Thursday, April 30, 2009

life and death

I got to do some work on the farm today. We set up my 6ftx6ftx8ft aviary and attached it to our turkey house. My cats will live here for the summer so that my parents don't have to put up with their hair and litter.

So, funny head injury story know how in cartoons they always show a clumsy character stepping on a rake and getting walloped in the head? Yeah, well that happened to me today. My dad leaned the rake up against the aviary, and I was shoveling dirt around the edges, when suddenly, WHAMMMM! I stepped on the rake and got walloped in the head! The left side of my forehead immediately swelled up into an impossibly huge egg. It hurt, but only superficially (brain is fine). The swelling has gone down a little, but not much. I probably should have iced it, but I just kept working. I felt embarrassed though...what a stupid way to smack your head!

I think the cats will enjoy the aviary. It will be like having their very own room with a screened in porch. I'll put pictures up of it tomorrow. They will have to share it with Ms Turkey for now, but I'm not sure how much longer we should let her live.

This is a difficult thing, but how do you know when you should let an animal go (euthanize it), for its own good? How do you know when it is in too much pain to go on living and would rather it end? We've struggled with thinking we need to put Ms Turkey out of her misery for 2 years now. She's so huge for her body (because she's a meat turkey) that she can barely stand. She actually can't stand for longer than a minute or two before she needs to squat down to rest. She spends most of her time just squatting on the ground. And she really can't walk. What she does is a controlled stumble or waddle from one side of her pen to the other (food is on one side, her eggs are on the other).

I watched her for a good while today. She stumbled over to her eggs (she only has 5 left because she's accidently crushed a couple), and tried to brood them. It was so sad. She repeatedly tried to lift her body up and pull one of the eggs underneath herself. She did not even budge it because she can't lift herself up high enough. I finally took pity on her and tucked it under her, hoping she wouldn't crush it. Do you think she feels bad when she crushes her eggs? She can't help it, and I know I'm personifying her.

I also preened her butt feathers for her. She really likes that because she can't reach back there and I'm sure that it really itches. Whenever I start preening her, she immediately starts either preening me, the straw in front of her, or herself. She's funny. She obviously enjoys life to what extent she can, but I wonder how much pain she really is in. Her legs cannot support her body weight. Her tendons creak and snap very loudly when she does stumble around. I also noticed that her middle toes on her feet are starting to become really swollen. In general her legs look a little swollen always.

I do worry about her well-being during the hot humid summer here. She's already panting after stumbling from one end of the pen to the other (pen is very small, only about 5ft x 5ft), and it was only 65 degrees today! What is she going to do when it hits mid to upper 80's and is super humid? I know no one else can tell me what to do in a situation like this, but do you think it would be okay to let Ms Turkey live through this spring, and then end her life before summer hits? Am I being fair to her? Or have I been unfair all along by letting her live?

Todd's mom is still hanging in there, but the doctor said that her brain is still bleeding today, however it has slowed some. She is able to move all her fingers and toes. Apparently the part of her brain that is damaged the most is the region that controls language. She can speak, but she has a lot of trouble recalling which word she wants to use, and some of her sentences aren't completely correct. She's apparently in good humor though, but that is how she deals with these serious situations.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

a tune-up

Today was sunny finally. It rained all weekend and part of yesterday too. We got at least 5 inches of rain on Sunday. It filled the pond up another couple feet! But is also washed away all the grass seed that I planted on the bank where my dad had pushed up dirt to level out the new mustang pen. Thankfully most of our land is hilly and sloped, so we don't tend to get any boggy areas when it rains a lot.

Since it was so nice, I decided to play with the horses a little today. After giving them hay, I curried them all out. Then I got out my hair lotion and applied it to their manes and tails, brushed them out really well, and gave them nice tail massages (they love that...makes their lips curl). They still have a surprising amount of winter hair left. I think Catlow has lost the most and she started out with the most! I think maybe they stop losing hair when the weather takes cold turns.

Then I picked their feet, while in the pasture. On Cody, I noticed that her heels were balanced, but one front foot had longer hoof wall on one side than the other toward the front side of her inner quarter. Once I noticed that (it was most likely overlooked when I trimmed her last), I couldn't leave it that way, so I brought her out and trimmed up all 4 hooves. My neighbor had sharpened my hoof knife today for me and it worked great! I'm happy to report that it looks like the thrush has been keeping away after the first initial treatments I did. I did put more peroxide on their hooves today just as a prevention. Cody was well behaved after I tied her so that she couldn't untie herself. I had a slipknot and the smart horse has discovered that is she pulls at the rope she's tied with, she'll eventually get the right one and untie herself. She wanted to eat grass really badly. After I tied her so that she couldn't get it loose (without a quick release), then she stood nicely for me.

