Monday, April 25, 2011

Good Comes From Bad

ser en dip i ty |ˌserənˈdipitē|
the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way

Although I've seen horses get hurt and helped tend to the initial injuries, I had no prior experience in the maintenance of said wounds or the healing process. I do now.

I've been actually tying Daltrey, not just looping the rope, and he's done better than I would have expected.

I'm not a fan of messing with a yearling's hind legs in the first place, much less having to doctor a painful, injured one. At first, every time I touched it, that leg would snap up. If I tried to hold it up, he'd yank it away. I had to slow way down, talk to him softly, stroke his back, butt, and the leg to get him to stand still for me. Each day that I've had to redress the wound, he has quieted down a little sooner. And I think when he lifts the leg, he may just be responding to the pressure and giving it to me as if I were going to pick the hoof. He's better now about keeping it on the ground while I wrap it. Trust is being built. That said, I still stand as close as possible just in case. I ain't stupid.

I may have figured out what he injured himself on, if not the exact scenario of how it happened. I had noticed that the hay ring had been moved several feet, but assumed Mr. Fry had done it because the Boyz had eaten out the center of the bale, and it had collapsed. Then Mr. Fry said, "I keep forgetting to ask you if you moved the hay ring." Hell, I couldn't move that hay ring if my life depended on it. I'll bet Baby stepped inside to munch and got hung up on the way out.

We've had bad weather since the middle of last week, so there were no signs of a struggle on the ring other than the fact that it had been moved. That's gotta be it. He's no dummy; I bet he doesn't do that again.

I hesitate to use the word "bad" to describe our weather, since we got much-needed rain. We also got hail, tornado watches and warnings, but that's Spring in Texas for you. And look what I found when I went out to inspect the hay ring.

Easter Sunday 2011 goes down in the books as the day I fell in love with Daltrey. We were all outside and I had just redressed the wound for the second time that day because the bandage had slipped out of place. I turned him loose, but he followed me over to the family. I began to idly pet his head. He put his face onto my chest and seemed to want nothing more than to "breathe me in." He never opened his mouth at all, just breathed deeply. He went to sleep with his head cradled in my arms. How could you not fall hard for that?

I've said it before: It is an ill wind indeed that blows no good. Good things are happening in ways I could not have imagined or planned.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Learning the Ropes

 Martha reading Baby D the Riot Act

My mentors have taught me to project a matter-of-fact attitude to my horses, that is, assume I will get the response or behavior I want when I ask them to do something, or place them in a situation. I try to relax and act as if we’ve done whatever it is a million times, not make anything a big deal, la-la-la, easy breezy.

I assume, for example, that I can walk up and fly-spray them while they’re eating or any other darn time it's convenient, whether they’re tied or not. Same with getting hosed down when it’s 106˚. With Jaz (and Poco), that is true most of the time. Rarely, I may have to loop a lead rope around Jaz’s neck if he’s of a mind to cut a rug.

One evening last week, I tried to fly-spray Daltrey at dinnertime.

O Stop Laughing [a play on Daltrey's registered name, O Stop Looking]

Last weekend, I gave Daltrey a lesson on how it’s supposed to work, and I got another lesson on … how babies are.

First, because of the bad horse juju plaguing so many of late, I donned my helmet.

As usual, as soon as I put the halter on Daltrey, he planted his feet, grabbed the knot on the lead rope, and began to play with it. I yanked to get it out of his mouth, and encouraged him to move forward. I “tied” him next to Jaz and he continued to chew the lead rope as he traversed every bit of available horizontal space.

I sprayed him with the hose. When he stood still, I stopped and praised him. When I was finally able to aim the hose at his sheath and he stood still, I quit, praised him, and gave him cookies. It only took a few minutes. I’ll wait to desensitize him to having his head sprayed. I have a wand with a mist setting that I use. Once they’re used to it, they actually seem to enjoy it, especially when it’s hot.

Two days later, I needed to spray them with fly spray. I tied them both again, and sprayed Jaz first. Daltrey watches how Jaz reacts to things. Jaz, of course, never flinched and neither did Daltrey. Lots of praise and cookies all round.

We’ll reinforce the lessons many more times while tied, and eventually try at liberty.

Other things we’ll be working on:
  • Walking on lead, and everything that connotes.
  • Not chewing on the lead rope. I’ve been lax about this one because it has kept the mouthy baby occupied when he’s tied. Now that he’s older, it’s a distraction that's becoming a habit, and I want him to pay attention to me. I’m funny like that.
  • The meaning of the word “stand,” which is neither a suggestion nor a request.
  • Patience, patience, patience.

