Tuesday, October 20, 2009

And Now That I Am Home...

Funny how quickly Colorado became home. Other than missing my girl so much, it feels really good to finally get back to being a productive member of society. Well, at least it feels like I am back to being productive. My Honey seems to appreciate my working at the office and dealing with the issues and paperwork that is just not up his alley.

I'm not so sure that Meg is as happy staying in SD as she thought she would be. But like all teenagers...she just kinda hates to change schools at the moment. It has to be hard to do that when you are in the most dramatic time of your life...those lovely teenage years. I wouldn't know. I went to the same school from the time I started school until I graduated. I hated it so much. I used to dream about getting to move to someplace new and getting to go to school with kids that weren't as awful as the kids I had to go to school with. I'm sure that moving wouldn't have been as wonderful as it was in my mind. High School is High School. Kids are kids. And this really isn't about me. Both My Honey and I want Meg out here with us. We miss her. I miss her terribly. We just have to give Meg the time she needs to hopefully realize that it doesn't really matter where you are...as long as you have family that loves you.

Moon and Frosty were pretty happy to see me. It's so obvious now that the negative energy is gone. It was so beautiful yesterday, I kept thinking I would get out of the office early in the afternoon so I could ride...Yea, who was I trying to kid? Getting everything caught up after being gone for a week and it was a Monday? Of course, today I got out of there early...but it was raining. It's definitely Fall!

It was really my intention to bring back another project horse with me, but since I have to go back to SD in a couple of weeks, I decided to wait until then. But you know what? I think I am going to bring Shooter and Beretta out here with me this winter. I miss Shooter and I really want to get to spend time with Beretta.

What I would really like to do is bring ALL of my horses out here this winter. I'm pretty much over the whole "family" thing. I have always maintained a reasonable number of horses that I owned personally. It's the rest of them that let themselves go gung-ho. I really did try to get done what I could to help out, but just could not seem to make any headway. I am not the type of person to simply keep beating my head against the wall if nothing is happening. It's a shame to see such a fine bunch of horses sit there and go to waste, but at least they won't starve or get dumped on the market. I have to go on with the nice ones I have raised for myself.

So I'm on the hunt for a pasture with water on it to rent for Chunk and Beauty. I can put a portable shelter on it for them and all they will need is hay. Moon, Frosty and Strawberry can stay at the boarding facility. There is enough room here at the house to put up a very large corral, we'll put a portable shelter and Shooter and Beretta can camp here for the winter.

The only one I am a bit concerned about is my 25y/o mare. She looked a bit sucked up when I brought her in from the pasture. But in just the few days I had her up and fed her hay, she started filling up quickly. All she needs is plenty of hay, a bit of grain when it starts getting really cold, warm water and a dry shelter and I think she would winter fine. However, I have to wonder how fair it is to her to haul her 700 miles and over those mountain passes at her age?

Life is so not fair is it? I made the decision to put a healthy horse to sleep because she just did not fit anywhere and here I am not even wanting to contemplate putting a truly old horse down. Of course there is a 23 year history behind me and this old girl. She has been a very important part of my equestrian life since I was 16y/o. I learned so much of what I know at her expense, I trusted her with my daughter, she gave me Moon and Shooter. I owe her a lot. But I always kind of figured she would get to be buried on the ranch where she was born. I hate the thought of hauling her out here and if something should happen...well, you guys know what I mean. Anyway...it's going to take some thinking to figure this one out and come to a decision where I won't look back and think that was a really bad idea.

So putting yourself in the same position...what would you guys do? Bite the bullet and cut a possible couple of more years off or take the chance that in the end a favored horse might not get the dignity of being buried on the family land?

I gotta say...this one is pretty emotional for me. It's not something I would be able to do myself either. I would have to ask someone else to handle it. For me the worst part of losing a horse or having to put one down is always the dealing with the body and the burying. I don't like it, but for the most part I can deal with it. I absolutely cannot bear the thought of having to drag my old girl's body out of the trailer and watching it flop into the grave. Nope! I may be pretty strong about a lot of things, but even I have a limit to what my heart can handle.


