Letters from Laura: In Rememberance of Moose
The cold winds and snow of Ohio’s winter are upon us. Some mornings these elements make it a daunting task to rise up from my warm, toasty bed. But rise I must as my charges await me at both my barn and at the Disbrow’s. God has blessed me with three beautiful registered paint horses of my own and with the opportunity to care for the horses and ponies at my “home away from home” also known as the Ramm Research & Development Farm.
My life’s journey, thus far, with horses, has led me down a variety of trails. All of them have been unique as the next. One such exciting trail led me to the Bryan barn (as I call it at home). Five years ago I was presented the opportunity to begin working at Debbie and Mike’s farm simply doing chores in the morning or afternoon as my scheduled allowed. I was in awe the moment I drove into the driveway of the farm… beautiful fencing, new barn and an indoor arena to die for! Cleaning stalls would not be such a bad chore in a barn like this I remember thinking! As changes occurred at the barn, so too did the experiences I would be given a choice to embrace… a little over two and a half years ago Debbie offered me the opportunity to manage the facility! From that day to now, I have had the responsibility of scheduling the employees who assist in daily chores at the barn; ordering feed and supplies; making sure that major and minor cleaning happens and, maintaining each animal’s health record. It doesn’t seem like – it’s really work that is part of who I am.
I have had lots of adventures at the barn over the five years. It seems to me us horse people always seem to make the dullest of moments in time more amusing than most. My story for you today is not one of amusement, rather it is of remembrance… it’s my recollection of Moose, the 2-year-old Appaloosa at the barn.
Photographs of Moose. People photo shows Laura Rohlf (right), with horsewoman Lynn Palm (center), and Laura’s daughter Krysten (left), all at the RAMM Equine Research and Development Farm in Bryan, Ohio.
Moose came to the farm as gift to Kristen (Debbie’s daughter) from her husband Paul as a weanling. A “cuter than a bug’s ear”colt, Moose was named after the ice cream called Moose Tracks. His appearance was the epitome of beautiful Appaloosa breeding! With a white coat flecked with light chocolate brown spots, Moose did indeed look like the ice cream he was named after. As a weanling on the farm, Moose was affection, orneriness and beauty all wrapped up into one nice loveable package. As he grew, so too did his sweet and loving disposition.
Moose loved to romp in the dry lot with the donkeys, run and kick in the pasture with his buddy Baxter and nicker to everyone who might pass his stall in the morning. He had the disposition that most humans long for in their horse mates.
He was allowed to be a baby- but with us all being mindful of his developing habits, his first year at the farm.
In May of 2009, Moose received his first lessons in training– those beyond his well-mannered beginnings with his mommy and Kay (who is an employee for Ramm Horse Fencing & Stalls and was a first time breeder when her mare foaled Moose), during a clinic with Kenny Harlow. Unfortunately, those lessons became short lived. The following Monday of the clinic I found Moose down in the pasture. After a series of consultations and “what should we do’s” and many months of holding out hope that Moose would come around- a final diagnosis of EPM was provided through the infamous blood test that confirmed what most horse folks would just as soon ignore… the prognosis of this dreadful disease was simply not good.
So, here I am one day after the assisted passing of Moose wondering, as I am sure we all do when we are faced with such situations, “did I do everything I could to help him”- I call it the “woulda, shoulda, coulda” syndrome. The conclusion of the conversations in my head over this, boiled down to this- hindsight is always 20/20. There are always more things that can be done in just about every situation. But the reality in owning and loving a horse, I believe, is that sometimes we just have to let go. No matter how hard we want to keep spending dollar upon dollar, expending hours and hours and pouring one’s self into their existence-it almost becomes a selfish thing to do in keeping them alive. Quality of life is essential and sometimes our beloved equine friends, much like human friends, need for us to say good-bye. It was a painful decision for Kristen and Debbie, but well weighed out- just like most hard decisions come to be.
I know several things from this, my fifth experience in having to say a final good-bye to one more equine friend- we say good-bye with tears, we let go of the fears of what life would present him dealing with the neurological challenges of having EPM and that we can and will keep forever in our minds his happier days romping round the pasture. From the beginning to the end Moose was loved by Kristen, Debbie, I and the company’s employees, who on a daily basis, were greeted by that sweet, soft nicker as they walked by his stall.
And, for me, with Moose’s passing yet another adventure has begun.
Laura Rohlf is the Barn Manager for the RAMM Equine Research and Development Farm in Bryan, Ohio.
(That’s Laura on the right, with renowned horsewoman, Lynn Palm, in the middle, and Laura’s daughter, Krysten, on the left)
Meet the Farm Manager of the RAMM Equine Research and Development Farm! Each month Laura will talk to you about her experiences at the farm as well as her work with youth riders, horse shows, and horse care.
“Hi! My name is Laura and I am the Barn Manager at the RAMM Equine Research and Development Farm in Bryan, Ohio. Horses have been a passion of mine since I was 8 years old. My official start with horses began with 4-H horse projects. I had lots of great folks teaching me the “grass roots” of handling and being around horses.
My experience with horses have been mostly youth programming – as an Assistant Riding Director at a Girl Scout Camp after college, assisting with local horse shows, and through other 4-H activities as an adult as well. I have also taught others how to approach their equine business with sound management practices that assist them in running equine businesses. I even manage to find time to sew clothes. In addition to taking care of the animals at the farm, I am the proud owner of three American Paint horses – Buddy, Peppy, and Skip.
Working at the barn has enabled me to see an expanded side of the equine industry and the common sense approach to fencing and housing of our equine friends.”
Do you have questions about horses or barn management? Send an email to Laura at: firstname.lastname@example.org -and Debbie and Laura will work to answer your questions!