Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thanks Again and Again!!

I'm proud to receive this award from my friends, Nuzzling Muzzles and M.C. Valada at Out of the Darkroom! It's an honor to be in the company of the other award recipients, and I'd like to pass it along to some more of my talented and wise fellow bloggers:

Camera Obscura - Billie lives a life of grace. I enjoy visiting her to find out what she's thinking and doing.

Horsey Therapist - LJB is a wise and generous person who knows a great deal about horses and I always welcome her views.

Pony Girl Rides Again
- Pony Girl and her horse, My Boy, are among my favorite places to enjoy good times in the blogosphere.

Cliffy's Mom's Blog - Nancy is a wonderful artist, and takes excellent care of her horses and her new dog.

Janet Roper - Janet is an animal communicator and a warm-hearted soul.

Strawberry Lane & Simply Marvelous - Two great blogs by one great person

To my friends that I've just tagged, pick up the award by copying it from here, paste it to your blog, put a link back to this one, and pass on the award and instructions to some of your friends by letting them know about it. It's like a chain letter, but don't hold it against me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Of Horses & Butterflies

We’re back at home after a great trip to New York City. It was so much fun to introduce our 12 year old friend to the Big Apple for the first time. She was knocked out by it. We went to the Museum of Natural History to see “The Horse” exhibit. The "painted ponies" standing outside were beautiful. When you buy your ticket, they give you an appointment time to go into the exhibit . We had to wander around for an hour before we were scheduled to enter. Fortunately, that museum is so amazing that you could wander for days and not see it all. Once we got into “The Horse”, we waltzed through from beginning to end in ten minutes. It was a disappointment. I insisted that we walk back and forth through it two more times in case I missed something wonderful. It was uninspired, I’m sorry to say.

The rest of the city did not disappoint us. At one point, we walked through Times Square, which was a challenge with two cute young girls tightly in tow. The crowds were intense. I have to admit that I was happy to come home to our quiet country haven.

The girls bought butterfly masks, so yesterday, they took a group photo with Siete. Our young guest told her mother that she thought that having horses was like having extra children. She’s decided that she’s going to stick to owning dogs and cats because they are less work. I reminded her that the reason I have horses is that they are good for my soul. I don’t think she knew what I was talking about, but my daughter did.

The earthquake in Los Angeles reminded me of how glad I am to live on the East Coast. I am relieved that all my friends and family are safe today in California. We will never forget the big Northridge quake, since we lived about 10 miles from the epicenter. I just went outside and said thank you to Mother Earth for being solid under my feet.

When I was in New York, I kept thinking about one of my favorite quotes from
E.B. White:

“New York can destroy an individual or it can fulfill him, depending a good deal on luck. No one should come to New York unless he is willing to be lucky.”

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Life Goes On

The car needs a new distributor. It’s costly, but not so bad that we have to get a new car. Whew! They can’t get the part and fix it until this coming Wednesday. We’ve got a lot going on, so it’s challenging to find ways to get along until then. My husband was out of town until last night, but my neighbor kindly ferried us around. Yesterday, she dropped me, my daughter and our young visiting friend at the amusement park.

The park was celebrating its 100th anniversary. It started as a place that rented boats to go fishing on the lake. For fifty cents, you got a stall for your horse and hay and a boat for the day. As it became more popular, they added a restaurant and then the rides. It still has a charming, old fashioned feel that I rarely see these days. Besides the classic rides like the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Bummer Cars, there's also a beach. It reminds me of when I was a kid. Whenever I find places like this, I enjoy taking my duaghter so she will have these memories.

The weather was fabulous. The kids had a marvelous time. I took pictures non-stop to record the fun. While we were gone, my mother fed the horses and actually remembered everything I told her to do. We came home tired and happy, and Silk was waiting anxiously at the gate for me. As soon as she saw me walk across the lawn, she let out a big sigh and wandered back into her stall.

