Cottage Grove Sentinel | Pet Tips ‘n’ Tales: Medicine Horse

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

— Winston Churchill

“I was ill and unable to work,” said Joy. “Horses are my passion and our family was financially slipping, so I offered to sell them – the horses that is!

“Horses are an expensive lifetime commitment. They live 25 plus years. Monthly boarding costs $375-$1000 and our two horses eat 1/2 a ton of hay a month adding another $150. Their hooves need trimming every 8-9 weeks and Dixie’s $90 shoes need replacing every two months. So, you can see why I offered to sacrifice, for my family’s well-being.

“My husband, Dean, said, ‘No. Those horses keep you going.’ And they do. They are a pivotal part of my healing medicine. He took over feeding and caring for the horses. Never once a complaint.

“When I walk to the barn my mood lifts, pain decreases, and I feel better. Oddly, I can do more when I get to the barn. When I go back to the house, the pain comes back. Being near horses somehow triggers natural pain blockers.

“My horses where a far-away dream and an answered prayer for a little girl who grew up in poverty. When I was ten years old, I promised myself that I would own a horse. It took 30 years, but I did it! I have now been a happy horse keeper for 24 years.

“I love everything about horses! The way they smell (dirty or clean), look, feel, and how I feel near them. Their nickering warms my heart, clear to the bottoms of my feet. It’s like cats purring making your heart smile.

“Horses are herd animals and need a companion horse or another four-leg grass eating animal like a goat or sheep. That is why we have two horses: Dixie, a 24-year-old Quarter horse, and Gabe, a 14-year-old Mustang. Dixie arrived pre-named, but I named Gabe after Archangel Gabriel because he has white markings on each shoulder resembling angel wings.

“My horses’ favorite game is tossing their 100-pound 4 X 6-foot rubber mats around their stalls like playing cards. They grab the mats between their teeth and weightlessly fling them around – even dragging them out of their stalls. I wish they would find a new game because I need help dragging the heavy mats back in their stalls.”

Her horses refuse to play with their “Jolly Ball” Purr-FURing their mats. But when her dog spots their ball, he plays with it while Joy cleans out stalls.

“I wish horses pooped in one spot!” laughs Joy. “It would be easier to pick up if they could miraculously be trained to one location.”

After 26 years, Joy’s little-girl heart is amazed to have realized her seemingly im-paws-ible childhood dream!


“Always wear a helmet when riding,” Joy insisted. “I fell off once, but that’s all it takes. Thankfully, my helmet protected my head.

“Horse health problems are expensive! Before buying or gifting a horse, have a vet do a pre-check because they may have an issue that you can’t see or afford. Horses are mammals, like us. They experience heat and cold.

“Yes, horses in the wild stand under trees for shelter, and domesticated horses need solid shelters. One wall and a roof are better and kinder than nothing. Horses without protection from the weather develop rain rot on their backs. Our horses have a barn for shelter.”

Tips ‘n’ Tales reader, Pat in Washington wrote, “Many songs and music were inspired by horses. In America, as cowboys rode the range, they created songs to the beat of their horse’s hooves. In some songs/music, you can hear the distinct beats of a trot, a gentle lope, or a gallop which adds another dimension to animals and the world of music.”

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