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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Monday, December 27, 2010

On the lighter side - photography!

I like this exciting discussion we have going on down below om my earlier post today - some very interesting and thought provoking responses. Keep on responding!

On the lighter side, I am excited to report that one of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was a super nice digital auto/manual Sony, not just your regular crappy snap-a-pic camera. I used to dabble in photography when I was a teenager, but my old camera was film, and once the digital age exploded it fell by the wayside and never even made it with me to Connecticut when I moved. I intend on getting back in the hobby on a very amateur level with this baby.

The quality of the pics are very nice....

... I am rusty but I feel like I'm pretty good at capturing a decent shot from an artistic standpoint.

Bonus points for evil kitty smile photo:

Guess who is next.... her name starts with a G....!

An Interesting Question of Ethics (Breeding)

During my little bit of downtime during the holidays, I've had a chance to really sit and organize my thoughts on breeding and what exactly the implications and responsibilities of it are. I'm no longer talking just horse breeding at this point, however. I mean everything - dogs, cats, hamsters, people. Yes, people. I want to open a discussion on ethics and social responsibility. I fully expect to get a lot of heated response.

I had quite an outraged response to my ideas about breeding Gogo. In essentially everyone's mind, she is not fit to become breeding material ever at all for any reason. Imagine if I had written up a post stating that Joe-Bob the neighbor's grade stud had jumped the fence and bred my mare in the night of his own accord, and we found her to be pregnant. Personally, I would not think twice about having a vet go in and crush the crap out of that embryo. I'm sure there are people who would disagree with me for playing God and taking control of the situation. But for the most part, a lot of you sensible people would probably fully agree with my decision.

If I were to write up a post stating how Gogo was pregnant (which she is not), I would probably get more than a few nasty grumbles. Imagine, if you will, what the response would be if I were to write up a post stating how I was pregnant. (Don't worry, I'm not either!) Not a single person would come forward and chastise me for being a) irresponsible financially b) not in a stable long-term relationship capable of properly raising offspring c) genetically inferior to those who ought to be breeding. On the contrary, none of you would ask questions. You in all likelihood would heartily congratulate me - can you imagine the social outrage you'd invoke in others around you if you said otherwise? When I opened this topic of discussion earlier in the year, I had a lot of completely contradictory responses from completely sane people. The same people who thought my mare to be of inferior breeding quality because of her general mediocrity turned around to tell me that I wasn't giving myself enough credit for my own abilities, and that ordinary and plain people ought to breed because extradordinary people don't produce extraordinary offspring. Why do we insist that only THE best horses should breed, which is true, if we also don't think that only THE best people should breed as well? It's a weird moral dilemma that we have as a species because whether we like it or not, we have a naturally ingrained species survival instict. Generally, we want to breed and continue to fully dominate and trash the earth. When I wrote out my reasoning for selecting myself out of the gene pool - my medium-level intelligence, mediocre conformation, inability to truly add anything worthwhile to society - everyone insisted I was completely wrong. If we are so strict about breeding animals, why should we not show a little more restraint ourselves?

I understand that I sound a little pseudo-Nazi in my ideals, and I assure you that it's not really the case. But I mean really, people. If my horse, who is in my eyes much more talented as an individual than I am, is not of enough quality to breed, what kind of sick and egotistical beliefs would I have to have in order to believe that I am? People with known inherited genetic issues are still popping out babies left and right, spreading disease and dysfunction on to their offspring. If they are lucky, our ugly and useless crippled foals will end up in a field eating grass somewhere, or if they are luckier, humanely euthanized so they do not have to suffer unnecessarily. Our useless human beings? Forced to live useless, miserable lives in a society that values perfection (presuming we are talking about Western culture). I cannot possibly understand how people can just go on breeding amongst themselves without thinking about the consequences, or why folks who want kids don't just go adopt them instead of adding to the perpetual population issue. I actually just had a conversation with a woman about that same issue; she had the audacity to tell me that she would never have adopted kids because 'she wouldn't have loved them the same way.' Seriously? If I go out and buy a horse instead of breed Gogo, I'm not going to love that horse any less. Then again, I think this logic doesn't apply to those sorts of people, because anyone with that twisted of a mindset could never love animals in the way that those of you reading this blog do.

We control the breeding rights to animals because we believe them to be inferior to ourselves. In modern-day Western human society, if you adopt the same strict breeding principles to humans, you are likened to Hitler. In a way, this is both comprehensible and incomprehensible to me. I understand as a gay woman how completely unfair it for other to claim they know what is best for my relationships and my body, and tell me who I can and can't love. I appreciate all humans for the intelligent individuals that they are, and the rights they have as sentient beings. At the same time, though, the sensible part of me still doesn't understand.

Maybe those of you with children can flesh it out a little better for me. I have no interest in them so perhaps I don't understand. Often times people that go out and willing spay and neuter your pets like they should don't generally seem to consider doing the same for themselves.

I have enough sense in my head to cull myself from the breeding population. If I could rip out my uterus and not have to bother with the hormonal issues involved, I would do it, just to make sure it could NEVER happen, even by some sort of horrible accident. No animal on the planet, humans included, should ever have to be born because of an accident. That is no way to come into the world. How many oopsie dogs, cats and horses end up discarded and thrown away? How many children?


