Saturday, August 27, 2011

Trail Ride!

** Pictures have been reposted.  Comment if there are more viewing problems.  Not sure why that happened. **

Quick Updates:
  1. Thrush is essentially gone.  Some lingering moments of it in the rear, but I think we're out of that danger zone we were in with the RF. **I spoke too soon.  Another cavern in his RH.**
  2. The grain transition went smoothly.  Thankfully that horse has proven to be pretty sturdy of gut, limb, and wind.  Knock on wood...  And I no longer have to haul my own grain so that's a nice bonus.  I'll keep you posted of any noticeable long-term effects of the change.
  3. The mold has stayed off of the tack I treated with Leather Therapy Wash (WIN) but the box is showing signs of it again (FAIL) so another round of bleach-water will be happening today.  The humidity is going down so hopefully we'll be done with it soon. Hope.
  4. My camera is malfunctioning.  I don't recommend dropping it lens first into the arena footing.  I do recommend the "accidental damage" warranty on anything you'll be using around horses.  So you must settle for iphone pictures until Best Buy makes good on that warranty.

And now we return to your regularly scheduled post:

On Tuesday we checked off one of our Equilutions for 2011.  We trailered to a local park and did our very first "real" trail riding!  Brenda and her horse Zip trailered us and Steve (another boarder) brought his adorable paint gelding, Skip.

Thankfully we have no fun stories to tell as everything went relatively smooth.  The only minor mishaps were caused by me.  Surprise.  I tried to use a head bumper on my rope halter but it was hard to get it to fit correctly and Junior managed to slip the halter while he was in the trailer.  I had to unload him with just a rope around his neck since I couldn't get it back on inside the trailer from his off side.  It took me a bit of maneuvering to put it back on while he nervously attacked the grass, but we managed.

In the unloading process he stepped on and pulled out a small chunk of his tail.  Not enough to notice, but enough to make me sad, and I have plans for it.

Once I got him tied to the trailer where the couldn't see the other two horses he started yelling but that's normal for him.

We got tacked up and I worked him for a minute in the little ring they have just to make sure he was listening and that the buttons were sill functioning.

We headed out.

He actually prefers to lead, which I find contradictory to his nervousness but he likes to set the pace and if the horse in front is too slow he'll be in his lap if I'm not constantly pulling him back.  So the lead is actually less stressful for us both.

There was one odd looking brush pile he didn't want to get closer to but it was easy to convince him to keep moving.  Once Steve and Skip got too far ahead and I had to have a bit of an argument about who gets to decide the pace but I won pretty easily.

He took a good long while before he totally relaxed and dropped his head along the grassier area, but I am very pleased with how well he did with the amount of wooded sections.  There were snorts and blows and tension, but such a huge improvement from his complete refusal to go into the woods at last fall's Cowboy Challenge.

It was a wonderful way to spend the last weekday I was on summer break.  Now it's back to teaching and designing and advising and committee meetings and less lazy riding days. :(

We really need to spend a day loading and unloading.  He wasn't great when I got him but KAT had a come-to-jesus moment with him and he was fine up until May when he scared himself by bumping the butt bar on his way in and he's been a turkey ever since.  He was better loading to go home but he was pushing against the butt bar really hard in anticipation of getting out.  He listened to me and quit so I could get the bar undone safely and he came out relatively calmly.  Just like everything else with this boy, we need mileage.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Equine Nutrition - Here we go Again!

I wasn't planning on changing feed, but this morning I made a discovery that made changing feeds a necessity....

At the end of June, before heading to MN for a month, I bought enough Safe N Lite to get him into about mid August.  Today, upon realizing I had only about 3 feedings left I headed up to the Drive-Thru.  For those of you who (like me) don't know what a DT Feed store is, it is a something else!  You drive in, tell them what you want, they load it up and run your card, bring you a receipt to sign and you drive away.  Oh, and they nearly always are Feed and LIQUER.  Yup.  I'll have two bags of that and a six-pack of that, thanks.  It's real. Still can't get over it.

Anyway, So I get there and guess what?!?! They no longer carry it!  And neither does anyone else in the area.  I checked.  Sonnuvah.....  Not much to be done about that but move on!

