I’ve talked before about my concerns about my 3-year-old colt, Drew, and his issues with balance. He can’t get his back feet cleaned, because he can’t stay upright on three feet long enough. And he’s fine with the front feet. And he stumbles on his back feet when he’s running. Something seems wrong.
Today ended up being farrier day, because we had a schedule mix-up, but it all ended up fine. I told Trixie about my concerns, wondering if he was just lazy, as had been suggested, or if there was another reason.
Trixie felt around and tried a few things. She agreed he has a problem. His pelvis is tilted, with one side higher than the other. That makes it hard for him to put weight on one side, and hard to bend the other side. I asked about how he clamps his tail down, and he said he was doing something to his sacrum with than (I forget what; forgot to take notes).
Her theory is that he could have scar tissue or adhesions from being gelded in a popular way I’ll not describe here. That makes sense to me. So, she worked on him. He loved neck stretching but not foot work, which didn’t surprise me.
Not much helped his pelvic area, though his head and neck felt good, from his reactions. Trixie will have to come back Monday and do some other stuff.
I’m so glad I paid attention to the clues he’s been giving me, so I can get Drew in better shape before he goes in for training. Luckily there is good news! Drew let his front feet get trimmed pretty calmly for a first timer! I’m proud of my little boy.
Meanwhile, Apache slept through most of Drew’s stuff and his trim, even though we had a few little showers. He was a model citizen and even stood perfectly for his back feet!
The weather is so weird. It’s so pleasant outside that I can sit and enjoy Lee’s pond after spending some time with the horses. It’s August. It should be 105, not 77 right now. And the grass should be brown, dang it.
I lied. The sun was not fun, and I got pretty overheated, but it was another day out with the horses. Around mid-afternoon, Trixie showed up to finish working on the horses, which she couldn’t do last week because of the rain. Sara came over to join the fun, so it was a day of friends, too.
The buckskin buddies did very well getting trimmed. They knew what was going on, and handled it great. I know they’ll feel better with more even feet.
Trixie looked over the two new horses, and that provided some surprises. She estimated Mabel to be around 9 years old, younger than we were told, but she thought Amaretto was WAY older than we heard, like late twenties! Kathleen was absolutely right to call her “Grandma,” so she may have a new barn name! Both horses need to eat, which we knew, and she agreed that Mabel is probably a gaited horse, from her looks. Her guess was a Tennessee Walking Horse. That would be okay with us!
Mabel is not very friendly, though she’s compliant and calm. I hope she comes out of her shell when she realizes she has a home and is safe now. Anyway, Apache and Fiona’s trims were calm and normal. They sure are good guys.
Drew was a whole ‘nother story. It’s a good thing he didn’t need a trim, because he needs work on picking up his back feet. Trixie showed us a technique for practicing that without risking getting kicked, which I was really grateful for. I’m thinking our Andrew needs to get some training by someone who knows what they are doing.
Wait, what’s that you see Drew and Trixie in? Is that a round pen? It is! While Trixie was working, the panels that we aren’t using as cattle fencing magically turned into their actual purpose, a portable round pen! All it needed was the spare gate, and boom, it was set up. It will most definitely work for now, and make me feel a lot better working with Drew.
Trixie was kind enough to bring her lunging/long-line training equipment to show me how to use it with Drew (after a debacle in trying to catch him again after I let him go). I was a little relieved to see he was as hard to get started gracefully for her as he was for me, though she got better and better results from him.
He did walk a few paces, and she got him to slow down a couple of times, which was good progress. Still, he mainly trotted at top speed and cantered as he traveled around and around. The way Trixie was doing it, he could only go one direction at a time, because of how the long lead was attached to his special Tractor Supply halter. He was not pleased to not be able to turn around. That is where the special very long training whip came in handy. She could direct him without getting on top of his teenage jumpy self.
The best thing, though, was that she got him to stop on her instructions twice. Slowing down was not of interest to him, so that was hard. She ended the lesson at the above state, with him stopped a respectful distance away and paying attention to her, not his ideas. This was a great way to end.
Drew isn’t ready for fancier lunging (or however you spell this; I am confused), but I do know what equipment I need to get, and I do now have a round pen. He will be a lot of work, but I hope it will be worth it in the long run! And of course, I also have to work with Apache and get some running in with him!
So happy to have had the lesson and to have our pens all ready to use. It’s fun feeding the horses now (Kathleen loves doing it, so she mostly handles it…she’s very good).
