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Archive for February, 2009

More Wings In Heaven

We lost a family member today. Andy & Aunt Bea came to us from a neglect situation. He’d been attacked by a cat and never got veterinary help. He did heal from his initial wounds but he was disabled.  I went to just get him and left with a total of 4 birds. They were all relieved to get out of that environment. I placed the two young cockatiels quickly. The old couple wasn’t so easy. The vet estimated them to be in their teens (this was at least 4 or 5 years ago) and both had severe arthritis. So, I set them up in a cage I converted to be easily maneuverable for their creaky legs.

They settled in and soon Andy began whistling the theme to the Andy Griffith show – hence their names. Time passed and he developed more problems than his old lady. More than once we thought we were losing him but he would bounce back. Today it was not to be. His bad leg was being wrenched by a tumor that seemed to come on overnight. He could no longer move it at all. I rode him in the car with me this afternoon. I sang Elvis songs and he whistled along. I met my friend at the shelter and together we ended his suffering. He died in my hand. Wind beneath thy wings, dear one, wind beneath thy wings.

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Now we worry about his mate. She seems ok but was causing quite a fuss about his absence. She has our other birds for company but I don’t know if she can survive his loss. They truly were an old married couple, fussing and fighting one minute and the next kissing and preening. They were even sitting on two eggs the past few weeks. Infertile ones, because of her age, but nontheless they’ve been devoted to the eggs. Maybe the stress from that is what caused Andy to decline? They knew real love and devotion. We all should be so lucky as to be grieved as he will be by her.

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Reflections

Looking back on the past year I’m still in awe that Cassidy is part of our lives. It sure seems like yesterday we made that trip to pick her up not knowing what was in store for us. We knew a baby was in the very near future, we just had to figure out how to birth it. We knew we had to find professionals to help us, both vets and trainers, and didn’t know where to begin. I knew I had a lot of fear and insecurities to overcome. I’m thankful for all the new friends (and old ones) who’ve joined us on the journey.

Scottie came upon Cass & I sharing a moment during one of her first few days with us. I was reading aloud to her from the book “Blessed Are The Broodmares”.

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We’re about to begin a new chapter in what we call CassidyLand. It is time.

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Hmmm…I wonder…

What does this group of bovines have to do with Cass & Becca? Anyone want to guess?

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One Year Ago…

One year ago today, BM April, #232,  was loaded onto the truck in Canada with 16 other horses. I had spent the weekend having a nervous breakdown. In part because I was feeling completely inadequate in being able to handle owning a horse (not to mention a pregnant one!) and because I was not having any success in finding her a ride from Ocala to Longwood. The last 2 hours of the trip were seriously tripping me up. You have no idea how close I came to calling the rescue group and telling them NOT to put her on the truck.

Thank God I came to my senses after Scottie refused to coddle me during my pathetic crying bouts. He made me figure it all out – and I did. On this day one year ago we visited Partner Up Ranch for the first time. I’d found Leslie’s website and she replied back that she would love to help me with my unknown PMU mare. Going to her place that first time helped me feel maybe it would all work out. Over the course of the first few months with Cass  a few other trainers came out to meet us. My first instincts were right and Leslie has been a Godsend.

The weekend before BM April loaded on that truck early Monday, I’d written out a list of Pros & Cons.

PRO:

1. Fulfill lifelong dream.

2. Save their lives.

CON:

1. Don’t know what I’m doing.

2. Don’t know the horse.

3. Don’t own property.

4. Big $$$$$$$

5. Possible fraud? (the whole PMU thing)

6. Have limited time.

7. Potential of being kicked out of boarding place if horse is nuts.

8. Avoidance of real life issues.

9. Halt Eva’s training.

10. Time away from husband.

When discussing these pros & cons, Scottie shot down every single con. He was the one with the confidence in my ability to actually be able to do this. And, we did do it!

The truck that housed our girl for 5 days & 3,000 miles.

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BM April, the first steps into her new life in Florida.

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Our Cassidy April now (it was Christmas!).

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Happy Birthday To…

B! Happy Birthday to B! Happy Birthday to BBBBBBBBBBB! Happy Birthday to Big Baby B!!!!!!!! Yep, it’s her 9 month birthday. We had a nice visit this past weekend. You can see how big our Baby Becca is getting. She still has a while to catch up to the girth of her mother but she’s just about there in height.

Our usual greeting from Momma Cassidy.

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Becca and I sang her birthday song together!

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You can really see how Becca is just about as tall as her momma. She still has a way to go to catch up with the size of her head and body length, but should I worry about her getting really big? She’s only 9 months old!

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“I’m a big girl, I’m a big girl, I’m a bigggggggg gurl!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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Cass and I have such a connection. She makes any worries go away.

