Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

It is hard to believe this is the last day of 2009. Overall it has been a great year and I would not complain if 2010 continued on in much the same way as 2009. The low points of 2009 were saying goodbye to Poco, Bridget and Trillion. Unfortunately when you live on a horse retirement farm you do get to experience the full circle of life on a regular basis, including the sad parts. There is so much fun and joy involved that it makes it worth it though. In 2009 we had the pleasure of welcoming new residents, becoming friends with their owners, and had the pleasure of spending our days on the farm. It is a wonderful life and if I were not living it myself I can say that I would be jealous of someone else who was.

As the last day of 2009 unfolded Jason and I pretty much had our plans set for us. That is something of a joke as we really had no plans except to curl up on the couch and watch a movie. We ended up tending to a sick horse and a sick fainting goat.

One of the world's cutest fainting goats has a urinary tract infection. We noticed some blood in her urine and that was one of our two vet calls today. We also have a horse who is acting completely normal aside from the fact that he was slightly sweaty on his neck which Amy noticed when she fed him this morning. (I have to say it is so nice to know that your help is as cognizant of the details as we are!) He had a high fever but no other symptoms, normal appetite, drinking water, passing manure, urinating . . . otherwise completely normal.

So that brought us to vet visit number two for this last day of 2009. He was given IV bute which did the job as his temperature went back down to normal and has remained there for several hours. The vet came back to check him again this afternoon and was pleased with our dramatic temperature drop. The vet will be back for another recheck in the morning, so we will start off 2010 with the vet! This is a bit of a mystery as no other horse is exhibiting any signs of anything being remiss and we've had no new horses on the farm. Combined with the fever being his only symptom it is definitely odd. Hopefully his temperature will continue to remain normal and we can put this behind us as an odd but distant memory very soon. I can say that our patient is pretty sick of having a thermometer shoved up his rear end every hour, can't say that I blame him!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year and a wonderful 2010!


Trigger, Thomas and Apollo


Homer and Levendi

Chance in the front, Homer and Levendi behind him

Asterik on the move

Winston and Faune going somewhere in a hurry



Cuff Links

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pretty Quiet + Feed Change

It has been quiet around the farm this week. We never complain about that. About the only thing of interest going on is we are having to change feed. We have fed the same feed for a couple of years, a locally milled complete feed that was very low in NSC's (9%), with good fat, fiber and protein content and a nice vitamin/mineral profile. After a couple of years of scooping out way too many different feeds every day trying to meet each horse's needs, we found this feed a couple of years ago that worked beautifully for all of the horses.

Unfortunately Jason learned that the mill is now making medicated cattle feeds as well. Jason feels it is not worth the risk of purchasing horse feed from a facility that also mills medicated cattle feed and he declared that the load of feed we had would be the last one. Rumensin is deadly to horses and he did not want to take the risk of contamination. Feed mills have various protocols in place to avoid contamination but accidents happen. In fact to the best of his knowledge all of the major nationwide brands have had horses pass away due to a feed problem either in the distant past or recently, and many of the regional brands have as well. The good news is that these incidents have led most major feed manufacturers to revamp their safety protocols to prevent another occurrence. It is not just accidental rumensin contamination that has lead to the deaths of horses, but his feeling is if we can hopefully eliminate that possibility than we would be remiss in not doing so.

We are in the process of switching to a Triple Crown feed (TC Senior). It is slightly higher in NSC's than what we have been feeding at 12% NSC vs the 9% NSC of our old feed . That is still low compared to many other feeds though. For example Safe Choice is something like 22% NSC's (don't quote me on that exact number). It does have a higher fat content than what we had been feeding (10% vs 6%) which we like, and is the same as far as protein and fiber. The vitamin/mineral is comparable as well. I like the fat that the TC soaks and softens a lot faster, when you are soaking feed for over 30 horses every day that makes a difference! We are making the change slowly over a couple of weeks. The feeds are comparable enough that I do not anticipate any issues with the change.

Other than feed adjustments there is not much else going on around here out of the ordinary. As always we hope it stays that way!

