Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Be gone, bot flies...

...and take all  your other fly friends with you. Seems like they all descend in fall for one last buzzing, biting frenzy. Bestie and I are Done With Them.

But - all these years with horses, and this was my first bot fly egg removal! 
I don't even remember an instance that my daughters had to do it when they were riding. Maybe not such a problem in Vermont? In general, based on daily spider web removal, stink bug seasonal invasions, and other bug appearances in my life, I'm finding Virginia to be a lot more buggy than VT.

Anyway, after I grazed Bestie today and put her on the cross ties to groom her, I noticed the little yellowy-white specks stuck to the insides of her knees. Maybe 25-35 on each leg. I knew enough to identify them and realize they needed to be scraped off. The photo below of the inside of her left knee was taken after I had been at it for several minutes; there were only a few eggs left.

Below, the tools of the trade ... well, sort of. For years, our bot knife has languished in a box of little used horsey stuff (location unknown after the move ... garage?), so until a kind person at the barn today lent me hers, I used the grooming scissors to scrape the eggs off. A bot fly egg removal hack, you might say. The little flashlight was indispensable as without it, I wouldn't have been able to make sure all the eggs were removed. Especially because I didn't have my glasses. But aside from that, in my experience, barn lighting is typically not the best for doing anything tightly focused - braiding, bug removal, inspection of boo boos. You need the big guns for that stuff - flashlights or small plug-in spotlights.

After getting home I did some random searching to see if there was anything else I should be doing or anything else I need to know about bot flies and their yucky practices. Found this great overview about bot flies (yikes, THREE kinds??) from Freedom Health LLC, which makes gastrointestinal support products for horses. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

How much can one horse drool?

The answer to that question? A LOT.

As gross as it is, in the photo below I was trying to capture the amazing amount of drool in Bestie's feed bucket, but she kept sticking her nose through the stall bars. So the drool puddle is just barely visible to the left of her nose.

The drool is due to a fungus on the clover in the field. Harmless; more on that here from equinews.com. We got some rain, and the clover has grown and reflowered, so the horses are drooling again. The clover growth of course has been sort of cyclical, dependent on rain and whether the field has been mowed; a while back one group of geldings was drooling, but the mares weren't because their field had been mowed.

Today Horace at the barn said the other mares aren't drooling nearly as much as Bestie, so he wondered if she has some secret stash of clover that she's hoarding. I wouldn't put it past her.

At least she's been fine to ride. The first bout of drooling caused her to cough at the trot, so we did a lot of walking those few days.

I've been watching her water consumption - all the drooling made me a bit concerned about dehydration, but she seems to be fine. Our usual routine of hand grazing while I groom her prior to riding has been shorter on the days that she's drooling as I don't think she needs any more clover than she's getting during her overnight turnout. We've had a couple good rides this week, both in the indoor and outdoor, with a stroll around the fields to finish off. The weather is still nice and warm but not so horribly humid as it was over the summer. I love fall riding!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Outdoor ring fun - the bridge

Bestie can be a bit unpredictable, calm and willing on some things, emphatically against others. Crossing the bridge shows her calm and willing side. Who knew?

The photo above really doesn't do the bridge justice; it looks a bit ho hum and almost rickety. But in reality the bridge is a sturdy little thing that's several feet long and just high enough to make crossing interesting. It's just one of many items that can be found in the outdoor and indoor rings that help familiarize horses and riders with trail-like features and that function as general confidence builders. We've mastered the mattress and the tire step-in - no biggie, says Bestie, but not the "gate" or the carousel-like spinner that the horse is supposed to push with its chest.

Crossing the bridge for the first time was sort of like our first time walking over the mattress - she just did it. Didn't balk at all, didn't look at the bridge, just calmly walked across. The only time she's had any hesitation with the bridge was one time recently at the end of our ride when I directed her toward it and she sidestepped right before putting her hoof on the bridge, but when redirected, walked across. I think that sidestep was her little way of telling me she was Done With The Ride.

