Part 1//Why having horses is nothing like having dogs

writing

I’ve been super sick, so i don’t aim to organize this well and my point is liable to get lost here or there. But, as per my usual, I promise to get wherever it is that I am going.

It is hard to describe what love of a horse is to those who do not have/ride their own horses (pats self on back). One of the most common misconceptions is that the relationships equestrians have with their horses are akin to those people have with their pets. Ages ago, when I didn’t know better and made the occasional error of gushing or worrying out loud about Ryllin to non-riders, I found, much to my chagrin, that they tended to relate my feelings to their experiences with their dogs. It became clear to me then that non-horse people really are not able to understand what I am talking about. Horses are nothing like dogs, keeping them is nothing like keeping dogs, loving them is nothing like loving dogs, they offer more, they take more, they make you a million times more crazy. The real distinction between the relationships arises when it comes to horses that are really being used, the more rigorous the riding/sport the more involved and complicated the relationship tends to be. But I’ll espouse on that in Part 2.

The financial investment alone is a hundredfold. Combined with the time investment, which is so significant that for most of us it leaves little to no room for any other hobbies, horse ownership/equestrianism is elevated to the classification of a full on lifestyle. This is also one of the chief reasons many horse people are completely off their rocker. What horses offer their riders is also markedly different from the offerings of dogs, but that portion of the lesson will be delivered in careful detail come Part 2.

For now, and with all that being said, I want to focus strictly on physiological issues which separate horses from everything else pet-like, and how those issues affect the hapless humans endeavoring to manage them. Unlike dogs, horses are dishearteningly fragile. Most people don’t realize that horses can drop dead on a dime. It would seem that these animals had never quite acclimated, evolutionarily speaking, to domestication, and, despite their imposing dimensions, are utterly frail. Their bodies can be potentially riddled with a slew of debilitating conditions, many of which, if gone unnoticed or not properly addressed, easily turn deadly. The two most common sources of horse fatality are their guts and their feet. Horse feet are complex structures, somewhat poorly designed to withstand the rigors of supporting over 1000 lbs, especially when that 1000 pounds is hurling itself over obstacles or performing complex aerial maneuvers. The saying goes “No foot, no horse”, and it is quite literal, a bad foot means at best, a lame horse, and at worst, a dead horse. Lots of care goes into maintaining healthy feet on a horse, from shoeings and trimmings, to supplements, dressings and careful selection of footing. A foot can go bad in a day, dietary issues, bad shoeing, genetic issues, weather issues, ground conditions, stall conditions, etc. all can cause deadly foot disorders and diseases. You might say, what’s the big deal, one foot goes bad, there are three more. Be assured, a horse needs all four of its tiny feet to equally distribute its enormous weight, one foot gone, means the other three will go shortly thereafter, as they cannot take the horse’s weight in perpetuity. And no, horses can’t just lie around while it gets better, like dogs. A horse’s weight and intricate circulation/nervous systems prevent it from being able to lie down for long without dying. I kid you not, a laid up horse will basically crush itself from the inside, its organs will go out one after another under its own weight causing permanent damage to its nervous system and eventual death. So not only can a horse with a compromised foot not be ridden but often, the degeneration of the hoof structures is so severe that it has to be put down. A sport horse, who becomes too lame to be ridden, is a tragedy in itself, as the amount of work, time and feeling that goes into creating an effective riding partnership between horse and rider is massive, but when said horse has to also be put down, the dimension of loss is on another level.

Second most common and sudden horse killer, that all horse people live in constant fear off, is colic. Again, seems innocuous enough right? I mean who hasn’t had a little colic, a bit of constipation here and there, some gas? Well, if you’re a horse, the word colic carries with it weight equal to that of words like cancer or apocalypse. In short, due to the unique anatomy of equine stomachs and intestines, indigestion kills. Kills suddenly and mercilessly. So there is that. It’s definitely nothing like when a dog gets upset stomach and barfs all over your favorite duvet. Not only is a horse physically unable to regurgitate its food btw, i.e. throw up, but as I had mentioned earlier, it can’t even rest it off on its back, since even laying down for too long is deadly to horses.

Another thing to mention is that unlike dogs, horses cannot breathe through their mouths, so when they have a cold, or an allergy, they can easily suffocate and, again, die. For the same reason horses often croak from simple choking.

