Mabel, Mabel, You Are Expensive

First of all, yesterday was a pretty glorious day, as days go. I had a great day at work, enjoyed family stuff, and was thrilled to see all our horses and Fiona running up to us for dinner. It was so beautiful.

Did you say food?

Then, when we fed the horses, Mabel had problems. Oh my gosh, the poor dear choked on her food, just like Drew did a while back. Now, I HAD moistened the food, but apparently I didn’t moisten it enough. Crap crap crap. So, we sat there helplessly watching her, hoping she’d pass the blockage. The poor dear looked so miserable.

I feel like poop.

Kathleen stood with her while I petted Drew for a long, long time. He helped me feel better. Eventually, Kathleen found a lump in her neck and massaged it. As she was doing it, dear Dusty came up behind Kathleen and gently placed his nose on her back, as if to send his healing energy. Who knows what he was actually doing, but it sure looked supportive. It made my heart swell.

I’m helping.

After that, Mabel stopped choking and dripping and acted better, so we let her go out with the other horses. Kathleen checked her again last night and reported everything looked good. I was relieved.

I’ll take care of my friend, says Dusty.

Unfortunately, when I went out to check on the horses in the morning, I didn’t see Mabel. That was because she was lying down. Stuff was dripping out of her nose again. Poor friend! So, I told Kathleen and set about cleaning out the trailer so we could haul Mabel to the vet.

The nephew and I took her to the same place Drew went. It was all great, though we had to wait a long time due to an emergency before us (poor little horse needed help more than Mabel!). Oddly enough, there were three other horses the same color as Mabel, all with white on their heads. It was fun to see.

I feel marginally better.

I noticed that Mabel began to act much perkier as we stood around. She started wanting to walk, and even ate a piece of hay she found on the concrete. No more coughing happened, and just a little dripping from her nose. It may be that the bumpy ride to the vet (we went the back way down dirt roads) dislodged the last of the blockage in her esophagus.

Can I go home now?

Once we got to talk to the vet, things went pretty well. Mabel was a very good girl and was good for the tube going down her throat. It made it all the way, and when they flushed her, just a little food came out. Hooray!

Next, the vet checked her teeth and discovered THAT may have been the problem. They had gotten very sharp and Mabel was chewing up her cheeks. That could have made her eat oddly. She got her teeth floated, which involves a giant drill that grinds horse teeth down. Looked uncomfortable, but seems to have helped a lot.

Finally, the vet checked Mabel’s innards by putting an endoscope down her. That was really fun to watch. I got to see food in her stomach! What we did not see were any ulcers or other signs of damage in there. WHEW!

So, Mabel got to go home with some antibiotics, but she doesn’t need to be quite so carefully managed as Drew was. She just must stay in a pen while she recovers and eat a small meal tonight. Antibiotics need to go in her because she may have aspirated food into her lungs. But otherwise, we dodged a bullet.

I am so glad she is okay. So is Kathleen. I felt so bad for hurting her horse! We have a new feeding plan that doesn’t involve alfalfa pellets.

Horses Can Learn by Observation

For the five of you who read my review of Horse Brain, Human Brain from this morning, you might find what happened this afternoon really interesting.

Not me. I’m a hen.

The author of that book, Janet Jones, claimed that horses can learn from observing other horses. She shared that she’d seen horses learn to open gates and do ground work just by watching. I didn’t think I’d seen that before. Well, I saw it today!

Kathleen and I were measuring Mabel with the horse height tool we’d found. (16 hands) we accidentally left a gate open, and of course everyone except Dusty went out. We were fine with it, because we knew they’d come back at feeding time.

We’re free.

I ended up out there with them for a while, because I was urgently searching for the beverage cup I’d left somewhere out there. I wanted to take it on my upcoming trip.

I was too slow. Buh.

I watched Mabel as she purposefully strode across the grass. Where was she going? She went to the new trailer! What? She looked all over it for treats.

The grass IS greener here.

