August 28, 2020

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) aka Heaves

Poor Chance, my sensitive 22 year old Arabian was diagnosed with COPD this spring.  He was coughing a lot this winter and spring; and not just a little cough.  A labored, violent, knocks a loud fart out of him that echos through my neighborhood kinda fart. So we had the vet out to float his teeth hoping that was the issue; I was worried that he wasn't chewing well and could choke.  He needed the dental work but after a few weeks he still was having some issues.  I contacted them again so they gave us some Ventipulmin syrup to see if that was effective.  We had him on that for about 14 days.  He improved and seemed good for a little while, an occasional cough but nothing as regular and violent as before.

Then he got to coughing more and more; so one more trip from the vet and a final diagnosis....COPD, aka Heaves. I'm still learning a lot about what this is and how it affects him.

The Ventipulmin helps but eventually horses can develop a resistance to the drug and at $150 for a two week course it's a bit pricey. Environmental conditions are what seem to be the triggers for most horses.  The hay this past year was not the best but sometimes you can't help that.  One way to help with this is steaming the hay.  For thousands of dollars you can buy a great steamer for your hay bales but who wants to spend that when were are tons of options for DIY below $200.  My husband immediately went online to find the supplies and ordered them so we could make a steamer.  

We are working on making better substrate around the barn, so the dusty dry clay that kicks up when we don't have a swamp out back will be curbed.  He's been here for four years, so I really don't thing it's environmental, we haven't had big changes.  The hay isn't necessarily the cause, Dani is not having issues, it's just some horses develop it from what I'm reading.  He's 22 and not a 10 year old so this diagnosis to me is just part of the aging process.

I have done some research on some supplements to help with mucus and inflammatory maintenance of the pulmonary system and one of the best recommended supplements was Heave HO.  Just the name alone makes we want to buy it!  It's $68 for a months worth and that is much better than keeping him on the Ventipulmin.  If he has acute occurrences we have the ability to give him that medication for a couple weeks as needed.

With summer time coming to an end I'm glad to report he's done really well on grass and his supplement.  When there have been weeks I've had them on the dry hay, he hasn't had too many issues.  I'll report once we start steaming hay this fall, here's hoping we don't hear any coughs from the old man!


August 13, 2020

Evil Humidity and Heat

 I hate summer.  Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a heat person.  I like the 70s or cooler.  50 degrees or 40 degrees, particularly dry cold, I barely need a jacket.  I hate North Carolina summers.  

There are thing that are nice about it though.  Frogs. Bees. Dragonflies. Fireflies. "Free" horse forage. Beaches.

Funny that the first few things I mention are critter related, and mainly insect related.  Hahaha.  I think for horses, summers are also the least favorite season.  It's hot, there are flies, and even when the human rinses them will nice cool water the huge horse flies seem to b-line for their haunches.


I haven't ridden in a ridiculously long time and summer certainly never helps the matter.  I don't like being outside in the summer but I have to in order to mow our pastures, care for the horses or inspect the bees. When I'm done with all the outdoor chores I just want to retreat into the nice cool inside and take a cool shower to rid myself of the dirt and sweat.  

I often have the though that I should wake up early and do some riding before the heat comes but that never seems to happen.

My poor horses sweat so much when it's 70 percent humidity and 90 degrees or more.  I wish I could bring them inside. They have full water troughs that are not exactly chilled water which sucks but they do have the cool barn and two fans that blow everyday....an electric bill I"m more than willing to pay.  The deserve it.  

Some days I go outside to care for them and see they are crusted with salt from all the sweat.  How miserable.  I hose them off often and I think they really enjoy that cooling effect, though I think a water heater could help so the water isn't so darn cold on their tender areas!

I've been assessing the areas around the barn as to where the most logical place would be to build a washrack where Dani and Chance don't end up standing in mud every time I hose them off.  In the barnyard I've found a location that appears to be an optimal place though I will need to build up the area with leftover Chapel Hill gravel I have from the barn mud project.  

