Poop: the Gold Standard of Friendship

Walking up to Hudson’s paddock I see Bella.

“Did I go too far?”‘ she asks, “TMI?”.

“I don’t think so…?”, I reply, mentally scrolling through our recent interactions.
“Because I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about?” (The “huh?” reply: a good indicator that all is well in a friendship.)

“I sent you a picture of Hudson’s poop.”, she says.

I throw my arms around her, choking on sobs of relief and gratefulness.

She barely fends me off. “No Jane! I woke up with a cold.” Aw, sniffle sniffle, she doesn’t want me to catch it. She’s such a good friend. I pull myself together before I start sobbing about what a good friend I have. (Um. It was a rough week?)

Instead, I say, “I didn’t get the pic, but it means a lot that you sent it”.

We both turn and stare at Hudson, source of poop and human bonding.

His ears prick. The thought bubble over his head clearly calculates: mom plus former mom equals FOOD. He swivels an ear to alert Woodrow to pay attention. Woodrow lifts his head swiftly, and begins to amble carefully down the muddy hill, eyes on the ground, ears on us, nostrils testing the air quality for any hint of a treat.

It hits me, how refined the tools are that horses use to “see”. It’s…so cool.

Hudson’s had digestive issues. For the non-horsey, this isn’t like a human having digestive issues. It’s more like a human nicked an artery, and you’re doing everything you can to repair the problem and prevent the nick from widening, so the human doesn’t bleed out.

While he looks fantastic, his teeth weren’t doing the whole chewing hay properly thing, as his other end so aptly reported. Woodrow needed his teeth checked as well, so off to the dentist they went. (Hudson is missing a tooth, which can throw off his bite, floating wouldn’t be sufficient.)

Knowing they would both be slightly worse after the dentist (sore mouths aren’t going to chew better, even if the teeth are capable, and there’s the anesthesia, which slows gut motility) we were prepared to up their ration of easily digestible pellets.

It’s true: horse people are all veterinarians-in-training.

We hand walk them to get their guts active, and help move the anesthetic out of their systems.

They both needed Bute (Aspirin, for our non-horsey) to eat even the mushy pellets. Bute can upset the stomach. So can an empty stomach combined with pain. So can a stomach coming out of anesthetic. Tricky.

This is the start of the Jane Is Worried Sick week. I believe worrying before it’s necessary will prepare me for future events. I blame this on the Girl Scouts. (I took “Be Prepared” a bit too seriously.)

Every day brought about tweaks to the get-normal program. More pellets, less Bute, etc. Finally, I hit on Hudson’s magic balance: adding dry bran, upping pellets even more, and feeding insulting him with a slurry of aloe juice and powdered slippery elm bark.

(Probably time passing had a lot more to do with it, but I need to believe I helped.)

Bella and I took turns checking on, walking, and feeding the boys twice a day. Woodrow was digesting better, but had a much more difficult time with pain and the after effects of sedation and dental work. He took it very hard. It showed up in whole-body muscle spasms.

As he recovered, I’d send photos of him happily rolling, or bucking, and send them to Bella at work: look how much better he feels this morning!

And Bella took a picture of a decent poop, and sent it to me, knowing it was my relief-equivalent of seeing a good buck.

Does it get any better than a friend who sends you a photo of poop?

Nope. Golden.

How about you?

Spring Turkeys and Other Oddities of Hope

Spring does something to me. I am suddenly leaking a crazy sort of hope (whether I lacked it or not), now that Spring is here. Everywhere I look, I see evidence of insane hope. Exhibit A: turkeys shown above.

  • Turkeys lose all sense. (Not that there was that much to begin with.) Above male turkeys were showing my car what incredibly smart and powerful mates they would be for a Chevy. Because, obviously, my car is looking for a turkey to mate with, not run over.
  • The effect of GRASS on equine impulse control. Can you imagine living in a house carpeted with chocolate? Lush and reproducing, as far as the eye can see? I’d be swan diving mouth-first to the ground too.
  • Plus, properly lush, plump, grass makes the most adorable squeaky noise when horses masticate. It’s a million tiny tennis shoes on the gym floor when they chew. SO cute.
  • I feel an feverish surge of hope when cherry blossoms pop and explode into bloom overhead. How can life be anything but perfect, when cherry blossoms exist?
  • (Give this one a few months, that particular hope is usually popped by the hat-pin of binkini season.)

  • Taxes! The’re done. Early. Therefore we will get money back! It doesn’t matter that the software package indicated we’d be paying a huge amount this year. We did it way ahead of schedule. Now we just wait for the money!!
  • Nothing says ‘Hope’ more than biting the ears off chocolate bunnies.
  • Yeah yeah, there’s the usual: flowers, color, scent. But more importantly, all the home improvement stores are having SALES. With stuff we need. Like driving mowers for our lawn. The lawn that is basically the size and shape of two lounge chairs placed end to end.
  • Sticky mud. That makes me jump up and down and do a happy, boot-sucky dance in the paddock. Sticky is the last mud stage before dry.
  • Condiment renewal. It’s that time of year we being to dream of firing up the grill. Lee-Lee volunteers to do the spring condiment expiration date-check and toss. Then we go shopping for NEW condiments!
  • Meat: $5
    Condiments to disguise the taste of meat? Priceless. (Fine: $35)

    What are your signs of insanity, I mean, Spring HOPE?

