Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saturday Road Warriors - Sunday Hunter's Orange

The boots we bought for Zora and Divna (The Girls) have opened up a whole new world of riding (see past post). With these boots, we can ride places where we never felt comfortable before with our unshod horses. We bought the boots so we could ride in rocky terrain without having to put shoes on The Girls. But what we found is that we can now explore the backroads of rural LaPorte County. So that is what we have been doing the past couple of weekends.

On a recent Saturday we took off to ride a back road that we used to drive down when we first moved out here. This particular road is very pretty with ravines and lots of twists and turns. However, the fastest route to get there takes us down the County Line Road which separates Porter and LaPorte counties. In years past that road was lightly traveled -- it is no longer that way. So it was a bit nerve wracking riding on this busy street, but The Girls handled it like pros. Most drivers were very considerate -- slowing down and moving to the other lane for us. Of course there had to be one "clueless" driver out there -- an elderly man in a small pickup truck came right up behind us and not only did he not move over one inch, he actually honked his horn when he got right behind us! Scared the hell out of me! Divna jumped just a little bit, but otherwise she was fine -- clearly it unnerved me more than it did her.

We decided we would take a different route next time so we don't have to go on County Line Road.

We rode the country roads, and it was such cool and different ride. We passed a house that had a lot of  horses. The people were outside, so we stopped and chatted for a while, and the horses came up to visit and check out our Girls.

The next day we decided to ride through the woods and on the abandoned railroad line near our house. It is hunting season in Indiana, so we had to get everyone decked out in orange.

 Zora in orange....

Divna in her orange....

On the railroad line there is a serious wash-out spot. It has been there for years, and just keeps getting bigger and bigger. We already had to make a new trail to go around it, and it looks like it won't be long until we have to make yet another trail around it. We are always nervous about this spot -- especially if it is dusk. It sneaks up on you and you are on it before you know it. The hole is deep enough to lose a horse in. It is difficult to tell from this picture, but trust me, it is dangerous.

So we put up some surveyors tapes on the trees near it, and on the trail about 20 yards before you get to it to serve as an early warning system.

Can't wait to get out there and so more riding, and try our new route to the country roads....

Stay in the saddle!!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Vacationing with "The Girls" - Part Three of a Three Part Story

Part Three -- The Detour Home

We had spent a few days at Midwest Trail Ride --it was a great vacation with the horses -- we had a cabin, they had stalls, and there were miles and miles of beautiful trails to ride. I was stung by a bee when were were loading our stuff into the truck. We almost went for a trail ride before we left, but John's horse Zora was uncharacteristically acting up, so we didn't bother. Now we were on I-65 North headed home. (See two previous posts)

That bee sting really hurt -- more than any other I have ever had. I had it wrapped with tobacco, like my mother always told me to do. Now we had been on the road about an hour.

My eyes started to itch real bad. I looked in the mirror and saw they were swollen. I sort of figured it out....

I told John I thought I was having a reaction to the bee sting. He went to a truck stop and got me some Claritin. We kept going.

A little while later, it started getting difficult to swallow. I knew what was coming next. My air was going to get cut off.

We were close to the exit that takes us to John's brother's house. I told John, "We have to go to Alex and Cindy's. I am not going to make it home. I need to get to a hospital."  I was praying they would be home. We do not know our way around Lafayette, and it would have been difficult to find a hospital in an unfamiliar town hauling two horses.

When we arrived at Alex and Cindy's, they were outside doing yard work, and very surprised to see us. John told them what was going on, and Cindy and I got in her car (a beautiful Jaguar). I heard Alex say, "Maybe we should call 911." The thought did cross my mind, but they live sort of out in the country south of Lafayette, and I wasn't sure how much time it would take for them to get there. I was thinking to myself "Whatever is faster!" So away we went.

At this point, it is getting difficult to breathe. Cindy was worried about me, I was half out of was all very stressful. We had to cross a busy state highway -- Cindy didn't see the car coming, but she said I did. Later she told me I said "Cindy, NO!!" -- but it was too late. (I don't remember that part.)