Today, even though it’s raining, I’m taking the girls to New York City to the Museum of Natural History to see the exhibit called “The Horse”. We’re very excited. Lack of horsepower isn’t going to slow us down. Life goes on.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Stress-o-meter

It’s a gorgeous day, sunny and the perfect temperature. The horses are happy grazing on grass after two days of heavy rain. Unfortunately, I’m so tired and stressed out that I’m having a hard time enjoying anything right now. My daughter’s best friend from Virginia is visiting us. Her mother and I each drove half way to meet in the middle on Wednesday. It was very hard driving, with heavy rain and thunderstorms, but we made it home safely. Then, yesterday, as I drove around the corner from my house with the girls, my car broke down. Thankfully, it was here and not out on the highway. My mechanic is on vacation, and the boys at his shop are so busy that they haven’t even had time to look at the car to figure out what’s wrong. Thus, I am fidgeting and stressing big time as I wait for them to call and tell me something.

The children are entertaining themselves and have a wonderful time. The horses both feel better. Siete’s hoof abscess is healed, although I think she’s favoring her back right foot now. I have a tendency, you may have noticed, to worry about my horses as a way of distracting me from other problems in my life. Silk doesn’t seem to be itching, and her mane and coat are growing in normally again. We’ve got another two weeks on medication, and I’m hoping that the itching won’t start up again when we stop the steroids.

I’m about an 8 on the “stress-o-meter”, waiting for the phone to ring. If I call the mechanics’ again, they’re going to yell at me. Looking for some comfort, I turn to the Persian poet, Rumi:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture

Still treat each guest honorably,
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

From across the Atlantic ocean, in Poland, my friend, Ewa, was sitting in her beautiful garden and she tagged me for a game. I am supposed to tell you 6 things about myself that you probably don’t know.

So, I will tell you that:

1. I love raspberries. The wild raspberries that I cultivate around our property are just about ready for picking. I can’t wait. Raspberry pancakes, muffins, just plain raspberries with vanilla yogurt. Yum.

2. I always have vases of flowers in my house. My favorites are peonies, lilacs and lilies of the valley. I am also crazy about orchids. My phalaenopsis orchids just stopped blooming and every time I think about how long I’m going to have to wait until they flower again, I’m tempted to get a new one. My passion for phalaenopsis began over 25 years ago when I videotaped Amado and Maria Vazquez and their son, George. They own Zuma Canyon Orchids, located just above Mailbu, and they ship plants around the world.

3. All I want to eat right now is mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and basil fresh from the garden with balsamic vinegar and olive oil . I could eat it for every meal. In fact, I pretty much do. We can get fresh mozzarella at our local farm stand, and it practically melts in your mouth.

4. I am an only child, so I learned years ago to enjoy being alone. I don’t get enough time by myself these days because our house is always full of family. I also know that this will pass, as my daughter grows up, so I’m trying to enjoy the chaos. Luckily, I can always escape to the barn.

5. My idea of a perfect evening is to stay at home with my husband and daughter, with a fire in the fireplace, a good book and some music playing.

6. I’ve traveled all over the world, and while there are lots of wonderful cities, New York City is my favorite. I love the energy and the mix of so many different kinds of people. Next weekend, I have the pleasure of taking my daughter and a friend of hers, whom has never been there, and I know that we’re going to have a great time.

Okay, now I’m going to tag some of you from other parts of the world. No pressure, but if you want to play, just do what I did and tag some of your friends.

Gecko in Australia

Esther Garvi (aka Ishtar) in Niger, Africa

Nor'dzin at Ceffylau in Wales

Pony Girl way out West

Callie at Midwest Horse in Wisconsin

Strawberry Lane in California

The 7MSN in New Mexico

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hoof Abscess Season

Here we go again. On Wednesday, my husband and I were “hand grazing” the horses on the thickest, most delicious grass which grows just on the other side of the fence from the pasture. It’s the “grass is always greener” grass. One minute, Siete was walking normally. The next, she was lame on her left front leg.

I cleaned her hoof and examined it but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. So, I hosed the leg with cold water, hoping that she just twisted something. She could stand on it and walk, but was obviously favoring it. When I came out to the barn yesterday morning, she was definitely limping. Fortunately, the farrier was coming to trim their feet. I called the vet, and she predicted it was a hoof abscess. Correct. The farrier found one right in the middle of her foot and drained it. Previously, in Virginia and here, last year, the abscesses were on her back feet near the hoof wall. We’re guessing that she might have caught a little rock in her hoof this time. July is traditionally the season for Siete to have a hoof abscess.

