Thursday, March 29, 2018


It's been awhile since I've blogged about the horses. The days seem to slip by faster and faster and I can't keep up. We are starting to thaw out so putting in hay is going to be tricky these days until the frost is out of the ground. It means timing is everything.

So the other day I was feeling sorry for myself, thinking about Lightening and how we dont' connect. Someone mentioned a horse for sale that would have fit the bill. But I can't bring myself to sell Lightening. He's my personal horse but the same rules apply to him as the Sanctuary horses so the dilemma didn't last long. He's here to stay but trying to find the time to connect with him is the big thing. But the other night, I went out to check the horses and he was the first to greet me. Everyone at some point will come up to see what I'm doing, except for Jim and King (and Lightening). Lightening has been a tough cookie to crack because he prefers to be aloof when it comes to me. But maybe if I can find the time now that the days are getting longer, I can work with him a bit. Again, it's all about timing.

We have about two more months of keeping the horses on hay. We typically don't put them out on pasture until Memorial Weekend. We may possibly have a pasture to put the big herd but I'm waiting to see if that comes through or not. If it does, that means we'll have the summer to restore our depleted pasture. If not, it means we'll be working extra hard to keep the pasture as well as we can. We need to start looking at re-fencing the perimeter now that the corner posts are all rotting off.

I realized today that we need a game plan for all the stuff we need to get done around the place. If we don't plan now, we'll be like we always are and scrambling to get stuff done in the fall. I'd rather be a bit more proactive this year and get a few extra things done so we arent' caught unprepared. Last year from about August until October I had this tight feeling in my chest and it was all due to the amount of work that needed to be done before winter set in.

We still need to get the garage roof done. I'm hoping that we can tackle that project in May. There's manure to haul but we need to get a skidloader and that will take coordination and money since I'm expecting we'll have to rent one. And it takes time and money to haul manure to the field. There's all the fencing, spraying, reseeding, and fertilizing in the pastures. We need to finish up putting the roofing on the hay barn. I went in the other day to grab a bale and it's such a different feeling knowing that there's no leaks. But I'd like to get it all wrapped up soon, at least once the weather warms. You can't work with Ondura when it's under 55 degrees. I'm sure there's a ton of other stuff. We need to get some work done on the trailers and tractors and there's always work on vehicles. I'd hoped to repaint another side of the barn but I dont' see that in the cards this year.  And we need to put the roof on the little shed in the big dry lot. It's been sitting like that for a good four to five years and it's starting to drive me insane looking at it all the time.

So there's lots to get done this summer.

I also need to get my poop in a group for our upcoming fundraiser, Light the Night, scheduled for Saturday, April 21st.  Unfortunately by the end of the day, I'm pretty well beat and cant' seem to function. It's been a struggle lately. I see all this stuff that I need to get done and I want to get done but when I finally have the time, I'm too exhausted and just can't function. I've been sick for the past couple of months so I'm just now getting over it. Talk about a wicked bug.

I'm hoping that with April rolling around, I'll be better at blogging and posting on Facebook but I'm not going to make any promises.

The horses are all fat and sassy. Junior has lost a bit of weight because I've slacked off here and there with his grain and I can tell. That disappoints me but I'm hoping that in another month, I can get him on the lawn to graze on grass and he'll pick the weight back up. I can't expect too much from him these days. I rarely have horses live into their 30s so I'm pretty tickled that he's lasted this long. I'm hoping we'll have him for another couple of years but we'll take it day-by-day.

So lots going on but my brain is going blank at the moment. I seem to be getting more and more scatterbrained. Hopefully I can get a few things done over the weekend. If I don't post again, I hope everyone has a fantastic Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tip Tuesday - Vaccinations and Deworming

I'm going to try my best to get back into the swing of what I had hopped would be a consistent effort to provide some really good information about the Sannctuary in particular and for horses in general.

So today's #TipTuesday is about vaccinations and deworming. We should all be thinking about getting our vaccinations and deworming done soon. Now that spring is in the air, we need to think about our horse's health a little more.

And we have some good news to share about vaccinations at the Sanctuary but we'll save that for another post!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Happy Scavenger Hunting

We had a great time at the Tri-State Horse Expo this past weekend.

