Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I'm gonna figure you out yet.

So pretty!!

With winter rapidly approaching, we are trying to squeeze in a few more trail rides with the horse beasts. Sunday afternoon we loaded up 2 horses and headed out to the sandhills because it is close, and some nice easy riding. I woke up in the morning thinking that I was going to bring George, but when it was time to go, I COMPLETELY wimped out and brought Cash instead. George probably would have been an angel, but I think I need someone else to try him out there first.
Also, I reached a major milestone in my trailer phobia. I caught both Duke and Cash who both realized something was up, and decided to be a holes. “Hey look how fast I can run!” “Look at my beautiful extended trot!” and my personal favorite “chase me around the round bale feeder! This is so much fun!” But I caught the creeps and managed to load them into the trailer all by myself. It helps that the husband really worked on their trailer loading since the spring. They both hopped right on up and let me secure them. I didn’t even get nervous or panicky! This is a huge step for me even if it seems really small for everyone else.
We got to the trail head and there were a few other trailers already there. I mean it was a perfect day, why wouldn’t you want to be out riding? I brought along my Circle Y, park and trail saddle. I’ve been on the fence about if I want to keep it or sell it. I’ve been mostly riding in it this summer. And I think I am going to keep it. Not only is it a nice saddle, it has some sentimental value to it. It was my first ever ‘real’ saddle that was purchased for me. I’d previously ridden in other peoples saddles. This one was mine, it was picked out by me, for me, in my size and I was the only one who has ever really ridden in it. It was also a gift from the owners of the barn I used to manage. And by gift I mean it was a ‘thank you for busting your ass 7 days a week for us out here and not complaining about not getting paid much money’ gift. I worked hard for that baby so I’ll be damned if I want to just sell it for a couple hundred bucks. The problem with the saddle, and all western saddles for that matter is that I suck at putting them on. Not only are they heavy, and bulky, but I NEVER know if I have it in the right position. An English saddle is a piece of cake. Toss it up there with one hand. Adjust it the pad. Tighten the girth. Mount up. And away we go. I’ve ridden Western probably more than I’ve ridden English, yet I struggle. Every. Single. Time. The process goes like this. Stare at saddle on the rack. Pause and take a deep breath. Grab saddle by the pommel with one hand, and the cantle by the other hand. Bang stirrups into absolutely everything in the near vicinity of my person. Walk towards horse, place saddle on the ground. Adjust saddle pad, tell myself it’s probably too far forward/back. Verbally remind horse to stand still. Look at saddle sitting on the ground. Take another deep breath and let out a big sigh. Say out loud to whoever is within earshot “Western saddles are too heavy!” for the 10,000 time.  Pick up saddle, realize I didn’t put it away correctly last time and struggle to put the cinch and rear cinch back on the little cinch keeper strap. Place the cinch, rear cinch, stirrup and breast collar over the horn so I don’ t have to deal with those getting in my way of putting the saddle on the poor beast standing in front of me. Pick up saddle. Lift it to my knees, then up to my waist, then up to my chest. Waddle over to the horse awkwardly and try to set the saddle on top of the creature who has mysteriously grown about 5 hands taller within a matter of moments. Struggle, but try to be as careful quick and quiet about it as possible. Look at saddle sitting up there and smile. Think about how it didn’t actually kill me even though I was positive it would. Walk over to the far side of horse, pull down stirrup, breast collar, and cinches. Pull out latigo which got stuck under the saddle, like it always does. Make a ‘tent’ under the pommel and then go back to the near side to start the process of cinching up. Get the latigo through the rigging a couple times then go to tie my knot.  Stuggle. Curse and say “why is this strap so darn thick?!” Stuggle some more. Get the knot tied. Worry if cinch is going to cut horse in half because I feel like it is super tight. Worry if it is too loose and I am going to end up underneath horse at some point because I feel like it isn’t tight enough. Stand back look at saddled horse. Realize saddle is a bit too far forward/back and restart the process. Every. Single. Time. Thank goodness I have a horse that can deal with me. Of course as a pay back he decides to be a bit of a creep on the first half of our ride.

