Or… How to catch a cat.
If you stay in the world of horses long enough-and I qualify for that at well over 50+ years now-you are going to face the death of a horse. I do not care how much you try to avoid it-you can only own horses that are young and in good health, sell them when they reach a certain age, just flat out deny the fact that this might happen, or whatever you want to do, but it will happen. Sooner or later, it will catch up to you. I’ve had it happen several times.
I won’t lie-you do not ever get ‘used to it.’ If anybody ever tells you that, slap them for me. It’s a bald-faced lie. Make it a really hard one, too. People saying crap like that to other people is just hurtful and unproductive. It hurts like hell. Some people are just better coping with it than others-and then, too, you cope better with the loss of some horses better than others. It’s a sliding scale for both and there are no ‘normals’. Don’t allow anybody to tell you that there are. Grieving is grieving.
Now there are ABNORMALS-that’s when you get stuck in an emotional place and can’t move out of it. That’s a problem and that needs working on. BTDT.
So why am I writing this now? It happened again. For me, it was the way it happened.
Dolly was a mare I’d gotten as a 14 month old bag of bones filly. She had been in a pen with an older horse that had been pushing her off the feed. (I’m not going there, so don’t even start.) She had not been handled much-which was fine with me. Her dam had died prior to being DNA typed so she wasn’t registered although she was a purebred TWH. Sire was 16-3, dam 16-0, but Dolly never made it to 14-2. But she had the stride to make up for it, by golly. That horse could walk a hole in the ground.
Took her over to a friend’s house to board for a couple of years-just let her grow up. Huge mistake. Boyfriend of the daughter took it into his head that she needed to wear a halter-so he penned her up in the barn. Somehow he managed to get his hands on her and ‘ear’ her down by her left ear. (This involves twisting the ear until the horse submits from the pain. ) It took me 2.5 YEARS to undo the damage he did to my mare. I told the friend about it and told her I’d better not ever see him again if he wanted to stay above ground.
Dolly turned out to be an odd one all the way around. She never really fit into the herd-always somewhere to the outside. Just the loner type. She was unusual to train, too. She would move out on the ground, but never move faster than a walk under saddle. It was just different with her.
As a mom, she was pretty good. She lost her first baby-fescue poisoning I think, but that made the second one more traumatic for her. She was frantic every time the foal laid down. I finally had to get out the essential oils and tie her up so the baby could sleep. She apparently thought it was going to die. After that, she took good care of the baby-but she made sure that I was part of the process. As a result, her two fillies are convinced that I’m just as much their mom as she ever was.
So the morning several weeks ago, when I looked out and saw buzzards having a party close to the house, it didn’t dawn on me that it could be my 22 year old mare. But it was. I’ll never know what happened. All I know is that she came up to try to get help-and we failed her.
Now that really hurts.
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That’s Nikolai-he’s a Tarpan/Heck horse-or what I like to call an autistic short eared mule. Tarpans are a lot like mules-they’re going to do what they’re going to do-and there’s just not a whole heck of a lot you’re going to do to persuade them otherwise. You know the old saying-you can tell a gelding, you can ask a stallion, but you will have to discuss it with a mare? Well, with mules and Tarpans, they want to see your resume, GPA, and at least 5 references. Don’t laugh-I’m not kidding.
Back to the subject at hand-gravity. One of the more disgusting facts about accummalating more calendars than I would like to admit to is the fact that gravity seems to be increasing in strength. Any person over the age of 45 can probably verify this. When you bend over to pick up anything, it becomes harder and harder to stand back up.
It also is harder to pick up those feed bags, bales of hay, and saddles and throw them around the barn like we used to do. The body feels the same, but doggone it, those things just weigh more these days. I don’t care what the labels say.
Have you had to get down on the floor lately – or worse, had a horse put you down there? Yep-you can really feel that magnetic core of the earth’s core pulling at you now, can’t you? Never used to feel 30 years ago, but now-geez that thing is really turned up high.
Nope-not looking forward to old age at all. This middle age stuff ain’t for sissies and I hear old age is worse. If the cure wasn’t so bad……oh, well.
These are the flags of not one but TWO causes that lost BIGLY.
I’m not talking itty, bitty fist fights, but major wars that cost 100’s of thousands of lives in the first and MILLIONS of lives in the second. We are NOT talking ‘heritage’ either, people. That is a freaking red herring. There never WAS a heritage-except in books like Gone With The Wind-which was FICTIONAL. Oh, there was also Uncle Tom’s Cabin-and we were carefully taught that the villian in that piece came from New England so he ‘really wasn’t a Southerner any way’. The implication being that no Southerner plantation owner would EVER treat their slaves so poorly. The hell you say.
