Apache, my beautiful Arabian/Quarter Horse cross, had a pretty crappy 2020, just like us people did. He ate too much fresh green grass this time last year and he went lame (foundered). Since then, he has spent a long time recovering, as I’ve documented in my blog (just search for Apache).
Since he’s declared better by Trixie the horse foot expert, we’ve been working with him. He’s so trim and fit that I hardly recognize him. Really, he’s lost weight in his face and looks more Arabian now. And Sara and I have both been working gently and carefully, and sure enough, he’s back to his old self!
Sara rode him for three days this week, then I rode him yesterday with her on Lakota. It went very well, so today we tried adding another element, Spice (who has back issues and isn’t rideable now) following with us, ponied alongside good ole Lakota. What a fun idea, or maybe not, if it makes a mess.
Luckily, it worked great! Sara tested her skills leading two horses, and I got to practice being calm when Apache had other ideas from me.
It was fun seeing how well he’s behaving and how relaxed and curious he was today. It was like we were in 2019. We all went all over the bottom land and up hills. Apache wanted to go ahead of the others (Lakota is not speedy).
We looked at stuff like ponds and the creek. Then we spent the whole way back going over every limb and log we encountered. What fun!
There’s still stuff to work on, of course, but today was fun for all. It’s all I ever wanted most of my life, a horse to have fun on and learn with. And one who is sweet and loving to me.
And smells like horse sweat. Mmm. Sara’s and my favorite perfume.
I know my friend Sara will enjoy today’s horse story. I made it back to the ranch between meetings. It was a beautiful afternoon, so I took off to feed the horses after my last meeting of the day. I felt so good that I even jogged there. I guess the Wolf Moon DID make the world feel like a better place for me!
There were no problems feeding Apache, Fiona, and Big Red, who enjoyed their hugs (not the chicken) and grub. Then, I went over with the food for Spice and Lakota. Hmm. They weren’t standing there waiting for me, like they usually are every afternoon!
So, I called them. I saw Spice raise her head, way at the far end of the pasture, over by Sara’s house. I called again, and the head didn’t move. I them spotted the immobile form of Lakota. Why on earth weren’t they thundering their way over to me?
I walked and walked. I got to the narrow, muddy space they have to go through to get to where I feed them. There they were, staring at me in the way that horses that are nervous stare. I called them. More staring, then turning around and going the other way. That was NOT like them.
Now I was really curious as to what was up with those two. I finally walked up to them. Lakota was pacing, turning, and breathing hard. Spice was frozen, staring across the fence.
I looked across the fence. There I saw a whole lot of robins, a couple types of sparrows, random meadowlarks, and some brush. I couldn’t imagine that rowdy robins were that scary. Was there something in the brush or the woods? Meanwhile, Lakota is breathing hard and flaring his nostrils. Spice looks like she sees a ghost. Maybe she did.
That was enough of that, so I started back, encouraging them to come with me. They did, slowly. When I got to the muddy spot, they froze again, this time staring at the wooded area they usually hang out in all day JUST FINE. I began to wonder if there were hogs in there or something. Or a bobcat. Eek.
Bravely, I went back through the squishiness. As soon as I got across, Spice decided it was time to make her escape. She zipped through the mud, followed by Lakota. Luckily no mud landed on me as she flew by me. They proceeded to leave me in their galloping wake as they beelined toward the water trough and area where we feed them.
I looked carefully for unfamiliar things as I walked back. Nope, nothing was out of the ordinary that I could see. No hog evidence or any other oddities. I guess there were ghosts in the woods.
When I finally reached them, they were drinking water like crazy. I guess they’d been “trapped” over at the other side of the pasture for a long time. You can rest assured, of course, that they weren’t so frightened that they couldn’t eat. They ate just fine.
I have absolutely NO idea what the drama was all about, though I was glad to see this little trailer that had apparently brought some fill for the biggest of the potholes on the driveway to the cabin and barn. That will be fun to ride the horses near and see what they think.
One thing went really well, yesterday, and that was all my interactions with the equine family members.
When I went out to let Apache and Fiona out to graze, Fiona followed me out the gate and acted like she wanted to hang out. So, I had some bonding time with her. I got her all brushed and pretty, then we went for a nice walk together.
