How momma’s changed

This is not meant to berate or belittle my mother, I have loved her dearly all my life, but the woman I have loved has changed over the years.

My mother was the quintessential 60’s house wife. My dad had a busy, important job with the airlines and she was supposed to be a top cook, hostess, housekeeper and mother. I cannot imagine doing all she did. Perhaps because she had so little control over so much of her life, she was a little obsessive about her food and meals. If you went out to a meal with my mother between say 1961 through 2012, you were in for an event. She would not like where she was seated. Too cold, too drafty, too something, you were probably going to be asked to change seats with her. Before anyone could order, she had to know what they planned to eat. And no matter what she ordered, whatever you ordered would be what she wanted.

After all the food came, something would not be cooked to my mother’s specifications. While we waited with our food, hers was returned to the kitchen. I remember one trip to Hawaii where each morning her eggs would go back to the kitchen as not done enough. On vacation day four, my father had it! He took the boiled egg to the head waiter. He told them to go cook it like a hockey puck! That worked!

The second issue that has played into almost every family event since Amber’s birth over 30 years ago, was that my mother had a bad stomach. Schedule a christening, a big night out, Christmas dinner with friends and mom would be in her room vomiting with what we dubbed ” special occasion flu”. I will never understand it.

Forget Mexican, Italian, Indian or any spicy food, mom could not manage it. The amount of antacids, stomach drugs, and medical care were astounding. And rarely was there a night when more than just milk and crackers were all she could manage. One Christmas Eve, I found her vomiting in bathroom. I thought it was the latest special occasion flu. Except there was blood everywhere. I thought she would die on Christmas Eve. She had a bleeding ulcers that let her spend the holidays getting blood transfusions.

So what’s my point? Today as a treat I took a McDonalds milk shake to her. Since she has moved into the center, she has not been sick to her stomach once. Not one Tums has made it’s way down her throat. She excitedly tried to decide if she wanted a tuna or ham sandwich, neither of which she would have eaten before. Like ever!

It is nice to see her happy to try most anything and be excited about it as well. I have relatives that would not recognize my mom eating what she is now. I guess this is a HUGE plus to her life with dementia. It has effected her personality making her calmer, gentler and accepting. While I miss so many things about my old mom, the one that would have remembered my sister and dad. I am thrilled with this little lady that told me just today that her cranberry juice was the best thing ever, well maybe. That Quaker Oats cereal bar was outstanding as well.

You have taken so much from dear momma, Mr. Dementia, but I am grateful her stomach doesn’t churn with anxiety related issues. Not a sign of her old ulcers. I am happy that in a small town, she finds the food outstanding. I will take this little piece of happiness in the midst of the darkness.

Thanks for riding along! Bruno with his face full of stitches is feeling better. Mick walked across the paddock on a hoof that was still sensitive but way better. Even the tiny kitty is seemingly, finally on the mend. Pixie is off to Pine Hill to be looked at tomorrow. I hope they love her like we do (and she leaves in their trailer as their new horse). Please continue to keep us in your prayers.

momma showing off her new shoes and drinking a Boost (says it is the best drink ever!)


Shot to the head-a Bruno Story

A phone call from Lauren is often a bad thing. We have recently had more than our share of vet expenses and I am not including any of the money we spent on OTTB Bruno at Texas A&M. Lauren was babysitting Kendyll and wandered out to barn to let her see the horses. Instead she saw blood, and then more blood. She found Bruno with blood streaming down his face.

Upon conversation with one another, we decided with the amount of blood, exposed bone and Bruno recent reluctance to load in the trailer, we would call the vet out to our place. I started my race home.
20131028-184313.jpgthe shatterproof glass casing-I think Bruno hit it from the bottom with great force. 


Best we can figure, because Mickey is not testifying based upon advice from his lawyer, Snow B. Go, esq., is that while the boys were confined to their adjoining paddocks (due existing injuries) they started playing a horse sized game of Red Rover. I believe Mickey tried to crossover the fence line to Bruno’s side when Bru reared to stop him. The ceiling is only about 14 feet high. I specifically ordered shatterproof globes for my barn lights. Well, the fixture was in fact shatterproof, but Bruno must have hit the light fixture straight on like a giant jack hammer. The bulb inside the globe shattered as did Bruno’s face.

