Finally, a solo ride!

November 13th, 2010

Well, here we are- well into November.  Our slow feeder is working out pretty great.  It’s a trash can with the bottom cut off and a small mesh hay net fixed to the bottom.  There is a hinged lid that keeps the rain and horses out of it.  So far we only throw in enough for the next meal, I’m not confident enough to pack it full.  I had expected to make another so we’d have one for each horse, but an unexpected benefit of having only one feeder has me waiting a while.

Our little mare Bay is the fat one of the two.  Davis is the boss, so while they do eat together out of the same feeder, he does make her wait about 10-15 minutes and she is slowed WAY down by the fact that she has to kind of grab her bites from as much distance as she can get.

As long as she doesn’t get stressed out eating this way, or start losing weight too quickly, I think I’ll leave it like this for a while. 

We made another improvement- I added carpet to the horses’ shelter!  Yep, upside down carpet anchored in with 12″ stakes.  I put 3 bags of Cedarest and a bag of Dry Stall on top.  There are a few additions I need to make, (add another layer of carpet under the feeders and another couple of bags of Dry Stall) but they have been completely mud free and dry during our last couple of rain storms.

Now the official redneck-girl-fix-anything-kit is duct tape, baling twine and old carpet.  LOL, but still true.

Almost half way through the school year, things are going awesome for all of us.  The pre-K news is that he’s officially reading.  READING!  He’s so happy.  And the 3rd grade class of 1 is kicking butt at multiplication and division, loving his Survival Skills class and signed along when we sang happy birthday to the little ‘un recently.  Our highschooler is happily doing her own thing at the public school this year- learning all about the nasty realities of life outside our home… but loving every minute of it and we couldn’t be more proud of her.  She will take this world by storm, what remains to be seen is if it will be a gentle rain that leaves the air smelling sweet or something that comes in with a fierce presence that alters the landscape.  I think it will be like every winter, a mixture of the two.

We have been tested a few times recently regarding our willingness to move to far away lands…  And as always, we are willing to go where ever God would have us.  But I have to admit, I had a moment yesterday where the feeling of LOVE for my community just engulfed me.  It was a good day… I spent the morning with my family, went in the afternoon to meet the trimmer.  Both horses got good grades on their hooves :~)  Which I adore because I try to keep them pretty well trimmed in between visits.  My trimmer’s wife showed up, who is my we’re-both-horse-freak-outcasts-bff.  I stopped by the grocery store on my way home and seemed to know everyone.  My favorite grocery store employee is also a gal I know through our homeschool group and I got to chit chat with her about our recent hair style chances.  And I ran into the woman that owns the cutest consignment shop in town, My Girlfriend’s Closet (she’s got her eye out for a birthday/Christmas outfit for me).  And then I went home, washed my armpits (LOL, had to throw that in, Leslie) and we went out to eat at a fancy restaurant with our AWESOME friends.  A few drinks and some uber yummy, low carb food.  I think my salad plate was the size of my torso… And yes, I ate it ALL. 

A good day.  I hope we have a long time yet in this little town. 

And one more cool update to share (as if any of you can BEAR to keep reading at this point).  I finally got up the guts to try a solo trail ride with Davis.  It took me a long time, but not as long as it has with my previous horses.  It’s not that he’s not trustworthy, it’s that I have *chicken-issues*.  He was a CHAMP.  Of course, I got off to walk when we past the first few groups of other horses.  And being a holiday, there were a LOT of other riders out.  He was pretty concerned that he should be turning around and going with them, so I’m satisfied with my choice of walking him through it.  But after a while he seemed to understand what the program was and didn’t give me any grief or have that worried look in his eye anymore. 

And Ky has been riding Bay outside the arena and I even walked them down to the trail head last week.  She got a little concerned when the neighboring horses were wooping it up and cantering around, but Ky sat deep and pulled her head up and around and they were fine.  He didn’t even get worried, though this mommy’s heart skipped a beat!  He asked her to still her feet for a few seconds, then he squeezed her forward, continuing the previous plan… didn’t miss a step.  Didn’t need my direction at all. 

I do have to add, I would have kept making excuses for myself and not taken Davis out alone if I had not asked Leslie to hold me accountable.  That was absolutely the ONLY thing that made me follow through with it.  I prayed continually that God would take away any unreasonable fears and that He would give me the discernment I would need to keep myself and Davis out of trouble.  Accountability.  Funny how we do things differently when we know we’re going to have to tell someone about it, huh? 