Fiona’s really improved on her walking on a lead lately, and it was a pure joy to go out and about with her. I decided to try to take some nice pictures of her, but she wasn’t very cooperative.
We had a nice visit from Spice and Lakota, who were in the next pasture. They seemed genuinely glad to see Fiona, though Lakota will NOT get close to the electric fence. I think he’s had a bad experience or two.
In the evening, I came back to meet with Sara and put Fiona and Apache back in what I am now calling the Pen of Deprivation (no grass, no fun). Apache had been out four whole hours. We tried taking him on a walk down the dreaded race, and he showed no signs of lameness.
In fact, he started acting like his old self and not behaving well. I was thrilled to see him acting “normal” and got to work correcting his pushing and rushing. Then, when we got to the part of the race he hurt himself on before, he said it was time to stop. I think he stepped awkwardly on a rut.
I asked him if his foot hurt, and he pawed the ground. I took that as a yes. So, to end on a good note, I had him walk up to me, and we happily turned around and went toward home. He walked just fine on the way back.
Sara and I agree that between his obvious better spirits and the really crappy shape our grass is in, he can probably be turned out half the day or so. That will make both him and Fiona much happier. This fills me with joy! I may even get to ride again!
Here’s another fine thing that happened this weekend; we added a beautiful new friend to our little herd of equines, Lakota the Perfectly Perfect Palomino Pony. That is NOT his real name (I don’t know what it is, actually), and he is also not a pony, though he is of the smaller quarter horse type.
Sara, my horse partner and ranch neighbor, and I had debated this for a while, with her doing the most debating with herself. We only have so much pasture and don’t want to overload it. But, I have been promised fencing that will allow horses to hang out on our side of the ranch, which will help a lot with that issue.
Besides, Lakota is a horse who deserves to hang out with us. He already knows Spice, since they were owned by the same person for a while, and had spent time together in training, I think. He is beautifully trained by the same Parelli Natural Horsemandhip Method* trainer who trained all the horses we own, Kerri April, and used to belong to one of her family members when he was a fancy equine athlete. This means we don’t have to learn new ways to work with him; he’ll probably help train ME.
Sara got Spice from her friend Mary when Apache’s occasional lameness issues made it hard for her to to the horsemanship activities she wanted to on him. Mary had found Spice to be a bit much too handle, but she loved Spice very much and only wanted her to go to a fellow Parelli-trained owner. Sara was it! I’ve enjoyed Apache, Sara has enjoyed Spice, and all has been well.
Now Mary is moving to the suburbs and won’t be able to keep horses at her place anymore. She sold her others, but there was Lakota,** too old to sell as a consistent mount. She just wanted him to have a happy last few years. We said okay.
Now, Sara had never seen Lakota before, and was just happy to help out, since Mary said she’d pay all his expenses. We had enjoyed our old buddy Pardner very much, and he kept the other horses calm. We had hoped Lakota would be similar.
On Saturday, Mary and a friend brought him in their trailer. Sara took him and brought him down to the horse paddock. I could not believe what I saw. This may be the prettiest horse I ever saw in person, at least conformation-wise. He is built to be a barrel racer or other show horse. Compact and muscular (even at his age). His palomino coat is soft and shiny and somehow smells like vanilla.
Now, I’ve always been told that you get a horse based on personality first and looks second. DANG. He exudes peace and kindness, just like Pardner did! He is wonderful with people. How would he be with horses, we wondered?
This is the next amazing part. He went over to Fiona, who was wandering around looking well-groomed (briefly). They touched noses and sniffed each other. Hey. Hey.
When we put him in the pens next to where Apache and Spice were, he was all excited, as were they. He and Apache touched noses, then nibbled each other’s shoulders. Hey. Hey.
Spice jumped up and down and made mare noises. She recognized him! It took her a while to calm down, but soon everyone was standing nose to nose, happy as they could be. We left them alone to get used to each other with a fence separating them.
Later that day, I got to ride Apache with the bit and bridle Mary conveniently sold to me, which was the same kind Sara was already teaching him with. I did not fail! I did it (and yes, I know there are other options; this stuff is all in Sara’s hands, not mine, since she’s training him).
