Another Two Horse Day

Yesterday morning started very early, at least for me. Up at 7:00, out the door at 7:30, at the barn by 7:45. My farrier, Dave, was supposed to meet me there at 8:00 for Reo to get a hoof trim. I worry about the split in Reo’s left front hoof, but yet it’s just a little split, and probably would be okay for another week. I decided I shouldn’t wait, and so Dave agreed to meet me early.

Thankfully Reo was in the turnout shed and I didn’t have to walk too far; and it was great not to have to pull on mud boots. The ground was hard and dry, for the first time in days. I think I surprised the horses, appearing at such an early hour. Reo looked askance at me, as if to say what’s the deal, why so early. But cookies in my pocket got his attention, and he mozied on over to get a snack. He willingly allowed me to halter him and lead him to the barn, although he thought he should be getting his grain rather than be put in the cross ties. So, we waited, and waited, and finally I received a text from Dave that he was still working on another horse and would not be arriving until 9:15. It was 32 degrees, cold, and my mood wanted to deteriorate to grumpy. However, Reo thought eating grass was a good idea rather than stand in the barn, so off we went to a grassy area. As I’ve said before, Reo loves food, and the longer he could graze the happier he was. He is a gnawing machine, for sure. And I like to think he enjoys my company as much as I enjoy his!

Dave finally showed up, trimmed the hooves, said the split was small and shouldn’t cause any harm, and left. An hour and 15 minutes waiting for a 10 minute trim. All was well. Reo got his grain, had enjoyed his grass, and I finally got to thaw out in my warm car.

Later in the day it was time to check on Buddy. He, Bella and Toby were enjoying the sunshine in the middle of the four acre field. They didn’t come when I whistled, but I didn’t mind since the air had warmed, the ground was not slushy, and I needed some exercise. When Buddy saw me, he slowly wandered up to me, searching for his cookies (much gentler than Reo had). His forearms looked less swollen, which was a relief, and he seemed in a good, energetic mood. He followed me up to the top of the hill to the gate, allowed me to put a rope around his neck and bring him in to his stall.

As before, he began to get nervous when the other two didn’t come in, but happily he settled down and ate some of his breakfast leftover senior feed. The day was becoming lovely, and being outside was a definite mood lifter. My emotions toward Buddy became quite intense as I watched him eat a few bite fulls, stop and look out the stall openings, go back for a few more bites, again look out, and so on. I told him he needed to eat, that he was old and needed nutrition, that the other horses would still be there when he was done, and why couldn’t he just enjoy my company and return my love! Actually, I think he is beginning to get the old routine: I come, I feed, I brush, I turn back out. He is definitely more relaxed, and I feel damn good about it.

It’s time for me to go home. The weather had become so spring-like, I enjoyed more outside time in my small yard, feeding birds, picking up dog poop, drinking wine. Oh, I digress. This is supposed to be about the horses.

Two Horses

I visit my two horses every week: one is the Old Appaloosa, Buddy, and the other, younger black and white Paint, Reo. They are amazingly different in body type, behavior, age, movement, and their attitude towards me. I truly love them both, as I have stated before. I worry about them, but because of Buddy’s recent move to my friend’s farm, I have found myself less stressed if I don’t see them daily. That is a good feeling. It also allows me to spend time doing this….blogging.

Buddy was shedding so much hair yesterday that my blue jersey was enveloped in white hair. He behavior was much better in the cross-tie, but I think only because he could see his pasture mate, the young Thoroughbred gelding, being lunged outside the barn. But wait, his legs are very swollen above the knee. I felt, prodded, and examined both legs. While the forearms were filled with edema, he was not in pain and did not appear ill in any manner. We sent a picture of the swelling to the veterinarian, and he believes the swelling is from trauma. There are no marks or scrapes, no hair loss, just swelling. Nothing to do for him at this time but worry. He doesn’t appear to be affected at all, especially when we put him back in the pasture with his beloved Bella, the bay Dutch Warmblood mare. I personally think she let him have a good swift kick when he moved his body too close to her, but yet, no marks to indicate that happened.

Buddy has now asserted himself with Bella, and she is moving over when he requests it, that is, ears back, teeth bared, attitude showing. It’s an interesting dynamic to watch. The Old Horse has become the boss. I think the other two have just accepted that the grouchy old white horse is a part of life now, and they’d better listen to him. Perhaps that is how he ended up with swollen forearms.

Reo is, and always has been, in control of his space and been number one in the gelding field. He doesn’t bite, he simply looks at the other geldings and they back off, and if they don’t, his hind end swirls around to let them know enough already. Reo loves food beyond all else. I carry treats in my vest pocket and his goal is to nudge me to dig in that pocket and give him a treat. He low snickers, nudges gently — at first — then pushes. That’s when I have to tell him to behave himself, the treats will come when I’m darn good and ready to give them to him.

