Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pony Infirmary and Other Happenings

Poco is home! After six days in the clinic Poco came home on Thursday afternoon. He still isn't back to 100% yet. Most of the time his breathing is very normal but his respiratory rate is still higher than it should be at times. He came home with six different medications and a chart to help us keep it all straight.

Poco in his stall at the clinic; although he looks pathetic here he looked a lot more pathetic when he had his IV lines attached

I gave Poco a bath when we got back to the farm. He just had that hospital smell about him and we took care of that right away. Poco does not like to be groomed and he really doesn't like having a bath. I'm sure he felt I was kicking him while he was down! Poco has lots of company in the barn as we are apparently running a pony infirmary around here. We go for long periods where we never need to have the vet out which is pretty impressive since we have quite a few horses here. However the wheels seem to have fallen off in the last week!

Poco especially hates having his face washed so I did show some mercy and left his head alone but washed the rest of him

The adorable Cuff Links had a runny eye and wasn't holding it open all the way so he saw the vet for that. He had a tiny boo boo on his cornea so he is getting eye meds four times a day. Missy suddenly had these big patches of gross skin crud that seemed to come out of nowhere. Literally one day she was the same as always and the next day crusty, yucky skin crud all along her mane on both sides of the neck and patches on both shoulders. So I had the vet look at her as well and take a skin scraping just to make sure she didn't have some type of nasty bacterial infection or a fungus or something. She didn't so we are scrubbing daily with betadine and keeping her in as well so she won't get sunburned and also since the first few flies have started to make their appearance.

On top of the three ponies Lexi had her left hind stifle injected and had to stay in for three days. She started slightly dragging her toe on the left hind so I had the vet exam her as well. She flexed positive on the left hind stifle which did not make my day. So we did several x-rays and thankfully I now know her stifle joint is perfectly clean! However the vet said he thought he could feel some extra fluid around the joint when he palpated so we think she banged it on something or did some random thing to her leg and maybe had some slight inflammation.

If all of that wasn't enough Sparky the donkey had a swollen hind leg yesterday. Sparky is the most accident prone animal on this farm! Sparky had cut on his hock and a bit of heat in his leg so he is now on SMZ's twice a day and a daily betadine scrub. I keep a dry erase board in the aisle of the barn for special instructions as needed. It is usually blank - now it is full! Mostly with Poco's zillion different medications.

I get a headache just looking at it

Needless to say none of us have been looking for things to do this week. When I was feeding this morning I was looking at the grass in the alley between a couple of the pastures. It is think and tall and way past time to be mowed. I really don't even want to think about mowing the alley and I have no doubt Jason feels the same. So I chose the lazy (or maybe it is redneck) option of opening the gates from the pasture where the big boys live and letting them graze it down. The big boys already share a fence line with the pastures on both sides of the alley so decided they could simply share a slightly different fence line and let them graze it down and save some mowing.

Dustin grazing in the alley

Of course the boys acted like they had been transported to a foreign country as they ran up and down the alley several times. The other horses stood and watched them as they raced up and down and up and down. Finally one of them looked down and said "oh my gosh look at this thick, gorgeous grass" and they suddenly stopped running and started eating. They've been eating their heads off ever since.

Teddy and Lucky got tired just watching the boys going back and forth
Levendi looking around and realizing everything looks very familiar, just from a slightly different view
Racing down the alley and back out into their pasture; Tony (left) and Leo (right) are bringing up the rear
Racing back up the alley; L-R Baby, Leo, Elfin, Chance
The Don was striking a pose in the flower bed in front of the barn
I asked Jason to hold my purse for a minute and he went out to check on Mina and Jo. I had to take a picture of him striding along with a purpose holding my purse. It went with his outfit. He begged me not to post this picture and I said I wouldn't. But being the kind of person I am here it is.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Thermoneutral Zone - Another Guest Post By Jason

A number of Melissa’s blog post readers have asked that I do an occasional question and answer series regarding equine nutrition/equine health. I recently had an excellent question posted to me by an astute and caring blog post reader regarding the drop in body condition score that her horse realized over winter this year, so I thought it appropriate that my first question and answer session dealt with the issue of thermoneutral zones in horses.