Last summer, the vet and the farrier wondered if it wasn’t part of the Lyme Disease symptoms. I did mention to both of them yesterday that I’ve been wondering if she was having another bout of Lymes. I am very frustrated by the lack of information about this disease. If there’s a vaccine for dogs, why can’t they make one for horses? As with humans, once an animal has had Lyme Disease, all kinds of weird, systemic problems continue to occur off and on.

Anyway, I started the drill for healing a hoof abscess. It’s easier since it’s her front foot. We soaked it in some warm water with Epson salts. I used a short feed bowl instead of a bucket because it’s easier for her to stand in it. Then, I filled a Davis medicine boot with this gooey green stuff called Equi-Phar MG-60. It’s Epson Salts and methyl saliylate. Siete is being very good about wearing the boot. She had another soak last night and one this morning. She seems to be feeling so much better. It may be to my advantage that the temperature soared into the 90’s. Neither horse wants to do anything except stand in front of the fan.

I’m going to pack the hoof with the green goo and wrap it in a diaper taped with duct tape today to see if it’s less uncomfortable than wearing that clunky, heavy boot. Once she seems to be getting better, I’ll switch to Ichthammol Ointment. It fills up the hole and keeps the hoof from getting re-infected. Does it sound like I’ve done this a few times before?

The funny part about all this is that I never got annoyed. I didn’t complain or think, “Oh great! I needed this like a hole in the head!” I was grateful that the problem was only a hoof abscess. I am so pleased that my horse behaved like an angel for the farrier as he dug it out. She even stood quietly while he trimmed the other three feet since the pressure on the left front was relieved.

This kind of malady is just part of caring for a horse. Anyone who has ever considered owning a horse needs to know that these kind of things happen all the time, usually when it’s most inconvenient. Making Siete comfortable and healing her hoof is at the top of my list right now. Washing Silk and treating her itch is still up there too. Whatever happened to riding and relaxing this summer?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Help Save the Wild Horses

I’ve been getting a lot of emails this week from organizations who are trying to save America’s wild horses. In case you aren’t aware, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that it intends to euthanize thousands of healthy wild horses because it is too costly to feed and care for them.

As part of its wild horse management program, for the past few years, the BLM has been rounding up wild horses and keeping them in private, long-term holding facilities. Now, they have decided that it’s too expensive. Groups like the ASPCA are suggesting that they reopen additional land for horses and increase the contraception programs that have been proven to be safe and effective.

The Cloud Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving wild horses on public lands including the Pryor Mountain herd in Montana, issued an urgent statement. They say that since 2000, the BLM has conducted massive round-ups, removing over 75,000 wild horses from the range, bringing the wild mustang population to the brink of extinction. They believe that there are few wild horse herds large enough to maintain their long-term viability.

In the past years, when the BLM requested “kill authority”, Congress placed protective language in each Appropriations Bill, preventing them from massively killing off wild horses. Unfortunately, in late 2006, U.S. Senator Conrad Burns of Montana slipped in a rider that took out the protective wording. The U.S. House of Representatives quickly passed a bill HR 249, to reinstate the protections in the Wild Horse and Burro Act. The bill stalled in the Senate in 2007, and has not passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Now, the BLM announced that they will decide whether they will begin killing the wild horses in September.

To learn more, go to:
Return to Freedom Sanctuary
The Cloud Foundation

To speak out:
Call the BLM at 1-800-710-7597 or email
Go to the ASPCA website and download a letter to your Congress person:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Horsey Spa

Unexpectedly, I shared a moment with Silk yesterday that reminded me of how lucky I am to have such a wonderful horse.

Since Silk began her battle with the “sweet itch”, she gets down in the dirt at least once or twice a day and rubs her belly to get some relief. She’s always loved to roll in the dirt, so part of this rhythmic back and forth rooting is due to habit. For a while, I was really worried because she was getting so raw that I was afraid she’d get an infection. Now, with the medication she’s taking, the itch is getting under control, but she’s still going down in the dust bowl she’s created in the pasture.

