The Guardian Part 2

slew before

A continuation of THE GUARDIAN by guest writer Joan M. French-Warner


(aka Nearly Lucky)

To run

To be free

A once-beautiful dark brown thoroughbred staggered in to the auction pen and was purchased by the Kill-buyer. Then “rescued” by the same animal hoarder who rescued me.

He told me that before being sent to auction, his stall mate had bullied him, keeping him from food and water. Rain rot, a bacterial infection caused by prolonged wetness, heat and humidity, covered his back and withers. Severe laminitis and an abscessed hoof caused lameness and pain. He had not been treated by a vet in years.

He was only fifteen years old.

You could see no resemblance to the proud racehorse he had been. He is the great-grandson of Seattle Slew, an American Thoroughbred who won the Triple Crown in 1977. Perhaps his racing name, “Nearly Lucky,” jinxed him. Slew had not inherited his grandfather’s racing genes. One cannot compare Slew’s career winnings of $7,300 to Seattle Slew’s total purse—$1.2 million.

A non-winning horse is obviously a liability in the racing community. His owners sold him and his fate deteriorated from there.

Slew is my stall neighbor and we watch out for each other. When I get taken to the round pen for exercise, he calls to me the entire time I’m there. He’s so happy to see me when I’m returned to my stall.

 slew now


Our Haven Realized

Three emaciated horses stared from lifeless eyes into TV cameras. A plea for donations to help seventy-five of us regain our health shattered the hearts of animal lovers.

A few years later, when it became apparent that we did not benefit from the contributions, the Board of Directors gained control of the sanctuary and hired new staff to care for us and maintain the property.

Now, a year later, we are all healthier. Several of us have been adopted by loving humans who have promised forever homes. We who remain are visited regularly by the vet who monitors our health. The farrier also makes routine visits to take care of our feet.

A few of us were moved into our own single pens with partial cover from the hot sun. Some of us remain in small herds in large pens. The pens are cleaned daily.

We can’t forget our other friends here. Two dogs remain of the thirty that were dying from mange and other diseases.

Roberto and Burrito, two of five donkeys, were close to dying. Their big bellies are telltale signs of having been given alfalfa to eat. They thrive on orchard grass for good nutrition. Acute summer sores infected their legs and faces and erased the hair in those areas. They continue to receive daily treatments of medication and care. Although they have recovered, they will carry scars for the rest of their lives.



to be continued…




All donations to MASH go directly to the feed and care of the animals. You can donate securely online through PayPal, or by mail to:


PO Box 1133

Mira Loma, CA 91752





The Guardian Part 1

This story is by Joan M. French-Warner, a friend and fellow writer. I am sharing this story with you, reader, because the cause she is advocating is a worthy one. This story will be in three parts, so check back on Tuesday and Friday for the next installments.

the guardian copy


’Twas the night before auction

And all through the pens

The horses were restless

Separated from friends

Being the oldest

I had to act brave

I said to the herd

We’ll surely be saved

They mocked me and snorted

You’re such a lame brain

You know we’ll all perish

Kill-buyers will reign

Firmly planting my feet

I flung my head high

And staunchly protested

I won’t say good-bye

Then someone took notice

Could take only two

And that person rescued

Old Dodger and Slew

Old Dodger, that’s me

And Slew, my best friend

Let me tell you about us

From beginning to end


A Magnificent Place

A Dream

We stumbled from the horse transport trailer and looked out over eleven acres of wild grasses under a canopy of eucalyptus and oak trees. A babbling brook added serenity to the peaceful, healing site for sick horses. Here, we have been promised a forever home with the best of care—plenty of good food, clean water, and medical attention.

We will be exercised and groomed every day, never again hauled from barn to barn, or back yard to back yard.

Cruel and devastating treatment behind us, we can luxuriate in our new surroundings, recuperate from our wounds, heal from disease, and enjoy the camaraderie of like companions.

A magnificent place and forever home.

A dream . . . rapidly turned to nightmare.


The stench

The flies

The cruelty of neglect

My name is Dodger. I’m a thirty-four-year-old Quarter Horse—that’s a hundred and two in people years. They nicknamed me The Guardian, mostly because I’m the oldest horse here. But I also notice all the activities of the ranch, and am aware of my herd’s needs. I know who’s sick, who should have shoes, and who has special dietary requirements.

Until recently, I suffered the unimaginable anguish of animal hoarding. Actually, most of our life here hasn’t been easy for me or my companions.

Rescued from the Kill-buyer, I hardly recognized myself—a fragile skeleton on four legs held together with a paper-thin layer of skin. I shuffled when I tried to walk, barely able to move due to the excruciating pain of laminitis. It’s a painful inflammatory condition of tissues that bond the hoof wall to the bone in the hoof.

My teeth were so rotten most of them had to be pulled. Eating alfalfa and grain became impossible. I lost even more weight.

Relief at being freed didn’t last long. I had been saved by an animal hoarder. Shoved into a small pen with other horse-mates, we stood in our own urine and feces day after day. Waste, flies and too much grain caused me to have several health ailments.

Constant seepage from my eyes streaked my face with gunk. Flies swarmed to hide their eggs in this warm, soggy mess, causing summer sores. They also chewed the tips of my ears, which are already too small for my head. I’m cursed with teddy-bear ears which humans think are cute. But I digress.

Cushings Disease affected my health in many ways. It is a dysfunction of the pituitary gland often found in older horses. It caused me to drink lots of water, the results of which certainly didn’t help the condition of my pen.

