Monday, January 10, 2011

If You Stick Your Neck Out....

it's going to get chopped.

I know some of you have been silent during our PZP/slaughter discussions, and why shouldn't you be? We're all horse lovers: attentive, caring stewards of our animals--horse poor and getting poorer. Why heap coals upon our sacred love for the horse by inviting trouble? (And when you wade into these waters, you know there's going to be trouble.)

It appears to me, there have been more misunderstandings in the world of horses than any other. Which made me wonder last night...why?

I have a hypothesis...

I think many people love horses and are emotional about them. Horse lovers have loved horses since they were little girls and boys--they've been the fodder for their dreams, their play, eventually their lives, and identities. (Identities is the most important part of that list.) So, whenever there's a challenge to a deeply held personal horse theme--the emotions kick in and we no longer hear or see the other person as they really are. We hear what we want to hear--see what we want to see--to confirm our internal biases.

Did any of you, after reading TJ's interview, come away thinking she worked for the BLM or advocated for roundups? Though she's not a BLM antagonist and though she feels that some roundups are done better than others, she would like to see a day where they don't have to occur anymore through (limited) Mustang contraception. She doesn't want to administer PZP to the point of sterility. But the best thing about TJ is that she doesn't see ANY Mustang advocate (good sense of the word here) as an enemy. She sees us all as a team. We may have different ideas, but shouldn't we? Isn't that a good thing?

Well, enough of that. We've all been there before--misunderstood and demonized--I just don't like to see it happen to someone as sincere and hard-working (for the Mustangs) as TJ. But that won't stop me or her from getting the word out and advocating for PZP--the best compromise anyone's come up with yet.

Now a little about what's happening at my place--lighter fare. (Knock on wood)

It's cold and icey. I hate ice. I love snow--hate ice. So, I've had to lock up some of the horses--especially, old Red. I really didn't mind locking him up because I've noticed he has started to drop weight. It happened quick, as it usually does for him, and probably due to the extremely low temps we've had. At this point he does best being sequestered off from the rest and given free-choice alfalfa. I'll probably keep him by himself until the temperature rises well above freezing.

We're expecting 11" of snow in the next couple of days, which I don't mind at all--especially since we're taking a trip to Texas for the weekend to see our kids. The forecast down there is for 60s-70's and rain. What a difference that will be.

My husband's outside right now moving another roundbale into the turnout. Since the temps have dropped we're burning through a round bale about every four days. It's amazing how much the horse's appetites pick up during cold spells. I have faith that they know what they need, and as long as they're healthy enough, need very little tinkering.

Old Red though, he needs some tinkering, and I'm happy to give it to him so that he becomes "Older" Red! He's at least 30 (unregistered)--but has a colorful and happy history of previous owners. We've had him for his last decade of life and have just enjoyed the stuffing right out of him. He took my daughter through her first year of 4-H and built up her horse confidence. He has also provided a safe horse back experience for every green rider who has visited our home. Now, his main job is to teach the grandkids.

Nothing makes me happier than to see my horses growing old out here in our pastures. I figure, if Cowboy doesn't go completely lame from his P3 fracture someday--I could be riding him until I'm sixty. Beautiful and Cya--I'll be riding until I'm 70! So, isn't that a good system? Ride them while they're young (and I'm relatively young) and as they grow older and wiser, I'll be growing older and more fragile--a perfect combination.

Here's a picture of Red from this afternoon. Maybe it's just his age that makes him look thinner, because today he looked fatter to me.

Cowboy at the bale.

The barn sisters. Is one pregnant?

Horses at the bale today.


  1. I would have commented, but I can't read your blog. :( I didn't want to complain, but I can't read white type on a black background, so I've only been skimming and looking at pictures.

  2. Thanks for complaining, Andrea! I LOVE it. Hope this is better.

    Sorry if it sounded like I was complaining that people weren't chiming in--many have, and I wasn't trying to imply that others should have. Maybe I speak more for myself. I hate confrontation--I'm too old for it--don't need extra drama, but it seems whenever you express an opinion in this area you can really invite a firestorm! (The drama actually happened at TJ's blog--poor TJ!!) And this has me scratching my head--wondering why?!? We're all on the same side, right?

  3. Linda - Thank you SO much for your support. I thoroughly, absolutely appreciate it. And I do believe that information brings us closer together, not continue to keep us apart. We have the same goal, I think: To see wild horses live as healthy and *as* natural lives as possible without fear of harassment or loss of family members. By far and away, I am so grateful for the friends I've made in this community.

    Your place looks like our scenery here in Colorado - and your chores sound just like my parents' in Texas! Keep old Red getting older! I wish I still had my Red ... Our old (32!) Arabian gets soaked alfalfa and some other senior goodies. He looks really great!

    Have a wonderful trip to the Lone Star State to visit your family!

