The Heat Goes On

Newcomer Sammi Dee is taking over the job of watching the horses in the arena. Lula is ever loyal at her side.

Newcomer Sammi Dee is taking over the job of watching the horses in the arena. Lula is ever loyal at her side.

For three days last week, I went without air conditioning.  The highs were in the 90’s and the lows in the mid-70’s.  I kept thinking I would figure out a way to make the A/C work-because I am qualified as an A/C repairman-right?  Well, no.  I was afraid it would be expensive and I was afraid it would take a long time.  And of course, it is just outside the home maintenance policy we bought when we got the house.

While not sleeping, I had quality time to speculate on how much heat a long-haired, curly poodle gives off when nuzzled next to my right side or in contrast, two small dachshunds coupled with a big Doberman on the other.  I would like to point out they were sleeping fine.  I had time to practice my training session for work and re-organize the tackroom in my head.  Lots to do as the you lie awake, too hot to sleep, too stubborn to call for help.  Friday morning looking at the weekend ahead, I couldn’t take it any longer and called the repairman.

By Friday afternoon, late, I had cool air flowing, less money in my checking account. I was ready to go outside to do some work as I knew it would be cool on the inside when I returned.  I slept well (finally) and was up for usually early feeding of the animals.  But Lauren and new boarder Amanda were right behind me as they headed off west to pick up Amanda’s horse.

Patch with new buddy Hershey.

Patch with new buddy Hershey.

We have known Amanda and Patch for some time and know they will make a nice addition to our barn family.

I spent the day with the usual weekend chores, mowing, cleaning, riding and filling troughs. In spite of the greatly improved temperature inside, it was about 95 by noon. I decided to get out the dog’s black trough which they had enjoyed in the summer to splash around in and get wet.  I went to pick up the upside down trough and got quite a surprise.  A small (yet certainly big enough) water moccasin was resting under the trough.

My boarder who is a veterinarian was at the barn with her husband.  Apparently snakes of any kind are not included with animals she has an interest in and I got the feeling she would be just as happy if her husband didn’t come see the snake either.  I stopped Lauren as she was leaving for the weekend (showered, in nice non-barn clothes) for her  to come kill the snake but she also declined.  It has been pretty dry since the monsoons of early summer and we have not seen any snakes.  Finally, I was contemplating going to the house for some boots to wear as part of my snake killing outfit, when Paul (the vet’s husband) came to help me out (plus, he was wearing boots, so clearly he was the best one for the job).

First, I had to lock up all the interested but misguided dogs and then I lifted the trough away and Paul succeeded in killing the snake.  Another day on the farm!

Hiding away in the dirt and leaves. Glad he did not get the dogs, horses or any of the rest of us.

Hiding away in the dirt and leaves. Glad he did not get the dogs, horses or any of the rest of us.

Having gotten through this harrowing experience it was time for me to clean up and get ready to receive visitors.  As you may remember (and I believe there is still a video link on this site to see them re-united) for a while our pony Snowboy, went to live at
Dev’s (or combination of Dev’s and Freeman Ranch). Jordyn was young and didn’t need a fulltime pony and Lauren was too old to compete on a pony.  Well. Snow being the gracious guy he is formed his own group of admirers.  Isabel competed with Snow for a while before Processo. Another Snowboy follower was Allyson.  She had always enjoyed the gentle white pony, in spite of having fallen from him and badly breaking her arm.  I had kept up with Allyson’s mom and Allyson was ready to come back to Snow and resume her lessons.

I had never seen Allyson ride and knew it had been a few years since she and Snow had ridden together, but I needn’t have worried.  Allyson listened to my long lament about getting Snowboy to canter and expertly rode away at a lovely canter, clearly not needing any of my advice.

I hope they come back many times-I have lots of horses this girl can ride.

Sunday it was hot again but still cool inside. Jordyn came over and we did our weekly fence ride-where we ride the fence line and look for the horse’s missing fly masks.  Always a good time!

Alex and MIckey-just about perfect.

Alex and MIckey-just about perfect.

Leaping lizards!

Leaping lizards!

Dev had lessons as the temperatures cooled slightly toward dusk.  It appeared everyone had a good ride!  Lauren and Alex are headed to the show this week with Feather and Mickey.  Both horses were jumping well and appear to be ready to go!

Love this shot! So much energy!

