Friday, August 29, 2008

According to Red . . .

This morning Red and I had a consultation, think of it as getting a second opinion, with animal communicator Linda Wahlund. Linda is also a Reiki Master. I am just not a new age "whoo whoo" type person, neither is Linda. I like and respect her. She is down-to-earth and a horsewoman. Here are my notes of our consultation:

The very first thing out of Red's "mouth" was that he had been whacked a good one by another horse, this really shook him, it was a 10 out of 10 on a seriousness scale. It really made an impression on Red. The kick is directly related to his current lameness. (I had not mentioned my belief that Red had been kicked and that it contributed to the problem).

Linda asked Red how he wanted to show her his body and after a minute she reported to me they would start from the bottom.

There was a pain in his fetlock and ache in the lower part of the long bone in the front of the hock and a little ache in the hock. There is pain in his stifle - lots of pain. The hip is fine. She reviewed the spine - there are little things here and there, nothing major, a little ache around mid back. I asked about a need for adjustments and the answer came back, nothing to adjust but he would like some massage in his midback. It would help to stretch the back upwards like a cat stretching. Tail work would help - she described left hand under tail and right hand on top grasping the tail, keeping the curve, push in the tail then slowly rock your weight back and he will move foreward.

The stifle is totally fixable - 3-4 weeks, no, 2-3 weeks. It would help to push inward around there and on the hip. You don't have to be in the exact spot, you will find the spot that will need touching. She recommended the book Touching Horses and offered to loan it to me.

In trying to describe her impressions Linda said it is almost like the stifle is pushed in and sideways - and this tweaked it. She said she understood why Dr. Mott might think it was a fixated patella. She said it is like your hip, and the bursa on the side of the bone on each leg where it attaches to the side bone, like he went down hill and had to catch himself or slipped and pulled a tendon.

The front of the fetlock feels like age and arthritic related pain.

Something is at the back of the hock, not a big deal to Red. He had some trouble with hock bone spur. Nothing we can do about it. It prevents him from extending his leg all the way, he may seem stiff or bumpy at the trot.

She asked Red about different treatments:
  • will a change in diet help - no
  • supplements - no
  • pharmaceuticals - yes, but only about 50%

I asked again about Glucosamine and Chondroitin. She paused and said it would help his overall comfort.

Linda that shared that Red doesn't really care about this (the hock), it is not a huge deal to him, it just part of who he is.

There is more concern with the fetlock. . . not exactly the fetlock, on the front of the pastern in the intricate little bones there. There is achiness. She recommended essential oils on the joint, therapeutic grade.

I asked about arnica, she said it would be helpful.
I asked if the bolt damage to the corornary band and heel buttress on the outside right leg was implicated, she said it is making the fetlock concern more pronounced.

Linda considered several oils - in addition to arnica, those recommended were:
Lavender (he wanted it)

From Red came a request for the herb self-heal. He could get it in his feed.

Linda noted there is an energetic weakness in Red's rear right leg - gaps in the energy field that need to be filled in. It is an easy place for other horses to kick him.

When I asked if there was anything else Red wanted she asked and then said he hates when you use that thing that pulls on his mouth - he said "Keep that thing away from me".
She asked me what I rode him in - usually I ride with a Dr. Cook's Bitless Bridle but forgot it for Cuneo Creek, she said she would tell him that was why, he really hates the snaffle I rode him with.

Then she said that Red told her he is good because he likes me, not because he has to be good. He could do whatever he wants to but he likes me. (This is SO Red Tee Bar, he is NOT a "lick and chew" kind of guy!)

He was not so crazy about the vet business.

Red wanted to point out that his left foot is getting tired as he compensates for his right side.

Red was a bit annoyed at being contacted by Linda. When she first contacted him, he asked her why she was bothering him. Close to the end, Red said that he tells me things all the time. Linda told him she was giving me a second opinion.

Linda suggested doing a body scan for energy holes and detoxing energetically. The energy hole in his left side is like a target for other horses who want to kick him.

