I’ve got the Orange Barrel Blues…

The past few months have been an exercise in creative planning – Our little city has been digging up every major road and Highway used to expedite traffic and get us to businesses and jobs; all at once. And what was a reasonable path through the maze one week is entirely restructured the next so there is no predicting any of it.

Businesses from one end of town to another are closing up shop (some having thrived for decades!) because no customers can manage to drive to their buildings. Not just for a week or two of inconvenience, some businesses have been inaccessible for nearly a year.

Having lived here since 1981, I am fortunate to know most back ways to the places I need to patronize and things that are not an actual need, well, it’s just not worth the effort, time and petrol wasted…

My beautiful picture

So, yesterday, I drove our beloved Michelle to the airport in a nearby big city a couple of hours away. We crossed state lines, were whipping along at 70 mph on 3 lanes between tractor trailers when instantaneously traffic went to 10 mph and one lane. Several times we came to a stop (in these cases, I pump my brake lights and pray for good brakes behind me!). Then, just as quickly, we’re back to multiple lanes at 70 mph.

Home safe and relatively sound, I briefly considered a little detour into our city to grab some groceries… then I saw the line of tail lights, single lane of vehicles and spattering of orange barrels down the hill. “Hell no.” I was already fending off a migraine. “We’ll eat more lentil loaf and like it!”

So today’s sojourn to order fencing supplies and catch a bite of lunch was a great test of my intuition and, I’m proud to say, we made it to each place easily, serpentining through the incoherent jumble of orange objects. Decades ago, an ex-husband said that a wise person would invest in an orange barrel business. Crikey, how clearly he predicted that!

I am profoundly grateful that we live up on the mountain, in high desert and well away from so awful much orange.

 

 

 

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Something to depend on…

That’s what the horse’s gut requires. Right now, in New Mexico, we are having some struggles with getting hay, affording hay, the quality of hay…

Since we base all the horses’ diets here on roughage and there is no pasture on this high desert, hay is our most vital component for health, for nourishment. Changing the equine diet suddenly is detrimental to gut health. The only way to avoid digestive disturbance is to have at least one consistent food given every day, religiously.

For us that was Bermuda hay. As a base it is a good choice here. It does not have to be trucked in from a great distance like Timothy and other (nicer) grass hays. It can be in front of the horses “free choice” because they will not over eat Bermuda hay. Up until recently, the quality had been outstanding, each bale the same as another with sweet aroma, soft strands of tender dry grass… our experience for several years.

Lately, we have been lucky to get bales with sticks and clods of dirt in them. We were buying our alfalfa through friends who brought it over from Arizona. The advantage to it over locally produced alfalfa hay was/is the hay is grown all year ’round and there isn’t a rush of nutrients as happens here for the first cutting in spring. Yesterday, I had to purchase 4 bales of local alfalfa for $88.00 to grind for Vega. He is worth it. But, we pulled out some pieces of plastic and I had to examine a couple of beetles (they were not blister beetles) from it. It can drive you bonkers.

We got through a relatively harsh winter on beautiful grass hay donated by loving friends! We had some giant bales (one ton bales) also partly donated, partly purchased by us. It spoiled us! The struggle to unload such big bales and to chainsaw them in to manageable “flakes” was well worth it because the quality was so high.

Of course, all of that has been fed… used up by the first of this month.

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

So, now I search for a source of the beardless wheat hay I bought last spring that sustained the horses’ good health all by itself. It looks like, come May, there will some affordable beardless (touch wood). Last year, the monthly hay cost was between $1,000 and $1,200. To be able to buy enough hay for 6 months would be a wise and wonderful thing… to gather $7,000 in donations to do so has not been our reality – we’ve been excited to get enough donations on a month by month basis!

Then there is bran, linseed meal, herbs, salt, etc. etc. Not to mention the stress financially of needing X rays or dental work on one of the horses…

So, something we depend on is a grass hay that we can base the horses’ rations upon consistently, day in, day out. We depend upon donors who provide the funds to buy the hay. We depend upon each other to drive to get the feed, unload it, secure it from the weather, feed it… so far, Mark and I pay for all the petrol to do these things. Dharmahorse does not have enough money to cover it and while we barely do, we believe in this Sanctuary.

So, something we depend on, above all else is each other. And that makes everything else possible.

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Comfort Zones

We all have them – those places where we feel at ease and the places where we want to escape, run, leap, dive under to find to a better feeling.

Sometimes being forced (or choosing to step) outside of our comfort zone can grow us forward; sometimes, it frays the insulation on our nerves to a point of shorting out.

