Thursday, February 26, 2009

Feed and Care Part II

I started describing our feeding program in my first post on this subject. I described our approach to feeding forage since that is the foundation for any feeding program. I also mentioned that we are not big on supplements around here. We do use them as needed, and I emphasize the "as needed" part.

Of course forage makes up the bulk of our program and the horses have hay and/or pasture available to them 24/7/365 as described in the post referenced above. We also always have free choice salt available for the horses as well. We do nothing fancy in the salt department, just white blocks in a holder near the water troughs. The trace mineralized blocks are worthless, as Jason said they are described with the word "trace" because the only minerals in them are the ones that happened to land on them as they wheeled the blocks past the mineral storage.

A few horse people seem to get hung up on how to meet the salt requirements. Some are convinced that horses have to have loose salt and there is supposedly some study floating around somewhere that says horses that have only salt blocks instead of loose salt are chronically salt deficient as they don't have rough enough tongues to lick salt from a block. I call BS on that. My horses have a blood panel done yearly and I've even had hair analysis done a couple of times. I've yet to see a salt deficiency. Given the proficiency that some of the residents display in doing what I call salt block sculpting and carving with the salt blocks they don't rely on their tongues anyway!

Another trend in the salt department lately appears to be Himalayan salt. I am neither for or against Himalayan salt but I have yet to see or read about any compelling reason as to why horses need this very expensive salt. Trust me, all you have to do is ask Jason about how eager I am to jump on board with each and every feeding bandwagon there is! If there were some truly convincing argument in favor of Himalayan salt the horses here would have it in front of them.

We also keep a mineral supplement available to the horses as well. It is either in loose form in a pan in the shelters or in a block form in holders just like the salt. I'm not going to go into the details of the mineral mix because our mineral mix is not necessarily relevant for any other farm. It is based on our hay/soil/grass analyses that Jason does on a regular basis. We have also top dressed the horses' feed daily with kelp meal in the past in lieu of using a mineral mix. It is just easier from a time perspective to have it available to them free choice instead of scooping it out individually every single day.

As far as "hard" feed or grain that has evolved over time as well. We've run the gamut of options from Jason designing and balancing a feed for us and having it custom milled to using a variety of commercial feeds. The custom milling was great but our problem with that is always the minimum tonnage that we had to buy in order to have this done. Of the local options we have available for custom mixing feed we have to order a three ton minimum. In the summer months it spoils before we use it all so it just didn't work out logistically.

So then I felt like a mad scientist as I ended up with a zillion different feeds in my feed room trying to make pre-made feeds work. That was just a headache. Then our local feedstore started carrying a feed milled about 70 miles away from us just across the Alabama line. It was basically almost exactly what Jason had designed when we tried the custom milling route. The NSC content (non soluble carbohydrates) is one of the lowest on the market at 9%. Compare that to Nutrena Safe Choice which has an NSC content of somewhere around 22% and Purina Equine Senior which is approximately 24%. (Please note those are NOT exact percentages for those feeds, those are from memory and I have not looked at a NSC comparison chart in quite awhile). I would also like to point out that it is easy to get caught up in the latest fads when it comes to feeding horses. Horses need carbohydrates, they need protein, they need fat, they need fiber, they need digestible energy, etc but around here safety comes first and safety with elderly, insulin resistant residents equals low NSC.

This feed is 14% protein, 8% fat and 16% fiber and comes in a pelleted form. It can be fed as a complete feed which is a key factor for us and our toothless wonders. The vit/mineral profile is good AND they come from organic sources. A lot of feeds and vit/min supplements have an ingredient list that looks impressive but the form of the minerals is often a form that is basically unavailable to the horse. So for example even though the ingredient list says you are giving your horse X% of selenium it is probably all just passing straight through the horse without being absorbed. This feed is the closest I have found to a one size fits all for our farm.

