Cowgirl Up on

Friday, June 27, 2008

Greetings from Dillon, MT

My first official post from on the road! This is way cool!

Our original plan had been to leave by 9 a.m. Enumclaw time. That did not happen. I think it was probably noonish by the time we finally hit the road out of town after stopping to top off diesel ($4.82 with a discount).

We made our customary stop at the Post Falls Flying J to fill the tank again; $4.55 I think, I’ll update the post after I check the gas log.

One more stop at the Subway in St. Regis for an easy dinner and then we made Sloway in time to set up camp well before dark.

Yesterday we drove from home to the St. Regis area of Montana. We camped at a little campground called Sloway. I camped here last year on my return from a 7-day clinic at Buck Brannaman’s in September. Last fall there wasn’t the fancy horse corral there was this time! This is a little Lolo National Forest Campground right off I-90. You do hear the trains and the highway traffic, but I could have slept through that!

What Ben and I weren’t able to sleep through was the arguing campers next to us. This campground was practically empty, and we were the only ones in the horse camp. However, we had to get stuck next to the testosterone charged arguing males! I think I finally got good sleep around 3 a.m.

Buena traveled well once on the road. I did indulge her with a bit of hay on the first few stops. It’s been since the September trip that she’s been in the trailer for a long haul (more that 3 hours). She didn’t drink much at Sloway, but I gave her a hay pellet mash with her hay and didn’t expect her to drink much because of that.

We made a few stops between Sloway and Dillon. First, Quality Supply in Missoula. I could do some serious damage to the credit rating in that store! Tack, feed, hardware. That store has it all. And to top it off, they have remodeled and expanded since I was there in September. I swear that it’s bigger than the Big R/Murdoch’s stores in Yakima and Spokane. For sure bigger and better than anything on “the coast” as eastern WA folks like to call the Puget Sound area; we are no where near the real coast!

After Quality Supply we got back on the road. Next stop, Deer Lodge for diesel and lunch. Town Pump was $#.##. We hit A&W for lunch. Back on the road again.

We arrived in Dillon about 4ish and stopped in at the Police Department to pay for boarding Buena at the Beaverhead County Fairgrounds. Once she was settled, we hit the Patagonia outlet to get Ben checked in for the RATPOD ride.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Running Free

To say that I have been lucky would be an understatement. To have had this horse as my true first horse, I couldn’t have been more blessed. And to have been able to choose the time to let her run free from her demons...well, not many people get the chance to do that.

My original plan for her had been to donate her to the Cushings study at Oklahoma State University (see Just When Plans Were Falling Into Place). The laminitis and abscess changed all that. Ariel’s 19th birthday was hard, really hard. To see this horse who has initiated me into true ownership and horsemanship in so much physical pain, it was awful. But I new that she would recover from it. That day I made a promise to her that she would get better and that she would never have to feel that kind of pain again.

Ariel gradually started to recover, but I think I knew in my heart that she wouldn’t make it all the way back. I made it my mission to have her be the happiest and healthiest horse she could be as soon as possible. I had a time line in mind back on April 19th, but nothing was set in stone. At that time I was still thinking that OKState would happen. The prolonged recovery from the laminitis and abscess effectively nixed that.

From the time the lameness started back in early March to the abscess finally rupturing was close to 2 months. Even on Thursday, June 19th I think there was yet more of that abscess waiting to make another release at the hairline.

Over the years, I rode in many clinics hoping to gain some skills and a better understanding of how I needed to be to help Ariel. I got lots of help from folks like Greg Eliel, Leslie Desmond, Mike and Deanie Hosker, and Ricky Quinn. However, the greatest guidance I got was from Buck Brannaman. I never got the chance to take Ariel to a Ray Hunt or Peter Campbell clinic, but it really wouldn’t have mattered. Buck ultimately kept me safe and helped me the most. If it weren’t for him, I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t be here typing my recollections today. I have no qualms about giving him the credit for all the good things I do with horses. If I don’t do something right, it’s not his fault. It’s mine for not being a better student.

