Category Archives: Horses

The Story of Dancer

The night before my beloved horse Dancer was scheduled to be euthanized, I came home to a deep freeze that had been mysteriously unplugged.  Normally this would have sent me into a panic or at least given me a reason to go on a twitter rant for a few ranging “how the hell did this happen!” tweets.  Instead, I was thankful to have something I could follow a logical path and methodically fix.  Piece by piece, I picked the warm and soggy food out and placed it into garbage bags.  Scoop by scoop, I took out the liquefied lemon and cherry juice that had leaked out of the bags and dumped it down the drain.  Wipe by wipe I cleaned out the remnants of food littering the bottom and sanitized the inside.  But when I was done, there was no feeling of accomplishment. Instead the sadness crept back in.  Logic had helped me to clean the freezer but there was no logic that would help me heal my heart.


I got Dancer when I was 25 years old, newly married and newly owner of 5 acres on the side of a hill. While I knew when I married Steve that kids were in his “marriage contract”, he knew that a horse was in mine.  We were property rich but trying to scrimp and save to build our house so cash poor.  When my friend mentioned that her friend had a horse for sale I mentioned it to my parents.  My mom, a horse lover herself, told me she would buy it for me.  How lucky could I be?  When I rode him, I was hooked.  Dancer was a Peruvian Paso and they are one of the smoothest rides out there.  It’s like sitting on a flying carpet.

Of course, being the ignorant 1st time horse owner I was, I didn’t think to ask questions when the horse I rode was dripping with sweat even though it was in the middle of winter.  When I got him home, I quickly found out that this horse didn’t want to be caught for his life, hated to have his foot picked up, and was hugely barn/herd sour.  BUT, his sweetness couldn’t be denied.  He loved to be loved on and loved to be with people.  Up until the day he passed, when the family wasn’t home, I would go down and just sit with him in the pasture.  He would hang his head by me with his eyes half closed and we would just breath.

Over the next few years he and I would create a huge bond.  We never did end up doing a ton of riding but when we did it was wonderful (after we worked through the barn/herd bound issue).  Then he went a little lame…  After some off and on healing/not healing, he was diagnosed with DSLD (Digital Suspensory Ligament Disease), a hereditary disease common in Peruvians (and other breeds).  I was devastated.  No more riding and a possible short time frame before it would get too bad for him to go on.  I stopped riding, used the recommended supplements, changed his diet, and generally allowed him to be a happy pasture potato. That was 10 years ago.

At the ripe age of 22, he started to once again seem stiff and not move as much as before.  Even with joint supplements, slowly over the next few years, his quality of life decreased as the DSLD got worse.  Finally, a few weeks ago he dislocated his pastern bone and despite my best efforts to help him, I knew he would never get better.  This is where the logic of medical options did not help me and only my heart knew what to do.  This is the responsibility we take on as animal caretakers as hard as it is on our hearts.

Dancer was my companion for 14 years.  He was my friend and my confidant in a way only he could be.  I can only hope that I gave him the life he deserved and the pain free ending he needed.

My view on so many lovely evenings



Filed under Horses, Musing of Life

My little cowgirl

Rose came with me this morning to help feed the horses their breakfast.   This meant, of course, that the chore that usually takes 5 minutes took 15.  Being the forward looking mommy that I am however, I try to encourage a behavior of helping whenever I can (sorry Rose, you still can’t help stir the food cooking on the stove).  Helping with the horses has an added benefit to fostering her love of the tall fuzzy equines.  hehe.
Still, it has only been the last few months that I have felt confident in letting Rose walk beside me when I’m feeding as the horses who, while respectful of our space, can get a little worked up when food is involved.  This was a real heart in the mouth step in her toddlerhood.
In the morning, I spread the hay in piles all over the paddock to encourage the boys to wander and get some exercise.  This morning, the horses got both much smaller piles (when Rose could only grab a handful) and about half a flake (once I put the hay down to open a gate and she grabbed all that was left).  Rose then wandered about pointing out where she left the hay and chattering to the horses to make sure they knew where to go next.  Love it!
“Sorry Mommy, no time for pictures.  I have work to do!”
“I did it!  Do I have any hay on me Mommy?”
Looking at a happy horse and a job well done.

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Filed under Horses, Rose, The Ranch

A thank you to my daughter.

My dearest Rose,

Thank you so much for showing me why I work so hard every week day.  Why I drag myself out of bed at 5am every weekday morning, drop you off at day care at a time most people’s alarm goes off (thank you Jenny for letting me drop her off so early!), drive to work in the dark, work my buns off for 9 hours (plus lunch), get home after 6pm and see you for only two hours before its time to tuck you in bed.

This weekend we had an epic time on the property.  We pet horses, picked flowers, watched hawks soar in the sky, and laughed as lady bugs crawled across our hands.  We lay under the an oak tree and watched the leaves blowing in the breeze.  We went on a ‘field trip’ through the bushes and found hidden places where only the bunnies roam.  We helped your daddy to pick up sticks in the pasture to put on the burn pile that you made sure we understood was ‘hot’.  You helped me feed the horses and I watched as you told Ranger ‘neigh, neigh, neigh!’ with a finger pointing at his feed bucket that you just put down to tell him just where his dinner was.  You protested with a loud “NO” whenever I dared to suggest that we go back inside. You spent an hour after Sunday night dinner with your grandma, wandering through grass as tall as you are, picking me flowers and showing her everything that is wonderful in nature.

Thank you again for let me know that you appreciated what I do so that you can live where you do.  I do it for me, I do it for your daddy but most of all, I do it for you.

