Photo Challenge: Security

You tuck it
in some tidy place,
like half-way between
your head and your heart.
If you decide to launch, it won’t
get in the way of flight but until then
it’s the Earth’s good work to hold you here.
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. I take these photos with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high-tech.)


Photo Challenge: A Good Match

A contrarian and a curmudgeon;
fairy tale non-believers
with parallel differences,
kindly melding the gaps.
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro

A Good Match

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare

WM Goat lunch
Such hopeful ease,

confidence in the face
of contrary possibility,

is rare for man.


Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Equine Pro

(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. My photos are taken with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high tech.


Photo Challenge: Details

WM ArthurlegSpirit

Search the horizon Lean into the wind Rage against monsters.

Then find ground in the details Rest in minutia Let Peace rise.

Begin again.

___ Continue reading “Photo Challenge: Details”

A Cautionary Tale About Sleeping Around.

synnap arthur

We heard about Arthur, who had reached that certain age in the life of a young goat, just as we were mourning the loss of our old goat. It was kismet. Against the odds, Arthur managed to have a future after all, not that he was grateful. I was just starting to wear the little bleater down when the Grandfather Horse stole him from me (here). I’m cranky about it because goats are an antidote for a Type-A personality with a time obsession. Not that I have those issues. As long as there’s a goat in the barn.

It’s all Fun and Games…

Right away Arthur started sleeping around. He showed no concern for my feelings at all. Sure, he still came to me for a handful of grain now and then, but I had to coax him way too long. I don’t mean to sound petty but he didn’t seem to understand that I had saved him from being someone’s soup.

Evidence of his carefree habits:

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Every day he’d wantonly throw himself on the ground, reclining with an ear carelessly tossed over his shoulder. Or nap spine to spine with someone, anyone, randomly moving through the herd. He was carefree, seductively sprawling without a concern for decorum. Egads. I don’t care about decorum either, but it irked me. Sometimes he was too busy head-butting the mini to even take grain from my hand at all. It was embarrassing. Then a month ago, he discovered my fingers were capable of scratching that itchy place on nub of his head. It was a miracle; he had no idea I had any real talent. It was a huge step, but still, he made me beg to do it.

…until someone gets hurt.

Then it happened. I came out for some evening air, and he was laying half-way under the Grandfather Horse. Obviously, that wasn’t unusual. I went to give the Grandfather Horse a scratch, and that’s when I noticed a fully weighted hoof on one of Arthur’s back legs. It had been there a while; Arthur wasn’t struggling. It took an effort to release him; old horses get planted sometimes. Arthur was quivering and there was an unnatural twist to that leg. The skin wasn’t broken, but the leg felt all wrong. Not to mention that it was all wrong that Arthur even let me touch it.

I grabbed a rope and pulled my Grandfather Horse out of the run, so Arthur would be safe. Naturally Arthur struggled to his feet and limped after his horse. The injured leg never touched the ground; I could see the feather hairs on that leg quivering. We went into the north pen, away from other horses at least. Arthur hobbled to the manure pile–it’s his favorite place. And I started making the calls.

This is my biggest fear; I hate this part. I’ve got an animal in pain and I’m calling in all directions. My equine vet has helped with my goats in the past, and the after-hours answering service tells me that he is the one on call… but they won’t take a message, insisting he’s an equine vet. I let her know we have a goat history, but she is firm. And it’s too late to un-say “goat” so I hang up. I call another emergency vet but they refer me to yet another number to call. I leave a message for that vet and follow the directions to text them 911 as well. Then I wait. While I wait, I make two more calls, leaving messages. Then I wait some more. It’s dark now. There’s a toenail moon and the ducks on the pond are making a racket but Arthur is laying quietly. He’s not himself. It’s either a good sign or a horrible one but since no one is calling back, I hope for the best. I bring a bucket of water and some hay, which Arthur ignores. So I scratch his head and wait some more. I hate this part.

Phone silence continued while Arthur reclined in his fluffy manure bed, the Grandfather Horse dozed close by, and I finally retreated, cursing under my breath.

