Category: Horses

“Becky Big”

She was saved from slaughter and put to use as a even-tempered driving horse.  Becky Big isn’t really accustomed to riders, but with Liz leading the way, she was comfortable giving both Erick and me a chance to ride her around the arena.  I must admit, at 16 hands, I was nervous.  She appears so stocky, I assumed she must be short, but once I was standing beside her, her true height became more apparent.  

Erick went first.  Followed by me and my hilarious attempt at mounting a horse as wide as a sofa chair.  For her size, Becky is as snugly as a teddy bear.


Sleeping beauty on the way home…


And yet another reason I’m happy to be home…  I love TC folk.


Yesterday, Dianna and I went out to a farm west of town and met a couple who have two beautiful horses boarded there.   It wasn’t all that far from the house, but off the road a ways and tucked between other larger farms so that you felt like you were in the middle of nowhere.  I befriended a thoroughbred gelding who was cribbing.  When my hands reached through his new winter coat, I found nothing but ribs.  His hips protruded through his new coat.  He had no muscle mass on either thigh.  

Cribbing is defined as a “vice in which the horse bites or places its upper incisor teeth on some solid object, pulls down, arches his neck, and swallows gulps of air which go into the stomach, not the lungs.”  It generates a high for the horse and can kill them over time when the air in their stomach makes them feel “full” and reduces their urge to eat.  

There are cribbing collars which prevent the horse from angling their necks out and taking in large gulps of air.  Why this horse isn’t wearing one at this stage is beyond me.  I hope to find out in the next few days if there’s some way of getting him one to save his life.  Unfortunately with the economy in this shape, horses in particular are suffering. 

I’m also wondering about animals seeking out a high.  I’ve seen hot-blooded horses do this by pacing – they get a sort of “runner’s high” from it.  And I wonder how anyone could think horses aren’t intelligent when they search for the same way out so many humans seek out when it seems there is no way out.  

For now, my focus is that gelding.

Palin’s response to Couric’s direct line of questioning is very tactful, but her record is still frightening.  She is on record (see second video) stating she would support legislation to ban abortion in all cases including rape and incest.  

I really appreciated the incumbent governor’s end comments.  He’s also a Republican, but with a world-view on the issue.  As I’ve said before, I am strongly in support of choice for women, but I can respect the view the pro-life movement takes with exception to legislating that opinion.

I also take exception to an entirely pro-life person legislating cruel forms of areal hunting.  I guess life is only sacred if bundled in the human womb.  When I heard SNL’s Tina Fey remark on areal hunting, I thought it was just a reference to Palin’s hunting record in Alaska, but the joke was on me.

At least both presidential candidates Senators Barack Obama and John McCain voted against horse-slaughter.

In addition to the Carolina house, we’re considering an old farmhouse a little closer to Charlotte (still a 40-min commute).  It’s a neat house with a slate roof and a fireplace in every room along with some of the worst wallpaper of the century (and cats- lots of cats).  The house comes with 2.76 acres and some old out-buildings, nut trees, peach and apple trees and road frontage named for the farmstead.  

Asking price is well below recent appraisal and the house seems very solid, but I didn’t get the same warm-fuzzies I get with the Carolina Ave. house.  I think mostly, it’s the presence of the people and the wallpaper detracting from the original structure. I’d show you additional photos, but the rooms were in a very messy state.  The house has been updated and is “move-in ready,” as they say.  Even our youngest has been spouting real estate lingo:  “Location, location, location,” she repeated over and over again last night. 

For photos, please visit our flickr site



My oldest thought it wise to sketch an idea for her room.  She’s only six and already drawing perspective!  And FYI, she explained, “Mama, I added face pillows, but my pillows won’t have faces.”




An echo of a former life, remnants of the original paper could still be seen on the walls.


Some say demolition, I say POTENTIAL.

The next house we toured was on a nice piece of land not far from town.  Six+ acres with three individual creeks and totally fenced for horses.  It was beautiful.  The land was ecologically diverse and the perfect setting for continuing with Healing Tree.


At the rear of the house was a beautiful little girl making a funny face while standing near a gazebo.  I liked everything about the exterior of this house, but wasn’t impressed with the interior.  However, for the right price, I think this could be a great buy.  It’s definitely on my top three.


We no longer have stairs, so we made them with DVD cases so Gug-bug could watch the slinky walk.  She said, “It’s alive!”

We enjoyed the Winter Festival going on at the Grand Traverse Commons yesterday. We started with cocoa, went for a wagon ride (pulled by two beautiful Percherons), discovered Pleasanton Bakery, had a small snowball fight, nearly got lost in the maze of hallways and corridors, found a book sale and then enjoyed some lunch.

Friends Liz, Christy, Mike and Kate joined us.


The girls liked the horses and the wagon ride best, but they also told me they want to go back to the big building so they can run some more. I was particularly fond of Sonny (see below).


Horse talk with the gals

I enjoyed an extended dream about the horses last night. Beauty, Hoartie and I shared some galas. It will be difficult to leave friends and family, but my gals! Oh! the agony!

I remember at the show barn, everyone recommended we buy a gelding. There was hardly a mare in the barn, though the one we used occasionally was sweet-tempered. When we arrived at TN and I became immediately enamoured with Beauty, a mare. And because I was spending so much time with Beauty, I spent time with all the mares in the pasture. And just as there is some difference between our friendships with men and women, as w0men, so too there was a difference in how I related to the mares versus the geldings.