Equines, like all other mammals including humans, have a thermoneutral zone. This is defined as the range of temperatures in which no extra energy beyond maintenance is required to either heat or cool an animal. The bottom end of this range is called the Lower Critical Temperature (LCT), and the top end of this range is appropriately called the Upper Critical Temperature (UCT). In this post, we’ll mostly deal with the effects of exceeding the LCT.

As a very GENERAL guideline, in humid temperate areas of the United States, horses reach their LCT at around 20 degrees and reach their UCT at somewhere between 60 and 70 degrees. For our purposes here let’s say that the energy required for maintenance on a 1000 lb retiree might be in the range of 18 Mcal (18000 calories) per day.

Would that I could simply post this range, end my post, and fix all the problems in the world, but unfortunately it is quite a bit more complicated than that. SOME of the external factors that affect a horses’ thermoneutral zone can include the following:

1. Area of the country to which the horse is adapted – Horses born and raised in Florida have very different base line thermoneutral zones than do horses raised in Alaska. Generally speaking, when seasonal temperatures fall more than 10 degrees outside the normal range to which the horse is adapted, a horses’ lower or upper critical temperature will be challenged. In middle Tennessee, our typical January high temperature is around 50 degrees, and our typical overnight low is near 30 degrees, giving an average temperature over a 24 hour day of about 40 degrees. As long as ground conditions are firm and it is not raining, most of our horses can handle this sort of weather without any additional grain (or blanketing) beyond what we would normally feed.

In central Ontario, a typical January day might bring a high of 25 degrees and an overnight low of around 5 degrees. Again, if adapted to the climate, and if the weather is dry horses may do well without a blanket in these conditions, but they almost certainly will need additional energy in the form of either a) more hay or b) more grain or c) both ! During moderate, dry cold snaps here in middle Tennessee we like to increase the amount of energy fed by about 10 % (1.8 Mcal/horse/day) using more hay, a little more grain, and supplemental fat when necessary. During extreme cold events, especially with additional adverse environmental challenges, we might supplement energy by 25 % or more.

2. Environmental Conditions – Many things can combine to effectively lower the temperature your horse is feeling. High humidity on a cold day, rain, snow, sunshine, ground conditions ( ie.mud), soil temperature and wind speed all play important roles in determining the comfort of your outdoor horse as well as when it might be necessary to increase the energy in his feed. Just as we feel it more when it is 40 degrees, windy and raining as opposed to 40 degrees in bright sunshine, so do our equine companions. In this case, we always supplement energy in 5 % increments depending on just how nasty it is (or is predicted to get) outside. If appropriately fed, conditioned and provided with adequate wind and rain relief, our equine friends are very hardy and highly adaptable creatures.

3. The condition of your horse !! It’s no surprise that most wild animals go into the late fall and winter slightly over-conditioned if possible. Fat is a great insulator for our wild friends and an excellent energy source (burned to produce heat) too. Thus it should be no surprise that I like to see our retirees a little heavier in the late fall too. Obviously, BCS (body condition score) varies with every horse on the farm, but unless the horse is obese, I like to put one extra condition score on them starting in late September. This is an additional form of insurance for us, and it gives us a wider window in which to correct feeding errors (yes, we make them too !!) BEFORE anything goes seriously amiss.

Hope this is informative ! I kind of enjoy doing these posts !! :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Another horspital visit

Poco had a horspital visit back in October and unfortunately he is back in the horspital again for the exact same symptoms, only worse this time. We took him to the clinic on Friday and he is still there. Again his breathing was extremely labored and loud and again we can't find any cause. Blood work is normal, temperature is normal, hydration levels normal, no signs of infection, heart normal, everything normal except for his extremely swollen upper respiratory tract. He is even living in a different area of the farm than he was last time.