Each time I ride Cash, we start to understand each other a bit better. I had been riding him with spurs on because EVERYONE, especially his previous owners said he needed them. That is a bit of a problem for me.  Obviously the problem of my spur straps matching my breast collar, headstall and reins isn’t the problem… because CLEARLY I have the entire matching set. The problem is I don’t really know how to use spurs. With Piney I started using them, but all I had to do was slightly roll the rowel up his side, and he would move out. Piney also had a big barrel so I could always have contact with his side if needed. Pistol never needed spurs because he was almost perfect.  I would think to myself “move out!” and he would read my mind and we would go. Cash, is the smallest horse I’ve ridden in quite a while. He’s not Princess Rainbow Sparkles small, but he is smaller. I felt like when I tried to use my spur on him, I couldn’t ever make contact. Basically I didn’t know where my leg was. I didn’t want to just start wailing on him and run the risk of sticking my spurs straight into him so I struggled with getting him to listen to me. Wearing them on him, especially when he acted up and everyone around me shouting “spur him! Make him go forward! He needs to listen to you!” caused major anxiety in me, and then that traveled right down into Cash. So on Sunday I left my beautiful sparkly spurs in the trailer and rode him without them. He’s buddy sour. Like panicky, I’ll die without my buddy, we need to turn back now, buddy sour. He is also a horse that likes to lead the pack. So shortly after we started our ride, we got a bit ahead of the husband who was blazing his own trails for whatever reason and Cash lost sight of him. His reaction... SPIN like he was a fricken reining horse and try to go back to his buddy. But we talked it over, and I was able to get my leg on him and have my leg actually be effective for a  change and got him to continue on his merry little way until about 5 minutes later when he was certain he was going to die of loneliness again and we did the dance all over. He kept testing me. Which is something that his previous owners said he would do. But he started to realize that I’m not going to fall for his stupid crap anymore. And by the end of the ride he was actually fun to ride. Being able to feel confident in using my leg really helped. He was an ass when he realized he could buffalo me which clearly made me feel like an absolute beginner rider. That feeling is the worst. I’d even said aloud more than once that I am “getting rid of him”. Usually said after a particularly awful moment together.
But once I figure him out, and I am figuring him out, we will make a good team. I just know it. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

home again, home again.

My friend bought this shirt... and it still makes me giggle.

I made it back in one piece and now I need a vacation to recover from my vacation. Isn't that always the way?  I spent Thursday morning packing up the rest of the things we needed for our adventure while my husband finished up some work for his job in the house. We loaded the horses up without incident and hit the road at about noon. We crossed the entire state of North Dakota and ended up at the ranch we were camping at early in the evening. We unloaded the horses, and tucked them into their corrals for the night and went to visit our friends. And they feed us the best darn ribs I've ever had in my life. Life was good.
The ponies accommodations for the week.
The Badlands have received much more rain than usual this summer. The trails were pretty wet, and the temperature wasn’t supposed to be extremely hot, so we took a ride later in the day. We rode with our friends, and then a few of the other people we were camping near. We ended up having a larger group. All the horses were being pretty well behaved… except mine. Cash was being an idiot and started to buffalo me. Clearly, he is testing me to see what he can get away with. And me being a big chicken with zero confidence was letting him test me. At one point, his buddy Duke was a little ways ahead of us and as we were going down a hill that wasn’t extremely steep, but it wasn’t exactly flat either. He dropped his head and started humping up a bit like he was going to buck. Fun. I got him out of it, and we continued on. But he did it again later, after Duke went on ahead to open the gate. At that point I was shaken up, and he was prancing around like the ground was hot lava, so the husband and I decided to split off from the group and head back to camp. We had already ridden through some pretty sketchy areas so I was done for the day. The ride back to the ranch was pretty un eventful, except for the horse eating culvert. He didn’t blow up or anything, he just kind of hopped to the side and then continued on his way.
"I gotta be first! I gotta be first! Why am I not first?!"

We stopped to wait for the others to catch up and to take a breather.
Our ride for the day.