Rocks, rocks and more rocks.

October 6th, 2010

I thought of about 10 different ways to title this post.  I rock.  A rock-tified situation.  It was a rocky day.

Anyway, my lack of wit aside, I spent about 2 and a half hours de-rocking the arena.  Oh my.  My back hurts.  My arms hurt.  My right wrist is pretty sore.  I need a Bowen treatment :~)

BUT- I can ride in the arena!!!  And I’m gonna book it around tomorrow and have fun.  But tonight?  Hmmmm, cold beer for me and pizza for the kids.  I’m exhausted. 

Oh is it really fall?

October 6th, 2010

I am LOVING this weather!  With the home school year well under way (week 8 baby!) I’m not getting ANY trail riding time.  But I’m learning to live with it (and am actually quite content).  The place that I board our horses is very family friendly and my boys get to ride Bay (my new nick name for her… the perfect shortened name for both Baby and Bailey :~) and then they play while I ride for 30 minutes or so in the areana.

I’ve slowed everything down to a walk.  We’re going to master things slowly and then add some speed.  Plus the barn owner is revamping the arena and right now it’s pretty rocky.  So instead of get an owie, we’ll just practice our whoa, backup (which are getting very nice by the way), bending, roll backs and opening/closing gates at the walk.  Davis is really thinking it all through and I think I’ll spend some time today de-rocking the arena so we can try it at a trot some time soon.  I think I was moving to quickly before and it’s part of what had him hesitating.

Davis transition to barefoot is going great- he’s still walking gently over the gravel drive way, but not taking any owie steps even when I ride him over it!  And his feet look awesome. 

Yesterday the boys and I went out and got all the hay covered (finally motivated by the many mornings waking to sprinkling rain) and replaced the cracked window in the horse trailer.  We got all the supplement and storage buckets cleaned out and de-spidered.  Everything has a lid and I think we’re almost ready to settle into fall and winter!  Yay!

The only thing left to do is to hang our new home made slow feeder and get the other one made.  It looks like they’re actucally going to work perfectly for our needs, too. 

Hubby helped me build the first one out of a heavy duty trash can with a hinged lid and a small mesh hay net.  He cut the bottom off of the trash can and drilled a series of holes all around the bottom edge.  I used baling twine to tie the hay net on the bottom and BAM- slow feeder :~) 

I hung it and put some hay in to experiment… but I didn’t want to hang it permanently yet.  THAT was my main mistake, lol.  I used a bunch of baling twine to tie it to a post.  They ate the hay out of the net hanging from the bottom just fine.  I love that the lid is attached and easy to flip up to refil and that thet horses can’t open it from their side (though I’ll put a bungee on it later since the wind will probably whip it open during the winter storms.)

But by the next moring, they’d ripped it down, lol.  So, we’ll be hanging it up with some serious bolts and washers the next time.  Once those are up and running, the horses will have dry hay available 24/7 during the winter and I think the only other “barn chore” that needs to be done is to get myself a new full length rain slicker so I can still ride!

Firewood.  Anyone else thinking firewood right now…  I guess I’d better get that done too.  I’m just so excited about fall.  Pumpkin patch here we come.  Apple pie at Apple Hill.  Oh I love this time of year! 

Simple is Good.

October 4th, 2010

Well, after my post yesterday I just had to share my morning with you.

But let me start at the beginning.  Last week I went out to a Bowen appointment on a gaited horse that hasn’t been gaiting.  She’s had a hard time bending to the right as well and her owner just knew something was “off”.

We went over her case history, feed, hoof care, pasture situation etc.  Discussed recent vaccinations, worming protocol and all of those details…  Then we went to work.  The mare is sweet and quiet… she looks at you with a discerning eye and would probably rather not have me feeling around to find her ouchy spots.  She pretends to be distracted by something on the ground and then steps to the side…  Just a little avoidance.  But then I get into a spot that is tight and bothersome and she stills, her ears focussed back to me and she becomes intent on the process. 

I noted that her pelvis was tilted and highlighted her chart in all the areas that she had pain/sensitivity.  I recommended that I come back in a week to see how she’d progressed and it would give us an idea of how her body responds to Bowen.

