Friday, December 30, 2011

Misty Mornings....

Road trip!  We left the ranch in the dark of night, soon to be daylight but the need to get on the road before the commuter traffic was the goal.  We had a long drive ahead of us, over 630 miles to deliver Misty and Bambi to their new adoptive homes in the wine country of Lake County, just north of Napa valley. 

We were all still half asleep when the trailer loading started.  Bambi, at only six months old, is the more seasoned traveler of the two horses and she walked right into the trailer and stood, tied eating hay while we brought Misty over and loaded her.  

Only her second trailer ride and she walked right in too.  I have to give Debbie Steglic credit for that.  She volunteered many hours working with Misty to give her the confidence to follow our lead.  Rewarding as it is that they walked so trustingly into the trailer, it’s also a little sad  they won’t be returning with us.  Knowing they are headed for people who are impatiently waiting their arrival makes this departure easier.

Travel was fabulous, we ran into hardly any traffic and when we got up to Woodland, north of the bay area, we had enough day light left that we chose the scenic route to get us to our cut-off highway.  So we took highway 16 from Woodland north through the small turn of the century towns with tiny populations on a two lane road leading us nostalgically back in time.  After 500+ miles of interstate this was just the picture we needed to see out the windows.  We went through a beautiful gorge along a creek with several parks for hiking, picnicking and even a cowboy camp.

Tall, steep rock formations with outcroppings of trees just reaching for the heavens and perfect with the shadows of the sun as it was starting to set in the west, bright shafts of sun splashing through the branches making the leaves and pines vivid colors of greens and golds warmly pop against cold, dark rock.   Rolling around one of the many sharp turns in this windy road we opened up to a rolling glen and one of the biggest herd of Elk I have ever seen in my life.  There were over 40 sprinkled throughout the glen grazing on the lush, green grasses as though there was no one in sight.  The leader regally lifted his head and I swear he looked right at us, considered us and then went back to grazing realizing we were no harm to the herd.    Takes your breath away, seriously, I am sure I held my breath when he looked at us hoping they wouldn’t all turn and run.

It was dark by the time we pulled into A Gift Horse Rescue in Kelseyville and a group of the volunteers, young, teenage girls, giddy with excitement that we had finally arrived with new horses for them to care for and love on board, met us at the road and showed us how to get to the barn through the walnut tree grove.   Bambi will be part of the rescues program for children to learn horse husbandry and training and she will thrive in their loving care.  I suspect she will be groomed and dressed up in ribbons and bows in no time.    Misty will belong to CC and her son and stay boarded there with CC’s other adopted horse.

No drama with the unloading or settling into the round-pen for the evening.  The girls were more interested in the food (though they had plenty in the trailer) than they were with their new surroundings and the resident horses didn’t even acknowledge them with a nicker or whinny.  Misty warmed right up to Valarie as she got a big hug after her halter came off.  Misty seemed very confident that she was in a safe place as did Bambi.  Makes it so much easier to drive off when you see the horses have no concern over their new digs.   

                                                       Misty walking out of the trailer

Clearly there is lots of love to go around at A Gift Horse rescue and these well-loved horses are being left in very capable hands.   CC texted that she was doing a ‘happy dance’, knowing the horses had arrived safely and could hardly wait to meet them.

Our stay was short, but we did learn that there were several vineyards in the area and some of the other fun touristy things to do like bass fishing, seeing the tall Redwoods, horse camping,  and wine tasting.  Which as long as we were so close to Napa valley was definitely something we wanted to do on our way home with an overnight stay at the Twin Pines Casino & Hotel en route.   First casino we have been to that offered wine tasting.  What a great way to relieve the muscle strain from hours in the truck. 