By the time Lauren got outside (it had been about two hours since she had been out to check on them) it looked like the worst of a gory movie site. She was notably distressed as we discussed alternatives. I called the vet. He said he was on his way. When the vet arrived, he had not seen Bruno yet. When he did, he remarked, “Holy crap!! That is bad!”

By the time I got home, Dr. Poehler was finishing his well designed twelve stitches in a upside down rainbow shape between Bruno’s eyes. He was cleaned up as well as was possible. Dr. Poehler was not convinced that Bruno’s bone was not broken but there was not much that could be done about it.

Bet ol’Bruno is nursing one hell of a headache! I wonder how long this will set us back? Thank you for the outpouring of well wishes from so many of you. As always thanks for riding along!


what’s left of the light fixture (the glass cover is perfectly fine)



Above is a drawing rendition of Kona that I commissioned from a talented artist in Georgia. Like many breeds, poodles come in the color blue. It is deep navy, blue-ish almost black color. Dobermans and Aussies may have blue coats. To the untrained eye, Kona looks black, although after a summer in the sun, he has brassy, bleached tips on his hair, kind of like a Hawaiian surfer.

I realize getting a picture done of my dog is a little self-indulgent. But I saw (and bought) a picture that Amber the artist did of a poodle and I knew I wanted one of Kona done. It is so awesome! I could not be more thrilled. It is not finished yet but know it will so wonderful.

I bought Kona on my birthday. He has been so great as a companion to me, walking each night, staying by my side as I take the horses from pasture to pasture. We have perfected the trail ride with horse and dog. Another great thing is that if Lauren wants him to or not, he will climb up and through the dog gate to join her at the barn. Although, some may dismiss him as just a poodle, he is big enough to provide protection to her as she is alone on the property.

My friend Kathy makes fun of all the pictures I take (always looking for the next blog subject). Somehow no matter what my plans are, Kona manages to get in the picture. You can go back through my FB or blog pictures and find Kona in many of them. It is kind of like the old “Where’s Waldo?” game.

I love all my pets, horses equally, but clearly Kona is a special guy. It would be hard to imagine my world without him. If you ask Lauren who her favorite dog is, despite her deep love of Yorkie, PuppyGirl and her corgi, Sneaky, her answer is the poodle.

Lauren on Pixie with Kona right by her side

I take him along to most horse shows. He stands in the viewing area with his eyes darting around focused on the horses, clearly watching, moving and turning his head so he can catch each turn. I have six other dogs but a lot is perfect for me with Kona.

I can’t wait to get my drawing! Next, will be a drawing of Feather. That should be amazing too! Amber the artist specializes in dogs and horses. What a great holiday gift. Contact her via Facebook if you are interested.

Kona caring for Kendyll

Guest Blog-Ruby Moments

I am cross-posting a blog from a rancher wife and mother from SW Idaho. This is a recollection of her memory of a childhood event and initially she is writing from the perspective of that child. Made me think of my dad, my daughters and my grandchildren and the love I have felt for them all. Thank you Rachel for allowing me to cross post. If you have not read her “25 Things I want my Ranch Kids to Know” you should! You can find on her blog as well.

Be sure to leave Rachel a comment if you enjoy her work!

Vet/Farrier/Doctor Updates

Sneaky is 100% well, has nothing to do with tonight's story but is very cute!

Sneaky is 100% well, has nothing to do with tonight’s story but is very cute!

Sometimes, it is frustrating as I have been around the human medical profession and the animal medical world enough to know what things are but not always how to fix them.

A week ago, I was leading Snow and Pixie to the back pasture with the incentive of fresh alfalfa hay so that we could let Bruno out in the front pasture.  Snow and Pixie are vying for their pecking order in the herd behind Mickey and Feather.  I really think Pixie is winning-which is weird that Snow is being submissive to the younger pony but then she is a girl and you know how boys can be led astray by cute girls.

ANYWAY, I am holding the hay and trying to watch both sides of me (Snow on one, Pix on the other) when Snow swoops in for a big bite of alfalfa.  Well, he got my arm instead.  Horses have large, strong jaws and Snow clamped down on my arm.  He bit me deeply, breaking the skin and causing a lot of bleeding and pain.

