Dancer retired to a new home

A month after Dulce’s passing, I started worrying about the final outcome of the horses. The place where they have stayed for 5 years is up for sale. What would I do if it sold? Especially for my remaining mini-pony, Dancer, as finding boarding accommodations for ponies is extremely difficult (I’ve already looked and was told by several people I would have to pay full “horse” price for her even though all she eats is 1 flake of hay a day, wouldn’t be in a stall, and only needs a dry lot!).

Luckily, a business friend has a farm and invited Dancer to come out and be her miniature horse’s companion. All that fell into place in September and we moved her, without drama, to where I am hoping will be her final retirement.

Her new place is a true dry lot so that will be better for Dancer’s health. It has shelter so I won’t have to worry late at night when a storm blows in that I didn’t lock Dante up so Dancer could share his shelter. The owner has already agreed to bury her on the property if/when the final days come so that is also a relief.

I’ve put her on a schedule to be trimmed every 3 weeks as husband is still doing her feet. The farrier that the friend uses I’m not impressed by and Dancer has special feet concerns from having foundered before and with her Cushings disease.

She and the little mini are already best of friends. Dancer has bonded with her in a way she never bonded with Dulce and the miniature is very happy to have a true horse as a companion instead of her former donkey companions.

Fingers crossed that this all continues!

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Quiet after the storm

The horses have been very quiet, almost subdued, though they are eating. When we took Dante out to handwalk in the pasture, he didn’t want to go too far away and Dancer kept a worried eye on him.

We are all hurting in our ways.

Posted in Healing & Spiritual Self | Leave a comment

Run free sweet Dulce

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Yesterday, when I arrived at the barn, Dulce was in extreme distress. She couldn’t breathe, was foaming at the mouth and was so agitated that she ran about or took to rolling. I called the vet and husband to come immediately.

I suspected this hard choice was coming as she had Cushings, a disease that was not being controlled by Pergolide and diet management. Last year, I suspected she was developing COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease also known as “Heaves” or Recurrent Airway Obstruction) and that was confirmed by the vet who saw her this month.

As the heat and allergy season progressed, so did her pulmonary distress. When the vet examined her, he said it wasn’t Choke (that would have resulted in her foaming from the nostrils and mouth) but that her respiration was in extremely poor condition. He suspected some sort of obstruction, maybe a hematoma. We discussed options but really there was only one real choice for those that truly loved her.

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With the property for sale, I had visited with several people who might have taken the ponies. It became crystal clear that 1.) no one would take Dulce (to be clear I wasn’t relinquishing ownership – this was a paid retirement) with all her special health concerns, 2.) what if she passed with these new caretakers? and 3.) if it would be to her best healthy interests to move her (though I wouldn’t have a choice if the property sold) and cause more stress?

When I was waiting for the vet, I watched Dante try to comfort her. He stood with her under their tree and she settled down in his shadow. Before we led her down the path to a final goodbye, both Dancer and Dante came to her individually and said goodbye. Though when I returned hours later, they were calling for her. How to explain?

I knew she was in a lot of pain because she didn’t freak out when husband was leading her (something she would never had allowed if in health). I was fortunate that the vet could come out immediately so she wouldn’t be found dead in a field or left to suffer for hours (I do not live on the property and no horse knowledgeable person does who would call me).

I had already called the pet cremation where we had taken our dogs (one due to old age back last summer, one last month due to cancer) and they agreed to process her for me. I was planning on bringing her body to them in my hatchback but the landowner pulled up and offered his truck. Again, I was lucky she wouldn’t have to lay in a field, rotting, but could be brought to them with care.

I will pick up her ashes Monday and spread them through the pasture.

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The first photos are of her when she came to me; the photo below, 5 years later. She was in her early 30’s and being an inbred miniature had several obvious deformities and I’m guessing ones internally also.

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She was shy but the sweetest little doll of a pony you could find. She had a special sound she made (again – those deformities in the mouth and probably the throat that resulted in her condition) when I would arrive, calling to me in a tone that was so adorable (it always sounded like “hey human, glad to see you”).

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She went easily, ready to run over that Rainbow Bridge and be free from pain.

