Posted by: Terri | July 20, 2015

Poco – a GREAT Horse

Another one has passed. Poco. He was a GREAT horse!! I was volunteering at the Therapeutic Riding Center when I met him and became his “Barn Buddy” and fell in love. I just had to have him after he retired. Then I had to quit my volunteer job because I saw how that happened. Poco was my 3rd horse. And I needed a 3rd horse like a hole in my head. Which is why Poco was officially Julie’s horse. 🙂 She even convinced herself to pay for him for a few months! LOL  (ps THANK YOU)
Moving in

Born 36 years ago at a ranch, he started out as a ranch horse. He then moved into police work, then trail riding in the mountains, then the therapeutic riding center then with me. He must have had good care at all of those places because he was a good natured guy. He didn’t question your motives.

At first with 2 other horse he got to be all retired, all the time. I’d go to the farm, work with Rasta and Princess, then give him a cookie on the way out the door. After he outlived the other two I let him know he was stuck with my attention full time. He didn’t like fuss, but we enjoyed each other’s company. We’d go for long walks. Or he’d graze somewhere and I’d take a nap nearby. Just this last winter I knew I wanted a good sleep and was afraid he might wander without me hearing him. The round pen had good grass so we went there. Sure enough I fell sound asleep. The after a bit, I “felt” someone gently wake me up. It was him. He hadn’t touched me. He was just at my feet staring. “time to go”

He didn’t have a lot of teeth but he liked to graze. There was a good spot down the driveway he liked in particular. I usually had him off lead and we’d just walk down there together after a groom. On more than one occasion, he’d just decide to go towards the grazing first. I remember one time that he headed down the drive trotting just as pretty as you please. I knew where he was going and wasn’t worried, but followed anyway to catch this naughty boy and he decided to run for it. Head up, tail up, he took off. All the horses along the road came running out to cheer him on!! Go Poco Go!! Sure enough he went to the grassy spot and took his bows.

In 2012 I got a call from about a little 9 year old girl who was very horse crazy and would it be ok for her to see Mr. Poco? Boy would it!
He loved Miss Eliza as you can see in these photos. He let her learn all her horse stuff on him. DSCN0368

DSCN0373 Parts of a horse? Check. How to put on a halter. Check. Keep an eye on all the other horses around as you gather the one you want. Check. How to groom, how to look for discomfort, or happiness. What they eat. What they eat when they lose their teeth. How to grow old gracefully without losing your inner child. How to look at the world through the ears of a horse. IMG_0514They had fun and I know she brightened his last years and I am truly grateful to have gained this wonderful young lady (and her family) who can name every horse within a 15 miles radius, as a friend. She will be a great horsewoman some day and I look forward to her help as we shop.
She got this Breyer horse recently because he looks just like Poco. !
Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 5.51.12 PM Eliza’s sister Ashley came out a time or two to visit. Sadly hay fever precludes a ton of horse visiting for her. I think she would have taken to it too.FullSizeRender

Two more stories and I’ll go to sleep. One was from the day before his friend Rasta passed. (you can read about him here) I had gone out to visit, but had taken Poco for a walk first. I was in a hurry and wanted to go back and spend each second I could with Rasta that night. But each time I started to head back, Poco would block me. I finally asked “what the hell?” and I swear I heard this…”You have to stop being so maudlin before we go back. You know Rasta hates that.” I don’t think I’ve ever used the word ‘maudlin’ in my life which is why I feel pretty comfortable saying it was Poco not me. Sure enough, once I got all my tears out of my system, then he let me go back. And Rasta and I had the sweetest last night together. Thanks Poco.
The second was just recently. Eliza and I had taken Poco for a walk and it was hot. I insisted we head on up this hill at the end of the drive and so off we went. To keep the enthusiasm up, we raced to the top. Last week I took the same walk with Poco sans Eliza. He was off his lead rope just following along like normal. We got to that spot and he took off racing to the top!! I’d get closer and that stinker were run faster. We whooped it up there, then he raced me back down the hill. He had a good sense of fun. Even playing with Max the dog. He was always up for a game. And will be missed by many both human and not. IMG_0688

Bonus shot because I love these photos. Once in a while I’d get a special photo from the top of the house above the horses from his friend Conrad. I loved these and just thought I’d share. Poco, that tough old stoic soul is without a blanket!IMG_20150222_145132

