Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I've had a good couple of days with Joseph, going way back to basics and finding holes.  I have spent every waking moment thinking about this horse for the past couple weeks and I've decided to offer him for reassignment through the BLM.  I don't have his title yet, and that could work in his favor, keeping him protected for a year after a new adopter takes him on.  I'm not holding my breath though, I don't think there is anyone out there who wants to take on a horse like this.  I love him, and I don't even want to mess with it.  But we'll see.  Some people love a challenge.  I have high hopes that I'm just not his person and there is someone out there who will make him happy, and he'll settle into domestic life for them.

Scout and I had a good walk yesterday too.  He's such a goof.  And it's such a breath of fresh air to play with a horse who's begging for attention rather than running away.  I tried to talk John into giving him to me (again) but he insists he will ride him if we can ride together.  Hmmm.  Maybe he will, if I ever have a good horse to ride.

My posts may become even more sporadic as I slowly work my way through this crisis, and wait to feel well enough to saddle up and ride again.  I will be riding Scout once I'm sure I can sit in a saddle without hurting too bad.  And I'll continue messing with Joseph.  But I really hope his human will wander into his life sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Checking in

Bob is up and about, and I think he's not laying down at all for fear he won't be able to get up.  :(  He's also very sad to be alone, but I can't put anyone in with him.  But he's darn cute, and I love to hear them call back and forth to each other with their foghorn voices.  I'm going to try to get through my work week before I have to make any decisions.  We'll keep a close eye on him.

I gave in and went to get some x-rays of my hip today.  No bone chips or anything but there is evidence of chronic inflammation.  Bone thickening?  I'm confused.  He didn't show me the x-rays.  I'll go talk to my regular doctor about it at some point.  If I could get it treated or do physical therapy so I could ride more comfortably, that would be awesome.  This hip has been bad for a long time now, but of course now it's much worse.  Glad to know I don't have to baby it and I can just move on!  I have some stretches I'm supposed to do.

I'm unstable on rough ground, so I've just been petting the horses when I feed, and that's about it.  They're cool with that. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Can I have a weekend do-over please?

Bob was found down again.  Damn it.  This time he did eventually manage to get up with a lot of pressure from Joseph.  My daughter saw him struggling and came to get me, and by the time I got out there he was up.  Looks like he'd been down and trying for a while though.  I'm sad.  I don't know what else to do. I did take Joseph out, so nobody can bother Bob now, but he's not going to be happy all alone.

Joseph bucked me off.  I guess it was bound to happen.  He just got nervous, tensed suddenly, which scared him even more, and off he went.  I don't really know exactly how it all played out but I hit my head pretty hard.  I think, based on what my son saw, that I'm lucky he didn't step on my head or flip over.  Yay.  My left leg isn't working right, but it's just an exacerbation of a previous problem.  I'm hoping my chiropractor can work out the cramp that's keeping me from lifting my knee.

Dang it all.  Well, there you go.  That was Saturday, and this is Monday.  I won't be getting back on anytime soon, if ever.  We have a lot of groundwork to do and he has to prove he can handle stress a little better than this.  I'm not going to risk my life riding an explosive horse.  But maybe he'll get through it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A quick hello

Happy Donkeys:

Nosey Scout:

Icy drink:

Handsome boy:
Bob is still doing well.  I was worried because I didn't hear him bray for a while, but he was hollering for his buddies yesterday and today.  I brought everyone together for a while after he had his breakfast, and I think he appreciated that, although he was slow to join the group.

It was nice to have the sun back after so much wind and rain!  I hope this weather lasts a little while.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bob's doing well this morning.

Bob was able to get up by himself this morning, although it was a little difficult.  He's had a vet exam and we looked at his bloodwork.  Overall he looks pretty good.  We're going to treat it like arthritis and see if he improves.  I hope that's all it is!  Wouldn't that be wonderful!

Saturday, January 11, 2014


When I went to feed tonight Bob didn't come out to eat.  He was lying down in one of the grain bins (14' diameter, very small door, but at least dry inside and with good footing - if it wasn't for that I don't think this would have ended as well).  He couldn't get up.  We tried pulling and pushing, and he tried hard too, and was breathing pretty heavily.  I don't know what I would have done without John's help.  We finally got him up with me hauling on his halter and John hauling on a butt rope.  I took him to the barn and bedded him down with feed and water.  There's no sign that he's sick or colicky, he just couldn't get up.  I hope he doesn't continue this way.  I'll know more in the morning, but for now I'm so glad this wasn't his final night!  I can't tell you how physically and emotionally difficult it is to try to get a huge animal up on a dark and stormy night.  Good old Bob.  I think these donkeys are a little piece of heaven, all full of love.  What a gift they are.

