Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happenings Over the Past Few Days

Seems I haven’t really posted much over the past couple of days. Life at Borderlands has been a whirlwind for a little while with the simple day-to-day activities. We spent most of the week prior to Christmas getting ready to have Christmas and hanging out with family. It was so nice to spend time with family. It’s been a rough year for all of us so it was nice to join together and simply enjoy each other’s company. I caught a little bug right after Christmas. Mom if you’re reading, don’t worry; it could have been that I needed a day to recoup from all the excitement.

I haven’t had much time to spend with the herd over the past two weeks other than their standard chores. I can’t think about what tomorrow will bring, otherwise I’ll start to cry. I spent over an hour pulling cockleburs out of Sam’s tail (and that is with the show sheen detangler). I’m sure I’ll spend another hour pulling cockleburs out of his mane and wooly coat tonight. I don’t want to do it and I keep thinking maybe I’m rushing. But last night, Sam kept looking back at me while I worked on his tail. He needed to go outside and walk around to relieve the pain from his ulcers. He’ll never be over the ulcers even when he’s only on beet pulp and hay. I know it’s time to let him go and it’s a good thing I already made the appointment because I’m simply too exhausted now to make that decision. I keep thinking there is something more that I can do. I know there isn’t and I don’t want him to suffer and lose any more weight. We’ve been blessed with a super mild winter (it’s crazy to have 40 degree temps for Christmas!). If we didn’t have this mild winter, if we were to have a winter like we did the past two years, Sam would be in much worse shape. So I know it’s the right time, but it’s hard to let go. Knowing that I’m losing Sam is part of the reason why I haven’t posted much (besides the Christmas hubbub). I don’t want to bring anyone down during a time that should be filled with joy.

This morning when I went out to do chores, Thor was curled up snoozing away. This is only the second or third time that I’ve seen Thor lying down. The last time I saw him down was due to a hoof abscess last fall. Of course, he was in with Babe and Queen at the time too. It seems Thor is finally adjusted to life with his disability. I can finally breathe knowing that he’s adjusted. Watching a horse try to adjust is tough when you can’t explain to him everything that’s going on. But Thor seems pretty content. He took a love nip out of Queen the other day. And now that he’s curled up sleeping shows he’s pretty comfortable with his two ol’ gals.

When I pulled Queen out, I changed up Flower’s feeding. I think she may have dropped a bit of weight now that her BFF isn’t in with her any more. I’m going to have to go back to her old feeding ration to see if that helps any. I’ll be keeping a close eye on her to make sure she packs the pounds back on. I don’t think she lost much but it’s enough for me to notice. Poor girl. If she hadn’t started harassing Queen as much as she had, I probably would have done a different setup. But I’ll go back to the feeding ration that she had this fall and I bet she’ll bounce right back.

We did think Mayhem was colicing the other evening. Just what I wanted, a colicing filly on Christmas eve! I think instead Mayhem was simply being lazy. But I didn’t want to take a chance so I pulled her out of the pen and we walked around for a good half an hour. She was farting and had gut sounds when we noticed her down (not rolling around but curled up). We walked for a little while and she started getting a little feisty. I figured that was a sign that she was just fine but was being lazy and eating while lying down instead of standing up. What better way to protect your food than to lay on it so no one else can get to it. Not sure where she learned that one. When I realized she wasn’t colicing but being lazy, we did a little bit more walking and a lesson on standing near the garage. Yup, she pooped on the lawn so there was no doubt that she was simply being lazy. That girl drives me nuts some days.

I’m trying to think of other activities or events that have taken place over the past few days. The last few days have been a blur with not a lot of horse activity. We’ve had some fantastic weather lately and I still haven’t had a chance to do any riding. Of course everyone is covered in cockleburs from head to hoof so the idea of pulling a horse out to groom (aka pull cockleburs) and then go for a ride seems like a lot more work. I guess I’ve gotten lazy lately. But pulling cockleburs when I could be riding is irritating. And the worst part is that I know once I pull the cockleburs out, the darn horse will go back and roll and pick up more cockleburs. It’s a never winning battle. I’ll be happy for about three to six inches of snow.

Please keep Sam in your thoughts and prayers tomorrow. The appointment is scheduled for 9am. I’m sure I’ll be a wreck. I’ve been in denial so I expect it’s going to hit me pretty hard tonight and tomorrow morning. Sam will be reunited with his old Amish teammate(s), his QH buddy Bubba, and his Percheron friend Bob. I’m sure Sam will be excited to see all his old friends again but I’m sure going to miss that goofy guy.

Reckless, The Mare

Rather fitting to post this now that War Horse has been released.

Reckless, The Mare

This horse was a pack horse during the Korean war, and she carried recoilless rifles, ammunition and supplies to Marines. Nothing too unusual about that, lots of animals got pressed into doing pack chores in many wars.

But this horse did something more. During the battle for a location called Outpost Vegas, this mare made 51 trips up and down the hill, on the way up she carried ammunition, and on the way down she carried wounded soldiers.

What was so amazing? Well, she made every one of those trips without anyone leading her.

One can imagine a horse carrying a wounded soldier, being smacked on the rump at the top of the hill, and heading back to the "safety" of the rear. But to imagine the same horse, loaded with ammunition, and trudging back to the battle where artillery is going off, without anyone leading her is unbelievable. To know that she would make 50 of those trips is unheard of. How many horses would even make it back to the barn once, let alone return to the soldiers in the field even a single time?

