Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Day at the Farm

You've heard me talk about how big O is.
See for yourself.
I'm about 5'4".

Sugarbush Harleys Classic O

Sugarbush Harley Quinn (1999-2006), O's sire.
Harley was 7/8 Percheron and the primary sire
for the Sugarbush-Stonewall breeding program.
O is the last known standing stallion in the line.

I reported in a previous post that Harley
was struck by lightning and killed.
I must have confused him with
another horse I heard of.
Harley died of an infection
from an injury.

Head and neck remind you of a certain
bay roan gelding we know?

I was standing on the fence rung
that is even with his withers.
Broad as a barge, just like Poco.
Moves just like him, too.

I love the way his spots
stand up, like they're embossed.

I had hoped to be able to use clippers
to finish the hack job Heather and

I did on his mane with scissors.

It might take a few more tries.

His mane is so thick,
the clippers sound like you
ran over a baseball with the lawn mower.

Those 2 light horses on the right playing
the bite-the-face game
are Jaz and Zire (Rorschachs My D Zire).

Although he played for a short while,
Jaz did not have a good day.
He acted like he was trying to colic again.
Dr. E said he might be uncomfortable
as he tries to pass the worms.
We are not out of the woods with him yet.

Spot (Rohrschachs Spots) is Heather's fewspot
Appy stallion
, sire to most of the
colorful youngsters I've shown you.
He reproduced himself in Zire, who will replace him.

He is also Scorch & Rico's (below) sire.

Remember Rico, Scorch's full brother?
See here and here.
This photo was taken from O's pen,
which is 6-8" lower.
He's standing with his front feet
on the downward slope.
He's as tall as 2-year-old Zire.

Heather says he'll be a gelding
Scorch's conformation and movement are better.
Although he didn't get the color himself,
Scorch should throw color.

She wants to wait to geld Rico,
because she's
afraid that if she gelds him now,
he'll end up being over 17hh.
Not too many people want a riding horse that big.
He has Scorch's sweet, affectionate disposition.

Lisa, this one's for you.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Controversy of "What If"

Jaz seems to be recovering well from his bout with strongyles. I am grateful not only that it has been easily treatable, but that I have had the means to pay for his care. This veterinary adventure has cost $1,200 so far, and I anticipate the ultrasound in 2 weeks will be another couple hundred dollars. I'm sure many people can cite instances when they have spent much more than that to treat a horse or other animal. I have done so myself.

Prior to the exam at Performance, my biggest fears were either an impaction or a tumor. Before the first ultrasound, when Dr. E felt what he thought might be a tumor, he was quick to say that if that's what it was, nothing could be done. The only way to determine the nature of the tumor would be a biopsy, but the mass was up almost to his spine. He'd bleed to death before they could get to it. And if they did manage to do it and he lived, then what? Possibly risk opening him up again to remove it? Colic surgery is no walk in the park either. I don't care what species you are, there's no such thing as minor (or inexpensive) gut surgery.

Although I hoped for the best, I could not help but mentally prepare for the worst. So far, I have been able to afford normal equine care and maintenance, and the occasional emergency inherent in horsekeeping. I have shared my whole life with animals. I've had to make the hard choices that come with it, but it's always been about what is best for the animal. Never before has money been a part of the equation. But this economy and Mr. Fry's underemployment for the last year and a half have created tough financial challenges.

The day before the appointment, Heather and I had a conversation about the "what ifs". Keep in mind, Heather and Nita owned Jaz from the time he was 6 months old until I bought him as an 8-year-old. I looked her in the eye and I heard myself say out loud that I could not jeopardize our tenuous financial situation if faced with a multi-thousand dollar surgery. Heather assured me she understood. She had to make that call last year when one of her mares faced emergency surgery with questionable odds. And whether the horse makes it or not, you still have to pay for it. I didn't have to make the call ... this time. But I'm glad I had the time to think about it with a calm, clear mind, rather than in an emergency, when emotions and adrenaline run high.

I got an email recently from a friend who reported going to a horse auction and the top price was $150 for sound, working, papered horses, $15-$25 being the average. If you drive around this area, you can see many formerly prosperous breeding/training/showing facilities for sale. Heather and Nita have acquired quite a few horses at auction, or from owners who basically just handed them over (for whatever reason). Most are perfectly decent horses, but ones that don't necessarily fit into their business plan. If something happened to Jaz or Poco, they would give me another horse ... more than one.

Am I saying Jaz (or any other animal) is disposable? Of course not. Jaz is a great little horse. I owe him a lot for the confidence he's given me. But we're not in the business, nor do we show. Jaz is our pet, and we love him dearly. The question I had to ask myself is this: If it came down to it, do I risk our financial future on this horse, or cut my losses and give another horse the best home I can?

