Reo, Buddy, Me

Reo is definitely lame. After cleaning off three days of crusted mud that he managed to get over his entire body, in every crevice, I decided I was too tired to ride. I thought he should experience some interaction with me other than the good grooming, so I put the rope halter on him and we went ahead to the indoor arena for a lunging lesson. You would have thought I had asked him to actually work, his head drooped, his ears flopped, he barely picked up his feet. I needed steps, too, so we walked together in a big circle until we both limbered up. His steps eventually lengthened and he looked fine and much more animated. However, when I asked him to trot, the lameness was very dramatic. Head lowering as the right front hoof hit the ground. Funny thing, though, was that his stride did not diminish at all. So I looked at his hip area, and think I saw a bump in his stride on right-hind. What this all means is that Reo is hurting somewhere; I do not know where or why; and so a vet visit is in the works. He does not seem uncomfortable when he is walking down the lane, or out in the pasture, so waiting a few days will not cause more damage. Perhaps he simply has a tightened muscle. We shall see.

Since I am low on money at the moment, I will wait two weeks until he is due for his twice-yearly vaccinations and include a lameness exam. By then, the lameness will either have improved or possibly remained the same and the vet can make a determination. Of course, if he gets worse, I will have the vet come immediately. This is horse life!

We have traveled once again up to northern Kentucky to look at condos. Tired of driving. Looked at horse boarding places, too. Was not happy with what I found. One place looked so good on its website, but what a disaster in real life. Dirty stalls, dirty horses, thin horses, damp/dank barn. Can’t imagine anyone keeping their horse there, but obviously some do since there were horses stalled. The ammonia smell was enough to turn me away. The other place was actually okay, just far from civilization. The young people running it were friendly, the horses appeared cared for, and it offered lots of trails to ride on.

I have been spoiled, I think, about how horses are supposed to be kept. Having our own place in NC for about 10 years, and being in total control of the horses’ well-being made me intolerant to other ways of keeping them, even if the other way is okay. Moving them to a boarding facility was difficult, and I searched hard to find the right place here in central Kentucky. Now that I might need a place in northern Kentucky, I will have to adjust to differing methods of horse care, but always with their safety and health in mind.

Which reminds me, it’s time for worming, farrier visits, and vaccinations for Buddy, too. I haven’t seen the Old Horse in a few days. I know he’s fine, but I also know he probably needs a good shedding blade activity to get rid of the rest of his winter hair. I’ll get to that today.

I am in an unsettled mood. Why? The answer is quite simple: not knowing what our future holds, where it’s going to be, how we will manage things, and so on. Kind of like most peoples’ lives in today’s time. Being older doesn’t mean one stops experiencing life’s daily trials; it just means it’s a little more difficult to make adjustments. I’m okay, though.

HORSES, MOVING, DOGS, MONEY, and MORE

It had been a few days since I spent some time in the saddle, and I missed Reo. Last Wednesday called to me, as I had been wandering around the house, restless as usual. It was a wonderful day for riding, the rain had stopped, it was slightly breezy, and the air felt just damp enough to imagine a day riding near the ocean. Reo was rather a dullard that day, I think because it was humid, which made it very pleasant to simply walk around and make my needed body adjustments. He seemed a little stiff, and my right hip joint made it very difficult to position myself correctly in the saddle once I mounted; however, once we began moving in sync, my body joined with his and we both became comfortable. His stride extended to cover more ground, and I experienced the joy I always feel as his body rolls side to side, his strength and power totally under my control. It’s always an exhilaration.

Because of the rainy weather, Buddy and his pasture mates had to stay up for a day, so when it cleared I drove over to his barn and turned him, Bella and Toby out in the field. I keep forgetting how darn tall Toby is. He must be very close to 17 hands….it’s almost impossible to reach up to his head to put the halter on and then lead him out. He was very good, though, as was Bella. Buddy neighed for his turn, because he hates for them to be out of his sight. The barn owner, Wendy, says Buddy is now completely in charge of the other two. She thinks it’s crazy that the 32 year old, one-eyed, Appaloosa gelding is now in charge. As I said before, he is something special, that old boy. He looks pretty good, still has lots of hair to shed, but he moves, he eats, he enjoys life. That’s all I can ask for.