 I was riding him with spurs on, which is what his previous owners told us he needs. But the problem is that I can’t tell where my spurs are when I ride. When I gave him a little kick, my spur never came in contact with him. I am going to try him again with no spurs, and then with a pair of bumper spurs just to see if I can get him to listen a bit better. When we were riding around after we got back. He decided he was done listening completely after I tried to ride him away from his buddy. He is really buddy sour. So we have some work to do. Clearly. We did end on a good note. And as much as I wanted to just let him loose into the badlands, I put him back in his corral.
I was the only one in our group wearing a helmet. And I was the only one in the campground wearing a crash vest. After the husband and I split off from the group and went back to camp, my friend had told some of the people that they were riding with that I sometimes feel embarrassed to wear a helmet and crash vest when I ride (and I do feel embarrassed sometimes). The response she got was "Why? She's smarter than any of us!" That seems to be the general response I get when I wear my gear. I don't know why I feel so embarrassed about it.
I'm gonna ride my horse... but first. Let me take a selfie. 

Best show in the West! Well, that's what they keep telling me.

Friday night we headed into town to the Medora Musical. All about the history of the area, and about Harold Schafer, the person who rejuvenated the town and turned it into the awesome little tourist town it is! P.S. he was the inventor of 'Mr. Bubble' bubble bath... The more you know right?! Also North Dakota Attorney General was in the audience, just down a few rows from us. That was pretty cool. They announced it during the show. North Dakota isn't that small where we all know each other.. which I KNOW people probably think about us.. I honestly would have no clue what he looked like, or that he was there if they hadn't announced it.

 After all that fun and excitement we headed into town to the Little Missouri Saloon. Of course I would pick the table that had saddles for stools. I mean, why not right? It's not like I hadn't spend enough time in the saddle yet. My husbands cousin was bar tending so we got to briefly visit with him. 
Who knew that saddle horns were perfect purse holders? I bet that's what the old cowboys used them for...

Saturday we went riding with a smaller group. We also took an easier more relaxing trail. The trail we rode on Friday wasn't super challenging, but it wasn't exactly an easy walk in the park. Cash seemed to be happier in a smaller group. He also loves to be the leader. Once we got out front he was great. He did have his moments though. At one point he decided it was no longer safe for the group to continue on. I talked him out of it. Later on after we got through a gate we stopped to have a bit of a breather, and he just kept dancing in place. He has no patience for just standing still and it really pisses me off. But all in all, he was ok on the ride.
I look super awkward when  I ride western. But at least I look kind of proportionate on him.
Clearly I am impressed with him. 

Saturday night we got dumped on with rain. Absolutely dumped on. We huddled under our friends awning on their trailer until it stopped. There were lakes all around us now. So glad I brought 28 pairs of cowboy boots, but not one pair of muck boots...
Got some rain coming in...
North Dakota Traffic Jam.
So Sunday we decided to skip riding. Everything was way too wet and we didn't want to risk it. The little store that sold shirts with the ranch’s name on it was open and they were serving beer and bloody mary’s. We happened to run into the people that sold us Cash at the little store. She said that he was always a bit stubborn and would test you until he figured out that you were the boss. Obviously something you wouldn't tell someone buying a horse from you… But they said he had been with them last year on their trip to Medora and he was fine once he got out in front of the horses. She said she did have a bit of trouble with him being an idiot until she figured him out, and let him know she was the boss. But he was one of her favorites to ride. We got to chat a bit more about him and we asked a few more questions and she was upfront and honest.
She also said that he always had a little bit of a shorter stride up front. She had had her vet look at him, and they couldn't find anything wrong with him. Similar to when we had him in for a lameness evaluation. He just has a strange short stride. But speaking of lame horses. I was beyond horrified at some of the horses being ridden last weekend. I mean it’s none of my business… but I watched one horse limp back into camp, which if my horse went that lame on the trail… I’d be walking next to him on the way home. We watched another horse that had been cold hosed the night before, being ridden out of the camp the next day… head bobbing, 3 legged lame. And then finally on our way out of the ranch when we were headed home, we saw a large group of horses headed out on the trail. The last horse was visibly lame, and the rider called out to the group “Did you bring any bute?” It’s really not my place to judge, and it isn't any of my business, but when my horses are THAT lame, I don’t ride them. Not on the flat prairies of eastern North Dakota, and absolutely not up in that rough terrain of the badlands. But I don’t know the horses history, I don’t know anything other than what I saw. But when you see that it’s hard not to judge, and my judgyness came from my concern for the horse.

