September 30, 2013

Lokis Near Death Experience

I bring Loki and Spencer to the barn a lot.  Spencer is a Jack Russel so he stays tied to a fence post out of the way but Loki is fine, he'll wander but always comes back; he loves coming to the barn and running in the open space.  I keep an eye on him and if it's not just me at the barn or I'm going to ride both pups will be tied up and out of everyone's hair.

Well, today I was distracted I guess.  A friend was going to a wedding so swung by to let her son see Dani and to give me the run down on the critter care for the weekend.  Since she lived right near the barn I told her it would be no issue to take care of her pups and kitty.  While chatting I didn't keep the eye on Loki until it was too late.  Loki was in Sugar's pen and she didn't like it!!

In a split second the mare had her head down, ears pinned and feet stomping and I heard that wretched dog yelp.  Loki limped out of the pen over to me.  His back was arched and his legs didn't seem to work correctly.  I thought the worst but tried to keep calm and get him to stop moving.  I touched his sides and back, felt his head....he didn't react to my touch and I pressed a little more.  Still no reaction.  Not sure if that was a good sign or not.  I feared his back was broken or his pelvis.  There wasn't anything obviously wrong so I thought to finish up at the barn, wait and see and if need be take him to the Emergency Vet.

He walked a bit more but still his legs didn't work right and he cocked his head to the side.  Oh god no!  I feared a fatal prognosis.  In only a few minutes though Loki literally snapped out of it and ran off in a normal fashion to see Spencer.  A rush of relief came over me.  He must have been in shock, I know when I've fallen off it takes a few minutes to function properly.  I just feared that like with my dear rat Penelope I had years ago (who had fallen from the top of a tall cage to the bottom and hit her head) that it would mean I would have to make "that" decision again now with my dear Loki.  He sure was acting like there was something neurologically wrong.  Thank goodness he was alright!

I spent that night continually probing his little body, feeling for heat, checking his eyes etc etc.  He was fine though.  He still looked pathetic as I sat enjoying my bubble bath.  Not sure if he felt wounded from being beaten up by a pony or if he was afraid he'd be in the bubble bath next.  Lesson learned, when a dog is off leash around horses, don't blink for second, especially if they are still getting used to how to be around horses!  

I just have to say thank goodness animals are so resilient!

September 29, 2013

Serene Sunday

Why not graze with a bird on your back? It's fun!!!

September 23, 2013

Mold and Hay

I've had to deal with moldy hay occasionally, usually a flake or two. The 10 bales of hay that I got awhile ago is turning out to be not as consistent and nice as I would like, hence the reason I didn't buy more than 10 and decided to shop elsewhere for my year supply.

The most recent bale that had mold was kind of hard to see at first, I open each flake to examine the hay when I feed so since this bale was more crumpled feeling than just neatly packed that gave me the first hint there could be an issue lurking.  I noticed the mold in parts that I opened out, so immediately went into dissection mode.  I pilfered through the next couple of flakes, anything suspicious looking was thrown in a "toss out" pile.  The bale got a little bit better towards the other end but I pulled apart every single flake anyways.  Pretty much most of the bale got disposed of.
I placed the bad flakes into a wheel barrel and started sweeping up the area to make sure I got all the bad hay bits.  Of course Dani was used to eating hay out of a wheel barrel from Whispering Winds.  They would load in the hay with wheel barrows to haul out to the field and make piles for the horses but Dani would never wait, she always went straight to the wheel barrow to begin her meal. So with the moldy hay in the wheel barrow that was an issue! I kept pushing her away but she kept coming back.  She was so pathetic looking and eyeballed me as if to say "mom that's my hay, what's your problem?". I finally ended up finding a couple good flakes put it over by her bin and tied her up to the fence loosely so she could eat the hay and I could get the bad hay out of the stall without a chestnut muzzle getting in my way.

I guess all in all it's not too terrible to occasionally have to throw out some hay.  I've had several bales of hay from these 10 bales that I purchased.  The 30 bales of Timothy I bought in May were really good and consistent.  There was maybe one bale I was a little worried about and had about one flake that was sort of moldy, so I probably threw away about 4 flakes of that bale.  I think it's just safer to throw out more hay than to accidentally feed hay that is moldy. 
I'm looking forward to starting her on the hundred bales that I recently purchased since they are really good bales of hay and look like they're gonna be nice and consistent.  I think it's better to be meticulous about your hay and throw any suspicious hay out, than to have to call out the vet on a colic issue!

Serene Sunday

The beautiful front range with Garden of the Gods at the base of Pikes Peak

We have snow on the peak!  Winter is coming....

September 17, 2013

Too Little Water....Too Much Water

We started the year in a severe drought with water restrictions.  Our reservoirs were low and creek beds dry.  Forests were a tinderbox and 2013 set new records for fires, records that had been set the previous year!

