Archive for November, 2009

Independent Living — Good Even For A Horse

I remember when my mom moved into a place that offered three levels of care: independent living, assisted living, and nursing-home care. It was her choice, and she moved into an apartment on the ground floor, proud of her status as “independent.” She made the move, however, for me and my brother, just in case she should begin failing and ever need the second (assisted) or third (nursing) levels of care. Fortunately she never did, though she did pass on within a couple of years of moving into this facility. I think maintaining her independence was paramount for her self respect and paid off in the long run.

Copper, at liberty outside my dining room window, telling everybody, "I rule!"

And so it is for Copper, my 32-year-old (coming on 33 now) Quarter Horse.

Copper has always been Mr. Man in our herd. Just about our favorite of all horses of all time, and for reasons too many to list here. But Copper has just recently gained a new lease on life. In fact a friend of mine, April, who has known him a long time and was helping me feed one evening this past week, asked: “Has our Copper gotten a little, ahem, attitude, recently?!”

Well, yeah. He has. Since the loss of our herd leader, Gabriel, and the addition of our new herd member, Lopeh, Copper is no longer at the bottom of the pecking order. And he keeps everyone reminded of that by putting Lopeh in her place whenever he feels like it. Mainly at feeding time, chasing her away from his new, private abode.

Which brings up the second reason he is feeling so full of himself. Copper now has, as mentioned above, a private area where he alone is fed. But the kicker is that this area has a gate that he, and only he, can manipulate to let himself in or out of. Complete with cow bells!  So he can be heard far and wide whenever he lets himself in, or out of, his private suite. Too cool!

Copper had such an area when we lived in Texas too (sans the cow bells, however), and he loved it there. It took me some time to figure out how to recreate the scenario here in New Mexico, mechanically speaking, but I finally struck on something I thought Copper could master. And master it he did, though it took him a few weeks.

So now Copper lets himself in and out of his private area any time he wants, and I can keep his feed bin full of hay and feed for him to eat any time he desires. Since he has hardly any teeth left in his head, eating all the time is a really good thing, and now no one has to worry that the two girls will scarf up his rations before he has a chance to even begin.

The best thing is that Copper has a new lease on life and is even sassier than he was before.

There really is something magic about being independent. If you don’t believe me, just ask Copper!

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IF YOU’D LIKE TO READ MORE ABOUT COPPER:

How To Be Robert Redford

Out of the Mouths of Horses – Wise Words for us All

Copper is a Channel!

 

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Gratitude Trumps Adversity – Thanksgiving ’09 in Cerrillos, NM

My Darling Hannah and her adoring husband, James

An old and dear friend just wrote me that — “Gratitude Trumps Adversity” — in an email. She was referring to how thankful we all are that my daughter Hannah just sailed through a very serious emergency surgery with flying colors.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Spending time out of state with a friend with Stage IV cancer, almost losing one of my sweet older dogs, and burying one of my dear horses a week before Thanksgiving were but harbingers, I suppose, of even more to come. Sunday found me and my son-in-law rushing my daughter to the emergency room. Three days later finds her in post-op after major surgery to remove a huge hemorrhaging tumor (non-malignant, thank the Lord), and everyone near and far who loves her in an extreme state of gratitude.

I’ve always said that forgiveness is one of the main acts and emotions that can open the heart. It’s not easy to achieve, and one can’t make it happen. It has to come when it’s ready, and it has to come from the heart. When it happens for real, you know it. You can feel it.

Gratitude is a little different, and I think the word “trumps” is perfect to use with it. Gratitude takes precedence. When you are in a state of gratitude so many things become minor. Even when maybe they’re not. It’s like being thankful for the flat tire you had that made you late to work, when, if that hadn’t happened you probably would have been part of the 40-car pile-up on the interstate. Things like that.

We don’t often feel gratitude until “later.” After the fact of something major having happened that could have been much worse. Or after we are able to “see” the truth of a matter. But when it floods in it is such a blessing, and it puts so many things in life in perspective.

I am rolling and reveling in gratitude this week, and it feels wonderful. It is like a natural high. And the gratitude I feel for my daughter’s successful surgery has heightened my feelings of thanks for everything else in my life. I am inspired to take my gratitude and share it, by spreading it around — to donate more of my time, services, and resources to those in need.

Today is Thanksgiving, in the truest sense of the word in our house. There is so much we take for granted. I hope you do not have a life-threatening emergency to remind you of all you have to be thankful for, but do take a moment to count your blessings, and to share them with others in any way you can.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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A FEW MORE THOUGHTS ON GRATEFULNESS:
Appreciation is the Name of the Game

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Head of Horse Security Uncovers Iraqi Assassination Plot

AND ON THE LIGHTER SIDE . . .

