A Journey in living simply, in living off the land and in giving back.

Category: Horses

A Weekend in Volcan and the Cablagata

Last weekend Steve and I finally escaped the farm and stayed in the nearby town of Volcan.  It was exciting for us to think after two years of being in Panama, we were finally having our first mini-break! We made reservations at one of the local bed and breakfasts– the Volcan Lodge– which also has a small restaurant downstairs with excellent food. We were shown generous hospitality by the owner–Jorge and his lovely wife Vicky.

On Saturday afternoon we explored some of the roads in the area and visited Janson Coffee Farm with several members of the local Saddle Club.

Volcan CountrysideThe beautiful countryside of Volcan

Steve n ChispitaSteve and his horse Chispita

ExlporingExploring a road near the stable where we boarded our horses for the weekend

Some of the Saddle ClubHeading to Janson Coffee Farm with four other members of the Saddle Club


Near Janson Coffee FarmThe hills surrounding Janson Coffee Farm

GeneGene and his handsome steed

Janson Coffee FarmA building at the farm

A View From the Coffee ShopA view from the coffee shop

PentecostsEnjoying a cup of hot coffee and intriguing conversation with the Pentecosts

The next morning, we went over to the stables to get our horses ready for the cablagata. A cablagata is a procession of riders on horseback. They are popular in Panama and other Latin American countries to celebrate holidays, birthdays or other important occasions. This cablagata celebrated Volcan and some surrounding communities, becoming their very own district– Tierras Atlas, instead of the district of Bugaba. Very exciting news for Volcan!!! We are happy for all of you!

PrisionEmma getting sprung from jail…. Now Emma –what did you do that they put you in here and out of the pasture…?

Bath timeThe stable hand washing Emma

ListaThe Queen of the Parade is dressed and ready

Mr Shipley

Mr Shipley on his gorgeous paint

A few horses waitingSome of the horse waiting for the festivities to begin

AndalusiansSome beautiful Andalusian horses that pulled up near us

The parade line upThe parade line up begins

MoreMore horses in position and ready to go

CablagataThe Cablagata begins! People line the streets to watch the procession

The CowboysThe proud cowboys and cowgirls

Some of our friendsSome of our friends from the Saddle Club ride with us

More CowboysThe streets are filled with over a thousand riders

The saddle clubSome of the Saddle Club who did not ride or who ended their ride early

BandaraI asked if I could hold the flag — Districto de Volcan— Yiiiiiii- Yaaaaa!

I hope everyone had a great week. We did! Very busy on the farm working on our new project. Did not get as far ahead as we wanted, but should have it done by next month. Poco a poco. (Little by little)

And the good news is there were no current snake sightings!

Much love to you all, dear family and friends–

Rose & Steve

P.S. There is suspicions that Emma could be pregnant… and by her son. (Big sad sigh) We have calls out to the vet, but maybe he was out of town this week… Will keep you all posted.

For more information about the Volcan Lodge:

To learn more about Janson Coffee Farm:

My First Group Trail Ride in Volcan

A Journey about a Girl and Her Horse

Emma and I went on our first group trail ride in Volcan on Sunday.  It was put together by some local Panamanians. Our new friend, Susan was the one to get all the other “gringos” in the loop. Thanks Miss Susan!

I was a little apprehensive about going because the ride was 9 km on a paved road and then on dirt roads and trails for a distance no one could tell me how long. Emma has just regularly been taken out three times a week for the last several weeks for up to 6 km at a time. She is a big girl and her favorite gear is slooooooooooooooow. And I had noticed the last week, she had wanted to go progressively slower each ride!

It was also the first time I had trailered a horse… Well lets back that up. Most Panamanians “trailer” their horses in the back…

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Digging in Our Heels

As some of as you may know we have been trying to sell our farm here in Panama since August 2012. We have had a lot of interest and one very serious buyer, who needed some time to sell some of his assets. He just emailed and told us he and his wife would be ready to buy this winter.

However, we made the decision two months ago to dig in our heels here and stay in Panama.

Smith and I never really wanted to leave Panama. We knew the advantages of living in the states, being close to family the best reason, but we felt there was so much we had not done here to leave so soon. For Moms sake, we were willing to move, if we could find a nice farm in the states and do what we were doing here, there.

When the decision was made to stay, we all three felt very peaceful and happy about continuing our lives here. It was good just to have a definite plan and begin work here, which had not been done or had been left uncompleted.

Things have really started coming together.

I was blessed with one milking Saanen and one Mama goat with three triplet half Saanen girls. The same day we picked up those five  girls, we saw some goats in a field and stopped by to see if any were for sale.