Random thoughts

Joseph loves rose hips
We were discussing tattoos today.  Sometimes I think it might be fun to get a tattoo, but I've never been able to think of what it would be.  John said he was surprised I didn't get a tattoo of Tonka's brand.  A lot of people do.  But to me, as much as I love to see a branded mustang, and I think it's a mark of distinction in some ways, I also think it's a mark of oppression.  Branding myself with the mark of ownership by the US government isn't really something I think I would do. I guess I'm torn.  Because, by being taken in by the US government, the horses are saved, and some go on to have meaningful lives.  Before we had this system, the horses were junk, rounded up brutally and canned.  So the brand is a symbol of hope, in that way.  I think my problem has been with the first symbol in the brand, the sign of  US ownership.  I didn't want to mark myself with a sign of ownership.  But now that I think about it, it was the PEOPLE of our country who passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro act of 1971.  And that symbol is the mark of people who care, placed on the horse to protect it.  Wow, I just turned my opinion around on that one.  Thanks for listening to my babbling as I thought that through.  (Which isn't to say I've decided to get a tattoo.)

In other thoughts, recently Liam was holding Bella and tried to move out into a different area of the pasture to get away from Scout and Joseph.  Scout was tearing around, thinking we were taking his mama away, and Joseph was slowly and deliberately trying not to be caught.  Bella is their lodestone, she is the center of their lives, so of course Liam couldn't get out of the middle of it.  I explained to him that they both wanted to be with her, and he thought it was because she was the herd boss.  I said no, Joseph is the herd boss.  He can move any of them off their feed with just a dirty look.  But Bella is the one they love, so if she moves away, they follow.  I told him to think about that.  It's not the tough one, possibly a bully (although Joseph is decidedly NOT a bully) who brings them together, it's the loving one.  And Bella is definitely the loving mother type, but she also doesn't take crap off of anyone.  She does pick her battles though. She shares feed with anyone but the donkeys, she puts up with Scout doing some dorky crap, she adores Joseph but she doesn't let him take liberties.  Food for thought, and I am definitely not the first person to observe it.  Mark Rashid writes more clearly and specifically about it than I have here.

Having a magnet like Bella can definitely work to a person's advantage.  When Joseph is being evasive, I know he won't go far before he curves back toward her, so I use that, asking him to move his feet away, until (usually after about 30 seconds) he decides it's not worth it and comes to me.  If all three of them are keyed up and running, I know that once I catch Bella the rest will come after.  And she is usually quite easy to catch, all I have to do is ask her to come.

The donkeys don't really fit into horsey psychology.  They just love everyone.  Especially people, and especially if they can get a good scratching or, best of all, a treat. 

As I use the word "love" so much, I am thinking to myself there are a lot of people out there, including some horse lovers, who would say horses (and donkeys) can't love.  I totally disagree.  But that's okay.  They probably do witness the same emotion in them that I do, and call it by another name.  Habit, or attachment, or something of the sort.  I suppose it would make it easier to detach oneself from them, to buy and sell and separate, as if the horses don't care.  I'm not saying a person shouldn't buy or sell horses, I know they do adapt & form new bonds, but I think they do have feelings about it too.

Enough of all that. I'm going to go enjoy my day of enforced insideness (howling winds and deluge out there) by cleaning tack and getting my house more livable.  Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

I am haunted by a story I heard today about a horse that I met last summer who recently starved to death, and the two that are still there. Honestly I think it's a case of ignorance, because they seem like decent people.  They've been given instructions on how to care for the remaining two horses.  But I really want to go take one of those mares, if they're still giving them away.  I wish I could afford to help the horses who give me goosebumps.  This mare is a kids' horse, one of those babysitter types, and Liam could use a mount on our trip this summer.

Oh well...  Wishes aren't horses.  I've been a bit down today, and dwelling on this isn't helping...

On the up side of things, we finally got our propane delivery!  I don't know what took them so long.  I can wash clothes and do dishes and I don't have to shower at someone else's house!  Yay!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

New Plan

So it turns out the route I had hoped to travel on the Nez Perce trail doesn't have any easily accessible water, and little grazing.  That made me sad.  BUT then we heard talk of another place near there that is absolutely breathtaking according to the Forest Service Ranger my sister talked to.