So with only about enough grain left for 3 feedings, I need to act fast.  Ideally you transition a horse over a week.  I'm gonna have to do it in just 3 days. Certainly not ideal, but I'm left with no choice.  I came home and pulled out the old Nutrition binder and went to work.  For those of you just joining us, you can check out the posts under "Equine Nutrition" on the right-hand side for the epic saga that has been Junior's grain journey.

Rather than get myself into trouble again by finding a feed that is difficult to acquire, I decided to look at our two barn grains.  Currently the barn feeds Tribute's Kalm N EZ and Purina's Strategy Healthy Edge.  KEZ was one of the feeds Jess analyzed for me way back when, but SHE was not on the market yet.

Remember back then we were dealing with a hot, obese horse having very limited turnout?  Now we are dealing with a generally calm horse on the slender side of good weight who is getting ample daily turnout.  He wasn't even hot when he was in his stall for almost a week when the thrush was so bad.  That seems to be gone, now, btw.

So we're looking at a different situation: and a much more "normal" horse with fewer "special needs." Hopefully it wasn't JUST the feed that made the difference.  I suspect turnout has made the biggest difference, along with a brighter stall he can stick his head out and feel like he's in a herd rather than a dark lonely box.

Below is the comparison of the main things I'm interested in with regards to feed analysis.  All 3 are considered "low sugar/low starch" but I couldn't find the starch percentage for KEZ.  There's of course a lot more factors to equine nutrition, but for the most part all the main brands offer complete nutrition so I'm not getting into the Ca:P ratios or anything that would make my brain hurt more than it has to.

I think I'm taking a gamble with either feed since each is above or below on each line.
-KEZ has better fiber content.
-SHE has nearly the same mcals so I can feed about the same size ration.
-SHE has lower protein - we found most feeds contain more protein that a horse needs based on the NRC guidelines, but I don't mind having a slightly higher number there since he could use muscle, too much though and they just pee it out and make the stalls smell worse.
-Fat is higher in the SHE and some research suggests that has a calming effect on some horses.

As of tonight's feeding I'm going to substitute 1/4 of his ration with Strategy Healthy Edge and by Tuesday PM feeding he'll be totally on the SHE.  I have a thing against Strategy but I've heard much better reviews of the SHE so hopefully it'll work out.  Or it'll be back to the drawing board!

Just a parting shot for you:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Product Review: Amigo Mio Fly Sheet

 We've been using our Amigo Mio for nearly a whole summer now. I purchased it at EquusNow on sale for less that $60. Horseware Ireland's website lists it for $73 and says:

"Horseware® Amigo® Mio Flysheet with attached hood. Soft knitted polyester, patented front Leg Arches™ for freedom of forward movement and two criss-cross belly surcingles make this ultra breathable flysheet a favorite at a price anyone can afford! "

Being the bottom of the line that Horseware offers, I suppose it's a case of "you get what you pay for" but I am not dissatisfied. It seems to be doing it's job, but I think it has design flaws.

Here it is fresh out of the package:

My only previous experience with a fly sheet was a Kensington style sheet with harder, stiffer plasticky mesh I bought at a tent sale for $10. It was full of holes after one summer and gave him lovely patches of broken hair, including the top of his tail.

Sizing: The sheet had ample coverage. Junior usually wears a 78. I thought it was a bit roomy at first. It comes in 3" increments. 

Hardware: Is only nickel plated so the buckles are chipped and rusted after only a few months.

Velcro Closures: There's a reason you don't launder velcro with your Zocks, right? WHY did they use velcro when the fabric itself snags relentlessly on it!?! In just normal wearing, there are snags and pulls all over the areas of velcro, and anywhere else the "male" side of the velcro touches. So even when you fold it up to hang on the blanket bar it gets stuck to itself.

Neck Cover: Is not removable, which I like because he can't lose it. It seems built for REALLY thick necks, though and I'm not sure if that is on purpose or not. Junior has a thin neck comparatively. 

Fabric/Construction: Considering that my horse is tough on clothing it seems to be doing fairly well... probably shouldn't have said that outloud. In addition to the velcro damage, there are a few tears in various locations on the body.  If velcro can snag the fabric I can't be surprised turnout buddies and fences can tear it, but a few could be stress/strain on the fabric. The binding and straps appear to be holding up well, but one of the belly straps has torn the fabric, and the lining at front closure has pulled away from the stitching line, which seems to be stress rather than abrasion. The lining is not a strong enough weave to stand up to the stress of turnout.