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Becca thinks she’s a big gurl – but here is the hands down biggest gurl. This is Riley. She’s a Drum horse and is only 4 years old. She’s a sweetie, too, good thing!

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No visit to Partner Up would be complete without playing with my bud, Jasper! LaLaLaLa! He’s a goofball.

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Birthdays & Waning Days

So far, February has been chockful of crazy days. We’ve celebrated some stellar birthdays, we’ve remembered some sober anniversaries and dealt with death knocking on the door. On the 2nd we watched our Australian Cattledog, Eva, finally turn 2 years old. I’ve been telling her since she came at 10 weeks of age to “just turn 2!” and now she is. She’s matured and is an awesome dog. We’ll be relying on her more and more as the old-timers leave us. She is actually a dog that plays and it’s been eons since we were able to play with anyone. Playing fetch can do wonders for the soul. It’s capable of making tears turn to laughter.

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On the 7th we praised God in seeing our old man, Ramirez, turn 17 (yes, seventeen!) years old. He’s been with us from the beginning of us. He has his aches and pains, has to wear pants and it takes him half a day to finish a meal, but he’s in incredible shape for such an aged fellow. Last year we took him for an all day tour of old friends and haunts but it wore him out. So this year, we just did what he does best – sleep in bed all snugged up. He had a special meal of spaghetti and meat sauce and somehow he managed to wolf that down in record time. Hmm. Every day is a blessing. As amazing as he is now, he was without compare in his youth.

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On the 10th we watched Scottie turn another year older and sadder as he watched his best boy decline even more. Francis Franklin Sinatra Prince is one of the Pookie Bros. and is not doing well. He’s been on this decline for sometime now. He has the doggie equivalent of Alzheimer’s. He just turned 16 but we don’t know his exact birthdate. We’ve dealt with all sorts of diseases and illnesses taking our dogs but nothing like watching a brain deteriorate. It’s torturous.

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For nearly 2 weeks now we’ve been circling our life around Frank, trying to decide what is a good day for him to die. Isn’t that a terrible thought? We came close to losing him to a massive seizure and a late night trip to the emergency vet. They thought we were nuts for bringing him home. I convinced the doctor on duty that I could handle it and to please leave the catheter in his leg in case we needed it for the inevitable injection later that night. We brought him home and Scottie stayed up all night holding him on his chest. He’s done that every night since. We wait for these old dogs to die and then do everything in our power to keep it from happening. It’s a stressful way to live, that’s for sure. When we rescued all these dogs all those years ago, we didn’t consider losing them all at the same time. I’m relieved Cass & Becca are with Leslie right now. I know they’re happy and fed and not worrying where I am – well, maybe Cass is a little.

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But, as is more the norm in our house than not, Frank started improving! He is still not good but Scottie is not ready to let him go, yet. There is nothing I can do to fix Frank. This is not something that can get better. He’s eating like a fiend everytime I put something in front of him, though. We started him on anti-seizure medication and that has seemed to take a lot of his agitation away. (Think of the old man in the nursing home not wanting his bed pan changed). We were getting bit constantly but not so now. Scottie is taking this extra time to pamper and hold and let Frank feel how special he is to him.

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We also have Frank’s real brother, Sammy Dean Davis Martin. Yes, Scottie is a rat-pack fan. Frank had been staying in the office with his brother and another of our dogs, Kaley. But when all this happened with the seizure we moved him back into our room. We set him up a canvass crate at the foot of our bed that he wouldn’t be able to hurt himself on if he started having more seizures. His brother didn’t let any time pass before taking over his crate in the office. He was asleep in it later that morning! They are complete opposites in personality but have an attachment to one another like brothers. Sam is in extraordinary health, somehow.

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To complicate an already complicated existence, our dog, Monica, got hit with an episode of Vestibular Syndrome a few days after Frank’s near miss. She is also 16 years old. Geesh! This girl has had more miracles and lives than about 10 cats put together. I have dealt with this situation before so knew what to expect and how to handle it. The dog appears to have had a stroke but they haven’t. The dog suddenly feels like they are on a tilt-a-whirl ride and they have lost all equilibrium. It’s very frightening to them and their people. But, time usually works it out. So, for a few days we were having to carry this 50 pound dog in and out to go potty. She couldn’t eat because her head wouldn’t stay still. We sure didn’t need both of these at the same time.

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The days started blurring taking care of our regular pack, Frank and Monica. I was about to have to see my acupuncturist for my  back from carrying Monica. Scottie and I were both trying very hard to not be nasty and terse with one another. Didn’t need fighting with each other on top of all this. Frank had gone down on a Wednesday then Monica went down on Saturday. By the following Wednesday, both were improving! What a yo-yo life. Our emotions run pretty raw. Monica is now just about back to her usual self. She’s always had a head tilt from being wacked in the head by something before we ever got her. She is a walking miracle.

