Monday, April 30, 2012

Queen Coliced

Queen scared me last night. I'd spent most of the day inside relaxing after all the hubub of the day before (Handi-Rider/Horse Power Horse Show and Cowboy Way Drill Team performance). When I went to do chores last night, Queen was curled up by the hay feeder snoozing. I didn't really think much of it. She tends to be curled up snoozing a bit more after spending a month with Flower earlier this year.

When I walked past her pen again, Queen was up. Didn't really think much of it other than to note it in my head that she had been down. I brought Queen her grain and fed the two blind horses and continued on my way to do other chores. I also pulled her canvas sheet. The only time I can put a blanket on or pull a blanket off is when she's side tracked with grain. She did give me the evil eye as I was pulling the sheet off though.

When I walked passed the pen again, Queen was down. Warning sirens went off. She never lays down after eating her grain. Because the other two eat right along side her, I had no idea if she'd eaten any of her grain or if Thor had stolen all of it.

I finished up all my other chores (luckily I was pretty much done) and ran to the house for banamine. After giving her a dose of banamine, I pulled her out of the pen and started walking. Let me tell you, Queen is an old girl who's been around the block. She doesn't like to walk much as it is with her arthritis and if she says she's not walking, there is no amount of coaxing, pulling, pushing, or yelling that will get her to move. We walked from the pen, past the house, down the drive way and turned around. When we got just past the barn, Queen decided she'd had enough walking. I knew she needed to keep moving but there was nothing I could do to get her to budge.

She looked at the grass but decided that didn't even look good to her. So we stood there, both not feeling well. Me trying to figure out what to do for Queen, and Queen trying to figure out what to do to make herself feel better. She's felt ishy before and I think she knows how to take care of herself. We didn't really move much for about five to ten minutes and then Mike appeared.

He tried to get her to move too and I guess by that time she was willing to take a few steps. But after only a few feet, she decided enough was enough and laid down. I went in search of a blanket while Mike stayed with her. She didn't roll, but simply curled up. I debated on whether it was possibly ulcers instead of colic but she'd not shown any signs of ulcers in the past and this was the same routine she'd done the last time she coliced on us. I threw the blanket over her to keep the chill of, although laying on wet ground didn't really help keep the chill off (but that's just my thinking). After a little coaxing, Queen heaved herself up, I secured the blanket, and Mike started walking her. After the first pass, I could already tell that Queen was feeling better. Mike and I both figure the banamine must have kicked in. He walked her down the driveway and back, and you could tell that she felt much better. By the time they reached me, she was fighting the lead rope trying to get to the grass.

When we were standing there evaluating Queen earlier in the grass, she wouldn't have anything to do with it. Seeing that she wanted grass (and knowing better than to give her any), we at least knew she felt better. I'm sure Queen has coliced before and worked through it. I think it's gas colic but I could simply be spouting out uneducated info here. She had gut sounds so I didn't think calling the vet would do any good. The last time she coliced, 30 minutes after administering banamine, she was up walking around and feeling much better. So we both figured we'd give her banamine, walk her, and then decide if we'd call the vet.

Luckily Queen is doing much better. Mike checked her last night before I went to bed and she was standing around snoozing. This morning when I went out to do chores, she was snoozing until she saw me and then walked over to see if I had anything. She's such a love. Let me give her a kiss on the nose and chat with her for alittle bit to brighten my day. I watched her to see if there were any signs of discomfort, which there weren't any. I got the impression that she wanted out on grass. I gave her a blade of grass, a kiss on the nose, and headed on with other chores. But she's a hawk when it comes to watching me. Any time I come around that pen she keeps her eyes and ears on me. I know she wants out of that pen and onto grass. But we'll have to work our way slowly back to grass after this last colic. She's the only one who's been on grass so far this year. The last few days have been so crazy that I haven't had a chance to pull her and let her enjoy the grass.

Who knows why Queen coliced. Nothing had changed in her environment in over a week. Luckily it was a mild colic and there were no lasting effects. I worry so much when someone doesnt' feel 100%. I can muddle through not feeling well, but I hate it when one of the "kids" doesn't feel good. At least the stress level is a little bit lower this morning. I'm going to keep a close eye on her throughout the day just in case there's any relapse, but I doubt there will be any.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Amazing Savanna Update

I was happily surprised to see a picture of Savanna tonight. Gentle Spirits really has a knack for bringing horses along with their education.

This past Tuesday was a year ago that we pulled Savanna from a horse auction, starved, with a yearling filly by her side, and pregnant. Next month will mark her 2011 colt's, Jett (aka Prize) birthday. 

I am blown away by the progress that Savanna has gone through. She looks amazing. There's been a lot of hard work in getting her to where she is right now. She's been given food, love, shelter, and now education.

I was so excited to see that tonight, Gentle Spirit's volunteer not only saddled Savanna but backed her for the first time. She is going to make someone a very amazing horse. You can really see the change in her eyes. There used to be a look of weariness and resignation. Now there is a look of curiosity. Seeing these types of pictures really lifts my spirits and gives me hope that there is good in the world.

Weather and Prep Work

We’ve had gorgeous weather the last few days. I get a little spoiled doing chores in 80 degree weather. And to think, it’s only the end of April. In years past, I would still be in my coveralls and here I am wandering around in shorts.

Unfortunately, the nice weather only lasts a few days around these parts. A cold front is already moving in this morning. I haven’t paid close attention to the weather but I’ll have to tonight to make sure I know when to put a sheet on Queen. She’s the only one I worry about getting wet. She doesn’t have the ability to warm up and dry off. I need to go in search of Rabbit’s sheet she managed to take off. I keep forgetting to go look for it in her pasture. Apparently she’s not the type of girl who requires a massive wardrobe.

I had thought about pulling Maverick out and working him last night but I opted to work on the pasture instead. I know it’s only the end of April but the grass isn’t coming back as quickly or as thickly as I’d like. So Mike and I headed out to the pasture to do a little bit of fertilizing. I don’t think we can afford to have someone come in every year and fertilize it so we are trying to come up with a solution that is in our price range. I think we may have come up with something but it’ll take a little bit of fabricating to get it to work. I’ll leave that part of the problem for Mike to solve. I cause the problems, and he fixes them! Works for me anyway! I’ve been meaning to spread even just one little bag of fertilize on a small portion of the pasture for a couple of weeks now. I don’t know how much good it’ll actually do but I’m willing to try just about anything these days.

