Sunday, May 30, 2010

This bites!

Yesterday morning I went out to the barn, planning to ride Panama before we went to visit the in-laws. As I was cleaning out his feet, though, I spied this on the back of his elbow:

My horse's reaction to horsefly bites

At first I thought he had fallen and scraped himself up, but I quickly realized it was also on the inside of his leg and up around the girth area, as well as on his chest:

My horse's reaction to horsefly bites

A little further down, I found this:

My horse's reaction to horsefly  bites

And this:

My horse's reaction to horsefly  bites

And on the other side, just behind the girth area, this:

My horse's reaction to horsefly  bites

But the real shocker was the one on the underside of his belly:

My horse's reaction to horsefly  bites

I guess I didn't blog about it, but last summer we encountered horseflies for the first time. It was a memorable first because for the first month or two, every horsefly bite he got swelled up in a quarter-sized welt and erupted into an open sore at the top. There were a few times I actually couldn't ride because he'd been bitten under the saddle area. As the summer went on, though, he stopped reacting so strongly to the bites, I guess because he built up a resistance to them.

Anyway, these welts seem to be the same things. Some have sores, some don't. I took a profile photo that shows how swollen even the small welts are. These are both about the size of quarter in diameter.

My horse's reaction to horsefly  bites

I've never had one swell up as large as the one on his belly, but one of the more experienced horsemen at the barn said it's just because of gravity. I also haven't seen anything like the rash on the back of his elbow, but it seems like it's because he got bitten quite a few times there.

Today his welts were smaller and harder (not as puffy), there was no longer any heat in his elbow rash, and the big welt was a little less swollen. I did hose the worst ones down with cold water, cleaned the open sores with betadine, and put a little Furall on them to protect them. I'm hoping to be able to ride tomorrow!

A funny story before I go. I asked another boarder for her opinion on what to do about Panama's welts, and while we talking about it we both sat down on the side of one of the huge metal troughs in Panama's corral where they throw the hay. It tipped a little, and then the uneven ground caused the steel bottom to pop in and make a huge noise. Panama and Daisy both startled and ran away, and we got up, realizing we weren't sitting in the best of places.

Both of us slipped through the fence and continued talking on the other side. While we were talking, Panama walked up to the trough, stared hard at where we'd been sitting, and then deliberately banged on the side of it with his hoof. He jumped a tiny bit at the noise, but continued standing there, staring at the trough. Both the other boarder and I started laughing, because it was perfectly obvious that he was trying to figure it out: Why had it made noise when we were sitting on it? He figured out a long time ago that it made noise when kicked, but this was clearly different, and he wanted to know why!

What a funny, curious, and smart boy he is!


Friday, May 28, 2010

Panama got his shots and Mozart colicked

Panama has his shots and spring checkup this morning, and the vet has sent his blood away for his Coggins test. It was a hot morning for a vet visit, and I'm pretty sure I'll be sunburned from standing out in the sun talking to the vet.

One of the first things the vet said when I brought Panama out was, "Is he growing?!" He is the fourth or fifth person who has said that. I actually checked a week or two ago, and with the tape it looks like he is just shy of 14.2hh. Assuming the tape has been correct in all instances, he was just shy of 14hh a year ago, so he has grown about 2 inches in the past year. However, I suck at measuring with a tape, so I'd like to stick him and get a precise measurement — if I can get my hands on a stick without having to buy one!

The vet said Panama is looking great, and his teeth don't need to be floated again until fall. (He had his teeth floated last spring.) Panama tolerated the mouth exam pretty well, stood like a champ for the shots and the blood draw, and even permitted the quick exam of his private parts (the vet said I just need to get some more of the crusty stuff off; I did a quickie sheath cleaning myself about a month ago, but focused more on beans than the crusties).

Mozart's owner was originally going to have my vet look at his teeth; he's had a hard time gaining weight, and his owner doesn't know when his teeth were last done — she isn't even sure her parents ever had it done. She had to work, but my vet went ahead and took a quick look anyway, and said they did need done.

Ironically, after my vet left Mozart's owner got a call from the barn's owners: Mozart hadn't gotten up for his breakfast the past two mornings, and they were worried that something was wrong. They were thinking he had an ulcer, but he has a history of colicking at the drop of a pin, so his owner got the vet out right away. Turned out he did have a partial impaction; the vet tubed him, and his owner had him moved into a box stall for the time being, so that she could monitor his water intake.