In my situation, the answer is obvious. Heart wrenching, but obvious.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ms. American Pie

Today was the annual holiday
pie marathon at Casa Fry.
I made enough for
Thanksgiving and Christmas,
including some for
my son and niece to take
home after Thanksgiving dinner.

And for Heather, Jason,
Nita, and Jim
for taking such good care of Jaz.

Miss Martha, being a good girl,
watching mama work

8 pumpkin, 4 apple, 1 pecan.

Mr. Fry is chomping at the bit,
but they are better if they set
for at least a day,
especially the pumpkin pies.

They are completely from scratch,
including pumpkin
that I cooked myself.

My grandmother taught me
to bake when I was a kid,
including bread and pie dough.

When my son was little,
he couldn't understand
how you got pumpkin pie
from jack-o-lanterns.

So I found an old cookbook
that told how to process fresh pumpkin,
and had a recipe for pumpkin pie

made from fresh pumpkin.
The consistency is a lot different
from canned pumpkin.

I created a monster.
He loves my pumpkin pie.
So does Mr. Fry.
And they know the difference between
store-bought and homemade crust.

Hence the annual pie marathon.

Peelings from 10# of apples
for Pokey and the Kid.

Scorch, gobbling as fast as he can.

Pokey, making a mess, as usual.

I am whupped from
being on my feet all day.

It's Corona time.

from Ms. American Pie.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Road to Hell

Jaz colicked on Wednesday, October 28. I took him to my regular vet (Dr. G), they tubed him, and I took him to Heather's. He improved, and I brought him home on Saturday, November 7. Sunday, November 8, he did it again. I couldn't get hold of a vet less than 30 miles away. I took him back to Heather's, where they loaded him up with Banamine. As soon as it wore off, he started again, and a local vet was called (Dr. H). He said it was gas colic, gave him meds for it. Heather said he acted off the whole week following. All these times, it never got to the point of wild thrashing, rolling, or kicking his belly. We'd give him Banamine, he'd poop, and in a short while, he was ready to eat again.

foreshadow |fôr'•sh•adō| verb [ trans. ]
be a warning or indication of (a future event) : it foreshadowed my preoccupation with jazz.

I found it funny that the dictionary example mentioned jazz. I didn't make that up.

I visited him at Heather's on Sunday, November 15, and he was down again. It was no different from the other incidents. By this time, we all agreed something else had to be going on. I pointed out a tender spot on his offside flank to Heather. I noticed he'd been goosier than normal the last few times I rode him, but when I mentioned it to the vets, they all said it was probably unrelated.

I made an appointment for Monday, November 16 at a huge clinic called Performance Equine Associates. Of course, Jaz seemed fine. Bloodwork and vitals were normal. We showed Dr. E the goosey spot before they doped him up, but he, too, said it was unrelated. Dr. E found nothing abnormal in the initial stages of the rectal exam. When he was in up to his shoulder — Jaz was so stoned he didn't bat an eye — he thought he felt a tumor. The ultrasound showed something entirely different: a bulging spot in an artery with a honeycomb pattern of damage.

Strongylus vulgaris in the cranial mesenteric artery
— blood worms. The artery is just below that goosey spot on Jaz's back. He doesn't drink enough when it gets cooler, which makes the poo hard, which puts pressure on that area when he tries to pass it. When he's able to poop, relief.

Normal diet. He got tubed with 275 ml of Panacur, and Heather has to take him back the next two days to do it again. 1 gram Bute per day. They will ultrasound again after 30 days of stall/pen rest. Two weeks after the last dose of Panacur, 400 kg dose Quest.

Watch for:
Unusual signs, like numbness or other neurological anomalies, which are indications a clot has dislodged. Dr. E was optimistic, but made it clear we could still lose him.

Where we are now:
Heather says Jaz is already feeling better. This afternoon will be the final mega dose of Panacur at the vet.

My continuing lesson:
All equine professionals have their own idea of how things should be done and what's right/best for horses.
• I followed Dr. G's worming instructions to the letter: daily wormer and Ivermectin in April and October. Dr. E says strongyles are making a comeback because they have become resistant to the limited array of drugs currently available. He gave me an elaborate rotational worming schedule developed for this climate.
• Dr. E asked me when Jaz's teeth were floated last. Not since I've had him. I ask Dr. G every time he sees my horses if they need it. He always checks their teeth. Poco has had his done once since I got him, but Dr. G has said both Boyz are fine. Dr. E says all horses should have their teeth floated once a year, some even twice a year. He did, however, say Jaz's teeth look fine, so go figure.