May you and Tristan graze the fields and run with joy. I’m sure he’ll let you share his food, those big horses love you so much.

Such a precious bright little light.

Sweet little Star.

Thank you for being with us.

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moving horses

The property where I board is up for sale and the horses and I are looking for a new home. Because of that, I had turned this blog private for 24 hours as I was feeling out a few people. That has fallen through so I’ve put the blog public again.

I’ve had a lot of new subscribers and I’m not sure why. I think some old pages finally got seen or something so hoping you all aren’t spammers as I just don’t have time for that 😉

Overall, moving the horses is going to be a BIG BITCH and I’m against the clock on it. I’ll post more as it happens but for now I’m on a full scramble.

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Update

The last four months have been difficult for various reasons and I see I haven’t been very good about updating here so let me do some news on everyone:

Dulce: it took a while but she slowly gained weight back. It’s been a struggle. I tried several different equine senior feeds (which she all refused) and then she decided she would eat a Mare and Foal feed (high fat) until she decided one day she wouldn’t eat that either, so we are back to the Grostrong 13.

Her winter coat is in so she looks much larger then she really is. Come spring we shall see but I am trying to keep a feel of her ribs to know how she is doing.

I’ve left her halter on as there is no easy way to catch her when needed for hoof trimmings and while I’ve used clicker training, whatever her life was in her past has left deep, emotional scars.

Dancer: About two weeks ago I realized that one day, probably sooner then I want, I’ll have to say goodbye to my dear little pony. We continue to struggle with her feet and I realized that with the Cushing’s diagnosis one day it will simply catch up to her.

Mood and attitude on both ponies is very good. For Dancer, I’m going to try another grazing muzzle (though she has escaped them in the past) and buy her some hoof boots for the front feet in hopes of getting her more active.

Dante: I’m still not doing much with him. This is a major problem. Either I need to start doing something or find him another home.

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For the last three months I’ve been struggling with the idea of should I stay boarding where I am – and if so, how to solve the problem of horses getting fed. This plays into not working Dante, because I have to wait until he’s finished eating to work him and that means staying out there longer (doing nothing) then I want to do.

Or move Dante to a full care boarding facility? If I choose this option, then I lose my privacy (which I value highly) and lose control over how I want his life managed (i.e. less pasture time, more stall time, more expenses, nosy neighbors etc…).

I did hire a feeder but she doesn’t live on the property and I could never afford her (at $20 per day) to feed everyday. I did visit another facility that offers an option for feeding at $7 a day in addition to your boarding fee but it also has an arena and a roundpen. The problem is no vacancies and some other issues (which I won’t go into here).

So I bit the bullet and asked my neighbor if he would feed at a rate of $50 a week (on top of my $140 pasture fee for Dante) = $340 less the cost of hay and feed. With ponies this brings up my boarding fees to $420. Hay, feed and supplements will be on top of this.

He starts to feed Dec. 1st and I’ll give myself 3 months to see if I will be more interactive with Dante. If not, in the spring, I’ll send him to a trainer and arrange for him to be re-homed.

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What I don’t go into here with my blog is my mental struggles which I really don’t want to discuss here anyway. About a month ago we decided to euthanize our senior dog due to major loss of quality of life. Three weeks later the other dog went in for some surgery. I do run a small shop over on Etsy and I’m in a quandary whether I should grow it more (it has a limit as to what it could do) or go ahead and start thinking of closing it down.

I’m trying to decide what to do with my time and life. Especially as we look towards selling the house in two years and begin a life of travel to find a retirement location. There’s a lot of re-shuffling of priorities.

Life seems to get in the way and I’ve been with horses in some way or another a long time. I’m trying to keep things open ended on my horse decision but some sort of decision needs to be made next spring for Dante’s future.

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Dulce continues her decline

Dulce continues to not gain weight. She has me very worried at this point.

I tried Equine Senior and she refused to eat it. So I stopped her Pergolide (which can suppress appetite) and went back to Grostrong 13 (which she will eat) and doubled the amount of food. After 3 weeks of that, I tried to get her to eat some Equine Senior mixed with her Grostrong 13, yesterday and today and she again turned up her nose.

She does not like it!

I’ve tried other fat supplements and she won’t eat them either.

