Friday, January 29, 2010

Horse News

Reposting an article from The Horse. This is good info. Even for those of us who have had too many experiences with colic, it's a good "reminder read," especially with it being the time of year when colics become increasingly more common.

Colic in Horses: General Review
by: University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
January 29 2010, Article # 15724

Fur, feet and frozen fun!

I am a big cheater. A big, ole, lazy cheater.

After spending nearly four hours to de-mud Gabe and Chief (my husband de-mudded his own mare and it took him well over an hour!), I threw in the towel. Those beasts got blankets. Not because they are cold. Not because I feel sorry for them out there in the frigid breeze but because that was a LOT of work and I don't want to do it again any time soon! I'd much rather haul a load of muddified blankets down to the laundromat than ever have to chisel my horses free from their mud cocoons again. Miserable. Absolutely miserable.

Some places have sandy mud that dries loose and you can just knock it off fairly easily with some good old elbow grease. Our mud is mostly clay and when it dries, it dries HARD. Calypso still has some huge chunks in her mane that look like gigantic pony beads and rattle when she shakes her head. I can't get them out without shredding her mane. If I can't get them out when it warms up and I can effectively use water, she may end up getting roached. Poor Gabe's flanks look like he has a bad case of mange. The mud was so firmly adhered to those long hairs on his extra sensitive flanks that the only way I could get them off was by cutting them off. I even tried softening them up with a damp, hot towel and was not successful. It was so cold the damp towel was soon a crunchy ice cube. *sigh* Winter horse keeping SUCKS.

The farrier came out today. I should have canceled the appointment and rescheduled. It's about 10 degrees out, before the wind chill and it's WINDY, so standing out there with the farrier was a miserable experience.

The horses probably could have gone a couple more weeks because he didn't take off much hoof. Just evened them out and re-set Calypso's shoes. Their hooves just haven't been growing much in the cold. I am happy to announce, however, that although we have had absolutely HORRENDOUS mud, none of the beasts have thrush or white line or anything else funky going on. Their hooves are hard and healthy. Gabe, however, did manage to slice open a bit of his heel bulb this morning, most likely on one of the hard, frozen "mud mountains" out in their paddocks. It's not bad, but it is the first time he's done that. I prefer the ground to be frozen over sticky and muddy, but dang, I wish I could convince the horses to just stand still while it's muddy instead of making huge hoof pits all over the paddock just before it freezes.

Hurry up spring! I'm freaking COLD!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Horse world news

Very sad news. What an amazing horse. If you haven't seen her 2006 WEG Freestyle video, watch it. I understand she was in foal at the time she was euthanized.

Dressage Star Blue Hors Matine Euthanized
by: Erin Ryder, News Editor
January 25 2010, Article # 15696

Dressage mare Blue Hors Matine, whose dressage freestyle at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen became an Internet video sensation, was euthanized today after breaking a leg in a paddock accident, Horse and Hound reported.

The 13-year-old Dutch mare was ridden by Andreas Helgstrand. She was retired from competition following a tendon injury at the Las Vegas World Cup in 2007.

Blue Hors Stud Director Esben Moller told Horse and Hound Matine broke her right forelimb at the knee while out in her pasture.

The YouTube video of her 2006 WEG freestyle has received nearly 10 million views.

Who's on Ark duty?

Gabe is back to his old tricks so I'm assuming he's feeling 100 percent once again, thank goodness! I've decided to make all of the horse's morning and evening meals much soupier than I have been and I'm adding about a tablespoon of salt to each feeding to encourage the drinking. They are all gobbling it up and the level of the water tanks seem to be continuously falling, so that's a good thing.

I knew Gabe was definitely feeling better when he kept tipping over the wheel barrow, trying to steal the pitchfork out of my hands and hanging his head over my shoulder while I was cleaning his run-in Sunday. That horse knows exactly where to put his body so he's right where I want to clean! Then, he has to be right at my back, resting his chin on my shoulder, sighing into my ear and nuzzling at my hair. A year ago, he would have been biting chunks out of me, now, he just makes a pest of himself and begs for face and ear scratching.

It rained yet again and the weather forecasters are calling for MORE rain. The mud that was drying out a tad bit (still sticky and nasty, but a little firmer and some of the puddles had diminished in size a tad) is again thick, sticky and disgusting.

