Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sunday Stills - Sunrise & Sunset

I hope you guys don't mind but I have decided I would like to participate in the Sunday Stills Challenge, and since this is my only blog...Well, I am sure you know where we are going. LOL

This weeks challenge is Sunrise or Sunsets so here is mine.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sammy's First Christmas

Well, not her first but most likely the best. Christmas morning met Miss Sammy with frosty delight. She ran thought the field with her tail flying high. No more does she worry about what tomorrow may bring, no more does she feel like an unwanted thing. She knows more love that she could ever imagine as she sprints from the barn yard to meet her companions. No more empty bellies on stone cold nights. She has found a place to run in her joyous flight.

This Christmas found Sammy warm and toasty in her bed. More hay than she required and safe with her friends. She thinks that she's lucky, she has won the jackpot. Just the tip of an iceberg isn't even a thought. She is sure that the past was only a dream. No Christmas before has been so warm, no Christmas before has been so full.

I watched her as she munched on her own private bale, thinking that I will always remember this day. Sammy's first Christmas with no worries, and no hunger pains. She is warm this year. Her body armored against the cold. She has curves, and a sparkle amazing to behold.

Merry Christmas from all At Southern Oak Stables.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Will Wonders Never Cease?

It is cold here, 11 deg with -2 Windchill. So today I broke out the blankets. Everyone's blanket still fits Yeah! I had one that would fit Moon as she has finally grown up. The poor girl has had to have a new blanket every year. Of course everyone reacted as expected to the promise of a warm blanket save one.

I expected Sammy to react as any young horse who had 1) never seen a blanket let alone worn one and 2) hadn't really been exposed to anything that large going over her head. What she did was not only completely stunning but was repeated through the trials of three different blankets. I have a variety of sizes due to having young horses but AGGGG she is between sizes.

So here is the deal. I saved her for last because I wanted to see what I would have left. As I approached her with this huge horse eating thing, her eyes got larger, her ears dropped out to the side and she froze in her tracks. Ok I can work with this. I braced myself for the blot when I placed the closed front blanket over her head but it didn't happen. She actually stepped into it and then onto it. Tap, tap, tap, move your foot honey. She calmly picked up her foot freeing the blanket and as I suspected I had WAY to much hanging off the end. Sigh. Back over her head and over again with another. Same reaction, but this time not enough blanket. One more time over the head and this one will do. It is large but close enough. the belly strap is taken up as far as I can but we will see how it works. Straps done up in the back and no kicking or bolting. WOW

The turn out was fantastic! All the horses make their laps around the field and Sammy is no different. Only her belly strap comes loose and as she runs along it swings free. She then does the one thing I NEVER expected. She came running straight to me and stopped. My daughter and I fixed the strap and off she goes again. This time she is fine.

She wanted it fixed. She acted so proud to have a blanket and she acted like she wanted to wear it. She absolutely blows my mind. Moon doesn't like her blanket that much and she has worn one since she was a baby.

Could it be that she really was proud to have her own blanket? I think maybe so but I know this for sure. I have horses that will help you put their blankets on and the way she acted is too much for words. I just don't know what to expect next.

ETA - Sammy now has a new blanket all her own, that fits her just right. I will post a photo of her later. I think Lavendar Red is her color! *giggle*

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

She did it!! She did it!!

Sammy made it through a complete trim today without having a total meltdown. The front two feet were absolutely awesome. The first back foot was good, and then the last foot. She was anxious, she didn't want to give it to me, she danced just a little, threatened to kick, and with one very loud admonishment she took a deep breath and sighed.

Not only did she give, me her foot but she didn't throw it at me. She gently picked it up and let me hold it. I was SO PROUD!! This is a HUGE accomplishment for her to trust me with all of her feet. She has been building up to this steadily, but until today we have always had to break our trimming sessions up into one or two at a time as she would get anxious.

Some of you will understand how big of an accomplishment this but for those of you who have not worked with a abused horse. This is a big thing for her. She is building trust everyday. Ya'll I really just want to scream from the roof tops!

Monday, December 8, 2008

I really don't know how they do it...

Farriers that is. I have been a bad horsey mom and have let my horses feet get a little behind on trimming. So today, my daughter and I trimmed horses or three of the 7 anyway. I don't know how farriers do it, I mean I can do one or two a day but I just can't imagine doing a barn full everyday. WOW, after trimming Rusty, Tanner and Trace I was done for the day. My back is still hurting and I did part of it sitting on a bucket. LOL

At least my crew are good about having their feet trimmed so I can sit on a bucket to help my back some. I just can't imagine wrestling with one who doesn't like it. Sammy is the only one who gives me any trouble and it is minimal at worst. I generally save her for a day when I do not have to do anyone else. I can take my time with her, give her breaks, and it helps. She has gotten better about it so it isn't so bad anymore.

Today she stood and watched with the most curious look. She has never been in the barn with the other horses were being trimmed so there is no telling what she was thinking.

Is anyone else out there doing the "Bare Foot" Trimming? If you are I would love to hear about your challenges.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Telling Tales...

Horses play we all know that, but the games they play sometimes absolutely blow my mind. Sometimes I stand there in complete awe at some of the silly things that amuse them.

The weather being what it is around here frozen water tanks are an every day thing. I have one tank that is close enough to the barn for a heater and one out in the large field. I keep the one with the heater full and the one out in the field I fill to about half full so they will drink it down and if it does freeze solid I can still flip it over without cracking the tank.

Well most of the horses just love to drink out of the tank while the water is running, a couple of them will even stick their nose under the running water and play. Well, Sammy comes up as I am filling the tank in the big field. The water is hitting on of the rings in the Rubbermaid tank causing it to splatter. She just stands there for a minute watching it, and the light is making the little droplets of water sparkle. After a bit she sticks her nose down in the tank, sticks out her tongue and starts trying to catch the drops. It reminded me of a kid catching snow flakes on their tongue. I stood there with my mouth open completely speechless until I began to giggle.

She just kept it up and then finally decided it was easier to get a drink the normal way. When she had finished drinking she stood there and watched the water splatter until the level was high enough that it quit spattering and then wandered back out to the rest of the herd.

Now I have watched horses play in water, I have watch two horses play in the tank, I have even had on climb in the tank, I have a horse who likes to drink right out of the water hose, but this takes the cake. I have never seen a horse try to catch water drops when there is a good 12 inches of water in the tank to drink from.

I can't imagine what was going through her mind, but I would sure like to know.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Just So You Know...

Hey everyone! I just wanted to let you guys know that since it is now officially winter here Free Smileys & Emoticons at Clip Art that Sammy is doing really well adjusting to extended time in a stall. But because it is winter the training has slowed to a stand still, and there isn't much to report. I will continue to document her progress as I get things to share, so don't think I have abandoned the blog. There just isn't much to tell right now. When the weather breaks this spring I know I will have lots of wonderful news to share, as Sammy will be starting under saddle for real this spring.

Stay tuned, and have a wonderful and safe holiday season with your family and friends. Hug your horses for me!Free Smileys & Emoticons at Clip Art

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Why I Am Thankful...

I am thankful for my wonderful family who joined me to be test subjects for my first batch of dressing. (it WAS good)

I am thankful for my non-horsey husband who supports my very expensive equine addiction.

I am thankful for my children, who bring light to my every day.

and I am thankful for my special horses.

Misty, who has packed my butt around for years. Taught me how to be a good horsewoman and an innumerate amount of children to be confident riders. She is the reason I have the others and after 25 years, she is going strong.

For Rusty, Bonnie, Trace, Tanner, Moon who all have Misty to thank for their easy lives, endless grass, and warm blankets.

For my darling Sammy. The little piece of Misty I will have with me for the rest of our lives. The one who I had waited so long to bring home.

I am thankful that she is filling out, that her mind is coming out of the shell she built to protect herself; and that she finally feels at home with the others.

This is Sammy's first thanksgiving with a full belly, clean water, and a warm barn.