We woke to a foggy morning as we could see from our window that the local mountains were partially covered with the low clouds.  The trip down the mountain side was reminiscent of the drive from Julian to Santa Ysabel or the tight turned road from Flagstaff to Sedona.  Two lanes with no shoulder much of the windy way. Not a road for those in a hurry.   Tucked in the hills between the trees and rock formations were turn of the century cabins mixed in a with a new home here or there and a few ‘view points’, where you could see the valley below. 
We came around one sharp curve to see a fawn standing in the on-coming lane, I yelled, “Bambi, Bambi” to Lary so he would see her – though in afterthought the Bambi we had dropped off last night was much cuter than this fawn.  We slowed way down and she eventually went prancing off into the hills and as I watched her, a car sped around that corner and had it been a moment earlier or if we had not come when we had, the outcome would have been tragic for sure.  Timing – God puts us in the needed place once again….

As we descended the mountain side and looking out over the valley heading into Calistoga and on to Napa, I was struck by the wisps of clouds like fingers reaching through the trees as the sun rose making the fog look like angles hair draped over the boughs of a Christmas tree.  Prisms of light reflected off the clouds making it look so serene and magical.   We stopped for me to take a picture, but I know it doesn’t do justice to the quiet beauty of the morning but the memory of it will always be there.  

What a cute place Calistoga is, a blend of old and new and vineyards for miles and miles.  Ramona has some relatively new vineyards and I enjoy looking at the rows of vines gracing our local road ways, but these were vines that have been producing delectable grapes for decades I am sure. The trunk of the vines had such character, thick, nobby and rich in deep color rising to new vines that stretch each season to bring a new crop of fruit for the bottle.

The valley moves on to St. Helena and that is where we found a sit in bakery called, Model Bakery, where there was just too much to choose from without making a pig of yourself.  Rows of glass display cases showed off the biggest selection of fresh baked, hot out of the oven, breakfast pastries I have seen in a long time, not to mention fashionable cupcakes, pies and artisan style fresh breads.  I’m talking nose to the glass good…..  

I opted for an Apricot croissant and a Bear Claw and Lary a sticky roll and chocolate cookie, some to eat now and some to take on the road for later.   A freshly brewed cup of Peets coffee and the fresh ground almond paste in the Bear Claw about had me moaning like Med Ryan in ‘When Harry Met Sally”.   Yummm, doesn't even begin to describe their pastries.  

Wishing we had a place like this in Ramona, I was memorizing the set up and d├ęcor of the place and heard a little girls squeal of delight, "look mama, a huge gingerbread house", and turned to see a beautifully hand crafted  house that no doubt was built in the bakery in the back just for this holiday season.  When we left, we stopped to take a look and it was even decorated on the inside.   I’m wondering after New Year’s do they all sit down with a huge pot of coffee and start eating this masterpiece?   Seems like the best way to honor such a beautiful and no doubt, labor of love.   

St. Helena is collection of boutique stores, chocolatiers, niche restaurants, art galleries, Bed & Breakfast Inns and spa’s, even the hardware store looked unique.  As you leave town the vineyards continue with tasting rooms to show off their wares. Some old, some new and trendy, Tuscan, Tudor, architecturally modern, great diversity as you probably see in the wines themselves. 

I was telling Lary about a trip I had made over a dozen years ago up here and a happenstance stop at a vineyard called Sequoia Grove, where I tasted my all-time favorite Chardonnay which was smooth, oaky with a buttery finish that was so creamy going down.  I have never seen Sequoia Grove in wine shops in the San Diego area until a few days before Christmas we stopped at the Major Market in Fallbrook and they had a bottle of their Cabernet there.  I scanned the shelves for their Chardonnay, but they didn’t have it.  I was so bummed.
But here we are in Napa Valley and the winery is on our way home.  While we were talking about it, we actually drove right passed it.  In this part of Napa they have a center lane so people can pull to the center to make left hand turns without impeding traffic.   Passed it, not a problem for my husband who is highly skilled at the task of backing a trailer, he pulled in the center lane, checked the other lanes of traffic and backed us up right to the driveway.   That’s it, the cute ‘A’ frame building sitting in the middle of towering Sequoia trees and the sign says they are closed……  

We pulled in the driveway and we tried to figure out where to put this compact little F350 Dually with a three horse stock trailer in tow (bet they don’t get many of these pulling up) so I could at least get a picture after all these years.   Lary dropped me off while he turned the truck around and I headed for the door, just a peek inside, what could that hurt.  I cupped my hands to the side of my face so I could get a good look just as someone opens the door – OH! Hi!  

