Murphy Monday: Four Years Old!

On May 5th, Murphy will be four years old!

Daisy and I went to see him on Friday.  He’s so huge I can barely get a grip on all that giagantic-ness.  I’m guessing he’s over 16hh.  He’s still the same sweet, easy going boy that plopped out on Day One.

One hour...
One hour…
1 week
One week
One Year
One Year
Murphy is THREE!
Two Years
Murphy is THREE
Four years!
We love you Daisy and Murphy!  Happy third birthday together.
We love you Daisy and Murphy!  (He’s huge. Daisy is 5’11”)

Happy fourth birthday together!

Happy Birthday Barbie!

This is Daisy’s mare, (and my niece) Barbie,  hopefully in order of age progression. She turned 8 years old on Sunday.

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Barbie is Murphy’s mom, for those just joining us.  She needed to be retired early, but shines on: she is a wonderful mother.  This is a mare you’d want to have a foal by.  She was very strict with Murphy, saving humans a lot of work, which is probably partly why his manners have remained decent into the terrible two’s.

She’s one of my favorite horses of all time.  I just love this horse. Barbie is an eye magnet.  You can’t help but want to watch her.  (Stare, produce cookies, groom, hug, massage, dream….)

Happy Birthday Barbie!

Murphy Monday: Almost a Year Old!

Murphy will be a year old on May 5th.  Can you believe it?

I am date challenged.  When he was born on Cinco de Mayo (Mexican Independence Day) I was relieved. I’d never forget his birthday.

Ha. I am completely capable of forgetting the most memorable date. Late one night, I saw a status update from Daisy on Facebook, noting Murphy was 11 months old. I immediately panicked, and tried to wish Daisy and Murphy a happy birthday on Cinco de April. When he was eleven months old. (That’s less than a year, FYI, if we have any other date-challenged people here.)

Daisy moved Barbie to the same facility once Murphy was weaned.  Princess Barbie has never been happier. Acres and acres of land to roam.  The barn owner found her rolling in the pond.  This is the horse that hated to get her feet wet. Clearly she’s modeling her new royal behavior after Princess Fiona from Shrek.

Princess Fiona
Princess Fiona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Barbie is relaxed and happy. Yeah, I have to say that twice: Barbie is relaxed.

It was almost too much of a shock for me.  I recovered quickly. Daisy strapped a feed bag of grain over Barbie’s head,  immediately annoying her. (There’s my niece!)  Very un-royal looking.  But it does keep her grain hers, and lessens her ability to fling it all over the pasture.

Once Barbie is munching away, we turn to the baby pasture.

Murphy is positive we made a mistake, and went into the wrong pasture:

It is instantly obvious someone has broken the rules about hand feeding the babies. We were mobbed.

We had no food.  Undeterred, they tried to root through our clothing, certain treats were hidden somewhere.

Even with two of us, a baby escaped, and Auntie Jane had to use The Mane Grab and Cheek Lock to drag the baby back in, so Murphy and Daisy could escape. Daisy was busily multi-tasking, keeping the rest of the pack herd in, while attempting a Navy SEAL level extraction.

Look, Auntie Jane! I’m old enough to shave!!!!

He should be shed out a little more by his birthday.  Hopefully we will have less shaggy baby photos…we might even get to see what color he will be.

He was very wiggly and antsy – unusual for him.  No good full body photos, I’m afraid.

But he’s still our gorgeous boy!

Murphy Monday: Winter Quarters

We’ve been enduring days that end up clear, sunny, and 50 + degrees.  Horrible, I know. How can we stand it? This morning was very chilly and damp, with heavy fog. (Then it turned clear, sunny, and 65 degrees.)

Winter is due to stop by this week for a meet and greet. A few showers. I hope it brings a hostess gift. Something for in front of the fire?

The foals have been moved to winter pasture: enough slant for drainage, but  no hills that might get mucky and slippery.

Today photos are in quarters also: Murphy was so cuddly and insistently affectionate, we could not get him far enough from the camera to get a decent full body photo. This is a kind of  body-parts photo shoot.

Daisy and I were much more about soaking up the affection than getting ‘good’ pictures. Below, Murphy looks up when he hears Daisy call him. I love that – if he can hear her – he comes when called.


Apparently in winter quarters, mobbing the humans is not a requirement.  Only Marilyn and Murphy mob Daisy.

Marilyn has appointed herself “Queen Murphy” and feels entitled to be in charge of all things Murphy-related. (Her Divine Blondness is named after the iconic movie star.)

Murphy growth perspective: Daisy is 5′ 11″.  Marilyn is a three-year-old.

Marilyn helped Murphy tremendously with the weaning adjustment.

It’s worth the few rounds of “flick the nose”  we have to do to engage her memory that humans are higher than Queens in the food chain, and may not be run over or imperiously commanded to leave Murphy alone.