They hit us going somewhere between 50-60 mph. After Alex saw the scene he told us they never had time to apply their brakes -- there were no skid marks.

I remember seeing a police officer's face and a broken windshield behind him. Then I remember someone taping my head to a backboard, and strapping my legs down. I came to in the ambulance and I had an oxygen mask on. I was completely confused.

Thank God no one in the other car was seriously hurt. At first we thought the woman driving had a broken leg, but thankfully it turns out she did not. There was a husband, wife and their 11 year old granddaughter in the car. I cannot express the relief I have that none of them were hurt too badly. Just bruised and banged up like us, but nothing serious.
I am also grateful Cindy never lost consciousness. She told the paramedics I was having a reaction to a bee sting, so they were able to take care of that right away. She was the one who called 911, and she called Alex and John. Alex came to the scene, John stayed with the horses. Alex went back to the house and told John they were loading me into an ambulance on a stretcher. John told Alex the 911 vehicles drove right past the house on the way to the accident!

Once Alex knew what hospital were were going to, he went back and got John. All of us from the accident went to the hospital -- I came to once we were there. It was so fabulous to see John! I had a couple of pretty large lumps on my head, and was really, really hurting on my entire right side. My face was scratched and bruised. They did a CAT scan of my head and found nothing serious. It was a different story for Cindy.

They told her they thought she was the least injured of everyone, but an x-ray revealed bleeding behind her sternum. They did not have a cardiovascular surgeon at that hospital, so they transported her to Indianapolis. Cindy's daughter came to the hospital and took us back to Alex's house, and we had to continue our drive home with the horses -- another 2 hours.

That night Alex called with the good news that Cindy was doing fine.The next morning we found out the bleeding stopped over night and they sent her home the next morning.

Everyone was wearing seat belts, and all the air bags deployed. In fact, the other car was a 2012, and had airbags all the way around the inside of the car. Thank God!!

Cindy's beautiful Jaguar is ruined!!!!

We should have just called 911 -- they are trained for this kind of thing. When you are scared and emotional and in a high-stress situation you should not be driving.
But I do feel it was the hand of God that guided everything that day. This is what I believe:
Zora was acting up so that we would not go riding and be out in the middle of nowhere when my allergic reaction kicked in. Driving to the hospital would have taken too long -- it may have been too late for me. So because we did not have enough sense to dial 911 we had to have the accident. And the accident had to be bad enough to send the ambulance, but not bad enough to cause anyone permanent injury. For some reason, the other car was destined to be in that accident with us -- perhaps there was a more serious accident waiting for them down the road, or something else that they needed to avoid, and this accident stopped them.
It was a powerful experience. I am still recovering -- dealing with bruised ribs now, but otherwise I am fine. Cindy is fine -- other than being bruised and sore. The people in the other car are fine -- other than being bruised and sore. We have much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Vacationing with "The Girls" -- Part Two of a Three Part Story

Part Two -- Midwest Trail Ride: The Trails

It was late afternoon when we arrived, so we knew we wouldn't take a long ride that day -- we needed to let The Girls rest up, and we didn't want to use up time putting on their boots. But we couldn't resist getting out to see what the trails were like, so we saddled up. I made a misstep and Divna stepped right on my foot. I ended up with a large bruise as a result.

Midwest Trail Ride has their own park property with trails, and the park is adjacent to the Hoosier National Forest which has almost 100 miles of trails. The park trails lead into the Forest trails, so there is lots of riding to be done. We took the closest trail and rode for about a half hour until it started getting too rocky. But for that half hour we got a good idea of how it would be, and we were not disappointed. We could tell the trails are beautiful and challenging, and couldn't wait to get out the next day.

As I mentioned in Part One, the weather wasn't the best. We had some rain overnight. We chose the trails that lead to a small church, and set off once it stopped drizzling. It was really beautiful out in the Hoosier National Forest. The trails got a bit steep, and they were wet from the rain. We didn't get too far out before Zora slipped on the trail and fell! Fortunately, it was not a real bad fall and neither she or John were hurt, but it did cause us to be more careful.

