Me First

Can you tell this post is about feeding horses? 

Changing members in a herd always changes the herd dynamics and politics. This is never more evident than at feeding time! Even in my herd of two, a new routine had to be installed, so that the pony gets no more than she needs, while Dream gets every pound he requires.

Our winters are long and include more than a third of the year with snow cover. Due to this, we split the hay feedings into four times per day during these months.

Dreamport requires about 28-32 pounds of hay forage per day; Ginger’s needs hover around 8! They live together in an in-and-out barn enclosed by pasture. As you can see, my challenge is to get 20 more pounds of hay a day into Dreamer than Ginger. To further complicate things, Ginger is lead mare out there. If I were to just dump the hay out there, she would get way overweight while Dream became lean.

Added to this is my new education about
slow-feeder hay feeding.
I like it for many reasons:

- It is a perfect solution for the boredom that comes from living aboard snow for weeks on end, where a horse cannot even forage the land.

- Slow feeding hay feeders deliver the hay a bite at a time, similar to if the horse were grazing.

- I can hang them low enough to be safe, yet still have my horse’s head down enough for good health (drainage) while he is eating.

- Best of all, the calories are going slowly into my horses, and I feel the calories are being metabolized almost as they eat them: warmth for their bodies, and again, controlling weight for the pony.

- Perhaps most important, slow feeder hay feeders deliver the food in a way that mimics what the horse’s mind and gut are naturally made for: mouthfuls at a time which they work for.

Horses with ulcers and insulin resistance do better with slow feeding, and stable vices diminish or disappear. They also produce less dust than breaking open flakes of hay, and there is hardly any hay waste at all. Equus magazine, Sizing Up Slow Feeders, November 2011, Issue 410.

I bought a few Shires small-hole hay nets. They are secured on the bottom when I hang them. My horses have gotten pretty handy at using them.

In the morning, Dream gets locked in his stall with a stall guard where he and the pony still see each other. He gets 10 lbs. of loose hay, and she gets a loose pound to “take the edge off” any first-feed-of-the-day hunger she may have. Then she gets the rest of her breakfast hay in a slow feeder. This keeps her busy while Dream needs 2-3 hours to eat his hay, and then he is turned loose for a sun-nap with Ginger!

Later in the afternoon there is a snack time when both horses get hay in slow feeder nets. This keeps them happily busy during those nap-to-dinner hours.

The dinner routine is the same as the breakfast routine. Then, 2 slow feeder hay nets are hung up for the long, dark night.

I think some people just fill up their slow feeders and the horses can feed 24/7. I haven’t tried this because I am afraid the pony will gain weight and Dream will drop pounds. For equal horses, it sounds wonderful.

There is a hay net comparison chart here at paddockparadise. There are also some tips at the bottom of the chart. Some sellers are catching on to the idea and are making slow hay feeders available.

Me First , 1933
Upset, Whisk Broom, Broomstick, Bend Or
Sadly, this filly died in 1935. 

p.s. I got invited on a date!
Scott and I are going to see
War Horse
tomorrow night!

update: Winter Storm warning! No driving at night...guess I'll have to wait for the DVD.


Plan B

Well, since I can't leave comments, I'll comment here!

I want to start by saying I am floored, absolutely astonished, by everything that is going on in everyone's horse life and otherwise lately!

That is not what is really taking my breath away: it is the beauty I see in all the reactions to it. I do not know how I have been away from you all for so long. I think I was making the old mistake of working harder and denying myself pleasure when life got rough, as if that would somehow make it better. (It doesn't; we know it doesn't.)

I am making comments here only on the blogs I have been able to get to so far ~

Attentiveness and Flexibility  Juliette returned from sunny Florida and bravely asked questions when she brought her fresh (dare I say, 'vacationed?') perspective home with her. I have missed reading here!

Introspection and Boldness  Kacy faces grief over the sudden loss of Freyda-cat and uses the experience to re-examine what is important in life, with some beautiful, poetic writing (as usual.) Kacy, your post about your mare's wanting to be out on trail instead of at home reminds me so much of Ebony! God Bless you. 

Honesty and Hope  Carol deals with a sarcoid that keeps getting worse (so far) instead of better. She and her husband both ride and show dressage. Encouragement and patience to you, Carol.