  4. TJ--I think a lot of it is emotion and misunderstanding. Anyone who follows your blog regularly will come to find out you're about as reasonable and dedicated as Mustang supporters come. ;)

    I guess all of us pretty much do the same chores, don't we? I'm very, very lucky to have my husband help me as much as he does. Sad to say, I've never moved a round bale myself. Can you believe it?!? I really need to learn how. I can cut the fields with the tractor, but I'm not good at changing implements, etc. So, when I'm by myself, I do everything the old fashioned way--with a wheelbarrow! haha.

  5. Ha! I wish we were going to be in Texas at the same time - I'd have invited you up! My mom is a whiz with the tractor (though I do think she leaves the maintenance to my dad!). She and my dad make a good team - though they may not always agree. ;)

  6. I think just being able to listen to people talk thoughtfully on a difficult topic is wonderful - there is a lot of diatribe out there - on all controversial subjects. And if the person speaking is also able to understand and appreciate where others may be coming from, that's even better. Thanks for being willing to mention a hard topic, and I think your theories of why people react the way they do are spot on.

    Love the pictures of your old red horse, and Cowboy too. I love the good old ones - very special. I have just about the same theory of riding for my different ages as you do - more on that later . . .

  7. Linda, I'm not sure the reason for a drop in Comments, but here's what I found on my blog. Whenever I post an interview with anyone at all, the comments significantly drop. Sometimes I think it's just a matter of the nature of blogs, where readers don't want to read through a long post, and other times I have other ideas about it. But regardless, I find interviews, including yours with TJ a wonderful way to expand our vision and thoughts through the experiences of others. There's nothing like conversation, and dialogue, to broaden our views.

  8. TJ--Too bad we're not in TX at the same time-- I always like to meet fellow Bickersons. My husband I don't always agree either. ;) haha.

    Kate--I can definitely see you growing old with Pie. You did well to choose one like him!

    Joanne--You're right about interviews, but I've always enjoyed the ones on your blog. I really am fascinated with other people's lives--I feel like hearing their thoughts and experiences helps bring meaning to my own. The blogging world is like one big interview!

  9. Well, I for one, was very glad to get all the new information on PZP, and am extremely glad we have someone out there like TJ who sees things more realistically. Life isn't black and white, and we all need to make compromises to make things work. I like the idea of PZP (used correctly) to lessen roundups and the need for slaughter.

    Your horses look great! Have a great trip,

  10. Thanks, Juanita--and I agree that life isn't black and white--sometimes the best decisions are not perfect and have their own share of problems, but the other choice is worse.

  11. I have really enjoyed the interviews - and have started following TJ's site as well. Thanks for sharing this with us.
    Question: how did you "treat" Cowboy's fracture? We have a horse boarding at our place who has the same. He is on one year of paddock rest. The prognosis isn't great but we're hopeful nonetheless.

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  13. Annette--the initial vet who came out, misdiagnosed Cowboy with an abscess. I asked her to take x-rays, and she did, but she came back and said they were clean--no fracture. A week later, he was as lame as before after she'd cut out his "abscess" (and only got blood). She came out again, and I asked her to take more x-rays. She did, but called and said they, too, were clean. For three months the clinic came out every week and worked on his bad foot (front left)--even making a special plate to adhere to it that I unbolted every day and repacked with sugardine--because they still thought it was an abscess.

    After three months, walking around the pasture as prescribed, we got another opinion in another city. They looked at the original x-rays--taken the first day--and there, as clear as day, was a fracture of the P3. It was slightly displaced into the coffin joint.

    By this time, WSU recommended non-invasive treatment. Had it been earlier, they could have done surgery and put a screw in it to hold the two pieces more flush so that as it grew back together there'd be less exostosis, or excess bone growth into the joint (causing arthritis).

    We got the best farrier we could find recommended by our new vet and he placed him in a bar shoe with a pad and 12x12 stall confinement. He told me that the hardest part was going to be keeping his brain together for the six months of 12x12 confinement, and my job was to make that happen.

    So, I spent a lot of time with Cowboy, but he did very well with no let-out, where some horses would have gone bonkers. Eventually, we moved him to 12x24 and about a year after the injury, he was allowed out. By spring that next year, we shod his front feet, and my farrier told me to go out and ride him, which I did.

    I've been riding him for three years since then, and he's done awesome!!! He does camp it out sometimes, but it hasn't slowed him down on trails or in any walking he does in the turnout.

    My farrier has been a world champion and trains many others and used to have a magazine called Ink and Anvil--where he wrote about this story. He told me I was actually very lucky as he does not recommend the invasive surgery for P3 fractures--he thinks the risk is greater than the reward. He believes strongly that what we did, was actually the best thing for Cowboy, but would have been even better if we'd started the day of the injury, rather than three months later.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.