Saturday, December 28, 2013

Just Another Sin Against Horses

There is a well hidden part of the horse business that not all horse people know about. I do no know all that much about it myself, but what I do know is ugly. There are places that keep pregnant mares that can be rented to “adopt” foals other than their own. They are called “nurse mares”. Now that sounds sweet doesn't it? They are used if a client's valuable mare rejects her foal, dies or can not produce milk to feed it. Still sweet, huh? Sometimes the client's mare is a show horse and needs to go back to work immediately after foaling and is not allowed to raise her own baby. In this case they rent a nurse mare and somehow get them to foal at the same time as the client's mare. The nurse mare's foal is euthanized. It has no value. It is the law, I'm told, these foals are not allowed to be rescued and bottle raised. They can not be transported into the state of MA. All foals less than 3 ½ months can not be moved without their mothers. The dept. of agriculture is working on the “unwanted horse” issues. This is the beginning. This dirty nurse mare secret is being exposed. Somehow though, I think people with too much money and not enough compassion will find a way around this little glitch. To continue to enable this horrible business ny trying to rescue these foals, is wrong, it is very difficult to bottle raise a new born foal. I'm sure most never get colostrum (first milk, full of antibodies) from their mothers. This means, basically, they have no immune system. They need this milk within the first 12 or so hours of life. After that they can not absorb the anti-bodies.
I have a solution to the “nurse mare” foal sacrifice problem. This is so simple I don't know why no one ever thought of it before. Now don't get me wrong, I do not approave of this business. I think it is just one of the “carbunkles (boils) on the backside” of the horse breeding industry. But if it has to be, I think is a large mare is bred to a very beautiful shetland, welsh pony (or otherwise) stallion, that big girl could not only feed the customer's foal, but her own teeny tiny baby as well.
One of the best kept secrets in the equine industry is that any pony (under 14.2 hands), especially typy pretty ones can be sold to A circuit people for thousands of dollars! I'll bet a weanling of this coupling could easily bring $5000 at the pony auction in (I think) Virginia? Once a year this auction takes place, all they sell is ponies and reps from very fancy stables are there to purchase for their clients children and students.
Combine the personality of some big, gentle warmblood or draft horse mare and the size and spunk of some fancy American Shetland and a really nice baby with looks and gentleness and personality will be the result. I've seen 14h A circuit ponies go for $40,000 or more!
I hate the whole idea of the breeding of too many horses. The foals of nurse mares can not be bought across state lines into MA. Bottle raising foals is very difficult. They need their mommies. According to “the law” these foals must be euthanized. Don't know all the details, don't want to. Just another sin against horses. But, if it's going to happen, this is a seriously great solution. These foals would have the chance to go on living (what kind of “horse person” would allow this to happen anyway?!) The baby would be valuable, could stay with it's mother and grow up with his adopted sibling, seems like a win/win situation to me.
This mare would have plenty of milk to nurse both foals, plenty of colostrum, the foals and mom could be a mini-herd. Socialization would not be a problem. Foals will learn to be horses from each other, no spoiled brats to deal with and beautiful baby to be sold for lots of money plus the adopted foal will probably be more successful as a horse as well.
I guess I said it before, but I really hate the nurse mare business. But this could work so well for all. Poor little babies...

Man Vs. Animal

When did torture, cruelty, and murdering of animals comes into fashion? Anyone seen “Swamp People”, “American Hoggers”, or “Turtle Man”? Why isn't it against the law in every state in this country to use dogs to hunt down and attack any animal, even feral pigs? For the hunted there is no escape.
What about “Turtle Man” who catches “problem” wild animals with his bare hands, all the while screaming at them as he terrifies them in a small area from which there is no escape. Obviously these “encounters” are staged. These animals, for some reason dont just tear this man to shreads, they only want to get away.
Then there's the “Swamp People”, somehow they trap alligators, haul them over the edge of their boat and shoot them to death before our very eyes. What do they do with them after they execute them? When did alligators stop being protected? Is this legal? Do they eat them? Most of those killed are huge. How can even their thick armor like hides be used for anything?
How can it be alright for horribly mauled and mutilated feral pigs, still alive, be allowed to be stacked on top of each other on their backs (literally “hog tied”) on racks of ATVs, possibly for hours while these people get their load filled? The dogs used are often terribly injured as well. Not just men, but women too are involved in these blood baths. They think of themselves as quite awesome.
I know that this crap has probably been going on for years but for some reason not they are filmed and put on public TV for the world to watch. Even the horrible documentaries of how animals kill each other for food on every nature channel, all life and death struggles in nature for all to watch. What has become of the human race that such “Entertainment” floats their boat?
With the death of beautiful, gentle, Steve Irwin, who treated all creation with reverence, love and respect, these horrible documentaries have become rampant.
Much of the human race has lost their empathy. With the dawning of computerized animation where “anything goes”, and the horrible is excepted because it isn't “real”, the creation is suffering. Are humans no longer able to separate animation from reality? Blood lust has overflowed from video games, “cartoons” and movies making these horrible reality shows and documentaries acceptable because people often can no even see the difference.
Let me tell you now, Jehovah, creators of the universe and all living things, the owner of us all is watching. We will be held accountable. He gave us permission to eat animals, but not to kill, maim or torture them for sport or fashion. Not even a sparrow fall from the sky without his knowing. Think about that! MT 10:29 Jesus himself said this!
I know I sound preachy, but you know, this must be told. So very soon there will be an accounting – and no power in the universe will stop it. God's kingdom is coming. We are living in the last days. Each night while watching the news, can count on my fingers the Bible prophecies being fulfilled right now! Soon wars will cease to the extremities of the earth – wars between humans and between animals. These is so much more involved than can be written here in this article and all have the right to make their own choices, but time is running out. Justice is on horizon – the storm is coming.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Rest in Peace, Dear Fancy

Eye of the Storm lost Fancy on December 5, 2013. She was 26 years old and likely had cancer. She was a lovely girl and will be missed. Below are some photos of her in the snow taken back in 2011.

