Sunday, November 30, 2014

Weather This or Whether That

Will It Ever Make Up Its Mind?

The Boys are naked again. The temperature was up into the 50'sF today and will be again tomorrow. Some time early this morning, another weather front came through to chase out the frigid Arctic air to replace it with warmer breezes.

Times like this, it's good the Boys are in the back yard. I can go out and change their outfits almost at will.

If you are like many of the horsemen I know, you too keep a sharp eye on the weather forecasts. I have to admit, during the past ten years or less, they have been better and better at making accurate predictions.

Gone are the days of the TV weatherman with his little barometer and flow chart guessing what the next day would bring. Now he's backed up by hundreds of sophisticated instruments, satellites, and computer models all destined to predict exactly what the next day's temperatures will be within one degree.

Well, sort of.

Mother Nature has a way of fooling even the wisest computer, it seems. A storm was coming up along the East Coast, ready to knock out Thanksgiving travel all along the NY metropolitan area. We were all braced and ready, our eyes riveted to one weather map after another.

The dire predictions for my area never came true. By the day of "The Storm" we had fizzled down to a wet, soggy dusting of snow determined to make mud of every square inch of bare ground.  As glad as I was of missing "the Big One,"  the sopping ground and muddy pits certainly made another kind of mess of things.

I am putting ex fence rails out for wheelbarrow ramps so I can wheel the stall cleanings out to the manure pile without getting stuck. It's great fun trying to keep the wheel on an eight inch wide ramp while slipping and sliding off it myself.

But the guardian of the weather did not leave us there. Oh, no. Thanksgiving night, she dropped the temperatures well below freezing just for the fun of it. I had to give my new car's defroster a thorough workout just to clear enough frost/ice off my windshield so I could drive the hours home from my friend's wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner party.

Bitter chill wind and cold air tormented me for the next two days until today...when the new pattern arrived.

I am giving the Boys hot mash feed every night. Just adding hot water to their pelleted feed. Toby, in particular seems to really enjoy it. At least it gets a little extra water into them and makes me feel as if I've warmed them up a bit.

Meantime, I just keep an eye on the weather, wondering what tomorrow will bring.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Boys on the Loose

Whither Doth Thou Wander?

I went out to feed the Boys this morning and....there were no Boys to feed.

I soon found a section of the back fence rails knocked down with tell tale hoof print next to it.  The only good thing was that this section opened into the woods, and it would be tricky for the Boys to get out to the road from there. The bad thing is that it is deer hunting season.

I hiked out to the woods at once. A hunter up in a tree blind called down to me to tell me the Boys had been by about a half hour before. He'd called to them, they'd stopped and then taken off to the west.

Darn. It would have been better if they'd headed the other way out to the fields instead of the deeper woods.

My grain bucket, lead ropes and halter hiked around out there for over an hour, looking for them. I called, rattled the bucket, and searched to no avail.

At that point I figured I might as well circle the 100+ acre cornfield, so I came back home to get the truck.  I propped open the back gate to the paddocks just in case the wayfarers decided to come home and drove off.

At the tree farm up the road, I met the caretaker working on pruning the Christmas trees. I told him of my mission, left my cell phone number and was on my way in four wheel drive around the field.

I was nearly back to the part of the trail that headed home when out of the woods Toby appeared. Chance was apparently in the lead and already seemed headed home. Tucker was still lurking in the trees. As soon as they saw me they stopped and, ever the suckers for a bucket of feed swarmed over to me. I decided to put the halter and lead on Tucker. I told Chance to go home and, good boy that he is, he took the lead. I followed leading Tucker, and Toby, the herd boss who never wants to be alone followed along behind.

Once I got them all settled and latched in their stalls with breakfast, hay, and water I hiked back out to get the truck.  Fortunately, it wasn't too far a walk. I drove back to the tree farm to tell Fred I'd found the Boys, called the farmer to let him know too, and came back home to fix the fence.

It wasn't the easiest job. There's a bit of a curve in the fencing at that spot and trying to get the slip rails back in place required more hands than I had. But I finally used some baling twine--akin to WD40 and duct tape a a life necessity--to hold the end of the rail up while I pounded the other end to get it set back in place. Two slightly easier rails later, the escape route was closed.

I left the baling twine on the rails to help keep them secured.

So, no need to trail ride today. The Boys already had their outings and I had plenty of exercise myself.  (Still not quite ready to ride anyhow....)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Not the Best News I've Ever Had

The blood work on Toby and Chance came back today.

