Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Of cowards and courage

Today a bit of a rant.

Last Friday, there erupted on the local Craigslist (of all places!) a nasty series of posts regarding haying, farmers, quality of the hay, etc. Someone obviously is really unhappy with the prices farmers charge here, and one of the participants took pains to take a swipe at me personally.

Let me just call it out now-whoever posted to me, is a coward!

Not enough backbone to sign their name, and not even brave enough to chose to accept return emails via the Craigslist remailer. Having done hay up here, I am sure my anger was echoed by the many hard working folks attempting agriculture here in Alaska. I was furious at the exchange of misinformation and the general concensus that they are all out to rip people off.

Myself included of course-I mean, who else brings in van loads of hay to the Valley, and uses a forklift to offload? No one. Which is how it was easy to deduce the post was aimed directly at me personally. Since I seldom post the landed price online anywhere (because I typically don't know exactly what it will be until just a few days before it arrives anyway) except a local Yahoo group, I know it originated from someone who is either on the group-or has a buddy forwarding stuff to them.

They claim that my cost is under $400 a ton for hay.

Here's my response-it includes the offending post:

Reply to: sale-769517842@craigslist.org
Date: 2008-07-25, 9:26AM AKDT

$3000 / 22 = $136
+ $235 if you believe that you can get it a for a lot less even one person admits she pays $150 for her stuff but charges over $500 when it gets here

$136 + $235 = $371
$136 + $150 = $286

if it costs another couple hundred dollars to get it from the port spread that over 22 tons and it adds maybe $10 a ton

that means the hay costs around $300-$385 to get it here but those same people selling it for $500 a ton and more are claiming they are all doing us a favor and selling it at cost

funny that their costs is so different depending on who's asking! ever wonder why the price is never mentioned in public?


Since this is an OBVIOUS slam at me personally.....here you go, a FEW FACTS for your enlightenment.

The cost to ship a van from L48 is MORE than $3000. Why don't you take that number, and add in the fuel surcharge? Its over 30%. Add in another $1000, approximately, with another surcharge increase coming in October of about $14, $15 a ton. Growers COST is over $200 a ton. Of course the grower shouldn't make a profit for his labor and investment, right? Because after all, everyone is out to rip off the horse hay buying public, right? Gimme me a break!

Then, must be moved from farm (trucking!!) to the press. Pressing COST is $50 a TON. Weighing and wrapping, or just wrapping, is another $10 to $15 a TON. From there, must get to port (more trucking!! Know what it costs to roll a semi these days?) Do you think the hay magically loads itself into the containers or what? More expense! Then there is destination charge-what you get to pay for bringing the van to your location. What's it cost YOU to drive to Anchorage and back with a semi? What do you think the overhead is for a professional commercial truck driver per hour?

Gee, I add it up to about $450 a ton, before all the trucking! And, I don't know the exact cost of the hay to the grower....but it IS more than $200 a ton. My most recent invoice is for $13,939.20. I have it on my home computor. I'll be happy to email you the scan if you need proof.

I spend $70 a load mailing back the ropes on the bundles. My phone bill goes up another $45 each vanload. I spend about $50 a month for ads-whether I have a van or not each month. I have to reimburse my boss for equipment time and fuel. I also give up two weekends for each van, usually 8 hours per day. I spend many hours putting these loads together, speaking with people, showing the hay that I have on hand, trying to get them what they need.

Since you are convinced I am ripping people off, please feel free to step into the void and DO IT YOURSELF. Contract for some Anderson hay from WA state, see what it costs to get it here-and hope you get GOOD hay, not junk since you are new at it!

Blogger back in:

A follow up post detailed the use of the forklift and loading it into pickups. And in my attempted response to them, I didn't even include the extra $150 to $250 it costs me to hire some help should the van be impossible to offload using equipment. If it has to be done by hand, you can bet the majority of the customers here aren't going to work at it! Nope, they would rather sit in their truck and watch someone else load it for them-and some even expect it.

