Redemption

Over and over, in our time together, people told me how lucky Cookie was to have me.
My response was always the same…

“Nope. I’m the lucky one…”


Y’see, when you grow up being told that you’re not wanted, you believe that. You really do believe that you aren’t worthy of being loved.
By anyone.
And, it doesn’t matter how many people come along afterwards and try to tell you that you are worthy, there’s always that Little Voice in the back of your head that whispers “Don’t believe ’em. Don’t you dare believe them. People always lie.”
Heh. I’ll tell ya, my Hubby is a frickin’ Saint for sticking with me all these years! That little voice makes living with someone like me awful hard sometimes.

But, horses?
They don’t lie.
They’re as open and honest as any creature can be.
They’ll show you exactly what they see in you every time.

Cookie practices her unicorn poses as the sun rises.

So you see, it was always me that was the lucky one.
Because what she saw in me, she deemed worthy.
Not only of her absolute trust, but of her love.

Cookie EasterBunny

She offered me her heart and I gave her my everything.
She gave me redemption.
Proof that I was…I am…worthy of being loved.

“Oh! Hey Mama…whatcha doin'”
~Cookie

I always said that we came together as 2 broken creatures who needed each other to become whole again.

That is 100% truth.
I didn’t realize how much so, until I lost her.
I may have adopted her from the Rescue that saved her from being on a plate, but Cookie rescued me from myself and that ugly little voice.

It’s funny, I have these moments where I swear, I’m not going to let any animal into my heart like this again.
This has been the worst grief I have ever carried.
And yet…
We all know.
I’ll do it again.
I’m going to let another one in, and that horse will never fill the space in my heart that went with Cookie, but instead, stand beside it and make me stronger.
And when I lose that horse, I’ll probably do it again.
And again.
And again.
I’m a sucker for punishment like that. 😉

“Haha! You can’t seeeeeee me…I’m hiding behind this treeeeeee!!!”
~Cookie

Last week I did a photo shoot that reminded me, once again, the Power equines have in our lives.
Watching people, children, families, connect to their chosen horses cut through the grief and proved to me that this pain is a blip in the road.
We love them with such depth and passion, it’s so hard to lose them.
But they just don’t live as long as we do, and we have to make the most of our time with them. ❤

This holiday season, I’m going to work at getting out and taking some fresh picture with my Girls.
I haven’t taken anything new here since Cookie’s funeral pyre.
Not only was she my Heart Horse, she was my Muse.
All photo shoots were planned around whether or not I could convince her to do what I wanted.
Sable always goes first, because she’s easy.
Ask and done. No convincing, no worries, just a perfect model.
Cookie, well I had to reassure that it was safe, that I would always put her safety first, that we really could make beautiful pictures together.
And we did. Often.
I was always so proud of her for trusting me and wearing all those odd, scary little things for me.

Cookie wears the Canadian flag.

Now, I’m a little lost.
I had plans for her, for pictures.
Things that just didn’t get done.

Oh Ms Cookie!

I’m working on finding my way.
It’s a lonely path without her.
But I can do this. I know I can.
I’ve been redeemed by the love of a damn fine horse.
The best way to honor her is to continue on…and eventually find the next damn fine horse who needs a little redemption themselves.

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One Day at a Time

So I got lost there for a bit.
Had to.
Dealing with Cookie’s death has been a challenge…

My own grief, my human family’s grief, my little herd’s grief.
My mares are having a tough time adjusting to 3 instead of 4.
They’ve lost a foundation member of their herd and it’s been hard on them.
On all of us.

So, I took a break.
Because the whole “Cowgirl up, rub some dirt in it and keep going” thing was too damn hard to do.
I needed some time to process this.

I still look for her every morning.
I miss that pretty face, that morning nicker, those grumpy ears when the hay doesn’t come fast enough, the sly hugs, that sweet breath, her sass and charm…

But, I also needed a break because…whooooaaa…horse people.
They have opinions.

Now, the folks on my FB friends list, and all y’all here (blog and FB Farm page followers), have been amazing. I’ve had folks checking in on me, making sure I’m okay, I’ve had meals delivered, I’ve had a few come out just for hugs…and I’m usually okay ’til the hugs. Then I cry and I warn ’em…hug me and there are gonna be tears and snot. LOL! I ain’t one of those dainty, pretty crying people.
Even knowing that, they still hug me.
I am so very grateful for those people.
I hope you all know that.