Thanks to Hank and Debbie Thuener who have created a wonderful, wonderful haven for our horses. They haven’t seen the last of me!!

pps – I forgot about Hattie!! I will need to dig up photos and will, but Poco was Hattie’s first horse. She has officially upgraded to saddle on grandpa’s big horse!Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 8.02.18 AM

Posted by: Terri | February 18, 2014

Northern Europeans and Marius

crossposted at Ruminants

This was an well written column on life and death for Northern Europeans as it regards Marius the giraffe. (ht Maggie’s Farm) After discussing all the reasons why Marius couldn’t have any other alternative than death the author comes to this:

What we are dealing with here, to put it briefly, is people who are certain that they are noble and good. They believe in the cycle of life. They believe in quality of life. They just don’t happen to believe in the individual life. In fact, they view the individual life as getting in the way of things they value more – breeding programs, the ecosystem, and so on. They regard people who focus on the individual life as childlike sentimentalists who don’t grasp that every individual life is only part of a larger design, a “bigger picture,” and should be extinguished the moment it becomes burdensome or inconvenient. I don’t think it’s misguided to suggest that there exists a certain continuity between this way of thinking and that which made possible the horrors of the Final Solution. It is a barbaric way of thinking – and yet in the cultural-elite circles in northern Europe it is considered enlightened and humane. It’s “scientific.” It’s unsentimental. It’s free of American – of Disney-ish – sappiness.

To be sure, Holst would probably protest that he does care about the individual life. After all, he killed Marius partly because he didn’t want him to live a less than ideal life. Better to die than experience renal problems or other side effects. Better to die than endure “lesser standards of welfare.” Better to die, you see, than not experience parenthood. Better to die than be without the company of other giraffes.

Leading them to a culture of euthanasia for children etc.

This somewhat relates to the post the other day about carriage horses too. DeBlasio, et al, have determined that these carriage horses are not living an ideal horse life (seriously, how many horses do?) and so have decided they should all be fired from their jobs and……, what do people do with horses that are not useful? Yes, they euthanize. Apparently tis better to be dead than startled by a bicyclist in Progressive terms.

In poetic terms (for Marius), tis better to be dead than not bred.

What’s interesting to me, is that these Northern Europeans are also some of the most atheistic people in the world. Once dead, you’re dead in their mind. It’s not even like you get to go to a better place.
What is this about? Per the author:

namely, a well-nigh fetishistic preoccupation with the quality of life and the cycle of life that coexists, perversely, with a chillingly insufficient sense of the value – the preciousness – of the individual life (and, as a corollary, of the sacredness of the remains of the dead). Whatever name you want to give to this unsettling mentality, there is unquestionably more and more of it going around, with northern Europe quite clearly in the vanguard – although, as is the case with so much else that afflicts Europe these days, America is hardly immune to its ravages.

What that doesn’t get into however is that “quality of life” bit. A quality of life does not mean no suffering or struggle. It doesn’t mean getting everything you want or even what you need. Life is different for each of us. My difficulties with zoos is that they make all the choices for the animals and discard those that don’t fit into their utopian scene. Humans pay to “watch” and “learn”. I call it bull because the whole thing is orquestrated at the expense of the individuals involved.
Death will come to each of us. And death is not horrible, but neither is life. Most of us – including Marius – prefer to live. We’ll adjust to our circumstances and do our best to make them work for us. Marius was a slave to the system and apparently so are the sick in Northern Europe as they live under the pressure of eh – go ahead and die since you’ll be a burden to the rest of us.

We’re heading down that path here too as universal health care becomes the reality. Your sickness will be paid for with my money. How long until I resent that? Apparently in less than a lifetime based on real world examples.