My coat, once black and shiny sleek, became dull, thick, and fell out in clumps. The hair on my legs—shaggy and caked with muck. My mane and tail—thick and matted.

I smelled really b-a-d!

No one seemed to care. No vet visits. No one gave me attention, other than to toss alfalfa into my pen each day. My head hung low. I sighed often. I became a spectacle to be stared at; a symbol of neglect to elicit human sympathy.

Gradually I lost my self—that indomitable spirit within me overflowing with life. Gone. You could see it in my eyes. Life and light—vanished.

To be continued…


All donations to MASH go directly to the feed and care of the animals. You can donate securely online through PayPal, or by mail to:


PO Box 1133

Mira Loma, CA 91752

Throwback Thursday

Oh what the heck, I’ll post a day early so I can remind you of my book, Tilted Tales under the guise of the pop culture phenomenon, throwback Thursday. Cheers!


Inner Magic

Every living being carries magic at its core,

Even those who never did a mystic thing before.


Don’t commit to memory shifty lines of magic spells.

Don’t mix yourself a brew of sense-offending smells.


The magic that I mean takes so little skill to cast.

Bet my worldly fortune that you’ve used it in the past.


It doesn’t take a wizard to figure what this means:

Loving is a power that is written in your genes.




tilted tales cover <————-Click me!!!!!!

Buy me.

What I Am Up To

I know, I know, it is really late in the day and I should have posted much sooner. But wait until you hear about what I spent my day doing (then you might forgive my flakeyness). Since it is summertime, my good pal Kristin Swartfager is out of school (she works at a preschool), at which point she switches hats from teaching young-ins to illustrating and arting up the place.



I knew you would be. Here is a taste:

Yarn for title page

Yup. It’s a ball of yarn. This is one of many adorably irresistible images that will appear in our first collaboration, Timmy Tommy Tum. It is a picture book with a rhyming story about a human-like kitten who refuses to go to sleep. Yes, it is for children.

The reason (and my excuse) for being so un-bloggy today is because Kristin and I spent the day refining our work. You will see the results of our cooperation very soon.  Until then, bask in the cuteness of the characters she drew to represent us in all of the books (yes, there will be several more to come) we do together specifically for kids.

KS&AL (1)In other news, my webpage got an update. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out here:

I will give you updates as our happy partnership produces more awesomeness. Until then, Happy reading!


Depends on who you ask

I went to my local auto dealer to buy a car last month.

“I’m sorry,” The salesman said after running my credit, ” We cannot finance you for this car. You are dead.”

“How can I be dead? I just test drove a car. I don’t think dead people drive.”

“I am only informing you of what the credit bureau has reported. You are dead. I’m sorry, you seemed like a nice person. Have a nice day.”

The salesman walked away, and I got in my old car and drove home. I went online and found the number to the credit bureau, pressed zero to talk to a human, waited on hold 25 minutes, and then finally talked to Fran Applebalm in North Dakota. Fran seemed like a nice woman at first. She tsk tsked when I said that I had been reported dead, and made sympathetic noises when I told her I was still very much alive.

“We can fix this, no problem.” Fran said once I told her my tale.

“Great! I replied. Lets do that.”

“Sure.” Said Fran, “You will just need to send me a copy of your death certificate.”

“”What?!” I shouted into the receiver. “There is no death certificate, because I am not dead!”

“You will need to calm down, Sir. I cannot help you if you become hostile.”

I counted to ten, took a deep breath, and tried again.

“Fran, I’m sure you can understand that I may have a hard time obtaining a document for an event that has yet to happen.”

“That’s no problem. Just call us back when you have the proper documents.”

“Wait, I can’t. . .”

A click on the line let me know Fran had disconnected our call.

I tried calling back. I had similar conversations with Talia Montaj in Kentucky, and Frank Smith in Wisconsin. Both conversations ended with the same clicking noise.

I  gave up on getting a new car. My ATM card still worked, and I still had my drivers license. It seemed like I didn’t really need anything else.

About a week later, I was pulled over by a motorcycle cop. After running my plates, he walked back up to my car window.

“Son, did you know that the registration for your motor-vehicle is no longer valid? Neither is your drivers license. I’m gonna have to ask you to step out of the car.”

I got out, and sat on the curb while the police officer had my car towed. He gave me a ticket, and told me how someone could pick my car up from the impound lot.

When I got to the impound lot, the clerk refused to return my license.

“This is the license of a dead man. You can’t use this to steal a dead man’s car! Shame on you! I ought to call the police.”

“But I’m not dead!” I shouted at her.

A burly tow truck driver grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and tossed me out of the shop like a rag-doll.

I went to the DMV to correct the error with my license, and they said I had to obtain a copy of my birth certificate.

I went to the country recorders office to obtain a copy of my birth certificate, and they said they needed valid ID.

I rode the bus home, frustrated and angry about the whole situation.

I decided not to show up for work the next day. Dead people don’t have jobs, right?

My boss called me and yelled at my answering machine. I took the bus to work the day after that.

While stepping down off the bottom stair of the bus, my shoelace caught on a loose screw, and I fell face first into the concrete curb.

I was unconscious for several moments.

The bus driver’s face was close to mine when I opened my eyes.

“You alive, son?”

I blinked several times.

Then I started to laugh uncontrollably.

Finally I answered,  “It depends on who you ask.”