We've had a few good rides recently. It has been fairly quiet at the barn, so easy to get in the indoor arena. We've been doing trotting patterns, mostly with my feet not in the stirrups so I can work on my seat and balance, followed by a little bit of time in the outdoor ring going over poles on the ground. Summer has definitely been a challenging season for finding riding time, with the hot and humid spells our area has experienced. I've tried to ride every chance I've had when both the heat and humidity have dropped. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A few rides here and there

Thank you, Bestie, for posing in front of the new addition to the indoor. :)
In the photo, the little part that juts out from the main building is going to house a bathroom and a viewing room, both of which will be great additions to an already wonderful facility. The barn hosts quite a number of clinics as well as many people who trailer in for lessons, so the new portion will offload some of the traffic to the main barn as well as be much more convenient for visitors.

It's been amazing to watch the progress on it - much of the work was done in extremely hot and humid temperatures that didn't seem to put off the construction team. The exterior is now done and I guess there's still a bit of finishing work inside before it's officially completed.

I rode a couple times while they were working, which was generally fine. The only thing Bestie Did. Not. Like. was the nail gun. I think it was the randomness of it -- boom boom boom .... pause ... boom boom boom boom. She entered the indoor fine while they were using it, but once the pattern became irregular I could feel her tensing up. We stuck around for a bit but eventually moved to the outdoor ring.

Last weekend the temperature and the humidity dropped and the weather was super pleasant, so I rode both Saturday and Sunday. Just some serpentines and figure 8s at the trot and practice of our fast walk. :)

On Tuesday there were lessons going on in the indoor, so I rode her around the back paddocks, and inside the paddocks, which were empty. It wasn't a long ride, but it was nice to be outside, and she seemed to enjoy it too. We hadn't done the loop in a while and she was super curious about "stuff" - like the new automatic waterers in the fields, a plastic bag that had blown in, the mineral blocks in each field, and a black thing that looked like it may have fallen off the mower.

The girls' field is pretty overgrazed at this point in the summer. It greened up a bit when we got rain late last week, but it's been so dry that it's no surprise there's not much growing. I've been continuing to graze Bestie when I go, just for 10-15 minutes. She seems happy to get out of her stall at the midpoint between when she comes in and when she goes back out.

Her feed bucket has been licked clean every day; I guess the Cosequin is a hit.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A new supplement

Bestie has become a Cosequin girl. After trying unsuccessfully for weeks to get her to eat the senior formula for joint support that our old friends at HorseTech make -  even to the point of crushing peppermint candies into her grain - I threw in the towel. She's been fine with the Cosequin, which folks at the barn recommended. The only other supplement she is getting is HorseTech's Pro-Lactic DFM probiotic. I have to say it's a relief to go to the barn and see her grain dish licked clean (even without the yogurt, which we've stopped giving her now that her manure is back to normal. Yay!)

She has been on Cosequin for just over two weeks. They recommend a loading period of 2-4 weeks, one scoop twice a day. I just decided to go one more week with the loading dose, and then I plan to reassess again as to whether we should load for the fourth week or reduce down to the one scoop per day regular dosage. It's hard to note any change because it's been so hot. When I've ridden, we haven't done much due to the heat, mainly just worked at the walk. And because of the heat I only rode once last week and probably today will be my only ride for this week, because it looks like each day will be in the 90s. Some days have been so humid my shirt is plastered to my stomach after only grooming her and picking out the stall. Blah. Bestie doesn't seem too bummed when all we do is head out to hand graze and then I hose her in the wash stall with cool water.

On the farrier's recommendation, I've been painting Bestie's soles with venice turpentine to help with ouchiness on the gravel driveway around the barn, and it does seem to be helping.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Ups and downs - a down

War wounds.

