The risks are real – and not just what you think!

My work day just ended.  It is after 7:00 in the evening, and my work began before 7:00 this morning, with a short break for lunch.  I am now working from home every day, as our university system is rapidly closing campuses to slow the spread of COVID-19.  We are largely self-isolating, as my mother is in her eighties and therefore at high risk.  The animals necessitate trips to the feed store, but that will make up the bulk of any trips away from home.  The isolation will be very little burden to us, but my daily workload is proof that there is a crisis brewing.  I am writing this in the hopes of explaining it to anyone who still does not understand.

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Goodbye, little Sir Echo

If there is one thing that life with animals teaches you, it is to accept the cycles of life.  Life begins, life ends, and in between there are many difficult decisions.  Those lessons will always repeat, as your life with animals goes on – but sometimes they seem to come at an accelerated rate.  Just this month, we added a new life to our menagerie, contemplated how much longer one may hang on, and lost yet another.

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One step backward, three steps forward

With all of us finally sound and healthy, I took a day off work to make a long weekend and get some momentum with the horses.  Coffee, Roxie, and Tally are beginning to gain some fitness.  It is wonderful to see Coffee and Tally getting their carriage back.  Roxie, finally rid of the soreness in her feet, is rapidly improving her balance and carriage.  But it is Noble, once again, who is making the greatest strides – even as we experienced a brief backward step today.

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In a Split Second

It was Monday and, in the words of The Bangles, it had been a Manic Monday.  But the evening was cool, and well suited for working with the horses.  I was probably too tired, but I’d been unable to work them for so long that I was determined to get at least someone out.  Roxie was my candidate – but Noble had other ideas.  He was ignoring his snack, and talking to me as I prepared to get a horse out.  “After I do Roxie, if there’s light left, big boy,” I told him.  But he was insistent.  I looked around at everyone else peacefully munching, then back to his expectant look.  “Fine!  I’ll get you out first.”  It was probably a bad idea – but if I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t have learned just how far we’ve come.

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I’m still here!

Gardening and projects have filled the hours I could not ride.

I have not been in the saddle for over six months. One of the longest rainy seasons on record, followed by horse injuries, then my own, have created a formula for stagnation on the horse training front. It’s a formula that has repeated many times over the last six years, as I’ve struggled to return to serious riding. At times it can feel like some cosmic message that perhaps my riding days are in the past. I will admit that I have considered heeding that message many times, over those years. Yet, this year is somehow different. I am certainly frustrated at the issues we’ve been dealing with – but I’m no longer haunted by the doubts that have plagued me in previous years. This time it really just feels like an large blip in the chart of progress.

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Coffee – a photo essay

I was combing through some photos from earlier in the year, when I found this series of Coffee.  I’ve been meaning to do something with them, as they are such a clear example of how horses try to communicate with us (and I like how they portray the relationship he has with his ‘mom’).  So, just for fun, with my translations of Coffee’s ‘words’ …

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A Tale of Two Fly Masks

It’s been the same story every year.  The flies come out.  Coffee and Tally do the Cha-Cha when the fly spray touches their sensitive hides.  And Noble remembers that he’s much taller than we are, when it’s time to wear his fly mask.  Last year, in an effort to mitigate the challenges with Noble’s ‘coyness’ about his fly mask, I worked on a visual cue for him to lower his head.  It seemed to have done the trick last year, as he would politely lower his head so even my mom could get his mask over his ears.  However, this year he developed selective amnesia!

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