Archive of ‘The Horses’ category

Farm Friday 06.30.2017

It is the LAST day of June! How did that happen?! Summer appears to be here for good for a few months. It isn’t blistering hot just yet, but it is quite warm. Boot City and I are taking some time over the next few days to do some pretty major farm improvements. Hopefully some will be blog worthy!

This is what Dickens thinks of mornings when he doesn’t get to go outside.

 

Harriet is right in the middle of her heartworm treatment. She is handling it like a champ. Dogs who are having the fast-kill treatment have to stay calm and quiet to avoid getting their heart pumping too hard. As the worms in their heart die, they get pushed out into the bloodstream and if the heart gets to beating too quickly it can kill the dog if a worm gets lodged in just the wrong place. It appears that Harriet gets this and when she is allowed to come outside she is very docile. She doesn’t run and play with Dragon and Dickens like usual. She may feel a little under the weather, but she seems more like she just knows she needs to mind her p’s and q’s. She is a wonderful little dog!

The dogs LOVE to eat my horses’ Muenster Milestone feed. They like it so much they get in empty bags just to lick the bag. Weirdos.

 

We got some good rain last weekend and early this week. We had been a few inches behind average at the start of June, but according to my Farmlogs app we are pretty much caught up to average.

For a little while this was a FULL rainbow. I never tire of seeing rainbows, they are such happy things.

 

Since all my riding horses are pretty much lame except for Coco, she has been getting LOTS of rides lately! It is really paying off and she has made a ton of improvement in the past few months.  Fingers crossed she will be ready to do a real course at a real show by the end of the year with lead changes and everything!

She does make happy faces, too! I think she enjoys her job and hanging out with me. She definitely LOVES her some treats!

 

Dragon and Dickens are both sighthounds, which means they are bred to hunt by sight. This instinct is much stronger in Dragon than in Dickens, but he certainly joins in when she goes on the chase. Lately they have been chasing the cat, which means the cat has been actively avoiding coming in the house or being around the house in general. We lost Tarzan and Marby last year so it makes us very sad that Sabrina doesn’t feel safe in the house. I don’t think the dogs would hurt her, but it isn’t fun getting chased every day. She disappeared for a day or two and we worried the worst had happened.

She showed back up in Boot City’s shop and it appears that she may becoming a shop kitty! We have moved her kitty food to the shop and Boot City has made a bed for her. Hopefully she will feel safer there and stick around. We love our Sabrina! Plus this might keep her away from the busy highway which is where the other two cats met their demise.

 

Do you have fun weekend plans? I’m sure lots of people are going on trips for a long weekend since the holiday is Tuesday. Be safe and have fun!

Coco Under Saddle for a Whole YEAR!

It is kind of crazy to think that I’ve been riding Coco for a whole year! In many aspects she should be further along in her education, but I always want to take it slowly with my young horses and let them tell me when they are ready to try harder things.

Looking, looking, always looking. You never know when a dog or a goat may come out of nowhere to eat you. Dried up brush is also very deadly.

She can officially walk, trot and canter on purpose. She mostly knows which lead I’m asking for at the canter, but we have done anything crazy like counter canter just yet. She moves off leg pressure when she feels like it. When she is focused on the killer dogs/goats/brush she will purposely ignore my aids. Maybe this is a “mare” thing or a just a “Coco” thing? She isn’t spooky when she’s away from home nearly like she is at home, which I hope is good in the long run.

Selfies while riding are hard.

My goal for her this year is to be working on flying lead changes by the fall. Once she has a lead change we will start dabbling in schooling shows. I’m hoping to take her to a couple more summer shows to do some hack classes and just get her out and about. Showing a young horse in the blistering heat of the summer can be advantageous for preventing shenanigans that cooler weather might perpetuate! I might take her on some trail rides with my foxhunting group this summer, but I’m kind of on the fence about those with her. I should probably take Simon so he is a bit more ready come hunt season.