I'd also seen some thing in Chico's hoof shape that I wanted to touch up too, so I brought him out next. He was terrible. He kept taking his hoof away, leaning back so far that I had to drop his hoof. Then he was even worse with his backs when usually he's pretty good. He just kept taking his foot away. I did pop him with the rasp and really reprimand him a few times but it didn't help. After I was done (should have done this first, don't know what I was thinking), I got out my long leadrope and my training stick and went up into the field to work him. I figure what he was doing was just being disrespectful. I really haven't done much ground work with him this year. He's been very well behaved, but I guess they always need a little reminder about showing you some respect when you haven't been working with them much.

First I just tossed the string at him and wrapped it around his neck, legs, body, then I slapped the ground with it (he stood nicely for all this). Then I backed him up and asked him to lunge around me and he took off in a fast trot. I let him trot several circles so that he'd calm down a little, then I asked him to whoa and he stopped and came into me. Then I backed him up to ask him to go the other direction and he dropped his head to graze, so I gave him a nice pop on the rump with the string. He really did not like that (I usually do not have to pop him, but he needed some firm handling) and took off in a canter. I just kept him going back and forth changing directions and he was quite upset with me for popping him so he did it all at a canter even though I repeatedly asked him to slow down. Then he acted like he was scared of the string, so I kept him close while I tossed it out onto his back until he wasn't afraid of it anymore. Then we continued to do some lunging. He tried to graze one other time and I popped him then too with the same result. He did start to calm down back to a trot after a while. I really like Clinton Anderson's C-pattern, where you walk and have the horse arc a half circle in front of you. When they get to your side, you ask them to yeild the hindquarters then change directions and arc to the other side...all while you walk forward. I like it because I can go somewhere and not tear up the ground in one spot, plus it really make the horse pay attention to you. I haven't done it much with Chico, so we started off and he did the first couple arcs okay, then he decided to throw a little temper tantrum when I asked him to change directions at one point (darn horse gave me rope burn, but he didn't get away). I backed him up very aggressively for quite a while after I had him facing me again. Then it was like he flipped a switch. It's amazing how it really is like suddenly they decide that you mean business and it's just better to cooperate and you are definitely tough enough that they don't want to test you anymore. We continued the C-pattern while I walked down to the end of the field and back, and all the while, Chico did the pattern with a fairly calm demeanor and no resistance. After I figure he'd had enough, I scratched him for a while, then lead him back to the trailer where I keep my training stick to put it away. He did not even attempt to graze once, and walked beside me with a wonderful expression on his face (definitely a submissive look). Then I wanted to check his feet once more time (and see if he stood better), so I did it in the grassy field and just had to wiggle the rope a few times when he thought that because I was picking up his back feet, it meant he could eat.

He even waited for me to scratch him and go get a treat for him after I turned him loose, so I think we are still "friends". I don't really like having to hammer stuff into them with the groundwork (I get bored with it after a while), but sometimes they really do need a reminder.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cody's ride and the pond

Today was in the 80's! It was so warm that I decided it'd be mean to ride in the arena so I saddled Cody up and we went on a trail ride.

Cody pre-ride.

Because of the construction (they had a flagger and the highway closed to 1 lane under the interstate bridge), I chose to go a different direction. We road alongside the interstate on a side road for quite a ways, and then we still ended up going under the interstate bridge but on a much less busy road, so it was nice because Cody could walk right down the middle of the road and blow at all the stuff around. She actually did really well going under the bridge. It really is a scary thing when those huge loud semi's suddenly appear in view right over the top of them. I just told her what a good girl she was for being so brave and she went through fine. Cautiously, but fine. And there were porta-potties, and other construction things at this bridge too, but no one was working on it today. We also had to cross railroad tracks (she needed a lot of time to look at them and had to test the footing several times before she believed me that it was okay to cross over).

Then we took a little dirt road that used to be called Starlight Ave. but is now called Arm Road after the county renamed all their roads (so not romantic!). Starlight used to be where a lot of underage kids would find a pull off spot and have big parties in the woods because it's rather secluded. We rode for quite a ways down Starlight (it will always be Starlight to me). Starlight is mostly dirt, some parts of it are gravelly, but mostly it's sandy dirt surrounded by a mature forest of oaks and jack pine. I had Cody's hoof boots on because she is still rather flatfooted and I don't want to bruise her feet on random rocks, but perhaps next time I'll take them off. She walked out well and even though it was quite warm, we did a lot of trotting and cantering. The dogs were not along (because I had to ride along the road), so there Cody was a little uncomfortable when she heard squirrels rustling in the woods (usually the dogs are crashing around and I think that makes her feel more safe). Once, she jumped sideways so fast at a tiny rustle, that if I hadn't grabbed the saddle horn, I would have come off! And she can walk under an interstate bridge, but a tiny squirrel...horses. She got better as we went.