Now, she has never been through trailer friendliness training. Only Apache has. She was watching! Wow.

Any more treats on this thing?

By the way, in a minute, Apache walked right up to his former enemy and thoroughly checked it out. Looks like I did a good job with the trailer thing. Now to cut out the treats and just do praise, as Jones suggested.

Freedom. For a while.

I love it when you get validation of new knowledge so quickly. Thanks for escaping, horses.

Hark! It’s a Thundering Herd!

It’s always something with my equine buddies. Today was no exception. I’d been out for a while in the morning feeding Drew and Mabel (more on that later), so I was back at work concentrating on job aids, user guides, and the like. The dogs began to bark. What could it be? The letter carrier? The UPS driver? FedEx? The barking seemed a little different than usual.

I soon found out why. There was a thundering herd of six horses and one small, spotted donkey running across the front field, looking majestic AF. Oops. I fetched my non-computer glasses and my phone and ran out to see how that had happened.

Thundering herd

The photo you see here is them running after I came outside. I wish I’d had a camera when I first saw them. They looked all a-flutter. When I came out, they had started to settle down and get to the important work of finding new and different grass to eat. They paid Jim’s RV area a nice visit.

MMM, grassy.

Then they took off again, because they saw me and wanted to say HI. I invited them into their pen, but they had other plans.

I think there’s some grass over here. Yes, there is.

By the time I got the gate opened and fetched a tempting feed tub of deliciousness, they were back over by the RV, which appears to be where the best grass on the property can be found. I rattled the container of feed at them. You can imagine how I laughed when I saw how quickly Dusty’s head picked up. FOOD! He was headed my way before I was even able to pick up the phone to get a picture, with the others trooping along right behind him.

I see a food tub! Mabel, come on! T, let’s go! The rest of you slackers better get your heads out of the grass!

I’d barely gotten into the pen myself when Dusty’s head was poking at the tub. Soon, everyone was there. Even Fiona was faster than Drew, who I guess was more interested in that grass than any boring old senior horse feed. But, all I had to do was set the tub down, stand at the gate, and shut it (well). I saw that they’d managed to open one of the small gates out of the pens, which means I didn’t secure it well enough. I’ll get that lesson through my head one of these days.

I guess the adventure was fun, since it made Drew roll around with glee. Damn, he is a cute little feller. His mane is getting so full, it reminds me of Curly on the Three Stooges.

Whee!

I’m glad that excitement ended quickly. Earlier, on my morning feeding break. I realized that Mabel was patiently standing in one of the pens while Drew ate his morning calorie dump. I’d been planning to try to give Mabel extra food, too, once we had fewer horses to wrangle at feeding time, so I went and got her some alfalfa and coconut meal, wet down with a lot of water.

I got food!

Since she, like Drew, had choked before, I watched her like a hawk until she was finished eating. My goodness, she seemed happy to get the extra calories.

Look at that face. She has a Roman nose, for sure.

I’ve been noticing that she is filling out and even gaining some muscle since I started on a magnesium supplement and coconut powder (which I give all of the horses that aren’t mine, mainly so she can get it). Her tail, what little there is left of it after a horse bit off most of it, is even all shiny now. The best part, though, is that she is so much more relaxed and friendly. She now comes up for love and petting, which makes me so happy.

Kathleen and I have talked about plans for her, and I think she will at least have a chance at a useful life once we get her feet under control, worm her (and the rest) again, and get her weight a bit more normal. She’s going to be thin, we think, no matter what. She needs to show a little less rib, still.

Looking out toward the future.

I’ve also noticed the other horses have stopped pestering her so much. Maybe it’s because Drew is now competing to be the lowest ranking horse in the herd, but I think she is stronger and can put up more of a fight. I’m happy she is on the mend at last. We can dote on her and give her all our human love. That will make us feel better, too.

