Don’t Forget Me When You’re Gone

He did it again. Big Spot managed to injure himself while the humans are away. We’re not sure if it’s just coincidence, if he’s more vulnerable when his regular caretakers aren’t here, or if it’s his way of keeping the peeps from forgetting about him when they’re gone. I’m going to go with that last one, as it’s rather in keeping with his it’s-all-about-me Appaloosa nature.

The first time it happened was a major colic episode in the summer of 2018 when T and N were in the north celebrating’s G-Ma’s 90th birthday. We almost lost him that time. But in true tough-old-horse fashion, he pulled through and was here to greet them when they returned home.

On the mend in 2018.

The second time was during the summer of 2020 when T and N escaped to the woods during all the Covid craziness, taking a camping trip to the David Thompson Region of Alberta. Nevada managed to shish kabob himself on an old willow stump when he went down to roll, creating a twelve-inch deep puncture wound. Yup, you read that right…it was a foot deep. Again, he pulled through after days and weeks of wound flushing and antibiotics, first by Judy and then T and N when they returned home.

The foot-deep wound in 2020.

This time, it was a mostly invisible lameness that sprung up just before Christmas. He was sore on one front leg and swollen just below the knee, so we all assumed he’d fallen down (which he sometimes does when he goes to sleep standing) or that Gidget had made contact during one of their little spats. Since neither of these scenarios is something he’d want to admit to, we left him alone, not pressing him on the cause. They gave him bute (equine ibuprofen) for a few days, which seemed to get him moving around a bit more, and waited for things to improve.

Cooling his sore foot in the snow.

But things didn’t improve. In fact, on Christmas morning, the poor guy was in so much pain he lost interest in his food and was hardly moving, just standing on three legs with the fourth one pointing forward. He’d touch it with his muzzle every now and then, as if to say, “Um, this thing hurts like crazy. Can I get some help here?” And help is what he got, in the form of a Christmas Day emergency visit from Moore Equine Veterinary.

It was quickly determined that an abscess was the source of the problem, the leg swelling a side effect of the infection rather than the source of the lameness. The vet dug a small hole in the bottom of Nevada’s foot and out came a bunch of thick yellowish fluid. Yuck. No wonder it hurt with all of that jammed in there!

The draining hole.

We watched and waited for him to go trotting off, one hundred percent better, but he was so distracted by the bandage on his foot he didn’t move at first. Once he got used to the feel of the wrapped hoof, his interest in food returned and he started to move around more freely, even coming over to the paddock fence to visit with me, which he hadn’t been doing for days. But he was still lame, and the thick yellowish fluid continued to ooze out, right through his bandage.

Leaving yucky footprints in the snow.

Two days after the vet visit, it was like a miracle occurred. Nevada was suddenly weighting the abscess hoof about 95%, the swelling had gone down, and he was back to his bright-eyed, bossy self. We were all pretty excited for him, especially Nat our winter sitter, and I’m guessing T down there in the desert. Happy dances in two countries! And we did our own bit of celebrating, having a bite-my-face play session over the fence. At 32, my old friend isn’t as playful as he used to be, but we still get into it every now and then, usually with a good weather change or, in this case, a recovery from injury or illness.

So if the old boy was looking to be remembered over the holidays, I’m pretty sure he accomplished that. First, when he came up lame and again when that big Christmas Day vet bill arrived. Two painful events in one!

Appetite returned!

As for me, I never worry about being remembered. I know that T thinks about me every day. I mean, how could she not?

Autumn Tails

It has been quite the fall season for this rescue pony. You see, ever since Rosa had to be kept in a dry pen to protect her from laminitis, I’ve had the misfortune of being her paddock mate. It’s not that I don’t like Rosa, she’s great, but I’ve missed my buddy (and herd boss) Nevada, and I’ve missed grazing even more. Last year Rosa and I were out on a track system, and she seemed to do okay, but this year the early summer rains meant more green grass and Rosa had to be confined to not just a paddock, but half a paddock.

Rosa and I in our half paddock.

Luckily for me, T took pity on me, and started letting me out into a neighbouring grassy paddock and onto the track during the day. And the best part about that neighbouring paddock? It’s right in front of the barn, which meant I was in on all the action anytime anyone was near the barn. This meant extra treats, extra attention, and having my nose in everything, which I love.

Hi. Can I help with something?

Things got even better when the track ran out of grass during our hot, dry summer and T started opening up the gate into the yard for me. (She tried turning me in with Nevada and Gidget, but the old boy gets a little weird when I’m close to “his mare”.) I haven’t had a chance to graze the yard in years and it is just the best grass on the whole place.

Just when I thought life couldn’t get better, T started putting Nevada out in the yard with me. Just Nevada, no Gidget, so all was peaceful, and I got to graze with my oldest and best of friends. Pasture life has been very good.

In addition to enjoying musical pastures and being in the thick of all things going on at the farm, T’s taken me out riding in our field. We usually work in the outdoor arena, and it does feel like work, but the footing was dusty and T was bored, so off we went into the fields. So much more fun.

Check out those smiles!