I guess my point here is that I don't have to do this. I do it because I prefer to feed the finest quality hay I can get to the horses in my care. I do it because other people do recognize it, rely upon it, because some horses don't fare well on other forages, because some are deadly allergic to local, etc. We need this source here-and you can bet what I charge is cheaper BY WEIGHT than what you can find at the feed stores-and higher quality too!

But I sure don't need to be accused of lying.

I have been called all number of things over the years-it doesn't bother me since a lot of it is probably true :) Opinionated, forceful, too aggressive, independent, know-it-all, etc. But no one has EVER called me a liar before-and for good reason. It doesn't happen.

So, all you lookie-lou's here.....pass it along to your buddies and the folks that are having you snoop on their behalf-I will be happy to discuss the hay cost, more than willing to fax the invoice on the vans. I am more than happy to explain that the 30 to 40 hours I devote to each van is NOT tacked onto the price. And when you are unable to purchase local hay due to the poor supply, and feed store is out (and that happens too) I will not ever turn anyone away. I care about horses too much for that-and I don't let ego and jealousy dictate my feed choices.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The search goes on

Here it is Thursday morning already. I still am lost without my buddy Jethro.

Still looking, of course.

Not for lack of trying though. Here's what I have done so far:

About 75 or a 100 color flyers put up around the area: Stop signs, power poles, mailbox stands. Post offices, espresso stands, convenience stores. Local restaurants, feed stores, veterinary clinics and PetZoo. Flyers at both local animal control agencies, and listed on the Anchorage one as well. Ads up on Craigslist in both pets and lost/found, local Valley paper-and getting one into Anchorage Daily News somehow today.

Between myself and my wonderful husband, we have put about 25 or 30 miles on the four wheeler, searching all the nearby trails-and way more than that on my car as my son and I drove the subdivision roads-stopping to talk to anyone who would give us a minute and take a flyer. I have been mostly concentrating on the immediate area, since I have two reports of Jethro being in the company of another dog-medium sized, dark (black??) and "fluffy, maybe long haired"

The first report is rather fuzzy-just someone who said she saw "a small black and white dog playing with another fluffy long haired black dog at the end of my driveway" sometime in the "afternoon" on Friday the 18th. Jethro took off about 5pm so that is a possible since the location is only two blocks away. No concrete time, the lady does not wear a watch.

The second report is much better-positively identified (YAY!!) on Sunday morning between 9:30 and 10 am, in a backyard which abuts a recently cleared powerline. I missed him by TWO HOURS on Sunday *sniff* He was in the company of another dog-again, black and fluffy, medium sized-not a giant of a dog like a Newfy. On that Sunday we dashed home and hopped on the four wheeler, spending at least five hours working the area with no results.

The third "sighting" is a response I got from my CL ad. The woman says she saw a tri colored sheltie on Monday.....but the location is totally way far away-up Lucille at Crestwood. This area is just northeast of downtown Wasilla proper, and is easily 10 miles away from home. Now, since my area had a bunch of garage sales on the weekend, it's possible he was picked up and taken somewhere else.

I hope so. In the adjoining subdivisions nearby, there really aren't any loose dogs. Unlike my own neighborhood with larger parcels and folks letting the dogs roam (for the most part) on their own lands. But I have spoken to ALL immediate neighbors and everyone knows everyone elses' dogs and where they belong.

I am hoping my efforts pay off. It was really difficult to go to MSBACR yesterday, and walk through the kennels-and not find him there. Even though I know they are good about checking the lost dog book-I was hopeful. Sigh.

The only concrete thing I did was try to correct them about a dog they have identifed as a Apfenpinscher (OK I know that is wrong, sorry!!) mix which is really a Border Terrier-I should know, I bred them years ago. But they are convinced they have the dog's breed correct and won't listen to me. I feel so badly for the folks looking for a Border Terrier mix!

As the rain continues, I see fresh snow on the mountains now that the clouds have lifted a bit. 46 degrees at my house this morning and I hope my little Jethro is safe and sound inside someone's home :(

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A part of me is lost

This Sunday morning, I am depsondent and weepy.