There never was that many plantations in the south. People have the idea that they were all over the place. No they weren’t. Very few could AFFORD to have them. Don’t believe me-go do some research. Maybe 45 in Georgia. Maybe 15-20 in Alabama. The rest of the farming was done by sharecroppers and families-like my great grandfather 5 generations back. They didn’t own slaves-didn’t want to. Picked their own cotton and hauled it to the gin themselves.
Patriarchal societies have-throughout history-done two things really well-go to war because it stimulates their economy mostly in some respect, and beat the living hell out of women and children-always their own, but they’ll pick on the captives from the other side, too, if they can. Lord knows, the Bible is full of it. Abraham took Hagar, the slave girl of Sarah and had a son by her-and the Jews and the Arabs have been fighting ever since. Moses was hidden in the bullrushes by his mama (a slave) and found and adopted by the king’s daughter. When the Israelites starting leaving Egypt, the Egyptians woke up and realized “hey, all the slaves are leaving us!” and went after them. That’s the reason for the drowning of Pharoah’s army in the Red Sea. Slaves running away from their owners.
Jews had their own slaves. Just keep reading-all of the Old Testament is just chock full of this stuff.
Why am I bringing it up? Because back in the early days of this country, that was used to JUSTIFY the owning of black people as slaves in this country-mostly in the southern states. If you ever saw the musical 1776, the song ‘Molasses to Rum to Slaves’ is all about how the traders ran the ships from the sugar cane fields of the Carribean to New England to Africa with those cargoes.
Nowadays-the same backwards mindset still exists-primarily because people have never taken the time to learn that people with darker skins are just people with darker skins. There are some cultural differences, but there are those between white folks, too. I don’t eat lox and bagels for breakfast-but lots of people in New York City think that’s pretty tasty. They can’t see what I see in grits.
There is absolutely NOTHING that makes anybody’s skin color inherently superior racially to anybody else’s. Or more inferior, for that matter. It’s the way you BEHAVE towards your fellow human beings that determines that-and, for the record, the way those people behaved this weekend in Charlottesville, VA put them on the level of earthworms. Fish bait. Terrorizing people just for the hell of it is unacceptable at every level. Trying to blame their behavior on other people is childish. Driving a car into a crowd? That, folks, is pre-meditated murder and attempted murder with malice. That is a hate crime. Second degree murder my fat fanny.
Wanting law enforcement to treat you and your family like human beings is a reasonable thing. If I were black, I would be fighting mad about it. It is unjust. For the record, I have had sheriff deputies try deliberately to intimidate me-and, quite frankly, it got every bit of my Scottish heritage working overtime. I was furious. So, yes, I can easily see the why and how these black folks come at cops yelling, screaming, and trying to fight with them. I didn’t, but that incident was a real eyeopener.
Don’t push people like that. You’re asking for that response-and you’re going to get it.
In my mind, these people in charge of our government need to repudiate all connections to the Klan, white nationalists, white supremacists, and Alt-Right groups loudly, strongly, and as a united front. That includes the Executive, Congress, and Supreme Court. These Nazis and fascists must be told that their campaign of fear, violence, and terrorism will not be tolerated, their racial and sexual bigotry is unwelcome, and that we will fight them with law and guns if need be. But they cannot have our country-EVER.
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I’ve ridden, trained, bred, and competed in the horse world for over 50 years now. I learned the same thing that just about everyone does:
- that you need the right bit to stop and control your horse.
- you kick to make the horse go.
- Spurs are to make them run faster (or spin harder or whatever)
- Whips are for punishment.
Every bit of it is wrong. Yep, WRONG.
Took me a long time to learn that, but I finally did. Here’s the truth:
- Your seat stops your horse–you don’t even need a bridle or reins.
- Your weight and legs direct your horse-bits and reins really are superfluous.
- Likewise, the way you use your seat and legs can be the throttle that increases or decreases speed, increases or decreases relaxation or collection.
- Spurs and whips should be used for signaling only. There are very few instances when punishment is warranted. Why? Because 99% of the time, YOU are the one who missed the signals the horse was giving and was trying to tell you something was off. YOU are the screw up. So if you just want to beat the crap out of somebody, go take yourself out behind the barn.