I knew a visit to the doctor was a good idea. I did not think the bone was broken. But emotionally, physically and intellectually I could not face an emergency room visit.  I have tried to keep it clean, soak it, use antibiotic cream but it has continued to be red, bruised and hurt.    Today I saw the doctor.  I should have had a couple of stitches.  Nothing is broken but it is infected.  There is a lot deep tissue bruising and it will hurt awhile.  Money well spent to confirm what I knew.  Huh!

The slow parade of Mickey, Pixie and tiny kitten Levi went off to the farrier and vet this morning.  Mickey has an abscess (which is what I have been saying for ten days) But now it is confirmed by the vet.  Jason, the farrier, was able to open it  and the abscess started draining immediately.  Fortunately, it is on the bottom of his hoof so it should heal well.  More antibiotics and some hoof soaks for Mick and he should be good as new in a couple of weeks.

Pixie had her feet trimmed and was just happy to get home.  Lauren did comment that it was great to have horses like Pix and Mick who loaded easily (no angst) and stood quietly in the trailer while waiting for the vet to open.  Who would have guessed we would ever be complimenting Mickey’s manners!!  Especially about loading into the trailer.  Things change, for sure.

The kitten does not have any more worms, does not have feline leukemia or AIDs (thank God!).  However, we do not know what is causing the constant, debilitating diarreha.   We are trying some meds for giardia (a stomach parasite-I have had it before and it is no fun) but if he does not get better in a few days there is little left to try for the darling kitten I rescued off the street three weeks ago.  I cannot responsibly spend any more money on this cat, nor continue to subject a kitten to being so sick all time.  I pray this medication does the trick and his little life is turned around.

Lauren headed up to Houston after school (and horse/cat pick up) to a foot specialist.  She has been having miserable heel pain.  I diagnosed plantar fasciitis.  And the high paid foot specialist said, wait for it, plantar fasciitis!  It is an inflammation of the thick tissue that connects the heel to the toes.  It is very painful.  Lauren hates needles.  The doctor told her she needed her foot injected.  She threatened to vomit on the doctor.  He told her to look at the ceiling.  Then the “giant” (Lauren’s word) needle went in her foot by her ankle.  The doctor told her not to kick him in the face.    Then he told her she had evidence of early on-set osteoporosis.  More good news.

I am not at all gratified about being right with all my diagnoses.

Here’s a prayer to all getting well and healing quickly!  Thanks for riding along.

Hump day night

Before you ask, her helmet is in the same place her bridle, saddle and boots are.

Before you ask, her helmet is in the same place her bridle, saddle and boots are.

Another fun evening at the farm.  We had gotten the trailer hooked up so that still lame Mickey can get to the vet and farrier tomorrow.  Mickey twisted his shoe off in the mud, pulling the nails through his hoof.  Lauren, unsuccessfully it turns out, tried to pull the nails free from the hoof.

That was ten days ago.  X-rays confirm part of the nail is broken off inside his hoof.  We have tried to get the hoof to blow the abscess on its own with soaking, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and time.  But Mick is not getting better.  Tomorrow farrier Jason will try to cut the nail out while being guided by the x-ray images.  That should be pricey. I am just hoping they can get him back to walking.

The  trailer is pulled up right next to the gate.

The trailer is pulled up right next to the gate.

The trailer is pulled as close to the barn as possible but Mickey can barely walk so it might still be too far.  Pony Pixie will go along so she can get her feet trimmed as well. She missed the rotation with Roland when she was at Sarah’s.  Along also, will be kitten Esther (now known as Levi) as he has continued his stomach problems for almost two weeks and multiple treatments.  He is miserable with his constant diarrhea and we must find a solution for the little guy or put him down.

I guess to lighten the mood of lame horses and poopy cats, after Lauren dragged the arena with my VW Golf, I challenged Lauren that I would give her $100 if she could get on any of the horses bareback while they were turned out in their various paddocks.  (I know this is why we get hurt!-We play stupid games.)

First, she headed to the Boy of Snow (Snowboy, geez) thinking that was easy cash.  But I have a whole group of girls from Whipple Tree that would have told her that was a bad plan.   Lauren placed her hands on Snow’s back, prepared to vault on his back.  His ears flattened on his head, his hind end came up to buck and his head whipped around to bite her.  Snow was not having it.  Not one bit!

