Archive of ‘Equestrian’ category

Poop Under a Microscope

A few weeks ago I was perusing the Chronicle of the Horse forums and came across a thread about fecal egg counts. For those who aren’t horsey, this is a task that veterinarians have been encouraging horse owners to do for the past few years to better plan when and what to deworm their horses with, rather than just following the long-standing rotational deworming method. Many worms have become resistant to dewormer and by doing a fecal egg count you have a better idea what kind and how bad the infestation of worms in your  horse.

The vet I used when I first had horses in Texas recommended just doing the rotational deworming and forego fecal egg counts, so I did. Fast forward to now, I have a new vet and he thought it was a good idea. It costs about $20/horse to do a fecal egg count and at first you should do it about 4 times a year to get a strong baseline of counts. I currently have 5 horses at my house and I was mostly just annoyed at the idea of spending $400 per year to do the fecal counts.

Back to the Chronicle forum thread. A couple commentors on the thread said they did their own fecal egg counts. Mind. Blown. I private messaged one of them with some questions and did a search on Amazon for a microscope and I was off and running!

This is the microscope I bought. Can you believe that you can buy a microscope for less than $100?! I was amazed! I also had to get a graduated cylinder, pipettes, a McMaster slide and a few other small things.

I’m going to do an overview of the method I used, but I am no expert on fecal egg counts!

Based on the advice from the Chronicle I utilized the McMaster Method for equine fecal egg count. I made my own flotation solution with water and Epsom salts.

First step: gather the poop. I got fresh droppings from each horse, put it in a plastic baggy with the horse’s name and the date.

Bags of poop. Fun things you may find in the fridge at my house!

 

Second step: measure the flotation solution.

 

Third step: measure the poop.

 

Fourth step: add the poop to the flotation solution.

 

Fifth step: mix up the poop and flotation solution.

 

Sixth step: pipette the liquid solution without getting any solid pieces in the pipette.

 

Seventh step: pipette the solution onto the McMaster slide.

 

Eighth step: after the slide has sat with the solution for 20-30 minutes you can read it under the microscope.

Ninth step: the method of counting the worm eggs utilizes the 2 chambers on the slide and counting eggs in each column. The columns make it easier to keep track of where you have counted. You add up your total eggs and multiply that number times 25 for a total count.

Under 99 is a low count and doesn’t necessitate deworming. 100-499 is medium and you should probably deworm. 500 and over is high and you should definitely deworm. 3 of my 5 horses had a count under 99 and 2 had counts of 750 or higher. I found this very interesting since all the horses have been here for a few months so have the same environmental impacts. I’ll deworm the two with high counts then do another fecal count for all 5 horses in a few weeks. You can get a low count on a horse that actually has worms depending on the lifestage of the worms when you did the fecal count. So I could have more horses with high counts later. I will also be able to tell if the dewormer I use works on the 2 horses that get dewormed. If counts are still high then I will need to use a different dewormer.

THIS IS SO FASCINATING! I feel like a mini-scientist! And yay for feeling empowered to care for and evaluate my horses’ health!

Sterling and his hurtie

The vet came by yesterday  to stab vaccinate my herd of horses plus I wanted him to do an evaluation of Sterling since he has been off on his right front for about 2 weeks. Rewind a little bit here. Sterling had a small quarter crack on both of his front hooves at the beginning of the year. 2 trims ago my farrier didn’t think it was much to worry about. Sterling historically has pretty good feet, especially for a thoroughbred. The quarter crack on his right front was getting decidedly worse so I had the farrier come out a bit sooner than usual and he chopped of Sterling’s toe to mitigate the growth of the quarter crack on his right front hoof. When I got home the day he got trimmed I was a little taken aback at just how much hoof was cut off! As a result I really expected Sterling to be sore the next day, but he was still normal and sound even 2 days later.

Fast forward to day 4 and he was CLEARLY off on his right front.