The only other ingredients currently in our feedroom are beet pulp shreds and alfalfa cubes. Since some of our older residents are missing some or most of their teeth they simply cannot masticate grass and hay properly and they need us to supply them with some alternate forms of forage. This is just my personal opinion but I would NEVER feed any form of beet pulp (pellets, shreds, etc.) or hay cubes without thoroughly soaking them first. If you have ever had the misfortune of dealing with choke in a horse you will go out of your way to avoid it! This also means that almost all of the residents get their pelleted feed that I described above soaked as well as this is a pretty dry pellet. Not just the residents with questionable teeth but those that tend to eat fast for example get their pelleted feed soaked. Basically almost every horse on the farm is fed soaked feed. We spend lots of time soaking feed around here!

The only supplement that we use with regularity is Yea Sacc. We feed this to all of the older residents and anyone that tends to be anything but an extremely easy keeper. Yea Sacc is a live yeast culture which helps stabilize gut pH and also enhances fiber digestion. We cut our feed bill dramatically when we started using Yea Sacc a couple of years ago. We of course have some residents that get various joint supplements that their owners provide.

I am often amazed at the length of the SmartPak strips that accompany new arrivals. Their owners are spending a fortune every month giving their horses a zillion different supplements. Everything from coat enhancers to immune system boosters, various vit/min supplements (sometimes more than one!) and everything else under the sun. I have to say they are always (pleasantly) surprised that their horses look and feel just as good if not better with us after we convince them they don't need all of those supplements. The horses are glad not to have so many mystery additives to their food and the owners save a lot of money every month. Again we are not against supplements when their is a real need, but why spend the money "just because" or "just in case?"

One other note about feed. Jason always gets a chuckle when he hears the pronouncement that sweet feed is terrible for a horse, nothing but carbs and sugar! This is often followed by the proud announcement of "therefore my horse eats a pelleted feed." Guess what folks, what do you think is the binder ingredient holding most of those pelleted feeds together? That's right, molasses. You cannot just assume that pellet=good and sweet feed=bad. You have to look at all of the ingredients and see what the total NSC content of the feed is to have an accurate picture. Believe it or not there are sweet feeds out there that will have a much lower NSC content (and much lower molasses levels) than some of the pelleted feeds.

I am very lucky to be married to Jason and be able to take advantage of his knowledge every day. Although I have taken a couple of basic equine nutrition courses it is hard not to be lazy when you can just go ask Jason. It is quite nice having someone around who can basically balance out an entire feeding program in his head just because he has done it so many times! It is especially great to have someone who can scan the label of a supplement or a feed tag and let me know right away if A) there is enough of the right things listed and B) if the ingredients are available in a form that is readily uptaken by the horse. It saves a lot of time and money!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Welcome Wilhelmina and Josephine

We have fainting goats!!! Jason, the world's greatest husband ever, broke down and bought two fainting goats for me for Valentine's day. They were not ready to be weaned in time for V-day so we went and picked them up on Saturday. Jason insisted they be named Wilhelmina and Josephine. I have no idea why but he was unwavering on those two names. So they are fondly referred to as "Mina" and "Joe." My only complaint is neither of us is fully recovered yet from our bout with the flu so I haven't been able to enjoy Mina and Jo as much as I would have liked to. Jason and I are still coughing, hacking and sleeping a lot!

We picked up Mina and Jo on Saturday. We had a giant dog crate in the back of the Tahoe that took up most of the cargo area. We could have put about 10 goats in there so they had plenty of room for their short trip to the farm. I could not believe how quiet they were when we put them in the crate. They just looked around and took in their new surroundings. I guess I was expecting panic and crashing around trying to escape.


When we started driving they got a little more nervous and they talked a bit and moved around. We were on the interstate and a very noisy semi passed us. Then Jason and I heard a very distinct "thunk." One fainting goat had just . . . fainted. I will admit this made me sad.
Jason: One of your fainting goats just fainted

Me: I know, it makes me sad

Jason: What do you mean it makes you sad?

Me: I'm sad because she fainted

Jason: Hands getting tight on the steering well and voice becoming strained - She fainted because she is a fainting goat which is what you said you wanted.

Me: It is what I want, I just don't want them to faint
Jason: So we just paid a premium for fainting goats that you now don't want to faint??? (voice sounding more and more strained)

Me: I just don't want them to be scared

Jason: If you don't want fainting goats then why did we get these two goats? We already have goats???

Me: I want fainting goats, they are exactly what I wanted.

