Monday, October 27, 2008

Red's and Lyra's Hoofs - May and Now

Here are pictures of Red's hoofs - May 13, 2008 to October 26, 2008. Progress has been slow but I do see some. We continue to battle thrush. I see progress on this front as well. I have done two trims since his "radical" trim by a friend in September. In the following photos the "May" shot is on top or on the left side of the photos.

Here is Lyra. Wow! I really see the difference in her feet. Her poor footsies were pretty messed up when I got her. Got a ways to go here too, she has thrush and we have just taken up the battle. Her wry hoof is much better.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It is Only Mid Autumn and Lyra is Losing Weight

It is early in the year for the general pasture horses to be losing weight, but the pasture is overgrazed, and grass is currently knee high to an ant. The arabs and thoroughbreds are starting to look gaunt. I am horrified that Lyra is one of the horses with ribs showing through their fuzzy coats. Here is my sweetie with her new Davis soaking boots. I've been feeding her 5 nights a week, obviously this is not working. She gets a small flake of hay and 8 pounds LMF Equine Senior. She is recently wormed and two weeks ago her fecal count was negative. Her teeth do not need any work. She just isn't getting the calories she needs to keep her weight stable. This sucks. Here is what the entire 40 acres looks like. So far, this is not a problem for Red, though he is looking a bit leaner than a few weeks ago.

Keeping my horses' weight up in the winter is my number two challenge in keeping them in the general pasture. (Number one is Red getting kicked on occasion.) Last winter, when I only had Red, I would put him in his stall at night so he could munch down on a substantial flake of hay and a bucket of Safe Choice. This worked beautifully. This winter I had planned to have my two horses trade off nights in the stall. Unfortunately, I have not made the progress I had hoped for with Lyra feeling safe in the stall. I don't know that will be a workable option. All facilities are full at Freshwater Stables.

Hmmmmm, as of tonight I am not sure just how I am going to solve this challenge. A short term solution might be adding rice bran to Lyra's bucket. My feeding routines definitely need work. The real issue isn't what to feed her, it is where to feed her so she feels safe and has the time to eat without having to be moved or returned to the GP when I leave for home

Edit: Since I have two senior horses with hoof pathologies and diet issues, I have got to improve my level of information about the equine diet. I just enrolled in Dr. Kellon's online course about nutritional requirements of the horse. Thie course is being promoted by Pete Ramey who, as most of you probably know, is emphasizing that diet AND a barefoot trim go hand in hand for healthy feet (read his article "Feeding the Hoof")

Here is her website with enrollment info. The course is a little pricey at $210.00, but should be well worth it.

Meanwhile, some of the critters at Freshwater are still enjoying the bounty of summer.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Herd Bound? Buddy Sour?

I've been thinking a lot about horses, their relationship with the herd, and what is there for us human types to learn. Let me tell you, I know the frustration of traipsing about after your horse as she, he, or it shows you their tail and scoots away from wherever you move. And I know that a bellowing neigh in your ear can put your ear drums into a week long state of shock. Both Red and Lyra took some work to get our exits from the general pasture and the herd to be drama free.

Red was classic. I would lead him out of the gate and he would swell to about 20 feet. He showed me that horses, as well as elephants, know how to "trumpet" - over and over and over again. I remember walking by one woman - my 20 foot tall horse literally dancing circles around me, and I see her face pale as she stuttered, "He s-s-s-s-sure is a lot of horse." Bout then I was thinking he sure is a lot of a pain in my butt - and he sure is one HERD BOUND pain at that. That was a couple of years ago. These days I call and Red comes from far, far away.

There are some amazing equestrians where I board. Their horses gleam with health. Some of those horses live all alone in paddocks and a few, sadly, are incarcerated in stalls. It is only a few horses, mostly in our general pasture, who subsist with minimal care, owned humans who rarely come to call. One mare, Red's beloved, runs whenever her owner comes. The poor owner has to go through all sorts of tribulations just to catch his mare. Once caught she is gentle enough. One day last summer I heard her owner ran out of patience and took a motorcycle into the GP, trying to run his mare into a corner. Ran all the horses all over before the manager put a stop to the bullshit. Lucky I didn't hear about this foolish maneuver until weeks after it happened.