I sent this video to my vet. He advised bute (a horsey NSAID) for a few days and see how he is. At day 3 he was not as noticeably lame, but definitely still slightly off. I made an appointment for the vet to come over to look at him and do annual vaccinations. It worked out to be exactly 2 weeks after he exhibited lameness. I haven’t been riding him at all in the meantime.

We lunged Sterling in both directions and the vet confirmed that he is still off on his right front. The vet blocked his right front foot, which means he gave him a shot in his foot to make it completely “dead” for a short period of time. This allows the vet to see if the pain goes away with the numbness and confirm that is where the pain is located. We do this since horses can’t tell us where they hurt. We again lunged Sterling in both directions and the vet saw definite improvement, but noticed that he is still ever so slightly off and that it happens with both front feet depending on which direction he is going. In all likelihood this just means that Sterling is starting to show age in his front coffins, which I’m advised by my vet isn’t a big deal. It just means we may need to start injecting his coffins to provide comfort as he ages and gets some aches and pains. The injection provides him pain relief and only needs to be administered about once per year. It is more or less the same as giving him a horse version of aspirin or ibuprofen every day.

Before we got that route we will adjust his hoof care and will have the farrier put on these crazy named shoes.

The Kerckhaert Aluminum Horse Shoe

If this solves his problem then we will put off the injections for at least a little while. In the meantime, Coco is getting ALL the rides and is thus showing tremendous improvement in her education. Have any of my horsey friends used Kerckhaert shoes? Thoughts, opinions, feedback with similar issues?

10 Questions Blog Hop

I saw this blog hop on my Bloglovin’ feed from Hand Gallop and thought I would join in. Below are my answers to the questions posted from The Horse is Not Black’s blog hop questions.

1. What are your summer goals?

I’m currently working on my 6 month set of Power Sheets. As of yet I haven’t established exactly what my goals are, but the long and short of it with regards to horses is hours in the saddle! Coco and Simon both need a LOT of miles! Simon has off until the first of June from a hoof/coronet band injury, but Coco is getting a LOT of rides since Sterling has been lameish.

2. Do you have any tips or tricks for fly control?

Sterling’s dapper Baker fly sheet

We are BIG believers in the fly predators and have gotten them every summer for the past 3 or 4 years. They worked exceptionally well when our previous neighbor used them also. The more places with horses (and livestock) that use them the better they work. We also have overhead fans in all our stalls which the horses really seem to like. To me, the key to fly control is not any one thing. You have to do what works for you, your horses and your geography. I don’t want my horses swatting their tails very much so they all wear fly sheets. In June I’ll swap them from daytime turnout to nighttime turnout so they can be inside the insulated barn with fan during the hottest part of the day.

3. How often do you bathe your horse?

I only give a soapy bath for horse shows or to clean an injury. They get rinsed off if they get very sweaty from a ride.

4. Do you have any upcoming travel plans? Equine related or otherwise?

Always! In July I’m going to Montana with a bunch of horsey friends to stay at my family’s ranch for a week. Most of us are taking horses. I’m excited to get out of Texas heat for the week! Then in August my brother is getting married so that has us travelling to Ohio.

5. What is your favorite way to beat the heat?

The best sew-chine ever

Ride early in the morning and stay inside when it is crazy hot. I’m hoping to get some sewing projects done this summer. Texas summer is kind of like Montana winter; that is the time of year you plan to be indoors most of the time so you get your inside projects done!

6. Do you do anything to prevent your horse from sunbleaching?

It isn’t exactly purposeful for sunbleaching, but keeping them inside during summer days keeps their color dark. I only have one horse that will get sunbleached (Simon).

7. How hot is too hot for you to ride?

Gosh, above 95? It really depends on the humidity and the horse. Some horses can tolerate heat better than others. I also may ride and just not do anything strenuous. Work on leg yields at the walk. Opening and closing gates. The not-so-glamorous slow stuff that doesn’t get as much attention when it is 60 and windy!

8. How important is sun protection for you riding or just in general?

A champagne colored EIS shirt.