I asked how I could help about the new little gelding who I think was responsible for the kick - he is the only pale horse (not white) and has been trying to steal Coal. Linda described him as a "fly in the ointment". She suggested a protective ring of white light and stressed filling the energy hole in the area of Red's right rear leg.

I am beyond pleased with Linda's consultation. Not only did the horsey opinions she shared perfectly fit my Red Horse, the overall information complements the diagnosis I finally received yesterday from Dr. Mott. Here is a summary of what Dr. Mott had to say:

1. The shadow on his femur was just the angle of the xray
2. Hock joint = there is moderate changes from degenerative bone disease (osteoarthritis) in two lower tarsal joints of the right hock (the non-movable ones) and a bone spur on the distal tarsal bone.
3. In the right stifle intermittent upward patella fixation is secondary to the hock issues.
4. The exam and xrays ruled out anything that would precipitate a more acute response (there is no trauma).

Recommendations: Joint injections with cortisone.

Bill: $685.00

My thoughts: The DJD was pre-existing and chronic for a long time - it just doesn't explain for me how come Red went so lame overnight. I told her I preferred to begin with a more conservative approach - up the level of supplements and that I thought that rushing to joint injections when we had just done a summer of many trail miles with no problems was a more intense response than I preferred. She had not recalled that we had done so much trail riding.

I felt like I was given a textbook diagnosis that certainly does document the state of Red's joints but does not account for whatever happened last Thursday to have him go from sound to a lameness rating of 4. For over 6 Big Ones I now have it well documented that Red has bone spavin.

Here is my plan:

1. Joint Supplements
2. Massage
3. Essential Oils
4. Reiki
5. Energy work on the gap in his right hind leg.
6. Continued exercise.

Many folks have suggested that I might want to move Red out of general pasture. This is a hard choice. He loves general pasture, being with the herd is dear to him and I don't believe I will ever take him from what he loves so much.

Thank you everyone who has shared your sympathy and well-wishes. Red is already on the mend!

Here is Red's massage oil, custom blended by Red:

Base of grape seed oil (2 ounces) (may promote wound healing)
lavender oil (1 oz) ( rub for rheumatic ailments)
arnica oil (1 oz) (actually, I picked this and the pendulum confirmed) (reducing the swelling and pain of bruises, sprains, muscle or joint problems)
Roman chamomile (1/2 oz) (anti-inflamatory)
17 drops ginger oil (reduces inflamation)
15 drops pine oil (sore joints and muslces)
15 drops black spruce oil (muscle pains, circulation)
8 drops camphor oil (reduces inflamation)
4 drops clove oil (pain relief, blook circulation)
4 drops cinnamon oil (pain relief)
3 drops geranium oil

Now I'm about to go woo-woo on you - how did Red, a horse, blend his own oil? Well I got one of those new fangled pendulums. Seriously. Yep. And the thing just amazed me. I know next to nothing about essential oils. I just held the pendululm in front of each oil. For most it hung straight down, submissive to gravity. For the ones in the recipe it started to spin in a healthy, 2 inch circle. Woo woo woo woo. Dang. Same thing happened when I asked Red for how much of each ingredients - drops or ounces - it circled or hung motionless. For drops I counted and when it started to circle, I wrote down the drops and that is how many went into the brew.

WHOA!!!!! I just looked everything up and linked the ingredients to reference pages. Looks like an incredible massage oil for sore joints and muscles. Think I'll use it on my sore knees.

update September 1, 2009: Red is still 100 per cent sound. Not a lame step. NO injections. I'm very, very grateful. Oh, Steamer, the little fellow whose kick packed such a wallop, and Red have come to a truce. They are now united against the new bay gelding. Sigh.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Promise of America

- the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.

-Barack Obama, August 28, 2008

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
"The American Promise"
Democratic National Convention
August 28, 2008
Denver, Colorado

As prepared for delivery


To Chairman Dean and my great friend Dick Durbin; and to all my fellow citizens of this great nation;

With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.
Let me express my thanks to the historic slate of candidates who accompanied me on this journey, and especially the one who traveled the farthest - a champion for working Americans and an inspiration to my daughters and to yours -- Hillary Rodham Clinton. To President Clinton, who last night made the case for change as only he can make it; to Ted Kennedy, who embodies the spirit of service; and to the next Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, I thank you. I am grateful to finish this journey with one of the finest statesmen of our time, a man at ease with everyone from world leaders to the conductors on the Amtrak train he still takes home every night.