I need to spend tomorrow afternoon/evening getting Zeke and the trailer ready for this weekend’s Handi-Rider/Horse Power Horse Show. The drill team is performing and I think I’ll try my hand at a couple of classes. All proceeds go to Horse Power so no qualms at helping out such a good organization. Unfortunately, the weather is supposed to be nasty but at least we’ll be inside so it won’t be a bother. I’d rather have nasty weather outside so I don’t feel guilty about staying inside for an entire day. We are supposed to have a trail ride on Sunday but we’ll see what the weather is like and if I can handle a second day on horseback.

Knock on wood, it’s been pretty quiet at Borderlands. I’m sure I’ll jinx myself for saying that. It’s nice having some quiet downtime after so much hubbub last year. I think this is a year to recoup and re-center my focus and spirit so that we can go in with guns blazing next year. Rescue/sanctuary work is mentally and emotionally exhausting and it’s not an easy job (although I’m sure it looks like it from the outside looking in).

I’m about ready to pull Jim off my watch list. Once he’s on pasture, I’ll definitely pull him off my watch list. The beet pulp has helped put the weight back on and I think the pasture will top him out and he’ll be plump again. I put Zeke on the watch list only because he burns through so many calories during drill team practice and performances. He’s pretty much had an entire month off and will have had only one ride since the Horse Fair. His past is going to catch up to him faster than others. How anyone could have starved him, I’ll never know. All I can say is that I’m glad I wasn’t witness to his starving. Makes me angry just thinking about it.

Bo is still on my watch list and probably always will. Queen is also on the watch list permanently. She’s going downhill a little bit but I think once she’s out on pasture, she’ll perk right up. She was made at me last night that I didn’t let her out on the grass while we were in the pasture. Thor is also on the watch list but what I’m seeing now is simply what he’ll look like from now on. Age is starting to catch up with him. I am pulling Babe from the watch list. She is fat and sassy. Of course, she keeps her head buried in the round bale 24x7 these days so it’s hard to justify keeping her on any watch list.

Mike went out last night and groomed down a majority of the horses. I’m sure some of the horses were in heaven getting groomed. The winter coats are flying these days. Even Rain, who never had a decent winter coat, is shedding out what little he has left.

Unfortunately, Skippy is NOT shedding out. He’s still a walking furball. I asked the vet a couple years ago if there was something wrong with Skippy. He said some horses just don’t shed out very well. I hope it doesn’t get too hot too fast for him. But we may break down and shave him. Depending on if Babe sheds out more, we may have to clip her too. I haven’t had her tested but I have a feeling she has cushings. I need to do a bit of research on it to see what I can do to improve her condition, if anything. But I expect Mike and I will be practicing our shaving skills early summer on those two.

I’ve also started Skippy on his antihistamine medicine. It’s different than the antihistamine that Rabbit is on for her heaves. Skippy is on medicine to help with itching. Every year it seems to get worse. He’ll itch the hair right off his face, neck, and chest. No one else has the issue so it’s nothing contagious or dangerous to the herd. It’s just something Skippy has. I’ve already noticed that he’s rubbed the winter fur off his face. Hopefully the medicine will start working fast. Otherwise, I may go in search of a gigantic bottle of calamine lotion and see if that works. I’ve tried aloe vera but that doesn’t do anything. I’ve also tried nitrufurizone, which seems to help just a little bit. I want to nip it in the bud immediately so I’m willing to try anything.

I’m hoping the weatherman is wrong about the weather. I don’t mind a little bit of rain but I hope it’s a warm rain. There’s simply too much to get done before this weekend to have nasty weather.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jett Update

Last night Mike and I dropped in on Jett (formerly known as Sir Prize). Boy has he grown! He has definitely turned into one handsome little man! Hard to believe that a year ago today, we pulled his momma and sister (and him) from an unknown future.

Jett’s owners have done so much work with Jett. I am blown away by what a little gentleman he is. He’ll stand tied and loves to be groomed. He practically fell asleep during his grooming session. He still has the baby fuzz which makes him just so darn cute!

He looks almost identical to his mother, Savanna. The only difference I noticed is that Jett doesn’t have a touch of brown around his muzzle like Savanna. But everything else is the same. The beautiful black coat, the black tail, and a black mane with just a touch of red at the tips to break up the contrast.

I am so glad that we were there to start Jett out in life the right way. I am even gladder that his owners stepped up to take him and give him the education to make him a fantastic horse. I already see so much hard work put into him. There is no doubt that Jett is an amazing horse.

Jett will always be on the small side, but in looking at his mother, I don’t think he was given the “tall” gene. When he grows up, he’ll definitely be a “tall drink of water.” Thank you again S. for giving Jett a home and an education. I also want to thank Gentle Spirits again for taking Savanna and giving her a chance to find just the right person, and to continue with her education.

I really am blessed to have such good people in our lives (and in the horses’ lives). From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Playing Catchup

I’m not sure how the time got away from me this month. I’m barely keeping my head above water at my paying job. But that’s part of the working world right? Besides being swamped at the paying job, I’ve spent more quality time with the family.  My family has been there to support me physically, financially, and emotionally and now it’s my turn to return the favor. I was once told I didn’t have my priorities right and that I should be more focused on trail riding than rescue/sanctuary work, or even my family. All I can say is that I feel bad for those people who think that family shouldn’t be first and foremost.  And if that means I miss some event because I need to be with family, too bad. The door is always open to join our family in whatever activity; there’s always food on the table and a welcome smile.

There were three auctions this weekend I had contemplated attending. But I hadn’t hardened my heart against the loss I would feel at not being able to do anything. I refuse to be the type to put my head in the sand and ignore what’s going on. I don’t believe in the “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy but I am emotionally drained this month after a few non-horse related activities. There is only so much heartache a girl can take.  I am still considering going to the May 5th horse auction in honor of Savanna, Sahara, and Prize (aka Jett) but we’ll see how prepared I am.