Friday evening I got home a little bit early, which was a nice treat. As usual, I went to the barn first to check on everyone and hand out scrtchies and pats. Even though it was a little early, I went ahead and fed out some hay, and then decided to check on the greenhouse.

As Joey and I headed down the small hill, I left Jethro at the barn-contentedly standing amongst the chickens.

That's the last time I have seen my dog.

I have been searching nonstop since, and my heart is broken. My poor little Jethro, a rescue I got nearly starved to death who has been at my side for almost two years. He has always been at my feet, or within 15 feet, every single day. He is unsure and frightens easily (obviously haven been beaten severely) and loud noises scare him badly. He doesn't generally approach strangers but will gleefully play with dogs, any dog. I have been scouring the local neighborhood, and yesterday I printed up some flyers and got them on power poles.

A good friend brought over a photo she had of him late yesterday, which I have made into yet another flyer, and I have 50 copies printed so far. I have called the two local AC offices and left a report, put ads up on Craigslist. I have been going over in my mind what could possibly have happened, and this is all I can conclude:

He got spooked by something (although I don't recall any loud noises??) and took off out our driveway. (There is a dog he loves to play with at the end of the street) From there, he kept going, possibly hooking up with a solid black "fluffy" dog on Sunset (did not learn about this until too late). I have a hunch he kept playing, and when that dog eventually went home, he went along. And they kept him.

I have scoured the ditches via four wheeler, driven every road within about a mile and a half, and he is nowhere to be seen. Since I know he is not a big traveler by nature, I am pretty sure he is somewhere with children and another dog.

The alternative does not bear thinking about.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Makin' hay....or trying to!

I am sure glad I am not actively working a hayfield this year.

The weather has been extremely difficult for putting in a good, dry crop. First, we had the late April snows....followed by a slow, cool spring. Soil temps stayed cold, and are still below normal even now, mid July. Then, we have had week after week of cloudy weather, interspersed with a few days of sunshine. Despite the overcast, there has not been a lot of rain, so much of the crop for first cutting was thin and short.

The high humidity and seemingly endless cycles of intermittent light rains has made it darn near impossible to get a crop up-we have only had one stretch of dry weather lasting five days-all summer. And yes, it takes about five days to harvest.

One day to mow
One day to leave lay, or ted
One day to ted
One day to windrow/rake
One day to bale

Any really heavy dew or light rain, or even a sprinkle, can set back this schedule by as much as two days. And that is per field, mind you. Large farms with 100s of acres in hay, this stretches out over ten to 12 days unless you have unlimited equipment and skilled operators at the wheel of the tractors. Not very likely here, where there are usually only a handful of people willing to work that many hours in a day.

Again, circumstances have conspired to create a situation where there will not be very much horse quality hay available coming into winter-certainly not even close to satisfying the demand. It's rather become a recurring theme for horse owners here, and until the weather pattern changes (El Nina? Jet stream? CMEs? Global warming? Take your pick!) we will be stuck with it.

So if you can find good hay, stock up. I have a hunch there is not going to be much clean dry hay come December :(

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Elephant, part 2

So, here we are, saddled with high energy prices. I won't go into the complex subject of just why it's high-I'll just offer that they won't be going down. Ever.

So what can a horse owner in Alaska do to shave expenses?

The first and foremost thing you can do is keep your horse healthy!

This means, don't scrimp where it is most important-your veterinary care. Stay on top of vaccinations, dental care, don't skip deworming. Take advantage of clinics the veterinarians offer, find someone in your neighborhood to split call out fees with, or haul if you must. Liquid deworming products can be ordered online, for much less than the paste wormers OTC at the feed store-get with a buddy and order some. Dental care is best left to professionals, but a horse that cannot chew effectively is costing you a lot in the way of extra hay and/or grain. Whether you chose an expert vet, or a practicing visitor is your call-but at least make sure the teeth are checked at least once yearly.

