Posts Tagged ‘Orange County’

Sherman, the horse on Hwy. 243, is OK

July 17, 2010

Sherman, the horse on Hwy. 243 is just fine, says Joyce, his owner

Like hundreds of others before me, I was worried about the horse standing in the hot sun. Did he have enough water? And there was no shade trees around him, next to Hwy. 243. It must’ve been 90 degrees out there. I must help him!

So I ran home, got a bucket of water, and some carrots from the fridge, and drove back. I shimmied under the barbed wire fence, and gave him the bucket. Next to his massive head, it looked like a little Dixie cup. He immediately picked it up and dumped out the water!

I gave him a few carrots, and was searching for a hose to fill the bucket again, when the owner walked up.

“Can I help you?” she asked. Which is very polite for someone messing with their horse on their property. The barbed wire fence should have been a clue.

“Oh, I was just trying to get some water for your horse,” I stammered.

“Well, the fountain that you’re pushing on is the same one he uses to get water,” Joyce Miller explained. “He just pushes this lever with his nose, and he can get as much water as he wants.”

Sherman's water fountain releases water when he pushes it with his nose

As it turns out, I am not alone in my concern for “Sherman,” the quarter horse. In any given weekend, at least three people will come up and ask about the horse. Their main concerns are: There is no shade and no water for the horse.

“When we lost that oak tree two years ago, then more people began stopping by, concerned,” Joyce said.

At least three of them have reported the Millers to Riverside County Animal Control.

“They have to come all the way from Riverside to see that Sherman is OK,” Joyce said.

She’s gone through two inspections, and one time they left a note of approval. First, they inspect the horse to make sure he’s not dehydrated or malnourished. Then they check to see if the area and stables are clean, and free of sharp objects. Each time, the Millers and Sherman got a clean bill of slate.

"People became concerned about Sherman when the oak tree (at L) died two years ago," Joyce said.

Joyce said that horses like the sunshine because it generates a lot of vitamin D, which is healthy for their bones. Sherman is 12 years old, and they’ve had him for seven years.

“When he’s at home in Orange County, there are trees on either end, and he still prefers standing out in the sunshine,” Bill Miller said.

Another roping horse of Bill’s was 32 years old when they finally had to put him down because of a disease.

“Our horses live a long time because we take care of them,” he said.

Sherman is obviously well taken care of. In fact, he has a little bit of a gut. During our visit, he urinated once (for a long time), which is not an indication of a dehydrated animal. There were no piles of manure anywhere, and the ground was raked clean. Nearby trash cans were rinsed and turned upside down. It was a pristine place. But, most importantly, Sherman’s water fountain was full and he had an unlimited supply of water.

However, if you looked closely, there were a few flies buzzing around his eyes and knees. Yet, whenever Joyce puts a hood on Sherman, she gets criticized for that too.

“Can he see through that hood?” one woman asked Joyce. “He might bump into things and hurt himself.”

Joyce explained that the hood, which keeps the flies away, is like looking through a screen door.

Sherman sticks his head through the fence to get pets from Joyce

Sherman started playing with the bucket that I brought, flipping it around like a toy. When Joyce stood next to him, he’d nuzzle her.

“When it’s cooler and less cars on the road, I ride Sherman to the Visitor’s Center,” Joyce said. “I used to ride him down to the stream, but now they have exercise equipment there.”

Twice a day, Sherman gets fed alfalfa cubes. They’re an easier way to feed horses with less waste, Joyce said.

Visitors and locals like to feed Sherman apples and carrots, which Joyce doesn’t mind. However, Bill would rather no one feed the horse, and stay on the other side of the fence.

“You just never know what people are feeding him,” Bill said. “And when we’re not here, we can’t control it.”

Joyce said that when horses get sick, they roll on the ground, trying to alleviate their discomfort. Sometimes, however, the rolling can disturb their organs, and they could die However, Sherman has never gotten sick from anything people have given him. And he’s eaten some pretty strange stuff.

“One time, a woman made Sherman a tossed salad,” Joyce said. “It had different kinds of lettuce, carrots and other good stuff in it. She grew up in a farm in the Midwest, and used to feed her horse salads too.”

Most people give Sherman apples and carrots. One guy tried to feed him a dusty miller, but he didn’t like it, Joyce said.

“One homeless guy was stripping bark off of a nearby tree and feeding it to him,” Bill said. “He may have eaten it and may have not, but it wasn’t good for the tree.”

“If you want to feed the horse, but didn’t bring anything, give him the weeds, like those over there,” Joyce said, as she pointed to a nearby lot.  “Horses love grass and weeds.”

One horse of Bill’s loved carrots, but hated apples.

“They used to give him medicine disguised in apples, so he grew not to like them,” Bill said.

Bill and Joyce Miller live on the same property (about 20 yards from Sherman) in a quaint cabin with lots of windows. Joyce’s parents built the cabin in 1923, and they’ve been living here during the summers since 1952. They’ll bring Sherman back to OC in September.

“Just tell people that Sherman is doing just fine,” Joyce said.

Custom Search