To the love of my life, our next First Lady, Michelle Obama, and to Sasha and Malia - I love you so much, and I'm so proud of all of you.

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story - of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren't well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

It is that promise that has always set this country apart - that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

That's why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women - students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors -- found the courage to keep it alive.

We meet at one of those defining moments - a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.

Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach.

These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.

This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.

This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he's worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.

We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.

Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land - enough! This moment - this election - is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: "Eight is enough."

Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we'll also hear about those occasions when he's broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.

But the record's clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.

The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives - on health care and education and the economy - Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made "great progress" under this President. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisors - the man who wrote his economic plan - was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a "mental recession," and that we've become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners."

A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I know.

Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under five million dollars a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than one hundred million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.

For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy - give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is - you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps - even if you don't have boots. You're on your own.

Well it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America.

You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President - when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job - an economy that honors the dignity of work.

The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great - a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.

Because in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton's Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.

In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.

When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.

And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle-management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well.

I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as President of the United States.

What is that promise?

It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.

Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.

That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.

That's the promise we need to keep. That's the change we need right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am President.
Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes - cut taxes - for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. In that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.

Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.

As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I'll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy - wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced.

America, now is not the time for small plans.

Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don't have that chance. I'll invest in early childhood education. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American - if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.

Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses; and the time to protect Social Security for future generations.

And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how I'll pay for every dime - by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less - because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.

And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America's promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our "intellectual and moral strength." Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can't replace parents; that government can't turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility - that's the essence of America's promise.

And just as we keep our keep our promise to the next generation here at home, so must we keep America's promise abroad. If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next Commander-in-Chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have.

For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face. When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell - but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.

And today, as my call for a time frame to remove our troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi government and even the Bush Administration, even after we learned that Iraq has a $79 billion surplus while we're wallowing in deficits, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war.

That's not the judgment we need. That won't keep America safe. We need a President who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past.

You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in eighty countries by occupying Iraq. You don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can't truly stand up for Georgia when you've strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice - but it is not the change we need.

We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans -- Democrats and Republicans - have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.

As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.

These are the policies I will pursue. And in the weeks ahead, I look forward to debating them with John McCain.

But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism.

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.

So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose - our sense of higher purpose. And that's what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America's promise - the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that's to be expected. Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

And you know what - it's worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn't work, all its promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it's best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.

I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington.

But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you.

For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us - that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it - because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.

America, this is one of those moments.

I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming. Because I've seen it. Because I've lived it. I've seen it in Illinois, when we provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare to work. I've seen it in Washington, when we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans and keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.

And I've seen it in this campaign. In the young people who voted for the first time, and in those who got involved again after a very long time. In the Republicans who never thought they'd pick up a Democratic ballot, but did. I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day than see their friends lose their jobs, in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb, in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit - that American promise - that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours - a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead - people of every creed and color, from every walk of life - is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one.

"We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise - that American promise - and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

Thank you, God Bless you, and God Bless the United States of America.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lyra Turns to Me

A few days ago I sat on my tailgate feeding Lyra handfuls of rye grass hay from a bale in the back of my truck, enjoying the gentle rain. We just sat quietly together for some time, enjoying the peace of our own little tailgate party. Lyra has changed so much in the last 2 months, or perhaps it is more accurate to say she has revealed so much of herself.

She is beginning to trust me, she looks at me when I walk through the general pasture and if I don't approach her she will seek me out. Tonight I asked one of our barn mates to hold her while I ran to the bathroom. The entire time I was gone Lyra stood with her head facing the bathroom door. Not facing the herd, facing me. Yep, Lyra is starting to reveal herself and is beginning to look to me for comfort and leadership. I am deeply, deeply touched by this sweet mare.