It’s difficult to go to the auctions when I know I can’t do a damn thing. As it stands, I had to turn down two 25 year old geldings last week. I simply cannot bring any more in until after my health improves. It’s frustrating because those oldsters are the ones that need the retirement home and deserve the rest and I can’t even offer that to them right now. It’s heartbreaking and frustrating. If someone would be willing to sponsor either or both, we could have considered taking them in but as things stand now, we cannot take any more in. It’s frustrating to see the need and not be able to fill it. There’s a saying in a Pixar movie that I keep tucked away in my brain, “See a need, fill a need.” The frustrating part is seeing the need and not being able to fill the need.

On the happier side of sanctuary life, I did get a chance to take Jim out for a quick mile ride the other day. Unfortunately, that was about the extent of my riding ability for now, short little bursts are about all I can handle.

Last night I walked around the corner to see Jim poking Maverick in the shoulder with a stick. The minute Jim saw me, he dropped the stick and acted like he hadn’t been doing anything wrong. I can’t figure Jim out. He’s so aloof and wants to act rough and tough but really he is a prankster. It’s fun to watch him torment Maverick (because Maverick needs it)! Of the two, I would have sworn Maverick to be the prankster not Jim.

The night before, I watched Maverick cut Chaos. It wasn’t the cutting like I’ve seen in the past where Maverick keeps the other horse away from the herd. Maverick was literally spinning on his back end like a cutting horse to keep Chaos where he was at. Now if Maverick had gotten down low to cut Chaos, I would have fallen down in shock.  I think with the proper education, Maverick could really be an amazing cutting horse. I figured I’d end up turning him in to a team penning horse but after seeing his moves the other night, I think he has a knack for cutting. I need to do a little bit of asking around to see if someone would be willing to try him out on a cow. Maybe I see something different than what others see or would feel while riding. But I’m too curious not to try it out. Anyone a cutting horse expert that wants to try Maverick out on a cow?

I am still debating on taking Jim to the HorsePower/Handi-Riders Horse Show this weekend. They have a gaited class but having not ridden him that much and him being out of shape (and my health not being in tip top shape), I’m not sure it wise to show him this time around. Our drill team is riding during the break. I’m looking forward to it. It’s been awhile since being around all those wonderful ladies. So much horse wisdom and so much kindness. It just amazes me and lifts my spirits. It’ll be my highlight of the week.

Last night we pushed a round bale in to the blind pen and let Queen wander the yard. She hasn’t been out since last week. She and I had a disagreement on her manners so she had to stay in the blind pen all of last week.

Chaos and I also had a disagreement on his behavior last week too. He ended up going into the timeout/naughty pen last week. The grass is starting to shoot up but I won’t let them out on the pasture. The pasture isn’t coming back and the minute I let them out, I won’t be able to catch them. But Chaos doesn’t care about that and managed to push on the fence. Two weeks ago, he decided that he would join the blind pen and eat off the round bale (which upset both Babe and Thor). Chaos  managed to wiggle his way into the blind pen twice before I got smart  about the fencing. Then after realizing there was green grass, he managed to take down a portion of the fence (and jump the other portion) to get to a pasture that is off limits for this year. What’s worse is that he took King along with (thank goodness he didn’t take the entire herd). I went out to do chores in the morning thinking I could do chores quick and head in for some family quality time. Nope, I had to wrangle Chaos and King back into the drylot and do some fencing. Chaos went into the timeout pen after that for a few days. But when I let him back into the drylot, he once again got past my temporary fencing (but luckily didn’t jump the fence again). I know he’s just bored but it’s so frustrating to find horses where they shouldn’t be. Luckily he’s behaved the last few days. I really don’t want to find him standing in my front lawn (which is where Queen goes when she escapes).  Let me add one caveat. We don’t have loose horses all the time. We do live on an old farm that used to run cattle and for anyone that’s been around cattle, you know that you can’t have anything nice. Cattle destroy fencing and we are slowly but surely replacing all of the fence. But it takes time and money, of which we are limited on both.

I’ll be glad for summer when the herd can be out on the pasture. I’m hoping to start the big herd on grass soon. I typically fence off a portion of the lawn and put them out there for a few minutes every  night. It’s easier to handle them when they are on the lawn rather than the pasture. If they don’t want to be caught in the pasture, there’s no way I can catch them. That’s not the case when I have them out on the lawn. I know I sound all hick by saying they are on the lawn but that’s just what it is. Guess I’m a hick.

I am excited for tonight. I am swinging by to see Jett (aka Sir Prize). It’s hard to believe that he’ll be a year old next month (May 10th).  Of course, it’s hard to believe that tomorrow marks a year for Savanna. A year after escaping that hell she called life, she now has such a bright, bright future. She’s really come a long way. I have to thank S. for taking Jett and giving him the opportunity to grow. He is such an amazing little boy. Also, a huge thank you to Gentle Spirits for taking Savanna in to try and find her a permanent home that she so desperately deserves. That poor girl has seen more in her short six years than some horses see their entire lives. Just looking at the pictures of Savanna from this past weekend and the pictures of her the day after we pulled her from the auction shows the massive changes she’s gone through.  It goes to show what love and consistency can do. My hats off to Gentle Spirits and S. for all their hard work and dedication.  I am truly honored and humbled by all that you do.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Savanna - One Year Later

It's hard to believe that it'll be a year this Tuesday that we pulled Savanna, Sahara, and our little Sir Prize. Savanna has come a long way in a year. I have to give my huge compliments to Gentle Spirits for stepping up and giving Savanna the needed time and special handling to really shine. Savanna has really come along way in the past year. I'll leave you with pictures from this weekend of Savanna.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bo's First Ride

I realize these aren't the most flattering and my riding abilities aren't the greatest but I was so excited to share pictures of Bo I couldn't resist. Don't judge the riding, just enjoy Bo under saddle.