As of today, I’ve increased her food amount again. I’ve also let her be under the fan in the barn but she prefers the shade tree.

The vet comes out Friday to do Dancer’s dental and I’m going to speak to her about Dulce again. Last time she was here, she thought Dulce probably had other health issues – such as her foaming at the mouth (a lot) right before she is fed or when she gets nervous.

Other then looking like a skeleton, she is chipper, is bright and alert, desires to eat (just not Equine Senior), and actually has a shiny coat (WTF??) so I’m at wit’s end right now and will see if the doctor has any recommendations.

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For the rest of us it is HOT HOT HOT. I’m giving Dante hose downs when I can but he still will only use the fan in the stall occasionally and prefers to hang out under the tree or in the pasture eating grass.

Work has stalled due to some very rainy days, too much heat and me injuring my back. Typically, this heat keeps going up until we get through mid August when we should start seeing some breaks in the weather.

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The real cost of self care boarding

I’ve been in self care boarding for over 8 years or there about. Only when we lived in Missouri for a year were the horses on my own property – in all other situations I had to drive out (30 minutes, usually 50, one way) to get there.

I can deal with the cost of buying my own food and hay. I can deal with pooping scoop. I can deal with dumping and scrubbing out water tanks. What wears me down though is the day in and day out responsibility with no break. It starts to kill my enjoyment of my horses; I become a caretaker with little time for friendship.

It’s not that I don’t love the horses but when you are doing something day in and day out the “special” is soon removed. You see the same burnout in Stay at Home Moms who end up doing all the cleaning and cooking with little time to be the “fun” activity mom for their kids.

I tried getting someone this year to help out but I ended up firing her within three weeks due to no-shows. I’ve been advertising on Craiglists and at feed and farm supply stores, again with no luck. The problem is I have to find someone in the area because if they have to drive more then 20 minutes one way themselves the cost of it to me becomes too high due to gas mileage.

For example, I talked to someone that does barn sitting and she was going to be $35 and thought she might have to increase that price because of the drive. 😦

Yesterday, I had the bright idea of looking for a dog sitter that might live in the area. I found someone who lives 12 minutes away and who grew up on a farm (had cattle and dad had horses). YAY!

She came out to visit with me today and I am tentatively getting excited and thinking this might work out. She’s an adult who wants a business looking after animals, lives close by and felt the routine was very easy.

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The routine is now easy because of the changes I made on the fenceline back in April-May of this year which allows me to separate all three horses. Since the horses now know the routine, everyone easily goes to where they are suppose to be fed as long as you feed them in the CORRECT order 😉

When you look at the diagram, Dante eats at point A and is fed first; Dancer eats at point B and is fed second; open the gate and let Dulce through and she eats at point C (just close the gates so horse’s can’t mingle).

I meet with her next Thursday for her to review the process again and then she starts doing my Fridays. If things work out, I hope she can do twice a week starting this fall.

For those interested in the cost we agreed on was $20 for a weekday, $25 for weekends, and $30 for national holiday. This price is reasonable because she can get there in 15 minutes or less, and my feeding system takes less then 25 minutes (the only real delay is you have to wait until Dulce finishes so she can be moved back into the dry lot with Dancer).

The other feeder was also in charge of some grooming and care for the horses but I learned my lesson. I will keep those duties to myself and if I do hire someone to help groom, bathe, etc… I will have them work alongside me, not on their own.

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This is part of the huge shift in our life. We both know that we will be selling our house in 18-24 months and downsizing.

Our plans at this point is to buy land in Arkansas, near Eureka Springs, where we can build a one bedroom barn house so we can stable the horses. Meanwhile, spouse will also have a 1 or 2 bedroom, near downtown, condo which we will travel back and forth from as his work will let him telecommute. The tentative plan is that I would be in ES 3 weeks out of 4 and spouse will be with me 10-14 days then back to Tulsa for a week, and then back to me etc.. while both of our kids are away at college.

These are big dreams but it means we need time these next two years to take vacations, look at land, be available to do research out of state, work on this house so it’s ready to sell, etc… which means we need more TIME to get crap done. And me feeding horses every day, and having to be here on the weekends, doesn’t allow for that.

I REALLY hope this one works out!

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