Save Your Ass or how ’bout a Mammoth Donkey?

Let’s give a nod of thanks and appreciation to all those animal rescues, toiling daily, even hourly, to make lives better for animals who’ve been tossed in the trash by others.

As a new Long Ear owner, I’d like to give a special shout-out to Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue in New Hampshire.

This story comes from SYA’s Ann Firestone:

“I’ve have been involved in animal rescue for all of my adult life and think I have a pretty tough skin, but one look at a picture of a pregnant mammoth donkey scheduled to palomaship to slaughter had me in tears. Of course I agreed to take her in.

She was rail thin – her hip bones stuck up like points. She was crawling with lice…she had a sad, vacant look in her eyes, like she’d given up hope.

She was so weak that she fell coming off the trailer.

And, on top of all this, she was carrying a foal.

With love, attention, and the help of our wonderful vets, Paloma slowly started to improve.

Amazingly she carried to term and delivered a healthy, bouncing baby boy on Easter Sunday, who we named “E.B.,” for “Easter Bunny.”

It’s taken close to a year to get Paloma totally back on her feet and healthy. She has gained even a bit more weight since E.B. has been weaned and her coat has become thick and shiny. It’s so wonderful to see that the light has come back into her formally dull eyes.

And best of all, Paloma and E.B. will be moving together to their new home later this month.


Please consider setting some time or funds aside to help hard-working, effective rescues like Save Your Ass.


First Trail Ride, Part One

It is too early to start talking Resolutions?
Along with a new exercise resolve, I’ve picked up a horsemanship resolution.
This time, it came from the strangest place.
Michael Pollan was talking about his new book, “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation.” He mentioned a favorite chef IMG_1968who used three words for her best kitchen advice:

Practice. Patience. Presence.

Perfect for working with horses, too.
That’s what I channeled on the first trail ride with Jolene, the mule.
It’d been more than a month since our initial round pen rides. At our new place, we have no round pen or any other smallish, enclosed space yet. But I figured the hills and trees and eight inches of snow would slow her down if she upheld her tendency to bolt.
We saddled up; Jolene fussed immediately, hunching her back and giving me one of those funny mule sounds.

I mounted in a safe place, with Steve Peters and Comet nearby. Jolene trekked up a short hill immediately. I held on and kept slack in the reins (They were split reins on a rope halter. We have yet to introduce a bit.).
A downhill, open trail lay ahead. I tried gently bumping her with my left rein to turn and wait for Steve and Comet. She turned but kept trotting and bucked out her nervousness.

“I don’t think I’m ready for this,” I cried out, holding on to the night latch. “I don’t think Jolene is either.”

But we wanted to keep going. And, so we did.

Part Two, with excellent advice from horsewoman Kyla Pollard, next week!

Farm Fit meets Gym Fit

farm fit1We’re active. Most of us horsemen and women get plenty of exercise just taking care of our barnful.

Hay tossing, water lugging, and riding add up to being Farm Fit.
Some may be Gym Fit, too, toning and sweating in a more formal setting.

Read about Farm Fit versus Gym Fit.

Over the decades, I’ve fallen squarely in the Farm Fit camp, supplementing horse work with rigorous walks with dogs and occasional sets of push ups and sit ups.
But the other day, it hurt just climbing into the saddle.

Something had to change.

Struggling with injuries and aging, I’ve started incorporating elements of Gym Fit into the routine. Core strength training and stretching in the form of Pilates and yoga classes at a nearby public recreation center, have become essential components.

A recent radio program spoke to this topic:

Dr. Jordan Metzl, author of “The Exercise Cure: A Doctor’s All-Natural, No-Pill Prescription for Better Health & Longer Life” said that after our 20s and 30s, we lose naturally muscle mass if we don’t exercise. Certain regimes like Pilates can help an aging frame.
trainingMetzl likes to consider exercise like anything else doctors might prescribe.  In fact, the New York sports medicine doctor calls exercise the most effective preventative medicine out there.

He said, “what if there were a drug to treat every illness, across all body systems, proven potent against heart disease, depression, arthritis, PMS and erectile dysfunction — even in chronic diseases such as asthma, dementia, and certain types of cancer? What if it had no side effects, was completely free, readily available, and worked for everyone? Every single person who took it decreased her risk of premature death and raised his quality of life. Would you want it?”
What do you think?
What works best for you?