We ran a scavenger hunt for the kids. I'm not sure who had more fun, the kids, the parents, or the vendors! I know I had a blast watching the kids hunt for all the hidden cartoon horses. I hope the vendors who participated in the scavenger hunt had fun as well. It's definitely something to do again next year!

We met a lot of great people and I definitely got my "horse fix" after talking with everyone about horses. The Tri State Horse Expo is a great way to kick off the riding season and I'm so thankful that we were able to be a part of it this year.

We had freezing rain Friday so I didn't get to blanket the horses like I had wanted to. We were running so late that everyone didn't seem to mind getting a little wet except for Brego and Zeke, and they ended up going into the barn for the night (but were ready to get out first thing in the morning).

Of course, the day-to-day care of the horses comes first so we had to get our morning chores done before heading in to the Expo. Unfortunately, we also needed to put hay in Sunday morning. Of course, we judged it wrong and waited until Sunday morning when we should have gotten up and put hay in Saturday morning when the ground was still frozen. Oh well, at least the tractor didn't get stuck.

I would have waited to put hay in for another couple of days but Mike headed to Fargo this morning so it's just me wrangling horses and kids. I also wanted to get the hay rings out of the mud and onto the concrete so that we don't have to worry about getting the tractor stuck the next time we put hay in. We'll be moving the mares and Junior once they polish off the bale we put in last week. They are tearing up the pasture. I hate to stick them in mud, but we need the pasture for them this spring and summer.

There's lots to catch up on but I am behind on everything so I'll have to post again later with all the thoughts rambling around in my head. But for now, I wanted to tell everyone thanks for stopping by the booth during the Tri-State Horse Expo. I had a lot of fun and am excited for spring to finally arrive!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Feeling Frazzled

So I'm slightly freaking out. I hate being unprepared. I'm a planner and like to be organized yet I seem to find myself in unorganized situations that I bring on myself.

The next few days are going to be a blur. We found out, a little last minute, that we will be attending the Tri-State Horse Expo and hosting a scavenger hunt that's happening this weekend. Should be an awesome time and I'm totally looking forward to it. However, I am unprepared for everything. I've been sick since Sunday and haven't been able to plan anything or prepare anything. I'll be lucky to have my wits about me by the time the Expo starts. I have no hope of having my wits by the end. Our booth may not look like very much I'm afraid.

It wouldn't be a big deal, but there's a storm rolling in, starting tonight and they are talking snow and ice. So now I need to prep the horses with blankets and possibly get stalls ready to make sure no one gets chilled. On top of that, the Expo runs later into the evening so I need to make arrangements for the kids. It's all typical parenting stuff really and living in South Dakota. car is apparently dying as well. Again, not a big deal. We'll look at some cars after the Expo. Wrongo. Mike leaves for Fargo Monday morning bright and early. So if I'm left with a dead car, I'll be left with no way to get to work, and no way to get the kids to daycare or school. I doubt that'll happen but now I have an unreliable car. I drive 45 miles/minutes every day just to get to work and an additional 40 miles/minutes to pick up the kids after daycare and another 20 miles/minutes just to get home. I put on the miles so if something were to happen out on the road with my kids while Mike is in Fargo, that doesn't really give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. I also heard rumors of another storm rolling in around Monday. Go figure. That's usually what happens. Mike leaves for training and we get a storm and I have to figure out how to care for all the horses and make sure the kids dont' get into trouble. :-)

And I just realized, we'll need to put hay in before Mike leaves so after we do the Expo probably Saturday night, we'll have to go in and put hay in. That'll mean a late night. Not a big deal really but I'm just now getting over whatever I had earlier this week so I'm a bit drained. I've been crashing by 8pm so that means NOTHING has been getting done.

So, as usual I am totally unprepared. So if you see me at the Tri State Horse Expo and I look frazzled, now you'll know why.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Seven Years Ago

Yesterday marked the seven year anniversary of when we pulled Bo from an auction, emaciated and near death. It also marked the two week loss of him leaving this Earth. It was bitter sweet and I couldn't seem to put words to anything that I was feeling.