Jason: So did I do a good thing or a bad thing?

Me: You did a great thing. You have like one zillion new points on the board.

I think because of my continued weakened state from the flu I was not expressing myself well. I think their fainting is neat and cute but I was just sad because I knew they were scared. One minute they were hanging out with the other kids their age and the next they were in this box hurtling down the interstate.

Mina and Jo have been settling in well and are starting to get used to us. They are currently living in one of the stalls so they have time to acclimate to their new home and get used to their new people. They were both born in mid December so they are just babies. Cloudy the cat hangs out in their stall with them sometimes. They are really curious about Cloudy but he hisses at them if they get too close.

Bear is insanely jealous of Mina and Jo. When we are in the stall with them Bear basically throws himself against the door repeatedly in desperate efforts to get in with us. I think he is convinced we have new dogs in the stall since he saw them come out of the dog crate! I don't have any good pictures of them yet. I still feel too crummy to have my camera handy but I did get a few pictures of them after we got them home on Saturday afternoon.

So please welcome Mina and Jo and feel free to tell Jason what a great guy he is in the comments. He needs to get lots of accolades for this!!

Jo on the left and Mina on the right with the white stripe


Mina on the left and Jo on the right; I'm sure they were wondering "what in the world do they want with us now?"

Mina; she has big, floppy ears that I think are really cute.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Not My Best Week Ever

I have to say this has not been the greatest week ever. Jason and I have BOTH had the flu. On Sunday evening we made our usual run to the grocery store. On the way home we both had a very light cough, I would compare it to when you have a tickle in your throat. By Monday morning Jason was really sick. He did not get out of bed from Sunday evening until Tuesday morning, spiking a fever of about 103 during that time. That is the first time I've EVER seen Jason not get out of bed like that. I did not feel great on Monday but would not describe myself as sick until Monday evening.

By the time I was feeding all of the horses dinner on Monday I was heading downhill fast. I was in absolute misery on Tuesday, pretty comparable to where Jason was on Monday. Thanks goodness for great help. Unfortunately Tuesday was one of the only days this week when Jason and I did not have any help. I fed breakfast and dinner and got through stall cleaning, water troughs etc. All of us horse people have had to care for the ponies when we are miserably sick so that is nothing new. The killer was I had to put rainsheets on everyone as we had a front moving through Tuesday evening bringing us rain and a temperature drop. By some miracle I managed to get a farm full of horses in their rainsheets. I say this not to praise myself but in sheer wonderment that I managed to get the right sheets on the right horses and get all of the buckles and surcingles attached correctly!

Jason did not get to spend the entire day in bed on Tuesday. He did venture out on the tractor Tuesday afternoon filling up some of the hay feeders. Really they all had enough hay to make it another day or so but with the temperature change coming we felt it important they have plenty of fresh hay to choose from. I will admit that as I was dragging myself around the farm that afternoon feeling utterly sorry for myself it was nice to know that my misery had company. I cannot say that Jason was exactly driving in smooth, straight lines on the tractor! It probably wasn't the smartest thing for him to be driving heavy equipment in his sick and drugged state but it was the only option at the time. If we weren't outside working we were lying in the bed thinking about our miserable state.

Wednesday was a lot easier just because we had great help again. My only contribution was feeding dinner and topping up some water troughs and Jason was back on the tractor briefly putting out some more hay. Other than that we had great help do everything else for us, right down to grooming some of the horses.

I don't think Jason and I have really slept since Monday. We've spent plenty of time in the bed but there has been so much coughing, hacking, sneezing, aching and sweating through our clothes from fever for any sleep to be happening. One of us didn't even have to go sleep in another room since we were both being so noisy. Today we both attempted to get back to our normal routines. I would describe us as both still feeling puny and being in a fog-like state but we both appeared to be rid of our fevers as of this morning as well as most of the accompanying achiness. The coughing, hacking and sneezing remains but is slowing down. Hopefully we will both get some sleep tonight. Tomorrow is a busy day as our wonderful farrier Gwen will be here.

I will wrap up my pity part of a post now and share some pictures from November. As usual I am way behind on pictures!