Human, equine, canine, all of us face daily comfort glitches. For horses, their comfort zone is usually a certain distance away from a scary object. As they move a bit closer, they enter a “flight zone” where they go on alert and prepare to bolt. Closer even, their “fight” zone puts adrenaline into the bloodstream and they are ready to lash out if necessary.

Thinking about it, this applies for peeps and dogs, too. We all prepare through stages to protect ourselves.

One way to expand our comfort zones and feel at ease in more situations is to condition our responses and our bodies for coping. With our horsemanship, we do exercises that increase our balance and dexterity so that we become more comfortable when faced with a riding challenge.

A Dharmahorse exercise is to ride with a round cushion on our head to refine our balance – gradually moving up through the gaits as we gain proficiency. We walk, on the ground, with a book on our head first. The soft cushion is used mounted because horses don’t appreciate books falling onto their butts! Some don’t much care for the cushion, either.

You can work on hip control and pelvic tilts by placing that book on a table, hanging over the edge a bit. When you push the book forward with your hip bones, that is the tilt used to secure you in sitting trot or at canter. It is like pushing a swing forward as a child.

If you use one hip to push the book at an angle, you are practicing the aids for canter leads and lateral movements. The main thing to remember is to keep the hips loose and flexible so you have free range of motion. The rider’s seat starts out as interfering, becomes “following” and eventually influences the horse. We must have total control of our hip movements. This actually makes us more secure and we can move from one level, one gait, one path to the next with confidence.

From Yoga to dancing to tight rope walking; anything that increases your strengths (physical, emotional and mental) will expand your comfort zone.

Be bold, be aware and push the boundaries, just a bit!

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Bring a bit of joy…

A long time ago, I was married to a man who actually was old enough to be my father. While our relationship did not work out, there were some experiences I am so pleased to have had during my time with Bob.

He could not swim. Not that he flailed around in deep water – he dropped like a rock! Many of the things most of us have been able to do were impossible for Bob. Like going to the Water Park.

One of my favorite things used to be water parks. So…. with friends in tow who had children (often necessary for a day at the water park, justification, you see), I took Bob to Wet and Wild Water World.

His super pale skinny legs in shorts, wearing flip flops and a Harley T shirt, Bob looked as uncomfortable as he must have felt. At first.

I convinced him to trust me on some small slides with shallow landing pools where I rode down ahead of him, leaped off of my tube and stood by to catch him when he landed. And catch him it was! When he dropped from the slide into the 3 foot high water, he disappeared beneath it and I grabbed under his arms and pulled him immediately up to gasp some air.

Life guards stared and signaled at me and I told them, “he can’t swim” as he laughed and grabbed his tube to go again. “I’ve got him!” I told them and they stayed alert just in case.

Bob eyed the longer, scarier slides and soon found the courage to try them. I told him to count to 20 after I went down so I could get ready to catch him in the deeper water. The entire day was one of adventure for him and I was delighted to be his “catcher”! He never got buoyant, never was able to land on his feet, but he trusted me and had so much fun.

Our only casualty that day was the top of Bob’s feet – badly sunburned they were, having never seen the sun as far as I knew.

When we love, it becomes about that well being of those we love. When we love, it does not turn on and off like a switch. If we cannot live with someone, it does not mean something is wrong with them or with us. Instead of thinking about things that did not work out (in any relationship), I try to remember the times when the best of me found its way to the situation.

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Pathways

Even when it seems like we are treading water – movement is assured in this life. As I have watched several horses pass over to the next life, assisted with a precious spirit I tried to save and listened to the grieving of others whose animals have departed, I feel honored and humbled by the beloved beings I have known

Whether for decades, years or months, the connection to another is deepened by the knowing of each others’ essence and the realization that the veils between this life and the next are thin indeed. I have known horses I will never forget. The special ones who have been rescued from dire conditions and certain death are the most memorable sometimes. The ones who tried valiantly but could not rally against the neglect and injury are the most memorable always.

My beautiful picture

As I look toward the rest of winter and we all retreat a little bit into our personal hibernation of the spirit – using the longer nights and cooler weather to rest a bit more and meditate a little deeper – I can exhale.

So much depends upon the love and awareness we have for our animals. Their lives are literally in our hands and we must do the best we possibly can for them.