    (Please excuse any blogging glitches while I attempt to learn how to post from an iPad. Spring break also means four people vying for computer time.)

    In Which We Meet Woodrow, and See Bella’s Magic

    Woodrow is Bella’s new roping prospect, and Hudson’s new roomate.

    Below, Woodrow is right off the trailer.  The photo angle is a bit funny.  A few groceries wouldn’t hurt him, but his real issue is serious lack of muscle tone.  He’s wasn’t as thin as he appears in this picture. Overall, he looks older than his actual age.

    Stepping back, before I snapped the pic, I thought: wow, nice lines, it will be interesting to see him after a few months with Bella. He’s going to look younger than his age!

    Bella is a genius at bringing horses into bloom and condition. I asked her if she had any tips she’d like to share, and she answered with true good horsemanship: “Sure! Uh. I just do my thing?” Pause. “Whatever they need.”

    Translation: each horse is an individual. She starts with quality food, adds any supplements that the horse might need, has him checked by the farrier, and then starts conditioning.  It’s a simple plan.  Stop, Look, Listen, Respond. When pressed for conditioning tips, she says strengthening the back muscles is her number one priority. Her horses have to move out round, lifting their backs. Makes sense to me.

    Being at a barn with a lot of Arabians, I rarely see a such a splendid Roman nose!

    Only three weeks of specific supplement/food mix and careful exercise later…

    He’s a hunk!

    The after photos were taken was in mid-January. We’re waiting for his winter coat to blow out before taking the Super Hunk after-photo.

    Awesome how the right amount of work and the right kind of feed can put bloom back on a horse. In three weeks.

    Conditioning, it’s an art form.

    Welcome, Woodrow!

    Our New, Improving Blog, with Emergency Post Button…

    It’s time for spring blog cleaning!

    I prefer to think of it as a proactive, energized, boots-on-the-ground, guerilla cleaning.

    Fine. I’m just antsy and rearranging the widgets, hanging new wall paper, and possibly updating pages that might be, um, slightly out of date. Like the “Mommy” page. Um. Barbie had the baby. (Murphy Mondays, anyone?) He’ll be a year old on May 5th. Is it too soon to take down the pics of him in her tummy?

    Jane’s Cool Idea

    I’ve wanted to add this for a while.  See the big red emergency button on the right?

    (You can push above button, but it won’t do anything. Try the one in sidebar.)

    Press it, and be surprised by a random post.  An even bigger surprise? We never know when Jane will update the button. It might not even take you to a post from TLH: it could take you to any random thing we liked in that second! Time travel! Internet travel! Anywhere-But-Here travel! Shoes! Handbags! A two-for-one on toothpaste! (Okay, maybe not.) The possibilities are endless.

    Some coming blog updates:

    Dinero has gone back to his forever owner, to retire on the giant cattle ranch where he spent his life learning to rope competitively, and work cows.  He began showing some arthritic changes: time to stop roping.  Bella is not a “Bute ’em and Use ’em” kind of girl.

    We’re going to officially meet Woodrow, Bella’s potential roping horse: he’s Hudson’s new roommate.  For that matter, it’s way past time for the bios of Bella and Alice to be up.  Like…years…?

    Oh, I remember…  Last year, there were these space aliens?  And I ran out of tinfoil? So I had to fight them off with Sharpie highlighters (they can’t take the dayglo colors) and try to win them over with cake, which of course they loved.  I sent the recipe with them back to Xytozgth.  Peace through frosting. Anyhow, that didn’t leave a lot of time for keeping up with much besides posting, and we know how THAT has gone.

    And I’m fairly certain they wiped my short term memory, which would explain the car keys I found in the fruit drawer of the fridge…

    Impatience is a Good Thing…

    …when it allows you to drop the reins, film your horse, and claim he’s being gentlemanly.

    Open, closed, if it’s in his way, it bugs him. He’ll close the arena gate as we pass by if it was left open, and is blocking the line on the rail.

    Oh Hudson, how I love thee!

    Ah, Spring.

    So far, this has incited Hudson into two jail breaks.

    #1: After getting shoes. He has a most excellent farrier, Dane, who offered to return him to his paddock (probably so I’d stop hanging around trying to look busy, neither of them need me to be present) when done being shod.

    I go to the feed store.

    An hour later, Laurie spots them surreptitiously grazing in an inconspicuous spot quite close to their paddock. They think we won’t notice the lack of fencing in front of them. Laurie said both their attitudes were something like this: “No no, we’re fine. We’re supposed to be here.  Just grazing.  Near our paddock.  See? There’s a fence.”

    #2: Bella steps out her back door in time to see Hudson pick the lock on the main gate, setting himself and Woodrow free.  This gate is closed with a horse-proof carabiner type clip. We still don’t know how he managed this feat.

