Thursday, December 31, 2009

Buh-Bye, Aught Nine

I won't regale you with the litany of reasons I'm happy to see 2009 make its exit. I'm sure you have plenty of your own. Nor will I bore you with the list of personal improvements I aim to make in 2010. I'm sure you have plenty of your own. What I wish to share with you are reflections and resolutions involving my horses.

As Joni Mitchell once sang, "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." Or almost gone.

"Gone" is Quaker, the little one-eyed QH who finally got the perfect home he deserves. To me, he's the one that got away. I loved Quaker, and more importantly, I trusted him, maybe even more than I trust Jaz — and that's saying a lot. Yeah, yeah, I know you've all heard me say a million times that our land won't support more than 2 horses. Nevertheless, Quaker will always be the horse I let slip through my fingers. I resolve not to make that mistake again.

"Almost gone" was my sweet Jazu. I thought I appreciated Jaz, and I do, but not nearly as much as he deserves. The thought of losing him brought me to my senses.

Poco is my first horse, and will always hold that special place in my heart that only your first horse can. I was woefully naive and impulsive. If I had known then what I know now, I never would have bought him. That said, my love for the silly beast makes me weak in the knees.

The longer I have him, the better he gets on all counts, but Poco is not Jaz and will never be remotely like Jaz. Poco would walk through fire with me on the ground. That does not translate under saddle, where he is unpredictable, at best. He is not patient or tolerant of my lack of skill. He challenges me every time I get on him. That's not a completely bad thing, because he forces me to step out of my comfort zone. I have always joked that underneath it all, he's a big scared baby. I now know that is more true than I realized. He's all bluster. He is fearful, lacks confidence, and is his own worst enemy. When he's afraid, he can worry himself into sheer panic that, if not assuaged, will escalate into a bucking episode. And me in the dirt. He doesn't look out for me because he's too busy looking out for himself. We don't trust each other when I'm in the saddle.

I have ridden Poco for hours down our road with Nita and Jaz. If only on the surface, he's fine if Jaz is with us. If Jaz spooks, forget it. Taking Poco out by himself for more than a very short distance is excessive risk taking for a person at my skill level (or lack thereof). Can these things be fixed? I'm sure they can, but I don't have the riding skill, the time, or the money for a concerted effort to make it happen anytime soon. I work full time and have an hour commute each way. During the week, the only time I have with the horses is when I feed them. On the weekends, I want my time with them to be pleasurable for us all.

I have been spending what little time (and ambition) I have working with Poco, my excuse being he's the one who needs it most. That's true, but when I am on him, it's mostly a battle of wills. I'm outmaneuvering him, trying to guess his next move, and how to redirect him. Needless to say, it can be extremely stressful. I can't really ride him and concentrate much on improving my riding skills. Not only am I not progressing, I feel as though I've regressed badly. I resolve to continue to work with Poco, but not wanting to deal with him will no longer be an excuse not to ride at all.

I somehow lost sight of the fact that the knowledge and confidence I get from Jaz are directly responsible for any success I've had with Poco. What I need is Jazu, and I resolve to ride him — and appreciate him — a lot more.

May 2010 bring health, happiness, and prosperity for us all, as well as progress on the journey with our horses.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Jazu Passes His Checkup!

Yesterday was Jazu's follow-up vet visit after his treatment for strongyles. I wanted to take photos, but I couldn't bring myself to ask permission; it felt disrespectful.

Dr. E asked how Jaz has been acting. He had a rough 2-3 week period following his 3 days of 10x doses of Panacur. Every time the weather changed, he exhibited mild colic symptoms that never developed into full-blown episodes. He's been his sweet, playful, goobery self for a couple of weeks, even with extreme (for Texas) weather changes. He is also not showing signs of tenderness on his flank. Eats like a pig, poops like a champ.

Dr. E asked how I wanted to proceed, which took me aback. He had said all along that he wanted to do a sonogram 30 days after treatment stopped, but now said that was merely an option. He said it was the medically correct thing to do, but treatment wouldn't change regardless of what we saw. Since I was expecting the expense all along, we did the sonogram. I'm glad we did. The swelling is reduced significantly, and the artery walls have thinned from what we originally saw. Dr. E said there will always be scarring, but it shouldn't cause Jaz any discomfort, and he is okay to ease back into riding. I'm so excited! If I hadn't agreed to this sonogram, I would have always wondered what was going on in there.

