Tuesday, April 30, 2013

So Far, So Good

Tucker Update

Tucker stayed in his stall all day yesterday. Just fine as it was a bit rainy and cold.

I did take him out twice to lunge him, once for a walk, and once for a 5 minute graze on the lawn.  I also hand fed him a little grass as I did not give him any feed or hay for the bulk of the day.

Manure did show up in the stall by morning, with some more during the day. It looked fine, but I would have been happier with more. Then again, since he hadn't eaten since some time on Sunday, it's hard to say how much there should have been.

I gave him a small flake of hay at dinner time and a small handful of grain. Then at late feed I gave him another very small flake of hay and an few hay pellets. This morning, I made a wet slop of some grain and hay cubes--small amount and by around 11 AM or so, when I saw several more piles of poo, I turned him out.

He and the other two Boys were quite delighted with that and were frolicking about.  That entertained my two friends who stopped over to get some manure for their gardens.

So far, so good. Hopefully whatever triggered the colic was a freak thing. Hopefully as well, Tucker is fully recovered.

I did pick up a bag of bran, so I will be giving everyone a nice bran mash tonight. I was a little concerned that Tucker did not seem to drink much, if any water while he was in his stall, but he was having a nice drink from the outside water trough when I was leaving to go to the feed store.

Fingers crossed all is well at Follywoods.

Monday, April 29, 2013

4:30 AM And I Just Came Back in From the Barn

Tucker Colicked

I went out around midnight for late feed and Tucker did not come in.

I found him lying down in the paddock. He was not rolling, but was definitely not feeling well.

I got him up, walked him for about 20 minutes or so, then let him go free and down he went again.

I called the vet.

Replay Toby's colic post except that Tucker passed some very loose manure instead of a neat pile. Dr. Parisio was here in about an hour after I called.  She examined him and said he was very gassy.

We had to double tranquilize him to get the tube down so he could be dosed with water, mineral oil, electrolytes, and some psyllum...just in case he had ingested dirt/sand while foraging for grass.

He is currently in his stall with nothing to eat and I need to go out to check on him every two hours or so. I also need to get him out walking or lungeing at each interval.  Dr. Parisio is just a bit concerned that his manure was that loose, so I have to monitor him a little more than Toby needed.

Things took a bit longer because of the extra sedation Tucker needed. He is a big boy at about 17 hands, and while the extra dose kept him quiet for being tubed, it also took longer for him to recover. I'll be going back out at sunrise to have a look at him and take him out for another hike.

The vet said she'd already treated five other colics today, so who knows? Does the weather have any impact? I certainly don't have any lush grass here, but could some kind of weed be at play?  I am switching Tucker over from Healthy Edge to Hay Stretcher, but I've been gradually making the change since Thursday.   Considering that Hay Stretcher is really just hay pellets, it's not likely to be the problem. I added a handful of a vitamin supplement at dinner, but again, that was a minor change in feed. But you never know.

Either way, I'll be in and out of the house all day.

Of course, the weather forecast calls for rain all day today and tomorrow.

Guess my raincoats will come in useful.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cats and Rats and I Ride

This Time Tucker

I went to Home Depot to get the metal trash cans. Had to have one of the nice guys there help me pick out two. Not only were a lot of them dented, but they were stacked inside each other and stuck together. I used to be very independent about handing such issues, but I've learned to accept the help of store personnel of late. Age, wisdom, and common sense now prevail.

I thought to do the feed bin when I got home, but a good lunch and a short nap took me instead.

Now a word about cats and rats. I had only had one cat here bold and wise enough to tackle the Norway rats in the barn. They are tough critters and will definitely fight back. This cat was smart enough to kill the rat on first pounce instead of engaging in combat. She was a tough girl and the rats were nearly as big as she was. I'm not sure what gene has to kick in in a cat to inspire ratting. I suspect my Caliope might have had it as she was darn feisty and would not tolerate much nonsense from the other cats. Misty MAY be a candidate, but I'm not too sure as she really does have a laid back attitude. Ratters are special cats, I fear, and not all cats seem to have the attitude.

So, the metal cans will keep the rodents at bay and as long as they don't bother me, I'll coexist with them. My neighbor did offer me a Jack Russell terrier, but a dog requires a lot more care and attention than cats. I like dogs, but don't want the added responsibility.

Which somehow brings me to Tucker who is neither rat nor dog. In fact, aside from tending to work on his forehand he was quite a good boy.  We did basic walk, trot, canter, shoulder-in, leg yield, and some half pass. I did several trot canter departs, doing a few more on the right rein as he gets a little cranky about that lead. Otherwise, all went well.