Reo appears to be a docile fellow, but he is very reactive to his environment. Yesterday, while lunging him in the indoor arena, another horse walked by the open doors. Reo thought the world was going to attack him, as he backed up, snorted, raised his tail, and showed the whites of his eyes. Of course, the big thoroughbred was wearing an orange, red and yellow striped blanket and looked very “scary.” I laughed out loud at Reo. Afraid of a pretty blanket. (Buddy would simply have looked curiously, and gone about his business.) That is why Reo is so unpredictable. I never know what he’s going to think about his surroundings.

These horses are a major part of my life, but I am trying to allow other aspects of my world to enter. It’s impossible to forget that I’m not young anymore, as my body isn’t as flexible nor agile as it once was. Grooming and simply handling horses takes a toll on my physical being, but my mental state always improves when I’m with them. I can forget the world’s turmoil and simply love. I think horse people get that.

Visiting The Old Horse

Yesterday I visited the Old Horse, Buddy. He finally acknowledged my whistle, and I was pleased to see him begin walking up the small hill to come to the barn. Of course, he only came because the other two horses started up towards the barn, too. By the time Buddy arrived at the gate, he was a slightly winded. I think being on hilly land is good for him, as he must expend more energy and muscle than he did at the boarding facility. His only problem is his anxiety when Bella is not with him. I tried to bring him in to the barn for grooming and pampering, but when he realized Bella was not coming too, he became way too agitated to work with. You’d think after 30 years of me taking care of him, he’d be happy to see me. Apparently not. So, the solution was to bring Bella and Toby in to their stalls, too.

I grabbed their halters from the stall doors, and approached the pasture gate. I am amazed at how much larger they are than Buddy; Bella is of Warmblood breeding, and Toby is a young Thoroughbred. I suppose if people are used to being around those big guys, they don’t get nervous. I assume, over time, I will feel more comfortable handling them. Just reaching up to their very high heads is a stretch for me, and I am not a small woman. Fortunately, they seem to have good manners and do not pull away or drag their handler. However, their size means they take up more room when passing through the gate, and I need to remember to move out of their way. With Buddy, who is not a midget by any means, standing at 15 hands, it’s quite easy to swivel away. Bella, however, takes up a lot of space and I was not prepared to move out of her way quickly enough. I did not get squeezed, but felt a pang of fear as she walked by. I admit, my nerves were not the best at that time, as it was the first time I have taken them out of the field, and my confidence level is not what it was when I was a younger woman. All was well, however, as I did lead them to their stalls without any problems.

Buddy relaxed once Bella was in her stall next to his, and I was able to remove his blanket and start brushing. My gosh, the hair! White hair swirled in the air, into my eyes, stuck on my clothes and my body, and covered the stall floor. (Now I could see how I would look with white hair!) I checked for cuts, tried to remove the dried mud covering his pasterns and lower legs (with some success), and admired how he has gained his weight back and looks so fine for a 32 year old Appaloosa. But then…

He decided he was done being in, and I knew it was time to move them back out to the pasture. He was done with me and my pampering. He was ready to be just a horse again. And I was ready to head out to the other barn to care for my paint horse, Reo.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about Reo.

Love and The Old Horse

I visited the Old Horse, Buddy, this week, just two times. I cannot say I feel quite right about it since for so many years, 30 to be exact, I have seen him almost daily. It’s hard for me to accept that I have basically put him “out to pasture.” Not really, for heavens sake, he’s got pasture mates, a stall, senior grain twice daily, expensive hay cubes, blankets, and attention. But it’s not me doing those chores, and I feel quite uncomfortable about that.

I just saw on Facebook that a friend retired her older horse to a small farm where she calls it his “forever home.” In other words, she put him out to pasture, too. It helped me to read her words about how happy she is, and how happy she believes him to be. I began to put into my head that Buddy is just fine; that he really doesn’t need me, nor does he love me. He is just a good old horse enjoying his later years of life with no stress (except for his love affair with Bella), and is probably happier than he has been in years.

Of course, who defines happy. the Old Horse, or me in my Old Woman human terms? I think that happiness is where one is. Am I happy in my home, yes. Would I be happy in another home, yes. Have I been happy in the many, many homes I’ve lived in, yes. So in my definition of happy, can I put that on the Old Horse. Can I equate his thought process with mine…that of an Old Woman? Sure, why not.

I have watched this Old Horse grow and age since he was two years old. He was a beautiful chestnut color, with white spots (as an Appaloosa should have), quite thin, and didn’t give a hoot about me. I was thrilled beyond words to have acquired this horse, who knew nothing except having been starved and uncared for. My attachment to him began the day he became mine, and I have loved him now for these past 30 years. He, on the other hand, has always been a bit aloof. He liked the feed I gave him, he liked being groomed, he liked being out in the pasture with the other horses, he liked his stall. He knew me, he nickered at me, but he didn’t “love” me in my human terms. Nor does he love me now. I’m okay with that, because I know I did everything I could for him in his life time, and I still had/have that emotional attachment we horse people get to our horses.