Every horse is so different.  Some have very obvious, almost exagerated releases…  Licking and chewing.  Yawning.  Shaking their neck to readjust.  Stretching.  Some don’t.  This mare did not.  I watched her eye and could tell what was going on, but she only had a few moments of real “let it all go”.  But by the end of the session she was in a state of total relaxation and looked a little like she’d had a few mojitos :~)

This morning I show up for our 2nd session and am greeted with a very happy owner.  They went out on a trail ride yesterday and had an AWESOME ride.  Gaiting like there was never a problem.  The mare went soft and supple, bending without trouble or stiffness.  Her husband noted how even the mare looked going down the trail.  Happy horse, happy owners. 

I love when it is so simple.  You just can’t tell at the start of the process.  I do what I can do and then we just wait and see what the horse’s body is going to do.  Have I mentioned I love simple?  Simple is good. 

They aren’t all so simple, so I’m going to bask in this one while I can, lol.  Thank you Star and Lynette!

Steady Management with a Long Term Goal…

October 3rd, 2010

Bodywork treatment for pain can be a touchy subject.  Touchy for the owner, touchy for friends and trainers making recommendations, but also touchy for me- as the bodyworker.

A client of mine was recommended to call me from her trainer.  Her horse wasn’t traveling quite right on the downhills and so, she thought he might be in a bit of pain somewhere.

After 2 Bowen treatments, he’s been fine.  He is a lovely gelding who had pulled back some time ago and had residual pain and adhesions that had not worked themselves out and a few areas of secondary issues from compensation.

In his case, a couple of visits from me was much more relaxing, comfortable and rewarding than visits to the vet.  And it was much less expensive for his owner. 

But this is where MY touchiness comes in…  Sometimes it’s not so simple.  Sometimes I show up for the initial consult and, if there is injury/pain involved, one of my first questions is “What did the vet say?”.  Yes, I’d prefer to work hand-in-hand with a competant and open minded vet.  Luckily, we have one here on the divide and she’s wonderful. 

But often the horse’s owner is calling me as a last ditch effort to help their horse without the diagnostic bill that a vet will entail.  It is not uncommon for a mystery pain/lameness to end up costing a horse owner +/-$1000 to diagnose.  Initial consults can turn into 2nd and 3rd appointments.  Appointments with specialists.  An initital diagnosis that was incorrect.  2nd diagnosis. 

If a situation is not an emergency, I am honored to try to help a horse before they have to undergo all the testing, time off, possible meds, etc.   Sometimes the treatments work pretty much right off.  Occassionally, when we’re dealing with something like ringbone or DSLD, I can make the horse more comfortable- especially from all of the pain and stiffness that comes with compensation of the body trying to find balance on it’s own. 

It’s so sad to me, though, when someone is trying to help their horse and calls me instead of the vet- expecting me to “cure” the problem in one visit.  Gosh I wish it were that simple.  But while I can do a lot of work in one session, it’s up to the horse’s body to do the healing.  And with this type of CRAZY effective modality, it still may take 2-3 sessions about a week apart to really get the job done.  And a few maintenance visits every once in a while after that.

I work with soft tissue- muscle, tendons and ligaments.  Often, after a Bowen Therapist works, the skeletal system will be pulled into it’s correct alignment by the soft tissue reorganizing itself and going back into a healthy and balanced position.  Circulation increases- And I’m not only talking blood flow, the body’s natural electrical circulation (think brain and nerve function, heart beat, etc) as well as the lymphatic system… it all opens up and allows the body to shed toxins as well as encouraging healing.

Bowen has been a miracle for me… but not a miracle that happened completely in one day.  A miracle that left me pain free, but not yet completely balanced.  A miracle that, after 3 weekly sessions has gave me the gift of a normal life that I haven’t enjoyed since a teen.  But I still need a rebalancing “tune up” every few months.  And chances are, I can help your horse.  I can help a lot in once session, even.  But that doesn’t guarantee that the work will be done like magic in one day. 

A horse’s health involves steady management with a long term goal. 

That goal may be to restore soundness.  The steady management may be Bowen Therapy, a change in hoof care and modifying the feed plan.

