Friday, January 15, 2016

Moon: A Pony in Search of a Job


For eight years I have known Moon. He had always been "the bad boy" of the barn not just in title, but in his actions. He's always been a very mouthy pony who gets joy out of seeing us humans get all mad at him for it. I've learned to walk past him and bend so my back is just out of his reach.
He isn't really a bad pony though, he's just bored. Moon has found his entertainment in bothering us as we go about our daily business, but he is not really a bad pony. I've had a few rare moments where he's been nothing but butter, where he has sought out my affections as I try to clean his stall.

Now, as I sit outside his paddock, I have a new opinion of this little pony. He's built like a tank, a solid mass of palomino "tough man" (He's actually quite a chicken for his bad boy attitude). I get a sense of loneliness from him. He doesn't really have friends. His few human friends aren't able to come every day and he can only have pony friends through the fence. Moon is bored. He's been in search of something to do for so long.

I've decided that I'm going to give him what he had been looking for-- a job.

Moon is an incredibly smart pony (aren't they all) and has been clicker trained before. Currently he has no one that can clicker train him and so I've decided that it's my turn to play with the barns resident "bad boy." I went in ready for him to be pushy, ready for him to be in my space, ready to lose a few fingers. But I was pleasantly surprised by how respectful and how gentle he was. He was excited, but he was also very in tune with what I was doing, how I was moving.

We were working on a circle, the start for shaping a free lunge. He was eager to walk along next to me, following his target, from cone to cone. He was very good, even offering a back up if he realized he was close to me while I was getting his treat from my pocket.

Today I was also teaching a new volunteer about clicker training and as I was going through things with Moon, I was explaining them. At one point while I was explaining things to the new volunteer, not really giving Moon any directions, Moon began backing up and kept backing up till I clicked and told him to come back over! At another point, while we were going around the circle, Moon was spooked by one of our little chickens. Big tough pony, huh? Moon jumped forward and his foot hit my leg in his attempt to launch away from the scary chicken. I stood still, didn't yell at him for bumping me while he spooked, I stood still and watched him. Moon turned right around and was in front of me, still a bit frazzled from the ordeal. He then stated to back up until he was about a pony length from me and when he stopped I clicked and treated. As Moon backed up, I saw the cogs turning in his head as he regained his composure. And then we went on like it never even happened! He is so smart. He not only gathered himself, but also realized how very close he was to me and fixed it without any direction from me!


Now as I sit here outside his paddock I get to watch him wander around, think through the game we played, trace the circle we made even though the cones are gone. He's by himself right now as his stall is being reinforced, all the others are in. Moon isn't alone though. I've decided that he not only needs a friend again, but he needs a job. And so, for the pony in search of a job, I will give him one.

-Aly

Friday, January 8, 2016

Goodbyes

Some days love is not enough. Love can heal hearts, but some days it cannot fix broken bodies. Love cannot stop when it is time to let go. Today we said goodbye to two of our beautiful mares. Bianca had been battling abscesses and laminitis and today she was ready, it was her time. It was something that we saw coming and we did all we could to keep her comfortable and we hoped that she would get better, but she was ready. She walked for the last time today, guided by our loving hands, and was surrounded by our hugs and tears as she was laid to rest. We found Rose down in her stall this morning and it was clear that she was ready to go, that she had laid down for the last time. We did all we could to get her up, to figure out what was wrong, but Rose was not scared, she was ready to go. With loving arms, we held her too as she was laid to rest. The two of these mares had not been friends for very long, but they had formed a bond. And with all the love that we could give them, it was not enough to fix them, but it was enough to guide them to sleep. Rest easy beautiful mares, it's just a blink of an eye till the next time we meet.




Sunday, September 6, 2015

Smitten With the Kitten


The Kitten



I am smitten-

Smitten with a kitten

While kitten sittin’



Sweetest little pansy face

Butterfly ears

With curling lace



Put a band-aid on my pain

Gave me laughter

Once again



How did you learn

A life so new,

To make me fall in love with you



Little face with kitten smile

Made me forget

For a little while



Thank you Ollie

From your Auntie Nina

Friday, August 7, 2015

One Last Sad Story about Pip; Acceptance

Looking back now, I know my dear golden cat Pip was never really well. I am comforted in knowing that I gave him a great life, that my love for him will never fade away, that it was enough to keep him going for 12 years. I remember he would have “anxiety attacks” that would send him careening around the house as he desperately tried to escape his fear. When it passed he would lay exhausted panting, his gums blueish lavender. I knew this and tried to never let him be stressed. He would jump on my bed and I would tap him on the bum just above his tail. For some reason that made him feel better. His X-Rays showed that he had only one lung and it was full of tumors. His kidneys, in a matter of days, were huge. He was just too fragile to live in this toxic world. Even if I knew earlier, he could not have been saved. Dear Father Jehovah, how I miss this cat, I am so blessed to have loved him so much, but it is so difficult to live without him. I am truly broken this time. Nina

