Archive | September, 2013

Katie Explains the Scientific Method

30 Sep


Katie understands the unique challenges of being a miniature horse.

Dear Katie, I am a 32 inch tall miniature horse.  All the kids are stuck in the house working on science fair projects and ignoring me.  I would like to work on a science fair project, too.  Do you have any ideas?  Signed, Small Fry the Science Guy

Dear Small, you can use many items in your paddock for a science experiment, but if you need more material, just crawl under the fence and get what you need.

You could study if miniature horses prefer grass, dandelions or raspberry bushes by eating all of them.  Or you could time how long it takes for a human to discover that you are no longer in your paddock and catch you.

If you want a more concrete experiment, you could try digging holes in many parts of your paddock and comparing the soil type.  Be sure to dig big holes in front of the gate.  Another option is to chew the wood off various parts of your barn and decide if any parts are easier to chew.  If you find a good spot, just keep chewing.  Good luck- Katie

Katie Knows That Changing Careers Can Be Difficult

21 Sep


Katie understands the unique challenges of being a miniature horse or pony.

Dear Katie, I am an 11 hand tall Shetland pony.  I have not yet found my perfect career.  I have tried bucking children off, biting adults and kicking a cart that I pullled.  I am not sure what is left for me to do.  I really want a job.  Do you have any ideas?  Signed, Been There, Done That

Dear Been, I understand your dilemma.  You have done all the obvious things a pony can do.  But there are a few more careers you could try.  You could try biting children, since you’ve only bitten adults.  You could also run off with the cart vs. kicking it.  Good luck in your new endeavors! – Katie

A Blog for Each Personality

21 Sep


When writing a blog, conventional wisdom says to be consistent, keep on topic and start a new blog for every one of your multiple personalities.

If you have very prolific personalities, that works great.  But if you have some personalities that only crank one post a year, then you’ll just have blog drift.  That’s where your blogs drift off into nowhere and you have to go find the blog next you want to post because you have no idea where it went.

Originally blogs were not so specialized.  The goal wasn’t to conquer the universe.  Now, whoever has the most readers wins.   It was once about writing.

Everyone is busy and the information age has become information overload.  I admire the bloggers that keep on writing for the sake of writing.  Like a zen monk sitting on a rock, they just are.  Whatever they are is fine.  And it shines through.

In blogs you will find original, unedited voices. I enjoy the blogs where all the personalities get to play in one blog.  Who needs a separate blog for every topic?  I like diversity.  If you’re looking for the most readers, maybe.  What is your goal?  To write or accumulate?

The Legend of B-wert

20 Sep

photo 4

Long before we had Katie, we had a pony named B-wert.  You will notice many spellings of B-wert (bee-wurt), because we have no idea how to spell it.    Also, since this was so long ago, I had to draw B-wert from memory.

A friend had the brilliant idea that I should place a “pony wanted” ad on CL.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.   A nice lady emailed me back immediately, which should have been a red flag.

“I have a great pony gelding,”  she said,  “he’s ten hands and my stepdaughter rides him everywhere on trails.  I just want him to have a good home.  He’s free.  You sound like a good home.”

Or something to that effect.

We drove miles into the middle of nowhere, which also happened to be through a patch of rush hour traffic, with visions of adorable ponies dancing in our heads.

When we arrived, they were washing his tail.  I thought that was a bit odd since it was cold out.  They said they wanted to give him a bath so he looked nice for us.  I now know better.  If anyone is ever washing a horse’s tail when you arrive, run for your car.

He was kind of cute in an obese, bulgy, frizzy-maned Appaloosa sort of way.  He was a varnish roan POA/mini cross with a heart shape on his butt.  He actually had a second butt on top of his real butt.  Seriously.  I tried to draw it in the picture, but can’t do it justice.  His wide chest and short legs supported a true barrel-shaped middle.  Since the saddle just slid under his belly, the kids rode him bareback.   He walked and trotted fine, though not always where they wanted him to go.  The kids wanted him, of course.  I later discovered that they wanted every pony.

“What was his name again?”  I asked.

“Bwert,” she said.  “My husband brought him home one day from the neighbors’ and said that his name was Bwert.  Well, after we had him about a year, he suddenly remembered the B word was Bandit.  He had said his name was some B word.  But we just called him Bwert.”

Upon coming home, Bwert aka Bandit puffed himself up and headed for the hay.  Then diarrhea shot out the other end.  Every ten minutes.  All over the paddock.  We thought maybe he was a bit stressed.  But the next day and the next the same thing happened.  And the next.  We washed his tail, but it was futile.

Bwart also emitted the most horrible whinny whenever the pony mare left.  She could care less about him.  The neighbors were not impressed and asked us if we had a donkey.

The kids had a blissful week of riding Bwert up the road and around the property and avoiding diahrrea.

Then I made mistake of taking the vitamin bucket into his pen to fill his feed pan with his meager vitamin ration.   Due to exercise and sensible meals he no longer had a second butt on top of his rump.  So maybe he thought I was starving him.  He saw the bucket and took a running start, barreling over the top of me and sending the bucket flying.  He proceeded to scarf up the spilled vitamins as I lay stunned on my back.  I looked up, and from my vantage point, thought I saw something that shouldn’t be there.

It was a little bulgier than it should be back between his back legs.  I had never seen a gelding look quite like that.  But he wasn’t quite as obvious as a stallion.  So I had to feel back there.  Sure enough, not-quite-descended testicles.   I suspect no one wanted to pay for expensive cryptorchid gelding surgery on Bwert.