Some people might call Red's sweetie herd bound, I'd call her pretty dang smart to resist leaving a herd where she is safe, has a specific role, and is held in high regard. So exactly why would she, or any other horse, surrender to the control of an idiot who has earned no trust. Why would any horse want to leave their herd or familiar environment under the control of someone who has no relationships to offer them, no alternative herd hierarchy to offer for refuge, support and clarity while away from the the larger group?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In the Redwood Barn

It is late, almost 9:00 pm, and I am the last human left sweeping up after my little herd of two. Red and Lyra have been turned back out into the general pasture. There is a slight mist, all is quiet but the the occasional stamp, snort, or crunches of horses getting ready to settle in for the night. Coyotes begin to sing. The mist thickens, the wild creeps in closer and closer. If I stand very still, there beside the manure pile, I will see the fox troops emerge from under the barn and out of the creek beds, intent on gathering any tasty bits left by the humans. Deer quickly move in, flying over paddock fences to check for left over hay and grain. In the general pasture the herd moves to the cover of the Redwoods. In the Redwood Barn I close my tack room door and, heart full of thanks, head home to my own bed.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What's In Your Tack Room?

My tack room is one of my favorite places on earth. Both my horses love it cuz they have figured out is where their crunchies live. If possible, they would squoosh their large selves right in next to me.

At Freshwater Stables we have a large, gorgeous old barn called "The Redwood Barn". It has four stalls but is primarily used to house tack rooms and as a place to tie, groom, feed, and catch up with your friends. My time to be with my horses and to ride starts about 5:30 each evening. I am fortunate to be single with child grown. The Redwood Barn's "Night Shift" is an eclectic group of women, strong of personality and full of passion for horses. They has become an important part of my horsey community.

I am constantly looking for ways to squeeze more into my tack room and to impose order on the amazing amount of horse gear and supplements that are crammed (artfully!) into a small place. My tackroom gets far more attention then my house. I strongly support the slogan "Horsework before Housework." Liz at Cowgirl Up recently did a beautiful piece about her gorgeous tack. Bet her tack room is equally impressive.

Me, I tend to ride in my Wintec Pro Dressage saddle, my Barefoot Cheyenne saddle, or bareback with a bareback pad. I have spent far too much money on saddle pads, but I want my horses to be comfy and I am a substantial woman for them to carry. I have a HAF endurance pad, Skito pad for my treeless, and a Supracor endurance which is my favorite. I want, no . . . I covet a Saddleright pad but can't really justify the expense.

Hanging on my tack room door are far too many halters, a couple of bitted bridles I rarely use, and my indispensable Dr. Cook's Bitless Bridle. Both horses love it. I also keep a vet/1st aide kit hanging on my door. It is purple. When I first got Red I practiced taking his vitals so I would be able to do it calmly in a real emergency. I find having my stethoscope, banamine, thermometer, bandages, and medicines in one place has paid off when the adrenaline starts to pump.

I realize I have five or six saddles stacked at the back of my tack room. I've mentioned a couple - also have a western saddle, an old eventing saddle, and a gorgeous plantation saddle I impulsively purchased on e-bay.

My tack room may be chaotic and crowded, but it is full of good things that relate to what I love best - anything to do with horses. I spend more time there then in my own front room

Lame No More

With huge relief I am delighted to announce that Red has recovered from his August mystery lameness and last night he walked, trotted, and cantered on the longe line with a steady gait - totally sound! Not that he was delighted to "work for his dinner", but he took his job seriously and did his best. Our healing plan seems to have worked. Now, how to ensure that he stays sound?