Here is a clip of her story and photos to prove where she was and what she did.

Reckless was retired at the Marine Corps Base in Camp Pendleton where a General issued the following order:
"She was never to carry any more weight on her back except her own blankets." She died in 1968 at the age of 20.


How bad was the battle for Outpost Vegas? Artillery rounds fell at the rate of 500 per hour, and only two men made it out alive without wounds. Just two. And also a horse, and she was wounded twice.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jett (aka Prize) Picture

Check out Jett! He's growing like a weed. Here Jett is with his herd mates. He'll be almost eight months old in January. Doesn't he look cute?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Blessing

What an amazing Christmas blessing we were given this afternoon. Thank you S and E for stopping out to share in our Christmas. S and E stopped out to drop off bags of grain and treats for Babe.

I had no idea that Babe absolutely loved candy canes. Babe had to share. Queen insisted that she have some treats too and some attention. Thor wasn't as thrilled with the candy canes and left them to the "girls". But he did want in the action of petting and some lovin'.

This may have been a tough year, but days like to day remind me how blessed we truly are. I am so grateful to everyone this Christmas. So from my herd to yours, Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lost a Horse

This morning I managed to lose a draft horse in a drylot. It’s not the first time I’ve lost a horse but it is the first time I lost one in a smaller area. I’ve lost the entire herd in the pasture. Of course I blame that on the hill that is our pasture. I’ve walked the entire pasture to discover that they managed to wander into the big drylot or were on the other side of the hill that I didn’t happen to walk all the way around.

But this morning I lost Thor. Babe had her head buried in the round bale (typical for her). All I ever see of here these days is her butt. Queen was snoozing by Babe but let out a whinny when she saw me. She’d missed her alfalfa last night because we were late in doing chores (starting chores at 9pm means I cut down on just about everything). I thought Queen’s whinny would set Thor or Babe off but it didn’t.

I grabbed a couple flakes of alfalfa, climbed the gate, tossed alfalfa to Babe and Queen, and went in search of Thor. I had a feeling Thor was standing in the newly constructed shelter. I’ve never actually seen him in it and was wondering if he’d ever used it before. Sure enough, Thor was in the shelter snoozing away. It’s so hard to wake a sleeping horse, and even harder when they are blind.

I made a bit of noise and promptly put the alfalfa to his nose. For Thor, that’s the best way to wake up, with a nose full of alfalfa. He “sees” through his nose. Babe “sees” through her ears. It’s amazing to watch how those two have managed to adapt to their disability.

Thor went to town on his alfalfa and I left him there. I was rather tickled that he was in the shelter. I wasn’t sure if it would be something either Babe or Thor would go into as it’s a tarp building and makes noise. If you can’t see it but you use your other senses, will that bother them. Apparently not. I’ve had to give Babe her alfalfa in the shelter too. I expect I’ll find all three in that shelter at some point.

Surprisingly enough, the shelter is pretty small once you put Thor in there. Oh sure there’s room for all three, but Thor really filled the shelter. It’s supposed to fit a vehicle and it fit Thor perfectly. Beings that both Babe and Thor are blind, I wondered if they would even go into it. I guess my worries are over. They both know where it is at and will go into it when they want. Wish I had one or two more of those garage in a box shelters. They really do work nice for the horses. It’s not permanent by any means but it is additional shelter if they so desire and works perfect as a wind block.

So the lesson for today is: if you lose a draft horse, carry some alfalfa.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thoughts on Slaughter

With the prospect of slaughter looming in the US, I’ve been reading people’s comments. Why the pro-slaughter people are more vocal, I’ll never know. But they insist that what they are doing is right. They insist that their horse, once it has no use for them, should be sent to slaughter.

Perhaps it’s time to explain why I am adamantly opposed to slaughter.

As the economy declined, people lost their jobs. People who had been working for 30 years but hadn’t reached retirement were now unemployed. Unemployment does not last forever and it does not provide for anything except the bare essentials. Anything extravagant had to go by the wayside. Those people who had worked at a job for 30+ years were also older and in the eyes of the employer, less desirable because they could hire someone much younger for much less. This is all information that you already know. We’re talking people, but what’s the difference with horses? Only that people have a voice and horses do not.

Because someone deems a horse “too old” or "lost his job" does not mean they should be shipped to slaughter. Why are these older horses not guaranteed a retirement home? Granted, they shouldn’t be put out to pasture to starve to death, but we don’t allow that with our grandparents do we? My mind is boggled by the midwest’s way of thinking. If you can’t use them, slaughter them. If you think they are too old and your reasoning is that you don’t want them to starve, you send them to slaughter. Why don’t you do right by your horse and euthanize? I know, because of money.

Money is the sole reason behind why people do or do not euthanize. It costs more to euthanize than it does to send to a sale barn.

But why do the sale barns outright say they do not take in the thin, blind, or crippled? Aren’t those the ones that go to slaughter. Some maybe, but mostly they are the plump horses. The thin, crippled horses help fill a load but they aren’t the sought after horses. So the crap the pro-slaughter people are spewing about the old and crippled going to slaughter is a lie.