I started down the primrose path of guilt, but aborted the trip when I remembered: all you can do is the best you can do. This did not happen because of my neglect or irresponsibility. Now I know things I didn't know before. Will I change vets? No. Dr. G is actually a great vet who has more than satisfactorily cared for all our animals for 10 years. I made him a copy of all the paperwork from Dr. E and sent him a letter detailing everything that happened since he last saw Jaz. He'll call me and we'll talk about it. Do I now have a list of 5-6 vets to call if he's not available (instead of just 1)? You betcha.

But why not switch to Dr. E? It's 2 miles from Heather but more than 20 from here.
Performance is a center specializing in reproduction and severe trauma cases. It's extremely expen$ive. Would I use them again if I felt it was warranted? Absolutely.

The adventure was not without it's comic moment. Jaz is famously goosey about his tail, butt, and boy parts. When I try to clean that boy's sheath, he sucks it up so tight you can be in up past your elbow and not reach it. When Dr. E was done and writing up the diagnosis, I grabbed a handful of wet paper towels and cleaned that thing like it's never been cleaned. It's an ill wind indeed that blows no good.

Thank you all for the good wishes for my little man.

Any many, many thanks to Heather, Jason, Nita, and Jim for nursing Jaz. You guys are the BEST. I see homemade pies in your future...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Rub-a-Dub, Bub

Boys will be boys.
Poco has matching wounds on each eye
from playing with the kid.

They play rough.
Usually Jaz gets the worst of it.
That's a good size hunk o' bark!

The only time you'll ever
see that mane laying down —
when it's wet.

You can see below it's
sticking up as usual
after he shook.

The Patience Post

Poco was tied for easily 5 hours,
maybe longer.
I worked on him first
because I knew he'd stand there
while I worked on Scorch.

I didn't tie Scorch until
I was totally done with Poco.
After all, he is only a two-year-old.
He didn't like the patience lessons much,
but I only had to get physical once.

Clean and pretty

Sissy braid

It's one thing to have a
mane and tail like his
when he's stalled or kept in a paddock,
as he is at home.

It's another thing altogether
when there are trees
to rub it on
and get tangled in.
I had to tell Heather I
can't be responsible for
the state of his mane and tail
when I take him back.

Look at that beautiful tail.

Both boys were bathed,
sheaths cleaned,
feet picked,
manes and tails oiled,
faces, ears, & bridle paths clipped.

Going to see Jaz tomorrow.
He's been 'iffy'
off and on all week.
Temp's supposed to dip tonight.
Heather has him in a stall
and is watching him.

I'm whupped & dirty,
waiting for Mr. Fry to wake up
so I can shower.

Think I'll have a beer while I wait.
Cheers, y'all.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Skywatch Friday Season 4 Episode 18

What a beautiful commute this morning!

The other motorists were not amused
that I stopped at random to take photos.

Tiny moon and faint jet trails.

You can barely see the edge of the sun
peeking over the foggy horizon.

See skies around the world

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Groundhog Day

Oh look, it's Poco and Ja... wait a minute!
Unless Jaz has morphed into a
seal bay, grown a hand and a half,
and regrown his manhood,
that is not Jaz.

Who is that
and what's he doing here?

I'm glad you asked.

I just brought the Boyz home
from Heather's yesterday,
where they have been
since Jaz colicked
on October 28th.

I got up this morning,
had a few chores to do
before Mr. Fry got home,
then it was going to be spa day
for the filthy ponies.

I was making waffles
when Mr. Fry arrived.
I asked if he had seen Jaz,
when he drove in,
because I hadn't seen him
since early this morning.

He said Jaz was laying out
by the run-in shed.


I looked out the dining room window
and there he was again, lying
in that position.

I felt like I was in a movie.

I uttered a rhyming vulgar interjection
that has to do with
sex and waterfowl.

I waited until the cooking waffle
could be removed from the iron,
shut it off, left everything,
and ran outside.

Jaz wasn't shivering this time, but he
was obviously in distress.
I got him up,
tried to get him to drink
some warm Gatorade,
to no avail.
Little toot isn't drinking enough again.

Zero gut sounds.

We walked until he was
finally able to squeeze out
a couple hard turds.

Gave him a light dose of Banamine,
then took him out to the round pen
and made him trot to get the drug in
his system faster.
He stopped twice more to push out a
few hard turds.

All this time,
I was on the phone, trying to
get hold of my vet...
then any vet.
The emergency vet on my regular vet's
answering machine is freakin' 30 miles away,
and was already on a call
another 20 miles farther.

I got hold of the other
guy I normally call,
and his brother was in a
horrific car accident, so
he was on his way to Oklahoma.
Poor man apologized
that he wasn't able to help.
I said I'd say a prayer for his brother.

Between all these calls,
I was on the phone with Heather,
who had been directing
me the whole time.

Since he seemed to be able to
stand still without
dropping and rolling,
she said to put him in the
round pen with water and see
how he did.
He was okay for a few minutes,
then he started backing his way around,
seemingly undecided as to
whether he wanted to roll some more.