She really is fun to ride. We have popped over a few small crossrail jumps and her talent is quite evident. Going straight is a bit of an issue, but we will start working on some cavalletti gymnastics and continue with dressage lessons to work on those skills. I have high hopes for Miss Coco Chanel!

She makes this face a lot. In her mind there is just no reason that humans aren’t perpetual treat dispensers and she’s pretty put out when that doesn’t happen!

Poor Broken Sterling

On Memorial Day Sterling surprised me with this:

It is kind of a long video with cheesy music, but you get the drift. At first I was terrified that it was something neurological. He wouldn’t walk straight and seemed a bit drunk. It wasn’t until I got him in his stall and ran my hands all over him that I found this:

Super, duper, giant fat stifle.

I texted the video to my vet and my trainer and both agreed (independently) that Sterling had most likely gotten kicked HARD in his stifle. Trainer recommended DMSO on it and vet recommended DMSO plus hydrotherapy twice a day as well as stall rest. Blargh. I was relieved to at least find an injury rather than something disease related.

Thankfully we have a well, otherwise this would be one expensive water bill!

Well, after a couple weeks of DMSO, hydrotherapy and stall rest the swelling just wasn’t going down so the vet came by this week to look at it and devise a plan. After looking it over he offered two options. Option 1 we could either put him back in work (he isn’t visibly lame anymore) and see if it goes down, but the risk there is that the swelling actually gets worse and results in permanent fluid build up on his stifle. Not very desirable. Option 2 was to lance the swelling and drain it. Gross, but probably better to get rid of the fluid. We went with Option 2. Sadly I don’t have any media from the lancing and draining, but suffice it to say it was gross. A mix of pale yellow liquid and blood. I hope you aren’t eating when you read this! Sterling was sedated and the area was numbed for the procedure so it went easily. Of course this is when Vet advised that I’m going to have to continue hydrotherapy AND try to squeeze fluid out of the newly cut hole for as long as the hole remains open. Sweet, and I don’t get the advantage of sedative and numbing.

More hydrotherapy after the stifle was lanced and drained. I bet half a gallon of liquid came out. Ew.

Vet advised that we may need to lance and drain it again after a few days. We are on Day 3 of hydrotherapy followed by squeezing the area to get fluid out. I enlist Boot City to help when he’s around since he has much stronger hands and Sterling can be a handful for stuff like this. I can’t imagine it feels good to have someone trying to squeeze a bunch of fluid out of a hole in your leg that is trying to heal. There seems to be a new spot with a smaller buildup up fluid, but overall the swelling has gone down. Sterling is mostly just angry that he’s on stall rest again and cries for his friends when they get turned out. Hopefully this works and we will be back to riding by early July.

Go McCraken!

I couldn’t for the life of me find a live feed Saturday night, but I can tell you that McCraken won his first race back since the Kentucky Derby!

The very official proof of McCraken’s win. A screenshot from my iCellular of the Churchill Downs website.

The Paulick Report did a nice write-up about the race. You can click on the link to read all about it, but in a nutshell McCraken started somewhat poorly, held steady then zoomed up to win!

The jockey was Brian Hernandez,Jr. who also rode him the Kentucky Derby.

Since he started at the back of the field, he got pretty dirty!

 

McCraken is by the same sire as Simon; Ghostzapper. I did a pedigree post a while back about Simon.You can read more here.

I think they look alike in the eye. I haven’t studied McCraken’s conformation so can’t really comment on their similarities there, but he is definitely MUCH faster than Simon!

Handsome McCraken.

 

Handsome, and very LAZY, Simon.

 

The same day McCraken won the Matt Winn, I had to ride Simon with a dressage whip just to get him to trot! Just because they are bred to run, doesn’t necessarily mean they want to run! But we sure are enjoying cheering for Simon’s brother, literally from another mother!

Farm Friday 06.09.2017

When I woke up this morning I was pretty sure someone outside was flipping a light switch off and on. In reality, it was Mother Nature. I check the weather pretty religiously and I’m confident there were slim to no chances for storms today. Alas, by the time I was finishing up feeding the horses it was POURING rain! We are still a few inches behind average rainfall, so I’ll take it!