Unfortunately, the camera battery died, and I have no pictures of the trails. So disappointing!

It rained/drizzled every day were were there, but fortunately we were still able to ride every day. We waited until there were breaks in the weather, but found that the other equestrians there did not mind riding in the rain! They all seemed to have rain gear and took off for the trails no matter how much rain was falling. They are tougher than we are -- we are not rain riders; snow riders, but not rain riders.

The trail to the little church was such a nice ride. The church even had an area designated for riders, complete with hitching posts, a picnic table and a bathroom. We stopped there and had a snack and gave treats to The Girls. I gave some treats to some other horses hitched there, and one of the horses bit my finger -- so I have another bruise, this one under my fingernail.

On one ride, we took a different route back and got to a point where a bridge was washed out. We rode in the creek/small river until we could find a place to get back into the campground. There were rocks, and in places it was pretty deep, but our Girls are fabulous trail horses and handled it like pros. This was my favorite ride. But again, the blasted camera battery was dead so I couldn't get any pictures!!!

On Friday thet place really started to fill up, which brought a problem I  had not anticipated. Our Girls now had neighbors, and Divna is not the most sociable with other horses. She did have a horse next to her from the first day we arrived, and that was no problem -- she got along fine with him. But when another horse was placed in the stall directly behind her, she got very nervous. She started striking out at the gate in front of her, and it looked like she would get her hoof caught. We hung a tarp over the back of Divna's stall and John secured it real tight so it wouldn't blow around in the wind. Fortunately, that solved the problem.

I would like to have a picture of her with the tarp on the stall to post here, but you know, that damn battery.

As you would imagine, the day were were leaving we woke up to a cloudless sky and beautiful sunshine. We thought we would take one last ride. The man who manages the facility told us we could day ride for no charge, which was really nice. So we started packing up. As I was bringing stuff outside, a bee stung me on my hand. It was strange, because it really hurt -- more than other bee stings I have had.

So we get packed up and go to the parking area for day riding. When we got the girls out of the trailer for grooming Zora started acting up big time. This is very unusal behavior for her -- she is generally great on the ground. So we decided to just get on the road for home.

As it turns out, things do happen for a reason. It is a good thing we did not take that ride. On the way home, everything changed.......and the end of this trip took a turn we never could have predicted.

Stahy tuned for Part 3 -- The Detour Home.....

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Vacationing with "The Girls" - A Three Part Story

Part One -- Midwest Trail Ride: The Facilities
 This year, with limited resources (code for $$$) and limited time off available, we decided to book five days at Midwest Trail Ride and take a short vacation with our Tennessee Walking Horse mares, Zora and Divna. Midwest came very highly recommended by a neighbor and fellow equestrian whom we see frequently at the trails at the Indiana Dunes. He goes there a couple of times a year, and had nothing but good things to say about it. Cabins for us; stalls for The Girls -- we were sold.
Midwest is located near Bloomington, IN which is the main campus of Indiana University. For those of you who don't know, this area of Indiana is really beautiful -- especially in the fall. Unlike the northern part of our state, which is flat, central and southern Indiana have hills. It is also an area where limestone is mined -- it is very rocky down there, which is why we bought the boots for The Girls (see previous post). With our crazy summer weather, we weren't sure if the fall colors would be peak yet, but fortunately they were ver close. It was a very nice 4+ hour drive down.
As soon as we arrived we knew we were going to love it. Our cabin was geat! Equipped with electric, heater and A/C, and spacious enough for a couple of tables and chairs, it exceeded our expectations.
Plus, there is a neat coverd front porch.
We were able to set up our coffee pot and hot plate so we could make coffee first thing in the morning.

Beats the hell out of being in a tent!


The Girls had it great, too.Spacious, secure much better than keeping them tied to a hitching post or highline. Our Girls always seen to get loose from those when we camp.
They provide wood shavings/sawdust for cleaning the stalls. 


