Thursday, December 31, 2009

Interview with Mother

Owning Boyfriend is a joy and a curse.

Watching a six year old, very newly castrated, hardly halter broken horse leery of most people (and frightened of most things a normal horse can take in stride) transform into a self composed, barn favorite, friendly to all, magnificent and intelligent horse... well, I imagine it's a bit how a parent feels.

He's been smacked twice by me for a nip, in two years. He is graceful, always conscious of people around him, and next to never offers violence. I trust him more than is wise.

He has lovely ground manners. He is beautiful to look at. He is my joy and my heart.

He has cost thousands and thousands upon thousands for several surgeries and related vet bills, trailering, etc. I could have purchased a REALLY nice horse ready to event, especially in this economy. Ah, hindsight...

I can not ride Bif anymore. I barely had him started under saddle: walk, trot, trail and a few canters when I realized there was definitely something not quite right. I couldn't quite place my finger on it.

One of the best surgeons in the country went in to remove the bone cyst that was visible on the digital radiographs. After he performed the surgery, the cyst being the least of the problems, he told me there was nothing but pasture for Bif, and even then how long he'll be comfortable is uncertain. He has a degenerating stifle joint, with cartilage that is rippled and cracking down to the bone surface. It actually will cause more bone cysts to form. Every movement increases the amount of deterioration. The little cheese grater that is his joint has already started shredding his meniscus from both sides.

The doctor said that he was surprised by how bad the joint was when he got in there; Boyfriend didn't present with the degree of lameness he would have expected for the degree of malformation. I attribute it to both the joint supplement he'd been on for 8 months already by that point, and the fact that he is a "tough old bird", with a very high pain tolerance.

None of it is genetic, neither his face or the stifle joint, just good old fashioned bad luck.

He is comfortable now, as far as I can tell. He gets a comprehensive supplement for his joint, Smartflex Repair. He also gets SmartPak's Smart TLC, which is a non-pharmaceutical pain relief probably as strong as bute, without the unwanted gastric problems and other unfavorable effects.

So, that is the horse that is Boyfriend:

A horse that I chose, despite a pus crusted face from an infected tooth, because he chose me.

Surgery on a face, and months of twice daily detested cleanings, weeks living with his vet, CT scan and surgery again. Not a bit head shy, ever.

The joy of going from a horse that had never had its feet touched, much less held, days of just touching the feet, shifting the weight off it, days of lifting it marginally, of holding it just a second or two; to one who happily holds the next one up as you go around to pick. I can't describe the pride I felt when my six year old did that the first time. Six years of range horse instinct.

A horse that for months would only eat Hilton Herballs, or the beloved Mrs. Pastures cookies, but wouldn't touch any other treat, carrot, apple, you name it. He has finally broadened his tastes.

He can stand quietly in crossties for hours, if needed.

He will watch me, seemingly all the time. Contorting himself if necessary to see where I go as I move about the barn. It is gratifying to be the center of someone's universe.

I'm in the loft to throw his hay. He looks up at me, right in the eye, head craned back and body tilted, waiting... OK, he will do that for anyone in the loft. It is TOO cute.

He hates supplements and I soak his grain just right to get him to eat them all and not waste... sigh...

I watch him rest the bad leg more and more, and worry and wonder. I fear that he will suffer more than I know. Will he let me know before it is too bad? Will he just be irrevocably three legged one day?

Boyfriend has been such a blessing. A chance for me to stretch my skills working with unsocialized horses. I've had horses with somewhat limited human contact before him, and turned them out nicely. I have no desire to go as far as an aged BLM caught horse, which is a good thing to know about yourself, too! Limits. I turned out a very nicely mannered horse in Bif. Granted, he's an exceptionally nice tempered animal, I'm not a total glutton for punishment. But I know that my instincts, my basic fundamental belief and system of how to train and work around and educate a horse is sound. That is a gift he has given me.

That I can not take that challenge to the furthest extent, in the saddle and in competition, is perhaps a gift, too. I need to go back to school, get a higher degree, expand my self in other areas, not just in my horse life.

Thanks, Boyfriend, for another great year. I hope for many more with you.

With love,

Monday, December 28, 2009


It is precipitating here. It has been precipitating for days. I have been slightly damp to downright soggy for days.
Is it rain? Not really.
Is it snow? Sometimes.
Is it ice pellets? ... sigh...

I wish it would just SNOW snow! Instead, it's sometimes muddy, sometimes frozen rutty, with a light dusting of white. I am waiting for a really good snow, the kind where you can roll and roll, and maybe the ice clumps to your legs, but you feel cleaner afterward. Not this standing in drizzly junk all day snow.

Mother drove me this afternoon a while. There is a new thing down by the bank barn, I didn't want to go near it. Mother tricked me, we walked next to it heading back to the barn. She tricks me sometimes. There was also a huge blue Shavingophilis Garganagiganticus in a part of the bank barn... we were walking along, and then I realized. AHHH!!! I did a double take, and almost an about face. It was huge... much larger than the brown one that used to live outside my barn. No wonder no horses live down in the bank barn. That thing was super creepy.

Mother never lets me turn away from scary things. I don't think that's really fair. It would be different if she were leading the way, but she's way back there. I don't want to get eaten first! I don't want to get eaten at all!

I got a special dinner the other night; Mother said it was a holy-day, but it seemed the same to me.... soggy and muddy. My dinner was so good, there were lots of treats, and some oatmeal and sugar mixed in like I used to eat when I first came here to Mother.

And there have been three types of hay at night, which is nice, but I wish more of it was the yummy green alfalfa stuff. I wonder if I should try to send Mother an anonymous email? Hmmm...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Party!

The barn humans had a Christmas party today. We could hear them, laughing in the indoor (I heard they had a heater in there but I didn't see it myself), while we were out in the soggy, snow melty pasture, with sorta rain misting down all day. That's right, out enjoying the weather while they suffered inside eating, eating, eating... eating...

The good news is, there was some sort of gift thing. I heard humans whisper at different times in the last few weeks about "Secret Santa" and what to get horses... each horse's name went in a jar, and someone other than their normal caregiver brought them a gift.