I haven’t previously spoken of our dogs, Jake (a very old shepherd mix), Chloe (a chubby Corgi mix) and Nellie (a middle-aged, All-American dog). They are our companions here at home. When we lived on the farm in North Carolina, they were able to roam the pasture land and woods, visit the horses, chase wild turkeys, and truly enjoy a sense of freedom. It was completely fenced in so they could not leave the five acres, but they thought they were living the wild life. Their next home with us was only one acre, fenced, but they still had land to roam on, bark at the Canadian Geese that lived near the creek, annoy the neighbor, and generally live the good life. Now they share our home in a neighborhood on one-quarter acre, totally fenced with a six foot solid fence, and they still enjoy playing, annoying the birds gathered around the bird feeder, and digging up the grassy yard. However, they much prefer being out in the front yard with Chuck, viewing the wide world rather than the tall gray fence out back. I bring this all up because we are once again going to take them to a new home. This time they will be living in a small home with only green space that they can see, but not be allowed to freely roam. They will have to go for walks with us, on a leash, and only be allowed on our patio when we are there. No more pretending to be wild wolves. They will adjust, as we will, to this downsizing of our life. I tell them, “If I can adjust, you can adjust.”

So, my mind has been consumed this week with scouring the Internet in search of a new home, closer to our son in Cincinnati, selling this house, selling half of everything we own, mentally adjusting, and lastly, finding a new, affordable home for Reo, and maybe Buddy. The last item irritates Chuck, but I can’t help it. Since I was seven years old horses have been part of my life, and when I think of losing them, I actually get aches in my stomach. Hard for someone who doesn’t feel that sensation to understand, but those of us who have bonded with these wonderful creatures understand. If there is a God, then he simply chose some of us to be caretakers of horses. If He didn’t do it, then something did!

Of course, money is part of our life, too, and it’s tight, which is part of the downsizing (along with getting older and difficulty in keeping up this home). Which is another reason Chuck kind of resents, maybe hates, the horses. But he has hung in there for 45 of our 56 years together, and I am thankful he is still able to cope with this expense until my or the horses’ deaths.

And now we prepare to move on, along with our pet family, to new adventures and new pleasures. I will try to make it fun rather than a dreaded experience. If only I could put that into Chuck, too.

MISSING HORSES and LIVING LIFE

The last few days have been filled with thoughts, chores, relaxation, and fatigue. I feel like I have neglected my two horse guys, maybe because I have. I can’t shake the feeling that when I don’t actually tend to them that I have failed as their caretaker, even though I know they are both in safe places. It’s more than that, though, it’s the loss I feel when I don’t see them, touch them, talk to them. When animals are such a part of your life, for such a long time, it’s really difficult to remove oneself from their day-to-day living. They don’t need me, I know that, but in my heart I think they do.

I have to be honest, however, about the fact that it was nice not to have to go to them daily. I allowed myself time to work in the yard; to not look at the clock and think, “Oh, I have to go feed Buddy”; to join Chuck and have a relaxing sip of wine on the patio and look at the birds flitting from the cherry tree to the bird feeders; to simply live a little bit of life without horses being part of it. It gave me time to reflect upon what our next step in life will be, which leads me to making decisions with Chuck about where to live, how to live, our capabilities to maintain what we have, and our happiness shared in this home.

As much as we both enjoy this home, perhaps it is time to move on to a new abode. We have always adjusted to new homes; hey, we have moved into 16 new houses in 10 different cities in our 56 years together. Each departure left a little of me behind, but each new home brought excitement and adaptation to a new environment as we made each house a home. I have never been afraid to move on, but as I have grown older, each move has caused a little more emotional stress to my well-being. I am saddened at leaving items behind. I know, they are things, but each “thing” is something that brings back a memory. And then memories get in the way of happiness, and so on. So melodramatic!

