Archive for the ‘Horses’ Category

Yak’s Very Bad Day

I just want you to know that we didn’t get a yak yesterday. I would guess the vast majority of you are in the same boat but I’m not sure how many of you got a call that a yak would be dropped off at your house. If you did get that call, please comment below. I would love to hear your story and compare notes. 

Sometime mid-afternoon, I got a call from a friend that there was a trailer heading to my house with a yak. It was on death row for its part in the death of a horse, which appears to have died of yak induced fear. The yak’s lawyers would like you to know he was charged with manslaughter not murder, and the yak is holding that he was not responsible for what happened. Either way, the yak owners were horrified at the sudden death of the horse and my friend agreed that we would take it and slaughter it for meat. I gave instructions about moving the goats to one pasture and putting yak in the other and heard nothing else.When I got home, no yak. I called my friend and she didn’t know either so our assumption is, the yak was issued a pardon. Oh joyous day for that yak! He has been pardoned!

We are happy for the yak and sad for the horse owners. Loosing one’s riding partner suddenly is heart wrenching and our sympathies go out to the affected family. 

Until next time, love your lovies. Your time with them is finite. 

Next up is my adventures in harvesting goats. 




There days when I can’t handle the never-ending construction and the hemorrhaging money into a house we can’t live in. I wonder if it’s worth it to pay the insanely high price of real estate, that this area commands and I question the sanity of living in California. On those days, we ignore the list of stuff we have to do, my sister-in-law (who has her own list of things that make her question the value of ranch) and I load up the horses and head 30 minutes to the State Park. We tack up, throw on our coats to protect us from the chilly ocean breeze, weave through the throngs of kids on bikes that Wilder Ranch State Parks draws, and in just one hour we find ourselves here:

In a meadow, between the forest and the ocean, it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else.

So Sweet!

I recently figured out how to get all 800 photos off of my phone and into my computer. Amongst the photos, I found this sweet shot of Moo brushing Summit. Moo was getting a lesson on the proper brushes to use for various grooming tasks. This brush is the softest of soft face brushes, made with baby fine goat hair. From the looks of it, Summit approves.

A Horse With No Name

I got a new colt.

Dave was not stoked but after seeing how mellow the little guy is, he was less not stoked. If less not stoked is even a possibility in states of being. Lake Shasta Paints was having a dispersal sale and well, you know us, we can’t pass up a good deal. I think Dave is wearing off on me.

He has nice breeding but at five months old, he’s in an ugly phase. It’s unfortunate to judge colts this age. He is crooked legged and butt high. Dave can straighten the legs, a bit, through corrective trimming, something you can only do when they are very young. The butt is probably just  growing phase but there’s always a possibility he will never even all the way out. Despite those things, he is a pretty awesome little guy. I’m not drawn to paints like some people are, which is weird since I have two but I’m enjoying his markings. He has little curvy devil ears that match the little devil horns marking on his face. He also has a Cruella De Vill white streak in his forelock.

My favorite feature is his crazy mane. He has super fine hair and goes in every direction at once.

His dam had a long mane with very fine hair. I think he’s going to have hair just like hers.

He’s living at my Sister-in-Law’s until I’m sure we can catch him. He’s not rowdy but he’s shy and he will walk away from humans when they go in his pen. He is really interested in the big horses and wants nothing more than to hang out with them.

He has a papered name of Amigo’s Kahlua Man but I’m thinking of changing it to Amigo’s Smokey Bar. I haven’t figured out his barn name (for those of you who don’t speak horse a barn name is what we call him around the barn. It’s too hard to say, “Please saddle up Amigo’s Kahlua Man.”) I’ve tried Jackson and I don’t hate it but it’s lacking something. As of today I’m trying whiskey, since his papered name has the booze reference. A friend suggested moonshine, which I like but it’s too many syllables. Eventually I would call him shine but there’s a line of horses with shine in their name and I don’t want anyone getting confused. I’m hoping his name will grow organically, like all of my other critters. I want to call him Hell of  a Nice Guy but again, too many syllables.

Don’t you just want to squeeze him? (I tried it and he didn’t like it much but he let me.)

Beauty Parlor Day (Prinz’s Version)

Some animals are more inclined to like beauty parlor day than others. Prinz likes it but doesn’t love it enough to abandon all of his dignity. He seems to quietly enjoy the brushing. I took Moo and Jules out to see him and Inca before their big move to the ranch, to check on them and make sue they were ready to travel. Moo brought out her brand new, all pink (and I do mean PINK!)grooming set. We talked horse safety and grooming techniques.

Don came out to check out the scene and brought his dog DJ, who wasn’t all that interested in helping but was very interested in checking the grooming box for stray horse cookies that might have fallen out.

I wasn’t kidding when I said the grooming kit was pink. Moo brushed out Prinz’s tail with care. (Horse tails take so long to grow, we try not to break hairs when we brush them.)