With these few example, I am trying to illustrate why dog owners have no comprehension of what goes into horse ownership. No one really understands what it’s like to be dealing with a horse health problem, how all consuming and exhausting it can be, except for horse people of course. And this is just one dimension of horse ownership, the highly redacted physiological one. It is also why horse love is nothing like dog love. The more attention and worry something requires, never you mind money, the more significant the place it occupies in our worlds. Just from the perspective of wellness, horses are infinitely more complex and demanding than dogs. After spending years worrying and obsessing about every cough and every limp, the feeling we develop for our equine partners is infinitely deeper and more involved than the fuzzy uncomplicated affections we feel towards our sweet canine companions. It’s just simple math. Involvement and investment is commonly proportionate to attachment and meaning. The harder we work at something, the more we value the product of our labor. In the case of horse ownership and equestrianism, a live, sound horse is the product.

—–>Part 2// Why Horse love is nothing like dog love // The partnership, the sweat, the guts, the glory.

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On getting had

humor, miscellaneous

Right this moment, I am getting had.

Right this moment I am taking this picture, of my most noble beast stuffing her face with consolation grass. Why consolation? Today is the first day we ventured back out to the amazing Greenbelt, a jogging/biking park in the middle of the city! The journey to it, through town, is an easy 1.6 miles. We had made this journey a hundred times last year. I was pumped! Got up early, on a SATURDAY!

The second we stepped on it, she starts faking injury. Her favorite fake out is “Oy Mom, my butt hurts, oy, I must walk funny, not so funny that you make me eat yucky bute(anti-inflammatory) but funny enough so you worry.” I know this trick well, she knows me well too, however onto her I am, however eagerly I want to tear up that perfect, green grass, I am always doting Mama first. I always dismount, then she gives me that look “Oy, me so hungry, just one bite? just a taste?” and just like that, my best laid plans had gone to grass. She starts breakfasting, and I am relegated to  taking pictures and blogging about it from 10 feet away…like a fan.
Well played, mare. You win this time, but once I confirm your fakery is just that, you sly artista you, your ass will be flying up and down that grass like it’s on fire!

Update: The trickery has been confirmed! And the oscar goes to the the big bay cow, who has shown no signs of injury what so ever upon her return to the stable and during any of the following days. Sigh. Like I said, I got had!

 

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Revolt, escape, FREEDOM!..or..Reclamation of SANITY!

writing

Today I decisively reclaimed my sanity. I showed up at my stable at 7:30 am. Tacked up my horse. Jumped on her back and rode out of that hellhole, without a word to anyone. Sayonara bitches! I do not have a trailer, and did not have the time or want the hassle of arranging for one, so I grabbed a map and devised a route. We rode 4 miles through the city to my new barn destination, would have been 3.5 had we not gotten turned around. Some would say radical, but it was mostly just liberating. I’m sure it was a weird sight, a giant horse toting around a girl through streets and suburbs. But for me it was perfect, until, despite all of my planning, we got lost. At first it seemed a lot like a set-back, until we came upon a ravine I had never seen before, concealed as it were in a wash, below and between streets. Green at its floor and wide open ahead, it beckoned we lay foot to its soil and reconnoiter. It wasn’t a setback, it was a gift…and we accepted. There was gallop. Hooves bouncing rhythmically from grass, warm waves of air brushing against skin, blood rose to head and freedom to mind, sanity was once again firmly within our grasp.

 In my recent blog entry titled “Proximity over sanity” I had described the unfortunate circumstances of my horse’s lodgings. To sum it up, due to considerations of proximity I had subjected myself to continual indecency from the two “women” who own/run the stable. These two have over time proven themselves to be completely deranged, mostly rude, never helpful, seldom civil.

 For months I had walked on eggshells, tolerated being the subject of untrue gossip, endured castigating outbursts and unfounded suspicion. Boohoo, poor me. I know. Stay with me though. Riding had taken a backseat to escalating anxiety, to keeping a low profile, to worrying about the welfare of my equine child. I don’t mean to come of as a victim, but there is a frailty to my composition, which stems from being raised by good, decent, intelligent people. That’s the thing about a stable upbringing, it can be a hindrance in an unstable world. It precludes people like myself from developing the coping mechanisms necessary for fending off those people unlike myself. I should have thicker skin by this point, as my world-the horse world, is full of folks who would greatly benefit from a spell in a mental health sanitarium or, at least, a lithium prescription. But I don’t. I think in this way I’ll always be a bit of a delicate flower :P.