“We are closed and don’t open for another hour”, the man says..   “I know”, I said and told him how it had been over a decade since I was here last and we were headed all the way to San Diego and I just had to stop and see the place again and show my hubby…   Silence, then he looks at me and smiles, “oh, come on in, but we are just setting up so don’t mind us while we get ready for the day”.   I squealed just like the little girl seeing the Gingerbread house and started waving my arms to Lary….come on – they are gonna let us in!!!! 

Much to my delight it was as I had remembered, beautiful wood bar, tall windows of the ‘A’ frame, big beautiful bottles with gold etched Sequoia’s on them.  We started talking and the man, I didn’t even get his name, told me what had changed since last being there and told me their Chardonnay is still made with the same process as back then and as a special treat set out a wine glass and poured a glass for Lary and I to share.   Drinking this early?  Was it even 9am, oh heck, who cares!  All this way from home and I was getting a chance to see if the wine was as good as I remembered and yes, yes it was.  I savored my first taste as it graced my mouth with a softness I had thought about for years.  

Lary is not a Chardonnay drinker, but even he had to admit it was nummy.   I know that’s not a wine snob way to describe fruit of the vine, but we’ve never aspired to be snobs, so nummy it is!  We tried the reds too and knowing we had a long way to travel yet today, we bought one of each and headed on our way.  Thanking him for making our short lived trip to Napa such a brief but fun memory. 

Thinking of the horses and missing them already, knowing they won't be there in the morning, nickering for attention when we go out to feed I will always remember this as our Misty trip.   Bringing Misty up to her new mom, CC, in wine country, waking up to a misty mountain top in the morning as we looked out our hotel window and our drive down to Napa valley as the fog laid on the rolling hills like mist on the vines.   What a great way to spend a couple of days during the holidays!

Every mile a memory......

Add captionBambi & Misty the next morning

                                                     Bambi with one of her new friends

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's the Trimming time of year!

I still have yet to put the ornaments up on our Christmas tree.  It's been up for two weeks and has lights on and a few ornaments on it that I got at a recent holiday party ornament exchange, but with all that has been going on I haven't found the time to all out "trim" the tree.  But that's not all the trimming that needs to be done this time of year and today we had the opportunity do a little different kind of trimming for the holiday's.

A gal I hadn't seen since the 2007 wild fires when we both worked with Emergency Animal Rescue and helped with the 160 horses that were housed in a local arena (among other various animals) having been evacuated from their homes and helped get food out to other animals still left at home with absent owners (shelter in place), Amanda Kohr came to check out Bizzy's feet for her new soon to be foster family.

How good to see her again after so many years.  While she was giving Bizzy the once over and telling Ted what great feet Bizzy had, we talked about what was going on here at the rescue and each of the fallon foals Bambi, Diesel and weanling Cinnabon.  I asked about their feet and if she could take a look at them and thankfully she had the time.   So off we went so I could introduce her to each of the babies and give them their holiday trims....

Bambi & Amanda - first trim 12-21-11

Bambi has had lots of practice having her feet handled with me cleaning her feet, but doing the trim takes a little longer and the nipper and rasp were definitely a new feeling.   She really didn't fuss about it much.  Just a little bit because it does take longer to do the trim than just cleaning them out, but we would give her a break between feet and move her so she could square up again for balance.  Amanda said that whoever ended up adopting Bambi was getting a horse with good feet, they were in great shape and the thrush she had a few weeks ago is totally gone.