EDITED TO ADD: Remember, all of the preceding is not in defence of breeding or not breeding Gogo. I am not defending myself. We are discussing the bigger picture. Ok, now read on!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mare-y Christmas 2010!

Gogo and I want to wish everyone Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas!

And Metro and Quincy deserve a special Christmas spot here too:

I know I post something similar every year, but my oh my how time flies, and how we change.

Happy and safe holidays to everyone. Thank you all for all your support this past year, and may all your 2011 hopes, goals and dreams come true.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Photo Adventure Fridays

This week's Photo Adventure...

Mangrove forest, Bradenton, Florida.
Just strolling around on this fine Christmas Eve. I have dreams of a white Chrismtas, but 70 degrees and sunny ain't bad either! We come down to Florida quite often for Christmas, as my grandparents live here and my parents also own a condo. Glad the weather is nice this year... I do recall a few years ago when we actually had a tornado touch down a few miles north of us ON Chrismtas Day!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

From D-Block to B-Rock

Texas continues to be a completely new and wonderful experience on all ends of the spectrum for me. Coming from a suburb outside of New York City, my new little town of 80 residents is quite a dramatic change. My biggest complaint so far is that I am constantly parched. The local residents all complain about the humidity here but I think they must clearly be insane. Back in New England, I was terrible about drinking enough water, and if I had a glass a day I was doing very well for myself; I never felt thirsty. Here, I am probably going to dessicate and die if I don't really start drinking normal amounts of water. It's been in the 80's every day this week, except for today, when it dropped to a measly 65. I think I could get used to a Texas winter.

Gogo, on the other hand, is not drinking nearly as much as I expected she would in the dry Texas heat, but she is drinking a reasonable amount if you compare it to the drinking patterns of the other horses on the property, and factor in both her wet grain and soaked hay. She has bewitched all of the neighbor's horses with her ravishing good looks, and they spent a large part of their day fighting over who will get to stand closest to her. (The biggest, fattest dark bay gelding wins every time.) Gogo is coming out of heat, and is now playing kissy face over the double fence line instead of nonstop peeing. Unfortunately for me, this means that she is reaching over her safe pipe fencing into the dangerous territory of the neighbor's barbed wire, which is definitely within her reach. She has so far managed to keep all of her eyes and limbs intact, but I can only hope that she will stop being in heat shortly and will lose interest in that side of the paddock. She has been staying out for 8 hours every day, even though there isn't much to eat in terms of grass anymore. She is delighted to be out there, and oddly enough, her legs look great. Surprisingly great. Better than they've looked since this new reinjury. They even look great in the early morning when we first arrive, and she has been standing in a stall all night. I would be lying if I didn't say I was more than a little bit shocked and relieved. Some days, it is even quite cool to the touch.

For all that she is sound at the walk, though, I forget that it doesn't mean that she's actually sound. I watched her trot away from me the other morning when I turned her out, and she is by no means sound. She is not dead toe-dragging lame, but she's lame. Time will tell how much this improves, but I have to keep reminding myself that we're only just a few weeks out from this new injury. All in all, concerning how the leg looks, how much the general swelling in the actual tendon has decreased all by itself, and how good her general attitude is, I don't think I could ask for better at the moment, barring a total miracle.

At the moment, my mind is consumed with the massive barn renovation project. Actually, it's not THAT massive, but it is a bit complicated on more than one end. My main concern is that this piece of land is not my property. I'm technically not even paying a cent for it, as it comes with the job package. Realistically I know that at any moment, something could happen and I could lose the whole thing. (I mean let's hope not, but you never know!) It would be silly of me to put any sort of serious money into this project. My landlord is very cool about these things, so I stand a good chance of him reimbursing me at least in part, but he has other more important projects to tackle (like fixing my washing machine!) and it's the holidays, so I want to get a headstart and fix up all the solo projects I can find.

There are two areas of fix-uppance that need to be addressed before any animal that isn't a cow can move onto the property: fencing and the barn/shed area. In terms of fencing, we have 5 acres that need to be safely fenced. A large portion of the fencline is already safely fenced with diamond mesh and smooth twist high-tensile wire, the lower portions with the diamond mesh and the higher portions with three strands of the thick smooth wire. As a rule, I don't REALLY want my horse in any sort of wire fence that isn't mesh or weave made specifically for horses, but in terms of safety, this is specifically made for horses and is strong, tall and sturdy. The three top strands are high up and quite close together, and there is little chance of her being able to get a foot tangled anywhere. She's never had a problem with fencing of any sort before, but those are famous last words. She's been out in about every type of fencing you can imagine - pipe, post and rail, board, reenforced electric wire, electric tape, PVC board, top board chain link - and the only thing she has ever done was get a foot tangled in a poorly placed stand of electric tape when tapping a hind foot at a horse across a shared fenceline. It was going to happen at some point given the location of the electric tape, it just was Gogo that it happened to. And all she very sensibly did was carefully walk away out of it while getting shocked to death.
Anyway, most of the fencing is horse-safe already, although a few strands of the top wire are sagging and need to be tightened. Part of the fence is pipe, which is very smooth and safe despite how unforgiving it is. It is bright white and highly visible, and is right behind my house (pretty!). The only problem I have at this point with the fencing is that a small section of the house-side fence and one of the side fences are barbed wire.