I included this one just because Jason is smiling and looking happy, unlike this week. Gracie the cat is in the background and of course that is Bear crawling on him.
From L-R Homer, Chance, Bella the dog, Apollo, Ivan, Elfin
I'm not sure why Bear was "jailed" in the back of the truck as I'm too drugged to remember but he looks cute!
Levendi
Chance
All lined up with somewhere to go. Front to back it is Leo, Elfin and Homer.
Harmony
Buffy
Teddy
Sebastian and Ogie
Trillion and Asterik were really interested in something in the neighboring pasture
Sebastian
Homer, Leo and Elfin grazing on a beautiful fall day


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Another Busy Weekend - Pasture Preparation

Spring is just around the corner! Our grass is starting to green back up thanks to the 10 days of nice weather in the 60's and 70's. I got a bit grumpy yesterday afternoon and today as I had to put my coat back on. Jason spent the last few days working on pasture maintenance.

His first step was to spread the contents of our manure compost pile. Our only issue with compost is that we simply don't have enough of it! Since most of the horses live outside 24/7 we don't make huge daily contributions to the pile like most boarding facilities would. Composted manure (and shavings, hay, straw, etc.) is a beautiful thing and so good for your pastures and we wish we had more. Given all of the rain we've had over since the fall our compost pile has had plenty of moisture to help the composting process along. This was a two tractor job for Jason. He had the old Kubota tractor hooked up to the manure spreader and was using the Ford tractor to load up the spreader with compost.

Jason spent a good part of one day getting the contents of the manure compost pile spread. You would think it wouldn't take that long but you have to factor in all of the other steps aside from just driving around with the spreader. We don't use the manure spreader very often so it had been sitting for quite awhile and needed to be greased and serviced. He had to switch out the hay spear for the bucket on the front loader of the Ford tractor. Then he had to hook up the manure spreader. Then switch back and forth between tractors as he used the Ford to load the compost and then the Kubota to spread it. And of course when you are done you have to put all of the toys away!

Scooping up a big pile of compost to dump in the manure spreader; things were really cooking in there as evidenced by the steam
Emptying the bucket of composted manure into the spreader
Spreading

Jason then spent another day harrowing the pastures. Harrowing is excellent for pastures. It loosens things up and breaks down and spreads organic matter. After Jason had run the harrow over the areas where he had spread compost you couldn't even tell the compost had been spread.
Dragging the chain harrows over the pastures

Our next step will be reseeding certain areas of the pastures using a no-till drill. We hope to get that accomplished within the next two weeks. My one big complaint about this farm is that we spend a lot more time and money than should be necessary on pasture maintenance. We only have one sacrifice area that we can use which makes it hard to rotate and rest the pastures. Since we keep our stocking rate very reasonable we still have beautiful pastures that are the envy of most boarding facilities but they could be even better. My dad will not let us use electric fencing anywhere as he is a big ham radio operator and he says the current from the electric fence interferes with his reception. The vast majority of boarding facilities rarely give their pastures any rest and make matters worse by having way too many animals per acre.

The ideal approach for pasture management is that any patch of ground should be resting about 90% of the time. The agricultural term for this approach is MIG, or management intensive grazing. By far the easiest way to accomplish this is to use a system of advancing electric tape where the livestock (horses, cattle, sheep, or any other grazing animals) are grazed intensively on relatively small areas of grass and moved to fresh grass every two to three days.

Before all of you horse people start jumping up and down and screaming about grazing horses on grass too rich or not having enough space to move and run we don't ever plan to implement a pasture management program as intensive as MIG. However when we do finally find a new tract of land to purchase (I fear the search will never end!!) we have very specific ideas about how our pastures will be laid out.

We do not plan to waiver on our current approach of allowing approximately two acres per horse per pasture. We intend to lay out each pasture with the run-in shed and water hydrant in the middle of the pasture. There will be somewhere between 1-2 acres fenced off around the shed for a sacrifice area and the pasture will be divided into four quadrants so the horses can be rotated through each quadrant. They will always have access to the sacrifice area to use the shelter and of course drink from the water troughs. Horses are notoriously hard on pastures because they are spot grazers. Instead of grazing an entire pasture efficiently they will graze the same areas down over and over until they finally just wreck those areas. Being able to rotate them around the pasture through four different fields will allow their "spots" to have some good rest from their destructive habits!

