Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Blankets ... should you, shouldn't you

A little miniature foal stands shivering in the spring rain, even with full shelter available. His winter coat is soaked through to the skin. This is what greeted me one evening after a day of teaching.

So shocked at the sight, I called out the vet worried that maybe he had worked up such sweat for some reason. Vet confirmed that he was just wet and that was why he was shivering. He temp was dropping though, so I had to dry him off and get him covered.

How had Sam's coat gotten soaked through? His friend was just fine. I have never seen another horse so completely soaked that had not been given a bath. Did some local kid pull a prank? Was there a downpour  that soaked him before could get into the shelter? Did he work up a sweat, either from running or a fever? None of those answers really sounds probable, and I never did figure out how Sam had gotten so wet. He did though and I was unprepared.

Miniatures were just gaining in popularity and blankets to fit them needed to be special ordered. I didn't have time, poor little Sam was cold now!

The local tack shop had limited choices for a miniature foal. Even foal blankets were a bit big for him but I found something that would work ... well enough. Sam recovered and I don't think I ever really needed to use that blanket again, but I had it.

When I first got into horse ownership, blanketing was just not a thing. Maybe stable blankets on stalled horses, but there were no turnout blankets available like there are today. The first real turnout blanket was the New Zealand Rug and it is positively primitive compared to what we have for horses today.

I am an au natural horse keeper. Horse should have forage free choice, live outside, not wear shoes, and not be blanketed. But, the experience with Sam taught me to be prepared.

So when I got Tank, I bought a light and medium weight blanket and two fleece blankets.  By combining those I can make a heavier medium weight and a heavy weight blanket. Tank came to me having been stalled at night, but I prefer to keep him out 24/7.  Tank did lose some weight after I got him, his teeth were really bad. At least I was prepared this time when he started to shiver and was able to give him the simple luxury of a blanket.

This fall I am not blanketing until he shows me that he needs blankets. But I am prepared. I have laundered and waterproofed his sheets and blankets so if he needs them they are ready. They are at the barn if he should start to shiver again, but because I solved the problem of his weight and he has been kept outside year around he is growing a nice thick coat this year, I doubt that he will need them.

Blanketing is a highly personal choice. It depends a lot on the horse and the owner, but in my book, if you choose to blanket or not it is not as important as being prepared.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Update on Tank

Here is my boy from this summer. Get a load of those ribs!

My boy has had issues getting on weight and getting his feet back on track. A lot of this summer has been dealing with these two issues.

My farrier is a great guy and has been doing a wonderful job at getting Tank comfortable with having his feet done. We think he may have foundered, but I have not done r-rays so we are not positive. As my farrier said, it wouldn't change how we are dealing with his feet now. The growth that is coming in is looking better and we are still just waiting for a little more of the "dish" on his front feet to grow out.

As we are dealing with these issues, he also came up dead lame one day. Vet said it was just an abscess which after he cut it out, we treated with penicillin and a wrapped hoof. I learned that Tank really doesn't like a shot in his butt and he is not all that fond of one in his neck either. Not uncontrollable ... but not trilled either. And even an offering of carrots is not welcome after shots.

If you look carefully you will notice a beautiful mane in the picture at the right and in the one above, Tank has been roached. He rubbed off his mane. So I roached it. This fall he started to do the same thing again, even rubbing off his brand and the hair on the other side of his neck.

After some research I decided to do double doses of ivermectin, a treatment I found is used for horses with neck threadworms. This seemed to help with his rubbing and he is finally growing that hair back. I might have to repeat this is the spring, or I might get him a neck cover for his blanket. I just really want his mane to grow back. I have even thought of buying a new hay feeder for him ... but he is boarded and I don't really have the money.

Finally, back to the weight. Earlier in the year the stable he is boarded at decided that pasture horses would no longer get an afternoon feeding. I think that really impacted his weight, even though he has free choice hay. After teeth and other issues were ruled out, and his supplements were not doing enough, the vet suggested a switch to senior feed ... and a lot of it. That has made a difference. Thankfully, the barn owner is willing to give him a second feeding and he is  going into the winter with a little meat on his bones.

Health issues finally under control and I asked a friend to take a few rides on him.
He is a calm boy under saddle but needs work on steering. I am looking forward to moving forward with his boy. He has a great mind and is just a wonderful horse all around.

Although I have to wonder how this little hot house flower would have ever survived in the wild.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Update on Me

What a wild and crazy summer it has been, and now we are halfway through fall.

Tank and I have spent the summer getting ourselves healthy. Today I will talk about me . . . but don't worry, I'll tell you all about Tank in the next post.

Me ... that has been my focus as of late. Trying to get healthy enough to do ... anything! Doctor visits, lab work, podiatrist, physical therapy, oral health, and mental health care. That was my summer.