I probably won't blog again before the 1st so Happy New Year!!

Something had Asterik's attention

Cuff Links; I think he manages to get cuter every day

Missy and Lily grazing companionably

Baby, Dustin and Tony

Lily, MyLight, Cuff Links and Harmony

Leo on the run

Front to back Chance, Ivan and Leo running through the pasture; the big boys love to play and run.

More Boys on the run: Front to back Levendi, Thomas and Elfin
Levendi, Thomas and Elfin . . . still running!

Homer and Tony on the run

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Monday Pictures, Holiday Report

I am sorry it has been several days since the last blog update. As you can imagine we have been extra busy (in a good way!) the last few days. The horses don't celebrate any holidays, nor do they believe in sick days or personal time for their helpers, so we have to fit in our family time, family meals and general holiday festivities around the usual farm work. It did not leave any time for the computer! We had fun and enjoyed our family gatherings, and the horses never realized anything different was going on except to wonder why breakfast was early and dinner was late! On Christmas Day I got up extra early and did morning chores myself, then Jason did mid day chores himself and we did evening chores together. We did have a white Christmas on a technicality this year. It snowed for about five minutes on Christmas Day, although of course it didn't stick to the ground and it was over before it started. But it still snowed on Christmas!

Jason was supposed to fly to Canada on Saturday to visit his mom for a few days. Thanks to the latest attempt at an airplane bombing (that thankfully did not happen) his flight was cancelled, the Nashville to Toronto flight was cancelled again today, and tomorrow is not looking much better. The problem is that the Toronto airport is having to really step up security on flights entering the U.S., and this is causing massive delays in screening of both passengers and baggage at an already over crowded Toronto airport and the commuter flights are being cancelled. Air Canada runs a commuter flight from Toronto to Nashville, with a return flight from Nashville to Toronto each day. The problem is the plane is never making it here from Toronto, and it is hard to board a plane that isn't at the Nashville airport! Travel at the holidays is just grand isn't it?

I hope everyone had a nice holiday week and is looking forward to 2010!

Chili over the fence; Chili is a Quarter Horse who worked cattle and was also a trail riding partner.

Asterik is a Holsteiner who showed in both the jumpers and the hunters on the A circuit

Winston is a Thoroughbred and retired show hunter

Lily, Buffy and MyLight. I like this picture not because it is a good picture of the horses but because they were standing on a rise and you can see a different part of the farm in the background. Lily is a Quarter Horse/Warmblood cross and retired jumper. Buffy and MyLight are both Thoroughbreds. Buffy was a show hunter and MyLight is retired from dressage.

The Big Boys love to run and p lay. Thomas, Trigger and Levendi are in the front. In the background is Ivan, Homer and Apollo. Thomas is a Holsteiner, Trigger is an Appendix Quarter Horse and Levendi is an Oldenburg, Thomas is retired from dressage, Trigger and Levendi were both show hunters. Ivan is a Thoroughbred and retired jumper. Homer is an Irish bred and retired show hunter. Apollo is a Hanoverian and retired from dressage.

Thomas, Trigger and part of Levendi

Tony and Baby on the run. Tony is a Dutch Warmblood and Baby is a son of the well known hunter stallion Jupiter. Tony and Baby are both retired show hunters.

Trigger, Tony, Levendi, Thomas and Elfin. Elfin is a Thoroughbred and retired show hunter.

Trigger, Tony, Thomas, Levendi

Homer, Thomas, Levendi and Baby

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thoughts on De-Worming

As a farm manager you have a lot of odd topics that are constantly rumbling around in your head. One thing that has been on my mind lately is de-worming. There are two schools of thought on this topic. The first school says to aggressively de-worm and double dose most of the classes of wormers, and each horse should be PowerPac'd at least once a year, some recommend a PowerPac twice a year. The thought is that fecals do not show all worms that are present in a horse, only those that are in the digestive tract, and not even all of those since encysted worms obviously do not show on a fecal count. Tapeworms used to not be detected but I think maybe there is a new test but I am not positive if/where I read that.