I purchased a 10 x 12 mat from stall savers.  It's permeable and will work nicely as a wash rack ground cover.  I used it today in the area of question, no substrate there yet so eventually a puddle formed during the second horse bath. It worked pretty nicely and I think it shows promise that I can get this set up with little effort.  


Both horses loved the bath and afterwards seemed to be much less itchy.  I hate itchy ponies!  The only thing that makes me so mad about giving them a water rinse is that it seems to attract the biggest horseflies.  I try to smack the flies but they are too fast.  I have to spray the horses down with fly spray after the rinse which is a bummer.  And of course they both end up rolling in the dirt while still damp but the bath was certainly not for vanity.

Luckily we are in August and that means September and then October follows which means a little bit cooler temperatures.  I would love to get out of the 90s into the lower 80s.  That would be fantastic!  I'm sure Dani and Chance agree!

May 19, 2020

Weeds and weedwacking

This spring has been pretty cool, maybe since I'm working from home I'm just enjoying it more and loving the weather.  There seems to be more weeds in our pasture this year and that is our fault.  We didn't spray for weeds at all last year and didn't do any liming of the acidic soils.  This year we plan to do a little bit of reviving.  All three pastures have been sprayed with a horse approved pasture product.  I still like keeping them off sprayed areas for at least a week or more.  We have tons of buttercup but not as much in past years.  There are other weeds to: curly dock, henbit and dead nettle (good elsewhere for my bees but I don't want that in my pastures!), wild onion, and then a handful of others.  
So while off the pastures for a week or so Steve and I did something we've been talking about doing forever, temporarily fencing in a portion of the back yard that isn't over the septic field.  It's essentially the side yard that we kind of use for a through pass when getting hay deliveries but otherwise is just a place we have to move.  We also have our sort of fenced in vegetable garden in this area and the trailer and truck parked next to the house.  It took maybe twenty step in posts and about 500 yards of electric rope to enclose the area.  We left a path around the outside for us to be able to walk from our backyard to the wooden fence pass through and get to the barn yard without navigating the electric rope.  It's working nicely so far, I spent yesterday at the patio set with my laptop working to hang with the horses and enjoy the weather.  It did much for my mental state!  When we aren't home I don't like the idea of the horses being in a section of fencing like this so once work from home occurs less it will most likely be that we do this on the weekends.  
The grass is so lush in this area since it hasn't been grazed as much as our pastures. It's nice to have an alternative place to graze them while we are resting the pastures for a few weeks.  We need to do a better regimen of fertilizing, liming and spraying.  One pasture I spread a ton of orchard grass seed this fall and it's taken pretty nicely.  We'll do that some this fall in all three pastures and probably have the horses off the pastures for a few months from September to January or February.  I have to do some more research on the best way to revive the pastures.  
Still they are better than when we first moved in and I often have a neighbor making that comment to me which makes me feel I'm at least doing some things right!  I just continually want to improve the ground.  Our soil is very acidic and the clay gets compacted easily making it a great place for weeds. We want to have good pasture in the summer months for the horses since it saves on hay costs.  My easy keeper mare doesn't like her muzzle when we have nice lush pastures but she can deal!

March 31, 2020

Project Anti-mud-Phase 1

We've been wanting to do it forever and I finally decided yes, let's start phase 1 at least of the anti mud project. Mud season is the worst!  I ordered 10 cubic yards of gravel, it's called Chapel Hill gravel and is a great substrate that packs down a little and also drains well.  We use it in our bee yard and it's been a a great product.


The ground was hardened up after being so rainy for weeks and then now pretty dry.  The problem is that clay hardens up hoof prints and then the potholes are a danger as much as the mud is a health and function issue.  The aisle of the barn had areas that were washed away so it made some areas of the aisle very narrow.  I had my farrier often have issues trying to trim since she would be several inches lower than the ground my horse was on!

One big washed out area right where I have the cross ties

So what we did was dig a trench from up the slope down to where the water collects naturally by our shed.  Phase two will be taking that area and making a french drain out towards a lower part of the property.  Currently this is a dip in the property and water just sits with no where to drain.