Very! I’m pretty fair skinned and burn very easily. My horsey bestie started wearing the fancy schmancy sun shirts a few years ago and I thought she was CRAZY for wearing long sleeves in Texas in August. Then I got one and realized their fantasticness! They keep you much cooler than any tank top ever could and they protect your skin from the sun. It really is a win win. I’m a fan of the EIS shirts because they are made in the USA. I have 5 EIS and one Tailored Sporstman shirts. Whenever I see EIS on sale I always try to snag one. I also wear the requisite sunscreen on my face and ride with a helmet and gloves (but not one of the helmets with the giant visors, I think they look kind of silly).

9. Have you ever gone swimming with your horse?

Kind of in the water, but not really

I have ridden Jaguar into the water, but I don’t know that I’d call it “swimming”. Sterling will hardly get his feet wet and Coco and Simon have never had the opportunity. I used to really want to take Jaguar to South Padre Island and ride him on the beach, but since he’s now a pasture ornament that dream will have to live on with another horse. Maybe Simon?

10. What’s on your summer wish list?

Gates on the stall runs
A driveway gate
A new bed
New horse boots
Getting my gifted Dehner’s adjusted to fit my skinny calves

So, there you have it. Happy Monday y’all!

What Color is My Horse?

I have quite a few young horses so it has been on my mind lately to get some good conformation photos of them. I’d like to have a pictorial reference for how the horses change as they get older. Especially since I have horses of significantly different bloodlines and breeds. In that vein, I got Boot City to snap some photos of Coco and Simon on Monday.

Here is Coco. She is a BAY 5yo RPSI registered mare by Coconut Grove out of a mare called I-Mai Tai. Mai Tai is by Mezcalero and out of a daughter of Amaretto.

The angle is off so I probably won’t use this photo for an actual conformation analysis, but for this post the point of this photo is that Coco is BAY. Her coat is decidedly red and her points (legs, mane and tail) are decidedly black. She is the textbook definition of the color BAY.

Here is Simon. He is a 3yo Thoroughbred gelding of undecided color by Ghostzapper out of a mare called Precious BROWNIE. Precious Brownie is by Golden Missile and out of a daughter of Explodent (TERRIBLE name!).

Simon’s papers describe his color as “dkb/br” (if you aren’t horsey, that means dark bay/brown). It has been on my mind lately that most every horse this color is described as “bay”. Well, to me, this horse looks brown. No one calls their horse “brown”. Why is this? It seems to be true of most all breeds that there is a bias against calling horses “brown”. I googled it a bit yesterday and the most specific description of brown versus bay that I could find stated that a brown horse tends to have tan around it’s muzzle, flank and at the top of it’s legs.

Here is a photo of Simon with his full winter fuzz. I think the tan spots are more prevalent here than with his summer coat.

So, people on the interwebs, what color is Simon and why?

Field trip

In the nine years I’ve owned Sterling he has slowly but surely gotten much better about being ridden away from home, but he still gets quite distracted at new places. One of the best things about living in North Texas is the availability of really lovely facilities that allow outside riders, one of which is a mere 15 miles from my house. This past weekend Sterling and I made the trip out to Willow Draw to get some miles away from home.

Not many hunter/jumper barns have walls with mirrors so it usually takes Sterling a few minutes to get acclimated to the handsome grey horse that seems to do the same thing he’s doing.

It is SO nice to be able to see his frame in the mirror, though. Especially when I’m riding by myself. I can really see how my riding is affecting his frame and see the immediate change when I change something. There aren’t any jumps in the indoor so we worked on a 20 meter circle exercise we did at a lesson last week and then worked on his frame for the under saddle classes.

After 30 or so minutes in the indoor I wanted to get him out on the cross country course for a mini trail ride. As I’ve written in the past Sterling is NOT a fan of trail rides. However, I’ve only ever taken him out in large groups or with the fox hunt so thought going out by himself might go better. Willow Draw has a full cross country course, but we only ventured to one of the water hazards to see if I could get him to get his feet wet.

