Friday, April 29, 2011

Birthday Princess

I woke up at one in the morning and realized that I had forgotten yesterday was Silk’s birthday. I felt so bad I almost got out of bed and ran out to the barn in the darkness. I’ve got a lot of excuses, like I had an important meeting and I got caught driving in a scary thunderstorm, but who cares. What was important was that Silk entered her 23rd year in this world, and I was so wrapped up in other things that I missed it. That’s a big sign to me that I need to slow down and pay more attention to my horses.

I was already feeling guilty about Siete. She lets me know that she wants me to do more with her, and I just haven’t had time. When I come out to the pasture, she follows me around trying to play like a puppy. I’ve been battling the mud and digging out the drainage ditch so much this week that I haven’t focused on the girls at all.

So, today is gorgeous. I apologized to Silk this morning and she let me know that she won’t care that she’s getting her special fruit salad a day late. It’s been a birthday ritual, along with a carrot cake that I always make for her two-legged family and friends, for the past 13 years. When my daughter was young, some of these horse birthday parties got pretty elaborate and we all have fond memories of them. One time, one little boy who was invited had been “grounded” by his mom. When she heard about what we were planning to do, she made a special exception for the event. “How many times in his life is going to be invited to a horse’s birthday party?” she told me. I was so glad that he came because it turned out that he had never been on a farm in his life. He still remembers it ten years later.

I’m going to stop wasting any more time berating myself or reminiscing. Got to go out with the birthday girl now and celebrate! After all, she is my favorite horse in the whole world.

Happy Birthday Silk- you look so stylish in your leopard skin fly mask.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Right Place at the Right Time

The girls are barefoot and frisky now that Spring has officially arrived. Our daffodils and forsythia are in full bloom, and the brown lawn magically turned emerald green overnight on Wednesday. All it took was a couple of warm days and some rain to flip on the growing switch.

A week ago, Silk gave me a scare. I came out at dinner time and she could hardly move her back legs. I had Johnny, our farrier, swing by in the morning to check if there were any abscesses, but he couldn’t find anything. He said she was moving more like she was 33 than 23. He suggested that it might be scratches. In the thirteen years that I’ve owned Silk, we’ve never had scratches or mud rot. On Sunday, when I was buying hay, I was lamenting to one of the farmers about Silk’s problem. “Don’t read too much into this, Victoria,” he said, “Sometimes, you’re just old.” True but I had to do something. I am a miserable, anxious wreck when SIlk isn't feeling good.

I recalled that JME posted a great explanation of what to do, so I consulted her. She recommended washing the legs with warm water, but not pulling off any of the the mud that was too crusted to fall off. Then, she said I should wrap both legs with Animalintex that I wet lightly with warm water and then use vet wrap to secure it for 12 hours. Then, wrap dry Animalintex around both legs for another 12 hours. I am happy to report that it worked perfectly. Silk tooling around just fine, back to her usual routine.

After Johnny came back this morning, trimmed the girls and removed their winter shoes, Silk was certainly not acting like she was a senior horse. We decided to leave them barefoot for now, and I’m hoping that I can pick up the rocks in the pasture often enough to let them stay that way for the summer. Since he’s been doing their feet for the last six months, I am so pleased by how much better they look and feel.

As I opened the pasture gate to let Johnny pull out in his truck, my husband called me from the driveway to help him lift an old sofa that we are taking to the dump. Once we got it into our car, I went back to the barn and let the horses back out into the pasture. I was standing next to our car, talking to my husband when Siete came charging out into the driveway, heading up towards the road. Freedom! Her mother pranced out right behind her. Luckily, some luscious grass tempted them to stop. My husband and I casually strolled over to them and each grabbed a horse by her halter. They weren’t happy that we were leading them back to captivity, but they didn’t resist.

The gods were smiling on us that my husband was home and that we both happened to be in the right place at the right time. Once I got the gate securely fastened, my heart started beating again. That was a close one.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Shedding Time

Now that the air is full of promise and a hint of warmth, the horses have come alive again. Each morning, when I feed the girls and open the doors to their stalls, I hesitate before I swing Siete’s door open. In the past, I’ve tried to train her not to rush out like a bullet train into the pasture. What’s different this year is that some days, she is still full of exuberance, but other times, she just strolls casually past me to check out the new day. I’ve become more accepting and amused by the times that she revs up and dances wildly as the sun rises. I kind of feel that way myself on the mornings that she does it.

The horses are literally shedding away the winter blues. I’ve brushed huge amounts of fur off of them, joking that I could make a sweater with it. Silk has gained weight so I’m no longer worried about her. Siete and I are another story. We’re both on diets. I started us on a strict regime last Friday. My little horse is not happy about it, but I am personally feeling so much lighter and better already. For the past year, I’ve pretty much eaten whatever I want, and I’ve added some inches to my girth. In the winter, my bones began aching, culminating when I threw out my back during all the digging after the flooding. Recently, in a not so subtle way, the Universe started sending me messages everywhere I turned about how bad too much sugar and starch are for our bodies. I decided to cut them out of my diet for a couple of weeks and see if it made a difference. It was much harder than I thought.

On the first day, my neighbor was giving me a ride down to the garage where my car was being repaired. As I opened the door on the passenger side, I found a huge platter of warm-from-the oven brownies on my seat. She offered me one, and I explained that I was on a diet. Then, my neighbor asked me to hold the plate on my lap as she drove because she was afraid the brownies would spill all over the backseat if we put them there. Smelling that sweet chocolate for ten minutes was torture. Yet, it certainly strengthened my resolve. I thought it would be pathetic to not even be able to make it through one day without sugar and starch. So, I resisted temptation.

After five days, I am amazed at how much better I feel. No aching bones, no regrets, and a stronger resolve to keep my horse on her diet too. It’s difficult not to give in to Siete’s begging for more hay and food. She’s very cute and smart about pushing my buttons. I started reading Geneen Roth’s book, “Women, Food and God”. She is a tough teacher, and I’m really looking at how I use food to comfort myself when things get scary and hard. "The relationship with food is a direct path to coming home after a lifetime of being exiled.” What an interesting thought. It forces me to consider whether I want to give in to self-indulgence and all the health risks that result from automatically reaching for that fresh baked brownie.