Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Zzzzz

Summer is our busiest time of year. It's full of summer vacations, an influx of new TMF students, and our own personal life events. What? We have a life?

Well, we do. Sort of. Most of it revolves around horses, but I do go out. Occasionally. I swear!

Anyway, even though things have been very frenetic, we still seem to cram in some time to lounge around and enjoy the slow pace of farm life.
You will notice that by "we," I mean the four - footed members of our family.
It is just exhausting, eating grass and lolling about all day. Can you imagine?
That's Zeus on the left, and Siggy on the right. Topaz, being the smart little girl she is, was busy mowing the grass by herself, without these two troublemakers bothering her.
You know how boys are....they need their naptime. These boys are no different.

Maybe one of these days, I'll bring a beach chair out and join them, with a pina colada in hand, of course. I bet Zeus will want some of it. However, Topaz is the only one who is allowed to drink, since she's over 21.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Getting Off Track

To everyone who commented and sent their thoughts and best wishes to Topaz and I, thank you! I'm very happy to report that she is back to normal. We're still waiting for the final results of her second blood test, but I presume it will only be positive, based on her attitude! Our Diva is back.

I also have something else very important to share. Last week, I was contacted by a wonderful writer, who has a journalism blog that focuses on Off the Track Thoroughbreds. Susan Salk is a beautiful writer, a journalist who has a way with words and weaves our story beautifully and accurately - no small feat for someone not working with fiction.

Susan is one of those people who, as we say, "fight the good fight," in bringing awareness to the general public about horses whose careers end at the track...what happens then? Where do they go?

I think the nicest part about her blog is that she proves that Thoroughbreds are not the hot, spooky, high strung horses many people assume they are. They are prime athletes, companions, teachers and giant best friends.

I consider it an honor to have our very own Zeus featured on her blog. Want to see it? Please do!

Click right here to see the blog entry, and also, please leave a comment and let her know you enjoyed it! Giving Thoroughbreds a second chance at life and a new career is an ongoing struggle, and people like Susan, who give so much of her time and talent, deserve to be recognized. Even better, sign up to get her posts in your email inbox to stay in the loop.

I have to apologize for the myriad of super serious posts....I have a stockpile of funny photos coming up! Even in tough times, our animals are constantly making us laugh. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Whew....maybe?

What a roller coaster we've been on.

When I wrote my last post, I inadvertently jinxed myself and Topaz, thinking we were out of the woods. I was wrong.

I wrote the blog entry on Friday, when I was sure Topaz was getting over her bug, and she ended up going to the other end of the spectrum.

Most people don't realize that despite a horse's size, their stomachs are extremely delicate and smaller than one would imagine. Horses are grazing animals, meaning their bodies are meant to consistently take in small amounts of food - not large quantities in a short period of time. But sometimes, even the most diligent horse owner (moi) can have a fluke illness, bacterial infection, or just darn bad luck when a horse has a stomach issue.

Matt and I were up with Topaz most of Friday night, forcing her to take medication (I ended up wearing more of it) and walking her when she appeared uncomfortable - if a horse goes down to roll from stomach pain, sometimes they can twist an intestine. That's a death sentence, unless you're prepared to spend tens of thousands of dollars on surgery - and that may not even work.

Matt had to head out of town on Saturday, so I was left with Topaz alone. Our vet made an emergency visit to us, and did a thorough exam on Topaz - including tubing her and pushing fluids into her. No conclusion was made as to her ailment. Topaz appeared slightly brighter, but later in the day, went downhill again.

Having a mild meltdown (ok, not so mild), I called my mom, who dropped everything and came over to help me administer more meds to Topaz and to generally calm me down. We had to talk about our options if she didn't improve - an awful subject, but necessary for an animal of their size.

Mom went back home in the middle of a raging thunderstorm, leaving me in the barn with the horses, finishing things up before I ran back to the house to ride out the storm. I just sat down in Topaz's stall and cried - cried for not being able to help her more, crying for the students and visitors that came to love her audacity and the (snarling, kicking, vengeful) charm that only Topaz has, and crying over the unfairness of it all, having just lost my "forever" horse, Midnight, 6 months ago.

I went to bed at about 3 AM, getting about 3 hours of sleep (typical for the past 3 nights) and getting up at 6 AM. I'll be honest, I really questioned whether Topaz would still be with us when I walked out to the barn.

She nickered for her breakfast - the first time since Thursday.

I'm happy to say that today, she's as normal as she's been since before her illness.