Being treated like dirt, it just doesn’t become me, and, on the few occasions in the past, I tried to fight fire with fire, mean with mean, insult with insult, but I felt so much unlike myself that it was not even worth it. The trouble is, somehow the ratio of crazy to sane is sorely disproportionate in the horse world. The greatest, most unifying flaws in horse people character are, in my opinion, lack of humility, perspective and restraint, in the worst-case scenario they are vicious too. In general, I’ve found also, that those, who lay claim to being paragons of kindness and compassion, tend to be the worst kind of snakes, most proficient at inflicting hurt. I am no saint, but I simply can’t attack people, not even in retaliation. I don’t want to wound them, to hurt them using their shortcomings or insecurities. I just don’t, I can’t. CAN ANYONE RELATE? This leaves me feeling defenseless and without any recourse, short of avoidance. But being a horse gal, I don’t have the luxury of avoiding horse folks. Sigh. Anyways, I digressed. I’ll have to expatiate on all the reasons for which I dislike human kind in a separate blog entry, eponymously titled Misanthropy Misunderstood. 😀

Thanks for reading.

On Sanity & Proximity

humor, writing

Proximity over Sanity? or The day I got yelled at and cried like a baby.

It became apparent to me today that I have traded my sanity for proximity. I want to warn you, in terms of entertainment value, this post is about as effective as a flat tire.  I don’t really want to burden you, reader, peruser or scanner, with the minutia of my daily life, but in this instance, it can’t be helped, as it is I who needs to unburden. And just as a disclaimer, I’d like to add that I too hate blogs where people discuss inconsequential occurrences in their day, like they are some universally relevant and relatable events. Be warned this thing falls under that peevish category.

To preface, I am a dedicated equestrian. I board at a facility with the unique advantage of extreme proximity. It is located no further than 4 miles from my home, which really means it’s magical. If you are not keeping your horses on your own property, and don’t live in the country, then you know what I mean, a centrally located barn is like the Chupacabra of the equestrian world. Furthermore, mine is reasonably priced, which is a miracle! So it’s both, magical and miraculous.

This barn’s inhabitants are an eclectic band of people and horses. It is overseen by two women, who live on the property, or quite literally in the barn, as they lodge in a structure attached to it. If one of them wasn’t big and the other one small, and if they didn’t have a gap of a few decades between them, they could quite literally be the same person. One owns it, the other one runs it. Both are about as hospitable as a flu, and entirely devoid of restraint, with a habit of raising their voices on a dime. I have learned from a few experiences here, that they are like hot skillets, as long as you don’t touch them, you’ll be ok….unless somehow one lunges itself at you of course (as it did at me today), then you are, quite frankly, fucked . The other trick to surviving here, in this viper’s nest of estrogen, conceit, gossip and bad manners, is to stay away from mostly everyone. Which is fine by me, since I am, by my own admittance, a bit of a misanthrope.

I try my best to be invisible, which is not hard, except that I am quite tall ;P. I don’t socialize, don’t partake in the chatter; and, since I am a night owl, I ride late and mostly alone.

Now to the meat of the matter. My horse’s stall is barely getting cleaned. In all the time me and her had been together, she had never been in a stall so disgusting or so menacing to the health of her feet. I don’t complain, this is not a barn where complains do anything other than come back at you in the form of tongue lashings. I try to do what I can when I can, and ward off abscesses with positive thinking.  Last night, I came to her around 8pm and noticed that the entirety of her feet was sunk into a swamp of waste. I got her out, worked her and, come 9, it became evident to me that I had to try and remedy the state of that stall. I got in there with one of those huge buckets, ruined my shoes and my clothes trying to muck out the mess and drain the soupier areas. I did the best I could in the dark. Having filled the bucket I realized that moving it was way beyond my physical capabilities. I did my best pulling it out of the way, reasoning that the stable hand, the guy who is supposed to do the mucking, will deal with it in the morning, using his god given male muscles. Now, it wasn’t something I readily expect of him, but he was my only option. I give him extra money rather frequently, we have a very friendly relationship. I intended to give him my profuse gratitude next time I saw him. Then I went to the giant pile of shavings and filled one poultry wheelbarrow, the cost of this action had been quoted to me at 20$ per wheelbarrow just 2 weeks ago when I used the shavings trying to yet again wrangle the sludge. Anyways blah blah blah, I did my best and left.

