Tuesday, May 10, 2022

We Survived a Tornado

What a crazy year, and now you can add being hit by a tornado to the list of things that has happened to us.  In Spokane, since 1950, there are only 13 confirmed tornados, but we had 2 in one day and now that number is 15. One of them touched down at our house, took out our fence, moved to my neighbor's, uprooted 2 of his big pine trees, and then continued down the road and back into the sky.

While it was happening, I was looking out the back window at the barn, watching the horses, and not the front window, where the tornado ripped through. Our young lab, Lucy, had begun to absolutely freak out (something she has never done in previous storms) and I couldn't contain her. I was also on the phone with my mom while this was happening, and I told her it sounded like a nuclear bomb had gone off. It looked like it, too. It had become very dark and otherworldly. But there wasn't much wind in the back of the house. In fact, we have a tent up on our deck and pillows on the outdoor furniture, and it all stayed in place. 

But in the front of the house, a different scene was playing out, and our neighbor witnessed the whole thing. I texted him when the storm settled to see if they were okay, and he said he saw the tornado come through the fences and over to his place and uproot the trees then move on. The national weather service came by and interviewed him, compared it to their radar and witness videos, and confirmed it was, indeed, a tornado.




Another neighbor got a few photos after it passed by.

Here's a link to the video, if you'd like to see what it looked like from far away. It's as if a hand is placing a tornado right onto our property.

The sky was eery that night, and the nights afterward.

We lost power because the trees took out the power lines. I walked down the road to survey the damage.


Looking back toward our house.


My husband went out the next day and was able to use the tractor to fix the fence.


It has been a weird year. That company I told you about, Lifeline Screening, hasn't refunded me for the tests that I paid for, but which they were unable to get results because of the botched blood test. I told them what happened with the tech, and they said they filed a report, but no one has followed up. My next step is to report them to the BBB. I don't want what happened to me to happen to anyone else. Oh, and I followed up with a liver panel from a hospital lab and my liver results were perfect. (They had erroneously reported elevated enzymes).

Tumbleweed is still with the trainer, and doing well. My trainer played a little guessing game. Can you guess which horse is Tumbleweed?


Epona started to grow too fast, and seemed like she might be developing epiphysitis. I stripped her diet down to grass and no supplements. She is on pasture part of the day, too. She didn't show any signs of lameness, but looked a little swollen at the knees. It's common in thoroughbreds, and is often the result of too much high energy feed. She's definitely in another growth spurt, so I'm hoping this will slow her down.

She has developed a strong bond with Cowboy because they're turned out together most days and he has become the designated babysitter. Here he is last night. I had kept him in during the day and let him out in the evening. He went right over to Epona's turnout to call her over.


More Cowboy and Epona.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Tumbleweed Has a Twin

Tumbleweed has found his twin at training, and it has been a bit confusing for me to keep the updates straight. A couple of weeks ago, my trainer posted a video of what I thought was Tumbleweed tied, but chewing his rope and prancing around. When I asked her about it, she said, oh, that's not Tweed, that's his twin. (To help you find Tweed, he's the handsome one with the white socks and blaze.)


It's like looking in a mirrior! Who is this hot dude?

They are both the same age, and his twin was in training as a 2 year old, but skipped his 3 year old year. He's back as a 4 year old. So, that explains why it was him, and NOT Tweed, eating the rope and prancing around. Tweed remembers well that part of his day at school is spent standing, and it doesn't do any good to fight it.

I'm pretty sure this one is Tweed, as he would be the "city boy." haha.


He's doing great on the trails, and didn't miss a beat.

We took him down on April 4th, so we're about 3 weeks into his training. After he is there a solid month, I'll start going down to ride him, too.

I had a physical done by Life Line Screening on April 4th, and I received my results last Friday. First, the woman who drew my blood with a pin prick was odd. She told me she was going to prick my finger through the fingernail. I told her no. She asked me why, didn't I know that's how they do it? Had I not heard? Had I not read? She assured me it wouldn't hurt, and my fingernail wouldn't fall off for two weeks. I was like, what?!? She was holding my fingernail and the needle thing and acting like she was going to do it, but I pulled my hand away and asked her if she was joking. She assured me she wasn't joking and that I should have been told that is how they did it there, and not to worry about my fingernail, because it wouldn't fall off for two weeks, and would possibly grow back. It went on and on, she wouldn't admit she was joking, and I was about to get up and leave, but then she started to do a weird little laugh and said, Oh, I just wanted to see if you'd let me do it. I am joking. 

I should have left, right then and there, and demanded a refund, but I was two weeks past my dad's burial, and wasn't thinking clearly. I was in a bit of a fog.