Our vet is coming out again tomorrow, to draw more blood (her white blood cell count was extraordinarily low when tested on Saturday) and make sure she is really on the road to recovery.

Whew. I think.

To all who have gotten in touch and offered their support, well wishes and offered to bring us food (since I certainly wasn't cooking!), watch Topaz so I could rest, and just let us know we were in their thoughts - thank you. If Topaz tries to bite you during your next visit, it's just her way of showing gratitude!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Close Calls

My horses tend to be so melodramatic.

Just when you take a deep breath and enjoy them for a bit, something happens and everything goes into a tailspin. Of course, I'm being a little dramatic myself here, but I can safely say that these horses keep me on my toes!

Take for example, our lovely Topaz. She's 23 this year and while she's up there in years, she's still got a lot of spitfire and personality. Not to mention, my younger students and some adults just love her - she gives them the confidence to ride, and that's a gift not many horses can give.

But if you know Topaz, you know she lives for food. Grass, carrots, leaves, grain, hay, you name it, she loves it.

Earlier this year, Topaz had a tooth issue - she'd chipped off a piece of her tooth and it was causing her pain - she was reluctant to eat and when she did, her eyes would roll around in her head.

Enter the vet. Who said, "We need a dentist!"

Enter the dentist.

Cha ching!

Then, in March, Topaz started showing signs of colic (a potentially fatal problem in horses) - pawing the ground with her hoof, listlessness, and refusing to eat or drink. I practically slept in her stall that night, to see if she'd improve. She was very droopy the next morning.

Enter the vet. Who said, "It's Ehrlicia, give her 100 pills of Doxycycline 2 times per day, Banamine 2 times per day, and take her temperature for the next few days."

Cha ching!

Now, here we are in June. It's a beautiful day, as was yesterday, but Topaz was a little droopy again yesterday. I'm an incredibly vigilant horse owner, so I immediately start Sick Horse Watch, with regular temperature taking (can you guess how I do that?), close monitoring and basically following her around the field to see what she does.

Later in the day, she showed me. The poor thing had diarrhea!

I hope you're not eating a meal right now. If you are, sorry.

Topaz gets this affliction occasionally at this time of year, but she was also lethargic and refused to eat her dinner, hay, or drink any water. Since Topaz would eat your arm if you refused to feed her, I knew something was seriously up. Like before, I was in her stall a good portion of the night, keeping watch.

She still hadn't eaten or had any water this morning, so I called the vet, who gave me some suggestions to add what I was already doing (administering ProBios and another medication), and she was planning to make her way to TMF after another emergency call she had.

Luckily, when she called to tell me she was en route, Topaz made a beeline for the water bucket outside, and had a good long drink. Then she marched into her stall, polished off her breakfast and another half bucket (about 2.5 gallons) of water.

She's in her stall resting now after what I would imagine was an uncomfortable night. But I think we're through the worst of it. And quickly enough that it saved me at least a few hundred dollars on an emergency vet visit!

This time, it looks like I saved some Cha Ching!

And Topaz, could we have a boring month or two, please?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Departures

Friends. They're people we take for granted...people who know our secrets, and people we talk to about everything - the good, the bad, and everything in between.

But in reality, who of these people are our real friends? Do we throw the word "friend" around too easily, when perhaps, this person is just an acquaintance?

I'm not sure if it's because I have more clarity out here in the country of what's important, and who is important to keep close, or if it's just me thinking about things too much.

When Matt and I made the move to this new way of life, I thought that my close friends from NY would still remain close friends, despite the distance - if my best friends Bex and Lizzie, located in London and southern CT, and I are still connected (and we are), then surely living in driving distance would maintain a friendship.

However, throughout the past few months, I've noticed that some of those supposed friendships have fallen away completely, with much more ease than I thought a bond like that would warrant. That makes me sad, but it also makes me think back to those relationships. Perhaps those "friendships" weren't as strong as I thought, for various reasons.

Because of TMF, I've been able to forge some new friendships, with new people from all different walks of life, and I've been blessed to become friends with some of the most clever, genuine, and lovely people on the planet. These aren't mere acquaintances....no. These are people that, I think, will go the distance. I can see Matt and I still being friends with them, 10 or 20 years from now. I can see them supporting and encouraging us as we start a family and grow our business.

Could my departed "friends" have said the same? Reflecting on it now...I think not.

To the people that know me well...thank you for your friendship. I treasure every smile, laugh and even the more serious topics we sometimes cover. I care about you very deeply and am blessed to call you a friend.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dragonflies

These guys live in our mud paddock lately.
(Stock photo - they won't sit still long enough for me to catch a picture.)