I started out strong, doing things and I hurt my back. Was it Tank? Was is gardening? I have no idea but half of June and July was working on being able to sit with any comfort. Moving was not as issue as much as sitting. Sitting to drive to see Tank. Sitting to write on the computer. Sitting to read a book. Sitting to do something other than stand. It was horrible.

As soon as that started to clear up my feet were getting worse, probably because I was standing to avoid sitting. So, off to the podiatrist. Earlier in the spring a drill was dropped on my foot and apparently pushed the bones in my toe apart a little. It makes it feel like I have a bruise on the ball of my foot all the time. So I start walking more on my left foot ... guess what! I got plantars fasciitis in my left foot. Trying to be good to my feet I was wearing good walking shoes. It took well in to August to realize that the shoe was aggravating my condition.

Well, I got some inserts from the podiatrist. Yea! that helped get my feet back in order and even helped make my walking shoes good for walking. On the right track, right?

So head out to the barn. A friend at the barn was putting some rides on Tank. I have his weigh issues under control (more on that later) so even though I am still too heavy for him, I think he can handle walking around with me on him.

I get on him and he give a little cow hop. Okay ... maybe not ... I hop off. More because I got nervous than because he was acting out. Left leg is okay but my right knee gives out.

Sick stomach ...

Light headed ...

popping as I try to walk. ...


Tank is a trooper and calm as ever. I walk him over to where I can sit down for a moment. Eventually I get up and put him away. Driving is painful but by the end of the drive I am doing okay.

Great! Maybe I am not hurt as badly as I thought.

Until I try to get out of the car. I can't walk.

Long story short (too late) I have done something to my knee I just don't know what yet. MRI scheduled.

Ugg ... I take 2 steps forward and 1 back. It hard to see any progress.

But that I one reason I want to start blogging for myself again. So I can see my progress.

Friday, October 19, 2018

No followers . . .

I struggled with the fact that I don't have any followers for awhile. What is the point to write without anyone to read?

But I read.

I wish I had kept up with the progress of the past  7 months. So . . . I write for myself and I am back again . . . again.

This is my boy over the summer.

But what I really want to talk about is friends. The furry kind.

Yes, they are our friends and they are important. I let go of a friend today, AJ.

AJ was a cat I rescued from the litter of a feral queen. I took the whole litter of 3. Two of the kittens survived, AJ and Rockford. AJ is the gray on the left and Rockford is the black on the right. The orange cat is Simon and unrelated. These boys were all named after P.I's James Rockford (Rockford Files) AJ Simon, and Rick Simon.

AJ was a friend. The kind of friend that was always in your face. Didn't get the hint that maybe he should move out of your way or leave you alone sometimes. He would trip you as you walked down the stairs or down the hall.Even if that meant that he had to flop into your underwear as you sat on the toilet.  He felt that he was there and you should talk to him.

Yes talk. AJ loved to talk. He would tell you about everything that had happened that day. He meowed and meowed. I had whole conversations about all sorts of things. He was a good listener too. You could tell because he would respond to everything you said.

AJ was so handsome, too. That steele gray coat with striking green eyes. He was a big, thin, steele kitty that has a mind of his own. The funny think about AJ was that he back legs were on backwards. No, really. His left paw was on his right leg and visa versa. It was the oddest thing. He also did not have an extra digit on his front paw, but it looked as if he did. Aj was very unique.

AJ also had his own unique flop. I never saw that cat lay down, he would flop over, sort of just fall on his side.

AJ was my friend. I will miss him. Rest in Peace old man.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Feet? Hip? Behavior? What is it? Part 1

Hanky Panky, Mr. Tanky has a problem. He doesn't like to pick up his feet. It is turning from  mildly annoying into an honestly perplexing problem, as these things often do with horses. Minor limping turns in to debilitating lameness or saddle fitting problem turns out to just be a training problem. One day your horse bolts and never does it again. Another day the Steddy Eddy of the barn starts spooking at everything, only to discover a month later he is going blind. It is never simple with these big fellows. And it seems to never, ever be what you first think it is.

Tank came to me during the season of mud. Small dirt paddock and wet mud made for  mess beyond anything I had kept a horse in before, the compromises of boarding. The muck was so thick and deep, that I could barely walk. Each step was an effort making sure that my boot would not come off as I tried to break the suction of the mud. Placing my foot down, I tried to choose a place where my leg would not sink in up to my ankle or even higher. The high traffic area by the gates was the worst.

Of course, during those first few weeks Tank was not willingly coming to me. He seemed to understand that I could not catch him very well in the mud and would head there often. Note in the picture at the right how deep those horse are sinking into the mud. Notice how high up there is mud on his legs. Stop and imagine for a second what his feet look like. It was cold, icky, and I couldn't always find a place to tie him up. The last thing I wanted to tackle where his feet.

