Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday already...

The week flew and horses and phone calls, and horses and work and more phone calls. We have had many folks call us this week asking if we can take horses......unfortunately we are full until we adopt one of our residents to a new family.

Rio and Gossip are ready to go and so we advertise and seek just the right family.....just the right person. We tell folks all they need to know and they tell us about themselves and we just wait to see how the magic between the horse and person goes. We are choosey.......we are particular. We put a lot of love and time into rehab. When a horse comes to trust us it becomes hard to turn them over to someone else. You never want anything bad to happen to them never want to see fear or despair in their eyes again........never want them to be hungry or thirsty or hurt. We take applications and screen. It doesn't take a lot of money, it doesn't take a fancy barn, you needn't be a fashion model or a professional rider......mostly it takes common sense, committment, enough money to support a horse and some honest about your limitations...we won't hold it against you....we want you to get a horse that is right for you.

So far the new paddock arrangements are working great.....everyone seems happy and sharing fencelines without any fence crashing either!

We have to make better arrangements for the manure pile. Our working chickens do what they can to keep it turned over, but it is growing. Last year we had plenty of folks who wanted it for their gardens after we advertised on Craigslist, so I suppose we will do it again. When the tractor man comes we will create a new place for it.

We are going to pour a cement slab outside the barn, so that we can make a proper washrack/shoeing stand.....just another weekend project we have lined up.

I checked the hay supply today and we still have about 3 ton. Seems like the price is a little cheaper. I must say that our hayman is so good to us....he always gives us a deal and he always donates to our fundraiser. We are checking into buying from a feed manufacturer for bulk buys of beet pulp and grain....seems like we can save some money that way.

Baby chicks are almost fully feathered now, scratching for bugs and begging for treats. I found the hen sitting on the workman's tailgate with him, begging for parts of his sandwich....and he was giving it to her. She is the one who runs to any car or truck when it comes in, so that she can check you for food. Hopefully she will teach the chicks to stay away from the pony. He stomped a chicken last year when it tried to get near his hay. We are not fond of this trait....however he keeps coyotes and stray dogs out of the pasture and away from the chickens. Mr. Watch Pony.

Enjoy your weekend........

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pictures from the weekend

Beaver the Pony Up mascot!

My Hanoverian Winston.

Rio, eating breakfast.


Monday morning and I always start my work week by reading about success and why we have it or why we don't. Some folks seem to have it all (success) and others seem to be looking around for it, while others just take what comes or maybe what doesn't come as their lot in life.

Some of us are too hard on ourselves and expect big achievements everytime. I am sometimes a workaholic, trying to fill a day with two days work........always having a "result" in mind.

Horses are good for me in that way. There is no hurrying a process with telling them that today they must do this or that. A work in progress....sometimes a study in patience, sometimes brute perseverance and stubborn determinedness (is this a word?!) but always a labor of love. When I feel like I have so much to do and so little time to myself, I remind myself that I do it for the love of the horses. My dad used to tell me that you will find love in responsibility and you will find that responsibility comes with love. He was right...and so no matter how tired or discouraged we take care of what we love because we are responsible.

My dad was a good guy. He wanted sons but got daughters.......but he made the best of it. He raised us like boys.......we hauled wood, we learned to hammer a nail like men, we got dirty and were not allowed to whine ...he taught me to believe that there is not anything that I cannot do, only those things I choose not to do. ...and that is one of my successes in life.