If you take on a horse, you are responsible for their well-being for their entire life. Not until the novelty wears off, not until you decide that some other hobby requires all your time, not until you decide that they cost too much. Why are horses (and dogs/cats) not considered family members? You don’t dump your parents once they start to annoy you. You don’t dump your kids because they are naughty.

I know I’m rambling. But there are just too many pro-slaughter people spewing uneducated information and people are listening. I know I don’t have all the facts. But I am not willing to sit back and listen to all these lies. We are supposed to be in the season of giving. So why not this Christmas, do the right thing and help a horse. Spread the word about horrors of slaughter, educate people. Our only hope is to be as vocal as the pro-slaughter people.


I was still on the fence deciding what to do with Queen. I think she told me this morning. It’s not as ideal for her (and Flower hates it), but Queen is relaxing and becoming boss mare of her herd of three.

This morning when I went out to do chores in the dark, Queen was curled up next to the round bale feeder. I think she was struggling to keep her head up. This is the first time in a long time that I’ve seen Queen lie down. Being in with Rabbit, I don’t think she could get up fast enough and get away but with Thor and Babe, she’s perfectly content to curl up on some loose hay and snooze (and steal their food without them even knowing). It’s still not a completely ideal situation but it’s better than before. I think Queen may very well miss Flower but has relaxed enough that she doesn’t mind. Or it could be that she prefers the other hay instead of the big rounds. I’m betting that’s more the case than anything. That girl loves to eat. I swear she follows me with her eyes when I throw hay for the big herd.

Last night Queen put Thor in his place. Poor Thor was just trying to smell out his food and Queen interfered. Queen let out a squeal and a half-hearted little hop. Thor simply backed up. He’s still not comfortable being blind and not being the one to protect. But he fell in love with Queen last year when I put him in with Babe and Queen after Joe’s passing. I’m still on watch though to make sure that Thor is adjusting to a new member in his little herd. I’m not sure he really wants to share his round bale. Every time he’s at the round bale, Queen is standing off to one side. When Queen is eating at the round bale, Thor is standing at a different corner of the pen. I don’t think he’s hungry but I’m sure he’s missing Sahara. Poor guy has lost so many. I wish I could explain to him what’s going on.

Flower does not like this set up. I’ve found her close to the fence next to the main herd. Where she stands, she can keep an eye on Queen. I know she misses Queen but she was getting a bad attitude (thanks to Rabbit). Apparently Rabbit is a bad influence on these mares. Unfortunately, Mayhem has taken to hanging out with Rabbit. I don’t think it’s the mother/daughter bond. I think it’s because Rabbit gets her away and is boss mare. Mayhem thrives on leadership. As long as Mayhem doesn’t pick up those bad boss mare habits, I guess I’ll let them stay together. But if I see some bad habits forming in Mayhem, I’ll have to pull one or the other for a little while. Next year’s summer pasture setup is going to be interesting too. Not exactly sure how we’ll deal with everyone but I’m sure we’ll come up with something.

The weatherman is talking rain or flurries for late today and tonight. I need to remember to grab Queen’s blanket for tonight’s feeding. She still gives me the stink eye whenever I get near with a blanket or a sheet. But I have learned, that she’ll just deal with it. If I tell her she can’t bite me and I stop for just a second adjusting and buckling her blanket, she’ll just give me a stink eye. If I keep at it, she’ll bite me. Thank goodness for big heavy winter coats. I’d love to buy her some Whinny Warmers but they are $50 for four. They are like tube socks that keep the horse’s legs warm. Queen has arthritis and I think it would be a fantastic idea but I don’t think she’d let me mess with her legs. I’m not sure if the other two older mares would benefit from them either. I’m sure they’d just knock my head off. I guess it’s a good thought. But wouldn’t Queen look cute in her blanket and some leggings? Just picturing it makes me smile. I can just see the look on her face. I’m sure I’d be able to put those Whinny Warmers on her front legs once and then she’d start biting me harder than when I put on her blanket. I’ve left Babe’s light weight blanket on because that pen gets a bit more breeze and is less protected from the winter chill. She doesn’t seem to care one way or the other. I’m sure blanketing is more for me than anyone else (except Queen).

I’m still wondering what this winter will bring. Today is the shortest day of the year. I’m glad that we’ll soon be getting longer days so I might actually get something accomplished outside. When it’s dark by 5pm, it’s really hard to get motivated to do anything but basic chores. Lately I’ve been sound asleep by 8pm. Guess I’m playing catch up from this summer when we wouldn’t even come in the house until after 10pm. But I am looking forward to longer days. I’d like to see the herd in the daylight more than just on the weekends.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It Takes a Village

The below is a link to an amazing story. The author is so right when she says "it takes a village". I couldn't manage the sanctuary without everyone's moral support. I hope that 2012 will allow me to bring in more horses to provide them with a forever home that they so deserve. With talks of slaughter plants opening up in the US, we depserately need support in ensuring these warriors land in soft places for the rest of their lives. Everyone deserves a retirement.

Distrubing Rumor

I heard a disturbing rumor this morning. Through the grapevine there is gossip that a slaughter plant is planned for this area. If not this area, one of the surrounding towns. I have no proof. I have no hard facts or evidence. It's only speculation and gossip through the grapevine.