Many years ago, Buck mentioned in a clinic that I should “can” Ariel or turn her into “chicken feed.” Now I may not get the exact wording right on how he said things, but I knew that I wasn’t going to give up on her, or myself, that easy. I stuck with her and by her for a good long time. And I knew that she would make me a better horsewoman. Heck, a better woman. And she did. If it weren’t for that horse and for Buck, I wouldn’t be living the life I am today. A wife, a mom, a better person.

How do you pay your respects and honor a horse like that? How do you treat them with the utmost dignity and think of their well-being and happiness first and foremost? For me, it was finding the time to let her go.

When she started to make the recovery and was well enough to go back to being turned out I started letting her have the things I had been denying her for I can’t remember how long. She got to graze, without the muzzle, on the lushest green and tall grass. She got to run with Buena and be out all the time. No restrictions. The final week she got to have wet cob (corn, oats, and barley with molasses). And her final meal was all the wet cob she could eat and apples and carrots and green grass and clover. She ate her fill for quite a while. I didn’t count how many times we filled the pan with the cob. Eventually she decided she had enough and moved to the clover.

My son was with my good friend S and her son for a few hours. I explained to him before he left that Ariel would not be home when he got back and that he had to say good-bye to her before leaving. We spent some time stroking her and he pet her in the spot on her elbow that he liked to pat. And he also stroked her face and withers. I wish now that I had given S the camera to snap some pictures, but hindsight is always 20/20. *sigh* He was strong then, and even to this day he hasn’t asked where Ariel went. He knows that she isn’t coming back. When and if he asks that tough question, I am sure I will find a way to tell him. Even at 4, he knows what death and dying is. But I know I didn’t know how real it was at hat age, so I am not sure he knows either. That’s pretty tough to deal with as a parent, but I’ll find a way to help him understand if he ever is confused.

A couple of my very close friends came to be with us during the appointment. These gals have been with me on this horsemanship journey from almost the beginning. We and a bunch of others all met through Greg, Buck, the Hoskers and other friends. Having like-minded folks to ride with and share the horsemanship journey with is crucial. I am truly blessed to have these 2 gals, and all the rest, in my life. They deserved the chance to say their good-byes and honor Ariel and I am so happy I let them share in this poignant event. Had they not been there, I might not have shed a tear, but I know that it’s good to cry and let some things out. I needed them there for this, as much as they needed to be there to say good-bye.

Before Dr. Bob and Julie arrived, I had scheduled a rendering service to pick up Ariel’s remains around noonish. Dr. Bob also had other clients to see later in the day. He and Julie arrived shortly after 10. We chatted, as ALL of us like to do, and he did a Coggins blood draw on Buena and wrote up the traveling documentation that I will need (more on that later). And then we chatted and chatted some more. We let Ariel and Buena have final moments eating together. I let my good friends C and E say their good-byes to Ariel. I can’t even recall the number of time I thanked them for being there. Just that little bit of moral support really helps. It may not seem significant in the moment, but looking back it is huge.

I stroked and hugged my horse;, my first horse, over and over in those final moments. She knew only the loving touch of humans in her final moments. No pain. No fear. No uncertainty. And even after the drugs took her heartbeat, she still felt the love and warmth of us guiding her across that Rainbow Bridge that animal lovers so fondly choose to use as a metaphor. We caressed and stroked her for many minutes after she was gone. Her spirit lingered with us as we wept and said even more good-byes. We carefully cut her forelock, mane and tail to save for later momentos.

We let Buena sniff her body so that she would know. The first few moments she didn’t seem to realized that Ariel was gone. Maybe her spirit wasn’t yet. Right before we led her away, Buena sniffed one more time and then gentled stomped with her right front foot a few times. That may not seem significant to most, but C has related to us a story about her palomino mare who had been euthanized and that her paint gelding had done a similar thing when he sniffed the mare’s body. I remembered that and made a heartfelt note to mention it here.

Buena was clearly missing her buddy once she was turned out. That was to be expected by a herd animal after all. I did make sure that she was turned out in the round pen so that when the rendering truck came that she wouldn’t be able to see, and hope not be able to smell. I knew that my friends and I did not want to be there to witness the impending event as well. Buena did a little bit of calling out and pacing, but soon she was quiet. We covered Ariel’s body with the cotton canvas blanket I bought her many years ago (and haven’t used in years) and went for a drive to a local lavender farm to focus on renewal and nurturing new life. I was hoping to find a great plant that I could use to remember Ariel by for many years to come. I think I may have found that plant.