Dr. E said to give Jaz a tube of Quest as soon as the tranquilizer wore off. Poco and Scorch will also get treated, as will Heather's entire herd. Dr. E says the worms can't live on the ground when it's frozen or in the heat of the summer — they are all living in the horses' guts. That's why he recommends purge worming in January and July in Texas. We've had hard freezes for a week. Close enough.

I think it's best if I leave Jaz at the farm until spring. I want him to build his strength back up, and be stalled if the weather is bad. Someone is always there, in case he should have a relapse. I couldn't turn him out here 24/7 and not worry.

I almost got stuck in the mud trying to turn the trailer around to get out of Heather's driveway. My trailer sits too low in the back when it's empty. We've talked about getting a proper hitch that brings the front of the trailer down so it rides level. After a trip to nearby Dennards in Whitesboro, TX, that became my Christmas present to myself. Now I have my very own hitch and don't have to worry about where Mr. Fry has placed the other one this time. This has been an issue on several occasions. As anal as he is about his garage and tools, why can't he put stuff in the same place twice?

While I was at Dennards, I bought Poco and Scorch a half dozen bales of alfalfa. I will dole it out a half a flake at a time, just a little "sump'n sump'n" in their feed pans at night.

Before I left to pick up Jaz, I noticed Scorch's blanket was hanging funny again. The main strap around his barrel was undone, and both straps that wrap around his hind legs were gone. I found them out by the round bale. We are expecting sleet later, so I guess I'll be the reluctant seamstress again today.

Stay warm!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Denouement

The snow was pretty while it lasted.
Now it's more of a PITA than anything else.
It melts during the day,
which means this place is a mud bog.
Then it freezes again at night,
making roads and footpaths dangerous.

Needless to say, it's too muddy
to do much of anything
with the horses.
Even feeding them just makes
things more of a mess.

The weather was bad for 2 solid days and nights,
which meant the horses didn't get much rest.
They're making up for it now,
taking turns napping in the sun.

And look at the great Christmas gifts I/we got.
Nita, Heather & clan got us mugs with
photos of the horses on them.
My sister-in-law got me a stethoscope
and a digital thermometer.
Cool, huh?

I know lots of people will be out there
hunting up bargains this weekend.
I have no money, so
y'all can have my share.
I'm staying home and staying warm.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

White Christmas in Texas!

North Texas is in the midst of
the rare white Christmas.
It began as rain this morning,
then got super cold and windy,
and has been snowing ever since.

The horses have been playing non-stop all day,
probably just to stay warm.
I waited until the rain stopped
to blanket them.
They already had ice forming
on their coats,
though neither one was shivering.

This photo was taken before whiteout conditions set in.

Merry Christmas
and a happy, healthy,
and prosperous New Year
from all of us at
Casa Fry.


Monday, December 21, 2009

The Perfect Storm

Alternate Title:
Adrenaline Rush du Jour

It may seem as if I have included meaningless minutiae in this story, but I promise the details are all elements of the perfect storm.

When I arrived at the farm yesterday to visit Jaz, my normal parking spot was occupied by the temporary goat pen. I backed my truck next to the hay truck.

This is not yet another gratuitous photo of Jaz at his cutest, wearing his elf hat. The important part of this photo is that thing to which he is tied. It's a chute. It's 10-12 ft. long, and at this end (about 2 ft. to the left of Jaz's nose) is the "door frame," which is probably 8 ft. tall. It has a base, and I'm guessing this whole thing weighs 1,000 lbs. My truck was parked maybe 30-35 ft. behind Jaz, with the front facing his butt.

I was wearing a light fleece vest, with my cell phone in the left pocket and my camera in the right pocket. It was chilly, but as I worked in the sun, I removed the vest and draped it on the far rail, a little to the left of where Jaz's nose is. A bucket of grooming implements sat on the ground at the left end. After grooming Jaz and hand grazing him, I turned him back out with the youngsters.

