Tag Archives: animals

Autocorrect Nightmare: Curse of the Smartphone

23 Jan

Yesterday I was texting our trainer on my new (refurbished cheap) smartphone, proud that I had entered the 21st century.

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After two successful sentences, complete with punctuation, I got too cocky.  I had finally learned to hit the space bar instead of “send” after each word.  Or so I thought.

As I was typing “Duke didn’t bite” (he has a slight biting problem), autocorrect turned “Duke didn’t” into “Duke DIED” and I hit send instead of space.

In a panic of bad typing I attempted to text an explanation that Duke did not die.

I hope I didn’t give her a heart attack!   I am going to turn autocorrect off today after I have the courage to face my dastardly phone again.

The Saga of the Outgrown Pony

26 Dec

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I am terrible at letting go of things.  I get very attached to my animals.  I’ve struggled over the past year with letting go of our outgrown pony.   I’ve gotten very attached to her but the kids have outgrown her in size and ability.

So, this coming year am going to find a good home for her.  She is a perfect starter pony – kids can pick her feet, saddle and bridle her and we trained her far more than the usual pony under 12 hands– she moves off the leg and sidepasses.  She has finesse and knows voice commands.

But being a smart pony mare, she can be stubborn.  That is, in my opinion, preferable to evil ponies that run off with their kids.  She has been in numerous large show classes and just did her job and didn’t get involved in any horse nonsense.

The first year we had her, when she was 6 years old, someone came up to me at a show and asked, “where did you find a trusty old packer pony?”

I explained she was a 6 year old pony at her first overnight show and had never been to the fairgrounds before.  She was just born a good pony.  I think she placed in every class.

At one show, Gypsy was not wanting to go and was being lazy.  The trainer next to me said that ponies teach kids so much- she could put a pony rider on any horse and they could ride, but you could not put just any horse rider on a pony.  She said to keep the kids on a pony as long as possible.

Which we did.  One day the pony said enough.  She said I am not cantering with this giant kid on my back.  She planted her feet and refused to move.

So wish me luck that Gypsy finds a home that loves her as much as we do and that I can let go.

Merry Christmas!

25 Dec

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Merry Christmas from Macho, Katie and all the gang!

Winter Unmotivation

11 Dec

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As temperatures drop below freezing and dusk creeps ever closer to 4 pm, my motivation for doing anything with the horses diminishes.  I feel guilty, considering I grew up in Wisconsin (open a freezer and stand in it if you want the Wisconsin experience).

Now in a “mild climate” where a temp drop to 10 degrees is unusually cold, I’ve become a weather wimp.  I prefer to stay in where it’s warm.   When it drops below 40 degrees outside, I decide to stay in and let the horses eat some more hay.

After all, they need time to just be a horse, right?

Granted, a damp 40 degrees with soaking rain causes more hypothermia than a dry 40 degrees anywhere else.  Like Mark Twain said, “the coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco.”  Make that any season in Seattle.

You can dress warm in dry cold, but damp chill sneaks through the layers and right into your bones. Also the sun warms the landscape on a cold sunny day, whereas a dark gray chilly one provides no cosmic heat lamp to bask under.

So I guiltily watch the horses outside, knowing I could be working and training and even getting ready for some frigid winter shows.  We showed through a few winters just fine, but that was before I became a weather wimp.

Life in a Herd

9 Dec

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Living with a small herd of horses can teach you things you would never learn otherwise.

With a herd, you see the relationship between the horses and realize that this interaction is crucial to their well-being.  We kept a pony alone for awhile, and she was fine with us as her herd.  So people can be a substitute for the “horse herd.”  But you do miss out on seeing some amazing things.

Last night, Gypsy the pony entangled her back legs in the electric fence.  She was probably being a mare and kicking at the gelding on the other side.  She had been trapped in the fence tape for some time when I found her at morning chores.  She could not move, but didn’t fight the fence.  The gelding stood behind her, a vigilant guard in the next paddock and refused to move until I had freed Gypsy.

Gypsy stood quietly while I got a scissors and cut the strands.  She looked at me with complete trust.  I unwound her back legs and she walked off, unscathed, to eat hay.  She did stop to take a treat and bump me with her nose.

I shudder to think what Katie would have done if she had trapped her legs in the fence.  Katie spooks at her own shadow.

But then again, Katie surprises me sometimes by being sensible.  She is not as ditzy as she looks.  She would probably have evaluated the situation and waited, too.  At least, I hope she would have.

Back to the herd.  They all have their place and they look out for each other.  The geldings play rough- the other day Duke and Macho were kicking at each other with their back legs as they grazed, then stopped kicking and continued grazing.  They may have a mock battle, flailing front legs like wild stallions, then drop to graze nose to nose.