It's so hard to not think of him. It's so hard not to think I need to go out and do chores and feed Bo. I've spent almost seven years worrying about Bo, feeding him, and wondering what to do right to make him gain weight and feel better.

I will cherish the time we had together. I'm still heartbroken over his loss. Gone too young.

The first three pictures are of Bo the day after we brought him home. It was late when we finally made it home that day and wanted to let him settle in (we weren't sure he'd make the night). The pictures don't show the extent of his condition but you can see the shell shock in his eyes.

The following is from Bo about two weeks after. I'd thrown a blanket on him to help ward off the chill so now you can actually see the devastation his body went through. Winter hair hides much weight loss.

This next one is of Bo two months into his recovery. Gaining slowly the weight he lost.

And sadly, this is Bo after his prognosis of heart failure back in October. The weight we'd worked so hard to put on and that would easily drop off was falling off and staying off.

And this is Bo during the winter. Already the blanket doesn't fit as nicely as it had (or should). He'd lived in that blanket this winter to try and keep the chill off of him. It was painful to watch his condition and know when to make the right decision to say goodbye.

So yesterday and today is bitter sweet. Others have come and gone and made an impact as well but for some reason Bo's loss leaves a huge lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

But as the saying goes, in death, life goes on. And we will continue moving forward to care for more senior horses and horses as deserving as Bo. God speed Bo.

Attending Tri-State Horse Expo

We have exciting news! We are attending the Tri-State Horse Expo this weekend (Fri-Sun). Not only are we there to represent senior horses and to talk to people about horses, we are also hosting a scavenger hunt for kids. I'm still working out the finer details on the hunt but it should still be fun for everyone involved.

I'm looking forward to getting my "horse fix" and chatting with others about horses. I shouldn't complain about the long winter as it was only on December 21st that true winter set in (not just winter solstice but the first snow storm). We've had other years that winter dragged on for much longer.

But I am happy to see the days getting longer and the weather warming. For now my focus needs to be getting ready for the Tri-State Horse Expo. I'm not very organized this year so we'll see how it goes.

So if you get a chance, swing over this weekend to the Tri-State Horse Expo at the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds and stop over to say HI!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March Blizzard

We are finally getting over our March blizzard. I'd stayed home from the paying job Monday knowing full well that bad weather was on its way. I'd woken at midnight to thunder. We normally don't get thunder in March. We normally don't get rain in march either. We normally get snow.

So when I woke up at 5:30 and headed out at 6am to do chores and was faced with a full on rain storm, I knew we were in for  trouble as the weatherman was calling for it to switch to freezing rain and then snow.

I'd had the good sense to blanket everyone that I could Sunday. Although I did question myself Sunday afternoon as it was in the 40s but with a biting wind. But I was sure glad when Monday morning rolled around and everyone was snug in their blankets, even if they were wet (but still dry on the inside).

At one point I couldn't tell if we were getting sleet or hail but by 11am we were getting snow. And I was sure glad I was home because the winds had picked up as well! The wind was so bad that it was actually coming straight out of the west. Normally it's north west so we are a bit more protected but not Monday. The wind blew the snow so much, that it blew right into the barn and now I have a snowdrift IN my barn.

I went out at noon to let horses into the barn. I figured, even if they had to stand in their stall for 24 hours, that they might not mind. The first horse at the door was Jim and his blanket was actually frozen in place. He was snug but the outer edges were a sheet of ice. I ended up letting Jim, Rain, Brego, and Dude into the barn and left the others out. I also put in Mayhem, Lace, and Junior into their stalls in the hay shed.

When I went back out to do my actual chores, I put Zeke and Lightening into the barn as well. Of course Brego and Dude broke one of the stalls so I need to figure out how to fix it. We don't have nice stalls and if you watch any of our videos in the barn, you can tell. They were all supposed to be somewhat temporary but the temporary stalls have turned permanent. I'd love to have something different but until there's time and money available, they will simply have to work.