The simple joy of being outside in nature.


Looking for sticks for daddy with mommy’s gloves.
Country strollers.


Filed under Horses, parenthood, Rose, The Ranch, working mom

Sunday Morning

My dearest Rose,

After such a fabulous Saturday afternoon I didn’t think it could get much better.  Then you proved me wrong on Sunday morning by making scooping horse poop fun.  You heard me, scooping poop was fun!  Crazy right?

You contently snuggled on my back in the Ergo (love love love love that thing!) for over an hour.  You pointed at the horses, saying “hu hu” with giggles and smiles.  You reached out with grasping hands to ‘help’ me rake, using all the strength in your little arms to manipulate the handle.   When set free to roam, you investigated every rock, twig and grass clump around.

Then you discovered the mower.  Oh, the mower.  The wonderfully, awesome mower.  You could turn the wheel and honk the horn (who’s sound mysteriously came from Mommy’s direction).

You kicked back and relaxed while you Daddy worked.
And after a long day’s work, you came inside for a well deserved snuggle with your Daddy.
I love you my darling.  You make me smile a million smiles every day.

Love and Kisses,
Your Mommy

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Filed under Horses, Rose, The Ranch

A Saturday alone.

This Saturday Steve was off on a boyscout thing and my mom took Rose for the morning so I had some time to myself.    A whole morning.  To MYSELF.  Oh what is a girl to do?  I’ll tell you what, she is going to read a fluff book, surf the net, clean the kitchen, 
weed her garden (look at all the garlic coming up around the anti gopher thingy), 


give scratchies to her horse (isn’t he the cutest guy EVER?),


 and sit in the warm sun while watching the birds float by the in breeze while marveling that I LIVE HERE.



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Filed under Horses, The Ranch, working mom

What spring brings to the country.

Spring has finally sprung here at Four Lease Ranch. It’s been raining so long that the weeds, especially the darned Star Thistle, are as tall as me. Let the weedeating begin!

When I went down this weekend to trim horse hooves, I found one definite benefit to all the rain. Their hooves were still nice and soft which made it possible to use the nippers, an action that will be impossible later in the summer. This was wonderful because I was a weee bit behind in the trimming and Dancer’s hooves were overly long. (Bad horsey mom!) You can see in the picture below how much I had to trim off one of his fronts. The long wet weather combined with moderate temperatures have brought on the flies with a vengeance! Whenever I am down with the horses I feel like I am being dive bombed by hundreds of miniature aircraft. I have put out fly traps galore but this is still what I come down to in the morning. Poor sweetie.
Luckily for Dancer, they make these. He looks a bit like a alien with it on but always comes right up to me in the morning and lowers his head for me.
Along with the (finally) warming sunshine comes the annual planting of the garden. This year we have planted tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, butternut squash, cantaloupe, corn, strawberries, cilantro, basil, parsley, and chives. We have some rather voracious gophers in the garden right now so I have my fingers crossed that everything survives. If anyone knows of any good ways to get ride of gophers that doesn’t include poison let me know. Please!
The sage plant from last year is doing well. It’s leaves opening and embracing the spring.
Three plots for basil, cilantro and chives. Note the darned weeds that I have already pulled/weedeated twice. Grrrrr!
Tomatoes. I planted a number of them in underground cages so hopefully they can survive the gophers.

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Filed under Gardening, Horses, Spring, The Ranch

An Outing aka Making The Horses Happy

Last weekend the weather was beautiful so we headed down to the horses to let them out in the tall grass by the barn.

First a snack.
Two very happy horses.
I put a slice of apple in a mesh feeder for Rose.  We found out later I hadn’t removed a plastic insert that made it really hard for her to get any apple out.  Oops.  I think her frustration at the lack of apple shows in this picture.  🙂  She later dropped it in a pile of manure.  I decided the 5 second rule didn’t apply with manure.  haha. 
We also scooped a bunch of manure.
Then we headed back up to the house.
Daddy piggy back rides are the best!

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Filed under Fatherhood, Horses, Motherhood, The Ranch

Life on the ‘Ranch’

Steve and I live on 5 acres out in the rural area of Northern California.  Our little ‘ranch’ doesn’t have cows, chickens or pigs like standard ranches but we do have two really cute horses and lots of wild turkeys, deer and rabbits.  Located on the side of a hill we have a stunning view of the valley.  On a winter morning the fog rolls in and hangs around the base of the hillside.


On this property we have two very cute horses.  One is a Peruvian Paso named Pedazo de Oro or Dancer for short.  I have owned him since the first year we had the property.  He is the sweetest most wonderful horse who brightens my day just be giving me his patented come scratch me look.

“Aren’t I cute?”

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Steve’s horse is a Missouri Fox Trotter named Ranger.  Rangers not as snuggly as as Dancer but his intelligence and curious personality makes him a joy to be around.

Because no post would be complete without pictures of Rose….   Since Rose came around we haven’t had the time to do as much work on the property as we would like.  However, on a beautiful day like today we couldn’t pass the opportunity to do the most important thing that needs to be done on horse property.  Scoop poop.  So we packed up Rose into her Bjorn and showed her what her chore are going to be once she is a little older.  She loved being out there.  She looked around and giggled and talked to the horses the whole time.
“Ummm, I don’t think so Mom.  That looks like WORK!”

Surveying her domain.

She was fascinated by the feel and look of the green grass and brown dirt.  I bet she wondered what it tasted like too.  🙂

Dancer came over for scratchies and Rose was happy to oblige.


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Filed under Horses, The Ranch