I Got Bucked off My Horse, but It’s Okay

Last night I posted on Facebook that I hurt all over. I was busy doing other things, so I didn’t have a chance to go into detail, so here’s the story. First, I am absolutely fine, going to live, and not mad at my horse. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

I’m writing from my quiet, but breezy, outdoor office. Thanks to our friend Carol for painting my dining set red!

When I was finished working yesterday, Kathleen suggested that we go ride the horses, because the weather was just perfect and there was still some light left in the day. My alternative was emptying the dishwasher, so you can figure out that I agreed to the horse stuff.

I got Apache all groomed. His feet sure look good! The round pen work went well, and he even got going at a canter briefly. I did notice that he coughed a couple of times. I never heard that before. But I didn’t worry too much about it. We all cough occasionally.

I was trying to tell you something. Like, in this photo, I’m telling you the Vrazels are moving cattle, which concerns me.

We got saddled up and did our schooling exercises. He was a little reluctant, but not in an annoying way. He coughed a couple more times.

Kathleen and Mabel were having their own issues since Mabel was not interested in standing still to be mounted. That’s no fun if you are as short as Kathleen and your horse is as tall as Mabel. Eventually we were all ready to go for a ride in the pasture, or so we thought.

Neither horse seemed at all interested in what we had planned. Mabel kept stopping, and Apache was okay until we got past the gate out of his paddock, at which point he began acting like his old jumpy self. I couldn’t figure out what the issue was. I’d stop him, back him up, and try to go forward, but he was not happy. This is where I made my mistake. I kept asking too many times.

Finally, he took off at a canter, headed back to the pens. I tried to calmly stop him and slow him down. Nope. So, I did the kind of one-rein stop that the trainer showed me, and that did stop him, but at that point he commenced to bucking. After buck number 3 I lost my seat and fell off the saddle. It was a fairly graceful fall, and I landed properly, so that nothing broke.

I did bonk my head, but my brave little helmet did its job, and my head is fine. I’ll be ordering a new helmet shortly.

The brave little helmet, whose nails came undone at the back.

But what got into Apache? Kathleen and I noticed he wasn’t acting too perky after the fall (and after I did, indeed, get back on and do some circles and managing obstacles). He had a runny nose and coughed another couple of times. So, we petted him and told him we loved him. That made him happy, very happy.

Stop here if you do not want to read about a horse’s male parts.

When Apache let down his member, we saw that it was quite crusty. His metabolic issues lead to crustiness, and I usually remove stuff every week or so. Of course, I’d been gone three weeks and hadn’t seen his member since I got back. I took care of that issue, though he sure looked all red.

We got to worrying, because his urethra looked more red than usual, too, and he was dripping drops of pee (I’ll spare you the photos, though I do have photos). After consulting with Sara, we decided he might have a UTI and a respiratory issue, so we ran over to her house to borrow a horse thermometer. I need to get one of those, too.

Ready to do the job.

His temperature was normal for a horse, 100.4. That’s good. And I now can take a horse’s temperature. Thanks, Apache, for the farts during that process. We decided to contact a vet in the morning.

One of the things I’ve learned is that horses rarely are just “bad” or “stubborn” or “spoiled.” If they misbehave, there is usually a reason. After you check to see if you’ve confused them or something, the next thought should be that they are in pain of some sort. That’s why I am not angry at Apache. Sara says that before she realized it was an issue, he had bucked when his penile crust hurt him at a trot. Plus, if I was signaling away with my legs right on his kidney or bladder area, that may also have hurt.

I took some ibuprofen and arnica (I have to say that, or everyone I was ever in La Leche League with would start shouting “arnica” at me), so I was able to make it through a celebratory evening last night. Today I awoke to only find two bruises, including this one on my arm.

The blue part of the bruise is really pretty in person.

The other one is much deeper and more colorful and is where my lower abdomen hit the saddle pommel awfully hard on my way down. It is right next to my cesarean scar, which didn’t help. I’d say that hurts more than my back or neck today. But I’ll live, and I learned, so all is well.