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Thoughts gathered, nights of musings

Into what sort of vessel can I pour my doubts? A life of charmed circumstances and a constant flow of love still cannot suppress the mind chatter of uncertainties…

I remove the fly masks from my horses tonight and watch the balloon-like rising of a silvered moon, nearly full, and wonder how I could ever entertain a doubt. But, I do. Once a day, on average, the thoughts of limitation or misdirection creep across my mind as welcome as thorns strewn along a path. I deny them. I banish them with new thoughts of gratitude and the assertion of my confidence. Next day… they return and laugh, no, fart, in my face with such disrespect and ulterior motives. Yet, I will prevail. They cannot bend me.

Perhaps our strength arises from such pestering of doubt – without something of this ilk to work ourselves away from, we might be slack and numb to the disruptions and ignore our lives into a lackluster existence instead of truly being. I feel the draw of sight setting low, of expectations beneath yesterday’s accomplishments. One can be dishonestly proud of oneself in this mode of functioning – or dis-functioning…

Instead, my doubts fuel the fire of decision and devotion. What I choose to embrace will not be discarded on a whim! The voices of disruption, even when they come from my own mouth and mind, have no power to circumvent dreams set into motion… the voices provide a counter energy to remind me of where I refuse to drift. Steady on. Deep breath.

Tonight is a night of lunar introspection. I have learned a lot from this mountain and this moon.

My beautiful picture

day’s end

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Black and Blue

Bruises are a fact of life for horses and horse people alike. A bruise is an area beneath the skin where trauma, usually from a blow, stresses and breaks vessels allowing blood and serum to leak into the surrounding tissues. Inflammation sets in to supply fresh blood and often, to act as a natural “splint” kind of stabilizing the area. All of these occurrences cause localized pain!

Upon immediate injury, the application of cold will lessen tissue damage and reduce swelling. For horses, bags of frozen vegetables, long “ice pop” frozen sweets or simple cold water from a hose will cool the area of injury. At the time of the bruising, a dose of Homeopathic Arnica orally every 15 minutes for a few hours, then a few times daily can bring the damage to a halt. Arnica gels, ointments and sprays work wonders externally.

The herb comfrey is an amazing healer for bruises. The root, boiled in water, makes a strained liquid that can be applied every hour to an injury (cold for a new bruise, warm for an old injury site). I have used comfrey for catastrophic injuries of horses and had such success that even Veterinarians were impressed.

8-11-2012 8;08;17 PM

The equine hoof has a propensity for bruising because of its small size in relation to the bulk and the weight it carries. A bruise to the hoof can be helped by the oral dosing of Homeopathic Arnica immediately. I carry the pellets on trail rides in case a horse becomes sore-footed on rocks or hardened paths.

A bruised hoof will benefit from soaking in warm epsom salt water. Most of our horses here at Dharmahorse Sanctuary will stand with one hoof in a tub of medicine – Majic will stand with all four hooves in tubs. The epsom salt water will draw pain and inflammation away from the hoof and the magnesium reduces pain. After the soaking, I will cover the bottom structures of the hoof with pure, strong iodine. This is all repeated three times daily until the horse feels relief.

There are pain killers that can be administered to the injured horse (talk with your Veterinarian) and there are herbs that will work in anti-inflammatory and analgesic ways also. These types of herbs that are safe to feed to most horses (do a test with a small amount at first) are: Meadowsweet, White Willow Bark, Devil’s Claw, Yucca Root, Turmeric, Comfrey Leaf in small amounts and Gotu Kola.

When I think a horse might be at risk of hoof bruising, I will put on a hoof boot to provide protection. If a horse has weak hooves, we will feed Methionine, Biotin, Lysine, Kelp and Rose Hips to strengthen the hoof structures. For protecting a horse’s legs, there are an assortment of sports boots and “bell” boots and large shipping boots to cushion any blows that might occur while riding or trailering or when turned out for a run.

And for any of us who receive a bruising blow or injury, the first step is to apply ice; second step is to protect the area from further damage; third step is to provide systemic healing through herbs, Homeopathics and essences that support the body’s healing rather than masking the symptoms.

A Dear friend from India saw me receive a violent bite from a mare that crushed tendons in my arm! He told me that his Mum always made them a cup of hot milk with turmeric for injuries. I made one for myself every day for several days. It helped!

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Don’t Panic

Sometimes waiting is the best of answers. Moderation is the wisest way.

As I wrestled, lately, with thoughts of letting my precious Majic go – the horse who came here with me and started this incarnation of Dharmahorse with me – I felt such despair and sadness. He has helped hundreds of people through the years… helped them learn to ride; helped them overcome fears; helped them feel safe; listened to them and made them laugh…

majic

Majic has been dealing with his mechanical founder for a few years now. He has had great years where he could give rides and gallop in the turn out with Lung Ta. He has had bad times when his metabolism, the weather and the hooves have all seemed to conspire against him. But, he never stops eating; he never stops “smiling”.