My husband and I spent part of the day Saturday removing a cross fence. We had the fence up back when Chief and Calypso couldn't play nice with Gabe so they were kept separated when turned out in the pastures. They all get along very well now so we decided to go ahead and take down the cross fence. The pasture is a bog. Both of us kept punching through the grassy sod into goopy, nasty mud below and making rather obscene squishing noises wherever we walked. I could pull the T-posts out of the soupy ground with ONE HAND, and those suckers were set deep. Our fences are capped T-posts with three strands of ElectroBraid. The corner posts are round 6-inch diameter wood posts set at least three feet into concrete. The freaking corner posts are LOOSE due to the bog-like conditions, the T-posts are loose and because we keep having freezing, thawing, freezing, thawing conditions, the ground has heaved some of them up and others out of the nice, neat, straight line they were set in. GAH! We have our work cut out for us when it finally does dry out enough to re-set and straighten some of those posts.

So, I've tried to think of a few positive things about all this rain and wet. I couldn't come up with many, not this time of year.

1. Our well is most certainly full!
2. Spring flowers and grass are getting a nice, long pre-season drink.
3. The water table is sufficiently high to deal with the summer dry season.
4. The waterfowl are happy.
5. The pond and creek are full, full, full!
6. We drained our 12-foot deep swimming pool this fall and it's almost FULL again! Guess we won't have to order a water truck in to refill it this spring.

I don't think I have enough blog space to list all the negative things about the rain and wet this time of year!

I'm a whole lot worried about what spring will bring as that is typically our "wet season." The road we live off has been flooded more often than not this year and the road itself is starting to crumble and sink. It's next to a deep, deep creek with very, very high banks. The creek has been creeping closer and closer and closer to the road and I have a feeling we may lose sections of the road entirely this spring if it's as wet and rainy as I expect it will be.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ugh, not again!

So, it was Jan. 17 last year when I went out to feed at 6 a.m. and found Gabe colicking. Panic central. I've lost two horses to the dreaded "C" word and was terrified to lose my big baby.

Guess what I found when I went out to feed this morning? Yup. Gabe was colicking again, almost exactly one year later. Makes you really wonder how many colics are caused by weather/barometer changes. It was just about the same weather change last year when he colicked, but last year, the colic was MUCH worse, vet came out, muscle relaxers administered, the whole shebang.

This morning his discomfort was evident, but didn't seem nearly as painful as last time but he was definitely not interested in breakfast at all. This is a horse who lives to eat and eats with gusto. He didn't even flick an ear in my direction or greet me with a nicker, as he usually does.

Crap. Crap. Crap. Listened for gut sounds, yes, there were gut sounds. Checked temp and respiration...all normal. Capillary refill was a little bit slow and his gums a tad bit on the pale side. The newest poo pile I found in his run in was hard and dry and his hooves and legs were dry. Obviously the beast had decided not to venture out of his run-in to drink all night. It rained most of the night, so I don't blame him.

A quick call to the vet and a trip to the clinic for a couple of tubes of Bananime. I try to keep it on hand, but that stuff expires so fast (6 month shelf life) that I didn't have any good Banamine on hand. Thank goodness the vet is a quick 15 minute drive away! Dosed him up with the stuff and about an hour later, he was apparently feeling much better and started nibbling on his hay and eating his breakfast. Lots of farting, but no poo as of 10:30 a.m. I'm still keeping an eye on him. I still haven't seen him drink but I filled a bucket with warm water and left it in his run-in for him, so he doesn't have to venture out into the chilly rain if he doesn't want to. I'm getting ready to head up to the grocery store for a bag of apples so I can chop one up and float it in the water to try to encourage the drinking.

After I dosed him I spent a hour out there with him, not only to keep a close eye on him, but also to try to get some of that mud off. In an hour I managed to get him about half clean before he started getting extremely irritated with me. Those long hairs on his flanks and around his sheath apparently hurt A LOT when pulled! Poor guy. He rattles when he walks, the mud clods hanging off his hairs banging to together.