By the time we got back home, she was sweaty but relaxed. I took her down to the pond where the kids were playing in their new paddle-boat (they are spoiled rotten by their grandma and grandpa, but then again, so am I so how can I complain!). I rode her out into it and before I could react, she had laid down and soaked my boot! I hollered and kicked and she got back up so I took her saddle off and then let her roll around in it without me on. She laid back down three more times, but didn't quite know how to roll without getting her head wet, so I stood her back up and dumped water over to to rinse all her sweat off.

Then my mom came by with the camera and video'd while I rode her back through the pond.

Then she was wet and my boots were soaked, so I rode in the trailer in the back of our rhino and lead Cody trotting along behind through the wooded trails to get back to the barn. She stayed right behind and kept up well, but then she's been a pack horse before she she understands the concept.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Catlow's turn

I rode Catlow this evening after working on physics most of the day. I took her down to the arena for her first saddled ride of the season. First I let her run around without a leadrope and get used to it, then I tried to get her to pay attention to me, so I spent time putting pressure on her when she was evading me and trying to draw her to me when she'd face up. It worked, but the slightest provocation and she'd be off flying around again. I think I should work with her a lot more. She definitely would rather not be with me, which is so different than working with Chico. I think Catlow is with me because she has to, but generally, Chico is with me because he wants to. She does find relief when she does finally get with me, but I think she doesn't completely understand differences in my body language. I'll have to work to be more clear with her. She doesn't always get when I'm asking her to just stand and relax while I do something stressful (like swinging the rope while looking away or ignoring her) versus when I am actually asking her to move off (direct energy toward her by facing her head on an advancing while swinging the rope). I think she focuses more on the rope stuff than on me.

I let her air up for a bit then rode her around at a walk, trot and canter. While trotting, I tried to get her to make nice circles in the corners of the arena. This is only the second time I've worked with her in an arena, so of course, her circles were not great, and she was distracted because she could see her herdmates on the opposite hill.

Here are pictures of us trotting (my dad was watching). Catlow looks nice, but please don't make fun of my riding form! I know it's no where near perfect, but it works!

While cantering, I just let her go wherever, but I wanted her to keep up a steady cadenced canter. She did get a large circle going on after a while and quit trying to change direction in odd places. By then she was pretty tired because we had been at it for a while, so I walked around, did backing and sidepassing, then took off and rode her around our property on the trails in the woods. She was nervous out there by herself, but she wasn't too bad. We trotted and cantered and she was a bit more relaxed toward the end. She always obeys my requests when she's nervous, but sometimes I have to ask twice or redirect her attention because she gets so concerned with which way is back toward the barn.

After I got back, I put her cooler on and hand grazed her in the field for quite a while. Then my dad and I talked about where to string the fence to extend their pasture. We'll probably get to it in a few weeks. I might wait until the grass has grown in long before I turn them onto the pasture. And I'll probably have to do it slowly. Once the weather warms up a bit more, the grass in their pasture will really start to grow and they won't be able to crop it down so short. Right now, they are eating it as fast as it grows.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

eggs and art

Today we put eggs from our hens (we have 2 roosters) in our still air incubator. Hopefully in 21 days, we'll have healthy peeping chicks! I've been successful with this incubator in the past, but only mildly so...a good percentage of the eggs I've tried to hatch before died between 19 and 21 days. I think that they suffocated from not enough air circulation. I did buy a fan to install into it after my last hatch, but I ended up not hatching any more eggs until now, and after sending stuff home from ID a year ago, then having my parents move, we've misplaced the fan. Oh well. I poked a few more holes in the incubator hoping to increase the air circulation. If it doesn't work, maybe we'll find the fan and try again.

Went shopping with my parents today and found a print on sale at Menards. It's a really pretty painting, so I got it.

I love the detail on the horses and dogs...especially the snowshoes! This will go along with a really neat large print that I gave Todd for Christmas one year. That print was two young native American boys play hunting in the woods with their bows (which were authentically painted according to Todd, who is quite the expert on the subject). The title of that painting is called "school days".

Monday, April 20, 2009

Midwest horse fair, and gentling mustangs

I went to the Midwest Horse Fair yesterday and my dad did end up coming along. We stayed late and his shoulder did become a little stiff, but he did pretty well. We both had fun and were really glad we went. We ended up arriving around 3pm, had time to wander the barns (had to go see all the mustangs in their stalls), spend a LOT of money on a little fair food, and then get our seats for the evening events in the Coliseum.

I wish I had taken more pictures while we were wandering the barns. We saw some really beautiful horses walking by, and practicing in the roads and arenas. There was a gorgeous grey Andalusian doing the trotting in place thing (wish I could remember what it was called right now), the HUGE Priefert percherons, but the only horse I got a picture of was a tiny miniature being led among the crowds. It just looked so odd! So tiny!

There were lots of neat exhibits with lots of horse stuff, but I didn't plan to spend any money there, so we didn't visit them. We did like the moose and horse sculptures though!