I have lost much more than items in these various cities: an infant daughter in Illinois; a baby son in Pennsylvania; a sister and both parents in North Carolina; another sister in California. These are the true losses in my life. And then the beloved dogs, cats, and horses that we have buried in these places bring tears and so much heart pain. I find them the most difficult to write about, such losses.

Enough! New adventures await, and I’m ready to take the necessary steps to manage our life with style, grace, and thankfulness that we are able to choose what to do instead of being forced into action. I’d like to say that there is always a positive behind every change, but I’m not sure I truly believe that. Perhaps acceptance is a better way to say it, or pleasurable adjustment.

And, of course, Buddy and Reo will still be with me until either their death or mine, and then we will be left behind, too.

Riding Reo; and Walmart

First things first: I vacuumed my home; I filled the bird feeders; I cursed at the robot that ran out of batteries and therefore didn’t get up all the dog hair under my bed; and then I said, “I’m going riding.”

Thankfully, Reo was in the shed when I arrived, so no traipsing across the pasture was required. He nickered lowly, very slowly walked toward me, and happily accepted my offer of peppermint horse cookies. What a good fellow. I placed the faded halter on his head, and he followed me quite nicely on our walk to the barn. (It is about 100 feet from the gate to the barn where the tack room is housed.) After grooming, saddling, and walking to the arena, I was ready to once again try to perform a decent mounting. I failed, but it was a little better than totally falling on his neck….I only leaned close to his neck. I might mention that I actually got the saddle on him in one try, without knocking off the saddle pad. I’m improving.

Reo was delightfully lazy today. The Kentucky air is warm and welcoming, and both Reo and I enjoyed outside time walking down the lanes. He, of course, thought the cows across the way might eat him, but because we finally have an excellent rapport, he listens to me and doesn’t react in a manner that I cannot control. The movement of his steps was relaxing and peaceful, and my reverie was only disturbed occasionally when he quickened his pace because he saw the miniature horse in the field next to us, and when he saw the two week old palomino filly in the next pasture, and when he saw the white hose on the ground near the watering can, and when he saw the inside of the old dead Oak tree. But nonetheless, our ride was absolutely perfect and after 40 minutes of sun, bird songs, neighing from his pasture pals, and my body beginning to shout at me that it was time to end this ride, I allowed Reo to take me to the mounting block and finish our ride.

He got his grain, he got his extra grazing time on the lush outer yard, he got his cookies, and back to his mates he went. Both of us very relaxed, and I’m ready to take a quick stop at Walmart for bird seed and a few groceries.

No carts in Walmart, so I walked outside to the cart bins and grabbed a cart. That should have been a hint about the next 40 minutes. I was not able to find some items I needed; I discovered that the store had raised the price of the facial tissue I buy; and to top that off, they had lowered the number of tissue in the box. I did find the salmon on a plank that we like, so I placed that in my cart, along with the bird seed, the Imodium for Chuck, Denta Stix for the dogs, other food items, and hummus for me. Okay, not bad. I’m ready to go.

No checkouts open, at least not enough of them. Four, to be exact, but lots of the self checkouts, which I did not want to use because I simply don’t like to. I picked a line with a young man cashier and only one other person in line. But wait, the woman ahead of him was having trouble with her bank card. Of course. My luck. I waited, and waited, while others came in the line behind me and prevented me from backing out. I waited longer as the cashier looked about for help from his Walmart supervisor, who eventually showed up and couldn’t solve the problem either. Fifteen minutes later I finally was able to place my items on the checkout counter, and at last was able to leave the store.

In case you hadn’t detected a mood change happening here, by the time I left Walmart I was tense, moody, irritated, definitely not relaxed, and had wiped out all my positive feelings from my earlier ride with Reo. Of course, I took all this frustration out on my husband when I finally arrived home, which didn’t settle too nicely with him. I apologized, I gave him a bagel crisp with hummus, a quick kiss, and hugged my dogs. I survived.