The vet that came, however, told her that his teeth don't need done — she said he is just skinny because he is old (21). I kept my mouth shut when Mozart's owner told me this, but I couldn't help but feel frustrated — I trust my vet's opinion, for one thing, but I also don't buy into the attitude that horses just get skinny when they get old. I think old horses get skinny because they have some sort of medical condition that is not being treated, whether that be teeth, diet, or something else. In this case I very strongly believe that her horse needs his teeth done, particularly since she doesn't think it has been done at all in the last 8 years, but I've already done all I can do to point her in that direction.

Sadly, Mozart might end up leaving us — not the barn, but the corral where Panama and Daisy are kept. I'm disappointed because I really like Mozart, and I think the three of them do well together, but I also have to admit Panama will probably do well no matter who he is with. He is just that kind of horse. And in any case, I am just glad Mozart is okay — today could have been so much worse.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Updates on Horsey Headlines in May

I have a lot of work to do today, so I rescheduled my lesson. Not having gone out to the barn yesterday either, that means I don't have much to blog about (or much time to blog). So I'll just give you a few quick updates before I get back to work.

Remember that barn fire in Denver a couple of weeks ago, that killed 12 horses? A man has been arrested and charged with 13 counts of animal cruelty (I guess there was also a goat), as well as arson and criminal mischief. They aren't giving any more details right now, but I wonder what his connection was to the barn's owner or boarders. In any case, I hope justice will be served!

You may also remember the story of the stolen horse that I posted a week ago. I mentioned in the comments that the horse had been found, but forgot to make a general announcement on the blog. Here is the video of the kids being reunited with their horse.

View more news videos at:

I don't know about you, but I teared up during that video.

Anyway, have a wonderful Tuesday. I will be digging myself out from under this mountain of work that is threatening to bury me!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Trail ride: Cyclists, other horses, and the no-horse trail

We went on another trail ride this morning. Of course, I forgot to take pictures again, but it was probably just as well — there was to see and get excited about out there in the park today, so sharing my focus (and my hands) with a camera probably wouldn't have been the best idea.

We went with Mozart and his owner again today. Mozart is the only horse Panama doesn't have to stop and wait for, and his owner doesn't let him graze too much OR get nervous about everything, so I love riding with her. I have been avoiding riding on the weekend until now, as I've heard that the park is busier on the weekend and the people (especially the cyclists) are more rude, but Panama has been doing so well that I thought I'd try it.

It was probably less busy in the morning than it would have been in the afternoon, but there was definitely still a lot going on. At one of the yurts we pass early on the trail (the park sets them up and you can rent them), there was a group of people camping there — trucks, kids, colorful towels hung up to dry, etc. Mozart wandered over that way to say hi (without his owner's permission, incidentally), and I encouraged Panama to go, too. They both walked over, stopped and looked at everybody, then walked away. It was all very calm, and I was very proud of Panama — I don't think I have to worry about him being startled by kids or campers.

We also passed three separate groups of horses and riders, plus we took the trail that goes right past the horse rental barn. The first group we passed was a couple of horses and riders from our barn, so Panama didn't try to rush up to them, although his head was sky-high and his ears were at attention! The next two groups of horses, though, were ones we didn't know, and he tried really hard to walk up to each group — particularly a mare in one group that seemed to want to greet him, too. My horse does love the ladies...

There were tons of cyclists, which I'd been a bit worried about, but Panama did fine. We were passed by some, and pulled over and let others by. Everyone was surprisingly polite and the cyclists all yielded to us as they were supposed to — I'd heard the weekend crowd was less likely to do that, but everyone we encountered today knew and followed the rules of the trail!

We also discovered a new trail, only to discover when we reached the visitor's center at the other end that it wasn't a horse trail: There was a no-horses sign there that was missing at the other end. Oops! No one was around to scold us, though, so we just turned around and went back. Luckily neither horse pooped on the no-horse trail!

I am having such a great time trail riding, and Panama is being so good. The last couple of rides, he has been so relaxed that I've been able to hold the reins at the same place I use for walking in the arena — he used to carry his head higher on the trail, so I'd have to hold the reins much shorter. But now he is relaxing and enjoying himself! He is turning out to be a very calm, confident trail horse!


Canter transitions video

I started thinking that it would be nice to make a video that compared Panama's canter transitions to each side during our flat class practice, to show how much more explosive the first one was compared to the second one (where I actually listened to my trainer, sat back, and half-halted him before asking for the canter). Below is the result. Makes it easier to see the difference, doesn't it?