And finally I am thankful for those of you who read my ramblings, who care how she is doing, and root for her continued success. I hope this day has found you and your family safe, and healthy. Many happy returns.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A New Routine

The weather around here has turned wet and cold. A sure bet that Fall is over and Winter has arrived. Because of this all the horses have started their wintertime routine. In at night and out in the day. It gets dark early so they are in the barn by 5pm. I worried that Sammy would become anxious with the longer hours in a stall. However, she is showing no signs that the change in her routine has bothered her at all.

Quite the contrary actually, she is one of the first ones to the barn at night. I have also discovered that she is a fantastic stall keeper. I would say it came from her time of confinement but I don’t think so. She is more like her mother than I ever imagined. Misty has never been one to be dirty. She will roll in the dust but hardly ever has mud on her. For years my friends thought I was insane about grooming Misty because she was always clean, but it wasn’t me. Sammy is always clean looking, she doesn’t roll in the mud and she keeps her stall so neat. She doesn’t mess up her water, and she eats with her nose in her bucket, so she doesn’t drop a piece.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


With 22 acres of pasture, (even after a frost we still have some good grass), you would think that Sammy wouldn't go looking for more.

Well apparently she decided yesterday she needed to go for a stroll. Thank god the other 7 horses did not follow her through the hole she made under the fence.

Thankfully the neighbor noticed my little black and white Houdini and as he started his four wheeler, she proceeded to the barn. When he caught up to her she was standing in the hallway, so he shut the door and closed her in the barn. He then let my husband know Sammy was awol.

On panicked phone call from the non-horsey husband, I was on my way to the barn to find the problem. They (hubby and neighbor) went around the field to find the hole but didn't find one. So apparently she just magically appeared in the yard. Yeah Riigghhtt.

Since I have two other escape artists, I know what to look for on the fence. It just so happens that the two horses that Sammy is hanging out with are apparently good teachers. I found the exit point. She walked right out under the three strands of fence. Apparently my husband had unplugged the electric fence and since Rusty, Bonnie, and now Sammy know how to find all the weak spots when the fence is not hot. She just went exploring.

I swear, I have more than my share of smart horses. I just hope that someone else has to deal with creative horses too. Lord knows I shouldn't have all the fun. :-)

Friday, October 31, 2008

It's Published!!

It is official. Sammy is famous. Her story has been published in Horseman Magazine. You are welcome to follow the link below to read the article.

Horseman Magazine

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tag I'm "it"

I've been tagged by cdncowgirl (Lisa) over at (Not Quite) Home On The Range to play "Book Tag."

Here are the rules:

1)Grab the nearest book.
2)Open the book to page 56.
3)Find the fifth sentence.
4)Post the text of the next two to five sentences.
5)Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book or the intellectual one,Pick the Closest.
6)Tag five people to do the same.

Well the closest books to me were The Ultimate Horse By: Elwyn Hartley Dewards or OSHA CFR 1926 for the construction industry. I choose The Ultimate Horse, because I wouldn't dream of boring you with what I do for a living. LOL

Page 56 is about the Alter Real

"The breed was saved by the introduction of the purest Andalusian strains toward the end of the nineteenth century. The acquisition of mares from the famous Zapatero Strain was particularly successful and, together with line-breeding to two exceptional stallions at the beginning of the twentieth century, was responsible for the wonderfully impressive modern Alter Real, which, it is claimed, closely resembles the original eighteenth-century stock.

Distinctive Appearance

This breed differs distinctively in Character from the other Iberian breeds, particularly in the back formation and the comparative length of pastern, cannon, and forearm, while the chest is exceptionally broad and deep. these conformational characteristics result in the extravagant action of the Alter and the notable knee flexion, both of which are useful attributes in a horse dedicated to the baroque principles of classicism."

I tagged:

Fugs over at FHOTD

Mugwump because I know she knows some good books at Mugwump Chronicles

Liz over at Cowgirl UP

Ms Foxy over at Ms Foxy Pants

Laura Crum over at Equestrian Ink

Ok guys have fun and lets see who else we can bring into the game.

Guess What!!! You’ll Never Guess!

My long-suffering husband, bless his heart, is not a horseman. He loves them and does what he can to help me care for them. He is the muscle behind the heart and I don’t know what I would do without him. Anyway, last weekend we were presented with the opportunity to get an old doctor’s buggy. I have always wanted one of these but never imagined I would get one. HE BOUGHT IT!! I was beside myself with disbelief.

I have always taught my horses to drive, and have a jog cart that they pull with the hope that one day I would have a nice buggy. So now, it is setting in my garage awaiting some work. The appointment has been made with a nearby Amish man to repack the wheel hubs, and now I am on the search for a harness. The harness for the jog cart is different from the one for a buggy so the search begins.

Can’t you just see Sammy all cleaned up with ribbons in her mane, wearing a shiny black harness in front of an old time doctor’s buggy? Since Sammy is black and white and the buggy is black with tiny red pinstripes, it is going to be a beautiful picture.

Some of you may know that I have always been worried about Sammy’s size for riding. She has seemed to get a little taller with the addition of muscle, but I still worry. Now it won’t matter because she can pull the buggy. She will have a job even if it is just being a buggy horse.

Really if you think about it that is the most glamorous job, because we will use the buggy for parades and special events. I also have a photography business, so she will be a model when I use the buggy for a photo prop.

Ya’ll may thing I am crazy, but I feel like the whole world has just opened for Sammy. After all these years of being thrown out in the pasture, she has a purpose. If you have horses, you know they are always happiest when they feel like they have something to do.

Ok enough rambling for today, I am just so excited I could burst!

**Note** I blurred the background of the image because it was taken where we bought the buggy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Look At Sammy Now

Today, the weather was great, a light breeze, and fall was in the air. I decided that Sammy and I needed to go for a stroll around the property and see the sights. The nice thing about fall is it brings out the bogeymen and horse eating gremlins. So I wanted to expose Sammy to all those so that when it is time for us to venture into the world together; she would be more confident that "stuff" isn't going to eat her.

The trip through the woods with the blowing leaves, hickory nuts falling from the trees, and squirrels running across the path in front of us. No problem. Walking up around the new construction of my husbands office building, with the saws, hammers, and drills. No problem. Rogue white Wal-Mart bag from the neighbors trash rolling across the yard with a breeze. BIG PROBLEM.

OMIgosh, I forget how fast that little girl can move! Long lead lines are a very good thing. Sammy covered 15 ft in 1/2 of a second.
Well, I am sure you all are waiting for more pictures so here you go. Our little girl is getting round. Her emerging winter hair is as soft as a teddy bear, and black as coal. I could groom her for hours just so I can feel her hair. Silk I tell you Silk.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Famous Sammy

Sammy is going to be famous! Her story is going to be published in Horseman Magazine (an online magazine) very soon. The article has been written, submitted and accepted. They are only waiting on a new photo of her to be processed.

My only hope is that her story will inspire just one person to make a difference. Maybe make a donation to a local equine rescue, volunteer their time, and if they have the means and the skills adopt and rehab a rescued horse. If just one person makes a difference then she hasn't gone through all this for nothing.

She is so strong, and strong willed :-) I am not sure how much of it is because of what she has gone though and how much of it is inherited from her mom. I always wished I had known Misty when she was a young filly. Misty is tender and loving, but still stubborn at 25, so I can only imagine what she was like at Sammy's age. Although, I think I have a good idea, hehe. Anyway, I am not sure how much of Sammy's behavior is because of what she endured, but she continues to have moments of pure hell mare; and bless her heart, when she is sweet she is THE most wonderful creature to be around. So I know our journey will not be without it bumps and bruises. I just have to hang in there and know we will continue to work through it together.

I will post a link to Sammy's Story as soon as I get the notification that it has been published, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sammy's Got Back...

The moment came and went with none of the expected drama. I decided that it was just time for me to quit being so over protective and start making some real progress with Sammy's training. So, Sammy donned a saddle yesterday afternoon.

She was unsure, wary even, but took it all in stride. My daughter, who is to my dismay is a much better rider physically than I am, was Sammy's first passenger. Tiff is lighter, and easier at the mount, along with having Velcro on her butt so I being a middle-aged self confessed big chicken, ask her to step in.