Prinz is sensitive to fly, which will eat him raw if we don’t stop it. During this time of year we take extra precautions, including these adorable fly booties:

…and a cream that stops the flys from eating him raw but he hates. Here I am putting on the cream while he tries to kick me. We’re working on this.

The whole time we did this, Inca looked on in horror…

I think he knew that his turn was coming. Stay tuned for the next installment of “Beauty Parlor Day.”

Summit Update

Remember my skinny, faded, dry coated, rescue horse, Summit? Well this summer, he has decided to blossom into quite the good-looking guy. He’ still a little bit of a conformational nightmare but at least his body composition and coat quality has improved. I would like to say it’s something I did but it was all my sister-in-law. She figured out what hay he can’t eat and then put him in with the oooooold horses who won’t chase him off the hay (because they have no teeth to eat it.) Combine that with the fresh grass to balance out the bacteria in his gut and he is lookin’ good. He’s also a full of himself now so I’m working on humbling him but it’s preferable to having to urge him to go forward constantly.


I’ve been avoiding this. Danielle’s been avoiding this. Everyone has been avoiding this. For the second time this year, I announce the sad passing of another beloved horse. On Sunday, Cholla was euthanized.

I can not possibly do justice to the memory of Cholla. She was a best friend, a loyal companion and a princess. I have been around horses my whole life and I have never met a horse that was so gentle around people. She was also the pickiest eater of any equine I have ever known but the way she did it was charming. We were helpless slaves for her. She would decide one day that she no longer liked her grain, at which time she would politely push the tub away and say, “No thank you.” And we would say, “Oh sweetheart, can I get you something else instead?” Then we would promptly depart for the feed store without a hint of crankiness towards the diminutive mare, who turned down meal after meal. I’m convinced she was french in her last life and was concerned about keeping her girlish figure.

If you’ve been following the blog, you know Cholla had been having some problems with her arthritis. After the fire department came out to get her up, the day she couldn’t, Dr. Heather Baker and Danielle came up with a plan to ease her pain and make her mobile again. It worked amazingly well at first but the wolves of old age will only be held at bay for so long. Dave and I took the kids out there on Saturday and I noticed She was stiff for the first time since we started the heavy treatment. I gave her two different shots of joint-juice that day and let her out to wander around the property to graze for a couple of hours. The kids got out the brushes and took off her remaining winter coat. The Boy fed her all the leaves from the willow tree that she would eat, which wasn’t many because the grass was new and far more tempting. Moo sat on Cholla, so she could reenact a photo she had seen of Danielle, sitting backwards on Cholla. Cholla, who thrives on attention, was content.

The next morning, she couldn’t get up. I was at work so Paula called Dave and he went down there to help. Dr. Baker came out to help and gave Cholla all of the drug she had on her truck. Paula’s entire extended family was at the house for Easter, rooting for Cholla. Cholla still could not get up and it wasn’t like the other times. She wasn’t fighting for it, like she had before. For those who have been at that pivotal moment in a horse’s life when you know that euthanasia is the kindest thing but your heart still worries if it’s too soon for that, there’s a conversation that happens between horse and human. It starts with forgiveness and ends with “please.” Cholla was having that conversation. She told Heather, then she told Dave. Then Dave called Danielle so Cholla could have the conversation with her. I don’t know if the conversation transcends that sort of distance but Dave tried to translate as best he could. At the end of the conversation, Cholla sighed and went to sleep, completely peaceful.

Paula called me at work to let me know that she had been put down. I kept it together long enough to get through my last hour. When I tried to call Danielle on the way home to offer my condolences, I turned into a complete blubbering idiot. I don’t know if my message made sense but I do know it mostly consisted of high-pitched squeaking noises.

The humans sat with Cholla for hours. By the time I got there, Dave and Paula had prepared the body for burial in a way that is oddly traditional, though no horse owners that I know talk about it. They had braided her tail and cut it. We sat with her drinking Moscow Mules and repeating the phrase of the day, “Fuck Easter.” Paula’s sister brought us snacks. Maybe she was concerned about the grief and alcohol mixing with the family tension and causing the scene or maybe she was just merciful. Either way, it was appreciated.

After the family left, we took Cholla to Redemption, where our neighbor with a tractor buried her. She’s next to Galaxy. When Dave has some time, he’s going to clean up the brush and vines in that area and I’m going to plant flowers. Lots and lots of calla lilies for Galaxy and whatever Danielle wants for Cholla.

Blue Piggy was also euthanized on Sunday, an hour after Cholla. We had been treating him for a mystery illness that had come on fast and strong. I don’t know much about pigs but I do know it was the worst sudden illness I have ever seen in an animal. When we decided to put him down, he was almost unable to move and was gasping, despite two days of antibiotics. Blue Piggy did not go gently into that good night, he raged, raged, raged against the dying of the light. I can’t say anything more about his death except I never hope to experience a death like his again. He is also buried next to the girls. I’m not sure if he’s the type of guy who would like flowers on his grave but he’s getting them. Maybe I’ll just plant ferns for him. Big bristly ferns.