Sunday, March 9, 2008

I miss you, my sweet Ana

Now that I'm starting to be able to think about Ana without crying uncontrollably, I'd like to write a little bit about her all to short life.

Ana was a true miracle. Her mother was emaciated and abused, and left with two studs, and I never did find out who Ana's father was. I had planned on DNA testing, but it is unimportant now. I was so worried that Ana would be unhealthy considering how undernourished her dam was. I watched Jen day in and day out for signs of foaling for 2 months. I kept her on camera, and I slept on the couch for 2 weeks, setting my alarm for every 2 hours to check the camera. To say I was exhausted is an understatement! As Jen got closer to foaling, I started setting my clock for every hour.

Jen was afraid to use a stall or shelter, and she was also so herdbound that she became extremely anxious, agitated and stressed in the roundpen where I had set her up. It was so severe that she was pacing the fenceline and doing this head flip thing that reminded me of the bears in he zoo who have gone insane from lack of stimulation and confinement. It was very unnerving. So I had hurriedly rigged up a section of the paddock for her, and bedded the favorite sleeping spot with bales and bales of hay. I put up snow fence so her foal wouldn't roll under the electric fence by mistake, and Christmas lights around the perimeter so that I had some light on the camera and could see. It still wasn't perfect, but I could usually at least see where she was standing, and if she was standing I knew that she wasn't foaling (most likely!)

The evening of May 17, I thought Jen was very close. All the signs were there, but Jen was very quiet, not fidgeting or fussing at all like many mares do. Her udder was ready, her backend was ready, all systems were "go". I watched her every hour. When I woke up about midnight, I checked the camera and saw Jen standing. I laid back down, but couldn't get to sleep. Around 12:20 or so I looked again, and Jen was laying down. Then she stood up, and I almost closed my eyes and tried to sleep again, then she went down again, then up, and back down. I was pretty sure this was time! So I woke my husband told him I was going outside. Of course, all the other horses came barreling over to the barn when they saw me come out in the middle of the night. I quietly crept over to Jen's pen. She was laying down flat out, pushing! So I stayed back, quietly watching. She pushed a few times, I saw feet, and a nose. Then she pushed 3 or 4 more times with no progress. Considering Jen was so thin and depleted, I didn't want her expending more energy than necessary. So I headed down, grabbed onto feet, and with the next contraction, I applied traction to help her along. I felt a little "pop", and out slid this perfect little bay baby!

I grabbed a towel and rubbed her dry and rubbed her all over her entire body before she got up. Jen had gotten up, and when Ana was ready to stand I helped her up. Jen nickered to her, and licked her like a good mama. She was getting crampy, and didn't want baby to nurse, so I gave her some Banamine (she had already slipped the afterbirth). She then settled down, and I helped Ana figure out how to nurse. She drank, she pooped, and she peed. With those milestones out of the way, she then started investigating the world immediately. She visited the other horses at the fenceline, much to her mothers admonishments. She walked, she trotted, she cantered! She was so excited to be born, and loved to fly freely through the night.

I retired to bed, and the next morning found the fence half down. I set about setting the other horses up in the upper paddock, and took down the electric fence and snow fence and gave Jen and Ana the lower paddock for themselves. Ana already was helping me with fencework at less than 24 hours old. A true Curly!!!

I decided to name her Huyana, which is a Native American word for "rain falling". It had rained for 2 days before Ana was born, it cleared up the night she was born, and then it started raining again and rained for another 2 days.

Ana adored people from her first moment on earth. She loved nothing more than to have attention, being scratched, petted, and played with. Ana loved her udders scratched so much that she would lift a hind leg to allow you better access. She loved her belly rubbed, and that little crevice between her butt cheeks!

Oh, she had so much personality! She loved to run, and play, and leap and cavort around! She made excuses to play, and would pretend she was spooked so she could race around, bucking. She had a particular interest in my wheelbarrow from the very beginning. Every day of her life, she licked and chewed the wheelbarrow. She tried climbing in it. When she got big enough, she started knocking it over if I left it long enough for her to sneak in there. She chewed the left handle (only the left one!)

Every evening, she would have a little romp session after her dinner. She began eating grain pretty soon, she started stealing her mothers (and her mother would have none of THAT!) so I started giving her small handuls at only a couple of weeks old, and increased as she grew. So after she finished her bucket, while the other horses were still working on theirs, and while I was cleaning manure, she would race around the paddock, bucking and rearing, tossing her head, and having a good old time. She would circle around me, then come racing past me, letting her heels fly on the way by! She thought it was such a great game!!!

Ana was also quite sensible for such a youngster. She learned to lead and give her feet very quickly. She was very proud of "being like the big horses". She so wanted to do what they did, much like a human child. If I brushed another horse, she was right behind me, almost climbing on me begging for her turn. If I haltered another horse, she was sticking her nose in their halter. If I put a bareback pad or saddle on another horse, Ana was right there, grabbing it and trying to put it on her own back.