Today, first thing I did upon arrival at the barn, was I find one of the two governing bodies mentioned previously, shared with her my experience of muck in the dark, told her that I will, of course, add the cost of shaving from last night to my board check and asked if she had any ideas for a permanent solution. I assured her that I am willing to pay extra, if she feels that my stall is an extra bother, as long as it gets the attention it needs. With these people, I’ve realized, if you want something, you have to let them think it’s their idea. But moving on, yes, although it is already their job and responsibility to keep the stall clean, I offered extra money, in order not to let them think that I feel they are not doing their job. This story is getting too long even for me.

Following the conversation with the larger lady overlord, the other, small one, came up to me some half an hour later. The hot skilled was flung. Her exact words were:

“If you EVER leave a bucket full like that….

Me: “I am sorry I couldn’t move it and there was no one around to help me, I hoped M**** would move it in the morning, I dragged it away as far as I could..”

Her: “Well of course you couldn’t move it, and you shouldn’t expect anything of M*****”

Me: “I am pretty sure I already don’t, given the condition of my stall..and also I didn’t expect anything, I found myself in a unique situation, I misjudged my strength, there was no help. I knew M would do me the solid of taking care of it in the morning, I intended to thank him profusely, it was a singular occurrence, I didn’t mean any disrespect”

“ALL you do is disrespect me…!!!!!!!.”

“Huh? all I do?  disrespect you? What in the world are you talking about?! I am quiet as a mouse here, I have nothing to do with you and you never even see me”

“You try to come here and do these things when no one is looking at night…..”

“That’s ridiculous! Are you joking? Who says things like that to another person? I ride at night, I happened to see her in distress last night when i came just for a visit….”

“In distress? this is how it is for her every night..”

“Well then there is the problem!….”

She was beyond condescending and insulting. This senior, but quite sprightly, quite scary, lady was yelling at me, yes yelling, accusing me of what can only be described as underhanded behavior, like I am some thief, skulking around in the night, doing unseemly things when no one is looking. It’s asinine. My only, and singular concern, is always the well being of my horse. Tears started pouring down my face. It’s a real inconvenience, it makes me feel weak, plus I can’t see that well :P. I was emotional to a fault here, partly because the injustice was so great that I did not know how to address it. It was a full fledged assault on all that is my dignity. How do I respond? …. what do I say to accusations which are over nothing and based on nothing? It’s like adult bullying, I imagine if adults came at other adults with the intent of bullying them, this is how they would do it. Accuse someone of a scummy, intentional transgression, when the accused is, oh I don’t know, partaking in some innocent pastime, like feeding a hungry squirrel in the tree..or breathing.

The other reason for the tears was that I really could only respond with half of my conviction. And that’s incredibly hard for me, being as I am quite equipped verbally speaking. I had to swallow my words, whole sentences even, because despite everything, I am not ready to part with that god damn precious proximity

 If you read to this point, let me know in a comment, because congratulations, you are a paragon of patience. I would like a chance to properly applaud your steadfastness. Even I got bored with myself. Like I said earlier, writing this kind of thing is a bit of a crime. But it’s mighty cathartic! Maybe the fact that I Illustrated it with a scenic photograph will mitigate your disappointment, when I tell you, that there is no pay off. This is it. My horse lives in poo, I tried to fix it, ruined my shoes, got yelled at by a paranoid curmudgeonly old lady, cried like a baby, protested the injustice, went home and wrote a monster of a blog about it. Shoot me…with a marshmallow gun, I bruise like a peach.

Update: If you want to know what happened just a few short days later, please read: Revolt, escape, freedom..or..Reclamation of Sanity! I promise it’s riveting, life changing even. Dang, I’m such a liar. 😛