    I generally have to fuss with it to get it open. It’s a clumsy operation.

    Hudson and Jane are back on the ouchy-achey road to fitness. Six weeks off of Real Riding might as well be a year for me.  I don’t have even half an Ab left. My inner thighs are sore from posting for ten minutes.

    (Oh, the SHAME…I mean, um, it’s so, uh, good to be reminded of what beginning riders have to go through…)

    You may  have to put up with less than stellar blogging as my brain takes the ouchy-achey road back to thinking…

    (FYI, I missed you guys a LOT!)

    In Which We Ignore Armchair Psychology and Go For the Frosting

    Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall……does this horse make my butt look small…?

    Our relative sizes fuels my denial, so I can continue to use frosting for comfort. Who wouldn’t look small next to that engine? I’m not sure if I am sabotaging my desire to fatten up, or sabotaging my desire to slim down: I’m hitting the gym, as well as the frosting.

    Now, we will bore you with a simile or an allegory. I can’t remember which is which:

    A number of years ago, Shaun wandered out into our verdant backyard with a glass of iced tea, where she found me kneeling  next to a flower border, trowel in hand, smeared with dirt, and laughing like a lunatic.

    For most people, this would be a signal it’s time to hear their mother calling. But Shaun is braver than most people.

    “Do I want to know why you’re laughing?”, she says, sipping her tea.

    “Yup”, I say, trying to contain giggles, absolutely convinced I’m SO FUNNY.

    Shaun makes a rolling motion with her hand: continue.

    “I just planted Ajuga next to Lambs Ears, in front of the Japanese anemones!!”  I double over in a new fit of laughter.

    Shaun considers this.  “And this is funny, because…?”

    Continue reading “In Which We Ignore Armchair Psychology and Go For the Frosting”

    In Which Jane Remembers Why the Real Horse is Better than the Dream Horse

    Before Hudson, I would go to Tiny when I was upset, and he would “hug” me. If I stood at his neck or shoulder, he’d try to bend his head and neck to wrap around my body.  Tiny’s affection saved me often. If I hung on  him, he’d drop his head over my shoulder and pull me toward his chest by pulling his head back.  He was amazingly smart and intuitive, and very willing to share his boundless affection. Horses are all different, but my experience has been they “get” sadness, and try to help. (I may also be living in Black Beauty World.)

    I leave the hospital determined to see Hudson.  A hug from Hudson will make it better.

    Helplessness is not a  useful feeling for me.  It leads me right into Train Wreck Thinking: helpless goes to hopeless, hopeless goes to powerless, powerless goes to (?) I’m a terrible human being.

    Yeah.  I don’t get it either.

    The weather mirrored my emotional state: driving rain, erratic shifts in the direction of the wind, with low visibility.

    By the time I got to the barn, my train wreck was in full dramatic rending and crashing.

    I step out of the car. It’s freezing cold, and the storm seems to have intensified.  I fill the boy’s grain buckets, and hike up to their shelter. It’s unexpectedly cozy inside.  It’s only two and a half sides, but it’s quiet, dry, and wind-free.

    I dole out buckets, and check under-blanket temperatures.  They’re fine.  Toasty.

    I walk up to a chewing Hudson, and plunk my forehead on his shoulder. I sob.

    Hudson looks at me with mild alarm:  Okaaaaay. 

    He doesn’t move, but his body  weight shifts away from me.

    Oh. I’m bugging him.  Maybe it’s  the weird forehead plunk? Surely he’ll comfort me.

    I do a more normal thing: I stand at his shoulder and gently lean my shoulder against his. I want to crawl under his blanket. I continue to sob, leaning on him.

    Hudson scoops a huge amount of grain into his mouth, so he can chew and consider me without having to reach down again.

    “It’s just hard”, I say. “I have all these feelings.”

    His ears swivel. Grain dribbles out of his mouth, and he tries to catch it with his lips: the big wad of grain remains safe behind his clamped teeth. Talented horse.

    “I don’t want to keep bugging my friends”, I say, “and I can’t stop crying, I thought talking to you would help.”

    Hudson doesn’t have a clue what I’m saying. But I am convinced horses can read our emotional intention.  I wait for my “hug”.

    Instead, this happens:

    Continue reading “In Which Jane Remembers Why the Real Horse is Better than the Dream Horse”

    In Which We Slink Back to our Blog and Hope No One Noticed Our Absence…

    With thanks to Daisy, who righted the world for me.  Again.

    I have not been funny.  I’ve had the emotional equivalent of Ebola. I not only had nothing funny to share, I was afraid I would infect the blog. Caution: I may still be Not Funny.

    We had a medical crisis in the family.  That’s what all the driving over the Golden Gate bridge was about: driving to the hospital.

    17 days is a long time for someone you love to be hospitalized. Especially for the sick person. But if we temporarily ignore the Sick Person…?

    This weird thing began to occur…

    Continue reading “In Which We Slink Back to our Blog and Hope No One Noticed Our Absence…”