Two horses got nice brass nameplates, but I have one of those, and besides, everyone knows who I am. And none of the other horses would even think about going in my stall, even if my name isn't on it. Annie's Mom got a really pretty picture of her and Annie, and they look so laughing and happy in it Mother nearly cried when she saw it. Magnum got a new grooming tray (yea) mounting block (boo) thingy. Thippers got a new lightweight web lunge line and some treats. Lots of horses got treats, of all types. Rebelbebel got a big bag of apples and a big bag of carrots. But you'll never guess what I got. Guess! Guess!

Mrs. Pastures Cookies!! A five pound bag! Mother also got some Horace or Elmer or something coniferous tree hanging thing, but I GOT COOKIES. Mother said I couldn't eat them all at once.

I heard Mother ask the person, "Gee, how did you know?" Um, yeah, something about her ranting all the time about a certain store chain no longer carrying them in the store. But that's OK, because I have them!! And tonight, I got quite a few cookies, and some peppermint treats from the Great Grand Mother, which I thought were pretty yummy, too.

I like Christmas...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Humans are so unobservant

Sometimes, Mother is unfair, I think.

Like yesterday, when she was walking me in my stall. I got both front feet in, and slammed on the brakes. She berated my intellect and told me to come on, so I did, but stuck really close to her... almost on her, I admit. She called me a very bad name combined with another inquiry into my "supposed intelligence". She took my halter off and I hunkered to the far wall to eat my hay.

As she left the stall, she happened to see in the deconstructed stall next to me what I had seen: two ladders, one of them bright blue, that hadn't been in there before.

See, now who's "stupid"? That could have been a carnivorous ladder...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Crisis Averted!

Mother came down to the barn today, and she told me there were cookies on the horizon. She and Aunt Margie are going to order a 50 pound bag of Mrs. Pastures to split. 50 pounds!! I wonder how many individual cookies that is? It boggles the mind...

Although I only get half, even though I am a much better and more deserving horse. 25 pounds... how long will that last?

I refuse to worry about this anymore. Mother said there will be cookies, so there will be cookies. I did all that worrying and nearly have an ulcer, and there really wasn't anything to worry about.

Mother took me down to the grass by the outdoor arena and let me eat while she read her book. It was nice to munch away and have her there for company, although she kept sticking her freezing little human fingers under my warm mane. Human fingers are okay when they warm and are petting me or fixing my equipment or my food or handing me cookies or brushing me or whatever... But they're really kind of creepy, you know? Like their hooves just split and are all frog and they just have little hoof half tips that they pick at your scabs with.

Great, now I'm creeped out by fingers. I think I need to see a hippo-psychiatrist. Can anyone recommend a good one?

Do you think they give patients cookies? I could be really sick for a long time...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Working Life

Today was fun. I got to go to the new indoor arena and get lunged. I haven't been lunged since summer, before I went to my surgery. Mother didn't lunge me for very long, which is too bad because it was kind of fun. I hadn't been in the indoor with footing in it, I was only there one time this summer and it had rocks for the floor and the floor was a lot lower. We just went in and walked around and left that time.

Mother said she wanted to have an idea of how I looked so she can monitor how lame I am. That isn't nice, plus I plan to hide how lame I am, anyway. She'll never know how bad it is. If you show lameness, the wolves come for you first, so I am PERFECTLY FINE!! Hear me? FINE!!

It was nice to be working, though. I see her with the big Ruby, and with some of the other horses, and it is not fair that she doesn't spend that time with me. I am her horse, not those others.

She went to clip my halter path (I don't wear a bridle anymore) tonight and was muttering that the new blades she put on are already dull, since she clipped my head. She grabbed a friend's clippers to finish my bridle path, and they were a lot louder. I hate loud noises. I let her do it, but wasn't my usual good self where I lower my head. I even raised it a little. She needs to realize those clippers are loud and hurt my ears. It must be true that humans don't have as good of hearing as we do. That's sad.

Oh, and while Mother was doing my stall, she asked Aunt Mary to graze me, rather than leaving me in the crossties, or sticking me back out in the mud lot, where there isn't much grass. I love grass! I've been eating a lot of hay lately, since the upper pastures are closed when the footing isn't dry enough. I was happy to have easy to eat grass, instead of scrubbing all over the mud lot, looking...

Poor Aunt Mary. I think she liked being with me, but she looked so cold. I don't understand why people have no hair, other than that skimpy mane on their heads. They wear all these things, and are still cold. Why don't they just grow a nice coat like I do?  I don't get it.

Anyway, it was nice to eat the grass. Anut Mary says nice things about me, and she isn't one of the loud people. I like her.

Mother has been giving me three cookies a lot at night. I hope that means she has a source for my cookies. I could get by on two an evening, even one if I really had to, if it means they'll always be there... I really hope she knows what she's doing.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Attack of the Groundhog

Ok, the groundhog has me a little freaked out. You may recall I mentioned there was a growing hole in the area of the stall next to me, and a correspondingly growing pile of dirt. I heard some of the humans making a groundhog comment, but... what size of a groundhog must it be? Look at this!

Something about this is just so NOT RIGHT...

Oh, NO!! Awful thought! What if it is the amoeba? What if it has evolved and that is why it is in the barn now? That is right by the shavings where the amoeba sometimes lived. And now my stall is the closest. Why did they take that wall down?! What if it comes for me, and I am stuck in my stall?

Worse, Mother acts as if the hole and dirt pile isn't even there... I am all too aware. What if the groundhog suddenly pops up out of there? What if something worse than the groundhog pops up from out of there?

Mother said they are putting automatic waterers out in the field for us, but I don't see why that makes dirt pile up in the barn, or why there has to be that hole, or any of it. I just want things to go back to how they were. I want the stall wall up again in that other stall, so if the Shavingophilis Garganagiganticus starts coming into the barn, it'll be harder for it to get me.

Mother also laughed that no matter how hard I tried, I would never pass as an Arabian. I'm not sure what that means, either.

I guess I shouldn't worry about whatever this groundhog is doing. Mother walks over to the hole and nothing happens to her. And so far, my stall hasn't flooded, so I guess the groundhog knows what he's doing... I'll just keep an eye on it.

Oh, and no real word on the cookie famine. I know I am down to my last thirty or forty cookies, I really hope Mother finds a source again soon.

I think I'm getting an ulcer. This is all just so stressful!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I am a good horse... Really

I hope you didn't think because of yesterday's post that I am mean, or vicious, or anything like that, just because I pin my ears from time to time.