That goal may be to kick the competitions @$$ next season.  The steady management may be Bowen Therapy and increasing or changing training.  And including some Bowen Therapy for the rider to make sure you’re both balanced and at your best.

That goal may be to any number of things for each individual team of horse & rider… But the real key is to have a goal in mind and to not expect magic in a day.  To realize that there are many factors working on the whole horse.  And the whole rider. 

It’s True Love

September 21st, 2010

Well, Davis has found his “man card”, lol.  Bay (which is what I find myself calling her every day now) ran the pasture right off the start.  She was self confident, slightly aloof and knew what she wanted. 

He was a little stunned, completely enamoured and had a slightly lost look in his eyes.  But went along with every bit and let her have her way.

It’s been a while now and they’ve settled right in together.  He is now not chased off his feed (which is good because she’s an easy little keeper and I wondered how I’d ever get their diets balanced) and gives her “the ears” and she backs away.  So Davis is once again the head of his pasture.  But in the nicest, most gentle and loving way.

It’s so cute to watch, he nuzzles her and rubs all the way down her back.  He finishes by licking her back like a giant dog, lol.  It’s true love.  So it’s official.  They’re married, never to be parted.  Never.

Today I took a new fly mask by the barn and tried it on her, perfect fit and Davis carefully inspected it while it was on her.  They nuzzled each other’s faces and gave each other little kisses as I stood there, almost between them.  And Davis reached over and nuzzled my face.  Oh it’s True Love! 

I’ve been a bad homesteader…

September 20th, 2010

I have a confession. 

Quite a while back we made a lot of changes.  We stopped buying paper towels and used cloth.  We stopped buying grocery products that had excess packaging and started buying bulk, packaging in glass jars and recycling the bags. 

I stopped buying bread and beans and started making them every week. 

Well, over the summer our oven broke and so did my bread machine.  So I started buying wheat bread (at around $1 a loaf at Grocery Outlet, it’s hard to justify making my own for $1.87/loaf, even if mine is healthier, lol).  And we have been buying canned beans.  And I have been bbqing a lot (since there is no stove) and buying lots of tin foil to wrap our food in.

Then the school year started and our darling teenage daughter started going to high school and needed things to pack for lunch.  Like granola bars, crackers and lots of other allready prepared foods that I’ve been buying.  And zip lock bags to pack them in. 

Basically, I’ve been finding all kinds of excuses to shop how ever is easiest.  Nevermind what is healthiest and nevermind what is right for the environment. 

So, now that I’ve come clean to you I guess I also need to turn it around.  We have a new stove and I have a stock pot of pinto beans going.  I just went upstairs and turned them into a huge pot of chili, some for dinner and some to freeze.  Black beans are going on next.

I still do not have a bread machine, so I’m going to keep buying bread for now.  But I’m going back to my old habits when grocery shopping- bulk first.  If it’s not available in bulk, I’ll buy it pacakged, but only if the container is either reusable or recyclable.  No more pre-packaged convenience foods.  And local items when they’re available… produce, eggs and I might even try our family out on goats milk.  We only use a gallon of milk a week anyway and I really don’t like supporting commercial dairies any more than I do commercial egg facilities. 

Now I’ll return you to your previous “little house on the prairie” programming, lol.

A day without horses…

September 14th, 2010

Well, the truth is there is never actually a day without horses.  Even on a day like today, where there are meetings, homeschool and housework… when there are extra projects, bbq and so on…  In the midst of it is emails about horses, reading about horses, planning activities with horses.  Day dreaming about horses (just like when I was a little girl.)

But today has been a long day.  Lot’s of projects, lot’s of fun, lot’s of science and reading Huck Finn… learning about geysers and matter, atoms and molecules.  Lot’s of math- a test and a mystery code to solve.  Spelling test and “homework”.  Lots of art and alligators. 

Lot’s of sweeping floors and fixing food.  Lot’s of lot’s.

And what I really wanted by the end of today was a break.  I really wanted to go hug my horses and smell them up close, with my face buried in their manes.  I wanted to just breathe and be.  Still and quiet.  I really wanted to give Davis a good workout, boots on and work on keeping up the lope without freaking out and being off balance.  Without getting all strung out at the trot, thinking about cantering. 

But alas, it was not to be.  Yes, I have to admit when I couldn’t work out any way for me to break away to the barn alone, I wanted to cry.  And I had no desire at all to go to the barn if it meant taking the boys.  Not today. 