Not safe:

I don't care that this is the Southwest and EVERYBODY keeps their horses in barbed wire pastures. They're cattle fences and they're NOT SAFE. Gogo is currently in a pipe fence, but can reach the neighbor's perimeter fence (barbed wire) when his horses come over to visit. She has neither sliced herself nor taken out an eye yet, but I think luck will only take us so far there. All fences can potentially be dangerous, but barbed wire is especially so. It has to go.
There are already T-posts in place, obviously, so I think what needs to be done is remove the barbed wire and scraggly saggy perfectly-hoof-capturing-sized woven wire (again, cheap cattle fence) and refence with a horse safe mesh like diamond mesh and something overtop, like a strand of electric braid for visibility. I think electrifying the whole 5 acres isn't going to really be worth my while, but it might be. Pyscholigically, Gogo has been shocked to death by electric before, so she has learned to stay VERY clear of anything like it.

I think that is what I'd like to do: keep the t-posts up where they are, cap the tops of all of them (they are all uncapped, which = lethal spears), tear down the barbed wire and cheap crappy weave wire, install diamond mesh and a string of visibile electric braid across the top, and there you have it! POSSIBLY will be worth it to run a string of electric around the entire perimeter fence, but I dunno. The rest of the fences are VERY visible and there isn't anything tasty or anyone to play with on the other side of the fence. Again though, you just never know with horses.

The other project, which is going to be slightly less major but possibly more complex, is to fix up the barn area and make it horse-friendly. The family that lived here before me kept cattle here, so there is a labyrinth of pens around the barn area that is both complicated and in serious need of repair. It took me a bit of time to figure out exactly what I had available, and even more time to figure out how exactly to make it usable, but I have a plan now that I've looked it over.

At first glance, all you can hope is that you have an up to date Tetanus shot when you go fishing around:

Well that won't do.

There are five useable pens in all, which are pens that can be completely shut in with working gates, and a chute that looks sized for loading sheep onto a truck (possibly what it was originally built for). I toyed with the idea of tearing down all the unusable fence (old and damaged chain link) and redoing all of it, but that seems silly. Also, I really don't want Gogo to be weaving through a maze of pens nonstop... that just seems like an accident waiting to happen. I had to step back and take a better look at the whole picture in order to figure out what I needed to do.

First, view from the outside:

Not good with those rusty old gates. BUT, picture this:

Rusty old gates totally removed, ratty chain link removed from the pipe fence and new chain link installed where need be, other pens closed off and not used, and tada! You have one main pen-area that had shelter access, and don't have to worry about your animal getting tangled in any of the other pens which may or may not ever be usable.

And if I need to lock her in anywhere, there is one pen which will be quite safe with a little bit of refencing that also has a working gate and shelter access. I don't think I even want to think about tackling the interior barn area... there is WAY too much in there that would need to be done to ever become horse-friendly. Having a good shelter to stand under (or be locked into) is perfectly acceptable for an outdoor-living horse.

Some of the current chain link in the pen area is perfectly fine:

And some is not:

I went to Lowe's the other night while out Christmas shopping, just to see what is there, and actually I think this is going to be fairly inexpensive in the end. There's not THAT much to do. Like I said earlier, I am fairly certain that my landlord will reinburse me for a fair part of this project if not all. I can't guarantee that, but it can't hurt to ask.

The winter soltice has come and gone, and now the days are only going to get longer and sweeter. More daylight = more time to play outside!!

I am off to Florida for a few days to visit family for Christmas. I hope you all are having a good Holiday season. Give your ponies lots of hugs and kisses!

Monday, December 20, 2010

RIP Sunny

First order of non-related business: Denali's Mom's present. We are now waiting on Denali's Mom herself to get the workings fully underway! So you hear me Denali's Mom, send me that picture and let's get that hair in the mail! The other possibility is that we all could send that money off towards vet bills instead, which I am sure would also be a welcome gift. Any opinions? Everything else is set on this end, I just need the things from Denali's Mom.... so hop to it ;)

Second order of business.... I am really sad to say that today we lost yet another school horse legend from my past, good old Sunny. Sunny was the first horse I really fell in love with at my old barn, and I very nearly leased him (but Quincy arrived and it was all over from there!). Sunny was a skinny, narrow, TALL, roaring Thoroughbred with an elephant leg and a major cribbing issue, but we loved him nevertheless. He was so giant that even when Quincy (his gay lover) would come give him sleepy kisses on the ground, they were nearly perfectly nose to nose:

He was an amazing rockstar, despite all of his weird issues. It's so sad that all of the schoolhorses of my teenaged years are all getting so old and fading away. It was over a decade ago that I started riding at the barn where I really first got seriously attached to all the school animals... I forget how old they all must be now.

Rest in peace Sunny. We'll miss you so much.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Everything's Bigger in Texas!

