Tag Archives: Horses

Fun with HDR


A slight obsession of late.

– Kelly


Perfect Timing

Our daughter is preparing to compete in a few horse shows again this summer. She is involved in a lot of activities …. not to mention her social calendar…. and as a result we find that sometimes her ‘training for a show’ looks a little more like ‘cramming for a show’ with a bit of riding through the fields and playing around with her horse thrown in between going to the movies, hanging out with friends, school and sports.   
Today, as we were getting ready to go for a ride together, many things got in the way. Distracted texting with her friends to arrange their next get together, lost boots that our puppy had relocated to another spot in the yard, a garden that I couldn’t pass without pulling a few weeds, all put us a little behind schedule. 
The ‘icing on the cake’ happened when we were saddling our horses and an enormous, man eating wasp flew into my eye and stung me!  Our darling girl tells me it was a teeny little mosquito but she is so very very wrong. 
Stumbling away from my horse – unable to see because of the tears, the swelling and the excruciating pain, I managed to get my husbands attention and he came running to my side to help me in my time of need….
Well, actually he stared at me from the tractor with a look on his face that said …’could you get out of the way, I’m trying to do something here…’ until he saw me trying to dig the huge man eating wasp out of my eye. Or maybe it was our daughter collapsing with fits of laughter that got his attention. 
Anyways, my dramatics over nearly losing an eye to a wasp sting set us even further behind schedule.  I settled down, and as soon as I could convince myself that I would probably live, we girls headed out for our ride. It was lovely to hear my daughter giggling and telling me how weird I looked with my puffy eye. It’s always nice to hear her laugh, even when it’s at my expense. 
We rode past our little herd of cattle. The one cow who hadn’t yet had her calf stared at us as we approached. We have been watching her for over a week, thinking that she will calve any minute. Her belly and udder are both enormous, and she stares at us every day panting and looking so uncomfortable. I remember that feeling. 
As we rode past her, I said “just let it out 49J, you will feel so much better”. 
This is when we noticed that she was holding her tail a little funny…a very good indication that today will be the big day and our last calf will be born sometime in the next few hours. 
We rode to the open field, and our daughter practiced for the upcoming show. Well, not really….she raced up and down hills, trying to see how fast she could make her horse run and turn….none of which have much to do with proper collection, correct leads or ‘slowing her lope’ which are the things her riding instructors have been working on with her. However she had a great time, and posted a picture of herself on Instagram which got a lot of likes…..which is equally  important when you are a teenaged girl. 
As we approached 49J on our ride home, we were so lucky to be there to witness the birth of our last calf of 2013. This will also be old 49J’s last calf. While we quietly watched, she gave birth to a very large, very beautiful red bull calf. We watched as she cleaned him up, quietly speaking to him and encouraging him to pick up his head and breathe. We watched while she kept licking and nudging him until he tried to stand and took his first wobbly steps. She’s a great momma. 
Our kids are fortunate to be able to witness many life events from birth to death and the stuff in between through life on the farm. I really appreciate moments like this when I am alone with one child, and can take the opportunity to teach (they say lecture) about the facts of life. I’m sure my daughter really appreciated my impromptu, unsolicited, free of charge conversation about the birds and bees while we sat on our horses and watched this little baby come into the world. Well, maybe she doesn’t appreciate it now, but when she replays the scenario in her mind years from now I think she will. Or at least she will have fun texting friends about how her day went, held captive on her horse while her puffy eyed mom told her all about the birds and bees (again).  
It’s all about timing. I looked at my young girl and commented on how things work out some times. We were so lucky to have had the delays we had while trying to go for our ride. If she hadn’t have been texting, if her boots hadn’t been lost, and if I hadn’t have been stung in the eye by a man eating wasp….mosquito….we would have missed being here for this blessed event today. And she would have missed out on yet another riveting ‘facts of life’ presentation from her mother. 
She will be as ready as she needs to be for her horse shows, and she will find the time for all of her school, sports and social activities. We need to remember to enjoy every fleeting moment of this crazy fabulous life. 
Things work out the way they should, and the timing is always perfect. 
“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”  Willie Nelson. Image

If Worrying Was an Art….

If worrying was an art, I would be Vincent Van Gogh.