Since I am not really planning to compete him, mostly because the upper level work is too hard on his hocks, we are just kind of playing at dressage. I am going to try hacking him out on the trails if I can be sure we aren't going to run into any ATV's. I'd like to be fancy free with him as I am with Chance, but he is too much of a spitfire to do that. A bolder, younger rider than I would probably have a ton of fun on him out in the wilds, but I am no longer a bolder, younger rider.

We'll just have to invent some fun stuff to do closer to home.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

And I Ride!


The weather was miserable for two days, either windy and cold, or rainy and cold. Today was gorgeous!!

Dr. McAndrew was here this morning at 8 AM to do the final round of vaccinations. She also had the test results for Toby's Cushings and so far, with the lowest dose of medication, his levels are normal. Good deal. We discussed some diet changes for tubby Tucker and tubby Chance. (Tucker is not too bad, though.) I'd already cut them down to less than a third of what Toby gets, but we decided to change feed.

She suggested a hay stretcher instead of a fortified feed with a supplement called Enrich 32. It's a vitamin/mineral supplement designed specifically for horses on a hay only diet. Hay Stretcher is mostly a pelleted hay with minimal extras. It gives the horse something to munch on that's like a pelleted feed but without all the nutritional extras and fat. So I'll be gradually switching the two "live on air" Boys over to that with just a token handful of the regular feed to keep them happy while Toby chows down on the Healthy Edge--high fat, low carb.

Before I went to the feed store, I went to Motor Vehicle to renew my car and trailer registrations. Just my luck that nearly all the reps were on break at the same time so I had a bit of a wait, but I survived and the vehicles are legal again.

Then, it was off to the feed store to stock up. I ate lunch when I got home and then headed out to ride somebody.

Chance was the only one who seemed interested. So I slipped the halter on him, led him in and started some work with the shedding blade. A hairy pile later and I finally saddled him up.

He was, as ever, a good, quiet ride. At the walk and trot, he generally goes down and round with a bit of work on my part. As I've said before, if I ride him regularly, he will be in a nice little dressage frame in a couple weeks. But today, after having been off from school for so long, he was there about 70% of the time.

I did a lot of trot circles, working a little more on the right rein than the left. I found myself incorrectly using my right leg on the circle, and focused on correcting my position to keep Chance from falling in on his shoulder and it worked a treat. I did have to reinforce things now and again by putting the dressage whip on his shoulder in front of the saddle, but all in all we accomplished a lot.

I did some canter work as well--Chance's favored gait--but we lost the plot a few times when he broke. Again, it was mostly my fault since he'd break gait when he lost the roundness or the bend. As long as I concentrated on keeping his body in a working frame, he kept the canter. One more thing to work on.

I rode all told for just over twenty minutes. It was a good session.

I cleaned Tucker's feet and put in the thrush medication. Then I gave him a groom, adding to the pile of horse hair on the floor. This time, I left Toby alone, mostly because all he really wanted was dinner.

Done with that, I partially unloaded the truck, but left about 5 bags of feed in there. I need another pair of storage garbage cans in the barn as the plastic feed bin has now been chewed by the rat family. It had a good long life, but its time has come.

Guess I'm due for a trip to Home Depot for some cans.

I can always find a way to spend money. *sigh*

Sunday, April 21, 2013

All Ready

Now I Just Need to Saddle Up

I lunged the Boys again, and this time sent them over a little jump just to make it more fun.

Tucker, in true TB style started off quietly with a lovely jump, but by the end of the session, was in "gallop madly, think of bucking, and leap wildly over the rail."  It was relatively easy to settle him back down to end the exercise on a quieter note, but it just goes to accent the fact that lungeing does little to take the spunk out of him.

Chance, on the other hand, simply jumped each time with a calm nonchalance.  The big trick with him is to keep him cantering after the fence. He tends to land and trot off. But, I have to say, he was much better this time. He looks to have a nice jump in him so maybe one day I will challenge him with a little more height just to see how he takes to it. Right now, the obstacle is only about a foot. Jumping is good exercise for dressage horses, even if it is just on the lunge line.

We had a bit of rain on Friday, so I dragged the arena yesterday. I have to be better about it this year than I was last year to keep the weeds and grass from growing in my footing.