Well, I got the results back, and there were several tests I had paid for that weren't completed / no results, due to not enough blood in the sample. One of the tests that came back odd was the liver panel. The AST level came back high, and the ALT level came back as not enough blood sample / no results, but they still marked it as very high. I just had this same liver panel conducted a month before my dad passed away, and everything was fine. If those levels really are elevated, and I have reason to doubt their veracity, considering the woman who drew my sample was so flaky, then it happened within a two month period.

Of course, it was Friday, so I can't do anything about it until tomorrow.

In the meantime, we are hiking and enjoying the flowers. Friday, before the test results arrived, we had been on a hike through the woods, and it started to rain gently. It was one of the most magical moments I can remember. And the flowers were like little fairies along the path.







It is beautiful again today, and we are preparing for another hike and a dinner with the family afterward. Spring might actually be here, really here, for good.


Thursday, April 7, 2022

First Update on Tumbleweed & Wildflowers Popping Up

I received my first update on Tumbleweed on Tuesday. His first day of training was Monday, and there was a major windstorm in the area with gusts of up to 60 mph. My trainer's philosophy is they've "got to be good on bad days, too." And so, she never takes a day off for bad weather. She said he had some buck in him Monday (she worked him on the ground that day) and Tuesday she was back in the saddle with him, and he was doing great. (It was his first ride since last fall, so extra bonus points that he remembered his lessons.)

I am so happy he was ready to go on his saddle training because my hope is that he is working well off the rein at the end of his two months. She was starting that work at the end of his last training, and I was following up on it with lessons from my trainer up here, so I think he will be a long way toward it when I get him back.

In the meantime, I continue to put Epona and Cowgirl out with Foxy and Cowboy, and they've become a happy little herd.

I've also been getting some hikes in, and had to buy a new pair of hiking boots at REI, as mine were finally giving out. I went, again, with the Keen Targhee III, with added inserts for better arch support. I'm on a waiting list, however, for the OBOZ Sawtooth II. They're sold out, and I needed new boots now, not later. I love the Keens, but have heard so much good about the OBOZ that I really want to add a pair to my hiking closet when they're available again.

Here are some of my favorite photos from a recent hike:


The wildflowers are starting to pop. 

Prairie star, or Hillside Woodland Star


Arrowleaf Balsamroot about to open.


Lupine getting its start.


Serviceberry blossom about to open.








Moose scat.


Video of a Canada goose we inconvenienced on the trail.


And rafters navigating the rapids on the Spokane River.


Monday, April 4, 2022

Decisions About Epona

I was talking to my daughter last week about Epona and she plans to take her to training next year for "kindergarten." She said she wants to figure out if Epona will work for her in the next few years and, if she doesn't, she won't keep her. I took that to mean she'd sell her. It's her horse, and she can certainly do that if she wants.

But that wasn't what she meant, and she clarified yesterday that she would always give me a first right of refusal. In other words, if she doesn't work out for her, I can take Epona over. Either way, she said that while she's raising and having children--the next phase of her life--there may not be a lot of riding done, and she hopes we will do as much as we can with Epona until she's ready. The more work she gets, the better. 

Whew! I was happy to hear that. We could use another young one in the next few years as an extra horse to ride. Most of our herd is, or will be, retired. It kicked me into gear, and led to my first decision as a "co-raiser," releasing her with the herd.

I ran it by my daughter, and she was on board with my plan: release Cowgirl and Epona with the herd leader and sweetie, Foxy, and the elderly, head-shaker (in spring), Cowboy. Let them acclimate for awhile, and then introduce a few more, until all are together--sometime before June. 

We have a lot to do with the pastures this week--spray for weeds, rake them out--and there isn't any real grass growing, but they do enjoy their time out, and it gives them lots of space to get away from each other when the feet start to fly.

When I opened the gate for Foxy, she didn't waste one second, but ran straight out toward mama and baby. Mama ran straight toward Foxy, too. I thought it was going to be a mare war, but it was more like a joyous reunion. Epona slipped a bit and favored her back leg (as you might see in the video) but it was short lived. She did well and was OH SO HAPPY to be with new horses.





It was fun to watch them, and I was so happy for little Epona getting to make new friends. Her favorite is Tumbleweed, and he has eyes for her, too, but that full introduction will have to wait to happen since he is off at college.

We also got a quick hike in yesterday on the trails I usually ride. It's such a different perspective walking them myself. It makes me feel less sorry for my horses, too. I thought to myself, if I can do this, they certainly can.





There's a windstorm that has been predicted for a while, and it just arrived with 50-60 mph winds. We are prepared to lose power, and have secured as much as we can from damage, but it's going to be a long day here as we wait this out.

Wish us luck.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Tumbleweed is Off To Training

 

I hauled Tumbleweed to training yesterday. Before we left, I spent a little time with him at liberty. He was very calm and sweet. When I loaded him in the trailer he did protest a little bit while I waited for my husband to get a few things he'd forgotten, but as soon as we started moving, he settled down for the 2.5 hour haul.