And then about a week and a half ago, Nollind saddled up Rosa and the four of us set out into the surrounding crop fields. Well, holy cow, it had been a while since I’d left the property and I was feeling pretty fresh and a little twitchy. The wind was building and T had put some fly spray on me that was attracting honey bees. “I’m not a flower!” I wanted to shout, as I jig-jogged through the field. Rosa was also feeling rather frisky, so it was an entertaining ride for all of us. Two days later, we headed out again, and without the bees and the wind I was behaving much more like the 20-year-old trail veteran I am. T was pleased about that, and I do aim to please.

Rosa feeling fit and fresh.

According to T’s plan, we’ve got three more rides to get in before the peeps depart for places south. And don’t ask, because no, I’m not going along. Sometimes I think I’d like to try it, just once, but then I worry that I’ll be uncomfortable and homesick. T’s mentioned a “horse trip” one of these winters, but we’ll see. I’m pretty happy here at home and she’s pretty happy getting a break from all the farm chores. Seems like the perfect arrangement to me. But then I imagine myself in the desert, cantering through the cactus, basking in that winter sun, spending the whole winter with my person. Well, maybe one year…

Psst…It’s Me, Chico

I’m not sure this is allowed, blogging from beyond the Rainbow Bridge, but I cleverly figured out a way to do it (and I even managed to grab a few photos from the archives that live in the cloud.) So…

Hi! It’s been a while. I’ve been pretty busy these last few months, getting oriented to my new form, my new world, but as soon as I had a little free time, the first thing I looked into was getting in touch with all of you. Since we’d never heard from Logan after he left in 2018, I just assumed it wasn’t possible. If a clever guy like Logan couldn’t do it, what were the chances for me? But the difference between Logan and me is that I was always a little more human focused, to the point of actually trying to be more like one.

Desert sunset viewing from my camp chair.

I’m betting your first questions are “What’s it like there?” and “Is it is great as I imagine?” Especially those of you who have animal friends who have crossed the bridge. Well, the answers are … wonderful! and yes! All those health issues I contended with in my final months? Gone. I can eat anything I want and as much as I want, run around like the scud missile I used to be, and that damn tumor on my leg is completely gone. On top of that, the weather is always fine, whatever that means to each of us. For example, the Pyrenees, like Aspen, tend to like the snow, me a warm, sunny spot with a cool stream nearby. Logan likes that same sunny day, but only if he has a shady den to occupy.

A warm, sunny spot in a bed of cover. Sigh…

Yep, he’s here, my buddy Logan. In fact, he was right there waiting for me just across the bridge. He knew I was coming. Man was it good to see him. We had a vigorous play session right then and there, just like we used to back on the farm or in the desert as young dogs. He tells me there are some sand dunes to climb so I’m looking forward to that.

Or in this case … on a beach back in 2014.

As good as it was to see Logan, it sure was hard to leave my people. I know they didn’t want me to go, and that T agonized over the decision to send me away, but they did the right thing and I’m grateful. Life had really become a struggle, just to get up, to get outside, to eat even. That good old duck and potato food was just not tasting very good anymore. I can’t even look at a duck around here without gagging a little. Fortunately, the buffet is always open and I can have anything I want. Anything.

In this place, that yummy smelling plate of food would be mine!

The other really cool thing about being here? I can still communicate with beings on earth, mentally that is. Humans are tough, because they’re not very open to the idea of talking to animals, but other animals are easy peasy. For example, when T was walking along a river pathway in Sundre back in July, I suggested to this Pug dog that T would love a little lick on the face, because that’s how I used to greet her when she’d been away. Well, that little dog ran straight up to T, put her paws on her leg, and when T knelt down to say hello, slurp, right on the chin. And I think T knew that somehow it was me.

My signature chin lick.

And then I suggested to Ria that she pay extra attention to T when they were camping together and she went above and beyond, on duty just as soon as she heard the trailer door every morning. What a great friend.

Ria in all her fluffy sweetness.

I’ve also been talking to the horses and cats at the farm. I’ve enlisted Storm to run up to the fence anytime T is outside, and I convinced Hank to follow her around when she’s doing chores. Mariah helped with that one, offering to show him around. You should see the smile on her face with two cats following her around the paddocks as she rakes manure. But don’t tell her it was my idea. I’d like her to bond with her earthly critters.

I even convinced Storm to take T for an evening walk, just like I used to.

I admit to being a little jealous that I’m no longer the recipient of all that love. I mean, I am, I feel it, but I can’t physically experience it anymore. Some here say that we can reincarnate, go back to earth. Others that we wait here until our people join us. And yet others that we can choose which path to take. I think, if I do have the choice, I’ll go back, and this time as a smaller dog that fits nicely into someone’s lap. I got to be a bit of a lapdog in my final year, but, given my 50-pound size, it wasn’t all that comfortable for any of us.

Hm…I take that back. We both look pretty comfy.

Boy, it sure feels good to be back blogging. I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to get in touch, or if it’s even allowed, but if I can, I will, because I’m just not ready to disappear. So, until next time, Fur-iday Files correspondent Chico reporting from beyond the Rainbow Bridge.