Still Working on Horse Feet

I’m working on horse feet in more ways than one these days. Animals have a lot to teach us, both scientifically and intuitively.

In science news, we learned a lot about horse feet (hooves) with Trixie’s latest visit, and we learned that Fiona loves Sara more than we ever realized. She spent a long time leaning on Sara and asking for hugs.

My feet are fine, I’m just spreading love — Fiona

Trixie has most of the damaged area of Apache’s feet trimmed off, but we were all shocked to see how much hoof separation he suffered. It’s scary. Laminitis can be deadly. We’re lucky we still have him.

The black crack shows damage.

We also talked about how he always does a little buck and stumble when transitioning to a canter (which explains my lack of cantering experience). Trixie did more chiropractic work in his spleen area. As always, Apache was a trooper and relaxed happily when it was over.

Whoa, I feel better.

I got to watch a little of the work Trixie did on Ace. He wasn’t used to what she did, but he got a pretty funny look when he realized he felt better!

What are you doing?
Sara listens to Trixie explaining what good shape Ace is in.

Trimming his feet was a bit difficult, because it had been a while since his last trim, and I heard Ace’s feet were a bit sore yesterday. Today he was walking fine, but I didn’t see him run. it just shows how important horse feet are!

Apache has never had such fine looking feet before!

So, yesterday I went off and rode Apache alone again. He was feeling okay, but didn’t want to walk on the hard driveway. I don’t blame him. It was pretty challenging for a number of reasons.

First, it was really windy, which often gets the horses on edge. Second, our dogs were out, barking and chasing cows, which puts me on edge. And third, Fiona was in a mood. A really annoying mood.

Once we got near the front cattle tank, she acted like she was full of beans. She ran up and down the sides of the tank, ran back and forth in front of me and Apache, while braying endlessly, and kept doing sudden turns and pivots. Once or twice would have been fine, but she kept it up for ten minutes or more.

I tried to be good. But I love grass.

Apache had already been a bit of a handful, focused on grass and not me. I was a little worried she’d spook him. So, I stopped him and breathed deeply. He just watched Fiona acting like she had a bee up her butt. I counted that as a win.

It was still a challenge to get Apache to pay attention to me. He would duck his head, spin his feet, and do what he could to avoid my instruction. I kept asking, then resting, then asking, and finally, I could feel him settle down. He walked back to the barn calmly, like nothing had happened out in that windy pasture. I learned a lot. I can trust Apache even when he’s antsy, and we can get through weird days. Whew.

All’s well as long as us horses and people keep learning from each other and moving those feet.

Stinky and Dangerous Ranch Drama

Just when you think everything has calmed down, of course it has actually has NOT. These are not calm times at the Hermits’ Rest!

Last Night’s Stinky Drama

Last night I took a lovely, calming bath to help with sore horse-riding muscles. Right as I got my pajamas on, I heard Lee yelling at the dogs sort of frantically. I figured he was dealing with whatever it was and went in the bedroom. At that point, Carlton ran in and dived under the bed. Immediately I knew why.

We would like to go chase something, please. Maybe something stripey and stinky?

The dogs had upset a skunk. We have lots of them out here, and usually all is well, but apparently when Lee went to let Gracie (the little white dog of Kathleen’s) in, she had just discovered a skunk and ran toward it. The other dogs followed, naturally. Lee says he heard Penney make a yelp, then she acted like she was convulsing. That seems to have scared Carlton enough that he turned around, so didn’t get skunked in the face.

I stink. I’m trying to lick all the stink off.

No one else got close enough, and Gracie dodged the pew-pew. That was the end of the calm evening, as I ran to find something resembling tomato juice (it was plain tomato sauce) and trap the dogs in my office bathroom. Lee and I made a good team and got both Penney and Carlton smelling less awful, but the house is still a bit odiferous.

That red liquid bath soap was pretty tasty, I must say.

Carlton was pretty irritated with us for a while, but eventually settled down, and we all got some sleep.

I still smell bad, don’t I?