The following intelligence report was filed several years ago by Head of Horse Security, Undercover Agent U.S. Marshal Jones (aka a paint horse named “Scout”), at my ranch in Hunt, Texas. Said report uncovers an insidious plot to do away with second-in-command Secret Agent Mr. Finch (aka “Indy,” a Thoroughbred). Both, ahem, agents belong to my friends, the Joneses, who live in Austin on Lake Travis, and the horses, I mean agents, were spending the summer with me when this report was filed. (The supposed poisonous “powdered substance” mentioned in the report was really free-choice minerals. And apparently I, the keeper of this blog, am the supposed chicken-with-her-head-cut-off. Just to give you a little context …)

INTELLIGENCE REPORT

26 MAY 2003

FROM:     UNDERCOVER AGENT U.S. MARSHAL JONES – IN THE TEXAS WESTERLANDS

TO:       CHERRY SPRINGS RANCH HEADQUARTERS, LAKE TRAVIS SECRET TRAINING CENTER, ALL POINTS INBETWEEN

SUBJECT:  ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION OF SECRET AGENT MR. FINCH

Undercover Agent, U.S. Marshal Jones, AKA "Scout"

Now that I am no longer under cover, I respectfully submit this complete report on the goings ons I have discovered on this particular tour of duty. Since, due to my outstanding service, I am going on a mini-sabbatical for several weeks, it is imperative this report be processed by all concerned in a timely manner.

Late this very evening, I discovered a mysterious powdered substance, in two extremely unusual cup-like devices, hanging near the west water trough. This is the area where myself and my assistant, Mr. Finch, are posted during certain hours in order to keep a lookout on that side of the ranch while the horse herd* (*I use this term loosely, but that’s another story) eats. This is a highly classified and protected area, so nobody else goes in there.

I of course made this discovery immediately upon entering the restricted area for watch duty during dinner and realized immediately what was going on. The apparatus containing said substances had cleverly been installed on the very top rung of the post fence surrounding our operations, with the obvious thought that only the ungainly  Mr. Finch, who is quite tall, I must admit, could reach into it. Now, as you all know, Mr. Finch has always been considered extremely dangerous, has gone by several aliases (most recently “Indy,” the racehorse, which cover failed miserably), and there have been several previous attempts to undermine his life, if not end it altogether. Now that I know him, I realize he is little more than a gangly and fairly unskilled agent with little training in a horse suit, but we have developed a certain rapport and have learned to work together fairly well. He is an excellent assistant, as he is very easy to manage. He has, since being on this current tour of duty, also developed the ability to manage the herd* (*see above) while I am standing in the corner keeping watch on the east pasture, where I have to admit, I do sometimes nod off. He can actually make some of the herd* members move their feet now. But I’m getting off the subject.

Once I discovered the offending substance, I of course took immediate action. First I arched my beautifully muscled neck. Oh. This is one reason I was given my most recent cover of “paint horse,” because of my outstanding musculature and development. The pet name of Scout was of course very demeaning, but it was also part of the plan because I was, of course, working in the background for a period of time so had to ferret out dangerous circumstances (more on that later). I must admit I am glad, however, to be rid of that particularly silly moniker. Back to my neck. Pulling myself up to full height, with arched neck, I was able to carefully reach into the dangerous installation device with my top lip (now you must picture my entire bottom jaw and lip on the outside of the apparatus, which positioning was highly adept and crucial to the success of this mission). I then with great precision was able to scoop the offending powders up the near side of the device and into the lower mouth parts, clamp the mouth shut and suck them into my gut. I proceeded this way with great focus until every granule of substance was removed. I gave no thought to my own peril; only to that of keeping Indy  -– I mean Mr. Finch (see, I’m still in character), safe and totally unexposed to this assuredly harmful substance. Because of my extremely fit body (see above), I have suffered no ill effects. But I’m sure he would have succumbed and probably been writhing in death throes by now if I had not intervened.