Jason also likes to point out that cows don't go charging through the fields when they are soaking wet after a hard rain and do sliding stops, grand bucks and leaps into the air, and roll back turns, tearing up the grass roots with every step they take as they have fun. This is where the sacrifice area will come in handy. When the ground is really wet and saturated they can just hang out in the sacrifice area for a day or two while the ground has a chance to dry up. The sacrifice areas would have footing in and around the shelters, the water troughs and the hay feeding areas. Ultimately this will not only make pasture maintenance easier from a time perspective but also allow us to control this cost area a bit better as well (so less cost that has to be factored into the board). Since prices of grass seed, fertilizer, and pretty much anything to do with pasture maintenance have gone up considerably the last few years this is a good thing! We won't eliminate the need for re-seeding or other steps but we hope to reduce the frequency of the need.

We also amend our pastures as needed according to our soil tests. Jason has identified that we have seventeen different soil types on the farm in various locations through soil testing. I have to say this drives him a bit batty as when he farmed over a thousand acres in Ontario he had exactly two different soil types that he dealt with! Certain areas of the farm need to have lime spread every few years. We spread lime in these areas two years ago and our soil tests have indicated that we have not needed to re-lime yet. We expect this will need to be done again in the next year or so. Liming is a BIG job! With 140 acres to potentially spread lime on at 2 tons of lime per acre, think truckload after truckload, day after day. Liming is also expensive, as you might imagine! The lime helps to raise the soil pH to make it much more friendly for nutrients to be uptaken by grass and much less friendly for many major weeds to grow.

In between all of our pasture prep work the last few days we managed to have fun hanging out with two of Jason's college friends. They were in Louisville for the big farm show and drove down to see us on Saturday. We always enjoy having the opportunity to host Canadian visitors! All in all we had another great weekend, very busy and very productive.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lexi

Lexi is one of my two "babies" who are not really babies any more. Bonnie and Lexi will both be turning five soon. Bonnie's birthday is in late March and Lexi's birthday is in late April. Lexi is out of my wonderful mare Bridget. You can see several pictures of Bridget at the bottom of this post. Lexi's sire is the hanoverian stallion Landkonig who stands at Rainbow Equus Meadows in California.



They have lived outside 24/7 since they were born and have always gotten to just run around and be horses. I believe this is the healthiest way to raise foals both for physical development and for developing social skills with other horses. They are both a bit behind on their educations under saddle thanks to me. I waited until the summer of their three year old year to have them backed. I think that was a good thing but then I didn't have time to continue working with them after that and they hung out in the field again for several months. They certainly weren't complaining about that by the way.



I got back on track with riding them last summer and we were starting to really make some progress. I took them to an open schooling day at our local cross country course just to get them off the farm and exposed to strange places, horses, etc. They were both great and even went through the water jump, jumped the ditch and went up and down the bank. Then we had our trailer incident thanks to an idiot driver. Thankfully both of their injuries were pretty mild in the grand scheme of things but they needed some time off to recover. Of course when they were ready to be brought back to work I was extremely busy on the farm so they sat around for several months again.



I started riding Lexi on New Year's Day and put Bonnie with a trainer a few miles from the farm a few weeks before that so they are both in work again. I have thoroughly enjoyed every single ride I have had on Lexi since getting back in the saddle again to start the year off right. So Lexi has a grand total of just under six months under saddle, and unfortunately it isn't six months in a row.



Jason took some pictures of me riding Lexi this weekend. With such perfect weather what better way to enjoy it than riding? I have to say she was especially fantastic during today's ride. We've been incorporating trot poles into our work the last few rides and today we cantered some poles. She was so cute and reminded me so much of her mother when she was learning to go over poles and then learning to jump. Bridget's signal that she felt good was when she would squeal after a pole or a jump and do a mini version of a crow hop. And I do mean mini, a beginner could sit through it easily. Lexi did the exact same thing today! The first time we cantered the pole she squealed and did a mini crow hop on her first stride after the pole. It made my day and I hugged her as we were cantering around after her squeal and hop.