I looked up the names of some of the landmarks along the way and this is what I found:

I'm getting excited again!

More Goofing Around

First I should mention that Scout is fine.  I guess he just wasn't hungry the other day.

He's a pretty cute booger.

But he's kind of a nosy pain in the arse.

He would like you to admire his pretty forelock.

Sometimes I wonder if all my goofing around with the horses is really all that productive.  I hope it is.  I know we're building a relationship, so that's good.  I just wish the footing was right for doing more in the way of training.  I could probably get the horse trailer up the driveway right now to haul to an arena, but I don't really feel like it.  The arena across the way is filled with people who ride fast, use more rein, more spur, and cause a lot more anxiety and anger in their horses than I like to see.  Yuck.  So we'll keep plugging away, slowly, on the icy ground. 

I was sitting there visiting the geldings when Joseph decided to eat my glove.  I've been in this situation a couple times before, and I have to say a horse can suck something up into their mouth lightning fast.

Luckily though, this time ended well.  I said, "Hey!" and he dropped it.

He says it smells like treats, but it sure doesn't taste like treats.

"Who, me?  Can't you see I'm innocent?"
He's doing pretty well with the saddle.  He's still hesitant about me putting it on, so I threw it up there several times from each side.  And he still thinks about backing up when I tighten the cinch, but it's become more like he's just leaning backward.  We took a little walk through the pasture to get a drink, and hung out at the trough for a while.  Scout started beating up Pedro so we had to chase them around until I could separate them.  Joseph didn't like that.  Then we went out of the pasture and did some very slow circles.  He didn't like that either and became very tense but eventually he settled into it.  Then we worked on backing off of halter pressure, nicely, with his head down and not pushing into the pressure as we stopped.

Today we'll do more of the same.  I might even warm up the bit and bridle him.  I think we could work up to doing some more ground driving, even with the slick footing.

Our weather here is mild and balmy compared to the rest of the country right now, and I'm especially thankful for that because we've run out of propane again.  I don't know how it goes so fast.  Hopefully more will be delivered today.  It's rough not being able to cook, do dishes, or wash clothes.  We have some little electric radiators to keep us warm.  I think we'll continue to use those even after the propane is filled.  $600  to heat the house for a month is WAY too much. 

Happy Trails!  And stay warm!

Sunday, January 05, 2014


I had the funniest experience yesterday.  I was going out to unsaddle Joseph, who had been wearing the saddle in the pasture, and I forgot a halter.  I didn't want to carry the saddle all the way back from BFE, so I decided to see if I could call them in.  They considered me, then went back to grazing.  I yelled "Treat!" and Bella's head shot up.  Her white blaze was easy to see against the backdrop of dark green pine trees.  Joseph was still considering.  I yelled, "Treat!" a couple more times, and each time Bella would lift her head and look at me.  Finally it was Joseph who took the first steps, and then the whole herd came in.  Of course they got treats for being so good.

Earlier in the day I had saddled Joseph and turned him loose to eat, roam, play, or whatever.  At first he stood like a statue right where I left him, but when I went to scoop out their supplement into their buckets, he came to the fence to wait eagerly for his.  No bucking (also no back cinch though).  There is some ice in places, so I'm glad he kept his cool.

Then I decided to head to the barn, halfway across the property, to get more treats.  Joseph followed!  I almost lost him when it looked like nobody else was going to come, but then Bella fell in line, and of course everyone follows Bella.  I was also headed in the direction of the trough, and they were thirsty, so that was probably most of the motivation, but it felt good being their leader.  :)

This morning I had a lovely breakfast with Joseph.  I had curried everyone and fed supplements, and I decided to sit in Joseph's hay.  He nuzzled and sniffed, messed with my hat, and ate the hay under my butt even though there was plenty I wasn't sitting on.  At first he wasn't too keen on me petting him, so I conscientiously kept my hands to myself, but eventually I could encircle his head with my arms, rub his ears, and give him a good scratching on his neck and chest.  What a sweetheart.

Bob also insisted on a good ear-scritching, which is still such an honor because he used to be afraid to have his ears handled.  Pedro gave me jealous dirty looks from a distance.  Bella ate hay (it's all about food with her).  Scout napped.  I think maybe he's not feeling well.  He's been irritable lately, which isn't really like him, and it definitely isn't like him to stand around and sleep while everyone else is eating.  Weird.  I'll keep an eye on him.

I think I'll go saddle my horse again.  :)