Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!


That’s the advice, an idiom stemming from a truth.  The health and age of a horse  generally determined by teeth and hoof condition, though there are other indicators of both.

I’ll be looking a gift horse in the mouth today.  I’m not looking forward to it.

Amadeus, nearly four-year old gelding, isn’t eating anything except fine particles of hay.  He’s having difficulty walking and is generally depressed.  When he does eat, he quids, which means he chews the hay into a ball and spits it out. All of his feet are hot.  I think I’m dealing with two or three separate problems.

Close little herd.

Close little herd.

I took this photo in June of this year, and that’s Amadeus in the center.  You can see how mistreated my equine are. The hoops are for them – when we play together, I toss the hoops over their heads, on to their necks.  Eventually,  Amadeus and Starlight get too close and the game is over.  Getting closer to the treats is more fun, which are in my pocket and they know it.

The following shows Amadeus playing with his ball and feeling fine.


The hot feet could be from infected heel bulbs, which are at the back of the hoof and are swollen.  We’ve made “shoes” for him, cut from a gardening foam kneeling pad and wrapped around his hoof with Gorilla tape.  I soaked his feet in epsom salts last night, for a good cleaning, first.  All three equine are getting petroleum jelly rubbed on the heels and frogs.

We have mud here, and it’s higher than their hock bones.  There’s bacteria present in soil, no doubt and taking a toll on their hooves, especially the soles frog and heel.  For now, they’re relegated to the paddock, where the mares get irritable and pushy.  It’s the driest place I have for them.

Yesterday, I wrapped Amadeus and Starlight in thick plastic and taped it tightly, then let them out into the larger area, where you see them playing last July, featured in the above link.

I didn’t have my camera with me, as usual, but they reminded me of two big kids who were wearing ice skates for the first time and just got pushed on to the ice!  I had tears in my eyes as I laughed heartily at their entertaining slipping and sliding!

When I cut the skates off later in the day, I found tiny mud puddles, though it seemed to help keep their feet moderately free from mud.   Starlight didn’t know what to make of them, and walked like a Hackney Pony!

Starlight lifted her feet like this!

Starlight lifted her feet like this!

My mother bought Amadeus for me when he was six months old from someone in Atascadero, California, who raised miniature horses as a ‘hobby.’  No one wanted him and I thought that Starlight could use a pal, as she is closer to his age than Brandy, the old fart.  It cost more to have him shipped from Atascadero to the desert of SoCal, than for him.

Amadeus is nearly four now and in past months, we’ve found a few of his teeth.  I recall looking at his face and one of his front teeth was gone!  I thought he has rammed into the wooden fence rail during play, but realized it was a baby tooth and a new one would soon take its place. As I know it, between the ages of three and five, new teeth come in.

He could be losing a tooth, and the first tooth on top (called a ‘cap’)  could be putting pressure on the tooth coming in.   Or, it could be that because of chewing, he has some little points that have developed on his grinding teeth and in chewing, the point rubs against his cheek.

I had their teeth “floated” before I moved up in May, 2011.  Floating – odd term for filing off the points.

Next action?  Sticking my fingers in there along the side, to find any sharp points.  If I find sharp edges, I’ll need a special file and my special Mark to help me with the project.  I’m hoping to keep my fingers intact.

It’s not fun messing with a powerful little animal weighing over 300 pounds.  The first day I started treating his feet he was terrified and so sore, that he reared up on me, twice.  This makes him much taller and I’m smart enough to notice the signs and get the hell out-of-the-way.  I went back to him with patience and understanding.

There is an equine dentist who makes the rounds here in rural Crescent City, CA.  My farrier and equine vet told me the starting price and that the horse is drugged.  There’s no part of that idea that I like, so I’ll be looking a gift horse in the mouth today.


Time to make the donuts and other (not so) goodies!


I wake up naturally at 7-7:15 am – I’m ready to make the donuts, so to speak.  Here it is, 365 days of the year.

I throw on warm clothes, cut up some carrots for eight rabbits and one guinea pig and hand them out.  As soon as they hear me, they start dancing and swirling around, waiting for the start to their days.  Making the rounds, I visit four rabbit stalls (two in each) and QueeQuee, who’s already squealing.

They live inside with us, four ‘stalls’ and one  cage.  They take up quite a bit of  room in our tiny house.  Rabbits can’t be left outside – we have fox and other predators and they are sensitive and easily frightened.  I heard one of my rabbits scream once and I hope to NEVER hear that sound again.

Amalie & Didier in their living space, remodeled recently.

I grab a coat, hat and mud boots, go outside to my hay barn, collect the morning meal for my horses, who are watching my every move.  We had quite a storm recently, and attempting to keep the horses from sliding and even falling in the slick mud requires dedication, caring and plenty of physical exertion.

Amalie & Brandy, socializing, in the outdoor areas, several months earlier.

Dipsy waits by the front door now.  Since my daughter brought a kitten in, Dipsy rarely comes in the house.  She’s mad.  I’ve been coaxing her in, and she’s lying on a footstool next to me. The footstool has a name – The Stump.  Guess why!

Dipsy, before she got mad at us.

I feed her on the porch, as requested.  She won’t eat inside anymore.   After she’s done eating, I force her inside, to keep her from stalking and killing any of the Oregon Junco who visit each morning during this time of year.

Oregon Junco, here for the winter.