Jason and my mom with Poco in the horspital

It must be some kind of allergic reaction but we are clueless as to what that is. He has lived here for almost ten years now and never experienced this until the last few months. His pasture is basically weed free and is full of rich grass and has been for several weeks. No other horse is exhibiting these symptoms, nor did they last time. The vets (he has three vets at Tennessee Equine Hospital monitoring his case) are wondering if it is an inhaled allergen or maybe an insect sting that is causing the problem. So please extend Poco some healing wishes and I hope he returns home soon.

In addition to taking Poco to the clinic on Friday we also had farrier day as well. We were extra busy on Friday because we also did some "spring cleaning" and Amy and I gave eight baths, including washing and conditioning tails. My shoes were water logged and making squishing noises after about the third bath!

Jason and I also had a fun visitor this weekend as our friend Erica from Minnesota and her boyfriend Chris made the long drive to see us and to enjoy some warm weather. Their efforts were rewarded with highs in the low 80's on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We are supposed to be 80 degrees again to today before dropping back to the low-mid 70's for the rest of the week along with some rain.

Winston, our newest resident, grazing in the sunshine

Bonnie, Lexi and O'Reilly
Dogwood tree in one of the pastures
The cows having a lazy afternoon napping by the driveway
Leo and Tony
Elfin at the water trough
Cuff Links and Homer playing over the fence
I took this picture on Thursday; by Sunday all of the trees in the background had almost completely leafed out
Ogie and Asterik

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Arena Info

Thank you everyone for the compliments on my arena. Yes, I fully realize I am one spoiled gal when it comes to my arena. The arena is 100' x 225' with all weather footing, six stadium lights, an electrical outlet on each light pole and water on both long sides of the arena. With the exception of a few days in the winter I can ride in it year round as the ground doesn't freeze here in the winters (except for the mentioned few days).

As far as the footing I don't remember exactly how the whole thing was built. There is a big french drain under the arena. A lot of ground work was done to prepare for the actual footing. The ground itself was laser leveled and then watered and compacted over and over for a couple of days. Then a big piece of geotextile fabric was put down and the layers of screenings were added. I know there is bigger rock (but still not big) on the very bottom layer that was again watered and rolled/compacted repeatedly. Then several inches of quarter down were added, with each new layer being watered and compacted/rolled repeatedly as well as being laser leveled, and then finally a layer of sand was added on top. I have nine pairs of jump standards and accompanying poles.

The catch with this lovely and very well-built arena is the footing does need to be worked regularly or the sand can get a bit packed down. As long as it is drug on a regular basis this is not a problem. Which is why I finally purchased the DR Power Grader. After years of dragging the arena being a huge pain it is now quick and easy!

This picture was taken in May a couple of years ago

Now that I've bragged about my arena for three paragraphs I guess I can move on to another topic! Below is another version of a "day in pictures." All of these pictures were taken on Wednesday.

Jo and Mina, world's cutest fainting goats
Mina playing on the ramps
Playing with the Winnie the Pooh ball
Missy down for a nap while Harmony grazes nearby
The one Canada Goose is still hanging around
Dustin in the front and Baby behind him
Horses on the move; Homer in the back and Apollo and Levendi up front
Sparky coming to see me
Hi Sparky

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Day in PIctures

It has been a pretty typical week around the farm so far. No lost (and found) phones, no new horses, no new pieces of equipment . . . just the usual stuff. I quite like it that way! We are still working away with shedding tools in hand. Several of the horses are completely done shedding at this point. Most of the horses are done on their necks, shoulders, hindquarters and along their toplines and just have the lower half of their sides and the bottom of their stomachs left to finish shedding.

Jason has also been working away at shedding out Mina and Jo, the fainting goats. He has mainly used the furminator on them. Mina is completely done shedding while Jo is just starting to really shed. The girls love their grooming sessions! They stand on their "castle" which is a small 40 gallon water trough turned upside down.

I have now used my DR Power Grader to drag my arena twice. I can hardly believe the arena has been done twice in the last week! It is so nice to just hook up the Power Grader to the Kubota and get the ring done without fooling around with tractors and unhooking other equipment, etc. The Power Grader does a great job on the arena and I am very happy with it for those who asked about it.