Dénouement: This was the post I had prepared for the evening Daltrey tried to sever his leg. It only took a few moments before he stood still and allowed me to hose the leg, fly-spray him, and doctor the wound. I was even able to fly-spray that leg again at liberty. I wore a helmet throughout this episode, and will continue to do so, especially when trying new things with him. BTW, that was also the first time I actually tied him (as opposed to looping the rope), and he did well. Working on "stand" is a priority. Your mama don't dance ...

What lessons (or reminders) are you working on with your horses?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Baby D Gets an Owwy

I found him wounded when I came home from work. There was blood from that hock all the way down to the hoof, all the way around the leg, blood all over his nose and mouth — it usually looks way worse than it is, and thank goodness, that was the case here. This photo was taken after I hosed it with water for several minutes and sprayed with Vetricyn. His appetite didn't suffer a bit; he was also eating.

I wrapped it with a maxi pad (also sprayed with Vetricyn) and vet wrap. Here you can see the other superficial wounds on the leg. You can also see the swelling (it's warm), and that he's not totally putting weight on that leg.

Thanks to Mr. Fry for holding him while I bandaged. Daltrey is moving slower, but I am confident he's fine. I'm grateful to have seen and helped care for injuries worse than this at Iron Ridge. I didn't panic!

There are a dozen scenarios upon which I could postulate, but I can never truly know how this happened. All I can say for sure is that I'm glad I worked on the lesson I did last weekend, which is what today's post was supposed to be about. Next time ...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Food for Thought

Quite a while ago, Heather found an extruded pellet feed that she's got her whole herd on. Iron Ridge buys it in bulk, but it is also sold in bags, and it's cheap; about $10 for 50#. I switched to this feed when Poco was still here. They grew to love it after having been on it for the 8-10 weeks they spent at the farm when D was weaned. It's the only feed Daltrey's ever had.

Complete Assurance is manufactured by Bluebonnet Feeds in Ardmore, OK. Some big name breeder helped develop it, and it is available exclusively at one little feed store in Whitesboro, Texas. According to the label, it contains all the protein (14.5%), fat (3.5%), calories and fiber (18%) needed daily, and it's fortified with Stride Horse Feed Supplement. I like that the first ingredient is alfalfa meal. It also says horses should not need any additional hay when fed according to directions. This stuff has allowed me to stop buying supplements without guilt.

If all they get is this feed, you're supposed to feed 1.5-2% of the horse's body weight daily, but my horses are turned out 24/7, and have free-choice hay and grazing, so they get less.

They always have a round bale, though grazing is sparse in our dust bowl of a pasture. If we don't give them hay, they start tearing the bark off the oak trees, more likely out of boredom than hunger. I also don't have a place to store square bales other than my trailer. I don't like to do that for obvious reasons.

Daltrey gets 2 full big scoops of feed once a day. Though butt-high and hollow-hipped, Daltrey's been holding his weight well. At no point has he gotten ribby, which the baby drafts and draft crosses are wont to do, especially just before a growth spurt.

Jaz gets about 1/2 of one of the small scoops, then he helps finish whatever Baby D flings. My friends call him my pregnant gelding. Jaz was scrawny when I first met him, and had been a hard keeper his whole life. You can feel his ribs (barely), and he's got big ole belly. He's certainly a more comfortable ride for me at this weight, and he doesn't get as cold. He's also not as goosey. He used to only be able to tolerate the softest bristle brush; his skin would just crawl. He's a happy boy these days, that's for sure.

What do you feed your horses? What supplements do you give? Are your horses pastured 24/7, or do they have limited, controlled turnout?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Product Review - Fly Free Zone Fly Collars

I thought I'd give these a try since it's only April and the flies are already bothersome. They will only create a fly-free zone on the horse's head and neck, so you still have to spray their bodies.

I'm happy to report that they actually do work ...
... right up until the first rousing game of Bite-the-Face.
These lasted 2½ days.

If you have a horse that is pastured alone, or kept stalled, or if you have horses that just stand around and look at each other, I highly recommend them. If you have rowdy, rough-and-tumble geldings like mine, you may as well not bother.

And that's why we don't have anything nice around here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Delicate Grey Flower

Jaz, who seems determined to bankrupt me a few hundred bucks at a time, went to the vet (again) last weekend.
  • He had started coughing periodically a few weeks ago, which I ignored at first. The next time I rode him, each time I kicked him into a trot, he coughed. Later that same day, he coughed when he and Daltrey began playing.
  • He has a quarter-sized patch of I-don't-know-what on his chest. I first thought it was a scrape, and just let it alone. Weeks passed and it's still there. I tried to peel the top layer, but the skin is thick, like a bumpy mole. My thought was either a bit of proud flesh or the start of a sarcoma.
The funky skin could be anything from what I mentioned to a place where bots have entered his body and set up a colony. Eww.