I enjoy the mood variance in the mares. It isn’t altogether unpredictable, and why our culture is so obsessed with sameness, I’ll never know. This variance colored the personality of each horse and despite the occasional bad attitude, I was better able to understand what each horse wanted; making our friendship more sincere.

A week following my first treatment I made it out to the barn. I was still very weak and unsure of my future on this planet. Erick thought it would be good for me to get out and see the horses, so I walked carefully over to the pasture and leaned against the gate. Normally, when someone approaches the gate, the horses will lift thier heads and take notice, but go back to whatever they were doing before. Today, however, Beauty came right to the gate, followed by Bella and Xena.

It was fall and already the horses were covered in their soft winter coats. Beauty lowered her head into my chest and I hugged her close. I told her I would do everything I could to get better and then I let myself have a good cry. Bella stood watch a few feet behind Beauty and kept Xena and the other horses who were beginning to approach away. She stood guard.

“Thank-you, gals.” I whispered and then offered my hand to Bella. She stepped forward and accepted a rub on her nose. This entire communication lasted a few minutes, but it is with me still. I draw from that experience whenever it is needed. And it reminds me that no matter where we go in life, phsyically, our friends are with us. There are no barriers of time or space when it comes to love.


“Illness is an opportunity for growth.” Dr. Mehmet Oz

I was listening to the NPR show Caron recommended featuring the prominent heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz earlier this morning. A timely piece, it was refreshing to hear a doctor exploring other root causes for illness beyond those we can test traditionally. His stories brought be back to a recent session with friend and healer Dianna McPhail.

Dianna is helping me step back into my body after a long absence using horses as therapy. We were standing at the gate looking out at a herd of mares grazing in the distance while I took the time to “scan” my body. What I discovered was a dissonance between my left side and right and when this occurred, when I felt one side trying to move forward and the other holding back, my heart began beating its horribly irregular pattern. I felt dizzy, weak and short of breath.

This moment helped me recognize there’s more going on than what is evident at the surface. One half of me is ready to leap forward into my life and the other half still doesn’t feel so great, is slightly sluggish and cynical. And really, I’ve always been a good combination of the two – it’s like I’ve sat still for too long and my sediments have separated. All these tests, appointments and attention to my health may be shaking things up enough that these elements of my former self are once again uniting to form something of my old identity with elements of a newly emerging, stronger self.

Our transitions into new phases of our lives are never without some ugliness. Think about the butterfly emerging from within the withering cocoon. It takes a while before the butterfly may fly, but when she finally takes flight, it’s a joyous reunion of desire and dream.


I tried to get Hoartie last night, but the other horses were right on top of us, so I abandoned my efforts and went to hang out with the older mares.  I made the decision, wearing this monitor and having just finished chemo, as my husband pointed out, that maybe I should choose a less stressful horse-experience.  I adore Hoartie, but getting her through the gate can be extremely stressful and dangerous at times.  Working with horses is inherently dangerous, but there are degrees of this I’m willing to accept, and some I’m not.

Tearfully, I switched to an easy-going gelding.  The same horse that took me on my spirit ride atop the bluffs of Old Mission.  He’s a rideable, kid-friendly horse that will work out well for us and give me some time to rethink my goals.

I’m still faithfully waiting for Beauty!  And I’m still learning, but at a more appropriate pace.  Today, I feel like I should try Hoartie again and maybe I will, but I’m not going to let it stress me out any further.

It’s friday!  What are you doing for the weekend?


Last night, we went out to visit Hoartie. Something was making the horses act funny. I think it was the drop in temperature from the mid-90s to high 70s, but I can’t be sure. When I entered the pasture, Hoartie came trotting up, happy to see her new friend and eager to allow me to fasten her halter. I gave her a rub and a kiss and together we walked toward the gate. Zara, the gate keeper, the great escape artist, ran along the fence-line away from the gate, leaving me with the perfect opportunity to get safely through the gate without any hassles.

As I stepped through the gate, I felt Hoartie spook and she lunged forward, knocking me off my feet. I stepped back and pulled hard on the lead rope, hoping to startle her, but she seemed to dance. We walked around and around, me avoiding her footpath while she leapt and whirled in nervous excitement. It was thrilling and absolutely terrifying at once. A few times, she shouldered me, and I felt the force of her weight. After a few minutes of this, I called for help.

Help came and Hoartie settled, but didn’t relax. She pawed at the ground and kept her head held high, ears pricked forward anxiously listening as the other horses whinnied and bolted in their pastures. It was the strangest feeling; a heightened sense all around the farm, but for what, I couldn’t decide.

I was shaking, which didn’t help.  Ralph assured me I would know when to bale, “When you see hooves start to fly, it’s time to let go of the rope.”

And yet I hadn’t seen hooves. I baled because I felt invisible. The horse moved in circles around me, running into me as if I didn’t exist. My heart felt trampled. I knew that my fear of the horse had won out. I couldn’t decide whether my instincts to call for help had been appropriate or perhaps I should have kept up the dance, learned from it, even with risk of injury. I’ll go back tonight and try again. Each time, I know my fear is lessened. Each time, I know I’ll learn something new. And maybe last night the lesson was about trust. About trusting my instincts. Maybe what really shook me was simply this: I didn’t trust myself enough.