Other Things

I think just because I named this site about my horses doesn’t mean I can’t blog about other aspects of my life, which may or may not involve horses. This past weekend I did not see my two horses; however, I did buy senior feed for Buddy and, with the help of my husband, delivered it to Buddy’s location.

The thing is, I can no longer carry those 50 lb bags of horse feed, nor the 50 lb bag of hay cubes. I hate that part of getting older, having to rely on others to do what I used to do capably by myself. In fact, I find it uncomfortable to clean Buddy’s stall when I am there, but I do it – because his stall is so easy to do. But when I attempt to help out and “pick” the other horses’ stalls, I can not complete it. So I am worthless in that sense, but very worthy in understanding and working with the horses and enjoying their beings. So, that’s enough for now.

I was thinking the other night about the changes that have occurred in the last few years — to me personally, to my husband, to my beliefs, to my family. Most of these changes have been minor, but life altering. Physically, I have new lines in my face, my back doesn’t like to stand up straight, my neck doesn’t turn to the sides very well, and my skin looks damn old. None of that is awful, just different.

Mentally, I struggle with patience and the desire to scream at the politicians in our world. Now that may not seem like much, but when I was raising kids and working in the law firm I did not have the inclination to worry about our country very much. Now I know that was wrong, but it’s a fact. Now that I am retired and have time to become obsessed with my world, I have become appalled at the leadership around this earth. It stinks, that’s all I can say. No honesty, no regard for the human beings or other creatures they have control over, nothing positive. Only greed and power rule, and I guess in my naivety I hadn’t realized it has always been that way. I digress.

So, aging brings on new worries about different things. I once again have to learn how to cope with the ugliness in our world, and search for the loveliness that I know exists. And again, I am brought back to the horses, who are lovely in their simplistic life and trust all will be as it should be. So difficult to accomplish their mindfulness.

Which brings me to my husband, who also is aging, and with more pains to endure than I have. He does things that his body rebels against, like lifting those 50 lb bags of horse feed, but insists on doing it, and then has to cope with joints and muscles that scream at him in pain. I hate that. I hate that he hurts, and that he does these things for me that cause the hurt. It simply doesn’t seem fair that this is the way life turns as we age. Where is the reward? Just to be alive? Sometimes I think it’s just not enough, but then I think, “Hey, look around and enjoy what’s here. Our scrappy, happy dogs; our lovely home; our children who love us; the flowering cherry trees. It is enough!”

So, the point is, forget the BS in the world and look at what’s near and dear. That’s what they tell us to do, and so I will try.

I did go see Reo today. He made me happy.

Changing my site name

It is time to rename my blog site to something more relevant to my writing. So, mjm1942 has become PaintedAppy. The new title represents both horses: Reo the Paint, and Buddy the Appaloosa. Since both horses are aging and so am I, it seemed only right to acknowledge our limitations, but also our new adventures. I hope this site brings pleasure and interest to those folks growing old, and also to horse lovers both old and young.

My Old Horse

I visited Buddy yesterday. I had to drop off his Source (vitamins) and DuMour joint medicine…important to keep him up with his supplements. He’s been on Source for 30 years, and I am paranoid about being sure he gets it daily. Funny how something I started years ago still affects my psyche. I am positive that the reason he is so darn healthy is because of those micronutrients he has received. Probably not, but you’ll never convince me otherwise.

Buddy perked up when I whistled, and I was delighted to see that he began walking up the hill to come to me. Toby and Bella looked up, saw him leaving them, and followed along. It was interesting to see that the 32 year old, one-eyed Appaloosa had become the “herd” leader. He has the young thoroughbred Toby terrified of him, and the huge mare Bella responds to his body language and leadership role. What an amazing old horse he is!