A sweet, happy, in-your-pocket quarter…

When it’s finally time to go, Murphy takes Daisy’s departure easily, and walks back toward the other babies.  Marilyn stops to redirect his focus when he looks back. He’s on higher ground, but their heights are not all that far apart.  I can’t help but wonder how much taller our 7 month old boy is going to get.

Daisy’s decided to move Barbie to the same facility.  Barbie will be in the brood mare pasture. It will make Daisy’s life a lot easier to go to one place instead of two.  The only foreseeable problem? Barbie is unlikely to come when called.

But this is why there are buckets and grain that rattles.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Murphy Monday: In Which Mt. Murphy is Climbed at the Endurance Barn of Our Dreams

Murphy is now at Sonoma Coastal Equestrian Center, aka the Perfect Endurance Barn.

Daisy dubbed the ‘hill’ up to the summer foal pasture: “Mt. Murphy”.

It’s not really a hill. It’s a stair master set to an incline of 10 and strewn with rocks.  A month of climbing that every day will whip the most out of shape rider into being able to ride two-point, no stirrups, for hours.

First, you have to hike down to the gate.  It’s an endurance barn: there’s no starting from the parking lot. You have to hike to the beginning.

We wheezed our way up the hill.

Note the big boulder on left: reference point. Also, so we have perspective on scale, those are  adult horses.

Above looks fairly level after the gate.  FYI, it’s not.

Below is looking back at the barn, before we hit the California live-oak lined section…

…that’s the section where the stair master hits 300,  and we want to flag down a Cable Car. (Totally worth the five bucks.)

Oops, sorry, I was hallucinating. Ran out of electrolytes.

We see this:

Continue reading “Murphy Monday: In Which Mt. Murphy is Climbed at the Endurance Barn of Our Dreams”

Murphy Monday: Murphy’s Big Adventure

In which Murphy is weaned, and travels to a new home.

Remember the endurance barn we scoped out for a friend? Daisy fell in love with it: deciding it was the best place for Murphy to grow up, turned out with babies close to his age. Acres and acres for him to build strong bones and tendons.

We’re anxious to see how Murphy made his first trip without mom. Dinero was pre-loaded to babysit. No one wanted Murphy scrambling around alone in the trailer.

I imagined Dinero looking over his shoulder at Murphy during loading: “Duuude…here…have some hay.  This is like total awesomeness: Road Trip!”

It worked. Murphy wasn’t even slightly warm, not a damp hair on his body. He wasn’t upset, anxious, or remotely difficult.  A little surprised, but calm.

Bella and Dinero walk Murphy up the hill to his new pasture. (Change is easier when you have company.)

A lot of company. Murphy travels with an entourage. (And paparazzi!)

The fog was so cold. Brrrrrr. We had about ten feet of visibility.

Team Murphy experienced a slight hiccup: the donkey came trotting out of the white stuff to greet him. Murphy got a teensy bit anxious, and asked if he could go back to the trailer now please.

It’s that way, right?  

Dinero stepped in to meet Penelope, modeling normal adult behavior for Murphy.

Poor Murphy.  It was a bit too much Meet and Greet on his first day of boarding school. He didn’t know what Penelope WAS. Plus she brought a young friend she had managed to break out.

With a little hauling around, and Dinero’s unruffled presence, we were soon on our way up the hill again. The loose baby was haltered, and removed, but Penelope had NO intention of being walked away from. Her Supreme Donkeyness was rather insulted.

The higher we went, the thicker and colder the fog became. By the time we got to the top of the hill (which we dubbed Mt. Murphy) you pretty much couldn’t see anything except what was right in front of you. But it does make for a lovely picture.

Murphy meets one of his new pasture mates.

Introductions went very well, with a minimum of posturing. There were a few herd dynamics to sort out, but they did it very politely, no hooves, no teeth. Some short chasing, some mean faces, some welcoming faces, and it settled into us knowing he was safe within ten minutes.

Meanwhile, Penelope is busy proving the long-eared maxim: God made donkeys at pocket height for a reason.

Dinero watched his tyke meld into the herd. He looked questioningly at Bella: Am I gonna have to babysit ALL of them?

You know, I can live with that. Food included?

Murphy was confused, but not panicked. He walked off into the fog for a bit, looking for mom.  Daisy went after him, to make sure he didn’t fall off the planet. (That’s what tule fog feels like.  Fall off the planet fog.)

He came back.  Looked bewildered.  Looked around into the white stuff.  Wondered why he was now on the wrong side of the fence.  All his people were on the other side.

You’re leaving…? Um. I think you forgot something…hellloooooo.

We left. He was quiet, thinking, trying to sort through all his new experiences.

The whole experience was as good as weaning gets.  A little anxiety, but no fear or panic, and no running around screaming.

Murphy knew he was okay.