Here was one last scritching session from the morning of June 20th:

Over the next few weeks and months I will dig up some old pictures and stories from the past 12 years. And I will have some new adventures to share as well. If you have a story about Ariel you would like to share, feel free to post it in Comments or e-mail it to me and I will share it at a later date.

Rest in peace my dear Ariel. You are now truly running free!

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Saturday, June 21, 2008


I know some folks may be waiting for a post. And I was hoping to get something posted before now. I started working on the post and realized there is no way I am going to finish it (at least not properly) tonight. So, with that being said, I will make this short post with a couple of pictures and plan to get the long post with additional pictures done soon.

CA Royalty (Ariel)

April 19, 1989 - June 20, 2008

March 1996






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Friday, June 20, 2008

Pictures and Video from Thursday




Forgive the quality as this was another cell phone clip:

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pictures from Wednesday

I broke down a few days ago and bought a bag of wet cob. Molasses and grains are strictly forbidden for Cushings/insulin resistant horses. I can’t even remember how many years it has been since I have bought a grain product, let alone one with molasses in it!

I have taken to doing things I normally wouldn’t where Ariel has been concerned. This is one of those final things I can let her enjoy. Apples and carrots are on the menu for tomorrow.

Today I think she was feeling the effects of a higher sugar/carbohydrate diet. Only a few handfuls... When I went out to move hot wire and spend time with the girls she was very obviously more gimpy that the previous days. Whether it was the grain or the sugar levels in the grass elevating after the sun or the abscess truly isn’t completely gone... I’ll never know. It doesn’t really matter.

With the return of the gimping around has also come the cranky behavior and occasional squealing. Definitely a heat cycle of some sort, but not necessarily the only reason. That behavior is what I will not miss one bit. The good things are going to be the toughest. The nicker greetings especially.

Here are the Wednesday pictures:

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Supreme Court decision ends US horse slaughter

Supreme Court decision ends US horse slaughter

Mon Jun 16, 2:29 PM ET

Excerpt: Cavel’s appeal had received backing from Belgium, which told the court, “American horse meat is considered by consumers in Belgium and elsewhere in the EU to be of the highest quality and distinguishable from horse meat produced from other nations.”

My comment: Wonder how many folks in Europe realize the products and drugs that are pumped into our horses that are strictly labeled “Not for use in horses intended for human consumption” or similar verbiage?

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Video and Pictures from Tuesday

Forgive the poor quality as this one was taken with my cell phone.

And if anyone knows why in the world Buena would seek out bull thistle on purpose, please do let me know! Goofy horse!

This video was taken with the digital still camera (Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX07 for those who are curious).

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My “Blog Space”

Pony Girl had a great post about people’s “blog spaces” and I figured I would join in on the fun.

This is my work area, where I do my reading, posting and graphic/web work, and connect with my friends and relatives!

Hazel (short hair) and Chester (long hair) like to oversee my work, as you can tell.

The desk is an antique that actually belongs to my husband. His dad had is refurbished before he passed away last year. So I guess it can be considered a family heirloom now. It’s a postal sorting desk that has all kinds of nooks and crannies. I have yet to fill it up, which is a good thing seeing as I am the “clutter queen,” much to the hubby’s dismay. And is does have a roll-top, but the rather large Apple Cinema Display is about two inches too tall for me to close it. Not like I am away from the computer long enough to warrant closing the desk anyway.

I used to have my computer upstairs in my “office” but I have since moved downstairs into the foyer area of our house. It has a much more social feeling, and my office is currently a cluttered mess that needs a rather large bulldozer! Doh! At least down here I can attempt to get some other housework done and not feel like I am climbing stairs all day. However, that isn’t something I should avoid since I could certainly use the exercise!

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Picture from Monday

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Pictures from Sunday Evening

As promised, I will be posting some pictures this week. May not have much writing to go with the pictures.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

So Bittersweet

Today was a busy day here at the Rockin’ Circle C, as every Saturday tends to be. Not much horse time, but cathartic for me none-the-less. Gardening and scooping poop are both things that get a person thinking and contemplating life.