Sometimes, it is just circumstantial..

like flies bothering me.

I am very sweet... and quiet... not wild at all.

I wouldn't want for you to get the wrong impression.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rules: A Sampler

Mother has a series of rules for me to follow. And while at times it seemed like there were an awful lot of them, I realized (because I am smart) that many of them are related. Most of them are pretty easy once I figured them out. She says there are all sorts of things I don't have to do now that she won't be riding me. And she says there are lots of rules I never met because I didn't break them to know they existed!

One of the rules is the "ears forward" rule. When Mother brings me my dinner, I need to back up out of the way if I am close to the stall door, and I must have my "ears forward" before she'll put my feed pan down. I may not approach until the food is put down. She also insists my "ears are forward" if she is in my stall and is leaving it while I am still eating.

When I first came to Ohio, I had first pick of the hay when she gave it to Devlin and me. Mother made me leave the hay if I pinned my ears at her while eating it. Since she is the one in charge, I understand. It's her hay, or grain, or stall, until she leaves it. THEN IT'S MINE, and no other horse can have it. I am kind to all humans, and strangely, they all make sure I step back, and "ears forward" as well.

When Mother is leading me, I have to stay along side, or even behind her. I am not allowed to get my shoulder in front of her, or she reminds me that she is in charge and that I belong back there. Sometimes when I get excited it is hard to remember, but I actually feel calmer when she reminds me that she is the leader. It is hard to be in charge. The responsibility...

Sometimes, just every once in a while, when Mother visits me in the field, I play at being the one in charge. As she is walking away, I will follow along with my ears pinned, like I am the one in charge, and I am moving her. Even though I am at least two horse lengths away from her, she always senses it, and will charge at me with her ears pinned (it is hard to see that, but I can definitely feel them) to remind me that even in play she is leader. It was just a joke... although I could be in charge, if needed. I was very powerful in the bachelor herd in North Dakota. And I can move all the geldings around in my bachelor herd now.

Mother was commenting to another human on how it's never a good idea to let a 1200 pound prey animal with a brain the size of a tangerine be in charge of the relationship. I don't know how big my brain is, and I don't weigh 1200 pounds, but it is comforting to know that I don't have to make all the decisions for the herd. I can trust Mother's lead; even though we've been to some strange places, I haven't been eaten yet.

Some other grooming time rules: Keep your feet planted unless asked. This includes no striking when she grooms the itchy/ticklish spot on my chest (I haven't done that in well over a year, but I still lift my leg sometimes, and Mother reminds me to "stand up"). Keep the hind leg down on the side Mother is working on if she is near my haunches. She taught me that by quietly reminding "stand up" and gently pulling my tail toward her anytime I was resting my hind leg on the side she was on. I would shift my weight because that is where my balance was pulled to. Eventually, I realized that she would always do that, so it's easier to just "stand up" without being asked.

It's not as easy as it sounds, though. One day, when I was convalescing at Aunt Marilyn's, two humans (Aunt Marion and her Derrick) came with Mother to visit me and they were all brushing on me. Aunt Marion and her Derrick were on my left side, brushing through my tail, so I had that hind foot down and rested my right. Well, Mother was brushing my right side, and eventually started on my hindquarters. I quickly snapped that foot down , then went to rest my left, but wait, there was Aunt Marion and her Derrick, shift again, wait, Mother. AHHHH! This happened in the space of a second or two. Mother laughed at me, Marion and her Derrick looked confused until Mother told them what happened. I stood firmly then on both back legs, but Mother quickly finished and joined them on my left side, so I could rest my leg again. It was really hard to follow the rule that time.

There are more rules, but it's cookie time, and I need to hide the computer, or Mother might cut off my wi-fi again. Bye!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday night musings

Strange things are going on at the barn. The stall next to me has lost a wall. It isn't the wall that separated mine from that stall, or I'd just have a really big stall! There is a large pile of dirt on the floor of the other stall. I've heard the humans talking about the groundhog that's been digging near the barn, but that would be an enormous groundhog. Mother said something about the owner moving the water lines. They hired a groundhog to do that? I hope he's licensed. I wouldn't want my stall to flood.

My friend Sonney was out in the rain with all of us today. While most of us came in at dinner time and started munching hay, Sonney was the victim of the blowing /slurping air machine. I saw the machine the first time the other evening, it was making a different noise then. Aunt Erin was running the weird fat snakey hose with a funny end over Sonney. It freaked me out, but Sonney just stood there. He doesn't seem to mind... I am almost curious about the machine, but not quite curious enough. It is loud!

Mother was proud of me tonight. She laughs with Aunt Nancy that she gets way too excited sometimes about my accomplishments, compared to things that most humans find pride in. Hey, I never asked to be a show horse. Domestication was a big enough step.

Mother was picking my feet out, while we were standing in the back porch crossties. I don't like those crossties as well as the ones inside the barn, especially when it is night and I can't see very well out into the dark because the light is by me, and especially when it is in the cold season and the open window wall stalls have their walls up and I can't see any other horses when I am out there. Mother was picking one of my front feet and something scared me.

I am a good horse. I pick up my feet when asked, and I keep my feet planted unless I am asked to pick them up. "Four on the floor", as Mother likes to say. I keep my weight on the back hoof of whatever side Mother is on, like she taught me. She says it is easier for vets to feel my legs and work on me, and to wrap my legs or put on boots, and put on my Keratex. She says it is impolite to lift a leg when she is near my haunches, even if I was just going to rest it. I don't know why she worries, I've never kicked at a human. Well, there was that one farrier, but they're not really humans. We had irreconcilable differences. He liked loud noises. And I only kicked him once. Actually, I've never seen him again. Hmmm... I guess he's OK.

Oh, so when Mother was cleaning my feet there was this sudden noise and it startled me. I hunkered and leapt a little to the side and Mother released my foot, because she knew I might need it to run from the danger. I stood and shook, peering into the darkness to figure out what frightened me, but I realized I wasn't going to get eaten, so I held my foot up again for Mother before she approached to ask for it. I kept looking into the darkness, though... what was that?