This was Pablo’s feed pan when I got home from a work trip last Friday. It rained over 3.5″ that day!

 

This is what happens when you forget to latch Sterling’s stall and he’s in the barn all day on stall rest. Oopsy! Pic cred to Boot City

 

How many hens can you find in this photo? They are ALL broody and stay in this position, more or less, 24/7. Chicken ridiculousness.

 

These two are goat brothers. I think it is so cute they are the same color! The little guy is for sale if you are in the market for a baby goat.

 

One of our adorbs foster kittens. They go to the Humane Society of North Texas this weekend and will be available for adoption! Get you a kitty!

I Love Horses

My name is Tara and I love horses. Supposedly that is the first step to recovery, right?! I can’t imagine my life without these divine creatures playing a major role and am so grateful I have the means and the support of Boot City to have them. People often compare the hobby of horseback riding to playing sports or golfing or other “similar” activities, but there is one glaring difference. If you own or lease a horse you are responsible for the care and well being of an 800+ pound animal 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year. It is kind of like marriage; you take a vow to care for them in sickness and in health.

So far 2017 has had it’s fair share of “sickness”, mostly in the form of injuries. Right, Sterling?

We like to selfie while on stall rest. Again.

Simon tried to pull his hoof off of his leg this spring, but miraculously was never lame. The injury looked really bad and made me kind of nervous so I haven’t been riding him. I want to let the hoof grow out more and he is really just a baby so the time off is fine.

Simon trying on a hunt bridle to prepare for what we hope will be his future career!

Jaguar is kicking it retirement-style. His hurt leg is noticeably off, but he’s happy as a clam out in his pasture with his buddies. He even trots and canters sometimes! I thought he’d be annoyed at being retired, but he’s taken to it pretty well. He still bosses everyone around, including the neighbor horses.

The handsomest 24 year old, grandson of Doc Bar, past AQHYA World Championship qualifying reiner, retired fox hunter, there ever was!

Coco (so far) is one of my “in health” horses currently. She has had PLENTY of “in sickness” over the past few years so she deserves it! We will make our way to a few more horse shows this summer as Sterling convalesces. Miles, miles and more miles are my goals for Coco this year.

Hanging out in her giant stall at the horse show. My favorite thing about Texas Rose Horse Park are the huge permanent stalls. It is so nice for the bigger hunter/jumper horses to not be stuck is some tiny 10×10 or even 12×12.

Last, but certainly not least, Casey has been the VERY best step-in hunt/whipper-in horse I could have asked for! He was a perfect gentleman all hunt season, enjoyed a few trail rides and now is FOR SALE! The plan had been to take him back to Montana, but Mom thinks it would be best for him to stay in Texas and have a busier job with someone who will appreciate him. Casey is one of those horses that you can truly grab out of the pasture, jump on and go and there is no drama. I know because we did just that 2 weekends ago. He hadn’t been ridden since March and I hopped on (with no lunge) and he trotted and cantered around like he was ridden yesterday. And he’s only FIVE! He’s got SO MANY great years ahead of him! So, you should buy him, or at least tell your friends to buy him. For reals.

Poor Casey’s biological clock stayed on Montana seasons so he didn’t start shedding his winter coat until JUNE! When he would get hot and it was wet, well, he would roll in the mud to cool off.

No, horses are not just a “hobby”. I can’t put them in a closet and forget about them until the next time I want to “play”. They are my lifestyle and I love every second!

Coco Chanel Goes to a Horse Show

I have very little media documenting the momentous occasion, but Coco went to her first horse show last weekend and she was SO good! We Horsepooled with my horsey bestie so got to the show grounds (Texas Rose Horse Park near Tyler, Texas) around noon on Friday. We weren’t showing until Saturday, so it was nice to have plenty of time to see what kind of horse I had on my hands.