Proper farriery is critical to a healthy horse, don't cut back there either. If you normally shoe, try barefoot for at least the winter months when riding is curtailed. Keep in mind that a barefoot trim, is not the same as one for shoes. If you don't know what a healthy hoof should look like, there is a wealth of information available on the net to learn from-here's a few:


And there are many others. Going 12 or 16 weeks between trims is not helping your horse remain either sound, or healthy. My own personal schedule is every four weeks, and because of this I have a very sound horse with very tough feet. Barefoot will not work with every horse-but if you make the commitment, follow through. It's not rocket science and in a pinch an educated owner can do a minimal trim and not harm the horse. Besides, thirty or forty bucks every four weeks, is a heck of a lot cheaper than $130 every six :)

Hay. Oh boy the hay. If you are going to feed low quality, coarse local hay, realize that it does not provide balanced nutrition. Balanced nutrition is the key to a healthy horse-and while some may look pretty hefty with a belly full of crappy hay, you can bet you aren't taking care of the insides very well. I consider the horse an intricate mechanism of digestion (and it is) and deciding which method is both economical and good for the horse is a tough one.

For myself, I feed the majority of roughage in premium imported hays. I have found over the years, that the additonal money I spend up front, means I will spend much less in other areas. For one, I don't have any loss due to mold or spoilage. This is a big thing when I have lost 100's of dollars worth of hay over the years when it molded-even when stored carefully. Since the hay is nearly completely leaf (instead of stems) and very soft, there is almost no waste whatever. Another savings, as anyone who feeds rounds bales will agree: there is one heckuva lot of wasted hay feeding rounds (unless you strip it off by hand). Another advantage for me is that my expense for grain is minimal. I feed other elements to plug the missing nutrients, and it works quite well. The horses are round (carrying weight well over the hips and loin), shiny, blooming with health and have plenty of energy too. They receive just enough of my mix of rations to get the mineral sup down, and that's all they need.

Don't skip the vitamin mineral supplements either. In this case, you can't really see evidence of being economical-but, it is there, brewing on the insides. Eventually you will notice changes in hair coat, the way the weight is carried on the frame, energy levels, and perhaps even gait changes. The feet will change, the pattern of hair growth and loss as well. Whatever you choose, stick with it, and to stave off other issues, add more vitamin e if your horse has no access to pasture during the summer months.

Do I feed straight imported hays? Not as a rule. I search out the best local hay I can find, and part of the diet always includes local (except for recovery horses) and plenty of it. My target for roughage is 2 percent of body weight per day of hay, minimum. This is to maintain healthy gut function as is recommended by most veterinarians and equine nutritionists. In the winter months, I feed enough hay that each horse has at least eight hours of hay-and free feed when the temps drop off severely. I also provide a warm beet pulp mash nightly, with additonal salt to encourage them to drink enough water to safely process all that extra hay. I have yet to remove a blanket after a cold spell, and see weight loss ;)

Another handy money saving tip is investing in timers. These little gadgets will cut your stock tank heater bill by enough to pay for itself the first month. All of my stock tanks are well insulated and placed on pallets off the ground. Each has a 1500 watt stock tank heater installed, and each is plugged into a timer when needed. You can set them to come on and off twice a day...the most I have had to set them for was a total of ten hours a day-but your location will vary from mine. I figured out a few years back that a 1500 watt heater working nonstop could boost your electric bill by $90! The timer costs under $20, you can find them at SBS. In the winter, with three tank heaters and lights going nonstop, my electric bill jumps only by about $50 a month. I think those timers have paid for themselves many times over ;)

I am sure you are thinking-well, that sounds great, but it doesn't seem like it would save any money doing things that way. Right?

Well, on the other hand, I don't have repeated vet calls to cope with diet related issues: laminitis, colics, allergies (although some come with them, I admit), they are "easy keepers", and no one seems to get sick as a result of my approach. I monitor each horse carefully as to condition and because of this, I notice anything amiss right away.