I wasn't able to get any pictures of the evening events in the was too dark and the flash wasn't strong enough. We watched the reined cowhorse competition and the mustang makeover finals. Really we were just there for the mustangs, but because of how they split up the events (did half the cowhorses, then half the mustangs, then the other half of cow horses, then the other half of the mustangs, then the cowhorse awards, then the mustang awards), we had to stay for the whole thing! The cow horse thing was fun too, but wow, what a late night it ended up being.

The horse that won (can't remember the name, but the hip number was 20 ridden by Chase Dodd), was awesome. She was calm, cool and did everything her rider asked without a single moment of resistance. He prepared her well! Some of the others were a little hyped up from all the stuff going on, but they all did a commendable job. It definitely makes me excited about bringing home the new mustangs and getting started working with them! I also got another video to watch for ideas on gentling them...this one is Lesley Neuman's First Touch. So my gentling repertoire now consists of ideas from Kitty Lauman, Lesley Neuman, and Clinton Anderson (plus countless other snippets of videos, books, and TV shows with others working horses).

It's interesting to see that Kitty Lauman, Lesley Neuman, and Clinton Anderson all have very different methods for working with the horses, but each of their methods works. I'd say that Clinton's is the most aggressive and purposeful. I like Kitty Lauman's for the thoroughness with which she prepares the horse to be touched all over, but I was amazed at how quickly Lesley Neuman can get a horse relaxed and allowing himself to be touched, with very minimal work. I've definitely got some great ideas. The main concept that they all share of course, is when the horse responds how you want, you need to release all pressure. I really liked Lesley Neuman's video...she obviously really cares for and understands the horses. She was so confident, but in a very relaxed way. She seemed to be the most at ease around the wild ones out of anyone I've watched work with them. And I think the wild ones respond to that relaxed, calm confident nature. I have to remember to channel that.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Horse time

I need to be brief because I really should be working on physics right now. I took my dad to the hospital for his post-op checkup this morning(he's doing great).

Then I spent all afternoon and evening with the horses! Yay! It was so warm (lower 70's) that I just HAD to get out and play. The hardest decision I had to make today was which horse to work with because I know I'd only get time to do one. I chose Chico, since I decided he needed some extra attention after trying to not be caught yesterday. I saddled him up (first time this year with the saddle), and took him to the neighbor's outdoor arena. My neighbor and I talked about liberty work, then I let Chico loose and let him move around and explore, then asked him to lunge around me. When he stayed close and came to me when asked, I gave him a treat. He will do anything for a treat. If I'd had a treat on me yesterday, he probably wouldn't have evaded me...little turd. Then I mounted and walked, trotted and cantered the cloverleaf pattern to get him to slow down and pay attention and collect himself through his turns a little. There is definitely room for improvement, but he did better toward the end. He got pretty sweaty since it was so warm today. At the end, I let him air up and we practiced leg cues and side passing. He is now tuned up on leg cues and will move off a one leg cue rather than jumping to the trot like he was before.

After the arena work, I decided to go for a ride. My dad was at home (a couple miles away on the other side of our tiny "village" (only a couple hundred people at most live there). I though he might like a little visit from Chico and I, so we braved the very busy interstate bridge (had to go under it), road signs for construction, fire hydrants, lots of cars, grates covering culverts, and the super scary horse eating manhole covers. He was eager to go, but was very uncertain about all these new things. Chico's never been around this stuff before! We usually ride in the canyon, or take lessons at a facility in the country. These were all firsts for him. He was uncertain, but went ahead and was pretty level headed. The one thing that really unnerved him were the manhole covers. Some were in the roads, but most of them that we encountered were actually in the grass alongside the country road. All of the area we rode through has recently been annexed into the village, so they put in "city" water. I finally got sick of circling him around them until he wasn't afraid, so finally, on one of them, I dismounted, led him to it, knelt down and patted it with my hand, then he was brave enough to walk up and sniff it (I'd shown him it wasn't going to hurt us). Once we got to our place, my dad snapped a photo and fed Chico an apple. You can see that he was quite alert and watchful.

On the way back, he was much more relaxed, walked much more slowly, and this time, actually approached and checked out all the things that were making him concerned when we went through the first time. He's such a cool horse. It seems like everything was new at first, so he was on high alert, but after the trip back, it was the second time he'd seen things and he hadn't died yet (I showed him that the scariest thing was actually okay), so then he approached the others to assure himself that they were okay too.

After we got back, I led him to the pond because I thought he might roll in it. He was very excited about the water and pawed and pawed at it. Once he almost laid down in it, but I think he just wasn't quite comfortable enough. Maybe next time he will.

He was back to his usual self after I turned him loose...he waited for his pat before he walked off.

Oh, and tomorrow, I am heading to Madison for the Midwest Horse Fair. I have tickets to watch the EMM finals Saturday night. I'm excited, but it looks like I'll be heading down alone. That's okay.