Mother thought it was very smart and sweet of me to re-raise my foot while I was still shaking from my scare, resuming our previous activity after my interruption. That's just good manners. I assure you, if I had thought of removing my foot from Mother's grasp under normal circumstances... well, that isn't really an option. She is very persistent. I haven't even tried in well over a year and a half.

Mother respected my fear and released my foot without my really asking for it. I like that she respects my need for my feet. She knows when I am being willful (she calls it bad, but I am entitled to my own opinion, aren't I?) and when I am not. She taught me how to pick up my feet when I came to Ohio. In North Dakota, there were rules to staying alive, one of the most important: You must always keep your feet. She helped me realize humans could hold them and do things to my hooves and it was safe. It was harder for me to give that up than Devlin Pony, but I was almost seven and had never had anything control my feet but my legs. I am smart, but instinct trumps brain. It took a long time for trust in Mother to override instinct.

I have thoroughly assimilated now, you'd never know I still have so many instincts. I like shavings and delivered-to-my-feet hay and grain and easy, clean water and cookies. I like having someone clean my coat and that they don't leave gouges and '"friend marks". I even like having cleaned, evenly trimmed feet. If I have to deal with a few idiot-synchrocies of Mother and follow all her rules, it's worth it. No one is trying to eat me. Speaking of eating, that's the best part! COOKIES! Yumm...

Friday, November 13, 2009


Mother says wi-fi doesn't work down here at the barn when she is really busy. I don't see how she's really busy, though; she is only around here a few hours every day, and she mostly sits around and talks. That doesn't seem busy. And she's been down here even less than usual this week. So she has plenty of time... how is she busy?

And I overheard some terrible news today. The humans were saying how hard it is to find Mrs. Pastures cookies. Apparently the local stores they buy them from are out. There is a Mrs. Pastures cookie famine in southwest Ohio! What if it is state, oh no, country wide?!? Mother says we're OK because she still has two thirds of a bag left, but I'm worried... this is why I don't like to listen to human words. It's bad news.

What if my talking about them has caused horses everywhere to persuade their owners to go buy Mrs. Pastures for them?! I just like them so much, though... I mean, they are crunchy and sweet and perfect. And Mother likes that they aren't super processed (whatever that means). But I shouldn't have told anyone. What if there aren't any available for me? sniff... sniff...

And Mother has been riding other horses more often. I see her go off with one, while I am stuck standing in the pasture. Without my grain! Or my hay! Why doesn't she want to ride me anymore? It's just a bad joint... I'm used to it. I had it before, when she was teaching me. Of course, I was a little grumpy when it was sore. I didn't buck or anything like that, just... reluctant about things.

Or, when she does do something besides brush me, she puts the belly band with the rings on and we ground drive. That's all right, but not very exciting... Except last night, when she started driving me after the sun was already long gone. We were out a ways on the driveway when the coyotes that live in the neighborhood set up an unholy racket. Then I saw brief flashes of what looked like Thippers and Rebelbebel in the swift moving car headlights. And the coyotes did not sound right at all. I was very worried, and wanted to go back to the barn and my stall and dinner... and away from the demonic coyotes and the creepy images that were not quite my friends... this was all NOT RIGHT.

Mother wouldn't let me go back. I alarm snorted, several times actually, to let her know how unsafe it was. I danced in place so that if she let me go back to the barn we could get there quickly. Mother said later I looked like a contestant on "So You Think You Can Dance?". I don't know what that is. The coyotes kept getting louder, the ones that didn't sound right at all, and I could hear ghostly hoof beats on the driveway. I admit, I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. If Mother hadn't been there, I would have been in my stall in 2.3 seconds.

Mother was right though, when she said it was OK. It WAS Thippers and Rebelbebel with their humans. I realized it was the humans making the unholy coyote noises. I knew those yips just weren't right.

Mother made me walk up and down the driveway a few more times. Then she brought me in the barn and brushed me. And when she gave me my evening cookies, there were three of them all in a row when I picked them up. YUMM!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Clippers...Is there anything they can't do?

Mother mutters that at least I can be beautiful, if not useful. I am useful! I do... lots of thing. None come to mind right now, but lots of things!

I have come to like clippers, because Mother is happy when she clips me, and I feel special. Mother strangely seems to think the more hair she removes from my person, the more beautiful I am. I know I am beautiful exactly how I am, at all times, even when the side of my head and neck is green because I used the warm pillow the night before. Mother hates when I do that, so I try to make sure it is the mane side I lay down on. Henh henh henh henh.

Oh, so clippers. When I first met clippers, I really didn't like them. I didn't realize that Ohio would be so much warmer than North Dakota, so I grew my normal coat. Big mistake! It felt like 95 degrees in that thing when I arrived in December. Pony Devlin and I would sweat just eating grass. By springtime, though, I'd gotten used to the balmy winter in Ohio, and when Mother decided to introduce me to clipping, well, let's just say I thought that was unnecessary.

My biggest fear of the clippers, beyond their vibrations and the noise and the way your skin gets tugged sometimes (Mother says it's because I have such dense hair and that clipper blades can only take so much), was the scary narrow snake that followed the clippers wherever Mother took them. Sometimes the snake would touch me, and that was awful! Eventually I realized that, like the blue snake the water comes from, it's not a real bite-you kind of snake. But I still watch it... you never know when those things might turn.

One time, after I was already perfect with clippers, Mother used a small little clipper that didn't have a snake. I thought that was creepy! And it seemed louder than the snakey one. I think she ended up using it on the cat. Good riddance. I have gotten used to the snake, but noise is always bad. Just have to keep watching the snake... watch it... watch...

Oh, so learning about clippers. The first time with that thing around, even silent, I was in real fear for my life. A snake. And it levitates off the ground. And it was by my legs. I really need those to run away from danger... like snakes! Mother tried to work with me many times, and I was always still... nervous. One day she gave me hay. It was a huge breakthrough for me. I was eating and she started clipping... and I was still eating! I hadn't died. The snake, while icky, didn't hurt me. Mother was able to trim my legs, and trim my withers (she said I look like a yak with hair halfway down it's back, and that trimming there would make the saddle pad look and feel better... I can't tell the difference. I can't see up there very well.). I still needed a little convincing with trimming the area right behind my ears... that vibbbbration is really irritating. But I was good. And she took all the hair out of my jowls and underside of my face, because she told me I don't want to look like a yak. I've honestly never even seen one, but they sound like they have a lot of hair.