When you have a few hundred horses and their people camping together you are bound to run into things that upset you. Friday night we were sitting around the fire  at around midnight when a guy came out of the darkness and asked if we were using the 3 corrals by our horses. They had just rolled into camp and needed a few more stalls. We didn't need them, so told them to take them. Right before we called it a night, we checked on our horses, tossed them some more hay, and checked their water. I happened to notice that the new horses didn’t have any hay or water. I figured that they maybe drank over at the other campsite, and ate hay in the trailer. Well the next day rolls around, and by noon the horses still didn’t have any hay or water… that’s 12 hours without hay or water. About 3 o’clock their owner brought them some hay… but still no water. Later in the day they were given some of those big rubber feed pans with water in them. You know the kind that a horse can finish water out of in about 3 seconds. On Saturday we had had enough and ratted the people out to one of the owners of the ranch. When the owners of the most "unfortunate" looking ( I say that in the nicest way possible as they were the ugliest horses I've ever seen in my life!) appaloosas came to give their horses more hay, she yelled over to them that they needed to have water in front of them as the day was getting hot. The next day or so they had hay and water in front of them most of the time, but by Sunday afternoon and Monday, no hay  and no water. While again, I don’t know the story of these horses or owners we were kind of thinking that maybe they were new horse owners. They appeared to be well to do, but just maybe didn’t know much about horse keeping. The horses were in wonderful condition… they were ugly as all get out… but they were in good shape. So we weren’t sure why the horses weren’t being fed or watered as often as ours were. 
I wanna live here... better start buying lotto tickets. 
My Happy Place.

So that's that, and I've been home for a few days now, but I am ready to go back. Why can't I live out there? Oh yeah.... that whole employment thing.... and the expensive land prices... oh yeah... that's why...
That cell phone tower was the first thing Theodore Roosevelt built when he lived in North Dakota....
I kid, I kid....

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

headed out west.

Tomorrow we are loading up the wagon and heading out west. And by wagon I mean horse trailer, funny how things have changed for horses, 150 years ago they were pulling people out west, and now people are pulling them out west.
This year we are going with our neighbors who we went camping with a few weeks ago. It's so nice having friends that have similar interests to you, and as an added bonus they live so close to us.They are headed out today, and we will meet up with them tomorrow. I still have so much to do but I have to say, that using the tack room of your horse trailer, as your full time tack room sure makes it easy to go anywhere. All of our main stuff is already in there, all we have to do is pack some hay, the horses, our coolers, and whatever we will be needing.
We will be taking Cash and Duke this year. I really wish Pistol was still with us and healthy enough to make the trip. He was a rockstar out there. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I would have 10 more horses like him if I could. Duke is always amazing out in the badlands so we aren't worried about him. He loves going to new places. Cash was apparently ridden out in the badlands a few times last year so he should be good to go.
George is staying home to keep pony company. I really think that the badlands might be too aggressive for his first sleep away from home trail ride. I do hope to bring him to the place we camped at a few weeks ago. I really think it would be good for him to get out there. My friend offered to ride him for me, she's got a bit more confidence in the saddle than I do. I can ride him at home just fine. But being a huge chicken, I start getting anxious once I head out down the road. I know, I know... cowboy up blah, blah, blah. Easier said than done. He is so much fun to ride too, so I think that I will LOVE trail riding him, but I have to just get over this bump in the road first.

The boys decided to have a spa day yesterday and took advantage of the mud. They gave themselves mud baths. Can anyone tell me why I like light colored horses so much?? Oh that's right. Because I'm an idiot.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

mamma said they was my magic shoes.