Just Plain Cool  I have been wanting to point readers to Imel for such a long time!!! She inspires me. She goes out there riding trails with John joining her somewhere, I mean these 2 are an adventure team (I am always telling my Scott about their adventures). Imel, I am now completely lost and I obviously have to do some back-reading on your blog. The last I knew, it was you guys and Harley, (?) unless I've missed something (which would not be new for me, at all) and now I am reading about all kinds of fillies and I just have to catch up...! Imel is my neighbor (Maine) so I have someone to share the weather with. For some reason, blogger IS letting me post on Imel's blog, but I wanted to point readers to her, anyway.

Sensitivity and Courage  Annette welcomes a new family member in Winston and reassures the existing herd, especially Jackson, who may be moving into his new career as an equine and human therapist..? I take heart in your in assessing the present and grasping the future to include your dreams while staying true to good sense and a loyal heart. 

Outlook and Youth  Dreaming has always been such a faithful friend. Now that a Haflinger saved our Dream from death-by-grief, we will always have a special place in our hearts for them. Being a Tolkien/ Lord of the Rings fan, I am delighted to read about Meriadoc and Pippin and all the other goings on where people live happily ever after. (Anyone who has been married 30+ years and calls her husband 'incredible' automatically gets my reading.)

Integrity and Purpose Way to stand up for what's right! Jen is a family girl who knows her horse stuff and has graciously answered my questions about teaching children to ride, which inspired me to purchase and read Teaching Children to Ride (Wallace).

Insightful and Hardworking  Calm, Forward, Straight : these words define how I'd like to behave each and every day. It doesn't always happen. I love reading about the big grey gelding and his lovely person. I hope Dream and I get to try some dressage one day. I think that is what he is 'meant' for because he loves to use his body and is so smart. Reading here is helpful for me because it's about much more than riding dressage: it's inner voice and feel.

Diligence and Faithfulness  Training Baron I have been reading over here for a long time. This horse person went from a serious wound on her horse past this year to a reserve champion at just their second show together, AND she is a Mom of two very young ones!

Activism and Education  Linda has been keeping up to date with the issue of her riding park being taken and used for development! I love reading about Linda's goings-on with her herd of horses.  She also writes about T-Touch.

Individuality and Art  Once Upon an Equine always writes about so many interesting things and, WOW! Cattle sorting! Doesn't that just sound amazing? I am so impressed and inspired! This blog reflects many sentiments that I feel are probably universal for many of its readers. It is a unifying place to be.

Whew! That was fun. I am going to have to do this again with the blog reads I catch up on, interspersed between updates of my own crazy hectic harrowing sweetly surprising life. If your blog is not on this page, I've probably read it, and haven't been able to "write back" yet!

Thank you everyone for the inspiration and renewed hope I have received from you all.
- Allison

Plan B,2005
War Admiral, Teddy, Northern Dancer, Native Dancer, Raise A Native,
Alydar, Danzig, Nearco, Mr. Prospector...


** Note ** My Comments Won't Post

Hey, everyone! I am trying to leave comments, but they won't post for some reason. I will be looking into why, but if anyone has a suggestion, I'm open to it! 

In the meantime, I am having a wonderful time reading blogs, but I cannot 'talk' to or interact with anyone. (It stinks.)
 - Allison 


Flying Ebony

I have written this post so many times. I guess this is the best way to tell you Ebony has died:

Aislinn's horsehair bracelet made from Ebony's tail hairs

I am sorry it has taken me so long to update my blog. I think many of you understand the nature of grief, and it is best when taken one day at a time and not rushed. Being able to finally post this is really helpful.

Ebony had a middle-of-the-night colic on October 15, 2011. When we found her the morning of the 16th, she was already in deep shock. Her heart rate was doubled and her temperature was 104’F. She’d been violently rolling and injured her intestine and peritonitis had already set in. She was not a candidate for surgery. All she wanted when we saw her was to be out of pain.

Looking back, Ebony has always been a little colic-prone. I even got her medicine in the spring in case we needed it, because I've saved her from colic three other times. Sadly, this one happened in the middle of the night, when no one was there to see it.