Black Forest Fire was close to home, Dani's home and I moved her out east so I could concentrate on my Emergency Preparedness job for public health.  It was a long and busy summer.

Then we hit monsoon season and began getting more rain in the afternoons.  This was a blessing at first since we needed the rain.  My yard greened up and the prairie was alive again.  The two burn scars had issues with flooding, Manitou springs was hit hard a couple times and the EOC was activated.  Public health helped set up a disaster assistance center and provided free tetanus shots to those that would be working in the debris.

This last bit of storms coming from the hurricanes east and west of us has brought nearly a week of constant rain.  There have been roads washed out, houses destroyed and even colleagues sheltering in place as the creek near their house prevented them from coming to work.  Dani's home has been saturated and I've worked to dig little trenches to drain some of the water.  Daily hoof picking and then prevention of thrush is about all I can do until it started to dry out.  Then I can sift the sand for all the bits of manure that I couldn't get in the sopping wetness.

Dani likes to hang her head just outside the cover of the shed and from halfway up her neck to her face she is always damp.  What a weird horse.

El Paso County has not had it as bad as north of Denver...Boulder, Fort Follins, Lyons, Longmont, Greeley, and Fort name just a few communities affected.  The devastation is wide spread, our partners up the road are busy, busy coordinating the relief efforts.  As we were on standby I couldn't do anything to help.

I wanted to help those horses I saw on the news but I don't have a trailer nor the ability to take off work.  I donated to the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank since they are setting up at Fort Lupton to distribute hay to horse and livestock owners.  If you can afford it please donate.  This helps them pay for gas, buy hay and distribute it to those in need.  

It's just unreal what our state has gone through in the past couple years.  I'm sure Obama is getting tired of declaring Colorado a national disaster!  I hope everyone reading this is safe and well, take care everyone!

September 16, 2013

Scary Things....

Desensitizing is something I enjoy.  Dani is a fairly stable horse (no pun intended!) but she has her moments when things get her riled up or spooked.  No horse is 100% bombproof but my goal is to get Dani really steady for anything that comes her way.

Pulley with milk cartons!!!

The first thing when there is an obstacle, is to find a starting point.  I will use the noodle cowboy curtain for an example.  

Dani was able to calmly stand near it even when the wind blew the noodles about but walking through it by having the noodles touch her head....that wasn't gonna happen.

So I tied the noodles back and just had her walk under the arch essentially.  Lots of praise.

Then little by little noodles would find their way from being tied.  All this time I'm on the ground with her and leading her through to give her confidence

If I found a sticky spot I would retie some noodles until I got her consistently walking through them.

I would end my sessions with us standing at the noodles, face in them and me manually moving the noodles over her neck and body.  I would then retreat and give her a nice scratching.  Rinse and repeat.

The next session I would start a little back from where I left off; meaning less noodles down  at first but very quickly I could release the noodles more and more I found.

I eventually had all the noodles down and she would follow me through.

Next I asked her to walk through on her own.  With a little encouragement and just waving the handy stick by her rear she walked through on her own.

I'm at this point right now, and we are talking maybe 6 short sessions spread over an inconsistent amount of time!

My next steps will be to send her consistently through the noodle curtain on her own.

Then we'll try it under saddle.

Under saddle we may have to go back a few steps meaning the noodles will get tied back again but things can be very different under saddle so it's not REALLY a setback.  She won't have me on the ground with her so may lose a little confidence and I am sure I will be slightly tense (I will work hard not to be though!)

She could have no issues at all.  I'm very happy about how she's responded to this scary thing.  She was also exposed a few weeks ago to the tarp pulley which I was quite impressed with (as were some other riders stating she was brave)  It makes me feel confident that when I get a trailer and can work with her on loading her issues with that will fade away.  The whole point is to really think about what ever issue or scary object the horse is upset about and break it down into very small bits.

How can you make it less scary?
Distance from the object and intensity are the two main things that can be played with.  
Also getting a horse to think about something else like work (doing side passes, backing, yielding the hindquarters, longing, etc.) a slight distance from the object and resting near it also works.

How can you stay patient with a stubborn horse?
Set small goals.  If a horse is really having a hard time remember to adjust your goal for that day.  Get one step in the right direction if that's all you can get and quit on YOUR agenda.  Reward your horse and just enjoy being with them.  Once the work is done hand grazing or a nice grooming will benefit you both.  Tomorrow is another day!

Coffee can drag!  Such cool ideas!

September 15, 2013

Serene Sunday

Someone was ready to come out and play!

September 10, 2013

Hay Day!

Brome, orchard, timothy, mountain, prairie....grass hay.  Most tends to be around the same protein and nutritional levels.  I've done some research on the various types of hays. From my research I mainly want to avoid Tiffon or Bermuda since they can lead to impact colic.  Here in Colorado timothy is pretty expensive but a great hay (that's the 30 bales I bought back in May), prairie and orchard is pretty common and Brome also seems to be appearing more often during this drought.