ESMA voting now open!

NickerNews and BestHorsePractices have been nominated in two categories of this year’s global Equestrian Social Media Awards.

esma14NickerNews is up for Best Blog. (We were Best Blog finalists last year!)

BestHorsePractices is entered in the social media Newcomer category.

Together, the two sites have brought you hundreds of smart, lively posts on everything from clinic reviews to training tips to travel tales and horse humor.
Please vote!

Simply CLICK HERE, then scroll to No. 13 and No. 14. You will find BestHorsePractices and NickerNews in the respective DropDown menus.

Many, many thanks.

Bake these when you’re done with horse chores

Winter projects can be long or short on investment.

Long investments measure about 22 feet in length. Learn to braid a mecate.
Short investments are best measured with eggs, sugar, and butter.

Here’s a family favorite, handed down from my mom, Sally Butcher. Read about her work and times with Tom, therapy dog extraordinaire.

Ginger Balls are quick, easy, and delicious. If you overcook them, no worries! They’re fabulous when dunked in tea, coffee, cocoa, or milk.

cookiesGinger Ball recipe for about 4 dozen cookies

(I usually double it to make enough for friends).

Place in a bowl:
¾ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
scant ¼ cup molasses
Mix together well.

2 cups flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp cloves
2 tsp baking soda

Blend well.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in granulated sugar.
Place at least 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes @ 350 degrees.

Dr. Cooper will be missed

The large animal veterinary community lost a beloved and respected figure last week in Dr. E.L. “Coop” Cooper. After suffering a stroke, Dr. Cooper died at the Hospice House in Auburn. He was 87. Read the Sun Journal obituary.

Cooper hailed from British Columbia, Canada. After graduating with a vet degree from the University of Ontario, he worked for cooperDr. Edward Russell in Farmington before starting his own private practice.

Friend and fellow vet, Dr. David Jefferson, of Maine Equine Associates, shared this memory:

“Coop and I have been friends for years.  

One day I was up in Wilton on a Sunday emergency call.  After I sutured the leg of a horse that lost an argument with some barbed wire, I  stopped at that Windmill burger and fry place for a quick lunch.  Coop happened to be there and was sitting in his pick-up pulling on a thick milk shake.   
I asked what he was doing that day.  He replied that he had some calves to vaccinate and had to check some cows for pregnancy.   I said that those calls sounded pretty routine to me, and why in the world was he doing that stuff on a Sunday?  

He gave me a big grin and up came that funny little chuckle of his and he said:  

‘Seems like every time I try to take a day off I just get into trouble.   I figure that I might as well just work every day and you know,  I always have some fun at every farm that I visit.’

He did, and so did his clients.    
He was and is the hero of all of us who pound the roads on large animal calls.”

Rest in peace, Dr. Cooper. And sincere condolences to the Cooper family.

Open Space Called

reflectNothing made sense.

  • Moving again after only a year in Iowa?
  • Buying a house in need of much renovation?
  • Living further from, not closer to family?

But when the prospect of moving west became real, we weighed those significant financial and logistical burdens against one overriding gain:

Open space.  Read more about the journey.

As in wilderness and the peace and wonder and possibilities that go with it.

Of course, wilderness is not an inclusive guarantee here. (Nor is it nonexistent in other states.)
In fast-growing Utah, it’s easy to find a quarter-acre lot in the middle of yet another bland subdivision. But finding a home within our modest price range and with immediate access to public land at times seemed like that search for a needle in the haystack.

After looking for weeks, we found one that borders Bureau of Land Management Land. It was built 25 years ago, needs work, and has a long, curving driveway that’s steep as heck. (Walking up the quarter mile will leave you breathless. Keeping it clear of snow will be winter’s No. 1 challenge.)

While we’re ecstatic with the hundreds of miles of trails out our back door, things aren’t idyllic.

Our rugged nine acres offers next to no grass; we’ll be tossing hay year round.

The Kennecott Mine, one of the world’s largest copper mines, is right next door and blemishes a quarter of the horizon.

Did I mention the driveway?

And then there is this daily distraction.

Every time I look up from my writing work, those juniper-dotted hills beckon. I may have to put my work desk in a closet.

That faraway family? All outdoor enthusiasts, soon they may be bunking here.


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