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.

Life Happens…

A friend posted this graphic on Facebook last night…

stay humbleAnd it’s true, right? All the physical stuff in the world, isn’t going to change the end result. What really matters, in the end, are the relationships we’ve built. With ourselves, with family, with friends, with our partners, with our 4 legged friends…relationships. As trite as this is going to sound, love matters. Sometimes, all we have is the love from the relationships we build.

And then life changes…it happens,  we’re caught unaware, and those relationships change. It happened to a very good friend of our Farm over the holidays. A friend that helped us through encouragement and support, get where we are. A friend, who, whether she knows it or not, has challenged me, over and over again, to be a better person, a stronger person. My life, all our lives here, are richer for knowing her, and her family.

I’m not going to go into details of what happened, that’s hers, and hers alone, but her life is changed forever. We are trying to do everything we can, as friends, to support her. So, when, late one night, I got an email asking if we would take her mare-because she had to sell off all her animals-Hubby and I discussed this, and decided, what else could we do? This friend needed our help, and we are in a position to give it. Done.

So, yesterday, we drove down to her place, and with the help of one of her incredible neighbours, got this beautiful little girl loaded, and brought her home.

This girl is Astrid.

This is Astrid.

It was a very emotional time for all of us. My heart broke for our friend, taking this girl from her. I cannot imagine having your life turned upside down, and having to give away your horse. It would rip me in two, to lose my Cookie, and I know, she was dying inside, trying to get Astrid into the trailer. All I could offer were hugs, and the assurance that Astrid will be well-loved here…and, should she ever be in the place to take her Home, we’ll load her up and bring her back, where ever Home is.

Astrid2My girls were less than thrilled…well, other than Sable, who wanted to make friends immediately.

Exchanging breath greetings.

Exchanging breath greetings.

MamaRu watched over every little interaction, because poor Astrid, with her life spun sideways, she keeps doing the mare squeal and back kicks…MamaRu don’t let no one kick her Sable! Not even Cookie. MamaRu runs this herd!

There's the tri-color paint stinkeye...

There’s the tri-color paint stinkeye…

Yeah, our Ruby has a very Calico attitude. If you have Calico cats, you know exactly what I’m talking about. They’re lovely dovey, but only on their terms…and woe be to those who cross them!

My Cookie, however, is pissed at me. Very much so. I expect she’ll adjust, so long as the feeders stay full. Food is her issue, and well, she’s a bit of a jealous bitch(we’re a lot alike, me and that horse!).

Uh, Mom? WTF? What's with the new horse?

Uh, Mom? WTF? What’s with the new horse?

This morning, there was a small bout of asshattery at the feeders, but nothing more than what there was when the 3 were here. Thankfully Astrid is respectful of fences, and man, oh man, she’s loving the wide open space to run!! The 3 girls canter off, and she’s about 2 lengths behind, trying to join the herd. She’ll get there. 🙂

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After all that, time for a little bit of seriousness…

I am, and this is one of my failings, a judgmental person. I know I am. I have judged the folks who dropped my Girls at auction six ways from Sunday. They make me angry, they make me sad. I would punch them all in the throat, given the chance. Especially since I’ve had the time to get to know my horses, and I know there are incredible hearts inside those huge bodies.

That said, this past month has been a lesson for me, in not judging people, because, like the title of the post…life happens. I don’t know how, or why, Ruby, Cookie, and Sable ended up where they did. Especially Sable, who is a giant love pony. But, she did, and, as much as I want to be cruel to the person who got rid of her, I now wonder, what happened? What life change forced the person to take her to auction? Was there a death in the family? Divorce? Job loss? It could have been anything, really. Some traumatic life event that means who ever loved her before us-and she was clearly loved-put her in the ring. Thankfully, at the right time, because the rescue got her, and then we did.

So, as I sit here typing this, I wonder what may have happened to Astrid, if we hadn’t been able to take her. I can say, we would have helped our friend network through the horse community to find someone who could take her, and do everything we could to ensure she didn’t go back where she came from (Astrid came from the same rescue my girls did, who grabbed her from the auction ring…another horse that only 2 were bidding on: the rescue and the meat man). But in the end, if all resources are exhausted, and no one can or will help, would she have gone back? It’s a real possibility.

And so, my judgmental self says:
“Don’t throw stones, Wolfie, because you don’t know the whole story. Save the stones, rocks, boulders, for the ones who send their horses to auction, clearly neglected and unloved. Those are the bastards that deserve it…everyone else? Well, Life Happens”