Cash got himself a new pair of shoes last night. A type that I’ve actually never even seen before my farrier suggested them. But based on the way he wears his shoes, she wanted to try EponaShoes on him. She just recently starting to put them on horses but she said her clients have all been pretty impressed so far. Like I said I’ve never even heard of this type of shoe before, let alone seen one, or had anyone I knew try them. But I am willing to give anything a try.
These are like high tech space shoes.
image from EponaShoe website.

This is the side that goes against the sole. Cash will be gellin like a felon.
Image from the EponaShoe website

Putting them on, was a little different than putting on regular shoes. First my farrier made a packing to go in his hoof which contained antibacterial granules that will help prevent yucky stuff from growing “up in there”.  It also protects the sole of the hoof, and I won’t have to worry about rocks and crap going up and getting caught in his foot. SCORE! I HATE picking feet! She applied that stuff to his hoof and then let him chill on a paper towel for a bit to let it ‘set’. Next up was the shoe. She said she could glue it on, but we both agreed to nail it on like a regular shoe. Mostly because she had attempted to glue a set on a difficult horse, and wasted almost her entire supply trying to get the darn thing on.  She put on the shoe and then rasped and nipped it to fit his foot. Repeat on the other foot, and then done. They stay on just as good as steel shoes she said, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they wear on him.
Forgot to take a picture before I turned him out...

Everything I’ve read on their website seems positive. Horses in just about every discipline are using them. They look like hardcore running shoes and kind of remind me of those EasyBoots that you can buy to protect your horses feet. We also discussed that type horse boots. My farrier said that they suck because they have to fit perfectly, so right after a trim they can be too big, and then as the hoof grows they are too small. These shoes are having those boots on, without having to worry about fit.  
 She was also saying that she started using EponaShoes on some of her client’s horses with lameness issues and has seen improvements in them. Especially the horses with navicular. Cash still seems a bit off. It’s a mystery, as to where it’s originating. More than likely we are going to bring him back in for a few more x-rays. My farrier and I both kind of thought that it was up in his knee. But she said “I’m not a vet so I can’t diagnose it completely.” Cash isn’t in pain, but his gait is just a bit off. When I’ve ridden him his walk seems to get better after he was warmed up. I’m thinking about hauling him back in for a few more x-rays. I mean it’s only money right?
The big gray thoroughbred was up next. He was mostly charming for the whole thing. Until we were sarcastically and overly saying nice things about him “OH such a good boy!!” “Look at that big handsome, sweet boy being so good!” Then he got pissed, and could obviously tell we were making fun of him and decided to snatch away his last foot. Seriously horse? One foot left and you have to be difficult. He apparently picked up on the fact we were mocking him. He is a pretty smart horse.

So I’ll keep everyone interested posted on how these shoes go! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

one week.

It’s been one week since I said good bye to my big sweet red horse. Clearly I made the right decision for him and I’ve found my peace with it. But it’s been really weird since he has been gone. Every time I walk down to check on the horses I see a fat red horse, a big gray horse disguising himself as a red horse in his red Kensington fly sheet, a little palomino, and a tiny Shetland pony all stuffing their faces at the round bale feeder. I instinctively walk into the lean of the barn to check on Pistol since that is where he liked to spend his days, hanging out under the fly traps and chilling in the shade. I’ve laughed at myself for going out there and doing that. It’s just an old habit I guess.
On Saturday morning the husband and I were getting ready to head out to a Rodeo in Minnesota with some friends, when my dogs started going nuts at the front door. The mail man brought our mail up to the house because he had a package for us. Yes, my totally cliché dogs were barking at the mail man. As soon as he handed me the package, I knew what it was. It was Pistol’s tail as well as a sympathy card from the clinic staff. I carefully opened the box and there is was, all 27 miles of it. Okay so 27 miles may be a bit of an exaggeration, but Pistol had an amazing long tail. They also braided his mane into two braids and snipped those off for me. Seeing, smelling and touching the hair hit me harder than I thought it would. I was doing so well but it brought me to tears… big, sobbing, hysterical tears. To add another kick in the guts a very, very sweet friend of mine, that I haven’t seen in ages sent me a sympathy card. I was drowning in a puddle of tears at my kitchen table.