He was toned and looking buff when he got injured in August. We need to work on reconditioning cuz he has lost muscle tone after just cruisin' with the herd for seven weeks. Red has always resisted cantering. Recently I've learned that may be related to a sticking patella and/or a tilted pelvis contributing to his lowered back.

I figure I've got the following systems to tend to: hoofs, hocks, stifle, hip, and back. His damaged left rear hoof has grown a solid outside hoof platform and the coronary injury is about half an inch from the bottom of his outside quarter. The heel bulb is not longer swollen. I've ordered some Cetyl-M to help with osteoarthritic changes in his hocks and stifle. There is a good description of the product at Equine Ink and an informative article on locking stifle syndrone and Cetyl-M at Brenda Imus' "Gaits of Gold" website .

Plan to Keep Red Sound:
Hoofs - continue bringing back the toe and lowering his heels. Maintain bevels weekly. Continue with Farrier's Formula supplement. Keep rear toes short and rockered for early breakover to minimize stifle stresses.
Joints: start with Cetyl-M
Stifle: Condition muscles and start hill work - work on collection - aaacckkk - Red is a high headed, low backed horse who has never been taught to work within any kind of frame. We have been working on straightness and lateral flexibility. I really don't know how much collection is possible with this guy in his 17th year.
Hip and Back: I'm going to schedule some chiropractic work. We only have one person in Humboldt County but I have heard some very good things about him.

Red and I will be most grateful for any suggestions from our guests!

Now Red, his current main concerns are that HE is always first instead of Lyra, that he gets to be with his beloved Coal - boss mare of the general pasture, and that I remember what is REALLY important and don't forget his carrots, crunchies, or his nightly raid to steal Lyra's LMF Senior.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

OMG! An Award! Thank You!

This blog just received its very first award. Thank you Syndi and Cactus Jack from The Journeys of Cactus Jack! And thank you for visiting me, Red, Lyra and the wonderful horses of the Freshwater Stables general pasture.

The rules of this award are:
* Put the logo on your blog or post.
* Nominate at least 5 blogs (can be more)
* Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
* Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
* Link to this post and to the person you received your award from.

The best part about getting this award is that I get to pass it on to at least five of my favorite blogs.

1. I just discovered the amazing blog Margaret and Helen. Warning, this blog is vigorously blue and packs the wallop of Margaret's 84 years. NOT for the faint of heart!
2. An All Natural Horse Journey is a little gem of a blog written by a talented woman who is a journalist AND the creator of a natural horse treat company.
3. Turn Right at the Sarcophagus offers a view into the lives of horses in a different culture. While the author hasn't posted since July, please do visit this fascinating blog.
4. Visit The Barb Wire and journey through the Night Farm. I enjoy the exquisite photography and skillful storytelling.
5. This next blog shares my passion for spreading the word about the health benefits of iron free hoofs. At Rainer Hoof Recovery you can learn from the talented trimmer who is also the new mom to Spencer.
6. The Tao of Spartacus Jones: On Horses, Music, Life, Love, and Liberty.
7. The Eventing Percheron already has a wide following, and for good reason. I find the adventures of Brego and his human absolutely addicting
8. Coyote Road is an exquisite, thought provoking blog combining politics, spirit, and insight with a vast dose of the keenest wit.
Gaia's Horse opens the door to alternative forms of equine/human healing and communication. A delightful blog that offers insight into how to deepen our natural ability to "listen" to our equine partners.
10. OK, I just discovered this last blog. Y'all MUST visit. The name says it all:
I am an Imperial Horse who NEEDS Sugars.

Well, thanks to Cactus Jack and his DOR I've spend a thoroughly enjoyable morning setting up the above links to some wonderful sites. Hope you get a chance to visit them. Thanks for visiting Baba Yaga's Mirror!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Won't Go, No Way, Not Done, Gonna STAY!!!!!!

