Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Year of Ewen

It is hard to believe that a year has passed since the skinny, scared black dog showed up in our driveway. I offered him some water in a pink pail at one of the barns, and then he followed me back to our house. We happened to be dog-sitting my mom's dogs at the time so I fed him some of their dog food. The skinny, sad dog wouldn't let me touch him but he followed me all around the farm that day. It was pretty obvious that he had either been on his own for quite some time or he seriously needed an upgrade in life. In addition to being very thin he was covered in fleas and ticks and loaded with worms. 

Ewen the day he first appeared

Ewen was skinny and sunburned

It had been an emotional week for me already. It had been three years since my dad passed, and only two days before my mom, sister and I had closed on the sale of our family farm. Windy Hills Farm had been the hotspot for stray and wayward animals for a long time, so I found it unsurprising that two days after we closed on the sale of Windy Hills Farm a stray dog showed up at our farm. When Jason saw the skinny, wormy, sad black dog following me around his initial comment was "your Dad somehow sent this dog here. I know it." I couldn't disagree with him, the timing was too suspicious. 

Ewen wearing the cone of shame after his "tutoring"

Despite the fact that Jason was less than thrilled about having another mouth to feed - one of his favorite complains is "we have way too many dependents" - he went to the store the next day and purchased a leash, collar, food, bowls, chew toys and a dog bed for the dog he insisted on calling Ewen. I had no vote in the naming of Ewen. We managed to grab him and get the collar on him, and slowly Ewen started letting us pet him. Then it was time to take him to the vet and get him vaccinated, neutered and on a flea, tick and de-worming program.

my ridind buddy on the Kubota


Ewen and I on a Christmas Eve hike

Getting Ewen into the car was a rodeo. He was terrified and I had to climb in the car and pull while Jason was behind him lifting and pushing. We finally drug him into the car despite Ewen's valiant efforts to not get into the car. The following week we had to repeat the process when Ewen went back to the vet to be neutered. He came home the next day wearing the cone of shame because he would not leave the stitches alone. Ewen had to be on restricted activity for seven days which meant leash walking only. That was a ton of fun given that Ewen had clearly never been on a leash in his life and was also still insanely hyper at the time. Then Ewen had to wear the cone of shame for another week but he was allowed to run around. No one can forget the reign of terror that gripped the farm as the horses quivered in fear at the alien streaking around the farm. 

Ewen gets along great with our cats Jingle and Joy; he also gets along with our feral cat Oscar

I had no idea how many deer and other wildlife came to the end of their life on our farm until Ewen came around. Every week before we mow the lawn I have to walk around and collect all of the bones that Ewen has found and brought into the yard.

Ewen always has an impressive bone collection

Over time we eventually taught Ewen how to be a house dog. We had to drag him into the house the first time with a great deal of force. He was terrified of the house. Now he thinks being in the house is great. Our greatest challenge was keeping Ewen off the road and from chasing cars. For the first several months he was here Ewen was insanely hyper. So hyper we really questioned if we could live with him long term. He calmed down considerably over a period of several months.  We learned Ewen can easily jump any fence up to six feet, he can jump over stall doors, and he can run fast. Jason finally ended up running a hotwire on the bottom of the fence by the road in addition to the hotwire on the top of the fence, and after a few zaps Ewen finally, reluctantly gave up his hobby of chasing cars. 

I also have to give a HUGE thanks to Convey's mom for some extremely helpful training tips and ongoing words of encouragement as we attempted to transform Ewen from a crazy hyper, half feral, car chasing dog into a family dog.  She gave me a couple of training exercises to work on with Ewen to help address the car chasing and also to help his complete lack of recall. He can still be hard to catch on occasion, but most of the time he is now reasonable about being caught. 

 Much of the time Ewen is now a lazy house dog and he sleeps inside on his dog bed every night, often with our two house cats sleeping on him or next to him. Ewen still has a lot of energy and he still runs miles and miles every day, but he's not the crazy hyper, half feral thing that showed up a year ago. He also loves to ride in cars and trucks. 

Today we took Ewen through the McDonald's drive through and got him a hamburger and french fries to celebrate his one year anniversary as a WebbPet (TM). Ewen would tell you that life is good.