Please see the donation button on the left to help support the friends Fancy left behind. Thank you!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Why We Use Positive Horse Training

While I've been working at EOTS for years – I also have my own 3 horses. Mine are rescues too, the littlest is a pony who is one of EOTS's rescues, then I have a small black draft mare, Tank, and a large Belgian draft, Revel. Tank was my first horse. While I've learned more than I can say by volunteering at EOTS owning and living with my own horse really ended up being a crash course in horse care, nutrition and especially training!
Before Tank I was a dreamer. I read every book on natural horse training, communicating clearly with your horse, speaking their language. Wow it was different with a real horse! While Tank progressed slow and steady with the basics she had some glaringly obvious issues we needed to work on. The most obvious was her fear. She was afraid of the world – and wouldn't leave whatever spot she decided was her safe spot, her stall and paddock. Another big issue was that when she was overwhelmed, frightened or confused she would run away to her safe place – and there was nothing you could do to stop her.
When this began my heart was broken. I had always dreamed of training and riding my own horse, of having that magical relationship you hear of with everyone else. Why couldn't we make this work?! I was so frustrated – then I realized, so was she.

I needed to find a way to communicate with her that was clear and left no room for confusion or questioning. I needed to find a way to work with her that was based on her wanting to do what I ask, because there is no amount of force I can use to make her do what I want, if she doesn't also want to. I can't out muscle her, I need to outsmart her, I needed to make her think that doing what I asked was the best thing ever.
With nothing left to loose I experimented with a training style I had heard of on the internet. I found a few good videos on how to gets started – and I tried it. And it worked. It worked fast! The training style is based on Positive Reinforcement (reward based training). I started by teaching her just to stand still and face forward – setting the president that if she wants her reward she must always be contained and politely respecting my space. At the same time I taught her a bridge signal. This signal can be the click of the clicker or a smoochy sound I make myself, or any unique sound that won't happen by accident. This bridge signal “bridges” the gap between the action the horse performs and the reward that will follow. The “bridge” signal buys me time to get her reward and enables me to mark behaviors that I can't be rewarding while they're in progress (jumping or lunging for example).
Once I taught her how to be respectful of my space for her reward and what the bridge signal means – I taught her to target. I held out a crop and when she touched it with her nose she got her bridge+reward. I used the target to teach pretty much everything else from here on out! She's learned to lunge at liberty (in a full paddock, forming an even circle around me – not a round pen), to lead at liberty over and around obstacles, to give to pressure and some other simple tricks. I also spent a great deal of time “counter conditioning” her to objects that frighten her. I started with simple things, plastic bags, plastic bottles with noisy things inside – I would make these objects come alive and reward when she showed signs of calmness or curiosity. Soon she began to realize all these silly objects Mom came with wonderful things. She soon loved whatever I could throw at her – she reaches to touch objects she's never seen before.
I like to explain to people that when I got my Tank she was a “shoot first, ask questions later” type of girl – she'd spook and explode at anything that could, maybe, be a threat. But now she's gained so much confidence, she's beginning to “ask questions” first, she's beginning to let curiosity win out over fear. I have continued to learn more and more about the training style, learning more about the science and the art of how to train using Positive Reinforcement.

I handle her almost completely at liberty (without tack) now. The only times she wears tack is in “minimal choice” situations, like for the vet or farrier. She knows in these situations she must comply – but because I've spent so long reinforcing these behaviors at liberty – it takes the stress away from when she has no choice over the situation. Because I work with her mostly without tack, I am forced to listen to her, understand how she's feeling and working around her feelings that day – I'm forced to train her at her speed. It leaves me without a choice but to work as a leader and partner – rather than a boss.
I have never felt such a partnership with a horse before as when my horse has complete choice whether or not to work for me, and knowing that as a fair leader I'm rewarding her and making the experience something she enjoys as much as I do.
I have found my partner in Tank.

Since I've found how wonderful this is, how easy to understand and how happy and eager horses become with this training style I've begun to try it with the horses at the rescue. The young volunteers have practiced it with their horses and have learned how to trust their favorite horses. They've learned they don't need to use tools, force or pain to control their animal – but instead how to work in partnership with their friend. They have each picked their favorites to work with – I love watching their relationships grow and their goals change and expand as they get better and better. If you follow our facebook you'll be sure to see lots of pictures and videos of the girls working with their favorite horses.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Memories of Junebug

Junebug was always shedding!
I realized today that I have been taking care of some of the Eye of the Storm horses for ten years now! That's a long time to have known, loved and cared for anyone. Junebug was one who was there from the beginning. She is everyone's “first” at EOTS. Whenever we had a new volunteer, Junebug was the first for them to lead in or out, the first for them to groom, the first for them to fall in love with. Whenever Junebug walked by we had an on-going joke of “watch out! She's fast!” and “she's a wild one – hold onto her tight!” - Junebug did NOT find this as funny as we did! Regardless of whether a new volunteer was leading her or if we just left the gate open for her, she would teeter her way into the barn, grabbing a bite or two on her way in of whatever goody she could find.
Despite her physical difficulties Junebug had a very important mission at Eye of the Storm, not just in comforting our horses who are reaching their final days, but also in welcoming and teaching our new volunteers.