Phew! After three horrible, exhausting, stressful days of travel, my little family of critters and I have all survived the long journey to Texas. It was really not THAT bad, in the grand scheme of things, but really, three days of 12+ hour hauling will wear you out, not to mention the three animals and mother you're schlepping along for the journey. But we're all here, and we're all okay, thank god!

After finding Gogo's nasty wounds, my trailer door nearly falling off, losing all my keys for good, and running my truck and trailer off the road on a snowy mountainside, we managed to get off to a relatively decent start on Wednesday morning. My GPS got confused on the first leg of the journey, and sent me down a parkway (which is illegal with a trailer) right through Yonkers outside of NYC. Which, if you've never been there, is NOT a great place to drive a trailer through. The trip took FOR-EV-ER, and I was hours and hours late to my final destination. I was trying to make a rendezvous with my mother in Virginia, where she was flying in and meeting me for the second two days of the drive. When I finally pulled in to the equine hospital where Gogo was staying overnight, it was 10pm - we loaded at 9:30am. Along the journey, she refused to drink a single drop of water. At. All. The problem began when I tried to offer her water while she was standing in the trailer, and all she wanted to do was eat hay. Normally I take her off when I offer water. I did the only thing I could think of, and dumped the water over her hay (it was too cold to soak her hay when I left Connecticut.... negative 10!!). This, however, only made her think she was getting enough water, and she continued to refuse to think. So I kept dumping it over her hay. By the end of twelve hours, I was thoroughly alarmed. When she got into her stall, she took a sip of water, and then continued to eat hay as though she wasn't in the least bit interested in water. I was so thoroughly put out at this point that I told the attendant to shoot her if she colicked in the night! Thankfully, she drank nearly three 5-gallon buckets full of water overnight.

Gogo's stop in some Pennsylvania town outside of a big rock quarry and a lake:

I did in fact trailer her in that blanket, which I never do. Normally she runs really hot, but it was so freezing cold in Colebrook that she was literally shivering when I put her on the trailer. I've never seen her get THAT cold. It was in the low teens for the entire first day's drive, and she stayed very comfortable with that blanket in the breezy trailer. Do your fierce-hearted mares run hot too? Nearly every mare with a similar personality that I know does.

Anyway. Matters were not improved when I made contact with my mother that evening and learned that an enormous winter storm was roaring up through Virginia and Tennessee that evening. I had been warned by my new boss that those storms were horrible, and not to travel in them if I could help it, but as my mother had a plane to catch on Saturday in Texas we did not have a whole lot of choice. The scariest part of the journey by far was the first leg; imagine sliding down the Virginia mountains with your ABS grating underneath your foot at you try to regain your braking system while your trailer sways behind you in the early morning light. We crept on in this way for several hours, wondering if we should just give up and try and find another barn to hole up at until the weather cleared. Somewhere along the journey, the sideways snow changed to sleet, and our spirits were slightly lifted:

But not much. It was still miserably slow, even though our speed has increased from 20mph to 40. Eventually, the sleet changed all to rain, and the roads became passable. As a northern girl I can safely say this: Virginia cannot intelligently deal with snow. And Tennessee cannot intelligently deal with ice. That is all.

Somehow, 15 hours later we pulled safely in to our layover in Tennessee. Once again, Gogo refused to drink a drop out of her buckets, and I had to soak all her hay as best I could. She seemed in good spirits despite the fact that she only drank a bucket and a half overnight. As for me, I was pulling my hair out trying to get her to drink. I had also, at this point, lost an entire gallon of aloe juice due to an accident in my front seat where the aloe managed to leak out all over my computer, which then sat in a puddle of it for several hours. I discovered this far too late to do anything about it, and my computer seemed to be completely fried whenever I attempted to turn it on. I gave up, turned it off, and left open it by a vent every time I had a chance. I seemed to have revived it, thank god, but it was not a very happy experience for me. Also I was none too pleased at not having anything to help Gogo's stomach along the way. I had used up all the Ulcergard I had with me, and discovered that the rest was buried in the bowls of my trailer, underneath everything I owned in the world in my packed tackroom. Sigh.

The third day of the trip dawned and nobody was even remotely interested in getting in the car. Gogo, on the other hand, still hopped right on the trailer without a moment's hesitation, bless her lil' heart. I think if it were me, I would have taken one look at the shipping boots and refused to have anything further to do with the whole ordeal. We cruised across the Mississippi river past Memphis, and hurried through Arkansas (honestly, who wants to spend ANY time there?). When we eventually stopped to let Gogo off the trailer, she FINALLY drank about half a bucket of water. My dog had also FINALLY eaten her breakfast (major car anxiety) and my cat had FINALLY also taken a sip of water and had eaten a few bites of breakfast herself. Despite being really weird about where she drinks her water - we discovered that normally she only drinks out of the dog bowl, but apparently refuses to drink out of it unless it is in an elevated holder, so we had to offer her a mug of water instead - my cat is an exceptionally easygoing traveler. The dog was having a mild panic attack for pretty much every waking moment of the car ride, and we finally let the sleeping cat out of her cage so she could go curl up with the dog and comfort her. The cat also spent quite some time as my co-pilot, sitting on the center console and watching out the front window:

Never a thought of getting in my lap, what a good kitty.