Sammy wore a halter, and a long line along with her reins so if it went bad I would be able to help Tiff. I didn't think it would but better safe than sorry, especially when you don't know for sure what may trigger Sammy to explode.

Where she came from there is really no way to know what had been done to her. I know from past experience that some of the people who hung out at the former owners farm were less than able horsemen and would do some REALLY stupid stuff.

With very little fanfare, Sammy walked off. She did not get excited about the weight on her back. She isn't sure about when to move forward but other than that is was wonderful.

We finished after a few laps around the round pen, and making several turns to the left and right. She backed up nicely and Tiff got off.

Sammy dropped her head into my chest and sighed. I was so proud of her! She didn't freak out! Her trust level is growing every day and it is such a wonderful thing to see her deal with scary new things with such a calm attitude.

I have a new goal for Sammy, one with a deadline this time. New Years Day will be a landmark for her. I want to take Sammy on a real trail ride on New Years Day. I want her to step into the new year a new horse. Strong, confident, healthy, and ready to take on her new life.

Stay tuned there is so much more to come.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Long Line Aerobics...

Well, it is a sure bet that both Sam and I will be sore tomorrow. I don't' remember Bonnie being this much trouble to start in lines. However I am very proud of her . She did not try to kill me, she didn't rear up, and she DID listen. Under protest but she did listen.

She has also found a new way to express her opinion and frustration. For every 4 steps she actually took 5. She would stomp her front foot pick it up and put it down again. I would have laughed but I was to busy trying keep up with those long strides. WOW, time really does make you forget the pain. I had forgotten how hard it is to follow a walking horse in lines, lol. She walks I jog.

Really though she did good, although because of her protests her nose is going to be tender tomorrow. But something else good came from her workout today; she discovered that a cool water bath isn't a horse eating monster. Up until today she was TOTALLY opposed to baths, but today, the cool water was a welcomed treat. She even drank from the water hose.

I am thinking she will get tomorrow off, her nose and my legs just might need a break.

Input Overload...

I can see the writing on the wall for me. I am going to be a lawn dart if I am not very careful. Now lets don't jump to the conclusion that I am riding Sam. I am not; but we are beginning the next stage of ground work, and OH BOY what an adventure it is going to be.

The Surcingle...

Friday afternoon proved to be exciting for both of us (Me and Sam). The new part of the surcingle was finished and ready for use. See I had measured to see if my equipment would fit her last week and discovered that it was WAY to big for her, so I had to make another piece to bring it down to her size. I brought her out of her stall and groomed her which she loves, and during this time I determined her mood was good so springing something new on her was somewhat safe.

I brought out the surcingle in placed it across her back. As before no reaction. I place the new girth plate on one side and adjusted to where I thought it would need to be, and crossed around to the other side to make the connection. At this point Sam began to have a concerned look on her face. As I pulled the strap snug her eyes got big; now keep in mind I have my hand between her and the girth so it wouldn't have a chance to pinch her side; and she shifted away from me. I stopped and soothed her and began again. This time she didn't swing away and she did decide she wanted NO PART of my plan to strap that unholy thing around her middle.

Now we all know by now that Sam's way of dealing with anything uncomfortable is to kick. She did but I was prepared. There are huge columns in my cross ties that hold up the loft. They make great things to hide behind when the but swings your way. They also make great places to hang crops and other correctional aides. We did the kicking dance for about 30 seconds and stopped snorting and giving me the death stare. Oh, bless her heart she is just like her mother, LOL.

She resigned to her obvious fate was not happy about this thing around her but it didn't seem to be so bad after all. I had no intention of attaching anything to it (this time) so I only made it snug enough so it wouldn't slip if she ran with it on. Now that she was somewhat calm again it was off to the round pen. Like a perfect angel she fell right into our routine, yielding her hind and shoulder, and the one thing I was worried about circling. She didn't buck or kick out but she did run, well gait really fast. What she did would be the equivalent of a extended trot for other breeds, but wow she is going to be athletic.

The instant that she calmed down and walked with her head relaxed we switched directions. Again flying circles, but this time only one, and back to her relaxed posture. COOL! The brain is engaged. I immediately stopped at this and took everything off. She had done what I wanted which was deal with the new equipment in a calm manner; and she didn't even break a sweat. She got her scratches and her hug (she loves to have her face hugged) and off to eat grass.

Now here at Southern Oak besides horses we have teenagers. They tend to be as unruly as the horses sometimes, LOL. But I had a house and barn full of them this weekend, so any serious work would have to wait for another day. I am hoping to work with her again on Monday, if it is not raining. My kingdom for an in door arena *sigh* but that I am afraid is not going to happen any time soon. College tuition is the pressing matter of the moment. *Shameless plug* My son began his college education last month at the University of Kentucky majoring in Mechanical Engineering. I am such a proud mom!

So I will keep you all up dated on her progression. Hopefully we will add lines to the surcingle this week and be closer to the cart work. She may surprise me and not make a lawn dart out of me when we get to the saddle part. I can only hope, and ask for lots of prayers.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

More Adjustments...

Thursday morning Sam got to see her favorite vet (you know the one with the cookies) for another chiropractic adjustment. Since she was at his facility this time she got the extra special treatment. He has a area that allows him to be over the horses back so he can manipulate their pelvis more easily, and since this seems to be where Sam is having her problems that is where he wanted to work.

Again she was a trooper but was not so willing to flex for him as she was last time. He laughed and ask me if she was really bothered by flexing or was she just being stubborn. I was standing over to the side laughing as he tried to get her to flex and told him she just didn't want to. He smiled and said "Ah, she remembers" and took off across the room and around the corner. Puzzled, I waited and sure enough he comes back with a hand full of cookies. "Yep, now she will flex" he says as he picks up her lead rope; and she did.

As he works on her, moving her bones around she stands so still. Like her feet are glued to the floor. Sam never fails to amaze me with how calm she can be. The vet was very impressed at how relaxed she was. He spoke about the ligaments near her tail, saying that allot of horses will be very tight, and he can almost pling the ligament when he starts and after he adjusts them it will be so soft and flexible. Sam was so comfortable with what the vet was doing with her that those ligaments were already relaxed. The vet was very pleased with how well she handled his adjustments and scheduled her another appointment for two weeks.

So in two weeks I will haul her back to his place and we will see how she is doing. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


If you have ever found that sweet spot on your horse, that spot that makes their lips quiver. Then you can surely understand the absolute joy I received today just watching Sam get her massage. There were times when she would stand there with her eyes completely closed and her ears laid out like airplane wings. It was fantastic to see her enjoy something so much.

So as promised here are pictures of her completely relaxed and totally enjoying her girl time.

I have watched horses receive massages before but I have never watched one enjoy it as much as Sam seemed to enjoy hers.

It is days like these when I wish could be one of my horses...LOL

Friday, August 29, 2008

She just gets better all the time...

Sam never fails to amaze me. She of course is improving before my eyes, in her calmness, her attention, her ability to cope with new ideas. Yesterday was a big day for her. She had a special visit from a vet who does chiropractic work. Normally this vet has the horses come to him for this because he has an area set up that allows him to be over the horses back. He made a special exception for Sammy. He came to her!. I called and explained Sam's story to Dr. Badger, and he agreed that the stress would be less for him to come to her for the first time, and we could see how it goes from there.

Sammy was a TROOPER! As he started his exam she was curious about him so she sniffed him up and down, then finally decided that he was ok and she would let him continue. He checked her flexibility, watched her movement and when he had all the information he needed, he brought out "the activator". This is where I figured it would all fall apart. Dr. Badger didn't want to sedate her so we tried it without. The activator is like a miniature jackhammer and it pops when it pulsates. He places this against the areas he wants to adjust and when he pulls the trigger it pops. I just knew it would be a rodeo, but boy did I underestimate our little Sam. She was PERFECT! Her only reaction was to hook her nose in the crook of my elbow. she stood square and let Dr. Badger do his work. I was SO PROUD! When he was finished her gave her some attention and a nice horse treat when she normally likes but this was different than what she normally gets (brand wise) and she played with it for a min then spit it out. He got tickled at her and I laughed explained that I have spoiled horses and went for the flax snacks. He looked at the cookie, smelled it and pronounced that is smelled good enough to eat. When he presented it to her she inhaled it. He got the biggest laugh out of her behavior over the cookie.