Today’s Dangerous Drama

Today, meetings started at 8:30, as usual, with no scheduled let-up until noon. I was in the middle of doing some Agile ceremony or another when I got a call from Sara. This does NOT happen during working hours, so I knew something bad was up. She said, “YOUR horse has gotten out again. I can’t catch him. YOU need to deal with this.” It took me a few seconds for this to sink in, since I wasn’t expecting that, at all. I didn’t mean to upset Sara, but I had to figure out what to do AND do my part in the meeting. I did not multi-task well.

As soon as I possibly could, I left the meeting and zipped over to the horse area. There were Apache and Fiona, in the middle of the greenest and longest grass for miles around. EEK! Didn’t I JUST get finished treating him for last year’s founder episode from eating too much green grass? That’s exactly the wrong thing for his delicate constitution!

This pretty ragwort was in the middle of the patch of incredibly lush grass they were eating from.

I quickly got the halter and some horse treats and cheerfully approached the naughty ones. Fiona was all like, “Hey, good to see you, Suna!” but Apache moved to an even longer patch of grass. I got worried he was going to leave, but no, as soon as I called him and offered the treat, he picked up his head, walked over, and let me halter him. Thank goodness for all that training.

I got them back in the pen with some hay. I could not figure out how they had gotten out, because I recall putting the safety chain on the gate, in addition to shutting it. We know Apache can move the latch, because he’s done it before. My guess is I didn’t wedge the chain in hard enough and he figured out how to lift it.

We would prefer to be out in that grass.

So I went out and found an old lead rope. I proceeded to wrap it all over the gate latch in various ways, just daring him to untie all those knots AND the fastener I put in the safety chain.

Try and unwrap THAT, horse. Note there’s a fastener attached to the end of the chain, which is now firmly wedged in, as well.

I went back to finish my meetings, along with googling grass colic and laminitis from too much green grass. I also called the vet. Around noon I headed back over there, to check on things. Apache was happy to see me (both he and Fiona peed in greeting), and I got him to walk up and down the pen a couple of times. So far, no signs of intestinal distress or lameness.

This is me, proving I can still walk just fine.

I canceled my trip to Austin for this week, so I can continue to check on him every few hours. He now has access to his dry-ish paddock again, so maybe he won’t be so starved that he’s driven to escape again.

I have nowhere else to put it, so look at this excellent moth I found last night! It is, I believe, a lettered sphinx moth.

I’m hoping that the drama for the week has all happened and I can get stuff done now! I hope you had a good weekend!

Just Some Love

I wanted to share how pleasant it was today when Trixie came by to trim the horses’ hooves. When it was Apache’s turn, he was so relaxed that he kept leaning his big horse head on my shoulder. When I had to move, Fiona then showed up, and after a little fooling around, she let Apache rest his head on her. Such friendship.

They both have closed eyes.
Goofing off while getting hooves trimmed.

I made him happy by letting Apache graze while Spice got looked at. At least he let me get a couple of pictures of his Arabian-esque profile and his newly slim physique.

We are considering letting Fiona become a mommy to a pony mule. Wouldn’t that be cute? Another buddy for the rest of my life!

Sorry for all the horse posts. Apache’s energy really helps me feel centered and grounded. Who can’t use that today? Plus, horses smell so good and let you brush their hair.

Bravery, Equine Style

Apache is one of those horses who does better around his friends. He’s braver than he thinks, though. Today we walked around, and he happily investigated a truck and two giant tanks full time f a mystery liquid (probably fertilizer). He noshed on grass, since he’s grass deprived.

Hee hee. Fiona knocked into Suna and messed up her only photo of me.

But, as soon as I walked over to the side of the property where Spice was, he remembered to be scared. I just had to laugh as he called to her, pranced, and was totally ignored.

I reminded him that Fiona and I were still there, and he settled down, eventually. Then, when I put him in his pen, he realized Fiona wasn’t there! Neigh, canter, tail swish!

I’m coming, already! I was just enjoying some solo Suna time.

They acted like star-crossed lovers when she came in with me. Then I got to hug each of them a lot. I sure love them.

Failed selfie.

Now that I’m all goal focused, becoming a better horseman is something I’ll focus on. Did I do great today? I give myself a C+. I didn’t get frustrated, though, and that helps.

My Best Accomplishment of 2020

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.

This is a hint

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.

Here is Apache behaving well during a delicate procedure on his back quarters. You can see his heart-shaped chest patch.

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.

He is at his ideal weight!

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.