Then we got to my ears. MY ears. Not her ears. She kinda let me have that one, so we didn't fuss.

Funny thing, though, one time when I was sedated up at the doctor's... Oh, every time I went I got sedated, it was great! I love vets! Anyway, one time Mother trimmed my ears when I was still a little groggy. And you know what? It really wasn't that bad. Since then she has always been able to do my ears. I am such a good boy.

She just trims the outside, and I always have my whiskers, except when I went to Equine Affaire. She even took some of my longer chesthairs and neckhairs off for that. She called them aberrant sprouters. Hey, I did what I had to to stay warm up north.

So tonight, Mother brings out the clippers. I was a little surprised, because she had gotten them out last night, too, and she already did my legs and behind the ears and down the ears and the underside of my face. Tonight she said I was sweating so much, she would take off more of my head... What?! I heard her tell people she was going to take off my face!!

But all she did was clip my forehead and down my front, and got all around the base of my ears and under my forelock. I felt a lot lighter, and less itchy. No more sweat! She muttered something about track marks but that it would all be grown back by December anyway. By then it will be colder and I will like the hair. I don't grow a thick coat like I had to when I was really young, because it is really hot here in the south. I still sweat easily, but not as much as that first winter.

Mother wanted to take a picture for my blog, but I don't like to look less than my best, and she trimmed down over my face scar, so people can see it, and I don't like that. And I don't want people seeing my track marks. I wasn't even a racehorse, I shouldn't have track marks.

I got three cookies for my goodnight kiss. I love clippers.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why I hate Q-Tips

This picture should pretty much tell you why I hate Q-Tips! Trademark be damned! How did a sweet, wonderful horse like me end up in this predicament?

Well, when Mother first met me in August of 2007, I had a small, pus-y wound on my face. At the time, she thought (hoped) maybe it was a small cut that was infected. I was a range sort of horse, after all. When she came for her second visit in November... well, let's just say I was a little crusty... In early December, after Mother decided for sure on me and Devlin, it was time for me to get ready to go to Ohio. There was a human man who taught me about halters and trailers and took me to town to the vet (that's a whole other horrible story!). The vet gave me some antibiotics for the other "operation" being performed on me, and looked at the face and said, "Probably third premolar", and that was all. A few days later, I was in Ohio.

Fortunately, Mother had already called Uncle Jeff, even before she bought me. His real name is Dr. Reiswig, but because I spent so much time with him, I call him Uncle Jeff. Uncle Jeff works on horses' teeth, although he doesn't often have to see teeth as stubborn as mine. Uncle Jeff heard her describe my pus hole, and how much I didn't know about humans, and he said, "These kinds of things can take months to heal up properly. Are you sure that is something you want to get into?" Mother responded immediately with a tiny, "No." She then laughed, "I don't really have a choice. I really like this horse... I can't just leave him out there like that." He agreed to see us on December 31st.
Mother called the ranch and purchased us, we went to the vet in town, then several days and an interminable trailer ride later, I was in Ohio. It was 3 or 4 days before Christmas.

Some other time I'll tell you about my first days in Ohio (It was really hot and balmy! 55 degrees is murder in a North Dakota coat!) and my trips to Uncle Jeff. This is about the Q-Tips.

After my infected tooth got removed... ahhh, bliss! Food was so easy to eat, and I could taste like when I was young, again. This is when I really fell in love with Mrs. Pasture, and her cookies. What a wonderful woman!

Unfortunately, my face had trouble healing, because there were bits of skull that would decide not to stay with the rest of the skull, and they would rot and the infection would come out of my hole. Sometimes, both before and at times after my initial surgery, I smelled so bad even I couldn't stand it. Mother would clean it with water and betadine and paper towels or gauze every day, twice a day. Even though she used warm water, I hated it. It hurt! Sometimes she would grab my tongue and pull it aside and peer into my mouth with her little headlamp on her head to see if the plug for my empty tooth socket was still in place. She figured out if she dipped her damp hand in a salt and sugar mix before she grabbed my tongue that I didn't fight very much. After a few weeks, though, even that got really old. I had different plugs in my head for over 9 months, and I never lost one!

And Dr. Jeff recommended using Q-Tips. The Q-Tips with iodine were the worst! Sometimes she just swabbed the outer part with the Q-Tip, that's not too bad. Sometimes she would really swab around in there. She'd sidle up, jab it in, then walk away while I protested. She would walk back up and wiggle it around in my hole! ... AAAHGGGHHH! Other times, Mother even squirted iodine and salt water in the hole. All this while I was still learning about humans! I knew it needed to be done. I felt bad fighting, and at the end of each cleaning I would put my head against Mother so she knew I understood she didn't mean to hurt me.

My hole would get better, worse, worse, better. Sometimes it would close and my face would puff, and then it would blow open again. At one point, when the face had swollen before the hole blew open, the open hole was big enough to stick a pencil in, and went kind deep into my head, since I was swollen. Mother fashioned the ghetto-Bandaid, tented over the hole and opened at the bottom for drainage, since it was really windy and dusty and she didn't want stuff flying into my portal. Like it really mattered! It just made the other horses laugh at me. "Flesh colored" means human flesh colored, not me colored... sigh.

Mother and the vet gave me different antibiotics, my mouth got opened again at the empty tooth hole, and cut open from the top over and over (I am the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! You can carve me again and again and again) and there were lots of x-rays. I made lots of trips to Uncle Jeff and even stayed with him a few times for weeks and weeks, once early in the summer and then again in the fall after I had surgery. They used a really special x-ray that made the bits of my skull that were rotting inside easier to see. I'll tell you later about the hospital stay, but the surgery finally fixed my face, and it took 8 weeks for the inside tooth hole to fill in. I went back to Mother at about this same time last year.

Mother always marveled that I never became even the least bit head shy. Why would I? The hole in my face and the cleaning didn't have anything to do with how she feels about me, and how I feel about her. She wasn't doing it to be mean.

Mother says that is part of why humans think I am very smart, that I am very special. Really, I am just a dignified sort. I only "nipped" her once in all those months of cleaning, and it was really just I opened my lips and pressed my teeth on her hand. That shouldn't even count.

