There aren't very many days that we celebrate the end of when it comes to caring for our horses but I have to say that we're both very glad to see the end of Vaccination Day. Truthfully, Vaccination Day is more a series of events than an event that takes place on a single day, but there is no doubt that the biggest event happened today and we are both thrilled to have this day behind us.
When most of the horses live outside in a pasture and everybody has to be caught every time they are handled there is a LOT of advance planning that goes into making a day like today run smoothly. To make it clear for the vet and his assistant(s) Melissa starts by making a master list. The list is sorted by group, and then each group has the horses listed alphabetically. Next to each horse's name she lists who gets what shots on which days, including those who receive banamine with their vaccinations. Everybody carries a copy of the list and we double check our list with the vet's list before we administer shots to any horse.
We put halters on everybody during morning feeding. This usually doesn't go too badly as they are used to being haltered by group for the farrier so most of them just think they're getting another trim. However, once the vet appears and starts administering shots every pasture has one or more "runners." This is the term we use to refer to horses that decide they want no part of any of what's going on and they run away. Chasing down and catching the runners as they maneuver around their 20-40 acre pastures keeps Melissa, myself and whichever of our employees is unfortunate enough to draw duty helping us very busy.
We put the worst of the runners in the barn after morning feeding. However it is not always the same horses that decide to be runners each year so we can't always accurately predict who we will be chasing. We try hard to make sure the vet never has to wait between horses and today was successful in that respect, however in order to make that happen we must have walked, jogged and sometimes run twenty miles between us. It all seemed worthwhile when the vet made the random comment that he liked coming to our farm because we are always so organized, and the day went more efficiently than many of the barns he goes to where the horses are all waiting in stalls.
Normally afternoon feedings go smoothly but that is seldom the case on Vaccination Day. Most of the horses have no desire for more shots and are very suspicious of our motives so they simply don't come when called. Thus after our multi-mile walk/run/jog session with the vet we get to do it all over again a few hours later at feeding time, except this time we have to catch nearly every horse on the farm. Fortunately we had a beautiful day for it this year and I guess one of the benefits to working that hard is that it is likely we'll sleep well tonight.
(on another note Melissa chiming in to say sorry for the lack of pictures, the last couple of days have been extremely occupied and picture taking hardly happened)
Sparky and Sky grooming each other
Chance, Leo and Levendi
Moe, Homer and Apollo
Murphy, Dutch and Wiz
MyLight, Silky and Norman