Michelle said...

I'd say it really depends on your mare. We had horses that we showed at 23 and they were hauled all over the place with no ill effects (they DID NOT enjoy retirement at all, we tried). I don't think age is a disease, and 23 really isn't all that old. If she's relatively healthy and you feel better having her with you, bring her out!

Vaquerogirl said...

That is a hard one... Has your mare travelled before? Recently? would you be there to groom and feed and love on her? Because I think that if the human connection is there, the horse won't care where her hay is fed. And as for dignity of death- she won't care where her body goes-you will. She will only know the daily love and care- or lack thereof. Plus who else will make sure she is getting the care an older mare needs? I'd haul her to where I was (were she mine)
And don't feel badly about not being able to be there at the moment of her demise- I haven't been able to do that with my horses either_ and I've lost a few.(dogs,cats guinea pigs yes-horses no!) I usually try to set it up with my friends to 'help' each other out in this unique instance. I do their horse, they do mine.
What ever you decide I'm sure you will make the best of it.

Paint Girl said...

That is good that you are bringing your other horses to live with you. I would have a hard time being apart from them, especially babies!
I probably would bring your older mare to you. That way you can keep an eye on her. I know that you will make the decision that is right for her, and for you.

Mikey said...

Tough decision. I have no answers for you. Supposed to be a hard winter this year (they say that every year though)
Glad you got home safe!

~The South Dakota Cowgirl~ said...

My high school and college rodeo horse is now 28 years old. Last year he traveled here to SD for the summer, back to TX for the winter and then I brought him back with me in April, and took him back to TX in Spt. He travels well- I just make sure to wrap his legs and have some IV Bute on hand should he need it.

Will she have a barn if she stays? See to me, what makes life hard on our old ponies is the cold winters, foraging for feed if they're turned out etc.

I am sure you'll make the right choice.

cdncowgirl said...

I think you are horsewoman enough to know if the travelling will be too hard on your old girl.
That said, if she's good to go *I* would bring here. If it were me I'd be more comfortable knowing *exactly* what kind of care she does (or doesn't) have.

Also, have you looked into equine cremation? Might not be the most feasible thing for every horse but for one that means that much to you... Also then no matter where you live you'd have her with you.

cdncowgirl said...

I think you are horsewoman enough to know if the travelling will be too hard on your old girl.
That said, if she's good to go *I* would bring here. If it were me I'd be more comfortable knowing *exactly* what kind of care she does (or doesn't) have.

Also, have you looked into equine cremation? Might not be the most feasible thing for every horse but for one that means that much to you... Also then no matter where you live you'd have her with you.

Adventures of a Horse Crazed Mind said...

Tough call... I'd ask myself where she will be happiest and have the best care and where she'll have the most stable herd. I'd have to be certain that the extra care she'd get from the move would be worth the upset. I'd also be sure that she'll be able to have her closest buddy with her 24/7. Is there a horse that is her b.f.f. at home that you'll be able to take with you? As much as a horse might love you they tend to get the most comfort from their herd buddy. Even if she makes a new buddy I'd think about how it will work if that buddy is going to be on the road with you, being ridden out or being switched out for a different horse every so often. I would only move her if I was worried that she might not get all the care (both physical and emotional) she needs at the ranch. I wouldnt worry so much about the haul, I'm sure you can give her a good trip and keep her pain free.

Also, about Megan... I left my high school for my grade 12 year and found it really, really difficult. Not only did I have a bunch of trouble in my new school (girls of that age are so clicky). I missed that grad thing and kind of regret it. I was also away from my Mom and there were a lot of bad effect from not having her there to watch out for me... so... There is no easy answer. If you think Meg might get in trouble from not having you around to watch over her I'd push to get her moved. Missing my grad stuff sucked but the worst by far was the trouble I got in to because I didnt have a parent around who cared.

City girl turned Country Girl said...