The other school of thought when it comes to de-worming is that more and more resistance is being documented to almost every class of de-wormer we have available today. This school of thought says we need to be using as little de-wormer as possible, daily de-wormers should be abhorred and avoided like the plague, and fecals should be used to determine if a horse should be de-wormed and with what class of chemical.

There are compelling arguments for both trains of thought. I have been swayed by both sides and I still don't know exactly where I stand. I do know that I have read enough articles documenting the rampant resistant caused by using daily de-wormers that I am not going to be considering that route. That being said, as I understand it, we would have the right type of set-up for using a daily de-wormer since we essentially have closed herds. I am not saying I am against the use of the daily wormers at all, and in fact many (many!) years ago used daily de-wormer on my own horses. I stopped mainly because I did not like the idea of putting poison in my horses on a daily basis.

After having a long discussion on the topic of de-worming with one of our vets today I think I am going to start collecting fecal samples and having them tested. I am not going to go out and collect 30+ fecals samples tomorrow, but over time plan to collect samples. The horses are in the barn regularly for grooming, seeing the farrier, etc. so there should be ample opportunity to collect samples. I can't think of a more glamorous way to spend a day. I can imagine the looks of horror on the faces of my non-horsey friends when they ask me what I did at work today and I respond with "I collected fecal samples."

I don't know if I am quite ready to make the leap of only de-worming based on fecals, but I do want to know if we have any resistance issues on our farm with any of the wormer classes. I would also like to try and identify the horses that tend to be 'worm carriers,' those horses that don't naturally have high immunity to worms. I have my guesses about which horses these might be. The current de-worming regime is every other month using rotating classes of chemicals based on the time of the year. Maybe we can develop a more targeted protocol using the fecals.

I guess the bottom line is I am still wavering between the two schools of thought and I am not quite sure where I fit in yet. Your thoughts are welcome, I am very interested in hearing how and why you arrived at your current de-worming protocol.

The adorable Cuff Links


Sebastian and Winston

Gray mares on the run, Harmony, Buffy and Lily
Harmony and Buffy

Clay enjoying a nice roll

Baby, Homer, Leo and Trigger

Apollo and Ivan

Dustin and Trigger

Elfin and Thomas

Tony and Apollo

L-R Elfin (his head anyway!), Apollo, Dustin on the run and Thomas

Bella the dog, Thomas, Elfin, Chance and Homer

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Somehow we missed all of the exciting weather over the weekend. No snow for us, just rain. It did not even rain that much so I can't really complain. It was a pleasant weekend, nothing out of the ordinary, no emergencies, just happy horses thank goodness. I can't believe Christmas is just a few days away, and it is even more shocking to me that 2010 is just a couple of weeks away. Where does the time go????

I am pleased to say that I have finished all of my Christmas shopping this year. This has got to be some kind of world record for me! However I do have it easy in that we only exchange gifts with a very few people. I used to drive myself batty trying to find the perfect gift for everyone and anyone but I gave that up years ago and now find the holidays much more enjoyable. I don't think Jason has even started which is pretty much par for the course for him. He only has to worry about me so he has it pretty easy. I think horse people are pretty darn easy to buy gifts for, just open the Dover catalog and order something, and I guess spring for the overnight shipping!

I have however failed to send out Christmas cards for a second (or is it third??) year in a row. I love receiving them, decorating the house with them, seeing the pictures, reading the updates, really I like everything about the ritual of Christmas cards. I'm just not very good at reciprocating!

I hope everyone had a great weekend and has many great plans with friends and family in the next couple of weeks.

The big boys enjoying a romp through the pasture. Apollo and Dustin are in the back. L-R in the front Thomas, Trigger, Elfin, Levendi and Homer.

Elfin leading the way here followed by Trigger, Homer and Thomas.

Sky, Norman and Cinnamon

Ogie and Faune

Lightening, Chili and Snappy

Levendi, Homer, Elfin and Thomas

Dustin and Thomas


Teddy, Snappy, and (part of) O'Reilly

Buffy and MyLight grazing while Lily walks over to join them