Since it is now just past midnight I am going to sign off and go to bed. All of these pictures were taken today (Tuesday).

Two gray geldings, Asterik and Sebastian
Two gray mares, Harmony and Buffy (one day I'm going to have a "which gray is that?" contest since we have so many of them here!)
Clay scratching an itch
Chili, Lucky and Snappy
Henry and Trillion were having a grooming session
One freshly drug arena

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lost and Found

I mentioned in my last post that I lost my cell phone. How annoying is that? I decided to ride out in the pastures while I had the chance. We had a couple of the pastures resting and I love riding out in the field and I don't get to do that as often as I would like since they're usually all occupied. Sometime while riding either Bonnie or Lexi my cell phone holder fell off, taking my cell phone with it.

I spent quite awhile walking around out in the pasture calling my cell phone with Jason's cell phone. I never found it. I've said before that Jason is the best husband ever, and he volunteered to go get me a replacement phone on Friday since I would be busy all day with the farrier. It was out of his way to go to the Verizon store as well but he went cheerfully. Quite frankly I hate phones of any sort and didn't miss that stupid phone ringing one bit. The problem is I'm never inside to either answer or use our home phone so I guess a cell phone does has its advantages. So even though I loved the idea of not replacing it that didn't really seem to be an option.

Of course as I cut across the pasture in question late Friday afternoon while I was finishing up dinner feeding what did I happen to trip over? Of course it was my cell phone, still in its holder. The battery hadn't even run down completely and it showed the almost 40 missed phone calls where I had called it repeatedly trying to find it. As I walked back to the house Jason happened to drive up just then. He rolled down his window to pass my new phone to me. I sheepishly held up the "lost" phone that I had just found. Thankfully we both managed to find our sense of humor about this and chose to laugh over the $305 we had just spent replacing my no longer lost phone. Unfortunately I had just replaced my phone back in September as the previous phone succumbed to being submerged in a water trough (I really think subconsciously I'm trying to get rid of my cell phone). Since it hadn't been long enough for me to simply pay the upgrade fee (or whatever it is called) to get a new phone as I had just done that in the fall Jason had to pay full retail price. So I now have two identical phones.

Other than that I haven't done anything else particularly stupid or newsworthy in the last few days. We did have a new arrival last week who has been quite fun to be around his first week. His name is Winston and I haven't had time to properly introduce him yet. He is a very pretty bay thoroughbred gelding who joins us from Florida. Winston is pretty in love with having good grazing which is the usual reaction from our newcomers.

Cuffie also began introductions with his new roomies over the last few days. He will be living with Missy the pony and the two gray mares, Buffy and Harmony. I introduced him to Missy and they hung out for a minute while Buffy and Harmony ignored him. Buffy and Harmony ignore any newcomer for the first week or so and then all of a sudden one day they decide that the newcomer is their new best friend and become permanently herd bound to the party they were previously ignoring and overly attached. I can't explain it, it is just what they do! They ignore and then one day they can't live without you.

Cuffie decided to introduce himself to the geldings on the other side of the fence while Missy grazed and the two gray mares ignored him. He proceeded to attempt to bite 18.1 hand Apollo on the nose and then play with him over the fence. I think he does realize that it is fun while they are on different sides of the fence but would not be so fun if they were on the same side of the fence. Cuffie seems to be smart that way! Cuffie has also been very vocal about being back in his stall in the evenings. He definitely seems to prefer being out in the middle of things.

I hope everyone had as nice of a weekend as we had here on the farm!

Jason and Cuff Links (Cuffie) walking through the pasture
Cuffie introducing himself to Apollo over the fence
Cuffie nipping Apollo on the nose; Apollo seemed to find this cute and played with Cuffie over the fence for a minute
Relaxed horses grazing on Saturday
Chance grazing
Elfin and Leo in the front (you can see a glimpse of Baby behind Elfin) with Dustin and Levendi in the back
Henry and Faune practicing for a pairs class
Winston trotting across the paddock checking out his new place last week