S came out to ride Bo first. She's such a brave gal. She was willing to risk a buck where I'm not due to my health. Bo saddled up just fine but he's a little hard to bridle but knowing a little about his past, it makes sense. We'll work on bridling and some day he'll come around. We've worked with other horses that had similar issues that in the end were resolved.

Riding Bo is almost like riding Zeke although taller and a little lankier. It was such a joy to hop on and ride Bo. I can't wait to really show him off. He has such a nice and relaxing walk and a super comfortable trot. S was even brave enough to put Bo into a lope and boy does he look pretty! I wasn't brave enough but that's typical for me. I'll stick to walk/trot for awhile but I'm sure we'll be racing around soon enough.

Mike was really impressed with Bo too! Bo has such long legs that he covers a lot of ground but really doesn't take huge strides. Trotting is the same way. Mike really liked how Bo looked at a trot and he covered so much ground at a collected trot. I'll be interested to see how much ground he can really cover at an extended trot. I may have to put Bo to the challenge and see how fast he can go at a trot compared to Zeke and/or Jim.

I had such a grumpy day Wednesday but after watching Bo behave so beautifully under saddle and then being able to hop on and ride made my day. In fact S and Bo made my week. I can't thank S enough for all her generosity and kindness. I am so blown away. I couldn't ask for a better friend. Thanks you S for all you've done. I'm such the proud "Horse Momma" right now. I can't say enough good things about Bo.

I'll leave you with just a few pictures from tonights first ride on Bo. Again, please don't judge the riding. I realize I don't have good form or even ride correctly. I'll not deny that I have no good riding habits (totally self taught and riding with stirrups that are too long). But I couldn't resist sharing pictures of Bo under saddle. I think he's going to go far.

We both havea goofy look on our face. I'm sure I was prattling on about something. Again, not the most flattering of pictures (for either myself or Bo) but I couldn't resist sharing.

Wordless Wednesday

Babe enjoying some grass.

Two Warriors

Yesterday I was contacted about taking in two 25 year old geldings. Even with the recent (and heartbreaking losses), without sponsors for these two old warriors we are unable to take them in. These two old timers are exactly the reason why we exist and why there need to be more retirement homes.

I am absolutely devastated. I don’t want to tell the owner no but I have to be realistic and without sponsors, I simply can’t do it. No one wants to deal with their own aches and pains, let alone those of their old horses.

I’m worried about these two. How many people would be willing to step up and give one or both a PERMANENT retirement home? If no one does, I’m afraid they will enter the auction circuit. I doubt they’ll last long on the auction circuit. A killbuyer will probably buy them just to fill their load. Why do people think that because they are “useless” to them that they don’t deserve a retirement home? I can point out a few “useless” people yet no one seems to send them packing.

I feel absolutely helpless. I know by even mentioning asking for sponsors, I’ll ruffle some people’s feathers. Yes, I am a private sanctuary. Yes, we are currently working on the non-profit paperwork (and btw to even begin the process of applying for non-profit takes a long time. We are not being lazy, it’s time consuming with many requirements that we are still gathering). No, I don’t feel comfortable asking for sponsors or donations because I know they are not yet tax-deductible but if I were to wait for all the Is to be dotted and the Ts to be crossed, how many souls would have been lost?

I am devastated that I can’t do more. I feel do helpless. It could be that these two old warriors may only live for a few more months, possibly a year or two, or they may keep going strong for the next ten years. No one really knows because there is no time stamp on a life, unless you dump them. I’m simply worried that these two, who deserve a retirement home, will not land in a soft spot for their remaining time on earth and it saddens me to the core.

If you have any ideas on what we could do to help these two old timers, please let me know. Unfortunately, I blocked all Anonymous comments from this blog. We have had a wave of inappropriate/negative comments over the past five to six months and I will not tolerate bad behavior any longer. If you have any positive ideas, please post them on our Facebook page.

Thanks for letting me vent. I hate feeling so damn helpless.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Slaughter Plant in New Mexico


April 10, 2012 (Larkspur, Colorado) — Through its own investigation, Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER) has discovered that Valley Meats Co., 3845 Cedarvale Rd., in Roswell, NM, has applied for inspection of horses to be “custom slaughtered” and “processed” for human consumption. According to the facts uncovered, the facility has been involved in extended discussions with the Denver office of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The FSIS inspects animals and meat in American slaughterhouses under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Horse slaughter for food is a national disgrace, given the iconic nature of American horses and the especially brutal methods used to kill them. FRER has mounted an extensive legal battle to keep American horses from being slaughtered for food, in or out of the country, in light of last November’s Congressional appropriation of funding for horse meat inspections. In the last three weeks, along with the Humane Society of the United States, FRER has filed two Petitions for Rulemaking [hyperlinks], asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the FSIS to enact rules and regulations which would prevent American horses from being slaughtered. The Petitions have gotten significant attention, and FRER intends to continue to amplify its legal strategy for as long as it takes to eliminate the possibility of horse slaughter in America.

If it is allowed to open, the Roswell plant would be the first U.S. horse slaughterhouse opened since horse slaughter in the U.S. ended five years ago. A recent poll shows at least 80% of Americans oppose horse slaughter. Valley Meats and any other horse slaughterhouses must be stopped, and the USDA and FDA must see the danger and illegality of producing horse meat from American horses. FRER calls on all concerned citizens and groups, in and out of New Mexico, to support its efforts by contacting state, local and federal officials and voicing your strong objection to the resumption of this horrific practice in America. For more information on how to help, contact

Ivan the Clown and Queen the Escape Artist

Ivan had me on the ground laughing this morning. That Thoroughbred is such a character. How shall I describe Ivan? The best word that comes to mind is LAZY. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a lazier horse than Ivan. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him lope and only once or twice have I seen him actually trot. He doesn’t even like to “speed walk”. His preferred pace is a mosey. You’d think with his long legs, he’d like to cover some ground. Nope. Instead, he’d rather walk at a turtle’s pace.

But this morning, with the colder weather, Ivan was feeling frisky. It’s become very apparent that Zeke has been hanging out with Ivan too much lately. Zeke, like all the other Arabians that have come through Borderlands, likes to toss their heads. Even some of the other non-Arabians toss their heads when they are feeling really good (Jim and Skippy come to mind).