Well, so much for being brief.

PITA Chico

My mom took this video of Chico's last 3 rounds when he had actually settled down and was no longer trying to evade me. I love the dogs trying to "help" me.

Chico was a pill today. I had just finished rinsing Catlow's hooves (and giving her a bit of oats at the same time), let her go, then was heading over to where Chico was munching hay to halter him. He saw me coming, waited and as soon as it was clear I was getting the halter out, he decided to walk away...he usually never does that! So I tried to cut him off, and he just swerved and took off. So then I spent about 10 minutes chasing him around and around (Catlow and Cody, just stood munching their hay and ignoring us). He kept trying to come in and get hay, and I kept chasing him right back out. At first, he was coming in dodging me, swerving all over, but after a while I could see he was getting sick of it, and he settled into a steady canter around the outside of where Cody and Catlow were eating hay. Then I stepped out in front of him and said "whoa" really firmly, and he stopped immediately and allowed himself to be haltered. I've never had to chase him like that to catch him (well, at least not since he was a baby before I started really working with him). Usually he comes right to me. Not sure what was up with him today. After I did his feet (I even gave him a mouthful of grain at the end), I took his halter off and he immediately turned away from me again (usually he waits for a pat before he walks away), so I caught him again, did a little lunging, then locked him in the new mustang pen to stew a bit while I did Cody's feet. Maybe I'm being too "mean" but he usually doesn't do that...I don't want him to start. I thought Cody was very funny today while I chased Chico around. A couple of times, he ran right over to her for comfort, and she completely ignored him...almost like "what are you doing coming over here when she's mad at you, you fool, you're bringing her with you!". I think that chasing him was necessary though...he obviously was testing me or thought that somehow he had moved up a bit or I had moved down a bit in the herd hierarchy. I had to remind him that was not the case. And Catlow took me chasing Chico very well. She can be a little sensitive about that and will run away if I get too "violent", but she only flinched once when I was chasing after Chico, and then she completely ignored the two of us running all over, even when I had to run right near her. The turd...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

thrush and hoof anatomy

I made it out to scrub hooves today. It took a while because I tried to trim up the frogs to get all the flaps off, but that was kind of pointless. I tried, but I find it hard to do...hoof knives don't cut frogs very well, or maybe my knife is just dull. I used hydrogen peroxide for the thrush today. It was fun watching the peroxide bubble over the frog and in the grooves. It really foamed! I used a little squirt bottle to apply it, and I applied it once to thoroughly wet the frog, then after it had softened up a bit, I rinsed it again to be sure to get peroxide in all the cracks. I think it worked well. Anyplace I could see that had been black colored was bleached to normal frog color after peroxide. I almost used up a hole huge bottle of peroxide on 12 hooves. I guess tomorrow I'll use bleach. And I found my old bottle of iodine (I thought it was gone), so the third day will be a rinse with that. I don't think the thrush is as bad as I was thinking it was yesterday.

Cody's front feet have the worse looking frogs. The widest part is mostly pocked, but they were like that last year too...I think they just haven't recovered. Her feet are the worse out of all the horses (she's domestic, so I'm thinking the mustangs just have good feet by genetics). She has the narrowest heels, the longest toe, the thrushiest frogs, and the flattest soles. She also has the smallest feet in proportion to her body weight. Chico's feet are the same size and Catlow's feet are actually larger, and they each probably weigh about 250 lbs less than Cody. She's only 6, and I've had her since she was an unbroken 2 year old. She was raised on a Montana ranch. She wore shoes during the summer of her 3 year old year and her 4 year old year (I noticed that spring of her 4 year old year that she was very tender on gravel, so I had her shod for riding, but the following year I switched to boots). The mustangs have never worn shoes with the exception of when Chico wore them for 3 weeks when we took a pack trip the fall of his 3 year old year. Regardless, Cody tends toward landing toe first, but I think she's getting better about that. Now she lands more flat footed, while the mustangs land heel first (they flip those toes right out and the heel first landing is very obvious). Maybe it's Cody's breed (she's a quarter horse), maybe it was the thrush I discovered she had really bad last year, maybe she's just really sensitive and her diet causes separation in her hoof walls, or maybe it's all a vicious cycle. Whatever it is, she will probably always need boots, although her soles are more concave this year than they were last year. I rode her bareback today through the woods after treating her feet. She walks out well, but whenever she hits something hard (small rock or tree root), it's obvious that it hurts her front feet. She's my challenge...the horse to work on to increase the health of her feet. I may try to find a trimmer I like out here to touch up her feet every few trims to make sure I'm doing it right.

This is a picture of her right front hoof last fall before the weather became wet. I didn't take any pictures today.