20160408_142711First thing in the morning, I rushed Arthur in. Have I mentioned that Arthur isn’t great on a leash? He has two speeds, braced or a dead run, and he flip-flops them without warning. After screeching and stalling our way through four rooms, leaving a trail of bodily fluids and tell-tale droppings, we slam to a stop for x-rays. The broken bones were easy to see. Even from across the room.

This vet used the same nose cone to deliver the anesthesia that they would with a big dog, and once he’s knocked out, three of us lift him on the table. An hour later, Arthur and I are screeching and stalling our way toward the back door with a huge cast on his leg. When he sees our horse trailer, he bolts, launching himself in a three-legged broad jump through the air and miraculously lands inside. The vet bill was a little more than twice what I expected, so after I paid it, I took a flying leap into the cab myself, and we headed home.

Arthur had a rough afternoon, but just as he was starting to eat, the vet called and wanted to re-do his cast. Neither of us were as well-behaved on the second trip, but he’s home now, resting in a goat prison with Edgar Rice Burro.

I’d like to gloat an I told you so! to that goat, wantonly sleeping around without care for hooves or hearts, like he did. But I’m just six months out of a cast myself. Okay, it was a Velcro boot, but close enough to recognize that limp. He can barely peg-leg it along; he’s lost strength just like I did. He picks up the cast to scratch his ear and it’s too heavy, so he sets it down with his head still tilted sideways. An unrequited itch.

The Dude Rancher asked if I thought Arthur would take more care in the future. The way he jumped up to follow the Grandfather Horse before the hoof-print faded, I can’t imagine he will. Truth is we’ve all got some pretty bad habits around here, but at least none of us are quitters.

Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.





Valentine’s Day and a Goat Tail. I Mean Tale.

WM SpiritArthurIs it too soon to say the word? Sure, there’s more snow coming. You’d be nuts to pack away the tank heaters and long johns. Still, there’s a change in the light and the calendar agrees. The coldest part of winter is past and for some of us, Valentine’s Day is a cross between New Year’s and the first day of Spring. Horse people have their own sense of time. Let’s toast with chocolate.

We made it! If you have an elder in your herd, you breathe a secret sigh. He’s managed to steal another base and the game plays on. Each winter has a new set of challenges. It isn’t that the old ones have been resolved. The Grandfather Horse is still arthritic and his awkward lump hasn’t gone away.

Of course, he had his annual gastric emergency. I was recuperating from foot surgery and on a knee scooter when it happened. I called the vet and sat down while I watched him shift weight and furrow his brow. Then he walked down the run, sniffed my hair, and carefully laid down almost touching me. I checked the time and the pain in his eyes. Was this the day?

The Grandfather Horse is coming thirty. It’s an old thirty. If you can look past the elephant in the room, it’s almost laughable. We reminisced about close calls while we waited for the vet. Like that time two years ago, in the midnight ground blizzard, when he couldn’t stand up. And he never lets me forget the famous near-death emergency sheath cleaning incident. Okay, it was pretty funny.

Eventually the vet arrives to find the two of us sprawled the width of the run. He probably wonders if today is the day, too. Nope. Not today.

Less than a month later the Grandfather Horse started spitting out all of his chew-ed up hay. He’d been spitting out a random wad here and there for years, sometimes keeping a chaw in his cheek, but this morning, it’s two entire flakes of hay chew-ed up and spit out in a mushy pile.

It’s not that I’m cynical. Not exactly, but at lunch time I place one perfect flake of the greenest, leafiest alfalfa in his feeder. Consider it a reality check. The Grandfather Horse has grown persnickety about the exact texture of hay that he likes over the last decade, but he did it again. Spitting out alfalfa is like spitting out chocolate cake. I made the call.

The vet found a loose tooth and dang, it was on his good side. It’s been four winters ago now that he had that nasty infection on the opposite side, resulting in a complicated extraction and a long recuperation. I swore I wouldn’t put him through something like that again. The vet assures me it’s so loose, he can almost get it with his fingers. I agree, there’s a quick shot, and the tooth is out in a blink. Then it’s a full hour of trying to keep him balanced until he can stand on his own. Sedation is the scary part; we all try to act casual but no one takes an eye away for an instant. Once again, today isn’t the day.