In December of '07, I wanted to take my annual Christmas photos of the horses. I put a Santa hat on them, and little bows, and take pics for my Christmas card. I started with April, as she is always game to get dressed up, brushed, etc., she loves attention. As I'm putting bows in April's mane, Ana was picking up the bows, then taking the props in my bag and putting them on herself. I hadn't intended on using her for pics, as I didn't think she would stand still or appreciate things on her body, since she was still a youngster. Boy, was I wrong!! Ana was so proud to be dressed up, that she literally stood taller and pranced around. She turned around and looked at the things on her body, admiring them. She had beads draped around her neck, a tablecloth on her back, a bow in her tail and bows in her mane, and a Santa hat on her head. She was so proud of herself, and she posed so nicely for her photos. Then the Santa hat fell off her head, and she picked it up and her teeth and had such fun with it, flipping it around through the air, tossing it, pawing it.

Ana made me smile every single day, and for that I miss her most. Even when she was at her worst devilish self, rather than making me angry, it was more of a "tsk, tsk, tsk -- Ana will you please STOP that?" Ana would grab the velcro on my coat sleeves and rip it, then restick it, and rip it again. She would grab the little zipper pulls on my coat (which unfortunately had short little elastic pulls on them), between her teeth, and pull the elastic back then FWAP!!! it back which is quite unpleasant! She would untie the laces on my shoes or boots, then put her teeth around the base of the lace, and pull her head up, running the lace between her teeth (which eventually pulled the little plastic ends off all of them).

She also would of course grab my hair and chew on it, and pull it, rest her head on my shoulder, grab my coat from behind if I wasn't paying attention and pull on it. Once she grabbed the back of the collar of my coat and yanked so yard I almost fell backward!!! She did get in trouble for that one, the little imp. She was such a little monster, but it was all in fun, she never, ever did anything mean.

It was very difficult to get photos of Ana, because she always had to be so close to you, I would run backwards while snapping shots, hoping to get a decent one out of the bunch, or sneak around the corner and snap one.

Then Ana discovered that she had "The Power". She had the power to move another horse. Oh, what fun!!!! The first time she pinned her ears at Leroy, he moved away. Her head popped up, her ears pricked forward and she looked right at him. You could just see her saying: "Huh, check that out! He moved!" Then she did it again, and again, and then again. Poor Leroy. Ana thought it was the greatest thing to move another horse, and she did it often, just because she could. None of the other horses put up with her sillyness, but Leroy allowed her to rear up and jump on him, she would leap up and bite his neck, back and shoulders, and he would just look at her "Silly girl...... harumph"

Then on February 28th, I found Ana 3-legged, with her front left hoof just sort of hanging there. X-rays showed that she had shattered P1 (pastern). To say I'm devastated is an understatement. I had so many hopes for Miss Ana. She would have been such a bold, confident trail horse, and so much fun! I was looking forward to building out relationship together, a horse with no emotional baggage from past owners, one that I grew together with and had a bond with like no other. But it was apparently not to be ......

Goodbye, Ana. I miss you, your momma misses you, your aunties and uncle miss you. You were a shining light, the silver lining in the dark cloud of Jen's life. You brought so much life, joy, and happiness. Until we meet again, my little Ana-Banana........


Pam said...

I'm so sorry you lost your sweet girl. She sounds like such a great horse. We had a little colt under similar circumstances, you get so attached to those babies. It's great she was with you when born, and had a great, love filled life.

Hoof said...

Michelle, I am so sorry you lost Miss Ana. We went thru a freak accident with our 2 1/2 yr old mustang, Boomer, a while back, and you described so much of what I still feel after 4 months.
Reading about Ana really touched me deep - it was like you were writing about Boomer's sister! I bet they are playing together now, getting in everyone else's business! :-)
Thunder Boomer was his name - born during a thunder storm less than 6 hrs after we adopted his Mom, Halo.

Pam is right, we do get attached. But sometimes there is just something that is a different kind of special with certain ones.

Thank goodness Jen got to meet you, and thank goodness Ana knew nothing but love.

God Bless
Karen C.
Harrisburg, MO

woolies said...

hi. I found my way to your blog via another blog that left a post on my blog - what a great way to meet people! Just read your story about Ana ~ so so sad. We have two horses - come read about 'the great escape'!

Brie said...

Oh Michelle! I am so sorry to hear that Ana has crossed the Rainbow Bridge. It sounds like her life was a bright and happy gift to you, just as it was your gift to her. It certainly sounds like she spent her short time here LIVING life to its fullest. I wish I had been able to meet her, she sounds like she was truly a character.

It gives me goose bumps reading about her. I can tell she truly was one of a kind.