And I think a week of treating daily for the thrush then doing it once in a while after that will keep it at bay. The ground really is drying up here, so it should be good.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Well, all three of my horses have some thrush in all four hooves. The creases of their frogs are black and the frog tissue itself in the creases is peely and in the worse hooves, it's even chunky looking. Darn. I thought I saw thrush when I trimmed them, but I was hoping that opening the creases up might help it go away, but I think the ground is just too wet for that hope. So, today I got stocked up on some products I think might help fight it. My plan is to alternate days scrubbing with 2 different disinfectants. I'll try a dilute bleach solution (I've heard some people actually pour full strength bleach onto the hoof and let it dry to treat thrush, but I think that is too strong and would damage tissue), and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). I've never used hydrogen peroxide on thrush, but it seems like it might work...unless the bacteria and fungi have peroxidase or catalase (enzymes that break down the free-radical hydrogen peroxide to prevent tissue damage - that's why it bubbles when you put hydrogen peroxide on your cuts). H2O2 breaks down into water and oxygen. So I was thinking that the introduction of oxygen into the crevices of the frog might actually help kill the bacteria/fungi...isn't thrush an anaerobic thing? Well, it's worth a try.

In the past, I've also used iodine (seemed to work and is not as harsh as bleach). I'd use iodine again, but I'm out of 7% and didn't feel like going to the farm store to get more. I've also used a 50/50 mixture of antifungal cream and triple antibiotic ointment, and I think it probably works but it also seems to be slower than the disinfectant products. I don't know. All I know is that thrush is such a pain! I had to battle it last year too, and I think I still found some evidence of it in some horses even in late summer! And now I have 12 hooves to treat each day! Ick!

I'm curious what other's have used for the treatment of thrush. It also seems like getting their enclosures dried out would help too, but I'm just not sure how it's possible to really keep them dry in late winter/early spring, unless you stall them all the time, and I don't do that. Most of their pasture IS dry, except for right down in front of the barn where they come to drink...that's wet now because it was the last to melt (since the horses had hard packed the snow there). I'd better get on this though...In past experience, if you don't, it gets deep inside the frog and causes other problems (caused Cody to be short-strided).

Good news!

My dad had his shoulder surgery today (he had this done 2 years ago but he didn't rehab slowly enough and so reinjured it). The doctor thought they were going to have to reattach the tendon to the bone, but it turns out that it just has a tear (I think my mom said it was a longitudinal tear, but not sure), so they were able to just sew it back together. This means that his recovery time will be faster, which should be more do-able for my dad (he's a guy that can't sit around and do nothing for months on end...he'd go crazy!). Originally, the docs told him he'd be out of commission for 4 months, and wouldn't be back to fully functional for a whole year! He is apparently still sleeping off the anesthetic right now, but will be able to come home tonight, and he's going to be thrilled to hear the good news! But, we still need to keep on him about not using that arm!!!

Ms Turkey has started laying eggs. That's a sure sign of spring! I need to go over and do chores, but I expect the 5th egg today, although there will only be 3 eggs in her "nest" because I took the 2 freshest ones yesterday and ate them for breakfast this morning! They were yummy; Thanks Ms. Turkey! It's really too bad they are not fertilized because I'd be hatching them out instead of eating them...I love baby turkeys!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Setting up wild horse pens

Well, I keep saving this post for when I feel like I have more time to devote to it, but that's just not happening. So, during the internet adoption last month, my dad and I adopted 2 mustangs from the Sulphur HMA in Utah. They are being delivered to Marshfield, WI on May 22nd at an in person adoption that is being held there. There is a possibility that we might only be bringing 1 of the 2 home after we go pick them up (if they aren't what we expected, although I will feel awful if we don't bring both of them home together). If we don't take one of them, then that horse will be offered up at the adoption the next day. But, we adopted both and we are planning to take both, so I'll not discuss that anymore. Here are a few pictures of the 2 that we adopted. One is a 2 year old dun stud (soon to be gelding) that is 14hh tall.

The other is a 3 year old 14hh red dun mare who looks a lot like Andrea's Tonka...she has the sweetest face and I was so drawn to her.

Most likely, the 2 year old dun will become my dad's riding horse, but we'll see. I also have a friend (my friend who owns the buckskin quarter horse mare), who would like to get a mustang (I sold her on the mustangs for trail riding when I had her ride Catlow once :) We've talked about how this might work out for her because she doesn't have anyplace to set up a pen for a wild one. And in a year, her and her husband should be settled in their new place (they just moved to WY) and she'll be ready to add a third horse (she had 2 right now, but her half draft gelding cannot be ridden off her place because he is very fearful and super strong...he's hurt her pretty seriously before, and her new buckskin mare is doing well, but she has "mare-days". She'd really like to have a second trail horse that she can have friends ride along with her, and she also likes the way that I train this might be a good thing for all of us...I get to work with 2 new horses and gain some experience, but I don't have to commit to keeping them forever, and the horse would go to a friend...the only way I could imagine "getting rid of" a horse I've trained...I think I'd get so attached that I'd want to know all about where they went. So if they went to a friend, it's like not really letting go of them! I do think that our herd would be perfect with 4 horses...poor Catlow needs a horse to bond with. Cody and Chico have a super strong pair bond and they exclude Catlow all the time. I'm sure part of it is Catlow's personality (she's a outsider...a watch mare), but it'd be nice to give her the opportunity to be able to bond with another horse.