Her former owner just told me that in November it took two people two hours to get Lyra (then Zelda) into the barn. She has made so much progress! I tried something a bit different tonight as we entered the barn. Lyra usually takes 3 or 4 steps and then plants herself. I have always insisted that she continue with me to the tie post. Tonight I accepted her choice to stop and that is where we stood for the evening (most other horses were already in bed so we weren't blocking the door). I fed her there and just sat, talking to her. She remained calm the entire evening. NOT ONE POOP PILE. No pee. I think I will ask her to show me where she wants to stand. I will count her entry into the barn as her "try".

This evening is my official "end of summer vacation". Children return to school on September 2nd, but us adults start back this week. I have had the best summer of my . . . well, possibly of my life. One huge goal has been met, I wanted to bond with Lyra - back at the beginning of summer this seemed like an insurmountable goal and yet as of this week I feel we are truly connected. She has stopped standing with her head pointing to her herd. Today she rested her head in my arms, and just leaned into me, enjoying being rubbed on the forehead. Finally, Lyra has turned to me.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Red is a horse of many definite opinions which he shares freely. He hates being confined. Regretfully, my red horse was significantly lame for the first time in our relationship. Thursday night he did not want to give me his right hind hoof and kept trying to pull it away as I put on his new Epics. I got after him. As soon as I started to lunge Red it was clear why he was so touchy - he was lame on that leg. Lame enough for a visit with the vet first thing Friday morning. So began our journey into the land of joint blocks, x-rays, and vague diagnoses.

Friday morning our vet did a barn call, observed Red, did blocks of his heel and his pastern joint, and ruled out an abscess. While he was sore in the heel of his hoof, a block of the heel made no difference in his level of lameness. She stopped there and we scheduled a clinic appointment for the next day. Thanks to my good friends Cary and Steve, Red had a fine ride to the Clinic. We had to wait a few hours due to our Dr. being delayed by a field emergency. One of the many things I love about Cary is her solid, good-humored presence during rough moments. "No problem", she said, "I figure this is sort of horse karma, I don't want the vet rushing with my horses just to get to the next appointment on time." Yay Cary! We decided to have a late breakfast, leaving a VERY UNHAPPY Red hollering at us as we said goodbye and walked across the street. It was bad enough having to wear purple sparkley bell boots - watching us walk away from him was just more than my good horse could bear.

Once our vet arrived (about 1:00 - our appointment was at 10:00), she took Red through the diagnostic routine. Observations at the walk and trot in straight lines and circles; flex tests; joint palpitations. She noted that he seemed much better than the previous day. I asked her to give me a rating on the lameness scale - she said that on Thursday Red was a 4, today he was more a 3. Still lame though. So we began the looonggggg process of blocking each joint. Here is the sequence.

1. Pastern block - no real difference.
2. Hock block - some difference but Red is still lame.
3. Stifle block - a little more improvement but still lame.

Lots more observation, walking, trotting, flex tests. I commented that it seemed like his stifle action was unusual (knee action). She had me walk him while she moved with him, hand held over stifle. We agree to do hock and stifle x-rays. Red is SO NOT IMPRESSED with all of this but he is SUCH a good boy. We had to use a twitch for the hock and stifle blocking injections. As I cranked on his little squooshed-up lip his eyes softened and he became just incredibly calm - this relaxation lasted for the next hour or so. Just amazing. Calm or not, Red thought the whole business sucked.

After all the necessary diagnostic procedures, here is what we learned:

1. Red has moderate arthritic degeneration in his hock joint. Extending beyond one of the supposed to be curved edges of one of the many little bones is a hooked growth of bone - arthritic changes. This falls into the category of degenerative joint disease and since it is in the hock is often referred to as bone spavin.

2. The lateral condyle of his femur has some "mystery" possible degeneration (our vet will consult with her colleagues). The x-ray shown is not Red's but I've outlined the approximate shape of the mystery degeneration.