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To make things even more difficult for my dear husband, we saw on the 15th the anniversary of losing our dog Jackson.

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Hard to believe he’s been gone 6 long years, but he has. He was Scottie’s true best friend, and the very first stray we ever dealt with. It took him 5 years to put his ashes in his urn and he cried like it had just happened. So, yesterday, as we lit a candle in rememberance of Jack, Scottie held onto Frank even tighter, knowing that he will soon be missing him too.

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Things here in CassidyLand are running along fairly smoothly. Training is still in progress for both girls, mostly Cass, but Becca gets her share of little sessions. The cool thing is this past week they were put into the pasture together to see how they would get along. They are fine and seem to be enjoying the company on a different level. The baby stuff is no longer working on Momma Cass. She told Becca from the get go that she was in charge out there. If you remember, when Becca left for weaning in October she had started thugging her mom around a bit. Cass let her get away with it then, not so now. They’ve worked it out and never even gave any kicks or real bites.

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Part of Becca’s lesson this past week involved trimming that crazy mane to make her look  like a fjordygirl should. She was excellent for it. She wasn’t too hip on me using the clippers so I did it with shears. It’s not the best at being even but we got the job done. She’s such a good girl she stayed ground tied for her haircut. Her momma’s do will be next on the agenda.

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Both girls have their winter coats but they are shedding out, too, since our weather is so crazy. It’ll be 35 at night and 80 during the day. They don’t know where they are! I do miss seeing them everyday (especially Cass) but being at Partner Up right now is what we all need. I can feel the relationship between Cass and I changing, but all for the good. She and I have had a special bond from the minute we met but she’s seen me a lot of the time as the treat and hay lady. That is no longer my title. Now, she is genuinely happy to see me and it’s not about her expecting food. This past week when I went out to get her for round pen work, she was clear across to the back of the pasture standing in the doorway of the foaling barn. I called to her from halfway, she raised her head and then amazingly trotted all the way to me! It was spectacular.

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Training two horses is far from easy. I’m not in the shape I once was, either! Scottie and I have made a commitment to work on that where both of us are concerned. I’ve been fumbling around with my coordination carrying the whip and making the right turns, all while keeping my body in the right spot toward the horse. It’s easy to get dizzy! This past week we used the long lunge line and things actually clicked for both me and Cass. It was a nice to feel successful and inspired. I can do this! (Excuse my hoosier look w/the cowboy boots and shorts! It was one of our hot days.)

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Leslie is always there to correct us when we need it.

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Now it’s Baby B’s turn. She is a smart girl and nothing much phases her. It’s been interesting seeing the difference between she and her momma. Becca has known nothing but good and we can only guess the things Cass has known. She’s much more suspicious and easier to fluster. But she’s a fast learner. She recovers quickly when she does get frightened. (This was a few days before trimming Becca’s Tina Turner mane.)

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Let’s not forget our friends, Sam and Gayle. They are doing so well. Sam tries hard for Gayle and she him.

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This lovely boy is Jasper. He is Leslie’s special boy and he was gracious enough to allow me a ride. I realized I need to get back on a horse to remember the feel of what it is I am working toward. I’ve never taken riding lessons. What I do know just skims the top of what it takes to really know how to ride. I have kept this romantic notion of only riding Cassidy and not wanting to ride any other horse because they aren’t her. That’s silly. Scottie, as usual, put things into perspective for me. He said, “an astronaut doesn’t start off flying the Space Shuttle, they have to fly a few planes first.” Got it.

So, Jasper and Leslie started teaching me yesterday. He’s a lot taller and bigger than Cass but I wasn’t afraid of him. I’ve gotten to know him in the time my girls have been there. I tacked him up with Leslie coaching me. He could probably put his saddle on all by himself, he’s so smart!

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She showed me her way (and the natural horsemanship way) of putting the bridle on. The horse is taught to lower their head so it is easy for you to reach. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done this way before.

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We did his round pen work and he showed me the way it’s supposed to be done. He’s so unbelievably smart. He’s a good example for us to work toward.

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It was time to saddle up! I don’t think I’ll be needing any steps to get on Cass, Becca maybe if she keeps growing like she is, but never Cass. Whew!

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Gayle was taking the pictures and had to leave before I started my actual riding lesson. Jasper was kind to me but he did test me several times. Leslie coached me from outside the round pen telling me which leg to apply pressure with, to turn my body and stop looking down at my horse! We walked around the round pen to let me get the feel of things. When we were done, Jasper walked right out of the pen and over to the barn to stand politely to untack. He was doing all the work but I had spoken with him beforehand and explained how little I knew so he took care of me. When I was leavivng that day, he poked his head out of the stall and stuck his tongue out at me! That’s one of his favorite games. I believe he and I are going to become pals.

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