Have you ever seen one? A monstrous, white dinosaur that reaches all the way up to your knee while it fluffs its ominous black tail feathers and gives you the death glare?
Emilie isn’t usually afraid of chickens. There were chickens on the farm we bought her from, two years ago. Chickens aren’t frightening. Heck, when we moved to the new barn two weeks ago, she seemed happy to see chickens again. Chickens were a comforting sight.
The arrival of another new pony this week changed things. The new guy is extremely stressed out and has little to no experience being handled by humans. He seems to never really have learned how to socialize either, whether with horses or humans. New guy is neither dumb nor mean but obviously, there’s been elevated stress levels in the herd (since then, he’s been put in a separate pasture with two older geldings to help him settle in).
I’ve probably mentioned that Emilie is firmly convinced that she is a boy. The other day she went into full stallion mode as I was walking her in from pasture. Those who’ve seen me walking Emilie on a lead know that in our case this means, she walks, I kind of lean in over her for support, and she paces herself to be my living crutch. She’s a very caring horse that way. And protective.
Particularly against devilsaurs.
The farm’s chickens had decided to nap out in the courtyard. Emilie came to a crashing halt, puffed herself up with tail high and round neck like a stallion defending his herd. Then she shouldered me away until she was firmly between me and the vicious raptor gang. We walked sideways to the barn door, her shielding me with her own heroic flesh.
I’m still giggling gratefully. Giggling because it looked friggin’ hilarious, and grateful because I own a horse who sees me as a herd mate that she wants to protect.
Emilie got to be out with the herd for an hour today, introducing her to most of the other horses at the new barn. She immediately formed a group with her barn neighbour, Icelandic horse Gäskir, which was then joined by little grey Blomme who seems to love everyone as long as they have four legs. Pinto herd leader Tush allowed her into his herd but kept her separate from the other horses for now.
Fjord horse Loke took one look at Emilie and went for a nap — and he’s supposed to be the grumpy one!
Emilie will only be doing 1-2 hour pasture visits this week so that we can be sure that she doesn’t eat enough through the mouthguard to cause her laminitis to flare up again. But from the looks of it, she’ll fit in just fine.
Emilie came down with laminitis on all four legs two days ago. In spite of the pain and the stress from the treatment (no food, no pasture, no nothing), she is able to talk to me. This morning she did not want her treatment.
Every morning this week I give her an injection in the neck, for pain relief and lowering her blood pressure. The vet showed me how to do it Saturday. I may have turned a little green around the nose Sunday, but I got it done without Emilie catching on to my discomfort (I’m terrified of needles). This morning, when I approached with the needle, Emilie moved away.
I walked after her and pinched her neck skin lightly as one does, to distract her from the incoming needle. She flattened her ears and glared at me. At this point I remembered how sore muscles get when nurses keep jabbing in the same place day after day. So I pinched her 5 cms further to the right — and voila! She stood statue still and relaxed.
Tomorrow I’m going to jab her on the other side of the neck while I quietly give thanks for how good horses are at communicating if you’ll just listen to them. No stress, no panic, no anxiety. Just letting me know that this spot is sore. Please give the injection a little to the side of yesterday’s spot.
I’m ever impressed with how much information horses can convey with how little voice. I’m no horse whisperer, but my horse certainly can whisper me a thing or two.
It’s been a while, and what a while; one of those whiles where you struggle to keep swimming and at some point you look back and realize that six months went by without you really noticing. But I’m not dead yet, and as long as there’s life there’s hope.
I did not get to do much with Emilie in this long while. She’s still struggling with back pains, and I am still struggling with fibromyalgia. Together we exercise from the ground – she needs to practise lifting her hind quarters over cavalettis and using her hips correctly, and I need to walk, any kind of walk. It’s harder than it sounds like, and I’m still not sure how I feel about my new walker-rollator. On one hand it means I can leave the house – on the other hand it kind of feels like giving up on ever walking unaided again.
My health has been down the crapper this autumn. I’ve been through the proverbial wringer, with hospital visits and with testing out new medication options. At this time it seems low-dose Naltrexone works best for me. It does not reduce my pain, but it does give me some energy and ability to cope in spite of the pain. The Combar that I was put on in order to solve my not sleeping due to pain issues has to go – it has weight gain and muscle pain as a side effect, and I’ve gained 10 kilos in three months in spite of moving more about than I used to.
In spite of the last two paragraphs, though, this is not a venting session or pity rant. The structure of my life is holding together. The framework is solid. I woke up this morning with the strangest sensation of relief; the proverbial manure hit the fan a couple of times, but the windmill is still standing. If there’s something to be grateful in life, it’s the ability to cope with crisis and still be there afterwards. I’ll never take that for granted.
Ah well. Onwards, let life speak for itself in pictures.
What comes next? Only time will tell. Life’s being a bit of a female canine at the moment but it tends to go on anyhow. A mountain of trouble may seem like a road bump six months later. I’m not dead yet.
Summer is being rough on me this year. The heatwave that began in May shows no sign of letting go anytime soon. Everything is bone dry and the air is full of dust. The heat is not doing my fibromyalgia any favours. But one thing can be said for this very atypical hot Danish summer: It’s beautiful. I’ve spent more time in my garden this summer than in the twenty years previous at the old house.
I planted wildflower seeds in a big pot on the terrace in order to feed my never-ending love for cornflowers. The outcome is a little weird. There’s all sorts of other flowers in there too, but it’s the pink cornflower that baffles me. I had no idea cornflowers could be pink. Cornflowers range from white over pale blue to dark cobalt blue. Maybe this one’s just colour blind.
We live close to the river so there is a lot of wetlands wildlife in the area. We see toads all the time, and salamanders are fairly common too. But the ones we usually see are smooth newts, by far the most common in Denmark; this big fella is northern crested newt which is a rare and protected species here.
No one who knows my husband will be surprised to hear that we now have salamander-friendly patches and watering holes under the rhododendrons. I’m hoping to meet adders out there too. The neighbour claims to see adders in his garden all the time. I love them.
I can spend hours just looking at the wildflowers. I have no idea what those pink ones between the morning glories and cornflowers are, but they are absolutely gorgeous. The husband built bee hotels in the yard and now that everything is so dry and dead, the wild bees are here in droves to check out those wildflowers.
It’s so dry here now that when we go to the barn and water the horses in the pasture, wasps turn up in droves to drink. Look at the soil; there’s no moisture in the earth anywhere. We’ve had the hottest May on record ever, June and July have not let us off the hook. It’s pretty, but I will admit, it’s taking its toll on people and animals alike.
There’s only one family member who absolutely loves the dry dusty heat. It’s great for certain purposes!