Today it was snowing and he and his pasture mates were out in the snow. The Old Horse was looking over the fence at another barn…I think he was looking for his old friends from our North Carolina farm. This new home he now lives in is very similar to our NC farm, and he had neighbors there he enjoyed chatting with over the fence. I wonder if his old brain is trying to bring back old memories? Why else would he continue to stare at the next door pasture? Or again, am I putting my Old Woman’s thought processes into his? I truly don’t know. I will dwell on that in a quiet afternoon.

Old Horse … Old Person

Today I visited the Old Horse, Buddy. He has lost weight and needs a good grooming. I hope he begins to regain his healthy weight as he becomes more comfortable with his new home. It’s been three weeks since I moved him to this new home; perhaps he is going to need more time than I thought. He has finally begun eating, but I’m thinking he needs to start chowing down more grain and hay cubes pretty darn soon. He is also expending way too much energy worrying about his new girlfriend, Bella. She is happy to have him there, but not as thrilled as Buddy is to swoon over her. He is too old to be so interested in Bella, but who can say what too old is for attraction to another! He is also expending calories worrying about how close the young horse named Toby is getting to Bella: Ears back, neck arched, stay away! And Bella, she doesn’t care one way or the other.

I, myself, am an Old Person, but I am not losing weight! In fact, it is all I can do to not gain weight, which at the moment is about 20 pounds heavier than I believe I should be. I have not been put out to pasture yet, and I do not foresee that anytime soon as I am feeling quite good (hope no jinx here). Yesterday I rode my other horse, the black and white paint named Reo. We had a pleasant ride together, but I truly felt every muscle in my legs trembling by the time I dismounted. And today I walked a few thousand feet and these same legs ached and trembled. Will my muscles ever feel strong again, or is this part of what being an Old Person is going to be?

I am not attracted to another person, except my husband of 56 years. I do find him interesting, and I do not worry about him being near other women, or even men. That means I do not expend calories worrying about him being with others. Maybe I should and that would help take off a few pounds. Ahh, not worth it, I think.

The Old Horse and I have lived a good life, but we still have years left to experience living. ..and write about.

Old Horses and Old People

I have a 32 year old Appaloosa gelding that has been part of my life for 30 years (Buddy). I am an aged person, 76 to be exact, and this old horse and I have been through much in our lifetimes. I am running out of money (retired) to keep this old boy going, but he is in wonderful health, except for funny looking knees, and he is part of me, so he must be cared for and loved. He has been boarded at a nearby stable and enjoyed a good life there with a pasture and his own stall. I also have another horse (Reo) at that facility who lives in the pasture only, so it’s convenient to check on Buddy daily, while still enjoying a ride on Reo. Keeping Buddy at the boarding stable is expensive, and so I began a search for a new home for him. However, was it safe to move him at his age to a new home? I decided that it was necessary for him to move, and he would simply have to make the adjustment.

I found a private farm where two other horses live, with a small barn and a stall for him, a pasture to be turned out in, and someone who will care for him like I always have. He thought life was terrible for a few days, but then he fell in love with the big mare that shares the barn and pasture, and within two weeks he had settled in to his new home. The best part is that it is near my home, and I can go check on him whenever I want. Of course, that means I have to spread myself out if I intend to continue to ride and enjoy Reo. So, I am slowly weaning myself from going to see Buddy daily now that I know his caretaker is caring for him in an excellent manner.

What this means is that I can begin to enjoy taking time to care for and ride Reo, and stress less over the old horse. I wonder if that is what happens when old people get put into new homes? The family worries less about their care, stays away longer and longer, and finally it becomes an effort to visit them. Fortunately for me, at least for now, I am still an active woman, still feel pretty darn good (except for funny acting knees … kind of like Buddy) and enjoy most of life.

Except, of course, that I think families still worry about their old person, as I do about Buddy. When does the phone call come that says he is not well? When does the time come to say goodbye? And when that happens, will I begin to feel like it’s time to say goodbye to my own life. We shall just wait and see, I guess.

Frustration

My husband uses my laptop.  He swears nothing changes when he uses it, but I can never find what I want when he returns it to me.   So, I’m ignorant about computers, I know.  I am, after all, 76 years old and technology is not my forte.   My forte is writing, riding, living without stress, and ignoring most everything that annoys me.   Oh, well, I found Word Press again, and now I need to remember how to use it and get back on-line with my ideas, my life, and so on.  Boring stuff, but what the hell, it’s my life.