I wash some green vegetables or herbs for the rabbits.  Every rabbit requires 1/2 to 1 cup of fresh greens daily.  It gets expensive, and some days I gather dandelion, plantain and other edible greens.  Sometimes, they eat better than we do!  I may offer dried pumpkin or squash seeds that I’ve collected and dehydrated,  a fresh apple twig or top off their hay boxes with fresh hay.  Am I done yet?


I think so.  Now, it’s time for a cup of coffee.  I’m ready to do some research, write or crochet – nothing taxing.

But wait!  A few days ago, I wanted to go to the beach!  Point St. George, here we come!  Armed with a big plastic bag, two grabbers or pickers for beach trash, we went, after getting dressed, of course!

Tide was low, and the ocean beautiful as usual.  Anemone plentiful, and though we picked up a bit of trash, we didn’t get much that day.  The trash bin was full, so I hung my nearly empty trash bag in front.  Think anyone will take a hint?

I didn’t bring my camera.

Hey! How did you two get in here?

On the way to the beach, I noticed a woman with a small canvas sack walking in the grass, in front of the conifers along the roadway. Just ahead, a blaze of color!  She was gathering the fungi,  the classic Amanita muscaria, or Fly Amanita!

I decided to continue on to the beach, and look at the roadside on the way back, to see if she’d harvested the fungi.  She had, but there were some left, so we stopped and I pulled a few for study.

Stock pic of Amanita Muscaria, very well recognized classic mushroom

For three days, I couldn’t find my reference guide.  I kept the ‘shrooms in the fridge until I did.  Once identified, I put them next to the can for compost, on the floor.

I did see one yellow Amanita with the crowd. Looked just like this one.

Eating this fungi is not recommended, and since I don’t trip, I won’t be eating them.  According to David Arora, in All That the Rain Promises and More…, Fly, Panther and other Amanita  have intoxicating properties, known for centuries.  This group has potentially dangerous and unpredictable side effects.  They are, however, deliberately eaten by some people for the consciousness-altering effects.

As my mushrooms sat in a bag, they deteriorated quickly, and a brown puddle formed before I realized it.  They’re much larger than you may think they are.

That’s my hand and a mid sized Amanita.

After  I tossed them away, my left palm tingled for a few hours, even though I washed my hands immediately.  Ingest this ‘shroom?  I think not…

Salad plate sized Amanita

After tossing them, I did some research and found a website which offered about a pound of these, NOT FOR CONSUMPTION, at $255.00.  I’m aware that mind-altering ‘shrooms grow readily here in the Pacific Northwest, but no amount of money will drive me to collect for sale.  Further, it’s illegal in California to sell a magic mushroom.

I can’t do it.  I sure could use the money!  My family and animals need me, more than  I need the risk. Peligro!!

I’m looking forward to taking the Mycology class in January at the local Community College this year.

Sadie & Yoshi, my retirees & my first pair of rabbits, who desperately needed a home together. Tight is right!

It’s all about the horses day!


With temperatures in Crescent City Proper heading for 61° these days, with 100% humidity, it’ll be warmer here.  I live in a rural area of Crescent City,  just outside of the fog belt.  I got fog this morning, but generally, it lingers high in the firs, spruce and redwoods.

This morning, the farrier‘s coming to tune up my horses hooves.  I keep up their hooves myself half the time and clean them almost every day.  They’re reasonably cooperative and I’m respectful, patiently asking them to shift their balance so I can move along.

I’m giving the horses their yearly baths this weekend. I’ll check their dirt covered skin, checking for anything odd or sore, bites, cuts.  Dirt protects them from insects and helps keep them warm.  Mostly, I let them be horses.   Bath-time isn’t fun for any of us; it’s a big chore, physically demanding,  and without cooperation, it’s less fun than cleaning up manure. The latter doesn’t complain, kick, twist, or bite.

They’re beginning to shed out their short summer coats, in preparation for the thick, downy undercoat.  Last year, their first winter here, I didn’t have to put man-made coats on them.  All this means is that their own coats did the job.

The soil here gets slippery, deep,  muddy during the rainy season.  They’re becoming mud savvy, especially Starlight, since she slipped and twisted a leg, she’s more careful.  I’ve seen them slide right down to the ground,  then – in an instant –  they’re right back up again. I wait like an expectant mother to see if they’re moving correctly.  Seeing a horse go down in a split second –  horrifying.

Mark made a small area for them – covered, raised floor, with comfortable mats for them to lie or stand on. They have a place to go when it rains like hell and they do take advantage of it; perhaps it’s their choice and that’s the key.

My older mare, Brandy, has developed diarrhea, and I’m working to figure out what I can do to help her.  She’s been more shy toward me than usual, and I think she’s feeling a bit vulnerable.  I’ve picked pineapple weed for her, and she eats it readily.  I wonder about the weeds and herbs that might benefit their health, or contain a necessary part of their diet, and as domesticated animals, they’ve been denied.  On the other hand, there are hazards, such as the pretty, yellow buttercup flower.  One fresh flower is deadly.

Some folks say that horses don’t see color.  I believe that some do and some better than others!  Horses have two cones in their eyes, we have three.  Scientists have studied this for years.  I know from my own observations that my horses see  yellow hues and some greens.  I could say with certainty that they don’t see red.  Blue?  Not sure.

It’s time to get going – things are hopping and jumping around here today!

Amadeaus, chocolate Palomino with dapples

My Brandy, before she started having health issues.

typical of Starlight, unless she thinks she’s “getting something,” she’s turned away

Gotcha! But where are those beautiful eyes, Starlight?

I just HAD to show off Amadeaus’ beautiful dapples!

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