There are times my red horse just cracks me up. And makes me wonder about things. Like tonight, time to go back out to the general pasture but Red just stopped and refused to go one inch further. Now I could have gotten big and asked again and then INSISTED that he move in the direction I chose. But I didn't. Instead I remembered something Linda Wahland of Creature Speak said in our animal communication session. She noted that Red is very communicative and frequently tries to tell me what he needs or wants. Communicative huh? There can be little doubt what this face is communicating.

There are many little rituals that we have come to share and enjoy. One is Red picks up his feet for me to work on and Red gets a crunchy piece of carrot. If I am slow, he will swing his head around and look at me expectantly. Tonight, looking at my horse striking a "ain't gonna go" pose, I thought of how Red loves to end his evenings. We stop by the tack room and he snuffs around inside, finds the bag of LMF Senior by the door, and plunges his head into its depths. There he stays, unable to see a thing around him, while he takes the tolerated two giant bites. Tonight Red didn't get his "stolen" bites of LMF.

Back to the barn I trudge, I'm still feeling a bit under the weather. Red follows with a very self-satisfied horsey smile on his face. I tie him, unload the new bag of LMF, open it, and let Red stroll to the tackroom door. With great seriousness he snuffs around, sticks his head in the bag, and takes his bites. Ritual complete he comes to stand beside me looking content, looking sure of himself and something more . . . looking very sure of who we are together. Together we slowly mosey our way to the general pasture gate and say our goodbyes for the night.

Walking back to my car I questioned my "giving in" to Red. It was a long, hard won process to establish myself as leader in our relationship. Lately I notice a different feel to things. Red is becoming so visible to me, I am learning to see deeper, listen differently. Our relationship is shifting into a partnership.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Wind is from the North

and carries the feel of winter. Overnight, horses have slipped into their winter attire, fuzzy and solid against the cold. I haven't ridden for a week, but have worked on both horses' hoofs. Lyra has lost ground to her frightening memories, we are trying to recover the rhythm that soothes her fears as she stands in the Redwood barn.

When I enter the general pasture my many horse friends notice immediately. From a respectful distance they watch my every move, their hopefulness visible in their gleaming eyes. Many general pasture horses rarely see their humans. The pasture grass has become sparse and the cold eats up calories. I offer a friendly touch and an occasional carrot. I wish I could offer more to those who wait at the gate for owners who seldom visit.

Lyra and Red now come immediately when I call them. We have come early to the time of year when they rely on their evening crunchies (Safe Choice for Red, LMF Equine Senior for Lyra) to balance the scarce grass. Each evening I so enjoy the site of Lyra coming to me, it is been months since predator woman had to assist me in catching my sweet mare.

Coal - Red's beloved "boss" mare.

My friend Jerico eating blackberries.

Lyra Halfmoon coming in from the cold.

Red, about to get a touch up on his bevels.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Home Sick, Honey?

Working with children means wading through a lively brew of germs each day. One nasty variety has found a way through my defenses - I'm home with a sore throat and cough. Over the summer I heard about the healing properties of Manuka Honey. This is the perfect opportunity to experiment upon myself.

This jar of honey was destined for Red after I read that honey is a wonderful wound dressing. I used it on the very large burn he surprisingly got from a herbal product I had really loved. The honey seemed to definitely speed his healing. Last night I "borrowed" Red's honey and brought the jar home cuz I was feeling poorly by the end of the night.

Manuka honey is a product of New Zealand and is produced by bees who gather the pollen of the manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) tree. It has the healing properties of all honey (a sort of natural hydrogen peroxide) and the potent antibacterial and antifungal properties of the manuka tree.

Today my experiment is easy and tasty. The recommended use of manuka honey for a sore throat is to savor a teaspoon several times through the day. YUM!. Meanwhile, I'm going to be learning more about the uses of manuka honey. Here are some sites I have bookmarked.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The 56th Round

Begins today. Fall is my season, the time of my birth and if possible, home to my heart. Today was my birthday. In the past year my herd has expanded to include Lyra. I've become an owner-trimmer. My son bought his own house. And I've spent almost every day touching, smelling, and being touched by a horse. 55 was the best year yet. Welcome 56!