Saturday, May 22, 2010

This week in trail rides

We got to go for two trail rides this week. On Wednesday, we rode with Mozart, the older gelding in Panama's corral, and his owner. Mozart and Panama make great trail buddies because they both walk relatively quickly on the trail. Both his owner and I commented on how nice it was not to have to stop and wait all the time.

Also, Mozart's owner doesn't let him graze a whole lot, which I like — the last trail ride I took with our usual trail riding buddies, they let their horses graze so much that we were doing almost more grazing than riding. That's too much for my tastes — I prefer to just let Panama have a couple of bites here and there, such as when he needs to decompress.

Anyway, Mozart's owner has done a lot of trail riding all by herself — something I won't do — so she knew of some new trails I hadn't been on. (Our other trail riding buddies make the same loop every time.) I was interested in reintroducing Panama to water crossings, so we took a trail that led us down by the creek.

The water level was fairly high and rushing — probably from rain and snowmelt — which Panama hadn't seen before, so that was a little scary for him. When we crossed the bridge, he kept to the downstream side (even though it was a high bridge and there was no way the water was coming up there), watching the water the whole time, and trying to trot past Mozart (there wasn't room) to get off the bridge more quickly. I was able to hold him back, but just barely.

On the way back, we crossed the fast-flowing creek (a big creek!). Mozart plunged right through ahead of us. Panama hesitated only briefly — I could see his head going side to side as he surveyed the creek — and then he tried to jump the fastest-rushing part in the middle. Of course, already being in the water he wasn't able to jump very high, and also the water was pretty deep — it soaked my boot and my jeans up to my ankle on the upstream side, and Panama was wet all the way up to his chest. I was amused that he tried to jump it, but also pleased that he didn't hesitate long or show any fear.

About halfway back, it started to rain on us. It wasn't a total downpour, but it was also more than just a sprinkle, and varied frequently in how heavily it rained. Every time the rain got worse, Panama got very antsy and started jigging or trotting, and every time it slowed he calmed down. When we got home and I put him away, and he went immediately into his shelter, I realized that he hadn't been afraid of the rain — he'd been upset about getting rained on, and wanted to go for shelter. My poor, prissy little pony!

Yesterday we went on another trail ride, almost immediately following our lesson. One of the other boarders was arriving right as I was getting ready to put him away, and invited me out with her and another boarder. By the time we left we had gained another rider, for four total! We took the same route Mozart's owner and I had taken, only they wouldn't go through the water or over the bridge — they are middle-aged women just now fulfilling their youthful dreams of owning and riding horses, and I think they are a little skeptical of their horse's abilities.

In any case, we had a great ride, and Panama led the first half of the ride, if not more. He really liked leading, so I think I'll have to do it more often — he balked at a couple of things, but I was always able to get him going again without having to have someone lead us, which I was pleased about. Amazingly, though, he seemed to be calmer and slower in the lead than I remember him being — maybe because he was tired from our lesson, but I think it was probably more because he is growing up and gaining experience.

By the time I unsaddled him yesterday, he had had his saddle on for nearly 3 hours, and had been carrying me for most of that (with a little break after the lesson while we waited for everyone to get ready to go). I won't ride today, and I plan on checking to be sure he isn't sore — that's the longest I've ridden him, with only a couple of exceptions. No doubt he'll be fine, though — with all the riding I do at this barn, he is in much better shape than he used to be, with better muscle tone and endurance than he used to have!

I can't wait for our next trail ride! Eventually I'll get confident enough on Panama's back to pull out my camera and take some pictures — I'd love to show how pretty these trails are!


Friday, May 21, 2010

Flat class practice

When my trainer grabbed my camera to video today's lesson, she said, "You can call this post, 'Flat class practice'!" I found it hilarious that she automatically knew I'd post the video to my blog, but hey, she was right about the title!

We are practicing for the schooling show in June, since I really didn't know any of what to expect. I haven't ever even been to a show, let alone been in one. (Oh, and apparently I'm going to be one of two adults at this show. Oh well — better late than never, right?) Providing I get more confident at the canter and Panama behaves himself at the show, we'll be doing a walk, trot, and barely cantering class.

So my trainer is having me practice cantering when she says, rather than when I feel ready. Sometimes that goes well, other times it doesn't. She's also having me work on my endurance — we take a lot of breaks during my lessons (ahem), so trotting and cantering for a whole seven minutes! seems a bit intimidating for me right now!

Anyway, we practiced each direction twice during our lesson, and my trainer videoed the second practice run. I didn't have much room on memory card, so she just recorded the trot and canter parts, with one video for each direction.