Anyway, I am rambling on this morning......

take the brakes off your heart and make a difference for someone or something in your life today! Volunteer.......the world needs you!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Herd dynamics

Bright and early Page and I are at the barn, get horses fed, barns cats fed and let out, chickens let out and fed.......then clean stalls, empty the wheelbarrow, then dump, clean and fill the stock tanks. The sun is out and the morning chill gradually warms up with a little sun. Hmmm......chore of the day? We need to move horses around in paddocks. Sounds like a small project, but not really. First we need to make a new fence line to keep the pony in his new area with his new loafing shed.....this will free up a stall that we need for Rio. Ollie and Rio share a paddock with a loafing shed...but need to be moved to the larger paddock which is attached to two stalls. The paddock is larger so they have more room to roam. The real issue here is that Ollie will not allow Rio into the Noble shelter when it is raining so Rio has to stay outside with just his nose inside the shelter. Rio needs shelter. So we will take the pony's stall and then Winston's stall. Winston will take the paddock with the Noble shelter. We pound some posts into the ground. We have to use metal with caps.......although we will eventually change these to wood. I hate metal, especially with big horses.

Okay, so we separate the pony into his new area and Winston cannot stand the change....he bolts right through the hotwire and goes in with the pony. I wonder who will get the upper hand. Beaver(the pony) is 11 hands but top dog around the farm. Winston is a large 17H warmblood and a drama queen. He has his nose in everything......he needs to know what everyone is doing and he needs to be part of it.

Page's eyes are the size of saucers. I tell her to duck under the fence to safety while the boys work it out and I will try to catch Winston. I get him cornered and into the holding pen.....then laugh as Page asks why they are so upset? I say......."because they have the brain of a gnat" and 'any change is exciting and a reason to buck and run". I tell her that the fun is not over yet, because we still have to move Ollie and Rio.

I get Ollie caught up and move him first.......he proceeds to buck and fart and run the length of the paddock. Then I get Rio and he follows suit. Winston is running laps in his holding pen and rearing on his hind legs. I go to him and halter him, then lead him out to the smaller paddock. ZOOOOOMMMMMMMMM. He is down and back and around.........snort, fart, buck. I decided that the term "fire breathing dragon" was man's interpretation of freshly turned out horses and not really dragons after all...all the horses were now running, making deep groaning sounds and then blowing out while practicing their best passage moves at liberty. Then one by one they threw themselves down in the dirt to take a quick roll and then got up and raced each other around the paddocks one more time. Finally all is quiet......Ollie and Rio start to graze. Winston decides to check out the Noble shelter and gazes up the driveway at my mom's house. My mom is gardening and Winston is fascinated. The chickens are going single file down the driveway and so I must go head them off before they get to the road. They must have heard that joke......?

I have leaves to rake and the barn to blow out. I decide that blowing leaves is really what the blower was for. I make a mess of the leaves. I figure there must be a science to this leaf blowing. I go back to blowing the barn out.....then I rake leaves for a while. I look at the horse trailer and it needs a wash job. Tomorrow....yes, tomorrow I will wash the trailer. Tomorrow I will repair some more fencing and decide how best to expand the arena. I hope it won't rain. I have a loafing shed that needs the roof fixed/expanded. Sunshine would be appreciated.

I trimmed manes before I fed dinner.....I did the bridle paths a couple of days ago. My mom states that the mane trims look like "home haircuts"........ hmmm......well maybe they do, but they look better than they did.

Tomorrow will be Sunday before we know it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A big day for the big baby!

Junah, our six year old, 17 hand rescued Thoroughbred, was ignored in a field for most of his life and, as a result, can be quite reactive and behaves very much like you'd expect from a two year old! He learns to deal with things but you always have to be on the alert and very reassuring when introducing him to something new.

Also, from his brief experience at the racetrack, he seems to have learned to fear that he will be ear twitched, so handling his ears is not his idea of a good time. Given that he is 17 hands and we are not, we have had to teach him a "head down" command but sometimes he forgets that when he is frightened. However, when he is scared, he responds well to being distracted from his fear and asked to do something different, so the "head down" command is often effective in re-engaging his focus.