Our plan for these 2 this summer is to gentle them, then turn them out with the herd for the winter. If possible, I might get to saddling the mare, but I doubt I'll be riding her this year. We'll wait on doing saddle work with the gelding (since he's only 2 right now) until next summer. By then, my dad's shoulder will be healed up from the surgery he's having in 2 days, and then he can do work with he gelding.

So, in preparation for the arrival of the mustangs, we are getting 2 pens set up around our old tin barn. My mom and I started by removing tin from the backside of the shed to create a second opening. Cody is always looking for an escape route.

This is the sort of "before" picture although I didn't think to take this picture until after we'd removed the tin. This is "before" my dad leveled out the ground with the tractor.

After the base was leveled out more (but banked so that water will drain), we dug holes for the wooden posts. Our panels are only 5 ft high, so we had to do a little modification. We set in posts and bolted the panels to the posts a foot higher than they'd normally sit.

We used an auger to set the holes. It was really interesting watching the soil layers come up with the auger blades. Two of the corners had yellow sand underneath the black topsoil layer, another 3 holes were clay, and the last 2 holes were actually frozen ground yet.

This is the sort of finished product on the back side of the barn. We still have to install gates at the barn door, inside the barn (to separate the 2 horses), put 4ft of plywood along the botton of the barn so they can't get cut on it, and also put a wooden plank along the bottom edge of the panels (they now sit 2 ft off the ground and we worry they might try to go under). Then this pen will be finished. It might look a little cobbled, but it is pretty sturdy. Our panels are not the super heavy duty kind, so they will bend if a horse run's into them, but they won't break.

I really like having the backside of the barn open because it lets in so much more light. I think we may eventually put a door on it so that it can be closed up against the bitter winter winds.

And we still need to set the pen in front, but the ground is still frozen because it was insulated by so much hay and manure. In a few weeks, my dad will be recovered from surgery enough to drive his tractor, and I can do all the rest (setting posts, attaching panels...maybe I'll get my sister over to help or something).

And yes, this means that my horses won't have access to the barn while the new mustangs are here, but they weren't using it anyway. My dad said that this winter, they stood out in the driving snow and never once came to the barn to get out of it. In reality, they've never really had access to a barn before. In ID, their "shelter" was the side of a large pole barn that did a pretty good job of blocking the wind and providing shade in the late afternoon. Here, they have several hills and lots of trees for shelter. There are plenty of places to get out of the weather. And by the end of summer, they will all have access to the barn, so all is well.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Boring day

Today was not very exciting. I woke up early to work on physics, then put my birds in a new larger bird cage; the others were too small to keep them all in for very long. Then I rushed off to get my hair cut at noon. My aunt owns a salon and she is the only person I have cut my hair beside myself. I can do a pretty good job myself, but it is a treat to have my aunt do it. My hair is getting pretty long. My hair cut is long and layered...pretty much the same as before, but it hadn't been cut since I was home and my aunt did it in November, so it was due for a trim. I stopped at the farm on my way home and cleaned out the chicken coop and helped my dad stake out where the trailer would sit so he can think about the sewer lines. I looked into the pasture and said "hi" to the horses but didn't go visit with them. Then I came home and had to take a nap before getting back to was a long nap, so I better get off the computer and get to work... :) I'm reading about rotational kinematics...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Minerals, mustang heights, and moving mobile homes!

Today we had planned to move a trailer home that my parents bought for a good deal to its set up location. We thought that the ground had dried out enough to do it after the recent snow a couple weeks ago. The trailer was resting in the yard beside my grandma's house while we waited to move it. The moving plan was to take it through the horse pasture, around through the hay field, then back it down the little valley where it will rest. It would end up making a big S shaped path. My job was to run out front and tell my dad if he was going to hit anything as he turned. As we went through the horse pasture, one side sank deep into the mud and the trailer looked really tippy, but we made it through. We got it through the horse pasture, but only made it to the top of the hill in the hay field. There, we stopped and left it because parts of the field were really soft, and if it was that soft there, there was no way we'd be able to back it up the valley, which is even wetter. The horses were tied to trees to keep them out of the way while we took their pasture down. They were pretty patient, but Cody did paw some. And yes, this trailer is where my parents plan to stick my pets and I (I think they are already sick of us... :). Actually, the current plan is for Todd to move out later in the summer, and the two of us will rent this trailer from my parents. I'll come back from vet school on the weekends to meet up with Todd who will spend his weeks this fall writing up his dissertation. Then he'll defend, and then hopefully be able to find a post-doc position in Madison. At that time, we'll re-evaluate where we think we need to live.