I haven’t wanted to bathe her too much with soap because that will only lead to dryness and more irritation. At the same time, I continue to rinse her off every day just to try to keep her belly and the base of her mane and the area up around her female parts cleaned off. We’ve developed this fun bathing ritual that brings us closer together.

I wrap the lead rope loosely around the top of one of the fence posts, and Silk stands in the grass between the barn and the pasture. While I get the sponges and hose ready, she nibbles the grass. As I begin to shower the water on her belly, she lifts her head up and stretches her neck out like a giraffe, wiggling her lips with pleasure. I gently sponge off the dirt. Some days, she lifts her back leg up in the air so I can rub up inside in the nether regions. Other times, she lets out a little squeal to let me know that it’s ticklish or too sensitive. I always tell her that it’s her choice, and if she doesn’t want me to touch her up there right now, I won’t. This was one of the days when it didn’t feel good. I came around to her head to let her know that we weren’t going to do anything back there. She put her nose gently up against my face, and I swear she was trying to kiss me. Then, she buried her head in the space between my arm and my chest next to my heart and stood very still. It made me fall in love with my horse all over again.

Silk hated to do any bathing or grooming when I first bought her. Every time I touched her, she was afraid and braced herself. She would even spook while I brushed her. For many years, as a show horse, her mane had been picked and braided. If she got dirty, people got mad at her. She was readied for shows without any concern about whether it felt good or not to her. Nobody ever cared about what Silk liked. I think that’s why we both particularly enjoy our “horsey spa treatments”. If she could purr like a kitty, she would. It makes me so happy to see her happy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Not So Dumb Bunny

About a month ago, I noticed a tiny baby bunny sitting next to our manure pile. We’ve got several cats that regularly prowl around the perimeter of the barn, so I was worried about the little guy. The next morning, he was gone, but I saw him again a few days later in the front corral. I tried to chase him out before I opened the stall doors because I didn’t want him to get stepped on by the girls.

I discovered that the bunny has made his home in the day lilies next to the barn. It’s interesting that day lilies are very toxic to cats. I wonder if the bunny knows that. One neighbor’s cat, named Elroy, is a particularly skilled and aggressive hunter. Earlier this week, I came upon him crouched in the drainage ditch in front of the day lilies. I shooed him away and told the bunny to be careful. I’m sure the little fellow was hiding in that jungle of long skinny leaves.

When we lived in Virginia, we rescued a baby bunny from the clutches of a cat. My daughter called our vet, who referred us to “the bunny lady”. We drove to a house in a nearby subdivision where this woman had a garage full of cages of bunnies she was trying to save. She told me that bunnies are so timid that they often just drop dead from fright. Sometimes, she would nurse a bunny for weeks, and then it would startle when she came in to feed it and have a heart attack. I’ll never forget coming home a day later and finding yet another bunny sprawled out on its side under our trampoline. Reluctant to have to tell my daughter about this new tragedy, I walked away from the window. When I finally went out in the backyard to dispose of the poor animal, the bunny was sitting up happily munching on clover. A friend explained to me that the bunnies will eat so much clover that they “swoon”. After fainting and digesting, they wake up and go back to eat some more.

“That’s really stupid,” I said.
“Haven’t you ever heard of the term ‘dumb bunny’?” she asked.

Well, I’m here to tell you that there are some smart bunnies in this world. As I walked by the corral in back of the barn this morning, I saw Elroy, the cat, stalking the bunny. Siete was standing in the corral trying to stick her nose through the fence to eat the grass on the other side. Without hesitation, the bunny hopped over into the corral right next to the horse.