Horses really know how to bring out a wide spectrum of emotions in me. They bring me such joy and happiness, but they've also brought me a lot of sadness and despair from certain situations. Facing the reality of Bridget's retirement was really hard. Losing one of our retirees is really hard. Seeing them happily grazing, napping or playing is wonderful. A great ride on a horse you bred and raised yourself is almost unbeatable. So thanks for such a great time today Lexi!



Jason and Bear were my audience on Sunday although Bear was apparently much more interested in chewing on his stick. Walking
Trotting
Starting to engage herself here
Going across the diagonal
Jason cut my head off but he got a nice picture of Lexi!
Big pats as we walk along on a loose rein
Cantering on the left lead
Cantering on the right lead

Getting up in a little bit of a 2 point position and asking her to start really cantering forward on a loose rein
More big pats for being such a good girl
Lexi moving in for her candy cane treat for a job well done. Jason came home with a bunch of candy canes that he bought on sale shortly after Christmas. He had gone to get a prescription filled and they had all of the Christmas candy on sale. He announced he had bought me a bunch of candy canes since they were on sale and I liked them so much. Huh??? Jason, how many years have you known me and how many candy canes have you seen me eat during that time? Yep, ZERO. I guess it is the though that counts although I am clueless as to where the thought actually came from. The horses have all been enjoying the candy canes though!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More pictures of the Dogmobile

As I have mentioned before the dogmobile is my dad's Gator. He always has at least one dog, usually two and sometimes four or five dogs riding along with him in the Gator. There are a couple of pictures of the dogmobile in this post. You can meet some of the dogs in this post and Bush the coon hound had his own post. With the exception of Bear the schipperke all of the dogs on the farm are strays that somehow made their way here.

I mentioned the wonderful weather we've had the last several days. 70's and sunshine is hard to beat. That also means it is perfect weather to be out working on the farm so the dogs had plenty of opportunities to catch a lot of rides on the dogmobile the last few days.

According to Jason Bugle introduces himself like this: "My name is Bugle and I belong to Mr. Tom and I ride on the front seat of the Gator without exception." By the way Bugle is the tall black and white border collie. We don't actually know what his breeding is but he looks like a border collie with extra long legs. He is not to be confused with Bella the border collie who is also black and white.

Jason has also assigned some phrases to Bush the coon hound. According to Jason Bush introduces himself like this (and it must be said in a slow southern drawl): "Welcome to this farm, my name is Bush. Do you know how to run this machine?" Bush would be referring to the Gator as the machine. Bush lives to ride in the back of the Gator. He sleeps in the Gator waiting for someone to come and drive it around. Sometimes he refuses to get out of the Gator and my parents have to feed him in the Gator.

The other dog seen riding along on the dogmobile in these pictures is Trooper. Trooper is a 3-legged black lab mix missing his right front leg. Amazingly Trooper could be identical twins with another dog whom we lost this past summer. Sherman was also a 3-legged black lab mix missing his right front leg. I adopted Sherman many years ago from the shelter. He was the VP, Public Relations of my recruiting company and went to work with me in the fancy office park every day. My mom happened to be shopping at the mall when the local no-kill shelter Happy Tales was having an adoption day. She saw Trooper there and said for a second she got confused and thought she was looking at Sherman. So of course Trooper had a new home from that adoption day!!

Bush fast asleep waiting for someone to come and drive the Gator

If you look closely you will see this is not the same picture as the one above. I didn't realize it as I was taking the picture of Bush sleeping but Bugle was sleeping on the passenger seat of the Gator. He woke up when he heard the camera click. That is his nose peeking over the top from the passenger seat.

Bugle letting out a big yawn. I'm sure he is wondering when my dad is going to return to shuttle him around. How long does a dog have to wait for a ride around here??

A traffic jam of utility vehicles. Riding with dad is Bush in the back, Bugle on the passenger seat and Trooper on the floorboard looking over the dash in front of Bugle. What you don't see is Bear on the front seat of the Kubota with Jason. He is too short so he is hidden from this angle.

Trooper sitting up and showing off while also giving me a big yawn.

Trooper giving us a more serious look.