Yes, it’s a horse’s butt, but it’s an important image. That is a straight tail.

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.

Whee, my tail feels good. So does the rest of me.

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.

“Who am I, chopped liver?”

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!

“Look, as long as someone is petting or brushing me, I can stand here all day. Treats never hurt, either.”

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.

“You’re gonna WHAT?”

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.

Sunset Ranch Update

There hasn’t been an update on our ranch citizens in a while, and tonight’s sunset inspired me to write one.

There’s a bonus dog in this photo!

Last night’s solstice sunset was apparently amazing, but I was busy lighting candles and missed it. Luckily a friend took great photos for me to enjoy.

The sun sets right on our road.

As the sun disappeared it looked like a tribute to the universities I attended (orange and blue!)

Shiny.

Anyway, most of the ranch residents are doing well, but we’ve discovered a new chicken killer, our resident harrier. No wonder they call them chicken hawks. Sigh. But, as always, we have a plan. Since that hawk only goes after them out in the lawn, we’re going to keep the chickens cooped up for a while.

A project!

The newly arranged coop is getting its fancy new roof. Once it’s done, the residents will get locked in. That will annoy Gertie the Guinea a lot, but we want him alive! And hopefully it will remind my buddy Bertie where she should lay her eggs.

Harvey was a great supervisor, I’m told.

And to end on a happier note, I got home early enough today to play with Apache and Fiona. Apache was thrilled, and showed it his usual way.

Oh boy! I get to play with Suna, after I pee.

We got to go for a nice walk, and then I got him to run and trot around for a while. He seems in good shape.

As we were trotting, Fiona got all excited and started galloping around us in circles, hee-hawing away. After four or five circuits, Apache and I turned around to trot back. Fiona then zoomed into the race and began bellowing at Ralph’s cows.

I was wondering if I would ever get her back in the pen, but when Apache and I went in, she barreled in with us. I guess the both had some fun! So did I.

Enter Here for Surprises and Adventures

Hmm, the adventures thing may be exaggerated a bit, but I did get a new gate to go from our part of the property to the rest of the ranch. In addition, Chris smoothed all the dirt that had been disturbed when running the water line, and did a bit of grading, too. The chicken house area looks marvelous.

It’s all smooth now. At the rate the Bermuda grass grows, it will be covered in a week to ten days. Notice the feathers on the ground, which I mentioned in my previous post. It’s your fault, Bruce.

The highlight of the day was seeing this big gate that swings open mightily and allows me to easily head to see the horses. We had the gate already, so it didn’t cost anything. It’s very sturdy on the hinge side, since Chris drilled a big ole bolt through the roof support pillar. The other side is only temporary. The fencing project is not done, but at lease those of us who have to go into that pasture can do it easily (thus, Jim could drive the riding mower over the the horses to mow this morning).

I can now go from here to there without crawling under a fence or climbing over a fence and nearly knocking it over.

The entire family was pretty giddy about getting the new fence, as Lee shows here.

That man cracks me up. And there’s Alfred before I pulled those clumps of hair out.

Surprises and Adventures

I’ve used the new gate to go visit the horses twice already. Last night, I went to join Sara to feed them, and I got quite a surprise. In the field where the 18 cows should be, there were just three cows, each with a little white baby.

Who the heck are they?

These are not the 18s. First, they were afraid of me. Second, their ear tags were in the left ear, not the right. Um, where were my friendly cow buddies? Where was 18-1, bravest calf ever?

As I walked up to the barn, the Vrazels were driving by. They warned me of another surprise, a large cow and her newborn calf were in the pens. I said, hey, um, where are the 18s? Tyler laughed and laughed. “They’re in Oklahoma!”

Oklahoma? Yep, they sold them all and trucked them off when I was at work one day. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. Cattle ranching. Not for the sentimental. I am sure they got a HUGE payday out of those young cows, all of whom were due to calve in November. But still. Sniff.

On I went, and sure enough, there was a very large red Angus cow with a very small and shiny black Angus calf. I blurted out, “Hi, Sprinkles,” and Sara asked if I had to name everything. I guess I do. In any case, Sprinkles is cute as can be, and seems to have recovered from being sick and needing to be penned up. Mama, on the other hand, was mostly pissed off.