Faint gut sounds,
but only on one side.

Mike had already hitched up
the trailer for me hours before.

I loaded Jaz up and headed
to Whitesboro.
I decided not to take Poco,
who was, of course, fretting.

Heather listened with a stethescope
and heard nada.
She gave him a stout shot
of Banamine.
I walked him until the
meds kicked in.

Better gut sounds.
He was one stoned pony,
and was quite comfy when I left.
It was a 50/50 chance
that he'd be fine or ...

I couldn't come back
empty-trailered, or
Poco would worry himself to death.

Scorch is a two-year old stallion
I've blogged about here and here.
I was present at his birth.

He and Poco have played
over the fence, so
we decided to give it a shot.

He's already more than 16hh
and just as sweet as they come.

Appy characteristics from his sire.

Soaked with sweat from
playing with the new kid.

Nita called awhile ago
to say that as the
Banamine wore off,
Jaz's condition regressed.
Fortunately, they were
able to get a local vet out.
Thanks be to God, he says
it's just gas colic.
He didn't tube him again.

My vet had recommended adding
bran to Jaz's diet
when he colicked this last time.
I bought it but never even had
a chance to give it to him.

The vet tonight also recommended bran
and a supplement that is like
the grass minerals they already get,
but includes a medicine for horses
that do this regularly.
He says keep him on it from
October thru Spring
and it should prevent it.
I can live with that.

I am so grateful to have
such good friends.
I know they treat my horses
like their own,
which, in fact, Jaz used to be.
There is nothing I could have done
that they would not do.

All is well.
I need to go back to work
just to get some rest.

Oh yeah.
I finished making waffles
at 6:30 pm.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Be It Ever So Humble

After living in stalls for a week and a half,
the Boyz were getting pretty cranky.
They were jubilant to be home.

This was taken moments after
they stepped out of the trailer.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

O What a Day

I spent both days last weekend at Heather & Nita's. Saturday I groomed and hand grazed the Boyz, both of whom were pissy about being stalled on such a gorgeous day. The pens that were dry enough held stallions, who needed the outdoor time more than my guys.

In addition to her own 2 stud muffins, Heather is boarding 2 other stallions, so the place is like Testosterone Central. One of the visitors is a little baby doll named Avalanche. The other, I've talked about before — O (Sugarbush Harleys Classic O). O is the last standing Sugarbush stallion. His sire, Sugarbush Harley Quinne, a magnificent leopard draft, was struck by lightning and killed. Sugarbush was a hitch company in Ohio that had its own stable, kind of like the Budweiser Clydesdales. Hard times befell them, and I noticed even their website is no longer active. Heather has four of the remaining Sugarbush horses.

The older gentleman who owns O has been in declining health for years. Let's just say O wasn't handled as much as he could have been in his formative years. This is a problem when you're talking about a 1700 lb. (I think that's what Heather said) Percheron stallion whose shoulders, let alone withers, are well over my head. Heather and Jason have worked patiently with O for 2 years.
He's come a long way, but he still isn't where you'd want any horse that size to be, in terms of trust or manners.

When I arrived on Sunday, O was out, and I hung over the fence, gave him a couple cookies and some scritches. Never has he engaged with me like he did this day. I grabbed some tools and groomed him through and over the fence. I found his tickle spot (just behind his withers) and he actually rocked and swayed, head cocked, eyes closed, muzzle twitching.

I noticed his tail looked like a giant steel wool pad, a matted ball. No way could that thing be effective in swatting flies. It must have been akin to whacking himself on the butt with a cricket bat. Heather said O still wasn't okay with people messing around with his off side or rear end, and has a tendency to cow kick. I used the brush to scratch his butt and get him used to what it feels like to have someone mess with his tail. I gave him a couple flakes of hay, pulled up my big girl panties and went inside the fence. The only way I can explain the rush of bravery is that everything about O reminds me so much of Poco, I feel as though I understand him. Heather said, "If he even flinches, MOVE."

It took well over an hour — long enough to get sunburned in November — but he was a perfect gentleman as I untangled the bird's nest that was his tail. Occasionally, he'd bend his neck around as if to say, "You're still there?" I was even able to work on his off side. When I finished, he sure seemed darn proud of that tail, or at least in wonder of the fact that it now swishes flies the way it should. Heather noted it's the same color as my roaning hair.

Poco and Jaz (mostly you-know-who) complained loudly about the interloper getting attention from their person. And a stallion, no less — the shame and humiliation of it all! When I finally went in to visit, Poco was very lovey and kissy, even to Nita. The Boyz did their best to convince me they're miserable and starving, but I know better.

Mike picked up a fresh round bale, and we'll bring them home this weekend.
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