After the ride, when everyone had eaten, we put everyone in the big pasture together. So much joy ensued that it brought happy tears to our eyes (yay, happy tears). They all ran around, then the paints showed Lakota all around the area. Then they suddenly realized they were in the GOOD grass and started eating away.
It appears that Lakota is in good enough to do trail rides with us, though he has some heat issues and we will have to watch him. In any case, they all bonded really fast and don’t like being separated. That’s not bad. We are grateful to Mary for letting us share this grand old gentleman. He may not be perfect, but his introduction to our herd certainly was!
*I do not endorse any particular natural method of training horses. I think they are all good.
**Why we end up with all these horses with Native American tribe names is beyond me.
I was surprised to see reach as the UU Lent word of the day, but then I realized it’s really appropriate for me, and probably for many of us right now.
For me “reach out” is most important. It’s no longer optional to reach out to friends and family, but mandatory. With so many people living alone or dealing with challenges (like schooling children…or heck, just feeding and entertaining them), it’s important to be in contact with your peeps.
Goodness knows, I am not a great correspondent (other than blogging), but I’m doing my part. I write a couple of letters every day and make sure to say hi to someone I don’t often talk to, especially those who live alone. Today a friend reached out to ME on the day I was going to reach out to HER, which made me smile.
Some of the things people have been doing for each other have really warmed my heart. People who have surpluses share them (we got some bread products that way just yesterday). Restaurants are selling supplies they don’t need due to not being open to the public. And there’s all that mask sewing going on! Way to go, sewing people!
I hope that when this is all settled down we remember all the kind and good things people have done for each other, and let the memories of people who aren’t considerate, run around in public, and hoard stuff fade away.
My Instagram of the day featured Spice the paint quarter horse in a quest for delicious hackberry leaves, which she deserved after going for a ride and surviving being barked at by my dogs. It’s nice that Sara and I can still ride, as long as we take some reasonable precautions (we no longer share grooming tools, and only one person at a time can be in the tack room, which I keep forgetting).
I did a lot of reaching up (and down) yesterday while painting trim. But, now that much of it has multiple coats of creamy white, it looks great.
Today, Chris is really reaching up as he works on painting the wall behind the new stairs. He has most of the priming done and is hopeful that there will be two colorful bathrooms very soon!
Peace within Reach
Many of my coworkers are doing their meetings on their patios or porches. It’s a great way to get outdoors a bit and enjoy some peace, while still getting stuff done.
I’m stuck in the basement for meetings. But never fear, I took a couple of photos of hos beautiful it is on the road leading to the ranch, so I use it as my Zoom backdrop. A little bit of peace for all!
I hope you can get out in nature, reach up and touch something not made by humans, and find a little inner peace. Let me know how you’re doing!
A couple of folks have asked how Fiona the mini-donkey is doing as she recovers from her two sore feet. Thank you for asking, and she brays her thanks, as well. It may be the cutest bray ever, by the way.
Oh, and I finally figured out how to upload my video of how badly she was limping last weekend.
Anyway, according to Dr. Mandi, she is on the mend. I can’t tell you how glad I am to have a neighbor who used to work on a large horse breeding ranch with so much experience in fixing up foot and leg issues. Mandi said that when she got to working on her, it just all came back to her, and something that might have taken her an hour years ago just took minutes.
I know Fiona appreciated that her doctoring didn’t take too long, though I think she views it as more “special time” with humans.
Mandi thinks the back hoof is just about healed, though she is going to put Betadyne on it one more time. As for the front foot, it’s improving, though Fiona is still limping a little. We still don’t know how she hurt it.
Yesterday, Mandi said that Spice and Apache protected Fiona when the neighbor puppy, Jess, who is a heeler and likes to chase things, tried to mess with her. Fiona managed to kick at her (a good sign), but after that, Spice was not letting that dog anywhere near, and Apache was doing his best angry stallion imitation, with ears pinned back and eyes ablaze (even though he isn’t a stallion).
It made me happy to see how much our tiny herd is bonded. At first the horses really didn’t like Fiona, but now I see them licking her and being sweet. Ahh.