I brought Rover out and tied him to the same spot where Jaz had been. I wanted to check him out, see how well he responded to pressure — good; how well he stood still — not so good; manners and respect — also not so good. His previous owner allowed him to be pushy. He kept trying to butt and/or rub me with his head. No, you big goober, we don't do that. I groomed him, and he was good about being touched all over. He was very good about picking up his feet, not leaning, etc. ... until we got to the last foot, the right front. I asked for the foot and he gave it, but before I even started to pick it, he yanked it out of my hand and slammed it down. That foot no sooner hit the ground, than my kick hit him just above the knee.

Allow me to interject here that if I had done that to Poco or Jaz, they'd have been like, "Oh crap, I've been naughty, I better stand still." Not Rover. Rover pulled back. Hard. So hard that the whole chute started sliding along the ground, pulling me with it. The bucket of implements became airborne. He flipped the chute toward himself, which by the grace of God, sent me flying out of harm's way as he dragged the chute, my vest now under it on the ground, crashing toward my truck.

I jumped to my feet, but I didn't want to run toward him, figuring that would freak him out even more. Instead, I stayed where I was and quietly started saying things like "Easy, big guy. You're all right. You can stop now." Honestly, I don't know exactly what I said, but it worked. He stopped with his butt about 4 ft. from the front bumper of my truck, gave one final fling of his head, and righted the chute. My vest was still under it.

I walked toward him slowly, still speaking in as soothing a tone of voice as I could muster, considering I was shaking from head to foot. It took a little doing to untie him because the rope was all wonky and twisted from when he flipped the chute. I walked him and let him graze until we were both breathing normally again, then put him in a stall to chill.

Rover is fine. At no point did the chute even touch him. I imagine his neck and shoulders are sore today from dragging and flinging that heavy contraption 25 ft. from where it was.

I am fine. The chute hit my right leg at the exact spot where I fell when I got thrown from Poco last May. I landed on that same spot on the other side, so I have matching bruises on both legs. Hot bath, Arnica Montana, and Aleve.

My cell phone and camera are fine. I don't know how they managed to stay in my unzipped pockets and survive the pummeling.

It's only a good story because no one got hurt, and I can laugh about it now. For one thing, the sight of Rover, all wild-eyed, backing toward my truck, brought to mind the scene from the Disney-Pixar movie Cars, when Lightning McQueen and Mater go tractor tipping. He looked just like one of those dopey, rusty, red tractors.

And the other thing that made me chuckle? I'll bet he never yanks a foot away from anyone ever again.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Overdue Update

I know how to untie myself, and when I do,
this hat is history and I'm outta here!

I shot the annual nonsensical Christmas photos in two installments, since Jaz is still at Heather's recovering from his bout with strongyles. He seems to finally have turned a corner and is acting like his normal, goobery self.

For weeks, he was listless and obviously uncomfortable. He stood with his head down, occasionally backing around, exhibiting symptoms normally associated with early-stage colic, though it never progressed beyond that. They have been turning him out in an area where the young boys are kept. Sometimes he'd act like he wanted to play; other days, he'd mope. I went up there one day and Crash was pushing him around. Jaz is submissive, but he normally doesn't let the youngsters get away with that crap. For the last week, he's been bucking and farting with the kiddos.

When I visited last weekend, he seemed genuinely glad to see me. One of Jaz's quirks is that he's mouthy. He never bites, but he likes to put his mouth on you and lick. He likes you to play with his nose and mouth by grabbing it in your hand, scratching, pinching and twisting. Go figure. On previous visits when I tried to do that, he turned his head away. This time, he put his muzzle in my hand and wiggled his nose to encourage me to do it. He ate carrots and I hand grazed him, since there is very little grass in that catch pen.

And only a mom would be excited to report that I personally saw him deliver 2 decent, normal-looking piles of manure. Does my heart good, I tell ya.

His follow-up sonogram with Dr. E is the Monday after Christmas. Even if he gets a clean bill of health, I will probably leave him up there until spring. I feel like his interests are better served being stalled in the cold weather. He's been blanketed the whole time he's been up there, and will probably remain so most of the winter. Jazu, my fair-weather pony.