Dear Friends

Dear Friends, As I sat in the doorway of the barn, soaking my poor neglected feet in a tub of Absorbine and water, drinking a beer and reading “Master Harpers of Pern” (my little escape from reality), my six little hens hung out with me. They know they are safe when I am there. Their intelligence is just amazing. People really need to appreciate the wonders of the beings around them! Chickens—really!! I love my little hens—they feed me! Their eggs are extraordinary! My happy little girls! Gabriel, the KING of EOTS, has been exiled to the outside barn. He loves company, any company. The hens make him happy. They putter around under his feet and “ruffle” in their sweet little feathery huddle outside his stall. He is so gentle with all small beings. In his racing days he was probably surrounded by every kind of non-equine being who were companions of his fellow race horses. He loves everybody and everything living. Such a good old boy. Earlier, as I drove towards the barn, he “sent” me love. It made my heart happy. I know it was from him. Gabriel pushes me around, bullies me, bites me, and sometimes aims a kick in my direction. He treats me like a mare. He just loves me, though his love is often enough to flatten me if I don’t pay attention. He knows that I will scratch his itches, deal with his pains or complaints and cater to his every whim and need. I love him so. He is 27 years old, I will miss him when he leaves me, though it is often difficult and frustrating to be his “wife”. As I soak my feet, he stands by the fence keeping me company. He is just smitten with our vet Dr. Amy and our farrier Georgia. He just loves his human “mares”. I am not jealous. Seventeen hands and 1300 pounds can be spread around! He’s just so funny! He pushes us around, snorts, drools and slobbers all over us. I think we all feel somewhat honored. My beautiful silver stallion. “Hail to Thee”, race horse extraordinaire (aka Gabriel). He is now blind in his right eye; cataracts. He gets 3 feedings of hay cubes soaked in water and 4 small feedings of grain, all the hay he can eat with his old teeth, and he is still magnificent! Absolutely magnificent!! Even covered with mud, he shines like silver! Love-Love- in the hide of a stallion! Amen! Nina

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

You Just Never Know


Dear Friends,

I have been dealing with sorrow for so long I’ve forgotten how it feels not to be sad.

I have found comfort in the strangest and least expected place, with one of our two piggies. Hamish is 16 years old and Blaze is 8. I have never had the time to pay much attention to them. They are clean, well fed and cared for, but volunteers have always been the ones to give them extra attention. After all, I am the “horse person”!

We just moved them from inside the barn, where they stayed for the winter, back to their outside summer digs. I redid their sleeping quarters and fixed it all up nice for them. Now that they are older, they are having troubles stepping up into their “Pigloos” to sleep. As I sat on Blaze’s platform (it’s about 6” in height), he sauntered over and lay down beside me. With his gentle sprit, as if he knew he helped me. As I rubbed behind his ears, the soft pads on the bottom of his feet, and examined his tusks, I felt myself go to a place of peace.

With no demands, he offered me his quiet friendship.

Blaze grew up as a family pet. He was house broken and well loved by his humans. When the family was divorced he lost them all. His story is sad and it doesn’t matter anymore, but he has a piggy’s version of post- traumatic stress. He doesn’t handle change very well, but he just loves people.

While contemplating how to handle the “Pigloo” situation, I slid into the “gray place”. For a few minutes, Blaze and I comforted each other. Who would have thought?

I have loved horses all my life. I think it’s programed in my DNA. Their beauty, intelligence, and their absolute magnificence just blows my mind—but who would even have thought that a piggy could have such a beautiful spirit? Such ungainly, strange little mutants, funny little faces, sparse hair, and baggy little bums.

Do you know that they have no body odor? You can pet them all day and your hands will never smell? They are dear beings. Every bit as wonderful as horses or cats or dogs.

Really! Who would have thought?

Nina

The Babies of Spring


I found a nest full of meadow voles between our hay bales. These beasties will methodically destroy ever single bale. They don’t hibernate. They happily burrow through the bales, chewing through every single rope along the way all winter long. They eat, poop, and reproduce. A great deal of our stored hay is ruined.

                There were seven babies in the nest. They looked like teeny tiny puppies, all silky and velvety. They have teeny, squeaky baby voices. They have the same bones in their little hands as we do. They are intricately exquisite. I held one and rubbed it gently against my lip. It was so smooth.

                Setting it back down, I placed a handful of hay on the nest and left them so their mother to find and move to a safer spot.

                Really, what difference will seven more meadow voles make in the world in a family of millions?