Maintenance: I have washed it once in my standard home machine.  I saw no damage or change in the materials after washing in cold (twice) with a scentless detergent (I usually use Schneider's Blanket Wash but I'm running low) and it dried very quickly on my deck. It is not as shiny as it was and didn't wash up "like new" but it was cleaner and smelled better.

Overall: I think it does the job it was intended to do, but will probably only last a few seasons. The damage to the fabric and the few tears do not yet prevent the sheet from protecting the horse, but could eventually.  For the first time, Junior is not covered in hives and though many of the other horses  have exhibited welts from the horse flies, Junior's only had one small one on his neck below where the cover ends. He was also put on Smart Bug-Off this year, so that probably helps, too.

Recommendations: If you need an affordable sheet, your horse is kind to it's clothing, and you don't mind cosmetic damage, this might be a good buy for you.

Velcro damage to fabric:

Hole in Shoulder, hip, and stress at belly strap.

Friday, August 12, 2011

WTFriday #4 - Curse You Perry the Platypus!!!

Phineas and Ferb.  If you've not seen this show you probably don't have kids between the ages of 1 and 10.   But you SHOULD.  Should see it, I mean, not necessarily SHOULD have kids... that's none of my business.

I started watching the show with my nephew and neices and it is a great show.  The show wasn't designed for children, but it didn't exclude them as an audience. The creators believed in the concept so much that it took them 16 years of tweaking and pitching before a network (Disney) would pick it up.  That's dedication.  And no matter your feelings about the Disney empire, they made a good choice on this show. Clever plots, recurring themes, fun music, and laugh outloud quirky humor make up each 1/2 hour show's 2 episodes. The boys are on summer vacation and each day they do some crazy outlandish project.  Their sister Candice tries to "bust" them and always fails.  Then there is a subplot of their unassuming pet platypus, Perry, and evil scientist: Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz.   You can read a lot more about them on the web, I recommend the ease of the Wikipedia page.  They're on Disney Channel on Fridays, but they're also on Netflix.

So what on earth does this have to do with this blog?   Well, I happened to be watching an episode where the kids were riding horses.  And for a second I thought WTFriday is on their heads!?!?!  And then I realized that they had HELMETS under their cowboy hats.

I jumped up an cheered (metaphorically) and praised the person in that office that decided to portray the kids, even though they are cartoons who do all sorts of unrealistic death-and-gravity-defying acts, utilizing this important safety tool.  Granted the boys' have no chin straps but I'm over it.

So check out Phineas and Ferb and their crime-fighting pet platypus, Perry.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Skip to the end question if you don't want to read all of my ramblings today...

So much humidity! There's no escaping it and with humidity and in addition to creating a comfy environment for Thrush, here comes every tack room's best friend: MOLD, or MOULD if you are so inclined. Even my purty tack box has fallen victim. Max's mom was too quick to tell me there was no mold in there while I was gone. I found it when I got home. It wasn't too bad at first glance but once I dug around... Not only was it on leather, it was on my clipper bag, the entire inside of my LamiCell helmet, my old Aegis helmet, a stray treat, 2 rolls of vetwrap, my earmuffs, and my bit warmer and I was not at all pleased to see it growing ON THE WOOD ITSELF. Dang. AND I opened up my blanket chest to find it on my newest winter blanket. Double Dang.

To war.

The washables went into hot water wash with vinegar and dried in the sun. The clipper bag didn't fare so well in the wash but I can fix it. The helmet is still a bit ripe after vacuuming, dabbing with lemon juice and a generous dousing (or two) of Lysol spray. Might need another approach if it's going to be wearable. I tossed my old Aegis helmet since It won't adjust anymore anyway and that's just not safe. That was actually hard. It was my first approved helmet! The blanket is airing out while I make a plan to take it to the laundromat. More on that later.