So, all you thrifty Alaskan horse owners, chime in with your tips and tricks for keeping a horse both healthy, without busting the wallet!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Elephant

Time to address the elephant in our lives:

Fuel prices.

Just today I am seeing rumors over the net of oil reaching $200 a barrel, some saying a couple years, some saying by Christmas. This puts a gallon of gasoline somewhere in the $7 plus range, and diesel over $8.

Now think about this for a minute or two, if you would......

A can of Campbell's soup is already nearly $2. A loaf of good bread, about $4. Eggs are what? $3.79 a dozen? Milk is still managing to stay under $4 a gallon when marketed as a loss leader by the grocery stores. Sugar is already fifty cents a pound, and nearly the same for flour. Dried beans in small packages are pushing $2 a pound. Almost all meat or protien is a minimum of $3 a pound.....including peanut butter. Butter can be had for $4 a pound too.

And let's talk about hay and grain. Locally, it has been a dismal year so far, for yeilds and weather. We just haven't had any sun! Cool and cloudy for week after week, and no rain when it's needed, and too much at the wrong time for good quality hay. We can hope for a decent second cutting, but I won't be holding my breath for that. Supplies in the PNW are not that great, but shipping is through the (very high) roof and continuing to rise. I have been telling hay customers to stock up as much as they can as I expect landed cost to surpass $600 a ton by the first of the year. Grains are skyrocketing in the Lower 48 as well, with some areas paying triple what the price is on a bag of similar feed locally. This just means the increases have not trickled their way up our supply chain as yet-but it's coming.

What is going to happen up here, as a practical matter, when oil reaches that high?

People are not going to be able to get to work on wages that have not risen at the same pace, without carpooling if they can. People will start cutting back, and back, and back. But still, you can't very well go without heat in Alaska in the winter. And this is where I see the real crunch coming. Some will pack up and leave while they can. Others will have their hands out for a rescue from the State. And some will go broke making fuel bills as large as mortgage payments. Smarter folks, or old timers, have already prepared for the coming winter. Discretionary spending will cease, and many small businesses will fold-putting more folks out of work. The trucking industry will crumble (its already on life support) and moving goods from ports and producers, into cities and small towns will become difficult. This will mean spot shortages on consumables from time to time, for sure.

Alaskans being the self reliant bunch they are (for the most part) I have not heard a peep about anyone thinking of forming a grocery or feed co-op. It takes a LOT of money to put together even one van (I should know, a van of hay is well over $12,000)and while it may seem out of reach, I do think it could be done with enough participation.

More on this subject coming.....

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Changes and chances

I haven't posted very much about the gardening. Well, if you can really call it gardening this year-it's more like slo-mo growth. Week after week of cool cloudy weather, with a few days summer sun here and there does not make for any sort of yeild. When I started this blog, I had a prize winning dill plant, and this year, they all remain knee high. I have only a few baby zucchini on the dozen plants-most of them seem to be in "do nothing" mode, and even giving them a boost isn't helping.

I have some decent sized cukes in the greenhouse, and lots of small green tomatoes. The small broccoli heads are ready for eating, with some coming along. A few of the cabbages look like they are thinking about growing heads, but the brussel sprouts just remain the same size. Flowers are trying to form on the green beans, but the peas are just flat lousy....and usually peas are a given up here. The only peas really looking good are the "spear-a-mint" (as my son called it, for "experiment") in the greenhouse-three pots stuffed with peas who have already grown taller than the outdoor ones planted three weeks before. The flowers look marginally okay....very slow as well and quite a bit smaller than last year at this time. Heck, I have hardly had any blooms on my roses-but I sure have buds! Spuds are creeping along and I should have a few blooms here over the next two weeks. Again, a large disappointment, along with the onions which I accidentally overwatered. Just chanced to be a poor year, and nothing to be done about it.

