Blog posts

HORSES: Get Out and Play!!

Ok, so I have lived in Virginia for the past two+, after 21 years in beautiful, sunny and WARM Florida. I miss the heat, but VA is a very sunny, beautiful state, so with MANY layers I have been able to prevail. The really cool thing is that last year I started fox hunting and have gone out several times over some of the most amazing and picturesque countryside imaginable. Truly, the gorgeous farms, horses and hounds, the rolling hills and sunny days made fox hunting on cool and sunny days some of the most beautiful and fun days for me. (And the post-hunt breakfast was always great, too)😊

One of the best gifts that horses have given me and helped to instill is my love for the outdoors.   Think about it, when we go to all of these “theme parks”, we often go to “made up worlds” that only try to do as good a job as nature does herself.  Humans fail miserably, but we do try our best to mimic all the beauty and pure joy that nature makes each day. Who doesn’t love being outside, with a nice, warming sun on your back to keep you happy as you are riding down the road, boating, playing outside with your kids, or friends, or whatever?

My old mare, Tess, loved that sun.  She would be out in August, laying in a sand pit, just soaking up the sun, happy as could be. I used to love to get her on those days. Seeing her “sunning herself”, then watching her get up when I called her name, give me her typical “little winnie” to say hello, pee, (yes, this was always part of the routine) and then canter up say hello used to just make me smile.

Horses and dogs, too, really make us all appreciate the outside.  I mean, we HAVE to get outside to truly enjoy them, play with them and just have fun.  Certainly, I do NOT like riding in the rain, mucking too many stalls or shoveling snow, but I just love the fact that I get to be outside so much because of them.  And, when the weather is good, it truly is a gift. 

Some of the most fun stuff in the world is riding outside on a beautiful day, cantering along, seeing beautiful fall leaves, a wonderful countryside, or enjoying the sun on your back.  It used to be a real treat for me when my old dog, Butthead, used to come on all my trail rides with me.  We would have a blast galloping up and down hills, jumping over any logs or stuff in our way.  Just think of how fit we both were getting AND we were having the time of our lives!

It drives me nuts today that all kids want to do is play video games and be on their phones.  It’s like they don’t even notice that the outdoor exists!  I worry so much about how this world will be in the future, now that kids don’t just get out and play and use their bodies anymore.  So, please take some great advice from horses (and our other furry friends). Get out and play with your pets, or kids, enjoy the sun, or the fall, or whatever.   Just have fun!! 

BROTHERS IN ARMS – PROTECT FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Three years ago, I adopted two kittens from the local county animal shelter.  They were in the same cage and similar ages, but I had no idea if they were related (they are VERY different looking and acting). So, even if I still don’t know if they are related or not, they sure do treat each other like family. By that I mean that these two can definitely go at it, just like brothers and sisters can do to each other. Still, it’s obvious that they are willing to defend and protect each other.  This is a great bond and quality we should all have and to see it from my cats reminded me how important it is for us all to protect and stick to your friends and family.

I’m very lucky to have a vet that comes to the home to take care of my cats. She came to give the cats vaccinations and their yearly exam. Frack got his vaccines and exam with no problems.  He’s the tough one (I think he is actually a dog stuck in a cat’s body! LOL).  On we went to Frick.

Frick is the pacifist.  He is a friendly, jolly fellow who DOES NOT like things like vet exams or shots.  Needless to say, Frick started screaming and crying when I “restricted” him for the shots/exam.  I mean, you would have thought we were ripping his legs off, or worse!

Well, can you believe that as I was holding poor, struggling (and wimpy) Frick, his brother ran over to me and BIT ME in the elbow!! He wasn’t doing it for any other reason than to protect his brother/buddy and to get me to release him while being examined!  I thought to myself, “You go, boy!  Way to protect your family and best buddy.” The vet and I were shocked, but completely delighted at the same time.  I mean, he was completely willing to stand up to me to help his buddy.  How cool is that?

On this same theme, there has been LOTS of chaos in the home recently, due to just having just sold the house.  It sold in two days and we have to be out in THREE weeks, so needless to say, it’s just a bit crazy here.  The cats and dogs have been put off by the strangers trampling through their home (WITHOUT their parents) and the dog won’t leave my side.  The cat’s way to cope is to stay on top of each other, comforting and supporting each other.  Again, brothers in arms! 

We all need to follow their example and protect each other, comfort each other and stay close.  Certainly, we want to kill our family and friends sometimes, but that doesn’t ever mean we won’t drop everything to protect them.

DOGS: Keep Going and Enjoy!

My old dog Butthead (yes, that was his name-I didn’t give him the name, but if you knew the dog, you couldn’t change the name! LOL) was a puppy mill puppy that a woman bought from a mall pet store because she loved Springer Spaniels and she had the means to do so. She frequently bought Spaniels in pet stores and then gave them away because she wanted them to have a great life.

First, she gave him to a blacksmith, who tried him as a bird dog (which didn’t go well 😊), so he gave the dog away to my former boss. When my boss was leaving his job and I was taking over for him, I loved Butthead SOOOO much that when my boss was leaving, he told me he was moving to somewhere he couldn’t keep the dog, so he asked if I wanted him? Enter my first dog as an adult. I can tell you, even though I was now his forth owner, that he was the BEST friend and BEST dog I ever had (and may ever have).

Butthead was so fun and so cool, you couldn’t help but love him to pieces. His happiness and love for life were so infectious. I even used to take him to senior homes as a volunteer to brighten older citizens days to cheer them up. He would march into each room and announce to every person he saw that life was amazing and weren’t we all just lucky for something so fun?  Certainly, he brightened the life of everyone he saw.

