Saturday, October 22, 2011

Eventful week

It seems like a lot of little things have happened this week.  First, on Sunday evening when I was on barn duty, I managed to let Lilo and Kira loose.  Normally the horses come inside through an "alley" which has been built using the fencing material. The barn owner had been fixing a part of that fence and hadn't thought to hook it back up, thinking I would take the horses in the other way by leading them by their halters.  I didn't.  Oops.  They took a D-tour into the neighboring yard.  Luckily nobody lives in the house anymore, because the lawn sort of got attacked by four pairs of hooves.  There was so much grass that Kira and Lilo thought they had died and gone to heaven.  Needless to say, catching them was a bit challenging.  Kira wouldn't let me anywhere near her and when I managed to get the lead rope around Little Love's neck, Kira threw such a fit that it freaked Lilo out and she ran off, too.  I tried catching them with a grain bucket, but they weren't going to fall for that old trick.  Finally I just walked away, as my presence made Kira so nervous that she started towards the nearby field Lilo in tow.  Great, I could just see them running off to the bigger pasture.  So I backed off for a moment.

It was starting to get dark and I figured the horses would come in, eventually, since Kira is really afraid of the dark.  After ten minutes of waiting, I decided to try to catch Lilo one more time.  I grabbed the large tarp bag we use for feeding the horses lunch in the paddock, thinking perhaps they had been conditioned enough to it to let me close.  It worked.  As soon as Lilo saw the red bag, she walked over to me, looking for food.  I wrapped the lead rope around her neck and started walking her back to the barn.  Kira ran around anxiously, bucking and hopping and rearing.  I asked Lilo to please not get rattled up about Kira's antics, and this time she didn't.   Soon both horses were in their stalls.  Phew.

Then I took Lilo out and hosed her legs off.  The mud was quite thick, but it didn't take me long to realize she had a cut on her right hind.  It was just a superficial wound, but the skin was hanging off to the side and it was bloody, nevertheless.  Since the paddocks are really muddy, I knew I'd have to be extra diligent with cleaning this one up, or else we would end up with a massive infection on the leg.  Little Love seems to be susceptible to those darn infections. 

The next morning the leg was swollen from hock to hoof.  Wonderful.  The swelling did go down with exercise, but I knew I would have to return to the barn in the evening to clean up the cut for the night.  I could have asked Manta's owner to do it as she was in charge of evening barn duty, but she seems a bit intimidated by Little Love.  And I also know that Little Love has a problem with "strange" people handling her injuries.  She lets me do it fairly well and has also allowed Melissa to do it, but last time she had an injury, she didn't even let the barn owner into her stall to pick her hooves.  So, the next three days I drove to the barn morning and evening to take care of the leg.  All that extra driving paid off, though, since by Thursday morning we were back to normal.  Anything to avoid giving Little Love antibiotics. 

The other thing I have had to worry about this week are Little Love's hooves.  Since she has not been gaining weight, I have been searching high and low for feed to give her.  I found a feed called Lusern, which is hacked up Alfalfa, something I thought I would never find in Finland.  I bought a bag and started feeding it to Little Love last weekend.  By Monday she started to really be sore on her feet.  I really didn't think it was the Lusern, since it doesn't have that much sugar in it, but I stopped giving it anyway, just to see.  It took Little Love a few days to recover, which made me think that perhaps the hay she had had was extra sugary (it was analyzed, but bails vary even in the same batch).  Also, I knew that the soft and mushy pasture wasn't doing much for her hoof mechanism.  So Melissa and I walked Little Love vigorously, even on days when Lilo didn't really want to walk.  She is doing much better on her feet again. For fattening her up I am now giving her oil twice a day and actually found a place that sells rice bran.  I'm still hoping to carefully bring in the Lusern alfalfa feed, but will have to keep a close eye on how Lilo reacts.  She sure loves the taste of it!

Also, we have a new horse joining out little group!  The horse is called Vicky and she is arriving next Wednesday.  The owner just recently took Vicky's shoes off, so she is definitely going through a transition.  She is also coming to our barn from a fairly awful situation; she is at a barn where the horses are kept outside 24/7 without any shelter.  This would be alright in the summer, but at the moment we are going through some major storms with lots of rain and wind.  This means Vicky is standing knee deep in mud and hasn't been able to lay down to rest for weeks, or be dry.  And not only that, the people working at this "barn" handle the horses very forcefully.  Within just weeks Vicky has turned into a sullen and angry little horse and the owner has frantically looked for a solution to get her horse out of this toxic environment.

