind of vehicle that delivers hay. Right??

Hello big goy? Got anything for me in there?

Hello big goy? Got anything for me in there?

Annie thought it looked pretty warm inside the cab. She wasn’t above begging!

Curious-5

Hey give me a hand. There must be something good in here.


If one curious horse is good, two are even better!

Curious-7

‘Scuse me. Could you pass the Doritos? Or maybe one of those hay cubes? Please,Please, Please..

 

Horse-at-gate

Over the weekend for two days, we watched this horse stand patiently at the gate, head jutting across the metal bar, waiting. His gaze never left the road ahead.

I suspect it was the road his friend walked down.

Away.

And now his self-appointed task was to remain vigilant until his friend returned. I don’t know how long this boy kept his vigil, but I have a good guess he stayed put until his pal was led back into the pasture. He certainly remained in place the entire time we spent with the Golden Girls, which thanks to Pepper’s slow eating habits, has stretched into a generous hour. Often more.

 Like us, horses have friends.

They form strong attachments, and protest loudly when that bond is interrupted. Like this black beauty, they will stand guard at the point of exit, and wait. And whinny loud desperate calls. And wait some more.

They find comfort and safety in their friendships.

Sometimes they form a small herd, like our Herd of Oldsters. Others are content with one BFF. As we’ve gotten to know the horses living in the pasture, we’ve seen several longstanding friendships.

Honestly, they make me smile.

Humans and horses are social creatures.

We have our own special brand of quirky personalities, desires, and a host of things necessary for our survival.

Right at the top of the list for me are the people who make up my community–friends and family who help me feel safe and nurtured in this sometimes-unpredictable world.

Our peeps matter to us. We need each other.

If I go too long without spending time with someone important to me, I notice.

Something feels “off,” not right with my world, though I may not be able to put my finger on it right away.

Eventually I’ll figure out that I need to connect. Re-connect.

If I’m taking good care of myself, I’ll reach out– make that call, or schedule a time to get together. It’s an important part of what keeps me centered and able to go on about my life.

 

Eventually this black horse ended his vigil. I didn’t actually see the reunion, but I’m pretty darn sure it happened. His friend was returned to the pasture, putting the axis of one black horse’s world back in place.

 

Is there someone you might want to call?

Now could be the perfect time.

Chickadee-new-coat

Remember the book/poem by Jenny Joseph, entitled When I am Old I Shall Wear Purple? It has become Chickadee’s new mantra.

Our old girl has a new winter coat.

A bright purple one.

Up to now she’s worn hand me down coats that never quite fit her. But no more.

She is resplendant in purple!

It’s a heavy one to protect her when the temperature plummets – something I am certain will happen this winter.

She and Pepper are ready for anything. Pepper in red and Chickadee in purple.

It’s high fashion in the pasture.

For the horses, that is.

My pasture clothes are old and faded.

I wonder if the girls will let me stand beside them now that they are so fashionable.

I guess as long as I come to them bearing food, they’ll tolerate me!

 

What are you wearing this winter to keep yourself warm?

 

Hand-of-Kindness

A couple of weeks ago, right before the big chill, Rick and I made a trip to New Mexico. We were sorely in need of a getaway. Usually when we go away, planning for our animals is a big deal. Once you invite those sweet beings into your life, you have to make plans for them.

With horses there is no, “we’ll just leave a big pile of hay out and they’ll nibble a bit of it each day until we return.”

No sir. Like me with candy corn, horses will eat until they are sick.

Until all the hay is gone.

And that’s just the first day.

This time our trip was different because we have family in town. On so many levels it is wonderful.

On the “feeding the horses level” it was a huge relief. We knew the Golden Girls were in good hands, which made our time away all the more relaxing.

It is a palpable reminder of the best that families offer – how we support each other. The feeling of, “I’ve got your back,” is priceless.

And we are so very grateful.

Babies

One of the true gifts of being out with the horses is that there is always something going on.

Something to catch my interest.

Something to take me out of my small world and into the wonder of the Big World. It really is the best therapy I can imagine.

So I thought I’d better check in with the two babies, since I hadn’t done so in a while.

Remember June Bug and Larry?

These two foals have touched everyone’s heart.

Miss June Bug has changed color – she’s now growing into her lighter coloring. And Larry is still the goof he always has been.

They race around the paddock, chasing each other, practicing kicking and running. Seriously you cannot be in a bad mood when you are watching these two little beings.

And for that, I am so very grateful.

Maisey

This is Maisey.

She’s been on our radar in the pasture for many years. She’s a shy old girl, always on the skinny side.

Of all the horses in the pasture, she was the least powerful. Everyone picked on her. She was always at the edge of the herd-a loner. She’d hang out with the Golden Girls, but always on the outskirts. She knew us and would come round for hay cubes if she thought it was safe.

I constantly worried about her.

You know how I am!

Then this summer, something wonderful happened.

She found her own herd.

And not just any herd.

She became part of Amigo’s herd. The very same Amigo that was Bud’s best friend. Good old loyal, reliable Amigo. I was thrilled. After all these years, Maisey had a family. A good family. I think she had a great summer. The pasture was greener than I’ve ever seen it. And she wasn’t alone. She had a protector.

A couple of weeks ago we noticed that Maisey wasn’t in Amigo’s little herd. We searched the pasture, but couldn’t see her. I asked Amigo, but he had nothing to say. Later we learned that Maisey had been shipped to the east coast to be with the girl who owned her. Apparently she’d graduated from college and now wanted her horse with her.

That makes me really happy.

Goodby sweet Maisey.

Thank you for letting me get to know you and being part of my herd.

May you live out your last years fat, happy and smothered in love.

Some things just plain make me happy.

You may remember this sweet old mare named Forty. We call her that because the number 40 is branded on her neck. Not the most original of names on our part, but hey…

Forty-Friends

Forty is a gentle old girl. We always hoped she’d join the Golden Girls, but she hasn’t. She follows them from a distance and has usually been alone. Two winters ago she hooked up with a mare named Sunny, but Sunny has left the pasture and Forty has been on her own.

She has the most amazing manners. She never pushes. She is considerate of everyone else. If we don’t pay attention to her, she walks away.

I find that bittersweet.

It seems she  doesn’t want to be a bother for anyone -a trap so many of us females find ourselves in at times.

The past few days Forty has found a friend. It’s a young little paint mare – new to the pasture. We don’t know her name. Yet. These two are joined at the hip. And that is what makes me happy.

Forty has a friend.

I feel like a hovering, helicopter mother. So be it! In the pasture it isn’t good to be alone. Having an ally really helps.

We’ll see how long this little Paint sticks around, but for now we are all happy.

Very happy.

I’ve been documenting the assorted horse-do’s around the pasture.

Horse-Do-Collage-1

You’ve never heard the term “horse-do?”

Think hairdo for horses.

Now you see why it is so interesting inside my head. I make up words like horse-do. And then take pictures to document it, which to my way of thinking makes it bona fide.

Real.

Horse-Do-Collage-3

So anyway, I’ve put together a few of my favorites. You’ve probably seen all but the braided manes. Those pictures are new. Those horse keepers have a lot of time on their hands!

Horse-Do-Collage-2

I’ve included the before and after with the Mamie Eisenhower bangs – totally one of my faves.

What style are you leaning toward?

Take a quick minute and vote in the survey below.

Maybe I have too much time on my hands too!

 

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