And, as an added perk, every stall building has a port-a-john so you don't have to go all the way to the washhouse. Great for in the middle of the night!

They tbink of everything -- in the mess hall coffee, and hot and iced tea are available 24/7. They cook breakfast on the weekends. The mess hall has a microwave and toaster for the guests to use.
There is a really cool tack and gift shop at the office. We spent a bit of money there ourselves. I got this neat vest -- it was on sale, marked down to $18! Couldn't resist!

And John got a neat hat -- 40% off! The hat came in really handy, as it is waterproof and unfortunately we did not have the best weather.

And after I took the stall pictures, the first (and most minor) bit of bad luck happened. The blasted camera ran out of battery power, which is really annoying since we just bought a new battery for it! I had only taken about a dozen pictures and it was dead already. And because of the new battery, I did not bring the charger. So I did not get any photos of the trails or the tack/gift shop, or of Divna's little adventure.

Stay tuned for Part Two......Part Three will end with a BANG! (literally)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Boots for Zora and Divna

We have not had shoes on our horses in ages. We have found that it doesn't really work for us. Zora in particular has such a long stride that she knocks off the front shoes. It hasn't really been an issue, since we are fortunate enough to live in Northwest Indiana, which is sand dune country. Our trails are generally soft, and we do not have to do much street/road riding.
However, it does pose a problem in one regard. There are some beautiful trails and camping areas in other parts of Indiana where the ground is quite rocky. Central and southern Indiana are known for rock quarries -- Indiana is actually famous for limestone (the builders of The Biltmore Mansion in Asheville NC had Indiana limestone brought down for the construction). There are some great horse trails in those areas. For those trails you need shoes on your horses. Outside of Zora's stride problem, it can be difficult to coordinate the shoeing with the travel schedule. Last minute opportunities are not even an option.
So we did a little research, thanks in part to my Horse Illustrated magazine, we found some we felt would work for us. We got our mares the Easy Boot Epics.
Here is Zora after her fitting.....
And here is Divna in her new boots....

I had to include this picture -- The Girls were so cute -- When we got them both shoed-up, they both took the exact same pose.....the relaxed stance that you see horses take.

We plan to take them to the Midwest Trails near Bloomington Indiana. Midwest Trails is adjacent to the Hoosier National Forest and has almost 100 miles of trails! I hope these boots work out as nicely as we expect them to....

Oh, and the great thing about Midwest Trails is that The Girls will each have their very own stall, and we will have a CABIN!!!!

Guess we are all four ready to go....

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

They Seemed Like Good Ideas at the Time

We went camping a couple of weekends ago, our 2nd Annual Camping Trip to Allegan County, Michigan with Dee Dee and Karen. The site is Silver Creek Campground (they have a website -- I don't know how to add the link here -- sorry) which has fabulous trails and strictly primitive campsites. No electric; no shower house; pit toilets; and for water, wells with pump handles -- not even spigots. Primitive.

(Did I mention the trails are fabulous? They are what makes it worth it.)

Dee Dee now has a slide-on camper on her pickup truck,

and Karen has a rig -- 2 or 3 horse (I forget which) trailer with living quarters.

John and I have this.......

So we had Bright Idea #1:  Clean the back of the horse trailer, put our blow up bed in there, and keep our supplies, clothes, etc., in the tent. Seemed like a good idea at the time. So that is what we did.

We hate having the horses tied up all the time. We had been at campsites where people made a little corral of sorts out of some stakes and electric fencing material. We figured, "Why can't we do this?"

That lead us to Bright Idea #2: So that is what we did. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

At about 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., we were half asleep because we were freezing so much we could not get into a good, deep sleep, At about that time a woman from the neighboring campsite came to our campsite and woke us up. She had our horses in tow.

So there we were cold to the bone, and our horses had escaped from their little corral.

Well, they seemed like good ideas at the time!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Divna and I are Published!