Sprinkles and I would like to leave, now.

She mooed and snorted and ran around until we left.

This morning, I came back to do some horse fun, around 9 am. It was NOT hot outside! But, dew drenched my shoes, since I wore the wrong ones. Sprinkles and Mama were still there. Between Sara’s dogs and Lakota having the utter gall to stand quietly tied to the gate, she was in a huff.

Lakota just stood there and ignored her. A real quarter horse! We proceeded head off down the race, to see how Apache would do. Sara rode Lakota, who plodded along like a livery stable horse and was generally uninterested in anything. I led Apache (hope to get riding permission soon). Here’s where it became and adventure, the good kind.

We walked all the way down the race, the place where he was refusing to ride earlier, and the place where he has been all nervous and pushy when we walked for the past month or two. Today, Apache walked beside me, not in front of me and not behind me. He stayed about two feet away from me. He did stop to get a mouthful of grass, but started right back up, every time. He did not crowd into me. He did not try to turn around. He did not rush ahead, or refuse to move forward.

He completely ignored all the “scary” parts of the path where there are big ruts. The scary tree got a nod. When all of the 19 heifers came thundering over to check us out and walk along with us, he and Lakota both looked at them, then kept going. The giant bull didn’t phase them. DAMN!

Sara and Lakota, with Fiona-bomb.

We then went on out to the big pasture where it floods (the bottom). We all walked and looked at stuff. Sara’s dogs came along, and no horse paid the least bit of attention. Even Fiona didn’t dawdle and pitch a fit. She followed right behind us cheerfully. Every time we went through a gate, everyone was fine. Even when Jim drove by on the lawn mower, they just stopped and looked for a minute.

WHO WERE THESE ANIMALS AND WHERE DID MY JUMPY HORSE GO?

I have no clue. Sara and I tried to figure out what was different. Well, we had Lakota instead of Spice…but Apache likes Spice. It was morning, not afternoon. He wasn’t starving. That’s all we could come up with. My attitude is the same (I am pretty calm even when he’s jumpy, to try to keep him calm).

We’re just in a good mood. What can we say?

I’m just going to have to accept that we had a wonderful morning, got lots of exercise, and ALL enjoyed ourselves (even Lakota, I think). I look forward to more of this kind of adventure and these kinds of surprises (but I do hope Sprinkles and his Mama go back to the pasture soon; she didn’t enjoy Sara and me pulling up some grass burs right next to the pen, either).

I hope you have some bright spots in your weekend!

Human-Animal Connection

I’m baffled sometimes about how humans managed to connect so deeply with some other animals.

Fiona wanted to see my sister so badly this evening that she barged into the hay area just to be near her. Why? She’s full of love and wanted to share? I don’t know. But I do know equines sense our feelings.

95% love, 5% sass.

And tonight, though I want to go to sleep, I can’t move, because two dogs are glued to me. They’ve done this all weekend, perhaps somehow sensing I could use some comfort.

Carlton is on both of my legs. Penney is glued to the right one.

Yep. There’s a real connection between humans and animals. Even the chickens! It’s made my life better.

Do you have any stories?

Horse Bites and Sitting Donkeys at Sunset

I’m still laughing inside after a fun evening romp with our trusty steeds, even though there was some drama in the middle. And, um, my hand hurts.

We met at 7:30 to do our evening horse chores together, which we always enjoy. Everything went fine, and we paused afterwards to watch Spice and Lakota walking together like old friends, and to look at how beautiful the sunset made sone eastern storm clouds look.

Romantic cattle chute

Suddenly, we heard coughing, rather loud coughing. Exchanging a look, we hurried toward the sound. There was Apache, continuing to cough. He was a great example of how coughs spread droplets, as we could see spray going way out.

See the moon up there?

Where was that spray landing? Why, on the hay bales on the other side of the fence, the ones encased in green netting. Uh oh. We zipped into the paddock, where Sara opened his mouth. My job was to see if there was any green stuff. Like the non-horse person I am, I stuck my hand in, to feel.

That wasn’t smart. I discovered just how powerful horse jaws are and how sharp their teeth are. Its just a little chomp, but I have a feeling it will look worse tomorrow.

I’ve put ice on it.