While she wasn't the biggest fan of children – she knew it was her job to take care of them. There was one day we had an entire girl scout troop come in to meet the horses, Junebug was volunteered to be their grooming project (she is well known for her extreme shedding!). Buggy stood like a stone while 5-10 girls climbed all around her, combing and currying and brushing every inch of her tiny self. She was eternally patient. When she was done she politely put her head against me (as I held her) and told me she was ready to go back to her stall. At Eye of the Storm we don't ask much of our horses – and usually, when we do need something from them they are happy to oblige, especially Buggy. We will all miss her.
All dolled up by the girls!

Nice to Meet You!

Hello! I am Jessica, a life-long volunteer at Eye of the Storm. I've popped up a few times on this blog, and if you follow our facebook page (which you should!) I'm the one always posting all those pictures of the horses.

I've been volunteering at Eye of the Storm since I was 14 years old, being 24 now – that's a whopping TEN years! Wow the time flies. I started as just a horse loving kid who wanted more out of a relationship with a horse than just once a week riding for half an hour. At Eye of the Storm I discovered how intelligent and kind horses are. Having few human friends in my childhood, the horses here become my rocks, Solomon and Noogie in particular. Solomon showed me the ropes of Eye of the Storm. He taught me how to speak “horse”. He is as mild and kind as a horse can get, but due to his past he has some sore spots. He taught me where he liked to be scratched and where I should never touch. He taught me about how the herd works – he was the lead gelding of his herd of mares, at the time he had Nessa, Snowdrop, Junebug and Bianca. He taught me how he protected his mares, but he also taught me that Nessa was really the one in charge. He did the guarding – but she kept everyone in line. I've watched through the years as his herd dwindled, I've seen his sadness when he lost his beloved Snow Drop. He loved her so much – it wasn't much reciprocated, but he protected her and worried when she was away. He taught me what love looked like in it's purest form. He is my friend still today, while he's grown old and I've gotten my own horses – I watch him still as he takes care of the new volunteers and takes care of the girls who are just like I was – teaching them what horses really are.

One of our first rides together
I rode Solomon only 2 or 3 times in our time together, he wasn't sound very often. I remember each time and loved every moment of it. Being given permission to ride by Nina is a badge of honor here, it means she trusts us to do right by the horses. It means she believes our relationship with the horse is strong enough to be safe. And we were safe, Solomon took great care of me. The first time was just in the ring we walked and gaited and had tons of fun. Riding him was like riding a couch! But riding him taught me to pay attention to what he was telling me. I started to see when he said he was uncomfortable and it was time to stop. I started to know when it was time to play, when he was bored or excited. We even got to go on one glorious trail ride! We rode through the woods and encountered some dirt bikers who had dug a jump for their bikes – my loyal steed Solomon carried me past those bikes and we flew over the jump together! I have taken lessons for years, jumped and ridden several horses – but nothing compared to that feeling. He was pretty sore and uncomfortable the next day, we decided that would be our last trail. But I think we both thought it was pretty worth it! I love him even still today, he's the first grizzled old face I see when I enter the barn and the last nose to kiss good night to. His herd is down to just one, Bianca, but he still does his job and protects her. Solomon has taught me to speak horse.
Solomon helping me get ready for the last open house

Eye of the Storm has been so much for me. I've learned to speak horse, I've learned that horses are so much more than something to ride on, the horses are each worth so much more than what they can do for us. The horses at Eye of the Storm can't do much for us, and we don't ask much of them – but they gave me what I needed most, friends and a safe haven. I've learned too about health and nutrition and about how even something as simple as what we eat can greatly affect how we feel and think! If we balanced our diets as well as we balanced our horses, with the herbs and supplements we'd all feel so great! I've been at EOTS through surgeries and vet care, I've helped wash Rose's hives and held Viking's head during his gelding, and Czardas's head during her canker removal. I've learned the goods and bads about modern veterinary medicine, the options we as animal caretakers have to keep our animals safe. I've learned about the beginning of life with our two colts, and the end of life with the many we've been there for when it was their time to cross over. Being here has provided me with more opportunities than I can imagine, including a scholarship to college and job opportunities. EOTS has truly shaped my life and will become my future.

I'll be posting up a few stories as well as Nina's on the blog so keep an eye of who signs it! :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hail to Thee

I fear greatly for racing Thoroughbreds, but we seem to manage to watch the Kentucky Derby each year at the barn. I don't care who wins, but I always pray for them to just make it safely to the finish line without injury. Our tiny TV is in the middle of the barn.
Gabriel is our 25 year old stallion was race horse. He won 17 of his races and come in second and third several times. He ran in 98 races. He won a hard earned $100,000 for his owners in that time. He has been away from the track for 18 years. But every time he hears the trumpets at the start of the race, he lifts his head and stares off into the distance with the “look of eagles”. He still remembers. My magnificent silver stallion, “Hail to Thee” was his name, my beautiful old man.

