Tag Archives: horses

Wild Places

by Kate

My sister Mary loves her horse.

portrait of mary and horse by nicole slattery


She loves our family, and the big white farmhouse high on a ridge where we grew up.

slattery farmhouse sweet ridge farm

She loves sunlight.

autumn horse back ride sweet ridge sisters

She loves solitude and silence.

nicole slattery photography portrait horse wisconsin

These pictures were taken a week ago by my lovely and talented sister in law Nicole, as Mary soaked up some of the last autumn sunlight in Wisconsin before boarding a train to the big city of Pittsburgh. The light of autumn is pouring down upon this city too, but the buildings are packed together and reach toward the sky, and the traffic roars down city streets.

pittsburgh cathedral saint paul

For my solitude and silence loving farm girl sister, it’s a bit of an adjustment- even with an enthusiastic city bred niece ready and willing to show her how to embrace the world of the city.

carnegie library trees pittsburgh

I’ve worked hard to raise my daughter as a confident city child who is equally comfortable running wild in the country.

running the hay bales

I know that Mary will never be a city girl, and I wouldn’t want her to be. But it is my hope that during her stay here (no matter how long or how brief) she can find in this stone city the wild places she needs to feed her soul.

morning glories and a castle pittsburgh

Mad Mars

By: Mary

Mad Mars has become more or less of a nickname for my horse along with the other reference he goes by which is “the beast”. It’s not exactly that he is an angry sort of creature. However, he is the kind of horse that has a lot of go. This means that he can get extra antsy when he feels like he needs to defend the herd of mares that he runs with or when he is moving cows. His toughness has come in very handy when moving cows on Saturdays at my oldest brother’s ranch. He’s a bogger when chasing cows in  marshy areas, and he can to get places or in front of cows in a flash.

Last Saturday my horse and I were enjoying a crisp fall-like day before things went from bad to worse. First a bull charged us, later I got scraped off my horse when trying to duck under the low bows of an ancient apple tree in need of desperate pruning. This sent me flying into the trunk of a neighboring apple tree. Minus ripping the back of my shirt in two, I was fine. After some slight alterations of tying the straps of my shirt all was well… for at least 30 minutes.


Later we trailed two bulls along the highway, When they  veered off the road and through tall weeds, we did to. After passing through the weeds I felt Mars start to limp. My guess is that he hit a culvert and slashed his leg. After a lot of bleeding and sorrow I decided to bring him back to my parent’s place on the ridge.


Twice a day dressings, shots and hosing him off have become routine. The vet thinks he didn’t severe his tendon which was my worst fear.


He is really a rather fabulous lawn ornament as he recuperates.


Maybe it’s not a noble as being the king of the herd


But the sight of him makes me happy


And someday we will be chasing those stupid bulls again!

Photo credit to Clare Slattery

A Kaleidoscope Of Reflections

By Mary

Upcoming summer thoughts were dancing in my head on Memorial Day weekend. I was busy entertaining musings of summer plans, and enjoying the anticipation of the return to wearing shorts and tank tops while running around in sun soaked elements.

Thoughts quickly turned to absorb the news that was discussed at the Memorial Day grill out I was attending. The big news was that a girl I know whose adoptive parents work for my brother had been in a very serous accident. After being ejected from the windshield and rolled over by the car she was driving, the girl was being stabilized, but was paralyzed.

Merely 2 weeks or so after her accident, I took a fall from my horse. At a high-speed, I flew over his head and faceplanted. At the time I was about 2 miles from any human, and had no phone on me. All the pressure from the fall went directly to that of my face and neck. For a minute I simply lay on the side of a shallow winding crick, wondering if I ever would be able to move again.

Though it’s been months since the fall, I am still filled with a sense of gratitude and awe that I was able to stumble up and collect Mars’ reins in my shaking hands.

Today I had the choice of using my strong legs to either run a 10K trail race, or to go to a trail ride benefit for the beautiful young lady who was injured in May and can no longer move her neck nor feel her legs.

I chose to go to the benefit and spent the gorgeous September afternoon on horseback with the company of my best friend and sister-in-law, Aurora.

The leaves couldn’t have looked more splendid.

There colors reflected upon the still hills like a kaleidoscope of autumnal radiance.

Today I paid special attention to living in the moment. Nothing is a given.

I am extremely blessed that I was able to get up after that late afternoon fall that resulted in a neck pressured faceplant. It is luminating to marvel at how beautiful and fragile life is. I hope to always remember this, and fall in love with the moment. The Chile Peppers can’t be more right with their lyrics ” Life is too short, so love the one you got”. Thank goodness for the goodness of the blessings we all take for granted.