3. In Red's stifle there is occasional "upward fixation of the patella". Cause currently uncertain.

My reaction - Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. OK. Arthritic changes are to be expected and there they were, right before my eyes. Well Red IS 17. The upward fixated patella - hmmmmmm? What was not answered is HOW COME he went from sound to a 4 on the lameness scale overnight. How come? Our vet hypothesized that there was a triggering event that irritated the growing chronic but previously unexpressed skeletal changes. OK.

So the Good News = 1. No fractures. 2. No cysts or lesions.
The Not so Good News = 1. MODERATE arthritic changes. 2. Chronic, intermittent upward fixatation of the patella. 3. Mystery something.

My friend Cary said I have to remember and repeat our vet's last words, "Imminently treatable". Sorry I'm a bit fuzzy on the what and the how. Our vet talked about Cosequine, Legend, and Cortisone. She talked about the need for exercise to strengthen the quadriceps which will help stabilize the patella. She mentioned several potential invasive procedures that could be options if Red's sticky stifle gets worse. First thing is to do nothing and see if he gets worse, gets better, or stays the same.

The best news for Red, he gets to go back into the general pasture where he will not doubt immediately charge the new upstart gelding who will be trying to put the moves on Red's beloved.

Meanwhile, I am googling like crazy trying to learn about what our vet described. I will be looking for all alternative treatments. Oh, and contacting an animal communicator.

I love this horse.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Looking for Signs of Fall, Finding a Lame Horse

Yesterday I took my camera (which I hate) and went walking through the general pasture looking for signs of fall. My camera, a Nikon Coolpix L5, is incredibly unreliable when it comes to focus. I was disappointed that so many pictures were fuzzy. Google's Picassa 2 photo program came to my rescue. It is easy, so easy to use and offers an amazing range of "click and apply" effects. Here are some ruined shots that were given a second life by Picasa.

Tomorrow I take Red to our Vet Clinic for a two hour appointment. He is lame in his right hind leg. Seriously lame. Our vet did a barn call this morning and started the series of blocking shots that help to isolate the location of what may contributes to his lameness. She ruled out an abscess and we agreed to continue at the clinic tomorrow.

I'm guessing that many folks reading belong to the horse tribe and know exactly what I'm going through. I am worried and distracted - want him okay at all costs and yet wince imagining that cost. I'm guessing that I will have to say "goodbye" to my horse trailer fund. No problem, I want my dear Red Horse pain free and sound.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Missing Leena

Yesterday I did not firmly shut my back door and while I was at work Leena, an aussie/kelpie mix, pushed it open and jumped the fence. She can fly over any fence but stays put when I am home, always wondered if she goes looking for me. I got Leena about 4 years ago from Bones Rescue. She was picked up by the Redding Animal Control when she was running down the street (probably jumped a fence) and Bones saved her from the pound.

Leena loves to be my "go along" dog - the dog who rides up to the ranch with me. She is my shadow as I move through my house, if I stop her nose bumps into me. A strong-willed dog, she likes to jump up, lick faces, and dash outside before she is invited. When I've been gone for awhile, she welcomes me home with tiny bites all over my hands. I miss her.

Thing is, Leena has run away about a dozen times. To deal with this I made her one of those tags that says, "I'm Leena" and gives my phone number. It recently came off and I did not get around to replacing it. Now, when she runs up to greet a stranger with her incredible cuteness, there will be no way for them to know to contact me. She is not at the pound. No one has answered my online lost adds. Wish Leena a safe journey. Wish us a speedy reunion. I really, really miss her.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Changing Seasons

It is not here yet, but you can smell it on the evening breeze and feel it in the morning chill. The leaves on Red's favorite tree are starting to change color. Fall is coming very, very close. The signs of its coming are scattered throughout my days. Meetings - I'm a social worker with a practice in the schools and my date book has reappeared as a near constant companion in my life.

Last night at the barn I needed, for the first time in months, to turn the lights on to see what I was doing in the late evening. Yesterday I heard, muffled by the fog (y'all get a heatwave and we get fog this time of year), the sounds of geese passing overhead. We are moving closer to my favorite season.

