Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

'TWAS the night before Christmas
And all through the barn
Not a creature was stirring
Anywhere on the farm

The stockings were hung
On the stall doors with care
In hopes that Saint Nicholas
Soon would be there

The horses were all snuggled
Into straw-banked beds
While visions of sweet feed
Danced in their heads

And Argus was in his blanket
Chubby Half Pint going bare
Both hoping and wishing
Santa soon would be there

When out in the arena
There arose such a clatter!
They leapt into their paddocks
To see what was the matter!

The moon on the puddles
In the wet winter pasture
Made the night light so blinding
They breathed faster and faster!

When what to their
Brown horsey eyes should appear
But a jolly red sleigh
And eight hungry reindeer

In the driver's seat sat Santa
All dressed up in red
And he winked at the horses
As they spied from their beds

Then something odd happened
The horses grew brave
And Santa addressed them
Which made them quite grave:

"Now Argus! Now Half Pint!
Now Odie and Angel!
Now Ginger and Caleb!
And Ridge in the stable!"

"To your herd mates be kind
And don't waste your hay!
Take care of your riders
And love each new day!"

As dry shavings that before
The wild hurricane fly
When they meet with the winds
Mount to the sky

And suddenly the horses
Who before felt quite shy
Felt themselves flying around
With Santa in the sky!

So around the farm
The horses they flew
They looked down on the home
They loved and they knew

And then, on the house top
They thumped on the roof
And the family inside
Heard the pounding of hooves

"What's that?" they shouted
As they woke from their beds
"We thought we heard horses
Loose overhead!"

So out to the stables
The family they ran
Where they found it quite empty
Save for the horse goat, An'

They peered at the sky
For a sign of the equines
And for a moment, saw Santa
Riding Argus just fine

Then suddenly, and quietly
The horses were there
Munching hay and looking sleepy
As if they had no cares

So the lights were extinguished
The excitement went "poof"
And the family missed Santa
Spying down from the roof

To each horse, he gave a gift
And when he got to the last
It was Argus, the white one
He'd seen on many a Christmas past

"You're a good horse, dear Argus"
Santa said with a tear,
You have suffered so long
So many a year"

"I promise you will always
Have a loving, peaceful life
With pastures and buddies
An end of all strife"

Argus thought quietly
About all the nights
And the bleak Christmases of waiting
For the arrival of light

This, his second Christmas
Of freedom and cheer
He'd been a real horse, a free horse
For more than a year

Santa sprang to his sleigh
To his team gave a whistle
And winking once more at Argus
He flew away like a missile

The horses heard him exclaim
As he drove out of sight
"Merry Christmas, dear Argus!
And to all --- a good night!"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Five Starfish

Just when I'm starting to feel discouraged, I remember the starfish story.

A man was walking along the beach. Ahead of him, he saw a woman dancing in the waves. As he got closer, he saw that she was throwing starfish, who had been stranded by the low tide, back into the ocean. "What are you doing?" he said to the woman. "I'm saving these starfish," she replied. The man laughed. "There are thousands of starfish along this beach who will die today. You cannot throw them all back in. You cannot possibly make a difference." The woman threw another starfish back in, and laughed. "It made a difference to that one."

Well, five starfish are sitting at the Petaluma, CA auction yard. They are five skinny senior horses who will go to auction on Monday, and they need our help. They are just five of the many hundreds of horses around the country this week who face an uncertain fate, but we have the power to help them. They have been brought there by various people who no longer want to care for them. This auction is frequented by several local slaughter dealers. If purchased by the slaughter buyers, these horses will be destined for a Mexican or Canadian slaughterhouse next week.

A tiny, grassroots local organization, Sonoma Action For Equine Rescue (SAFER), is trying to help these horses. They wish to raise the funds to bid against kill buyers on Monday and either find homes for the animals, or at the very least put them to sleep humanely, saving them the horror of a long, cold ride to slaughter.

Please contact SAFER president Kate Sullivan at or 707-824-9543 if you can help in any way. Can you offer a home, a foster home, or some funds to help Kate help these horses? I have promised Kate $50 toward this mission. Just $5 makes a huge difference. Even if just one starfish was thrown back to sea, it would be worth it.

This was posted by Kate Sullivan of SAFER in the comments section. I copied it here for easy access:

Hi - This is Kate of SAFER. My friend Katie has surprised me by posting on her blog - and I am very grateful! We don't have Paypal yet but if checks are promised I know how much I can put on a credit card on Monday at the auction. I am meeting the fellow in charge of the horses Sunday at 2pm to see what's what and get pictures.
News will be posted on my email list and on the website
We are calling this save "The Christmas Horses: Room at the Inn"
Hozzat for marketing ;-)
Thanks for caring and thank you to Katie for being a great Mom, a great friend and an Angel to horses.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Dear Santa: Please bring me my very own person for Christmas!"


Caleb, the 19-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, is still in search of a forever home. Caleb was sold at auction to a slaughter dealer in June 2008. A former stakes-winning racehorse (registered as "Mac Attack"), Caleb loves to learn and has a strong work ethic. He is a sound, athletic gentleman who loves trail riding. Caleb is learning elementary dressage and is a beautiful, uphill mover. He has schooled over low fences. He's an absolute gentleman on the ground, very easy to lead and handle. Caleb trailers well and is fairly calm in new places. He has had chiropractic and bodywork done. Best suited for an intermediate rider. He's located in Santa Rosa, California. For information on Caleb, contact Katie at


Monday, December 8, 2008

MythBusters Update --- OR --- Odie's 15 Minutes of Fame That Will Never Be...