Diesel & Amanda - first trim 12-21-11

Diesel did awesome too.  I have been a little worried that his hooves would have problems because of the mal-nutrition and infection that he suffered for so long, his pasterns were really weak for a while, but have been firming up better as the weeks go by.   Because of his low pasterns his hooves seemed very long with low heals.  Other than a small bruise on his right hind foot (sorry I didn't get a picture) his hooves were overall in good shape and the thrush is totally gone too.   Phew, what a relief.  

Now that the first trims are done, I can do touch ups with the rasp every week and that will help extend the time between trims and get them used to the feel of the rasp and their feet being handled.  I sure am glad to know both their feet are fine and I just need to keep an eye on that small bruise on Diesel's foot.

Amanda was kind enough to give us a discount for the horses at the rescue which is a nice way to help the donated dollars go further and we really appreciate her helping out like that.  I also want to thank Lisa, Jan, Lois & Paul,  Miya & Steve, Joanna, Michelle, Stef and Celia for their donations to help the horses at EqWBR, so I was able to schedule Dr. Christi for next week, and she will be coming out to do a check up on Diesel and pregnancy check on Shala.

Christmas is my favorite time of year, probably because it's my birthday too and I do love trimming the tree and I have a wonderful collection of ornaments that bring back memories every time I unpack them.  In fact on my facebook page I have an entire album I posted last year with each of the ornaments pictured, that's how much I love trimming the tree...   But I have to tell you, I loved doing today's trimming just as much!!!


If you are considering year end donations, we would sure appreciate it if you would help support the horses here with a donation, every dollar is put to good use for the well-being of the horses.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A very Bizzy day! She gets a foster family

Today was Bizzy's day. A gentleman came out to talk to us about adopting her. Tabi was out to work with Chance and had the time to warm Bizzy up and then prep her for Ted to ride her. She hasn't been ridden since August and Tabi only had her for one month of training = about 15 rides in a round pen. 

Ted wanted to try her with his saddle on which had a rear cinch, breast collar, saddle bags and covers on the stirrups and his bridle is one of those "bitless" ones that cross-pulls under the chin. She has never experienced any of these things. 

While the most confusing to her was the bitless bridle because she kept thinking she was supposed to stop when she felt the pull across her chin. But she kept trying and trying and eventually both Tabi and Ted rode her with all that new gear. She didn't get fussy, no swishing the tail or stomping her feet, just try, try, try. She is such a good horse. 

So good that Ted called and they want to foster her for a few months and if she fits with his family like she thinks they will, permanent adoption. He is very excited and wanting to pick her up yet this week... A new horse for Christmas. 

You could see the connection between the two of them and he was so patient with her - common with women, not so common with men.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Reflection on Frost!

We have had a series of really cold nights.  Our bedroom is on the second floor and I can look out over the roof of the garage from up here.  This is important this time of year because when I get up, I can look out the window and see if there is frost on the roof and how thick it is.  This morning it was really thick and took some time to melt even with the sun out.

Tonight is supposed to be another really cold night with a chance of sprinkles....that means lots of moisture to freeze and turn into frost.  All the mature horses don't mind the cold because they have nice thick coats to keep them warm, even if it is drizzling.  I come from Minnesota where we didn't blanket our horses in the dead of winter, let alone just when it gets down in the 20's, so unless there is some medical reason they need a blanket, they aren't getting one.   We will feed alfalfa at night to give them the extra protein to burn during the night to keep warm.

Even Cinnabon and Bambi (both less than a year old) have nice thick coats.  If it is drizzly and cold out for Bambi I will put on the blanket that a beautiful angel sent this way, just for that added dryness since she did so recently get over her strangles.   But poor Diesel (the baby), he just doesn't have the muscle mass or thick coat to keep himself warm so he gets his blanket right after the sun goes down.