Today is a warm, sunny day and the flies are out in force. Poor Junah was enjoying a morning snack of grazing on the lawn, but his face and eyes were covered, so we decided the time was right to start teaching him about fly masks. We weren't sure how far we were going to get with this lesson, but hoped we could at least rub the mask on his face and start introducing him to the scary noise of velcro pulling apart near his head. So, that's how we started out. He got the mask rubbed over his face and we spent some time attaching and detaching the velcro so that he could get used to the sound. He wasn't thrilled but we have learned that carrots conquer a great deal of uncertainty where he is concerned, so Chelsea worked with the mask and I stuffed little bits of carrot into his ever-willing lips.

All was going well so we decided to carefully ease the mask over one ear. You can always tell when Junah is nervous because he starts to hold his breath. When he relaxed, we slipped the mask back off. We repeated this process several times, with plenty of carrots and kind words, until he seemed ready to move on. Finally, we carefully eased the mask over his "bad ear" and he did just fine! We attached the velcro and let him go.

He made a few half-hearted attempts to shake off the annoying thing on his face, including kneeling and scrubbing his face on the ground once, and then resigned himself to this new development and proceeded to start inhaling his breakfast hay. Another successful step toward being a well-mannered horse who can find a great home!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Here comes the sun!

What a glorious weekend......and I am probably over glorifying the weather we had....but hey, it was so much better than the weather we have had? Right? A few more days of rain and I was thinking of moving to Arizona.

I showed up at the farm early afternoon Saturday to find all of the boys laying on their sides, flat out, naked in the sun and they did not stir as I drove up. I should have got a picture.,,every horse flat out and snoring.

The barn cat got scared of something on Saturday and she was at least 50 feet up in a cedar tree.....howling and crying while a crow taunted her. I figure that cats can get down from where they climb I called her and while she cried a lot more, she would not venture down...not an inch. I left her overnight figuring she would get down....and then this morning we I saw she was still way UP THERE>>>>we called a nice man that we know to came out and he climbed the tree in his climbing gear and got her down for us. She was very hungry and thirsty. She went right into my mom's house and made herself comfortable...and I am sure my mom will let her sleep in there tonight.

I went out to see three horses that need homes today.......all Arabians. A mare, a stallion and a gelding. Living on property where no one lives any longer and being fed only grain once a day. The kind neighbors are caring for them now but the horses really need to get into homes. The stallion needs to be gelded as he has an "occupied" mind, the mare is the stallion's mother and then the gelding is really old. Anyone? I have sent resources to secure a low cost/no cost gelding to the neighbor who is caring for them. Donations of hay would be of great benefit. This neighbor is a saint.......he bought hay out of his own pocket and has repaired fences to keep the stallion in, as the stallion escapes frequently. The stallion is a little guy, not bad looking, gray and as I said.......very preoccupied with the ladies. The mare is rideable in her teens and the gelding is just plain old, needs a retirement home.I would appreciate any offers of help. Just email me.

I also visited two mares further down the road who need an upgrade. Both are rail thin and have rain rot. Teenage mares who deserve better. I can sleep knowing that they have water tubs in their pasture tonight and several flakes of grass hay in front of them. If you are looking for a mare with a good me.

Back to my regular job tomorrow and before that my morning will mean cleaning stalls and feeding the farm horses, making more beet pulp, taking blankets off, feeding chickens and cats.......then off to work an hour away.

Enjoy your week.......practice a random act of kindness and keep quiet about it. It will come back to you I swear!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday is here already...

I took today off so that I could catch up on chores around the house and around the barn.

We have some resident chickens (mostly Banty type) and one little hen has blessed us with 12 chicks! Too cold outside for chicks, c'mon spring...warm us up! So I have a small fence to put up for the chicks safety, as the barn cats think they are interesting and I have stalls to clean, horse blankets to take to be cleaned and feed buckets to wash. I always have this idea of sleeping in, but the horses have their feeding schedule, so I get up at my regular time and go to them.