Finally, after another exhausting 12 hours, we pulled into the barn and unloaded. Gogo, being of course in head, squabbled a bit with the mini next door to her stall, but settled immediately and started munching her hay and dipping it into the water buckets. For having ridden in a trailer for three very solid days, she is as bright eyed and alert as ever. She must have been tired, but she didn't show it at all. She can't have lost more than just a few pounds... she almost looks like she may have gained a few. She looks amazing.

She's still not drinking well, much to everyone's surprise, but both the hay and the grain is soaked here, and I think that has quite a lot to do with it. My first day of work was today, and she drank about as much as everyone else, which wasn't much at all. We left her outside next to the mini for the entire day, and pulled her blanket off at around 11am to let her be naked and free. We didn't even bother putting a blanket on her this evening. She could not possibly be happier about this situation. She is also very happy about having wet hay, as she is a disgustingly messy dunker and wants her hay wet in the first place.

She'll stay at the ranch for now, but she may yet move to my backyard. Or something else might move into my backyard, I haven't decided just yet! The 5 acres behind my house is all mine for the using, although it's not ready for horses yet. Three of the perimeter fences are good, strong horse fencing, some combination of pipe fence and mesh wire fence made specifically for horses. The other piece of fence is barbed wire, which we will have to rip out and replace. It's just one top strand of barbed wire overtop a normal wire and mesh fencing, but I'll be damned if I put my precious jewel into a cow pasture where she can lose and eye and a leg at the same time. The barn area also needs work - it is primarily pipe fencing but has places with chain link to solidify the pipe, and they are bent. It's a weird labyrinth of holding pens, six in all, and an area with a nice overhang for animals to stand under. There is also what could be made into a very large stall area, totally shut in from three sides, but the rafters are low and there are lightbulbs and wires to get hung up on. With some hard work, it could really be great.

Three days on a trailer, and Gogo's legs look better than ever. The right is still warm and has a small hard lump, but the left has no more swelling and the wounds look very good. They sloughed off a bit of dead skin overtop part of the "Y" that the cuts made, but once that business was over, they set themselves to closing and needed no further bandaging. She is still marching around sound as ever at the walk, and you wouldn't know visually that she has any sort of injury unless you looked in very closely. My new boss wants me to get a second opinion on the leg and whether or not she will have any sort of competitive future. I would think she stands a decent chance, although I'm not sure at what. I just can't believe how good she looks, how happy she is, and how relaxed I am about this whole process of healing. We're just all so much happier now that she is booted out into a field. I guess I have to eat my words about turnout for injuries, even though I need a vet with diagnostic tools to really say for sure.

The stalls have runs off of them, but she is temporarily locked in at night because the tiny pony shares her run. She is not pleased about that, even though her stall is 16x16:

She really is such a nice looking mare, even just standing in a stall. Even nicer looking out in the field. I really do hope she returns to some sort of work someday. My new boss gave her some very nice compliments, and I was pleased. We're also trying to figure out some new supplement experimentation with her, because at this point we might as well play around with what we have... if it's done intelligently, it hopefully can't hurt. Still Gro N' Win for now as her meal base, but I have SmartFlex Repair to try her on, and we're adding Cocosoya and some UGard for good measure after that horribly long trip. I still have flax to give her too but I can't imagine needing it if she's on Cocosoya. Eh, now is the time for experimentation I guess!
Personally, all supplementing and speculation aside, all I want for Christmas is a leg transplant for her!

I already almost got myself shot fumbling for the lights in the barn last evening - scared the other guy that works there and he literally had a gun in his hand when he came to see who I was! I guess that was my Texas christening right there - apparently, according to everyone here, I also need a gun to keep in my house because everyone else has one too. If you handed me a loaded gun, I wouldn't hardly know which end to point away from myself. I guess when in Rome... do as the Romans do? Just don't ask me to kill animals with it unless they're already suffering.

Welcome to life in Texas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oh, snow.

Okay, at this point I am just laughing. I know some of you will poo-poo the karma thing, but you have to admit, my karma/luck/circumstances have been pretty questionable this week....!

This morning, I was taking the trailer back up to the barn so I could drop it off and pack hay and supplies into it. I would not have had the trailer except for that I needed to make the emergency trip to the dealer last night to have them repair the hinges on the door that broke off yesterday. I thought about taking the trailer back last night, but didn't think that I would be able to make it up the slippery mountainside with all the mud and warm weather we had been having. What I did NOT count on was the fact that overnight, the temperature dropped and it started to snow. A lot. At home, we had a dusting, so I didn't think much of it. But at the barn, there were at least six inches. I started up the hill thinking that it wouldn't be a problem, I had trailered in horrible weather before and it had never caused me a problem.

What I forgot about was that I used to own a tank of a Dodge Durango, which was the sturdy all-weather vehicle I used for all of those snowy endeavors. I didn't think about the fact that this is the Dodge Ram, with very WIDE tires and an unweighted bed. It's still heavy, but it doesn't handle the same in bad weather.

