Sunday, August 28, 2011

Some pictures...

Jazzy (and the tree that Kaci killed... he stepped on it)

Kaci - For whatever reason, he prefers the barn during the day. Probably because of the flies.

Chili (with part of Angel in the background) It's weird but he stands like this all the time!

Foxy - She was being harrassed by a horsefly and I caught her shaking her head. The battery in the camera died right after this shot, so I'll have to get some pics later.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Change happens all the time. Most of the time its subtle and not a big deal. But there are times when change is big and scary and hits you with reality that feels like a Mac truck!

Mike and I are facing a BIG change. Calm down, not divorce....

On July 28, Mike got a layoff notice along with 1900 other people. We were warned ahead of time and knew it was a possibility. We were rattled and talked about it and said "we will cross that bridge when we come to it!" Well, in our arrogance, we didn't REALLY think he would get a notice. We suddenly found ourselves on a rickety suspension bridge made of fraying twine over a chasm filled with the fog of unknown, shards of loss, and choking smoke of panic.

For three days, we holed up in the house, holding each other, staying connected, and having our own private pity party. We promised to make no decisions, commit no actions for two weeks. Any and all ideas were to be written down in a planning notebook and set aside for later review. The ONLY actions to be taken was for Mike to update his resume and apply for jobs.

It has pretty much been life as usual around here. We have tightened our belts where we can. We have laid out "what if" plans. Mike has networked with former co-workers, applied for jobs, and attended job fairs. We are looking into refinancing our house to lower our mortgage payment. By taking a little extra, our monthly payment will still be lower, and we can pay off some additional debt, lowering our total cash outlay further. We are slowly but surely figuring things out. There are two amazing prospects for employment here locally that Mike has applied for.

Millie is for sale and will remain in training until sold.

Bullwinkle will come home from training at the end of September. He has been through everything except actually ridden, due to a couple setbacks. First, the farrier flaked out and it two weeks for him to show up. Then, the equine dentist needed scheduled to remove caps and pull wolf teeth. Finally, there was the fight over accepting the bit. He doesn't want to and because he is so big, the trainer can't MAKE him. So we discussed options and he is going into a sidepull.

The rest of the horses at home are fat grass-fed air puffs, with the exception of Angel. I will try to get pictures this weekend and get them posted. My computer crash and I have to beg Mike to use his...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tips and Tricks

It’s hot out and I really don’t want to spend much time outside, so I thought I would post some tips and tricks that I have learned along the way.

Apple Cider Vinegar – I use it to “mask” the taste of feed additions, such as beet pulp, or a less than yummy supplement. The raw vinegar can be fairly expensive BUT it does have medicinal benefits like flushing the kidneys. (Similar to humans drinking cranberry juice) The distilled vinegar doesn’t have all the good properties, but it won’t hurt the horses.

Algae in water tubs – Scrub with a sturdy toilet brush, one bought specifically for the water troughs, at least once a week. Rinse, then pour two or three cups of apple cider vinegar in the tub and using the brush, swish the vinegar round and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrub and green spots, then rinse. While refilling, add some apple cider vinegar. I use 3 cups in a 100 gallon Rubbermaid tank. I also let the horses drink the tank almost completely empty, dump it, rinse it, then refill. Add vinegar every time.

Shots – Like a lot of horse people, I do not like to give shots. I MUCH prefer letting the vet do it, or in the case of a round of antibiotics, using the feed through kind. Problem is: it tastes NASTY and the horses will refuse to eat it if the taste and smell is not masked. I wet the grain with apple cider vinegar (another reason I love this stuff) which masks the smell. I also add a liberal amount of pure black strap molasses. Horses LOVE it! I know some horses have sugar issues such as cushings, but its for a very short term, normally 5 – 7 days and it beats the heck out of giving shots!

Cushings relief – there is no cure for cushings. Kali’s mare had it when we bought her. Since it was winter, we had no clue. C-Bey was an older mare and that spring she didn’t shed out. I called the former owner about it and she said “Oh yeah, she has cushings. You can get meds from the vet to help, or you can just body clip her.” I found out that ground chaste berries would help naturally. I found a supplier in Canada and used a cheap coffee grinder to grind the berries just before feeding. The next spring, the mare came into heat and completely shed out. This was the first heat cycle the mare had in the previous 5 years and it was a doosey!

