Horse Improvement May Be Expensive

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.

Apache declares’s he’s worth it. That’s me, watching him on FaceTime.
This is NOT dignified.

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.

I’m smiling, really, Fiona says.

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 made Dr. Amy laugh.
No fun for anyone.

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.

Lakota is Mr. Popularity.

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.

Your feet are fascinating, Patchy.

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.

Being a good boy and holding his foot up.

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.

Horse Tragedy, Dog Comedy, and Fairy Eggs?

Sometimes life sends you from one extreme to another so quickly that it takes your mind a while to catch up. Today was one of those days.

I was walking to the horses so I could feed them, accompanied by Vlassic, who was jumping around eating grasshoppers, chased a cow, and had a grand time. As I came past the bales of hay, I looked toward the cattle pen, to see how Apache was doing.

My heart stopped. He was lying motionless in the dirt. Fiona said hee-haw and he didn’t move. I quickly walked up and said, “Apache?” In what I’m sure was a stricken pet-owner voice.

I’m okay, mom. See? I’m trying to be funny and stepping in my dish.

He flipped his head up an whinnied. Whew. But, had he foundered? Could he stand up? Did I have to call the vet? He answered that question by hauling himself to his feet and shaking. He’d just been napping.

He’s up and eating!

By that time, I’d called poor Sara, who said, “You do know they lie down, right?” But she understood why I’d panicked.

Actually he is walking marginally better today. He’s still not great, though.

Fiona always stays close.

Meanwhile, Fiona kept nudging me. I turned to see what her problem was just in time to see a little black butt slipping into her water tub. Vlassic was apparently hot.

The tub, the water, the dog, all black.

Fiona was not amused to see him in HER water, but I went straight from my fear for Apache and his feet to laughing maniacally at the dog. That was great.

That was NOT funny. Also, this pen is too small.

We fed the other horses, who are on their best behavior, then went back to chicken world to get today’s eggs.

We’re over here, being good, eating our own food.

All the ladies and Bruce were fine, but there were no eggs. Then, on the ground, I saw this:

That is one small egg!

What the..? I went to the Googles and found that Ginger had laid what is called a fairy egg! They are tiny eggs, usually with no yolk. They are also usually lighter or darker than a hen’s usual egg.

Lee’s thumb, usual egg from Ginger, fairy egg. Yep, it’s darker.

They happen when something disturbs a hen’s reproduction process. Well, of course! Ginger and Bertie were quite disturbed by being cut off from their pen and all those new pullets showing up.

We will have to see if Bertie pops out a fairy egg tomorrow. Little do they know, but tomorrow they get a new boyfriend. Oooh. Don’t tell them.

About the Practically Perfect Palomino Pony

Here’s another fine thing that happened this weekend; we added a beautiful new friend to our little herd of equines, Lakota the Perfectly Perfect Palomino Pony. That is NOT his real name (I don’t know what it is, actually), and he is also not a pony, though he is of the smaller quarter horse type.

What’s that? Is that the sound of hooves? We are curious!

Sara, my horse partner and ranch neighbor, and I had debated this for a while, with her doing the most debating with herself. We only have so much pasture and don’t want to overload it. But, I have been promised fencing that will allow horses to hang out on our side of the ranch, which will help a lot with that issue.

Oh my gosh, that’s a horse! Oh my gosh, that’s a donkey!

Besides, Lakota is a horse who deserves to hang out with us. He already knows Spice, since they were owned by the same person for a while, and had spent time together in training, I think. He is beautifully trained by the same Parelli Natural Horsemandhip Method* trainer who trained all the horses we own, Kerri April, and used to belong to one of her family members when he was a fancy equine athlete. This means we don’t have to learn new ways to work with him; he’ll probably help train ME.

Mary and Sara chat as the horses check each other out.

Sara got Spice from her friend Mary when Apache’s occasional lameness issues made it hard for her to to the horsemanship activities she wanted to on him. Mary had found Spice to be a bit much too handle, but she loved Spice very much and only wanted her to go to a fellow Parelli-trained owner. Sara was it! I’ve enjoyed Apache, Sara has enjoyed Spice, and all has been well.

I have a star on my forehead.

Now Mary is moving to the suburbs and won’t be able to keep horses at her place anymore. She sold her others, but there was Lakota,** too old to sell as a consistent mount. She just wanted him to have a happy last few years. We said okay.