All of us froze. The cat stared at the bunny. Siete brought her head up and regarded the two creatures curiously. I stood holding my breath and praying that my horse wouldn’t whirl around and squish the little guy. Then, the bunny brought his front paws up to his mouth and started nonchalantly cleaning them. Siete stuck her head back under the fence to reach for more grass. I felt the two prey animals communicate clearly with each other. Siete told the bunny, “Don’t worry. I got your back.” It was the same as when I’ve watched Silk stand protectively under the baby birds in their nest in the rafters of her stall. Elroy knows better than to go anywhere near the horses, so he wandered off in search of an easier victim. Taking his own sweet time, the bunny hopped out of the corral and back into the day lilies.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Using the "R" Word

I looked up the definition of “responsible” in the dictionary today. There were several entries, but the ones that resonated with me were: 1) being accountable for something within one’s power, control or management 2) having a capacity for moral decisions and being capable of rational thought or action 3) reliable or dependable.

The reason I was considering the meaning of “responsible” was because I was thinking about how we are all being forced to really tighten our belts. The reality of our country’s economic situation is that no matter which guy is elected as president, things won’t be improving much over the next two years. Let’s face it, they could get worse. So, as a horse owner, I need to stop and seriously look at how costs are rising and how I plan to take care of these two expensive darlings that live in my backyard. I’m only hoping that more people who have taken on a responsibility to care for horses are doing the same.

I read a statistic recently in the Wall Street Journal that of the two million Americans who own horses, one third of them have a household income of less than $50,000. Every time I go to the feed store, the cost of grain seems to have gone up another couple of dollars. We all know what’s happened to the price of hay and the lack of it. I’ve been really taking a long hard look at what it’s going to take to weather this economic storm.

I came up with three things that I can do, starting right now. 1) I can prepare for what I know is coming. I always say I will, but life and all its endless expenses keeps flooding along. There are certain big costs, like buying hay in September for the winter and vaccinating in the Fall, that I’m saving for now. 2) I can use less. I’ve cut back a lot on the shavings I put in the stalls and how often I add them. Now that the horses have grass to eat, I can conserve on grain and hay. 3) I can stop myself before I automatically do what I've been doing all these years to question why and how I do it just to see if there’s a way to cut the cost without hurting their health and wellbeing.

“Hello, Money Pit!” my mother-in-law greets my horses when she comes to visit. My own mother often lectures me about all the other things I could afford to do if I didn’t have Silk and Siete. There are plenty of people who know me that think I’m crazy to spend my money on horses. I’ve been fortunate to own them for over a decade now, and I intend to keep them safe and happy for the rest of their lives. Enough said.

Let’s share some tips about how we’re able to be more economical about caring for our horses.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Whew! It's Better

Things are better today. Horses are frisky, and the breeze is blowing. The insects have momentarily gone wherever they go when the humidity dies down. I haven’t been able to bring myself to write anything for the last few days because it was so unbearably hot and miserable around here. Yesterday, I lost count of how many times I hosed off the girls. I just knew I had to grit my teeth and push on through, even though every person and animal in my life was so cranky.

I am very grateful that I have a smart, kind vet. After discussing Silk’s allergic reactions, we came up with a course of treatment. We started her on prednisolone for a short time to just break the itch cycle, since it’s systemic and has gotten so severe. I’ve ordered all kinds of salves, herbs, belly bands for fly sheets and other good suggestions that I’ve received from so many of you. I really appreciate your help and concern. I’m exploring homeopathic remedies and local practitioners. Best of all, after only four doses of medication, Silk is so much better.

I explained to my horse that she was going to have to take a lot of these little pills to make things better and asked her to not make it difficult for me. After mixing the pills with molasses, I dumped them in her feed and kept my fingers crossed that she’d eat them. She did without any hesitation. Next time I fed them to her, I reminded her that these are going to be what makes her stop itching. She just wolfed them right down. Thank God.