Then, I started cleaning out under the east run in roof where Toby's and Tucker's stalls open out.  They have, once again, over the winter dragged lots of hay out there. It is lying in wet, soggy layers. The tractor bale will scrape up the layers down to the ground, but without a proper set of "fork teeth" on the front, it does not do a good job of picking up the stuff. So, I need to use my hay/manure fork to fill the bucket.  It's a rather hard job so I decided to be smart this time and do it in stages. I used the tractor yesterday and the wheelbarrow today and have only cleaned the area immediately in front of Tucker's stall--about 10 feet or so.  At this rate, I'll be done by the end of the week. Then  I just have to discipline myself to keep after it before it gets this bad. (Note: the wet, muddy and sometimes frozen winter made it hard to keep up with it, so it's pretty bad right now.)

My plan is to ride someone tomorrow.

Meantime, the flowers are truly in bloom now. Looking out my living room side window, the scenery is filled with the pink blossoms of my Aunt's magnolia. My front window view is filled with the pink of my magnolia. And my, do they smell good!

The tulips in front of the house have finally opened up.

 The magnolias fill the air with sweet scent.
 Close up, the blossoms are already starting to lose their petals. Wish they would stay longer.
 Snoopervisor Patrick found my trip outside very interesting.
But he was still ready to pose for a picture through the front door window looking as cute as possible. He is quite a charmer. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda....

But I Didn't Ride

Thought I might ride after church and lunch, but my right knee was really hurting today. Not sure why. I know the swimming helped which means riding probably will too, but not today.  Hopefully the rest of the week will bring some more nice weather and I will be inspired. And I'll get another swim in, in the meantime.

Though I did not find a new "blue mouser" as noted yesterday. The mice I did find eventually struck a high note with Patrick and he is back in fetch mode. However, out of the packet of four new various colored plush mice, three are now lost somewhere. I am sure they will turn up sooner or later, but for now, when the basic game of fetch is over, I need to take away the mouser of choice and put it in a safe place for later. I did buy two packs of them, so I have extras, but still....Guess I should have bought a dozen more. *G*

I warmed up again today but with a fairly stiff breeze for most of the day. The Boys are sheetless again, and may not need rainwear until later in the week.  The sheets I washed are hanging to dry in the basement.  I did my best to clean the horse hair out of the washing machine tub, but I suspect my next load will be a bit prickly. However, if I put the clothes in the dryer afterwards, that should get rid of most of the hair. I'll just have to be careful that I don't wash too much delicate stuff right away.

Meanwhile Spring is making its mark. Progress on all fronts with the blossoms, except for the tulips which are still being quite shy.
 Little grape hyacinths.
 The maple tree starting to leave. Well, it stays, but it gets leaves.
 The magnolia almost in full bloom
 Forsythia brightening the scene.
The lilacs getting leaves as well and hinting of blooms to come
And the best blossom of all, Chance enjoying the sunshine.
Cute pony. *G*

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Shoeing in the Near Sunshine

Well, At Least It Wasn't Raining

Scott came this morning to shoe and trim the Boys.

It was supposed to be nearly 60F, but the sun refused to make an appearance all morning and I had to go back into the house to get my jacket.

All three Boys were quite good. With Tucker getting a compliment from Scott, that was a rare moment. Tucker wears shoes in the front only and the other two are barefoot, so he requires the most patience. Today, he was a star. He just gets restless and tends to move himself sideways on the crossties. Not so today. Good boy.

A word here. I do not have to hold my horses for the farrier. They all stand on the crossties in the aisle and are expected to behave without my involvement. That way, I do not have to be home should Scott schedule a shoeing when I can't be there.

Sorry to say, I too have to deal with some thrush issues. It's been so wet and muddy here for the last several months that Tucker, especially will need some treatment. No huge deal, but I have the meds and will just need to tend to him and take some similar precautions with the others as well.

Yesterday, Dr. McAndrews recommended that we shoe Toby in front for the summer. He has foundered twice in the mid-summer months when the ground has been hard. He has a great foot, but it's a little flat, so adding some protection from a shoe may help. Stomping at flies may be an added culprit.

We know, of course, that he has Cushings, and laminitis is one of the unfortunate symptoms. He is on Prascend, the drug of choice and I had him tested yesterday to see if the dose he's on is enough. Hopefully we can avoid a flareup this year by being extra careful.

I went on a "blue mouser" hunt after Scott left. Patrick Patticats has a blue mouse toy he plays fetch with and we have lost it somewhere in the house. I've hunted all around with no luck so I figured maybe I could find a new one at PetSmart. I found some packages of similar toy mice on sale, so I bought them.