I made the right decision for Pistol and everyone that knew him knows that I made the right decision. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I no longer worry about coming home and finding him down and too weak to stand, or even worse, having already passed away. I also no longer have to make him his special sugarbeet pulp and alfalfa pellet meals and then keep checking on him every half hour to see if he is FINALLY finished eating. He was a guy who enjoyed his food and took his time eating. I don’t have to get up extra early to get him his first meal of the day.
When I put Piney down, I went into a deep dark depression. His death was so traumatic on me. I was angry and I was sad. I didn’t have the time to say good bye to him the way I wanted to. He was taken so suddenly that I just felt like I had been cheated and robbed. With Pistol, I had a week with him. I got to love up on him every night, and stuff his face with treats. I feel differently now that he is gone. I still miss him like crazy, but I know that we made the right decision for him. Hopefully I don’t sound like some kind of monster now that I confessed that I don’t feel super depressed.   Did I love that horse? Absolutely! He was the best trail horse I’ve ever ridden! I want 26 more horses just like him. Do I miss him. Of course I do. I miss that big droopy lip of his, and the way his coat was starting to feel like velvet which was the first sign that fall was just around the corner. Okay, so now I’m getting a bit weepy over him. …..

But I’m happy that he is no longer suffering. I’m happy that he knew nothing but love from the moment he came into our lives. I’m happy that we had him. I’m happy that he was my confidence booster after Piney. And I’m happy for every single memory with him…

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Good bye my old friend. Until we meet again.

Yesterday I said goodbye to my sweet old man horse, Pistol. The horse we bought as an impulse buy a few years ago. The horse that I was never supposed to get attached to, because he was our ‘spare horse’. The horse that made me remember exactly what it was I loved about riding. I am a believer that certain horses come into our lives at certain times for certain reasons, and Pistol was proof of that.
The big red horse came into our lives as a complete impulse. We went to a horse auction not expecting to buy anything, but as the last few horses were being sold, he stood there calmly in the center of the sale ring, and nothing phased him. We paid $575 for him. And knew nothing about him,and for all we knew he could have been drugged.  The next day we picked him up and brought him home. Turned him loose with our other two red horses, Duke and Piney and then spent the next 5 ½ hours trying to catch him again. The husband and I figured we had made a big mistake. This horse was nothing like that calm sweet horse we bought. When we finally did catch the horse, he tensed up when you went to touch him. Eyes wide, and nostrils flared. His whole body went rigid when you touched him. And forget about touching his face. The next day we saddled him up and he took off bucking across the yard. We thought about selling him, but I wanted to get him checked by the vet. When the vet came out to check him out, his teeth had sharp steak knife like points and he had ulcers in his mouth. Then when he cleaned his ‘undercarriage” he found golf ball sized beans. I asked the vet if that would cause the behavior we’d seen and he thought that it definitely could have something to do with it. The next day the farrier came out to trim his feet and I apologized in advance for what the horse could be like, as we had no idea what he was like for trims. Pistol stool like a champion, in fact he was better than our other two. The farrier said “if he rides anything like how he stood for me today, you have a great horse on your hands”. It was then that we decided he should get a quick tune up at the trainer.
He was famous for his halters getting twisted around.

And quick tune up is what he got. We dropped him off and the trainer called a short while later saying that the horse was ready to be picked up. He didn’t feel right keeping this horse around because there was nothing else he could train him to do, he did it all already. So we picked him up and he came home with us.
I will always remember that first ride I had on him at home. I was having so much fun with him riding around the yard. But right before I hopped off, my husband said “Piney isn’t eating”. I quickly hopped off and went to get Piney, who in fact wasn't eating, and was in obvious distress. The next day I lost Piney. I then found myself shutting myself off from the two surviving horses. Pistol was trying so hard to get me to interact with him, and I just didn't want anything to do with him.
Duke and Pistol. Best buddies.
Obviously Pistol was upset by the passing of his friend and his condition started to deteriorate. This forced me to step in and start working on getting him fattened back up. I started to realize how sweet he was and started to remember that I loved horses.
One of my favorite pictures of us.

funny to think this guy hated having his face touched at one time.