Next she approached Pixie.  Pixie has been pretty quiet since coming home but took her lead from Snow with another big NO!  Lauren couldn’t catch Feather who had just started on her nightly alfalfa.

Now, I would have been headed to Mickey’s stall.  He is locked in a stall.  He cannot walk.  How easy is that?  But no, Lauren headed for Bruno’s paddock.  Now remember, no helmet, no halter, nothing but naked horse and silly girl.  Lauren got out our little step stool and did some practice pushing on his back.  Bruno thought Dr. Criner had returned to do some chiropractic work.

I think we can rule out that Bruno ever has been ridden bareback.  It is just not part of most racetrack training programs and we had never tried it (nor will I ever try it!).  Lauren got the wobbly little step stool next to bru and launched herself high up onto his broad back.  She just didn’t quite make it over.

Good times!

But amazingly, Bruno stood quietly as Lauren maneuvered herself to a sitting position. I quietly crept in and got the little stool out of the way.  So many things were wrong with this game.  Any quick movement from Bruno and Lauren would be on the ground and perhaps flattened like a pancake. Or a bolt from Bru might have resulted in her decapitation with the low ceiling and hanging fans.  A fall from Bruno without a helmet could have resulted in a major head trauma.  I was pretty happy when Lauren slide down from Bruno no worse for wear.  She looked at me and said, “I am not getting the $100 am I?”   No, Lauren you’re not.


Flying High-a Feather story in pictures

Feather and Lauren making a pretty sharp team.

Feather and Lauren making a pretty sharp team.

Lauren is easily five feet off the ground here.

Lauren is easily five feet off the ground here.

The back of this horse may be the closest Lauren ever will come to flying without wings.

The back of this horse may be the closest Lauren ever will come to flying without wings.

If you were going to look for a jumping horse, as they call our horses here in Wharton, the pictures above would be a pretty good guide.  The horse’s knees, should be up to their chest, parallel and tight.  An honest horse takes the center of the jump and Feather is pretty close.

The horse should be using her body, the neck rounded, the shoulders strong and the hind quarter propelling the horse over the jump athletically.  The rider should be evenly balanced in the saddle, and not interfering with the horse. The top picture is a pretty good picture.  Lauren’s position could be slightly improved but anyone witnessing their rounds would know that Feather was jumping hard and landing hard.  Lauren was doing an admirable job of staying with the mare on the slam, bang assault of the jump course.

The second shot is good of Feather showing her natural jumping ability.  I think Lauren’s leg dropped back a tad here with the size of the jump (or at least as high as Feather is jumping).

The third picture shows Lauren in a better position.  Her leg is in a better place, with the stirrup sitting about even with where her little toe is ( I know this as I have x-ray vision).   Her leg is exactly where it should be, with her heel deep.  She is almost pulling off an advanced release where there is a straight line from her elbow to Feather’s mouth.  That is nice.

And finally, the horse and rider must be in harmony, moving as a unit through the various jumps on course with the horse sensing a change in direction, in pace, in stride almost as quickly as the rider thinks it.  Feather is growing in her ability to jump high, in her experience over different types of fences and in her communication with Lauren.

And you thought I was just going to show you some more horse pictures!  Lauren came in while I was writing this and said “who do you think you are?  George Morris?”  Oh, I wish, Lauren.  You would be a better rider then!

A Ghost of a Chance

Very weird image.  It looks like Laure does not fully exist.  Like she and Feather are merely ghosts.

Very weird image. It looks like Lauren does not fully exist. Like she and Feather are merely ghosts.

Once upon a time, when I was still healing from a broken pelvis and feeling like I would never be able to provide for my family again, Lauren and I went to a horse show at Serenity Acres.

Our friends, Dee and Melissa, had just bought a horse named Flagmount’s Sterling Prince.  When I saw him there in a stall I was immediately won over by the combination of his beautiful sterling silver coat and his huge size.  Then I watched him jump.  He flew over the courses.  I had heard rumors he had been purchased for less than five figures.  I still remember longing for a horse like Prince that could get for Lauren that a winning combination of looks, size and temperament.  One day, I promised myself, one day.

