Wow, it's not even the end of January and I'm so tired of the ice...I mean the mud...I mean the icy mud! I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about and have some version of this mess in your life. At the ranch it means pens full of snow that became puddles, then lakes, then ice rinks, then mud pits. I don't remember ever having such crazy up-and-down temperatures in winter. Our staff and volunteers have been busy just trying to manage things during the weather changes and everyone has really pitched in to make sure the horses and donkeys are as comfortable as possible. For the most part this means breaking up or covering up ice, checking blankets and replacing bedding.
It's a new experience for me to work outside during the winter. I realized that after living here for 23 years I haven't really felt winter the way I have this season. Instead of spending just 15 minutes at a time outside with my dogs and then running in the house to sit in front of the woodstove, I'm now spending hours at a time outside and running into the feed room to warm up. :-) I'd have to say that so far it's been okay. I had the foresight to get a good Carhart jacket with a hood and a really good pair of winter muck boots. Those two things, combined with down-filled gloves my mom bought me and a cowl she knitted (thanks Mom!), have made all the difference.
It's never easy to say goodbye and Amigo was no exception. He was a big, swaggering dude of a horse. It always made me smile to see him come walking up for food. He reminded me of how John Wayne walked...and I kept trying to get it on video but he was too quick for me. By the time I would remember to get my phone out and get the camera going he'd be at the fence looking at me as if to say, "C'mon already! I'm hungry!" I groomed Amigo quite a few times this past spring when I first started volunteering at Wings and he was always patient and let me work on him. For a bit...
It's always nice to have good news at the ranch! A couple of things to report...
Our new arrivals, whom I haven't even had a chance to put on the home page, went off to a foster home today. This 30-year-old Appaloosa and 18-year-old mini-donkey were rescued November 23rd from a field near Wings. The owner, who lived across town, was found dead in his home and no one knew where his animals were. They were found in a pasture with very little grass and no water and Debora brought them to Wings immediately. The next day when I arrived to work, the first priority was to clean up the Appaloosa's back end, which was covered in frozen poo. Yuck, poor guy!
We had some damage from that crazy windstorm two weeks ago. I happened to be finishing up my shift at the barn when the wind started, and it was quite intense. I had to try and get the big barn doors closed so they wouldn't get ripped off the buildings, and luckily I was able to do that. A few times I just stood there with my arms over my head while the tornado-like wind swirled around me. Dust everywhere! Debora drove in with a horse in the middle of all of this, and while she was unloading the horse it panicked and got free.
New Holiday Design Cards are coming soon! Recently a few volunteers spent an afternoon taking photos for this years new holiday cards. These are a few of the fun outtakes! New designs will be available soon in our online store - a special donkey collection - and our classics are already available. Special thanks to a local artist who is helping to edit the final selected photos. All proceeds will help to care for, rehabilitate and feed the rescues at Wings!
This is a time of year when the weather changes so suddenly you have to be ready for anything. Preparing for winter at the barn involves some strategies and planning, especially for basic things like filling water troughs. We unhooked all our hoses a few weeks ago when we had some freezing weather and I started using a handy expandable hose to reach the troughs. Once you turn the water on, the hose expands to 100 feet, but it's lightweight so I'll be able to move it around easily in the snow. With no garden chores now, I've also been able to do more PEMF therapy on horses. Lucy and Dancer got some therapy this past week, as well as Spike, who has a sore hoof.
This past week saw a lot of healing activity as Debora and I worked on several horses with the PEMF machine (see earlier post). Since I already know how to use the machine, I'm just learning how to use it on a horse instead of a human. Honey, who is a new arrival to Wings, was worked on every day last week to try and jump-start her healing, on the advice of Kari from Valley Equine Massage. Her back end was so locked up with spasms that she didn't react when Debora ran her thumbs down either side of her spine on the hind end. Normally, a horse's hind end will curl under with an involuntary response. The PEMF causes muscles to twitch, similar to a TENS machine but much stronger. During the first few minutes of the first session, Honey's muscles did not twitch at all! I've never seen that happen.
Really, how lucky am I? I get to come to Wings and see these wonderful faces. I get to walk into the pens and touch these beautiful animals. For me, it doesn't get any better than this. Seven months ago, I didn't know a thing about being around a horse or taking care of a horse. Now I know the basics of horse handling, grooming, feeding, and horse psychology. And there's so much more to know! Sure, the work is sometimes physically demanding, and I come home smelling like a horse, but I've never been a glam girl. I've always been more of a tomboy who likes to play in the dirt.
I'm very happy to report that Wings has successfully applied for and received a grant from the Ravalli Electric company's Power of Change program! The grant will allow the purchase of an indoor arena building that can be used year-round for the Equine Assisted Therapy programs. Check out our Facebook page for more details.