Those goats in the field were not for sale, but a lovely Panamanian woman next door, had Toggenburgs and Toggenburg cross for sale for a decent price. I bought two pure Toggenburgs and one Toggenburg/Alpine cross.  These girls were around three months old. I have invested an hour every day and to date, all of the young girls are very friendly and come up to me for scratching and rubbing. I am so happy, as this is so much better than our first herd, which most were a bit cautious to downright loco with only a few tame girls.

So the goats we raise up now, will all be friendly. I love that. (Special thanks to Mike, the goat man in Boquete, for loaning his Big Mama to our farm and letting us buy her babies and in the future we also plan on letting his Saanen doe go back as well to him, but right now she is our only milk goat. And also to Idania for parting with some of her Toggenburgs. I am in love with these sweet spirited gentle little goats.)


Big Mama and her triplet girls– Ruby, Nellie and Madeline


Anne, Bebe, Julia and Pearl

If any of you remember all the time and trouble we had finding goats in Panama before, will know how blessed we feel to be the proud owners of this little herd, which came about so very quickly.

Mom also went to the auction and bought two cows… A bit of a fiasco. I will not go into details, but it was a discouraging moment. But as angry to discouraged to frustrated as I was– all in the matter of 15 minutes, all I could help but see was the clear hand of the multitude of good things which were happening in our lives and paving the way for us to make a life here once again. Quickly, all of the negative feelings disappeared and all there was left was a peaceful feeling.  So on the way home that evening, our worker told us he had met one of our neighbors at the auction, who would sell us ten of his young cows for a very fair price. This was the confirmation of the feeling I had earlier, that indeed we were being watched over and good things were being given. Not to lose faith.


Danilo and Ebenor working with the cows

Ebenor moving our calves into another pasture

I have cleared (with the help of one of our workers) a 4,000 sq ft area for our future greenhouse. Now we just need to design a plan and get that built.  We also are working on cleaning the pastures, adding pastures, moving fences, and improving some of our pastures. I have plans for a moveable chicken pen, worm bin, Boshaki compost bin and a rabbit hutch. A lot of work here. But that is nothing new! Welcome to life on a farm.


One day this area will house a very large bamboo greenhouse supplying our family and animals with fresh vegetables


Our new horses– Emma and Chespita (Just waiting for our saddles to get here  from the states) –I love my Emma!

So life is very good here. For the first time in many months, I feel  hopeful and happy. So joyous in fact, my little seed of faith which was buried so deep inside of me, seems to have been revived and renewed. The Most High still has his eye and this girl and those she loves. Thank you, Great Mysterious One.

I have not forgotten any of you at all. You are in my thoughts and in my prayers, my family and my friends… I have much time to think and reflect about all those whom I know, while being kissed by the sun and working in the quiet of the outdoors.

Love, Rose

Horsing Around~Meridian and Samson

I thought I would share a couple videos of our horse and goat.
They are up to some new antics these days!

Makes me laugh a little each time I watch it. Sam the goat loooooves Meridian.

And Meridian is sure wishing Sam were another horse… They learning to make the best of the situation.

Love you all and be blessed~ Rose

Annies Accident and The Attack of the Parrots

Annies Accident

Annie was helping my Moms horse Meridian, “trim” the grass in the front yard this week.

I had brushed and feed Annie some grain a couple of hours earlier and then when I went out again to do chores, I saw Annie with a long gash to her front chest and a piece of her skin hanging from her body.

Annies chest after the “accident” (No one knows or saw what she cut herself on)

The veterinary came as soon as he could, which was unfortunately, the next morning. Dr Samuel gave Annie an intramuscular tranquilizer first to help calm her before he gave her the sedation medication in her vein.

Dr Samuel trying to give Annie the sedative

The tranquilizer did not seem to faze Annie too much and she was not about to let the doctor get too close to her neck with that syringe full of  sedation medication! She kept sidestepping away from Dr Samuel. (Hindsight says perhaps we should have tied her on a very short lead on the fence so she would not have moved away so much from him, but the doctor wanted her to “fall” in this shady corner after she had received her medication…)

Finally the veterinary, tired of “dancing” and “sidestepping” with Annie,  had Smith “twitch” Annie, by grabbing her upper lip with his hand and twisting it hard. (Ouch!)

I had never seen or heard of that before, but from what I understand a “twitch” is generally a device that is secured to the horses upper lip and tightened. It is supposed to help distract the horse during stressful situations, but it is also believed to act instead by triggering the release of endorphins from the horse’s brain, producing a calming effect.