So where does the frost come in which is what I originally started talking about?

If the frost is still on the roof in the morning, I know it's still too cold to go out and take Diesel's blanket off and another good reason for me to stay under the electric blanket in my jammies and answer emails and facebook, and anything else I need to do on the computer.   If the frost is gone, well I better get out there pretty soon and get his blanket (generously donated by the same angel) off too.

He likes his blanket.  Not so much the putting on and taking off, but he knows when it does come off, I am going to brush him from head to toe and oooohhh boy does that feel good.  If fact, I am surprised he doesn't go grab the hairbrush off the table next to the stall and bring it to me himself.   When I am done, if he hasn't had enough, he just comes right back to me and stands there as if to say "more, may I have some more?"...

Bambi loves to be groomed too.  Not shy of the brush or comb, what girl named Bambi would be????   She will just revel in the hair tingling, muscle massaging process of getting brushed.  She'll stand for her mane and tail to be combed out too.   I have taught her well to prep her for a future in pony club, parade costume, or some other function where it will be imperative that she look her best and she will have to endure (I say that tongue in cheek) all the fussing.   It is fun to watch Mackenzie, who the two of them stand eye to eye, diligently go about the chore of grooming her...very serious business it is.  And Bambi knows she is star of the show.

SHALA also loves to be groomed, but I need to catch her first and now that she is out in a large enclosure, she doesn't always want to be caught and can play hard to get from time to time, but once I start brushing her, she has no desire to go anywhere.   I really feel I need to compensate for all the times I had to go out and put drops and ointment in her eyes.  She still remembers and probably always will, but as I catch her, to just groom her and make her feel good and leave her eyes alone, I am hoping all that eye care will sit farther back in her memory banks and slowly fade away.

I see the way these horses appreciate the TLC that comes with the grooming and the way they truly relax and hang their head down in complete joyful submission and am eager for the time that Cinnabon will allow me to do the same with her.  But to do that safely I will really need to have her haltered and we haven't gotten that far along yet. I am still just getting her used to me being close and touching her - lots of pressure there.  But soon. I haven't worked on haltering her at all this week because it is too slippery in her stall, but next week if it dries out more, we will be right back at it.   I one day soon I hope it will be her enjoying that full body massage feeling that comes with a nice gentle grooming.

These horses are true treasures.  Though we've had trials of them fighting me because of the health care treatment they needed, or the fear they show because of the sad situation they were in before they got here, or just never having been touched, once they decompress and learn to trust, they trust AND depend and what a gift it is for a horse to trust and depend on me....these animals that can live in the wild for years and years without needing to trust or depend on a soul.  

So in this season of giving gifts, I have been given the ultimate from the horses here at the rescue, trust and dependence.  How privileged I am to care for the precious creatures that you all help support so we can move them on to good, fulfilling lives with families that love and care for them.   Your kindness and generosity allow us to meet all their well-being needs so they can relax, be horses, feel loved and thrive.  You are each a part of this wonderful and loving process and I must say I think we make quite a team.

All of us working together for the health and well-being of the horses.

So tomorrow morning when I look out my window, I will check the frost on the roof to see if it is time to start the morning ritual that shows these horses just how much you care...   Did you ever really think frost was that important???   Well now you know!

Thank you all for your continued support.     If you would like to make a holiday donation to care for the horses on behalf of that person who is hard to buy for, I will send them a special card letting them know that a holiday gift was made in their name to help care for the horses at EqWBR.  I have done several so far and it has been a lot of fun.

I suspect that the recipient will be delighted that their holiday gift, instead of being something that will end up being tucked away and never used, regifted or used as a white elephant, will be caring for animals that can't care for themselves.  

Let me know if you would like to do this and we can get it done before the holidays. Give me a call at 760-703-4860 or send me an email at, and I will get the gift cards in the mail the same day.    Again, we can't thank you enough for all of your loving support.....