So many people have asked that I thought it was fair to post it front and center: We received the sad news from the MythBusters producer that the ENTIRE horse myths episode was cut by the production department in Sydney, Australia.

Sadly, Odie will not be appearing on MythBusters! (Shhh....don't tell him!)

Happy Anniversary Argus: One Whole Year Of Heaven!

Today is December 8th, 2008. That means it's been a whole year since the shivering, filthy white horse came into my life. What an amazing year it has been. I thought about how far we've come the other night, when I stood in the barn aisleway, tending to Argus pigeon fever-ravaged chest. A thermometer stuck in one end, and a giant syringe stuck in the other, Argus stood, TIED, dozing while I plunged syringe after syringe into his chest, cleaning the big abscess with dilute betadine. Most horses won't stand for this, but Argus simply fell asleep, happy for the attention.

A year ago, Argus was wild, and terrified, and barely halter broke. He could not trot four steps without falling down. He shook violently, breaking out into a chilling sweat, whenever I walked him outside his paddock. His muscles were like soft bread dough. His knees shook all the time. He could not straighten his right leg. He was such a terrible mess.

One year ago, Argus stands in the corner of his paddock, a mere 24 hours after being removed from Hell. The woman in red is an animal communicator. "He misses his old home and his person," the communicator said ruefully, "and he's terrified of your neighbor's flag." Argus reported his mane to be intolerably itchy. We carefully cut it off minutes after this photo was taken. Despite is fear of us, he stood quietly while we hacked it off with scissors and brushed it out.

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Today, Argus is a happy, well adjusted horse who enjoys time out in pasture, a bucket of grain in his stall, and can be led all over our property. He's a saint on the ground, safe and kind. We are lucky to share our farm and lives with this wonderful friend:

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To celebrate the anniversary of Argus' liberation, I bring you wonderful news! The three remaining horses from Argus' former "home," Starmaker (age 22), Destiny (age 18) and Samanatha (age 12), were finally seized by Animal Control two weeks ago and are now safe and happy in CHANGE foster homes. This seizure is the culmination of months and months of work by Animal Control, the Sonoma County District Attorney's office, Dr. Miller and the Sonoma CHANGE Program volunteers and board members. It was truly a group effort, and it was not without its share of nail-biting drama!

After Argus' former owner, Patricia Tremaine, was convicted of two counts of felony animal cruelty in September, she was ordered to give up her remaining horses. Instead, she suddenly moved them off her property, telling Animal Control she had given them away. Those of us involved in this case were devastated. How could this happen??? Several CHANGE board members did some digging and discovered that Ms. Tremaine had attempted to fool the courts and Animal Control, saying she'd given the horses away when in fact she'd kept them and had them hidden at a nearby ranch. Kudos to the amazing CHANGE folks for sticking to their guns and making sure justice was served for the three horses!

Destiny and Samantha are looking for adoptive homes, and they are amazing horses! Destiny is a petite (15.1 hand) grey Trakehner-TB cross (a Tempelritter daughter for those Trakehner folks) who has been used as a lesson horse. She is broke, sweet, gentle and safe and should be sound once her hoof rehab is done.

Samantha is a GORGEOUS 17 hand bay Anglo-Arab mare. She is sound and an incredible mover. She has very little training and is not broke to ride. She has not even had her feet handled much, but she is coming around. Samantha is a project horse.

Stay tuned for Starmaker's rags-to-riches story. It's about as heartwarming as adoption stories come. He went to his new home on Saturday and is settling in nicely in his beautiful new barn. Starmaker's new family will do nothing but dote on him and make the remainder of his life wonderful. Sadly, Starmaker has cancer.

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Although the skies were, for the most part, sunny and mild, strange clouds seemed to loom silently over Watermark Farm throughout much of November. The sudden and shocking loss of our old horse friend Deema dealt a flattening blow to my normally happy family of horses and humans. It served to remind all of us, yet again, to savor all the precious moments of life, big or small, grand or meaningless.

I could not convey this to Ginger, Deema's grieving Shetland wife, who stumbled around in a daze for two solid weeks. To Ginger, my meaning-of-life observations meant nothing. To her, all had been lost on that awful Sunday evening that Deema died. Feed, comfort and companionship were meaningless. She was incredibly despondent. An animal communicator informed me that that Ginger was shocked and grieving terribly. I held the tiny Shetland pony often, weeping quietly with her as we comforted each other in the stall. Ginger, a tiny angel who has patiently carried many a young rider, looked so sad.

Also grieving was the third horse who roamed the yard with Ginger and Deema, a crippled old mare named Angel. Angel was rescued from a feedlot with her foal, both of them starving and filled with parasites. She has lived a happy existence since here at our farm.

Two weeks after Deema's death, the two old mares seem to have made sense of their sadness. They have become friends and are now grazing (and napping) together. Both are still subdued, but I hope that with time, they will find more meaning in the company of one another. Here, on a cold morning, Ginger and Angel nap together:

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The cloud of November seemed to settle on Argus. Sick with pigeon fever, Argus moped around, fighting fevers that occasionally zoomed to 105 degrees. I hovered around him, wishing desperately to give him relief. Finally, the abscess ready to lance, Dr. Miller came for a visit. After having his huge chest lanced, Argus felt some relief! I am pleased to say that he is now well on the road to recovery.

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Finally, so as not to leave you on a depressing note, here are some photos from a Pony Club trail ride. Shelby rode Odie the mule. It was a beautiful fall day here in the wine country of Northern California. Enjoy!

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