Now that it’s getting near the end of the year, I guess we can look back and see what we’ve accomplished. I’m grateful that so many of us are still here, and sad to have lost others in this pandemic. But, in a more cheerful vein, I learned only today what my best accomplishment of 2020 has to be.
Happy Horse News
Yes, today at his farrier visit, Apache was declared to be in his best physical shape ever. Trixie kept repeating how good he looked. He also is in great mental shape, because she also remarked many times about how well behaved he was.
His feet look really great, and that’s a tribute to how carefully Sara and I have managed him since he got all lame after eating spring grass in the big pasture. I’ll be able to ride him now! I’m very grateful for all of Sara’s and Trixie’s help and advice (and everybody else’s, too), because apparently putting him in the little pasture with poor fodder and supplementing with last year’s hay was what he needed.
Not only did he lose the fat, but his coat is in much better shape now, too. Even his winter coat is shiny and soft. That may be the result of worming him sufficiently, for which I thank Sara very much. His mane and tail are growing back in well, too.
Best of all, now that he’s lost weight, Trixie can see what’s going on with his skeleton and musculature much better. This let her figure out what might have been causing his tail to veer to the left so significantly. So, she was able to don some gloves, put on some lotion, and manipulate some “intimate” areas to where they are looser, which loosened the tail.
We decided not to photograph exactly HOW happy the manipulation made him, but it was mighty impressive. We thought it might hurt, but apparently it was quite the opposite.
Through all the prodding, tail pulling, and leg stretching, Apache was a true gentleman gelding, albeit a happy one. In fact, when a leg stretch didn’t quite work, he cooperatively picked his foot up and angled it over to Trixie as if to say, “Try again, I’ll do better this time.” At a certain point, Trixie and I just stood there grinning at how great he was doing. She said that this is why she does what she does, seeing an animal with an improved quality of life like Apache has.
Not to be outdone, Fiona was quite a little lady as she got her tiny little feet trimmed. It had been twelve weeks, and all the little issues she’d had were also completely grown out. It amazes me how Trixie can sit on the ground and trim Fiona’s feet, with Fiona just standing there and picking up whatever foot is asked for. This is most un-donkey-like!
Even Fiona’s health seems better. Her normally pretty dull winter coat has shiny parts, too, though she’s still a bit plump. It just doesn’t take much to feed a donkey, even one as active as Fiona.
Trixie and I talked about getting her a little cart and sending her over to learn driving (cart, not car), if Trixie’s first donkey-cart training client goes well. I think that would be incredibly fun. However, we’re pretty sure Fiona won’t be thrilled at the idea of having to work for a living, having gotten by on cuteness for all these years.
I am SO proud of having the patience and receiving the good advice needed to help my horse friend back into good health. He’s back to cheerfully going wherever I lead him and doing whatever I ask him to. He and Fiona run happily together. And I get the benefit of the love my horse and donkey give me.
The good news, for sure, is that Apache is walking a lot better. The bad news is that between the vet yesterday and the farrier today, plus new medicine, he is one expensive pet. But, I knew going in that horses are not for the penniless.
Yesterday, while I was at the closing on the Ross house and helping stick colored glass in the floors at the Pope house, Dr. Amy came to the ranch to float teeth on all the equines and give them their shots. I was so sad to miss that, since I’ve never been there when their teeth were floated (that is when the veterinarian takes some sort of giant buzzing raspy thing and makes their teeth even, so they can chew more easily and won’t hurt their tongues on sharp teeth.
She ended up doing all of them, even poor Fiona. Of course, they said what a great donkey she is, etc. I felt sorry for her with the giant mouth-opening appliance in her. The good news is that they do sedate the animals for this undignified procedure.
Since I could not be there, Sara was kind enough to FaceTime me, so that I could see everything. That’s why my head is in most of the photos.
Apache was very good for his floating. I am sure it was easier to keep him still, because he wasn’t wanting to walk very much.
He also showed that his feet weren’t TOO bad by picking each of them up so that Mark (Sara’s friend who used to train thoroughbreds) could paint some goop on his hooves. I think he thinks Apache is gonna croak at any moment, but we think he is already getting better.
Dr. Amy prescribed some powdered Bute, which I went and bought for $45. Of course, he hates it. ARGH. We agreed he needs to eat empty calories, and she prescribed some food that fits the bill (though his current beet pulp does, too), as well as a supplement with a lot of turmeric in it. I take it, and it helps ME!