However it worked, it worked and Annie was able to get sedative in a matter of seconds and then Smith released her from the “twitch”. Within a few minutes, we helped Annie to the ground, as she “passed out” so to speak, from the sedative. Smith tied her legs to together in case she woke, before Dr Samuel was done with the procedure and I held her head down.

Annie fast asleep and Dr Samuel is quickly trimming the edges of her wound

Annie with newly trimmed wound edges

Annie in peaceful dreamland, as Dr Patti and Dr Samuel stitch Annies wound

Annie waking up from her sedative (She looked a little green around the gills!)

 After Annie was done with her procedure Dr Samuel, poured cold water on her head and on her back to help wake her up. He told us we had to get her up. This took about 30 minutes before she was strong enough to stand on her own. (I hated seeing her so wobbly and near falling, as the three of us supported most of her weight, trying to get her to stand on her own during that long half hour. All I could imgaine was Annie falling down and breaking a leg! Which thankfully did not happen.)

I would like to give a good report and tell you, she is all healed up and doing fine, but that is not the case.

A day after she was stitched up, she had copious amounts of pus draining from her wound. I gently squeezed the wound and drained it the best I could. I then cleaned it up well with iodine and applied the antibiotic cream the veterinary had prescribed. I am proud to report Annie was a champion during this procedure and tolerated it very well, as my Father and Smith helped to hold her and keep her still.

The wound had minimal drainage after that, but five days later, she had ripped open her stitches. The wound looks like it has started to heal, as there is not a lot of skin flapping open, but we have called Dr Samuel back out and he is coming to the farm tomorrow to assess the wound and  stitch her back up. Will keep you all posted on Annies progress.

The Attack of the Parrots

 This pretty parrot couple are not as innocent and sweet as they look! 

The parrots have attacked and eaten many of our plantains from the plantain grove this week!

I hope everyone has had a good week this week. I am sure ready for the weekend.

Tonight my Father is back in the hospital for surgery again.

Last week he had the bad news that the tumor which was removed in October, had probably grown back to the same size it was, before it was removed. The doctor is also fearful the tumor has grown around his jugular vein and it may also need might need to be cut into, as well as some of the nerves that may effect my Fathers speech, diaphragm, blood pressure, etc…  However the other case scenario from the doctor is that perhaps there is a hematoma-blood clot- in the space from where the tumor was removed and was possibly caused from a leak of his vein.

I ask you all to once again, keep him in your thoughts and prayers tomorrow morning, as the doctor operates at 10:00 am.. We do not know why my Father continues to have challenges with his health, but we trust trust in Yahweh our Lord, to carry him through these difficult times.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:18-31

Much love to you all, my family and friends (some of whom I know and some of whom I do not), Rose


They Take Better Care of Their Cars than They do Their Horses

My Mother says “Panamanian people treat their horses like cars.” I am not quite sure if this is true because from what I can observe, most Panamanian people take better care of their cars, than their horses.

I am not sure how many of you are familiar with this, but there is an acronym TOWBIF which stands for Tires, Oil, Windows, Brakes, Interiors and Fluids to help you remember the maintenance requirements needed for your vehicle. I don’t think the people who own horses in Panama have any such acronym to help them remember the requirements needed to care for their horses, but I think it is sorely overdue. So on that note, I have decided to make one for them, but instead of TOWBIF, I will call it HGGBWW.

  • (Tires)-Hooves: A horse needs its hooves trimmed every 4-8 weeks depending on the terrain, time of year, weather, diet and health of the horse. (Many horses here do not have proper hoof trimming and care. I will say it is hard to find a good farrier in Panama, as I said in a prior post, you have to choose the lesser of the evils among them. One of the local farriers in our community was laming horses.)
  • (Oil)-Grass/Grain: The most natural food for horses is good quality pasture. Secondly, hay is the basic food of domestic horses, supplemented with a small amount of grain along with minerals and salt. (You would think in this land of abundant grass and jungle, a horse would never be hungry, but alas there are many starving horses, at least in the community where we live. It may be partly that people, do not have enough property and the horses eat it all up or there is poor quality grass growing… There are several horses, whom I call the Red Road Horses. Their owners let them roam the lane to search for food, eating the grasses along the side of the road.)
  • (Windows)-Gear- A horse needs a well-fitting saddle to be able to move freely and, by using his back muscles correctly, he’ll develop a rounded, properly-balanced outline. A badly fitting saddle can do a lot of damage, leading to behavioral problems or lameness. (Few horses in our community have properly fitting saddles, probably do to lack of education and finances. Thus we have many horses here, plagued with open pressure sores and behavioral problems from ill-fitting saddles.)
  • (Brakes)-Bits- Proper bit fit is necessary in every riding discipline. When a bit does not fit a horse’s mouth properly, bad habits or injuries may result. If the horse has any scars or open cuts or rubs on his lips or tongue, this means he has had bit abuse. Many times this happens when a unknowledgeable rider has used a bit that does not fit properly or comfortably in the horse’s mouth. (We have seen horses here with ill-fitting bits. One horse at the end of a road has a spade bit. The spade bit has a bar, and behind it is a mouthpiece that rests on the tongue. When used on a horse by an undisciplined rider, this can cause great pain to the horse–to his tongue, the bars, and the roof of his mouth.)
  • (Interiors)-Wormer- You should “de-worm” your horse 4-5 times per year, but the frequency depends on many factors such as age of the horse, type of pasture, how many other horses are on the same pasture, whether droppings are collected from the pasture, any history of wormer resistance and results of any worm egg counts. (Many horses are not properly wormed due to lack of finances here.)
  • (Fluids)-Water- Fresh water is a vital part of a horse’s diet. Horses drink from 5-10 gallons a day. Clean water should be available at all times. (Many horses do have fresh water provided to them, as there are many fresh creeks and springs throughout this land, but the horses described below do not have water for hours to days at a time.)