The ones I needed a break from were the ones with their opinions.
And I kinda didn’t want to say anything about it, but then, I kinda do, because being an asshole is never okay.

So, for the record:

  1. If you don’t know me, aren’t on my friends list, have never even seen me in person, you have no right to question Cookie’s care.
    Or the care of any of my animals.
  2. Demanding to know the treatment she underwent, or demanding to see vet bills as proof that she was being seen will get you a resounding “Fuck. Right. Off.”
  3. Using the tired, pathetic standard of “I just care about the animals” while verbally kicking the crap out of me is bullshit.
    It’s rude, it’s a lie, it’s an asshole thing to do.

Understand this…
I have already beat myself up over this.
If the beating I’ve been giving myself were visible on my body, I would be black and blue from head to toe. I have gone over her last day millisecond by millisecond, wondering what I could have done better, what more I could have done, how I could have saved her.
I will carry the guilt of her death until the end of my days.
Even though I did everything that could be done.

We did a necropsy.
I had to know.
It was hard and ugly and there was a lot of (my) tears and a lot of blood.

Her aorta had ruptured.

Y’know what I (or the vet, or a team of vets, or anyone for that matter) could have done to save her?

Nothing.
Even if we had known that it was a possibility, the only thing we could have done was put her down before it happened.
As much as I hate it, would give near onto anything to change it, it was her time.
And when I look back at her last 15 months, look at the patterns of “not herself” moments, I realize, it’s been coming since her very first colic in June 2016. She had been a walking, trotting time bomb that could have blown at any time. I am so damn lucky to have gotten the extra time with her that I did…
This whole time, since that day, I have been treating an arthritic mare with an underlying condition…
http://horsesidevetguide.com/drv/Diagnosis/1127/ruptured-aorta-ruptured-aortic-aneurysm/

And while we all understand that this is something more common (though even then, rare) in older stallions, it’s not unheard of in other horses…and my Girl was anything but a typical horse.
Leave it to her to have something we couldn’t know about until after her death.