Almost two years ago, I saw a post on Facebook for the sale of Prince’s half-sister, Feather.  These same friends (that had owned Prince) owned four-year old Feather.  Like many of us, horse economics in our barns go up and down.  Sometimes you sell the best of what you have because, of course, that brings the best money.  I had heard Prince, who had gone on to be a top Eventing horse, had recently sold for over six figures.  Not sure if that was true or not, but I had always remembered my reaction to Prince and thought if I could buy his relative, then I would be lucky indeed.

I regret a few things in my life, but immediately telling Dee we would buy Feather, sight unseen from Florida, has never been one of them. Okay, maybe there was a short period of time when she was nutso crazy, scared of everything, unwilling to load in the trailer and wacky, that I did question it, but never too seriously.

We gave Feather the show name of Flagmount’s Irish Freedom and started dreaming.

Lauren took this horse from just broke to ride, and worked her long hours, schooled her, loved her and earned her trust.  From poles my dog Kona could have jumped to USEF Low Amateur division today, they plodded along.  Going slowly, earning their right to move, step by step, to each new height division.

Honestly, the horse who got off the trailer from Florida on a cold January night, filled with her own demons, really had little more than a ghost of a chance to succeed to the jumper rings in the USEF.

In the last six months, after the ground issues were dealt with, Feather started gaining skill, gaining confidence and showing some speed.  We signed up for her first USEF  rated show hoping to take it day by day.  Succeeding in one height division, then pushing on to the next.

Thursday started out at .75 of a meter (a meter is a little bigger than three feet). Lauren was second! Accurate, quick, jumping well and handling the big arena like she had been doing it for 20 years not just a handful of times.  Moving next to .85s, Feather and Lauren had the fastest time but got in badly to one jump and knocked down a rail.  Still they were fourth. Friday found them flying through the .90s and .95s, picking up still more ribbons and jumping well and clean.


As we faded into Saturday’s finale ( for us anyway) the only thing giving Feather pause was a big Liverpool jump.  A Liverpool jump appears like water under a jump.  Feather had never seen one, jumped one or thought about one.  As the pair jumped clean to move onto the jump off, Lauren knew the big Liverpool was waiting.  I saw Lauren gather Feather as they approached the jump.  Lauren urged her forward with her leg and spurs.  Feather got that “oh, my God, you have got to be kidding me” look on pretty face.  She did not want to jump but did.  She jumped it huge.  No water was touching her!  (Actually there was no water in the pool, just blue vinyl looking like water.)

Today we faced the water jump again.  Feather had thought about it over night and decided no water jump today.  Lauren got her only refusal to jump in the entire show with the water jump this morning.  Feather got reprimanded and returned to jump the Liverpool again.

There have been times when ribbons at “A” shows for us have been scarcer than a compromise at a government shut down, but this show Feather earned a ribbon in every round they rode;  a second, two-thirds, two fourths and an eighth.

I could not have been prouder!  It was great to have my daughter, Ally, along two days to support her sister.  Jo ( she said she and Snowney are going to jump the water jump!  Lauren told her, you don’t even trot!) and Kendyll were great companions as well.

Jo and Ken bundled up to cheer on aunt Lauren.  Who gave Kendyll the crop?

Jo and Ken bundled up to cheer on aunt Lauren. Who gave Kendyll the crop?

It was great to have Amanda making her big show debut as well.  She and Lucy had some great hunter rounds.  Libby was back on rescue horse, Cody, stealing the blue ribbons while Julia and Christine were doing their best in the jumper ring too!

Good times, good friends, lots of laughs and my Kona dog had a blast.  The ghosts surrounding Lauren and Feather must have been benevolent spirits.  We were clearly being watched over!

Day 300-A Bruno Story

Strong hooves, strong shoulders and a newly found strong horse, Bruno takes flight.

Three hundreds days ago
TAMU Vets did surgery to clean and cure
Giant Bruno’s infected hoof.

Over one fourth of his left front hoof
Was cut away with surgical precision.
Antibiotics pumped directly into the bone
Day after day until it was finally time
To come home.

Over five months he spent jailed in a wooden cell
No way to fill the long hours or the boredom
Just a view from the top stall rail of the world
Passing by, cows, trucks, tractors and more.
A literal tv screen of slow entertainment.

Finally summer and a release from Dr. Marsh
Allowed Bruno to run free again, the racing
Blood of his ancestors coursing through his veins.
Back under saddle, controllable, but only because
He desired to be controlled, most of the time.