I have been talking to Little Love about Vicky, because if all goes well, they will become paddock buddies.  Although when Vicky arrives, she will be very tired and must be given enough time to recover.  But, when the time is right, we will be putting the two horses outside together.  In the meanwhile Little Love is in the paddock by herself, as Manta and Kira have been reunited.  Little Love doesn't seem to mind this arrangement, although she is not so happy about the mud in the paddock.  Today she ran to the gate when she saw me!  Anything to get out of the wetness.  But, it is better that she is outside rather than standing in a stall all day.  I'm hoping for an early winter.  :-)

And one more thing... My friend Marjo (pronounced Mahr-yo) who visited Little Love and me a while back with her young daughter, came to visit again yesterday, this time alone.  She used to ride when she was a child (in fact, I'm the one who got her into it in the first place), but then had a very long break.  Now that her daughter is riding twice a week and really involved in pony club, Marjo has also been feeling the need to reconnect with horses.  She took a few riding lessons at a barn close to her house, but said it didn't feel right, that all she really wanted to was to hang out with the horses and "feel" them, instead of riding around in a circle on top of them.  That sounded like something right up Little Love's alley so I invited her over.

After hanging out with Marjo on Friday and going for a long walk with some grazing, I talked with Little Love about adding Marjo to her "buddy list".  Little Love welcomed the idea and this afternoon Marjo went to the barn on her own, to see if Little Love would want to spend some time with her.  I had told her that she should really just see what Lilo suggested and go from there.  Marjo agreed to accept the horse's choice, whatever it was.  But I had a good feeling about this one and knew how desperately Marjo just needed some "horse zen".  And apparently so did Little Love!  When she saw Marjo, she came to gate immediately and let her put on the halter.   They spent some time together grooming, washing the legs and walking to the pasture closest to the barn.  All went well and Marjo was floating on cloud nine when she called me afterwards.  She said she hadn't felt such peace for a very, very long time.  She said "I must be crazy, but even cleaning the barn aisle with the broom was so much fun, not to mention just hanging out in a field with a horse!".   I told her she could visit Lilo any time, whenever her schedule as a working mom with three kids and a puppy would allow it (I know, talk about a lot on your plate!).  I am so proud of my beautiful mare who is willing to share her zen magic with others who need it.     



  1. Wow, I think you could be at the barn full time and still have plenty of topics to write about! I'm looking forward to reading about Lilo's new friend, Marjo. I LOVE it when I hear that someone (most often people who have come from "traditional" riding backgrounds...) just wants to "be" with horses, has no agenda, is happy to experience the zen of entering the horse world as an observer, a student. Lilo is a patient teacher. I really think Lilo knows when someone has a pure intention to just be with her and not do to her.

  2. I think you are right, Shelby, about Lilo knowing when someone has the pure intention to just be with her and listen to her. I could FEEL she understood this about Marjo on Friday, and that's why I felt so comfortable letting Marjo visit on her own, I knew Lilo would guide her to the correct path. I also feel that Little Love wants to teach people more about what it really is like to be with a horse. Already years ago, when Lilo's own situation was different and she was struggling with her life with humans, I sensed this teacher quality in her. When I came along, she literally JUMPED at the opportunity to teach me, especially when she realized by "student potential" :-)

  3. Yes, this has happened to me so many times in my healing capacity. The horse may be guarded, even fearful, but when given the opportunity to choose ( I know I keep using that word but it is so important!), their curiosity and natural benevolence asserts itself. We have a horse (you know her as Destiny, K) that was rescued literally from slaughter, her owner and trainers deemed her dangerous (she was) and a lost cause (she wasn't). With time, patience, and choice (no agenda, often times just sitting with her), Destiny has come forth to be much like Lilo, in that she is the lead mare, the most gentle, kind, and patient teacher we have. We affectionately call her Mother Earth because she's like this mature, wise mamma horse who has all the answers!
    It's like Little Love has been around for centuries, waiting for the student to come to her so she can give her gift!

  4. I'm glad I'm not the only klutz in the world who manages to let the horses loose by accident.