I usually would just keep stretching my head away if I could. She laughed that I was vain, because she couldn't take a picture of the hole side if I wasn't tied up. I would just bend and bend and bend.

I really just want to forget the hole thing happened. Could I have another cookie, please?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The importance of a name

Mother has a little problem... she likes naming things. So everyone I know ends up with a nickname, like Haj or Thippers, or just a really weird name like me.

I know humans often look at Mother oddly about my barn name. "Boyfriend". What kind of name is that for a horse?

It is partly my fault, I must admit. I was out in the bachelor band, which was lots of us Nokotas from several birth years. I had met Mother earlier that August day, but when she came out with with one of the hay feeding men to identify me, I pretended I didn't know who she was because there was someone else there. She called, "Come on, buddy. Come on over here, boyfriend." I'm a boy. I want to be her friend... I backed up from my hay (at the time she didn't know what a miracle that was) and visited with her.

The next morning, she came with another hay feeding man, and I was way at the back of the grass on the pasture, but I heard her call,"Come on, Boyfriend." I didn't know at the time Boyfriend was a different sort of word than just Boy and Friend. Words can be really confusing.

Mother tried to come up with other names for me, but I ignored her. I only answered to Boyfriend. Boyfriend has a certain panache, a certain status other horses will never achieve. It's like I am a person.

Of course, Pony Devlin's barn name was easy to figure out... Devil-in-Pony. Mother said actually, after he had a few "religious experiences", that he was not really so devilish at all. It's a pony thing.

Mother gave him his registered name: Hide the Silver. Some humans said that wasn't very nice, it made him sound like a common thief. Well, I lived with him, he stole my food whenever he could! Mother said it was a fun, mischievous name for a fun, mischievous pony. And that it was hard to see where all of his white (silver)markings were in his wild winter coat.

Mother had a horse before she got us from North Dakota. She would always tell me I had some big shoes to fill and would pat me, but I don't even wear shoes. I have seen other horses with shoes, but they seem kind of heavy and odd... and it hurts more when you get kicked by shoes. Any way, after she found out about the hole in my leg and the surgeon's report, she stopped saying that about Cappy's shoes.

His name was Bookeeper. Mother says he was solid citizen, a kind of Clark Kent guy who seemed like your normal, everyday tax accountant, but led a secret exciting life when no one is around, capable of great deeds. I don't think that name makes any sense. Bookkeepers sound boring. And she spelled it wrong.

Then there's me. Mother says there was no reason she should have chosen me from all my relatives. I had an infected, pus-clumped hole and was kind of short and not as pretty of a mover as some of my cousins. But I had chosen her, and obviously needed her.
My name is Chant du Coeur. That's 'song of the heart' in French. She chose French because in my great-grand-horses parentage, when we were marched back from the cold north lands after losing our Sioux humans, and arrived a far smaller number than we began, a Frenchman bought the majority and raised and worked us for many of our generations, and she'd rather use a French name than Kicking Feather or whatever.

Mother said in the months between meeting me and her second trip to decide who to bring to Ohio, she always felt like her heart told her to pick me, even though her mind said otherwise. She took pictures of me her second trip, and even though her friends thought it was crazy to pick the holey horse, Mother couldn't help but smile whenever she saw "my sweet face"... she saw me, not my hole.

Now, everyone tells me how handsome I am. Most humans never even notice the scar on my face. They tell me I'm beautiful. And beautiful horses always get the most cookies.

First ride... by a montain lion!!

Before Mother realized I had more holes than just my face, she wanted me to be her "riding horse". She brought me and Devil-in-Pony (I mean Devlin Pony) from North Dakota and planned to teach us both how to be riding horses. She said Pony would find a new home before too long since she was too lazy to diet, but that she would keep ME! I guess Devlin did find a new home, because I haven't seen him in a long time, although for a while after he left she would come to visit me each day and a lot of times I could smell dust and hair on her that smelled like Devlin.

The hole in my face took a long time to heal, so while when Pony lived with me Mother would put a funny pad with a belly strap on us, she said to get us used to belly straps. Soon she would saddle us, on our necks and our bellies and haunches and finally on the back, and lead us up next to things to lean on us. Pony Devlin never minded , and I saw her walk around on Devlin and eventually trot and stuff. I just got saddled. Sometimes she would lean on me a little bit but I didn't really like that. It felt funny with the saddle on. It was rigid and not like being petted.

When I met Mother out in North Dakota, the second day she came out to me and put her arm over my back and in her mind I could see pictures of us running along green grass and jumping logs and things I didn't understand. I didn't understand, but I was willing to learn. I didn't know then she meant I would have to wear this saddle and have someone on me!

One day Mother had Aunt Marilyn (she's a nice lady that feeds me) hold me when I was saddled and she leaned on me which I'd mostly forgotten was creepy and then she actually sat on me. That felt odd. It was kind of scary, but OK. The scariest part was when she got off my back. Suddenly she is right along side me when she had been UP THERE. and the sound when her feet hit the ground. Whomp. It was very unsettling.

She did that a few more times over the next days, then one morning Mother had Aunt Karin hold me. I'd only met Aunt Karin the day before, but she is a lot like Mother. After Mother climbed aboard, Aunt Karin started walking with me. I heard Mother say before that the first walk can be dangerous, and I have to say, it's still all very hazy in my mind. I walked quickly and felt little movements on my back as my muscles, which I never noticed before, couldn't move as much because the saddle didn't move and there was more pressure on one side but Aunt Karin let me move along and when I relaxed Mother got off. I didn't understand why Devlin liked this.

So, where's the mountain lion? Well, Mother didn't have anything connecting her to me but the saddle and her legs, and her hands petting me. So that doesn't really count as a ride. So the first ride:

The next day, she had Aunt Marilyn hold me, and she put reins on my halter. Pony used a bit and bridle, but I had my hole in my head, and Mother hadn't taught me... and something about getting pus all over her nice leather. Mother put the reins on the halter because she said I might walk too fast for Aunt Marilyn.

We start walking and my back started feeling weird and I needed to walk faster. Aunt Marilyn couldn't walk that fast, and I ended up walking in front of her, I swung in front of her and there was a fence! I couldn't walk. That is when Mother turned into a mountain lion and I knew I had to get the lion off me very fast or I would die. I taste just like chicken!