The area in the picture below was always the worst area to push a wheel barrow through.  The mud would be nearly 8 inches deep at the end of the barn and filled with hoof holes that deep.  In the winter if we got a freeze those would turn into holes that were ungiving and could easily twist an ankle or worse.  I would have to close gates to keep the horses off that area until the ground unfroze and was a little safer.


So once the trench was dug and all the mucky mess moved out, I dumped all the substrate into the low areas, in the aisle, into the trench and into the mud pit area at the end of the barn.  The aisle is now one level for the most part, all the potholes and gullys are filled in and packed down.  The trench is happily filled and today...being a rainy day, we have seen that the water has indeed flowed down this trench unseen; it's working as planned!


I will certainly have to get some more of this substrate as it will get more packed down over time and we wanted to have more area in the barn yard covered with it.  I also have other boggy areas that I will get to in time as well.  The next big project will be a french drain to move the water that drains into the shed area.  It's a process but I'm glad we are finally one step closer and there will be that much less mud for the horses to stand in.


The standing water is away from my horses precious hooves....and Dani approves!

March 23, 2020

Shaggy

I hope this post finds you all well.  It's a different world right now with Covid-19 everywhere you look online.  Life continues to trudge on though and I don't want to add to the feeds about pandemic preparation, lack of toilet paper and hand washing protocols.  All in all we are doing good.  Steve and I are working from home; for me that is challenging being a laboratory Research Associate.  I'm trying to brush up on data analysis skills and what not and anxiously awaiting a time when we can start projects that have been on the bench for a while now.


Going out to the barn each day is a glimmer of happiness, even more so now.  It's nice to still have our normal routine and hear the gentle nickers and feel the soft whiskers of pony lips as I am greed each morning and evening. Dani and Chance are both healthy aside from some allergies that are making Chance cough and then fart real loudly.  With just the right amount of hills around our place that fart sure does echo! Medicine seems to have been helping the poor boy! I can't help but laugh....mean pony mom.


The horses aren't affected by the pandemic one bit it seems (I honestly think they don't even know about, they don't like watching the news).  They are still demanding food, pooping regularly and rotating to their next field as the grass begins to green up.  Their coats are shedding like crazy.  It's most noticeable on Chance since he grows a really long winter coat.  He's gone through phases where it looks like he has mange as he's shed out areas that haven't quite grown in their new summer hairs yet. 


It's glorious to see peeks at the shiny summer hair as I anticipate future grooming sessions where I make him and Dani glisten.  I find it funny that horses shed out different areas in different orders.  The belly area seems to be the last body area to let go of the long winter coat.  It makes sense I guess; keep the core warm for the occasional winter-like day.  I'll be getting out there soon to trim up their woolly legs and goat like throat latches....it will be nice to have the horses back vs. these neighing Wookie like creatures.  Hahahaha!

January 05, 2020

2010-2019 Decade End Blog Challenge

 The end of 2019 does not just mark the end of a year but a decade.  So a year end review makes sense but then there is also the decade end challenge.  From May As Well Event you are supposed to use one photo per year and describe the significance of said photo.  Here goes!

2010
Willy was a sweet 20 year old Arabian gelding I leased for a time.  I had access to ride him each Saturday and enjoyed going out and having some fun time outside of my horseback riding lessons.  I grew a lot with him!


2011
I tried a new horse for a period of time in 2011, Missy.  She was a nice mare but we never really clicked and I didn't have access to an indoor area to ride so was often rained out.  I continued lessons with Laurie and her Arabian horses.


2012
My first ride on Dani (Daenerys).  This was when I was horse shopping and when I met Dani I knew she was the one.  I was so excited.  She was a great mare that was calm and sweet.  After all the checks, exams and contracts were done I moved her to a boarding facility where we could begin our life together.


 2013
Dani has a fun personality.  She is actually holding onto this sign with her teeth....no photoshop here.  I was entering a contest to win something from Julie Goodnight and this was the ticket!  Already Dani and I were bonding and I was learning she had a great sense of humor!


2014
I moved Dani to her third boarding facility that had lots of nice pasture out east in Peyton, CO.  We had lots of area to ride out there and met a great riding buddy who also was a Morgan.  