I didn’t take my iCellular with me when I went out in case he lost his s%&t and I got tossed into the water or something similar so I don’t have pics, but I was able to get him to get all four feet in the water! Here is a snap of the water hazard from the road. It is the one with the jumps in the distance, not the one right by the road.

I’m SO proud of him! He also had to cross a little ditch of running water and let me tell you, he cleared that 2″ of water by about 7′ both in height and the distance he jumped across. Dramatic much?!

There were some riders schooling on the cross country course and I wanted to stay out of their way as much as I didn’t want to overwhelm Sterling, so after our success at the water hazard we went back to hack a little more in the indoor.

Sterling was a very good boy and settled easily into the “new” arena. Just a couple years ago we would have had to lunge for 15-20 minutes and do plenty of hand walking before I would have DARED ride at a new place. I am SO appreciative that places like Willow Draw make it possible to use their beautiful facility.

Stomp the Divots!

My favorite thing about the hunt group of which I am a member is the diversity of horse interests among the members. Never before have I known polo players!  Boot City and I got to attend the season opener for the polo season this past Saturday. It was an informal match, but guests were dressed up, the horses were (kind of) fast and the champagne was drunk while the divots were stomped!

The weather for the match was AMAZING! Especially amazing after being so very very cold on Saturday. I even got a sunburn on my scary white legs!

The players were very social and came by the sidelines to talk to the fans many times during the match. Check out this polo pony’s fabulous polka dotted polo wraps!

The appaloosa polo pony was a HUGE hit! We learned from the player’s wife that at most matches the opposing team’s horses usually need a couple minutes to just stare at the appaloosa before they can focus on playing. I am not surprised by this because Sterling always has to stare at paint horses before he can focus, too. Paint jumpers are the MOST scary to Sterling because they have loud hair and loud bell boots.

I’m excited to go to more polo matches this season for tailgating. My polo friends often ask me when I’m going to switch over to polo from showing hunters and I tell them that I’ll make the switch once I’ve mastered jumping, which will be never. Just ask Sterling, I still have a LOT to learn! Plus, if you recall from my polo posts last summer, polo is REALLY hard. I’m not sure I have the necessary hand/eye coordination to hit the ball with the mallet rather than my horse’s legs.

Simon’s Bloodlines

When I was first considering buying Simon I posted on the Chronicle of the Horse Forums in the Sport Horse Breeding section requesting information about Simon’s lineage and it’s propensity for sport horse performance. It was an enlightening exchange from some very knowledgeable people with regards to Thoroughbred bloodlines and racing. Simon’s sire is Ghostzapper. Ghostzapper currently stands for a $75,000 stud fee at Aden SpringsSimon’s in Paris, Kentucky.  He won the Breeder’s Cup in 2004, the same year he was awarded the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year. He was retired in June of 2005 and at that point had won just under $3.5 million. I did a search on the United States Equestrian Federation’s website for offspring of Ghostzapper and only found a couple. One had shown in the hunters and one in jumpers, but neither horse had much of a show history. His first foal crop was born in 2007 and according to one of the COTH posters, they have done quite well on the track so not many have likely made their way to the USEF sports. They are known to have very kind personalities, which fits Simon to a “T”!

Ghostzapper

Ghostzapper is sired by Awesome Again. AA doesn’t have a lot of babies registered with USEF, but most all of them have a show record! Many competed in the jumper ring and a couple were competitive as hunters and dressage. Only a couple did eventing. Ghostzapper looks quite a lot like his sire.

Awesome Again

Simon’s dam is Precious Brownie who is by Golden Missile. I was unable to find any photos of Precious Brownie so am going with her sire line. GM is noted to pass along nice movement to his offspring.Similar to Ghostzapper most of his USEF registered offspring competed in hunter/jumper events, but quite a few also have dressage records. Interestingly very few competed in Eventing, which tends to be more dominated by thoroughbreds than is dressage or hunter/jumper disciplines.