I don't remember much of trying to get the mountain lion off. I know I reared and turned and ran, leaping and throwing my body to try to rid it of the lion. Halfway along the fence we had just come I vaguely heard Aunt Marilyn yell, "I no longer have a hold of him!" And from closer, Mother saying, "I'm AWARE!!"

Mother?! Where was she while the mountain lion attacked me? I could hear her calling out to ho-up, but the lion was there, and I couldn't stop. At one point I paused at the fence, I thought I heard her over the lion's breathing, then the lion shifted on my back and I knew he had to go! It was only a matter of time before his teeth and claws raked me to Bif-ereens. I ran, leaping, bucking, launching myself into the air as hard and as fast as I could. After what seemed a long time around the ring, I felt the mountain lion fly off. My head jerked as the halter tightened, and I spun and looked... Mother? Why are you there on the ground? What happened to the mountain lion?

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I was thinking about hay. I admit, I often think about hay. Next to Mrs.Pasture's cookies and grass, and sometimes my grain, hay is the best thing in the world!

Mother doesn't give me much grain. She says I look like a brood mare far along in her pregnancy. Is it my fault that I am from North Dakota and have a very conservative metabolism?
She does give me grain, but not much and it is ruined by all this other stuff she puts in it... weird other pellets, some even taste like seaweed! That little hint of alfalfa isn't hiding much! And other things I don't even know how to describe. She says I have to eat them, that they are good for my joints and that they'll make me more comfortable and that she spends a lot of money on them. Why does she bother? They're gross! She soaks my grain first and mixes all the other stuff in, so I really don't have a lot of choice. But the pellets are better than powder. I hate powder. Unless it's that apple-y stuff Mother calls 'bute'... yum.

Of course, when I first came to her and had a hole in my head, she used to do even weirder things to my grain. She mixed in warm oatmeal with sugar (YUMM!!) but ruined it by this weird tasting powder. Uncle Jeff, my dentist, found out I'll eat my medicine as pills and just chucked them in my grain. Sure, they do taste kind of gross, but I'd rather have a pill I can crunch and just swallow, instead of my whole grain tasting like that...

Fortunately, Mother hasn't found a way to ruin my hay. It's the best!! I like it better than the hay back home... I don't have to share it with all those other horses. She gives me a lot, too, which is VERY important. Some of it is boring, and I don't like to eat that real fast. I like the leafy alfalfa and other really green stuff best, though I don't get nearly as much as that. The boring hay is always there all night long, and I can munch at it whenever I get hungry through the night.

When I first came to Ohio, I would start eating hay, and nothing could stop me. Back in North Dakota, if you didn't eat fast, one of the others would take it.I have since figured out that the hay never stops coming here. I love Ohio. Sometimes, Mother has even bedded my entire stall with hay. Something about low shavings and needing to make room for more hay anyway. I walked in the first time and thought I might have been hallucinating. And really, was I expected to eat all that?

So now Mother is trying to figure out how much boring hay to get for this winter. I want her to get just the green alfalfa-y stuff. I do NOT look like a brood gelding!! Thank goodness she doesn't think cookies make me fat. I'd be lost without my cookies... crunchy, oaty... YUMMM!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Language Arts: English 101

Mother often says I understand English better than most 'farm raised' horses who've been around people their whole lives. She thinks I'm smart. Of course, that is true. But really, the answer is a lot simpler than that...

Like I've mentioned before, I talk with my mind. Words don't make a lot of sense to me, but sensations and feelings and pictures do make sense. I grew up with lots of horse minds all around me, always accessible. Understanding Mother is easy because I just look at the pictures in her mind, the way I would another horse. Her mind is easier to read than most humans, because it is really empty inside.

When I am in her mind, it is a big space with sensations, pictures, all around me. Most of the time they move slowly, one picture at a time and one sensation along with it. Mother's sensations are usually pleasant, so I like trying to be in her mind. Best, it's quiet in there. Like munching grass on a cool morning... yummmm... munch munch munch.

When I am frightened, I can look in Mother's mind and that makes me calmer. Sometimes there are darker areas around the edge that seem translucent yet dusky, and I can almost see pictures there, but I can't really make them out, most of the time. I cannot quite see if the pictures are happy pictures, but I can tell by sound. Sometimes it seems those dark areas have noise, a not nice noise, an almost hissing noise, and that makes me uneasy. She'll notice I am upset, then I look again in her mind, the dark spots are gone, and that is good.

I didn't like many humans other than Mother at first, because there was so much noise in their minds when I tried to look in. I didn't like them near me unless Mother was there, too, and I could just listen to her mind. Sometimes their noise comes out and finds me, even when I'm not trying to look in their minds. If I physically look at them, they are looking at me. Creepy!

After a while, I got used to other humans' minds and noise. Mother has a noisy mind when she talks on the little black flippy box, and sometimes around other humans at the barn and it makes my head hurt. Some pictures are bad, even though I am not in the pictures. I try to close my mind when she is like that.

I learned that most humans seem to have full minds and lots of noise swirling in them. That doesn't mean they are going to hurt me. They might even give me cookies! Sometimes if they stand near me, their minds seem to get quieter, and I like that. Sometimes I look in them and it is interesting, but I like Mother's mind best.

Of course, if I snort at the right time or prick my ears when she says something about me, my chances of getting an extra Mrs. Pasture's cookie at good night time seem to improve ... cookies... yum!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Baths...Really? Why?

Anything nice I said about Mother, I retract. I am a nice horse. I let myself be caught from the field with no problem. Sure, I figured there was a nice grooming and dinner in it for me. Or maybe dinner, then a brushing, then the rest of my hay. I love that. Sometimes there is no brushing, but there is still dinner. There is always dinner. Except that one time (or two, or three) I was at the hospital and waiting for surgery. No dinner! That's just awful.

What were we talking about? Oh, right, coming in, expecting dinner. But NO! I am cooperative, and what does it get me??

Cold, cold water from the blue snake. Sigh. FINE. But then she grabs the sponge and curry and the soapy bucket and... hello!! I was just warming up from the cold water dosing and she rubs the cold water into my coat?!? With the smelly foam?!

And she is thorough. Every little nook and cranny. Slosh, scrub, slosh, scrub, slosh, scrub. And then my face. Actually, I kind of like the face. Then rinse. Rinse. Rinse. The face rinse was kinda nice. Then scrape, scrape, scrape.