Well, Ivan came trotting around a corner and tossed his head (yes, I said trotting). Surprisingly, the big galoot was able to trot and toss his head without tripping. I’ve watched some of the other horses try tossing their heads to see what all the racket is about but never do it again after that first time. It’s funny to watch them discover that they can toss their head but think it “beneath” them or too much work. But to see Ivan trotting for one thing cracked me up, but to see him toss his head like Zeke, had me in stitches. It was a good way to start the morning (and the day).

Last night we made a mad dash down to Pleasant View Tack Shop near Lennox. I like to try and support the local stores wherever I can. We were almost out of Rabbit’s antihistamine so we headed down to Pleasant View Tack to pick up another 160 day supply. We picked some up last year during their Open House and it last quite a while. The people who run this tack shop are so friendly and always willing to help out and answer questions. I also got to chat with the girl who worked with Chaos when he was at the trainers a few years back. It’s always so nice to talk with people and have them remember certain horses of Borderlands. It always gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling to know that one of the Borderland horses made such a huge impact on someone that they would remember them (and me) years later. Of course, who could forget Chaos? He’s such a hunk (but I’m biased).

When we got home last night it was nearly dark. I figured I’d let Queen out for just a few minutes while I prepared her grain and fed the geldings. There’s no bigger scare than to walk into a pen and realize that your horse isn’t there. Now, I’ve lost horses in that pen before but Queen was nowhere to be seen. I didn’t think she could jump the fence. She’s way too arthritic to do any jumping. But there is a spot that she could squeeze out and get into the gelding pen. We sometimes push the left over round bales over to the fence for the big herd to munch on and get a new bale for the blind horses. I’d rather they have the best quality instead of the hay that’s picked through. Well, when we do that, I have to move one of the corral panels out of the way and that’s exactly how Queen managed to get in with the geldings (it’s also the same way Mayhem managed to get in with the geldings the first of March when we were gone). Those darn mares are sneaky. I was worried that there would be molesting or someone picking on Queen but she seemed no worse for wear but was ready to get out. I had to coax her through the barn but she willingly went out onto the lawn when she realized what I was asking of her. Of course, she thought that being in the barn meant she was going to get her grain. But I still needed to let the little dog out and get a few things rounded up before graining Queen.

When I finally did get out and feed everyone and get Queen’s grain ready, she wasn’t interested. I guess she side tracked herself with grass. That old girl drives me crazy some days. But Mike grabbed a lead rope and walked her over to the pen. Of course she tried to play some of her tricks with Mike. Had a child walked Queen back to the pen, she would have been on her best behavior. Only with adults does she try and get away with murder. But that’s part of the reason why I love her so much. She’s there when you really need her and will put you in your place when needed. With age comes respect and I’ll give her almost anything that she wants. Of course, she wanted out on the grass this morning and didn’t get it. I’ll let her out on the lawn for a few minutes while we get ready for our first drill team practice in three weeks.

I’ve missed drill team but it was nice to give Zeke some time off. He dropped some weight and we’ve been working diligently to put the weight back on. Zeke isn’t a fan of beet pulp but I did watch him the other day lick out his dish. It always cracks me up to watch a horse literally lick out a grain dish. There are a couple others in the herd that, given the chance, would lick out a dish. When we used to run Sam (or maybe it was Bob), when they finished with their grain mash (and after making a total mess) they would lick everything up. I sure do miss those two big guys.

This week should be busy but filled with lots of horse activities! We are supposed to stay in the chilly weather for a little bit weather and then get rain this weekend. Guess I better get all my fun horsey stuff done this week before the weather turns soggy.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bo - One Year Later

It's hard to believe that we've had Bo for a year and almost a month now. I can't imagine the place without him, although he's definitely one that I worry about daily.

During late winter/early spring when the weather turned nice, I cut everyone's grain back. No sense in over feeding when the temps were so nice. Unfortunately, I can't cut Bo's grain ration...ever. I did start him on a different concoction to see if that helps better. I think it's helping but it takes months for him to pick up weight after he drops it. He has the ability to drop weight within a week so I have to keep a diligent eye on him at all times.

We didn't take him to the vet initially after rescue. I didn't think it wise to try and float his teeth immediately, especially because I didn't think he could even handle a trailer ride. I didn't figure he could handle much other than just time in front of food. Early summer we took him in to get his teeth floated but with how fast he dropped weight this late spring, I want to take him in again and have another thorough check to make sure we didn't miss any underlying symptoms like ulcers or a heart murmur.

I'm hoping Bo will pack on the pounds this summer once he's out on pasture and away from Ivan. Ivan has taken it upon himself to be Bo's tormentor at feeding time. I guess Ivan must think Bo has better hay piles and pushes Bo out. Don't worry. I leave lots of piles so when someone gets pushed out, they have three or four more piles to choose from and these piles are strategically placed so that they can get out of the way if someone more pushy Dude gets in and throws his weight around.

Sorry about the second picture. It's not the greatest but I wanted pics from both sides (just wish I wasn't in it). I need to start working with Bo more outside of the herd. He definitely gets his comfort from the herd and gets a little spooky when he's out. I'm hoping daily hand grazing will fix that. Now if I could only find the time to hand graze him every day, not exactly an easy feat when caring for 16 other horses, a husband, and working. At least the days are getting longer and we aren't coming in until way after dark these days. Thank goodness for daylight savings time.

I've never actually measured Bo. But if you look at the first picture, I'm 5ft3in. So that gives you an idea of how tall Bo is. He also doesn't have very good ground manners. Even in the barn, I have to keep a close eye on him. He doesn't understand the concept of where his head is versus where my head is. I swear I get hit in the head at least twice a week. But Bo gets so excited when it comes to grain time. I've had others get that excited too but he makes it pretty clear that I should feed him immediately instead of getting the grain out to Jim and Zeke first. But I have to feed those two first and Bo last because he makes such a mess. I have to leave the barn and let it be quiet while he eats, otherwise he takes a bite and then walks around or pushes his dish around, spilling have the grain on the floor and trots through it. Oh don't worry, he eats every last morsel but it's aggravating to watch him scatter his grain half way through the barn.