Sunday Sam will receive yet another treat. An equine massage therapist is coming to see her for a massage. This will help to change the muscle memory and make the adjustments that Dr. Badger makes work better. She will go for another adjustment next week, and then it is on to training from there. I will continue to monitor her body mechanics and have her adjusted as needed. But the time has come for Sam to learn a few skills that will help her on her journey to a complete life.

We will begin with lines, and progress from there. I am sure it will be an adventure. Stay tuned, I will post photos of her massage in a few days.

The Journey...

For those of you who have been following the developments of Sammy's former owner. I thought I would post one link with all of the articles so if anyone wanted to read them you wouldn't have to search though the blog to find them all. There are some that I didn't post links to before due to sheer overload of my mind and acting to aid in the activities.

I will start with the first one and they will be listed by date so you can choose the ones you want to read.

May 27, 2008
May 30, 2008
June 2, 2008
June 3, 2008
June 13, 2008
July 24, 2008
July 25, 2008
July 26, 2008
August 8, 2008
August 27, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

And The Verdict is IN!!

The case of the starved horses has finally come to much awaited end. She plead GUILTY to 6 counts of animal cruelty. She was sentenced to 60 days home incarceration, a $185 fine, and $6,718 in restitution, and agree to never own or care for horses again. Not just in McCracken County, NEVER OWN OR CARE FOR HORSES AGAIN, ANYWHERE.

This is much more than most people get for much worse offenses against animals, but considering that my choice of punishment is against the constitution I guess I have to accept this.
Here is a link to the Article that was in the Paducah Sun for any who would like to read it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Extreme Makeover - The Horse Edition...

We have all watched Extreme Makeover. Well, here is an extreme makeover for you. Sam doesn't even look like the same horse. You never realize how they change until you compare photographs.

So here she is Before for those of you who want to make the comparison.
This was taken the morning after she came home. For those of you who are just joining Sam's story. She weighed 580 lbs.

Now, here she is. This photo was taken this afternoon. August 21, two days short of 3 months after coming home.

I can hardly believe my eyes. She is losing her hard points and rounding up. I remember thinking to myself that it was going to take so long to get her round and healthy, but look at her now in just three months. I am almost speechless.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The SOS Bunch.

I believe we have at last convinced little miss light heels that her feet "shall not be used" to express her opinion to her human mom. She is REALLY starting to come around, she is settling into her routine, coming into the barn, going into the stall. Moon has still not gotten over being upset about changing stalls. As a matter of fact I have some barn remodeling to do today. It seems that Moon decided that the Wall needed more ventilation.

I have had some request for pictures of Sammy's pasture mates. So here we go.
This is Moon, she is 3 and is now in training for dressage.

Rusty you will remember is her pasture buddy. She really wants to share a stall with him, so she took Moon's stall so she could be close to him.

Tanner, is the peace keeper. He keeps everyone where they are supposed to be so there is very little picking in the field. However, because Tanner is always the ref he always has nicks to his beautiful coat.
Bonnie is just a few month younger than Sam, and believe it or not is from the same blood lines. This is the size Sam should have been had she not been starved. To look at them together you would never know Sam is 7 months older.

Then there are Trace and Sam's Dam Misty. These two think they are attached at the hip. 9 times out of 10 when you see one of them you will see the other very close by.
So this is the SOS bunch. Out of the 7 horses here only three have never known abuse or neglect. This farm was established to be a haven for abused horses. They all have a forever home here. They have either paid their dues or earned their keep in one way or another.
It seems this blog has turn into more than just a diary of Sam's recovery. I have felt compelled to be a voice for the souls who's voices most people never hear. If just one person is inspired by my horses and change the life of just one other horse, then we together have made a difference. Tipped the scales toward justice a little more.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Where there is light, there must be shadow...

It is with a heavy heart that I write this entry. News came last evening of a horrible accident, something we knew could happen. Without intervention, it was really only just a matter of time. Without a doubt the best laid plans are subject to the waves of the universe, unfortunately we are subject to the rip currents also. The farrier was coming, photos had been made, research done, but time was working, conspiring against us. Yesterday the last sands ran through the glass for the young mare with the club foot.

Tuesday afternoon as normal routine would have it feeding time, barn chores, a glance into the pasture for the head count. Something isn't right. The bob in her head as she moves is different. A second look, she is coming. Then what time has conspired against us happened. The shoulder dropped, a knee hits the ground. There is no denying what her eyes have witnessed as Bird lays on the ground. She runs to her, and drops to her knees beside the still shocked body of Bird, not believing what her eyes find. Calling for help time seems to stop, the old mare too has gone for help. She returns to her down friend with the other herd members to say their good byes.

Bird's pastern has given up the fight for the fragile binds. Shattered, there is no hope for recovery now. Time is such a precious thing, but when wasted it can turn ugly. 9 years she waited for someone who could, who would do something to help her. Just in sight of the finish line and she stumbled.

Years ago the progression of the twist in her foot could have been stopped. If only her former owner had never given up, had taken a chance on a second opinion. Now we will never know what could have been for Bird. All we know now is that her pain is gone, she is free from her broken body. She is running through the never ending pastures, they wind in her mane.

If ever there was an angel among us I believe her name was Bird. Through the years of neglect and pain, she never lost her sweet nature, stubborn determination, and loyalty. Into our lives these wonderful creatures come, they leave hoof prints on our hearts that can not be erased. Some times they stay with us in body and soul and then there are those who are but brief glimpses of strength, and loyalty.

If there is anything we can learn from the pain left behind. Don't waste time, NEVER give up, when the way is not given, FIND IT. If you can't find it MAKE IT. Do something, even if it is wrong, at least you can say that you tried. The only solace I can find in all of this is, Bird had three weeks of no worries, no hunger. Three weeks of love and devotion, of knowing that someone WANTED her, just because.

Go hug your horses, give them an extra treat today. Cherish these wonderful souls TODAY! Tomorrow, may never come...

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Ones Left Behind 3

The storm has been brewing for several weeks now. We all knew something was up, that something was just not right. The nice man local man who wanted to adopt all seven of the horses was a crook. He didn't come to get all seven to keep them together. He was a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Somehow he managed to convince the judge that he was a good person and wanted to rehab the 5 remaining seized horses on his 55 acre farm. The judge and animal control were convinced he had good intentions so the order was signed to move the horses from the people who had devoted 45 days to the care and Restoration of the 5 starving horses. Weeks passed and then one day a man arrived to take the 5 horses to their rolling green pasture, but it wasn't this "nice man" it was a horse trader who had been contracted to pick up the horses and take him to the farm. However, what was supposed to be the plan was only a cover for the true intentions of "the man". He intended all along to sell those poor horses at the auction in Goreville, IL. So that very night those 5 poor horses were marched into the sale ring, their futures unknown, with no one there to protect them from the killers.

Word reached the devoted caregivers and the wheels began to turn. Word spread of the missing horses. Rescue organizations all up the east coast were on the lookout for the lost horses. We were desperate to find where they had gone. Finally it was confirmed they had gone through the auction, the records were searched and after several very tense days of hoping and praying, all five were found save and sound, together. The had been saved by a family in Harrisburg, IL. The family was repaid and the horses were returned to Paducah.

Through all of this the truth came out that the ones left behind were still there. They had never been picked up, so again the calls were made and the travel arrangements settled. Friends came together and homes have been secured for all but one.

I am proud to say that two were delivered into open and loving arms on Thursday night. To see the uncertainty in the eyes of a horse is something I never want to see again; but to see the relief in those same eyes at the soft touch of a hand on their neck. The spark in their eyes at the rattle of a feed bucket, knowing that they will be loved and taken care of. I feel like a weight has been lifted. I know they will never be hungry again. They will live out their lives, in rolling green pastures, with no worries. They have earned the security of those pastures.