My brother got me a subscription to Horse Illustrated for my birthday last year. One month they ran an article about Moon Blindness. This is a subject that hits close to home, because my Tennessee Walking Horse mare, Divna, lost her right eye to Moon Blindness about 4 1/2 years ago. She started out with an injury to her eyelid, which caused her to develop Moon Blindness, which in turn progressed to glaucoma and she lost the eye. The story of her struggle with all of this was one of my first posts when I started this blog. We (meaning Divna, John and I) all went through a lot trying to save her eye. She had 3 surgeries at Purdue's Large Animal Hospital at the Lafayette campus, and countless visits to the equestrian opthalmologist team there. They were fabulous, and I believe she got the best care possible.

So I read the article in the May 2012 issue, and decided to write to the magazine (e-mail) with our story. They published it in their August issue. Here it is.


I don't know if it is readable or not, but if I had it to do over, I would have written it differently. John is the writer in the family, and he said you should never submit something until you let it "sit" for a day or so, re-read it and edit as needed. Well, I did not do that. I just typed it up, attached the photo and sent it. If I ever decide to write the the magazinen again, I will do it differently.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

Two John Stories

My wonderful husband, John is the topic of this post. He is always up to something -- he is the ultimate planner, and always finds projects to do. He likes to make things better, and have goals. He is always changing, updating, and improving things around our house, barn and yard, which brings me to:

Story #1 -- Improving the Parking Space for the Horse Trailer at the Expense of the Round Pen

Our horse trailer is parked inside our pasture area, close to the fence. There are woods on the outside of the fence, and the branches had started hanging low over the trailer. Realizing this is not a good situation, John decided to do something about it. He got the ladder and his trusty chainsaw and got to work on those trouble-making branches.

I was in the barn grooming The Girls and doing some cleaning.

Then I heard a crash......

Terrified that he may have fallen off the ladder, or gotten knocked down by a branch I ran outside.

He was OK, but one of the round pen panels was a bit of a casualty!

But he got the job done. Here is the trailer, safe and sound and untouched by branches.

He is also loyal and determined, as evidenced by his ability to ride Zora. She is one of those horses who would have been sold from owner to owner had she not been initially purchased by John. They have adapted to each other, and she has made him one hell of a good rider. But ever so often something happens, which brings me to:

Story #2 -- John,  Zora, and the Potato Creek Fence Post

Last month we took The Girls to Potato Creek for a weekend of camping and riding. We like it there for its nice campground, clean shower facilities, and beautiful trails. While out on the trail we get to a place where John and Zora decide to kick it into a higher gear and do some moving. As usual they are way out ahead of Divna and me when I hear him call out. When we caught up to them, he told me he had an unexpected encounter with a fence post. Evidently in taking a turn, Zora got a bit too close to the trail edge, and there is some overgrown brush a fencepost was hidden. John took it on the knee. After just a short time it looked like this....

The next day it looked like this.....

It kept spreading and ended up covering most of his leg.

It was the biggest bruise I had ever seen. These pictures don't even do it justice.

Amazingly the bruise went away pretty quickly, though I think he will have the bump with him for a while.

Zora doesn't know how lucky she is to have John for an owner.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mystery Solved

The mystery has been solved! We now know who Marko inspired to make a donation to an animal shelter. Turns out it was our cyber-world friend, Debb, who lives near my brother in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin. I say cyber-world friend because we have not actually met in person yet. My brother introduced us by e-mail because we both have horses. She and a friend of hers generously offered to board our horses if we want to bring them up for some riding. We had plans to do so  last summer, but John got a temporary job, so we were unable to make the trip. "The Girls" are getting a Coggins test today, so hopefully we will be able to make that trip sooner than later.

The shelter she chose to donate to is located near her sister's home near the IN/KY border. Her sister lost her dog around the same time we lost Marko -- that inspired Debb to donate to the shelter. She said that shelter is struggling and can use the help.

Debb was so sweet to make the donation in Marko's name. It makes me feel good that some animals will benefit from his memory. It is so much appreciated.....

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Marko Inspires........