I'm hoping Bo will finish packing on the pounds soon so I can actually start showing him. I'll continue to give him time off until I think he's ready. He'll always be a hard keeper and will always need a close eye on him. It's hard to believe that he's only 11 and I'll have to keep a close eye on him from now on. I expect his past will catch up to him at some point when he gets older. I also think his normal metabolism will also cause him problems when he gets older too. But we'll play it by ear every day and do the best we can with what we have. Even though he causes me to worry every waking moment (and even in my sleep), he's worth it. I wouldn't trade him for anything.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Need Help in Plattsmouth, NE Placing 7 Horses

Anyone in the Plattsmouth, Nebraska area that can help? Saw this on a discussion board.


I have been contacted by Jocelyn Nickerson, State Director of the Humane Society. Phone number Jocelyn can be reached at is (402) 541-7077. Her letter to me is below. Can Anyone help!! Thank You in Advance.

Tandra Dunn

I have been contacted by an owner in Plattsmouth, NE who is seeking placement for her 7 horses. Her health is declining and while the horses are safe for the near term, she is in need of re-homing or rescue before she is unable to care for them. She provided the following description of the horses on her ranch:

Ruffian--is a 33 yr old roan mare, bilateral back legs have short white socks, bilateral from legs have short multi colored stripped socks, long thin irregular facial star

Chival--is a 30 yr old light chestnut mare, with a large white blaze on her face, rt front and back lt socks, all 4 legs have multi-colored strips of some sort which run on her inner legs as well, she also has scattered white on her body and jaws now as she ages

Ella-- is 30 yr old light chestnut with a left front sock, irregular facial star in what we've called a bird/crane shape,

Black--is a 27 yr old gelding who acts 5, he has short white socks, and also is starting to show white as he ages on his jaw line

Vincent--is 27 yrs old, roan, gelding, rough edged facial blaze, 4 white socks

Finale--is a 16 year old gelding, roan, rt back sock, other legs with multi-colored stripes

Spangler--is a 16 yrear old gelding, light chestnut with white socks on all legs, bird/crane facial white star, back left sock is shorter than others

These horses have been together nearly all of their lives and have had little contact with others outside the owner’s family. She indicates that the transition may be most difficult for Ruffian, Ella and Vincent. But they do love alfalfa cubes and anyone with a feed bucket.

The owner is having difficulty caring for both the animals and the property in her declining state and hopes to move closer to Omaha once the horses have been placed.

Thank you in advance! Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated. My phone number is listed below and is the best way to reach me.


Jocelyn Nickerson

Nebraska State Director

c 402.541.7077

Cockleburs, Grain, and Easter

Last night while I had Bo “captive” eating in the barn, I thought I might as well tackle his tail. He’s impossible to groom if he’s not distracted with food. Lucky for me, he gets a mix of beet pulp, calf manna, and sweet feed so it occupied his time for almost the entire time it took for me to pull cockleburs. Oh how I hate those prickly little burs. Luckily, Bo only had one or two in his mane. I also decided that I might as well go after Zeke’s tail too. I swear he specifically rolls in the worst spot where the cockleburs grew last year. Thank goodness for show sheen. I sprayed Zeke’s tail down in showsheen in hopes that the cockleburs wouldn’t stick as bad when he rolls right after I let him out of the barn.

I had thought about saddling someone up but I wasn’t feeling all that great and decided I’d do some grooming instead. I kicked Zeke out of the barn and haltered Bo and Jim. Everyone except Jim has at least had a curry comb over them within the last week. Jim is just so standoffish that it takes a lot of patience to convince him to stand long enough to walk up to him and even more patience to groom him if he’s not haltered. I figured since he was in the barn, I might as well get the cockleburs out of his mane and tail. He has such a full mane and tail; I knew it was going to take a long time.

I haltered Bo up and tied him to the trailer. Bad idea. There is some bad history with Bo and being tied to a trailer. I’m not sure if he just gets excited because trailers mean he gets to work or if something bad happened. I put Jim right next to him but Bo still wouldn’t settle down. Bo’s ground manners have gone to pot too (not that they were all that great when we got him last year). Guess we’ll be working with ground manners and desensitizing him to the trailer. He gets worked up whenever I put him in the trailer too. Poor guy. Instead of stressing him out during his grooming (and me having to worry about getting stomped), I moved him over to a different spot and he eventually settled down. He’s shedding but not like last year when he was losing tufts of hair. It’s amazing what a year will do. Bo is still too thin for my liking. When the weather got nicer, I cut back on everyone’s grain ration. Bad idea for Bo. He dropped more weight than I like so he’s back to full ration of grain. Once I get Flower’s vet bills (yes, that’s plural) taken care of, I’ll haul Bo back to the vet to get his teeth checked and see if there are any other underlying problems we missed.

I expect that Ivan is part of the problem with Bo’s weight loss. Ivan, as laid back as he is, has decided to be a bully with Bo. Any time Bo finds a pile to eat from, Ivan wanders over and pushes Bo out of the way. Now don’t get upset, I have lots of little piles so that when someone moves from one pile to another, everyone doesn’t always have to shift to a different pile. I have about five or six extra piles of hay just so there’s always some place for everyone to go. And all the hay is strategically placed so that no one gets cornered or gets too close to someone they don’t get along with.

I think once Bo gets out on grass, he’ll pick the weight up pretty quick. I will start hand grazing him to get him used to grass a little bit sooner than the rest of the herd. Hopefully that’ll help some with the ground manners and the weight gain. But we’ll see what the vet says too.

After I finished grooming Bo, I tackled Jim’s ample mane and tail. He has the thickest tail of any horse I’ve ever met. Luckily he wasn’t too bad but I know he got bored standing there. I showsheened the heck out of his tail in hopes that the burs just fall off. I know better than to expect such a thing, but I can always hope right? (He already had a large some of cockleburs this morning.) Jim really is a good horse even if he is standoffish. He’s a workaholic but I’ve put him into semi-retirement. Oh sure he’s only 24 years old but he too has become a bit of a hard keeper. He’s on my watch list and will always require beet pulp. But Jim doesn’t let his age get in the way. He acts more like he’s 14 than 24 some days.