The wind was so bad that by noon, there was no travel advised everywhere and by nightfall there was no travel on all the roads. That continued into the morning. I let the horses out of the barn and they were more than ready to get out and stretch their legs. I also put Junior, Mayhem, and Lace back in their stalls but I don't think they were nearly as excited. Their stalls are slightly bigger but they all seem to go with the flow a little bit better than the bigger gelding herd.

By the afternoon everything was back to normal. I had planned on pulling blankets last night but the temps were still too chilly to do anything with the blankets. We'll see how the temps wand weather go. We are supposed to get another storm this weekend so we'll see.

We do have robins. Those first few are always here way too early but it is a nice sight to see and I love to hear them. It makes it feel as thought spring is right around the corner and any winter storms we get now will all be gone in a matter of days.

What little snow we did get has already melted to some degree. Although the bottom of the pasture is now flooded with all the rain. It floods every year but with all the rain we received Monday, I expect the pasture to flood and to even back up into the field that surrounds us.

I'm ok with the snow and the rain as long as the horses are happy and dry. The more moisture we get, the less likely we'll be in another drought. I barely survived the first drought in 2012 and the dry conditions last year so a full on drought this year would be detrimental to us. I say, bring on the March snowstorms!

Jim's Choke

The last few days have been a blur. Unfortunately, I've been a bit under the weather during all of it so there's very little getting done except basic chores and such.

I've seen our vet three times in just over a week. As much as I like them, I'd rather not see them that often on a professional basis. At least that's what I was joking around with them about the last time we were in.

So I took Farley in Friday, February 23rd and then took Bo in Monday, Feb 26. Then Jim choked his past Friday and I ended up taking him in Saturday before our blizzard. Sure glad I did. So you may be wondering what happened with Jim.

On Friday night, I let Jim in to eat his grain like normal. It felt weird because Bo wasnt' there. I hate to admit it, but Jim wasn't up to the barn all that week (without Bo hovering, Jim didn't know), so I bypassed graining Jim. Yes, I am a bad horse owner but I was also not feeling the hottest and Jim looks fantastic for 30. So I wasn't too worried. but still bad horse owner I know.

Friday, I figured I'd better get back into the routine. It just felt weird walking into the barn without having Bo pacing outside or whinning in the barn not so patiently waiting for his grain. During the week from the time we said goodbye until Friday, I would sneak into the barn as quietly as I could, thinking that Bo would hear me but then I'd remember....he's not here. So I was struggling. It's only been with Bo and Ivan that I've had a hard time walking into that barn. Every other time, I wouldn't twice but these last two, so close to one another, made me take a step back. I've lost three in less than a year. It's a hard pill to swallow.

So anyway, Zeke was right on Jim's tail so I let Zeke in as well. I don't really like leaving Jim in the barn alone. He gets mad at me. So off to do my other chores and I figured when I got done with those, Jim and Zeke would be done. When I walked in, I noticed Jim was facing the door and his grain at barely been touched. That's when I noticed he was choking. It wasn't like he was choking on a big wad of hay or a big mouthful of grain. It was senior feed.

I had gotten out of the routine of soaking grain because Junior's dish would get compacted with the frozen grain. He has to have an over the fence feeder or he knocks it all out onto the ground. So I got lazy and it cost Jim. I had Mike go out and look at Jim as well and then I went back out to see if I couldn't help.

By that time, Jim had gotten the grain unstuck but he seemed really off. I left him with water, a flake of hay, and Zeke to keep him company.  Then I had to head in because I wasn't feeling well and crashed almost instantly after coming in for the night.

In the morning, I went back out and Jim hadn't touched anything and he still seemed out of it. So our wonderful vets let me sneak Jim in to get a good overall exam on him. I was able to get the truck hooked up, Jim loaded, and to the vets in just over an hour (it's a solid 40 minutes to our vet) but I drive slow.

The vets were pleased with his overall condition when I pulled his blanket (I'd put one on in case he went down in the barn and got chilled). They ran some bloodwork and all looked good so they ruled out a number of other issues. They gave him a shot of banamine, a shot of penicillin, and a shot of dex. He perked up almost instantly when we got home an hour later.

What the vet said was because Jim is 30, it would be very similar to a 90 year old choking. There would be shock and necessary time to recover. I've known of people who have choked, and two days later died from it (even though there was no food left in their was simply the shock from the experience).