Alas, so far, although he does chase them when I throw them, so far, Patrick has not exactly fetched one back to me. We'll keep working on it, though. I am ever hopeful. It guess they just aren't quite up to "blue mouser" standards.

Animals can be as opinionated as people.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Shiver Me Timbers

Vet Visit in the Rain

It turned colder, windier, and decidedly wetter last night. I'd put the Boy's sheets in the washer and they were not dry yet, so I had to resort to some other option--somewhat raggedly rain sheets out of my collection of abused horse clothing.

Fortunately I managed to find three suitable ones, taped in places with duct tape, but largely in one piece.

Good thing. By morning it was utterly miserable out there.

Now, just to make you all envious, my vet appointment was for 10:15 AM.  At almost exactly 10:15 AM the vet truck was pulled up to the barn and Dr. McAndrews started getting out here equipment.

In short order, we began working on the horses. Chance was first up, dosed with tranquilizer for his teeth floating, and vaccinated for flu and rabies. We drew a Coggins on him as well, and rigged him up for his floating. He was an exceedingly good boy and just needed a basic float with no specific issues. Dr. McAndrews finished up by cleaning his sheath and then giving him a strangles vaccine in his nose.

Tucker was next. For all the basics, he was a star, but for the floating, he did try a few annoying head bobs when she examined him . Strangely enough, when she started the actual floating--she uses an electric grinder, he was quite settled and almost seemed to enjoy it. He does have a cracked tooth, but it doesn't need any special treatment right now. He needed some hooks filed off in the back and his front incisors are strangely more worn on the right than the left, so she evened them up a bit. Once again, sheath and strangles vaccine and he was done.

Same procedure of Toby who was, as usual a perfect gentleman. He did not need a full float as his teeth were in really good shape--except for the front incisors which are worn down from all his cribbing.

We took a blood test for Toby's Cushings and poo samples for worming. Chance was rather naughty about that as he'd not dropped any manure in his stall, so Dr. McAndrews had to extract some. Chance took exception to the procedure and had to have a chain over his gums to settle him down. He gets scared of things and then tries to barge over whoever is handling him--in this case me. I suspect I need to spend some time making him a little more respectful in hand, so I will work on that as the season progresses.

All in all, it was a good, if not long morning as the work was not done until a bit after 1 PM.

I left all three Boys in for another hour or so until I was sure the tranquilizers had worn off.  They are back out now, but spending most of the time hanging out in their stalls eating hay--well Toby and Tucker are in one stall and Chance is nibbling hay at Tucker's door.

Dr. McAndrews will be back in two weeks to finish up the rest of the vaccines and discuss the test results for my worming program and Toby's Cushings.

It is so cold and miserable out there I don't even want to go back out to feed later. But, as we all know, no matter the weather, horses need to be cared for.

I will add a carrot to everyone's feed for being such good boys.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Little Bit of Lunge

And So It Begins

Spring is still here, although it rained a lot last night. The arena had some puddles and I
need to drag it--after another poo picking--but it was serviceable.

I opted for lungeing Tucker and Chance instead of riding, considering how long it's been since I've been in the saddle.  It's only fair.

Tucker proved his Thoroughbred heritage. As one of my trainers noted years ago, lunging does not necessarily settle a TB down. He wasn't naughty, it's just that the longer I lunged him the more energetic he became.

His first canter on the left lead went into "auto pilot."  Toby does this all the time. I guess because TB's were bred to gallop, it's particularly easy for them. When I asked Tucker to transition back to trot, he just kept on cantering. I didn't make a big thing of it, but just kept making the lunging circle smaller. It wasn't until we were at nearly six meters that he decided perhaps the trot would be a good idea.

The same thing happened on the right lead, although he did get a lot faster as he cantered along, thinking perhaps of a buck or two just to entertain me.  I did get the trot from him sooner, but again, he really didn't want to stop.

Then I worked him on leading just a bit to refresh his memory of his manners--something Tucker needs at regular intervals.

Chance was a different story altogether. He is a slow motion video.  He wasn't too bad at the trot once I got him going a bit forward, but I wouldn't say he was putting too much effort into it.

Then, I asked for canter. How slowly can a horse canter and still stay at 3 beat? Get him to drop his head a bit, throw on a western saddle, and we're ready for a pleasure class. *G*

Needless to say, after two or three slowbeat circles around me, I encouraged some more effort and, although he still was not fully engaged nor offering great impulsion, we had nice honest canter on both leads.