Sara gave Apache a treat, and he ate it just fine, so he dodged that bullet. I leaned on him to get the owie out of my hand and thank him for being okay. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement.

Whee

Fiona was done with all the drama, and decided to roll in her favorite dust patch. I was so glad I could get some pictures.

I have crazy ears.
Time to get up!

When she was done, she sat and rested for a while. We couldn’t stop laughing at her pose. She looked at us like we were crazy. Apache kept coming between us to make sure we were okay.

I’m very proud of this belly!

Then the wind came up, and we all ran around like kids. Me, Sara, Apache, Fiona. Just living for the moment. I’m still having fun!

Come back, we want more fun!

It’s been a good day. Sending love to all. Back to icing my hand.

World’s Hottest Socially Distant Photo Shoot

What? I had visitors? I was careful! My work friend, Heather, and her daughter, Emily, wanted to come see our ranch animals, especially Rip in his baby adorableness. We figured if we were mostly outdoors and wore masks, we could safely manage it.

So they drove up, and even brought me my mail from work AND a chocolate pound cake. Homemade. Yep. It’s divine.

Horses and donkeys are on the mantel at the moment.

I have them a tour of the new office, which was a lot of fun. All my animal stuff went over well with Emily, who rides hunter-jumper and volunteers at a very cute farm. And all the shiplap, metal, and brick!

After the tour.

Then it was off to the ranch! It’s good they used to have a Great Dane, because it made all the dogs palatable. Alfred LOVED them. Heather couldn’t get his picture, because he kept going back and forth between the two of them.

Since I got no dog pictures, here’s a leaf-footed bug Emily found.

We then headed to see the chickens. That was sort of sad, since we discovered Butternut had passed away. I think the others huddled on top of her and she overheated. I couldn’t figure out what to do, so I put her in the garage fridge. Sigh. the hottest day of the year is not a good day to get chickens.

Bye, little one. I’m am glad they’ll replace her, and maybe I can get another one.

Heather took a zillion pictures (actual total, 127). Many were of Fancy Pants, who let Emily carry her all over the place. It was really fun watching the chickens with Emily. Here are just a couple of my favorites of her chicken photos.

Off we went to see the cutest calf ever, Baby Rip. That was also a teen animal lover’s dream come true. Since I wasn’t holding a dead pullet, I could get a couple of pictures.

Calf love.

Of course, Heather got a real keeper with the good camera!

Beautiful baby! Photo by Heather Westmoreland.

Here are a couple more of my pictures. Rip is so curious and cute!

Rip wasn’t sure about Vlassic.
Look at my cuteness!

We saved the best for last, and headed over to the horses. Guess who they loved? Fiona! She and Apache were both on their best behavior.

It’s because I am cute and nice. Photo by Heather Westmoreland.

We had a lot of fun trying to get glamour photos of them with Emily. Neither of them was real interested in getting in the good light, of course. After all, it was 104 degrees outside! But, we persevered. Here are some highlights (the last three are by me, the rest by Heather).

My favorite picture, maybe ever, of me and Apache was taken by Heather, and I am going to try to get a print of it.

Me and my buddy. Eight years ago today I learned to put his halter on.

Everyone was having a great time, so we rewarded Apache and Fiona with some grazing time over by the cabin, and went over to see the 18 cows. Guess who was front and center, as always? 18-1. A few of the others also came up to say hi.

Before we left, I asked Heather to take some pictures of R45, since she is getting way up there for a mama cow. She hasn’t had a calf in a couple of years, and is in her decline. But she sure produced some great calves! And she’s still built like a 1970s Buick. Big and wide.

We fed the horses and Big Red, then headed back to the house as the sun was going down. I had a lot of fun talking to Emily about all the supplements the horses get, and she told me a lot about the farm where she volunteers and the place where she rides giant warmbloods. I’m glad Heather is giving her these opportunities to work with animals.

And I’m glad to have given Heather some opportunities to take photos, because she’s taken some real beauties where Emily rides. Looking forward to more! You can see more photos on Facebook, since Heather tagged me on the ones she uploaded.

This makes the ranch look fancy!

My heart is full from getting to show off my animal friends, and I am so glad it was so breezy outside. If we had germs, they all got blown away! Tomorrow, I’m looking forward to getting replacement hens (Butternut2, perhaps?).