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.
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