Every day, there are at least 20 full grown dragonflies constantly buzzing around our mud paddock. They're curious about me - they'll buzz around me but not bother me or land, and they don't show any concern for the horses.

One of my students told me that dragonflies symbolize good fortune, in which case, we'll take them!

I was curious about why they're spending so much time with us, close to the barn (but not in the barn, thankfully). After a little research, I discovered this:

The adult dragonfly uses the basket formed by its legs to catch insects while flying. The adult dragonfly likes to eat gnats, mayflies, flies, mosquitoes and other small flying insects.

Just based on that.....I love those guys. And they must have a feast with the flies and other bugs that are in our area.

Here's a little more on what they symbolize, which is fantastic:

There are many different representations of the dragonfly; it all comes down to which culture you happen to be in. For instance, if you are in Japan, the dragonfly symbolizes a new light and joy. Some animal symbolism has the dragonfly representing good luck, prosperity, swiftness, purity, harmony and strength. Some Native Americans believe dragonflies are the souls of the dead. There are also many cultures that believe that the meaning of a dragonfly is happiness, courage and subconscious thoughts. It is also believed that if you see two dragonflies paired together that they represent love and maturity.

Now that's one bug we can all take a lesson from.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Daisy Dukes

No, not my shorts. Although I wore some pretty short shorts today.

Well, can you blame me? It's a zillion degrees out, I'm working with big animals in the sun, and my legs are practically radioactive, they're so white. They totally won't match the upper half of my body if I ever decide to bare my legs in a dress this summer.

Anyway, this post is not about my legs.

It's about these beauties!
What surprises me to no end, is where they grew.

Here's a hint:
"They only grow in darkness and dank, but sweetness, how they blossom." Vida Boheme, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar

(One of the best films ever made, in my opinion...)

They grew in my manure pile!

What!

I know!

Can you believe it?

Those beautiful flowers grew, totally by themselves, out of...well....you know.

It just goes to show you how beautiful things find a way into the world on their own.

So I cut a bunch of them and they're now taking up space on my kitchen windowsill.
Gorgeous.

What a way to appreciate even the less savory parts of farm life. Definitely a side benefit.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Vultures Circling

We aren't strangers to the wonders of wildlife at TMF.

Take this guy, for example.
This bird (though it looks more like a pterodactyl to me!) is a turkey vulture. I actually think it's a female, as females are generally larger, or at least, that's what Wikipedia says. They eat dead animals. Perhaps they had some interest in some guests I had not too long ago, which is why they're sticking around! What amazes me, is they hunt based on their keen sense of smell. Those eagle eyes don't hurt either.

Anyway, Gertrude as we'll call her (because how can you not?), was perched on one of the trees in our front yard. I ushered Mojo in, who was gallivanting around the yard, but then remembered they eat dead things, not living things. But this bird was quite wary of me, and vice versa.

I eventually crept forward to get a better photo, and Gertie decided to take her leave...
Off to find something more interesting to eat.

We were just too lively for her liking, I guess.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Photogenic Ponies

I have lots of blog entries ready to go, but the photos I took this morning have to be shared!

I can't wait a moment longer!

After the storms we had last night, there was a lovely misty fog hanging on to the ground this morning. Always seeing a chance for some good photos, I went out with my camera this morning when I went to feed.

I was not disappointed.
The one bummer was, the horses tend to head to the grass around the previous owner's old manure pile, which we are maniacally trying to disintegrate, as it can be seen from Google Earth images, and who wants a pile of poo you can see from space? Ours is in a much better place, instead of hanging around the middle of the field.

Anyway. Enough of Space Poo.

I ran out to the field ahead of the horses, so I'd get their grand entrance. It was quite comical - me in my wellies and pajamas, running like a banshee with a camera to be ahead of the Pony Parade.
Topaz was first out of the gate, with Siggy close behind! I don't know why she doesn't just let them go first, they inevitably push her to run more, but I think she'd rather keel over than know someone got to the morning grass before she did!

I feel that way about a cheese buffet sometimes.
Zoomin' Zeus was taking an easy stroll, because if he really let it rip, he'd pass everyone in about 2 strides.

A happy tangle of horses.

But then, Zeus decided he wasn't done playing yet.
He's noodling Siggy along...."Come on, it's nice and cool now, let's run around and be idiots all over the field!"

If you blow up the pic, Siggy is none too thrilled, as he actually has a grimace on his face.
Zeus is a persistent 5 year old, though....

And here's the end result.