I was supposed to give Jim banamine (orally because I hate giving shots) and unimprim (powder because I hate giving shots). Jim turned up his nose at the grain and unimprim but I was able to convince him with a lot of grain to eat most of it. At least he's good at taking banamine. But he's avoided the barn ever since (until the rain and snow Monday).

Jim has and continues to be a bit of a touch me not. When Bo was around, Jim would be there right at the door waiting to get in but without Bo watching for me, Jim doesn't seem nearly as interested in his grain any more. I expect some of that is due to the choke.

So now I need to remember to haul warm water out to soak their grain. A hard lesson to learn and remember. I'd started soaking grain when my first horse choked and I'd been doing it ever since but with Junior's need to have his feed in an over the fence feeder, I slipped.

The joys of old horses.

Monday, March 5, 2018

One Week

It was one week ago today that we said goodbye to Bo. The skies were blue and temps were warming up and it was a decent day for the end of February.

Today, we are in near blizzard like conditions. I'm glad I stayed home but wishing that everyone in the family were home. I was smart enough last night to put blankets on everyone that had blankets. I started to doubt myself because the temps were in the 40s but the wind was from the south east which bites. I'm glad that I went ahead and put blankets on.

At midnight, we had thunder. I'm not sure about the rain but there was definite thunder. At 5:30 when I rolled out of bed, I was extremely happy to have put blankets on everyone. When I managed to get out at 6am to do chores, it was a downpour. I didn't see anyone so I'm guessing they were standing in the sheds or somewhere out of the wind.

All morning long, I've been watching the weather. It would rain and then sleet. At one point I couldn't tell if it was sleet or hail. But about an hour ago it switched over to snow and now we are in near whiteout conditions. I'm thinking I'll head out soon to put Junior, Mayhem, and Lace in their stalls for the day. I am sure they won't mind being stuck in their stalls for a little extra time.

Weather like this makes me panic. I'm not exactly sure why. I guess it's the farmer genes in me. I always seem to find myself out in the worst of it. But it's usually to make sure that everyone is comfortable during bad weather.

..short pause...

ok, I'm headed out. I can't handle the thought of the horses being out in this and I want to check on them. Always the worrier I guess but the horses aren't just horses. They are family and I was taught at an early age to always take care of your family.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Life Lessons from Bo

When I reflect back on the time I had with Bo, I realized that Bo taught me two very important lessons. Each horse will teach you a lesson; its' simply a matter of recognizing that lesson and putting it to use.

Bo had a hard life. I don't know his entire past nor will I ever know but I do know that at one point, he had it very hard, to the point where he nearly died. You would think that all he'd been through, all he'd experienced, that he would be angry. But he wasn't.  Here in lies the first lesson from Bo's Book of Life.

Forgive and Forget
Bo never once held a grudge to me or any other human for the poor treatment he was dealt that nearly killed him. He was never anything but a gentleman. Even on that fateful day almost 7 years ago, when I put that halter on him to lead him to the trailer (instead of rushing him through aisles as loose horses are typically loaded), Bo raised his head a little higher. It was almost as if he was proud to wear that halter and to know that he was owned and loved by someone. And this even though he was emaciated and near death. For all the terrible things that he'd experienced, he'd forgiven and forgotten.  In the seven years we were together, Bo never carried a grudge.

And that leads me to the second life lesson.

Be Happy
Bo was always happy. He never looked at his past as something to dread. He looked to the future and was always happy. Even though he was bottom of the pecking order, he knew how to avoid the aggressive horses and was simply happy to be near his best friend, Zeke. I have never known a happier horse.

He was handed an unfair lot in life and yet he never let that get him down. All the misfortune he went through even after coming to the Sanctuary, he never let that get him down. Only once did I see him ever be anything but happy and that was when Lightening tried to steal Zeke away as best friend. Otherwise, Bo has always been happy.

We would all benefit from taking a page from Bo's Book of Life and to read and understand more on how to look at the world differently.