Posted by: Terri | May 17, 2013

A Good Death

Rasta-my 2nd horse.  My first horse was a lesson horse, a well trained mare named Princess.  Chosen.  But Rasta, Rasta was a gift.  When I was ready to learn, Rasta arrived.  He wasn’t very socialized, but over time we managed to grow close.  He started showing symptoms of that stupid disease dsld/espa about 3 years ago so we quit riding.  He held his own so well, I figured he’d be around for years.  Two weeks ago he tweaked his “good” leg.  We worked on it, but it was time to go. It was a beautiful day. grazing I had given myself time.  I had given him time.  I had confirmed with him that he was ready.  I spent my weekend with him, and two evenings this week.  Last night we were both in sync.  Connected.  It was nice.  Today I took off work to spend more time just sitting with him. A storm arrived with the vet so that kept the whole process at a slower, more comfortable pace as we awaited the front.  She could just observe during that time.  Then a little later after the for sure, for sure final decision was made, the rain came down so we could wait a bit for it  to pass through.  Then the sun came out again.  It was a good day to die and Rasta handled it like the champion he was. rastaeye He was a great horse.  He guarded the entire 80 acres of farm always knowing what was going on in every section.  He didn’t like being futzed with, but he always liked mechanical stuff.  He was interested in how things worked.  The manure spreader and the float valves fascinated him.  He thought they were cool.  He liked things neat and he loved fresh water.  (a shout out to the farm who takes great care of that stuff!) He learned to “kiss” years ago and always had a kiss for me even on days when he had no interest in being caught to go do something.  He’d just stretch his neck out a little farther for that kiss lest he get too close.  rasta Rasta also was a nice horse.  He was in charge of his field, but he was not a field marshall.  He led quietly and let Booger harass him to no end until he’d finally have enough.  One little “HEY” out of him and that would be that.  Poco, my old quarterhorse on senior feed needs to be separated into a pen two or three times a day to eat.  The other 3 have their “places” during this time and everyone knew where these places were.  Rasta would often get slightly out of place just to give Poco an excuse to lay down the law and feel powerful.  It was wonderful.  Truly. I will miss him.  I was blessed to have him in my life, I was blessed with these last few weeks with him and I was blessed with how beautifully he left this world today.  Rasta and I UPDATE: I can’t believe I forgot his song.  Princess (see below) had her song by Wylie and the Wild West “On a Good One”.  Rasta’s song is Manolito because Rasta had heart and the beat of this song is his.

Posted by: Terri | January 30, 2013


We all know how important socialization is in the life of our dogs. Now they are finding out just how socialization differs between dogs and wolves.

Dogs and wolves share so many characteristics, but they are, in the end very different. Why?

 Click through here to see some of the latest research.

Posted by: Terri | November 15, 2011


OMG I love this dog! He needed to move on tonight though and I have a stomach ache. Tap and his sister Buffy came to live me while their owner worked in Iraq. I fell in love with them both, but Tap stole my whole heart. When he left to go live with his dad well,……. lets just say it was rough on me. I like to think it was rough on him too. We needed to live next door to each other but life doesn’t always work the way we need it to does it?

Let’s talk Tap. Sweet, sweet dog. Always looking to be his best and make you happy. He was joyous and thoughtful. His sister is such a personality I think sometimes Tap felt lost in it but he was always there being her rock. He’d keep an eye on her and support her in ways that let her shine fully. By doing this he himself shone. He was like the manager behind the famous actress who really got her where she is. Buffy going to be a sad, sad girl.

As is his dad. I’m so sorry. Again, we should live next door to each other.

I will never forget the first time I let Tap off leash without his dad around. The beautiful stretched out run of a shepherd/lab as fast and as big as he could go with a beautiful arc way past where I thought I was going to lose him. He turned and came circling right on back.

At 85 lbs he was a complete cuddle bunny crawling as close as he could get. Sometimes you’d be watching tv or something and just feel love emanating from somewhere and you could look and there was Tap enjoying just thinking about being near you. His dad shared a story about him last week, putting a paw on his arm. He (his dad) felt that Tap was saying, “thanks for taking such good care of me”. Sadly it was good care but needed to end today. And I know his dad made the right decision for Tap because he would never make a wrong one. His dad loves him dearly. And oh my goodness did Tap love his dad. He used to come to Colorado during his leave. One time myself and the dogs met him in downtown Denver. Buffy saw her dad and was happy. Tap didn’t notice until dad was right there. OH MY Goodness!!! The dog screaming that could be heard was amazing. I wish I had taken some video of that. He could scream with such joy!!

I keep seeing him. Running, panting, waiting, cuddling, hiking.

Tap and Buffy lived with me for a year and a half. I had to keep a “wall” between us so that I could do that temporary job. As that time passed it became more and more impossible especially with Tap. Sheesh, this is rough and this dang blog is becoming the go to place to spew when an animal breaks my heart. Tap has done it to me again.