Toby's Cushings numbers are up. He's running around  ATCH 132 where normal is somewhere around 30.  I am not 100% sure had had his meds the morning the blood was taken, but even so, it would not make that much of a difference within an hour. Besides, he'd had it every other day prior to that, and 132 is pretty elevated.

I will be upping his dose of Pergolide from 1/2 tab a day to a full tablet.

Chance's bloodwork for Lyme disease returned a chronic infection count at 3350. Considering that prior to treatment with antibiotics his count was at 7301, the 50% drop is considered a success. Dr. Klayman said there was no need for further treatment and that the count was likely never going to be too much lower.

My research so far agrees.

With the cold weather the ground has frozen so I can't evaluate Chance's gait. He was having a little trouble in some areas of the paddock, but the ground was really lumpy.

This weather stinks. It is far too early to be this cold. My water hose is frozen and I need to get a new heater for the barn water trough. Of course, I will go buy one tomorrow, a then on Sunday it's going to be back up around 50F.

But we are blessed here. I guess most of you saw the pictures of the snow around Buffalo, New York.  Several hours from here, thank goodness.  My heart goes out to all the people drying to deal with it. Talk about overkill.

My acupuncturist used to live in Toronto, Canada and kind of shrugged. "We used to just dig a tunnel out of the house and go to school."  Oh, my. Even I have trouble imagining that.

Guess we must never underestimate the weather.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Temperature Drops

Arctic Air

It surely started to feel like winter yesterday as colder temperatures came in, pushed down from the North by that massive storm in the Pacific.

Last night, is also started to look like winter as the rain changed to snow in the early evening. I had choir rehearsal and afterwards, we went out for a bite to eat. My car windows were snowed over when we started to leave the restaurant.

I had neglected to put a snow scraper/brush in my new car, but my heroic choir buddies were better prepared and cleaned my windows for me. Sweet guys. I now have to remember to properly pack the car for the winter. I need gloves, the scraper brush, some waterproof boots, and a hat. I already have an extra coat just in case. A blanket is not a bad idea either. I should have done it today, but I got sidetracked working on one of the books.

I am trying to train myself to realize that when I sit for hours here at the computer working on the novel series that I am actually not wasting time. I am working.  The trouble is, there are also more active jobs I could or should be doing around the house and barn.

Taking care of the Boys is a no-brainer, no matter what else I might be doing. I feed my horses three times a day with both hay and grain. Yesterday, I stocked up on both, so I had some good exercise outdoors unloading. Today, since I was sunny--cold and sunny--I put the hay outside in piles. That keeps the interior of the barn cleaner.

Yet, the barn does need a good interior "purge."  I have a big pile of blankets and sheets on storage chests at one end of the aisle. Some of them need repair, some need cleaning, and some are lost causes. I need to sort out the lost causes and fix up the ones worth keeping. Well, I'll get around to it, sooner or later.

The Boys all had sheets on when it started to snow, so they were pretty dry. However, they were also standing outside instead of under any of the shed roofs.  I always have to remind myself that horses are not bothered by the weather as much as I am.

I did put their hay in the barn and I soaked their feed with hot water. That usually makes me feel better. An added benefit if the soaked feed is that Toby usually ended up eating it all up without cribbing in between bites when his feed is soaked.

When Dr. Klayman was here the other day to give fall shots, he said all the Boys were in good flesh for the winter. I, on the other hand, would like to see more weight on Toby. He has Cushings and it's hard to keep extra pounds on him. I'll start adding some oil to his meals to see if that helps.

Chance was decidedly lame when we lunged him. Dr. Klayman suggested putting him on Prevacox, but then had a second idea. Dechra Pharmaceuticals had given him a trial dose of Osphos, a new to the US drug used to treat navicular disease.  It's essentially, the same as the drug Tildren which has been used in Europe for some time.  Whether or not is works is hotly debated and you can find arguments on both sides all over the Internet.

Well, Chance is my vet's experimental horse. Apparently, it can take up to two months for there to be any obvious results.

We can wait. In the meantime, I am still on "stretch" program for myself and if I do get comfortable enough, I can still take Chance out on the trail for walks.

Once again, although I say it often, "Time will tell."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Slow Ride on a Fine Horse

Stretching Helps

It was a gorgeous day today so I spent some time outside.

My first order of business was to take a walk in the woods with my pruning saw. A tree branch had fallen across a critical part of the main trail and I intended to cut it out. Bless someone else because when I got there, the branch had been cleared. That meant the trail was open again for riding.