Many horses in Panama have a very tough life, I speak specifically in regards to the horses in our community. These horses are ridden for miles over rough terrain, sometimes with up to four people on them, often being constantly hit with a little whip or stick. The horses are then deposited at the end of a dirt road and tied for hours, to all day (and I hate to report-sometimes for days-The horse in the first picture below was tied up for three days recently), as their owners hop a bus to a job, to school, etc… These horses are exposed to sizzling summer temperatures to pouring down torrential rains without benefit of shelter, on a short lead without food and water, as they wait patiently for their owners to return. It is enough to break your heart.

My parents offered to pay for and build a shelter at the end of the road where are all the horses are tethered, but the their workers told them, the community would not use it and if they did, they would not keep it cleaned out.

Here is one of the local horses tied to the fence at the end of our road

Look at her ribs; She is very underweight-Not uncommon in this poor community


This horse has to stand in the mud all day

 Here is another horse patiently waiting

Tarps cover their saddles to keep their gear dry during the heavy rains

This horse waits for its riders-two young schoolboys to finish school for the day

This past week however, we were in David and to the side of the busy Pan-Am Highway a man was working his horse in dressage, just like the world-famous Lipizzaner stallions (All I could think was, only in Panama!). The time and dedication it takes of both trainer and horse is incredible to perform these skills and such horses have been likened to a highly tuned gymnast or ballerina. Though I believe there is a large percentage of native Panamanians who do not genuinely care for their horses well, there are a handful who do.

Here is a YouTube video, if you have never seen the Lipizzaner stallions before!

I want to thank all the dedicated horse lovers in Panama, who are taking time and money, educating people on how to properly care for and treat a horse.

I also hope everyone had a great weekend and a Happy Thanksgiving Day, surrounded by family and friends. We all have so much to be thankful for. May we not forget to give thanks to the One from whom all blessing flow!

 “Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

Psalm 106:1

Love you all my dear family,  friends and readers, Rose

This post is dedicated to all the long-suffering horses of Panama.

Horsing Around and Annie’s First Bath!

This afternoon we bathed two of our horses, Annie and Yola, then applied a mixture of Butox, Asuntol and Enicima and mineral oil to their coats. This is a mixture that is supposed to help the horses’ fungal infection which is caused by the rain. It was recommended by our veterniary. My Mother has tried other various recommendations by the locals, but to no avail.

My Mother who spent much of her youth with horses says she has never seen a skin condition like this. Of course, we are in Panama now and have a variety of diseases, which are different from the ones in the states.

Here is my Mother’s horse, Meridian, her face is badly affected by this infection

Annie is my filly. She is not as affected by the fungal infection, as Meridan and our other horse. The veterniary said some horses are more resistant to it than others, however it is a good idea to put it on all horses during the rainy season.

Steve gave Annie to me as a present, to commerate our second anniversary. Annie had never been touched by a human up until the end of August, until I first started working with her. In spite of all the hospitalizations and time constraints in this household, Annie has done remarkably well with her training- either she is a quick study or I am the next horse whisperer (Ha-ha!).

Annie awaiting her very first bath today (“Help! I am being held hostage” she says!)

My parents horse Yola awaiting her bath (She doesn’t mind a bath)

Annie watching Yola getting her bath so she knows how it is done; Danilo bathing Yola

I hope you all have had a great start to your week. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Blessings to you all my dear ones, Rose