Well I too am glad you have made the decision to bring some home with you... I really hope you get your situation with Megan worked out. I know your Mommy heart must be breaking!! My J went to Indianapolis for an FFA convention and he's only gonna be gone 5 days and it's killing me.. But you are right about the whole friends and being comfortable where she is at. I know a few kids that have moved away from here of course because their families moved and they HATE being away from our small town high school!

As far as your 23 yr old mare goes, I would ask you this. Which is more important to you; That you get to spend time with her while she's here on this earth? Or that she be buried on your family land? It really needs to go with your heart. If you think you can get her healthy again, she may live many more years...I hope this helps you somehow..

Leah Fry said...

She'll let you know what the right thing is, and your heart will listen.

Mrs Mom said...

Welcome home lady! Glad you made it OK ;)

Woofer... listen to your gut. I moved Jack from Tunrda Country to VA when he was 36, and he did well. He lived 4 more years. Only regret I have? He isn't buried here with me on the coast. But thats MY regret- not his.

Sleep on it. And listen to your gut.

Andrea said...

Colorado is home....sigh....some day I will say that too. I am glad you are loving it out there. And how exciting to move all your horses out there!! Will Blue go too? Oh I would miss that big chunk of blue roan horse!

And about your older mare.....I think that if you think she can make the haul then take her and use her. You know how she is and if she could handle it. Winters are rough everywhere, but if the horse has a loving person to take care of them it makes it so much easier. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. It's a tough one.

Reluctant Cowboy said...

In the last 20 years I've had to bury 6. Of those only 2 were by our decision. We are currently debating over the daughters 29 yr old barrel horse. My stance has always been as long as the horse is not in pain and still has the will to live then they have a place at the trough. Either way it does hurt to lose old friends. Our old boys job for the last 4 years has been to take care of the weanlings. He does a great job. So for this winter it is extra grain and blankets when needed. A small price to pay. Just our way at looking at it.

Take care

Laura said...

Glad you made it home safely... Not having Meg there must be tough for you - I can understand about not wanting to swtich schools, but still - sometimes change is good...

Great news that you are going to bring all of your horses out with you - sounds like you have some good options... As for your older mare - that is a tough call. I'm sure you'll do what is right for both of you. I would personally want to have her with me, if I knew she could travel... but maybe that just isn't practical.

Danielle Michelle said...

OK - I did the same thing when I moved out here - and I decided to do it. My mare was about 25, not that great of a keep already, and after I first brought her out here (I moved in December) the elevation and the trip from MI caused her to colic bad. Luckily she was a tough old *itch and coliced while I was gone at work. By the time I had heard from the neighbor, gotten home and gotten some banamine in her she was already on the mend. Never had a problem after that. She gave me almost 5 more good of small local spped shows, moving cattle off pasture and just going for rides in the mountians. Feeding her the senior and warming up water and food in the winter was well worth it.

I thik I could have avoided the problems I faced a week after the move if I had been more prepared. Be sure to have her REALLY well hydrated durig the trip and when you get back. I think she went off the 'drink' a bit when we got back and the dehydration played it's toll on her.

She was the first horse that was ever mine, taught me how to barrel race, taught me how to jump, and basically was my best friend for a long time. I finally put her down last year due to a tumor in her throat. It was hard, but I was happier letting her go then than I would have if I had decided too earlier. It wasn't her time yet and she deserved it.

Good luck. It's never easy even when it's a necessity.

Anonymous said...

I do not see how you can think about puttng another horse down??
I would take her with me and enjoy her as long as you can.
It has to be hard to leave your daughter in SD but wonder if she would be happy to move.
What ever you decide will be a good choice.

Christina said...

That is such a hard decision and I have one that is somewhat similar. I have a 27 yr old mare I have owned for 18 yrs. She was my show horse as a teen, taught all my kids to ride and we raised a few babies out of her..one of which my dad kept and is his stallion. Last winter she didnt fare well and the thoughts of putting her to sleep crossed my mind and there were several discussions about it. We chose not to and this summer she did put some weight back on. But I fear that no matter how well we care for her this winter it may not be enough to keep her weight up and we may once again be faced wtih this possibility of having to put her down... It is a tough one.