But I would rather have these facts out in the open for people to listen for instead of being blind sided. I am out of the loop when it comes to the horse industry. So I have no evidence if this rumor is in the works or not. But I wanted to share. Yes, call me a gossipwhore if you must but we need to keep our eyes and ears open to keep such a monstrosity at bay.

If anyone hears anything, please post a comment so that we can all be properly informed and knowledgeable.

Monday, December 19, 2011


With Sahara’s absence, Thor became upset. I had hoped that he would settle down quickly but he knew he was missing a horse. I decided it might be wise to try putting Queen in with Babe and Thor. I don’t like the location as it isn’t quite as protected but Queen wouldn’t get pushed around like she has been for the past few months. I’m not convinced I’ll keep this arrangement because Queen still has to be stalled at night when the temps drop. She’s just too old to withstand super cold temperatures even when she has shelter to go in to and a snug blanket.

Queen seemed pretty content after I gave her some alfalfa and grain. All three seemed to settle down. In fact, Babe seemed the calmest out of the three. Queen watched over the fence to spot Flower and Flower continued to whinny but she eventually settled down when I threw her a flake of alfalfa. She’s been attached to Queen since the day we brought her home. I kept a close eye on Flower at first to make sure she didn’t try and take down the fence. She seemed to settle down last night and all was quiet this morning. But we’ll see where everyone is standing this afternoon before I make my final decision on who goes where.

Queen wasn’t at the round bale this morning so I’m not sure that I’m convinced she’ll stay. But for now she’ll stay with Babe and Thor and have 24x7 access to hay and a lot less pushing. If she seems depressed, I’ll put Queen back and she’ll just have to deal with being pushed around. After the snow flies, I may simply put her back anyway. I know Queen doesn’t like change (neither do I). But she’s been getting pushed around for a month or more and that irritates the holy heck out of me. You respect your elders. I know that isn’t the case in the horse world but I’m the boss mare and it’s my rules.

Babe’s mood definitely improved after Prince went to Gentle Spirits. She’s much calmer. I hadn’t realized how upset she’d gotten but she’s definitely back to the Babe I remembered. Poor girl. I feel bad for not having noticed it sooner and making her put up with a naughty paint for so long. I’m hoping that with Queen back with Babe, those two will bond again. Queen was always in charge of Babe so hopefully Queen will feel up to being “boss mare” again, although I don’t think Babe cares because there’s food right in front of her nose all the time.

We did get a few things accomplished yesterday when Mom, Dad, and Grandma came down. We finally finished tarping all the hay and got the remaining loose hay from a round bale scooped up and tossed over to the horses. Now the aisle is clean again and we can get the truck or tractor in to the drylot if necessary after the snow flies.

We’ve missed out on any snow so far. I expect we’ll have a brown Christmas. It won’t be the first or the last brown Christmas. I do hope for some snow so that the pasture is covered and protected from the horses and so that the horses stop picking up cockleburs. Teach me not to get out there sooner and spray those damn plants when I had the chance. Now I’ll be dealing with cockleburs all winter. And I’m not talking one or two cockleburs at a time. I’m talking 50 to 100 at a time. Not as easy to pull out when it’s cold, dark, or I’m in a rush to get somewhere with a horse. I’ve relegated myself to being the scuzzy rider who shows up with burs everywhere. Yup, I’m “that” person.

I’ll keep you all posted on Queen’s progress. Not sure if she’s checked out her new shelter or not. I know Babe has a couple of times. I had to go in search of Babe the other day (yes, I lost a blind mare in a small pen). I think she almost prefers the shelter. If Babe could just figure out how to get the round bale in to the shelter, I think she’d be in heaven.


I couldn't bring myself to make the appointment for this week. Seemed too cruel to put Sam down two days before Christmas, especially with all the losses we've been experiencing lately. I made the appointment for next Friday at 9am. So I'll have two weeks to enjoy Sam's company. I know I'm putting off the inevitable. I'm being selfish. If the weather turns bad before next Friday, I'll reschedule for sooner.

But it gives me an extra week to recover from the other losses and prepare my heart for another loss. I am hoping that 2012 will bring no more losses and only heartfelt joy.


I made the unpopular decision. I’ve discussed the topic with others and we were all in agreement. I’ve done the best I can and it wasn’t good enough. We chose to put Sahara down this weekend. I know it’s an unpopular decision by many. I’ve had many people tell me “be the dominant mare”, “Show her who’s boss”, etc. Each time those people said such things, I offered Sahara to them and each individual declined the offer and quickly stopped talking about Sahara’s options. Who wants a dominant, crippled filly? I would have gladly handed her over to someone who had the knowledge and patience to train her. I do not.

I know some will be angry that we didn’t try to do more with her. We could/should have taken her to the vet to have her legs looked at. It would have required extensive surgery costing a large amount of money that I don’t have. Remember, I pay for the entire sanctuary out of my pocket and I don’t have a high paying job. I’m just a peon trying to cover the cost of the mortgage along with feeding for the horses. The money is not endless. I have to take into consideration the other 19 horses standing in the pens/pastures.

I could have sent her to a trainer, but to do what? She couldn’t have been a riding horse. She should never be bred. Who wants a dominant pasture pet that you have to work with every day for the next 25 years, if her legs held out that long.