Lakota the Practically Perfect Palomino Pone, with the other guys behind him.

Now, Sara had never seen Lakota before, and was just happy to help out, since Mary said she’d pay all his expenses. We had enjoyed our old buddy Pardner very much, and he kept the other horses calm. We had hoped Lakota would be similar.

On Saturday, Mary and a friend brought him in their trailer. Sara took him and brought him down to the horse paddock. I could not believe what I saw. This may be the prettiest horse I ever saw in person, at least conformation-wise. He is built to be a barrel racer or other show horse. Compact and muscular (even at his age). His palomino coat is soft and shiny and somehow smells like vanilla.

At this point, I was saying, is this horse REAL?

Now, I’ve always been told that you get a horse based on personality first and looks second. DANG. He exudes peace and kindness, just like Pardner did! He is wonderful with people. How would he be with horses, we wondered?

This is the next amazing part. He went over to Fiona, who was wandering around looking well-groomed (briefly). They touched noses and sniffed each other. Hey. Hey.

Lakota: You seem okay. Amazing lack of burrs on you, donkey. Fiona: I’ll roll in more burs as soon as I get in the pasture, don’t worry.

When we put him in the pens next to where Apache and Spice were, he was all excited, as were they. He and Apache touched noses, then nibbled each other’s shoulders. Hey. Hey.

Spice jumped up and down and made mare noises. She recognized him! It took her a while to calm down, but soon everyone was standing nose to nose, happy as they could be. We left them alone to get used to each other with a fence separating them.

Hello, hello, hello.

Later that day, I got to ride Apache with the bit and bridle Mary conveniently sold to me, which was the same kind Sara was already teaching him with. I did not fail! I did it (and yes, I know there are other options; this stuff is all in Sara’s hands, not mine, since she’s training him).

After the ride, when everyone had eaten, we put everyone in the big pasture together. So much joy ensued that it brought happy tears to our eyes (yay, happy tears). They all ran around, then the paints showed Lakota all around the area. Then they suddenly realized they were in the GOOD grass and started eating away.

We’re all together!

It appears that Lakota is in good enough to do trail rides with us, though he has some heat issues and we will have to watch him. In any case, they all bonded really fast and don’t like being separated. That’s not bad. We are grateful to Mary for letting us share this grand old gentleman. He may not be perfect, but his introduction to our herd certainly was!

Hey, good lookin.’

*I do not endorse any particular natural method of training horses. I think they are all good.

**Why we end up with all these horses with Native American tribe names is beyond me.

Who Do YOU Trust? Or What?

This one’s just sad.

The cynicism I’m developing from watching national government representatives continue in-fighting and saying really horrifying things (I am now expendable, oh boy!) has just heightened my mistrust of all of them. Let’s work together, everybody.

Oh my. When I started thinking about trust, today’s word for UU Lent, my first thought was “trust no one,” then I came up with “trust but verify.” I think usually, I lean toward the latter. I have issues, I guess. I give people and institutions a chance, but it takes a long time for me to build up enough trust in anything that I don’t want to verify.

And for goodness’ sake, do not go look up memes about “trust no one,” unless you want to look at a lot of guns and implications of ideologies I personally don’t trust.

Trust Is Tricky

Even without pandemics, trust has been an issue with me. I certainly could not trust my parents, since they came from a society where lying to children was an accepted thing. I found out all sorts of stuff about what happened to my pets, what was really going on when Mom disappeared periodically, what really happened in relationships…etc.

I finally found a meme I could go with.

Later on I learned that I should have been much more careful in trusting friends and coworkers. So, I’m a lot more careful and do a lot more verifying, which I thought was pretty darned healthy, to be honest. But, then I went and read how it’s a relationship killer. Here’s what Nan S. Russell said:

Here’s the simple answer: when the outcome is essential and matters more than the relationship, use “trust, but verify.” When the relationship matters more than any single outcome, don’t use it.

“The Problem with a Trust-But-Verify Approach”

Who to Trust

I’ll tell you who I trust! My animals. The dogs are just so sweet and obviously trust US, so I trust them. And a relationship with a horse just isn’t worth trying for without trust. Apache and I have done a lot of trust work, and even though we misunderstand each other sometimes, we trust each other. I am SO glad for animals.