The mares have to kick and run and then graze together and stick together like glue against the geldings.  But put Katie back in with her long-term gelding buddy after a few hours and they immediately groom each others’ withers like long-lost friends.

The herd is a place of endless fascination and reveals the depth of the relationships that horses forge.

Holiday Alienation

7 Dec

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I have learned the most from not getting what I want.  Often what I want is colored by what I want in terms of what I think is possible.   I’ve always felt out of synch with the modern world’s ideals.  Not that I am old-fashioned, as in churning my own butter.  It’s that I don’t value what society says I should value.

I found myself in a crowd, yet again, feeling like an alien.  I should have a lot in common with horse people, since I love horses and always have.  And I really enjoy being around some horse people.  But most of the time I find that I really don’t.   I feel more at home with artists.  Every city I’ve ever lived in, I’ve gone to an art class and felt at home.  I’ve felt accepted.  When I attended a large college of 40,000 students, I felt lost until I took drawing 101 and felt like I had landed back on my home planet.  No longer an alien!  Or else, we were all aliens and OK with that.  Most of the time, a group will ignore you if you’re different.  A group of artists loves you if you’re different!  The more different, the better.  But being just a tiny bit different is good, too.  Artists care about what is below the surface.  Anyone who creates is humbled by the process.

So, decades later, it seems if I really end up feeling at home with someone, it turns out they have an interest in the arts. This is my tribe.

Oh, back to the subject at hand about not getting what you want.  When I got my property, I wanted to own a riding horse again.  I went through a few bad experiences, ending with our perfect riding horse dying of a sudden and incurable colic.  During our future attempts to buy or lease another riding horse, I felt like I was in a bad movie.  Who writes this stuff?  It can’t be real.  But in the horse world, yes, it can.

A few months later, I tentatively pulled up Dreamhorse (a horse sales website) to kill time and forgot to limit my search to 150 miles from my zip code.  So I pulled up horses so far away I could not drive to see them.  One was an eye-catching miniature horse.  My daughter begged me to inquire about him.  That seemed ridiculous since I could not go see him, so I put off emailing for a couple of days.  A half-hearted inquiry led to one thing after another and the process ended up with a new horse on my property.  There was no drama in the purchase.  I had to do a few things I never do and I listened more to my intuition than what was possible.  I had to trust.  Sometimes you need to give up before things work out.

But back to alienation.  I still don’t know if I will ever feel at home in a group of horse people.  I connect with a few individuals here and there.  And I connect with my horses.  It’s dark and the stars are shining over a frozen landscape.  The crescent moon hangs in the western sky.  I went out and gave my ponies some treats- feeling their warm breath on my hand.  And I felt connected at last.

Katie’s Social Standing takes a Plunge: aka New Horse Arrives

1 Dec

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Katie once again finds herself at the bottom of the pecking order.  Even though she is fiercely dedicated to raising her social standing, her efforts are futile against an even more dominant miniature horse.  The few times she did move herself up in the social strata, it wasn’t pretty.  Katie does not handle power well.  Think Mussolini in a miniature horse body.  Life is much better if she is not in charge.

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The new horse has arrived– a little bay mini driving gelding who thinks he is 17 hands tall.  He needs a few reminders of who is in charge, but is sweet and easy to handle.  I figure if we want to ride, we can ride someone else’s big horses.  That way, if the horse goes lame I won’t be stuck with another large pasture pet.  The worst is that I can be stuck with a small one.  And we can drive and show and enjoy all the good horse stuff in a small package with smaller expense and a smaller workload.

I like having my own horse vs. school horses but am not up for the risk and expense of owning another large horse.  So we can ride school horses (when we get around to it) and train and drive the minis at home.

The new horse is actually my kid’s – to clarify.   She was getting suspicious of me discussing her new horse like he was mine!   But I am going to borrow him sometimes. 

Katie Knows The Importance of Gratitude

29 Nov

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Katie understands the unique challenges of being a miniature horse.

Dear Katie, I am a 9 hand tall Shetland pony.  I can’t think of anything to be thankful for.  Can you help me?  I can only think about things that upset me, like small hay rations and fences.  Signed, Ungrateful

Dear Ungrateful, what you focus on increases, so be thankful for the small, good things in your life, such as:
-the times your “owner” accidently leaves the gate open
-the times the electric fence is turned off
-the pasture buddies that your “owner” didn’t bring home to eat your food
-the lush grass on the septic drainfield

If you focus on these things, soon your life will overflowing with riches.- Katie

More Horse Shopping

5 Oct

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We’re going to look at another horse tomorrow, the second one this week.  He is not fancy.  I’ve gotten into trouble with fancy.   Maybe he’ll turn out to be our next  riding horse.  My criteria has been downgraded to safe, sane and sound.   I know he will not be a Bwert;  this one is definitely gelded.

The Legend of B-wert

20 Sep

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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.