Well, today was one of those days when you see how situations with horses can change in a heartbeat. A safe, calm situation can easily turn to a cluster in a second. Yesterday, Rocky spent the day with Buddy, the goat, and a good share of the day was also spent with Patches, one of our miniature horses. Rocky was nervous, although Patches mainly ignored him, but everything was fine and there was not much interaction.
Rocky, although he is only about 10 weeks old (approx.), is showing the attitude of a much older baby. He is demonstrating behavior we usually see in babies that are a good 4 - 6 weeks older. Like his daddy, Bubba, the well known and magnificent stallion, Rocky is one of a kind. He already thinks he should be the "king", and running his own band. He has attitude and then some, and it is a must that he is worked with every day and that he is not allowed any unsuitable behavior that is not immediately corrected. As we all know, one of the hardest things about raising an orphan, (besides the long hours and numerous worries that come along with just keeping them alive), is to make sure they learn the appropriate behaviors that their mom, dad and their numerous aunties in the herd would teach them. Misbehavior is not an option in the herd, as it could result in death and destruction. So babies are taught how to mind, and most of all to mind immediately when they are told to do something. This is often the difference between survival and not. We work with the babies most every day to make sure they know their "space boundaries", that appropriate behavior does not include rearing, chasing, nipping or kicking when they are interacting with humans. But nothing can replace what they learn from being with horses. So every foal we have spends time with the older horses once they are rehabbed and old enough.
So it is very important that these babies are integrated with horses to learn the basic behaviors. Rocky, due to his evolved state of mind, needs to be with real horses right now. He also needs simply to have someone to play with so he learns that although rearing and kicking and biting are acceptable play when he is with his own kind, that it is not acceptable behavior with humans.
On goes the story........... DaBubbles, who comes up to Rocky's belly (maybe), is the same age as Honey Bandit, (going on two years old in July). He was brought in to socialize with Rocky today. We spent several hours with them, watching to make sure that it was going well and no one would get hurt. DaBubbles chased Rocky around for awhile. It was actually quite surprising, as he was just calmly following Rocky, with no aggressive behavior or stances, but Rocky was scared as could be and ran from him as though DaBubbles was threatening him. After awhile Rocky seemed to realize that DaBubbles wasn't actually going to kick at him, or bite him or do anything else aggressive. So we went inside. Now this is when it is difficult not to play "mommy", and put away the mean little horsey that was scaring our "poor baby", even though the mean horse is barely two feet tall. But that is where you make the correct decision and know that if he is not around "real horses" and doesn't learn what he needs to know, that eventually someone will get hurt down the road. Whether it be a person that he accidentally hurts because he does not know the proper space boundaries and respect them, or whether he gets hurt because he does something to a person that was cute when he was tiny but is dangerous when he is a big horse, and the person goes crazy and hurts him because he did the wrong thing and inadvertently hurt the person.
Not too long after, I heard Rocky squealing in that "Mommy - I am scared for my life" voice. When you spend 24/7 with them in the beginning, you know the difference. Realizing right away that something was actually wrong, we raced outside. To my horror, I saw that Rocky was on the other side of the fence, in with Pete, Honey Bandit and Patches.
My first thought was disbelief. They were in a pen with no climb horse fence that is 4 feet high. Apparently - Rocky can jump! and do it well. Matt and I went about the task of separating him from the other three, and bringing him out. Well, we had Rocky racing back and forth, squealing as if he was going to die, and the other three caught up in the commotion. We ended up in a big cluster by the mini's stalls, and then all heck broke loose. Pete, the full size horse, started being more and more aggressive. We couldn't tell if he wanted to get to Rocky to "teach him a horsey lesson" or just to "get everyone else away from him". I was pretty sure he was more interested in getting everyone else away from Rocky, but couldn't be sure. Whatever his intention, when Matt stopped him from getting to Rocky, and gave him pressure to move off, he wheeled and kicked. ( I told him in a case like that, you make sure you are not in a position to be hurt, and we deal with what happens afterward.) But being the awesome husband and protector he is, he was thinking about Rocky or myself getting hurt, and didn't stop to think what would happen if a horse wasn't taught not to kick when he was young. He wasn't expecting him to kick in that situation because all of the horses he has been around would have just moved off, but you can never be sure, as was demonstrated today. It was one of those moments when your realize what is happening but don't have time to stop it. As soon as Matt lifted his arm to send him away, I turned and ducked as the horse whipped around, feet flying I had been watching to make sure that I had a way out, and it all happened so fast. Matt was simply afraid that Rocky and I were in danger and didn't think of the consequences, and certainly did not expect what happened. (After spending 8 years working around and with wild horses at a local sanctuary, I had seen first hand how easy it was to be in the wrong place when the horses were running around and in a frenzy. But if you haven't experienced a situation like we were in, it is not always easy to know exactly how to keep safe and accomplish what you are trying to do.)