2015
In 2015 my hubby and I moved from CO to NC.  Dani followed two weeks later via a professional horse shipping company.  I finally had a pony in my backyard!  We then found Chance, a nice Arabian gelding only one year older than Dani.  They have become good friends as long as Chance does everything Dani tells him to!



 2016
This year was full of rides some lessons and getting used to the new property.  We had a lot of work cut out for us like painting the barn and getting fencing removed and repaired.  It's been a great property and only gets better for us as time goes on.


2017
More riding around the neighborhood.  Still not getting Steve on a horse as much as I would like so I often rode Chance to keep him up to speed.


2018
Not horse related I had a spinal surgery due to herniated disks.  I was off riding for over a year and needed help from friends while I recovered.  It was scary but my husband got me through it, and Bernie my snuggle-saurus.  Yes I'm 39 years old as I'm writing this and I still love my stuffed animals!


 
2019
This year has flown by.  I got on Dani after over a year off from riding.  Both of us a little fatter but we are still alive and kicking!  I didn't have the comeback I really wanted.  A really hot summer and other things got in the way.  Well....no more! 2020 will not keep me off my horse.  I will get back to riding regularly and get Chance ridden some too and maybe even get Steve up on his horse at some point.


It's been an interesting decade and as I face my 40th birthday in February I realize that life is short.  I'm only getting older.  I have a lot of projects I want to do but I need to take the time to say hell with it and kick my (and Dani's heels) up with glee and leave the worries behind.  

It's the new roaring 20's ya'll!!


January 04, 2020

The Mud Season

This time of year we don't have a lot of snow.  I don't mind that so much since snow causes a lot of issues in the south!  What we do get is rain.  Rain means mud at my barn.  The drainage is still an issue with the barn area and this year is the year I will finally tackle it.  I will take one step at a time. 


I'd had one person come out to assess the drainage and they were not hired obviously since they were thinking that we should drain one direction (aka into our leach field) while I was saying we needed it to drain the other direction....though it would mean more work of course.  For those not familiar with leach fields they are an underground system that the effluent from a septic tank (on-site wastewater system) drips.  The septic tank fills with all the waste water from the house.  Solids fall out of the water and have to be pumped out of the tank once every couple years.  The liquid then trickles under ground in a series of pipes (or other devices) to percolate over the dirt where good bacteria will break down the waste and thereby clean the water so when it enters the ground further down there are no bad bacteria.  Having extra water from your house or some other area drain into this leach field is a bad idea.  It needs to stay as dry as possible to only deal with the water from the house and of course rain etc.  I tried to explain it to the excavator guy but he didn't get it.


I worked in public health for 8 years and one of the things I did was inspect leach fields, so I know what I'm talking about and know that I don't want to make a really expensive system fail if I can prevent it!  So I'm working out the detail myself.  My first task will be an area where I normally like to hang the horses hay bags.  It's a muddy mess.  That will just need some scraping and sloping using our front loader and then the addition of good draining substrate.  That will hopefully be done in the next couple of months.  The next step will be at the end of the barn where the horses enter the aisleway.  It just sits muddy most of the year from November until May.  Again that will be scraping and moving in better substrate.  


Look at this old pic from before painting the barn! 
Shows the "pond" in the low area
Later I will try to make the aisle more even and dig a trench where the water naturally goes and pools and back-fill with good draining substrate as well.  The final step will be in between the barn and the storage shed, I'll need to construct a type of French drain to move the pond that forms there.  I literally have standing water there for weeks until it finally dries up. If I can get all of this done this year that will be great.  I will be happy with getting a couple parts of it done.


One section of our fencing has poly rope fence...something we want to move to for the rest of the electric fencing.  I was noticing a weird bump on one part of the rope and upon closer inspection I saw lichen.  Oh my goodness, you can't stop anything from growing in North Carolina it seems!  I wonder if that will degrade the fence in time if I should treat with vinegar or something?  How funny!