When I got about halfway up the hill, all of the wet mud from yesterday has turned into a sheet of black ice underneath all of the snow. My truck, despite being in 4-low, shuddered to a stop and then started to slide backwards. I slammed on the gas, I slammed on the brakes..... I had nothing. I was rapidly accelerating backwards with a trailer down a mountainside with a serious 14 degree grade to it. I had a cliff on one side of me, and a steep hill on the other. Behind me, I couldn't see or tell what was in my way, and I was reaching higher and higher out of control speeds. So I did the only thing I could do to stop the runaway freight train. I jackknifed it. Into the hill.

I got lucky. The only damage to anything involved was caused by my sway bars, which punched into my bumper when I jackknifed, and to my muffler, which is now hanging sadly. My trailer is completely fine. Thankfully, a few friendly neighbors and Jen's husband found me and helped rescue me. It took four men and four hours (in the 14 degree weather) to finally get my rig up the hill. I've never burned so much rubber in all my life trying to spin my tires up the mountainside.

Thank god there wasn't a horse in the trailer. I think I would have died.

We are STILL set for an early AM departure tomorrow. If I can, you know... get out of the barn driveway and everything. I am pretty sure that after today, I never want to live anywhere snowy ever. Ever. Again.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Karma Fail!

I guess this is what I get for being a whining baby this morning!:

One big messy bleeding broken fail. Though they did happen separately.

Thank you for the sweet comments. You can tell I'm obviously feeling the severe stress that comes with the whole moving process. It's not easy living in and out of suitcases while I get ready for the trek down south. And thanks to guy with the precious comment that I need a therapist instead of a new horse/vet/job. I wish I could think of something adorably sarcastic in response, but I don't have the time. I certainly hope everybody realizes I have the sense to wait until I actually have a PLAN formed for acquiring a new horse. I don't even have a BUDGET yet. I'm just airing out my brains and writing because I will go absolutely stir crazy from waiting for this move to happen otherwise!

Concerning the pictures, Gogo is fine, and the trailer is fixed to the tune of a hundred smacks. Ouch... for ONE plastic hinge? I can only assume Gogo got cast, as Jen said her stall was a right mess this morning. Aside from having major (but superficial) lacerations and an elephant leg, she's in good spirits and sound. Or well, sound on THAT leg. Mares.....

I have MAJOR packing to do tomorrow, and way more things to do than I can possibly squash into one day, but we are set for a Wednesday departure. More details to follow!


I want to clarify my position here on the whole second horse thing, since I got a lot of very sharp reponses.

No, it's not likely that Gogo will ever be bred. But I want it made clear that I don't think these issues are directly HER fault. I think that rests with ME. I think it was ME who failed her. I think the reinjury is MY fault. Come on, both her and my last horse broke down horribly.... doesn't ANYBODY else think that it must be MY fault at this point? I do. I HAVE to be doing something wrong. At this point, all I can do is see if Gogo can be comfortable wandering around a pasture. If she ever gets uncomfortable, I will euthanize her. I owe her that much. So if I am short about matters relating to her, you need to understand that it's because I feel like I failed her. Because it HAD to be me. And because of this, and because this path is EXACTLY the same as my last horse in terms of what I keep hoping she'll be sound for, all I can do is assume that I WILL end up euthanizing her at some point. In the end, Metro wasn't going to be sound to stand around in a field, and we let him go because of it. He took the same downhill path she is taking. Sow how could it not be my fault?

I guess I came on to write this and talk about the specific type of horse I want for my next beastie, but now that I've reread this, I am thinking that perhaps I should never own horses again. It's certainly not fair to them.... all I do is destroy them. Maybe that's a good sign that I should just give up.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Breed, or Buy?

Hmmmm. I think I have a bit of a quandary when it comes to the whole process of adding a second four-legged beastie to my little herd of one.... I can't quite decide what I want to do! I am perpetually going over the two most concrete options in my head – breed or buy? – and keep going back and forth between the two. Doing what I WANT to do and doing what I SHOULD do are possibly two different things. Or perhaps they’re the same thing. I don’t know!

First of all, I am conflicted as to WHAT exactly I want in my next horse. If we are talking in terms of buying my next horse instead of breeding it, I have two very differing desires, and can’t quite make up my mind about either of them. Part of me wants to find something goofy and fun to just toodle around on. Not something to replace or match Gogo in terms of talent and ability, but something that I can see how far I can take against whatever odds there are. Ideally, however, I don’t want to BUY that horse. I want to free lease it. I don’t think I want something nice enough to warrant paying a lot of money for a lease, and then ultimately having to give it back. Covering expenses for a lease horse, of course! But additional money on top of that, no.
The other half of me wants to find the nicest, most promising animal I can find for the best price that I can, and nurture it until it is ready to break and ride. The problem with this is that, realistically, I’m going to have to probably pick up a weanling for this to work. It’s not likely that that same quality horse will be available to me financially as a 3 year old. The slightly selfish part of me is grumbling about this – my current horse is unrideable, and I want to ride now! But I don’t want to BUY a cheap horse just so I can sit on it today, and then potentially be stuck with it later on down the road. You know I’ll get attached to it, and then when it breaks or maxes out somewhere, I’ll never be able to get rid of it because I am a bleeding heart. I already have one beautiful hayburning poopmaker in my field, I don’t need two!