Here on the Canadian Prairies, January can be a very cold time of year.  When the temperatures drop, it just makes sense that we need to be a little more vigilant with our livestock to make sure they have the energy and the shelter that they need to stay warm and healthy.  Horses, cattle, sheep, etc need to have a bit more food and shelter on these cold days.

This means that when the weather drops, we bundle up in as much clothing as we can find and head outside, working long hours to make sure everyone is doing well.

And so I head out to check the herd and feed them a little extra hay on this fine, bright, crisp morning.  The temperature is -43C with the wind-chill.

As I approach the herd, I see something that no one wants to see – a dead cow!

This does not look good....

This does not look good….

So, I begin to ponder all of the tragedies that may have befallen this poor girl.

Did she fall in the night, and now couldn’t get up?  I worry about that, because if only I had known I would have come out and helped her.

Did she have pneumonia or some other form of illness?  Well, at first I know this can’t be true because I would have noticed something like that….but wait….my son fed the cows yesterday, and being 18 and distracted he may not have been as vigilant when looking over the cattle.  In fact, he may not even have noticed.  Or worse, he may have noticed and forgotten to mention anything to me.

Now I am a worried, angry mess.

To completely freak myself out, I begin to calculate what percentage of the herd this cow’s death represents.  Let’s see….I have a little herd of 16 cows, so this is 1/16 of my herd that died this morning.  So to compare, when we had our big herd of 700 cows, this would have been like losing 43.75 cows in one day!!  Oh my god!!  We have never had a death loss like this on our farm.  Clearly I am a total failure….and this worries me.

Oh, wait.  She picked up her head as I went by the pen with the tractor and a bale.

Great!  I don’t have a dead cow, but she’s clearly a downed cow who is too sick to get up.

My Animal Health Technician brain kicks in and methodically tells me in her annoying clinical voice that this is probably impaction.  Due to the fact that these cows are eating hay and licking snow for moisture, her gut has probably become impacted and we need to get her stomach contents moving.  I’ve seen this before, and it can go downhill very quickly.  My clinical AHT voice scolds me for allowing these cows to lick snow for moisture instead of having them on a nice warm watering bowl that I get to thaw and chop at all winter long….even though cattle have been licking snow for moisture for hundreds of thousands of years with few ill effects.  Maybe it hasn’t been that long….I really have no idea of how long, but it’s been a long time.

As I pick up another bale and head toward the gate, I worry over the possible treatments that I can offer to this poor girl.  I decide that the best immediate remedy is to administer a solution of warm water and mineral oil into her stomach to grease up the contents and get them moving south….or more appropriately, ‘West’ due to the direction she is laying.

In my mind, I find the tube that I will use and I take an inventory of our drug shelf and determine that we have a jug of mineral oil there.  I worry and ponder which restraint methods will be best to keep her still while I convince her that oil down her throat is the best thing for her to do this morning.  Surprisingly, cows don’t always agree with our methods when we are trying to help them.

Of course, she’s probably so sick that she won’t even put up a fight and I can just slip in there and take care of business.

Opening the gate, it’s like a miracle has happened.

The cow gets up and has a big stretch….not the actions of a sick cow.

She cocks her tail and moves her bowels ‘West’….not the actions of an impacted cow.

She shakes her head and walks toward the group chewing her cud….

She takes charge and moves the other cows away from the hay so that she can be a big pig and eat more than her share.  Clearly a very healthy cow.

Happily taking command of a 12 foot space so no one else can eat!

Happily taking command of a 12 foot space so no one else can eat!

So, as the day went on and I periodically slipped outside to check and make sure she truly was fine I came to realize that I worry a bit too much….which of course worries me.

On my last check, I knew that she had been fine all along, and was just enjoying the fact that when it’s sunny and -43 with the wind-chill, it’s a good day to be a black cow laying in the sun.

A happy herd staying warm by eating lots of extra calories....just like me!

A happy herd staying warm by eating lots of extra calories….just like me!

As I looked around at the beautiful snow sparkling on such a bright and sun shining day, my eyes fell on our horses….





…I noticed that they had some serious snotsicles….which are like popsicles, but different.

Rocky's frosty nose

Rocky’s frosty nose

And this worried me.

“Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due.” – William R. Inge


Lucky Guy


I didn’t always spend my days this way.  I used to be called on for the tough jobs.  If there was a bull that needed to be roped, they called me because I am big, very strong, and bulls don’t scare me…..llamas do, but who isn’t afraid of Llamas?   If there was a cow who was having trouble calving, I brought her in.  If there was a long cattle drive ahead of us, I went in the back to keep things moving along.  I have pushed in between angry cows chasing farmers, I have tolerated excited young pups who liked to snap at my nose, and I have even pulled a truck out of deep mud!

Ready to rope some calves.

All of that changed one day when a 3-year-old girl was plopped onto my back.  She sat up there feeling my mane, and after a few minutes she proudly exclaimed, “I’m fableeous up here mommy, just fableeous.”  She was hooked.

Over the years, our relationship has developed from me ignoring her while she sat on my back to where we are today.  In the beginning, her feet didn’t come past the saddle pad, so I could pretend I didn’t know she was there and just continue eating grass while she practiced steering and clucking and kissing me into motion.  I would never run no matter how many times she asked.  I don’t like running unless there’s a good reason.  As her legs have grown, and she has gotten stronger, I have found that it’s more important to pay attention to what she suggests, or her polite suggestion will turn into a drill sergeant’s command…….always followed by ‘good boy’ and lots of hugs.

Getting some apples from the garden.

My skill set has changed also.  In the past, there wasn’t much criticism when I ran after a calf, but now I am expected to change leads, and be on the correct diagonal….whatever that means.  I am sometimes subjected to being shown on the halter, which really makes me uncomfortable.  I’ve never liked being the center of attention, and there’s something about those people looking at me so closely that makes me fidget.  This really upsets my little boss, so I try to do my best.

Keyda trying to stand for a halter class.

I know the other geldings think it’s weird when I come home from a trip to town smelling like strawberries, with my mane and tail all in braids.  Sometimes the elastics on my braids are pink, to match my ‘pajamas’ that she dresses me in to stay warm on the ride home.  But here’s the thing – I am comfortable.  I get more treats than they do.  I hear the knickering and commotion when I am brought back into the pen, but don’t forget who I am guys! 

Tough enough to wear pink!

I am still big, I am still strong, and I’m still the boss! 

Keyda moving the others out of 'his spot'.

 All horses should have the good fortune to be loved by a kid at least once in their life.


10 Things I Have Learned From Our Horses


  1. Respect your elders, let them eat first.  If you don’t they are very likely to bite your face or kick your ass.
  2. I will not eat anything that is moldy.  If you offer moldy things for me to eat, I will hack and cough and wobble and collapse until you understand that I don’t like moldy food.
  3. I refuse to poop while I’m walking.  On a good day, you might get me to pee and walk, but I insist on taking a break when I need to poop.
  4. If something is in your nose, blow it out.  If this offends someone they shouldn’t stand so close.
  5. Sometimes I don’t want to comb my hair.  I am perfectly fine with cutting the knots out later.
  6. If no one wants to play with you, just keep running in circles around them until they can’t resist.  Eventually they will chase you just to make you go away.
  7. If you are scared of the dog, run and hide behind someone who isn’t.   They will chase him away or stomp him into the dirt for you.
  8. If you find yourself on an upward climb, you should run to the top.  No sense wasting time.
  9. Sometimes the person offering you a bucket of goodies is actually fooling you into a trap and there are no goodies at all.  That sucks, so don’t let it happen twice.
  10.  When you come to see me, you should always bring a treat.


Little Big Guy

Guess who is the fastest?

Taco is the name of the guy in the front. I always had an aversion to these ponies and balked a number of times when our son wanted one. However, after earning some money of his own and finding the horse-pony from a friend of ours,  I gave in.  They have taken a couple of driving clinics and the boy has taught Taco how to drive. Initially he was worrried about Taco being turned out with the five big geldings. But as Taco can wiggle through most fences he soon ended up with  the big guys and he can definitely hold his own. In fact they all escaped last week and were racing away from so-called captivity. Guess who was the leader of the pack when they were all running flat out?  Taco. Apparently he has yet to figure out he is actually the smallest, by a long shot.  Below they are all out for a jog, not the high speed version.