Closer to fall means the end of summer, 2008 - a serious contender for the title of "Best Summer of My Life". My son bought his own home and left mine where he and his partner lived for a couple of years while saving up money. It was a tight fit. In his words, "It sucked living in your attic but it was worth it." Sucked for us all but definitely worth it.

This is the summer I've realized my lifelong (so it seems) dream of horse camping - AND I get to go again this weekend thanks to my friend Laura. I've ridden almost every day - read TONS, and considered myself so very BLESSED to have summers to enjoy. Love working in the schools!

This weekend I went to an outstanding barefoot trimming clinic with Linda Cowles. Visit her site at Linda practices a style of trimming called "Trimming from the Top" ( has a great protocol). I'm still working on my notes and will post them soon. Two themes were strongly emphasized throughout the day - Thrush and Diet. Linda believes thrush is responsible for many of the hoof issues folks struggle with. If your horse is doing endless transition, has shortened stride, or just won't stop with toe-first landings, you will welcome her article Thrush Treatments Revisited.

Pete Ramey's new article Feeding the Hoof is reverberating throughout the world of natural hoofcare and at Linda's clinic she stressed again and again - SUGAR = HOOF PROBLEMS. While these may be symptoms of systemic imbalance, a high carb diet feeds thrush and can create great risk of laminitic incidents. She recommended, along with Ramy, Dr. Eleanor Kellon's online course Nutrition as Therapy. I'll probably see you there.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Trail Notes from Cuneo Creek August 9th, 2008

One of the reasons I purchased Red was his experience on the trail. Like everything, if you don't use it, you lose it. At the beginning of summer he was, excuse me Red, a ninny - hypervigilant, snorty, expecting a bear to pop out from behind each tree. We have logged quite a few miles now, and he has settled into his "trailness" - steady with surprises, great over all bridges, water crossings, and any position I gave him in our group.

Our last trip was a blast but several incidents made me appreciate the critical need for preparedness. Being on the trail is excruciating fun, it is also puts you and your horse on the line where oversights and oopsies and become serious, soundess or even life threatening situations. I had a couple of oopsies that had only small consequences. I forgot Red's bitless bridle - even though I carefully packed all horse gear the day before. FORGOT HIS BRIDLE. Tried riding him in his rope halter, no way with so many strange horses. Had to borrow a bridle and while Red does fine with a snaffle, two days of trail rides was not the setting to reintroduce one into his mouth.

My other oopsie was failing to check the condiditon of his Easyboot Epics - on our last day, on our last mile the stitching holding the gaiter to its base came apart and the entire boot came off Red's hoof and flopped around his hoof for several steps. No problem on the broad, cushy trail one mile from camp. A potential disaster on one of the sharp switchbacks on steeper parts of the trail.

Notes to self:
1. Be triply prepared
2. Make a packing list and check it thrice
3. Check and recheck all gear
4. Oh, and replenish trail 1st aid kit - which I had fortunately thoroughly stocked as Red got pretty dinged up battling the wall in the 1st spot in my friend's gorgeous new Cicrle J aluminum 3 horse slant load trailer. Lesson learned - Red needs the middle or last spot. And if ever possible he needs the training opportunity to become comfortable in the 1st spot.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Every Move You Make, Every Breath You Take . . .

. . . I'll be watching you (apologies to The Police).

Lyra might have her head turned toward the general pasture, but she knows exactly where I am, what I'm doing, and how much or how little of my attention is with her. Red might be eating his crunchies, but he has a precise awareness of how many nano seconds it will take me to reach his side (as he darts out his neck to steal a bite of the barn manger's hay). Letticia - pictured here, was the horse with whom I ended the long, soul-parching horseless years of my life. Always, though her head might be turned toward her favorite hiding spot in the Redwoods, she was watching me.

Horses, more than any animal I've been graced to be with, study our every move, breath, and expression. Makes sense, they being the prey and we the predator. However watching is not the same as acknowledging, responding, or respecting. Being watched does not mean you have been taken within your horse's awareness and accepted as their leader. Whether your horse regards you warily, serenely, wildly, fearfully, calmly, expectantly, or detachedly, it is this basic prey needing to know what the predator is up to, hard-wired drive that is one of the most powerful tools we have to forge a working relationship with our horses. They miss nothing.