There’s a book, “Butterflies on a Sea Wind”, written by Anne Rudloe, that was given to me by a friend. Interestingly, Linda Kohanov also mentions it in “Way of the Horse”. Rudloe says, “Life is about being whole regardless of what happens. It’s about a deep well-being that persists though we might not be comfortable at the moment.” I knew, even in the worst part of yesterday, that if I just put my head down and kept moving forward, things would get better. There will be bad times again. Things could even get worse. Really, other than being annoying and uncomfortable, we're all basically fine. This week-end the forecast calls for more of this difficult hot weather. Hey, it’s only weather. I laugh at my friends who sit in their air-conditioned offices and homes and complain non-stop about it. Then, I go out and muck the barn, hose the horses, make sure they are drinking water and carry on.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Itch Update

I want to thank all of you who wrote such helpful suggestions and patted me on my blog with a comforting “there, there”. The swelling in my hand is slowly going down. The itching is still intense. I don’t know if it’s the prednisone or this homeopathic medicine I’m also taking called ledum palustre. I know that shortly after taking the ledum palustre for the first time around noon, I noticed that I wasn’t itching, my hand stopped throbbing and that I could sort of see my knuckles. I still am keeping a 3-M cold pack wrapped around my hand most of the time.

Despite my clumsy right paw, I was able to wash Silk today. She is a mess, still losing hair on her face, belly and along the base of her mane. Inside the back of her legs is really itchy too. I slather her with Vaseline and Swat, so she’s a greaseball. Then, she gets out in the pasture and rolls in the dirt, and I have to start all over again. I gave up on the organic fly spray and moved on to Tri-tech, which helped dramatically. I used to use it on her, but it gave me and Siete hives. I’m wondering if stopping the serious insecticide was what brought on all her misery to begin with. I’m giving her hydroxyzine twice a day, which definitely helps. I’m going talk to the vet tomorrow about what to do to stop this from getting any worse, since it’s definitely taken a new twist with all this sudden hair loss. I can’t even put on a fly mask and use the halter as little as possible because she gets bald spots from them.

As I soaped Silk’s belly, I thought Mother Nature must be teaching me a lesson about how horrible itching can be. There was a point this morning where I wanted to rip my skin off my hand. Realizing how my poor sweet horse has been suffering for the whole summer, I almost started crying. I can tell that she’s able to find relief after she’s been bathed and salved, but I feel so terrible when I watch her scratch her belly in the dirt.

It reminds me of something that poet Mark Nepo wrote: “Walk long enough and we all trade places…. We are always carried and surrounded by the Whole, while we take turns holding and being held, falling and getting up, listening and trying to say what matters.” Now that I have experienced what Silk has been going through, I have an even stronger determination to heal her.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Attack of the Wasps

I hope everyone is having a glorious 4th of July week-end. I had an unexpected mishap yesterday morning. I was about to feed Silk her breakfast, and as I opened the stall door, I was attacked by wasps. They stung me on my right hand, which is now so swollen that I am typing this post with my left.

I took Benadryl and some Motrin, but the swelling kept increasing overnight. My hand looks like a small water balloon. Boy, does it hurt! My husband sealed up the door, so the wasps can no longer get to the nest that they made inside it. We went on with our plans and had a dozen people over for a party last night. This morning, I was able to get to a doctor. He gave me some Prednisone and said if I hadn’t come in my hand and arm would have blown up to look like I had a boxing glove for a hand all the way up to my elbow. He warned me that next time I’m bit, I should immediately get to a doctor and get the steroids.

So, I’m going to go ice my poor hand and hope that by tomorrow, the swelling will go down. It really itches too. Now I know how poor Silk has been feeling. All I can think is thst I’m glad they bit me and not her. It’s cheaper than having to get the vet out here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Life as Usual

Wouldn’t it be great if “life as usual” was relaxing and fun? Last night as I was feeding the horses their dinner, a thunderstorm rolled in. There was lightening very close, so I ran back to the house without closing up the back windows on the stalls or filling the water buckets. It was a wild storm, with torrential rain. We could hardly see out the windows because it was coming down so hard.

Finally, there was a break before the next storm blew through. I went back out to the barn to tuck the girls in and make sure they had enough water. Did they ever! Silk’s stall flooded in the insane downpour. I didn’t have any of my trusty bags of wood pellet horse bedding. All I could do was try to pull some of the shavings and mashed wood pellets from under the water buckets where it was banked up on the side of the barn. I raked as much as I could and stomped it down to try to soak up the water. I tried to set Silk up in the back of her stall with a flake of hay, but I felt so bad to have to leave the mess until morning. All night, I heard the rain coming down, and I worried and worried.