Reading the symptoms tab (under my role and things I might observe) I found things that I chalked up to the arthritis…going off her feed for no reason, lethargy, her general “meh” about everything some days…the signs were there, but there was no reason for any of us humans treating her to suspect it.
Hell, it’s not something doctors jump to diagnose in humans either.
Not until ruling everything else out.
And, we all thought that we were treating arthritis…we were.
We just didn’t know there was more, and there was no reason to go searching for more, because she was responding well to the treatments she was getting.
Bear in mind, every where I say “we” I’m including our vet team.
Seriously, it took a team to treat that horse.
😉 ❤

~~~~~~~~~~

And now, for the well-meaning (I hope) ones….

I’m not quitting.
I still have 3 horses who need me and need to be cared for.
We’re not selling them, or the Farm.
We’re not giving up.

I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t crossed my mind. The idea of running away from it all, going back to the city, and protecting my heart from this happening again…

But, see above.
I still have 3 horses who need me.
I made them a promise, and I’m not going back on that.
‘Til the end of their days, they are here.
At Midnight Calico Farm.

That said…

I’m not looking for a 4th horse.
Not now.
Please don’t send me ads, pictures, links.
Like some seem to think they should…
When it’s time, it’s time.
It’s not time right now.
We’re all still hurting, my little herd is in flux, trying to figure out where everyone stands without their 2nd in Command.
Ruby’s confidence is shaken because she doesn’t have her backup.
And her friend.
They were together the longest, from the Rescue, to here.
They were The Paint Alliance, the Painted Ladies for years.

Waiting patiently for the treats in Mom’s pocket…

Cookie and Ruby

Being chased by the Jolly Ball…

Storm Paints

When the time is right, and the Girls have settled, we’ll consider a 4th.
Our pasture can hold and support 4, and so, it will.
We’ll save another from going on a plate or in a dog food can.
Maybe it’ll be another ex-broodie who needs a soft landing and a little (lot of) love…Goddess knows, I have a soft spot for them old gals. ❤
But maybe it’ll be a gelding who needs some TLC.
Or it’ll be a baby.
When the time is right, we’ll know…and we’ll know who.

But not now.
One day.

Here’s to the Broken Ones…

Yesterday we re-lit Cookie’s pyre.
Out here, weather plays a huge factor in everything we do, and last weekend, when we lit her up, the wind came up, and it started to snow.
Keeping the fire burning was more dangerous than leaving her for another week.
Yesterday was a beautiful day.
Cool, but not cold.
No wind.
Quiet and serene.

Hubby pulled out the tiger torch, piled more wood on and around the pyre, poured a little gas for good measure, and lit her up.
Ahh, it was beautiful…for the brief moment before I remembered why we were having this fire.
😥

Friends came out in the afternoon to lend some moral support, tell stories and remember our wonderful Girl.
Have I mentioned we have some incredible friends?
Yeah, we do. ❤
(I’m still hearing about the amazingness of the ribs that were brought out for us last week…Hubby is droolingly in love. 😉 )

Go Cookie, go!

Last night the 3 of us decided a happier bonfire was needed, since it was such a nice night.
We warmed our dinner (home made soup and bread brought by the friends who visited earlier) on the fire, and had a few drinks.

Cookie

At one point Hubby, who has had a hell of time with this…
From his wife and Kid falling apart, to moving her body, doing a necropsy and building and tending the pyre…
As hard as this has been on me to lose her, it’s been as hard on him to deal with the aftermath…
No doubt, I am a Blessed woman to have him.
He’s given me a chance to fall apart and work towards putting myself back together, while having to do some pretty unpleasant things…

Last night, over a roaring bonfire, he stands up, and says:

“Here’s to the Broken Ones. Those horses who are lost until they are found by the Ones who will love them and help them heal.
Here’s to the Ones who find them, and hold tight until their love puts them back together again.”

❤ ❤ ❤

Hell yeah!
Here’s to the Broken Ones…

On Dealing with Grief…

Thank you.
For the comments, the emails, the messages, the calls, the love…

This grief has been like no other I’ve known.
I’ve lost other animals I’ve loved, lost both my parents, and other friends and family…as hard as those have been, this has devastated me.

Cookie was the entire reason we bought this Farm.
Her picture on the Rescue website was what pushed me to search for reals for land.
Hell, I showed her to Hubby and said “That’s my horse. We either need land, or we’re going to board her…but she’s mine.”

She was our mascot.

Ima Midnight Tuxedo belonged at Midnight Calico Farm.
It was meant to be.

There is a bond between horse and person that we humans are sometimes lucky enough to have develop.
I like to think Cookie and I had that.
I jokingly called her a “MamaSuck” and my Mama’s Girl.
Once I was able to gain her trust (and that was an ordeal and a half, for sure…one I wouldn’t trade for anything ❤ ) it was clear that we had something special between us.

One of the things I’ve been doing to deal with this grief is sharing pictures of from our life together on my personal FB page.
Then, I realized I should do that here too.
I know some of y’all followers loved her too.