In so many situations, it is clear where mistakes were made and where better decisions should be made. However, as humans, we often react differently during the situation than we would if we had time to plan everything out. So although Matt has a bruised leg, the lesson that was learned will not be forgotten. We all have that "save the baby" instinct within us, but once again, this shows how important it is and that we simply have to be safe first and foremost. As I have been told lately, if something bad happened to us because we made the wrong choice, who would be here to take care of our "kids" after the fact. So the lesson here is to always put human life and safety first. Everyone and everything turned out fine, (aside from Matt's bruise), but we could have had some serious consequences. A hoof to the head could mean the end.
We just wanted to share this with ya'll, as it really reminded us of just how fast things can change, and how much danger can be found in a horse's tiny, power packed hoof. From a quiet afternoon to a few minutes of adrenalin filled activity, all because Rocky jumped a single fence. (Rocky is doing fabulous and has not even a single scratch or bump from his little flight into the big corral.)
So we need to make sure that we are always safe, even in times of crisis! Looking back, it happened so fast and although we were staying pretty calm, it took so little to make it dangerous. Giving one moment of "pressure" to send a horse away, while not being in a safe position. Honestly, I know that we all have had those "moments" with our critters, but I would rather learn from what others share, more than from actually witnessing or experiencing it. (haha). So hopefully this will help someone else not make the same mistake........... Today, once again, we are thanking God for His blessings, and for keeping us safe, and for giving me such a great and loving hubby! And even though it's embarrassing when we goof up, we like to share the good and the bad, especially if it will keep somebody else from making that same mistake... :)
God bless ya'll and Stay Safe!
Hugs to ya'll,
Matt, P & the gang!
I just spoke to the sister of the owner of the mare in question that needs a home. According to Pam, the sister of the horse's owner who was bucked off and is being removed from life support today, this horse needs to live in a pasture, or be restarted with someone with a high amount of experience. She stated the horse is not safe to ride at this time.
The horse had been used as a cattle pony prior, but was exhibiting extreme ranges of behavior. She said sometimes she would appear sweet, and other times would buck and show extreme signs of agitation and be extremely difficult to handle.
Pam can be reached at 775-721-5768, but please only contact her if you are a serious re-home, as the family is going through a very difficult time with the loss of her sister.
Sounds like this horse could be a pasture pet or be adopted by someone who has high-level experience in training. We still want to find her a home, but it is utterly important that she go to the right person so no one else gets injured.
Our prayers go out to the family, and I would ask that everyone else add their prayers also. The family has suffered such a loss, and my heart goes out to them.
Thank you for any help you can provide with the rehoming of this mare.
Well, today is the day that the Rockster goes back to California. We are going shopping for groceries, as he has been "converted" to big boy "baby food" while I was with Mom. Shirley has created a perfect "menu" for him which is a combination of all sorts of things. But boy is he thriving on that. I learn something every day.
He is very very rambunctious. From everything I hear he is taking after his daddy. He had a sister, "Sally", that was separated from the herd by a ferocious lightening storm. She was "in" for about a week, and clearly demonstrated that she was still very wild and retaining all of her wild tendancies, as well as being perfectly healthy, and was a candidate for re-entry to the wild. She was one of the very very rare cases where reintroduction was the correct thing to do even after she had been picked up. Sally was an extremely rare case, and everything worked perfectly. She was returned to the wild, and paired up with a neighboring band. She could see her band, but she chose instead to go to Sentinel's band, and proceeded to kick each and every mare in the band. She finally paired up with the one remaining mare who had not rejected her. The fact that she kicked all the other mares after they weren't interested in "adopting" her was a perfect example of how easily she would survive on the range. She now has a beautiful baby and is a true example of "the strong survive".