A few weeks ago, we received something mysterious in the mail.

It is a "Thank You" card from an animal shelter in Kentucky.

They are thanking us for a donation made in Marko's memory.

The donation came from a couple in Wisconsin (!!)

We do not know them, but we want to let them know how pleased we are that Marko inspired them to do something nice for other animals.

Can anyone out there shed any light on this???

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Alice and the Frog

We went to visit our good friends, Dragan and Alice, who now live in the Indianapolis area. We go to visit them from time to time as a short get-away. They have a really nice house with a cool deck. One of the nicest features of their house is the beautiful pond Dragan made in the back yard.

 It has fish,

lilly pads,

a bridge,

(John looking for frogs)

waterfalls ,

and frogs.

We sit out on the back deck after a barbeque with a drink and Serbian music playing, and listen to the water in the pond, walk up on the deck and feed the fish, look at the lilly pad blossoms and try to get a look at the frogs -- of course at night the frogs also serenade us. The frogs hide most of the time.

Dragan and Alice talked about some real big frogs that were in the pond -- sometimes if you are lucky they come out of the water onto the gravel shore or on one of the lilly pads. We kept checking that evening and never saw a big frog.

The next  morning Alice and I are out on the deck relaxing. Alice says "Look, Regina. One of the big frogs is out sitting on the gravel." I look and look and don't see it. Then she tells me, "He is near the bridge." So I look again and sure enough, there he is! I am thrilled! I grab my camera, creep slowly and quietly nearer and nearer to the pond so I can take a picture...

Wanting to get a better picture, I move ever so slowly towards the pond, crouched down near to the ground. I whisper to Alice "He is so big! I am getting great pictures"

I continued to use stealth tactics to get pictures of this huge frog without scaring him off....

Alice then says to me "Throw a rock at him, and make him jump." I tell her, "No...I don't want him to jump back in the pond. I want him to stay here."

Then Alice says, "It's not real!"

And I take a better look.......

And I realize it is a fake, decorative frog! By this time Alice is laughing so hard I thought she would start crying....

She got me! It was a good one -- I was buying it!

Did I mention Alice is a good friend????

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Misho Zdravich passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in the early morning hours of May 1, 2012. He was born in the spring of 2005 in Wanatah Indiana on a goat farm owned by Noah Matuszak's family. He came to live with the Zdravich's in July of 2005 as a companion goat to Marko, who was also born on the same farm, and preceeded him in death in March 2012.
Misho was a very photogenic goat, and always looked like he was smiling. He was half LaMancha and half African Boer goat, which gave him a unique look. He was very playful, and loved Vanilla Wafer cookies. He especially enjoyed taking walks with John and Regina to get the newspapers on the weekends, and through the woods of Otis where he could munch on a variety of plants. He also loved to smell John's cigar smoke, standing on hind legs so John could blow smoke directly into his nose.
He will be greatly missed by his animal family and human caretakers.
He is survived by fellow barnmates; horses, Zora and Divna; cats, Simo and Sonja; hens, Snezana, Milena, Zejlka, Lady Gaga; rooster, Zarko; and human family; John and Regina and their foreign exchange daughters, Lydia (Italy) and Marie (Germany).
Interment took place on May 1 in the barnyard. Due to inclement weather funeral service and pomen was held on Friday, May 5 complete with incense, candles, rakija, and Serbian Orthodox prayers.
Those who knew and loved him are comforted by the fact he has been reunited with Marko, and the two of them are playing and butting heads in the Great Beyond.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


As I write this, our Misho is dying......

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Yard Work -- The Natural Way

 Toay was a day for catching up on some outside work................

I have not been able to blog since Marko died. It has been really traumatic for me.

But today I decided to jump back in.

It was a bit cold and very windy today here in Northwest Indiana. We were going to ride, but decided against it. Instead, we thought we would put our horses and goat to work for us!

Yard work, the natural way......


Mowing the grass....






Pruning the trees


It was nice to be out in the yard with all of them, but Marko was really missed.....

More later................