I haltered him and brought him in to the barn for a mid-day snack. I noticed that there was a large amount of feed left in his bin, which means he ate very little that morning, or maybe the previous evening, too. Hard to tell. He goes in spells: eats a lot, then doesn’t eat, but eventually finishes all the food. He certainly isn’t starving, but he is lean and slightly ribby. His croup and back are strong and fleshy, so I am pleased with his appearance. I personally prefer him a little lean rather than fat, in order to protect his knees His demeanor is definitely spunky, and he has returned to listening to my instructions.

As before, I used the shedding blade on him to help loosen his winter coat. This time I was smart and groomed him outside the barn. It was a blustery day and impossible to avoid his hair clinging to me and flying into the air. The barnyard definitely offered hair for the birds to build nests with. He has much, much more hair to lose, but the weather is not quite settled into permanent spring temperatures, so it’s probably best he still has a nice coat. I am hopeful that we are done with blanketing for this year. The blankets smell and need cleaning.

Bella and Toby were patiently standing at the gate waiting for his return. I gave up on removing more hair, and led him to the gate. Toby scampered away, Bella moved over, and Buddy casually walked through the gate to regain his status as “king.” They turned away and slowly walked down the hill without a backward glance.

I always feel somewhat of a loss when I leave Buddy. I believe I could stand at the fence and watch him for hours. (Of course, I feel the same way when I leave Reo.) This aging thing, for both Buddy and me, is an experience I am not sure I relish. Aches for both of us limit what we once were able to enjoy, but we are still alive and capable of experiencing different types of pleasures. Buddy is teaching me that. It’s never too late to take on new things, to take charge. Interesting.

RIDING REO

I missed a few horse days, and today was my fix. The day offered blue skies, cool temperatures, no wind, and time to ride. As I approached the barn, I looked to see how far out Reo was in the pasture. He was mid-point, amidst the clumpy mud and water, which meant I needed my mud boots and my stamina. After putting on my boots, gathering a handful of treats, and picking up his halter, I began my jaunt to bring him in. I’m not sure how they even find grass out there, it is so stomped down, but Reo must have found some tasty morsels because he did not respond to my whistles, nor did he even raise his head. When I got within 20 feet of him, he moved his right leg, and I thought, “he’s going to come,” but he only stared. So I turned around as if to leave, and then he walked up to me. I think he didn’t want to miss out on the horse treats I had in my pocket.

Surprise, he only had mud caked on his upper legs and his head. An easy clean up day. My western saddle isn’t supposed to be heavy, at least it was advertised as light weight, but it is very heavy for me. I struggle trying to heft it up over my head to place upon his back. Unfortunately, I usually don’t get it right, and I didn’t today, either. At least I didn’t drop it, or push the saddle pad off, so that was one accomplishment. After struggling and finally getting it on his back, I had to adjust the saddle pad because it had slipped slightly to the side. Once the saddle is on I am good to go. Reo must be a saint to tolerate my awkwardness in saddling him, but he seems not to be too concerned. Maybe he likes me.

Mounting is another concern for me, as I have arthritic knees and a hip joint that is quite stiff. I am always thankful no one watches me mount, because it isn’t pretty. Reo stands at the mounting block while I put my left foot in the stirrup, slowly lift myself up, and basically lay over his neck while I swing my right leg over his rump. Like I said, it isn’t pretty, but it gets me on, he’s fine with my method, and we’re ready to enjoy a ride.

Reo will be 16 yrs old next month, but he’s still not what I would call a totally sensible horse. While he obeys all my cues, he would rather do his own thing, go where he wants to go, and end the ride very quickly. I may be an old woman, but I do not let him buffalo me into quitting my afternoon ride. We practice for 10 minutes in the indoor arena, walking, jogging, backing, and turning. When I am sure he has his brain on right, we head outside to the large, sandy outdoor ring. It’s not his favorite place, because he has to adhere to my instructions and actually do something other than walk. We walk some more, we trot some, we rein to the right and left, we back up, we turn on the haunches, and that’s it. Time to head down the grassy lane and simply enjoy each others company without lessons.