While I was engaged in this mission, the CEO of the place, who is really just a figurehead, but that’s another story, came rushing around and tried to lower the device, as if she was trying to act like it was nothing dangerous at all, but something that she had put there on purpose for our benefit. I think she may be in on some of the odd things that go on out here, but I’m not really worried about it because most of the time she just runs around like a chicken with her head cut off. But as I said, that’s another story. Except about chickens. One of our more important undercover agents, Ruthie, who is currently disguised as a hen, and who carries a very important implanted electronic homing device, almost got drowned in the east water trough tonight by one of the four young roosters (actually, I believe, teenage Iraqi terrorists in training, but of course the CEO doesn’t know this—I mean it’s SO obvious…), who was trying to make it with her on the edge of the water trough. The CEO came rushing over, hysterically flapping a stupid little feed bucket at him, which he did fall backwards off the water trough from, but still……….if she would just let me into that east pasture like I keep telling her to, all these kinds of things would be taken care of. (The east pasture is also the infirmary, but that’s another story.) In fact, this entire place is a whole nother story. You know it’s set up to look like a harmless single woman on a ranch with her horses, (ahemmm…..). So actually, come to think of it, it is a pretty good cover for what is going on here. Which I will be figuring more out about while I’m on “sabbatical.” (Ha! They think!)

Other, more mundane and routine topics will be covered in a separate report:  like about my glass eye surveillance device, which I use whilst riding in disguise in the horse trailer to patrol the pathways between our headquarters here at the ranch and those at the reconnaissance pilot’s  Lake Travis Secret Center in Austin. Meanwhile, the role of my guardian, the pilot’s supposed wife, who has also had several other disguises, including mother and teacher, fits perfectly into our cover. (She is currently also on another undercover assignment posing as a musician, I am proud to say.) And she’s the one who helped me keep the cover of “Scout” while I exposed the development conspiracy of the lands above the lake, behind the Lake Travis Secret Training Center, all of which came to nought with our intervention.

But that’s a whole nother story.              Over and out.

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A Mustang’s Goodbye

Gabriel & Bella

In the wild a Mustang herd always has one alpha stallion and one alpha mare. Although the mare can be “stolen” by a competing stallion, the stallion-mare bond is very strong.

I saw that borne out yesterday when we had to say goodbye to our small herd’s alpha male gelding, Gabriel. Gabriel was a big Warmblood rescue who was with me for ten years after an already cataclysmic life full of accident after accident. His days have been numbered since he was two years old, so the fact that he made it to 18 is a miracle.

But Gabriel’s time had come, and he was clearly suffering, so yesterday was the day.

Bella, my Mustang mare, was very bonded to Gabriel. He in fact tried his best to mount her from time to time, even with all his physical handicaps. As strong as she herself is, he was her leader and could do no wrong, and she adored him.

We had Gabriel way out in the pasture when the vet gave him the injection that would help him sail peacefully away. Bella was closed in the corral up at the barn with her other two herd mates. I had talked at length to her about Gabriel’s departure and felt she understood, but what happened next made me really wonder.

We were well out of sight and hearing of the barn, but when Gabriel’s big body hit the ground Bella let out a shrill whinny. Bella never whinnies. She squeals, she groans and grunts, she even growls, but I have hardly ever heard her whinny.

I immediately dispatched the friend who was with me to go open the corral gate. Bella came roaring out like a big black freight train (she weighs 1500 lbs.) — we could hear her before we could see her. And when she came into view I could tell she was furious. In fact the vet said he would retreat far away from Gabriel’s body because he feared Bella would associate him with what had happened and might want to harm hiim.  I withdrew with him, to a distant grouping of scrub junipers, so we could give Bella some room and time to do whatever she needed to do.

Bella tore off in a big circular pattern around Gabriel’s body, about 100 feet out, alternately at a huge trot or intermittently galloping with her chin tucked into her chest — you could feel the anger pouring off her. We could only watch in awe as she circumscribed what seemed to be an area of protection all around Gabriel, making sure there was nothing near him to harm him.

Once she had finished the circle and let off her initial fury and frustration, she finally approached Gabriel’s body, quietly and respectfully. I then joined her in an effort to share our grief together. She sniffed him only once at that point, and let out one anguished squeal.

The vet said he had never witnessed a display quite like this before. He felt it was clearly Bella’s wild heritage exerting itself and wished he had been able to make a video of it to show to young vet students in order to impress upon them how deeply losing a member of the herd can effect the others.

Bella stayed close to Gabriel until it was time to bury him. I tried to show her that would not be something she would want to watch and, amazingly, she quietly walked back up to the barn.

It was feeding time when we finished burying Gabriel and, for the first time in her life that I know of, Bella would not go in her stall to eat and had little interest in her food. She finally ate most of it, with her new herd mate, Lopeh, eating quietly nearby, then she went back to the pasture and spent the evening roaming the area, occasionally whinnying for her lost love.