Unfortunately for Rocky, he is not one of the cases where releasing him would have been okay. He was much younger than Sally, and many times if a foal that has been left behind for whatever reason is re-introduced to the band, they might accept him for a day and then either leave him again or kill him. We had an instance like that at a sanctuary I worked at. The foal was left behind, and when we brought him up to camp, his mom was out in the field and called him over. She let him stay with her, but didn't let him eat, and the next morning the mares started to kill him. We grabbed him of course, but he died later that day. So reintroduction is an extremely delicate thing. Many times it is as simple as the fact that once they need to be picked up, and their stamina and energy are down, reintroducing them might appear like it is working, but if they are weak, they may be left behind again where no one sees them and die a horrible death alone.
However, Rocky does seem to have his sister's spunk and tenacity. He would have been a fabulous stallion and he appears to be demonstrating his little "I am the boss" traits about 4-6 weeks earlier than most foals. We have to work with him every day as he is definitely one to challenge. He is an amazing little guy but he already thinks he should be the band stallion. This is where it is critical that he learns about "my space" and that good manners do not include bumping, pushing, nipping, kicking or rearing etc. with humans. He will be put in with DaBubbles or Patches when we get home so he can learn that he actually not the boss. Imagine his surprise when the little "dog size" miniature teaches him respect. It is much more comfortable now for this to happen as it is very unlikely that either one will get hurt.
I want to thank the folks in Nevada for helping out with some groceries and some fuel for Rocky. These babies cost a fortune to raise, and we are only able to do it by the grace of God and all you wonderful folks who make these things happen. (Hmmmm Maybe when Rocky grows up he could pull a wagon back and forth to Nevada when we get foals and we could eliminate fuel costs.) He will certainly be big and strong enough. Just kidding, but I wanted to thank each and every one who help these critters for all you do, and for allowing us to make sure that Honey Bandit and the other "permanent residents" of the rescue can have dinner every day.
Remember, you are always welcome to come and visit "your rescue" and all the critters that you have saved. We all love the visits. 530 474 5197 or 530 339 1458.
It's been awhile, seems like a year, but I know it has been more like 3-4 weeks. I am at Shirley's again, and last night I was reunited with Mr. Rocky. Yeah!!!!! He is just what my heart needed. Mom left us on Sunday, (for those of you who didn't hear), to be with my Dad up in heaven. She went peacefully; thankfully our prayers were answered. The day before I had totaled my sister's car (well, actually the man who rear ended me did), and messed up my neck and back. So all in all it has been a tough few weeks. But every time there is sadness, there are little bits of wondrousness (new word? haha). We spent some wonderful time with the family, and pretty much everyone got to tell Mom good by when she was still cognizant of the fact.
So life goes on, and week by week and month by month the tears will cease and the beautiful memories will sustain us. But I have to say that wrapping my arms around Honey Bandit and the gang when I got home, and them coming here and having Rocky run up to me was the best medicine in the world. In the 3+ weeks since I have seen him, he has grown tremendously. He is now "stocky Rocky", and precious beyond words. I am so glad that I didn't have even the slightest worry about being away from him as he was with his other Momma, Shirley. A special thank you to her, and lots of love, for taking care of him. I need to say thank you to Susan, (WWAR) & Tom, as they are bringing us a load of hay, so we will save on the transportation fees and are able to purchase some fresh hay out of Oregon. :)
Honey Bandit is shedding out in a very strange way. I couldn't figure it out until Matt reminded me that those marks coming through were his scars. It is amazing how far he has come, and he is just plain gorgeous. (Of course I can't possibly be prejudiced?) He is getting very dark, and it looks like his scars may show this season. He is truly the best example of what a mustang is. Courage, Faith, Strength, and the Will to Survive against all odds. When I get overwhelmed by pain and frustration, I look out the window and am reminded of what you can do with Faith and the willingness to never quit. He has overcome much, and although he is short on energy, he is so happy and his eyes are kind. There is not a mean bone in his body and he is living the good life with his "band". PTL that he is so strong, and I cannot help but give thanks every day that we are so blessed to share his life and that we have made so many wonderful friends along the way.
I have to say THANK YOU! for all the love, good wishes, warm thoughts and support, not only for my family, but for the horses during this time. I know that no matter how much we realize that death is part of life, and that it is time for someone to move on, it is still simply heartbreaking.
God bless ya'll! and hugs and kisses from Honey Bandit, Chilly Pepper, Rocky and the rest of the gang!
Just keepin' you updated until I can do a real one.