Oh yeah, I stopped by Dr. G's (regular vet) office on another matter, and he said to "tell Jaz" he was sorry he didn't catch the strongyles. He said worms can be a cause of colic, but you generally rule out a host of other things before looking in that direction, especially when the horse is on a regular worming schedule, as mine are. Dr. E gave me a rotational worming schedule, but I think Linda over at 7MSN has the right idea. Why not treat what tests show they have, rather than a shotgun-in-the-dark approach?

Scorch is having the time of his young life. Since he's a 2 year-old stallion, he's been kept separate from the herd, usually in that same pen with the young geldings and colts destined to be gelded. Here, he has 5 acres to run and play. He has shown remarkable sense. Our place is not baby proof, and there are plenty of opportunities for a silly young one to injure itself. So far, any and all minor injuries have been the result of horseplay. They play a lot rougher than Poco and Jaz ever have; both have the scuffs and scrapes to prove it. My concern: will Poco tone it back down when Jaz returns? Jaz's ace-in-the-hole has always been his speed. Will he be able to handle the escalated play? I'm probably just being a nervous-nelly mom. Lots of time to figure that out, though.

I'm also thinking about changing out ponies again. Heather has a solid paint gelding I'd like to check out, see if he and Pokey get along. In a previous life, he was used to run barrels. He's a big red boy we've been calling Rover (inside joke). He has a large blaze and 4 very short sox. He's maybe 15hh or a bit more, which is Jaz's height, but Rover is bigger boned than Jaz. In the limited time I've spent with him, his only problem is that he gets in your space. I'm told his former owner allowed him to intimidate her. Heather gave her Quaker, and it was mutual love at first sight. More on Rover as/if the story develops.

I did the repairs to Scorch's blanket by hand, using heavy-duty carpet thread. The regular size swivel hooks like you'd use on reins aren't wide enough to accommodate the straps. I only had one on hand that is large enough, so a trip to Paul Taylor's is on today's agenda. I need Sand Clear anyway.

Brrr! I hope it warms up this afternoon so I can ride Poco in the round pen. It's been way too long. In any case, both horses could stand a little grooming. Scorch has a tiny spot of proud flesh on his belly that needs tending.

I am off work until January 4th — sound the trumpets, please — and looking forward to lots of quality pony time. Stay warm and don't forget to smooch your ponies.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Presenting Boy Scorch

As I was shooting the photos for
the Christmas blog header,
there was a certain
déjà vu in this face.

Is it the ghost of
Christmas photo shoots past?


Or is that devil-may-care braid
reminding me of
two rocker ponies I know?

That's it — it's the braid!

No, not old, fat, jailbird George.

No, not freakazoid George either.

That's the one.

What do you think of Boy Scorch?

I bet he can sing at least
as well as Boy George.
Probably better.

Karma karma karma karma
karma chameleon...

Sorry, Heather.
I couldn't resist.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Needing a Fix

The weather warmed up and
Mr. Fry removed horse blankets.
He was also kind enough to
clean them up a bit.

I inspected the damage
to Scorch's blanket,
this time in full daylight.
The good news is, it's repairable.

The white spot on the upper right
is the tear on the flank,
which is about 5" long.
It can be patched
or hand mended.

As you can see, the hardware is
easily replaceable.
I always have extra swivel hooks around.
The other half, to which it hooks,
was not ripped off, just folded in on itself.

The right shoulder seam
is torn about 8-10"
and can be sewn.

Why wouldn't they have used
heavy duty thread, like
carpet thread or nylon?

And I feel like an idiot.
Lisa asked if Poco chews on blankets.
It's gotta be him.
He's the only one whose
blanket isn't torn.
I always blamed Jaz's ragamuffin blanket
on his boyish nature.

Jaz, I'm sorry, Bubby.
I should have known my
sweet, good boy wasn't
responsible for the destruction.

As for you, Pokeymon:
son, you and I need to have a talk.