Thin hoof walls – “Milk for thick and Biotin for quick” Sounds crazy but it DOES work! My appy mare Angel had a year of horrific feet – thin and brittle. I bought the powdered milk that comes in the individual packets and would give her ½ the packet in the morning, and the other half in the evening. I also fed her HorseGuard 2x Biotin (32 mg biotin per ounce – the highest concentration I could find) Within 4 weeks, you could actually SEE the thicker hoof wall growing down. I had her trimmed every 5 weeks – just rasping, to prevent huge chunks breaking off.

TuffStuff – I also used this on my mare Angel. It seals the hoof wall after a farrier visit and rasping. I applied it once a week after the initial two coats, and it smells like fingernail polish!

Unsalted butter – for really dry hooves, I will hose the horse’s hooves, pat dry with a paper towel, then rub unsalted butter onto the coronet band. Apply twice a week. I don’t know why, but it works.

Sore soles – the stinky brown liquid comes in a little bottle with a flip up squirted nozzle in the cap. It tightens the sole so it’s not so ouchie…

Swollen eye lids – I have found that this is usually from continually rubbing the eye on a front leg due to flies. A fly mask works wonders, or a roll-on fly repellent.

Fly Repellent – I was told about these but haven’t actually tried them.

 Mix 50/50 LOC (from Amway) and baby oil and spray it on the manure, or “dirty” spots in the barn.
 Mix 50/50 LOC and water can be used on your horse daily as a fly repellent.
 Mix 1/3 LOC, 1/3 water, and 1/3 baby oil - on-horse fly repellent that last longer.
 Mix 50/50 Avon Skin So Soft and baby oil

Non-chemical Parasite Control – medical grade diatomaceous earth. Add 1/8 cup to grain daily. It won’t hurt the horse but the microscopic razor-like exoskeletons of the diatoms kill the parasites.

Sand Ingestion – Bullwinkle gifted me with a scare like this. For 5 days every month, I mix together the below listed ingredients:

1 pound Purina Strategy
2 pounds whole oats
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup PLAIN Metamucil or similar brand
Drizzle with molasses.

Cuts and Scrapes – I am very much opposed to stitching and wrapping cuts! I think that leaving it open to the air, if I can keep flies and dirt out of it, is the best thing for the horse. So far, I have only had one injury that required stitching. (knocking on wood) But I have had multiple superficial cuts and scrapes – meaning they go through the skin, but not into the underlying tissue. For these types, I spray Healing Tree Wound Spray to flush the wound, then I blot the excess moisture and apply Healing Tree T-Zone Cream. One time. Two times if I feel guilty or the wound is a little weepy. Then I leave it alone. The T-Zone seals the wound and allows it to heal from the inside out. (It also works on human scrapes and minor cuts.)

Proud flesh – using a body brush, gently scrub off the loose crumbly granular junk, then slather liberally with T-Zone Cream. Do this twice daily until the granular junk is no longer present, then just the cream for 5 more days. I have had big yucky hunks of proud flesh come off, leaving behind pink, healthy skin. One more application as this point to “seal” the wound and I’m done. No scar.

Sarcoid – I have had two youngsters develop sarcoids. I used Xterra, applied twice daily with a rubber glove, for one week. I have heard that Indian Mud will also work.

Trailering issues – We have one mare that is a nighmare in the trailer. She will load and stand fine, but once the divider is in place, she starts backing out. She will hit the fastened divider, go forward, back up, repeat. The ENTIRE trip she will do this. At 60 MPH, it sets the trailer to swaying. We now let her ride in reverse. She is loaded first and backed in to the front hole. The next horse in MUST be a barn neighbor, or if we can, we leave the center hole open. I have hauled other horses that has minor issues with trailering. By leaving them loose, they ALL move to the very front, turn and put their butt where their head should be and ride in reverse, and are quiet for the entire ride.

Feed - beet pulp, hay pellets (alfalfa, orchard, or timothy) and hay cubes are your friends! Especially for thin or older horses with teeth problems. Soak in warm water and feed in frequent small portions - no more than they will eat because it goes rancid fairly quickly. Add apple cider vinegar or molasses to the beet pulp at the beginning to get them used to the taste. You can reduce the amount over a week and they'll be snarfing it up in no time! Throw them some flake hay for something to much on.

So there ya go. Some of my tips and tricks. Feel free to add your own!

Now go hug your horses!