So the next few posts are going to be a sharing of our life together…
She was by no means an easy horse to live with, but by the Goddess, she sure was easy to love. ❤

This is Nikki. I loved her from the very second I saw her…I knew this was going to be my girl.

This is from the very first day the Girls came home…she was still Nicki (or Nikki…either spelling worked) then.

When she became my Cookie…
Here’s what I posted on FB about this picture:

She came to me with the name “Nicki”.
The only response I ever got to that name was she’d turn her bum to me and walk away.
And then, one day, she was so exasperated with me…it was like she was saying “Listen lady, if you’re going to keep annoying me, at least get my name right!”
I laughingly said “You’re going to be one tough cookie to crack!”
She nickered and nodded.
I went back through the sentence, saying each word, and every time I said “Cookie” I got a reaction…a nicker, or a nod, or this face…
I said “It’s Cookie, isn’t it? You’re name is Cookie” and she farted. LOL!! I took that as a yes. 😉
So I took this picture of her, and 10 days after she came home, reintroduced my special Girl by her right and proper name…
Cookie

Our very first Christmas photo shoot.
Poor Girl.
She had no idea what I wanted, had been home just over a month, still so unsure of the humans who kept showing up and bothering her…though, to be fair, those same humans kept bringing the food, so they couldn’t be all bad, right?
And then this…
It was sheer luck that I caught this.
Hubby had reached over, and dropped it on her as she brought her head up to move away…this was my first lesson in “have the camera ready at all times”. 🙂

If she had only known what was to come in her life here, with all the different things I put on her.
LOL!
I think she would have stayed, even if she’d known.
She really was happy here…when she let herself be.

Later, I had this photo tattooed on my forearm…

Just freshly needled…

Starting the ugly phase of healing..I’m so, so happy with it. Squee! I can’t wait ’til it’s healed!

She’s not just with me in my Heart (always and forever in my Heart) but under my skin too.

The Iron Paint Goes Down

Be forewarned…profanity ahead…don’t say I didn’t warn you, ‘kay?

I call my Girl many things…she’s Cookie, she’s a Miserable Cow, she’s my Dork, my sweet chicken livered Dolly, my Heart Horse…she’s also my Iron Paint. By that I mean, she has never been sick, hooves aside, she’s always healthy, and I can count the number of injuries (not bug related) I’ve had to treat on her on exactly 1 finger…
She is as low maintenance, health wise, that a horse can be.

Early yesterday morning I went out with the camera to take some shots of her lying (and rolling) in the grass. I get great shots in the morning light of the Girls, and figured this was another chance to showcase my Sweetie’s beauty.

Iron Paint1
Iron Paint2
Iron Paint3
Iron Paint4
Iron Paint5
Iron Paint6
The whole time I took these, I was sure I was photographing a happy (aside from bugs) horse. Turns out, I was wrong. Very wrong.

I had to go back up to the house to get Daphne out of the cats food, and went in to grab a coffee. When I looked out the front window, I saw not only was Cookie down again, in a different spot, but she was rolling again. Odd.
Out I went to check on her…and then, I saw the droopy donkey ears, the tense looking belly, the all-over sheen of sweat and oh my…the Elvis lip.
Shit…oh motherfucking shit.
My heart hit the ground, because I knew…I just fucking knew, what I was dealing with. And, it scared me to the ends of the Earth.
That one thing that new mothers and horse owners fear at all times…

Colic

Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck…

First stop, call the vet, because a. it’s Cookie, and um, I don’t know how to get her through and b. rolling. Oh, Goddess, rolling.
Rolling is bad.
Really, really, really bad.
It twists guts, which can lead to death.
Vet was busy, but would be on his way ASAP, and, in the meantime, I did what I do with Sable. I deal with this with Sable far more often than I like, but, at least I know what to do with her. So, transfer those skills to the Madam…

Lead rope on her was a bust…she turned into a psycho horse. Rearing, bucking, cantering around me in circles, trying to run over me…okay, lead rope off, because stressing her more wasn’t going to work. And down she goes…into her back I went, knee braced into her withers, talking the whole time…and I start the back rub that always helps Sable. At this point, I’m not hearing her guts working…this is so fucking bad…but I’m hoping it’s because my stethoscope is shit (note to self, spend the $$$ on a good stethoscope!), not because there really is no gut sounds…

When I say gut sounds, I mean, at any given time, you should be able to hear a horse’s digestive system working. Much like we have growly tummies when we’re hungry, that’s what a good working gut sounds like. It’s not because they’re hungry, it’s because their digestive system is working on the food they ate.

No sounds means things are not working…now, it could be a gas bubble holding things up. If that was the case, what I was doing could help stimulate things enough to shift it and move things along. Or, worse…so much fucking worse, it could be an impaction.
A blockage.
The thought scared me, because that’s a guaranteed vet visit and not a guaranteed recovery.