What I thought was a little incident of mare mayhem occurred the night after our Wednesday lesson. When I arrived at the barn on Thursday I discovered a scrape down Bestie's back from teeth, a swollen raw spot on her belly, and a scrape on her hock - all on her right side. It was perplexing because the girls had all been getting along so well. Two mares who had been a bit confrontational had left, and the group that remained seemed pretty chill. The mystery was solved later that day. It seemed that someone had mistakenly turned out one of the geldings in the field and apparently that had upset the dynamics. 

The tooth scrape is in the area that would be covered (ie rubbed) by her right side saddle pad and saddle skirt, so I haven't ridden since the lesson. Yesterday, day 4, when I went to the barn, the area no longer looked raw and it seems to be healing up, as do the belly and hock spots, although that hock and the area around the belly spot are still a bit swollen. After cleaning all the areas and treating with 3-way ointment for a few days, I'm now putting vitamin E on them and continuing to dab the swollen areas with Sore No More liniment, as well as cold hosing her hock.

So with all of that, plus application of venice turpentine to assist with her ouchy soles (at the suggestion of the farrier), she gets quite the daily treatment. While I fuss around her, soaking and swabbing and doing whatever else is needed, she snoozes on the cross ties in the wash stall. With the box fan that's right overhead plugged in, it's quite the comfy spot to be on a hot summer day. :)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Ups and downs

Geez, Mom, can I have some privacy?
I couldn't help it, I had to take a picture. After probably about four weeks of loose manure, and a couple weeks of daily doses of yogurt for probiotic benefits, this firm poop was pretty darn exciting.

I think - I know - that Bestie has been gorging on grass. Since the grass came in, she hasn't been eating much hay at all, just grass and the small amount of grain she gets. I think it's been too much for her, and actually,she wasn't the only one - there were other horses at the barn with loose manure. A couple of weeks ago, it seemed to get better for a bit, but went back to cow patty-like. Today it was normal in consistency but still green as grass. Bestie's field was mowed and the mares have eaten it down, so those two factors may be helping, too. Fingers crossed we're back to normal for good.

Yesterday we had a lesson with Sue. I asked her to help me with Bestie's tendency to walk off as soon as I get up on the mounting block. Sue first took the saddle off to be sure there was no physical discomfort. It turned out that Bestie is a little tight in the back, but Sue didn't think that the saddle was causing it. More like she needs to get her core in shape (with you on that, girl). So we spent probably 15 minutes working through the walking off, and then practiced it again at the end. It will be interesting to see if she tries it when I ride again. Basically the drill is that I get ready to mount, tell her whoa and if she walks off, I get off the block, back her and try again.

The rest of the lesson was good. We worked on getting her to walk at a speedier but relaxed pace so that she actually works for a bit; more than she does at her usual mosey. Did a little walk and trot in a serpentine pattern. And posted. Yikes, I haven't posted in a while, so I pooped out quickly. Plus it was toward the end and I was feeling a little fried. As was Bestie too, I believe, because she kept speeding up and I had to keep asking her to slow down. Every time Sue called out, "It's a beautiful trot!" I felt it was too fast. :) I need to regain my confidence again.

So to recap, "ups" in the past two days were our lesson and a normal poop. And "downs"? Ugh, a field altercation during turnout last night ... more on that in next post.

Because she hasn't been eating her joint supplements (Senior ReitSport from HorseTech), on the barn's recommendation I'm trying her on Cosequin. First dose tonight with her grain. We'll do the loading dose of two scoops daily for a couple weeks and see how it goes. She has gotten really "clicky" in her leg joints, and the chiropractor had mentioned left hock arthritis, so hopefully the Cosequin will help increase her comfort level. A couple horses at the barn have responded well to it. I'm sad to be leaving HorseTech though; we've been with them a lonnnnnnng time and have been very happy, but despite my best efforts, I just can't get her to eat the senior supplement and it seemed like the one she had been on wasn't helping. I also bought a can of venice turpentine to treat her ouchy soles with on the farrier's recommendation. That will start tomorrow; ran out of time today.