The past couple of weeks have been a struggle for him – in cold weather, to boot. We had put down pea gravel for the other foundered rescue (it is really helping her – a 30 year old mare who was a victim of horse tripping). I thought I was being wise when I put Majic in with her (Damaru) and at first the gravel seemed comfortable for him. Then, he lost his footing getting up from a nap as it made him slide and he fell backwards onto his bum, wrenching his muscles.

Back in his old pen with his stall full of shavings, he needed assistance to get up each time from a lie down. To do that, I had to lift him with a longe line around his hind end. Soon, I was in trouble, wrenching the neck and back muscles I had hurt four years ago from lifting my Mum when I cared for her in her last years.

Suddenly, as if he knew I was in trouble, Majic started getting up on his own! His strength is slowly returning… I ordered the Cetyl M supplement that healed my 18 year old dog of hip and back injuries (she lived, mobile, till 21) in the equine formula and can’t wait for its arrival. I am glad I didn’t give up. I am glad I didn’t panic.

A year ago, our precious “Vega” ( a retired Eventer who will be 40 years old next year) was injured when a young hoof trimmer brutalized him for trying to pull a hind hoof away. This brutality consisted of lifting his leg high enough to break ancient bones while fighting with and yelling at him (the most mannered horse I’ve ever known!). Elderly Vega was being trimmed too short and just couldn’t bear it – I yelled “STOP!” but was too late to prevent the damage – by now, I feel sure no bones broke – but we thought for almost 3 months that he wouldn’t survive. Vega was in constant pain, limping on all 4 hooves. We put 4 hoof boots with pads on him. He got pain killers, herbs and homeopathics daily. I cried every night.

6

His body was and is strong from a lifetime of being an athlete – thank goodness. He recovered, pretty much. One hip (the one that was brutalized) still gives him some trouble… and I will never forgive myself for allowing it to happen – but Vega forgives me. And I did not panic while he was healing… I took it one day at a time. So did Vega.

So now, when Vega gallops full tilt in his pen (like tonight as Mark is mixing his chopped hay to soak), I thank all the forces in the Universe for his recovery.

I won’t let the young man touch any of our horses again. And I have come to believe that many barefoot trimming practices just take too much hoof… in an attempt to make hooves “look” a certain way, how the horse feels can be forgotten. A horse should feel better after his hooves are trimmed, not worse. Majic’s founder, way back, was the result of being trimmed WAY too short… and I will forever blame myself for that, too; for allowing it to happen.

And, I’m not criticizing anyone or anything tonight. No one is perfect and we all learn from mistakes and miscalculations. I learn stuff every day! And, if I take a deep breath; consult my “gut”; refuse to panic; remember past foibles; follow my heart and use what I have in my “tool kit” for horse care and self care… I can sleep at night and rise each morning ready to do whatever needs to be done. And, as a Buddhist, follow the “Middle Way”, all things in moderation…

Life is good. No panic needed.

 

Categories: healing, Life, Saving Horses | Tags: , | 2 Comments

The Well of Experiences

Our lives – and those of our horses are filled with experiences. You can think of these as drops like water that fill a “well”. Of a positive or negative nature; these “drops” determine what we expect from current circumstances and experiences!

My beautiful picture

Become Trustworthy
This is the main way in which we can support the trust of our horses. We must be the source of positive experiences in their lives and through repetition and building of the confident, pleasant encounters – we actually “crowd out” the negative memories in time.

This is a Natural Path of simple, mutual respect that brings Harmony to our relationship with Horses.

If your horse has mostly negative experiences in his “Well”, with every new experience he faces, his expectation will be something negative! Only by patiently and consistently adding positive “drops”/experiences, can you overcome the initial response of fear, anger or apprehension that is generated by negativity.

And a being whose experiences have been mostly positive will be open and often eager to face a new experience.

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Energy beyond aggression

In all of our relationships, the light of integrity is held by Compassion. If we consider something other than our own motives and agendas, we can open to living a real life outside of the world of illusion. With animals, we will establish communication instead of domination. With loved ones, we will share our very souls. With humanity, we will become beacons of reason and unconditional love. We will shift ourselves and those who resonate with Nature to a higher kind of love and life where the demoralizing of others is simply not accepted. ~ Katharine Chrisley Schreiber
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