Adventures of a Horse Crazed Mind said...

Anonymous- I am sure BECG is really lovin' the idea of having to put her horse of 23 years down...! Seriously, get over yourself.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

You guys are a wonderful sounding board...THANK YOU!

I have started to comment several times, but have just been absolutely swamped the last few days. Things are coming together in all areas-I have hired an admin/assist. at the office...I have NO freaking idea there was THAT much stuff to take care off in there, I've tried to fit in some riding time-mostly just managed just a bit of horse time, and I'm looking/pricing the panels I'll need to get my pens set up.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Horse Crazed-I have thought about Anon's comment several times. I do understand a question like that. I'm almost surprised more people didn't wonder that aloud. I'm sure it has crossed a few minds.

It's entirely possible that anon does not know/realize that we have 28 head of horses. With ages ranging from newborn to 25y/o. Nearly everything we have are horses we have bred and raised. So that means that we owned their mothers...and in some cases we owned their mother's mothers. Frosty is a 4th generation-I bred him, his mother, her mother and we owned his mother's mother's mother for nearly all of her life. Blue is the son of a mare my step-dad raised and he raised her mother and had her mother and her motherfor many, many years as well. So that is 5 generations.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

These things always seems to come in spurts. In the last 8 years we have put down a total of 4 horses-2 age/health related and 1 cripple and Queen. Queen is the only healthy horse we have ever put down, that any of us can remember. Definitely a sign of the changing times. I hope never to have to make that decision again. But I still think it was the best thing I could have done for that particular horse in that particular instance.

In 1989 and 1990, we had to put 6 horses to sleep...all age and health related. They were the mothers to most of the horses we have now. The youngest one was 24. Most of them were already in their late teens when we bought them. Used up old broodmares that were headed to kill. We purchased them specifically for their bloodlines and with the idea that with good care we could get one really good foal. We accomplished that. But most of them had been so lacking in care for most of their lives and had popped out baby after baby, they were worn out. Good care in the end only gave them a bit more time.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

If the truth be known...part of the reason I am fighting with my mom is because I believe there is 3 more head of horses on the place that need to be put down this winter. It's too much for her(without me there) and yet she cannot seem to get it through her head that if she would just let me handle this, things wouldn't be so difficult. Plus, I don't think any animal needs to get the point of looking like crap before making the decision.

One is a 19y/o retired roping mare. She has severe bursitis in her shoulders so cannot be ridden anymore. She is way too hot to make a kid's horse and we do not want a foal out of her. She did not winter all that great last year and yet when she is kept in a corral, she colics regularly. What do you do with that?

One is a 9y/o mare, not broke to ride. Her mother stepped on her hind fetlock when she was a baby. She has never been completely sound. And it seems to be getting worse. Breeding quality maybe-but we have 3 FULL sisters to her. Not exactly a shortage of that bloodline.

The last one is Megan's old pony. In pony years he's not that old, only 24-26y/o. But he is a founder (and I suspect, a thyroid) case. Even with good care, it's been a constant battle to keep him sound and doing good. We looked around to see if anyone in the area needed an excellent kid's pony because he is an absolute sweetheart. Can't find anyone who would take care of him like he needs. I have threatened to UPS him to Mrs Mom for her boys.

Even in a good horse market, these aren't functioning horses. They are also the kind that will suck your resources and energy dry trying to keep going...for what?

I mean let's feel free to debate this subject guys...is it out of line to draw the line?

Flying Lily said...

I hope I don't sound like Doctor Equine Death or something, but I am a big fan of the well-timed euthanasia for horses. When a horse starts to decline, is in regular pain, is not doing well any more, and is creeping around the pasture on bad days, then I say let them go with dignity and thanks. Not that it's easy, but it is something we can do for them that is kind.

BrownEyed: Your life is now in 2 places to some extent and that is hard. Meghan's is too, with her mama far away. Yet this might be the emotionally easier path for her (school continuity) and it does give you the concentration you need for establishing your identity in the new place. I am so glad you are bringing Shooter! I love that guy.

Country Gal said...