The first practice run — the one that didn't get videoed — was okay, but going the second direction I kissed at Panama for the canter, which I never do because he is so goosey. Of course, he exploded into the canter, so I guess I learned my lesson!

The first direction of the second practice run, I got a similar explosion, this time because I rushed it and didn't half-halt him before asking for the canter. I lost my left stirrup and nearly lost my balance, but I stayed in the saddle and kept cantering! I guess it's good to know that I can canter safely with only one stirrup.

It's hard to see in the video, but I lost my stirrup when Panama exploded forward, so that entire time I was cantering without a stirrup!

The other direction was much better, as my trainer helped me prepare for the canter a little more. Panama still took off, but when I commented on that, my trainer said, "That was just a Panama-style transition." Huh. I think that may have been a nice way of saying my horse has a little too much energy...

As you can probably tell, I'm getting better at sitting the canter, but I'm still not moving with the horse's movement quite the way I should be. We have four weeks until the show, so hopefully some more practice will help with that — I just need to get the cajones to practice without my trainer there! I also need to get used to some other things — my trainer is "picking on my equitation," as she puts it, and also trying to get me not to cluck and talk to Panama as much as I do.

After our lesson today I went right out on the trail — our second trail ride this week — but I'll blog about that in a separate post. We rode for about 2 ½ hours today, and my legs are starting to feel it!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

New advertisers!

Wow! I just found out last night that one of my favorite horse supply websites is now a part of the Google Affiliate Network. I started advertising on my websites through the Google Affiliate Network back in March, when Amazon fired their Colorado affiliates, because Barnes & Noble is one of their advertisers.

They have plenty of other advertisers, but not many horse-related advertisers, so this blog wasn't much affected by the advertising change — except that I had to remove all of the Amazon ads, of course. But yesterday I got an email from the Google Affiliate Network announcing that my favorite horse site was a new advertiser, so I immediately signed up to advertise for them on my blog!

I also signed up for another horse site called, which has mainly riding apparel but also a lot of other stuff, such as grooming supplies and tack. They also have an awesome selection of riding boots, with a bunch of their Mountain Horse boots on sale, so I couldn't help shopping a little.

Aren't these adorable? I'm not usually a big fan of pink, but I really like them! They come in black, too. I really like the street style-turned-riding boot, and the graphics are cute too of course. I love to ride in tennis shoes, but I'm always afraid of getting my foot stuck in the stirrup without the little heel to stop it from happening, so these would be perfect!

I always joke that I spend more money on my horse's "clothing" than on my own. Does it count as spending money on myself if I'm buying something to ride in?

Anyway, I hope you'll check out my new "sponsors" on my blog. These aren't pay per click ads — I get paid a commission for sales that come from my blog — but if you do happen to buy from either of these sites already, I'd be very appreciative if you went through one of my ads!

The funniest, truest horse book EVER!

iconIf you are only going to buy one horse book, I think it should be this one. Not because it is a good reference book, or because it is touching or inspiring or has beautiful photography, but because it is hilarious — and so damn true!

I found this book at Barnes & Noble tonight, and had only read a few pages before I knew I was going to buy it. I read almost the entire thing there — it is only about 100 pages and all cartoons — but I bought it anyway because I am going to show it to every person I know and then keep it on my coffee table.

It's not the kind of thing you can really explain, so here is an example of one of the cartoons (sorry for the cell phone-quality pic):

Hold Your Horses by Bonnie Timmons

And the entire book is like that. Funny but so true, in a way that you only get if you spend a lot of time around horses. I was snickering constantly — I think I actually drove off a couple of people sitting near us, and I know I drove off my husband!

It would make an inexpensive coffee table book or novelty book, but the quality is nice enough to make it a great gift for horse people. Definitely a book you'll want to share with all your horsey friends!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trailer practice

I meant to post about this yesterday after the session with my trainer, but getting the word out about the stolen horse seemed more important.

In preparation for the schooling show in June, my trainer and I decided to practice trailering Panama. Those of you who have been reading my blog a while will remember that Panama had a very bad experience with a trailer when he was very young (story and pictures). You'll probably also remember all the work we've done, and all the ups and downs, with trailering.

With all this in mind, I wanted to start practicing early and get Panama comfortable not only with trailering, but also with the idea of going somewhere, working, and coming home. This will be a fairly new concept for him, since every time the trailer comes out, it means he is leaving his home.