Now then–about that waiting on your horse stuff.
Let the horse tell you when they are ready for the next step of doing anything. Break everything down into SMALL steps. For example, I have a trailer with a ramp. So to get one to load onto that trailer, I start with just asking one to pass by me and walk ACROSS THE RAMP. Then maybe I’ll feed them with the feed way up high on it so they have to reach for it-maybe even putting a foot on the ramp to get to it. No pressure-just if you want, go after it. Then maybe I’ll load a pasture mate and feed them inside. Then I ask the newbie to just approach-they don’t have to load, just approach. I’ll let them stand-think about it-back up, then we’ll work for awhile. Repeat. After awhile, they start getting the idea “hey, if I approach the trailer, I get to stand and rest, but if I’m out here, I’m out running around”.
Usually takes about two hours to get one on for the first time. Let them eat, then back off and put them up. Let it soak. Don’t force it. Let the horse ask for another try at it. Let them get comfortable in there. Just grab a cold one and sit in the shade.
How do I know this works? I used this on my CTR horse. That horse would load any time any where-and what’s more, he’d stand in that trailer until I asked him to come off. One time I dropped both the ramp and the butt bar, but got called away before I unloaded him. He was still waiting for me 45 minutes later. He was not tied, but just waiting on me.
Don’t rush your horse.
Hold steady to the calm and peacefully persist.
Watch a mixed group of horses-mares, foals, and, preferably, stallions. Just watch them. Don’t interfere and stay well back.
The myth says that there’s a stallion and he runs the show. The mares do his bidding and he determines where they go and so on. The myth also says that once a stallion gets a herd of his own, it is his for the rest of his life.
Somebody lied to you. And sucker that you are to the mystique of the big bad stallion, you bought in-hook, line, and sinker. It’s not true-not a word of it.
A MARE leads the band-she’s the wise one-and she’ll tell the stallions which mare to breed and when, where the band will graze, when they will go to water, and where safety lies. If said stallion sufficiently gets into her bad side, she’ll run him off and find a new one. By the same token, if some young brat comes up and picks on her favorite, she’ll go deliver a few good kicks herself. But SHE runs things-and you know what they say about if Mama ain’t happy?!
The crazy thing is-the bands are not carved in stone. They’ll mix and mingle-then split apart again with different individuals added and subtracted. The young stallions generally are pushed to outside and will band together as young males of all species will do to tussle and rough house. In essence, they’re told to go grow up some more. The fillies are in with the older mares to learn the ways of the herd.
Unlike humans, it is the mares who determine the success of the bands-not the stallions. The stallions may bluster and bully, but they do not control the fate of anything. Now I know you may see the ‘stealing’ of a mare or the ‘snake neck’ driving postures of a stallion, but believe me, if the mares didn’t want to go, they wouldn’t. If you don’t believe me, watch the video on YouTube of the mare defending herself and her newborn against 5 or 6 young stallions. She says ‘no thanks’ and enforces it. The boys come away with nothing.
Contrast this to human cultures. Where women are either in control or at least equal in value to men, the society is peaceful both inside and in its relationships externally. Historically, this has always been true. During the reigns of Queen Elizabeth of England, Queen Isabella of Portugal, and Queen Cleopatra of Eqypt to name but three, their countries flourished, exploration was encouraged, and alliances of all kinds were made. Their vision and courage to seek change and challenge the norms of the day were in direct contrast to the advice of their male advisors. Like the mares, they chose the males in their circles and would drive out the ones who displeased them. They were also unafraid to pitch the males against one another-much like the stallion bands.
A little estrogen in leadership is not a bad thing.
Another observation is that, as most of us willingly admit, women supply most of the organization, planning, labor, communications, supply, and execution of 96% of anything real done in any committee, group, church, non-profit, company, corporation, or government agency anywhere. We simply have been trained not to take the credit for our work-the men usurp that from us. It is high time that stopped. If you don’t do the work, you shouldn’t get the credit. It really is that simple. Perhaps we human mares need to learn to do a few double barrelled hind leg kicks-or at least the threat of them-to teach some of these “p***** grabbing’ men a little respect. Possession of a large credit limit should have nothing what so ever to do with respect for a female’s person. (I’ve never seen a mare yet that inquired about a stallion’s pedigree or barn of residence. I have seen them require being treated with extreme care and deference-to the point that we have joked that one wanted diamonds, champagne, caviar, and a Rolls limo before she would give in!)