Ewen and Carter on our way to McDonald's for Ewen's one year WebbPet anniversary meal

Ewen and Carter playing with a stick


Asterik and George

Baby and Trigger

Donovan, Walon and Oskar

Havana and Cino

Rocky and Toledo

River and Rubrico

Cocomo, Gus and Silver

Gibson and Donneur

Wilson and Johnny

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Stills



Lofty and Gus

Toledo and Rocky

Convey, Chance and Trigger

Remmy and Baner

Fabrizzio and Walden

River and Roho


Sabrina, Sparky and Bonnie

Asterik and Cocomo

Flyer and Faune

Thursday, August 25, 2016

In Memory of Tony

Last week we said goodbye to Tony. It was a hard day for us as Tony had been a part of our lives for almost nine years. Tony was a horse that had worked very hard during his earlier years and he earned every day of his nine year retirement.


We don't know a lot about Tony's younger years. The trainer his family was working with had had Tony in her barn for several years when they met him. He had been owned by one of her clients and showed in the Amateur Owner (3'6") hunters for a couple of years, and then the trainer bought him herself and leased him out to her clients. Tony showed in the junior hunters and the equitation with several different riders.

Homer and Tony

Trigger, Tony and Baby

Tony showing his silly side with Baby

Tony's family was looking for a horse for their daughter to make the move from riding and showing ponies to a horse. At first glance Tony didn't look like he would be the right horse for this job. For one thing he measured a solid 17 hands, so he was a very tall horse. On top of that he was never going to win any conformation classes thanks to his very long back, pigeon toes, and being over at the knees. Since he was both very tall and very long he was quite a horse to make the move from ponies to horses. However, when the family's younger daughter rode Tony she clicked with him immediately, and he found his permanent home.

Baby and Tony waiting for breakfast on a foggy morning

Tony and Ritchie

Tony and Trigger

The first order of business for Tony's new family was showing him that life could be good again. As mentioned above Tony had spent a few years showing extensively in the 3'6" hunters. He went to a lot of shows, he was on the road extensively, and he was ridden by a lot of different people. His family told us when they bought Tony he was so unfriendly and grumpy towards people that he would often turn his rump to you and kick out when you came in his stall. They kept Tony at their own farm and gave him a completely different lifestyle. He got a lot of turnout, he got a lot of treats and attention, and most importantly his show schedule was cut back significantly. Over time Tony transformed from kicking out at people to being engaged and friendly.

Homer and Tony

Tony and Cisco

Levendi, Moe, Homer and Tony with halters on while waiting for the farrier; none of them look very thrilled.

Tony repaid his new family's kindness by being a wonderful horse for them. With the younger daughter he helped her make the leap from ponies to horses. She said that despite Tony's long back he was an incredibly adjustable horse to ride, and that he could lengthen and shorten his canter stride like an accordian. She and Tony focused on the equitation ring and thanks to Tony's rideability and adjustability they won more than their share of equitation classes. When it became time for Tony to step down to an easier job he became the mom's riding partner for a few years.

Homer, Tony and Baby


Tony and Thomas

Eventually the time came for Tony to move to full retirement, and that was when we met him nine years ago. Thanks to his years with his family the Tony we met was nothing like the Tony they first met. Tony was friendly, outgoing and nothing but a pleasure to live with. 

Tony and Rip


Baby, Tony and Elfin

Tony was the type of horse that was friends with everybody, people and horses. He didn't care if you were a Democrat or a Republican, he didn't care if you liked rock and roll or country music, he was welcoming to all. The only things Tony didn't like in life were flies. He hated flies. You knew if a fly of any type had dared to be within five feet of Tony's presence as he did acrobatics and generally acted as if his death was imminent. 

Tony and Homer

Apollo and Tony

New horses in his group were often drawn to Tony during their early days. Tony's welcoming personality and quiet, laid back nature - unless there was a fly near him - was very comforting to newcomers and gave them confidence.  Through Tony's quiet confidence and welcoming manner newcomers learned quickly that life was good and retirement was even better. 

Levendi, Tony, Thomas and Baby

 Trigger, Moe and Tony

Tony and Levendi

As happens to often on a retirement farm, last week everything changed very quickly with Tony. He went from perfectly healthy and happy to not in the blink of an eye, and we found ourselves saying goodbye to Tony last week. As Tony did with everything else in life, he left this world with his ever present quiet confidence. All of Tony's people, including us and his family, were left with a giant hole in our lives. Tony meant the world to his family, and after nine years together he was a fixture in our family. I'm still trying to feed him his supplements every morning before I remember that he is gone.

Rest in peace Tony, you made your little part of the world a better place.


Hemi, Tony and Thomas

Baby and Tony

Tony, Convey and Chance


Ritchie and Tony

Leo and Tony playing on a rare snow day

Hemi, Thomas, Trigger, Rip and Tony were all at attention staring at something

Tony and Trigger


Homer, Tony, Grand and Ritchie waiting for breakfast

Trigger, Baby, Tony and Thomas

Chance and Tony