The bedding was wet in the morning, but my horse wasn’t standing in water. I was the first one at the feed store when they opened ,and I bought some more wood pellets and shavings. Then, I spent a couple of hours digging out Silk’s stall and refreshing it with clean, dry bedding. I have to say, it looked so fluffy, I was ready to lie down in it myself when I finished. The entire time, I was well aware that my poor horse was itching herself like crazy out in the dirt patch in the pasture. She looks awful. The fly mask rubbed away the hair on her face, and the gnats are back eating her mane and her belly and under her tail.

So, after I drank a gallon of water and Silk had a short siesta in her stall, it was time for a bath. I’m lucky that she likes to get wet. It took me well over an hour to really wash her and rinse her thoroughly. Then, I dried her belly and as much as I could underneath, and I applied Vaseline to protect her from the bugs. For the base of her mane and around her ears, I decided to try this ointment called Biozide Gel that has some iodine in it. I’ve used it when the horses cut themselves, and it is really good stuff. It doesn’t sting and is both bactericidal and fungicidal. The wounds healed very quickly when I’ve tried it before. I’m hoping that the taste of the iodine won’t appeal to the gnats. Can you tell this is beginning to drive me crazy?

Silk didn’t complain at all when I locked her in her stall. I didn’t want her to roll in the dirt with all that gooey salve on her. I swear she was saying thank you to me. She’ll probably look tarred and feathered tomorrow after sleeping in the shavings. Siete was not a happy camper. I only had the energy to pick out her feet, and she got sent to bed early too tonight. My arms feel like jelly, and I’m ready to crawl up the stairs to my room and hit the hay myself. I don't want to think that this is "life as usual", but I've sure been here so many times before that I know the drill. I just wish Silk could get some relief.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Coming Back to Earth

I worked with a video crew over the weekend, and spent most of yesterday cleaning up all the details and sending off what we shot. It was a bit like falling into a time warp to find myself standing next to the camera, asking interview questions and pushing firmly but gently to keep moving so we would get all our shots. We did fall an hour behind at one point, but I was able to catch up and end the day without any overtime.

The crew came back to my house with me around six-thirty, and we relaxed for a few minutes before they hit the highway towards their home. They lived near Washington DC, so this part of New England was all new to them. I could tell that they liked it, and they were pretty amazed to see the horses in my backyard. I wanted to leap from my car and run over to hug Silk when I pulled into the driveway. I restrained myself, and chatted politely with my co-workers. It was such a relief to concretely know that I hadn’t slipped back all those years to that life where I defined myself as a TV and film producer. Those were days of no family, no animals, no green trees and flowering gardens. I am so much happier and centered and loved here in this little refuge. All day, I’d been feeling so disconnected from myself, like this world didn’t exist or I had only imagined it.

I sat on the patio and talked to the cameraman and the soundman, watching my daughter swing on the wooden swing that my husband hung from one of our trees. My horses were grazing in the pasture behind her. My dog was sleeping next to my feet. I was pleased that my husband took good care of everyone in my absence. It made me want to jump up and shout at these guys, “Do you see how lucky I am?”

Now, I’m back to dealing with my itchy Silk, whose skin is rubbed raw on her face from the fly mask. I’m worrying that Siete might be having another bout with Lyme Disease. She was cranky, and her back feet were very tender. Over the week-end, I was convinced that she was getting a hoof abscess. Yesterday, my neighbor, who is a wise and experienced horsewoman, came over to take a look. She insisted that my little horse looked perfectly fine and asked me if I was maybe transferring some of my own anxiety onto the horse.

I knew she was right. When I’m worried about things in my life that I can’t control, I often find problems to obsess about with my horses. Now that I’m done with the documentary, Siete is moving around normally and I am able to give her more attention again. On the phone yesterday, another neighbor told me that she felt sorry for me because I had so many animals to take care of every day. She asked, “Why don’t you get rid of some of them? They’re expensive and they demand so much of your time.” She just doesn’t get it. The animals are never a burden. They are what keeps me sane.