Carrots all around and some good stall cleaning finished up the work for the day.

The vet is coming tomorrow for teeth and spring vaccinations, round #1.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Has Spring Finally Sprung?

Warming Up

Forecast for the next week is really promising with warm temperatures day and night.

That means the Boys can have their sheets off and I don't have to put them back on at night.

I do have some subbing jobs during the week, so time riding is limited, but I will get some swimming in to start myself back on a fitness routine. I am sadly out of shape.

So are the Boys, but not so. With 24/7 turnout, they do walk around a lot and there is plenty of horseplay going on. It's not quite the same as exercise under saddle, but it does keep them fitter than I am.

I am constantly watchful for the crocus that seem to pop up in various parts of the lawn--perhaps planted by squirrels? And am looking forward to the various flowering trees.

Here's the progress so far:

 Crocuses by the well.
 Snowflowers by the front paddock.
 The peonies are starting to grow.
 The lilacs are considering some leaves.
 A droopy daffodil blooms by the back porch.
The magnolia promises to open soon.
And the tulips are "thinking about it."

I don't have any really organized flower beds. Everything is sparse and helter skelter at the moment. My Dad was a super gardener, but I did not inherit his skill. I may do some planting just to see what I can manage, but for now, I do enjoy the scavenger hunt for color amidst the landscape.

Sunny days are on the way!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Fickle April

Still Not Riding

But, I am thinking about it.  My right knee is giving me some problems. I went to the doctor who said it's likely that something in the new components is pinching a little. Aside from scoping the knee-surgery--there's not much to do but wait it out. It is getting better so I am optimistic it will clear up.

Of course, if I were doing some worthwhile exercise, it might make a difference.

Riding is the exercise of choice, but the weather just can't seem to decide if it's really spring yet. We had a few nice days to tantalize us, and then it turned windy and cold again. It's not "knock your socks off " cold, but enough to put me off.

I did make a move in the right direction by poo picking the arena and I'll do that again in a day or so. After which I will drag the surface. Perhaps that will swing the tables of motivation in the right direction.

The amusing part of the poo picking was the Boys's efforts to "help" me. That consisted of each of them, at one time or another, standing nearly on top of me with his nose in my arm, completely blocking my efforts to scoop up the manure. I suspect the pockets of my sweatshirt smelled of horse treats, but I would rather like to think it was their attempt to show affection. Either way, I once again discovered that my horses just do not "shoo" away no matter how hard I flap my arms at them. They just stand there looking at me as if I've gone stark raving mad.

"Hey, Toby," Tucker says, "She's trying to fly again."

Toby replies, "Yeah, well, if she's gonna get off the ground, she's gonna have to lose some weight."

"Yeah, tell me about it," Chance says.

Well, OK. I just bought a new blender. I'm going to try to make some fruit smoothies. That'll show 'em.

I also intend to start up my swimming again. When hurricane Sandy hit, it threw everything off and I stopped going to the pool. Then, I was substitute teaching a lot and the pool was not open at any hours when I could use it.  I'm pretty sure it's back open after school hours again, so when I go in to teach--which I will next week--I can start to swim again.

On the home front, I have not been a total slug.  The local farm market and farm has an educational tour program for elementary students. The manager--a fellow teacher--asked me to design a packet of worksheets and activities for students and teachers to use in the classroom after the tour.  I've spent quite a bit of time creating the materials and I'm really happy with the results.  I hope they work out well.

And, I've taught Patrick O'Patticats how to play fetch! He was very possessively playing with a little stuffed mouse last night. This afternoon, when he started playing with it again, I took it from him and threw it down the hall. He chased after it and played with in the hallway. Eventually, he brought it back into the living room and when he did, I took it again and threw it. It did not take him long to figure out that if he brought the mouse back into the living room I would throw it again from him to chase.

He's not quite mastered actually bringing the mouse directly to me yet, but that will come. I am hoping I can get him to fetch something that bounces a bit more, such as a soft foam rubber ball, but for now, the mouse is just fine. He is a clever little fellow to figure all this out so quickly---or I am a fast learner myself. *G*

Cocopuff needs a bit of "rehab hugging" as she keeps running from me when I reach out to pet her. I am sure it's all related to my carting her off to be spayed. She was sore for quite a few days afterwards and lost some of her social connection to me. But I've won over every other cat I've owned, so  her "huggification" remedial work should be easy.

I have a lot to do!