She was euthanized at 12:15 p.m. It was a Sunday; we were all home. She was only 12 1/2 years old, and only got to live one third of her potential life span. You could say that she got to live all her life span that was given to her (if you are optimistic and it's a good day).

Scott and I and all six children were able to say good-bye. (I had four children when Ebony joined our family.) She is buried in a beautiful memorial spot, right past the back yard, in the pasture where she always stood watching the children play-- until Dreamer came to live with us in 2007.

This is her grave the day we buried her.

She will always be a part of this farm. We 'had' to buy it because she had already joined our family and we needed our dream: the acreage and the outbuildings/ barn for her. She is part of its history, like our wonderful Star dog who came up from NC with us.

Even more importantly, she is part of a place in our hearts...just like all the family member pets for all of us whose story is embedded in our own. She was the "first pony" for me and my children. She gave "first rides" to not only my own children, but also to my nephews (one is now almost 22 and the other is 5) and my great-nephew, Dawn's only grandson (age 5) to whom Ebony was and is extremely special.


Her final earthly night, Dreamer had spent the whole night standing next to Ebony in the pasture. When we moved her from her spot, he burst out of his stall and trotted around her, stallion-ish. It was the way they said hello almost five years ago, and now it was now good-bye, although I didn’t know it yet. Dreamer might have known. I put him away again, and promised she’d be alright. I never use that word ‘promise’ for this very reason! I truly believed at that point that we would be able to save her. (I did not have her vital signs yet.)

Within four hours of losing Ebony, I had a babysitter horse here for Dream. That was Molly, a Haflinger who did a wonderful job and a huge favor for us. She stayed for a week. If you could draw a horse crying, that was my Dreamport. He looked like he had aged ten years the first two weeks after Ebony died.

He is doing alright now. It took about six weeks to get my ‘new’ Dream back. He'd let me know he was ready to be ridden again. He has a new friend (Ginger). He DID find out that I kept one promise to him: he was never alone. He is still here, and so am I.

Ginger came to live with us six days after losing Ebony.
(I’ll write more about Ginger in later posts.)

With guidance, Aislinn has been able to separate out her grief over Ebony from getting to know Ginger. It has been a process.

There is one sentiment that Aislinn and I just keep sighing: “I miss Ebony.”

When you love someone, missing them will never go away. You should not expect it to! Missing does not mean lack of healing or moving forward: it means you experienced love.

We miss you, Ebony.

Aislinn drew pictures of angel-horses in our house the afternoon Ebony died.

Meanwhile, I heard a song playing in my living room that I hadn’t heard in years. It was a song for my first horse, who also died unexpectedly in 1978.

It was surreal: I just knew I was supposed to get the message that no matter what, God was in control, and it would be okay. Again. Someday. Ebony was in heaven with my other horses. In fact, one of the last things I told her was to go and find them. Aislinn drew me a beautiful picture of all my horses (3 deceased) in heaven, and she drew Ebony's dam there, too. And she drew my angel sister flying above them. In the middle of the picture is a big cross with a dove perched on it.

The beautiful horsehair bracelet pictured above was made for Aislinn by
They are so wonderful there, that they made me a free gift from Ebony's hairs, too!

If you are going to consider doing this, know that you need at least 14-18 inches of tail hair only. I was so fortunate to have had enough length to do this. Aislinn was completely surprised, and it helped her immeasurably.

I was completely surprised by the free gift, which came at a very good (because it is a very hard) time of the year for me; it even lifted my spirits in relation to humanity and kindness in time for Christmas. (I took a real hit in this area when Dawn died.) So you never know what one little act of random kindness will do!

Here are some of the Angel Horses Aislinn has been drawing:

These were put on Thank You notes to the owner of and her braider.

So, here I am—it’s 2012. I am very, very thankful to have you all here to share life with, especially the horses. Thank you so much for being here and listening to all of this with me. 

May we all see blessings and rewards in 2012! No matter what, let’s remember to always stop our lives long enough to tell everyone how much we really love them.
I looks forward to posting good, happy things next.
God Bless!
- Allison

Dreamport is a direct descendant.

This is the other side of the silver hand-engraved  charm on Aislinn's bracelet: 

Ebony, we can't wait to see you again!

I can see you up there, running through the pastures...

(She's been our girl since the day of her birth.)

Ebony's story is here