Now, Butthead had everything going against him. Being a puppy-mill puppy, he was terribly bred, meaning he had every problem imaginable. Again, I was his FORTH owner, plus he had grade four out of grade five hip dysplasia, horrible skin allergies and he also had to have three (yes three) cruciate ligament surgeries.  Still, that dog got up EVERY day and looked at me with the biggest toothy grin and said, “today is the best day ever! What are we going to do to make it even more awesome!!?”

It was his amazing attitude and love for life that got me through some of the darkest times of my life. And I do mean dark… I would look at him each day and wonder how he could possibly have such an amazing zest for life? At a time when everything seemed all wrong for me, when I had thoughts of not going on myself, I used to look at him and think, “How can you go on and be so damn happy when everything is against you?” 

FORTUNATELY, he made me realize that if HE could keep going and be that happy, that I could, too!  That dog truly taught me one of the best lessons I ever received.  He gave me a drive to keep going on and keep trying my best, like no one else could.  I still think of him often and know I owe him everything.  When I spread his ashes this year over his old running grounds (he used to trail ride with me for hours in NY, having the time of his life!)  I cry with joy now just remembering how lucky I was for him and how much he gave to me.

Dogs are simply the best that way.  They know that no matter how bad you think you have it, life can still be amazing and fun and wonderful, so WHY NOT smile and enjoy?  His gift, and the gift of all dogs, is to keep on going each day.  We are all really lucky for those furry best buddies, no matter how they come into our lives!

HORSES: Patience and Appreciation

I lived in Ocala, Fl for 21 years and I’m in back for work obligations. Depending on who you speak with, it is, “Horse Capital of the World”. That may, or may not be true, but horses are everywhere around. It’s why I moved to Ocala originally and lived in the town for so long.

A life-long horse nut, I have been incredibly fortunate to have been around some of the best and most incredible horses and their riders, trainers and caregivers. Superior horsemen have been incredibly generous in teaching me smart and life-long skills to keep these animals at their peak and as happy as possible, which can be very hard in the tough world of serious showing (or racing, or any top-level horse competition). Being back here reminds me how much horses have given to me and taught me. Horses are actually why I started this blog.

The patience and overly abundant tolerance that horses give to humans is something that I never get past. I mean, how would you like someone hopping on your back, kicking you in the belly and insisting that they “jump this” and “run around this track”, or “race around this stupid barrel”? What human would put up with that foolishness? Still, horses just do. Certainly, their nature is to be passive and tolerant and essentially “do as told”, but what they give us, the patience they show us as we make mistake after mistake is mind-boggling. 

I’ve always considered myself so lucky to have been able to be continually given that patience and unbelievable tolerance by the horses I’ve been around.  Even to have “fixed” horses that came from very bad situations and to see their ability to come back and love, just as before.  Such patience and tolerance…unreal.

Humans should try a little of this with themselves, each other and other species.  Just think how much better EVERYTHING would be for all if we tried to learn a little from horses.  Patience and tolerance.  Rare, but incredible valuable gifts for us all to practice to all animals and each other. 

ALL ANIMALS KNOW: Differences can still allow for true friendship

My dog and one of my cats (all were adopted) are truly best friends. The dog chases the cat, the cat hides and then jumps out at the dog, the dog “attacks” the dog, the cat runs after the dog and swats her from behind. When that is all over, they sleep, side-by-side, happy as they can be, looking to each other for security and friendship. In a world full of many different races, ethnicities and religions, humans can often have trouble seeing the good in something different.  All animals understand that true friendship and loyalty can come between any creature, so long as you give it a chance. This friendship can come even more so from shelter animals.  Often times, they seem to have a heightened sensitivity to love, comradery and companionship.  I’m always blown away by some of the hard circumstances’ animals have had, whether having been abandoned, abused or starved.  Still, it is these animals which have that innate understanding and love for all and are STILL able to give it to others. Many years ago, I had an old dog, Missy, that we had found walking down the road.  She was an absolute delight, full of love and compassion for every creature.  In her older years, I wanted to get another friend for her, but something that wouldn’t be too rough since Missy had gotten frail. In comes Poptart, a long-haired Daschund puppy mill mommy. Scared out of her mind, Poptart was afraid for every step.  Missy took her in quickly and showed her how great it could all be with an open mind and heart.  She didn’t care how scared our confused Poptart was, she just wanted to be a friend.  Those two quickly became best buddies and helped each other immensely.  I remember all that they gave each another (and me) and realize that when we forget to have opinions or attitudes, we can also provide that love and companioship for all. Both were from questionable beginnings, but they used each other to take the most out of their lives to form an unending friendship and to have as much fun as they could while they were here.  We can all use a little more of that in this world.  See the good in others, enjoy the differences and love life!

LESSONS FROM DOGS: They have it figured out right.

So I’m in Jamaica, the water and air are both in the mid 80’s, with perfectly blue skies all around a beautiful resort. I’m healthy and well-loved. 

A dog would look at this situation with such utter and complete joy that it’s almost hard for them to express. People, sometimes, can take a perfect scenario just like this and STILL manange to think, “but what is waiting for me when I get back, I hope the flight back isn’t late, I brought the wrong shirt…whatever. The point is that we can ruin something so perfect and let that moment pass us by.

That’s what dogs have taught me – and it is one of the most important lessons I have ever learned and a lesson I sure remembered to use today, that each moment of the day is more perfect and joyful than the next. I have no worries and am so grateful and truly happy and I’m thrilled to have this time.

Next time you are having a great moment, no matter how small or insignificant, do yourself a HUGE favor and realize that little moment of perfection for the wonder that it is. ENJOY!!