Emily VanAusdle

Emily VanAusdle

KAREN GRIFFITHS’ PENINSULA HORSEPLAY: Age, health affect horses’ appearances

IT’S A SCARY thing to approach the home of someone you don’t know to inquire why their once-plump horses are now skin and bones.

Driving south on U.S. Highway 101 just prior to the state Highway 104 junction, one would have to be blind not to notice the two horses out in the pasture so thin their ribs are poking out.

Like many, I’ve passed by them for years and the horses looked fine. This time was different.

In good conscience, I felt I couldn’t just drive by without asking the owner, “Why the change?”

I wondered if the owner had fallen on hard times and couldn’t afford to feed them or what.

Since one never knows the type of person they’ll find when knocking on the door of a stranger’s home — will they be friendly, aloof or angry? — it was with great trepidation that I parked my truck and walked up to the front door.

As soon as I knocked, I heard the dogs barking and thought, “Uh, oh. Will I get bit for not minding my own business?”

When the owner opened the door, I stammered a bit as I politely inquired about her horses. I explained I’d driven by for years, and her horses looked fine, so why the change?

When she realized I wasn’t there to yell at her for starving her horses (and yes, she’s gotten some who the minute she opened the door started berating her), she stepped outside and shut the door (and dogs) behind her to explain.

Here’s the skinny on those two skinny horses: The owner rescued both years ago. They are both older.

One has teeth worn to nubs and thus can’t chew the grass down enough to swallow it; she leaves quibs, or globs of unchewed grass, all around the pasture. The other has health issues, too. Both get pelleted feed and are under a veterinarian’s care.

I’ve been in her situation of having horses needing to be fed concentrated feed pellets, and it’s expensive. So are vet bills. So I feel for her.

That was over a month ago. When I drove by last week, it seemed to me both horses had put on a little bit of weight, so I wondered if she started feeding them more pellets or if the time before she had run out and just hadn’t gotten to the feed store yet — and horses can lose weight quickly.

I’m not going to stop by to ask, though because I know the owner is aware, the horses are under a veterinarian’s care and she is trying her best to do right by her older horses.

Not an easy task at all.


Washington State High School Equestrian Teams had their final competition this month in Moses Lake. Both teams did wonderful.

Port Angeles’ team coach Tina VanAusdle reports her daughter Emily Van­Ausdle won the barrel racing championship for her third straight year. Way to go, Emily!

It’s also Emily’s last state meet since she is graduating high school. It’s also Tina’s last year coaching. Tina says she’s “bummed and going to miss it.”

Hey, Tina, you can still be the team coach, ya know.

I hope she decides to continue, but it’s a huge undertaking.

Port Angeles

■ Emily and Micayla Weider, fourth in Birangle.

■ Emily, Micayla, Ciara Gentry and Cassidy Hodgin, eighth in drill team.


■   Kaytee Gibeau, seventh in saddleseat.

■ Kaytee and Sydney Balkan, fifth in team cow sorting.

Haylie Newton got one fast go in steer daubing on her 29-year-old horse, Sidney. That’s amazingly fast for an older horse.

“Amanda Murphy and Haylie gave a great effort in sorting, as did our working-four drill team of Kaytee, Sydney, Haylie and Heidi Schleiger,” Sequim coach Katie Salmon-Newton says. “Abi Payseno had a fast go in pole bending and is looking forward to more runs next year.

“We had a great time, and I am proud of all their good effort.”


■   Sunday, May 31, 10 a.m. — Silver Spurs 4-H Club Show and Play Day, Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 4907 Landes St. Port Townsend.

Performance and gaming classes are $30 a day. For more information, call Glenda Meek at 360-385-0195.

■   Saturday, June 6, 10 a.m. — OPEN, 554 Roupe Road in Sequim, is hosting another vet clinic with Dr. Sean Tuley.

Float teeth is $100, and with hooks, it’s $150 plus farm call. Other vet procedures are available.

For more information, call 360-207-1688.

■   Sunday, June 14 — Jefferson County 4-H Horse Committee Horse Show, Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Phone Meek at 360-385-0195.

■   Friday to Sunday, June 19-21 — Trevor Carter: Snaffle to Hackmore and Cow Work Clinic, Freedom Farm, 493 Spring Road, Agnew.

Register with Bill Avery at Will7104@tds.net or 360-601-5040.

■   Saturday, June 20, 10 a.m. — Back Country Horsemen rideout. Meet at Dan Kelly Road Trailhead.

Contact Kris Phillips at 360-683-7629.

■   Saturday and Sunday, June 27-28 — Patterned Speed Horse Game Show, Crosby arena, 122 Franson Road, Agnew.

Contact Pam at 360-670-3906.

■   Sunday, June 28 — County Mounties 4-H Club Fun Day Show, Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Call Meek at 360-385-0195.


Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears every other Sunday.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at kbg@olympus.net at least two weeks in advance. You can also write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

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