I had to make the decision of what was best for Sahara and for the rest of the horses. I completely understand those that disagree with my decision and would rather not follow what we do at Borderlands any more. But remember one thing, I offered her to you and you declined for your own personal reasons.

I am sad. I am upset. I am angry, angry at the world, angry at the previous owner, angry at being the one that has to do what someone else couldn’t do, angry at being the only one willing to step up and do the right thing. I knew when we took her, that her life would be short. But I wanted to ensure that she would know kindness for the brief time she was at Borderlands.

Had she not been as dominant, we would have worked through the issues. But I can’t risk getting hurt. I can’t risk anyone getting hurt. I have to think of the other horses and what Sahara was taking away. Her passing does not open up a spot for another. Not yet anyway.

My heart is very sore. In a two week span, I will have lost two uncles and two horses. It is simply more than I can bear. This is the time to be thankful and filled full of good tidings and cheer. All I can do right now is muster through the impending dread that is hanging over me. Losing someone is tough, even when you know it’s going to happen. Losing someone when you are the one that has to make that call is heart breaking. I am emotionally drained to the point of exhaustion. I would very much like to curl up into a ball for the entire week and just ignore all that is happening around me. But that is unfair to those around me so I’ll muster on. I’ll apologize now for not being as chipper as I would like to be, especially this time of year. All I ask is that you don’t take anything or anyone for granted. Perhaps that is the meaning I am to focus on this Christmas season. Rejoice in the love of my family and friends and act as though each day is the last so enjoy the heck out of it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Sam gave me the sign I've been looking for. It's not the sign I was hoping for but I have to listen to what he's telling me. I had hoped to wait on calling the vet to make that awful appointment. But tonight Sam told me he's ready.

I'd given Sam his nightly beet pulp (slightly frozen because I didn't bring it in overnight) and he didn't polish it off like he normally does. Not sure if it was because it was cold or because he's simply giving me that sign.

After rejecting most of his beet pulp with ulcer powder, I let Sam out of the barn. He promptly went out passed the horses and laid down. He rolled a little (I'm guessing to relieve the ulcer pains) and decided to lay prostrate on the ground. When I approached he curled up into as small of a ball as a draft horse can. He actually looked small that way.

I sat with him for a little bit, talking about nothing. He decided he wanted up so I moved out of the way. But when he went to rise, he couldn't get his back end under him. He was on a hill so I assume the incline was a large part of the problem. But it took him three times to stand. We have no snow. The minute there is snow, he'll not be able to rise on his own.

I will call the vet Monday morning to see when we can make it in. It's not a phone call I want to make, especially after just recently losing so many other family members. I knew it was coming but had hoped that Sam would be able to enjoy a little bit longer. I need to let him go but with all the losses we've had at Borderlands lately, one more blow is just that much more devastating.

This next week is going to be a solemn week at Borderlands. I will enjoy the few remaining days with Sam and then give him the dignified end that he deserves (as do they all deserve). He will be surrounded by loved ones and will be greatly missed. If I don't post much in the next week, it's simply me trying to spend as much time as possible with Sam before I say goodbye.

As the hustle and bustle continues for this Christmas, remember the true meaning of Christmas and keep close those that you hold dear. Tell and show them that you love them. Time is precious.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Other Shoe

No one ever described the shoe to the saying "Waiting for the other shoe to drop."

Perhaps it depends on the person and/or the situation. For me, its' a six inch stiletto steel toed shoe. Yup, you read it right. It seems the other shoe has either dropped or has at least toppled over.

It's the middle of December and we are experiencing rain (not snow). I'm not complaining but I'm worried about what will happen when the temps finally drop back to normal. As it stands right now, Babe and Queen are snug in their blankets to ward off the chill of the fog and drizzle we've been experiencing for the past two days. We are to get more of this weather for the next few days. At some point, I expect the freezing rain/drizzle will turn to snow. Until then, I guess I'll be satisfied we are getting some moisture.

I was informed last night of another death in the family (two-legged). I need to be with family during this difficult time to support them as they have supported me through tough times. I will return in a few days to share life at the sanctuary. If you need anything, just leave a comment or post something on our Facebook page. Go tell your loved ones you love them and give your animals a great big hug. See you all in a few days.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Old Ones

This was taken from Beauty's Haven discussion board on the Alex Brown Racing (ABR) Forum under Horse Rescue. I couldn't have put into words what they wrote. It also just happens to explain my love for the old ones at Borderlands. Beauty's Haven may not be near Borderlands but they do amazing work. I'll apologize up front for "borrowing" the text from the discussion but I simply couldn't have said it more eloquently.

The Old One
The young couple had made their usual hurried, pre-Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt the elderly parents with their small herd of horses. The farm had been named “Lone Pine Farm” because of the huge pine which topped the hill behind the farm, and through the years had become a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the countryside. The old folks no longer showed their horses, for the years had taken their toll, but they sold a few foals each year, and the horses were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day's end.

Crossly, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old folks. "Why do you not at least dispose of the “Old One." She is no longer of use to you. It's been years since you've had foals from her. You should cut corners and save where you can. Why do you keep her anyway?" The old man looked down as his worn boot, scuffed at the barn floor, and his arm stole defensively about the Old One's neck as he drew her to him and rubbed her gently behind the ears. He replied softly, "We keep her because of love - only because of love."

Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the valley. So it was, that because of the leave-taking, no one noticed the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None saw the first spark fall. None but the "Old One".

In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames were licking at the loft full of hay. With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved horses. But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back. He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire's fury.

By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were left, and the old man and his wife. They thanked those who had come to their aid, and the old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulders as he clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandanna. Brokenly he whispered, "We have lost much but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas. Let us, therefore, climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared."

And so, he took her by the hand and helped her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his hand. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they looked up and gasped in amazement at the incredible beauty before them. Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and it was aglow with heavenly candles. And poised on its top most bough, a crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass. Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this.

Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy as he pulled his wife forward. There, beneath the tree, was their Christmas gift. Bedded down about the "Old One" close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe.

At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the horses through it. Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping daintily through the snow. The foals were frightened and dashed about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips and hopped like rabbits. The mares pressed uneasily against the "Old One" as she moved calmly up the hill and to safety beneath the pine. And now, she lay among them and gazed at the faces of those she loved. Her body was brittle with years, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift -- because of love -- only because of love.

Author – Reverend David L. Griffith

(from Beauty's Haven...said more eloquently than I ever could)
We are very blessed with many “Old Ones” that have been, are, and will be. I’m asked often why we take in an old one that will only be a pasture pal and live out its days here, and the answer is always the same – because of love. You see, the “Old Ones” not only help to guide, teach, and take care of the other horses – they teach we human caregivers too. They give us strength and encouragement. They appreciate and simply understand. And during the time they are with us - no matter if it is a day, months, or years - they know they are loved, and when it is time, they will cross Rainbow Bridge with their dignity restored. Too many times, as their walk up to Frosty’s Knoll begins, I’ve seen the horse stop and look at me, then hold its head high as though reflecting for a period of time, and then we walk on - and I feel so engulfed by love, gratitude, and sadness. The horse actually gives me the strength to walk on beside them - they reassure me that it is time and meant to be and I find comfort in that. God bless them all - they will live forever in our hearts. I truly thank each and every one of you for helping us to help the horses – be it by prayers, donations, networking, words of encouragement, etc. Our devotion to helping horses is strong and without you, we couldn’t do what we do. Many thanks to all of you. We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a blessed holiday season!

Heartfelt Sympathies

As a sanctuary, we daily deal with the thought of death. It’s not an easy topic to discuss. It’s not an easy topic to watch first hand. The alternative however, is much worse. I can’t explain the pull/drive to run a sanctuary rather than a rescue. Watching someone grow old is hard. Making that final decision is excruciatingly painful. It doesn’t get easier with every passing. Every passing takes a little piece of my heart. But I would rather have my heart scattered to the winds than to have a whole heart without loving anyone.

I sometimes wonder if I simply have a hardened heart because of all the losses we have dealt with over the years. I don’t think so. It’s hard to say goodbye and let go. I guess that’s why I haven’t let Sam go just yet.

But I can only handle so much death in one year. I’ve lost two two-legged family members this year and a four-legged (horse) family member (with two more that will pass soon) and three four-legged (dog) family members. I may not have been close to each and every one, but their passing leaves a mark on my heart. I will never grow numb to the passing of a loved one.

I’m not sure what’s harder. Dealing with death or watching someone else go through the same process. Last night we lost a family pet (one of the three dogs mentioned above). It wasn’t unexpected and we were all prepared. However, it’s never easy.

But I’m also in a little bit of shock. Last night I also found out that a classmate from high school passed away this weekend. I don’t know the details, nor do I think I want to know. The idea that a young person should pass over without experiencing a long life is hard to swallow. How could someone the same age as myself pass away? He was so young. It doesn’t seem fair.

Shocks and loss like last night help put my life back into perspective. Life is fragile and rote with peril but it is also filled with love, family, and friends. I am blessed to have all three in my life. My way of returning my gratitude is running the sanctuary. I know I sometimes get bitter but under the disappointments and hurt, there is always the realization that life should be cherished, the bad with the good. This Christmas I will count my blessings and be thankful for all the wonderful people and animals in my life. My heartfelt sympathies go out to the family of my classmate.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Jim - the dog

Look close at the picture and tell me what's wrong?!?

I have no idea why Jim was carrying around a stick. Of all the horses to do something corny like that, I would have figured it to be Maverick. Apparently Maverick's bad habits are rubbing off on Jim. Jim walked around with that stick for a good five minutes. He was even poking Maverick with the stick.

I can just see Maverick's and Jim's conversation about the stick:

Maverick: "Jim my best friend, pick up that stick and walk to the dry lot. You'll get the food people's attention."

Jim: "A stick? Carrying a stick is beneath me....but, if you say it'll bring us food I'll do it."

Maverick: "You might have to carrying it around for a little while to get their attention."

Jim: "Why don't you carry this stick?"

Maverick: "Because they expect me to do something like that. They won't expect you to do it and will pay attention to us this way."

Jim: "But I don't care if we get any attention from the food people. I just want food."

Maverick: "If you carry a stick, it'll give them something to talk about at the very least and will make them wonder."

Jim: "If you don't behave, I'll wack you one with this stick. Where's my treat?"