So, I'm staying home from work today to keep an eye on him. He's probably fine at this point, but you just never know. I wouldn't get a dang thing done today any way because I'd just be worried about him all day and unable to concentrate! At least I'll be able to get some things done around the place that I haven't been able to because I don't get home until dark. Those ponies need BRUSHING and run-ins need stripped. Of course, it's raining, such is my luck. Thank goodness for muck boots!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mud baths

Yesterday all three horses decided it would be a fantastic time to roll around in the mud. More than once. The thick, sticky, nasty mud that stuck to them like a second skin. I looked out and I no longer have a gray, a bay and an appaloosa...I have three mud-colored horses. You can't even see Chief's spots any more! The only part of Gabe that is still gray is the front of his face and I'm sure it's only gray because he couldn't figure out how to cover that part of him in muck. Even his forelock is matted in a muddy sheath!

Gabe now has dreadlocks and his tail resembles a baseball bat, it's so coated in mud. I tried grooming him, but it was an effort of futility. The more I groomed, the angrier he got because each stroke of the curry pulled his long, winter hair and I'm sure it HURT! There is no way I can get that caked-on mud off without a bath, and, unfortunately, I don't have a heated wash stall to do that job.

I don't know what the heck I'm going to do to get that mud off. I can't just leave it there, that would make me a horrible horse mommy! And I can't wash it off, it's too cold. Why, oh why, can't I have fastidious horses who refuse to slog around in the mire like pigs? Instead, I have a herd of horses who all believe they are kin to hogs.

And we have more rain on the way. Joy.

There are some days when I would give my right arm for a barn with roomy stalls and a heated wash is one of those days!

Oh, the warm days of spring, how I long for you.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Winter blahs

Has it really been a month since I last posted? Oh, the doldrums of winter keep me away from the blog and outta the saddle. Sadness.

We just got through a cold spell that broke decades old records. And I'm pleased to report all three horses actually look like they gained weight rather than lost it! It helps when you toss as much hay at them as they can possibly eat and pair it with warm morning meals of beet pulp, oats and pellets.

None of them are blanketed, either. That was a hard decision for me to make this season. Last year, they all wore blankets during the coldest bit of winter. This year, I just bedded their run-ins with straw about two feet deep and they were just fine. I did have a weak moment when I thought about going out and tossing blankets on all of them during the negative degrees, days and evenings, but reconsidered. They all have such thick, long coats and I think I would have done them no favors by putting heavy blankets on them that would just smash down that fluffy hair and probably make them colder. Every day I checked on them...buried my fingers deep in their hair to discover toasty warm ponies under all that fluff. I believe I made the right decision not to blanket. Chief may need it in the future as he gets older, but as long as he's keeping weight on and growing a thick fluffy coat, the blankets will stay packed away.

Do these fuzzy ponies look at all chilled to you? Gabe grew an especially thick, fuzzy coat this year!

So, needless to say, I haven't ridden in well over a month. I don't really mind riding in the cold, but when that cold weather means the "arena" is frozen solid with huge divots in it (from the last time I longed Gabe and he was as high as a kite and tearing up the already muddy ground), riding just isn't the best idea. Sure, I could have tacked up and ridden up and down the driveway, but again, Gabe hasn't been ridden in a month and I'm pretty sure he would have left my hiney on the ground in his exuberance! Am I a little cautious about riding him without a good longe session first? You betcha! I might be a little crazy, but I'm not dumb. I don't bounce as well as I used to. But, I have ramped up the fitness regime since I haven't been in the saddle...I'm up to 3.5 miles a day on the elliptical with three days of weight training a week and yoga/pilates/aerobics in the morning before work. By the time riding time rolls around again, I'm gonna be good and fit and bounce a bit better!

And to add injury to insult, all of the snow and ice melted over the weekend and now we have MUD. Lots of mud. So much mud it's unbelievable. Before everything turned to ice we got five inches of rain in less than a week. A lot of it had nowhere to go because they ground was already saturated and the creeks already overflowing. So it sat and froze and got topped with an additional four inches of snow. Ick.

There is one thing about horse keeping that just drives me nuts and it's the mud. I can't turn them out into the big pastures or they'll tear them to shreds and I won't have any grass this summer. So, they live in the dry lots, which are now more aptly described as sucking mud lots. They spend a lot of time just hanging out in the run-in sheds just chilling out out of the mud. My long term plan is to have those dry lots scraped down to the clay and topped with geotextile fabric under a foot or two of stone dust. I'd have to make the dry lots smaller though. They are currently about an acre each...that's a lot of geotextile and stone dust!

Horses = they aren't just a hobby, they are a complete way of life and bank account drainers.