We did our first session of trailer practice yesterday, using the same trailer my trainer borrowed to bring him to the new barn back in October. It is a very nice, roomy, two-horse slant-load. Panama likes it too, judging by his relative willingness to get on it.

After I turned him out (he bucked and ran in circles with his tail in the air, so he definitely needed it today), we started working with the trailer. He actually got all the way on within the first couple of minutes, but then scared himself by turning all the way around inside — the wrong way — and charged out once he realized my trainer still had the lead and was now standing behind him. After that, he was unwilling to get back on, but eventually — with some coaxing, and a few mental breaks to let him eat grass as a reward for progress — he did get all the way on.

Once we got him on, my trainer worked on getting him to stand there with her for progressively longer amounts of time, then to load and unload with one door shut, and then to stand there while we closed the partition. Once he started getting on, he acted like a pro about all of the rest. We ended the session when he permitted me to shut him up in the trailer, taking the whole thing like a champ — he was more interested in sticking his head out the window than in the fact that I was closing the partition and shutting him in.

Next time we are going to drive him around a little, and I think I'll ride him immediately afterward so that he gets used to the idea of trailering, then riding. After that, once the results of the Coggins test come back, we will trailer him over to the barn where the show will be held, and have our lesson there.

It's all very exciting, and I am very proud of him for how well he handled everything yesterday. I also have a funny story to share. After I turned Panama out, and before we started working with the trailer, my trainer was talking to another boarder next to the truck and trailer, so I walked Panama over there. He had been very interested and concerned about the trailer, both before I got him from his corral and during turnout, as if he knew it was for him. He gave it a wide berth when we walked over, so I encouraged him to walk up and sniff it.

My trainer had one of the window grates down, and within a few moments Panama had figured out that he could swing it out and drop it back against the side of the trailer. Of course, every time it banged back down again, he jumped and pulled back — only to reach forward and do it again. I swear, that horse enjoys scaring himself sometimes — like a kid wanting to hear scary stories before bedtime, despite knowing it will give him nightmares!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Another stolen kids' horse: Do I see a pattern?

Another kids' horse, stolen! Do I see a pattern here?

A month ago I posted about a stolen kids' horse, a little girl's horse from New Mexico. I don't know if that one ever found its way home.

This time, a little boy's horse was stolen at a team roping competition in Texas. She is a 9-year-old bay mare, 15 hands high, and it sounds like her only really defining characteristic is a brand on her right hip. The family is offering a $7,500 reward for the horse's return.

View more news videos at:

Please repost on your blogs, on Facebook, on anywhere you can think of and let's get this kid's horse home to him!


Several things about these two horse thefts have the wheels turning in my head.

1) Both of these horses were kids' horses, which I think are the most marketable on today's market. You can sell a dead broke, done everything, kid-safe horse faster and for more money.

2) Both of these horses were stolen from the same general area.

3) Both of these horses were pretty nondescript. Fugly points out that the little boy's horse is a pretty ordinary-looking bay mare. How many of those are at my barn alone? An all-black gelding isn't going to stand out to anyone, either.

Now, these thefts are probably unrelated, but I can't help but think that they could be. Someone — or a ring of someones — could be stealing and reselling nondescript kid-safe horses in the Southwest. It's a frightening thought!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cantering... and falling

Despite the fact that I fell during yesterday's lesson, I am getting better at cantering. I'm getting a little bit better about feeling the rhythm. I am starting to be able to sit back in the saddle without feeling like I'm going to blast off, though I'm still hitting the saddle a bit harder than I should. I've also been practicing my sitting trot, and that's getting better too.

I made the most progress during Friday's lesson, when I finally started getting the hang of sitting back and moving with the rhythm of the canter. I still have a lot of practicing to do, but at least I'm not leaving Planet Earth with every stride. Panama is being so good and putting up with all of it without so much getting impatient!

My trainer gave me some homework for over the weekend — sitting the trot without stirrups — but I didn't have a chance to practice much so she put me through "boot camp" yesterday! That was her phrase, anyway. She made me do lots of sitting trot, with and without stirrups (and sometimes with only one stirrup). We also discover that I suck at adjusting my stirrups at anything faster than a walk, so she made me take my feet in and out while trotting. Boot camp, indeed.

Late in the lesson, she had me go back to cantering in the two-point. I quickly discovered — when I nearly blasted off again — that although I'm getting better at moving with the rhythm, I still can't do it worth a damn in the two-point. My problem is that I can't seem to figure out how to unlock my hips and move them separately from my back, so when my trainer says to sit tall and put my shoulders back, my hips freeze up too! Occasionally I get it, but it's only for a few strides at a time, so by the time she's finished telling me "Good job!" I've f---ed it up again.