Cooking

I have never been much of a cook.  In fact, one might say that I have always been a lousy cook, with a very limited list of foods to cook.  Now, because Chuck (my husband) has decided that his heart is important, we have embarked on the Ornish diet for heart health.  I cannot believe there are so many ways to cook vegetables:  sauté, roast, sauté, grill, sauté, boil, sauté, well, you get the picture.  So, my daughter sends me this cookbook called “Thug Kitchen, eat like you give a fuck.”   The language in this book is outrageous, but the recipes are downright fun to work with.   I actually learned that it’s a good idea to gather all the ingredients together before one starts, rather than find them as you go along.  I think I should have known that, but for some reason, it never occurred to me.  With 17 items in the ingredients, one would suppose gathering all that together would cover the countertop.  Yep, Ginger-Mushroom Summer Rolls have 17 ingredients.  But it really doesn’t seem to be too hard, and so tonight I am going to try to prepare these “sexy, chilled, see-through burritos” (their words, not mine).  And who knew there were so many beans:  garbanzo, black, red, boston, black-eyed peas, and more.   You just throw those things in whatever you are cooking, and behold, you have protein and flavor.  We do not eat meat, or poultry; we eat egg whites; we eat whole wheat (Chuck freaks out when I accidentally buy enriched bread); we do eat fish now and then (I simply cannot give up red snapper, or shrimp, or salmon).   What this all means is that I can cook a mighty tasty meal nowadays, and it’s a lot of fun, too.

I’m Still Old

You know, I used to like to write.  About everything.  And now I find myself unable to think about putting my thoughts or my memories on paper.  I used to belong to a memory keepers writing group, and while it is still going on, I cannot bring myself to attend those monthly meetings, because I do not have anything to say — or rather, write.  I wrote pages and pages of memories and realized they are all about me.  Others write about their families, their ancestral homes, their research on historical family members, and so on.  I write about my experiences.  There is only so much to say about one individual’s experiences, even if that person, being me, has had an interesting life.  There are certain things one just doesn’t write about, and those, maybe, are the things that would make another person give a damn about reading the  memory.

In just a year’s time I have changed.   How is that even possible?  After living 74 years, one should stop changing, I think, and have some consistency in life.  Like, relax and enjoy life.  However, when I am at home, I want to be out.  When I am out, I want to be home.  Perhaps that is what aging does to you:  trying to find a place where one belongs at this stage of life.

Indeed, I have changed.  For one thing, I weigh 45 pounds less than I did a year ago.   I feel better.  I have more energy.  I am healthier, and I need new clothes.  Unfortunately, I do not have money for new clothes.  I am retired, and while not poor, certainly can’t go out and purchase new clothes.  Of course, I don’t need much, since all I do is hang around  home, go grocery shopping, and go to the barn.  I guess I should mention, I have horses, and I try to ride at least three times a week, which is why I’m out of money.  That fulfills my “getting away from home” dilemma.  I finally took on a volunteer position.  It’s okay, but I’d rather be selfish and simply spend time doing my own thing.   So, in that way, I haven’t changed.

I am more opinionated than ever.  I pay more attention to the political situations in the world.  (Now, why in the hell would anyone want to do that when their life is winding down and there is not a thing that can be accomplished by an old lady filled with angst?)    I marched in the Million Women’s March in Washington, D.C. in January, 2017.   It was an interesting experience, filled with hope and anticipation of making a difference.   It also brought me sadness, fatigue, and an aching body.  But, boy was it ever worth it!

I am still old.  That hasn’t changed.  Everyday I am older, and my life is shortened.   Kind of sad, I think.  Just when I realized I could do so much, I have less time to do it.  Another dilemma, perhaps.   Well, we shall see what tomorrow brings.

 

My Paint Horse and Me

I finally realized that I do not have to ride every day, or every week for that matter.  I can spend quality time with Reo just lungeing and learning.  He is fuzzy now, like a velvet rug, and smells like a winter horse.  He likes me, I think.  He likes the snacks I give him, that’s for sure.  He knows more than he lets on, as when I think I’m going to teach him something new, he already knows how to do it.  He’s just rusty and needs to be reminded that he can do whatever I ask of him.  I like working with him; I enjoy riding him in the arena and have begun to work him harder; he makes me nervous when I ride away from the barn as he seems so unsure of his ability to cope with his surroundings.  I don’t know if that is a game or if he really has this innate fear.  I am working on discovering more about him.  I do know that when he decides I have taught him enough, he begins to object.  I do not want to push him too hard, but I do not want to let him think I am a pushover.  (I am, kind of.)  Since I am a senior rider (over 70), and not as brave as I would like to be, I am sure he detects that in me.   I have learned that I can get his attention by working him at a nice long trot.  My goal for him is to be a successful western dressage horse.  Not spectacular, just pleasant and competent.  I am running out of time (years), so it is kind of disappointing that my future is limited with him, but I will make the best of the time we have left and see where we end up.