I walked the rest of the trail clearing as many other branches out of the way...mostly chunks of branches, and affirmed that the entire trail was rideable.

All I needed was to be able to ride.

When I got back home, I sat on my barrel and stretched my hip and thigh muscles. Then I decided it was worth it to see if I could sit on Chance.

The dear boy was right by the barn and quite pleased for me to take him inside for some special attention. The other two critters were in the front paddock area munching on some hay. I gave them each a small scoop of alfalfa cubes to keep them busy and saddled Chance up.

Well, mounting was no problem and when I eased myself into the saddle, I had some pain--mostly in my right hip...the one I did not break...and my left knee where the residual pain from the broken hip side seems to settle. Blessings be, I was able to sit and even use my legs to nudge Chance away from the gate to the woods trail--a location he was drawn to like super glue.

We took several short circuits around the arena at a walk. It was SOOOO much better than the last time I tried to ride.

I am encouraged at last. It's obvious I still need to do some more stretching and suppling but the progress I've made so far without a lot of serious, dedicated effort is heartening. That means if I just step it up a little and persist, all will be well.

Maybe by this time next week, I will be able to take the my fine boy Chance on a trail ride.

It's a goal, that's for sure.

Winter is A-Comin' In

Ahd Chance and Tucker are Frisky

At last Chance was frolicking. 

I know in the realm of horse worlds, this should not be a huge deal, but it's the first time I have actually seen Chance romping about since all his physical ailments. 

The Lyme disease slowed him down to a walk. Then, whatever foot soreness was plaguing him, gave him a limp. 

We put on bar shoes with wedge pads, and that helped. Then he lost a shoe and got sore. 

Since then, Scott reshod him and he still had  bit of a limp, although he was certainly cheerier. 

Yesterday, he and Tucker decided galloping about was fun and the two of them were ripping around the paddocks. Chance was decidedly taking the lead on the bucking, frolicking, kicking up his heels game, that's for sure. It was hard to tell how sound he was since he hardly ever trotted. But instead he was running full out and didn't stop when Tucker saw me coming out to the barn for dinner time. 

Now, mind you, Tuck is one of those horses I call a "stomach" horse, meaning he is highly motivated by food. Chance is not. While he likes his treats, he can be a bit slow about coming in for meals if he has something better to do. 

Apparently, cavorting was something better to do. 

Frankly, I was delighted. I haven't actually seen him having such an energetic good time in a long while. I'm sure it's not his first romp, but it's the first one I saw. 

It made me smile. 

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Starting a New Blog

Lucked out. The blog name was available, so I decided to start an exclusive blog for my novel series.  "The Saga of Magiskeep" now has a Blogger home. I already have a Facebook page and a Wix website set up, so this is the next thing I could think of.

I will still keep things posted here for those of you who read the horse stuff. I do hope to do some more over at the new blog. Nothing serious posted yet, but I will start putting up interesting tidbits and perhaps a some bits and pieces from the future novels.

I am also thinking I may write and exclusive story for readers there, but I haven't quite decided on that yet.

For now, it's a site to learn about my books and how I came to write them.

On the horsey front, Chance was pretty lame after walking around without one shoe for those three or so days before Scott came by to shoe him. He's looking better now, but I still haven't tried to either lunge or ride him.

After he was shod we had two really chilly and windy days. Then, yesterday was really nice and I just didn't do anything about it except sit on my barrel to stretch my muscles. Today it was cold and rainy. Yuck.

I always forget how much I hate the cold miserable weather of winter until it arrives again. I am clearly a summer person. And this summer was exceptional. Hot enough, often enough to swim, but not really that terrible heat and humidity New Jersey is famous for.

Now, it's gone. When it's cool and dry, it's really lovely, but the mud doesn't dry up very quickly. My arena is fine and I would suspect the trails will be too, but until I get my muscles stretched so my hips and thighs don't hurt, there is no way I can ride.

I'm thinking was I need to do is stretch first before I get on. If it clears up and the winds ease, I may try getting on Chance this week. Even if he has a limp, I can at least walk him a little in the arena.

This is truly strange for me. I've never had such a problem to deal with after a long layoff. This darn broken hip was far more serious than I expected. I think even when I get the muscles stretched I will still have some pain when I ride. Not sure at the moment that it will ever really go away.

But time will tell.  It's all an ongoing adventure.