Dad driving along with some passengers

While dad and I were chatting he put his hat on Bugle. He looked really cute in it but unfortunately he has his eyes mostly shut in the picture!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Another Great Weekend

Mother Nature has smiled on us the last few days, and from the looks of our forecast will continue to smile for several more days. Friday was sunny and high 50's, Saturday was sunny and mid 60's, and today (Sunday) was 72 degrees and sunny. Beautiful!

I saw several of the retirees enjoying the sunshine and taking lazy naps this weekend. Faune was out cold on Saturday afternoon and soaking up some rays. I hope he had a nice dream or two as well.

With the way things started off on Friday it looked like we might be in for a rough weekend. When we were feeding breakfast on Friday Traveller was not acting like himself at all. He sloooowly made his way over to get his feedbag for breakfast instead of coming on the run or standing at the gate waiting on our arrival. He proceeded to eat his usual breakfast of a hot mash of alfalfa cubes and senior feed in slow motion. He wasn't acting exactly what I would describe as colicy but he definitely wasn't acting right either.

Amy, one of the two wonderful people named Amy who helps me, wondered if the removal of his cribbing collar had caused him to have a gassy stomach. He had gotten a couple of rubs from his cribbing collar so we had pulled it off of him to give him a break from it for a few days. I put a halter on him and led him to the barn. As we were walking to the barn I called my vet from my cell phone and described the situation and mentioned the removal of the cribbing collar and Traveller's ensuing crib-fest. He agreed that it was possible he could have given himself gas and told me to administer 6cc's of banamine and call him in thirty minutes.

As I was having this conversation with the vet while leading Traveller into the barn he passed a big and very normal looking pile of manure. Yeah! Amy carried on feeding the other horses while Jason took Traveller from me, put him in a stall and put his cribbing collar back on. I went and got my bottle of banamine out of the fridge in the barn and drew up Traveller's shot. I swear I hadn't even finished depressing the plunger when Traveller started acting very normal again. He began demanding his breakfast be returned to him which was ok'd by the vet since it is a well-soaked mush. He ate his mash with his usual enthusiasm and then began demanding hay. We gave him hay which he proceeded to hoover up. Clearly he was fine. The banamine hadn't even had time to kick in yet but apparently the cribbing collar was doing the job. Now that Traveller hadn't cribbed for a little while he was feeling much better. I called my vet back and told him it looked like our crisis was aborted and thankfully short lived.

We kept him in a stall to observe him for a few more hours. He ate several flakes of hay, passed several normal manure piles and drank several gallons of water. We returned Traveller to his pals out in the field mid-afternoon. When I took his halter off he went tearing across the field at Mach 10 screaming for his friends. He has acted 100% his usual self ever since but of course I've still been on pins and needles. I also got creative with Jason's sock drawer and cut the toes out of several socks (Jason if you are wondering where a bunch of your socks went I took them) and seriously padded up Traveller's cribbing collar. He now looks like he is from the 80's with a big sweat band around his forehead and is on his way to aerobics class. Hey, it was the best I could do on short notice.
Traveller back with two of his pals on Friday afternoon. Poco the shetland pony and Sparky the donkey were happy to welcome Traveller back to the group.

The rest of the day on Friday through the weekend was uneventful, just the way I like it. We enjoyed the weather and took our time with all of our chores this weekend. We lingered with the horses over breakfast and dinner and spent extra time with the grooming tools because it was just so pleasant to be outside. I rode Lexi in the arena two days and just walked along out in one of the fields on a loose rain enjoying the weather one day. Jason and I went to check on Bonnie's progress with the trainer on Saturday. I rode Bonnie for a few minutes after watching her undersaddle with the trainer. She is coming along slowly but surely.
Buds on the trees

Jason also did some minor tractor repairs and seemed to have lots of reasons to be driving around in the Kubota utility vehicle. He also took lots of pictures of us carrying on in our short-sleeved shirts to send to all of his family and friends in Ontario. He also took pictures of the many buds on the trees and the daffodils which are only about a week or so away from blooming to send to everyone in Ontario as well. All in all another very pleasant weekend!
Jason driving the Kubota utility vehicle and doing something (performing tractor surgery maybe?) to the tractor