I found a great document that describes all the different hay types Selection and Use of Hay.  It's a great read and very helpful in making decisions about what hay to feed your particular horse.

Above timothy seed heads are to the left and Brome is to the right.  The leaves themselves are not too different looking though Brome can often have more of a brownish green color when dried but it still has a great nutritional value.  I like feeding grass hay since I can feed more of it compared to the legumes.  I tend to essentially free feed Dani with her slow feeder.  She always has access to something to munch on; I couldn't do that with alfalfa even though it's a better priced hay in this drought.

I purchased 10 bales of Brome hay from Rocky Mountain hay up in Franktown.  They are nice heavy bales but a little inconsistent.  One bale is very green, other is rather brownish and I double check to make sure their is no mold.  Also twigs and twine bits seem to end up in these bales.  Oh well, Dani doesn't care, she grazes in fields with twigs and bits of other things in them....not like she can't eat around it and she does.  I pick out anything I see when I fill her feeder though.

I was thinking of purchasing more of this Brome but then found some awesome bales that a club member had purchased.  Nice heavy bales and green, green Brome!!  I tried to get a co-op together but I think at this point in the summer everyone who needed hay had already found what they needed.  Earlier in late June a group of us were all ready to get a load of hay.  Another member of the club was receiving a truck load a couple weeks before our group was to receive ours.  The hay dealer was a crook, the hay was BAD.  They refused it and so everyone (rightly so) backed out from our deal and we had to start all over.

I then learned from a club member that the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank is starting to sell the hay they acquire.  Before they have mostly worked off donations to provide hay to those in need.  If people lose their job, have an illness in the family etc. and find it hard to pay for hay they can apply and get hay for free to help them out and keep their beloved family members!  What a great organization!!!  I called them up and went out to look at some small bales.  It was an alfalfa mix, not straight grass so I wasn't too keen on purchasing it.  The rest of the bales were large 4 x 4's or 3 x 8's.  Yes, someday these size bales will make sense for me to buy since by the pound the hay is cheaper even when prices are as high as they are right now.  I don't have a tractor to move and stack these sizes so I'm limited to the small bales.

My Superhero, Horse Husband!
I found out they were getting some grass in from Grand Junction so I discussed with them about the quality.  It's a great group of people and sight unseen I knew it would be good hay so I put my name on 100 bales.  We rented a trailer and hooked up Buddy our Sierra 2500 HD this past Saturday and went to get our hay.  It was just as expected, soft, heavy bales and green green green!!!  The only issue was that the semi was loaded oddly.  200 bales were alfalfa, 200 were a mix and 200 were strait grass.  We picked through each bale that the loaders chucked at our truck and made sure each bale was strait grass.  We only unloaded a few rejects but those were going to a home that wanted them later that day.  Once we found about 60 bales of grass hay we kept hitting more and more alfalfa bales so we hopped into the barn with the crew and we unloaded the rest of the semi.

Then we headed to a pile that was mostly grass that had been unloaded earlier and finished up our count to equal 100 bales.  A lot of work!!!  We were sweating!!!  We paid for our bales ($11 for 65-70lbs bales and a couple dollar per bale goes to the charity....WIN WIN!!!!).  Steve and I headed back to KCRC.  We aligned the truck with a small shed on the property that I'd been given the go ahead to load up with hay.  We could have fit all our hay in there but I wanted at least 20 right where Dani's stall is for ease of feeding.  Dani grazed while we unloaded.  I don't think she really noticed the hay bales at first but when she did she walked right up to the truck and took a big sample.  She was so cute.  Pony stamp of approval!

My husband rocked, he arranged the hay bales in the shed like it was a scratchy, dusty game of Tetris.  We covered part of the bales with a tarp since the door doesn't close all the way, locked it and went to the stall and loaded the last few bales in there.  Then we swept up the bits and pieces in the bed of the truck and trailer and put them in Dani's feeder and a wheel barrow for the next days feeding.

The rest of the day was spent on our sofa at home watching Game of Thrones.  We were beat!  I'm a satisfied little squirrel though.  My nuts are safely stored for winter, I got a good price on hay and my girl is set for the winter, perhaps even the next year.  My whole entire sports bra was filled with sweaty hay bits and my arms were scratched up and itchy but it was worth it.  Just think, when we have two horses it will be double the supply of hay!!!!  I'm curious, what are the small bale hay prices in your neck of the woods?

Anyhow, I'm sure Dani loves having the bi-peds slave over her and provide for her every need.  Of course I wouldn't have it any other way but a tractor to move hay doesn't sound like too bad of a deal either.  Someday.....

September 08, 2013

Serene Sunday

Nothing like a lazy Sunday giving Dani a long grooming and taking care of her itchy parts!!