It was so bittersweet this morning when I moved the hot-wire to new grazing. Ariel nickered at me, as she always does when I go out to feed. :-( It was really hard this morning hearing that. The next 6 mornings are going to be so difficult.

The girls both got to racing around quite a bit. Gotta love Arabs and their flagging tails and bursts of energy. I never tired of seeing them run. I really should have taken the camera out this morning and caught video. I will definitely make a point of doing that between now and Friday. Ariel is looking healthy for the most part, but slightly on the ribby side despite being on tall, rich, green grass 24/7 for the past month. She may still have a bit of residual pain going on from that abscess. The line across her hoof is pretty remarkable. I need to snap pictures of it. Buena is fat and sassy! Still wants her standard spots scritched even after racing around. This week I picked up a 50 pound bag of wet cob for Ariel’s last meals. It was tough. I don’t ever buy stuff like that; horses don’t need all that sugar and extra carbs. I also picked up a tube of Quietex to add to my stash, just in case Buena is agitated enough to give her some. I forgot I had two other tubes from last year. :-(

After I moved the hot-wire so the girls could graze more super-tall grass, I proceeded to work on the gardening chores that are never-ending. I mowed all of the lawns while Ben and Jackson ran the weed-eater. Or I should say Ben ran the weed-eater and Jackson supervised. It’s been so darn wet lately that the bagging attachment on the riding John Deere mower is a major pain in the you-know-what! Once the mowing was done I headed towards the currant bushes.

The weeds and Himalayan blackberries encroach on the currant bushes every year and I am hoping that this year I won’t have to struggle as much to get the berries harvested. Last year I think I got close to 10 pounds of berries. If I wouldn’t have boiled-over one batch of jelly, I would have a had a lot more finished product last year. As it was, I still had plenty. (big smile) Here’s a picture of half of 2007’s currant crop:

Today was Ben’s birthday. I made a tasty dinner of Copper River Sockeye Salmon with a honey-soy marinade, oven roasted honey mustard red potatoes with Walla Walla onions and peeled fresh baby carrots. Dessert was Fisher scones with Tillamook Vanilla Bean ice cream and balsamic simmered mixed berries. Yum!

Tomorrow is another non-horse day. The girls will get more grazing, but being Father’s Day, Ben has plans to ride his bicycle from Cayuse to Cayuse with some guys in training for RATPOD in two weeks. Jackson and I get to do sag wagon duty again, but there should be some snow to play in on the passes! Hopefully it will be a mostly sunny drive, too! Last weekend it was sunny for the ride up to Crystal and back.

Once we return from RATPOD, horse time begins in earnest! More on that later! Yes, I know I said that it started on May 1st, but the weather and life in general wasn't exactly cooperative!

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Canadian Government Reaction

The Government Reaction to the CBC report previously featured here. There is no text-only version of this report available at this time. The footage shown in the video clip isn’t as gory as that pictured in the original report.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Date Is Set

It is with much sadness that I report that I have set a date for Ariel to cross the Rainbow Bridge. Sometime on the morning of Friday, June 20th Dr. Bob will be on hand to administer the drug cocktail to allow her to run free from this world. My heart is heavy with having committed to a date finally, but I also do see a light at the end of the tunnel. This special horse, with just a little something not quite right, has taught me, and many other people, so much in her 19 years and 2 months. I can’t even begin to start with the list. To be honest, if it weren’t for her, I may never have gone down the paths in horse-keeping, horsemanship and activism that I am involved with today.

For those of you that are local friends and acquaintances and would like to have one last visit, please feel free to contact me and we’ll set something up.

Here is a picture of the girls taking a break from grazing from earlier today (Ariel on the left and Buena on the right):

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

No Country For Horses

A must-watch investigation of horse slaughter at the Natural Valley Farms plant in Saskatchewan, Canada:

No Country For Horses

Warning: There is disturbing footage in this story.

Text version of No Country For Horses

The video does not auto-run, so it is possible to view the information without watching the story. The video will be available for viewing for one year.

There are many more links and informative sources on the news page.

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