I’d love to say the Grandfather Horse is as good as new, but that isn’t the way it works. At this age, they never come back all the way. It’s a negotiation; now he spits out about half his hay.

I hesitate to write about my Grandfather Horse at this point. People always tell me they cry and that isn’t my goal. I swear, this is a happy story. Please don’t feel sorry for his old heart… Last week he cantered a few strides in the snow and stayed on his feet. And the sun is getting warmer for his midday naps. Sometimes I see the two mares he gets turned out with cantering in circles, while he stands in the middle, lunging them with his eyeballs. It’s good to be king.

I suppose I should report one more injury. Arthur the goat, who loves to race the horses to turnout, bounded past me like that old riddle; what’s black and white and red all over? The blood splatter was so vibrant and far-flung that it startled me–especially on the run like that. Goat tying isn’t my event, so I went back the barn table and shook the grain can. Arthur bounded back just as quickly, blood cheerfully flying in all directions. It was the very end of his tail and it was missing. The very last vertebra of his tail was exposed–sticking out like just one finger at the end of a sleeve. The blood was starting to clot, so I dumped some grain out and ran for the amateur vet’s best friend: Google. I was careful choosing my search words, but no need. Dozens of articles appeared instantly. Apparently it isn’t a rare thing with goats and they recover without much help. I managed to clean it up some, but as previously stated, goat tying isn’t my thing.

Earlier, as I was mucking chew-ed up hay out of the Grandfather Horse’s run, I’d found a small patch of white hair still attached to a hunk of skin. It was bordering the next run, but that occupant is a bay. I thought it was odd, but then mice and snakes get baled up with the hay all the time. Egads, that must have been Arthur’s tail scalp.

If there were witnesses, no one was speaking up. In U.S. criminal law, guilt is proven by means, motive, and opportunity. Those pointy little hooves might be motive enough. Opportunity is a no-brainer; Arthur is always as close as kin. As for means–well, those long old front teeth are about the only ones he has left.

The evidence was all circumstantial. Besides, we don’t have a democracy here. Like I said, don’t feel sorry for his old heart. Game on. It’s still good to be the king.

Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.

Photo Challenge: Optimistic


“Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.”

–Dalai Lama

Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.

(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. My photos are taken with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high tech.)


Weekly Photo Challenge: Oops.

2015-12-09 15.17.44

Oops!–It’s an empty can with no more grain-treats. Still, a smart goat would want to be thorough and double check.

We pried the can off his head quite a few times but Arthur was insistent… maybe it was his intention all along to perform the fabulous death-defying Blindfolded Goat Table Dance. Dangerous to watch, too.

Anna Blake, Infinity Farm

(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. My photos are taken with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high tech.)



Weekly Photo Challenge: TRIO


“You knew we were dedicated to fighting the forces of evil when you hired us.”

This trio of highly motivated professionals are the Infinity Farm Type-A Aversion Therapy Team. They step in when things are just a little too perfect. It’s very serious business because dressage barns require a particular level of decorum… to be torn down, chewed on, and generally disrespected. It’s supposed to be fun, remember? It’s a natural law that for every tight-lipped, micro-managing, humor-avoidant dressage queen, there must be an equal and opposite force.

“You’re welcome. Where’s lunch?”

Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.

(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. My photos are taken with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high tech.)

The Grandfather Horse: When Animals Have Pets…

WMSpiritArthurI have a bone to pick with my Grandfather Horse. He stole my goat.

It’s hard to complain. Spirit’s been my soulmate for the last 29 years and I’m prone to writing sticky, sentimental posts about him. Sure, back in the day we got a little contrary with each other from time to time. And yes, he always did prefer people who didn’t know how to ride. Can’t fault him for that.

My Grandfather Horse’s habit of keeping pets wasn’t obvious at first. During the first years I boarded him there was no real opportunity for exotic pets, so he settled for what he could find; cats mostly. I thought it was normal.