I know how hard it must be for you to have to make some of these decisions about your horses.
Guess I can see putting down sick horses but not the healthy ones.
My heart goes out to you for having to make some of these decisions.
God Bless

Reluctant Cowboy said...

Your situation is the part of ranch life that is tuff to deal with and maintain a soft heart. Sounds like your mom is a softy like myself we may not like it and grump but deep down I do understand
and I hope she would too. With our 16 I have stopped anymore new ones until I get our pastures fixed. The prior owner ran 70 and devastated the pastures. Our top broodmare will be leased out. Sometimes ya gotta get creative to work things out. For me the aches and pains of getting up every morning has soften my views on my older horses stiff days. It's just a part of life and we deal with it the best we can. There is a difference between a limp from mild pain and non weight bearing. That is where it is so tuff to evaluate quality of life vs friendship vs usability.

I wish you well and your not alone in these issues.

Adventures of a Horse Crazed Mind said...

I certainly didnt mean to cut in on one of your readers and typical of the written word I can see how my comment could be read to be harsher than I intended...as perhaps Anon. comment came across harsher than she or he intended...I didnt take offence to her opinion but believe people should express a contrary opinion in a manner that is respectful of the sensitivity of the issue, especially when your post so clearly expressed how difficult of an issue this is for you. The question, "I dont see how can you think of putting another horse down?" to me cast aspirations on your intent, compassion and the level of seriousness you'd take in making such a difficult decision, which I thought was presumptuous to say the last and got my back up in your defesive...however, that may not have been Anon's intent and either way it is not my blog, and not my place to edit your comments or readers...and so, I apologize.

Adventures of a Horse Crazed Mind said...

I fall very firmly one side of this issue and believe that horses must earn their keep in some form or another. I respect that some people put a tremendous value on the sanctity of life issue and do not feel that the financial implications of keeping a horse long term should weigh into the equation....however, for me, the cost of keeping a horse that is of no use to anyone, just for the sake of maintaining life, is not realistic option...especially when sentimental value is not of issue. Keeping three horses for even five years would pay for a year of Meg's university education, feed a sponsor child for years and could make a huge difference in the life of a needy family, war vet., sick child, mother or friend. Keeping one horse for 10 years could easily equate to $12,000-$25,000...or more. For what? So that a horse can sit in a field, eat, shit, breathe and then die a natural death ten years down the road? At the cost of $20,000? I don't think that is reasonable when the alternative is that you can offer that horse a humane, stress free and painless death....much more than a lot of horses, dogs and people are afforded.

As for quality of life (pain) issues, I feel that we very often put our own sentiment above the best interest of the animal. If any animal is in an inhumane level of pain (that can not be remedied or relieved to within a humane level) there is no question in my mind that animal should be put down. I guess I do not believe that death is punishment. It is the people left behind that must bear the burden of "playing God" and deal with emotional pain of their pets loss... if it means deciding between my own pain or the pain of a helpless animal, I choose to be the one that suffers.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Horse Craze-Oh kiddo, I certainly did not intend to negate you coming to my defense. I always welcome your input and opinion. You are MORE than welcome to say anything you want on this blog! I very much appreciate having such a wonderful group of regular readers. We have all shared so much over the last year or two that we "get" each other.

I think the more we can express openly about ALL the realities of equine ownership, the more we can bring things around in the equine world and make things better for future generations. We'll never get rid of all the crazies. But if we can create a relatively consistent opinion that Yes-the vast majority of horse owners expect a certain level of productivity out of their horses and if you have that expectation that it makes drawing the line on how far you are willing to go to keep non-functioning horses around much easier. This whole era of "let's see how long we can get a horse to live" has not behooved the last couple of generations of horses who were coming up. Too many horses raised? You bet! Too many people insisting on keeping a non-functioning horse to the bitter end? Got way too much of that. Age does not matter if a horse can be a functioning member of the equestrian world. Age doesn't matter if that horse is healthy, relatively low maintenance and has sentimental value. Age should also not matter if the horse is dangerous, crippled, in pain or deformed in any way.