I haven’t seen the bill for that yet, but I feel a lot better having him with all his shots up to date and with an actual doctor looking at him.
Today, Trixie came by to do the long-awaited adjustments on Spice that she’d been holding off on until she got her teeth floated. As always, that was fun to watch. She also did Lakota, but I missed that part, because I was at the other work. Anyway, she said Spice is incredibly stiff. She’s coming back in a few weeks to work on her again. On the other hand, Lakota is in such great shape she could not believe he is in his late twenties. She kept gushing about his conformation and how great shape all his joints are in.
Fiona was declared fine, so she didn’t get any farrier work. YAY!
But, Trixie was fascinated by Apache’s feet. Like I’d noticed before, his hooves do not feel hot to the touch (usual for laminitis, which is his current diagnosis). She also said his hooves looked pretty normal, not like the hooves of a foundering horse. Hmm, that’s what I thought, too. Maybe we’ve caught the issue in time to get him better.
What she DID see was that the bony area in the middle of his foot, around the “frog” area was longer than the hoof. Now, that’s like walking on your nail bed. It would hurt like the dickens. She trimmed him all up (and again, he stood on three legs just about as well as he normally does), and we are waiting to see how he does. It’s a short trim (someone was concerned, so I am adding this), but will be fine and allow healthy hoof material to get to the end of his foot faster.
I’m sure none of the horses feel all that great, with all those shots, scary dental appliances, and hoof trimming. To be kind, we have delayed worming, which would be a final indignity, until two weeks from now. Lucky guys.
Today started out bathed in fog, and as the sun sets it’s still drizzling. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful day. You can find beauty anywhere if you just look around! Just look at all these beautiful water droplets!
Anita stayed over last night, sleeping on my gradually softening air bed. Shoot, that was a GOOD air bed. We had the nicest discussion, just Anita, Lee, and me, as we drank our hot beverages and finished cleaning up after last night’s delicious Thanksgiving dinner. I felt so relaxed, with Carlton curled up in my lap, and the fog draped over the trees outside.
I got Anita to walk the dogs with me and pose like she is out on the misty moors. It was fun to walk through all the tiny air droplets. It wasn’t too cold, so it was good walking weather.
So, I started yesterday feeling all fancy and business-like as we got our pictures taken by the Chamber of Commerce, because Hermits’ Rest Enterprises is the July Business of the Month. Mandi and I had on nice clothing and jewelry, and Mandi’s hair was all straight and fancy. (See the Hermit Haus blog for more details.)
Then, by mid-afternoon we were back at the ranch, and I had morphed into Cowgirl Suna, with jeans, boots, and hat to meet Trixie the farrier to look at the horses and Fiona. I asked Mandi to come along, since she’s the one who doctored Fiona and knows more about horse health than I do.
Fiona went first, and she was pretty good, though she did get the idea to try to file her own hooves. It didn’t work out.
Trixie said that Fiona’s “bad” foot was really interesting, and that she’d never seen one like that. The footbed still seems longer than the outer hoof wall. We went over a lot of possibilities for what could have caused it. We settled on the bag abscess she had on that front hoof causing the outer walls to not grow like usual, which caused separation and other issues.
I have a lot more genealogy stuff, but let’s take a break for some ranch slice of life fun.
Fiona and the horses were glad to see their farrier friend Trixie back after dealing with an injury. She is so good with them, and they love being adjusted by her, too.
While we waited for her to arrive, Mandi and I groomed them all for the first time since all the rain started. Apache had a huge knot in his mane that took quite some time to remove and left him with a frizzy hairdo. Spice had something similar on her forelock. Fiona was just filthy.
We took a little walk to where the grass was very much greener. As they chomped at delicious blades, I looked down the row of hay bales.
I realized it had rained so much that the hay was sprouting. It looked like a very big chia pet! This weather is so weird lately.
When Trixie arrived, she got to work. I’m happy Apache’s feet are better. He also really enjoyed getting chiropracted. His lip trembled, his eyes shut, and he sighed with happiness.
Spice has more pain, so some stuff bothered her, but she obviously felt better.
Fiona’s feet looked great, so she just wandered around and got into mischief when she wasn’t leaning on me.
We were joined by one of our two remaining roosters, Big Red. He’s really friendly and loves sunflower seeds (and Mandi, who feeds them to him).
Getting in touch with your emotional truth, by processing feelings to improve the human condition in the 21st century. Living out loud by my motto,"Triumphing over Trauma" 🌈
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