My heart cracked a little: after all this change, he still knew he was safe.  Maybe uncertain about exactly what was going on, but he trusted his people.

That is a beautiful thing.

Celebrating Annie

This is the story of the life of Annie.

It’s also the story of what happens when a chain of people care, and make the effort to do the right thing.

It started with Kimberly, who noticed a dirty, scrawny, sick looking cat.  Kimberly worked for a year to gain the cat’s trust, which was remarkably difficult. She put food out for her daily, and kept trying. Kimberly and her husband Steve were finally able to catch the cat and take her to the vet.

The vet examined her and did tests:

The cat was:

  • about 15 years old
  • deaf
  • had thyroid cancer
  • had infected teeth

Kimberly and Steve opted to have her treated, with the goal of finding a forever home. (Kimberly is allergic to cats, and they have large boisterous dogs.  Not a good option for an elderly, deaf, recovering cat.)

The sick kitty was at the vet for a very long time. Kimberly and Steve paid for all of her treatment, which had to have been a massive vet bill.

Daisy received a mass email asking if someone could take a 15-year-old cat for the remaining weeks of her life. Daisy replied, and asked what the situation was.  (Read: the cat had a permanent home as soon as Daisy hit the ‘send’ button.)

Daisy named her after ‘Little Orphan Annie’.  The vet speculated that Annie had been cared for earlier in life, and was  dumped when she began having health issues.  Annie weighed 7 pounds when she left the vet’s office, was extremely shy, and almost instantly bonded to Daisy.

The cat who had weeks to live thrived under Daisy’s care. Instead of the steady decline the vet sketched out (as the likely scenario), her coat bloomed, she gained weight, and gradually began looking younger and younger.

Annie couldn’t stand for Daisy to be out of her sight, and followed her from room to room, no matter how exhausted she was. She slept on the bed, and would reach out a paw in the middle of the night to touch Daisy’s face: are you still there?

Daisy must have felt like a miracle to Annie: a person who loved her again.

Annie passed away a few weeks ago. She’d lived more than a year longer than predicted. She died plump, happy, loved, and bonded, instead of abandoned, uncared for, fearful, and uncertain.

Kimberly and Steve gave her the gift of a chance. Daisy gave her the gift of time, love, and healing. (On many levels.)

For Annie:

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Murphy Monday: Murphy’s Meet and Greet

It’s almost weaning time.

Murphy has a meet and greet with Uncle Melody.  If they like each other, Murphy might move in. There is no tension, just curiosity. Then…grooming…? Really? Strike that. Why am I surprised? Melody is calm, stable, gentle, and sharing on the ground. (In the air is another matter: he is his own flyer. Co-pilots must listen to HIM.) Murphy is still incredibly easy going.

Barbie’s opinion: Upset Premium Mare Over Here…Hellloooooo:

Murphy was about 30 feet away.

But he was touching noses with another horse! What if it’s not Melody? What if it’s a stranger that looks, sounds and smells like Melody? Did you think of that? HUH?!?

Barbie is highly intolerant of roommates. She’s a very independent mare. (Read: Everything In Sight Belongs To Me. Touch It And You Die.)

Murphy is her first bonded pasture mate. His weaning will be a double whammy for her: losing baby, losing a pasture mate she’s hooked up with.

Daisy has been highly conscious of this, and doing a thorough think-through of what might be the best way to wean him, given both their natures, circumstances, resources, proximity, etc. She’s run it by her vet, trainer, very experienced friends.  She’s such a good horse mom.

To begin the weaning process, Daisy has been regularly walking Murphy out of his mom’s sight (He’s fine, she melts down) and returning him.  Stretching the time longer and longer. They’re both dealing with it normally, and relaxing into further distances and longer times. When she takes Barbie out and walks her out of sight – leaving Murphy alone in the pasture – Barbie walks away without a second glance, or an ounce of concern: he’s home, he’s safe.

Moving in with Uncle Melody might be a perfect first step. Barbie will be able to see and hear Murphy, she knows Melody, and he would be a good babysitter.

It would give her time to adjust emotionally, without dropping a couple hundred pounds. Barbie has the kind of metabolism that enrages supermodels: she eats like a draft horse, and barely keeps her weight up.  (You would not believe how much extra Daisy feeds her, on top of the all-day food the barn supplies.)

Murphy hit another growth spurt.  I think he grew 6″ this week.  For physical reference:

Daisy is 5’9″ tall, and Melody is plain huge.

Murphy is also less into rump cuddling and back draping. Sniffle, sniffle.

Saturday was so beautiful. We plopped down on top of the leftover all-day-hay, and watched Murphy Vision. Who knew watching horses chew could be so relaxing? (Oh that’s right. We all did.)

I think we need to install hammocks in the paddock.  Murphy Vision all day, a book, a cooler full of beverages, a few Zzzzz’s.

Perfect. Day.