Straight From the Horse's Mouth

Pasquale, 40-something-year-old Quarter Horse, speaks his mind

Tribute to Pasquale, Part 2

Anna and P-pot (age 43), after winning the Jack Benny Class Special Award


The last notes from the P-pot diary, about his last year:


There's no limit to what a geldin' 'll do to get a little freedom. I only had to hurt myself to get it. prove myself incapable of gettin' around much, and wa-lah - I'm a free man - from Houdini to Free Willie. That's why y'all hadn't heard from me in awhile. First I was takin' time off, then we moved in the summer of '02, and the day before the move I hurt my good back leg. (I was a young 46 then.) It's been a long time recoverin', but I am enjoyin' myself now - I am (and have been since we moved here) free to roam the local territory, and in fact the world, if I want. Wunna these days I'm gonna do just that - or at least get to the lake.

I reckon I earned seniority of a special kind (havin' been around since the time of the classic '57 Chevy, people think I'm kinda special.) Even I don't know any-horse-body as old as me. And bein' that I now live in a neighborhood of horses and horsefolk - in front, behind, and on either side - I ain't got many boundaries. Some physical limitations of the body, but that ain't bad at my age. I ain't overweight, I ain't gotta work, and my buddies still respect me. When I am in with them, they know better than to shove ME around.. I just might tip over, heheh.

Startin' the day I twisted my ankle, I have had the benefit of free-range feedin', homeopathic remedies, Equine Touch, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, acupressure, TTouch, essential oils,The Treatment, natural liniment, healthy and delicious herbs, and great REAL food - mostly organic. Fresh veggies, fruits, seeds, nuts, organic grains. Expert hoof trimmin' (I had trouble standin' on two good legs but they managed), proper dental care, and even some butt stitches... Now I am up to enough trouble that they know I am gettin' better.

P-pot (age 40) giving pony rides at the family picnic

My daily ritual is I make the rounds - head on out to the back of the pasture (OUTside of it) to eat some fresh, chemical-free alfalfa, hang out with the deer or the snoopin' cats, then head on back in for more of my always-available mash. It's the life, all right. My buddies inside the pasture follow along with me to see what I'm up to and to ask if I can let them out too. Most days I go for a walk toward the neighbor's farm for exercise - with my person, that is. Sometimes when we go I want to canter and she can barely keep up with me, especially down the hill. She won't let go of the rope 'cause she thinks I might step on it and wipe out. I can still prance when I get excited, but I sure get tired after it. I need to lean my hips on my person sometimes to walk a decent straight line. An old body can be a challenge.

And for the rest of his life, that is how it was, and he had anything he wanted and needed that I could give him. Plenty of TLC. I even cleared a "shortcut" trail for him through the wooded hill behind the barn. It delighted me every time he used it because it was challenging, so I knew he was feeling good and adventurous. Eventually the walks got shorter and his visits to the alfalfa fewer 'til he stayed in closer proximity to home. He asked less often to be put in with his buddies. His episodes of lying down and not being able to get up without help got more frequent. I knew what was coming (I had been expecting it for almost 20 years!) yet I didn't give up on him; as long as he wanted to eat, he was fed. On his last day, the day he went down for the last time, his appetite was really fading - an enthusiastic mouthful or two, then no interest. that was how I knew it was to be his last day. And I accepted that.

We've been asked about what foods P-pot liked in his later years, so we thought it might be helpful to share them here. But remember each horse has different needs. All these were organic unless absolutely unavailable. Not all were given regularly; he was offered an assortment on a tray periodically to determine his wants and needs. I believed he knew what he needed. I also believed that offering a wide variety of choices kept his appetite from getting deranged.

P-pot (age 39) babysitting

Many of his molars were down to the nubs or gone - only two sets of opposing molars were left - so some of his food was purchased shredded and pelleted, and some was home-processed daily in a blender and coffee-grinder. Meals were fed in a tub on the ground several times a day to minimize freezing in the winter and souring in the summer. Chunk salt (natural chunks with minerals), loose salt (sea salt), kelp, minerals, and water were always available to him.

JJ trotting on P-pot (age 35)

His diet consisted of:

Unlimited graz ing, with access to woods containing poison ivy, wild rose, many kinds of berries, and other natural plants. He loved hiding from the flies and rubbing on the trees and underbrush in there.

Alfalfa, fresh, chemical-free. He ate what he needed and didn't over-eat, thankfully.

Alfalfa pellets (no preservatives) as wanted. Wetted with water to soften.

Beet pulp WITH molasses as wanted. He had no blood sugar problems and wouldn't eat the plain kind (unless I added molasses or veggie tonic).

P-pot (age 27) on the Texas trail

Hemp seed, hulled. A favorite (NOT where the name P-pot came from; hemp is NOT pot!)

Orange wedges. There were times when he liked these and times when he didn't.

Other soft fresh fruits. Offered occasionally - watermelon for one.

P-pot's cookies. Soft and del icious (see recipe last issue).

Ground up fresh: Short-grain brown rice, oats, uncleaned (hulls and head stems intact), wheat, barley (sparingly; it sometimes gave him loose manure), flax seed, sunflower seed, soybeans (dried and unprocessed), pumpkin seeds, rose hips

Blender foods: Dried apricots, carrots, garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, lemon, apple, beets

Other: Many kinds of herbs (fresh and dried), vegetable-herb tonic, probiotics with enzymes, lecithin, bromelain, yeast-derived selenium, magnesium, evening primrose oil, vitamin E, devil's claw, turmeric, slippery elm, and that's all I can remember...

P-pot had a lot of help from a lot of people and products, and he and I are forever grateful to them all. Our kind neighbors always came running no matter how many times they heard "P-pot's down.". We even had a Neighborhood P-pot Watch for when I had to leave for more than a few hours. He was a delightful, very special horse and it is my wish that everyone can enjoy knowing one like him!

P-pot (age 25) taking a break from polo to swim in the Colorado River , upstream, in Texas