And that is where we found her this morning too, though she did come on in to eat finally. Afterward, she and I walked back out to where Gabriel had last lain, and she still checked the air and looked toward the distant mountains to see if she might catch sight of him.

Our herd has lost two other male members since Bella joined it, and she has never even seemed to notice. But her grief over losing Gabriel is awesome, her actions magnificent and terrifying.

We are all very relieved that our dear Gabriel is no longer suffering, and that he can finally find rest from his long and difficult life, but we are now grieving as much for Bella as for him and will be putting all our efforts in the next days and weeks to help her, and ourselves, adjust to such a tremendous loss.
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YOU CAN READ MORE ABOUT GABRIEL HERE, AND MORE ABOUT BELLA HERE. AND MORE ABOUT HOW MUSTANGS ARE DIFFERENT HERE.

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That Mustang Thang!!!

You know what I’m talking about if you are a Mustang devotee. Once you really know a Mustang, you’ve definitely been had — in a good way. Other horses just don’t quite compare.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have several other types of horses, and I adore each and every one of them. But there are just certain things about my Mustang Bella that have me totally captivated.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot these past two weeks because I’ve brought in a new rescue Quarter Horse mare who looks like she’s going to be a real gem. And she has a personality very similar to Bella’s.

And there the similarity ends!

In spite of the fact that this 8-year-old mare has been essentially running wild for the last 4 years as a brood mare, bearing at least 3 babies during that time . . . and in spite of the fact that we couldn’t even walk up to her when we first brought her home without her panicking and jumping away from us . . . she has, in two weeks, turned into a total pussycat.

Her obvious good breeding and early training became apparent after a mere 4 days of consistent handling, and she passed her first farrier visit with flying colors today. She has impeccable ground manners and will do just about anything to please. Including standing on her head  if one has a treat at hand. Well, I’m exaggerating a bit there, but her food obsession will obviously be to our advantage in her in future training.

And why do I mention all this? Because, after an incredible foundation in training and mileage, and in spite of a desire to please me, Bella still does everything on her own terms. She loves treats too, but would never stand on her head for one. She is not nearly as easy to lead as the new mare, or even to move around. In fact, she has a reputation for being the original “immovable object.” She takes a ton of leg when riding her, and if she decides she doesn’t want to do something she simply stops, dead cold.  Stuff like that.  I could go on, but you probably get the idea.

And yet, Mustang Bella is my be-all/end-all, my cat’s meow. She is what floats my boat and blows my skirt up. And I think it’s because she, like all Mustangs, possesses an amazing sense of self and self-preservation. She has extremely high integrity and gives respect back to those who respect her equally.

"Lohpe," short for Penelope

Our new mare, “Lohpe,” will become a valued and beloved member of

our

family, I can already tell. We will adore her for her gentle and giving nature and hopefully many unseasoned riders will benefit from her flexible spirit.

"Bella," the Cat's Meow

But Bella will remain the queen and reign supreme over our small herd. She knows her place and understands her role. And yet, at the same time, she treats me as her foal. Really. She does.

Stuff gets done largely on Bella’s terms …. but she is my obsession.

My Mustang Bella rules.

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HERE’S ANOTHER POST ON HOW MUSTANG ARE DIFFERENT:

How Are Wild-Captured Mustangs Different From Our Domesticated Breeds?

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Can Blue-Green Algae Make an Animal Smarter?

smart poodleThis is a good question. And not to be taken lightly.

As all my animals are on some form of super blue-green algae, I may not be the best source for an opinion, but my guestimate answer is “yes,” blue-green algae can make an animal smarter.

Now “smarter” may not really be smarter per se, as in terms of I.Q. But what I’ve noticed is that my animals who are on this super food, blue-green algae, are more “with it,” more alert, easier for me to tune in to and talk with, and … more reasonable when I need to negotiate with them about something like, ahem, eating s ___ out of the cat box for instance. For lack of a better way to say it, it’s just like they can think better.

And thinking better is a really big deal. At least in my world it is, since I am an animal communicator. The better an animal can think, the better we can talk. Hence, the better we can work through all kinds of problems, be they what kind of food they would like, what kind of behaviors their person would like them to change, or how their physical pain might be ameliorated.

A case in point is the new rescue mare I brought home 10 days ago. We are now calling her Lope, short for Penelope and pronounced LOH-peh. Of course I put her on super blue-green algae immediately. And turned her in with my other three horses on her second day here, largely because I had communicated with them about her plight and because I trusted them to be gentle with her. One nearby horse friend was shocked, saying she never turned a new horse in with her herd for 30 to 90 days. But I knew all would go well, and it certainly has, largely, I feel, because my horses heard my plea. And, of course, I think that’s largely because they can think better, which is assuredly in part because they’ve been on this super powerful brain food, blue-green algae, for years. They understand everything I tell them.