A Horse Clinic of Sorts

By Mary

Fliers have been posted, and the word was out that all horse owners could trailer in their horses to the Viroqua Fair Grounds for a horse clinic of sorts. The days event hosted horse professionals on hand to trim hooves, float (‘file’ in non-horse lovers lingo) horses teeth, do equine chiropractic adjustments, and draw blood samples (coggins) for horses in need of clean health records.

My horse Mars needed his teeth checked and his hooves trimmed, so he was taken to Viroqua with my  teenage neighbor girls’ furry 4-legged friends, Cowboy and Cisco. Don’t they look sweet (and freezing)?

Adeline also came with the neighborhood clique. She called me at 8 in the morning to ask when I was going to pick her up. Seeing as it will be at least 11 more years before she can get her license, I obliged in picking up my little wrangler before we loaded horses. Adeline has been sick with a nasty cold and unable to go to school for the past 2 days. However, she carefully dressed for the equine occasion and brought a Christmas gift bag with chewable Ibuprofen in it- just like any tough preschool cowgirl would, you know?

At the Fair Grounds we found that we were by no means the only ones who had paid attention to the fliers. Publicity for the event had been good  and the turnout was also good.

What was not good was the weather. March weather here in the Midwest can often have a sharp biting chill with dipping temps. Poor Adeline was coughing away, so I banished her to the truck where she had my purse and her gift bag to entertain her.

Beyond the bonus of the warm cab, the view from the truck wasn’t half bad either.

Adeline had a Birdseye view of horses being brought to where a spry and cheerful Amish man was taking on the task of trimming hooves and floating teeth.

I was impressed with the Farriers attitude. When it came time to trim my horses hooves things got a little exciting. Mars reared up twice. The second time this happened both the Farrier and his tools went in different directions. After he nimbly got up and collected his nippers, it was recommended that my horse be sedated before getting trimmed. 10 minutes post sedation, Mars had a hanging head and an absent spirit. This made finishing up the job much less difficult.

After the neighbors horses were filed and trimmed, everybody got loaded up. With the heater on in the truck we were much more comfortable and eager to leave the Fair Grounds, that is after stopping for butter burgers at Culvers, because this is Wisconsin after all.

I am relieved to have my horses feet in better condition and to know his teeth were given a clean bill of health. As for cowgirl Adeline, well all I can say for her is that I hope her ibuprofen and antibiotics are steering her towards a clean bill of health so that she can pester me to give her rides on Devils Hole Red Hot Steeldust, or Mars as I prefer to call him as an alternative to his ridiculous papered name. After all his spirit is back and his feet are in great galloping order.

Sweet Adeline

By: Mary

I recently made a promise to have my niece and goddaughter, Adeline over for a sleepover. Well, this past weekend I lived up to my word. Adeline is a rather unique four year old. She is extremely tough, stubborn and particular (perhaps, that’s why we get along so well!). Being that she is so particular, she was insistent on bringing along what she packed in small 2 wicker baskets. Her packing included not one, but two sparkly pairs of shoes- one pair pink, one pair gold. She also brought her high boots to match the knee-high boots I had on at the time. A horse pendant necklace and 5 pairs of underwear were the other things she deemed necessary for the evening and morning stint away from home. My recommendation that she bring a coat was met with less enthusiasm.

At 6Am my niece woke up and announced that it was time to go ride Mars. I had to cut a compromise with her that involved waiting til a quarter to 7 to watch The Little Princess and eat a breakfast. This nutritional meal was complete with cookies, and left over chocolate milk and skittles from the previous night.

Later on in the morning after Clare was awake (Adeline really helped play a part in waking both Clare and James up) the trio of us left to ride my horse. Clare was very happy to join us, being that her other option was to help with a squash harvest that my Dad was looking for assistance with.  Below are a few pictures from the ride that the girls took up the lane, and to the Ridge History Park. At the park, I was able to try to get Adeline to become disenchanted with my Mars so I could lope circles in a nearby freshly cut field. This didn’t work so well because she is much more interested in four legged friends than  merry go rounds! What a gift it is to have a horse crazy stubborn goddaughter.


An I-Love Post

By: Mary

I love all things equestrian. I always have and always will. As a child I dreamed of moving out west. So I did. In Wyoming I worked for a treatment program, and I rode as much as I could. I rode up into the mountains, I moved cattle, chased antelope, and on hot summer days, I would tie up the horse that I was using to a  tree so I could splash into cold streams.

But I didn’t love riding there as much as I love riding my horse here.

I love finding Mars out in his pasture and bribing him with grain.


After catching him, I love catching up with him.

Some days I don’t  bother tacking up at all. No saddle, no bridle. Just a halter and lead with the wind in my hair.

Other days I do.

At times, the inner balancing queen in me is unleashed.

Last of all: here I am. This is my favorite things of all to do while riding.. GALLOPING. I love speed and wind. I love gravity daring me to keep my balance and watching the gorgeous surroundings while I dash by. It’s a love that never grows old.