I cried when the trailer pulled away. Tears of joy, because I know the old lady will have soft places to lay down, she will get breakfast in bed if that is what it takes. The young one will get her foot cared for and there is a small hope for improvement. She will never be sound to ride but she will be comfortable.

There is only one left. I don't know if she will let him go, but if she can't I know at least she can handle only one. I can't say I don't worry about him. I would love to bring him home with me and keep him forever. I am afraid that will never happen. The lady, she thinks that I was the one. I was not. If she had not been willing to give them to good homes I would have, but she was. It doesn't really matter now, what is done is done. The horses are being taken care of and that is really all that matters.

Sam, may have saved them all. We will never know what started the wheels rolling but they did and it is better for all concerned.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In The Distance...

In the distance there stands a herd of 7 seven horses grazing peacefully. In the distance I can still see them well enough to pick out the groups they fall into. Sam, Rusty, and Moon together. Bonnie, and Tanner, then Trace and Misty. Individual groups but still one large family together. I stand close to the front of the pasture just watching them. I wonder what she is thinking as she grazes with her new friends.

Finally my curiosity can be held no longer, I have to know what she will do. Since bringing her home she has always been happy to see me. I know it is because I am "she who feeds" but I don't care. So from the front of the 25 acre field I call her name. It was more than I hoped for. Up pops her head with those beautiful ears, and complete with a mouth full of grass; and then I hear it. The whinny back. I called to her again, and the goosebumps rise as she takes her steps. She is coming the distance just because I ask.

She officially has no ribs any longer, well, if she does you can't seeee themmmm and the rest of her is rounding up. (I promise new pictures soon) She is much much more relaxed in her stall now, although she has taken over Moon's stall, oblivious to Moon's obvious disgust. So Moon being the sweet mare that she is lays back the ears and presses her lips as she sulks off to the other stall. See Moon's stall is beside Rusty and if Sam had her way she would share a stall with him. Although I am positive Rusty would be horrified should I allow that. Never the less, she tries to enter with him and after his door is shut she heads straight for Moon's stall. She stands in the doorway and looks out waiting for me to close the door. Moon bless her heart stands in the hall way looking quite put out and gives in. It is almost like there is an unspoken agreement between them even though she doesn't like it she goes along.

All my bruises are gone, and Sam is finally cleaning her bucket again, with her stall door shut. Oh, what a relief that she is finally stopped saving something for later. I really believe she was afraid to eat it all. But now **sigh** I can breath.

Somewhere in the distance is a day when all of this craziness will be behind us. She will be round like the rest of her family. The nightmares will be gone for her forever. Each day the distance gets shorter.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Savage Beast...

They say that music calms the savage beast. I don’t know about all that, but I know it calms me. Over the years of owning horses the ones I have spent the most time with have all had their own song. I would sing to them when we were alone and quiet in the barn. Misty has always been “My Sunshine”, Trace has been “Mr. Sandman”, Annie my other rescue mare was “My Girl”. The song will come to me as my relationship develops and Sam’s came to me Sunday night during her supper feeding. You Are So Beautiful by Joe Cocker.

While standing stroking her neck and shoulder I talk to her. I know this sounds so sappy, but I believe that horses understand what we say to them. I tell her how much she is loved, how she will never be hungry again, how safe she will be for the rest of her life. I tell her that she will always be will me, I tell her that she is wanted and that I have always wanted her, that she is home where she belongs now. I tell her how beautiful she is. That it doesn’t matter to me that she is small, or that she is skinny. She is still beautiful to me. As I was standing there telling her all of these things it suddenly flowed out of my mouth as if I had turned on a radio; the words to that song.

I believe that horses, or any animal, need as people need to feel wanted, loved and needed. Every creature needs to feel like they belong, and are special. I also believe that Sam has never had anyone make her feel special, has never made her feel like she was worth anything. Occasionally I feel like she might believe me. When she nickers at me, I always make a point to smile and call her name. One day the years that she didn’t have the things she needed will not matter any more. One day she will see herself as I see her. Beautiful, strong, wanted, needed, and worthy of love.

A Glimmer...

Just a glimmer of the calm, sweet, trusting horse inside is what I got today. Sam and I are trying a new approach to help her deal with her fear of losing her food. The day we had our horrible train wreck, I had been in the stall with Sam while she was eating. Her stall door had been closed and it was just too much pressure. As I have mentioned before, she is now hanging out in the hallway of the main barn where I have blocked off a space for her until I can build her a new stall. She has more room than a normal stall and can be about 20 feet from me if she wants to be.

So here is the new approach. Instead of hanging her bucket on the wall, I have started holding the bucket. I did this with another mare that I rescued and retrained several years ago. She wanted what I had and knew that taking it from me was the only way she would get it. So she sucked it up and took a chance on me. Sam is doing the same thing. Learning to trust me with her feed. I can pet on her and talk to her while she is eating and she will soon realize that I want her to eat and I am NOT going to take it away from her.

Tonight was as I said a glimmer. She is becoming more relaxed with this idea and tonight she was relaxed enough to sniff me up and down between bites of grain. I admit the thought crossed my mind that she might use her teeth for something else besides the grain, but I chose to give her the trust that she was giving me and let her sniff.

Tomorrow is another day, and you never know from one day to the next with a horse that has been abused what may trigger a fear reaction but today, I will take it. I delight in her small triumphs and heave a deep sigh with her set backs. I know the triumphs will tip the scales one day. Until then I will take the small victories and live on them until the next with pleasure.

A glimmer, a flash, a small spot. There is light at the end of Sam's tunnel. She just has to go to it.

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back...

Three steps forward, two steps back seems to be the mantra for Sam and I. The bruises are almost completely gone, my nerves are getting more steady. On Thursday we hauled hay and while running in and out of the main barn, Sam apparently was upset with my purposeful walk and again turned her butt on me. This time I was ready. Her back arched, and the correction came swiftly. Stopped in her tracks with a seriously stunned look. She knew she had messed up, something was going to happen because I came back with a halter. "Oh no your not catching me!" She didn't have to say it, her message was very clear. However, so was mine. After a few moments the halter was on and Miss Sam went to horsey timeout. This allowed me to have access to the hallway of the barn, and didn't let her get away with acting ugly. My son and I finished unloading the hay and had lunch while Sam was in timeout. She had plenty of time to think about why she was standing there.

After lunch I took Sam to the round-pen. Now that I am moving more at normal speed it was time to revisit the keeping our feet on the ground lessons. This time, I didn't play nice. I didn't give her the benefit of the doubt, I didn't give her space, and I didn't take it easy on her. I'll admit I have been soft. I have felt sorry for Sam, I have felt like I needed to handle her with Kidd gloves, but she took off the gloves and so must I.

We worked on my space in her space. We worked on hide the hinney x10. We worked on yielding her shoulder and backing up. We worked on hide the hinney again. This time she said enough, NO MORE! Then it came the arch in the back, the hiked up foot and the fight was on. I am not a fan of harsh handling of horses, but there is a time and a place for everything. I had come armed with a lunge whip, and a training stick. In a situation like this the training stick wasn't going to do me any good, so the whip which was laying at my feet flew into action. Every time she made the circle and kicked, I popped her on the butt. She started diving at me I threw up blocks and popped her front legs. She finally stopped, nostrils flared, sides heaving and stared at me, clearly angry that I had not retreated YET. I by this point, was more than just a little worked up, but once she stopped and looked at me I knew we had reached the point where she knew I wasn't backing down, and we went back to work.

For the rest of our session, all I had to do was look at her butt and she would move it away and face me. She would pivot 360 degrees if I ask her too. The shoulder yield was allot slower coming but it did come, and we managed to get one circle on request with a stop. That was my stopping point. We made progress.