So I guess it boils down to basically this: if I am going to BUY, I should buy the best horse that I can afford, and not just a cheap project. I refuse to let my emotions get involved when there isn’t even a real horse in question to think about yet. Speaking subjectively, investing in a young talent over a cheap project would possibly bring a higher emotional/financial payout for me in the end. I don’t mean to sound so cold about it, but I have to be rational. I’m already hopelessly in love with Gogo, and could never think about getting rid of her, even if it means she has to spend the next 25 years sitting in my backyard doing nothing beyond eating and and getting groomed. That’s already being a bit irrational from a financial point of view. Money is no object when it comes to Gogo, and I know it’s going to be the same with a new horse, so I need to make my choices wisely. Horses are expensive enough as it is.

But. If we are talking about investing in a young talent, then I need to seriously consider the breeding route. And of course I WANT to breed her! I think she’d be an excellent mother, and I think the offspring would be very nice. Even if that baby came out crooked and ugly, I would love it and keep it. But I have to keep all of the potential cons in mind too. That baby COULD come out wretchedly. I have no idea what it would capable of. It might not be capable of anything. Breeding is a gamble, and you never know what you’ll end up with until it arrives. If I were to find something already on the ground, I would at least be able to see what it looks like conformation-wise, and get an idea of an attitude. I think there is a large chance that the nicest horse I will be able to really afford is one that will come right out of her directly. But I can’t sugarcoat her faults: that terrible topline, her less than perfect front legs, her narrow chest. Nobody’s more aware of her faults than I am. And am I taking a major gamble by breeding a lame horse? Usually, lame horses make more lame horses. While the vets and I strongly believe that this is a matter of bad luck and an acute injury rather than a long-term, conformation-related issue, you still can’t help but wonder: is baby going to break at some point too? All horses can get hurt, and all horses probably will get hurt in one way or another in their life, but it doesn’t make it any easier. No matter what happens, I cannot guarantee the soundess of anything I breed, buy, or lease. If I breed a youngster, it might break at some point. If I buy a cheap project that may have inherited issues, it might break at some point. Hell, even if I buy the nicest horse on the planet, you know full well that it could break at some point too. You just don’t know. You never know. Look at Gogo… never so much as has a stone bruise for three years, and then bam! One day, it’s all over.
The other consideration I must make is Gogo’s comfort level and soundness. Currently, even with an acute injury, she is marching around as sound as ever at the walk, completely happy and comfortable. I don’t dare jog her out, but Jen did say that yesterday she was prancing around in her field in the morning of her own accord, and that afternoon her leg looked better than it ever has since the reinjury. Since she’s been on turnout, her attitude had improved 110% from when she was at the other barn. At the other barn, when I was riding her every day she was perfectly content to go about her daily business and be happy, but once she reinjured she was mopey and weirdly quiet. Now, she’s completely delighted and more than satisfied to go out and eat 10 hours a day. If we are thinking of a breeding, it would be in May or June, about six months out from the original injury. Baby wouldn’t hit the ground until the following April or May. That gives us well over a year before the foal would get big enough to put additional weight stress on her body. I don’t think at that point that her hind legs would be compromised in any way… mares are tough cookies. I remember a mare at the farm I interned at that had a pastern fusion from a career-ending broken pastern, and she was a tiny thing with a big colt. She kept tromping around like nobody’s business even though she wasn’t exactly what anyone would call sound. I also remember having not one but TWO mares at school who had DLSD and carried more than one foal to term without issue. (Now why you’d breed a mare with suspensories so degraded that their fetlocks pretty much were sitting on the ground is beyond me, but they did it anyway, year after year. And that’s a major genetic issue that is definitely inherited!) I think she’d be fine, but I can’t rule out her discomfort as a potential limiting issue. I’m not going to do anything that is going to hurt her. Although I guess you can argue that carrying and birthing a foal can be pretty painful….!

What I would LOVE to do is plan for a springtime breeding in 2011, and find something to lease in the area during the interim. Something I could have a blast with, but not have to invest in long-term in case it doesn’t end up being suitable for what I want to do in the end. Once baby hits the ground, or possibly in the year following when baby hits the ground, I could send back the lease and concentrate on the munchkin. Following weaning, I think it’s quite possible that I might be able to reevaluate Gogo’s riding career and see what I have. I’d really like to give her two years of as much turnout as I can possibly provide, and then seeing what we have at the end of it.

That’s in the ideal world. I could just as easily pick up a lease and NOT breed her, or pick up a young horse at a good price and bring it along instead of breeding her.

You know it can’t hurt to dream though. You know who I really, REALLY would love to breed her to? Catherston Dazzler. I had never considered him until recently because I was trying to stick to Holsteiners, but once I took a better look at him, I about died and went to heaven. If there ever was a dreamier dreamboat for eventing babydaddies, I’ll eat my helmet. And you know what they say about breeding like to like:

Catherston Dazzler has hundreds and hundreds of offspring competing in eventing, and many at the four star level. His son Midnight Dazzler is 18 and competing at the four star level, and has been for MANY years – so the soundness is there. Dazzler crosses REALLY well with TB-type mares like Gogo, and the resulting crosses are proven black/brown, flashy, uphill XC machines.