At our last boarding barn, he befriended a tiny black kitten, way too young to be on his own. Spirit threw him some grain, and when the kitten was still there the next day, getting kitten chow seemed smart, along with a little bowl for under the hay feeder. The kitten swung on Spirit’s tail and climbed all over his back. He batted at my curry and left fierce claw marks on Spirit’s saddle. Horses are social animals and I didn’t think much about it until the kitten stepped off a gate and onto my other horse’s back. Dodger came apart like the fourth of July. The kitten didn’t have any luck riding other horses in the barn either.  I started to get suspicious of my Grandfather Horse.

The first year here on the farm a llama cria was born. Spirit let me know that the mom was in labor and then we both sat back to wait. Well, I sat back, while he put his head through the fence panel and stared. Two hours later, little baby Belle Starr finally wobbled away from her mom and over to touch noses with Spirit, still waiting patiently. I managed to keep them apart for almost two weeks. Perhaps you’ve met Belle? She’s the llama who comes up to strange horses–at a dead run–for a nose rub. The Grandfather Horse taught her that.

The next year, a friend and I rescued a small herd of neglected donkeys. When they arrived here, the last one out of the trailer was especially fearful, teetering on hooves that looked like elf shoes. Still, he marched right up to Spirit, whose nose was though the fence panel again, and it was all over but the tattoos. We re-homed the others, and it took me weeks to settle this little donkey, but if I looked out the window in the middle of the night the two of them would be doing the tango in the moonlight and biting each other’s elbows. I never had a chance. Years later when Edgar Rice Burro arrived, it was a forgone conclusion.

You would have thought that a pair of elderly, free-range ducks would be beneath the Grandfather Horse… but they waddled back from the pond in the afternoon just in time for Spirit to toss some grain down to them. He was just showing off by that point.

It’s no surprise that the horses all love him best. The mares are all besotted and the geldings act like he’s Steve McQueen-cool. Even now, when half the herd doesn’t know who Steve McQueen was. Sure, he does me a favor every day; he runs the young Mare-Who-Would-Be-Alpha off her hay. It probably isn’t in deference to me; he does it for sport more likely. If he’s particularly stiff–he does it with his eyeballs. Then he gets his faux-humble look as Edgar Rice Burro dips his longears with respect. Egads.

But I had plans for Arthur, the goat. It would be different this time. Really.

Arthur used to live in the next county, in a pasture with his herd. He got to that awkward age for young male goats… and totally lucked out. He won a one-way trip in the cab of my truck. As one-way goat trips go, Arthur was wildly lucky, not that he was grateful. Goats aren’t burdened with the social constrictions of gravity or good manners. He left proof of that in my truck, but you know, a good ranch truck doesn’t worry about polite society either.

Arthur got a comfy pen in my other barn, far from Spirit but next to Edgar Rice Burro and a very amiable chestnut gelding. He was terrified, having never been around people, but I have a way with goats, and a can of grain, so I set about winning him over. By the time he was tentatively taking one tiny bit of grain from my hand, he was able to break out of his pen five or six times a day. Each time Arthur got loose he bolted through the other horse runs and screeched to a stop under Spirit’s belly. Resistance was futile. I gave up bringing him back; he’s been in that shady spot ever since. Now Arthur comes to gobble a handful of grain from me, but then he’s gone, recklessly bounding back through the fence in an important hurry. He has priorities.

My Grandfather Horse had a mild colic this week, as the first snow storm of the season threatened. Arthur and I stayed close. Mild is a word we can only associate with colic in hindsight. All colic is serious in the beginning and my old horse is frail. He’s okay now and it’s still good to be king. He’s the one who taught me the most important thing I know about training horses–it’s all about negotiation. I used to be a bit of a goat myself, in my youth. I pretend to know better now.

Look at the photo again; is this some sort of massage? Arthur must weigh at least sixty pounds by now and he has pointy hooves. He tries to stay on when Spirit stands up, like that kitten did, but Arthur’s off in a twitch.

No one can stay mad at the Grandfather Horse for long… or maybe I’m jealous of Arthur. That used to be my spot.

Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.