Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I just got off the phone with Ida (Estes' Other Mother) and she's already got the mares at CSU.  Looks like they'll be ready for breeding by Friday or Saturday.

Now that the contracts have been signed and I know it's a done deal, I'll share the sire with you.  Allow me to present Gooitzen fan 't Wyldpaed (Apollo).

Photo cred: Excalibur Breeding Center

He's a handsome fella, isn't he?  16.1 hh, so much bigger than Her Highness.  I'll adjust.

Here's a picture of the new baby's full sister, Digger, from 2010.

As I was talking to Ida, we were talking about gestation period and Ida mentioned that Audubon will be due in early July.  It crossed my mind that if the stars align correctly and Audubon goes into labor exactly eleven months after being bred, the baby could be born exactly one year from the day I put Estes down.

Goosebumps, right?

Or, I could have a birthday baby, since my birthday's the middle of July.

Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

And don't forget about my give-away!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Book Give-away


I might have mentioned that I'm finishing up my book and it'll be available for purchase soon (hopefully mid-August).

I thought, though, that maybe another give-away was in order.

Starting today, and running until midnight (PST) on August 9th, you'll have the chance to enter for the chance to win one of five advance copies.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 14, 2013

How About Some More Good News?

I started writing about some of the horses and rides that shaped me as a rider several years ago and started this blog as a result.

I've always meant to finish my book "one day".

Well, guess what?  One day is now.

I'm putting the finishing touches on the book and hope to have it ready for sale by mid-August.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Things Every Horse Owner Should Know

Since we're likely to outlive our horses, I thought I'd share what I learned at the very last minute that I wish I'd known before I put Estes down.  

  1. Know your choice of euthanization methods.  Captive bolt, the blue juice, or "terminal lead poisoning".  Know who is going to actually do the euthanizing.  If you live, like we do, an hour or so from the nearest vet, can you watch your animal suffer for any period of time?  Can you (or whoever you chose) actually follow through with the process? I knew, after the last colic episode, that I would put her down myself.  I spent the night before, running through worst-case scenarios in my head and preparing myself, just in case.
  2. If you choose to put your horse down by lead poisoning, do you know how to handle a gun safely?  Do you know where to aim?  Do you have the correct caliber?  For instance, I've always been told that I could put down a horse with a .22, but when the time came, I feared that it was not a powerful enough round for an instant kill, so I went with a .45.
  3. Put the animal down in a spot you can access afterward.  With putting Estes down at the lodge, we had the added factor of guests.  We needed a place that we could get equipment in to move her, but that wasn't within eyesight of the guests.  Luckily, Bill had left the horse trailer parked in such a way that Estes could lay down in the grass if she chose (she didn't, crazy mare).  The horse trailer blocked the view from the road and the edge of the lodge and dumpster blocked the view from the guests.
  4. No matter which method you choose for euthanasia, you need to be prepared for the physiologic response of the animal.  Damn you, Disney and Ole Yeller!  When Mom put her first Mustang, Shadow, down, he fought the juice, but you can't take it back once it's injected, it's a done deal, you just have to keep pumping it in until the animal dies.  She had nightmares for months afterward.  Some animals will go quietly with the juice, some animals won't.  When I pulled the trigger, I knew my shot was true, but the muscle spasms afterward made me doubt myself.  I looked into Estes' eyes and knew she was gone, but the muscles in her body hadn't quite gotten the memo.  It's hard to imagine what will happen, but be prepared, it might not go like you expect it to.  You might need a second round (which was my fear with using a .22), could you shoot your horse a second time?
  5. Make friends with someone who has heavy equipment and knows how to use it.  Without Dan, our neighbor, I don't know what I would have done.  You need the heavy equipment to move a carcass that large.  The added bonus is that a friend will treat your animal carefully and respectfully.
  6. Know your disposal options.  If you have property and it is legal for you to bury your animal on your property, you are lucky.  But refer to #5, 'cause you're gonna need someone to dig a big hole.  This is where I really was lacking in knowledge.  I had some ideas in the back of my mind from when Estes colicked two years ago, but I hadn't done any research.  Do it.  Do it now.  It's far harder to think straight when you've just lost an animal.  Yes, I know it's hard to think about things we don't want to, but trust me, it will make that day much easier.  I felt like I called all over the place trying to find someone to come pick her up.  The cost ran between $150 - $500 for in town.  I couldn't get anyone to come up to the lodge without added expenses.  Thank God Bill's brain started working, he suggested we have Dan load her onto the truck (#5 again) and we drive her somewhere.  So I started looking at the landfill ($12/100#) and the rendering plant ($40 disposal fee).
  7. Do you want your animal's mane or tail?  If so, who's going to fetch it for you? It's a gruesome task and one that you probably won't be up to, so make sure there's someone who can do it for you.  Me?  I hate hair, so the mane/tail thing was never an option for me.  However, I have a friend whose horse was hit and killed by a car.  Her boyfriend saved the tail for her (he's now her husband, nothing says I love you more than tackling that task).
  8. Make sure you have people around to support you, even if you have everything planned out.  Your brain will short-circuit for a while.  Share your plans with your friends and family to help you through that short-circuit time.
  9. Life will go on.  You will be able to see beauty in the world again.  You'll be able to get through the tears and the memories will forever be secured in your heart.
"Into the Light" photo by Rachel

Friday, July 12, 2013

A New Chapter

I've got one more post I'm working on about preparations horse owners should make, but I'm going to skip it to share this news with you first.