December 23, 2019

End of Year Reflections

It’s coming to the end of the year and of course I wish to reflect on the past year. This has been a great year for me related to my career. I’ve finally found a position that I feel I can grow with and a company, Novozymes, with which I feel I could stay long term. Been a while since I felt I was in a good place career wise. That’s part of why we moved to NC! I’m pretty content and excited for what the future hold!

This year has been busy with our work around the property and finally getting around to putting a shower back into our master bath. We have been in the guest bathroom for a year now. Time just gets away and I’ve spent very little of it riding or being with the horses. I feel terrible not having done much pony stuff but sometimes the part of taking care of them…aka the land that sustains them takes over my life. Our other projects have taken a front seat but I’m tired of that and I miss my horses.




I don’t need to ride much but I want to ride regularly. I have pie in the sky dreams of trail riding and going to clinics but we need to take some baby steps. Dani hasn't been on a trailer in years and my trailer may need some work after sitting in the NC moisture. The paint job is coming undone and I am concerned the rust is coming up again. The frame may still be good but I have a conversation started with a trailer repair person that can perhaps come out and see the trailer to make a final determination. None the less, Steve and I could ride nearby off our property and that is where we should start.




We should be finishing the bathroom here soon and then we can commit to riding some each weekend. We must! I know it's not a bother to my horses, not being ridden, but I know it causes them to lapse in their manners for sure!

Steve and I have been active with our bee club and helped with getting the county fair booth organized and set up. I entered a cute miniature honey bee farm stand in the fair with Steve. He made the hive and the stand and I did all the tiny wares on the stand (actual honey jars and mini wax candles) and the display for it. We didn't win anything with the entry but I think "Decorative Item" may not have been the best category. There were some nice things entered too like a bee related stained glass lamp!




Other news around the barn is that I am determined to start working on some of the muddy areas in the wormhole (aka sacrifice paddock). It's way too wet in areas and I end up not feeding my horses in their hanging slow feeder bags because of it. That shouldn't be too hard of a task and only take a little time, I'm going to just do one section at a time and not try to take on a huge project that overwhelms.




I hope the new year finds everyone doing well!

May 21, 2019

Getting in Gear

So it's been a long while since I've been on my blog and even longer since I've ridden Daenerys.  She and Chance have been doing fine at pasture.  We've been keeping up with the pastures.  Getting new bees since our didn't make it through the winter and I've been continuing with our garden.  I have a 4 x 4 patch of strawberry plants and have been able to make several strawberry shortcakes! 

 
Our grass is doing good for now but we are in a dry spell which is weird and things are beginning to look crispy.  Still, Ms. Mare is in her grazing muzzle religiously, much to her chagrin.  We had tons of rain earlier this year thus preventing me from riding so now we have the opposite.  Goodness, what's up with this?  I started a new job in April and I actually have Saturday and Sunday off now so I get to spend time with my hubby.  I'm hoping to get him more involved with his horse, aka riding.

 
I had Erin the area trainer out to freshen up both horses for riding since it'd been so long.  She did about 4-5 sessions with them and then they were ready for me to get on.  Guess who had the most attitude getting back into work...lol Daenerys of course.  I just recently hopped on Dani  for the first time and walked around the property.  It felt great!  Steve was having issues with adjusting his Aussie saddle on Chance so I'll have to stay on the ground next time and get him going this week but at least we took a step in the right direction.
 
 
I was very happy being back in the saddle even for a small amount of time.  I want to take it slow and gain my courage again.  After having spinal surgery I do worry what will happen if I fall but my fusions are good and I have the doctors ok so I should just go live my life right?  I'm still not a speed person but I see slow trail rides in the future! 

January 04, 2019

2019 and Ponies

2019 was a bust for riding with my neck surgery but I'm hoping this year things will go a little smoother.  Currently it's been raining cats and dogs for weeks straight it seems and the barn area is a complete swamp.  I need to get both horses with my riding instructor for some tune ups maybe so I can feel confident about getting back in the saddle after so much time off.


Health wise though, they are doing well and so am I.  Hubby and I have continual projects around the house and the New Year has started out with getting things organized in the house plus getting quotes for things we want done in the house or around the property.



Here's too 2019!