OK, I understand that since humans have no hair (well, they have skimpy manes, I guess) they have different ideas about what is clean enough and what isn't. If she thinks that scrubbing my body is good for me, I can deal. It's not that bad. On a hot summer day, the coolish water feels kind of good. And while it's colder out right now, I guess it's really no worse than being pushed into the pond by one of my brothers back home in North Dakota in the winter. But...

I get a hot dinner mush every night. I know there is some hot water. Why can't she use that on me? Why?

And the halter! I should have known when she came out with the fuscia nylon halter (she says 'raspberry purple', but it's pink) that something weird was going on. I never have to wear that, because I convinced Mother I don't like it, that I only like my black leather halter. I know she thinks the color looks good on me, and says it's purple, but it's pink!!

So, I was a good boy. Sure, I may have purposely aimed my poop into the drain, where it will steep and fester, but a) I never liked that drain, b) she can't prove I did it on purpose. So, I was perfect. And how did she reward me?

She put a big green amoeba on me!!

There are lots of amoebas in the human world that a horse has to learn about. Take, for instance, the amoeba Shavingophilos Gargantigiganticus.
Range: Anywhere. Everywhere! There is one that lives right outside my barn!
Description: blackish brown nebulous blob of indeterminate shape. Sometimes it swells as high as my head and two body lengths in any direction. And it has these creepy edges. Yuck. And sometimes it has appendages, the shovels and brooms to keep it from rising up and coming into the barn!
Movement: erratic. Not only does it move from day to day in broader motions, it can make many small movements, apparently of it's own volition. Although I have noticed this seems to happen on windy days. Hmmm... Perhaps, like us, it feels more unsettled when atmospheric pressures change and usher in weather fronts that are carried by the winds.
Diet: undetermined. This is really what creeps me out about it. One day there is nothing there but the small pile of shavings in its enclosure, then boom! There's this full blown amoeba! What around here could it eat to get that big that fast? But everyone is still in the barn. And the humans actually peel back it's crinkly amoeba skin and stab it with shovels, and they've never been eaten.
Classification: presumed safe. It hasn't eaten anyone yet, so I just keep an eye on it.

Oh, so anyway, Mother puts this big green amoeba on me, and I couldn't see my legs! I barely had hooves! Diet: ME!!

Once it was on awhile, it got nice and warm in the amoeba cocoon. And when we went outside so I may eat the grass, other horses were horrified to see I had been engulfed by an amoeba! But the grass was really good. Fresh, new green, yummmmm...

So Mother then takes off the amoeba. Cooler, but fine. She combs and brushes my mane. Fine. My tail. FINE. She commences spraying me with stuff out of a bottle. Wet again, allover. I just had dried off!! FINE.

Then I had to stand there while she readied my stall. Oh, come on!! Can't I have dinner?

Finally, dinner. And it had Mrs. Pasture's cookies mixed in. What a good day.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Welcome to my world

I am Boyfriend. This is my chance to tell how I came to be, and how I am still here.

Boyfriend is what Mother calls me, but most people find that too embarrassing, so you can call me Bif. When I say Mother, I mean my human, but that is how she refers to herself, "Mother", so I go along with it. No one is brave enough to point out to Mother the inappropriateness of naming a horse Boyfriend and then that that same horse should view her as mother. That is at least two kinds of wrong. Maybe three. Math isn't my strong suit. Rest assured though, our relationship is 100% agape.*

I have, over the two years of our lives together, taken to using her technological devices. In the beginning, I didn't understand that she could use that tiny black flippy plastic box to communicate to other humans. Horses don't need those. We talk with our minds. Why complicate things? I knew she wasn't speaking to me (well, it took a few funny incidents, I admit), but I didn't understand that some other human far away in the world was physically hearing her, and that is why Mother was talking. Since then, I call people, they call me, I send and receive emails. She mutters about the cost of Wi-Fi down at the barn and how I must keep the keyboard under my mats and that is why I sometimes paw them up. Silly human, I don't need a keyboard. I mean, really, that is just silly. My hooves are too big for the keys and my tongue isn't nearly as limber as that. No, I use the power of my mind to express my wishes, and they are put into print. And I am trying to reach Jay's hay under the wall.

Hey, it's no weirder than radio waves. Besides, the willing suspension of disbelief is crucial to a well rounded sense of humor.

Why, you may ask, am I special? It is not my grasp of technology... lots of horses write blogs. I am special because... well, in part because I am holey. Or at least in some ways that's how my specialness is revealed to people.

Every horse has a hole in it. My holes just happen to be physical. Literally. I had a hole in my head when I first met Mother. And after that was all over, she found out about the hole in my leg, stifle to be precise. And after she fixed that, well, let's just say you can't fix that. They took out the hole (sounds kind of paradoxical, doesn't it?), but I'll get more holes. I am very holey.

But if you ask Mother, she'll say I am special because I chose her. I had the chance, lots of chances actually, to pick a human before, but none were quite right. And it is foolish to wait around for the right one, in some respects, because if you take too long you can be sent away from the choosing fields. I was already six, long after most of my brothers and cousins of my birth year had picked their humans (or just been picked by the humans, which is rather brave and a touch foolhardy on those humans' parts). The story of my choosing my human will wait. I must tell you the secret, though, that is me. And while Aunt Nancy says I am the luckiest unlucky horse in the world, I know it isn't luck...

I am special because I am Horse. Spirit horse told me to pick the human I did, because I could learn to be with humans and be able to still be Horse. And despite my holeyness, I am still here. I am all that is strength and beauty and cooperation. And sometimes fear. I am impatient, peaceful, master, prey. I am Horse.

They say horses are noble. They look at my beautiful arched neck, my graceful head (I am not being vain, just stating facts), and say how lovely and noble Horse is. I have a secret for you, though. No matter how Horse we are... Really, I just want a Mrs. Pasture's horse cookie. Mother gives me a kiss on the schnozzle every night before she leaves and then gives me a cookie. She gives me "one for the road", sometimes, too. I just love those things!!!!

Yummm, cookies...

*Agape: Unconditional, self-sacrificing, thoughtful love. The highest and purest form of love, one that surpasses all other types of affection. Roughly paraphrased, thanks Wikipedia.
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