Sunday, I was in my sister's car sitting at a red light when I was rear ended by a truck doing about 30 mph (that is what the officer said). No breaks, no slowing down, just slammed into me and knocked me into the car in front of me. Needless to say, I had that "why me? aren't we going through enough?", for several hours . They took me to the hospital as I was not feeling the best ever. Was released later with a cervical collar, and "double whiplash" is what the doc said.
Spent the rest of the day and evening with mom and all the next day. I stayed overnight with mom in her room for the last 5 or 6 nights. My sister stayed most of those nights too, so we did spend a lot of time together. I think we sat with her 24 hours for close to 10 days, and she was on her 12th day with no food or water. No one could believe she was still here. I think maybe she was enjoying hearing her kids and family being around her. On Monday evening, mom passed peacefully, surrounded by loved ones. It was the best for her, but of course hard for those who are left behind.
So today I start my "therapy", and hopefully get my neck and back feeling better. After the service on Saturday, I actually get to head home. As much as I love coming back to the place I grew up, I cannot wait to get home, pick up Rocky and go see my guys and all the critters. Haven't ever been away from HB this long, or the others. Bet my boys grew a foot while I was gone. Shirley said that Rocky is growing like crazy. So grateful to her for taking care of our little man.
Thank you all of you who support what we do. It's baby time, and as soon as I get home we will be working like crazy on the permanent nursery. (I have to say though, I will probably have to just sit and point, but at least we will be able to get it closer to a finished "permanent nursery".
Thank you everyone who sent prayers for mom. Ya'll are awesome. My mom was at Easthaven in Yelm, Washington. The care they gave her was beyond phenomenal, and they were pretty awesome at taking care of us too. God bless all the people who took care of her.
A 'regular' update coming soon with pictures of our "big guy".
Just a quick note to let you know why I haven't done an update lately. Right now Rocky is in Nevada with "Momma Shirley". I received a phone call when we were over there that we were losing mom. So we have been sitting here with mom in her last few weeks/days/hours,? as the world outside continues on, unaware of the drama within. I am grateful for the last week, as my family and I have spent the last 10 days sitting by her side. We had a couple of days where she was aware and got to see her grandkids, kids, friends and family. The human body is amazing, as she has been without food or water for going on 11 days as of tonight. We are praying for a peaceful transition, but it is so hard, as ya'll know.
So I will be sending out a "real update" as soon as i can. For now, Rocky has been able to stay outside at Shirley's, and Matt is working on our nursery. Rocky is growing like crazy and we are planning on getting him into the "real nursery" asap after we get home. So there will be a few more weeks or days with diapeys, but I think he can pretty much reach everything I can, which does not bode well for anything staying safely out of his reach. I miss everyone so much, but am so grateful to God that in this time of need, each and every one is being met. I know he is safe with Shirley and that is a huge relief. I will be flying back to Nevada and taking him home when things are settled here.
Unfortunately, he cannot just "stay outside" at our house, as we see coyotes and the mountain lions around us. (Part of the plans are to get higher fencing, which will help discourage the coyotes, but that is a work in progress) As the horses get bigger, and can run to get away, they can stay outside. As long as they have room to run the chances of the big horses getting taken down are very slim. But the little guys all have to go inside. We will be figuring out who Rocky matches up with best, and then eventually they will have safe stalls for night time. But in the meantime, he is in the back temporary nursery until we get the permanent one usable.
We appreciate all your ongoing support as we settle in to the new place. The primary goal right now is just to get everything set up so we are ready when we get the calls for the foals and have a safe and appropriate place for them. I have to say I need the wambulance every time I drive by our old house, as the grass is growing and we had 8 acres for them to feed on. Unfortunately the new place doesn't haveany grazing, so we have to buy hay and feed year round. (Rocky was the only one who wanted to eat dirt and rocks - ha ha, and of course that won't work). But we are extremely grateful to have a place that we love and where we can continue to do what we do. One of the blessings of the new place, as many of you already know, is that the setting is unbelievably beautiful. We are close to the mountain, so we don't see the heat. It is like living in a great big campground. So don't forget to bring your grandkids, friends and family and come on up and visit (after I get back :)). It is a perfect getaway from the heat of the city and the noise. So come and see "your critters at your rescue" and spend a day communing with nature. Let us know ahead of time and we will throw some grub on the bbq and make it a day! Call us at 530 474 5197 or 530 339 1458.
God bless ya'll and give your mom's a big hug. I know this is part of life, but it sure is one of the harder parts. I can't wait to get home with my boys and give all the critters hugs and kisses.
hugs to ya'll