3 Generations:  Meeker, Audubon, Estes (April, '10)
One of the things that was most heartbreaking to me when I put Estes down was that I felt like her line died with her.  She wasn't a big show horse, nor was she worth lots of money.  Hell, she was a Quarter Horse/Morgan mix, she certainly didn't have any "pure" bloodlines, yet she was the beginning of Ida's foray into breeding.  From Estes, she got Meeker; from Meeker, she got Audubon; from Audubon she got one of the fillies I absolutely fell in love with a few years ago.

I don't know which was Audubon's, I suspect it's the one on the left.
There have been more off-spring, but Estes-Meeks-Audubon make up the direct breeding line.  Ida bought a Friesian mare (the mother of the other baby in the picture) and has been concentrating on breeding that line for the past few years.

Today, she called me and offered to breed Audubon for me so that I would have one of Estes' babies. 

Y'all, I couldn't stop crying.  I might have freaked her out a little bit.  Certainly she knows how much I loved Estes, but I can't put into words how much her offer means to me.

Ida has a Friesian stallion that she likes to use, and is going to breed her Friesian mare, so I'll pay for the semen and the AI for Audubon and Ida will have them done at the same time. Considering her last Friesian colt sold for more money than I'd ever be able to spend for a horse, I'm getting a great deal.

I told her I had to talk it over with Mom, but who was I kidding?  I was going to do it and we both knew it.

I called the Lodge crying and almost couldn't get the words out, I'm pretty certain Mom thought horrible things had happened.

To say the whole family is excited is an understatement.

I've looked up Baby Daddy online and he's beautiful, but I'm afraid of jinxing everything if I post him here.  Once CSU has the semen in hand and we're set up for the AI, I'll put him up here.

(I posted him on FB and am afraid that I've already jinxed it, but I can't undo that, so I'm hedging my bets here.)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

4th of July, 2013

Mom and I have been riding in the parade together since before 2008, but I'll be damned if I can find those pictures.  It's kind of our "thing".  It's the one thing every year that we can count on and I had planned on this year being our final year to ride the parade together.  So, yes, I'm pissed as hell that I feel like I got cheated out of it.

I hadn't intended on even going to the lodge this year, but a last minute phone call from the Ashinator convinced me.  Nebalee had guilted Mom into riding with Autobot this year, and Autobot had made a memory banner for Estes, so away I went up the hill.

It was absolutely the least fun I've ever had riding in a parade (in the truck with Nebalee), but I guess it's time to start all of my "firsts" without my girl.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Queen's Reign Has Ended

Just before 7:00 am this morning, Her Highness, Queen Estes, decided it was time.

She colicked yesterday and tolerated being tubed, allowed me to give her banamine during the night, but this morning, she was done.

She allowed me to walk her out of the pen toward the trailer, with intentions of a quick trip around the block to see if we could get anything moving, but went down at the back of the trailer.  That's when I knew I couldn't torture her any more.

Mom and I had a quick conference about where the best place to put her down would be - God, I hate having to deal with those details when faced with killing your own horse - and found a place.

Estes got back to her feet and said her goodbyes while I went to talk to Bill and have a quick conference on which caliber to use - again with the awful details. I had promised myself after her last colic that I would be the one to pull the trigger if she needed to be put down.  She was my responsibility and I couldn't imagine allowing her to continue in agonizing pain while I waited for the vet to come up from Longmont, it would have easily taken him an hour to get here.

I got my gun out of the car and went to love her for a bit while she was still sort of feeling good.  By good, I mean standing like a statue in one place and letting us love on her.

I sent Mom away to talk to a guest who was sitting on the porch.  While Mom was gone, Estes went down again and rolled one eye at me, and very clearly told me, "I'm done."  If I had asked her to get up, she would have.  My crotchety old mare had a ton of heart, but it was time.

I had intended to wait until Mom was back, but when Estes looked at me like that, I had to do it.  It was equal parts awful and a relief.  I am okay with putting her down because she was in so much pain and there's no doubt that to wait would have been inhumane.  But I feel like I just killed one of my children, and that's awful.

During our ride last week, I knew that we were beginning our "lasts".  For every first, there's going to be a last, so I did my best to savor every moment with her.  I had decided that this would definitely be her last year on the hill, but I was also planning new firsts for us as we continued life down on the plains.

Now that she's crossed the Rainbow Bridge, she can meet up with my all-time best dog, Jake and they can take care of each other in a place where there's no arthritis, colic or end-stage renal failure (Jake).