I know that I do not forgive nor do I ever forget a wrong done to me. I need to be like Bo and simply let it go. Its' in the past and I need to walk way from it because there is more and much better coming. And that which is coming, shall make me happy. I come from a long line of worriers so simply being happy is a bit harder to do but I want to follow in Bo's foot steps and simply be happy.

So in honor of Bo, I'm going to spend the month of March showing you all what makes me happy. I'm sure some days will be difficult but even the simplest things can and should make me happy. In a world full of "stuff" and "gadgets" sometimes it's the simple things like a sunset or a soft breeze that really makes one happy.

So here's to you Bo on making sure I am happy.

Thank you for teaching me these two very important life lessons.
Love you always Bo

Goodbye Bo

I've struggled to write this post all week. I've composed it a million times in my head but when it comes right down to putting thoughts on paper (or online for that matter), I just couldn't bring myself to do it until now.

We lost Bo Monday.

It is odd how timing all came to play into the decision. I've been waiting for Bo to give me the sign he was ready and he hadn't ever given that sign. When I was in to the vets on Friday with Farley (he wasn't feeling well and I didn't want to go into the weekend with a sick dog). The vet informed me that starting March 1st (today), rendering services will no longer pick up animals that have been humanely euthanized (even the sedative used to castrate, which is the second sedative when euthanizing) is not allowed.

I spent Friday night in a tizzy with much crying. Bo still hadn't given me the sign he was ready so how could I even though he's going downhill? I did weigh the options all day Saturday and the thoughts sat very heavy on my heart and mind. If I chose to put him down, was I ending his life too early but if I waited would he go down? This time of year is a terrible time to have a horse go down. We don't have the option to bury. I certainly cannot afford to hire a backhoe or excavator to bury a horse.

We are a Sanctuary that focuses on old horses. Since losing my first horse February 25, 2007, we have lost 17 horses (counting Bo). That's 17 horses in 11 years. Along with that, we've lost 3 dogs, and a number of two-legged family members in that time frame. I have not had a year in 11 years where I have not lost someone I've loved (either two legged or four). It's a hard loss when I think about it. We focus on the senior horses so we are going to have more come through our doors and not stay for very long. It's a more common occurrence so when the vet told me of the news, I became worried. This changes everything for us.

Sunday morning I checked in on Bo and I knew. He gave me the sign he was ready. Maybe he'd been giving me the sign all along and I was too blinded to see it but it was very clear Sunday morning. Had I had the opportunity, I would have let him go right then. His hips were bothering him too much for him to feel comfortable. Even in the evening when he came in for his grain, he did not let out his gigantic whinny to show his excitement for supper. So he was clearly giving me the sign that I needed to let go. I'm sure he'd given me the sign many times before but I was too blinded what I don't know but I was too blinded to let go. I guess I was selfish in wanting to keep him around. Fate seems to have played him a cruel hand at life even if he didn't see it that way.

So on Monday, I called the vet to make arrangements. Even though later this week would be much nicer, the opportunity for us to have the rendering service take him was limited to three short days and Monday was the nicest day. I wanted him to have a warm day, even if he couldn't have grass in his belly, I wanted sun on his back when he went.

He hated the vet, he hated needles so I was worried. Because of his heart failure, it didn't take long and he was gone within a blink of an eye.

I've noticed it twice now when having to lose horses. I'd stopped to get gas before heading to the vet and the world seemed too loud. It's fairly quiet at the Sanctuary. It's the way I want to keep it so that there's very little commotion and stress for the horses. But the real world seemed all too loud Monday morning. I had that same experience when I had to take Rabbit in to the vet as well. I wanted the world to come to a stop and for everything to be quiet.

The place doesn't seem right without Bo standing at the gate waiting for me. In the evenings, I sneak into the barn thinking Bo will hear me and then realize that he's not here. On that Monday morning, I'd let Bo out to wander because I'd do that for him every once in a while. Even his hoof prints in the snow are slowly melting away and I have no physical reminder of him.

I have lost others but for some reason Bo had a strong old on my heart...and still does. Sometimes you choose your horse and other times, they choose you.

Goodbye my sweet, sweet Bo. Until we meet again.

Born - 2001
March 12, 2011 - February 26, 2017