Love this shot! So much energy!

Feather skipping along, literally off the ground on all four feet.

Feather skipping along, literally off the ground on all four feet.

As always thanks for riding along!


A big shout out to Caitlyn Epperson who was in California this past weekend competing for USEF Talent Search.  With her horse, Ky, they put in some great rounds and well-represented all of us back here in Texas.  Great Job, Cate!!

Mustang Love

Kit and Isabel

Kit and Isabel

Kit, our newest boarder at Six Meadow Farm, has come a huge distance and yet in other ways has just moved down the road.  Originally from some of the remaining wild horses in Oregon, Kit somehow made her way thousands of miles south to come to live on my neighbor’s property.

Some years and bad times, brought Kit to her next turn in the road which was my farm right down the street. Horse lover Isabel made the decision with her family to aid and abet this little mustang mare who was seized by the sheriff’s office, then bound for the kill buyer, a crowded painful ride to Mexico and a brutal end in the unregulated slaughter house to be processed into meat.

As my father always told me when I wanted to buy this horse or that horse, that it was not the price of the horse itself (at least back when he and I were buying horses) but the cost to keep it, care for it and provide for it for all the years to come.  In the case of Isabel and Kit, there was no price to buy this horse.  Our Pultar Road neighbors went out to the auction and waited most of the day to get this Mustang and a Quarter horse pony out of harm’s way, bidding back to back with kill buyer until the little horses were not worth their weight in meat (literally).  Our neighbors brought them home to us.

Isabel had done her research on how much the keeping and nurturing of the horse would cost her over a year’s time.  But like most new horse owners, the minute Kit got off the trailer at our farm, one could almost visualize the bills starting to mount up.  First, as Isabel assessed her, she saw a lot of scrapes and cuts.  The sheriff had gotten the horses to auction too late to be auctioned with the horses and they were sent down the shoots with the frightened cattle.  Our pony held up pretty well but Kit was a mess of torn flesh including a gash on her back leg.

Kit’s feet were in bad shape as well.  By Saturday the farrier arrived to help out Kit, but declined to work on her as he was concerned about her cut leg and the fever he felt sure was racing through her bloodstream.  Nothing about this was good news to Isabel and her parents.  Meanwhile, our pony Jete’ was starting to shine like a new penny, having her feet trimmed up and we were discussing who was going to ride her first. The comparison between to the two rescues had to make it even harder for Isabel to understand what in the world she had been thinking when she signed up to rescue the Mustang.

To add a little more insult to injury, Isabel was now our employee, cleaning stalls, hauling feed and water and sweating, a lot.  Most suburban teenagers do not have what it takes physically to knock out 14 stalls in 95 degree heat.  But Isabel stuck with it. It was one more way to pay her Mustang’s board bill.

Our pony went off with saddle, bridle and rider into the arena like they had just stepped into the show ring.  While there were a few mistakes, the pony clearly knew what to do and had been well-trained.

Meanwhile, Isabel followed up with vet to learn there was no temperature, the leg would heal fine but oh, boy did this girl’s teeth need some work!  For those of you old enough to remember there used to be a series of books about a girl named Pippi Longstocking.  Pippi could pick up a horse in one hand.  She was super strong.  I often think of our vet Lynn as the Pippi Longstocking of vets. As a female in the large animal industry, it has helped Lynn to smart, fast, lean and strong.  Most horses are no match for her technique but this Mustang, was not letting anyone look at her teeth.  A little medication later, the teeth were taken care of, but Lynn urged Isabel’s mom to get some PROFESSIONAL training help as her daughter could be hurt.  More money out the door and it sounded like more was going to be spent.

Meanwhile, our pony was on perfect ride number two over in the arena.  I attempted to help Isabel with the bridling issue only to learn this Mustang mare was not planning on opening her mouth for me any more than she was for anyone else.  I gave it a good try-but Kit won.

We started talking about alternatives to traditional bridles like hackamores or bosals.  I think Isabel was just watching money run out of her wallet.  Originally, her plan had been to do some fund raising both at her school and on-line.  Money was just trickeling in for the mare and her care.