I am a little bit more concerned about Queen. When Flower had her accident, I pulled Queen out so that Flower wouldn’t be alone. No need to stress her out more than she already was. I had them in the pen by the barn. Of course Flower had to lie down more but I noticed that Queen picked up that habit too. I’m glad to see her resting more but when I put her back in with Thor, she continued to follow that same habit. She used to never lie down so it’s a bit of a concern. I don’t know if her arthritis is really acting up or if she’s just come to enjoy a soft place to lie down. Babe works pretty hard to pull out the hay from the round bale to make a bed for Queen.

While I was pulling cockleburs and grooming Bo and Jim, Thor let me know in no uncertain terms that I was late in getting to his grain. He kept whinnying to me. At first, Thor’s whinnying would set Babe to whinnying too but she soon figured out I wasn’t coming right away and settled back down to devouring the round bale (and making Queen a new bed to snooze in). But through the entire grooming, Thor wouldn’t let up and would whinny every five to ten minutes telling me how disgusted he was with me not serving him immediately. He is such a love. I’m glad he’s finally adjusting to his blindness. He’s been completely blind now for a year. He’s still skittish when anyone touches his face (even if you talk to him and let him know you are near). But he’s adjusted pretty well and uses his nose to “see” everything. I sometimes forget that he’s blind.

When I did finally get to graining Thor, Babe, and Queen, I tossed their dishes out and proceeded to get other chores done. I still put beet pulp in with Queen’s grain. Last year Queen lost some weight and I don’t want her to go downhill. When I came around the corner, all three had their noses in the dish with the beet pulp. Queen had taken to sharing her grain with Thor but apparently she’s given up all hope of keeping her grain to herself and let Babe in on the treat. I so wish I would have had a camera. Imagine three noses (one being pretty big), in one of those rubber dishes. Not a lot of room but they all seemed to get along and enjoy the food and company.

We need to make a grain and supplement run this weekend. Rabbit is almost out of her antihistamine medicine. She absolutely HAS to be on an antihistamine. Lately I thought it wasn’t really working. Well, it is. The other day I threw just a handful of hay over the fence for her, just some loose hay. Within seconds she was coughing like crazy. But that was before she had taken her medicine. After her medicine, she wasn’t as bad. She still coughs after taking her antihistamine and still wheezes so that’s why I thought the meds weren’t working. Apparently they work but she has, what I could consider, a bad case of heaves. Luckily she’s retired from all riding and making babies. She can just focus on breathing. Having asthma myself, I totally understand how she feels. So I want to make sure that she never runs out of antihistamine…ever. I’ll be glad to get her out on pasture but we’ll keep her on the antihistamine year round.

I can’t believe it’s already Easter. Easter last year was pretty late in April. Easter weekend last year was when we rescued Savanna, Sahara, and to our surprise Sir Prize (now affectionately known as Jett, who is growing like crazy!) It’s amazing to think how much has happened in just a year. Savanna has come a long way in that year. I’ll have to snag a few pictures of Savanna now so you can all see her. Or check her out on Gentle Spirit’s Facebook page. She’s got a totally different look on her face now. Not a look of sheer survival. It’s a look of question. She’s come a long way in the last year and I expect it’ll take her another year to get further. I can’t imagine what she’d gone through in her short life but she’s probably seen more bad than most of us have in all our lives. I’m proud of her and of Gentle Spirits for all the hard work they’ve put into her. I expect within the next year, she’ll really come out of her shell and she’ll shine like the diamond she is. Or maybe she’s more of a black pearl, rare and treated like a precious jewel. Whatever she may be, she’s come a long way. I’ll also have to get pictures of Jett so you can see how much he’s grown. It’s hard to believe that he’ll be a year old next month (May 10th to be exact)!

And I was able to snap a few pictures of Bo last night. I’ll post them here and on our Facebook page this weekend. You’ll see what I mean when I say he’s still thin. We’ll see what the vet has to say and hopefully the grass will help.

If I don’t post again before this weekend, have a great Easter.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Worth It

I couldn't have said it better:

A soft nicker or a demanding whinny.
An ear scratch or a belly rub.
Greeting me at the gate or patiently waiting by the door.

I know when I get home tonight, Bo will be at the gate with a whinny welcoming me home (it's the same thing Sam used to do). When I start chores, Queen will let out a whinny and that'll set off Babe and Thor. I bet I'll even get a nicker out of Rabbit. If I play my cards right, I might even get a little whinny out of Skippy!

Those prescious moments are what makes it all worth it.

I'm not assured a place in Heaven. I don't do what I do to show off. I don't do it for anyone but the horses because they are the ones that matter and make every second worth it.

Door is Always Open

I thought this a really good post and rather fitting:

I too work 8 1/2-9 hour days and work an hour away from the Sanctuary. Mike helps where he can but isn't involved and tends to focus more on the mechanical issues that seem to appear all the time. When you board, it's easy to point out the little issues or things that are broken, but when you are the owner, it takes more time (and money). I am the sole caretaker of the 17 horses and am also the sole money provider for those horses. To make ends meet and make sure those horses have a permanent home until their last breath, I work. I made a promise to each horse that entered the Sanctuary that they were home. It's a promise that can't break.

I rely heavily on family but they too need help and support as we tackle some family matters. I've also been sick for the past few months. Nothing to worry about but also nothing I've wanted to discuss (I'd prefer to keep this blog about the horses and not my personal life although I know it doesn't always happen). With the added family matters and my health, we've all discussed that the Sanctuary will not fill the gaps when one of the horses passes away. We don't dump our horses when the going gets tough. We also don't have any horses that people would be interested in. They all have "issues" (don't we all). So it would be almost impossible to find a good, permanent home for the horses. I'll not break my promise to them either. I'll struggle and muddle through what needs to be done.