And sigh. No vet is available to make a house call today, and I would not want to take a potentially contagious horse anywhere with other horses. So, I will see how he is on Friday (tomorrow is a US holiday). Besides, we do not have the trailer here. It should be back this weekend, though.

Another thing I need is a horse trailer that our vehicle can pull! If only I had a lot of money all of a sudden…oh wait, that’s the next post.

Ranchin’ Time

I had fun today getting reacquainted with the ranch and its inhabitants. I sure was glad to see that Peeper, the only chick we ever got past babyhood, is still peeping and growing. She has her comb coming in, and she looks like a darker version of her mom.

The dogs were glad to see me, ranging from black and white to copper and gold!

And of course, I was so glad to see the horses and Fiona. Apache is as furry as a teddy bear, but sound and happy.

I’m not out of condition; I’m fuzzy.

We went for a ride with Kathleen and Mabel. We had a good time until suddenly Kathleen disappeared.

Where did they go?

I looked and saw them zipping away. Mabel was dancing around. Finally Kathleen got off, and we went to check things out. She was waving and Mabel was kicking at her belly.

Kathleen yelled, “bees!” and I saw a bee around Mabel’s legs. It appeared to be a ground bee. They hadn’t bothered Apache, but Mabel must have stepped on their nest! Finally, the bee that chased them stopped on Mabel’s belly and Kathleen killed it with her shoe. Poor horsie!

After that we tried to ride again, but neither horse was remotely interested. They wanted their saddles off and some petting. As did Fiona and Remington, who were out with us.

Enough drama for one day.

Everyone was apparently starving by dinner time, because Fiona kept grunting at the dogs, and when she was done, she tried to drag poor Remington’s food away from him.

Remington is not pleased. Note strongly braced donkey legs

We guess she was tired from her own antics, which included getting into the swimming pool when I was riding. Sigh. And we were worried about the dogs! luckily, the new fencing that should keep donkeys out of the area around the house is being worked on now.

More to come tomorrow! But now it’s time to get some rest, because tomorrow starts another work week. Once again, Anita and I will share an office, except when I have to talk. I’ll show you why she can’t work in her own house in the next post.

Sunset, dog, and ranch stuff.

All the Horse Health News That Fits the Blog

With all these skinny new horses, we have to keep an eye on their health. Kathleen was getting worried about some cuts on poor Mabel’s legs, and we both thought she seemed sad. We weren’t sure if she was sick or what.

Mabel in the stable

So today they took her to yet another equine facility, and Kathleen liked them a lot. Mabel got all bandaged up so she can heal from what are apparently rope burns from being tied, from a previous owner. That makes us all even more glad she is here now. Other than her weight, though, she’s okay. Her sadness is just her taking time to adjust to her new surroundings, which makes sense.

I think she already feels better, because while confined to the mini-pen we discovered can be made from our flexible gates, she actually came up to me and asked to be rubbed on. What a good sign!

What about me?

Meanwhile, my little pony Andrew (not really a pony) is also feeling better. Today’s the first day his eye hasn’t been all goopy in a week! I’m sure he’s glad people aren’t messing with his eyelids anymore!

These guys love each other, but Remi picks on Granny Amaretto

Today Lee had to take his car in for recalls in Rockdale, so I followed him and took the opportunity to get horse supplies from Tractor Supply. The highlight, for my steeds, was new hanging feed bowls for them, like Kathleen’s horses have. These hang on the fence and give them a chance to eat at a different height, which I read is good for them.

Happy spotted butts.

I also got a different girth for Drew, the kind the nephew recommended, and wormer for Fiona. She will love THAT. Plus, I got new treats. No sugar, low carb ones for a certain tubby paint horse. He ate one, so I guess they’re ok!

What about meee?

Don’t worry, dog lovers, my next blog will feature them!

Welcome to Our Equine Rescue Facility

Just kidding! Don’t send us fixer-upper horses! But we DO happen to have two more over here at the Hermits’ Rest, because at least two of us are very soft hearted or see a lot of potential, or something.