I called the old owner and said he was a stallion and I didn’t want a stallion.  And he ran me over.

“He’s a gelding,”  she said,  “but I never really looked.  I think the other owners gelded him.  They did everything themselves.  You’re probably just seeing scar tissue.  And he probably just thought the vitamins were grain.  You shouldn’t have gone in his paddock with grain.”

She didn’t believe me, but said she’d get him.  Fortunately her friend came to drive the truck and trailer.  I showed the owner the testicles, but she still didn’t believe me.  Her friend walked over, took one look and  and said, “yup, that’s a stallion”  and took his lead rope from me.

A few months later I saw him advertised for sale by another person on CL as gelding.  His price started at $800 and went down to $300 over the months, and I never knew what happened to him.  I felt like I should have emailed them and let them know, but ignorance is bliss.

Adventures in Horse Shopping

18 Sep


The only one happy about today is Katie.  That’s because no new horse is coming to reside in her extra stall, which she currently uses as her extra bathroom.  Just because she’s a mini doesn’t mean one bathroom is enough.  That’s because Katie uses all stalls as a bathroom and sleeps out in the dirt of her paddock.

I finally became brave enough to go horse shopping again.  I had a detailed conversation with the owner of a  “4-H and trail” horse on the phone, and the horse nearly glowed with perfection as the owner described him.  He was beautiful.  He was a trail horse but collected in the arena with a Western jog and rocking-horse lope.  You could let him sit six months and climb right on!  Ride him with no tack and he behaved perfectly!  He was not herdbound in the least and he was kid-safe.  He was a paint horse.

I arrived to see what looked like a Tennessee Walker.  No, he was a paint, she said.  He had some marking on his face.  He looked a little squirrely and took off when she tried to catch him.  She tied him up and he gave us that cranky look camp horses give humans.  She crammed a tom thumb bit in his mouth and saddled him.  Her son walked over wearing flip flops.  She had him climb on the horse barefoot with no helmet and trot the horse.  He hung onto the saddle horn as the horse executed a speedy gait resembling a jackhammer.

Meanwhile a foal was wandering around.  A weanling.  She was running back and forth and all around us, whinnying.  She was making me nervous because I was reading the big horse’s body language and he was getting worried about the foal.  Not to mention that I didn’t want to get kicked.  The owner finally locked the foal up.  My daughter got on the jackhammer horse.

She asked him to walk and he humped up wild eyed and gave a buck.  She dismounted quickly and the owner said, “I guess he is a little bit herdbound.”


I don’t know why I keep horse shopping.  I guess it’s because I want a horse.  But really, there must be a better way.  Like cloning. Or ordering a horse on ebay.

Katie Understands The Importance of Eating Breakfast (and Lunch, and Dinner)

11 Sep


Katie understands the unique challenges of being a miniature horse or pony.

Dear Katie, I am a 10 hand Shetland pony.  I am struggling to understand why I can’t eat continuously 24 hours a day.  I can’t think of a single good reason.  I have finished my flake of hay and now have another 5 hours until lunch.  How will I survive?  Signed, Breakfast of Champions

Dear Breakfast, you have asked an age-old question.  People think ponies and miniatures should eat 3 skimpy meals a day when we should be just left alone with a bale of hay and given another one when we have eaten that, which will be in about 2 hours.  Better yet, we should be fed 4 bales of hay a day.  One for each meal and a snack.   – Katie


11 Sep



If you look around our culture, the message seems to be that magic is for young people.  As you approach or surpass 50 (or 20 if you’re a horse), the message is that the magic is gone, get used to it.  Our culture is youth-obsessed.  Not that youth is bad, but it is one season of life.  And magic permeates all seasons of life, and all things.

In other cultures, elders hold wisdom, peace, and yes…magic.  Joy, love, light.  Getting old can mean letting go of things that obscure your light and letting more of the magic that is you shine through.  This isn’t the magic that is worshipped with youth.  That is part of what needs to go.  If you think that is the magic, and it fades, you might become a crusty old curmudgeon.

Magic can never be captured.  It is just is.  It comes from seeing things as they are and realizing they’re magical.  Look around, sit under a tree and watch the sunlight glint on the leaves.  Whatever thoughts dance in your mind, realize they’re not the magic and never were.   Getting older means more magic, and the more of us that see that, the better place our world will be.

No Jello Salads Here Today

1 Sep


Most every blog seems to offer profound insights into parenting, social issues, tasty recipes or travel to exotic locations.

You won’t find any of that here.   Not that I am not a parent, have insights on social issues, concoct tasty recipes or travel to exotic locales like Des Moines, IA.  I could post my latest recipe for jello salad.  It involves radishes and green jello for that holiday look.

Or I could talk about my inability to overcome my jealousy of other moms whose hair lays flat when they get up in the morning and whose children don’t call each other stinky and jab each other in the back seat of the car. But that’s been done.

I could also post stunning pictures of hummingbirds, since one just buzzed by head.  But that would involve getting up to get the camera.  So no stunning pictures of hummingbirds today.

So, what’s left?  Horses.  Or maybe a horse-shaped jello salad.  Made in Des Moines, IA .  By hummingbirds.  But no, you won’t find even that here.  Instead you get this picture of Katie.  Have a great Labor Day!