Dr. G put XTerra, an acidic brown salve, on the skin, left it on for a few minutes, and wiped it off. Sure enough, it ate off the top layer and left the area smooth, but open. He said to just leave it alone and watch it. I can't say for sure what it's going to do. If this doesn't work, he'll probably remove it surgically.

The cough, I was told, could be anything from allergies to COPD. It has been windy, and we have had no rain, so it's very dusty. Dr. G prescribed an antihistamine powder called Tri-Hist twice a day. It's the weirdest stuff. It's a powder in a corn meal base that is so fine, as soon as you touch it, the granules start bouncing off each other. It reminds me of animations of atoms. It smells sweet and citrussy to me, but Jaz didn't buy it. He wouldn't eat it mixed with dry food or with food moistened with water. I mixed it with a little molasses, drizzled it over his feed, and he licked the pan clean.

Because the cough was sporadic to begin with, I have no idea if this stuff is working. Only way to find out is either to get him going in the round pen or take him out on the road again, I guess. At least I can still ride him.

Back to the comment on COPD ... Dr. G said Jaz is pretty young for it to be that. At the time, I was relieved to hear that, but since I've had time to think about it,  there's a nagging little thought at the back of my mind. Jaz had a life-threatening bout with strongyles in the winter of 2009. They were camped out in one of the main arteries of the heart. I was told any damage was permanent. I wonder ...

One of the tires on the trailer was flat and wouldn't hold air. We knew it was trashed before we even left and would need to be replaced, so we drove on it, rather than cancel the appointment. I already didn't have a spare, so now I have to buy two tires and have no way to take my pony to play days.

 In other news, Spring is happily upon us.

 With Spring, come flies.
Thought I'd try these citronella collars.

Hope you are all well. Prayers please for Kurt, one of my younger brothers who had 2 heart attacks last week, and for Heather, who found herself in the middle of 2 bitchy mares, to the tune of 40 stitches. I'm sure she'll tell us about it when she's off the pain meds.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Cafeteria Lady's Proof

This is after Daltrey had been eating a few minutes. The flinging is way worse when he first starts — I usually have to empty pellets out of my shoes. Mr. Fry calls it his tic. Part of the reason the Cafeteria Lady has a job is that if I put all his food in the pan at once, he'll fling 98 percent of it. He does this even if the food is in a bucket. The less food in the pan at one time, the more that stays there, so I dole out bits at a time. Note all the food on the rim of the tire and on the ground around it. When the bucket is empty and the pan is empty (for the last time), he and Jaz pick every last pellet from the sand. They're not the poster boys for Sand Clear, but they should be.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Flattery Will Get You ...

... to Casa Fry!

We have a house guest this weekend you may know: Flat Stanley, or in this case, Flat Toryn.

In case you don't know him, Flat Stanley is a character in a children's book who is flattened in his sleep when a bulletin board falls on him. Stanley decides there are advantages to being flat and has many adventures by mailing himself to all sorts of places. The Flat Stanley Project involves young readers in creating their own Flat Stanley paper doll, and either mailing him or packing him in a suitcase to travel with friends and relatives. Then you take photos and keep a journal of activities from Flat Stanley's perspective. In some cases, students create flat likenesses of themselves; hence, Flat Toryn, whom I believe lives in California. I work with Toryn's aunt. My son did Flat Stanley when he was in school, and it was a lot of fun, so I jumped on the chance to bring Flat Toryn home.

Flat Toryn came wearing tennis shoes, which we all know don't cut it around ponies. So I made her cowboy boots and a hat.

Scored a last minute farrier appointment Friday night, so I got photos of her sitting on the pile of used shoes in Jon's trailer. He cleaned one up that I will send back with a couple slivers of hoof.

Flat Toryn helped with chores. 

We went for a ride. Flat Toryn was rendered in such a way that I wasn't able to fashion a helmet, so she did not actually accompany us down the road. The real Toryn doesn't need to know that and Flat Toryn won't tell. I included some generic Walkabout photos in the packet to send back. I found an inexpensive nylon horn bag that I had never used, so I put all the items, plus a hand-painted metal ornament in it. If I were the little girl receiving this, I'd be squealing with delight. Hope she likes it.

The plan was to take Flat Toryn to Iron Ridge for play day today, but Heather canceled because of 40 mph winds. Her place is so open, we'd get sandblasted in the arena. Last time I rode in those conditions, I missed a day of work because my allergies went bonkers. Also, Jaz has developed a cough that I need to have checked out. He's had it for at least a week, and whenever we trotted yesterday, he coughed. I don't want to aggravate it by adding dust and sand.

How was your weekend?
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