Today’s Instagram features Fiona, who still has one icky leg.

There are people I trust completely. It’s a risk, but to live with people, you have to trust them. It would be hard to shake my trust for the people I live with in both my houses and the people I work most closely with. They have all earned it.

Sigh, it’s time to stop. I’m getting upset about how we can’t trust our fellow humans to take care of each other. Instead, I’ll end with these nice keywords to live with. They are perfect right now.

This sounds like a great motto for today and for the future.

Donkey Legs and Other Problems with Dampness

Poor Miss Fiona! When I trudged over (okay, I drove) to feed the steeds after finishing my newsletter draft, I noticed one of them did not slog up to greet me, and it was her.

The horses were clean on top and muddy on the bottom after yesterday’s big rain, but were happy to see me. Fiona stood in the middle of the paddock and brayed at me. Hmm.

They’d also gotten locked out of the pens, so were excited at new grass (at most they were locked out two days).

I got their supplements all prepared, and the horses dug in, but FiFi just hobbled a couple of steps. Uh-oh. I went out to her and eww! Every single leg was raw and bleeding on the outer side. Of course there were also flies everywhere.

I took pictures and sent them to Sara. We pondered. Did a dog go after her? No, they aren’t puncture wounds. Did she slip in the mud and scrape her legs? Well, how would that happen to all four?

Ick.

We’ve narrowed it down to rain rot that she’s making worse by gnawing on it, or lice or something. I’ll look again tomorrow and try to get better pictures to send the farrier. In the meantime, I cleaned her as much as I could and fly sprayed her. More news as it happens!

Damp Hens

I felt badly for the chickens last night when it rained so hard, but they were fine today. I need to get their food covered better, though, because it keeps getting wet.

We’re happy hennies.

It is still damp and foggy now, so I just put food on the ground with their delicious scratch and leftover veggies.

They still aren’t laying, even though they have grown a lot. Oh well, they are good diversions.

Playing! Fun! Okay!

Today’s word for UU Lent is play. Great choice, since Lee and I are taking a birthday present road trip to visit a new place and see some relatives. It’s my gift to him. We hope to get Lee relaxed and me out looking at water. Fun.

As you can see, he’s thrilled.

I’ve always tried to incorporate play into my life. Some of the goofy stuff I do, like weird hair colors and holiday-themed nails are play for me and a way to encourage others to bring some fun into their lives.

Tina really enjoyed making these St Patrick’s Day nails.

My two main sources of fun at this point in my life are the Master Naturalist activities and my animals. I learn so much in our MN meetings and classes, and I have fun sharing it with others.

Boy did I learn a lot about plant ID a couple weeks ago.

The dogs and chickens make me play. They can’t help it. But true play is when I’m with Apache and Fiona. They both love to play, and I love going along with them. They just like to hang out together. Like yes, when Trixie the farrier came, we spent most of the time cuddling and nuzzling.

My guys.

Apache loves when Trixie comes and he gets to get in those weird positions and then feels better. I think he thinks they’re playing.

Today’s Instagram post shows a horse playing!

Riding just exhilarates me. It’s the best playtime ever.

One More Way to Play

I must admit that some aspects of our work renovating properties is like play. I do have fun picking out colors, fixtures and such. And Chris and I tend to play pretty often. Yesterday, we decided to check out the well behind the Pope Residence.

Look! Water!

It has water in it. We are now working on ideas for what we can do with that. We both admitted we had wanted to look in there for a long time.

I’ll have a Pope update soon. Until then, here’s a hint of what we hope will be the next project.

Hmm. Looks like a house…

A View from the Top…of a Horse

I’m never going to be a great equestrienne, and that’s fine with me. I started way too late, ran out of money for lessons, and don’t have enough time to really get to be great. But, I’m better than I was, anyway!

One of the things I’ve always wanted to be able to do when I’m out riding Apache is to take pictures of some of the interesting plants, wildlife, and scenery I see when I’m out riding around the Hermits’ Rest. Up until recently, I haven’t been comfortable taking my phone along on rides, because my phone is a good one, and I could break it if I fall.

Walking the line of evergreens.

Sara has an inexpensive phone she uses, so that if there’s an emergency she can let our spouses know to come help. I just relied on that, until a few weeks ago when Sara ordered us some really nice holders that have a water bottle and a cell phone pocked in them. They attach to the front of the saddle and can be secured really well, so they don’t bounce and irritate our mighty steeds.

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Whirlwind Family Visit

It’s not even noon on Saturday, and we’ve already had a busy and fun weekend. This may be a long post, but it’s just nice to write about something that went right. I’m hoping we were able to be good to others and relieve a bit of stress for them.

Yesterday, Kathleen and Chris came by, with Lee’s brother Jim and Eva, who is usually the caregiver for Jim’s wife, but was along on this trip to help out with Jim. Also among the visitors was 14-year-old Joe, Eva’s son, who gets to do some heavy lifting and helping out.

The gang’s all here.
Rose Gold. It’s subtle.

We all had a nice lunch at Dutchtowne, of course, where I spent a bunch of time taking pictures of my hair, because the light was good. I did also take a picture of the group.

After the business reason for the trip, in which Lee, Jim, and I signed a bunch of papers and Mandi notarized them, the family ran off to do errands in Temple (Vlassic asked to go with them, so he did, that traveling fool), while I tried to work as people took down the ceiling in our offices. I was forced out due to dust. This will be a topic of the Hermit Haus Redevelopment blog shortly.

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Guest Post: Donkey Mayhem

by Mandi Shuffield

All of you who are following the woes of Fiona the mini donk already know that she has been dealing with a list of ailments (one, I really wonder about as far as accuracy in diagnosis goes) for a couple of weeks now. I’m going to recap just a bit, and explain why I’m involved at all in this.

I worked on a horse farm with many horses all at once, from the time I was 14 until I was 28. Before that, I grew up in the saddle with my Pa. When you deal with that many horses at a time, someone is always injured. Sometimes it isn’t bad, other times, it can be severe. I’ve seen simple scrapes, bone breaks, one stallion who put a T post through his chest and had to have wound care for months, colic, mares struggling with birth, abscesses on all parts of the body, mild and severe hoof problems, etc. I sure haven’t seen it all, but I have seen a lot!

Here’s my horse, Ricci, who I nursed back from a long illness.

I learned how to make first aid items from scratch in the field to save a life and stop bleeding. I’m fairly confident in what I can do. I also know when I need more help, a second opinion, or I do not have the tools/gear/equipment to handle a situation. 

How I helped Fiona

I originally felt like Fiona’s foot was trimmed too short. With the gap that developed in the way that white line disease (hoof wall separation, seedy toe) does, I felt like she may have developed that.

There is no conclusive evidence as to what exactly causes white line disease. Theories go from poor diet, wet/humid climate, soft feet, trimming the toe too short, injury/abscesses, and the list goes on. What the veterinary world has seen is that there will be horses and donkeys that develop this disease that do not fall into one category, or it seems to come out of nowhere. It develops on healthy feet in dry climates as well, although it is not as common.

Fiona’s foot

It is characterized by the gap in the hoof wall that was shown in the picture, and the gray, crumbling of the soft tissue behind the outer wall. Fiona had that, but she also had a bulge under the foot that seemed like she couldn’t stand flat on it. The cold water treatment probably helped by relieving the inflammation. Horses and donkeys typically do not become lame from white line until it becomes severe and the cannon bone begins to shift down. 

Continue reading “Guest Post: Donkey Mayhem”

Fiona Saw the Doctor

Hey there. It’s a three-blog day for me. Here’s a quick update on our donkey friend, Fiona. The vet finally arrived around 4:30, right when Mandi had just left to do something for her own family. Sigh. But, it worked out okay.

Also, Mandi hit a traffic jam

According to Dr. Richter, whose father apparently treated Mandi’s late horse, what happened was our first theory: her hoof had been trimmed WAY too short by the farrier. It’s made her swell to where the inner part of the hoof sticks out too far.

He gave her some pain medication to give for the next five days, to see if that helps. The cure, however, is for her hooves to grow some. Mandi plans to wrap her hoof again, and we are leaving her in the more dry paddock for the next few days, since more rain is on its way.

Fiona did NOT like the sound of the rain falling on the shed, so it got hard to medicate her. Whew, it all was a success, and we are now just waiting to see if she needs more treatment or not.

I was waiting and waiting!

I’m so grateful that she got looked at and it wasn’t the fungal infection. We now want to avoid getting one until things dry up!