Golden Missile

Precious Brownie also goes back to a little known stallion who went by the name Secretariat. You may have heard of him before. Mostly it is just fun to say that he goes back to Secretariat, because even people who don’t ride are familiar with Secretariat.

Secretariat in his older man days

Another fun way to look up your thoroughbred’s pedigree is to use the photo feature on http://www.pedigreequery.com. Simon’s shows quite a list of photos of impressive thoroughbreds from many years past.

I love studying horse bloodlines. I can lose five hours on the internet before I know it has happened just researching and looking up photos! Do you follow bloodlines? Do you care about your horse’s bloodlines?

My Man Zapper

So this happened.

Simon!

Simon!

My farrier and I were at a Christmas party hosted by a mutual friend and he asked me if I knew of anyone looking for a horse to use for fox hunting. He had a really nice off the track thoroughbred that was just too tall for polo. His sport of choice being polo, he wasn’t interested in keeping a 16.1hh gelding. I was, of course, not interested but would accept some pictures so I could share the information with my fox hunting buddies. Unfortunately I was nearly immediately smitten. Zapper was every girl’s dream: tall, dark and very handsome!

After Jaguar’s disappointing diagnosis last summer and his being unrideable, I borrowed a horse from my Mom for this hunt season. I have known all season the regardless of how much I loved Casey, he would have to go back to Montana at the conclusion of hunt season for Mom to show him. I had it in my head that I might hunt Coco next year, but she’s got the most value in the show ring so I don’t think it would be in her best interest to join the hunt field until she is older and a bit more seasoned. Without thinking about it too much I went ahead and scheduled to go see “Zapper” with my horsey bestie.

Zapper’s last race was November 26 and we went to ride him on January 2. Keep in mind that means he had been off the track for barely 45 days! Here is a link to a video of when we tried Zapper.

He had some leg injuries from some pasture shenanigans and was probably a bit sore from the track, but he is a lovely mover. We were extremely impressed by his disposition. It took a LOT of leg to get him to go forward. He didn’t look at anything. He tolerated us jumping on him from the ground. My farrier rode him first in a big western saddle with smooth rowelled spurs and Zapper showed no care.  The hunt I whip for is not a fast and forward hunt, so requires a horse that can go forward over rough terrain just as well as it can stand still and await direction. Zapper showed strong propensity for the standing still part.

I scheduled my vet to do a pre-purchase exam a couple days later and after positive feedback, took him home within the week. Just what I needed, another horse! The first couple  weeks required some care and medications for his pasture injuries and there will be a few more vet visits for the broken tooth, but I have a good feeling about him.

Simon snug in his blanket and and all wrapped up in his Back on Track wraps.

Simon snug in his blanket and and all wrapped up in his Back on Track wraps.

He is extremely easy to have around. I wrap his legs and give him meds without even putting on his halter! He is calmer than the other four at home by far. I’ll give him the month of January completely off and start hacking him a bit in February. I hope to ride him at at least one or two hunts in March, just to see how he does out and about and hoping he remains as calm and quiet as his disposition indicates.

Like I said, just what I needed was another horse. I changed his name to Simon. Zapper reminds me of a bug zapper so he is named for the ghost in Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost. If he ever requires a show name it will be The Canterville Ghost.

 

Simon the pasture puff. Still sporting his off-the-track bod. The next few months will be full of grass hay, Ultium and whatever it takes to pack on some lbs.

Simon the pasture puff. Still sporting his off-the-track bod. The next few months will be full of grass hay, Ultium and whatever it takes to pack on some lbs.

 

Sterling’s Family Tree

I follow a few other horsey blogs and a couple of them have recently done posts about the pedigree of their Thoroughbreds. Namely; the $900 Facebook pony and Patently Bay. I grew up reading the Quarter Horse Journal from cover to cover every month. At that time I could probably tell you the 3 or 4 generation pedigree for any top 5 horse in the how events at any of the QH World Championship show classes (I knew nothing and wasn’t interested in the speed classes). The breeding didn’t entirely make the horse, but it was no accident that the vast majority of the top performers had very purposeful breeding and you had a pretty good idea what you were going to get if you sought certain bloodlines. You would still be hard pressed to find a cutting horse today that doesn’t go back to Doc Bar at some point in it’s lineage. The same is true of Impressive in halter horse lineage.