It is this never lagging awareness (sort of an equine version of the all-seeing eye of Mordor) that makes possible one of the greatest mind-boggling truisms of working with horses - every moment we are with them we are training them. Always. Whether you planned it or not, intentionally or not. If Lyra sneaks a hoof into my space, she KNOWS if I miss it or ignore it. Ignore it and I have trained her that she can try to take over a bit more of my space (thus moving up a notch in our little herd hierarchy).

I cherish this knowledge because it invites me, challenges me to work towards increasing my own awareness of how I am moving, breathing, and even thinking so that what I am training my horses to do is congruent with my training goals, starting with with having safe horses that respect my space. In seeking to become more aware, more present with my horses, I become more present with myself.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The "It Ain't Pretty" School of Training

Relax Parellis, I don't think y'all have anything to worry about but tonight I had a HUGE success with Lyra. For the two months I've had her she has majorly freaked out when tied to one of the tie posts in the barn where I board: pacing, spinning, pooping (oh, 3 to 9 piles), peeing. At first she was in constant motion. I've gotten lots of helpful suggestions and things sorta mellowed out to the point where she would stand still for part of the time. Sorta. But tonight I called upon the powers of predator woman and the fat as a python cotton lead rope a friend loaned me. Tonight we made progress but it wasn't pretty or elegant. Not subtle. Rather goofy actually.

Picture this. Lyra is tied to her post and starts to pace. Every horse is still antsy over the new gelding. First she swings her hindquarters to the left, then to the right. Her head is constantly oriented to the pasture. Dang. Thought we'd left this behind. Think, think, think. Hmmmmm.

I loop the BIG cotton rope (BCR) over my shoulder and as Lyra starts her next swinging sequence I start to hiss while pointing to where I want her to stand. She ignores me, I hiss louder, become huge, glare in her eye, and again ask her to move by pointing and shaking the BCR. She is looking at me now, but not moving. Hissing like a puff adder, I explode and thwop her with the BCR. She scoots into the exact position I have requested, drops her head, licks and chews. HA! Instantly I become small, coo "Gooooooood Lyra" and give her a carrot.

She stands quietly (goodie, goodie, goodie) for about 2 minutes and then resumes her swinging around pattern. I repeat the sequence all the way to the "THWOP" and again she scoots into position. More small Cherie, cooing, carrots. This sequence repeats close to TWENTY times. And then she stands, sighs, cocks her hip AND DOESN'T MOVE. Really doesn't move. I am standing a ways away, stunned, when a nice woman from another barn at the ranch comes in. She looks at me and says, "I heard this sound and wondered if someone was spraying paint in here"? (insert blush) "Oh no, just me hissing at my horse", I respond. She nods, smiles and says that it seems to have worked. She really is a nice person.

On with the evening . . . I saddle Lyra, she stands quietly. More folks arrive. My friend who loaned my the BCR brings in April, her amazing 27 year old Missouri Fox Trotter mare. Focused on the other horse, Lyra begins to swing her butt around. I become a teency predator woman with a quiet little "hiiiiiiiissssssssssss", almost a whisper, so I don't terrify April. Lyra moves back into position and stays there! Really. Her head is still facing to the general pasture. We are working on that - the command "look" is beginning to consistently call Lyra's attention back to me. Slowly, bit by bit, our relationship is growing. I am having successes in getting her attention and starting to build a foundation of acceptable behavior. Just sometimes it ain't too pretty of a picture as predator woman comes to my aid, glaring, hopping, and hissing until Lyra offers the requested behavior.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The General Pasture

These 40 acres are the primary reason I board where I do. I wanted Red to be with other horses. My horses get to move all day, part of the herd as it follows its pattern from the watering trough, to the open fields, to the shaded redwood trees, to the south fields protected by a fierce blackberry hedge. There is a rhythm to their movement . . . I've moved with them, a friendly two-legged known to all.

