Friday, November 14, 2014


I've always believed that love is not enough.  You can love as much as you want but you still need to be reasonable, thoughtful and respectful.  I'm someone who loves animals with a capital L.  They feed my soul and bring serenity and balance to my life.

Today, love is not enough.  I can love Whiskey to the moon and back.  I do love her to the moon and back.  The simple truth is there is not enough love in the world to fix what is wrong with her.  On this cold and blustery day, Sam - the vet came out.  She wanted to rule out an easy fix.  Something like an abscess.  We stood in the cold wind and talked.  I'm not going to lie.  I've been around horses for a long time.  I know, deeply and intrinsically, when something is wrong.  And something is wrong with my beloved mare.  The vet thinks it's likely a broken bone in her foot or a torn suspensory.  We can do x-rays.  We can "de-nerve" her.  We can put on corrective shoeing.  But to what end?  I asked if x-rays would help.  Sam shrugged helplessly.  She said they would just tell us definitively what's wrong, not fix her.  Basically there is no fix.  I trust my vet.  She is skilled, experienced and maintains up to date practice.  She is a life long learner.  I trust my vet with my horses life.  All of the options presented don't change the outcome.  They just change the timeline.

We are looking at quality of life here.  My hope had been that she could manage to be a companion for Marnie.  The reality is that's not going to happen.  We're going to hobble through the next couple of weeks.  Feeding her bute, carrying her water, and leaving her snuggled up to a round straw bale.

I need the time to line up things.  My first choice is to get a back hoe in to dig a hole so Whiskey can rest at the farm.  The back hoe will be significantly more expensive but will bring me peace of mind.  Less desirable but possibly necessary will be to "book" the rendering truck.  Once I have the after care in place, I'll make an appointment to have Sam come put her down.

I love her enough to do the right thing, even though it's the hard thing for us humans.  Some days it sucks being responsible.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


As I opened up Blogger and scrolled down through my reading list I saw Liz's Setback post.  It was perfect timing for me to read and for the thoughts swirling around my head.

My dad called tonight.

This has been the first week of winter.  No one is acclimatized.  Not me.  Not the dogs.  Not the horses.  Dad called to tell me he's been taking buckets of water out to Whiskey who is now refusing to enter the corral area.  He said she's having a hard time walking.

Dad can be funny about stuff.  The neighbour never did water his horses.  Snow is fine and all that hooey.  He also never did feed unless it was a particularly deep snow winter.  I won't comment on what I think of his horse care practices... Anyhow, said neighbour and dad are buddies.

Big sigh.

Our conversation tonight centred around why water is necessary to maintain a healthy horse.  (There is an automatic waterer the horses have access to - Whiskey is just not walking to it.)  It then shifted to my dad telling me that Whiskey needs shoes.

Huge sigh.

Go figure.  They guy who wonders if it's necessary to provide fresh water wants to put $120+ shoes on a pasture horse.  That's plain shoes and pads, without the necessary borium for winter traction.

This thought led me to Liz's post.  Which was perfectly aligned with what I was thinking.

The horse shoes.  Are they for the horse?  Or for my father?

I won't lie.  I'm really worried.  Is this just a blip?  A rough transition to our frozen world?  Or a forecast of the future?  Can Whiskey realistically handle our rough winters?

What I do know is I'll be driving out tomorrow to see how she's doing.  I'll bring another can of Venice Turpentine.  We'll start there and see if it helps her tender toes.  I've also placed the farrier "on alert".  Bottom line - is the right call to the vet or the farrier?  Because if I can't keep her sound enough to survive then I'll do what's right.  Regardless of how it'll hurt my father who loves this horse with every fibre.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Win Some, Lose Some.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we competed at FarmFair International.  There were a total of 42 dogs entered in the competition.  On Tuesday I kept both dogs with me in the waiting area.  I wanted them to get used to the noises of people, announcers and to realize that there were sheep and herding to be had.  Diva was up first at the 12th dog in the running order.

Diva, apparently, is deaf.  Who knew?

What a little rotter.  It was the longest four minutes of my life.  Little shit refused to take any of her commands.  She was there for a good time, not a long time.  So, on the Wednesday and second day of competition, I ran down the arena the moment she showed me she was going to ignore me.  I sent her on her flanks, and made her lie down.  I needed to show her that working somewhere different did not mean she could do what she wanted.

Ryder was a surprise.

I fully and completely expected him to melt down.  He is such a wimpy soul.  He freaks out all the time over sounds and strange stimuli.

But he didn't.  Who knew?

His first "go" was ok.  He was a bit sticky which isn't like him.  He got a bit stuck on the sheep at the top of the arena.  He did come around and was moving the very heavy and tough to move sheep.  However, he got in too close and made some chasing and "gripped" or bit the sheep.  The second day I don't think he bit but we still got called off for biting.  Such is the game.  It's a lot of skill, and a bit of luck.

Overall, I'm happy with the experience.  I wanted to know how the dogs would perform.  Now I know exactly what I need to work on to help them reach competition levels.  Quite frankly, Diva may not be the calibre needed.  I'll work with her over the winter and try again in the spring.

Sorry, no pictures or video.  I was a bit distracted with nerves to set anything up.

Monday, November 3, 2014

One Down, Two to Go

Today I was up at what felt like the crack of dawn.  It wasn't but I hate time change and was a bit jacked about the upcoming day.  I loaded the truck with dog crates, and other dog things.  Like toys.  I'm weird in that I never travel without toys.  It was a two hour drive to the arena that the stock dog trial was being held.  The whole time leading up to this trial I had done a lot of self talk.  I have approached the dogs first trial as a learning experience.  I will learn.  They will learn.  It's all I can ask.  After all, the dogs have not had the most optimal training experiences.  It's sporadic.  It's taken me three years to do something that should have taken 3-6 months.  My dogs are four. (!!)

The first thing I did when I pulled in was look for the washroom.  I looked.  I looked some more.  It was to my dismay that there was only an outhouse.  Annnnd....

No. Running. Water.  Ick.

I reevaluated my strategy and began operation liquid intake limitation.  You can imagine the relief I felt - literally - at stopping for diesel.

The thing with stock dog trials is it's a hurry up and wait kinda situation.  So I hurried.  And then I waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  I ended up scribing (marking down scores and timing) for the open runs - all 42 of them.

Finally our turn arrived.  Even though I was committed to this being a learning enterprise, I was still nervous.  Funny how that works.

Diva was up first.  She was the dog I was confident in.  The dog I thought would be my "chance".  Ooops....  not so much.  The little bugger wouldn't take her flanks, got stuck on the sheep.  I ended up leaving the post and helping her get moving.  Her second run showed improvements but also major areas I need to work on.  She may end up having too much "eye" to make a good trial dog.  Time will tell.

Ryder was the second of my dogs to run.  After Diva, my nerves were ramped right up.  Legs tremoring I walked him to the post.  He started a little rough but settled down and worked pretty good.  He was a bit sticky on his flanks but started smoothing out as the run went on.  I was stunned to find out he was the fast time of the first go.  His second run I went into with more confidence.  And then the sheep wouldn't move.  They faced him.  Stomped their feet.  Shook their heads.  And he bit them.  An automatic disqualification.  Ryder is not a "gripper".  He never does it at home.  In fact, I've been encouraging him to engage the sheep.  He is not very interested in it.  I guess he does bite.

All in all, an interesting day was had.