I'll never figure out what Jim was doing with that stick. I've never seen him carry anything around like that before. But it was worth watching. Those horses always bring joy to my heart.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Habitat for Horses Project

What an amazing day and what amazing volunteers. B and G arrived early this morning to help work on what they dubbed our project "Habitat for Horses". I wanted a shelter for the blind pen and bought a Garage in a Box. Pretty handy but worthless instructions!

I cannot express my gratitude enough for B and G's hard work. Those two ladies are some hard working volunteers. I can honestly say I haven't met many people who work as hard as those two ladies. Simply blows my mind.

I was standing around "supervising" during a part of the construction because I couldn't get over the generosity and hard work I was blessed with today. Once we had the tarp on, Babe was in the new shelter "supervising". I think she was as excited about the new shelter as I was. She stopped in to "see" what we were doing twice.

Words escape me on the generosity bestowed on us. B and G worked in the constantly dropping temperatures and increasing wind throughout the entire day without a single complaint. I don't know of too many people who would do such a thing AND work so hard with a smile. I cannot thank you, B and G, for all your hard work. Babe, Thor, and Sahara thank you too.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bo the Clown

I’ve taken to feeding Sam his nightly beet pulp right after I get home from work. That little bit of extra time gives him just enough time to have almost his entire dish polished off after I come back out to start graining the other hard keepers and getting the nightly hay ready. I hate rushing Sam as his beet pulp is the main supplement and the hay isn’t really helping any more. I’ve come to the conclusion that I just can’t say goodbye yet. I’ll wait until the new year before I make the decision, but for now Sam will remain with us as long as his ulcers are held off with the use of the ulcer powder. The power is working but it’s not as good as the paste from the vet.

Sometimes, as the case was the other day, I try to get some of the others in to the barn for their nightly grain right after I get home from work (before I even go in the house to let the little monster dog out). I decided I’d get Jim and Bo started on their nightly grain the other night and then head in to change clothes and find my coveralls.

When I returned to the barn, bundled for the cold weather, Bo was happily enjoying himself. He’d managed to confiscate an empty grain bag. He has the horrible habit of grabbing a bite of grain and then hanging his head over the stall wall, wherein he loses some of his grain (he had his teeth floated this summer…he’s just a messy eater). Apparently the bag he confiscated had some of that allusive grain.

As I stood there watching him, he licked the bag clean and then proceeded to pick up the bag and swing it all around his stall to see if he could get any grain out of it. Once he was done flinging the bag around, he continued with the licking to see if there was anything extra. Bo had me in stitches. I didn’t want to make my presence known because then he’d stop. But it was so hard to not fall over with laughter. Bo is such a ham.

It’s hard to believe where Bo might have ended had Borderlands not been there to pull him that fateful March day. Bo is such a sensitive horse; I can’t imagine the emotions he was feeling before, during, and after the auction. I don’t know if Bo is just a “happy-go-lucky” type of horse or if he knows that he’s now in a safe place. I feel a little closer to him than to others and I’m not sure if it’s because Bo has that experience of going through an auction and knowing that we were there to help or if he’s just that happy of a horse. I’ll never really know. I have discovered that older horses pulled from auctions have a better appreciation for what we do. Maybe I’ve just been lucky with the few we’ve pulled, but it seems like each of those particular horses show a bit of gratitude. Maybe I’m just crazy for thinking such a thing. All I know is that I am so very grateful to have Bo in our lives and I will enjoy every minute that I am allowed the opportunity to share in his life. I have decided it is my mission to spread the word of Bo’s story so that other horses don’t have to go through the same horrors that he went through.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bo and Cockleburs

I almost didn't post the below picture. Every horse in the big herd is covered in cockleburs. Until we get a layer of snow, I'll be pulling those prickly burs out of their manes and tails. It's gotten so bad that the darn cockleburs now stick to their winter coat.

I decided Bo was just too darn cute not to share, cockleburs or not.

Bo was watching Flower and Mayhem nap the other day. I'm not sure if he wanted in on the napping action or if he wanted to spoil their nap. Either way, he "supervised" instead. He's such an amazing horse. I'll never get over the fact that he came very close to being served on a dinner plate instead of standing out in our pasture/pen.

We are truly blessed to have Bo in our lives. He's been with us for nine months and life wouldn't be the same without him. He holds a very special place in my heart.

December Memories

When I stepped out of the house this morning, we had flurries. Finally, just a little bit of snow to add to my holiday cheer. After spending two days inundated with Christmas, the little snowflakes made me smile. Of course, it helped that we put up Christmas lights on the barn so I could enjoy lights while doing chores in the evening and the morning. Just two strands of icicle lights really light up the area.

I also realized this morning that two years ago today, we brought Jim home. Oh how I remember that adventure. I’d been in contact with Jim’s owner for a few months trying to coordinate a time. It was down to the last minute in deciding if we would take him or not. The owner said they were taking him to auction if we weren’t picking him up. That summed it up. On a cold Saturday, I attended the Sioux Falls Regional Livestock horse sale to see what prices were like. I had to sit on my hands knowing we would go Sunday December 5th to pick up Jim. I had been tempted to go to the auction that Jim’s owner was attending. I had thought of holding out on buying Jim and waiting to snatch him at the auction for much cheaper but I didn’t want to take the risk of going against a killbuyer and losing.