I’m sure you’ve been there- that place where you need your energy replenished and just can’t afford to do anything that will drain you any further.  For me, it would have been too sapping on my low energy reserves to go do horsie things with my 2 lovely boys. 

So I stayed home.  Got over my own little pity party and made dinner.  Super yummy, everyone is now off to their own corners of evening activities and we all get a little bit of a break from each other.  I know that a lot of families are just now reuniting and catching up, but most of us have been around each other ALL day, so a little solitude is a very good thing. 

I think I’ll go read some more on a horse research project that I’m working on.  And work on my slow feeder experiment that is going on in the back yard.  Maybe I’ll talk more about that and post pictures (if it’s not too embarassing when I’m done, lol!) later.  Never ending projects, and even on a day without horses, there is not a moment that goes by that is REALLY without horses.

An Angry Vent

September 10th, 2010

I need a release valve right now- so it’s going to have to be here.

First, you need to know that horse slaughter is VERY real, VERY much happening in our back yard and VERY inhumane. 

You also need to know, I am a big fan of meat.  I eat meat every day.  I’ve raised my own cattle and chickens.  And honestly, I’m not going to sit here behind my computer and pretend like I think eating most any other animal is an atrocity.  I don’t…  we ate most everything when I was a kid and one of my favorite events of the year is a hunters’ banquet where we get to go chow on some very unusual (to the American grocery store shopper) animals. 

I believe that the animals that die so that we can live should be given a little bit of respect.  Not because they deserve it.  Not because they are somehow better than humans.  Not because of their innocence or any other number of reasons, some which I think are pure crazy and some that I think are reasonable.  But because we as people were given dominion over them.  A responsibility.  We were given things like compassion and wisdom. 

I think some folks have missed the buss on compassion and wisdom.  And responsibility.   I think the buss must have run some people over.

There are “kill buyers” who will come to your door, with fake family in tow, to sell you a story about giving your free horse a wonderful life long home.  Your horse will end up starving and often sick on a feed lot, waiting to take a cramped, dehydrating trailer ride (often in a cattle trailer where there is not enough ceiling height for them to lift their heads) to either Canada or Mexico (or a few slaughter plants that are still operating in the U.S. that no one dares to talk about).

I’m not going to tackle what I think about these plants being open.  I’m not going to go into the legalization of horse slaughter for human or animal consumption.  I’m not going to share with you my view points on legal, humane euthanization/slaughter as an effort to minimize the sheer numbers of horses that are experiencing these horrors EVERY day.

I’m going to talk about how ticked off I am that our “Rescue” organizations keep the kill buyers in business. 

I walk a thin line right now.  I’m not trying to out anyone and I’m not pointing fingers.  It’s a tight spot to be in…  If I’m running a rescue and the kill buyer has called me, I know about a few horses that will NOT make the trip on the meat wagon alive, I know their fate.  I have a choice, do I use my funds and compassion to help save this horse the trip?  It seems like a natural “yes”.

BUT, how long do I want to keep the kill buyer in business?  That a-hat is not going to get paid for a dead horse when he gets to the plant.  Getting paid is his only reason for being in business.  If his pocket book suffers will he not stop taking in half dead horses and shoving them on the trailers? 

Kill buyers have to pay electricity bills, have to buy groceries and have all the same bills every PERSON has.  (Note that at this point in my life, I don’t really see kill buyers as people.  Sorry, I wish my forgiveness and humanity reached that far, but today it just doesn’t.)

I know that what I’m saying here is also stating that the poor, innocent horses caught in the middle of this would die a horrific and tragic, not to mention usually very slow, death.  It is beyond sad.  It is horrific to the depths of my soul.  But I don’t negotiate with terrorists holding hostages.  That’s what is going on here when we continue to enable the kill buyers with our cash. 

We all have to accept responsibility where we own it.  We can’t sit around pointing fingers at the kill buyers and yet BE THEIR BEST CUSTOMER and not own any of that responsibility.  Look in the mirror, if you’re on the KB’s speed dial and they know they can count on you to pull through for them- what does that really mean? 