The sun warms my body, Reo’s black coat is shining, his body movement matches mine, and it’s an amazing feeling being outside in the Kentucky atmosphere. I use this time to silently thank mother nature for the beauty around me…trees, grass, horses, sky…just total peace. Not sure what my life would be if I didn’t have these interludes of natural sounds and privacy. I am uplifted in mind and body.

Time to head back to the barn. I have to remind him that he still has to respond to my cues, like don’t rush, walk comfortably, be good. His ears tell me he’d rather not, and his tail swishes a bit, but he does as I request and we safely arrive at the barn. I dismount, loosen the girth, and lead him to the barn. He knows what’s coming now — his grain, good grass grazing, more treats, and returning to the pasture with his gelding pals.

I head home, thankful for all that I have, especially this paint horse, Reo. Tomorrow I visit the Old Horse.

It’s Late

I’m very tired, but yet I’m stretched out in my recliner writing this. My legs ache. Because I rode the stationary bike for 22 minutes. I should have gone to visit Reo today, but since I didn’t I thought I should expend some energy, thus the bike ride. It’s kind of interesting how walking in work boots in muddy fields in unpleasantly cold weather is easier than riding a stationary bike in a comfortable room. I have not figured out yet how to handle my aging body. Should I continuously move about, or should I simply enjoy relaxation in this warm room, looking at art work on the wall? Of course, there is March Madness to get involved in. The 55 inch TV blares basketball scores, crowds holler and appear frantic as the young athletes run up and down the court, desperately trying to win their game. Some end up thrilled, some end up tearfully unhappy. Doesn’t concern me much, except my bracket is doomed by the wrong teams winning. What does this really have to do with my aging body? Not a thing, except it takes my mind off my aching legs.

I actually wrote this a few days ago. Forgot to publish, but decided to let it appear today. What the heck, hey!

A NO HORSE DAY…

I can say it was a No Horse Day, but I can’t say they ever left my mind. Spent the morning at home, and the afternoon with our son and daughter-in-law. Actually took time to watch a movie, Captain Marvel, and I did enjoy the movie. I did not enjoy the loud music, so stuffed napkin pieces in my ears, and then relaxed in the theater’s very comfy lounging chairs. I believe I did not think about Buddy nor Reo during the entire movie. That is amazing. If you get the chance, and you like action packed movies about other lives in other galaxies, you should go see this movie.

I always enjoy thinking about other worlds besides ours. I wonder if the living beings out there are just like us in our destructive ways, or if they are peaceful and loving toward each other and the other creatures they share their planets with? I know that not all of we humans are unloving, uncaring, and destructive. I can say that my own children and their families, thank goodness, are kind to their environment and to others. That is one thing I am very proud of.

I am saddened by the fact that I am nearing the end stages of my life time, and there is very little impact I can have on changing the direction of my country, or this world. What little I can do is take care of my own animal family and encourage my human family to take steps to better the world. That is asking a lot, I think, but if they are to have a safe place to live, they really have no choice.

When I am filled with negative thoughts, I usually traipse off to see my horses. They bring me calmness, as they just live in the present and do not think about their future. Today it was the movie that helped me get rid of the tenseness and sorrow, and being with my son and dil was a very pleasant interlude to a nice afternoon. Their loving demeanor also helped relaxation set in.

However, there was the 50 minute drive home to allow the worry to set back in. Politics entered my mind (because my husband read me news he had read on his ipad), and then I began thinking about The Old Horse, and wondering how long he would be with us. And then I began to dwell on the trees being cut, and the dead animals beside the highway, and the fact that I had just eaten a 570 calorie apple pie, and what will happen to this Earth, and so on. Perhaps my shortening life means I must think about such bizarre things. I no longer have to worry about raising my children, or performing a good day’s work, or earning money. I can think about all the other aspects of life around me, which I am not so sure is a great thing to do.

So, a no horse day is okay, but tomorrow will be a two horse day, and I will feel better, at least for awhile.