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Update on Bambi & Diesel


As Bambi and Diesel continue to recover their health and get their energy back, it is Bambi who has bounced back the quickest (if over a month is quick) and this week she was definitely feeling her Wheaties.  Several times I saw her bouncing around in their stall trying to kick up her heels and blow off some energy in a 12' x 18' space.  Amazing how quickly she can put the brakes on.....

In the midst of her frivolity and jumping for joy was poor Diesel.  Still not 100%, not only did he look at her like she was NUTS, he was trying to very unsuccessfully stay out of the way of the tornado in the stall.  No longer showing any symptoms of strangles or even the slightest runny nose from the weather, we decided it was time for her to go!    

Go to her own stall that is and we just happened to have one right next to Cinnabon's stall.  So today was the day for the big move.  She is stepping up to a large 48' x 24' stall and she decided to try every inch of it once she realized that there was room to move around.  Talk about bucking and snorting, let's add some rearing and pawing at the air, not to mention a few moves I don't think there are names for.  Heaven, pure heaven.  I got some video that I will post as soon as I get a chance to edit, that shows just how much fun she was having.

Air Bambi having the time of her life running around.

The entire time Cinnabon, in the adjoining stall, looks on wondering, "who is that flake going berserk in the stall next to me?".  I think she was getting dizzy just watching Bambi going in fun-filled circles.  Diesel on the other hand, never took his face out of the feeder thinking, "man, I get this all to myself!".

We had some special guests come for a visit today.  A young lady named Mackenzie (not sure of the spelling) who is thinking she may want her own horse, came with her mom and brother to see what horses were all about.  Her mom thought she might get a feel for the work involved if she got a chance to volunteer to help some horses that needed some extra TLC.   How very cute is was to watch a young horse and a young lady get to know each other.  By the time Mackenzie left, Bambi was following her around on the lead line and stopping when she stopped and it was clear to all that they enjoyed each others company.  Cutest part was they could look at each other eye to eye....just the right size!  She will be returning to put some more volunteer time in with Bambi.

After they left it was time for Cinnabon and Bambi to get to know each other across the pipe panels.  A lot of teeth clacking from Bambi and Cinnabon swung her butt around a few times, as if to say, "I'm the one in charge here!".  But there was no kicking or bad manners.   They are much closer in size to each other than Bambi and Diesel and I noticed that Bambi's six month teeth are starting to come in so I think they are 3-4 month apart in age.

Bambi is checking out Cinnabon on the other side of the panel

Since Bambi has become so used to being handled by people and enjoys the hands on attention so much, I hope it will rub off on Cinnabon and she will open up to me handling her more and more.   She is my next big challenge.  

Diesel seemed to miss Bambi a little bit this afternoon, they were whinnying across the driveway to each other and there was quite a conversation going on between the two of them.   Even Cinnabon joined in the conversation for a short time.   I wish I could understand what they were saying to each other.  

I knew he was glad to have his own space when I watched him spread out to take a nap in the sun.  He stretched out as far as he could from toe to toe.   I was in cleaning the stall and while he was laying down he let me pick out all his feet.  They were loaded with thrush when he came and now they are looking normal and he is getting really good at having his feet handled.  Either laying down or standing up.  

As you can tell from the picture on top, we had some fun today taking pictures.  I need to get a Santa hat to put on him.  I had several and a thorough search will be made tomorrow to see if I can put my hands on them.    He's my little doll baby and loves playing dress up!!!  Getting him ready for a future riding in parades with fun costumes on.  

I wanted to say a special thank you to Jan T and Linda H for their donations to help the horses at EqWBR.   Linda made her donation as a Christmas gift for Lisa and Tony.   What a wonderful gift to give!

If you would like to help out during this Holiday season, donations can be sent to 
PO Box 324, Ramona, CA 92065


The generosity of so many caring people allows us to care for these horses in need.  Thank you all so much!

Christine, Founder