It was cold that Sunday December 5th. I was worried that Jim would get chilled so I brought along a blanket. Jim stood for the blanket while I froze my hands fumbling with the buckles. Jim loaded like a champ too.

We had talked with the owner and found that they were disappointed in the amount of money they got for their horses. I knew that Jim would have gone for that same cheap amount. We are in Quarter Horse country. Not many people are interested in a 21 year old Tennessee Walker. I’m glad that we now have Jim standing in our place. I can’t imagine what he would have had to go through. I expect he would have ended up on a dinner plate overseas somewhere had we not brought Jim home.

That night we unloaded Jim and put him in a stall so he could warm up and get used to us. The next day we moved him to a covered pen and pulled the horse trailer over to block any extra wind. That day (Monday) was the start of a terrible snow storm. It’s hard to believe that two years ago today we brought Jim home and began dealing with the worst snow storm in over 10 years.

It’s amazing how fast time flies. I can’t imagine this place without Jim and yet it’s only been two years. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we have an open winter that’s not too cold. I could handle a little bit of snow to cover the pasture and temps in the teens and twenties. But I’ll be pleased to hold off on the snow for another week or so.

Merry Christmas Jim. Glad you are home to stay.

Additional Research

Others are starting to speak out also about bringing back horse slaughter to the US. The following is a good blog with additional footage/research for those unaware of what goes one.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Nap Time

Found the camera and we actually had a little bit of sun today. Flower and Mayhem were both snoozing out in the pasture/pen. Thought I would snap a few pictures of them quick.

Farley wanted in on the pictures too. He's our loveable oaf of a big black lab. He prefers to be a lap dog.

Mayhem had been all stretched out snoozing but she decided to get up about the time I found the camera and came back out. Luckily for me, Flower decided to continue snoozing.

I'm so happy that Flower is back to the right weight. I was really worried when we first brought her home that she wouldn't pack on the pounds. She proved me wrong. She's getting a little cantankerous now as the weather gets colder.

Please excuse the poo. Why she decided to lay down RIGHT there I have no idea.

Rabbit is looking fat as ever. IT's amazing what a year can do. She's now on an antihistamine because her heaves are terrible now. Poor girl. I can't imagine how she ever managed to carry a baby with her heaves.

I don't think Flower even realized I was in taking pictures.

Mayhem is growing so fast. Hard to believe that she's gotten so big so fast. She's almost the same size as Queen. Mayhem and Rabbit stay closer together (although not herd bound) and I sometimes have to look twice to figure out who is who.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Alternative to Horse Slaughter

Check out Kathi of Gentle Spirits. Prince is a star now!

Now is the time we really need to push to help the horses more.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Risking Life and Limb

I don’t want to do it but I don’t think I have a choice. I think I’m going to have to risk life and limb. I’m going to have to start blanketing Queen. I’m going to end up making that girl pretty cranky with the constant blanketing. She has a nice winter coat but today’s wind was the deciding factor.

I need to do some rearranging this weekend and get Rabbit out of the pen/pasture that Queen is in. It’s a really protected pen and close to the barn for when I need to pull Queen during subzero temps. Rabbit is just too hard on Queen and I’m seeing a very visible behavior change in Queen. I hope once Rabbit is in a different pen that Queen will go back to her cranky self. Even Flower seems to be picking on Queen and I won’t tolerate that type of behavior. I was taught to respect your elders, and I expect the herd to do the same thing with the horses. Too bad no one taught them that lesson.

The hard part will be deciding what blanket to put on Queen. I need to go through my limited supply of blankets and see what would best work for her. Last year I had a Jeffers blanket. It had big leg straps and buckles so I could work fast to avoid getting bitten. It also only had one belly band (it’s not like Queen will go down and roll around a lot, like the youngsters). But it’s super soft and can tear easy. With it being soft, it probably doesn’t cut the wind like I need and want her blanket to do. I also need to figure out what size she really needs to be in. I’ve had her in a 78 and that’s just a couple inches too big. I know I have a 75 but I was using that on Zeke, who I’ll need to blanket when I haul him this winter.

I may have to break down and buy her a brand new blanket if I can’t find one that will work for her all winter. I may have to buy a brand new blanket for Bo too. He needs a hefty duty blanket. I expect he’ll be in a blanket for a good portion of the winter. He’s a hard maintainer. Queen isn’t but she can’t afford to get wet.

I was on a discussion board and there’s a company that sells Whinny Warmers. They are leggings for your horse. If I thought Queen would let me mess with her legs, I would look into it. Unfortunately, I think she’d rather knock my head off instead. But it’s a way to keep their legs warm (sort of a modified version of leg warmers). I may look into buying a set for Babe or Flower. The only problem is that they are rather spendy and you should really have two pairs. One to wear and one to wash when they get dirty or wet. It might not be as suitable for our area as I think. But I may look at doing something with Queen’s legs so her arthritis isn’t so bad. I guess I need to put her on joint supplement too. She’s gotten really stiff but that could be from being chased by Rabbit (darn mares!)

I guess I’ll just see how everything works out this weekend. Hopefully I’ll have time to figure everything out on Sunday. I’ll have to try a couple blankets Friday night as the weatherman is predicting snow Saturday and I don’t want Queen to get wet. She doesn’t have the ability to warm up and dry off once she gets wet.