But I did see them make progress.  The first days, the water hose sent Kit to outer-space but by this weekend she was quietly standing in the wash rack while the water ran full force.  She had become quieter and easier to handle each day as well.  In the dark before dawn as I brought the horses in to eat, I would put my pony away first.  Kit stood calmly in the hallway until I was ready to walk her back to her food.  The terror in her calls to our pony, Jete’ , the moment the pony disappeared from sight, reduced and started to cease as Kit became part of the mare’s pasture.

I also think that it helped immensely for Caroline and Arianna to come by with pictures and stories of their Mustang, Ellie Mae, that many of you have seen on the show circuit.  She is a glossy, beautiful mare who has won many blue ribbons in the ring.  But Caroline showed Isabel pictures of Ellie Mae as she had arrived, skinny, banged up and looking nothing like the adorable mount she is now.

This weekend I put together a hackamore (it works without a bit by putting pressure on the nose of the horse) for Isabel to try on Kit.  As her father stood looking a bit concerned I urged Isabel to go ahead and saddle up Kit.  We would go take a test ride.  I had seen nothing in this horse to indicate she would be crazy or spooky as long as we left her teeth alone.  Isabel eagerly agreed and we headed off to the arena.

As I stood closely by and Hugh ran video on his phone, Isabel mounted the Mustang for what was probably the first time in at least five years. The little mare accepted Isabel on her back and walked quietly around the pen.  It was a big first for the two of them.

Lauren on Jete" and Isabel on Kit for the first time.

Lauren on Jete” and Isabel on Kit for the first time.

Last night both Lauren and Isabel saddled their ponies and they took their first ride out in the big arena.  It was a pretty fine moment.

Isabel has set up a “Go Fund Me” to help her offset the costs (and the continuing costs) of supporting her rescued Mustang.  I know we have all been asked to support this and that cause and we probably could use money for our own horses. I have not used this blog as a fund rising vehicle in the past.  But something about the determination of this 15 year-old girl to help save this Mustang has made me respect her grit, strength and vision.  When she first heard about this mare in need she set out to devise a plan to help.  I would ask you to help her help the Mustang.  Let’s watch this mare blossom!

As always, thanks for riding along!  Send a dollar or ten if you can!





Rescue Initiated-Rescue Complete

The rescue team of Jo Ann, Olivia, Alex, new pony Jete', Lauren,Lainie, Hugh rescue horse Kit and Isabel.

The rescue team of Jo Ann, Olivia, Alex, new pony Jete’, Lauren, Lainie, Hugh, rescue horse Kit and Isabel.  Oh, and Kona photobombing the shot.

There are all those dog, horse, cat  (insert animal) rescue books out today that claim the animal just “found” the person.  Then they all had a wonderful happy life thereafter.  I don’t believe in fairy tales, or all rescue horses are happy and the perfect fit.  I have lived in the real world of animals too long.  Where my majestic Bruno (an OTTB) is euthanized in my back yard after we suffer the anguish of trying to save him.  I have brought home too many “rescue” cats and dogs that later were clearly not the right animal for my family or our lifestyle and had to be re-homed or died on the highway.

Maybe all rescue animals go to heaven but the road to hell is stock full of “rescues” gone wrong.  I think it is in the nature of a lot of us to want to rescue animals.  It makes us feel superior and needed.  It makes us feel important. Often we do not think about the long term obligations of the rescue animal that may have a long life to live.

So, with all that negitivity, how did we come to be lined up in the front yard, holding two rescue horses?  I guess that doing the “right” thing can be pretty compelling.

There might be 15 homes situated on our little bluff over the Brazos River. Most of us have horses, cattle, goats or other livestock and probably all of us have dogs.  Our one neighbor lives in a nice, newer home at the top of road.  Since we have been here, about a year and a half, we have never seen him.  But we have seen his band of five horses.  These horses are notorious for breaking out of their pasture.  Often they would be seen grazing on the long grass next to the road.  That was a good plan because their pasture was overrun with weeds and as our weather has gotten more and more unpredictable this year, the horses have looked worse and worse.

The man, Martin, lost his wife a few years ago to cancer and he is elderly.  I think the heart just went out of him as he dealt with overwhelming grief and increased dementia.  I did not call the sheriff, but someone on the street probably did as I drove home a few weeks ago to see the sheriff’s horse trailer lined up on the road.  I knew the horse’s were being seized.