Friday, December 11, 2009

So Much For That

I bought Scorch's blanket on Tuesday evening, and by Wednesday when I got home, less than 24 hours later, it was not only covered with muddy hoof prints, but had a 5" tear over his left flank. Okay, boys will be boys.

I got home last night (Thursday), and it no longer even looked like a black blanket. It was caked with mud. That's okay, too — that's what horses do.

It was hanging funny in the front. I went to refasten the top clasp on his chest only to find the metal itself is snapped (as in broken, as in only a portion of it remains) and the whole other half of the fastener is gone, ripped off. As I adjusted it so he could at least keep it on, I found that the right shoulder seam is ripped open 12-14".

It was too dark and I was too mad to take pictures.

Scorch's $80 blanket + 48 hours = destroyed. Tough-1 my ass!
Poco's $39 cheezy end-of-summer clearance blanket + 2 years = just fine, thank you very much.

And that, as my mom used to say, is why we don't have anything nice.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snuggly Bugs

Button up your overcoat
When the wind is free

Take good care of yourself

You belong to me

Button Up Your Overcoat
(Brown, De Silva, Henderson)
From the 1929 musical "Follow Through"

Temps tonight will dip to the low 20's,
but the wind chill will be in the 11-15 range.
Scorch and Pokey both have good woolly coats,
and both have seemed comfortable so far.

The truth is, Mr. Fry is a big softie.
He pretty much insisted we blanket them.
I could have borrowed one from Heather and Nita,
but that would have meant driving all the way
up there to get it.

Instead, I stopped at Paul Taylor's
on the way home and bought one for him.
My friends have been so kind to
care for Jaz, the fair-weather pony, the least
I can do is buy their boy a blankey.

All the cheap ones were gone.
All that was left were
the really nice ones.
It's waterproof and adjustable all over.
Also looks to be tough as nails.
I love the way it fits.
He didn't mind at all,
though we did have to halter him
and one of us had to hold him.

Pokey, on the other hand,
stood without being haltered,
and his even has to go over his head.
He does like being toasty.

When it's time to replace his and Jaz's,
I want to get them ones
like Scorch's.

Looks like tomorrow will be a
warm Gatorade kind of morning.

Stay warm and don't forget
to smooch your ponies.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sundry Sunday

At 4:30 a.m. one morning last week,
I awoke to a hard rain.
The dogs were in no hurry
to get out to do their business.

Much to my surprise,
by the time I left at 6:30,
this was my view as I
headed up the driveway.

This was snapped about 30 minutes later.

But it was all gone in about 3 hours,
and the rest of the day
showed no remnants of
the morning's freakish weather.

I headed to the farm yesterday
to visit Jaz and to see what
else was going on.
It was cold and windy.
I got down the road a few miles
and realized I forgot my boots,
which meant I had
to wear my Crocs —
not the warmest
or safest footwear.

Jaz was stalled,
wearing Nita's mare Keeley's blanket,
which is enormous on him.
I changed him out to
his own blanket and
noticed that in spite of the fact
that he felt warm,
he was trembling.

At first I thought he was shivering,
but it was ... different.
I mentioned it to Jason, and he said they
thought it was neurological,
a side effect of the strongyles.
It subsided after a few moments.

He still gets Bute every day.
When that doesn't ease his discomfort,
he gets a little Banamine.

More will be revealed when they
sonogram him again
the Monday after Christmas.

Although it was windy and cold,
it was a pretty, sunny day,
so after he stopped shaking,
I brought Jaz out and
hand grazed him for awhile.
Poor guy couldn't eat fast enough.

I had gloves, but they were
just wimpy knit ones.
I was frickin' freezing,
Mr. Bigglesworth!
Soon I couldn't feel my fingers
or my toes.

I left and swung by our local
Tractor Supply and bought these.
The leather is buttery soft
and they are lined with Thinsulate.

Today it's cold, gray,
and has been drizzling lightly.
Poco and Scorch seem perfectly content,
as they munch their hay
and pretend to graze.

It was a good day to stay inside,
make a nice pot

of turkey noodle soup ...

... and sit in front of the tube
with the Ratweasels at my feet ...

... and the Christmas tree
emitting a festive holiday glow.

Hope y'all have had a great weekend.

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin