Hello! It’s time for a quick catch-up. Like many of you, the pandemic has kept me close to home. Here in Maine we’re dealing with winter weather. We’ve had frigid temperatures. I’ve been waking up to really cold mornings. This week it was -5 °F. (That’s -20 °C) It’s also rained (which just isn’t right for this northern state in winter!). Then it got cold again. Slush over frozen ground, dangerous roads, and thick ice everywhere. It’s not safe to turn horses out on such footing. Tonka is limited to his stall’s runout and I didn’t want that to be unusable until March, so I was proactive. Earlier this winter, I cut drainage slots in the berm to provide an exit for water. This is what the runout looked like after the rain. If I’d let this freeze, Tonka wouldn’t get outside for at least a month.
Right after it rained I got out there and shoveled and scraped. The next day there was still a patch of ice, which I covered with sand. That effort was worth it. Tonka is able to go outside safely.
Yesterday it was 15 °F. But there was bright sunshine and no wind. Good weather! So I took off Tonka’s blanket and groomed him in the sun. Even when the temperature is this low, I remove Tonka’s blanket every other day and give him a good curry. It’s healthy for his skin and his mind.
To bring some interest to my horse’s days, sometimes I bring new foods for Tonka to try. I was surprised that Tonka flatly rejected the romaine lettuce. Wouldn’t even nibble it. But he loved asparagus!
After weeks of stall rest, I didn’t see any improvement in Tonka’s lameness. After a discussion with his veterinary team, it was decided to try limited hand-walking of 5 minutes daily. There’s a risk that a horse who’s been confined will be too bouncy and injure themselves further. On our walks it’s clear that Tonka would love to let loose, but that he knows it would hurt. He’s been a very good boy and has walked (not leapt) around the indoor. The movement has helped! He had been taking stumbling steps where I could see him wince in sudden discomfort. Now he’s limping in an even way, no sharp stabs of pain. I’m hoping that means that the small bone chip stuck on his ligament is being encased in healed tissue.
The Haygain Forager is doing exactly what I’d hoped. Tonka has hay in front of him 24/7 but he’s not overeating. The constant chewing keeps his tummy healthy. Also, instead of eagerly looking out of his stall for what’s next,
he stands near the Forager, contentedly munching. As cute as that face is looking down the aisle, what’s important is that Tonka is rock-steady calm while he heals. The Forager is proving to be a key component in his rehab.
I feel like I’m on stall rest, too! I’ve arranged with Steph, who is my jumping trainer for Tonka, to take a lesson once a week on her school pony, Jake. Jake is small and aged and is perfect at his job – teaching little ones how to ride. Over the years he’s learned how to teach children how to walk, trot and canter. If they don’t ask correctly, he won’t do it. He’s also learned how to avoid working too hard. Shall we say he’s gotten a tad lazy? Knows how to drop a shoulder so that he doesn’t have to pick up the left lead. Slows down on the turns. Nothing naughty. Just knows how to take it easy. So once a week I take a half-hour lesson on Jake and remind him of the buttons he knows, and pop over a few fences.
It’s good for both of us. When it’s too cold to lesson, I get on and walk around.
Without much time in the tack, I have plenty of time to go to pottery, which I’m loving. Some of my pots have horse themes (of course.) This is done with a rolling pin embossed with horses.
But some have spikes. Or other designs. It’s like playing with pastry recipes, but without the calories!
The pottery studio is a block from the beach, so after almost three years living near the Maine coast, I’m finally spending time near the ocean. I take brisk walks here.
I’ve also been getting out and about in Maine. It’s cold, but gorgeous. Steve and I went birding at this tidal flat at Reid State Park on the midcoast. On the other side of the dune is the ocean. With binoculars we saw a busy flock of crows and a variety of ducks. Near the trail the chickadees complained about our presence. Not far away on a river outlet there was a bald eagle. We had hoped to see the wandering Steller’s Sea Eagle. Didn’t find him, but the day was certainly not a loss!
It’s a quiet life. Barn. Pottery. Home. Bread baking. Watching too many mysteries on Netflix with old dog Scooter curled up next to me. A little reading. A bit of hiking. A lot of waiting. For my horse to heal and for the world to open up again. I’m fortunate to be waiting in a wonderful place. I hope that you are in a good place, too. What good small thing is happening in your life?
It’s a good life Terry.
It is. I feel fortunate.
Love your pottery! Do you still have items for sale on eBay? Several years ago, at an estate sale in Palm Springs where I purchased a piece of art. Went home and researched the artist. It happens to be your Mother. I sure mail it to you. Found an article online about your Mother. maybe you could share some of her creative work or stories with us.
Sending Hugs from Southern California
What a small world! Send me an email with a photo of the work. My mother was creative and constantly trying new techniques. She got a masters of fine art just because she loved being in a university setting.
I’ve been selling vintage animal photos on eBay – downsizing my collection. Once in awhile I have an item up. I might have to get on Etsy. I’ve been making a lot of pottery things!
Big Thankyou for the update. Keeping everything crossed for Tonga’s recovery. You live in an absolutely beautiful part of Maine, love watching all the clips and learning about the area. We live in a rural area in The New Forest in Hampshire which has been a great help for body and mind during the Pandemic. We have not been outside our local area for nearly 2 years now, but are very lucky as our 3 children and their family’s all live within 10 mins drive off us, so we still see them all. There are always jobs to do for someone and the Grandkids keep us busy. Tom’s stable where he keeps Buddy is only a mile away so he even brings him to see us. Keep safe.
How delightful that Buddy visits you! My sons are on the other side of the country. We’ve visited in person, but not as much as we’d like to.
What wonderful, complementary things you have put together for the last few months!
Glad to see Tonka is able to be handwalked now. Hopefully you will be able to take him on some hikes outside once things warm up.
As far as good small things, I recently have moved to FL, and have been pleasantly surprised by egrets being basically year-round pasture visitors here. Pulling into our drive and getting to watch them walking through the fields is always a treat.
Have a great end to your winter/start to Spring!
Florida has amazing birding! And manatees. If you’re in the southern part of Florida, take a walk at the J. Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve. They have a boardwalk through wetlands. So much bird and wildlife.
It was so good to see an update from you, Terry; didn’t realize I was missing you until I saw it! Several things in December made it hard to get in as many rides and even turn-outs as usual, but now Stella and I are doing more together, and even got a lesson last week. Lance’s heaves are bad right now; January has been a hard month for him before. Hard to know what is best for him. Agility classes started up again last week, so I am enjoying that with my pup again after the holidays.
I’ve been following your blog. Stella is growing up, physically and mentally! That’s great that you’re doing agility. I don’t exactly have the dog for it (ahem… Scooter…) but if I did, I’d be back in that ring.
Pretty much a quiet life here also. It’s been below freezing here for several days, one morning it was zero degrees! Hasn’t been that cold here for years. I usually walk the horse trails here most every day for about an hour, but I guess I’m not as tough as you New Englanders, has to be warmer than it’s been lately for me to hike. I do spend about 1 1/2 hours feeding, doing other outside chores and taking care of my hens, so going walking in this cold just doesn’t appeal!! I’m a warm weather gal.
Good to hear Tonka might be starting to heal. That pony you are riding is sure pretty. Love the pottery.
The weather is so weird. The south had more snow than us last week. Stay warm!
Great to see an update. Love the pottery and that sunset is just amazing.
That sunset photo was untouched. Really was that color.
I just saw the projected forecast for your area, oh my! I know it will make it harder for you to take all that special care of Tonka. Well, us horse people are tough, aren’t we, conditioned to handle difficult situations.
Up here it should be just snow. We can handle a lot of it. So much better than rain in the winter! This morning it’s -3 degrees. One reason I board is to have access to an indoor. It’s not only for riding, but also for stretching one’s legs and rehab.
I wonder what Tonka thought of his reflection.
There have been recent studies showing mirror self-recognition in horses-
“If horses had toes” websearch.