Then Panama decided to do something that showed how unstable I am cantering in the two-point: He shied away from something at the rail. (Who knows what?) It was a classic example of him turning right, and me flying off left. I said, "Oh!" as I went airborne, too, which probably made it seem even more cartoon-like. I sort of landed on my feet, but the momentum sent me tumbling backward. Because of the way I was turned, I actually watched Panama run away from me as I fell.

It wasn't a hard fall by any means — I won't be sore at all tomorrow, I'm sure — but I got tons of arena sand down the back of my pants. But my trainer put my right back in the saddle, so what was I to do except ride with the sand in my pants? And ride I did. I even cantered again — and did much better that time, according to my trainer!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Preventing barn fires

On Sunday there was a bad barn fire in the north metro area of Denver. A number of horses were killed — originally they said 8 died, but now think it was more like 12.

In this case the police suspect arson, but it brings up a subject I've been meaning to blog on: how to prevent barn fires. Since hay can spontaneously combust, anyone who keeps horses needs to know what to do in order to minimize the risk of fire.

Here are the basic precautions to take. Readers, let me know if I've left something out!

* Store hay in a separate structure, or at least away from the barn, if possible
* Don't allow hay to get wet (damp hay can spontaneously combust)
* Be sure your hay storage area is well ventilated — structures should have a high roof and
* Sweep the aisles and don't let hay scraps, shavings, etc. build up

* Don't allow smoking in the barn

It surprises me how many barns fail to prohibit smoking inside the barn. I've watched people casually drop their cigarettes inside the barn, even when there is hay underfoot. Considering what is at stake, I would think boarders and barn owners alike would be more concerned about this!

Anyway, I'm sure I've forgotten something — can you think of anything else?


Monday, May 10, 2010

Why I need a horse trailer

This is the gorgeous Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, about an hour south of where we live.

Rock spires in Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

After eating lunch and shopping in Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs, Michael and I took our moms through here this evening. We didn't hike, but there are trails all throughout the park — for horseback riding as well as hiking and cycling.

I really need to get a horse trailer someday!

Rock spires in Garden of the  Gods, Colorado Springs

Happy Mother's Day — I hope everyone's day was as beautiful as mine!

Rock spires in Garden of the  Gods, Colorado Springs


Thursday, May 6, 2010

West Nile vaccine recall!

This is just a heads up I'm reposting from mugwump's blog: Intervet Previnile West Nile vaccine is being recalled because it's causing anaphylactic shock in horses. This is bad news — horses are dying from it! It's kind of late in the season to be recalling spring vaccines, but if your horse has already gotten it and is okay, no worries. If you have the vaccine sitting around, though, waiting to be given, be sure you return it!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New addition

Meet Ivan.

Stray kitty we adopted

My sister found this little guy lying on the side of a busy road in North Colorado Springs. He wasn't moving and she thought he was dead, but luckily she stopped anyway — and found him looking up at her with bright orange-gold eyes. He was perfectly fine, just too terrified to move.

We're pretty sure Ivan was dumped. His claws are all torn up, and we think he was probably thrown out of a car. Most likely he was too frightened to go anywhere, and just made it to the ditch and stayed there. My sister took him to her vet and had him tested for FIV and FeLV (both negative). They also vaccinated him. He was unneutered (remedied that today) and they thought between 6 and 10 months old — more likely on the older end of that range.

He's a big kitty for his age, long-bodied and with legs like stilts, weighing in at just under 10 pounds! He is going to be HUGE by the time he gets done growing. He is also pretty timid, but very sweet and affectionate once he starts trusting you. He is intimidated by the dogs and is staying pretty much in the basement guest room right now, but he is gradually expanding his "territory," and I think before long he'll start venturing upstairs.

We weren't planning on getting another cat so soon, but we've already named Ivan, who came to us without a name. Our other cat (a rather plump black female) is the main concern — she never was very social with Prince, and seemed to adjust well to being an only kitty after he was gone. So far she's not acting terribly different, since Ivan stays downstairs so much, though she is a bit crabby about venturing downstairs to use the litter box. He is very interested in her, however, which she doesn't appreciate.

Despite our reservations, it looks as if we are again a two-cat family. Although he'll never replace Prince in my heart, I do still feel good about giving a sweet kitty a good home.