I don't care how many steps it takes backward as long as we keep getting at least one forward. She is coming around, and I don't think the fear that drives her will stay long. The fear of the unknown is more prevailing. She has never had anyone to count on, no one to believe in or trust to keep her safe. She has made her own way, and from the looks of it has managed as well as can be expected. She will learn to let me carry her fear of the unknown, and then she can learn to deal with the fear of the things she has lived through. I know she can, and she will. I just have to keep reminding myself, "if it is worth having, it is worth waiting for, and it is worth working for".

She is.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Compromise...

Sam and I have come to a compromise. After much deliberation over the events of this week it has become clear that my stall arrangement is not working. Sam needs security, and more companionship. So, we have rearranged the barn a bit and Sam has her choice of five noses. She now resides in the middle hallway of the barn where she is much more relaxed and eats her grain. We are having intervals of gate closed and open so that hopefully by the end of summer she will be more accustomed to being in the barn for longer periods of time.

When all of my wounds have healed, we will begin again trying to work through the flashbacks. Sam will eventually believe she is safe. It will take time, and unless a stronger power has other plans for me, time is something I can surely give her plenty of. Meanwhile she is her normal affectionate self. No pressure to be anything she can't handle. It will be ok, I just have to keep telling myself. It is going to be a long road.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Challenge...

It has become painfully clear that bringing home Sammy was only the first part of the challenge of rescuing Sam from the life she had been thrown into. The honeymoon is apparently over and she is settled and finally starting to deal with some of the issues that developed from her long bought of hunger and isolation.

I naively believed this was going to have a fairy tale ending, she was home and we would live happily ever after. However, that is not going to be the case or at least not that easily. She has some serious issues coming to light. Food aggression, claustrophobia, general lack of coping skills when faced with boundaries and frustration. Alone each of these are not a big deal but when they all crash together the results can be very dangerous.

The other horses that were at the farm where Sam lived for 5 years suffered the same fate and some suffered worse. Some of them were confined to stalls, and in much worse condition than she was. I am beginning to think that Sam at some point may have been locked in one of those stalls.

On Sunday Sam got her wish to go out into the big pasture with the other horses on my farm. With this promotion came another part of the routine at Southern Oaks. Daytime, stall/fan/feed. Where we are in Kentucky, the horse flies, green head flies, and deer flies are vicious. The horses break up their feet stomping, and some of the horses are apparently more at attractive to the flies than others as you will see whelps and bloody bites on some and none of the others. So I have made a practice of bringing the horses in during the day especially on the really hot days. This apparently is a big cause for panic with Sam.

I noticed that she would get excited when I would come out to check on everyone, and it never occurred to me that she was staying agitated like that all the time. I also noticed she hasn't been eating all of her grain, and she has become more and more easily agitated during other activities. All of this has been brought to my attention by a horrible misunderstanding Sam and I had earlier in the week. As it has been my habit to pet, and give friendly scratches while Sam finishes her supper I took my normal place beside her in the stall. Only this time I had closed the stall door. Up until now I hadn't closed the door as you never know what a horse that you don't know well will do in a confined space; but for as long as she has been here and not shown any aggression, I really didn't believe it would be a problem. I was steadily scratching her withers when she became nervous and walked away from her bucket. Thinking that a fly was bothering her I stepped to he wall to give her room. Suddenly the last thing I ever expected happen. Sam lashed out with no obvious warning with both back feet. She connected not once but three times on my way to the door. As I opened the stall door and swung out she ran past me and found the first dusty place she could to drop and roll.

After nursing my wounds, and putting serious thought into the events of the day, I decided an experiment was in order. The next afternoon I again approached Sam in her stall. This time with help of course, and stood in her open door while she was eating. This did not seem to bother her at all if any, but the moment I slid the door shut she was clearly upset. She left her bucket and circled. It was almost like I had her cornered. I slid the door open again and she began to relax just enough for me to realize that she was afraid.

What has she endured? Why do people make horses suffer? Why when they trust us, forgive us, and do what we ask do people still mistreat, starve, and break their minds? It is beyond me. I can say this without reservation. I am so blessed to have Sam, and I will stand by her until she heals from the wounds that I can not see, until she has grown into the horse she was destined to be. And that is a promise. She may never know how deep the devotion goes, but she will never be hungry, she will never be mistreated again. Now she just has to believe.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sammy Has Friends...

Over the last few weeks I have been keeping a different horse in the small pasture with Sammy. This was in an effort to make her transition into the herd easier when the time came. During these weeks we have had some heart touching moments like Rusty resting his neck over Sam for a nap in the shade. Some down right funny moments, and moments of total disbelief.

Some of the funnier moments have been watching Sam's excitement at a new horse for her to get to know. She earnestly wants to be part of the herd so when a new horse is introduced to her she runs to meet them; eager to exchange greetings. This has provided us with one of the biggest laughs. Tanner, my daughters QH, had his turn in the small lot. He went out to check the gate and when he returned to the barn area, I opened Sam's stall door. She excitedly ran out to greet Tanner, her new friend, and his ears came forward. His head perked, and eyes got bright. I thought to myself, wow he is really going to be nice to her, HA! Tanner went directly for her as though he was going to greet her. It was one of those movie moments with two long lost loves are running open armed toward each other for an embrace. But at the last moment Tanner sidestepped, with his ears still perked and bright eyed, he headed straight for her HAY. Past Sam who has stopped and is looking over her shoulder at Tanners butt, and now is wearing a seriously confused look wondering what has happened. Tanner, well, he just digs in to her hay rack, and she stands in obvious disappointment. I had to laugh, it was way to funny for words; but Sam as always took it all in stride. She joined him for the feast.

Finally the time has come for Sam to join the herd. I didn't make the decision however, it was made by Sam herself. I being the "all knowing human" thought I would know the perfect time for her to join, but apparently I was being too cautious and taking to long to make my move. The normal routine is we feed Sam and while she is in her stall the other horses come and go out of the big barn via the small pasture. Sam has become wise to this and decide the only way she would ever get to go out there was to boycott her stall. After several increasingly difficult attempts to get Sam to go eat, I realized what she was telling me. It is "TIME" mom! So, I held my breath, put up the two most aggressive horses, and turned her out with Rusty, Tanner, Bonnie, Moon, and Magic. They accepted her with very little reaction at all. Tanner quickly showed her to her place and the grazing began. After I was sure there were not going to be fireworks, I turned out Trace with the same reaction as before; and then last but not least Misty. Misty is if you remember Sam's Dam. She has not been the most welcoming member of our herd. There were no fireworks for this Independence day, just lots of grass, and some new friends.

It is good to see the excitement Sam exhibits. It is obvious she is happy, when you look out into the big green field to see her running, bucking, and rearing with her new friends. She isn't of course in a field of old horses. They are all ranging in age from 3 to 10 except for Misty who is 24. There is lots of playful energy for her and really this time, she was right. It was time to join the herd. Her human mom was being over protective.

Sam has come so far. She is gaining confidence, and her personality is shining. I am such a blessed and fortunate person to have all of these wonderful horses in my life. With all the trials we as people endure it is us who are the lucky ones to have the love of a horse.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Trim...

Sam's feet were in better shape than I expected them to be. I don't know if they have ever been trimmed or not but were not horrible. The heel was long and the toe was short, she walks a little post legged but I know it will be better.

We have been working on proper foot behavior for a couple of weeks now. Nothing to fast or furious, just the occasional pick up and hold for cleaning. I wanted to learn how to trim her in the bare foot style before she was trimmed the first time. Knowing she has never had shoes on she has to have a tough sole so I didn't want to trim away a good thing. So the time had come for the trim, and I was completely surprised how well she took the strange feelings and pressure. The first three went amazingly well. But the last one, well that a foot of a different story.

