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Pepper’s new boyfriend, and Bud’s arch nemesis has been a busy boy.  He’s systematically gone about building a harem.

What I’ve dubbed the “Love Triangle” has morphed into a quintet – Beau and four mares. He started with Pepper and Chickadee.

He’s now added a real looker of a buckskin mare named Vixen and a draft mare whose name we don’t yet know. She’s also a pretty little (big) girl.

Out of this group, Vixen is working hard for the position of lead mare. If any of the others get too far away, it’s Vixen that herds them back into the fold. And if she sees Pepper getting too close to the bachelors, especially Bud, she makes a big fuss and cuts Bud off.

That little move hasn’t endeared her to us.

I may be projecting my own feelings here, (ya think?) but it seems that Pepper is depressed. When we go to feed, she has no spark, no zip. The sparkle in her eye is gone.

It worries me.

I wonder if her old arthritic legs are giving her problems. Is she in more pain? Is the bute not working anymore?

I wonder if she misses her old friends.

I wonder if she’s okay.

 

I know Beau and Vixen and Pepper are simply being horses. Doing what horses do. Rick and I have worked to keep our horses in a pasture just so they can be horses.

 

I must admit that I’ve thought about moving Bud and Pepper to a different home.

It would get her away from Beau and back with Bud. But we like where they live, and it’s home to them. Besides, I’d miss Red and Amigo and the rest of my horse friends.

I’ve also sent out many little prayers that Beau will find a nice new home. I don’t wish any bad things for him; just that he leaves!

 

The horses are teaching me that I can’t control everything. In truth, I’m doing well to control myself. Some days even that doesn’t happen. Especially with any modicum of acceptance or grace.

 

In part, life is about learning to let go and accept the things you can’t change. I’m still in grade school when it comes to that particular lesson. The serenity prayer from AA puts it so well:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.


Yeah, baby!

Yesterday I mentioned that the weather has turned cold here in Colorado. On the thirtieth we braved the elements to get our two old sweeties into warm coats. It’s what any good parent would do. Right?

Little did I know there were more challenges ahead.

The morning of New Year’s Eve dawned crisp and cold.

Really cold.

In town the wind had died down and I thought that was a good omen.

After all, what’s a little snow and cold to a girl raised in Wyoming?

About half past noon I bundled up, filled the feed pans and headed to the pasture.

The temperature gauge on the car said it was five degrees.

FIVE DEGREES!!!

I tried to ignore that little tidbit of information.

As I drove across the Interstate, I thought for a moment I was back in the Pacific Northwest.

Was that fog?

Or maybe smoke?

Nope.

It was blowing snow that swept across the road like the Death Eaters in a Harry Potter movie.

I turned into the boarding facility and headed down the lane toward the back pasture. By now the wind was howling and visibility was significantly reduced. I considered turning back, but kept going.

I knew the horses needed the extra calories from the grain to help keep them warm.

And there were the daily meds.

I was scanning the pasture trying to find Bud and Pepper.

I wasn’t paying attention to the road and drove smack dab into snow that had drifted across the road.

I was stuck.

I rocked the car, trying to free it, but that only seemed to dig me in deeper.

#!*#

Thank God for cell phones. I called Rick to come rescue me.

I figured while I waited for the cavalry I’d go ahead and feed.

I couldn’t see the sweeties anywhere.

I started to walk toward the shed, thinking it was a very good bet that’s where they were.

Yep. The whole herd of oldsters was there.

Amazingly the shed was dry, out of the wind and somewhat warm from the sun.

I couldn’t bring myself to lead the horses away from shelter into the wind and blowing snow. So I walked back to the car and got the feed pans.

That’s trip number three across a very long, windy, freezing pasture.

In case you’re counting.

And by the way, those pans of grain are heavy. Especially when you’re trudging through snow. My hands were going numb from the cold, and I was exhausted.

I literally kept saying to myself, “You can do it. Only one more step.” Then I’d say it again.

This was turning into quite the Little House on the Prairie moment.

But I made it to the shed. And there was one very happy appaloosa to greet me.

Pepper on the other hand wasn’t so sure she wanted to leave the shelter.

Even for grain.

I got Bud started and then went in for Miss P.

She was lame again, which explained why she held back. Her leg hurt.

I put a halter on her and led her around the deepest drifts to the food. I had to hold her feed pan, because she couldn’t put weight on her leg and I really wanted her to get the Bute as well as the grain.

Eventually she ate, Bud finished and I handed out a few snacks to the oldsters. I grabbed the empty feed pans, halter and my determination and headed toward the car.

One very slow step at a time.

That’s when my knight in shining armor drove across the field to pick me up. I was never so glad to see him. He and another boarder dug my car out.

It took me the rest of the day, an afghan, one of those rice bags you heat in the microwave, and a twenty-minute shower to defrost. And I was worthless at the party we went to that night. I dropped into bed long before the ball dropped in Times Square.

Just another day in the pasture.

Seriously.

