Tag Archives: pets

Quarantine is The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me

26 Apr

Happy Birthday, Katie! Apr 9 2013

 

Dear Katie, I am a 33 inch tall 400 lb miniature horse and share your birthday.  I got locked in a dirt paddock with no grass for my birthday, and they are just feeding me dry sticks of hay because they said my ideal weight is 210 lbs.  What is going on?  And how old are you now, Katie?  Signed, I hate Birthdays

Dear Birthdays, You are experiencing a coronavirus quarantine.  It’s something people and bats did to make our lives miserable. If you see any bats, be sure to chase them out of the barn.  In order to make your quarantine fun, just stop eating your hay.  After two days they will think you are sick and give you special treats to tempt you to eat.  Eat them all.  That’s what I did. and now quarantine is the best time of my life. And I am 26 years old now.  Happy Birthday!

Merry Christmas!

25 Dec

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Merry Christmas from Macho, Katie and all the gang!

Katie Spreads Some Holiday Cheer

18 Dec

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Katie understands the unique challenges of being a miniature horse.

Dear Katie, I am a 36 inch tall miniature horse.  My people decided I needed a new friend for Christmas.  I think they bought the new horse for themselves, but I can’t prove it.   Is there anything I can do?-  Signed, Holiday Cheer

Dear Cheer,  they did buy the horse for themselves, and you can try to make them return the other horse by biting him.  Pin your ears like this (see my picture).  Sometimes your people will just give the new horse his own paddock.  Once, they gave MY stall to a new horse after I bit him.  People can be so rude.- Katie

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. 

Count Your Blessings

2 Nov

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November is a time to be thankful and count your blessings.  I count Katie among mine.  If you own a horse, you are quite lucky.  Sometimes the horse wasn’t what your plans said a horse should be, but exactly the horse you needed.  That’s Katie.

Katie Gets Some Exercise

28 Oct

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Katie is finally back, since this is her blog.  I took her out of the pasture to ground drive her and found out she is so fat her harness won’t fit.   So I lunged her (made her trot around the round pen) and had her jump a few jumps.  Then we went for a walk up the road for the first time in months.

She turned into a snorting, prancing little fireball.  Things that she walked past two months ago without batting an eye now required hyperventilating.  This is one reason why Katie did not become my driving horse.

In contrast, I took Macho the mini gelding down the road and he walked past tall grass, decaying tomato plants and a shrub without fear.  He even ignored the goat.  Katie bumped her nose on my hand and calmed down enough to walk with energy and snorting but no really bad behavior.

Katie needs to lose about 25 lbs in order to fit into her harness.  She has been eating more than her share of the hay since Macho eats slower due to his senior teeth.

Katie Knows That Photographers are Easy To Outrun

24 Oct

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

Dear Katie, I am a 12 hand Welsh pony.  Tomorrow I’m getting my picture taken.  The picture is for the girl who rides me.  They said I am a “prop.”  What does that mean?  Signed, Photogenic but Confused

Dear Photogenic,  they want you to prop her up so she has something to lean on. But she can stand up by herself.   They’ll have you stand somewhere scenic, like in a tasty meadow.  When they are done arranging you as the prop, make a run for it and eat grass.  Photographers are easy to outrun.  Good luck- Katie