When I unloaded him at the barn, my trainer said, "Wow, I have a lot more to work with this year." 

I walked him around on a loose lead, and even though he was on high alert, he walked respectfully at my side, past other horses, and into his new stall. He seemed to remember the barn, and he went right out to say hello to his new neighbor, a young mare. He was golden, and I felt reassured after such a peaceful transfer. The work on "separation" had been successful. 


Friday, April 1, 2022

Getting Ready to Say Goodbye To Tumbleweed

It's probably a common experience to draw from our own lives, and struggles, and then apply the lessons we learn to our horses. I don't think of it as anthropomorphizing as much as finding common ground between two sentient beings. I've been dealing with grief, the sadness of a separation from a parent I loved and admired, and at the same time, I've been getting Tumbleweed ready for two months of training which will start tomorrow. 

The common theme: separation.

As I was finding my way through it all these last couple of week or so, I settled upon a very simple goal, getting Tumbleweed okay with being away from his buddies, the herd. I shared the first day on a previous post, and that was dramatic for a bit. But after that day, each other day was quite less dramatic, and eventually, not dramatic at all. 

Just being with Tumbleweed, hanging out, was good for my heart. He was gentle with me. He has been tuned in, and joined up. I could have easily asked him for more, but I didn't. We walked the bridges and poles, groomed, disengaged hind and front ends--all at liberty.

Today, I had planned on taking him to our local park and doing obstacles and round pen work, maybe even riding, but my truck had a flat tire from running over a nail, and we had to take it in to be fixed. While I was waiting to hear back from them, out of the blue, Shirley sent me a Warwick Schiller video called, "Relationship Before Horsemanship." 

I had time to kill, so I listened to it. He talked about doing exactly what I had been doing--spending time listening to your horse. Basically, I see you, I understand what you're saying, and I respect what you're saying. 

He even talked about slowly introducing the flag, which I had done yesterday, at liberty, because I know my trainer will use a flag, and I want Tumbleweed to be ready for it again. I held the flag in my hand, let him sniff it, then rubbed it on his body, and watched his reaction. He stood free, fully able to leave me, and allowed me to rub it over his whole body.

Back to today, I took that intervention as a message to continue doing what I had been doing, and no more. My truck was fixed, but when I picked it up, I decided to stay home and hang out with Tweed again. I even took it another step backward, as the Warwick podcast suggested, and sat in the arena with him, working on a poem while Tweed wandered around. After awhile, he didn't want me looking at my phone anymore, and came to get me.

He'll have enough to keep him busy when he goes off to training tomorrow.  One thing I will be able to say is that I brought her a calm horse who is okay with people, and obstacles, and ready to learn.

But I will really miss him.

Epona isn't my horse, as you all know, but I do take care of her, and one of the things we do everyday is turn her out with mama. Almost everyday, she stays with me instead of going to mama. Here she is coming to say hello. She is completely at liberty, of course, and the gate is open to the pasture, but she has decided to stay around and join up. It is amazing what horses will do you for you, voluntarily, if the relationship is good.


While Tumbleweed is gone I'll have more time to work with her, Cowboy, Leah, and the others. Plenty to keep me busy. But certainly, when he gets back, I want nothing less than true connection and friendship. That's what it's all about. Without it, having horses would be pointless.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Plowing Through


The last month has been tough, losing my dad, and there's a definite feeling of wanting to load up the car, hit the road, and leave my troubles all behind me, but that's tough to do with a herd of horses and dogs.


So, I stay home, we stay home, and try to keep busy. We've seen three plays, a symphony performance, a movie (in the theater), and been on several hikes. 





The weather is getting better, and the horses are feisty.








Tumbleweed is going to training in April, which means I need to get him ready, and the weather is starting to warm up for it. He has changed a lot this year, and seems to be more sure-footed and aware of his body. I think that's because he has largely stopped growing and is just filling out now. It will be fun to see what he learns this year. He's coming four in May.

Here he is running steam off before our session. We did at liberty work over the bridge and poles, then some basic disengagement, circles on the line, and a little MM bodywork. Just basic stuff, getting back in the groove.


It seems that ever since the funeral, five days ago, I've been a bit depressed--if I stop long enough to think about it.  I prefer to keep going. But life isn't like that. Eventually, you have to stop running and face the music grief. You'd think you'd not have as much grief when the loss is "in order"--meaning, parent before child, and parent in older age, but there's never a good time to let go of someone you love. Let go of the physical, that is--what we know most in this life--the physical body. The spiritual is entirely another thing, and I have received a few amazing signs since my dad's passing. It makes me really happy to think of them.