About ten days ago, Isabel came up to the house and told me a woman was there to talk to me.  She introduced herself as my neighbor, Pauline.  It is a sad fact that we do not get out and meet our neighbors in this busy world we live in.  I immediately knew her place as she described it.  Pauline told me that she and dressage instructor neighbor, Nancy were going to take three of the worst of the Martin’s horses and try to save them instead of having them face euthanasia. Those three horses were elderly and horribly emaciated.  Then she asked me if I could help out possibly with the other two horses, both mares, one a younger pony and one a middle-aged Mustang.  She said both had been rideable at one time.

My immediate thought was no, we cannot take on another thing.  It has been a rough year for us after starting the new business, dealing with surgeries (mine and Lauren’s), closing out all my mother’s debts and the difficult weather.  A couple of the boarders were standing by and I asked if they could help.  Finally, I asked my buddy Jo Ann, always considerate, generous and with a huge heart if she would go hall and half with me on the pony’s expenses and we high-fived in agreement.  Of course, I was still trying to sell pony Piper that had not been a fit at all for Jordyn and I don’t know what I was thinking but there we were, agreeing to take a sight-unseen pony while relief washed over Pauline’s face. I asked Lainie if their family might be interested and I got a resounding “no”.  I get it.  Paying board on an unknown, untested rescue horse is hazardess to your heart and potentially your pocket-book.

Later, Lainie’s teenaged daughter, Isabel came to me in the house to ask questions about the mustang mare and how much it would cost to keep her.  She wanted to know if she could work off some of the board and expenses.  I told her maybe a $100 a month or so.

Well. by the next day, Lainie’s family was adopting the Mustang mare.  Lainie said she had never seen Isabel so determined (and Isabel is a focused, strong-minded individual on a normal day).  They had discussed it as a family, and we worked togerher to come up with a plan to allow Isabel to own her first horse.  It was a big moment in her life and one I know she will always remember.

Kit arriving, a little thin, a little worn but pretty quiet and eager to please.

Kit arriving, a little thin, a little worn but pretty quiet and eager to please.

And then we waited.  Due to county protocols, the horses had to be quarantined and then sent to an area auction.  The auction was set for yesterday.  The danger of a horse auction is always the “kill-buyer”.  He is looking for horses to buy to transport to Mexico for a horrific death at the slaughter house.  Our neighbors had agreed to ante-up the auction cost of the horses if we would agree to give them homes.  We expected the horses to move through the auction about noon.  At noon, there was still not any sign of them.  Pauline called me around 1:30 to say the transport to the auction had been delayed but they thought they would be arriving shortly.

Finally around 3:30, we got the news that the two mares had been secured and purchased.  But what I thought would be a couple of hundred dollars a piece turned into almost $1000 when the kill buyer went bid for bid with our neighbors. Horse meat goes for about a $1 a pound. A six hundred pound pony brings $600.  I was so relieved, I cried when I heard they were in the trailer and headed home to us.

Amidst the happy gathering of rescuers, family and friends, the horses arrived safely.  The pony backed out to Lauren’s waiting hands and was dubbed with the name Jete’-meaning movement or flight.  I hope she learns to take flight over the jumps but who knows, at least she is safe.  And in the usual way of ponies, she looked no worse for wear.  She looked well fed and stocky.  No wonder the kill buyer wanted her-she was a meaty girl.

Alex and Lauren holding Jete' as they wait for Kit to unload. Of course, Kona is on the job making sure all is going well.

Alex and Lauren holding Jete’ as they wait for Kit to unload. Of course, Kona is on the job making sure all is going well.

Isabel and Kit were introduced and both seemed to glow with happiness.  One at finding her first horse and one at having finally her own person.


Thinner than the pony but with a happy expression and an interested look.

Thinner than the pony but with a happy expression and an interested look.

We will see how this all works out in a few months or years.  Mickey, Snow and Cody all came from the rescue and grace our barn.  They have been with Libby and us for over 12 years now.  We will see how these ladies do.  I bet they get a lot love and groceries and second chance on life.

Thank you for riding along! And a big thank you to these new neighbors of mine who put animals first. Thank you Gil and Pauline.  It is a happy day at Six Meadow Farm.

jete' gleaming in the evening light after a thorough clean up by Alex and Lauren. Looks like a show pony not a rescue. Wow!

jete’ gleaming in the evening light after a thorough clean up by Alex and Lauren. Looks like a show pony not a rescue. Wow!