Hillbilly dressage.

a walk to remember.

He came out of winter fat and happy. He became my riding buddy and I realized that he was an awesome trail horse. He did everything I asked of him. I’d even planned on bringing him to some eventing schooling days that were being held at our local English club. The day before I planned on hauling him out to give eventing a shot, I noticed his breathing was not normal. Heaves. 
Fat and happy. The vet suggested a slow feed hay net to help keep his head out of  dusty hay bales.

The vet prescribed a bunch of medicine, and it seemed that we had it under control. He was great all winter, but this spring his heaves came back with a vengeance. Nothing was working. We worked with the vet and they had us trying all sorts of things but nothing was working. We retired him. He had his good days where his breathing was back to normal, but with the hot and dusty weather we've been having it got worse again. To make matters worse, his buddy Duke went off for 30 days at the trainer. Pistol feeling like he lost his friend forever again, turned into skin and bones. Everything I tried didn’t work. I bumped up his feed and he was getting a ton of alfalfa pellets, and tons of sugar beet pulp, and safechoice, but it wasn't working. Nothing was working. So we decided that we needed to make that decision and let him go.
I had a week with Pistol to say goodbye. While it didn't make it easier it did help. Piney was taken so suddenly from me that I never felt like I got to properly say good bye to him. The way Pistol looked at me, I know he was ready.
Yesterday morning, I woke up and knew I was making the right decision. I was doing okay until I went to get him ready to go into the trailer. I still managed to keep it together, until his buddies called out to him after he was loaded into the trailer. He called back and I lost it.
Once we got to the vet, my husband went to check in. I unloaded Pistol by myself. He was the only horse that would hop right in and out of the trailer with no problems. I walked him into the clinic and as always he was calm as could be. I was still managing to keep it together… and then our vet walked up to me. I absolutely lost it. Big sobbing tears, and our vet was awesome. No doubt the hardest part of his job. He gave me a big hug and took Pistol’s lead rope from me. I kept saying that I was so sorry for Pistol’s condition, and he told me to stop it. It happens to a lot of people. He knew that we were trying our best , and  it can happen to anyone’s horse. He asked if we wanted to stick around, and I said that I didn't think that was the best idea. I've been told that although usually it goes pretty easy, sometimes horses can go down violently and it’s best not to remember them like that. He said he would cut off his tail, and then have it cleaned and will bring it to us. As we left I saw the vet tech in the arena with Pistol, rubbing him and giving Pistol some love. My husband asked if maybe we should have had him put to sleep at home, that way we could have him buried there. I said that it was better to have him put to sleep at the vet, that way he would have an easier time finding Piney once he left. 
I hope that in Pistol’s last years he knew how much we loved him. And that not all people are bad. He had a good life with us and I wish that I had a whole barn filled with horses like him. When we were leaving to go to the vet, I opened the mail, and Cash’s permanent brand release had arrived. My husband said that maybe it was a sign. Cash has been proven to be a good trail horse for me. It was just one of those ways the universe was telling me that Pistol had taught me everything that he could, and that it was time for him to leave.

I obviously am sad that Pistol is gone. But I have found that I am a bit more at peace with it. He was ready to go. I’m glad that he ended up with us, and that we were able to give him love every day of his life. Had we not bought him that day, I don’t know what would have happened to him. But I am so glad that I was able to have him in my life, even if it was just briefly.
He loved George, and George loved him.

Monday, July 28, 2014

bad always follows the good.

I just called to schedule Pistol's last trip to the vet. The old man has been losing weight and condition and no matter what we've done, nothing has been helping him. Top that with his heaves that absolutely nothing our vet has recommended has helped him. Steroid shots, Dex, pasture only, watered down hay, hay in a slow feeder, SmartBreathe, etc.
So he has a week left with me for me to snuggle him, and make him feel as loved as I possibly can make him feel. And next Monday morning he will go in to the vet one last time.

I know that it's the best decision for him, but it's been the hardest decision for me.