They move heads down, tearing off grass, chewing, stepping - grazing as equines have done throughout the ages. After about 45 minutes of filling their small stomachs, they stop and get comfy - some eyes close for a nap, others play wild horse games throughout the break time. Then back to serious grazing for another 45 minutes. Eventually they will work their way to the gate. With perfect timing the herd arrives at rush hour, around 5:00 pm, watching for the people who will come with halters and carrots for the lucky ones.

I think our general pasture is a hidden gem. Some folks think of it in less fond terms: "my horses cost to much to risk injury out there"; "those horses scare me"; "my horse will get buddy sour if I put her out there", "but they will get so cold at night." It can be wild, horses do get hurt when new members are turned out and the herd hierarchy is disrupted. So why do I keep my horses there? For the health of my horses, for the sense of wilderness I get at night hunting for Red, and for the sweet, sweet herd itself - my horse community.

This is Shaheen. He belongs to my friend Jessica who is about 23. She rode him in utero - they have been together all of her life. He is a the bottom of the herd hierarchy, often standing by himself on the periphery of the horses. Shaheen is a joy to trail ride with. He is steady, calm, fazed by nothing. What a good partner for Red.

Jerico is 18 and was the first horse I met at Freshwater. He is the most gorgeous horse I know, a kind and wise soul. Laura, his owner, said she trained him "the Indian way" by swimming with him and then mounting him in water. Once I couldn't fiind Red and was starting to become anxious. Jerico was watching me, picked up a stick and shook it up and down. I followed in the direction he pointed the stick. There was Red.

Red has many friends in the general pasture. These horses are important to me and I have relationships with all of them. I have never felt unsafe in their midst. I work at this, demanding that they respect my personal space, sending them away if they are disrespectful.

There is one driving passion that rules Red's life, to be at the side of Coal, his beloved and the general pasture boss mare. She is a huge percheron who was purchased in Lyndon, Washington. I wonder if she was once a PMU mare. Coal is, without question, at the very top of the herd hierarchy.

When she was first turned into the pasture there was chaos. Red was injured as horses sorted out a new order. Coal asserts herself by walking into horses and pushing them. If they don't submit she will whirl and kick - I don't think she has ever learned the subtle sequences of equine body language. Her rule is now absolute and totally undisputed. There is, however, keen competition for who gets to be her first gelding.

Red usually holds this prestigious spot. His only serious competition has been an older appaloosa gelding named Sweet Grass. This experienced senior gentlemen is a favorite with all the mares. Red is delighted that Sweet Grass is currently far away. Every summer he goes with his owner to work packing in the Trinity Alps. Red had quite a long time to enjoy the fruits of Coal's company with few challenges. The rules of herd hierarchy are a marvel to watch and teach me so much about how to be with my horses. The general pasture has seen peaceful interaction for the last few months. Not all geldings have Red's drive. Justus, Fino, Jerico, Quincy, Joe, and Shaheen are very happy to just be part of the herd. They are low to mid level status horses and are content to graze and groom each other or play gelding games in the sun.

This week a new gelding arrived and was turned into the GP. I was feeling sorry for him. I feel much less sorry for him tonight. One more chestnut horse, he is about 14 h - perhaps a mustang. Alert and focused he has been studying the mares. He covets Red's adored Coal but has started to build a small band of the lower status mares. Tonight when I came for Lyra he drove Lyra to the opposite end of the GP - I reclaimed her and took over his space, making him back and move off.

When I haltered Red he was reluctant to go with me, looking over his shoulder at Coal. As Red moved away, the new gelding made his move and trotted up to Coal. My boy flattened his ears, looked miserable, but respected my leadership. Heck. I turned him loose. He flew at the upstart horse, and grabbed his neck. Meeting with resistance, Red turned and kicked out twice . Oddly the kicks were not very hard, but his aim was good and he connected with the little gelding who turned and trotted off. I checked to be sure he was unhurt, walked up to Red and haltered him. He came willingly, content that he had defended his status as Coal's top gelding.