I Am Tired

It seems all I ever write is sad things. I am sorry. But this is a sad place. Sad that these beautiful, powerful beings come here to live the last of their lives because no one else wants them. It is sad that there is a need for places like Eye of the Storm. It is sad that we are so underfunded, overworked and terrified all the time. It is sad that all I can do is make them comfortable until I have to say goodbye. I ask myself often why did I take on this job? In the beginning I just wanted to make a difference. I guess I have. I guess I am strong enough, stronger than most, but I am tired, just plain tired. I need peace in my heart, a rest from fear, so many lives in my care, where will the money for the next load of hay com from? Every single day I am afraid. What will I find in the morning? When I leave them at night I pray for them, that they will be kept safe until I see them again. I dream about them. I wake up in the night, my heart pounding, from nightmares about them. I am tired.

We need money to go on. Thank you all so much for your support. Please help us.

Some Things We Cannot Fix

I do not have many friends. I am told, by those who dare, how unfriendly I am. Those who do not dare, disappear and never speak to me again. I am some kind of misplaced warrior, who, alone stands before the abyss to keep a barn full of completely broken horses safe, lost ones who were cast aside by their humans long ago. I have stopped worrying about the feelings of humans as even on good days this berserker energy of mine surrounds me and sends humans running – I cannot change who I am, I finally accept that. What that has cost me, no one but myself and God knows. I am old and ugly now, I can't stand looking at myself in the mirror.
Junebug has died. For 16 years I have kept her illness at bay. At 6 years old she was morbidly obese with rolls of cellulite fat all over her body with Cushings/insulin resistance, founder in all four hooves. With the help of God Jehovah as I prayed for wisdom, I was able to maintain Junebug and keep her healthy and reasonably pain free for the rest of her life. This year I lost the battle. At 22 years old Junebug is gone.
I blamed myself, of course. As I cleaned Faith's stall, I was thinking horrible thoughts about myself, that this job is a fools job. That I have disillusioned myself about how I have any control over anything and how stupid I am to think there is anything “special” about me. Beyond my absolute obsession over the care of a bunch of animals. Who the heck do I think I am? Faith uncharacteristically kept following me around her stall as I cleaned. When I finally stopped moving she wrapped her neck around me and pulled me into her body. She knew what I was thinking and told me I was wrong. I am their person, I belong to them. I acknowledge that horses can't be owned. They choose us. I have been chosen in this small circle of Eye of the Storm, it is I who stands before the abyss. It is I who holds death at bay. Horses die. We all die. When their time is up, I let them pass, but until that moment I will help them live. I am not to blame. They come to me so shattered. Most of them would have died years ago. I love them so much, I expect nothing from them. They would all follow me through fire. I am their leader.
And so, I have never fit into the place where “normal” humans dwell. I have mentioned a time or two, it's not enough that I would take a bullet for someone, I have to be nice too? Well, though I try hard, I'll never really be “nice”, not by the standards of the world. Oh well.
Coco is very sad about Junebug. As I led her outside for the last time, they both knew. Junebug was exhausted, in terrible pain and just wanted it to be over. She kept asking me to help her get there. Coco reached out and licked her face. Over and over again, she gave her the strength to walk out the door. They each knew they were saying goodbye, they never made a sound, they just knew – and it was ok.
Coco is a little feral horse who does not want to be touched but is obviously grieving. I can only speak quietly around her now and feed her carrots to help her. She appreciates that very much. She is very special, I think Junebug passed the torch to Coco, to be the barn's caregiver to the dying members of EOTS. Something makes it possible for me to go on. When I just want to run away and never come back, when my heart is so broken I can barely breathe, I am still here.
I guess there is just no where else for me to go. These horses call me back because I belong to them. And they love me.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Teaching Human