We have a mascot pony. His name is Beaver. Nope, I didn't name him....he came to us named and we never bothered to change it. He is 11 hands of pure personality. Sure he is cute but he is also Dennis the Menace in a pony suit. Gates must be double latched and you never turn your back on him for just a second. Clever opportunist....if the gate is open an inch, he will barrell through it and run like a wild mustang. Last time he pushed Page out of the way and ran through the barn aisle, out of the barn and straight into my mom's yard..........where he paused to take a drink out of her goldfish pond, then ran to the garden and pulled up several clumps of daffodils while he was debating what to do next........then just as we had him surrounded, he made a break for it to run down the driveway. Fortunately he was cut off by the driveway gate and then trapped by us. Sometime I will tell you about my cell phone and Beaver or Beaver and the hired hands who would not come back. We have a million stories.
Thursday was nice enough to take blankets off and let the horses have sun naps in various spots of mud. I reblanketed them when I fed at night.......good thing I did because it got cold and rained all night. More rain this Friday morning and then voila.......the sun came out.

Tomorrow we work on the new loafing shed and repairing some fencing. I was noticing that we needed some horsie makeovers too......manes are long, bridle paths have become mohawks.....gee, I wish my hair grew that fast.

I noticed this afternoon too that the gnats are out......we call them no see-ums.......because we can't see them, but they are right there irritating Mr. Sensitive.........Ollie. I will have to get the Skin So Soft out and coat his belly, sheath area and thighs.....this of course, he loves and he will gladly lift his hind leg out to the side so that you can get all the right spots! It is messy but in the end, he smells nice and I smell unusual.......Skin So Soft and the faint scent of horse manure.........hmmm.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

bad economy for horses too......

I don't think I have ever seen a year this bad for horses. Everyday I have someone asking me if we can take a horse or if we can do something about a horse who looks to be in bad shape. This has been a year when people who have always had horses have cut back due to expenses, or the loss of a job. I could have had fifteen GREAT horses in my barn for free. These are horses who were not starving, not really in any danger....but their owners wanted out of the relationship. I could have also had maybe 50 horses who were in dire straits.....emaciated, exhausted and unloved. I hate to say NO. I want to take every unwanted horse home.......heal it, feed it and make it feel good again. I want their coats to glisten again, I want them to know a soft hand, a full tummy and I want to see a little fat jiggle while they walk. I want to hear the "hello, I am glad to see you nicker" rather than an blank depressed stare. I want to see the buck and squeal of "gosh, I feel good."

There is nothing that haunts me so much as a horse who had been neglected to the point of giving up....the pride gone, the eyes glossed over.....the head hung low. Sometimes when we pick a horse up, the owner will say "he is hard to get in the trailer", however I always find a neglected horse usually jumps into the trailer or leads quietly like a good soldier...there is no fight energy put up a struggle. They know when help arrives....they really do. These same owners will say "he or she is hard to keep weight on....I have tried everything"...and funny, but I NEVER have a hard time getting these horses to pick up weight...not even the old ones. It takes management , committment and maybe a little know how...or maybe just common sense. I think a lot of the neglect cases are owners who have no common sense....and then there are some who seem to be less than human......I mean, I do you look out your window day after day and look at a horse that you are not feeding? Does he not nicker and follow the fence and plead for you to feed him? Do you not see him becoming a skeleton with patches of his hair missing? Do you not see the fence pushed against, the wood eaten.....the quiet desperation of a hungry animal who is trapped and can't ask anyone else for help? All my life......I still don't get it.

Sadly, we cannot take every horse. We certainly cannot go and "make" someone take care of them. We must follow the law, no matter how outraged we feel.

So what can you do if you see a horse who is neglected or starved? Call the authorities. Document what you saw, when you saw it, the address and if you have a cell phone, take a picture (from the not trespass) Animal Control or if your rural county does not have a Humane Society or an Animal the sheriff's department. Please do not think that someone else should do it. If this was a child......would you hope someone else would make the call? You might mean life or death to the horse or burro or cow. Do the right thing. Make the call and ask them to follow up with you. If they don't call you them back....and have other concerned folks call. Keep asking for resolution. Be polite, don't exaggerate.....animal control has a hard them do it.