The impetus for this occasion was Sterling’s quarter crack lameness after I had already committed to my barn that I was going to the horse show. I texted Trainer and asked what she thought about taking Coco. Coco is by no means ready to jump a course, but it would be great to get her out and about and see how she is amidst the chaos of a horse show. Trainer loved the idea and was excited to finally lay eyes on Coco.

The horses settled in easily and Coco’s eyes were huge taking in all the sights and sounds.

Getting to know the neighbor horses. There was little to no squealing.

After settling in her stall for a couple hours I walked her around the show grounds and in the ring where we would show. She was a bit bug eyed, but not crazy and not spooky. We tacked up and headed to our show ring for a hack and she was super star! The only thing she kind of spooked at was a rail on the ground and some of the fill from the jumps that were taken apart. Trainer was very pleased with her temperament and optimistic about her future. I was, of course, elated.

I lunged and hacked her early Saturday morning to again see what kind of horse I had for the day. She was much the same, looking around but not crazy. We got her rinsed off and primped, ready to be a princess in the horse show. Our classes went around 10a. I made the mistake of riding her in the big hunter warmup ring before our class and she got a little jazzed by the traffic, so we went down and just walked around in the grass by our ring. Our first class had 5 entries (including us) which was a nice size. Enough horses to see how she would do in traffic, but not so many that she should get crowded or have to maneuver too much traffic. We got cut off once and she broke gait in the first class, but she got all her transitions, all her leads and couldn’t care less about the traffic. Yay! We got fifth out of five, but I still consider it a win because she did so well.

We stayed in the ring for our next hack class which only had four entries and it was much the same. We broke gait in front of the judge so I knew we weren’t going to place, but she was really really good. Happy to be there, not spooky, didn’t care about the other horses.

Pretty princess didn’t want to stand still for her photo op, so this is the proof she went to a horse show!

We were entered in a couple other hacks in the afternoon, but one had 9 entries which seemed like it would be pressing our luck and when we went to the ring to show in our final hack of the day she seemed like she was on the verge of brain fry, so we untacked and went for a lunge instead. We didn’t have any classes on Sunday so I lunged her early in the morning and took her for another hack in the Indoor. We were fortunate and no one was in there with us for about 20 minutes. After a few more horses showed up to lunge we went for a walk around the show grounds. It was stormy, thundering and had rained quite a bit, which often causes horses to act a little crazy. Coco took it all in stride easily. She marched right through the mud puddles, was unfazed by the sloppy ring and seemed to thoroughly enjoy being out and about.

The prettiest Coco Chanel.

I’m thrilled with how our weekend went and can’t wait for more horse shows with Coco! I was planning to take Sterling to show in Waco in June, but he has yet another major injury (more on this later) and will likely be out for most of the first half of the summer. With this turn of events Coco may get to go to another show to hang out and do a couple hack classes. Miles are good!

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!

Farm Friday 05.19.2017

The wind huffed and puffed and tried to blow our house down last night! Thankfully it appears that the only damage incurred was a few branches strewn about and a tarp that tried to blow away. The power was out for a few hours, but came on just as I left for work. Yay for the house and tack room having AC today!

 

We need to name this goat. He’s a whether and is pretty silly. He enjoys helping unload hay.

 

I built my cinder block container gardens a few years ago. We usually grow some squash or some onions or whatever, but since we started doing Blue Apron a couple years ago we don’t really need to grow our own stuff. When I was outside last weekend I saw a hummingbird and it motivated me to plant some flowers. I snagged these at the feed store on Sunday. The donkey has eaten a few of the pink flowers, but the chickens have left them alone. The taller pink and orange ones are Lantana and should get pretty big. If they live, that is.

 

Simon has the prettiest face. Such a sweet boy.

 

The horses are always curious when we put out the hammock. They walk by and pretend like they aren’t staring at it and somewhat terrified.

 

Happy weekend! Do you have any fun plans? I have my fingers, toes, legs, arms and whatever other appendage will cross crossed in hopes of RAIN! It is much too dry right now.

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?

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