She didn't want to give it to me. She pulled it away, she tried to sit on me, she tried to stand in my hand, if you can imagine it she tried it all except kicking me (refer to the feet are used for walking lessons). But she absolutely was not going to give me that foot. I noticed that she was cocking the other hip even when I was not trying to get that foot, so I began feeling the muscles up and down her back and hips. There it was a knot the size of an orange just behind the pelvis. I massaged the best I could and worked on rubbing the knot out of the muscle. At one point Sam was really leaning into me and had her neck stretched out as if it really felt good. I never did get the knot to go completely away but it was much smaller when I quit rubbing.
I ask her to give me the back foot again and she did, but only for a min. I decided I would give her a break and my back one too. While I was resting Sam was standing tied, but suddenly she decided she didn't want to be tied anymore. She began pitching what I would describe as a child's throw your body on the floor temper tantrum. *Sigh* Here we go again. I really thought we had gotten over this but alas I guess not. I can't just unhook her that would only teach her to act bad and she will get what she wants. So I moved her to a different spot where she couldn't hurt herself; and channeled Mugwump. LOL I let her stand tied and throw her fit until she decided that she wasn't going to get anywhere. I closely watched her to make sure she didn't get herself in a bad spot, while I trimmed the feet of her horsey mom.

Misty is 24, and a saint as horses go. She does show the sparks of what she was like at Sam's age occasionally but for the most part she is resigned to acceptable behavior. I always said I wish I had know Misty when she was young. HA HA, that is a lesson in watch what you wish for.

When I finished trimming Misty's feet, Sam had finally decided she wasn't gaining any ground with her antics. She was standing calmly hip shot and nose resting low. I retrieved her and quietly finished the work on that last foot.

Wow! What a day. It is obvious now that Sam needs to be seen by a equine chiropractor and massage therapist. Her tendons have been shortened because her heels were long, but that too will get better. She really has come so far from the timid quiet horse I brought home over a month ago. It won't be long before she can go out to the big field with the other horses.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ahh the horse inside...

The unique thing that I love the most about horses is their individual personalities. Each one is different in their own subtle way but alike in so many others. Occasionally you will run across one that has a huge personality and everyone is drawn to them. I seem to have more than my share of these personalities in my barn. I am not sure why but maybe it is because I allow them to express themselves naturally.

When Sam came home she was so quiet, timid, and stand offish. As she has now been home for a month her true colors are starting to show through. She LOVES company and delights in seeing the other horses in the herd. I have started leaving one at a time up with her in her small pasture so that she can get to know them. The funniest thing about her is the desire to be with people. She is the only horse I have ever been around that acts like a small child when they see a loved one. She nickers and comes running, not walking, or sauntering, but RUNNING. I just have to laugh every time.

Yesterday, when putting the horses up, my daughter was having trouble getting Sam's door to shut on her stall. She had put her feed in the bucket and Sam was happily eating when She decided that Sam would have to go to the other stall. She took her bucket and Sam was like "Wait, I am not finished with that!" You could see it all over her face. Sam followed her to the other stall and was content to eat what was in that bucket. My daughter brought up the other horses, and when they were secure in the big barn Sam's door was opened for her to have free access to the pasture again. Immediately Sam ran into her stall to check the bucket, she just knew there would be more feed in there. For the next several minutes Sam went back and forth between the stalls checking both buckets. It was almost like she thought they were self filling or something.

The curiosity of a horse is as precious as the curiosity of a child. We should all learn to embrace this, and allow our horses to develop and express the individual they truly are. Of course we must set boundaries to prevent harm to us or to them, but we shouldn't be afraid to allow them to express opinions, likes and dislikes. As Mugwump was talking about in yesterdays blog; we have to listen to what our horses are telling us. Have a dialog with them, allow them to tell us they don't like something, and be kind enough to say OK, but we are going to do it like this. We wouldn't be expect to treat each other with less respect than this. Why should we treat or horses with less respect? We shouldn't.

On Sam's training. She has learned that feet are used for walking, not expressing her opinion to "Mom". She has also learned that she gets her feed faster if she keeps her head out of the bucket. She is picking up her feet and allowing me to hold them; and she has learned that letting "Mom" see her tail is a cool thing cause she scratches it. (again related to feet are used for walking) She seems to maybe be gaining weight again, but it is still early. She has come along way, but has more to go. Her feet are starting to look healthy and shiny at the top and I believe she has finally gained enough weight for the vet to come do her teeth.

More later.....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

All Good Things Come With Time...

When looking at Sam I hear my Grandmothers voice telling me "All good things come with time, if it is worth having it is worth waiting for." Truer words I am sure were never spoken, but it isn't any easier to wait now than it was when I was a child.

Sam seems to have reached a holding place in her weight gain. I am sure the 98 degree days have something to do with it but I believe it may be time to worm her again. We just may not have gotten all those little buggers with the first round. So Tomorrow Sam will receive another dose of wormer to get rid of her unwanted companions. I just want her to gain weight and look like the beautiful round horse I can see when I close my eyes. It is hard to be patient, and not get discouraged. I am sure she wants to go out to the big field with the rest of the herd, but that too will come with time. Over all she is doing very well.

She has definitely discovered that people mean something good to eat, and nice scratches on her withers. She has become Velcro when you are out in the field. It doesn't matter what you are doing. She wants to know, she has to see, smell, taste. She is never very far from you if you are inside the fence and if you are outside then she is carefully watching what you are doing and softly nickering her approval. She greets me at the back gate of the barn if she sees me coming, and if not just the call of her name brings a whinny and four pounding feet, as she runs to see you. I have never seen a horse so excited to see people before.

She has become very good for the standard checks, and no longer tries to kick if you touch her tail. Because here in Western Kentucky we have such a problem with ticks, it is a necessity that the horses are checked frequently for ticks in their manes, ears, and tail. She has just realized that it is for the best and doesn't get excited about it.

Her appetite is awesome! As I said before she has decided that people me an something good to eat. She is now eating 7 lbs of safe choice grain, and 2 lbs of rice bran, 2 oz Cocosoya oil, and 1 scoop of Pro-Bios a day along with her own private pasture. She does have company in her small pasture now. Rusty our 16 hand TWH Gelding has been recruited to keep her company until she is ready to join the herd. He however doesn't seem interested in her pasture and prefers to hang out under the oak tree. I am sure he does make his way out there but I so far haven't seen him. However, I did see them napping together under the trees. I was one of those moments that I would have given anything for a camera. Sam was standing hip shot under the oak trees with Rusty's neck draped over her back. He appeared to be asleep and she was dosing. I would have given anything if I could have caught that on film.

It looks like she is going to fit right in here at Southern Oak Stables. Before I know it she will be round, I just have to be patient.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Oh, What A Difference...

You know somewhere inside I have been waiting and wondering when she was going to wake up. I knew she couldn't be that sweet and willing. I knew it couldn't be this easy. What was I thinking?

As with everything else there is always some bad to go along with the good things in life. WELL let me tell you, Sam woke up. Her sweet beguiling ways lulled me into thinking this was going to be easy. HA! No such luck. Today was an interesting adventure and up until this point I had simply not challenged Sam, she hadn't been anywhere she wasn't supposed to be; she hadn't been bad so there was no reason to correct her. However, today I needed to work in the round pen with another young horse and that required Sam to stay out. Before I could get the one horse in (that didn't want to go) and close the gate Sam had taken up residence in the round pen. She had no intention of leaving, I tried shooing her out and that didn't work. I tried lightly driving her out and that is when it happened. SMACK!! her left hind foot connected with my right hip as she made her exit out the gate. Fortunately I was close enough that it was a light hit, but you would never know it from the bruise. :-0 I was stunned to say the least but nothing was injured but my pride. So I closed the gate and continued to work with the young horse who through all this was a perfect angel. She by the way was very good for her lesson on collection today. Only two moments of locking up. I was very proud of her. Now back to little miss light heels. After I finished with LGF(large gray filly)and put her away, I went back to collect Little Miss Light Heels and have a little lesson in ground manners. We went into the round pen and worked on yielding. She did really good and seemed to be picking up very quickly so I decided we would continue our lesson in the cross-ties. She was being a little lady, until I started brushing her mane, and it was like someone else took over. She threw the biggest hissy I have ever seen. So I politely removed myself from harms way and let her have her throw down kick the wall, fit. When she was finished she had busted her lip (not badly) and decided that wasn't getting her anywhere. I finished brushing her mane and tail gave her a treat, and some fly spray and turned her loose in her pasture.