I also checked the mineral cups today. It seems that the horses are eating the ones that have wheat middlings for filler. I'm guessing they are going after the wheat rather than the minerals. That makes if difficult to tell what they need. I guess I'll know they really need minerals when they start eating the ones that are just minerals and salt. I only added a little in the bottom of each feeder because we will be moving the cups soon as we rearrange things in the barn. This evening, I rode Chico around our place bareback. He is so fun to ride because he genuinely wants to be out there with you and looking at things. He wanted to keep exploring and there were a couple of times I turned him back on trails that went toward home, and he started slowing down and weaving and really hoping I'd let him turn back around so he could keep exploring. How fun is that! It's so much more fun than riding a horse that is like a homing beacon that you are constantly fighting to keep heading away from home (both Cody and Catlow can be like this at times). I have a question for you you think that this is a trait more common to geldings than mares? You know, the enjoying exploring and lack of barn/buddy sourness?

We went down to our pond and I convinced him to step in. Once in I could tell he really wanted to lay down and roll, but the weather was just not quite nice enough for me to feel like getting wet, so I urged him out of it. I think it'd be fun to take him swimming. Our neighbors have a deep pond that I'll try taking him through when it gets warmer. I think he'll really like it. We also did some trotting and cantering and climbed up and down some really steep hills. He did great, although I think that he doesn't quite have full range of motion in his previously injured hind leg (gash, sliver, pulled tendon...whichever is bothering him, who knows!) He doesn't limp, nor can I actually feel stiffness at any gait, but there were several times when we were just walking on soft ground (either sand or grass) where he stumbled on his hind...I think what is happening is he doesn't pick that foot up high enough so it scoots along the ground and he catches the tip in the softer footing and stumbles. I really think that's a result of whatever injuries he's had to that leg. I hope it continues to improve, but as it is, it is not debilitating. As far as how he behaved after not really being worked much this winter, I think he needs just a little bit of a reminder what leg cues mean again. He was wanting to jump into a trot with a one leg cue that was combined with a rein aid asking him to just move over. Other than that, he was very good and quite responsive for not really having been worked much this winter.

This is the first time I've tried to upload a video to blogger so bear with me...this is Chico chasing the dogs while I was playing with them earlier in the pasture.

Oh, and I measured my horses today!!! So, Chico's official height is 14.3 hands. He is actually just a hair above 14.3, but not tall enough to be considered 15 hands. I was pleasantly surprised. I knew he'd grown quite tall and that he's taller than he seems. My dad helped me measure him, so I know that our measurement was pretty accurate (we stood him in the garage and lined up the tape well). Next I measured Cody, but I did her by myself and on the gravel driveway so her height could be a tad off. I measured her to be 15 hands even. And Catlow, to my surprise measured out to be 14.2 hands, shorter than Chico! Chico's height is deceptive because he has such a short compact body that he looks smaller than he really is. Cody is only a tad taller but she looks huge compared to him because her body is so much longer (and of course, that means that weight-wise, she is quite a bit larger than he is). Catlow has a short body as well, but it doesn't seem quite as short as Chico's.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mineral feeders

Today, I installed a free choice mineral feeder for the horses. I got a sampler kit that includes 16 different mineral mixes. Some of the mixes have varying ratios of common minerals, while others are single minerals. Most minerals are mixed with salt, but some of them have wheat middlings as a filler.

After I put it in, I brought the horses in to show it to them. They blew into each cup, skipped over many, but did taste some.

Some illicited funny faces. Here, Catlow had just tasted the potassium mix and I don't think she appreciated it. She did try it again though, so maybe she needed it...

They all really liked the calcium mix and the vitamin A mix, although these 2 mixes had wheat middling filler instead of salt, so maybe that's why they liked it so much. I refilled it several times while they took turns licking it down. Todd said it makes sense that they like those 2 though because in ID, the forage is low in Ca, and hay is low in VitA. VitA is high in fresh foliage. They also tasted the sulfur/salt mix and the Selenium/salt mix, although they didn't eat a lot of it. This makes sense too, since they do have access to mineral salt, but it doesn't have selenium in it and this region is low in selenium. I'm not sure their mineral salt has sulfur in it either.

After a while, the wind blew stuff against the tin barn, so they all ran outside. Catlow continued to make her funny faces.

They soon returned to lick minerals. Chico also displayed the Flehmen response after tasting the calcium mix.

Goofy horse, then he went back to eating.

They soon grew bored and went back out to eat hay.

Catlow comes over to check me out, hoping for treats.

Later I caught Chico coming out of the barn with a smudge of white on his nose...he must have been tasting a different mineral than they'd tried before. I wonder which one it was. It will be interesting to leave them access to the minerals for a week and then go back and figure out which ones they've been after.