I am teaching our baby pony, Zephyr to understand human language. This is a second chance for me to do it right. He is a gift to me. The loss of Tim, my constant, was not as devastating as it could have been because Zephyr stepped in and took his place. I think this was Tim's plan, to find a replacement for himself to care for me. Zephyr is young and new and beautiful. He is unbroken by a life of slavery, illness or despair. He is so smart that I need only to show him once and he remembers. He is only a year old but he focuses on me and wants to please me.
I do not set him up for failure by asking horse his attention at feeding time or if he wants to spend time with the other horses. I do not need to own his soul. We will befriends,he will love me because I will not treat him like a posession. I will make all our interactions fun and peasant. He is not “halter broke” yet but when I say “come walk with me”, he does. I do bribe him though. There needs to be a common ground between us as we learn to communicate, as I teach him English words. When he does as I ask, I hand him a teeny carrot. I don't make him guess what I want so much as I show him. By positioning my body in a spot where I would lead him if he wore a halter I wave a carrot a few steps ahead of him, when he takes a step, I give it to him. He has learned to walk with me. I talk senences to him, not sharp single word commands. Just as the horses speak to each other in equine, I speak to him in human. I know once the language barrier is breached, they understand every word we say to them. I have lived in the company of horses, every single day, for over 50 years. I do not communicate with humans so well, but horses and I “get” each other. Where I have failed in almost all other facets onlife, I have succeeded in living with horses. I can holler paragraphs at Gabriel when he acts like a dope. He knows exactly what I'm saying and I him. If he's cold, he “tells” me. I say “do you want your blanket?” He picks it up and throws is to me. “Yeah”, he says, “I'm freezing!” tossing his head and nickering until I step to and put it on him. I've lived with him for 14 years. We know each other!
My baby Zephyr J. Doodle Bug is a clean slate, an equine sponge. He is the gentlest stud colt I have ever had. The only bad thing he does is toss a playful kick in my direction when he's running around. That is pretty bad, but they all do that. I always watch for it and try to nip this behavior in the bud, but he is a baby and horses tend to be less reactive as they age. He has only done it a few times and always stops and says”Oh! So very sorry mum!” he comes back to me with those huge, all the lights are on eyes and becomes soft and loving. He is not a space invader but will put his head on my shoulder, he Never bites. We stand on equal ground, he and I. I've never had that before. It is new and exciting to find such a kindred spirit in a horse.
Viking was violent and vicious as a stallion, even as a yearling. All he wanted was what he wanted. He was willing to maim us humans with teeth or hooves any way he could. It took two of us to clean his stall. One would keep him occupied while the other power cleaned his stall. Gelding him as soon as possible was a necessity. After that he became a noodle. He loves people, would live in our pocket if there was a way. He is still not very gentle at time, but as I walked with him one day, he stayed at my side with ho halter, only my arm around his neck in a companionably way, as gentle as he has ever been. I suddenly realized that he now understands the language of humans too! By my handling him every day just walking him in and out of his stall, by his own observation, he has learned.
These beings teach me something new every single day. They are brilliant, few people today get the opportunity to really know their horses. Most board them, not keep them in their own back yard. These horses do not become family members where they are watched and cared for by their owners every single day. This is very sad as these beings add so much to our lives if given the chance. They are capable of offering us incredible loyalty and friendship when treated like more then possessions.
And so it was okay after all for my Timothy Daniel James to leave me when he did. It was time. Never again will he suffer in the hot summers, or live with terribly painful feet. His life was well lived, and before he left me, along came Zephyr J. Doodle Bug. For a long time after I kept expecting to see his beautiful face over his stall door, to hear him nicker to me throughout the day,but now I realize that I have let him go. I think he wouldn't mind.
And so, a new chapter begins. Zephyr is here!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Horse in need of a home!!

There is a black and white pinto colt in need of a good home. He's living with the family who rescued our Thursday and Zephyr, he's about the same age and size as Zephyr (6-8months) will grow up to be a small horse or large pony. We don't know much about him, but he probably isn't well halter broke and not handled much at all. He seems kind and honest, but will need to be gelded for sure. Call Nina for details. (978) 809-2090 Eye of the Storm does NOT have the room or money to take him but he needs a good home!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Sometimes we reach the point where there are no band-aids left in the box. Our's for Tim just ran out.
I found him unable to place his right front hoof on the ground as he groaned in pain. He kept calling me to help him. Somehow in the night irreparable damage was done to his shoulder. There wasn't a band-aid big enough to save him this time. He managed to lay down in his stall to rest. I knew he could never stand up again. Surrounded by love and attended by his angel, we let him go.
The day before was a good day for Tim. He walked the farthest he had in years on his own. He appeared to be conversing Fancy and Czardas, as they stood with their heads together, he ate whatever new grass he could find and generally had a fine time for himself.
I like to think that he needed this last bit of his life to find a replacement for himself, someone to take care of me, after he was gone. Perhaps that is what he was talking to the mares about. My best friend Timothy Daniel James how can I live without you?
And so we try very hard to let the horses decide when they've had enough, but sometimes we just run out of band-aids and the choice is taken from us. Now, all his pain is over – may we find each other again in paradise. Amen-

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Come On!!!

At 6:00 PM at the end of the last snow storm on 3/19/13, I went to feed our new colt Zephyr and his mom Thursday, their dinner. Usually they turned out in the morning and we visit them and check in on them all day. On this day, safely snug in their stall and having to care for the other 16 horses, which included cleaning all stalls and having to push the wheelbarrow through unplowed snow to the manure pile. Thinking all was safe and sound, I fed lunch at 2:00 pm then carried on.
Upon returning to feed dinner to the mare+foal (they are in a separate 2 stall barn), I found Zephyr distressed with green goop running from his nose, with each breath he bubbled and gurgled. A freaking Choke!!! He had probably been like this since lunch!
We got these two just before the onset of winter when the colt was 3 months old and he wasn't halter trained. He is friendly and we can pet him but is too wild to handle still and we felt we could deal with that later when we weaned him. With daylight savings time and all the storms etc. we really didn't have the time to spend with him and felt it could wait.
Well that said, here I am with an untrained foal experiencing a severe choke and I can't even catch him to help him. A choking horse needs to be calm and keep it's head down to avoid sucking food into it's lungs, very bad indeed if that happens.
With my heart racing and my mouth gone completely dry, I just wanted to run away from all of this as fast and as far as I could.
It was getting dark and I was all alone. Frantically I called the vet – beginning them to please come help me – I could barely breath- I will take the time now to say “Brett Gaby, I love you. No matter how awful the situation, when you get here, I know everything will be alright”.
He arrived in 10 minutes! It took 3 of us to catch the colt, in the process and excitement of it all the choke resolved itself. Dr. Gaby gently passed a foal sized stomach tube through a nostril and all was clear. (This was after 2 doses of tranquilizer, one in his neck muscle to slow him down and the other IV to stop him in his tracks). I asked if he could please give me a shot of that stuff too – ever been there?
Zephyr is now wearing Sugar Plum's halter. That in itself was probably worth the whole circus it took to get it there. Sugar Plum will wear Noogie's baby halter until she gets her own back. No one ever gets to use Noogie's things, but I guess he wouldn't mind, but it was hard for me because he was my son and died too soon.
And so there is much to be said about halter training newborn foals before they get big enough to realize that are stronger than you – because chokes happen – as do many other “unforseen occurrences” that require handling babies.
All turned out well enough, though these episodes leave me shaken for fays. We now have a substantial veterinary bill to pay and are almost out of money again. Please help us, we can not continue this work with you donations.
We continue to work on the “unwanted horse” issues as well as helping to expose the atrocious cruelties still going on in this great country of ours. The public has a very strong voice. We encourage it to be used in an educated non-frivolous way. We are making a difference. The powers that be are taking heed. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