One problem. He’s dead. Frozen semen only. Yes, I know that first-cycle pregnancies in maiden mares are higher than any other type of mares (meaning foaling or barren mares), but still. That’s quite a risk. And it’s not cheap. There are less than 10 doses of his semen left in the US as we speak. So the chances of that happening are KIND of slim.

But it doesn’t hurt to dream. MAN what a foal that would be.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weird Horses

I have a confession to make. I am hopelessly, eternally, irrationally attracted to weird horses. Weird breeds, weird colors, weird traits... you name it, it piques my interest immediately. I know exactly where it comes from: a bizarre critter named Peyton that captured my heart in college and refused to let go. Ever since then, I can't help but look at the horses that are a little different looking, and go "wow... I love that."

Peyton was the weirdest mix you could have possibly thought up. Found toodling around in front of an Amish cart, he was picked up by one of the trainers I worked with in school, and ended up my project in a class called Training I. My partner Lisa and I completely fell in love with our goofy, roan-y thing, especially after we saw him move. He was tiny, barely over 15hh, and was a cross between what we assumed was Dutch Harness Horse, Clydesdale, Morgan, Appaloosa, and maybe something else too. He was a bizarre PINK roan color.... it was a cross between sandy brown and reddish pink. He had the big white face and stockings of a Clyde, but the mottled skin of an App, and the movement of a Dutch horse. He was insanely talented.

Those picturs don't show off his ridiculous movement. If you're friends with me on Facebook, you can see him freejumping.... seriously adorable.

He, of course, was for sale for a fair bit of money, and sold to some nice family somewhere in Ohio. I was a bit heartbroken because I wanted him all for myself, of course. He was hot and sensitive, a bit too much for what I realistically wanted, but I loved him to death, and had so much fun with him I can't even describe it.

And it was all over from there. My love for weird horses was solidified.

I've been poking around online a bit for possible lease/purchase options once I get down to Texas, and haven't found anything SERIOUSLY serious yet - how can I, I'm not even down there yet! - but sometimes I stumble upon something that reads this: "17hh Pintaloosa/Perch/QH cross gelding, field hunting, eventing, dressage!" and can NOT help but look at the ad.

And then this ADORABLE thing pops up:

AHH. I want THAT in my backyard! I would want that thing in my backyard even if he wasn't a totally weird color. He is adorable.

What's your one WEIRD thing that attracts you to a horse? I'm not talking a pretty topline or a textbook shoulder, I'm talking something strange, like a particular set of ears or a behavior. What attracts you even though you can't figure out WHY?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remember when?

Remember when we were kicking patootiebootie in the dressage at every event? Found a brief old clip of Riga Meadow, where we were robbed with a score of 34.0, but were still in 1st after dressage anyway!
(Although, if you remember correctly, this was when she had Lyme and then unceremoniously freaked out on XC later on in the day and did 360s in front of the up bank, which prompted me to believe that this behavior belonged to a physical issue, not an emotional one!)

Sigh.... those were the good old days!

I really do hope I find some sort of a fun turnaround project once I am down in Texas. Something with a little surprise... a horse that needs some help. Something I can make better, and happier. Something that will look at me with great liquidy eyes everytime I come near and silently say, "thank you for giving me a chance."

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Despite the fact that I hate the cold, I will definitely miss the snow. We had lots of little flurries today up at the barn, and we took Gogo for a little snowy walk, for as long as we could stand the cold. Note to self: new Ariat coat is NOT SUITABLE FOR NEW ENGLAND WINTER. It's ten degrees colder up on top of the mountain than it is everywhere else.

We tried to get Gogo to stand up for a nice conformation picture in front of the barn, but she was not particularly cooperative. Probably because it was blowing snow and 22 degrees. I would be cranky too if I was naked.

After picture time was over, it was time to get booted back out into the field. I was very happy to see that she followed me up along the fenceline, but then turned around and wandered off of her own accord, happy to nibble on whatever grass was left... and she did not freak out or demand to come back in, even though she'd already been out ALL day. Good forward steps!

Forgive the crap pictures. My good camera is dead, and I have the crapola replacement camera doing a poor job in its stead.

Anyway. As you can see from the pictures, the injury is a classic low bow. The swelling has definitely, DEFINITELY come down... all without coldhosing, bute, wrapping or anything. Still, she has a pretty definite lumpy knot where the site of the injury is, which she never had when I was furiously diligent in my rest/ice/wrap routine. When she stands around in the barn, the leg does fill, but when she walks back outside, it all but disappears, leaving only the hard knot. She is VERY comfortable on it, and is perfectly sound at the walk. I hadn't seen her for days, but she didn't have a drip of mud on her anywhere, meaning she's not been running at all.

I have a small, happy flame of hope in me. Seeing that she's survived a week of turnout and had actually NOT died, broken a leg, killed herself, or blown her tendon to smithereens, AND it looks mildly improved all by itself, makes me think there IS hope if I just give her the time to heal on her own. I hope. I hope A LOT.