After my own dog Merlin died I liked to think of him running through a field of flowers so I add this flower photo of Tap. I know you’re in heaven. I don’t know what’s there, but since you are there, I suspect all your favorites including unlimited kibble, piles of snow, your grandpa, Merlin, and tons of love. You will be sorely missed Tap. Please drop in and visit whenever you can. I love you.

Posted by: Terri | August 12, 2011

Wildlife Viewing

We humans don’t always recognize what a threat we are to wildlife. In a study done with macaques at a National Park in Morocco, scientists looked for specific evidence of stress these animals felt from humans. They looked at both obvious signs of nerves and physiological signs of stress. They studied how the macaques reacted in three different situations: during feeding, during normal human tourist behavior such as taking photos and during aggressive human behavior such as someone throwing something at the macaques.

Posted by: Terri | May 15, 2011


They see above their heads.

Some things are just cool.

Unlike humans, bees have a dorsal visual field that enables them to avoid obstacles above their heads. Until now, it was not known whether this helped them to control their flight speed. Recent research by biorobotics specialists at the Institut des sciences du mouvement (CNRS / Université de la Méditerranée) confirms that it does. Bees have been shown to adjust their speed according to obstacle proximity, whether such obstacles are in the horizontal or vertical plane. They achieve this through perceived optic flow, especially from overhead.

Posted by: Terri | April 6, 2011

Goodbye Mrs. Princess

Goodbye Mrs. Princess.
My Princess. I’ll never forget the day I first met her. After a trip to Australia with my sister where I convinced her to go horseback riding – I decided that was what I wanted to do. When I returned home, the city’s recreation department offered horseback riding lessons! Excellent. I signed up. The first day the instructor mentioned that within 6 months 60% of us would have a horse. I knew I was not one of those people. Hah!

6 months later, I drove into the farm and saw a horse and her foal standing in a pen. I thought to myself, “Self – if you ever get a horse, get one that color.” Then as I went in for my lesson the instructor pulled me aside and said, “I have just the horse for you!” and she directed me out to that mare with that right color.

She picked me. I know that. She trained me. I know that too. I would go out to the farm and just stare at her in her pen and hope she’d look my way after I first got her. It was amazing to be a horse owner!! I loved it. It took a while to be comfortable with it, but I remember once being told that “Princess can’t do that” (get into a canter from a standstill). Oh really? Princess had as big a stubborn streak as I do and by George, we did it!

Princess was definitely a challenge. If I didn’t do things right, she’d tell me. We fought a lot. Now, when I’m crying, I don’t remember why. She’d want to go home and I’d want to go forward. She’d want to run from mosquitos and I’d want a quiet horse. She’d suggest I was looking at her wrong and I just wanted to pet her. We also got along great. She could be a cuddle bunny of a horse and Friendship training really brought that out in her. It was hard to trust a “kiss” from her knowing that she had a past that included nipping. But just three days ago after having been gone a whole week I went out to the farm. I had missed her and suggested a little ride. She let me hug on her neck as we cruised down the driveway. It felt great. She had missed me too.

A few years ago one of her old owners who had grown up on her found us. She came out to visit and Princess definitely delighted in seeing her. Yet Princess kept looking at me. “I don’t have to leave, right?” She was happy at Shady Lawn Farm with her boyfriend Rasta. I remember when I first moved her to the farm. She had spent her time in a small paddock with 10 other mares. At night she’d go into a stall. I wasn’t real sure how life would work with 5 acres to roam and just a 3 sided shed for shelter. Ooh – she loved life this new way. I don’t believe I ever saw her happy until she moved to Shady Lawn. She had been born in Kentucky so hopefully she got some time on blue-grass, but by the time I came along she hadn’t known the freedom of pasture. I cannot picture having a horse any other way now.

Oh boy did Princess love Rasta. Sometimes he found her annoying when she’d be in heat and would not leave him alone. She liked to lean into his side and just touch him. I wonder if I missed a sign of illness. She hadn’t been in heat in quite a while. When she started really crashing tonight she whinnied her goodbyes to Rasta. That sound will remain in my ears forever.