After a bit of research I chose a bleach/water solution and wiped out the box. And even though the Lysol can says not to use on polished wood I used that, too, then set a fan in front of it and left it open for a few days. Then I bought a 2-pack of Damp Rid containers and put one in the door closest to the bottom compartments where it was worst, but I think I need to add the other one into the main compartment. The container says "up to 45 days..." we'll see about that. The wood is still clean today... I shouldn't have said that outloud. Blerg! I've removed most of the contents of the compartments for the time being.

It seems to like my English saddle and my western headstall the best, as well as the franken-halter I made out of parts of one leather halter and one nylon halter. You might remember the photos from last year. Not that bad this year, thankfully. I cleaned them with Saddle Soap and used my Bick4. That BTW is the best stuff EVAR, but today the mold was already back so it's not the best at mold prevention. Triple Dang.

So time for more research... It seems there are two leather care products that claim to be anti-fungal. One is Leather Therapy and the other is the Belvoir line from Carr & Day & Martin. Both have a cleaner and a conditioner. The Belvoir also comes in wipes.

The Leather Therapy claims to be the only one, but Belvior says it too. Equusnow carries both of them so I can get them right on my way to the barn.

Adding to my list of things to consider if I ever build my own barn: TACK ROOM WINDOWS that create tons of ventilation and let the mold-killing light shine on in.

So, Dear Readers, have you tried either of those products? Something else? I'm a little worried about the winter blanket because the tag says to wash on cold but I think I need it warmer to kill the mold.... ?? Thoughts??

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What The What is THAT?!?

Part ONE of what's been occupying me since my return was that upon grooming my pony on Monday, I found this curious hole-thingy in his RF heel:

See it there on the bottom bulb? And YES, I cleaned out his feet after I shot the photo. I took him in to the arena. He seemed perfectly sound so I didn't worry much. The only thing we could think of was maybe an abscess exit? I did get news that he was a bit "stiff" when he was ridden on the 25th but nothing noticeable. Perhaps it blew out on it's own? I've never had an abscess before (KNOCK ON WOOD) but I've read about them (including on some of YOUR blogs!) and seen other photos and articles.

So yesterday we hosed it out and we found this:

So there's kinda like a HOLE in either side of his heel and I got a little freaked out. Doesn't look like the abscess holes I've seen, it looked more like some sort of flesh eating virus! The lower one is DEEP and creepy. So I sent the pic to Doc. While waiting for him to respond we treated it like an abscess and wrapped it. Doc said he'd like to see it and happened to be coming today.

So today, after deciding that he was sound, Doc took the wrap off and poked around. The whole area was black and nasty. No abscesses, instead, it's a really really really nasty case of Thrush that embedded itself so deeply that I saw no evidence of Thrush when I picked his feet on Monday or yesterday, but the wrap must have given the thrush a nice 24 hours of moist heat to thrive in. Ooopsie.

Doc exposed and cut out all of the nastiness. Then he gave him a bit of sedation to make it easier for me to soak it in a hoof bag for 45 minutes, dump the solution out and let it "work" sealed back up for another 45 minutes, then apply a good dose of Thrush Buster.

Awww sleepy soaking pony.

All cleaned out... with a little bit of shavings because it's hard to wrestle a leg out of a soaking bag and take a picture of it without the slightly sleepy pony insisting on putting the foot down. :)
Still looks nasty but I covered it all in the purple-power and he will need to stay picked and dry for a few days. We'll see how it goes. Luckily he doesn't seem painful about it but that barely alleviates my guilt. Not much I could have done to prevent it. I didn't see it and neither did Max's girls when they picked his feet for me. But I still feel bad for him. :( While he soaked I sat a chair outside his stall and we shared some quiet time together. It's amazing how soft his muzzle is when he's not trying to eat me with it! He actually put himself as close to me as he could and I just scratched his face and rubbed his nose and shooed the flies from his eyes. Reminded me of a sick kid who just wants to lay on the couch by his mom. And yes, I'm anthropomorphizing, but it was still adorable.

I Have Returned....

...To find some interesting things that are keeping me busy. Stay tuned for more on that.

In the mean time, I have a short video for you to enjoy with the sound ON. Right before I left for vacation I caught Junior running and whinnying in his sleep. Cutest thing I've ever seen! It took me a while to get out the iPhone and get it to the right setting so I only caught the end right as he woke up, but he's still adorable. NOT that I am biased or anything...