When I tried the first time he was NOT happy. Pulling back, not wanting to lift his feet. I was surprised because he had reacted to everything else so well.  Blankets, brushes, scary things, he took them all in stride.  Even standing on the cross ties went much easier than I thought it would. Everything else I tried with him, he was stellar at.

So once I got him on the cross tied,  I started to work with his feet again. Again ... not so good. Rearing up if I tried to do his front legs and if I tried to do the back he acted like we were swing dancing. His butt would swing from one side of the aisle to the next!


Yes, I see that. This is a training issue. Start working on this training issue. Poor dear was probably abused as he was having his feet worked on. So I start working on picking up his feet. A few seconds at a time. What a good boy! He is getting it. Only hold them for a second or two at a time, but making progress.

Problem solved?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Tale of a Tail

There once was a lovely little horse, who had a horribly tangled tail.

I don't mind the task of detangling a tail, but how and with what. Now I have detangled some horrible burr filled tails before. Luckily, this was just a nasty gnarl of a knot, no icky burrs.

As everyone knows, you start at the bottom and work your way up. On the first day, I only had a stiff hair brush from Dollar Tree and this brush from my Schneider's Deluxe Grooming kit. I actually really like this grooming kit, and this brush was okay. I didn't have any detangling spray.

Several people suggesting  the Oster version of this brush for detangeling.  I really didn't find it that helpful for really, really tangled, matted hair. Even when I got Mane and Tail detangling spray the next day, this brush was just horrible for detangling a mat.

So I moved to my old stand by; a good old hard plastic comb. I find these combs are wonderful for really getting in to a tangle or mat. That little end works like a pick to gently pull out a few hairs at a time. I used the Mane and Tail spray again.

 The thing I hate about the spray is working it into the mat and waiting for it to dry. Although Tank is trooper and doesn't mind being sprayed at all, I just got tired of spraying. I also really hate the idea of spraying on dirty hair. With this comb and the spray I did make it up several more inches.

You can see (I hope) in this picture that about half of his tail looks looser than in the first photo, which looks like a hair bat.  I did this part on Sunday and just didn't make it out to the barn again all week. Darn weather and work!

So in the mean time I found a recipe for a dry shampoo: equal parts ground oatmeal, baking soda, and corn starch. So armed with this and this comb I had bought at Walgreens for my hair I headed back to the barn. Now I am not sure if this comb was better than the other combs, but it was defiantly not worse.

Now the dry shampoo was easy to pour over the mat and really get it all the way through the mat. I didn't need to keep getting more of it. The oatmeal absorbs the oils, the baking soda absorbs odor, and the real magic is from the corn starch that looses everything up. Perfect!

Another suggestion I was given was a brush called, "Wet Brush." I did not get to try the "Wet" brush because, of course, it came after I left for the barn. I ordered the pack figuring it was good enough for Tank, it would be good enough for me also. I did try it on my hair. It really is easy and painless to use. Lucky for Tank I ordered two and so one will go out to the barn.

The end result:
Of course that sucker is now braided and tied up in a tail bag!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

One Happy Surprise After Another

Every moment I spend with Tank, I feel renewed. Which is a good thing because things in my professional life are less than perfect right now.

Tank keeps surprising me. I ordered a rope halter, making one will come in the future. I got very confused, even watching it on YouTube. He is, of course, much more responsive to the rope halter than the other one. Plus I can hide it in my pocket and slip it on easily. (note: goal for this month is to teach Tank to be caught easily.)

I discovered that Tank must have worn blankets in the past because he has not issue with them. Even when I didn't tie him and he wandered around with a blanket half on. No spook, just wandered around until he managed to step on it and pull it off. Otherwise, he has been blanketed with no issues what so ever.

I also discovered that his tail is one big rat's nest. In the picture it might looks like it is nice, but under those outer hairs is just a big tangle. I was unsure what to do as I have been lacking places to tie him up but.. hey ... if I loop the lead around something ... anything really. He stays. Damn he is a good horse. So most of the weekend was spent trying to untangle his tail. I am about 1/3 of the way done. Last weekend I used Mane and Tail Detangler. This weekend I think I am going to use a mixture of cornstarch, baking soda, and ground oatmeal. A dry shampoo that should help with the tangles also.

I must admit that I enjoy the challenge of detangling a tail. It is relaxing and at the end, it is like unwrapping a present as you see a beautiful tail . I think that he is going to have a very nice tail when I am done.

Over all it has been a nice few weeks. Although it has been cold. I am very much looking forward to the nicer weather coming. 40's and windy is okay, but I would like a nice few days in the 50's or 60's.

Blankets ... should you, shouldn't you

A little miniature foal stands shivering in the spring rain, even with full shelter available. His winter coat is soaked through to the skin...

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