The new woodstove was installed last week, and we have been experimenting with it's operation. Boy have things changed since the 70s! This one has "catalytic combustion" and once stoked, lasts easily 24 hours....and boy does it put out the heat! We have been trying fans in different places to move the heat around, and we're getting a handle on that-but it's taking some getting used to a warm house with warm floors :) But I won't kid you, it's a tremendous amount of hard work, putting up firewood. My wonderful husband has done the majority, since the logs were so large (and green) that I could not even pick them up once sawn to length! I run the borrowed splitter and stack, along with my son. The young boy does it grudgingly of course, but manages to be a big help with a bit of motivation.

I am working to get a couple vanloads of hay organized, before we get zapped with additional freight surcharges. One van ordered already and half of a second spoken for. I too, need to get a good supply on hand because I never know exactly how many horses I will be feeding each winter.

Chubs is doing great....he is dropping a bit of weight due to being so active with the three mares, and is providing all sorts of comic relief out there. Poor old coot. A few more months is all he has and I am thrilled he has them on real pasture, loose to romp, graze and just plain be a horse. What more could a person ask for?

Wingnut may have found a new person....I am very hopeful that the kind hearted and very experienced person who came to see her, will follow through. I imagine we'll be hauling her into Anchorage in the next week or two. You know, I am going to miss her antics and I know for a fact that my totally, completely non horsey husband is going to be really depressed about this. It is the best thing that could happen for her, she needs someone to shower her with attention, and help her become the horse I know she could be. For me, it's amazing to see the changes in this horse over a couple of years. So Wingnut has a chance at a wonderful future, and more capable hands I could not find.

Another boarder has not been so lucky....facing financial disaster, she must offer up her mare for sale. I really feel for the horse and the owner, as they really clicked. I hope they both come out the other side in a good place. As a small part of this, I am going to be carpooling into work on some days. I will welcome the companionship, and look forward to it. I have often thought it just silly that no one has organized a ride share out my way-but honestly I can't think of one place where a whole bunch of vehicles could be parked. Perhaps some enterprising individual can figure it out, as the small buses that commute to Anchorage every day have a waiting list of nearly 1000. Wow, who would have thought that Alaskans would give up their pickup trucks?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Independence Day

This 4th of July was spent quietly. Not one vehicle drove past our driveway, and we puttered about in the heat-splitting firewood and doing other outside chores. It was a high cloud, hazy day, so supplies for the day consisted of sunglasses, glasses of ice water or sun tea, and hand towels to wipe the sweat away.

So far this weekend I have managed to get most of the gardening done, water and weed elsewhere, make a whopping big cheesecake, and generally not work at anything too hard. We have the perennials placed where they need to go-but rototilling is on the back burner while we deal with firewood. We fired up the new woodstove and have quickly learned it is much different than the older stoves we grew up with-it's now a rather toasty 79 degrees inside, lol

Last week my wonderful husband ran up to the one farmer whose hay I prefer-and brought back nearly 100 bales of freshly baled local grass hay. It's wonderfully dry and while the bales may be lighter than I prefer, it's great stuff. The horses are digging into it with relish, always the "quality control" I can rely upon. I am delighted to have secured another load, due sometime in September. As usual, space is at a premium and I have no idea exactly where I am going to put it! My wonderful hub loaded the hay by himself while I was working, taking along our son-too young to drive the fields as yet. Having done this more times than I can count, I am suitably thankful for his efforts :)

Also last week, I posted an ad on CL, and on a local group about Wingnut. I had one person come out who spent some time with her, and it went well considering no one has done anything with her in nearly a year. Inside of six minutes they "joined up" as its known, and I was very pleased to see Wingnut turn into putty in the womans' capable, quiet hands. Alas, they chose not to go forwards with a lease. The horse would have been for her talented, experienced daughter-and a lease is not really what they had in mind. As I mentioned previously, the owner is unwilling to let go, period. Really too bad, it would have been a wonderful home for her.

Today I am working at contacting several other people about Wingnut, whose inquiries I found in my inbox. I won't hold my breath as it will take that special someone to click with her, like she has with my decidedly unhorsey husband.

