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.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Swelling, salt, and a side of yogurt with that grain, please

A bit dozy on a hot day.

When I returned to the barn on June 6, Bestie's legs remained stocked up. And there was a new and exciting development - she had a half-lemon sized lump on the lower edge of her neck about 4 inches down from her jaw. I definitely wanted another set of eyes on her, so I checked in with Joe, who owns the barn. The lump didn't seem to bother her, and we couldn't see any skin breakage, but he thought it might be either a kick or an insect bite. Really bizarre. As for her swollen legs, when I described to Joe how she'd been going to town on her salt brick, he suggested taking it out of her stall for a while (there is a mineral block in her field that she can find).

It took a couple days, but her legs returned to normal. Maybe she was retaining fluid due to overconsumption of her salt block. I've been offering it to her just while I'm at the barn, so she typically only gets it for a few minutes. The swelling in her legs hasn't returned.

However, the neck swelling has taken forever to go down. Each day I soaked the area with Sore No More liniment, and the swelling started to flatten out right away, but even today, almost a week later,  it is still slightly visible. 

I talked to Sue again about Bestie's poop, since it concerns me that it has stayed loose for so long (about a month now). Sue suggested trying her on yogurt, on the premise that maybe she needs a little extra probiotics to jumpstart her system back to normal. So Bestie's getting a spoonful of plain yogurt with her am and pm grain ... and acquiring a bit of a reputation as high maintenance. The first day she did not like it at all, but now she's licking her bucket clean. She's been on the yogurt regimen since Wednesday, June 14. Her manure today actually had some form to it. We'll see how it goes. 

We've had some nice rides and one more lesson. Still working on positioning for me and relaxing my hips. A lot of stretches and hip openers on the lunge line last week during my lesson, and during the week I rode on my own quite a bit without stirrups to lengthen and relax my legs and sit deep in the saddle. Tomorrow she'll get a trim from the farrier so I won't ride. Her feet have gotten quite long in the last six weeks.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The girls

This is Bestie's girl gang. Well, until today. I understand one more mare may have just gotten introduced. She's new to the barn and young, and hopefully will assimilate with no difficulty.

The dynamics seem to be that Bestie is the alpha, and when she's not out, the other 20+ year old mare moves to alpha. There are two young girls who defer - a heartfelt ear pinning by the older mares sends a clear message to them. And then there's Shirley. I'm not sure how old she is, but she likes to push buttons. She and Bestie seem to have moved into the detente period after a few skirmishes early on. They've agreed to disagree.

The field is very big, so they definitely don't need to get in each others' way. I think most of the run ins occur in the run in - the shed gets a bit small if they all crowd in there to escape rain or flies. Another dicey spot is at the gate when one of them is coming or going.

Things have been going pretty well with the group. My fingers are crossed that the new girl doesn't rock the boat.

I've had some good rides with Bestie recently, doing more trotting with some patterns and trying to get her - and me - back into shape. My last lesson with Sue was exhausting (for ME, anyway), as she put Bestie on the lungeline and we did a lot of positioning work. It was good though. Last week some of the obstacles were out and we actually rode across the mattress for the first time. Sometimes Bestie so surprises me - she walked right across the squishy thing without batting an eye.

Her poop has not been normal/firm for a couple of weeks. Folks at the barn think it's because we've gotten so much rain the horses are basically eating wet grass all the time. But we just had three days of sun and her manure firmed up a bit but not to normal. Maybe as a result of the loose manure, she's been going to town on her salt block recently. She does seem to be drinking normally. Today her lower legs above the fetlock were swollen. Not super swollen, but definitely noticeable. I walked her, then hosed her, and soaked the area in Sore No More. She wasn't lame. I plan to see how she looks tomorrow and then confer with someone at the barn as to what plan B should be if the swelling is still present. I have seen her back legs stocked up, usually due to too much standing, but never all four. I wonder if it's possible that all the salt block licking is causing her to swell in the legs? I dunno. Seems like horse ailments are always such a puzzle. I'm anxious to see how she is tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Lunge, ride, graze and groom

Today was hot, 90s hot, so I left Bestie's door open to encourage the air to circulate while I was poking around the barn. She took the opportunity to lick up her neighbor's grain crumbs.

Then when he came over to check her out, she gave him the cold shoulder, but it was kind of a mixed message - one ear back, one ear forward. Her whole posture was saying, "I'm not looking at you. And I don't know who licked up your grain crumbs." So mare-ish.

She had just had a drink from the blue bucket; that's why there's water all over the floor. It's funny - that bucket is for the dogs, but whenever Bestie has access to it, she guzzles from it, even if she has water in the bucket in her stall. The grass is always greener...

Sunday when I got to the barn she was in major heat and pretty crazy, acting like she hadn't been out of her stall in FOREVER, and whinnying at the horses in the barn and in the fields. We went out to the indoor with the lunge line and I just let her run. She hasn't done that in a while, so maybe she needed to let off some steam. We had the place to ourselves. Afterwards, she wandered around the indoor checking out the poles, and muck buckets, and new waterers while I picked up poop.

On Monday she was a little calmer, but still kind of on edge, so I lunged her again.

I rode on Tuesday in the indoor. We did a lot at the walk, with some trotting. We've been doing a lot of serpentines. One curve would usually take us by the open door, so she got to gawk at the horses in the adjoining field, but she didn't try to head out there.

And now, with temps in the 90s for three days, I'm just going during the day to get her out for some mid-day hand grazing and to groom her. Today I scrubbed her back legs with Betadine; she's got a bit of the crud going on. I'm not  hand grazing her very long because she's had pretty loose manure for about a week since we got new hay. The hay looks great, it's dry and green, really fresh looking, but maybe the combination of that with the overnight turnout is giving her too much green. I took her off her supplements and just put her on the probiotic today, and we'll see how that goes. She's totally perky and eating and drinking normally, so everything seems ok, but I hope her poop firms up soon ... if only so that I don't have to inquire when I get to the barn, "How's her poop today?"

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A gorgeous day for a little ride

So beautiful at the barn today! When I took the photo, the horses had their heads out, but because most of them are black, they're not visible. :) Bestie's is the second stall on the right after the center hallway.

All in all, this week has been gorgeous with sunny skies and really pleasant temperatures. I didn't ride on Monday because when I got to the barn, Bestie was in the line-up for a trim from the farrier. On Tuesday we spent some quality time doing serpentines in the indoor. She has been a little sluggish. I don't know if she's tired during the day from being out all night, or if she is just being a stinker (nahh, I don't really feel like trotting), or if something is bothering her. 

I had her chiropracted a couple of weeks ago - after my lesson - and he said she was in good shape for a horse of her age, and only pointed out a bit of arthritis in her left hock. She just turned 21 at the end of April, so I was pretty happy with his assessment. I put her on a senior supplement that has a bit more "joint juice" as well as Devil's Claw for discomfort. The problem is that she isn't eating it. I've tried to entice her - chopped up peppermint candies to mix with it, and Horace at the barn has doused it with corn oil. The oil seems to do the trick, so guess I'll be buying oil. 

With three days of rain beginning tomorrow in the forecast, I decided to ride again today. We went in the indoor for about 15 minutes, then strolled around the paddocks. No one was out, even next door - I think that the neighbor must also be doing evening turnout - but Bestie seemed fine with that. The walk around the paddocks offers a couple of little hills, so it's good work for her. After we were done she seemed to expect her grain and turnout, but it was a bit early. Her inner clock was off. I headed for home to mow more of the lawn before the rain comes.