We hope to start a food bank for equines and other farm animals this year, after seeing how a bad economy affected our animal friends......we are looking for advocates and ideas. We welcome your comments or suggestions.

Thanks and enjoy your day.......practice a random act of kindness.........and take the brakes off your heart!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bowling, Beer and Rescue

My own round about awakening to the need for horse rescue was a strange path. I had shown A system Arabians as a kid, managed professional breeding and boarding farms as an adult and ended up finding a career in veterinary hospital management. The horses I worked around, for the most part, were pampered show animals. I had seen some individual neglect cases while working for an equine vet, but the people had at least cared enough to call a vet, pay the bill and follow his instructions. This was far from the world I first encountered in 2005.

I had left my latest veterinary management job to get married. I had been running a very busy 24 hour emergency hospital and had wanted a break to plan the wedding and start my new life. I found an office job, successfully pulled off a lovely wedding and started the life of married leisure. I was pretty shallow looking back. I had designer clothes, shoes, handbags, drove a Mercedes and had a very nice boat moored in Seattle. I "did lunch" with my girlfriends and nothing of much value. I did have a couple of rescue dogs from the emergency hospital but no horses in my life for the first time in decades.

One night my girlfriend called me and told me we were going "Bowling for horses". I recall laughing at her and she insisted "No really- Beer Church is hosting a fundraiser for a horse rescue!" Beer Church is a local group who have adopted to heart the motto first espoused by Benjamin Franklin, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy". They also host very successful fundraisers for beer friendly folks and donate the proceeds to a charity of their choice. This one happened to be a local horse rescue. Call me crazy but I do like beer and I went. We had fun, drank beer, and raised money for rescue horses.

Fast forward a year and I had moved to a farm in rural Pierce County. I had 8 acres, a truck and trailer, a 5 stall facility and only one horse. Oh yeah......I still had the pamphlet on the horse rescue I had picked up while bowling a year earlier. I contacted them, let them know I could help with foster care and trailering horses. Shortly thereafter my life was changed forever.

The rescue called me and wanted to know if I could meet them to help confiscate horses for the Sheriff's Department. The farm they were serving the warrant on was literally 2 miles away from mine. I said yes and hitched up the trailer. The things I saw that day will be with me for the rest of my life. There were horses so starved they were walking anatomy lessons. You could see every bone in their body. The clear outline of pelvic bones and spines were shocking to me. Far from the pampered show animals I had owned and worked on. I truly thought at least one would die in the trailer on the way to a safe place. The most shocking thing to me was the owner lived just over the fence line from the horses. A $50,000 aluminum horse trailer with living quarters was parked in her driveway next to a $40,000 truck, a smaller aluminum trailer and other very expensive items. It was clear to me the horses conditions were not related to any sort of economic problem. The neighbors came out of their houses as we led the horses away and confessed they had looked like that for years and one had died before we got there. I was shocked that such ugliness was so close to my own serene farm. It was inconceivable to me horses were dying tucked behind a house and away from view, while I was driving within a mile of them every day. It was a very ugly eye opener.

This was just the beginning of a long road to co-founding Pony Up Rescue. The horses we seized that day were all well bred, young, registered animals. I am hoping to continue to intercept animals that have a chance to go on to productive careers as riding/show horses to educate the general public as to the caliber of animals that are discarded in our community on a daily basis. I have a soft spot for old working horses that need a soft place to land and spend the rest of their lives in retirement. I will continue that work as well, but I truly believe we need to give the younger ones a chance at proving themselves to the same community who at some point lost sight of their value.

I look forward to seeing where this road in the journey leads.

Monday, April 13, 2009

heartache comes early

People often ask me why I spend my time, efforts and money on horse rescue? hmm....well, I have been doing it since I was a youngster. I felt the ache in my heart early on the first time I realized people did not treat their animals like my family did.