Wow, is all I can say. This is going to be a real adventure for me. I feel sure that when we are finished she will be a respectable, safe, and sane horse. But the road to good manners is going to be a bumpy one I am afraid. Wish me luck.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Buffet...

Sam has been home three weeks now, and she is looking better everyday. She has graduated from her small pen, to the larger barn paddock that has grass but it is limited. This paddock is usually call the fat pasture for the horses that have hit the grass buffet a little hard; or in the spring for the two mares who are prone to founder. But Now she has her own small pasture with more grass than she can eat. She longs to be with the rest of the horses but is still not strong enough to defend herself against the herd pecking order.

She wasn't sure what to think of the opening where there had been a fence earlier in the day. She had been watching intently but wasn't sure what we were doing. She first stretched her neck through the opening to see if it was safe. The air might be different on that side. LOL I finally had to lead her through the opening and then down went her head and she stayed that way for a long time.

You can just see barely the weight she has put on. She is just a tad fuller looking but the shine on her hair is unmistakable.

She has turned into the sweetest thing. We have been working on her manners, and remembering my personal space. She has finally stopped trying to climb in my lap when something spooks her.

After a long period of grazing she decided it was time to play. I had noticed during the day that she was more lively, and feisty but when she had all the soft grass to run in wow did she turn loose. She played for about an hour, following around our only boarder when she was riding her horse. It was really the funniest thing because you would have though she was being ponied.

But you know being someones shadow is hard work and at the end of the day she was just exhausted. :-)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Ones Left Behind 2

A friend and I have been working to help find homes for the 5 horses and 2 ponies that were not seized with Sam's pasture mates. We had found a home for one of them and contacted the lady to make sure it was all a go on both ends. I was surprised to find out that a local man had come forward and adopted all 7 animals and would be picking them up on Saturday morning. He came to look at them and pick one or two and decided that he would just take them all to keep them together. So, the old mare, the gelding, the 2 young stud colts, the filly with the problem foot, and the two Shetlands have a new home.

I am relieved that they will all be kept together and are close enough to check on from time to time. It was very hard for her to finally let them go but she knows it is for the best.

Sam is doing wonderful and enjoying her small sparse pasture, which is more grass than she has seen in years. She will be getting her own new small pasture with lots more grass this weekend. I picked up the fencing supplies just a few moments ago. She is ready to graduate to real grass now that we are feel more comfortable that her stomach can handle it.

I am also going to update her pictures. She hasn't gained a lot of visible weight but I can tell she is fuller looking and her hair has a new shine to it. Her eyes are bright and she has some pep to her step when she sees a bucket. Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face.

Monday, June 2, 2008

This Must Be Horse Heaven...

You never have a camera when you need one! Yesterday during Sam's supervised yard turn out/hand grazing session in my back yard, she decided she wanted to roll. What makes this such a photo op lost is that she didn't just roll, she was multitasking. She laid down rolled a couple of times on one side, grabbed a couple mouth fulls of grass, and rolled a few more times, grabbed more grass, rolled over to the other sided, raised up in the curled up position shook her head and just stayed there grazing on what she could reach. Rolled some more, grazed some more and when she decided there wasn't anything else she wanted in reach, she got up shook off and strolled across the yard to the next luscious plot of grass that met her approval. My friend and I laughed because it was just way to cute to watch her enjoy the tender grass of the back yard. She has no interest in running wild, anytime you want to approach her she is totally fine with that. I believe she has finally decided that she has found the mother load of grass, and grain.

I really do wish I had gotten photos of her lounging and eating but as you know somethings are always just better in the memories.

Sad Update

I have sad news. One of the horses seized from the woman died Saturday night. A necropsy is scheduled to be preformed so I will know more later on the final cause of death. IMO, he was just to far gone to be saved. Again here is the Paducah Sun Article June 2 and June 3 if you would like to read the account.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Ones Left Behind

The farm where Sam has lived the last first part of her life was visited by the county last week. I am attaching Article 1 and Article 2 from the Paducah Sun so you can read them for yourself. I can't say I hate her for what she has allowed to happen, I can't say that I want her to go to jail. I can say that I am very angry that she didn't open her eyes and see what was happening. If the county is knocking on your door then someone, somewhere must be seeing something your not. Maybe your horses are not in as good shape as you think, and maybe you should ask for help.

She finally did ask for help but it was to late. I didn't have the time that was needed to find them homes, and they came and took them away. I worry about where they will end up, I am waiting for the phone call from the Animal Warden so I can tell him I have some potential homes. I worry that they will end up at the auction destination unknown.

I think she knew the days were getting short before the knock would come at the door. She did call me to bring home Sam; which I am eternally grateful for. I can't imagine how crazy I would be if she had been taken.

Friday, May 30, 2008

We're Graining Ground...

Sammy has been home one week now and more has happened than just her finding out how to eat grain. She has discovered she loves to be scratched, she loves standing in her stall and watching it rain instead of standing out in the rain. She has such keen hearing, why she can hear me pop the lid on the feed drum all the way out in the back barn, :-). She has discovered that she doesn't have to mug me for her feed that if she waits politely she will still get her share. She has learned that she doesn't have to attack her bucket the moment the grain hits the bottom, she can wait until I get the scoop out of the way, and she has gotten tons better about taking her wormer. The first three days was a wrestling match. Who knew such a small horse in such a weak condition could be so strong? I think I wore as much wormer as I got in her. LOL

Her weight is not obviously changing yet, but her spirit is soaring, her eyes are bright, and she is such a joy to be around. Her nicker is low and sounds so much like her mothers, but her whinny is trill, and so girly.

The vet says we must wait until she gains weight before we can work on her teeth and give her vaccinations. However this week we are going to begin learning our leading manners and confidence. It really is amazing how much she trusts me, but even at 580lbs, that is still allot of horse in your lap when she decides something is going to eat her. LOL So we must work on this. Fortunately she does remember how to stand in the cross-ties and we will find out this week if she remembers getting baths. I think it will be a nice treat for her to be scrubbed all over and be clean. So far she is very funny about walking in the mud so I think she would like to be clean.

Over the holiday weekend we had a fair amount of rain; enough to make her pen gooey. One of the mornings I flipped her hay into the doorway (where it was dry) because I didn't want to climb back over the rail. Well, right about that time Sammy received a visitor, so being a proud Mom, I climbed over and got Sammy to come out of her stall for her company. When she was finished visiting she went back to her hay of course. Well the funny part is instead of standing with her feet in the mud and eating, she stepped over her pile of hay back into her stall, spun around and went back to eating. I had to laugh, because she didn't want to stand in the mud. Sam has the makings of quite the little diva, LOL.

Stay tuned - I will post at least once a week with updates and as she gains weight, of course I will have to show her off. I will also try to make short posts to keep everyone up to date on her accomplishments in training. She is so smart that I expect lots of funny stories of her figuring out ways around what Mom wants her to do. LOL

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sammy Discovered Grain...

Saturday mornings feeding greeted me with a full bucket of mash from the night before. The new salt block still hasn't been licked, and the water bucket was still almost full. Frustration, worry, and confusion sets in. I dump out the now soured mash, and replace it with dry grain hoping that she just didn't like the mash, however, she still wasn't eating. A phone call to the vet later, he explained that she just may not know what to do with grain in a bucket, and the salt and water will come with time. He said just keep the bucket full and she will eventually start drinking.

As the day passed she picked at the safechoice grain, but I decided to add just a little sweet feed and maybe it would entice her more than the other. It definitely helped, but she still just picked at it. I left her with her hay, and grain for the rest of my barn chores.

As we prepared to leave for my daughters rodeo, I checked back to see if she had eaten her grain. She had cleaned her bucket and was nickering at me when I walked out of the barn to her pen. I of course gave her just a little more per her six meal schedule and noticed she had only a half of a bucket of water.

Relief. She is starting to figure it out. Now I know she is going to be okay