February 4, 2013

On 2/4/2013 the vet came to float Tim's teeth. She told me, instead, that he should be euthanized because of a laminitic hoof, that he was in pain and his quality of life was not good. I have the greatest respect for this vet and every single day I ask myself if it is time for it to be over for Tim. Tim is my very best friend in all the world. I tell him 20 times a day that I love him so very much. He is my constant and I am his. He is very old. He has been with me for twelve years. When the last of his vision faded from his eyes he gave his trust, his life, to me.
When we euthanized Snowdrop I planned it all out. I told everyone that knew her to come and say goodbye, they had 2 weeks to do this. We got the backhoe to dig her grave and made an appointment for the vet to come on a certain day. Snowdrop knew she was going to die that day. She just did. I swore I would never do that again. She just checked out, we could barely make her walk to her grave. I did not want that to happen to Tim.
Tim is a time bomb. I know his day is coming. I always said that if he ever chokes or colics that will be the end – no heroics, just over. In all our years together, Tim has never been sick.
As I held Tim on this day, 2/4/13, I sobbed and prayed. I had been convinced by the vet that this should be the end of his life. I asked for help from the Great Creator of horses and asked if Tim's angel could be with us to help.
The day before a human friend of mine had broken my heart. I was very sad. I really wanted some kind of small miracle to take place for me, I even prayed for one, silly as it seems, I felt so alone.
I put Tim's halter on and said “come on my love, let's go for a walk”. Because this was it, the last walk we would ever take together. As I looked right at Tim he rubbed his head against the stall door frame, caught some part of his halter on the stall guard eye bolt, the crown piece broke and it fell from his face. In all the years that I've had horses I have never had a halter break. I believe I just saw my miracle. Tim did not die that day. I said “well, there's my answer”.
He got his teeth done, I fed him his favorite candy. Tim is not leaving me just yet – and that's the TRUTH! - Amen.
I hand pick our vets. Only the best will do for us – but they are not always right. Sometimes I am. I have cared for Tim all these years. I have seen his good days and his bad days, I have seen him rally time after time. This was no wheres near as bad as he has been. He just keeps getting over stuff.
Maybe Tim's time will be up in a week, a month, or a year. Maybe he will make it into God's Kingdom and never die at all. I just don't know, but it wasn't on 2/4/13. His halter which he snapped and fell from his face 10 seconds before walking to his death, one minute after my prayers, well – I don't know – too many “coincidences” for me. Again I still feel that the horses tell me when it's over. Tim was telling me no such thing. He had his head out the door, snuffling around, knocking things over finding bits of hay on the floor to eat. His teeth were well cared for and he wanted Food!!
My work here at EOTS is endless and difficult for my aging body to manage sometimes. I do have the help of my wonderful volunteers and especially my “hydra-bud” Jessica, but I so depend on the powerful energy of these beloved horses to get me through the days. Especially Tim. His is just always connected to me. His quiet presence lends me his strength of spirit. He hugs me and comforts me. He is far better than any human whose job should have been the same. Any time, day or night he's there to help me. I know that he is probably going to die some day. Of all the horses here I will miss him the most, but on this day 2/4/13, I was reminded that dearest Tim a gift given to me for a reason that I do not understand yet. My beloved beautiful Tim – the most precious horse in the world.

And Then
The day after Tim's almost death, my dear friend Ruthie appeared with her farrier. Tim had his feet trimmed. He's left front hoof twists inward, we don't know why, but this was the one the vet was concerned about. The problem was the right front. The farrier discovered a subsolar abscess. That was a very good thing! The abscessed hoof hurt like crazy which caused him to use his twisted hoof as the weight carrier. He was very painful under these circumstances. I have watched this cycle for years, Tim is used to it and I see it so often I don't even worry about it any more. I will break the cycle this time though. We have to fix it so the abscesses never returns.
Time gets around fairly well as long as he only needs to limp on his twisted foot, but the abscesses need to go.

Love Is -?