When you share your life with animals – especially large animals like horses, cattle, and llamas that live outdoors, you have to dig really deep on days when it would be much easier to skip a feeding. But here’s the thing, they need care every day – not just the days when the weather is nice.

This commitment to the horses has taught me something about myself. I’ve always been a hard worker, but I haven’t always been disciplined. There are still many areas of my life where I could use a strong dose of do-it-every-day-discipline.

So maybe that’s my intention for the New Year. I’ll choose one more thing and show up every day. As if my life depended on it. Because I’m starting to think it just may.

Happy 2011 Everyone!

 

 

 

You can see how she's not putting weight on her sore leg.

When we drove down the road to the pasture on Sunday, we noticed that Bud and the rest of his little herd of oldsters were at the gate, waiting patiently for lunch and/or treats. Pepper was standing away from the group, by herself.

It didn’t seem quite right.

As we pulled up to the gate and unloaded feed pans, Bud did the usual happy dance, jostling everyone until he could get a clear shot out the gate to his food.

Miss P. started to walk toward us.

She was moving slow.

And limping.

Rick said his first thought when he saw her standing alone was, “She’s hurt.”

He’s got good instincts.

It’s hard enough when we aren’t feeling well, but when animals or babies are sick, they can’t tell you where it hurts. And you can’t reassure them it will be all right – that you’ll take care of them and help them feel better.

I was worried as I watched Pepper make her way out the gate to her food.

It was obvious she was hurting.

There was definitely something going on with her right front leg.

We couldn’t see anything outright.

There was no wound or heat in the muscle. Maybe she pulled something or strained a ligament. She’s done that before. And, come to think of it, it’s been the same leg.

She ate about half of her food, dosed with Bute (which we hoped would ease the pain a bit) and stood so that she put no weight on the leg that hurt. Rick ended up holding the pan so she wouldn’t have to bend down so far.

When Bud finished eating, we put him into the pasture.

That seemed to be the sign Pepper was waiting for. She turned, limped to the gate and nearly put herself in. All we had to do was open the gate. It was as if she said, “I just want to go back to bed.”

Poor baby.

We decided to give it a day before calling our vet. Sometimes these things work themselves out. We’ll see.

I’m not as hopeful as Rick.

Here we are coming up on Christmas, when everyone is either out of town or hunkered down with friends and family. Why is it that kids and animals always seem to get sick on weekends and holidays?

If you’ve had kids, you know what I’m talking about.

When my son was young, he had frequent ear infections. And I’m telling you, it almost always started in the middle of the night on a Friday. And this was before urgent care centers and 24/7 access to some kind of medical care. It was a big deal to get to the doctor for antibiotics.

I thought we’d left that scramble behind us, but now Bud and Pepper are giving us the chance to re-live the worry that comes from having sick kids.

Gee thanks!

As for Pepper, I’ll keep you informed.

In the meantime, please send your healing thoughts her way.

With old horses, you never know…

 

Waiting for the farrier.

As nice as Saturday was, yesterday was nasty. In terms of weather, I mean. The day dawned cold and grey with an icy wind that cut through coats and gloves as if they weren’t pulled tight around us.

Of course it was the day we had scheduled the farrier and the vet.

Double duty.

We made an instant decision to take the horses to the barn out of the wind for their checkups. It was a no-brainer. Actually, the barn isn’t all that warm, but it does offer shelter from the bitter wind, and the illusion of warmth.

Led Behind the Pickup

We tried something new for our horses to get them from the pasture to the barn. I drove the pickup at a snail’s pace and Rick sat on the tailgate holding the lead ropes. Bud and Pepper weren’t all that thrilled with the idea, though Bud quickly adapted. He tried to get his head in the feed pan the entire time. Maybe that’s the horse version of stress eating.

Miss Pepper on the other hand was just plain freaked out about the whole idea. She pulled on her lead and did not walk quietly. Her expressions clearly said, “This is just not right!!”

But we made it with nothing more than one mildly confused Appaloosa, and one irritated mare.

Some might say, “So what’s new?”

On Farrier Time

Once inside, things calmed down. Bud and Pepper munched their grain and we waited. Farrier time is always a bit different than time for the rest of us, so when he said he’d be there in ten minutes, we hunkered down for at least a thirty-minute wait.

Sure enough that’s what it was. We kept the horses entertained by doling out horse candy. The activity kind-of-sort-of kept us warm.

A-Okay

Turns out both horses are in great shape. The daily meds have made a HUGE difference. Both our vet and farrier saw a remarkable improvement in Bud. Everything about him has improved – hooves, immune system, hair coat, and temperament.

Yea Pergolide!!

Our farrier confided that he didn’t have much hope for Bud to make it another year. That was hard to hear, even though deep in our hearts, we knew he wasn’t doing so well.

But now, it’s another story. Those daily trips to the pasture have been well worth every minute.

Comforting each other

As for Miss P. – she’s doing great too. The daily dose of Bute has worked miracles. She’s out of pain, which has allowed her to put on weight. She’s going into winter in the best shape I’ve seen her in a couple of years.

 

Just thought you’d like to know the good news…

 

 

 

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