Our neighbors in the rural neighborhood we lived in were dirt poor and yet one day while exploring the neighborhood on my old trusty mare, I spied a horse in their yard. I must have been ten or eleven. I recognized the horse to be "sick" and I knew the neighbors had no money, no barn and probably no love for this horse. I went to my dad, who told me to mind my own business. I went to my mom, who told me to listen to my dad. I went to my best friend who lived down the road and together we decided that we should "buy" this best friend was also ten or eleven and she didn't have a horse....she had a burro, but I had a horse and since we were together mostly every waking moment, we knew she should have a horse too. But we needed money and we had none and zero prospects to earn any........still we would not be disuaded. We asked about the horse and we were told she was a race horse and worth a fortune. The horse was a mare. She nickered at us and strained at the end of the rope to come over to us. She was very thin and had long hooves. We whispered to her of our plot. We took carrots to her. She was tied by the neck in the front yard and had no shelter, no food beyond the scrubby summer grass. We plotted.. she had a swollen leg and I told the neighbors. Mary was the teenager who "owned" this horse and Mary wanted what most teenage girls wanted.........make up and clothes. Hmmm.......I had three older sisters, who just happened to have make up and clothes. How I would get those clothes and that makeup.....well that would take some planning. My friend had no sisters, no brothers but she did have a dad who doted on her. We offered to weed the garden and wash the car..we would give up candy for the entire summer. We babysat for the sheriff up the street. We wrote my grandma for early birthday money....and finally my friend's dad gave us twenty five dollars. My sister gave me her old high heels. Heaven sent and just in time. We walked more than a mile to Mary's house and offered her 30 dollars and my sister's old shoes. We proudly walked home with the mare. The mare was named Lady and she went to live with the burro at my friend's house. She was a gentle mare and seemed to appreciate the life we gave her. Her new home was an old loafing shed with a ten acre field, nothing fancy by today's standards but a million times better than being tied by the neck in a small yard..We took her for walks, sometimes rode on her back but always took it easy as she was permanently lame in her hind leg. She lived for many years at my friend's house. She fell ill one cold fall evening and my friend's dad had her euthanized when it was found she could not get better.

I have never forgotten that summer or the feeling I had when we were leading the mare to safety or the look in her eye as we turned her loose on the big pasture. I guess that is why I rescue.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Welcome to Pony Up Rescue for Equines!

Welcome! We have started this blog to give us a way to update everyone on our rescued horses, how they are doing, and our events and activities. Pony Up Rescue was formed in early 2009 and we currently have three horses, of which two are ready for adoption.

Rio (shown at left) is an 11 year old gelding who we were told is a Trakehner cross. He is a sensitive, well trained horse who knows a lot and needs a quiet, knowledgeable rider to perform to his full potential. Rio has had a rough couple of years in the wrong place, so he would really appreciate all the comforts of a show home!

Gossip Girl is a 10 year old POA mare, just under 14.2 hands, so she is a large pony. Gossip is easy to ride and tolerant. She longes well and is fantastic on trails. She isn't at all spooky in new places - we rode her last week with someone practicing motocross across the street and she did not even blink. Gossip does need work on her canter and finishing for the show ring, but her sensible and easygoing disposition would make her an ideal Pony Club prospect.

Junah is our rehab horse. A true seventeen hand stunning dark bay, he was rescued just hours away from slaughter. Junah was neglected and his hooves had not been trimmed in years. He lives at Chelsea's house and she has been busy teaching this very big baby that it is okay to trust humans to lead him, groom him and handle his feet. Junah is making great progress and while it will still be quite a while before his hooves are rehabbed enough to start training him under saddle, we think he'll eventually be a wonderful dressage prospect for the right person.

Our rescued horses live with our board members - please e-mail us if you think you may be interested in meeting one!