Some of us are just not lovable people. I tried for most of my life to find a human to love. I just didn't know how. It was a game I couldn't win. One day I just got tired of failing. Loving and being loved by animals is just so easy. It is pure, it is real and it requires no effort at all. Animals either love you or they don't. It's immediately obvious, there is no flirting, no ex-partners to fight with – their loyalty is guaranteed for life. They don't judge you, cheat on you, or leave you for a younger person They know your voice, feel your energy and greet you with noisy enthusiasm when reunited with you, whether after years of separation or a 5 minute walk to the manure pile. Everyone one of our horses would follow me through fire. They don't all love me, but they trust me. That is a huge responsibility. Our horses all understand words, not just short commands, but whole sentences. When I say “Would you please move over so I can pick up that puddle of pee you're standing in?” They do, I try to remember to say “thank you”, they like that.
In Gabriel's case “How long do you think you're going to wait for lunch if you stand there roaring and thumping at me?” grumbling and muttering under his breath at what an ass he thinks I am, he backs off and sticks his head in the corner and waits until I feed him. He knows I always win this game, because I have his lunch and if he wants it he has to let me win. Gabriel adores me. He's like a big goofy teenage boy, he pushes me around and sometimes almost bites me when I'm too stupid to understand his needs. Somethings he rests his teeth on me and gazes in my eyes with pure love, if no one is looking. I introduce him to people as “my husband Gabriel”. We're like an old married couple, the Frank and Marie Barrone of the horse/human world (from the Everybody Loves Raymond show). Though Gabriel belongs to an angel, I cherish our time together even though we argue most of the time, I will miss him very much when he leaves me, though it will be much quieter around here. He is so beautiful he just blows my mind. I always was a sucker for a pretty face.
I am surrounded by the most beautiful beings in creation. I am an artist and really appreciate beauty. Horses are masterpieces of design. From their incredible hoof structure to their frivolously useless manes, which I believe only exist to make us love them more, makes them more appealingly gorgeous. There is no more wonderful smell than on that velvety spot just behind a nostril. Their intelligence and ability to figure things out, if you give them the time to do it, is fun to watch. They are all excellent people trainers as well. We have to be careful of that because they remember everything if it works once, they'll do it again. Very clever beings are horses.
Dear old Gorgeous blind Tim has a very deep bed of soft shavings. Because of his long list of problems, he lays down a lot. While we clamber over and around him to trim his feet, he can't stand on 3 feet for trims so I hack away at his hooves as best I can or Georgia our farrier does it if he's laying down while she's there. He's so good. He knows we are helping him and just sleeps through it all. I am always on the look out for pressure sores, especially on his hips. I found an oozing abscess recently that I cared for as best I could, but pressure sores are notoriously difficult to manage on horses. This one was pretty bad an my guilt for not noticing sooner was great. I cleaned it and packed it with medicine, but I wonder, is it time for it all to be over for Tim? How much suffering does he have to endure? He is in his 30s and he will never be made well. Tim knows when I even think these thoughts. He reads my mind. If I could just wrap him in Willie's memory foam mattress, to pad his boney parts 'til they healed – How I love my dearest Tim. He spits out teeth, eats 5 buckets of hay cubes, 4 grain feedings and all the hay he can manage with the few teeth he has left, daily. He is no problem at all to me. I am with him all day and he never complains. He totters outside and loves to roll in the snow and nap in the sun. He is magnificent. He wraps his neck around me and comforts me in my distress. Tim is my friend and most loyal supporter. He loves me too.
And so, I have never quite “connected” with the human race. My berserker energy is pretty intimidating to most people, but I have been accepted into the world of horses. We just “know” each other. Wherever I go, we just “know” each other. I am not lonely. Being surrounded by too many humans makes me nervous and noodgy. So I pretty much live by horse rules. They are easy to understand. I have stopped trying to explain myself to people. Now that I am old and not beautiful anymore very few want to be around me and I don't get away with the behavior that I used to. But horses – will horses are what I am – always have been – and that is very truly good enough.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!

Though once the public is aware humane laws can be put in place and enforced, but that can only happen in the US, Mexico is where this all originated. That is where most of our unwanted horses end up. Slaughter bound horses are used in bloody bull fights and in these horrible rodeos and parades. They are the toilet paper that makes these cesspool crap spectacles possible. No live horse from this country should ever be shipped to Mexico! We must stop the unwanted horse problem in this country. The law must be; if you make them, they are yours. Where ever they may spend the useful part of their life, at the end, they “come home to papa”. End of life care goes to the breeder- slaughter, not an option- Micro-chips!! - “You can run but you can't hide.”
Do I sound fanatical? I have been in this business for a long time. I have practical wisdom, practical knowledge. I am not a vegetarian, death is the end of life. Death isn't the problem. It's the fear, the horror and the pain that leads to death that I have a problem with. It's the betrayal of a loyal family member who can not understand why they are in such a horrible place. Do you get it? Are you with me in this? These are goals. Don't waste time on useless pursuits. Closes the slaughter houses in this country did not solve the problem. If anything it made is far worse.
I don't want horses to be slaughtered. I love them. I have devoted life they are my everything, but until there are no more unwanted horses, death, even for human consumption is better than being tortured in Mexico, I am their voice, that is my job -
Let your goals, your missions be to make it stop. No more cruel spectacles, no more overbreeding, make responsibility the law. No more unwanted horses = no more slaughter horses, no more horses shipped to Mexico – PERIOD!
Use the law to our advantage. The bill in committee about Tennessee Walkers used the “horse protection act” to write this bill backed by the AAEP and the AVMA. These are not do-gooder animal rights groups these are veterinarians. Lets get them on board with this. Lets write us up a bill. Lets let the world know these abusers can't do this anymore. Let's do now. Lets make sure it passes. We can win this!

“In that day there will prove to be upon the bells of the horse 'holiness belongs to Jehovah”. Zech 14:20
This is my very favorite scripture. There will be justice!

So Much CRAP!!