But back to Lope. Obviously she had not been on anything like blue-green algae … ever, as she had been living in a wild-herd situation. But within days of her starting on it I could feel her ‘hearing’ me very well when I would tell her something. And then I began getting messages back from her as well.

For instance, Lope was extremely head shy when I first brought her home. You couldn’t even lift your hand toward her head or face without her quickly jumping away from it. She showed me she had been lassoed in order to be caught so she was scared to death of things coming toward her head. I told her this would never happen again. She got it, quickly. Now I can walk up to her and easily reach up and stroke her or catch her.

Today I started working on her body more, scratching back along her flanks. When I scratched down toward the girth area she freaked out, jumping away again and showing me that she had been girthed up way too tightly there in the past (before her broodmare herd days), AND that she was ticklish!!! What a surprise! I mean, who woulda thought?! So please, she showed me, no scratching in that area, just flat-hand massaging.

This kind of amazing dialog coming from a horse who’s just come in from virtually running wild for years as a brood mare is not the norm. But I swear it’s possible, especially if you do something like start feeding them a powerful nutrient like blue-green algae.  Granted, I’m so accustomed to the miraculous effects of this super food that I can’t even imagine doing things with my animals without it, and yet I am always amazed when I see new proof of its impact on an animal or person who has just begun eating it.

So whether you have a new rescue horse you’re trying to get to know or just want to think better yourself, do yourself and your animals a favor and try some of this amazing stuff. You can read more about it and order it HERE.

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AND HERE ARE A FEW OTHER BLOG POSTS ABOUT THE ALGAE YOU MIGHT LIKE TO READ:

What’s the Big Deal About Blue-Green Algae?

How Blue-Green Algae Helped Heal My Allergies

Is Your Pet’s Food Making Him Sick?

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Old Friends

DSCN3327

" THE CANARIES " - CANDY, PHYLLIS, ANNE, LETA - 30 years later

 

 

This post really has nothing to do with animal communication or animals, but 30 years ago someone did dub me and 3 of my friends the “canaries,” because we chirped so incessantly when together.

We are a foursome who used to meet at least once a week to compare notes on life, babies, jobs, husbands, and … hair. Hair always came first, perhaps to table the more serious matters of life and focus on fun and frivolous doings. “When did you cut your hair?!” or “Oh, I LOVE your hair that color!” were typical of frequently and enthusiastically spouted exclamations when we would come together at a local bar, restaurant, or in one of our homes. Even if somebody had just gone through a divorce, hair was usually the first topic covered. Kind of embarrassing to admit now, but it was just part of our culture at that time. In fact I now have an acronym to describe us, based on our names: Candy, Leta, Anne, Phyllis:  CLAP … or … “Canaries Laugh and Play!” That’s what we did, to the hilt.

One of us in this picture now has cancer, a very serious form of Stage IV cancer, so this past week all four of us reunited for the first time  in at least 30 years. I flew in from out of state. Another drove five hours to reach our destination. Blessedly, my brother had offered his spa-like, six-acre property on the lakefront for the 48 hours we would be spending together, so we came together in what was literally an unreal Shangri-la setting — perfect for CLAP-type fun and frivolity!

From our first breath, the chemistry was the same – pure magic. And yes, we checked out each other’s hair first thing. The cancer topic could wait.

It’s funny how you can go through life and have many circles of friends, each one special and filling a certain time and purpose. But each is unique, and none can take the place of another.

That’s how this felt. Three decades, divorces, children, and grandchildren made no difference. Everything felt exactly the same and the group’s dynamic was identical to its earlier self. We cooked, we drank (tho’ not nearly like we used to!), we walked, we meditated. And we finally, on the last morning, picked apart the illness that was surely taking one of us away before her time and before anyone was ready.

I won’t tell you which person in this picture has cancer, and I’ll bet if you guessed you’d guess wrong. It doesn’t matter anyway. Where one of us goes, we all go. What one of us feels, we all feel. That is how close friends are, no matter how much space or time may separate us.

There was a lot of laughter, all the news, and no tears until we said goodbye. The knowledge that we might not meet again in this lifetime as the canaries was, admittedly, a little hard to swallow.

I used to have canaries. I adore their joyful singing. I am considering getting another now, as I know its daily song would remind me of this special group and of our treasured, irreplaceable bond.

Here’s to our dear friends, and may we all remember to keep laughing and playing!

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