Apache and the Ants

No, that’s not the name of a new musical group. It’s about why today’s ride was rather antsy for my usually patient steed, Apache’s Smoke Signal, AKA Apache AKA Patchy.

The morning went as usual. It was hot and I dripped sweat all over myself, but Sara and I got the horses (and Fiona) ready for a ride. We want to ride as much as possible, so we’re going early on weekend mornings. She goes more than I do, thanks to all my volunteering and such.

I put up with a LOT from Suna. It’s a good thing she gives me so many treats and bushes me so nicely.

The entire time we were out in the pasture where the horses usually hang out, Apache kept turning around and heading toward the gate. I turned him back around and made him trot around, go over some logs, or up and down the “hill.” He kept turning around.

Continue reading “Apache and the Ants”
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Donkey Feet and Horse Teeth

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’s Footsies

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.

Now that I’ve got this thing, how do I use it?

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.

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Horse Schooling

That’s right, two posts in an hour. I had two topics, you see… so. One of the things we found while doing things around the house yesterday was a beautiful black widow spider that we must have disturbed in all the work. I’m sorry to say we had to dispose of her, because I just don’t want to risk the safety of my family, friends, and pets.

I had never seen one of these spiders up close until yesterday. They are really beautiful! I’m glad they mostly hide, and sorry I disturbed so many this weekend!

Then, today, after Sara and I rode the horses, we went to replace the mineral tub with a better one, and were very grateful we decided to check carefully before cleaning it out to put in mineral. We found entire families of black widows in there, including the rarely seen male and a lot of egg sacs. I’d probably prefer the equines to not get bitten, too. Sara had gloves on, so she was the one to stick her hand in. Eek!

I’m proud of Sara. She did a week-long horse riding vacation in Montana, and did great, thanks to all the training she’d been doing. She is now focused on working with Apache more, to get him ready to wear a bridle and bit and do more precise work with her. He is really her horse, after all, so I’m glad he’s getting the work.

Really, It’s 7 am. We have to go out again? Yes, you do. No wonder Apache is hiding.
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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. 

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When Your Horse Freaks Out

First, don’t worry. No one is hurt. However, on yesterday’s ride, a bit of freak-outage did occur with Apache.

Oddly enough, our ride Saturday was practically idyllic, as we traipsed all over the ranch, through beautiful tall grass (pre-baling) with Fiona in tow. Fiona always needs to be rounded up when it’s time to go through a gate, so our herding practice is fun (however, Apache sucks at it).

But yesterday was different. First, we decided not to bring Fiona, since she was still limping a bit. And second, the baling operation was going on pretty close to where we were riding. Some combination of these things did not please Apache, though he was doing what I asked him to, including squishing over a wet spot.

He kept turning around and looking urgently toward his pasture, ears up, all attentive. We finally figured out he was hearing Fiona braying in her loneliness. I guess he’s used to having her around now!

I’m a right brained introvert. I can’t help getting a little jumpy when giant machines attack me.

Then, when the tractors got close, everything he encountered suddenly became A Big Deal. Trees, cactus, the overhead power lines. He’d turn around, start randomly trotting, and basically act like he was on his last nerve. He used to act like that often, when I first started working with him four years ago, but he hasn’t done that recently.

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Leading Horses to Water

Because I don’t take my phone on trail rides (just Sara’s old emergency flip phone) I have no photos. So, enjoy these paintbrushes and cattle while I brag about our horses.

Get us out of here!

But wait! I have sad calves to share! These little darlings got weaned and wormed today. Much mooing is happening now. Sniff.

What’s happening? Where’s Mom?

On to horses

Today we went on a much longer ride than usual, all the way to the far end of our property. To get there, we had many obstacles to face, and I’m happy to say both Apache and Spice were very brave. Continue reading “Leading Horses to Water”

Too Busy to Write!

I did so much over the weekend that I never got time to sit down, much less write about what I was doing!

Just for the beauty. Not a native tree!

A lot of my stuff was work-related, so I wrote about that over on the other blog. Much paint selecting, light fixture choosing, office rearranging and such. I’m actually quite surprised at how little my arms hurt after wrangling giant tables.

Fuzzy willow blossoms and a bit of the bluebonnet I was sniffing. They smell great.

Luckily, there was also some time to check out what’s blooming and flying overhead. I think the black willow flowers are really pretty, like fuzzy caterpillars.

Flying ducks

And all over town, as I was driving between projects, I enjoyed hearing the gurgling sounds of the black-bellied whistling ducks as they flew over.

I’ll try to get a closer photo.

I was not at all upset to need to take our helper, Kim, home, because I knew I’d get closer looks at the ducks. They really have day-glo beaks and feet! I love their visits, especially when I can spot them in trees.

Cedar waxwings backlit.

The cedar waxwings are still around, too, and their little chirps often surrounded me. Kim had to be very patient when I took a bunch of pictures. I had to!

And I’m friendly, too.

Saturday night we spent a bit of time with this fellow. He’d spent two weeks in the rye field across the road. He finally figured out there is a big gap in the fencing and took a stroll. After much discussion it was determined he didn’t belong to any neighbors and got taken to a sale barn where they’ll try to find his owner. You’d think someone would miss a Charolais bull this handsome.

See my sweaty back? I’m so tired.

My final weekend fun was getting the poor horses all sweaty. We went all over the ranch and did brave things. Fiona kept dawdling, so Sara and Spice kept herding her. Once we just waited in the cool shade of a wooded area. When Fiona finally made it, we looked down to see the grass higher than her belly. She looked like she was a toy in an Easter basket. Wish I’d had my phone!

More later. I guess it’s good to be busy!