I have recently become aware of a couple more causes worth fighting for. Just when I thought I had seen it all-
Ever hear of the wonderful art of “horse tripping”? I knew what it was. We even had a pony, Willie, who I believe to have been a victim. But thanks to the internet and those little magic phones all the kids carry around, I got to actually see it. It was so barbarically horrible, one of the worst things I have ever seen. Thank you Ali.
The other was the magical training of Spanish dancing horses. Thank you Jess. This too I could only watch for a few seconds. The Spanish style rodeos and parades where the events take place (even in Florida and other US states!) must be shut down forever. These hideous spectacles must end. The deplorable cruelty is – is – I have no words.
There are those who would protest my thoughts. Those who would say “but this is our culture, our traditions!” and I would retort “Cannibalism was once a cultural traditional among some people too but that is now against the law!” In this modern world why is this crap still going on?? Why do cheering crowds enjoy watching helpless animals tortured and murdered?
I don't encourage any one to watch these videos but if you need more convincing look on the HSUS website where you too may be enlightened to the art of “horse tripping”. Then do something about it - be prepared for nightmares.
I pray for justice for the horses, sooner rather than later. The creator of the universe and owner of all horses will have had enough - “Let your Kingdom come”. Amen

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Precious new life.

After a great deal of soul searching, sleepless nights and prayers, I knew we had to take in a seriously underweight pony mare and her 4 month old colt. I am old and tired and ready to pass Eye of the Storm on to the younger capable people as the last of our aged sanctuary horses die off. I am here alone on so many days caring for them all and I am ready to give up my gross boot collection and disgusting fleece winter hats and retire. But one look at this pair of lost souls and I knew my work will probably go on until I die.
The mare, a lovely bay with a horse-type winter coat, not the fluffy fuzz-ball look of our little ponies, has slender elegant legs and perfectly trimmed hooves. Someone some where took very good care of her at one point. She is about 13 hands tall with a squiggly narrow blaze down her face. She is skin and bones. We can not find out a thing about her. Again secrets surrounding horses in this condition – no one wants to accept responsibility. I think she is around 15 years old. She is in serious need of dental care, but she is able (and willing!) to eat all the soft second cut hay we can give her and seems otherwise healthy.
The colt is elegantly beautiful as well and seems, so far, to be extremely gentle. Unlike our other monstrous baby – Viking Too, upon arrival! He appears to be absolutely perfect. With huge eyes, curly ear tips and a little velvet, very black muzzle that becomes flaming gold at a point just behind his lips and nostrils. Having been born in September he still has his baby coat so we don't know what his permanent color will be but his legs are coal black almost to his belly. He has no white markings. His father was probably an Arab or Morgan. He has a somewhat dishy face.
Against my practical judgment and at the risk of becoming a “horse hoarder”, I simply could never face myself again if anything horrible happened to this pair.
Jessica and I both entertained ourselves with two very different, but equally horrible, scenarios. Jess, who knew of a small pony who, at the end of her career as a lesson pony had to give pony rides. This pony had had it with children by this time, but in the hottest of summer days with a thick Cushing's coat and no comfort from the relentless hear, she work all day long. Her teeth were so overgrown that she could barely eat and could not stand to have her face toughed. The owner's excuse? No one could float her teeth because they couldn't touch her face. Well that's what veterinarians and good old tranquilizers are for. This pony's life could have been changed in an hour if someone had cared to spend $150 to help her. So even though she made thousands of dollars for them that summer, they couldn't do that for her. At the end of the season she disappeared into the world. We pray she is safely dead, no more a victim of human greed and stupidity. The poor little being should have been retired and spoiled and loved at the end of her life – not worked and tortured.
Now my scenarios. When I was young I hung around at a livestock farm because they had horses. They also had a slaughterhouse.
They acquired a beautiful pinto pony stallion. He was just full of himself, picking fights with the geldings, bossing around the mares, just peacock proud, he was. He would strut around, neck arched, blowing and snorting – he was king of the world! Just a pretty, pretty boy.
One day I looked into the slaughter house and just like that – the King's reign was over. It was illegal, I wasn't supposed to see, but I did. Some man from a horse eating country bought the pony, killed him and fed him to his family.
This still happens everywhere. People eat horses. But no one was going to do it to this mare and colt.
Now the chance of these two scenarios actually taking place will never be known, but both Jess and I were traumatized enough by our own experiences to make sure they didn't happen here.
These two will be moved on to new homes. They are not broken beyond repair. We will find them homes where their lives can be rich with good food and exciting things. They will not be slaves. They will be partners to their very own person forever. These ponies don't need sanctuary they need a life!
So we will feed momma mare, fix her teeth and keep her with her baby until she weans him herself. We will halter train and nurture him and teach him to love people. We will geld him then show him that life is good. Then we will entrust them to their own very special people. We will always know where they are. They will never be lost to the world. They will be Micro-Chipped!! They will always belong to EOTS. If necessary they can always come back to us. That is our promise to them.

Justice for Tenn. Walkers Bill 6388

It seems our prayers are being answered concerning the Tennessee Walking Horse abuse and mutilations. There is now a well written bill in committee, backed by the American Veterinarian Association (AVMA) of Equine Practitioners (AAEP). On Nov 20th they called upon their members to contact their congressional reps. To support the house bill 6388.
This is truly a law worth presuming. This has two very powerful groups that are in the thick of this battle. These are not animal rights radical who do not understand the issues, these are veterinarians. It is time to put an end to these vicious practices. This country should no longer tolerate this ridiculous cruel crap.
This will be federal law, so country wide the practices will end!!