If we were talking about innocent children and, for the sake of this argument, they were being traffic’d across the boarder for cash, what would we think of a child rescue organization that KNEW who the buyers are, knew how to reach them and knew how many other children were lost every month?  What would we think of a rescue organization who protected the buyers’ identities so they could save a few children?  Of course we would be thankful to save the children that are saved, but does that absolve the rescue organization of their part in the children that are lost? 

I don’t think so.  I think they would be tried as accomplices.

There is no easy answer.  I know this.  If you are involved in horse rescue and you know who the kill buyers are, if you are buying horses from them, you are keeping them in business.  You have some responsibility in their cycle.  I know that if you try to do anything about it, they won’t sell to you again.  The horses you might have saved will probably die. 

But there will be change- the KB won’t make money on those horses and that’s the way to make a difference.  As long as they keep making a profit out of your pocket..  well, supply and demand, right?

It’s hard to stand by and watch horrible things happen to innocent animals that can’t protect themselves.  They have no voice, they have no ability to escape.  It seems as though no one is even paying attention… so many turn their heads so they don’t have to really know the reality.  But to stop the kill buyers- to really STOP them, they have to be put out of business.

We need to come up with a better plan.  Any ideas?  Comments are turned off here (because I get too many stupid spam posts to moderate) but email me if you have ideas.  I’m willing to help, we need to change things, not just keep supporting kill buyers and talking bad behind their backs.

Earning my sleep…

September 7th, 2010

Today started off just like many other days.  Get up early, make a cup of coffee, answer emails, confirm Equine Bowen Therapy appointments, check on soap that is curing, get another cup of coffee, make breakfast, start school, pour another cup of coffee, get dressed and leave for a ranch sitting job.

Feed, muck stalls, turn out horses, help the boys with their math in the barn isle. 

Stop by Cool Feed & Ranch Supply to talk over supplements, pick up some new pallets and some grassy hay pellets.

Make it to the next ranch, clean out the hay barn (where everything is literally crawling with spiders and one snake!) put out the new pallets.  Clean out the tack room. 

Home for late lunch and cool off.  Quick shower and off (this time without the boys- thank God for a teenager!) and off to Bowen appointment #1. 

Socks is a working quarter horse- he carries his family on trail rides, camping trips and ropes with his special girl at high school rodeo.  She works his butt off in the best way possible  :~)

It was only his second treatment, but he clearly understood what the program was this time…  relaxing into each move.  Really working with me to free up his tight spots and a few ouchy areas.  He was so appreciative- they really say “thank you” in so many ways sometimes.  Even if there were no money involved, this high calling of every day work would be SO worth it.

Then, I hitched up the trailer and loaded up Davis (at the insistance of Leslie- I’m so GLAD you did!)  and headed off to ranch A again, where I also had Bowen appointment #2.  Leslie helped with barn chores and it gave me time for a short ride! 

The horses all over the poperty were running and bucking… feeling great in the cool breeze.  Davis even got in on the action and gave me a little crow hop.  Other than me ALMOST cussing, he received a compliment that it was quite ballerina-like, lol. 

He’s so rusty and we have a long way to go, but I enjoyed my time in the saddle and with a good friend. 

Davis ate some dinner at the trailer and waited patiently while I attended to the next Bowen client, right on time.  I love the rare occassions when I’m perfectly on time.  

Now Lakota Moon is my all time favorite Bowen client…  He absolutely loves his treatments, he knows exactly what I’m going to do next and he relaxes the body part before I even get there.  He’ll start to relax his back leg as I’m finishing up on his front end- he just knows.  And of course, as most geldings do, he relaxes in enough ways to thoroughly ebarrass his owner every time, lol!!!   

Run back to drop off Davis and the trailer and be back home in time to see of darling teenage daughter to her friend’s house.  For a sleep over.  On a school night.  I’m the coolest mom ever :~)

Sigh.  Jammies. Fish sticks for dinner.  Finish homework with son.  Then a drink and an episode of McLeod’s Daughters on netflicks.  How Aussie of me…  10:30 and I’m thinking I’ve earned my sleep tonight.  I’m tired, but I can tell you with absolute certainty, tired earned doing horse chores is a tired like no other.  A tired that brings sleep easily.  Clears your mind.  Just makes everything else alright and melts away so many worldly issues.  I think I still have horse hair in my right eye, lol.  And I can’t wait to start all over again tomorrow.  Good night.