I won't sugarcoat the facts and I won't skirt any issues. I want to put everything out there in black and white from my perspective (even if it's not right). I want to include you in all my worries and fears so that you know where I'm coming from when I fly off the handle (you know it'll happen). I want to include you in all the boring things we do here so that everyone can be included in our big, extended family. As the blogpost said, it's my way of including you in my horse life. The door is always open. If you want to visit and meet the horses, the door is always open. And I promise I won't put you to work unless you want to.

Monday, April 2, 2012


To say the least, the last few days (and months) have been tough. We had water and fire damage in February and we sustained wind damage in March. I only half way joked that we’ve had water, fire, and wind damage. The next thing will probably be an earthquake. Earthquakes aren’t exactly common in South Dakota nor are they big (although they do occur). Mike and I both looked at each other and we both said it at the same time.


We won’t have an earthquake. We’ll discover a sinkhole. Hopefully we are wrong and it won’t happen but that’s my best guess on what will happen next.

The wind destroyed the habitat for horses shelter. I’m not sure if we can do some welding on the pipes or not. The tarp is mostly fully intact although battered around the edges. Maybe we’ll be able to put it in a different area where there’s less wind. No matter, that stupid building should never be sold in South Dakota.

We also lost a leanto. I’ve been trying to keep the horses away from it but lost the battle a while ago. Apparently the former owners only put posts in the ground one to two feet deep. This one was only in the ground a foot. I’m surprised that it lasted as long as it did. It’s another building we’ll have to fence off and then tear down. The other leanto we finally finished building this summer is starting to come apart too thanks to all the wind. The noise is driving me insane so I’ll have to go out there tonight and figure out how to fix it. I’m sure it’ll entail a ladder in the bed of the truck to fix it. I’m too short to reach anything on that building.

I gave up the cocklebur battle. Last summer the cocklebur bushes grew during the heat. I didn’t catch it in time and all fall had to pull those painful cockleburs out of the horses’ manes and tails. It got to the point where I couldn’t keep up (hence no pictures). I thought this spring I could go at it again and really start making the boys look good now that their winter coats are blowing out. Nope. The cockleburs are back. It’s an effort in futility. I had Dude, Rain, King, Maverick, and Zeke looking so nice and then the next day they looked like I hadn’t touched them. They were covered in cockleburs again. We’ve disked the ground but apparently not good enough to bury the cockleburs. I’m sure we’ll be overrun with cockleburs again this summer.

I’m sick of dealing with cockleburs. I can’t wait to kick the horses out into the pasture. But there’s a hitch. The bottom of the pasture flooded out two years ago and last year I didn’t get out there (thanks to the heat) to spray. The bottom of the pasture is just as bad as the drylot and is covered in cockleburs. The only upside is that the cockleburs are still hanging on to the dead plants. Not sure if that’s a good sign or not. I have no idea what to do with those. I think we are going to have to hire someone from the elevator to spray for weeds and fertilize the pasture. The pasture is over grazed and there’s simply nothing out there. I know it’s still early but the pasture just looks sick. Worst case scenario, I’ll be out hand walking the little fertilizer spreader to hit the high spots and see what happens.

There’s always so much to do and yet every time I turn around, there’s something else that has to be fixed. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that April will be a better month than the last two.

Farewell Flower

It’s been four days since we lost Flower. I had such high hopes that the vet could do something with her foot but in the end, the only right thing to do was put her down. Her other front leg was starting to fail and she was down more than up. She’d had a good morning Thursday and that’s all I can ask for.

I still feel guilty as hell. I expect I always will. But after the initial puncture wound healed and the abscess broke, she started walking on her tiptoe. I guess that’s a sign that there’s really nothing left to do but put her down. The vet suspected the infection worked its way into the joint. Oh sure, we could have done a bunch of extensive procedures on her and still only had a 50/50 shot at it working. I feel bad for not looking further into those procedures but I had to look at her quality of life, cost be damned. But I didn’t see her quality of life getting any better. If she had been younger, if she had another good leg, the decision would have been different. But I didn’t want to put her through any more procedures that might not help but still put her through so much pain.

Instead, we chose to euthanize her. It was quick but still heart breaking for me. I wasn’t completely prepared for the loss. The place seems different without her here.

Even the vet, who normally never remarks on the horses, gushed on about Flower and what a really good horse she was. He’d only seen her once before but I think he liked her then too and felt just as bad as I did about the loss. It’s still painful to think of her being gone. I miss the low pitched whinnies at grain time. I miss her trotting around, impatiently waiting for her food.

There are few horses that I instantly bond with. There are few that I feel so comfortable with them within the first 24 hours. Flower was one of those horses. After the first 24 hours of her being at Borderlands, I could have sworn that she had spent the last 24 years here instead.

We moved Queen back to the blind pen Thursday evening. I think she preferred the extra attention near the barn. We had to push a bale in to the blind pen Friday evening. I typically distract the blind horses with grain. I figured I’d be able to distract Queen too. Nope, the minute I opened the gate, she bolted (well, as fast as a 34 year old with arthritis can bolt!) I let her go, knowing she wouldn’t go far. I don’t mind that she’s a little pushy and will make a break for the gate. I figure if she’s 34 years old, she can do whatever she wants. Who knows how much longer we will be blessed with her presence. I want to enjoy it while she’s here and let her enjoy life. Queen bolted for the barn and ended up standing in the barn waiting for one of us to come meet her. I guess she figured she should be back in her old pen.

When the vet arrived Thursday, I had both Flower and Queen out munching on grass. We led Flower away from the barn and Queen followed. I didn’t really want Queen around. I wanted to save her the pain of knowing Flower was gone. She did end up wandering away but she knew what had happened to Flower. As the vet pulled out of the driveway I lost all my self-composure and you know what that darn Queen did? She went straight over to me and let me cry in her mane. That regal lady knows how to comfort a girl. I don’t know what I’ll do without her. I’ve never met another old mare willing to put her heart on the line (unless of course it was Flower).

It’s still hard to take and there’s a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes right now. I’m not sure I’ll ever be totally over losing Flower. Of course, I’m never over losing any of the herd. Flower was an amazing horse and assured her spot in heaven. She’s definitely missed. She might have only been here for nine months but she made a huge impact and will be forever missed.