You always wonder with your pets. Did I do all I could for them? Did I exercise her enough? Was she happy with our relationship? Tonight, should I have been able to tell it was time earlier? Should I have attempted to get her in the trailer? Should I have called the doctor earlier? I hope Mrs. Princess knows how much I owe her and while I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know all the things, I hope she knows how much she was loved. Cripes, even those she wasn’t all that fond of had a very soft spot in their heart for Mrs. Princess.

She was all character all the time. A one of a kind gem who will be terribly missed.
I love you Princess. Rest in Peace.

Sweet as pie:

But with her moments too!:

UPDATE: I didn’t mention what a good horse Princess could be. For a few years (Post Carol/pre fly quarantine) she was the go to solid horse of the ranch. That’s why this is her song.

Posted by: Terri | February 28, 2011

Dominance Theory

Behavioral Training

This link is to a page of position statements put out by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. The one on dominance has a bad link, but might be better by the time you read this. It is a position statement on the use of dominance theory to modify behavior in pets. In basic terms it says “quit listening to those people on TV who need to prove in one hour that they can modify your pet’s behavior for the better”!

The paper actually says a lot more than that and is well worth your time to read.

It discusses the difference between dominance, which sets up a relationship that will need to be continually retested, and/or a relationship that can increase aggressive behaviors due to fear issues, and leadership, which sets up a relationship of willing partners.

The paper discusses how dominance/submission might work in the animal kingdom. One animal may be “dominant” or alpha, but when that animal’s back is turned a lower ranking animal will do whatever he/she wants or needs to do. Their example included a herd of cattle. The alpha bull will not allow the beta bulls a chance to mate. However, when alpha is out of sight or far away, the subordinate animals will go ahead and mate. In other words, you may clearly be the alpha of your pack at home, but when your back is turned, the furniture is fair game.

This position statement is a fantastic new tool for animal communicators to keep close at hand. Often times we are asked about “bad” or inappropriate behaviors. There can be many reasons for such behaviors including medical, animals who take on their owners “stuff” (hear Mary Savage Tibbitts), or some event that happens when we’re not at home. But a common reason for inappropriate behavior is the positive reinforcement pets receive from us without us even being aware of what we are doing!

Examples are everywhere. Counter surfers will often end up with a treat of some sort that we accidentally left out just that one time. Jumpers can get closest to their loved one by getting nearest to their face. Leash pullers have more and longer access to interesting smells. And barkers eventually get someone to talk with them – even if it is in a loud voice!

It’s tricky because our pets (and our dogs especially) watch us so closely that we don’t even know what it is that they are learning from us. I go and visit my horses daily. Before I go I, use the restroom, check the lock on the front door, put on my boots, ask the dog about going outside, grab some carrots and a dog cookie, ask the dog to kennel up, leave the cookie and then leave. I no longer need to ask the dog to kennel up because he has learned all of these steps and goes to his kennel as he sees me move to lock the front door. And honestly I must use the sentence “I think I’ll go see the ponies now” a lot because when I say that, no matter when I say it, Axel goes to his kennel.

That is an example of how a dog will pay close attention to patterns. Horses will do the same. If every time you arrive to visit your horse you park, grab a halter, call your horse, put on the halter, walk him/her to the hitching post, groom, roundpen, then ride but your horse does not like to work in the round pen, it will not take long before your horse will no longer enjoy being groomed. Given more time he/she will quit coming when called or will walk away as you go to get a halter.

When we communicate with pets the two competing relationship patterns noted in the position statement can help us get to the gist of problems. Is the relationship one of dominance/submission? Is the pet owner giving out rewards for unwanted behavior without realizing it? And finally – how can the problem be solved?

Posted by: Terri | February 14, 2011


This country is spunky!

They will probably be passing laws to set up some “model” cities with free market reforms as a test to see how it will work there.

The germination of model cities for Honduras started in Honduras. The reason is not hard to discern. Reformers have spent years trying to liberalize the economy only to be thwarted by special interests.

As Mr. Sánchez, who also worked in the government of President Ricardo Maduro (2002-06), puts it: “For me, for a very long time, it has been obvious that with the current system, we are going nowhere.” The young lawyer says that almost a decade ago he began thinking about whether it would be possible to designate a small place where all the pro-market reforms would be law. He had no doubt that such a zone would grow fast and that the ideas behind it would spread.

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