For example, this weekend the trimmer and I discovered (much to our dismay) that someone has seriously thumped on her over the winter (probably). We base this assumption on the mare's outright fear of having anyone touch the one hindquarter in order to pick up a hind leg. We attempted to do this in the stall, and after a couple of backing sessions, it was obvious that she was ramping up into something explosive. So, I walked her over to the arena/round pen, and made her work off the excess nervous energy. Five minutes worth of speed work and she was more than ready to stop-and stood quite well for the balance of the trim. This was a big surprise to us both since previously Wingnut had shown no fear at all-I now wonder if there might have been some sort of wreck at Belardi's, it would coincide with the scrapes and marks on her hindquarters when she arrived. What happened, I have no idea....but I do know she shows fear and it will take some positive reinforcement and careful handling to get through it for a while. She also now has a scar on the back of her fetlock that was not there when she left....I can only speculate about what happened. Thus it falls to me to start working with her hindquarters in the hopes we can get her through this, as no one has been over to see her in weeks.

Today has started off rainy, although it's rather warm out. The dog has found a small nook here, away from the woodstove to take a morning snooze. The cats have curled up into fuzzballs, as high as they can find a spot and they are sleeping too.

And me? I am going to watch the balance of Sunday Morning with a fresh cup of coffee, and hopefully....find a new person for Wingnut today.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Being unreasonable

I see examples of being unreasonable all over the place-and not just at the grocery store :)

But I had a specific situation in mind this morning. A regular topic on this blog is the mare I fondly call "Wingnut"

Really, she's a sweetheart of a mare, with a great temperament and attitude. Curious, friendly, and oh so smart-she's much more like a gelding in that way than the majority of mares I have spent time around-or owned for that matter. She may have arrived with the ground manners of a troll, but with some gentle, consistent handling she's turned into a good horse. She still needs some education on the ground (such as getting past her fear of the hose so she can be bathed without a bucket) but the outright panic over a blanket, her flight response to a correction with a lead rope and whatnot, have disappeared for good. She hasn't a mean bone in her body, although she does have her moments when she just needs to bust loose and let go of excess energy. When that happens, she spends about a half hour bombing around at high speed, and can sometimes be difficult to stop. This is just a result of my high caliber diet, her personality, and a youthful exuberance.

So I have fully recovered this mare now, she looks great. Just needs to get that muscling in the right spots which will come only through proper exercise. I have pretty much financed the recovery out of my own pocket, and it hasn't been cheap. The owner is unable to pay full board due to health and income reasons, and I have been urging a lease or sale.

The owner adamantly refuses to sell the horse, which is where being unreasonable touches this situation. I understand the emotional support that just owning horses gives to someone in distress. There is nothing quite like the "pay off" you get from a good cry on your horses' mane-cheaper than psychologists is what I tell folks who wonder what the attraction is :)

So while I can see the need to hang on, on the other hand I feel it's unreasonable to expect someone else to fund that support. It's unreasonable to presume that an 8 year old grade mare, with little basic training, who recieves no attention whatever from her owner, is magically going to be cared for for free. No one wants to make the emotional or financial investment into a horse they do not own or want.

Compassion for the owner and the horse, is why Wingnut is happily munching away on breakfast in the sunshine at my place right now. It's why I agreed to take her back when I first learned of the impoundment and her condition. It's why I have offered to help place her into some other situation since the owner cannot afford full board. It's why I emailed a large number of folks in the horse community about her, and spent quite a bit of time typing responses, emailing photos and genreally doing what I can to make the best of an uncertain situation.

It's unreasonable to expect the perfect person will step forward in these economic times. It's unreasonable to expect me to care for the horse either. It's unreasonable to expect anyone to lease given her shortcomings, given the number of horses available right now with real training. It's unreasonable that the owner cannot even manage a phone call, cannot manage to groom her horse, cannot manage to take any active part whatever in the horse. Any communication is done through a third party, which is also unreasonable.

Is it so unreasonable that I am about to lose my temper over this? Probably not! Would I blame the horse? Of course not-she's a peach-or will be with the right person. What's unreasonable is that I seem to have the entire thing in my lap, by default.