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?
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