Mysterious new equines

This afternoon we certainly tested the carrying capacity of the livestock trailer (well, it’s probably had more cattle in it). First, I went along with Kathleen to get Dusty and Remi looked at by Dr. Kilgore in Rosebud. As predicted, he was popular with all the humans. We waited a long time, but it was fine. I took pictures of plants and butterflies, including one of those bird poop moths. I’ll spare you the photos of the poison ivy, but I did want to show that even Johnson grass can take a good photo. And, there were cute dogs to enjoy.

The horses got wormed and inspected. They were declared fine, other than their feet, which will get dealt with tomorrow. Then, Kathleen said she wanted to go look at these two mares she saw in horse ads. Yes, she was still looking at horse ads. I think she figures Remington is not going to be a great riding horse, and she feels that Dusty (who has already gained weight, as you can see below) is not a beginner horse.

You can still see his ribs, but Dusty (left) looks a lot better.

So off we went. The road looked very familiar. Yes, it was in those outskirts of Milano where we got all the pipe and junk a few weeks ago! I’m sure the horses loved that road, poor guys. We pulled in to a property that was just beautiful, and so far off the beaten path…it made me sing “Almost Heaven, East Milano…”

No houses, just rolling pastures.

The guy did, indeed have two mares. They were very sad looking mares at first glance. I’m going to put in their “before” photos here, so I’ll have a reference as they get better.

We named them Mabel and Amaretto. But before that, the horse trader guy rode both of them for us. First was Mabel. When she is being ridden, you wouldn’t know this is the same horse. It’s like poetry. Her trot is so smooth the guy didn’t bounce, and her canter was elegant. I’m thinking to myself, geez, this is a gaited horse! Then they stuck me up on her (easier said than done; she is at least 16 hands, so I had to use the trailer as a mounting block). I rode her and it felt like she had air-glide suspension. I was not interested in a giant, brown (okay dark bay) horse with a droopy lip before, but suddenly I was. I hid my joy, of course.

Amaretto’s sweet face.

Then he saddled up the other horse, which could not be more different. But, she is only 14 hands, if that, and I can mount her from the ground. Even Kathleen could! Kathleen enjoyed riding her, and wanted me to try. Amaretto reins more fluidly, but rides like Apache, i.e., a normal Quarter Horse. I will enjoy my new saddle on her. She is actually a beautiful horse, but she’s so skinny it’s hard to tell. Apparently the horse trader had leased her out, and she was returned in this poor condition (OMG her feet look so sad).

Mabel working

So, after the requisite haggling, they bought them. And during the chit-chat portion of the discussion, we also were referred to a cool old guy who had some saddles. BUT WAIT. You remember the guy who sold Drew got rid of him because he wanted some beautiful stud horse? Guess where he got him! Yep. We should have just met in Milano and traded. I am glad we have Drew, though.

Don’t forget me.

So, off we went with four horses and two saddles. They let them out with Fiona and the other three horses, then all of us just watched everyone running around and getting to know each other. It was a lot of fun.

Meet and greet

When we came in, finally, I got to open my new saddle. It has many pretty details.

Around noon today, Kathleen and I went out to play with all our new toys. I cleaned the saddle they got yesterday. It turned out really nice!

Hardly looks old!

Then I got Apache out to see if he would do okay in my new tack. I got the saddle all adjusted and off we went. He did just fine!

I’m told the pad is a bit large.

Kathleen put on her “new” saddle and yay, the stirrups were short enough for her! It’s technically a kid saddle. Who cares? Amaretto did fine, too. She’s a good horse.

Kathleen looking good.

I got too hot (not my best time of day), so was able to blog a bit. I’m sitting with dear Amaretto, who is completely un phased by welding in her vicinity.

Once I cool off, it’s time to mess with little Drew. By then we may have all the gates up! Enjoy some bonus horse photos!

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