But I wasn’t going to dwell on that thought, because, like I kept telling her…she was going to be okay. Mama said so, and when Mama says you’re going to be okay, you’re just going to be okay. No choice.
We spent the next couple hours with her getting up, turning around, and laying back down…I rubbed her back (palms along her spine, my whole weight bearing down on her), and pushing the pressure point in her mouth. The pain was easing, I knew, because her nostrils weren’t flaring as bad, ears were not as droopy…but she was still hurting.
The vet made it out, she was still down, he listened to her stomach and found he could hear her gut working.
Thank Goddess!!!
Stupid shit stethoscope.
He gave her a shot of banamine, and with discussion and a stern admonition to call him ASAP if anything changed for the worse, he went onto his next call.

During the next couple hours, things were more of the same…she managed to get herself cast against a straw bale, where the Kid and I had to roll her by hand…oh, and stupid fucking idiot at one point lay too close to the white fence, rolled, and got a back leg caught in the fence. I thought she was going to break her leg…the last thing I ever want to have to do is shoot my horse because she broke her leg. Holy shit did I yell at her when she managed to untangle herself and get up. Stupid, stupid horse.
Thankfully, all she has is a scrape on her inner thigh from the fence. Idiot. She has no idea how lucky she is…

Finally, the Kid and I got her settled down over by the shelter. She layed down again, but without trying to roll. So, we let her. She was exhausted, and it wasn’t long before she was flat-out, asleep. In a moment of sheer stupidity (because I can’t get out of her way fast enough if she goes to roll or get up), I sat down next to her, and rubbed her ears. All I could think was “I know one day you’re going to break my heart. Today. Is. Not. That. Day.”
I laid on her side, listening, hoping I could hear those magical, beautiful sounds, and I swear, the first growly sounds I heard, I burst into tears…and then…the tail lifted and out came this teeny tiny tootling.
Oh. My. God(dess).
Nothing has ever smelled so horrible, and yet so wonderful!

By this time, Ruby and Astrid had gone past us, into the shelter. My Girl decided enough of this outside shit, she was getting up and going inside! She heaved herself up, and walked straight into that shelter, with a tail swish that just dared me to try to stop her. She pushed in between Ruby and Astrid and stood there…at one point she tried to go down, but Ruby bit her. There’s not enough room for her to lie down, with anyone else in there, and Ruby was not leaving. The message was clear…”Stand or get out!”

That’s when I looked at the Kid and said “I need a coffee…let’s go have coffee.”

From there we went to checks every half hour, updating everyone who needed it as we went. By 3ish, I was cautiously optimistic that she was through the worst of it. By the time Hubby got home after 5, she was out in the pasture with everyone else, nibbling and being herself…a tired, far more cranky version of herself, but herself.
And finally, the jackpot…that beautiful tail came up and out came the manure…
While I sat on the deck, with my coffee, covered in mud and shit and blood from slapping horseflies off her, thanking every single Deity I believe in for not taking her from me.

Such a beautiful picture...if I can ignore the fact that she's colicking.

Such a beautiful picture…if I can ignore the fact that she’s colicking.

Owning Horses Healed My Heart

I have, in my life, been an angry, angry woman.
I have been a not nice person as well.

It may come as a surprise to some that my childhood years were not as good as they might have seemed from the outside. I don’t dwell there anymore. I’ve moved on. A lot of the people who made that time ugly are just not a part of my life anymore, and I’m good with that. They are a part of what made me an angry woman.

Even when my Kid came along, I carried a lot of anger and hurt. Having a child meant having to bury it, because you don’t want to have that stuff splatter all over your child. You want them to grow up without that garbage.

Oh, but then, when she was having problems in school, and we signed her up for riding lessons…oh, there came that time in the barn. That connection to all things equine.

I say it a lot, Equine Therapy works. I know it does.
My Kid is living proof.
I’m living proof.

I was angry. I was hurt. Deep down inside, where I didn’t think I could ever heal. I honestly thought I would carry that for the rest of my life.

And then I met this Girl…

<3 Cookie <3

❤ Cookie ❤

And my life has changed forever.

In order to gain her trust, I had to fix myself. How could she ever trust me, if I couldn’t trust myself? You can’t go into a pasture with a horse who needs to learn to trust again while carrying anger, hurt and resentment, and expect things to work. It can’t, it doesn’t, it won’t.

I had to fix *ME* in order to help her. To gain her trust. To show her that humans can be trusted.

But y’know what’s funny? In order to fix me, to help Cookie, I needed this girl:

Smiling SableWhy?

It’s simple…because Sable is the epitome of “In perfect Love and perfect Trust”. She trusts so easy and offers her giant heart for love so willingly.

She is our Miracle horse.
She saved me.
Sable save me from me, and with her help, I’ve been able to be the Human my Cookie needs, so she can be the Very Best Horse she can be.

I will always love my Bella for that.