Finally ready, after plaster casts were molded to protect
and support his soft, fragile hoof walls
did we get an okay to launch the big guy
Over his first fences. Of course, he could soar!
But boy, he did not want to jump. No way!
His workouts on the flat got better and better.

His jumping over fences became more matter of fact, as we continued
Lap after lap, walk, trot or canter but always with a small fence to cross.
As days became weeks, we thought there might be some
jumper in the big horse after all. And still he got stronger, better
And anxious mentally to fly for Lauren. Houston, we had lift-off.
One day he just started to get it!

Today is day 300 from surgery and the mighty thoroughbred Bruno,
Is as good as he once was and maybe better than he ever was.
Today with these short months under saddle he would already make
A great dressage mount. Each ride is smoother, more fluid, than the last
yet emits strength and fitness in every step.

We were told he would not be rideable for one year after surgery.
We earned some extra time with him growing back his hoof so fast.
We learned a lot taking on this magnificent OTTB. We learned about
Faith, courage and love. We couldn’t be happier to have our big man
Back to work with nary a hint that trouble ever brewed.

Thank you to all that have supported and cheered on the “startling beautiful” (According to off-Track Thoroughbreds) Bruno.

Three hundred days-look how far he has come!

Collected, flowing and moving like a dream!

Pixie goes to a barrel race

Kendyll taking the final ride out of the arena on Pixie with Sarah leading and Lauren alongside.

Kendyll taking the final ride out of the arena on Pixie with Sarah leading and Lauren alongside.

It was a fast and furious start to the weekend as we headed out with the empty horse trailer this morning.

It has been six weeks  since German Riding pony, Pixie, went off to trainer Sarah Sumrall for some basic training.   We were eager to see how she was doing.  But to complicate life a bit, Ally was signed up as a volunteer for Jordyn’s school fund-raiser.  Luke and Jordyn were signed up for a fishing tournament.  Baby Kendyll had no one to watch her.

It is a three-hour round trip from our farm to Sarah’s.  We picked up Kendyll and her car seat, iPad for Mickey movies, multiple cups of juices, snacks, diapers and a couple of bags of assorted stuff.

The weather was ominous, with banks of dark clouds following us as we drove criss-cross Houston.  The rain was pouring down as we pushed through Rosenberg but the sun broke through again as we made it to Sarah’s.  Kendyll watched some Mickey Mouse Club House.  We played a fun game where she coughed, then I coughed, several times.  She is very cute!

Sarah rode Pixie for us and what was a halting, evading pony, who had never cantered for us, was now a smooth, mature pony with three lovely gaits.  I wanted to cry when I first saw the little roan pony break into a lovely, flat kneed canter that would be the envy of the hunter ring.  Sarah reversed directions.  Pixie picked up the correct lead without issue and cantered several nice circles.  Pixie had learned to back and halt quietly.  Quite impressive accomplishments for a pony I had trouble moving from a walk to a trot.

Pixie loaded easily into the trailer and we headed to a barrel race!  Sarah is an outstanding, top barrel racer with a great reputation in Houston.  I idly suggested taking Pixie out of the trailer when we got to the fairgrounds and put a sign around her neck saying “Pony For Sale!  45 Days Professional training by Sarah”.  I could have probably sold her in ten minutes flat.  But we were at the fairgrounds to see a truck we had found for sale on Facebook.

We had been looking for a new truck.  We have a Chevy 1500 with a small V-8 engine.  A friend posted an ad for a Chevy 2500 with a diesel engine.  It is an older truck than mine but has fewer miles.  Lauren and I are very excited about owning it. All the details should be worked out next week. It is such a nice truck and will allow us to pull the weight of 1500 pound Bruno, 1200 pound Feather and 1100 pound Mickey all it once.  Right now, it is strictly one at a time in the trailer.

The new "older" truck!

The new “older” truck!

I had told my friend at work that I had bought a truck online.  She laughed at me and said,”you bought a truck on eBay!”  No, I told her, I bought one on Facebook!

Busy morning, with horses, grand kids and a new truck to come!  The rains followed us on home but the accomplishments of the day were not tarnished.

Thanks for riding along and huge thanks to Sarah for doing such a great job on my pony.