Now that I ride and show hunters it DRIVES ME CRAZY how little Americans pay attention to their horse’s lineage. Every single time I read a Chronicle of the Horse article about results from a top hunter show and the pedigree description is “Holsteiner of unrecorded breeding” I want to go find the person who registered the horse with the USEF and clobber them with the November issue of the Quarter Horse Journal (the fattest issue of the year, think September Vogue). We as horse owners have given the European importers all the power to know which bloodlines tend to perform best in which divisions. We just pay 5 to 6 figures for said horse and can brag that our horse was imported from Europe. American warmblood breeders have been and are working so hard to raise nice horses of European lineage that meet the demand of the domestic riders, but until owners care about where their horse came from those breeders are going to continue to have a very small audience of buyers until after the horses are 5 or 6 years old and “proven” in their performance records. I’m off my soap box now, at least for a while.

I bought Sterling, known by the Jockey Club as Queen’s Black Tie, as a yearling. I had never owned anything other than Quarter Horses and knew I wanted to jump so sought the “poor man’s” route to the hunter/jumper ring via the American Thoroughbred. I didn’t know TB lineage at all when I bought Sterling so paid less attention to his actual bloodlines and more attention just to the fact that he was registered. I’m not sure how purposeful was his origin as the woman I bought him from had bought the mare pregnant with intentions of breeding her to a paint stallion. She had no need for or interest in a thoroughbred gelding.

Little baby Sterling

Little baby Sterling

Sterling is by Emerald Affair and out of Lee’s Wind Walker. Emerald Affair is by Black Tie Affair, who was a pretty successful Irish horse. Emerald Affair himself only had 17 starts and is listed as a “Winner”, but a Google search doesn’t turn up a whole lot of information. It turn up this Thoroughbred Database forum that Sterling’s breeder posted a few months before I bought him. I’ve searched on USEF for horses with the same sire and the only one that comes up is Sterling. This tells me that any horse that did do any hunter/jumper stuff and was by Emerald Affair either wasn’t recorded with the USEF with their actual lineage or they only did lower level showing that doesn’t require registration with the USEF. It appears that he stood at stud as recently as 2013 at a farm called Camp Wanna Ride. Camp Wanna Ride, according to Yelp is closed. All in all, not a lot of info of the sire side other than Black Tie Affair.

Black Tie Affair. You can definitely see the resemblance!

Black Tie Affair. You can definitely see the resemblance!

Nothing much comes of researching Sterling’s dam side. Most things I find about Tormentoso are in Spanish. Maybe he has some polo ponies second cousins? Giboulee had 38 starts and was a G3 winner. It appears he sold for $3,000 as a yearling, so not a big dollar horse. I did find a photo of him, though!

Giboulee

Giboulee

Researching Sterling’s pedigree is generally maddening for me due to the lack of information on both sides of his family tree. Sterling is really quirky on the ground, but is a dream to ride. I would love to be able to talk to other people with similarly bred horses to see if they have a similar experience, but that seems nearly impossible. I may do similar posts for Jaguar and Coco, but they will come later. Although I could probably write about Jaguar’s pedigree in my sleep.

Farm Friday 09.09.2016

We had some AMAZING cool August weather, but alas it is hot again.

Early mornings make for great sunset viewing

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Kitties on a ’57 Chevy

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Lately Tarzan and Sabrina (we are probably keeping the mama foster kitty) have gotten on top of the barn a lot. Weirdos.

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Chivas and Charlotte in a rare moment of quiet and snuggling. Usually Charlotte is out and about.

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Coco after a ride. She’s at that stage where she knows what she should be doing, but is having moments of rebellion that are kind of annoying and kind of cute.

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Happy weekend y’all!

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