Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2016 >Daily Dispatch #50

February 21, 2016: We Be Alaskans - brrrrr

Up until yesterday, it had been a mild February, with near everyone talking about it being spring – or close to it. It now seems like those of us who live in southcentral Alaska had been lulled into a false sense of complacency. The temperature took a downturn and the winds picked up. Nevertheless, the day progressed (at least for a bit) as though it was yet another sunny, windless day. We Alaskans, as best we can, ignore the bad weather, and dang it, we get out there.

I noted that a storm front was moving in at 7 a.m. when I got up and went out to feed the outdoor animals. Pete then also got up, though he didn’t venture outside

June's horses ariving at the airport

– rather, he fired up the woodstove and made breakfast. I had cold cereal and he had eggs. I don’t do eggs without toast. Have to have something to slop up the slime with.

We went to internal martial arts together, came home, and ignoring the cold, did our late morning chores. Michelle and Laura, as planned, soon showed up. Once they got here, we braved the cold and wind (which was still not too bad here) and got the horses out. Pete rode Raudi, Laura rode Tinni, and Michelle and I line drove Hrimmi, with Michelle driving and me walking alongside Hrimmi.

The feeling in working with Hrimmi was akin to being a parent watching their kid perform in a piano recital. Same feeling – one of pride and awe. We raised this horse, always keeping in mind two things – little horses do what big horses do, and don’t ask for too much. The combination has complemented Hrimmi’s character – she is and remains calm, easy going, a bit on the stoic side.

On my part, I did not indicate that I know some about driving to Michelle. Rather, I stayed quiet and receptive to her ideas. And so the training session went very well.

Laura on the horse got a bit cold. Pete also a bit cold. We who were walking stayed warm enough. Earlier, we noted that one of the dogs, we think Ryder, had pushed open the door, so even though Pete had the wood stove going, it was still a bit chilly inside.

We ate muffins and drank tea and then headed over to a friend’s place. Michelle wanted to check out their donkey, Eddie Longears. And I wanted to check out Skjoni the pony. The two critters live in a decent-sized paddock, and have an adequate shelter, which is good because the area they live in is a wind tunnel.

Whoooosh – the wind just rips through the area. And it was a biting wind. In my head I likened the setting and weather to like being in Siberia. And I, who seldom get chilled, got chilled. I hunkered down in the shelter and with my two companions, spent time with the horse and donkey. Eddie, the donkey, clearly enjoyed being doted upon. And Skjoni not quite as much. Looking at him, I got a sense of what it must have been like for the horses in Iceland, which is before they began housing them. The ones that survived there, like their American counterpart, have thick coats and good circulation in their feet. They also, I am sure, learned to stand in sheltered areas and minimize movement.

We cut our visit shorter than we might have, had it been warmer, and headed over to June Snyder’s place. Her two thoroughbreds were, a few months ago, spooked by moose. They took off down the road and River got tangled in barbed wire. He sustained numerous cuts and ripped the inside of his hock open. The wound, even with veterinary care, has been slow to heal.

I was fortunate in that I got to watch Michelle and Laura do what they do so well. Michelle treats horses from the inside out and Laura treats them from the outside in. They both talked for some time with June, Michelle’s areas of expertise being the use of herbs and essential oils, and Laura’s being physical therapy and wound management.

Then out into the shelter we went. Pete soon arrived and joined the group. It was cold and windy outside so we all went back and forth between the horse pen and the heated garage. I was the note-taker

Michelle first worked with the essential oils. What was most revelatory was that River liked having peppermint applied to his left hip bone – the weight bearing leg. (His injury is on the right leg.)

Michelle works on the theory that animals will, when presented with the right foods, self-select what they need, be this for healing or for nutritional purposes. In this particular instance, River went for Angelica Root and Comfrey. Comfrey is known to promote bone growth, thus verifying this premise. Between sessions Laura and I practiced Tai Chi. This and hand warmers warmed me up.

We wrapped up the session at 8 p.m., and then called it good. Like I said, I know some about many things – and for this reason I like being around those who know a great deal about a few things. And I enjoy assisting horse people in making these sorts of connections. This then was a day for that kind of thing.

Next: 51. 2/22/16: Letter to Jay

Horse Care Home About Us Dispatches Trips Alys's Articles